* * * * * * * *

I am back on the mainland and blogging from Seattle with South Austin in the rearview mirror. Don't worry Virgin Island fans, I will most certainly be back in the Caribbean for visits if not full-time. And I'm sure St. Thomas will creep it's way into many future posts. For now, it's all about living in the Pacific Northwest!

March 27, 2016

The Pacific Northwest Part One: Dark Days and the Seattle Freeze

I'm sure that my two or three readers (mostly my family) have long ago stopped looking for new posts from me but I figured I'd provide an update anyway. After all, this is therapy for me. Therapy that I noticed I neglected and needed. I noticed further that the reason I hadn't posted was that I was avoiding the wrath of a particular individual that would have surely been stoked by any post regardless of the tone or content. Eff that! That's very easy to say after so long.

That said, here's the update... just in case anyone out there was curious.

I did make it to Seattle shortly after my last post - nearly two and a half years ago now, full of hope and optimism... and quite sure I was making a great decision. Yay!

The best laid plans right? Hmpf! First, my moving company who ironically is named Ship Smart lost all my possessions in a warehouse in Austin for three weeks. It took nearly six before "most" of my stuff arrived (along with "some" of other people's stuff) which meant I spent the first month camping... and not the good kind of camping. When my things finally arrived, everything was double-boxed. This was a very expensive special service that I had specifically declined. No joke... 400lbs of cardboard. I know this because a friend weighed it at a truck stop before responsibly recycling it. By now, I was on a first name - speed dial basis with the owner of the company and called him gurgling beneath the ocean of boxes, he informed me that he regrettably must charge me for the extra care taken by his employees (contractors).  No no Sir. I took a deep breath and gave him my bottom line which was basically fuel and labor. Hey I'm reasonable but I draw the line at storage cost. We had a deal as long as I didn't write any negative reviews or publicly relate this story!

My temperament continued to deteriorate during these dark days of winter. I don't even mind the rain... really... I don't! But short days and a lack on sun do a number on me. Utter darkness at 3:30pm is just not natural. Even the "happy light" that my Secret Santa gave me for Christmas didn't seem to help. I decided to make friends. The traveling that I have done and the Southern hospitality that I'm used to has made me one of those people who has never met a stranger. But for the first few months, everyone that I met gave me the "have you heard about the Seattle Freeze thing... it's real" talk. What is the Seattle Freeze you ask? Well, Urban Dictionary says "People are insincere. Norms of social interaction don't apply here. Most people don't like or dislike you, they're totally indifferent. Every interaction will be maddeningly superficial." Oh there's more to it than that. If you care, look it up. But the thing is this... it's an excuse to be a flake. I noticed that the people who wanted to warn me of the phenomenon, were the one's who relied on it to excuse their behavior. 

As with most other times in my life, the big plans and vision for my future in the NW turned out to  look very different than I had thought. But, despite the failure of opening a business with a great friend (sadly, both the business and the friendship), I have again landed in a place where I feel at home and in an unlikely job that I didn't know I would love. It's slow going getting back on my feet but the opportunity for PTO and a steady paycheck has me feeling optimistic. Also, it took awhile but my Southern charm and winning sense of humor won out and despite their best efforts, Seattlites have grown to love me as I have grown to love them and this emerald, quirky and vibrant city. So, no more posts about my next big idea (that is most likely a lie), and most definitely no more posts about pie.

Spring is coming and is sure to bring lots of stuff to be noticed!  

October 8, 2013

Y'all come back now?

I haven't been too forthcoming lately about stuff that I notice. But I have noticed a lot. Unfortunately, it has all been blowing by me at break-neck speed. For some months now, I have been hatching a plan and placing bets to make a move to the Pacific Northwest. Specifically Seattle. Nearly a year ago, a friend and I started a little company in Seattle called Yippie-Pie-Yay. We wanted to see if we could sell individual and portable versions of the delicious pies that my business partner was making. Turns out... we could! After  success at both local farmers markets and the Bite of Seattle, we decided to expand into a brick and mortar store. We've all heard versions of this story a hundred times and each with varying degrees of success and yet...

I was immediately aware that I had no idea what it would take to do this but hell, we had made it this far on a shoestring (cutting corners on everything but the quality and care taken in making the product). How hard could it be?

So I resigned from my job with the State of Texas which was the most secure job I have probably or will probably ever have. I packed up all my stuff and waived as it drove off in the moving van. I put my condo on the market. I loaded my little GTI with everything that Izee owns which left only space for a a small suitcase of mine.

With frazzled nerves and a knot in my stomach, I was finally heading towards the beautiful Northwest. I stopped to take a photo of the Elven when after ten stimulating hours of driving, we were finally close to the Texas border.  Muleshoe is used in Texas telecom speak to illustrate the smallest of customers and is frequently used in a phrases like "We're not talking about Joe's Bar or Joe's Garage  in Muleshoe".  No offense to you Muleshoe (or you Joe).

As I drove, I thought about all of my friends and family and the support they had provided me with before leaving. They all believe that Yippie-Pie-Yay is going to be a great success. I still have my doubts several days later when I drive the final few hundred miles towards my new home.

Passing through the mountains nestled in clouds is quite a change of scenery but I don't dread the damp weather that I know I'm in for. Instead, I am awed by the variety, height and colors of the trees. The landscape stretching before me in great contrast to the dry plains of Texas.

"This is going to be good", I think. "Change is good... no risk, no reward, etc." Water is ahead of me, feeding the environment, the people and the land of the Northwest. Yippie-Pie-Yay and I are going to be a success! Yippie and Yay!

To be cont.

August 3, 2013

Local Color

I was very sorry to see that the AM/PM animal hospital on South Lamar changed their sign from "I like big mutts and I cannot lie" to "fleas?... ain't nobody got time for that."

June 16, 2013

Stuff I Remember

The obituary in the Chicago Tribune, describes my Aunt as "Mary Therese Jeffers, age 68 of Wilmette, IL. Dear sister of Martin (Martha) Jeffers and the late Kathleen Markey; loving aunt of 9 and great aunt of 6; devoted daughter of the late Martin and Juliette Jeffers."

Mary Therese was those things. She was also many and much more: daughter, sister, godmother, friend, confidant and counselor, storyteller,family historian, and Irish lass. To me, she was Aunt Terry, the guardian of 2627 Lake Avenue and my happiest childhood memories.  Though my family lived in a different neighborhood, this house built by my grandparents is the one where I grew up. And will always be my Chicago home.  The trees still tower over the yard where my sisters and cousins and I played, our bare foot prints in the soft grass. 

Chicago Tribune Obituary
When I learned that she had gone, my inner child threw a tantrum. In my head, I was stomping my feet and shaking my fists and out loud saying "No! No! No! No! No! " Never at a loss for words, funny that was the only word that would come. I wanted so much for it not to be true, for there to have been some grievous error. But there was no error. Aunt Terry, the brightest spot in any day I spoke with her, was gone.

Images of times spent with her rush at me. In almost all of them, she is laughing. She laughed easily. The laugh I hear most is one that started from nothing and came out high and quick. My oldest male cousin does a great impression. The quick burst with her head thrown back, the ones that went on and on, finally tapering off with a "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!", the talking laugh (my mom and sister do that too).

She was strong, opinionated, and stubborn as a summer day is long. She never failed to tell me when I was making a bad decision and was always my biggest fan when I succeeded. This was true for everyone in her life. She knew where we were, what we were doing and we knew each other through her. She wove a strong thread through our lives and bound us together. Over the last several days, I heard from so many how she touched their lives and how much she was loved. And from all, stories of how they had laughed together.

They say that people most remember how you make them feel. She made me feel loved. I have never felt more at home than in her home and in her company. She knew me as a child and as a woman and was able to see and love me for who I was in all the in between. I am lucky to have known her and fortunate to have been influenced by her. My dear aunt. She lived without fear, loved unconditionally and without caution, and laughed with abandon.  My heart will forever hold her near and fondly remember the place of my happiest childhood.  

June 2, 2013

SXSW... briefly (and long overdue)

Not long ago, I was eating a chicken salad sub from Thundercloud at my desk on the thirteenth floor of the WPC building in downtown Austin when a band in the alley below started to warm up.

I had skipped both the Interactive and Film stuff this year so those warmup drum beats, guitar riffs and "check checks" were the first of my SX experience this year. Pretty soon, the band was well into their set and it became increasingly difficult for me to concentrate. I swear they were doing a cover of "Dr Who" that lasted a good forty minutes. WTF? 

Behind the incessant "Hey!"s of the alley crowd, I could hear a cacophony of bands playing bars and clubs below.  The buzz of SXSW is contagious and the electric hum that it brings to the city was heating up.  Outside of the film premiers and the App launches, and the upcoming all VIP shows like Prince and Justin Timberlake, the local news reported on the evolving effects of SXSW on the city of Austin. Last year, the "homeless hotspot" marketing ploy garnered a lot of grief from both within and outside of the city. This year, in an effort to "employ" instead of "exploit" the homeless, Austin's Mobile Loaves and Fishes employed the homeless which prompted my favorite headline during this year's festival.  SXSW food carts turn homeless into entrepreneurs. Back to the music... 

My SXSW plan this year was brief: one morning at the W Hotel with KGSR for their live tapings and the Rachel Ray party at Stubbs. I'm not a reviewer and could care less about finding the right words to describe the musical experience of SXSW. There's enough musicians and experts in this city that do a much better job than me anyway. But I know what I like and I'm happy to share it with you and provide links to other sites so you can experience some of what I like. One of my new favorites is Elle King.  I caught her last year and have followed her since. She's adorable and I want to just squeeze her but instead find myself holding my breath not wanting her set to end. The highlight of the KGSR show for me was definitely the Courtyard Hounds followed closely by an amazing set by Sam Beam, better known as Iron and Wine. Even Elle King found a place on stage to watch Sam serenade and entrance the audience. As as always, whether there in person or watching live via the web, KGSR does an awesome job.

The day of Rachel Ray's Stubbs party finally arrived.  My friend and I arrived the same time this year as last year (took the 8:13am bus from my South Lamar stop downtown) but found ourselves at least another 200 people back and standing on the should of IH35. Nevertheless, we got in with the first wave... hooray! Bob Schneider went old school and it was awesome to start the day singing loudly with the crowd at Stubbs. I was looking forward to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis but had heard that they turned out a mediocre performance at Waterloo earlier in the week. Not this time. I don't know whether it was the free tequila grapefruit cocktails, the Rachel Ray snacks, or the energy of the crowd but this was a fun performance.

Delta Ray was probably my favorite act of the day. What a surprise they were. Looking totally at home and very much the rockstars that I now know they are, they brought the house down from the back stage when they closed with a Stevie Nicks cover.

Kenny Loggins closed out the show. My friends and I had been joking all day about crashing the front of the stage which we now referred to as "The Danger Zone" and wondered incessantly whether or not he was allowed to play Footloose any more since giving the rights to Chase Bank.  So how did it go down? We did crash into the "Danger Zone" and he did sing it all and he looked super cool doing it.  All in all, another successful Rachel Ray / Stubb's SXSW event. This will definitely stay on my agenda for next year (though we might have to take the 7:51 bus instead).

And in case you need proof of how cool Kenny is, here's some pics to back it up!

So, better late than never right? Don't answer that! As the proprietor of a new business that involves delicious pie, my next installment will most likely be about Yippie-Pie-Yay, so stay tuned. Or if you love pie and can't wait, check out the Yippie-Pie-Yay Blog now!

February 26, 2013

South Lamar - Past, Present, Future?

No matter where you live in Austin, it's a pretty safe bet that you have been stuck in traffic on South Lamar at some point.  

Me? I live on Lamar. I work on Lamar.  

Day after day, I watched as my neighbors had their final sales, loaded up what was left, and finally drove away. With little fanfare, the trucks came in and tore it all down (or up). 

The eclectic shops of South Lamar Plaza are no more. The drugstore is still close by but, no more double-drive-through Thundercloud, no more Casa G's happy hours and no more Bitch'in Threads. At least I've still got Maudi's! 

The incessant noise and dust have just begun and with the start of the Hanover project, has gotten worse. While sipping coffee this morning, I tried to remember what it was like just a few short months ago. I am all for change and honestly, you might as well do it all at once. But I am saddened that soon I will have only a five story building to look at instead of trees and train. 

You can find more information about the South Lamar Plaza project here. Information about the Hanover South Lamar project in this Austin American Statesman article.  But wait, there's more. The Gibson Flats are well under way and 704 at the Spoke has kicked off. What a picture the Broken Spoke makes in the middle of all that "progress"! 

Though with all these changes come sadness... I will finish this post with a quick list of things that bring me hope for the future of South Lamar (still not gonna call it "SoLa"... just can't). 
  • South Lamar Plaza plans for a 12,000 SqFt grocery store (there hasn't been one here since Fiesta Foods was located where Alamo South is)!
  • Odd Duck is getting a brick and mortar upgrade from their previous food truck!
  • There will be competition for High Ball and their incredibly overpriced and underwhelming service!
  • Alamo South gets to stay and gets a makeover!
  • The added parking garage at Gibson Flats might alleviate some of the neighborhood overflow!
  • Additional cafes with patio seating (and hopefully doggy friendly)?!
  • Increased property value!
Most of these projects are scheduled to complete in 2014 and Alamo will re-open long before that. Maybe then I'll get my car detailed while Izee and I sip an expresso and nosh on something yummy.

January 23, 2013

Visual Thinking Stuff! This is stuff you can do too!

Stuff I Notice VisualA few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend Allison Crow's workshop on Visual Thinking.  She is an engaging and accomplished speaker, graphic facilitator and recorder...
and she made a BIG impression on me.

At the registration desk, they handed me a new set of markers.  I was as excited about my brand new markers as I had been in grade school. Before I knew it, I was removing the caps and smelling the tips. Why do I do that?  At this point, I still wasn't sure what we were doing but I couldn't wait to get started! Our first introduction to visual thinking began with You Tube and vihart.  I've since watched many of her videos but I've included one of my favorites.

While watching, I couldn't resist the urge to doodle myself. Why not? I had everything I needed. Didn't I? As it turns out, I didn't. While I have some capabilities in the doodle department, it turns out that a little inspiration and instruction goes a long way.

With some practice in just four simple areas, I was able to communicate much much more. Beginning with the basics:


Big and bold catches the eye and there are endless ways you use these when titling areas of your graphic. Then move on to symbols, bullets and containers. Once you've got that going, challenge yourself. 

We doodled all morning, we doodled all afternoon. We drew clocks and animals, card people and star people and stick figures doing all kinds of things.

The result for me was a shift in how I take in what is being said around me, the way I toss it around in my mind, capture it and store it away. Storing what I choose to keep in these brightly colored packages is already making it easier for me to identify the right package at the right time and recall the information. Could it help you too?

Here is my 1st try at capturing a live meeting. This was a high level strategy meeting (the first of 2013) and a perfect test case for my new talent.  Well, perfect opportunity to practice anyway!

Google images is a great place to look for inspiration and ideas. There are countless other programs and applications available for download to your smart device so you can practice on the go. I've chosen to begin with Sketchbook Pro

I'm going to keep practicing and if I practice enough... I'm not holding my breath hoping to be as good as Allison Crow or any of the others who do this professionally and have true artistic talent. But I'm going to keep trying because it gives my creative flag a chance to fly.

For more inspiration, visit some of the amazing graphics in Allison's portfolio on her site at Crow Hill Conversations.

October 5, 2012

Capitol Events - October

The new Event Listing came out today for the month of October.

I was excited to see some upcoming SXSW preparatons and the full 2012 Texas Football Schedule! 
But the single event that caught my eye for this week had to be.......
(drum roll here).....

I wanted to know more. What a hook. Turns out that it is an Art exhibit for a local Austin guy named Matthew Burton. He labels himself a Brain Injury Survivor Artist. His Facebook page says that he's 30 years old and acquired his Brain Injury (notice the capitals) in 1998 at the age of 16. I might capitalize Brain Injury too! Matt has been doing art all his life but changed mediums after his accident and now paints acrylic on canvas. Like him on Facebook... I did!

September 27, 2012

Listing Out of Control

I am a lister. Not the sailing type of listing which can be quite fun and exhilarating. No, I habitually make lists. There... I've said it. I've been keeping lists for as long as I can remember. All kinds of lists. I have lists of words that I want to add to my vocabulary because they sound cool or target  an exact moment or feeling that I have yet to experience. I have lists of words that just sound cool. Lists of quotes that inspire me. I have lists of places I want to go, things I want to see, and people I want to meet. Lists of bands that I want to get acquainted with and books I want to dive into.  I have lists of things that I've heard people say out of context that make me laugh and lists of things that feel good: a thick pair of socks; a new toothbrush; head buts from a pet; dropping anchor in white bay...

But mostly, I have lists of things that I want and need to do yesterday. These should be two very separate lists yet somehow have gotten muddled together. It is this list in particular that has been growing at a rate I can't seem to keep up with.  So I plan to hunker down. Apply myself. I will report back as I make progress with this and all my lists. I'm not after check marks for the sake of check marks but check marks with a flourish!

Starting with... become an entrepreneur!

Ciao for now.

June 27, 2012

How long does the first day of Summer last?

I used to keep a log book on the boat and one at my beach hut that I used to scribble stupid questions in. I recently found myself contemplating the other side of the coin. The answers.

This was brought on by a regular notification email that I get about events that are held in, around, or affect the area around the Capitol.

All Day. I tend to answer stupid questions with answers that drip sarcasm. I see now that playing it straight can be pretty funny in official looking print. 

June 11, 2012

Capitol ROT!

The Republic of Texas "ROT" Rally took place this weekend in Austin. I'm a fan of sharing downtown with the throngs of bikers but I stayed away this year opting instead for a quiet weekend at the pool.  This picture was taken on the way home from the Cloak Room as things got underway on Friday.

Until next year... 

April 25, 2012

What happened to the Panic?

It occurred to me that my last post was titled "Palm Trees and Panic Buttons" yet through all my ramblings, I neglected to mention the panic buttons (or palm trees for that matter, though they were implied).  So... panic buttons. One of the things that I notice most is signs. I have put quite a few of them in previous St. Thomas posts: the 10 MPH speed limit signs riddled with bullet holes, Constructions begin - 300 fts, and no swimming in fountain.  This new addition can be found every 30 yards in the new parking structure across from the Red Hook Ferry Dock.

What kind of panic is being referred to here? A flat tire? Knife fight? The religious mini van with the loud speakers is following me? Crazily muscled Thomas is wearing his palm frond hat,  doing pull ups on the roll bar of my island jeep and it's freaking me out?

Jump up?

I'm quite certain that if I were to push the panic button that nothing would happen. And even if this system were connected to something, I'm certain whatever response manifested would be insufficient address the panic.

My friend captured this home-made addition on her phone while walking through Cruz Bay on St. John. It's a bit fuzzy but the second line seems to capture what island life is all about... patience! Oh, and don't even think about showing up here when you're not working.

The last "notice" from this trip was a sticker spotted on the back of a stop sign and unfortunately was not captured in photo form. But you don't need to see to feel it. Best fishing boat name ever: Fishizzle!

I'm on the lookout for some home town goodies.

April 24, 2012

Palm Trees and Panic Buttons

I always get VI fever about the time the Rolex Regatta comes around. This year, the Rolex Site added live cams and daily highlight videos which fueled the fever.  Though the BVI Spring Regatta Site isn't quite as savvy as the Rolex, I still got daily updates and photos from Facebook.  The fever intensified. It seemed years since I'd been on island (it was exactly a year ago).  I sent a note to friends and mentioned that I was thinking of visiting and I got a quick response that if I could get there by the following weekend, there was a boating trip planned. Oh yes, I could make it!  A quick phone call to Joanie and I had rented the Seaglass Studio at Stonehouse above Secret Harbor.

I arrived on Saturday was greeted by a friend, a bottle of champagne and a nice spring shower.  The champagne took my mind off the fact that my efforts at straightening my hair earlier in the day were lost as soon as I stepped off the plane. Though we took the route through town, down Donkey Hill, and past Bovoni (all on the South-side) from Cyril E. King airport to Stonehouse. I noticed that the winds were up. A Cuban friend of mine calls them the Lenten Winds since they are typical for this time of year. 

More friends joined me at my holiday studio, and we sat staring at the ocean, cocktails in hand, and tongues wagging. My only thought about the wind at that time was how good it felt coming through the windows, until we received a text from our boat Captain saying that he was canceling the trip. Boo. The following day, I received another text with a picture of the seas on the other side of the island. Though still disappointed, I had two simultaneous thoughts: I understand and forgive Captain Eric & I'm so glad I'm not working on a boat today! 

So a new plan had to be formed and Sunday Fun Day was on. Over breakfast at Molly's, a plan was made for Skinny Beach. In all my years on the island, I'd never been to Skinny Beach. All VI beaches are public beaches as long as you can get to them from the water side. However, access to this beach from the land can only be had by entering a very private, gated neighborhood. I'll not say how we gained access to this neighborhood.  But the beach is now a favorite. Unfortunately, Sunday was not the day for Skinny Beach as it was very exposed to the onslaught of those Lenten winds. It looked like the protection of Secret Harbor was needed. A few texts later and the word was out, the crew was on the way. The next several days passed much the same way. Beach, ocean (saw lots of turtles), food, cocktails, repeat. 

Highlights were a backyard "fresh catch" dinner with Cactus & Ducker (thanks Double Header for the tuna).  I spent a whole day in St. John which included an incredible ceviche and Tuna Down Now from the Beach Bar. This should be everyone's first stop after getting off the ferry in Cruz Bay. If you can't make it there, just check in with the webcam from time to time. We stopped for a cocktail at Mongoose Junction and after sharing with the bartender my disappointment that my drink did not come with blue cheese stuffed olives, he brought me a bowl of olives and a bowl of blue cheese and told me that if I did the work, I could reap the rewards. 
The rest of that day was spent walking the familiar paths between bars and of course some birthday toasts at Woody's (also has a webcam)! 

My last morning was spent back at the beach and with the ocean, the fish, and turtles. I silently said goodbye to all that surrounded me and set an intention to keep some of that feeling with me on my trip home. As I write this, I can still feel it. 

April 4, 2012

Missing Cow Located

I had gotten used to seeing the Austin Cow Parade cows on my regular route. They became friends. So when they abruptly disappeared last year, I really missed seeing them.  I missed them more than any sane person should and I missed one in particular called "Discow" for obvious reasons.  Discow lived at the corner of Lamar and 6th in front of Whole Foods.  I would give him a "you go Discow" shout out, doing a little car dance as I passed.  Yeah, I know.

I know.

Anyway... the Parade Cows were auctioned off in an event hosted by Jay Leno last November. I heard about the auction and tried (repeatedly and unsuccessfully) to convince my neighbors to pitch in our HOA reserve to obtain a cow, ANY cow.   At the end of the night, 60 cows were auctioned off for more than $1.49 million benefitting Dell Children's Medical Center and The Superhero Kids Endowment. Austin even set a record with a single cow being purchased for $150,000 which beat out the previous record set in Dublin ($146,000 featuring Waterford Crystals).  I could never have competed with the lowest purchase price of $2250 much less the high stakes for the "Vince Young Championship Longhorn" or "Cowch".

See all the Austin Parade Cows on the Cow Parade Austin Site.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, while walking through downtown the other day on my way to a SXSW film, I spied my beloved Disco Cow.  He has a new home and though not on a street that I drive on often, I do drive by on occasion and walk by more frequently than that. So, "you go Discow"!

I'm on the lookout for others. If you spy a missing cow, send me a picture and a google map!

For now...
Ciao cows!

March 27, 2012

What is it about those Bluebonnets?

I visited Lady Bird's Wildflower Center this weekend.  It's been on my shame list for a very long time.  I'm not sure why I haven't made the effort until now.  Maybe because this time of year, wildflowers find you, you don't have to find them. They are all around us. They hug every highway, dot nearly every field,  and update last year's refrigerator token kid pics. This year, they showed up as background for a surprising number of  Facebook profile pictures.

I've driven by countless times and even frequent the Veloway nearby (right across the street actually) without stopping. So, finally... this is it. Enjoy.

March 25, 2012

Rolex Day 3

The Rolex 2012 regatta is underway and they have made some improvements to their site. Live streaming has been added as well as daily highlight videos.  I'm thinking about hopping on a plane for Nanny Cay.

March 24, 2012

Chicken 'n Waffles & Jimmy Cliff

After years of breakfast tacos and live SXSW music at the Four Seasons courtesy of KGSR, this year brought a welcome change with Chicken & Waffles at the W Hotel. The SXSW music was of course still awesome! You can check photos and videos from the live broadcasts on their site. Live streaming anytime also makes a boring day a work a lot less boring. So plug those headphones in because KGSR truly is Radio, Austin style. After a little Jimmy Cliff (the energy coming off of him was crazy... even at 8am) came some new stuff from an old favorite, Rhett Miller.
You Can Get It If You Really Want
W's Chicken n' Waffles!

I was playing hooky from work so I left after Rhett. But I was listening to the live streaming at work when I heard that day's special guests come on. Tenancious D made an appearance on the couch!

I didn't get quite enough Jimmy Cliff but I know I'll see him again on Saturday. Some friends and I have a plan to start early (9:07 am Cap Metro bus) to get in to the Rachel Ray Party at Stubbs.

But first, I finally get to see Counting Crows (free show at Auditorium Shores). I expect that they will play some old favorites along with stuff from their new covers release.

A friend and I take the short 1/2 mile walk to the park early enough to catch some of the Diamond Rugs so the atmosphere is great as we arrive. The weather is perfect, not too warm and a nice breeze. We munch on free single serve packs of hummus and Sun Chips while waiting in line at the margarita stand. While in line, my friend attempts to meet up with another friend with a series of misguided texts.  There are two sets of margarita stands. He is in front of one that is clearly not the same one. I suggest that she text that we are in front of the West stand. She looks at me, spins around, and says "what if he is facing this direction?" I don't respond but involuntarily tilt my head sideways, doglike. I see comprehension come into her eyes and we both laugh out loud.  By the way, she is a super intelligent teacher (science) and we had been sipping on margaritas for awhile at this point. So... friend located! We make our way through the crowd to the front of the stage and wait.

 As the sun goes down, the crowd fills in behind us. I snap a shot and later appreciate the smiling guy in front who I don't know.

They open with an extended version of "Round Here" that is changed enough so the crowd can't really sing along though we clearly want to.  They do the same with "Mr. Jones" but it works and I'm happy to finally catch them. I think they might be a little tired of performing these songs.

But they sound awesome and do a full set with old and new and beautiful Austin is the backdrop. The sounds of SXSW all around the city can be heard in the quiet between numbers. The Frost building is lit alternating between red and green and from this angle really looks like an owl with glowing, watchful eyes.  Afterwards, we make the short walk back home. I want to get some sleep so I'm up for the 9:07 Cap Metro.

I missed Rachel Ray's SXSW party last year and was determined to make it this year. As it is also St. Patrick's Day, I can't think of a safer, better party to be at. Free Rachel Ray Food / Free Blue Moon / Free Deep Eddy Cocktails / Train / Jimmy Cliff / Blitzen Trapper / Bob Schneider / More! Though we are early, there's already a line around the block. But the line is made up coffee swigging people dressed in green (more green than this picture portrays) ready for a party.

The line for food gets started right away and so does the music. My friends and I find a perch halfway between the stages and next to the bar. From here, we can easily make our way from stage to stage to bar to stage (and on and on and on). Rachel Ray comes on and says some nice things about Austin, Austinites, and SXSW in general and then introduces Bob Schneider.  

All the bands are great and I wiggle on my perch exchanging commentary with my friends throughout but am insistent on moving to the front for Mr. Jimmy Cliff and Train. Both are great sets and in this venue, there always seems to be a real connection between the performers and the audience. It seems especially so today. 

Although Rachel Ray does seem to be everywhere these days and I hear some exasperation with her, I have always liked her. Her food is delicious. I couldn't help but love her when she literally starts bouncing in her shoes like a little girl when Train starts playing "Don't Stop Believing". She bolts out on stage and belts out the tune with a huge smile on her face.  After the show... my group wanders downtown through 6th which is a madhouse of SXSWers and people just out for the normal St. Patrick's Day shenanigans. The city is buzzing. Although there is still one more day for films and music (the Cult is playing Auditorium Shores tonight), I'm happy to have this be my final experience for SXSW 2012. I grab a cab for home with a full belly, a song on my lips, and a happy heart.  

P.S. I discovered later that night that I could hear the Cult from my lawn. So the true end for my SXSW