Tuesday, August 05, 2008

It's A Colorful World (or: Librarians on the Loose!)

I got back from San Diego late Thursday night, collapsed Friday, and on Saturday was off on another adventure.

My fellow librarian Hope (of great office art and wine tasting blog post fame...) wanted to preview some of the Houston sights that I had talked about, in view of an upcoming visit from her mom.

It was hotter than heck, but what the heck, let's go!

Hope's mom LOVES butterflies.
That little bit of information had come up while we were at ref desk one evening, and I had mentioned that the Houston Museum of Natural History had an awesome butterfly exhibit.

I've actually dragged my readers to the Museum twice before to see Snakes Alive! on a date with Bernie, and also to see some gems and minerals.

How could I miss a chance to drag you readers along (once again) in order to see this?
I obviously couldn't.
Please settle in and plan to read on.

Inside the rain forest like exhibit we were surrounded by gems come to life:

(Wow! I actually got a shot with the little nectar sipping tongue curled out!)

Hope and I sat on a bench and watched the butterflies fluttering all around us. In front of us was a tall bush with arguably fifty butterflies at rest among it's leaves.

Butterflies swooped by our faces, considered landing on our knees, and made marvelous dance moves over our heads.

I was constantly hopping up to attempt to get a photo of a butterfly at rest.
The flowers were pretty interesting too, but I more interested in the butterflies.

Children were walking around with laminated guides to the butterflies, I wanted one too just so I could keep track of which kinds of butterflies I had seen.

A butterfly fast food restaurant? In McDonald's colors? Hmmm....maybe I should build a feeder like this in my garden!

Over ripe fruit: Not just for making banana nut bread any more!
(See the blog "Mennonite Girls Cook Constantly" for other great recipes ideas using fruit!)

Some of the butterflies were soooo big.

Others seemed interested in posing.
Cats, squirrels and now posing butterflies.
What next....

Butterfly twosomes!

Charming well behaved children enjoyed an opportunity to touch dead butterflies that had been gathered by the exhibit volunteers. The volunteer patiently explained how butterfly wings get their color, and encouraged the children to gently stroke the silky wings.

I was so glad Hope and I could take the time to just sit and take in the exhibit. I have been there before when there was a bit of a rush, and you just can't really see how many butterflies there are unless you just sit and observe for awhile. They really were absolutely everywhere!

One tip to anyone planning a trip to similar exhibit: Wear red or hot pink. The butterflies were drawn to those colors, and regularly landed on people sporting those hues.

Another tip: Use your finger extended sideways in front of the butterfly that is feeding or resting, and sometimes they will step up on your finger, sort of like a parakeet does.

From the museum we went passed these three fountains where a quinceanera party was being photographed. A quinceanera party is the Hispanic traditional celebration of a girl's fifteenth birthday. She is given one last doll, and changes from flat shoes to high heels and takes her place as a woman in society.

They are HUGE events in Houston; and you quickly learn that a photo being taken of a group of girls in fancy gowns that match, and another girl in a non-matching fancy gown, (often but not always white) and a bunch of guys in tuxedos usually isn't a wedding.

We headed to the Museum of Art and got a lunch there, then headed to the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. It is my favorite gallery in Houston, and always has jaw dropping amazing pieces on display.

This time it was a display of Texas crafts; blown glass, wood carving, weaving, metal work...and this piece of cut paper art:

One piece of black paper.
I shot the picture before I read the sign: NO PHOTOGRAPHY.

Next we headed to High Fashion Fabric.

I'm still a sucker for this place!

I told Hope it is like the scene in every historical romance novel where the poor heroine is taken by the wealthy hero to a dress maker for a "fitting" wardrobe for her new dreamy life of luxury.
It makes me shake my head to realize that there actually are REAL people who go here to have exactly such wardrobes created.

Hope fell in love with this fabric and gave a Cajun insight into all of this loveliness.

Seems my Louisiana born friend has attended more than a few Mardi Gras extravaganzas in her day. She had heard of "the fabric shop in Houston" where people shopped for the fabric to create the amazing gowns and costumes for the various Mardi Gras balls and parades.

My English manor house ball room fantasy suddenly took on a New Orleans style twist.

I blew right past these fabrics; Hope crowed that she had seen some of them used in Mardi Gras costumes, and started telling me about what fanciful parade get ups and performances that she had seen where people were dressed in these wild fabrics.

Oh yeah....I did miss seeing the real Mardi Gras while I lived in the South.

I have been quietly mourning the fact that once I leave Houston I will no longer be able to make little fabric lust jaunt to HFF.
What ever will I do for inspiration?
(I've heard this sort of obsession crassly called "fabric porn." Yeah, that's just about what it is...I get totally turned on by the stuff.)

The good news is that I have learned the HFF is now putting pictures of all their amazing fabric on their website!

Oh goodie! INTERNET Fabric Porn!

Wonder if I should try to install a filter?

We pulled ourselves away and next headed down into the heart of Houston, AKA
"Houston Public Library"
The downtown main branch of HPL has been closed for about a year now while they did multiple millions of dollars of infrastructure improvement on the old building. I had read about the "new and improved" library interior design and was vacillating between skeptical and alarm.

Who better to go see "what was what" with than my fellow librarian Hope?

The retching sounds we made really did sound impressive in two part harmony.

Seriously...orange speckled tile floor and orange furniture with orange dots?

What is this...Switzerland or something, where EVERYTHING is orange?

And what the heck is with the painted concrete out front?
The whole thing looks like a Fisher Price toy gone amuck.
As citizens of Houston and card carrying members (OK, lapsed members) of the Texas Library Association all I can say is I felt deeply ashamed for our city's flagship library.

Every year the American Library Association features award winning library remodels and designs, and every year I wait to see how various cities have made their libraries classier and more welcoming structures.

When ALA see what Houston has done, we will be a laughingstock.

( I wish I had videoed Hope going off on the whole thing. I thought her head was going ot explode! You will be pleased to know that we both made it OUTSIDE of the library before letting fly with our evalutation of their remodeling efforts.)

We decided to take a peek at the park across from the library to wash the bad taste out of our eyes, so to speak.
The Caladiums were spectacular, and so fresh looking in the humid park.

It only took a few more minutes of walking about the downtown parks, and we were ready to head back home.


Anonymous said...

Lots of color, indeed! I'm looking forward to seeing what you find in SLC when you get settled in there.

Well, I could possible imagine that library decor being right at home in eastern Tennessee (where everything practically glows orange), but the retro chair fabric doesn't do a thing for me.

Vicki said...

Oops. That anonymous comment was mine. Sorry 'bout that!

Lovella said...

Oh Jill, I felt like this was my farewell tour of Houston.
.. .the fabric store. . .ooh aaah
.. .the downtown things to see .. the butterflies were amazing, you take such spectacular photos,. . . oh and the library, impressive sort of .. I'll have to take pictures of our small town library to put this one into perspective. You do wonder why people in charge pick what they pick.

Have a grand day at your library today. . .

Laura said...

Oh, mom! Your photos are just getting better, and better, and better! I am so impressed with you and your work! Especially the one with the tongue sticking out on the butterfly. Fantastic!!!
I am glad you and Hope had a smashing time.
Love you!

Sara said...

You saw so much in just one day...this post is a smörgåsbord extravaganza...I loved it.

What is up with that library anyway? It is already ugly, but it will be so very, very dated in a couple of years...and shabby looking too, in no time at all. How sad.

Ladygrande (Texas Marie) said...

The Julia Ideson reference library across the multi-colored patio and surrounded by trees was the library that we loved when I was growing up --- it is haunted, you know.

Anonymous said...

Wow!! I really enjoyed your pictures of the butterflies also, the fabrics were beautiful. It is a treat to view you blog each day. Thank you for the pleasure you add to my life. Thinking of you both. Love, mom S.

Kate said...

Well, perhaps the gorgeous butterfly garden sort of makes up for the tacky orange library???. Doesn't look very inviting for sitting and reading tho'. Does it?

Yay for on-line fabrics but nothing beats being able to touch it and see the true colors. Still looking for ways to use all my Swiss laces - a new lingerie line?
We'll see.

Thanks for the Houston tour!
K Q:-)

P.S. Aren't those caladiums?

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Good catch on the spelling Kate! I've changed it...

Marie: I think the old Ideson library is a gem...and it is a pity that Houston does not cut the money to fix it's current humidity related issues (mildew smell is overpowering.) I had a beautiful old library like that one when I was growing up. Modern libraries will never inspire people like the old ones did.

Julie said...

Hmmm... I love things to stay the same and I am really sorry that I won't be able to say any more that I have a friend in Texas. Are you moving just so you have more blog material?

I LOVED you shots of the butterflies AND the fabrics !!
I could very happily have spent your day with you...and gladly suffered the heat! We have a butterfly gallery just like that in the Vancouver Aquarium, which I found amazing! but I didn't get as good photos as you did! Maybe because I had a frightened granddaughter in my arms!

I agree that library decor would have had me scrambling for the door too !! Who could ever read in that place?? smile

Anonymous said...

Butterflies and fabrics! The day could not have been better! Thanks for sharing it with me, Jill.

You will see me in a costume in one of those furry fabrics for Mardi Gras in the future.