Sunday, December 31, 2006

William the Satyr at the RenFaire - Alamo, TX

What I saw today....

Saturday, December 30, 2006

2007 Polar Bear Sculpture

(Amazin' Walter & sandy feet strike a pose at last year's effort)

Weather permitting - the Sons of the Beach Sand Castle Wizards will be out in force at the 2007 Whiting Street Polar Bear dip on New Years morning. We are encouraging everyone who has any interest in participating in this sculpture - from shoveling and hauling water to castle building & carving - to show up around 9 AM and pitch in. Let's make this the biggest and best one yet!

And then, of course, stick around for a quick dip in balmy-by-many-standards - 66.2 degrees at this very moment - water and the post-dip party at Billy Boomerang Beach. HOpe to see you there!

Update 12/31: that water is cooloing fast, kiddos. It has dropped nearly a full degree to 65.3 in just 24 hours. BRRRRR!

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Spring Break in December

Southbound traffic on Padre Blvd. was backed up as far as KFC when I finished my last sandcastle lesson yesterday.
That median is sure going to have to be pretty to make up for all the aggravation this project is causing...


Saturday, December 23, 2006

merry merry!

It is that time of year and here I am once again sending out a link to my virtual Christmas Card. As usual, if you click on the stocking you will arrive at one of those silly newsletter things that you can either view or ignore -- no will ever know! -- and your personal invitation to brunch on Monday, Dec. 25th should you find yourself in the neighborhood. For the 13th time, the whole world is invited... don't forget your ukulele...

Hope to see you sooner rather than later -- and may all your Christmas wishes come true!




Thursday, December 14, 2006

When the Spigot Runs Dry

Turned on the faucet yet this morning?
If not, be prepared for a big disappointment.

The doom and gloomer environmentalists have been telling us for years that we were going to run out of water. This morning Island residents are getting a hint of what that might feel like.

The water district put notes on everyone's door informing us that the water would be off between the hours of and 6 AM. But now it is nearly 8 and it is still not back on. The only reason I have coffee is that I keep gallon jugs of reverse osmosis water for the fish tank.

I already hear rumors of restaurants being closed and Circle K's being coffee-free this morning. How long before widespread panic sets in?

Update 8:12 - I was just (unofficialy) informed that the water would be turned back on in 15 minutes


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

"Castles in the Sand"

This NY Times editorial is not about...sandcastles.
It should be of interest to anyone who lives on the Gulf Coast.

Pragmatism, fiscal and otherwise, dictates that we cannot afford to continue the cycle of development and destruction. The vulnerability of our nation’s shores will only increase over the next decades as global climate change leads to rising sea levels, increased coastal erosion and stronger hurricanes of greater duration.



Sunday, December 10, 2006

merry martini

As usual, I had a great time at Merry Martini. And I also had fun at the after party party at Kelly's. Which is maybe why I wasn't feeling all that great today....

The mounds of toys and canned goods seem to grow hugely every year and speak volumes of the generosity and spirit of giving to be found in our little community. Thanks again to the organizers, sponsors and workers for pulling this thing together year after year. And special thanks to the anonymous nice person(s) who keeps me on the guest list year after year ;-)

Now it is starting to feel like the holidays!

(Photo by Nancy Marsden)


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Building a Continuous Duneline - First Step

What I got from last week's BOA meeting is that there is some strong support for this with the majority of the board members eager to see a specific plan for implementing this long-held goal. They have asked the city manager - with the guidance of the Beach & Dune Taskforce - to come up with this plan in time for an early Feb. presentation.

Though this same board recently saw fit to demote me to a mere "alternate" on this committee (I'll get over it -- eventually ;-) I am prepared to throw myself at this issue and have begun jotting down some notes that I hope the taskforce will use as a basis for a plan.

As I see it, there is much we can do to get the ball rolling that does not require massive expenditures on the part of the town. The drive-over for the town's maintenance vehicles is going to be expensive and many of the pocket park walkovers are in need of upgrades - I sure would like to see some of the hotel/motel taxes used for this specific purpose - but we can help the dunes build themselves with relatively little expense, especially if we can marshall some volunteers:

1. altering current beach scraping operations by scraping less often and less aggressively - particularly in the slow season; handpicking the litter from the natural leavings; and dispersing the piles of seaweed more evenly
2. using christmas trees, hay bales and/or fencing to collect blowing sand in areas where there are no dunes
3. planting native flora in the spring to keep the new dunes in place

Last year 20-30 of us buried some trees, hay and fences shortly after the holidays. I don't believe these dunes were planted with anything but I do think they were still somewhat effective. Is the city going to support this effort again in 2007 by collecting trees for this purpose? And perhaps we need an official report on last year's effort as to just how effective it was, and which method worked the best.

City planner Cate Ball was very helpful with this project last year. She is currently on maternity leave and I know that Mr. Morales is overextended in her absence, but it would be nice if someone from the town's staff could step in and give us some guidance on this.


Friday, December 08, 2006

picture of barges and bridge

Amazin' was out fishing with Capt. Randy when the barges broke loose..



Thursday, December 07, 2006

Grouchy Adults Still Trying to Outlaw Cruising (surprise surprise)

I hadn't been to a Board of Alderman's meeting in quite some time. Last night's was more fun than I anticipated.

Specifically, I found the lively discussion resulting from one alderman's request for an anti-cruising ordinance most entertaining. The specific concern is spring break and since these days spring break is pretty much just Texas week and not even the weekdays but just the two bracketing weekends -- well, I think we are talking about setting the legislative wheels in motion to crank out a new ordinance that would basically apply to all of ... um, six nights a year?!

But kids are drinking while they are driving! They are disorderly and a danger to themselves and everyone else! They are playing loud music and laughing uproariously and flirting and lord knows they aren't spending money in our shops if they are driving around in their cars.

Please don't tell me I am the only one here who has fond memories of cruising the drag -- in my case it was the Grand Haven (MI) waterfront -- and the adults didn't like it then, either.

So who are these cruisers, anyway? I don't believe they are the breakers themselves, who predictably leave the beach/condo to eat or shop or drink and don't want to be sitting in traffic any more that you or I do. It is the kids from up the valley who come here to cruise. And they cruise for the same reasons you and I did when we were their age: you're too young to get into Louie's; you might see someone you know or meet someone new and interesting while hanging out the window of a slow-moving car; you're too broke to afford much more than gas money and you could only sit at the Grand Haven A&W drive-in for so long before they either wanted you to buy something or move along.*

I'm surprised I have to remind you of this.

But it's not safe! says another alderman. In reality, I would guess that sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic is one of the least-risky behaviors these kids are likely to engage in while here. I think that the people who hate the cruising the most really just hate spring break, period and I have to tell you that I am not all that fond of it myself. But it really is - for the most part - just kids being kids; it is only crazy for a week or two and the money it brings in benefits us all -- even if we do not cater directly to those children.

(I don't even remember any bad traffic jams last year: maybe it was a slow year, maybe the city handled things better or maybe it was a combination of the two but there is a danger in basing new spring break specific ordinances on drunken bacchanalias gone by instead of the increasingly toned-down affairs we have been seeing in recent years.)

If you really hate spring break, Texas week is a great time to take that well-deserved vacation. Let the kids have their fun and remember that the fond memories they are building today will very possibly translate into the desire to share this place with their own kids tomorrow.

*which brings to mind a story told me by an employee of a sandwich shop strategically situated on Padre Blvd. Seems that a whole bunch of these cruising valley kids stopped into the shop, milling around and taking turns in the facility. When the owner told them they had to buy _something to earn bathroom privileges, they obligingly emptied their pockets to collectively produce enough change to buy a single white chocolate macadamia nut cookie - which they carefully divided into eight mostly-equal portions to enjoy whilst awaiting their turns in the loo.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Try This at Home

bridge closed??!!!

I hear it has been closed as a "precautionary measure."
Did a barge hit something?
Does anyone have any info?

Update: The bridge was closed - apparently for a couple of hours - this evening when a barge hit one of the new dolphins built after the collapse in 2001. The thing did its job and protected the bridge from any structural damage. Or that was the news floating around the BOA meeting tonight. (More on that tomorrow.)

Update #2: (press release)
- From The Texas Department of Transportation

Subject: Pier Protection System protects Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge

For Immediate Release, December 06, 2006

Pier Protection System protects Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge

Cameron County- Queen Isabella Memorial Bridge was NOT hit by a barge
earlier this evening. The Pier Protection System installed along the bridge
was the structure hit by the barge, which saved the bridge from any damage
or collapse. The bridge has been opened to traffic.

The Pier Protection System was installed in 2004 to protect the bridge from
incidents like todays.


For more information, please call Amy Rodriguez at (956) 239-1671 or (956)


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Just in time for Christmas - Wearable Art Shows

The perfect gift for the gal who has everything can be found right here on SPI. Christy (the clown who also sews wonderful things) has scheduled two art shows in the coming weeks that will feature her tie skirts, soft sculpture fun hats and purses. Way cool stuff and when you buy from Christy you are keeping the money right here in the community.

Wed. (12/6) 11 AM - 2 PM at the Laguna Madre Yoga & Meditation Center (5009 Padre Blvd. Suite # 10

Tues. (12/12) 4-8 PM at Island Traders Bookstore/Museum (114 w. Pompano St.)

Christy sez: "If you'd rather buy in private - I make house calls!"

sandy feet sez: "These skirts are the coolest... I own two of them myself! Someone on your list is gonna flip when she gets one of these."