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Showing posts with label Texas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Texas. Show all posts

Monday, June 29, 2015


This is a well done slide show set to well done choral music spotlighting our state!  We have lived in Oklahoma, California, Oregon, and Indonesia, but our roots were always in Texas and all our sons and grandchildren were born here.  Texans, and proud of it!

Saturday, June 20, 2015


My Daddy, John William Howard Teal, my mother Opal, and me at around age 2 (top) and 4 (middle) - snapshots taken near our rented apartment in New Orleans LA, and in Bullard, Texas. The studio photo of Daddy and Mother was probably from about the same time as the Bullard picture.  Daddy has the same suit on, although he probably wore that suit only to church, weddings, and funerals and kept the same suit for years!

I am reminded often of Daddy, and miss him even though he died in 1982.  He was honest, hard working, a man of faith and love for his family. He was a good businessman, a good cook, a good son, a good brother, a good husband, and a good father. He worked hard in the cafes which he and my mother owned, and worked even harder taking care of a small herd of cattle on the land he bought from my grandparents an acre or two at a time to help them financially. He liked growing things, planting a small pecan and plumb orchard, and growing seasonal vegetables in his garden. In my mind I have vignettes of him grafting pecan trees, pinching suckers and picking tomatoes, calling his cows with his truck horn, and throwing out feed and hay to them. Other pictures of him have him baking fresh yeast rolls, rolling out pie crust, grilling hamburgers, and making chicken fried steak. At my request, he would put a spoon of mashed potatoes on the grill with some chopped onions - I loved fried mashed potatoes!  When he was at work in the cafe he wore a short white cap and , a fresh white apron, and when he came home he smelled like hamburgers!

He loved his grandsons.  He took Sean fishing and to feed the cows. He let Ben play with the hose in the front yard and Ben turned the hose on him!  I have a picture of Jeremy, our middle son, when he was a baby with one of Daddy's old felt fedoras on.  After his death, I kept Daddy's hat on the shelf in my bedroom along with one of his belts and his whetstone. They have all since been given to the grandsons, but I can almost touch them in my mind. His hugs still touch my heart.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Seeing it All

view of Brazos river from car moving across the bridge
Last Year I read a memoir titled Sightlines. At the time when I was writing about the book, I said - I could see it all, describing the collection of poems and audio "collage" from Janet Riehl. In her frank, descriptive voice, I was able to really see all of the journey of this family , their fun and their work, their togethernesss and apartness, their good times and their shattered joy and bereavement as well as the sometimes indescribable complexities of aging oneself while attending to the aging of one's parents. At times what I saw was unsettling, even unlovely.  But there was also love and longing and tenderness. I saw remembering, and just as in my own life, at times the remembering hurts .  I could see it all.

I hope that I have at least a fraction of that ability to help others see the joy of our journey as a family in that way.  The past 2 weeks have been a roller coaster for many, and our family is no exception. Immediately following the togetherness of our Memorial Day, weather turmoil catapulted much of Texas into chaos. Beginning the evening of Memorial Day, a Monday - a violent thunder storm raged all night long, creating the start of historic flooding and destruction. Families literally separated by the power of raging rivers, life and property lost. As rivers continued to rise whole neighborhoods evacuated to shelter in other places. The river which divides the neighborhoods where our youngest son and family live from the area where Joe and I and our oldest son's family live - the Brazos, reached flood stage almost a week ago, crested 2 feet above that and waters are still at that level today, the 5th day since. 

Our church, First Baptist Church in Richmond, is a designated Red Cross shelter in crises like this, and a number of people found helping hands when they came to stay. I baked bags full of chocolate cookies and delivered to volunteers and those who had to sleep on a cot that night. When every newscast pictures another family who has lost everything, some even their family members, I prayed for them, but I also gathered my own dear ones closer to my heart and mind.

Then, 3 days ago, danger came closer than the river had. Joe weakened and collapsed with a high fever due to what is thought now to be infection begun by a spider bite. What began as a wife worrying because her husband did not feel well in the afternoon ended with a call to 911 and admission to hospital by nightfall. Indescribable complexities? Togetherness and apartness? Unsettling, even unlovely? Yes, all that but also love and longing and tenderness and joy. Our family is close, and in the frightening, uncertain, threatening emergency of 911 calls and specialists and IV antibiotics of the last 48 hours, I am able to rejoice in the faithfulness and loving provision of God, the sustaining, nurturing concern and expressions of love from our sons and other family and friends, and the absolute knowledge that whatever the next 48 hours brings, the acronym spread across my husband's T shirt as the medics loaded him into the ambulance is true.

It's Gonna Be OK!       

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas Past, a Story

                                      1970 -    Joe's paper sculpture angels, at our house on Willow Green in San Antonio, Texas.  This is the only picture I have of them, and they got folded and hidden in one of our moves!

Recently a group of friends gathered for a meal and story sharing. We each told a story of a Christmas remembered. How valuable it is to hear each others' stories! Most of the stories were fond memories of a childhood Christmas experience. So much of our family preparation for and pleasure in Christmas includes ways we have done it before - stockings, and where they are hung, manger scenes and where they are placed, tree decorations, taken out of the box one by one with memories of each, carols around the piano, lots of family around for help and hugs, and cookies baked from recipes so old they are spattered and yellow.

I recounted the tale of our first married Christmas, when Joe and I were far from family and were beginning our own Christmas traditions, starting from scratch for Christmas decorations. I told part of this story in a previous post.   Our First Christmas

In our conversation and shared storytime that recent evening, I also told of disappointment (we would have to go back to Texas the first of the year), of grief due to the death of my beloved grandfather and the fact we could not leave in time to drive back to the funeral, of uncertainty for what the future held, and some of the ways those beginning traditions and stories have played out in our lives. Since that first Oregon Christmas, except for the Christmases we celebrated while living in Indonesia, we have always had some of the decorations for our tree that hung on it the year before. Those years from 1987 to 1991, all of our Christmas decorations including family stockings were mistakenly sent to storage when our overseas shipment was packed in California! That was one of the first boxes I looked for when we got the storage shipment back in 1992!

Even though the beginning Parker family Christmas may have seemed like starting from scratch, it was not entirely. We each brought to our marriage a faith that had been nurtured in our families of origin that was the reason for celebrating Christmas anywhere, at all. The trimmings for the tree, our handmade gifts, the clever folded angels Joe cut from paper for me - all of those were not just traditions carried on from the past, they signified the reason for those traditions:  the coming of God to be with us in the form of a human baby, to show us how to live and love. Fifty one years and many many Christmas candles and carols, evergreen trees and manger scenes, stockings and presents, boy grins and grandgirl giggles later, the traditions are precious, and the Christmas Story remains the same.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Jacksonville, Texas

Jacksonville (population 14,544) sits about 30 miles south of Tyler in East Texas and is surrounded by lush green forests nestled atop rolling hills. Some might find that strange because when I’ve spoken to people who don’t live here and I tell them I’m from Texas, their first comment is, “It’s so flat there.” What they don’t understand is that Texas has a diverse landscape and Jacksonville is one of those places that proves it.
Jacksonville was founded as a result of an Indian massacre. On October 5, 1838, the Killough family migrated to the area from Alabama and was attacked by a group of Cherokee Indians while preparing the land for harvest and building their homes. In total, eighteen were either killed or taken as captives. The few family members who managed to escape walked over 40 miles south, ending up in Alto, Texas and those who were taken as captives were never heard from or ever seen again. General Thomas Rusk brought the Texas Army to the area to search for those who committed the murders and one of his soldiers, Jackson Smith, while scouting along Gum Creek,  found a spot that was so beautiful he vowed to return and make his future home there. He did so nine years later.

 Jacksonville is a city with an exciting and unique history. Its story goes back to 1838, the year of the Killough Massacre, East Texas' worst Indian atrocity. The site of the massacre was about seven miles north of the current location. Eighteen settlers, including women and children, either were killed or carried away, never to be heard from again.

General Thomas J. Rusk brought the Texas Army into this area to search for the renegades who had committed the murders. One of his soldiers, Kentucky native Jackson Smith, was scouting along Gum Creek when he found a spot so beautiful that he vowed to return and make his home there. Nine years later, he did.
Jackson Smith built a house and blacksmith shop along the east bank of of the creek in 1847, setting up a post office at one end of the shop which took the name Gum Creek, after the little community that had grown up there since 1838. Soon after Smith built his shop, Dr. William Jackson built an office next to it. When Smith had a townsite and square surveyed near his home in 1850, Jacksonville, named after the two men, was born, officially replacing the community of Gum Creek in June of that year.
In 1872, the International-Great Northern Railroad was built through Cherokee County, missing Jacksonville by about two miles. Jacksonville inhabitants, aware that the railroad was crucial to the survival of the town, worked out an agreement with railroad officials to survey a new township along the railroad. In the fall of 1872, most of the original Jacksonville was moved the two miles east to its new location.
Within ten years, agriculture became the main focus of the local economy. Jacksonville was a leading center for peach production from the 1880s to 1914; thereafter, tomatoes became the primary crop until the 1950s. During this time, Jacksonville earned the title "Tomato Capital of the World." Livestock has always been -- and to a certain extent still is -- an important part of the economy as well. The production of plastics and polymers led industry from the 1980s through the '90s.
In 1945, when I was 4 years old my parents saved enough money to pay cash for a small frame house on the corner of Sunset Avenue and Pineda Street, which was my home until I was 17, graduated from Jacksonville High School and went away to college.  Some of the old photographs in this slide show I believe to be prior to 1945, but many were taken during the time that I grew up there.

Friday, December 20, 2013

To Mary Ann From Daddy

On December 18, John William Howard Teal, my father, was born to Thomas Jefferson (1877- 1958) and Ida Mayfield Teal (1870 -1958)  Ida must have considered her first child a gift for her own birthday on Christmas day a week later.  Three more children, another son and two daughters were quickly added to the family because Ida was in her late thirties when she married.  Times were hard for poor farmers, so Howard, his sisters Edna and Lela, and the youngest, a brother named Woodrow worked hard along with their parents on farms, one in an area called Mt. Enterprise in Cherokee county, finally settling in the community of Bullard, Smith County, Texas, where they farmed and had a small weathered clapboard house. I remember visiting my Teal grandparents.  Papa Teal, 7 years younger than Ida, was a round white haired man with a red face.  He was hard of hearing so he seemed very loud and gruff.  Ida was a tiny woman with white hair worn in a tight bun.

Daddy was loving and attentive to his parents, especially his mother, calling her "Mama."  Many people have told me he was one of the kindest men they every knew.  He was also kind and caring to our Mother and to my sister and me. He did have a temper but rarely lost it.  Since he only had a 7th grade education, he worked very hard to earn a living. He was working at Cameron's cafeteria in Tyler, TX when he and Mother married.  They both continued to work there for some time. During World War II, they moved to New Orleans, LA so he could work as a welder in the shipyards. After they came back to Texas, he worked in the Bon Ton Cafe in Jacksonville, and eventually owned a restaurant with his brother. Later he owned and operated the Bus Station Cafe across from the Liberty Hotel in Jacksonville.  My first job was in that cafe. I was twelve years old, and pleased to greet customers and take their orders.

Although they didn't live on the farm, my parents purchased land from my maternal grandparents where Daddy kept a small herd of cattle, had a garden with a fruit orchard and grew some crops.

Daddy made a profession of faith and was baptized in the cotton gin pond in Bullard before he and Mother married.  He was a faithful member of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville and rarely missed a church service where he could be found on the same pew two rows from the back every Sunday.  He loved his grandsons and they loved going with him to feed the cows.

I never doubted that he adored me and I adored him.  He was proud of my good grades and the fact that I went to college.  He has been dead for over thirty years but I still miss him.  It is part of Christmas for me to honor his birthday.  He was not big on gift giving, but every Christmas he put chocolate covered cherries under the Christmas tree for me from him.  Today, I bought a box of Queen Anne Chocolate Covered Cherries and put the unwrapped box under the tree with all the wrapped gifts.  Thank you, Daddy - you are still a gift to me.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

I'm Here!!

Each year, one of my favorite harbingers of Spring is the sudden appearance of Redbud blooms on the gray scraggly branches of what has been an almost unnoticed small tree in someone's backyard or the woods along the road.  In the Piney Woods of East Texas where my husband and I spent our growing up years, the first blooms seemed to signal to dozens of other early blooming trees that it was Spring again. The woods lining the highway between Jacksonville, Texas and my grandparent's smaller town of Bullard seemed to come alive in a patchwork of wild plum, dogwood, and various shades of purple from the Redbud trees. We see fewer here south of Houston, but the fact that they bloom even earlier in the slightly balmier climate makes them stand out even more.  The first blooms bring my biggest smile.  I like being reminded of the joy they brought me as a child.  And they bring fond memories of my mother and daddy and grandparents who first taught me to watch for them.

The Redbuds are blooming.  Easter is on the way.

Friday, January 11, 2013

In recent years, I have seldom put away our Christmas decorations before Epiphany, which has now come and gone.  I even leave a couple of little trees up and add red tissue paper hearts so they become Valentine trees.  This year, I was late getting to the rest of "all things Christmasy".  As I stripped the big tree in our family room, I held each dear old ornament for a second and savored the stories they tell. My camera helped.  We don't limit the tree adorning to things we have bought for that purpose; these items hanging near each other here are a good example.  The glass ball in the center hung on our family tree when I was growing up, so it has graced decades of trees.  Many of those trees stood at the window of the small living room at 1128 Sunset Ave. in Jacksonville, Texas where my parents moved in 1944, and was still in use for many years after I grew up and left home to start my own family.  Daddy died in 1982, shortly after their 50th wedding anniversary.  Mother eventually stopped putting up a big tree and passed some of the tree decorations on to me, so they have traveled far and outlasted any number of trees! This ball and its peers hold dear memories of my childhood and my parents, but it also speaks endurance to me!

On the left is a small torn piece of paper with a tiny handmade Christmas tree.  It arrived one year as a card from dear friends.  I love it perched on a branch as it reminds me of friendship and how much it means to make something for a friend.

On the right, the small cross-stitched banner is my own handwork.  I love the little carolers.  I love more their song.  So, as I go back and forth to the garage with my boxes packed with Christmas heirlooms, they leave behind their message.  Joy to the World, the Lord has come!

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Cutting paper snowflakes can make young children into magicians and grandmas into little girls again.  There is mystery involved in the folding, choosing just the right place to cut, and carefully trimming little triangles and curves and slashes.  But there is wonder in the unfolding!  Much like the real ones, no two snowflakes turn out exactly the same.  I have never lost that sense of expectation and trying to imagine how this one is going to turn out.

Forty-nine years ago Joe and I celebrated our first Christmas as a married couple.  That December found us far from our Texas family and friends, in Corvallis, Oregon.  The original plan for Joe to enter graduate school there had been delayed.  In the meantime, he did any odd job available, including painting houses.  I worked as a nurse in a busy pediatric practice within walking distance of our apartment.  One of our doctors had a farm outside of town where we were invited to come cut a Christmas tree. We tramped around the hillside brushing away blackberry vines to find a perfect small Grant pine.  Its symmetrical, graceful branches had wide spaces that were perfect for decorating.  But we were beginning our home and our traditions.  We had no old familiar ornaments to unbox and remember.  We also had no extra money in the budget for buying same.  So we hung a few candy canes, made some string balls from twine and starch and balloons, and carefully cut lacy snowflakes.  That year I knitted my new husband a green sweater with sleeves twice as long as his arms.  He painted a tiny recipe box for me and pasted "Good Things You Can Fix" on top.

The photograph is the few snowflakes that remain after all these years.  I framed them last year for a gift for Joe.  This year we will remember our 1964 snowflakes when we make paper snowflakes with our grandchildren.  If you have never cut a snowflake, try this project.  You will agree with Charles Dickens - "It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child himself."

For some wonderfully fancy paper snowflakes, visit

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Richmond, Texas

For the first twenty-eight years of my marriage, we moved alot.  Twenty one times, in fact.  There were assorted apartments, duplexes, old houses, new houses, even a 3 month sojourn in a hotel in Indonesia.  Every time we moved, we said our goodbyes to one place and our hellos to another with the glad anticipation that in yet another place, we would make a home.  And we did.  But when we returned to the United States after living in Jakarta for nearly five years, we settled in a place that has been home for twenty years now. We have lived in two different houses, but within the same neighborhood.  We have a Sugar Land, Texas postal address, but live just beyond the edge of the Richmond, Texas city limits.  Although our work and shopping may take us frequently into Sugar Land and beyond into Houston, our feeling of community is in our neighborhood and in the small town of  Richmond.  There is our church, and a sense of returning to the kind of small town which nurtured me in my growing up years.

Freeways and cell phones and internet connections may link our lives in ways I could never have imagined as a young girl but I am rooted in this place and with these people.  Appreciation of history is strong here, as evidenced in a recent anniversary celebration for the town.  I love to be at home here.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


What do these things have in common other than the fact they are all colored glass?  I could say that all three pieces belonged to my mother, as did the aluminum tray. They were all originally purchased in what was once termed a "five and dime" store.  True, too that each piece of glass reflects a part of childhood images: the little cruet filled with vinegar for my mother's favorite wilted lettuce salad, the ashtray once holding Daddy's Lucky Strike cigarette ashes, the candy bowl that held lemon drops.

My story is not about where the items came from, or what they were used for.  It is the story of how they changed from plain clear glass to the colors of honey and amber. Each one of these pieces was carried on one of our family's rare summer trips for an unusual purpose.  Hardly a vacation, still somewhere to go and much anticipated, Mother, Daddy, my sister Janice, and I for several years traveled from our home in Jacksonville, Texas down to central Texas to a similar sized town where we stayed in a tiny motel room cooking our own meals.  There were no theme or waterparks, little scenic attraction, and no relatives to visit.

 Why would we use Daddy's precious one week of time off from work to do this?  One reason:  Marlin, Texas had a mineral hot springs. Located about four miles east of the Brazos River,   Marlin had a clinic and bath house where people with various ailments (Daddy had rheumatism) could go for a round of hot mineral baths as healing therapy.  Daddy signed up for a week's worth of the baths at the bathhouse. He encouraged us to drink the mineral water for its health benefits, but I hated the taste. Mother, my sister, and I amused ourselves in various ways, the most exciting thing being taking dime store glass to the mineral water fountain in the center of town and leaving it for the hot mineral salts to splash over  We checked it every day. Yes, it was still there, along with assorted other glass objects that people had left - to my knowledge, no one ever took anyone else's glass.  By the end of the week, the glass had turned varying degrees of golden colors, an enchanting kind of magic to me. 

It was a long time before I learned more of Marlin's history. While digging to find a water supply for Marlin’s 2,500 residents in 1891,  engineers struck sulfur-laden water that gushed out of the ground at 147 degrees F. Several physicians interested in the curative properties established clinics, bathhouses and sanitariums. More wells were drilled, hotels and boarding houses opened their doors, and by 1900, Marlin was a popular spa emphasizing medical water treatments. The New York Giants baseball team trained there from 1908 to 1919.  Some think it was not  mere coincidence that the Giants won the National League pennant in 1911, 1912 and 1913.

In the 1920s, the Marlin Hot Wells Foundation for Crippled Children established a hospital to treat young polio victims  In 1929, Conrad Hilton built his eighth Hilton Hotel in his chain in Marlin, a nine-floor, 110 room Falls Hotel, which could be seen for miles from the city limits of Marlin. Across the street was the Marlin Sanitarium Bathhouse. An underground tunnel connected the two buildings. A fire destroyed the underground tunnel, the Sanitarium Bath House was torn down, and the Falls Hotel was closed. Despite sporadic attempts to revive them, Marlin’s mineral-water establishments were pretty much gone by the 1960's.

 The hotel remains the tallest building in Falls County. The location of the bath house is now the city post office and a gazebo park. Another former hotel, the Arlington Hotel on Coleman Street, is now the location of a Mexican restaurant, Lupita's, and the Marlin Inn.

Today, you can drink mineral water  from a fountain from that era, right next to the Chamber of Commerce Office. You can soak your feet too, (they've thoughtfully provided a separate facility for that )  Water has laxative properties, which locals have timed at 43 minutes!.  I think it is fun to visit the fountain, but I don't seen any glassware transformation going on there these days.  I still don't drink the water, but Lupita's is a great place for lunch.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall!

One of the great advantages of living on the South Texas Gulf Coast is that we have two growing seasons!  It is true that Spring gardens often get burned with summer heat that comes on fast, but Fall gardens can be so rewarding.  I planted new tomato plants about a month ago in containers that were shaded part of the day.  Now that cooler temperatures have arrived, they are setting fruit.  Squash and cucumbers went in a few weeks ago as well.  This weekend, I will plant some Kale, collards, bok choy, and lettuces.  If we have a typical mild winter, they will still be thriving until next Spring.  One year we had an unusual snow day early in December and I have photos of the greens frosted with snow which only seemed to give them second wind!  I love planting seeds.  When my granddaughters are here, they like to plant their own rows.  Our garden may be small, but it adds so much pleasure and of course, good nutritious food for our table.  I will add a plug for Baker Creek Heirloom seeeds, my favorite seed catalog.

Friday, September 7, 2012

To Market, To Market

We grow a few vegetables and have pomengranate, Meyer Lemon, Fig, and Satsuma trees, with starter Avocado and Olive trees. The past two years, we have purchased a CSA share which means we have local organic produce and eggs during their delivery seasons.  But today, I am thankful for the abundance of Farmers Markets that are new to our area.  At the site of the old Imperial Sugar plant in Sugar Land, every Saturday local gardeners, bakers, chefs, and craftsmen are there with fresh vegetables like sweet Japanese eggplant, colorful peppers, squash, okra, tomatoes, peaches, fresh bread and pastries, Texas Wagyu beef, freshly made pastas, olive oils, and a variety of condiments.  It is satisfying to support local efforts, and the results are tasty when I bring our bounty home to cook.  I have another reason to be happy - tomorrow morning is supposed to be in the 60's, so I don't even have to brave the blistering Texas heat to shop. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Now You See Them, Now You Don't

Spring to Texans includes watching for the mounds of Bluebonnets which begin to beckon.  This year, the Bluebonnets have been both plentiful and beautiful, a result of the perfect combination of rain and temperature.  But they were 3 to 4 weeks  earlier than usual.  Before some folks  had made their way out the stretches of Texas road that are usually the best for photographing the spreading quilt of early wildflowers which include Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush, the showiest patches of them were already beginning to seed and fade. I have heard people say these lovely blooms, the Texas state flower, were the best this year they have ever seen.  The blanket of blue in this photograph was only a few miles away from my home, and just down the street from my son's house.  The developer of this neighborhood had the forethought and insight to sow bluebonnet seeds and avoid mowing them before they had a chance to bloom.  We might never have made it an hour's drive out to see the country bluebonnets, but these town flowers got the same result - Wow!

It is traditional to take pictures when the Bluebonnets are in full bloom.  Here are a few we took while Maddie and Jordann were visiting a couple of weeks ago!  The Bluebonnets are almost gone, but the little girls are coming back for Easter! 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Glad to Be Here

Yesterday I returned some books to our newly opened library branch which is on the campus of the University of Houston at Sugar Land.  Since it is now the nearest public library to my home, I will be going there often.  It is a lovely, contemporary building with comfortable reading areas, access to the enitre county library catalog, as well as state of the art technology like self checkout.  I parked on the edge of the parking lot, which was adjacent to this field of wildflowers which stretches toward the horizon lined with bare trees which are on the banks of the Brazos River. 

I thought about how great it is to live where country road meets the freeway system.  Granted, I am not always exactly grateful for the freeway.  But it does give me access to this university,  art and theater,  good medical care, great places to buy healthy food, and more importantly my family, my church and my friends.  Most of the time I do have to drive at least a short distance on the freeway to go to those places.  But I am still on the edge of meadows and rivers.  I hear birdsong everyday. Most days I am just on the other side of a fence from cattle and horses.  I am a short drive away from picking strawberries this Spring, I have been seeing Red Buds on the roadside for weeks, and in my own garden I have "country" every day.  In our season of life, this is a good blend for me.  As I stood looking toward the river and photographed what many in our area call weeds, I am thankful for place. I am thankful for home.  I just wanted you to know.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Headed for Fall, Remembering Summer

At the beginning of the summer, when the herb and vegetable garden was producing plenty to pick every day, Maddie and Skye loved helping with the harvest.  One day they asked if they could have a farm stand in the front yard.  They had the sign all ready to go:  Tomatoes were 50 cents each, bunches of Basil were advertised at 10 cents, and mint for 2 cents per handful.  Peppers were 30 cents, and underneath the large "OPEN and SALE!"   lettering was the enticing "1 Free Water with each purchase!"
A couple of neighbors helpfully shopped from their market, and they happily counted their proceeds as they chattered about how much more fun that was than a lemonade stand.

Now, at summer's end, I think about our long hot Texas summer with record breaking drought and am thankful we had those weeks of bounty before the garden said "no more."  I pick up the sun hats they wore that afternoon, and move the little round table to a spot until they are ready to use it for another project.  And as grandmothers do, I carefully put the sign in a good place for keeping. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jacksonville,Texas: The Tomato Capitol of the World

Joe and I both grew up in Jacksonville, Texas.  Recently a number of facebook threads of conversations as well as a website have provided pictures of years past in our hometown.  I like this picture because it shows a line of women packing tomatoes in the tomato sheds for which Jacksonville was famous.  My mother, Opal Terrell Teal, worked packing tomatoes in the 1930's.  The picture is not of her, but I can see her, discarding imperfect tomatoes as "culls", which were sold at reduced prices, and wrapping the select tomatoes in tissue paper as the conveyor belt rolled them down the line in boxes to be shipped.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Together, Alone

I enjoy participating in an online reading group.  We take turns leading a book each month.  For July, I am moderating discussion questions for this book.  I bought the book and Susan signed it at a Story Circle Network conference in Austin shortly after it was published.  During my second reading, Together, Alone draws me once again to examine the power of place in my own story.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Texas Bluebonnets

One of the most beloved gifts the month of March brings to Texans is the lavish spread of bluebonnets along the sides of highways and neighborhood roads. As historian Jack Maguire so aptly wrote, "It's not only the state flower but also a kind of floral trademark almost as well known to outsiders as cowboy boots and the Stetson hat." He goes on to affirm that "The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland."

Although seeds have been taken to grow in other places, the two predominant species of bluebonnets are found growing naturally only in Texas and at no other location in the world. When I was growing up in East Texas, we watched for the first bluebonnets, usually accompanied by other Texas wildflower color, especially the complimenting colors of Indian Paintbrush and Crimson Clover.

I don't have a Stetson, can't ride a horse, and cowboy boots make my feet hurt. But I am glad to be a Texan, and love bluebonnets as much as the lady bugs on these I photographed just down the road.