Sunday, May 10, 2015

Proud to be a UH Alum

I moved to Houston to work as a speech therapist in the Houston Independent School District.  Then I got married, and like most young women of my generation, quit my job to be a stay-at-home wife. Still I thought I might while away the time until I had the requisite two children by getting a Master's degree.  I visited the University of Houston to find out about their program and decided, like any good University of Texas snob, that the program was not for me.  UH, then condescendingly known as Cougar High ( their mascot is a cougar), was an undistinguished commuter school, not known for much of anything.

Eventually, after a divorce, I did attend the UH Communication Disorders program.  The clinic and offices were located in a small wooden frame building known as The Woods.  It took up one side of the building; the other housed a hamburger joint with better food than the main cafeteria.  The campus wasn't much different from what Ihad seen eight years earlier.  The communication disorders program was small but easily as good as the one at UT Austin.  I enjoyed the camaraderie of the students, the thrill of learning new things, and rejoiced the UH now was known for "something."  We had an outstanding basketball team--Hakeem Olijawon and Clyde Drexler were the stars.  The team, affectionately known to students as Phi Slama Jama made the NCAA finals. 

Later, when I became a board member, and then president, of Communication Disorders Alumni Association, I could see changes.  There were new building, including an Alumni Center, new sculpture on the campus, a nice dining room in the Student Center run by the students in the hotel management program, and some scientific research that was nationally recognized.

I hadn't been on campus much in the past few years but yesterday I attended a Hot Topics workshop given by the now Communication Sciences and Disorders program, and I was amazed at the changes.  New buildings, a new stadium,
new excitement, students who actually live on campus, and a national reputation for both research and teaching.

The department, which had about six professors when I was a student, now has 14 full time academic and clinical professors and it's still growing.  The admission process is far more selective, admitting only 19% of applicants (although I'm pretty sure I could still get in).  The average GPA in courses in their major is 3.92 and the overall GPA is 3.7.  100% of the graduate students pass the national exam for speech pathology and audiology on their first try.  There are externships, specialty tracks, even the only speech pathology assistant program in the state.  The COMD alumni program, which fizzled out a year or so after I finished my presidency, has resurrected itself and is moving ahead enthusiastically. 

I left the workshop with a feeling of pride and excitement.  I can't wait to see where COMD and UH go next. 

Go Coogs!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Books of April

The main character is an assassin (hit man) for a crime boss who wants his wife killed.  How will our hero do it?  Will he do it?  I was moderately concerned about the outcome.  I give this a B.
Cahalan, a reporter for the New York Post, fell victim to a rare autoimmune disease that presented with hallucinations, slurred speech, muscle rigidity, memory loss and other symptoms.  She takes readers through the frightening months of illness and slow recovery.  Very interesting.  This was a book club selection and an unusual one because we usually read fiction.  Had someone not picked it, I probably wouldn't have come across it, but I enjoyed it...if that's the right word for an account of a descent into

Note:  The author is a friend and former critique partner so I've read this book dozens of times since its inception and still enjoyed my umpteenth reading of it.  RJ Parker isn't your typical romance hero though I've fallen in love with him in every version I've read of this book.  Suffering from the aftermath of a brutal attack, he's become a recluse.  Christine Dawson is the heroine who wants to bring him back to life.  Gay rights, the subplot of this book, is a timely topic, and Linda Steinberg handles it masterfully.

 Another book club choice.  We read Russell's The Sparrow and I thought this would be another interesting story.  Nothing like the science fiction Sparrow, this is a Holocaust story that takes place in a small town in Italy,  It kept me engrossed throughout.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Safe

My father bought the safe at an auction at Texas School for the Deaf when I was ten.  It was pretty old then--I'm not going to say how old it is now.  For years it sat in our garage.  I don't remember my parents keeping anything in it.  After Daddy died, my husband asked if we could have it.  He hauled it back to Houston, and his buddy still jokes about the difficulty they had getting it into our garage.  It must weigh close to 1000 pounds.  It's beautiful inside, with flowery material lining the bottom, small drawers and cabinets inside that can be locked and double doors with the outside locked by a combination locked and the next set with a key. 

Before he died, my husband asked that I save it to his son, Bryan, Now that I'm getting ready to move (later than expected--they postponed the move-in date, much to my annoyance) it is the right time for Bryan to have it.  He came in from Bastrop by himself.  I expected at least two or three helpers but he strode into the garage and announced he could move it himself.  It took several hours but darned if he didn't manage.

I'm feeling nostalgic.  I will miss the old safe.  It's been part of my life for so long and I'm very protective of old things..  Not that I've spent much time with it, but it's always been there, an object from my childhood that has hung around. But it wouldn't fit in my new 2-bedroom apartment; it would stick out like a sore thumb.  So now it's off to the next generation, and fortunately Bryan didn't break his back moving it into his truck.  I know he'll take good care of it.  He likes old things, too.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Quote for the Week

Do not regret growing old; it is a privilege denied to many.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

My Not-So-Green Thumb

Years ago my mother grew African violets.  They thrived in her family room. They were healthy. They were beautiful. Even though most of my attempts at growing plants were failures, I thought perhaps I had inherited the African violet gene.  So I bought a plant, put it near the window in my bathroom, nurtured it tenderly, fed it African violet food, and watched it shrivel and die.  I bought another violet and another.  They died, too.  I felt like the Dr. Kevorkian of the African violet line.  Lest I murder any more lovely violets, I quit buying them.

Last week I had lunch at a friend's house and admired the lovely orchid on her window sill.  "They're so delicate, they must be hard to grow," I said.  "Not at all," she answered.  "I just put four ice cubs in the soil every Friday.  That's it."

 Now I have a yen for an orchid.  Wouldn't it look charming in my bathroom window?  Even I could put ice cubes in the soil once a week.  I saw a stunner at the supermarket this afternoon, a glorious deep purple, not unlike the color of the African violets I destroyed so long ago.  I craved that plant. It cost $34.  I looked at the other orchids, which cost less, but none of them could compare.  I wandered around the display, mulling over the prospect of buying it.  I worried that I might kill it and thought of how I would feel as it gradually....or quickly turned brown and died.  I worried that my cat would try to eat it.  Are orchids poisonous?  I decided $34 was too much to spend on a plant that had no future.  But I've been thinking about it all day, all evening.  Maybe.  On the other hand, maybe not.

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