Que ç’est triste.

The news today of the fire and destruction of Notre Dame in Paris made my heart sink.  What a terrible loss.   Many, many millions of people feel a connection to the 8 centuries old gothic cathedral.   As I post this, Notre Dame is still burning, its roof and spire have fallen.  I can’t imagine much more of a charred shell will remain.  I pray that noone was injured or killed.

I was 16 on my first visit.  I was immediately awed by the beautiful arches, stained glass windows, towers, transept, arches, and side chapels.  I have enjoyed more visits since then, every time I passed through Paris.  These pictures were from my last visit, 4 years ago…

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How does one connect with a place?  It must be the intertwining of a place’s beauty, its history, and cultural significance with one’s own imprinted memories.  I’ve only visited as a tourist; lit a candle, sat in the pews, listened to mass being said, walked all around it, toured the towers.  I cannot imagine what Parisians who have lived with it every day of their lives must be feeling today.

One of my favorite novels, Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth, tells the fictional life story of Tom Builder, a man who built cathedrals in England & France in the 12th century, as Romanesque architecture evolved into Gothic.  Notre Dame was a masterpiece.  Its flying butressess allowing the ribs, pillars, arches and roof to be taller, and more open inside, leaving room for its legendary stained glass windows.  I don’t know how or if it will be possible to restore or repair it.   But, it will never be the same.  Something has truly been lost for the ages.

 

Shocking.

They say April showers bring May flowers.  But, they also bring colossal bolts of lightning.  We had some potent ones during the storms over the weekend.  Monte is still piling up and fixing the carnage at the chez.  The photo below doesn’t include the internet modem/router box that we had to replace, and two fried GFCI outlets, one fritzy raspberry pi, an LCD monitor power pack, and who knows what else.

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On a positive note, Monte didn’t get killed when he was outside and lightning struck nearby.

Sheila’s law.

Murphy’s got a law.

Here’s mine:

Whole-house interconnected smoke detectors shall only sound their deafening false alarm in the dead of night.

Corollaries:

1. They shall do so several times in the same night, for non-deterministic lengths of time, leaving only enough time between alarms to allow sleep to nearly be achieved.

2. The one of all the sounding units which can silence all alarms must be difficult to determine, and must be located at or above 12 feet of elevation from the floor.

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.

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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Them: 1 Us: 2,746.

I was working out in the yard today unloading wood scraps and trash from a box by the shop when I unknowingly disturbed a wasp nest. I was stung once, where the sun don’t shine (I’ll spare you a photo of that), but it could have been much worse.

Monte went out later and sprayed the nest with wasp killer. And uncovered it. It was huge! It’s burning in the drizzle out back as we speak.

While my butt-sting hurts terribly, I’ll take it. I’m glad I didn’t get swarmed.

Be careful out there….

Drats.

It took four and a half years, but yesterday I spectacularly broke the screen on my phone (heavy sigh).   Interestingly, the touch screen capability still works.  I have it in a baggie, so that I am able to use it without cutting my fingers, until I can get to the Apple Store.

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I’m no expert, but…..

We are back home in Austin.  A lovely place to be.  For the last 2 days, though, the power has been out at the house. 


I took a look at the power pole today.  And…… I see that the transformer is not hooked up to the transmission line.   At all. 

I’m no expert, but I’m gonna say that maybe that is the problem, and a hopefully quick fix.  

Tread carefully.

I spent Friday night and Saturday with friends that are participating in this weekend’s MS-150 bicycle ride from Houston to Austin.  After taking their luggage to the drop-off point at Tully Stadium at dawn, I spent the rest of Saturday exploring and birding in several parks outside of Houston with Doray.

While our friends were pedalling their hearts out on the 100-mile Day 1 of the two-day MS-150, we had a very fun day.  We visited Cullinan Park, Fiorenza Park and Bear Creek Pioneers Park.   I’m still going through my photos to figure out exactly what we spotted.

While walking on one of the trails at Cullinan Park, I nearly stepped on this snake.  I didn’t see him because I was looking up into the tree tops as I was walking, trying to spot birds.  I’m very thankful for good luck, my guardian angel, and cat-like reflexes 🙂 , because I have since learned that this is a venomous juvenile cottonmouth snake. 😮

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My day could have turned out very differently if I hadn’t been lucky.

Be careful out there, folks.

Oh, Austin…

Austin dubs itself the “Live Music Capital of the World.”  A well-deserved title.  An equally well-deserved moniker would be “Rubbernecking Capital of the World.”

Seriously.   Austin traffic is dismal.  Bad.  Horrible.   We suffer through long and much-delayed construction projects, restricted lanes, new tolls on well traveled routes, terrible rush hours, and endless debates on funding affordable, responsible mass transit.

In my humble opinion, we can help ourselves out for free by just NOT RUBBERNECKING.  Come on, Austin!   I’ve lived in and traveled through many different cities, but nowhere have I seen this level of self-induced misery.

Case in point:  today we attended a beautiful Bat Mitzvah of the daughter of our friends.  On the way home (1:30PM on a Saturday ), we popped onto Mopac North.   Traffic was moving very slowly.

So, I looked at google maps to see what was going on.   Yuck.  Mopac was red for miles in both directions.  Luckily for us, we were almost through the worst of it.

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Hmm, was it a terrible accident up ahead?  Overturned car?  Lane closure? Jack-knifed trailer tractor?  Police pulled someone over on the shoulder?  A backup on the exit?  Ambulance blocking lanes?

Ummmm.  No.   It was simply an open house and Muster Day at Camp Mabry – lots of brightly colored tents, military equipment and helicopters on display on the parade grounds of Camp Mabry, WAAAY off to the west of Mopac.  But, sadly, it *is* visible from Mopac, if you just turn your head and hit the breaks to take it all in.  And that’s what people were doing, in both directions.   No amount of infrastructure funding is going to help that.  Sigh.

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