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Showing posts with label grandmothers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grandmothers. Show all posts

Monday, May 22, 2017


This is the first chocolate tomato harvested this year.  If the birds do not get to them before we do, there should be many more, along with other types of heirloom tomato goodies. I fell in love once with a tomato called Cherokee Purple,  An old Cherokee Indian heirloom, pre-1890 variety; it has a beautiful deep dusky purple-rosy red color and sweet flavor.  And so I began to learn more about heirloom plants in general, and especially tomatoes. I love them for their stories, for their names, and for the adventure of growing them. They are not as hardy as the recently hybridized tomatoes. In addition to these 2, this year we have Brandywine, Louisiana Pink, Eva Purple Ball, and Kosovo plus a yellow heirloom I failed to tag. No, we don't have a large garden, only 1 or 2 plants of each. Joe, Ben, and my daughter in law Kristen do most of the work, and I get to pick a tomato or two and enjoy the benefits. Nora, at 3, already loves harvesting cucumbers and tomatoes and peppers with her mom. 

I find heirloom plants intriguing, and am thankful for the pleasure gardening brings to all of us.  I believe the love of gardening is another heirloom, one passed down to me and mine from my parents and grandparents, who first showed me how to garden, but also introduced me to delicious fresh food on our table.  Long before the current farm to table trends, I knew that eating local (as in very local, our own garden) tasted better and helped to keep us healthy.  

Celebrating Heirlooms!

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, March 20, 2016

A Birthday Gift for Nora

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

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Skye is 13!

Today is our lovely granddaughter's thirteenth birthday.  From the moment of her parents' excited news of her tiny beginning, she has been so much joy and gladness for me. In the months before her birth, I wrote a journal to her in the form of a letter, given to her parents on the day she was born, a tradition I have continued with each new grandchild.  I simply wanted to tell her she was already a part of our family story and would always be.  I wrote about happily we anticipated her arrival, of all the things we looked forward to sharing with her, and how we celebrate faith and family. From rocking and lullabies to planting flowers, building fairy gardens and baking macaroons, Skye continues to add delight to our time together. Thank you, and Happy Birthday, sweet girl!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Song and a Dance

In all the cleaning and clearing projects I have been working on, I sorted through a drawer that held piano music that belonged to my Mother.  My grandparents lived very modestly in a white frame farmhouse on a hill in East Texas.  There was an outhouse and a water well  because there was no indoor plumbing, even as late as the 60's when my grandfather died and Grandma Terrell moved to town.  But Opal was their only daughter and there is much evidence to prove that they doted on her. They bought her a piano and gave her lessons, many done by a mail order music course, but also piano lessons given in person by Mrs. Moss. The music I inherited has been a delight to me. I have enjoyed playing through it and thinking of other hands that played those songs.   I have not treated it with the care I probably should have, but I have done something I think Mother would like more - I used it.  In previous posts, I have talked about the story of this music.

When I was sorting through the crumbly pages this time, I was doing so in order to pass the music on to Nora Opal Parker, since she carries Mother's name.  Knowing that I might not be turning the pages again myself, I may have looked more closely. But I don't recall ever seeing this title before.  It is a piece in a book of waltzes and fox trots. There must be a story in that title!

 Before the music goes into a box to pass on to Ben and Kristen to keep for Nora, there is one more way to use it.  A few pieces of  love songs will be used to help decorate for a wedding in about a week,  I also think I will sit down and play through some of the old songs again. I think Nora's great grandmother will be listening.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


One of Nora's first and favorite words is "shoes!"  Pronounced with a special lilt and emphasis! Whether it is used as she looks for her own little pink Nikes, or carries her Daddy's heavy shoe around, it is obvious she loves shoes.  This week I watched as she took her own shoes off and tried again and again to put on my sandals and walk.  I laughed with her as she tried, but my thoughts about the scene lasted for a long time after our giggles. It is a great privilege and a great responsibility to think about her wearing my shoes or following my footsteps.  It is serious business, being a grandmother.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Nora was only a few weeks old last Easter, but this year she proudly walked around for all to see her Easter outfit!  Her Dad held her proudly as he brought her into our church's Easter breakfast wearing all the special clothes her Mommy had assembled for her. We were amazed how long the hat stayed on her dark haired head.  Later, at home when her shoes and stockings were given up for sweet bare feet, her hat traded for bunny ears. I looked around at the gathering her parents had assembled - fond grandparents, aunts, uncles, and proud cousin, and remembered a sweet line from a Fernando Ortega song called "This Time Next Year."

"... hold her high, because we are lifted in her laughter!"  

posted with gratitude to Ben and Kristen and Nora, and also to Nora's other grandmother, Desiree, who outdid herself cooking our Easter brunch. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Not About the Rabbits

Recently a topic of conversation in a group of women friends: "What Easter stories or memories come to mind?"

I thought about Easters in the seventies when we decorated and hid eggs for our three little boys, dressed them up and took them to church and to visit grandparents. I thought about Easters in the past 15 years when I found just the right Easter dress to delight first one, then two, three, four, and now five sweet granddaughters! I smiled when I pictured the fun we have had with our little boys and these little girls decorating eggs, cookies, and cakes, and gathering our growing family around Grandma Terrell's dining table in our home.  Which led me to think of that same table surrounded by my grandparents, parents, my sister and me, and sometimes others.  Always my sister and I proudly wore Easter dresses sewed by Mother.  Often we had a coat, hat, and purse to match!  Those little girl Easters always included going to an outdoor Easter sunrise service in a rock ampitheater.  Those red rocks made for hard, cold seating and shivering little girls in the early hours.

I thought about all the Easter baskets and Easter bunnies these memories represent, including this stern looking celluloid blue and white bunny that was mine in 1941, my very first Easter.  I have no recollection of that Easter, of course, but the fact that this odd little rattle was something Mother kept and passed on to me is significant.  She remembered.

Remembering is really what matters after all. In all the little signs and symbols of Easter there is one common thread, one reason for each:  to help us remember. We remember that Christ came, that he lived to show us how to live, was crucified, laid in a grave, and that he rose on the third day.  We sing the Easter songs and celebrate with joy because we remember.

We practice resurrection and redemption.  Happy Easter!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Crazy Quilt Comfort

My recent surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon is 9 days past now, and I am thankful for all the ways my family and friends have cared for me. I love reaching for this crazy quilt made by my maternal grandmother, Mary Clyde Curley Terrell. I have another one which has more silky taffeta and fancy fabrics, but this one speaks comfort to me with its patches of checked wool, bright colored corduroy, and flannel. Most of all I love her embroidery stitches outlining each patch, briar stitch, blanket stitch, feather stitch, and cross stitch. I can picture her fingers carefully choosing the floss, separating it, and threading through the eye of a needle.  I can see her stitching each seam line. In her later years, she was no longer able to see to thread a needle, so my mother would thread several needles with different color threads so that Grandma would have one ready if she needed to mend something or replace a missing button.   

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Finding a Keeper

In recent efforts of cleaning and clearing, I went through a box that contained things left behind by my mother.  As I looked at papers and dates and tried to decide what needed to be thrown away or passed on to someone else, I found a number of things that my mother herself probably once held and decided what to do with, because the dates were from years when she was a child.  I found myself thinking of the reasons first my grandmother and then my mother kept certain things.  One little pink booklet came apart at the binding when I turned the pages, but all the pages contained glimpses of life many years ago. The booklet was titled Catalogue and Premium List of School and Community Fair, Bullard, Texas  At the bottom of the cover was the location and date:  Bullard School Grounds, November 10-11, 1922.  

I was intrigued with the little book as I looked through the pages which listed sponsors and advertisements and the list of exhibits and competitions like Best pound of butter, Best bronze turkeys, Best dozen tea cakes, Best counterpane, Best tatting, and Best baby!  Of most interest to me were 2 sections where pages were missing.  Both times, there were penciled notes in my grandmother's handwriting that indicated numbers of items from the missing pages.  My hunch is that these were categories in which some of her craft or some competition entered by a son who was a winner!  Since my mother's brothers were only 4 and 1 that year, that would have been her oldest, Vinnon.

33 1/2    Best display potted flower  (which won wallpaper, given by Huges, hermer? & Son Tyler, Texas - value $3.50.

79  Winner of Mule Rase (which won mds. (merchandise?) given by Adam Wall, Drug. Co., Tyler Texas - value $2.50)

80  Winner of Horse Rase (which won mds (merchandise?) given by Walsh Hdw (hardware?) Co. Tyler, Texas - value $2.50)

Then I saw that on the front of the booklet was printed in pencil in small neat letters: VINNON TERRELL.  I looked again at the date.  And I understood why my grandmother kept the book.  I knew why my mother kept it. And why I will keep it and pass its story on. I put together the name and the date and remembered.

Vinnon was Ky and Clyde Terrell's firstborn son, born in 1909 so he was 13 years old in November, 1922.  He was killed in a hunting accident on Christmas day of that year.  He went hunting with a neighbor boy who got him back to that family's front porch where  Vinnon scrawled a goodbye note to his mother and father. I have seen the bloodstained note and heard his story all of my life. In the same box I found pages of his handwriting and schoolwork. My grandmother kept these things and her memories of her first son.  I never heard her whine or complain or bewail his loss, but I heard the story of the way his short life blessed her.  She knew raw grief then, and in many other ways later in her life but when I think of her I think of generosity and faith, of love and nurturing, of courage and determination.  And that she always grew flowers. I am glad you won the fair prize for that, Grandma!

                                       Opal Terrell, Travis Terrell, Vinnon Terrell  circa 1921

Friday, August 15, 2014


As Nora nears 5 months old, she is increasingly aware of color and patterns.  She is more sensitive to faces, smiling at those familiar to her and exhibiting wariness or alarm at those who are not. She fingers spots and dots on toys, reaches for the bright paisley of my shirt and the textured wood panel of her changing table. Here, she is fixed on the butterfly quilt that belonged to one of the grandmothers she is named for, Opal Terrell Teal.  As I smiled and watched her admiration, I thought of so many stories the quilt could tell.

Opal was my mother, making her Nora's great grandmother.  The butterfly quilt was made as a gift for Opal on her 17th birthday in 1931, a common pattern choice in those depression years that so needed the butterfly's symbolism of hope.  The women who chose these colors and patterns and stitched every tiny, even stitch were Opal's mother and grandmother, making them Nora Opal's great-great grandmother and great-great-great grandmother.  I stood as I watched Nora admire their handwork, thinking of their stories and hers.  They could not have known that almost a century later, a beautiful little girl would so love what they made. But I am confident they know now.  Opal herself did not know when she passed the quilt on to me how I would keep it and love it and give it again.  But I know she joins Clyde and Earnestine in blessing Nora and returning the admiration. Hope is a wonderful gift to pass on.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Some Things Don't Change

Mary Ann, 1940  

While I am happily spending this week caring for our baby granddaughter, Nora, I have thought about my own grandparents, who from all accounts were thrilled at my birth and delighted in my smiles and laughter in the same way I delight in Nora's.  I reflect with gratitude, remembering stories of my own parent's happiness in having a baby after almost 9 years of marriage when I see my son and daughter-in-law's radiant faces as they hold their daughter.  When I care for her, hold her close, rock her,  and sing to her, I am re-enacting those long ago love stories.

Many things are very different now- early pregnancy tests, ultrasounds, disposable diapers, washers and dryers that are marvels, air conditioned homes and automobiles, car seats, and  Mp3 lullabies!  I am thankful for every convenience that helps to keep babies safe and provides help for parents, but there is no replacement or upgrade for the calming reassurance of human voice and the comfort of loving arms.  

                    Ben and Nora

Thursday, July 24, 2014

For Me!

After I started elementary school in Jacksonville, TX in 1945, I never took my lunch to school because our house was on the same block as West Side School so I walked home almost every day for lunch.  Rarely I was given a quarter to buy my lunch at school which I considered a nice, if infrequent, treat!  If by chance I needed a sack lunch for something, it was just that - a waxed paper wrapped sandwich in a small brown paper sack.

When our sons started their years in Davis Elementary School in Plano, TX in the 1970's, lunch room prices had increased considerably, and most of the time they still had homemade lunches. They just carried them to school in cartoon character or superhero embellished metal  lunch boxes which had their names marked with indelible markers. Since plastic sandwich bags had been introduced in the late 1950's, their sandwiches most often were snugly enclosed in a baggie (no zipper on top), a Ziploc bag, or Tupperware!  If I stopped to do the math X 3 boys for making sandwiches, bagging them and assembling said sandwich, some fruit, chips, and a cookie or three into the corners of those rattly dented lunch boxes, it might make me feel tired, so I will just propose that over those years that happened thousands of times.  Often I tucked a note inside to send a little love along with lunch. I am pretty sure by first grade they did not let their friends see those notes.

In May, I started going to our youngest son's home to take care of my newest granddaughter. Her other grandma and I are sharing time, so I go every third week for my days with Nora, now 4 months old.  On the first Monday, I arrived at 6:00 a.m. to give them time for departure for their jobs by 6:15.  As they kissed their little one goodbye, picked up their things and started to leave, Ben turned around and said.  "Oh, Mom...I made your sandwich for lunch.  It is in the frig." As my eyes filled with tears and memories, I gave him a hug and thanked him before holding his daughter a little closer and breathing her sweet baby scent.

I am keeping that sandwich bag.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


The 3 inch wide kntted lace which I began when I was pregnant many years ago and picked up to work on again for that son's first child is finished.  I attached it to layers of crepe back satin, solid cream on one side, and a richly colored butterfly and roses print on the other. I knitted the lace, blocked it, cut and stitched the satin, went around the edge with pearl cotton in a blanket stitch, and finally, whip-stitched the lace to those stitches. It has been a labor of love, giving me the opportunity to focus on this baby, every stitch a prayer for her safe passage into this world and her journey in the years to come.  I have folded the coverlet and will pass it into the hands of my son and his wife today. Nora has been in our hearts for all these months, within days she will be in our arms.  Welcome, sweet little girl. You are covered with more than satin and lace. You are covered with Grace.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Thank Heaven for Little Girls, and their Daddies

Christmastime is a time for reflection , remembering, and for savoring moments of love and tenderness.  I love watching my sons with their daughters.  I love watching my granddaughters with their Daddies. In this photo, Jordann has found a sweet safe place in Jeremy's arms.  Both of our two older sons have 2 daughters, and now our youngest son and his wife are expecting their own little girl.  When baby Nora arrives in the Spring, she will have a circle of girl cousins to welcome her and the adoring attention of her Mother, Grandparents, and Aunts and Uncles.  But I can hardly wait to see her Daddy hold her. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Garden Gifts

Fall gardens on the South Texas Gulf Coast are sometimes even more productive than Spring plantings, but not this year.  Tomato plants are big and leafy, with only a few small green tomatoes.  Peppers are still growing, but barely.  A combination of unusual wet cool weather has all but stalled any further setting of blooms. My youngest granddaughters have just spent some time here, and prove that though the gathering may be small, the joy is large.  There are a number of reasons I choose to garden, and these grins are one of them.  These little girls have helped me in a number of ways, and I am thrilled to pass on the joy of harvest to them.  This week, as we have cut herbs and gathered peppers and chopped and cooked together, our Thanksgiving has been much more than a meal.  It is a celebration of the happiness of being together, working together, and gathering all the family around Grandma Terrell's old oak table.  The table is now mine, and I am now the grandmother, but I probably won't ever call it Granmary's table.  The girls, however, will, and I am glad. I am thankful for those who have gone before, and these who will go beyond.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


                                                   Opal Antionette Terrell  in 1914

October 19, 2013

Tonight I am in Tyler, Texas – the city of my birth almost 73 years ago. As I stand looking out on the busy street below my hotel room window, I think of my mother and father and the small clinic where I was born. Tomorrow would have been Mother's 100th birthday so we will go to visit her grave in a small cemetery in Bullard, Texas -  a small town south of here where both my maternal and paternal grandparents lived, and where Mother and Daddy met and were married, and where their remains lie, marked by a single piece of granite.  The cemetery is the burial place for many others of my relatives, and is a place I visit not out of obligation or of belief that I am visiting them, but as a sign of respect and a way of keeping our family story. A way of saying “I remember.”

Today is also a day that I gave birth to our second son, who was born only minutes before midnight the night before what was then my mother's 67th birthday. She came shortly after his birth and welcomed her newest grandchild and splendid birthday gift.  Birthing day and all his boyhood birthdays, these too, remembered.  

                                  Opal and her oldest brother, Vinnon Terrell  in  1914

                                         Opal, her oldest brother Vinnon, and younger brother, Travis

                                                            Opal Terrell

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Beginning Again

I have begun a knitting project, or shall I say begun to finish one I started over 40 years ago!  When I was pregnant with our first son, I finished a lovely cream colored knitted shawl in which we wrapped him for his trip home from the hospital.  Each of his two younger brothers also came home wrapped in the shawl, as have each of my granddaughters now.  But when I was pregnant with our 2nd son, I started something that would be "his" by knitting some wide lace intended to grace a receiving blanket.  Anyone who has been pregnant while running after a 2 year old will understand why that project barely got started.  When son #3 was on the way, I picked up the lace again and completed another 8 or 10  inches.  Now that son is 40 and expecting his own child and I have once again begun to knit on the lace.  It isn't easy getting started and striking my stride on a project that old, plus I had to order some yarn that is as close to the original as possible.  I hope I successfully complete it this time.  Arthritic fingers don't knit as nimbly! :)  I used to knit while I watched TV, but right now I am keeping my eyes glued to the pattern and the knitting!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Family Photographs

This picture wall is between our master bedroom and great room which also has our kitchen, so I walk through the area many times a day - from first thing in the early morning to last thing before I go to bed at night.  In the eight years we have lived in this house, I have rearranged the wall a number of times, particularly as new babies join our family circle.  Sometimes I stop to adjust a frame or touch a smiling face. Often, I stop, loving the connection with individuals and the gathering of all of us as family.  Those are the times I thank God for Joe and our sons and their wives and our grandchildren.  Through the ups and downs of our lives, we remain connected.  Sometimes I let my eyes travel from frame to frame, praying for daily strength and peace, fortitude in adversity, wisdom in plans, discernment for challenges, joy in new beginnings,   and overall that we will love God and each other well. Soon we will add another photograph.  Our family is growing.  I am blessed and grateful. Our story continues!

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Art of Making Lace by Tatting

Both my great grandmother, Ernestine M. Curley, and my grandmother, Mary Clyde Curley Terrell, kept samples of tatted and crocheted edgings and patterns for future reference, much as we keep printed patterns and directions today.  I do not remember my mother, Opal Terrell Teal, tatting, but she loved to embroider and crochet.  I have done my share of needlework through the years:  embroidery, cross stitch, crochet, and knitting but among my needlework supplies I count some of their handed down needles and patterns among my treasures.  In the first photograph, there are 4 of their edging patterns which I framed, among others.  The second row of lace above is tatted lace done by my great grandmother Ernestine.  The shuttle she used is shown in my hand in the photo below.

Tatting with a shuttle is the earliest method of creating tatted lace. A shuttle facilitates tatting by holding a length of wound thread and guiding it through loops to make the requisite knots. It is normally a metal or ivory pointed oval shape less than 3 inches long, but shuttles come in a variety of shapes and materials. Shuttles usually have a point or hook on one end to aid in making the lace. Antique shuttles and unique shuttles have become highly sought after by collectors — even those who do not tat.
To make the lace, the tatter wraps the thread around one hand and manipulates the shuttle with the other hand. No tools other than the thread, the hands, and the shuttle are used, though  a crochet hook may be necessary if the shuttle does not have a point or hook.netting and decorative ropework as sailors and fishermen would put together motifs for girlfriends and wives at home. Decorative ropework employed on ships includes techniques that show striking similarity with tatting.

Sewing instruction manual and sample, designed by Sister Mary Loretta Gately, as used in Sisters of Providence schools in the Pacific Northwest, 1908-1917
The Women's Museum, Dallas, Texas (special exhibit Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America, 2009–2010)