Tag Archives: Austin

May: Done and Done

I guess there are some people for whom the month of May is not over-scheduled, over-blown, and over-rated, but I haven’t met them yet. If you have school-aged kids you are barraged with “end of year” everything, including class parties, recitals, sports tournaments/team parties, class plays, band concerts, and my personal least favorite, field days. These events are multiplied by the number of spawn you have produced, causing you to have new sympathy for the Chinese “one child” policy.  If you are a bit farther down the road of life, you find yourself going to endless weddings of your friends’ children, and if you happen to have a weekend off the wedding circuit you are attending or hosting a shower. I recently spoke to a friend who hosted more showers than I took this spring. Well, almost. In sum, the month of May usually seems more like a test of endurance than anything else. Y’all feel me?

This May I was not in either of the aforementioned groups of May victims, but the month was still too crazed for comfort. I welcomed one daughter home from Madrid and four days later drove her to Saint Louis for the summer. We celebrated my mother’s birthday, showered a precious soon-to-be bride, feted a newly-graduated medical student, enjoyed a glorious Mother’s Day, and cheered my other daughter as she departed Austin for Anchorage on her bike (ouch).

Sprinkled in among the parties and champagne was some Real Life drudgery, including a circle of Passport Hell, a flooded but not totaled car, a leaky ceiling that is still raining pieces of sheetrock (and sometimes water) on the floor, and some lab results which by all rights should come from an obese person who sits on the couch all day with cigarettes and fried chicken but in fact belong to me. What the hell?

This month we also shouted loud cries of praise and thanks for the replenishment of Lake Travis, transforming our Fake House back into a Lake House. Our jubilation was tempered by the knowledge that those same torrential rains wrought devastation and loss of life just a few miles away. It is a sad fact that lately our lake fills up only as a result of meteorological events causing concurrent destruction in other places.


Having finally found an emergency exit from Passport Hell, we are scheduled to return to Paris tomorrow. My new passport is conclusive evidence of the truth of Erma Bombeck’s observation that anyone who looks like her passport photo is too sick to travel. As much as I have enjoyed the May festivities, I do look forward to the relaxed pace of my Paris life. Stay tuned for more episodes.

It may be clean and friendly but the gas pump was slow as Oklahoma.

It may be clean and friendly but the gas pump was slow as Oklahoma.

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Filed under Austin, Lake Travis, May Madness, passport hell, Texas

Paris: Fried Foods and Fine Leather Goods

Bonjour from Texas, my friends! We have been home five days and I have spent most of them in Austin, enjoying my family and tending to our sadly neglected lake house. We missed the bumper crop of Texas wild flowers, but the jasmine is still blooming large on our fence, perfuming the house through open windows (for a few more days, anyway). It’s good to be home.


Yes, we still have no lake, but my sister’s house is on a part of Lake Travis that is still a little wet. We had a nice family dinner on the deck Saturday night.


Notice how much nicer docks look when floating on water than when perched precariously on rocks as in the photo from our house.

Not so long ago Mark and I enjoyed a wonderful dinner at a new restaurant in Paris called Ellsworth. The newest offering by the darling couple who owns one of our favorite special restaurants, Verjus, Ellsworth is more casual, serving tapas seven days a week. Here were a few of our favorites.


These were not your freezer’s corn dogs, my friends. The tender cornbread wrapper concealed duck sausage, and arrived with pickled mustard seeds and strong French mustard for dipping.


These flaky, golden scoops of goodness were fried chicken atop a slightly spicy slaw. Fried chicken is not easy to find in Paris, and this is the best we have ever discovered.


Dessert was apple fritters and cinnamon cream sauce. Oh my. I wish I could conjure some right now. They were so good.

of course there was some of this, too

of course there was some of this, too

Both Verjus and Ellsworth are centrally located near the Palais-Royale. Check them out the next time you are in the hood. Tell them Mark and Kate sent you.


After all those fried calories, we opted to walk home that evening. Our route took us right by the Hermes store, which provided me the opportunity to photograph the windows without the glare of daylight. I didn’t love them, but preferred them to the previous windows, which were just weird.











Thanks for stopping by Paris via Texas!


Filed under Austin, fashion, Hermes, Lake Travis, Paris, Paris dining

Leaving So Soon, February?

Whoosh. That’s how fast the month seemed to go by. A blip. A blink. It was a good one, though. We had some cold weather, which is always nice in winter. I spent some time in Austin, which is always nice in any season. I finished The Goldfinch and read all of Good Lord Bird, both satisfyingly hefty reads. I turned “fifty-too fabulous” and celebrated my first-born turning 24 (whaaa?). Yeah, February was short, sweet, and swift.

Some friends and I spent my birthday visiting the amazing Houston Museum of Fine Arts, a place where I really should hang out more often.





The birthday celebrations continued with a lovely brunch hosted by some dear friends who also happen to be fabulous chefs, a serendipitous combination.


I enjoyed many leisurely days in Austin with family and friends, and, at times, all on my own.

hello, red bud tree!

hello, red bud tree!


yes, those docks are still resting on the rocks down there in the big limestone pit that once was Lake Travis






My first baby, Patrick, turned 24, despite my best efforts to keep him like this:


Finally, a colorful day in the Houston Heights, which is always a day well-spent.


shrimp tacos



So what’s in store for March?  Paris!  Stay tuned.  Same bat channel; same bat time.

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Filed under art, Austin, books, Houston, Paris, Texas


Being a southern girl, I was prepared to hate the cold, grey, damp winter in Paris.  In my anticipatory panic, I bought way too many coats before we moved there.  I hardly owned any cold weather wraps in Texas, and I was sure I would be woefully unprepared for the long, harsh Paris winter.  Much to my surprise, I loved the winter and a half I spent there.  The light is amazing, unimpeded by tree canopies, and I thoroughly enjoyed strolling around in the empty streets and parks, snapping pictures.  Plus, it really wasn’t all that cold most of the time.

Texas has experienced some real winter this year.  While the much-anticipated snow and ice didn’t ever materialize in Houston last week, the skies have been grey and the north wind has blown.  My mom finally broke down and ordered her first new coat in 15 years.  I brought back a few from Paris when I was there after Christmas, and have been happy to have them.

Today I am snuggled in front of a fire at our lake house in Austin.  Mark has headed back to Houston, but Wonder Chien and I have opted to spend one more day and night here in the quiet neighborhood of our house without a lake.

IMG_0885Nothing is blooming, but the flash of cardinals and goldfinches provide color to those who look for it.  Is there anything more stunning than a lone cardinal in a bare tree?

The day that Martha and I went to the Marais turned cold and windy.  I wanted to walk home and take pictures, but soon after Martha peeled off toward the metro on her own, I realized that I had the only apartment keys in my purse.  My walk was cut short as I headed to the nearest metro so she wouldn’t be stuck outside in the cold. Because that’s the kind of mom I am.  But here are a few photographs I got before I was forced underground.









If you ever get the chance to go to Paris in winter, don’t be deterred by the weather.  It’s wonderful.

Stay warm, mes amis!


Filed under Paris

South Congress Avenue- Austin, Tx


Filed under Texas