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~

through all the days, Harvey remains: packing up in the #CoalsonCleanup

it feels like a year has passed in the last month. in the last three weeks. was it really just late august that I stood before the brilliant passing of the moon, my arms power-posed in the triumph of my innate awesomeness?

that week I transported myself from the crisp northwest pacific air to the southern thick humidity, as a veil of misty clouds lowered themselves over our bayou city. it was easy to find humility.

for four days the rains poured from the heavens, cleansing our city from the dirt and debris collected in our souls; our hearts spilling out into the bayous and causeways. for four days our lives were consumed. for all the days after we have thought nothing but Harvey. there is still water standing today.

taking strides to pull ourselves from the disaster, we’ve tried on friends to help pull us through the heartache.

Joe and Irene Beach, my parent’s closest confidants, have swallowed the pain immolating from my parents mouths and hearts and ongoing zeal.  they drove over 3 hours from San Antonio with delicious texan smoked turkey in one hand, and with over 100 packing boxes and materials in the other.

gems like these are hard to find; their friendship stretching through various homes and terrain and fires and floods.  we don’t know what we would do without them.


Tom Anderson, my Daddy’s hometown Jackson County pal, instead of running through fields and streets with baseballs and fishing poles with my young father, drove down from Terrell with an 18-foot horse trailer, 2 humidifiers, and some sheetrock to get the party started.

the hometown buds packed with diligence and vigor, pinpointing precisely what was to be carted away to storage, and what was to be left for my father to utilize while out of his flooded home.  (note the wine books made it to the temporary home.  a win for my dad’s new boss… the sommelier.)


Richard and Jo Engelhart, moved by the spirit to assist their fellow prayer group couple in their urgent quest for normalcy, took time out of their day to move heavy furniture and pack more boxes. 50 years of memories takes a long time to gather. now stored away in a dark garage, the shiny trinkets are dull with depression.

we cannot fathom the devastation that is happening on islands far away, where food and water and diesel is scarce. we are lucky to have friends like these who love without boundaries and commit to helping their friends in need.


the universe has sent us an angel in Art Schmitt, a diligent man who has committed the majority of his days, his time and energy, to help my parents realize the re-engagement of their home. for the past month, this man has traveled to the empty house to assist my father. every damn day. they hung sheetrock in all of the rooms themselves, working 10 hour days to complete the task within a week. paint will ensue soon. I cannot think of someone more dedicated to my father, my mother, my family- then Art.

of course I would be remiss not to his other-half Debbie Schroen, as she has allowed for his desertion to weston lakes every day. we are grateful for such amazing family.


but there is still work to be done, y’all.  over 2000 square feet of tile to be laid through the rooms that held doll houses and sewing machines and writing contraptions.  FEMA has not even visited yet; the waters receded from the home in early september, yet my parents still wait for relief.  thank you to those who have contributed to our efforts, you have made a direct difference in our lives.  at this point, even sommkid is weaving her magic wand with her creative encouragement.



as life returns to “normal” for everyone else, and our busy schedules take over our lives, I remember my father, scraping floors, pulling carpet, piling debris on the side of the curb. he didn’t deserve this. my mother didn’t deserve this. but it happened all the same, leaving a gaping hole in my heart that only grows bigger over time. the worry and sadness almost overwhelms me.

Harvey has invaded my soul, and embedded into the soft flesh of my gut. he pains me every day, striking when least expected, using his broad strokes to wash away the sentiments of our lives.  we pass by overwhelming scenes, every day in the soft comfort of our vehicles, our guts tugging at our bleeding hearts and wrestling with our frazzled minds.  it can almost be too much to bear.


we must find strength.  we will find hope.

we will get through this, y’all. #HoustonStrong #TexasStrong #CoalsonCleanup