This Is Houston

IMG_0401Sitting on 300 acres in the heart of Houston’s museum and medical center district is Rice University, consistently ranked in the top 20 U.S. colleges and universities.   With all its land, Rice could be a much larger school, but it serves less than 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students.  Interestingly, the students reflect Houston’s cultural diversity.

IMG_0404This time of year strolling the campus is lovely with azaleas blooming profusely.

IMG_0421Paths and streets are shaded by arching limbs of old live oak trees. 

IMG_0407Architecturally, Rice is a gem.

IMG_0410Arches are a common feature,

IMG_0409and it is not unusual to see photographers, amateur and professionals alike, shooting among them.

IMG_0424As time has passed,  arches have taken on a more modern look though the building materials have remained the same.

IMG_0431One building on campus has a look all its own, and it’s not surprising that it would be the art center.

IMG_0438Now Rice is not a football powerhouse, but the stadium is huge seating more than 70,000.  Back in the early 70’s a Super Bowl was held there and not too many years ago was one of my all time favorite concerts featuring Billy Joel and Elton John.  What a combo!

Yes, Rice University is one of those places in Houston that is truly worth a visit.  It is also a great resource for continuing education.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

This Is Houston

For the next 3 weeks western attire will be the norm in Houston as it’s rodeo time.  I have to confess that I don’t own a single piece of western style clothing so I don’t quite fit the look.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a really big deal featuring big name entertainers and raising lots of money for scholarships awarded to young people.

I don’t know how many people go to the rodeo, but when I tell you it’s mass humanity both on the grounds and in the stadium, believe it.  This is not a great thing for one who does not like crowds!

As much as the entertainment, I totally enjoy the events.  Bronco and bull riding take a lot more courage than I could muster up.

barrelracing  Not being a gal who has ever enjoyed horseback riding, I have great admiration for these gals who showcase their skills in the barrel race.

Chuck wagon races are just plain fun and get the crowd cheering .

The calf scramble is madness with kids doing everything they can to get a calf tied down. The calves are not always real cooperative.

With the rodeo events over for the night, the lights go down and quick as a wink the stadium is transformed into an entertainment venue, this night featuring Garth Brooks, a real favorite among country and western music fans.  I have to say he is quite the entertainer feeding off the crowd energy and giving it his all.

I don’t know how late into the night things go, but as we left there was a little two steppin’ going on 

and the amusement park was still in full swing.

You know, this is Texas.  It’s just kinda surprising that it happens in Houston!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

This Is Houston

Every Houston winter is different, and this one has been no exception.  The first few weeks of 2018 have been colder than usual and mostly gray causing me to stay inside  and focus more on preparing comfort food.

Sadly, there were just enough below freezing temperatures to do considerable damage to yards not designed to tolerate the cold.  Now, much of what is in my yard is cut back to the ground waiting for sunshine and warm weather to bring it back.

As I walked around, I noticed little hints of green that promise regrowth.

Weather here can turn on a dime and today is warm and sunny, perfect for a trip to the nursery to gather a few things for repotting.

For the next few months snapdragons, gerbera daisies and ornamental cabbage will add color to the patio and brighten the gray days that are still to come.

With the planting done, it was a treat to sit on the porch for some leisurely moments enjoying a simple lunch and reading.

Days like this are what make Houston a most pleasant place to be, and I look forward to each one between now and the time we return to Maine’s beauty.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Inside Space Center Houston

level9_newmc_thumb-300x300If you know nothing else about Houston, it’s likely you know that it’s home to Mission Control for NASA’s space program and the training center for astronauts.  Located here in 1961, NASA continues to be an important part of what goes on in Houston.

In 1992, Space Center Houston opened and has become one of the leading attractions in the city hosting more than 1,000,000 visitors each year.  I had not visited in some time and thought it time to go.  What an absolutely fascinating place it is.

IMG_20170327_133734Exhibited there are spacecraft flown on three missions, Mercury 9, Gemini 5 and Apollo 17.  As I looked at the early capsules, I had a whole new appreciation for the early astronauts who were confined to very small spaces.  Having a tendency toward claustrophobia, I couldn’t begin to imagine myself shut in for more than a few minutes!

IMG_20170327_133836Nor could I imagine floating in space tethered to a capsule.  I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen in case of separation.

00000IMG_00000_BURST20170327133709_COVERAnyone around in 1969 remembers man’s first landing on the moon and Neil Armstrong’s defining the experience as one  small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.  It gives me chills just to remember the moment.

IMG_20170327_133920Displayed are the Lunar Rover and many artifacts associated with moon landings.

IMG_20170327_135236Especially fascinating are the mockups for the space station.

IMG_20170327_135202The fact that it is home for months means it has to have conveniences that would allow the travelers to maintain a life as normal as possible.

IMG_20170327_135036Floating weightless is yet another concept I can’t imagine.

Mars is the next big challenge for NASA, and there is a fascinating virtual reality presentation that allows visitors to experience the landscape.  It is expected to take around seven months to get there and it’s not a turn around since return depends on the astronomical position of the earth and Mars.  I was fascinated to read that some experimental gardening will take place while astronauts wait for the return trip.  Can you imagine eating strawberries cultivated on Mars?

This is a bird’s eye view of what is on view at Space Center Houston which is well worth a look should you visit here.  As time passes I plan to show you some other venues that make Houston a most interesting place.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Things Change

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShortly after we married, the hubby and I bought a house in a small town that is smack dab in the middle of Houston.  At the time, the neighborhood had grown old.  Houses were mostly bungalows with a smattering of two story homes, most of which needed updating.  The majority of lots were 50×100.  

Along the way something happened.  Houston grew and grew making close in property more and more valuable.  That meant that in our little town old houses gave way to bulldozers

West Uand were replaced with big new ones.

Surprisingly, the house we lived in for 20 years stayed standing, but last week that changed.  Like all the others around it, it came down.

P3021528In a matter of minutes it was rubble, and the hubby and I had moments of nostalgia as we looked at the home that held so many memories.  The two of us had totally remodeled the house over a five year period.  We did all the work except for the sheetrock and floor tile in the space we added.  Looking back, we marvel at the energy we had and remember how proud we were of each step forward.

P3021524The house may be gone, but what didn’t come down is the sweetgum tree we planted the first year we had the house, and we laughed as we remembered its story.  It was to be a birthday surprise, but it was spoiled by the assistant who answered the phone when I called the hubby.  “Oh,” she said, “he’s not here.  He went to get your tree.”  When he came home with it, I tried to act surprised, but laughter overcame me and I had to tell him he had been foiled.

By the time we had kids, the tree had grown enough for it to become the climbing tree for every kid on the block. I can see them now and hear their young voices as they nestled in the limbs.  You know, things change, but the memories we hold dear stay with us.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Football and More

img_8592All the talk about and around Houston these days involves the Super Bowl to be played here Sunday.

img_8595Downtown Super Bowl Center is alive with activity and thousands gather to participate in the goings on and, perhaps, spot a celebrity or two.

img_8594From what I see and hear there is something for everyone be it art or live performances.

Office View HoustonAs exciting as all this is, there’s more to this big city than Super Bowl activities, and, hopefully, visitors will have opportunity to take some of it in.

Houston is a city of bayous designed for drainage, but they are also becoming sources for outdoor activity.  Buffalo Bayou is the largest, and it has recently undergone significant change.

These days folks can hike and bike,  kayak 

bbayou-4-e1462310177369or take a scenic boat ride on the bayou.

img_1652-version-2For sure, visitors will find lots of good eats in Houston as it is one of the country’s best foodie cities with cuisines for every palate.  One could eat here for a very long time without having to go to the same restaurant twice.

img_7776sA don’t miss is TexMex.  It doesn’t get any better than at any one of the many Mexican restaurants here.

MFAHFor quieter moments, a visit to one of Houston’s outstanding museums is a delight

img_1205-1as is a stroll through a nearby park.

As I think about it, there’s much that Houston has to offer, but with the emphasis on football some visitors  may not get an opportunity to experience it.  Come Sunday, if I open the windows it just might be possible to hear the noise of the crowd cheering for a favorite team.  For a few thousand dollars I could be there, too, but I’ll be watching on TV with plenty of chips and queso handy.   

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Reentry

I am very lucky to live in two places: Houston, Texas and Rockport, Maine.  We have just returned to Houston and, oh, what a difference.  Many of those differences make reentry something of a challenge.

Office View HoustonHouston is big and with that comes lots of traffic.  

HoustonRight now I drive the freeways with my heart in my mouth, fearful of changing lanes and intimidated by 18 wheelers closing in urging me to speed up or waiting to pass me by.  

img_7502That is quite a contrast to Maine where most of the roads are two lanes with 50 MPH speed limit which makes driving a bit more leisurely to say nothing of being more scenic.

img_8259As different as it is, there are things I like about being in Houston.  High on the list is Costco where I always come out with much more than  I meant to purchase.  That was especially true on this first visit when having access to so much was overwhelming!

img_8314I like that Houston winter is green with lots of blooming things, the way Maine is in summer.  By the time we leave Maine, most of the color is gone and the landscape takes a break until spring when it reawakens.

img_8332Returning to Houston means going to St. Paul’s UMC, a church I’ve loved for many years.  I appreciate its timeless Gothic architecture, the peacefulness I feel there, the way it provides opportunity for discovering your own faith walk and that it is open to all people.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The best part of reentry is returning to my house in the area that has been home to the hubby and me since we’ve been married.  (One of these days I will have to tell you the story of how this house got me elected to office or at least how I think it helped.)

Rockport Pano 6X18

As different as it is, I enjoy the time we spend in Houston, but I must confess that I do miss waking up in the morning, turning my head and looking out on Rockport Harbor.

Rockport Harbor

No matter the season, no matter whether it’s sunny or foggy, I love the view, the activity 

winter/lobster boatsand the sight and sound of lobster boats going out for the day’s work.  The most I see upon waking in Houston is the fence that separates our and the neighbor’s property.

Despite their differences, I am lucky to live in Houston and Rockport, and each helps me appreciate the other a little more.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

Joining

Wow Us Wednesday

What’s It Wednesday

A Trip Back in Time

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYears ago I fell in love with a street in the heart of Houston that dates back to the early 1900’s and is one of the very few locations in this big city where historic homes have been preserved.  These elegant residences were designed by some of the foremost architects of the times…John Staub, Birdsall P. Briscoe, Alfred Finn to name a few…and became home to the then elite of Houston.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday, the street remains a gracious oasis, a trip back in time.    The houses, of course, have been updated to include conveniences suitable for today’s living, but the lovely architectural elements remain intact.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANo exception is my friend’s home which she is generously allowing me to share.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom the front door 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAto every nook and cranny, there are traces of the past.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe incredible stair rail is Victorian dating back to the 1800’s.  The home’s original owner had it disassembled from another of his locations for installation here.  Its beauty sets the tone for the entire house.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATall ceilings were characteristic of the era as is the beautiful marble fireplace surround.

Informal sunrooms were common, and this one is a cheerful and inviting space that exemplifies how tastefully color is used throughout the house.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhere neutrals keep tight areas from being too dark, there are surprising splashes of color in upholstery choices.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThough the spacious kitchen has been completely updated, it retains much of its original feel thanks to the style of the appliances and the cabinets.

Touches like the corner cabinet over the sink and the glass front cabinets do their part to add charm.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs in other of the houses on this street, the dining room was designed for entertaining. In this beautifully appointed room, it is easy to imagine elegantly clad men and women arriving by horse drawn carriage for an enchanting evening.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat is wonderful about the home today is that it not only provides glimpses into another time, but it totally reflects the warm character of the people who now live here.  I give total kudos to my friend who has so lovingly decorated it, making every decision as to how it should look and feel.  For all the years I have known her, she has been collecting unique pieces that are now so at home in their space.  She must have known all along where they were waiting to go.

As wonderful as the house is, my favorite space is the carriage house, but that will have to wait for another day.  Do come back.

Joining

Metamorphosis Monday

The Scoop

Wow Us Wednesday

Dishing’ It & Diggin’ It

Transitioning

I am very lucky to live in two places I enjoy for very different reasons, but transitioning, especially to Houston, is a bit of a challenge.

Rockport HarborFrom May until November, as soon as my eyes are open I look out the window to Rockport Harbor.  It’s a beautiful view no matter the season, and my last glimpse of it is etched in my mind.

HoustonThis morning I woke up and everything was so unfamiliar.  The view outside the window was a water soaked fence and plants bedraggled by too much rain. The only water is that which flows in the fountain outside the breakfast room, and it looked neglected and sad as did everything around it.

lobster boatI sat for a few minutes wondering where I belong.  I love those months in Maine where we have made wonderful friends with whom we frequently gather.  I love the beauty of the place, the unhurried lifestyle, the boat trips, the islands, the lobster boats and lighthouses. It is the place where I feel so at ease and where my gray hairs and jeaned self fit right in.

Office View HoustonHouston is such a contrast.  It’s BIG, and there’s more of everything from traffic to restaurants to entertainment and shopping opportunities.  It is the place I have lived most of my adult life, and the hubby and I are lucky to live in a wonderful neighborhood where most of our friends still reside. The down side is that people have so many distractions that it can be difficult to spend time together.  Spontaneous gatherings are almost an impossibility. 

MaineHouston is the place that will always seem like home, but there is no question that Maine is the way life should be.

Costco

However, once I go to Costco and get a tennis match or two under my belt, all will seem like normal, at least until May!

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind