Safety Harbor, Florida: I had intended to make a big deal out of my tenth year of blogging, which, surprisingly, coincided with my thousandth post. But both slipped right by. Post #1,000 was on Balanced Rock in Arches National Park. I was eager to get it up and totally missed my landmark occasion. We’ve covered a bit of ground since and are now in Florida with our son Tony, his wife Cammie and our grandsons Connor, Chris, and Cooper. There hasn’t been much time for blogging— or even backroads. So I am even further behind!
Given all of this, I decided that Texas hospitality would make an ideal blog for post #1001. It began with celebrating Peggy’s 70th birthday. We stopped off in Georgetown, Texas where Peggy’s brother John and his wife Frances live. They spoiled us rotten— feeding us salmon, ribs and steak. When we left, they loaded us down with chocolate cake, pumpkin bread (a true weakness of mine), and beautiful, large, garden tomatoes.
But our spoiling wasn’t over. We drove from Georgetown to League City just outside of Houston where Linda Leinen, a good blogging friend, had prepared another Texas feast for us. It came complete with brisket, potato salad and fruit salad finished off with Blue Bell ice cream topped with cherries. (Linda has been raving about Blue Bell for a long time.) She had also stocked in Texas beer and Texas wine. I’ll get back to Linda; but first, John and Frances.
Georgetown has a bit of family history tied to it. The Mekemsons/Makemsons came down from Illinois prior to the Civil War and were among the early settlers of the area. William Makemson was sheriff of the town following the Clvil War and later served as editor of the town’s newspaper. He eventually ran for Governor of Texas on the Republican ticket but lost. It was a time when only Democrats won. Texans still blamed the Republicans for freeing the slaves and for the ‘Reconstruction’ period that followed the Civil War.
While we were visiting John and Frances, I got a note from Karen at the WP blog, Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge. “I can’t believe you are in Georgetown,” she exclaimed. “My family had the original Spanish land-grant for the area!” Odds are that our families would have known each other. It’s possible that they even intermarried. Like Linda, Karen lives in the Houston area.
Visiting Linda had been on my agenda for several years. We had almost pulled it off four years ago when Peggy and I had re-driven the 10,000 mile route I had followed on my bike trek around North America in 1989. I had ridden my bike across Texas at the time. It’s a long way by car, so you can imagine what it is like on a bicycle! We had missed that connection with Linda on our road trip, but this time we succeeded.
In addition to enjoying blogging, photography, nature and wandering, we have another bond. We both lived in upcountry Liberia, West Africa. I was a Peace Corps Volunteer there from 1965-67. Linda was connected with a Lutheran Mission in Liberia starting in 1970. We often share tales of our experiences.
When Peggy and I walked into her house, I immediately noticed Liberian tribal masks on her wall and decided we had to have a photo with them as a backdrop. There was also Liberian country money on display. Even more significant to me, she had a wood-carved crucifix from the leper colony in Ganta. If you have read my book, The Bush Devil Ate Sam, the carving of the bush devil featured on the front also came from the colony. It’s possible that Freddy the Carver did both of our pieces. My friend Morris Carpenter, who served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ganta and introduced me to Freddy, had a crucifix from him that looked quite similar to Linda’s.
We had a delightful evening with Linda. At 73 she is full of both energy and laughter and can still put in a full week sanding and varnishing sailboats in the harbor next to her condo, which is how she makes her living. She shared some of her fascinating history with us, which I will leave up to her to share other than to note the time she hitchhiked from Liberia up to London. If you have ever been in Africa, you have some idea of what a monumental task that would be! It speaks to what an adventuresome soul she is.
As we left, I noticed that Linda had a collection of rocks in a basket on the floor. I was going to comment on how they reminded me of the collections of rocks you find scattered around Georgia O’Keeffe’s house in New Mexico. Before I could get my observation out, Linda commented, “I collected the large rock from below Georgia O’Keefe’s house.” Forever generous, she reached down into her collection and came up with a fossilized snail from Texas and handed it to us as a memento of our visit.
Later that night, I thought “Darn. I meant to take Bone in to meet Linda.” Turns out she had her own bone that she wanted Bone to meet. “Next time,” she told me in an Email.
Our thanks to John, Frances and Linda for showing us the true meaning of Texas Hospitality!
NEXT BLOG: Who knows. The good news is that I have plenty of new blog material. The bad news is that I don’t have any time to blog. From here we are heading up to North Carolina where our kids have rented a large home on the Outer Banks as another celebration of Peggy’s birthday! She isn’t suffering. This morning, our son Tony took her flying while I finished this post!