Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

 

Am I Blue?

00.0.Box.cLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – When is the best time to put a jigsaw puzzle together? A rainy day seemed right, when Brother was visiting during Thanksgiving week. I pulled out the State Flags and Capitols box I’d been saving for just such a day and dumped all one thousand pieces onto the card table. Brother raised an eyebrow and shook his head. I let tiny puzzle pieces filter through my fingers, trying to think of a working plan. 00.27.Puzzle Pieces“What strategy should I use?” I asked. “Colors,” was his reply. Now, generally speaking, that is good jigsaw strategy. But when the picture is 50 state flags, well that’s when you discover that most state flags are blue. In fact, only four state flags don’t have at least a touch of blue in them – Alabama, California, Maryland, and New Mexico.

The puzzle pieces sat in a pile for several days, as I half-heartedly tried to sort blue from blue from blue. After brother left, I raked everything back into the box and headed for my sewing basket. Being heavily dependent on Excel spreadsheets to help me organize almost everything in life, I grabbed a spool of thread and the scissors and with a little Scotch tape turned the 02.Puzzle. Stringscard table into Columns and Rows. Then I put Post-Its into each section marking which state fit where. Aha! I dug into those thousand pieces again looking for words. “Mon” went into the Montana section, “sas” into the Arkansas slot; I was on a roll! How many flags have outspread eagle wings? Just two – Iowa and North Dakota. Plop plop. The palm tree went to Hawaii; the horses to Pennsylvania, the bison belonged to Wyoming. The challenge began to be fun, and (with magnifying glass in hand) I began to notice the details within the flags. I didn’t expect to have a learning experience, but that is exactly what happened. In my two-year Journey to 50 states, I didn’t pay much attention to the state flags. But suddenly I realized that flags are the story-telling devices of the state. And I love a good story! » read more

 
 
 

Pioneers and Pilgrimages

30.Figures (2)Linda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – I bought two figures at Hobby Lobby a few months back. One is a dark-skinned woman with plaited hair, her black braids draped over her shoulders atop a fringed shawl; the other a fair-skinned woman with slightly reddish hair, cut shoulder length, the hood of her shawl softly framing her face. Native American? Scotch-Irish? Wearing finely tanned animal skins and finely stitched linen? Both are carrying baskets filled with food – pumpkins, squash, apples, grapes. Both are beautiful, and serene. “The spirit of Thanksgiving,” I thought when I spotted them. “My heritage, and just right for the November dining table.” I added gourds from the grocery; odd-shaped greens and yellows; plus several round ones tinged with orange. Brother was coming for most of Thanksgiving week; coming to this place we’d found together by an accident of fate. Have I told you this before? The Journal? The Search? The Arkansas tragedy?

It’s a story of our country really; our own personal connection to thousands of stories of the great westward migration, stories of pioneers, of courage, and change. Ours centers on a little girl named Martha Jane, who rolled through Clark County, Arkansas in November 1849 at the tender age of four. What an adventure! » read more

 
 
 

Song of the South

11.Sam Arriving AtlantaLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas –July was Sam Time. Sam is my youngest grandchild, born and growing up in the Pacific Northwest. He went to Juneau with me on the Journey back in 2012 (read all about it in Juneau) where we went whale-watching and dog-sledding and he got to know a capital city up and down. He flew into Little Rock last summer and spent three weeks with me in Arkansas, where we made a quick-trip into Oklahoma and Texas. But I figured it was time this boy had a bona fide real-time southern experience and learned about his roots. After all, he was teetering on the cusp of teenhood, and you know how fast that goes. I planned a full-fledged Journey through the south, worthy of a Fodor review.

I met Sam’s plane in Atlanta. His “unaccompanied minor” status required a direct flight, and we were headed for Gatlinburg anyhow, so that made sense. Did you know that Hartsfield International in Atlanta is the busiest airport in the world? 95 million passengers annually, coming into 7 terminals, exiting through 201 gates. Sam emerged through Alaska’s Gate D3 (at the far end of nowhere), a little taller than last year and wearing a Seattle Seahawks shirt. “Welcome to Atlanta, home of the Braves!” I grinned. And so began Sam’s Song of the South, Scott1stSteps66subtitled “Where Your Dad Grew Up.” I’d filled a notebook with pictures of family members he’d meet, and details about each stop we’d make. “First stop tomorrow is South Carolina,” I explained in our Atlanta motel room that night, “Ware Shoals, where we were living when your Dad was born.” I had a picture of his Dad taking his first steps, in our kitchen there on Dairy Street. My plan was to drive by and show him the house. You won’t believe how that turned out. » read more

 
 
 

A New Pencil Box

25 Linda schoolLinda Burton posting from Arkadelphia, Arkansas – A new pencil box and the first day of school. Who is old enough to remember the fresh wood smell of newly sharpened pencils? I’m thinking about that as I put on my hat and head out the door for my first day of classes at Henderson. The American West and Arkansas History; that’s my course of study this semester. Why? On the Journey I explored almost every inch of the “western” states but was left with more questions than answers by the end of it. I want to learn more about the legislation that opened those vast lands for settlement, the many treaties with the natives who were already living there, the creation of the new states; in other words, the expansion of our country throughout the 19th century. All to make this site more useful for everyone who accesses it. The Arkansas History class will help with that too, and additionally will provide insights about the emigration of my ancestors who died here in 1849 on their move from Alabama to Texas. Ancestors. A little family talk now. And “how I spent my summer 25 group at pianovacation.” Since I’m settled in one place with plenty of room for visitors, I invited, and they came! Grandson Andrew arrived June 21; grandson Sam July 12. Andrew left July 16; son Mike, and his Brenda, and her grandson Michael arrived July 31. Granddaughter Kayla and son Rick arrived August 2. Mike and Brenda and Michael left August 3; Sam left August 6. Rick and Kayla left August 16. Did you notice? There was a perfect alignment of planets on August 2. » read more

 
 
 

Times Three

Linda Burton posting from Sierra Vista, Arizona while traveling from Austin, Texas to Phoenix, ArizonaI wake up on Central Daylight Time. Bright sun shadows the face of the Sierra Diablos across the street. The car is loaded by 7:23; I see I’m almost out of gas. One stop, and then we’re on the road. An elevation climb, my ears can feel the pressure change, we’re going through a pass. A sign announces “Mountain Time.” I’ve gained an hour. But I’m still in Texas, will be for a long, long while. The limit is 80 mph, I do not hesitate, I fly.

The Eagle Mountains to my left, the Quitman’s too; the Finlay’s to my right. Peaks are 7,000 feet, wide valleys flatten out between. The GPS begins to show a darkened spot, a thick line very near the little car that mimics me. I stop and check the map; yes, Mexico is just there to my left, I know the Rio Grande is flowing there, the border mark.

Traffic thickens, El Paso drawing near, with Juarez on the other side, a troubled city, always in the news. Murder Capital of the World, they say. I need more gas, but everything is tense, so many lanes, so many curves, I wait, to come out on the other side. A break somewhere past the UTEP sign, a gorgeous mall, set high up in the hills. I’ve been driving for a long, long time.

And then I’m in New Mexico. The pavement changes, smooth, the lanes are wide, a sign assures you of a safety zone. Enchanted land, brilliant color, yellow flowers blooming in white sands. The Continental Divide! I stop to get a picture, close, I was here so many years ago, when kids were young. Now I have cats. Jack yawns in boredom, a wild-eyed panther look. “We’re really in the west,” I say, “where you were born.” There is nothing anywhere but souvenirs; gas is 20 miles ahead, they say. Los Cruces is a US Customs stop; the Border Dog doesn’t sniff my car.

Keep driving. Arizona next. The road looks old, worn out. I gain another hour. No sign announces, but I know, Arizona doesn’t favor Daylight time. Three time zones in one day for me. The headwind pushes back against the car; the freeway signs flash “Dust storms just ahead, pull off the road when you can’t see.” In the distance I see swirls, I am gone before they get to me.

I’m tired. I want to stop. Nature take some pity then, rewards me with its awesome sights; Texas Canyon has huge boulders like I’ve never seen. I know that I can make it now, and sure enough, the sign appears where I’m supposed to turn. I’m headed southward now, where family waits for me.

All’s well, except I’m not quite sure what time it is.

 
 
 

The Ladies and the Bats

Linda Burton posting from Austin, Texas – Aw shucks, I’m going to miss the bats. Austin is famous for its music, its food, and a really odd thing that has always puzzled me. Part of Austin’s cultural identity is caught up in bats. And I don’t mean baseball bats, I mean the kind that fly around at night eating insects. The story goes like this: the Ann W Richards Congress Avenue Bridge (named after the 45th governor of the state of Texas), which crosses over Lady Bird Lake (named after the former First Lady of the United States and created by the Longhorn Dam on the Colorado River) is home to a large urban bat colony. These bats, on their nightly flying and eating quest, attract about 100,000 tourists annually and impact the city economically to the tune of $8 million a year. There are a million bats living under Ann Richard’s bridge over Lady Bird’s lake; which means there are more bats than people in Austin. It’s a spectacular sight, I’m told; gather on the bridge, or in boats, or on either side of the river just about dusk to watch. But alas, they haven’t come back to Austin from their winter vacation in Mexico yet; mid-March is a typical arrival time. Since I won’t get to see the little critters, I researched a few Bat Facts. » read more

 
 
 

On The Road At Last

Linda Burton posting from Lafayette, Louisiana traveling from home to Austin, Texas – Sometimes you have to stop planning and start driving. Today was that day. I’d hoped to begin the Journey Across America on January 1; it seemed an auspicious date, an easy target to aim for. I’d do Montgomery first, then Tallahassee, Baton Rouge, and Jackson, arriving in Austin on the first of March. But there was too much to do; buying the Scion and getting it decked out, packing and moving stuff to brother’s house, or giving much of it away. I had to buy a new laptop and phone that will let me work on the road. I had to visit the family in Florida; have that last lunch with cousin Emily; have that last visit to Mom’s and Dad’s graves and say goodbye to step-mom Opal; check in with the doctor and the dentist. Today I’m tired; I could sleep for a week, but no more delays. This is it. It took hours to load the car, brother helped me haul it out; I had no idea how everything would fit. But somehow it did; the cats were tucked against the back of the seat so they could see me, and I could almost see them. Brother got my picture by the car; I got his by the front door; arms extended, whew! We’re done! Now go! I stopped for gas, diet Coke, and a bear claw, my standard convenience-store shopping. It was 9:04 AM, and I was on the road at last. » read more