Friday, May 22, 2015

Saint Maybe

I just finished "Saint Maybe" by Anne Tyler.  I am not sure, at all, how to review this book.  I enjoyed it and I would recommend it but I am not sure how to describe my feelings about it.

The story begins with the Bedloe family -- a real Beaver Cleaver sort of group.  They seem to have it all together with the parents, Claudia, Danny and Ian.  Slowly but surely the perfection begins to unravel.  Grandma is plagued with arthritis which is progressive.  Grandpa progresses from a rather opinionated man to a weak man.  Claudia is always just on the sidelines -- married with children and living away.  Danny, who is the focus in the beginning, finds love with the beautiful Lucy who comes complete with a shady past, very little background history and two children, Thomas and Agatha -- and a bun it the oven.  Is the bun Danny's?  We never really know.

As the story progresses, Thomas and Agatha become central to Ian as Ian becomes their primary babysitter and consequently more and more involved in their lives.  More than once Lucy is late getting home which squelches Ian's plan with HIS lady love, Cicely.  Lucy's activities seems shady to Ian and he finally decides that she cheating on Danny.  After one evening of Lucy not coming home in time for Ian to meet Cicely, Danny comes home from a party rather drunk and Ian demands that he drive him home in spite of his altered state of being. During this drive home, Ian, angry because of his ruined evening, tells Danny that Lucy is cheating on him. Shortly after this exchange there is an accident killing Danny.  Everyone thinks it was an accident but Ian thinks it was suicide and he feels responsible.  Lucy's death shortly thereafter causes Ian to believe that he was instrumental in both of their passings which just multiplies the guilt.

One particularly low evening Ian stumbles upon the Church of the Second Chance.  It is a non-mainstream church being conducted from a storefront -- but Ian hears the singing and is drawn in.  Here he finds Brother Emmitt who he confesses to and confides in.  Brother Emmett tells Ian that the way to make things right are to devote himself to the children that he feels responsible for making orphans.  That appealed to Ian's sensibilities and for the next 20 years he devotes himself to raising the children with his parents and becoming a master carpenter.  After his mother's passing and the last child, Daphne's, departure from the home, Ian finds his own life in the form of Rita -- a friend of Daphne and the owner/operator of "Clutter Counselor" -- a company who declutters houses.  She was hired by Agatha, now a physician living in California with her husband, to do something about the hoarding conditions that have come to be the norm in the Bedloe household. 

The book ends on an upbeat note with everybody having found their way and happy but for a bit it was a little depressing.  Not depressing enough to stop reading it but you could definitely feel Grandma going downhill health wise, you could feel Grandpa aging, you could feel -- and hear in their voices -- the children growing up -- but at the end it was all ok -- they had made full circle and it proved to be a very satisfying read.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Generations

I dabble in family history.  I have for a long, long time.  The internet has made is much easier to find information and photos and unknown living relatives.  Last night I was checking my Ancestry.com account and my DNA results which are ever changing.  I found a new photo of my great great grandmother as a young woman.  I have photos of her as an older woman, in 1942, but this was was taken probably in the 1870's.  The thing about it was -- it was like looking at my mother.  I might be the only one that sees the resemblance but it was so obvious to me.  I was so thrilled with the find that I thought I would share it here. 

My mom -- somewhere around 1940


My grandmother -- not sure of the year

My grandmother's grandmother
I had to blow this last photo up because it is quite small so obviously the quality is compromised.  My cousin, JLSHall is going to try to photoshop it a bit do clean it up.

Anyway, my great great grandmother is Choctaw Indian -- at least half.  It seems that side of my family married into Indian communities regularly as there are many instances.  Yes, my Ancestry DNA still says I have no Indian blood.  This great-great grandmother had a daughter who was born on an Indian reservation between San Marcos and Austin and her Indian name was Poison Ivy.  She went by Ivy. 

So, that is my most recent genealogical find.  Aren't family trees wonderful?  Isn't DNA amazing.  Isn't the resemblance in these photos uncanny? I think so.

Move Over Lilly -- here's Nona!

A few weeks ago there was a Lilly Pulitizer for Target launch.  There were many clothing and household items.  It didn't go well.  Many of the children's items were scooped up by individuals with the intent to resell on ebay.  My daughter is a fan of LP and was going to buy one of the dresses for her daughter online. It didn't happen.  The online service didn't work and eventually crashed.  There was great gnashing of teeth.  Not by me.  I couldn't have cared less.  I don't stand in lines, I don't hover over the "shopping carts" online. 

However, I decided to come to the rescue so I scoured my stash for something bright colored.  I went through patterns to see if I could find a simple, shift dress in a size 5.  I had one by Burda.

This is the final result.







Apparently this filled the bill.  I did learn, however, that Joann's, at least the one I go to, doesn't stock hemming tape anymore.  I guess with surgers and such people don't use it anymore.  Anyway, the kiddo wore the dress to church yesterday, declared it very comfortable, requested more so I guess it was a success.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Hi! Remember Me? Cold, Tornadoes and a Book Review

Yes, I know....I have been a very inconsistent blogger of late.  However, I have been very consistently ill! Good to know I am keeping on top of SOMETHING!  For the last week I have had what I thought was a really bad allergy attack but I have come to believe it was a ....drumroll, please....cold.






 An old fashioned cold.  I haven't had one in so long I didn't recognize it but I do believe that is what it was.  It seems to be leaving me now even though I was still running a low grade temp last night.  I seem to be more normal today although a bit battered.  Hopefully the rest of May will be uneventful.

I say that as we are facing severe weather the next three days.  If I were looking for an adjective to describe Texas to a non-Texan I would have to say "extreme".  We are extreme.  We never seem to do things moderately.  We don't just have a "line of thunderstorms" passing through -- we have multiple tornadoes and flooding and people drowning in their storms shelters and storm shelters popping out of the ground -- I mean, we rarely just have a day.  Oh we, do but they aren't very often or memorable.  So, I sat here last night watching the weather reporting through every commercial break showing us where the "hook" is, where the rotation is going.  I didn't feel well.  I contemplated getting dressed and finding my serviceable shoes -- something I haven't done for the last three days -- but decided against it.  I decided that if it were meant to be I would just be blown to Oz because I couldn't be bothered.  We didn't get a tornado where I live but there were signs of them closeby.  We did get a lot of wind and rain which blew under my back door.  I just spread out some towels and went to bed.  It is a lovely day today with more excitement promised for this evening.  Yay.

Photo off the internet -- don't know who to credit but thanks!

Not feeling well, no energy, and bad weather has given me time to do some reading.  I have always been the sort that hones in on a particular author and then set out to read everything they have written.  I have my favorite authors just like everybody does, I am sure.  However, the other day I had finished a book and was looking for something new to read and ran across an article about Anne Tyler.  It was interesting.  I then set out to read a blog by mlhall.com and lo and behold, he had written a review of an Anne Tyler book so I took that as a sign.  I went to my neighborhood Half Price Books and picked up two AT titles -- "Back When We Were Grownups" and "Saint Maybe".  I began with the first and was immediately drawn in.



This is the story of Rebecca.  Rebecca with Will.  Rebecca with Joe.  Rebecca with four daughters.  Rebecca at 53 who discovers she has become a completely different person.  I could identify on any number of levels.  The book is so well written it was a joy to read.  The dialogue flowed beautifully, the humor natural, the descriptions were beautiful.  I could just envision the brownstone -- The Open Arms -- in all its dilapidated glory.  The family interaction is so, well, normal -- this could be anybody's family.  It was a great read -- it wasn't a mystery but it was definitely "cozy".  I would definitely recommend and I was sorry to see it end.  I have already started on "Saint Maybe" and it already has me hooked.

But...you have to feel sorry for Will.  That is all I am going to say.

So, folks, that is what I have been doing.  Not much, actually and trying to play catch up today.  Thankfully I feel good enough to do that.  Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Mother's Day to all my mom readers.


Friday, May 01, 2015

First Communion

Being brought up in the church I have always known about communion -- first and otherwise.  My first communion was in 1957 in Asbury Methodist Church, San Antonio, Texas.


When I went there the carpet was blue

We had just built the "new" sanctuary, pictured above, and I was the first one to be baptized and take communion at the new altar rail.  It was quite an honor.  My mother was concerned that I was only seven, four years shy of the accepted "age of accountability" of eleven but our pastor, Brother Cox assured her that my decision -- and it was my decision -- was fine. 

My husband was raised in Northside Baptist Church in San Antonio, Texas and was a member there until we married and he became Lutheran.



Fast forward to age 16.  I was disenchanted with the church I had been in since birth so I went "church shopping".  I landed in one of the biggest churches in town with a very large youth group which I never participated in.  The church was Concordia Lutheran Church, San Antonio.  I am probably sitting in the back of that second photo, left hand side as you are facing it, as that was my usual spot but I can't exactly locate myself in that very crowded photo.





Hubs and I married here and our babes were baptized here and we decided to go church shopping again in the mid- 1980's.  After a few years at Redeemer Lutheran in San Antonio we ended up at Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, in San Antonio and stayed there until we moved in 1990.  Mt. Calvary is where my son went through his first communion and confirmation training.


 He was under the tutelage of Pastor Kim DeVries -- a wonderful pastor, so good with kids.  He passed away just last year.

1990 found us in Fort Worth, Texas -- not a heavily Lutheran area in the midst of the Bible Belt. We finally settled in on Christ Lutheran Church and this is where my daughter took her first communion and had her confirmation.  I would love to show you a photo but by the time my daughter reached confirmation age the church had sold its building of many years and was then located in a store front. 

About this time I had two ailing parents which required much care, regardless of the day.  I pretty much ceased going to church.  I was also put off by the politics that were alive and well in the Lutheran Church so I just decided to take the time off to re-evaluate my thoughts on all things "church".

Even though my children were raised in the Lutheran Church, they were Catholic School educated.  I knew that even though I was going through a religious "situation" they would be fine as they were very deeply entrenched in the Word. 

My son was in college by this time and also doing his own religious exploration.  I didn't really know about it until he told me about the church he was going to that was originally an Episcopal Church that had gone back under the wing of the Roman Catholic Church.  He loved it.  It didn't surprise me.  He left the Lutheran Church to be Roman Catholic.  I was fine with his decision.  We didn't see him join this church, he didn't want us there.  I think this was just a journey he had to take on his own.

About the same time my daughter was going through a journey of her own.  She didn't want to be Lutheran any longer so she started going to St. John's Episcopal Church with a friend of hers.  By this time my parental dynamic had changed and I was missing church.  I had done my "thinking" and was ready to move back into the realm of church but I knew I didn't want to go back to the Lutheran Church so I started attending St. John's with my daughter.  I felt like I had come home. My husband was on a long term assignment in Canada and when he returned for good he wanted to be filled in on everything that had happened that nine months.  I told him we converted. 

So, we all settled into our church homes and then the weddings commenced and the babies came and that brings us up to current time.

Our eldest grandchild and only grandson is now eight years of age.  Last Sunday he received his First Holy Communion at St. John the Apostle Catholic Church.





It was lovely.  I shed a tear.  That little baby that I kept for a while was growing up way to quickly.  I would post photos of him but his parents prefer that his photo not be put on the internet unless it is by the school.

We had a lovely lunch with them at Brio Tuscan Grille in Southlake. It was delicious!






There was cake.





Our gift to the man of the hour was a hand tied Rosary (hand tied by me -- I love making these rosaries -- it is absolutely theraputic to sit and tie those knots). The twine comes from a company called Divine Twine, the instructions from a website called Rosary Army and the crucifix came from James Avery Jewelers, a Texas based jewelry company.






And, last but not least, the proud parents of the young man.  I don't really talk about my son often because they are very private people but I am so proud of him and I love him so much and I can't help but post this photo.




And I would be remiss if I didn't share this photo as well.  I speak often of the Hubs and I post rather unflattering photos of him in the yard and such so I thought I would share this one.  As I was taking it he was instructing me on the fine art of photography.  I didn't listen.  So, here is the Hubs.

I wish I could post some photos of the grandson but I can't so I will leave you with this final pic -- my daughter and son-in-law also known as Bean's parents.




It was a good day, a good meal, good company and I was thrilled to be a part of it.