Gone Dancing

There used to be a time when I would dance non-stop for several hours. I tried it again recently and found I could still dance for several hours non-stop and it's a blast so I will continue.

Stormy Monday

Last night I received a call from my friend that her house had been robbed and she asked that I come over.  I drove as fast I could to her home becoming angrier along the way because it was just so unfair. When I arrived there were already six cars parked in her driveway and in front of her house. The scene inside was ugly and chilling, everything she and her sister owned was scattered all over the floor throughout the house, a broken door, the dogs still very disturbed. They were still trying to figure out what was missing.  I was greeted with, "They took the Cria Cuervos movie you bought me." The police had just left and the place had been dusted for fingerprints. I sat with her and we began to sort through piles.

We started to come across some of her possessions I had not seen since we met twenty six years ago.  I was touched when I saw she had kept my cards, letters and little memento's from decades ago. Pictures of us from high school were all over the floor. I found the trinket box that sat on her dresser in high school and refilled it with the turquoise rings and tiny earrings I knew belonged in it. As I helped her pick up I realized just how much I love her and how we have been so lucky all these years to not only remain close friends but we have never lived far from each other. I knew the stories behind the things I was picking up and what they meant to her.

A huge rock was used to break their glass door to gain entry. The thief or thieves filled two suitcases with cameras, jewelry, DVDs, electronics, credit cards and other valuable odds and ends. He even took the last of the vintage dresses we had bought by the pound years and years ago in Del Rio when we were still high school. We could tell that he or they spent a great deal of time in her home, enough time to finish off  several bottles of liquor leaving only her Campari untouched.

Eventually we started to laugh at what the thief left behind. Despite taking her entire DVD collection he left behind anything with Hugh Grant in it. He didn't steal the Bill Callahan tickets, didn't touch her books. The four aged and worn stuffed animals from her childhood had witnessed it all and they sat just as they always had, on the shelf, while everything around them had been tossed or taken. A few hours later we found ourselves outside, laughing and carrying on as if at one of the many parties she hosted at the house. There was a call, the cops were closing in on the thief. Monday evening had become Tuesday morning.


Elizabeth. She truly never made a movie I didn't like or haven't seen. Despite all her glamour in every interview I ever saw of her she could never hide how painfully flawed and human she was and I always found that so endearing. Growing up I loved that she was so sexy and a brunette not a blonde, I wanted her eyebrows and for years I tried to look just like she did in a slip in Butterfield 8 and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

806 Pecan and 123 Hudson-Childhood Dream Houses Part 2

This country home was another favorite house of mine that has been up for sale nearly a year in Del Rio. Every morning on the way to school I would catch the homeowner, a middle aged gentleman with overalls, already out and working on something on the grounds. It sits on two acres and backs up to San Felipe Springs.

Peacocks used to roam the once green and lush lawn putting into my head that all large lawns should be graced with a few peacocks. I always wanted the car to slow down as we approached the house so I could admire the birds. There were always beautiful Quarter and Palomino horses
kept in the stables on the property. The entrance had lovely tall and reaching rose bushes creeping up the columns and two large trees shaded the entire lawn in the summer.

The home was built during the cattle boom in 1886. The interior contains an impressive stone fireplace and brick floor recovered from an old grist mill. There are maid and groundskeepers quarters.  My Grandparents always wanted to purchase the place but it never went on the market until recently. For some reason when I think of the lyrics to the song I Wish You Love, by the awesome Charles Trenet, I picture this place. It looks a bit fallen now. There was a time when the home was full of romance and I wanted nothing more than to sit on the porch at night and listen to a Victrola play songs from eras past.

This Spanish style house built in 1881 has gorgeous, old tiled floors, a pond and is surrounded by eighteen 100 year old trees. The oldest Magnolia tree in the state is said to live here. This house used to transport me to Italy or Spain. It was easy to feel far away from the small southwest Texas town I lived in when I stood in front of this house. It has been up for sale for several months.

These houses inspired countless stories,  dramas and romantic notions in my head as I was growing up. I wondered about the very first occupants and what they were like and how they decorated their homes. I could almost picture the photographs they took in these houses. Then I would put myself in them.

1201 Griner-Childhood Dream Houses Part 1

This house in Del Rio, TX has been on the market for nearly a year. It sits on the street we would take to my Grandmother's house. When we were kids, everytime we'd pass by it  my brother and I would stop talking and immediately point and say,  "My house!" Whoever said it first "won the house" and could say what they would do to it if they owned it. I always said I would have peacocks roaming the grounds, my brother wanted a tree house and we both wanted a pool. 

Del Rio has it's share of grand mansions and some modest mansions such as this one. In fact, for a small town it has a bit too many mansions. These are left over from it's golden days as the Queen City of the Rio Grande. Plenty of wealthy ranchers lived in the town.

The Griner House house was built in 1941 and has maid's quarters, a gorgeous staircase and an elegant sun room that looks like a small ballroom. When my brother and I spotted it for sale we thought, if only.  It is being offered at a fraction of the price it would cost in a place like Austin. The entire time we lived in Del Rio this house never went up for sale. It still inspires daydreams and brings back fun memories. I have to say I would still add peacocks and a pool in the backyard and roses. I can't imagine how I would ever begin to fill it though...and here come the daydreams.

Look Up Tonight

You wouldn't want to miss the Perigee Moon would you? It's just about time so going out to watch it with my new friend Olive.

I have waited all week for this moon and then I waited all day. I found it difficult to stay indoors, I just wanted to be outside today and managed to spend most of the day outdoors.  Perhaps this was the  result of a beautiful spring day or the moon drawing me out. Catching sight of it made me so happy. We won't have another event like this until 2029 and I don't know where I'll be in 18 years. But for some reason I just feel that this is the moon I will remember should I be lucky enough to live a full life.  As the sun started to set the breeze picked up and became a wind that reminded me of the beach.

Every now and then there is a most memorable day one that is filled with poignant moments and conversations. Earlier today I had a lovely and long awaited brunch with my girlfriends. Because of our busy schedules it was planned back in January. The topic of sustainability came up and we all talked about our gardens, rain barrels and plans for solar powered homes. We compared our composters and kicked around homesteading ideas. I love hearing my friends say they want goats, land and a life spent working hard on their own acreage. I love that we are all buying seeds and tomato plants  and get all excited seeing broccoli growing and that I get asked questions on raising chickens.  We also spoke of the ailing earth and priorities. Then in the middle of a large and beautiful vegetable garden in the middle of Austin with SXSW playing all around us we said our goodbyes. Finding myself again in Clarksville, where the ghosts dance between flowering trees and among families playing on front lawns,  all I could think of were our futures and those agreements not yet entered upon and all the things that good people could bring each another with a little trust and courage. Hoping the best for us all on such a pretty afternoon.

Long Ago and Far Away

My mother returned from visiting my Abuelita in Mexico. She brought back old family photos.  The babies in the photos passed away ten years ago or so, they were my great-uncles.  As we go forward, photos some from the past begin to appear worlds away, not decades, but worlds away from where I stand today. Mothers, fathers and children in poses that are found in photos today but I know too much about the people in these images and their lives. The parents were not alive very long. They lived a decade longer before my great-grandfather was murdered for his political beliefs. His wife cried for him non-stop for a year or so. She didn't eat, she didn't sleep, she only cried. She died soon after him. The boys in the family were taken to California to be educated and the youngest, a girl of three, my Abuelita, was placed in an orphanage until her great-aunts took her in.  The family fell apart until the oldest of the boys was grown, returned to Mexico and worked at reuniting his siblings. They all lived in the same town after that and remained very close. My Abuelita is the only one left. Today she turns 94.

Working on Things

Libraries have been emptying their card catalogs and tossing out all those wonderful,  little cards, full of infomation for almost a decade. I love those little cards. I once helped type some of them up for my own school library.  Now I just like to hold on to a few special ones by authors I love and make things out of the rest.


In my opinion, still the best ground cumin. The molcajete just  does an amazing job and the flavor is always better than store bought ground cumin.

Ma Belle Amie

Twelve years ago I happened upon a compilation of Wolfman Jack's favorite 45's. I am a huge Wolfman Jack fan so I bought it and couldn't wait to listen. Tee Set's Ma Belle Amie sounded strangely familiar. I played it over and over seeking out the images in my collection of memories that matched the tune, lyrics and emotions that were conjured upon hearing this song. I couldn't figure it out.

I liked the song so much I eventually played it for my mother who sang along and said , "Oh I remember this song, you were just a tiny baby, the radio played it all the time when you were just a baby".  That explained the nostalgic, warm and fuzzy feelings I felt when I heard the song the first time  (it's not that warm and fuzzy of a song, not really) as well as the vague recognition.  Shortly after that I became very ill and the song became closely associated with that unfortunate event. I never played it again. In fact, I gave the LP away and was glad to be rid of it. Just looking at the cover made me feel ill. The song recently popped into my head one morning and I found it online and gave it a listen. It inspired nothing and this is good.

I did finally discover that the vocals were coming from a baby faced Peter Tetteroo.  Not at all the sort of face I had attached to such a mature voice.

Townes Van Zandt once called it home

In Heartworn Highways Townes Van Zandt is shown living in a trailer on Charlotte St. in the 1970's with his girlfriend Cindy, two chickens (Smith and Wesson) and several dogs. That street is in Clarksville, still very rural nearly forty years ago.  All that remains that even hints at it's past are a few older oak trees nestled between very simple, tiny, wood framed homes, sadly,  many ripe for razing. Newer houses and duplexes are rapidly populating the area. Sometimes it is odd spotting these brand new structures because they seem worlds away from the shy talent who did battle with his inner demons on that street.

On Saturday morning I drove around Clarksville keeping an eye out for ghostly places and tall, ancient oak trees. It is one of the oldest places in town. Around this time of year I find myself drawn to it. I feel the same way about East Austin in May.

Austin had modest beginnings and took awhile to get going. I caught the tail end of one growth spurt gone bust back in 1989. This evening I started to count all the people I know who left town only a year ago and those who are about to leave town. I stopped counting at 23 because it was becoming a sort of mass exodus. Everyone is off to greener pastures, Colorado and Oregon being the destinations du jour.  Austin continues to morph and some go searching for the Austin they once new somewhere else, others feel only too stagnant here. Those that left town in the past returned a short time later.  I really don't see that happening again.  For now, it's home.  It's hard to think of leaving Texas, though the thought has crossed my mind (many times). My Grandmother's people have been here since the 1850's, true Natives in every sense of the word. Before Texas they had been calling another place, near mountains, home for over 300 years. It's sort of in my genes to not move around much.

Turnstyled, Junkpiled
Come Tomorrow


My Grandfather use to work at a loan office housed in a building that was once the national bank. Any opportunity I had to go with him to the office I took. The place had a heavy feeling to it that made me feel secure. The building was heavy and established and seemed indestructible. The doors were so heavy I could never make them move when I leaned up against them, the furniture was heavy. The tank desks were grey, a color that made them seem even heavier.

I love pencils. I love how they feel on paper and how that feeling inspires me to write one more sentence, add one more thing to my list or become distracted and create a doodle. Graphite!
When I need to erase I even like to brush or blow off the eraser crumbs. Sharpening pencils is fun too, something so satisfying in achieving the perfect point. Not so thin it breaks but thin enough to create the finest of dark grey lines. A long, thin, strong tip that will last several pages, several days. Electric sharpeners leave squiggly and wormy looking  pencil remains, the hand held sharpeners can create wing shaped slices of wood or if you were a great pencil sharpener you could get a curled sliver of wood substantial enough to dip in paint or glue to a piece of paper.

I use pencils at work and have the last remaining electric pencil sharpener in the office on my desk. I still need them, there just isn't a great need for them in my office. At home I have hand held sharpeners. Never been a fan of the manual, crank types that were screwed to walls. I thought they looked great but I never found one that worked. I would salways get a short, stubby rounded tip from those sharpeners.

The Rolls Royce of pencils is the Blackwing, gorgeous things. They were the only pencil I saw used in offices in the 70's. The nuns at my school all had Blackwings and the supply cabinet always had one box full of them. I wanted so much to grab one but never did. We supplied our own pencils, Eagle Academics No. 2, boring, yellow pencils.  I am going to treat myself to a box of Blackwings.


I watched A Safe Place yesterday and remembered how my best friend and I were so curious about Jaglom in high school. We watched Always, But Not Forever, Someone to Love,  New Year's Day and then got together the summer after our first year in college to watch Eating and then I forgot all about him until yesterday. 

In A Safe Place, beautiful Tuesday Weld effortlessly portrays Susan/Noah the woman child. I never knew really knew what a talented actress she was until I saw her in this role. The DVD shows other actresses auditioning for the part and it seems as though no one came close to portraying the complicated character as richly as Weld. Her character was simple minded, sexy, sensitive, even innocent and yet vicious, aloof and tawdry. I thought of Mia Farrow and Sandy Dennis in the role and decided that they couldn't be as sincere as Weld. The editing and music chosen for the soundtrack added to the little surprises in this film that ends vaguely. I seem to favor films that end this way.

When I discovered Cassavetes, Jaglom went into the "toy box".  I began to think Jaglom's  films were fragmented, diluted and weak interpretations of better works done by writers and directors more talented and experienced than he was.  However, I look back and can see I was watching very adult films at a young age. I thought myself quite sophisticated at 15 having watched Jules and Jim  at 13, had just started to read Nin and long Russian novels and I tuned into Thirtysomething every week.  I had no clue what complicated people we all grow up to be.  I had yet to experience all the complicated feelings, relationships and world we come into when we finally grow up. So all the muck that bored and confused me was just over my head. I never watched a Jaglom film after I turned 20.  Twenty years later and  maybe Jaglom has more to offer? I'll re-watch a few of his films and finally watch Venice/Venice. Maybe A Safe Place was just a really good film.