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Saturday, July 22, 2017

One Question...



One morning a few days ago, a writing friend who posts thoughtfully on FaceBook, posted the simple question, "What is the coolest thing you have ever done?"

I do not often enter threads of conversation like this, but this one so intrigued me as I read some of the comments that I quickly typed in one of my own, without considering more than a few seconds.

So many...birthing 3 sons! Sitting in front of a peat fire in Ireland with a cat in my lap while the innkeeper told ghost stories, watching butterfly caterpillars munch on dill with my 3 yr granddaughter this morning.

The answers kept coming, but more than that, I started thinking. Not constantly, but an all day, in and out kind of musing - not unlike the repeating melody when an old song is mentioned and you can't get it off your mind. Others were returning to the question as well, adding another cool thing they remembered. I kept returning to scene after scene in my mind, but the next thought I posted referred to times I have been allowed to play  musical instruments I would never have dreamed I would see or touch.

Played the organ in Gereja Immanuel, the oldest church in Jakarta, Indonesia.  Played the piano in Shipman House B&B, Hilo, Hawaii which was once played by the last Queen of Hawaii.

There are a great many ways I could have responded.  Some of them are constants, so much with me that I do not single them out. Years of growing into the certainty of God's love and faithfulness.  Loving and staying married to Joe for almost 54 years. Moving 21 times in the first 28 years of our marriage, and making it home every time. Knowing by heart the stories of my ancestry, and the legacy of faith and love modeled for me since I was born. Surviving a massive postpartal hemorrhage that nearly claimed my life when my first son was one week old. Being witness to the courage and determination of our youngest son as he lost his vision. Added to the births of our own children, being part of the birth experiences of grandchildren. Being gifted with corneas from people I will never know for transplants that restored my vision. 

Flying as a passenger in a jet plane piloted by my son. Admiring the homework, the family buiding of our sons and our daughters -in-law. Living in Jakarta, Indonesia for 4 1/2 years, learning a language I had never heard before, hearing the sounds of mosques and gongs and cik -caks and street vendors.  Traveling. Riding a speedboat across Lake Toba to the island within an island on Sumatra. Having a Singapore Sling in Raffles Hotel in Singapore, watching my sons and husband para-sail on the beach in Bali, climbing the steps at Borobudur, staying in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, visiting the Golden Bhudda in Thailand, riding a funicular railway in the Alps, hearing an organ concert in Notres Dame Cathedral, eating at sidewalk cafes in Paris, eating scones at Shore Cottage Tearoom in the Scottish Highlands, Seeing Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables in London. 

Falling in love with poetry.   Learning to pay attention, be astonished, and tell about it. Learning to write it myself. Finding the sacred ordinary. 

I wonder if "cool" means awesome, profound, or life-changing, or just interesting and unusual. I will probably keep remembering cool things.  And feeling grateful for all of them.




Tuesday, July 4, 2017

My Part Time Job



During my senior year in high school (1957-1958), I worked after school for R.C. Buckner, the mayor of our town at his home, primarily taking some dictation and typing correspondence for him. This work had nothing to do with his being mayor or his many civic responsibilities.  (As this article mentions, he even ran for mayor in order to further his interest in the location and building of Lake Jacksonville, which was completed just prior to my graduation from high school.) 

Another of his interests was in developing a herd of Red Angus cattle and the letters I typed were part of that interest. At that time Red Angus cattle were not common as we find today. I had no idea that someday I would live in a Texas county where it is not uncommon to see herds of these beautiful animals. Not long ago, a group of us visited a nearby historical home for a tour and I was not surprised to see a large herd of them.

Mr. Buckner  was a kind employer and encouraged me in many ways, among them my interest in going to college. He helped me to apply for a work study scholarship to Sam Houston State which I received. Although I eventually chose to attend another college, that experience was part of launching me to further education and I am grateful to him. 


Quoted from the Jacksonville Daily Progress article:
"Summer fun in Jacksonville for many includes a day at Buckner Park; boating or skiing passed Buckner Dam at Lake Jacksonville; or attending end of school activities in Buckner Chapel at Jacksonville College.
Who is this man whose name is linked to the city of Jacksonville and its past?
Born 1895 on the family ranch, located on Hwy 84 between Reklaw and Mt. Enterprise; R.C. Buckner would attend college at Stephen F. Austin and teach school for a short period of time. In my interviews with locals he’s described as a moral man—a visionary who stood his ground and wasn’t afraid to take a chance.
Buckner owned a construction company and was a member of the Jacksonville City Council when Mayor Tom Acker decided to build Lake Jacksonville in the 1950s... 
...R.C. Buckner loved the family ranch and expanded it to 1,050 acres from the initial 500 his father had and from acres he purchased from other family members.
In 1954, Buckner became interested in Red Angus cattle when he heard of a small group of people meeting in Ft. Worth to organize the Red Angus Association of America. Two Black Angus would occasionally have a red offspring. Purists in the cattle business would dispose of, or simply give away these red calves. Soon R.C. let it be known he wanted them; built up his herd and in 1966-68 served as president of the national association.
Crockett explained that for many years, R. C. had an annual Red Angus production sale in May or June. A huge tent was erected at the ranch; bleachers were made of square hay bales. There were always two auctioneers, dressed in tuxedos. “It was quite an affair … was catered too … ”
Crockett continued, “One year in Dallas, Mr. Buckner had the Grand Champion bull; a doctor from Georgia purchased it for a hefty sum. Because the ranch foreman was ill, my wife and I drove to Georgia and delivered the bull ... ”
Buckner’s herd became well known throughout the country. In September 1969, he had a dispersion sale. Two men from west of the Rockies, drove across country in a two-ton truck to watch Buckner sell 750 head. They ended up filling their truck with 20 Red Angus and would become leaders in the association.
It is evident; the full story of R. C. Buckner is too big to tell here.

http://www.jacksonvilleprogress.com/news/a-lake-s-legacy---r-c-buckner-visionary/article_5db94422-5de6-11e7-88c4-47b104451a91.html

Friday, June 23, 2017

What a State We're In!

Another postcard from our past might show this picture!  Texans are fond of all things shaped like Texas. I have seen Texas shaped cookie cutters, cake pans, and cornbread pans.  Belt buckles and T-shirts embellished with the familiar shape seem to be everywhere and there are even entire stores dedicated to all things Texas. So no surprise that there are swimming pools shaped like the Lone Star State. There is a Texas-shaped Lone Star Lagoon at Six Flags over Texas in SanAntonio. In December 2016 the Mariott Marquis Houston opened near Discovery Green Park, readying for the Super Bowl. 110 feet above ground level at eh hotel perches the Texas-shaped lazy river pool for guests to enjoy.This was outlined in blue lights for the grand opening.

But long before these pools, was a community pool called the Texas Pool in Plano, Texas. It opened in 1961 and is still in operation for the 2017 season, inviting members to swim across Texas. It is a saltwater pool, and generations of Plano residents have enjoyed it. Our 3 sons were among those. We moved to Plano in 1976.  I remember packing them and their swim paraphernalia into the car to go.  In later years we would have our own pool but I will always remember their shouts of "Marco!" and "Polo!" and making a splash in Texas!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Post Card from the Past: Liberty Hotel, Jacksonville, TX

This grand old building was the Liberty Hotel, in Jacksonville, Texas. I have in the years since, stayed in many fine hotels all over the world, but this is the first hotel I remember. It is part of the memory pictures of my childhood, not for the occasions I attended there (although I did go to a tea there my senior year in HS where I wore a suit and wide-brimmed hat!) but because my family ran a diner style cafe in the building across the alley. That building contained the bus station and the Bus Station Cafe, owned and operated by my parents, Howard and Opal Teal. Daddy had a reputation for being a great cook, and I understand people still talk about his chicken fried steak and hot rolls.  My first "job" was there when I was 12 years old! I loved greeting customers like Daddy did and taking their orders. 

It burned in 1973.The bell from the hotel is currently on display at the Vanishing Texana Museum. The Holcomb Candy Company was nearby. We used to go by there when we came home for visits so we could buy sacks of broken peanut patties and peanut brittle! 



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Harvest June 13, 2017

Summer may be a few days away on the calendar, but it has already arrived with a vengeance here. You only have to open the door to the back porch, which feels like opening an oven door. It is pleasant very early in the day, but by 8:30 this morning, the heat was wilting.  We are harvesting plenty from our small raised bed garden.  We need a bigger picking basket because this one is overflowing and we still left tomatoes on the vine beginning to turn pink. We try to pick them at that stage to get ahead of the birds. We enjoy this rush of producing now because we know for everything except the okra and peppers, the heat will soon stop flowering and fruit setting. Tonight we will have tomato and corn pie.  Gumbo tomorrow. Pickling and freezing will enable us to use most of it, with some to share as well.

Blessed with bounty!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

My Son and His Son

There are so many sights and sounds that fill a Grandmother's heart.  I have loved watching my sons and their daughters and am grateful for their special relationships.  I am proud of the men my sons have become and the fact that they are engaged with their daughters.  And it has been a joy to be their Granmary.  Since Joe and I had 3 sons, these girls have been an amazing delight. And now we have a grandson!  When I see Ben holding him, I marvel - thinking of Ben himself as a baby and a little boy who grew so fast.  I love seeing my son hold his son, thinking of the

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Surprise



Nora and I started a routine 6 months ago, on November 26, 2016. That is the morning she woke up to find her parents missing and Papa Joe and I told her that her baby brother Oliver was arriving!  Knowing that we would be taking care of Nora, I had some surprises planned.  The first one was a Strawberry Shortcake nightgown and Shopkins slippers. I had a bottom drawer in my bathroom that was empty, so I put the gown and slippers in it for Nora to find when she needed a surprise. She loved that and was more than ready to look in the drawer again the next morning which found a book about a new baby hiding in the drawer. Her parents came home by that afternoon and I thought she might forget the surprise drawer in all the excitement plus another set of grandparents arriving, but she remembered!   I had a few more small things to put in the surprise drawer so the routine became a habit.

Six months later, you might call this a tradition!  Nora keeps checking and the drawer keeps getting a refill. Not all the surprises are big, and not all of them come from a store. There have been ribbons and buttons, a silk daisy for her dress up box, watercolors to paint with, paintbrushes, yarn pieces to make yarn pictures, craft rhinestone "jewels", and a recycled mint tin for her treasure box. I bought a puppet theater from a friend whose little girls outgrew it with a whole sack of puppets who became surprises one at a time. Once, a bunny who lost his ear appeared in the drawer with his ear sewed back on.


One or two days she forgot to check and I thought the idea was getting old, but she always remembers the next day.  It is a simple thing, and gives me a chance to connect with her and talk about it.    I have fun thinking of little things to refill the drawer and more fun watching her find them.  She comes to tell me thank you and hug my neck.  But the thing that makes me smile most is that she has started bringing ME surprises.  A tiny rosebud from the garden, something she has found, or one of her drawings.  Surprises are good things!