Saturday, September 22, 2007

Millinery: Autumn images

Glorious Autumn!

The perfect time for feathered hats.

I posted a few autumn themed hats on my side bar for your viewing pleasure. I hope they inspire you!

Several are from the designer Wayne Wichern, he who creates in the Northern California area. I do admire his work; you can see his website here.

He teaches too!

A quote from him:

Q: What (or who) inspires your work? Do you have sources that you go to for "creative recharging"?

WW: Leaves, I have an interesting thing for leaves and other natural things like seedpods, feathers, shells. You can see leaves interpreted in many in my hat trims.

There are only a handful of male milliners; Mr. John Fredrick (aka Mr. John, he who did all the famous hats that you think of when you think of old movie hats), Eric Javits, Frank Olive, Philip Treacy (he does Oprah and the Queen..)

There are probably a few more I should be naming here. I'll add the names as they come to me, and if you know a name of male milliner, be sure to add a comment and let me know.

Last night I pulled out my brown "autumn" hats, and gave them a try on. A new season, new fashion styles and a new hair cut puts a new spin on old hats. Hats that I was indifferent to last autumn now have captured my imagination.

I'll be posting a few of my autumn hats over the next weeks. Isn't it fun to find an old item in your closet that suddenly just is the perfect thing?

Happy Sunday everyone!

(Above: Gena Conti design. Sigh. She is just soooo wonderful!)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Last Day of Summer: Projects DONE! (and a rant: beware)

Whew...the summer of 2007 will be over by this time tomorrow. What a summer it was; a trip to Switzerland and Canada, loads of rain, two almost hurricanes, snakes, raccoons, parades and family visits.

I tried to get back into sewing this summer. Several projects were disasters. They were so bad that even I will never post a picture of the finished product.

Back in July I posted a blog about this fabric:
I just loved that fabric, and discovered I did not have enough to make what I had hoped to make with it. I decided to use it for just the skirt part of a duro. I got it sewed up, then realized that for me, a Duro is not so good.
But, being a good and faithful Blue Bird girl, I remembered to finish what I began, and today finished making the fabric into a skirt.

Not a sewing masterpiece; but it did utilize the bottom half of the horrible. horrible duro attempt. There are six panels in that skirt; I have just turned over the top, and sewn wide non-roll elastic onto the top and flipped it over, and sewn it again, with gathers on the sides only.
It is a cool, comfortable garment, perfect for a run to the store or to relax and read a book while sipping ice tea.
(It ain't bad for working a Saturday afternoon at the library either, with the addition of a green light weight sweater.)

I made a matching neck tie, which is dunked in ice water, then twisted into a rose at the neck, which keeps me mostly hot flash free.
Best part: The fabric matches my aqua Mary Jane Crocs.
Love my crocs.
Just love em.
You can see the neck tie here, and just for fun, I pinned a ribbon flower corsage that I had made awhile ago onto a white hat.
Not so sure it is really "proper" to wear a white hat after Labor Day, but then again I am not sure it is "proper" for it to still be over 90 degrees every day after Labor Day either.

At any rate, the hat is all set to go for next spring/summer.

It definitely was an aqua themed summer. I also sewed this sun dress (it hadn't been hemmed yet when I caught Bernie to shoot a quick picture.) The fabric is actually the reverse of the fabric's print; Bernie commented he liked the soft color of the backside, and I agreed with him.
I think I've got enough fabric left over to make a cap too...

Looking at the picture of the dress...ah, the tall girl slouch is still with me. Drop a shoulder, put out one leg and kind of sink down, try not to tower above the short folk. It doesn't really work, but it is something I subconsciously do. It's been ingrained in me since I was a school girl.
(Warning: Reaction rant comes next. Beware.)
Sometimes I put on a three inch heel and stand up straight when I am at a party and then I watch the tiny folks scurry into tighter circles away from me.
It's pretty silly having to choose between good posture or company.

I have to tell about a friend who is about 5 ft. 1 inches tall. Her son married a girl from a race that is notably tiny. The bride's family was so very difficult to deal with, that my friend declared she was going to wear three inch or taller heels to the wedding just to tower over them as a means to get even.
I'm still laughing about her considering height to be the ultimate power trip!
I never asked, but I wonder if she discovered what all us tall folk experience.
Not power. Anything but power. If anything, it makes you a target.
I'm taking water aerobic classes in the morning now. The first class I took was an evening class, the second class was a morning class. I stepped into the pool, positioning myself not dead center in the group, but more like at a 9 o'clock position. I was doing a little jogging and stretching to warm up in the water when the tiniest lady in the class raced over to me.
"You need to work deeper in the water. You won't get as much out of the exercise if you don't get down into the water. You need to move."
She tossed her head towards the other end of the pool, where the water was SIX INCHES deeper.
Like that would make so much difference. I had selected my spot because I am nearly blind without my glasses, and it was a place where I could sort of see the instructor.
Ms. Helpful stood chin deep in the water, but even with that, her body posture brooked no argument.
I headed down the pool, and was livid at myself the rest of the class.
Why didn't I just say "Thank you, but I prefer to stay right here where I can see?"
Answer: Being polite to smaller people is so fervently taught to us tall ones in elementary school that is is almost impossible to decline a request from someone who just barely comes to chest level.
Oh gee...looks like this reaction/rant is going to take awhile. I guess I'll just get it all out.
Laura told me about her first day at her new hospital. She showed up with a smile on her face, and the first words out of the mouth of the person she reported to was "Oh my gawd, you're so tall! How tall are you?"
Not "Good Morning!" or "Welcome to the staff!" or "Did you have any trouble finding the place?"
Now Laura is a bit more confident than I am. The double whammy of height and red hair has given her courage and grit like I can only dream of.
She said she smiled sweetly, and replied "I am 5 feet 11 inches tall. So, tell me, how much do you weigh?"
The woman was shocked. "How much do I weigh? You can't ask someone how much they weigh!"
"Why not? It is just a body measurement. You asked me how tall I am, and I told you, now I want to know how much you weigh."
(A very heavy lady was sitting nearby, and began to chuckle at this.)
Then Laura said, "You know, it is actually considered rude to ask people about their body measurements, but since you started it...."
She has often just signaled to people that she needs to whisper something to them when they ask her that question, then she whispers to them that what they have asked is considered a rude question, and that she thought they might want to know that.
Other times she is eye crossingly direct with people in a ways that are simply shocking. It just depends on her mood when the question comes up.
Last night I finally stopped into the new store near our house, Palis Royal, a clothing store. There was a section for "Missy" clothing "Petite" clothing and "Plus Sized" clothing.
I asked if they an area for tall clothing. I got a stare, and the information that *some* of the jeans come in taller lengths.
Other than that...out of luck. Nope, no area for talls.
I'm thinking of asking the water aerobics instructor if she could teach from the "deep" end of the pool so I can both see and have those extra six inches of water available to me. Miss Petite will just have to deal with it; doing the exercises in the six extra inches of water depth would probably drown her, but that isn't my problem now is it?
I'll bet if she tries really hard, she can find high heeled aqua shoes that will be just perfect to work out in.
(Reaction/Rant over...for now.)
And another try at the cap.

It is the third one I've made. Each time I am learning a little something; the weave of the fabric changes how much ease is in the cap, the height of the hem, and the matching of the six points at the top.
My goal is to make one a week to donate. I want to be able to make one in about an hour, and eventually also make some that are embellished with stitchery or bead work. I like the simple design.

Computers: New Every Day

One of most favorite comics right now is the one panel comic entitled The Dinette Set.
Yesterday's comic is the one above.

If you don't get it in your local paper, you can read it daily on line here.
The Dinette Set title is a winking reference to those of us who will never be members of the fast paced, oh so cool "Jet Set."

Most of us instead are "dinette set" members. We sit at our dinette set and view the world through our own world view."

World View: Meaning, things ought to be the way we think they should be, or as they used to be, and anything different is wrong, or worse, a threat.
We get in a tizzy when the price of stamps goes up, the number of letters in a zip code changes, or the way you have to open a product is redesigned.

We like things the way they were, and really hate learning anything new when we think the old way was just fine.

Yesterday my husband spent time helping his mom learn the basics of email, letter writing (AKA "creating a document"), and accessing my blog and daughter (her granddaughter) Laura's blog on her new, and very first computer.

All four of these tasks now have icon links on her new computer, but even with that, it is still challenging to a new computer user.
She is learning; it is stressful.
She probably thinks it is difficult because she is in her 70's.
She is wrong if she does.

It is stressful simply because it IS new, and new in so many ways.

Mousing is NOT an activity attempted in any other part of life experience. You just have to practice and practice until your brain/hand link gels, and then mousing is second nature, like popping a cookie in your mouth when you pass a plateful, even when you are not hungry. It just happens!

Now here's the joke: While my MIL was struggling to learn computer skills, my co-librarian Hope and I were struggling to help a student use the new version of Office Word that is now on all our computers in the library.

The new version has been loaded on all the library computers except the librarian's computers.
We librarians haven't had an opportunity to learn the skills necessary to do what we did as second nature with the older version of Word.

Spell check for instance: In the older version, as you typed, words that were mis-spelled automatically got a red underline.
You just had to click on the little "check" symbol, or go to "Tools" and select Spelling and Grammar, and boom, your writing was gone over and the mis-spelled words were either automatically corrected, or an alternative spelling was popped up for you to use instead.

Easy peasy...IF you had always used that version of Microsoft Office Word.

The new version has no "check mark" nor does it have "Tools". It doesn't even have a bar on top; instead it has boxes with words, none of which is "spelling."

My co-librarian Hope has taught Word, and both of us advanced degree holders flatter ourselves to be "intuitive" computer users after all the hours we have spent on the computer writing endless documents to satisfy academic demands.

We also have the handbook for the new Office Word version available to us, and Lord knows, if there is one thing we are good at, it is using a book to find information.

I am also really comfortable using a "Help" button.
I'm not proud; I'll hit a "help" button in a flash, and type in a word until I find what I need.

I just wish I was smart enough to do that more often. Generally I just mash keys until I really goof up a document, and then I have to leave the document, and take a walk until I calm down. Or have a cookie. Whatever works.

Hope has also viewed the five minute orientation video about using the new Office Word version. (I haven't, don't tell...)

Would you believe that last night the two of us couldn't find a way do a spell check on a student's document?
Hope eventually had the poor guy right click on each word, and then that would pop up a spell check option.
Imagine how laborious that was.

I got another student's document to "suddenly" start showing the squiggly red lines under each mis-spelled word.
I have not the vaguest idea how I did that.

Neither the Handbook nor the "Help" button gave us any help at all.

Hope, who is younger than me, spat out her utter contempt for the new Word version.
"They ruined it!" she moaned. "The other way was so much better!"

I am a bit more optimistic than she. I know if I can just have a crack at the new version on my own computer at work, I'll catch on well enough. It is just part of life now, learning a new way to do an old thing. In time, I won't even remember how we did it the old way.

The secret is to share information. There is always several ways to do anything on a computer. It is always interesting to ask someone else how they do what you are trying to do. Like I always hit "Ctrl i" if I want to use italics or "Ctrl b" if I want to bold something.
Just a funny habit I picked up when I was tired of using a mouse to scroll up to the icons when I had a long document with lots of italics and bolds.

When learning how to use a computer, it helps to have someone available to help. A child is usually the best kind of person to have around; I still credit a four year old, and two ten year old special ed kids for making me feel at ease on a computer.

None of them could read, yet they could fix anything I did that messed up the computer, and they acted like all my mistakes were part of a very fun game.

I wish I could find those kids and loan them to my MIL. They are in their teens now. I doubt they would be as comforting now as they were when they were small.

So instead my Mother in law, and I, and a huge segment of all computer users will just have to learn by trial and error, and by word of mouth, and by intuition and sheer luck.

We'll feel like the computer programmers are out to get us, and want to give up and not try, because we're not smart enough, or nimble enough or something enough.

At heart...we're all just Dinette Setter.
We feel threatened by change, and want to give up.

But like the gang in the Dinette Set, we'll keep trying.

PS: Mom and Dad D. and Mom and Dad S.: I'm SO proud that you are part of the tiny percentage of the people in your age brackets that have email and Internet. You guys are amazingly with it, and oh so brave to tackle the challenges of the electronic age. Don't stop, never stop learning!
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gray is the new black, and the new skin tone too.

You heard it here first:

The Houston Chronicle today announced that "gray is the new black."

I'm OK with that; I actually have started liking gray after a life time of avoiding the color as being too drab to go with my pale coloring.

But then the Chronicle went a step further:

"Customers are concerned gray might not go with their skin tone, but it's very easy to wear," said Charlie Flora, manager of Club Monaco in the Galleria. "It's not a flat gray. It's everything from a business gray to a mineral or makeup gray."

Make up gray???


I mean, I totally get the appeal of the Tin Woodsman in the fabulous movie "The Wizard of Oz," and the clever use of gray for make up in the movie "Pleasantville."

And I have found that an otherwise unflattering color picture of myself takes on a more agreeable charm when viewed in a black, white, and shades of gray.

But gray make up?

Where would you even go to buy such a thing? A goth shop? I secretly like some of the more romantic Goths, but even they don't wear gray make up.

Just to try this's how the idea of gray make up would play out:

Not sure which is better in real life (hAR! Wouldn't that gray make up look be a hoot at reference desk tonight?)
I do like the pheasant feather that is on the hat that I got a few weeks ago.
Another five buck ebay wonder.
A long pheasant tail feather with a pheasant feather pad in front of it.
That's easy enough to do; most crafts stores carry both of those item.
Just thought I'd share for anyone wanting to add a pheasant feather or two to a hat that is hanging around the house needing a new look for fall.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Millinery: Nordstroms update, Sally Victor and cap, take 2.

For everyone who is following the Nordstrom hat saga:
My Houston Hat Net buddy Marie (AKA: Landygrande) did make a run to Nordstroms yesterday and filed the following report:

My research at Nordstroms last evening revealed the following:
The hats are lovely, but they do not include the feathers. They are decorated with "fake" ribbon feathers - not as shown on the cover of the catalog. Nice though! It tried on several, and they fit - which was very surprising. Most ready-made hats are too small for me. The shoes were awesome! Wish I could wear them - I am short enough to need the height, but can't walk in them. The flats made me wish I had saved my Vegas money (almost, but not quite)! The shoes are worth a trip, but the hats are not, Jill.

Thank you Marie! I'm curious about the fake ribbon feathers now. And shame on Nordstroms for not featuring the hats as they are in reality. At least they are carrying hats, and if they fit Marie, who wears the same size hat as I do, then I must suppose Nordstrom is making an effort to accomodate a slight range of sizes.

Kate also left an astute comment, that hand bag designers are now doing hats, probably because the hand bag market is saturated. Good for them, and good luck with that...the architecture of hats is quite a bit more challenging than the architecture of a hand bag. This could prove to be very interesting.

I'll probably make a trip to Norstroms and the Galleria sometime this fall, just to see what is out there here in the Bayou City.

Changing topics abit...I've written about the hat designer Sally Victor before, about how she created loads of hats during the 1940-1960's.
The other day I spotted a Vogue pattern designed by Ms. Victor on ebay.
I bid; I won!

Gosh, I just LOVE that blue and white polka dot hat with the pearls and the ruby red lips!

I paid only about 12 times more than the cover price of the pattern, but that is probably a steal when you consider how prices have gone up on patterns since 1960, the year that this particular pattern was issued. (See proof in picture below...)

(Note the list of suggested fabrics)
I may also have mentioned that I have a college degree in Home Economics. I took fabric design course work, and had a pretty thick book which I had to memorize, which listed the names of all the possible fibers and fiber combinations available in fabric (back in 1975-76 at least.)

Each fabric had a chart listing the temperature at which the fibers would melt, the time it would take to fade at a specific UV level, how quickly abrasion could occur, breath ability,wicking, dye-acceptance...on and on it went. I spent hours with flash cards memorizing fabric names, and wondering why we were memorizing this, when it would be just as easy to look up the information at the time when we actually needed the information.

The book wasn't so heavy that it would have been impossible to haul along on a fabric purchasing spree.

That kind of thinking should have been my first clue that I was destined to be a reference librarian rather than a top fabric designer.

I'm sharing all that background information with you so you will understand my dismay when I looked at the list of fabric suggestions and realized I had never heard or seen the fabric names SURAH and BARATHEA before.

Maybe my Canadian sewers use that stuff all the time.
Maybe I did know about those fabrics at one time, but have long since purged the information from my grey matter.

Maybe I should ask Oregon State University for a partial refund on my tuition.

Yes, I have since looked up those two word.

Barathea: A soft fabric of silk and cotton, silk and wool, or all wool.

(Doesn't that just clear it up for you? So decisive! Really, what the heck is it????)

More research provided the information that Barathea was a trade name from 1862, and the fabric has a broken rib weave and a pebbly texture, and is made of silk, worsted wool or a synthetic fiber.

Now does that clear it up for you?

Not really...

Surah: From 1873, a soft twilled fabric of silk or rayon.
From India.

Sounds pretty...I'll have to ask for it the next time I shop at an Indian fabric store.

If you sew much you may have noticed that Vogue has always been a demanding pattern to work with. They are very thorough and specific in their instructions.

I think they went into overkill with this part of the instructions:

Put on a GIRDLE and heels to fit a hat?
I don't even own a girdle!
I'm just going to go ahead and make the hat anyway.
If it doesn't come out right, I guess I'll only have myself to blame for not following Vogue's explicit directions.

Wear a girdle to fit a hat.
Not on this liberated woman!
Frankly, I'm surprised they didn't think to dictate wearing a bra.
Now that would make sense, wouldn't it?

I'll let you know when I finish the hat.
It'll be awhile.
If you want to borrow a copy of the pattern, and have a girdle and a bra, and know where to get some barathea or surah, I'd be happy to pass it right along!
If you are itching to make a pattern that doesn't require girdles, heels or much time, I'm still pushing this one.
It is the second try at it, the first one went to Virginia. It came together even better this time, and I am excited about making more of this pattern to donate.
I decided to make a square scarf to match mine.
What do you think?

I always like cut and sew hats that have scarves to match.
With a plain shirt and black slacks, put 'em on and out the door, easy peasy!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Millinery: Now a "Top Ten" Item!

I am SO delighted to read in this month's Harper's Bazaar that the hat has made the top ten of "Must Have" fashion accessories for Fall 2007.

Anyone who followed even one fashion show, (or even just got a glance at one) couldn't help but notice that HUGE hats and TINY cocktail hats topped all the triangular shaped garments displayed on the catwalks.

Very cool!

Then, as I was longing for a touch of autumn, the September 2007 Nordstrom catalogue arrived in the mail. I sighed with pleasure to see this fabulous hat gracing the cover:

The magazine was very glossy, so it was hard to get a great picture (I really need to learn how to operate our scanner...) but you can see it is a wonderful grey fedora, with a sporty collection of autumnal feathers trimming the temple.

Love it, love it, LOVE IT!

I flipped through the catalog, desperate to learn who had created this millinery masterpiece, and how much it might cost.

And....I found zero information.
That's right, the most eye catching feature of the cover was given no additional data.

So I went to the online catalog.

Again....nada. Zip. Zero information.

Now as an Information Science professional, that got my dander up, so I grabbed the phone and called their toll free number.
After being warned that my conversation might be being recorded, I was connected to a pleasant sounding woman.
I asked her about the cover story hat.

She had no information.
She put me on hold with that seductive nightclub scene type music while she went to try to find something out.

She came back, saying it was "Fedora"

I told her I knew it was a fedora, I wanted to know who made it and how much it cost.

She put me back on the sleazy music while she went to try to find out more information.
Eventually (it was a while) she returned, telling me that the brand was "Fedora."
And that only a few stores carried it, and if I wanted one, I would have to order it.

I said I was actually interested in seeing it, and was there one in the Houston store.

Apparently the stores that do have it, have only one, and other stores who do not have the hat (which included all of Texas...) will have to request those stores with the hat share their one hat.

AND....I would need to go to my local Nordstroms here in Houston and make that request in person.

I said that was all well and good, but before I would drive down to our Nordstroms (an hour drive, by the way) I would want to know the price of the hat.


Now that was impressive. That is a really reasonable amount of money for this hat, as far as I am concerned.

Just to be sure, I said "So, if I want this hat, I have to drive down to my local Nordstroms, and request "Fedora" at $148, and they will ship the hat to me, right?"


I would need to drive down to my Nordstroms and ask them to look up which stores HAVE the hat, and they will need to know the UPC code.

(wait for it...)

And the UPC code is?

Number 429395941833

Now my husband managed to spend enough money on himself at Nordstrom to earn himself a personal shopper, a woman who makes it possible for him to breeze into a store, and have shirts, suits, ties, jackets, pants, and anything else he wants all ready pulled and in a dressing room awaiting his approval. She brings him coffee, and makes phone calls to find the items he wants in different colors or sizes. The items arrive in our home a few days later, or after the tailor fits the items to his body.

He loves this. I think it is amazing.

He wanted me to experience the same time saving service last November.
It was really interesting to have a woman I did not know racing around pulling outfits for me and grabbing various sizes and suggesting accessories for me while I sipped coffee in a private dressing room.
(Her taste ran to a much bigger dollar amount per item than mine does, but ultimately selling is her job. My job is to demand that the overpriced garment fits me. Three fitting trips later, I finally got what I wanted in pants.)

I think I will order this hat. I'll give the PS a chance to shine, and I'll probably have to return it because I wear a size 22 1/2.

I'll bet you anything that the hat is only available in size 22.

It won't fit, but I still want to see it.

And I know once I return it to our Houston store, it will stay in our Houston store, and maybe I get to see someone here wearing that hat on a fine autumn day.

And according to the lady on the phone, "Fedora" was a Nordstrom brand.
Why don't I believe that?

A few pages later in the same catalog was yet another cute hat.
It kind of reminds me of the vintage navy felt hat that one of my friends owns.
(Maybe she will post a picture of that hat one of theses days, after she sews up a coat to patent leather is going to be in this spring by the way.)

Nordstoms declined to tell anything about this hat in its catalog, but a few keystrokes later, I had accessed the Nordstrom's online catalog and discovered this cute cloche was actually velvet over felted rabbit fur, it was imported and was available in black or brown. No gray like in the catalog's picture.

Go figure.

At $118, it is a very do-able price.
At exactly 22 inches in size, only a few will be able to wear it, regardless of the price.
(Imagine selling only size 8 shoes...period. How quickly would most folks decide to no longer wear shoes? Pretty darn quickly!)

I think Nordstroms could be more "do-able" about their catalog, so I left them a comment, suggesting that the electronic catalog match the hard copy catalog.

What the catalog was really interested in informing us about was the fact that clunky lace up shoes like my grandmother wore will really look fabulous with scrunchy heavy socks AND heavy textured tights.
Personally, I like cable knit tights. I owned a pair for 30 years, and just ditched them last January.
I just can't quite picture cable knit socks with grey knitted wool scrunched socks and big ol' shoes on me.

Of course, if you can wear a hat, no one will be looking at your feet anyway, so this warm yet ugly style will be just perfect if Global Warming falls through and we have a cold winter after all.

But remember: Most body heat is loss through the head, not the feet.
If your feet are cold, just put on a hat!
You'll look cuter that way anyway, don't you think?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Galveston, oh Galveston!

Sometime you just have to take a break and head to the beach to get over a case of uninspired.

Not head east, to go the East Coast Shores, or head west, to go to a West Coast Beach.

Nope, for us, when we want to go to the beach, we head south.
That's what Bernie and I did Sunday afternoon.
We hopped in the car and headed a hour south of Kingwood, to Galveston Island, to visit the gulf shore.

"The Beach" around here means Galveston. We left around noon, and had lunch on what is called "The Strand," the main drag along the beach front.

A shrimp po'boy sandwich, and crab Gulf Coast can you get?

I'd never had crab stuffing before. It was good, but I'm not rushing to find a recipe.

After our nosh we drove west, along the beach. You can not imagine how odd it is for me, the girl who grew up three blocks from the Pacific Ocean, to say we drove west ALONG the beach.

But we did.

Along the way we rubbernecked the local beach houses.

Loved that screened in second floor porch.

If that was my house, I would be sleeping out there at night, listening to the sound of the gentle shore break.

I decided if I ever get a beach house on the Gulf, I think I'd like it to be this shade of blue.

I want all the white gingerbread trim and double stair case leading to the front door too.

I'd settle for this one though.

Bernie crossed the street and headed down the path to the beach to an area known as "Pirate's Beach."

The breeze was warm (not hot as it often is at the gulf beaches), and strong enough to whip up a little surf.

And my hair too....

What a pretty beach. There were just a few people, and horse hoof prints in the sand.

We asked on gentleman who was picking up flotsom and jetsome if he would snap our pictures.
Ah yes...our first date was at the beach, and we've had many many happy days at California beaches, Hawaiian Beaches, and Cayman Island Beaches.
It had been a couple of years since we visited our "local" beaches here in Texas.
I never can resist picking up a few shells when I am at a beach. Now I am happy to just take a picture and leave them behind. Thank goodness for that; otherwise we'd be up to our necks in seashells!

The day seemed to have a blue theme. These flowers bloom in clusters, and are the loveliest shade of sky blue.

Pampas grass always looks nice waving in the breeze around beach areas.

How cute is this for a mail box at the beach?

This house had everything I would want.
The double staircase, gingerbread, cute mail box...

And a wave shaped picket fence. How clever!
Not all beach front property is quite so adorable. Some are just boxes on stilts (stilts so when the hurricanes storm surges come through, the houses don't get washed away.)

Some look like someone put a temporary building or tractor trailer on stilts.
Hey, what the heck, once you are inside the house, you have the same view as the people in the fancy houses!

Texas coastal real estate is the most undervalued coastal real estate in America. A house ON the beach could be bought for $500,000. Lots go for $255,000. Amazing. Now granted, they may be blown away at anytime, but mostly, you just build with that in mind, and plan to rebuild regularly.

(Oh goodie! Imagine getting new EVERYTHING every ten years or so!)

One of the reasons that coastal property costs so little is because of the Gulf's water color. Affectionately known as "The Gulf of Yoohoo" after the chocolate drink, the water has a brown tinge, due to the red soil sediment that drains from the inland areas into the water.
The water is quite warm, often warmer than body skin temperature, in the low 90's. The depth is knee to thigh deep for a good quarter mile out.
And of course it is a warm humid area. No cool off shore breezes in the summertime for sure.

San Luis Pass beach was inviting. Hey there beach boy!

Galveston is also home of an awful lot of birds. Bird watchers regularly descend on the area to count birds and track migrations. This little guy was one of about five types of shore birds that I observed just in front of where we sat.

The road to the beach was bisected with a stream of fresh water. (I tasted, yeah, I know, I'm nuts...) This really puzzled me as the shallow water was flowing rapidly, and running parallel to the coast. Local borns: (this means you Kate and Marie...) any insight on this phenomenon?

One thing that I really like are the road side Historical Markers. I totally missed this shot, but the FYI that was interesting was the fact that slaves settled one of the beach in the area in 1816, and had a lace trade going to support themselves.
Seems like I am getting a theme going here, visiting the historic centers of lace makers of the world.
The view as we drove along, heading back to the city of Galveston. Love all the colors of the beach houses!

Back on the strand we got to watch some long boarders trying to surf the wind chop.
At least they got up!

The sea wall. I still marvel at the sea wall. In 1900, Galveston was the world largest sea port. A massive hurricane came ashore that year, killing 6,000 people in less than one day. 10,000 became homeless.

It was, and still is, the most deadly disaster in United States history.

It was simply horrific; the people of the world sent aid and sympathy.

The people of Galveston took all the wreakage and then added excavated sand pumped to the beach area, raising the City of Galveston up by 7 feet. The WHOLE city. The wall is designed not to withstand the winds of a hurricane, but rather the more dangerous storm surge.

Galveston survived as a city, but never recovered as a major port.

Recommended reading on the event: a book called Isaac's Storm. Facinating.

The guy who played Sam in the movie "The Lord of the Rings" owns the film rights to the book. It would make one doozie of a film. I hope he finds time and funding one day to make it happen.

All calm on this day.
Surf's up, sorta.

From the Strand we headed into the historic down town area. Cruise ships leave from nearby, so there are now all kinds of tourist oriented businesses.

It is kind of weird, as some places try for "Hawaii" themes, others go for Caribbean themes, then there is Texas themes, and New Orleans themes. Talk about an identity crisis!

I noticed a lot more of "Haint" blue being used in the area. That is the color that Caribbean Islander used to paint around their doorways and windows, believing that spirits or "haints" (as in haunted) were repelled by the color. It is a fun color, especially with raspberry. I just recently read an article about the color. Just interesting to know why it is in the area.

Another older building, with palm trees. I'm suspicious about palm trees. Were they really native to the area?
I know Southern California palms are all alien, and are dying off. The City of Los Angeles is debating what to do about replacing them.
Guess if they aren't local here, the same discussion will eventually be held.
Meanwhile, the tourist just LOVE seeing palm trees!

There are rows and rows of Victorian gingerbread type houses in Galveston; they have a feeling that mixes the Painted Ladies of San Francisco, and the Southern styles of New Orleans.

Some are in terrible condition, but little by little they are being snapped up and restored to their original splendor.

Galveston: A southern city, with a wild beach party alter ego, with poverty and wealth, history, and no zoning, a beach town that faces south. Tropical, hot, it's almost New Orleans, but not.

I never feel like I quite get Galveston.

Someday I'm going to go down to Galveston and spend two days taking pictures until I finally understand this curious place.
But for now, we had a wonderful day.
We got home and I made grilled blue cheese and pear on raisin bread sandwiches which I served with white Pinot Noir wine.
It was quite a tasty combination.
Not a bad way to end a day at the shore.
Thanks for reading along and I hope you enjoyed our trip as much as we did.