Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Swimming at UT

After participating in several aquatic programs in India over the course of three years our kids have become pretty fast swimmers. They seemed to enjoy the programs, so before we left New Delhi, I got in touch with one of the swim-coaches at the University of Texas in Austin to see if they might be able to participate. UT runs a program for elementary aged-swimmers (recommended to us by so Austin friends). The Junior Longhorns coach was very kind. She responded to me right away, writing: "Bring 'em on in for a tryout when you get settled back in Austin."
The program has been a interesting experience. Audrey & Evan were able to try out in the giant Texas Swim Center located on UT's main campus. With wide-eyes, Evan pointed out Michael Phelps' name to me high up on the center's record board. Phelps still holds the Texas Swim Center's pool-record for the 200 Fly.
After demonstrating the four major strokes, the kids were accepted as official "Junior Longhorns."
The training is thorough. Audrey and Evan complete a dry-land workout for 30 minutes before each session and then train in the pool for 60 minutes three times a week.
 Pretty cool stuff for a ten and an eleven year old.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Home in Austin's Hyde Park

It's nice seeing my neighborhood with a fresh set of eyes. Being away for such a long time has a way of changing your view of the familiar. Lesa and I have been taking evening walks in Hyde Park... just like we've always done. It's been fun seeing what has changed and what still remains the same.. Our little neighborhood is hot in the summer (not unlike summer in New Delhi), but definitely a nice eclectic place to be.
Hyde Park is where people ride bicycles and motor scooters along side of Texas-sized SUVs.
And where folks have driven vehicles like Smart Cars and Hybrids as soon as they became available.
People paint the trim on their homes to match the blooms on the trees that grow in their yard.
Residents vote for liberal and progressive candidates more often than not. I'm glad it's a neighborhood where most folks tend to be mellow and open-minded, regardless of their political persuasion. 
Austin's Hyde Park is a place where you can still walk to the post office and where the volunteer firehouse is only a few blocks away.
Neighbors have hens in their yards and grow organic gardens now where lawns were once neatly mowed. 
The evening are full of the smells of Texas summer with the hint of barbecue and mesquite smoke in the air. On our evening walks the only sounds to be heard are the occasional dog barking and the soft droning of trucks in the distance as they travel south or north along Inter-state Highway 35.
I have to report it feels good to be back home.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tommy's 65th

Uncle Tommy turned sixty-five years old. Under normal circumstances this might be not much to comment about, but Tommy has Downs-Syndrome, so Sixty-five is a pretty amazing feat. Tombo works 5 days a week, walks in his neighborhood every day for exercise, and is cared for by a very supportive and loving family in a suburb of Buffalo, New York.
I've had the fortune of knowing Tommy for nearly twenty years (he's really my uncle - through marriage). His sense of humor is ever present (Even when I joke with him that he's older than dirt - Tom is ready with a quick come-back). My uncle will always greet you with a big bear-hug, a huge grin and a gentle pat on the cheek.
My son  loves sitting and watching "Professional" wrestling with him - Tommy will tell you who the winner will be before the end of each match. And my daughter share's Uncle Tommy's love of Elvis Presley.
Elvis, by far, is Tommy's passion. He knows all of the songs, and as a young man, got to see Elvis in concert on several occasions. He has a huge collection of memorabilia in his bed room. The room is basically a shrine to the King... which brings me back to Tommy's 65th Birthday bash yesterday... There was food, birthday cake, a huge pile of presents... and did I mention Elvis was in the house?
Well, Buffalo's "Patrick-Elvis" anyway...
My uncle was on cloud-nine. Tommy knew all of the lyrics, and grooved to all of the classic sounds. And when Elvis called him up to share the microphone, Uncle Tommy didn't miss a beat.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Searching for What?

I figured the first post on this new blog had better explain it's title... 

For me this is really just a transformation of the blog kept during our family's three and a half years living as residents in New Delhi, India: Swimming-In-India. That blog offered observations "from an American family living in India." I think that during our time in India we shared quite a unique set of experiences for readers. But life goes on, circumstances change, and here we are restarting our lives back in the United States.

It felt like it was time for me to create a new blog. Something that was relevant to a new set of experiences and the beginning to new chapter in our life as a family. 
I wanted the title of the new blog to have meaning and to have some loose connection to SayerRanch. This was the tongue-in-cheek name of our family home back in Austin, Texas. Oddly, while living in India, this term came to mean more to me. It refers to our family's place in the world... wherever that might be.  

Keeping all of these ideas in mind, I set the bar high. I wanted the new blog's title to have some relationship to the word ranch... specifically the SayerRanch. And since our permanent home has been in Austin, I felt the title needed to have some connection to the rich heritage of Texas. I also hoped to keep some allusion to India... a place that was hard for our family to finally leave. A place that has the ability to change one's perspective on the world forever.

So a did a little research, starting with the word ranch. This quickly lead me into terminology used on American cattle ranches. The search moved on to cowboys and the language they often use. These men are known for their wanderlust. They were folks (and still are) who never placed their roots very deep in one place. Cowboys were often described as "always going somewhere."
And that's when I stumbled across an odd cowboy phrase: "searching for the elephant."  The phrase describes the wanderlust of cowboys. Men who were "going over the next hill, always looking for something that was never there."  It summed up the philosophy of many cowboys who travelled from ranch to ranch looking for new horses to ride and new country to explore. 

Hopefully you can see the smile on my face.The words in this phrase seem to contain everything I want for my new title... connection to ranches and Texas, the idea of searching for something new - difficult to find. And the hardest bit of all -- a direct allusion to India. 

Welcome to Searching for the Elephant.