Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas, Houston

Six pairs of massive arches, mirror finish.  Each set 700 feet apart, like a promenade down Post Oak.  In 1995, this became more than just the Galleria--as if that wasn't enough.  It became "Uptown Houston."  New, matching street lights and traffic signals.  Giant, circular "gateway rings" hovering at the bigger intersections, suspended 55 feet in the air.  

Modern.  Brash.  And adorned for Christmas. Stainless steel, frankincense and myrrh.

Looking down Post Oak, with Neiman Marcus and Transco in the background.

Merry Christmas, Houston.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

River Oaks Christmas Lights: There Goes the Neighborhood

Neighborhoods with Christmas decorations have long attracted traffic jams, whether suburb, small town, or big city.  As a child, we'd jump in the car with my grandmother and drive all around town to look at the Christmas lights.  We'd even cruise the country roads, just to see who decked the halls.  Some neighborhoods revel in Christmas decor--with themes and all.  When I was off at university, my parents' neighborhood passed out a giant wooden sign for each home owner to decorate as a Christmas card.  And no, my mom wouldn't let my dad spray paint "Bah humbug" across it, graffitti-style (though the snarky amongst us begged her please).  Heck, I seem to recall the Chronicle publishing articles suggesting good light-viewing neighborhoods.  (And here's this year's Houston Press Top Five.)  I'm just not surprised to see the stream of SUVs and cars, bumper-to-bumper, ooo-ing and aahhh-ing over the Christmas lights in River Oaks.  I do love the lights, especially those wrapped roots-to-tips up impossibly tall and gnarled oaks.  Here's my favorite:

Yes, I know it's not an artful picture, but I felt successful just snapping one, not-very-blurry picture that excludes on-coming traffic.  But still.  You have to draw the line somewhere.  Families on bikes.  Tour buses.  Horse-drawn carriages.  I think I'm okay with those . . . creative, gets cars off the road.  But where I draw the line?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I feel a train a coming, it's coming round the bend.

Tucked away in a quiet pocket, this Mission/Prairie-style, 129-bed hospital was built in 1910 for the employees of the Southern Pacific Railroad in Texas and Louisiana.   Its name, shockingly, was the Southern Pacific Hospital.  The 23,000 employees in these two states got managed care, didn't they?  A stipend for the Southern Pacific Hospitals was deducted from their paychecks.  So long as you didn't have a contagious or venereal disease and were in good standing at work, you could come for care.

Friday, December 7, 2012

I'll Save You, Donne Di Domani!

My dear, dear Donne Di Domani sauce. . . I know and I'm ever so humbly sorry. But it's all okay now.  You're safe.

I thought you were protected.  After all, had I not crowed here, on the pages of Texqueim, of my triumph in finally meeting you, in person?  Of my plans to savor you with only the S-worthy?  I swear, I proclaimed my love of you near and far, even calling long distance to my mother, herself a veteran of so many years of the Nutcracker Market with nary a single sighting of you.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Blessed be those who recycle.

Old Sixth Ward wanderings, March 2012.

MECA, 1900 Kane, in the old Dow School, Sixth Ward.  Built in 1912 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the school is currently undergoing restoration through MECA’s Dow School Rehabilitation Project; Phase I exterior restoration was completed in 2010.

La Virgen de las Cans.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


"Tolerance" by Jaume Plensa, 2011.
Seven statues, each ten feet high, made of metal alphabet, seated along Buffalo Bayou.  Above, taken March 4, 2012 on a bicycle adventure.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Your move. No, after you, I insist.

"Mirror" by Jaume Plensa, 2011 at Rice University, Central Quad.  Comprised of the letters from eight alphabets, Chinese, Latin, Russian, Arabic, Greek, Japanese, Hindi, Hebrew.  Gift of Bill and Stephanie Sick.  Photo taken February 2012.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Where the rooster crows, there is a village.

Circle of Animals, by Ai Weiwei.  10-foot tall, 1000 pound Chinese Zodiac heads, Hermann Park, March 2012.

So sayeth the chronicle.  Check out the artist here and here. Ai Weiwei is a prolific artist and ballsy social activist in China.

Houston was one of eleven locations world-wide to display this exhibit. Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads is a recreation (on a grand scale) of Chinese zodiac sculptures that were once part of a remarkable fountain at the Yuanming Yuan palace outside Beijing in the 1700s.  The heads of the fountain sculptures spouted water to mark the time.  In 1860, British and French troops raided the palace and looted it.  To date, only seven of the original heads have surfaced.

Which sign are you?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Crafty much?

There's a pocket park, just behind Main and nearby the long ribbon of concrete that's the Southwest Free-for-All.  Belonging to the Houston Center for Contemporary Crafts, the Craft Garden started in 2003 as a collaboration among artists and gardeners.  Divided into sections for plants to make baskets, textiles, dyes, and papers, it's part and parcel of the craft process. After a drought year and a subsequent hot summer, it's not looking too bad.   Plus, the fountain, shade, and deck are a welcome respite in any slog between Med Center/Hermann Park and Downtown. 

Craft Garden
Wearing greenery befitting a less-arid summer.
It's free to visit here.  Rosedale at Travis, in the Museum District.

Donne Di Domani at the Nutcracker Market

The Nutcracker Market is the Houston Ballet's annual fete a fundraiser.  Four days, 700 volunteers, 300+vendors, and 85,000 104,000 motivated shoppers.  It raises $2.5 million each year for the ballet and $13 $17.7+ mil for those hyper-busy vendors.  It's been a Houston tradition since 1980.

The star of the market is undeniably the Donne di Domani marinara.  How many bottled spaghetti sauces are dubbed a wildly frisky gem by a well-known food critic?  This is near-mystical spaghetti sauce, folks.  Mystical and a mystery--at least to me, that is.  The sauce sells out pronto!  Ladies RUN to the booth as soon as the doors open, and a long line forms quickly.  It sells out on the first day, sometimes by noon.  In fourteen years, I've never once even seen the sauce.  That is, until today.  

Legend, yes, but mystery no more:

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Tucked behind this facade used to be a dusty little lighting shop whose specialty was antique and vintage fixtures.  Cue the girl with an old porch light in hand, just  <ahem> a few years back, who opened the door.  Instead of the overhead array of lights rescued from Montrose-area teardowns and re-do's was a view much more inviting.  I set down the porch light and sat down at the bar.

Boheme Cafe and Wine Bar.  That's a mouthful, and it doesn't seem that anyone calls it more than boheme.  But no need to burnish the name.  It's fair to say there's not a bad seat in the house or garden or patio.  But I most often return to the warmth of the wood and stone bar--the best vantage to take it all in.  The old brick walls, antique lights (don't think they're hold-overs from the shop but I'm going to pretend they are), changing art, indie-vibe waiters and barkeep, this place glows.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Seal Ya Later

Because it's just what we do.  Socially relevant, no?   Rocket Fizz, in the Village, Houston, TX.