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Posts from the ‘Home and Children’ Category

Shoveling Sand

view20of20the20river-mSomehow 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.

sand20in20the20air-mOur 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.working20the20trails-m

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.acorns20and20acorn20caps-m

A few more photos of the day are here:

Favorite Photo of the Year

Sylvia Weir Week 52 Favorite Photo of the yearThe 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.

Picnic time

picnic20trees-MMy 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.

Something I don’t miss

sun20is20definately20up-MThis 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.

First Day Hike

IMG_0452-MAfter 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:



Sunday Dresses and Every Day Aprons

My mother, like many women of the time, made most of her dresses, blouses, and aprons. Carefully the pattern pieces were laid out, the pieces cut–sometimes with a pinking shears as most of the fabrics were cotton and raveled in the wash. The garment pieces were then placed near the sewing machine–and the leftover fabric was rolled up and fastened with either a piece of selvedge or a straight pin. Mom tossed hers into a large cardboard box at the bottom of her wardrobe—closets being a luxury the farmhouse did not possess.

As the sewer and the daughter, I inherited all these little bundles. The straight pins had rusted and it was a chore to pull them out and iron flat all those scraps.

This is the quilt I made from all of those scraps–I still have some of the fabric left.

It was chosen for a special exhibit at the Quilt Museum in LaGrange Texas and then in the Quilt Festival in Houston. I was surprised and pleased to learn someone bought this quilt.

Now I have the memories and this photo of me standing next to it in Houston.IMG_9135-M


Yesterday I wrote about endings—finding bits and pieces in the refrigerator and freezer to make a meal.

jim20with20Oliver-MToday is about the wonderful day on Saturday–the baptism of my youngest grand-son.

He was decked out in a tiny white tux and wiggled during most of the ceremony. He was not enthusiastic about the water part and afterward he needed a nice long nap.baptism-M

As guest of honor at the reception afterwards he loved playing with the balloons, sending them upward into the cathedral ceiling of his home—with uncle and cousin fetching them from the ceiling—cousin held by uncle with arm outreached to pull the end of the balloon towards earth.

It was a wonderful day–filled with family and good food and smiles and laughter.


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.