Tag Archives: Houston

Indoor Butterfly Fun

A lot of soon-to-be flyers

A lot of soon-to-be flyers

Yesterday the Mister and I participated in one of our time-worn traditions: Using a Groupon within days of expiration. After the, oh, 50th time or so, you’d think we’d do a better job of lessening our stress by planning ahead.

But that would not be us!

Delicate-looking rice paper butterflies were common here.

Delicate-looking rice paper butterflies are common here.

Fortunately, it was a beautiful 70-degree day, which made it easy to go for an adventure. Yes, we sprung loose of my 10-mile comfort-radius shackles and headed for the Big City, aka Houston. Destination? The Houston Museum of Natural Science.

A tiger longwing drinks up.

A tiger longwing drinks up.

We hadn’t visited the museum since that 2009 Bar Mitzvah party. Our Groupon allowed us access to the butterfly center and the exhibits. Of course, I was mostly interested in capturing good photos of the frequent flyers with my Nikon 105mm macro lens.

The underside of the blue morpho is stunning.

The blue morpho’s underside is stunning; wish it had cooperated and opened its wings.

The moment we walked into the sauna-like area, I was wishing I had opted for my Nikon 70-200mm lens, however. The butterflies flitted and fluttered all over the place. They were so beautiful! But they also stopped to rest so far away most of the time.

This tawny owl was hiding in the dark.

This tawny owl was hiding in the dark.

Despite having plentiful light from the large windows and roof, I did use my flash occasionally to try to bring out all the details. Fortunately, it didn’t seem to bother my subjects.

Gorgeous!

Wonder what kind this one is.

It was wonderful watching the butterflies move around us as if we weren’t important at all. And I guess we weren’t.

Charro, a green iguana (mature males are orange), expresses an opinion.

Charro, a green iguana (mature males are orange), expresses an opinion.

Right, Charro?

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Battling Expectations

Our tickets

Our tickets

The last time I wrote about Sam Houston State football, the Mister and I were not watching the SHSU Family Weekend game. The weather had conspired against us, unfortunately, and we opted to spend more time with our younger son instead of sitting on the wet bleachers after a long lightning and storm delay.

Still wanting to see the Kats in action as well as, hopefully, our beloved personal Bearkat, I bought two tickets to the annual Battle of the Piney Woods clash last Saturday at Reliant Stadium (home of the Houston Texans). This time any rain would be a moot point due to the retractable roof.

Tickets only were sold for the lower bowl (26,000 attended).

Reliant is an impressive stadium.

Fortunately, it was a spectacular fall day, and the roof was open. The Mister and I settled into our seats near the end zone and prepared for a shootout. Before this season, we didn’t know much about the intense rivalry between SHSU and nearby Stephen F. Austin State University, home of the Lumberjacks (as in “axe ’em, Jacks!”), now in its 88th year. We may be hicks from the sticks, but our sticks are bigger than Huntsville and Nacogdoches.

Big head or little hat? Or both?

Big head or little hat? Or both?

I had read that when these two teams meet, the scoreboard operator is busy. No kidding! SFA quarterback Brady Attaway (great last name!) is the nation’s second-best passer. In this game, his impressive stats included 505 passing yards and five touchdowns. Add about 240 rushing yards, and you’ve got a boatload of offense.

Brian Bell makes the handoff.

Brian Bell makes the handoff.

However, the Bearkats aren’t too shabby when they have the ball either. Quarterback Brian Bell accounted for 339 passing yards and four touchdowns. The team gained 218 yards, too.

Sammy dances for the crowd.

Sammy dances for the crowd.

In the end, the Jacks’ four turnovers in their first four possessions in the fourth quarter doomed them, despite an impressive, late rally. The Kats won 56-49 and lead the series 51-35-2. Way to eat ’em up, Kats!

Our son should be here somewhere.

The kid should be somewhere among the orange.

And what about our son? For some reason he decided he’d rather sleep late and stay on campus rather than root for his team and see his loving parents. He missed out on a thrilling victory, while the Mister and I didn’t get the chance to spend time with him.

Guess you can’t win them all.

From Brrrrr to Ahhhh!

Although it’s getting a bit warmer in Chicago, it’s still too brisk for me.

Chicago is too brisk for me.

Today I’m flying home after a wonderful visit in Chicago with my beloved relatives and a couple friends. I’ll return from being a temporary Midwesterner once again and resume extending the Texan part of my life (hopefully, for a loooong time).

I’m looking forward to the milder temps.

I’m looking forward to the milder temps.

Just consider me gone (back) to Texas!

My Half & Half Anniversary

Gosh, I hate the cold!

Gosh, I hate the cold!

Thirty years ago tomorrow, I made a momentous decision: I left Chicago, where I had celebrated my 30th birthday in mid-August, and followed a guy to San Antonio. Like pioneers in the 1800s, I put a “gone to Texas” sign on my apartment door (well, not really, since I didn’t know my Texas history back then), and off I went on a wing and a prayer.

Much better!

Much better!

After spending about a year in San Antonio, I moved to Houston, as did the guy. It was there on August 25, 1988, that my life changed for the better: I met the Mister on the Rice University bike track as I trained for a duathlon (run-bike-run). The rest, as they say, is history. I traded icy, cold winters for ridiculously hot and humid summers. But I also found a warm and welcoming home.

Ironically, today I’m in Chicago, my old stomping grounds, visiting my mom and freezing my butt off. Karma perhaps?

Brothers and besties

Brothers and besties

Looking at all that I’ve gained over the last 30 years—the Mister and our sons, as well as my wonderful in-laws and lots of cherished friends—I’d say I have a lot to celebrate tomorrow.

On Sunday, I will be more of a Texan than a Midwesterner. As much as I adore Chicago and Illinois and always will, my true loves live in the Lone Star state.

And so will I, probably for the rest of my life. I’m truly and wholly thankful!

What Do I Miss Most?

Today’s weather in Chicago . . . brrrrr!

Today’s weather in Chicago . . . ugh!

I’m in the Chicago area until Sunday visiting my beloved mother. As a bonus, it’s her younger sister’s BIG birthday tomorrow, and my cousins are having a party for her. I’m thrilled that I get to help my wonderful Aunt Sandy celebrate!

That being said . . . goodness sakes, it’s flippin’ cold here in mid-March! I haven’t lived in these parts in almost 30 years, and I forgot how much I hate when the temps fall so low amid Chicago’s notorious bracing breeze. But not for long.

Those freezing feelings came rushing back to me as soon as I stepped outside at O’Hare Airport last Wednesday afternoon. The 20-mph north wind hit me square in the face, making the 28-degree temperature feel downright frosty. Brrrrrr!

This is what I left behind.

This is what I left behind . . . love!

Meanwhile, this is what I left behind in Houston. What a lovely spring break week it’s been . . . there. Lows in the 50s, highs in the 70s and low 80s. Ahhhhh!

Of course, I also left behind my sons and the Mister, trading one family for another. I miss my trio a lot . . . as well as those mild Houston temperatures.

When I return home and step off the plane Sunday afternoon, I’ll be greeted by a warm 81 degrees. Plus I’ll eventually get to see my guys, including my older son before he returns to UTSA to finish his spring semester.

Win win!!

Purple Power

Perhaps these are mountain laurel?

Perhaps these are mountain laurel?

Although pink dominated at Bayou Bend last Saturday, another hue stood out from the light-red crowd here and there.

There were a couple patches of violets.

There were a couple patches of violets.

Let’s hear it for purple! Woot woot!

Small but mighty

Small but mighty

It was a welcome respite, a nice change from the heavy pink overload.

These were growing in a pot on the grounds.

These were growing in a pot on the grounds.

Good thing that pink and purple don’t clash!

Pretty in Pink

These dwarf azaleas look like mums from a distance.

These dwarf azaleas look like mums from a distance.

Three years ago when I visited Bayou Bend, the only stop along Houston’s annual Azalea Trail that interested me, there definitely was a trail.

But no azaleas.

What a bummer!

Pink on pink azaleas

Pink on pink azaleas

Fortunately, our weather has been kinder this winter. So when I once again broke through my 10-mile comfort radius and made the drive into Houston, I was relieved to see lots and lots and lots of azaleas.

Sidebar: I couldn’t help but laugh when a guy said to his wife and friends, “Yep, there are a lot of pink flowers. And just more of the same the rest of the way.”

Buds bring the promise of more beautiful flowers.

Buds bring the promise of more beautiful flowers.

He definitely was right in his assessment: Pink was the predominant color in the gardens.

The bees were busy, as usual.

The bees were busy, as usual.

Whether it bee azaleas . . . .

The little stingers were all over the place.

The little stingers were all over the place.

Or camellias . . . .

Love how the sunlight hit these just right.

Love how the sunlight makes these glow from inside.

Tulips . . . .

I’m not sure what kind of tree this is, but it sure is pretty.

I’m not sure what kind of tree this is, but it sure is pretty.

Or even the budding trees, that lighter shade of red made it seem kind of like Valentine’s Day (in a very feminine way).

The heart looks ghastly!

The heart looks creepy!

I think that Cupid was tickled pink!