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Posts from the ‘Home and Children’ Category

A Raspberry Patch and a few Nettles

My parents planted two grape vines on the upper edge of their garden along with some raspberry bushes. They also planted the same in the house they had ‘in town’ and my Dad, knowing I liked raspberreis would pick a small bowl for me each morning for breakfast when I was there helping him with his finances.

The patch on the farm was wildly over-grown with a few small trees—and the first year, a brown thrush had a nest—and was not happy when I tackled the pruning and thinning.

The grapes have never produced–the most has been a handful of green grapes half the size of currants—and since I am not fond of grapes–and they are not producing—I pruned them back to the ground—in July. The vines and smothered the raspberries to the point that there were only four canes. Major unhappiness on my part!!!!!

I wasn’t really sure I would be returning on this trip–and not sure I would have the time—it was a three day project in July—-

Here it is when I started.

and here it is when I finished;

All that green—NETTLES! It was a warm day and although I usually work outside with long sleeves–I took off my jacket-shirt—and got lots of stings from those nettles. The tan stuff piled up is corn fodder—it will take me thirty years to get rid of all that corn fodder in the hay mow====I’m not sure why it was put there—but I am using it as mulch.

Look at that lovely green stuff on the right—all of it new canes—so I will have a bumper crop of raspberries next year—and some more nettles to pull.

And here is what it looked like in July—all that green is grape vine.

Of Swans and Sunflowers and Bee Hives

A family reunion gathering in Northern Wisconsin was a good reason to make a trip to Southwestern Wisconsin and just see things.

Fall color is not happening yet—a few oak trees are turning toasty brown; sumac is still bright green, and there are no walnuts on the ground.

But the chicory is blooming along the roadsides and then there were splashes of bright yellow—-wild sunflowers and black-eyed Susans or daisies. Hard to differentiate from the interior of a vehicle but easily identifialble when stopping to take their photos.

And then there was the family of swans I spied near my farm. We counted and counted using our naked eyeballs=–then I remembered we had a very nice pair of binoculars and so we shared them–and counted again.

And no trip is complete unless we drive by and inspect a nearby apiary. We brought a hive from Texas to Wisconsin, and hope it has enough stores to survive the winter—. this apiary was quite safe from intruders—the mosquitoes and gnats made our inspection much shorter than we had hoped.

I have more to report on our trip—-but I am still sorting through photos.

Digging a Hole to China and PIcking up Sticks

Three sons with a three year gap in ages did not always mean a harmonious house.

When they began to be too rowdy or argue with one another over something really important–like who got to sit next to the window next, I would send them one by one outside to dig a hole to China. The first one got the shovel, then the second got the trowel and the last one got the spoon (if he could sneak it out without me seeing it—then it was just a random stick0

After a short time they united in some sort of combined effort—and the imagined outcome depended upon the last book/movie.

With grand-sons perhaps I am a bit more lenient—okay probably a lot more so—but still busy boys need to let out all that energy.

The youngest grandson is so much like his father—always on the go and never sitting still.

After we watched some of those capsules you put in water and they become a tiny sponge animal—he spied the wheelbarrow from the window and rushed outside. Industrially he picked up sticks–one at a time and showed them to me.

Then he decided he could saw off a branch off the poor mulberry tree–now lying on its side in the yard.

It required some instruction by his dad—but he managed to saw his way through that branch.

Big Boy Was Really Big

When we moved some decades ago into our current home we did not realize the presence of the train switching yard just five blocks away. The cars bumping against each other sounded like explosions at first—and still do on occasion but we have grown accustomed to hearing the start of the railroad day at 5 AM. Too often traffic is stopped with a train over the main road to downtown–and always it seems when I am hurrying to church—and then the late night whistle that might be appreciated if it were a tune of some sort or many decibels softer.

Despite all this annoyance, the announcement of Big Boy coming through Beaumont and staying overnight was met with a great deal of interest and enthusiasm.

The railroad mowed the marshy area for its visitors—and people parked along the road and walked through the mud to gape at this huge train engine.

I asked a boy standing by to serve as a model/comparison in size for me—and a few others ducked under the caution tape to take a photo.

It is hard to properly photograph the immensity of this huge engine. Here is a fuel truck next to it.

Most of us were standing behind the caution tape in the marsh—until the guy with the orange safety vest took pity on us and moved the tape up so we could stand on sand instead of mud.

Rain was threatening but it did not stop a steady stream of on-lookers.

And just because I like the imagery of mechanical things.

Big Boy made a circular route through several states returning to its home in Cheyenne Wyoming. Taking time to wade through mud and chance a drenching was definitely rewarding—just the delight of something fun for all of those who came–instead of the daily grind of unpleasant news reports. This event was sensational—but in the best way.

It was Dark when I woke up

My internal alarm clock usually goes off around 4 am–sometimes earlier, sometimes a bit later but always with the first thought in my mind is that my back hurts.

After Back Surgery No. 4 with some substantial hardware in there, the pain did not subside much. I had a drain which poked me in the back for about ten days; numbness in my right foot, extreme weakness in my left leg—requiring a walker for about two weeks.

About two weeks ago, I noticed a decrease in the amount of pain I felt in the morning—-instead of OOOOOH my back hurts, it became ooh my back hurts. A small thing —but pleasing nonetheless.

But this morning, my first thought was that it was still dark outside and I wondered what time it was. My back did not hurt nor has it hurt all day—although I admit to not doing a lot of lifting or standing—but still it is so wonderful after so many years of back pain to be pain free even though it may be only for today.

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.