Sunshine Blogger Nominations and Q&A

One of the Cool Kids (I got the chain letter!)

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?

nprpolitics_red1400px_sq-6bc03b536409ec88fd8d3abb637b560e93865bad-s300-c85I 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.

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  • If you were to pick a famous person to travel with, who would it be and why?

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Langston Hughes’ poetry was/is brilliant

Gosh, that’s a hard one! Does it have to be a famous person? I like traveling with my son to 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?

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From a Paris garden, in the spring of 2017
  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

My Nominees

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:

  1. Storyteller
  2. Pleasant Peasant
  3. Glasgow Gallivanter
  4. Loving Leisure Time
  5. Keralas Live
  6. Recipe Reminiscing
  7. David Bruce Blog
  8. Julie H. Cares
  9. Rhapsody Boheme
  10. Bill Waters Haiku
  11. Love Traveling

My Questions

Looking forward to your answers – here are my questions.

  1. What advice would you give to your younger self?
  2. What’s your favorite food memory, a meaningful meal that you will never forget, and why? What was so special about it?
  3. If you’ve experienced a time when everything stood still for a moment, and you realized in that split second that you would remember this event for your whole life, what was that time?
  4. Where do you want to travel next, and why?
  5. Who inspires you?
  6. Why do you blog?
  7. What’s your favorite book?
  8. What skill have you always wanted to master, but haven’t yet started on?
  9. In one sentence, what is your life philosophy?
  10. What do you want to do tomorrow?
  11. What is your favorite dish to cook, and why?

It’s About Community

The Sunshine Award is given by bloggers to bloggers who inspire positivity and creativity in the blogging community.  The rules are:

  1. Thank blogger(s) who nominated you for a blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  3. Nominate up to 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

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Thank you for nominating me for this Sunshine Blogger award to the A. Joann blog. It took me a few days to respond, but it was really thought-provoking and fun. You rock!

© 2018 Glover Gardens

 

Water, Wind and Land: Metaphors for a Geophysicist (remembrance for Grandpa on his 98th birthday)

My grandfather was an amazing man.  A geophysicist, he was quiet, brilliant, circumspect, pragmatic, a lifelong learner in the fields of math and science and leader in oil exploration – and yet he was so faithfully loving and supportive of a creative like me, his oldest grandchild and just about his polar opposite in terms of interests and passions.

51t9ijqmntl-_sx314_bo1204203200_Grandpa was strong and silent like so many men of his age who served in WWII and saw things they could never describe and didn’t care to remember.  Tom Brokaw called them The Greatest Generation in his influential book of the same name; I just call myself lucky that this first lieutenant in the Air Force fell in love with my grandmother, a divorcé with a tiny daughter, and married her in 1942.

Ruth and Nancy 1941That tiny daughter was my Mom, and this gentle, studious man adopted her as his own, treating her the same as the other children he and Grandma went on to have. I didn’t know Grandpa wasn’t my Mom’s biological father / my biological grandfather for years, and when I found out, it didn’t matter in the least. We were his, and he was ours.

(photos with captions are excerpts from a slide show created by my Dad for my grandmother’s 90th birthday)

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Grandpa Grandma Nancy Lucy

A true explorer, Grandpa’s career in oil exploration took him all over the world; he was eventually VP of Geophysics for Superior Oil (now ExxonMobil).  His remarkable career was followed by adventures on the sea, as his retirement began with a 42-foot sailboat and trips that sometimes included lucky grandchildren like my brother and me.

The Sea Urchin

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My brother on my grandparents’ sailboat, in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, in the mid-70s; this was an epic 7-day trip I will always remember

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The rigors of sailing gave way to land-based adventures as my grandparents mounted an RV in their 70s and traveled throughout the country, visiting national parks and family, arriving just in time for birthdays and births (including my son’s). Their retirement together was rich in experiences fueled by water, wind and land – and love of family.

Tom Ruth RV

Today would have been Grandpa’s 98th birthday. To honor and remember him, I’m sharing the poem I wrote for his funeral in 2002.

Water, Wind and Land: Metaphors for a Geophysicist (for Grandpa)

 

we are all archeologists now

sifting through our memories of you

sorting the bits and pieces we find

to put them back together

in what will become our lasting “mind pictures” of you

sometimes sifting and sorting alone

sometimes together with your other loves ones

turning our memory fragments this way and that

to see where they fit

and make a clearer picture

all of my finds in this archeological dig of grief

are geo-metaphors for a geophysicist:

~ water, wind and land ~

 

for you were not a man of words

you were a man of deeds

of facts

of maps

and plans

 

my dig finds full sails and stormy skies

radars and Lorans

dolphin fish and egrets’ cries

a wood-hulled boat, a lake cabin, a becalming

your thoughtful brown eyes

your “I love you’s” were spoken in geo-metaphor:

~ water, wind and land ~

“help me steer the boat, Kimmie”

“Stevie, let me show you how to tie a slip knot”

“Of course girls can shoot skeet!”

 

for you were not a man of words

you were a man of deeds

of facts

of maps

and plans

 

I dig deeper, contemplative, archeologist-turned sociologist

looking for meaning

and I find you are an underground river

strong, constant, clear and sure

your life’s waters carried bloodlines and love-lines

equally strong

lifelines guiding through shifting sands

~ water, wind and land ~

 

my finds are home-baked bread

and spectacular jams

a well-stocked RV

crossing ferries and dams

Grandma’s letters with your P.S:

“Math and science, math and science!”

recognized clearly – then and now –

as geo-metaphor love, all your best

~ water, wind and land ~

 

you were a man of deeds

of facts

of maps

and plans

~ water, wind and land ~

 

we dig and sort

together and apart

reconstructing geo-you

in the museums of our hearts

~ water, wind and land ~

 

 

love, kimmie

july 2002


Grandpa and me at my first wedding, way back in the 80s. Those pearls were borrowed from my grandmother, one of the many, many gifts he brought her from his world travels.  His finds, which included on the one end spears and art from Nigeria and on the other end, jewelry like these pearls and a gorgeous raw emerald, have been given to all of my cousins. I got the pearls.

Grandpa and Kim 1984

In his later years, Grandpa channeled his natural curiosity and scientific attention to detail into cooking, mostly bread-baking and jam-making.  He made the same recipes again and again, meticulously documenting small differences until he had them perfected.  Christmas stocking gifts in those years were highly coveted jars of his homemade jellies.  I treasure the memory of our long talks about cooking from those days. I also inherited some of his knives and big pots, which I consider to be heirlooms on par with the pearls.

Rest in peace, dear man, and bless you for teaching us about water, wind and land – and love.

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Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

12 Radical Reasons to Write Poetry

The list in the blog post referenced here is a wonderful and persuasive set of arguments in favor of writing poetry, by a self-proclaimed “shameless and impassioned advocate for the poetic voice as an integral player in an integrated life”.  Kelly Belmonte is the founder and Chief Muse of All Nine, and, in her words, “offers just a few of the best reasons to give a go at writing a poem every now and then”. Read them here: 12 Radical Reasons to Write Poetry.

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The header for the All Nine blog, the nine being a reference to the nine sister muses of Greek mythology who represent multiple domains of creativity and intelligence. 

My own “radical reason” to write (poetry, essays, blog posts) is quite simple: the words dwell within me, but have a life of their own and must be released. What’s yours?

 

Travel Day Thoughts

My cousin posted this beautiful photo on Facebook.

Airplane wing 787 from Matt Kiely
His comment: “Clichė subject, but that 787 wing is a beautiful piece of engineering.”

Another cousin confessed his lack of  aeronautical engineering knowledge but said he was “grateful they stay attached to the plane during flight”.  Me, too! The photo speaks to me of anticipation of a wonderful journey, and, as I’m setting out on a brief trip today, it inspired a haiku.

bring me there safely
wings that show me new worlds
and then take me home

Hershey, Pennsylvania, here I come!

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Haiku Mind: Book Review in Haiku

My review of Haiku Mind:

what i thought i knew
how to view and feel and say
i knew not at all

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If you are into haiku, this book is for you. It is a book of haiku while at the same time being a book about haiku.  It is quiet and peaceful and illuminating.  And thoughtful.  And challenging. It is making me a better haiku-er, slowly.

Find it here on Amazon.

For more Glover Gardens haiku, click here.

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

 

The Thankful Foreigner: An Award-Winning Essay from a Millennial

And now, as I keep a vigilant eye over the discrimination in my society, I wonder: When will the other people, blinded by prejudice, have the eye-opening experience I had that day?

This little story from a few years ago is incredibly relevant today.

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Let the adventure begin!

In 2011, an incredibly cheap last-minute Houston-to-London roundtrip airfare offer coincided with my son’s 14th birthday and a lazy Thanksgiving week in which we had nothing planned.

So we cooked up a weeklong Mom & Kid trip to give the young ‘un (our last milennial) an opportunity to experience his first international travel:  three nights in Paris, followed by three nights in London.  We left Houston right after school on a Friday afternoon, tickets in hand for our first adventure, scaling the Eiffel Tower less than 24 hours later.  I knew it was going to be a worthwhile trip when, dazed and tired from the overnight flight to London and a couple of hours of fitful sleep on the high-speed EuroStar (Chunnel) train on the way to Paris, he leaned over to me – before our adventures even began – touched me on the arm and said:

Mom, thank you for showing me the world!

We alighted in Paris, stumbled to our hotel, took a few minutes for a power nap, and set out to ascend the Eiffel Tower.  But I digress; that’s a story for another time. Today’s focus is on my son’s memory, captured in his award-winning essay, which he shared post-competition on Facebook, as follows (in his words).

From February, 2012:  The following essay is what I wrote at the Klein Academic Competition that won first place for 8th Grade Ready Writing. The story is non-fiction; these events did actually happen.


The Thankful Foreigner

The sounds of honking European cars, people of all kinds conversing in French, and muffled, slimly audible brakes from subway trains all formed a soundtrack to the beginning of my day.

Trying to force my eyes open, I sat up, told my mom good morning, and, after slowly rising to my feet, walked over to the window of our hotel room. Pushing the red curtain away, I looked down upon the busy Parisian street, where people were walking in and out of shops and cafes, waiting to cross the intersection, and riding on motorcycles or in cars.

Now I knew it was true. The previous day had involved exhausted scrambling through airports and train stations, causing more of a feeling of trauma than that of a vacation. But now I was sure; I was really in Paris.

Within about a half hour, both my mom and I were dressed, clean, and ready to hit the street. Our first stop, as we had already discussed, was going to be a nearby cafe. We needed breakfast.

It called out to us the second we stepped out the door; across the street, a nice neon-red sign reading “La Porte de Montmartre” flashed out at my eyes. Immediately, I asked, or, I should say, STATED: “We should go there.”

So we took a risk; we waited for a pause in traffic, then dashed across the street.

It looked even better from up close. All the tables occupied by regular French citizens who all looked like some character in a classic movie…we had to get coffee here.

So my mom and I walked straight through the cafe to the bar, where we instantly mounted ourselves upon two vacant stools, and at the bartender’s acknowledgement, ordered two cups of coffee.

I noticed soon enough that this man was very young and handsome, yet obviously exhausted. He also, however, seemed like the kind of Frenchman that one of my less considerate classmates would sneak snide comments about back home. I knew about the unfounded views other countries have of the French, but…I knew that not ALL the French people were pompous and arrogant.

As he came back from the kitchen with our two cups of coffee, my ever-so-inquisitive mom asked what I’d been wondering: “Where are you from?”

The second she asked that, his face brightened up. “You tell me first,” he said through his grin, his French accent indeed present.

“We are from Texas, in the USA,” I said. “And you, sir?”

He stood up straight and said, rather proudly,

Normandy Beach. The ruins of the D-Day attack. All of the American liberators are buried there…Many of my people are not as grateful to the Americans as they should be. I mean, thanks to your country, we are all still French. So, personally, I thank you and all your people.”

Within two seconds of his ceasing to speak, I knew that any anti-French sympathies I could’ve had prior to this day would be gone.

It was obvious that this man was at least 30 years too young to have experienced the historic World War II battle that had brought recognition to his hometown. Yet he had the heart to honor and respect a foreign country and its military for the well-being of his own.
Since then, the “French” slur and stereotype has been something I make a goal to avoid. I now see the prejudice and ignorance behind many comments that, before that sunny Parisian morning, I might not have seen.

And now, as I keep a vigilant eye over the discrimination in my society, I wonder:  When will the other people, blinded by prejudice, have the eye-opening experience I had that day?


 

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The Thankful Foreigner, himself
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The wise 14 year old, our last millennial 
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We’ll go back to La Porte Montmartre when next we are in Paris

Back to the Present

Back to the present, back to my voice…Wow.  I’ve experienced this story in a myriad of ways:

  • When it originally happened; I realized that the young French man would be someone we remembered forever.  “Because of you, we are all still French!” is how I remember him proclaiming his appreciation for the American and Allied liberation of France.
  • When my son’s name was called at the UIL district competition award ceremony as the first place winner…I I lost my self-control, rose from my seat in the uncomfortable gym bleachers and screeched “Woooooo!” before sitting back down, red-faced and yet unabashedly proud.  Then, a few minutes later as I almost strangled him with hugs, he told me the topic of his essay, and we reminisced about that morning, that young man, that authentic gratitude.
  • When I actually read the essay after he got it back a few weeks later and understood what the magical moments with the young man in the coffee bar had meant to my son, and wondered at how he translated the ridiculousness of petty prejudices into this insight:  “I now see the prejudice and ignorance behind many comments that, before that sunny Parisian morning, I might not have seen.”
  • And now, more than 5 years later, as our country struggles with immigration, our place in the world and how we interface with those who are “foreign”.  Perhaps I’m biased – well, heck, of course I’m biased – but I find my son’s final statement in that little essay truly profound:

And now, as I keep a vigilant eye over the discrimination in my society, I wonder: When will the other people, blinded by prejudice, have the eye-opening experience I had that day?

What’s that old saying…”out of the mouths of babes”?  How about:  “out of the mouths of millennials”?

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook; The Thankful Foreigner printed with permission of the author, Thomas Wenglinski

 

The Chili Bee and Round Top, Texas – A Little Tale of Community, Chili and Small-Town Magic

Facebook reminded me today of an event from four years ago that still brings me joy.  It’s a tale of a chili cook-off fundraiser in a tiny Texas town, two friends, five gallons of spilled chili in an SUV, dozens of very kind people and a chance meeting with the state’s governor.  Just another January Saturday in Texas…

In January of 2013, my friend Theresa and I decided to enter the Round Top Chili Cookoff.  It’s a great event that benefits the public library in this most picturesque of small Texas Hill Country towns.  They have braggin’ rights, too:  Round Top is the smallest town in Texas with a full service public library, and they aim to keep it that way (small and book-lovin’).

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The January sky over Round Top, a most picturesque little town

We started planning our cook-off participation by email, first by picking a name.  It had to be something special, something that reflected our long friendship rooted in family and food and stories and support…so we chose “The Chili Bee,” a riff on the old quilting bees where ladies got together to talk and solve the mysteries of life while making beautiful quilts.  We played around and created a logo and I had a sign made.Chili Bee Final.jpg

Over the next week, we negotiated over the recipe (no beans, she won), did the shopping, and then met up at my house on Friday after work to roll up our sleeves and produce the world’s best chili.  We stayed up until the wee hours – chopping, sautéing, simmering, tasting and telling stories, and set out for Round Top on Saturday morning with our 5 gallons of chili in her car and the propane cooker, table, chairs and tent in mine.

igloo

Our preparations that lovely January Saturday morning included reheating the massive pot of chili and transferring it into a 5-gallon Igloo, where it would stay plenty hot during the 90-minute trip and be ready for the high noon judging.  While only a quart was necessary for the judges, contestants had to bring at least 4 gallons to enter.

Well, there was a “problem-ation” on our journey.  I was leading our 2-car caravan on US Highway 290 and lost Theresa at the cloverleaf intersection with Texas Highway 36.  You have to take a very sudden, sharp and tight turn to stay on 290 on the outskirts of Brenham –  drivers in this part of Texas will know what I’m talking about – and that little cloverleaf was our Chili Waterloo.  I looked in the rearview mirror, and Theresa just wasn’t there any more.  I pulled over, and called her, and called again – no answer.  Finally, I could see her in the distance, and then she drove slowly by me, motioned for me to follow, and pulled into a convenience store about a mile up the road.

The Igloo wasn’t secured in the car and toppled over when Theresa careened around the cloverleaf turn…and apparently, we didn’t have the lid on tight.  It was bad.  Oh boy, was it bad.  There was a chili explosion.  It was all over her, all over the car, all over everything.  Chili drops were on the rearview mirror, the headliner, in Theresa’s purse.  It was a chili-apocalypse.

And imagine…5 gallons of steaming hot chili, 2 inches deep in the backseat floorboard of Theresa’s Nissan Pathfinder, and then think what would happen if you opened the door…chili pouring out all over the convenience store parking lot!  It was actually an amazing sight – a volcanic flow of chili! – and I really, really wanted to take a picture, but I couldn’t because of the look on Theresa’s face.  She was completely deflated, more sad about not being able to participate in the cook-off than upset about her car or her clothes.  We knew the rules:  you had to have four gallons to enter, and we figured there was only about 1 gallon left in our  toppled Igloo.  Her disappointment broke my heart, because she’d been struggling with the after-effects of chemotherapy and was finally feeling frisky again, so she really needed and deserved this open-air Texas good time we were planning.

It wasn’t about winning the cook-off.  It was about living.

We called the event organizer, a marvelous woman named Betsy who is the piledriving personality behind tiny Round Top keeping its public library and the rockin’ good time that is the annual chili cook-off.  Betsy wouldn’t hear of us turning back, even though we didn’t have enough chili to enter.  Betsy went into Save the Day Mode, in the way that some ladies are so incredibly good at:

  • She said that each of the other participants would be happy to give us some of their chili, that it would be a true Chili Bee, with our entry a melting pot of all the chilis.
  • She said she’d have a sheriff there to meet us and ensure we got a parking spot at the front, since we were now running late.
  • She told us to take a back road, ’cause we’d get there quicker.
  • She further said that there was no need for us to stop at the local Wal-Mart for clothes for Theresa, because someone would help out with that, too, even if she had to go home and get something out of her own closet.

In other words, Betsy would not accept us turning tail and running back to Houston, licking our chili wounds.

OK! After three rolls of paper towels and five minutes wrangling the convenience store’s water hose, we were on the road again, still in two cars.  Hers, all bedraggled and chili-smelling, mine still toting the rest of the gear.  The back road that Betsy told us to take was Texas Farm Road 389, and it was gorgeous.  I started to feel pretty good about Betsy’s Save the Day plan, Theresa’s well-deserved good time being salvaged, and the story that was evolving from our day.  So I spent the rest of the drive trying to write a limerick about it in my head.

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Theresa in her borrowed apron

When we arrived in the tiny center of Round Top, it was clear that Betsy had sprung into action and publicized our plight:  the sheriff was indeed waiting to direct us to our primo parking spot, the mayor was also there to greet us, there was a borrowed apron for Theresa to wear, and the judges were waiting to get our remnant quart of chili before starting the judging.  The local radio station was broadcasting from the event and Betsy was so tickled by my limerick that she had me go on stage read it on the air.

Our chili took a tumble
But we’ve no cause to grumble
The town rallied ’round
– it’s a heck of a town –
Round Top, we’re ready to rumble!

We went around with a big plastic pitcher like Oliver Twist asking for more gruel (but with a much better reception) and collected a bit of chili from most of the other contestants, fired up our propane heater and served that Chili Bee / chili quilt concoction to lots of happy attendees.  They loved it and we ran out.  Everyone there knew our story because the radio station MC had made a big deal of it before we arrived.  It was a wonderful, life-affirming experience and I will never forget the sense of support and community that Betsy and Round Top gave us.

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What a wonderful day we had in Round Top

royers1But that wasn’t all!  We had been joined by Theresa’s son Nick, who was going to college in not-too-far-away San Marcos, and after we ran out of chili, we closed up shop and walked across the street to Royer’s Round Top Café, a local restaurant that really is The Bomb.  Especially their pies…heavenly.  We laughed, we talked, we practiced and honed the story we’d be telling everyone about our day…and we realized what an incredible blessing it was to have had this remarkable experience.

And then we met the governor.  It was that kind of day.

governor-and-us
Texas Governor Rick Perry was also enjoying the fine food at Royer’s that beautiful January Saturday in 2013; he was extremely gracious and didn’t even ask if we had voted for him (which I will not comment on since this is not and will never be a political blog)

In the evening, we met up with Betsy and other Round Top locals at the Stone Cellar Winery. (The Stone Cellar bartender had been the donor of the apron that covered the huge chili stain in Theresa’s lap.) We relived the day, giggled over our new name, The Chili Spillers, reveled in the fact that the cook-off had raised a ton of money for the library (even though we didn’t win!) and figured that life would be simpler if there were more chili cook-offs and backroads and less freeways.


January 21, 2013 (email)

Hello Betsy,

Thank you so much for your encouragement and support in the face of our “chili-mergency”. We had such a marvelous day in spite of our chili spill and will definitely be back next year with a crowd. You are running a delightful and fun event and it is great to know that we are doing our small part to support reading and the library. We promised to send our pictures, and the best few are attached, including the one with our famous / infamous governor. I have also included the limerick I wrote in my head as we were driving along that beautiful back road you told us to take. It has several variations (because there are so many rhymes for “umble”).

Version 1

Our chili took a tumble
But we’ve no cause to grumble
The town rallied ’round
– it’s a heck of a town –
Round Top, we’re ready to rumble!

Version 2

Our chili took a tumble
But it didn’t cause a fumble
The town rallied ’round
– it’s a hell of a town –
Round Top, we’re ready for your rumble!

Version 3

Our chili took a tumble
But we’ve no cause to grumble
Round Top rallied ’round
– it’s a hell of a town –
Their kindness leaves us humbled

And finally, for your personal archives, here’s the 1-minute version of the day that we posted on Facebook. I think every friend we have from the Houston area will be there next year.

“The Chili Cookoff story must be told in person to get the full impact, but here’s a brief synopsis: 4 of our 5 gallons of chili spilled in the car, the Round Top folks rallied and told us to come anyway and they would share their chili so we could still enter with our one gallon that was left (the rules state that you have to bring at least 4 gallons), our story of chili disaster and perseverance was told on the radio and the mayor greeted us when we got there (late), a constable on duty at the cookoff came by and told us he had seen the results of our chili spill as we were parked on the side of the highway (he said, “I thought that was a bad place to park, but when you opened the door and the chili came out, I knew where you were headed”), everyone at the cookoff knew who we were and treated us like we were special, we met and took a picture with the governor, and made tons of new friends. Round Top is a marvelous, welcoming town, and a great place to have a good time. Are we going back next year? Heck yeah!”

Looking forward to next year – but how could it possibly top this year?

Kim and Theresa, The Chili Bee


Betsy sent an enthusiastic response (“you’re famous!”), shared our photos with the local newspaper, and they published our Posing with the Governor photo. She checked in with us at the beginning of 2014 to urge us to enter the cook-off again, but by then, Theresa was too ill.

In 2015, Betsy contacted all of the previous cook-off contestants with this beautiful note, and that’s when I found out that something else very special had happened in Round Top that day, after we’d run out of chili and started hanging out with the governor.


Feb. 7, 2015 (email)

Everyone–I wanted to share this poem that Barbara Smith sent me. We all remember how the 2013 Chili Cook Off came to a standstill when a funeral procession passed. The family was very touched, as is evidenced by a poem one of the family members wrote and shared. Yes, we are a caring community and that’s why I love living here. Please pass this on to any and all you think would have been there.

Betsy

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Feb. 7, 2015 (email)

Dear Betsy –

Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful poem. My friend Theresa and I participated in the cook off in 2013 as The Chili Bee, although perhaps we are best remembered as the “chili spillers”. You and the rest of Round Top’s finest were very good to us after our chili catastrophe which left a flood of 4 gallons of it in Theresa’s car. She was between chemotherapy treatments that beautiful January day, and with our remaining chili and a positive attitude, we soaked up the sunlight, the local color and a beer or two. We even met the governor in the late afternoon at Royer’s. What a great day.

That 2013 Roundtop Chili Cookoff was the last good time for Theresa and me. She battled her cancer over the next year, even while still doing some caterings with her husband and business partner. She wanted to sign us up for the 2014 Cookoff, but just felt a little too feeble. She left us for good on a beautiful day in May last year, and the memory of our adventure in Roundtop is one that I will always treasure. The poem that you sent makes it even more special. God bless small town folks, and God bless you.

Kim


The Round Top Chili Cook-off is this Saturday, January 21.  If you happen to be in Texas, you might just want to stop by for a little small-town magic.

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  • For another story about my inimitable friend Theresa, click here.
  • For my chili recipe (with beans!), click here.

Copyright 2017 Glover Gardens Cookbook

(except the David Markwardt poem and Royer’s photo)