Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Green bird

I like this guy's style, it's very distinctive. This is across from Texas Art Supply in Montrose.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


What do you think? Do these things add to the garden or make it too "buzzy"? (Full disclosure - my mom made this)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Crepe myrtles

At least something enjoys the heat.  Heat index of 106 degrees F. Whew!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summer Treat: Peaches!

Aren't they beautiful? One of the joys of summer: luscious, blushing, perfumed, peaches. I know it is possible to get peaches all year round, but canned peaches taste metallic and they don't have the velvet skin or the scent that makes me both ravenous and drowsy. Frozen peaches. . . well, I won't get into frozen peaches. Nothing compares to the real thing. I want to buy bags and bags of peaches and live on them until the season is over.

          From blossoms comes
          this brown paper bag of peaches
          we bought from the boy
          at the bend in the road where we turned toward
          signs painted Peaches.
                                        -  From Blossoms,  Li-Young Lee

Monday, July 11, 2011


We have chosen to fill our hives with honey and wax, thus furnishing mankind with the two noblest of things, which are sweetness and light. - Jonathan Swift

One of the highlights of the Houston Museum of Natural Science is the Cockrell Butterfly Center.  It's not just a hall full of bugs, but a simulated rain forest with rare orchids, a waterfall, etc. It's part of the Brown Hall of Entymology which has hissing cockroaches and all kinds of neat insects.  It's a lovely experience because it's always full of flowers and butterflies, but for my money (and HMNS is not a cheap visit) the best thing is the beehive.

The bees are not actually allowed in the butterfly center, as there would be panic and small children screaming and running into the ornamental waterfall. The bees are all nicely sealed off in clear plastic so vistors can see the bees at work and nobody can possibly be stung.  But if you feel daring, go outside the building (free!) and look carefully; you can find the tube that lets the bees out into the world.
But what does the museum do with the honey?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

The final flight

Obviously, this is not my picture. I wish I had the money and vacation time to camp out at Cape Canaveral to see the launch live and take all kinds of pictues, but rent and food take priority over epic cool. I don't think there is greater "epic cool" than flying in space. What a grand thing the shuttle is: the technology, the science, the brain power behind the thing. It's astonishing.

I'm sad it's the last shuttle mission, but there will be more space vehicles in the future. Maybe Richard Branson will get his commerical space program working. Maybe some genius we've never heard of will make a technological breakthrough and make it as easy as driving to New Orleans. One thing I'm sure of: spaceflight will continue, and it's going to be epic. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My neighborhood: The Menil Collection

I have to move in the next two months, which has resulted in me thinking about things I really like about my neighborhood. One of the things I really like is that I'm only a few blocks away from The Menil Collection. A world-class art museum that is FREE!

It even has a gallery dedicated to Cy Twombly, who died this week.

The Menil is easy to miss because it blends into the neighborhood, but that's part of its charm.

See the museum? It's behind the tree. I'm going to miss this place.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It rained today

which is something we've all been hoping for.  And after the rain, the sunset.

Texas skies are always dramatic.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


The remains of July 4th. I was completely buzzed on a a beer and a half!  I'm becoming such a lightweight. :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Agora returns

A horrible thing happened to the residents of Montrose last fall, when Agora burned down.

West wall - what remained of the balcony
Agora was not a hipper-than-thou coffee shop. It wasn't a Starbucks with ornamental coffee mugs for sale and a bazillion choices of coffee beans. They made good coffee, had an interesting selection of cookies, and decent beer and wine. The furniture was a selection of mismatched old tables and chairs, some sawn in half to better fit the space. The kind of furniture you wouldn't feel guilty about leaving a wet glass on. 

It was a relaxed place to have a coffee, or a beer, read a book, surf the web or chat with friends when you didn't want to go home yet. There were books and magazines on the tables, posters of Greece on the walls and lots and lots of Greek tourist tchotchkes. It was like hanging out in the living room of your favorite uncle who loved his Greek vacation so much, he decorated his entire house with that in mind. It was the heart of the neighborhood. So when fire claimed it last October, the shock was seismic.

The first question on many people's lips was "Will they rebuild?" Once it was clear that they would, the question was, "What are they going to do to it?" There was serious worry that they would increase the lighting, put in tile floors, or try to update the decor. Horrors!

The new West wall
They re-opened last Wednesday and they haven't done any of that. Agora looks almost untouched. The upstairs smoking balcony is gone (they've expanded the downstairs patio intstead) the comfy leather sofa has been replaced with a new comfy sofa and the piano didn't make it. (The sounding board is now installed in the newly expanded parking.) The stairs are still painted and scarily steep.

New sofa
It's not perfect. I loathe the television in the upstairs corner (My position is that if you want tv, go to a sports bar, or better yet, stay home.) and the jukebox was very loud. But these are minor quibbles. Agora is back!


Friday, January 7, 2011

Houston Garden Center

The weather has been extravagantly lovely, far too nice to stay inside, so I went to the Houston Garden Center, next to the Museum of Natural Science. 

I usually just think of it as the rose garden, because there is such a huge variety of roses surrounding the building and right now they are in bloom!

Everybody who's even vaguely important seems to have a rose named after them: Pope John Paul II (white), Ingrid Bergman (very dark red), Nancy Reagan (not in bloom, but red is a safe bet).  There's a garden puzzle for you: if you had to design a rose for someone, what elements would you choose? Colors, a simple 5 petal rose vs a hybrid tea, scented or not, flower size, a climber, a shrub rose, there are a lot variations to consider.

For example, I see Dolly Parton as a big, golden yellow, hybrid tea, one of those that gets even more lucious as it blooms.  Whereas Wynona Ryder would be a smallish white or lavender shrub rose, scented but not showy.

The garden also seems to be the city's warehouse. There are statues of Confucius, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Simon Bolivar, Bernardo O'Higgens, Robert Burns, and a few others whose names I can't remember.

A gift from Chiba, Houston's sister city in Japan.
My favorite part is actually the Fragrant Garden, which is an herb garden tucked behind an enormous bust of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca (a gift from their majesties of Spain). There are beds devoted to mint and sage, a bed of lemon-scented herbs and my personal favorite: rosemary. I can't go there without running my hands through the rosemary, it smells so good.

citronella leaf
And if you want a quiet spot to eat lunch, I highly recommend the pagoda on the far side of the garden. It has a beautiful ceiling.

the panels are beginning to warp a little, but it keeps the rain off.

Have a good weekend!