The Aldi store has come to Austin, Texas! Or rather, to Pflugerville, but that’s close enough. When I read that it was coming I was thrilled, because on the Dutch International Cookbook/Kookboek Facebook page I regularly see posts by folks elsewhere in America and Canada showing photos of their Dutch and German finds in Aldis. Now it’s here, so today I decided to include a trip to Pflugerville in my list of errands. Continue reading →
Today I rediscovered the Gandhi Bazar, an Indian grocery store I frequented ten years ago, when we lived in an appartment nearby. (For Austinites, it’s on the corner of Brodie and William Cannon, catty-corner to HEB.) I love going to Asian grocery stores–they smell wonderful and everything is strange, except for the occasional item we used to have in Australia, like the proper Ovaltine or rusk. Such is the Commonwealth. Continue reading →
R and I looked on Yelp for a place to eat in north Austin this evening, and we ended up in Troy, a Turkish/Mediterranean place in a little strip mall where we had been once before, a couple of years ago. Continue reading →
On July 14, a man ran his truck into crowds of people enjoying the Bastille Day fireworks in Nice, France, killing eighty-some and wounding so many others.
Bastille Day celebrates the birth of the French Republic, with its motto, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. Fraternity means, among other things, communal support, friendship, brotherhood. Continue reading →
Every year, on the first Saturday in December, John Aeilli–host of the KUTX program Eclecticos–and a few other public radio people lead the Christmas caroling on the steps of the Texas Capitol and my family and I always join in. Yes, I know, no separation between church and state, but I pick and choose which principles I stand for as much as the next person. So sue me. Continue reading →
This week’s photo challenge is (Extra)Ordinary. So it’s the perfect moment for a reposting of some pictures of the bottom of the Mopac Bridge in Austin, Texas, USA.
I have a thing for the bottoms of bridges, and the Mopac Bridge is one of my favorites. Mopac is actually Highway 1, but in Austin we call it Mopac after the Missouri-Pacific Railroad that runs parallel to it for a while. Continue reading →
Well, here’s another thing you don’t have in the Netherlands. Tornadoes.
We have plenty of tornadoes in Texas, but usually further north, where the land is flatter. Once every few years we get a tornado warning, but I’ve only taken the kids into the closet twice. Once in the Rio Grande Valley, when R was still a baby and our cats were outside pets, which was fortunate, since our centrally located closet was tiny. And of course nothing happened. Continue reading →
Do you get drunk on green in the spring? I know I do. As a teenager, commuting to school by train, I would lean my face against the window and just drink in as much as I could of the deep May-green pastures rolling by.
Last week’s photo challenge (yes, I’m behind–it’s what happens when I’m writing a series of posts) was street life. So here’s a quick pic I took with my phone in the car in downtown Austin. For some reason it has these rainbow colors, but I kind of like it like that.
I treated my homeless friend Steve to a meal of chicken fajitas at Magnolia Cafe the other day. Talking to him for a while is often overwhelming. So much information. So much of it shocking. Continue reading →
Judging by the news coverage, you’d think that the biggest worries related to the freezing winds this Thanksgiving are the flight delays and the possible lack of giant balloons at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Continue reading →
I’m an Austin resident. I drive my kids downtown to school every morning and back every afternoon. Since I’ve been driving the same route twice a day for five years, I’ve befriended some of the homeless who stand on corners I almost always stop at. These guys sleep mostly under bridges and overpasses. Continue reading →
The kids’ school has project week once a year. During that time the students can do whatever they want, as long as they spend four full days on it, learn something new and present their project the following week.
Two years ago, when she was twelve, R made a documentary of the creek behind our house for project week. It’s about time I showed it off. I’m biased, of course, but I think it’s beautiful.
Austin has had a severe drought for several years. So when it rains, we’re all elated. The creek behind our house is spring-fed and there’s always at least a trickle, but the past couple of years it’s usually not more than that. Continue reading →
Of course I had to end with Willie Nelson, or just Willie, as we call him in Austin. He didn’t make it in Nashville, so he moved to Austin in the early seventies. Austin quickly adopted him as their own. Just recently, 2nd Street was renamed Willie Nelson Boulevard, and a statue was unveiled before the W hotel. He turned 80 in April of this year. Continue reading →
Guy Forsyth is one of Austin’s great musicians. T and I have seen him perform several times. He’s awesome! And he’ll be in Europe for eleven concerts in eleven days, including three in the Netherlands! You are so lucky!
Okay, high time for some more bottoms of bridges. This time the Congress Avenue Bridge. The bottom of this bridge is actually not much to see at all. It’s what lives there. The Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin is home to one and a half million Mexican free-tailed bats during spring, summer and fall. It’s the largest urban bat community in North America. Continue reading →
It’s high time for the bottom of another bridge. This time the small bridge across Barton Springs Road.
I’ve been keeping this one and I find it hard to give it up. I don’t know when I’ll come across anything I like as much. Because it’s short and low above the water, and even lower above the path, it’s almost cozy, intimate even, in a concrete bridge-bottom kind of way.
T, R and I spent some time at the Dripping Springs Founders Day Festival last night. I enjoyed the light versus darkness.
One of the first photos I took was of the sign below, at the Knights of Columbus stand, where they sold raffles. The sign shows what you could win. Needless to say, I didn’t buy a raffle ticket. Other than that it was a wonderful time. Continue reading →
This is not the sharpest of photos, because I took it with my cell phone at a traffic light here in downtown Austin. At dusk, the grackles congregate on the power lines, preferably along the roads and above parking lots. The sound is indescribable–loud but pleasant, like the sound of the shower in the morning. On hot days it almost makes it feel cooler.
We moved from the Rio Grande Valley to Austin almost seven years ago. From the beginning, I was afraid of encountering a mountain lion. T always laughed, but I insisted it wasn’t unthinkable. Continue reading →
The Evolution of X recently wrote a post about maps versus smartphones. Unlike E of X, I do like using the narration on my smartphone. It saves time, money and gas.
When I look at a map to get somewhere in a city, I have to look several times because I have a memory like a sieve. Now, looking at a map while driving is never a good idea, not to mention Continue reading →
Time for another bridge post. And no, this one isn’t about the Mopac bridge. For the first time ever, I present to you the bottom of a different bridge. The Lamar Boulevard Bridge, the one east of the Mopac Bridge across Town Lake in Austin, Texas, the United States of America. Continue reading →
A week or so ago, one of my favorite bloggers posted about the clothes in her wardrobe. She has since taken the post down, so I can’t link to it. But it reminded me of one of my favorite things here in America.
About once year I need some serious clothes shopping. Usually because I have gotten even fatter have given myself a size promotion. Continue reading →
Okay, so yesterday I was a bit of a Debbie Downer, it being Christmas Eve, but both our kids have the flu. They were upstairs in their rooms, feeling miserable, and we decided to pretend that today is Christmas Eve and we’ll have presents under the tree tomorrow. So that’s my excuse. Continue reading →
Sometimes a homeless man with a huge horseshoe mustache panhandles at one of the intersections in southwest Austin. I don’t talk with him much, because the timing is rarely right. He’s accompanied by a black Labrador, who usually sits under an umbrella stuck in the ground, a water bowl within reach. Continue reading →
I really, really, really appreciate living in Austin. Even though we live on the edge of the Hill Country, we have an Austin address. We literally have the best of both worlds. I drive all the way into town every day, so I go from seeing deer graze behind our house Continue reading →
Those of you who’ve been following my blog for a while know by now of my weird fascination with the underbelly of Austin’s Mopac Bridge. Every now and then I just have to spend an entire post on this butt-ugly structure that I somehow cannot get enough of.
Another beautiful spot only 30 minutes from our house is Hamilton Pool. It’s a small park, with a path going along a small stream to the Pedernales River in one direction, and in the other direction it goes to the actual pool.
I thought you might like something nice, after the last post. This morning, after dropping the kids off at school early (their math teacher has office hours at 7:30 am), I went on a brief walk around Town Lake here in Austin. The sun was only just up when I started, and it was slightly misty. I only had my phone with me, but I’m always amazed that the pictures aren’t half bad.
It doesn’t look like the water is very forceful, but people kept drowning around here. The water has formed big holes in the rock under water, and there are treacherous currents. So since the end of the seventies, swimming is no longer allowed. Continue reading →
When you get down the rocky kind-of-stairs, you come to a sandy beach. This part was a setting in the movie Sharkboy and Lavagirl by Robert Rodriguez. And that’s the only interesting titbit of information you’re going to get. Time to explore.
Don’t worry, I will continue what probably seems like my endless series of photos of Pedernales Falls later (I aim to bore, but you love me anyway, right?), but I just had to give you this link to a another blogger’s post about a famous Dutch person. Dutchies, don’t get proud just yet…
The Pedernales River winds across the Texas Hill Country, and at Pedernales Falls State Park it has a wide stretch of rock falls. The word “falls” suggests water falling from a height, but it’s actually a gradual sloping stretch of rock about a mile long, that the water runs over, or slips over. So it’s not as vertically spectacular as, say, Niagara Falls, but it’s still pretty grand, in that low-key Texas Hill Country way. In short, I’m building it up, but I don’t want to set you up for disappointment, either. Because then you might voice that disappointment, and I don’t know if I could handle that, since I’m really rather fond of Pedernales Falls. Continue reading →
After driving to the parking lot nearest the falls, you have a three minute walk through a cedar forest. On an overcast day it’s always slightly claustrophobic. When the kids were younger, I insisted they stay close, because I was worried about mountain lions. T thinks that’s very funny. But just the other day a mountain lion attacked a horse closer into town than Pedernales Falls. You just never know in woods like these… Continue reading →
You probably have the same image popping into your mind as I do at the word “hospital”. Big, drab building with endless, oppressive hallways that all look the same, right? Well, it seems that the architects of Dell Children’s Hospital have been primarily intent on challenging that stereotype. Continue reading →
The hospital in Cody, Wyoming had what you expect to get as hospital food: completely cooked-to-death veggies, blah mashed potatoes and bland, greasy meat. Pretty close to the high fat, zero fiber diet in hospitals in south Texas when we had the pleasure. They had a cafeteria in Cody, but it seemed to be closed most of the time. However, they did give any of us with B at mealtime a hospital meal as well, free of charge, which was really nice, because they didn’t have to do that. Continue reading →
A commenter on a previous post wanted to remind me that it’s never fun to have to be in the hospital, however nice it is. Of course not. So don’t get me wrong, I’d much rather B be better and at home, but that doesn’t stop me from being impressed with the hospital, and everything they have and do to make the stay as comfortable as possible under the circumstances. Continue reading →
We live on the very western edge of Austin, and our kids have after-school and summer-camp activities all over, including east Austin. So if they are there for a few hours, whichever one of us (T or I) takes them, often tries to hang out in the area and work until it’s pick-up time. Continue reading →
Two of the great things about living in Austin are the wildlife and the music. One of my favorite Austin bands is The Austin Lounge Lizards, and one of my favorite Austin Lounge Lizard songs is “Arnold”. I feel like I’ve posted this before, but I can’t find it. And if you’ve listened to it before, I know you will love to listen to it again. Continue reading →
I’m in a coffeeshop here in Austin, not feeling like translating, because my kids have their final exams today and then they’re off, so I can’t concentrate. What better time to download Instagram and start experimenting with all the graffiti on a wall right across the street? Continue reading →
Lady Bird Johnson was the wife of president Lyndon B. Johnson, who was born in Johnson City, west of Austin. As First Lady she promoted the Highway Beautification Act, and in 1982, together with actress Helen Hayes, she founded the National Wildlife Research Center, a few miles from our home in southwest Austin. Continue reading →
One of the many things I like about Austin is its quirkiness.
Austin is a small, liberal and pretty open-minded island in the rest of a very conservative state. And Austinites are proud of that. We drive around in cars with bumper stickers that say “Keep Austin Weird” and we wear tie-dye T-shirts with the same slogan.
One of Austin’s icons, pushing the weirdness envelope hard, was Leslie. The very first night my husband and I went out after we moved here, we were walking around 6th street. Continue reading →
A blog that I visit a lot is A Flamingo in Utrecht, which has wonderful photos of Utrecht, the Netherlands: streetscapes, vistas, and photos of everyday life. It inspired me to post regular photos of Austin. It doesn’t have much to do with being a Dutch immigrant here, but oh well. I love Austin and all its quirkiness, so let’s just say it’s a counterweight to all my griping. Continue reading →
In the late 60s Richard Proenneke built his own cabin in the Alaskan wilderness with only a few simple tools. He spent most of the rest of his life there. Sam Keith fleshed out Proenneke's diary of his first 16 months, when he was making his home by a lake. I love these kinds of books!
An old Oji-Cree healer and her nephew canoe down a river in Canada, away from the world of white people. They both have to come to terms with their past. The woman has lost most of her tribe and the young man is traumatized from his recent experience in the Belgian trenches of World War One. My second book by Boyden. Can't say enough about him.
An incredibly comprehensive history of everything related to slavery in the Southern United States, from the beginning of the colonies to the end of the Civil War. Over 700 pages and I took over 30 pages of notes. I will be sharing over many posts to come!
Hamid's debut novel. I love this author. A young man in Lahore, Pakistan, is the victim of love, drugs, obsession, the class system and his complete lack of self-awareness.
A golem, created in Poland and brought to life on a ship to America, and a jinni who was trapped in a flask a thousand years ago and released in New York -- the most unusual immigrants you'll ever meet.
The only part of her life a Korean woman can control is her body, so she withdraws into it. Harrowing.
Autobiography lightly disguised as a novel about the son of Southern migrants growing up on the streets of Harlem, New York City, in the 1940s and 50s. Written like you're hearing the whole story in a bar. Quite a feat.
The story of a man struggling to make a living in Morocco. No plot, no clearly defined characters, but fascinating in its authenticity.
Pakistani man tells an American about his experience as a college student and employee of an assessment firm in America years ago. Smart, nuanced and pretty darn honest considering the unreliable narrator.
Wow! The answer to the inane platitudes about how all parents love their children and how children should always respect their parents. The protagonist must come to terms with his deeply flawed immigrant parents in order to change himself.
Seven short stories about life during the Kim Il-sung regime, by a writer who still lives and works in North Korea, were smuggled out of the country and translated. Mind-boggling stuff.
A 15-year-old autistic narrator wants to know who killed a neighbor's dog, and ends up much further out of his comfort zone than he planned. Wonderful read!
In politics, education, religion, agriculture, business--it turns out that dumbing down has been here from the start.
Fifty years of Istanbul seen through the eyes of a street vendor who migrates to the city as a young boy. It's also a window into the complicated dance between men and women in Turkey.
Hey, don't laugh, at least I'm trying.
A Norwegian immigrant is cooped up with six other people on a tiny island off the coast of Maine all winter in 1873. A woman in the present researching the Norwegian immigrant is cooped up with three other people on a tiny sailboat. What could possibly go wrong?
A man stuck between two worlds in more ways than one. Fascinating!
Historical novel about early contacts between first nations and the French in Canada. Beautifully written story that doesn't pull any punches. I bought his other two novels right away.
Beautifully written. By my children's favorite English and Creative Writing teacher! It's got rave reviews and we're all very proud of her.
Suki Kim is a Korean-American journalist. She poses as an evangelical Christian posing as an English teacher at a school for the sons of North Korea's elite. Her experience and the information she manages to get via writing assignments are incredible. Definitely a lot more eye-opening that any CNN special.
This. Explains. Everything!!!
Why has Islam not undergone a reformation like Christianity? Why is it so easy for Islamic extremist groups like IS to recruit young muslims? What would it take for Islam in fundamentalist Islamic countries to enter modernity? Does the West have a role to play?
Amazing! A man wanders endlessly through a dreamscape, becoming other people, himself in the past, everything is fluid. Kafkaesque disconnect between people and their different needs.
A multi-layered novel about the history of Libya. A fast read, but one you can repeat and find something new each time.
Twelve Americans go missing in Burma/Myanmar during a tour. Touching and hilarious, but mostly hilarious.
The most unusual murder mystery I've ever read. Incredible writing. It haunted me for days.
The quote on the front mentions that these stories are exhilerating. I couldn't disagree more. They are almost unbearably painful to read, and yet I couldn't put them down. Very well done, apart from the third story, which is written in the second tense. Please let me know if you know of ONE story that works in second tense.