Orchids: A Shared Hobby through Generations

One of my reblooms from earlier in the year. The white one is budding again. The purple one has added new buds to the end of the stalk in the photo.

I come from a long line of plant lovers. Both of my parents had the green thumb gene, so I grew up in Florida surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers. While my dad focused on the lawn and large plantings, in her later years my mom concentrated on a beautiful collection of orchids that she grew on a patio with a slatted roof that my dad had built for her.

Lynn and me in 9th grade.

During those years, one  of my dearest friends was Lynn McCrain. We spent a lot of our early teen years at each other’s houses, talking about horses and painting our nails. Naturally, our parents got to know each other.

My mom and Lynn’s dad discovered a shared love of orchids. The two of them took great pleasure in each other’s discoveries, shared plants and tips, and made both of our homes more beautiful. When my mom passed away in 1984, my dad made sure Mom’s orchids made it to the McCrain house.

Lynn says this one also smells good. Wow.

Fast Forward!

Many years have passed, and Lynn McCrain Molitor still lives in her old neighborhood, and she is still my dear friend. Also living with her are many, many amazing orchids in her beautiful yard, some of which I’m sharing here. I have taken great pleasure in seeing Lynn’s orchid photos on Facebook, every time thinking back to our parents’ shared love.

These colors in another of Lynn’s orchids could not be prettier.

I thought the green thumb gene had mostly eluded me, especially when it came to orchids. I love plants, but am better with wild ones. However, things have changed for the better. 

These also smell good, according to Lynn. I want more of this kind, some day. I like the clusters.

The orchids I’d tried to grow in Austin did okay, but never rebloomed, even when I followed instructions. But, once Anita and I moved to the little Villa Park casita, I started to get reblooms on the phalaenopsis (that’s mostly what I have; things from the grocery store). 

This is the orchid that just finished blooming and is already at it again. It’s white with purple inside.

And now that we are in the Bobcat Lair house in Austin, I’m beginning to feel like I could start my own McCrain-style jungle. All I can figure is that the large and very expensive argon-filled windows on the east side of the house are orchid heaven. 

These new buds were not there when the plant originally bloomed!

They aren’t even pausing between reblooms. One I just got at the grocery store is already putting out a new flower stalk. Another lovely little purple one finished blooming, then pushed out new buds on the same stalk.

It’s small, but it’s a bud on the work orchid.

At least I THOUGHT it was the windows at the house. Early this week I looked over at one of the little orchid plants I have at work, and by golly, there’s a new flower stalk coming up.

Plus

Actually, all the plants in the Austin house are extremely happy. I planted a small aloe plant to sit in the kitchen bay window where I keep small plants. After a few months I realized it was taking over the window. We just had to re-pot it because it had become top-heavy. It looks as good as the ones my mom used to grow in the ground in Florida. Maybe it will bloom, too!

The aloe plant that wants to take over the house.

Sigh, it really pleases me to see that Lynn and I are carrying some of our parents’ legacy on. I hope some of my plants last as long as Lynn’s.

(photos not by me are by Lynn Molitor)

Moving Slow

Everyone has those times when even the simplest task becomes a burden. For me, it’s been getting my car inspected to renew my license plates.

First, the dealership forgot to do it when I got its yearly checkup.

Then, when I finally remembered to do it in Cameron, the place that was open didn’t do it, and the place that would do it was closed.

Yesterday I left work early to take care of it in Austin. Turns out Siri thinks a lot more places do inspections than actually do. I went to four places, patiently waiting to be spoken to, only to find out many car repair places don’t have an inspector.

By the time I got to the Lamb’s near my house, I could not wait 1.5 hours.

Today I went back. 1.5 hours again. Fine. I’ll buy myself a nice mug and a snack at the new Starbucks. I’ll live.

Have a smooth day

I do hope your mundane tasks go more smoothly than mine!

PS:

Ha! I was wrong! I clicked “send” on this blog and immediately got the call that the car was done, in only 45 minutes. That was just enough time for a pleasant cup of coffee and blogging. Yay for the Lamb’s on Far West!

The Joy of Horses

One of the most satisfying activities we engage in here at the Hermits’ Rest is to go look at the shared Wild Hermits property on horseback. Sara, who co-owns the property with us, knows it backwards and forwards, and always has something to show me. Plus, we see things from the perspective of our horses, Apache and Spice, who always have a surprise for us.

Yep, it’s pretty out here.

Yesterday was the perfect day for a ride. It was neither cold nor hot, the sun was behind clouds but it wasn’t dismal, and it wasn’t too windy. The ground had finally dried out enough that we felt okay venturing forth; it’s taken a long time to get over the big rain event, and we still hesitate to go out to the “bottom,” where it’s still spongey. And all the trees are changing color. 

Spice points out that the sun did come out, once we finished the ride. Here, she is asking to be brushed.

Since it’s still a bit damp, Sara, the horses, and I just walked to one of the pastures, I believe it’s the one she calls the trap (they have names for all the pastures that I can’t keep track of very well, not being a cattle rancher, I guess). 

Apache and I smile for the camera. I have riding helmet hair.

The horses kept stopping and sniffing the air. Even Spice, who usually is the pacemaker, kept stopping. We kept looking to see if there was anything weird going on, but the only thing we smelled was the unusual but sort of pleasant smell of the fermented hay the cattle owners had given the cows in the next pasture. Sara said it reminded her of her childhood on the dairy farm in Illinois.

When we got to the end of the race (the skinny passageway to the distant fields), we had to stop and take a breath. At the end of the passage is a very large post oak tree. This time of year, all its leaves are a golden brown, but have not fallen yet. When you look at the tree, you see nothing around it but fences and other trees. What a great feeling. 

Not the tree we saw, but another majestic ranch tree.

We couldn’t get a photo, because we don’t take the good phones out on our rides (it sure would hurt to fall off a horse and land on your phone, plus that can’t be good for a phone). That’s why you have a substitute photo of a cedar elm.

Trees are great fun for horse exercise, too, as we can do circles and figure eights around them. I even trotted in a circle. I am not big on trotting, since I came rather late to my equestrian career. Apache enjoyed it, though, and so did I. We are in no hurry and have no show plans. Just fun. I’ll keep moving toward more adventurous stuff.

When we returned from the ride, having let the horses sniff every downed branch and check out every bunny that hopped by, Sara got a text from the friend who leases the pastures on the other side of the road. She’d seen a juvenile wild cat headed to the next ranch. Well, that may explain why the horses were hesitant to just head on out. The cat probably came from our area, or at least its scent did!

Harvey is on the alert for cats on the prowl.

We are watching our little pets carefully. I don’t want to lose Vlassic the dachshund, and Sara doesn’t want to lose her cattle dog puppy!

Skeletons in the Closet?

When I started looking into my family history, I figured I would mostly find a lot of regular folks, farmers, etc. And that’s mostly what I found. I mean, aren’t most of us descended from regular folks?

Regular folks (farmers): Wilburn Larkin Kendall & Minty Viola Tilley Kendall, 1900. He as 20, she 23. My dad’s paternal grandparents.

But I also found some things that made me sad. The biggest one was finding people who had slaves, on both sides of the family. You can easily spot them if you look at census data, since it conveniently lists slaves as household members. Of course, now that I mention it, I can’t FIND any of them again. 

Because this is the way my mind goes, I began processing my white guilt a bit more. Now that I know there are a lot of indentured servants, plus genuine white slaves brought to America for nefarious purposes, and I also know that some of my ancestors in the southern US had slaves in their households, I began to wonder if it’s why I had such a strong reaction to the civil rights movement of the sixties.

I can remember being really angry at kids who weren’t nice to the black students in elementary school (we integrated in fourth grade). I’ve always had some sort of visceral reaction to people who are treated badly just because of how they look, where they come from, what spiritual path they are on, or who they love. Hmm, maybe it comes through the genes after all.

Back to ancestors

I digress. What I did find on my dad’s side of the family were more soldiers than I’d anticipated, but really, they were during times when most everyone was participating in military action. 

War Hero with very long name.

Speaking of skeletons in the closet, of course I found a couple of Civil War heroes lurking on Dad’s side, where there was a lot of action in north Georgia. There was my second great grandfather, Captain William Greenbury Lafayette Butt, of Union Georgia (where a LOT of ancestors settled in the early 1700s). He was on the losing side of that war. In fascinating additional news, his father was a postmaster, and also rather decorated: Judge Major John Butt III. Whew.

I also found soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War where the US broke from England. One example is Henry Tilley, Sr., in my grandmother’s line, who had five sons who fought in the Revolutionary War. On the Kendall side, my fifth great grandfather, William Kendall, appears to have died from war injuries in 1777. I think they were on the winning side.

Enoch de Melvin Underwood

On the Kendall side, there was 
Enoch De Melvin Underwood, who fought in the war of 1812. He was a warrior! He is buried in the Tilley cemetary in Union County, Georgia, where a butt-load of family members are (ha ha, many of them are Butts).

I guess that makes me a daughter of all those wars, but I’m not planning to join any clubs. I’m not really big on wars in general. But I do understand that, when everyone is participating, it’s a good idea to participate.

Anyway, the Kendalls appear to have arrived in the Virginia Colonies in the mid 1600s, so the family’s been here a while. Those Kendalls kept good records, because they  keep going and going until Richard Kendall, who was born in 1355! They also confused me, because in the 1700s a Kendall married a Kendall…possibly another skeleton in the closet? Why YES! John Kendall of the Revolutionary War, above, shows up in both lines!

Since this took me three days to write, I am going to stop. I hope you are able to find out where your ancestors came from and what they did. It can be interesting! Even if some of them were on the “wrong” side of history, it’s part of the story of who we are.

Let the Fossils Shine

It’s Thanksgiving Day in the US. There is so much to be thankful for out here in the middle of Texas, where all you hear is the cry of the hawk and the blam blam of someone trying to bag a deer (hope they missed).

The round ones are cross sections, the long ones are lengthwise views of the fossils.

I don’t think I’ve ever shown you one of the things I am most thankful for, and that’s our beautiful limestone that clads the ranch house.

The limestone is full of fossils of a sea creature from long ago, when the area around Cedar Park, Texas was an ocean. (Cedar Park and Round Rock both have very large limestone quarries.)

This is one of the more narrow blocks of limestone.

When we were selecting the stone for the house at  Espinosa Stone, the man at the quarry showed us this pile that looked very different. He said it came from the Rattlesnake layer. Why was it called that? Because the sideways fossils do look very much like the rattle on a rattlesnake. Well, what could be more perfect for out here than that?

Each block is a different height, because they quarry it as thick as that layer is. That made for a lot of fun for the amazingly skilled craftsman who spent a couple of weeks making the outside of the Hermits’ Rest ranch house so beautiful.

It’s just amazing to know this is under the dirt in Cedar Park!

Every time we sit on the porch and drink coffee, I enjoy the sun shining on the little fossils, all of whom are now quartz bits shining in the limestone base. Yep. Lots to be thankful for here.

I hope where you live there are pieces of natural beauty to astound you and inspire gratitude for the world we live in. 

Sweet Sounds: Guitar Delivery

The guitar’s green-stained tiger maple and white inlay look even better in good light.

I shared how much fun Lee and I had driving through North Carolina on a quest to get my son a pedal steel guitar.

This weekend, Declan and his girlfriend, Rylie, made a quick trip to the Hermits’ Rest to pick the instrument up. This was an exciting day. I sure had hoped he’d like it (and be able to play it).

Lots of pegs for lots of strings.

Declan plays with a few Austin-area bands that tour around the country every few months. Check out Mountebank and Sherry if you want to hear more. These bands are young, energetic, and full of actual talent!

He also has his own project, Big Destiny. Once we realized he was going to be good, we helped by getting him a few guitars and some lessons, but mostly he’s learned by virtue of hard work and practice. (He plays lead guitar, bass, keyboards, and various percussion instruments.)

We are aware that you can get more work if you play an instrument that isn’t played by a lot of people, so we were all for getting him a pedal steel when he expressed an interest two years ago. Folks around Austin are always looking for someone who’s good with a pedal steel. Now he just has to learn how to bend those notes and use all the extra strings.

I think he looks very happy here. Also, both my sons have their dad’s eyes. Really obvious here.

So, the young people arrived, and Declan and Lee got to unpacking the instrument, while Ryle recorded it on the phone (she’s doing music too, and is a very gifted artist). 

Everyone oohed and aahed over the colors and workmanship of the Hudson guitar. Even more fun was that it was still in tune, and Declan could coax some sounds out of it, even using a glass as a slide.

This is a little tune Declan played after he first got his pedal steel home. The start of many good things to come?

Once Declan and Rylie got home and the instrument was properly set up, Declan sent us a little clip of some lovely music. I can’t wait to see what else he does with it, and hop some of it is paying work!

How Far Back Can You Go?

One Kendall coat of arms version

I said in my first post about family history that I didn’t “get” the appeal of genealogy. I am now getting it more, and apologize to anyone I offended by how I characterized my earlier disinterest in previous generations. I honestly DO see now that people are interested in more than just finding out if they were related to any kings or queens.

That said, hey, I have ancestors with “Sir” and “Lady” and “Viscount” and such in their listings! Knowing that I have slave ancestors on one side, I guess it all balances out.

I like this Kendall family crest, because it has pelicans pecking their breasts to feed their blood to others. So noble.

When I delved into the past of my dad’s side, which are Kendall and Butts lines from north Georgia in the hills, I kept thinking surely I would run into a dead end pretty quickly, since “all those hillbillies” probably didn’t keep good records. Well, once again I was totally wrong.

People care deeply about migration patterns of early European settlers to the US, and there are very good records showing how my ancestors ended up heading as far as Arkansas. Where did they start out? Most arrived in the Virginia colonies in the 1600s. I read a tale on Ancestry.com of one Kendall ancestor who paid for his passage by putting his two sons into indentured servitude for three years. As soon as they were done, they got out of Virginia! People owning each other seems to have quite the history, and it applies to my ancestors on both sides.

Continue reading “How Far Back Can You Go?”