On Turning 60

Bring it on. That’s my new mantra. A new chapter’s here. My Chapter Six on this strange, challenging, wonderful trip. Ronnie Lane called it “a short movie.” It is short but I think it’s equally long. My chapters were ... Growing up, Hitting the Road (more growing up), Moving About the Globe (more growing), Finding Austin (still growing), Marrying Kate (yes!) and Raising Our Boys (whoa!). Adam’s in the Navy, Ian’s in College, our nest is empty and our hearts are full. I’m one lucky mo-fo. I landed two great gigs, each a privilege; connecting people to their homes and laying down a groove they can dance to. To quote Steve Martin from ‘The Jerk,’ I’ve found my special purpose(s)!

Drumming’s something I’ve done pretty much as long as I can remember, so 13 years back while cranking up the real estate biz, I had a hard time shaking the feeing I’d strayed from the path. I’ve learned better (still growing). Negotiating contracts, watching out for client’s interests, advising and analyzing are integral parts of my job as an agent, but my central role comes down to helping people navigate some of life’s big transitions, which, it appears, is what I’m in the midst of myself.

A TIMELESS ZONE

I fell in love with Austin, Texas Back in 1986, and Barton Springs sealed the deal.  I was on Charlie Sexton’s “Pictures for Pleasure” tour, here for a show at The Austin Opera House, a hometown gig for Charlie & tour manager Wayne Nagel. We had a few days off and Wayne was kind enough to show me around. One of the places we visited was Barton Springs. It struck me as a magical place and along with friendly people, a cool music scene & exceptionally beautiful women I was smitten. A move here was definitely in the cards.

Three years later in ‘89 I was here for good. Wayne & I were working on opening ‘the ARC,’ the Austin Rehearsal Complex, a 10 studio 22 storage locker pre-production facility that became a club house for Austin musicians. Anyway, our goal was to get The ARC open in time for SXSW 1990. It was an exciting, hard driving period and I took time off daily to cool down at the Springs. The heat was intense and the cold emerald spring water woke me up in more ways than one.

I don’t want to get overly melodramatic, but here I go; the place touched my soul. I’d found my home. Other than the terrific basket system they used to have for clothes & valuables, it’s just the same now. A timeless zone. Nothing’s perfect. There are long lines, it’s tough to park and you gotta fight traffic. The first few minutes in the water are a shock no matter how many times you get in. But on the 100° days, like just about every day this time of year, there’s nothing like diving into 68° emerald spring water. I’m thankful to be alive and at home in Austin, Texas.

Home is Where the Critters Are

In my house, we joke that my husband Mark is an “animal liker” and I am an “animal lover”.  He actually does love animals, but I guess the way I look at non-human creatures goes a just a little beyond.  In my mind, my furry friends are just that – friends. This can be a little disconcerting to a spouse who comes home unexpectedly in the middle of the workday to find 4 miniature horses playing in our backyard with our dog – true story.  Or a neighborhood cat or three having a snack on our back fence.  Or any number of friends’ dogs over for a quick playdate with our dog.  Or even a mini-pig come to visit.

If we had more space, I’d have quite the menagerie, but a small Tarrytown house & lot is somewhat limiting, so we only have one Cardigan Welsh Corgi; the World’s Best Cat; and Vader, the Curious Corn Snake. Not technically a pet, but a critter we have grown fond of, is Armey the Armadillo, who lives in a little hole under the west side of our house.

Why do so many of us choose to share our homes with other species?  For me, I think it’s a combination of a need to nurture and a curiosity into their quiet minds.

Study after study has shown that pets are actually good for our health.  They help lower our blood pressure and reduce stress. All those “therapy” dogs we see nowadays in airports? I have some good friends who swear that having their dog on the plane with them greatly reduces their anxiety.  Children who are exposed early to animals tend to have fewer allergies. I have a photo of my 2-week old son meeting a donkey nose-to-nose – no allergies!  As for your social life, if you have a dog, I guarantee you’ll make more friends.

Of course, not everyone should be a pet owner. If having a pet is for you, it is important to know the responsibilities involved.  I call it a 15-year commitment. You have to feed, bathe, walk, play with, provide veterinary care, etc.  It can get expensive, but in the long run, having a loving dog or cat or bird or any of a number of other critters in your home can be one of the most rewarding relationships of your life.

Forever Young

I didn’t think I could sit down & write about mom. I mean she’s my mom after-all so it’s kinda personal. What the hell. I have to share it. She’s going on 92. Born in New York City in 1924, she went to art school & lived with her parents ‘til she married my dad in 1948. Fast forward a lifetime to 2016. It’s hard to keep up with her. She’s either swimming, doing yoga, painting, headed to a show or she’s just seen the latest movie, the one I’ve wanted to see but haven’t had the time to. My friends meet her and then they become friends. She invites them to dinner, they hang out and later on I hear about what a great time they all had. Not to worry, sometimes she invites us (Kate & me) too.

So what is it that keeps her youthful? She’s got plenty of aches & pains that go with the territory, but there’s an uncanny ingredient here and I think I know what it is. She’s still a kid, a kid that simply refuses to grow up. Yeah, she grew up, but that rebellious kid is still there. She’s losing plenty of friends now. Her best friend from the Arts Student’s League of New York just passed. Her sister just passed, dear friends are well, dropping like flies. She says she sees it for what it is, the natural cycle of life. I wasn’t sure how she’d fare back in 2006 when dad died. They were inseparable for 58 years. After a time, she came into her own--started a portrait business, got a dog, made new friends and exhibited her artwork. I gotta say it. My mom, Ethel Harvey, is an inspiration to us all, to keep that inner child, stay a little rebellious and carry on.

There. I’ve said it.

Four Days Off

It is a really good thing to take a few days off from everything. From work stress, even playing music. A little time off can go a long way. Quiet is good. Clear air too. And big sky vistas. A few months ago my cousin & life-long buddy Adam Hart called me from New York to see if I might want to go on a hiking trip.  “Yeah, that sounds great, where do you want to go?" Took a while but we landed on Taos New Mexico. At first we discussed backpacking & camping. Well, hmmm, a shower & a bed sure would be nice. So where do we end up? Ojo Caliente, a beautiful mineral spring in the high desert of northern New Mexico that first opened in 1868. We hiked all day, soaked our bones at night, bull-shitted, reminisced, laughed & laughed some more. We hiked from around 7000 up to 8300 feet on La Vista Verde Trail. Climbing Mt Everest it wasn’t, but it was exhilarating. Another memorable hike was at Ghost Ranch where Georgia O’Keefe lived and painted. The Chimney Rock trail turned out to be a meditation of sorts. We traversed deep multicolored canyons with distant views of plains & grassland streams. The light reflected off rocks containing 130 million years of geological history. What intrigued me most was what I saw in the shapes, colors & shadows falling on the cliffs. The way we see constellations in the night sky, I saw eagles, faces and guardians in the rocks. I felt energy that may have inspired Native Americans to dance and Georgia O’Keefe to paint. That was a damn good four days off.