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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Traveling Trunk

This traveling trunk came from my Teal grandparent's home, although when I first met it, the trunk had been passed down to their youngest daughter, Lela.  Almost 50 years ago, she saw some work I had done on a smaller trunk that had been given to me and asked me if I could "make hers pretty." The trunk was already travel worn and weary by then so that was a tall order for someone who knew little about working with the rusted metal corners.  Antiquing was in vogue then so she wanted me to antique the trunk with a base color of pink!  Cringing a bit at her color choice, I agreed to work on it.  Years passed, and Lela died.  Since her only son was stillborn and no one else wanted it, the trunk escaped being thrown away and came to me. That was early 1994.  Our family had just returned from living in Indonesia, moved to the Houston area, and started a business.  We had 3 grown sons and a very busy family life. The trunk sat for many years.

Now our sons are married, we have 5 granddaughters, and another grandbaby on the way. We are selling this house to move to one we have bought to share with our youngest son and his family. In the process of cleaning and clearing, we have passed on or given away many family things that have stories.  The trunk is big and in ill repair, and at first, no one wanted to take it home with them.  But this week, it will go to our oldest son who is a very talented artist and craftsman.  If anyone can make this old trunk look like the treasure it is, he can.  Because it is a treasure. There are so many stories it could tell.

 I can wish that I had paid enough attention years ago to ask the questions I now have. Questions such as "who was the original owner of the trunk?"  It could have belonged to either of my grandparents because of the times in which they lived.  Thomas Jefferson Teal was born in 1877.  Ida Mayfield Teal was 7 years older, born in 1870, making their young adult years the time when this barrel stave type trunk became popular for traveling. But it could also have belonged to their families.  I know very little about these ancestors. So it is too late to ask the questions.  I can only know that the trunk may look empty but that it carries a world of stories inside.

I can't wait to see what it looks like after my son imagines the stories.

Friday, April 22, 2016


It is no secret that our garden has been a delight for us here in the place we have lived for 11 years. The sign in our front yard announces we are choosing to pass on the care and enjoyment of this back yard to the family that will live here very soon. There is an important word in that last sentence:  "choosing."  We have made this decision after prayerful deliberation and feel that it is the right thing for us to do.  Of course, we will miss many things about this home and garden, but we are excited about our move, knowing that it will be a new place and a different landscape.
 Yes, it is very different!  That is exciting, too, knowing we can choose the fruit trees and roses and garden spot and once again make it "ours."  The most exciting part of these choices is that our youngest son Ben and his wife and 2-year-old daughter share them with us. To see Nora running in the grass with the wind blowing wisps of hair across her happy face has already made this place feel like home!  The work of moving and putting two households into place is not over, but we are thankful for helping hands and plenty of hugs.  The joy of journey as a family!  The satisfaction of homework, in the deepest sense!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Home: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

These blossoms perch all over a bush given to me by my friend Debbie Andrews.  The occasion was the timing of our move into the home we have loved since 2005 and Debbie's move away from this area to Louisiana. The plant is called Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow because the petals open colored in a pale shade of lavender, changing daily to darker shades of purple. It is blooming right now, reminding me of friendships that last through changing time, and also of the way the place of our home can change.  Two days ago a for sale sign went up in our front yard. We have planned this change and prepared for it for months, but somehow the sign says "this is real, this is happening now."

I think of all our jobs and moves and the places we have made our home in the 52 plus years of our marriage.  We have lived in Oklahoma, East Texas, Oregon, Indonesia, Thousand Oaks, near Los Angeles, California,  all 3 major cities in Texas (Dallas, San Antonio, and Houston) and smaller towns surrounding those metropolitan areas (Missouri City, Kirby, Sugar Land, Plano).  We have had small houses and larger ones, small gardens and larger ones.  Although some places may have been
more familiar to us than others, in every place we made a home.  The presence of our family and the ways we lived and loved each other there made each place a home no matter what the neighborhood looked like.  We found friends and neighbors, churches where we could worship and serve, grew gardens and and gathered around kitchen tables as our family grew and changed.

After many years of moving frequently, we came to Sugar Land and although we have moved once during the time, we have rooted here.  For 24 years we have loved being part of this community.  Now we move again, not too far away (still in Fort Bend County) and because we have been in this area for so long, we already have a number of friends in our new area. We are still near our church. We will miss this home and our garden, but we look forward to planting a garden as we make our home in a very different place. We are excited to share our new place with our youngest son, his wife, and our 2-year-old granddaughter.  I am thankful for all the homes of yesterday, for this time in this home today, and for all our tomorrows in our new home.

I include a link to a post in one of my other blogs: Transplanting

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Things Remembered

We have, with a good deal of help from others, cleared out, cleaned out, and spit-shined our home so that it is ready to be listed for sale next week.  There are a few things we need to finish cleaning - the garage shelves, refrigerator, the brick on the front porch.  We still need to clear some of the plants in back that are in pots which we will take with us to help start a new garden. But the walls are bare of our many family pictures, drawers have been emptied and cleaned, counters polished - all to make our house welcoming and at the same time, a clean slate for others to envision ways in which they can make it their home. My 2 oldest granddaughters came today to help for awhile and were taken aback at the change.

When I was sorting out saved stuff in my closet, I came across several items loosely wrapped in a piece of tissue paper, itself saved from a long ago gift. I held the bits and pieces in my hand and realized they made a collage, a portrayal of my emotions and mixed feelings about leaving this home and this part of my life. There were pieces of a lovely painted glass globe a friend gave us many years ago that was a tiny painting of the lovely old East Texas Victorian house we bought and moved to for a far too short time. During the months we were there, I researched and wrote the history of the place, submitted it to the historical society, and received a State historical marker - not for me, for the house. In a later time, the pretty piece was knocked from its stand, leaving only shattered pieces which I kept.

There were some pieces of filigree silver jewelry from our time in Indonesia, all tarnished and worn. There was a tiny safety pin with beads strung on it, one of the many "friendship pins" that our youngest son and his friend exchanged in first grade, when we lived in yet another place.  And there was a piece of foil where that same son had written "To Mom, Love Ben."   I do not remember what it was attached to, but I kept the crumpled paper with his writing during his college days.  All these were folded in the wrinkled tissue printed with the name of shop where it was used to wrap a purchase:  Things Remembered.  I decided I would keep my little packet but I really do not need these reminders.  They are indeed, "Things Remembered."

Saturday, April 2, 2016

April and Poetry

In these first days of April, I am thankful for the reminder that it is National Poetry month as well as National Poetry Writing month.  It has been a good time to pick up a book of favorite poems and spend some unhurried time enjoying it.   Once, I  took an online poetry course in which I learned more about writing the Japanese poetry form, haiku, as well as its related forms.  I signed up for the course thinking I needed to learn more about using fewer words (OK, I hear laughing from somewhere!)and because I wanted to understand this form of poetry better.  I enjoyed it so much that I am still scribbling haiku on napkins and the back of my grocery lists!  Here are a few. I like photographing an image, then writing about it. Most of my poetry now is posted on my other blog,  I invite you to join me there as well.

pomegranate flower heavy
with one rain drop
 promise of scarlet fruit

 forgotten October pumpkin

 collapses in decay

green sprouts inside

wind troubles pond
ripples widen
orange fish swim away

dusty windshield
 heavy raindrops
muddy rivulets chase each other

bees gather
lemon blossom bobs,
wafting fragrant promise of bounty

In honor of this season of Spring and Easter, why not try a new beginning and write a poem?  If you don't want to write, then explore the writing of a new poet, or an old familiar one. The last few years,  I have come to love the poetry of Mary Oliver, Ann Weems, and Luci Shaw.  

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter 2016

Nora competed with the best in her age group for egg gathering this morning, her first egg hunt to enjoy since she was barely 1 year old last year. Our church in Richmond, Texas has a prayer garden centered on one of the oldest and biggest oak trees in South Texas. Our early service for Easter is always in the garden, weather permitting and today's weather was beautiful.  After that service, which is very much geared to children, we gather across the street for breakfast of egg casseroles, fruit, cereal, donut holes and families who have not seen each other for a long time catching up.  This is followed by the egg hunt, with older and younger children hunting in separate areas, and then we all go to a 10:00 a.m. Easter service that celebrates the resurrection of Christ. We have been part of this congregation for 24 years, and we always look forward with anticipation to the parts of this schedule that are the same and we always experience something new in the worship led by our pastor and music ministry.

Nora holds a basket that is a small picture of this old and familiar coupled with new experience.  She is carrying her happily retrieved eggs in the Easter basket that was mine when I was her age! Something that was loved and passed down and kept. Our Easter traditions are a bigger picture of that for me, and of course so much more important.  I am grateful for old stories and new ones, and most of all for the most powerful gift and story of all time, of Jesus' life and death and resurrection.

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