Tag Archives: family history

The Saturday After the Thursday That Was and the Friday That Wasn’t

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

We wandered over to my mother’s house about noon on Thursday carrying our contribution to the feast. Both of my brothers were already there. Of my sisters one had arrived and one was running late…So far everything was normal for the day. We stood around in Mom’s small kitchen putting finishing touches on the dishes and slicing the meat while we visited back and forth. After putting the buffet on the table for everyone to help themselves, most of the kitchen staff wandered outside and continued visiting. Shortly the prodigal sister arrived with her family tow.

As the afternoon wore on the grown grandkids with wives or girlfriends, offspring or none, made their appearance. Some needing driving instructions along the way (as usual). I would say that all in all this years gathering for the thanks went better than some over the years. No one seemed to get upset, no voices were raised, no overly energetic points needed to be made. We missed those who were unable to make it, enjoyed the visit with those that did. Hopefully, we can do it all again…next year.

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The one unusual factor about this years day of thanks was the weather. It actually managed to feel like the end of November should feel. Cool not cold. The weather has managed to hang on since to. Lows in the 40’s highs in the 50′. Fall has finally blessed us here on the Texas Gulf Coast even if the view out my window this morning is almost entirely green. The oaks over the house are shedding their leaves in a slow swirl of brown while the wind is gusting out of the northeast.

The strange thing about our oaks is that until the leaves are ready to fall they don’t change colors, once the change they fall almost immediately leaving you with a still green tree until all of the leaves have fallen.

The only touch of color out my window is the splash of red down the road from the youpon holly trees/bushes in the neighbors front yard. every year at this time the bright red berries brighten the view from my kitchen window.

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I have to confess we made a trip to the wally-mart yesterday. More to check out the uncrowded parking lot than to do any real shopping. I do not think I have ever seen the parking lot at WalMart that empty on a “Black Friday” in my life. If anything says something about our economy, WalMart’s parking lot on the Friday after Thanksgiving tells you just how uncertain people are feeling.

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From our trip I offer up this shot I am extremely proud of.

From the top of Roaring Creek Road on the Side of Roan Mountain I caught a splash of sunlight running across the other side of the creek. I was amazed by the sight and amazed even more when it repeated itself a few minutes later. The series of shots I took show the light moving across this clearing twice…I hope you like it.

Midweek musings on a Wednesday evening…

As I sat reading my email and the news online this morning I had visions of reading the news not all that many years ago. Newsprint and ink stains…Reading the daily news was much more a hit or miss affair. What started this muse was reading Leon Hale’s column from today’s Houston Chronicle. As I was reading through his column today my mind had visions of sitting in my dad’s kitchen with the paper folded back to read Leon’s pieces. Pieces about sitting in a roadside park on the Devil’s Backbone on Highway 32 in Blanco County tapping out a column on his portable typewriter and watching the travelers stop for a rest. Pieces about chasing south every year to find Spring…Primavera Leon called it, his yearly trip with Old Friend Morgan. Pieces about the yearly fishing trip on the James River with a bunch of old buddies.

The mind rambling brought back memories of the summer visits to my father’s older sister and her family in a small country town out west of here. Once a week while I was visiting I would go down to the local weekly newspaper and pick up a bundle of that weeks news and wander around town hawking the important stories. If I recall correctly, I paid a nickel a paper and they sold for a dime…budding entrepreneur that I was as a preteen, I thought that was great pay for an afternoon of wandering around town…The thing I really remember though was the ink stains when my sweaty arm made the ink run as I carried my “News” about my rounds…

Which all in all made me happy to be able to read the “paper” on the screen of this electronic tablet instead of the remains of dead trees. Besides, in the days of memory I didn’t have access to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle much less the Watauga Democrat or the Floyd Press or even the El Campo Leader – News, my long ago newspaper of stained arms…

Leon Hale’s take on the heat of summer…

Leon Hale is a Houston institution. His column has been running in Houston Newspapers for as long as I’ve been around (or at least as long as I’ve been aware of being around). Today he broaches a subject near and dear to my heart…Texas summer heat.

So the other afternoon I decided it was time to do the remember-the-heat column again. I took about 10 steps out the front door, and that blast of hot air off the sidewalk hit me in the chops, and I said, “Wait a minute, I don’t need to go outside to remember what life was like without AC. I can remember it just fine sitting at my desk.” So I turned around and went back inside.

While I too, grew to adulthood here in Texas without AC, I do not see anything wrong with his sentiment.

I remember August days, long ago, when we’d roam all day in the woods and along creeks, just out there messing around, waiting for school to start. The heat was fierce, but we didn’t know what the temperature was. Could have been 102. Maybe more. Probably was.

Uncomfortable

Trouble now is, we’re not allowed to ignore the discomfort. Several times a day we’re reminded that the heat is upon us, and it’s high, and it’s bad. And if 96 isn’t hot enough for us, listen to this — it feels like 103. What’s the advantage in knowing that the air feels hotter than the thermometer reading? I’m surprised the Chamber of Commerce doesn’t complain.

When we moved into our present home the AC unit outside was of an age that I felt better about living with the vagrancies of Texas summers than firing up a relic of the 1960’s and paying the power company for the privilege. Since at the time money was tight and an upgrade wasn’t in the cards, we spent most of those early summers thanking the original owners of this old country house for planting the thirteen oaks that shade the acre around this house. We also spent much of the time outside in whatever breeze there might be with a book and a 32 oz. glass of iced tea (unsweetened of course, Pablo). Meals tended to be grilled so we didn’t heat up the house before bedtime.

Vacations in those days, when we could afford them, were spent running to the Hill Country. For the non-Texans out there, that’s the part of Texas north and west of San Antonio and Austin where the typography actually goes up and down with some regularity and the humidity is almost non existent. It is also a land of rock bottomed rivers and man-made lakes of cool water where days can be spent lazing and floating in a swimsuit for weeks on end.

There are a few State Parks in the center of this state that fill the bill and still bring on fond memories…Inks Lake and the granite massive below the Ranger Station at the entrance that was the backyard of the screened shelter we always rented. Where for hours after sunset you could lay and soak up the heat as the night cooled and the Milky Way took form across the heavens in all it glory…

The beach of Lake Whitney on a moonless night when the only family in the whole park was ours. The kids playing cards at camp while the wife and I sat and stared at infinity…

The evenings in Kerrville, above the river, just out of town at another favorite shelter with a patio below with benches and table…That’s the way to live through the Texas summer heat just like our Texas ancestors who packed up the kids during the summer and hightailed it to the same hills and rivers…

This didn’t start out as a stroll down memory lane but I thank Leon for the trigger that brought on the flood of good memories…especially the memory of the miles of damn dam jokes that broke up all the kids and had the whole car laughing until the tears flowed one summer as we drove through Texas…

Y’all stay cool…

Link: Heat is hard to forget | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

Wednesday – The end of week +2

Today’s emails contained this week’s copy of the “Weeknight Kitchen Newsletter” from The Splendid Table. I’ve been listening to Lynne Rossetto Kasper on the Splendid Table Podcast for a while now and enjoying it immensely. This week’s newsletter contained a link to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. I had heard Lynne speak of them before but never taken the time to follow the link. Today I did…I would like to recommend that if you like eating and cooking (or vice versa) seafood you do the same. Their website explains what they do like this:

What is Seafood Watch?

A program of Monterey Bay Aquarium designed to raise consumer awareness about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources. We recommend which seafood to buy or avoid, helping consumers to become advocates for environmentally friendly seafood. We’re also partners of the Seafood Choices Alliance where, along with other seafood awareness campaigns, we provide seafood purveyors with recommendations on seafood choices.

The why is just as important:

Why do seafood choices matter?
The choices we make as consumers drive the seafood market place. Your purchasing power can make a difference by supporting those fisheries and fish farms that are better for the environment, while at the same time relieving pressure on others that are not doing as well.

Some of the key problems that help us evaluate whether a fishery is sustainable include the level of bycatch observed, the fishing methods and their impact, if it is farmed—how it is farmed, and how well the fishery or aquaculture operation is managed. With nearly 75% of the world’s fisheries either fully fished or overfished, these issues are more important than ever. By using the Seafood Watch pocket guide you are making choices based on the best available information and supporting environmentally friendly fisheries and aquaculture operations.

Take a few minutes and swing over to their website. Download the printable “Seafood Watch Cards” they make available for your wallet. The cards look like a very good tool to have with you as you shop.

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Fred First informed me this morning that the summer hold on Floyd County has decided (at least temporarily) to release it’s grip. I don’t know if he was bragging or just sighing with relief as he told of having to close windows and put on a long sleeve flannel shirt. So, what was Fred musing about this morning at Fragments From Floyd? Bedbugs of course

I think I need to spend some virtual time in those cooler mountains today if only to escape the heat of the real world of SE Texas. The weather prognosticators are giving warning that rain is on the way though as a tropical depression has formed in the center of the Gulf and will be coming onshore somewhere in the next few days. The rains, they say, should start sometime this evening or overnight.

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While wandering the web yesterday I came across Susan Albert’s latest post at Lifescapes: and found her speaking directly to my heart…

There are so many new things to see here. It’s all still a mass of images. Oh, I don’t mean that I can’t see. Yes, of course I can. Rocks, massive rocks. Pine trees on the mountain, salt cedar and willow and sycamore along Manuelitas Creek, grasses and sages and wildflowers in the meadow, all very beautiful. But to see, really see, the landforms and the textures and colors, and the birds and mammals and insects, all the community of this land, of each different habitat, I need to learn more. And learning takes time, and close, daily acquaintance, just as it takes a long time to know a friend in all her various changing moods and seasons, to know her history and her wants and wishes. It’s taken me twenty years to learn just a little bit about MeadowKnoll, and about the Hill Country. A summer month in the Sangres, a month in the winter–it’s only long enough to tantalize me with possibilities.

I have felt that way about every “place” I have ever laid my head, if even for just a week or two. Even when on a business trip I can’t just go to and from, I have to explore…I have to see. If I am lucky, I’ll learn to know a little bit about the place I am in. In the end I have a need to feel a part of the place, if only for a bit. I invest every place I go with a bit of my…soul. I leave a bit of me behind. But it’s a fair trade because I take a bit of every place I have ever been with me.

I do not become as acquainted with most places as Susan alludes to in the quote. Most of the places I come to “know” do not call out for that from me…Ahhh, but the ones that do.

They call across the years. They call across the miles. They call across generations. These are the places I want the opportunity to become one with. To stand in those places and be enfolded by the life and soul of a place until it becomes you and you become it. Some people are given that gift, some people even recognize the gift they are given, most though don’t even see the trees for the forest they are living in.

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From Susan’s Blog I wandered over to The Ranchwoman where I was reminded of all of those summertime visits with my maternal grandparents.

Looking at the stars makes my mind tick.

Away from city lights, and when there’s no moon, the sky is so full of stars that I can’t fathom how the ancients imagined them into constellations. I have trouble finding them even with a chart. With less pollution, those folks could see even more stars. How’d they do that?

Even knowing that the stars I’m seeing are so far away, I look up and feel tucked in by an enormously fluffy velvet blanket. That’s because the moon, which of course is there even when it’s not visible; the planets; the meteors; are all close, relatively speaking. And even the stars I can see, though they are almost infinitely far away, are practically next door compared to the ones I can’t see.

And that leads to thoughts about life and death, space, time, infinity — all those big questions, scientific and philosophical.

Every evening after supper we would meet out by the back of the house. Everyone would claim a folding lawnchair from the backporch. We would all settle in and Grandpa would start to “inform” us about how it was when he was young. His informative expositions were usually in the form of a really tall tale. He would talk and chuckle, we would listen and roll our eyes…The sky would darken and we would start to see the stars come out.

Once the milky way became visible the game would begin…Who would see the most shooting stars? How about spotting a satellite? If the season was right, Grandma would come up with some canning jars with hole punched lids to catch lightning bugs in. There we would be, three generations laying out under the night sky until it would be bath time for the youngest (and you always needed a bath after playing hard all day outside). By that time the heat from the kitchen would have fled the house and the cooler night air would be filtering in through all of the wide open windows.

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Time to call it a muse…I have some reading to do, both online and the old fashioned kind. I have been receiving copies of the Foxfire series in the mail and I still need to finish “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”…Later