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madras meets dhara.

We recently experienced a taste of Madras in Woodbine.  My mother’s cousin, Beena, and her two sons paid a visit to our neck of the woods for some good old family time.  Growing up, my siblings and I were close to both my father’s and mother’s sides of the family.  My father’s side is more homespun, easy-going, carefree, lovable, and farmer types.  While my mother’s side is gregarious, outspoken, silly (in a very good + comical way), and business types.  I love both sides.  Both sides bring out different qualities in me.

For the few days they were with us, we all had a really lovely time laughing, telling jokes, and just being together.  The Madras folks absolutely fell in love with Dhara.  Head over heels.  It was pretty sweet.

Madras Beena is definitely someone whom I admire and respect.  She’s got a great handle on fabrics and design.  I appreciate the way she picks and chooses what goes together and what doesn’t, and how she designs her own clothes.  And, she always does it right.  Tailored and perfect.  It takes boldness and a certain kind of assertiveness to do such a thing.  I feel a kindred spirit somewhere in there.

The following is a journal entry from one of my trips to Madras.  It journals a day when Madras Beena took me around town.

August 16th, 2005

Wednesday Morning, 1:03 AM.  Madras, India.

I was outdoors the whole day today.  Madras Beena and I went to her shop, Sara’s Saris.  I didn’t realize it was literally attached to the M.A. Jacob family owned business.  Ever since coming to Madras, while driving through the city, my eyes have caught many great big “M.A Jacob, The Carpet People” billboard signs along my various drives.  Even when I first exited the airport here, there was a billboard which read, “M.A. Jacob Welcomes You!”…ha, felt very weird.

Anyways, such beautiful carpets, draperies, and wall tapestries lined the walls of their 8 level business building.  Standing at the bottom of the winding mahogany wood staircase was magnificent…it went all the way up to the eighth floor!  Sara’s Saris is a quiet shop with shelves of saris…not too many shelves…but just the right amount.  Each shelve had a beam of light lightly falling on it for a showpiece presentation look…  I was told by Beena, that her father designed the 3 buildings they owned.  Although he is a business man, he has a knack for designing architectural layouts.  I could tell these adult children really looked up to their father by the way they spoke of him.

Afterwards we went to Mohksha, where the sari prices range anywhere from 2000 rupees to 9000 rupees…a lovely selection indeed.  However, my favorite part of the day was probably in Ponder Bazaar, where we headed to the FABRIC STORE.  I cannot express how I feel when I enter a fabric store…especially one filled with Indian cottons, silks, and georgettes…of all colors and textures…  I myself hung out near the cotton ethnic prints which were made from various vegetable dyes.

It also was demanded that I go to the parlor down the street while I was in Madras…so I humbly obliged.  : )  While there, I was persuaded to wax my arms…something which I have never done (both waxing and shaving my arms) because I see no need for it…but my relatives can be oh so persuading…  Let’s just say that waxing is the most painful thing I have ever gone through in my life.  Now that goes to show you I have not gone through much.  : )  And to think, you have to do it again two weeks from now because it regrows…ahhhh!!!  But really, the pain people go through to beautify themselves…it’s ridiculous.

Update: Childbirth is the most intense, even excruciating pain I have ever felt.

madras beena and dhara

texas hill country.

beautiful texas hill country

It was such a blessing to have Greg’s parents take us down to Wimberly, Texas for a week of family and relaxation.  Wimberly is in Texas Hill Country — hill country is a region in central Texas that features tall rugged hills that consist of limestone or granite and is marked by wooded canyons cut by spring-fed rivers.  Wimberly is a beautiful little town full of trees, gravel roads, great local artists + shops and lovely views.

We stayed in the River House, one of Uncle Phil’s beautiful vacation rentals.  The River House had a little house next to it called a casita, which Greg, myself and the baby stayed in for a week, fully equipped with a washer and dryer in our bedroom — soooo helpful!  The week was spent hanging out there, as well as at Uncle Phil’s other two houses, the Sunset House and the Rim Rock House.  We spent most of those days on porches, rocking in rocking chairs and talking of days of old.  We also went tubing down the river, celebrated Uncle’s Phil’s 50th birthday, visited San Antonio, and squeezed in a lovely date or two with just the two of us.  (Mom, thanks sooo very much for watching the baby!  I know it was a great time for you both as well!).

Aunt Teri was so awesome to bring kolaches (a Czech delight) with her when she arrived in Wimberly.  My favorites were the blueberry + cheese kolaches, as well as the spicy sausage, jalapeno + cheese kolaches.  So yum.  When Greg and I lived in Baltimore we would make these all the time.  One of our favorites to make were kolaches filled with poppy seed jam, along with a steaming pot of tea — really made our Settlers of Catan evenings!

Here are some highlights from our trip.

meeting great granny lanny for the very first time

It was also Dhara’s first time meeting Granny Lanny.  The first meeting was sweet.  They just looked into each other’s eyes — Granny Lanny’s smiley ones and Dhara’s big bright ones.  Dhara is such a people person that she didn’t mind that she didn’t know this woman — this woman being her Czechoslovakian (or Bohemian, as Granny Lanny calls herself) great grandmother.

I actually spent alot of my time this trip hearing more stories of her childhood and married years.  She spoke quite fondly of her parents Sigmund and Eunice who came from Central Europe by ship and landed in Galveston, Texas.  She loved her dad — a very kind + good man.  She was one of five girls, and when the weather was chilly, her father would scoop each one of his daughters up in a homemade quilt, and place her on a stool in front of a wood stove to stay warm in the evenings.  As a child, she spoke Bohemian until she went to school and learned English.  Cultural dancing was a big part of her community growing up — babies were put on a quilt and placed under a table to nap while everyone danced.  She shared so many more neat stories.

dhara with great granny lanny, grandma smith + great aunt teri

eating aunt teri’s bracelet

sunset house pool overlooking the hills

hallway with a view, made with reclaimed wood

the uncle phil/dhara stare-down. uncle phil won.

aunt peggy and dhara

me knitting a cozy sweater for dhara

dhara with her uncle austin (greg’s cousin) and his sweet girlfriend, bonnie

granny lanny absolutely loved her new great granddaughter

uncle phil + his cardboard cutout at his 50th birthday bash, rim rock house

loved how aunt peggy decorated!

my little sweet sweet clapping her hands

dhara dancing and clapping her hands to the band playing “brown eyed girl”

granny lanny quietly enjoying the dancing from above

the end of a great 50th birthday bash

little toes in blanco river

she loved it

“remember the alamo!” san antonio, texas

on the riverwalk, san antonio, texas

with grandpa smith

with grandma smith


a family photo at the river house

lastly, this swing was a gift from greg’s parents to uncle phil for his 50th birthday — it swings from a great big tree at the river house and it’s officially been named, “the dhara swing”

texans love texas.

We are heading down to Texas for a whole week.  I’m leaving in a few hours, but before I go, I thought I would post a journal entry detailing my first trip there in 2007 to visit Greg’s family.  The following entry is from my old blog.  It’s a lovely reminder of the things to come this next week.  I hope to post more while I’m there.  See ya’ll in Texas!

December 12th, 2007

I like Maryland, but for some reason, I can’t say I LOVE Maryland.  That’s why I think it’s kinda cool to hear when people say that Texans love Texas — it gives me a homey pride inside…even though I’m not from around there.

This past weekend Greg and I, along with his parents and sister, spent 5 lovely days in Wimberly, Texas visiting family.  We stayed at his uncle’s riverside bed and breakfast with many people from Greg’s maternal side of the family — the Collins’.  This family really blew me away with their hospitality and all their wonderful story telling of years gone by.

This is the kind of family you write books about.  Books detailing their arrival to America by ship and living under a great big tree until they could build a house for themselves.  Books about cotton picking and becoming something great.  Books about making something out of nothing.  These are the types of books I love reading on a rainy day like today in my white cotton nightgown and snuggled deep down under the covers.  Maybe even an entire book on kolaches or kolacky!  These are usually sweet buns made from yeasted dough and usually have fruit or poppy seed filling — bohemian goodness at its best.  I had one with sausage, spicy jalapenos and cheese, and BOY was it tasty!!!

I didn’t realize that Czechs are also called Bohemians until I spoke to Greg’s grandmother who spoke bohemian when when she was a young Czech girl growing up in Texas.  Quite interesting.  I always knew there was something nomadic, gypsy-like and free spirited about my husband — but I could not pinpoint it until now.  : )  I can most definitely see where Greg gets some of his interesting quirks from after meeting these neat people.

granny lanny and greg


blanco river on a downcast day


the grandboys

backyard fireworks.

I hope your fourth of July was as lovely as ours.  We drove to meet some folks in a nearby city to see the fireworks, but happened to be late.  On our drive back, we stopped by a field near home.  We live in somewhat of a mountainous elevation, about 1000 feet, so from that field, we could see fireworks in downtown Baltimore and two other cities.  It was so, so beautiful to see the sparks in three different parts of the vast sky.  Wide open fields are one of the loveliest things.  Especially at night.

When we got home, my husband and brother lit up some fireworks and sparklers in the backyard.  Baby Dhara got a taste of July fourth in her own backyard.  She was amazed at all the flashes of light in the night sky.

beaching it.

This past weekend we went to the eastern shore!  As usual, we had a relaxing time, great weather, and great food!  Greg’s dad is such an awesome cook — his family always jokes that he needs his own TV show.  I also had lunch at my favorite, Georgia House (my third time there) — and for the third time, had the club on wheatberry bread with sweet potato fries and some delicious pretzel salad.  I have absolutely no desire to try anything new even though I know it’s all good.  We also hit a few yard sales where I picked up two vases for $1.00, and a couple antique shops where I got a darling vintage white dress with blue embroidery (in perfect condition) for my darling Dhara, a few wooden spools for my yarn, and some vintage woven dish towels because I just have this thing for vintage woven dish towels — a small collection of mine. : )

And as always, we hit the beach!  Dhara wore a two-piece that her Aunt Lori got her.  She had an excellent time at the beach.  Our baby loved to feel the breeze and feel the sand between her fingers.  She would quietly pick up a handful of sand in her small chub hand, and softly let is slide through her fingers — so cute.

I just love this photo of Greg and Dhara — so peaceful and content watching the waves get closer and closer.


Dhara loves to touch Aunt Beth’s dog, Missy.

An old chapel built in the late 1800’s.  Greg’s mom wanted to purchase this chapel to start a quilt shop!  Dhara says, “There’s still time Grandma!”

Dhara visited Grandma’s school, saw her beautifully plush office, and met her co-workers.  She also met Aunt Beth’s co-workers too.

This cloth doll belonged to Greg’s mom’s great, great grandmother, Dr. Martha.  Which means, it belonged to Dhara’s great, great, great, great grandmother!  Wow!  It’s probably dated back to the Civil War era.  The history behind Dr. Martha is so interesting.  A while back, Greg’s mom showed me an article written about her.  She was a medical doctor who was very familiar with holistic medicines.  She rode horseback to her patients’ homes to treat them.  My most favorite part of the article is the part about her being a radical Baptist woman who cried out to God when she couldn’t help a patient.  What an amazing heritage!  I pray that Dr. Martha’s prayers be imparted to little Dhara — so that she too can be a radical woman of prayer!



Dhara at the pool.

Grandma feeding Dhara sweet potatoes.

great grandparents rock.

How special are great grandparents?

Dhara has a great grandmother (Greg’s grandma), Granny Lanny, in Texas — who Dhara will meet for the first time next month!  And she also has a great grandpa and grandma (my grandparent’s) here in Maryland (photos below).  My grandparents come over almost every Monday evening to spend quality time with their great granddaughter.  It’s just so sweet to see them all spend time together — the older generation getting to know this little one, and this little one getting to be part of a rich Indian heritage as they talk to her in their native language, Malayalam.

They also share tidbits with Greg and I of what they believe about baby raising from their native motherland — some of which I believe are old wives-tales, but I love hearing them anyway.  For example, “kissing a baby’s cheeks will only make their cheeks get bigger.”  So not true.  I kiss my baby’s cheeks all day long, and her cheeks look the same to me.  : )