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Category Archives: Houston

Way back when, on or about the occasion of my 45th birthday, one of my adopted brothers gave me one of those poured stone coasters for my coffee mug. Molded into the top was the fine slogan

If you haven’t grown up by age 40,
you don’t have to.

It seemed a good thought but the math was wrong, so, not seeing the trap, I looked at him and said “Brother, you DO realize I’m 45, right?”

That little sumbitch looked me right dead in the eye and said, just that quick, “Brother, you always WERE the slow one of the family.” Should’ve seen it coming. Maybe he was right.

* * * * *

I ran across that coaster on my desk the other day, underneath one of my favorite coffee mugs, which had suffered a broken handle and was waiting for me to make it right. Making things right has become more important to me in recent days, so while I got out the superglue and (successfully!) reattached the handle, I read that coaster again, and realized — I’m well past forty and I’ve been much too grown-up lately.

As it happens I covered model train shows and modellers off-and-on for the Chronicle, so when I saw a notice on Facebook I knew where I’d be on Saturday. Every year, on the third Saturday in February, the overaged seven-year-olds of the San Jacinto Model Railroad Club hold their annual model train expo/show/swap meet, since 2003 known as the Greater Houston Train Show, and since 2005, they’ve gathered at the Stafford Center, which is just a few miles southwest of my Sharpstown home base. So bright and noonish on Saturday, I checked that I had the six buck adult admission fee in my pocket and that the camera batteries were charged, and off I went. (I had some hopes that explaining that I had basically been stuck at 7 years old for half a century myself might get me in for the child’s price, but I didn’t really expect it to work, and it didn’t.). I might have had a chance but the club cheated… the wives were running the ticket table! They’re very nice ladies and all but they LIVE with eternal 7-year-olds, so… But I did get a couple of laughs for the idea, so it wasn’t a total waste.

* * * * *

My first stop, after collecting info on a couple of area railroad museums I’ll maybe do more with later, was the Layout Room where the members of the Houston “G” Gaugers had set up a large multi-track oval.

G-gauge is big for models; the cars are about 5″ tall and correspondingly long, a little over a foot or so.

And because track alignment on mobile layouts isn’t always all it could be, the cars will sometimes derail or jump the tracks and require an intervention.

Click the 2 to go to the next page. (There are 3 in all.)

One of the great things about Houston is that despite the miserable climate we have sizable groups of people from everywhere living here, and sometimes they throw parties. For everyone.

Yesterday, it was the Brazilian Women Foundation. (Their spelling, not mine.) They took over Avant Garden, a local bar and music venue, for the afternoon/evening and held a festival.

Fortunately for me, I know a few Brazilians on social media and one of them clued me in, early enough that I was able to get down there for a little bit.

Food, music, clothing, more food, pretty rocks, pretty jewelry, ladies’ lingerie… a little bit of everything.

Not sure what she was serving, but look at that dress…

Doris, Sergio and the Unknown Drummer.

Mobile Clothing Store, aka Fashion Truck…

Pao de mel is a Brazilian Honey bread made with some sort of dark flour, dark honey, a bunch of spices, and chocolate.

That silver platter in the middle of their table is a sample tray. It is, you will note, empty. There’s a reason. YUM. I got the next to last piece and I had to block someone else out to do that. (Sorry, friend, but I’m a reporter; this is for journalism.) If it’s not the best sweet bread I’ve ever had, it’s that close. These folks, Honey Honey, are out of Austin. They don’t seem to have a website but they are on FaceBook and email. (Just ask. They’re in my contact book for DAMN sure.)

“It’s a geode. This batch is mostly turning out white quartz, not purple amethyst, but they’ve all got crystals and they’re all turning out beautiful.”

Handmade Jewelry byGumi…

Gulmira Heyl is yet another Facebook website only artisan, but either way that’s beautiful work.

It looked to be a pretty good turnout, all in.

Okay, by now everyone knows what’s going on.

It’s … whatever the Saturday after Black Friday is, and as I rarely leave the cave on Black Friday unless I’m being paid to do so, I don’t have to recover from shopping or mayhem…

So while I’m not out buying things I don’t need at sale prices that generally aren’t all THAT good, I usually plant my happy butt in my computer chair to sort through and work up the (far too many) pictures from Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. (The curse of having digital cameras that let me shoot several hundreds or thousands of frames without stopping to reload is that I shoot hundreds or thousands of frames without stopping to think about HOW much work I’m making for myself later….)

Yup. I did it to myself again. I DID stop just short of a thousand frames this year, 900-odd, but it’s in my mind that the parade was a little shorter than usual and much more crowded, which made moving around harder.

Still, that leaves me, when all’s done, a pretty sizable gallery for you to ramble through and enjoy. So, oddly enough, I’m gonna shut up and let you go do just that.

So click on any of the pictures here…. (They all take you to the same link…)

Enjoy. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Between the heat and the neighbors starting the Holiday fireworks a couple of days early (and staying with them more or less continuously for 3 days…) I was pretty much unFourthed by the morning of the 3d. I decided that I’d much rather get dangerously dehydrated in the shade of a beautiful mansion with a handful of agreeably sober historians than in a big open field with twenty or fifty thousand rowdy drunks, so I went back to 1776 at Bayou Bend instead of hitting the big commercial festivals. (Yes, I know, it wasn’t BUILT then and this part of the country was still what God meant it to be – a yellow fever swamp. The Allen Brothers won’t be born for decades. Time Travel involves paradox. Deal with it.)

Yes, they’re carrying military weapons – but the Second Amendment is still a few years in the future and the NRA is a LONG way off yet.

The problem with musicians is they don’t know enough to come in out of the sun…

“Pay attention, you. This is important and there WILL be a test. Several of them, actually. And they’re not graded on a curve.”

“We hold these Truths to be Self-Evident: That All Men are Created Equal…”

Okay, we’re not there yet but at least some of us are still trying.

There was other stuff, games and crowds and music and cake and such, but … This was the important part. (Well, that and drinking ice water by the gallon trying not to die…)

I hung around for an hour or so after the reading, chatting with soldiers and musicians and even a couple of Tories (“That’s Loyal British Subjects to you, you traitorous b*stards…”) and in general melting slowly, and then headed home. I thought about going out later for fireworks shots but there were already enough things going boom two buildings north and I just wasn’t up for it, so I stayed in and drank more gallons of ice water. After a few years fireworks all start to look the same anyway.

(Late Edit: To the right of the top post is a box for you to sign up to receive email updates when we post here. ESPECIALLY if you’re coming here from a FaceBook link, I’d appreciate it if you’d use that. You won’t be sold or spammed, and when I leave Facebook (soon) we won’t completely lose touch. Thanks.)

Couple years ago, for reasons I don’t remember but that made sense then, I signed up for a Yelp! account. Last night I was skimming one of their “latest and greatest” email summaries when my writing partner sent me a message that we needed to get together today. Okay, I thought, this place looks interesting… Let Us Go Explore, because we’re writers and that’s what writers do, right?

The barista is Heather. She rocks.

So we did, and… Long story short, I now have a new favorite coffee shop. The Campesino Coffee House is in an old brick house (maybe 1940s?) on Waugh Drive just off the Westheimer Curve, and they have some parking (never enough) and a patio and lots of nice understated color. It’s basically a hip little joint with a Latin flavor – coffee, drinks, etc. from Points South – and it’s not a hard guess that I’d go for that, right?

The café de olla (If you don’t do Spanish you could get away with Café de Oh YEAH!!!) was just right, dark, smooth, and spicy, with just the right bite at the back edge from the cinnamon and spices. Partner was all over the cappuccino, which she said was a good match for the version she drank when she was working out of Rome…

Several other things on the menu look very interesting; there’s a “Maya Mocha” which is reportedly a combination of coffee, chocolate, and cayenne with a hint of cinnamon. I’m the only gringo I know who actually LIKES the combination of chocolate and cayenne, but I’ve been called weird enough times that it doesn’t bother me any more. They have at least a partial kitchen, offering sandwiches and empanadas and the like, but I’d had a late breakfast/early lunch so I took a pass this time. It won’t matter as I’ll be there fairly often.

Decor is sort of funky mishmash with art and color and bits and pieces of Central American (Salvadoran) folk art fitted in. The front room features a vintage (possibly prewar) Philco radio Just Like Grandpa Used To Have, though from the sound it’s not the original innards. Their website (here) says they’re going for the old Montrose Boho Vibe, and I’d say they’ve got it… It wasn’t crowded at midday midweek, so I can’t say I’d want to be there on Weekend Mornings, but it did seem like a good place to sit with a laptop and work when it’s not busy, and I didn’t notice anyone having problems connecting or staying online (and you can usually tell when it’s not working), so I’m guessing the Free WiFi is solid.

If it weren’t almost ten miles away, it’d be the new Home Away From…

And it may get there anyway.

First of the year….

I was over at Mason Park in the southeast side covering the Greater Houston LULAC Council’s “Loteria” fun run, because the guy in the tan coat is Richard Reyes, a long-time friend who was kind of ramrodding the project… (and of course I walked it myself.)

Pictures from the walk are behind this one. .

The Harris County Courthouse, originally built in 1910, was renovated sometime during the late 50s. According to historians and conservators, the renovation was if not botched at least not particularly desirable from a conservation standpoint. Consequently, over the last several years it has been restored to original appearance, at considerable expense. There was a grand opening and ribbon cutting on August 23d, and I’ve been trying to get the pix sorted and edited since.

Here’s one: One of my favorite bands, Celtaire, provided appropriate music for the occasion….


More behind this one… clikenzee pic.