Ice Cream on Your Cobbler?

The day after I arrived in Texas, my sister and I drove over to Beaumont to pick up my brother and his family, and we head off to the great state of Louisiana. Now you just might be asking yourself, "If he just got to Texas, why would be heading off to Louisiana?", well I will tell you.

My Mom was born Texas but she grew up in Louisiana for the most part. For many years
she and my Grandparents lived in Oakdale, Louisiana, and that is where we were heading to that day. You see, there is only one relative left from my Mom's generation. Someone who grew up with my Mom and can still remember all the "old ones" that have died on gone on to Glory.
Someone who knew my Grandparents, and great Aunts and Uncles, the very ones we pay our respects to when we go by the old cemetary. That one lone survivor is our Cousin Rena May.
All my life we have gone back to Oakdale to visit Cousin Rena Mae and her family. She and her husband, Ivy, grew up with my Mom and her sisters. I did not know till very recently that before Cousins Rena Mae met her husband Ivy, he and my Mom were boyfriend/girlfriend.
But that is way more than you probably want to know. Needless to say, it didn't last between
Mom and Ivy. He and Rena Mae were married over 50 years before he died a few year ago.
So since I was home, we decided the three of us should make one more trip over to see her.

It is only a three hour trip over to see her, well it is probably shorter but we were all laughing and talking and it turned into a three hour trip. My sister had written to her a few weeks before and asked if it was ok if we come and she shot a letter right back telling my sister to please come and she would cook us chicken and dumplings. Now I do not know if you have ever had HOMEMADE chicken and dumplings, I mean made from scratch, nothing pre-bought except the ingredients. but let me tell you, I would drive more than three hours to get that!
We actually arrive a little later than we had planned. We pulled into Oakdale, which is a VERY small town and we found the road to go to Cousin Rena Mae's. We drove down this narrow road that was once a very busy road in its day. The old sawmill was located on this road and if you
look through the trees and over grown brush you can still the old sawmill building that are overgrown in the woods. As the road got narrower we knew we were close to her house, and as we made the bend in the road we could see her sitting on the poarch waiting for us. Now I should let you know, Cousin Rena Mae is around 90 or 91.
She got all excited as we get out of the car and all hug and kiss and she hurries us into the kitchen to eat, she don't want it getting cold!!
So there we were, all sitting around the table eating HOMEMADE chicken and dumplings (that were to die for!), macaronie and cheese and HOME MADE corn bread. Now I will even start to tell you about how much I LOVE homemade cornbread. It's a little piece of Heaven, let me tell you. We were all stuffed to the gills and then, she brought out the HOMEMADE peach cobbler.
It was amazing.
So she takes us up some cobbler and we are just starting to eat it when my brother's little boy wanted to go outside and play. She Nancy, my brother's wife, took him outside to play.
Well here were are eating our cobbler and as soon as Nancy leaves the room, Cousins Rena Mae turns to us and says " I am so glad she left I need to talk to you kids", well we all looked at her and the next words she said was " I need to tell you your Mother was adopted. She really belongs to your Grannie Yielding sister, Stella. Stella did not know who the father was ( we found out later Stella got around alot, and not in a good way. She had several children by different guys and gave them all away.) and after she had her she gave her to her sister (my grandmother) to raise as her own." Well I am not sure who was more shocked, but when I looked over to where my brother was he still had his fork halfway between his cobbler bowl and his mouth.
THEN, she turns to me like she had said nothing and said "Jaymes, would you like some ice
cream on your cobbler?" Somehow I got the word out "Sure". We all just kinda sat there for a minute and finally my sister started asking her a few questions about what he had just laid on us.
According to Cousin Rena Mae, my Mom did not know anything about this. Cousin Rena Mae's Mother was Bessie, who was also a sister to Nancy(my grandmother) and Stella. Cousin Rena Mae said everyone was sworn to secretcy about it when it happen. Her mother told her and she said she just had to let us know before she died. ( We all decided later that as far as we were concerned she could have just taken it to the grave with her).
Shortly after that more relatives started coming in and we did not get to talk about it anymore.
Later as we drove away, we were all quiet, my sister finally said "Well guys how do you fell about this little turn of events?" We really did not know what to say and then we all started
running back through all the stories we had been told all our lives about when Mom was born and about her life growing up. To be honest, we were pretty shell schocked. We did not know what to think. So, over the next few days, we all three contacted all the older cousins who were younger than Mom and asked them about it. They all said they had never heard anything like that and they all agreed with us that if it were true, knowing Mom's older sister, none of them would have ever been able to keep it a secret, Hell none of of them had ever been able to keep a secret about anything. (Just to let you know, my Mom came from a large family and her oldest sister was 20 years older then her)

So here is the conclusion we all three came to: If she was indeed the daughter of Stella and adopted by my Grandparents, it changes nothing, everyone involved is dead. In my Mom's world, my Grandparents were her real parents and all her sisters and brothers were her family, so that is all that truly matters. We do know that Stella died in a State Hospital when she was in her 60's but we do not know where she is buried. We are going to do our best to find where she is buried and make sure she has a nice headstone, and leave it at that.

I am really not sure if I will ever eat peach cobbler again.


The Deer Hunter

Well you can say you saw it here first! Yes I am holding several guns, no I did not shoot any of them and if you notice to my lower right, your lower left, yes that is a REAL dead deer laying across the 4 wheeler. No I did not shoot the deer, my brother-in-law did just a about 30 minutes or so before this picture was taken. One of the Doctors Iwork for asked me to send him a picture of me holding a weapon after he found out I can shoot a gun. This is the picture we sent him. Just so you know, I can shoot the rifle leaning up against the 4 wheeler, yea its scary I know!

Deep In The Heart of Texas

" The stars at night, are big and bright
deep in the heart of Texas
The praire sky is wide and high
deep in the heart of Texas"

Yep that is just where I was a couple of weeks ago, deep in the heart of (East)Texas. After almost a year and half, I decided it was high time I took a little trip back home to Texas, just so
everyone there would not forget just how good looking I am ! (Just kidding!!) Every since I moved out here to the Californias I have gone back to Texas to see the family about once a year.
But this past year I was not able to go since I had changed jobs in the middle of the year and did not have any vacation time. So on November 8 Patrick dropped me off at LAX and a couple hours later I was in the big silver tube hurling through space toward Texas. My sister and brother-in-law picked me up at the airport and we started back to their house were I stayed for the next week.
Now the very minute you step out of the airport you can notice a BIG difference between Los Angeles and Houston, Texas. For one, even though is it an international airport, it is way smaller than LAX. As we were making our descent into Houston, I looked out the window and saw downtown Houston, the first thing I said was "It looks so small!". Well comparted to downown LA, I guess it is. And downtown LA sure does not have as many trees surounding it as Houston does either. There is another shocking difference when you step out of the airport, EVERYTHING is so green!

We drove the 90 miles back to my sister's and dropped off my brother-in-law so he could
go deer hunting that afternoon. Yes, I said deer hunting. That in itself is a whole nother story I will not venture into, although I will try and include a pic of yours truly with guns and a deer to show you what I mean. Yes as scary as it may sound to you, I do own a gun, I do know how to shoot it, although not really well any more.

So after we dropped my brother-in-law off at home, my sister and I headed to Beaumont (which is about 30 miles away) to see my brother and his family. My brother, Steve, and his wife, Nancy, have a beautiful son named Morgan. Morgan and I do talk on the phone when I call my brother about every couple of weeks, but I have not seen him since he was 2, he just turned
I was not ready for a grown up little Morgan, but that is just what I got. He is adorable, and better yet, he really loves his Uncle Jaymes. We played and laughed alot (he and I got in trouble at the restruant when we went to eat because we were making too much noise!)
So after we went to dinner, my sister and I headed back to her house. Anyone living in the Los Angeles area would be very envious of the Texas freeways. They are beautiful, wide, smooth and not really that many cars on them. I called them Heaven!

So for the rest of the week my sister and I ran around the countryside, visited some old homes that are now museums, took long walks in the woods, watch my brother-in-law and his brother and a friend, gut and skin a deer one of them had killed,drove around on their 200+ acres of blue berries (they are blue berry farmers) in her gold cart and just relaxed and had a wonderful time.

One thing I do want to mention that many of you will find strange, one of the reason I like to go back home to Texas besides seeing my family,is I really enjoy how quiet it is there. And I do mean quiet. Not even on a good day anywhere in the LA can you experience the queitness that
is there. It is total forests and ponds and lakes and creeks, nothing for miles and miles that would make a loud noise. I can sit on her back porch and watch the squirrels run around the yard and up the trees. I can try and count how many different kinds of birds I see in her trees (Saw a Bluejay and a Red Headed Woodpecker this trip). That is the kind of world I grew up in all my younger life, and it that part I really miss sometimes. They laugh at me back home when I tell them I really miss hearing the wind blow through the pines trees, it is the most soothing sound I know. They laugh at me about that because they have no idea what is like NOT to be able to step outside and hear it.

This trip was really good for me and I am really glad I stayed so long this time.( I usually stay only 3 or 4 days but this time I was there for 9.) The countryside where I grew up has really changed. Two horrible hurricanes have torn through there in the last 3 years, the forrests that I grew up with and played in and lived around, have really been changed by the high winds of the hurricanes. My sister is getting ready to put my Mom's house on the market to sell, which we have to do according to her Will. That is the house I grew up in since I was 5. Through the years, where ever I have been and I think about going back home, it is that house I think about going back to. If things work out as we hope, this will be the last trip back home that I get to
sit on that porch and look out over the neighborhood I grew up in. But you know, this is not
a sad thing. Since my Mom passed away, it is just a house. I was really surprised the first time
I went there after she passed way. It did not feel special anymore, it was just a house like that of someone I did not know. And I realized that now it is just a house,what made it such a special place was gone. Over the past couple of years since she died, I have wrestled with this intense sadness from time to time that I could not explain. But a week or so before I went to Texas, I tried to explain what I was feeling to Patrick, and he looked at me and told me, "You miss your Mom", and I realized that he was so right. But this trip back home to Texas helped me to make
peace with that sadness, and I came back to California a much happier me.

We had a couple of adventures while I was there that I will share with you in a couple of other posting, so stay tuned!!


p.s. For those of you who are not Texans, and for those of you are wish you were, the above
verse comes from a very lively little tune every Texan knows by heart. It is fast and lively and
even has hand clappen in it. Just ask me and I just might teach it to you!!