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Crooked

Sylvia Weir CrookedThis 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.

Chicken Chasers and birthdays

glen20at20birthday20supper-mIn 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.shrimp20nachos-m

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

leaves-mDisappointments 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.

Holus Bolus in Athens

chicken-mNo Greek food or balaika music. No mustachioed men with cummberbunds dancing and stealing our hankerchiefs.

There was food—looked wonderful.

There was music…..45’s.

There was singing (to the music)

And there was sewing.

 

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And we played with Sharpies and alcohol–I had to fill the little bottles outside as I tended to spill a bit—or sometimes kind of a lot.

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And there was even more sewing and a lot of laughing.

And there were a few walks monitored by Fit Bit

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And then the ghosts tapping on my door all night long—-figured out it was this! Disappointing but makes for a good story.ghosts20during20the20night-m-2

 

 

Bearly Rare

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.glen20and20rare20bearq-m

Here they are hopping into the box to send away.rare20bears20ready20to20travel-m

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.

 

Purple

Some things do come in tiny packages.

This little flower must like the old rice paddy wetness of the shop backyard.

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And then there is okra. I haven’t been very successful the past two years. I did well when they were in raised beds, but they are not so happy in containers (easier on my back and fewer problems with San Augustine crawling into the beds. Toby did a fabulous job of digging out the dirt for me to replace it—but the grass was more tenacious and determined than I could ward off.

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The pile is shrinking

In a fit of organization, I catalogued, organized, and labeled all the undone projects in my sewing room. I also did the same with the quilt tops awaiting quilting. Cleverly I even added dimensions, the need for a back or label. That stack was embarrassingly high and did not include twenty some quilts for my mother’s grand-children—left for me to quilt and gift on the occasion of their wedding.

There are four of those left and maybe one wedding in the near future, but my stack of tops has been cut in half.

In the past, I signed up for a lot of workshops at the local guild; and then there were all the exchanges so a lot of parts and starts—and they all glare at me insisting upon completion. I must admit, though, I have cheated just a bit, well perhaps more than just a bit. Now those bits and pieces become covers for Marble notebooks.

Layering and basting was always a challenge requiring clearing off of the dining room table, getting out pins and masking tape and popsicle sticks (that PVC pipe method looks intriguing) but now Vivian the Gammill makes short easy work of that task. I like to load the backing and leave it stretched overnight before quilting the next day…smooth…no wrinkles..and ten minutes of work instead of two hours or more.

I also drape the top over the rails, letting it dangle and relax some of the fold lines from being in that stack.

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This was an exchange with the Happy Scrappers. There was some really ugly fabric in there (most of it mine!) but look how pretty it is..and it is bound, folded up into one of those closet storage containers ready to gift when the right occasion presents itself.

One Lane Road and Two Orchid blooms

People ask me if I am still working. Could it be my hair which mysteriously and when I wasn’t looking became mostly gray? Or is it because I should volunteer to do something?

The credit union and bank think I should continue to work–they seem to put their hand out expecting something every month. Of course, one of the things happens to be my new truck—Big Mack.

Big Mack is bright red–candy apple red(yay)  but an automatic (groan) but a diesel (yay) and extended cab (too long) and made of aluminum (yay I can lift the end gate without thinking I am lifting weights at the gym) and great big side mirrors(yay while driving and a nightmare when parking).

So I should probably post a picture here—and I will but not today.

Today Big Mac and I went to Galveston. This means a ferry ride off Bolivar Peninsula. Going means a drive along the gulf with the waves splashing over the barriers and then a one lane road as the inevitable summer road work is carried on. This was my view.

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And I could have been a bit aggravated over the wait and the smell of all that asphalt but this is what I could see out the side.

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There is just something calming about watching all those waves and the occasional pelican or sea gull flying by.

I rode in the middle lane–plenty of room on either side of me—and watched dolphins playing in the water, dancing around a trawler, pelicans diving, sea gulls overhead looking for scraps of bread to be tossed.

The doctor visit–the reason for the drive was so-so—I can’t say I am impressed by the academic knowledge—perhaps it is because they do not expect any of their patients to give a cogent history.

On the way back, I was crammed in between an oversize semi and the interior of the ferry—I had exactly six inches on the driver’s side and four inches on the ferry side—not so happy to get a scrape on those wonderfully sticky-outy mirrors without the automatic fold in feature.  I could see a few grackles wandering underneath the semi–it was hot–and no breeze–blocked by that truck—-

However, in my dining room is this orchid. It blooms every summer around this time. But this is the first time I have seen two different colored flowers on the same stalk–a dark purple and a light lavender. The blooms last a long time and every time I walk past it, I smile.img_2066-m

And just to clarify—Big Mack is also a F250 but my first car/vehicle was my gold F250 always referred to as ‘THE F250″. It has 532,000 miles on it—and my husband has claimed it—so it is still in the family and should last another 2 or 3 hundred thousand miles–maybe some new tires along the way and the occasional oil change.

 

Crumbs

I’ve been making these little blocks for several years now. I have one of those document boxes full of them despite using a large number in a group project. They are all 6.5 inches square and are sewn as leader-enders as I work on other projects. Using them to leave on the bed of the sewing machine between the construction seams of quilt blocks or dresses or making binding for quilts along with a single needle plate means a starting point doesn’t crawl down to be greet the bobbin, and there aren’t so many loose threads to bunch up in the casters of your chair.

Making them is rather addictive; it doesn’t take long to have a large pile sitting on the ironing board ready to press and then square up and then add the next bits of scrap. While working away on several art pieces, I constructed these nearly completed squares.

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As you can see, a real mish-mash.

But then I rearranged the pieces and added these strips.

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That center space will be filled with a portrait of my aunt as a telephone operator. She ran the switchboard in the days of party lines and needing to listen for your particular ring set. I’ve started on the drawings but not quite happy with what I have so far. My process includes doing the drawing, then enlarging it via photocopy to the appropriate size, then on to the fabric and thread portion.

I am not a fast worker and need to take breaks to stop, think, and do more looking before moving forward.

Catching Up

Life has been more than a tad busy over the past few weeks.  Somehow I volunteered myself to establish and work on a website for a local art group—a group of folks who are all well-intentioned but struggling to recover from several years of minimal attention to such details as filing tax returns or pruning their files.  It has consumed a great deal of time but hopefully things are now ready to move forward for them and I can return to writing and art.

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One of my adventures this summer was a wonderful week spent in the mountains of Colorado. Texas Gulf Coast in July is HOT, HOT, and HUMID with as many exclamation points as anyone could wish to add.  Of course the Colorado folks complained of the heat there with the highs in the upper 80’s—but then its all about what everyone is accustomed.