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Showing posts with label friends. Show all posts
Showing posts with label friends. Show all posts

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Happy Birthday, Mignon!

I always thought having a birthday on Valentine's Day was very special.  So here's to my long time friend and lovely lady, Mignon.  We became friends in 2nd grade.  That was in 1947, which makes our friendship one that has lasted for almost 70 years!  When we moved back to the U.S. and settled in our area of the Texas Gulf Coast, we once again lived near enough to see each other more often. Ours is the kind of friendship that bridges gaps in time, so even though months may pass when we sit down to lunch together, we pick up conversation easily almost where we left off!

Mignon was my first friend for after school play times and overnights where we "roasted" crackers over a flashlight and put doll dresses on her kitty.  Her dog was a chow named Taffy. We got matching baby dolls and named them matching names.  I went on campfire cookouts to a place called Fry's Gap with her family.  Her older sister Charlotte and her parents were gracious and kind to me.
 Through the years, Mignon has remained a beautiful, charming woman and faithful friend. She is a woman of faith and has been a wonderful wife, mother, and grandmother. She is one of the most creative and talented people I know.  Happy Birthday, Dear Friend!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


I made a Dutch Baby to serve with blueberries, peaches, and melon on Saturday morning. This puffed pancake has been a family favorite for nearly 30 years, so I no longer look for the scrap of paper on which I first wrote the recipe. But later, I searched through my stack of handwritten recipes and found it. I held it and remembered who first gave me a taste and then gave me the recipe for Dutch Babies. In late 1987, we moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, where Joe worked for ARCO. Among our expatriate friends there were Bob and Dorothy Thomas.  Dorothy gave me the recipe and first served it to us in their home in Jakarta. She passed away about a year ago after a battle with cancer, and last week, her husband Bob followed her. I am sad to say goodbye. I will remember with gratitude their dear friendship, especially when I take a golden brown Dutch Baby from the oven.

Dutch Baby     recipe from Bob and Dorothy Thomas

1/3 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
4 eggs

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  In a 9 inch iron skillet, place butter and put inside oven to melt. Place all the other ingredients in blender and mix thoroughly. When butter is melted and pan is hot, remove from oven and carefully pour batter into melted butter. Do not stir. Carefully return to oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.  Serve with fresh fruit dusted with powder sugar or topped with whipped cream.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hospital Hospitality and Home Again

Green space in courtyard, Methodist Hospital, Sugar Land

I am a retired registered nurse. I do not say an inactive nurse and although I may occasionally say "I have not worked in years," that is not really true.  I always thought my nursing education and experience provided great preparation for taking care of 3 boys, These served me well in caring for others, including my mother who died in 2006. I have had a great deal of opportunity to call on basic patient care skills in the past few years during many surgeries for my husband.  But in all 51 years of marriage, the many hospitalizations for Joe and all the years of emergency room visits for stitches and casts with little boys, I had never called 911 for a medical emergency and we never had as many as 9 days of hospitalization for any one incident. On June 3, an insect (mosquito or spider, we are unsure which) changed that record. 

While working for a few minutes in the garden that morning, Joe got a bite on his right elbow. We thought it was a mosquito because they have been numerous and hungry since all the rains and flooding Memorial Day week. After sleeping a long time, he began having  chills and rising fever.  Within a couple of hours I had gone from considering going to choir practice to calling 911 and riding in the ambulance with him to the E.R., followed by a hospital admission. His white blood cell count was high, his temperature was high. Cultures were started. He was treated with IV antibiotics and supporting therapy for what turned out to be septic bursitis.  The villain was beta hemolytic strep. He did not respond as quickly as expected to the antibiotic therapy or needle aspiration of the offending fluid in the bursa. But after a number of different antibiotics, he began to improve and finally was discharged a few days ago. 

His IV medication continues at home, we are working out new pain management schedules, chipping away at followup appointments, and loving being back at home. The fact that our first tropical storm of the season, Bill, decided to try to come this way also is another story. I am thankful for Joe's recovery, thankful for our sweet family's caring response, our dear church's concern and prayers, and for a staff of excellent physicians and nurses as well as other employees at Methodist Hospital Sugar Land. 

 I commend this hospital's administration and staff for their smiles and professional care, including everyone from housekeeping to each specialist. I did not encounter anyone who did not seem genuinely interested and supportive. They are a caring community who come alongside when some of us have a health burden. Even though I have been in their shoes I sadly do not always remember names, but this time a long list of names comes to mind as I include them in my gratitude list. I am also grateful for the planning of the facility, the architecture, the provisions not only for patient safety and comfort but also for those who are visitors.

During my days of staying with Joe, I took some long walks in the halls.  I didn't have time to take as many pictures as I had moments of appreciation, but here are a few.

I had an aerial view standing in front of the bank of windows on the North side of our 6th floor of the main hospital.

Viewing 69/59 Northbound and Southbound, Sugar Land stretching beyond. The chairs placed by the windows were usually occupied by visiting family members and those waiting for good news or bad. As I looked out across the busy freeway, I thought how many times I pass by this spot.

At the end of our hall, a window wall looked toward First Colony Mall, the clock tower in Sugar Land Town Center, and beyond to the cityscape of Houston. 

Most of my walks were indoor walks but once I visited the small courtyard near the hospital's front entrance where there were lush green plants like the one pictured at the top of the page, inviting benches, and water flowing in a fountain.

Sean, Teion, Lauren, and Skye drove behind us in the ambulance. When they all left, Lauren made a special trip back to the hospital to bring me sandwiches, yogurt, and water bottles since I was there for the night with no dinner. 

Skye visited her Papa on her way to dress dance recital rehearsal.  Lauren added her name to his care giving bulletin board..."I love you, Papa, Lauren"  Appropriate, since the love of his family boosted his recovery just as his caregivers did.

IV in one arm and the other swollen and painful, he still enjoyed hanging on to the phone for calls from our friends, sons, daughters in law, and grandchildren.

Maddie saved her PF Chang fortune cookie to switch out with a fortune message just for Papa.  "You will feel better."

Jordann cut out a peace symbol for him.

Jeremy drove from Fort Worth with the girls for a get well visit.

And finally, home again!  Nora waves get well fairy dust over Papa Joe.  Ben and Kristen brought him Chik Fil A breakfast!

Sean worked on the Koi pond twice so far which is such a tremendous help. Teion ran errands, helped talk to medical staff, and checked on him every day. I always feel the love and support of our family, but they all deserve a blue ribbon for taking care of the parental unit, as we are fondly referred to! 

So, home to hospital to home again, we have had an adventure I hope is not repeated, but I once again realize we have blessings that are priceless!  I am grateful.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Get Well

                                                    Alongside one another is a good thing!

We went to a wedding on Saturday. One of the familiar phrases in the ceremony rings in my head - "In sickness and in health..." At ceremonies like this, I often remember the vows that Joe and I repeated so many years ago when we became a family, when we numbered only two. Since baby Nora was born last year, our family numbers thirteen!

If I am to write about "the joy of journey as a family," honestly, I need to include the trying times, the upsetting times, the times when health is impaired. We all have those times, and the loving support of family is helpful beyond measure. I know of no better image of encouragement than that of coming alongside one another to share joys as well as loads.  With many extended families spread out with miles between, it is not always a relative who can do this coming alongside. Church family, friends, and neighbors may be ones who come with help and a hug.

 Three of my five granddaughters have been ill these past few days. Words like "pneumonia, RSV, ear infections, Strep" are not welcome words because they make our little ones very sick. Two of them live near enough for me to offer help. For the baby, it may mean a lap and loving arms to hold. I need to make sure our older girls know I care and that I pray for them, too. Supporting their parents who are trying to juggle busy jobs with the priorities of being good parents is also important. Offering a pot of soup or running an errand or early pick up from school can help. The miles that separate us from family in North Texas limit support to email, phone calls and a note, but there may be times when I am able to go there to help.

Of course, there are seasons when the sickness and offers of help are reversed. Joe has had many surgeries in recent years, and my own health sometimes takes a nosedive. Our family and friends offer hands and hearts. It is all part of our journey.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lifelong Friends

I have been working lately at clearing clutter in our house and garden, reducing the number of things I need to clean and care for.  Cleaning out closets, clearing shelves, sorting out the pantry and organizing cabinets is not so much house cleaning - more a spiritual and physical reorganization, I think. But I am loyal to my friends, and many of my books are lifelong friends.  Books like the one in the photograph have been with me ever since I was old enough to read. Then there are the books our sons loved and read over and over again. Add to those the classics, mystery series, poetry, memoir, writing books, and the shelves of books which have been Bible study and spiritual formation guides. I know that the key to reducing the numbers of books lies in beginning to give them away and to stop buying anymore, but I am not making much progress.

I may be able to fill boxes for the Friends of the Library book sale by taking stacks of paperback mysteries, perhaps even some of the series of books written by an author I enjoyed.  But many others I will choose one at a time to introduce to a friend or a granddaughter.  I have always believed in practicing hospitality and  introducing my friends to each other. It pleases me to know that my lifelong friends can become the same kind of friend to someone else.

I previously mentioned my book friends in this post:

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Our sons and their wives gathered family and friends for a lovely celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary. We loved every minute of an evening full of hugs, fond memories, photographs from 50 years of adventure, good food, and gratitude overflowing.  Our friend Aija played violin music and our son Ben quoted this favorite Shakespeare sonnet.  We have so many reminders that we are surrounded by love!

 Sonnet 116           William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
     If this be error and upon me proved,
     I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Thursday, August 29, 2013


After a day at work for Joe and a day of waiting for him to come home for Bella, they settle down in their favorite spot to stop and sit awhile.  Joe makes a fuss about whose chair it is and she turns around and wiggles a few times to find just the right way to view her world, but there is no question - it isn't his or hers, it is their chair. I wouldn't think of taking that place to sit! What furry friend shares your chair?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mignon and Mary Ann


Last week I had lunch with my friend Mignon.  We have been friends since 1947, which means 66
years of friendship! In the early years, we lived in the same town, Jacksonville, Texas - close enough to walk to each other's house for after school play or overnight.  We went to the same elementary school, West Side Elementary.  Between second grade and sixth grade, we had the same teachers, enjoyed playing with our pets and dolls, and even had our mothers make us matching outfits.  We "roasted" saltines over flashlights under the covers when I spent the night at her house.  We had twin baby dolls named Gwendolyn and Wendolyn and what seemed like an endless parade of kittens which sometimes got to wear the doll clothes. When Mignon's family moved to Houston during our 6th grade year, we began letter writing and occasional vists for a week or so in the summertime.  Mignon continued to live in Texas after college and marriage while I lived with my husband and family in Oklahoma, Oregon, California, and Texas as well as for some years in Indonesia.  Through all those years, we kept in touch with letters and infrequent visits, and now there is email!  There has never been a time we have been together that we don't just pick up where we left off, as only good friends can do.  As one friend remarked when I posted the above photo on FaceBook - "the smiles say it all!"


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Tribute to Friends and Family

"From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord's name is to be praised."    ~ Psalm 113: 3

This week started with end of summer and start of school stuff.  It is hurricane season here and there was a storm brewing, Monday was the beginning of school for our 4th grade granddaughter, and Tuesday the first day for our first grader. Both my recently planted tomatoes and I were wilting in the heat and grateful for long cold drinks of water.  Joe was busy with work and medical appointments. By the end of the day on Monday, my cool pillow was the only place I thought I was headed.  Suddenly, everything changed.  We were on the way to the hospital instead of to bed.  Joe, who has had so many surgeries on his left knee, was literally brought to his knees by that joint collapsing and dislocating.  We found ourselves in a swirl of pain and prayers. Calls to our doctor and our son, who came to help resulted in emergency hospital admission and on to the operating room where the out of place pieces were put in place and snugly encased in a thigh to toe cast.  It is going to be a painful, challenging recovery but he is addressing it with his typical courage and good spirits
All this to say, I am so grateful for God's provision for our peace in the middle of this storm, which felt like the pounding confusion of hurricane winds to us. 

Isn't it good that we know we are not alone in dealing with this?  We are grateful for access to medical care, and most of all so thankful for our family and the friends who help us and love us in so many ways.  Our sons gave us their time and strong arms to lean on.  Ben made our dinner when we came home from the hospital.  He even remembered his Dad had said mac and cheese sounded good. Our son who does not live here was connected and encouraging by phone.  All 3 daughters in law responded with loving attention.  And I am overwhelmed with appreciation by the emails and Facebook messaging as well as phone calls from our friends.  So it was natural that when I thought about a blog post for today that I wanted to give the spotlight to all of you who love us so well and help us so much.  As the photo of a note I received many years ago declares "Hope your day starts and ends on a beautiful note!."  I might add certainly make the notes in my day a symphony!

Postscript:     The note I mention was the last letter I received from Doris Nutt,  a longtime friend and mentor on October 22, 2001 although I got a birthday card a few weeks later which she mailed before she died.  She taught me at church when I was growing into and out of my teens, and was so important to me as a friend and mentor that I (along with other women who had the same blessing of knowing her) called her Mamma Nutt.  Her faithfulness, loyalty, and unselfish giving of herself remain an example to me when I think of friends.  When she passed away, friends found her with her Bible open in her lap.  All those years ago, her encouragement and teaching helped to equip me for the storms of today.  I am thankful for family and friends, then and now.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Happy Birthday Joe!

Planning birthday celebrations has always been fun at our house. From the first year of our marriage, Joe has loved to have me bake an unusual cake called "Cheap Cream Cake" for his birthday cake. When our sons were little, we had such good times thinking how each one would be a special occasion for the birthday boy!  Jeremy had a frog birthday when he was four complete with a frog cake baked in a bowl and turned upside down with green frosting and a homemade pin the fly on the frog's tongue instead of a tail on the donkey.  Sean had a birthday scavenger hunt one year, Ben's 6th birthday was a bicycle parade around the block.  We have had parties where everyone came dressed in stripes, bake your own cake parties with paper chef hats, and those where we made our own banana splits or ice cream sundaes or pizzas.  The year Joe turned 40, the boys and I made him a huge poster with 40 things we wished for him for his birthday and gave him a Baskin Robbins cake shaped like a train with frosting that said "Keep on Chugging, Honey, You're Not over the Hill yet!"
I have enjoyed asking family members each year "What would you like for your birthday dinner?"  That has produced Italian meals more than once, Indonesian and Mexican food often.  We have had a murder mystery game dinner, a luau, and cookouts. 

So I was not surprised recently when Joe said "I have decided what I want to do for my birthday!"  "A dinner," he said -with our family.  Here.  (at home) And I want violin music!"  So of course, that is exactly what we had this past weekend. For Joe's 75th birthday he finally did not have "Cheap Cream Cake."  He had lasagne and all the trimmings, tiny cupcakes, family, and unspeakably beautiful violin music.  Aija Isaacs, who teaches music to several family members, brought her family and violin and gave us an enchanted evening. 

My birthday present to Joe is in the photo below, a collage of a great many of the tickets to events, musicals, and theatre  we have enjoyed through our nearly 50 years together.  I can say without hesitation that his birthday evening of violin music was the best of all by the expression on his face.  Many thanks to Aija, to our children for all their help with the evening, and to our friend Tommy Gay Dawson for her lasagne!

Friday, June 29, 2012


When was the last time you got a letter? To be honest, I can't remember - and that makes me sad.  I sort the mailbox harvest, in order of preference:  hand addressed envelopes, bills and other items with first class postage, then the junk mail which goes promptly into the recycle container in my kitchen.  I love getting holiday cards, announcements and invitations, and thoughtfully penned notes saying thank you or be well.  But it has been a very long time since a long newsy letter arrived except those of annual Christmas Letter variety.  I miss getting letters. I miss writing them.

I exchange email correspondence and Facebook messages.  I always have my cell phone with me.  I stay connected with my family in those ways although I have stopped short of texting and tweeting.  I savor engagement in these ways but I can't help but remember the difference in sitting down to write a letter and getting to settled to enjoy reading one.  Our electronic communications are immediate, instant gratification but briefer, to the point, with less feeling apparent.  Somehow posting a smiley face says so much less than a few sentences about feeling happy.

I have used the same expression most do in referring to mailbox content as "snail mail" - of course it is slower!  Just like many others, I now do my banking and much of my shopping online.  I love the internet tools available for researching, writing, and communication.  I am not suggesting we go back, only that we consider what may be lost in the progress and that we become more intentional in retrieving engagement and intimacy in our communications.  Maybe that is one of the reasons I choose to post weekly on my three blogs.

To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.   ~ Phyllis Theroux

P. S.  The photograph above is a letter I wrote to my parents in 1963 while I was planning my wedding (December 28, 1963).  I found it recently when I was going through one of the many boxes belonging to her I have sorted and filed since her death in 2006.  I wonder if there will be any letters for my granddaughters to read in 50 years.  Somehow, printed emails don't seem to be keepers. Who knows?  They may keep digital scrapbooks which have a file for their children's letters.  I just hope the messages of the heart will be in them.

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.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Red, White, and Blue

We celebrated with a Fourth of July breakfast this morning.  A Dutch Baby (puffed pancake) with blueberries, rasperries, and strawberries.  We enjoy a variety of pancakes of various origins, but this may just be voted family favorite.  Nearly 25 years ago, our friends Bob and Dorothy Thomas made this.  Once I tasted it, I hastily scribbled the bones of the recipe on a torn piece of paper, which is still the one I pull out when I get ready to make it.  Even though I know the simple ingredients and preparation by heart, I like to connect with the memories by handling this tattered little note. It may be simple, but because it rises and puffs and is always beautiful with any assortment of fresh fruit, it is a great way to make guests feel special, whether served at breakfast, brunch, or a lovely dinner dessert.

                                                                  1/3 cup butter
                                                                   4 eggs
                                                                   1 cup milk
                                                                   1 cup flour

Begin heating oven to 425 degrees.  Put butter into an 8 inch round iron skillet and place in oven.  While butter is melting, put eggs, milk, and flour into blender jar and mix throughly.  Take hot skillet out of oven and pour batter directly into melted butter.  Do not stir.  Place back into oven for about 20 minutes, or until puffed and browned.  I cut it into fourths and top with fresh berries or peaches and sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar.  If you wish, add a dollop if whipped cream.  Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Optional:  Add vanilla or a dash of nutmeg for flavor.  We like it plain.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Recipe for Remembering

I have been doing Christmas baking and candy making the last few days. As I got out my recipe box and files to choose which meals and treats I would make this year, I realized one more time how many of these are traditions in our family, but also the numbers of friends and family who passed these recipes on to me. Most of the recipes are handwritten, and include the name of the person who gave them to me originally. As I read through them, and particularly as I cook that special food, I think of those names, and am grateful for all the ways they were and are part of our family story. A few reflect a family experience that resulted in the collection of the recipe. This year I made a list of 18 recipes and contributors and smiled as I realized most of them I have been using for 40 years or more! Some of them were:

Dr. Pepper Bread: this came from a booklet handed out at the Texas State Fair in 1978! A family trip to the fair resulted in a recipe we have used ever since.

German Butter Balls, courtesy of my friend Nancy Johnson in San Antonio in 1970.

My sister in law, Iris' recipe for Toffee.

Candy Cane Cookies, clipped from a Ladies' Home Journal in the late 1960's This is an alltime family favorite, and the one my grandchildren like best to make as well as to eat!

Ice Box Cookies, my mother's recipe and a cookie I remember eating for well over 60 years!

Thumb Print Cookies, from Pat Tarver Taylor, our good friend for over 40 years.

Mexican Stack Up: given to us by C.W. and Mary Bess, a dear pastor and his wife, in a book of Christmas recipes in 1982.

All Bran Yeast Rolls, from Billie Housman in 1963.

Orange Spiced Wine, from Georgie Ingram, 1972

Poppy Seed Dressing for fruit salad, from Opal Carl. She was my Public Health Professor in Nursing School in 1962.

Chicken Tetrazinni, from Jean McGuire, our neighbor in San Antonio in 1966.

I am grateful for friends past and present. I love remembering with recipes.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Skye missed her friend. Anna’s family was in Chicago for the summer. Skye longed for Anna’s return, only to learn that when they came back it would be to pack and move. Anna’s Dad was being transferred to Calgary, Canada! For three years Skye had answered “Anna” to questions about best friends. Anna answered “Skye” to the same questions. Now, in two days, Anna would go with her parents and her brother, Jack, to the airport where they would fly to their new home. This would be too far away to come back for play dates or even birthday parties. They would start first grade next week in two different countries! But today they would have fun doing all the things they had enjoyed doing together, their favorite things.

First, they chose scarves and hats from the dressup basket in Granmary’s front bedroom. Purple chiffon and leopard spotted satin floated from their shoulders. Tutus and capes and jewels hung here and there. Anna chose a comb with a tall feather to put in her hair, while Skye peeked out from a red straw hat. Angel and Bella, the cats, ran under the bed. The sight of the fashion parade to the tune of giggles made Granmary smile.

Skye took Anna outside to show her the fairy house she was making. It had a real door painted yellow and pink and green. Twigs and rocks and sparkling bits of broken jewelry surrounded it. They picked flowers and ran on the paths in the garden and fed the fish in Papa Joe’s pond.

Skye set the small round table and stools in the hall while Anna stacked the tea dishes. Granmary gave them a red checkered square for the table and brought tiny peanut butter sandwiches and tuna salad with apple juice to pour in the teacups. After their tea time, they went outside for a few minutes to dance in the rain! Then they watched a movie about a mouse who loved books and ate popcorn.

While Granmary watched Skye and Anna, she thought of her own best friend when she was just the same age. Mignon and Mary Ann dressed up and dressed alike. They played with their kittens and with their dolls. They had picnics and parties. They giggled. And when Mignon moved to what seemed like a whole country away, although it was only to Houston,they kept being friends. So Granmary smiled again and thought about her old friend. They were both grandmothers now. But they were still friends. She thought to herself “I will call Mignon and we will have lunch this week, so I can tell her about Skye and Anna.” Then she helped Skye and Anna string some tiny silver beads on a stretchy cord. The two bracelets were exactly
alike. The beads in the middle had their initials and said: SP FRIEND AL, but they wouldn’t really need the bracelets to remember.
~I wrote this story for Skye after
she and Anna had their goodbye for
now day at our house last month.