Tuesday, August 1, 2017
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.
Thursday, June 15, 2017
This grand old building was the Liberty Hotel, in Jacksonville, Texas. I have in the years since, stayed in many fine hotels all over the world, but this is the first hotel I remember. It is part of the memory pictures of my childhood, not for the occasions I attended there (although I did go to a tea there my senior year in HS where I wore a suit and wide-brimmed hat!) but because my family ran a diner style cafe in the building across the alley. That building contained the bus station and the Bus Station Cafe, owned and operated by my parents, Howard and Opal Teal. Daddy had a reputation for being a great cook, and I understand people still talk about his chicken fried steak and hot rolls. My first "job" was there when I was 12 years old! I loved greeting customers like Daddy did and taking their orders.
It burned in 1973.The bell from the hotel is currently on display at the Vanishing Texana Museum. The Holcomb Candy Company was nearby. We used to go by there when we came home for visits so we could buy sacks of broken peanut patties and peanut brittle!
Monday, May 15, 2017
First, I love seeing our sons continue the practice of gathering of their family around the dining table. In our fast paced society today, it gets harder and harder to gather immediate family - husband, wife and children for even 1 meal a week. Extended family gatherings have become likely to be limited to holidays, if then. It has been important to me to encourage all of us to eat together, at the table, but also intentional times of drawing extended family to share a meal. Of course, it is more challenging when we live in spread apart areas, but even those who are able to gather physically can be present with Facetime, Skype, and Messaging or a phone call.
But I also love this because it reminds me that all those years of letting little (then bigger and bigger) boys help me in the kitchen and get creative with making good food have produced men who are fine cooks among their other attributes. They don't just follow recipes or get ideas from YouTube. They are chefs. They recognize the value of feeding their families delicious, nutritious, healthy food, expose their own children to this early, and create works of art in their kitchens. I am thankful they are married to women who encourage them to do this and help.
Another reason for my gratefulness - as I see each of my sons happily cooking good food, I also see something that is a companion to that: growing good food. They all have gardens and use the herbs they grow in their cooking. Growing and preparing your own food is not only a pleasure but an art.
This is quoted form the About introduction for my Kitchen Keepers blog.
Saturday, May 6, 2017
A post with this title could refer to Daylight Savings Time, or Spring Forward, which happened a week or so ago. We changed clocks on everything that is not computerized so that the clock changes automatically and prepared ourselves for darker mornings and light lasting longer in the evenings, with everything seeming off balance for a few days. Or it could refer to the fast changing cultural time we are experiencing. Or just the changes involved in the arrival of Spring. But I am telling the story of a family dinner that has changed.
Once I wrote how I loved our Sunday dinners after church, with most of our family gathered around our dining table which once belonged to my Grandma Terrell. She loved Sunday dinners after church too,. I remember thinking and saying then that I was grateful for those times together because I knew it would not always be like that. Our family grew and schedules changed and people changed and the picture tilted. For a time it seemed like family dinners were no longer going to be a regular thing.
Then something familiar began to happen. After Joe and I began to share this home with Ben and his family, we decided to have 2 shared meals a week - on Fridays, I would prepare dinner and Ben would be chef for another weekend night. About 2 months ago when I was making Beef Bourguignon, I considered how big my pot was and wondered if our busy oldest son and daughter in law would like to come after work and bring their daughter who is in high school. Teion, our daughter in law, responded quickly that she and Skye would love to come but Sean would be working late. They came early and Skye played with Nora, who adores her. Baby Oliver is always in demand for cuddling. I finished making my beef and wine and toasted sourdough bread to serve it on and we feasted. Sean got some leftovers brought to him. Teion and Skye said they would love to come next Friday night, Our oldest granddaughter texted that she wanted to come to Friday nights and bring her friend Kasey. Sean began to leave work in time to come for part of the meal. And suddenly, our Sunday dinner after the church began to happen on Friday nights! Of course, Jeremy and Michala live in Nevada now and that is not an option for them to join us, but when they were here in January with Jordann and Maddie, our whole family gathered for the feast. Ben and Kristen are gracious co-hosts.
We are too many to go around Grandma's smaller oak table, but we can all fit around Ben and Kristen's dining table which we use in our dining room now. I served the Chicken Nogales ( * KitchenKeeper blog link posted below) pictured above. The only difference was I doubled the recipe! We are many more around the table as the years pass. We are a noisy, happy bunch that enjoys each other and good food. Times do change, but some things about us never do.
Saturday, March 4, 2017
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, October 28, 2016
Monday, October 3, 2016
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.
Saturday, September 10, 2016
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. www.kitchenkeepers.wordpress.com
Tuesday, August 2, 2016
We are back at home following two weeks of travel. The main reason for our trip was a visit with our son Jeremy and his family in Reno, NV. But we began and ended this trip with travel to and from the San Francisco, CA area, driving to Reno and back. This gave us non-stop air travel, but also a chance to do something Joe has wanted to do for some time: revisit Fort Baker, beneath the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, the Army base where he was stationed in 1960 through 1962.
Originally inhabited by the coastal Miwok tribes, Horseshoe Cove became home to Fort Baker long before there was a Golden Gate Bridge. In 1866, the U.S. Army acquired the site for a military base to fortify the north side of the Golden Gate. The 24 buildings around the 10-acre parade ground at Fort Baker took shape between 1901 and 1915. The Army post remained active through World War II.
The ‘post-to-park’ transformation displays adaptive, creative reuse of this 40-acre National Landmark District and has a state-of-the-art conference center. The project also included restoration of endangered habitat and the regeneration of 27 acres of public open space
Linked pathways, dining terraces, fire pits and moveable chairs create spaces for both gathering and quiet times.The removal of invasive trees has opened views to the Bridge and Bay which have not been available for 100 years. A tennis court was re-purposed as event space; a rectangular lawn panel framed by a broad, gravel ‘fault’ zone reveals its former use. The most dramatic transformation was the restoration of the coastal scrub habitat with genetic natives—58,000 plants propagated from seed harvested on the Cavallo Point site. Guest quarters are now comfortable as well as educational set in a rich tapestry of landscape.
Since our daughter in law and granddaughters joined us there for our one night stay, Joe had the blessing of telling them stories about Fort Baker, Cronkhite beach, and other places that were so familiar to him, along with history. That is the best way to learn!
When Joe stayed in the barracks as an enlisted man at Fort Baker, he did not dream that one day he would bring family back there and stay in the historic quarters which were once officers' housing! The old houses were wonderful, our rooms lovely, and Cavallo Point celebrated his earlier time there as well as his 79th birthday. I am grateful for him and for our experiences at this place.
Golden Gate Bridge with its typical shroud of fog. July 20, 2016
Goodbye, Fort Baker!
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Love's Lookout, Jacksonville, TexasJoe and I grew up in the same small East Texas town. Jacksonville is located in Cherokee County surrounded by rolling hills and pine trees. The scenic overlook in the photograph (not mine, one I found online) is called Love's Lookout. The scenic bluff was used for the location of a large ampitheatre formed from red rock, a WPA project. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Depression-era Works Progress Administration came to the hill in the 1930s and, using red rock mined from Cherokee County, built a park, picnic grounds and an amphitheater.
The ampitheatre was named to honor Wesley Love who in 1904 bought much of the surrounding area and planted a 600-acre peach farm. After Love's death in 1925, his wife donated 22 acres to the state for a state park. The state, however, failed to create the park and in 1934 the City of Jacksonville purchased an additional 20 acres and developed the two tracts as a city park. That's when the Works Progress Administration began its project.
In the Spring, dogwoods and other spring flowers are in bloom, making the setting even more beautiful. When I was a child, we often drove on the highway between Jacksonville and Tyler because both sets of my grandparents lived in Bullard, about halfway between those towns. Typically, scenes that are so familiar and frequently seen tend to be taken for granted. Not until you are far away do you remember those sights and realize just how lovely they were.
There is yet another fond connection for our family with this place and its name. In 1982, we bought the home built by John Wesley Love and lived there long enough to research and write its history, receiving a designation for the significance of the home with a State Historical marker. By that time all acreage but the 3 acres where the house was located had been sold (or donated, as the land for Love's lookout is located), but the oaks and magnolias and pines that were there were lovely reminders. When I did the research for the historical commission I learned that there were earlier connections between our family and the Loves. My father and uncle once worked in John Wesley Love's peach orchards picking peaches. Joe's father had done work inside the home as a painter.
When we do go back to Jacksonville, our itinerary usually includes a trip to the Bullard cemetery where so many of my ancestors were laid to rest. The highway is bigger and better, but the sides of the road are still lined with red dirt and pine trees. There are still remnants of the watermelon colored crepe myrtles which were always full of summertime blooms. And Love's Lookout still beckons us to stop and look across a green valley.
Saturday, May 14, 2016
This week and next are the final days of packing and leaving this house. But what lies ahead are even
better than what lies behind, and I take with me a heart full of love for home wherever we make it. There are also little tangible reminders we take with us that will find their spot in a new place. Writing and computer time limits almost convinced me to take a break from my blogs for a couple of weeks at least. But the quiet breaks taken to collect thoughts and images are restorative for me, so I am posting a collage of pictures to take you with me on this journey of change.
Saturday, May 7, 2016
Iris grow not from bulbs, but from rhizomes which must be thinned out by dividing every few years. So at her Bullard, TX farm, Grandma Terrell would have divided her white iris, given some to my mother, who did the same by giving some to my sister before she moved from her home in Jacksonville. Last year, my sister moved and divided iris in Round Rock, TX to share with me before she moved. Last week, Joe "dug" Grandma's White Iris so that we can take some to our new home. My lovely daughters-in-law will receive presents from husbands and daughters - probably flowers and pretty trinkets and breakfast in bed. But they will also be given a small ZipLoc bag filled with brown twisted roots and shoots, a gift of story and perseverance. Happy Mother's Day!
Sunday, May 1, 2016
This traveling trunk came from my Teal grandparent's home, although when I first met it, the trunk had been passed down to their youngest daughter, Lela. Almost 50 years ago, she saw some work I had done on a smaller trunk that had been given to me and asked me if I could "make hers pretty." The trunk was already travel worn and weary by then so that was a tall order for someone who knew little about working with the rusted metal corners. Antiquing was in vogue then so she wanted me to antique the trunk with a base color of pink! Cringing a bit at her color choice, I agreed to work on it. Years passed, and Lela died. Since her only son was stillborn and no one else wanted it, the trunk escaped being thrown away and came to me. That was early 1994. Our family had just returned from living in Indonesia, moved to the Houston area, and started a business. We had 3 grown sons and a very busy family life. The trunk sat for many years.
Now our sons are married, we have 5 granddaughters, and another grandbaby on the way. We are selling this house to move to one we have bought to share with our youngest son and his family. In the process of cleaning and clearing, we have passed on or given away many family things that have stories. The trunk is big and in ill repair, and at first, no one wanted to take it home with them. But this week, it will go to our oldest son who is a very talented artist and craftsman. If anyone can make this old trunk look like the treasure it is, he can. Because it is a treasure. There are so many stories it could tell.
I can wish that I had paid enough attention years ago to ask the questions I now have. Questions such as "who was the original owner of the trunk?" It could have belonged to either of my grandparents because of the times in which they lived. Thomas Jefferson Teal was born in 1877. Ida Mayfield Teal was 7 years older, born in 1870, making their young adult years the time when this barrel stave type trunk became popular for traveling. But it could also have belonged to their families. I know very little about these ancestors. So it is too late to ask the questions. I can only know that the trunk may look empty but that it carries a world of stories inside.
I can't wait to see what it looks like after my son imagines the stories.
Friday, April 22, 2016
Sunday, April 17, 2016
I think of all our jobs and moves and the places we have made our home in the 52 plus years of our marriage. We have lived in Oklahoma, East Texas, Oregon, Indonesia, Thousand Oaks, near Los Angeles, California, all 3 major cities in Texas (Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston) and smaller towns surrounding those metropolitan areas (Missouri City, Kirby, Sugar Land, Plano). We have had small houses and larger ones, small gardens and larger ones. Although some places may have been
more familiar to us than others, in every place we made a home. The presence of our family and the ways we lived and loved each other there made each place a home no matter what the neighborhood looked like. We found friends and neighbors, churches where we could worship and serve, grew gardens and and gathered around kitchen tables as our family grew and changed.
After many years of moving frequently, we came to Sugar Land and although we have moved once during the time, we have rooted here. For 24 years we have loved being part of this community. Now we move again, not too far away (still in Fort Bend County) and because we have been in this area for so long, we already have a number of friends in our new area. We are still near our church. We will miss this home and our garden, but we look forward to planting a garden as we make our home in a very different place. We are excited to share our new place with our youngest son, his wife, and our 2-year-old granddaughter. I am thankful for all the homes of yesterday, for this time in this home today, and for all our tomorrows in our new home.
I include a link to a post in one of my other blogs: Transplanting
Sunday, March 27, 2016
Nora holds a basket that is a small picture of this old and familiar coupled with new experience. She is carrying her happily retrieved eggs in the Easter basket that was mine when I was her age! Something that was loved and passed down and kept. Our Easter traditions are a bigger picture of that for me, and of course so much more important. I am grateful for old stories and new ones, and most of all for the most powerful gift and story of all time, of Jesus' life and death and resurrection.
Sunday, March 20, 2016
We celebrated Nora's Birthday yesterday. She is now 2 years old. Grandparents from Tennessee and Texas (that would be us), aunts and uncles from both sides of her family plus her cousin Skye were all here to enjoy the balloons and bubbles that were floating everywhere. There was a chocolate cake, a candle to blow out, the birthday song, and of course, presents. Among our gifts to her was this apron with lots of polka dots and pockets.
I made it from 2 sizes of red and white polka dot fabric, so it was reversible. This apron is actually gift from 3 grandmothers. I, her paternal grandmother, found the valentine print in my own fabric stash to make tiny pockets. The other 2 pieces of fabric were cut from scraps of fabric from my own grandmother's quilting scraps. That means Mary Clyde Terrell, Nora's great great grandmother is part of the gift. Her daughter, my mother, Opal Terrell Teal, Nora's great grandmother (for whom she is named), contributed to my grandmother's quilting scraps from her own sewing although she did not quilt herself. Plus, she kept the box of fabric pieces for years before handing them down to me! She is the third grandmother represented in the gift.
I like thinking about the stories behind aprons and quilts and grandmothers. I am glad Nora's first apron has a story. She just likes wearing it!
Nora Opal Parker
Saturday, February 27, 2016
I only have to watch the Monarchs in our back yard as they go through their cycles of caterpillar, chrysalis, and metamorphosis to be reminded that change is necessary for growth. Enjoy your wings, sweet girls!
Saturday, February 20, 2016
Monday, February 1, 2016
Ben, Joe, Sean, Mary Ann and Jeremy on Nana's couch, probably 1979 or 1980
For awhile after we were married, I continued using my 35mm camera, but then we began using polaroid cameras - great for seeing the photos right away, but terrible for their quality and durability. Then we switched to a very simple point and click camera, which involved developing and negatives. Many of those have faded terribly. I was not a great photographer, and was usually in a hurry to capture a moment, so many of our pictures are poor photos. I confess to having had very little organization with photo storage, with only a few making it into albums - which certainly makes it hard to organize them after over 50 years of family life. We want to keep the ones we have in a way that allows us to view them easily, and digital storage allows us that plus ways to organize and share with all our family.
There are so many more ways to turn out great photographs now. My smart phone works better for me than my good camera most of the time because I have it with me, and it is so quick and easy to get good candid shots. I can capture an image of a granddaughter, view, edit, and post it on FaceBook for friends and family to see more quickly than I used to be able to take off my lens cap, focus, and click! I take more photos, and have learned so much about cropping and editing. These, too, will be stored in files on my computer I am finally organizing pictures! Old dogs really can learn new tricks.