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

The Mighty Mississippi and a much smaller river

view of the Mississippi along the River road. this is the East channel, the West is equally wide

I grew up near the Mississippi River and every year it flooded. The high school boys would be asked to devote a day to filling sand-bags to protect the Villa Louis Mansion on St. Feriole Island. Flood stages were measured in far up Blackhawk Avenue the waters reached. I don’t remember every crossing over the bridge into Iowa. At one time, it was a toll bridge. Some locals objected strenuously to that concept and tore down the toll gate building one night—-in those days the only people out that late would be the doctor hurrying to deliver a baby or the veterinarian on a similar mission.

filling up in Ferryville we think or maybe Lynxville a small river town along the MIssissippi River

Then there was the Wisconsin River. We crossed that bridge regularly to shop at the grocery store in Boscobel–home of the Gideons. It also flooded but there seemed to be fewer buildings nearby and it was not so impressive.

The Kickapoo also flooded—it was and is a great river to canoe on—we spent early married years vacations canoeing that river. My father or one of my brothers would put us in somewhere up river and then pick us up several days later. The canoe was borrowed from husband’s family—it was a cheap but mosquito filled vacation—some portages over and through trees–and around a dam in Gays Mills—and camping out in pastures along with the cows, cooking over a fire and eating breakfast from the top of a can of pork and beans.

Then there is the more adult version of ‘camping’ with hot showers and a bed and screened in porches and a refrigerator and stove. We did paddle around a bit in one of those paddle boats—those require a lot of energy to go not very far.

those are cutouts—not real moose but you can see the paddleboats at the lake edge

But the sun-rise over the lake was lovely.

A Visit with Henry Ford

Car shows are always fun; and there seems to be one every other month or so. Some at Spindletop, some at the airport, but this one was at the McFadden Ward Museum—a mere block away from our house.

The Model A club was having an outing. They parked along the long driveway surrounding the west side of the house. One of the vehicles was the personal car of Henry Ford himself. I did not take a photo of him but he seemed to be quite well preserved but perhaps stuck in the 60’s–with long hair, a headband, beard, and a T-shirt with a motto not appropriate for family viewing.

Lemonade was served on the porch.

If houses could think, it must have seemed like a reflection of past times—parties and guests and talk.

Walking in Wisconsin Woods

Although I currently live on the Gulf Coast–a sub-tropical area with year round gardening and lawn-mowing, Wisconsin always seems so much more lush. Perhaps it is the contrast between the black, gray, and white of winter versus the abundance of plants in the summer.

My husband grew up in Wisconsin–not my next door neighbor—we met in college. But his family wanted to gather together near his home town for a few days and then to a fishing/lake/boating area near Lake Superior (regrettably we did not get to see Lake Superior).

The cabin—although that is not the right word for such a lovely and fancy structure—reminiscent of the mansions in Rhode Island that were the ‘summer cottages’ for the wealthy of New York City—–was spacious. There was an abundance of food on the counters, lots of laughter and chatting and rummaging in the kitchen for snacks and plates and cups.

The owner had thoughtfully provided two walking trails along the hillside. Brush hogs make for a quick project and a nice wide path—although there were some steep spots and dizzying perspectives.

Fall color had not yet happened although it was clear things were happening—Queen Anne’s lace was turning into brown baskets and Goldenrod was in abundance.

Although this was not part of the driftless area, there were plenty of rocks and hilly vistas.

And then there are sheds and outbuildings used to store equipment.

And no walk in Wisconsin Woods is complete without a thorough inspection for ticks—none were found!

A Chicken or two or more

Growing up in rural Wisconsin meant long rides in school buses, sledding in the winter, stacking wood for the furnace, drying mittens, and wishing for summer when there was no snow shoveling or ice. But the true harbinger of spring was the day the mailman would call and ask if someone would be home as the baby chicks were at the post office.

The baby chicks usually went into one of the grainery bins—it being emptied of oats as feed for the cows and pigs—and relatively protected. A heat lamp or two was installed—the chick watering containers cleaned and set up along with grain dishes.

Twice a day the chicks would be inspected to be sure they were not piling up on each other in an effort to keep warm. it seemed like no time before they were judged old enough—mostly fledged out—to move into the chicken coop.

I don’t remember closing the door to the coop every evening nor do I remember our Border collie doing much to chase them around—they did not herd well so after a few futile attempts he left them alone except when they approached his food bowl.

My Dad did not like chickens—except when they appeared on his dinner plate. But that required butchering—and it was a group project–defeathering, burning off the pin feathers and then cutting them up—we would do about twenty five or so at a time—and it took the better part of a day—and that night we always had hamburger–never chicken.

A few were allowed to over winter to provide eggs; my grandmother who lived in town also had a half dozen chickens–and periodically would deem one for the stew pot—she made the best chicken and dumplings.

We had a brief foray into keeping chickens—they do not tend to be smart about staying in their assigned area or watching out for hawks. They also tend to subject to ‘vapors’.

But one of my nieces has several varieties of chickens and turkeys and guineas and geese—-so many feathers every where and a great deal of squawking and running about.

I would have more photos but I had not emptied the only SD card I had that day—so you will have to be happy with just the one.

Paying Tribute

Our trip to Wisconsin was uneventful. We made good time–even though I was driving and I tend to drive not pushing the speed limit.

The weather was dreary a couple of days with one day devoted deliciously to reading—it has been a long time since I had the opportunity to just sit and read.

On the way back, however, in Stl Louis, we encountered a 31 mile funeral procession for one of the Marines killed in an ambush in Kabul. It was an impressive sight—-miles of motorcycles, every overpass crowded with people waving huge flags, fire engines with a flag aloft on their extension ladders.

Although there is a lot I could say about the events that led to up to this—that outpouring of respect may provide a small comfort to that Marine’s family.

I took no photos of this event—but instead include this image of one of the street decorations in a small town in Wisconsin.

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.

A delightful Afternoon (Mostly)

A mid afternoon doctor’s appointment at the Medical Center in Houston on a Friday afternoon is not preferable given the propensity of early weekend traffic—and traffic through and around Houston seems to have tripled in past months.

However, I wanted to try another viewing of Monet to Matisse at the MFA. I toured the exhibit several weeks ago—another doctor appointment—but I did not realize I could take photographs as there was no show catalog. I was determined to get some nice photos of some of my favorite paintings in the exhibit.

Happily I spied a Berthe Morisot—a garden painting—maybe during her honeymoon

; and this Renoir of a girl resting her chin on a chair—

and then a Gaugin of a small boy in blue—not the voluptuous mostly naked women usually associated with his name.

A Matisse—with its incredibly flat rendition of a water -harborscene—suggestive of wall-paper–no brushstrokes evident—the Monet also of a water -harbor scene–with the glimmerings of the beginning of expressionism

Then there was a Toulouse-LaTrec–on a special kind of cardboard used in billboards—and he did a lot of those—the head of a supercilious woman looking down at the viewer—and a Degas of two ballerinas head and shoulders in sepia tones.

The final gallery was 30 some paintings by Bonnard—-perhaps his work needs to be seen repeatedly to begin to enjoy—I don’t recall seeing any of his paintings before–they all seemed rather dark and dreary and mostly dark green and dark red landscapes.

I was so enjoying the paintings and taking photos until I was poked by a woman in a blue sweater who hissed ‘no flash photography allowed in here’.

Hmm—those flash cubes in the past had a theoretical potential of sparks—although why that should be a concern with all the water sprinklers everywhere—–and no-one has demonstrated the tiny automated flashes from a camera–not the huge ‘lights-camera-action’ lights faded paintings.

So I switched to my phone–which might have a flash feature but I haven’t figured how to work that yet—or how to transfer those photos to my laptop.

But I did manage to visit one of my favorite sculptures—Matisse’s Backs in the Cullen Sculpture Garden—deserted on that hot Friday afternoon with brilliant blue skies.

I always wondered what his model thought of how she was represented and how did all those really fancy frames get put on those paintings–did the artists choose them—or were they traditional ‘standard’ frames.

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.

Curves and Lines

This past week’s assignment was to use curves with some straight lines.

I really struggled to find a design I liked. It was much easier to draw three curves and then use one of those as the basis for my work.

However, in sorting through my photos I discovered some images of pampas grass as seen through a wire fence separating the patio from the rather steep hillside in San Antonio.

And then there were these walls.

Retreating to La Porte Texas

In today’s news I read about a leaking tanker truck at the Dow Chemical Plant in LaPorte Texas resulting in evacuations of an elementary school and a neighborhood. It seems the tanker truck had a leaky valve and the company’s HazMat team was on the scene busily assessing and dealing with the problem. Of course there are people who are always upset that the company did not disclose the full details—as it was trying to figure everything out—and delayed and distracted by all the phone calls by news media and others wanting up-to-date information. Having been one of the responders, it is frustrating and I fully understand putting out a statement the news media called ‘vague’ until they could determine the extent of the problem.

However, that is neither here nor there—as I was in LaPorte last weekend for a SEW DAY!!!!!

It had been so long since I had attended an in person workshop, I really didn’t know quite what to do.

My sewing machine had lived in its travel case in the front hallway during the pandemic.

But I managed to pack up a few projects–I always take more than I know I can complete—but you just never know how you will feel about a particular project when you pull out your sewing machine–and see if it remembers how to stitch—and did I remember how to be a participant in a workshop type environment.

And Sew It Began is a wonderful place with a lovely quilt shop next door, an old house with sleeping quarters in four bedrooms, and a sewing space that has nice tables and chairs and design walls.

My project involved some strip piecing—and I now have a huge stack ready to trim up for a project that is still jelling in my mind.

The other wonderful thing about this place is the wonderful flowers all around the outside of the buildings. My camera fogged up and so I don’t have many but these roses around the side and front the old house had a wonderful fragrance—and then there were the zinnias on the back fence—reminding me of home–where everyone planted zinnias and marigolds each spring.