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Posts from the ‘Home and Children’ Category

Brothers can be SO Annoying

My oldest grand-daughter had a dance recital a bit ago. We were thrilled to attend and watch her do splits and cartwheels with the greatest aplomb.

Afterward we gathered outside for a photo op.

The youngest grand-daughter must be in the ‘opposite’ stage of life–she turned her head when asked to smile for the photo—but she was pleased to sort through the donut-holes we brought for her favorites—not the filled ones.

But then—a group photo—me with my youngest son and his three children–the youngest still turned away.

And that brother!!!!

I remember them being equally annoying—but I had five–not just one to contend with.

My walker was parked nearby—it was a long day—but so wonderful to see son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren again.

Of Thistles and Queen Anne’s Lace

While farmers and livestock owners do not particularly like thistles, I have always thought they were some of the most loveliest of plants. The purple blooms against the dull green leaves provides a perfect contrast. They are considered noxious weeds to be dug out whenever possible along with multiflora roses planted many years ago as directed by the government to control erosion.

Then there is the delicate Queen Anne’s Lace. I’ve never seen it cropped by cattle and so it remains on the fence rows untouched along with the thistle. Finches like the thistle seed; thistle seed being a component of commercial bird seed mixes.

It was too early in the season to see finches working the thistles; maybe I will return later this summer or early fall and catch a glimpse of them.

Running Away

There is an old aphorism that you can’t hide from your troubles; they will follow you.

While that seems to be true, there is the thought that seeing and being somewhere else gives a fresh perspective to those tag-along problems.

In early May I had back surgery No. 4, a long-awaited surgery that seemed to have doubtful improvement. It required a much longer and more difficult procedure than anticipated and the recovery has been long and difficult. In some ways, it seems no better than before and now I must deal with the denial of payment for the additional procedures deemed necessary at the time.

However, that is neither here nor there.

The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays—a day of celebration and family gatherings. I had missed the past few–illnees and then of course, Covid–the year of Lent that lasted forever!. But this year I was determined. We drove up on Friday July 1st and arrived on the following day. We had in tow our two border collie dogs—there was no room for them at the pet resort.

Remarkably they were extremely well behaved even in the hotel where they did not notify us that there were other people in ‘our house’.

The week was spent clearing out the berry patch that had been over-run by a grape vine that has never produced.

I bent, twisted, picked up, ran the wheelbarrow to a brush pile.

My back did not like the trip there and back–but the activity of clearing out that brush was better than any of the physical therapy sessions.

And just for fun—here is a photo of one of the delights of the week.

bluebird nest along the fence line of two oat fields

I’ll be sorting through all my photos and posting some exerpts over the next few days. In the meantime, has anyone seen my keys?

Scraps and just fooling around

Sometimes there is a pile of smallish pieces left over from other projects and then sometimes you happen to inherit your mother’s fabric bits and bobs and starts and unfinishes.

Mom loved boxes—as did her mother—they both saved ‘really good boxes’ including the boxes replacement checks came in, greeting card boxes, and then the occasional cigar box harvested from the local grocery store. I”m sure they would have both loved the plethora of boxes from Amazon that seem to multiply themselves like rabbits when I am not looking.

Sorting through Mom’s sewing room was a chore—not unpleasant–who can really not like playing with fabric? But it was also challenging. What did she intend to do with all these tiny pink squares? Or these diamonds?

Some of her projects have her written notes and you might think that would be helpful but most of them are calculations with no idea of what they were meant to become.

I’ve put this little group together.

And since I’ve begun making hand-made books and book cloth–they might become that—-or they might just become my usual Marble notebook covers.

A Purple Weed-Chopper

Today was a lovely hot day with puffy white clouds floating across the sky, perfect for the rescheduled fly-in at the local municipal airport. We arrived around eleven in time to see some parachutists landing. Vintage cars lined the tar-mac and then there were the planes. Mostly smallish ones–two or three passenger ones at best—and then there were the ultra-lights or experimentals.

In the background is the Polyethylene plant–I used to work there as the occupational physician. I learned a lot about people and management and work processes there. The plant looks to have tripled in size since I was there and sometimes I wish I was still there.

A friend from those days, husband’s partner and son, and another friend from motorcycle days were there with two vintage cars. Husband thought he could have parked Tessie there as it was the only one in the parking lot. That would have been nice as there was a huge turn-out and we parked a good distance away on the side of Keith Road.

As we caught up chatting—the habit of pandemic seclusion a bit challenging to break—a truck drove up in front of us towing a what is lovingly referred to as a ‘weed-chopper’.

I thought it might be a glider with its wings furled around a center mast—the wings are made of rip-stock nylon identical to sails—and made by sail making companies. The man, his son and two grand-children carefully prepared the plane—-taking about an hour to fit all the pieces together. I was graciously allowed to sit in the pilot’s seat—-

It was a bit of a chore to climb through those struts with my back not bending very much.

I took more photos of some of the other ultra-lights, flying planes—and a lot of sky with clouds and no plane—and then what my engineer-minded husband and sons think of as rather odd—engine parts.

I do not know what this is or what it does. I have been accused of thinking like a surgeon at times–‘i.e. stop talking about the problem, let’s figure out a way to fix it’ but maybe with a bit of pruning, it could be part of an engineering bent.

I will do a bit more editing of the photos I took—and upload them into my Texas 2021 folder on Smugmug.

Recovery is a Slo-o-o-o-o-w Process

Perhaps I am too eager to be back to some semblance of a normal life–able to sweep my floors, work the bees, go hiking, visit museums. But my life is governed by the slow healing process of a torn rotator cuff and No. 4 back surgery more extensive than planned or expected. I have re-habbed in the past by climbing the stairs in my two story house several times a day—ten years ago. This time is proving to be more challenging.

Yesterday we took a trip to Cat-Tail Marsh, the tertiary sewage treatment area for the city. It is a beautifully peaceful and serene place. Sometimes there are others enjoying the day, bird-watching or exercising. We met a couple with uncle and cousin in tow with a fantastic spotting scope. They generously shared the view of the eagles nest far down at the end of the settling ponds. He had been an ortho tech salesman after a four year tour as an OR tech in the Air Force.

It was a long walk to the end of the pier for me—all without a walker–ClaraBelle is folded up and leaning against the Pillsbury table in the dining room—the last time I was here, she was still my constant companion. I took photos this time—a lot of them. Water hyacinth was in full bloom and to my surprise when sorting through the day’s photos, I had captured a bee!!!

Thinking about that bee and how routine and mundane each of their daily assignments is—they make several trips a day to a particular flower harvesting the nectar, returning to the hive having scraped off the pollen on their legs and bodies in mid flight to deposit in the pollen sacs on their back legs—to deposit the tiniest bit of nectar—and then to fly out and repeat the process.

Perhaps my progress is not as slow or as futile as I castigate myself for such slow improvement.

It’s been a long road/journey

It all started several years ago. I had successfully reh-habbed myself back from a nearly deadly infection (95-99% mortality). When a lovely spring day presented itself with recent rains providing ideal opportunity to pull weeds, I spent the morning pulling ragweed along the fenceline. That night I knew I was in trouble as I could feel my right foot slapping the pavement during my evening walk around the neighborhood.

What followed was three back surgeries with initial improvement only to find continued problems.

After the third surgery involving placement of screws in my back, I was sent on a journey involving physical therapy, pain management doctors who insisted on drug screens costing 15000 each—yes that was the correct number of zeroes, a chiropractor who had never treated someone with rheumatoid arthritis,, assorted tests along with an insurance company who seemed to make up the rules as they went along always erring on the side of not spending money, doctors who were in network when I made my first available appointment in three months to find they were no longer in network the day of the appointment.

Some people thought I was exaggerating my symptoms as I looked fine. And yes, I was working full-time through all of this.

I finally landed at University of Texas in Houston. Even this was no easy project; surgery was canceled at the last minute.

I walked into the hospital but came out with a walker unable to control my left leg.

Things have improved–not nearly as fast as I would prefer but they seem to be heading in the right direction. I can now feel the bottom of my left foot, I can walk around my house without a walker and I can go up the stairs slowly without a spotter. Yesterday I managed to walk around a smallish block without my walker in between the rain deluges of this past week.

Here is a photo I took last week while still using my walker for long distances at the Cat-Tail Marsh, the tertiary sanitation segment for the city—and no it does not smell like sewage. It is full of birds, some migratory and others permanent residents along with alligators and other creatures. It is one of our favorite places to go–to be outdoors within twenty minutes—and not be in the city.

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.