A Week in the Texas Hill Country: The Upsides and the Downsides

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The view at night from the porch with the light and flash on.  Spooky!

The Downsides of Country Livin’

  1. Solitude is nice — unless you’ve caught the cabin on fire, a coyote is making a meal of your leg, or you’re out of salsa.
  2. Well water, especially the hot stuff, literally smells like rotten eggs, because it has sulfur in it.
  3. You can’t find your own ass after dark without a flashlight. Some scenes from the classic 1974 horror movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre were filmed not 10 miles from here. See the dark picture up there?  Spooky.  ‘Nuff said!
  4. Save for that one time the neighbors showed up on their daily walk and I was dead asleep in a nap, the roar of airplanes, the howling of coyotes, the very loud rain on the tin roof, and even louder electric or fire hazard gas heaters, it’s really mellow and safe out here.
  5. Speaking of heaters, it’s cold or hot until you turn something on. So peeing in a bucket at night is what you do to avoid a chilly trip to the bathroom.

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    Hmm, shouldn’t pee buckets be yellow?
  6. Tonight I couldn’t find a plug for a light in the dark, and hit my forehead on a shelf I forgot was there. Then I tepped off the raised floor in the living room and nearly fell over.  Still couldn’t find a light.  Stumbled into the bedroom.  Cabins!
  7. The road is gravel, dirt, clay and mud — bad for cars and horrible for bikes. It’s getting really boring walking back and forth.
  8. You can literally be up the creek. Because of the steep incline, you could be trapped here in a gullywasher.  (That’s the scientific term in Texan for flash flood.)
  9. The paved road to get in has no shoulder but does have hairpin turns, crazy hills, and speeders, drunks, or speeding drunks. Not fun for cycling although people do it.  You gotta have a car out here and once you’re on the highway, it’s always a drive and rush hour is a big hot mess.
  10. The neighbors are all polite so far, and a few are model citizens who help with the dog or house, or give a city boy advice.  But some are pretty private or their dogs don’t play well with others.  I’m also still waiting on that first home-made pie.  Like Waiting for Godot, I imagine.
  11. Coyotes, bobcats and snakes, oh my!  Haven’t seen any of them, have heard the wild dogs, but I did see a mouse in the house.

The Upsides of Livin’ in the Country

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Buddy helping me read Waltter Mosley’s latest Easy Rawlins mystery
  1. Things and time do move more slowly.  I’m good with that!
  2. Peeing outside is pretty cool, especially if you’re a dude.
  3. Nobody cares if you’re nekkid. Elaine on Seinfeld is still right though, “Naked is not a good look for a man.”
  4. Peace and quiet, very little traffic noise. Nothing compared to where I stay in the city with its garbage trucks waking you up at 7 am, cop/fire/EMS sirens and Jehovah’s witness.
  5. All the comforts of home, heat, wi-fi, running water, electricity, but none of the pollution.
  6. img_20180221_103347836_hdr1575669238.jpg
    Buddy looking fly in his cold-weather wrap, checking out the woods

    You don’t need to lock the doors; if there’s crime I haven’t heard about it.

  7. Being surrounded by the natural world of trees, dirt, birds, and wildlife is how we’re supposed to live.
  8. “The stars at night / are big and bright / [clap clap clap clap] / deep in the heart of Texas.” (It’s the fight song of the University of Texas Longhorn sports teams.)
  9. Compost right in the garden, or anywhere.
  10. There’s a lot less to distract you so you tend to do more walking, thinking, resting and reading, and a lot less stress eating, tv-watching, or going on wasted trips to fast food or convenience stores.
  11. Buddy the dog may be the happiest dog around and he’s what his owner called strong medicine.  I need my Buddy prescription refilled please, doctor!

I could go on but I think you get the point:  I really like the number 11.  (Well, it’s true, I do!  Because one plus one makes two!)  But seriously, it’s different, but it’s still life.

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Dew drops on the tree limbs don’t show up well in this picture, but I was trying to show that it’s still winter here

ADAB Roundup

  • No biking, still too cold and wet, and I wimped out on a trainer ride, using how it bothers the dog as a reason/excuse.  That means tomorrow I’ll have to do SOMETHING.
  • Mosley’s book is really good; I feel like I know the characters and they have something to say about the time and place — black people in Los Angeles in the late 1950’s.  I didn’t consciously check this book out of the library because he’s an African-American author and it’s Black History Month (yes, the shortest one, but perhaps the most powerful becauese of that!), but it’s interesting timing along with just seeing the reception of the movie Black Panther.
  • There has been conversation about it serving as a real role model for young kids of color who usually don’t have a super hero who looks like them on the big silver screen.  I’m also in touch with a Kenyan blogger, Twalha Fakhi, who lives in Kenya.  I’ve really enjoyed a few of her posts and her nice comments about mine.  Go check out her blog, Cafe ave Twali
  • Speaking of Kenya, the movie, and Africans and African-Americans, here’s a link to an interesting Washington Post interview with Larry Madowo by Karen Attiah, Global Opinions Editor.  He’s a Kenyan journalist and broadcaster.
  • Cleaner diet, higher energy and better sleep, plus catching some TV shows and movies, and of course bicycling are things still not happening as much as I’d like.
  • Walking, yoga, work searching and networking, reading, blogging and engaging with other bloggers, plus typing for a friend — all these things are happening.  As a Libra, I’m always searching for balance.  Soon, having to work will probably wipe out alot of my extracurricular activities.  Such is life.  C’est la vie.  Asi es la vida.
  • Or, to quote Austin-area resident, Lincoln talks-to-himself spokesmodel and Oscar-winner Matthew McConaghey“Just keep livin’.” 

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City of Austin Transportation Department Community Conversation: Data Doesn’t Lie

Bikes Came Before Cars & Will Be Here After Them, Too

Today’s post is about a meeting I attended put on by the City of Austin Active Transportation Department.  They were reporting back on improvements to two streets in East Austin.  The headline for me was that adding bike lanes and reducing car lanes from four to three did not increase travel time. In fact, travel time was decreased, because traffic signals were synchronized and optimized. This was measured with Bluetooth technology so it is not subjective.

Still, naysayers and disbelievers will convince themselves or anything to reinforce their narrow paradigm that only cars deserve to be on the roads.  To me that’s just illegal, wrong and backwards.  Such is politics.  It didn’t matter to me when I just tooled around for short periods.  Now that I’ve been out there biking over 13,000 in three years, saving my life and the lives of other people on bikes is more important. Continue reading

The Next Door App: Lost Pets, Stuff for Sale and Hatred of People on Bikes

People on Bikes and Lanes for Them Are Here to Stay

Today I was going to post about a Safe City Cycling Class, but due to cedar fever, my body was devoid of most energy.  So I posted up in my bed to take an extended siesta.  I’m still feeling as if I were run over by a truck, so bear with me.  I hope to attend the next class on Saturday and report on that then.  Looking around for a topic, I realized the Next Door War on Cyclists going on today would be a “fun” one.  Not being sure about permissions and copyrights, I will just quote from there instead of put whole posts.  When someone brings out the word “douche” and they’re not French or talking about a shower or feminine hygiene, let’s just say it gets pretty heated.

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