Greetings from Austin, Texas!

So I normally do posts about places that I’m visiting, but yesterday was such a spectacular Autumn day, I decided to play tourist in my own back yard.

I’m not sure why, but it seems to me that the fall colour in Austin this year is particularly vibrant – and a tad early.  The sumacs are really outstanding this year.  This is one of my crepe myrtles.

Crepe Myrtle - Nov 14

Crepe Myrtle – November 2014

This is the view from my office.  I see this every day, but try not to take it for granted.  About three years ago, the Texas Preservation Board decided that the Capitol Dome needed to be painted.  A travesty in my humble opinion.  When finished, it looked like a shiny pink M&M.  Hopefully some of that is fading.

Texas Capitol Rotunda and Senate - Nov 14

Texas Capitol Dome, Rotunda, and Senate Wing – November 2014

This is the north-facing side of the Capitol.  It’s hard to tell from this photo, but you’ll note there’s only one flag flying on the pole – the Texas flag.  Since it’s facing north, I think there’s probably not such a subtle message.

Texas Capitol Dome - Nov 14

Texas Capitol Dome – November 2014

The Texas Capitol grounds are wonderful.  Probably close to four city blocks, there’s great parkland for the kids on field trips to run around.  Also many monuments.  I pass these on my twice-daily walks.

This is what a live oak tree looks like without pruning intervention.

Texas Capitol Grounds - Live Oak

Live Oak – Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

The relatively new memorial to the Spanish Explorers and early Tejano settlers.

Spanish and Tejano Memorial Texas Capitol Grounds - Nov 14

Conquistador and Tejano Monument – Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

This is a view down Congress Avenue.  When my grandmother was a little girl, this was the primary road from San Antonio to Austin.

Congress Avenue - Nov 14

Congress Avenue – Austin, Texas – November 2014

This is one of the several Civil War memorials.  Every decade or so, there’s a bill introduced to remove them from the Capitol Grounds.  You can imagine the fate of those bills.

Confederate Memorial Texas Capitol Grounds - Nov 14

Confederate War Memorial, Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

This is the south portico of the Texas Capitol.  Most rallies occur here because it’s the terminus of Congress Avenue.

Texas Capitol South Portico - Nov 2014

South Portico, Texas Capitol – November 2014

This is a wonderful ‘cowboy memorial.’

Cowboy Bronze Texas Capitol Grounds - Nov 14

Cowboy Bronze, Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

Cowboy Bronze Texas Capitol Grounds1 - Nov 14

Cowboy Bronze, Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

This is the dome of First Methodist in Austin, on the west side of the Capitol.  The façade is Greek Revival, but the interior is definitely late 19th century Texana.

First Methodist Austin Dome - Nov 14

First Methodist Church – Austin, Texas – November 2014

This is my favourite memorial on the grounds – the Spanish-American War monument.  Part of it’s charm is the giant sycamore tree behind it; one of the few on the grounds.  I love sycamores – they have a unique smell that’s really hard to describe.

Spanish American War Memorial Texas Capitol Grounds - Nov 14

Spanish-American War Memorial, Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

This monument is interesting only in as much as it’s the subject of a rather dubious recent Supreme Court ruling.  It’s fun to watch the more politically connected tourists take their photos with it.  It’s also amusing to me because it’s right next to the exhaust fan from the Capitol Grill, so it always smells like French fries and fried chicken.

Ten Commandments Texas Capitol Grounds - Nov 14

Ten Commandments Monument, Texas Capitol Grounds – November 2014

After work, I go running at Town Lake.  (You can always tell an old-timer, because we call it ‘Town Lake’ rather than ‘Lady Bird Lake.’)  Here are some views from there.

Town Lake to Redbud Isle - Nov 14

Town Lake west to Red Bud Isle – November 2014

Town Lake to Downtown - Nov 14

Town Lake east to Downtown Austin – November 2014

Town Lake - Nov 14

Town Lake Autumn Foliage – November 2014

And finally, a city view from Barton Creek Mall in southwest Austin.

Austin Sykline - Nov 14

Austin Skyline – November 2014

A Sort of Homecoming

My apologies to U2 for the title of this post  but I thought it was à propos in several different ways.  (Not a good week for Bono, apparently; a few days ago, one of the doors of his private jet fell off at 30,000 feet over Europe and yesterday, he was injured in a bicycle accident in Central Park and needs surgery.)

Anyroad, I’m attending a conference in Grapevine, Texas (more about that below), so on my way from Austin, I stopped by my alma mater, Southwestern University in Georgetown.  I hadn’t been by the campus in about 10 years and it’s almost unrecognizable from when I was a student there some 30 years ago.  It was such an odd feeling of disassociation (and melancholy).  Some things are still there,  conjuring powerful memories, and then there are completely new buildings with which I have no connection at all.  But some things never change – the unique student body.  I saw one student in the union wearing pajamas, a bathrobe, and red fuzzy slippers.  Doubtless I was equally as colourful in my own peculiar way.  Here are some photos…

Southwestern University

Southwestern University – Established in 1840

Southwestern Fountain

Fountain at Southwestern University

Lois Perkins Chapel - Southwestern University November 2014

Lois Perkins Chapel – Southwestern University

And as I was passing through, I stopped at the Salado Cemetery to get better photos of the grave of my fourth great uncle, John Wesley Cadwell and his wife, Aletha Ann Jeffers.  J.W. Cadwell was quite the legend.  He and Aletha Jeffers were the first couple married in Navarro County, Texas in 1848.  He was also a Texas Ranger and his exploits are detailed in the book Twenty-seven Years on the Texas Frontier or Fifty years in Texas, written by his friend, William Banta (who married Aletha Cadwell after J.W.’s death).

Gravestone of John Wesley Cadwell Sr

Gravestone of John Wesley Cadwell, Salado Cemetery, November 2014

Gravestone of Aletha Ann Jeffers Cadwell Banta

Gravestone of Aletha Ann Jeffers Cadwell Banta, Salado Cemetery, November 2014

So my conference is at the Gaylord Texan, in Grapevine.  It’s described as a “…luxurious hotel overlooking Lake Grapevine and brimming with authentic Texas style and hospitality…” I beg to differ; there’s nothing ‘authentic’ about it at all.  I’ve stayed here before and the adjective I continue to be drawn to is unnerving.  It’s a mashup of Logan’s Run, meets tacky amusement park, with a huge dash of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ thrown in.  It just continues the disassociative state today has taken on.

Gaylord Texas - November 2014 - 2

Faux River Walk – Gaylord Texan, November 2014

Gaylord Texas - November 2014

Christmas Explosion in Bizarre Texas World – Gaylord Texan, November 2014

Gaylord Texas - November 2014 - 1

More Christmas Explosion – Gaylord Texan, November 2014

And now for a completely gratuitous wine plug.  I had this great pinot grigio the other day with ‘Pasta Fazool.’  Italo Cescon Pinot Grigio – nice and light, but a great compliment to the soup.  And it comes  with a vine twig, too!

Italo Cescon Veneto

Italo Cescon Veneto Pinot Grigio


Gothic À Gogo

So I’m still going through the pictures from our recent trip to Germany, Poland, and Norway.  This time, my camera seemed to focus on architectural elements.  I’ve always had a very strong affinity for all things gothic, so here are some of the better elements – with some baroque mixed in.


Cathedral – Bremen, Germany – Door Decoration


Statute – Hanseatic City of Lübeck


Gargoyle – Rathaus, Hanseatic City of Lübeck


Dresden, Germany


Dionysian Orgia – Dresden, Germany


Berlin, Germany


Wittenberg, Germany


Trondenes Church – Trondenes, Norway


Trondheim Cathedral – Trondheim, Norway