Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Clean Slate

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I know very few adults who really like the Holidays because it's a time that is frequently fraught with family and cultural pressures that are not at all cheerful or of our choosing. But it's about to be January, the month when we get to clean our slates and start a fresh new year and it seems, a fresh new life. I love January. I've never made New Years resolutions, I just quietly start January early, cleaning out my nest; dreaming of plans; nothing drastic, as slow and steady does it. Life suddenly seems adventurous again, even mysterious; maybe even magic.

The story behind the Perrier bottle: One year, Tall Husband and I planned an escape from Christmas (I hope none of you has a relative who uses a holiday as an excuse to take over your life.) We fled to Paris. Christmas Eve was spent at Au Pied de Cochon, a wonderful restaurant that was a short stroll from our hotel. Every table that evening had a festive anniversary bottle of Perrier. We have kept our bottle because it reminds us of the most wonderful Christmas Eve we could remember in a while. That bottle gave us the good sense just to say "no" the next year when our relative called with her holiday marching orders.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Patti Smith

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Today is the birthday of Patti Smith, singer-songwriter, poet, artist and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. My daughter Misha and I are long-time Patti Smith fans. But why the corkscrew with the fuzzy armpits? Because in the hands of Misha, that corkscrew does a mean rendition of "Dancing Barefoot," sounding just like Patti Smith while doing her moves.

Happy Birthday, Patti!

Note: Anna G Corkscrew is from Alessi and was designed by Alessandro Mendini. Tall Husband won her at a fantastic charity event, some years back, at Ligne Roset here in Houston.

(Click on photograph to enlarge.)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Come Fly With Me

The Prodigal Dress, by Linda Hickerson-Hofheinz; one of the many "flying" pieces of art in the office from which I write today.

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This is Bessie Coleman's Pilot's License from France. It does not, of course, indicate that she was the first African American to attain a pilot's license. (O.K., so she shaved four years off her age for the license.)

It's Blue Monday. So lets cheer ourselves up. The best way to do that is to forget about The Me and get lost in some one else's world. Let's jump into Bessie Coleman's world today. It was a tough world but she literally rose above it all to live her dream of being a pilot.

Bessie Coleman was born right here in my home state of Texas, in the little town of Atlanta. She overcame poverty and prejudice to become the first African American to earn a pilot's license. She had to secure funding, learn French, then sail off to France to take flight training, as no American flight school would enroll her. She completed the course at the Ecole d'Aviation des Freres Caudon at Le Crotoy. She then received her license on June 15, 1921 from Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI).

Though Bessie Coleman died young, she left a legacy and her rich life continues to inspire. Streets have been named for her; she has had a U.S. Postal stamp issued in her honor; a flying school for African Americans was established in her honor; books have been written about her; and even a Bessie Coleman doll is available.

In 2000, Bessie Coleman was inducted into the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame and in 2006 she was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of fame in Dayton, Ohio. She is a true legend.

Thanks, Bessie, my blues are history!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holiday Hangover

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Scene at a Houston shopping center: decorations post season. Kerry, above, says he has been decorating his vehicle for about sixteen years because he likes to put smiles on faces. Tall Husband and I are still smiling.

(Click on photograph to enlarge.)

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Bunny a Day Keeps the Blues Away

Here's a new arrival at The Bunny Bungalow, a vintage cement garden rabbit, with plenty of personality and patina.

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A dear old lop eared bunny found Tall Husband and me, while we were hanging out at a local Antique shop. He was hidden under an oak table with a silly red bow around his head when he beckoned to us. We love his cap and little split-tail jacket. But it's too bad that he has his walking stick instead of an umbrella, 'cause it looks like rain today.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Blueberry Bliss

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The blueberry cheese cake was a hit! Tall Husband said that it is the best cake I've ever made. Ahhh, Tall Husband!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It Isn't Easy Being Blond

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Tall Husband and I each had a BMW Z3 roadster. Mine was silver and his was red. We looked quite cool in them, with our blond hair blowing in the wind as we sped around the city.

Every Saturday we hand washed our Z's in the driveway, followed by a thorough vacuuming of the interiors. I was doing my usual vacuum routine, all scrunched up and contorted so as to reach all the tight places. I had just crawled backward out of my roadster and was stretching my back, when a realization hit me like a bolt of lightening.

Tall Husband was busily drying off his roadster when I said to him, "I just realized something that will embarrass and shame us both."

"Shoot," he said.

"For some time now, we've been killing ourselves vacuuming inside our tiny cars, when we could have just put the tops down for easy access."

Indeed, Tall Husband looked like he had been shot, "Don't tell anyone about this."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dental Humor

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This is the photo on the bag of dental goodies from my Dentist. Isn't it wonderful!? Thanks all of you at Dr. Alani's office for taking such great care of my teeth.

Now on to making that blueberry cheesecake for Tall Husband. Oh, Dr. Alani, we promise to brush afterward.


BMW Isetta scale model from Momentum BMW Dealer, Houston.

Today is a day for errands, so I must jump into the old Bemer and be on my way. (I do dream of having the life-size BMW Isetta like the tiny one above, sitting on a bookshelf at My Ranchburger.)

I'm attempting to persuade myself to buy the ingredients and bake one of my blueberry cheesecakes for Tall Husband. He would be so surprised to have his favorite dessert for the holiday. What a lot of work but perhaps I can manage it.

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I'm off. It's such fun to peel out. I only recently learned that peeling out is not legal. Wheee! Off to the grocers, dentist, pharmacy, post office, florist, etc.

Monday, December 22, 2008

When Genius Blooms

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Srinivasa Ramanujan
22 December 1887-26 April 1920

Just say that I'm a sucker for genius, or merely caught up in the romance of brilliance. Having heard of him once, how can one ever forget this man? I first heard of the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan in 1988 when I watched a NOVA broadcast about his life and work ("The Man Who Loved Numbers," original broadcast date: 3/22/88.) This man's passion and genius for numbers is intriguing, causing one to wonder how such genius came to be. It indeed seemed to bloom from nothingness. He is described as a poor clerk from India who, with little formal training in pure mathematics, astounded the world's top mathematicians with his brilliance.

As impressive as Ramanujan's passion for numbers, was the fact that academicians at the University of Cambridge overlooked his lack of formal mathematical training or credentials and instead, looked at his work and recognized his genius. G.H. Hardy, the famous mathematician, who was at Cambridge, stated that his own greatest contribution to mathematics was his discovery of Ramanujan.

Though he died young, Ramanujan left a legacy in the form of his mathematical notes that are still being
mined today.

Recommended reading:
  • "The Man Who Knew Infinity," by Robert Kanigel. This is an excellent, well written biography of Ramanujan's life and work.
  • "A Mathematician's Apology," by G.H. Hardy, is an engaging account of mathematics in which he also writes of his collaboration with Ramanujan.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Weekend Surprise

A surprise gift from Linda. The occasion? She simply came across something that had to be at The Bunny Bungalow.

Ahh...a jeweled enamel bunny!

Linda's Cute Husband says that this is a secret place to keep my karats.

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Here he is, keeping an eye on me as I blog about him. Thank you Linda. He's adorable!

Friday, December 19, 2008


Vintage Saint Laurent evening shoes: intoxicating.

Prada, the Devil's Shoe.

Life from inside a Prada: Evil!

Vintage Charles Jourdan of Paris: bubbly as pink champagne.

Vintage Walter Steiger suede: smooth.

New Helmut Lang evening pump: deadly brew.

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Vintage Charles Jourdan black leather with wings and studs; enough said.

Hello, my name is Annie and I'm a shoeholic. It all began when I was five-years-old and couldn't live without that pair of French red leather Mary Janes. When I get depressed, a couple pairs of Pradas dissolve the blues. But I don't shop alone; and I don't shop in the mornings either; honest. I can stop anytime I want. Hey, I've heard about that Twelve Step Program; well I'll need a new pair of shoes for each step!

Note: These are only a some of my huge collection. Luckily, my twin granddaughters inherited my long skinny feet and will soon give some of my collection a home.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Evil Twin

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Inez and her Evil Twin, a painting by Linda Hickerson-Hofheinz, was a gift from Tall Husband.

It was a special evening in an elegant restaurant on a New Years Eve. Our twin granddaughters were dressed in their matching party clothes, looking and behaving like dark-haired baby angels. We had just finished our dessert and twins Sofia and Andrea were bored with the restaurant scene.

Sofia: "Tita Ann, you have a fireplace, don't you? Let's go to your house and make a fire."

Me: "Your grandfather doesn't like to have a fire in the fireplace."

Sofia: "Well, I would start a fire anyway. If he makes a fuss, I would just throw away something he really likes."

Mother of Sofia and Andrea: "Sofia, Mama is missing a pair of new shoes."

Sofia: "You should be nicer to me."

Mother of Sofia and Andrea: Stunned silence quickly followed by a certain look that said: You will be dealt with later!

Note: Sofia loves this story, asking each time I tell it, "Was I an evil twin?" wanting to believe she could have been.

"Yes! Quite evil," I assure her.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Don't Give a Fig for...

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The porcelain fig is from Beadboard Upcountry.

Thirteen things I don't give a fig for:
  • "Victorian" front doors on ranchburgers.
  • Tofu anything.
  • Purple houses.
  • Women my age who paint their lips big and red.
  • Strong, cheap perfume or cologne on anyone near me.
  • Smoking (It makes me sad, as I've had so many patients to whom I've had to teach an alternate method of communication after they lost their larynx to cancer.)
  • Multicolored things, except for nature, art or candy.
  • Telephone calls from anyone I don't know.
  • Sushi.
  • People who burn popcorn in the office microwave.
  • Sentences that begin with, "Don't take this personally but..."
  • McMansions.
  • Television.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Childhood Memories

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This is Tall Son in kindergarten. Actually this is how Tall Son saw himself in kindergarten. Never mind that he was a skinny kid and better looking than this. It seems that he believed he and his father were both fat. This round rendition of himself, along with other of his drawings, was on display at his school's open house. [Here I must apologize for not having the pièce de résistance from that night.]

As Tall Son escorted me around his classroom, pointing out his work, I noticed a group of whispering parents in front of a bulletin board. "What are they looking at?" Whatever it was, I could tell by their hushed tones and facial expressions, that it was controversial.

"They are probably looking at my cat," Tall Son said matter-of-factly.

I inched closer and sure enough there was a large, skillfully executed drawing of a gray cat, standing on its hind legs with its fore paws in the air. But wait; this was no ordinary cat. It had two ample, purple human-like breasts, of which it seemed quite proud. And the signature, most legibly written, was my son's. "What kind of parents must this kid have?" I overheard. With that, Tall Son and I were out the door in search of punch and cookies.

While I was tucking him into bed that night I said, "That was a well done cat but why the large purple breasts?"

"So everyone could see them."

"Well it worked."

I never had the nerve to ask his teacher why she displayed the cat. Perhaps her answer would have been the same as Tall Son's. Or maybe she felt that Lincoln, Nebraska needed
shaking up.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Urban Bungalows

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Early morning view of urban bungalows on Center Street, Houston, Texas. These two homes designed by Brett Zamore are for sale.

Their three gables stood out like white sails against the distant sky. I had never noticed them before, yet these strange visages seemed vaguely familiar. I made a mental note to check them out the next day, as Tall Husband and I were on our way to an appointment and did not have time for exploration.

The next morning after breakfast we drove down Washington Avenue in search of the three soaring gables. "Slow down; take the next right; double back!" There they were, two wonderful urban bungalows, strutting their stuff. Up close and personal the quality of their construction was impressive, as was their wonderful less-is-more design. I fell in love with the soaring roof line and the lofty ceilings that were visible from the outdoor decks. Searching through my memory bank, I recalled having seen something like them years earlier in a magazine, then more recently in a posting on Carolina Eclectic's blog.

It turns out my memory was right on. These designs, by Brett Zamore of Zamore Homes in Houston, have been featured widely in the media and I had seen his Kaplan house in Dwell Magazine, 2005.
Then these new houses are on Carolina's blog. These Center Street homes are a joint venture of Zamore Homes and Area 16, which has its office next door in a remodeled bungalow.

As we drove away, I was totally smitten and ready to sell My Ranchburger and move into one of these bungalows or "shot-trots" as their designer calls them. Our Le Corbusier furniture would look perfect there and the area is not far from The Bunny Bungalow. Tall Husband was listing reasons not to, reminding me that I fall in love with a new house at least once a month.

We were blocks away when I suddenly remembered that there had been three gables. Where was the third one? So we double back and find that the third gable is behind the Area 16 bungalow/office. Later we learn from their website that this third gable belongs to a small (400 square-foot) house also designed by Zamore and it is for rent.

Outside Links to These Urban Bungalows:

Carolina Eclectic's Posting "Ready-to-assemble kit-homes built with off-the-shelf components that provide high-design, affordability, customization, and energy efficiency in an easy, hassle-free solution." for 4309 Center Street, Houston, TX 77007 for 4307 Center Street, Houston, TX 77007