Posts Tagged ‘Steve Jones’

I’ve been away awhile, and now I can’t seem to figure out how to add a new post. Oh well, I’ll try it this way.
There are certain events in our lives that are very stressful, both good stress and bad stress. Losing a loved one; serious illness; retirement; vacations. Add to that remodeling your house. I went through all of the above in 2014. I lost my mother, Velma Ruth Steward Robertson Hornsby, on June 17. She was 93 and in poor health, but it was still a shock. I am an orphan child. That was the week before my retirement, after 33 years, from Rice University. I’m still waking up at the usual time, but I quickly realize I don’t have to anymore. I dream often that I am back at work, although I really don’t want to – or maybe a little. Thirty-three years in Fondren Library, five more years in grad school at Rice, that’s a big chunk of my life. I’m still trying to reorganize my life, but I’m getting there. The night before my last day at work, I started having chest pain and a severe pain behind my left shoulder blade. I waited for it to pass for several hours, but it didn’t. I took myself to urgent care, thinking surely it’s not a real heart attack, but the folks at the clinic sure were taking it seriously. They gave me the drug for angina, and sure enough the pain started to abate. I spent 3 days in the hospital, after calling my boss to say sorry, but I’d have to miss my last day at work. Every possible test was given. I was poked and prodded and ex-rayed and ultrasounded … Finally one of the staff doctors decided it was all caused by my Barrett’s Esophagus, which can have the same symptoms. Now I know.
Now for the good stress: In August, I took my two sons and three granddaughters on an Alaskan cruise. One of the girls was already in college, and the other two were about to start. I didn’t know if we would ever be able to gather like that, and I hoped to make some lasting memories. Memories were made, and a good time was had by all. In September, I traveled to western Ireland with my folk singing Irish-American friends, Annie and Marie Burns and several like-minded folks. It was my first trip, and I fell in love with the beautiful landscape and the gentle people.

In October I went to Long Beach, California, where I attended Bouchercon, the main convention for mystery writers and readers. I’m a bit of both. Mystery writers are fun and funny and generous and not at all weird (well, maybe some good weird) or bloodthirsty, even if their books are. I’ve gotten to know several writers, and several are good friends. I couldn’t go this year, but I’ll be in New Orleans in 2016.

There was another reason to go to Long Beach in 2014.  In October 1944, my mother took the train from Texas to Long Beach to marry my father, who was in between ships. His first ship, the USS Elliot, was stationed at Pearl Harbor. As fate would have it, his was one of the ships who left port on Dec. 5. When the Elliot returned to the harbor, he was stunned by all the damage. He said :here I was, a 20 year old kid, never been out of Texas, and I couldn’t believe what men can do to others. I didn’t mean to include this story, but with what’s going on right now I had to express my feelings, which are much like my father’s. Anyway, they were married at city hall. I was hoping it would still be there, but time marches on. The art deco gem where they pledged their troth was gone, replaced by a 60’s box. There was a model of that old one in the lobby, so I at least got to see what it looked like 70 years ago.

Let’s see if this works. If so, I’ll be back with photos.


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I went to a writing/yoga retreat near Belton (Texas, for my Yankee friends) last week , met some great people, made a few pitiful attempts to re-start my long-lost yoga skills, and did some inpsired writing.

Before I went, my friend Robert asked me why it’s never called a “yoga advance.” My witty answer – “er, uh, because we can’t advance until we retreat and get ourselves together?” I thought about that question and realized, by the end of the session, I’d said a true thing. My zest for writing has been flagging, and I needed something to get the creative juices flowing again. The Universe, as it is wont to do, lead me to just the right place.

I learned about Patricia Lee Lewis and her writing/yoga workshops by accident (do I hear someone say “there are no accidents?”) Someone on my writing listserv posted a link to a retreat in Wales, wistfully saying it would be great to go to something like that. I clicked on the link, and low and behold, I said to myself – I KNOW that place, I saw the house at the top of the hill when my Welsh friend Steve Jones took me and my half-sister Gwen to visit St. Non’s Chapel. St. Non was the mother of St. David, patron saint of Wales, and St Davids is the city near Carn Llidi where Gwen’s father died in a plane crash in June, 1943. I knew I couldn’t afford another trip to Wales, but I decided to write Patricia and tell her about our story. Somehow I felt she’d want to know.

St. Non's Chapel, Wales

St. Non's Chapel, Wales

I got an e-mail from her that said, in part, “when I read that he (Gwen’s father) was from Comanche, I wept. My grandparents were from Comanche.” That was only one of many coincidence we shared, and we both knew we had to meet. When she said she and Charles MacInerney (yoga teacher) were holding a retreat at Belton I was elated. Belton fits the budget. It is also the town where my great-great grandparents, Elisha E. and Ruth Wilkinson Stewart, were pioneers in the Republic of Texas days, and I knew it fairly well. In no time at all, my credit card was in my hand and the arrangements were made.

Some of you may not believe it, but I am a very shy person, and going into new situations where I don’t know anybody usually scares me out of my wits. This time, I had no fear at all. I knew I was going to were I needed to be, where I belonged.

By the end of the first evening, we all pretty much felt like friends, and we were ready to learn and have fun doing it. Patricia has a gentle teaching style, developed in part by her experience in grade school with a teacher whose cruel comment crushed her joy in writing for years. She had written what she thought (and what was) an excellent story. The teacher wrote on the paper “did you really write this?” When Patricia figured out the teacher doubted that she could have written such a fine piece of work, she was deeply hurt.

Our writing exercises, always started with a little meditation and a prompt of some kind, were read aloud to our group. All stories were treated as fiction, all comments were about what was good. I read my efforts without my usual crippling fear that someone would make fun of it, or say something cutting – things that have happened in writing groups before. And the writing – as soon as the group leader said “go”, I’d put my pen to the paper and the words would flow, with no effort on my part. Some of the stuff came totally out of the blue, like my poem about sleeping with the pool boy, and some of it, I realized, came from deep inside where it had been waiting for me to bring it to life.

By the end of our four days together, I knew I’d been through something important and extraordinary, and met new friends who will go on to become old friends. Joel, you dog, you, you make me grin! And Doris, my friend from lifetimes past. Drew and Elizabeth, it just melted my heart to see the two of you sitting on the park bench reading MY story aloud to each other! Madeline, you are one fine cook. Bonnie, you are a dear. Lisa, come on over to Rice and we’ll do lunch. Charles, you can teach me yoga any time and I just might learn to love it again. To all of you, and especially dear, long lost sister Patricia, thanks for being you.

Here’s the link to Patricia’s website:


and here’s the one to the retreat in Wales. The photo is of St. Davids Cathedral, and in the far right background you can see part of Carn Llidi. Patricia has promised to take her class on a pilgrimage to see the memorial to Lt. Robertson and his 3 fellow crew members, and their story will live on.


Here is a photo of my Welsh friend near the retreat center:

Steve Jones and Shirley Wetzel in Wales

Steve Jones and Shirley Wetzel in Wales

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Crew of Lil' Lass April 1932

Crew of Lil' Lass April 1943

This is the last picture of the crew of the Lil’Lass, taken at Barksdale Airfield, April 1943

St. Davids CathedralH.H. Robertson, Velma and Gwen 1943Steve Jones and Sabina

Above photos – 1. St. Davids Cathedral, Wales. Carn Llidi is in the far background. The crew members were brought here by the locals as a sign of respect, while waiting for the American authorities to come for them. 2. 2nd Lt. hulbert H. Robertson, his wife Velma Ruth (Stewart) and their daughter Gwendolyn Frances, 1943. 3. Steve Jones and Sabina, the wonderful people who made this whole thing happen. Steve is a Welsh firefighter and aviation historian, a kind and generous young man. Sabina is his long-suffering mate, who never bats an eye when he drags home yet another batch of Yanks like us. She is a gracious hostess and a lot of fun.

As I mentioned previously, my half-sister Gwen and I went to England and Wales twice, in March 2004 and May-June 2005, on a pilgrimage to visit her father’s grave and to attend a memorial service for him and his crewmates near the crash site. Here are links to a BBC article about it – please note, Gwen is my OLDER sister, terrible photo of me not withstanding, and photos of the Memorial Service on June 4, 2005.



Hmm, I’m not sure if these links work, but you can cut and paste.

Gwen’s father was 2nd Lt. Hulbert H. Robertson, of Comanche, Texas. He died when Gwen was about 18 months old. Our mother knew very little about what happened to him – the Army simply told her “his plane crashed into Carn Llidi Mountain, Wales, in heavy fog and he is dead.” In 2004, our of the wide blue yonder, a wonderful young Welsh fireman and WWII history buff contacted us. He’d been researching WWII American plane crashes. He’d grown up near the site where another plane from Huilbert’s squadron crashed, and he wondered about the men who died there and thought they should be honored just as those who died in battle were. He tracked down relatives of 3 of the 4 crewmen, including the two daughters of the pilot, and organized a memorial ceremony on the 62nd anniversary of the crash.Gwen at Cambridge American Cemetery Memorial Day, 2005newspaper-article.jpg

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