And spring became the summer
It’s Vivian’s first day of summer vacation. She’s a junior suddenly! She met some friends for coffee this morning and is at Barton Springs pool now. I think. Evan still has two days of school left after Memorial Day (his school does this just to fuck with parents). He is a rising 8th grader! He is at the PanIQ Room (love the name – it’s an escape room that belongs to a franchise that started in Hungary) to celebrate the end of the school year with friends. Jo is at a hot springs about an hour’s drive away. Ouiser, Phineas, Zeus and I are lounging on the couch with a nicely chilled glass of sauvignon. And a few minutes to catch up on the blog.
Spring in Texas is a vague term. It could mean anything from between New Year’s Day and the official start of summer. Back at the end of January we had our predictable annual winter ice storm. The kids have come to expect school closures and weren’t disappointed. Live oaks and cedars this far south don’t shed their foliage during fall. So they tend to easily collect ice. Austin is full of live oaks and cedars and they dropped like flies all over town during the winter storm, especially on to power lines. We didn’t have power for many days while the city recovered. Streets were lined with dead tree debris for months.
In Canyon Lake the winter storm mangled a majority of the trees. I had finally sawed down the big ash by the front door that we lost from the 2021 winter storm and haven’t even contemplated what needs to be done to clean up after this one beyond some cosmetic work to clear the driveway. Let me know if you’d like to come over and spend a week with a chainsaw.
We started prepping the backyard for a new pool and the first thing that had to go is the deck. If you think the yard looks trashy here, the deck is completely gone now. All the greenery has been scrapped down to dirt. The city-mandated tree protection resulted in about a foot of mulch covered in sheets of plywood and rolls of temporary fencing around the trees. Yesterday they painted the layout of the pool on the dirt so that city inspectors can OK that. One day they will start digging. Before our sun swallows the inner solar system, there may be a pool.
Evan finished a pretty decent first season of playing school basketball and then gave school soccer a try. He is loving it because most of the players on his and other teams aren’t soccer kids and so he thinks he is Mesi. Evan decided to join his school track team. They don’t have a school track program but a parent (the founder of Alamo Drafthouse) who has two kids in track trained the motley crew for an hour on two Sunday mornings. Evan ended up participating in one meet at St. Stephens and did pretty well. He continues to improve is academics and ended 7th grade with better than expected results (he has learned the art of setting low expectations). I complained that he was only in the 99th percentile on a standardized test and he sarcastically replied that 99th percentile is the highest score anyone can get. So he was at least awake during the stats unit. His article for the school newspaper was on quantum computing. He continues to geek out.
Vivian ended a great sophomore year. She had so many activities that she complained when she has to do a regular five day week. She traveled with the school to Fort Worth for arts festivals, San Antonio for a diversity conference, and to Taos for a rock climbing trip. She went to the state capitol to help participate in the legislative process – but our legislatures need a lot more than high school kids helping to display signs of intelligence. Vivian created several interesting works of visual art that I will shortly (haha) post on this blog. She had a couple of poems in the Proteus, St. Stephen’s annual collection of student published poems and essays. In her final essay for history she wrote about the relationship between the American romanticism school or art and the realism school that followed it, with references to what was going on in society and the way people lived that was reflected in the art of those times. I learned something from reading it. I was not writing such analytical pieces when I was in the 10th grade. Oh – and Vivian’s second set of braces came off! I don’t yet have a photo of her displaying her expensive teeth without braces.
Among other spring goings-on, Partha stayed with us for a weekend. He was in Houston for a cricket match and dropped by Austin. I am glad that the Hyderabadi kids are getting to know each other a bit. May be there will be second generation friendships where they can brag that their parents knew each other from when they were babies. Vivian also has a distinct shortage of interactions with Indian older cousins and Partha helped fill that for a few days.
We got through the 29th Rosedale Ride. That day is usually a magnet for bad riding weather, but for the 29th, it was perfect. May be a bit windy on the return side of the loop, but I only did the 22-miler so it didn’t matter. Thanks to friends who went out and had a good ride. Your support helps the students, families, and staff at the Rosedale School. Speaking of the Rosedale School, the architects who designed it – Chad Johnson and Jim Brady from Page won the “Humancentric” award at the AIA Austin awards ceremony. Congratulations!
After a promising start, the bluebonnet season was a disappointment. The blooms started earlier than expected, and then a hot dry spell ended things well before Easter. But I did get a picture of one of the kids in a bluebonnet patch : – ). Since then it has rained regularly (though not enough) and the late spring blooms like the Mexican hats, cedar sages, and Indian blankets are doing very well. They look particularly good around Ouiser in what I call the Upper Turkey Creek trail. The honey suckles were in crazy full bloom for a couple of weeks and the trails smelled like citrus honey. OK – I reluctantly end my spring bloom report right here.
Phineas Schrödinger is growing up quickly. He does not spend as much time on Jo’s boobs or our shoulders but he still is a loving wonderful kitty. He and Ouiser are great friends and they tussle with each other several times a day. At times he leaps up and grabs Ouiser’s head. Ouiser reciprocates by gently holding Phineas’ entire head inside her jaws. Zeus is getting to be slightly friendlier towards Phineas, but it is still too early to tell if Phineas is a butt head or is trying to play with Zeus. Cats, inscrutable as they are, keep us guessing.
Jo travelled to Barcelona on a solo trip for her birthday. She sent back daily texts and photos of Picasso paintings and Gaudi buildings on the family group chat till Vivian begged her to stop. Vivian wishes that she had taken her pre-spring break trip to Barcelona instead of Maui. Jo had a good time and found a nice apartment on airbnb and I am hoping that sometime in the near future doing a shoulder season she can take me back there. I went to the Big Bend Ranch State park for Easter. It is less than half the size of its national park neighbor and in all my years of going to the national park I had never set foot in the state park. We started our hike from near the town of Lajitas at the Mexico border and stopped for lunch at the ruins of the old the Beuna Suerte mines. Then bushwhacked to the Lower Shutup slot canyon where we spent the first night. Next morning we headed through the slot canyon towards the Solitario – the remnants of an old caldera. But our path was blocked by smooth canyon walls and a big pool of water in a tenaja. Half our party turned back. The rest of us backtracked and climbed out of the slot canyon and found our way back into the Solatario. We spent that night at the Tres Papalotes campground where a friend who had driven out in a 4×4 met us. The last day we walked past the Solatario Bar into the Lefthand Shutup and then hiked out of the park’s eastern edge. We humped another few miles of desolate dirt roads with an inexhaustible supply of ups and downs over hills and across dry creek crossings. Just when we were getting a little tired we found the entrance to a friend of a friend’s hunting lot and as we walked up to the shack on the property we were met by a truck full of friends, cold beer and steaks ready to be grilled. Brendan was fantastic with the topo map and the gps and we never felt totally lost though we spent a lot of time staring at the map. I’ve marked some of our 35 mile jaunt through the park in the map below in case I do this trip again someday.
Jo and I dressed up and attended a few galas and Nicolle came into town for her birthday. In other notable events we finished up a crunch project at work and now have a bona fide partner who will use our technology. It has almost been two years and the interesting thing is that we haven’t deviated very much from our original vision. Still plenty of roadblocks and challenges between where we are and success but if the journey is the trip I am pretty darn happy already. Oh – and at the end of spring I started my tenure as the president of a non-profit board. That was our spring, roughly.
Good times never seemed so good