Friday, December 30, 2005


Last evening after a great dinner, we were heading back to S.O. from the east, intending to turn into Spanish Oaks Club Boulevard. Traffic seemed heavy. I put the turn signal on as we started down the hill, to give plenty of warning. There appeared to be a clearing in the traffic coming down the opposite hill. I sped up to try to catch the gap, but by the time we got to the turn it had closed. We stop. I pump my brakes to remind the folks coming in our lane that we are stopped, and they start to peel off, one by one, into the other lane. Except that last car - which doesn't seem to notice we are stopped. The lights come up at a "they don't see me speed." I curse and floor it. My car accelerates very slowly. The car behind me finally 'gets it' and the looming lights dip a bit as if he's on the brakes. We go up to the shopping center and turn around.

Guess I won't die of a heart attack today. Or a rear ender.

Some thoughts: If you turn your wheels while you wait to turn and ARE rear-ended, the push will push you into oncoming traffic. If you do what I did, it now looks like your brakes aren't on (they aren't) and the car closing on you might just not notice your speed and hit you without slowing down. I should have left my turn signal on (or flashers.)

When we lived in California, freeway land of drive-fast-then-stop, there were many many rear-enders where people were killed. Maybe I'm overly sensitized. Right after we moved here we had a similar experience (though in daylight) in which the oncoming car was in a 4 wheel skid toward me... and wouldn't have made it. Luckily, I abandoned my turn in time, and accelerated from the point at which I would have been seriously smashed.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

TxDot to discuss 71 in Bee Cave

There will be a public hearing January 5th to discuss Rt 71 improvements in Travis county. The hearing will be at the Bee Cave Village Hall (13333-A highway 71).

Open house at 6PM - there will be displays to see what's up.

Technical presentation will follow at 6:30PM, followed by public comment.

It seems that specifically they'll be addressing the area from 620 to 2244 (Bee Caves Road). Nothing slated to be discussed about our needed traffic light that I can tell.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


The annual meeting will be held January 12th at 7PM in unit #4 of Verde Trails... across from the office. There's a mail piece which will be out very soon with full details.


Somebody please explain how they can allow fireworks of any kind to be sold in a burn ban area in an extreme drought? What am I missing? Oh - no bottle rockets. Adult supervision. Safety tips. HUH????

PS: I LOVE fireworks. But I love my house (and yours) more.

Monday, December 26, 2005


A grass fire which stared at a construction site on the top of Musket Rim blew up into serious wind-whipped flames, Monday afternoon, which were then put out by the arriving Hudson Bend Fire Department. An occupied home was threatened, but not affected in the end. Nobody hurt, no damage of consequence.

But a warning! Especially as the fireworks stands tempt, it's VERY VERY dry. I don't know if the burn ban is still in effect - I would think so, but even so, you have to be EXTREMELY careful.

After checking, yes, the burn ban is still in effect.

54 grass fires in Austin last week.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


So I'm not PC. Sorry. Happy Festivus then.

Every time I smell felt, I think of the green felt covering my Lionel trainboard that Santa put up under the tree when I was young. I could barely get to sleep when I'd hear him cursing loudly as he smashed his hand, or got a shock from the Plasticville interior lights that poked up from beneath the board.

We had early twinkling lights and they made little "dings" as they superheated to just below tree-torching temperatures, then would wink out. The whole tree-full made a sound like ice crystals should make when they form in the air on a cobalt sky day of sunny cold.

I would stare into the reflective balls and see the world wrap around itself. I still like shiny metal colors. I still like it when the world wraps around itself.

I'd drop a tablet into my train smokestack and the locomotive would start to puff. It would circle the tree endlessly, with my careful driving on the big transformer. Sometimes it would veer off the board at high speed and crash to the valley floor below. Luckily, it would miss the stack of presents which were on display there. I'd lean on the horn and it would remind me of the real ones I'd sometimes hear wailing into the dark, when the wind was right, off in the distance, right before I feel asleep, safe in my bed.

Sometimes I'd go back to the now 'empty' stocking hung with care and find another special toy hidden in the toe. That was great!

I loved guns. One of my favorite Christmases brought a ping pong ball gun. There was a picture of my dad showing a very young me how to shoot it. This was not my typical dad. Years later, after some drinking, he and my uncle stood in the ocean surf shooting 45s at the moon. How I wish he would have played with me that way.

Christmases are like a cavalcade of time and memory. Benchmarks for family, friends, joy, and loss. I hope they bring you peace and jubilation this year. And maybe you get your ping pong ball gun!

Friday, December 23, 2005


We'll get some sort of notification by mail shortly as the meeting will be in January. As far as I know, the owners of lots/homes are not represented but may attend. I plan to go and will report back here.

One thing I will voice, assuming they take input (I believe they do): who looks for enforcement of the rules and regulations? And then what happens?

Example: LOUD music playing again from construction crew down the street. Doesn't our drive-by guard notice? It plays all day.

Example: "Illegal non-standardized" for-sale sign from real estate agent. Doesn't our drive-by guard notice?

Who rolls through at night in the dark? Who monitors for floodlights way out of compliance shining all over everything? They make a big deal in the regs about light, even reflectivity.

Lights either burned out or turned off at the mail center/boxes. Who notices? There were at least 4 dark the other night. In a gated community of million dollar homes? I expect better.

It's a fine balance to strike: between management and over-management. I think there are too many instances of UNDER management. Your mileage may vary.

I could go on and on but someone should be responsible.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Maybe we should have a secret handshake.

Good article in the Austin American Statesman today FRONT PAGE about the rise in the SW real estate market and also in the $1 mil plus homes.

SW Austin sale numbers up 68%; median price, up 1%, days to sell, down 62% (to 22 days)
$1 Million and up: Y-T-D, sales 192 % increase, 50% (in sales, not price)

Ain't life grand?

Maybe we could gather and smoke expensive cigars.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Another section for you.

Exterior Recreation or play Equipment

"All exterior recreational or play equipment, such as swing sets, slides, play structures, jungle gyms and similar equipment, must meet the intent and requirements of all sections of these Guidelines, including color. This type of equipment or Structures must be located in the least visible portions of the lot and must not be visible from the golf course, adjacent lots or common areas. The height of this type of equipment shall be limited to a maximum height of 8 feet above finished grade. All exterior recreational or play equipment requires specific approval of the DRC prior to installation.

Outdoor storage buildings, unless designed by the architect and submitted as part of the final design review, shall not be allowed. Other structures such as, but not limited to, barns, sheds, cribs, guest cottages, and in-law cottages shall be submitted as per the design guidelines and approved by the DRC prior to construction."


We ran into some folks yesterday who had visited this blog and wondered about what is in essence a FORUM. Sorry, but that's out of my area of expertise. A forum is where you can all contribute and see each other's replies in a stream.

On this site you have two options and I encourage you to use either.

One is to simply pick a posting and click on the COMMENT word after it, which allows you to comment. As a moderated site, though, I have to approve your comment. That's to keep someone from spamming us all or being inappropriate (not that YOU would be, but it's open to anyone in the public.)

I usually check for messages once or more a day and approve right away. Then you can see your comments (and so can anyone) by clicking on the comment word to which your comment is now attached.

The other way is to E mail me your posting or comment: A post is more visible than a comment. Tell me what you'd prefer.

Hope this helps!

Friday, December 16, 2005


.....Bee Cave December Sunset


I think I have figured out part of the traffic light (Spanish Oaks Club Blvd) problem.

Coming down the hill from H-E-B, if the light had turned red and a line up had begun on 71 Eastbound, you could crest that hill at 60 MPH and slam into the rearmost car. And the 'valley' is too low for a high light on a pole.

Maybe a flashing yellow farther up 71 to warn when light is red would work, but I sure wouldn't want to be the rearmost car if that line was long!

Just some thoughts for you to chew...

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


You're on Bee Caves road, coming to 71. The lanes have been clarified with better marking at that intersection. I believe there are four lanes. As you face 71, they are (from the Left to Right) LEFT TURN - STRAIGHT (into shopping center)- RIGHT TURN - RIGHT TURN.

Thanks to TxDot for helping clear this up!


More random notes from the design guidelines:

"To design buildings that seem to "grow out" of the site by responding to the climate, landforms, and native landscape."

"To create buildings that have a strong indoor/outdoor relationship."

General guide (heated and air conditioned footage)
Less than .50 acres: 4000 sf
.50 to .75: 5000 sf
.75 to 1 acre: 5500 sf
1 to 1.5 acres: 7000 sf
1.5 to 2 acres and up: case by case

I find that interesting, as our 4200 sf home sits on 1.5 acres. To imagine it 75% bigger just seems huge.

More guidelines:
Max building height (two story): 35 feet from natural grade to highest point on roof

Basic roof lines should not extend more than 5 feet beyond the tree canopy on lots with major trees (8 inch diameter base or more) Feature elements (towers) may exceed height restrictions with written approval of DRC.

One story home height limit: 24 feet

White limestone or very light stone as predominant stone for exterior walls prohibited.

Gutters and downspouts must be made of copper or lead coated copper.

No oversized or two story entries such as triumphant arches or enormous front door assemblies are allowed.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


They REALLY did their homework. The guidelines are quite detailed. More random highlights (out of context, but interesting!)

No two or three car garages to be facing street.

No light spillover into neighboring lots. No uplighting.

Basketball hoops to be screened from view of street or neighboring properties.

Walls and fences to disappear into surrounding vegetation. Fencing or walls not to extend beyond building envelope (Boy has that one been unenforced or non-existent till now!)

All lots to have at least a two car garage.

Each lot to have a minimum of two guest parking spaces with cars screened from view.

River rock may not be used for rip-rap drainage treatment.

More as I dig deeper.

Saturday, December 10, 2005


I could never transfer all that data into this website - it must run a hundred pages. All appears to be well thought out and clearly presented.

I thought that you might find excerpts interesting as I come upon various subjects in my reading, to give you a snapshot. However, remember that this is just a snapshot, and you might need the context to get the whole story.

My reading of this is that it's close to the original Brochure Description, which I capitalize, as that's what grabbed us, and we are happy to see it preserved.

In that spirit, there are new requirements for maintaining the natural look - and it covers the design of homes, the materials used, and the transition from natural to house-envelope areas.

To that end, I found this interesting.

The building Envelope is basically where your house goes. That's where man made improvements take place. No man made improvements are allowed in the natural area... the portion of your lot that lies outside the building envelope.

WITHIN the building envelope:

for lots .75 to 1 acre
14 hardwood trees minimum, min 6" minimum
7 ornamental trees
600 shrubs, 1 to 5 gallon

It seems obvious to me they are intending to get away from the sweeping lawns some folks have put in.

for lots 1 to 1.5 acres
18 hardwood trees minimum, 6" minimum
10 ornamental trees
700 shrubs, 1 to 5 gallon

There's lots more detail, but that'll give you a taste. Existing shrubbery and trees count to the total. But remember, this is WITHIN the building envelope!

Come back for more.


While walking Jessie this morning I couldn't help but notice something - the fiesta of loud distorted truck-radio Mexican music was missing from the tableau that is construction here in S.O. What a joyous noise replaced it. I could hear the wind... and myself think...

I wondered if this was a serendipidous moment, or a clampdown effect of new building regulation. Sorry, workers, we moved here for the natural feel in the Brochure and your music from a block away ISN'T IT!

Friday, December 09, 2005


You know the part that says WHEN ONE LIGHT BURNS OUT THE OTHERS STAY LIT on Christmas Tree light strings? Must not have worked. Today at 2:15 we had about a half hour power failure.

I watched folks try to get into the Preserve through their electric gate. Nope. No can do.

I figured it was just Spanish Oaks or even just our street, where maybe the builders had cut service to hook up one of the new builds.

But Terri called and it was out at her work too. So was the flashing light on 71 and Spanish Oaks Club Boulevard and I don't even want to think about 71 at 2244.

It turns out the power failure was pretty widespread. They say a squirrel ascended into heaven.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


Even our driveway is coated. The dog slid across the slippery sheet of ice. Unless they sand and salt, you'd never make it down the hill, let alone onto 71. Cars were barely moving tonight. Tomorrow morning (Thursday) should also be very bad. Be careful! Stay home!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

BUILDER MEETING TODAY they get introduced to the new building specs. I understand I may be able to get a copy and if I can, will post what strikes me as interesting. You might get your own copy by calling or stopping by the office - I don't know for sure.

The yearly meeting will be in January and a newsletter will precede it I am told. So watch for that.

Also, I was told that the rear road is supposed to be gated closed on both sides, so, if you are tempted by an open gate to drive through, the automatic gate might trap you. Take food and water if you dare. And maybe that cell phone!

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Dirt has been leveled, brown SPECIAL dirt has been laid and dozed. Now irrigation is being put in on the top right-side portion of Spanish Oaks Club Boulevard.

Update: now it's been hydoseeded.

A personal aside: we have now gone through 4 landscapers for our property. We have been dissatisfied with every one of them!


Appears to be open at the top of Spanish Oaks Club Boulevard. Then you drive through the twisties and end up... at a closed gate.

Unless you want to commune with nature, it's a dead end.

At least that's how it was today (Sunday, December 4th.)

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Today PETSMART opens in the Galleria.

I love looking at all the dogs - with customers or for sale. I like the smells too -reminds me of being a small kid and visiting the local pet store (not a chain) where there was an enormous tank of goldfish in the window (A kid points: "I want THAT one!") and cedar chip smell everywhere.

Friday, December 02, 2005


If you remember the BAND TRAFFIC, hey, you're about 50.

No, TRAFFIC... cars... they are out there and projected to grow in numbers. Great article in The Lake Travis VIEW about Bee Cave traffic (front page, Dec 01 edition.)

TxDOT expects Bee Cave traffic to grow from 30,000 vehicles a day to 90,000 in less than five years.


The article outlines proposals and plans: 71, 620, 2244 and Hamilton Pool Road are all slated for improvement or proposed expansion in the next year.

Other news:
The Galleria will see a Barnes and Noble and 16-screen cinema. Petsmart opens Saturday.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

...just another day in Paradise!