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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Thanksgiving

                               Nora and the knitted lace and satin coverlet I made for her.

I  am glad we have a day called Thanksgiving. I am blessed to gather family around our table to share prayers of gratitude and a meal we have prepared together.  I am also glad to practice being grateful and saying thank you every day. As part of my early morning quiet time, I keep a gratitude journal where each day I write 5 things for which I am thankful I write down what comes to mind without editing or spending too much time trying to say it well!  This has been a year full of paying attention to God's good gifts, being astonished at beauty and blessings, and wanting to tell about it.* As I look through the pages of that journal and browse all the photos, I have chosen a few things to share with you from these days of 2014.  I chose the photo above for the way it shows being covered.  I feel covered with the love of my family and God's good grace.

I am thankful for...

my forever friend, Joe

the miracle of new life:  Nora Opal, arriving this Spring

my word for 2014: Release

healing for hurting hearts

 knitting lace that I started in 1973!

winter garden harvest - cabbages, cauliflower, and a tree full of Meyer lemons

Skye's love of cooking and being with me in the kitchen

fragrance of a single gardenia

lessons from seeds

Grandma's rocker near the fireplace

March 16:  Maddie's 8th birthday

March 19:  Nora Opal arrives!

our rose arbor in full bloom (the survivor rose, Peggy Martin)

singing songs my mother and grandmother sang to me for  Nora while I rock her

our back porch

dawn sky, peaches and spun sugar

harvesting figs

old cookbooks, heirloom recipes

morning glory blooms at my kitchen window

August 19: Jordann and her birthday doll

the warmth of copper as it catches light

handwritten thank you notes

our porch swing

glimmers from the past - old family photos

November 19:  Skye is 12!




































*this refers to my favorite quotation from the poetry of Mary Oliver:
         "Pay attention
           Be astonished
           Tell about it."

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Another November 14




Today is my 74th birthday, and I have received hugs and phone calls and cards telling me Happy Birthday. I feel loved and cherished, but mostly I feel overwhelmingly grateful for celebrating another year with those who provide these sweet greetings, and look forward as I give thanks for the days and months to come in the year ahead.  It occurs to me that I have never really had an Unhappy Birthday!  I have had birthdays celebrated in Jacksonville, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, and Plano, Texas.  But I have also celebrated my birthday in Oregon, California, Jakarta, Indonesia, and Singapore.

 On the evening of November 14, 1991, Joe was in the U.S. on business, Ben (17 at that time) and I had gone to Singapore for him to have minor surgery. He needed to stay in the hotel room and rest, so I left him for a few minutes and slipped outside to watch as the president of Singapore made a speech and flipped the switch to turn on the millions of  Christmas lights and displays that fill the shopping district of Singapore for the holidays.  It is one of the most spectacular (and completely commercial) extravanzas in the world!  I stood for a few moments, surrounded by thousands of complete strangers in a world that was bent on extreme celebration, and then quickly hurried back to my hotel room and my son, knowing then as I know even more all these years later that I feel most celebrated in the light of the love of my family.





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


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Family Reunion


Parker Ball Players

                                                                    Joe Parker


                                                        His last name is not Parker, but his first name is!




                                                               Skye Parker

The newest Parker!    Nora Opal Parker



Holding on.

Glad to be here.



How long has it been?


                                                   Joe and Mary Ann Parker and family
Michala Cantrell Parker and Maddie, Ben Parker holding Nora, Kristen Edwards Parker, Mary Ann Teal Parker, Skye Parker, Joe Parker, Teion Parker, Sean Parker. ( Not in Photo:  Jordann Parker and Lauren Jeffrey)

                                                             

gathering

 greeting

touching

storytelling

 sharing

remembering

laughter

tears

honoring those who have gone before

celebrating each other now





October 25, 2014


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Public Libraries

I am both a patron and a champion of public libraries. We now live in a county that has a wonderful library system with state of the art technology. I can open my laptop and go to the library website, search for books, place them on hold, and go by to get them from a shelf, then check them out myself with computerized scanning. If a book that I want is already checked out, I can request that I be put in the queue and notified. If I wish, I can go to this spacious, sunlit library and curl up in a comfortable armchair in one of several cozy sitting areas to read or research material I don't want to take with me. I take my granddaughters to the younger readers' section of the library and enjoy their pleasure in choosing books as well as remembering how much our public library meant to me when I was their age.

                                          The University Branch Of George Memorial Library, located in Sugar Land, Texas

I don't have photographs of that childhood library, but it was located in Jacksonville's City Park, near the spot the little gazebo occupies in this old picture. The library has changed its location, but still serves Jacksonville's citizens as well as others in Cherokee County. My memory pictures always include the dark wood floors, the racks of wooden drawers which held the card catalogs where my fingers clicked indexed cards instead of computer keys, the kind librarian who helped me find books, the smell of old books and cleaning polish, and the hush. I loved the library but I spoke in whispers there. I am grateful for that little library that supported my love for reading, for my parents, who took me there, for books that took me places beyond my imagination. I now read e-books on my iPad, listen to audio books while I am driving, cooking, and cleaning, buy books in tempting bookstores and on Amazon, but I am forever glad there are still libraries.






A photo courtesy of the Cherokee County Historical Society shows Mrs. C. A (Minnie). Childs bending to lay the first stone for the Jacksonville Public Library in 1940.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

October

I think alot about my mother in October.  October 20 is the day we always celebrated her birthday, and I still do, although in different ways, since her death just over 8 Octobers ago.  She went home (her phrase) on September 21, 2006, one day short of a month before her 93rd birthday. I miss her still, but softer, gentler memories than grief color my thoughts when I turn the calendar this month. For Mother's Day the first year after I left home, I mailed her a postcard with a poem every day for a week before. I was in college, short in funds but long on words, and prompted by a longing to let her know how much I loved her and appreciated all she did for me.  As years passed and the physical distance between us grew (as far as the almost 11 ,000 miles between East Texas and the island of Java in the late 80's), she maintained her loving encouragement with long chatty letters filled with clippings and recipes. At the end of her life, when Alzheimer's had blotted out so much of her ability to communicate, she still told me she loved me, and, fearful that she would not remember to say so, she dotted her counters and space with yellow sticky notes telling me so.

Long before that, one of her letters to me contained this folded article. Unless you have a touch screen display that allows you to enlarge,the above photo is not of the quality that allows reading of the piece by Marya Saunders that appeared in The Tyler Morning News Sunday edition May 14,1961, but you will be able to see Mother's lovely, even handwriting, telling me "I Love You Darling, and Thank God for you, Mother."  And of course her ever practical pointing out, "This was in Tyler Paper yesterday."

So I echo the author's subtitle.  Neither time nor death has stilled this message from a mother to her daughter. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Times Are Different!

Maddie and Jordann and their campfire

I love this photo our son Jeremy sent while he was camping out with his girls, who are 8 and 6 years old. They have always loved campouts, complete with tents and cooking over the fire.  But recently they began what Jeremy termed "glamping" after their family acquired a travel trailer which allows them to have most of the comforts of home (indoor shower and bathroom, beds with mattresses, and a small kitchen.)  They can enjoy being outdoors and still sleep cool and snug. 

When they were here this past weekend, Maddie invited her Papa and me to come camping with them - and they would "give us the best bed!"  I asked her if I had ever told her the story of when we camped out in a buffalo herd the first year we were married.  Her eyes got big and she said no, I had not told her that story, and she was properly shocked as we told what had happened to us.

In July, 1964, (after our December 28,1963 wedding), Joe worked as a geophysicist  on a seismic crew for Petty Geophysical. We lived that blistering hot summer in a small apartment in Duncan, Oklahoma. The crew received word of being moved to Sherman, Texas so we planned a weekend to go there to look for an apartment. We thought it would be fun to go camping at Lake Texoma, so we borrowed gear from another crew member.  On that Friday, we had air mattresses and coolers already loaded into our tiny Karman Ghia, and I had already prepared food to pack at the last minute.  At lunchtime, Joe came home and said the crew move had been delayed for several weeks. Crestfallen, we cancelled our camping plans since we couldn't afford to go find a place to live there and pay double rent for a month.

But when we were eating dinner after Joe got home that evening, we thought of a Plan B!  Lawton, OK is only a little over 30 miles from Duncan, and northwest of Lawton is Mount Scott, a prominent mountain in the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge.  Why not drive over at there instead?  So we rechecked our prepared gear and food and headed out. 

The closest I had ever come to camping was a weiner roast with my best friend's family or sleeping in a bunk bed at church camp!  So I wasn't much help other than being a good sandwich maker. Joe thought it would be a great geology field trip!  Arriving after dark, as we entered the roads leading toward campsites, I did notice warning signs for wildlife, including some cautions about buffalo, longhorn cattle, and snakes. After all, it was a wildlife refuge!  Evidently alot of other people had the same good idea about a weekend campout, because all the campsites in the common area were already occupied.  Joe drove down to a grove of trees that looked perfect, we inflated our air mattresses and enjoyed the cool breeze, so different from our apartment that had no fan or air conditioner. We left the coolers in the car, and as I walked back to the car to get water, I looked out toward Mount Scott with a full moon rising over it and smiled.  But as I stood there, I felt a twinge of uncertainty. There were what seemed to be round dark shadows moving in this landscape.  I called Joe and pointed this out, but non-plussed, he said they were "just rocks,"  Quickly, I made up my mind - whatever this was, it was moving, and moving toward us.  I told him I was getting in the car, and soon he joined me as the first large animals lumbered by. A small herd of buffalo thought our grove of trees looked inviting too!  Or maybe they were just curious and wanted to investigate our presence. I remember laughing to the point of hysteria!  If I had rolled down the car window, I could have scratched a hairy belly!  And we couldn't just drive off and leave our borrowed gear on the ground!  Joe discovered if he turned on the car's headlights, the animals moved away from the light.  So he told me to move the car back and forth and he ran for the air mattresses.  Unfortunately, inflated air mattresses do not fit well into Kharman Ghias, adding to our nervous hilarity. We drove around for an hour, but never found a spot we (mostly me) found acceptable, so we drove back to our hot apartment and finally went to bed.

Later we learned that the designated camp area was surrounded by a moat to protect campers from Buffalo visitors. We didn't stay in Duncan long enough to repeat our attempt to camp at Mount Scott, and years later when we finally did pitch a tent for a family camp out at Lake Texoma, Jeremy, who was then a small boy, had his own camping adventure when he picked up what he thought was a big ball on the trail and it turned out to be an armadillo!  

Glamping might just be OK!