TLA Journey I

April 11, 2007

Currently, Diane and I are staying overnight in Austin to make a quick trip tomorrow to San Antonio. We will attend the Texas Library Association Annual Conference there, which lasts until Saturday. We would have waited to leave home on Wednesday, but we want to get into the exhibit hall at a reasonable time to bring in materials for two booths. After accomplishing that, we should be able to relax the rest of the day. In the days following, I have a few obligations, but Diane has quite a bit more.

After breakfast at a nearby IHoP, we returned home to pack. As Diane finished getting belongings together, I called Dad at home to monitor his progress. He continues to improve, but my brother and I had a couple of cell phone conversations to figure out plans for short-term care. We might also have him down to Oklahoma and Texas over the course of a few weeks as his strength continues to improve.

With the exception of a quick lunch at a Wendy’s in Waco, we drove straight through from Fort Worth to Austin. After arriving at a Holiday Inn Express, Diane and I settled in… temporarily. Her parents are watching our pomeranian/chihuahua mix Arabella, who apparently fainted for a few seconds today and yesterday. We asked them to take her to the vet, and they called with regular updates. With the current concerns about certain pet foods, it seemed even more important. Fortunately, the vet determined that Arabella simply had congestive heart failure… a horrible-sounding problem, but common among older dogs. He prescribed a diuretic, which she will need to take every other day for the rest of her life. With the relatively good news and low bill, Diane and I couldn’t help but consider the absurdity of a dog taking a diuretic, mainly because Arabella already “goes outside” quite a bit (even if it’s inside).

After handling things with Diane’s parents and Arabella, we left for a favorite Italian restaurant called Romeo’s. Diane had chicken piccata, and I had tortellini sugarosa. We usually go there at least once on visits to Austin. We then went to the Whole Foods mothership, where we sat outside to enjoy gellato and yogurt. Our visit to downtown Austin ended with a visit to Bookpeople, a wonderful independent bookstore with a great deal of character and selection.

Diane and I like to find any excuse to visit Austin, so we felt sad about having to go back to the hotel. We last visited nine months ago, so we were about overdue for a fix. If anyone knows Texas well enough, Austin stands in marked contrast with the rest of the state for a number of reasons. Even a visit during the oppressive heat of July can make one feel comforted by the apparently laid-back and open atmosphere of the city. Traffic is horrendous due to the recent population boom there, but those concerns dissolve when you figure out which streets go one-way, find a decent parking spot, and start to take advantage of all that Austin has to offer. Of course, people watching remains fun. You don’t have to look far to find bicyclists or people walking dogs. (In fact, the Austin city buses have racks in the front where passengers can place their bikes.) We actually saw someone tonight on a three-wheeled bicycle, with a leashed Jack Russell terrier keeping the pace. Upon entering Whole Foods, we also saw someone sitting on the patio with two Cavalier King Charles spaniels and a baby. The adorableness quotient was way too high there.

We got back to the hotel around 10:00. Diane got a call from her birthmother in Michigan, while I flipped through the most recent copy of The Austin Chronicle. I read a bit about the new Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino hommage to grindhouse theater, which was quite interesting. One of the articles mentioned a fact I had forgotten: that some of my favorite directors, such as Francis Ford Coppola and Martin Scorsese, got their start making such films. Watching the movie isn’t high on my list of priorities, but it still sounds like interesting viewing, right down to the fake trailers by other directors. Personally, I think some enterprising opera company should follow the lead of this movie. Perhaps they could do a double feature of Richard Strauss’ Salome and Elektra, whose plots could probably receive some kind of “grindhouse” treatment. Bring in Rob Zombie as overseer, and they’ll be in business.

What I just wrote probably makes no sense, but I think I can just blame the long day of travel, the Austin “vibe,” the two family health watches involving Dad and dog, and the late hour. Hopefully, some sleep and time along the San Antonio Riverwalk will bring me back to my senses.

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