Monday, March 31, 2008

A Bit of Texas History

This past weekend we went to Goliad to join friends from Corpus Christi to tour the Presidio La Bahia and the Mission Espiritu Santo for the 23rd Annual Goliad Massacre Living History Program which provided an accurate reenactment of the famous massacre of Colonel Fannin and his men in 1836. The reenactors wore uniforms and clothing of the time period and the weapons used were accurately depicted. The reenactment began with Fannin's troops abandoning Presidio La Bahia, under orders from Texian General Sam Houston. Fannin's men were to meet General Sam Houston's main army but delays slowed down the Texians. They were about nine miles east of Presidio La Bahia when the Mexican Army surrounded Fannin's men in an open prairie and a two-day battle ensued and became known as "The Battle Of Coleto Creek." On the second day of the battle Fannin surrendered and those men that were not wounded were returned to Presidio La Bahia and held in the chapel. Those that were severely wounded remained at the battlefield for up to three days. On March 27, 1836, Fannin and 341 of his soldiers were executed under orders of General Santa Anna. The massacre at Goliad was an important turning point in the Texas Revolution and this act of infamy was later recalled at the Battle of San Jacinto with the cry, "Remember Goliad! Remember the Alamo!" This reenactment gave us a new perspective on the horrors of war--especially the death scene, which I did not photograph.

Across the highway from the Presidio La Bahia was the Mission Nuestra Señora del Espíritu Santo de Zuñigla. It was established on the San Antonio River in 1749. For more than 70 years, the Franciscan missionaries taught the native Anarama peoples religious principles and craft skills they needed to become good Spanish citizens on the remote northern frontier. The immense herds of cattle that supported the mission population became the foundation for the ranching industry of modern Texas.

After our day in Goliad, we drove over to see Son #4 and his family. Granddaughter, Ella, entertained us at dinner and we caught up on her new counting skills. As you can see, Grandmother really enjoyed the visit!

And the wild flowers were gorgeous!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thankful Thursday

I was thinking this morning that I am so grateful for all the wonderful friends that I have. I have lots of friends here and then I have friends who live far and wide. I have a wonderful friend in Prague who comes for the summer months to work on a project at the University. We have a great time sharing and catching up when she returns every summer. Last summer she taught Granddaughter #3 to make dumplings.

I have a friend in New England who lets me come and teaches me all about the beautiful fall color in her area. She also taught me to eat lobster fresh off the boat--YUM! We visit on the phone periodically and have deep and weighty religious discussions.

My husband and I also have wonderful friends in other parts of the country that we enjoy visiting and having them come visit us. But I will also be eternally thankful for the many wonderful friends I have here. I enjoy breakfasts and lunches where we meet for discussions, sharing and learning.

My friends enrich my life in many and varied ways and I am so thankful for each and every one--true treasures!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Family Time

We spent some time with Son #1 and his family over the weekend. The guys worked at Uncle Philip's place and we girls went shopping. A great time was had by all.

See Granddaughter #1 with "friend."

And Grandson #1 let me try out his dirt bike. Well, he didn't let me turn it on, but he did let me sit on it.

And a nice picture of Hubby and Uncle Philip with Son #1 and family. Hubby is the one without the beard.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Blessed Easter Greeting

Happy Easter!

This morning I went outside and found that my bed of purple iris had an Easter surprise for me. In the flower bed that has always had all purple flowers was a white iris that had bloomed overnight. I was thrilled to find that I had a white Easter iris! My hubby said that it really was an Easter lily, but it surely looks like an iris to me! See what you think:

And I hope that you have a blessed Easter today.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thankful Thursday

I am thankful for the beautiful weather we are having this first day of spring! Trees are green, flowers are blooming, and birds are singing. It is a lovely day! I think the following poem is an appropriate one for today:

A Prayer in Spring
Robert Frost (1915)

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


The sidewalks that I remember best are the ones in my neighborhood when I was growing up in the Texas Panhandle. Those sidewalks surrounded our whole block except for the space in front of Billy Bob Caldwell’s house down the hill towards the dry creek. I am not sure why their sidewalk was missing, but their house was set way back on their lot and they used their front yard as a parking lot for a number of old cars. There always seemed to be men there taking parts out of those cars or putting things into strange places under the raised hoods.

The rest of our block had sidewalks that we children used mainly for roller skating. The concrete sidewalks were installed in squares. The squares were probably originally flat on the ground. However, huge elm trees that grew along the curbs in most yards sent out bulky roots along the surface of the ground and those roots caused the squares of sidewalk to tilt at various angles. Some squares were even cracked into two or more pieces. This interesting phenomenon made roller skating quite an adventure. The tilts and humps of the sidewalk caused us to become skilled at navigating the ups and downs and the bumps and dips that we encountered as we sped around the block until we came to Billy Bob’s front yard. We could not skate in the dirt for fear of clogging up our ball bearing wheels, so we turned around at Billy Bob’s and went the other direction around the block, jumping the curb at the gravel alley and gingerly walking our skates across that rocky surface.

Roller skating was a favorite after school activity. I remember dashing home to change clothes, donning my stiff-as-a board blue jeans that chaffed between the legs by the end of the afternoon, strapping on my skates with leather ankle straps and tightening the front toe grips until the soles of my brown, scuffed oxfords curled up a bit. I then proudly put my skate key on a string around my neck. The skate key was a very important part of the whole roller skating activity. The skate key (seen in the middle of the picture above) kept wheels on tight and secured the nut on the bottom of the skate that allowed it to be lengthened or shortened. It also tightened the metal toe grips on the front of the skate. Everything had to be secure to keep the skates on the shoe.

I suspect that we became as skilled on our roller skates as the skate boarding youngsters I see today—jumping curbs, going down steps, and facing a variety of uneven surfaces.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Great Family Gathering!

Over the weekend about 25 of our family members gathered at the beach for Little One's first birthday celebration! Everyone had a marvelous time, the weather was fabulous, and the time together was way too short. Here are a few pictures of the fun and festivities.

Little One enjoying her first birthday cupcake--to the fullest!

My sister's granddaughter also enjoyed her cupcake!

Little One grinning at her cousin as they check one another out. El is not too sure...

Mom and Soph help Little One with lots of presents. Son #2 and Son #1 and "friend" and Hubby with "friend."

Sister-in-law with her son visit with Kara, her parents and two of her children.More cousins, posing and playing with each other.

What fun we had!

Friday, March 14, 2008


In the early 1990s Mother gave me a rosary in a box for Christmas with a note that said “This rosary belonged to your Great-Granddad Willett. Treasure it and enjoy.” I immediately recognized the heavy ruby red rosary with silver caps on the beads as one that had belonged to my maternal grandfather. It may have belonged to Granddaddy’s father, but I did not know that. I just remember seeing Granddaddy use it.

When I first looked at the rosary in that small jewelry box my mind was flooded with the memory of my small, round Granddaddy kneeling by his bed each night saying his rosary in their bedroom. He then put the rosary on the post of their four-poster bed by his pillow where he kept it. I would often finger the beads of the rosary in the daytime, but always with a sense of the reverence with which Granddaddy handled it.

I treasured that rosary and kept it in my dresser drawer. A few years ago we moved and the rosary disappeared from its box in the drawer where I kept it. I thought the movers or someone had taken it from my drawer and was very heartsick when I thought about that empty box and the note.

Recently I was going through a box of papers and books when the rosary fell out of the box. I fell on my knees and cradled the rosary in my hands for a long time—a treasure restored! I have no idea how the rosary disappeared and then reappeared, but I shiver with joy every time I think about my treasured keepsake--Granddaddy’s rosary!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for family gatherings. My brother, my sister and I, and most of our children and grandchildren, are gathering this weekend to celebrate a grandchild's first birthday, but it is also a wonderful time to get three generations of this family together to play, talk, eat, and have fun for a couple of days at the beach. I am thankful for my daughter-in-law, Kara, who has taken the time and energy to work out all the details of this weekend gathering for 23 members of our collective families.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Colors of Spring

Signs of spring are popping out all over and I love the colors of spring. The mountain laurel bushes have beautiful bunches of purple flowers and redbud trees are full of gorgeous magenta flowers--all except ours which had about three flowers last year and has yet to put out anything this year. I think it is a late-bloomer!

The elm trees in our yard are beginning to have a light dusting of gorgeous spring green leaves breaking forth and the oak trees are covered with light rust-colored leaves that turn to green as they mature. Our purple iris have been blooming for about a month and the Carolina Jasmine is full of yellow blossoms.

The oxalis is spreading a blanket of pink around the back of the pond and even our grass is greening up with the two rain events that we have had over the past couple of weeks. I am hoping the rain will make the wild flowers bloom beautifully this year!

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Mammy was my dad’s mother and she wanted us to call her “Mammy.” We often went to visit Mammy in Amarillo when I was growing up. Mammy was tall and stately—almost six feet tall with big bones, large, dark eyes and dark, tight, curly hair, which she wore very short. When I was little, she seemed enormous with long arms and exceptionally long fingers. When she went out she always dressed in suits with frilly blouses. I doubt if she ever owned a pair of pants, but she did love beautiful shoes and hats. On her fingers, she wore lovely rings that always seemed too loose and clinked, along with the many sturdy bracelets that she always wore. I inherited one of those beautiful antique rings and several of those bracelets which are made of ivory.

Mammy was very strict and I was always a little bit afraid of her. However, I still remember many bits of wise advice that she gave me. I liked helping her in the garden where she grew beautiful, tall flowers. One day I was having a wonderful time carrying dirt in a garden spade and piling it up on the sidewalk. Mammy noticed what I was doing and told me to put the dirt back where I got it and gave me a broom to sweep the sidewalk. I gave the dirt a casual brush or two with the broom and she told me to do a better job of cleaning up the sidewalk. I will never forget her words which have followed me through life: “If the job is worth doing, it is worth doing right.”

Another bit of advice Mammy often emphasized was to put all of my money in the bank and save it for a rainy day. She also gave me distinct instructions for only using four squares of toilet paper when I went to the bathroom because more would stop up the toilet. I often laugh when I roll off more than four squares of toilet paper and feel a twinge of guilt that perhaps Mammy is still watching somewhere over my shoulder.

Mammy loved old things, especially beautiful old things. She touched her old crystal vases with such a sense of awe and then talk about them with such seriousness that I soon grew to love old things myself. She sometimes let me hold the old pieces and stressed how important they were in our family history. Now I have some of her old pieces and I love to look at them and handle them, but I also gained a wonderful sense of the importance of family history from Mammy during those times when she shared her treasures and stories with me.

Fortunately, I was able to spend time with Mammy after she had several strokes. I was in high school at the time and I learned about her romantic side and her love of poetry. She was a great dreamer and told me many stories those last years of her life. Now, I wish I had paid more attention to her stories and written them down, but I was young and impatient to get on with my own life and did not understand the importance of the life lessons that she was teaching me.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Thankful Thursday

We have been battling the flu bug around here for a long time! While I was visiting Son #2 and family, my daughter-in-law, Kara, told me about an immunity broth that her sister had come up with. Her sister is a dietitian and nutritionist. Well, I am always thankful for "natural" ways to stay healthy, so I decided to try the broth since I was not feeling quite up to par yesterday. I went to our health foods store and got the ingredients for the following recipe:

A recipe to provide immune support. This recipe was given to us by Dr. Jon Kaiser at one of the education events The Houston Buyers Club hosted. We are not recommending or prescribing this recipe for any condition - just simply sharing a broth recipe that may help provide immune support. For those who aren't familiar with some of these ingredients or how to cook with them, you can find most of these ingredients at mainstream grocery stores, except for shitake mushrooms. These are almost always found at specialty grocery or organic stores such as Whole Foods Market.
*4 cups of organic vegetable or chicken broth (I prefer chicken broth, it tastes much better than the vegetable broth)
*4 ounces of organic cooking greens-a mixture of chard, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, spinach. etc.
*Chop a few cloves of garlic and a half onion (yellow or white) and sauté them in a ¼ cup olive oil. When the garlic starts to turn brown, pile into the pan all of the extra greens(not used for the broth) and sauté them in the pan.
* 5 shitake mushrooms. Do not buy the packaged-dehydrated shitake mushrooms. Buy them fresh.
* 2 shallots and/or garlic cloves, chopped Shallots are a type of small brown skinned onion and usually found near the onions. In the broth, (I usually include both garlic and shallots).
* 2 or more carrots, sliced.
Bring the shallots, mushrooms, carrots, garlic and broth to a low boil for five minutes. Stir in organic cooking greens. Stir for two minutes, cover and remove from heat. After ten minutes, drink a cup of the warm, nurturing broth, then serve the vegetables over rice, noodles, or anything else. (prep time: 15 minutes).
*Optional additions: chicken, tofu, shrimp, seitan.

I used kale, spinach and red chard for my greens. I also added some shrimp. I did not add any seasonings and found the broth just delicious. My husband had some and came back for more a couple of hours later--we finished the whole pot last night. We ate the greens and other ingredients with the broth. This morning I went to our local grocery store to see if they had organic chicken broth and shitake mushrooms for another batch of the broth. Sure enough, I was able to get both at our neighborhood store, so another pot of the Immunity Broth is on the stove now. Yum! And so, my Thankful Thursday thanks goes to Kara and Kim!!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008



The best vacations that I can remember are the ones that Daddy used to plan for us. His company gave him two weeks of vacation each year and he always “put in” for the last two weeks in July. He was a traveling salesman in the Texas Panhandle and he drove miles and miles each week to cover his territory for his wholesale hardware company. However, for his vacations, he always took us on marathon trips throughout the Southwest. We visited national parks and stayed in small motels along the way. Most of our trips west followed the now famous Route 66 from Texas to New Mexico and across to Arizona. We also took trips up into Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado.

Each year my dad began planning for our vacation right after Christmas. He started by bringing out his collection of maps of all the states in the Southwest that he was interested in that year. He then began to map out a route by calculating how far he could drive each day and what we could see along the way. He also ordered books from AAA telling about all the sights that we could see on his mapped-out route. This process of planning our trip took weeks and weeks. We began to hear about the wonders that we would see and then we three children poured over the books with him during the spring months. By the time we were ready to leave in July, we had a good idea of all the wondrous sights we would see that year.

We began packing for our trips a couple of weeks before we were to leave. We took the usual things like cameras, summer clothes, bathing suits, water jugs, picnic supplies, and an old army cot for my young brother to sleep on in the motel or tourist court, as they were called in those days. In addition to those necessities, we packed games to play and crafts to work on in the car, and piles of books to read along the way. These trips took place during the 1950s in a car that was not air-conditioned. There were five of us in our family: my parents, my sister, my brother, and myself.

Our trips took us over many miles and my dad had certain rules about those trips. The number one rule was that we got up early each day and drove as hard and as fast as our car would go until we either arrived at an interesting stopping place or it was approaching dinnertime. We usually stopped for dinner at night at a restaurant unless the motel had a place where Mother could cook our supper. We had breakfast in our room in the motel—donuts and sweet rolls—and for lunch, we stopped for a picnic that Mother fixed for us. We always stayed in one room in the motel, with a bed for Mother and Daddy, a bed for my sister and I, and the old army cot for my brother. Our whole family went to bed early and read until time for lights out. The next morning we set out for that day’s destination on our map.

We children were not allowed to fight (too much) and we were encouraged to occupy ourselves while riding in the back seat of the car. We did finally acquire a station wagon—a “woody”—and that helped us to spread out somewhat. I believe it was at this point that we began including Aunt Patty or my grandmother in those trips. When we were traveling, we often folded down the two back seats, making a flat surface, and played card or board games while sailing across the desert southwest. Definitely no seat belts in those days!

Those trips were often so hot. Mother filled the water jug with water, and ice if available, each morning at the motel and, in the heat of the late afternoon, we wet washcloths that Mother had brought with the still-cool water to put on our faces and necks to cool down.

It is amazing to think how we managed to travel like that in those days. Places to stay were much more primitive than now and travel was not as streamlined and comfortable as it is today. However, we had great times on those trips and I remember the beauty and majesty of the Grand Canyon, the Painted Desert, Yellowstone National Park, Bryce, Zion, Mesa Verde and their beautiful mountains and colorful desert scenes. I treasure those memories and I am so grateful to my dad for taking us all those places.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Back Home Again

We returned home today (this post was begun on Monday) from visiting #2 son and family. We really enjoyed our visit and I thought you might like to see some pictures. Em turned 8 while we were there.

Soph took the training wheels off her bike and learned to ride it while we were there. And she also enjoyed helping Em explore all the new toys and gadgets that Em got at her birthday party.

And Little One demonstrated her single-mindedness by heading for the stairs every time we put her down on the floor to crawl--time for some gates! That is, unless she was putting a purse over her arm to go shopping.

I started this post on Monday after we returned from our trip but discovered that some of my pictures were missing. While I am waiting for the pictures to be resurrected, I think I will go on and post what I have done so far. Expect more pictures soon.