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Showing posts with label keeping. Show all posts
Showing posts with label keeping. Show all posts

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, January 11, 2013

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Biscuits, Butter, and Beyond

No, I didn't confuse which blog I was writing for!  I guess I could have titled this Kitchen Tools or Grandma Terrell's Keepsakes.  It was just that I started thinking about the top one when I used it the other day.  Its companion is missing a handle and wears the stains of its years, but it has a place of honor on the granite strip at my kitchen window behind the sink that holds reminders of my faith and family. 

One of the popular apps on FaceBook these days is the posting of an antique object or vintage find and asking you to check like if you remember something or if you ever used it.  So think about it!  Did (or do) you ever use either one of these objects?  Do you remember what they are?  Both were handed down to me by my mother who received them from her mother.  The rectangular wooden box is a butter mold.  Of course, the cow had to be milked and the milk had to be churned to make the butter before it was placed in the mold to harden in a cool place. 

The top round is not so different from today's cookie cutters except I don't have any with wooden handles.  This one doubled as a donut cutter due to its center, which can be twisted to remove.  I remember Grandma making biscuits - folding the soft dough and rolling it out to a sheet on which this biscuit cutter was used to deftly punch out dozens of creamy soft rounds which rose to golden,  flaky rounds in her wood stove.  Mother used it as well, eventually beginning to use the "new" biscuit mix, Bisquick,  to make her dough.  I now use it not only for biscuits (my favorite, angel biscuits have yeast as an igredient) and cookies, but tea sandwiches  and other goodies.  Recently, 6 year old Maddie and her Daddy helped me use it to cut circles from corn tortillas, which we placed in the iron skillet with an egg in the middle - a variation of the "toad in a hole" that my boys liked when they were little.  We saved the tortilla rounds to make mini tacos!

I don't churn and have never really used the butter mold.  But it reminds me daily of family heritage, hard work, and how my life is shaped and molded with love and intention.

Hit like if you know what this is.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Bookkeeping

I am a bookkeeper.  To be more I accurate I am a book keeper.  Although it is true that I managed the accounting portion of Parker Geophysical Inc. and Parker Consulting, Inc., companies which Joe and I owned during the past 20 years, that is not the books which are in this story of keeping.  A few weeks ago, in a cleaning and clearing out project I undertook, I handled every book on the shelves in our library.  I rearranged the shelves to make more space and resolved to put fewer books back after I cleaned the shelves.  That is alwas a difficult thing for me.  As I said in the beginning, I am a book keeper!

Apparently, Mother was a keeper of books as well because I still have several of my childhood books in addition to books that belonged to her and her brothers nearly 100 years ago.  The bindings are frayed, the colors faded, and the pages yellowed, but oh my, what a rich legacy these are!  Not because they are valuable in terms of dollars, but because they tell a story far beyond the printed words on their pages. 


Beyond the edges of the pages in these children's books is a narrative of family choices and values that is dear to me.  Neither my grandparents nor my parents were well educated or wealthy. "Times were hard." is an expression I heard often when they spoke of past years.  The fact that books were important speaks volumes about family standards and values. I cannot hold these books and finger their fragile pages without thinking of being read to when I was little, and remembering that my mother had the same advantage.  It was natural that reading to my own children was always one of my favorite things to do.  It is sweet to see that tradition carried on as my sons have their own little ones who share bedtime prayers and bedtime stories.  


So these books won't go back on the shelf, at least not my shelf.  I will offer them to my children who can decide if they want to be book keepers.  In this age of going paperless and storing everything digitally, there are some things that can't be saved in a document or picture file.  There are still stories that defy having The End on the last page.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Letters

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.

www.stonesandfeathers.wordpress.com
www.kitchenkeepers.wordpress.com
www.mappingsforthismorning.blogspot.com

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Books and Lobster Shells!


“Books... are like lobster shells, we surround ourselves with 'em, then we grow out of 'em and leave 'em behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development.”
Dorothy L. Sayers
With a nod to Sayers' wit, I confess I have the surrounding myself with books thing down.  That has never been a problem.  I do seem to trip over growing out of them and definitely have a problem with leaving them behind!  In an effort to balance this, plus reducing the load on library shelves and most other flat surfaces in the house,  I have been sorting books to leave behind.  I have donated books to the local library,  put out books for Purple Heart pickup, and am practicing giving books away rather than loaning them – in particular, cookbooks!  I confess this has barely made a dent in the book population here.
The problem for me is, a book doesn't just become a temporary acquisition or a brief part of me.  Not that the occasional book doesn't merit tossing after a single read – but there are those volumes I read that intrigue or entertain or illumine, that somehow stay with me as a changed piece of my heart.  Even the little yellowed children's books that I show my grandchildren saying, “this storybook was mine when I was a little girl,”  are me, like my brown eyes and freckles.  Many books in my library become part of me in different ways when I reread them in later years. I know I need to shed alot more shells, er..books.


Yes, I will still work on leaving behind the outgrown lobster shells.  But I will keep and treasure the books that have grown with me which I do not outgrow.  When I no longer need them, perhaps my granddaughters will pick them up and say “this book was Granmary's”.   In the meantime, I think this is a good afternoon to finish Frances Mayes' Every Day in Tuscany - a trip to Italy this afternoon- and still be back to make dinner!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Roses for Your Birthday

Another family birthday comes into view while we are still basking in the glow of last week's celebration for Maddie.  One hundred twenty-five years ago on March 15, 1887, a baby girl given the name Mary Clyde Curley was born to a 34 year old  French immigrant whose husband died during the pregnancy.  This baby was the youngest of 9 living children born to Ernestine, who had buried a child in addition to two husbands, both of whom died before seeing their last child. 

Clyde, as the baby was called, was born into adversity and affliction of circumstance.  But she was also born into a close family circle as her mother moved back home to relatives.  I don't know much about her childhood, but I do know she loved her siblings dearly and spoke of them often.  In 1904 she married Hezekiah Peyton Terrell and gave birth to 3 sons and a daughter.  Opal, her daughter, was my mother.  I became Clyde and Ky's first grandchild.

Clyde Terrell mourned the death of her oldest son, Vinnon, due to a hunting accident on Christmas Day in 1922.  She never drove a car, never lived in a house with indoor plumbing until she was nearly 80.  She raised her family on a farm in Smith County, Texas, drew water from a well, washed the family laundry in an iron wash pot set over a fire in the yard, and hung the clothes on a line outside to dry after which she ironed them with a flatiron kept hot on the wood stove.  She planted morning glories and old maids,  kept a garden for vegetables,  milked a cow, hung slaughtered meat in a smokehouse, and kept chickens for eggs as well as wringing their necks for Sunday dinner for the preacher.  She put up berries and peaches along with peas and green beans in mason jars with sealed lids and baked pies and tea cakes. She lived by "use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without!"  Therefore, she sewed her own clothing, replaced buttons, turned collars and cuffs on Papa's shirts, and made patchwork quilts with what was left.  She was an adept seamstress, adding embellishments of crochet, tatting, hemstitching, and cutwork to aprons,  pillowcases and tea towels.

I remember being folded into her soft, sweet embrace and never felt more loved.  I remember drinking cold well water from a dipper, picking berries with her, and stubbing my toe on the red dirt road when we walked to the mailbox.  I remember that she welcomed folks to her door and to her table, the same one that my own family gathered around for lunch after church today.  However, she always put a clean white tablecloth on top, and when anything was blooming, a jar of flowers on the table. Whether we were eating fried chicken or cornbread, biscuits or berry cobbler, the food was always delicious and warm and her welcome even moreso.

But most of all I remember her deep faith in and love of God.  She knew God loved her and trusted him unfalteringly. She was a woman of prayer.  She didn't just go to church, it was a part of her and she was a part of the people and their worship and service.  Her pastor and his wife were her best friends.  I loved going to church with her because she loved it so much.  She had tragedies.  She did not have what most would call an easy life.  But she lived in gratitude and praise for the blessings she had. 

Grandma died one month before her 90th birthday in 1977.  I still miss her. This morning just as dawn was arriving, I went out into our garden and picked these yellow roses in her honor.  She had an old  rose bush near the front window of their house at the top of the red dirt road. She often brought bouquets of the blooms in for her table.  They were golden yellow.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tea Time

This sweet green teapot was originally used to serve hot tea to diners at Cameron's cafeteria in Tyler, Texas where my mother and father both worked when they married in 1931.  These days it is more often used to hold a couple of cut roses from my garden, but I like it best sitting on my counter, reminding me of my parents, their willingness to work at building a marriage and life (I believe Daddy made $1.50 a week when they got married), and the fact that they kept the little teapot even though the enamel inside is chipped and rusted.  I like the grace of the handle and the spout and the way the lid tips back on a tiny hinge. My shiny red electric teakettle and our Flavia machine which can produce a cup of lemon or peppermint tea in no time with little fuss and bother are convenient and useful, but I doubt either will be around in over 80 years for someone to photograph and write about.  Somehow, I think this one will. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Little Golden Book Story of Christmas With Its Own Advent Calendar

                                                The Little Golden Book Advent Calendar




One window at a time, our sons opened the view to Bethlehem,

from the Little Golden Book Story of Christmas with its own Advent calendar

I found the book on sale in Cokesbury, downtown Dallas

displayed with all the wonderful children's Christmas books.

never knowing it would become a treasured vehicle

for keeping Christmas as three boys grew strong and tall



In the beginning a story was read from the book and they took turns (reluctantly)

opening windows, naming what could then be seen

Years passed, they read their own story.

How did those little cardboard windows last?

They were not always opened slowly or gently!



First page, first image –sad swirls of darkness, clouds

As windows and story opened more -

angel, donkey, closed door, open stable,

cow, shepherds, sheep, one star

kings, camels, presents

Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus



Tiny windows in Bethlehem, opening one by one

counting down the days to Christmas.

telling hope and mystery and miracle

singing He is coming, He has come.

Story not finished but beginning! Jesus, born once more

entering our world bringing light and life.



Christmas does not come all at once.

One window at a time, we open our eyes to Bethlehem.

One step more and we are home.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Apron Strings

As I browse catalogs from my favorite kitchen stores (Sur le Tables and Williams Sonoma) I am noticing the appearance of items that would make my mother proud.  Aprons!  Ruffled, pocketed, colorful aprons .  Some have bibs and tie at the top as well as the waist.  Some are cute little hostess aprons like the one above.  These are way different from the chef style aprons that never went completely away, especially for barbecueing.  In fact, they are replicas of the vintage aprons collected by some which were always worn by women in the kitchen in generations before mine.  I have aprons that were sewn by and worn by my mother and grandmother.  Both women would be shocked at buying one, particularly at the prices at which they are advertised.  After all, they made theirs out of leftover fabric from other sewing. 

I like looking at all those pretty aprons.  But I don't want one of them.  I am happy to pull on the soft bits of history on the hook in my pantry.   I am after all, tied to my mother's apron strings.
                                                  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rescued

In 1982, our family lived for a time in a three story Victorian house with halls and nooks and crannies as well as rooms that swallowed the furniture we brought with us when we moved from a suburban home back to the small town where both Joe and I grew up.  Living there and working on the home's restoration was both fascinating and flabbergasting.  Part of the hard work and happy times we had there was giving myself an occasional afternoon for prowling in second hand and junk shops for pieces to restore and use in the house.  One day I found this rocker stuck in the middle of a pile of discarded tables and chairs.  The fanciful curlicues and swirls drew me to look closer at the wicker weaving on the back of the chair but when I looked down I saw straight through.  There was no seat, only some tattered strips of rotting burlap hanging to the frame by the tenacity of dozens of tiny rusted nails.  A few pieces of trim curls were missing, the color was best described as dirty, and mud dauber nests clung to the underside of the arms. I believe the shop owner laughed as he watched me load the chair into my truck as he stuffed the $20 bill he had required as payment into his pocket!

My youngest son, Ben, was game to help me pry out over 200 nails from the seat of the chair and scrub it down to get rid of the insect homes and cobwebs. I had never done caning, but   I ordered a piece of cane webbing, spline, chisels and glue which cost more than the chair had.  We soaked the webbing,  pounded the spline into the groove of the shaped seat and watched in amazement as it all dried and began to tighten to make a new seat.  We got more white paint on us than on the chair, but began to feel a sense of pride as this beautiful Victorian rocker emerged to take its place in our new old home.  When I rock a grandchild in it or tuck a pillow in its seat, I still have a sense of all the stories it could tell me.  One story would be that of a rescue.

                                                        

Monday, August 8, 2011

Glimmers from the Past

I was recently asked what country or regions my birth family came from.  I have some answers and alot of blanks!

I only wish had early known the questions I now have and asked them while those who might have answered were still alive! There are, however, glimmers from the past, and some apparently accurate passing down of ancestral origin. I was born to Opal Terrell Teal and Howard Teal in Tyler, Texas in 1940. My father's mother, Ida Mayfield Teal,  took care of her parents until their death, and only then married, "late in life" was the phrase I always heard. My father, the oldest of 4 children was born when she was 41. I know very little about her background save that she drilled a hole in a memorial coin (given to her father William Mayfield in the Spanish-American war) put the coin on a string for her babies to teeth on! Her husband, my paternal grandfather was a stout man, deaf as a post, red faced and according to family story, Irish, and Protestant.


The information about my maternal grandparents is definitely more detailed and full of stories. I have an ancestral chart which shows my maternal grandfather's maternal line back to the Mayflower and beyond to England and Scotland. I have heard many stories about my Methodist Great Grandfather, John Wesley Terrell. He was an East Texas farmer with a large family, but he was known for generosity.


My maternal grandmother was born to Ernestine Matilde Augier Curley, who was born in Marseilles, France, and  immigrated from southern France with her parents, Bienvenue Pascal Augier and wife Clara Orthinet to a southern Parish in Louisiana when she was a child. Their Catholic past is evident from a small holy water font that was passed down and currently rests in my china cabinet. Just yesterday I was sorting through the stacks of family papers and memorabilia. I can only do this in intervals, a little at a time. Partly because I feel a deep connection to all these letters and kept things and feel a heaviness of decision making as I sift through. I think "if my grandmother and my great grandmother kept these things, who am I to decide they are or are not worth keeping?" I am approaching my 71st birthday and have been avoiding all these boxes and stacks for one reason or another for far too long. I need to organize, pass on what is meaningful, and store in the most efficient way what needs to be kept for the time being. But lest I sound resentful, let me say there is great honor in being the designated keeper of these things, and there is story in nearly everything I touch. Yesterday I unfolded a long piece of delicate handmade lace from the box I marked "Great Grandmother Curley's Things" many years ago. It was probably used as a covering for a library table or dresser. I haven't yet made myself put it away. Touching it evokes a world of question. Did she make this lace, or did her own mother, who would have been my French great great grandmother? As I think these thoughts, I know I will wait until my granddaughters are here so that I can show it to them. Think about it....holding something that your great great great grandmother loved and used.


When they are ready, I will tell how this grandmother lived through a traumatic period in her adopted country's history: the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Spanish-American War, World War 1, and Hitler's invasion of Europe. How during this time, she birthed 10 children by 2 husbands, neither of whom lived to see all their children born. A story is told that her second husband, James Curley, (my great grandfather) was later found to be a fugitive from justice, but no word of what he had done to claim that status. They were married only 5 years, but 3 babies were born during that time, including twins one of whom was still born. My grandmother, Mary Clyde Curley Terrell, was born shortly after his death. When Grandma Curley could no longer live alone, she lived with my grandmother and her family, but she was present at the birth of every grandchild.  With 10 children, that is alot of grandchildren!


"Grandma, I look at your picture. You look so stern and strong. I know that you loved to crochet and do fine needlework because I have boxes of intricately patterned crochet and lace pieces that you used for "go-bys". Even though you died when I was 3 months old, I was told that you rocked me and held me and loved me.  I see in my own granddaughters some of your independence and ability to endure. You modeled faith and faithfulness. They have a deeply rich legacy."


I am indebted to my cousin, Jane Hill Pirtle, for much of the information here. She included this in a story about her own grandmothers published in Filtered Images, women Remembering Their Grandmothers.