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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ky Terrell

Ky and Clyde Terrell, circa early 1950's

I recently saw a FaceBook post referring to the son of my friend Barbara Nichols. We called her Bobbie, a college friend who got her degree in nursing at the same time I did. She married, as I did, before we graduated. But she was pregnant during our senior year with their first child, a son they decided to name after my own matrnal grandfather. She heard me talk about Papa Terrell's name, shortened for understandable reasons. I believe he was named for my great grandmother's father, Hezekiah Wilson. It is easy to think how a tiny baby boy born in 1885 and named Hezekiah Peyton Terrell would come to be called "Ky" for the rest of his life!  When I noticed the post about Ky Nichols, I thought of my grandfather as I often do and realized I have never written a post that was just about him. I loved him dearly and knew that feeling was mutual.

My mother often told stories of how proud he was when I was born, his first grandchild. The earliest stories included ones of his getting down on the floor and letting me ride him like a horse even though he had been "laid up" with a bad back before we came. He was toothless and loved the angel food cake and divinity without nuts Grandma made for him. He was an avid baseball fan, leaning over his small radio to listen to the games.I remember his laugh, hearty and loud, and his cheerful spirit in spite of heartbreak and hardships like loosing his oldest son at age 13 to a hunting accident, making do during the depression, failing health including a stroke, and suffering along with his other sons during mental health crises. He was a farmer and at one time owned a small general store with his son Travis. My memory does not include his owning a car. He thumbed a ride at the bottom of the hill they lived on near Bullard to go to town for Grandma's small list of supplies. 

When he died in 1965, Joe and I were in Oregon. Before computers and cell phones, a long distance call in which Mother told me caused me to weep for not being able to say goodbye to him, for not being there for my grandmother and mother, and for knowing I could not make it to the funeral. We were preparing to move back to Texas within a week. Plane tickets were too expensive to consider. The trip from Corvallis, Oregon to Texas would take days. When we did get there, I remember Mother and Grandma were in the kitchen of the house where I grew up on Sunset Avenue in Jacksonville. And I remember that as I embraced my grandmother and sobbed, she was the one who comforted me.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Unchosen Adventures

There has been a longer break than usual between blog posts because of some unexpected and uncharted experiences. The past few months have not been healthy ones for me. Since my hospitalization in July I felt unwell and exhausted. Last week at a nephrology appointment I was advised I have Stage 3 renal disease. Before I could absorb all that would mean for me beyond a strict low sodium diet, we plunged into preparation for Hurricane Harvey, a history making Category 4  hurricane that made landfall in the Corpus Christi/Rockport area. Because our area is on what is called the dirty, or wet side of the storm, we have had and continue to experience catastrophic flooding. Because we live southwest of Houston near the Brazos River, we have had so many inches of rain that we stopped emptying the rain gauge, about half the normal amount of rain received in a whole year. Again and again I have gone to look out at the lake beyond our back yard as it flooded and crept toward our house. This is a picture I will never forget, taken before the level of water reached even closer to our porch. We are grateful to be dry at present, to have electricity (lost only for a short time) and to have plenty of food and bottled water although our tap water must be boiled and our septic system is uncooperative. So many thousands of people have been flooded, rescued, evacuated, displaced.

The above is not my photo, but one that has been shared on social media to illustrate the crisis in Houston. My heart is broken as I see pictures of local neighborhoods, including our old one, flooded and filled with destruction and shattered dreams.

Today there has been some receding of the water in our immediate area and the rain has almost stopped. The sun even peeked out for a moment. But there is still watching and waiting as the Brazos river has reached its flood point and crests within the next 48 hours. We are prepared to move to the second story of our home if needed. As I write, I hear rescue helicopters and see the small pecan tree in the back yard bobbing in the wind. The young trees and roses we so proudly planted in late Spring are standing in water. 

And even now, with flooding still occurring, preparations begin for others and for our family for replanting and restoration. I am thankful for new beginnings.  I am thankful that during the unchosen adventures of the past 7 days, I am certain of God's faithfulness. 

Friday, August 11, 2017

He LIkes Me!

We have enjoyed an amazing adventure as a family in the last few weeks. It started in the garden. We had a bumper crop of dill that had sprawled from the herb bed over and around the vegetables. Some of it found its way into the many jars of pickles Kristen made with the companion crop of cucumbers. Teion brought in a bunch of the dill blossoms one evening when they were here for family dinner. This bouquet sat on our kitchen table where we enjoyed the beauty and the fragrance!
But the dill outside was growing more than flavor. We showed Nora tiny caterpillars that were munching away on the ferny leaves.  One night she brought in 2 tiny bunches of dill with caterpillars  hanging on that were only about an inch long!  She had them in some little containers, along with a bit of dill for their snacking. The next morning, one of the lids was ajar and the caterpillar was gone.

After a few hours, the little caterpillar was spotted a whole room away climbing on the tile at the back of a counter by the kitchen table. Maybe he smelled the dill on the table and was headed for breakfast! We put him in a large glass vase with more dill where he was soon joined with a number of similar caterpillars. We watched as the first caterpillar ate and grew fat.

This made for many conversations about what Nora began calling her paterkillars. The clear container allowed all of us to watch the progress and anticipate changes that would come. We added some sticks so there was a spot for shedding skin,  spinning a tiny thread out to hold a chrysalid.   We watched as the chrysalis changed color and were all cheering when "our" butterfly emerged, hanging limply and slowly moving the beautiful wings to strengthen and dry. When it was time to release the butterfly, Nora and her mom took the jar outside and Nora's butterfly friend sat on her arm gently for a few seconds before flitting away to the flowers in our garden.

So far, this process has been repeated 8 times!  Our swallowtail population is increasing!  Joe and I enjoyed doing this with Nora's dad and his brothers, and love doing it again.  The butterflies are beautiful, but the most beautiful of all is Nora's excitement and wonder!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Celebrating 80 Years

Joe Dan Parker celebrated his 80th birthday this week, all week long! He chose some favorite ways to spend days this week - a movie with me (The Big Sick), another with Ben (Dunkirk), barbecue at the Swinging Door with Ben, Kristen, Nora, and Oliver followed by cake at home on his midweek actual birthday and a family celebration with Sean, Teion, Lauren, and Skye Saturday. We missed Jeremy, Michala, Maddie, and Jordann but he got phone greetings from them.

At Joe's request, the birthday cake on Saturday was baked by Sean, a Norwegian success cake. Suksesskake is traditionally served at important celebrations, and turning 80 is certainly important and celebration!

Also at his request, Joe himself made our dinner,  German Lentil Stew, and turned down all offers of assistance. Both Joe's soup and Sean's cake were welcomed.  I would have gladly made any meal he requested, but this was what he most wanted.  There is something about a batch of homemade soup on the table that adds to any family gathering, but this was special. He first made this soup on February 4 1973 when I was pregnant with Ben.  I have made it too many times to count, he has continued to make it too so it has been a family favorite; all my sons make it and their families vote for it too.  In years to come, I wonder if the name will change to "Papa's Birthday Soup."  That makes me smile. Happy Birthday, Joe!  You are so loved.  When the candle was lit and the birthday song sung, I smiled, too, at the mixture of names when the words came to "Happy Birthday, dear....Joe, Dad, Joe, Papa."  What a gift you are to us, and what a treasure of family gathers and loves, all beginning with the birth of a 10 pound baby boy on July 26, 1937.



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!