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Posts from the ‘Home and Children’ Category

Pink Snow Season

peony20snow-mEvery year around this time I see pink snow.

Until this year I thought it was a Southeast Texas phenomenon. Our house is surrounded by hundred year old crepe myrtles in pink and purple. The trees grow rapidly in rainy weather, shedding their bark in huge strips that drape like strangely colored icicles from their branches.

The blossoms drip nectar constantly and fall to the ground creating the illusion of pink snow. Perhaps people raised in the south call it something different—but to me—it is pink snow.

And then I discovered pink snow in Wisconsin.

My mother loved peonies–she pronounced it ‘piney’s’ as rhyming with pine. There are several planted around the farm-house and at my friend’s house–in pink and white. After a hard rain, the petals fall.

Peonies require the assistance of ants to open their blossoms–a requirement that I always found rather odd.pink20peony-mimg_8238-mcreoe20myrtle-mcm20close20up-m


Sweet kiss of the South

magnolia20blossom-mLive oaks line our neighborhood streets; magnolia trees are in many yards. They are tall elegant trees with leathery leaves perfect for arrangements and huge blossoms. Until I lived in this part of Texas and worked for the former Magnolia Oil Company—that became Mobil and now is Exxon-Mobil—and yes there are several large magnolia trees in front of their office building at the refinery,….I never knew that the smell of those blossoms was so pervasive and sweet.

The flowers are short-lived but the tree blooms for several weeks.magnolia20blossom20petal-m

I have a tree in my backyard that was a favorite tree-climber by my three sons—and a tree in front of my shop where my quilting machine and my apiary live. The tree in the backyard has bloomed every year; dropping pine-cone like seed pods. The tree at the shop just started blooming—the blossoms as large as dinner plates but only lasting a day.

And then there’s the wisteria and the honeysuckle—so much nicer than the smell of pulpwood processing.


Saying Good-bye

glen20at20headstone-mMy mother-in-law died last October in her late 90’s. She had been living first in Georgia and then in Virginia with one of her two daughters. Her burial was planned for June next to her husband as that was a time when her children could gather for the internment…. June in Wisconsin is pleasant—late October not always.

A nephew…a preacher as my parents would have called him—printed up a program and conducted the service at grave-side. There were six siblings with assorted spouses, five grand-children and five great-grandchildren, and an additional nephew and his wife. The greats all ran about with the grands chasing them from time to time; group pictures were taken of different categories—all the siblings and spouses, all the grandchildren—the greats would have been nice but herding squirrels is a much easier project.

grandchildren20complete-mAll present were offered the opportunity to offer a memory—each one different—the memories involved both parents. The group sang two verses of a song a cappella quite credibly thanks to several former college choir and current church choir members.

Afterward we all convened to a local park for a picnic style meal gathered from a local grocery store. All of us had driven around town and managed to attempt to drive on the bicycle/ATV trail through the city—all of us avoiding a big fat ticket from the local cops—as one kind gentlemen who waved us off the trail noted.

twining20park-mgreat20grand20girls20with20ivy20smiling-mgreat20grandboys-mThe greats ran about the park, chasing ducks with the grands or their grandparents chasing them from time to time. Many photos were taken, catching up on family circumstances—and too soon it was time for us to head back to the farm.

As a mother-in-law myself, I find it a challenging position. I frequently asked her for advice on dealing with daughters-in-law—and her words were always succinct—love the daughter-n-law like I loved the son. I always felt I was being measured and falling short—as I’m sure my two daughters-in-law feel as well. I want my sons to be loved, cherished, and admonished when they need to be.

I remember a time when she came to visit and announced she would clean the kitchen for me—I came home to a sink full of dishes, the floor not swept but the dryer’s face panel sparkling. She came to help me after my youngest was born—I came home from work to find the baby stuffed  in a onesie with his feet on backward—And then there was the time I handed her a plate with her supper on it—with the meat and vegetables all cut up into toddler sized pieces along with half a glass of water—she looked surprised but never said a word about it.

Like most of us, at times she was not easy to live with or around—but I never heard her complain about her hearing loss or her blindness which isolated her from the world.

I have one living elderly relative—an aunt on my mother-s side. She lives on her own with her two sons and daughters-in-law checking on her daily.

Honoring mother and father must extend to aunts and uncles and in-laws—that commandment needs to be rewritten.

I wished I had taken photos of the picnic on Sunday but I didn’t–here are a few more photos taken on Saturday;




Hitting the Sweet Spot

img_8344-mOfficer Meadows opened the passenger door of my truck and asked me if I was okay. He thought I had been driving slowly and touched the white line several times. Had I been drinking?

Just water.

It was one of those roads paved in sections, patched many times. With my wheelbase  and suspension, I was bounced all over the road. I tried driving closer to the center line, closer to the edge, slower, faster—trying to find the sweet spot in that road that wasn’t going to bounce my back all around.

We chatted a bit about where I was going and why did I live in Texas when I had a farm in Wisconsin. I told him I was taking a box of bees to the farm—and he said his uncle had thirty hives and they frequently harvested honey without protective gear. I was relieved—he knew not to swat at the bees—the fastest way to make them mad and sting—and maybe a mass exodus from the box.

Like life, though, there was no sweet spot—just drive straight on through. Maybe a stop or two for some pleasant conversation with a nice young man.

A little bit of Eden

We have had rain for several days now..pouring rain..with water over the driveway up to 8 inches and many places flooding…schools closing due to the rain. So I like to look through my photos and pick out something fun to share.

mf20garden2011-mAbout a block away from my house is the McFadden-Ward House Museum. The house is huge, the carriage house is across the street and then there are several other buildings associated with the Museum. And tucked away behind the building that stores much of the objects not on display is a tiny little garden.mfw20garden205-m

There are several prospering tomato plants, a huge dill plant, marigolds, and zinnias.mfw20garden204-m

Whenever my life seems a bit hectic, I like to stop and wander–all eight feet of it to gaze at the flowers–and sometimes I am greeted but more often I have to content myself with just a glimpse of the guardian of this universe.mfw20garden207-m




On the Dole

No photos today.

Just a few words about disability seekers.

One of my ‘jobs’ is doing disability assessments for Social Security. Applicants are scheduled every fifteen minutes from 8 AM until 6PM. There is a four page summary to be completed and sometimes medical records to be reviewed. Then I must dictate a summary and my impression of the claimed disability and the applicant’s ability to do work.

It is a very good thing that I do not do this on a regular basis as it is very depressing.

There are people who claim regular health issues as disability such as elevated cholesterol. Some people want disability so they can get health insurance—-ObamaCare not being helpful. Some people want disability for health problems they did not take care of with simple measures such as exercising more and eating less—a lot less. Some might have their problem fixed with surgery but refuse to do so because they ‘heard it didn’t work’.

At what point does society need to provide for people that refuse to care for themselves?  Some of these don’t like their job–but given the opportunity for an education frittered it away.

Then there are the scammers…some are pretty funny—the woman who claimed she couldn’t get around without her walker–folded it up  as she exited the building and walked briskly across to her car–walker folded over her arm…..or the woman who claimed she could not raise her hands above her shoulders but yet had expertly applied makeup and a fancy hairdo that she proudly claimed she did by herself.

I will have another round of disability exams to complete later this month–but I tie it onto some sight seeing photography adventures. I don’t make the final determination in these claims–and never know how they turn out.

I just need to focus on the photo-ops coming up–


Another Buzzy Day

Inspecting bee hives is part of being a responsible beekeeper. Unfortunately the best time of day to accomplish this task is mid-day—a lot of the bees are out gathering nectar and therefore–not at home. I wear a full suit, leather shoes, gloves and come equipped with a lit smoker and a wagon full of boxes and empty frames.

I now have four active hives–the original from a friend who did a removal on an old lady’s house, a hive from my class–the mean girls–gosh they are mean–they follow me around and pop at my gloves and veil—then there are two new hives with Winnie queens–nice and easy going bees.

hive20four-mHive Four was first–the single box was FULL of bees–so added a second story–easy peasy.

Hive Three must be lazy girls as there didn’t seem to be much more done than 10 days ago.

hive20one-mHive One had a lot of bees on the outside–were they thinking of swarming? Not sure–but took two frames of capped brood to put in a nuc (baby Hive) to give that lovely lady queen more room.

The Nuc I had split from Hive 2 was a no-go–and I can’t say I was sorry–that queen and her bevy of girls are just plain mean. So I put the two frames of capped brood in, closed the door allowing ventilation and put it on the picnic table.

Then I gathered up my courage and ventured into Hive Two. It has two deep boxes which are supposed to be the brood chambers-where all the eggs and baby bees are—but those mean girls were storing honey in there–lots and lots of honey–but only one frame was capped. Took that frame out, replaced with an empty frame.

Those mean girls were not happy I stole their honey–I had to walk around the yard for about fifteen minutes in my beesuit with them popping me periodically–mostly on my gloves. I’m sure the passing cars and trucks wondered what was going on.

Then I came home, processed that cut-comb into boxes–it’s easier to do when everything is warm. Also managed to strain some honey into the honey bucket. There is wax to be processed using the cute little crockpot–and maybe some batiking to happen next weekend.

All of this sounds quite technical–and no doubt indicates some of my level of understanding of how hives work–and probably more than anyone really wants to know about bees.

However, I find them infinitely fascinating–to watch, to see the various personalities of each hive. And there’s just something wonderful about fresh bread topped with fresh cut-comb honey.


Leavings and Fives

five20inch20patch-sYesterday I wrote about the Happy Scrappers and the previous year’s block exchanges. This year is supposed to be an ‘off’ year in which we tackle putting together those previous exchanges into a completed quilt–quilted, bound, and labeled.

Earlier this week I completed the top of triangles; trying hard to use them all and being mostly successful.

But then there were the five or maybe it was six inch colored squares we exchanged with the idea of using them in applique–something I don’t do very often and only more often than paper-piecing. So I took all those squares, turned them into 9 patches and trimmed away to make them all uniform size–so much easier to sew together.

The leavings pile got quite large and I had to clear it off my table three times before I finished.leavings-s

Wish I could figure out something wonderful to with this pile—but into the trash it went—I’ve tried putting it out for the birds to make their nests–but pigeons put a few sticks in a crotch of a tree and call it done–while the cardinals are quite secretive about their whereabouts–and I guess the mocking birds do something but have yet to see their home sweet homes.

Mending Fences

“You have those two friendly black dogs, don’t you? I saw them running down the street and they ran back through the gate at the end of your fence.”

I hoped they were not my two black dogs. I must have looked worried.

She quickly remarked–I”m not the Animal Control Officer,  I’m just here to do a survey of people living in this neighborhood.

After a few questions about how many people lived in this house–just the two of us and neither of us fitting the description of ‘children’ by chronology–maybe by thoughts and occasionally actions–cake for breakfast? Why not! any ice cream to go with that?

An inspection of the fence was in order.out-m

And there it was. A spot that they loved to peer under the fence to stare at the garbage truck rumbling down the street; barking furiously as it picks up our garbage can and sets it back down–and assorted passerbys…all needing notification that ‘there be dogs here’.

Off to Lowe’s to pick up some fencing materials. The wire had been a previous addition to prevent escapes. Now I needed to do something.

It isn’t pretty but it is all on the inside toward us. But first I had to chop away at the fallen crepe myrtle so that I could get to the fence without climbing through branches. I did plenty of that in my younger years when we canoed the Kickapoo and had to crawl through trees that were dangling over and in the river.


And yes, those are nails–not screws. I do know how to use a drill and I even know where it is–but holding up that board while pushing on a drill was just not something I could manage. Now that the board is in place, I can put some screws in–when the dogs aren’t there to help me.

While I was mending the fence–something I end up doing nearly every summer–Border Collies can be very creative in finding ways out–to go check out the neighbors’ garbage–they throw away the best treats–turkey legs and pre-gnawed ribs, I thought about how mending that fence might be a lot like mending relationships—finding a problem, figuring out a method of repair, gathering the tools and supplies that fit one’s skill set; applying the solution–imperfect but yet does the job.

Until they find another way out of the yard!



Buzzing Around

My earliest memories of honey was the block of honeycomb dripping with honey that sat at my grandfather’s place at the kitchen table. We were never allowed to have any while he was there but when he was on his accounting trips for the State of Wisconsin, Grandma let us have whatever we wanted–including sampling that honey.

Since that time I thought it would be fun/cool/interesting/challenging to raise bees–or more realistically manage a hive or two.

working20beeyard-mOne year for my birthday I got a complete bee suit with gloves; I ordered a bee hive and then we waited for the bees to arrive. Nothing happened until I noticed bees flying in and out of the corner of my shop out in the country. I attended local bee keeping meetings and i was advised to wait until spring to remove them.

Wow–what a challenge that turned out to be! We lit the smoker, suited up–horribly hot in the upstairs of a tin roof building; cut open the wall and faced thousands of bees–none of whom were happy to see us. We plunked as much of that comb and bees into a waiting box.

That did not work very well–but we did seal up the outside of the building.

Then a good friend told us he had done a recovery and would we want those bees. Of course we said YES!!!

work20bees-mAnd so I had one hive. We carefully transferred it to a larger box and then added and added and I had a honey harvest the first year.

Second Year–the year of intermittent floods and heat in which we tried to do a split several times, successful once–and the hive moved to the chicken yard—where it was slimed out in just one month. The other hive succumbed to wax moths–and I was left with just the one hive.

I had also signed up for a beginning beekeeping class and had a school hive to manage and bring home to my apiary–duly registered with the State of Texas. Those bees tend to be a bit testy and we are seriously considering requeening to a nicer lady. Sometimes they seem to have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed–while the first hive is always calm but interested.

We have two big hives and starting to add to our flock-herd-group-not sure what several hives are called–maybe a Buzz?final20beeyard-m

And for those of you who notice such things–yes, I did have a piece of dirt on my camera lens which has now been cleaned.glen20in20bee20yard-m