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Friday, December 20, 2013

Houston Parks continued, Cullinan Park in Sugarland

Over the past few years I have posted about several Houston parks that I walked while visiting Houston.  Houston has beautiful natural space and I love walking around them, meandering, taking photos.  Now, as a permanent resident, I have joined a couple walking / hiking groups locally, and after many delays, I’ve finally been able to join a couple of the long walks through our local parks.  I look forward to doing more of this walking – social – exercise and sharing them with you as the seasons in Houston change. 
DSCN2809The Houston metropolitan area is laced with waterways.  We are a drainage basin for two major rivers, Brazos River to the west of Houston (i.e. Brazos Bend State Park) and to the east the Trinity makes its ways down from the Texas / Oklahoma border.  These rivers are joined by many creeks, bayous, and smaller rivers as they make their way through the Houston area.  Because of them we have many State and Federal Parks, and nature / bird reserves and estuaries.  All of this lends itself well to nature trails and other hiking, biking, horseback riding, and fishing activities.  My activity of choice is hiking.  Hiking with the camera, of course. 
This time of year and on this particular day, it is rainy, brown and gray, and the sky washes out to a bright white.  I am sure there is a way to edit these white skies or filter them when taking the photo, but I don’t know how so you see what I saw on this day in mid December, close to the first day of winter.  The colors of a  pre-winter day; all fading out as winter gets here in earnest.  In an attempt to get the colors in the photos to be close to the colors I saw, I used an edit special effect of applying ‘oil painting’.  I was please with the results.
DSCN2828  DSCN2833

Friday, December 13, 2013

Light up the town….

DSC_0193Houston, like most towns in the USA are lit up at night year around.  This time of year, Christmas time, many homes and businesses add lights to brighten our nights even more.  I decided to not post Christmas lights for what lights up my town, but to show the atmosphere that is around us all of the time.  This particular place is a about 10 miles from home, (Patty’s house) and a great place to go at most times of the year for a hamburger and a beer.  The Fountains, on the Southwest Freeway at Kirkwood, has a string of restaurants along a man-made pond.  Lots of lights, outside seating, warm air, high humidity nearly all year round, blasting music muted by the water and humidity and more bright lights, being absorbed into the atmosphere, makes it just right for a stroll along the water’s edge.

DSC_0188     DSC_0190


Saturday, December 07, 2013

FSO – rush hour

This time of year it is all about rushing.  Rush to work, and home; company parties, shopping, children’s plays, recitals, shopping, dinner parties and more shopping. There should be no limit to the possible photo ops and I have found myself with ZERO photos on the camera.  I carried the camera with me all week.  Nothing.  Two days ago I began looking through the Houston archives.  Nothing. 

I suggested this topic.  Surely I had an idea for a photo to post.  Nothing comes to mind.  Last week Patty and I went shopping for Thanksgiving dinner supplies, the lines were miles long, everyone in a rush to get home.  Did I take an interesting photo – NO.  On Thursday night we went to Wal-Mart to see ‘black Friday’ activities.  It was a madhouse people acting like idiots, rushing about then standing in a line that wound around the store, probably  a quarter mile long.  No dollar saved was worth standing in that line.   Did I take photos – NO.  Are you getting the idea that this is a disclaimer?

Right at this moment in time I don’t work.  In fact, I avoid going out between 6 – 8 am and if I do go out, I try to be back at the house or hiding in a coffee shop between 4 and 6pm.  Houston is a ‘get there by car or don’t go at all’ town.  Missouri city does not have any mass transit options.  Avoiding rush hour out this direction is a matter of survival.   Today I took two photo – snap shots really – that can give you an idea of what a society driven by cars means on a daily basis.



looking south


looking north on a Saturday afternoon.

and inside a store… we were 10th in line


Saturday, November 30, 2013

So I have been lazy -

This week’s Friday Shoot Out is, “9 to 5, people at work in your town”,  In Brasil I had a huge, still do in fact, archive of photos that I could dig into if the week didn’t let me out to shoot new photos.  For Houston’s photos, I need to get out there and shoot for our weekly topics and that seems to just not happen.  Two weeks ago I spent 4 days in a courtroom listening to boring testimony as the attorneys worked hard for their money, course I would have looked silly snapping photos while they worked.
Last week it rained all week and I don’t mean little sprinkles but hard gushing blowing cold rain.  There is no taking the camera out on days like that….. oh, I guess I could have gone to the mall and snapped sales clerks hard at work – but I didn’t.  I worked hard in a warm house baking for the Thanksgiving meal on Thursday.
Houston is an Oil services, shipping, banking, and medical center town.  Most of that is tied directly to like businesses in South America.  I think I have touched on most of this in other FSO weeks, maybe not focused on the worker.  I would love to go on a rig and take photos but don’t get excited it is not likely to happen anytime soon.  oh if only I were still in Brasil…..
What does that leave me…. gardeners and lawn men; mowing, cutting and digging, and, this week, hanging Christmas decorations.  And yesterday a high school play-off game; the team, coaches and refs working hard on the day after Thanksgiving – so enjoy just a couple of Houston My Town photos just to show I am not just being lazy ….. 
DSC_0767A couple years ago - but on November 20 – new trees are planted in the Rose Garden.
This year, rain and cold would have kept the city garden crew at home.

Saturday Play-off game between Elkins high of Missouri City – GO KNIGHTS - and the Katy Tigers
DSCN2797  DSCN2756 
The guys that work hard to make the game play stay inside the rules.
Yes,  I had some envy issues seeing that lens.  Yes, I realize that if I bought something like that I would have to take photography seriously …..  there were 4 official photographers on our side of the field using super cameras – I wonder what they would think of my quick snaps.


and the cheerleaders,  who are working Hard keep us enthusiastic even when the score went to
56 Katy TIGERs to 26 Elkin’s Knights.  Ouch!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

My car just seems to go there….

Over and over, as my posts from the past when I was visiting Houston show, my car loves to go out into the country. And if time allows I end up, over and over, at the same places.  (Drat - it is thundering, and lightening I may have to shut down AGAIN)DSC_6448

DSC_6452(next Day! no more thunder but is COLD)  Often my car drive to the Brazos Bend State Park, Oyster Creek Park, Kitty Hollow Park, the bird preserve out by Katy or just for fun takes a country road to nowhere. 

For a different type of day I can drive West on HWY 90 for about 25 minutes and there is what used to be the small town of Richmond.  Now we say Richmond – Rosenberg because these two small towns have grown so they meet making one big, no personality city.   But there is a small area of ‘old town Richmond’ right off 90 that the locals have tried to preserve and make into a small but pleasant place to walk, shop for antiques and local crafts, and have a good old fashioned drugstore hamburger for lunch. 

The hamburger is okay but the shops are a lot of fun, a stroll down memory lane for me.  Old glass and other collectables line the walls and windows.

DSC_6481  DSC_6501oil

DSC_6494oil   DSC_6495

DSC_6457    DSC_6489

Just one way that my car, camera and I spend a pleasant Sunday afternoon.




Friday, November 08, 2013

playing with digital

For FSO I have done Black & White three times, this is the 4th time.  This is the second Houston as my hometown.  How I wished I could have used the mountains of Nova Friburgo for my experiment, just so I could have the depth of our view to play with after reading Mersad’s tutorial.  I guess I played around for a couple of hours, coming to the conclusion that my editor ADCSee 14 and ADCsee Pro 5 are not very good / I am not very good / I choose the wrong photos to play with.  But I did learn that there is more to do than just ask the program to convert to B&W.
I  used this format in one of my other posts on black and white and liked very much seeing the comparisons and reading everyone’s comments – so my FSO experiments in black and white editing.
DSC_0774 DSC_0774B&W
DSC01080 DSC01080i
DSC06228 DSC06228b&w
DSC_0165 DSC_0165b&w
DSC06247 DSC06247b&w

Friday, November 01, 2013

Critters in my own back yard.

Just when you think there is no life in your own back yard,
you find proof of a world not seen.
This is a grassland restoration area just on the edge of Missouri City, Texas.  Normally it looks like, well like grassland.
But on this particular morning’s walk, coming around a bend, the trail took me directly into bright sun shinning through fog; 
a secret world not normally seen.
Proof of life visible for as far as the eye could see.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Don’t forget to look up,

While walking through the historic center of Rome it is easy to get distracted by all the things to see:  people, gelato signs, police cars weaving through the tourist with their light flashing, grand doors and door knobs, graffiti, just so much to see.  But I will recommend that from time to time you just stand still and look up. 

DSCN1924  DSCN1943

DSCN2135  DSCN2140


be sure to plant your feet to avoid a bit of vertigo, what you see soaring above your head will astound you.

Friday, October 25, 2013

the mysteries of Rome….

This will be my final FSO post from Rome.  I return to Houston next Wednesday morning.  Like one of my blogger friends DSCN4056pointed out this stay in Rome has been bittersweet.  Memories of visits here with Camillo from the past 20 years; knowing that he would love the things I’ve done that are different than we had done together; renting the apartment would be one of those.  He always wanted to go, see something new or to show me something wonderful that he remembered from his past lives.  Staying in Rome for a month is something he never wanted to do, but I did.  We didn’t argue about it, there is too much to see to stay in one place, that is a given, but I know he would have loved my little apartment in the middle of a Roman neighborhood with its small supermarket and butcher shops.  He would love the daily walks, the few meals with his sister and he would love hearing my enthusiasm for what I have done.  And the bittersweet; missing that he is not here to learn I was right, a stay in one place can be wonderful. 

DSCN2574Sorry sidetracked.  This week’s FSO topic is Mysteries in Your Town, and Rome once again being My Town for the Week has caused me to be on the look out for a mystery, A Mystery Look around town, can you find something that makes you feel bewildered? Or leaves you wondering what's up with that?”  as I have walked and walked about Rome.  I have big questions like, ‘how has a city survived since 700 years before Christ’; surviving wars, pestilence and governments, and changes in religious fervor.  (governments and pestilence being basically the same thing)  There have been a few things that astounds me though, however does that man sit on a pole held in one hand of another man, for hours and hours.  Doesn’t that pole hurt after a while, doesn’t that man’s arm get tired.  I saw six of these …..  course they were all dressed alike, did not have the usual cup to donate to their pain, so it could have been the same men just moving from square to square.    I don’t see a trick, they are in a different state of consciousness?


We have all read of the economic climate in Europe and in Africa, and the boat people swamping Italy, often dying in the attempt, and if arriving safely moving northward in an attempt to find a better life for their families.  It is a tide, a tsunami, and on a humanitarian level I understand the governments allowing this to continue, though I fear there is no humanitarian motive DSCN2572just inaction.  But if humanitarian motives prevailed, how do you not let them come where there is food, and lodging - except there isn’t.  There are no jobs in which they qualify, and old buildings are being invaded  for housing with no proper plumbing, running water or heat but are still perceived as better from where they come, a safe roof over their heads.  So they squat where they can; they sell things – trinkets, and junk made in china, purses with designer names but made of plastic, and they clog the streets; stepping into your path to try to sell a ‘silk’ scarf or a plastic toy.  Desperation in their movements. 

To me Rome is a museum of world history, beautiful and full of grace; housed in Rome but belonging to the world.  And now it is being invaded by a new foe, and invading army of poor and displaced.  The masses blocking the streets, letting only a little path through.  I wish I had my 35mm photos so you could see this bridge from 20 years ago, one of the most beautiful sights you might ever see, and now junk. 

The mystery:  can the governments not stop this tide?  Can action be taken that allows these travelers to stay at home and survive. This is such a similar story as the illegal immigrants that find their way into the USA.  Why can’t these problems be solved.  We have put men on the moon, taken photos of the rings of Jupiter, found new galaxies, waged wars with multimillion dollar weapons; why can’t we feed the hungry in their own home towns?  This is my mystery.