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Posts from the ‘Travel & Places I’ve been’ Category

We are the Champions

GRB is located only a block or so away from MinuteMaid Stadium–home of the Astros. Although the Astros were playing in LA while we were there, fans congregated inside MinuteMaid to watch the game on the giant screen. Traffic was incredible–but not as bad as Thursday when there was a celebratory parade through downtown Houston. There was a sea of orange and blue in the streets.

 

img_6701-m1Look at all those baseballs!

img_6765-mWe spent our day with Philippa Naylor learning about fancy seams and insertion of zippers–a fun class and we lined up next to her to have our photo taken. This day we chose to wear pink—actually I wore pink quite reluctantly. It seems a better choice for someone petite and dainty. I am on the left in this photo.

img_6698-mAlthough Houston is recovering from Harvey, there is a lot left to do. Discovery Green’s lawn is yellow–and no-one can walk on it; the sailboat pond is gone with large layers of some sort of plastic being laid down; there were only three pond lilies in the adjoining pond–which was filled with trash–the fish are also gone.

img_6748-mThe World Series was a welcome relief to the sadness of recovery and the championship even more welcome.

Picnic Point and Hammocks

img_6608-mReunions are always a fun event–even though you have to read everyone’s name tag to remember who they are—and it would have been nice if a larger font would have used for those of us with forty years under our belts.

The Medical School reunion is always scheduled around Homecoming Football game. While we lived in Madison and I went to Medical school there, we lived about three miles from the football stadium–people parked next to our house to walk in to see the game. Tickets were outside of our meager budget even though I got a reduce price and first chance at tickets due to graduate school status.

My wishes for the weekend were to see Vilas Park zoo–a favorite place during our stay there, and to walk out on Picnic Point.

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The zoo has changed considerably since we were there last. Each animal species has a special environment created for them. No longer do the bears sit on the haunches and wave at us begging for marshmallows or stale hamburger buns. The retired  Rhesus monkeys are no longer there–they used to live in a circular cage. The penguins are no longer corralled into a small cement wading pool parading around miserably in what must seem to them horribly hot weather.

img_6602-mone of the displays was this tundra with the immense tires with incredibly low tire pressure. We rode a much smaller vehicle on the marshes around Anahuac during a Christmas bird count after one of our hurricanes. Here is Glen pretending to drive.

Madison Wisconsin is a beautiful city situated around several lakes, Mendota being the largest. The campus is large and spread out with lovely little pocket gardens everywhere and lots of bicycle racks. There is almost no parking on campus so people ride the bus or bicycle or walk. img_6612-mWe walked to Picnic Point–there are Indian burial grounds now marked off from foot traffic.

img_6629-mA sailboat was out on the lake–losing a lot of wind and not managing their sails properly.

img_6627-mThe capitol was visible across the lake through the trees.

Walking about campus to the designated meeting area we noted a new trend—large hammocks slung from trees with students lounging about in them reading–reminiscent of a past trial of what I called our purple pea pod camping sleeping arrangement..

Walking back to Deljoje Hall, the location of the reunion, the marching band was practicing. I was not the only one to stop and watch the band perform.

 

Everyone seems to leave when I take their photo

img_6658-mAfter a morning of weeding and general garden cleanup and attacking weeds, we both decided a nice drive in the countryside would be nice and maybe some good photo ops.

We hopped in the car, my camera at the ready in my lap and off we went.

I didn’t get a photo of Hogback Ridge–it is immense and is a protected wildlife site. The hill sides are quite steep and the soil must be quite thin as only grass grows there–few if any trees–and those are all small shrubs. There were a few late blooming wild flowers in the meadows surrounding it. I’m not quite sure how I would have taken a photo–perhaps a panorama–not in my skill set although my camera says it can do it with ease.

Our goal was the Elk Farm. Along the way we spied two apiaries–and I had to get out and inspect one of them. Keeping bees in Wisconsin is challenging due to the lengthy and cold winters–but here were about twelve hives with bees busily flying in and out. Queen excluders were on each hive–they had two brood chambers and two medium supers for honey and a pitched roof for ventilation. The bottom doors were plugged and they had just a single hole in one of the brood chambers to exit and enter. Maybe next year we will be successful in catching a swarm.

However, our mission was that elk farm.

We spied a very high fence–and knew we were there. Parking on the side of the road, I attempted to get photos of the elk.The male–doesn’t he get a bad headache carrying that huge set of horns around–sat calmly watching us. The harem though was not so calm. One or two would look and then they all got up and walked away.

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More driving and I spotted some Canadian geese–the SandHill Cranes on the first corner were too far away for photos. We stopped and I took some photos–again–they waddled away as fast as they could go.img_6673-m

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Next was stop to photo some particularly colorful trees and sumac. The Asian beetles and box elder bugs were in abundance and took great delight in taking small nibbles of me. The leaves and sumac were pretty but not enough to compose really good photos.

We went back to the farm and put up plastic over windows for the winter–safe from the horde of biting bugs.

 

Pruning

ear20of20corn-mOne of the tasks I set myself on the farm each time I visit is dealing with the raspberry patch. Raspberries happen to be my favorite berry–although blackberries and strawberries are nice too. When my father was still living and I checked in on him after my mother’s death, he would pick raspberries for me each morning for my breakfast. Although this patch is not the same patch it still brings back good memories.

Last fall I cut back the grapevine that had invaded the berry patch and we installed one of the metal gates used in the calf pens in the barn as a support. I cut away all the raspberry shoots around it and carefully pruned only the bearing stalks on the part I wanted to preserve as raspberries.

Imagine my surprise when I found an abundant new growth of raspberries around the grape vine and only bearing stalks on the part I thought would be just raspberries. Plenty of raspberries on those stalks but only a few new stalks—they bear the second year==not the first year. And not one grape bunch!

Still I pruned away again and this time covered the ground with shovelfuls of composted oat husks from the grainary. Last fall I used corn stalks from the barn—still plenty of them to go.

more20of20plum20creek-mOnce at home I face the daunting task of pruning my photos–although I am taking fewer photos these days–it is hard to select the perfect few to upload and I tend to err on the side of too many versus only a select absolutely wonderful ones. I am sure I have repeats from previous years; my taste for imagery does not seem to change much. That may be a good thing–or limiting.

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Falling Colors

img_6472-mLike little kids at a buffet of desserts–or perhaps us older ones at Thanksgiving dinner, we always seem to overestimate the time we have in Wisconsin to do all the things we have planned. Or perhaps it is because we just move slower now that we are a bit older. Maybe that Social Security paycheck weighs us down?

Or maybe it’s because we just enjoy the sights and smells and sounds so unique to rural Wisconsin in the fall.

There is is the rustling of the leaves, the views of distant hills so obvious through trees that are dropping their leaves—and the vibrant colors of those that have not.

The woods there are primarily oak–which regrettably turn dark brown or just fall off–leaving their limbs bare. But here and there are some maples–the camera makes their colors more reddish than my eyes see–but gorgeous none the less.

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3-D Images and Biology

While at Texas Weslayan University in Fort Worth for the solar eclipse earlier this month, my son suggested a stroll through the nearby Biology building to view the artwork displayed on the walls there.

The artist wanted to connect visual ideas with biology and while her methods were intriguing. Unfortunately, I with my advanced Biology degree found the lack of anatomically accuracy distracting.

For instance, this piece had an outline of the head but with the lines going straight from the front to the back–Our visual experience is much more complicated than a straight line–and there is auditory and olfactory senses involved also.img_6351-m

The eye was made of rolled up papers but there was no sclera or pupil–the only part was the wire eyelashes tha informed the idea of the eye.img_6345-m

The workmanship of these pieces was immaculate showing attention to detail and perhaps she wanted a very simple representation of what she was thinking.

One piece used a number of straight pins stuck through plexiglass–an interesting project–but she did not use the shadows cast by the pins in the piece.img_6348-m

While I do like to work a bit to understand a piece of art, this was too simple. Perhaps her next series will be more challenging intellectually.

As usual more photos on smugmug at https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/Art/Sculptures-in-Biology-Building-at-Texas-Weslayan-University/

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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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a nice smooth hole yielded a better image

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compared to this one.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Austin Bound

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Spring in Texas lasts a long time with bluebonnets and paintbrush and firewheels on the roadsides and pastures. I didn’t see many bluebonnets but the firewheels were out as well as the paintbrush–none here at this little picnic spot on route to Austin.

I usually prefer the smaller roads–less traffic and more lovely scenery to view. I had never stopped at this particular spot before but it was quite lovely. Only one other vehicle was there–who left within a few minutes of my arrival. Fish swam around in the pool, hoping for a meal but I disappointed them–yogurt and a banana aren’t really great fish food.

A few more photos are here: https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/Texas/Austin-Bound/i-TF2Rh9d/A

Holus Bolusing on Bolivar

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Holus Bolus celebrates ten years together—-we first met at Los Fuentes restaurant in LaGrange Texas after a fiber filled weeked at the Creativity Center–the dream of Karey Bresenham. Seated at the end of a very long table we began chatting and Sherry read the fiber book I had made for her about her mother’s pretty yellow dress. One thing led to another and we began round robin fiber books–and then we decided to meet more often than just at Quilt Festival and so the adventures began. In May we will go on a quilting cruise.

We have seen each other through health issues, hurricanes, and hilarity bonding together with Cissy’s deviled eggs, Suzanne’s gourmet meals, Jeanelle’s creative use of group projects, Sherry’s patient teaching, and my penchant for solitude. We have shopped at Goodwill for blonde wigs and sparkly jackets, the Treasure House for just looking for funky stuff, and have traveled to Camp Allen, Tomball’s Cabin Too, and Stonewall where I assigned myself the task of filling the hummingbird feeders—they were hungry little critters!

Sometimes we get together as five, and sometimes as three or four or even two–but it is always a joyful thing.

This past week I joined Cissy, Sherry and Jeanelle at the beach cabin (now there is an oxymoron for you–it was anything but a cabin) of her daughter for a day on the beach. We took handwork projects–I worked on my stitch every day silk sampler and finished up all the precut hexies I had. Cissy made two wonderful salads and then it was time for the beach and the sunset.

I took a lot of photos but chose just a few to represent our time. We toasted to friendship and the wonderful world with blueberry champagne.

If everyone had a group of friends like this—and spent their time so wonderfully–what a wonderful world this would be.

As usual more photos are here on smugmug: https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/organize/QuiltGroups/Bolivar-2017-at-Ocean-Blu