Greek Festival

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I usually miss out on any type of festival because I work weekends. Therefore, I am extra vigilant when it comes to finding things to do. Imagine my surprise when I found a a Greek Festival, which started on a Thursday night! I perused the festival’s website, and I knew I had to go.

It is clearly a popular festival; it is the 51st year, and the grounds were packed for a Thursday. Silly me, I thought it would be empty. The festival is hosted by the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

The biggest draw was the food. I got my staple spanakopita, which is a spinach and cheese-filled pastry and Derek tried a tiropita, which is a cheese-filled puff pastry. We shared a Greek salad as well (one can never have too much feta cheese!) Round two for food included Souvlaki, which is beef cubs with onions on a skewers (it was so tender!)  and Koulourakia, which are butter cookies that are popular during the Easter holiday.

In-between filling our stomachs, we caught the Greek dance program which was all traditional dances and costumes. There was also live music on the grounds as well. There was a huge marketplace, with all kinds of vendors.

We both had a good time; it was nice to get a glimpse into a different culture.

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Events at Rothko Chapel

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Rothko Chapel is a place in Houston that is meant to be for everyone. It has “chapel” in its name, but it is non denominational, and can be a place where people come and sit and meditate and enjoy the quiet. It also serves as an art instillation, with large canvases all painted different shades of black by Mark Rothko.

Derek and I came here once a few months ago, and I had to leave after a minute because the silence unnerved me!

But with that said, there are also lots of community events that are held at the Chapel.

The chapel started a series of “Healing in Community After Hurricane Harvey” events. I went to one last week, for the purpose of writing an article for work (see link below) but I enjoyed it so I came back yesterday just for myself.

Last week’s event was more religious based. A local reverend led the attendees through prayer, but also meditation and discussion. Her overall message was about purgation and catharsis, and how that can lead us to feel free.

Yesterday’s event was titled “We Are All Folkloric.” The leaders of the event, lead everyone in finding words to help us create a four word poem.

We first all came up with words to describe the emotional residue that we perceived in the city. Then we came up with  words to describe the good we saw. Some of my words were guilt, anxiety, strength, comfort and friendship.

Then we had to use these words and discussion to help us come up with the poem describing what we re-imagine for the city. It had to be a verb, noun, preposition and then noun. Mine was “Growing ourselves through trials.”

After both of these events, everyone stuck around to chat, give hugs and ask, “How are you doing?” It can be, and was, helpful to move forward.

http://www.chron.com/neighborhood/bellaire/events/article/Rothko-Chapel-hosts-post-Harvey-community-12229657.php#photo-14224178

Kemah Boardwalk

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Kemah Boardwalk is about 35 minutes away from us on the bay of Galveston. Kemah Boardwalk was something I knew I wanted to do over the summer. When The Bull country radio station announced a Wednesday night country concert series, I knew that would be the perfect time to go.

We arrived around dinner time and ate at Bubba Gump Shrimp, a place I have always wanted to go to. There are plenty of other restaurants there too.

In hindsight we probably should have done some of the rides or maybe gone to the onsite small aquarium attached to one of the restaurants. I am not a big ride person, but there were some small ones that would have been doable like the carousel or the train ride.  Once we ate and circled around the boardwalk twice, there wasn’t much for us to do. There were a few shops that we looked in that wasted a few minutes. It was nice to look out over the water though and see the boats coming in and out of the marina. We were lucky to see a double rainbow form after a small drizzle.

We would have left sooner if not for the concert being at a specific time. It did not help that the concert started a half hour late! The artist was Chris Lane. We were not familiar with him, but it was nice to stay and listen to a few songs before heading back home.

I think Kemah Boardwalk is a great place to go if you’re a family or if you really like rides. Most of them I wouldn’t have gone on, like the roller coasters and the rides that swing back and forth. No thank you! But it is also nice for a couple to go out to a nice dinner, walk around and get some fresh air. (Mind the mosquitoes since you’re near the water! We both got a few bites.)

Some photos:

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Houston Astros

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I won’t lie and tell you I am a baseball fan, but when in Houston, you go to a Houston Astros game.

We attended an Astros vs. Texas Rangers game a few weeks ago. We got the cheap nosebleed seats for $14 each, but we had a great view from above.

To be honest, I was there more to see the stadium’s train than to see the Astros. Minute Maid Park’s main lobby is Houston’s old Union Station. So inside, there is a small scale train that runs along side the stadium walls at the beginning of every game, plus when the Astros score home runs and at the end if they win a game.

That is not to say that the game wasn’t interesting though. It was definitely different to be at a sporting event that was NOT football.

I suppose everyone who likes baseball already knows this, but the game was SO long. The first two innings went by quickly, but then the third inning dragged on longer than the first two combined. It seemed like the players were just standing around wasting time!

We left at the beginning of the sixth inning because it was getting late, and a lot of people had left before that. At that point the Astros were winning 4-1, but of course they scored 9 points in the sixth inning!!!! Oh well. They ended up winning 13-2.

Supposedly the Astros are the best time in baseball right now. I just may have to become a “bandwagon” fan if they get into the playoffs!

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Art Car Parade preview

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The Art Car Parade is an annual event in Houston, and I’ve been told by many people that it is quite the quirky thing to attend.

Unfortunately the parade is on a Saturday, (like most events) and I work weekends. However, I lucked out this time because there was a special preview of about half the cars at the Discovery Green park on Thursday night.

It was really neat to see so many different cars. The collection of “junk” on some of them was just amazing! The owners of the cars really get to show off their artistic abilities and their creativity. My favorite car was  one with singing fish and lobsters. The lobsters and the fish would move in sync with songs! It was hilarious!

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Rodeo concerts: Willie Nelson, Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley

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After the rodeo events are completed, there is a concert each night. Out of three weeks, the majority of the concerts are country artists, which is great for a country music fan like me. There are other genres of music featured though, like pop artists, and there are Tejano bands on Tejano Appreciation Day, and Alicia Keys performed on Black Heritage Day. Something for everyone, really.

Months ago, when the concert lineup was announced, I went gung ho and bought tickets for three concerts: Willie Nelson, Dierks Bentley and Brad Paisley. The last two concerts were back to back on Friday and Saturday. I ALMOST dreaded going. Almost. But now that they are all done and over with, I’m glad that I did go overboard, even though I was super tired for a week!

I’m not going to claim that I am a huge Willie Nelson fan, because I am not, or at least wasn’t up until the rodeo. I am familiar with and love his more popular works like On the Road Again and Mommas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys, but besides that I didn’t really know his stuff. So I listened to a lot of his music in the weeks before the concert to become more familiar, and I gained a lot of new favorites in the process. Basically I just knew that seeing Willie Nelson was quite the opportunity because he is a legend, and let’s face it, he might not be around for a lot longer.

I went to the Dierks Bentley concert because he is an old staple favorite of mine. I have seen Dierks Bentley three times now, also in Pennsylvania and New York. However, I admit that I kind of fell off the bandwagon with his music for a big chunk in the middle of his career, so I didn’t really know about half of the songs that he played during his concert, but it was still enjoyable. My favorite songs of his are What Was I Thinkin’ (his first single) and some of his more recent stuff like Different for Girls and Drunk on a Plane.

I was so burnt out by the time the Brad Paisley concert arrived that I almost considered skipping it. I am glad I didn’t because that concert ended up being my favorite. I bought tickets to his concert because I have liked the majority of his songs over the years. I guess I am more of a Brad Paisley fan than I thought, or maybe I just lucked out because Brad Paisley played all of my favorites including: Online, I’m Gonna Miss Her, American Saturday Night, Old Alabama, Mud on the Tires, I’m Still a Guy, etc. etc.

The prices for the tickets are excellent, which is why I was able to afford three. I got nosebleed seats for Willie and Brad (which weren’t all that bad to be honest) and first tier seats for Dierks, but I only spent about $75 total.

I’m already anticipating what the lineup will be for next year! I keep telling myself that I will not do three concerts next year, or at least not two in a row, but who knows! I am so excited to be living in a place where country music is at the forefront!

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Rodeo

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The first week of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo I explored just the grounds. The second and third week I attended the actual rodeo. I had been to a rodeo at the Pennsylvania Farm Show last winter, but wow, that didn’t prepare me for the sheer size of this rodeo, which felt at least 10 times bigger!

I don’t know the first thing about rodeos, but it is easy enough to catch on as you watch. Basically the goal for each event (with events such as steer wrestling, calf roping, barrel racing, bull riding and saddle bronc) is to just get the quickest or longest time. For events like the bull and bronc riding, you have to reach 8 seconds and you are also judged on how well you held on. One of the calf roping teams won in an arena record of 4.1 seconds. Wow!

I had the opportunity to be there on one of the championship nights, and the crowd was really hyped up! All of the winners took home $50,000! It may seem like a quick and easy way to make a lot of money, but you can really tell that these rodeo goers work hard, and the work is dangerous! One of the guys was bucked off his bull, and he ended up underneath the bull, hit his mouth, and he lost some teeth!

Some of my favorite parts of the rodeo weren’t the actual competitive events, but the just-for-fun ones. There was the Mutton Bustin’ where little kids held on tight to running sheep and tried to make it to the end of the arena. They were all so cute! Then there were the chuck wagon races. One of the drivers actually fell from the wagon on one of the other nights that I didn’t go and had to go to the hospital. Ouch!

At the end of the night, after all the events had ended, United Airlines had a “Flying High Award” in which they awarded two free plane tickets to the person who was deemed to have the worst injury. They would show a replay of the cowboys “flying high” off of their broncs or bulls, and the person who got the most cheers from the crowds would win the tickets.A nice way of giving back and showing their support!

But my absolute favorite part was the horse legacy. They showed a horse family that was four generations, including a filly named Honey that was born right at the rodeo. The announcer talks about how they help keep the rodeo tradition live on. Then all of a sudden a ton of horses come out and they all run free in the stadium under a bunch of spotlights. Even if you don’t know a thing about the rodeo, I assure you, if you saw it, you would get misty eyed. I know I sure did, and I saw it three times!

The rodeo only just ended last week, but I’m already looking forward to next year! It was definitely a quintessential Texas experience.

Pictures:

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