This week’s photo assignment was ‘crooked’.
This was taken in a smithy in Gladys City, a reproduction of buildings from the days of the Spindletop Gusher–the first in Texas. I spent a lot of time in the smithy–my dad did a lot of work in his workshop–welding, grinding-sharpening blades on hoes and mowers and occasionally knives, and in later years making reproduction engines.
We had an anvil in the basement, he used to crack black walnuts on it–so did we. He would pick out the nutmeats while watching television at night.
This anvil was held down by those crooked nails at each foot.
One of my brothers, destined to become a fine carpenter, bent a lot of nails–and put a few knobs on his head wielding a hammer far too heavy for his four year old hands.
I remember pounding nails into a nice five gallon bucket of paint–they made such a lovely plunk sound when they hit the paint….I think we put in about five nails in the lid before being discovered.
And then my grandfather kept a bucket full of bent nails–meant to be straightened and re-used…one of my cousins took those home with him, used them all, and hoped to find another bucket full.
In March of this year, I went out to Tractor Supply and bought four chicks—supposedly sexed–as I did not want to deal with a rooster. I don’t mind the crowing—we have a neighbor somewhere nearby that has a rooster—but roosters can be mean. Those four chicks rapidly grew into hens—clucking and cooing and surprising us with eggs about six weeks ago–much earlier than we had expected. These chickens were surprisingly cute during their entire childhood, adolescence and now adulthood. Unlike the previous set of chickens that flew the coop one day and resisted the efforts of Toby and Dora to be herded back into their rightful places, these chickens were never ugly.
Toby and Dora (Border collie/Lab and Border Collie/Aussie) kept a very close eye on these new chickens. One of the chickens always seemed to be by herself–and we worried a bit that it might be a rooster—but then we began getting four eggs every day–proving that we had four hens.
The loner chicken has escaped several times; over the fence, under the fence—and Dora was called to help round up the wanderer. One day last week, the wanderer escaped again and this time Toby found her—there were feathers everywhere—Dora herded her under the car—where I spied her squatting down behind the rear tire hoping no-one could see her. She was returned to the coop yard and the next day we had four eggs—she seemed none the worse for her adventuresome day.
We celebrated Glen’s birthday that day with a meal at a local Mexican restaurant—we don’t eat out much these days—but a margarita with a tiny sombrero suitably sized for one of Glen’s collection of turtles was fun along with a huge plate of shrimp nachos which we agreed would have been plenty for our meal.
Alas and Alack, one of the hens died—apparently this happens to chickens—and it was not the adventuresome one. We had only one egg today, I watched them all happily scratching away at the dirt and leaves in the side yard—keeping our fingers crossed.
It is silly to mourn over a dead chicken–they are not the brightest of creatures but they do make such a lovely cooing sound. They know when we open the side door and they come running when they see us—of course we have food and water to offer—-and we are enjoying all those wonderful fresh eggs.
Disappointments are part of life and come in an assortment of sizes. They can come from many sources–family, friends, work, medical issues, property responsibilities, hobbies, and even weather. Their impact seems to be related to the strength of the relationship and importance of the issue to personal well-being.
These past few months have not been easy. Assaulted on nearly every side, I tend to retreat to take the time to heal and re-evaluate all those relationships, decide which ones will give me joy (to borrow a Marie Kondo phrase) and which will not. And to give a try to some new things, new relationships, new hobbies, and maybe even a new pair of jeans (just kidding–I wear mine until they have holes…ditto shirts and socks and shoes…saves a lot of time getting dressed in the morning when the selection is limited—take the one on the top of the pile)
And now adding survivor’s guilt to the pile—Imelda flooded this area and recovery efforts have begun.Piles of wet carpeting and furniture are outside businesses and homes that flooded. The grocery store took on a foot or more of water; they are open again but with nothing on the bottom shelves of half the aisles and the other half are closed; an armed guard stands at the door.
Nothing happened at my house–we watched it rain for two days–and now it is raining off and on again. My bee hives looked fine, the chickens continued to lay although they were clearly confused by the really long night they had, Toby required bathroom breaks on a leash due to the thunder, we had power and water and no interruptions in our lives except for canceled doctor appointments.
Being thankful for what I do have , coming to terms with the disappointments, and not feeling guilty for having so much shouldn’t be so hard.
Several years ago, there was a booth at the Quilt festival in Houston featuring Rare Bears. This is a project now encompassing over 11 countries and sponsored (among many others) by Spoonflower. Spoonflower prints pairs of soles for teddy bears; huggable Teddy Bears to be given to children with rare diseases.
Of course I signed up with great intentions but this past month finally put together two of these bears. I made them from bamboo fleece that was hand-dyed for another project—and the bears required fairly small pieces. I think I have enough for one more bear.
While they prefer the Rare Bear Army members to send just skins.=—take up a lot less room–I had to see how these bears would look.
Here is my sweet husband trying out the huggability of the bear.
Here they are hopping into the box to send away.
And here they are with little notes.
When they are gifted to a special child, a photo is sent of the bear with their new master. I hope these two get picked soon.
And for a bit of trivia: – Rare Bear’s factory Pratt & Whitney R-2800-30W engine producing 2,250 shp was replaced by a Wright R-3350 engine producing somewhere between 3,400 – 3,800 shp depending on the base model selected – factory numbers. As a current racer, the specifics of Rare Bears engine remain undisclosed.
In 1976, the engine failed during the Mojave Race with a resulting belly landing. It wasn’t raced again until the 90’s.
More details are abundant on the internet, but I might just ask at the Lone Star Flight Museum sometime.
Some years ago, I won a covered Marble notebook at an event; I immediately began to use it as a journal. Since then I have covered many Marble notebooks and currently have a stack about three feet high of completed journals. I have also covered 3 ring binders, and my sketchbooks. I use pieces that are an experiment–something I wanted to try on a small scale but decided against a large piece, leftover bits from other projects–that are too many and too big to make into postcards (another fun project).
And then sometimes I make them, just because I want to play around with fabric and thread and paint and have fun without any grand expectations of a formal art work.
Having been gifted the contents of my mother-in-law’s linen closet–some lovely vintage doilies among other things, I decided to make two book covers for her two daughters–my sister-in-laws. One of them is an artist and so I covered a sketchbook, the other is more bookish and so she got a Marble notebook for her to keep records of whatever she liked. The covers are removable—and I could do that with mine—but I enjoy have new ones to look at.
The doilies were linen with fine tatting around the edges–made by their grandmother who had an advanced degree in Home Economics or perhaps it was Domestic Science at the time. I hand-sewed them onto some wild sand-dyed fabric I had made…so vintage over modern Bohemian.
The one on the far left is the sketchbook cover, the next one to the right is the Marble notebook. The two on the far right are two workshops I took, and definitely did not want to make either project the fulls size—-of course, that one with the purple and greet triangles might have been more successful if I had not used a stretch denim as a base.
And yes, they both said they loved their notebook covers.
It has been awhile since I have written a bit but I have not been idle.
It is prime honey bee season and the bees need attention this time of year. We now have 7 hives. Husband has been doing the majority of work with them as he is still in town; having a few medical issues to deal with before he heads to the great Northern expanse and much cooler weather.
However, I have been working on quilting up a few things while letting my eyes rest from my latest art project.
This is a small quilt my mother pieced many years ago. It has fussy cut animals in some of the squares; all of them oriented in the same position. (I would not have been so careful).
It has now been bound and after a viewing at the local quilt guild will be shipped off to one of my mother’s great-grandchildren–numbering 7 at this time. There are still a few more pieces of hers to work through destined for those great-grandchildren and I still have three grandchildren quilt tops to go—there were 17 of those!
I should have looked back–I did show these photos in April; however, it is now bound and labeled and ready to ship….
My grandmother was a practical woman and I adored her. I remember her as always laughing despite a life that was full of hard work, scrimping, and managing on next to nothing. She never balked at doing work; work that might have been done by someone else or in her time, a male.
Grandma raised cucumbers for the pickle factory and she was in charge of the cucumber sorting. The bins were on the side wall of an empty bay in the fire engine’s garage. That bay still housed the canning equipment from World War II on the back wall; Grandma had run that in those times. She also repaired sewing machines and had the contract to cut grass and otherwise maintain two local cemeteries.
Although her older sister made quilts for a living at a $1 a spool, Grandma made quilts for beds to keep warm. My first quilt was one she made for me–strips sewn together for a central panel, and then circled round with strips, bound in purple, with an old wool blanket as batting, and tied with red yarn.
When my mother died, I was left with all of the quilt tops and parts and pieces and fabrics and the carefully rolled up leftovers from dresses, skirts, and blouses. This top was made from many of those rolled up scraps as I recognize some of the fabrics but many others I do not—and the combinations are so colorful, I know they are the ones my Grandmother made on her old Singer treadle–bought by my Grandfather when she was expecting her first baby–my aunt—-in those days, according to my grandfather, even the women did not talk about babies and he took a lot of grief from his parents for being so extravagant as to buy a sewing machine.
Traditional quilts were made from scraps; scraps from dresses and aprons and blouses and shirts. Ready-made clothing bought in stores was expensive, custom-made clothing accommodating longer arms or any body shape other than what was considered ‘normal’ was just not available.
And then there were the people who had lived through the Great Depression where nothing was wasted.
My grandmother was one who was frugal; my aunt remembered her wedding cake as being very small due to rationing during World War II. Both of these ladies sewed; my grandmother repaired sewing machines in the day when sewing machines were not portable and women did not have men in their homes without their husbands being present.
My mother also sewed and she and her friend taught me and her friend’s daughter-Judy- sewing for a 4-H project. I still have that first project–a brown print apron. We learned to cut out dresses and blouses from cotton prints–polyester was just arriving in the stores, and saved all the scraps, rolling them up into little bundles and either tying them with a bit of selvedge or using a straight pin. These little bundles were then tossed into a bin; the idea was that these could be used to patch or repair–and of course rarely if ever were used for that purpose.
The quilt top I am working on now was pieced by my grandmother. There are fabrics in there that my mother must have given her–as I recognize two fabrics that were dresses I made for my first year in college; and dresses I remember my mother wearing–she liked black and white and gray fabrics.
This is a simple pattern; my grandmother loved vivid colors and assembled this top in her later years–still loving color and wild combinations. She bordered it with a bright kelly green to make it big enough for a bed. She had made me a quilt when I was 8–bordered in purple and tied with red yarn; the ‘batting’ was an old wool blanket; it was heavy and warm..a good thing for a Wisconsin winter in a home heated with a single pot-bellied stove.
And so I work on this quilt top, remembering my grandmother and my mother and our careful saving of all those scraps.
Tyrell Park is on the south side of Beaumont and has the typical features of a park; picnic tables, picnic shelters with grills, restrooms, and plenty of green grass and trees. There is also a golf course, greenhouses, formal gardens suitable for special occasion photographs such as graduations, quincinaras, engagements, weddings, and a riding stable.
But the best part–for me–is the Cat Tail Marsh.
It is huge and I’ve never walked all the way around it.
And every time I go, I take a gazillion photos of the birds.
Most of them catch the bird in not so elegant poses–sort of like taking a family portrait at the dinner table–forks looking like they are stuck on someone’s nose, mouths open, hands reaching, and so forth. But with people, you can ask them to stop and say ‘cheese’ but birds aren’t interested in their image recorded for posterity or looking their best with their hair combed and without spinach in their teeth.
So I toss a lot of photographs.
And then sometimes I catch one that reminds me of home.
Gray skies did not look promising for bird watching or photography. But we headed out to Tyrell Park armed with a box of donut holes from Dunkin Donuts. We each enjoyed a cup of coffee while chatting with the Visitor’s Bureau representative; and picked up a map of local bird preserves.
We could hear birds as they floated about searching for their breakfast. I thought we heard alligators but Husband Glen decided it was a bull frog.
Walking along the levees, dodging a few potholes, noting the primroses in bloom, and thinking about where we could put a few beehives. There are plans for a garden for pollinators in the future.
A few sprinkles fell on us as we got back into my truck—a good way to begin a day–good coffee, conversation, donuts, and a walk. And seeing a Great Blue Heron–reminding us both of our days in Potosi Wisconsin.