Tag Archives: Austin

A Move in Progress


Boxes and lists surround me couple of weeks before I move

from my Houston apartment back to my house in Austin.


Obviously the days of this month are diminishing, but new items on the lists continue to appear. Not everything will be accomplished in the end; something will be left undone or left behind in one form or another.

Mainly I want to clear my schedule as much as possible for goodbyes. First Unitarian Universalist Church of Houston (firstuu.org) is full of wonderful people. They are smart, funny, kind, friendly, wise, creative and many other positive attributes.

Yesterday I wrote about 2/3 of my final sermon here, to deliver on July 27. So soon!

Then there will be a farewell party hosted by the members and staff. I anticipate tears and laughter as we share what’s on our hearts. In just under 2 years we have changed each other. We have made indelible memories that have filled me with gratitude.

The weekly commute became too much to continue for another year. Husband, friends, and family await my permanent return. To rest, to plan our trip to Barcelona and the Canal du Midi in southern France, and to contemplate the next chapter in my life–those are my 3 primary goals. Perhaps more blogging, too!


Fan Fest


A few pix from Austin’s free downtown Fan Fest. Music everywhere, including on six large stages. This was all to entertain 300,000 visitors from all over the world who attended the first Formula 1 (F1) race on the new track southeast of Austin (close to the town of Elroy). The first Grand Prix in the States, built by the Circuit of the Americas. The winner was fastest by 1 second. Next weekend they’re on to Saõ Paulo, Brazil

.Loved the Hot Wheels Speedway and the yellow Cadillac convertible. Only $11,500–does it run?

Anti-SComm Resolution


On Monday, March 26, 2012, the Commission on Immigrant Affairs and the Austin Human Rights Commission adopted a resolution condemning the implementation of S-Comm in Travis County. S-Comm (i.e. “Secure Communities”) separates families, undermines public safety, and wastes taxpayer dollars.

This resolution was brought forth by a coalition of organizations, including the Austin Immigrant Rights Coalition, Grassroots Leadership, Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, ACLU of Texas, Detention Watch Network, University Leadership Initiative, Texans United for Families, Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Church, Workers Defense Project, American Gateways, and others.

I was asked to be one of the speakers in favor of the resolution. Here is more or less what I said in my two minutes at the podium in Austin’s City Hall:

Thank you for the opportunity to speak. I represent many religious traditions that have spoken out against Secure Communities. After hearing many stories, I believe we can do better.

My religious faith calls me to recognize that no one is “the stranger,” to affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and to support justice for all. I believe these standards hold for the City of Austin and for Travis County.

We have heard stories about how real people and families are affected by SComm:

–       Good, promising students live in fear of deportation.

–       Families live with violence because they are afraid to call the police.

–       Small children who are citizens are separated from their parents; 5000 Texas children are in foster care at taxpayer expense, and some have been put up for adoption without input from their own mothers.

–       Records can be forged or altered or inaccurate. Yet people spend extra days in jail waiting for deportation, again at our expense.

–       Travis County is asked to participate in deportation for minor misdemeanors even though the measure is intended for felony convictions.

Is this the kind of community we want?

We surely need immigration reform for many reasons, long-term issues for another day, but SComm is a poor substitute for reform. SComm is punitive, short-sighted, destructive of families, and does not promote a win for anyone.

I used to work at a shelter for battered women and their children. The women who succeeded in leaving their abusive partners finally stood up and said, “No to abuse.”

It’s time for Austin and Travis County to stand up and say, “No to SComm.”

This picture was from one of the monitors at City Hall.



NO, it’s not shorthand  for SEX–but for “South By.”

SXSW reads South by Southwest; insiders often shorten the name to “South By.”  It’s a big series of overlapping festivals in Austin, TX: Education, Interactive, Film, and Music. For almost 2 weeks these events roll through and overlap. With so many schools and colleges out for Spring Break, people pour into town. There are lots of satellite events, too, and free music all over town. I’ve heard that the population of Austin doubles during this time, so locals avoid downtown and the roads that feed into it.

For several years Maggie, a close friend of mine, has attended the SXSW Film Festival. She is especially fond of documentaries and tries to see as many as possible. This year I decided to join the crowd as part of study leave (so much to learn from movies!) and vacation. As a first timer, I’ve pored over the schedule and movie descriptions and locations and come up with a tentative plan. As the days go by and people start talking about their favs, my list will undoubtedly change.

Today’s lineup: Best of Vimeo Shorts; Girl Walk//All Day; and Wikileaks: Secrets and Lies.

Descriptions from the web site:

Best of Vimeo Shorts: “It’s hard to construct a program from the world’s most impressive collection of short-form media. With millions of incredible videos to choose from, it’s not a question of finding good stuff, it’s how does one ignore so much brilliance? The curators at Vimeo have taken on the task, though, and their existential pain is your gain.

“Vimeo Loves showcases the diversity and stunning quality of the Vimeo community’s work. From timelapse experiments that depict the Earth in new ways, to tours of new worlds never before visited, get ready for some of the most captivating videos on Vimeo.”

Girl Walk // All Day is a feature-length dance music video and tale of urban exploration that follow three dancers across New York City. They turn the city’s sidewalks, parks, and stadiums into an evolving stage as a story of rebellion, love, and discovery unfolds. Shot entirely in public spaces, and funded entirely by crowd-sourcing, Girl Walk // All Day is a statement about the power of community and public space. Set to the album All Day by mashup musician Girl Talk, it’s also an insanely fun love letter to New York.”

“Produced by Oxford Film and Television, Wikileaks: Secrets and Lies is Bafta winner Patrick Forbes’ seventy-six-minute documentary of the Wikileaks affair as told by the people involved: personal, moving and frequently hot tempered, it documents history in the making and establishes a new frontier for technology and journalism.

“A definitive factual account of the Wikileaks affair, the film features the first major television interview with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.”

Want more? Click here

Rob! Lin!


Tonight’s the night Rob and Lin arrive! Decorating and cleaning are done, groceries are stowed, and there’s still time to chill before Jet Blue brings them from San Francisco to Austin. It has been very nice to be able to talk to them at will on the phone. Lin’s uncle had a prepaid phone for them to use. Yesterday they were at Alcatraz.

Plans are pretty loose so we’ll all just go with some kind of holiday / wedding flow. Second son Fred went shopping with me today to Costco and HEB. Plus, he donated a few things from his own refrigerator.

For Rob’s sentimental reasons, lunch on the day of the wedding will be at Golden Corral! Back during his high school days it was the only decent restaurant around. Not exactly as elegant as I would wish, but it’s not my party. I suppose when you live so far away, old memories trump usual preferences. We’ll have other chances to take them to restaurants of our choice.

Lin’s dress arrived about a week ago and it’s quite beautiful. Shoes, tiara, and veil accompany the whole lacy dress with its petticoats and medium length train. The lace, including lace straps, makes the most lasting impression. (No, she won’t wear it to Golden Corral–there will be plenty of time to change at the church.)

Question: if you were in Austin for just a few days, what would you do?

Jon and Fred and I will all troop out to the airport to meet them. Can’t wait!