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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Crazy 4th of July

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I was planning on writing a post about 4th of July, but this post is not at all what I was expecting to write about.

Our original plans included the Bellaire 4th of July parade in the morning. (Bellaire is a nice small-town community that is entirely surrounded by the city of Houston.) I was planning on taking a few photos of the parade and then putting them online for our newspapers. We were also going to check out the new H-E-B grocery store, and then just relax the rest of the day.

Let’s just say that rain changed a bunch of our plans.

It was forecasted to rain for most of the day, but Bellaire administration said that the parade would go on, basically rain or shine, unless if there was a downpour or lightning and thunder.

We left at 9 a.m. for the 9:30 parade. We were barely on the road for a minute when the downpour started. We found the start line of the parade, in a shopping plaza, and everyone was soaked. It looked as if they were trying to wait out the downpour and then the parade could start. We snapped a few pictures of everyone and the floats in the rain. At about 9:25, you guessed it, lightning and thunder started. So much for the parade.

We were right in front of a little coffee shop called the Dandelion Cafe. We ducked inside because it was still pouring. It ended up being a nice little place. We will probably put this coffee shop into our rotation. We always enjoy finding new places like this.

After being there for an hour, we headed to the new H-E-B Grocery that had just opened up in Bellaire. I wasn’t originally expecting to buy a lot of things, but we did most of our bi-weekly shopping there, because prices were good. The H-E-B was cool, because it was a two story building, with a cart specific escalator. I was amused by it, and embarrassed Derek when I took video and pictures. Also, the H-E-B had its own parking garage, and there were lights at the end of each space in the ceiling which indicated if the spaces were open or not. Red for occupied, green for vacant. How handy! This is what living in the future is like.

Unbeknownst to us while we did our shopping for an hour, it was still raining heavily all this time. We left the grocery store and we were driving through pretty deep water. It was splashing up over the sides of our tires up onto the windows. But then all of a sudden it got too deep, and the water was going up over our hood. It quickly got scary. Derek said, “We have to get off of this road, NOW.” Luckily we saw a parking lot that was higher ground, and a bunch of other cars were there too waiting out the storm like us.

So we sat. And we waited. And we sat some more. I was getting worried about all of the perishables that we had just bought! Eventually, after about an hour and a half, we saw that the waters had receded a bit, so we cautiously headed out. We went a few blocks and ended up at a Walmart near my work. We couldn’t go any further, towards home, because we saw there was more high water ahead.

Walmart was good though, because we were able to buy a bag of ice to keep the perishables cold, and wandering around Walmart was better than sitting in a car.

We finally were able to get home around 3 p.m., about four hours after we originally tried to get home. It was an exhausting morning!

I now understand why some drivers accidentally end up in high waters and have to abandon their cars. It comes out of nowhere. You think you are okay, and then suddenly there is more water. We never had to be outside during Hurricane Harvey, so this was a new scary experience, one that I hope to not repeat.

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Weekend explorations

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We were pretty busy last weekend. We checked out new murals in downtown on Friday and we went to the Arboretum on Saturday.

Six new murals have been painted on McKinney street, just around the corner from Phoenicia Specialty Foods and Discovery Green, two of our usual hangouts.

A game changer for us has been discovering that Phoenicia customers can park for free in designated spots in the parking garage the building is located in. I am sure we might come here more often now knowing that.

The murals are really bright, and feature catchy, and Houston/Texas related sayings. My favorite one was “Smile, y’all are in Houston.” It was a good opportunity to get some fun photos. I think these will become popular for photos because they are on sidewalks, opposed to in a parking lot, which a lot of Houston’s murals are.

We also then took a stroll around Discovery Green and snapped some shots of all of the flowers and water lilies.

On Saturday we went to the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. We go here often, but Derek hasn’t been since they have done the latest expansions and restorations. I have been writing articles about it for work, so I knew that their second parking area, along with new trails and ponds, had just opened the week prior.

The Arboretum is trying to restore the natural ecosystems, as well as give the visitors a more immersive experience. Before, the parking lot was just that, a parking lot. Now when you get out of your car, there are trees and plants everywhere, and the trails run right through the middle as well.

There is one new feature that I love in particular. It is a long curving boardwalk over a pond. It is peaceful.

With all of the restoration efforts, more animals have been seen at the Arboretum. We saw two different yellow-crested night herons on our walk.

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Exploring Rice University

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There are a ton of higher-ed schools around Houston. Rice University is just a stones throw away from us, right across the street from Hermann Park, which we frequent.

We have always seen the buildings from the roads as we drove past, but never stepped foot on campus until last weekend.

Rice University is a prestigious, private university. Their mascot is the owl. If you look hard enough, you can find owls all over campus.

Their campus was so peaceful, covered with large oak trees and plenty of tables and chairs for relaxing. The architecture was impressive as well. I felt as if I were at an Ivy League school in the northeast, or as someone else put it, Hogwarts.

We also stopped at Rice Coffeehouse, their cafe inside the student union, for some cold drinks. We also saw a French cafe/restaurant on campus called Flo, might have to check that out another time.

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Froberg’s Farm

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The growing seasons here are all strange to get used to, because it is basically growing season year round. In Pennsylvania, we lived near Murphy’s Blueberry Farm, and we enjoyed picking each summer. I missed that, so last year I was in search of places to pick berries. I stumbled upon Froberg’s Farm in Alvin, about 30 minutes south of where we live. I was ONE WEEK LATE for strawberry season, which is from February to the beginning of May! Back in Pennsylvania strawberry season is in June. I should have known the timing would be different!  Well, I just kept it in the back of my head and remembered for this year.

Derek just finished school for the year yesterday, so now we can reclaim our weekends together again. The first thing we had to do was Froberg’s.

It is the end of the season, so there was slim pickings overall, but, with little bit of hunting, and going out to some of the further areas of the patches, we still found plenty of berries to fill our bucket. We picked over three pounds! There were also sunflower patches near the field, and I was excited to see a train go by! The patch is right next to tracks.

Froberg’s is a great place to spend half a day with your kids. We saw a tractor ride pulling kids around and rubber duck races! There is also a large market where you can pick up just about any kind of fruit and vegetable. There was also a bakery inside. This felt like Stony Fork General Store, which we frequented back in Pennsylvania. It feels great to find something so similar. Aside from the strawberries we picked up local honey, dried mango slices and peanut brittle.

Froberg’s is open year round, so even though the strawberries may not be in season, there is always the market, as well as some other seasonal activities such as a fall festival.

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