Happy Summer 2017

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Happy First Day of Summer! Where I live the temperatures have already soared into the upper 90’s and there is lots of sunshine and those big fluffy Texas only clouds.  All eyes are on the Gulf of Mexico from now until early October, and, yes there’s development out there already. Time for watermelon, iced tea and summer evenings swatting mosquitos.  The long days of summer stretch before us – get out and do something fun!

The Little Elephant

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February 2017, temporary location

This cast stone elephant is charming, isn’t it?  It is one of two that are part of the Hertzberg Circus Collection.  For many years it and its companion stood in front of the former San Antonio Public Library at 210 W. Market Street.  Everytime I walked by the building it never failed to make me smile!

The little elephants have a long story that, thankfully, has a happy ending for them. Harry Hertzberg was a local attorney and avid circusana collector who left his extensive collection to the City of San Antonio when he passed away in 1940.  The collection was then housed in the former San Antonio Public Library building and the first elephant was installed at the front; the city continued to add to the collection doubling its original size.

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Five elephants were cast by local artist Julian Sandoval.  A fellow circus collector commissioned one for Mr. Hertzberg as a gift; it was displayed on Mr. Hertzberg’s lawn until his death. The second elephant was donated to the collection when its owner passed away in 1989.  It was installed opposite the original elephant in front of the old library.

By 2001 the circus collection contained 40,000 items and the cost of maintaining the museum was prohibitive. Per the terms of Mr. Hertzberg’s will the collection then passed to the Witte Museum. One elephant was installed in front of the museum and named “Cinnamon Candy”. Countless children (including my oldest grandchild) posed for pictures with this little elephant.

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Cinnamon Candy in her new location, 2017

A re-painting of the elephant was sponsored by the Bolner family, owners of Bolner’s Fiesta Spices in 2006; conservation work has also been done to preserve the elephant. When the Witte underwent a major renovation the elephant was moved to the side of the museum, close to the temporary entrance.  When the renovations were finished the little stone elephant was moved to its new location in front of the B. Naylor Morton Research Center. I’m not sure where the other elephant is – time for a trip to the museum!

 

Flag Day

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June 14th is celebrated as Flag Day; however, it is one of the lesser known American observances.  The flag had been created by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. Various celebrations had been taking place for many years to honor the American flag, but it wasn’t until 1916 that President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation making June 14th a day of honoring the American flag.

“I therefore suggest and request that throughout the nation and if possible in every community the fourteenth day of June be observed as Flag Day with special patriotic exercises,”

June 14th was officially designated as Flag Day in 1949. So fly those flags today and show your spirit!

 

Adventure day

One day last week I had a long-promised adventure day which didn’t turn out quite like I had planned.  But it’s always okay because that’s what adventure is all about, right?

For $2.75 you can buy a one-day bus pass in the city where I live and ride any bus anywhere all day.  Not a bad deal! I had planned to ride much more, but ended up walking just as much as riding.  Truthfully, the walking came about because I just wan’t patient enough to wait for the next bus that I wanted to catch! Still, not a bad thing as I saw many things that way, too.

My travels took me to familiar places and some new places, too.  And, yes there will be some blog posts coming up real soon.  Probably another adventure day, too!  Enjoy the slide show!

It’s made out of…what?

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Lightin’, Al Souza, 2001

We all need things to look forward to, even if they’re just something small and important only to us.  But we also need those little surprise moments that stun a little and then lead to a smile or maybe even a good laugh.

This work gave me one of those little surprises.  At first I glanced at it and started to walk on by, but the texture pulled me back.  What is that? Instantly I realized what I was seeing and had one of those little surprise moments of delight.

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This work is made out of puzzle pieces – does that make you smile?  Bet it does!

The Overflowing Fountain

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God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. Romans 5:5 NRSV

Love so amazing, so divine.  God’s love is poured down upon us just as water in a fountain cascades down filling one level after another.  He doesn’t use a funnel that’s wide at the top and narrows down at the bottom; he pours his love full strength over us and through us so it fills us from one layer to the next.  It’s not a flooding torrent either like some of the storms we experience here in South Texas that end as quickly as they begin.  God’s love is soft and gentle, yet strong, covering us securely without drowning us.

But, unlike the fountain that has a recirculating pump to carry the water back to the top, once his love fills our heart it flows out from us to reach others.  As we receive God’s love, mercy, and grace it overflows from us naturally.  Yes, sometimes things don’t go right and we feel separated from God or we separate ourselves, but the love is there always.  Just remember to turn the fountain back on!

And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight Philippians 1:9 NRSV

Mimosa Time (not the drink!)

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My poor, very crowded mimosa tree is loading up with blooms.  Early morning, through the day, and in the evening they fill the air with a gentle scent that is fragrant and very soothing without being over powering like honeysuckle. I enjoy the delicate blossoms way up on the tree, but they do make a mess when they fall.  I just wish I had a way to capture the scent and bring it inside so it would last until next year.

The Watermelon

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There’s something so refreshing about a bite of ice-cold watermelon on a hot afternoon.

Recently I bought a small watermelon to chill and slice.  The stores market them as “personal size” melons which always makes me smile, but they are ideal for just one person to eat over a few days. It had been a while since I bought a whole melon, but decided it was ridiculous to pay the price of an already sliced bowl of watermelon when it would only take a few minutes to cut up the small personal size melon. As I cut into it and the juice spread rapidly over the cutting board I had a flash flood of memories of summer watermelon cuttings and also the quick memory of why we always cut them outside on a nice stack of newspapers!

As I sliced I remembered my grandfather’s large sun-browned fingers and how expertly he could thump a watermelon to select the best choice.  He knew exactly the right thump and no one ever argued with him. The melon would be brought home and stored in the old refrigerator in what was called the utility room of their house.  Late afternoon when the heat and humidity was at its finest the melon and a large butcher knife would be taken outside to the concrete table in the backyard.  There, on the stack of newspapers, the melon would yield its red or yellow fruit.

The adults offered plates and forks as well as a shaker of salt.  However, the kids always declined all offers. I preferred to bite into the slice and knaw all the way to the rind with juice running down my chin and arms onto my clothes. I knew I would suffer a lecture from my mother about the stains on the clothing, but that would be later.  For now it was serious eating on the cool, sweet watermelon.  Lasting memories were created on those afternoons under the pine trees.

I remember in particular one round, very dark green watermelon that my grandfather brought in one day.  It was still warm from the field and he stated that he got it from a certain farmer and had picked it from the field.  As a child I assumed that the farmer was there and told my grandfather to help himself to a fresh melon. It had the darkest yellow meat and as I remember it was the best watermelon I ever ate.  When I mentioned this particular melon to my father many years later Daddy chuckled and shared that the adults had all suspected that the melon was not a gift from the farmer (as I had assumed), but that it had been plucked from the field when no one was looking.  Stolen!

Life and the puzzle or The puzzle and life

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I’ve always loved to work puzzles and generally have one spread out on the breakfast table at any time.  If company is coming and I need to use this table I just spread a table cloth over it and tell the company not to spill anything.  Family knows what’s underneath and will usually pull back the cloth and start working on it!

Each time I work on a puzzle I am reminded that working a puzzle is very similar to life and many life situations. Each puzzle is different, just like every human life, and there are different situations with each one.  So today I’m sharing a few observations about the similarities I’ve found.

Every puzzle worker has a little different process, but I always start with the outline as the straight edge pieces are easy to spot (assuming you are working a straight edge puzzle); the subject and color determine how to proceed. The outline reminds me of our early, formative years when we are babies and toddlers.  As we grow and mature the inside pieces are gradually filled in, usually in sections, until the life is complete and we pass on to the next life.

Many times I end up with a missing piece.  With this puzzle I knew fairly early that the piece just wasn’t in the box.  In life there is often a piece missing, too.  It may be a physical or psychological problem that presents itself at birth or later in life.  It may be something like a desired career or happy marriage that just never is “in the box”. However, I’ve found that sometimes the missing piece does appear later or, as in this case, I accepted the fact that it wasn’t there and proceeded anyway. So too in life with the missing piece.

Most puzzles are challenging and can often lead to giving up and crumbling the pieces in the box or at least being tempted to do so.  The challenge can also become a driving force of determination to finish. If a certain section just isn’t coming together then it is time to move to another section; often when you return to the difficult section it will come together much easier.  I’ve also had the experience of casually walking by the table and oh my, there’s the piece I need and then I can proceed! So too in life with the challenges we encounter.

While working on this puzzle I had another piece that I thought was also missing.  I had tried all the pieces that I thought were the right color and shape and nothing worked. But as I kept working I realized that surrounding pieces weren’t coming together either.  The culprit turned out to be a nearby sneaky piece that was a close match, but not the right one.  After I pulled out the offender the section went smoothly.  So too in life when we let an oversight hinder everything.