The south side of Beaumont features a tertiary water treatment area maintained as a wildlife/bird refuge called CatTail Marsh. It is 950 acres of water and marsh and reeds and alligators and frogs and birds. And now there is a lovely overlook with Seaport Coffee offered on Tuesday mornings.
We drove out expecting to see some of the 40 people who had expressed interest–but met only about four or five. Glen helped put together a coffee stand for the station; and we watched cement parking lot stations being fastened in the parking lot. It was cloudy and promised rain; not a lot of birds were out.
I did capture the red-winged blackbird—a reminder of my home in southwestern Wisconsin.
We picked up a brochure and map labeling all the birding sites in the area—a new project for us–that sounds like fun–if only the dogs would behave for such a project.
And then we were gifted with a plushie Northern flicker and a bluebird–each with their song playing when pressing a button on their back. AND learned of an education program featuring looking at the birds to earn a plushie. We are a tad too old to participate but hopefully this will be a fun grandchild thing.
No peanuts or crackerjacks. But the grandchildren ate hot dogs.
And Grandson #2 made a home run!
Grandpa played finger tag with Grand-daughter #2.
We visited around the tail gate of my truck as Grand-daughter #1 got an early birthday present of a doll’s tea set; Grandson#2 got a Golden Gator commemorative baseball glove, and Granddaughter#2 fell asleep on the way home with other grandparents.
A good day!
My mother took up quilting in her middle years, making a hand-pieced/appliqued and hand-quilted quilt for each of her six children. Then she made quilt tops for each of her 18 or so grand-children, leaving them to me to quilt for her and gift on the occasion of their wedding.
I have been working away at this project and have three left to quilt, two are quilted and ready.
But then there are the bits and pieces and the pieces she made for fun.
This is an Irish chain with fussy cut farm animals. I finished quilting it yesterday. It will go a great-grandchild–I am a few behind on that project–four at present….and two step-grandchildren. And I didn’t include my five.
She left plenty of fabric and lots of starts.
Every morning–except Sunday I sit and do the daily crossword puzzle and the Seven Little Word Scramble. My day just doesn’t seem complete or ready to begin until I do. Unless the clues in the Seven Little Words include names of celebrities I don’t know, I can run through it fairly quickly.
But then on Saturday, there was a stumper—-a funnel shaped strainer used in cooking.
I had one of those. It was my mother’s. She used it to strain elderberries to make jelly; and tomatoes to make tomato juice. It has a metal stand and a wooden pestle. It was our job to squish the tomatoes or the berries–although the elderberries had an additional muslin sleeve as the seeds were quite small. I used it to strain my very first batch of honey.
And then double or triple disaster—there were two celebrity names as clues–one was Tevye’s oldest daughter’s name–I could look that one up but then there was the last name of someone I didn’t know.
I had to wait until yesterday morning to find out.
Chinois—taken from the French word for China–and represents the cone shaped hats they wear in the fields.
So while I was waiting anxiously to find out the proper name for that funnel shaped thing we called a strainer, I worked on some donation blocks and three donation quilts for a quilt guild and a local charity.
The workmanship on these quilt tops was not perfect; not even mediocre in some–but they are now ready to be handed out.
I did the best I could with these tops–perhaps I should have dismantled them, tossed out the poor quality fabric, replaced with nice fabric–but then the gift of the original giver would be diminished.
And after I finished those tops, I bound a piece inspired by a painting by Gustave Caillebrote named ‘The Orange Trees’.
No-one likes to find pins in random places they shouldn’t be.
A good reason to always wear shoes.
But then there are the pincushions that seem to accumulate.
The red tomato with its tiny strawberry filled with sand to sharpen and remove rust from needles is the type I grew up with. Then there is the small black velvet one sewn carefully around the head of my grandmother’s vintage shuttle sewing machine.
I keep most of my pins in tins–and a magnetic holder from Harbor Freight. But I do enjoy the fancy pincushions too.
The blue one was made for my by my dear friend for Christmas;
the green one was during a summer retreat and I filled it to the top with sand. You can’t see my thimbles hiding in the center.
This square one was given to me in church by a friend who found it among her things when moving…her husband had died and she was moving to smaller living quarters.
And this is a half doll I made by felting some wool roving around the empty plastic cone formerly holding thread. I don’t use it much–it seems to collect dust better than pins or needles but the pins don’t get lost in the interior.
I also have a couple of felted wool balls I pin to design boards when I am at a workshop or retreat where it seems I am jumping up and down every few minutes to pin or replace something. Figuring out a way to put that magnetic holder on the wall would be ideal but I’ll have to think on that problem for awhile.
Somehow January always flies by along with all of my good intentions. With the federal government in disarray we chose to do our First Day of the Year hike in Village Creek State Park. One of the trails had been re-opened after Harvey with extensive work by the rangers. We marveled at the amount of sand the river had deposited…one ranger told us that sand covered the trees and vegetation..almost like snow!
We learned that work days were planned for volunteers to come in and assist with getting the park back into visitor readiness. On the first Saturday of February, a group of about ten folks arrived with work gloves and ready to work.
Our job was to smooth out one trail and to reclaim two picnic sites. The flooding had deposited 6 to 12 inches of lovely white…and HEAVY sand on two of the sites. We shoveled and raked and hauled sand for three hours….I did some shoveling and raking–but spent more time taking photos until I filled up my card.
The two rangers worked along with us–putting as much if not more effort into the project. We offered all sorts of suggestions of needed equipment and wished TxDOT would repair the bridge soon–easier and safer for needed equipment to drive over a bridge that doesn’t have a huge hole underneath..but the state moves slowly.
But then, the quiet and stillness of just a few people shuffling through the sand and no engines, just the wind whispering in the tree tops, the hawk soaring overhead….maybe it is just fine that the bridge is low on their to-do list.
A few more photos of the day are here: https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/Texas/Village-Creek-State-Park/i-gvZs9Ns/A
The last week’s photo assignment was to look through all our photos for the year and choose my favorite—this is not easy–I have hundreds of photos and of course the last ones are always the one closest in mind.
I picked this particular photo of my youngest grandson, his father–my son—and his mother at his baptism. This little boy apparently has many traits of his father–mischievousness and a winning smile.
He is not verbal yet—he hears both Spanish and English–hard to sort those two languages out but he does know how to holler quite loudly—this grandma’s pig calling voice. And he likes to hide in places creating an atmosphere of posse hunting at intervals during the day.
Although he desperately wished to escape and explore all the secret closets and spaces in this lovely church, his father kept him firmly corralled.
My job involves some driving–sometimes quite a bit.
Texas seems to have a lot of very nice rest stops—with the buildings almost like museums with information about the area; nice picnic tables with grills and sidewalks to stretch legs. The semi truck drivers walk along those sidewalks as do I. Some of them have small dogs with them to keep them company on the long hauls.
Toby and Dora are not good traveling companions. Dora does not like people and will sit down abruptly and refuse to move if she spots a clump of people. Toby wants to greet them all–and would willing run the entire length of the rest area without a leash—investigating all the trash cans–someone may have thrown away a perfectly good half-eaten turkey leg….but she returns at her own pleasure–not at ours.
Dora also feels it is required to identify every person who is on a skateboard, bicycle, or just walking–as imminent threats to us—and we must not have seen them–so she alerts us to their presence.
This trip is by myself–with the radio and a small packed lunch to eat at a rest stop along the way.
This photo was taken while I was in Colorado in November.
Snow is lovely to look at.
The sound of falling snow is peaceful.
Sun glistening off the snow and the treetops covered with snow is beautiful.
Everything looks clean and fresh.
But then there is the shoveling that must be done before you can go anywhere.
Getting stuck because you can’t see where the road ends and the ditch begins.
Snow on your feet means wet floors inside.
Lit fireplaces means ashes spewed from chimneys and blackened, grayed, dirty snow.
Sun means melting snow with cold nights means a coating of ice on everything.
About a week’s worth of snow is just about right.
Here my ‘snow’ comes in liquid form—and stays around just about as long as it does in Colorado. Being just 30 feet above sea level means the water does not go anywhere very fast.
Photos are a good way to remember and enjoy without getting cold or wet or falling on the ice.
After what seemed to be years of daily rain, dreary skies, and chilly winds, a day outdoors–anywhere—seemed like a great idea.
We scanned through the various offerings by Texas State Parks–Sea Rim looked fun–but then there was Village Creek. I had been as far as the front gate but never inside–and it was just twenty minutes away.
The sun came out and the day was pleasant enough in the sun and walking–standing and in the shade of all those pine trees it was a bit chilly.
A smallish group assembled and we walked through what we could. Hurricane Harvey had moved several bridges; tipped one on its side, took out the canoe landing and a road–and deposited a lot of sand in the picnic area–those ubiquitous gas grills were only inches above the sand when the waters receded.
Promises of a new road, a new canoe landing, a new bridge–all to be completed before next year’s first day hike—-and of course, a work day the first Saturday of each month.
More photos from the day are here: