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Written by Bernadette Noll   
Tuesday, 16 December 2008 19:50

noll-bernadetteIn Austin we are amazingly lucky to be surrounded by a huge variety of artistic talent. Painters, sewers, metalsmiths, crafters, sculptors and more, all making their stuff all year long. They need us—especially this time of year when $$$ is a bit tighter than usual. 

For the past couple of years there has been a pledge going around the internet about buying handmade. It's a great idea—buying directly from the artist or artisan—and this time of year I am always blown away by just how many amazing handmade options are out there. Of course there is the longstanding Armadillo Christmas Bazaar being held this year at the Convention Center through December 24. And though that may be the oldest, it is far from the only or the best—that's a matter of taste and style for sure. Blue Genie Art Bazaar is another ongoing sale that is quickly becoming as steeped in tradition and following as the Armadillo. That one goes until Christmas Eve also and has more than a hundred juried artists showing their wares. There are more out there, too, in churches, temples, neighborhoods in every part of Austin. 

We are lucky too to have stores like Parts and Labour and Moxie and the Compound that feature all locally made clothing, jewelry and gifts for every member of your clan. Find something near you and get out there and support your local artist of choice. And if you can't get out to an art sale, or find a piece you like for that special someone, you can always buy the latest book on the handmade revolution: Handmade Nation which features several amazing Austin Artists such as Jennifer Perkins and Kathie Sever. It will inspire anyone on your list to get creative.

www.bernadettenoll.blogspot.com

 
Barton Springs Mists Print E-mail
Written by Karen Kreps   
Tuesday, 18 November 2008 13:42

kreps-karenWhen the mists rise off the waters of Barton Springs Pool in the early morning after a chill Autumn night, I pad down the old cement steps toward the waters edge. It is auspicious to be here and see the chill water evaporate into the even colder air.

I am snug and warm in the many layers of clothing I wear over my swimsuit. The sun is just rising and glitters on the surface of the springs. I join the tens of thousands of souls who, throughout the eons, have risen with the dawn and been drawn to the shores to do morning ablutions and rituals.

My ritual involves doing Hatha Yoga and meditation under the graceful old pecan trees that grace the waters' edge, swimming, and bicycling home.  It's my laid-back triathalon.

Even in the middle of the day now, the summer crowds are gone from Barton Springs pool. A core group of regulars still come, building their reputations as "polar bears." They are my buddies. Most visitors are tourists who walk around but don't take the plunge.

"How do you it, every day, year round?" they ask me.

There are two tricks I use to get myself to swim in winter:

I wear warm clothes, wool in particular, before I go into the pool. As soon as I come out, I quickly dry off and don a warm cover-up. I use a wool poncho, which acts like a portable dressing room. It's important to be able to slip out of the wet swimwear fast and put on dry, loose-fitting garments. Warm moccasins, hats and gloves are valued fashion accessories in this season.

I don't think of it as "cold." Instead, I think of it as "interesting!" When I dive into the water, my skin tingles, my heart races and I live in the present moment. Aside from sexual orgasm, what else can bring such intense physical pleasure? By the time I've swam ten strokes, my body has adjusted and I'm distracted from the thoughts of temperature by the scenes of nature above and below the surface of the clear waters.

See you at the pool.

Karen Kreps is The Good Life "Intimacies" columnist and author of Intimacies: Secrets of Love, Sex & Romance.