Roger Martin and Life in the Loop


June 6, 2011

Organic Produce from Wylderose Farm

Margaret's tomatoesMargaret Billingsley, the former speech therapist at West U Elementary, has retired to Wylderose Farm in New Ulm, Texas with her husband and their beloved Shelties.  They are now growing organic fruits and vegetables.  As a matter of fact, Margaret purchased the shade structures from Teas Nursery when that landmark local garden shop closed its doors.  Check out her gorgeous home-grown tomatoes!

This is the first year of production from Wylderose Farm. Their orchard includes peach, crabapple, plum, and fig trees. The fruit garden is planted with blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.  The vegetable garden contains tomatoes, squash, onions, corn, potatoes, English peas, sugarsnap peas, beans, carrots, radishes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, eggplant, peppers, and many herbs.

Click here to join the “first pick” email list for advance notice of Wylderose crops.  And, as Margaret says, “Happy munching!”

Roger Martin

May 27, 2011

West University Place Fire Department - Kudos!

A practise dummy is "rescued" by The West University Place Fire Department

No, West U’s beloved Scout House is not burning down. This is a fire drill performed by the West University Place Fire Department. A practice dummy is being rescued from inside the smoke-filled building.

The City of West University is an independent municipality, separate from the City of Houston which surrounds it. Here in West U, we have our very own mayor, city council, police department, fire department, ambulance service, recreation facilities and water works.  And they are excellent!  In the West University Place Fire Department, for example, everyone is double-certified to serve on both fire trucks and ambulances.

A minor grease fire in a local restaurant is extinguished by the West University Place Fire DepartmentNow this is the real deal a week later—a minor grease fire at a local restaurant.

We West U residents are justly proud of our policemen and firemen, as I can personally attest. How can I ever forget the out-of-control gas grill, the frantic 911 call, the big red trucks, the screaming sirens, the guys in bright yellow rubber suits, the drawn axes – and the delighted crowd of second grade boys. Best birthday party I ever threw!

One reason for West U’s excellent response time is that all our alarms and emergency calls are handled onsite in the city’s central command center – not by a long distance call center located out-of-state or overseas.  For information about the city’s monitored alarm program (DirectLink) click here.

And kudos to our all conscientious police, fire and EMS people!

Roger Martin

May 19, 2011

Arne's Warehouse - Houston's Best Kept Secrets

Arne's Warehouse - party suppliesCalling itself the largest party store in Texas, Arne's Warehouse is a party store on steroids. This two-story warehouse is located just west of downtown, along the old railroad tracks. Arne's Warehouse was selling from a warehouse to the public ten years before Sam Walton dreamed up the concept.

If you need floral supplies, paper goods, ribbons, balloons, platters, trays, glassware, or (oddly) pet supplies, Arne’s can supply it cheap. Classroom materials? – no problem.  Baby showers? – they’ve got it. Piñatas? – take your pick. Mardi Gras celebration? – get it year-round. Graduation party? – Arne's Warehouse has you covered.

Yes, Arne's Warehouse has a website. But trust me on this one -- forget the website. You want to go in person, and you want to go when you have plenty of time to browse. You never know what you will find, or where you will find it.

Arne's Warehouseis located at 2830 Hicks, just six miles from downtown West U. Enjoy!

Roger Martin

Posted in Best Kept Secrets
May 12, 2011

Cody Ide - Congratulations!

Cody IdeCongratulations to Jo Anna Ide’s son, Cody Ide! I have known Cody since he was a toddler, so I consider him a member of the Roger Martin Properties extended family.

Cody Alan Ide is graduating as a Texas Scholar from Mirabeau B. Lamar High School. Texas Scholars complete all their high school requirements, plus at lease two courses for college credit.  After graduation, Cody will spend the summer working at Abercrombie and Fitch in the Galleria -- that is, when he isn’t traveling!  Cody plans two trips this summer – first to visit friends in Seattle, Washington and then to see Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with his family.

In the fall, Cody will be majoring in Hotel Management at the University of Houston.

Well done, Cody and Jo Anna Ide!

Roger Martin

May 10, 2011

Cost of Living - Houston

Houston's Low cost of livingWhen it comes to cost of living, Houston ranks among world's 'Cities of Opportunity'

From the Houston Business Journal, May 3, 2011

"Houston ranks No. 1 in the world in terms of cost of living competitive advantage and purchasing power, putting it among the top 11 cities overall of 26 included in a new global study.

"The ''Cities of Opportunity'' study released Tuesday by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC shows that Houston offers the strongest purchasing power in all cities studied in relation to the combined cost of business occupancy.

"Cities were scored in 10 categories, each with multiple measured components: Intellectual capital and innovation; technology readiness; transportation and infrastructure; health, safety and security; sustainability; economic clout; ease of doing business; cost; demographics and livability; and lifestyle assets.

"What's more, Houston scored well for its relatively low crime rate and number of hospitals per 100,000 of population.

"Overall, Houston ranked No. 11 among the 26 cities studied with a total score of 1,050. New York topped the overall study at No. 1 with a score of 1,226, with the highest scores in the technology readiness and lifestyle assets categories. Toronto ranked No. 2 on the list, followed by San Francisco at No. 3. Rounding out the top five were Stockholm, Sweden, and Sydney, Australia.

"The other two U.S. cities on the list included Chicago, at No. 7, and Los Angeles, which finished right behind Houston at No. 12 with a score of 1,043.

"Houston's lowest scores were in the areas of environmental sustainability (24th of 26 cities), and transportation and infrastructure (22nd of 26)."

To read more: Houston ranks among world's 'Cities of Opportunity' | Houston Business Journal.

As we here in Houston know, when it comes to lifestyle and cost of living, Houston is a great place to be!


May 10, 2011

Texas Business Climate - Best in Nation

Houston Business Climate - best in nationThe Texas business climate is the best in the natiion, as a recent study just published by Chief Executive.

“More than 500 CEO’s considered a wide range of criteria, from taxation and regulation to workforce quality and living environment, in our annual ranking of the best states for business… It’s the seventh time in seven years running that Texas has led the states, and the seventh year California – to no one’s great surprise – ranked as worst state…

“What CEO’s often seek are areas with consistent policies and regulations that allow them to plan, as well as intangible factors such as a state’s overall attitude toward business and the work ethic of its population.  This is one reason Texas has consistently held the No. 1 position since 2005.  It gets strong marks in all areas important for business creation, and has the second-lowest taxes in the nation. The state has created more jobs than any other—about 250,000 last year. Not surprisingly, it also enjoys the highest inward net migration rate of any state. As a result, Texas gained four Congressional seats…”

By J.P. Donion,, May 3, 2011.  To read the full article, click here...

So a great Texas business climate translates into a strong Houston economy, and that in turn gives us a strong local housing market.

Roger Martin

May 5, 2011

The Clayton Library – A Best Kept Secret

Clayton house, designed by Birdsall Briscoe, houses the genealogical collection of the Houston Public Library SystemThis beautifully-restored, red-brick, Georgian home is another of Houston’s Best Kept Secrets – the Clayton Library of the Houston Public Library system (  Clayton House was built in 1917 and designed by noted Houston architect Birdsall P. Briscoe.  The Clayton Library complex houses the Center for Genealogical Research.

Thousands of researchers from all over the country visit the Clayton Library every month.  They sift through an extensive collection of US and foreign books, CD-ROM’s, microfiche, and a collection of over 5,000 family histories.  There is a branch of the Mormon LDS library, and I’m told that this library is one of the best sources of historical Spanish records.

Just walk into the Family History Room, and browse the stacks for your last name – chances are a book has been written about your ancestors.  These family histories make quirky and interesting reading.  All of us are related, to a greater or lesser degree, to princes, paupers, pastors and horse thieves.  I discovered that I am a distant cousin to the bread-baking Baird family.  My wife is related to three women who were executed during the Salem witch trials.  It is awfully tempting to draw conclusions about our respective families – but I’ve been married long enough to know a really bad idea when it hits me!

The Clayton Library is located at 5300 Caroline, in Houston’s Museum District.  It is about four blocks north of Hermann Park and just four miles from downtown West U.

Roger Martin

April 27, 2011

Julia Ideson Library - Houston's Best Kept Secrets

Julia Ideson LibraryWhen it was first constructed in 1926, the Julia Ideson Library was intended as the centerpiece of a five-building civic center in Downtown Houston.  But then came the Crash and the Great Depression, and those other public buildings were never built.  Today, this Spanish Renaissance building is hemmed in by modern skyscrapers and buildings, including the Jesse Jones Library next door.

This was the central library until the Jesse Jones Library was constructed in 1976.  How well I remember the sweeping marble staircases, whose treads were “dished” by the feet of countless readers.  Then there were the intricately carved balusters; the ornate ceilings; and the WPA-era murals.  Stepping from steel-and-glass contemporary Houston into this library was like stepping back in time.

How fitting, then, that this building is now the repository of the Houston Metropolitan Research Center .  This collection houses over four million photos of Houston’s early years, as well as architectural drawings, historic maps, and rare books and pamphlets.

The Julia Ideson Library was designed by the Boston architecture firm, Cram and Ferguson, whose other projects include the campus plan for Rice University, Houston’s Trinity Episcopal Church, the campus of New Jersey’s Princeton University, the US Military Academy at West Point, and New York’s St. John the Divine Church.  The Julia Ideson Library is a Recorded Texas Historical Landmark, a City of Houston Protected Landmark, a Texas State Archaeological Landmark, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A 21,500 square foot state-of-the-art archival wing is currently under construction on the south side of the building, and it follows the original architectural plans.  The goal is to “create a welcoming environment, (including a public reading room in the historic Texas Room) and beautifully landscaped gardens so that more Houstonians may enjoy this historic building and its grounds.”  (Julia Ideson Library Preservation Partners, )  The new wing includes a two-story loggia with open-air seating on both levels, giving a gracious transition to the palm-shaded courtyard or “outdoor reading room”.  Completion of this project is planned for the summer of 2011.

The Julia Ideson Library, at 500 McKinney, is located seven miles from downtown West U.  Visitor’s Tip:  Inexpensive basement parking is located under the nearby Jesse Jones Library.

Roger Martin

March 14, 2011

2530 Stanmore Drive - SOLD in River Oaks, Houston, TX

2530 Stanmore Drive

2530 Stanmore Drive is a traditional-style River Oaks home byuilt in 1994 with 4 or 5 bedrooms and 4.5 baths.  The home features three fireplaces, hardwoods, marble tile floors, and lush landscaping.

Property Information

  • Sold For: $1,575,000
  • House Size: 5,877 sq ft
  • Lot Size: 9,150 sq ft
  • Bedrooms: 4 or 5
  • Bathrooms: 4.5
  • Buyer Represented by:  Julie Webber 
  • MLS #48367284


  • Marble tile entry with double crown molding
  • Hardwoods, recessed lighting, built-ins
  • Three fireplaces, French doors, bay window
  • Island kitchen with granite counters and built-in appliances
  • Master bath with marble tile floors, double sinks, jetted tub, separate shower
  • Third floor game room with full bath
  • Lush landscaping, fountain, spa, patio
  • Quarters with kitchenette and full bath

>More Great River Oaks Area Homes for Sale

March 8, 2011

“Animals in Translation” by Dr. Temple Grandin and Catherine Johnson

Temple Grandin - Animals in TranslationThere is nothing more unique than a new idea – and Temple Grandin is full of them.  Animals in Translation is a fascinating look at animal behavior, written from the point of view of the autistic author.  Dr. Grandin suggests that, like some autistic people, animals, are primarily visual thinkers.  This stands in contrast to most of us other humans, who may be abstract or verbal thinkers.  Dr. Grandin makes the point that her autistic tendencies have given her the tools to become the animal expert she is today.

Animals in Translation is unique look at a new and different way of communicating – both with animals and - more importantly - with each other.

Recommended by Ann M.

Roger Martin Properties

Posted in What West U Reads