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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…..

DSCN3160  DSCN3155 DSCN3169

DSCN3162  DSCN3175




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