Moving to Texas

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My husband Derek and I have moved to Houston, Texas. This blog will be a way for friends and family to see what we are up to.

Derek  is pursuing MFA in Studio Art – with a concentration of graphic design at the  University of Houston. It is a three year program. While he is in school, I am working as a Publication Editor for Houston Community Newspapers, a division of the Houston Chronicle.

It has been an adventure, and a culture shock for sure. We have moved from Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, which has a population of about 3,300, to Houston, the fourth largest city in the U.S., population 2.1 million.

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Native American Pow Wow Championship

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Last weekend I attended the Native American Pow Wow Championship at Traders Village.

Traders Village is a large flea market that is open only on the weekends. It also has some small pop up food shacks if you wanted to grab lunch there, and carnival style rides for kids. Derek and I used to enjoy going to Columbus Market, which was a flea market back by my parent’s in New Jersey. I came alone this particular day, but I think some time in the future Derek and I will check out Traders Village together.

Traders Village, in honor of the event, had a special section of vendors that were selling all types of Native American items. There were quite a few things I would have liked to buy (I love the Kokopelli deity) but I had spent too much money the day prior at the Nutcracker Market!

There were also some teepees set up on display, but I found these to be a let down. Other than the teepee itself, I thought there should have been some set up of items outside or inside the teepees, but there was not. I also did not want to take photos of the teepees with the parking lots and the grandstands in the background.

The Native American Pow Wow Championship was essentially a dance contest. There were different categories competing within the large event. Dancers competed in different groups for women, men, juniors, and different types of outfits such as jingle dress and buckskin. The men tended to dance around more wildly, making larger steps and spinning around, probably quite effective at tiring them out! The women (with the exception of the jingle dress category) were more quiet footed, but beautiful to watch nonetheless.

The details on their outfits were amazing. I loved looking at all of the bead work, the bells around their ankles and legs, and their feather head dresses.

Unfortunately I only stayed for about half of the competition, because it was cold and damp that day. There was even a rain delay for about 20 minutes. But I still felt like I saw plenty.

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Nutcracker Market

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The Nutcracker Market is one of Houston’s biggest shopping events, and it signals the start of the Christmas season. It is held at NRG Center, which is a part of the stadium grounds. I have wanted to go for the past three years, but admittedly it is too steep of an admission price for me. It is $20 to get in, with proceeds going towards the Houston Ballet.

This year, I planned it out to use the last bit of my birthday money to be able to go. My co-worker and friend Tricia came with me.

Tricia went to buy our tickets when a woman was handing out left over 4-day early bird passes for free! These are a $50 value, and are good for repeat admission for all four days of the market, and allow us to get in earlier than 10 a.m. general admission. We got there just after 9:30 a.m. We lucked out!

A good word to describe the Nutcracker Market is “overwhelming,” both in a good and bad way. Bad because there are so many people, and there are just times when the aisles back up with people not being able to move. (We were expecting this to be the case though.) It is overwhelming in a good way because there are hundreds of vendors. It is a great way to get your Christmas shopping done all in one place.

It’s also a good way to get into the Christmas spirit, if only for all of the Christmas displays alone. There were tons and tons of Christmas trees, all with people lining up by them to get their selfies.

There were mostly women at the event, and they all seemed to come in packs. A lot of them were wearing matching Christmas themed shirts, and wearing silly Christmas hats. I think this is a good strategy though, in case if you get lost from one another.

Because of the gifted tickets, after two and a half hours with Tricia, I was able to rest up for a few hours, and then go back for round two with Derek. It is worth it to go back a second time. I was able to see a lot that I missed the first time around.  Tricia then picked up the tickets from me and she was able to go back, too.

Some of the things that Derek and I bought include: a Christmas ornament that says “Merry Texmas Y’all,” a silver Texas charm that I can put on a chain, a bag of chocolate toffee (which is already gone) a new wallet for Derek, gumbo soup mix and a canvas Christmas scene painting with LED lights in it.

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Two years at Houston Chronicle

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I started my job at the Chronicle on October 17, 2016. I can’t believe that it’s already been two years, but at the same time I think the time has flown by.

I work for Houston Community Newspapers, which is a division of the Houston Chronicle. It is a group of community weekly papers for all the suburbs of Houston. I mostly design pages of the different papers, but I still write about two articles a week as well.

I am feeling a bit nostalgic, so I thought I’d share links to some of my favorite articles throughout the last two years.

https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/bellaire/news/article/Family-passes-Christmas-tree-through-generations-10806315.php 

⇑ This is a neat article about a Christmas tree that has been in one family for generations.

https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/memorial/news/article/Vietnam-Veteran-Baby-boomers-vets-need-10780401.php

⇑ This is about a new cure for Hepatitis C. Someone emailed me a week later asking to be put in touch with the veteran I interviewed, because she had just been diagnosed. I hope I was able to make her feel better.

https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/bellaire/news/article/Family-Garden-provides-a-space-for-education-11199889.php

⇑ All about the family garden at McGovern Gardens, within Hermann Park. It was interesting to learn about a space that I go to a lot.

https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/bellaire/news/article/Holocaust-Museum-pairs-up-survivors-with-11063049.php

⇑ The Holocaust Museum paired survivors up with volunteers. It was fascinating to hear them speak about each other, and about what they have learned, and gotten from their time with each other.

https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/bellaire/news/article/100-Club-supports-families-of-those-fallen-in-the-11049215.php

⇑  The 100 Club – a great club that helps support families of those fallen in the line of duty.

https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/memorial/news/article/Nicole-s-Houston-Hearts-of-Gold-raises-money-11267392.php

⇑ A story about DIPG, a type of children’s cancer. The research for this story made me cry!

https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/bellaire/news/article/CYCLE-provides-bicycles-for-students-who-improve-12441927.php

⇑ A feel good story about students receiving bicycles after achieving reading goals.

https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/heights/news/article/Yes-Prep-teacher-takes-in-family-of-student-in-12371895.php

⇑ One of the many articles I did in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. A teacher takes in her student’s family after their house flooded.

https://www.chron.com/neighborhood/bellaire/news/article/Opened-Sunset-Coffee-Building-keeps-history-alive-12515789.php

⇑ I love learning about the history of Houston and Texas. This is an article about a historic building on the banks of the Buffalo Bayou.

I could probably put links up for 20 more articles, but I’ll keep it to this amount. I’m not even sure if any of my readers/followers will click on these links, but I’d thought it would be nice to share anyway, so people can see what I’ve been working on for the last few years.

 

Texian Market Days

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Texian Market Days is a large living history event that takes place at George Ranch Historical Park, which is about 30 minutes south of Houston. The park follows four generations of a family through 100 years of Texan history, starting with an 1830’s farm, an 1860s home, a 1920’s Victorian home and a 1930’s cattle ranch. Each area had reenactors and demonstrations.

This was one of the first events that I wanted to go to, but was disappointed because of my original work schedule having mid-week days off. Two years later, I finally got to go.

The 1830’s area had Texian (residents of Mexican Texas and, later, the Republic of Texas) and Mexican reenactors. I got to watch some demonstrations of cotton batting, a cannon firing (they did it so differently than what I was used to!) corn husk doll making, and learned about some animal furs. There was a skirmish, but honestly it was not organized well. They told everyone to get behind the fence line, but not everyone did. So the people who followed directions (me included) could not see much. I was disappointed in that.

However, the Civil War skirmish was excellent, and it made up for the first one. They had a neat skit, with the Yankee’s ransacking a southern home. The Confederates won. We are in the South after all. In the Civil War section, there was a sugar cane press demonstrations, a quilting bee, a hospital tent and dance lessons. I enjoyed this area the most of all, obviously, because of my experience as a Civil War reenactor. It felt like home. At the same time though, it felt weird to be on the spectator side of things, listening to information that I mostly already knew about. One of my favorite moments of the day was getting to watch the demonstration on the 1861 parrot rifle, and I ended up getting an amazing photo of the cannon blast.

The park is over some swampy ponds, so you have to cross bridges here and there to get to different areas. I was happily surprised to see my first wild alligator. It only took over two years. (My parents saw one only two minutes into Texas at the welcome center!)

The 1920’s sections featured a temperance movement, a 1890s beekeeper demonstration, blacksmith demonstrations and cowboy camps. I think there might have been more to see at this point but I was petering out fast!

Same goes for the 1930’s cattle ranch area. I was getting tired, but I checked out some WWII camps, some old vehicles, and watched a dancing performance by the Ballet Folklorico Herencia Mexicana de Houston before calling it a day. I had a great time and I’m glad the opportunity finally opened up for me to go.

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Swamp sunflower season

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In Pennsylvania I always looked forward to photographing tulips in the spring. Well now, seasons and flowers are flipped, and I look forward to photographing swamp sunflowers in the fall.

Here is the link to last year’s swamp sunflower post: https://texastalesblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/08/swamp-sunflowers/

The swamp sunflowers are in a meadow at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center, a favorite outdoor location of ours.

This year is the first time Derek’s gotten to see the meadow in person. He enjoyed photographing the flowers as much as I did. It was a beautiful morning, so we stayed at the Arboretum for a few hours, and got photos of all types of flowers and foliage.

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The above photo is American beautyberry. There were clusters of this everywhere. It looks very striking among the leaves.

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If you look hard enough, you will find small signs of fall foliage…

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I loved the shapes these little tiny vines made!

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Weekend activities

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Last weekend we attended two events in one night: The Texas Contemporary Art Fair, and MoonGarden, an art installation at Discovery Green park.

Interestingly enough, two years ago, when I was on my way to meet Derek for the Art Fair, was when my former boss (now retired) gave me a call and wanted to see me for an interview. (Next week I will have been at my job for two years!)

Derek is able to get free tickets through school. This is an event that gives us an opportunity to check out all different kinds of artwork, and we both enjoy it.

Here are pictures of some of my favorite pieces, and some shots of the overall venue:

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When we had our fill of the Contemporary Art Fair, we walked across the street to check out MoonGarden.

The art installation consists of large blowup spheres that light up in time to music, and some of them also feature light up dioramas inside that show Houston history. You were able to peek inside and see the moving parts too, which was interesting. It was organized by Lucion Traveling Light, a Montreal-based art collective.

The show was only there for about a week and a half so I am glad that it timed up nicely with the Art Fair for us to go see it

Photos and video:

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30th birthday activities

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Another year has come and gone. This birthday is a little more meaningful than most, because I am now 30. I was initially depressed when the day arrived. Let’s be real, I was actually depressed all summer long by the thought of the impending day.

It was rough to see all of the surprise 30th birthday pictures and events on my Facebook feed from friends, but I had to remind myself of all the quietly passed birthdays that did not make it to social media.

I felt like my birthday was doomed from the start, being on a Wednesday, also being the day that Derek has a night class. I did not expect much the day of, and so we planned to go out to dinner during the weekend.

I was pleasantly surprised though; my co-workers made sure I had a nice day.  There were cards to open, and my co-worker Tracy brought in a cookie-cake and balloons tied down with a tea mug. I share my birthday with my boss, so we all shared the cookie together.

That night, I went to Cavenders and I bought a new pair of cowboy boots for myself. I wore them the next day and I got a few compliments, including from a stranger at the grocery store!

On Friday night, Derek and I attended UH’s College of the Art’s Party at the Grove. It was an open house event for all of the art programs. It was nice to get out of the apartment for the night, and see some of Derek’s classmates and professors. One of the activities was a sketch artist, so Derek and I got our portraits done. I thought they came out well!

On Saturday night we went out to dinner. I picked the Black Labrador, a British pub. This is a restaurant that we have passed many times. The outside of the restaurant LOOKS like England. There is a phone booth, a Union Jack flag hanging, and lots of greenery and ivy.

The inside carried the theme well. We opened the front door and were greeted by a mannequin dressed like a Buckingham Palace guard. We both ordered burgers and got spinach and artichoke dip as an appetizer. The food was great. We will most likely come back here again.

I’m trying to feel better about being 30, because why worry anymore now that the birthday has passed? Derek and I are both successfully working at our goals, and I guess my life is in as good as a position as I can be right now. I know that by the time I am 31, life will be totally different, in a great way.

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