Monday night marked the end of our first full week in Austin. So far, we are loving it!

When we got here, we had some usual move-in/set-up stuff, and there was a learning curve with the park, and the layout of the city, and where stores were, but we’re already feeling really settled in and having a great time! The first reminder that we weren’t in a small town anymore was when I went to Time-Warner to pick up my wireless router and we had to take a number. Our half hour wait was extremely enjoyable, as the building was cooled to the extreme, and our RV’s a/c was desperately trying to catch up from the half-day’s journey being turned off.

Tuesday, we got up and did our first day of school and work, which was a bit of a challenge since the slide was still in. At 3 PM, the repair guy came, fixed the slide, and even ordered a circuit board for my water heater so that we could enjoy less-than-bone-chilling showers. We decided to leave the awning alone (he noted that, in addition to the motor being out, the spring was probably broken, too), but the tree in the yard is so over-arching that I am not sure we could extend the awning, anyway. Lots of shade!

As he was leaving, and we were walking around taking pictures of the park, my sister and her family came over to say “hi.” The Littles were asleep, so the big Brownies just came in for a few and we all headed over to Wal-Mart.

D has wanted a bike for so long, and I’d promised her that once we got moved, we could get bikes. $300 later (yeah, I’m kind of a cheapskate) we had bikes, helmets, and a gel-cushioned pad for moi. Hey, she’s young; she can take it.

Leaving Wal-Mart, D and I headed over to The Juice Peddler, about which I blogged here. Then we went over to my sister’s to see her new house.

The cousins were having so much fun that Daphne spent the night with them, and then Wednesday, after I’d worked a bit, we all went to Zilker Park. This was our first real introduction into Austin culture, and we LOVED it. We paid the paltry entry fee to go into the “kept” pool (as opposed to the free springs down the way a bit; dogs seem to love it there!). There were hundreds of people there, but it is so big, it wasn’t at all crowded.

 

It was about 100 degrees outside, and the water is always a chilly 68. Although this was a bit shocking at first, we quickly adapted, and it was a welcome relief after days of moving, and working, and humidity.

The people: this is what made the pool brilliant, and one of the biggest reasons I have high hopes that my love for this town will be enduring. So many people. So many walks of life. So many colors (and that’s just the hair). My sister ran into some kids whose parents she knows through work and the Deaf community. There were some extremely beautiful people here, but it was a natural beauty; not a put-on show. In the Dallas area (my single friend who’s dated some Metroplex women calls it “North Dallas Women’s Syndrome, which I didn’t realize was a thing until I started paying attention), trips to a public pool involve being around many women who sit around with designer sunglasses, refusing to get their hair wet, even if they do deign to dip into the pool. Not here. It was chock full of people who were there to enjoy themselves, and to cool off, and not to worry about who was watching them or what they were thinking. Families. A lone Rasta playing music off in a corner. An extremely old, extremely exhibitionist couple. Teenagers. College kids. Bromancers. It was a great time.

The oldest Brownie came home with us, and Thursday morning, I had my first ever Krispie Kreme mystery shop! Another plus in the “Austin” column. From Krispie Kreme, we headed to the nearest grocery store, which just happens to be H-E-B plus! I bought four things, but I think we spent an hour there: watching tortillas come down the conveyor belt, drooling over fajita meats…

 

… checking out the store brand cereals, and just exploring the giant unfamiliar layout. There’s one section of the store where they have $20 meat deals. It’s nearly-expired bundles of things like 1 4-pound fryer chicken, 2 pounds ground beef, 4 pounds bone-in pork chops, 2 pounds of beef bone-in chuck steaks, and 2 packages of hot dogs for twenty bucks! This isn’t great for someone who has RV-proportioned refrigeration, but if I ever plan a barbecue, that’s where I am heading!

We also found our nearest library branch, which is barely 2 miles from the house. While we waited for five minute for the facility to open, we got to witness a rather obnoxious religious “witness” insulting another library patron’s love for Jesus, evidenced by the fact that this lady didn’t go to his church denomination. He left her promising to pray that her love grew from a tiny love to a giant love. I was just *waiting* for him to approach me, and it’s probably better that the doors opened and we were allowed in before he tried.

Thursday, we found out that my parents had come down to check out both of our new homes. We all ended up gathering for dinner at an Austin institution:

After dinner, the two older Brownies came home with us, the girls all went swimming, and then spent the night.

Friday morning, we had a special breakfast party, followed by a visit from Nana, swimming, lunch (left over from The Magnolia Cafe) and then we all ended up back at my sister’s.

Daphne spent Friday night with her cousins, and I had an ambitious idea to make an epic music video for my teammate. Headed into the laundry room to wash clothes, however, I slipped on standing water at the drain and fell. I was mostly concerned that the small amount of mud at the drain would make it look like I’d soiled myself. Heading into the clubhouse to work while the clothes were busy, however, I realized that my left knee had swollen to about 4 times its normal size in a period of about 3 minutes! There was no discoloration at all, but I was worried that my kneecap might be floating around in that mass, totally out of place. After about 10 minutes of freaking out, I touched the alien-looking thing, and realized it was all just fluid. I put ice on it for the next hour and a half (except when I changed the clothes over) and rested in the knowledge that it wasn’t going to require medical attention.

That night, I did make the video, but I sat on my rear the whole time. Then I got restless and went out to see “Hope Springs,” traveling without the net of GPS. I made it, after circling the venue a couple of times, trying to figure out how to get in. In the parking lot after the show, I saw a Chevy Astro, and it was love all over again,

Saturday brought the first rain we’d had since moving to Austin.

I think they like it.

D and I came home that afternoon, but we were to meet the Brownies later that day at a really neat Eco-Arts Festival. It took place at the Austin EcoSchool. Oh, how I wish I had the bank to send Daphne to that. It looks like an incredible program. Growin Together, the new after-school enrichment, is amazing… In fact, I want to go to that!

At the festival, TJ got to help with a chicken wing-clipping demonstration.

They had demos about composting and time-trading and storytime yoga. But my favorite was Food Is Free’s wicking bed instructions. We intend to do this right after I upgrade my sewer connection, per Travis County Health Ordinance.

 

Did I mention the organic, locally-grown food they had for us? I didn’t? Shame on me!

 

Daphne made a mask out of an empty milk jug, a noise-maker out of an empty can and decorative duct tape, and a small planter with pepper seeds, soil, and the bottom of a water bottle. It was a fun night and, again, the random collection of people made my heart happy.

Sunday, we visited Soma Austin for the first time. I’d found it by expanding the diameter on my Google Maps search from our RV until I saw a website that struck a chord with me. This one did, for three reasons. The first was their homeless/unemployed ministry. The second was this, under the “Who Will I Meet” section: “You will meet people who are alot like you.  We are professionals, bohemians, college students, musicians, artists, moms and dads, and more.  We come from broken backgrounds and spotless records, from nuclear families and divorce, we have been through some life and each of us walks with a bit of a limp that life has given us.  Some of us became believers in Christ at an early age.  Others, including the pastor, came to faith in Christ well into adulthood.  We are not perfect people, but we hope to be humble people who follow Christ.  No matter your past or present, we invite anyone to join us.” The third was the art “vibe” I got, and the statement about worship that included various forms of artistic expression.

When we walked in, one of the first things I noticed was that they have an original and evocative “Stations of the Cross” display.

I wish I could panoramically capture the whole thing, but it’s on two walls. Just trust me. It’s moving. Better yet, stop by and check it out.

We loved the people we met, and the heart of the congregation. It is much smaller than any church I have ever attended, but there is an energy and a spirit here with which I identify. I want to get to work! We’re trying to plug in, having attended a small group last night and planning to attend a picnic this weekend… but that’s not in the “first week,” so I’ll hush about it.

Sunday afternoon, I had another mystery shop at a sports bar with pretty swanky food for a sports bar. We both loved it; it would have been great even if it hadn’t been free… but we wouldn’t know, because we wouldn’t have eaten there.

We just relaxed and hung out that afternoon.

Monday, the pool is closed so Daphne and I started the day riding bikes around our neighborhood. I love it! It’s big and beautiful and just a neat community. Daphne did her first day of a new online school she’s trying out. I worked a full day’s worth of hours. We rode bikes some more. I had two lunch shops. I colored my hair and made banana pudding. It was a nice “home” day. We’ve missed those.

So, all in all, a great initial week! We got caught in our first “rush hour traffic” yesterday, but other than that have managed to avoid that particular annoyance. Even then, it wasn’t too bad. We were downtown and got to watch people (and dogs) running in the park, rowing on the river, and visiting. Looking forward to the rest of our lives here…

 

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