Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cane Syrup and Crafters

My dad used to tell of taking ribbon cane to the mill to be squeezed for syrup.  Ribbon cane syrup was his favorite flavor, maple syrup just couldn't appeal to him.  He often told of walking to school carrying a syrup can holding his lunch of biscuits and sausage with syrup poured over it.  In his opinion, that was the best lunch a schoolboy could have.

When we learned that the nearby town of Henderson, TX was hosting it's annual Cane Syrup Festival, it was an irristable draw.  Last Saturday morning the air was crisp and cool, definitely Fall had arrived in northeast Texas.  As we traveled through the forests we saw many colors of leaves against the deep green pines.  I wish our little point-and-shoot camera could give a good photo of how wonderful the colors are.

The first thing we saw when we arrived at the festival on the Old Depot grounds was the cane mill and syrup cooker.
Cane is fed into the mill which is turned by a mule walking around the corral.  This mill is set up with a barrel to collect the juice which is piped over to the cooker.

A large shallow pan heated by burning the squeezed cane cooks the moisture out of the juice until it is syrup consistency.  It runs down into the barrel in the center of the photo.  I saw syrup being drained into jars from the barrel.
The syrup made there could not legally be sold so they were selling syrup made by a business in nearby Rusk.  We bought a can, of course.  Served some with our toast for Sunday breakfast.  YUM!

There were many craft demonstrations and entertainment along with crafts offered for sale.  We didn't sit for the music shows but heard dulcimers and other music in the background.  We saw the old time print shop and the cotton gin that are part of the permanent display there.

Please visit my photo album to share some of the fun going on.  Sugar Cane Syrup Festival

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Genealogy Discoveries

Genealogy searching turns up some interesting connections.  Ron’s third cousin through his Nixon grandmother was a Texas singing sensation.  No wonder there are many members of his family who are very musically talented.

John Winton Pickering was born in Murchison, TX to professional singing parents. John became a professional radio singer at the age of five. His parents devised a means for John and Bill to reach the microphone by standing on apple crates. They started on radio at Tyler, TX and from there to various radio and T.V. stations throughout the great Southwest. The Pickering Family Quartet performed gospel, country, western, comic and popular songs together for fifteen years, until the death of Pop Pickering in 1953. The family appeared on a daily-30 minute radio show on KTRH in Houston for 2 years. In that time, they made stage appearances with the Statesmen Quartet, Blackwood Brothers, Hank Locklin, Hank Thompson, Curly Fox, TX Ruby, and many more.

After Pop's death in Lubbock, TX, John and Bill continued singing with various vocal groups, including the late recording star Buddy Holly. They were the "voices of the Crickets" on 9 of the first 12 Cricket songs on "The Chirping Crickets" LP - the only group-sound album released while Buddy Holly was alive. These songs were recently nominated for a Grammy for Best Historical Album at the 53rd Grammy awards.

In 1969 the Pickering Brothers recorded in Nashville on Stop Records with the first country version of "Proud Mary" and other releases including ones with Daffan Records and Stoneway Records of Houston. They had 8 national releases.

In 1984, The Picks, (John and Bill Pickering and Bob Lapham) overdubbed additional recorded Buddy Holly solos that have been released worldwide and are found on their website,
John recorded 4 gospel albums, most of them his original songs. John served as a Deacon, Bible Teacher, Soloist and Sunday School Music Director at Houston's First Baptist Church and at several churches in Corpus Christi, TX. John and accompanist Vicky performed at many churches and secular programs.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Stop and Smell the Roses

Once again I have been derelict in posting to this blog.  We have traveled many miles and explored interesting places.  Currently we are enjoying the early Fall weather and sights of northeast Texas.  We are based in Tyler just in time for all the Rose Festival month activities.

The Tyler Rose Garden is spread over 22 acres with some grassy areas, fountains and lots of trees.  We have made two visits to the garden and walked a variety of paths and explored much of the garden.  The array of colors and scents is intoxicating.  There aren't just roses planted there but the numerous varieties of roses alone are stunning.  We enjoy sitting by one of the koy ponds with a cute fountain just soaking up the serenity and calm.

Some photos of roses are in the Tyler Rose Garden album.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Chaco Canyon NHP

Yesterday we went northwest to the historical center of Pueblo and Navajo Indian culture, Chaco Canyon.  The Puebloan Indians lived there from AD 850 to 1250.  It is awesome to see the partial structures that remain and imagine the work it took to carry thousands of small stones and larger rocks, stack them in straight lines or graceful curves.

This area of New Mexico was actually an urban center for ceremony and trade in the prehistoric Four Corners area.  There is architecture that is different from earlier area buildings and engineering projects.  They used astronomy, possibly for both religious and agricultural purposes.  The people developed dry land farming in the canyon.

We only toured a few of the pueblos there, some are too far for my hiking abilities for a one-day trip and the sun was heating up the canyon although the wind remained comfortably cool.  Of course the camera battery died on the first photo but we got a few photos with my iPhone and Ron's iPad. 
Fajada Butte, our first sight of Chaco Canyon

The building walls are about 18" thick and had straight corners
Lots of small, flat rocks form the walls
Ron admiring the straight walls and square corners
One of the large Kivas
Another view of the large Kiva.  See the small stairway to get down into it?
Part of the Elk herd that now inhabits the canyon
The photos are just a sampling of what you see below the towering rock walls of the canyon with the arroyo cutting deeply through the middle of it.  It is definitely worth the 20+ miles of gravel road to drive to this window of the past.

Friday, March 30, 2012

East Texas Color

We have been enjoying our month in the Longview area.  Spring has arrived in March with lush green grasses, trees leafing out and all the colorful blooms are everywhere.  We didn't catch many dogwood trees blooming but saw a few.  Lots of other flowering trees & shrubs but so many in the forests were spotted along highways that had no place to stop for photos.

The azaleas are blooming in every color and shade in yards all over Longview and Kilgore.  They are a feast for the eyes.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Galveston Mardi Gras Parades

One of the perks of staying in Dickinson, TX in February is the nearby Galveston fun.  We have enjoyed so many outings to Galveston but their photos are for another post.  This one is of the 2/11/12 Mardi Gras Parades.  Knitting friend Billie Rae invited us to attend the noon Seawall parade with her family so we had a great location near 39th street with nearby parking.  By nearby I mean just a block or so away.  The sun was shining brightly but the temperature was cool and the wind was cold.  This was heavy coat & ears covered weather. 

Between grabbing bead necklaces thrown from the floats I snapped a few photos of the floats.  Ron was able to get even more beads for me..

Ron and I went to the evening Seawall parade and the lights on the foats were great but they sure didn't photograph well.  We grabbed even more beads.  We had such fun visiting with other parade goers and watching people that it was almost as much fun as watching the bands strut and the floats.  Here is a photo of my two-parade haul of beads.  Lots of bling!