Saturday, August 30, 2008

New Neighbors

Hmm, what's that? Is our neighbor adding on?
(View from the front yard of The Bunny Bungalow in the Heights)

No, it's a midrise apartment at 2125 Yale in the Heights. That's the bad news. The good news, according to retail friends in the neighborhood: Kaplan's Ben Hur, the former property owners, were looking out for the neighborhood. They refused to sell to anyone who would slap a highrise there. More good news: the construction company has run a very clean construction site, as evidenced in the above photo. They even have a machine that cleans the streets used by their crew. They have also provided excellent site security to preclude attracting vagrants to the area.

Posted by Picasa

If you would be a good neighbor, click here to check out these premier apartments:

Friday, August 29, 2008


Posted by Picasa

My friend Linda and I were at dinner the other night with Cute Husband and Tall Husband. We were talking about foods we love. During the conversation, Linda and I discovered that we both have a passion for Nutella, that wonderful hazelnut spread. Neither of us is to be trusted with a jar in the house. We love it with peanut butter on just about anything; go crazy for it on a croissant; on toast; heck, we love it on the end of a knife. Never mind waterboarding: just promise us Nutella and either of us would tell you where the missiles are.

So the next day, I'm in the grocery store and I've just put my hand on a jar of Nutella when my cell phone rings and through my bluetooth I hear, "What are you up to?" It's Tall Husband. How did he know?

"Oh, you startled me. I'm just looking at the Nutella." A woman pushing her cart past me quickens her pace, as she thinks I'm some deranged maniac talking to a jar.


"What's that? You're cutting out. Call you later." And I take off down the isle with the Nutella bouncing around the grocery cart.

"Get the Nutella, Annie! You're a person of great willpower and would never over indulge."

Oh, Tall Husband, ye of too much faith.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Patriot Guard Riders

Last Sunday was motorcycle Sunday. After meeting Ken and his Harley, Tall Husband and I were leaving Dry Creek Cafe in the Houston Heights when we spotted two interesting looking bikers having breakfast on the patio. We struck up a conversation with them and learned that they are members of the Patriot Guard Riders.

Jimmie of the Houston Heights

Richard of Houston Sharpstown

Motorcycle eye candy

Posted by Picasa

Richard explained the function of the Patriot Guard Riders, stressing "by invitation from family" and "respect." He had some poignant stories about the rides in which he had participated.

According to their national website, the Patriot Guard Riders were originally organized to shield the families of deceased U.S. Military men and women from anti-war demonstrators who showed up at their funerals. This is accomplished through their flag lines, a "legal, non-violent and respectful" approach. Their mission, taken from their national website:

The Patriot Guard Riders is a diverse amalgamation of riders from across the nation. We have one thing in common besides motorcycles. We have an unwavering respect for those who risk their very lives for America’s freedom and security. If you share this respect, please join us. We don’t care what you ride, what your political views are, or whether you’re a "hawk" or a "dove". It is not a requirement that you be a veteran. It doesn't matter where you’re from or what your income is. You don’t even have to ride. The only prerequisite is Respect. Our main mission is to attend the funeral services of fallen American heroes as invited guests of the family. Each mission we undertake has two basic objectives.

  1. Show our sincere respect for our fallen heroes, their families, and their communities.
  2. Shield the mourning family and friends from interruptions created by any protestor or group of protestors.

We accomplish the latter through strictly legal and non-violent means.

To those of you who are currently serving and fighting for the freedoms of others, at home and abroad, please know that we are backing you. We honor and support you with every mission we carry out, and we are praying for a safe return home for all.

Mark Hancock, a photo journalist, has some impressive coverage of the Patriot Guard Riders on his blog.

My eyes weren't dry after these two guys rode away with Texas and U.S. flags flying.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Harley in the Heights

Ken Beckmann and his 1994 custom Harley

Everyone knows that in the Houston Heights there are more interesting people per square yard than in any other neighborhood. And there is just something about a quiet guy on a Harley. Tall Husband and I were having breakfast at Dry Creek Cafe in the Heights when we heard the familiar potato-potato-potato sound of a Harley engine, then saw Ken walk in. As I once rode passenger on a Harley from Houston to California and back, I just can't resist eliciting another Harley rider's stories. So I struck up a conversation. It turns out that Ken was born in Copenhagen, Denmark and emigrated to the United States with his parents when he was a child and that his wife rides a "scooter." We hope to meet up with her some Saturday at Dry Creek.

I didn't mention this to Ken but I no longer ride a bike. After a dramatic spill with the Harley on a rainslick, cobblestone hill in San Francisco, I lost my nerve. Besides, mature guys look cool on a bike but somehow we grandmas don't effect an equivalent image. Ah but I have memories and can live vicariously whenever I run into a Ken.

All the Right Stuff!

(Ken is an intelligent man and plans to remain that way: he wears a helmet when he rides. As a therapist who has had numerous patients who rode without helmets, I cringe when I see someone without appropriate head gear.)

Click on photos to enlarge.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Carter & Cooley Delicatessen

Early morning before opening

In 1989, Neil Sackheim and Randy Pace bought the old 1921 Simon Lewis building on West 19th Street in the historic Houston Heights and began its restoration, then opened the best deli around. They named their deli Carter & Cooley Delicatessen in honor of the founders of the Houston Heights, Oscar Martin Carter (1842-1928) and Daniel Denton Cooley (1850-1933).

This Community Improvement Award from the Houston Heights Association is well deserved. The restoration has been faithful to the history and spirit of the old building and has been executed with exceptional skill and care. There is quality in every aspect of this restoration, from the reproduction tin ceiling, to the period ceiling fans, to the color selections and the restored transom windows. You can tell at a glance, this is an affair of passion; passion for historic architecture and for great food; all done to perfection.

This reproduction light fixture was chosen for its resemblance to the fixture that originally hung in the old building when it was a drugstore.

Note the beautiful tin ceilings and reproduction ceiling fans. The pendant lights behind the counter also add to the nostalgia.

Neil related that the wall clock is a circa 1940 piece that originally had another company's name on it and was redone with the Carter & Cooley Co. logo.

According to Neil, many of the antiques in Carter & Cooley have been slowly and carefully collected. He points out that Carter & Cooley's character has evolved over time, unlike a fast-food franchise.

For those of you who aren't from Texas, that "Blue Bell" sign etched on the glass means they have the best store-bought ice cream in Texas at their deli. Tall Husband and I resisted but only because we had just eaten huge sandwiches of hot corned beef on rye.

Did I mention that the bread and desserts are wonderful at Carter & Cooley?

Carter & Cooley has the best collection of Houston Heights historic photos. Perusing the gallery is a favorite activity for everyone. Love this place!

One last look at that wonderful tin ceiling and the transom windows before we head back to The Bunny Bungalow.

Click on photos to enlarge.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Heights Theater: Update

Posted by Picasa
Upper left: "Cinema Houston;" Upper right: "Houston Deco;" Lower right: Heights Theater featured in "Houston Deco;" Lower left: my recent shot of the old marquee and sign.

When we were shopping at the Highland Village Pottery Barn, Tall Husband spotted Beverly Berry, the Super Realtor who is handling the sale of the Heights Theater. Beverly told us that the old theater's marquee, doors and sign are "grandfathered in" so cannot be altered. To our ears, that's great news. She did say the restrooms are original and will have to be made accessible plus other upgrades. She is "working out parking" for the old theater. She went on to say that many people have told her they would love a restaurant there. We talked about how that area's being dry has not affected the business of the existing restaurants in the neighborhood (members can buy wine at some establishments and BYOW to others).

Beverly also mentioned a book that includes the history of the Heights Theater, "Cinema Houston: from Nickelodeon to Megaplex," by David Welling (copyright 2007.) We jumped into the Old Bemer and headed directly to Borders Books on West Alabama @ Kirby to buy the book. We also found another book, "Houston Deco: Modernistic Architecture of the Texas Coast," by Jim Parsons (copyright 2008.) "Houston Deco" also features the Heights Theater. Both books will indulge your nostalgia, especially if you are a Houstonian or a lover of historic architecture.

Contact Beverly Berry @ 713.302.6999 for further information.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Venus in the Sky

Photo by Annie of The Bunny Bungalow
Posted by Picasa

Can you guess where in the world this is? Photo was taken in the early morning, Saturday, August 23, 2008.

Clue: Her hair looks fantastic!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Blogger's Muse


Have a magical weekend!
Here's my little lop-eared Blogger's Muse at The Bunny Bungalow, a gift from Tall Husband. His name is Floppy. Everyone can use a muse, especially one that is shared with visiting children, both young and old.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dorothy Parker

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Dorothy Parker
August 22, 1893-June 7, 1967

Let's remember Dorothy Parker, author, poet, critic and screenwriter.

Ms. Parker, we "pardon your dust."

My daughter has more than once referred to me as "your generation's Dorothy Parker." Oh how I wish:

How I wish my wit and tongue were sharper
More like those of Dorothy Parker

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tick-Tock: the Heart of the House

The pendulum of a German Arts & Crafts wall clock at The Bunny Bungalow
Posted by Picasa

An old pendulum clock in the house is like a heartbeat: the sound of its tick-tock has a comforting rhythm; counting its chimes has a calming effect. It's predictable and reassuring unlike many events in our daily lives. It's as soothing as a mother's heartbeat is to her own baby.

Note: The R & A on the pendulum are generally thought to stand for "retard" and "advance," as the nut beneath these letters is used to adjust the movement so the clock keeps the correct time. The first pendulum clock was designed and built by a Dutch scientist, Christiaan Huygens, in 1656.

Also Note: Tall Husband had to take the mechanism apart and repair our clock, though we had been assured when we purchased it that it was in good working order. He insists that it was not a clock but rather a "clock kit." It now keeps perfect time. Our bungalow has a healthy heartbeat.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Queen's Nipple

Judith by Valentin de Boulogne, 1628 CE
Image courtesy of Museum Syndicate

During our marriage, Tall Husband and I have discovered that we have previously, on numerous occasions, crossed paths . Each discovery of a missed encounter gives us a strange feeling; a feeling that we, tragically, may never have met. So when he recently asked, out of the blue, if I remembered the Queen's nipple, I should not have been so deeply stunned.

"Do you remember when we were at the Renaissance Festival and the King and Queen of the festival were leading the procession and how the Queen's nipple was poking out, above the plunging neckline of her costume?" he asked.

"I quite remember the Queen's nipple and how the crowd cheered at the sight, but we have never been to the Renaissance Festival together."

An expression of confusion and disbelief came over his face. "You're right, we have never gone there together. But if you remember the nipple, we were there at the same time." Then, "Just a minute! Which nipple was it?"

"It was her left nipple, " I answered.

"That's correct. And where were you standing," he asked.

"Near the gate, to her left. And you?"

"Near the gate and to her right," he answered.

With that, we both realized we had been standing a mere glance away from one another those many years ago; each unaware of the other; each with someone else.

Life is so strange and tenuous. And sometimes magical.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Instant Stucco Repair (Geek Style)

Tall Husband and I head toward a favorite electronics store to buy some more gigabytes.

He is driving my old Bemer and as usual finds a parking spot near the front door. But wait; what is that small, black thing to the right of that palm tree?

On closer inspection, we see that someone has "repaired" a crack in the stucco with electrical tape!

The irony makes us giddy. We play the game of "what if..." as we shop: "What if this were a grocery store; what would they have used to repair the crack? Frozen pie dough;" "A dental clinic? The work would be perfect but the building owner would have to take out a second mortgage to pay for the repair;" and so on.

Note: The electrical tape was obviously not a visual cue for the repair crew, as other cracks in the stucco were not likewise marked.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Behind the Garden Gate

There is always fresh drama to delight your senses when you enter Behind the Garden Gate, a boutique in historic Houston Heights that offers international antiques and original floral designs.

Everywhere your glance takes you in this magical shop, you discover evidence of Felix Hernandez' talent for mixing texture, color, light and fragrance to achieve a primitive yet chic atmosphere.

Preserved flowers on an antique metal washstand.

An antique bed with antique Mexican measuring boxes, repurposed to display books and an apple.

Soft lighting, the fragrance of flowers and a romantic bed...

Mystery at the foot of the bed: what does that old trunk hold?

Step back, take it all in and imagine!

A contemplative corner with pale green walls.

A corner of Felix Hernandez' long work table, where he creates floral arrangements for clients.

Small floral designs that utilize pale preserved roses.

Another quiet corner

A sultry moment

Another preserved arrangement.

Some of the antique garden furniture to be found at Behind the Garden Gate

Old French terracotta pots and a garden bench with the perfect patina

Simple tablescapes on primitive tables

The patina of age on garden furniture: enough to melt your heart!

The perfect summer wreath

A fresh arrangement awaiting a client.

An antique Korean mouse of bronze (He's not for sale, as he lives at the shop.)

Old zinc with fragile white flowers: perfect!

Country simplicity

French lavender for sweet nostalgia

Perfect for giving a country-feel to a city kitchen

To bring out the child in any of us

An antique industrial grinder is elevated to art.

An old Boston rocker and other antique pieces exude character.

Can't you just imagine having a candlelight dinner with friends here?

A client's own container filled with an arrangement of exotic flowers, which she will give as a wedding gift to her new husband. What an original, wonderful gift.

Felix Hernandez, shop owner, working his magic.

Just a short walk from The Bunny Bungalow, in historic Houston Heights, is Beyond the Garden Gate, a shop where Felix Hernandez mixes international antiques with flowers to create enchantment. A gentle warning: you may leave his shop feeling as though you have succumbed to some supernatural power. You have! You see, Felix can cast wonderful spells.

Behind the Garden Gate: Antiques, Garden Decor, Dried Florals, Weddings
355 West 19th Street
Houston, Texas 77008

(Click on any photograph to enlarge.)