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Posts from the ‘Home and Children’ Category


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.


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


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


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:

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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


a nice smooth hole yielded a better image


compared to this one.


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.




What I did on My Summer Vacation

School has started around here and teachers always seem to like to assign this topic as the first English essay of the year. This time of year is one of my favorites–new beginnings, new things to explore–a second New Year so to speak.

Since Harvey is pouring down rain around me outside and there isn’t much I can do outside except get wet and the newspaper is unlikely to be delivered this morning, I thought I’d get this essay out of the way for the school year—although it has been many years that I’ve had to worry about this.

I have a farm in Wisconsin–not Africa as Karen Blixen did–and we don’t go hunting wild animals–unless you count the raccoons that seem to show up every year. Rabbits are bountiful although my friend’s adopted dog—abandoned at our dog park here in Texas–does his best to annoy them, capture them, and mostly play with them but they don’t seem to want to play much after a few minutes. Ditto the wood-chucks.

I make a point of returning home around the Fourth of July every year–to watch the annual parade, visit with cousins and my aunt–dear lady who is in her 90’s and still quite sharp, and work on my farm. We are remodeling the farm-house where I grew up and I wanted to make it my house–not my parents or my grandparents. One of my brothers–designed two additions–a much larger bathroom and a beautiful breakfast room with huge windows. We are doing the majority of the work now but it is slow going.

My first task each year is to clean up the raspberry patch. Here it is before and then after. I do this twice a year but it would be better if I could do it monthly—but I still have to work. Usually I am there to pick the raspberries and have picked enough to make several jars of jam.1-20raspberry20patch-m2-20raspberry20patche20weeded-m

Next task was to clean floorboards, These were taken up after the original porch was torn off and replaced with a wonderfully wide and inviting porch open to the outside and facing west, north, and east–a nod to our now Southern roots. It is hard and dusty work to scrape away the dirt that accumulates in the crevaces from all the people that have walked on those boards. The farm sits on a crossroads of sorts and is a frequent stop for people asking directions. In the distant past there was a stage coach stop just over the hill from the Windmill and there is a faint track of that past trail.3-20cleaning20floorboards-m4-20my20chisel20to20clean20the20crevaces-m5-20cleaned20floorboards-m

A trip to Prairie yielded several boxes of tiles for the downstairs bathroom floor. I did most of the work, handing the tiles one by one to my husband who was on his hands and knees setting them in. I’m sure he will protest my effort as mostest–but I’m writing this–not him.8-20assisting20in20laying20floor20tiles20in20bathroom-m9-20completed20floor20tiles20in20bathroom-m

Final project was to start to hang the corrugated tin (steel) on the ceiling of the living room/dining room. I wanted to have an interior that would require the minimum of upkeep–no painting of ceilings or hanging of wall-paper or washing walls–simple–simple–simple.10-20starting20to20hang20corrugated20metal20roof20in20great20room-m

And not to forget—my daily task–every morning and afternoon I spent about twenty minutes or so pulling ragweed. It is bountiful and grows rapidly and my husband is dreadfully allergic to the blooming rageweed. It is also a high pollen count for honey bees who use the pollen for their winter stores. I didn’t make much of a dent but I gave it a good try.6-20ragweed-m7-20a20field20of20ragweed-20i20pulled20ragweed20every20morning20and20afternoon20for20twenty20minutes20and20made20a20small20insignificant20dent-m

See the scattered ragweeds in the oats and then the wide band of dark green near the trees. Maybe someone could make it into biofuel or something useful.

Tomorrow, maybe I’ll write about the Solar Eclipse–as it is far too dark outside to take photos of the rain although I could try for my dogs lying forlonely on the floor thinking it is bedtime three or four times a day as it is so dark outside.







Purple Snow with a few lumps of green

Every year I look forward to the gentle scattering of crepe myrtle blossoms on the yard and driveway and the vehicles and the roof. It is accompanied by tiny bits of nectar and a delicate scent. I don’t really miss the cold of my native Wisconsin but I do miss the beautiful views of fresh-fallen snow and hearing the plump snowflakes falling. Wind driven hard snow pellets chased me and others indoors—but these crepe myrtle blossoms are a wonderful substitute.


The trees surrounding my house are very old surviving several hurricanes. There are no white ones but purple and then a hot pink which bloom at different times. After a nice rain, the trees expand their trunks and branches–like corn, it is audible for those of us with good hearing.

Babies and Aggies

Saturday afternoon was the occasion for a baby shower–as Auntie to the four children of my dear friend who is now eagerly anticipating her first grand-child–I was invited to this ‘do’.

It was organized by her sister-in-law and held at the prospective parents’ house in Katy.

I like to give personal gifts and thought long and hard about it.

This is what I came up with.


The grandmother-to-be and the prospective parents and the sister-in-law were all delighted.

Now to make something similar for my new grand-daughter—but not an Aggie motif.

No More Rats

Some weeks ago, I began hearing scritching noises in the wall next to my computer desk in the living room. I assumed it was the dogs on the other side in the kitchen or the hall bathroom. But it was not.

I discovered evidence of a rat invasion. Not surprising—we live only four blocks from the railroad switching yard and the dogs had been at the kennel for a week or so during a driving trip. They are usually not invited on these trips as they tend to want to drive–and don’t really signal their turns and can’t really reach the clutch or brake.

We tried sticky traps and rat traps to no avail. I called the pest control people who arrived with twenty pound bait boxes and identified their point of entry being the laundry room underskirt. At one time there was a fairly complete hardware cloth covering this opening but the dogs–and access to assorted plumbing issues had pretty much torn it all away.

After the rats were gone, I had to replace that hardware cloth—rolling away the blocks and using fencing staples to attach that hardware cloth. Fortunately it came in five foot rolls–something light enough for me to carry and easy enough to handle–although I was soaked by the time I finished this project.

This was not “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar” but this person hates rats and now they can go bother someone else instead of me. Fitting the wire around that gas meter was not easy but wire clippers and a bit of patience completed the job.