Thursday, July 29, 2010

Galveston - Life Returns Two Years After Hurricane IKE




It has been almost two (2) years since Hurricane Ike blew through Galveston, Texas (about a 65-mile drive from where I live in Houston). Much of Galveston was a mess. Naturally, the worst part were the many homes and businesses that were destroyed and the effect that destruction had on people's lives. What many of us never realized, however, was the devastating effect the accompanying winds (over 120 mph or about 200 kph) had on the many oak trees on this island community. I recently learned that there is an accomplished artist who has carved (and I presume still is at work) many wonderful wood sculptures using the remains of the many oak tress that were felled by Hurricane Ike. The trees may have been destroyed, but wherever there was enough of a tree trunk remaining, that is where this amazing wood carving artist went to work. On a recent Friday (July 16 to be exact), the weather in Houston was perfect - no rain in sight - and I was reluctant to work that day so I chose instead to declare one day of vacation and drove down to Galveston Island and took in as many of these works of art as I could locate. Herewith I present some selected photos of some of the more unusual carvings. ENJOY ....

Each branch was painstakingly carved into a bird!

This remaining tree stump was transformed into a mermaid. And the house alongside this tree carving was quite beautiful!

Even small tree stumps provided just enough wood with which to carve out an angel .....

The tin man (from the movie, The Wizard of Oz) ..............

One of the few surviving oak trees in all its glory. I am fairly certain that each of these trees must be over a hundred years in age.

And after a morning of tree viewing, I walked through parts of Galveston's west-side "Historic District". I hadn't been to Galveston in several years and I was amazed at how many of the old homes (many no doubt destroyed by Hurricane Ike) have been lovingly restored to their former glory. If you are ever in the Houston metropolitan area, please take a few hours the visit Galveston!! And bring your camera!

A picture perfect row of restored homes awaits you in Galveston's Historic District.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

World's Largest Flower!

Another in a series of posts that I occasionally make when I am at home-sweet-home and NOT traveling!

Almost two weeks ago, I visited the Houston Museum of Natural Science to witness the blooming of what is described as the world's largest flower. [This particular plant species, which scientists call Amorphophallus Titanum, is a native to the rainforests of Sumatra, Indonesia.] The problem for me, however, was that when I visited the museum (Friday, July 9) the flower had not yet fully bloomed. Well, it is now - finally - starting to open up.

This flower is on display in the Butterfly exhibit ($8.00 USD admission price) which is located within the Houston Museum of Natural Science.
UPDATE (JULY 27th): Well, the flower has finally bloomed and is now, sadly, all gone. A final picture of the flower was captured. There were plenty of webcams showing the progress of the flower's growth. Now that the flower has bloomed, it is entering a dormant state and may re-bloom in several years. Maybe! While it was blooming over this past weekend, it reportedly smelled like rotting flesh!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Fourth of July

To all my fellow Americans - I wish you a Happy Fourth of July!

FYI: I flew to Frankfurt from Dammam, Saudi Arabia, on June 22nd and then home to Houston on June 23rd. After the usual one week to recuperate from jet-lag, I finally am caught up on chores .... although my expense report is still pending! We had a ton of rain last Friday, but I managed to drive home without getting caught in high water - a fear we Houstonians always have to watch out for especially during thunderstorms. As always, it's great to be home - sweet - home.