Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

March 30, 2015

Cemeteries in Comanche County

Filed under: Cemeteries,Family,Genealogy,Travel — Janice @ 11:05 pm

I spent the weekend in the cemetery and now I am just dead tired.

Doesn’t work quite as well as the “And boy are my arms tired” joke, but I’m trying.

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Saturday was the annual Newburg Cemetery Association meeting. I had never even heard of the association or knew they had annual meetings until last year. I don’t know how I was so uninformed about my favorite cemetery in the world, but now I know so I will attend the meetings. It isn’t just a dry meeting. It is a lively meeting of family interested in the welfare of our favorite cemetery and then there is a really nice potluck lunch with the group.

It is also a “Decoration Day,” as we call them in the South. I did not take any flowers for my family graves this year and I should  have. I usually take flowers in August when I go to the Cunningham reunion. All our flowers were pretty well faded so they do need a replacement soon.

I have 8 direct ancestors buried in the cemetery… my great-grandparents (Ed and Henrietta Hallford) and her parents my great-great-grandparent (Bill and Mildred Cunningham) and his parents (Capt. James and Susannah Cunningham) and then great-great-grandparents from another branch,  Joe and Trissia Moore. There is also 3 great-aunts and their husbands, several great-great-aunts and uncles, and so many cousin I would never be able to count. I know I’ve been to 4 funerals in that cemetery, including my very first one when I was 6 (for Grandma Hallford).  [Full disclosure: the picture of the cemetery is not from this year, it is from 2010. I didn’t take a good scene-setting picture this time.]

I got there early and went to the Albin Cemetery first and took more pictures there. It is just down the road and I have at least 4 direct ancestors there. It was a pretty day. I like this picture of the Albin Cemetery in panorama:

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I love the rock walls on these old cemeteries… can you imagine how much time and energy that took?

Now I am home and I’ve been wasting time researching some of the graves I saw (well, the people in them).

There’s just not enough hours in the day for the cemetery visits and research time I need.

March 26, 2015

Tulips for the baby

Filed under: Family — Janice @ 8:39 pm

I bought myself some tulips today. But they really are for my new niece, EJ. I couldn’t resist the tulips.

I have always had a love of tulips. Tulips were easier to grow in Amarillo where I grew up and we always had them in the garden and as a little girl I remember vividly going out each morning, counting the tulips, and coming back  to tell Mother how many tulips were blooming. I felt like that was my job.

When my sister married a man from Holland, tulips became even more sentimental to us all. We all love the country and the people we know there. My new niece is slightly more than one-fourth Dutch since her grandfather is solidly Dutch, but her grandmother is at least a tiny portion Dutch. I know the mother’s side of her family is Italian, but I don’t know much more. Once she can hold a pencil, little EJ and I will start work on genealogy together.

March 23, 2015

7 pound lifechanger

Filed under: Family — Janice @ 10:38 pm

 

This little doll is going to change my life from this day forward:

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This little angel is my great-niece (or some would say grand-niece). She is the son of my nephew. My sister’s granddaughter. My mother’s great-granddaughter.

I’m as proud as if I gave birth myself.

I can’t wait to see more pictures of this adorable little babe. She has been in the NICU through the day, but she is fine now and ready to conquer the world. She gets to go home with Mommy and Daddy on Wednesday.

I cannot fathom what my life would have been like if I had a baby at 25. But these two are going to be those parents that are easygoing and fun and have the house all the neighbor kids come to.

I had some incredible great-aunts:  Aunt Det, Ollie, Myra, Lena, Aunt Edna, Aunt Ruby, Aunt Gertrude, Aunt B, Aunt Mildred, and Aunt Leola. Each one has a special place and at least one indelible memory. I remember most of them as being fun to be around and easy to enjoy. I hope I can provide that for my little baby EJ.

March 22, 2015

Springtime Gardening

Filed under: At home,Garden — Janice @ 7:59 pm

Spring arrived Friday, though it was damp and cold for Austin through Friday and Saturday, too. But today (Sunday) was bright and shining and we had blue sky and at least 80 degrees, I think. I used to be a great gardener. I need to find that enthusiasm and energy again for gardening (and housekeeping and writing and working….). Today I did get outside and do a FEW things so I could say I worked outside and accomplished something.

We have big live oak trees in our neighborhood. I’m glad the builders preserved so many of them for our yards when they built our houses in the 80s. I can just picture what a forest this section must have been at one time. But live oaks drop their leaves in spring when the new growth comes in. That is why they are called live oaks, they are never “dead” in the wintertime. But when the leaves fall, they are really a chore. Our back roof is covered in piles of leaves that need to be pushed down to the ground and cleaned up. No telling what kind of mildew and rot might build up under them up there.

I took a broom and swept my entryway first today. My sister wrote the other day that she was channeling our Papa Hallford and had swept her walk and sidewalk (she also has live oaks) and that there was a great deal of satisfaction in sweeping. I agree with that and every time I DO sweep I think I will do it more often in the future. That rarely happens. Today I swept the porch. Not spotless because more leaves were falling as I swept, but I got a handle on it. I swept leaves off of the flagstone rocks in our garden. Usually by now there would be bluebonnet plants all through the flagstones and we would let them go through their cycle before cleaning out that area. This year the bluebonnets are nonexistent! We don’t  know what happened, but they aren’t there so I swept the rocks and even pulled down a few spiderworts that were growing there because I have plenty IN the garden and don’t need them coming up where I’d like to walk.

I filled up our trash can with leaves from the driveway and walkway and then called it a day. I picked up dead branches and trimmed off some yellow leaves on plants. I trimmed back the Carolina jasmine that takes over as soon as  spring arrives. I didn’t haul rocks or mow or dig or do anything extremely strenuous, but it was enough. I came in sweating and had to cool off and clean up before I could continue my day.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll do a little bit more.  Now is the time  that everything is pretty and green and blooming. The rain has been coming frequently and the hot sun isn’t baking anything for the moment. I want to enjoy this spring while I can.

March 17, 2015

A Fresh New Start

Filed under: At home,Austin,Bluebonnets,Cemeteries,Family,Food — Janice @ 11:29 pm

I guess the best way to return to a habit and get the ball rolling on this blog again is just to start.

And keep going. We’ll see if I can manage that.

I truly don’t know why I don’t. I write all the time, all over the place. This blog doesn’t have to be any more polished than the emails I write (since the same people will read it). So I will try.

I just had a beautiful fresh start to a New Year for myself with the big celebration for my 56th birthday (oops, I had a typo and put 65 first, can 65 ONLY be 9 years away?). It was a GREAT birthday. I have probably complained here in past years about how my birthday falls during Spring Break and, worse, during South By Southwest. South by Southwest is the Austin music conference/festival that is a fine event, but it keeps my husband, Mark, away from me much too much. But, every 6 years my birthday falls on the Sunday BEFORE SXSW and Mark can free up some time to celebrate my day.

It’s hard to believe it has been 6 years since we had a great lunch at El Chile on the east side and drove around observing the blooming mountain laurel and fruit trees and then visited the Texas State Cemetery. That was my first visit to the cemetery, even though we had lived here almost a decade by then. It was amazing and I’ve visited it many times since then. I am happily married to the only man in the world that would understand that a trip to a cemetery for a 50th birthday would be the best present.

This year Mark offered me a road trip to a Hill Country town or anything I wanted. I thought long and hard and decided a brunch at the 1886 Café in the Driskill Hotel and a trip to the Ransom Center would be my choice. Mark had some concerns about being downtown during SXSW, but we forged ahead and talked the café into letting us have a reservation even though they don’t take reservations  during SXSW or for brunch.

The Driskill is a beautiful hotel. It is Austin’s oldest and most opulent hotel, built in 1886. The lobby is big and marble with pillars and grand staircases and dark wood paneling.  We hadn’t  been there 3 minutes when I spotted Billy Crystal coming down the staircase. That’s the kind of magic that happens there.

With the ColonelHere we pose with Colonel Driskill. I was hoping for some orbs in the picture since he haunts the place, but no such luck. I was sniffing, trying to smell his cigar, but I didn’t get that either.

We enjoyed the cheese soup (amazing!) and I had quiche while Mark had steak and eggs. I also indulged in a bloody Mary.  It was fun to people watch, wondering if we looked like out-of-towners to them.

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We took a walk around the Driskill and then walked down 6th Street a little. I honestly don’t know  if Mark and I have EVER walked down 6th Street together. It is Austin’s Bourbon Street…something the city is known for, but nasty, dangerous, and a place the locals don’t go. In the daytime it is not so dirty or scary. There were lots of people out and the streets were closed so there was lots of room. We had fun pointing to buildings and remembering…. “This WAS Joe’s Generic Bar. This was Steamboat. This was where I played for this…. This is where I used to go ….” It has changed tremendously since I worked down the street when we moved here 16 years ago.

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There was no shortage of people watching on 6th Street. With St. Patrick’s Day coming up, we even saw leprechauns. We steered clear so I don’t know what they were soliciting. I have a feeling they weren’t going to lead us to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

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On to the Harry Ransom Center. It is a museum where my cousin works, yet I have never been to it. I wanted to go just to see where it was and what it was like. I didn’t need to spend hours there. It is a very nice small museum, known for its traveling exhibits, I suppose. But it does have a Gutenberg Bible on display, which is AWE-some in the truest sense of the word. And the first photograph ever made, in 1824, I think. Mark looked at the piece of metal with dark shapes on it, hardly distinguishable as a landscape outside a window at all. Mark commented, “Well, it isn’t even a very good photograph…. kind of grainy.” We laughed. It was the kind of exhibit that makes me want to go read more about the invention of photography.

There was also a big exhibit going on about Alice in Wonderland. A lot of people were there to see it and it was a beautiful display with LOTS about the book and the whole history of Alice. Somehow, I grew up without ever knowing much about Alice in Wonderland. I knew about her, but I don’t know if I actually ever read the book. I think I saw a cartoon. I think I once had a ceramic figurine of her. But since Mark and I didn’t have a real connection with Alice in Wonderland, we took the quick view through that exhibit.

I was happy and satisfied and content to go home to open birthday cards that had come through the week (I always save them until the day) and maybe get in a good nap. Before we got all the way home, Mark took a swing through a rehab facility by our house. Each spring there are fields of bluebonnets around the center so he wanted to check to see if any were blooming. Neither one of us have seen a bluebonnet by the highways yet. Lo and behold, they were beginning to bloom. There is no piece of nature that makes me as happy as the bluebonnet does. We stopped to do the Texas thing and take pictures in the bluebonnets. We will be back when they are more abundant.

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Now Mark is deep into his long days/nights of working during South By Southwest and I am a SXSW widow, home alone overnight. But the birthday is over and I don’t have to think about it falling during SXSW when I don’t get any attention. It was a happy and fun birthday and I’m grateful to my sweet husband and to all who sent the cards and presents and called and texted and Facebooked and emailed. There was no shortage of love.

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