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Thursday, March 23, 2017


Every year I watch for my first sight of redbud trees beginning to bloom.  Along with fruit trees like peach and pear that blossom early,  and narcissus spears pushing up to sport their fragrant white blooms plus bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush and other wildflowers, these heralds of the coming of Spring precede the calendar date in our area and bring a smile to my face and gladden my heart. In the woods of Northeast Texas where Joe and I grew up, dogwood spreads its blooms in dark piney woods also.  I do not see dogwoods here in South Texas, but I always include them when I think about this season,. Long before Easter eggs and pastel Spring clothing, these flag my attention and lift my spirits, particularly this year when Easter comes in mid-April.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Spring Break Fun

On the first day of Spring Break, we did not head to the beach.   Kristen, Nora, Skye, and I did something much more fun!  We went to my friend Stacey Roussel's farm and played with the baby goats!  Stacey showed us her mama goats, her dairy, and told us about making her specialty:  goat milk popsicles!  She even treated us to a freshly frozen strawberry pop!  Skye declared this the best day of her life and now wants to raise a baby goat for her Ag class in high school.  Nora giggled, and loved running ahead while she called "come on kids!"  The laughter of my granddaughters was the sweetest music in the world.  Kristen and I laughed and had fun too. Many thanks to Stacey for the pleasure of this unique experience.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

A Visitor

We had an uninvited guest this week. I found this turtle in our garage!  Everyone came out to see, and Nora was the most interested since this was her first turtle encounter.  By this time Joe had helped the turtle along to the grass.

Since the turtle was not interested in playing peek a boo, Nora decided to go inside.  This is a large Red-eared Slider, named for the red stripe behind the eyes and its habit of sliding off logs and rocks when startled.  They are the most common turtle around here, so can often be seen sunning themselves when we drive along Texas roadways. I am not sure, but I think this is a female turtle because they have more pronounced coloration than males, and because it is the season when they begin to go on land  and dig nests in which to lay their eggs. Then the mother leaves. It takes 2 months or more for them to hatch, but young turtles are born having to take care of themselves.  This means we may see more unusual visitors since predators like raccoons, herons, and snakes try to find them.

When I was a little girl, it was possible to buy tiny baby turtles as pets.  We had one that we kept in a bowl.  Fortunately, it was discovered that these babies carry salmonella, so it became illegal to sell them.

Red-eared sliders can live 30 years or longer, so maybe this one will come back to see us!

Saturday, March 4, 2017


Joe and Mary Ann Parker, May 1963

This photograph was made 54 years ago, in the Spring before our wedding in December of 1963.  I love the picture.  Not just because we were so young and unwrinkled and happy, but because we are focused on each other. At this time we were in the very early months of learning and loving. The decision to have a wedding by the end of the year had not been made. But as we focused,  we were open to all the possibilities of the future. I believe that, along with a focus of faith in God and all that he would bring us, is the strong golden thread that holds these now many years of meeting every day's victories and vicissitudes.  We have 3 wonderful sons, their wives who are like our daughters, and 6 amazing grandchldren. Our clan now numbers fourteen, and pictures are hard to get because that means everybody gathered and still at the same time!  I love the ways they build their own families with focus and faith.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Oliver Byron Parker

Guest Post by Joe Parker

This is my father, Oliver Parker. Daddy and his twin sister, Dora, were born 112 years ago today on February 17, 1905. All of my family loved and are so proud of this great man in our lives and we miss him very, very much. This is a picture of Daddy at about age 12 with a friend.

Note:  My father-in-law, Oliver Parker, passed away before Joe and I were married, so I never met him. But he left a legacy of hard work, perserverance, faith, and love as communicated through the years to me by my husband and his brothers and sister. Now there is another Oliver Parker, his great grandson who bears his name - our baby grandson, Oliver Hilton Parker! 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Opal's Button Box

Nora's middle name is Opal.  Named for her great grandmother, my mother, Opal Terrell Teal, she does not yet realize all the ways she connects with her great-grandmother every day.  Since we share a home, she is with me often and does not yet know when she calls me - "Granmary" or climbs in my lap, she is connecting not only by relationship but in ways that I grandparent.  My own grandmother modeled grandparenting for me, but Opal did so by being a wonderful Nana to our boys. Then there are countless ways that come into everyday life - the results of my upbringing in a home with parents who valued faith and family.  Last week, Nora discovered the magic and mystery of Opal's Button Box.  The buttons in a discarded kitchen cannister are leftovers from not only her many years of sewing but also her mother's, my grandmother. They never threw buttons away but saved them carefully for reuse and repurposing. If a shirt could no longer be mended, they cut off the buttons and saved them,  using the fabric scraps in another way. There are baby buttons, the one or two buttons from a card of buttons purchased to march down the front of dresses and blouses and coats, shirt buttons, glass buttons, plastic buttons, wooden buttons, and metal buttons. Nora is only beginning to discover the thrill of handling them, and ways she can use them. So in this photo, she finds the fun in making print and pattern in play dough - all with Opal's buttons. Since then, she has carried them around in one of her own boxes and speaks with pride of her own buttons.  She says buT Tons, and I love it.  Today, she told me she needs more buttons.  She is acting true to her heritage.  Mother would be proud.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Shell Seeker

One of my favorite authors is Rosamunde Pilcher.  Her novel, Shell Seekers is my favorite of her writings.  Made into a movie and enjoyed by many others, this book is one of the few I saved when I packed so many of our books away to be given to to others and donated to the library last year when we moved to share a home with our youngest son Ben and his family. I kept books I knew I would like to read again.

I thought of the book's title when Nora remembered my shell basket yesterday and ran to pull it from under my bed.  She loves to sort the shells and is most fond of the tiniest shells.  We spent a long time handling the shells and talking about how beautiful each one is.  She knows the names of a few.  Later, she will learn more.  For now, it is enough to delight in them, to touch them, and pretend. She is a little shell seeker.

Our sons loved shells and liked to keep them.  Jeremy had quite a collection so many of these are his. Many of them came from the beaches on Sanibel Island, Florida, where our family spent time in 1980. The tulip shells came from a flat boat journey out to the mud flats.All of our sons talk about that trip and the fun they had being shell seekers. There are many years between their shell hunting and Nora's discovery of the same shells. The family story is still being written.  I am grateful for the seeking and the finding and the keeping, of shells, and of story.