Thursday, January 31, 2013


Yesterday was a work day, cleaning, laundry, shopping; I did some hand sewn mending. Our planned move put off another day partly because of high winds. We are still on a picture upload diet until Feb. 4th. Didn’t take one picture yesterday. But, I took a lot of pictures of Quilts at the Civil War Quilt Exhibit. And, I want to tell you about the Texas Quilting Museum.
Quilt exhibits tend to move, they are often shown at a small venue and never seen again. The Texas Quilt Musuem founders wanted a place to showcase quilts for a longer period of time where more people could discover and appreciate quilts as art,both traditional and avant guarde.  La Grange Texas is a small town within driving distance of Houston, Austin and San Antonio, three of the 20 largest cities in the U.S. Here you will find educational opportunities, a library, a peace garden and peace memorial, and the history of quilts and quilt making. La Grange has a cultural center that celebrates its Czech heritage, and wonderful food and views of the Colorado River, according to their brochure. (I hope to visit it on another trip.)
My favorite was the French quilt, in the style of Broderie Perse, popular in the early 19th Century, French for Persian Embroidery. DSC01546 (Copy)
Individual blocks show the fine work and beauty.
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The fan blades are made from reproduction Civil War materials along with fine  print pastels from that time.
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This quilt is true to Civil War materials and is called a cheddar quilt, a common color used then. Made by a woman of color, and inspired by a woman of color who learned to quilt when that skill was not allowed to them. The Civil War quilter was a member of the underground railroad.
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In this quilt,the maker wanted to represent Confederate Gray, Union BLue and the red of the battlefield drenched in blood. She was inspired by the horrible number of graves at a preserved battlefield.
A thousand pyramids, border churn dash blocks
The many materials in the pyramids represent grave markers. The churn dash border, a butter churn, was a common pattern of the day.
#18-Friends All Around
This quilt center was made by one person,handed off to another who make the next square surround, the another made a border, and another border and so on until the quilt was finished by six different people.
hand applicque center
A close up f the center of the quilt. Fine, close quilting, applique and nine square blocks. I guess anyone can tell I love quilts and admire the workmanship I see in them. To me, my own quilts, are made from old family clothing, in part, and represent memories of dances attended, party dresses, the boys overalls, and so on. I call them rescue quilts because I don’t have to throw away or recycle favorite materials .
Before I part for the day, I want to insert a factoid from the Galveston Museum. Santos Cruz, head bartender for the famous Balinese Room, invented the margarita in 1948 for actress/songster (Margaret) Peggy Lee.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


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Galveston’s  wharf  reminds  me of San Francisco’s wharf. We went to see the Elissa, an old masted sail boat with a crew that sails her regularly. They are beautiful, no doubt about it. When we got there, you can pay to board her and walk around. DSC01720 (Copy)
If you’ve never done it, it’s worth the price, $6 and $8 dollars, senior/ student and adult prices. We visited one  in New Bedford, MA. and watched the crew prepare for sail and make a staged water rescue in  2010.  I  visited a tall ship in Boston Harbor and another in San Francisco, so we passed and just took pictures. The seafood restaurants smelled tempting. We watched a guy unload gunny sacks filled with  oysters. It was way to early for us to eat.
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Then I saw something I knew would make my youngest son drool. Beautiful Doug Fir, from old growth trees. 6 X 12′s about 35 to 40 feet long. DSC01733 (Copy)
This pile and a couple more like it are $250,000 dollars worth, we were told. I have to cry for the old growth forest, while I admire a beautiful piece of lumber.  I wish I could bring the smell home to my carpenter son.
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We walked around town again today. I took pictures of things you don’t often see. Like this cigar store wooden Indian.
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This is a solar parking meter. We laughed, but it is very effective.
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The entrance to this store has a painted-on rug. What a hoot!
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The businesses  are getting all gussied up for Mardi Gras.
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A  27 inch tall. Wow!
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Decadent, velvet and old wood. The city placed a huge banner across one of the major streets. Everybody is talking about Mardi Gras.
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This is Jonnie Cooks who made a charming ceramic for her Uncle Fred. For Mardi Gras she makes fantastic costume heads out of cardboard of her own invention. (I only got to see a picture.) Her method is original and well crafted. She may be selling them at Mardi Gras this year. It is the biggest event of the year. A half-million people come to Galveston for Mardi Gras.
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When visiting the seaside, the general wisdom is to eat seafood. Some woman coming out of The Gumbo Bar shoved a couple of coupons in my hands and mumbled something about the best gumbo she ever tasted and I was intrigued. Jim had chicken and sausage and I had Shrimp, oyster and crab gumbo. It was a huge bowl. Plus I got my first decent beer since arriving in Texas, an Abita Turbo Dog.  The woman was right. Mine had huge shrimp. There was a shrimp in every bite, down to the last spoonful in the bowl. Gumbo heaven!!
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From the day previous, a Rene Wiley painting. Rene’s husband, Ben, told me she paints about 50 hours a week and she has a huge following and sells about 300 paintings a year. This one is from her Galveston Alley series.
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Hibiscus blooming  in January?  I think of all the gulf cities we’ve visited, Galveston has the most to offer as a vacation spot, or a place to live, at least in winter. It may be hot and muggy in summer.
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I thoroughly enjoyed my visit here. I think Galveston is the star of the coast cities. They’ve wrested the best from their stormy spot on the coast and have it pretty well protected, a great arts community, friendly people, vibrant economy, great food, tourism and a decent beer.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


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Galveston has the natural attractions of beaches, fishing, sand and sun. But, from the early 1900′s, it has been a tourist mecca and nicknamed the Coney Island of the South. At one time the biggest city in Texas and the second biggest port in the nation, second only to New York.
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In 1877 swimsuits had to cover from the knee to the neck, but by the 1920′s a Bathing Girl Review hosted by the Galveston Beach Association was so popular it eventually led to the Miss Universe Contest.
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I was surprised to learn that Galveston was the major entry port for immigration before Ellis Island opened in 1822. And after, except during the Civil War, Galveston was still the major port for immigrants up through the 1940′s.
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During prohibition, people from everywhere flocked to Galveston, nicknamed  a “Free State” meaning booze, women, gambling, you name it. The town was full of vice and wide open. Now everything is legal and the crime rate is way down by comparison. Must be  lesson here, when we have drug cartels at our borders.
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The Museum is temporarily housed on the third floor of the Library because Ike destroyed the old building. This old beautifully crafted wood is from one of the doors. You enter the library on the second floor, because the first  floor was filled with mud during the most disastrous storm in  America, a hurricane in 1900 that killed 5,000 people in 4 minutes. Some estimates put the figure at 6,000 dead or unaccounted for. It flooded the town and the first duty was to try and deal with all the human and animal bodies. There was no bridge at that time onto the mainland. All had to accomplished with a ferry for supplies and help. In fact, the visitors center here still has  short little fence because the mud was in many places simply smoothed over. It was impossible for all  of it to be removed.
#3 80X80-225 different patterns
A Civil War inspired quilt exhibit at the Customs House was our next stop. I’ve quilted and have become familiar with “old” standard patterns. What a surprise here. There are 255 different block and pyramid designs identified during the Civil War period. This quilt shows them all. I don’t think it makes a beautiful quilt to have so many different blocks, but I was astounded by the imagination, the variety and the small, less than postage stamp size,  of some of the patterns.
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All but one of the 30 quilts in the exhibit are new. The fabrics  have been reproduced to resemble as closely as possible, old Civil War era fabrics. And, true to tradition, the quilters made tiny blocks reproducing the practice of not wasting material. The photo is only two inches square.
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These tiny blocks are finished at just a shade over a quarter-inch. I could do a whole blog on the quilt exhibit, but we are over our bytes and have to load fewer pictures than normal.
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This is a Civil War fan and flowers pattern done in the “Persian” style brought to the immigrants from France.
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We bopped around town, looking at beautiful buildings. Popping into shops and enjoying the decorations around town in preparation for Mardi Gras. This building, if you click on it, you can read the top plaque. It shows the flood line for Hurricane Ike in 2008.
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In the Naked Mermaid, I asked the owner how she came to choose that as a theme. She said she is a decorator and no one had such a store, and thus she found her niche.
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She had a line of these pudgy, humorous mermaids besides other goods than mermaids. I couldn’t believe the number of mermaid items made. She said her merchandise was way down because of Christmas.
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At the Wiley Gallery, I became acquainted with Rene Wiley’s work. She is a nationally known artist who paints everything Galveston. Very appealing work.
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This sculpture by James Phillips is made from “Iked” wood. Meaning wood from trees destroyed by Hurricane Ike. In fact many yard trees are now carved from the stumps to make good of something devastating.
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The Visitor Center gave us a map showing where all the old mansions are located. This one even has the sidewalk to match the house. It is hard to believe people still live in these huge places. I would find it uncomfortable. But, I’m glad they’ve been preserved for us to see.
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This house is for sale. It is a bit run down, but I liked it and thought it was more livable and original.
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As a neighborhood, they are  beautiful and reminiscent of New Orleans.

Monday, January 28, 2013


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We drove up the coast headed for Galveston. We stopped at a BUC EES, I think that is how you spell it. I saw a  huge billboard advertising genuine Czech Kolaches. Well, as y’all know by now, I’m a foodie. If I haven’t tasted it I gotta try it. They had sausage and jalapena, sausage, sausage and cheese and ham and cheese. Well, guess what a kolache is just a Czech name for a sandwich. These were not even good sandwiches. White, pasty bread, the sausage itself was good, but the cheese was Velveeta or its cousin. People must love them, but I’ve never been a sandwich person and these were  mundane. (They are eaten heated.)
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We drove past miles of beautiful beach. Jim commented how nice it is that Texas has many beach exits for people to enter the beach. They didn’t allow private builders to gobble it all up and prevent the public from enjoying the beach like in Florida and many places in California. But it is January and people were swimming out there? I guess I have to try it, because the weather is warm enough.
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We waited downtown for about three hours to get permission to park in a very crowded American Legion. We waited happily catching up on our reading, but the trees wanted to scrape the top, the place was busy and narrow. In the end, we moved 15 miles to the mainland  and found this friendly VFW, post 8248.
Kathy,me and Denise

We had a couple of drinks and had fun visiting with Kathleen and Denise.  Denise told me about a new food to try. The Spanish call it barcoda. I won’t tell you what it is until we find and taste it. Hey, gotta keep up my reputation for trying new foods. Denise is the Commander of an American Legion Post and a member of this VFW. Fun gals. Kathleen is hoping to hit the road some day.

Since this is a short blog, I thought I’d tell you about a Port Aransas wedding. Weddings can be very personal. I once saw a wedding invitation posted on a light pole in downtown Murphys. I’m paraphrasing a bit, but it read, Sandy Bristow has finally gotten Ricky Sanders out of the bars and off the streets of Murphys. Come join us for the event at Murphys Park, etc. etc. with a picture of Sanders  with a lasso around his  neck and his new bride in a cowboy hat and boots. (Not correct names.)

I read about the Port Aransas wedding in the Coastal Bend’s Community Magazine. Because it was Halloween, it was a two day wedding. The setting was a Port Aransas Beach Lodge described as  laid-back and casual, nestled in the sand dunes with a commanding, panoramic view of the Gulf with awesome sunrises.  The day before the wedding,  gaiety started as the sun began to set. Guests donned their Halloween costumes and went off in rented beach carts for a fab dinner at LaPlaya. Afterwards, in full costume, they set off for the Salty Dog where they drank and danced . The next day, they hired a boat and went on a two-hour cruise. Entertaining land locked guests with the beauty of sky, sea and sun with dolphins playfully posing and following the boat enraptured them.  Back at the lodge, the guests enjoyed a scavenger hunt, a white elephant party and a final ceremony at sunset on the wharf. The dinner was a crab boil with champagne.
Sound like fun?  Wow!

Sunday, January 27, 2013


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Yesterday, when I got up, the moon was shining through  a bank of clouds. The mist off the river gave the park lighting a misty yellow glow.
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The whole campgrounds looked surreal and beautiful.
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Then, the sun struggled  through the mist in pink and purple hues.
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The WINs were already finished with their hugs and mugs gathering  by the time I was finished with my therapy exercises I do each morning.
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Paul, Garth and the two Pats decided to visit Bay City.
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Arlene handed out some persimmons she found. They are very small and of an oriental type I’d never seen before. Pat, on the left,  will be parting from the group after Mardi Gras New Orleans, but will rejoin them again before they head west. We all hugged goodbye and bid them a fond farewell.
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We arrived in Freeport and  got permission to stay for a night at the VFW. I liked Harvey’s hat and took a picture. This is a very active club and we learned that clubs that only serve beer are open to the public. If they serve booze, they are considered private. That is a Texas State rule.This club has computer gambling, as well, and is very active.
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Freeport is a very industrial city and doesn’t have much to see, but we always head for the local museum. The city was organized around its sulfur deposits by Dow Chemical. Dow bought acreage and sold housing lots cheap and got a workforce. It grew from there. DSC01470 (Copy)

A maritime  industry developed.
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And, from museum to museum, it is a given that you will see hurricane damage and a town rebuilding. Freeport also straddles the Brazos river and has weathered floods over the years.
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As usual, I find something interesting I’d not heard  before. An all woman Supreme Court?
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If you travel with kids, this is a great museum for kids. Fun and educational.
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It has a mini planetarium and we enjoyed it just as much as any kid. You lie back on bean bags and the sky story is narrated above you. (There wasn’t a kid, or another person in the museum.)
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The museum had a huge room devoted to U.S. Presidents and elections. A replica of the oval office,  a table sized map of the United States explaining how the electoral college works.
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Pictures of presidents and their most famous quotes while their most famous speeches are broadcast on a video. DSC01473 (Copy)

I had never heard this one from Nixon. I guess this wasn’t his most famous quote. I’m not sure how the quotes were picked. But, they do tell a story of the times.
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We still deal with our liberties today. Have we learned anything from the past?
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The museum was a bit short on artifacts, but I loved this gorgeous old organ. What beauty and craftsmanship to admire.
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And, as a curiosity, this is the hand washing station in the men’s room. I guess you could call it a big sink. Today, we move to Galveston Island.