Friday, November 30, 2007

Lazy Friday

I took today off--my in-laws are in town and we'll see them for dinner tonight--thinking I would do some last-minute tidying and maybe start a new painting or pull a few weeds, too. At least I walked the bored husky-dog.

Then I met husband-Kurt for a sushi and sake lunch. It was delicious but afterwards I was definitely not motivated to do much of anything "constructive." Unless snipping the blooms off the basil plant is considered constructive. But sometimes taking the day off means just that, right?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Letter from Sharon Cave re Laura Hall Parole Review

A frequent reader and commenter requested I re-post Sharon Cave's letter, which was first posted as a comment on Monday afternoon. Read it here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

KVUE Reports on Laura Hall Parole

Local ABC affiliate television station KVUE broadcasts its story on Laura Hall's potential upcoming parole review. Their web version is here. I presume various other news outlets will have their own reports soon, possibly including comments from Laura Hall's family as well.

Parole Hearing: Another Laura Hall Postscript

Although the Travis County website currently shows that Laura Hall is still in County jail, it seems she may have her first parole review next month.
Sharon Cave and her family are, understandably, quite upset and she is urging people to write to the parole board: her letter is here.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Problem with Big Trees

I really love our big, wise, old trees and so do the squirrels. But at least five times a year those trees and squirrels cause the electricity transformer to blow and we lose all power. The City of Austin/Austin Energy usually has it restored in under 3 hours, a response I really appreciate.

Thanksgiving morning we awoke to a warm refrigerator, which Kurt diagnosed and figured out a temporary fix until the new part--thermostat?--arrives. We had to throw away a bunch of spoiled food and ate chips, salsa, and beans for lunch.

So this morning when I heard the unmistakable pop of a transformer blowing and the power went out, I was especially annoyed, hoping we wouldn't end up with yet another round of spoiled food. The power was restored in less than 2 hours--yippee!

Back to loving that old Sycamore.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tiny First Homegrown Salad Harvested and It Tastes Good!

Granted, these lettuce plants' leaves were already about 2-3 in. long when we planted them last Sunday, but look! Not only did the leaves grow to around 6 in. long; a bunch of new, shorter leaves grew in, too. I snipped them all off to leave about 2 in. (even though the rule of thumb seems to be to leave 1 in.--I was paranoid). Supposedly, all those leaves will just keeping growing back--endless salad--for a couple of months.

I just ate some leaves plain and they have a slightly spicy taste to them. I'm still going to add a little olive oil and vinegar to tonight's first homegrown lettuce salad--whoo-hoo!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

After: Voila! First Vegetable Garden in Place

It's done! There's just enough room to walk around inside the little husky-proof (we hope) fence. Husband Kurt fashioned a cool hinged fence door, too. Now we wait and watch. And water and weed.

Before: Urban Organic Vegetable Gardening--Making Our First Raised Bed

I'm waiting for husband Kurt to return from the hardware store with the stakes and rat wire we need put up around the raised bed we made yesterday; then we can plant the six broccoli, two cauliflower, and three lettuce plants we got yesterday. It doesn't look that impressive in the pics now--it's only about 4 ft by 8 ft and 2 ft deep--but we worked hard yesterday moving our brush piles, compost, and soil to clear a good spot with good soil. Moving that whole pile of branches was very Cool Hand Luke.

We mixed our own backyard dirt with some of our own leafy compost and "dairy compost" from The Natural Gardener.
Kurt originally made that wood sled thing to haul mulch around the front yard, but yesterday we mixed soil and compost on it: I think it was about 60 percent dirt and 40 percent compost. We're really kind of winging it, but that's part of the fun.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

FAR Beyond Remuddling Versus Remodeling

I was curious a month or so ago when I noticed a neighborhood house, built in 1932, had suddenly disappeared. The lot was now just that: an empty flat, dirt lot. Silly me, I hoped another older house would be moved onto the lot, but the photo directly above shows what's going up on that long, narrow lot (lot extends all the way to the adjacent parallel street) now.

The very first photo is the view of the back of it from the other street (also flanked by pre-'50s houses.) The middle two photos show the 1937- and 1940-built houses--granted, neither of which is the most outstanding examples of WWII-era residential architecture--flanking the front of this unfinished monster duplex: these two neighboring houses average around 1,200 square feet, and the duplex will be 3,727 square feet, according to its current tax appraisal.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Good Reader's Comment re Today's Springsteen and Scott Hearing:

"Springsteen's and Scott's Joint Pretrial Hearing Today: Part 2"

2 Comments - Show Original Post

Neleh said...

Hey Iris,
At one point Judge Lynch said the defense's request was "one of the most expansive definitions of exculpatory I've ever seen". As I see it, our tax dollars pay for all that copying. Imagine if all the stuff in those boxes is in date order instead of grouped by a category?

I think they all agreed that most everything they wanted was in discovery already (not the database of course). I think the state agreed to copy anything that the defense "flagged" - it just puts the burden on the defense to mark those items they are looking for. The judge also told the state that if they come across an item that they know the defense has been looking for, the state has to give it to the defense right away (and not just stick it in the discovery box without telling them).

I believe that if the defense comes back at the next hearing and says they are not getting any help from the state that the judge will move things along. Hope that makes sense.

-- Neleh

November 14, 2007 10:41 PM

Iris said...


THANK YOU! You're absolutely right, and I'm now remembering thinking that the "flagging" arrangement sounded reasonable and fair. I appreciate your pointing this out!

Although I try to be balanced, occasionally I get sidetracked on a certain train of thought and forget the forest for the trees.

November 14, 2007 10:53 PM


Springsteen's and Scott's Joint Pretrial Hearing Today: Part 2

My Humble Opinion Plus More Observations
One of the most interesting things to come out at today's hearing were some of Judge Lynch's comments, which sometimes seemed contradictory. For example, Judge Lynch occasionally seemed slightly annoyed at or exasperated by all the continuing defense discovery requests and often encouraged both the defense and the prosecution to work out these discovery issues and keep things moving toward trials.

And yet Judge Lynch did not rule on any of the twelve discovery requests listed in the defenses' main motion today--the prosecutors only recently received the motion--because the prosecution needed time to review the requests and give their responses.

Judge Lynch also said he didn't want a bunch of these joint pretrial hearings in which "everybody stands up and says their piece..." He expects one last joint pretrial hearing to discuss his final rulings on discovery matters, etc. The next one is now set for January 9, 2008.

Prosecutors told Judge Lynch that they would be prepared for Michael Scott's trial by April 2008 at the latest and could even move it up to January or February. Scott's lead attorney, Carlos Garcia, told the judge his team couldn't be ready until June 1, 2008.

Prosecutors objected and so did Judge Lynch, saying that wouldn't work and was too late because he wants both retrials done in 2008. Garcia implied that he would not be able to be ready any earlier.

Then Judge Lynch told Garcia that if they (Garcia's team) could convince him they really couldn't be ready before June 1st, he might reconsider ordering the prosecutors to provide the copies the defense has requested so they (defense) could review them at home, on weekends, etc., implying that they (defense) would therefore be able to be prepared for trial before June 1st, which is the timetable Judge Lynch and the prosecutors want.

Uhm--if the judge is so concerned with expediting these trials, why doesn't he just go ahead now and order the prosecutors to give the defenses the copies of the discovery materials they've requested? Based on his own comment about wanting to get both cases tried in 2008, it seems he has the authority to order the discovery copy requests!

I don't understand how he can be impatient about the defenses' progress while at the same time make remarks that he can do what they've (defense) requested to speed it all up! What am I missing?

Judge Lynch said that, depending on the prosecutors' responses, he'd be highly likely to grant the defenses' requests for their own copies of certain discovery items, specifically the following:

#1 - Transcripts of all written statements, and audio/video recordings of other past suspects, particularly Forrest Wellborn's and Maurice Pierce's. Prosecutors countered that Wellborn never implicated either Springsteen or Scott and that Pierce never implicated himself.

#4 - Austin Police Department's (APD) Charles Meyer's notes.

#6 - Statements of Dearl Croft, a patron of the yogurt shop the night of the murders. The defenses are concerned that Croft may have given his statement(s) while under hypnosis, a technique they say APD frequently used at that time.

#7 - Very specific parts of APD detective John Jones' offense report, notes, etc., although the defenses want the entire data base (approximately 7,000 pages) Jones compiled, which includes alternative suspect information. Prosecutors argued that it's work product and that the defense teams are not entitled to their own copy of it.

#8 - All APD's sketches.

#10 - All Austin Fire Department's (AFD) original offense and witness reports.

#11 - Results of any lie detector results.

Judge Lynch did not comment on his inclinations towards granting the following specific defense discovery requests, implying he was disinclined to grant these:

#2 - Findings and reports of a Mr. Keppel, which defense attorney Alexandra Gauthier said she had never seen and was not able to locate in the prosecution's large file of discovery materials. After the hearing, I asked defense attorney Carlos Garcia who this Keppel guy was, and he told me that Keppel was a profiler whose opinions were allegedly relied upon by APD during their investigations, although I'm not sure if it was during APD's initial investigations or the later cold-case unit investigations. I should have asked.

#3 - All APD emails, memos, etc from January 1999 to present.

#5 - All AFD statements, memos, etc. Prosecutors said those are available to view in the discovery file.

#9 - All APD's photos of all lineups and possible alternative suspects

Springsteen's and Scott's Joint Pretrial Hearing Today: Part 1

The Tedious World of Discovery Issues
was the focus of today's joint pretrial hearing. Both defenses filed--
as recently as this morning--more motions requesting that Judge Mike Lynch order the State to provide them their own copies of specific pieces of evidence they believe are exculpatory. If they can't get their own copies, the defenses feel they are entitled to at least see ALL the State's evidence qualifying as discovery. I'll go through the details of the defenses' request list in the next post.

Although Judge Lynch told the defenses that 90 percent of what they're asking for "won't see the light of day at trial" (because of relevance issues) and implied that there are no real surprises left at this point, Joe James Sawyer told reporters that he, as the defense lawyer, needs to and deserves to go through 100 percent of the evidence because what is or is not relevant discovery material can be a matter of opinion.

The courtroom had been rearranged since the last hearing to accommodate both defendants and their attorneys so they didn't
all have to crowd around one defense table. Michael Scott gave his wife Jeannine a quick smile before sitting down with his lead attorney, Carlos Garcia and co-counsel, Dexter Gilford. Robert Springsteen sat at another table with attorneys Joe James Sawyer and Alexandra Gauthier. Gauthier did almost all the talking today, occasionally conferring with Sawyer, as well as Garcia (because many issues are the same for both Springsteen and Scott.)

Prosecutors Gail Van Winkle and Efrain De La Fuente had their own table set up in front of the jury box, while their clerks and other staff sat in the jury box itself.

I got another courthouse-area parking meter ticket today for only 15 minutes short. Aargh!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another Pretrial Hearing Tomorrow for Robert Springsteen and Michael Scott

I plan to attend. I'm fairly certain it will be a joint hearing like last time, with Springsteen and Scott and their respective attorneys all crowded around the defense table. I have no clue what issues will be raised, but I'll post my observations.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Confused Iris

Typically a Spring-bloomer, one of my Bi-color Iris plants has a bloom today! I doubt it's typical for the little pink and purple skullcaps behind it to still be blooming in November, either. Strange warm Fall.

Postscript: Laura Hall

A Court TV message board person just asked me if I knew whether Laura Hall had been transferred to prison yet. I checked the Travis County website, which indicates that Hall is still in county jail and also shows that Hall's 1-year sentence for hindering apprehension (running concurrently with the 5-year sentence for tampering with evidence) will have been served out tomorrow.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Some Sundays are Just Meant for Football and Pizza, Not Gardening

Yesterday was one of those Sundays. Instead of hauling dirt and compost around the backyard to create a raised bed, driving way out to The Natural Gardener to buy vegetables then planting them, we stayed in and enjoyed the extra hour of sleep. And we drank mimosas and watched lots of good football.

I sliced garlic and shallots to top Kurt's homemade spelt sourdough pizza crusts and Kurt patched a little hole in the ceiling sheetrock, but mostly we were lazy. It was a good laziness.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Pics from Today's Preparation for a Spring Vegetable Garden Bed

Today Kurt reminded me that we shouldn't use the way-back corner for gardening because it's in the easement, so we moved our main proposed vegetable garden area over more towards the middle of the backyard and shall figure out later how to keep the dog out of it.

My friend who works at the organic farm stand convinced me that we should go ahead and try growing some Fall plantings now because it's stayed so warm so late in the season. She suggested beets, carrots, and broccoli as good choices for beginners. So, tomorrow we'll attempt to create a small raised bed (from our composted materials) in which to plant some of those vegetables. Yippee--a trip to The Natural Gardener to buy some seedlings or small plants!

But today we did the scalp/soak/newspaper/weed-fabric routine to prepare a bed--what will become a bed--for Spring vegetable gardening! (I ran a little short on newspaper and couldn't cover the whole scalped-soaked area, but it'll do for now.)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Minor Grammar/Usage Rant Number 2

I know, I know: language is fluid and I shouldn't be such a stickler; however, I just don't understand why some television commentators, for example, continue to use the word "concerning" as an adjective instead of choosing a correct adjective, such as "worrisome", "troublesome", "disturbing", "upsetting", or "disconcerting".

Gardeners: Check Out These Pruners

Sounds nerdy, but I never knew how much of a difference a good set of pruners can make! The Felco #2 is the "classic" original version, which my husband uses, and the #6 is the smaller version of the #2, which I use. (I think I might have gotten a little clipper-happy last Sunday--hope I didn't torture any plants too much.) I bought them here: Felco , and they're a little pricey (around $40?), but I think they'll last forever and the blades can be sharpened or replaced.