Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

October 28, 2011

Baseball … has been berry berry good to me

Filed under: At home,Childhood Memories — Janice @ 7:25 am

As we end the baseball season tonight (with a Texas Rangers World Series win I predict), I think back on my affection for baseball over the years…

I began to love the playoffs and the World Series when I was a kid. My first really distinct memory of the playoffs was when Mom picked me up in front of James Madison Elementary School in fourth grade (in Colorado Springs).

[well… here is where the disadvantage of having Wikipedia and the Internet at my fingertips. As I was writing that I thought I would verify my memory and can find no verification whatsoever. First, I’m thinking, “Wait, I don’t think I was even going to James Madison in the fall” (I only went to that school a few months) and then I look up and the Red Sox weren’t in even the playoffs during the years we were in Colorado. But, this is MY blog and we’ll forge ahead with my faulty memory that is so vivid in my head, okay?]

So, truly, it is FALL and I’m going to JAMES MADISON and the RED SOX were either in the ALCS or the World Series and Mom picks me up (… hell, if I’m going to make things up…let’s do it…) and I had just given a speech in front of all the teachers of the school to impress upon them the importance of being more welcoming to children from Texas and other states and received a rousing applause and standing ovation…

Mom picks me up and has the ball game on the radio and tells me that Carl Yastrzemski had been amazing in the series and we listened all the way home. Baseball series in those days had several games during the days, not all at night like they’ve gone to now. Mom also did all of her big ironing during the playoffs and that is a big memory. She would iron things like tablecloths and anything else that hadn’t been taken care of in a while and stand in front of the TV, watching baseball and ironing.

Where most kids get their love of sports from their fathers, I definitely got that baseball fever from Mother.

In the early 80s in Amarillo, we had a farm club for the San Diego Padres called the Amarillo Gold Sox. My introduction came to them when I worked at the radio station KBUY on the midnight to six shift and many nights a guy (who also had a long Polish name like Yastrzemski) would call and give me the Gold Sox final score. I had no idea who the Gold Sox were or why he was giving me this information at the time. Eventually I met the guy (their sports information guy) and found out a lot more about the Sox.

I was at KPUR and doing morning by the time I really got involved. We had about 8 seats available for the radio station. Jack and Patrick, who were maybe on night shifts or weekends at the time, were ALWAYS at the game and they developed the name “bleacher creatures” for their antics. Jack frequently wore a big green Afro wig and they were always deeply involved in the games. They would bring their girlfriends and friends and I was often among the group, too. I can’t say I went to EVERY game like they did, but I went to a whole lot. It was just the thing to do, the place to be. My morning partner, Dan, was the game’s announcer and my sportswriter friend Greg was always there to cover the games. I was friends with John, the team GM and Ted, the PR guy. And we were all peripherally friends with the team members and their wives. And some (eventually) big names played for the Sox:  Dave Dravecky and Tony Gwynn to name a couple. I’d drop more names if my old mind could remember them… Andy someone and that blond kid for another. We also saw some of the greats play in the other dugout. Orel Herschiser comes to mind. It was a fun few years.

When I got to Dallas, I worked for the Zig Ziglar Corporation and they had four season tickets for the Rangers. Yes, THE Texas Rangers who will win the World Series tonight. Of course, none of today’s team was on the team then except their current owner Nolan Ryan (forget Wikipedia, I’m not going to check that fact, let me live with my fantasy). We had a large company so you had to request the tickets and be approved. The great thing for me was that anyone who had the tickets and then decided they couldn’t go knew to call me and offer them to me. I went a LOT during one season. I saw every American League team there was that year. And then when I traveled for work with the ZZC I went to see lots of teams play on their home fields, too. I enjoyed a lot of great baseball.

Unlike the baseball announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, I cannot tell you about a single play I ever saw and include the names of the teams, the players involved, the year, the weather for Pete’s sake, and the final score. I can remember seeing a guy steal home once and I remember when they had some outfielder or something pitch because they were so far ahead and they’d run out of pitchers. Ah, good fuzzy memories.

But I have thoroughly enjoyed this year’s series. I got into the ACLS games early because Mom was here visiting and that gave us something to do. We were listening that night that Cruz hit the walk off grand slam home run (listening because we were driving her home that night). And every game of the Series we’ve talked on the phone for a bit before, during, and/or after the game. It adds to some great memories of baseball.

Tonight’s game will be icing on the cake when every member of the Rangers hits multi-run home runs and St. Louis manages to commit a record number of errors and the Rangers take it in 9 innings with no back-and-forth scoring. My heart is too weak for another night of that!

October 23, 2011

A Beautiful Birthday

Filed under: At home,Austin,Family,Food — Janice @ 10:11 pm

Mark’s birthday comes at a wonderful time of year. But usually Mark’s birthday is on a day that he has to work or play a gig—since he works or plays a gig just about 365 days a year. This year we got lucky and he had the entire weekend off. Today was a nice day to celebrate.

We had a lovely lunch at a fabulous Italian restaurant called Trattoria Lisina in Driftwood. I don’t know how long it has been there, but it is one of those places we would never have had the opportunity to go to except for the sweet gift from his boss a while back: a gift card for this restaurant. So we decided this would be the day to take advantage of it.

The sun was shining and what isn’t completely destroyed by the drought in the Hill Country is beautiful and we had a nice drive out to the country and had no trouble finding the vineyard that surrounds the trattoria. It looks like an Italian villa, though I can’t really say since I’ve never been to Italy.

They had done their gardening well with native plants and flowers and everything was in bloom and there were butterflies everywhere.


But the food was really the reason to eat here. So good!

Mark had an asparagus salad with asparagus, obviously, but also beautiful fresh greens and two kinds of pesto encircling the plate and a ring of feta cheese. I had a caprese salad with their fresh mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes (so they were unusual colors and had a true tomato taste) and basil, plus large pieces of sea salt that added texture that I usually don’t have with this salad. The pasta course improved even on this wonderful antipasti course. Mark had a mushroom ravioli in a cream sauce. I had a huge bowl of risotto with figs. Yes, figs. It looked like a bowl of porridge when she sat it in front of me and, honestly, I was disappointed. Then I took a bite of this very hot creamy and cheesy risotto and I could not stop eating. I kept thinking I would certainly take home three-fourths of it, then half, and then finally I decided it could never taste better than it did right then, so I finished it off.

For the main dish, Mark had a big veal chop that was as tender as roast beef. I had a half a chicken all grilled and delicious along with a cold salad of cucumbers and tomatoes and onions and grilled potatoes. I did pack almost all of that to take home after having had all that risotto.



We did a lot of people watching in this place and were curious about how these people could afford such a fabulous meal on a Sunday outing. Of course, we realized they might be thinking the same about us, not knowing this was truly a rare event for us. The place was lovely and we had a sweet waitress (who had a cat named Marcel, we learned) and we did not feel totally out of place like we have at some super nice restaurants.

And because Mark is the sweetest husband in the world… even though it wasn’t MY birthday, he let me stop at the Driftwood Cemetery for a quick look-see before we headed home.

Then we came home, stuffed, and didn’t even stop to watch the Cowboys game. It was nap time.

But tonight we did enjoy birthday pie. That is the only gift Mark every asks of me for birthday, Valentine’s Day, anniversary, or Christmas. It has to be apple pie for him and he swears it is the best pie ever made. I always find fault with my pies and these were no exception, but they did look awfully pretty last night as they were cooling. The one on the right is the birthday pie with an M cut into the crust. The one on the left is my “get your act together Texas” pie and it apparently worked. We ate pie and watched the World Series and cheered the Rangers on to victory.


Cats in the Night

Filed under: Cats,Childhood Memories,Family — Janice @ 10:12 am

We’ve been dealing a lot with cats lately. Not ours. They have been perfect angels.  tolerable.

It’s tomcats in the neighborhood. Mark slept out on the catio/screened-in porch/sleeping porch one night and said he heard a plaintive “meow meow.” Worried that it was our cats, he investigated and found our cats and they were perfectly fine. Then the meowing turned into yowling, driving our cats nuts and keeping anyone from getting a good night of sleep.

I get up earlier in the morning than Mark does so I try to keep things quiet and let him snooze. One day this week Willie, usually our better behaved cat, came tearing into the bathroom while I was showering and was up in the window, tearing into the metal blinds so that he could see outside and GET TO THAT CAT. Of course, he can’t get to that cat, but he hops through and around and in and out of the metal blinds, making a huge racket and, here I am, stuck in the shower unable to stop him.

As I type this, a cat has just begun that tomcat yowl in the front garden. I can’t see him, but I can hear him.

We didn’t used to have the noise. We had strays: T.C., a sweet skinny black cat that still comes around. Stubb, a big orange cat with a missing tail who has been gone a long time and I am sure he has probably gone to the great litter box in the sky. Rocky, a raccoon-looking cat that wasn’t around enough to even really remember his name (I’m guess that was what I called him). But now there are several cats in the neighborhood that I don’t think are strays – they are well fed—but they certainly like to come visit and sometimes get in a ruckus that really wakes up the neighborhood.

This has all taken me back to a hot night in Randall County. When we lived in Colorado Springs, we came down to the Panhandle often to visit and check on our house there. We came down one time and my sister and I were sleeping on my grandmother’s living room floor. The house was hot and the front door was open. I heard a “baby” crying and was quite alarmed at what I was hearing and didn’t quite know what I was supposed to do. Remember, I was about 10 at the time. I listened and listened and couldn’t imagine why there was a baby crying outside the house. Eventually, my grandmother came through the living room. I can picture her in her long turquoise silky housedress/housecoat and her slip-on house shoes. She always walked with a pronounced limp, dragging her “old crippled leg” (as she called it), and I remember her coming from her bedroom toward the front door. I said, “Mamma, is that a baby?” and she said, “No, that’s tomcats fighting.” At that point, the sound completely changed to me and it was much more obvious that it wasn’t a baby. I was so relieved. I don’t know if she was able to do anything to stop the yowling, I don’t remember if she even went outside, but I will never forget that moment and exchange.

September 26, 2011

A Round Robin Letter

Filed under: At home,Childhood Memories,Family,Genealogy,Writing — Janice @ 10:53 pm

[Fair warning: I wrote this one for family and it may have no interest at all for you.]

My Mother’s family have always been prolific writers. Mostly of letters, but also of poems, essays, lessons, and books. There’s a great sense of humor among the whole Hallford family. Tonight I was re-reading a round robin letter that my grandfather sent out in 1959. I don’t know where page one is… it may be deeper in this box, but I’m going to share the letter even without the first page. My family will chuckle at the style of writing Papa always had.

To set the stage, this is 1959, Papa and Mamma Hallford lived in Eastland, Texas, where he was the supervisor over the region’s Department of Welfare. He had been a school teacher and superintendent for many many years and always was an educator at heart. The four daughters were a little bit scattered (geographically, I mean)… the oldest, Aunt Dorothy, and her family were living in California. The second, Aunt Billie, may have been in Tyler along about this time. My mom was third, Pat, and we lived in Amarillo, and the youngest, Lou Helen or “Louie” lived in Oklahoma right on the Red River. My mother and her sisters and their mother wrote one another just about every week. There were always letters in the mailbox from someone in our family. Papa wrote less often, but sometimes felt like he needed to get into communication with his kids, so letters like this would arrive. What I really love about this letter is that he certainly didn’t waste paper, he wrote on the back of a mimeograph of the Sunday school attendance for the First Baptist Church. It has columns for the number enrolled, the number attending, the “total con.” (I don’t know if that is contributing or amount contributed), and the number that brought their Bibles. I had forgotten how that was always a check box on the offering envelope. Also, the number attending preaching. They had a good turnout that Dec. 7, 1958 Sunday with 320 there for Sunday school.

Here’s a picture of Papa Hallford so you can put him in your mind’s eye as you read:

Arla Hallford at home

So Papa sends out this round robin letter asking for each daughter to contribute and send it on. Imagine how much fun he could have had with e-mail!

Now to the letter, page 2:

The nature of these round robin items of communication can in no wise be called informative far as all of you know, old saggy P. has too much competition in the person of the previously mentioned champion noise maker who can lick more postage stamps in a month than a cow in a clover field cuts her cud. [He’s talking about my grandmother.] Neither can they be said to be exemplary especially for the up & coming nine [the grandchildren], because all of the laws of diction are violated in the effort. – – maybe (I do not indent or space for paragraphs) this particular primer one might be a kind of boastful, egotistical sort of thing that explains how the undersigned has really triumphed in the battle between him & the twice aforementioned character. In other words for the last few years she has been calling him “Pudgy” instead of honey or sweetheart or other similar honeymoon terms. as of now, it gives the undersigned great pleasure to announce that the valid basis for such unheard? of nickname is slowly but surely disappearing. Changing the subject rather abruptly – this is a cold, cloudy, misty, icy, dreary (so some people) day and it is the opinion of the undersigned that he had better bring this effort to promote family solidarity and individual stability to a halt and chase off down to White Gap and see about the ducks.

The recipients of this will please forward on to the next in the line of chronological descent after having entered their signature or made their mark at the bottom of this or attached sheets along with their comments and finally return, as explained above, to the undersigned,

Gratuitously yours,

Pudgy Pants.

P.S. Please explain to some of the age scrambled nine that old PP can read their writing. [I think that was a hint that the grandkids should write him]

[Thus ends his part, now my aunt Dorothy in California comes in.]

Dec. 24, 1958

Well, thought I’d get time to add a hilarious note to pop’s epistle, but, sing I’m not too gifted along the witty line and it takes me 24 hours to think up the proper thing to say; and, since far be it from me to break the chain, will sent it to the next in line, as I am now working 24 hours a day and have no time for thought. Will send you something for your “garden” tho – the following piece about Homer was in the Inglewood paper. Love to all and “Merry Christmas – Happy New Year.” Dorth

[She attached this article about my uncle:]


[Next, Aunt Billie chimes in. While everyone up to now has been in handwriting, she types hers, which was usually Papa’s favorite style of writing.]

January 14, 1959

I’m afraid if everyone is as long about getting this around as I am it will be a year before said writer receives it back!  [I have to interject – I had forgotten that to make an exclamation point on the typewriter we had to make an apostrophe and then backspace and put a period, or vice versa. Remember that?] I would write a long, amusing, and interesting letter but my two youngest daughters are singing which means I can’t even think much less write. But my best to all of you most fortunate people!

Love, Billie

P.S. I would like to have a newspaper clipping liken unto Homer’s, however the only time my husband’s name has been in the paper was when he was with the man who shot a whole in one in golf (if my terminology is correct and my spelling). Anyway Glendon was so proud of it he sent the clipping to his boss who filed it undoubtedly in his records and will probably get him a promotion!

[Next it comes to Amarillo and it is my mother’s turn. She is two months away from having giving birth to me! And she has a 2-and-a-half-year-old underfoot]

January 19

My mark has had to wait a few days as I wanted Durward to have the privilege of reading this, also, Mackie wouldn’t let Uncle Homer’s picture out of her sight. She was watching cartoons just now and asked if I could sing “Little Lulu” which I proceeded to do lustily. When I had finished, she said, “No, you sure can’t sing it, can you?” Since my writing is somewhat like my singing, I’ll send this on to Baby Louie to see if Jay has shot a “whole” in anything.


Patsy D.

[Then Aunt Louie chimes in in pencil and third-person.]

Louis nearly burst a “whole” in the ceiling after reading this, from laughter. My contribution is on the next 2 pages. I think you should send this sheet around again. This “whole” business is too good to miss!

[Sadly, Aunt Louie’s contribution is also among the missing pages and the next page is once again from Aunt Dorothy in California]

Ladies Beware!!

You’re next!

Jan. 31, 1959

Dear family,

I think dad had a real brainstorm on this chain letter business, and we should keep it going all year. Homer says they had better not get any “funnier” (how do you spell that, Mrs. Hays? I’m inclined to wonder if my terminology is even correct) though or I will die of a spasm as I got so tickled over the last one I lost my breath. I told my family to get busy and pull something funny so I’d have an amusing line to add for a change. Homer commented that I might as well make up something on him like I always do, but Donna decided it was a disgrace that I was the only one in the family who wasn’t witty, so she composed a poem (aided with a few choice words by “the hopper”); and I don’t know whether it was composed as “huskily” as Louey’s (nor as “funnily”), but is respectfully submitted for your approval (or disapproval as the case may be). Looking forward to receiving the next issue. Love, Dorth

P.S. I think Mackie will surely be a comic writer, and I think her contribution should be mailed to Reader’s Digest.

[So then there is this poem composed by Donna who was maybe 12 at the time?]

The Hallford Captain and Crew of son-in-laws

Our paunchy grandpop is on a diet,

and, believe you me, its quite a fight!

He keeps very regular hours,

especially when mamma is working with flowers.

In bed by 5 and up at 2;

then off to the kitchen for a fried egg or two.

Poor Mamma pulls the covers over her head, and wishes to goodness he’d go back to bed.

The father of our happy crew, [she’s talking about her own dad, Homer]

hardly ever catches the flu.

When P.T.A. is mentioned he blows his hairless top,

it takes a while before he will stop.

Uncle Glendon whirls around,

and is a speedy man about town.

his build is lean, his grin is wide,

and he has a very tough hide!

Uncle Jay is always gay,

Until a storm destroys his hay.

He gins by day and by night,

and a trip to California is out of sight.

Uncle Durward is quite a talker,

but not much of a squawker.

he is a regular hunting fiend,

but rarely ever hits a thing.

don’t get me wrong fellows,

I think you’re all tops!

Meek, mild, and mellow,

And a good wielder of mops!

Composed by Donna.

[eventually the letter has gotten back to Papa and has gone to everyone so they can read it so he adds:]


Above specimen of quadro wit received & this date transmitted on the second go round wtih 1st contribution which has been read by all detached & filed away for future phun similar to that of a whole in won.

[End of the round robin letter]

Like I said, funny and always seeking to educate.

I don’t know if more pieces of this letter will appear or not. Doesn’t matter. There are many other amazing letters and documents and pictures and poems to sort through in this box. And maybe I’ll treat you to some of them.

September 25, 2011

Dad’s Shoeshine Box

Filed under: At home,Family — Janice @ 10:10 pm

Ends with Con's graduation 016

I’m bound and determined to write something, anything, more often. I thought to myself that I could at least just put up a picture and write something about it, but that proved harder than I thought it would because each photo seemed wrong in some way or another.

Then I found the picture of Dad’s shoeshine box that I’ve meant to write about before so I might as well right now. This is the box that Daddy kept his shoeshine supplies in all my life… several old toothbrushes to spread the polish, a brush to brush it in good, and strips of old khaki pants to do the final polish. Mackie and I would sometimes BEG to get to polish Daddy’s boots. The kit was always in the back of his closet.

When he died in 2006 I said I wanted the shoeshine kit, just because it was such a part of my whole life. I always liked the fact that the box was wooden and has a little ring on the top to pull the lid out with. It has had a label, as you can see, but I had never studied it or wondered where this box had come from. Mark examines things more thoroughly than I do.

Mark studied the label more closely and said, “You know what this once held?” No, I said. “Embalming fluid.”

It made sense. Daddy worked at a couple of funeral homes in Lubbock when he was going to college. He often said he might have become an undertaker if he hadn’t gone home in the summer and came back to find someone else had taken his job. This box was the heavy duty box that embalming fluid was shipped in from the funeral supply company in St. Louis.

Ends with Con's graduation 010

Inside were all sorts of ancient shoe products. I bet everyone of these was at least 20 years old and that blue bottle probably went back to the 1960s.

Ends with Con's graduation 002

There was quite a variety of boot polishes, too from Gibson’s, TG&Y, and Skaggs along with generic grocery store tags. 33 cents, 27 cents, 53 cents… a timeline of price increases.

Ends with Con's graduation 005

This was the pile of everything that was in the box when I cleaned it out (with a view of a curious Phil checking it out). There were even some of those paper towel rags from motels with “For Your Convenience” printed on them. When was the last time a motel considered that you might want to polish your shoes in their rooms? I did toss the old rags and I think I tossed most of the toothbrushes, but of course I put the bottles and cans and brushes all back in the box and put the box back on our fireplaces as a conversation starter.

Smells hold so many memories and just popping the top on that box takes me back to the 60s and my childhood in an instant.

September 19, 2011

On Second Thought

Filed under: At home,Food — Janice @ 11:48 pm

Yesterday I was sure that my egg and cheese experiment was a huge waste of time and supplies. Today, I’m not so sure. I had a couple of my little egg quiches for breakfast and they weren’t half bad, so I took four for lunch. Don’t think I was stuffing myself, they were all very small. They didn’t taste too egg-y or spinach-y at all anymore, but had a nice cheesey taste and they warmed up quickly. I had to eat them with a spoon and scrape them off the muffin paper. I would have preferred a true little muffin. But next time, if there is a next time, I’ll know some of these things in advance.

The pan still doesn’t seem salvageable. I’ve soaked and scrubbed and it is soaking again. Tomorrow I’ll decide if it just gets thrown away.

Today has been a day of software and hardware issues on the computer making it difficult to do my job. But I got it done and that is a relief. As long as there is SOME way I can do it, I don’t mind.

September 18, 2011

Bad Cook

Filed under: At home,Food — Janice @ 9:10 pm

I wish I were a better cook.

I have had an idea in mind for a while and finally moved forward with it today. I have had some quiches from Costco that were good, but awfully thin and not very inexpensive either. What I was thinking would be great would be a muffin-style quiche or something with egg that could be refrigerated and eaten cold (like I was eating that quiche) or heated up, but could be done ahead of time so I could have a high protein breakfast almost ready for me in the morning.

So I searched and found a promising recipe that involved egg and cheese and spinach and was cooked in muffin cups. I tried it today.

I have never considered a cooking blog because a.) I don’t cook often enough and b.) my pictures of the experience would be lousy. I love reading cooking blogs because they do always have pretty close-up pictures and they use pretty bowls and utensils. I don’t play that game.

But today I did pull out my ancient muffin pan to try this egg muffin thing. It began with mixing cottage cheese and spinach and grated cheddar in a bowl. Yes, I should have had chopped spinach instead of full leaf, but stirring that spinach was like stirring a bowl of yarn. It just wasn’t going to mix up with the other ingredients.

Then the recipe had you fill a muffin cup 3/4 full with this mixture and then top it with an egg and stir them together. Well, maybe they were using those giant muffin cups that they make now and not regular size muffin cups. My cups were WAY full and overflowing. I tried a few that way and then dumped things back in a bowl, added eggs and then just apportioned them back out into the muffin cups.

Those final cups did cook much better. The first overflowed into the oven and burned and stank, etc. etc. That doesn’t make for pretty blog pictures. But, worse, when I pulled this pan out of the oven, even in muffin cups, these muffins were now welded to the sides of the pan. Enough egg had overflowed in most of them to glue them together for life. And if not the muffin to the pan, at least the muffin to the wrapper. I have a feeling there will be a lot of paper ingested – if we do, in fact, eat these things.

I made the 12 that her recipe said it would make and then made another 12 because that’s really how many muffins it made. I pictured them being firm and tasty and being able to pop a muffin or two into my mouth for breakfast. I tried one when they came out of the oven. Theoretically, this would be when they would be at their best. But, ick, they were eggy and spinachy. Maybe that makes some sense since they were full of egg and spinach, but I don’t know if that is what I want to face at 8 a.m.

They are all now stashed away in the fridge and I will attempt to eat one in the morning. I don’t think, no, I know I won’t be doing this recipe again. I might not be doing it because I’m about to trash this muffin pan. It is hard enough to wash a muffin pan when it doesn’t have egg glued to it, but this thing has been soaking all evening and doesn’t seem ready to wash easily so I’m ready to trash it.

September 17, 2011

My Gardening Efforts

Filed under: At home,Austin,Family — Tags: , — Janice @ 11:56 am

This year has just been the year where I’ve hoped to keep the garden alive and there has been no wild plans of installing new beds or even improving the ones I have with new plantings or cultivation.

I haven’t even been all that successful in keeping things alive. Last weekend I trimmed out some large parts of my monster rosemary bush that have died in the drought. Beside the house stands a dead American beautyberry, a drought-resistant Texas native, that couldn’t take the heat and the lack of water this summer (especially after following the bitter freezes of last winter). My little Japanese maple is making a valiant effort to live in the back and we’ve watered it thoroughly as often as we are allowed, but it has curled and withered leaves.

Last weekend while I was finally out looking at the garden, since the temperatures had dropped below 100 for the first time 3 months, I looked at one flower bed we have out front and thought about my great-grandmother Williams’ flowers. I think I’ve written about them before, but a quick look through previous Septembers doesn’t reveal the post, so I can’t link to it.

Back in the 1970s, Mother tells that my dad’s grandmother, Mattie Lett Williams, gave her some bulbs to plant. Grandma Williams was in her late 80s or 90s by then. Mom planted by the side of our house and waited for spring for them to produce blooms, but nothing came up. I believe that Grandma had told Mom that they were a spring-blooming bulb. Nothing happened for a period of years and Mother had pretty much forgotten about them.

In August of 1978, Grandma Williams died at 95 years old. In just a few weeks, bright cheerful red blooms burst from the ground where Mom had planted those bulbs. It was one of those fun little signs from heaven that we all look for. From then on, every year about the time Grandma died, these bulbs would pop up in late August or early September.

When I got into Master Gardening in the 90s, I learned that these bulbs are called oxblood lilies or schoolhouse lilies. Schoolhouse because of their color and because they truly are a fall-blooming bulb and pop up around the beginning of the school year. Mark has renamed them “Mammaryllises” since our “Mamma Williams” gave them to us.

A unique feature of the mammaryllis is that it gives no warning that it is about to come up. Unlike so many other plants, it has no leaves or greenery or shoots before the bloom. They all come up almost instantaneously and suddenly there is a complete plant with leaves and a stem and multiple blooms all at one time.

So I stood at the parched garden last weekend and wondered about the bulbs and whether I’d have any blooms this year. They are in a garden close to the street and technically on our neighbor’s property, but we put it in and maintain it and enjoy it. It doesn’t get a lot of water, though, because it is mostly full of natives that can tolerate the drought. I wondered if we’d see a bloom at all and expected the bulb to take a year off and wait until times were better next year.

Then on Wednesday morning this week I got a text from Mark: Mammarylisses are blooming!

I got home and took some pictures:



They are probably not bright enough or dense enough to be seen from the street by passersby, but I can see them when I look out my front window toward the street. They are red and robust and energizing. They make me feel like life does continue even through the worst drought and heatwave I’ve ever lived through.

Grandma/Mamma Williams and Mom in the 1950s. She was already in her 70s here. And she had another 25 years to go!


September 11, 2011


Filed under: Music — Tags: — Janice @ 9:29 pm

I’m very glad that football is back on the air. I hope that I don’t post about it at all, though (except this) because I have discovered from my old diaries how boring it is to even read “Dallas won” years later. Just doesn’t affect me after the fact.

But I am enjoying it to the fullest this weekend and that is why I haven’t written.

August 26, 2011

The EYB at the Nutty Brown

Filed under: Music — Janice @ 5:47 pm

It’s bad enough that I don’t write, but when I DO write and don’t get it posted, that irritates me a lot. So, yes, I wrote this sometime within the last week because I went to this show a week ago…

I just don’t go out that much anymore. I’ve gotten old and/or lazy and don’t go see new bands or even old bands I like. I am leery of new venues and reluctant to go to old venues. There’s a few shows from time to time I make the effort to go to and I’m always glad I did, but that doesn’t make me any more eager to go to the next one.

One of the record reps I deal with emailed me a while back and asked if I would come to see the Eli Young Band when they played the Nutty Brown Café for their CD release. I said that I would, but I wasn’t too excited about the prospect. This band is a band from Denton that were climbing the charts and touring across Texas when I was with the radio station. Their music never really fit the true “Texas country” genre that we promoted, so we never played any of their music in our regular rotation. They did play our music series at least a time or two and I had them on my show a couple of times. In fact, I’m pretty sure Mike Eli was one of the last interviews I did while I was there.

So I wasn’t thrilled to go to the show, but I said I would go and I did go Friday night. An intern that has been working for us this summer, Katie Wolters, met me out there for the show and we had a really good time. The last time I had seen EYB was also at the Nutty Brown and they were a little too polished and rehearsed and “hair gel country” for my tastes. This time they were much more accessible and had great songs and melodies and they toned down the sparkle and made it a great show. I enjoyed them.

Afterward, my record rep wanted us to say hi to the band so he took us backstage and did the introductions. The guys were nice enough to remember me and called me an “early supporter” of their music. That was nice, but I can’t say that I was at all. Certainly no more than they deserved. I didn’t give them any breaks, I guess I should say. But they have already had a couple of songs make the national charts and the new one, Crazy Girl, is going strong and should do better now that the album has been released.

Here’s me and Katie and the band:


Funny, it is a little fuzzy because the format was small. The only other picture I have with the band is the same way.

It was also a surprise to see my friend Keith Davis is playing with the band on their current tour (he’s not pictured). And my friend Ryan James wrote a song on their album and he came out and played  it with them, too. I had several nice surprises like that during and after the show. It was fun to see many old friends that I hadn’t seen since my radio days.

I’ve said this before that it is hard for me to really be INTO a show anymore. I’m always critiquing and thinking about it’s commercial viability, etc. And these days I’m also thinking “Lord it’s hot” and “I wish I could sit down” and “How much longer?” I hate to have lost that connection with the music that I used to have, but that is the way it is with most shows (not all, but most). Viewing it even from that perspective though, these guys had a great show and I expect they are going to be known more in the months to come.

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