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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Today my sweet Mother, Opal Terrell Teal would be 103 years old.  She died 10 years ago, a month short of her 93rd birthday.  I miss her still, and while thinking of her I think of so many things about her that I miss, things that remind me of her.

she played the first piano notes I ever heard,
loved all the old Baptist hymns plus
Rustic Dance and I Love You a Bushel and a Peck
took me to piano lessons and made sure I practiced
when I played my piano today, it was a tribute to her

she found the prettiest cloth to make my dresses
smoothing fabric on her bed, laying the tissue patterns, cutting with care
sitting for hours at her Singer 
in front of the window where Hawthorne bloomed
pinning and fitting before hand-stitching hems
and teaching me that, too  

 she brought me yellow roses when I was a young mother of  3 sons
Tyler roses, tight yellow buds in a bunch
in her last years there were petals of yellow sticky notes
to remind me she loved me

I miss her laughter,
the magazine and newspaper clippings she used to send in letters
she had the most beautiful handwriting
I miss the way she loved coffee
the way she smelled of face powder and Tide
I miss sitting by her,  
her wrinkled hands clapping with joy or clasped in prayer
clinging by faith until it was by sight

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Fall Garden

One of the consolations or our summer heat is the arrival of our second growing season, our fall garden.  We again grow a salad bowl of lettuces - Romaine, Red and
Green Leaf and Butter lettuce thrive, and cold weather veggies like cabbage, collards, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, and chard begin to thrive.

We plant old favorite herbs in the new beds as well - basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, sage, and Mexican mint marigold, the Texas offering which tastes like Tarragon, which does not grow well here. Our garden is one more thing which makes  us feel at home in our new surroundings.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Getting Ready for Oliver

When visitors are coming to our home, we prepare for them, and meet them at the door with welcome hugs. In many ways, we make ready.  It might be setting the table and cooking favorite dishes to share with them, or planning a place for them stay while they are here. Offering hospitality is a gift from us as well as a gift to us because there is so much joy in getting ready and then spending time together.

I am thinking of a brand new person who will soon be here to join our family. Oliver Hilton Parker is due to be born near the first of December! Every day brings us closer to that glad time and just as we prepare for those who temporarily join us, more importantly and thoughtfully we prepare to greet him with open arms.  The crib is in place, dressed in soft cream linens. Colorful banners hang on the walls, and bright bins hold baby things and toys. The nursery is amazing and deserves its own blog post, so that will come later.

I am knitting a tiny newborn size sweater (above) that I know will only fit him briefly, and starting a small coverlet which will be like a Victorian crazy quilt, stitched with all the old-fashioned stitches taught me by Oliver's great, great grandmother Curley.

Getting ready!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Welcome to Fall

One of the things I have always enjoyed about making a new home feel like "ours" is opening boxes and finding the place where seasonal decorations will fit.  Now that Ben and Kristen's collection of autumn stuff joins with ours, we have even more than usual. This wreath is hung on our front courtyard gate and I smile every time I see it.  I hope it speaks welcome to our new neighborhood and makes our neighbors smile too. Even though we continue to have summertime temperatures here in South Texas, there is a difference in the light filtering through the still green trees. The morning mist seems heavier on the low spots as I look out over the lake behind our house. Houses are further apart, but most yards are beginning to sport some fall color, a pumpkin or two, and wreaths of their own. We are ready for fall - for autumn colors, smells of cinnamon and allspice, autumnal tables offering squashes like butternut and acorn, hot soups, and spicy chili. It is the season of fall gardens, county fairs, football games, pumpkin spice lattes, gingerbread, and apple cider.  Welcome to this season.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Hummingbird Visitors

The last 2 weeks our hummingbird feeders have been in demand. We have 4 feeders in several places in our yard, plus several container plants that have blooms they like,  so dozens of tiny, chattering hummingbirds whirl in at various times during the day to sip, sit, dive and dart, returning again and again for another taste of sweetness. They are quite territorial, claiming their dining rights vigorously. Most of the time we hear them before we see them, almost feeling as if we are in a bee hive.  What a delight!  I hope our guests feel welcome (and full) and mark our place as a place to stop during every fall and spring southerly migration. As we plan and plant in our new garden space, we will be sure to include blooms that attract hummingbirds!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

My Kitchen Table

During the preparation for our recent move, one of the pieces of furniture we chose not to bring with us was this table.  We were moving to share a home with our youngest son and his family. We would be using their furniture in our new dining room, and in the kitchen would be the table long used as our dining table, Grandma Terrell's oak table.  The butcher block parson's table that had graced our kitchens in 9 different homes over more than 40 years would need to go. It was sagging in the middle - showing its age and the number of times it had been moved, not to mention the markings acquired during cooking preparations, meals, snacks, art and sewing productions worked on by our growing family of little boys, and in most recent years, their daughters. There were even spots where glue and glitter and the paint from model airplanes seemed to be ingrained in the wood.  But my oldest son wanted the table. Sean remembered the table as a fixture of his growing up years, a leaning place later.  He was 6 years old when my parents gave us the money to buy a new table because our family had outgrown a table for 4.

So, the table would go to Sean.  But first, I wanted to give it a little help. Joe and I bought the table from Storehouse, a company at the time with a reputation for quality natural wood furniture. We had it made from pecan wood.  The butcher block wood and parson's style made it perfect for a succession of chairs to go around it.  I knew of a local craftsman who makes things from old wood. His artistry is beyond recycling or repurposing. So we loaded the table into my truck, took it to Mr. Hawkins in Rosenberg, and asked him what he could do with it. He loved the table and in spite of the cost he quoted for its restoration, I left it in his hands.  I liked that he loved the table too. Nearly 3 months later, our family table is in another kitchen, and it is still our family table.  we recently had breakfast with Sean and Teion and Skye, along with Ben, Nora, plus Tim and Debi, family friends. It felt right.  On the table, along with the breakfast casserole, they placed a framed poem I wrote many years ago. The following is the copy of the poem I posted once on my "kitchen" blog.                       

It would be a mistake to indicate that the only ingredients in my kitchen required for successfully and joyfully feeding my family were found in my pantry or simmering on the stove.  I will occasionally include table blessings, some “table talk”, and important for the keeper of this kitchen, prayers.  I wrote this one as a prayer poem in 1998.
                                              My Kitchen Table
                      As I open your Word and lean here one more time,
                  Make my table a holy place with your presence, Lord…
                     This table of pecan wood, not hand crafted acacia.
              This table scratched and stained with family years and family tears.
             This table that has been a family gathering place in so many places,
                 A place of offering and receiving nourishment of many kinds.
                     A place of joy and jelly, high chairs, and holding hands.
                   Birthday cakes and boy talks, spilled milk and spilled hearts.
            A place where I have put my head down and wet the wood with tears.
                         A place where your care and feeding of my soul
                            Joined the care and feeding of my family.
                              My heart is seated at this table, Lord.
                                You make this a holy place.
                                   I worship you.
                                                      Mary Ann Parker, March 1, 1998

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Books Read, Books Shared

Last week I said that I had donated a number of the books I have read in the past few years to our public library. Of course, I kept a few of my favorites. Below is a list of a few of the books our reading circle chose to read and discuss in the past year. I read others, because I enjoy mystery, poetry, and spiritual formation books,  but these are among my collection of memoir. I am thankful for books to read, and thankful that I am able to share them with others.

Amazing Grace, A Vocabulary of Faith  by Kathleen Norris

Committed, by Elizabeth Gilbert

Founding Mothers, by Cokie Roberts

A Bushel's Worth, by Kayann Short

Not the Mother I Remember,  by Amber Starfire

My Life in France, by Julia Child

Dakota, A Spiritual Geography, by Kathleen Norris

In Order to Live, by Yeonmi Park