Our new pup, Pierre, gets his picture taken with the Grinch.
I couldn’t bring myself to photograph all the dead and dying trees on our recent trip out to the Hill Country around Mason. I’m still in shock that we may be witnessing climate change and whole ecosystem changes over the course of one summer. Or so it seems. I remember visiting family in the 80s when there was a drought going on, and someone saying that the desert of West Texas was slowly creeping that way. Mason is definitely on the border between Hill Country and West Texas, but I fear it will become like Arizona, or worse, at least for awhile.
Is anyone else documenting the drought? I wonder if I should document the landscape before it changes to desert.
The city of Austin, bike shops, and several non-profit organizations want YOU to ride your bike. May is National Bike Month, after all.
Log your miles this month on the Austin Commuter Challenge site. Still not comfortable riding in traffic? The Austin Cycling Association has a Traffic Skills 101 class several times a month. For help with finding the best route to work, check the Austin Bicycle Map (available at bike shops or online in PDF form) or attend a Scout-a-Route ride (part of ACA’s “hosted rides” – see rides listed in blue and green) to explore good commuting routes.
In Austin, the City has put together a calendar of Bike Month events here.
You can also track your mileage and trips by signing up for the Austin Commuter Challenge.
Bike to Work week is May 17-21st. And Bike to Work Day is May 21st – there are usually lots of places that offer free breakfast and similar things for people on bikes. It’s a good time to work on your employer and co-workers to encourage more biking.
So if you haven’t been riding, now is the time – just do it! Regardless of what kind of bike you ride…
According to my uncle Jeb, who scanned in this and other family photos, this photo was taken at a nightclub owned by Al Capone.
Aunt Dick left a number of her personal diaries, which my cousin transcribed. I will have to try to find any reference to Mr. Capone.
Recently on the neighborhood listserve there was all kinds of consternation and flame going on when the owners of Off The Wall, an antique/used furniture store on South Congress, put out the word that they have noticed a significant uptick in panhandling and presumably homeless people in this commercial corridor. Their main plea was that neighbors not encourage the panhandlers by giving them money. Someone on the list then proceeded to refer to homeless people as “bums” and implied that they are responsible for the increase in car vandalism and the like. Well… that didn’t sit well with anyone else on the list. It did, however, provide some great stories about people’s own experience with homelessness and the homeless in general.
I then recalled that my own grandmother had often voiced her fear of someday becoming homeless herself. She kind of romanticized it, probably having grown up in the era of the hobos, but I’m sure she really did worry about it. She befriended several homeless women who lived on the Drag near the University when she lived near there, one of which had been a doctoral candidate and the other a dance instructor from which my mom took classes in the ’60s.
The fact is, many people are incredibly close to being homeless, especially if they have any kind of mental illness for which treatment is nearly non-existent in Texas (here’s a great snapshot of what that means in Harris County for their county jail). And that real estate bubble hasn’t helped, as the 44-lb. cat in New Jersey recently found out. Two kinds of fat cats here in the land of the free – and both are losers.
My cousin Scott just sent me some transcripts from our great Aunt Dick’s diaries, which I’m planning to make a project out of sometime soon. Just as a little sample, here is the entry for September 1, 1931:
Markie [Markham] raved about the depression, and how terrible times are; they’re going to have a special session of legislature this month to forbid the planting of cotton this fall*, and all the state employees salaries will be cut 15% or more. Ruthy is simply sick about it, but she’s lucky to have a job at all, as it’s getting to where they just can’t be had.
Markie is a family friend and Ruthy is her sister. They were living in Austin at the time and Ruth worked at the Capitol.
*UPDATE: The Handbook of Texas Online says that the Texas Cotton Acreage Control Act of 1931-32 was an effort to control the falling prices of cotton, due to overproduction, by limiting the amount of acreage being cultivated for cotton (not a complete ban) as well as to institute some soil conservation measures. This command-and-control-type measure was struck down in the courts in 1932. I doubt the Texas Legislature of today would never do something like that!