Our Country

I found this postcard among old family photos: It is postmarked October 10, 1917. On that day, we were still 13 months away from the armistice that would end World War I. Oscar, my relative, wrote on the reverse that he was in Houston waiting to get on a train, presumably to head into basic training and then to the war in Europe. I know by looking at the card […]

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Shakespeare’s Buddies

I heard a line from The Tempest about eyes that turned to pearls (or something like that) and decided that I needed to read the play, because that’s the kind of weird thing I do. Frankly, it’s a miracle I ever finish reading anything with all the tangents I get led off to. I probably abandon half the reading material I pick up in any given year, usually because it […]

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My First Oil Painting

There have been a couple of things I’ve wanted to write about, but until I have time and energy to do so, here’s how my finished oil painting turned out: I started with it dry… Then started working on it… And finished with this: One down and three to go before I get to try color.

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The Progression of a Painting

Back in college I took art history, in which I learned the astonishing (to me) fact that the old masters had as many as 99 layers to their oil paintings. I always thought that meant they had 99 layers of, say, blue on Mary’s veil, something that would give the color “depth.” Not so. As it turns out, the layers have different functions. First comes the primer to keep the […]

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The Bucket List

Have you made your New Year’s resolutions? ‘Cause I haven’t. But I did find this gem of a book today as I was cleaning up. It’s called The Big Caring Book and Daisies Too and Missions and Chores. Only it actually reads, The Big Caring Boog and Dasys to and mishons and chors, because my 6-year-old is its author. My favorite part was about Missions and Chores. Here is the […]

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The Truth About Santa Claus

My kids wrote their letters to Santa weeks ago. For my six-year-old, it was a simple matter of sitting in front of the TV for half an hour and writing down the items that appeared in the commercials. This she did in checklist form: Then she wrote the letter itself: A couple of weeks ago she came home from school and said, “Mama, Anushka says there’s no such thing as […]

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A Christmas Party

Yesterday I got to volunteer at the annual party for our local Mental Health and Mental Retardation office. Somewhere around 350 clients attended. It was a huge collaborative effort, with many volunteers and donors. My mom was responsible for the gift collection and wrapping effort. She got more than 500 gifts put together and transported to the party. Leftovers went to the MHMR office for homebound clients. Mom and Dad […]

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Hallelujah!

Did you know that Handel’s Messiah has been continuously performed since its debut in 1742? Last month a flash mob of very talented choristers performed the Hallelujah chorus in the food court of a mall. If you’re not familiar with the term “flash mob”, it’s a phenomenon where a group of people get together in a public place, do something random and unexpected all at the same time, and then […]

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Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

The boy cracked me up this morning when he announced that he had an answer to the hypothetical question, “Who would you invite to dinner, dead or alive?” No one had asked him this question, but he busted out with an answer nonetheless. In order it was: 1) Bill Gates, 2) Michael Dell, 3) Warren Buffett, 4) Ndamukong Suh, 5) Michael Jackson, 6) Johnny Cash, and 7) Jesus. That would […]

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Austin Calling (1939)

The Big M was cleaning out his beloved garage and found this in my stacks of stuff: It’s the Austin phone book from 1939, the year my mother’s parents were married. My grandmother moved from the distant town of Del Valle (just past the Austin airport) to join her new husband on a farm 10 miles closer to Austin but still outside the city limits. She had never had a […]

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