Sunday, December 13, 2009


I can not take credit for this.
It is one of those email going around. But I thought it was touching and so true.
It is long but worth the read.

When I was quite young, my father had one of the first telephones in our
neighborhood. I remember the polished, old case fastened to the wall. The
shiny receiver hung on the side of the box. I was too little to reach the
telephone, but used to listen with fascination when my mother talked to

Then I discovered that somewhere inside the wonderful device lived an
amazing person. Her name was 'Information Please' and there was nothing
she did not know. Information Please could supply anyone's number and the
correct time.

My personal experience with the genie-in-a-bottle came one day while my
Mother was visiting a neighbor. Amusing myself at the tool bench in the
basement, I whacked my finger with a hammer, the pain was terrible, but
there seemed no point in crying because there was no one home to give

I walked around the house sucking my throbbing finger, finally arriving at
the stairway. The telephone! Quickly, I ran for the footstool in the
Parlor and dragged it to the landing climbing up; I unhooked the receiver
in the parlor and held it to my ear.

'Information, please,' I said into the mouthpiece just above my head. A
click or two and a small clear voice spoke into my ear.


'I hurt my finger,' I wailed into the phone, the tears came readily enough
now that I had an audience.

'Isn't your mother home?' came the question.

'Nobody's home but me,' I blubbered.

'Are you bleeding?' the voice asked.

'No,' I replied. 'I hit my finger with the hammer and it hurts.'

'Can you open the icebox?' she asked.

I said I could.

'Then chip off a little bit of ice and hold it to your finger,' said the

After that, I called 'Information Please' for everything. I asked her for
help with my geography, and she told me where Philadelphia was. She helped
me with my math. She told me my pet chipmunk that I had caught in the park
just the day before, would eat fruit and nuts.

Then, there was the time Petey, our pet canary, died. I called,
'Information Please,' and told her the sad story. She listened, and then
said things grown-ups say to soothe a child. But I was not consoled. I
asked her, 'Why is it that birds should sing so beautifully and bring Joy
to all families, only to end up as a heap of feathers on the bottom of a

She must have sensed my deep concern, for she said quietly, ' Wayne,
always remember that there are other worlds to sing in.'

Somehow I felt better.

Another day I was on the telephone, 'Information Please.'

'Information,' said in the now familiar voice.

'How do I spell fix?' I asked.

All this took place in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. When I was
nine years old, we moved across the country to Boston. I missed my friend
very much. 'Information Please' belonged in that old wooden box back home
and I somehow never thought of trying the shiny new phone that sat on the
table in the hall. As I grew into my teens, the memories of those
childhood conversations never really left me.

Often, in moments of doubt and perplexity I would recall the serene sense
of security I had then. I appreciated now how patient, understanding, and
kind she was to have spent her time on a little boy.

A few years later, on my way west to college, my plane put down in Seattle
I had about a half-hour or so between planes. I spent 15 minutes or so on
the phone with my sister, who lived there now. Then without thinking what
I was doing, I dialed my hometown Operator and said, 'Information Please.'

Miraculously, I heard the small, clear voice I knew so well. 'Information.'

I hadn't planned this, but I heard myself saying, 'Could you please tell
me how to spell fix?'

There was a long pause. Then came the soft spoken answer, 'I guess your
finger must have healed by now.'

I laughed, 'So it's really you,' I said. 'I wonder if you have any idea
how much you meant to me during that time?'

'I wonder,' she said, 'if you know how much your call meant to me. I never
had any children and I used to look forward to your calls.'

I told her how often I had thought of her over the years and I asked if I
could call her again when I came back to visit my sister.

'Please do,' she said. 'Just ask for Sally.'

Three months later I was back in Seattle a different voice answered:
Information.' I asked for Sally.

'Are you a friend?' she said.

'Yes, a very old friend,' I answered.

'I'm sorry to have to tell you this,' she said. 'Sally had been working
part-time the last few years because she was sick. She died five weeks

Before I could hang up she said, 'Wait a minute, did you say your name was

'Yes.' I answered.

'Well, Sally left a message for you. She wrote it down in case you called.
Let me read it to you.' The note said, 'Tell him there are other worlds to
sing in. He'll know what I mean.'

I thanked her and hung up. I knew what Sally meant.

Never underestimate the impression you may make on others.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Little Irritations

Why is it that as soon as you sweep the last little bit of the dirt into the dustpan and dump it in the trash you simultaneously kick the cat bowl and water dish and have a wet, cluttered mush all over the floor? soon as all the underwear are folded and stacked on the table, the last pair of underwear tip the scales and the whole stack tumbles over and unfolds?

...the short trip from sugar bowl to coffee cup ends with the sugar on the floor below.

...the cups on the top shelf of the dishwasher are filled with water when all the other dishes are dry and topple over spilling into the utensils and dishes below as you pull the rack out?

....the bottom sheet pulls loose but the sheets above it are still in place?

But all is well and if the house is not perfect when all the little grandbabies come running in...who will even notice?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Baby Girl Royal

Just Arrived!
Blakely Ann 9 lbs, 2 ozs.

This is the first photo taken minutes after she was born.

Harvest Tme

As the rays of sunlight broke across the eastern sky the sound of rumbling combines started and I could feel the vibrations of the machinery nearby. The sky was just light enough to see the combines near my back door, starting up and moving across the field of green beans growing just at the edge of my backyard. The harvesters must have arrived while it was still dark and moved in like Hitchcock's birds in the school playground.

As I sat having my morning coffee while I watched an old movie on TCM my senses became aware of the activities outside and momentarily I felt as if I had been plucked up from my serene country life and plopped down in one of those B rated scary movies where the victim of some unknown killer runs through the corn fields with menacing rotating blades of a combine moving closer and closer.

Stepping to the backdoor I watched as the combines took their place at the start of the bean rows and dust began to rise and billow out into the sky as the green plants began to get ripped from the ground and pulled into the blades of the combine.

Harvest is exciting to farm families. It is the time the goals are realized, the big pay off, the light at the end of the tunnel, the end of the hard work that went into that crop, a big relief. For this year, especially we are thankful for all that is harvested, the summer of drought, the wet fall, a struggling economy, and an uncertain future. I am reminded that faith has got to be a part in our lives. We can plant the seeds but God gives our harvest.

There are several harvests of various crops throughout the year. This is the second harvest this year of green beans, corn was harvested early in the summer, hay has been baled and peanuts are being harvested this week, also.

Harvest time and a baby on the way. What a good day it is today!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Living by the Old Tme

What a challenge it has been this week to get the time right.

All this week my internal alarm clock has been waking me up at 4:00 AM because it is the old 5:00 AM. I toodle to the TV downstairs to catch an old movie, put on the coffee, take my morning pills and settle down to the movie until time to go to school. .

Today my internal alarm clock got me up at 5:00 AM which is right for me even though it is Saturday, I toodle downstairs, turn on an old movie, put the coffee on, take my morning pills and settle in to my old movie.

Lee wanders in....awfully early for him....five o'clock.
He thinks it is six o'clock and that is good for him because he thinks it is the old seven o'clock.

Who's on first?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Math of Love

Still waiting!
Poor Lisa!

Makes you just hurt for her!
If things do not happen before next Wednesday she will be admitted and induced on the 11th.
It is my prayer that things happen sooner than that for Lisa's sake.

Nine months is long enough to be pregnant for anybody with a three year old (4 in February) and a 20 month old at home with a husband who is out of town on business for days at a time. Poor baby! She is trying not to be grumpy but it is just so hard!

When I went into labor with my first I was eating out with a friend who had a five month old baby. I fed the baby all the way to the hospital. It was either I drive or I feed. I chose feed. Our two babies were friends for life, competed for grades all through their years in Pleasanton, graduated the top two in their class, roomed together at college and continue to keep up with each other even now.

By the way, the meal was Mexican food and I never got to finish the meal.

The second one came a week early and when I got to the hospital they gave me a sleeping pill and all labor stopped. Hours later it started again and he was born in two hours.

The doctor decided to induce the last two I had. He did not think I would make it to the hospital.
The next one was born during my mother's father's funeral. I missed the funeral. It was a happy/sad occasion.

By the time I had the last one I had it down pretty pat! Everything went as scheduled!

What a blessing all the babies have been in my life. I would not want to give any one of them up, mine, their spouses and the grandbabies.

Someone once told me she did not want to have any more children after her one child because she did not think she could ever love another child as much.
How sorry I feel for her. She did not understand the math of love!

You don't divide, you multiply!

So if you please, say a prayer for Lisa and the baby.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


We were invited to Gaby's parents' house for a tamalada. All I knew was this was to make tamales. I had no idea that the Mexican culture makes a party of the work and everyone looks forward to this. How fun is that?

As you can see Linda jumped right into the middle of it and had her hands in it immediately. It took me a little longer, I had the camera and wanted documentation of it all. Everyone had something to do. If you vacated your spot at the table someone else would come along and take it and pick up where you left off. And don't think this is just for the women. There were as many men around that table as women and they made the biggest tamales.

Kids played outside most of the time. Some watched football on TV, some played football outside and everyone migrated back and forth into the kitchen. At the end of the evening a huge pile of tamales were placed on the table and disappeared quickly.

I came away with a better appreciate of the family my son has linked us to...mi consuegros!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Just a Drink of Cold Water

It was the week after the wedding and my job was to keep the shop while Caleb and Gaby were off in Mexico honeymooning.

The weather had turned off to be so hot people were hardly moving outside and the days were slow.
I had noticed on this particular day that the traffic was even near non-existent on this usually busy road. An occasional car would drive by. Stepping outside to check the thermostat on the porch, I stood outside for a mere few seconds and looked up and down the road, noting the lack of activity and thought how strange the day was without the presence of people moving about.

The thermometer was at the 103 degrees mark and it was just a little after 1:00 still with the heat of the day ahead of me.

Keeping busy with odd jobs organizing, dusting, and rearranging merchandise I had missed lunch and now, I was thirsty and ready to settle down to a bite to eat. I turned and walked back into the shop and headed the twenty or so feet to the back of the shop when I heard the chime. I turned in surprise.

There stood a short, thin man whose age was difficult to determine. Although he was probably a good four inches shorter than I am and could not have been over a hundred pounds my first instinct was fear, never more aware of being alone in the shop. The growth on his face and dirty, sagging clothing made him look unkempt and I knew he was not there on business. With one hand still on the doorknob he stood looking at me. He looked at the shop and moving his cupped hand to his mouth in a motion like drinking a soda he attempted communication in his native tongue. I understood agua. The rest was lost on me but I recognized his need for something to drink.

Telling him to wait I went to the back and took out a cool bottle of water from the refrigerator and took it to him. As I handed him the bottle all fear and reservations had dropped away. Thanking me he turned and left.

As he walked off the porch and began his journey on foot, I stood watching him for as long as I could see him.
even a drink of water to the least of these,
This little man who asked for no more than a drink of water would be a man I would remember for a long time to come.
some have entertained angels unawares
I was filled with emotions, recognizing my own blessed existence here on this earth in sharp contrast to this man.
I wore silk, he wore worn cotton.
I wore gold and silver, he had none.
I drove a nice car, he walked.
I had plenty to eat and drink, he had to ask for water.
I don't know where he came from, or where he went. I had never seen him before, nor have seen him since. But on that day his presence humbled me.

So today, let me leave you with this thought:
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:2

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Seasonal Cravings

I never had cravings while I was pregnant but the changing of seasons brings out cravings I can hardly control.
  • The cool weather and hearing the rustling of fall leaves makes my appetite turn toward sweet spices like pumpkin spices and cinnamon and fruits dessert like apple dumplings, apple crisp or spice bars.
  • The really wet and cold weather brings out the soup cravings, chili, chicken soup, tortilla soup and taco soup.
  • Achy joints and stuffy noses bring out a craving for potato soup although week days ending in "y" do the same.
  • A cold dreary day brings on a desire for homemade popcorn candy, cheese balls with Wheat Thins while watching a good movie and the company of my children.
  • Lazy Saturday afternoons bring out the need for pinto beans with cornbread cooking in the kitchen.
  • And cool afternoons with family around bring on a craving for ginger bread with lemon sauce.
It all sounds very psychological but real nonetheless. Memories of pleasant times and comforting foods at those times make an indelible mark on our minds and replay like an old movie reel in our memories.
With the cooling of the weather lately my cravings are very active today.

The latest issue of Southern Living reminded me of the apple dumplings my mother served when we were children. The magazine did a mother/daughter adaptation of the old recipe. I drooled at the full color pictures of both versions of the apple dumplings and while the daughter's version cut the preparation time in half did look enticing I knew the mother's version is most appetizing. Mother's recipe used fresh apples, a homemade syrup and of course, the homemade version of the pie crust pastry.

Being the busy woman that I am but one who loves to eat good food, I quickly adapted the mother's recipe into my own version cutting time slightly by buying the pie crust instead of making it myslef and had fresh apple dumplings baking in my oven within minutes.

Oh, the smell of apples baking in your kitchen. I could hardly wait for the dumplings to cool before diving into the sweet fruit.

Apple Dumplings Darla's Way
Purchase small apples, peel and core about 6
Make or buy pie crust but each apple needs about a 6 inch square to wrap the apple.
Set one prepared apple in the middle of a square of pastry and fill the hollow core area with a mixture of brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon (about a tablespoon of sugar mixture) and top with a small dab of butter.
Bring the edges of the squares up to meet in the middle allowing the rest of the pastry to ruffle around the apple.
Place in a shallow baking dish that will hold 6 apple dumplings.

Prepare a syrup by mixing in a saucepan:
1 1/2 cups sugar with 1 1/2 cups water and a teaspoon of cinnamon.
Bring to a simmer and simmer for five minutes.
Pour syrup over dumplings in baking dish.

Bake in an oven at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.

Do you have a good apple recipe you would like to share? Or a favorite fall memory?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Fun Stuff

Are they in love or what?

The family picture at the wedding.


Arriving at Playa del Mariposa

Playa & Gabriela

Again, just because she is so-o-o cute!

He thinks so, too.

Later, the next week...on to the river.
(couldn't decide...walk or ride...but maybe both will work. Ride awhile, walk later.)

Checking out the fingers.

Uncle & boys

Another uncle holding the water in place....he said this was a harder job than we knew.

Is this a celebrity...or a grandson who seems to be growing up on me.

What kind of celebration without watermelon?

Relaxing in the shade

See you later!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Driven by the list

Why is it that when I had four kids at home I had a clean, well-organized house and today a job and a wedding eat my lunch?

What drove me when I was young? Not mentioning the difference in the years, the stamina, and well, you know, the weight!

Oh, I remember! I was driven by the list…you know the daily list….the all-the things-to-do-for-the-day-before-I-can-play list. I had the house clean by 10:00 am every day, unless of course, it was the strip-the-old-wax-from-the-floor day and that was an all day job. I remember taking pride in the appearance of my house.

Now I think it is important to play first, clean later.

So, today…now that the wedding is over, a week with one grandchild is over, a weekend at the Guadalupe and now the start of a second week with another grandchild…I am about ready for…
the list….

…Make the beds upstairs,
…clean all the bathrooms,
…clean the living area,
…clean the kitchen,
…clean out the refrigerator,
…clean the pass through space, (that is a clutter space)
…download all pics & load on external hard drive and

I was done except for the blogging by 1:30 which is swim time for the boys and I had even ventured from the list to include some extras. I scrubbed down the shower, and the bathtub, cleaned the “wedding room” and organized wedding things, boxing things up and putting things away for storage, made several business calls, paid bills, cleaned the play areas from last week, putting away the extra bedding, etc. and decorated as I cleaned and fixed lunch for six of us.

What was the difference today?
The list…I was driven by the list!

I wonder what I should put on tomorrow's list.
Maybe, I will post some pictures of my playtimes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

New Chick in my Brood

Our lives have evolved and now, we are back where we started, just the two of us,
but now we have many, many more people involved in our lives who love us and lean on us from time to time.

Empty nesters?!

Technically, that would be the term but when our friends proclaimed us empty nesters Sunday morning I was surprised. I had not even thought that my nest was empty. And technically, I still had family visiting and the house was full. The last to marry of course, was not present with us but we just added a new chick to our brood.

Instead of feeling empty, I felt full,

full of love for family and friends,
full of excitement over the future,
full of possibilities of the things unexplored....not empty.....just full.

We have been so blessed.

I am sure in weeks to come when 6:30 rolls around and it is time for supper and none of my little chicks come home, or I walk down the hallway through foreign looking bedrooms neatly decorated for guests, no dirt encrusted socks wadded inside out on the floor, nor toys scattered underfoot or books or magazines thrown around, no wet footprints between the bathroom to the bedroom; it will begin to dawn on me that this is again a new phase in my life.

I am sure then the silence will scream at me one day soon but not today.
There is much too much to do still.

Pictures will be posted later.
Trust me, it was good.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bonita, bonita

Oh, wow! Time is flying by.

All I can even focus on right now is finishing this week so I can finish up the yard for the wedding. If you look at the wedding ticker you can see that we are now truly on the count down.

What a wonderful experience this preparation for this yard wedding has been.

Gaby's family has been just as involved in preparing the yard as we have been. Her dad is truly an artist with stones and her mother, a wonderful gardener, has cared for sick and dying plants that I had thrown to the side for lack of time. She has helped keep plants hydrated as they wilt in the heat while I work at school.

Caleb has shown some great skills in designing and building a pergola and Gaby and I have been the laborers doing odds jobs....mostly designing the flower beds and planting things. Gaby and Caleb have been in charge of lighting and wow! are they ever doing a wonderful job. When the sun goes down in this yard it will not mean the end of this party! It is so inviting and romantic. With a mariachi band and 200 plus guests in attendance it is going to be a night of fun and romance.

Muy bonita!!!

I can hardly wait to be able to spend the last days before the wedding finalizing everything without the school obligations hanging over my head and just walking around keeping things watered and enjoying the colors of nature in the yard. Of course, I can't wait until the wedding itself.

We have attended two "couple's" showers for the two of them. The first one was in the backyard of one of Gaby's friends in SA which was beautiful, romantic and very touching as the night wound down with the guests sharing stories of one of the two. We laughed. We cried. We enjoyed family.

The second couple shower was a fiesta celebration from our church family. It was a great celebration. Gaby's family was so impressed with everything. It was perfect! Festive! Fun! Family! What more could we ask for? Muy, muy bonita!

My thanks to all who have been involved. I have been so amazed at how our combined families have all jumped in to help out in their own way. In the beginning it was an overwhelming task to think of all that needs to be done but once everyone began to assist the task became fun.

Truly a celebration of love....among all of us!
I love you all so much.

Muy bonita!

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Name is Darla

Obviously, my parents liked the name Darla when I was born. After all she was the beloved girl on the Little Rascals.

Daddy chose the name.
Mama just let him have his way.

My aunt loved the name and when I complained about it as a child she always told me she wished it was her name. Whether she meant it or not it always helped me to like it better. The problem was no one else I knew had that name. I thought that made me too different.

Linda, being a few years older and more sophisticated and beautiful at the young age of 11 or 12, just coming into her prime you would know, would chide me and say, "Linda means beautiful but Darla doesn't mean anything." I must have been a very sensitive child because it has always stuck with me and even now, at 55 years of age I still remember the first time I heard that while sitting on the bed together with the dictionary open. That was the year our little brother was born and names were the topic of discussion, I assume.

I teach high school art and I don't think a year has gone by that I have not mentioned to someone in one of my classes that "Linda means beautiful but Darla doesn't mean anything." Even my co-teachers get involved in the fun.

I have a close relationship with my co-teachers and often while in the presence of one of the other teachers we tease about my name. We may have a student whose name has a meaning we know so we may say to her, "Vanessa means butterfly. Did you know that?" My co-teacher would then add, "Linda means beautiful but Darla doesn't mean anything." It is all in good humor and has just become a familiar joke to us all. We teachers have a good time together. Our students don't always get our sense of humor much less think we even have one but they will remember us laughing.

It is amazing how often you can work it into the conversation. Bible class, family gatherings, eating out, name it we say it. Just because we did not say it, don't think it is because we were not thinking it. Linda and I often pass a smile to each other in Bible class when the meaning of a name is mentioned. We both are thinking the same thing.

When voting this year I had to vote provisional. Voting provisional means that your vote will not be counted unless completely necessary to break a tie or something. So now in my family there is a follow up to our familiar joke.

"Linda means beautiful. Darla doesn't mean anything......and her vote doesn't even count."

While looking for something else Linda found this website.
Darla-the name, the woman, the legend

Now after all these years I find that Darla means something after all.
I wonder if they will count my vote now.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

All Good

I am so excited about everything happening in my life right now. Who would not be?

Two projects have been in the works for a number of weeks in my life and both are coming to a close or actually to a beginning for one and a completion for the other. Prom (Yes, I am too old to be going to prom but I am a sponsor by obligation of my job.) will be this Saturday and hopefully, if I am really, really good and I get to retire in four will be my last! Thank goodness.

....and Busy Bags! The tree will be installed on the wall today or before the weekend! Last night the teenage girls stuffed the bags. They finally understood what we have been talking about and are so excited. They want to assist the children Sunday morning to get their bags. I think the girls want to keep a bag for themselves to play with in church actually. While we were stuffing bags I looked up at Jessica who was carrying the conversation while stuffing finger puppets in the bags. She had butterflies on every finger on one hand and funny birds on the other hand. If the little children don't know how to use the finger puppets we will send Jessica over.

I expect success!
(Busy Bags will hang on the picket fence that will extend beyond the wall by a few inches.) If we have extra I am thinking of adding an apple crate on the floor in front of the picket fence and put more bags in it. This photo is of the tree on the workshop floor so it is distorted.)

Tonight I get to go watch Joel in his school program. I am not really sure what is going on but I think it is the bilingual program and Joel is one of three cavemen. He is probably one of the tallest in the second grade. I think it will be fun. He will be well represented. We will make an evening of it.

The wedding plans in progress. The invitation list is in progress. Invitations have been sponsored by one of Gaby's family friends. The food is now lined to grill, moms to make the sides, more moms and sisters doing cakes. Shirts and dresses bought for the men and little girls. The yard is coming together. We have discussed where to stand, where to sit, where to eat.....all good. We will continue to work at it but several things have been planted and are being kept. I need to start my new plants on a vitamin and fertilizer program.

And me....I have started a diet routine! Wish me success!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Our Family is Still Growing

Well, if you have a facebook account you know all the gossip on Caleb and Gaby. A summer wedding is in the plans now with three possible dates being considered.

Months ago several of my family members sat around my parents table (minus the young couple) and made predictions for a summer wedding. Each of us took a date on the calendar and made our bets....while actually, we just each announced a date we wanted and no money was actually put down. BUT the date that is their first choice (June 20th) is the one I was betting on. Still time will tell. It is no surprise to any of us watching these twos that marriage was in the plans. And what a great addition to our family Gaby will make. I feel so fortunate that each of my children-in-law are wonderful choices for my children and I love them all dearly. Each is different....but all seek God.

My prayers have included my children, grandchildren, and extended family in particular for years. My prayers for Caleb have been very specific for quite a while but in recent years very, very specifically about the young woman God was preparing to be his bride. Fortunately Gaby and her parents were praying the same prayers for her.

We welcome her to our family with so much love.

That makes two we will be adding to our family in 2009.
In November Carl, Lisa, Reese and Pearson will be welcoming a new member to their family. Babies are always so much fun. Carl and Lisa have such sweet babies. A new baby will be such a welcome addition to our family.

My cup runneth over.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another Cup of Coffee

Here I sit again with a leisurely cup of coffee and reflect on a great week that has passed. I crammed in only good things this week and the only regret I have is having to deal with heavy traffic although I did alright even with that.
  • The weekend began with a great visit with Leann and Eric while they took refuge under my roof while the rest of their family was on a camp-out.
  • Monday before daylight Linda and I made a day trip to Houston as buyers for the shop and oh, is that ever fun! I'd quit my day job to do that for a fraction of the pay! We are going to have that shop so girl-ed up Caleb will have to hire me. We got bracelets that dangle, bracelets for teachers, bracelets for sisters, bracelets that say I love you, bracelets that have scriptures, bracelets that support our sons overseas, bracelets for our granddaughters and bracelets for the teenagers....just for fun...we got bracelets! We even found a couple of them in Spanish. We found more turquoise, and sterling silver jewelry, we found tiaras and fun bangling necklaces and a few counter top jewelry stands to crowd the counter. OH-HO! How much fun is that?
  • Tuesday and Wednesday again Linda and I got up early before dark and headed to visit our grandmother in east Texas. We sat at her feet and visited with her, drank coffee at her side and laughed with her and with my Uncle Grady and Aunt Patsy. The countryside is beautiful up there. Everything is greening up and even in the early afternoon with the sunlight on the rolling green hills a light fog lay under the tree branches and cows grazed on tender shoots....a very bucolic setting....the sort of thing that inspires artists to paint.
  • Back home on Thursday, I spent my day working in the shop for Caleb while he went to SA with Gaby. So while I was there of course, I rearranged a few items, did inventory of the new purchases we made and got more jewelry on display.
  • Friday was my most lazy day. I spent it grocery shopping, a quick stop in the shop to add a few more touches, cleaned out a couple of closets, did some laundry, drank coffee with the family and then a birthday celebration for Matthew that evening.
  • Saturday I spent almost the entire day in my dad's shop. We cut out the tree for the busy bags to hang on and made a picket fence to go in front of it. It is going to be so cute. Now that it is cut out it needs to be primed and painted and then have it installed. I hope the location we chose will be acceptable to everyone but I know you can not please, everyone all of the time.
  • And somewhere in there I finished my third book of the series of four. And the fourth book is now sitting next to me begging me to pick it up.
So here I am. Happy! With a full week behind me and no regrets of time wasted. What fun!
Tomorrow is back to school for a few more weeks and then it will be summer vacation.
I think I can make it now.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The First Cup of Coffee

I am having my first morning cup of coffee on my spring break while I recline in my chair in my snuggly blue pajamas with my cat pawing at my left side, an old movie on television and my laptop in my lap. It is still dark outside and cold and wet (Thank you, God for the rain...even the little bit that it is.) and I have a strong desire to yell for the others to wake up and come join me.

I want to know information!
I want the guys to join me so we can talk about stuff, not that I want to make them breakfast or anything but I want them here to talk to me and tell me the exciting things or the mundane things going on in their lives.

But they sleep!

I am a goal-oriented person...not competitive but quietly a mental list person. My mental list this week during my spring break is to visit my grandmother, go to market in Houston to get upper end jewelry for the shop (and yes, that is turquoise most of it anyway), clean this house, finish reading the third book in a series of four, and work outside in my yard....maybe get to visit Cooper's nursery outside of Floresville. OH! And get my tree cut out of plywood that will be for the busy bags for our congregation's preschool children to use during church services. In order to fulfill some goals I need to sync with a few others and for gardening....warmer weather.

It is amazing how quickly the time will pass if I do not make mental notes of things to do.
I'll read while it is dark, early morning or late night;
clean house in the mornings, and do small tasks on occasion;
and work outside anytime it is warm,(once started could turn into an all day thing).

Now my first cup gone; I need a another. And they are still not up.
It is going to be a great week!

*A note to our Busy Bags committee women: Bags are made, most labels are sewn on to be completed soon, have lots of crayons, stickers sheets, finger puppets, and a few books. Still need more things for the bags like maybe little match box cars and small items (quiet toys please). A small clipboard about 5 x 7 would be great to hold clean paper and colorful pencils. SOON TO BE A REALITY!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

These Random Thoughts by Gaby

Okay, all.
Welcome Gaby to our fold. I know you will love her as I do.
She has certainly added color to my life with a loving spirit and her diverse cultural experiences.
She speaks to my heart about the older women in our lives....her first post.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Okay, Jackie and Gaby, this is for you...It has been a very long time since I blogged. I see it was almost a month ago. What a long time. I have been busy, I guess.

Spring has certainly arrived! I hear that while we are basking in the sun here is south Texas in Athens, Georgia where my nephew lives he had six inches of snow just recently. I can not remember when it was really cold here this year. What a mild winter we had. I guess that is one reason I love Texas. Lately it has been too cool at night to turn on the air conditioner but too warm to turn on the heater so the windows are open.

My huge cat (baby), Einstein loves to sleep on the bed next to me but he also, likes to have the freedom to decide where and when he comes and goes. I let him. I never allowed my children as much freedom as this cat seems to have. You have heard the saying "dogs have owners, cats have staff". I think it applies here.

At night he wants out and stands by the back door and rushes out at the first opportunity. He'll be out there for a little while and then he will come scratching on the window to let him in upstairs.
Usually, I am sleeping when he scratches the window.
The sound wakes me,
I get up,
walk in the dark to the door,
open the sliding glass door,
Einstein sniffs around the door as if trying to sniff out danger,
if he decides it is all clear he then slowly enters,
I slide the door closed,
I go climb back in bed fall asleep again.
This has been a routine now for a long time. In fact, Einstein has scratched a hole in the screen. First it was just a small tear in the screening and then I noticed it was about the size of a quarter or larger.

The warmth of the night invites sleeping with the windows open. The air conditioner was on downstairs and the windows open upstairs so the door between the floors was closed. Einstein came up with me while I prepared to go to bed. He curled up in his usual spot next to me and fell asleep . The next morning as I was getting ready for school I wondered where the big cat was. He could not have gotten out himself with the door closed and I did not remember getting up during the night to let him out. My mind focused on preparing for school, I just did not worry over him.

Last night Einstein rushed outside before I went to bed. I knew he would come scratching on the window upstairs soon so went on to bed. It did not take me but a few minutes before I was sound asleep. Suddenly an unfamiliar noise woke me. The sound came from outside....or was it inside? It was close and to my right side near the window, a strange ripping scratchy sound. Jumping straight up in bed and looking toward the sound I was startled to see a huge cat entering the house through the giant hole in the screen. It looked like the lion in the opening credits on those old black and white Tarzan movies.

Spring cleaning will include replacing some screens this year, I guess.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Week of Love Conclusion

Today is another Valentine's Day and again I have followed the pattern of success and expect a wonderful evening with our parents and my siblings and spouses. I gave bags of candy to each of my children's families and actually sent cards to my grandchildren on time this year....and am depending on the post office to deliver them on time. I have planned a meal, desserts and taken the focus off of me this year and placed it on others....because I have found it truly is more blessed to give than it is to receive.

Living a life of love daily is more rewarding than a life of regret or a life of resentment.
At the end of my life when I stand before God I don't want to have to try to explain a broken marriage....
"well, he never brought me flowers......"

Face it! No one can love you perfectly or as much as you want.....only God can do that.

I have learned:
....that if you expect something you had better have communicated your expectations because he can not read your mind.
....that if you plan something you need to be sure it is in his plans. too.
....that the sexes have different ideas of how to express love.
....and that the problem with us begins with me.
....I can only change me and if I plan to change him I need to be prepared for disappointment.
....and that life is better with him than without him.
....for him to feel love I had better learn his love language (take the quiz The Five Love Languages)

So for this day of love I wish for you a lifetime of loving.
Happy Valentine's Day.

Saying I love you should really mean I have found in you a person whom I respect and find qualities that I can appreciate and have chosen to treat you lovingly for the rest of my life, putting your concerns and happiness ahead of mine.

And thanks for hanging in there with me.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Week of Love (Continued Part 5)

.....Another year and I planned to get it right this time. But no big surprise gifts to be misunderstood, no more stars in my eyes as to what romance is, and no room for resentment....this year WILL be different.
After all I had enough practice by now on how not to do it.
The odds were in my favor....right?

On Sunday afternoon Holly and I started off by making the candy centers and sugar cookies and dipped the centers as time permitted during the week. I put together a great menu for our special supper together ended with the creme de la creme dessert....a new recipe I found that looked especially intriguing...a chocolate ganache cake.

In the approaching days I greeted him with a special measure of enthusiasm each day, looked at him while he talked, listened to his more time, sat next to him on the couch while we watched our big screen TV after the meal and we held hands....while he slept.

The evening of Valentine's Day we invited our parents in to share our evening with us. I can not remember the conversation but I remember the love that flowed around that table and the smiles and laughter. If I received flowers or candy I can not remember them either now but what I do know is that the good feeling lasted for a very long time.

....."OH, BOY!"
We got it right!

To be continued....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Week of Love (Continued Part 4)

...Somewhere between the candy hearts and the broken hearts love happened.

The problem with love is the Hollywood packaging we buy into. We are led to believe it is all flutters and giggles and romance but really .............
love is that thing that follows.....
that grows from the first day you were attracted to each other and ripens and ferments over the years.

So I turned off the soap operas and closed the sexy romance novels forever and closed that chapter in my life and began to look at the older man who sat across from me and saw the young man I loved....imperfect just as I am, aging as gracefully as we can, silver streaking our hair, lines around our eyes.....

Valentine's Day this year would be really special. I decided to buy the guy something really big and something he would love....a big screen TV.

What guy would not like that?
Men like the noisiest trucks,
the most powerful guns,
the grungiest boots ....
I saved up enough money, watched for the sales, talked to salesmen, made my purchase and arranged delivery on Valentine's Day.

I could hardly contain myself with excitement over my secret. I knew he would love it.
It was big....not the biggest available, but as big as our space would allow without building on.....
The day came and with the help of the two young men I had convinced to assist me it was placed in it's corner and connected for use.

He walked in,
me:all smiles and excited,
he looked at the TV and said, "What did you do?"

So excited and proud of myself for doing such a good thing for my husband, I said, "Happy Valentine's Day. I bought this for you."

He looked at it and then disagreed, '"You bought that for yourself so you can watch your HG stuff on it."
He did have a slight smile on his face as he accused me of making the purchase for myself but the statement was what he truly believed and it was the farthest thing from the truth.

I protested his statement but to no avail. My enthusiasm began to fade and I felt unappreciated and unloved.

All I really wanted was his appreciation for my efforts or to hear him praise my ability to surprise him, or offer some words to make me feel important to him...he didn't even need to buy anything for me if he had played his hand better. Instead, he had insulted me, been unappreciative of my gift to him and to make things even worse he was empty handed.

My love bucket had a huge leak in it and I no longer felt his love flowing into it.

....the day was not over yet and realizing that this day was taking a turn for the worse he made a hurried trip to town in search of something to sooth my hurt feelings, returning with a package of wrapped carnations from HEB's floral department. Taking the flowers from his hand I plunged them into a vase of water, I thanked him somewhat unenthusiastically and continued preparing the evening meal.

Oh, how difficult relationships can be.
Why did the marriage license not come with an instruction manual?

To be continued....

A Week of Love (Continued Part 3) the business of being a wife and mother got well under way the responsibilities became heavier and heavier and I was often physically tired and emotionally drained.... just a couple of the side effects of having a family if a list exists.

The poor man who loved me.
In my eyes
....He did not come home early enough,
....he did not take me places often enough,
....he did not send me flowers,
....he did not say the things I wanted to hear,
....or do the things I wanted him to do and
....he would wait until late in the day to even think about what he was going to do for me.
After all, wasn't Valentine's Day the day for him to express his love to ME?

I was always sweet to him,
made his meals,
cleaned his clothes,
did all those special things for him
and was me who gave him children!

He would come home happy to be there and immediately his attentions were directed to the children and the squeals of the children and his roar to scare them announced his arrival to me while I worked preparing for our meal.

I showered my attention on the children more and him less.
I made sure my children had the candy or sweet cards or little gifts
him just a card.

We both grew away from each other........and the years rolled on.

We were no longer so young but still we both had much to learn.

When would we ever learn?

To be continued...

Yes, I have tears in my eyes!!!!
Okay, really they are pouring down my cheeks. Oh, kids coming in.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Week of Love (Continued)

Continued from A Week of Love

.......The years rolled by and with each coming year for a while a child was added to our brood, making money a little tight, time a little pressed and tensions a lot higher.

Valentine's Day became just another day. Grandma would always bring the little ones a red heart sucker. Promptly as the suckers were unwrapped the kids were placed in the bathtub to keep their sticky fingers off of the walls and furniture. They learned the routine and would bring me a sucker and start for the bathroom.

I guess they outgrew that.

I loved to get the children the conversation hearts.......pure sugar.

They never outgrew that.

The chocolate in heart shaped boxes started rolling in each year, usually bought by me and sometimes from a grandparent or two but were always shared by the whole family. It was not unusual to find a box of empty wrappers and crushed chocolates because someone liked only the ones with the nuts in them.

Flowers never came from a florist and back then I can not remember the store carrying flowers like they do now. If I received a flower it was picked from one of the blooming bushes in the fence rows. The first one I received graciously since I had never seen the bloom and it was a novel idea. It was a full length of a branch with many yellow brushy blooms and smelled sweet and as he gave it to me he said he thought of me as he passed by it on the tractor.

But in coming years when I began to hear the stories of all the good things the other husbands were doing for their wives I was resentful of a husband arriving empty handed late into the evening with just a little blooming stick from the fence row tucked in his pocket.

And it did not satisfy me.

It was difficult for me to recognize the sacrifices he had made of his time to keep us fed and clothed.
But I was young and had much to learn.

To be continued.

A Week of Love

I am afraid that we often set ourselves up for disappointment where our relationships are concerned. Now after many, many years of experience and a lot of growing up I am able to look back on my life, although with a bit of embarrassment, with the knowledge that I could have prevented much heartache had I just been a little wiser, learned to listen to unspoken messages, looked at the heart of the one who loved me, communicated my thoughts and expectations and been more forgiving of his shortcomings. So if you will indulge me a little while I remember some past Valentines Days we can laugh together and hopefully glean a little something from them.

Our first Valentine's Day together was as a married couple since we had only known each other for eight months total and six of those months were the dating months. We were still learning how to love each other and both full of anticipation of what we wanted from each other and here it was Valentine's Day before we fully communicated our expectations.

Being newlyweds and crazy in love I looked forward to his return home. Daily I listened for the sound of his truck rattling down our street and finally turning into our rocky driveway clattering so much it sounded like every bolt had shaken loose on the ol' Ford. By the end of the first month I could distinguish his rattle from all the other noisy trucks. Today, I was especially anxious to have our romantic evening together. I had been planning our time together for a couple of weeks. There would be a heart shaped box of chocolates for him, a romantic card professing my love and of course, I would make his favorite pie. I had planned my action!

I listened and listened for the familiar rattle and finally I could faintly hear it....still daylight out even. He clattered into the driveway, drove up nearly even with the kitchen window, without even looking in my direction slammed on his brakes, threw the truck in reverse and raced down the street in the opposite direction he had originally come.

My first clue that the evening was not planned on his part.

Shortly after he returned with a very small paper sack and in it was a package of Brach's candy corn....not even red, no flowers, no card.... nothing but candy corn.

I remember looking at the candy corn and saying, "...but this is Halloween candy, not Valentines candy."

He was so proud of himself for remembering that it was my favorite candy
.....and I was so disappointed it was not Valentine candy in a heart shaped box.

I said, "You waited so late you could not get a heart shaped box of candy?"

"Oh, sure, there were lots of them and men were grabbing them up. I could have gotten one for you but I knew you loved candy corn."

Looking back there were several things that did disappoint me about the evening but I wonder now why I could not listen to his heart. We had still been dating on Halloween. He remembered me saying then that I loved candy corn.

But I was eighteen, he was twenty-three....we had a long way to go..

To be continued....

Friday, January 30, 2009


Another week down. I look forward to each weekend with great expectation but I fear I am wishing my life away when I should be enjoying each day for its special blessings.

As a young girl I used to think "when I am a teenager I will be grown and then my life will begin".

Then as a teenager I thought "when I get married then I will really be an adult and my life will be perfect".

The years rolled by and I married and became a young wife and I thought "when I have children then my life will be complete".

Then as a wife and young mother I thought "when I can have a house of my own with enough room for my children to run and play and have their own space then my life will be easier and I will be content".

Then as a home owner, wife and mother I thought "when the children are grown and married I will have my life back again and have time to do all the things I have put off doing".

Then my children grew, married and I had everything I could ever dream of including a job with responsibilities and then I thought "Saturday will be wonderful. I can clean out my crowded closets, wash my many clothes, organize my over crowded pantry and start a new painting, watch an old movie on TCM and read that book I have so little time to read, visit with my children, grandchildren and family and find time to go shop for groceries."

And it was not so....
but it is good.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Looking Pretty

Today as I stepped outside of my classroom into the outside world one of my students called out to me from nearby, "Hi, Mrs. Royal. You sure look good today."

Now...I am no dummy!

This was afternoon and I know I look tired and the hair that I have severely pulled back this morning is now trying to make an escape from the combs that are holding it back. The wiry gray hairs that I can no longer deny are popping out all over my head, the lipstick is long gone with nothing but a faint smile left over, I am still carrying the extra weight from the past year and my clothes are no prettier today than they were last week when I wore them. So how do you explain the random compliment?

I am the teacher; he is the student.

But nonetheless, it brought a smile to my face, reminded me of my own children when they were young and cute....still are cute...not so young anymore (sorry, kids). My baby turned 30 this past November. My oldest grandchild will be eleven this year! Whoa!

When Caleb was just three or four he saw his grandmother returning home from a day teaching first graders. From across the parking area he yelled out to her, "Grandma, you look so pretty today!"

What a charmer! By the way, he is still working his charms on the older ladies and at least one young one!

But that aside, it also brings to mind my experiences as a high school student. I was taking freshman English with Mrs. Groce, who unfortunately possessed the sharpest nose I had ever seen which in my opinion on first encounter made her pretty weird looking. Looking back now I realize that she must have been a fairly young woman at that time. I don't remember much about her class but I do remember that by the time the year ended I loved her and thought she was one of the most beautiful women I knew without even considering her actual features.

Truly when you love someone you view their heart, the inner beauty of a person shines through...the reverse can also be true.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Art of Boredom

Years ago a friend of mine , the mother of five or six children each about 2 years apart made the comment that sometimes she loved to sit and listen to the clock tick. We all laughed when she said it as if we all understood exactly what she meant but as the years have gone by and our lives became hectic I began to understand that statement on a completely different level.

There is something magical about listening to the clock tick. Something comforting....comfortable....calming....a music all it's own.

The fear of boredom is epidemic among my students and it spreads among them as fast as the news of the latest fight in the hallways. The kids are selling this attitude to the parents who are clamoring to keep the kids occupied with every minute of their awake time.

I used to take it as a personal insult when a student of mine would look up at me with dull eyes and state "I'm bored". The first year of teaching I worked to make activities more fun, gave them more choices, tried to keep them more involved and worried over it all. But soon I began to notice it had nothing to do with me or the activity at hand but rather the student himself. I can still remember the worst of those students who complained of boredom with a vengeance. There was something lacking in them....the ability to find contentment in the absence of entertainment, or the twiddling of fingers or ....the doodling in their minds...they lacked creativity! Now I smile as I give them my pat answer to "I'm bored." and say, "you bring that with you. It is up to you to learn how to deal with that." There is something special in the quiet moments of the day that allow you to stop and reflect on the day, or let you mind just go blank and use your eyes and ears to communicate with you or let your imagination run wild. There is nothing to be feared that is for sure.

I was sent a link recently that expresses just those ideas. I hope all you mothers, grandmothers and teachers out there will stop and read the articles linked below in the quiet moments of your day. It may help you to raise more creative, happier children.
The Blessing of Boredom (Click on Title)
And don't neglect reading this one either.
The Joy of Boredom. (Click on Title)

I hope today you find time to cherish the moments you can sit and relax while you listen to the sounds of nature, children talking in the distance, laughter.....the ticking of the clock.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Teaching the Arts

It is a quiet morning...the end of the first week back at school (after the holidays) which must be the longest week in the history of education!

I pray every morning that I can get through to my students, inspire them to learn, bring out the genius in them, all while they behave themselves in an appropriate way. Even so sometimes teaching art to a large group of high schoolers is like herding a bunch of cats while a bunch of chimpanzees are loose among them .

Now that most of the boys tower above me and whose voices are deeper and louder than mine it is a most challenging job for an old woman which I think I have become (most assuredly I am to them whether I am or not). For the most part I am very pleased with my students but every now and then there will be one or two who want to buck the system and have to be exterminated.....I mean....ah, dealt with. But nonetheless I have students whose art works are turning out to be wonderful. I would like to share some of their work with you so you can see what students are doing in their classrooms when they put their minds to it and sometimes while they are not but happy accidents will happen and a persistent art teacher is usually present keeping in mind that sanity is not always necessary when teaching art. These are unfinished works so if there is a large blank space it is probably just the area that they have not gotten to and the white of the paper is showing through. As they become finished I will post them again so you can see the final results. (Actually, by teaching I am helping keep Caleb in business because when they finish their work the parents are so proud of their darlin's they rush down to Caleb's shop and have it framed. Yeah!)

Art I students are working with collage. Collage being the use of found materials like magazines and advertisments. My students have been instructed to tear up the magazine pages into little pieces and glue them into place. This is a challenging project because it requires searching for pages with the color you need and then merging the little pieces together in such as way that it gradually changes the values as is necessary. And since my budget that has not seen an increase in the last sixteen years although the enrollment has more than doubled and class size increased by 10 students on average recycling is not just environmentally responsible it has become necessary.
The following pictures are all art I students work and the last picture is a close up of the one before it so you can see how the artwork is created.

Roosters Zebra

Parrots Waterlily Detail of Waterlily Below

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Lake of Expectations

I dreamed a dream.

It was a well lit evening with the wash of color across the evening sky, just the remnants of the evening sunset and there we were, the family I knew as a child running around playing and the sounds of laughter and people talking in the distance . And Clint as he was before the accident crippled him for life and I fishing in the Lake of Expectations that mirrored the wash of color from the skys. Occasionally we would glimpse movement below the surface. Our lines danced out onto the surface of the water and back again in rhythmic movements time and again fishing on the surface with us just enjoying the moment.

Suddenly Gary, the child as he was before his accident was beside me saying,
"We are leaving now. I need my turkey you stored for me in your freezer."

And there was the car loaded with all of the family members smiling, laughing and waving goodbye, ready for the journey.....I handed Gary the package I had stored in the heart of my freezer for him and cried and said it was too soon to go, please stay a little longer. But they couldn't and all smiles and waves left me filled with happiness and sadness all merged into one,
standing there next to the edge of the Lake of Expectations watching them drive away.

Life is short.
Our lives are all rolled up, intertwined with each others, the past, the present, the living and the dead, the healthy and the lame.....
Suddenly the time has passed and we are looking back on days gone by.
Days roll into years and years into decades.
The fairness of this life is that equally none of us have any guarantees, any assurances of more....all we have is the moment we are in. Like the cup we choose for our morning coffee. We pick up a cup thinking it is a perfect cup for the occasion and we begin to fill and then we see that it has some flaws, a little crack in the lip, a little chip out of the inside of the handle that rubs my finger just so it causes a little irritation but not enough to stop me from drinking. I add whatever I choose, sometimes, it tastes a little bitter and sometimes, it is sweet but it still gives me a little buzz when I drink it.

So at the start of this new year consider the moment.
Make it count.

Love others,
Smile at strangers,
Give assistant to someone who needs it as you see it.
Make time to see those you love,
Say the words "I love you".
Be a reflection of Christ,
Choose to be the person you know lives in your heart.

Happy New Year!