Origin of the Column Title
The Williamson County Sun is a bi-weekly newspaper based in Georgetown, Texas, founded in 1877, having continually publication for 130 years. Its focus has historically been on the news relating to Georgetown and the surrounding area in Williamson County. At loose ends after the kids were grown and feeling the “empty nest” thing, I answered an ad for a stringer for the paper in the Florence/Andice area. Florence and Andice are small towns in the extreme North-Western portion of the county, and the editor wanted some representation of their activities in his paper. While I had never aspired to anything remotely resembling journalism, lacking the assertiveness required of a reporter gathering news, being a stringer and reporting events and activities associated with people I knew or knew of seemed doable to me, and I applied for and got the job. I have always had the sneaking suspicion that when the editor checked his mailbox, mine was the only application he found there, but I never brought the subject up. He and I reached an amicable understanding about the kind and sources of news that would be included in the column and off I went.
For years the column consisted mainly of the names of the kids making the honor role, the activities of the schools, the very active library group, the Art Guild, Florence Friendship Days, the Christmas Parade and Santa holding forth at the local firehouse afterwards, various chili suppers and fish frys and pancake breakfasts held by local service groups, and the activities of a few clubs in town, basically just the local community comings and goings. Some weeks there were less comings and goings than other weeks, pretty regularly, in fact, and on those short weeks I would fill in the inches with some happenings on or about the farm or the area that were certainly not news.
Periodically such inclusions would elicit a call about the need for more of a news flavor; I would offer a reminder that I was not a news reporter. By now I had two small boys in tow and I didn’t feel I could cover “breaking news” like the helicopter crash in someone’s pasture. Granted, there weren’t many of those, but I was busy being Gigi and confined my “reporting” to tamer topics of less urgency.
There were a couple more that had similar views; I learned that editors are apparently in a constant state of flux, moving from place to place like literary gypsies, searching for what I cannot say. Each one brings his/her own style and preferences and the people who write for them adjust - or not. One editor in particular I recall was the most delightful fellow, very laid back and friendly, with more common sense than the law usually allows. He wasn’t there long before, tragically, he was diagnosed at a very young age with a debilitating and progressive disease and had to leave, but he is fondly remembered. Shortly after him, young women, Amy Burroughs, assumed the editors position. Up to now, my editors had all been men, and I found her approach very different and easy to work with. After a few months in the position, she called me and asked, “would you like to change the focus of your column to that of a life on the farm” piece?” To my delight, she saw some promise in the style of writing that I was more comfortable with and enjoyed doing. There needed to be a new title of the column, and instantly I thought of “Eggs In My Pocket.” Amy liked the name, and that replaced “Florence/Andice News” as the name of the column.
Much to my delight and that of the editor, suddenly people began reading the column and liked what they read. The material was much the same kind of writing that had preceded the name change but the audience it attracted was very different. People other than those wanting to see their children’s names in the paper suddenly began reading the column and found something in it they could relate to.
Amy was replaced by Rebecca Robbins, who also appreciated and supported the column, which added to my confidence. Both Amy and Rebecca have moved on and I am now working with Ben Trollinger, the third editor since the beginning of the “new” column.
In the early days, I sometimes would skip sending in a weekly column when there was just nothing doing anywhere. It was acceptable to the paper, and no one ever seemed to notice. Now, if the column is missing, the paper gets calls from readers who wonder what happened and whether I’m not going to be there any more. In fact, the following is a recent quote from Ben the present editor, who is a gem to work with, sent to alert me of a holiday schedule which changed the submission deadlines: “Our print deadline has been pushed up considerably. The sooner the column comes in, the better. If it arrives on Thursday evening I won’t be able to include it. Hordes with pitchforks and torches will surely surround my little house on Main street if that happens.”
Additionally, most every outing to a restaurant or the grocery store results in an approach by someone who enquires hesitantly, “Aren’t you the lady that writes….” I admit to being pretty tickled about it all. What a delight! It’s something I never expected, that so many people would enjoy what I write and have the courage to say so in some small way. In the course of many of these contacts, I’ve been asked whether the columns are being put in book form. Largely because of those expressed interests, we are publishing the first small collection of columns, choosing some of the expressed favorites of readers and some never published before.
That original editor moved to greener pastures and I inherited a more relaxed editor who basically tolerated my non-news material that filled the inches.
Different Editors Have Different Views
Who Are the Players
In the beginning, when speaking of members of my family in the column, I was reluctant to use names. As a result, our two grandsons were simply referred to as Grandson One and Grandson Two. Apparently readers’ interest was piqued, because family members were often questioned as to which kid was which. Now you will be properly introduced. Grandson One, Timothy John, is the one in the middle . He was born on October 30, 1995. Grandson Two, John David, is the one on the left; he was born November 1, 1995, a day later than number One. Timothy is our son’s son; JD is our daughter’s.
The beautiful one of the group has always been identified in the column as Sara. Her full name is Sara Elizabeth. She joined our merry group at the ripe old age of 8 months, having been born in Hunan Province, China. Our daughter and son-in-law adopted her at the age of 3 months; it involved a trip to China to bring her to the states when she was 8 months. She is all Texan, absolutely gorgeous, with a wit about her that is just amazing.
Papa is this portly fellow who keeps things running here on the farm, up to and including me. He is the pusher, the driver, the doer of the group. He and the cows and his current bull, known as Junior, have a pretty cool relationship. We have bred these animals for a favorable disposition and have had great success as you can see.
Yours truly, the one who has and shares the opinions, observations, condemnations and other words that convey my thoughts on to you, is pictured here with one of the two parrots that habitat the place with us. This is Sweetie, the African Grey, and the loud mouth of the pair is the Double Yellow Head Amazon, Pogo. They are but two of my feathered friends that frequently show up in the columns. The geese, peacocks, guineas and, of course, the hens with their never ending fluffs in tow make up the rest.
There are myriad other animal friends who share my life. The Pushface Pack who inhabit the house; Georgy Girl and Caliente, the two 15 year old Bostons, Obi Wan, aka Attila the Pug, Rocky the rescue Shih Tzu and of course my darling, Tess the Frenchie. The Big Hairy Cowards who live mostly outside are another canine group, including Babe the Border Collie who works around here and Sis, the senior who doesn’t. Various cats wander the house; Quasar, the 17 year old black cat, always the perfect gentleman, Bijou, the small fluffy hellion who cares for nobody but me, Muggles, the ex-feral tabby with a persecution complex and Milo, the huge yellow bully who loves to make the rest of them fall off of perches screaming from his blitzkrieg attacks. I could go on…and on. It makes for an interesting life. At the very least, I’m never bored.
Outside there is a herd of dairy goats, a flock of geese, the guineas and peacocks and chickens, and two horses. And, of course, Papa’s cows.
And the Stories Come From Where?
Well, they come from everywhere; everyday there is an occasion that has the potential for a story. Here are but a few examples.
The three wheeler and the gate serve to illustrate the potential. Grandson One was riding his dad’s three wheeler around the pasture with Grandson Two close behind in a newly acquired go cart. The three wheeler would go much faster than the governed cart so #Two was most always behind except when he was about to be lapped. #1 has always been the one that would push the envelope. Everything for him has to be faster, newer, better than the competition. On a day preceding this picture, the three wheeler and #1 went through the gate, leaving it in broken pieces. Once we make certain the kid is okay, then comes the Lesson: when you tear it up you get to fix it. All four of the kids are in the act here, with the elder giving a bit of instruction. It was #1’s demolition but everybody involved gets in on the fixing. Story material - let me count the ways.
Gardens and the ever elusive Perfect Tomato comprise an endless array of story opportunities, ranging from the challenges of gardening in the endless heat and frequent drought of Central Texas to the fonder memories of “all the help” given in the planting and/or gathering of the produce. Sara loves to help plant and dig in the dirt; often in the early years her efforts sometimes hindered more than actually helping but I wouldn't have traded it for a landscaping company.
The animals are always an endless source of inspiration and provide a boundless pool of fresh material. In this photo #2 is being playfully “lipped” by Nickel. As you may surmise, these kind of encounters were carefully supervised when we knew about them. How many occurred without our knowledge might be frightening, so we just don't dwell on it. These encounters occurred about as often with the boys being the perpetrator. A classic example was the day the boys couldn’t get the lids off Papa’s paint cans so Mr. Ingenuity, aka #1, gets Papa’s cordless drill out of the forbidden shop, bores holes in the tops of the paint cans and the two cohorts proceed to pour red barn paint all over Bummer the Dalmatian. Fortunately for all involved, the paint was water based and Bummer, who has always lived up to his name, enjoyed the ensuing baths.
In the early years of Sara’s life here on the farm, she often found herself with me at the barn. One of those occasions was captured here. Even when she was far from being as tall as they were, she was totally confortable with the does. Here Troubles was in the milking parlor and Sara was “helping.”
Taken all together, they can be overwhelming responsibilities, but at the same time they are the realities of our lives. They keep me real and centered, amused and delighted, and on occasion make me incredibly sad. I cannot imagine my life without them. Most of them have shown up in the column at one time or another, since that’s basically what my life has been about; kids and animals. I could have done lots worse.