Etchings in the Sand…

Thoughts and Photos from the Desert…

Category Archives: Memories

Bean Snuggies…

Now, I’ve had quite a response to my recent post on my L.L. Bean slippers. (By “quite a response” I mean 3 notes and a long distance phone call from Kentucky – which for me is a record breaker.)

Anyway, more needs to be said. Wearing a pair of L.L. Bean slippers for 20 or so years and unashamedly wearing them “in public” is no disgrace. A badge of honor, I should think. Granted, they come to smell a bit and there are marks of distinguished aging, such as scuffs from rocks, stains from spilled liquids of different sorts and even a few neat little holes that developed when certain enthusiastic puppies were cutting their teeth across the years. Good memories!

These are things that can be easily dealt with if one’s spouse becomes unduly critical. A trip through the washer and dryer leaves them compromised, but now with marks of the aging process, proudly shared with all who would see. A few small strips of duct tape don’t do much for their appearance, but do cover up some of the rips, so offensive to some. I’ve noticed that during a rainstorm they keep your feet snug and dry. Mr Bean would be pleased.

At any rate, I want to assure those who do not understand the Bean mystique that they need to look closer at these noble objects that bring back so many wonderful memories. And to Sue Ann in Kentucky, I must say that Santa will NOT bring me 20 pairs of new slippers this Christmas. I don’t have that many readers…


Beans and Cornbread…

When I graduated from seminary, I was appointed founding pastor of a new church in northeast Oklahoma City. There were lots of people around, but no church. Six years later, when I moved to another church in New Mexico, it was a nice church that we left behind. St. Andrews United Methodist Church. It had been a wonderful time.

One of the strange things that emerged from our life together there was an annual beans and cornbread congregational dinner. It took me a long time to understand why folks would look forward to and so excitedly share a meal as humble as that. It gradually sunk into my yankee mind that the source was pure nostalgia. Oklahoma had been the center of the depression that plagued our land in the ’30s. Many of our church people were children of that catastrophe. They were reliving tragic moments from their history. But they did so with a deep memories and ironic joy. Parents, grandparents, neighbors and friends – many of them long gone –  had riden out those times with them. They remembered much that few would understand. Beans and cornbread.

Oddly, as the years have gone by, we have regularly celebrated good meals of beans and cornbread. Nostalgia, perhaps. History, yes. The basics, definitely. I cooked up a patch today. A sacramental visit to good times and fine people.

Here’s a memento:

Son of a Gun…

Our eldest son, Roger, retires from UCLA. There is so much to tell about Professor Bourland. I wont even begin to try. If you would really like to know, Google Roger Bourland. You will be surprised.

Anyway, this photo came down and I copied it. I liked the Harvard Doctoral gown which we gave him upon his graduation ages ago. But the thing that really surprised me was the grey hair. My little boy? Bozie Badger? Ding? All the funny memories of a life half-spent together. Oh my! Or as he used to say: “Lions and Tigers and bears! Oh my!”

See for yourself.

Old Fashioned Sights…

Something in us loves the unexpected sight of something out of the past. Especially when that something has a musky, familier smell, and a link to vaguely remembered things seen decades ago – related perhaps to folks we once knew and lost along the way.

Stacks of hay generally touch me in this way, though I just don’t see them much anymore.

Lamb for the Holidays…

As far back as I can remember, the Bourlands have made lamb a special treat at Eastertime. Long ago, and later, when our children were on board, Leg of Lamb was the special delight. On occasion, when in a weird mood, I would toss a few Lamb Shanks in the slow cooker and we would enjoy them. Yum!

Lately, with just the two of us, we have chosen especially delicious Lamb Patties, imported fresh by Butcher Bobs from Iowa. They are wrapped in bacon and I add some Santa Maria Seasoning and grill them in my little “Big Green Egg” in the back yard. A dab of mint jelly makes everything just right.

Here’s a little capture that catches the spirit of the whole thing.

Regarding Daughters…

As is so often the case, Garrison Keillor has some interesting poetic insights into the strange world of bringing up daughters. If this triggers a response, read on…

Prayer for Our Daughters
by Mark Jarman
May they never be lonely at parties

Or wait for mail from people they haven’t written

Or still in middle age ask God for favors

Or forbid their children things they were never forbidden.

May hatred be like a habit they never developed

And can’t see the point of, like gambling or heavy drinking.

If they forget themselves, may it be in music

Or the kind of prayer that makes a garden of thinking.

May they enter the coming century

Like swans under a bridge into enchantment

And take with them enough of this century

To assure their grandchildren it really happened.

May they find a place to love, without nostalgia

For some place else that they can never go back to.

And may they find themselves, as we have found them,

Complete at each stage of their lives, each part they add to.

May they be themselves, long after we’ve stopped watching.

May they return from every kind of suffering

(Except the last, which doesn’t bear repeating)

And be themselves again, both blessed and blessing.


“Prayer for Our Daughters” by Mark Jarman, from Bone Fires: New and Selected Poems. © Sarabande Books, 2011. Reprinted with permission.


There’s so much here that bears serious reflection – and perhaps a few salty tears. So much wisdom, unanticipated but appreciated and stretching at the same time.