What do the Holocaust, Beer and Flowers have in common? ( #2)


Here I am in the second weekend of my quest.  Remember that I’m starting out slow and doing the easier things on my list at first.

(PS…listening to Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Marricone makes this blog so much more intense…)

This weekend’s shenanigans included:

  • Visit a museum alone
  • Have a meal (out) solo
  • Discover something quirky
  • Give back

I figured since WWII is one my strongest interests I’d visit the Holocaust museum.  I’ve been to the one in DC and also in London – both of which were terrifying and heartbreaking.  Houston’s done a wonderful job of preserving the memory of such a horrific tragedy in such a tasteful way.  If you haven’t visited this gem you must carve out a few hours on a weekend.  There was a sweet, little man who greeted me at the door, wearing his Holocaust survivor pin.  When I exited the tour he was there behind his podium to collect my headphones, “You look stunned – I’m 91 years young,” he smiled, took my phones and scurried off.  I really wanted to grab him and give him a hug, but I didn’t feel that would be appropriate, and my openness sometimes seems to a little too much for others.

On Sunday I headed to Brasil (the cafe, not the country) to have brunch…alone.  A place I’ve been a lot with friends.  When I walked in I noticed a few people at tables by themselves, busy with their iPhones/iPads.  For some reason, when I’m doing all my alone things recently I’ve become less aware of myself, and more aware of what the hell is going on around me.  It’s a great feeling not questioning if my pants are too tight, out of season or if my purse matches my outfit.  I ordered my food and walked confidently around the cafe, looking for a place to sit – careful not to choose a tabletop with 5 chairs.  Dining alone allowed me to eavesdrop (the loud guy across from me wasn’t making it hard) on random conversations.

I got my food and wrote in my journal and left.  It was nice to eat solo – I don’t recommend it if you have nothing to do, though.  Staring at people in a room while they eat is shady.


This girl was on a date with her husband and his cell phone.



Someone’s first time using a toilet, I guess.

After that I headed to the Beer Can House.  At first glance you’d think you walked into a glorified frat house – aluminum cans flattened in long sheets, empty, rusted bottles, placed strategically inside fences and walls, marbles embedded into the concrete yard, lengthened lips of cans hanging like streamers, tops of beer cans looped together, swaying in the wind.  This man’s passion for beer took hobbies to a whole new level.  John Milkovisch and his wife Mary lived in Rice Military – his house  (today and even then, I’m sure) sticks out like a sore, shiny thumb (not in a bad way) among renovated houses and upscale town-homes in a posh area of the city.  Over 30,000 beer cans/bottles, manipulated into a work of art was more than just a project to me.  Apparently John wasn’t sure why anyone even cared about his masterpiece; he said he wouldn’t have even bother to walk a block to see it.  A quote on the wall read: I don’t consider this art.  It’s just a pastime…but sometimes I lie awake at night, trying to figure out why I do it.

I know that feeling all too well…as I’m sure you do or have.  His words resonated in my head as I walked through his house – almost identical as the way it was back in the ’60’s.


2nd Weekend
John and his wife Mary who said he believed beer cured everything.




His son’s footprint


This ladder was taken from his dad’s house and John set it up in the front yard, saying that each step represented a stage in life and when you got past the black step you were home-free.



Lips from the cans (lengthened)




My favorite part of this weekend was today.  Maybe I’m a little emotional and over-the-top at times, but this was especially touching for me.  I wrote down 30 quotes (encouraging words from Harriet Beecher Stowe, Winston Churchill, Dr. Seuss and Einstein). I purchased yellow flowers and some carnations.  Hermes and I went to a local cafe, punched holes in the pieces of paper and attached them with blue ribbon to the flowers. 30 small bunches later, we got in the car and tried to decided on an appropriate location to distribute the tokens.  I started to immediately regret my idea as Hermes steered us down various streets:

Me:  Oh, there’s Whole Foods – should we go there?

Hermes:  (not an advocate of overpriced produce and hippies) No way, f that.

Me: This is a bad idea

Hermes:  This is a great idea

I began to get nervous:

Me:  Why is everyone out walking around?  What if I get beat up?

We decided on Memorial Park – I’d like nothing better than a greasy hamburger after a good workout (something I’ve never done – need to get that on the list), but a flower is just as fun.  I hopped out of the car, Hermes creeping slowly behind me (I’m sure onlookers thought he was a rapist out on the prowl) – I ran past the cars, placing the flowers on door handles and windshields.  One girl happened to be in her vehicle…it took me a second to affix the flower on the handle.  She looked through the window and I gave her a quick smile and a wave.  I’m sure I scared the hell out of her.

Random girl that I didn’t see called out:  Well, isn’t that sweet!!

I ran up to her, saying nothing, handed her the gift and got back into the car.

On the back of each quote was a Gmail account I made up in the event someone wanted to leave a message:  bekindtoastranger@gmail.com

2:03 2:16, 2:28, 2:30, and so on…messages started coming into the account – I added a few below.  One guy snapped a picture and sent it back and another asked me about my ministry.  The last couple of messages caught me by surprise – that there had to be something behind this, and maybe it seems unnatural for a selfless random to try to change the world one carnation at a time.

Anyway, as I read the messages I got goosebumps and felt excited.  If you can change someone’s mood (for the better) even for a moment, it makes all the difference.  One of my favorite quotes I used from Dr. Seuss: A person is a person no matter how small.

This weekend meant to me that you don’t have to be “anyone” in this world to be someone’s somebody for one second.  When I walked through that exhibit at the museum the faces in the pictures were about courage, resilience, despair and hope.  A reminder that one person can make an impact.

No matter how big or small…we all make a difference; we all make some sort of impact, and I wanted to choose wisely.

A collage of the quotes and flowers.


A few emails I got:

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