Of These My Children: The Yellow Rose of Taxes

When I hear the question “What do teachers make?” I am reminded of over four decades of teaching. I made memories with our future world–our children.

One week each student did a report on a state of their choice. This gal even brought a yellow rose to hold while she told us all about living in the state of Taxes. Her report was wonderful but her spelling wasn’t perfect.

Another week the students were supposed to find an older adult to interview. One guy went home and asked his dad to help him and his dad responded, “But I don’t work in oil and gas. Maybe we could drive up to see Grandpa this weekend.” It seems the eager young man had asked his dad to help him with oil history. The next day I reinforced what Oral History meant. But his dad had promised a trip, so the grandpa got interviewed anyway!

As part of citizenship training I try to expose the students to several patriotic songs. When the National Anthem started playing an excited student yelled out, “Oh, that’s the basketball song. They play it at the start of the game!”  

Another day in Music we listened to Pachebel’s Canon. A boy protested, “Doesn’t sound like a Rocket Bell to me!”

Since I’ve emphasized the importance of hand washing I sometimes get a response when a child returns from the restroom. One little gal confided, “I guess I used too much water ’cause it almost overfloated!” We discussed how she might adjust it next time to avoid causing the water to overflow.

Language class presents special challenges. We had a lesson on the stronger emphasis given a certain part of a word. One boy told us, “I see, it says right here in the book, the accidented syllable.”  It was no accident that we had a review of accents the next day!

Lunch and Recess are the seasonings that make the days go by faster. In fact, one boy even confided to his mom, “You know some days I don’t even mind coming to school.” Yup, I took that as a fine compliment!

We all enjoy lunch under the trees in the side yard. Some kids eat on the Chocolate Porch and others sit at picnic tables. One kid said his dad got a new TV that was so complicated he had to have a personal complication to set it up. It took a while to convince him that a consultation could help make it easier, not more complicated!

But there are those moments even during play time. One girl rushed up to me and said, “He called me shellfish just because I wanted another turn.” I consoled her by saying I knew she wasn’t selfish since I saw her share just that morning. But since they knew there was a time limit on recess, they went on back to their game.

It’s always an adventure when we learn about other places around the world. One young scholar said, “I bet you don’t know what language they speak in Portugal?”  An answer came quickly, “Pekingese?”  We were informed that only dogs speak that before I could clarify they speak Portuguese in Portugal.

Sometimes we read a story toward the end of the day. Make Way for Ducklings  seemed like a good choice. When it mentioned Beacon Hill in Boston one little fellow asked, “Do baby ducks like bacon?”  I decided it was time to make a picture of a hill, adding a sign identifying the town Boston, and oh yes, a family of ducks.

As the cars were coming to take students home one kid told me his mom would be late so he would like to “use the hearphones” while she was waiting. I just handed him the headphones and said no more.

I was through teaching for the day. The kids had learned a lot, and so had I. My student may live in the State of Taxes but now that I have my snack I’m living in a state of grace!  

Copyright 2018 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.



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Fall in the Forest

It is fall in the forest, but spring in my heart
As I smell the air I live without a care!

I tromp in the leaves, and romp as I please.

It is fall in the forest.
Autumn colors my heart.

Copyright 2009 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.

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More Rayford Road Stories: Facing the Gun–Twice!

I always loved the wilder part of Rayford Road. So on my way home from Spring School District I usually went “the back way.”

As I drove along Wiley Fuzzel immersed in my private enjoyment of the deep pine forest of the backroads, I came to the corner turning onto Rayford Road.

As I slowed and made the left turn my electrified mind couldn’t grasp what was happening! At first I could only see a man whirl around to face me and the handgun clearly pointed at me. (Later I realized I must have surprised him as much as he shocked me.

I reacted as I’ve always done when students tried to shock me, keeping a straight face and playing like I hadn’t actually seen it. I had myself on automatic brave, uh, and unseeing eyes as I kept driving by.

My 60s era VW bus had a good rearview mirror. So I kept a steady pace, all the while trying to get his license plate just in case. I did get a partial…

Like many of life’s little dramas, there was no clear ending or resolution to this mystery. But for some reason I avoided going the back way for a few weeks tillI could push it to the back of my mind. Of course, there was no 911 or cell phones back then and the county sheriff was probably occupied.

My theories included a poacher, hunting illegally, or a guy out practicing in the woods. I didn’t let myself even entertain the thought of things only a crime detective should speak of.

Up Close and Personal Gun in the Blackberry Field

We loved living in the deep dark piney woods north of Houston. Our house got dark about 30 minutes before the rest of the subdivision since we were surrounded on four sides by forest. We didn’t know who owned the land around us, but in the several years we’d been there no one had ever come around. Having seen blackberries on a walk in the woods, I decided to go picking one Saturday.

I was enjoying the quiet of the trees when I heard a rustling sound. As I turned I found a gun in my face. At first I couldn’t process what was happening. Then I realized the man was yelling angrily at me, shouting that he was the owner and I wasn’t allowed there to pick berries! Once I understood he was griping about my picking blackberries, I offered to fix him a pie, clarifying I didn’t know it was his berry patch.

He was having NONE of it. He gestured with his gun, telling me to move on and never come back. We lived there a number of years, but I just watched the berries rot on the vine and never ventured out there again.

For some reason my face breaks out in fear when a gun is pointed at it.

Living by Rayford Road brought my family many joys, but some adventures I could do without.

Copyright 2018 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.

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Tribute to a Worthwhile Man: Robert Danzig, Executive, Speaker, Writer and Friend

To Family and Friends of Bob Danzig,

We all wanted to let the family know how much Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Boca Raton folks, especially The Forum, loved our dear friend Bob.

You may already know how kindly he often spoke of his fine adult children, expressing deep love and admiration for each of you. And when he mentioned his wife Diane his voice always softened with “My dear Diane” conveying how significantly she had decorated his life.

His presence radiated calmness and kindness to our group as we discussed issues in our lives. Early on Bob likened the group to Daemon Runyon gatherings. He relished the variety of people and loved that we had grown to become a supportive community even though we had vast differences in backgrounds and opinions.

He brought both caring and humor to us, and made our life journeys seem somehow more holy, more vibrant, and more honorable.

For me personally, he encouraged me in my almost impossible task of caregiving my husband. Bob also repeatedly took time to comment on my writing and emailed positive comments which helped validate me in continuing my passion of writing through it all.

Our hearts are broken, yet we know that we will carry his memory and continue to honor his spirit in our hearts. It can never fade as it stands as inspiration and hope to keep trying–no matter what life may throw at us.

Bob Danzig will always be with us as we travel through life, echoing humor, hope and perspectives of wisdom. I am humbled and thankful to be called his friend.

Hildra Tague



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More Rayford Road Stories: Flood Waters Comin’ At Us

One summer day my sons and I decided to go to the store. Back then, the nearest one was several freeway exits away.

We piled into our Ford truck and at Rayford Road headed west toward the highway. Before long, we began to see water in the road. As it kept rising, I realized I could not go on. So I used the old saying, “Turn around, don’t drown.”

No problem. We liked taking the “back way” through the piney woods. So we headed east, passing Wing’s Grocery and headed into the deep forest (before either the Fox Run or Imperial Oaks subdivisions had even been thought of!)

Since we’d had several days of rain I wasn’t surprised to see puddles here and there–even some large areas of water.

Then I turned back westward onto Wiley-Fuzzeland noticed even more water. But since the road was clear I drove on.

My eyes blinked. I couldn’t actually believe what I saw! Slowing down, I scanned the landscape and saw nothing but water.  It was impossible to see the road or ANY landmarks as it all was submerged in running water.

My brain just couldn’t take it all in. I knew we must be almost up to Spring Creek, yet all I could see was that huge body of moving water.

At last I spotted some landmarks that told me we were not far from the creek. It was at that moment that we were just feet from an angry flooded road. I knew all was dangerous confusion and fast-traveling water from that point on.

I realized the fast current was a trip-stopper for sure. It was time to back up. As I carefully backed I looked at the countryside filled with flood waters as far as the eye could see. It seemed a good day to have some popcorn and stay home.

Later I learned how much power rushing water can have and I was indeed thankful I turned around and headed back on Rayford Road to our home.

I lived in that part of the Spring, Texas area for about 40 years but never saw anything quite like that.

There eventually came another plague of too much water with the Great Flood of ’94 then the fire ants and snakes hovered on the edge of the water on my road. But that’s another story!

Copyright 2018 by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.


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How We Found our Home in Spring, Texas

When we relocated from Oklahoma to Texas we rented an apartment for the summer to give us time to find a house.

I was determined to be far away from any possible hurricane danger, so I preferred far north of Houston in the piney woods. I would bundle up my two boys and set out driving to explore places of interest.

I liked the natural setting of Spring, Texas, so I decided to check it out. I took an exit off the highway and seemed to reach the end of the spot a Dairy Queen.

We enjoyed our snack and then I ventured to ask the manager could retell me where Spring, was–clarifying I had driven all around and reached a dead end. He asked me if I had gone east of I-45. I nodded. He asked me if I saw a filling station. Still nodding. Did I see a boy and a dog? I said yes.

He then exclaimed, “Lady, you done seen Spring!”

Later I found the old timers, although welcoming the jobs Dairy Queen brought, weren’t too eager for newcomers to move in. In fact, for many years there was animosity for those “South County folks.”

Not to be discouraged, I got back in the car and ket exploring through deep forest till I found a little subdivision I loved. We won a bidding war with another purchaser by a mere $100. and enjoyed the place with forest on four sides for many years.

I’ve since learned that when a man starts a sentence with “Lady…” it might be time to stand firm as that sometimes was code for an agenda which would not be in my favor.



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I Used to Cook Book — Quotes and Quips


I was never a great cook, but I did cook on a regular basis. Proof that I used to cook came when my sons would call and ask me for a recipe. Since I was a budding cook I’ve seen teflon, roasters, slow cookers, electric skillets, and the advent of microwaves. (Kenneth saw that we got one of them!)

Much has changed since I used to cook.

The history of our lives finds its way into our stomachs. I told my sons, “I’m not sure you remember I used to cook. Here’s hoping this spurs some positive memories of cozy times we had as you boys were growing up.”

The kitchen is a fine place to make memories and have a multi sensory experience of togetherness and savory scents. I reminded my sons that society is slowly but surely improving its diet choices. When I was young, food for social occasions meant home-baked and sweet the former of which was fine.

I always thought wearing a fancy apron and humming knowingly helps the flavors along.

But the last few decades have seen me and others emphasizing serving real food at social occasions as opposed to junk–because I indeed believe “You live in your body.” Even my school set a record for serving healthy but tasty food at parties, thus there is less getting wild, sick or sleepy afterwards, and a good time can be had by all–even our bodies.

Finger Foods and Snackin’ Moods

Call them hors’doeurves when you’re all dressed up. Party it up with sausage balls, crab dip (made with carp!), eggs devilled or as egg salad, pea salad or even a baked snazzy dip for royalty with sour creme, creme cheese, and buttered pecans for topping.

Stuffing Ourselves

First you stuff them (poultry, peppers, mushrooms, etc.) Then you bake and stuff yourselves.


This is the real reason for kitchens.

Meatloaf or meatballs could make a meal magnificent and magical. They made good sandwiches later. I used lots of hamburger meat, for more than just hamburgers, and before Hamburger Helper. Unhelped, they were quite tasty.

One summer we found a lasagna recipe in the newspaper. Jeff latched onto it and became a champion lasagna chef. We all pitched in to help eat it, though.

Skillet suppers helped used leftover stuff in the fridge. We joined a vegetable coop so often had extras at the end of the week which fit well into a skillet. Good with hot bread and hunger.

Chicken fried steak was a Texas tradition, but ours was often made with deer or elk. I always had to make enough so some would be left for supper after everyone would sneak a piece before we sat down to eat. Fix a gravy similar to what you make at Thanksgiving. Jeff has become an excellent gravy cook.

Hillbilly Chile   

Stew meat, chopped beef, venison, or whatever Lady Luck (or a hunter) brings home.  Use chile mix and destroy the evidence! Serve beans separately so Kenneth won’t have to eat them. Then feed the crowd before they are madding.

Hint: Most meals are better with mushrooms and sautéed onions added…

Days of Quiche and Slimmer Poses (to the tune of Days of Wine and Roses): Sing or hum while fixing, and smile and strike a proud pose while eating.

Breakfasts and Brunch

Ask your clock to know the difference between the two. (I always had a hard time with this one. After I found I had low blood sugar I learned to snack before cooking in early mornings.)

When we had company to spend the night, breakfast was always a joyous budget. I love to fix bacon, sausage, fruit, cooked cereal, eggs, etc, then spend an hour or more with company grazing and sipping coffee while catching up on each other’s lives. (Sometimes the sausage was homemade, pushing it into a Pringles can to form the shape.)

Family breakfasts were especially enjoyed when potatoes were included. Fried well-browned potatoes and onions with eggs were usually gone before the burner cooled. I learned I could never make enough. Then leftover mashed potatoes were the makings of potato patties with the addition of six eggs and seasonings. Fry till crispy and they will ask for more.

There is nothing finer than friends or family, food and fine moments to invest in a pot of coffee.

Pancakes, Waffles and French Toast

Get them while they’re hot, or they’ll be gone. Place a big X of bacon slices as you pour the waffle batter  and you’ll be hooked. But no pecan halves on Ken’s. For French toast, dip, fry, butter, add toppings, open mouth, smile. Provide several toppings including syrup and much more. Brag for weeks.

Hot Cereals

Check the thermometer to see if the weather is cold. Oatmeal is good, and Cream of Wheat is great when you swirl chocolate chips and butter just before eating. I like to toss some peanut butter chips on top.

Omlettes Add tidbits from the fridge, including tomatoes, onions and cheese in the center, then sour creme or picante sauce for topping.

Cinnamon Toast  Sprinkle bread with butter cinnamon and sugar, broil and Jeff will show up.

Soups and Stews

My cooking represents my general outlook on life–you might call it philosophy in a pan.

Stews and soups are an event, not a recipe. In winter fix often. Start with a base, clean out fridge, chop things that smell OK, discard the rest, take out trash and shine the fridge inside and out while enjoying the aroma and cooking.

Bread: The Staff of Wife

For years I had heard bread was the staff of life, but my upbringing had a slightly different connotation. The lady of the house did the cooking; no doubt I am thrilled that household tasks are now spread more evenly between the genders.

Homemade bread was a special occasion at our house. I always said it was easy enough to get around to often. We gathered to punch it down after the first rising, soaking up the delightful smells of yeast. My recipe didn’t make you knead it, but I promise you need it! Some burned lips have occurred when it was tasted a bit too soon after coming out of the oven, but it was worth it.

Bisquitry on regular days involved drop biscuits but when Aunt Gladys came she rolled out old time biscuits. And cold weather and soups were always perked up with muffins.

Crescent rolls were enjoyed as pigs in a blanket, cheese filled and rolled in sesame seeds, or just out of the oven with butter.

Then Mexican cornbread with whole kernel corn and cheese invaded our taste buds but I was into mild so I avoided jalapeño peppers, preferring sweet ones. December was a great time for red and green bell peppers.

We all loved banana bread and gingerbread and Ken got us started on cranberry bread.

Drinks – Fruit drink made in blender with bananas and peaches, spiced tea, wassail…

Desserts — The Exclamation Point of a Meal

Cookies: p. butter, chocolate chip, sugar. We found a great recipe and story in

Creme Puffs – Beat till you arm hurts mightily.

Cakes – Apples make good food, upside down cake, strawberry shortcake

Cobbler – Especially good with peaches and whipped cream

Pies – Boxton Creme Pie is not pie but is delicious, Easy creme cheese pie crust. Your fingers may never leave your hands as you flute the edges of the crust.

Pudding – My crowning glory. I eventually developed a way to do it in the microwave after many years of using a double boiler. Closest thing to heaven I know.

When you eat dessert, enjoy, then avoid the scales for a week or two:-)            It’s not the recipe that counts. It’s the time spent together in and around the kitchen that matters. Enjoy the fine fragrance of food, chat, play games, laugh and make memories.



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