goodbye 2018, from our little peach house on the fringe of Houston.

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” ~Melody Beattie


2018 started off slowly, sluggish and lazy compared to the frenzy that followed Harvey.  After a few short days scouring the art museums and historic houses of Dublin, we arrived in Scotland for the holidays, our sommfamily relishing in the Gaelic poesy that curled our ears.  Thousands of feverish shoppers bombarded High Street as we ate fish and chips, eyed kilts, and bought touristy heritage pieces. Castles cascaded the hillsides of the lowlands as we rode the train from Paisley to Glasgow to Edinburgh and back again. Snow and scotch and parsnips aside, we breathed in the new year with fervor in the company of family and friends.  For our ability to do so, we are grateful.  

Rested and recharged, we returned to our steamy swamp, swimming in what has become our yearly round of travel foxtrots.  The sommelier jetted back and forth across the ocean whilst we parlayed into life at home, busied with a few work travels, rebuilding Harvey, and spicy protests; sommkid has become quite adept at GirlPower! signage.  This past year has been seemingly uneventful compared to the last, no hurricanes tried to drown us or forest fire enflame us.  No, we had an ordinary year, so to speak, in our little peach house that occupies the fringe of Houston.  For all that is simple and routine, we are grateful.  

Sommkid danced her way into seven, turning our living room into a living disco, further occupied by hoverboards and art palettes and tiny lego pieces that get stuck between our toes.  She is getting taller, her blonde hair growing darker, highlighting her elongated neck and undisputed beauty.  Outward polish aside, her heart is still forever kind, which magnifies her warmth and compassion.  Busy with art camp and acting camp, dance and violin, sommkid stays engaged with the ever-changing world around her.  She still loves Shiraz as much as any other red-haired dog.  For sommkid, we are grateful.  

This year we celebrated our 10 year anniversary, and so the sommelier and I flew to Croatia to revitalize.  After trespassing through the wrought iron gates of the historic capital, we wandered down cobblestoned streets, drank pints of pilsner and drowned in the Eastern European culture of Zagreb.  A few days later, we emerged on the coast, feeling small within the richly historic, stoned city walls of Dubrovnik, yet strong as we kayaked our way to the outlying caves on the islands.  We dipped our hot skin into the Adriatic off the coast of Brac, and sipped on the highly acidic wine that is made there.  We feasted on octopus and mussels and cuddlefish risotto, the squidink staining our lips as we closed our eyes in flavorful deliciousness.  The Roman ruins stood just outside our hotel in touristy Split, and we could hear the musicians nightly from our window, the large stone columns providing ample acoustics for the young guitarists.  We flew home rested and tan and reconnected.  For our love, we are grateful.  

For the sommelier, the year ended much as it began, with a few work trips here and there, but nothing out of the routine.  He still works in the wine business, is still drinking Burgundy, and Champagne… but mostly Burgundy.  He still basks in the delight of smelling the air around the vines, partaking in the local foods, and awashing himself in new, young winemakers.  He traveled to France as always, and this year back to Spain.  The sommelier returned from San Sebastián determined to educate us in his culinary discoveries: sardine, olive, and pepperoncini skewers are now all the rage in our little peach house on the fringe of Houston.  For his spark and drive, we are grateful.  

Last year, a recalibration was done at Allergan, and so Bryana was given the task of managing health systems in the Houston Medical Center for her division.  Many hours were spent organizing, meeting, educating, teaching, demonstrating, exhibiting, negotiating, and developing.  In the spring a welcomed sisters/father trip to Nashville was spent researching family history in the state libraries.  In the summer, Bryana turned 40, and celebrated whimsically on outdoor patios. In the fall, hot air balloons adorned the sky in the crisp New Mexico air, as Bryana and her younger sister floated their way into heaven.  All the while, work weeks passed by much the same.  Busy, yet quiet.  In the end, there are still many hours to be spent working, however the collaborative sparkle is much brighter, and the possibilities here interminable.  This role, Bryana says, is preparing her for who is she meant to be.  For her tenacity, we are grateful.


Overall, 2018 was a normal year, if there ever was such a thing.  Nothing too brazen touched our little peach house on the fringe of Houston.  We ate, we drank, we traveled.  We slept busked in quilted blankets. We laughed, we loved, we lost, and learned.  And we are grateful for it all: our friends and family, here and around the globe, including YOU.  Most of all, we are grateful for this thing called life, and that we get to spend it with each other. 

Wishing you and yours a Happy Holiday Season!! May 2019 be full of gratitude.

~The Howe’s~

nashville news: a weekend steeped in history

we touched down in Nashville late one night, midweek, the sun shimmering it’s reflection on the winding Cumberland as we pressed into the country music capital.

venturing into the hipsteric East End, we located our quaint Airbnb on Calvin Avenue and settled in for the night, planning an early rise to explore the Nashville Genealogy and Heritage Records at the public library.

the sun shaded and birds quiet, we awoke with chicory coffee and bacon, and faced the north winds into downtown. we scoured through search after search for ascendants of Cindarilla (Davis) Coalson, and after three hours had located census records, family trees, and possible linkages to immigrant lines in Virginia.

our eyes were then tired and crossed and our minds giddy with exhaustion, so we headed downstairs to the art gallery, where our hearts then hung heavy for the Holocaust Violins on exhibit from the Weinstein Foundation.

a refreshing lunch of succulent smoked pork dripping in vinegar based sauce coupled with bourbon cocktails was devoured at historic Puckett’s Grocery. then we piled into a trolley bus and toured around the frigid city, complete with slants of low country humor, while our bellies rested from the indulgence.

that night we feasted on Gatlin brothers classic music at the Ryman Auditorium, the sweet sounds of harmony rising up to meet us in the pews. peace and music and memories filled our souls, the notes of Dolly and Vince and Conway and Skaggs gliding through the air. exhausted, we fell into bed and dreamed of blue econoline vans and eight track tapes.

(photo credit: djemils)

the national archives welcomed our clan with fervor. stacks of rustled pages lay before us, inviting us into a hazy disarray of typewritten pages of deeds and marriage records and land sales.

rain fell at a steady pace, wetting our heads and cleansing our minds, our ancestral ties solidified. hailing from Virginia, Cindarilla did have her prince, y’all. his name was Charlie Coalson and he fought for the confederacy during the war.

later we entertained Mockingbird Bistro and all its deliciousness. my cafeteria tray shimmered in food glory as we sipped Nero d’avola in requested real wine glasses instead of the trendy plastic put before us. after milkshakes and Rice Krispie treats and cocktails in plastic bags, we drenched ourselves in drag queens and karaoke.

Bellemeade Plantation was not far from our little east end cottage… so we trekked the fifteen miles to southwest Nashville to tour the grounds and smell the air and taste the all wines made on property.

museums beckoned us with their chorus of sweetness, relaying our hunger for fried green tomatoes and Tennessee whiskey.  Dad parlayed the history of the automobile at marathon, as we entered in to a dreamy, sleepy haze.

one last pitstop on music row and we ended our trip secluded indoors with wine and movies and much needed sleep… and while history may have let us down, historical records proved us right… family is a stronger bond than any flippant friendship. much love to my sisters, my father, and those who proceeded before us. what a blessed life we all have.