Posted in Adventures, kids


Helpful terms and definitions:

parking angels – It doesn’t matter where we go, what time of day it is, or how far away we go, 9 times out of 10, Jene’ will find a good parking spot. Good, as in within the first five spaces away from the front door.


It’s the first day of Spring, and on the way to Austin, we see many fields of Texas wild flowers (bluebonnets, Indian paintbrushes, etc) that line Highway 71. Jene’ suggests that if it’s still daylight when we go back to Houston I should have my picture taken with them. We get to Austin around 11:40 a.m. Jene’ is driving and we are on our way to Congress St to find a place to park within walking distance to the State Capitol.

Jene’ calls her sister, Joy, wife of Texas’ newest Railroad Commissioner, Victor, whose swearing in we are in Austin to attend. Joy is at Jene’s aunt’s house in Austin getting ready for the ceremony. We have some lamps in our car for Joy, and it is decided it would be easier to drop off the lamps now, rather than after the ceremony, so we go to Jene’s aunt’s house.

Joy, who does not normally care to wear makeup (she last wore makeup on her wedding day 18 years ago), meets us outside for the lamp exchange. She has applied makeup and her face is too dry and she knows it doesn’t look good. She also knows Jene’ will be the honest one who will tell her it looks bad and also tell her how to fix it. She asks Jene’ how it looks and Jene’ says, “You look about 10 years older,” and Joy actually looks relieved. “So should I wash it off?” Jene’ answers, “Yes, and I know how we can make it look better.” Jene’ and Joy go upstairs to mix her foundation with moisturizer (Jene’ is like Heloise with attitude) while I say hello to other relatives downstairs.

Joy and Victor have three daughters. Laura, who is 15 and very beautiful, is also an accomplished guitar player, singer and songwriter. Christina (Nina as she is called by her little sister) is 11 and hides none of her emotions. You know exactly how Christina feels all the time. She has a very expressive face and outgoing nature. Grace is 2 ½ and is a real handful. She evidently has developed a fear of going places recently.

While Joy is getting her makeup fixed upstairs by Jene’/Heloise, Christina is trying to convince Grace to finish her lunch. Grace’s clothes have not been changed and her curly hair is sticking out in every direction. It is after noon by this time and the ceremony begins at 1:30. Grace sees me and says, “I don’t want to go!” Everyone else is trying to convince her we’re not really going anywhere, everyone is just dressing up for fun. Grace then starts this tearful, frustrated exchange with Christina.

“Nina! Mommy!”

Christina picks up Grace to take her upstairs.

“Nina! Eat!”

Christina rolls her eyes in disgust, backs up and puts Grace back in her chair.

“Nina! Mommy!”

“Nina! Eat!”

This happens at least three more times, and finally, Christina puts Grace back into her chair and says, “eat, then we’ll go see Mommy.”

“I don’t want to go!”

Laura, the teenager, has come downstairs. She crosses her rams, looks at her baby sister and says, “Grace, you’re going whether you like it or not.”

“I don’t want to go!”

I retreat upstairs to see how the make over is going.

Jene’ and I soon leave the house and to resume our search for a parking space near the capitol. Jene’ is silently praying for parking angels (see above) as we drive up Congress St. After a fruitless search, we turn onto the street in front of the capitol and see a few odd war protest signs. I’m all for everybody being entitled to express their opinion, but please, for Pete’s sake, at least make your signs and yourself appear somewhat intelligent.

We decide to follow the signs to the parking garage. Jene’ drives a couple of blocks and says, “I don’t see the signs anymore, so I’m turning.” As she is turning, I see the sign up the street, so we go to round the block to get back to the parking garage. On our way back to the main street… a parking spot appears. It is the second space from the street that runs directly in front of the capitol. Jene’ smiles and thanks her parking angels as she runs across the street to get change for the parking meter.

Jene’ and I make our way up to the capitol building (not as long of a walk as I had anticipated – thanks parking angels), go through the metal detector and stand in the rotunda and wait to see signs of the rest of her family. We find a cousin and go upstairs to the senate chambers.

This episode will continue in Part 2 of Shae’s Great Austin Adventure!


I seek to live, breathe & work creatively. Late bloomer. I survived breast cancer and so much more. I will meet each challenge w/determination, badassery & sass!

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