Follow by Email

Monday, February 18, 2019

Friends and Valentines

This is a valentine that I keep in my kitchen year round. In fact, it has been around many years. It has sat in its frame in my last 3 homes, so that could be up to 25 years, but on the reverse side, there is only written "Happy Valentine's! Mignon" We began friendship in our second grade year, and it continues. Although we don't see each other often, that bond forged so early remains. Enduring friendships are rare and precious. Joe and I say that we are forever friends - a solid foundation for a solid marriage.

I watched my grandchildren get ready for February 14 last week, remembered all the ways it is celebrated. and smile as I consider how the tradition changes, but also stays the same.  I got texts from my older granddaughters, and tiny candy boxes from Nora and Oliver. Joe and I had a Valentine lunch and planned to prune the roses. Kristen wound up doing that for us because Joe's eyes and my shoulder kept us from using our new garden gloves and pruning shears . That was a valentine labor of love!.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Keeping and Letting Go

When I was a little girl, I had this miniature rocking chair plus a few other pieces of doll house furniture. It is strange to me, but I do not remember having a doll house although I remember in detail most of these pieces of tiny furniture. I loved this little yellow and red rocking chair and the tiny grand piano. Both sit on one of my bookshelves, in front of a row of books.

There was a family - a mother, a father, and a baby. There was a refrigerator with a door that really opened, and a table and chairs. And there was a pink plastic bathtub and pedestal sink. Some of these survived until I did have a dollhouse, a Victorian house I had made by paraplegic craftsmen at a hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia. In our time there, I added a few handmade wooden pieces, a 4 poster bed and other small things. As my granddaughters were added to our family in later years, they loved the dollhouse and our odd assortment of furnishings. We added bottle tops for vases and coasters for rugs. Over time, the doll house began to fall apart and when we parted with a great many other things in order to make our move with Ben and Kristen and Nora, the doll house wound up being rescued by our oldest son, Sean, along with the remainders of furniture.

Long before that happened, I had picked the little rocker and the piano to sit where I could see them. I don't know why I chose these 2 pieces. But when I let my story telling heart imagine, I think of all the ways rocking chairs have been important to me - savoring the stories of being rocked and sung to when I was a baby, then doing just that with my own babies.

I think too how much I love my real piano and the way I feel when I am able to sit at its keys and pour my feelings into music.

The things we keep, and the ways we let them go speak volumes. This story is one of my ways of letting go.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

55 Years!

Our 55th, as in every anniversary, passed during Christmastide.

We were married three days after Christmas in 1963 after dating for 11 months. Choosing each other then was only the beginning, a glimmer of what grew to become intentional, tenacious choosing as years unfolded. Unlike many weddings now, we had no wedding planner, no announcing for saving a date, no plans for a honeymoon. We chose the date because we decided we wanted to begin our life together then instead of waiting until after I finished my degree in nursing at Oklahoma Baptist University 5 months later. We decided this in October, a little over 2 months away from our wedding. Joe was recently discharged from the army, had a job with Petty Geophysical on a field crew that was at the time located in southwestern Oklahoma. I was finishing a degree;I was in Oklahoma City. He had made many trips to Oklahoma City in his Karman Ghia so we knew it was not a great commute. The plan was for him to find another job in Oklahoma City and move there.  The announcement of our engagement appeared in the Jacksonville paper on my birthday, November 14.

The timing was historical. On the day he was to arrive in the City, as I walked through the nurses' residence on my way back from John Wesley Hospital which was adjacent, I found a cluster of students in the large room at the front where the only television in the building was located. Unusual, because most of us had classes or shifts to work at the hospital. As I paused, I learned that our nation's president, John F. Kennedy, had been assassinated while in Dallas, TX. Many in the room, including me, were in tears. So November 22, 1963 became forever a date to be remembered. But I also remember it because Joe was on the way. We would find a place where he could live, he would find a job, we would be married very soon.  Most brides have many things on their list to  check off in the weeks before their marriage. I was no exception, but my list included exams for that semester and completing the construction of my wedding gown. I had made one trip with Mother to Tyler to try on wedding dresses, but buying one was out of the question. So I sketched one I had admired, with Mother's help selected some patterns, fabric, lace, and put my sewing machine to work.  

When Joe and I went to Texas for Thanksgiving weekend,  my mother and I cut out patterns from the lace, appliqued them to the slim skirt of the dress and circular train, and stitched on what seemed like hundreds of seed pearls.

Details of my wedding day drift through and settle. The arrival of my best friend and maid of honor, Jo Rita, along with Mary June and Sue and my sister Janice. Laughter. Last minute alterations and adjustments to my dress because I lost so much weight. Sugaring inexpensive Christmas bells for a topper to the cake my mother's friend had made. Having a hamburger for a quick supper. Wearing a plaid shirtwaist dress and realizing it was time to put on the dress! Hearing that Joe and his best man, our friend, Eddie Ballard had gone to Tyler to a movie the night before. They saw Spencer's Mountain with Maureen O'Hara.  No bachelor party, no bridesmaid weekend somewhere. No elaborate reception and dinner. The wedding rings we had ordered from a local jeweler were lost in the mail! Judy and Arnold (Joe's brother) let us borrow theirs! It was a Saturday night. When the organ chimed 7 times, my nervous Daddy and I started down the aisle toward my choice, my love. 

The phrase in our wedding vows "I take you..." means I choose you. The choice has been made every day since. 

I still do!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Day After Christmas 2018

The acceleration of flurry, anticipation and glee combined with celebration preparations on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day presents us with a choice:  irritation and frustration, which are certain joy killers, or hold the activity of family gathering and gifting with gratitude, bending into it and letting go to simplify where needed.  With intention, I choose the latter, savoring the occasion of being together, being sure to include loved ones who aren't with us with calls and texts, and making the time early or late for some reading and reflection to be sure that I am holding even closer the presence of God with me, with us. Immanuel. 

Since I celebrate the 12 days of Christmas and Christmastide, today and the days that follow are times of reading, music, quiet reflecting - soaking in the mystery of God becoming one of us. When we lit all the Advent candles last night, 4 year old Nora helped, then sang the blessing she sings for us at mealtime "Oh, the Lord is good to us..." afterward snuffing out each candle we talked about the Light that never goes out. 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

All Wrapped Up in Christmas

Bringing out the Christmas decorations and getting them all put into place can be hard work!  Nora, all worn out from her excitement and helping, fell asleep on the couch, all wrapped up in a Christmas wreath I sewed up nearly fifty years ago!  It is a circle braided from stuffed fabric- green velvet from scraps of a dress I wore to a banquet in high school, white brocade from my high school graduation, and red corduroy from a jumper I wore when I was pregnant with Sean. Mother made the clothes, I made the wreath. I enjoyed sewing the pieces together and thinking about the times I wore those dresses, but seeing her like this filled my heart with even greater joy. I confess to my eyes filling and spilling a bit as well. It's beginning to look alot like Christmas! 

Sunday, December 2, 2018


Fall and winter bring new growing seasons for south Texas. Nora and I planted a few broccoli plants. This is her first harvest, which she ate with her dinner that night. We grew this one in a container on the porch, but more from seeds will grow in our garden. Kristen harvested sweet potatoes and look at this one! This big sweet potato made 2 large casseroles for 2 different family Thanksgiving tables!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

78 Celebrations

                                                    Mary Ann Teal   November 14 1946

Today I celebrate my 78th birthday so I began listening to Christmas music, a habit that I call a gift to myself started many years ago. It is a clear, cold November day, unlike the day I was born,  stormy morning described to me by my mother.  I began the day as I do every morning now - thanking God for the gift of this day and for the sure knowledge of His presence with me in all the days past and the certainty that He will be with me in the days ahead.  As the day unfolds, I think of past birthdays. I have had birthdays in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Oregon, and California as well as Indonesia and Singapore. There have been cakes and special meals and sweet gifts. But best of all has been having loved ones with me. I am grateful!