A Quartet of Mushrooms at Hildring House – Thursday Lagniappe

I want to share an August oddity with you – a quartet of mushrooms at Hildring House. But first, a word about the real weather story in Texas:

A Monster Called Harvey

The monster called Harvey attacked south Texas with a vengeance. Our hearts go out to those suffering from the storm.

We’re proud of the courage and caring that folks have shown one another during a difficult time. Texans demonstrated that they’re better than their problems, bigger than their differences. That, at least, shines through.

Friends from elsewhere inquired about our status here in the northern part of the state. Hildring House sits about 275 miles from downtown Houston. As mean as that bastard Harvey was, he didn’t push anywhere near this far inland.

Which is not to say that this summer has been “normal” for us. But our weather aberrations have been welcome.

Not Your Normal August

Typically, August is a brutal, viciously hot month. This year, however, we enjoyed what Houston and surrounds had all too much of: rain. Fort Worth’s Meacham Airport (a small commercial field north of town) recorded nearly 6-1/2 inches of water falling from the sky. In August.

The temperatures for the month ranged from a high of 100 (and even that is a bit lower than expected) to a fantastic low of 68 with an average for the month of 83.7. And that, my friends, is pretty wonderful. (For those who don’t believe it, you can check the National Weather Service data here.)

A Quartet of Mushrooms

The rain and the moderate temps fostered the growth of mushrooms at Hildring House – and a variety of them, at that. Here, for your Thursday morning “little something extra” is a slideshow of a quartet of mushrooms:

As this post was in the works, I learned of the wildfires in the northwestern part of the country. More weather devastation. If you’re adversely affected by them, please know that you’re in our thoughts and prayers.

No matter where you are, we wish you health and safety, peace and prosperity.

Best –

Dan

10,000 Steps Through the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery

Time Travel – Hong Kong 2009 – 10,000 Buddhas Monastery

Today we’re journeying back in time, up a mountain, and through the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery in Hong Kong.

It’s mid-March, 2009. We’re in Hong Kong, enjoying a trip that Debra won (yes, that’s what I said – she won) courtesy of Central Market, a wonderful up-scale food store in Texas, and Intercontinental Hotels.

[There is a story behind her winning the trip – aside from the fact that she is a lucky lady – but that will have to wait for another day. Trust me, I took something like 1,200 pictures on that trip, so there is a lot of material for posts. I’ll tell you the “winning story” in connection with one of them.]

We see something in a guidebook or somewhere about a place called the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery. How can we not be intrigued? So we go and find it.

10,000 Buddhas – But What’s an Arhat?

The 10,000 Buddhas Monastery is on the side of a small mountain. The Wikipedia site –  you can find that here – says that you access it by means of “431 ‘steep steps’ … surrounded by statues of arhats – the Buddhist equivalent of saints who have achieved enlightenment.” Since it’s 2009 and if Wikipedia is even a thing, we’ve never heard of it, we don’t know anything about the 431 steep steps. Or the arhats. (I’ll call them “arhats” in this post since I have the benefit of 2017 research. But back in 2009, we don’t know anything about them.)

We figure out the steps pretty quickly.

Beginning of the ascent
The beginning of the path. It gets steeper.

 

We’re not sure what the arhats are, but they’re pretty cool.

ascending path and arhatsEach one is different – not just in facial features, like the terracotta warriors – but in dress, demeanor, and personality. And degree of weirdness. More about that later. Continue reading “10,000 Steps Through the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery”

Hildring House – Home is a Haven

Home is a Haven
I’ve tried several times recently to write a post and have been overwhelmed by all the negative things happening in our world. Many of my friends and fellow bloggers have written eloquently about resistance and love …. and I feel as if I have nothing meaningful to add. And I know that, at least for me, when there is so much darkness all around, it is even more important that my home is a haven – a beautiful, safe, and nurturing space. It is from that place of peace and calm that I can go out into the world and try to spread  peace and calm.
kishaniperera room
not Hildring House – from kishaniperera
I keep walking away from my posting attempts thinking to myself: “How can I write about pretty places and sparkly things when there is so much darkness?” But on Sunday I had the opportunity to make things pretty and serve a girly lunch for two of my good friends, and I felt so much lighter.
A Paris Party

Continue reading “Hildring House – Home is a Haven”

Lo-Tech Eclipse Lagniappe

A total eclipse must be an awesome thing to experience. Here in North Texas, the occlusion was at roughly 75%. Despite the lack of totality, eclipse glasses sold out weeks before the date. I opted for lo-tech eclipse viewing. But it worked. It’s a bit of lagniappe, while Debra works on another Hildring House post.

Materials at Hand

Cardboard and shadowA hunk of cardboard, ripped from a box of something or other, with a hole poked by Phillips-head screwdriver made a basic viewer. Why a Phillips-head? Because I couldn’t find our ice pick, if we even still have an ice pick, and because it’s round. I did have to trim the fuzzy edges of the hole with the kitchen shears.

Image on concreteAs the occlusion started to show up in the image, I was disappointed in the quality of our driveway as a screen. So I went inside and grabbed a piece of printer paper.

Improved Visualization

Point of Maximum OcclusionThis picture, taken at 1:08 CST shows our maximum occlusion. You can also see the image at the edges of the cardboard (most notably at the ragged lower right-hand edge) and – my favorite – in the gap between my finger and the cardboard.

Here’s one more from a few seconds later:

Another image of the eclipseLo-tech eclipse viewing was a thing, apparently. I’ve seen some really cool images across the web of hundreds of eclipse-crescents made by everything from tree leaf shadows to a colander held above a white foam board (quite clever, that one!).

The best thing about the eclipse was that, for a few minutes, the whole country had its attention turned in the same direction, observing a natural phenomenon far, far bigger and more wonderful than any of the issues that divide us.

We all walk under the same sun.

I hope the rest of your week is peaceful, pleasant, and prosperous.

Dan

Hermitage in St. Petersburg – Wishes for Your Thursday Travel Lagniappe

The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia is an amazing place. We don’t have time today for a full visit – one day, we’ll do that. It’ll be worth it. But for now, let’s just indulge a little local legend for your Thursday Travel Lagniappe.

The Hermitage in St. Petersburg
Hermitage Facade
It is enormous

Originally the Winter Palace of the Romanov family in Russia – from Peter the Great to Nicholas II – the Hermitage in St. Petersburg is an immense, sprawling museum. The building is actually several buildings but there is no way to tell when you leave one and enter another. It boasts over 1000 rooms and they’re all huge – like a couple of thousand square feet, each. The whole thing covers several city blocks.

And every inch of it is impossibly ornate.

Ornate staircaseSomeday, when we do our full tour, you’ll be able to see the scale and grandeur of the place. For now, the picture above should give you some idea of what I’m talking about. Continue reading “Hermitage in St. Petersburg – Wishes for Your Thursday Travel Lagniappe”

Pretty Pictures-not Hildring House (sadly)

I am wishing I had some pretty pictures of Hildring House to show you today … but sadly, nothing new is “finished.” sigh. So let’s look at some pretty pictures not Hildring House.

Bedroom from Amber Interiors
Amber Interiors
Design ADHD

One of the things I love about blogging is the fact that I am encouraged to ‘finish’ things. It’s my deepest darkest secret- I have design ADHD. I get 80 percent finished with a project and in my mind, I can see it as completed. So I just move on to the next thing. Since my “minds eye” does not photograph well, I’m forced to finish things for real if I want to share them with you. This is, in Dan’s opinion, much better than my prior solution of “just sell the house.” That’s how, in the past, I forced myself to finish things: sell the house. That’s pretty motivating.

Dan here – the “sell the house” solution was a great motivator. Debra is a dynamite realtor and she knows what will, in fact, sell the house. The problem – besides moving all the time – is that she would finish things beautifully and we would get to enjoy them for about 10 minutes. My goal for Hildring House is to be able to bask for a while in the comfort of a completed project. Keep following along and root for me, won’t you?

The Mid Century Ranch- an Example of Design ADHD
Mid Century Modern kitchen after
Photo by Trey Freeze
Family Room View One
Photo by Trey Freeze

The two pictures above are house-selling photos of the Mid Century Ranch. Eleventy-seven projects finished 5 minutes before listing photos were taken. This was the first project covered in the blog. While many of those posts don’t display properly – my fault, entirely – you can find a slideshow of the transformation here
Continue reading “Pretty Pictures-not Hildring House (sadly)”