Follow by Email

Showing posts with label family. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family. Show all posts

Monday, March 12, 2018


This scene (and so the picture) is an image I never want to forget. It is also full of reminders of these days in our life as a family. It is a record of a day in early March, 2018 - a day of sunshine and planting and doing things together. You can tell that Joe and Nora are planting seeds and seedlings. I also see trust and tenderness between an 80 year old grandfather and an almost 4 year old little girl. What the photo does not reflect that my heart does is the back story.  Nora and I read Jan Karon's book The Trellis and the Seed,  a beautifully illustrated children's book by one of my favorite authors - one I have given to all my grandchildren, usually with a package of Moonflower seeds tucked inside. I told Nora we would look to see if there were Moonflower seeds in our box of garden seeds. Joe said he had Moonflower seeds sprouting already under his growlight! Then Nora's mom found a bag of seeds collected from last years Moonflowers. So the planting is a picture of extended family and cooperation.

Now there are sprouts. We check every day for leafing and climbing. We will all watch for the first fragrant white blooms that grace us only at night, fading just as the Morning Glories begin to open!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

For the Love of Oliver

Photograph by Joe D. Parker

 Oliver Hilton Parker is sunshine on this foggy day!  He has changed from baby boy to toddler as he begins to walk and explore. He is the first of our grandchildren to be a boy, and also the first to live with Joe and me. He is named for his great grandfather, Joe's Daddy - Oliver Byron Parker and his other grandfather, Kelly Hilton Edwards.. He and his Papa Joe have a special bond, a mutual admiration society. Each seems to know what the other is thinking and saying without any talking!

 I smile when I watch them together - the 80 year old grandfather and the almost 15 months boy.  They clearly adore each other Of course, Joe is crazy about all his granddaughters too. And without exception, Oliver's sister and all his girl cousins, his parents and all his other grandparents, aunts and uncles think he is special too.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Still Part of Our Story

A story about our family and this house was among early blog posts in 2010 (I began the blog in 2009) but I found this article recently when I was sorting a box of kept stuff. Our family still mentions our experience there fondly; we never pass through Jacksonville without driving by and remembering. The historical marker acquired by my research still stands.

 This photo and article appeared in the ARCO Spark, a company periodical, while we still owned the house but after we had moved back to Plano. Little did we know at the time that 2 years later we would be living in the Los Angeles area for a year before moving home and family to Jakarta, Indonesia in 1987!

Below I have included the story I wrote in 2010.

Eudora Welty said that “One place understood helps us understand all places better.” and “There may come to be new places in our lives that are second spiritual homes closer to us in some ways, perhaps, than our original homes. But the home tie is the blood tie. And had it meant nothing to us, any other place thereafter would have meant less, and we would carry no compass inside ourselves to find home ever, anywhere at all. We would not even guess what we had missed.”

I am grateful for my growing up place, within a family helping me understand people will always be more important than place. Odd, because that family of origin mostly stayed in one place: rural and small town East Texas. Important, because after I left home at 17 for college, so many places would take their turns in becoming the place of home. One brief passage of time the leaving and the return intersected to be called home. I do believe we make our homes where we are, but there are times when we have a more intimate connection with the place of home. My favorite place happened to be at that intersection,one which my family occupied for only slightly more than a year. But I still have pictures of it hanging on my wall and a doll house replica that my grandchildren love. I think each of us would vote it our favorite house.

When my sons were 13, 10, and 8, we bought a 100 year old Victorian house on 3 acres of oaks and magnolias and pecan trees in East Texas. It was in the hometown where both my husband and I grew up, so both his mother and my parents still lived there at that time. There had been some renovation to the house in the 1940's, but not much since, so there was much that was necessary to live there safely and comfortably. We restored, repaired, renovated, and resuscitated in ways we never knew we had any skill for. We stripped the staircases to find tiger oak, pulled up carpet to find lovely wood floors, added wood burning heaters, updated plumbing and electricity and found ways that old houses need you that amazed us. It was a wonderful adventure.

During the time we were there, I did the research and writing necessary to acquire state historical landmark designation for the house, which was built for John Wesley Love in 1904, to house his wife and 13 children. He had 700 acres of peach orchards adjacent to the house, which was built near the railroad tracks. We discovered that my father and uncle had picked peaches in the orchards, and that Joe's Daddy had painted and wallpapered there in the 40's. It has been 26 years since we lived there, but I can still feel the sway of the porch swing and smell the fragrance of the wisteria dripping from the trees. It was work to live there, but it was magic.

The planned changes in my husband's job did not happen, and we knew our boys needed a father at home more than they needed a certain house, but oh, we loved it. Since we went back there for visits to relatives, we went by the house every time, and I cried every time for years!

Strangely, it took another turn of events in our family life for me to honestly say goodbye to it. Over 15 years after we left it, with the house having gone through several owners, it was very expensively refurbished and opened as a venue for receptions and weddings and other events. When my son and his fiancĂ©e planned their small wedding, we arranged to have it there. The bride’s dressing room was Sean's old bedroom! The gathering room for guests was our master bedroom. The ceremony was held in front of the fireplace in the parlor where we had celebrated my parents' 50th wedding anniversary in 1982. The wedding was wonderful; the house was grand in her new finery. She didn't need me anymore, and I felt a closure I had been unable to achieve before. Neither Joe nor I have any living relatives there anymore, but I still say hello to the house when go back to our hometown. I can almost see the 3rd story cupola window wink back at me.

I am glad that although a sign now marks it as commercial offices, that place speaks home to me. I am even more glad that after many years and many moves, I am rooted (not root bound) in my present place. I love being at home.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Birthday Rose

This week I celebrated my 77th birthday with a variety of celebrations, greetings, phone visits, hugs and meals. On the morning of November 14, Joe brought me this rose. I am thankful that at almost 54 years of marriage, he knows I love a flower cut from our garden best of all and that he will go out and find one to bring to me in a perfect little vase. He gave me a new Kindle for my books and music, and  Ben made me a strawberry smoothie. He and Kristen knew I would love the new Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds book. Hugs and Happy Birthdays from Nora added to my morning. We all made a trip to Costco for family groceries and lunched at P.F. Chang's in Sugar Land. All day the phone rang with happy greetings from my family, including all 4 of those in Nevada. In the evening, Joe and I joined our poetry group from church at a friend's home for dinner and poetry reading. Desert was a cherry birthday cake with candles and our friends' rendition of the birthday song.

That did not end the celebrations. Today, we all gathered with Sean, Teion, Lauren, Skye, and Kasey at a fusion restaurant in Sugarland Town Square called Jupiter's. Waffles, fried chicken, pizza, and sweet potato waffle fries filled the table!  More gifts, including a sweet nativity Christmas ornament, and a picture taking session by the giant Christmas tree in Town Square completed the morning.

I am savoring all the sweetness - not the kind found in the food. I am grateful for my family, and grateful for each day given to me to love them.

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.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Post Card from the Past: Liberty Hotel, Jacksonville, TX

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

Table Time

Ben offered to make our Friday night family dinner last week and tried his hand at brining and roasting a bird. The result was a family dinner everyone is talking about!  He even made cornbread dressing and cooked up a tarragon sauce that was passed around until the bowl was empty!  Jeremy and Michala sent chocolate covered strawberries (they now live in Nevada), and Sean is cooking our dinner at the next gathering.  This was Mother's day weekend and these gifts for me greatly pleased me for several reasons.

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.

   Gathering around our table has been so much more than providing physical nourishment for me.  For as we gather, whatever the table shape may be, we form a circle, a place of conversation and knowing and caring.  Expressing our gratitude for the provision of food and family, giving thanks for bread and baker, we enter a sacred space

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Changing Times

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


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, October 28, 2016

Nora's Family Tree

As we enjoy the first days that feel like fall, the changing light of Autumn, and see leaves changing color, many of our littles work on art projects that reflect the season. I smile as I see Nora's Family Tree art already includes baby Oliver.  Our whole family prepares to welcome him in the coming weeks.  I am grateful for all the branches and leaves on Nora's tree, and for the larger one of extended family!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Getting Ready for Oliver

When visitors are coming to our home, we prepare for them, and meet them at the door with welcome hugs. In many ways, we make ready.  It might be setting the table and cooking favorite dishes to share with them, or planning a place for them stay while they are here. Offering hospitality is a gift from us as well as a gift to us because there is so much joy in getting ready and then spending time together.

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.

Getting ready!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

My Kitchen Table

During the preparation for our recent move, one of the pieces of furniture we chose not to bring with us was this table.  We were moving to share a home with our youngest son and his family. We would be using their furniture in our new dining room, and in the kitchen would be the table long used as our dining table, Grandma Terrell's oak table.  The butcher block parson's table that had graced our kitchens in 9 different homes over more than 40 years would need to go. It was sagging in the middle - showing its age and the number of times it had been moved, not to mention the markings acquired during cooking preparations, meals, snacks, art and sewing productions worked on by our growing family of little boys, and in most recent years, their daughters. There were even spots where glue and glitter and the paint from model airplanes seemed to be ingrained in the wood.  But my oldest son wanted the table. Sean remembered the table as a fixture of his growing up years, a leaning place later.  He was 6 years old when my parents gave us the money to buy a new table because our family had outgrown a table for 4.

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.                       

It would be a mistake to indicate that the only ingredients in my kitchen required for successfully and joyfully feeding my family were found in my pantry or simmering on the stove.  I will occasionally include table blessings, some “table talk”, and important for the keeper of this kitchen, prayers.  I wrote this one as a prayer poem in 1998.
                                              My Kitchen Table
                      As I open your Word and lean here one more time,
                  Make my table a holy place with your presence, Lord…
                     This table of pecan wood, not hand crafted acacia.
              This table scratched and stained with family years and family tears.
             This table that has been a family gathering place in so many places,
                 A place of offering and receiving nourishment of many kinds.
                     A place of joy and jelly, high chairs, and holding hands.
                   Birthday cakes and boy talks, spilled milk and spilled hearts.
            A place where I have put my head down and wet the wood with tears.
                         A place where your care and feeding of my soul
                            Joined the care and feeding of my family.
                              My heart is seated at this table, Lord.
                                You make this a holy place.
                                   I worship you.
                                                      Mary Ann Parker, March 1, 1998

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Fort Baker 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.

 In 1973 Fort Baker was listed as a Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places. When the Golden Gate National Parks were established in 1972, Fort Baker was designated for transfer to the National Park Service when no longer needed by the military. In 2002 Fort Baker transferred officially from post to park, when the base was closed to military use except for a small Coast Guard presence. In July 2008, this significant historic area opened as a unique resort, named Cavallo Point Lodge. 
Cavallo Point is the first bay area national park lodge.There are over 20 renovated army buildings nestled around a large grass parade ground. None of the restored buildings give any indication they are now part of an extraordinary ecologically sensitive enclave that includes remarkable lodging, a Michelin-star restaurant, and a cooking school.
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

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

Packing, Letting Go, and What I Take With Me

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

Mother's Day Gift

As so many will this weekend, I am thinking of the gift of my mother, and her mother before her. I think of what a gift being a mother has been for me. And I am so proud and grateful for the young mothers who are part of my life right now because they loved and married my sons and became the mothers of my grandchildren.  I could paper this page with pictures of these mothers. Instead, I have a picture of this white iris which once bloomed in my grandmother's yard. It would be an entirely imaginary story, but it could be that it was cultivated in her yard by her own mother, who lived with her until her death in 1940, the year of my birth.  Because that great grandmother was born in France, and would have known her French heritage, it could be that she loved the iris flower, the French royal standard fleur-de-lis.

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

Traveling Trunk

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


It is no secret that our garden has been a delight for us here in the place we have lived for 11 years. The sign in our front yard announces we are choosing to pass on the care and enjoyment of this back yard to the family that will live here very soon. There is an important word in that last sentence:  "choosing."  We have made this decision after prayerful deliberation and feel that it is the right thing for us to do.  Of course, we will miss many things about this home and garden, but we are excited about our move, knowing that it will be a new place and a different landscape.
 Yes, it is very different!  That is exciting, too, knowing we can choose the fruit trees and roses and garden spot and once again make it "ours."  The most exciting part of these choices is that our youngest son Ben and his wife and 2-year-old daughter share them with us. To see Nora running in the grass with the wind blowing wisps of hair across her happy face has already made this place feel like home!  The work of moving and putting two households into place is not over, but we are thankful for helping hands and plenty of hugs.  The joy of journey as a family!  The satisfaction of homework, in the deepest sense!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Home: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

These blossoms perch all over a bush given to me by my friend Debbie Andrews.  The occasion was the timing of our move into the home we have loved since 2005 and Debbie's move away from this area to Louisiana. The plant is called Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow because the petals open colored in a pale shade of lavender, changing daily to darker shades of purple. It is blooming right now, reminding me of friendships that last through changing time, and also of the way the place of our home can change.  Two days ago a for sale sign went up in our front yard. We have planned this change and prepared for it for months, but somehow the sign says "this is real, this is happening now."

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

Easter 2016

Nora competed with the best in her age group for egg gathering this morning, her first egg hunt to enjoy since she was barely 1 year old last year. Our church in Richmond, Texas has a prayer garden centered on one of the oldest and biggest oak trees in South Texas. Our early service for Easter is always in the garden, weather permitting and today's weather was beautiful.  After that service, which is very much geared to children, we gather across the street for breakfast of egg casseroles, fruit, cereal, donut holes and families who have not seen each other for a long time catching up.  This is followed by the egg hunt, with older and younger children hunting in separate areas, and then we all go to a 10:00 a.m. Easter service that celebrates the resurrection of Christ. We have been part of this congregation for 24 years, and we always look forward with anticipation to the parts of this schedule that are the same and we always experience something new in the worship led by our pastor and music ministry.

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.