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Chau and B.J.'s notes from Space City

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We took a break from cleaning to view Seeing Stars at the Menil this weekend. I thought this section from the exhibit catalog was a good intro to the show:

The exhibition’s title, taken from the familiar experience of “seeing stars” refers to the physiological anomaly in which the stimulation of the retina by the brain creates the illusion of flashes of light, colors and shapes. Evoking this phenomenon, the works on view suggest that creative vision is perhaps most interesting when one’s eyes are shut to the outside world and inspiration is allowed to well from within.


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The room was dimly lit, I’m guessing because with a lot of outsider work they wasn’t archival? Upon entering, I was excited to see a Henry Darger piece in person (a huge 9-foot scroll), but around the wall was the highlight for me, works by Charles A.A. Dellschau, an outsiders artist whose work was discovered in a landfill by a furniture dealer, lost under carpets, and then found by a student at St. Thomas. His combined so much of my favorite things: circus-inspired letter and imagery, watercolor and collage, secret societies, and a fascination with early flight. Read more here.

My other favorite pieces were tattoo drawings by I.E. Requier that also had a touch of circus imagery. Unfortunately, I can’t find anything about the artist online and photos were prohibited at the Menil. I need to remember to go back a few more times before the show ends!

 

I’m pretty sad this summer is coming to a close. For the first time in a while, things were wonderfully uneventful—no graduations, no moving trucks, no wedding planning, etc.—so the slow pace took some getting used to. As a teacher, I usually get up at 5:45, then I’ll get home between 4-5, and afterward I do some grading/planning in the evening. So, when my day isn’t crammed with things to do, I feel like I’ve been unproductive. I know, a little crazy. It took some adjusting, but I’m so grateful for the chance to travel, see family, celebrate other people’s weddings, and have some lazy days watching shows on Hulu. These past two months flew by, and this weekend will be my last “free” for a while.

Visiting Installations Antiques has been on my to-do list for some time. Located just a few blocks away in a former textile factory, it’s a hidden treasure. Before we stopped by, we had a hearty brunch next door at Krafts’men Baking. I’m pretty sure my jaw fell wide open the moment we walked into Installations. The quantity of unexpected and beautiful things just overwhelms you. We met one of the owners and her down-to-earth warmth made you feel at home, like you were a friend and not merely a customer. I couldn’t stop thinking about all the unique antiques, furniture, and trinkets they had (and staged so beautifully) in the rooms.

I left with some canning jars from Germany to store supplies, but this flat file is the first thing I’ll buy when my pockets deepen.

I’ve been waiting for Down House to open for a long time. Each time we drove past it, I would lean over and check to see how much has changed in their renovations. Finally, this past weekend, BJ and I stopped in for brunch, and we shared a pulled-pork torta and whole-grain waffle. Both were delicious and now I can’t wait for them to extend their hours (until 2AM—perfect!) . I couldn’t ask for better timing with school coming to an end, and with it being BJ’s turn to take the car. I now have a hangout spot that I can walk to!

The good things that can get lost in the craziness …

A made bed, a trip to Sloan Hall where we picked up a piece from the Dream Collective aka my strawberry earrings and a shield pin for BJ, a resilient plant and organized home, afternoon naps, a gifted bowl from ND’s ceramic sale (Thanks, Tien!), shrimp tacos for dinner from Goop via L.A in Bloom, sisters sleeping over and a trip to El Bolillo for cheap, delicious pastries, taking my mom to see the MFAH Impressionist and Post Impressionist exhibit before it leaves, and a belated  Mother’s Day Cake from one of our favorite recipes -Orangette’s Marmalade Cake with extra orange and lemon juice)


all photos taken with iPhone + instagram

This morning, we headed to the East Side Farmer’s Market for the first time and picked up passion fruit sorbet, a box full of ripe peaches, and Indian food. We’re trying to be better at using everything we buy, since groceries seem to suck up a lot of our money and there’s a trip to Portland coming up very soon. Sometimes, Totinos pizza does the trick (so bad, but so gooood).

With the school year wrapping up and the multiple ridiculous bomb threats (3 days in a row!) that have disrupted any attempts to finish up lessons, it has been the craziest month at my job so far. One and a half more weeks and I’ll have less commutes and side projects can commence!

Mark Bittman, aka the Minimalist, drops some serious science in his Food Manifesto for the Future at the NYT. He uses the word “sane” a lot when he’s driven to talk about these things, which underscores the fact of the matter: that the way we eat, end to end, farm to table, is insane.

His points start with the government, which has, let’s be honest, been asleep at the wheel at best, in the pocket of industry at worst. So he wants us all to tell them to

  1. quit paying for processed food (which frees up $ for the next points). A mess of subsidies keeps the more heinous food-esque items cheap.
  2. start paying for real food. Time to make those subsidies work for us.
  3. reorganize and better redistribute power among the relevant agencies. USDA’s in bed with business; FDA’s lacks the muscle to lay down the law.
  4. start paying for food education, to promote home cooking. Not everyone can rely on their moms; moms have lives, too.
  5. tax the merchants of junk food.
  6. guide us away from waste and toward recycling.
  7. put an end to false “healthy/natural” advertising. There’s enough sodium in some of these supposedly good-for-you soups to detonate a car, I think.
  8. start paying for research to take these gestures global. I want to believe that our country can still lead in other areas besides the export of Ashton Kutcher movies.

The gist: close Washington’s wallet to the bad stuff, then fork out the ensuing savings for the good stuff. In short, sanity. If only Bittman and Pollan could be installed as decision makers somewhere high up in our government, we’d not only eat better, but we’d also need fewer trips to the doctor. Until then, thank heavens for Obamacare. For now we can only do our part, in the kitchen and the market, and maybe at the ballot box.

Luckily, here in Houston, we have a fair amount of farmers’ markets available to us. For locals, here’s a list:

  1. the one by Rice, near the unnecessarily large stadium
  2. T’afia
  3. Urban Harvest at Discovery Green
  4. Urban Harvest at Eastside, between Richmond and Alabama
  5. Highland Village (which I guess is now part of the ever-expanding Urban Harvest empire now, too)
  6. Canino’s on Airline (more accurately: an open produce market; allegedly a go-to for restaurateurs)

- B