We planted three Mexican Butterfly Weed plants in the backyard and babied and watered them through the hot dry summer. This week we saw our first Monarch butterfly visit. I hope we have more stop by on their journey south to Mexico this fall and again in the spring when they head north.
Portland, Texas is not funky, cool or artsy like Port Aransas or even Rockport; it used to be a quiet bedroom community to Corpus Christi where many of us commuted ten miles to work there. Community life revolved around schools, sports and churches. The few small restaurants could not sell alcoholic drinks, and if you wanted to buy liquor, you had to make a run to Jessie’s Liquor in Gregory, a tiny town five miles away. There was no public art.
Today industries,some international, have taken advantage of our location on the Gulf of Mexico and our connections to the Port of Corpus Christi. Industries brought jobs and growth. Chain restaurants have opened and one can enjoy an alcoholic drink with dinner and purchase liquor at one of three liquor stores. With good schools it is still a good place to raise a family. There is still no public art other than a memorial tribute to the military and veterans at city hall.
When an art gallery that serves lunch opened up recently, I persuaded Husband to check it out with me. I keep telling him we need more art in Portland.
La Cueva (the cave in Spanish) is owned and run by Gilbert Cuevas, who is also the artist in residence. He moved to Portland from San Antonio after a successful career in graphic advertising. Growing up in the west side in the barrios, he painted what he saw around him.
The ambiance of La Cueva is unexpected for Portland: intimate dining area, dark wood, tall columns, small bar, sophisticated, elegant yet relaxed and casually classy. His paintings – for sale – are displayed gallery style. A curved staircase leads to more art upstairs. The facility is available for private events. The menu offered salads and sandwiches; wine was available. We had The Cubano – deliciosa!
For a look at some of the art of Gilbert Cuevas and his art, go to La Cueva Art Gallary.
Reproductions of some of his original art was available in postcard form. Here is one of several I purchased to share.
Husband taking photo of yard sign he put inside the window of our front bedroom that serves as his office also.
I AM HAVING TROUBLE LIKING AND COMMENTING ON BLOGS!!!! IT SEEMS RANDOM AS SOMETIMES I CAN LIKE AND COMMENT AND SOMETIMES I CAN’T. I NORMALLY LIKE AND /OR COMMENT, BUT DON’T ALWAYS GO BACK TO SEE If THEY APPEARED, JUST TOOK IT FOR GRANTED. SO FAR I AM WORKING WITH WORD PRESS BUT THEY WANT MORE INFORMATION.
FORTUNATELY, I HAVE NO PROBLEM LIKING COMMENTS AND COMMENTING ON MY OWN POSTS. I WANT MORE THAN THAT. IT IS FRUSTRATING! HAS ANYONE HAD SIMILAR PROBLEM? AT THIS POINT I HAVE LITTLE PATIENCE!!!!!!
The Old Farmer’s Almanac tells me Dog Days are between July 3 and August 11 as those are normally the hottest days of summer. This year it was hard to tell one hot day from another as the weather week after week was HOT, HOT and more HOT and not even a tropical storm to bring some rain.
We are in Stage I water restrictions that means no watering with sprinklers except on trash day once a week and other limited use of water. Our lawn is brown but we weren’t watering before the restrictions.
I remember the drought during the 1950s when my father, a rancher in South Texas, considered contributing money to seed clouds if praying for rain didn’t work. My mother discouraged that idea and kept praying. Let us hope that it does not take a hurricane to bring rain and get some water into our watershed.
Until then I will keep toasting Chac,the Mayan Rain God.
I greet this morning of sunshine with open eyes
I see the flowers that greet the sun
I hear the birds call to each other from tree to tree
I sense the trees greeting the sun with me
I ask that today bring gladness and gifts
This summer solstice
Warmth of sun
Clearness of air
Happiness of birds
Purity of flowers
Greeness of plants
Prisms in water
Clarity of sight
Patience of growth
Blessings of the long day
May the gifts of this day surround me and all I love
From morning’s first light
Through the shortness of night.
TROY E. KEITH
PFC 311 INF 78 DIV
MARCH 25 1926 APRIL 12 1945
Troy Elijah Keith was killed in Voilersheim, Germany at 19 years old. He was my first cousin on my father’s side of the family. His mother died a few days after he was born. I was too young to have remembered seeing him, but I do remember being there with my family when his body was brought back from Europe after the war. His body arrived on a train and was given a military burial at Cleveland Memorial Cemetery in Cleveland, Texas, a small town north of Houston. I have not been able to find a photograph of him.
Today I am interviewing Loren Rhoads, editor of the first Death’s Garden and author of 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die and Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. She has put together a second edition titled Death’s Garden Revisited, a collection of new essays by over 40 authors who share their personal relationships and experiences with cemeteries. The book went live on Kickstarter March 17. FULL DISCLOSURE: I am excited to have an essay included in this book!
Welcome, Loren! For those who are not familiar with Kickstarter, please explain what it is and how it works for Death’s Garden Revisited.
Kickstarter is a website where creators, including small presses, can raise funding for a project before it’s created. In this case, Automatism Press had the money to publish Death’s Garden Revisited as an oversized paperback with black and white photographs, but I wanted to produce a full-color hardcover book. I hoped to raise enough money for that by taking preorders for the book through the Kickstarter campaign.
As it turned out, Death’s Garden Revisited sold enough copies on its first day to make the transition to full-color.
Have you ever used it before for a book or a project? And why did you choose it this time?
I’ve helped to fund a lot of projects on Kickstarter before: story anthologies, history books, comic books, new magazines (several of which I later went on to write for), even a couple of cemetery history books.
I’ve never tried to raise money for a project of my own that way before, but it turns out I know a whole lot of people who have. They gave me great advice.
I chose Kickstarter this time because I hoped to build some excitement for Death’s Garden Revisited before it comes out in October. With the help of everyone who has preordered, Automatism Press can afford to make the book I really want to make.
How long have you seen writing about cemeteries and how did you get started?
Oh, my goodness, a long time! I edited the first Death’s Garden book – Death’s Garden: Relationships with Cemeteries – in the early Nineties That book started when a friend who was dying gave me a box of photographs he’d taken in cemeteries as he traveled. Before that, it hadn’t ever occurred to me that people would want to visit cemeteries on vacation. Blair inspired me to seek out cemeteries myself, which led me to writing a monthly column for several years about traveling to visit cemeteries. I gathered those columns in my first cemetery book, Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel.
Death’s Garden Revisited will be my fourth cemetery book. The fifth one – Still Wish You Were Here – is going out as a bonus to people who preorder Death’s Garden Revisited.
Tell me about some of the backgrounds of some of the contributors. Do they write mainly about cemeteries or do they write in other genres?
There is such a wonderful variety of them! Carol Tyrrell, Joanne Austin, and Rachelle Meilleur all write cemetery blogs. Sharon Pajka just published a wonderful book called Women Writers Buried in Virginia. M. Parfitt worked as cemetery tour guide. Paul Stansfield is a contract archaeologist who has helped to move several cemeteries.
Other contributors are historians and travel writers. Erika Mailman has written a novel about Lizzie Borden. Anne Born has written about walking the Camino de Santiago. Trilby Plants has written thrillers and children’s books. Rain Graves taught tango in Argentina. A bunch of the contributors are horror writers.
When is the book coming out? In what form? And where will be available?
Death’s Garden Revisited will be out in October 2022. It will be available in hardcover, an 8 x 10-inch paperback and e-book. I know it will be available on Amazon, but I’m still working out the distribution everywhere else. The complication is that I’m not working with my regular printer this time, because of the color photos.
People can bypass all that by preordering their own copy on Kickstarter now. Then the book will magically appear in the mail in October!
Thank you, Loren! Here is the link – check it out. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/lorenrhoads/deaths-garden-revisited-relationships-with-cemeteries The campaign ends April 16.