A Day of Gifts

Hometown. There’s nothing like a visit “home” to pull you back from your current busy life and let you relax with a bit of nostalgia. A day in Palestine earlier in the spring did just that for me. Not only that, but I received a whole series of gifts. It wasn’t even my birthday or anything, which made the experience that much more meaningful to me.

First, I met my high school classmate Donna at a new little place called Crepes and Coffee. Though I always liked and admired Donna, we were never really “social friends” in our student days. Now that we’ve both lived a great deal of life and become reconnected, we’ve formed a real bond. Her enthusiasm for my travel and my current project warmed my heart. And she shared more of her story with me, upping my admiration for her even more!

Besides the lovely time together, she surprised me with a beautiful mirror compact (in my favorite colors and style, no less). She explained that for her, such a compact has come to symbolize friendship.

And she even bought my breakfast!

Next, I went to the art gallery on the first floor of the historic Redlands Hotel downtown. I met artist David Tripp there four years ago, and he now owns the gallery. A dozen artists have their works there. It’s always fun to browse the original paintings, smaller prints, sculptures, and works in progress… but I admit my favorites are always David’s nostalgic watercolors.

Since my visit fell during the Dogwood Festival, David had some goodies for his friends who stopped by. One of these was a poem about the artists who share the gallery. I enjoyed the poem, but the gift I really geeked out about was this Blackwing Matte pencil. It draws a nice dark line, yet holds its point well. The thing is, it’s the same kind of pencil John Steinbeck used to draft his novels. It’s now made by a different company, but still… the association inspires my work.
David wasn’t done yet. His best gift of all to me? His words. He’s writing and illustrating a book of stories. He told me he’d considered the project for some time, and finally went for it thanks to the influence of three people. I forget the first, the second was Larry McMurtry, and the third… was me. What?? Such an unexpected honor to have a place in David’s story.

I had some downtime in the afternoon, so I took my journal and new pencil to Davey Dogwood Park. I needed to process this unusual day a bit. Even in cloudy and somewhat threatening weather, the heavily wooded park welcomed me with its peaceful atmosphere. I wrote out my thoughts on the day so far, then went to meet old friends for dinner…

… We got to know Gordon and Amy ages ago, when we first moved to the Dallas area. He was the music minister at the church we joined, and Amy and I sang alto together in the choir. Gordon has a quirky sense of humor, so when he first told me he’d taken a position at a church in Palestine, I flat-out didn’t believe him. But it turned out to be true. We visited for a while at their home, then they treated me to dinner at the Pint and Barrel Drafthouse. The day ended with Amy’s yummy homemade dessert back at their house.

Food, mementos, symbolic gifts, more food… encouraging words and, most importantly, time spent together with people I care about. The whole day was a gift.

And the best gift of all is my friends.

May I be a good friend to those in my life.

Thanks for reading,


About Jan C. Johnson

Welcome! If you like food, reading, laughing over life's little disasters, and maybe thinking about the bigger things of life, you have come to the right place. Besides blogging, I write humorous fiction, though real life tends to leave fictional humor in the shade. But I'm not a total goofball. No, really. I'm also working on a biography project. I live in North Texas with my husband, Brent. We enjoy bicycling, Mexican food, and traveling to visit our kids and grandkids.
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3 Responses to A Day of Gifts

  1. Randy Bates says:

    Love this story Jan, reminds me of how I was “gifted” a BLACKWING 602. Actually I found it sitting by itself on a public table. It caught my eye because of its unique design. And it was a new just sharpened pencil. When I stopped and picked it up I noticed the slogan on the barrel, “ Half the pressure, twice the speed”. I thought, hmm, now that’s intriguing. When I got home I put pencil to paper and was blown away. “Wow, that’s the best, smoothest feeling pencil I have ever used!”, I’m pretty sure I said it out loud. I immediately Googled Blackwing 602 and read of the treasure I had found that day. Being an artist myself I was amazed to find out that none other than Chuck Jones, creator of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Wile E. Coyote, refused to use any other pencil and I can see why. Not to mention some Disney artists and other writers and famous people other than already mentioned John Steinbeck. They are a little hard to find but very much worth it!
    Thanks for the memory, Jan.

    Liked by 2 people

    • What fun that you have your own Blackwing story, Randy! I must pass this along to David. You’re right, the pencil is like no other.
      Besides, if it’s good enough for Daffy Duck, it’s good enough for me.
      Thanks for stopping by today!

      Liked by 1 person

    • davidtripp says:

      Randy, Jan pointed me to your response, which I deeply enjoyed. My introduction to this fabulous pencil occuurred a couple of years ago when I was poking around in Bode’s General Store in Abiquii, New Mexico. Like you, I was intrigued by its unusual shape and thought, “Why not? I’m a pencil whore. May as well purchase this one and see if it’s any good.” I have recently purchased my fourth box of these from Amazon. So delighted to keep the legend going . . .

      Liked by 2 people

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