Inspired By Houston

I am a chronic dreamer. For the past several years I have pined away about where I live. Each time I visit a new and scenic locale, I want to move. This sickness took hold of me and has ruled my life. Seeds of dissatisfaction were sown and all I could think about was what I didn’t have. Then, just as I worked to adjust my attitude, we would go someplace new and the cycle begins again.

Two weeks ago we were in Arkansas looking at property for just such a move. Several days into it I tapped my husband on the shoulder in the middle of the night and said, “Would you be mad if I said I wanted to stay at 2434?” Bleary eyed and confused, he said no and went back to sleep.

We spent days in beautiful locations and could envision this new life; however, in the stillness of the night, that small, still voice reminded of what I have rather than what I am missing.

Houston

Ask most people outside of Houston to give you a one word description of the fourth largest city in the United States and you will likely get answers such as, hot, humid, traffic, crowded, crime, more traffic, but then at the bottom of the list might be food, friendly people, and even more traffic. As of November 1, 2022 I have called the metro Houston area home for the past forty-three years. Despite dreams of moving somewhere with better weather and less traffic, I’m still here. Why? I’m not sure, but I am starting to get used to the idea that this is home.

June 1976

I graduated from high school on June 11, 1976 and within a week had boarded a plane bound for Houston. I was to spend the summer with my best friend in a suburb of Houston called Friendswood.

She and I had both lived in Harlingen, a town in the deep south Texas region known as The Lower Rio Grande Valley. After our sophmore year of high school, my parents decided to move back to California and her dad accepted a transfer to Houston. That last night before we left, she and I drove around in her car, cruising through Sonic among other hang out spots; we drove past homes of boys we thought were cute, all while listening to the radio, laughing, and finally and crying as we said goodbye.

We spent two years writing letters with only an occasional phone call to bridge the gap. This, after all, was in the days before computers, cell phones or the internet. Long distance phone calls were expensive leaving us to pour out our lives out to one another in letters that were several pages long. It was a different time…in many ways a sweeter time. I miss hand written letters.

I left California on a Continental jet from Los Angeles International Airport – LAX for short, and landed some three hours later at Houston Intercontinental Airport, now known as Bush Intercontinental. I looked out the window during takeoff and all I saw was buildings, concrete, freeways and cars. To me, this was a normal sight. Most of the lush greenery, orange groves, and other forms of natural beauty had long since succumbed to development. What I saw on approach to Houston was green. Green as far as the eye could see. I was absolutely enchanted. At that time the land around the airport in Houston was undeveloped heavily treed land. I thought I had landed in a magical forest.

When Kay and two of her friends greeted me at the gate, the first thing I gushed was “This place is so green!” She and her friends laughed, but I didn’t care; I was on my first grown up adventure and like Mary Tyler Moore, nothing was going to stop me now!

The rest of the details of the summer are inconsequential to my story about Houston. When I returned home in August, I had a Reader’s Digest article about Houston becoming the largest city in the country by the year 2000. It cited the oil industry, space program, the medical center among other economic factors as the reason for their prediction. I can still see my family walking through the long tiled hallway from the gate to the exit telling my them they were “lucky I came home” and that I was going live in Houston one day. Ahhh, the arrogance and attitude of eighteen year olds who have just tasted a bit of freedom. Never once did it dawn on me to be happy to see my family.

Three Years and Three Months Later

On November 1, 1979, my ex-husband and I left Brownsville, Texas and pulled into an apartment in a part of Houston known as Champions Village. An elite master planned community in far north Houston, we were surrounded by trees. I had arrived back to the Houston I had fallen in love with.

In the years since then I have lived in nearly every corner of the city. I am not sure whether Houston rubbed off on me or I was divinely inspired to live in this city because we are very similar.

Despite the bad publicity, Houston is a friendly and welcoming city. It is the most racially and ethnically diverse city in the country. Cost of living, an abundance of housing and job opportunities make this a very good city to live in. Houston’s identity is closely intertwined the identities of people from other cultures. We have always been a place where everyone can maintain their cultural heritage while being members of a larger group of Texan/Americans. We are a blue collar town. Folks work hard and they play hard. We may not be as sophisticated as that other big city to the north, but we will feed you, care for you and extend the hand of friendship. There is a sophisticated side to Houston as well. From theater to symphony and opera, museums, many colleges and universities, art galleries, and it has become known among foodies as must visit town.

I want to think that Houston has brought out the best in me. Living here has helped me see the plight of others in a way I never did in California. I learned tolerance and became curious about things that seemed foreign to me. I matured here. I came as a twenty-one year old naive young woman in an unhappy marriage. Living here brought people and experiences into my life which allowed me to grow and become someone who could stand up for herself; I found strength and determination where there was none. When the time was right, I remarried and built a life with a man who loves me despite the grimy, messy parts. My daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren are all here. I have a life here that matters. I’m friendly, creative, kind, and like to think I make room for everyone…just like Houston.

So, despite the traffic and the hot humid weather we endure six months out of the year, I am inspired by Houston. Houston is home.

Peace & Love,

Sheryl

Heaven Is A State Of Mind

We just returned from a seven day trip to Arkansas. The purpose of the trip was to see fall color that is nonexistent where we live. The Ozark Mountains are closer that any other location where the changing of the leaves and the cool, crisp weather are almost guaranteed in October. There was also a secondary purpose. Ever since my brother’s wedding in Arkansas, we have toyed with the idea of living there. Lakes for fishing, trails for hiking, a slow pace of life in a state where the entire population is smaller than the metro area where we currently live.

As often happens when one sets their sights on something of this magnitude, disappointment is often just around the corner. Most of the southern United States suffered from a drought this past summer; this lack of water had a negative impact on the trees, thus fall color was not as expected. Beautiful, but not quite a match for my vivid imagination.

I tend to fall in love with virtually every new place I visit and then imagine what a life there could look like. Inevitably this leads to dissatisfaction with where I do live and that path is never a happy one. We decided to go back to Arkansas just to see if the reality matched the memory. Some of it did, other parts did not.

I have learned that upon a second, or third, visit to my fantasy home, without my rose colored glasses, I am able to see clearly what these new locations all have in common. None of them are perfect. None of them offer anything different than what I have here, except the landscapes are all pretty. And, in fact, this time that small still voice came to me in the middle of the night to remind me what I would be leaving behind if we were to move.

I always snap out of the funk. I resign myself to life in the hot, humid and rather unattractive place I have lived for forty three years. I choose a life where my family is close at hand. I choose a life where I have made memories which sustain and delight me. I choose to trust the voice that comes to me when I am at rest and receptive. That voice never leads me astray.

Image from @writtentospeak on Instagram.

This morning when I read this quote, I knew God was comforting me in my human disappointment. Arkansas will always be a place we go for the soul nourishment of natural beauty. Once refreshed, we will come home to continue with the life we have been given.

Peace & Love,

Sheryl

2309 N. Parkwood Drive

Five of my most formative years were spent in this home. It looked different in 1969. It was newer, had fewer plants in the yard, and to my childlike eye, much larger and more grand.

This is the house we moved into when we left California for Texas. When my parents told me and my brother where we were moving I screamed, in classic old Hollywood style, and asked if we were going to have to ride horses. I then ran to my room sobbing. I was just sure life as I had known it was over. Despite my dramatic response, we did indeed move to the end of the world.

Yes, literally to the end of the United States as the town where we moved was located in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. A literal stone’s throw from the Mexican border. I didn’t know it at the time, but Texas would wrap me up and make me an honorary citizen. I had found my place in the world and for all practical purposes I have spent the rest of my life here.

In my mind’s eye, the house is frozen in time. I can still see the terrazzo floors and the long hallway to the bedrooms. My brother and I would ‘skate’ in our socks down that hall and our poor dog could never get traction as she ran to chase a toy.

My bedroom was behind the window on the far right, my brother’s was next to mine and then the big window was the formal living room. Back then it didn’t have a garage. A carport was often the choice of home builders in the late 1950s. From the carport a small room was added that became my mom’s sewing room, and that led into the family room. This home was way ahead of its time as it had an open concept kitchen/dining/family room. And this is where most of life happened.

Fifty two years have gone by since we moved into this little midcentury home. The years have seen a great deal and taken their toll on both of us. Like me, a little saggy around the edges – nothing a little care and a manicure wouldn’t fix – but we are both still standing while providing comfort and shelter for our families and friends. The years I spent living in this home took me from a prepubescent girl entering the sixth grade (then still a part of elementary school) to a sixteen year old excited to drive and navigate the issues of high school. So much of who I am today began while living in this home in Harlingen Texas.

Going back to childhood memories is almost always a bittersweet activity. Nothing remains the same; time does not stand still nor should we. Life is meant to be experienced as we move forward ever evolving into the perfection for which we were created. Sometime there is value in a quick glimpse backwards before moving forward again.

~Sheryl

Textiles Make A Home

There is one singular item that transforms a hard square house into a soft, safe, and cozy home. No matter your decorating style, there are textiles to compliment and enhance that style.

Choosing Home Textiles

We have all wandered the isles of home decor and big box stores taking in the sights and smells of the season. Rows and rows of pillows, blankets, afghans (knit or crochet blanket), tea towels, curtains – window and shower, bedding, table linens, rugs, and the list goes on. And this is just the textiles; we are not going to talk about the rest of the home decor available. I have done my fair share of shopping at these places so this is not meant to impune these businesses. I just want to plant seeds for you to consider as you make choices about the items you bring into your home.

There is no doubt that the items available in the big stores are mass manufactured in countries that may or may not be ethical in their choice of materials, dyes, or how their employees are treated. While a sweeping generalization cannot be made on this subject, textile manufacturers around the world have historically been some of the worst polluters in the world. Fast fashion and fast, cheap home decor are contributing factors and I believe it is time to rethink the fabrics and items we surround ourselves with inside our homes.

There are so many things to consider when purchasing textiles for your home. How will you use it? How is it cared for? What is made of and where was it made? How much does it cost and will it have a long life span to make it worth the price? Each one of us must set our own priorities and make the purchases that fit our home, values, and budget.

Slow Home Fashion

The slow fashion movement has caused many to reconsider their clothing purchases. For many this has led them to sew their own clothes. There has been a huge renaissance in making clothes at home. Sewing for your home decor is a wonderful way to not only personalize your home but to also have total control over the products you and your family live with everyday.

Not crafty? Don’t have a desire to do any of the above, but you want to live in this kind of home environment? No worries, there are so many people out there doing amazing work. Do these items cost more? Initially, yes. But if you teach yourself to not buy into trends, but make investments in items that will bring you years of pleasure, then you too can curate a home that is beautiful as well as good for the environment, helps a small business, and is uniquely and completely you.

A Woolen Home

Part of my movement to a more selective and holistic home is by making and up-cycling as much as possible. Surprisingly wool is a fiber that is a wonderful and healthy choice for many home items, even some items that you wouldn’t expect. Having spent much of the past fifteen years in the yarn business, I am totally and passionately in love with wool. It is a fiber that is misunderstood but incredibly valuable. I will devote entire posts to in the future.

I had dreams of creating a business that sells handmade wool items for the home. There would be functional as well as decorative items. I adore Christmas decorating and love making unique and fanciful items for this season. After much planning I learned that I don’t like making multiples of anything and the process of selling just leaves me cold. Instead I have decided to be a champion of wool and all handmade items and the people who make them.

I believe there is room for wool in every room in the house. Come back or visit my Instagram account (@mycontinuousthread) to learn more about home textiles and get inspired to use wool in your home.

Until next week…Blessings to all

~Sheryl