Spring Flowers

Spring Flowers
For Sale

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Museums not far from Home,

I have decided that I will make it my mission to see as many of the small, local museums as I can find. I have collected a massive pile of brochures and will start – now – checking them out.  Houston has a very large area, just west of downtown called the museum district.  We have a world class collection of large, well managed and well funded museums.  The Contemporary Arts, Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of Health and Science and, my favorite, the Museum of Natural Science are all within a mile radius.  But I have found that there are many, that is MANY, small privately owned museums scattered throughout the Houston Metropolitan area – these are the ones I will hunt down and visit.DSCN3540
This week I went by the 1940 Air Terminal Museum, a small, privately owned museum, consisting of the original Hobby Airport art deco styled terminal, (the only one in the USA left standing) and a couple hangers not yet open to the public.  When I read about this museum, I wondered how Camillo and I had missed it.  He was an avid lover of all things aeronautic. Knowledge of a hanger full of vintage plane, pulled out the 3rd Saturday of every month would have gotten him out of the house for sure.  This building and its show of small planes only opened in mid 2003 – shortly after our move to Brasil, and frankly it never occurred to us to visit Houston as tourists like we did all other cities – visiting churches and museums with real enthusiasm. 
DSCN3545The museum is still under restoration.  Left empty and deserted when the new section of Hobby was constructed; filled with debris, rodents, and the homeless, the The Houston Aeronautical Heritage Society is now hunting for the $3 million estimated to plaster the interior walls.  Right now the interior walls are in red block, the same materials used in the original construction.  The plaster was a mixture of gypsum and asbestos.  The main entrance level is complete and when they can, they will complete the walls in the wings in a gypsum/fiberglass mix to mimic the high gloss finish  of the original.  
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For now, even with its incomplete restoration, a walk through the memorabilia was a real pleasure. 

Friday, April 04, 2014

Out and about in Houston

“Out and About - Take us on a walk through your town. What are the sights you see when you are out doing your daily or weekly chores, or when you are out for some leisure? (by Barb)”

Had to smile at the idea of walking about my town, doing errands and seeing the sights. Incase anyone is confused because I post from “Houston”, that’s Houston Texas, then talk about Missouri City, or Galveston, and maybe thrown in from time to time,, Sugarland and even Rosenberg, it is because all these towns are butted up, side by side.  The street names may change, and occasionally you can see a sign that says leaving Houston or entering Missouri City, but it is really one big city.  Linked by highways and bayous, shopping malls and shopping strips; stretching, spread-out, proliferating.  Reaching from the Gulf of Mexico to Huntsville, and from the Louisiana border to the prairie west of Katy this town is not something you stroll through seeing the sights. 

SAM_3126There are places to walk about…. from the fringe of a parking lot to the store front is sometimes a good hike.  During the Christmas holidays and other major shopping days, you are just as likely to have to drive to the fringe to park as to be lucky enough to find an empty spot up by the door.   On those days shopping is good for your heart….


Even getting back to the milk and eggs at the supermarket may take you by surprise.







DSC_2978Generally the effort to get to the supermarket or to the movie theater is about a 15 to 25 minute drive; just like it might be for those of you who live out in the countryside.  But this is just the amount of time it  takes to get out of the neighborhood and head up the highway a bit.  The days I meet my hiking group to walk the bayous or through the forest is about driving an hour or more (3) each direction.  If I do get out and drive this time of year, I am rewarded with the Texas wildflowers that thrive along the highways. 

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring is here Scavenger Hunt

I looked and looked for a yellow rose photo – you know the song ‘The yellow rose of Texas’ -I just went to the Texas A&M University archives to get the words, I was going to give you a line of two, and wow it is so politically incorrect in today’s world that I had to drop that Idea….  I don’t have a photo of a yellow rose anyway.

In Missouri City we have so many parks, and many of them have a wetland or grassland reclamation, so Spring is a delight of wild flowers.  I’ve done a couple of posts on these flowers and look forward to not only showing you more, but finding their names also.  I have to go shopping for a book or two.  In the past posts (hypertext above), I have used almost my whole archive collection of  yellow Flowers, wild and cultivated, in south Texas,  so I had to go with what I could find this week at the garden center -DSC_4467



I had a beautiful plant on the front steps last fall, and here in proud declaration, standing tall, the first leaf, proof of life after this very cold winter.


And a new spring shoe to start my summer exercise program….

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Water and the Houston area

The Houston area being on a flood or drainage plane for 3 good sized rivers, and being crisscrossed with multiple man made drainage bayous, creeks and lakes, lends itself to many water related activities.  For your consideration just 3 of the many things you can do down on the gulf coast all year round -  DSC_3907
Spending the day fishing 
Hanging with friends
Taking a solitary walk
One thing for sure, nothing beats spending the day by the water.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

early morning

DSCN3469Early morning in Houston has a different meaning for me versus for most of the city’s other 4 plus million inhabitants.  For one, I am normally having a quiet coffee and reading the news, a book, Facebook until eight or so.  The rest of the city is on its way to work, to school, working in the DSCN3658garden, playing a game of golf ….. I could go on and on listing the things that I am not exposed to early in the morning; but from time to time I get motivated and go out to walk or hike, either alone, with the dog or with a group, and get lucky enough to catch few early morning rays, slanting, reflecting or slowing making their way through the Houston fog.  

Friday, February 28, 2014

Houston and Stained Glass

DSC06254Several weeks ago I took a tour of the downtown tunnel system.  I had worked downtown prior to moving to Brasil so I already knew the tunnels.  How to make my way from the Bank of America Center, where I worked on the 23rd floor, to my favorite eateries and back.  When I first started working downtown, I would have to go up the escalators every once in a while to figure out where I was then go back down and continue on my way.  Unlike many of the downtown workers, sometimes I would pop up then walk on the streets, empty of people.  I love the architecture, the mixture of old and new, and the sense of energy that emanates from all buildings.

So taking this tour was for learning facts and figures, unusual antidotes, and to see what buildings the tour group thought were important to the city, and important to me - to take photos.   Like every tour I’ve ever taken, I came away vaguely disappointed.  The young tour guide, although very pleasant, had no particular knowledge of the tunnels.  We spent from 9:30 to 1:30 – walking about 3 miles (would normally take about 45 minutes), going up into only 3 buildings, having free time to eat lunch DSCN3191(at 11:00 to miss the lunch crowd??) and being taken into numerous stores to ‘shop’.  And photos were not allowed inside the tunnels….. what!

There were three highlights though that I found delightful and well worth the time and the money spent for the tour.  High atop the Chase towers, on the 60th floor, is a sky lobby where 1/2 of the city skyline is open to view.  You can take photos but not video (???) and it was fun seeing the wonder on the other visitors faces as they looked out over our sprawl.   (Lower left is the Bank of America center – the 23rd floor right at the center of the building as seen)

We also went into the basement of City Hall.  I would have like to see the building itself but what we saw was the gift shop and visitor's center.  First I didn’t know it was there, so that was great, and second they have brochures of every possible event or venue that you might be interested in seeing.  There were brochures from Harris, Ft. Bend, and Galveston Counties.  I brought home …. maybe 20, for things I would like to see and do.  … Arboretum, Aquarium, glass bottom boat ride, Fire station Museum, Weather Museum; all there and I didn’t know about them. 

Okay, I am finally getting to the stained glass. 


The best, the star, the highlight of the tour for me was the Chase Bank Building. (no longer owned by Chase) Built in 1929 as the Gulf Oil Building and until 1963 it was the tallest building in Houston.  The art-deco interior was restored in 1989 and is a must see.  One end of the lobby, with its soaring 43 foot ceilings, is the elevator bank with their nickel plated doors and the other end a stained glass window depicting Texas history.   I am sure that when this stained glass was added to the lobby-scape, it lit the lobby with color and light.  Today surrounded by taller building as it is only the artificial light of today lit the space.  Can you imagine this window when in its glory?DSCN3168





















… a few more details…..

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Food and Drink in Houston

Just about every Friday my daughter Patty and I meet for lunch.  Just about every Friday we start the day planning to meet at Sweet Tomatoes, my favorite super salad place.  Just about every Friday right around 11:00, about the time we are both starting to think about lunch, the texts start…. Patty, “Salad?”   Me,  “Is that what you want?”    Patty, “???”   Me, “what then?”   Patty, “GRINGOS?”  Or this can be reversed depending on who started the break from eating a healthy salad for lunch that week.

Gringos (4)The USA, Houston not being an exception, is made up with streets of fast food.  Every neighborhood, town, country road, has its typical fast food places.  Patty knows that I wont break from the salad bar for just any fast food place; UCK!  But Gringos, I have a week spot for their nachos, tortilla soup and especially for their green sauce.  Yes she know how to get me to break my good eating habits almost every Friday. 

Yes I have a weakness for Mexican or TEX-MEX as it is call in Texas.  There is Mexican fast food – Taco Bell for example – and there is good Tex-Mex like Gringos.  The building was built just for them.  It has a Spanish hacienda look and feel.  There is a patio seating area that we use in the 3 or four months a year when it is not too cold or too hot to sit out….. can’t think of any other reasons that I like the place, the green sauce speaks for itself…. I tried to get the recipe for you all…. couldn’t find it online and nothing substitutes for it.  So maybe someday when you get to Houston…..

Gringos (5)From the Gringo’s Facebook page …..”Gringo's Mexican Kitchen Unfortunately we can't release the exact recipe for our green sauce but I can provide you with the ingredients so you can take a stab at it! Avocados, sour cream, tomatillos, serrano peppers, jalapenos, salt, garlic powder, cilantro & water”



Here are a few pictures so you see the atmosphere I enjoy so much.  (And Yes they Have good Margs)

Gringos (2)  Gringos (3)  Gringos (13) 

Gringos (10)  Gringos (8)  Gringos (14)

Gringos (1)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Love of city….

I have a love-hate relationship with Houston.  I am positive of this.  The only thing that holds me here is my family.  Sharing their ‘moments’ means the most; after that I can’t really bring up an immediate taste for anything here that could be called LOVE.  The last time I participated in a heart / love / valentines’ for FSO was February of 2012.  In that post I had the same dilemma and that time I said, “… But when thinking about places close to the heart, there I could make a list.  It won’t be a surprise to you that Brasil in general was not on my list of  places ‘close to the heart’.  Maybe the botanical gardens of Rio or the park of the sitting dog in Friburgo are two of my favorite places but close to the heart is a stretch.  No, they are just interesting places.  My list would include Adrian Michigan, Houston Texas, Paris France (and other French places) and most of Italy… and in conclusion I posted about a few things I love in Italy. 
It is interesting to me to see that I listed Houston on my ‘list of places close to the heart” while I was in Brasil.  I am sure, even though I didn’t analyze it at the time, that this has to do with Patty and the grands being here in Houston.  And now I would probably list Brasil as a place close to the heart; now that I am not there…. I know. I know….
Celebrating Marissa’s Eighteenth birthday.  (me, Marissa, Patty, and Carl
I thought that one way to go about this is to make another list.  A list of what I like about Houston.  Here it is just the way the thoughts popped out – then I went in search of the photos to help you see my words.
DSCN3147Blue sky, and hot sun. 
DSC_4389Water all around. 
DSC_4644Forests of trails in which to walk.
DSCN3202A city of art and music reaching for the sky

Friday, January 31, 2014

Leading Lines Houston Style

SAM_0266Last night I went through my not so extensive archives for Houston and its surrounding satellites.  I picked a few possible photos for yet unimagined stories, pulled them into ‘Live Writer’ but no words flowed – nothing – nada – zip. 
Had a small Drambuie.  Nothing.  Played a few rounds of ‘Wonder Words’.  Nothing.  Turned out the lights.  Let it all percolate over a good night’s sleep. 
This morning woke to a wish for a coffee clutch to talk over the ideas…. balancing on a high wire above the noise, checking out the day, begin to feel creative, write…..DSC04994
Houston is often described a ‘ugly’, it isn’t.  Like most modern cities you have to know where to look for the beauty.  But, you can’t walk to find it.  Remember my stories from Rio, the little hidden gems I found walking the streets.  Here you have to drive, and then drive some more. All streets lead somewhere, most are tree lined and auto-clogged.   When you get there, you’d better have remembered your camera.  I have been forgetting my camera often lately.  And I don’t stop.  Is common to hear, ‘ that would make a great photo’ float through my mind as I speed by.  I sometimes get a secondary thought…. ‘I could park there and walk back’,  but...
I don’t know how many times I’ve wish for the nerve to stop in the middle of one of the streets and take a photo.  I know for sure that I would end up dead, but maybe my camera would survive and I would become a hero to all those that despise urban sprawl.  Over on the west side of  town, my side, the city / state / federal governments have just completed a five year ‘increase the freeways’ plan.  Since 1975 when I moved to Houston, the I-10 which runs from Florida to California, passing right through the middle of Houston, has gone from a 8 lane highway (two access on either side plus two lanes headed east and two west)  to an 18, yes that is eighteen lanes; passing the upper Galveston bay, oil refineries, the financial center, the rich homes off Voss and Memorial, the now named energy corridor, and exists Houston through the once sleepy town of  Katy, heading West.
And joining I-10 practically in the middle of the city is the Beltway 8.  In 1975, it was a two lane country road with open drainage ditches lining its sides.  Now! Now it is 14 lane toll road circling the city.  The outer loop is what it was called when our section was finished in ‘89. DSC_4533 It has grown and grown, tolls have risen, more than double as they, the government searches for money from the users to build even more toll roads;  Westpark and Ft. bend county toll roads to be exact., in an attempt to get the cars where they are going without spending money on a mass transit system.    Highways, the life blood of Houston.

(under construction the I-10 Beltway 8 interchange.   Built by the Federal Government.) 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Open Spaces


I would say that one thing Houston has, in abundance, is open space.  We do have tall buildings, and traffic and those tight spaces that all large cities have; those spaces that make you feel closed in, surrounded. 

But it is easy to drive a short distance in any direction and find space: open space, space to breath, to dream, to meditate with nothing but blue sky and acres of grass, forests or water, surrounding you.
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