It has been awhile since I have written a bit but I have not been idle.
It is prime honey bee season and the bees need attention this time of year. We now have 7 hives. Husband has been doing the majority of work with them as he is still in town; having a few medical issues to deal with before he heads to the great Northern expanse and much cooler weather.
However, I have been working on quilting up a few things while letting my eyes rest from my latest art project.
This is a small quilt my mother pieced many years ago. It has fussy cut animals in some of the squares; all of them oriented in the same position. (I would not have been so careful).
It has now been bound and after a viewing at the local quilt guild will be shipped off to one of my mother’s great-grandchildren–numbering 7 at this time. There are still a few more pieces of hers to work through destined for those great-grandchildren and I still have three grandchildren quilt tops to go—there were 17 of those!
I should have looked back–I did show these photos in April; however, it is now bound and labeled and ready to ship….
My grandmother was a practical woman and I adored her. I remember her as always laughing despite a life that was full of hard work, scrimping, and managing on next to nothing. She never balked at doing work; work that might have been done by someone else or in her time, a male.
Grandma raised cucumbers for the pickle factory and she was in charge of the cucumber sorting. The bins were on the side wall of an empty bay in the fire engine’s garage. That bay still housed the canning equipment from World War II on the back wall; Grandma had run that in those times. She also repaired sewing machines and had the contract to cut grass and otherwise maintain two local cemeteries.
Although her older sister made quilts for a living at a $1 a spool, Grandma made quilts for beds to keep warm. My first quilt was one she made for me–strips sewn together for a central panel, and then circled round with strips, bound in purple, with an old wool blanket as batting, and tied with red yarn.
When my mother died, I was left with all of the quilt tops and parts and pieces and fabrics and the carefully rolled up leftovers from dresses, skirts, and blouses. This top was made from many of those rolled up scraps as I recognize some of the fabrics but many others I do not—and the combinations are so colorful, I know they are the ones my Grandmother made on her old Singer treadle–bought by my Grandfather when she was expecting her first baby–my aunt—-in those days, according to my grandfather, even the women did not talk about babies and he took a lot of grief from his parents for being so extravagant as to buy a sewing machine.
Traditional quilts were made from scraps; scraps from dresses and aprons and blouses and shirts. Ready-made clothing bought in stores was expensive, custom-made clothing accommodating longer arms or any body shape other than what was considered ‘normal’ was just not available.
And then there were the people who had lived through the Great Depression where nothing was wasted.
My grandmother was one who was frugal; my aunt remembered her wedding cake as being very small due to rationing during World War II. Both of these ladies sewed; my grandmother repaired sewing machines in the day when sewing machines were not portable and women did not have men in their homes without their husbands being present.
My mother also sewed and she and her friend taught me and her friend’s daughter-Judy- sewing for a 4-H project. I still have that first project–a brown print apron. We learned to cut out dresses and blouses from cotton prints–polyester was just arriving in the stores, and saved all the scraps, rolling them up into little bundles and either tying them with a bit of selvedge or using a straight pin. These little bundles were then tossed into a bin; the idea was that these could be used to patch or repair–and of course rarely if ever were used for that purpose.
The quilt top I am working on now was pieced by my grandmother. There are fabrics in there that my mother must have given her–as I recognize two fabrics that were dresses I made for my first year in college; and dresses I remember my mother wearing–she liked black and white and gray fabrics.
This is a simple pattern; my grandmother loved vivid colors and assembled this top in her later years–still loving color and wild combinations. She bordered it with a bright kelly green to make it big enough for a bed. She had made me a quilt when I was 8–bordered in purple and tied with red yarn; the ‘batting’ was an old wool blanket; it was heavy and warm..a good thing for a Wisconsin winter in a home heated with a single pot-bellied stove.
And so I work on this quilt top, remembering my grandmother and my mother and our careful saving of all those scraps.
Tyrell Park is on the south side of Beaumont and has the typical features of a park; picnic tables, picnic shelters with grills, restrooms, and plenty of green grass and trees. There is also a golf course, greenhouses, formal gardens suitable for special occasion photographs such as graduations, quincinaras, engagements, weddings, and a riding stable.
But the best part–for me–is the Cat Tail Marsh.
It is huge and I’ve never walked all the way around it.
And every time I go, I take a gazillion photos of the birds.
Most of them catch the bird in not so elegant poses–sort of like taking a family portrait at the dinner table–forks looking like they are stuck on someone’s nose, mouths open, hands reaching, and so forth. But with people, you can ask them to stop and say ‘cheese’ but birds aren’t interested in their image recorded for posterity or looking their best with their hair combed and without spinach in their teeth.
So I toss a lot of photographs.
And then sometimes I catch one that reminds me of home.
Gray skies did not look promising for bird watching or photography. But we headed out to Tyrell Park armed with a box of donut holes from Dunkin Donuts. We each enjoyed a cup of coffee while chatting with the Visitor’s Bureau representative; and picked up a map of local bird preserves.
We could hear birds as they floated about searching for their breakfast. I thought we heard alligators but Husband Glen decided it was a bull frog.
Walking along the levees, dodging a few potholes, noting the primroses in bloom, and thinking about where we could put a few beehives. There are plans for a garden for pollinators in the future.
A few sprinkles fell on us as we got back into my truck—a good way to begin a day–good coffee, conversation, donuts, and a walk. And seeing a Great Blue Heron–reminding us both of our days in Potosi Wisconsin.
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.