Tag Archives: AGE of Central Texas

Honoring Life’s Sweetest Moments

6 Jun

What a warm greeting I received every time I walked into the Memory Connections program at Hope Lutheran Church to write with a collection of wonderful individuals—Bobby, Dolores, Elizabeth, Helen, Jim, Joyce, Larry, Marge, Nick, Pat, Rebecca, Ron, and Suzette.

Such laughter and camaraderie filled the room, which was always decorated for the season—Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, or Valentine’s Day.

We connected with each other through the history of our names, favorite seasons, and the sharing of special keepsakes. My famous chocolate chip cookies prompted stories about the writers’ favorite foods. I was touched to see these writers supported one other and embrace me. What an honor to spend time with these Memory Connections writers!

Terri Schexnayder
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

Things That Make Me Smile

Laughing with friends, old and new.
Window shopping on Anderson Lane,
looking at beautiful furniture in Louis Shanks,
at Karavel for shoes on sale,
looking in Terra Toys at the Steiff animals
behind the locked cabinets.

Finding something I like and going back
a few days later to buy it (if it’s still there!).
I could spend all day just looking at things
and not having to buy anything.
Talking to the clerks at familiar stores,
looking at James Avery jewelry, especially the new items.

Running into friends from the past at Terra Toys or James Avery.
Most of the clerks know me from many years past.

Helen Altobello

Candy Kisses

My favorite treat was always chocolate. To be specific, candy kisses. Fast forward to when I was married, and my husband and I would leave a candy kiss for the other to say, “I love you.”

Years later, when Jenna was finally home from the hospital, she had a feeding tube for the longest time. We wanted to wean her off it, so, we first tried ice cream.

“Cold, scary,” she would say. We then tried a candy kiss to melt in her mouth. Remember, she didn’t understand chewing, since she always had the feeding tube.

The candy kisses were a hit! She would confiscate them from the big jar where we hid them. She would look around to see if she would get caught, and then stuff the chocolates into her Oshkosh overalls. Jenna would also hide them throughout the house for snacks later. Many years later, we would find the candy kisses stuck in the bookcase or in a jar. (Okay, I wasn’t the best housekeeper!)

Joyce Beversdorff

Daddy’s Tractor

This scene reminds me of my Daddy’s tractor. There are even pictures of me in diapers with my hands on the steering wheel as if I were driving it. I had eye surgery and was wearing an eye patch. I remember thinking I was sneaking this patch off and sticking it on my dad’s arm (like he wouldn’t know I had taken it off!)

I remember how hard the winters were on our crops. Summertime was our busy time on the farm. We farmed watermelons and all kinds of crops. My dad would work all day from early in the morning until almost night tilling the land. Such good memories of my dad before he got sicker and had to do just odd jobs. He was barrel-chested and had big muscled arms. I just always felt safe.

I remember once I got into a bunch of my mom’s sewing pins and had them in my mouth. My mom freaked out and ran into the field where my dad was on the tractor. He patiently picked them all out. Crisis averted!

I wish we had lived in such an area as pictured here.

Joyce Beversdorff

Life Preserver

I notice the life preserver that says, “Welcome Aboard” over the cross and under the netting, which encompasses a starfish. Jesus is my life preserver and He welcomed me back here after some time away from the Memory Connections program. A small thing, but it was nice to be welcomed aboard. May many people notice those words when they come into this room.

Suzette Dziuk

My Favorite Things

I like a fireplace with a fire roaring in it.
I like a baby to hold and cuddle and talk to.
I like books that make me feel involved.
I like God, who shares His presence with me
and makes me feel loved.

I like my children who are my family.
I like a piano that I can play and enjoy.
I like food when I am hungry—hot, nourishing food.
I like hot coffee when I get up in the morning.
I like friends to sit and talk with.

Suzette Dziuk

Bluebonnets

When I see bluebonnets growing in a field among rocks and other blooming plants, I see early Texas. I wonder what it was like years ago when the Indians lived upon the ground and my forbearers had not yet arrived.

I have studied history and know people think history is learned from books, but sometimes I can see Texas and feel an empathy with the Indians—whatever men, women, and children lived here decades or centurie, ago.

In this picture, bluebonnets are seen thriving among rocks and soil, and presumably creatures and earlier human beings. I see Texas before my family on my father’s side came to Texas after losing the Civil War, and, on my mother’s side, being taken on the ship and brought to the Texas shores.

Elizabeth C. Flynn

Miss Bessie

I spent a lot of time with my grandmother—Miss Bessie, they called her. My family was distressed when I was very young because of suicide, a heart attack, so I loved going up the street by myself to Miss Bessie’s fine house. I realize now that she had a place for everything. It was easy for a child to know what to get into and whatnotto touch.

There was a small flowered china bowl with a lid on it where I could always find gum, or sometimes hard candy. My grandmother and I would go outside and watch the sky, the sunset, the stars, which meant it was time to go. Now, I recall: “Star Light, Star Bright. I wish, I wish, I wish I might have the wish I wish tonight.”

Elizabeth C. Flynn

My Name

I was given the name Lawrence Sherman Graham in memory of my grandfather, Lawrence Yates Sherman. But I adapted it to Larry Graham to simplify and distinguish it from my grandfather’s, and from my father, Marion Webster Graham, and my mother, Mary Virginia Sherman. Throughout my life, I have preferred making it simply Larry Graham.

Larry Graham

Cornmeal Pancakes

My mother-in-law from Georgia made delicious homemade cornmeal pancakes. I liked them because they were more substantive, with a texture true to old Southern cooking. You could also add blueberries and other fruits to the pancakes. Served for breakfast in our small down of Daytona, Florida, and then in Texas where we now live. The pancakes made me happy!

But life changed when Caroline, my twelve-year-old granddaughter, passed away. Her family did everything possible, but her cancer was out of control. Caroline was a very creative child, dreaming up things all the time. Her parents eventually divorced after her death, and my daughter Lauren is now doing well. Our family stuck together—we have a lot of “get up and go.” Throughout the years, pancakes provided good ‘ol home-cooking stability.

Larry Graham

Fifteen-Minute Haiku

Red-orange tulips on
the bookmark remind me of
flowers seen in youth.

James Hadden

Favorite Foods

I have a constellation of favorite foods. Some of them come from early childhood, like the devil’s food cake, which is my father’s prescription with fourlayers! Christmas means donuts mixed and made the night before, deep-fried and covered with confectioner’s sugar or a cinnamon-and-sugar mixture.

I recall that I didn’t like fried oysters at first, despite my family’s move to a place on a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay when I was nine. I distinctly remember my youngest brother, at age three or so, saying, “Aunt Ada, I was oyster ‘weg.’” (Weg means leg, and they wereas big and fried as a chicken leg!)

James Hadden

Traveling Alone

I’m taking a wonderful trip in the snow,
and I am celebrating the incredible view I have.
Who would’ve thought I would travel
this far away on my own!
I’ve got enough food on my back
to let me travel for a week.
I can take big pictures of the park
or I can get real close up to a flower or a leaf.

But what I want the most—
to be brave or not scared,
to travel alone with just my company.

Pat Keen

Old Blue Jeans with Holes and Well-Worn Pockets

Old blue jeans with holes and well-worn pockets.
My jeans are done for, but
I will not give them up.
They are mine and I love their softness.

Why can’t I be happy
that I have all this wonderful stuff?
All the clothes, books, CDs—
why can’t I be happy?

So, I feel real sad about
being very old and alone?
I feel real sad and have lost
the ability to be old and productive.

I want to leave.
Why can’t I be happy and productive?

Pat Keen

Along the Coastlands

On the way to the coast, we drive through the lowlands with deep green and vibrant grasses growing straight and thick in the bluest of blue waters. Maybe this is a marshland, flat and stretching to small woods in the background. The sky is as blue as the water, but lighter near the horizon, bordered by the deep green trees in the distance.

As is common in the coastlands, there are heavy clouds in the sky, some white and puffy, and others puffy and gray. It looks like it could rain soon, as some of the clouds are dark at the flat bottoms. I imagine a shower could start at any moment and send us to shelter. We park under the Spanish Oaks. Then we run and laugh as the rain begins to fall in heavy drops and soaks our clothes.

Rebecca Lowe

My Favorite Foods

Her cakes were legendary. I guess I took all those morsels of sweet for granted as my mother’s sweet tooth led her to bake delicious desserts very often. Maybe it was because I could have regular exposure to those goodies that I became a big fan of savory foods—a pot roast and its lovely carrots, potatoes and onions baked to perfection, soft with crispy edges. I craved tuna sandwiches made with kosher dills. I was a lucky and well-fed child.

Now, my favorite savory food is much easier to come by without having to spend the day in a hot kitchen. My food of choice is a Banh Mi sandwich. It probably became known in the U.S. by soldiers returning home from the Viet Nam War. It is a product of the French presence in that country—

French bread, pickled carrots and onions, sliced jalapenos, and a special mayonnaise. That, plus sliced meat or tofu, make a lovely explosion (think fireworks) of flavors.

I was in heaven when we discovered a French fusion place in Austin, Le Bleu, which serves a wonderful Banh Mi. For my birthday, we had sixteen people at the restaurant with us, all delighted by Banh Mi.

Rebecca Lowe

Life’s Path

I was a Catholic priest for a number of years—years as a parish priest, several as a student in graduate school. I eventually earned my doctorate in psychology, and worked as a priest psychologist. After some years, I decided to leave the active ministry and began to practice as a psychologist in the community. My decision to leave the priesthood was a major one—one that would affect my life in a major way.

After leaving the priesthood and practicing psychology in the community, I met a woman who I eventually married. We had one child. Later, I began to develop memory problems, and I attend this program, Memory Connections.

Ron McDermott

Pasta

It is a tradition. It makes you okay because it is always satisfying! I know when I have my pasta, whether it is five times a week or once a month, that it is the food of the family. It’s no different whether it is Sunday or Wednesday—it is tradition, a way of life. We are satisfied with our tradition no matter how or when pasta is served.

It may be a small amount because we have other items on the table, or pasta may be the main course. It is tradition, a family get-together, or a last-minute meal since you were out all day. Yes, I love roast beef, chicken, ice cream, leftovers, but I can always count on pasta to be my favorite food, another day for pasta. I can count on pasta! I might have potatoes, baked beans, or cake, but pasta delivers, no matter what other foods are on the table!

Nick Muto

Favorite Season

Early summer—brown, yellow, blue, pale green.
My favorite season is late summer, still hot,
but not scorching hot.
Its colors are brown and light brown.
I feel well, friendly, and looking forward to it.

Marge Philbrook

Spring

This picture reminds me of spring. The most beautiful part of this scene to me is the bird. It looks like it’s not too far off the ground and is closer to the ground, so it can eat something. I really enjoy watching birds, but, it can be hard sometimes because they fly away.

This bird looks like a mother, and I can imagine that her baby birds are somewhere nearby. This picture also reminds me of God’s power and how He made all the trees and birds on Earth.

Bobby Pruitt

My Dad

My dad, Robert Alan Pruitt, who recently passed, was a great Christian man, always laughing around with my mother, who is still alive. They had three kids—me and two daughters. If there was ever a person around who needed help, Christian or not, my dad was there for them. At his funeral, I sang “How Great God Is” with a friend.

Robert Alan Pruitt worked at a high school as an academic administrator for twenty-five years. From there, he traveled to China with my mom, who was also a teacher all those years. My dad had a great sense of humor. We loved to go fishing in the Gulf. The trees hung over our boat, and one time, a large eight-foot snake dropped into our boat and scared us! I shared many other stories about him at his service, such as when my dad helped me get my first job. Without him, I would have never achieved my electrical contractor’s career and the many successes that came with it, such as attending conferences across the country.

So many people showed up for Dad’s funeral services to show their respect. Remembering his grandkids around him is very special to me.

Bobby Pruitt

A Nature Scene

Straight trees
Lots of greenery
Big trees, fallen,
leaning against each other.
Big movement of water.
Cold—big time!

Water here and here,
warmer in the wooded area.
Wood and algae on the rocks.
I’ve lived in Austin, and,
there are lots of good trees.
The thing is—they are
also very beautiful.

The funky tree over here.
The water, the woods—
you don’t have to imagine.
It’s all here!

Dolores Rumpf

Favorite Food

When asked, “What is my favorite food?”
I reply, “My favorite food makes me feel good!”
“My favorite food makes me feel good!”

Dolores Rumpf

From Real to Magical

18 Nov

From the beginning, the writers in AGE of Central Texas’s Early Memory Loss program expressed a preference for writing nonfiction — “real” things as opposed to imagined ones. But what happened was arguably more magical — they described the natural world, beloved family members, memories with rich sensory detail and surprising metaphor. Several writers remarked they were better oral storytellers than writers, but I argue that the art of telling stories aloud comes through in the writing. The reader is able to feel the rhythm of traveling stars, imagine the sound and smell of the ocean, and turn with the spinning night sky above.

Claire Campbell
Badgerdog Teaching Artist

421045067_6cd8273c7a_z

Placing the Stars

The girl who arranged the paths of the stars. They seem to her a part of a giant merry-go-round or an endless turning wheel in the cosmos, as its timeless turning in the fullness of the firmament. Never stopping—turning, turning, turning round and round in the ceaseless spinning through the heavens.

Jack

18713198174_1c4ca102f1_z

Mother and Father

My father was always sleeping with a revolver pistol under his pillow in their bedroom. He never had to use it but he was prepared. I don’t need a pistol now that I feel safe where I am living!

My father and mother passed down the tradition of going to church to worship God and believing in Him, and his holy spirit has guided me in my life!

John Isom

16214166037_200c5964db_z

Whenever I

Whenever I
Walk by the sea
I think of the fish
See the waves
I hear the sounds of splashing
Remember the smell
The taste is spicy and salty
The waves are blue and black
The sound is loud and pounding.

Judy Rogers

8444952667_103ce07e13_z

Cosmos

The night enfolds us; we are captured by its light.
The stars above support us, looking for their light.
We find our strength in feeling nothing, a revolution
to require. But as the sun comes out to play,
we see our role in life
a beacon to be shouldered
when day returns to night.

Dirk Ourston

5999508108_e11aa8c682_z

The Night

The nighttime is beautiful, especially when the stars are also bright and charming. I love to look at them for a long time. Sometimes I look at them and I cry, not for pain, but with emotion.

Some of the stars move, almost as if they are traveling, and sometimes the stars stay in one place, like waiting for a partner to come and go.

Some of the stars move as if they are traveling from one place to another, and they move fast, like they are late for an appointment—perhaps for a meeting with another star?

Julie Grote

9623853565_237c32e6f9_z

Sky and Sea

The night sky has captured the attention of people and animals on the earth for as long as the universe has existed in its present form. It has been the source of poems, music, art, and inspiration forever. Now that scientific progress has made us able to get more information about the formation and some history changes in the stars, we are still far from understanding how the stars and galaxies were formed and what their future is. It will be an increasingly important subject of study (and inspiration) for humans forever.

The sea is very demanding and unforgiving. Yes, it can be comforting and pleasant but in an instant it can become very threatening and dangerous. In some areas it can be weather, in others it can be local things like creatures or physical effects like whirlpools.

Alan

Memories of Nature

16 Jun

Art and language go together like peas and carrots, peanut butter and jelly, shoes and socks. (Okay, maybe not shoes and socks.) But words can help us locate the images contained in our experience and memory. At the same time, visual art can inspire new turns of phrase, new insights, new ways of seeing. It makes sense, then, that we’ve developed a fruitful partnership with Mobile Art Project, which provides art workshops in nursing homes and elder care facilities. In our latest joint effort, we coupled our programs to work with a group of folks experiencing early memory loss. Our Badgerdog teaching artist Claire Campbell used nature poems to inspire memories of the outdoors. These written works became the basis for art activities led by Theresa Zelazny and her Mobile Art volunteers. We are excited to share these combinations of art and language with you. And we are especially grateful to AGE of Central Texas for inviting us to serve their clients. And to Mobile Art for the great work they do, and the work we do together.

Cecily Sailer
Library Foundation Programs Manager

Acrylic on canvas by Ed McQuillan

Acrylic on canvas by Ed McQuillan

Peter

Peter was… oops… is my friend. We share a love for the outdoors. We are both hunters and came to be friends through the women in our lives. He came to me through his sister, Sis. Me through my wife, Jean. The wives were friends and school classmates. Pete’s a big and husky redhead. Me? Not much can be said about a five-foot frame on a mature male. Pete and his sister, Sis, vacationed in Northeast Pennsylvania near the town of Milford on the Delaware River.

Ed McQuillan

Acrylic on canvas by Boyd Spencer

Acrylic on canvas by Boyd Spencer

Empire Bluff

The overlook of Lake Michigan and the Sleeping Bear Dunes are about four miles outside the village of Empire, Michigan. To reach the overlook, one must hike about a mile on a nature trail. Different types of trees can be seen at different levels of the walk. Birch trees are my favorite.

Boyd Spencer

Acrylic on canvas by Keith Peco

Acrylic on canvas by Keith Peco

She (Stephanie)

She is like a field of bluebonnets.
She is like a waterfall.
She is a diamond.
She is strong.
She is a winner.
She is my everything.

Keith Peco

Acrylic on wood by Kelly

Acrylic on wood by Kelly

Colorado River

A green stream flowing through a myriad
of physical conditions—some rushing, some calm.
It affords exciting fishing experiences,
from trout, carp, catfish, and bass.
All fun to catch and a tasty repast.
It is usually cold to our touch, but tasty to our mouths.
Rapidly flowing, it permits little stagnation or visible algae.

Kelly Meyer

Collage on mat board by Gary

Collage on mat board by Gary

My Garden

In my backyard, I have a swing with two seats. We sit together and watch the clouds blown by the wind. We look forward to rain filling the creek down the hill from our house. The rain runs down the stream that wanders about half a mile to Lake Travis, which is a dammed-up segment of a river that flows through Austin.

I grow individual flowers in pots that are arranged and rearranged monthly and watered daily. As they bloom, I can fill a dozen vases and carry them into our house.

Outside, along the creek, are tall trees that wave their limbs in the drifty winds.

Gary Cobb

Acrylic on canvas by Frank

Acrylic on canvas by Frank

My Dog

My dog is in our backyard. He likes living in the yard because he always runs around very excitedly. My dog is in the yard. He likes being in the yard because he always runs around and likes to roll in the grass and dirt. He flows about me, getting dirty; like me, too!

Frank Leggio

Place Where I Enjoyed Nature

I grew up on a small farm east of Austin, near Manor. There were lots of pecan and oak trees. Beautiful smells, clean air, lots of vegetation, and cornfields. The sound of the open space, wild animals, quiet evenings. We had animals—horses, cows, etc.

Art Cunningham

Watercolor on paper by Karen Smith

Watercolor on paper by Karen Smith

Scene from a Calendar

Moss hanging from tree
Azaleas
Peaceful
Laying under the tree
Rolling in the dirt

Karen Smith

Watercolor on paper by Art Ulbrich

Watercolor on paper by Art Ulbrich

Black-Throated Green Warbler

Skinny legs
Yellow head
Black breast
The legs are so thin
How does it support itself?

Art Ulbrich

Acrylic on canvas by Bob

Acrylic on canvas by Bob

Sunflower

Soft petals in yellow
She loves me, she loves me not
As the petals are plucked

Bob Liebl

Acrylic on canvas by Fred

Acrylic on canvas by Fred Lucas

Beauty Undecided

A model “A” comes forth in a vision of strength.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Strength for evaluation.

Fred Lucas

Acrylic on canvas by Charles

Acrylic on canvas by Charles Walker

My First Snow

Whenever I see lightning, my mind drifts back to St. Louis. Snowflakes drifted outside my window. I was six years old and hadn’t seen snow before. The snow was drifting down, and I was so excited. When I awoke the next morning, the snow was still coming down. The drifts were so deep that I could burrow into the drifts and be completely covered.

The next day, the snow stopped coming down. As soon as I could go outside, I started leaping into the drifts. Unfortunately, the drifts also covered up the obstacles you could not see.

Charles Walker