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Posts from the ‘Home and Children’ Category

Bears aren’t Supposed to be Flat

I have always been enamored of Teddy Bears but never possessed one until ten years ago when two dear friends presented me with a Get-well Teddy dressed in a bath-robe. That bear held my glasses and went to doctor appointments and hsopitalizations with me and reminded me of caring friends.

Two years ago I decided to make Teddy Bears—and I made them in themed fabric, one for my son’s University of Texas fund-raiser–dressed in a burnt orange sweater.

But my zeal flagged and this poor bear was all cut out waiting for me to find suitable fabric for the soles of his feet and to be sewn and stuffed.

Here he is now—all sewn and waiting for his stuffing.

He’ll be at the quilt show and available to go home with someone to perhaps hold their glasses and go to the hsoptial an doctor’s appointments.

Outlets and Lights

While there is a great deal of charm in a hundred year old house–built solidly to withstand hurricanes—there are also challenges.

The wall are thick–double brick, metal lath, plaster—a very quiet house—but no walls to move at a whim to accommodate access for large appliances or re-modetling.

Then there is the question of electrical outlets. Built in an era with few electrical appliances, an outlet or two in a room was an extravagance. And lights? When you went to bed with the chickens and got up when they did—not much need for more than one light in a room.

But then there comes the time in your life when you might want to sew during a rainstorm…..or early evening…and you don’t want to trip over electrical extension cords.

It is odd having an electrician not related to you in any fashion but yet feeling like an old family friend who likes old houses and the challenge of making things work.

I’ve been on his to-do list for several months—and yesterday was the day his son and helper appeared to put in outlets and overhead lights.

That necesitated moving a few things—and here is what I had to do to prep for the installation.

and perhaps the most important outlet of all—-I had been running my sewing machine, lamp, Alexa, laptop from an extension cord from the master bedroom.

And if you are thinking what a grand mess this is–and was before the outlet and lighting project–you are quite right. I had been trying to clear out projects needing just a bit more to complete====and happy to say much has been processed—but more remains—and it did not help to take on a new hobby with new supplies and now partially done projects.

Just a soccer game

Last Saturday was a wonderfully sunny and perfect temperatured day. Since temperatured is underlined in squiggly red, it must not be a real word but I’m sure all of you know exactly what I mean.

Our oldest grandson plays ‘goalie’ on two teams and goes for lessons/training/camp/coaching with the professional team in Houston. We were invited to watch one of his games—and this past Saturday, things all lined up perfectly for the opportunity.

Warm-up happens first with much kicking of soccer balls and running back and forth. His younger brother entertained himself by asking such vital quesions as ‘what happened to my cheeks?” Wrinkles! If you don’t look in the mirror, you still remember yourself as a much younger–and wrinkle-free self—but the knees always remind you of your age!

Its hard to smile when the sun is in your face

The game started.

His mother watched enthusiastically—she is from Venezuela and I did not know she was such a soccer fan!

He did not see a great deal of action; the game was very lop-sided with the other team short three players. In soccer, you play with the number you have==sometimes there are several on time-out periods. As the score mounted, the referee began to call more and more infractions–in youth soccer, the goal is for the kids to have fun and learn the basics—but it isn’t fun to be on the losing side—so referees have the option to call more infractions, to insist on swapping out players.

That does sound like I know what I”m talking about—-I must admit to being a soccer coach many years ago.

This little guy rewarded me with a great smile

Isn’t he adorable?

Number Six but Who’s Counting?

This year has been challenging. On top of Covid, the lockdowns, the nastiness and vitriol on social media, the foolishness of quack remedies and denials, I have had six surgeries.

I don’t like to spend a lot of time thinking about or writing about my personal physical ailments—my ‘day’ job includes listening to people’s physical (and emotional) woes.

I have been dealing with my insurance company (excellent at denials of services). Needing surgery in the midst of so many Covid hospitalizations, the refusal of many to wear masks despite the contagiousness makes for a huge leap of faith to enter these facilities for care.

But now I have had my shoulder repaired, my back improved, my cataracts-lens replaced I am left with exercise bands, residual back pain (less than it was–but still there) and perhaps now I can think about travel—in my standard shift stick diesel truck to Big Bend or to Wyoming or to Wisconsin or to ……..

Perhaps I am done with this jewelry.

Rations

My sister-in-law brought a box of photographs and other memorabilia to my husband’s family get-together—siblings and spouses.

There were old photographs of my mother-in-law and her mother; my father-in-law being honored for his years as a local physician. School day photos—the ones where the greasy haired photographer took school photos and offered each of us a comb after he combed it through his hair. We were supposed to share all those photos with our ‘friends’ at school and probably send off a few to distant aunts.

But the most interesting item was a set of ration books. These were issued during World War II.

My grandmother operated the local canning machine to can fruit and vegetables; some to send to the troops, some for the local. My aunt married and her wedding cake was only a few inches tall–more like a large cupcake as they did not have enough rations to buy sugar for a larger one.

It seems like it was a different time with people more willing to sacrifice.

But that is looking back—and undoubtedly there were people who cheated and complained—but isn’t it nice to think that attitude is possible and wish it would be so now.

The Mighty Mississippi and a much smaller river

view of the Mississippi along the River road. this is the East channel, the West is equally wide

I grew up near the Mississippi River and every year it flooded. The high school boys would be asked to devote a day to filling sand-bags to protect the Villa Louis Mansion on St. Feriole Island. Flood stages were measured in far up Blackhawk Avenue the waters reached. I don’t remember every crossing over the bridge into Iowa. At one time, it was a toll bridge. Some locals objected strenuously to that concept and tore down the toll gate building one night—-in those days the only people out that late would be the doctor hurrying to deliver a baby or the veterinarian on a similar mission.

filling up in Ferryville we think or maybe Lynxville a small river town along the MIssissippi River

Then there was the Wisconsin River. We crossed that bridge regularly to shop at the grocery store in Boscobel–home of the Gideons. It also flooded but there seemed to be fewer buildings nearby and it was not so impressive.

The Kickapoo also flooded—it was and is a great river to canoe on—we spent early married years vacations canoeing that river. My father or one of my brothers would put us in somewhere up river and then pick us up several days later. The canoe was borrowed from husband’s family—it was a cheap but mosquito filled vacation—some portages over and through trees–and around a dam in Gays Mills—and camping out in pastures along with the cows, cooking over a fire and eating breakfast from the top of a can of pork and beans.

Then there is the more adult version of ‘camping’ with hot showers and a bed and screened in porches and a refrigerator and stove. We did paddle around a bit in one of those paddle boats—those require a lot of energy to go not very far.

those are cutouts—not real moose but you can see the paddleboats at the lake edge

But the sun-rise over the lake was lovely.

There’s a Landcruiser!

Driving home from the Silsbee Cruisin’ show, my husband was excited to see a vintage Toyota LandCruiser parked at a tire shop across the highway.

Of course we had to stop—and take photos.

This was the vehicle we courted in.

Part of the ritual involved driving through rough terrain, getting stuck and then getting unstuck with the help of friends who owned other rough driving vehicles—alas no winches. The girls got to stand on the bumper and jump up and down at the boys’ directions–I don’t know what they were doing–I was jumping up and down. The most memorable occasion was getting stuck in the sewage drainage field for the city on one very cold November night.

In those days, your gas was pumped for you—and several times I had some gas poured on my foot—the attendant thinking this was the gas tank.

The heater tended to jiggle close requiring adjusting—and its suspension—not too much different than my current set of wheels.

It also had a crank—we used that in the winter sometimes—no closed in garage, no dipstick heaters. This had a substantial winch on its front.

Here are a few more images:

I’m sure my parents did not know any of this….I never told….I think his parents had a good idea though.

A Visit with Henry Ford

Car shows are always fun; and there seems to be one every other month or so. Some at Spindletop, some at the airport, but this one was at the McFadden Ward Museum—a mere block away from our house.

The Model A club was having an outing. They parked along the long driveway surrounding the west side of the house. One of the vehicles was the personal car of Henry Ford himself. I did not take a photo of him but he seemed to be quite well preserved but perhaps stuck in the 60’s–with long hair, a headband, beard, and a T-shirt with a motto not appropriate for family viewing.

Lemonade was served on the porch.

If houses could think, it must have seemed like a reflection of past times—parties and guests and talk.

Mud Glorious Mud

If you don’t live near a beach or a lake but cannot resist the feeling of squishing toes in water, then you make a mud hole.

And you put in it lots of implements—sieves, shovels, slotted spoons, toy trucks, mutant crabs, and a lot of imagination.

Unfortunately I did not have spare clothes with me or I would have joined in. The project at hand was making an island in the middle of the ‘lake’ for the mutant crab to rest on.

Two brothers and a cousin entertained themselves–after chasing turkeys and a picnic lunch with grandparents, parents, and assorted great uncles and great aunts (one was me!).

Alas, I had to confine myself to grownup type activities and so I took advantage of the sunflowers on the edge of the garden. They are such curious and interesting plants—reminding me of the wind turbines and appearing to be human like in their stance and steady facing of the sun.

A Chicken or two or more

Growing up in rural Wisconsin meant long rides in school buses, sledding in the winter, stacking wood for the furnace, drying mittens, and wishing for summer when there was no snow shoveling or ice. But the true harbinger of spring was the day the mailman would call and ask if someone would be home as the baby chicks were at the post office.

The baby chicks usually went into one of the grainery bins—it being emptied of oats as feed for the cows and pigs—and relatively protected. A heat lamp or two was installed—the chick watering containers cleaned and set up along with grain dishes.

Twice a day the chicks would be inspected to be sure they were not piling up on each other in an effort to keep warm. it seemed like no time before they were judged old enough—mostly fledged out—to move into the chicken coop.

I don’t remember closing the door to the coop every evening nor do I remember our Border collie doing much to chase them around—they did not herd well so after a few futile attempts he left them alone except when they approached his food bowl.

My Dad did not like chickens—except when they appeared on his dinner plate. But that required butchering—and it was a group project–defeathering, burning off the pin feathers and then cutting them up—we would do about twenty five or so at a time—and it took the better part of a day—and that night we always had hamburger–never chicken.

A few were allowed to over winter to provide eggs; my grandmother who lived in town also had a half dozen chickens–and periodically would deem one for the stew pot—she made the best chicken and dumplings.

We had a brief foray into keeping chickens—they do not tend to be smart about staying in their assigned area or watching out for hawks. They also tend to subject to ‘vapors’.

But one of my nieces has several varieties of chickens and turkeys and guineas and geese—-so many feathers every where and a great deal of squawking and running about.

I would have more photos but I had not emptied the only SD card I had that day—so you will have to be happy with just the one.