Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

November 30, 2014

Creativity Boost

Filed under: At home,Normal Life,Writing — Janice @ 9:07 pm

I have been feeling particularly inept when it comes to creativity this weekend. It is a real frustration. I see myself as a creative person. I feel like I am the kind of person that can DO things. But I’ve been stymied on the most minor things.

I had to make a trip to Home Depot yesterday so I was thinking of what I might need from there. Well, one thing I thought of was the little ceramic caps that go over the bolts on the base of the toilet. We had our bathroom remodeled over a year ago and that was one thing they didn’t do when they finished. So for a year those bolts have been there, ugly, taunting me. I would do something about it.

I looked high and low at Home Depot, but couldn’t find what I needed because they were hidden among a gazillion other little plumbing needs on a big wall. I had to get a clerk to help me find what I need. Well, first off, he says, they don’t make them ceramic anymore, they are all plastic. Yuck, I didn’t want plastic, but that’s all there is. I bought them and brought them home.

The installation of the little caps was pretty straightforward, but still more than I had anticipated. You are supposed to remove the nut and the washer and put down a piece it has included and then put back the washer and nut and then put the cap on and it will CLICK and stay firmly on that first plastic piece. The first bolt had the nut on tight so I moved on to the other side. The nut there was loose (and I was smart enough to know that it probably shouldn’t be loose). I could loosen it completely with my fingers. I put down the plastic part and put back the washer and nut and twisted the nut. And twisted and twisted. Then I realized that the bolt was turning just as much as the nut. I needed tools.

I know my father or Mark could walk into the garage and pull the perfect tool from a toolbox and be back in the bathroom in a minute. I had to look high and low and figure what would work and finally settled on a pair of pliers and a pair of vise grips. I went back at it and finally got it tightened enough to satisfy me. So I was going to push on the cap and then move to the other side. I tried, but the bolt was too long for the cap to fit down on it completely. I’ve googled around about this since then and find that the bolts do need to be hacksawed or cut after the toilet is installed. Fine.

By this time I was already frustrated beyond my tolerance and I just balanced the other cap on the bolt and called it good. At least it looks okay until you try to mop around the toilet and it goes flying off. But I’ll worry about that the next time I mop . . . May?

I had a couple of other instances of those simple tasks that I thought would take a minute and be an easy fix and it took way longer than it should or I couldn’t do it at all. I don’t know how these do-it-yourselfers can choose a project, make their list, go to Home Depot, come home and get to work, and by the end of the day they have a whole new closet or painted living room or landscaped yard.

So, to get my creativity in gear, I have done 2 things. Tonight, I signed up for Holidailies, the web portal that encourages bloggers to post daily in December. With that obligation and my rule-following nature, I hope I can get in gear and write some of the things that come up in my head each and every day. I WANT to live up to the titles I give myself in my head (WRITER and STORYTELLER).

The other thing was a little bit of clearing. I have an office that makes it LOOK like I am a hoarder. I am not, in any way shape or form, a hoarder (okay, except for genealogy stuff. And family related stuff. And books.). I was, however, at the home of a hoarder recently and it is enough to scare me into a little bit of clearing. For over a year I have had a huge bin of tapes in my office. These were reel-to-reel tapes of my earliest days in radio, cassette tapes for the next 30 years of me in radio along with cassettes of music and interviews and who knows what, and video tapes of TV shows and family events and my graduation from UNT, etc. The bin also had about 100 little records.

I “inherited” a reel-to-reel player and my plan was to move the tapes that were reel-to-reel to digital so I could preserve them and listen to them. I had a dickens of a time making it work and getting the sound to the computer. I did get one tape moved and boosted and edited. I wasn’t sure it was worth it. So today I went through and threw things away with abandon. I threw away almost all the reel-to-reel tapes because I really can’t stand to hear me in my earliest days anyway. Why go through that? If I did get them moved to the computer I would probably never allow anyone else to hear them so what’s the point? I threw away hundreds of cassettes, too. Many of them were completely unlabeled, so how important could they be, right? I kept a couple dozen that I might throw away at some future point, but I got rid of a lot.

And I threw away video tapes. I once worked for a video production house and I acted and did news on a few projects. Again, I don’t want to see them and I don’t want anyone else to see them, so they went into the trash. All in all, I filled up the recycling bin (I hope they all count as plastic) and I downsized the pile of stuff to a much smaller box (that can be lifted, unlike the bin). I didn’t do anything with the little records… I wasn’t ready for that yet.

Next on the list will be to get this giant reel-to-reel player out of the house and delivered to someone else with this brilliant idea of dubbing off their tapes to the computer.

I am hoping that that little bit of clearing, the little bit of free space on the floor in my office now, and the commitment to creativity, will make December a little bit brighter when it comes to the neurons in my head.

November 17, 2014

My Grandfather

Filed under: Family — Janice @ 11:59 pm

115 years ago today, my grandfather was born in Comanche County, Texas. I think he was born at his grandmother’s house and somewhere I even have a list of who was present at his birth. He was the first child of Ed and Het Hallford. They were farmers. He was a cute little baby.


He was an even cuter little boy.


He grew up in the Newburg community near all of his grandparents and near more than a dozen aunts, uncles, and probably hundreds of cousins. He was a handsome young man.


He’s second from the left in the front. He met my grandmother while growing up. She’s in this picture, too, third from the right.

Before they were married he almost had to go to war. But his 18th birthday came one week after Armistice Day. He had the uniform, but he never had to serve.


He was ordained as a preacher through the South Leon Baptist Church and although he never pastored a church, he did preach occasionally and always served in the church. I never witnessed him preaching (except in the kitchen!), but his prayers before a meal were something to behold. Keeping a dictionary handy was helpful.

Papa went to college in Brownwood and he and my grandmother married in 1922.


He became a schoolteacher and quickly was a principal and superintendent, too. He taught in Grosvenor, Jermyn, and Jacksboro.

In the 50s, he changed careers and began working for the “Welfare Department” as the Department of Health and Human Services was known then. He did a lot to help old widows and poor families get the benefits they needed. He was a proponent of Social Security and was happy when aid became available who had no family and no income.

I’m skipping over a lot of years since it is now past midnight and NOT his birthday anymore.

This is how I choose to remember the Hallfords—dressed up and ready for church. He has a hint of a smile in this picture. That was a rarity in a photo. He smiled and laughed some in real life, but rarely in a photo.

Arla and Willie Halford

Papa and Mamma had 4 daughters and then 4 sons-in-law and 12 grandchildren and then lots of great-grandchildren (22 I think?) and probably close to that many great-great-grandchildren by now. He lived every day of the 20th century and parts of 2 more centuries. He died in March of 2000.  Mamma had died in 1993. This is all of our family at his 100th birthday, 15 years ago.

A.E.H.'s 100th

There are many stories about Papa. He had lots of funny quirks. He wrote a poem a day for YEARS AND YEARS. A few were cute poems about cats or grandchildren or family. Mostly they were about religion and the Bible and “the great I Am” and his dislike of Brother Criswell at the First Baptist Church of Dallas. He gave my sister and me our first job. He paid us a great amount of money each month to index those poems for him. It taught us a lot, though I know my mother had to remind us a million times each month to get it done. Papa was a great correspondent with his children and his grandchildren. He and I wrote letters about space travel and aliens and ancient culture. Obviously his life as an educator didn’t stop when he was no longer a teacher.

So that’s my little salute to Papa Hallford.

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