Brushing up on Texas history.

Austinites have several nice museums to visit.  The Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum is one, and  it is loaded with a number of permanent and rotating exhibits about all things Texas.  On the first Sunday of each month, admission is free, or to be more accurate, HEB picks up the tab (another reason HEB is the best grocery store, hands down, ever).

I like to visit a couple of times a year to see the new exhibits.  In particular today we went to see the Becoming Texas exhibit, and to see the new permanent exhibit for the 17th century recovered French ship that wrecked off of the Gulf Coast of Texas in 1686, La Belle.

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The 54′ La Belle, or at least the portions of the timbers that remain of it, on display at the museum.  This ship crossed the Atlantic, brought munitions, provisions and trade goods to the New World, and then sank off the Texas Gulf Coast.   If you live in or near Austin, you should check out the museum.  Ideally on a free First Sunday.

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Afterwards we visited Zilker Brewing; we’re slowly working our way across all the breweries in Austin.  One must have goals.

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Very merry.

I joined some friends yesterday at Ann’s house for nibblies and libations.  Then we all walked down to Mozart’s on Lake Austin to watch their Christmas light display.  It was a beautiful night, with a clear sky and a nearly full moon.  You should check it out, too!

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B-bye BB’s.

Last night Monte and I went to our local pub for dinner and to watch Monday Night Football. Since we don’t have cable, we have to go out to watch the Seahawks play. We won! 🙂

It was bittersweet, though. Our local favorite and most awesome pub, BB Rover’s, is closing for good in 2 weeks. 😦

I’ve enjoyed lots of good times and good beers in that place over the last 23 years. Post-softball-game celebrations, after-work happy hours, St. Patrick’s Day corned beef and cabbage dinners, darts, Austin Sailing Society meet-ups, live music and open-mic night, and many games of pinochle with friends. It is very sad to see it go.

Fare thee well, BB Rover’s.

A roof with a view.

This is the fantastic Austin skyline view from Mike’s new condominium rooftop.

Mike just moved in after a many month delay. And today he is headed to the coast with Lori to sail through the Caribbean for the next six months. We’ll hold down the fort ’til they return. 🙂

Dam it.

Lake Travis is still rising, slowly.  We took another drive out to the lake, to join the other lookie-loos.  We got a glimpse of the backside of Mansfield Dam from the park off highway 620.  The lake level in the picture below is 702.6′ above mean sea level, inching closer to the dam’s spillway.

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Four flood gates were open, releasing floodwaters into Lake Austin below.

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And, as always….

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July 4th Eve!

We took a boatload out to watch fireworks on Lake Travis tonight. A good time was had by all.

A pretty sunset:

And one shot of the fireworks:

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What a fun night to enjoy with friends.

Story of an Artist.

Recently, Apple has been running a commercial with someone singing in the background as the camera flashes clips of people using a Mac.  I immediately recognized it as a song I first heard over 10 years ago when it was featured as KUT Song of the Day. The Austin radio station has since changed to KUTX but their Song of the Day feature is still a terrific place to hear new music.

The song is Story of an Artist, by Daniel Johnston.  Daniel is a visual artist, songwriter, and musician who moved to Austin in the 1980s.  He’s had a lifelong struggle with mental illness, but has found success and is fondly regarded here.  He is the artist who, in 1992, painted the frog, Jeremiah the Innocent, in the iconic Hi, How are You mural in Austin on 21st street at Guadalupe.

The version of the song I heard on KUT was a recorded-live-in-studio-1A cover of Daniel’s song, performed by M Ward in September 2006.  I liked it the first time I heard it.  But it is a sad song, in my opinion, of an artist shunned by society for being different.  And after having learned more about Daniel Johnston, I think it is autobiographical.  A 2005 documentary about him called The Devil and Daniel Johnston reveals more about the man and his struggles.

The version of the song in the Apple commercial is performed by Johnston himself, originally recorded in 1982; just him, a cassette recorder, and a piano.  In the commercial, the lyrics are chopped up and rearranged, so it comes off as a funky upbeat tune; you don’t get the whole vibe of the original song.  Here’s a link to his entire original recording, if you want to give it a listen.

I think the M Ward version I first heard on KUT Song of the Day is beautiful….but when I heard it, I didn’t know the background story of the artist.  Now I do.

Get out there and listen to some music!

Laid back Sunday morning.

I joined Lori & Doray downtown yesterday for a morning pedicure, brunch, and a walk about downtown.   This is the new library downtown, we were going to go in, but it wasn’t open yet.  I guess we should have had one more round of mimosas to kill time.  🙂

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Easter day trip.

With no commitments until Easter dinner with Julie later in the day, we headed out to visit Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.   It is a beautiful place to see in the spring, full of gardens teeming with wildflowers, and several miles of lovely trails to explore.

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I don’t think the wildflowers have peaked yet in south Austin, based on what we saw here, so there’s still time to get out there and see them!

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The view from the top of the cistern tower, overlooking the surrounding meadow trails.

There is a great-horned owl family roosting in a wall ledge just inside the entrance.  There are two owlets, but they are not sticking their heads up in this shot.

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Hot air.

I’m still going through photos from our recent road trip.   In the mean time, I’ll share a moment from today…..

A month or two ago, I bought tickets in advance for the 2018 Best of Texas Hot Air Balloon Festival (and wine & food festival, AND polo match).   I really just wanted to get some pictures of the hot air balloons.   The festival is today, so this morning, before the sun came up, I headed to the polo grounds for the photo opp.   It was a tad underwhelming, as the balloons didn’t actually launch.  They simply inflated six of them, left them up for about an hour, and then deflated them again.  Nevertheless, it was a beautiful sight, even if a fleeting one.

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Oysters!

We attended the annual Austin Oyster Festival today. This was our third time to enjoy it. It was held on the grounds of the old Seaholm power plant on the north shore of Austin’s Ladybird Lake. And we had a great time.

The venue:

Gulf oysters:

Colorful.

We popped over to free Thursday at the Blanton museum today. Ellsworth Kelly is an American artist who designed “Austin,” a stand alone art gallery, and artwork in its own right, for the Blanton art museum. He died a few years ago, but his building was recently finished. We visited the museum today to see this exhibit, and the other rotating collections on display.

Afterwards we celebrated National Margarita Day at Chuy’s. Cheers!

Some Christmas Eve eve lights.

After dinner last night we cruised by some Austin neighborhoods that light it up during the holidays…37th street, Clarksville, and a few in between.

Enjoy a bit of Austin weirdness:

An homage to a scene from the movie Stranger Things:

Now, THIS is weird:

R2D2 lights:

Sock-monkey nativity scene:

Just a mess-o-lights:

Not weird:

Merry Christmas!