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Friday, July 25, 2014

Parks and Recreation

Town and Country Soccer Fields

Milburn Soccer Fields
San Gabriel Lacrosse fields.

Dell Diamond
Hubby and I have spent a fair amount of time in parks around the Austin area this spring and early summer.  With three grandsons involved in soccer, lacrosse and swimming teams, we could easily drive 90 miles on any given Saturday.  Names like Milburn, T and C, Anderson Mill, WilCo, San Gabriel etc. now appear as favorites in our GPS.  We even enjoyed a night at Dell Ballpark to watch Middle play drums pregame.  We have honed the soccer and swimming field packs.  Each requires a different set of goodies.  Snacks like fruit and vegetable strips are supplemented as needed by sandwiches picked up at a nearby deli or from the booster services.  There are always water bottles in various stages of cold.

Covered Jeep awaiting our next adventure.
The Jeep, which is now doorless and topless, sports both a bike rack and hitch rack.  A storage duffel bag holds both folding chairs and sunshade.  The bag, also, holds empty milk jugs to be filled with water to hold the sunshade stable in the Texas 'breeze'.  Bungie straps abound in bags and boxes as my husband has a bungie obsession.  Bungies are quite useful.

A recent visit to my sister's home had us in close proximity to a camping park.  Husband toured the park walkways on foot the first morning.  He insisted on the walk even though the skies were threatening.  It P.O.U.R.E.D rain almost the entire time he was gone.  We were preparing to send out a search party just as he returned.  Husband was soaked to the bone.  His new nickname is Chief Walks In Rain.

One of my last park adventures was an alfresco dinner in west Austin.  The Capital of Austin Freeway has a pullout specifically designed for viewing downtown Austin which lies in the distance.  Hubby had been planning for weeks a special evening with wine and food to celebrate our wedding anniversary.  We had spent our honeymoon in Austin.  He wanted to spend this anniversary watching the view as the sun set.  It was a lovely evening.  We had many visitors as we sat sipping wine and taking pictures of the surroundings. The wind kept is from having a good sound recording of what was said.  That's okay as the main gist was we still love each other and hope for many more years together.  The background music is the very song that was sung at our wedding in 1967, just not by Andy Williams.

Now for more Parks and Recreation fun join Ginny and Gretchen over at The Spin Cycle.  Better grab a soda and a sandwich for a bite to eat along the trip!

Second Blooming

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

July Gets Hot

Predictions for this week are showing several days of 100 F. (37.7 C.) for this part of central Texas.  I do not think we plan on Jeeping though Gene did mention wanting to go to a park the other side of Burnet.  My response was not in this heat.  Last week's cool temperatures with highs in the 70's surely spoiled me to cooler weather.

Front porch view, fields beyond trees
All this heat takes my memory back to the days of my youth in Chambersville.  The corn field between us and the Thompsons would be showing signs of ripening.  The maize field across the gravel road would be filled with the deep russet and green of the maize plants.  On the bare fields and roadways you could see heat waves distorting the view slightly.  An occasional whirlwind would travel across the fields lifting any loose leaves into its vortex.  A gentle circling of leaves and debris I would try to catch to see if it could lift me.

Inside the house there might be a fan running.  The fan would oscillate back and forth giving each person in turn a slight reprieve from the heat.  Daddy installed an evaporative cooler in the front room window.  Windows and doors into that room would be closed.  That room would be somewhat cooler.  With the blinds drawn to keep out the sun's rays and the moisture from the cooler the room seemed almost cave like.  The hum of the cooler fan still resounds in my mind.

The window where cooler was installed during summer months.
Days were spent playing dressup or dolls.  Sometimes we played mud pies if there was enough water in the well to spare some.  If Reba Jane came over we would tromp along the cow paths that ran by the nearby wet weather creek.  We did not worry about much of anything, just enjoyed the freedom of summer.  Late afternoons might include going to Ryan's lake for a swim.  I would see lots of friends there swimming, too.  Teens and parents as well as kids my age all joined in the fun of cooling down.  Lucille, Reba Jane's mom, never swam.  She always said she was like a momma cow, just wade out far enough to cool down her bags.

Back yard of Farnsworth house.
The black dirt would get so hot during the summer months.  The continued heat, day in and day out, baked the earth until it cracked.  Wide, deep cracks that seemed to have no bottom.  No cooling rains year after year.  These were the years of the worst drought in Texas recorded history 1950-57.  Many farmers were forced to sell out and leave farming all together, no rain = no crops = no income.  It was during those years my dad slowly put aside farming in search of a more consistent income.  Though we still lived in the same house with the cooler, by the end of 1958 my family was no longer considered farmers.

For three more years we would live in that house.  Minimal indoor plumbing consisted of running water in the kitchen.  We had an outdoor privy and a "night chamber" to avoid the long walk to the privy in the dark of night.  The windows open to try and catch a breeze allowed the stuff and sounds of life to filter through out the house. The curl of dust from passing cars would slowly roll across the front yard toward the house.  The dust would settle on the surfaces inside.  The sound of a distant train whistle could be heard in the evenings when the rumble of farming equipment was stilled.  

Today I sit in the air conditioned comfort of my home.  The thermometer creeps upward toward triple digit readings.  The heat waves rise from the pavement and business roofs.  I may don a swimsuit and try the apartment pool.  It will not be quite the same as Ryan's lake with Lucille teaching me to float on my back.  Or Reba Jane and I catching minnows.  But it will still be hot in Texas in July and cows will wade out just far enough to cool their bags.

Screened back porch was our bathing area in summer.
Also, the beginning of the path to outbuildings including privy.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sister Days

The past several days were spent in the Dallas, TX, area playing with my sisters.  One sis and her husband came in from Oklahoma.  Husband and I drove up from the Austin area.  The fourth sis is still employed full time so could only make it on Friday.  We converged on our Mom's apartment at assisted living on Wednesday.  We three sisters and Mom time in a quiet sitting area just catching up on each other's families.  Of course there was the usual discussion of aches and pains that seems to accompany gatherings of folks our age.

Probably the most entertaining part of any gathering is the remember game.  We can spend hours trying to remember the name of a movie, TV show, actors or about anything.  The process can take days if the thing we are trying to remember is family centric.   When it is about famous people the answer is only as far away as the nearest phone or tablet.  I, also, seemed to have enhanced recall during my showers.  Unfortunately by the time I would get dried, fluffed and dressed I would have forgotten again.  Ah!  The joy of aging.

Now we sisters and husbands did spend a good amount of time going out to eat or preparing simple meals.  Tortilla pizzas, sandwiches, biscuits and gravy, ham, potato casserole, garden fresh fruits and vegetables tickles our pallets.  We even indulged in apple, cherry and apricot pies.  Meals eaten in restaurants included everything from fish and chips to prime rib, steaks to chili.  Warm foods were good this past week as records were being set for July.  Not the usual 100 plus temperatures for highs.  Instead highs in the mid to upper 70's.  This is in an area where 20 days in a row of 100 plus temps is common for summer months.

Besides remembering, eating and visiting we enjoyed an evening at the ballpark.  Not the mega park the Rangers play in over in Arlington.  We watched the Rough Riders double A team in Frisco.  The weather was chilly and rainy but still it was fun just being together.  Being together and no doing something like moving Mom.  Or helping Mom as she goes through rehab.  And there was no big holiday.  We just spent time together.  We did visit our hospitalized Aunt Opal who is holding her own.  Mom sat at Aunt Opal's bedside holding her baby sister's hand as we three daughters/nieces/siblings looked on.  We know the time will come when it will be us holding the hand of a sister as she struggles.  But that is for another day.

Our oldest sis joined the fun on Friday.  That day we chose to enjoy the simple pleasures of sitting on Baby Sister's patio to play another game of remember.  Later our youngest niece brought her two children to visit.  Those two children were very entertaining.  Nana's home is so familiar to them the great niece has claimed one bedroom as her own.  When she discovered someone's clothes piled on her toy box she came back with a frown!  Nana!  Momma!  Shirts on my stuff!   Later in the evening she entertained all present with 'Let It Go'.  Great Niece is a red haired, blue eyed 2 1/2 year old with sass!

Saturday night we sisters and husbands enjoyed a community theater production of La Cage aux Folles.  What a fun play and a challenge to deduce which were guys in drag and which were not!  Really impressive production for a community theater.  A light hearted evening we all enjoyed.   Sunday morning brought one last opportunity to play the remember game.  Hubby announced a well know actor had died.  He promptly forgot the actor's name.  Finally he said the last name, Garner and someone added the first, James.  Then it was time to remember the names of the TV shows and movies.  We giggled and laughed as we each would add a little to the memory puzzle.  Or one would give the answer only to have another person "remember" the same answer in a minute or so.

Bags were repacked, beds were stripped, hugs and kisses exchanged.  We followed the first sister and her husband to their car to wave one last goodbye.  Youngest sister's husband had driven this sister's auto the night before and set the parking brake.  Instead of releasing the brake, first to leave sister's husband accidentally opened the car hood.  One last laugh about how age is creeping up as we hit the wrong switches all the time now.  Youngest Sis nor I could get the hood closed so one of the husbands came and closed it.  Hood is slammed shut, car doors closed and we head back to our homes.  Sister Days are over for this week but not forever.  We are already planning the next gathering for the colder months.

Macho Men Staying Dry

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Aunt Opal

My beloved Aunt Opal is seriously ill.  Cancer.  Eighty-nine and she has cancer.  She is so weak she keeps falling.  Now she is in the hospital with a subdural hematoma.  Aunt Opal has spent just about every Christmas with my Mom, her older sister.  I look through the pictures of family and Aunt Opal is there, always.

The last three years have dealt her health challenges.  And now this.  What does life hold for the this precious person?  This person that gave so much of herself to me during my childhood.  There were books, Little Golden Books, over 100 of them.  One every time she stepped off the Greyhound bus bringing her home for the weekend.  She bought me a tricycle.  Purses, bonnets, laughter.  Joy but most of all love.  The last visit to our home in Missouri she brought me a Little Golden Book.  It is in the shelf with what remains of the books she brought me 60 to 65 years ago.  She loves my husband and enjoyed a Jeep outing on that last visit to Missouri.

I was six years old riding all the way to California in the back seat of Freckles.  That was the name of the blue Chevy we travelled in that year.  It had rusty spots that made it look like it had freckles.  I had freckles almost the same color.  The seats were sort of a scratchy, gray fiber.  No air conditioning as we made our way across West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Southern California.  It. Was. Hot. Windows down so long as it did not blow Momma's hair too much.  Stops at the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert and Carlsbad Cavern broke up the long miles for a six year old.

Being a huge fan of Roy Rogers (my maiden name is Rogers) and Dale Evans I could hardly wait to get to California.  We crossed the state line and every one in the car noted we were in California.  I was sitting next to the left backseat window.  I was near tears.  Aunt Opal asked what was wrong.  I told her Roy and Dale were not there to greet us.  I was very disappointed.  The car occupants erupted in laughter.  I was six, what did I know.

On that long road trip vacation Aunt Opal would love to tease me.  Endlessly it seemed.  One person in particular she used as the object of her teasing, a boy named Melvin Murley, M & M as she called him.  "Don't you wish you could see M & M?"  I would loudly rebuff her question.  Repeatedly came the M & M questions with the same reaction from me, "NO!"  Why does she think I want to be his girlfriend.  I had heard women say he still suckled his mom till he started to school.  Yucky!  One more time Aunt Opal said just 2 letters and a word, "M & M."

From the front seat Momma and Daddy could hear nothing but gales of laughter from Aunt Opal.  When amused, Aunt Opal would laugh till she was in tears gasping between the giggles.  Finally she was able to regain enough self control to tell what had happened.  One too many M & M comments had brought this recrimination from me, "I'll be glad when you are old and gray in a rocking chair!  I'll knock you a winding!"  That reaction has lived in infamy as part of my contribution to all the family lore.  That and the Roy not being at the state line to greet me.

Things changed somewhat when Aunt Opal married.  She and her husband would spend a couple of weekends a month with us in Chambersville.  Two daughters came along so the overnight stays stopped.  Christmases included Aunt Opal's growing family, eventually to include grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Some years ago I picked up a pack of Christmas cards.  There was one card among them that would need to go to Aunt Opal.  It was a rocking chair.  I no longer wanted to knock her winding in her chair.  Today I want to be in that back seat one more time snuggling up to her.  I want to see her coming in on the Greyhound bus to spend the weekend.  She does not need to bring a Little Golden Book.  I just want to see her and feel her love one more time.  Maybe I can take her a package of M & M's.

Who needs child seats when you can just jump while eating.

Christmas 1972 at my home.

Christmas mid 1970's at Margaret's house.

Christmas mid 1980's, Arlene's home.

Christmas at Momma's in Allen.

Aunt Opal and grandchildren, Christmas late 1980's.

Aunt Opal with her daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren.
2013 Christmas gathering.  Santa, Mom, Aunt Opal and newest great grandson.

Friday, July 11, 2014


My mind's eye is filled with the many gardens I've grown.
Names like tickseed coreopsis, yellow twig dogwood, 
boxleaf euonymus, pineapple sage, crepe myrtle, 
Japanese painted fern, purple cone flower, zinnia etc. 
filled my record book of the gardens.

The first lawn was large, almost two acres in size.
It took both Hubby and I all day long to mow.
We used two Lawn Boy push mowers Daddy had rebuilt.
Within a year we upgraded to a garden tractor with
a mower deck, a plow and disc.  We made a vegetable garden.

The lawn sizes became smaller with each move.
Son grew up on 3/4 acre.  Eventually he would mow with
that same Sears garden tractor bought in 1970, three years
before he was born.  The tractor stayed with the house in Aurora.
Springfield's lot was not a quarter of an acre.  A wisteria vine
I planted covered the fence along the walkway.

Now my garden is contained in a few pots on the small
patio outside our apartment.  I have sneaked a few
flowering plants into the otherwise empty soil just off
the patio.  Son says, "Mom likes to keep her hands dirty".
Maybe what he says is true.  I know this,
that manchild is the best thing this woman ever grew.

Son with Youngest Grandson

For more takes on Grow, join Gretchen and Ginny Marie at The Spin Cycle.  
No telling what other folks are growing!

Second Blooming

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Four sisters named Margaret, Suzie, Janice and Arlene.  By the end of this year we will be 78, 74, 68 and 60.  We have become the Granny, Grammy, Grandma and Nana to a wide range of girls and boys, several who are now women and men.  In the middle between being daughters and grandmothers we were sweethearts, cheerleaders, drill team members, singers performing on the local radio, wives, mothers and various occupations as members of the work force.

My mom made his coat.  Such a beautiful family.
Three of the sisters have two sons and one daughter.  I have one son, period.  Yesterday, Saturday June 28 we celebrated a couple of days early the birth of the first of the children.  Oldest Nephew turns 58 on Monday, June 30.  We shared memories of the joy of him as a child.  How excited he would be to see us stop by the garage apartment in McKinney.  He was just crawling and would be waiting at the top of the stairs, smiling the beautiful smile.

A few months later his folks move to a rent house.  As I remember it was close to his first birthday.  Chiffon pies were big that summer.  Chiffon pies were dissolved Jello folded into whipped cream poured into a baked pie crust.  The flavor depended on the flavor of Jello.  Oldest Nephew was sitting in the high chair in the kitchen of the house just off Waddill St.  He put a piece of the pie in his mouth only to begin searching for the food in his lap.  The chiffon pie was so light he thought he had dropped it.  The semi-circle of people watching the apple of our eyes, Oldest Nephew/Grandson, broke into laughter as we realized what had happened.  Then he smiled that beautiful smile.

Yesterday I sat at a table with my sisters and one niece, sister of the birthday boy/man, just visiting.  The niece was discussing her twin sons entering their senior year in high school and trying to decide on colleges.  The twins frowned every time we looked at them.  We aunts and Mom discussed menopause issues with this niece.  Oldest Nephew's brother arrived to join in the celebration of the his brother's birthday.  This nephew was discussing the progress of building a new church building for the church he pastors.  Two of Oldest nephew's sons and daughters along with four of his grandchildren were in attendance.  The family matriarch was there giving us five generations in attendance.

The faces of the family surrounding Oldest Nephew as he unwrapped his gifts have changed.  Gone are his Dad, both grandfathers, Granny Mozelle and Great Granny Chandler.  The faces of those still alive show the 57 years of living since that first birthday.  The birthday man/boy is showing the years, too.  Oldest Nephew has cirrhosis of the liver.  Treatments are very limited and pain is ever present on his face.  So this was a melancholy party as we sang the traditional song.

Rather than dwell on the sight of a person very ill with liver failure I choose to think of these images.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Gettin' My Summer On!

It is vacation, Smile!!

Living in the central part of Texas is a new experience for me.  Being a Texas born and raised, fourth generation, has little bearing on living in the central part of the state.  When Alaska melts due to climate change, Texas will regain its rightful title as the largest state in the Union.  Well, that is if the melted Alaska ice does not flood most of the coastal plains of Big Texas.  Yet again, I digress.

In many ways the blackland farms of North Texas are like a different state than this area of Texas. There are real hills in this area.  There is farmland but much more grazing areas for cattle.  This area is in one of the worst droughts in recent history.  A string of record highs last year with record lows in the fall and winter left me not trusting the weather.  The weather predictions to seem to be leveling out into the mid to high 90's for the foreseeable future.

To help get me in the mood to get my summer on I dug out some of the old vacation photos from my childhood.  As you look over the photos know that Mom made most of the clothing worn by my sisters and me as well as her's and Aunt Opal's clothing.  She would be sewing for weeks in between plowing, hoeing or hauling crops to market.  Going into summer or going on vacation always meant new clothing.  This tradition continues.

Guess it is now summer till sometime in November here in Texas.  Probably past time to get my summer on!  I have a new swim suit, a two piece along with several new blouses and knee knockers.  I am, also, sporting 10 additional pounds this summer.  What that means is one more inch of gunk squeezed from the tube of factor 90 sunblock.  The sun is closer to me down here and burns my fair skin too quickly.  Flipflops (I still call them thongs cause it is fun to watch young shoe salesmen when I ask for thongs) have been dug out of hiding.

Modeling new two piece suits while
standing in the hay field.  And
Sports Illustrated thought they
were doing something new.
One always needs a beach towel either to cover as much body on the way to the edge of the pool or to actually dry off with after a dip.  Then recover the body for the walk back to the apartment.  A beach bag to carry the sunblock for reapplications.  The bag is in our closet with all the beach towels neatly folded for storage.  I need a book in the bag to read while 'sunbathing', AKA jan-a-cueing.  A nice icy Pina Colada.  I know it is 'not in style' but I then I do not mind getting caught in the rain.  Maybe I would like an umbrella, though.  No, I have my new wide brimmed summer hat.

  • Swim suit, check
  • Sunblock, check
  • Flipflops, check
  • Beach towels, check
  • Beach bag, check
  • New Jane Evanovich book, to be purchased 
  • Pina Colada mix, TBP
  • Umbrella, retrieve from auto
  • Wide brimmed summer hat, check
Looks like I am ready for some fun in the sun by the pool now.  As for other times, like going out for museum visits on the day they are closed I need cool clothing for the extra walking.  Several weeks ago all dark colored or heavier weight clothing was rotated to the back edges of the closet.  Only sleeveless and short sleeved shirts till November.  New canvas shoes instead of the heavier laceup New Balance walkers make me a little more summer fashionable as I find my way around.  

Farmers on vacation.
Whites and light colored clothing and autos preferably for summers in Texas.  When purchasing the new auto we were very specific about light interior in as many areas as possible.  Better add a window shade for auto to the above list.  Oh, no!  I just realized the new swim suit is black and white.  I am gonna be mistaken for a beached killer whale!  Being harpooned or rescued by whale huggers might not be pleasant.  Sigh, maybe I should just stay in the air conditioned apartment writing blogs this summer.

But if you want to read about some really exciting summer plans head on over to The Spin Cycle hosted by Ginny Marie and Gretchen.

Second Blooming

Have a great summer and thanks for stopping by and helping me organize my summer needs!

Grandsons pool time last week.

No butts about it, these two were ready for Summer and some fun!