Friday, May 30, 2008

Nap Time

Nap Time
8.5" x 11"
A quiet afternoon, sun shining through the blinds, air conditioner humming as it cools the air. Soft music playing behind the drone of voices from an old movie, turned down low, on the tv set. Cats finding their places on the bed, ready for a nap, and resting up to play all night.
A loose fitting dress that barely touches the body.
No shoes to put added pressure on the feet.
Hair tumbling across a ruffled pillow.
Smooth sheets and a fluffy comforter to support and enfold the body.
No rush to go to school or work, to get a job done.
The eyes close as the head falls forward, then jerks up, only to fall again.
Everything can wait.
An afternoon of sleep.
One aloof cat stays out of reach, but her cold nose touches my feet. She does not like to be held or touched, but she stays close. This is her place at the foot of the bed.
A younger cat is also aloof and a bit wild. He doesn't want to be held or touched. He stays close, but just out of reach. He waits until he thinks I am asleep to curl up behind my knees.
The ruler of the house, insists on sharing my pillow. He likes to be held and loved. His place is at the head of the bed, near my shoulders.
They have their morning naps, their afternoon naps, their evening naps, and start out to sleep at bedtime. But, just wait until the wee morning hours. Then they are wide awake and into everything!
How good it is, to be able to take an afternoon nap! Like the cats, I'll be wide awake to play all night!
My great-grandfather lived to be 94. Part of his daily ritual was to go home from his store to have dinner at noon, followed by a 15 minute nap. He also had a daily walk.
And he ate well. Not diet food, but real food. A dozen eggs for breakfast, with ham, sausage, or bacon, oatmeal, biscuits, jelly, butter, coffee with real cream, the works! And he was a small framed man. Didn't do heavy work like plowing, as people like farmers did. He was a cobbler, then had a grocery store.
The nap sounds like a good idea, but, the trouble with that is that, once I finally get to sleep, I can't wake up so fast. If I wake up after just a short nap, I don't feel rested at all, but, instead, I'm jittery and tired.
I didn't like to take naps as a child, being forced to do it. Again, if I was going to sleep, I had to stay that way for a while. Listening to the hum of a fan, or the drone of airplanes, or going for a ride in a car, was a pretty sure way to get me to sleep.
But, when I could read to my children at nap time, you know who fell asleep first! Me!
Those of you who are out of school now, will probably put sleeping late or taking a nap to catch up on lost sleep, at the top of your list of things to do.
I hope that you get a good nap this weekend!
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Thursday, May 29, 2008

School's Out

Field Trip To Houston

8" x 10"


"School's out! School's out! Teacher let the mules out!"

Shouts rang out and echoed all through the three story school building, all the way down the sidewalk, and down Burnett Street, all the way to homes and downtown as soon as the final bell rang at Calvert High. Everyone waited quietly, hearts pounding with excitement, waiting to hear that ear-splitting bell ring for the last time of the year.

It was hot, as if Mother Nature knew that, when school was out, it was summer, no matter what officials who made up the calendar said.

Teachers worked quitely, sorting papers, while the students sat at their desks, still not allowed to talk.

When that bell finally did ring, there was just a moments hesitation as students wondered if the teacher would insist on dismissing them that day, as usual, or would it be okay to just break out and run.

It didn't take long for the flood of papers, kept so carefully during the year, to line the street, all the way from the front door of the school to town. (Of course, some people were proud of their work and kept it in their notebooks, and others were just plain scared to make a mess like that!)

People who lived in the houses along the street didn't look forward to this last day and the mess that they were left with in their yards.

George and the trash truck would soon come along and George would be sweeping with his wide broom, collecting the paper and throwing it into the back of the big, rounded truck. Of course, since he was also the janitor at school, he would be left to clean all that up, too. But, he always did it quietly, and with a little smile, just tolerating all those kids over the years.

With only one older man to take care of the school building, the grounds, and collect trash for the town, it's amazing to think how clean and well kept everything was.

Since he was older, and they probably couldn't get anyone else to do as much for as little pay as they gave George, I think that his afternoon naps down in the boiler room, were also tolerated.

During the time of WWII, wasting anything was not good, and paper, like everything else was used wisely, and recycled for the War Effort. There probably was not the ritual blizzrd of throwing all the year's school work to the wind after the final bell, during those years. Since I was in elementary school then, we didn't have a massive build up of papers that we had to keep all year, like we did in classes like Mrs. Brannon's English class in high school.

From the other side of the desk, the teachers would be just as anxious for that last bell as the students, but they couldn't show it. (Although I have known teachers who evacuated the building as fast as, or even ahead of, the students!) Usually, though, they had more days of work ahead of them, winding up the year and getting ready for the next.

The above drawing is from my sketchbook, and shows one trip that I took to the Houston Zoo with my oldest grandson's class a few years back. His teacher sat behind me, sideways, and talked to the teacher across the aisle from her. (Good thing that the bus didn't have to stop suddenly or she might have been in the floor, or in the front through the windshield!)

I thought that trip might make a good little story. The little boy across the aisle from me spent most of the trip, staring at me, except for the time that he fell asleep.

One thing that stands out in my mind about that trip was how miserably hot it was on the, supposedly, air conditioned buses. It was like a steam bath in there. We finally opened some windows to get a little air, but the bus driver told us not to do that. Some of us toward the back cheated and kept the window open a crack to get a little fresh air. Everyone was miserable. A lot of kids took a nap, with sweat dampening their hair. I thought I was going to pass out! The air conditioning only seemed to be putting out humidity, like one of those water cooled fans that we used to have. (Didn't work too well in our high humidity!) I think they had the temperature set, really high. The bus driver's area seemed comfortable, but the rest of the bus was not.

The picture shows how it was in the morning, on the way to the city, before it got so terribly hot.

I hope that you have some good field trip memories, and some good memories from school, especially fresh ones, if you are winding up your school year.

For this year, I remember getting up early to make breakfast for my grandson as the sun rose, then started painting after I wished him well and he rushed off to school that day.

I remember struggling to make decent French Toast, and burning cinnamon toast, and undercooking regular toast. We tried oatmeal and various things, until there was a period when he didn't want to eat anything in the morning. He was too nervous about going off to school.

There were nights of listening to him read and discussing stories with him, of sitting with him while he wrote multiplication tables and spelling words, or filled out papers, and of going over cards with famous artists and information about them as he prepared for Picture Memory at UIL. I thought that it might help if I wrote those multiplication tables with him, so I wrote them too. ( I still have to look up some of them! I'll never learn those things! My system of counting dots, which formed shapes or patterns, got me through.)

Sometimes children remember by hearing things, so I tried to be sure that he heard things, as well as being able to see them.

There were nights of working on special projects, more recently of making a poster and doing research about George Washington and looking for pictures of people in my grandson's family who looked like him. (Good thing that I have scanned all these family pictures as I work on family history or he wouldn't have had any family pictures to take to school!)

He was excited to get the recorder in music class, that they will use next year, and listen to him play the notes of the first song that they learned, "Hot Cross Buns".

There was anticipation of the 4th grade music program of Celtic music, just after St. Patrick's Day, that we looked forward to for months.

And looking at all those papers that he brought home each day, and going over them with him. Of hearing about the HOSTS person that met with him and looking at the stamps and stickers that my grandson got with him.

And hearing about their field trips to Sam Houston's home in Huntsville, and the symphony at A&M.

I've tried to sit with him, and let him talk , and reassure him, about his uncertainty about going to school each day. (I was like that too, I guess.) We've looked for good things and friends.

I saw the disappointment in him when the school had the students sell things, and he couldn't participate. And that's a sore spot with me. Having children go out and sell junky items to make money for the school is just a no-no. So unfair to kids who don't have anyone to sell to, who don't have money, and it's also dangerous. Many people just don't have the money to buy that sort of thing. The school should be providing the money for the students. If they belong to an organization that wants to do something like a bake sale at a store, that is one thing. Working as a group is okay, for some club, but putting out prizes that kids can't possibly earn is really wrong.

We don't buy those things ourselves, and don't know anyone who will. And, he is not allowed to just go around to strangers and try to sell them something. So, it is an impossible situation.

Adminstrators could do with less fancy offices and equipment, and lower pay, and that sort of thing, or they should do their jobs and go out and find the money that they need for the schools and the children.

We have ended another year when the students didn't learn to write. The teachers don't have time to teach those necessary skills because they are too busy with the TAKS test. So, I plan to be teaching calligraphy/handwriting this summer. That is the same method that we used to learn to write. And high school and college teachers wonder why kids can't write! It shouldn't be left to the parents to teach children how to write. Many of them can't do it, or don't have the time. But, it looks like that is the only way that kids are going to learn how to write, these days.

Hope that you have some wonderful plans for summer, which starts tomorrow here!

With high prices on everything, a lot of people may do what we do , this year. Stay at home and try to keep costs down! I can always find a lot to do around home. Just as long as we have plenty of paper, pencils, some glue, colors, paint, and the internet!


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Look at my sidebar to see some upcoming events. The Texas Scottish Festival is right around the corner. And, we're thinking ahead to the 19th World Wide Sketch Crawl on Saturday June 21!


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Simple Print

Angel From A Crystal Star
6" x 8"
block print
Summer vacation is just a few days away. At least school is out here for the students on Thursday. I guess that I should have posted this project during school time, but, maybe, if you are looking for a Vacation Bible School project, or something for your kids to do at home, this one is pretty simple and kids seem to like it. Teachers may find this useful for another school year.
Personally, I don't think that I have the patience to do a long printmaking project with traditional materials, so this worked great for students, and for me. I have done the more traditional, longer methods, but it is not one of my favorite things since it really tries my patience.
1. old newspapers to cover work surface
2. pencil or ball point pens (old pens that no longer work are best!) You can even use a nail, or anything that has a point that you can cut into styrfoam with.
3. styrfoam trays (like the ones that are used to put meat , tomatoes, etc. on at the grocery stores. ) I made friends with the butcher who let me have a good supply of these for students, and also you might be able to buy them for a small cost. I've also seen them offered in art supply catalogues from time to time. They work great for palettes, and other things too!
4. Scratch paper
5. Brayer (you could also use a spoon or other old object for applying the ink)
6. Rolling pin (an old wooden rolling pin would be best. You don't want to use a rolling pin that you would later use for cooking! )
7. Block Printing Ink (your choice of colors) I like to use the water based Speedball Block Printing inks. Starting with one color on one design as I did above is the easiest.
8. Block Printing paper
I like to use Speedball Block printing paper, but you can use anything you like or might have. Even a heavy paper towel! You just want to be careful to avoid using a paper that is so fragile that it will tear, or one that is so thin that the ink will go through easily.
9. Paper towels and something like Wisk, hand soap, Windex, or even Amway's LOC to clean up with.
10. Scissors
11. (optional) If you have some kind of rack to place the prints on while they dry, that would be good. If you don't have a special drying rack for pictures, you could use something like an old shelf from a closet, one of those metal affairs, a plastic milk crate-the box type with the holes in it, or you could even hang a clothesline away from traffic, and use clothespins to hang the prints. Drying time isn't all that long, if you use the water based inks. Usually they are ready the next day.
1. Use scratch paper and pencil to draw your design and plan. Remember that all letters and numbers have to be backward or, when you print, they will look like you are looking in a mirror!
2. Cover your work space with newspapers and gather all materials.
3. Trim the edges or lip off your styrfoam tray (plate)
4. Draw your design from the plan onto a styrfoam tray. (plate)
5. Once you are sure of your design, use pencil, pen, or other tool to deepen the lines in your plate. Some lines may also need to be wider. Varying the lines makes them more interesting.
Be sure that you don't press too hard or you will go all the way through the styrfoam, leaving a hole. If that happens, work with it, and make something out of it. Or, you may want to start over.
6. Use a seperate styrfoam try to put your ink in. Squeeze out some on the stryfoam tray, then spread it out fairly evenly with a spoon or your brayer. You don't want it too deep or too thin.
You may have to test your brayer in it, then spread that on some scrap paper in order to know just how much ink to use.
7. Ink your plate. To do this, use the ink of your choice on your brayer and cover the plate (design on styrfoam tray) with an even coat of ink.
8. Print. Place the inked plate on the block printing paper. Try to center it, leaving a nice border, depending on the size of your plate and the paper. Also be careful to not wiggle the plate once it has been placed on the paper.
9. Roll. Apply gentle, smooth pressure by rolling the rolling pin, or a spoon, over the plate. You can protect your tool by using some newspaper on top of the plate. That will minimize any paint that might come out from under the plate.
As an alternative to the rolling pin, you can use a spoon and just rub, in a circular motion, over the plate. You do want to be sure that all of the areas on the plate have touched the paper, evenly.
10. Pull the print. Carefully pull the plate away from the paper. It should be a bit sticky. Pull from one edge out, slowly.
11. Hang the print to dry.
12. Once the print is dry, use a pencil under it to write the title in the center, your name on the left, the date and print number on the right.
13. If you desire using more colors in a print, you will need to make a seperate plate for each color. This becomes a bit more complex, but will work just fine, once you plan your design, and have done a simple one color print to understand how printmaking works.
Another thing that you can do is to add touches of color with a brush and acrylic paint, watercolors, or any medium that you would like to use, depending on what you are trying to create.
14. You can use this technique to make cards, book plates, pictures, stationary, etc.
15. To clean up, I like to use Wisk, or Amway's LOC, and Windex. That is for tables and brayers. The water based ink should come off hands with just soap and water.
In my design above, I was demonstrating this for a class. Somehow, a hole appeared in my plate, so I decided that I could use this for a Book Plate, and just leave that area blank. I planned to use calligraphy to fill in my name, book title, or whatever I wanted to add later.
This is one of my drawings of girls that I have always liked to do, but this one was done as a print, with black ink.
Once a color has been used on the tray, it can be washed off, dried, and another color can be used. They can be reused as long as desired, as long as the tray doesn't crack from too much use or pressure.
If you should decide to use oil based block printing ink, you will also need solvents to clean your plate and equipment. Look at the tube of ink or check out what is recommended for use with oil based inks. After using the oil based things, I still use my usual cleaning products to remove the solvents from tables and tools. You will also need to see if you can use them on styrfoam, as that may make your plate dissolve! Test out a little on some styrfoam scrap, or you might just opt to use a piece of wood or linoleum for printing. And that is going to involve a few more tools than I have listed. A pencil or pen won't be strong enough. But, that is another project.
I hope that you enjoyed this project and will join my mailing list!
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Stork Watch
I have added another link to a stork cam, this one has sound and can be enlarged to full screen. You can hear the storks making noises, as well as background noises of the area. This one is in the Przygodzice nest. There is another link to it, too, that I have been watching, but it doesn't have sound.
Sadly, we seem to have lost one little baby stork, as there are only four now. But those left are really something to watch. One baby, especially, is very active, and seems like he is going to start running or flying as fast as he can!
The Ustron nest that we watched so much last year doesn't seem to have but one adult stork, still, and no eggs. This is the one where all the babies died. Maybe the parents knew that there had been illness there, or they were sad from losing their babies. The nest was cleaned, sanitized, etc. to make it safe for the storks this year. Maybe that was just too much human contact and the storks won't come back there.
I don't know. I grew up hearing that, if you touch a bird nest, or a baby bird, the parents would not come back, or wouldn't take care of the baby anymore.
Maybe that was a story that adults told us to make us leave bird nests and wild things alone, or maybe it is true.
Perhaps something happened to one of the storks, or both. Maybe they decided to start a new home elsewhere. Maybe they got a divorce and moved on. I don't have any idea, but we have been discussing them a bit on a Polish genealogy list. Lots of people enjoy watching the storks.
I hope that all the babies stay well and will fly off safely into their adult lives, when that time comes.
Sketch Crawl
Look at the top of my page, in the sidebar, and notice the link that I have added to Sketch Crawl. You can now click on their logo and go to the Sketch Crawl web site.
I hope that everyone will join in!
If you are in this area and want to be a part of the Sketch Crawl on June 21, let me know! I hope that we can "Draw the Brazos Valley" and get a lot of participation that day.
Look under Bryan/College Station under Forums for the 18th and 19th Sketch Crawls and you will find me there. You can register and add a note there under my post, or you can register yourself.
If you are in a different area, you can register there, too. Start a group from where ever you are, if you want. Just plan to sketch that day, for at least a little while. And let someone know about it, probably on the SC site, or let me know. Groups, solo, families, beginners, students, adults, professional-anyone, anywhere. And, remember, it is FREE!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Salute To Those Who Serve

7.5" x 10.5"
I hope that you were able to observe and participate in some sort of ceremonies to honor those who served, and still serve, our country this Memorial Day.
I haven' t heard of any events here, but I'm sure that the veterans organizations probably did something. Public school students had a holiday, and some places were closed. With the university out for the semester, and so many people gone, including the Corps of Cadets, there probably weren't a lot of people to participate in anything. I know that some WWII vets make it a point to put out flags on veterans' graves in various cemeteries.
With gas prices rising, along with everything else, I'm sure that a lot of people cut back on their outings, celebrations, food, etc. this year.
If there had been a spectacular celebration, or even a simple one, we probably would have done just what we did. Stay home, draw and paint, watch war era movies and the ceremony at Arlington on tv, and have a bowl of tomato soup. Tonight it will be a small pot of spaghetti for supper. Certainly not the fare that we hear about or read about on sites that tell us about food and recipes.
In thinking about Memorial Day, I don't really have big memories of any particular time. Daddy may have cooked barbeque, in his later years. He liked to do that. Most years, though, I remember having a teacher workday and spending the time trying to get ready for the end of the school year. I think that I remember going to a nice parade in Waco to honor our service men some years back. I do enjoy parades and that one was impressive. Lots of equipment and military personnel.
I haven't known a lot of people who were in the military, and we didn't have very many in our family who served.
But I do know that we cannot do enough to honor and show our appreciation to those who are willing and able to protect our country. Our troops today deserve the very best that is possible. Young people often go into the military in hopes of receiving further education, opportunities, and training. That certainly should be available to them, as should decent pay, homes, excellent medical care, and all the equipment and items that they need. And opportunities for them when they have come home.
I was shocked to watch the PBS special called "Carrier" and hear that the people on that ship have to pay for their own meals, out of their meager pay. Troops having to purchase their own equipment, and having their families live in substandard housing, having to get food stamps because the pay is so low, while they are out there, working hard and risking their lives and well-being. Just doesn't seem right.
I do know that we have to have a strong military, and it's wonderful that we have those who can serve.
And we are so lucky to live in a place, where we can live with the freedoms that so many have struggled and died for over the years.
Thank you, to all who have served. We salute and honor you today.
"Salute", above, was done on 140 lb. watercolor paper using Winsor Newton watercolors and a touch of white acrylic.
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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Grandpa's Sword

Grandpa's Sword
8.5" x 11"
I cannot remember what the handle or part that the soldier held it with looks like, exactly. I just remember that my mother described it as rather plain, nothing fancy. I do remember the blade well, where each tiny scratch was, what it felt like when I held it in my small hands, what it smelled like as took it from its hiding place from between Mama's quilts in the bottom part of the couch that made into a bed.
I remember it was silver, and cold , and heavy. Very smooth. It had that pungent metallic smell, combined with silver polish. And I wondered if it had been used to draw blood during battle, or if it had killed anyone. I wanted to know if this was the sword that had crippled Grandpa, or if he had used it to defend himself. Or maybe it was just used for show, as part of his uniform, and his fighting had been done with a rifle.
"Mama, was Grandpa in the Civil War?" I asked.
"Umhmm," Mama answered as she was on her knees, scrubbing the floor.
"Mama, what happened to Grandpa's knees?" I asked, daring to ask something personal, something that I thought was to be discussed only between grownups.
"Umhmm," Mama went on scrubbing the hardwood floor in the living room.
"Mama, did Grandpa get hit behind the knees with that sword while he was in the Civil War, and that's why he walks with his knees bent?" I asked.
"Umhmmm," Mama went on with her scrubbing and turned to scrub another spot. She still had to put paste wax on the floor, on her hands and knees, then buff it with a rag to polish, after she completed the cleaning process.
I don't think she ever heard me. I think that her thoughts were far away, or she was engrossed in the task at hand, or, maybe, she really didn't want to be bothered with a bunch of questions. She just gave me a "yes" to satisfy me so I would go somewhere else.
So, as I grew up, and until only recently, I was sure that Grandpa Miles, her father, had been in the Civil War and that "the sword" at our house, was the one that he was hit behind the knees with, or that he used to defend himself with during the War.
In History class in school, Mrs. Pietsch talked about the Civil War and her trip to visit battlefields during the summer. So, I piped up, telling Mrs. Pietsch, who was also a relative, that my grandfather had been in the Civil War, and that he had been wounded when he was struck behind the knees with a sword.
"Did not!" the girl sitting in front of me said and turned around to sneer at me. We had a history of argueing since we were very small. Even had spitting matches across the barbed wire fence that divided my back yard from the back yard of the house where her grandfather was renting a room.
"Did so!" I said and put my hands on my hips and sneered back at her.
"Did not!" she said.
"Did so!" I answered.
Several other students joined in, siding with her.
Mrs. Pietsch adjusted the ring in her nose (It was actually a filter type of device she wore due to sinus trouble), and told us to stop argueing and sit down. She went on with the lesson.
"Prove it!" several girls laughed as we left the classroom.
Grandpa Miles would come to visit for weeks at a time from his farm in Navarro county, until the time of WWII. Then he went to work as part of the war effort in Ft. Worth at an aircraft plant. The first thing he did with each visit, would be to get the sword out from the couch and polish it for a few days.
He also took the pendulum clock off the wall and put it on the couch beside him. He would take the clock apart, clean, oil, and adjust it and have it running just fine. But, as soon as he left town, the clock would stop. Eventually, my mother just gave it a fresh coat of paint, and painted roses with oil paint on the glass that covered the pendulum. There is a piece of paper inside the clock with a date of 1853 on it. That is when my grandfather's parents were married, so we assume that it is a clock that could have been my great-grandparent's wedding present, or something that they bought after they married and moved from Alabama to Texas.
After he finished with the sword and the clock, Grandpa sharpened the hoe, the scissors, and all the knives. Then he went outside and used the hoe to trim all around the curb in front of the house.
Cooking was also something that he did while he visited, but that's another story.
His visits were all too short. I don't remember that he talked a lot, except to the grownups, but he did sing while he worked. All those old songs like "Billy Boy", "The Midnight Special", "Froggy Went a Courtin'", and that sort of thing.
Now, I wish he would have told me about the clock and the sword, and what really happened to his legs, who was in the Civil War, and about his first wife and two daughters who died. Even my mother never could find out about them.
I always felt like Grandpa came to visit for so long when my parents were not getting along very well. I don't know that, but I got the feeling that he came to protect his little girl. There wouldn't be much argueing when he was there.
Of course, I loved for him to be there. It was nice just to sit at the table with Grandpa there, sipping his coffee from the saucer and wondering why he put his teeth in his pocket when he ate.
I loved sitting on his lap or riding his foot, when I was smaller, playing "Ride The Horsey". And he always baked something really good to eat.
I had told my classmates and teacher about the sword and I felt that they didn't believe me. I wanted them to know that I had ancestors who actually did things, too.
So, the next morning, after I had been challenged, I put my coat on to go to school, went to the couch and got the sword out from between the blankets, put it against my chest and wrapped it in my coat, carried my books in front of me, and went to school. I kept that sword against me all day until history class.
It wasn't unusual to keep my coat on. For one thing, our section of the study hall, away from the radiators, was often cold. And, I was embarrassed about my developing body, so I hid behind long hair that draped in my face, at times, and under a coat. It also came in handy the time that I had the 3 day measles and hid them under my coat, so I could go on about my business.
When we took our seats in history class, before Mrs. Pietsch came in the room, I opened my coat and took out the sword. The kids were impressed and were much nicer to me. They oooohed and aaahhhd and gathered around my desk.
Mrs. Pietsch walked in the room, and Kathryn said, "Mrs. Pietsch! Look what Cecelia brought! Her grandfather really was in the Civil War!"
Mrs. Pietsch joined the group.
"That's very nice, Cecelia. But, you really shouldn't bring such valuable things to school. You should take it home and take good care of it."
She directed me to take it to my house then, before school was out. Which was great for me! Mama wasn't at home so I put the sword back.
Mama never said a thing to me, but, soon, we made a trip to Ft. Worth to take the sword to her sister's house. She insisted that it wasn't because I took the sword to school, but, instead, said that it was because my little sister was getting into things and she was afraid that she would find it and hurt herself.
Actually, this wasn't too unusual, either, because my mother and her sister did often trade things around. One would keep something for a while, then the other would keep it.
But, this time, I never saw the sword again.
Grandpa, then Grandma died. Then my aunt, then her husband died. Their things were divided up and a son got the sword. He no longer is in contact with the family. But someone told me that the sword is in the posession of a sutler who goes to Civil War reenactments. Maybe there was more than one sword, or maybe it was sold. I don't know, but I would love to have at least a picture of the sword.
In the past few years, I have been working on family history, and trying to put down what I know from pictures to stories and fact, before it is all lost. Things like most names, dates-anything to do with numbers, did not stick with me very well. And I always thought that history was so boring! All those names and dates, of people and places that I couldn't relate to.
But, before my mother died, she was working on some family history with thoughts of getting into the DAR. At that time, she corresponded with a woman from North Carolina who was writing a book that included my mother's family, the Miles side. Mrs. Ross sent my mother a copy of her grandmother's journal kept just before, during, and shortly after the Civil War until the author died at age 29. My mother made me read it! And then I read it twice more. My mother said it sounded just like me writing. And, as I read, I could just see the places, the people, and their activities. The journal, kept by Margaret Josephine Miles Gillis, is now in the Alabama Department of Archives and History. Josephine was a sister to my great-grandfather, James DeGraffenreid Miles. And James D. Miles was the father of my grandfather, James DeGraffenreid Miles Jr. The one who limped and who lovingly polished the sword.
After my mother died, I realized that there was a lot that had not been done. I decided to label the old family pictures, and the project has grown into an effort to preserve, gather, and write our family history.
With some research, I realized that it was my great-grandfather who had been a Captain in the 7th Texas Infantry during the Civil War, not his son who came to visit us. My grandfather was much too young to have been in the Civil War! And, due to his knees, he was not able to serve in the military.
As to his knees, my younger cousin, Linda, told me a couple of years ago, that she understood that he limped because of a boyhood accident while cutting wood with an axe. And that is all we know about that.
My mother didn't seem to know, or maybe I just asked her on another day when she was thinking about something else, or just wanted to get rid of a whiney little girl.
I still wish that I had at least a picture of "the sword". I thought I could draw it or paint it, but I just cannot remember the handle. It didn't have a scabbard when we had it. But one was added later, probably by my uncle. The one he found didn't fit right, as I understand it, since it was not made for the sword.
In my drawing above, Grandpa Miles is polishing his father's Civil War sword while sitting on our couch. Beside him on the couch, I have shown the side of the pendulum clock that he is going to work on next. A can of polish and a can of oil for the clock are on the floor.
You know, I never dreamed that it would not be a good idea to take a sword to school. Sure, I thought that my mother would not want me to take it, just because she would worry that it might get lost or damaged. Not that anyone could be hurt. I only thought that grown men, possibly on horses, would be strong enough to do any damage with a sword. It didn't even seem to be very sharp to me. I guess it didn't have to be really sharp, but I didn't know that as a child.
Thanks for reading and sharing! I do appreciate your comments and your support.
Hope that you enjoy my little stories.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spring Shadows

Spring Shadows

8" x 8.5"


Shadows on my door,

Bobbing in and out.

Curves that show

That you are here,

Working in this space.

This time.

This place.

Making my flower bed

A much prettier place.

Don't ruin it with shouting,

Crude words that will hurt.

Keep smiling and laughing,

Be happy in your work.

Shadows are soft,

Fluid, and curving.

Darting in,

Pulling back.

Pushing brooms,

Scattering earth,

Placing rocks,

And tiny shoots.

Weeds, be gone!

We'll soon be seeing

The very loveliest of flowers.

All because of you.....

The Shadows.

It was one of those warm spring mornings when the place to be was outside, either doing something or just lying in a reclining chair in the sun. But here we were in a classroom. I worked at my desk, and students were absorbed in their projects. At least we had windows to look out of and a door that opened out onto a sidewalk and courtyard.

Birds nested under the eaves and that was something to watch as the days wore on, with everyone ready for school to end. Cloud formations, the changing light during the day, cars coming and going in the parking lot, and people passing by on the sidewalk, even birds with their antics on the grass drew attention.

I looked toward the open door, and watched the rhythmic shadows, writhing about on the white background. Distortion masked who the shadow belonged to. Low voices outside and an occasional youthful laugh combined with the sharp scraping and chopping of tools in the earth of the flowerbeds.

A student beautification project included planting flowers in the flower beds to replace the low shrubs that had frozen and died during one harsh winter cold spell a few years back.

As the shadows writhed and bobbed on the door, I did a quick gesture drawing to remember the day.

Soon, they moved on to another room and on down the sidewalk, their jobs finished. They would be back to give water to the new plants. But the shadows would not be there.

Later, I filled in my drawing with ink to make a silhouette, which is the way the shadows appeared. The words about the shadows on my door stuck in my head and I had to write them down .

I couldn't see the students without going to the door and looking outside, but I could watch their shadows while they worked. It almost seemed as if shadow figures were planting shadow flowers.

With the full moon, I probably should plant something. I've had some seeds for a few years, but I never can remember to plant them with the moon, as I've always heard that you should. I wonder if they will come up. With my lack of a green thumb, they probably will do very little, if I can remember to get those seeds out before the moon goes dark!


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Monday, May 19, 2008

Texas Scottish Festival

Gregor Edmunds
Texas Scottish Festival and World Highland Games
Arlington, Texas
June 6, 7, & 8, 2008
Now here is something that you do not want to miss, if you can possibly make it to Arlington, Texas in early June. I have it listed in my sidebar.
The Texas Scottish Festival and Highland Games are coming up on June 6, 7, and 8 at Maverick Stadium-University of Texas at Arlington.
Check out the website for more information. .
The 2008 World Highland Games are going to be a part of the festival with professional athletes coming to participate.
The Texas Scottish Festival in Arlington is one of the largest Scottish gatherings in the U.S. and "Highlander" magazine rated it as the number one Scottish festival in North America for entertainment and talent. This is the 22nd year for the festival.
This is something different.
One of the athletes, Gregor Edmunds, jokingly said in his application, that he is looking for a Texas bride. That resulted in the idea of a "Scottish Dating Game", as in the old tv program, "The Dating Game".
This has been included as a part of the festival this year. Lassies between the ages of 24 and 35 can apply to have a date with the World, European, and Scottish Highland Games Champion.
Questions will be asked of the applicant, and the winner will have a chaperoned date with Gregor.
Gregor is 31 years old, 6' 4.5" tall, and weighs 309 pounds. He is the #1 ranked Highland games athlete in the world. His picture is on the Texas Scottish Festival website, along with more information on "The Dating Game", and the events that will occur during the weekend.
Besides "The Dating Game" and the athletic competitions, there will be Scottish musicians, championship highland dancers, food, merchandise, sourveniers, and beverages from Scotland and Great Britain will be available for purchase.
Some events not to be missed include professional and amateur athletics, Scottish fiddle workshop, Scottish miltary living history encampment, Scottish country dancing, "bonniest knees" contest, Scotch whisky tasting and seminars, Celtic harp workshop, a photo contest, All-Scottish breed dog show, Scotch ale brewing competition, shortbread contest, birds of prey, a 9,000 square foot pub tent, a feature Ceilidh, and much more.
Special activities are planned for children. You can read more about these under Activities on the website.
The festival will have five large entertainment tents this year to showcase the national and regional Celtic, folk, and Scottish entertainers. Also, more than 65 colorful tents will represent various clans and families.
Food will include Scottish foods and ales including haggis, fish and chips, scotch eggs, meat pies, bridies, and bangers will be available as well as American festival foods.
Vendors will be there with a wide variety of merchandise from Scotland and Great Britain. Authentic tartan wear, kilts for the gentlemen, crafts, records, books and gift items are some of the items that will be available during the festival. Also you can find unique Celtic designed crafts, jewelry, and art.
The featured and host bagpipe band will be the North Texas Caledonian Pipes & Drums. The solo bagpiping contests will feature some of the premier bagpipers in the world.
Musical acts include acclaimed Scottish fiddler, Brian McNeill, renowned Scottish balladeer, Alex Beaton, and noted folk singer, Ed Miller. Celtic groups include The Killdares, Scottish Rogues, Clandestine, Jiggernaut, Smithfield Faire, Beyond the Pale, Jed Marum, John Taylor, Margaret Gravitt, Seamus Stout, and Hugh Morrison.
The appearance of the featured group, the high energy Celtic rock group, Seven Nations, will delight audiences.
In addition to performing during the day, most of the performers will also be featured during the special evening events. On Friday, there will be a Ceilidh at 8:30 p.m. On Saturday, there will be a special Celtic Rock Concert. And on Sunday morning there will be a kirking service at 10 a.m.
A Friday evening "Calling of the Clans" ceremony will introduce and honor all the Scottish clans in attendence for the weekend. Historically, the calling of the clans was a gathering of clans in preperation for battle, unifying all the clans as one.
The Festival and Games are open to the general public and is an event for the entire family. Most activities are scheduled continuously for each day. Musical entertainment is continuous in several areas, including the largest pub tent in North America.
Hours are
5:00 p.m. to midnight on Friday
9:00 a.m. to midnight on Saturday
9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sunday
Admission is:
Adults Friday, Sunday $10.00
Saturday $15.00
Weekend Pass $25.00
Children per day $5.00

I haven't been to the Festival, but it sure looks like a lot of fun! I would love to see one of those thrilling bands with the bagpipes and drums. And I would love to see the cute little Scottish doggies. (I miss my little Cairn Terrier, Toto.) I guess I am too old for Gregor, and "The Dating Game". Should be fun to watch, though.
There's lots more on the website. Make your plans to attend-laddies, lassies, and all, Scottish or not. It sounds like there will be things that anyone could enjoy.


Also coming in June:
19th World Wide Sketch Crawl June 21
Let's Draw The Brazos Valley-and the world,
where ever you might be that day!


Friday, May 16, 2008

Walking Home From The Picture Show

My Calvert Photos

These were taken from where we set up to sketch and paint

For some reason, I couldn't get these vertical pictures to post on the slide show below. I turned the camera to take them, then rotated them after I saved them in My Pictures. However, each time I tried to add them on the slide show, they turned back sideways, and I couldn't find out how to straighten them out. So, I'm adding these separately.

We set up on the sidewalk beside the Masonic Lodge, out of the crisp wind that was whipping around that Saturday. The top photo shows across the side street, to the south. The bottom photo shows what was behind me.

I can remember a lot about what the street, curb, and even the railroad tracks looked like, as I walked from the school, to my house, and town, and back, it seemed like, almost every day while I was growing up. Every place the street dipped, every place there was gravel or where there was sand, where there were red ant beds to avoid, where you had to walk quickly to get out of the hot sun on a summer day and on to the next shady spot where oak trees hung over the street. I remember where puddles were made when it rained, where there were cracks in the curbing, and where there were sticker burrs to avoid. There were good spots for roller skating or bike riding, and other spots where the sand or gravel would throw you over. Where there might be wildflowers or where the lawns were neatly edged at the curb.

I remember which houses belonged to friendly folks and which ones were to be avoided. I remember houses that used to be, but are now gone, replaced with a modern house, or an empty lot.

As I looked across the street where we painted that Saturday, I thought of the way that it used to be. How some things have always been pretty much the same, like the streets, the railroad and its ditches, and some buildings. You can still see the old brick that is beneath the asphalt on Main Street, which is Highway 6. I remember when they put the asphalt over the brick, which was just heart breaking to many. I've felt sure that I can remember when the streets were still dirt, but that can't be. I wasn't born then!

The outcropping that holds the street light, where Uncle Tom always parked his car is still there, with the scrapes in the concrete where he always hit the base as he parked. But the lights are new. Uncle Tom bought the old one when the city replaced them, and put the light in his yard.

The steps that lead up to the sidewalks are still there, some with the "new" railings that were put up "for the older folks". Some of the original overhangs that covered the sidewalks are still there. Most buildings used to have them, with canvas curtains, that rolled down on the sides. That made like a tunnel to walk through along the sidewalks. Stores on the west side pulled them down when the sun was in the east, while stores on the east side pulled the curtains down when the sun was in the west. In hot weather, when the crowds were in town on Saturday, especially, it was like a steam bath along the sidewalks.

I guess I looked down, when I was walking more than looking down the street to where I was going. And I had plenty of scraped knees to make me remember certain spots in the street, after I fell down on my bike or roller skates and had to have Mama pick gravel out of the wounds with the tweezers. Hot pavement was a reminder about where not to linger in hot weather. And I walked with wet, muddy socks and shoes, after trying to get across a wide puddle in winter, enough to remember that soggy, cold feeling, and the squishing sound as I walked until I could get home and change clothes.

I remember when people could just pull their cars in and park along Main Street, and when they made people change to parallel parking. Uncle Tom had hit that concrete with his car even when he could just pull in. It was worse after parallel parking. No one wanted to have to go through that, but the Highway Department wanted to make the street wider with more lanes, so the rules were changed. I never did master parallel parking. Instead, I tried to park on the side street, if I could. Well, I could park, but I sweated bullets trying to do it!

In the top photo, with the white building on the corner, this building was not there when I was growing up. There was a vacant lot there, which we used to cut across if we were coming or going to the picture show down this street. This street ended at the park entrance, but I lived the next street over. The Methodist church was on this street, so, sometimes, while Mama practiced the organ or they had choir practice, I would walk to town or the store. It was also good to have the park as a stopping place to rest or get a drink of water from the fountain during our long journey.

My cousins, Diana and Joan, lived at the Calvert Hotel with their grandmother and their mother during WWII, while their father was in service. And they visited there often in other years. So, the hotel was another place that I grew up playing around, and was a place to stop by on my way to or from the picture show. Like other kids, my cousins were quite creative and were always doing something interesting. So that was one of my favorite places to go.

I think that there had been a building on the corner where the white building is now, but it burned before I can remember. When I was older, Mr. Allen built the building that is there now and had a nice Western Auto Store .

The building next to it, where the sign is hanging down over the sidewalk, was a different Allen's hardware store. And, the next white building is the Eloia, the picture show. There used to be a long, rounded neon sign outside that said Eloia. I don't see that in this photo.

Next door to the Eloia is a two story antique shop, the Boll Weevil, which I remember as a bank. I don't think you can see the rest of the buildings in the block from this picture.
In the picture below, you can see where the steps to the Masonic Lodge are, at the end of this building. The Masons made a really nice spot on a covered concrete slab where they have barbeque for special events, like the homes tour.
Just across the railroad tracks, you can see the Calvert Hotel. The street that goes on beyond that is the one that ends at Virginia Field Park entrance.
I was just thinking about the paths we took and wondered why we went some of those ways.
Across the empty space where the Western Auto store was built, was a path that was a bit of a shortcut to the railroad tracks. I seem to remember some twisted, rusty tin and old wood there, too. But, I wondered why we didn't walk on the sidewalk beside the Masonic Lodge, especially when our store was just across the highway. When we crossed Main Street, we always walked on the side of the street beside the empty lot. Maybe there was something mysterious about the Masonic Lodge, with its dark green shuttered windows. And how we always heard that what they did there was secret. It was kind of spooky, I guess. Grownups went there, and told us that things were secret. And while my family members were Masons and Eastern Star, I didn't question. I just knew that was someplace I wasn't supposed to go. But, since there was a well worn path on the empty lot, maybe others thought the same thing.
There were various stores below the Masonic Lodge, at different times, so that should have made it less scarey. Maybe they were not kid friendly places, or maybe it just seemed dark in the shadows.
At one time, there was a Delaware Punch bottling company in the building below, and we would go in there to see how they bottled the drink. The manager and his family went to our church and his daughter was my age. That was one time when the lower part of the building seemed open, light, and happy. I didn't have much experience in going into the building when they had a grocery store or furniture store there. The grownups bought the furniture, and had grocery stores, so there was no need for me, as a child to go there.
Now that Delaware Punch bottling company was a different story. They even brought some of the bottle drinks to church functions like family night suppers.
Wouldn't it be nice if memories remained clear. And if we had taken pictures, and labeled them, about all the little things that were a part of our lives.
Thank you for your comments, and for reading and sharing.
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Let me know if you see something of interest. Most of the work on my blog is for sale.
Be sure to check out the links in my sidebar.
I'm enjoying the blogs of Myrna Wacknov and Nancy Standlee. Nancy is attending Myrna's workshop this week in Cedar Hill. I know they are creating up a storm! I'm just about jealous and wish I was there with them.
Also, check out Virginia Vaughan's blog and website. Her "Last Year On The Farm" exhibit is opening in Rockport and she is doing some demonstrating and a mini workshop there Saturday. You can see more information on her blog.
Get Ready to have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Exciting Stork News

This is going to be a really short post. I just looked at the stork nest web camera in Przygodzic. It's 6:48 a.m. here, but is just after 1:40 p.m. there. (Okay, I already forgot the exact time that the clock on the picture from Poland gave.)

I was so excited to see the adult stork stand up, showing the baby storks, all huddled together under the adult. She sat back down quickly, though. It was particularly interesting because the camera shot seemed to be closer this time.

The only way that I knew that the last egg has hatched is because of the animation at the bottom of the picture. This shows all 5 eggs have hatched.

Now, we get to watch as the babies grow and see the parents as they care for their family. I hope that they all make it this year. It's easy to get attached to the storks. They really are fascinating.
The above drawing was actually done last year. There was rain that day and the adult stork was protecting her little ones while she seemed to draw herself ( I guess it was a she. I still don't know how you tell Mama from Papa Stork!) into a ball, while still providing shelter for the little ones.
I used a $314 Draughting Pencil to do this drawing on acid free drawing paper.
Remember that, if you are interested in purchasing one of my stork drawings, I will donate part of the procedes to the school in Ustron that has been sponsoring a web cam that we enjoyed so much last year.
I hope that you will subscribe to my blog or join my group, Art By Cecelia.
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Thank you for reading and sharing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sketching the Park

Barbara sketched Virginia Field Park
Calvert, Texas
My photo of the bandstand in the park is at the top while Barbara's sketch from about that same angle is below. This is a great old park dating back to 1868. It is across the street from the cemetery.
As we were sketching, I looked at the tree lined street we were on and thought about an article I had just read saying that children who live on tree lined streets in cities were less likely to have asthma.
Growing up in this area of many trees along the streets and in yards, as well as the park and the cemetery, I think that might be true. I never knew anyone who had asthma in our town. Sinus trouble, yes, but we blamed that on many things like the cotton gins in the summer and early fall, or flowers or weeds blooming. I never heard of mold, or mildew, unless it was on clothing that had been left wet too long before it was washed.
This park has changed some over the years. It used to have huge Crepe Myrtles and shrubs, along with many flowers growing from bulbs, filling the flowerbeds and surrounding the park. There was a circular drive around the park, just on the other side of the flower beds, and one corner of the road was very sandy.
My dad liked to tell about driving around there as a teenager and almost wrecking cars when they hit the sand. Personally, I got my great-aunt's 1950s model Nash hung on a big rock, when my aunt was teaching me to drive. Her husband had not wanted to let an inexperienced kid drive his car, so, when he was at work, she took me out to learn to drive. She said that I had to learn to drive. We made it through the wide streets just fine, but I was sweating bullets on that curved drive in the park! I just turned a bit too wide and ran over a huge white rock that marked the entrance. She had to call her husband to come get the car loose from the rock.
I was scared to go over to their house for a while after that! I was sure that my great uncle would be angry with me for running over that rock with his car!
But, my great-aunt just laughed about it. She told me of the time when she, my grandmother, and my grandmother's sister first got automobiles. Their husbands didn't have the patience to teach them to drive so, while the men were at their stores during the day, the young wives took one of the cars out into the country to teach themselves to drive. All went well and they were having a good time together. That is, until they tried to turn around and come home. They couldn't turn or change gears, so they backed all the way back into town. The husband who owned the car just tried to remember backing the car into the garage instead of driving it in forward. The wives never said a word to let on what they had been up to during the day!
The Nash didn't have any damage, except for a tiny scratch below the door. But it stood out to me-a glaring reminder of my attempt to learn to drive.
Beside the drive around the park, there was a large bandstand in the center, with a walk around it, and walks coming up to it from all four entrances. At each corner, there was a smaller gazebo.
On the west side, there was a baseball field, with bleachers. And on the southeast corner, there were clay tennis courts. There were large gliders beneath the trees on the east side, where people could swing. Nearby, a piece of wood had been placed between two oak trees, and, as the trees grew, the wood became a nice place to sit and talk. A concrete drinking fountain was on the south side of the bandstand. On the northeast side of the park, play ground equipment was added for children. A merry go round, swings, see saws, and a concrete table for playing table tennis .
Inside the bandstand, there were basketball hoops where kids could play before the school built the gym. Benches still surround the interior of the bandstand-a place for an audience. The wooden floor was great for roller skating, dancing, band concerts, programs, memorial services, weddings, picnics, basket ball, and just a shady, spot to talk.
The Crepe Myrtles and flowers were thinned out to make the park more open a few years back. The road was closed and filled in. The baseball diamond was removed. The clay courts were covered in grass after most people preferred to play tennis on the new concrete court at the school. The big, white gliders fell into disrepair and it was decided that upkeep on them was too expensive. They seemed to rot quickly. So, they also were removed.
There also used to be large beds of those big red ants in the park. And lots of horned toads. I guess the fire ants did away with those.
During the park's history, Hood's Texas Brigade of Civil War fame, met there for reunions. And, during the "time of unpleasantness", a sky prison was built at the park to imprison Southern sympathizers. A similar sky prison was at the location where the courthouse is located in Bryan today.
Some things that I remember about the park are the time that the First Cavalry Band from Ft. Hood, and a unit of mounted troops, came to the park to give a concert and to march in our Sesquicentennial parade. Indian dancers from the Alabama Coushatta Reservation also came to perform about that time. We had some art shows in the park and local dancers entertained us. Old restored automobiles looked perfectly at home around the park.
Another memorable event was when part of the Houston Symphony Orchestra came to give a concert. They filled the bandstand, and spectators enjoyed the music from places scattered through the park. Some of us took picnics to enjoy.
Easter sunrise service in the park was nice, and I remember when we, the Calvert High band, played for the service. Hunting Easter Eggs in the park was special too, although I worried a little that someone might think that we were attempting to pick flowers instead of finding eggs that Daddy had hidden while we struggled to wake up.
Twinkling lights at Christmas time, strung through the bandstand, seemed extra bright.
Cool water from the water fountain on a hot summer day, and meeting with friends after school among the shrubs to talk about our "mystery club" or boys, a place to rest or get out of a sudden rain shower when walking from town to home, children's birthday parties, and touching services are all a part of my memories of the park.
At night, I could look out my bedroom window, and watch the streetlight by the park. There was a time during WWII when those street lights were out. The town was dark and we stood as a family at the small bathroom window, watching the searchlights from Hearne, worrying if bombers might have made it through this time and the air raid was more than a drill.
When Barbara and I were sketching in Calvert during the spring tour, we chose to work downtown first, then set up where we could see both the cemetery and the park. It was on the opposite side from where we could watch the park from our house. But all sides of the park are interesting.
Now, I need to work on developing the sketches that I did during our outing. Barbara has an oil painting of Main Street that she did that day also.
I would have liked to have seen Sunday afternoon concerts, with people strolling around the park, when I was growing up. Dances would also have been wonderful. Community programs, too, but most of those were held at the school, the City Hall, or on Main Street.
From what I have heard, the German Park was quite active in the old days. Nothing remains of it, and most do not even know where it was located. My great aunts and my grandmother told me that it was where a cemetery on the south side of town is now. There are a few faded pictures of it, that are in Baker's "A History of Robertson County, Texas". My grandmother wouldn't go to the German park because she said they had beer there, and that was not a place for nice girls to be.
Stork Update
I just looked at the stork nest in Pryzygodzice and found that 4 eggs have now hatched! And, just as I was thinking that I had not seen the babies yet, the adult bird stood up (I can't tell Mama from Papa!), and there were the tiny little ones, and one egg still remaining to hatch.
So, if you want to see some cute and some beautiful birds, look at the links on my sidebar, under Stork Sites. The Pryzygodzice site is quite interesting.

More Calvert Drawings

Barbara sketched the Calvert City Cemetery
In the top photo, Barbara is sitting by the car, sketching one of the gates to the cemetery in Calvert. Her sketch is the drawing below the photo.
This lovely park-like cemetery is the final resting place for many of our family members, friends, neighbors, and members of the community.
We grew up just a few houses away from the cemetery.
I remember that, at one time, Edie, who lived next door to the cemetery, would alert us kids to a funeral going on. Several of us would go home and get a fruit jar, put water in it, and pick wildflowers that grew in the empty lots around us. As mourners left the cemetery, we timidly presented them with a jar or a handful of Indian Paintbrushes or tiny little yellow, purple or blue flowers.
We had a lot of Indian Paintbrushes, but I know of only one spot where there were Bluebonnets growing wild at the edge of town near the school. Of course, we believed that we would be put in jail immediatly, if we picked a Bluebonnet, so those were not even considered. There were lots of flowers in the park across the street, but we dared not pick any of those, either. The temptation was great, but, if Mrs. Sneed saw you pick a flower in the park, well, it would be too bad! And, on top of it, there was supposed to be a $5 fine if you got caught picking a flower in the park. We knew better than to pick any of the flowers from the beds of the neighborhood ladies' homes. And, the wildflowers were really pretty and cheerful.
I thought that the deceased would have a lot of flowers on their grave. But those left behind must feel sad at leaving their loved one in the cemetery. So, maybe they could use some pretty flowers to make them a little happier.
The dark clad recipients quietly thanked us and left the cemetery as we walked backward into Edie's yard to watch.
I don't have any idea who the people were, or who had died. It just seemed like something we should do since we were so close to the cemetery.
In this cemetery, there are quite a few graves that are at an angle. These are victims of the terrible Yellow Fever epidemic that wiped out about half the town. No one knew what caused Yellow Fever, so the graves were put at an angle in hopes that no one would ever open those graves and allow the germs or whatever might be causing the illness, to escape and cause another outbreak of Yellow Fever. The population was over 4, 000 at that time, and, after the epidemic, about 2,500 remained. The population remained in that range, even when I was in school.
Since they were burying people, night and day, I don't think that anyone will ever know exactly how many people died then, or even who they all were.
My great-grandfather had a cobbler shop, one of the first businesses in town. He had a "Chinaman" working for him who contracted Yellow Fever and died. That's the closest that any of my family members came to the disease, as far as I have been able to find out. But old timers talked about it, and it is still a topic of conversation even today.
Stork Update!
The nest in Przygodzic has 3 babies in it! Three eggs have hatched, with 2 more to go! I haven't been able to see them as one of the storks is always sitting on the nest when I have taken time to look. But I can tell about the eggs from the animated little eggs at the bottom or their camera shot.
You can check out the other links, and the link I have that says Stork Cams, which has a list of many cameras trained on stork nests in various places.
Hope the babies make it this year!
I added something for those of you who are Hillary Clinton supporters and for those who just like to design t-shirts. It's under Design a T Shirt. She had a "widget" on her website to add to your blog, where you can design a t-shirt for her campaign. Unfortunately, the whole thing doesn't show, but I think enough is showing so that you can design a shirt, or click on links you want.
I know one thing. After my recent experience of trying to paint a t-shirt with acrylics on a stretchy t-shirt, I'll try not to do that again! I started it a year ago, and I'm still not finished! That material is so hard to paint on!
I don't know how anyone can paint enough t-shirts to make a living at it, go to shows, and that sort of thing. One was enough for me! I have another shirt to paint, but this one may just remain plain-unless I really get in the mood for doing something frustrating! (I guess that should read challenging. I think that painting on fabric is a lot more than challenging, though. It's sort of like sewing. It doesn't take long before I am ready to throw the sewing machine in the garbage can, when I try to sew! Not nearly enough patience.)
I enjoyed watching Bill Stubbs on Houston PBS tv. "Moment of Luxury" took us to New York last night. Really enjoyed the trip. In our area, the program is on Monday night at 8 p.m. Check your listings to see when it is shown in your area.
Thank you for reading and sharing.
Let me know if you see something that interests you.
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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

5" x 7"
Here is a flower for all of you mothers on your special day.
For several years, I had huge red Hibiscus growing in my front flower bed. The blossoms were the size of dinner plates. They died out when cold weather came, but returned even larger each spring.
One summer morning, I went outside, expecting to see the gorgeous flowers. I was shocked to see an empty flower bed! There wasn't even a leaf or stem left, to show that there had ever been flowers there. I guess something ate them during the night. There wasn't even a sign of a hole or a root left.
But, I had a few photos and several paintings that I had done to remember them by.
I don't remember actually celebrating Mothers Day very much when I was growing up in Calvert. It seemed like a sad day, to me.
We went to Sneed Memorial Methodist Church, as we did every Sunday. Mama played the organ and I either sat in the choir or with great aunts in the congregation. People who had mothers who were living wore a flower of one color, while others, whose mothers had died, wore a flower of another color. Sometimes, we got our flowers from "Toot's" rose bushes across the street at her house. Some men would buy corsages for their wives. But, times were hard, as they say, and money was not spent on a lot of extra things like flowers. Although the women in my family seemed to really like flowers and their yards.
I just thought that the men were not very romantic or thoughtful of their wives. Especially when we got to church and saw that some ladies had corsages from the flower shop.
We always had our usual Sunday dinner, at some family member's home, with red roast and red gravy as the main dish. The women had to cook, as they always did, so it didn't seem like anything all that special. We did it almost every Sunday. The women worked, the men rested, ate, read the paper, went out to check the cows while the women cooked, served the meal, and cleaned up. Then there was nap time, and our Sunday ride to the country or to A&M.
The only difference seemed to be in those flowers, and some special music and things about mothers at church.
In later years, when my children were little, I got the usual gifts made by tiny hands at school. But one of my most memorable gifts was that one which seems typical of little boys. I was sleeping late, that particular Mother's Day, tired from a week of teaching. My children got up ahead of me, and I could hear them plotting a surprise. And, boy, was I surprised!
They came in from the back yard, tip toed into my bedroom, and I knew that they had brought me something. I thought it must be a handful of wild flowers or something that they had made.
My son put the suprise into my hand and all I could do was to jump up in bed and scream! I quickly dropped his gift as I screamed.
I saw the disappointed look in his face, and I was sorry that I was such a scaredy-cat girl.
I gave them both a hug, and took the flowers to put in some water.
But, I told them, "Take that frog outside!"
My gift was a handful of wild flowers, and a nice fat green frog!
But, you know, that is probably the Mothers Day that I remember the most.
This year, we are going to have red roast and red gravy. I keep telling my family that dinner is at noon, lunch is in the afternoon, about tea time, and supper is at night. So, when I say Sunday dinner, I mean that to be 12 noon! I guess they are getting citified ways. We've been talking about having red roast and red gravy for Mother's Day dinner. I was disappointed that it wasn't started until noon to be ready for tonight. To me, if you say dinner at night, that means a fancy meal with candles and the good china, silver, and crystal.
So, I guess we will have our Mother's Day Sunday red roast and red gravy tonight. Maybe I should get out the good dishes for that. One grandson has to work, so it will be supper by the tv, I'm sure. They made themselves a sandwich for dinner, and I had some potato chips. Sure doesn't feel very special. (Of course, I tell myself , when I eat a potato chip, "Isn't that a delicious baked potato!" And I feel like I have eaten a nice baked potato. I got used to doing that when I worked and didn't have time to eat during the day. )
We will have a trip to visit at the nursing home, then work on supper, dinner, or whatever you want to call it.
Hope you have a memorable Mother's Day, filled with good memories.
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Thanks for reading and sharing. Let me know if you see anything of interest. I do appreciate your comments and your support.