Alice in Texas

Not writing here anymore- see top post for details of my new blogs.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Going live...

I have moved. Wait two seconds for the automatic redirect, or click here...

Now, at last, a blog that does not exclude the half of my readers uninterested in either domestic details or heavy moral sermonising!

Actually, two blogs.

like a tea-tray in the sky: politics, philosophy and general pontifications

down the rabbit hole: the real life of me

Please adjust your bookmarks to whichever you prefer. They each have links to the other, so there is no need to bookmark both.

See you over there...

Watch this space...

The new place should be ready later today. There are just a couple of final tweaks left and then I think I'd better write a post or two, otherwise you will be going over there and finding a big empty page. Back in a while...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

yes, it's another update...

Well, I only have sixteen more tons of things to do and my new blogohome will be up and running. It's being a very interesting experience. The state of web design seems so dreadful to me, I am thinking of setting up in business. The trouble with web design is it is all done by geeks instead of designers. For instance, I have been going through colours so slowly you would think I was Martha Stewart selecting a hundred different carefully-coordinated shades of grey for her new house. Not because I think my blogohome has to look like a stately home, just to avoid it giving me eye-damage.

I'm off to do that now once more, in fact. The practice template I am working on at the moment has a background which looks exactly like a paper bag I once got given in a gift shop somewhere in England years ago. I remember it distinctly because it is an especially annoying design example- mauve and flowery and looks like it should be quite nice, in a traditional kind of way- but instead it's badly done and horrible. There are a lot of 1980s sofas with the same sort of pattern. I think they thought they were updating floweriness to make it slightly art nouveau (the 30s were big in the 80s) and a little bit Millais. What they actually produced was the sort of pond full of vague blurry organic matter that probably accurately represents the last vision of the traumatised dying Ophelia. (OK, that's not a great conceit, but I like it.) If I ever go back in time, I will tell the fabric designers of the 80s that it is impossible to combine traditional English floral with modern edgy, you just have to choose, blurring it up does not work.

Thanks Connie and Sean, I do indeed intend to come back fired-up and full of things to say. Meanwhile I am having great fun doing this designing. I have wanted to have a Proper Blog for years now, but not managed to do it the way I wanted. This time I think I've actually got all three things I need, which are the look, the right twiddly gadgets, and the right blogging identity, which is a thing like a "story" in marketing. Not that I won't be me- I will be more me, which is what these things are about. But that's quite a big subject, I will have to blog more about it once I'm up and running.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

another update...

I really am sorry about the wait. It is of course taking longer than expected to renovate the blog, which always happens. In the meantime I am very excited about my new format, which will make possible all sorts of different and more in-depth writing without the accompanying problems that have been bugging me ever since starting blogging a couple of years ago. The changes are quite minor in themselves, and the reasons they are important to me and my writing are a bit complicated to explain, but I think you will like the results. Whatever you have liked about Alice in Texas or my other blogs before that will be back bigger and better than before, and whatever you are not interested in will be away in the background (but easily accessible to those who are).

As there is no way of knowing exactly how long this is going to take, I will endeavour to keep posting a few things here, although they may be somewhat minimal due to my energies being directed mostly towards the next stage. I asked before for feedback and only got one taker, but if there is anything you want to see more of please feel free to say so here. As you were, once again!

Sunday, August 21, 2005


I am still working on the new improved blog/s. It is taking longer than I expected, as I should have expected. Ongoing apologies for the fact that nothing is happening here in the meantime otherwise I would never get round to moving blogohouse at all. As you were.

Friday, August 19, 2005


I've been working on blog updating and redefining ideas, and am learning a new blogging system. The main issue is how to get rid of the picture of the two whales crashing through a car windscreen at the top. Anyway, it will take a while, so no blogging here for a couple of days. Please enjoy the holiday and be ready to readjust your sets on my return.

In other news, we have tickets for this. Three cheers! Cheaper than a summer holiday and with more obscure 1930s kung-fu movies! Actually I don't know what the movies are going to be, they don't tell you. But there are a lot, and they are sure to be incredibly obscure, and we have tickets for every single one. Gulp.

Thursday, August 18, 2005


This is worrying me. From Dov Bear via Mirty.

However, luckily my horoscope says not to worry today but simply to do whatever seems easy. We all know that horoscopes represent unfailingly accurate moral advice, therefore I shall be following this one's. Back with something frivolous later.

cookies and computers

I am still green but now using a different computer, as you can see. My usual one got a virus which destroyed a small but apparently significant part of it, "windows" I think the thing is called. And now it won't turn on at all anymore. So I got a lot of piano playing done yesterday afternoon. Every now and then I wonder why I am doing all this piano playing. It's not as if I am going to become a concert pianist at my age. But maybe there doesn't need to be a reason for everything a person does with their time.

I also baked chocolate chip cookies. Not having made American-style cookies before, it is taking me a few goes to get right. The first time, I used salt instead of sugar. Yes, I know. Post-house-moving mistake, things got mixed up. The second time, I made the mixture too runny and the cookies fused into one giant sheet. The next time, I tried to make them double chocolate flavour, so substituted cocoa for some of the flour, but then they weren't sweet enough. This last lot was quite close to perfect, but cookie baking is definitely nothing like the English baking I am used to. I want to get it right though, as really good cookies are my absolute favourite biscuit-type thing to eat.

They take eight minutes to bake so I had to keep checking the oven and doing things. In between I was practising the candenza-type bit from the end of the last movement of the Moonlight Sonata. So I was alternately sitting there in my floury apron going DA-NA-NA-NA-NA-NA!!! loud enough to give your granny a heart attack, and popping into the kitchen to change around baking trays.

Well, you probably had to be there.

feedback please

While I slowly work on moving out of the blogger apartment complex (again), this seems like a good time for a general overhaul of the blog. Do you have any comments/ suggestions/ ideas? What do you like and not like? Any feedback welcome.


Gush Katif.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

all keywords

texas, alice, depressing, 2005, speak, bigger, native -
raindrops, business, sonata, custody, comes, song, joe -
meaningless, and, ever, women, most, battle, songs -
campisi, older, beauty, when, country, bachini, deaths.

beautiful, laws, winning -
spa, food, big -
notes, things, august -

bigger pictures

When we lose a great battle which we still believe in, it seems incomprehensible that any good can ever come of it. Even if somehow things might one day get back to where they should have been- and sometimes reality makes this impossible- the loss can never be made good. The time and effort it took to recover cannot be recovered. The learning we gain from dealing with the problems thrown up by the experience will never be equal to the loss. We are not merely mourning what has gone, but the fact that it was taken away. We don't want the world to be the kind of place where this can happen. We want justice to be real, not arbitrary. So at exactly the time we have to struggle for survival in the face of our real personal loss, we also find ourselves without the old sustaining laws we used to believe in. Nothing makes sense anymore. Anything can happen. There are no limits, no expectations, there is nothing to rely on.

This is when faith becomes a necessity instead of a happy luxury. Some people call it opimism, and think that meaning is hidden in the molecules of the universe, and other people call it G-d. But when nothing makes sense any more, we still have hope. When we reach the end of the road we are on at the moment, and can look back, there is a chance that the journey itself will finally make some sense. How much of a chance depends how much faith you have; not because people delude themselves to whatever level they choose, though sometimes one might wish to be able to do that, but because faith is the energy that gets you down the road.

There are many things happening at the moment which I do not understand. But knowing the limitedness of our current understanding is exactly what provides hope for the future. Given how much we do not know, there is every chance that a bigger picture that makes sense of things exists, beyond what we can see right now. And there is every chance that we can learn to see that picture, that it will ultimately emerge from the individual marks we make in the sand each day.

the garden

The garden (yard) of this house is enormous and very beautiful because it is full of trees, like an orchard. I assume it was planted like that for shade, when the little wooden house was built in the 30s. It is also full of animals and insects, which is very interesting for something to watch out there. They all fight over the fig tree and make a lot of noise. I am not a nature expert, I can tell the difference between a butterfly, a squirrel, a bird and a creepy-crawly that might bite me, and that's about it, so I may have to invest in a nature book sometime to find out what everything is. "Wild and dangerous creatures of Texas", something like that.

My plans for the garden are as follows:
1. keep the grass alive,
2. get round to doing something with the overgrown herb patch where one plant has grown into a huge bush and is smothering all the rest to death,
3. occupy the land.

This last part means using the outside space as if it was an indoor space, for recreational purposes. As I said before, there are two (more or less) insect-proof tents out there now, one near the house on the grass and one at the bottom of the garden on mud for using when the grass in the other tent needs a break. There is collapsible furniture for the first tent and the second tent has contents that don't need to move, consisting of an old two-person sofa, a small wicker coffee table, an ancient wicker chaise-longue which I found next to someone's dustbin (I found an identical less ruined version for sale nearby at the moment, for $150, which was cheering) and a tree-stump with side-roots acting as a table/plant-stand.

We decided to make a deck to go under all this, otherwise the rain gathers in puddles, which would destroy the sofa not to mention the big rug under it. So we spent quite a while in Home Depot arranging long pieces of wood on the floor and doing sums, before noticing a ready-made deck leaning up against the wall. It was a big pallette thing for transporting planks, and they said we could have it for free. Apparently people quite often take them and make things out of them. Unfortunately we did not have a truck, and it was ten feet long and weighed several tons. So we bought a saw, cut it in half plank by plank and managed to get it home on the roof of the car. This was fine, as its original shape was wrong anyway, and the two pieces went together sideways to make the right sized deck for the tent.

It is all brilliant, basically, and I love it. At the moment huge citronella candles are mostly taking care of any mosquito problems not covered by the tent, and at relatively mosquito-free times of day I plan to have other things to do in the garden that keep you moving around and therefore less of a target. These are:

1. A trampoline. I have always wanted a trampoline, although what the neighbours will think seeing grown adults bouncing up and down I do not know. (It will be collapsible, to save the grass)
2. I thought about a ping pong table, but a better idea is a net that can be used for either badminton or volleyball. I like this kind of game too. So that is two forms of official exercise, which is good as I don't do any except play the piano at the moment.
3. A hammock. There are two trees in just the right place and the right distance apart for a hammock, although it may need a mosquito net over it. I wanted a Mexican one, but when we went to the only Mexican import shop I could find it was empty.
"We haven't been to Mexico for a while," said the Mexican lady, now living entirely on her fortune-telling and psychic healing skills. "It's too dangerous, people are getting shot down there." Oh well. I used to have a great hammock, but it got left behind in England.
4. A picnic table, to go with the tiny little barbecue which sits in a hole in the ground at the bottom of the garden by tent #2. There is no grass round there, just old logs from a cut down tree and the ground is dry earth. I am calling it the encampment because it is like a clearing in a forest. You can sit on tree-stumps and cook burgers then dash in the tent to avoid any more mosquito bites.

There is also a three-line washing line which could be used as another instant tent for any random children who happened to turn up wanting to play, and a big patch of plants in the middle of the garden that will turn into flowers in the spring. And the last potential plan is to put another tent on the side of the house, and turn it into a washing room with a washing machine and a dryer, because we don't have any in the house as it's too small. Not urgent at the moment though, with just the two of us. Also, going to the laundrette is not unpleasant because it is next door to no less than four different cafes plus an independent supermarket. So that's a coffee for the wash cycle then an ice-cream for the drying cycle, or something similar. I have actually missed out on the pleasantness of this arrangement so far, from being either ill or in a bad mood almost every washing day so far, but hopefully that will not continue.

So, that's all about my garden. There are few things as beautiful as well-designed nature for restoring the soul, so we really lucked-out with this one.