Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

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Styling is by Becki van der Oord of Installations Antiques, Houston Heights. Photo by Annie.

Here's looking at you, Babe and wishing you a safe and fun Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bag Lady

Oh, merci, Tall Husband!

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These bags are only a small sample of my collection. I hang the surplus neatly in a closet.

My worst fear has come true...I'm a bag lady! I cannot throw away a bag. And why should I? Some of the best designers in the world design bags for big names in the luxury goods industry. Even my paper grocery bags are wonderful and I use them to schlep things between houses, preferring them to a suitcase. A Tiffany's bag is great to carry lunch in. A Cartier bag lends panache to a door knob. The tiny Chanel bag holds my pencils or a small jar of fresh flowers on my desk. I love bags!

Are you a bag person too?

To learn about better bags for a better planet go to

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ivory Tower

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The old Oriental Textile Mill's tower and smokestack in the Houston Heights

Towers have always fascinated me. Some how, I've often lived near one; from the time I was a young teenager, where I spent my summers in an old tower, reading my favorite writers, to a tower near my home in a small village in Germany. Now there is another tower in my life: A short walk from The Bunny Bungalow in the Houston Heights there is this 114-year-old magnificent tower that once overlooked a mattress factory, then the Oriental Textile Mill moved into its building. Today, the old building is home to three upscale businesses: Textile, a restaurant; Krafts'men, a wholesale bakery and Installations Antiques; but the tower is vacant.

On all four sides of the tower are ornate clocks and, as you can see in the photo, there is also a bell at the very top. I have yet to visit the tower but I have fantasies. The neighbors could always use a clock with the correct time, plus the sound of a distant bell would be welcome, I'm sure. When I'm not winding the clocks or ringing the bell, wouldn't that tower be an inspiring place from which to blog?

Note: This building is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Splash of White

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Click on Photograph to enlarge.

My favorite splash of color around the house is white. It's so serene, almost magical. What's your favorite?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Next Project

Images from Country Living Magazine's Shop
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Finally! I found a stencil that Tall Husband and I both love. It's called Twigs & Berries from Country Living Magazine's on-line shop. The stencil will replace the wallpaper border in the dining room of The Bunny Bungalow. The border went well with the style of the previous owner's furniture and color scheme but is too ornate for our taste and style. I'll do some before and after photos to let you know how the project goes. I also ordered stencil creme in Mother Earth. Doesn't that sound warm and cozy?

I owe a big "thanks" to Kelley over at Home in the Heights for this find: she did a posting on a Texas Hill Country home with a link to Country Living Magazine, which took me to their site and to their shop. So of course, I subscribed to Country Living and bought all the Caromal Colours stencils and supplies I'll need for this project. Thanks, Kelley; we've been searching for two years for the right solution to the dining room border. Tall Husband is hoping it won't take me another two years to complete the project!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Wow Weekend

Lavender arrangement by floral designer Felix Hernandez of Behind the Garden Gate, Houston
Felix knows all about the wow factor.
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My twelve-going-on-twenty-one twin granddaughters searched for things with that wow factor this weekend. It's so invigorating and interesting seeing the world through the eyes of youth.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rocks in My Heart

This sweet little book, Everybody Needs a Rock, was in my Cheerios this morning. A kindred soul has found her way to me. Ms. Byrd Baylor, assisted by the charming drawings of Peter Parnall, sets out the rules for choosing a rock. She clearly knows that rocks are really magic and that they must feel just right in one's hand. Which brings me to some of my favorite rocks. (Click on each photo to enlarge and read notations.)

One must have old, interesting containers for rocks. (See the dark rusty thing above, it's not a rock; it is the rusted trigger from a hand gun, found in my backyard. I wonder about the story behind that!)

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The rocks that have been carved into hearts are sweet Valentine gifts from Tall Husband. (Oh, I know that the little French perfume bottle isn't a rock but it feels great in the hand. Besides, it has sentimental value: it belonged to my daughter when she was a student in Paris. If I remove the cap, I can inhale Misha's wild and heady girlhood.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Brodsky in My Head

Joseph Brodsky, Nobel Prize for Literature, October 22, 1987

Signed copy of "Less Than One: Selected Essays" by Joseph Brodsky

Joseph Brodsky's Obituary
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For some unknown reason Joseph Brodsky, the Russian born, exiled writer and poet, has been in my head since yesterday, like a stubborn tune that will not go away. I Googled him last evening and learned that he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature twenty-one years ago yesterday, "for an all-embracing authorship, imbued with clarity of thought and poetic intensity."

I pull out an old book which he signed for me years ago and am surprised to find that I had tucked into it a newspaper clipping of his passing. I had forgotten. Now I recall finding his obituary more than a decade ago and drawing a small heart next to his name.

Why a heart? Because he once drew a heart for my Misha. You see, he was at Rice University in Houston for a reading and book signing. Misha, who has been in love with all things Russian since she saw "Doctor Zhivago" as a child, invited me to go with her to meet Brodsky.

Misha has not always been Misha. She hates for me to tell people this, but she was born Cynthia Ann. When she was in college she decided to take up ballet but being so petite, her classmates nicknamed her Misha, a name she legally adopted, much to her family's shock.

There we stood, Misha chatting in Russian with Brodsky. Then he opened her copy of his book and asked for whom he should sign his book, "A Part of Speech." "Misha," my daughter responded.

"And who is Misha?" he asked.

"I am Misha," she said.

[I must point out here that to a Russian, Misha is a male name. It is not cute or chic to name a female Misha. It's like naming her Irvin or Harry or Stanley.]

So naturally, an utterly astonished Brodsky spun toward me, her mother, and asked rather sternly, "How come!?"

I was defenseless; the fact that I was innocent did not mitigate the assumption of guilt. My daughter gave me a stern look, as she did when I was not to reveal her birth name, which was never.

He signed her book "To Misha..." and drew a little heart next to Misha. In my book, he wrote "For Misha's Mother..." sans heart.

So, Joseph Brodsky, you are welcome to my head... and my heart.

Note: Later, when Misha went to Russia to study, the Russians refused to call her Misha. They gave her a proper female name, which is now her legal name. To her family, she remains Misha. You get only one name change in this family. Misha lives in Moscow with her husband and children where she can look out of her apartment window and see Red Square, as she writes her books at a desk that once belonged to Stalin.

In Spain last year, I returned Brodsky's book, with the little heart in it, to Misha. Now his book, "A Part of Speech," resides on the desk of Stalin in Moscow.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Edith Head

Actress Susan Claassen as Edith Head in A Conversation With Edith Head.
Photo Credit: Tim Fuller
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Edith Head (October 28, 1897-October 24, 1981), the famous American costume designer and winner of eight Academy Awards, was a tremendous influence on fashion when I was growing up. Her designs set worldwide trends, evident even in the designs from famous French houses. I recall Dior designs looking so like Edith Head's movie costumes, especially his suits. So you can imagine the sweet nostalgia I felt when I read Everett Evans' interview with Miss Head (Getting Inside Her Head.) Evans actually interviewed actress Susan Claassen who is appearing in A Conversation With Edith Head at Theater LaB Houston. But Claassen is Edith Head. As I look at the photo above, I am not sure if it's actress or designer. As Evans stated in his article, "Susan Claassen has been channeling Head..." (O.K., Annie, don't touch that one!)

Which reminds me of the best graffito I've ever read. It was neatly written on the wall of the first-class lavatory on a flight from Portland, Oregon to Houston, Texas: "Edith Head gives great wardrobe."

Now off to score some tickets!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Brother's Dress

You may remember the first dress (above) which I found at a local antique shop here in the Houston Heights.

Tall Husband and I found another little vintage baby dress this past weekend while browsing at Adkins Antiques. The moment I touched it, an ache of nameless nostalgia swept over me. I took the small treasure back to our bungalow and gently removed spots and hand washed it before ironing. As you can see, this baby dress is less frilly, a bit more tailored than the first one.

When I was washing this tiny dress, my younger brother Jerry popped into my head. I vividly remembered him as a toddler, asking our mother, "What will I be when I grow up?"

"You will be you," she answered.

"Will I be a boy or a girl?"

"You will be a boy. Once a boy, always a boy."

He did not look convinced. In fact he was quiet for the remainder of the day but that night as we were being tucked into our beds he blurted, "I was a girl! Will I be a boy or a girl when I'm big?"

"You were never a girl. Go to sleep."

A couple of days later we were looking at the family photo album. When I turned a page, Jerry became excited, "See, I was a girl!" he said, pointing to a photograph of himself as an infant. Sure enough, there he was in a small white dress.

Let me take a moment to explain that we were possibly the last generation of children in which it was common for both genders to wear dresses as infants. I remember Jerry's dresses appeared less frilly than mine in those photos; photos that have long since disappeared.

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So, I shall pretend that this is my brother's dress and smile each time I recall his first attempts to decipher life.

Addendum: Jerry died young, of cancer, leaving behind three small daughters and a wife, as well as parents, a brother and three sisters. But he left us with many sweet memories. Jerry, thank you for the memory of your baby dress.
Jerry as a Toddler

Monday, October 20, 2008

I've Been Tagged!

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My fellow Native Texan, Tara, at Design on Post has tagged me times two and challenged me.

Tag #1:

"Post the 6th picture in your 6th folder."

So that explains the horrible photo above, taken through the shower door. As to why there are bunnies in the shower: I bought these two bunnies a couple of years ago and put them in the shower that same evening to surprise Tall Husband. They actually startled the heck out of him when he headed for the shower. Such language, Tall Husband!

Tag #2:

"Grab the nearest book.Open the book to page 56. Find the fifth sentence. Post the text of the next two to five sentences in your blog along with these instructions. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST. Tag five other people to do the same."

I have just returned from the bookstore, so the nearest book is the one I purchased from the bargain table: "The 2,548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said." Selected and compiled by Robert Byrne. And wouldn't you know it; the pages aren't numbered so I had to count them. Here are the sentences:

"A piano is a piano is a piano. Gertrude Steinway, Unknown"

"A manuscript, like a fetus, is never improved by showing it to somebody before it is completed. Unknown"

"Every journalist has a novel in him, which is an excellent place for it. Russell Lynes"

Now, for the matter of that challenge. Post some “sparklies” (bright spots in life in the midst of all the “bad news” out there):

  1. Tall Son and family are arriving for a visit this Friday.
  2. Calvin Klein Home's is unveiling its first ever furniture collection (cool modern) in January.
  3. Darryl Carter has designed a furniture collection (cool twist on traditional) for Thomasville. He's a great designer and author of "The New Traditional." He edits his work down to the absolute ethereal essentials.
  4. Yes, I too am thankful gasoline prices are decreasing. OPEC and other speculators always underestimate the Great American ability to "cut back," to force prices down. Just wait till they suffer from the new technologies that are coming down the pike.
  5. Tall Husband made me laugh out loud four times today.
  6. We went to an interesting party this weekend, where we saw old friends and met new ones.
So, Tara, thanks for the two tags and the challenge. It's been great fun! Anyone who reads this and chooses to respond, consider yourself tagged and challenged.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Update on "Warning this is Not a Pretty Site"

This is an update on the response to Warning:This is Not a Pretty Site: several local blogs picked up and posted the story with my photos; formal complaints were filed with the Neighborhood Protection Corps (NPC) and the Houston Police Department; neighbors stepped up their civic action and as you can see (above) the City of Houston NPC issued a Violation Notice.

The grass has been cut.

The piles of debris and garbage have been removed from the rear of the property.

However, the garbage and debris were merely consolidated into a large pile on the North side of the property.

The buildings are still unsecured. Neighbors report that vagrants are still seen entering and leaving the property. One parent reported that inside one of the houses, a chair is situated so that whoever is seated in that chair has a view of her backyard where her children play. Also she noted that a pornographic magazine was next to the chair. I think this should concern any parent.

A reliable City source states that the owner and contractor have "failed to bring their permits to code standards and as a result nine citations were issued." This source further stated that "the process for abatement to tear these locations down has begun."

Note: These photos were taken this morning, October 19, 2008.

In Houston, Texas: to report a dangerous building, like these above, call 311 or click here: Neighborhood Protection Corps for on-line reporting.
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Friday, October 17, 2008

Hip in the Heights

A judicious shot of red to contrast with old woods, metals, glass and creamy textures is so hip.

Antique, primitive and vintage mingle: so hip.

Aaron Rambo of Found, so hip: his home was recently featured in the new Paper City book, Domestic Art: Curated Interiors. In the background is Mary Daly of Fabulous Flea, a place to find fabulous French antiques...Très branche (hip.)

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These vignettes feel like warm cream with hits of ancient metal; also hip.

Last night, Tall Husband and I jumped into his little Z-4 Bemer and headed out to learn what makes Houston Heights hip. So naturally, we pulled up to ground zero of all things cool and hip, a party at Installations Antiques, Jur and Becki van der Oord's place.

When you walk into this place, you know you're at the hub of all things hip. How did this occur? The Heights was once known as a hippie haven. One woman told us, "Oh, we're still hippies, we just have more money and taste now." As she walked away, I could still see the flower child in the way she carried herself.

We mingled and moved in and out of conversations. We let the atmosphere envelop us. The gentle fragrance of scented candles intoxicated us, as did the conversations. Then it hit me: The Heights is so hip because it draws people to it who are not into being hip; they just hold on to what is old and dear from the past: friends, things, ideas; then add to that mix only what makes sense.

Note: Carolina Eclectic of the hip eponymous blog was also at this party. So good to see you again, Carolina!

Also Note: To capture the atmosphere of the soft lighting, to include candle light, camera shots were done sans flash.
Working without a flash is also less startling to party goers.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Autumn Fun at The Bunny Bungalow

Tall Husband deftly carves his pumpkin but refuses to carve mine.

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I survive the gooey mess and carve a "twin" to his pumpkin.

It's that time of year again...autumn. A time when we (in Houston) hope that Halloween will be cool so that we will not swelter in our costumes. Though, I think that Tall Husband secretly hopes for hot weather, as he hates wearing costumes. And his Tigger costume is really warm. So is my Pooh costume but I love wearing it and having little children smile and squeal when they see me as Pooh.

One year when our twin granddaughters, Sofia and Gabi, were young, we bought the Tigger and Pooh costumes. We drove to their home and blended in with the trick-or-treat crowd. When we rang their doorbell they appeared in their princess costumes and gave us candy.

"You can come in now, Tito and Tita," Sofia said as we started to walk away.

"How did you know it was us?" we asked.

"Pooh doesn't carry a Ralph Lauren purse, Tita!" Gabi answered.