Thursday, November 15, 2012


Would you think me terrible if I told you how much I love, love, love my hubby's periodic trips to the Houston medical center? The thing is, the actual visit with his hypertension specialist takes only an hour or two at most, and doesn't involve any painful pokes or procedures, so there's nothing at all for him to dread -- and you just wouldn't believe how much fun we manage to pack into the other 30 or so hours of the trip! When my friend Paula saw my last post, about being up with the chickens for our trip to Houston, she assumed it was because we wanted to drive there and back on the same day. Au contraire. It was merely to provide more hours for fun!

This week's trip was the absolute best! It started off with me popping in an audio book (driver gets to choose, so I chose a Christmas story by Richard Paul Evans, called Promise Me) and hubby grousing all the way to Houston about my forcing him to listen to such a sappy story, but never dozing off once -- and I even caught him sniffling a time or two!

We usually stop for lunch at Beck's Prime as we pull into Houston. I never eat burgers in Wimberley. There is no one there that makes a burger worthy of all those heart-clogging calories. Beck's, however, makes an old fashioned char-grilled hickory burger that transports me straight back to my childhood with each and every bite. Sooooo worth the calories. But, because my hubby was packed and tapping his foot at the door an hour before we'd planned to leave that morning, we were in Houston by 10:00 -- a little too early for lunch, even for me. Fortunately, Beck's is right next door to a wonderful garden center that goes all out for the holidays -- not the one I used to work at, but the one I always went to spy on when I was looking for merchandising inspiration -- and this was the very best time to see it all, before things got picked over and depleted. If you don't think me a fruitcake already, you surely will when I tell you that I sang and danced my way down the aisles of almost every store we went into. You think I exaggerate? Just ask my hubby! To me, the week before Thanksgiving -- when decorations and holiday merchandise are out, carols are playing, and twinkle lights festoon everything, but the frenzy has yet to take hold -- is the most magical time of the year. Possibility abounds!

After lunch we headed down Westheimer to the big Crate & Barrel store. How long have I been talking about getting some plain white dishes now? Months? Years? Well, after looking at just about every place possible, I finally circled back to the very first place I looked, and bought the very first pattern that caught my eye (isn't that the way it always goes?) -- the ones with rings and ridges! You know how I love rings and ridges. Just in the nick of time for Thanksgiving, no? Crate & Barrel is another store I used to frequent for merchandising inspiration, and being there in the middle of the week, just before Thanksgiving, was the bomb, I tell you. The absolute bomb!

From there we went to check into the same fabulous B&B, Robin's Nest, that we stayed in last time, and had just enough time for a little rest before heading down to the medical center. John's blood pressure had been the best in years, as long as he was taking that special, short-term medication to prevent the vasospasms that often follow an aneurysm. Once he finished his two-week course, however, we began seeing occasional spikes up to 150 again, which was worrisome. Well, as it turns out, that particular medication is a calcium channel blocker, and there are other versions of those that you can take long term, in much lower doses. In fact, that's what both his brother and our friend Paula are taking, and with very good results, so I'm kinda surprised that with the dozens of different medications Hubby has been on over the years, that is not one either of his cardiologists has ever prescribed. Anywho, he is now on a very low dose of one called Norvasc/amlodipine (generic), and we are hoping that will even things out a bit. Fingers crossed!

We topped the day off with a trip to the world's best art supply store and dinner at a wonderful Tuscan bistro with old friends from the garden center, then we crawled into bed and lay there discussing the twists and turns of the story we had been listening to on the drive down, and predicting how it might possibly turn out. John guessed right, much to his delight!

Breakfast the next morning reminded me just why B&B's are so much better than chain hotels.  Not only was it a gourmet feast, but the owner is the consumate hostess, who joins us at the table each morning and makes sure that the guests get introduced to one another, and share a little bit about themselves. We ended up having such an amazing discussion about sustainability, with a couple who were filmmakers (the husband was from France, the wife American) and a fellow from Italy who was there to work with some people at the University of Houston, that we hated to get up from the table. That just doesn't happen in your chain hotels! We finally dragged ourselves away to do a bit of pre-crowds Christmas shopping at the mall, where we happened to run into our favorite waiter from what was our favorite Chinese restaurant in all of Houston which, unfortunately, has since closed down (probably because we moved away!). He did, however, tip us off to another one that was almost as good, so we spent a little time watching skaters spin around the ice rink, watched moms trying to calm screaming kids who did NOT want to sit on Santa's lap, even if he was the most beautifully kind and authentic looking one I had ever seen, then headed off for a yummy Chinese lunch on our way out of town.

I can hardly wait until his next doctor's appointment!

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