Past Hope. Present Hope.

 the-guys-at-the-farmFrom the left…my husband, my niece’s husband, our son-in-law, my two nephews…at our farm during Thanksgiving week, 2016!


My parents always had many hopes for their future.

My parents always had hopeful plans for their children.

My parents always hoped that we would go to college.

My parents always hoped for joyful grandchildren.

My parents always hoped for a strong sense of family.

Hope…just a thought…just a wish…just a reality.

On this New Year’s Eve, 2016…I sincerely want to send the following message to my parents…I so wish that it could be in person…but, I know that they hear my words…

Dear Mama and Daddy,

All of your hope and dreams came true. My brother and I made it! We had both finished college and both married before we lost you. You already had five grandchildren! I know that they were the loves of your lives!

I saw how happy you were to play endlessly with my brother’s children, to make chocolate chip cookies with them and to show so many pictures of them to your friends. You were there when our son, Justin was born. He loved you with all his heart. I still have all of the little matchbox cars you would buy for him at the grocery store. He was only seven when we lost you, but he always remembered how wonderful you were to him. I know that he is with you now…with his loving grandparents.

I was so happy for you to be with us when our daughter was born. She was just two years old when you left us, but you had the opportunity to hold her and love her continuously. I wish that you could have really known her like you knew Justin! You would be excited that she can sing like you, Mama! She is smart and pretty and has so many friends! You both would be proud that she finished graduate school! You would be so happy that she married two years ago. Her husband is just right for her…just like you truly thought that your son-in-law was just right for me! I suppose that parents do know best!!

My brother’s three children are everything that you would want them to be. They are all married to the most special partners that you can imagine. They are happy and successful and they remember you. They all went to college just like you would have wanted! Our daughter is very close to them. Both of the boys definitely remember your ham radio, Daddy! They like it that you would talk to people from far, far away! You would like…no, you would love computers, Daddy! Just think how many people you could communicate with from around the world! And Mama…they remember your cooking…the best ever! When they are at the farm for Thanksgiving, I try to cook all of your favorite recipes!  I placed all of your recipes in notebooks so that they will always be saved!

And best of all Mama and Daddy…you have seven of the most precious great-grandchildren that you can imagine! My brother was so happy to have grandchildren. Mike and I love each of them just like you all would have loved them. I so wish that you could see all of the seven little children together! They have so much fun playing and our daughter is their very, very fun older cousin! They are her “fan club”! She always calls them her “little cousins” and six of them were in her wedding! However, the very youngest was only a few months old at the time!

Thank you Mama and Daddy for teaching us that family is the part of our lives that matters the most! I promise that we will always remember the love that you gave to us! When we laugh and have fun together…I like to think that you are right there beside us! I am hopeful that you are nearby! In fact, I know that you are with us!

Lots of love from Tricia!


You Gotta’ Go To School. No Moping.


From the poem “Sick” by Shel Silverstein…

HEY…WAKE UP! YESYOU have to go to school. You CANNOT sleep until 9:00 or even 8:00. PLEASE eat your breakfast. BRUSH your teeth…NO BUBBLEGUM. You HAVE to wear those clothes. NO torn blue jeans. NO flip flops. WHERE is your work folder? You FORGOT it?






Peggy Ann McKay is having a very terrible, horrible, awful, very bad day…just as a child had in another children’s book. In “Where the Sidewalk Ends”, a poetry book for children by Shel Silverstein…Peggy Ann McKay evidently has contracted several illnesses since bedtime.

Not only does she have back trouble and a sprained ankle, she thinks that she might just have mumps and measles at the same time. Poor, poor baby. Poor, poor Mama. Poor, poor teacher. Peggy Ann is…

Sicker than sick ever thought sick could be!

For the fourth time in four weeks!

Nobody goes to school with these problems!




Peggy Ann McKay just does not understand anything about calendars. When they talked about the days of the week, she was looking in her lunchbox. She does know what day her mother keeps saying over and over again…






Thank you Shel Silverstein for making it Saturday…says the very, very tired teacher as she goes out the door to shop!!


Making Main Street New Again!


Main Street Christmas Parade in Grapevine, Texas

Think back to your hometown. Think about the original Main Street in the center of downtown. If you were in the high school band, you marched down Main Street in every parade…   come rain or shine. There was most likely a movie theater on Main Street. Perhaps the Main Street movie theater is where you went on your first date. Perhaps Main Street is where you were allowed to go shopping with a group of friends.

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A Quote Worthy of an Ovation.


Your life is an open slate…it is up to you to fill the slate with worthwhile spaces.


Over 25 years ago, the above quote was on the front page in a Presbyterian weekly. The quote was selected for publication by the former minister at our church. Even if I was busy with two young children, I always took time to read the “From the Pastor” column because they were very applicable to our current lives and always worthy of ovations. This quote has become an important part of my life.

I had no idea that I would keep the quote…posted with a magnet to our refrigerator…for over 25 years. The quote touched me to the core of the beliefs that I had been developing since I was a child. I couldn’t believe that someone else felt the same way that I did. What a revelation! Thank goodness that I wasn’t the only one to want to live a life that was more calm than erratic…with more spontaneous moments and less regulated moments.

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New Year’s Black-Eyed Pea Salsa!

 black-eyed-pea-salsaExperiment by adding chopped 1/2 green and 1/2 yellow bell peppers!

If you live in the Southern part of the United States, you most likely have enjoyed black-eyes peas on New Year’s Day! Or…maybe in many locations in the United States! Black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day are a tradition and my family has definitely always enjoyed A LOT of black-eyed peas on January 1. We have certainly not retreated from tradition! This tradition (or maybe superstition) says that you will have GOOD LUCK all year if you have this particular food on the table on the all important first day of the year!

I am just not taking any chances on this GOOD LUCK business! Who am I to say that it is not true? Remember that we are talking about the entire year! Even if I did not like them at all, I would still make sure to have them on the table. Black-eyed peas can be delicious…we had them on Thanksgiving with every other vegetable that you can imagine. Guess what huge bowl was very close to empty after our guests had three or four helpings? Yep…those peas…I imagine that people were just practicing for New Year’s!!

If you decide to not retreat and to  join the black-eyed pea tradition…since it is just not a good idea to take a chance on having Lousy Luck…here is a super recipe!!!

Black-Eyed Pea Salsa For New Year’s Day!

1 can black-eyed peas (drained)

1/4 can yellow whole kernal corn (drained)

1 can Rotel tomatoes (entire can, do not drain at all)

2 or 3 green onions (chopped)

1 garlic clove (finely minced)

1/2 teaspoon chopped cilantro

1/2 chopped small green bell pepper

1/2 chopped small yellow pepper

1/2 to 1 lime (juiced)

1 tablespoon olive oil (or a bit more if the salsa seems dry)

1 tablespoon sugar

salt & pepper to your taste

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Serve with tortilla chips. A side of guacamole is a great accompaniment!


Christmas Eve Memories. Cousins!


On the right…my Uncle Merton, PePa and MeMa on Christmas Eve!

I absolutely loved Christmas Eve as a child. I still love Christmas Eve today and can still conjure up that same feeling of wonderment. I just miss the relatives that were at the center of our family Christmas Eve party.

I still keep those Christmas Eve parties deep within my heart.

On Christmas Eve, I discover that I miss my parents. My brother. My aunts. My uncles. My very fun grandfather (PePa). My very pretty grandmother (MeMa). Time does move very fast and when we are children…it seems like the most fun times of childhood will last forever. We grow up, have our own children and make our own memories. However…

I still keep those cherished Christmas memories deep within my heart!

We would spend Christmas Eve at one house or another… sometimes at my parent’s house. Sometimes, Aunt Doris would be the hostess. Sometimes, Aunt Lois would be the hostess. Sometimes, Aunt Ethel would be the hostess. I have no idea how they made the decision about the exact location each year. They evidently just took turns. There were always beautiful decorations and a truly wonderful dinner. I am not even sure if the hostess made the dinner or if everyone brought something. Children just don’t think about the logistics of the situation. We just were excited to have the party.


My aunt and uncle with my parents at our dining room table.

I still keep the vision of the party house and the decorations deep within my heart.

Everyone dressed up for Christmas Eve…grownups and children. We are so much more casual today. When we arrived at the party, we had appetizers and the grownups had wine. I remember that my mother always made her little cheese biscuits with olives on the inside. She also made the very small hamwich…a delicious homemade roll with ham and maybe cheese on the inside. Unless she ran out of time, she would make pecan tassies. Oh my! So good! I am sure that my aunts had their special Christmas recipes since they were all excellent cooks.

I still keep the vision of passing around the appetizers deep within my heart.

I mentioned that the grownups had wine. My mother would get out her most prized wine glasses. The glasses were each a different color…very muted and pastel. I have them in my china cabinet. Usually my Uncle Doyle would be the total life of the party. He had an outgoing and big personality made even bigger by even one glass of wine! When my cousins and I were almost teenagers, we tried to slip some wine for ourselves. If my memory serves me correctly, we were quite successful several times. Of course, we would sneak off to another room with small cups of wine.

I still keep the vision of my parents, my aunts, my uncles, my grandparents laughing and talking deep within my heart. 


From the left…Carolyn, Kathryn and me…cousins playing in my backyard.

My cousins were at the center of my world on Christmas Eve and every other day. We played together often and could easily visit. Our hometown was not particularly big. We went to two different elementary schools, but went to the same junior high and high school. I had six cousins on my Dad’s side of the family and one brother. Most were older than me. As luck would have it, three of us were the same age and one was just two years older.  I was the oldest of the three “same age cousins” with a September birthday, followed by Kathryn in December and Mark in April. Two years ahead of us was Carolyn with an April birthday. I loved them so very much and still do.

I still keep the vision of happy times with my cousins deep within my heart.

We have all found our own kind of success as well as happiness…probably because of our loving parents and family. There is truly something to be said for living close to extended family in the growing up years. We had more people than just our parents to be accountable to…not to mention their close friends! I doubt that we could have gotten away with much without someone seeing us.


From the left…Mark, my friend and me…in my backyard.

I still keep the vision of my grandparents telling us to behave and not go into PePa’s “smoking his pipe” room deep within my heart.

So…we were just well behaved. At least, I thought so! I really think that Mark went into the “smoking his pipe” room, but I have no proof. Otherwise, the worst thing we did at Kathryn and Carolyn’s house was to repeatedly slide down the banister. But…who in their right mind can resist a banister? The worst thing that Mark and I did was to wander very far down the creek that separated our neighborhoods. But…who in their right mind can resist a creek…especially one that ran behind a miniature golf course? We just had fun growing up together.

I still keep the vision of our wonderful family Christmas Eve deep within my heart. I still keep my three closest cousins deep within my heart.

 Wishing a very Merry Christmas to my cousins… Carolyn, Kathryn and Mark!

Opulence Personified. Hearst Castle.


William Randolph Hearst, a media mogul, was the driving force behind the architectural folly named Hearst Castle. Located in San Simeon CA, the sprawling Hearst Castle is representative of vast land holdings and vast wealth as well as vast ostentation. We had the opportunity to tour the Hearst Castle while on a trip to San Francisco. The words that I use to describe the Hearst Castle are unreal, extravagant, dominating, opulent, magnificent, artful, remarkable.



The view of the Pacific Ocean from the Hearst Castle.

Not only was Hearst a newspaper publisher, he was also considered a media genius and a political activist. He was a collector of art and a collector of Hollywood friends. When he decided to have the Hearst Castle built, he was inspired by castles and art that he had seen in Europe. Hearst wanted the grandeur of European architecture to be re-created in the United States. An architect named Julia Morgan worked with Hearst for 28 years to construct a castle worthy of being compared to those in Europe. Hearst died in 1951 and the castle was never completely finished in his lifetime.



The outdoor pool.

To Hearst, his almost finished castle was an excellent example of borrowing from the past…a re-creation…a seemingly romantic and classic structure. To students of architecture, it is considered a folly. A folly is described in architectural terms (according to as an ornamental structure that reflects the whimsical nature of the builder. The structure is built primarily to be viewed as part of the scenery.



The dining room.

When we visited the Hearst Castle, I was not familiar with this terminology. There is no doubt that the castle is part of the scenery…the grand scale of the structure, the lavish swimming pools with water as blue as the sky, the light and dark green landscaping, the wide lens view of the Pacific Ocean, the fog that often surrounds the castle. I would gladly visit the castle again and immerse myself in the structure’s history.



One of the bell towers.

Whether considered powerful and sometimes ruthless or considered a genius of a businessman, Hearst put his vision into fruition for all the world to see. I do not call that merely whimsical or merely ornamental. I call it a historical curiosity worthy of wonder.


Suddenly I Like Boots. Strange.



I think that I will choose the blue short boots or…any of them!


For several years…maybe even a lot of years…I wore clogs. You know those shoes that look normal at the front, but have no back. I had to learn to walk in them. Why would anyone in their right mind want to wear shoes that have a learning curve? What a curiosity! What an oddity! What a conundrum! Yes…what a puzzling situation!

Even though puzzling, I started thinking that clogs were sort of attractive. OK…maybe, they were just casual and comfortable. If I could have always stayed upright in them, I would have been totally comfortable. When your foot slips off the back of the clog, there is not much you can do but fall down. Well…that was my own personal experience. The clog became rather dangerous and the falls were less than comfortable. And certainly the falls were not graceful.

And Then I Discovered The Short Boot!

Like Successfully Panning For Gold In Colorado!

Comfort! No Kidding!

While shopping for who knows what, just shopping for something…I hear some short black boots calling my name. Evidently… these boots are correctly called booties. But..what does a clog girl really know about boots? I tried them on and guess what?!?! They felt great. They fit. They made me walk a little straighter. They made me feel taller. I realize that the last statement is a stretch. Just let me be naive for a little longer!

My First Short Boots! Ok…Booties…



Other Interesting Short Boots…



Love the color…love the heel height!



Different style and I really like them…even with the biker look!


And Lastly…Should It Snow This Year In Texas…I Will Definitely Need These…

But…Don’t Count On The Snow At All!!!


Our Daughter. Our Son-in-Law.


Two years ago this evening, our daughter walked down the very long aisle of our church. A smile on her face. Her groom waiting at the front of the church. A side glance here and there to see all of their friends, all of their relatives, all of their parents’ friends…gathered together from near and far.

Gathered together in the sight of God to celebrate love and commitment…

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

 Matthew 18:20

King James Version



Surrounded by close friends and our daughter’s much loved “little cousins”, the photos to capture the memories were carefully taken. As her parents, we were filled with joy over this moment in time.

“To everything there is a season, a time to every purpose under heaven.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

King James Version




Music and friends filled the reception with the fullness of happiness and laughter. The band played on and on.  My husband welcomed our guests. There were a few tears from both of us. The groom danced with his mother. The bride danced with her father. Our close friend had known the bride since she was born. He gave a truly heartfelt prayer. The dinner and the party began. Fun and friends!


“These things I have spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.”

John 15:11

King James Version




And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13

New International Version

The Owl. The Tree. The Sounds.

Mr. Owl in a tree at our farm today. You may have to turn your volume up…he is rather quiet and shy…especially in the daytime with a camera in his face.

Owls are a bit of a different creature. They are very busy at night and very quiet in the day. Owls can make quite a lot of noise if you happen to be visiting out in the country. Just what animals are the owls calling to and what are they saying? Owls worry the bald eagles with little eaglets in a nest because of the way they can easily and silently swoop down. They either scare away or bring the coyotes closer to a tree. The curiosity of an owl’s hooting can push a coyote’s curiosity to the max. Eventually, the coyotes will flee from the owl. Or so people say out in the country. An owl can easily push my curiosity too. I have always been totally fascinated by owls. They are just sort of unusually weird…well, in a good sort of way.


It is true. We all have some weird trait that only someone with the same weird trait can understand. Finding the specific someone who has that trait can be a complex endeavor. And maybe it is not always a positive endeavor. According to Dr. Seuss, weird ones should join up with other weird ones and call it love. Not sure about that. I just know that I truly love owls and I am fascinated by their sounds in the night. Therefore…according to Dr. Seuss…I must be weird like the owl. Mutual weirdness. News flash for Dr. Seuss: my husband is not weird at all. He is really quite calm and normal. Just one weird person around here!


Mr. Owl minding his own business and just sitting in the tree.

 I acquired Mr. Owl when my husband found him for sale in the Halloween aisle of a nearby “we have everything you need and some things that you didn’t know that you really need” type store. I had no idea that I needed Mr. Owl, but I was so excited to own him.

Note to WordPress blogger “Chicken Grandma”:

This is the very important “Mr. Owl” that your husband would like! We might could work out a trade or just a “husband’s junk store find” visitation schedule! I honestly and desperately need your “Pete the Pirate”!profilepicturequotes-com-nxj_cute_quotes_and_sayi

Mr. Owl became a permanent resident in my classroom. I was teaching Third Grade when he arrived and every grade down to Kindergarten and Pre-Kindergaten during his residency. Every child…no matter what age…were very fascinated by our pet owl!

Did I mention that he was very fake, but very close to being real to the children?! 

Each year, Mr. Owl was the catalyst for many exciting classroom science lessons. Our owl study was very similar to the weeks and weeks that we studied the Bald Eagles in Decorah, Iowa. Please see my August 24th post titled Learning About Eagles. Amazing!…the children always left for summer vacation with a love of learning about eagles and owls and science! And they learned lots of facts and so did I! Such a fun classroom time!


An excellent website named Science Kids, Fun Science & Technology for Kids ( a wealth of information for classrooms. From this website, we began our study with the following owl facts:

1. There are around 200 different owl species.

2. Owls are active at night (noctornal).

3. A group of owls is called a parliament.

4. Most owls hunt insects, small mammals and other       birds.

5. Some owl species hunt fish.

6. Owls have powerful talons (claws) which help them catch and kill prey.

7. Owls have large eyes and a flat face.

8. Owls can turn their heads as much as 270 degrees

9. Owls are farsighted, meaning they can’t see things close to their eyes clearly.

10. Owls are virtually silent in flight compared to other birds of prey.

11. The color of owl’s feathers helps them blend into their environment (camouflage).

12. Barn owls can be recognized by their heart shaped face.

As we studied owls, Mr. Owl stayed quietly in his place on a shelf at the front of my classroom. For most of the years, he remained silent unless someone punched the small “sound” button attached to his right talon. It was a rule that Mr. Owl did not want to be touched, so this rarely happened. He was quiet UNTIL THIS YEAR! During our circle time when I was teaching a lesson or reading a book to the children, Mr. Owl would suddenly start hooting! All of the children would be sitting on the floor in front of me. He was obviously getting tired of his perch!


Which owl is real? See the story and picture in The Huffington Post.

Mr. Owl was also ready to retire! He now lives at our farm. He did make a suddenly very loud appearance during Thanksgiving! Sometimes Mr. Owl cannot keep quiet! And then he decided to quietly flee away!