Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

November 19, 2012

Behind Closed Doors

Filed under: Music — Janice @ 9:13 pm

There used to be things that nice people didn’t talk about in public. I am quite happy that many of those things went away with the 1950s.

But I think the time has come to bring back the idea of discretion for a bunch of them again. This was just brought on as I read down my Facebook newsfeed and I started reading a post – I kid you not – about ovaries and cycles and that was as far as I got. The person writing is a woman I barely know. I have met her 2 or 3 or 4 times over the last 10 years. We have been associated because we were bloggers before the rest of the world knew what bloggers were. She is an interesting, funny person, and I fully support her right to talk about her ovaries and her cycle and her attempt to get pregnant and any other deeply personal thing she want to share with the world in her blog. But on Facebook? Come on now!

November 18, 2012

Post-Election Now

Filed under: Family,Genealogy,Politics — Janice @ 11:06 pm

After I wrote that last blog, I kept thinking of more of the reasons why I voted for President Obama. And more and more reasons why I couldn’t fathom why someone would vote for Mitt Romney. Fortunately, that is all water under the bridge now. I was so incredibly relieved that the election was not close and there were no (major) shenanigans that affected the outcome of the election. I was really shocked it was called so early. I had to have my little celebration quietly because Mark had fallen asleep on his chair. Maybe an hour or so after it was called for Pres. Obama, he turned over and seemed to be in a lighter phase of sleep so I let him know at that point that we had four more years of Obama and he raised his head up enough to say, “Really? Cool,” before he fell back asleep.

I will go back to not talking politics here. I do worry, at times, that something I write here will affect me in my job or in future job searches. Everyone reads about employees that get fired for things that are on their Facebooks or things they write on their blogs. I know I will not be fired for lewd photos since none exist, but since we have seen employers already laying people off since the election because of politics, the possibility is always there, I suppose. I will hope for the best and hope that, it it were to happen, that I would make headlines and freedom lovers and first amendments supporters would rush to my aid.

Back to other topics of my life as I try to get into a writing rhythm again…

My Uncle Dick died at the end of October. I don’t believe you’ve ever read about him here. He was the younger brother of my grandfather. He was not just a little younger, he was a LOT younger than his 3 older brothers. My grandfather was born in 1908 and he was the second oldest. Dick was born in 1923. The 3 older boys were out of the house, married, and gone before Dick was even in school. This is my favorite picture of their family from that era, just because it does show the drastic difference in their ages:


I’d say this was about 1927. A pretty prosperous looking bunch. My grandfather is the second from the right. Dick is the little one.

I’ve kind of been watching over Uncle Dick for the last few years and I’ve been his medical power of attorney. I was the one who had to sign all the paperwork to let the hospice people take over his care in his last week or so of life. Up until then he really was in his right mind and I never had to make any medical decisions for him.  My dad was only 5 years younger than his uncle and at some point in the 1990s, Dad insisted the Uncle Dick come and live in a nursing home near their house. Dad was good to visit him on a weekly basis and was his only male relative and only friend in the world. When Dad died in 2006, I couldn’t take over that role, but I did try to visit him from time to time (more like once a year instead of once a week) and send him a card occasionally.

Uncle Dick was really odd and not someone that we looked forward to seeing. And I don’t just mean because of the nursing home atmosphere. He was raised as a Mama’s boy and he lived with his mother his whole life. His own father died when he was only  11 and with his brothers all grown and married, he was left to help take care of the cows and the farm. He left school in about fifth grade (though he had fallen behind and was older than his classmates then) and never got any more education. He did get married once, but the story I heard was that she came to live with him and his domineering mother (my great-grandmother) and it wasn’t long before neighbors across the road heard her hollering one night, “Doyle!” (his real first name was Doyle) Doyle, we’re going in to town tomorrow and we’re getting’ us a divorce!”  And they did. I don’t know how much of that is true, but I got it from a very reliable source.

The story that I love to tell about Uncle Dick, though, is about his encounter with “them men from outer space” (I think that’s how he put it). I had heard my Dad comment sometimes about Dick having seen aliens, always scoffing about it, of course, but I had never heard the stories. I hadn’t seen Uncle Dick at all in the 1980s and 1990s, I don’t think. He wasn’t the kind of uncle that you brought out to the house to join us for family events. After Daddy died and I began visiting Uncle Dick, I asked him to tell me about that encounter. Imagine if you went in and asked your uncle to tell you what he had had for lunch and he said, “Oh, I had a ham and cheese sandwich on toast and some pickles.” Uncle Dick told the story with about that much credibility. It wasn’t oversold or hyperbolic. He didn’t have to search his mind for details or think about things. He didn’t embellish in any way. He just told the story.

The story he told was that he was working as a janitor at a K-Mart in Burleson in the 1970s (he gave a specific year – see? his memory was better than mine). The store was near an air base and he frequently heard large transport planes fly over during the night. One night he heard a large vehicle flying over, but having some sort of engine trouble and he took note that it sounded like it might be in trouble. Then he saw a lot of lights from the front of the store. They were near a highway and he assumed it was a highway patrol with a traffic stop on the Interstate. But then the lights in the store all went out and he was in pitch black. So he made his way to the front of the store and those lights and he saw a space ship in the parking lot with the lights on it. And there were “them outer spacemen” up closer to the store looking at him. He said that they were on the other side of that big sidewalk in front of the store and he motioned for them to come closer to the window so he could see them, but they didn’t. They just stayed there on that side of the sidewalk “dancing around the way they do.” At some point they go back to their space ship and they fly away and lights come back on. And a policeman comes along and asks Uncle Dick if he saw a spaceship and outer space men and he told them that he had and the policeman drove off. What is interesting (well, it is all interesting)… I have a friend that is a science fiction writer and she writes about aliens a lot so she has studied all the alien sighting stories and I told her about his description of the aliens and that “dancing around the way they do” and she said that that description of the dancing around and sort of working in tandem as a group is a very common description of a certain type of alien that seems to have an “ant-like” mentality where they work together and function together like ants.

When most people die, it takes several members of the family to make a lot of calls and ask those people to call members of their family to let people know about the death. With Dick, there just weren’t many notifications to make. I had called my mom when hospice called me and said it was close, but didn’t call her back when he died because it was late. I called her the next day and told her. My sister was in Italy with her family so I waited until they were all home the next week to tell her. The only other relative that really cared was my cousin Nancy. She was his actual niece, the daughter of the man on the right in the picture above. She lived near where he lived and had visited him and been very sweet to him and had even taken her mother from her nursing home over to see him in his nursing home. I have only known this cousin a couple of years, but we have bonded a lot in that time. I called her as he was getting sicker. I asked her if she thought we needed to have a funeral. To my great relief, she said she didn’t think so. We felt like the two of us and maybe our husbands would be the only attendees. I made all the arrangements long distance and we will get together at some point in the future and pay our respects.

I’ll close with another sweet picture of Dick as a kid. That’s him on the right with my dad on his shoulders.


November 5, 2012

The Election

Filed under: Politics — Janice @ 12:00 am

I can’t let Election Day get here Tuesday without telling you that I have voted and I have again voted for President Obama, along with a straight-party ticket of Democrats. I have voted a LOT of different ways in all my voting years. I have been one of those “it’s not the party, but the man” voters, too. Finally, in middle-age, I realize that the party DOES make all the difference. And there are things I agree with Republicans about completely. And things I disagree with on the Democratic agenda. But, all in all, I am ecstatic to have a president that said he would get us out of a war and has done it. Can you remember anyone before ever even getting elected with that promise? I can only see more war and more involvement in causes that do not benefit us as a country if we elect a Republican president this year.

The Democrat’s whole-hearted support of women’s issues including equal pay for equal work and a woman’s right to have medical procedures that she and her doctor deem necessary – THAT ARE PERFECTLY LEGAL – without interference from the government is my number one reason to be a Democrat. I could go on and on about my disgust with all the references to “legitimate rape” and “that rape thing” and the categories of rape that Republicans have decided to label women with. I worked for Rape Crisis in Amarillo and Dallas. It was an incredibly hard volunteer job and that is why I haven’t done it in 25 years. I admire the people that work with rape prevention and rape counseling organizations. They are desperately needed. But the comments this election season have taken me back to the training sessions I went through and the victims that came and spoke to our group about their experiences – not just with rape, but with the court system, the medical system, and the police. And then when I began to meet and talk to victims that were only hours removed from the experience itself… I can promise you that any candidate that starts classifying this rape as “better” than that rape has never sat in a hospital waiting room and talked to the husband, sister, friend, daughter, or GRANDCHILD of a rape victim. It seems they have the “typical” rape victim in their mind and there is no such thing.

Okay – I didn’t mean to get off on that tangent.

Mitt Romney is a businessman, he claims. I see it more as a speculator. Whether you call him a businessman or a speculator, we have had some of those in office before … Herbert Hoover, for instance. More recently George Bush and George W. Bush. They had businesses. They ran oil companies or baseball teams (wait, what WAS W’s business again?). I don’t recall the economy doing anything consistently spectacular during their terms that would make me rush to put a businessman back in charge of the economy. And being able to order a business to lay off workers or hire workers or build a new plant or borrow money or do any of the functions of a businessman don’t necessarily translate to improving an economy. And when a president begins to order Congress around as if he were their boss, then you’ll quickly see how unlike a business it can be.

If I had doubts or disappointments with the four years President Obama has spent in office, and if I weren’t happier with the Democratic platform than with the Republican, I still could not support Mitt Romney. Fact checkers have pointed out the misinformation from both campaigns and both candidates all through this year. There are shadings of the truth from both sides to make their case seem stronger. That is politics. But time and time again I have heard flat out lies from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. And I am no political genius or pundit. But when I can hear a speech and hear something that I think sounds wrong and immediately go to the Internet and find the actual facts from which they are diverging, it appalls me that they can lie so easily and then deny it. When Mitt Romney claims he never said something when there is video – yes, even unedited so it isn’t pulling out a single sentence out of context – I wonder if he has never heard this magical thing called YouTube. Seeing him say that he doesn’t care about the 47% was eye-opening. It wasn’t said in a speech televised while he was on the campaign trail, it was said when he’s talking to wealthy donors. Whether he said it because he thought it was what THEY wanted to hear or whether he said it because it is what he believes is inconsequential. Just the fact that a presidential candidate would write off half of the population (whether he is really referring to people who don’t pay taxes – which includes members of the service, the working poor, retirees—or just about people that vote for Obama or even if he is truly referring to poor people that are stuck in a cycle of poverty and need the government assistance because there is no other way to survive) is an attitude I would expect from a man that has never been laid off from a job, never had to cash in coins to see if he could pay a bill, and never took on a second job or a third job because times are very hard. But it is not an attitude that a president can have when he is leading a country that includes millions of people struggling to make it through another day.

I hope election results will quickly and easily point to an Obama victory on Tuesday night. With the voter manipulation and efforts to keep as many voters as possible from even making it to a voting booth this year, I have worries. I do not trust that the system is not rigged. If Mitt Romney becomes our next president, I do not think there will be rioting in the streets or the world or our country will end. I do think that the next 4, 8, 12, 16 years will only get tougher. I was laid off in 2001 and 2002 and then 2007. I have had a moderately good job for 2.5 years now. It pays considerably less than my last job, so I have two side jobs to help add to the income. Still, together with Mark and his two jobs, we are not making anything like we were making for a short period of time when the economy was doing well. And our 401K took a huge hit in 2008, too, of course. I can definitely say we are better off – day by day — than we were 4 years ago, but we have not caught up from all the down times and any upcoming bad times will knock us clear off the rails when it comes to retirement.

I do hope you have voted or will vote on Tuesday and I would like you to vote for President Obama to return to office. But if you feel differently because there are issues that are non-negotiable to you and the Republican platform matches your views, I can understand that. We do have free speech in this country, too, but if you feel the need to rebut my thoughts, please do it on your own blog, not in my comments.

September 27, 2012


Filed under: Austin,Bluebonnets — Janice @ 9:36 pm

Everyone in my family and my circle of friends knows how I feel about bluebonnets. I go a little bit crazy when it comes to our state flower. That’s why I did my little happy dance this morning when I walked outside and found this in our little garden:


We have a garden by the front walk and it has flagstone in the middle so you can walk out into the middle of the garden. Most mornings I do walk out into the garden and check out “how my garden grows.” Right now things are healthy because the temperatures have come down and we had a good soaking 3-inch rain about 10 days ago and it is happy. I just didn’t realize how happy until this morning. First I saw spiderworts. That two-bladed plant close to the bottom of the picture is a spiderwort. There were several big ones growing in the flagstones. I stepped in to inspect them and see if that was what they were and then I saw the bluebonnets. Usually I catch them before they start putting out the second set of leaves. Actually (and I had to go look this up, but I used to know it), the first “leaves” aren’t really leaves, they are called cotyledons and they are part of the embryo of the seed and that is why they look completely different. In the case of the bluebonnet, they are rounded and there are two of them. Then the true leave form with their characteristic points and creases and they are easy to spot. These have all obviously sprung up from the rains last weekend.

I have explained the way bluebonnets work to a lot of people who try to plant them in the spring because they bloom in the spring. That doesn’t work though. You have to plant the bluebonnets, like, right now! Or even a month ago so that they are in the ground when these first fall rains come down and they have time to get established and put out some roots and this greenery. People ask if they will freeze in the winter. Maybe they do. I don’t know. But if they do, it doesn’t seem to hurt them, they bounce right back and can still have a beautiful spring. Obviously, I’m no expert and I haven’t studied them in great detail over hard winters. It seems like hard winters are often very dry winters, too, so it might be hard to tell if it was the freezing or the dryness that kept the bluebonnets from blooming.

Bluebonnets are very smart, though. If the conditions are not right for them to bloom and produce and make seed, they won’t. They will stay underground and wait. We had planted bluebonnets and put out bluebonnet plants down here several times with no luck. A few years back Mark bought some seeds at the Wildflower Center of the Wildflower Farm of Fredericksburg and was determined to get some going. He planted them in the fall, but nothing came up in the spring. But it was also a lousy year for bluebonnets every where. But that fall, the bluebonnets began peeking out and we have a great crop the next spring and each year they have been coming back, over and over. We are very careful to let them go completely to seed and let them fling that seed wherever they may go. They can throw their seed up to 50 feet, they say. Fortunately, lots of it still lands right where we had them before, as the picture is shows. I think the bluebonnets like these flagstones because they aren’t going to have a hoe disturb them. Not that hoes often get used in my garden, sadly. In the garden beds themselves, there were plenty of bluebonnets coming up, but there are also lots of grasses that need to be pulled, but now I’m leery of messing with the roots of the bluebonnets.

Mark it down, we are less than 3 months this side of Christmas and the bluebonnets have appeared. Within 3 months the OTHER side of Christmas, we’ll have blooms and springtime in Central Texas.

September 10, 2012

Bread Boards

Filed under: At home,Childhood Memories — Janice @ 10:25 pm

Be forewarned I am about to fall asleep at my keyboard right now so the may not even make sense.

But this morning I was thinking about bread boards. I don’t really know why. Sometimes my mind is like those Pop Up Videos that used to show on VH1 where there us just a constant stream of something going by and facts and information and questions and thoughts are popping up in bubbles constantly. It is really a bother and I wish I could switch channels. Something made me think of MY bread board.

And when I say bread board, I don’t mean something that is in a computer with circuits and stuff. I Googled bread board and apparently that is what a bread board is today. I never heard of such a thing. My bread board is a big piece of board, about 2 foot x 2 foot, probably that particle board stuff, covered in that vinyl kind of stuff that is sometimes used for cheaper countertops. I don’t know where it came from, but it was around the house or garage one time and I wanted it first as a drafting/drawing board to use with a t-square (someday I’ll write about my frustrated dreams of being an architect), but then it ended up in the kitchen.

If you were thinking bread board like a cutting board that you cut a loaf of bread on, that isn’t what I mean either. I call those cutting boards and I have four good heavy plastic ones that I really like, 2 big and 2 small.

This big bread board is what I use when I make bread and need to knead the dough or when I make a pie and need to roll the dough out with the rolling pin. There is nowhere that I have enough counter space to really do this well and with the bread board I can do it on the kitchen table, which has a surface totally unsuitable for those things.

In the house I grew up in, there was a bread board built into the kitchen. It was just under the counter and it pulled out like a shelf. It was very handy. From time to time we did use it like a shelf. When we did things like pit cherries with a cast iron cherry pitter or we ground ham or cranberries or anything else with the cast iron grinder, we used the bread board to clamp to. There was no other place in the kitchen that those things could clamp on to and be firm and tight. When we made bread, we pulled the bread board out completely and put it on the kitchen table so we had a firmer surface to work on.

I say all that just because I was realizing that there are things that were commonplace to me in my growing up world that probably were no commonplace to most people my age since very few grew up in houses built in 1902. And though we didn’t make ALL our family’s bread (like my friend Sandy’s mom did – yum!) and only rarely made it, I know most of my friends never had any homemade bread growing up and never make it for themselves today. I don’t blame them when there are so many great bakeries so close by.

I told my nephews that eventually I need to take pictures and write things down about the things we have in our house so they’ll know what is important to keep or what is valuable enough to sell and what is worthless and can be tossed, etc. I’m sure they will have no idea why there is a big white board between the refrigerator and the pantry in the kitchen. This blog entry will let them know that it is IMPORTANT and SENTIMENTAL and VALUABLE and that is the first of many many things they absolutely cannot get rid of. Oh the joys those boys will have one day…

September 3, 2012

Labor Day/Labor Free

Filed under: Music — Janice @ 9:41 pm

What a nice relaxing Labor Day weekend. It all went by too quickly, but it was a good one.

The highlight of it all was a very special concert in San Marcos for my friend Lucky Tomblin. Lucky and his wife Becky are friends of mine because of my friends Marsha and Denise. I remember when Marsha booked Lucky’s band at our music series many years ago and I had never heard of them at all. They were not in the same Texas music scene that most of our artists were in (there are SO many Texas music scenes!), but I quickly learned how deep Lucky’s commitment to Texas music was and how hard he had worked over the years to promote Texas music and, better yet, to encourage art.

This concert was a big thank you to Lucky and his family for all they’ve done for musicians, for their community, for the organization CASA, for the public schools in San Marcos, for Texas State University, and on and on. Everyone had a story about Lucky’s generosity. I’ve seen it myself in many ways and heard stories of it. Of course the stories are always from the one who received the benefits or someone they told about it. Lucky and his family do it quietly and behind the scenes and without a second thought or expectation of return. 

The music was provided by so many musicians, including the Lucky Tomblin Band with many guest musicians including my sweet husband Mark, and Teri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines and Ponty Bone, Delbert McClinton, Shawn Sahm, Lisa Mills, and an all-star blues band with Denny Freeman and Derek O’Brien and Frosty on the drums. And there were many more. Oh, and I forgot Pianorama and that was my favorite part! Five pianos going at the same time with some of my favorite piano players: Floyd Domino, Earl Poole Ball, Emily Gimble, and Nick Connolley.  And it was in a beautiful venue, too, the Texas Music Theater on the square in downtown San Marcos. A great night from start to finish.

August 26, 2012


Filed under: At home,Normal Life — Janice @ 10:23 pm

Time does not fly. It crawls by at a snails pace… When I’m waiting for a check or when my eyes won’t stay open and I’m still at my desk at work or when I’m wide awake and it is 4:30 a.m. and my mind is racing. Yet it speeds along like a freightliner on tracks slicked with lard when it comes to evening hours to be productive or weekends or anything resembling personal time.

I’ve decided my favorite time of the day is my drive home from work because that’s when I can see possibilities. As I drive home and it is edging up on 6 o’clock, I’m thinking, “It’s early yet, the sun’s still up, I have a whole evening ahead of me!” I am so exhausted I first think about how wonderful it would be to just go home and take a short nap, just to get my energy back up. But wouldn’t it also be nice to maybe pour  myself a cool beverage and just sit on the porch and enjoy the late afternoon and let the cats out in the fresh air for a while? That would do us all some good. I think about how I will finally update my blog. And of course, before I can comfortably do that, I need to clean and organize this office a little bit because it has gotten out of control. And how about some dinner? We haven’t had a good dinner in ages. That thought might send me for a stop by a grocery store for one of their great pre-made meals (that still always involves a lot more work than I would hope for) or some ingredients. A stop at the mailbox and I pull in the drive. Hooray, I’m home.

I get in the house and am surprised to see that we’re edging up on 7 o’clock now. How did that happen? Nap goes by the way side quickly. Cats are starved, so they get their dinner. And the cat boxes get cleaned. And I go to check something in my office and remembers I have 2 side jobs that I didn’t think about at all on that drive home and I have to figure in some time for them. I go back into the kitchen to think about dinner and it is edging up on 8? How did THAT happen? Maybe I get something started on this dinner. Most likely I shove the ingredients in the refrigerator and hope for a better night for cooking. I go to the office, ignore the mess around me, type some reports, do a radio show. By this time Mark has probably come home and is forlornly eating peanut butter in the living room, wishing there were dinner in this house from time to time. We say hello, maybe we watch my evening news from earlier that I record, and then I go to bed.

I don’t know why I feel that the situation will improve with fall and the sun setting earlier and the night being longer. School starts tomorrow and fall is officially less than a month away. We’ll see. Again I will hope.

July 17, 2012

Write While the Iron is Hot

Filed under: Travel — Janice @ 11:09 pm

I write great long pieces for my blog … in my head. Things often happen in the day and I wish I could stop and write RIGHT then. So I’m doing that right now since the spark hit just as I was between parts of a report I am transcribing and all other stars aligned, too.

My friend Deric posted on Facebook that he is at the Marfa lights right now. That brings back some GREAT memories. I really love West Texas and the Big Bend. On one trip out there I was pondering how I could start a little delivery service that would drive the long routes from house to house and bring groceries, video tapes (this was a while back, remember), books, and other necessities of life for the people there. That never happened. That was also pre-Internet when just about everything you need in terms of movies, books, information, and anything but food and medical treatment comes over the satellite right to you.

I need to get my facts and thoughts together about the trips out there so I can write a real entry about beautiful deserts and clear nights and fields of giant bluebonnets, but I want to get back to the Marfa lights.

It was probably our last trip out there and it has been years. We had never seen the Marfa lights, though we had been through Marfa. We decided we needed to try to experience them if we could. We were staying in Marfa and we drove outside of town where there is a Texas Highway Department viewing area. We pulled in and there were lots of people there already. Some were set up with cameras, others with telescopes, most just with blankets and anticipation. People were friendly and let us know that they had seen a few. They told us where to look and what we were looking for.

And boy, did we see Marfa Lights. We saw “globes” of green light or of red light or of white light appear and disappear. Or appear and dart one way or the other, not always in a straight line. Some would change colors as they moved. Sometimes there would be more than one. It was eerie and it was unexplainable. There was talk from those around us. Lots of people would say, “I know what it is, that has to be headlights from that pass through the mountains over there.” We knew where they meant because we had been through that pass earlier in the day. That seems to make sense until lights would go up or a different direction. There was no pattern to it. We finally decided to hunt down these lights!

We took off back toward town and turned up one long lonely farm road. It ended up in a dead end and nothing so we came back to the main road again. We went around another way and found a main road, but it was higher and closer than the highway where we had been. We drove and looked and saw nothing. Then we saw a much bigger red Marfa light. Still in the distance, but closer, bigger, and much spookier up close… and alone. At that point we figured our hunting wouldn’t do us any good and it has all been researched to death, so we went back to town. The next day, we bought every booklet we found in the town about the lights and read up on the stories.

You can’t say it is headlights or airplanes or even illegals with flashlights… The Marfa Lights were reported by Texans back in the times when they were sure that it was an Indian campfire. Wagon trains reported them. And there are hundreds of reports, no, probably thousands, over the years. Some up close and personal… I remember one story in a booklet about someone driving down that highway and a ball of flame or a bright globe of light chased alongside of the car and then was IN THE CAR. Augh! That would make me drive right into a road sign, I’m sure.

I don’t have any pictures and I know this isn’t a complete story, but of the many “things you have to do to call yourself a Texan,” I’m very glad I’ve seen the Marfa Lights.

July 11, 2012

It Is Today

Filed under: At home,Cats,Childhood Memories,My Job,Normal Life,Radio stuff — Janice @ 8:43 pm

My friend Jenni gave me sweet props today in her blog, which flatters me to no end. I love her words and her photos and her creative abilities when it comes to gardens, crafts, food, and friendships. I often read her blog and think, “I was going to write about that!” or “I should write about that.” I’m waiting until some time passes to when I write about it, it won’t like I’m stealing the idea.

So I’m writing tonight because someone like me. That is my primary motivation for most of the things I do, I think. I wish I could say I was driven by an inner desire to achieve. Or even money, for heaven’s sake, but more often than not, as long as someone is telling me they like what I do, I’ll keep doing it.

So this update is not going to be cohesive, but it will be an update. What is going on today?

Right this minute I have a sweet kitten in my life. Flaco is almost 4 months old now and growing so fast, but he’s still a kitten. The minute I sit at my desk he is in my lap, purring, and looking for “Mama.” I don’t have what a mama would have, but he insists on nursing on my shirt front or pajama bottoms or whatever the case may be, looking for what a mama could give him. He was a little bottle baby, abandoned practically at birth, so he never knew a mama, or not for very long anyway, but his instincts are there.

I got a new phone today. I am anything but an “early adopter” when it comes to technology. I only got my first smart phone about 18 months ago. But it has not been a phone that has made me happy (it never tells me I’m doing a good job) so today I took advantage of my upgrade and got a new Samsung Galaxy SIII, the newest and best, I hear. So far I’ve made phone calls and sent texts with it so I’m happy with that part. And, lo and behold, I can text on that touch screen. When Mark got his first iPhone I couldn’t, for the life of me, hit the right keys. This one is very perceptive and you can even just drag your finger around the keyboard, it doesn’t even have to be touched. New innovations. So I am an early adopter for the first time and I truly believe I will have the newest and best cell phone in America until probably Monday when something new will hit the stores. Now that all smart phones look alike, no one knows how revolutionary right now.

Another big focus of the day is the MOLD in the air. If there is something in the air in Austin, I am bound to be allergic to it. Cedar, ragweed, elm, oak, grass, and mold are my nemisises (… nemasisae? I’m trying to remember my Latin plurals, but I can’t with a head full of snot). I had been watching the mold get higher and higher and didn’t know if rain downpours would clean the air, like it does for the tree and grass pollens, or make it worse because it is, after all, mold. It is definitely the latter. I watched Jim Spencer’s KXAN weather this evening and his lead story was the VERY HIGH mold count at 27000+ particles per square meter… the highest reading he has every seen in the last 20 years or so. More rain tonight and possibly tomorrow and then the molds will probably grow even harder and faster for a week or more, so I am anticipating lots of breathing through my mouth and sore throat and sneezing as if I were one of the seven dwarves.

I am VERY happy for the rain, though. Do not get me wrong on that. Monday evening, a downpour that I got caught in, Tuesday another, today another and I was out in this one, too, and more on the way. It is a rare July to get this much rain and I’m happy for it.

Another issue of the day is that I have “the zaps.” If you’ve ever had them, you know what they are. Tiny electrical jolts coming from the brain and coursing through the neurological system of the body. It comes from changing from one medication to another. I guess technically it is just from going off the first one, but I was hoping the zaps would be minimal since I’m going on another, but we’ll have to wait and see. This has been two days of zaps, with them getting particularly bad today. It’s not just the jolt, it is also the briefest moment of discombobulation, like when the elevator starts or stops too fast. As for the electricity, I can state for certain that it IS electricity from my childhood experiments.

When I was a kid, we had cows in our pastures and Daddy had an electric fence up around the pasture to keep the cows in. It had a box the size of a car battery that hung on the wall in the barn and two glowing spheres of red would flash on and off as it sent out the powerful jolts of electricity. With each one it made an ominous clicking sound to remind you that this was dangerous stuff. But it was also a fun adventure to line up, about five in a row, hold hands, and then have the person on one end touch the ground while the person on the other end touched the fence. A click later and we broke that chain with a yowl and a giggle and then we’d do it again, sometimes changing places. The people on the ends really got a jolt, while the person in the middle only had the mildest bit of electricity coursing through them. Ah, good times. Now I don’t want you to think my father was irresponsible in letting us do this. Though, now that I think about it, did he tell us how to do it in the first place? Whatever, there were many times that he would warn us that he currently had the fence on a higher power and we shouldn’t be touching it at all because it was dangerous. We heeded his word and didn’t have our fun if we’d been warned.

And I am also becoming involved in a bit of radio again and that is next on my list of To-Do’s tonight. I have been on the afternoon show of a radio station north of Dallas for the last several years. Or at least my voice is there. I have pre-recorded a lot of things and they are just plugged into the program so a voice is saying hello as people listen and go about their day. My friend Steve, the owner, wants me to do new ones each day and be current and topical. There isn’t a lot of work involved, but it is the thinking about WHAT to say that stymies from time to time. In “real” radio where you are under the gun because the clock is ticking, you have breaks that are boring or lame or you don’t say anything except the name of the song because that’s as much time as you had to prepare (or you were in the traffic office visiting with your friend Ann, which was usually the case with me). When it is prerecorded, you don’t have that luxury. If it sounds lame, you record it again. Currently, we are just trying it out to see if I want to do this every day. I’ll try to remember to keep you posted.

Flaco just let out a big sigh. He has quit purring and is sound asleep now while my legs fall asleep from being on tip toes so he doesn’t fall off my lap. He probably wants me to get my tasks done so we can adjourn to someplace more comfortable.

Now go read all of Jenni’s old blog posts and great recipes and crafty things and go listen to the artists she promotes, too. And maybe I’ll get back on the writing horse because of her.

June 23, 2012

A Lost Thimble and Texas Reporters

Filed under: At home,Family,Genealogy — Janice @ 9:45 pm

I’m cleaning off the desk, a never-ending task, and looking more closely through items my “cousin” Barbara sent me last week. I put “cousin” in quotations because she’s more of a friend than a cousin to me. I only know her through Facebook and emails. She was married to my Dad’s cousin Don, and I did know Don, but I never met Barbara. They lived overseas while he was in the military and a pilot and then after he died, she remarried and lived in Memphis, Tennessee.

I scanned an article she sent and I will put it below if you’d like to read it, but I’ll tell it with more detail, though it is a story I had never heard before.

Aunt Ruby was Barbara’s mother-in-law. She was my grandmother’s older sister. She was very sweet and lively and funny.  She kept some records of her life that I appreciate so much. She wrote out in longhand her life’s story and I am fortunate enough to have a copy of it.

In this newspaper article, it tells about Aunt Ruby when she was about 14 and the family lived in the Killeen area of Bell County. This was 1914. Her father, Houston Puckett, asked her to go into town with him to buy a birthday gift for his mother. His mother lived in Robert Lee, which is further up in West Texas. The whole family had lived up in that area for a time, but Houston Puckett liked to move around and buy a piece of undeveloped property, build a house, well, and windmill, and then sell and make a profit. So they had moved back and forth from Bell to Runnells County a couple of times.

They made this trip into town and found a pretty silver thimble at a jewelry store. They had it engraved with “M” for Mary (Mary Victoria Riggs Puckett Newman) and sent it to the grandmother.

When “Grandma Newman” died in 1928 (she’s buried in the Fairview Cemetery in Winters, Texas), Aunt Ruby was now married to Uncle Tom Spencer and living in Luther in Howard County, Texas, where most of the Pucketts ended up. She inherited the thimble. One day she was working with the Home Demonstration Club in the Gay Hill Community. The group would meet at the school and make mattresses and comforters for people in need. Somehow she lost her thimble and that was the last time she remembered using it.

Years go by and her sons, Neil and Don, both graduate from Big Spring High and have families of their own. Aunt Ruby and Uncle Tom moved to Comanche County and lived just across the road from my big family reunion grounds. But that’s a whole different side of the family so that’s another story.

Neil Spencer, Ruby’s oldest son, married Jeri and she had a son “Skipper.” I love that name. I think he goes by a more dignified name now that he is all grown up and makes dentures in his lab in Dallas, but he was Skipper to everyone most of his life and I wouldn’t be surprised if he still is to some. He is to me (though I haven’t seen him in many decades).

One day Aunt Ruby and Uncle Tom went back to visit Neil and Jeri who were now living in Luther. Aunt Ruby needed to repair something while they were there so Jeri brought out her sewing box and Aunt Ruby said, “Where did you find my thimble?”

Turns out that Skipper had been playing in the area where the old Gay Hill School had been. It was torn down by then. He found something shiny and brought it home to his mother. It was the thimble from 1914 and was not even mashed or scratched. Having been lost for about 25 years, the thimble found its rightful owner again.

I don’t know who in the family has the thimble now. Aunt Ruby died just a few years after this article was written. She died in 1983. I hope the thimble is with Skipper’s daughter now.


I went looking for the author of this article. I don’t know what newspaper this was in, but most likely a paper out there in West Texas. I found this video on the web of her speaking. She is quite a newspaper woman.

I have pictures of Aunt Ruby and Uncle Tom to scan. They were sweet people and Uncle Tom was everything you think of when you think of a long tall Texas oilman or maybe cowboy. He always said I was the “tall statuesque” one while my sister was the “short cute” one. We both liked our descriptions.

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