Friday, 22 March 2019

Austin was cold and gloomy - but then there was a wedding!

I was in Austin, Texas on March 15th and 16th.

Austin was not at its best.  It was overcast and downright chilly. 

The wedding guests from Cambridge/Boston MA said that it was warmer in Boston than in Austin. I believed them.

We were in the final two days of the West by Southwest Festival, a two week event which attracts up to 300,000 visitors. (Hotel prices were sky high!)

Here is a bit about the music part of the festival.

Now I will get a bit "old codger snarky".

The city was filled with thousands of young people  (20's and 30's), black, brown and white who wandered around (noses in their smart 'phones to find the nearest gig).  Many streets were blocked to traffic.

Man buns in abundance. Women and men dressed down to the max. Eating Food Truck barbecue of dubious provenance (and sad to say, leaving paper plates and plastic forks on the ground).

And riding those instantly rent-able electric scooters,  with scant regard for pedestrians and car drivers; scooters which can be abandoned at will "wherever".

In short  they were "partying to the max".  Good for them this old (and somewhat envious) fart says!  Why not!

In truth there were gigs right across the street from my hotel room, gigs which lasted until 2:00 a.m. on both nights. I decided not to get bothered with this, instead I tried to tune my heart beat to the drum beats.



It took place at the Château Bellevue - a splendid Victorian mansion on San Antonio St. in Austin.

Here is a promo video about the Château - a well known Austin wedding venue.


The groom was Tano Holmes (son of Dr. Michelle Holmes and Derrick Z Jackson - beloved parishioners at St. James's in Cambridge, MA)

The bride was Clarissa Martinez of Austin, TX.

They met in NYC and were married in a quiet civil ceremony in the Bronx last October.

The ceremony in Austin was a great celebration for their Massachusetts and Texas friends and family members.  I was honoured to be included as a guest (and not in any ecclesiastical role).

The wedding venue (1)
The wedding venue (2)

The exchange of vows.  Tano was in tears. He is a tender hearted man.

Michelle Holmes and Derrick Jackson - looking splendid

Clarissa and Tano at the reception. 

The handsome Derrick and the lovely Michelle at the reception.


Sadly Tano's older brother Omar got to be very sick (complications from diabetes) on the flight from Boston to Austin.  He was taken from the plane to St. David's Hospital in South Austin and could not be at the wedding.

His honorary Aunt/Godmother Lisa and I visited him in the  ICU  at the hospital,  on the afternoon of the evening ceremony. He was delighted to see us.  We were happy to see him. 

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Why I traveled to Austin TX (Pittsfield MA and Cambridge MA connections)

I had been  invited to a wedding celebration there (more about this tomorrow), but I could not be in the area without visiting my dear and good friends Sam Gillen, Libby Jones Gillen, and their children Gigi (16) and Theo (13) who live there.

I'd officiated at Sam and Libby's wedding way back when in Pittsfield MA, and I baptised the two children.

Pittsfield friends -  Libby is the daughter of the late Chauncey Jones and Dr. Grace Jones.

Others - Grace Jones is one of my dearest friends.

Hamming it up with Libby

Libby (with "Winnie"), Sam and Theo

I cheated on Zion with Winnie. 10?lbs of sheer joy, intelligence and affection. Champion Squirrel chaser.

I took this horribly out of focus photo' in a hurry. GiGi and Libby were leaving on Friday evening for a Volleyball tourney in Denver. I knew in advance that my visit with them would be brief.I

Here is a much better photo'. taken a few years ago.

I could not be in Austin without visiting the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library. He, like Teddy Roosevelt was brilliantly progressive, yet fatally flawed.


I also visited the George Washington Carver Museum, Library and research centre.

The Discombobulation of Travel - and the great work of the TSA

Last Thursday (March 14th) I set off on my flights to San Antonio TX from Sarasota FL.

My good neighbour Barbara B met me at 4:45 a.m. and drove me to the airport for a 6:00 a.m. flight.

I decided to be marvelously modern and check in using my smart 'phone.  All well and good except that..

..after checking in, I immediately forgot the PIN I use to open my 'phone many time a day.

Clearly forgot a PIN I use many times each day.  Utterly forgot it. 

Forgot it within five minutes of using it,  Go figure.

So much so, that having  tried many alternatives, I was warned that I had two more chances before my 'phone would revert to factory settings. (A safety feature to thwart access by unauthorised users of the phone, i.e. thieves.)

As if that were not bad enough,  I also forgot which car rental firm I had used for the car I had reserved in San Antonio.

I'd booked the car via Delta Airlines so I tried to access my Delta page via my I-Pad but (would you believe it) I twice entered entered an incorrect password -  and was locked out of the page.

It was as if I had entered a memory time warp. Travel can be discombobulating. (yes I know that smart people write passwords down and keep a copy in their billfolds - I am not always smart!)

Mercifully the car rental desks are all in one location at the airport. I took a chance that I had reserved a car through Alamo. Indeed I had.  When the clerk asked me to provide an emergency 'phone number my mind clicked into gear, and I remembered the correct pin for my 'phone.  No Factory Settings purgatory for me, no siree!

Apart from being charged six times by UBER for one ride I had no further mishaps, that is until I got back home on Tuesday 19th.

Oh no -  my I PAD had gone AWOL. I called my San Antonio hosts Ward and Kelley but I had not left it in their home.

I called San Antonio Airport lost and found.  It was after hours so I left a message.  My call was returned the next morning.

They did not have my I PAD so I asked if there was a TSA lost property office I could call.  I did not have to make a separate call as I was transfered immediately to their line.

Good old TSA  I spoke to an entirely friendly TSA officer.

I asked if by any chance my I PAD was in their custody (they must have scores left at the security "belt" each day).

Did I remember which terminal I used?  I did.

Did I remember the approximate time I went through security.  I did.

I was put on hold for no more than three minutes then the officer asked if the I PAD had any particular identifying mark.  I told him that if he opened the cover and saw a photo' of a couple named Ward and Kelley ( it was their lovely 2018 Christmas Card which I had stored under the I PAD cover so that it would not get crumpled in my luggage).

That's unique identification!  And yes indeed my I PAD was in the safe hands of the TSA.

This friendly and efficient TSA agent then outlined what I would have to do in order to give Ward or Kelley permission to retrieve the I PAD.

I called Ward and told him that there was no hurry, but he, who always prefers to do something yesterday which could wait until tomorrow, drove to the airport and back to get my I PAD.

It's ostensibly a half hour drive, but given extensive road works it is not an easy drive. WARD, you are a star!

And deepest thanks to the TSA agent who did not treat me as yet another dumb OX who had been careless at the airport, but could not have been more courteous and helpful.  

Three cheers for the TSA!

and a smile from me to me for storing that photo' under the cover of my I PAD.


N.B.  I also lost or mislaid a brand new pair of khaki shorts and a brand new belt which I had bought at a KOHLS store the day before I traveled.  But that's another discombobulation story.

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Bye Bye Texas

 Back at home after my five day trip to Texas.  (Austin and San Antonio) More about my adventures in a day or two.

Today my flight from San Antonio arrived in Atlanta thirty five minutes early.  My arrival gate from San Antonio was two gates away from my departure gate to Sarasota.   

Arrived in Sarasota on time.  My good friend Ashley met me at SRQ and drove me to the wonderful Bayside Pet Resort (10 minutes from the airport) where Zion had been since last Wednesday.

Did I ever get an over the top, enthusiastic, joyful welcome from Z!  Made me all teary eyed.

More soon.