Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Art Weekend

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston  just ended its show "Picasso: Black and White". I went to see it last weekend while it was still here. Some of it was incredible, hauntingly beautiful, and some of it made me wonder if he was arguing with the sitter. There's one bronze in particular that looked like one of those squeeze toys where the eyes pop out. What do you think?

Anyway, after spending so much time looking at works by one of the acclaimed genius' of the 20th century, I felt inspired to look for more art on the streets of Houston.  They may not be Picasso, but they are free.
Watching over the parking lot, guarding the cars
A reminder that there is more to life than traffic, visible from 59 South
Making the Wendy's parking lot a brighter place

Monday, May 27, 2013

Work Clothes for Summer

My friend Leslie Farnsworth posted about a recent shopping trip, a trip that was doomed to failure from the start, because it's May and she wanted clothing for work.
I knew it was doomed for two reasons:
  1. I had gone shopping myself, and had seen the dearth of clothing first hand and, 
  2. because women's clothing is seasonal.
Don't misunderstand me, I'm not talking about trying to find a parka in July. It makes sense that as the weather warms up, the clothing gets lighter, and vice versa.  That's not the problem. The problem is that for some reason, the fashion world has decided that women don't work between Easter (April) and Labor Day (September). The clothing choices in Spring and Summer are almost exclusively for vacation. The stores are full of bathing suits, coverups, maxi dresses, tunics and camp shirts. I like all these things, but I can't wear them to work.
Floral and transparent - I saw a lot of this in the stores this weekend.
And the colors! Instead of nice, normal neutrals, shirts sprout flowers in neon pink and coral. If you are desperate enough to look for a suit in summer, it will be pastel and short sleeved. And every few years some designer tries to pass off formal shorts as office wear. (It's not going to happen - give up.)
Admittedly, there are more choices if you shop online. But the problem with online, is that you can't tell how it fits. You can't tell from a picture that the fabric is itchy, or if the jacket cuts you off at just the wrong point. Just return them you say? True, but then I have to spend time going back and forth to the post office, and checking to make sure that the cost was credited back to me. Time I'd rather spend doing something fun. 
Men don't have this problem. Men can buy a dress shirt all year round, in a normal color. That's all I want, a corner of the department, set aside for office wear. The rest of it can be a blaze of seasonal color and string bikinis, I just need something I can wear to work in July.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Which Dickens?

My late grandmother was an Anglophile. If it came from the UK, it was good. She had tea from Harrods and Wedgewood china, pins from Scotland painted with thistles, and a treasured picture of her cousin shaking hands with the queen. But mostly she had books, lots and lots of books. And I inherited from her the complete works of Charles Dickens.

Of these, I have read exactly one: Great Expectations, because it was required to pass my English literature class. I remember liking the book more than I expected, but I haven't picked up any more of them. I am going to change that this summer.

Which one should I read? Nicholas Nickleby? Barnaby Rudge? the Mystery of Edwin Drood? or maybe Little Dorrit, or The Old Curiosity Shop. I could skip fiction altogether and read the travelogue of his American tour - American Notes.

I am asking your advice, O wise denizens of the blogosphere. What should I read this summer?

Weekend Fun Video
The muppets take on Charles Dickens best known story.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Home Improvement: The Pantry

As you all know, I like to cook. So I have a lot of spices in the house. But they are always sold in little jars that end up crammed onto a shelf with a lot of other little jars, so it's hard to see what you have. This is how I ended up with three jars of rosemary last year.

My favorite herb
I needed a spice rack. So my father, who has never met a woodworking project he didn't like, built me one.
This is no ordinary spice rack, I'll have you know.

It's custom made to fit not just the door but the spices. I'm not kidding, he measured the jars, so that the big ones would fit, the little ones wouldn't fall out, and the labels on all of them would be visible. 

It's affixed to the door with 10 screws and hot glue, making it a permanent fixture. It's solid as a rock with the capacity to hold 63 standard size spice jars. If this doesn't add to the value of the house, I don't know what will.

I know this is rather silly, pointless bragging, but I'm excited. I have a spice rack!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sorry I'm late

I know I usually post on Mondays, but my mother has been sick. She's still sick actually, but now we know what it is, which is better than having a phantom illness. It's funny how much having a name for it helps, since the situation is exactly the same as it was before. But having a name makes one feel a little less helpless - because at least you know what it is. Anyway, it's serious but not terminal. Mostly, it is causing her a lot of pain. 

And it hurts to not be able to do anything. Because there is nothing I can do, except wait with her, until they can get a course of treatment going. She has pain medication, which has helped a lot, but in the meantime, I'm part of the network of family and friends on call.

This sucks.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Proof that I am not a gardener

There has been an unassuming green bush by my garage. I thought it was an azalea. It didn't bloom when the other azaleas bloomed, but since it seemed healthy otherwise, I didn't really think about it.

Yesterday I found out why it didn't bloom with the other azaleas.

It's a gardenia.

Weekend fun video

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Opera Memories

When I was little, I wanted to be a singer, and not just any singer, an opera singer. I don't think I knew what opera was at the time, but I knew that opera was the grandest form of singing that there was, and if I was going to do anything, I was going to do it big. (Modesty has never been an issue with me.)

A love for theater runs in the family. My grandmother was a huge fan, and when I was around 8 she gave me an old book of hers, Minute Stories of the Opera. I still have it, though it wasn't until I was in high school that I noticed that, in the front, she wrote her full name, address, the date (Oct 14th, 1936) and her age: 15 years, 5 months and 12 days.

At the time, I was enthralled with the art deco style of the illustrations (very different from the kiddie comic books I was used to) and the stories, which brimmed over with love and violence. (Not so different from fairy tales, come to think of it.) 

The reason I'm telling you all this is that Houston Grand Opera is performing the first opera I ever saw (La Boheme) at Miller Outdoor Theater this weekend. Two performances, Friday and Saturday, so if you can't make one, you can go to the other. Or go to both! It's free.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Art Car!

One of the highlights of the Houston year is the annual Art Car Parade. It's run by the same people that run the Orange Show, which I talked about in this blog last year.

Anyway, I had a terrific time: I walked till my feet hurt, took over a hundred pictures and got a touch of sunburn, making me a genuine redneck. Then I went home and collapsed on the couch. Art car really takes it out of you!

One of the things I most love about the parade, is that people dress to complement their vehicle. It's practically unsporting to not wear something that goes with the car. So it's not just a tribute to what people can do with time, glue, and welding equipment, it's also prime people watching.

And if you can't the parade, check out the art car museum!

Don't slip!
his fist lights up and the cape moves up and down
I think they're bumblebees?
I don't know what the theme is, but I love how the top of the bumpers are crotcheted and the entire car is actually carved, it looks like paint until you get up close
a bubble wrap dinosaur
Anyone for breakfast?

The colonel, driving his drumstick

Death's motorcycle
zebra dancer
Viva Lucha!

the whole car was decorated with soda cans - "Pop" art

 Misses America!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

For Mom

Because she is the only reason I know who Johnny Mathis is.



Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Developing a Green Thumb

I've never been known for my way with plants. I've long been a practitioner of lazy girl gardening. Lazy girl gardening is very simple:
  1. Have a selection of nice planters/pots on the balcony, in the living room, wherever you want a plant.
  2. Go to the garden center and buy full grown plants.
  3. Transfer plants to the planters.
  4. When the plants die, replace them.
So when I bought my little house last year, I wasn't looking for a garden. A little outdoor patio or terrace, somewhere to relax on summer evenings with friends and a bottle of wine, but not a garden.
But now that I have actual ground to put things in, I find I'm interested. And I enjoy it, even if trying to dig a hole in the clay that passes for soil around here is hard and thankless work.  Last summer I planted three jasmine plants. I killed two of them immediately in a freak weedwhacker accident, but I replaced them and now look.

I have the most fragrant backyard in the neighborhood.  This weekend, I threw caution to the winds and planted mint. If this keeps up, I may have an herb garden before the summer's over.

If you have a garden and a library,
you have everything you need.
                                                       - Cicero

Monday, May 6, 2013

This has to be a joke

I took the Proust Questionnaire this weekend. A Proust Questionnaire is a nineteenth century parlor game; a list of questions that is supposed to reveal something about the personality of the person taking the quiz. 

Questions are things like: What is your greatest fear? What is your motto? What trait do you most admire? etc...

Vanity Fair has been getting celebrities to answer a version of the questionnaire for years, and has compiled the interviews into a book. To promote the book, they have created an interactive version of the questionnaire online. You submit your answers and you can see how you stack up against celebrities who have taken the quiz.

My two closest matches were:

Julie Andrews

Karl Rove
I want to see how they calculated this. There's something seriously wrong here.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Around town

If you have to panhandle, you might as well do it with style. I gave him 2 bucks, wouldn't you?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Diet Update: Week 2 - A Setback

Current Weight: 276.8
Lost this Week: -2
Lost Total: 6

Some well meaning but inconsiderate person, (who shall not be named here) brought cookies into my house this weekend and left them there. A sane person confronted with such temptation would have thrown them out. But I am not sane around sugar. When it comes to sugar, I am Willie Nelson with a bale of weed. Cookies are my kryptonite. I ate them.

And I am paying the price for it. It's sad, going over the same ground twice, but I have my healthy lunch all packed, and a nice healthy dinner in the refrigerator and there is nothing left in the house to ruin my diet. I am determined to get this done.

In honor of Willie Nelson's 80th birthday (yesterday) and also how I feel about sugar.