How fun! I was nominated for a Sunshine Blogger award by the A. Joann blog. “The Sunshine Award is given by bloggers to bloggers who inspire positivity and creativity in the blogging community.” Cool! It isn’t a huge thing, just an opportunity to connect and pay it forward. I’m in! What happens is that I will answer the questions from my nominator, and then nominate some more folks and ask them different questions. It’s kind of like a more positive and transparent version of the chain letter of old, and I’m ok with that!
Questions from A. Joann for Me
Here are the questions and my answers.
How do you stay up-to-date on current issues in the news?
I have several devices – a personal phone, a work phone, an iPad…and I subscribe to Apple News on all of them. It doesn’t discriminate; any public news source is available through that feed. I check it a couple of times per day, usually the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. This keeps me confident that if there’s a nuclear war, I’ll know about it just about as soon as anyone else. I also have at least two hours commuting to work in the car each weekday, and my radio is permanently set to NPR – Morning Edition on the way to work and All Things Considered on the way home. I also have a son in college, a sophomore at University of Texas, and he makes sure I know of any current outrage. : )
What is one goal you have for today?
My goal for today – or any day – is to figure out a way to stay positive no matter the obstacles and challenges that come my way. And to do it without being annoying, and in the hopes that some of it rubs off on others (without being annoying – did I say that?).
How often do you write your posts?
I write in bursts. I’d like to post every day…but no, that’s not possible. I have a very rewarding and challenging corporate job that keeps me very busy during the week. Three days a week is my realistic goal for writing, but even that isn’t possible sometimes. I tried to post every day during National Haiku Writing Month (once I joined up) and didn’t quite make it. However, on weekends, especially if it is raining, I can bank several posts for later release. And I am a writing fiend on business trips, because of the down time in airports, the lack of responsibilities in the evenings and the free time on weekends. This is one of my favorite travel finds / travel posts: April in Paris: Rue des Martyrs.
What food is your least favorite?
There’s no question. I have ranted about this many times. Beets! and alligator and mayonnaise. Check out this post if you’d like to join the beets discussion.
If you were to pick a famous person to travel with, who would it be and why?
Gosh, that’s a hard one! Does it have to be a famous person? I like traveling with my sonto see the world through his eyes. But if it does have to be a famous person, I’d like to check out the world with Langston Hughes, because his poetry was so beautiful and moving and I’d love to pick up his vibe, vision and inspiration. Or Sam Houston, a truly interesting historical person whose story is anything but predictable. (I wanted to name my son Sam Houston but his father objected.) Or maybe Emmeline Pankhurst, the British suffragette, so I could learn from her drive and dedication, or Laura Ingalls Wilder, just to hear her tell all those Little House stories. Or the Gershwins, just to listen.
What (or who) inspires you to exercise?
Nothing inspires me to exercise for its own sake. Nothing! But – I love to work in the garden, walk in a Paris park, crew on a sailboat or chop-chop-chop doing my own sous chef work. Does that count?
What was the last thing you ate?
My 87-year old German mother-in-law had us over to dinner and made a pork roast, “potato balls”, and sauerkraut and sausage. We also had an appetizer that I put together, a goat cheese and herb ball surrounded by smoked salmon atop vodka-dressed arugula, and crowned with caviar.
What is the best color for a car, and why do you think so?
I don’t care about cars in the least. Whatever color is the cheapest.
What movie would get you to sit down and watch it again on a rainy afternoon?
OMG, there are so many! My Dad and I used to watch old movies together, and they are my go-to relaxation tonic. How to pick? There could be one of the Thin Man collection (see photo below), or one of the ten Fred and Ginger movies, or a thoughtful, meaningful treatise on social injustice like To Kill a Mockingbird (my favorite movie) or Gentleman’s Agreement, or a lightweight musical comedy with a classic American songbook musical score like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes or American in Paris.
What flowers do you think have the best fragrance?
Jasmine? Roses? Gardenia? Golden Dewdrop? All of which I have in my back yard, a couple of which are shown below.
What is the most rewarding aspect of blogging?
The connections! The unexpected connections… wow.
I have heard from someone in Australia who knew of my grandfather and has some geophysical historical information to share with me. He found me because of this post about my grandfather, I now have several 70-year-old photos of my grandfather in his professional life, as a result.
I have made friends who have helped me to look at, unravel and translate emotionally confusing parts of my past; not directly, but simply through listening to and absorbing their life philosophies.
I have connected with folks who have a similar culinary outlook to mine, and learned so much from their more diverse experiences with ingredients. I’ve found some wonderful recipes, and have rejoiced when people tried one of mine.
I have interacted with lovely people who, like me, are curious, love to travel, love people, and love to connect. I’ve taken their travel advice, and shared a bit of my own.
I’m putting forward some nominees for this Sunshine Award, although I suspect that several of them don’t participate in these kinds of activities. No worries (although I think your answers to my questions would be fascinating)! And the nominees are:
Headed out to the Round Top Chili Cookoff with friends today, I’m inspired to reblog this post from last year. It’s a tale of a chili cook-off fundraiser in a tiny Texas town, two friends, five gallons of spilled chili, dozens of kind people and a chance meeting with the governor.
It seems like yesterday that I was creating this post, Happy New Year!and looking ahead to 2017, and now here we are again, at the brink of yet another new year. I look forward to sharing and connecting with you all in 2018 via the Glover Gardens blog, and looking back at what you liked here in 2017 is giving me some ideas for the days ahead.
I was so grateful that I wrote this one about my childhood while Dad was still with us, and he commented on it: my days by the water.
Haiku for My Dad was a Father’s Day tribute to him just three days before he died. What a gift we had, Dad and me; when my husband took the early morning phone call that Dad had died and conveyed it to me, my response was: “I’m ok, we had no unfinished business.” I didn’t remember saying that until he reminded me later, but it is so true, and I am so incredibly blessed by the honesty and mutual regard of our relationship. And its awesome that you read my raw writings that tried to express this incredible blessing, and found some value in it.
Hurricane Harvey Captivated You
The #2 and #4 posts in 2017 were about Hurricane Harvey: Houston is Paralyzed by Flooding and How You Can Help Texas Right Now. You were interested in what was going on down here in the wetlands. And you didn’t just read the posts, you went to sites where you could help – there were 62 click-throughs on links I shared for donating to help Texas recover from Harvey, from the food bank to animal shelters to the Red Cross and the fund created by Houston Texas JJ Watts. Thank you; we are grateful for your empathy and support. Harvey was horrific for Houston.
You Shared My Travel and Restaurant Experiences
Two of the posts in the top five in 2017 were essentially restaurant reviews, a retelling of amazing meals that I had while traveling.
I Like Taking Requests – and You Like Reading the Results
One of my readers asked how to make an antipasto platter, so I answered with a post about it and included a long reminiscence about my Mom’s approach to antipasto. I loved getting the request, and you liked the post enough to make it the 12th most viewed in Glover Gardens in 2017: Antipasto Advice from Mom and Great Tastes from the Texas Coast.
A New Name
As I hit the 2-year anniversary of the Glover Gardens Cookbook blog earlier this year, I realized that I was talking about much more than just recipes, my original intent. I asked your opinion about the name of the blog in What’s In a Name? Seeking Your Input. You gave me great feedback, and one of the suggestions was simply to call it Glover Gardens. A couple of months ago, I made this change with no fanfare, and changed the tag line to reflect the multifaceted nature of the topics.
What’s Next? Authenticity, Curiosity, Empathy
I don’t make specific New Year’s resolutions these days because I don’t really believe in them, but I do want to move in these directions in my life in general, hopefully reflected in the blog:
to be courageous and speak more with my own authentic voice, as I did with the poem about my brother’s suicide.
to be more in-the-moment-mindful and curious about the world – and to share what I learn.
to listen more and practice “cognitive empathy”; to truly understand others and learn from their truths.
You Matter to Me
I have learned a great deal in 2017 through my interactions in this blog, spanning a huge spectrum. You validated my beliefs and ideas and added context and color to them. You challenged me and provided a different lens for viewing life and love of all kinds. You gave me interesting perspectives on photography, travel, spices, recipes, mindfulness and your own challenges. I am inspired by you!
The Collective Muse
Although I started the blog to capture my recipes for our sons and their (eventual) families, I actually thought my muse for this blog was my Dad. Then he died. He died. He died. He died. I probably haven’t accepted that – he died.
I wrote about Dad being my muse and losing him: Mourning the Loss of My Father and Muse. Especially during his last year when he had a mysterious illness, I wrote most of my posts hoping to inspire Dad and ignite him.
Reality: Dad died. I have to have a different muse. What a hard truth to absorb.
I kept on writing.
Maybe I’m my own muse? Maybe the muse is this vast expanse of strangers who read, and “like” and comment?
I wrote about joy. I wrote about frustration. I wrote about travel, the world and food. I created haiku for silly things, and profound happenings. I shared recipes.
I kept on writing. You listened.
A marvelous thing happened. One of my nieces said, “I read every one of your posts, and if I’m with my friends, I read them out loud.” She mentioned a specific post about her Dad (my brother) and referenced a phrase or two from it. Oh. My. Gosh. She’s a living, breathing muse. She is part of me, and someone I can write these memories for. So are my other family members.
And, in addition, so many of you reached out. You said that you had lost a loved one and felt something similar, or you liked a silly haiku I wrote, or a recipe looked delicious, or a family memory stirred an emotion. You shared an approach for editing a photo, or using a special spice in a recipe, or a trick you use to stay sane in a crazy world. You empathized with me. You cared.
I kept on writing. You let me know you were reading, and you became my muse / the source of my inspiration. My family, my friends, my special set of strangers – you are my muse and inspiration. Thank you. Here’s to a great 2018!
We were fortunate at Glover Gardens this summer to celebrate a wedding. Our oldest millennial tied the knot with the young woman we always knew was a keeper. Woohoo!
The newlyweds are at Little House in the Rockies in Colorado with us for a long weekend and made a wonderful breakfast quiche this morning. During our meal on the back porch overlooking aspen trees turning yellow and snow-capped mountains in the distance, they put me on the spot. Knowing I was going to post their recipe and the resulting deliciousness (watch this space!), they asked when I plan to give them Glover Gardens Cookbook aliases, along the lines of my husband’s: The Grill-Meister. Today! Here’s what they chose:
The bride: The Girl Who is Always Hungry. This is an excellent moniker for her; she seems to eat about every 2 hours without gaining weight. I could make a jealous comment about metabolism, but I try to take the high road here in the Glover Gardens Cookbook.
The groom: The Best Eater. Seriously, this is true. I’ve been in this young man’s life now for about a dozen years, and he trumps everyone in my circle when it comes to an adventurous palate. But he combines his bold and courageous approach to new foods with a love and appreciation of the standards, the comfort food, the mundane, even. He just appreciates a meal. And he doesn’t gain weight, either…
You’ll hear more about this dynamic duo, starting with the marvelous quiche they made for breakfast this morning. But I wanted to introduce them to you first.
The Glover Gardens family suffered a huge loss last week when my father died unexpectedly. He was an amazing man.
Thomas Frank Harvell, 78, climbed the stairway to heaven on June 21, 2017. Mourning him while knowing he waits to be joined, are Lucy Harvell, daughter Kim Glover and her husband Tom, grandsons Thomas Wenglinski and Brandon Glover, granddaughters Melyssa and Joie Harvell and their mother Noemi Edington, stepson Matt Kiely and his wife Dawn, grandsons Everett and Ryan Kiely, and two-time mother-in-law Ruth Holt. He is also survived by his siblings Kenneth Harvell, Lynda Brashears and Connie Donnelly and their beloved families. Preceding Frank in death were his first wife, Nancy Harvell, his son, Steven Harvell, and his father and mother, Thomas Ezra and Memery Harvell.
Many others from all parts of Frank’s life join the immediate family in this complicated mix of sorrow and celebration: the extended Harvell, Smith, Cleckler, Holt and Hiatt tribes, lifelong friends from his childhood in hot and dusty Sweetwater, Texas to his many decades further south in various parts of hot and muggy Southeast Texas, a host of fellow believers from all of the churches where he was a member, and colleagues and customers from his years of technology sales with Motorola and Kay Electronics.
Frank loved without judgment, with his whole heart. With his profound sense of loyalty, honor and integrity, Frank’s rock-solid advice was frequently sought and almost always taken. A believer, his faith sustained him through family crises and illness, and he never lost his hope or sense of humor. Frank’s character and sunny, sturdy, pragmatic attitude drew others to him, and he was a true servant leader. He was active in church leadership and taught Sunday school for almost all of his adult life.
“Family man” is an over-used phrase, and yet it is just right for Frank. His intense devotion to his first wife Nancy never waivered, from their early poor (and extremely happy) years, to their tranquil days at the beach in Gilchrist, and through her later decades of illness. Sometimes he was both father and mother to Kim and Steve while they were growing up, and he embraced this responsibility. After Nancy’s death, Frank was blessed a second time, this time with the sweetness of a late marriage to Lucy.
Not one to sit still, Frank worked as a part-time consultant for Kay Electronics and Motorola well into his 70s. (He didn’t want to retire until his last client did.) After retirement, he had more time for his hobbies, including travel (both with and without grandchildren), woodworking, vegetable gardening, reading, photography and following his grandchildren on Facebook so he could brag about them. Together with Lucy, Frank was a super-volunteer, serving various churches and charitable organizations. Over the past few years and until his illness, when they weren’t organizing food drives, or community repair days for shut-ins and the elderly, or fundraisers, Frank spent nearly 40 hours a week helping to revitalize and re-launch Tomball Emergency Assistance Ministries (TEAM).
In addition to his fundamental goodness and old-fashioned manners, Frank was downright funny. His gap-toothed grin and quirky quips will always be remembered. He loved music, old movies, southern food and grandchildren and was always happy to share a story from his innocent childhood, or a lesson he learned from the parents he revered. His smile and stories will be missed by many.
Frank is now at peace after his yearlong illness and is probably either playing the trumpet with the Angel Gabriel or enjoying a chicken fried steak with St. Peter. On Saturday, June 24, at 3:00 p.m. a memorial service will be held at Tomball United Methodist Church, 1603 Baker Drive in Tomball, Texas to honor his most wonderful life. And then afterwards in the fellowship hall, snacks will be served while we gather to comfort each other, share stories and celebrate this remarkable man. He declared recently, “When I go, hold a party!” Frank’s legacy is for us to laugh often, love without judgment, live with joy, and hold our families close.
More to come on this topic; my Dad was my muse. Did I say he was a remarkable person? Here are some of the posts he inspired, either directly or because I knew he would take pleasure in them:
Don’t you just feel the festive nature of that rehearsal dinner evening echoed in the daisies below? They speak of hope and laughter and love. Daisies are such simple flowers, but they almost vibrate and glow in their positivity.
Another picture that really struck me from the rehearsal dinner was this one, the generous front porch at our wedding venue in the Texas Hill Country. The “little thing” that stands out in this picture is the mood set by the twinkle lights, or as they call them in the UK, “fairy lights”. Friends and family sat, and talked, and rocked, and told stories for hours on that summer night before our wedding, the beginning of a long tradition of sitting, talking, rocking and story-telling.
It’s the little things that make a life, a family, a story, a friendship, a party, a love, a marriage.