Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Poems of Awakening

Poems of Awakening

I'm still busily reading and reviewing for Story Circle Book Review--and sometimes other places. Here's my latest. It a great nature-based poetry anthology. Read it under a tree or by a river. Watch out folks with birthdays coming up!

Poems of Awakening: An International Anthology of Spiritual Poetry

Betsy Small

Outskirts Press, 2011  

Early in the morning, late at night, in quiet times and busy ones—there is a poem for the moment. Betsy Small, a practicing yoga as well as a professional musician has combined her skills and talents to bring together an array of works from across the globe and across time. Her well-accomplished goal she tells us in the introduction is to offer the works of poets who share their “experiences of living joyfully in the moment. . .”
            The selection of authors speaks to Small’s arduous efforts to reflect the world: generally know names like Mary Oliver, Sara Teasdale , May Sarton, and e.e. cummings join the less familiar Dogen Zenji, Uvanuk, and Zagajewski. Despite the variety, each selection speaks to a moment.
            Reflecting the author’s yoga background and designed by her to be used as part of yoga practice (savasana), the anthology will have a broader appeal. Any person who relishes her life, her days, will find moments to appreciate and to identify with from the majesty of the earth and her creatures (Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese,” Wendell Berry’s “Sabbath Poem”) to the mundane busyness of daily life, finding glory in washing a wine glass, seeing crockery as a mandala, or letting in a cat to dine and share a bed (May Sarton’s “New Year Resolve”).
            Small suggests that while a “reader can savor poems individually, as integral elements of sets, or as part of the entire collection, which can be read in one sitting as a poetic essay consisting of linked sets.” I chose to do the latter, grabbing my book and heading for a nearby park where I could sit on the ground beneath an old oak tree.
            I recommend the experience. The intertwining of the emotions of the selections is powerful. But once, or, at least, once in a while, is probably enough. For the most part, I plan to keep the book on my reading table where I can often reach out for a poem that allows me to find joy in the moment at hand.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shopping Around

Brand new Whole Foods Market


It's good old Fiesta

No question about it. Fiesta is my store. Friendly, nice people. Friendly, nice customers. Great produce and fish. Interesting cuts of meat. Fun to go. When that enormous, monster HEB that’s going up across the street on Dunlevy opens, I’m going to do my best (I’m not taking bets) not to even walk through the HEB door. And I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Fiesta is definitely my store, but still! When a new Whole Foods opens less than two miles from my front door, and when it’s not just any old Whole Foods (if there is an “any old Whole Food”), but a state-of-the-culinary-art Whole Foods, a Whole Foods that is so state-of-the artsy that the Houston Chronicle food section runs a long, many pictured article about it—don’t know what the other advertiser thought of that—what’s a body to do?

Well, go on Day 2. Bob, grandson Hunter and I made it our weekly adventure. We’d case the place, fill up on free samples—the article promised lots and lots—and each pick out dinner our own dinner. Lots of fun.
Gee! WF has everything--even
vending machines with original art.

Enough chocolate? Maybe.
And enough salad.

Yummy samples on every aisle.

Not to mention the wine and beer
bar--just to get you in the mood.

"I know it'll be pizza,
but which one?
Finally, we get to go home and eat.

Yummy pizza.
Yummy mac and cheese (what else?)
Yummy ribs with the fixin's.

I ask, "Who knows about food?"
The firefighter from nearby Station 16 say,
Y’know? Maybe once in a while.  But Fiesta is still my store! 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Surprise Dad! Let's Eat!

Before we do Father's Day lets flashback to Mother’s Day. A great day. A superlative family brunch.
            “Would have been perfect,” I told daughter Katy, if only you’d been there. No comment—for a few days, and then I got an e-mail: 

You said something that hit a chord with me ... I'm thinking maybe I'll fly in Saturday before Father's Day and fly out Monday. It's a cheap ticket - $160!
I would have just seen you guys, but that makes it all the more fun. I was thinking I could Taxi it from Hobby to Spanish Village, where you will tell Bob you want a late lunch (or anywhere you'd like and only if you guys are free) and when you get there, or I get there, we'll surprise him. Flight lands at noon, so I could be there by 1 at the latest.

What do you think? Can you keep the secret?

 Could I ever? Not real easy, but I did.

Plans for Spanish Village, the world-class enchilada capital of Houston and site of many happy memories from Katy’s kidhood.  Everything was right on track. Late the week before she clued her brother Chris. Yes, he and his crew would join us. What a surprise.

You said it. Saturday morning, Katy e-mails, “Flight delayed.” I cook up a ruse, “Chris and Nancy are running late. . .” He buys it. Finally, it’s cheese enchiladas at around 2, with no Katy and four people trying not to spill the beans. Bob is mildly curious why we’re having lunch today when we’re doing Father’s Day tomorrow. “We got to talking about enchiladas. . .” 

Home again. Text from Katy, “Cancelled. New flight leaves at 3.’

Text from Katy, “On tarmac.”

Text from Katy. “No crew, back in terminal.”

Finally around 5 she’s on the plane. A call, “I don’t want to come to the house. No fun. Meet me at the West Alabama Ice House.” That’s our down-the-street refuge for beer and good, easy goin’ company. “Don’t know how I’ll pull that off, but I will!”

Call just before 7, “I’m waiting for a cab.” Bob’s curious again. “Katy’s bored.” I explain.

Then a few minutes later, “After those enchiladas, we won’t want supper, but I’ve gotta get out of here. Let’s go down to the W. Alabama.” Bob never has to be urged. We’re in the car and headed down the street. If it weren’t over 100 degrees we’d walk.

We walk up to the bar, when a woman touches Bob’s arm, “Sir, may I offer you a beer!”

Surprised? Just a little bit!
The Ice House welcomes all.
It's a friendly place!

Spanish Village--Just as good
the second time around.

Bob models a favorite gift.

The whole crew--Jim and Nancy, Trilla,
Chris, Bob, Katy, Hunter in front.
Bob and his babies
Hunter, Chris, and Katy
Silly family, silly family

Next morning papers and the wait for noon and a family Feast at Feast, another, but newer favorite. The whole gang—this time, Katy included. Feast is a "snout to tail" adventure.

Bob declared he’d never eat again, but by evening—off to another of Katy’s kiddy favorites—the Hobbit CafĂ©. The restaurant has moved but the menu is the same, so we indulged in Gandalph and Bilbo sandwiches.
My Gandalph. It's a "slim." Jut
imagine a "classic"!
Monday morning, thank goodness, this time right on schedule, Katy heads back to Atlanta. A happy lass leaving a mighty happy dad!
Bye, Daddy. I love you.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fiddlin' Around A Father's Day Tribute

In honor of Father’s Day, here’s a tribute to a fine, fiddling, farming Texas Dad—my grandfather, Charles T. Nordyke, husband of Narrie (see my entry about Narrie on May 8, Mother’s Day), and father of my dad, Lewis T. Nordyke. This entry is at both and I don’t overlap often, but today, I do.

Fiddlin’ around

All of his life Charlie was fiddlin' for friend, family
and party-line pals.

Charlie couldn’t remember when he didn’t have a fiddle in his hand. Everyone in his family did, or a guitar, or banjo, maybe a mandolin. About the proudest day of his life was when he was 12. He got his own violin. No more borrowing or waiting his turn. His own violin! It was beat up and old when he got it but he treasured it and played for the next 75 years, but not every day, he’d promised his mother he’d never play on Sunday until he was 80. (I remember many joyous Sunday evenings listening to “Turkey in the Straw, “The Soldier’s Joy,” and, of course, “Listen to the Mockingbird” after that awaited birthday.) The violin was always Charlie’s proudest possession.
            Born in Missouri, Charlie and his family followed the bumper sticker dictum and got to Texas just as fast as they could. When he was only four, he rode a gray mare tied behind his family’s wagon as the wagon train wound its way to Texas. Once there Charlie’s branch of the family bid good bye to friends and some family in Callahan County and headed south to Limestone County, where Charlie grew up, hating farming and loving his fiddle.
Narrie and Charlie Nordyke
married December 24, 1899
            When he was a young man he determined to live by the fiddle and not the plow. He headed to Ft. Worth where he ended up in the red-light district. He could handle that, but not the requirement that he work on Sunday. He headed back to Limestone County. But he didn’t give up his quest. He decided to set off fo Alaska and the Klondike, but first a trip to Callahan to say good-bye to the Nordyke kin. That changed everything.

One of those dratted mules.
            Young Nancy Narcissus Coffey (Narrie) flat stole his heart. There went the Klondike, here came the wedding bells. On December 24, 1899 Charlie and Narrie married. For the next 50 years Charlie farmed by day, cussin’ mules, hauling cotton, hating it, but in the evenings—ah! Out came the fiddle, here came the neighbors. Right through seven children, Haley’s Comet, two world wars, the great depression, Charlie fiddled, thumped his foot and was happy.
            So were the neighbors who came from all over for their fiddle fix. Lewis, his middle child and my dad, speculated that the Nordyke family may have set up the country’s first network when they figured out that if Charlie fiddled into the telephone, all their party-line friends could join in.
The family gathered, probably for Narrie's sixtieth birthday
in April, 1934. Standing behind their parents
Alda, Clarence, Bessie, Lewis, Elsie, Noel, and Peaches. The
live-giving windmill towers over them.

 Lewis didn't grow up to be a fiddler; he grew up to be a writer, and, in 1960, he wrote a piece about his fiddlin’ father for the Saturday Evening Post.  You can read about it and download the article at Perfect reading for Father’s Day afternoon 
Here’s to Charlie, Lewis and all the great dads celebrating their day.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

June Morning

Just about every morning I step out the front door, squint down the street this way, squint down the street that way, stop, eyes shut and decide. Where shall I go? I have several routes, and, then sometimes, I just meander.
            This morning I decided on a “directed meander”—I didn’t know how I was going to get there, but I knew where I’d end up.
            Come stroll along.  
Ginger prefers watching to
walking as a morning activity
            Usually I walk alone—Ginger-the-Cat refuses leashhood (there is one cat in the neighborhood that trots along nicely, but her owners told me they started working on it when she was about five weeks old). Sometimes Bob comes along for companionship and chatting, but this is my quiet time, my thinking time and so I walk almost alone.
            This morning I started with my usual path by the Menil Park and Menil Collection, took a short-cut through the Collection grounds to West Main, a lovely, leafy residential street.

Good morning, neighbors.
'Bye, neighbors.

Those lovely yards need tender,
loving care. Plus, it's a good
time to catch up on phoning.
            Did I say I walk alone? Well, only sort of. I have regular friends. Some just pass and wave, but occasionally I pick up a companion for a while. No one has ever come along with me for more than half a block—they seem to know where their territory ends.
Let's go take a walk. Haven't seen
you in several days.
            After sufficient distance and deep thinking, (How did I get here? Sometimes I wonder. Hope I watched for cars!) I head for—well, more often than not—Fiesta, my favorite, favorite grocery store for one little item.
            Why Fiesta? Like its name says—it’s fun. And I like their attitude. No mean electrical barrier to keep the carts on the lot. The folks at Fiesta know not all of their customers have cars, so company policy: buy all you want. You are welcome to push it home in a cart. They even keep a pick-up that drives the neighborhood picking up carts.
Talk about good neighbors! Wish they'd
ask us to dinner!
Need more evidence of Fiesta being great—well, consider their customers. Who knows good food? Why our local heroes, the firefighters of Station 16 in Houston. Always makes me feel great to join them in shopping. I tell ‘em “thanks!” when I get the chance.
            And so down W. Alabama and home again.
            Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. Wonder where I’ll go tomorrow?

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Family, Fun, and the Future

We’re all still grinning after a fabulous family weekend with our fabulous family in and about Charlottesville, Virginia. Did I mention feasting as well?

Nothing like a good McDonald's
biscuit at 6 AM


We left here; we're going there.

Bob, grandson Hunter and I hopped (well, stumbled) on to a 6A.M. flight after fueling up at McDonalds. It was doze-time for awhile, but we perked up and enjoyed the flight. We got to C’ville just a few minutes after daughter Katy.  We quickly added our honored graduating senior Taite and the rest of the gang including Patrick (dad of the grad) who winged in from London. Here’s the crew, plus a couple of friends who kindly served as photographers.
Patrick, Trilla, Hunter, Bob, Forrest
Taite, Katy, Jack

We took over the Rooster Inn B&B and had a real reunion.
(Rooster Inn is great. We could gather our own eggs, and if we didn’t, the owners delivered some every evening. I could get used to this.) Forrest served as chef extraordinaire producing a stunning breakfast.

       That wasn’t all the feasting we did. We started at Blue Ridge Brewery a lovely view of the Blue Ridge Mountains, wonderful pizza and treats for most of us who are ‘of age.’

Happy Bob, Happy Bob

Mighty happy Katy. Patrick and Taite
share her glee.

Yummy. Taite, Patrick, Katy,
Forrest and friend Zaynal

           Friday--Bob, Hunter and I slipped away for Hunter’s first visit to Monticello. Beautiful—the flower and vegetable gardens ran riot. He’ll never forget!

Jack, Taite and Forrest anticipate

Bob (barely). Patrick, friend Sam, Jack,
Taite and Forrest indulge. 

Taite Patrick Pando, Albemarle High, 2011

 Next morning, after hugs and kisses, up, up and away back to Houston.
Pomp and Circumstance