After a Fashion

Your Style Avatar's editor wonders if the fighting geckos ever try to sell auto insurance

Back from Russia and the UK, Austin-based dance band Tritonal, Chad Cisneros (l) and Dave Reed, 
is making headway in the international trance scene.
Back from Russia and the UK, Austin-based dance band Tritonal, Chad Cisneros (l) and Dave Reed, is making headway in the international trance scene. (Photo by Seabrook Jones/

AMERICAN KABUKI I worked hard to make a former mud slick into a refreshing and attractive oasis simply by using things we already had, like a bunch of bricks and tile. And it's paid off for me, especially, though our entire family and guests enjoy it as well. I sit out there each day and evening. I've changed the floodlights in the yard to purple, blue, pink, green, and amber bulbs and highlighted some of the dozens of live oak trees back there next to my mother's art studio. Up by the house, next to the covered patio, I built a stone plaza encircling a raised bed for plants – again a former mud slick. Mainly it's to help my mom, who loves gardening but has a harder time of it at 81. Though she can still mow a mean lawn, she takes more breaks as time goes on. She's been so incredibly generous to me all my life and continues to be, so I work alongside her and sometimes take over the heavier work. It's the very least I can do. And then there are my own projects. It's all been done in fits and starts, to be sure – sometimes I can do that, and sometimes I can't. But that length of time, however long it lasts, is followed by an inevitable crash when I'm a hopeless zombie for several days. But over the last year I feel like I've accomplished miracles – at home and in my head. There's nothing like being on your knees in the dirt to really make you think about what you've done. And I'm a harsh critic of myself. So I guess that's why I wanted to build something beautiful where I could sit by myself and look at the good things I've done. Like the yard. At night. Sitting on the brick plaza watching lightning bugs glitter in the dark, listening to the sounds of the cicadas undulate across a canopy of trees. The real show is what I like to think of as Kabuki alfresco, starring the fighting geckos and their hapless prey. The best place to view this performance is sitting in the upholstered chair on the patio and watching the windows of the house illuminated from within. You can make out slight movement before a gecko emerges onto the window screen. He lies in wait for the silly fluttery moths and other flying things that seem to be delirious as they careen toward the light, and thus, their final end. I recalled a story from a few years ago, when I was living on Lady Bird Lake: One day a proud mama mallard came floating by with her tiny ducklings. As they crossed the place where Bouldin Creek dumps into the lake, an enormous turtle – a foot and a half across – flew out of the water and snapped a baby's neck with its primitive and deadly mouth and took the duckling down with him. A rather hysterical neighbor was screaming for someone to get a gun and shoot that turtle. But then again, isn't that how turtles in the wild feed themselves? It was unpleasant to watch, and I totally understood wanting to save the itty bitty duckling, but nature overruled. Again. But that's exactly why I like to have my own private place to view the world – and maybe that's why I wear sunglasses all the time.

GO AHEAD. BE A STAR. Apparently quite a few of you followed up on the casting notice I ran two weeks ago for HGTV's My First Place. But we did not have complete info at the time, so now, if you are a couple, family, or single person in the Austin area looking to buy your first home and don't mind if the world gets to watch you make your decision, then log on to to view full details. I mean, really – these days you're not anyone until you've been on a reality TV show. Fortunately, HGTV's reality shows are of the entertaining variety rather than the humiliating variety.

THAT SAVAGE THIRST Last week we gave a little shout-out to the newest beverage on the block, Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka (, the brainchild of Chad Auler of Savvy Vodka and Clayton Christopher of Sweet Leaf Tea fame. It's a natural combination for the parched Texas summers. It's been in limited supply since South by Southwest but has now launched for real. June is National Iced Tea Month and 2010 is the 75th year of the famous Deep Eddy pool, so the time is right. It is 100% Texan. As described on the website, "Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka is made from vodka that has been distilled 10 times through a column still, which produces a much smoother spirit than using a traditional pot still; tea leaves that have been hand-selected and blended for taste, color and clarity; mineral-rich Texas spring water; 100% pure cane sugar from Sugarland; and clover honey from Austin's Good Flow Honey Co., a family-owned and operated beekeeping business." Pretty damn Texan, I'd say – and liable to knock the margarita off the top shelf and become the state drink that is really all ours.

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Austin Style, mud slick, oasis, floodlights, live oak trees, zombie, cicadas, Kabuki al fresco, geckos, HGTV, Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka

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