throwback, Travel

Travelogue 2015: April in Texas


Last April (2015) I flew out to Houston to visit my friend Arielle and to check out some of Texas’s famous wildflowers. We had a lovely time visiting and hanging out at some of her favorite local places (including my second-ever trip to this awesome shave ice stand) and Did Texas Wildflowers.


One of our stops was at a botanic garden, where they had a tiny fairy village set up along one of the trails. There were also dinosaurs roaming the grounds and it was a completely magical place. (And if I’d written this back when I actually visited it, I would remember the name of the garden without having to ask Arielle.)


Part of the trip involved a short road trip into the middle of the state, and a hike at Enchanted Rock (above). Even though it was overcast, it was beautiful, and the smooth rocks made the plants seem to glow in the low light.


We also passed entire fields of wildflowers that looked like someone had scattered paint across them. Of course I had to get a closer look.


Gorgeous, no? The coral ones are called “Indian Paint Brush” and the yellows are Black-eyed Susans (or, that’s what I’ve always called them). We saw so many others, I could probably make a whole gallery of them.


And then, of course, we had to find the Full Texas, aka a longhorn in a field of bluebonnets. We did a lot of other fun things, too, including Houston’s Japan Festival where we took part in a tea ceremony and ate some really good food.



We also went strawberry picking (and made preserves) and ate at I can’t even tell you how many amazing places, from the Blue Bonnet Cafe to Cooper’s Old Time Pit Barbeque.


So there you have it. My trip to Houston in a nutshell. Many thanks to Arielle and her husband for putting me up (and putting up with me!) and for hauling me all over Houston and hill country! ^_^

this and that, throwback

BEDA Day 1: Throwback Thursday

baby photo with Pepper

Well, it’s August 1st, and I’m going to try something a little different. There are going to be THEMES for different days of the week. Think you can handle it? Thursday is going to be Throwback Thursday (you’re welcome, Internet) and you’ll get whatever old photos (and maybe associated memories) I can dig up. This first photo is of me with my dog, Pepper. I’m about a year old in this photo, and wearing shoes with bells on them so my mom wouldn’t lose track of me. I thought Pepper was HUGE, though she probably didn’t weigh more than 30lbs, and I remember really hot summer days when we’d lay down on the back porch (not the one in the picture, the one at the next house) because the cement was shaded and cool. I also used to share my sugarcane with her, which is why I suspect I stopped getting sugar cane…

baby family photo in FL
Here we are at my grandparents’ house in Florida. This photo was taken by the babysitter, and I know that because there’s a matching photo with her in place of my mom, and I’m actually LOOKING at the camera because I’d look at my mom and not other people for photos, at least according to my little survey of the pile of old photos I have. My cousin, aunt and uncle are also in the picture, my dad’s holding me and my mom is in blue.

baby photo, stink eye

Aaaaand this one’s my favorite. Sometimes (okay a lot of times) toddlers just look drunk as they try to figure out how their muscles work, and this is one of my looking-like-a-drunk-toddle pictures. HA.

Y’know, this face looks a little familiar….

Comparative Facemaking.


holidays, musings, throwback

Revisiting Childhood: The Valentine Ritual

Just a little memory I had tonight…

When I was little, my grandparents came to visit us quite often. Thinking back on it, they were probably at our home every other month. It certainly felt like that, anyway. Because of this, they would always come visit for Christmas, and then be back sometime around February. And every year (at least in my childhood-memory), my grandfather would buy me one of those big, red Russell Stover hearts. The kind with all the different chocolates on the inside, when they used to be wrapped in little papers instead of in a plastic form like they are now.

And my grandfather and I had a ritual: every day we could have one (and just one) piece of chocolate.

Every afternoon, he would lift the lid off of the box and I would study them closely (in those days I didn’t like the coconut ones, though they are now some of my favorites) and choose just one piece. And then the lid would be replaced and he would put it away again.

Even after they had gone home, I still only ate one piece of chocolate a day until they were all gone.

There is something about that ritual that has stuck with me all these years, and the big, red heart-shaped boxes always make me think of him. I kind of miss that little ritual we had.

So tonight I bought myself a (small) heart-shaped box of chocolate.

And I had just one piece. ^_^


Joanna problems, throwback

Candy Corn Confessional

There are a lot of things from childhood (and even from early adulthood) about which I feel a certain nostalgia. These things range from the $.05 candies (always “tutti frutti”) at the corner store in Edisto when I was 6 to being in Chapel Hill for Halloween during college. In both of these cases, as well as many others, I feel that if I ever tried to go back and recapture the moment as it exists in my head, that it will forever be ruined. Memories last a long time, but those impressions are fleeting in a way, where going back has too much potential to disappoint. Some things are best left to memory lest they turn out to be less than wonderful. It’s quite a bit like the sleigh bell in The Polar Express that eventually stops ringing as the magic of childhood fades.

By the same token, there are some things, mostly very small things, that I have held onto even as I’ve moved farther into adulthood. One of these is decorating for Christmas at the same time every year; I always put up the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving, if not immediately after Thanksgiving dinner itself. This started off as a combination of excitement and convenience: my brother, sister, and I were always very excited to get out the Christmas decorations, but also (especially as we got older) Thanksgiving was one time when everyone was in the house and it could be an event.

But there is one little tradition I have that hasn’t quite faded. Every year I wait for the arrival of the Halloween candy, not because I like Halloween candy specifically, but to get my hands on Brach’s candy corn and pumpkins. (Yes, it has to be Brach’s.) For some reason this particular flavor from childhood has never changed to my palate (I once liked circus peanuts, for instance, and now find them disgusting) and I buy a bag each year. These pumpkins have decorated birthday cakes, have been used as toys, and have been my favorite fall candy for years.

There is a part of me, though, that almost dreads the candy corn because I feel like at some point my tastes will change and I will open my little orange packet and the pumpkins won’t satisfy because I’ll have outgrown the sugary sweetness. I have already found that most sugar candies aren’t good to me any more, but so far the candy corn is still just the way I remember it. And in a strange way, that’s comforting.

navy life, throwback

Old Photographs

It’s funny how there seems to be a point in the lifespan of a friendship when you start to reminisce. Usually with photos.

I’ve been wondering how long you have to be friends with someone (or if there are specific experiences you have to share) before you can really reminisce.

Tonight, though, I was reminded of a sandwich that was sent to me via email; J was still in Italy and he and his friend wanted to include me in their lunch or dinner or something and got the idea to mail me a sandwich… until I pointed out it wouldn’t survive a week in transit. So I got this:

I like the photo because it also shows the view from the friend’s house at the top of the hill where he lived in Italy… but also because it’s just plain funny.

The other funny thing about Navy friendships (and military friendships in general) is that you never know when someone is going to turn up that you haven’t seen in a while. And then I get asked if I remember a certain sandwich….