mellicious: pink manicure (Xmas excess)
Things that made me happy today:
-- coffee
-- the necklace I made to give my mother-in-law (blue and green Czech glass)
-- reading So You Want to Be a Wizard (more A Wrinkle In Time than Harry Potter, but good)
-- shopping, even though I didn't buy much
-- the holiday decorations on the gigantic houses in the River Oaks area in Houston
-- sourdough bread from Central Market


So I made my more-or-less annual trip into the horror that is Houston traffic today to go shopping. The traffic wasn't really too too horrible, and in fact I drove around considerably more than I really needed to, just to look around. In fact, I think it's fair to say that the purpose of these trips is as much to get in the holiday mood as much as it is to actually shop. I generally do get some shopping done, just the same. (See last year's entry for actual numbers, although I didn't spend anything like that amount today.)

I usually do this on a Thursday or Friday, and so I was trying to decide how much of the reduced foot-traffic I saw today was the economy, and how much was just that it was Tuesday. I suspect it was both. There were a lot of parking spaces at Highland Village, but the stores I went in mostly seemed to be doing decent business - except for West Elm, which was almost deserted. There were a lot of people in Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel - particularly the latter. There was an exceptional number of very fashionably-dressed women in Pottery Barn, but that may just be that women like that don't work and so they're free to wander around shopping on weekdays. Or maybe it has something to do with that this particular Pottery Barn is about two doors down from Tootsie's, a very chi-chi women's clothing store. I don't know. Usually I buy some ornaments and stuff like that at one place or another, but today I didn't. That might have partly had to do with the economy, too - or it might just be that I can't really justify buying ornaments for the tree I haven't bothered to put up.

I spent the most money in Central Market, actually. I don't think I'd been in there in a couple of years, and I'd forgotten how much stuff they keep around this time of year that's gift-able. We are supposed to be holding down our gift-giving to the minimum this year, more or less, but I sabotaged that by buying, among other things, a big jug of maple syrup for Rob. (Is that a weird gift? He had expressed interest in having some, and it's very expensive. [livejournal.com profile] columbina has already informed me that giving my father-in-law apples is a rather odd choice, but Rob came up with that idea so I don't take any responsibility. I just bought some nice organic apples that looked like they might survive the trip, and I added some locally-grown honey to it, that seemed like something most people would like.) (Also, I pointed out to Col that if the apples came from Harry and David and cost about three times as much, nobody would think it was odd at all. Which he agreed was a valid point.)


Something I noticed on the tollway coming home - and to a certain extent in Houston proper - is the number of roofs still held together by blue tarps. There are still quite a lot of them, three months after the storm.


Today's Holidailies prompt was "Write the annual holiday card/brag letter for your family." but I have already done that. (And I wouldn't exactly call it a "brag letter" except in the sense of "Can you top this?" -- Which, come to think of it, is one reason I didn't send it to people who are local - because many of them can.)
mellicious: pink manicure (fall leaves orange)
My aunt was shocked, SHOCKED, to find out that somebody in her family was pro-choice. Heh. (I refrained from pointing out that since she didn't speak to any of us for nearly 20 years, she doesn't really know me very well.)

She seems truly to think that Obama is insincere. I see plenty of faults in Obama, but I do believe he's sincere in what he's trying to do. (I started to say, "What do y'all think?" but since my friendslist is pretty overwhelmingly liberal I suspect you guys are mostly going to agree with me.) The fact is, I see the world in such a different way from my relatives, maybe the meme below is right.

Not that I didn't know this already )
mellicious: Retro Houston Astros logo (Astros - retro)
We had Astros tickets last night, so we decided (or *I* decided, really, and Rob didn't object) that we should go to The Cheesecake Factory and eat beforehand, because I wanted to go to the Container Store, and Cheesecake Factory was the only place I could think of to eat that was close to there. (I probably need to expand my Houston dining horizons, but the fact is that we go up there so seldom any more that I don't keep up with the comings and goings of restaurants, much.) I was hoping that the crappy weather would mean it was less busy around the Galleria, but if so it wasn't enough that I could tell it. The weather really was bad, rainy and extremely cold by Houston-in-April standards (it was something like 41 last night), but there were still tons of people around, and the traffic was terrible as usual. We got in & out of the Container Store pretty fast - minus $50 or so and plus various storage boxes, bags, and a DVD tower - but Cheesecake Factory was already packed when we got there at 4:00. The game was at six, so that was cutting it awfully close, but we only ended up missing a few minutes. We had to wait to get seated, but asked for the check as soon as the food came, and that gave us enough extra time to just about make it. It was the end of the first inning by the time we got upstairs to our seats.

Neither one of us had been to a game in a good while - since toward the end of the season in 2005, I think. I know we never did get around to going at all last year. And we enjoyed it. The Astros won, which helped. (It was the only game they won all week, actually. They're off to a really appalling 1-5 start.) We had darn good seats - heck, they should have been, they cost $22, I think, and they were in the upper deck. They're actually virtually the same seats I used to get when I had my mini-season tickets in the Astrodome - except that there they were $7 or $8, I believe. That was 8-10 years ago, so that's going up a little faster than inflation! Which is partly why we don't go so much any more. But anyway, they were almost behind the plate, and on the 3rd row of the upper deck, so we really could see well. And Oswalt pitched a complete game, and Berkman and Carlos Lee hit homers, and Biggio had a hit and two RBIs, so it was a good night.

Did nothing today. Played Auto Assault. Read some of Snow Crash. That's about it.
mellicious: pink manicure (Buffy quote: action fig deployed)
My mother's ashes are duly buried; we had dinner at a cousin's house and are now spending the night with my aunt. We are coming home early-ish tomorrow, so I will have time to get some GuildWars in, I hope.

Traffic in Houston was horrid. Apparently everybody in the world was going to Lake Conroe today, because once we finally got past there, it thinned out very abruptly. Luckily, we're not planning on coming back the same way we went - we went straight up I-45 today, because that's the direct route to get to my mother's hometown where the cemetery is, but from my aunt's house in Bryan it's easier to come back down highways 6 and 290. And we're leaving well before noon, so hopefully that will also help.

I would normally be bemoaning the time change, but lately my sleep schedule is so screwed up any that I'm not at all sure that switching to DST will make it any worse. It might even help. I can hope, anyway.

Art and I both wrote letters to my mother (Art said his was "more of a note") and we put them in the silk urn wrapper, along with a couple of things I found in her purse that I thought had particular meaning to her - one was a picture of Parker, her grandson; the other one was the Apostle's Creed, which may require a little more explanation. The thing is, she changed from Baptist to Methodist to Lutheran in the last 10 years or so of her life, and what you have to understand is that she had been a Baptist all her life, and Baptists don't say the Apostle's Creed. (Y'all know what I'm talking about, right? "I believe in the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth..." ? That.) Well, so she wanted to memorize it so she could say it along with everybody else, but for some reason she had a terrible time learning it. She would cut copies of it out of the church bulletin and places like that, and leave them strewn around the house. And she would make both me and Art quiz her on it. So when I found one of those copies, on a little strip of paper in her purse, I thought it seemed appropriate to put it in. Maybe, whereever she is, she'll find time to finally learn it.


Adding on to say that what I said in this entry - about how burying her ashes in the cardboard box from the funeral home might be the most environmentally sound option - turned out to be incorrect, because when I steeled my nerves and opened the thing up, there was a plastic box inside that, a fairly solid one, and pretty thoroughly sealed closed. I suppose we could have opened it if we had needed to (after all, what if we had wanted to scatter them?) but we didn't, really, so we left well enough alone. Funeral homes must have a standard size for these plastic boxes, becuase one was also sent along with the fabric urn, and the two were exactly the same size. So we just switched them out. She is buried in the plastic box from the funeral home with her name misspelled ("Stanley" instead of "Standley") with the beautiful silk wrapper that nobody will ever see again, in the plot next to my grandfather. My cousins dug a good-sized hole - about two feet square and two feet deep - in what we hope is the right place, and we took turns picking up handfuls of dirt to throw back in, and then when it was all filled back in, my aunt said a prayer (of course that's not my kind of thing, but it was my mother's kind of thing and that's what matters, right?) and that was it for the formalities. We did go wander around the cemetery, which is filled even more than I knew with great-aunts and uncles and distant cousins, not to mention my grandparents and great-grandparents on that side of the family. I think practically everybody in the cemetery was related to me to some degree. They could have some pretty good family dinners in that cemetery.
mellicious: pink manicure (GW - black)

Mila & Allium (and Irma)
Originally uploaded by Mellicious.


I was thinking about what picture would symbolize 2006 for me, and well, the fact is, it's got to be GuildWars, because I spent an awful damn lot of time playing it this year. This picture is another one of the Wintersday quests. (Big version here.) That's Mila, my ranger, standing there with the bow as big as she is, and that's her pet flamingo in the foreground. (The flamingo is named Irma, and she's not just a flamingo, she's a combat flamingo, because that's what pets in GuildWars do. When you attack somebody, she goes squawking in, wings flapping and pecking away. Seriously, she does. She can do a fair bit of damage, too.) The big guy with the 'fro is Koss, who is one of the Nightfall "heroes" - a non-player character. And standing next to the giant stocking, looking very white indeed, is Columbine's necromancer Allium. There are characters called Margonites in the new game which are sort of shimmery and whitish (and transparent, actually) and we have been saying that Allium looks an awful lot like a Margonite in that armor.

I will have to look up how much time, exactly, I've spent playing this damn game, and report back. It's a lot. Well over a thousand hours, I think. But GuildWars - and [info]columbina - were two of the things that got me through what was otherwise a pretty difficult year. So I spent 20% or so of the year in a fantasyland - so what. It's a lot better than just spending the year watching my mother go downhill.



Um, ok. On to cheerier things. Sort of. I went to see my dad today, which I don't always think of as cheery because he tends to sort of drive me crazy. But it went ok. It was raining when we left Galveston, and I was worried that we would be driving all across Houston in the rain, but it stopped, and the traffic was light, and we got there pretty quick. (Under an hour and a half, anyway!) We went out to lunch and the first two places we tried were closed, which was kind of odd. We ended up eating in a BBQ place on the freeway. I didn't like what I had (beef links - they used a very odd recipe, I thought) but everybody else's food looked fine, so I think I just chose badly. Daddy behaved himself, apart from a totally incomprehensible rant about that had something to do with Mexican flags, just before lunch. (Supposedly somebody somewhere took the American flag down from a flagpole, and put up the Mexican one. Anybody heard of this? Because I sure hadn't.) I try to just ignore these things, because it doesn't do any good to argue with him, anyway. And that was the only major weirdness of the day, so I could deal. He has gotten where he just gets us gift cards, which is fine. I got one to Wal-mart, this time which isn't exactly what I would have chosen but I'm sure I can find some use or other for it. And I had told him to get Rob an Academy one, and he did, so Rob is already planning another shoe purchase. (Running apparently makes you obsessed with shoes.)

We got caught behind a wreck on the way home - it seemed to be a chain reaction wreck, from what we saw - 3 SUVs, which means that probably nobody was seriously hurt. I mean, we didn't see the wreck, we just saw the mess afterwards, after wondering what we were caught behind for half an hour or so. After we got home I made some nachos and then (surprise!) played GuildWars until 11:30 or so. We have gotten to the Desolation, which means we got to ride sandworms just like in Dune. Or sort of like Dune, anyway. (Also, GW seems to have changed the spelling from worms to "wurms" at some point since I started playing. I was wondering if Frank Herbert's estate threatened to sue them or something.)

 


Holidailies gold

 

Gridlock

Sep. 22nd, 2005 04:34 pm
mellicious: pink manicure (Mel - snow)
If you've seen the reports on CNN today about the massive traffic backups in Houston, that's more or less what happened to us yesterday, although we avoided the worst of it by making a big circle around the western edge of Houston. We left really early yesterday morning - before 8, which is incredibly early for us - and there was no traffic to speak of. The water was dead calm so there weren't even all the surfers that we usually get before storms. (The pelicans were having a really great time, though, by all appearances.) We got to my mom's on time, more or less, and got shifted around between cars, and got away, still really early and in light traffic. We had decided not to stay together, and so Rob and I started looking for a place to have breakfast. We were going along the feeder road to the IHOP and my attention wandered for a minute and I somehow managed to hit the curb pretty hard - and the tire immediately went completely flat. We thought at first we were going to get off pretty easy because a very helpful policeman came along and gave us a hand, and there was a Sam's right across the street from the IHOP so we thought, well, we'll just go get a tire there.

But it turned out about half of Houston called in sick to work yesterday (no big surprise, I guess, under the circumstances), so the IHOP was swamped (and we were starving by that time, too) and then there were only two or three guys working in the tire department at Sam's so that took forever, too. And by the time we got on the road again the nice clear highways were no more. We started around the Beltway - the outer loop around Houston - and it was moving at first, if slowly (they had even closed the toll booths), but after a while it really started crawling along, and we finally got off and moved over to Highway 6, which is further out, and then when that started doing the same thing, we went even further out away from Houston. We ended up going to Bryan via Rosenberg and Brenham and Caldwell, which if you look at a map is a good bit out of the way, but we got there in 7 hours (from the time we left Sam's), which is apparently much faster than other people got anywhere. (About three hours of that was actually in Houston traffic, but even after we got out on the little two-lane road in the middle of nowhere, there was still enough traffic that it backed up for 5 miles or so at every light. Just crazy.)
mellicious: Retro Houston Astros logo (Astros - retro)
(If you're not from Houston and don't know anything about Houston, don't bother. You won't get it.)

You might be from Houston if:

Read more... )

Hmm, it's times like these when I need some sort of Texas-themed icon.

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