Victoria, TX: November 27 – December 3, 2010

It was over 300 miles from Livingston to our winter respite in Portland, and we were still a week ahead of our expected arrival.  So we chose a stop in Victoria and found a very neat in-town campground for the visit.  There were four memorable events.

First, my “new” computer failed again, both mechanically and operationally.  More hours on the phone with Dell netted a new part installed by an authorized agent.  Dell then had me re-install the OS.

Second, I received a surprise e-mail.  John and Wynn Walker, the Schipperke owners from Amarillo whom we’d met in OKC, sent me a very large order for Nantucket baskets for all of their children and grandchildren.  We negotiated a delivery date (not by Christmas!), and I used this down time to organize the project.

Third, we visited the Museum of the Coastal Bend.  The Coastal Bend is the section of the east Texas coast from Orange County (east of Houston) down to the border.  There are numerous museums in the area; this smaller one was opened in 2003.  It is a member of the LaSalle Odyssey, a confederation of museums
sharing the responsibility of expanding the archeology and legend of Rene Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, Jesuit priest and explorer who traveled throughout the entire Mississippi region and claimed it for France.  During his later exploration of Texas, his flagship, La Belle, was wrecked in Matagorda Bay.  The ship was excavated in 1996-97, and seven of her eight cannons are on display in the Victoria facility.  It was a slow day, and the director on duty led us into the active archeological laboratory, where we watched, learned and conversed — up close and personal!

Finally, we attended a Christmas performance in town that, if I could, I’d repeat with the same frequency I attend the Nutcracker and the Messiah.  It is called Christmas at the Carillon, and it was performed at the Victoria Methodist Church.   Craig Hella Johnson, a five-time Grammy winner, is the founder of Conspirare, a “Company of Voices.”  He is based in Austin, and this choral Christmas program is in its 17th year.  It performs in Victoria and San Antonio as well as Austin.  The program is a consensus of a wide variety of music, ranging from liturgical to popular, nearly all re-arranged by Johnson.  His voices are a combination of symphonic and chamber singers, both professional and volunteer.  In recent years, the program has featured Patrice Pike,  a forty year old singer-guitarist-songwriter of high repute in the area whose genre is “bohemian rock.”   The compendium of music is too broad to detail here, but I urge you to go to an
actual PDF copy of the 2010 program at

http://conspirare.org/wp-content/uploads/CARILLON_Dec2010_Program.pdf.

It is not only a biographical introduction to the performance and its principals; it is literally a libretto of the entire performance.  Music is provided by Johnson’s piano, from which he directs, and expert percussionist Thomas Burritt.  The full story of the group is at www.conspirare.org.

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