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January 28, 2010


have the plywood plank flooring down in the wimberley house.

about time to insulate and drywall.  I really dislike drywall, but for lack of a more cost effective method for finshed walls.... 

has been another musical week for us here in austin:

we caught the adorable erin ivey monday happy hour at the ghost room.  she sounded great but the stage lighting is dim (no decent pics). 

we stopped in at frank: hot dogs and cold beer.  kat refused to try the jackelope as she doesn't eat cute bunny rabbits.  I found the vegie dogs and the vegie chili to be...  not as good as the real thing. this iview of my wife is common now that she has an iphone too. do you see this often in your neck of the woods?.. notice the iglow.

jonathan richman has been in town for a string of four shows. 

jonathan richman cactus cafe 2010

I went to the cactus cafe in the UT student union to sit in line at 6 pm.  the doors open at 7:30 and the folks in line were expected to exceed venue capacity as it had on monday night.  I was #8 in line.  we managed to get the #1 table, jonathan richman played right over us and tommy's drum kit was nearly up against us.

we have tickets to the sold out Yo la Tengo show at antone's this friday eve.

and I have taken it upon myself to guilt charlie hunter to return to austin for a show.  it has been nearly a decade since he last played here.  I've enjoyed being able to see him regularly on both east and west coasts, and I don't aim to be quietly ignored here in the middle of texas.  just maybe I will get my way "... you've successfully lit a fire...."- charlie hunter's reply to my plea. charlie plays a custom made eight string guitar, three of those string are from a bass guitar.

January 25, 2010

free margaritas gallery tour

the week started out with a foodie party.  royal fig catering is new to the area and hosted a fantastic grand opening party.  they did everything right.  I had a slight diversion from my vegetarian diet for this beef carpaccio, better pics of their food can be found on their blog entry from the event

royal fig carpaccio

also offered was a nice selection of beer and wine.  I really enjoyed the white bordeaux.

el chile free margaritas

we set out for lunch on saturday.  had a few cervezas packed for a trip to torchy's tacos (tacos w/o beer is like a bicycle with out a seat).  then, we stumbled upon a new el chile location.  one of our favorite east side eateries.  the "FREE MARGARITAS" sign caused to rethink our lunch destination...

two free margarita per person.  lunch for a family of five for under $20!

bay6 gallery

we stopped by bay6 gallery to attend the closing of, So many things.... by j. haley

and to deliver a birthday pinata to our friend, artist sharon kyle kuhn

I had my way with pattrick the pinata and liberated some cervezas.

encaustic lessons

sharon offers lessons in encaustics and did a demonstration for the kids.


then we made our way over to co lab.  I participated in a project for alyssa taylor wendt.  I repeated a story that was recorded by a previous person, who had done the same thing.... like the game of telephone.  the kids played outside. 

co lab seems to help people experience art, not observe it.  I enjoyed this facade of a typical american home  that teetered back and forth in the wind, seemingly always on the verge of catrastophe.

co lab mural

I returned sunday evening to meet the charming alyssa taylor wendt and experience the completion of her project.  as expected, the final version of each story was both extremely abbreviated and skewed from the original.

sunday had us returning to our wimberley off grid home project.  I had taken 4x8 sheets of plywood and ripped them into 2x8 planks.  I applied ebony stain and floor grade clear coat.  the new planks are to be our flooring. our install progress was once again limited by batteries.  I had managed to leave one of the cordless drills in austin from the home projects of last week.  not easy to have the tools split among two locations,  half of what I need is not where I need it.

leonard cohen

I completed a few framing projects.  we purchased the leonard cohen poster when we saw him at the long center last year

caroline wright

we recently purchased this piece from our friend, artist caroline wright.

January 18, 2010

the 48 hr cocktail party, or as they say in louisiana "the weekend"

tres amigos 

we had friends from louisiana in town for the three day weekend.  took them to austin's east side for some mexican food and to introduce the louisiana crew to micheladas.  fit like a glove.

had a few people over for a cocktail or three.

one benefit of having so many talented friends, party guests end up jamming for the fun of it.  great entertainment.

getting prepared for karaoke.

looks like a little dancing too....

breakfast beer

the next day....  turns out they like the michelada also known as "breakfast beer"

I got the studio strobe out and waited for people to walk by.  a real slice of life sort of portrait.

we steam cleaned the floor twice to remove stickiness that resulted from glass containers meeting the unforgiving concrete floor.  kat also cleaned the new FLOR on the stairs.  then we went to hippie church, it was sunday.

mexican martini at maria's taco xpress

on the table

under the table

kids table

mexican martini cocktail time.

just a sign of the times, everybody has a camera just about everyplace.  bend over and be prepared for somebody to start taking pics.

then we tried a new place, red's porch.  I've heard this place described as the Oasis without the drive out to the lake.  has a great view to the west for taking in sunsets and vistas of the green belt and barton creek.  but on this day there was a football game on, and loudly.  throngs of people put their backs to the view and stared at lcd TVs.  one of which was right over my head.... (sigh).  I've become annoyed with restaurants that don't offer TV free seating areas.  I can stay home and look at a TV.

the beer was good.


more fun with photography back at AMH.


pic above was taken in 1989, below is 2010 (three out of four are the same, big john is still in shreveport so my friend jason acted as his stand in, about the same height)


years ago I had an idea for a regular magazine feature that would show bathroom graffiti.  I see the "okie roy + a stick = a stick" written in bathrooms all over south austin. 


January 11, 2010

indoor project week, SCARY ARCTIC BLAST!

we saw extremely low temps for central texas this past week. down into the teens!  it was a good time to knock a few projects off the long term list. 

we had some leftover FLOR scraps.  after a great deal of hair pulling and bad languages spewing from my mouth (broken drill bits etc) I managed to screw through each one of those 1/8 inch steel treads.  the carpeted stairs are FAN-TASTIC.  no longer do our feet make THUNG-THUNG-THUNG sounds as we use the stairs, and the cold steel is now insulated from bare feet.  the long term objective of introducing some softer surfaces should help resolve some of the sound travel issues.

kat's biggest complaint about this house has always been the small closet space.  this is now resolved for the kid's rooms.  each child now has a large portable cabinet with shiny stainless steel doors.  we also managed to get rid of the baby crib and little man has made the transition to the bottom bunk.  I took a picture of the daughter's room while it was being transformed/cleaned up.  it was an obvious inidcator that she is growing up when she said "don't post that picture to the blog!"  it has been respectfully omitted.

g-plan teak side table

HEY!  look what we found!  OK, so we bought this fabulous G-Plan solid teak credenza few years ago.  for the past two years it has been burried under baby clothes; clothes now relocated to the cabinet in the boys room.  I am excited to once again see the surface of my favorite piece of furniture in our collection. 

 kat and I often have differing ideas of organization and cleaning up.  for me, a jumbled up wad of wires would be cleaned up if they were chucked away in a drawer or cabinet, out of sight.  for kat, they would be completely acceptable on top of a cabinet or counter top as long as they were unknotted and neatlysorted and organized.  maybe I am more of a minimalist, she is much more of an organizer. I do not really care to have my underwear folded before it goes into the drawer, it seems to perform the same either way, kat cringes when she looks at my side of the closet, the shoe pile!  however, when clutter seems to be out of control, I start to freak out.  my solution is most often to get rid of the excess stuff, kat's solution usually involves the container store.  the neatly folded and stacked baby clothes on top of the G-plan cabinet have not bothered kat as much as they have me.  this week, our problem was solved with her more storage method.   

HOO-RAY for the additional closet space and a happy ending. 

friday evening was just about as much "ARCTIC BLAST!" as we could take.  we jumped up and went to happy hour at a nearby tex-mex joint, el arroyo; the ditch.  it was a last minute idea and we arrived 10 minutes before happy hour ended.  we sat in the patio space (somewhat enclosed for winter) and enjoyed margaritas, ice and all.  another happy ending.

el arroyo happy hour

all this arctic blast talk seems to have caused a rise in global warming skeptics.  I've noticed people of reasonable intelligence scoffing at the idea of climate change.  the comments often seem to involve partisan politics.  I'm not a very political person, don't really care for/trust politicians myself.  but I have observed that climate opinions have become muddled up with red/blue politics.  it seems that if one side says "up", the other side is obligated to scream "down", as a matter to be argumenative. 

yet I believe most people of average intelligence have the common sense to not spend a great deal of time in their garage with their car running and the door closed...  that is usually considered to be suicide!  somehow the same exhaust when released into the earth's atmosphere is supposed to just float on out to space?  we can all see the population growth, the sprawl, the expanding use of energy, more cars on the road than ever.... where does the pollution go? 

I don't claim to be a climate expert.  I also don't claim to be a marine biologist, but I suspect I could pour a few ounces of beer into my koi pond with no real harm to my fish.  and maybe I could pour a whole beer.  but, I suspect that if I got into the habbit of dumping beer into their water every  day, in increasing amounts, I would eventually find the tipping point.  the water would eventually become unhospitable to support fish life.  yet, some refuse to accept that we could have any effect in our own very thin layer of atmosphere. 

what would it take to convince some people that it is possible and that we should change our energy production/consumption and management?  the clean water act was spawned from when the cuyahoga river caught fire!  do we need such undeniable proof?  can we afford to let our atmosphere be jumbled up in partisan politics?  I mean, WHAT IF the scientists are right?  and all the people who laugh at global warming on cold days are really against Al Gore  because they see climate as a political issue and something they are obligated to dismiss.  I have to wonder if that Inconvenient Truth movie would not have been more widely accepted if Mr. Gore could have kept his face/name/politics out of it.  I watched the movie, and even I thought it lost steam once he started talking about his presidential campaign.  can't we keep facts and science out of the partisan politics that seem to have taken a firm grip on the country.

I was prompted to write about this subject after I read a headline from USA Today this morning; Report: 2009 was a warm year in USA

I feel the need to visit Glacier National Park before Grinnell Glacier is completely gone (estimated to happen in 2030).  maybe I should fill my 13 MPG truck up on biodiesel for the trip.

January 06, 2010

2010 AMH portrait

happy new year to all of you and yours.  I was able to get everybody in one place long enough for a quick portrait. 

click here for larger version,

click here for larger version,

click here for larger version,

daughter's guitar recital slower this time,

"my man in the desert"

as it is too cold to go down and work on our own off-grid project in wimberley.  and we have some medium sized home projects to complete (INDOORS) here at austinmodhouse, I will share another blog I have been reading.... the field lab

 I should preface by admitting I have romantic notions of life in the desert.  one of my favorite family camping trips was the mojave desert.  I loved all the space, the rocks, the bright stars at night, the cactus.  I didn't care for the nightly wind that tried to carry us away and had us scouring the scrub for our belongings the next morning...  (pics from that trip)

 mojave camp

anyhow, I ocasionally check the listings for parcels of land out near big bend nat'l/state parks.  5,10,20 and 40 acre lots in terlingua are often listed on ebay for very affordable amounts (starting at less than $2k).  so then I discover this guy who is trying to build a sustainable home out there all by himself, complete with a greenhouse being made from four used shipping containers.  it has been an entertaining read so far


what has been most amusing to me is the live cam he has up at http://www.stickam.com/thefieldlab

John Wells can often be observed basking in the sun, enjoying a smoke and a beer while listening to NPR.  or having a long idle gaze at his project, figuring his next cut and weld move, compiling a mental list of tasks.  he even has the regular monday night feed from the local happy hour.  it was very strange having that bar experience from a non-participatory vantage point.  I could hear the guys at the table discuss the bill, who was paying cash etc.  a stranger walked up and asked "is that the new HP mini?".  a great deal of idle bar chatter streaming into my kitchen while I enjoyed my own michelada and prepared dinner. 

but I just about died laughing when.... 

so, "my man in the desert", as I have taken to refering to this guy when I tell kat what he has been up to, is streaming from the starlight theatre.  what goes in must come out and after a few margaritas, it was time for a potty break.  we go along for the ride via streaming stickam.  we see the path to the WC and we are placed on the sink, facing the wall, the microphone transmits the familiar sounds of spent margaritas being vacated from the human vessel.  then, a knock at the door, "THUD-THUD-THUD".  our man in can responds in a falsetto voice "who is it?  I'm taking a shower".  pure comedy from the desert.

as the chairfag instructed...

"Because you're gay for chairs" -chairfag.com

I managed to find some more herman miller eames shell chairs.  they were listed on ebay for local pick-up.  a group of international bidders managed to jack the bids up in the last second of the auction, bidders who held little regard for the seller's request to not deal with shipping, especially out of the USA.  those bids were cancelled and I received a second chance offer. 

I was pleased to meet the sellers and view some of their other mid century modern pieces that had been in the family since purchased new in the 50's.  The six shell chairs I took home had vinyl upholstered covers that had shrunk from time.  I peeled them off and started the arduous task of refinishing the shells.  I found a great tutorial at chairfag.com

eames shell chair restoration

the shells were pretty ugly under those shrunken skins.  glue and mud dauber nests, the glue was the real problem.  the solvent-ish spray can of goof-off was only mildly effective.  I switched to orange citus gell stripper and that easily softened the glue.  take-out variety chop sticks worked great as a scraper.  the pic above is after the glue removal, wet sanding and one coat of the penetrol.  already they look MUCH better. 

temps are dropping fast.  kat loves to dress marvin up.

marvin in his winter coat

kay-so spends most of the winter napping in her favorite chair.

January 04, 2010

an assortment of circles

we directed a new batch of funds to our cottage project.  not sure they are still cabins as they are now one structure and we've started to move towards an attached bathroom.  I had planned for an out-house, kat has requested we attach the bathroom.  I agreed to give a try. 

we also made a trip to ikea and bought a few interior pieces.  will be great to get the interior cleaned up.  will really start to feel like a home then. 

more circular pavers, I love the randomness of their spacing and size.  also completed clearing the circular drive and was able to get the airstream off the property and back here to west lake hills (78746)

kat designed and constructed PVC cages to support plastic sheathing to protect the plants from future freezes.  we had an early freeze this year and lost many tomato fruit.

pvc tomato cage

we knew we had some large melons growing in the back yard.  kat was excited to cut them open and find they are winter melons.  her parents had planted them when they visited.

winter melon soup

she made spicy winter melon soup!


I am the family time keeper.  the guy who is constantly reminding everybody else what time we need to be ready to go, to be in the car, and when to finish up to move on to the next item on the agenda.  it is often a thankless job as nobody likes to rushed, yet the clock continues to move forward.  we had plans to spend new year's eve down town, at the First Night event.  I was unaware that Kat had compiled a mental list of specific events/places/times of the event.  things sort of fell apart as I had assumed we were doing a similar version of first night that we did last year.  that, and we have been sharing an annoying stomach virus also complicated the schedule.  we managed to not make the special stops kat was hoping for.  next year we'll make it downtown mid afternoon, with a clear idea of where/when we are going. 

we made a quick pit stop at the ghost room before the parade.  kat enjoyed some quality time teaching the older two to play pool.

ghost room pool table

ghost room juke box

little V was in awe of the juke box.  other guests seemed to enjoy watching him dance there in front of it.

we missed the first part of the parade...  what we did see was mostly similar to last year's parade.  they passed out seeds instead of candy.  last year it was mostly fresh fruit.

was there an alice in wonderland theme this year?  I saw a few tea pots and cups.

LED hula hoopers

the LED hula-hoop bunch always make for fun pics.

just as the parade ended, the wind kicked up and temps dropped quickly.  we found most stores had already closed and we needed a quick warm up treat.  headed to the comfort of truluck's and lucked into a table in the bar area.  most downtown dining rooms were filled with reservations.

trucluck's for new year's eve 2009/10

little V getting his yogurt.

happy bubbley kat

happy kat and her flight of bubbles.

truluck's crab claws

fancy crab claw presentation and lobster bisque.

we were home and in bed early.  haven't been awake for the new year in some time, amateur night.  people who don't normally drink much tend to think this is the night to get hammered.

new year's day: two older kids and I went on a hike.  wild basin preserve is just a few minutes from our home.  west lake hills is just over those hills.

wild basin water fall

water fall was flowing nicely.

on new year's eve, on the way home, driving up a dark twisty road near our home.  I said "I think I just saw a Louis Vuitton purse fall off that car in front of us".  I turned around at the top of the hill and pulled over.  sure enough, there in the dark was a small clutch.  we got home and I used the online white pages to find the number for the owner.  she called two days later, was so excited her LV purse was safe. 

moet chandon reward

I was happily surprised when she had arrived with a bottle of champagne as a reward!