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Posts from the ‘Home and Children’ Category

Picnic Point and Hammocks

img_6608-mReunions are always a fun event–even though you have to read everyone’s name tag to remember who they are—and it would have been nice if a larger font would have used for those of us with forty years under our belts.

The Medical School reunion is always scheduled around Homecoming Football game. While we lived in Madison and I went to Medical school there, we lived about three miles from the football stadium–people parked next to our house to walk in to see the game. Tickets were outside of our meager budget even though I got a reduce price and first chance at tickets due to graduate school status.

My wishes for the weekend were to see Vilas Park zoo–a favorite place during our stay there, and to walk out on Picnic Point.

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The zoo has changed considerably since we were there last. Each animal species has a special environment created for them. No longer do the bears sit on the haunches and wave at us begging for marshmallows or stale hamburger buns. The retired  Rhesus monkeys are no longer there–they used to live in a circular cage. The penguins are no longer corralled into a small cement wading pool parading around miserably in what must seem to them horribly hot weather.

img_6602-mone of the displays was this tundra with the immense tires with incredibly low tire pressure. We rode a much smaller vehicle on the marshes around Anahuac during a Christmas bird count after one of our hurricanes. Here is Glen pretending to drive.

Madison Wisconsin is a beautiful city situated around several lakes, Mendota being the largest. The campus is large and spread out with lovely little pocket gardens everywhere and lots of bicycle racks. There is almost no parking on campus so people ride the bus or bicycle or walk. img_6612-mWe walked to Picnic Point–there are Indian burial grounds now marked off from foot traffic.

img_6629-mA sailboat was out on the lake–losing a lot of wind and not managing their sails properly.

img_6627-mThe capitol was visible across the lake through the trees.

Walking about campus to the designated meeting area we noted a new trend—large hammocks slung from trees with students lounging about in them reading–reminiscent of a past trial of what I called our purple pea pod camping sleeping arrangement..

Walking back to Deljoje Hall, the location of the reunion, the marching band was practicing. I was not the only one to stop and watch the band perform.

 

Everyone seems to leave when I take their photo

img_6658-mAfter a morning of weeding and general garden cleanup and attacking weeds, we both decided a nice drive in the countryside would be nice and maybe some good photo ops.

We hopped in the car, my camera at the ready in my lap and off we went.

I didn’t get a photo of Hogback Ridge–it is immense and is a protected wildlife site. The hill sides are quite steep and the soil must be quite thin as only grass grows there–few if any trees–and those are all small shrubs. There were a few late blooming wild flowers in the meadows surrounding it. I’m not quite sure how I would have taken a photo–perhaps a panorama–not in my skill set although my camera says it can do it with ease.

Our goal was the Elk Farm. Along the way we spied two apiaries–and I had to get out and inspect one of them. Keeping bees in Wisconsin is challenging due to the lengthy and cold winters–but here were about twelve hives with bees busily flying in and out. Queen excluders were on each hive–they had two brood chambers and two medium supers for honey and a pitched roof for ventilation. The bottom doors were plugged and they had just a single hole in one of the brood chambers to exit and enter. Maybe next year we will be successful in catching a swarm.

However, our mission was that elk farm.

We spied a very high fence–and knew we were there. Parking on the side of the road, I attempted to get photos of the elk.The male–doesn’t he get a bad headache carrying that huge set of horns around–sat calmly watching us. The harem though was not so calm. One or two would look and then they all got up and walked away.

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More driving and I spotted some Canadian geese–the SandHill Cranes on the first corner were too far away for photos. We stopped and I took some photos–again–they waddled away as fast as they could go.img_6673-m

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Next was stop to photo some particularly colorful trees and sumac. The Asian beetles and box elder bugs were in abundance and took great delight in taking small nibbles of me. The leaves and sumac were pretty but not enough to compose really good photos.

We went back to the farm and put up plastic over windows for the winter–safe from the horde of biting bugs.

 

Pruning

ear20of20corn-mOne of the tasks I set myself on the farm each time I visit is dealing with the raspberry patch. Raspberries happen to be my favorite berry–although blackberries and strawberries are nice too. When my father was still living and I checked in on him after my mother’s death, he would pick raspberries for me each morning for my breakfast. Although this patch is not the same patch it still brings back good memories.

Last fall I cut back the grapevine that had invaded the berry patch and we installed one of the metal gates used in the calf pens in the barn as a support. I cut away all the raspberry shoots around it and carefully pruned only the bearing stalks on the part I wanted to preserve as raspberries.

Imagine my surprise when I found an abundant new growth of raspberries around the grape vine and only bearing stalks on the part I thought would be just raspberries. Plenty of raspberries on those stalks but only a few new stalks—they bear the second year==not the first year. And not one grape bunch!

Still I pruned away again and this time covered the ground with shovelfuls of composted oat husks from the grainary. Last fall I used corn stalks from the barn—still plenty of them to go.

more20of20plum20creek-mOnce at home I face the daunting task of pruning my photos–although I am taking fewer photos these days–it is hard to select the perfect few to upload and I tend to err on the side of too many versus only a select absolutely wonderful ones. I am sure I have repeats from previous years; my taste for imagery does not seem to change much. That may be a good thing–or limiting.

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Bacon in a Can

img_6440-mThe smell of bacon frying in the morning can only be surpassed by the aroma of freshly brewing coffee—–in my opinion. But then there is bacon in a can–guaranteed to be fresh for a very long time. After enduring four hurricanes here—Rita, Humberto, Ike, and now Harvey–a stock of canned goods is essential. Not sure about canned liquid coffee though–I like mine hot and undecorated—-and a spoon should stand up in it.  I have a gas cooktop and a French press so as long as I have water I can have hot coffee—and now even without power to run a refrigerator I can have bacon.

Memories

For many years I sat down with a pile of photos and clippings from the past year and put them in an album, remembering the year as I went and composing our annual Christmas letter. Those photos are slowly fading away and so we have undertaken the project of converting them to digital.

My mother-in-law’s house has been slowly sorted out and distributed; she is still living but in an assisted living home. We have been the recipients of boxes of books, linens, old letters, and now photographs. As I sort through them I can only think of all those people in our area who lost everything–including photos and mementos.

One of my nephews lost everything in a tragic fire—but being of the age he is–kept his photos electronically–and so many of the memories are still there.

This photo is of my middle son proudly mounted on ‘Smokey’ the best horse ever on his first riding at Estes Park YMCA in Colorado.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Harvey Cleanup and Repair

Our city seems to be slowly recovering but there are many who are still displaced and wondering where they will go next. On the other hand some of us are using this time to do some much needed repairs.

I have some property out of town which used to house my sewing machine business, now it houses my bee hive and bee equipment plus a lot of my sewing/fabric playtoys including Vivian my Gamill.

img_6418-mYesterday husband repaired the front eave on the porch. Just tearing down the eave which was hanging by one end and prompted a passerby to leave me a sign saying that he bought dilapidated houses made it look much improved., Replacling the rotten boards–probably because of clogging up of the drain spout from the cedar tree that lived there until Rita. Guess I should clarify–that was Hurricane Rita–followed by Humberto and then Ike in this area, not to mention tropical storm Allison and other assorted near storms with downpours of up to ten inches of rain in a day.

We had already repaired the shed roof–which houses the bee equipment; ran the lawn mower around, I picked up a lot of dead branches, and we checked on the bees. I am down to just one hive now–and there is an abundance of ants. The oil trap seems to be working well with a few hive beetles and a lot of ants.

While he worked on that eave, I worked on this community service quilt. I must confess I am accustomed to my own piecing–which–not to brag–well, okay bragging some–does not have ruffly edges. This top was beautifully pieced in the center but the borders were too long and so it ruffled. To compound the problem, the backing was just barely big enough. When I trimmed it afterward, I had mere slivers of backing to remove. It may have been my inexperience as a longarm quilter but it was definitely a challenge.img_6423-m

And yes, that is my attempt at free-form feathers. I think I need to stick to pantographs.

 

Now back to my own work–I still have a backlog to complete.

 

Handling Harvey and Eying Irma

On Sunday the sermon was about our ‘new normal’. That normal changes from day to day and sometimes hour to hour. We were without tap water for about two days and then it was a trickle and intermittent. Exxon Mobil and two other companies teamed up despite dealing with their own plant issues to provide a temporary water supply for us–not potable–but enough to flush toilets. Now we have one of our permanent pumps back in action and we are just waiting for the water quality to be approved.

Long lines are still everywhere–lining up for water, free hot meals. Some places are still flooded, other areas have been removing carpet and drywall and the stench reaches through my vehicle. One post office open and the UPS main office is overwhelmed by people who have received notices their package has been delivered but things are still stuck in Houston.

For several days we were blocked in by flooded roadways—not just me in my neighborhood but the entire city. Before that we were trapped by the incredible downpour–at first logged at 52 inches—our annual rainfall is 54 inches–and now some reports are that it was closer to 64 inches. Travel is possible but very congested.

After Hurricanes Rita and Ike, the sound in the evening hours was chainsaws. Now we hear helicopters of every variety flying overhead from early in the morning until late at night. Some area are still flooded with restoration of water and power not possible.

In some respects the city looks much the same–but then there are some traffic lights that are not functional, the few stores that are open have limited hours, a few restaurants are open with limited menus but more are closed with empty parking lots. All our ‘normal’ busyness of running this or that errand, picking up this, shopping for a card or skein of yarn for a project, making an appointment are things to be considered as a ‘do later’ or ‘do I really need this’ mode.

Irma and Jose are still very much on our minds, hoping they will not come here but feeling a bit guilty for wishing them to go elsewhere—not that our hopes or wishes have much to do with meteorological influences.

In the midst of all of this, though, I found two of my orchids blooming. another20orchid20in20bloom-morchid20in20bloom-m

 

 

A la Rocky

This week’s photo assignment was to emulate on of my classmate’s style of lots of texture and alterations in original photos.

After nearly a week indoors due to Harvey and the Noah’s Ark rainfall—I can’t imagine poor Mrs. Noah with that menagerie–trying to feed them all and clean up after them while Noah and his sons sat around playing video games and watching baseball on TV. I’m sure she was the one that told Noah he had to see what was going on out there and let some fresh air into that boat.

But I digress.

Sun shone two days ago and so I wandered out around our neighborhood, camera in hand and spied several palm branches on a vacant lot. I had to step carefully as there was still a lot of water everywhere and took several photos.

Needing a break from the barrage of harrowing water rescues, lost and found puppies, missing uncles, and low water pressure, I decided to play around with one of the images. This can occupy anyone’s time for hours on end. Planning to go out sometime today to check on my property elsewhere and hoping the solar gate has recharged itself, I uploaded this photo as my assignment for the week.

Sylvia Weir altered photo

Tadpoles in the Toilet

My preparations for any hurricane begin in May with the purchase of bottled water, filling up gas cans for lawn mowing, buying non-perishable food stuffs, filling up fuel tank on vehicle, and getting all my prescriptions filled. This is much like preparing for a blizzard in my native Wisconsin but here in Texas we do not have to worry about being cold.

No-one expected Harvey to turn into a sub-tropical storm. We were all prepared for a lot of rain but not 50 inches. We were supposed to be on the ‘clean’ side but Harvey bounced back into the Gulf and became subtropical wich meant our side was the ‘dirty’ side….sheets of water in bands for days. Rain started on Thursday, continued on Friday and then Saturday afternoon became very heavy. Due to the rain I was in my house until Wednesday afternoon–and then in a slicker jacket and snake boots getting soaked.

Toby and Dora–our two rescue puppies and Border collie mixes were very confused–not sure if it was day or night and neither one wanting to get their little tushies wet while taking care of business.

I had power, water, and phone/internet service (amazing for the internet as it is spotty on good days). I don’t have cable so not a lot of updates with the exception of Facebook entries.

The roads in and out of Beaumont are closed–so I truly cannot go anywhere and due to some of the neighbors I have here–reluctant to leave due to the looting probability.

I started hearing helicopters flying overhead very low on Wednesday when it was still raining heavily. Yesterday I heard them all day long–very low over my house—one of our hospitals is being evacuated.

I also woke up to no water in the taps, diminishing selections of food in my pantry, and desperately no more dog treats. Dog Food but no treats for two very spoiled dogs. Fortunately they think pond water is great drinking water especially since it is now full of tadpoles which they can chase about while I fill a bucket to flush my toilets.

Water and supplies are supposed to be on their way but the lines are very long and there is no estimate as to when we will have water again. The Neches River has not crested yet and the estimate thus far is feet above record–not inches. And that is where we draw our water from–those pumps are under water and the wells in the northern part of town are under water and failed as well.

Fortunately, the drainage system put in has worked really well–I had water to the curb several times but the parts of the neighborhood that always flood badly did not.

I don’t have photos of flooding but you can see how close the helicopters are flying over my house–and it is a steady procession from 6 in the morning until 8 at night.

For now, I am safe and dry and with some supplies—hauling water from the garden pond to flush the toilet is not my favorite task—and I wonder how long it takes tadpoles to become toads.

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here is my house..looks like a mansion doesn’t it–two stories with ten foot ceilings on both floors.

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All the lovebugs have been washed on the grill of my truck–it was covered!

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this is looking west toward one of the hospitals. We are in the flight path of Medivac flights but they are rarely this low. Lots of helicopters flying overhead–Coast Guard, National Guard and probably many others–I don’t know types of helicopters well enough to identify all but I could have stood outside all day long taking photos of them.

More photos of helicopters if you are intrigued by them here: https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/HouseinBeaumont/Hurricane-Harvey/i-sJ67m9j/A

Eclipsing the Sun with Froot Loops and Rice Krispies

Viewing the solar eclipse has been on my calendar for several months and the only concern was figuring out where I was going to be. I thought of going to Wyoming or even Oklahoma where one small town set up a chicken coop in the center of town so people could watch the chickens roost. But then I had to work and the dogs would not be particularly interested in a long drive nor hanging around while we stared at the sky with our special glasses.

My oldest son is a professor at Texas Weslayan University in Fort Worth Texas–a mere five hour drive from here. I called him and asked what he was doing–he thought he would drive to St. Louis but then decided it would not be good to miss the first day of class. He talked it over with the professor of Physics and they decided to put together an event—in just three weeks. The library director also assisted in the project.

Husband decided to drive down from Wisconsin and I drove from home—and we met at his house–still unfurnished and getting painted before getting the floors done and his furniture moved in—his dog, Rosie, met me with great enthusiasm–she is still a puppy at 18 months–and did a lot of mouthing–I had to have bandaids so I wouldn’t drip on the really ugly carpeting that Rosie would then chew up.

Monday was bright, sunny, and clear with a bit of a breeze. We were assigned the task of making pinhole cameras from cereal boxes–a scramble to find aluminum foil, and pins in an office building but secretary there was quite resourceful. Mike made a point of pointing out the cheap project to his education majors.

Here is Glen working on a pinhole camera from a Froot Loop Cereal Box1-20glen20making20pinhole20camera20from20cereal20boxes-m

We proceeded out to the quad where I practiced using the camera so I could demonstrate–we took pictures through the eyepiece–a bit of a challenge, I tried a solar dye on paper–but there was too much ambient light–and took photos of the eclipse shining through the leaves of a tree on the nearby sidewalk. About six hundred pairs of eclips glasses were handed out–I shared mine with dozens of people. Faculty, students, football team, and even housekeeping showed up to look—it was a spectacular success===amd the universal responses were…..WOW!!!!!!!!! or AWESOME!!!!!!!!

2-20checking20out20solar20dyes-m Solar dye by Jaquard–I picked that leaf off a nearby shrub–hope the garden crew doesn’t mind.

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shooting through the eyepiece at the full sun prior eclipse—Froot Loop box. I held the box, husband held the camera.

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here we are setting up. The library director, her mother and husband also assisted.

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More set-up. Husband is wearing the camo bee veil in foreground, Son is in the black Tshirt and ball cap talking to the studen with a backpack on far left. That T-=shirt is from the telescope in Hawaii–where he and we had a private tour—not at the same time–something few visitors get to see. The man with the blue shirt and khaki pants is the physics professor.

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partial eclipse as seen through tree leaves on the sidewalk beside the quad.

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Glen cut a somewhat ragged hole in a very large piece of cardboard and we directed it at a plastic wrapped piece of poster board.

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a nice smooth hole yielded a better image

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compared to this one.

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here is my attempt with solar dye–it was purple–on my sketchbook–but there was too much light. I should have put the paper inside the cereal boxes.

Next event is in 2024 where we will be in the total eclipse zone.