Sul Ross and Taxes

February 28, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                        28 February 2011

As our legislators wrestle with their latest budget gap of billions of dollars, the GOP majority says it won’t raise taxes. The Dems say taxes must be increased. But all agree we’ve got financial problems. At such times lawmakers who know their history might be sighing, “Sully, come back!” You see, once Texas had such a huge surplus of funds that Gov. Sul Ross had to call a special session of the Legislature to determine what to do.

Therein lies a tale worth re-telling in light of today’s squeeze. First, let’s take a look at Sul Ross, the only university president (Texas A&M) I know of who had another university named for him: Sul Ross University, obviously. He was born Lawrence Sullivan Ross near Waco. His great grandfather had been captured by Indians as a six-year-old child, and lived with them until he was rescued at 23 years. Ross’s father was an Indian agent, so Sul grew up with a greater understanding of the Indians than most Texans. He loved the good ones; he killed the bad ones.

During a summer vacation home from his college in Alabama, Sully led a company of Indians from his father’s reservation against the dreaded Comanche. The next fall back at college Ross may have taken part in the dorm bull sessions. “Hey, Sully, what did you do this summer?’

“Well, we were in the middle of a battle with the Comanche when four of us spotted a little white girl who was a captive. As we were getting her, we were jumped by 25 braves. Two of us were killed immediately. My gun misfired. I got an arrow in my shoulder and was then shot point-blank by a brave. It was Mohee, a Comanche I’d known since we were children together. As I was lying on the ground, Mohee whipped out his scalping knife and was about to scalp me when his chief called him away to kill someone else. My Indian friends rescued me and nursed me back to health. What’d you do this summer?”

“Forget it.”

After college Ross joined the Texas Rangers and at age 21 was made captain of a Ranger company. In yet anther battle against the Indians, he caught up with Nacona, a Comanche chief who was responsible for much of the carnage along the Texas frontier. Ross shot Nacona and rescued a white woman who turned out to be Cynthia Ann Parker.

When the Civil War broke out, he entered the Confederate Army as a private and wound up a general. His earlier combat experiences proved useful – Ross participated in 135 engagements, including 112 days of fighting around Atlanta. After the war he took up farming, then got into politics and became sheriff of McLennan County (Waco) and a state senator. Eventually he ran for governor.

In January 1887, Ross was inaugurated governor. He was the first to use the new capitol. That is when he had to tackle the problem of too much money. Part of the trouble was that most of the taxes came in during December and January. The money sat around until it was spent during the rest of the year. Then, all of a sudden, the U.S. government, acting on advice from the Army, paid Texas $927,177 as restitution for Indian depredations and expenses incurred by the state.

The expenses were run up in the 20 years after the Civil War because the Texas Rangers – not the U.S. Army – did much of the fighting against both Mexican bandits and hostile Indians. In addition, Texas patrolled its own border with Mexico, the only state or territory to do so. Washington reimbursed Texas for the cost and made good such losses as cattle rustled by the bandits and the Indians. The sum came to a tidy amount, particularly in those days.

A reporter from the Galveston Daily News went to the state vault, which held $2 million in cash alone, 20 percent of all the money in the state rendered for taxation. He saw not only a huge vault but within it, a safe. He wrote: “The vault contained a large burglar-and fire-proof safe, in which $1,250,000 in paper money was neatly arranged in packages, forming a compact square mass, ten by twenty-four inches, and eighteen inches high. In the same money chest about $25,000 in gold bars was resting secure from moth and rust. Outside the safe a pyramid of silver in bars was built from the floor nearly to the ceiling, resting against the west wall of the vault.

“Another safe was covered nearly to the ceiling with boxes of silver. Several tons of the precious metals were in view. In the corner was a pile of money bags containing silver quarters, halves and nickels. In the safe first mentioned, in addition to the cash, were shown in packages some $7,000,000 in bonds, viz, $2,991,000 of state bonds and $2,276,000 of county bonds, $1,753,817 of railroad bonds, besides $79,400 of public debt certificates.”

Gov. Ross could handle attacking Indians, bandits and Yankees, but he did not know how to handle that huge surplus. On March 27, 1888, he complained to a press conference that he couldn’t sleep the night before, worrying about what to do. “I don’t feel authorized to keep so much money locked up full a year if deferred until the regular session.”

So he called a special session to deal with too much money – the only Texas guv to do so — and suggested that some funds should be set aside to pay the state’s bills for the rest of the year, some should go to raises for school teachers, and the state should repay $96,000 borrowed from the university fund. Then the new capitol had to be furnished, the state needed new asylums, and so on. What was left, Ross, said, would still be considerable, and that money should be returned to the taxpayers.

Yes, indeed. Sully, come back!


Ashby is taxed at




Dawn & Deepa Announce Launch of Online Children’s Jewelry Store

February 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Events


Modern take on classic designs intended to change the way consumers view and use children’s jewelry

Dawn & Deepa, LLC. is pleased to announce the launch of their new online children’s jewelry store, With a modern take on classic designs, Dawn & Deepa pieces are high in quality and intended for children to wear any day. The collection, for newborns to children age 16, includes handmade sterling silver bangles, rings, necklaces and bracelets.

“We adorn our children with pretty jewels for weddings and parties so why not for any occasion?” said Dawn Bakun, principal, Dawn & Deepa. “We are trying to change the way consumers view and use children’s jewelry. We like to think of it as an everyday luxury.”

Children’s jewelry has become increasingly fashionable over the last ten years. Research indicates that consumers are looking for variety and for less traditional styles when it comes to children’s jewelry. A limited selection is the most common barrier for not making a purchase.

“Parents see their children as a reflection of themselves and want them to look great,” said Deepa Mireles, principal, Dawn & Deepa. “Additionally, children are much more knowledgeable and selective about what they wear.”

“Children are an underserved segment of the jewelry market,” said Mireles. “We look forward to sharing our collection.”

For more information, visit or call 866-728-2775. Inquires from retailers interested in carrying the Dawn & Deepa line should be emailed to

Making it Better and Look Good Doing It

February 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

Making It Better and Looking Good Doing It

Who? Making It Better (MIB) is a Houston area non-profit established to improve the quality of life for low income, at-risk children by offering them academic intervention, positive activities and role models. MIB was founded in 2006 by Jerry Davis, a former Westside High School Dean of Students and head lacrosse coach, to address the severe disadvantages faced by low income children in the Houston area. MIB offers a variety of programs that are tailored to meet the needs of each campus. Whether the program is academic or enrichment, delivered during or after school, on a school campus or in an apartment-based program; MIB’s overarching goal is always the same . . . developing relationships and improving self-esteem by sparking creativity, fostering the desire to succeed, developing social skills, and expanding life experiences.

What? Making It Better and Looking Good Doing It – A fundraising cocktail party and style show with summer fashions from Dillard’s and Social Butterfly

When? Thursday, May 19th, 2011 6:30pm

Where? Decorative Center Houston 5120 Woodway

Produced by:
Lenny Matuszewski

Entertainment: Cirque Imagination

Starting at $125 – Underwriting and Sponsorship opportunities available MIB is a 501 (c)(3)organization – All contributions, including ticket prices, are tax deductible within the limits allowed by law.

Contact Kelly Bukolt for more information:


Christmas in February

February 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Events


What: The Steve Francis Foundation is celebrating “Christmas in February” by donating 5,000 non-perishable food items to the Houston Food Bank, Star of Hope and the USA RV Park in Richmond.

Who: Former Houston Rocket Steve Francis

When: Saturday, February 26th
9:00 AM-1:00 PM

Where: Star of Hope; Houston Food Bank Food Fairs at the House of Prayer, E.C.H.O.S. and St. John Neumann; USA RV Park in Richmond

Background: The Steve Francis Foundation is a non-profit, 501(c) 3 organization committed to providing educational and recreational opportunities for at-risk youth. In addition to its outreach programs, The SFF has awarded over $350,000 in college scholarships to Houston students since 2004. For more information, please visit

Carrie Potter
(713) 982-8500 Office
(202) 491-5030 Mobile

27th Annual BP MS 150

February 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

27th Annual BP MS 150
April 16 – 17, 2011

The 27th Annual BP MS 150 Bike Ride, Texas’ largest non-profit sporting event and the largest Bike MS ride in the nation, will take place April 16- 17, 2011. An estimated 13,000 cyclists are expected to take part in the two-day, 180-mile trek from Houston to Austin. This year, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society: Lone Star aims to raise $17 million to support multiple sclerosis (MS) research and fund programs and services benefiting an estimated 20,000 people affected by MS in 174 Texas counties.

Registration is available at <> . The 2011 registration fee is $100, and a minimum pledge of $400 is required for participation. Individuals, families and groups are also encouraged to volunteer for the more than 3,000 positions in Houston, Austin and along the route. Log on to <> to volunteer or donate online.

Saturday and Sunday, April 16 – 17, 2011

The ride will begin in Houston on Saturday, April 16 and finish in downtown Austin near the State Capitol on Sunday, April 17, following an overnight celebration at the Fayette County Fairgrounds in La Grange. Cyclists have the option to start at one of three starting points:

Tully Stadium Rhodes Stadium Waller Stadium
1050 Dairy Ashford St. Katy High School Waller High School
Houston, TX, 77079 1733 Katy Fort Bend Rd., Katy, TX 20735 Stokes Rd., Waller, TX

On day two, riders can choose one of two routes out of La Grange as they make their way to Austin.

Multiple sclerosis, an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system, interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women as men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 400,000 people in the U.S. and 2.1 million worldwide.

About the National Multiple Sclerosis Society
MS stops people from moving. The National MS Society exists to make sure it doesn’t. The Society addresses the challenges of each person affected by MS by funding cutting-edge research, driving change through advocacy, facilitating professional education, collaborating with MS organizations around the world, and providing programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move their lives forward. In 2009 alone, through its national office and 50-state network, the Society devoted over $132 million to programs that enhanced more than one million lives. To move us closer to a world free of MS, the Society also invested nearly $36 million to support 375 research projects around the world. The National MS Society: Lone Star serves more than 56,000 Texans affected by MS with offices in Amarillo, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Lubbock, Midland and San Antonio. The Society is dedicated to achieving a world free of MS. Join the movement at .

Early and ongoing treatment with an FDA-approved therapy can make a difference for people with multiple sclerosis. Learn about your options by talking to your health care professional and contacting the National MS Society at or 1-800-344-4867.

Heroes and Handbags

February 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

Heroes and Handbags is an annual luncheon and our most popular event of the year!! Women from all over Houston come dressed to impress and bid on beautiful, luxurious, high-end designer bags with all of the proceeds benefiting Heroes for Children. The women enjoy an elegant meal with drinks to match. The event has been described as a classy, high energy, fun event for women of all ages.

Heroes for Children is a non-profit organization that raises money through fundraisers and various events involving the communities of Dallas and Houston to help families with children battling cancer. Heroes for Children is unique in the fact that we raise money to help relieve the financial burden that is often coupled with the diagnosis of cancer in a child. We pay for things such as: rent, car payments, groceries, electricity bills and we even go as far as throwing events for birthdays, graduations and other “milestone” events that take place in a child’s life.

The event is Thursday April 14th, 20ll from 11 AM to 1 PM at the River Oaks Country club. For more information or questions, please contact:

Michella Cross
Heroes for Children
Assistant of Development
Office: (832) 295-0565
Cell: (210) 218-9088

Demand Healthy Week

February 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

Demand Healthy Week
It’s Time to Make Healthy the Norm in Texas

Photo: ACTIVE Life

Texans across the state can show their support for healthy living by participating in ACTIVE Life’s first-ever “Demand Healthy Week” during the first week in May (May 2-8). All you have to do is create and share “Moments of Health” – such as organizing a walk or bike ride with friends, preparing a healthy meal or participating in a clean-up day in your community.

It’s easy and simple to show your support for a healthy, active Texas. Just sign up for FREE at <> to find information and ideas for “Moments of Health” and to learn about public Moments in the community. You’ll also find special discounts for healthy products and services from participating national and local retailers, restaurants and other companies.

ACTIVE Life is an Austin-based, non-profit organization dedicated to organizing the movement for healthy change in America.

What: Demand Healthy Week is an annual week-long initiative that encourages people and places across the country to create, share and promote Moments of Health.

When: Beginning May 2, 2011 and ending May 9, 2011

Where: Communities throughout Texas and the nation

Who: Individuals, Families, Schools, Community Organizations, Faith-based Organizations, Employers, Restaurants, Retailers, and Vendors

Organizer: ACTIVE Life, an Austin based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to organizing the movement for healthy change in America.

Sponsors: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, H-E-B, and National Association for Health and Fitness

John Waterman
(512) 533-9555 x 302

Opera Vista Festival

February 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

2011 Opera Vista Festival slated for March 12-19

Opera Vista, winner of the 2010 Houston Press MasterMind Award, announces the 2011 Opera Vista Festival, featuring the 4th Annual Vista Competition for New Opera, will take place March 12-19, 2011. Opera Vista focuses on bringing contemporary opera to Houston and the Vista Competition is an American-Idol-style competition for groundbreaking new works by composers from around the world.

“The Vista Competition is unique in that it gives composers the opportunity to have their works performed by professional singers and instrumentalists,” says Viswa Subbaraman, Artistic Director of Opera Vista. “They have a wonderful opportunity to interact with many well-known people from the world of opera and classical music, but I think more importantly, they get an insight into how their work is perceived by the audience.”

In November, six semi-finalists from three countries were selected, ranging from adaptations of Greek myth to a courtroom drama. Excerpts from each work will be performed on March 16th & 18th at the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music, beginning at 8 pm. A panel of judges – including world-renowned composer Daron Hagen and the director and founder of the Moores Opera Center at the University of Houston, Buck Ross – will critique each excerpt, and the audience will vote to select which operas will advance. In the final round, the selected excerpts will be performed again with a longer critique from the judges, but then the audience will get to directly question the composers. The audience then votes to determine the winner of the competition, which will be announced March 19th at the festival’s closing performance. The winner receives $1,500 and a full production of their opera at the next festival.

This year’s festival will also include the Texas premiere of the winning opera from the 2010 Opera Vista Festival, And Then I Remember by Lembit Beecher, in collaboration with Sara Draper and Dancepatheatre. Based on interviews with his grandmother, And Then I Remember creates a moving recollection of her life in Estonia during World War II and her flight from the advancing Russian Army by blending music, dance, video, and recorded audio. And Then I Remember will be performed at 8 pm on March 12th and 19th at Bethany Christian Church, 3223 Westheimer. Finally, there will be an evening of contemporary chamber music at 8 pm on March 17th at Bethany Christian Church.

“This event is great for Houston not only culturally, but also economically,” says Joe Carl White, Executive Director of Opera Vista. “We provide employment for some of the many top-flight musicians that are based here, and we are building an event that already draws interest from all over the world. When you think of new film you think of Cannes or Sundance. I want people, when they think of new opera, to think of Houston.”

Ticket Prices (available at beginning February 25)

March 12, 2011 And Then I Remember (opening night) – $40
March 16, 2011 Semi-Finals – $30
March 17, 2011 Chamber Night – $20
March 18, 2011 Finals – $30
March 19, 2011 And Then I Remember plus awards reception (and iPad raffle) – $40

Students and Senior Citizens: half price with current ID

Opening Night Package March 12, 16, 17, 18 – $140 value at $100 including 5 raffle tickets for an iPad Closing Night Package March 16, 17, 18, 19 – $140 value at $100 including 5 raffle tickets for an iPad


February 21, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby 21 Feb. 2011

THE TV – “Automotives were down due to rumors of a merger among GM, Chrysler and Ford. The possible ouster of the CEOs of GE and IBM is OK, analysts say.” I change channels. “Insiders on Wall Street predict that….”
Each time I hear such wise proclamations I think of cold sandwiches and hot coffee. Not that I lost my life’s savings ($45) in the market and had to subsist on such a diet. Actually, I was making more money than I had ever made before, and my power was, well, powerful. I created billionaires and sent losers stepping lightly off window ledges. Global financial networks trembled at my every whimsy. Eat your heart out, MSNBC. If only I had known what I was doing.
At the time, I was the token Texan at The New York Times. For six and a half years, chained to my desk in the city room, I wrote news for the Times’ radio station, WQXR. (It was sold last year and that spot on the dial now speaks Spanish.) WQXR broadcast long-hair music, with brilliantly written, penetrating and sophisticated hourly newscasts. That was me. The job wasn’t so bad. I could have been working in the paper’s Flair & Biased Dept. (we got there first, Fox) or be assigned to the Misquote, Lie & Destroy America beat.
There was only one free-lance job around: writing the nightly business news show, the Wall Street Report. The fellow who had it would wait till the markets closed, check the wires and twist the Times’ business stories, anything to gather info for his script. It paid $75 a week which back then was a king’s ransom for a journalist. Today it’ll get you two pawns and a repossessed castle. However, the scripts had to be written during the supper hour, which meant the writer had to stay at his desk and eat from the passing food cart.
One day I was offered the job, on my own time. I knew what to do, sort of, but it took a while to get the script to the newscasters in time for the show. Picky lot, they were. Each weekday evening I would check the wires, then go to the business department and ask, “What happened on Wall Street?”
Everything was going fine until one night the editor in chief came over and said he had heard my show and wanted to know why a particular stock had fluctuated so much. I told him I didn’t know, which is not what the Chief Enchilada wanted to hear from his paper’s Wall Street Wizard. “Check your sources,” he said, walking away. My sources? I didn’t have any. I didn’t know beans about the stock market and couldn’t spell DJ.
Then I remembered a friend who had just joined a Wall Street firm as a trainee. I called him up. He knew more about the OU football team than the stock market, so he answered, “I don’t know.” Soon he called back and said, authoritatively, “Rumor of a stock split.” I duly passed on this inside info to Mister Big and was saved. This showed me that Wall Street is totally dependent upon unnamed analysts – nameless, faceless druids who explain what happened and why – after it happened. Discovering this, each night I would call up my buddy, Deep Portfolio, in the concrete canyons of lower Manhattan for the inside skinny.
“Gadgets Incorporated is going up because the CEO is in ill health and stockholders can’t wait for him to expire. Buy. Lox Stocks & Barrel is falling due to a secret FBI inquiry. Sell,” he would whisper.
“I didn’t hear about any investigation,” I would reply.
“Again, it’s secret.” I would never identify my sources by name, especially since there was only one. He was variously my “Wall Street insider,” “a source close to the directors,” and, best of all, “a top Wall Street analyst.” Soon we had it down pat.
“Cucumbers are falling due to a cold snap in Florida,” he would say.
“But I just heard cucumber prices were rising rapidly.”
“Of course they are, caused by a warm snap in Florida.”
One sure-fire explanation was incorrect expectations: “The company’s earnings report failed to meet analysts’ expectations.” No, the company was right on target. The analysts were wrong, and I said so. I was absolutely honest. I just didn’t accurately name my source. Besides, I was as correct, and often more so, as the pros. And I wasn’t making any money off my insider tips, except for my weekly $75.
In my imagination, a black limo was speeding toward Greenwich in the evening, with J.J. on the phone, “Wilber, tomorrow unload all our Lox Stocks & Barrel and buy cucumbers. I just heard the Times’ Wall Street show. They’ve got inside info.”
Doing so well, we began predicting future financial developments. “This, according to a mole in Washington: soon Treasury bonds will come in bundles.” “As a top level investor told his mistress, by next month barbed wire will triple.” The emperor’s clothes were looking better, as were those of my editor in chief. No one ever complained, or even questioned my expertise. After all, it was The New York Times, it was news fit to print.
After Mad Money’s Jim Cramer gave some totally wrong stock advice, columnist George Will observed, “There are three truths in life: never eat at a diner called Mom’s, never play cards with a man named Slim, and never take financial advice from someone who screams at you over the TV.” To that last warning I should add: Or from any unnamed analysts, source or “somebody said.”
Today when I hear sage advice from “Wall Street experts,” “economic analysts” and “sources close to the source,” I think of cold sandwiches and hot coffee, and two clueless 25-year-old novices, who didn’t own a single share of stock between them, running the American economy – and doing it rather well.

Ashby is wise at

Ehlers Estates at Sullivan’s

February 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs

Sullivan’s Steakhouse Pairs with Ehlers Estates for a Heart-Friendly Wine Dinner

Just before the big freeze shut down the city, I enjoyed a heart inspired wine dinner paired with  Ehlers Estates Winery at Sullivan’s Steakhouse.

The menu included lobster and shrimp stuffed pasta, endive salad with candied walnuts and apples, an exciting filet duo, and a rich chocolate mousse terrine with chocolate ganache covered raspberries.

Ehlers Estate represents the unique fusion of an outstanding winegrowing estate, environmental consciousness and international philanthropy. The historic and diverse Napa Valley vineyard of Ehlers Estate is cultivated using organic and biodynamic farming techniques to produce a small portfolio of exceptional estate-grown wines.

First Course

Handmade Shell Pasta Stuffed with Lobster and Shrimp

Served in a lobster Sauce with Grape Tomatoes

2009 Ehlers Estate, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa valley

Second Course

Grilled Endive Salad with Blue Cheese candied Walnuts and Apples

2007 Ehlers Estate, Merlot, Napa Valley

Third CourseFilet Duo

Filet Topped with a Rosemary Demi-Glace’

Paired with 2007 Ehlers Estate Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley

Filet Topped with a Cracked Pepper Red Wine Sauce

Paired with 2007 Ehlers Estate, 120/80 Cabernet Sauvignon

Fourth Course

Chocolate Mousse Terrine with Raspberries covered in a Chocolate Ganache

2006 Ehlers Estate, 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

For more information on the Ehlers Estate visit

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

February 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Events


Houston, TX
April 16-17

About the Avon Walk Houston

A vibrant international city, cultural diversity, picturesque parks and a leading medical community making cancer history-all provide obvious and persuasive reasons why we’ll walk in the great city of Houston. You’ll walk amidst glorious oak trees, funky antique and craft shops, designer boutiques and pictorial greenbelts while witnessing Houston’s skyline, which showcases some of the best modern architecture around. This event takes place on a beautiful spring weekend – April 16-17, 2011.

The Avon Foundation for Women has raised and awarded nearly $700 million worldwide for the breast cancer cause since 1992. The Avon Foundation for Women has awarded nearly $12 million to organizations and institutions in Texas

IN IT for a purpose

We’ll walk up to 26.2 miles on Saturday, and 13.1 miles on Sunday-all so that women and men can get the medical care they need regardless of their ability to pay, and leading research teams can receive vital support in their ongoing search for a cure.

• The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer is a project of the Avon Foundation for Women [a 501(c)(3) public charity] encompassing a series of nine, weekend-long walk events held across the United States where thousands of women and men come together to raise awareness and life-saving funds for breast cancer.

• Funds raised ensure that all women and men receive screening, support and treatment they need, regardless of their ability to pay, as well as accelerate the work of leading research teams in their quest for better treatment, improved detection and a cure.

• Since its launch in 2003, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer series has raised more than $380 million through the dedication of more than 142,000 participating women and men from across the country.

• To register, donate or learn more: or 1-888-541-WALK

What takes place?

• A fun and inspiring weekend-long noncompetitive walk offering the option of walking 13.1 or 26.2 miles on Saturday, and 13.1 miles on Sunday for a total of either a marathon or a marathon and a half over the weekend.

• Rest stops manned by an enthusiastic volunteer crew, plus meals, hot showers, medical services, and 2-person sleeping tents in the “Wellness Village” on Saturday night.

Who takes part?

• Women and men of all fitness levels, both individually and in teams, ages 16 to 80s.

• Each Avon Walk attracts from 1,000 to nearly 5,000 participants

• Most Avon Walks have participants from about 35 states and often other countries.

• The hundreds of teams carry names ranging from the inspired to the humorous, such as the Solo Strutters, Team Maureen, A Bunch of Boobs, Angela’s Angels, Blister Sisters, Breast Bra-Gade, Cancer Schmancer, Living Legacy, Boston Boobettes, Mammo Mamas, No Sister Left Behind, Save Second Base, Team Believe.

What is required?

• Walkers take on the challenge to raise a minimum of $1,800 in donations and train to walk a marathon or marathon and a half. There is no fundraising requirement for Crew members.

Where do the funds go?

• The Avon Foundation for Women awards funds raised by the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer to local and national beneficiaries ranging from leading cancer centers to community-based organizations

• On stage during the nine 2010 Avon Walk closing ceremonies, the Avon Foundation immediately awarded almost 100 grants ranging from $25,000 to $1.2 million to leading cancer centers, research institutions and community-based organizations in the Walk regions. In total, the Avon Foundation awarded more than 250 grants across the country throughout the year.

• Funds support five critical areas of the breast cancer cause, with a focus on the medically underserved: awareness and education, screening and diagnosis, access to treatment, support services and scientific research.

Follow the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer
on Facebook (
and Twitter (

Texas Population Changes

February 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                    14 February 2011

Even as you read this brilliance, numbers crunchers at the U.S. Census Bureau are tabulating the nation’s population. This count, as we have noted before, is no dry and bureaucratic pursuit — the results determine which towns and states get a bigger or smaller slice of the U.S. Treasury. Each person is worth about $1,500 a year in federal funding to local and state jurisdictions.

Based on those head counts, interstate highways, veterans’ hospitals, national parks and toxic landfills will be mapped out. Then private enterprise takes those figures and decides where to put a new mall, instant slum and/or which Hooters to close (that got your attention). Where do you think the next NFL franchise should be placed? I, personally, like Marblehead and Sulphur Springs, but you may be partial to Southwark  and Gonzales.

Let me explain why you should care, and how – again – we can both get as rich as a ticket scalper at the upcoming Bernie Madoff Roast (literally). In the first U.S. Census in 1790 and each one since then, the Number 1 city in population has been New York City. Next, in that first census, came Philadelphia and Boston. No surprises there, but then came Charleston, S.C., followed by Baltimore, Northern Liberties, Salem, Newport, Providence and Marblehead. I give up. What’s a Northern Liberties? For the next 50 years Northern Liberties was among our largest populated cities.

Just to show how Americans move around, let’s take Number 4 in population. That slot has been held by the aforementioned Charleston (1790), Boston (1800-1840) and, of all places, Brooklyn (1890), which was then a separate city. Houston took over in 1990 and still holds Number 4. In the last census of 2000, Dallas was eighth. At various times, Number 8 was Newport, R.I.; Salem, Mass.; Southwark — wherever that is, probably near those Northern Liberties — San Francisco, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland and San Diego.

The only two top 10 towns listed in both 1790 and 2000 were NYC and Philly. Past members of the top 10 have been New Orleans; Albany, NY; Spring Gardens (huh?) and Norfolk, Va. Several of those in the current top 10 line-up joined relatively recently and, of course, started near the bottom: Los Angeles (10th in 1920), Phoenix (ninth in 1980), San Diego (eighth in 1980), as mentioned Dallas (eighth in 1970) and San Antonio (10th in 2000).

At this point you are thinking, “Like I care about Southwark. What’s in it for me?”  Money, that’s what. In every one of these population shifts, somebody made a fortune and somebody lost his life savings. So, obviously, our job is to figure out where everyone is going, then buy up Farmer Brown’s back 40, and don’t tell him it’s the site of the next Sprawl Mart or used hotel mattress recycling center.

Let’s start close to home: Texas, the only state with three cities in the top 10. For advice, we turn to Mike Cox of “Texas Tales,” who wrote in his syndicated column, “Hard to imagine today, but back in 1850 residents of New Braunfels could brag that they lived in the fourth-largest city in Texas.” He goes on to note that in that first U.S. Census of Texans, in 1850, the enumerators found 212,592 people in the state, including slaves. But this didn’t include our Indians, and no one volunteered to count them.

Apparently working on the theory that it’s hard to hit a moving target, Texans keep changing homes. Cox found that in very first headcount of Texas in 1850 the top 10 looked like this: Galveston (4,177), San Antonio (3,488), Houston (2,396), New Braunfels (1,723), Marshall (1,180), Gonzales (1,072),  Victoria (802), Fredericksburg (754), Austin (629), Corpus Christi (533). Only four of our cities have been Number 1: Galveston, San Antonio and Dallas once (1890). Houston took over in 1930 and has been there ever since.

Dallas is an interesting case. It finally broke in as ninth in 1860, right behind Sulphur Springs. By 1880 Big D was still smaller than Austin, yet within 10 years, 1890, Dallas was briefly the biggest city in Texas. We can only assume that everyone who came down from Indian Territory for the Texas-OU game stayed. Wouldn’t you?

Yet still we keep moving around Texas, or in some case, simply moving to Texas. For example, El Paso and San Antonio are showing huge growths due to immigration from south of the Rio. Arlington and Plano have broken in to the top 10 due to immigrants from north of the Red. You ever get the idea the Border Patrol is watching the wrong river?

Population booms mean land booms, which is traditional here. Land was a major reason people came to Texas, and the General Land Office was the first agency created by the Congress of the Republic of Texas. Land was also the coin of our realm — ex-soldiers from the Texas Revolution and the Civil War were paid off in state-owned acreage. Our Johnny Rebs got 640 acres. So why didn’t your great-great granddaddy stake out his 640 free acres in west Austin or River Oaks or along the San Antonio River Walk? Shortsighted, he was.

Where’s the next boomtown? There are 167 million land acres in Texas, so we have a lot of opportunities. Is Odessa the next Monaco? Pampa’s famed Top O’ Texas Rodeo may overtake “American Idol” in popularity. Sanderson – Gateway to Marathon! “What happens in Port Arthur stays in Port Arthur.” Here’s a thought: We have 150,000 cons in state prisons – this doesn’t include those in our city, county and federal slammers. That’s a city in itself. The state can save money, guards and land mines by putting all the inmates together on, well, whatever land we buy.

Don’t roll your eyes. If you’re so smart, why didn’t you buy the Permian Basin when it was dust and tumbleweeds, huh? But I’ll give you another chance. Want downtown Sulphur Springs? It’s coming back.

Ashby moves to

V Seagrove

February 14, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Seagrove Beach Florida welcomes the much anticipated Hotel Viridian and 6,700 square-foot restaurant “V.”  H Texas met up with chef David Carrier and Sean Goss to sample the menu.
Photography by Kathleen Axell

“The concept is local,” says Carrier. We feature ingredients on the plate instead of our ability, he says. All meals will start by breaking bread.

Foie Gras Terrine

Paired with mayhaw jam, this is like a grown up peanut butter and jelly.

Apalachicola Oyster Stew with Tabasco crackers




Red Fish on the 1/2 shell


Shrimp & Grits with Green Tomatoes


Bayou City Outdoors Hiking In Houston

February 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

March 18, 2012

Cleveland Park, Scotland St. & Jackson
8:30 AM–NOON

Want to go hiking without having to travel outside of the city? Come discover all the trails and hideaways along the Buffalo Bayou! Get lost exploring the winding flat trails, bridges, and modest hills while exercising at an easy to moderate pace. Along this 6 mile hike we will pass the bat viewing area, art sculptures, and maybe even one of the rumored Buffalo Bayou alligators or Osprey couples!
We meet at Cleveland Park on the north side of Memorial Dr., there is a foot-walkway over Memorial here. The hike will start here and then we head towards downtown on the north side of the bayou. There is parking along the street for free.

When we reach downtown, we’ll stop for a water/coffee break so bring a few dollars. At the end of the hike you will have worked hard, made new friends and discovered all sorts of Houston secrets along Buffalo Bayou in our Bayou city!
As long as it is cool outside, this is a dog-friendly event for your canine friends who are up for six miles.
Free for Members and Non-Members alike.

Meet at 8:15AM; depart 8:30AM on the dot! Cleveland Park, Scotland St. & Jackson RSVP & Directions to Jackson Park

Avoid the Void

February 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Hot Button / Lynn Ashby

By Lynn Ashby                                                        7 Feb. 2011


THE WAREHOUSE – Did you notice that the feds are doing away with our terrorism color alerts? You remember them, don’t you? Green for the Enemy Is Defeated, then to other threat levels including orange for It Looks Dicey to red for All Is Lost! At first, the worsening-storm warnings alarmed us, then confused us, then were totally ignored. (Remember the old graffiti: “Be alert. This country needs more lerts.”)

The only time I ever experienced the alerts was waiting for a plane in Destin, Fla. A voice came over the lobby loudspeakers warning of an orange alert. It upset me, but no one else seemed to care. So much for two-if-by-sea alarms.

Ah, but where do the alerts go? They come here, which is why I have brought you to this large warehouse in the West Texas desert. This collection, ladies and gentlemen, is the Void. It is where everything goes which we once had, even cherished, but abandoned out of terminal ennui. Note that the green-yellow-red alerts are placed next to ice trays and inner tubes, just behind the League of Nations. You also see the once-common children who say “Sir” and “Ma’m.” These are pipes. Really now, when was the last time you saw anyone smoking a pipe? As for Telex, we hardly knew ye.

Here are hula-hoops, dial phones and a DuMont black-and-white TV set, complete with rabbit ears. That reminds me, here’s a Betamax, next to the VCR and the electric typewriter. This, young people, is called an ink blotter, which goes with this fountain pen. Don’t laugh. Some day your iPad will be here, just like your Walkman.

“What’s that over there,” you ask? It’s called a screened-in porch. Next is an electric shaver, which never really caught on. Sitting beside it is a straight razor. My grandfather used a straight razor, with brush and soap and shaving stand, all his adult life. And used a razor strop, which had a two-headed eagle on the top. I asked him what that signified, and he said, without missing a stroke, “Why, the Czar, of course.” Seems Grandpa was once offered a job in St. Petersburg. It’s a long story.

Some of you may be wondering why newspapers aren’t included – gone, dead or dying, we hear. But they aren’t eligible for the Void and probably never will be. As long as there are curious and intelligent people, there will be newspapers, just don’t invest in newsprint. Oh, sure, newspapers will look different. Always have, always will. I’ve got front pages from the 1600s and 1700s which look nothing like today’s product. What doesn’t change? Have you seen last year’s cell phones?

Of course, the Void holds not only things, but other stuff, like expressions, going back to 23-Skaddoo and the cat’s meow. In WW II the GIs would write “Kilroy was here,” and now Kilroy is, indeed, here. We have Whazzup?, Esperanto and  That’s a Big 10-4, Smokey. It’s only a matter of time before There’s a New Sheriff in Town, Man Up and Kerfuffle are tossed into the Void.

Incidentally, across those dunes out there is the warehouse that holds all deleted e-mails. I mean, you don’t think that obscene note you almost sent to your boss, but didn’t, simply disappeared, do you, when you hit delete? We learned in high school science that we can’t create or destroy matter. All your old e-mails are just sitting there. Hope your boss doesn’t have the key to the storage room.

Note what you don’t see here: those items in our lives which have been around forever and no one has come up with anything better. There are rubber bands and paperclips not to mention toothpicks. The Campbell Soup can has changed, but its label is immortal.

Moving on, we see Bill O’Reilly’s war on Christmas. That accusation really didn’t have legs, so it only lasted a Noel or two before it was consigned here. Wonder if O’Reilly can be far behind? It happened to Arthur Godfrey, Tom Synder and Dick Cavett. Is Keith Olbermann on the way?

There are also a lot of forgotten pols here. Former Speaker Jim Wright, Ben Barnes and the entire Tea Party. Newt Gingrich should be here, but he won’t go away if you drive a Contract With America through his heart. Gingrich may run for president, but he is carrying more baggage than a Sherpa on uppers. Tom DeLay is about to go into the Void. It depends on the appeals court. No, Rumsfeld and Cheney aren’t here. God must have reserved a special place for them. Did you ever wonder what happened to Dan Quayle? Look no further.

Years ago I shipped George H.W. Bush to the Void, since he was no longer around. He wrote back from Beijing where he was our representative (we didn’t have an ambassador-level post there) saying he didn’t think China was a void. His letter had beautiful panda stamps. I kept the stamps.

These next two items take up a lot of space, and are among the most expensive flops in the Void: the SST and the SSC. You remember the SST, the supersonic transport, which flew at Mach II but was so loud and used so much fuel nobody wanted it but the Brits and the French for national pride. Need I say more? As for the SSC, the Superconducting Super Collider, that billion dollar boondoggle never did get finished. As you can see, all we have are a few big holes in the ground outside of Waxahachie.

Yes, this is where fads go to die, as I was telling Afro and Mama Grizzly. But you may be wondering why there are still a few empty aisles. They are reserved for some obvious candidates. This shelf is set aside for incandescent light bulbs, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Texas Democratic Party. I know they’re coming, but until then, I’m staying on red alert.

Ashby is void at

First Annual Legend’s Tea

February 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

The Clear Lake/Bay Area Chapter of Jack and Jill of America,
Incorporated to host their 1st Annual ‘Legend’s Tea’

This 2011 exciting fundraiser event will take place at the beautiful – four star – Westin Galleria Hotel at 2 o’clock on the afternoon of Sunday, March 27, 2011. More than just an afternoon of entertainment, this educational event will commemorate National Women’s History Month, by recognizing and honoring the efforts of seven women who have done outstanding work in the community. Proceeds from this fundraiser will benefit three outstanding causes: 1) the Jack and Jill of America Foundation (the philanthropic arm of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated), 2) the American Diabetic Association, and 3) Academic scholarships for area youth.

With an expected attendance of 300 women, this event will also promote the importance of healthy lifestyles. The Clear Lake/Bay Area Chapter has teamed with local health professions, area hospitals and the American Diabetes Association to provide each attendee with educational tools that will encourage and provide the basic ability to manage their diets, habits, energy level, exercise, sleep and organizational control. Gladys Henderson, chapter presidents states, “It is never too late to adopt a healthier lifestyle, regardless of age or gender. Different medical conditions and illnesses can occur at different stages of life, so there is no excuse for not being health conscious.” Every attendee will receive a gift bag that contains informative information and resources to living/implementing a healthy life. Doctors, dentists, nutritionists, hospitals, gyms and more have contributed pamphlets, coupons, and pertinent paraphernalia.

The emcee for this exciting event is the award winning Melinda Spaulding, a FOX 26 Anchor & Reporter (co-anchor of FOX 26 News at 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. alongside Mike Barajas).

Tickets for the Clear Lake/Bay Area Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Incorporated Legend’s Tea Party are $75 per person. It is also our pleasure to invite you and/or your organization to serve as a sponsor. As a potential sponsor, there are various funding options to choose from; ranging from $750 to $3000 sponsorships.

For information contact Lynette Horne-Campbell, 281-795-6802, 3513 Kingston, Friendswood, Texas 77546, Deadline for sponsorship is February 10, 2011. Deadline to purchase tickets is March 5, 2011. We hope that you will join us in our endeavor to improve our communities. Your participation will be greatly appreciated!

Watercolor Inn

February 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Blogs, Travel Blog

Girlfriend’s Getaway

Florida’s Watercolor Inn is Music to my ears
By Laurette M. Veres
Photography by Kathleen Axtell

DSC_0048Grab your favorite gal-pal and head to Beaches of South Walton, a collection of 15 eclectic beach communities on the Florida coast. The weekend H Texas visited, the 30A Songwriters Festival is in progress. Imagine: emerald green water set to music. We bee-bop from event to event along beautiful Hwy 30A, officially designated Scenic Highway.

The Florida coastline is ecologically significant and home to the largest concentration of rare coastal dune lakes in the world. The 15 lakes have been identified as globally extraordinary with similar ecosystems found only in Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand and the Northwest Pacific Coast of the United States. Unlike sand dunes in Texas, you cannot walk in the brushy beach-lining areas. Except at Grayton Beach State Park. This is one of the few places you are allowed to explore a dune and study its structure. Murray Balkcom of Walco Eco Tours leads an informative tour and explains the area’s bio-diverse ecological communities.  When you see brush at the top of a sand dune, many times, that is really the top of a tree! DSC_0069

DSC_0255Along Scenic 30A there are many lodging options. We check into the WaterColor Inn & Resort. This award winning 60 room boutique hotel sits on the beach and allows you to take in all the beauty with panoramic views of the water, large balconies and our favorite feature: ocean views from the shower. Save your shower for the morning; you must enjoy this luxury by the light of day. Comfortable conversations flow in WaterColor’s intimate lobby and bar; a unique setting reminiscent of your best friend’s living room. Off the lobby, the library offers a relaxing spot to enjoy movies, books, magazines, today’s paper and more. And, each evening you are greeted with homemade cookies. Complimentary bicycles make it easy to explore 30A and the many beach communities. We grab a bike and head East.

DSC_0208If you recall the tranquil town in the, “The Truman Show,” you’ll recognize the colorful, cozy cottages used to create the movie’s setting at the Victorian community of Seaside. We nosh at Great Southern Café. Chef Jim Shirley blends international cuisine with Southern flavors. Fresh produce from nearby farms and fresh fish from the Gulf of Mexico are combined with flavors from around the world. Don’t miss Grits à Ya Ya, his version of shrimp and grits. Next door, iconic bookstore Sundog Books is an interesting venue for Chely Wright while she performs an acoustic set for a packed house. We then mosey to a wine bar where we find Tim Nichols the author of “Live Like You Were Dying,” and many other No. 1 hits relaxing at the next table.

DSC_0082Continuing the course on 30A, we meet Allison Wickey, 2011 Artist of the Year, at World Six Gallery in Rosemary Beach. She offers a unique craft – Venetian plaster on large slabs of wood. We met her on a monumental day – reproductions of her work are now being shipped to specialty stores nationwide.

The community of Seagrove is excited to welcome V Restaurant. We meet the chef for a private tasting.

We spend each evening at Fish Out of Water, the fine dining establishment at WaterColor. Performances from Vienna Teng, Mat Kearney, Rodney Crowell, Chuck Cannon, Shawn Mullins, Gretchen Peters and many more fill our evenings. We find ourselves purchasing CD’s and vowing to learn to play guitar.


Harry Connick Jr. -Your Songs in Concert

February 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

Society for the Performing Arts adds
Harry Connick, Jr. to the 2010-2011 Season

Harry Connick, Jr. & ORCHESTRA to Perform
Your Songs in Concert,
Tuesday, March 29

Society for the Performing Arts announced that Grammy and Emmy Award winner, Tony Award nominee and multi-platinum recording artist Harry Connick, Jr. has been added to the 2010-2011 season. Harry Connick, Jr. & ORCHESTRA will perform Your Songs in Concert in Jones Hall on Tuesday, March 29, at 8 p.m.

Over the past two decades, Harry Connick, Jr. has proven to be among the world’s most successful and multi-talented artists. While he first reached a mass audience as a pianist, singer and bandleader, his subsequent success in theater, film and television have secured his place in the public eye as a renaissance man and a versatile entertainer second to none.

Raised in New Orleans, Connick first performed publicly at age 5, appeared on his first recording at age 10 and released his self-titled major-label debut on Columbia Records at 19. Since then he has recorded more than 24 albums which have garnered sales of over 25 million, and is ranked among the top best-selling male artists in the United States by the Recording Industry Association of America. His most recent album, Your Songs, was released on Columbia Records in 2009, featuring Harry’s versions of 14 classic popular songs.

Ticket prices range from $45-$93 and can be purchased online at, by phone at 713-227-4772 or at the courtyard level ticket office at Jones Hall located at 615 Louisiana St. Hours of operation: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday – Friday, and 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday.

About Society for the Performing Arts
Founded in 1966, Society for the Performing Arts (SPA) is the largest independent non-profit presenting organization in the Southwest. Since its inception, SPA has sponsored more than 850 performances of the world’s finest music, dance and theater events, in adherence to the belief that the arts are fundamental to the overall enrichment and quality of life within the community. In addition to presenting artists, SPA seeks to provide a variety of learning experiences for adults and children through master classes, lectures and special student performances, as well as build relationships between the performing arts and other interests within the greater Houston area and throughout the state of Texas.

Travel: Girlfriend Getaway La Torretta Lake Resort

February 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Travel Blog

Northside Escape: Girls Just Want To Have Fun

By Laurette M. Veres

Grab your favorite gal pals, sisters, mothers or daughters and escape for a girls-only weekend.  The most important part of your trip is spending time together.  No airfare is necessary to enjoy a world-class resort and spa: just head north to La Torretta Lake Resort and Spa near Conroe.  Relax by the adult-only pool, enjoy treatments at the spa and devour high caliber French cuisine.  Everyone knows, girls just want to have fun; get ready to have a blast, relax and unwind!

La Torretta is nice.  The grounds are pristine, the staff is friendly and very accommodating.  The SpaTerre is a pleasant surprise.  In fact, most spa rats will be overwhelmed by the high-end facility.  The eco-chic ambiance offers the best in European-style luxury.  The Texas-sized facility is 17,000-square-feet and features 20 treatment rooms where you and your girlfriends can choose from a full menu of traditional treatments.  You can spend at least twenty minutes in the exotic Hamam- it’s big enough for your entire party.  The steamy, eucalyptus-filled area helps improve circulation and rids the body of harmful toxins.  Arrive early so you can sweat out champagne and cool your eyes with a cucumber-chilled towel.

After treatments, re-convene in the relaxation lounge and enjoy healthy snacks, herbal teas & organic juices.  Spend the next several hours lounging by the pool.  Escape the family atmosphere at the adult-only pool.

For dinner, Chez Roux offers fabulous lake views with first class service and fine French food.  Every detail is fine-tuned to perfection.  A team of waiters dote on you as the wine flows freely, the water is constantly replenished and the bread is served piping hot.  Each course arrives at your table in a very formal manner.  All dishes appear on a large tray, the waiter approves the order and then, individual servings are delivered.  Don’t pass on the house specialty:  cheese soufflé.  It’s perfect to share with your girlfriends.


Enticingly Chic Opens

February 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Events

Enticingly Chic: New Boutique in River Oaks