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Posts from the ‘Home and Children’ Category

Mom’s UFO’s

There may be one or two quilters who can claim no UFO’s. I certainly have my share—and I’m not divulging exactly how many that is—I will admit to working on shrinking that stack–they seem to glare at me with accusing eyes demanding to know when I will get to them.

Some of the quilt group I have belonged to have issued UFO completion challenges. We have traded UFO’s–I think that is fun—but I’m not volunteering to take on more. Some require a commitment at the beginning of each year writing down the names of the projects, some involve a random selection by drawing a number each month. Most require visible proof of completion–and that is always fun to see the line-up of the finished projects and the dates started.

Starting a new project is always exciting and fun—but then there are those accusing piles of bags and boxes—not to mention boxes of scraps demanding attention.

Most of us have found extra time on our hands–with no visiting or trips to museums, movies, restaurants, family gatherings, or even the grocery store or doctor’s office. I’ve worked on a couple of new projects but also worked on finishing up—including some of my mother’s unfinished pieces.

One thing I tried was quilting two pieces at one time. I am limited by the size of my frame; I can comfortably quilt a 72 inch wide piece…but using the wide backing fabric means i have about a hundred inches of length to work with—so that means several small pieces will fit.

I finished Mom’s little quilt top—it was a variation of a New York beauty and then worked on something I made featuring baskets and a variety of blocks combining it with some batik fabric I made with some tjaps from Thailand–and then a very old UFO of mine along with another new piece. They are quilted but not bound—good evening television projects.

Mom’s New York Beauty Variation
working on two at a time with one pantograph and the other custom
my birdhouse quilt meant to suggest looking out my kitchen window on a snowy wintery day
I think this is probably my oldest UFO dating from my life in Georgia
tthis is the basket quilt

If this last one makes you feel a bit dizzy–I rotated it in WordPress—usually I upload from my Smugmug account where I can manipulate the photos with greater ease–but to avoid neck strain on all of you I turned it. The plainish blue squares are from a length of fabric I batiked—and yes I like to use a lot of color in the quilting thread–it is a dark variegated blue/purple thread.

Revisiting the past

At some point in life, we tend to rely on our memories–some good and others more fun to remember than to live through.

One of my nieces dealt with a home renovation while they lived in a camper outside the house—and the weather at that time of year–was chilly at best. Water froze in the teakettle and they dressed like a cross between the Michelin man and Pillsbury Dough boy. We once lived in a trailer so cold at night we had to leave the faucet dripping with a pot placed under the drip to be sure the drain didn’t freeze.

But then I wanted a photo for a project. I remembered taking the photo but then I had to find it—-at one time my husband and I both shared a photo site. His interests are a bit different than mine and it took me some time to find my photos.

Next project was figuring out how to transfer all these photos to my smugmug account—and of course in the process review them all and relive the memories.

I have copied just one gallery–there are more to go.

Some think there is an end in sight to the pandemic. Like the events of 9/11, our lives will never be the same—and while others may post pictures of what might be considered vintage tools or a time when life was simpler and better—I still remember putting the pan in the sink so our drain wouldn’t freeze.

and this is the piece I made from the photo of the blurry windows outside my hotel room in Denver Colorado

Freezing Sunshine and Pink Snow

In February this part of Texas endured what seemed like a century of cold weather and limited power. My laptop has a battery and I was able to write some–but never posted it to my blog. As it is now time to ‘spring clean’ I thought I would clean up some of my drafts; adding to them in some cases.

I wandered around our yard this morning and took a few photos. It is once again the time of the pink snowfall; the azalea blossoms of pink and white falling to the ground and resembling small drifts of snow. It is later this year than previous years–probably because of the interlude of cold, stopping everything in its tracks.

pink snow

And here is one of those valiant pansies–we have purple and yellow–so cheery.

How can anyone not smile and be joyful when you see these pansies?

And then there is the amaryllis—we have two bulbs–both in full bloom with another flower stalk on one.

And now—here is what I wrote in late February. It is hard to believe we are wondering if we should turn on the AC; but we are all hunting up replacements for all our frozen shrubbery and citrus. We have not pulled up our satsuma or Meyer’s lemon–still hoping but fairly certain they did not survive.

February 2021

The sun is out today and the temperature outside is pleasant enough for folks to resume their daily walks. The chicken has been returned to her chicken coop although I must say she was not a particularly tidy house guest. Toby and Dora were curious about the closed downstairs bathroom door–as that was their favorite place to sleep. Although they both have nice thick fur, neither one wanted to stay outside for very long.

Our jonquils are sad wilted green leaves, the satsuma and lemon tree have brown crispy leaves and branches–we will have major pruning occurring soon. The arugula and peas also are sad wilted greenery.

But the pansies hiding securely under a dog-food bag and a hive body survived and are still blooming—a ray of hope for us all.

Exploring the Possibilities

Canon 50SX, minimal cropping. This is a black walnut collected from my farm in Wisconsin. I have a huge bag full of them waiting for me to crack open, collect the meat and use in culinary explorations; the husks are used to make walnut ink and dye, the shells can be ground into pincushion filling and mulch. What other uses/possibilities are there? My word/phrase is Explore the Possibilities

Each week, Ricky Tims issues a photo challenge. The first one each year is always a focus word. It is always fascinating to see what images people have chosen to represent their word or phrase; some take some take some thought to make the connection between the image and the word.

I was surprised to see my metadata show up as part of my image here—so I won’t write more about black walnut usage.

My dad would crack the walnuts for about fifteen minutes on the anvil in the basement putting them in an old pie tin and then he would pick out the meat during evening television time. Sometimes he would make fudge on a Sunday afternoon using those black walnuts.

Sometimes I sit on our front porch and crack/pick out black walnuts. Easing the frustrations of the day while whacking away at those hard shells, sampling the occasional bit, and remembering a different time with the problems and concerns and worries of those days long forgotten–and only the memory of the taste of those nuts and the sound of my father’s voice and the grin on his face and the callouses on his hands.

Fifty Y plus some days

Last month, a week before Christmas we celebrated our fiftieth wedding anniversary. It was considerably lower keyed than I had thought about the previous year at Number 49. But then each year has presented its own set of challenges.

I suppose it would be incumbent upon me to wax eloquent regarding the triumphs of such an accomplishment and offer sage advice to those with fewer years or facing the beginning of their relationship but the truth is, you just show up every day and deal with whatever problem is staring at you at the moment.

With all the social distancing it was hard to come up with something that felt celebratory—and in particular with nasty weather outside—reminiscent of the day before our wedding when the groom’s party was over an hour late to the rehearsal—and I wondered if I was going to be left at the altar—it was in prehistoric times of no cell phones—the drive was extremely foggy requiring slow progress. The next day, our wedding day, was bright and sunny but very cold—and husband to be washed his car, not realizing the washing process would freeze the door locks requiring him to crawl in through the back–while dressed in his tux.

We spent our honeymoon in a cabin in the Wisconsin North Woods—I got dumped into a snowbank from the back of a snow-mobile as the snow-mobiles don’t corner nearly as well as a motorcycle. We ate bean soup cooked on a wood-burning stove that heated the cabin.

So with such an auspicious beginning, it should not have come as a surprise to spend our fiftieth eating appetizers from the frozen food section of the local grocery store—shopping being limited to less than fifteen minutes door to door for me due to my high risk status and previous near encounter with a ventilator—and then later a trip to the beach for our ‘formal’ fiftieth portrait.

I had thought to wear my wedding dress, yes, it still fits—but not exactly appropriate beach attire. But then I’m not planning to wear it again–but maybe next year?

Should we aim for another fifty? or just settle for one day, one week, one month at a time? Probably far more practical and doable.

Waiting Around

With the holiday season in full swing and people putting up Christmas decorations before the Thanksgiving turkey is thawed prior to roasting, people wishing the year would end, and rude comments made about the year’s events….I am being polite here; there are other words I would use to describe the commentary over the past few years and especially this year.

It seems that people are wishing their life away instead of looking at what they do have. Perhaps the long years of schooling have given me the sense of what delayed gratification looks and feels like; perhaps growing up on a farm where few things if any were instant click on an icon type projects; perhaps some of my artwork constructed one piece, one stitch at a time or perhaps my natural introverted nature puts a different spin.

I can’t say this year has been fun. I don’t enjoy wearing a mask; I don’t enjoy not seeing family or friends; I don’t enjoy virtual church, I don’t enjoy the most exciting project of the day being what shall we have for supper tonight, and then there’s scrolling through social media trying to find something that isn’t a nasty comment about someone or something.

But there is a comfort in routine and rules. Rules create boundaries that we may not like but are there to create order. While I may think stopping at the end of my driveway in rural Wisconsin is a foolish endeavor, it is meant for my safety and the safety for others—although those others may rarely drive past my house making the whole idea of stopping seem a frivolous and useless task.

Routines keep us moving and to use the old maxim-keep the world turning. Children and dogs—and us–thrive on routine. It is knowing what is expected and the predictable outcome that gives comfort when chaos descends upon us. The occasional outlier—a vacation; an unexpected gift or visit, a new job shake up our lives pleasantly—and then there are the others that are not so fun—and we are grateful to return to the humdrum of making coffee at 3:30 AM to get ready to drive to work at 4 AM.

Those days and weeks of work were tolerable because there was always some sort of reward in the offing—perhaps a wintery day spent on the beach or staying up late to photograph a lunar eclipse.

Roseate Spoonbill at Sea Rim State Park, Texas


Empanadas filled with pineapple or sweet potato are usually on the shelf at the local Mexican bakery. But what if I wanted to give them a try myself? With pandemic still in full swing or maybe even an upsurge in recent months, cooking/baking has become a renewed past-time. If I can’t go out to eat, then maybe I can experiment in my kitchen……

Diligently I sought out a recipe/instructions on the internet. I could have called my daughter-in-law but although she speaks English quite nicely, I find it difficult to understand over the phone. But I found a nice tutorial complete with videos–I could almost smell it cooking. He made a meat mixture and given that it is almost Thanksgiving, I used ground turkey meat.

Some years ago, I found myself with some time to go shopping in a Crate and Barrel store. How can anyone resist walking out of there without some small treasure at hand? I found a small press—I thought for empanadas–but now I think it might be for Chinese dumplings.

I made the dough, chilled it, and then rolled out nearly three dozen sort of circles. The guy on the video made it look extraordinarily easy–but my edges were always ragged and the shape more like an abused oval that had been through a hurricane or two.

So here they are.

They were tasty; but I think I will try to find a larger press; and someone made reference to finding the dough/crust circles pre-made—or even using puff pastry.

Cotton Fields

My grandmother had picked a stalk of cotton during one of her trips to Georgia and displayed it in a vase on top of her upright piano. In that same vase were some stalks of oats I had picked for her on the edge of one of our fields. She had covered the grains with brightly colored aluminum foil–a painstaking task occupying many hours. I always wondered where she had gotten so many different colors–purple, green, blue, red—we only had the plain silver. And now that I think back on it, I am sure she scavenged that foil from floral arrangements from the three cemeteries she maintained as one of her means of income.

I wondered what fields of cotton would look like—maybe like a field of white roses near Geough Georgia, a small town consisting of a cotton gin, a post office/general store and a school. I had been volunteered as a newly minted MD to supervise a health clinic at the school– I think they mostly talked about diet and brushing teeth.

Texas does grow cotton and here is one of those fields. Menger was a cotton farmer who developed several different kinds of machinery to process the cotton. I stood at the side of the field to take this photo; there was cotton as far as I could see on both sides of the road.

cotton flower

A fence, a chicken, two dogs and Hurricane Delta

Hurricane Delta arrived and left quickly enough but not fast enough to wear out her welcome. The wind was not too bad in comparison to Hurricane Ike or Rita or even Humberto. We got some rain but again not too bad in comparison to Harvey. And we lost power for only an hour and a half compared to Laura–most of a day, Rita–ten days, Ike–ditto.

But we were left with a large part of our fence caved in and a carpet of crepe myrtle leaves and tiny to not so tiny branches in our backyard. The cattle panels lining the back fence—a necessary item due to some of our neighbors envious of our belongings and a dog that thinks the world is hers to explore—were twisted.

I suppose we should feel complimented that we are considered to be able-bodied enough to deal with the consequences of a hurricane without assistance. I have been picking up the leaves and twigs using a rake and a wheelbarrow, spacing out the trips to the brush pile on the street. We bought a kennel for the dogs and put it together.

However, the dogs were not good sports about the kennel, whining and crying and I felt incredibly vulnerable without that fence. The dogs required walking two or three times a day plus two trips to the dog park–one excretory function apparently can only be accomplished with a bit of running about—–and I only run if someone yells fire. They also thought it was fine to just sit and survey their surroundings for long moments==my back does not enjoy standing—walking or sitting—but not standing.

So off to Home Depot to get some T-stakes, and then some effort —–actually considerable effort even using a long board and pipe as a lever—raising these long panels of fence, propping it up in several places. We did not renew our windstorm insurance or house insurance so thankfully I do not have to deal with adjusters who seemed to always tell me how over-worked and stressed they were as they handed off my claim to yet another adjuster.

We now have a fence that looks intact–but wouldn’t take much to knock it down, a chicken that lays eggs three to four times a week—she skipped the days of the hurricane and the day after—and if chickens had lower lips, hers would have been stuck out as she had to stay inside her coop until the fence was repaired— and two very spoiled dogs.

I have more sticks and branches to pick up, but my back says it is done for the day and needs to rest. I do have a few sewing projects to work on—and then it will be time to make a pumpkin pie and supper.

Postcard Day

There are so many ‘official’ days celebrating or honoring things—I’m particularly fond of doughnut day and then there’s pi day. Last week was World Postcard Day—and also home-made cookie Day.

I have long enjoyed collecting postcards and have a nice collection of the Mississippi River, bridges over it, boats in it. My favorites are the ones that have been mailed with the lovely hand-script of days ago on the backs along with the postage stamps marked with the date. It is like holding a piece of history in my hands.

I have also belonged to a group that randomly assigned addresses from around the world to send and receive postcards. It is a great hobby for someone whose work hours are erratic and whose health precludes more active hobbies.

When I heard about October 1 as World PostCard Day, I retrieved my selection of cards and addressed them to as many young people as I knew in my family. I have yet to hear if any have been received. But it was a fun adventure selecting postcards and then attaching Bugs Bunny or Disney villain stamps to each.

poatcards along with a bill or two ready to mail