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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Last Sunday in Houston!

Gunther von HagensBODY WORLDS 2 & The Brain – Our Three Pound Gem: The Original Exhibition of Real Human Bodies: It seemed as though two months in the States was going to be a long and satisfying visit but it has gone too fast. It has been satisfying. Marissa and I have spent a lot of long hours together. We cooked Thanksgiving dinner together, she made the pies and I, the bread and the turkey with stuffing. Okay to give credit were credit is due, Patty also helped by making the sweet potatoes and the green bean casserole. Luisa brought sweet corn 'something' and her son Brandt brought a pecan pie. WAS all delicious - congratulations all. The turkey was completely gone!
Today my last Sunday in Houston, I will take Marissa, Luisa and Camillo's grandsons Giorgio and Alex to the Museum of Science to see Body Worlds 2. I kept putting it off because this is a display of REAL bodies - granted they are preserved but still.... I have decided that the knowledge gained by seeing it is worth the slight discomfort I feel about the medium used. Luisa and the two boys are very excited - that also adds to my satisfaction - so will do this.
One thing that Houston has (although lacking the beautiful landscapes of Brazil) is fantastic museums. They are world class often showing the same special exhibits as the New York and Chicago museums. And I can read and understand all of the information given about the displays. I can talk to the guides, I can discuss with other museum goers. This option for my days is one of the greatest missed when in Brazil. I will try to leave a review of the show on the blog later in the week - just in case it comes to a museum near you.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Rose Garden

Yesterday was one of those beautiful days that no matter where we are, or where we live, we glory in it. The temperature in Houston was in the mid 60s, the sky a bright clear blue, the sun bright and warm on the skin.   In celebration I drove into the med center area to visit the Rose Garden. The Rose garden is part of the Museum of Natural Science complex. Most of the year it has a pleasant, peaceful air, yesterday it was especially beautiful. The roses were in full bloom and loving the cool weather. The rose beds were surrounded by beds of marigolds and ferns (I would call them Horsetail ferns but they probably have another name.) No matter - the marigolds were as pleasing in their simplicity as the roses were elegant - an excellent garden combination.  I have heard several times over the years that Houston is not a beautiful city. If compared to the green mountains and the blue ocean separated only by a long stretch of buff colored beaches in Rio, it is not the most visual city, DSC_0763but taken by itself, measured on its own merit, it has moments of real beauty. The neighborhoods, streets lined with old live oaks, their branches meeting in the middle, and in the spring the front yards overgrown with azaleas, street after street of neatly kept homes and boulevards with beds of seasonal flowers, and many small neighborhood parks complete with bronze and marble statues, all these scenes combine to make Houston a city of clean and comforting beauty.



Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Katy Prairie

To the west and the northwest of Houston is a far stretch of land (Texas sized)called the Katy Prairie. Miles and miles of flat, dry, mostly cultivated grasslands. Yesterday, Luisa and I left the city driving that direction in hopes of finding that the migrating ducks and geese had arrived in the area. Last week we had a 'cold snap' and to the north of Texas there was a full week of snow and freezing weather, this usually heralds in the duck season in south Texas. Flocks of ducks and geese stopping over to rest and feed in the area's many lakes, and natural whet lands of the greater Houston area. 
   They come through on their way even further south - sometimes making it all the way into South America.
Luisa and I went at least 20 miles west and another 20 miles north of the Houston city line and still found mostly new homes, paved streets and fast food joints - in other words more city. About 5 miles out of Katy, after a few missed turns and u-turns in farmhouse driveways and a sighting of two large birds hunting the fields from the telephone posts, we found a man-made lake with naturally growing high grass (an effort to create whet lands) and observation    blinds for bird watchers. We didn't find many ducks but we did hear some overhead and with some searching of the high skies were able to make out a flock flying quite high above us headed, YEP, south.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

back in Houston and Thanksgiving

It is apparent to all that follow NotAMissionary, that when I am in the States visiting family I don't write very often in the blog. I find that I don't take pictures the way I do when traveling in other countries either. Maybe it is that nothing is really new or a challenge when I am here. When I am in Brazil or traveling in other countries most of what I see is fresh, mysterious or in contrast to what I know so well. Also, when in the States the tempo of my day is much different. I leave my daughter's home at 7am - when in Brazil we are barely starting our day at 8am let alone up dressed and full of coffee at 7 - first thing I take Patty to work so that I can have her car for the day. Then I exercise, shop, visit, go to movies, out to lunch, vote, go to see doctors, order glasses, go out to lunch some more and shop some more. Until 4:30pm when I pick Pat back up at her office. Then there is cooking dinner, talking, and other activities like volleyball games that I have written about in prior blogs and the day ends at 9 pm here. In Rio at 9pm we would just be going out to dinner
And now we are planning our Thanksgiving dinner. This annual pilgrimage into American tradition is why I try to come back to the States at this time of year. This one day in America represents the best of who we are. Even if the story is told to tell only the good side of our participation in the first Thanksgiving feast, the tradition of a dinner where Friends and family gather to celebrate another year and to give thanks for all we have is a good part of America. This year will not be an exception - I will cook the traditional stuffed turkey with fix'ns. There will also be a ham for anyone who doesn't really care for turkey, whipped potatoes with gravy, squash, sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows
(I don't like sweet potatoes made this way, but is Patty's favorite so stays on the menu.) home made rolls and this year homemade cranberry sauce. And to top it all off pumpkin and pecan pies.
I know, I know this is gluttony, it is big in the greatest of American BIGS. But everything is so good.
This weekend we went shopping for the ham and turkey - can't wait until the last minute because you end up with something you don't want - so we went and fought the Sunday shoppers (the biggest grocery shopping day in the USA) You can't imagine the mess. It was reminiscent of shopping at Zona Zul in Ipanema. Narrow isles, big shopping carts, people blocking the isle while the deciding on one of too many options, and lines, lines, lines. But we completed our mission and are ready to start the feast.

? Can there be this many different cheeses?? How to decide?