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Posts from the ‘Home and Children’ Category

Marigoldish Scent

My mother always planted a row of Marigolds and Zinnias in her vegetable garden along the edge. Zinnias are easy to grow, proliferate wildly and show a variety of colorations. Marigolds on the other hand are always bright orange and gold; their scent being repulsive.

Rabbits and deer do not like marigolds. They will eat potato plants, tomato plants, and love lettuce, broccoli, cabbage and all the other vegetables you plan to grow in your garden.

I tried raised beds here in Southeast Texas where the local soil will harden like fired piece of pottery if insufficient rain–and if there is sufficient rain glues itself together. And San Augustine grass loves to crawl across the top of it, engulfing your preferred vegetation.

I did fairly well the first couple of years, then the grass invaded and despite my best efforts dominated the raised beds. I also had a few back surgeries making leaning over to the ground challenging.

My next attempt was stock tanks filled with rocks and soil. The first year rain was adequately spaced; this year not so. I have revised my watering system several times–this year a soaker hose with a timer.

Marigolds have flourished in these stock tanks, my tomatoes had their leaves completely eaten twice; the okra have produced enough for a couple of gallon bags in the freezer but not nearly as productive as past years.

Most gardeners always hope for a better year—next year—but here in Southeast Texas we get to have a winter garden….in the North, we could only drool over the seed catalogs which always seemed to appear in January–the dead of winter when the only green thing to be seen were winter jackets.marigolds20view20two-m


pliers-mToday is my dad’s birthday.

And my father-in-law’s.

And John Lennon.

And lots of other people too.

But today I celebrate these three.

My Dad was a farmer in an area he described as being rather tilted to one side, served in Hawaii in World War II, mended farm equipment for his neighbors waiting for the factory piece to arrive, and had smile wrinkles. He married late in life and never complained about his young very inexperienced bride’s cooking. Like his father and uncles, he thought about tools to make his work easier.

My father-in-law was an OB/Gyn doctor in a moderately sized town in Wisconsin. He did a lot of cooking, was upset if there was no food left on the table…thinking someone had gone hungry….and enjoyed Pink Panther movies. He also had six children but was fortunate enough to have two daughters instead of the just one of my father. (Maybe I made up for it by being more challenging or creative or something)

John Lennon was born in England and had musical talent. amplified by his band members composing such wonderful music—in my opinion as beautiful as some of the classical masters. His music entered my life in junior high. Although I enjoy many kinds of music, the lyrical quality of the instrumentals continues to captivate my ear.

As executor of my parents’ wills, I had the task of disposing of the household contents. I kept some things my brothers thought commonplace.

One tool was a baling twine cutter. This was a blade from a mower with a loop of re-rod serving as a handle. These were stored on a nail on a beam in the barn. Square hay bales were tied with binder twine, a rough strong twine. Feeding the cows meant breaking those bales apart and putting sections in the manger in front of each cow.

And then there was his forge, the bits and bobs left over from his welding and repair jobs.

Sometimes I pick them up and hold them in my hand, remembering his strong square hands…hands shaped much the same as mine… my legacy from him along with my curly hair.nuts20and20bolts202-m


Nails and Screws

The first two days I spent a lot of time looking through an array of paper bags filled with nails or screws scattered around the house.

While Glen made a run to the local auto parts store to see if he could repair my rear view mirror that had fallen off while on my trip north, I gathered all of those fastening devices, placed them in left-over clear plastic boxes previously holding mixed nuts and organized them.

Now all the nails are on one side; the screws on the other and a bunch of things that seemed to be oddball things were in a box on the floor.

nails-mscrews-mscrews20and20misc20looking20into20kitchen-mNow all we had to search for were the pencils, Sharpies, measuring tapes, hammers, screwdrivers and tin snips.

My other project was to vacuum the windows and doors of flies—dozens of them, hundreds, hordes—soon to come–the Asian ladybug look-a likes appearing with the harvesting of the soybeans.

And I know everyone wanted to see yet another photo of the library from the stairs.


Wisconsin Walls 3

Since you have been reading about my carpentering/renovation skills you won’t be surprised to learn we hung even more drywall.

This room was my bedroom. It was the smallest of the three upstairs and I remember sleeping there once with my grandparents–each in a separate bedroom—I remember thinking it odd they slept in separate rooms but then I also recall Grand-dad had a formidable snore–something that didn’t really bother someone who was just 5 and slept soundly after a day outside playing.

I don’t remember why I was staying there–it may have been while Dad was taking Mom to the hospital for the birth of one of my brothers.

So this little room will become our library. It will have a window seat and both long walls will be covered with shelves loaded with books. A nice large fluorescent–or LED light will be over that window seat–it faces north–so not a lot of light in the winter.

This is four sheets of drywall—and it will need at least four more—but it is a good start. All those wall plugs and wall switches require repeated measurements. The ceiling pieces were hung with a 2X4 nailed up just below the joists—I held up the panel until enough screws were put in to hold it—-it wasn’t that hard—I braced my arm over my head—the ceiling isn’t all that high—-Glen stood on a ‘nuc’—a five frame bee hive and I stood on an invention of my brother’s—a rectangular box with drill holes to rotate the box to different levels—easier and more secure than a step ladder.


Wisconsin Walls 2

You might think we were happy with our work in the master bedroom and we were. But we had another room that was only partially finished—the living room.

This room has knotty pine on all the walls except one corner. This is where a small wood-burning stove will live. We are not planning on being year round residents and so just a little something to take the edge off the cool spring/fall mornings and evenings will be enough—I hope.

Fire retardant materials need to be installed behind and below and above such a thing. I thought corrugated siding would fit with the simple decor of the house. The ceiling of the living room and the kitchen were completed last summer but the stove area remained.

img_8862-mWe measured and cut….actually we both measured and I held and Glen cut; then I held up the panel and he used an electric screwdriver to fasten in the pieces. Again we had to allow for wall plugs. I left with only two panels hung but the next two have gone up and we will be on our way to having another room completed with the exception of the crown molding…..the floor is the original flooring my father remembers his father and brothers carefully placing.img_8903-m

Wisconsin Walls

When you take a house down to its studs at some time you must replace those walls. The studs in this house were rough cut at a local sawmill and came from the Hog Woods also known as the Big Woods. This bit of land was not originally part of the farm but was bought a bit later and separately. I haven’t researched the land documents—a project for another time.

Knotty pine is up on much of the downstairs–the living room and the breakfast room. I wanted something that had no maintenance–no painting but would look warm and inviting.

One wall of the master bedroom was formerly the outside of the house–and had tar paper covering it. We decided we wanted to have a mural on that wall—one of our photos blown up into mural size—but it would require drywall first. This house is nearly a hundred years old and a bit of settling has occurred and some things just aren’t straight or even. img_8904-m

With two of us, we hung drywall along this wall and completed the cedar lining of the closet. All that is left in this room is the flooring, the crown molding, and the mural.img_8923-m



And yes, we know we installed that first sheet backwards—but after cutting out the wall plugs, we were committed to this side out.



walnuts20on20ground202-mA familiar fall task in Southwestern Wisconsin is picking up walnuts. The lime green husks are easy to spot; not so easy are the ones fallen a few days earlier with the husks now a dark brownish-black. Although gloves might be used to pick them up, fingers are always stained a luscious brown for more than a few hand-washings.

walnut20tree-mOne tree stands behind the garage on my farm–it wasn’t there when I grew up there–but squirrels conveniently planted it and it has survived. It now provides shade and an abundance of walnuts.

green20husked20walnuts-mI could leave them for the squirrels and one year my husband picked them all up and put them in the bath-tub that lives in the garage. The squirrels thought this quite convenient as when he returned in the spring thinking he could spend evenings shelling walnuts, the bath-tub was empty.

My father used to lay them all out on a tarp to dry; then would husk them, let them dry again and then shell them in the evenings. He cracked several pie platefuls on an anvil in the basement; sometimes used a vise, turning the handle being a bit easy than whacking them with a hammer.


Before dogs arrived I would spend twenty minutes or so on my front porch cracking and shelling walnuts—until the mosquitoes descended upon me. Whacking away at an inanimate object was a great stress reliever.

two20bags-mfilling20a20bag20with20walnuts-mPicking up all those walnuts–I stopped at two dog food bags full was a pleasurable reminder of past days and memories.


Thinking back upon my experiments with indigo dye–the first color appearing is a wonderful lime green—the same as the walnut husk. green20husk20closeup-m

A Wedding

beginning20of20service-mAlthough I have a large family, I haven’t always been able to attend all the weddings–or the funerals. Weddings are planned events though and I was able to schedule a trip to Wisconsin for this one.

My niece loves the outdoors and it isn’t a great surprise that she should be marrying a former park ranger, now a private guide in Yellowstone National Park. The wedding was to be held outdoors—on her grandparent’s farm in rural Wisconsin–the driftless area with mountainous hills–the Ocooch Mountains–and rivers–the Kickapoo, the Wisconsin and to the west the Mississippi.

The bride made the vests for her to-be husband and his best man—and I did not ask–but I suspect she made her own dress–a very pretty lace dress. Her bouquet was crocheted roses–she made those too. The ceremony was traditional in many respects with a few differences—-the music was the maid of honor whistling ‘here comes the bride’, the groom’s parents walked him up to the altar—as did the bride’s–my brother and his wife.

Many of the guests had camped out for the weekend and there were several dogs wandering in and out of the chairs and the tents and the bridal couple.tents-m

It was a lovely wedding and a perfect day–not too hot–not too cold–and a light breeze kept the mosquitoes and gnats away.bride201-m

A few more photos are here:




Winding Down

Last night I turned into my driveway….home from a week in Wisconsin.

I drove through rain several times, the worst being in Arkansas with cold rain hitting hot pavement, sending up waves of fog amidst the downpour. No-one was driving very fast, including the semis. I stopped in Pocahontas for the night; I felt quite safe that night as I was surrounded by Sheriff Deputy marked cars—there must have been a convention/meeting/gathering…they were all out chatting and talking–no SWAT rifles or helmets or shields evident–just a lot of laughing and chatting.

Google sent me down 49 in Louisiana and through some really rough two lane roads; not to my liking. The small town of Keach established in 1888 struck my eye but I cannot find anything about it on the internet. Google must have heard me grousing about the quality of the roads and the lack of rest-stops and availability of auto-diesel as it then sent me around Toledo Bend Reservoir.

Rain again in Beaumont with steaming roadways and a deluge. People were driving slowly but fortunately I was heading south and they were mostly heading north.

unloading20from20trip20to20wisconsin-mI managed to catch half hour of no rain to unload the inside contents of my truck—a large box of produce===MacIntosh apples from my Auntie Hazel’s yard, pears from a high school friend’s yard, and tomatoes from our garden on the farm.

Today is a day to catch up with all the things that need doing—retrieving the dogs from the kennel–they had a wonderful time as I signed them up for extra play-time, dealing with email and work issues, reviewing photos and contemplating the events of the week.

I’ll be commenting on them as the next week goes by—but the primary reason for the trip was to attend the wedding of one of my nieces and to deliver the quilt my mother–her grandmother had pieced for her and I had finished.

This was the hardest of all the quilt tops she had left for me to quilt–I finished all those edges with a facing—and Tami–my niece—had a huge smile on her face as she peeked at the edges of her new quilts.



Dahlia Procrastination

There will be a wedding next Saturday.

I have known about it for at least six months maybe more.

Yesterday, I had no choice but to load up this quilt top and begin. My mother had left a quilt top for each of her grandchildren–sixteen or twenty or maybe a hundred–and I was instructed to get them quilted as a wedding gift. Fortunately most of them were teenagers or even younger at the time and so it didn’t seem like an impossible task. I’ve gotten quite a few done but this one was the fanciest of the group—and one that I wanted to do up right.

img_8793-mMom and I had very different ideas of what made pretty color combinations–maybe she had early cataracts but I remember her choices as a forty something that just seemed really dull and boring to me. The sage green was not appealing, the only bright spot the orange in the center.


That isn’t a wrinkle—it’s the bobbin thread somehow I have not mastered locking the stitches AND cutting the bobbin thread. I had a lot of these until I figured out a way to bring the thread up and give it a yank.

The first day is always hard–what pattern shall I use–and then you’ve got to line everything up–but I didn’t have a straight line to put at the edge. I had been advised to cut off all  those fingers to make it easier to quilt and bind—but I left it as it was and did my best. It is far from perfect and in other hands would /could have been a prize winner. But it is now done, and I have four evenings to sew on its binding.

img_8796-mHere it is all done and hanging off the Gammill front bars. Maybe I will show you those fingers a bit later after I’ve faced them.

And then it will be on to the next one she left behind for me to complete. I found a few tops designated for maybe more grandchildren–or maybe the greats—I’ve done more than a few of those too–but still lacking a few–four more at last count.