Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Holiday Remembered

Everyone helped to prepare the Thanksgiving table. The aroma of Saara's wonderful food filled the house. Though Saara is not originally from the United States, she prepared the traditional dinner for us; complete with pecan pie but with a zing of fresh orange.

Posted by Picasa
A future blogger recorded the event. This is our granddaughter, Andrea Gabriela, who is, as her Grandmother Mary says, "twelve going on thirty." I would show you the other twin, Sofia, but why? They are identical, so just imagine this girl with upswept hair and the same dress in a different blue.

We all wished that the other three grandchildren and their parents from Moscow, Russia could have been there. Perhaps another holiday!

My ex-husband and his wife Mary were there also. I had the opportunity to thank Mary again for always being the other mom for my children. Over the years, via telephone and mail, she and I have made the "big decisions" in the lives of our children when they were young.

I know from experience: it isn't easy being a stepparent but Mary and my Tall Husband have done it with tolerance, skill, grace and love. And they are still there when our grownup children need a hand. So a special Thanksgiving to you both.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Posted by Picasa

You are asking, "What the hell are those!?" These are Thanksgiving treasures from The Closet, a place I put really tasteless things given to me by people I love. When I was a military wife, I could tell family things like, "Oh, I'm so heartbroken but the wonderful elephant lamp you gave us got shattered in the last move." Now we have The Closet where I stash such items, bringing them out just before the giver arrives for a visit.

My twin granddaughters made these plaster turkeys for Thanksgiving when they were toddlers. Andrea (Gabi) made the one on the left and Sofia made the one on the right. I must say, I'm thankful that maturity has brought the girls an eye for finer things.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Andy Warhol: Sometimes Soup is Just Soup

Posted by Picasa

Are you as amazed as I that, in our culture, individuals with little talent can become famous and even filthy rich? Oh, I know, you Warholians out there will spit at me and call me sacrilegious, but the man was no artist. If he had talent it was for using available technology to produce what would pass for Pop Art; for having a neurotic life played out with other neurotics; and for exploiting the media.

It's not really Andy's fault. He's just an example of the larger cultural problem. We all buy poorly written books; plunk down good money to watch wretched movies; hang on our walls what somebody else calls art; believe everything on television; eat at restaurants where the food and service are mediocre, all because we let the media tell us what to think and how to live. We seem incapable of knowing the difference between audacity and talent. Plus, we are all so soaked in the media that our own lives are no longer real to us.

So what to do? Think! Think for ourselves. If it's really self help why do we need famous people to tell us what and how to do it?

Additional Reading: "Box Pop;" by Morgan Falconer; The World of Interiors; December 2008 issue; This magazine article reports on Warhol's 600 time capsules, i.e., boxes filled with the 'flotsam and jetsam of his daily life.'

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Posted by Picasa
The image is courtesy of The Gutenberg Project.

As this is the season for being thankful and expressing gratitude, I have a true story of gratitude that always makes me smile when I remember it. I shall begin the story as one of my grandsons always began his when he was three or four years of age:

One piece of time many year ago, our entire family was camping on the Colorado River in Texas. As we lay under the moonlit trees on our camp cots that first night, the pitiful crying of a small lamb kept us awake.

The next morning, Uncle Glen, a Texas rancher, found the lamb that had kept us all from our sleep. One of her ears was so infected that it was swollen and draining. One could tell she was in great pain. Glen, whose father had been a veterinarian and trained Glen in taking care of animals, had his animal first-aid kit with him. After asking permission from the farmer who owned the lamb, Glen applied medication to her ear. The medicine gave instant relief and began the healing process. Glen applied the treatment several times throughout the day and said he would continue the treatment until the ear was healed. That night the lamb was quiet.

The next morning, I awoke before anyone else. I looked across the grove toward Glen's camp cot. There, next to his cot with her face near his, stood the little lamb quietly waiting for Glen to awaken.

The little creature followed Glen wherever he went. When he left with the men in his boat, she was watching from the shore. When he returned with his catch, she greeted him from the water's edge with her lamb sounds. She watched him eat and went down to the river to watch him bathe. She stood by his cot and watched him fall asleep each night and she was there to nuzzle his face in the morning when he awoke.
I had never seen so much love and gratitude expressed by a small creature.

What I learned from Uncle Glen and the lamb that summer was how to give and how to receive.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Goog 411

My friend Sharon sent us information about free 411 calls.

Home Tours

Posted by Picasa
Here are a few of Tall Husband's photos from the 2007 home tour in Chappell Hill, Texas.

Home tours expose the voyeur in most of us. Tall Husband and I love seeing how others live. We have been docents a number of times for such tours. And we appreciate the generosity of all the homeowners and the pride of place they share with us. If you are in the Houston area in December, you can find a number of interesting tours. Here are a few:

A great place to stay to see any of the above home tours is the Ant Street Inn in Brenham, Texas. Our favorite rooms are: the Charleston; all pink with a queen Rosewood bed with a bird and her nest carved into the headboard; and the Memphis room with it's 100- year-old freight elevator in the middle of the room (elevator is no longer operable.)

While you are in Brenham, Texas visit Beadboard UpCountry; you will think you are in Provence.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Strip in Season

Here we are at River Oaks Shopping Center, Houston, Texas. I love the thousands of tiny white lights that decorate the palm trees in this historic shopping strip this time of year.

The River Oaks Shopping Center, originally the River Oaks Community Center, was completed in 1937. The architects were Nunn & McGinty with Oliver C. Winston of Washington, D.C. This Art Deco shopping center, one of the oldest in the country, is a City of Houston Landmark. Shopping here is all the more wonderful, given the chic architecture.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Kennedy's Assassination: No Shots from the Grassy Knoll

Dallas, Texas, November 22, 1963.
President Kennedy with his wife, Jacqueline, and Texas Governor John Connally and Mrs. Connally in the presidential limousine shortly before his assassination. Photo Courtesy Wikipedia.
Posted by Picasa

There are a few dates for which I can remember my whereabouts: the births of my children; the assassinations of President Kennedy and Doctor Martin Luther King; and 9/11.

As it is the forty-fifth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, I recall that I was a young U.S. Army wife, living in Germany when the assassination was announced (we received a phone call from the duty officer on our post.) Upon learning this sad news, the entire post was placed on alert and dependents stood by for orders to evacuate; it was, after all, during the Cold War.

Fast forward to another U.S. Army post, Fort Benning, Georgia. I and other Army dependents are sitting on bleachers in the middle of a parade field awaiting the demonstration of the 1st Air Cavalry air assault helicopters. We are discussing among ourselves how ridiculous that noisy helicopters were to be used in battle. The enemy would know when and from which direction they were coming. Then we heard the choppers in the distance. People in the crowd looked in different directions, apparently guessing the direction from which the choppers would be arriving. They came in low, just above the trees, straight at us. I was one of those who was looking in the wrong direction, behind me.

Fast forward again to Texas: I have just arrived at my sister's house. I knock on the screen door, which is latched. My brother-in-law greets me. I try to peer inside but the sun is bright in my eyes and the house is dark. I talk with him through the screen for a few minutes and he tells my my sister will return shortly. I finally ask if he will let me in. He laughs saying, "I can't; I'm up here, on the roof."

The class I had come from was one in audiology in which the professor stated that humans are not adept at localizing sound on the vertical dimension (i.e., above or below). I hadn't believed him. I pointed out to him that we look up when we hear a plane. He responded that "looking up" when we hear an aircraft is a learned response. I had also had my hearing tested at our university clinic that day and learned that I had better than normal binaural hearing. But my brother-in-law and the choppers, which I suddenly recalled, gave me anecdotal evidence that at least one person with normal hearing did not know the direction from which those sounds, above her head, originated.

You will recall hearing that the assassin of JFK fired from the sixth floor of the book repository, well above the heads of the crowd. You may also recall that many witnesses who were interviewed stated that they heard gun shots from the grassy knoll. Given what I know of how poor we humans are at determining where a sound is coming from if it's not on the horizontal plane, and the fact that none of the "sound experts" took into consideration how humans localize sound, I believe that witnesses at Dealey Plaza were guessing about the origination of those gunshots. And according to reports I have read, their testimonies were given much weight. Just like the spectators of the 1st Air Cavalry, some witnesses at Dealey Plaza guessed right and some guessed wrong. I do not think shots were fired from the grassy knoll.

Friday, November 21, 2008

An Apple for the Teacher

Posted by Picasa

This is a Big Thank You to Chuck at The Real Blogger Status, I found my way to him via The Official Blogger Help Group, secondary to my having acute custom domain problems. Chuck is a Wise Blog Star at the Blogger Help Group. Thanks to Chuck's finding my DNS configuration problems and his advice on reconfiguration, my blog is again accessible via its custom domain name (i.e., without blogspot.) Thank you nitecruzr!

Thursday, November 20, 2008 DNS Forms

Posted by Picasa
Click on images to enlarge to see changes in red that are "working" for my blog.

These forms are placed here for "Blogger Help" purposes. If you are having the same problem I was having with a custom domain, see the changes in red that made my blog work again. After you make these DNS changes at, wait awhile then sign into your Google blogger dashboard and go to "settings" then to "publishing" then "custom domain" then "advanced settings" then enter your custom domain's name without the www. Attempt to check the www forwarding box when it appears. If you get an error message "Another blog..." as I did, your blog may work anyway, as mine did. And without always having to enter www in the address bar as I and all visitors had to do.

Object Lessons

A ndrée Putman, the famous French designer, was in Houston for a book signing. As she has been a great influence on my life, Tall Husband and I attended her event. Her lecture, delivered in English with her utterly charming French accent, was enchanting. I wish that I could recall it word for word. What I do recall her having said is that an object is not worth having if it does not have a story. We all know this but somehow having a given thrust out into the air, feels remarkable.

So the story behind the church pew: Howard, an Antique dealer, Tall Husband and I were sitting as we chatted and people watched at an art Gallery opening. I said to Howard, "If you ever run across a church pew, give me a call. He said they were difficult to find, as they were so popular. At that point, Tall Husband looked at us strangely, jumped to his feet and was off.

Howard asked, "Did we say something wrong?"

Within minutes, Tall Husband returned and demanded the family checkbook. I asked why and he answered, "Because I am buying you the pew you and Howard are sitting on, unless you would like one of the two in the next room; it's your choice." Howard and I were embarrassed that neither of us had noticed we were surrounded by pews and that we were even sitting on one.

Posted by Picasa
Tall Husband and I found this vintage office chair in an antique shop in the Houston Heights one weekend while we were out and about in his small convertible. The shop did not have delivery service so I rolled the chair down several blocks of sidewalk, to The Bunny Bungalow as Tall Husband drove slowly alongside giving me encouragement.

And here is the greatest part of the story: The pew and the chair, as well as an Arts & Craft plant stand (next to the pew in the photo), were in terrible condition. As a result we found two new friends, Robert and Nick, who lovingly rebuilt and refinished all three pieces. So every time we use these objects, we can remember their stories and our friends.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bungalow Heaven

This is one of the seventy-eight plus gray and white bungalows owned by the Menil foundation.

Another gray and white bungalow.

This bungalow is occupied by Da Camera.

In another bungalow is the Menil Bookstore.

The Menil Collection Museum in Houston, Texas. This gray and white, modern style building was designed by Pritzker-Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano who, with architect Richard Rogers, designed the Centre George Pompidou in Paris, France.

Here's another view of the Menil Collection Museum.

Posted by Picasa

Above is the Cy Twombly Gallery at the Menil Collection (i.e., just across the street from the Menil.) This building was also designed by Renzo Piano. The interior, which one is not allowed to photograph, is the real star of this Piano design: the roof of the building is designed to let in every ray of natural light and the ceiling of every room is of white canvas, which casts a luminescent glow. Magical!

In Houston, the fourth largest city in the United States, there are no zoning laws. An attempt to control neighborhood blight is through enforcement of deed restrictions. An historic designation on a building in this city doesn't stop the bulldozers; it only slows them. Therefore, it is rare to find a neighborhood that is esthetically and architecturally consistent, especially an old one. Not far from the downtown area is the neighborhood of Lancaster Place, a community of all gray and white 1920's and 1930's bungalows. Some of the bungalows are rented and some are used as offices. Among these charming, well conserved bungalows are thoughtfully designed buildings by world-class architects. Everything blends; there are no monster condos or McMansions. Also in the neighborhood are the Rothko Chapel and the Byzantine Fresco Chapel. This jewel of a neighborhood and world art hub is the result of years spent in thoughtful philanthropic planning by Dominique and Jean de Menil who bought the bungalows in 1960 and had them all painted gray with white trim. Some say that Dominique's choice of colors was inspired by a village in her native France. The French do have a way with grey!

Outside Links:
FindArticles - Obituary: Dominique de Menil
Independent, The (London), Feb 14, 1998, by Marguerite Johnston

Da Camera of Houston

The Menil Collection

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Wallpaper border

Posted by Picasa
Stencil Border

Here are the before and after shots of the border in the dining room at The Bunny Bungalow.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Posted by Picasa
The stencil is in place.
Let there be stenciling! I have begun to stencil the dining room border. I have a confession: I have never stenciled or stamped anything before; not even with a raw potato when I was a child. So I'm too nervous to post today. Get back to you later. If you don't find photos of after, don't ask.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Squirrel Away Another Great Weekend

Posted by Picasa
A squirrel met near The Menil Collection, Houston, this weekend. The little creature is so attentive because Tall Husband is speaking with him in squirrel talk. I wonder what they are saying.

Friday, November 14, 2008

As Time Goes By

Posted by Picasa

On the eve of their tenth birthday, my twin granddaughters were visiting. Sofia got uncharacteristically silly and loud. I asked, "Sofia, what are you doing?"

She answered, now being quite serious, "I'm being nine while I still can. I'm about to go into my double digits and that's scary."

I remember thinking,
Oh no, she's going to grow up to be Steven Wright, the comedian.

Now I find that he seems to be using her material. (Toward the end of the video, Steven says he was in therapy when he was nine because...)

Note: When I tested this embedded video, I noticed it did not "work" in my version of Windows Internet Explorer, i.e., the "black box." If this is the case for you, try Mozilla Firefox or SeaMonkey for viewing this strange video.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bungalow Project: Stencil Border

This week I'm working on removing the border in the The Bunny Bungalow's dining room, getting it ready for the new stencil that arrived last week.

As you know, there is always a "while you're at it," task that pops up. "While you're at it, you might as well sand and paint the scuffed chair rail, Honey."

The border came off easily; a bit too easily. There was a surprise: very chalky plaster that was not quite the surface I wanted to paint and then stencil. Exploration found that there is texture under the plaster. The stencil pattern will look fine over the texture according to the stencil instructions. So, after a telephone consultation with Tall Husband, the decision was to remove the plaster and expose the wall texture.

Posted by Picasa

Here's where the job stands now: most of the plaster is removed (notes to a previous wallpaper crew were found under the plaster: arrows and the word, border on each wall.) So today, I shall finish removing the plaster and cleaning up the colossal mess I made in this process. Then if the mood strikes me, I shall paint the wall above the chair rail. Next week the stenciling can begin. Notice, I said can. Stay tuned.

P.S. I'm having problems with my blog's custom domain/forwarding service that is causing tears and

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

French Score, Numéro 2

My Copy!
Vivre Côté Paris, second issue, finally arrived in Houston yesterday afternoon. Thanks to Issues Magazine Store, I have my copy of the new French publishing phenomenon. Issues will put your name on their list and when the magazine you requested arrives, they will actually call you.

This edition of Côté Paris reports on Karl Lagerfeld's show at the Grand Palais in Paris for the House of Chanel...

On designs for funky lofts...

And designs for offices, plus much more; including "Things Not to Miss on a Trip to Paris" in English. This second issue is as fantastic as the first. So if you live in Houston, Issues has a few more Vivre Côté Paris copies left.
Posted by Picasa

Issues Magazine Store
3425 South Shepherd Drive
Houston, Texas