I’m an Ice Princess

While I seem to have aggravated my weird shoulder blade issue and have to deal with sharp jabs, I’m doing just fine this evening. Mainly it’s because I got my scary hair taken care of.

It was too long and too grown out. But it looks spunky.

It was a bit challenging getting to Austin, though. My first delay was when a guy who lives down the road asked for a ride back from his broken motorcycle. He was nice. And they have cattle dogs, so of course he was. I’m glad I did that, because when I thought of texting the salon to say I might be late, I realized I didn’t have my phone. Sigh.

And of course, there were poky trucks and a construction delay to deal with. But, ha, I was only one minute late.

Blue hair and red face. It was hot under there.

I always enjoy talking to my stylist, Danny, who I have a lot in common with. He asks good questions, too. And I was excited to see they had a new bleach product that turned my hair quite blue. It was excellent and so relaxing to just sit there and process. Yesterday evening was hard. I needed to zone out.

So snowy and white.

When it was done and toned, it was eerily white. I think we have the ingredients for Ice Princess hair. I rewarded myself with a trip across the street to the Randall’s supermarket. I went there mostly to look at the flowers, which are always amazing for a small grocery. It didn’t disappoint. But I just got pineapple and some sandwich rolls.

And canned wine. Tastes okay and is pretty.

And now I’m cozy in the weird Doubletree hotel, listening to a strange noise that sounds like waves crashing on the shore. Austin Beach. That’s okay. I have wine, knitting, Olympics. Oh, and horse videos of the pattern I have to do with Drew.

That’s some white hair.

Baby, It’s Cold Inside (Or, weird hotels I have known)

That’s right, blog readers, I am in yet another hotel. I had to be in Austin today for a couple of appointments, and I didn’t want to miss a whole lot of work driving to Austin and back from the ranch. The original plan was to stay at a friend’s house, but their guest room was full of boxes, and my back (and pelvic area) can’t take even a pretty and spacious couch right now. So, I booked two nights in the hotel closest to the Bobcat neighborhood.

This was quite modern in the 1990s.

I’ve looked at this hotel for what, 25 years now, but hadn’t been in it until last night. It’s an older one that has obviously seen lots and lots of conferences and workshops, but thanks to COVID has a lot of empty space. I got the corner room on the top floor, facing the courtyard, which gives me an interesting view of scaffolding.

View from my room

I thought it would be quieter, but the bartender, a fun Cantonese woman, assured me that sound travels up and echoes around. Sure enough, it does. But there are not many people around, so it’s okay. She said a month or two ago there was a film crew in the hotel, and it got VERY loud. Yes, I had myself an Old Fashioned at the bar last night. There was only one creepy person there. I ended up with two drinks, because the bartender didn’t like how the first one came out. Fine with me.

Trusses, up close and personal.

I had dinner last night with Anita at a teeny-tiny Japanese restaurant at the Arboretum, which brought back fond memories of when I first moved to Austin and the kids’ dad worked in the office building next to the shopping center. We spent a LOT of time at the bookstore and Thundercloud Subs. Hey, that’s where the Japanese restaurant is now.

We took a walk around the shops after dinner, and they were all closed except this really cool space full of things by local Austin artists. I wanted one of everything, but just got Anita a candle holder made out of tiny skulls. The place is called ArtUs Co Shop, and will only be open through the holidays, sigh. I knew I shouldn’t have put off checking the place out. If you are in Austin and need to buy gifts, go there. It’s like the Armadillo Bazaar only less crowded.

Anyway, about this cold. Wow is this hotel quirky. The staff are GREAT, though. But the hallway to my room is colder than it was in Colorado, and my room has stayed a brisk 67 degrees since I got here. It’s fine at night, since there are my beloved Hilton linens and pillows to keep my cozy, but while I have been trying to work, I’ve turned into an ice cube.

Brr.

I told them at the front desk, and they brought me a warm blanket (just as nice as the warm cookie upon check in). But, no one has come to work on the heat issue.

I do love the down comforters on these Hilton beds.

I went to get coffee to warm up, and the front desk clerk said to get nice fresh coffee upstairs. The server rolled her eyes and said they ALWAYS send people up there for coffee without pointing out that it costs $3. I got mine free because I had been downstairs earlier for a quirky but delicious breakfast. They sort of have a restaurant at the hotel, but not really. I did like the breakfast potatoes a lot, even though I think they made me sick. I ate along with an assortment of bald business dudes and younger couples whose male members wore gimme caps. Every single male under 40 had one on.

If I’m frozen to this desk, Anita knows where I am.

I think I like cold and quirky hotels, to be honest. They have character, like Valdoro Lodge in Colorado did. I can overlook the ill-fitting hallway carpet and random buzzing noises as well as the outlets that will not charge my phone. I have peace and quiet, which means I got so much work done already today that my boss is probably mentally telling me to stop. I did stop to eat a Kind bar and blog during “lunch hour.”

I look forward to seeing my old neighbors tonight, so I hope to have more to report tomorrow. At the ranch, the horses all got out of the pasture, but Lee says they are fine. Did I forget to lock a gate? I wouldn’t put it past me! And in final ranch news, I am told the pool will get worked on again Friday or Monday. As Lee’s dad would have said, “We’ll see.”

Book Report: Greenlights

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Did you think I wasn’t reading anymore? Not the case; I’m reading a long-ass book about working equitation and a book in my color series, on green. But, this green-themed book showed up yesterday, so I diverted to read it on a very rare rainy July day.

I didn’t jump to read Greenlights, by Matthew McConaughey, the moment it came out last year, because I was busy reading other stuff. But, my love of memoirs by quirky people got the best of me, and when I was ordering another book, I stuck this one in my order. I’m glad I did, because this book is a fun adventure to read and a nice break from some of the “celebrity” books I’ve seen.

My favorite thing is that MM (as I’ll call him, to keep from having to type his surname over and over) is unabashedly honest about himself, which makes reading about his personal and spiritual journey am unexpected joy. As you probably know, one of my favorite pastimes is learning how different people “tick,” and MM gives you a lot of insight into how he got to be the way he is today. His morality is very consistent, and when he sees himself deviating, he goes off and works on it, by gosh. It’s no wonder one of the reviews on the back of the book is by Lee’s hero Ryan Holliday, the modern Stoic guy.

And, yes, it’s a philosophy book as well as a memoir. I’ll admit that some of the stuff seemed to be a bit simplistic, but I didn’t disagree with any of it, either. And I certainly enjoyed how he presented his ideas in photos of sticky notes, bumper stickers, and images of his hand-written notes from various stages of his life. Seeing someone else’s unedited thoughts is quite insightful, and I admire MM for sharing them!

A sample of the book’s layout.

About the Book Itself

Something else I liked about this memoir is the book itself. I like it when a publisher takes a chance and makes a book’s design a feast for the eyes. The physical book itself is even different in a good way. The book jacket is not the size of the book, and is on lovely paper. Then, when you open the book, you’re greeted with all sorts of photos and words inside the cover. This part contributes a lot to the story of MM, and is a delightful surprise.

The book itself has a theme, and by gosh, it sticks to it. MM talks about “greenlights” in his life, which are signals he’s on the right path. The color green appears in the section dividers, in the Venn diagram used to mark sections within chapters, and every time he says “greenlight.” The use of a typewriter-style monospaced font in any content that’s a poem or a philosophical break helps you keep track of what’s in the narrative and what’s an aside. Plus, the bits in MM’s handwriting show what isn’t edited at all.

Section head.

The Content

The other thing I want to say about this book is that it does what I like best in an introspective book, and that’s to NOT go on and on about every famous person the author encounters, every fancy thing the author ever did, etc. Instead, MM focuses on his own thought processes and introduces only people who let him toward his greenlights, most of whom aren’t all that famous (though a few are). His humility seems genuine, not a put-on, and you end the book not thinking how great it was to get to know a movie star, but rather how great it was to follow a man and learn from his insights as he grows and changes. (I also enjoyed reading about his times in Austin, which brought back memories.)

Why I sat and read all day yesterday.

Nope, MM is not much like me at all, but he earns my respect for being true to his ideals, for learning from his mistakes, and for focusing on what he learns from all his experiences. Well, in that way, he IS like what I’d hope to be!

By the way, I read the book by first reading through the narrative part (the “regular book” bits) so that I could keep track of the passage of time, then I went back and read all the inserts and philosophical asides. Those parts are timeless, though it’s cool to figure out where MM was on his journey when he wrote his notes.

So, if you like modern philosophy, spiritual growth, or funny stories about wrestling on other continents, playing bongos naked, or any combination of the above, you’ll like Greenlights. You might even start looking at your life’s challenges in a more positive way.

When It Rains, It’s Wet

Ya know, because of the pandemic and all, Lee and I don’t go anywhere very often. But, today we really had to go to Austin, since my car has a tire with a big ole bubble in it that needed to be fixed, and we hadn’t given my son and his partner anything for Christmas yet (we knew what they needed/wanted).

I wish.

Naturally, today is the day it finally rained some real rain, rather than in dribs and drabs and hundredths of inches. It’s the big storm that’s going to mess up New Year’s for the “important” parts of the US, i.e., the east coast. We always need rain, so yay for the weather.

Except we had to drive, and Lee doesn’t like driving in the rain, even in his new vehicle with the spooky features like adaptive cruise control. Nonetheless, I’m the one in the family who does what they say they will do when they say they will do it, so off we went.

Rain and drenched Christmas decorations.

Yep, it rained a lot. But, there were fun clouds to look at (especially if you were in the passenger seat, I grant that). We managed to find the Costco store in south Austin, and got somewhat wet going in there. Still, the trip was a success, because though the store looked crowded, people were distancing themselves like old pros, AND we found a darned large television for a good bit less than $300. In my mind those cost three or four times that much, so that was a deal (and the picture quality was great!). Plus, the rain let up while we loaded the car.

We easily found the apartment complex of the young folks (Lee had never been there, since he doesn’t go to Austin unless he HAS to), and handed over the television in the parking lot, avoiding any meetings in confined quarters. They appeared to be pretty thrilled.

They look sneaky to me.

Then, they gave me a VERY thoughtful gift that they’d looked hard for on Ebay. Sniff. That was so sweet. And, off Lee and I went again. No dilly dallying.

It will do.

The new car told us in no uncertain terms that we needed to get gas, so we planned to stop halfway home. The horses and chickens needed food, and I needed a calendar to mark horse feedings on (because SmartPack, the supplement supplier, didn’t send us a calendar for the first time in many years!).

Well, our luck with the rain ended there. A real downpour began, and there was no way to avoid a real soaking. My boots, pants, sweater, and most of all my hair…all soaked through. I looked like a young man of some sort who just swam across a lake, and no amount of SnapChat filtering would fix it. I did laugh a lot at myself, which confused Lee, poor guy.

To be honest, I’m blathering a bit, because I am sad. I’m happy I got to write about Carlton. And I’m so glad I got to see the kids today, because this week has just been chock full of bad news that really isn’t blog material. And no, it’s not all people from our business, though our staff and clients have gotten some raw deals from the hands of fate, that’s for sure.

The worst. Today I found out a young man I’d always liked passed away in a house fire, and that was just the last straw. My heart just aches for his parents and sister, who have always been incredibly kind to me.

Please tell people you care about that you’re there for them. I’m gonna even tell the son who won’t speak to me. Because I do still care.

Flowers at Lake Austin

Among many things I did today, I took an impromptu trip to Laguna Gloria on Lake Austin. I’ll share some of the sculptures later, but I thought tonight I would share some of the plants. Enjoy the photo essay.

Panicled tick trefoil

I uploaded 40 or so images to iNaturalist. That was fun! Most were trees and such.

Pink Mexican ruellia

Some identification may be wrong. I’ll fix them if I find out.

Prairie acacia
Continue reading “Flowers at Lake Austin”
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