Friday, January 19, 2018
Today, January 13, 2018, is a milestone birthday for our oldest son, a milestone for me too, that of the birth of my first child. I remember so well that cold morning in San Antonio when I was wakened in the early morning hours to realize this baby was on the way 2 weeks earlier than expected.
It is strange to me to consider the moments that stand out clearly - the way we closed the front door at 5139 Happiness Lane and stopped on the porch long enough for Joe to take a picture of me, grinning and wearing an ill fitting gray coat I had sewn for myself that winter. The front of the coat would no longer button. I remember the lining - jewel toned paisley, and the buttons - embossed antique silver. But I do not remember the drive, or what we said to each other although I can imagine our excited conversation. I do not remember going up to the 23rd floor of the Nix Hospital on the Riverwalk in San Antonio. After I was checked into a room, I was given Demerol and Scopolamine, a common practice in those days. So even though I had expressed a desire to be awake and aware for birthing, I remember nothing of the special moments mid afternoon when I gave birth. I do remember Joe telling me that we had a beautiful baby boy. Unlike today, when most couples know gender early, he announced that when he arrived. I remember the view from the end of the hall when I was allowed to walk there in the next days. The window looked out on the construction site of the World's Fair held in San Antonio beginning April 6 that year.
I remember the pride and joy we shared the day we brought our tiny baby boy home. And I remember the small nursery across from our bedroom. We bought a used crib and painted it creamy white. The only new furniture was a rocking chair my parents bought. It came unpainted; we painted it to match the crib. I made sheer yellow curtains and we hung a musical mobil over the crib which had a red rabbit among other animals. Sean loved that red rabbit!
Today, he is a fine man with a gray beard! He is a loving husband and father, brother and uncle. Little did I know pride and joy would multiply through the years, but they have. He is a man of integrity and honor and has weathered life storms with dignity. He works hard, reads, speaks Norwegian, and is a fine cook and gardener. Last night we gathered for a family meal and a loud Happy Birthday song from all of us. Happy Birthday, Sean!
Saturday, July 22, 2017
One morning a few days ago, a writing friend who posts thoughtfully on FaceBook, posted the simple question, "What is the coolest thing you have ever done?"
I do not often enter threads of conversation like this, but this one so intrigued me as I read some of the comments that I quickly typed in one of my own, without considering more than a few seconds.
So many...birthing 3 sons! Sitting in front of a peat fire in Ireland with a cat in my lap while the innkeeper told ghost stories, watching butterfly caterpillars munch on dill with my 3 yr granddaughter this morning.
The answers kept coming, but more than that, I started thinking. Not constantly, but an all day, in and out kind of musing - not unlike the repeating melody when an old song is mentioned and you can't get it off your mind. Others were returning to the question as well, adding another cool thing they remembered. I kept returning to scene after scene in my mind, but the next thought I posted referred to times I have been allowed to play musical instruments I would never have dreamed I would see or touch.
Played the organ in Gereja Immanuel, the oldest church in Jakarta, Indonesia. Played the piano in Shipman House B&B, Hilo, Hawaii which was once played by the last Queen of Hawaii.
Played the organ in Gereja Immanuel, the oldest church in Jakarta, Indonesia. Played the piano in Shipman House B&B, Hilo, Hawaii which was once played by the last Queen of Hawaii.
There are a great many ways I could have responded. Some of them are constants, so much with me that I do not single them out. Years of growing into the certainty of God's love and faithfulness. Loving and staying married to Joe for almost 54 years. Moving 21 times in the first 28 years of our marriage, and making it home every time. Knowing by heart the stories of my ancestry, and the legacy of faith and love modeled for me since I was born. Surviving a massive postpartal hemorrhage that nearly claimed my life when my first son was one week old. Being witness to the courage and determination of our youngest son as he lost his vision. Added to the births of our own children, being part of the birth experiences of grandchildren. Being gifted with corneas from people I will never know for transplants that restored my vision.
Flying as a passenger in a jet plane piloted by my son. Admiring the homework, the family buiding of our sons and our daughters -in-law. Living in Jakarta, Indonesia for 4 1/2 years, learning a language I had never heard before, hearing the sounds of mosques and gongs and cik -caks and street vendors. Traveling. Riding a speedboat across Lake Toba to the island within an island on Sumatra. Having a Singapore Sling in Raffles Hotel in Singapore, watching my sons and husband para-sail on the beach in Bali, climbing the steps at Borobudur, staying in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia, visiting the Golden Bhudda in Thailand, riding a funicular railway in the Alps, hearing an organ concert in Notres Dame Cathedral, eating at sidewalk cafes in Paris, eating scones at Shore Cottage Tearoom in the Scottish Highlands, Seeing Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables in London.
Falling in love with poetry. Learning to pay attention, be astonished, and tell about it. Learning to write it myself. Finding the sacred ordinary.
I wonder if "cool" means awesome, profound, or life-changing, or just interesting and unusual. I will probably keep remembering cool things. And feeling grateful for all of them.
Thursday, June 15, 2017
This grand old building was the Liberty Hotel, in Jacksonville, Texas. I have in the years since, stayed in many fine hotels all over the world, but this is the first hotel I remember. It is part of the memory pictures of my childhood, not for the occasions I attended there (although I did go to a tea there my senior year in HS where I wore a suit and wide-brimmed hat!) but because my family ran a diner style cafe in the building across the alley. That building contained the bus station and the Bus Station Cafe, owned and operated by my parents, Howard and Opal Teal. Daddy had a reputation for being a great cook, and I understand people still talk about his chicken fried steak and hot rolls. My first "job" was there when I was 12 years old! I loved greeting customers like Daddy did and taking their orders.
It burned in 1973.The bell from the hotel is currently on display at the Vanishing Texana Museum. The Holcomb Candy Company was nearby. We used to go by there when we came home for visits so we could buy sacks of broken peanut patties and peanut brittle!
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Proud parents of the groom. Ben and Kristen's wedding 2008
Historical John Wesley Love home in Jacksonville, our home 1981-1982
Retirement for Joe after 52 years in the oil industry
Recipe box Joe made for me our first Christmas 1964, Corvallis, Oregon
Our 3 little boys and their Gingerbread House 1973
Reminders of our life in Jakarta, Indonesia (at my talk to the children at Shady Oak Christian School)
Angel and Bella
Our antique rose in the garden on Greenhaven. Getting ready to plant some here.
Tickets from so many performances, games, concerts.
Our wedding group. December 28, 1963
Our mission statement for our Sugar Land house, working on one for our home with B&K in Richmond.
Homeward Bound. A magnolia leaf.
Joe and me as Jacob and Rachel, innkeepers for so many years in Experiencing Christmas, FBC Richmond.
Snowflakes we cut for our first Christmas tree in Oregon.
So many happy times in the porch swing together and with our granddaughters.
Today, many lovely weddings are planned at least a year in advance, with many decisions and projects involved. The stress, as well as the cost, can rise to uncomfortable levels. Someone asked me just this week about the issues involved with having a Christmastime wedding, with so many other things on the calendar, and subsequent years when the anniversary might be eclipsed in all the Christmas celebration. It is true, our anniversary falls 3 days after Christmas and our celebrations have not been lavish (other than the beautiful 50th-anniversary dinner given to us by our family) - but I would not change anything. I love Christmas - the meaning, the music, the colors, the family gathering. That translates so very well into the marriage celebration. We decided to have our wedding in October, only a little over 2 months before it happened! We chose to keep costs to a minimum and meaning to maximum. I made my wedding gown, sewing in between studying for nursing finals, and bringing the last pearls to sew on the lace train for Mother to help. I laugh when I tell you I crafted my pillbox (a la Jacquelyn Kennedy) hat that held my veil from the end of an Oatmeal box, covered in satin and pearls and made a puffy muff to hold my small bouquet. Bridesmaids wore cranberry faille coat dresses with white organdy collars and carried a single candle with a tiny nosegay of white flowers. We used a bank of green magnolia leaves from a wedding held the day before instead of flower arrangements in the church, and our reception was in the fellowship hall where punch, cake, nuts, and buttermints were on the table. We had no honeymoon, choosing instead to drive back to Oklahoma City in a snow storm the day after a night in a motel in Dallas. We had school for me and a job hunt for Joe to get back to. And it was thrilling and wonderful and the most beautiful time and place and way to get married.
Yes, it makes me smile to think of the beginning, but oh, the memories all through these years. This is what makes me weep and smile at the same time. The years have brought so much happiness and fullness. Faith, yes. fLove, yes. Friendship, yes. Hard work, yes. Sad times, yes. Laughter, oh yes. Three of the finest sons any parents could possibly have. And now the women they chose who are our daughters. Grandchildren, and more love. Pride, yes. Loss, yes. Stretching, yes. Tragedy and pain, yes, that too. Perseverance, without doubt. Glorious joy, yes. Contentment, yes. Illness, yes. Hope, then, and now.
I chose a few random photos that are markers for me of a life and work together, of love.
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Remarkable, since he and his wife delivered it to me in a taxi. Remarkable because I had no grandchildren at that time. Maybe I anticipated the sweet fact that I would eventually have 5 granddaughters.
This was never a house for grownups to have fun decorating. It was to play with, to imagine with, to wonder at. And the little girls growing up in our family plus a number of visiting children have done just that. I love that, and I was very fond of this doll house. I will remain so, since it was relocated to my oldest son and his wife's garage. Fitting, because many years after our family left the original house, it became a place for celebrations and they were married in the front parlor of the house we loved and lived in for a short time. In fact, the room where my son's bride dressed was his bedroom when he was 13! I hope that they will enjoy having it to help tell their story as someday they become grandparents themselves.
Another exercise in letting go and holding on! Another way to tell our story.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
My kids don't believe me, but I really am working on this. When I was growing up, I would hear the mantra "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." I come from a long line of savers. Not hoarders, not junkies, not even collectors, but just good hard working folks who saved bits of string in a ball, scraps of fabric for quilts, and always leftovers from supper! Mind you, this same mindset is now sometimes called repurposing, because many times, these saved things do get used. But it also leads to too many kept things that take up too much room and are not useful again. Ever. I am determined to simplify our home and what is in it. One small box or drawer at a time. What of these things is hardest for you to donate or throw away? Comments? Anyone want to join me in this effort?
My next post will offer some of the ways I have shared or donated. I truly do not like throwing away!
The following list comes from the blog linked here. Many thanks!
1. Old product boxes (Apple products, TV, etc.)
2. Hangers from the dry cleaners
3. Plastic hangers from the store
4. Expired make up
5. Half-finished projects…you know the one!
7. Old emery boards (buy a nice glass one and be done with those scratchy things!)
8. Old paint (Visit Earth911.com to find a place to dispose of it safely)
9. Ugly undergarments you hate to wear (You have those “just in case” pairs too, right?)
10. Bills, taxes, paperwork over 7 years old
11. Socks with holes or without mates…also those lonely socks that have holes too.
12. Extra cups and mugs – How many does your family use in a regular dishwasher load? Add a few more for company and be done with the rest.
13. Books you’ve never read or will never read again
14. Old technology (8 tracks, floppy discs, VHS tapes w/o a player, etc.)
15. Unloved toys
16.Cleaning rags – You only need a few before you’ll wash them again, right?
17. Tea light candles – Use them or lose them.
18. Take out menus you never look at
19. Old greeting cards (Save the super sentimental ones and recycle the rest)
20. Outdated over the counter drugs and vitamins
21. Old sneakers (Recycle through Nike)
22. Plastic cutlery
23. Old spices – Spices don’t actually spoil but they lose their potency. A good rule of thumb is 1-2 years for seasoning; 1-3 for herbs and ground spices; and up to 4 years for whole spices.
24. Duplicate power cords (USB, etc. We have 3 vTech ones for the kiddos’ toys but only need one)
25. Bobby pins
26. Games with missing pieces
27. Dried up nail polish bottles
28. Video games you’ll never play again
29. Recalled baby items (carseats, cribs, etc.)
30. Jewelry you don’t wear
31. Expired food in your freezer/pantry
32. Rugs or home decor you haven’t used since you redecorated
33. Unused perfumes and cologne
34. Old towels that make you cringe when you look at them
35. Extension cords (Am I the only one who has a bazillion of these?)
36. Extra sets of bed linens – two per bed tops
37. Unused plastic containers – especially those without a lid and those old plastic containers. Avoid containers with recycle codes 3 or 7 as they may contain BPA.
38. Old bills (Switch to online banking and stop the clutter before it comes in your home)
39. Paychecks older than 2 years
40. Stretched out hair ties
41. Matches you never use (Maybe save a few in case of a power outage)
42. Old newspapers
43. Expired Rx meds (Visit fda.gov for proper ways to dispose of them)
44. Extra pillows
45. Ticket stubs (Sentimental like myself? Store in a scrapbook or fill a mug with old stubs)
46. Make up you’ll try “one day” If you’ve owned if for more than 2 weeks without trying it, toss it.
47. Clothes that are more than 2 sizes too small. Don’t give up on your weight loss dream but WHEN you do lose that weight go and buy new clothes to reward yourself.
48. Things you’ve bought have haven’t returned yet (Return them, sell, or donate them)
49. White-out bottles – You know you don’t need it!
50. Unneeded notebooks
51. Pens and pencils – Keep your favorites and let go of the rest
52. Little shampoo bottles from a hotel you went to 5 years ago
53. Knick knacks that don’t make you smile every time you see them
54. Cords that don’t belong to anything you currently own
55. Lose screws, nuts, bolts, etc. unless you happen to be a handy man who would actually reuse them one day
56. Kid’s old art projects (I have an upcoming post with loads of ideas on this so for now just set them aside)
57. Old party supplies
58. Old wedding favors (Keep a few, toss the rest)
59. Old Christmas cards of your family (Save a few, recycle the rest)
60. Holiday decor you never remember to set out (Thanksgiving turkey Aunt Sue gave you)
61. Holiday decor that you use once a year (ex. Easter deviled egg tray that collects dust 364 days of the year! Buy a lovely one that you can use for other holidays too.)
62. Cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, shampoo that you used once and didn’t like. Donate to a local shelter.
63. Flower pots. Plant a flower or toss the pot.
64. Watering cans if you don’t have flowers.
65. Too small kid’s clothing. Only save favorites if you’re saving for another child. Sell the rest while they’re still in style.
66. Extra buttons (If you don’t sew, toss them all. Reduce your supply if you will use a button in the next few months)
67. Old calendars
68. Unidentified frozen objects (Label ya’ll! Keep a Sharpie by the freezer for quick labeling)
69. Movies you’ll probably never watch again
70. Bags from the mall you might use one day (Keep only 1 if you must)
71. Multiple pair of scissors (One or two tops, right?)
72. More ear buds than you’ve got family members
73. Curling irons, crimpers (ha! flash back), or straighteners you don’t use
74. Highlighters unless you’ve used one in the past month, then save only that one
75. Travel mugs that leak, or are ugly, or that you don’t use because you have to hand wash it
76. Boxes – shoe boxes, diaper boxes, cereal boxes. Recycle and be free.
77. Samples of any kind – Use, donate, or trash.
78. Games you haven’t played in the last year
79. Tape measures – You know the rule, keep one and toss the rest.
80. Old phone covers, styluses, screen protectors, etc.
81. Misc. ribbons or string
82. Expired coupons
83. Organizers you bought to get organized that didn’t work
84. Belts that no longer fit, are worn, or are out of style
85. Duplicate kitchen utensils – Have you ever used three wisks at the same time before? Me neither.
86. Cookie cutters unless you’ve used them in the past year and foresee using them again
87. Rarely used cake pans – Our bakery supply store rents them for $2 a day. I no longer need to keep any on hand for those rare occasions I bake.
88. Old teeth whitening trays or strips. Use ’em up or toss ’em out.
89. Hard candy that you’re not sure where it came from or how long it’s been there
90. Unloved stuffed animals
91. Half used chap stick containers – Buy a new one! I LOVE my new EOS one with coconut milk.
92. Duplicate measuring cups and spoons
93. Old day planners (and current ones if you don’t use them!)
94. Candles – If it’s not lovely to look at and you’ll never burn it, let it go.
95. Mason jars (or baby food jars, spaghetti sauce jars, etc.) that you won’t use
96. Expired sunscreen
97. Staple remover – unless you can make a very compelling argument to keep yours.
98. Travel alarm clock – We have phones now.
99. Stress balls
100. Plug in air fresheners without a refill
101. Unloved dog toys
102. Extra USB flash drives – How many does one family need?
103. Promotional swag
104. Key chains you don’t use
105. Recipe books you don’t ever use
106. Push pins in the junk drawer just waiting for unsuspecting fingers
107. Keys that you don’t know what they go to
108. Lanyards, name tags, bags, etc. from previous conferences
109. Carabiners – Unless you rock climb, trust me, you won’t use them.
110. Lotions, face washes, serums that you don’t use
111. Random batteries you’re not sure where they came from
112. Multiple book marks – Unless you’re a book worm…you know what to do, toss them.
113. Combination locks – Chances are slim you’ll use one again but if you do, they’re cheap to replace.
114. Paper weights
115. Near empty bottles of bubbles or little numbs of side-walk chalk
116. Completed coloring books
117. Markers without lids and lids without markers
118. Goodie bag toys from previous birthday party celebrations
119. Empty bottles of anything
121. Old invitations
122. Travel brochures
123. Tissue paper/gift bags
124. Unused sticky notes
125. Extra shoe laces
126. Sticker’s from a precious yard sale
127. Hair products you don’t use
128. Take out chopsticks – Buy a reusable pair if you use them a lot
129. Old prescription glasses – Great donation for the Lions Club.
130. Old sunglasses – The cat eye is coming back but definitely toss those purple hued ones.
131. Worn out flip flops.
132. Magnets – Unless they are lovely or useful, discard.
133. Posters you’ll never display again
134. Excess decks of cards
135. Phone books
136. Broken Christmas lights
137. Notes/gifts from old romances
138. Hats you don’t wear or that look like you shouldn’t
139. Extra bubble wrap (or am I the only one who has a supply?)
140. Twisty ties (another one that hits close to home!)
141. Chip clips
142. Craft supplies for a project that has already been completed
143. Paper plates – Use them up!
144. Loyalty cards – use the key ring version or enter your number for even less clutter
145. Gift cards – go and enjoy them!
146. Touristy knick knacks
147. Business cards – Keep an electronic record
148. Puzzle books you don’t use
149. Old textbooks
150. Unused vases
151. Stockings with runs in them
152. Fancy serving bowls you haven’t used in the last year – Use them or sell them.
153. CDs unless you use them regularly
154. Old boombox
155. Piles of “scrap paper”
156. Purses/dufflebags/old luggage you don’t use
158. Christmas ornaments that aren’t lovely or sentimental
159. Instruments you’ve given up on mastering years ago
160. Clothes that make you feel ugly
161. Instruction manuals – Most are online now.
162. Calculators – Phones have replaced these for most people.
163. Remotes that have no purpose
164. Emergency sewing kits – I own many and have never used one even once.
165. Dry erase markers without a board and a board without markers (or both if you don’t use it!)
166. Extra pencil sharpeners – Only one is needed
167. Rusty tools you’ll never use again
168. Lawn and garden pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers you won’t use
169. Fireworks that are unused (Am I the only one?) – They can be soaked in water overnight then disposed of in a plastic bag.
170. Dried up super glue
171. Old and ugly t-shirts
172. Hair accessories you don’t use
173. One orphan earring
174. Dried flowers
175. Extra photo prints
176. Gifts you don’t love
177. Scarves you never wear
178. Damaged/stained clothing
179. Plastic children’s plates/cups that they’ve outgrown
180. Junk mail
181. Address labels – Do you ever really use them?
182. Extra folders, binders, labels, etc.
183. Old cell phones – Recycle!
184. Old fortune cookie fortunes (Someone else keeps the good ones too, don’t they?)
185. Used ink cartridges – Recycle them for a little money back
186. Use Unroll.me to rid yourself from pesky email subscriptions (It’s free but I would pay for this fabulous service!!)
187. Outdated computer software
188. Old wallets
189. Dull or duplicate pocket knives
190. Spare change lying around – Take it to the bank!
191. Unused picture frames
192. Old baby gear that you no longer need – Great donation item if you don’t want to sell it!
193. Kitchen knives no one uses
194. Old sports equipment from days gone by
195. Broken clocks
196. Coasters that go unused
197. Plants – Yes, plants that don’t brighten your spirits. Buy ones that do!
198. Hole punch you never use
199. Place mats, napkins, table cloths that never get displayed
200. Ruled notebook paper – I hate to throw it away but I never use it. Donate it!
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
This post also appears in my blog Kitchen Keepers. www.kitchenkeepers.wordpress.com
There I usually write about what is happening in my kitchen, and offer both old favorite and new family recipes. This story could so easily have gone into either blog, I decided to post in both!
Friday, September 18, 2015
Last week Joe and I drove by the first house we bought after we were married. We would have had a hard time recognizing it if we had not known for certain its location and street number. But nearly 50 years later, It appears that another family lives there now who also loves plants! I smile as I think of the difference in the big truck parked there and our little green VW in the driveway!
In 1966 we bought our first house in a suburb of Houston. The address was 11827 South Little John Circle, in a neighborhood named Fondren Park. We had the house built for around $14,000, and not only picked the elevation style, the carpet (in the living room only - forest green) and tile (vinyl mosaic) and colors in the kitchen (yellow counters and appliances!)but we drove by to visit the progress almost everyday during the time it was under construction. Our combined salary was barely $700 with Joe working at a company called Independent Exploration and my working at the Hillcroft Medical clinic. We shared rides to work in our Volkswagen.
We moved in, started gardening, mowing, and meeting neighbors like Joan and Edgar Rust (Rusty) and Amon and Lucille White. We had an inexpensive bed, chest of drawers, and dresser purchased when we moved into our apartment in Houston the year before, gladly accepted the hand me downs of a wicker love seat and rocker from Mother and Daddy, and bought an unfinished round table we lovingly sanded and stained. Chairs from Mexico completed our dining area. We reupholstered a couch and chair that had been my grandmother Terrell's. We found red fabric at a discount store and painted the wood parts black. I made a wall hanging from burlap and a square of printed linen.
Soon we felt our nest was feathered as we received the good news that we were expecting our first baby! We decided to wait to "tell" so that we could do that as a Christmas gift for our parents when we traveled home on Christmas eve. However on Christmas Eve, I had to have emergency surgery for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and spent Christmas week in the hospital.
Our friend, Pat Tarver came to stay with us for a few months while her husband was in basic training. Pat was our church secretary, in the choir with me, and my close friend. When her husband was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, we hugged her goodbye without realizing we would soon follow her. After only 10 months in our beautiful little house, Joe accepted a job in San Antonio so we quickly sold our first house, finding another home where we welcomed our beautiful baby son in 1968. There have been many homes and many good neighbors since but I still use Lucille's recipe for ginger cookies and Rusty's recipe for homemade vanilla ice cream.
When we drove into the much changed neighborhood last Friday, memories began to swirl and surface. Neighborhood potlucks, gathering friends and family around our little table. The time when I proudly put a sprig of my own garden mint in my brother in law's tea glass and he found a worm on it! Coming home without our much wanted first baby to finally open our Christmas gifts. Loving and supporting each other and learning how nice neighbors can be and how hard it is to say goodbye.
And today, looking at pictures of the house, thinking how very young we were and of all the years in between of faith and family, and our own action adventure! A few tears and plenty of laughter later, we feel so blessed.
Thursday, May 28, 2015
I am grateful. For men and women who gave their lives for our country, for the freedoms that my family and I have which are denied to many. We say thank you in many ways - one of them is by spending the time and freedom provided us in ways that honor the privilege. Maddie got it right, it is a happy Memorial Day.