Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Long, Long Ago. And Today.

Today is my birthday - the big six-five! Medicare and senior citizen discounts, here I come! It seems like a good day to dig deep into the folds of my brain and pull out some of my earliest memories.

What is your earliest memory?

The earliest memory I have, I think, was from when I was about two years old. I remember sitting on the steps of a small, wooden back porch, in the sunshine, licking the frosting (or cake batter?) off of an egg beater. Wouldn't you know that my earliest recollection involves eating something sweet!

One other very early memory was also at the age of two or three. We were living in Adak, Alaska, in Navy housing, when my Dad was serving in the Korean conflict. The memory is of my mom opening the front door one morning to find a bright wall of wind-drifted snow filling the entire door opening. What impressed me most, at that young age, was the imprint made by our doorknob in that wall of snow.

I have many vivid memories from the ages of four, five and six - of picking tomatoes from a neighbor's yard when we lived in Hood River, Oregon (I especially remember the pungent scent of those tomato vines); of a drive I took with our family friend, Wilson Burns, and his daughter, Carol Jean, when Wilson allowed Carol Jean and me to stick our hot, bare feet out the car window to cool them off in the wind stream; of playing cowboys and Indians with my very first "boyfriend", Danny Abel (I still have the little engraved ID bracelet he gave me as a parting gift, when we moved from Portland to Salem); of becoming "blood sisters" with my friend, Kyra Ann Mosely - her mom was a nurse, and she helped us prick our fingers with a needle stuck through a cork; of going on a school field trip to a dairy where we tried our hands at milking a cow, and then sat under a tree to eat a cup of ice cream; and of riding my bike with other neighborhood kids to the little corner store to buy jaw breakers and red licorice (there's that sweet tooth, again!).

As I sat, thinking about childhood memories, it was like they tumbled, one over the other in kaleidoscope-fashion . . . relationships, experiences, inspirational moments, failures, successes, sad times, and fun times.

So now that I've proven that my long-term memory is still functioning, you may ask, "But, Linda, what about your short-term memory. Do you remember what you did to celebrate this birthday?" And I do!

Dan took me out to dinner last evening. He asked me where I'd like to eat, and I told him, "Wherever we can get creme brûlée for dessert!" That turned out to be a nice little local restaurant called Megg's. We had a great dinner, topped off with my FAVORITE dessert. They even brought my creme brûlée out with a candle in it.

When I went to check the mail yesterday, there was a small package waiting for me, from my very special friend, Gloria, who lives in Washington. I couldn't wait to open it, and when I did, it appeared to be a very expensive camera lens! She shares my love of photography, but I knew that a lens like that would be WAY over the top for a gift between friends.

So I inspected it a little more closely and found to my great delight . . . 

. . . that the "lens" was, in fact, an insulated beverage cup! Gloria and her sense of humor never fails :-)

Today my birthday fun continued, including special birthday messages from my mom and from Tim. Both of them told me to be watching the mail for birthday gifts that should arrive soon. I also heard from my long-time BFF, Shelley, who never fails to remember me on my birthday. Then, at noon, two of my "girl friends" from church, Wynn and Susan, treated me to lunch at Olive Garden. We spent nearly two hours trading stories and giggling like school girls.

Finally, this evening, right after dinner, I answered my phone and heard two sweet little voices crowing, "Happy birthday, Grandma!" Clara, Robert and I chatted a bit, and then Kelsey joined in (Chris was not at home right then). Kelsey asked if we'd like to have Robert come visit for a weekend next month. Would we?! Of course! So we'll be making plans for this, his first visit to Grandma and Grandpa's house all by himself. Can't wait!!!

Yep, it was a good birthday, and I'm all set to take on another year.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Great-Grandma Lucinda Catherine Williams Baker

For the past few months I've been doing research on both Dan's and my ancestors. I'm not really a dedicated researcher, but more of a sporadic one; I go at it fairly diligently for a while, then feel the need to take a break for a few weeks. Last week I was concentrating on Dan's family.

As I mentioned in a recent post, the Baker side of Dan's family has some strong ties to Bell County, where we now live. His grandfather, Charles Monroe Baker, lived in Oenaville, just outside of Temple, and some of his children, including Wiley (who raised Dan and his brother after their parents passed away), were born there. There are five Bakers buried in the Oenaville Cemetery, and my research has revealed that they were all great-nieces and great-nephews of Dan's great-great-grandfather, Littleton Baker. I guess you could call them Dan's kissing' cousins, but definitely not direct ancestors.

Last week, however, I was surprised to make a new discovery - that Dan's own great-grandmother, Lucinda Catherine Williams Baker was buried in a small, private cemetery - Arthur Cemetery - outside of Troy, Texas, which is about 11 miles north of Temple. So, last Sunday afternoon Dan and I drove up to Troy. Once we found the cemetery, on the edge of some farm land, we had no problem locating Great-Grandma Lucinda's headstone among the 30, or so, others. We found three more Baker graves there, as well, one of them belonging to an infant daughter of Lucinda Catherine and James Moses. My research indicates that Lucinda, who died at the young age of 43, bore her husband 11 children, including Dan's grandfather, Charles Monroe Baker.

Arthur Cemetery (Also known as Bottoms Cemetery), near Troy, TX.

Below is a photo of Dan standing beside his great-grandma's headstone. We hope to go back sometime soon with some flowers. There was something sweetly poignant about finding this marker, knowing that Dan's great-grandfather stood right here, 115 years ago, to lovingly lay his wife to rest.

Lucinda Catherine Williams Baker; Born July 17, 1855, Marion Co., Arkansas; Died August 17, 1898, Bell Co., Texas.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The New Year Begins

I've been terrible about blogging lately. Here are a few of the things that have been going on in the Judd household since our New Year's Eve spent at Chris and Kelsey's.

January 2
Dan's Mercedes was beginning to show signs of age. The last time he had it in for service, he was warned about several rather expensive repairs that were probably on the horizon. Ever since then, he's been doing his research so he could make a good choice for his next car. He finally made his decision to go with a Volkswagen CC. On Thursday, January 2, he drove his well-loved Mercedes down to Georgetown and traded it in for a new red VW CC.

(Not a very good picture. I told Dan I'll get one of him and his new car to post in the next few days.)
January 12
We started Sunday morning, January 12, like we do most Sunday mornings. We drove across town to Starbuck's for breakfast, and then headed down 31st St. toward our church building. We were almost to the corner where we turn off of 31st St., when a black SUV came up from behind us, in the other lane. He was going at a pretty fast clip, and seeing a car ahead of him, in his lane, he apparently decided to go around him instead of slowing down. The problem was, WE were in the lane to his right, and he moved right over into our lane, forcing Dan off the road and causing us to hit the curb - hard! The SUV didn't stop and was going fast enough that we couldn't read his license plate. Yes, this was his brand new car, twelve days old, still wearing its dealer tags! Thankfully, Dan reacted quickly enough to avoid actually being run into by the SUV, but hitting the curb destroyed our two passenger side tires and the alloy wheels. We had to have the car towed. We never made it to church that morning. But we are very thankful that no one was injured. Dan now has his car back, and it's like new again.

January Weather
Like nearly all of the nation, we were affected by the well-publicized "Polar Vortex." We had very cold weather for Central Texas - in the 20s, with wind. But we recovered and had some nice warm, almost spring-like days following that. Today, though, the temperature started out in the 40s and has dropped steadily all day long. Tonight we even have a little bit of snow on the ground, and it's in the upper 20s.