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Blurring

Blurred imagery doesn’t really appeal to me–it suggests someone (mostly me) moved while taking the photo. I far prefer clear photos without a lot of fancy photoshop work. I do use a few features–a stamp clone erase technique to simplify photos from telephone lines and the hanging mechanisms of my quilt art-works. I also will do a bit of cropping but try hard to avoid it by changing where I am standing, zooming in, or moving an offending object.

This photo was taken in the arboretum greenhouse of some statuary near a small waterfall. It is always humid and misty in there, and the waterfall adds its own mist. I’m not sure I am happy with the resultant photo but given that I am not going to deliberately blur a photo by moving–I do enough of that–it is my offering for Week Two.

ThisSylvia Weir Week Two Blurred week is obsessive-compuslive–either an example of–or something that drive that person mad.

Word of the Year

At the beginning of the year, a challenge is issued in Ricky Tims’ photography class to depict a personal challenge for the year.

I had in mind the word ‘Soar’ but as my muscles and bones were quite ‘sore’ after my recent health issue, I decided another word might be better. And, truth to be told, the birds refused to fly focusing instead on ‘lunch’ or ‘supper’ or ‘snack’ or whatever meal birds put on their personal time schedule.

The Orchid Society meets in our local arboretum–and at one end is the secondary sewage treatment area. Far from being nasty as one might expect from the name it is a lovely estuary for migratory birds and water fowl.

I had hoped for spoonbills but had to settle for coots and pintails.

My word is ‘plunge’ with an implied ‘in’.

And I was thrilled to be the photo of the week of the many dozens of lovely photos submitted.

Sylvia Weir Week One Word of the year

A day at Sweet Pea

What to do on a dreary January day?

Why load up and haul self, snacks, games, and jammies to the beach!

We arrived in time to smell cinnamon rolls baking in the oven–it was definitely time for my second breakfast and another round of coffee. After catching up a bit and admiring the beach cabin–with a huge jar of beach glass, a shell chandelier, maps, and so forth, we awaited the arrival of two more. They were on the ferry with huge waves washing over their car–Usually people get out and wander around the ferry but this morning–everyone stayed snugly in their vehicles.img_7068-m

After more catching up we settled down to serious business. There was hair chalk to be applied, a (cold) brisk walk on the beach, lunch, more chatter, supper, and a rousing game of Scrubble.img_7063-m

Scrubble is played with a regular Scrabble board with the rules just changed a bit. The first word has to be a real word and then the fun begins. The ‘word’ has to have at least one vowel and as many consonants as you think you can pronounce–and then a definition has to be given. We invented this game during our cruise last year and were eager to play it again.

There was knitting of a purple hat–part of the newborn shaken baby education outreach. img_7074-m

There was hunting under the furniture for missing scrabble tiles.img_7075-m

There was cleaning up and packing up.img_7064-mimg_7065-m

There were hugs and tears all around–our next venture will not be until March of this year.img_7067-m

Can Dogs talk?

When I was eight, dogs lived outside, barked at vehicles driving by and chased cats.

When I was twelve, Daddy bought a Border Collie–Sam–who herded cows, chased away snakes in the berry patch, and kept visitors in their trucks until one of us approved of them.

When I was twenty, my parents were gifted a stray dog by one of my brothers–that dog patrolled the dining room and kitchen floors for stray scraps that might accidentally fall from someone’s fork or plate. To my knowledge, he had no other useful purpose.

When my three boys were 3, 6, and 9, they enticed the neighbor’s dog to come live with us. Babette thought she was a little boy but kept the population of cats and possums and squirrels at bay–even the fat cat at the vet’s office regarded Babette with respect.

When my parents died, their dog–a very spoiled Lhasa Apsa–came to live with me–that breed is a one person dog–and I happened to be it. She let me know when it was time for bed with a disgusted snort and much thumping as she crawled underneath the bed–although each morning she was tucked behind my legs.

Several dog-less years went by. I  enjoyed a flea-free household but after a burglary we decided it was time for a dog—or two.

Enter Toby–a rescue Border Collie puppy. Toby-short for Toe-Biter. Dora was next–Dora the Explorer–another rescue-Aussie and Border Collie mix.

They are now entering doggie middle age years–which means some of the energy is now more contained. Both know a lot of words and we have taken to describing nearby dog park as ‘large green expanse for canine romping’ as the words ‘dog park’ inspires much leaping about and barking. “leash” is greeted with the same enthusiasm.

In the morning, Dora fetches the daily paper. She has learned to search for it as sometimes it lands under the hedge, sometimes on the sidewalk, and sometimes on the grass. Toby has learned to sit patiently in the hallway awaiting Dora to appear with the newspaper. Occasionally they argue over who gets to present the paper to me.

While Dora is too excited to do anything more than bark, Toby ‘speaks’–and it sounds quite eerily like ‘I want one’ (referring to the treat reward) and sometimes she will look directly at us–with that Border Collie stare–and articulate more sounds—

While both of them seem to have a fairly large vocabulary,  minding is something else–with Toby deciding if the command given is really something she wants to do, should do, or thinks there is a better thing she should be doing. (typical Border Collie attitude)

Both of us wish we could understand what she is saying–toby20smiling-m

Here’s Toby.

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and here’s Dora–she always looks a bit nervous.

 

 

 

Shaker Pie and Lemons

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Last year we experimented with a Shaker Lemon Pie. We both agreed it was the best Lemon Pie we had ever eaten. Lemons are sliced paper-thin, covered with a pinch of salt and a lot of sugar and left to macerate for 24 to 36 hours at room temperature. Eggs are added and the resulting mixture is baked in a two crust pie.

There is always more filling than will fit into a pie tin–the resultant custardy type pudding is also quite tasty if a bit messy.pie20filling-m

But it only used three lemons and I still have a basket full–even though I gave them away to unsuspecting neighbors, family, and friends–anyone that did not have a visible lemon tree in their yard.

A bowl of finely chopped lemons is awaiting to be turned into a second batch of marmalade and that basket of lemons will be pickled. Some have already been frozen with a few reserved for fresh slices on fish.

Cold weather is hard on citrus fruits–with the orange trees being the most hardy. Limes are the least hardy–but this is a Meyer Lemon–not really a lemon and not really an orange. While I enjoy the scent of lemon that pervades my house I hope that tree survived the cold to present the same problem of abundance this next season.

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Brrrr and Ingenuity

wind20break20for20front20door-mHouses in this part of Texas are not made with the idea that it might be cold outside–freezing temps for several days in a row. This house is over a hundred years old and has weathered hurricanes and tropical storms with grace—but freezing temps?

The washing machine on the back porch had a frozen water line.

The orchids had to live in the garage for over a week.

The dogs did not want to stay outside to do more than just their necessary business before rushing back inside and curling up on our bed.

I didn’t want to do much more than huddle under an afghan next to the gas fireplace (wood fireplaces are nice–but gas means instant successful lighting and no ashes or bits of wood trailed in).

But then there was the front door. There was a fairly large gap all around with cold air rushing in. Northern houses tend to have a small closed entry way to buffer the cold from the rest of the house–it would seem logical to have one to buffer the heat in the south as well.

That draft hit my feet and ankles every time I wandered downstairs to refill my soup bowl with bean soup or to savor another cup of coffee or hot tea.

Amazon to the rescue! A plethora of boxes–empty–were awaiting their turn for a ride to the recycle center. I pushed a stack of those boxes in front of the door–light enough to push away in case we needed to meet the mail lady with even more boxes but quite adequate to keep out the damp chill.

More cold weather is promised for early next week but those boxes are now in the hands of the recyclers.

Remembering Barbara

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A dear friend of mine passed away in 2017. She was a quilter and particularly fond of patriotic themes. She and I frequently sat together at a quilting bee meeting and always had a ready smile. She was always game for most things I asked–including the day that I took photos of her hands–well-worn, arthritic, and emblematic of so much life lived and loved for a photographic assignment.

We sat together one meeting while the next group project was displayed–it was a beautiful quilt with lots of hexagon flowers, vines, leaves–so intricate and made from Aunt Gracie type reproduction fabric.  Each member was to contribute half a dozen hexagon flowers–Barbara said she didn’t want to do it–those hexagons were too small for her–and I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t have that kind of fabric—. So we came up with a compromise–I would do her hexies if she would give me the fabric.

That quilt is still underway; and I am sure it will be gorgeous. I wanted to honor her memory with this small piece–about 15 by 15; backed by one of her patriotic fabric scraps, the hexies are from her fabrics–but a larger size than those I made for that quilt. It is destined to go to her husband–another dear friend.

 

Cherries and Snow on the RoofTops

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In anticipation of grandchildren arriving I mixed up a batch of sugar cookies–for us to roll out and cut out stars and puppies and hearts and whatever their hearts desired from my stash of cookie cutters. But then they were running a bit of fever—and so had to stay home—-

Holed up in my sewing room–it was entirely too cold in the kitchen for me to hang out in there–we had the fan running to keep the washing machine defrosted, I let the dough linger. Snow was reported by some last night and this morning I could see snow on all the neighbors’ rooftops. A mere dusting of powder–but snow.

The days have been so dreary but today the sun came out. That snow melted rather quickly and the kitchen was warm enough for me to spend a few minutes with that cookie dough. I used the last of one flask of honey as the sweetener after converting it from it’s sugared state to liquid.

Tomorrow a Shaker lemon pie and maybe the start of some more marmalade.

Folding Money

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Our days, if we really ever had them, of toasting in the New Year until the wee hours of the morning are long gone—but we do hold to the tradition of Black-eyed Peas and Cabbage along with Champagne for New Year’s Day main meal. Our neighbors were still celebrating with fireworks and gunshots last night and so rather than face a ripped apart door from a dog weighing 60 pounds and desperately wanting IN rather than just under the breakfast room table, both dogs spent the night in our bedroom.

The temps outside (and inside) are definitely not toasty–my fingers prickling with cold even though I am wearing double socks and double shirts and huddled under a couple of quilts. But I did manage to prepare cabbage–a sweet-sour stir-fry cabbage that even my boys in the age when pizza or hamburgers were favored fare–gobbled up–even without the implied promise of cash in the future.

Puttering Away on a Vintage Pfaff

In past years I would undress the Christmas tree, put away assorted decorations, and in general tidy up. Several loads of laundry would be done in preparation for a return to school, thank you notes written–usually on the bottom of the annual Christmas letter that invariably was sent out late.

Now, my three boys have homes of their home—I have doled out the ornaments to each of them–and enjoy driving down the streets seeing holiday decorations I don’t have to put up or taken down. While limited somewhat in physical activity with assorted physical ills, I spend a lot of time in my sewing room—

When my trusted Pfaff 7570 and its sister 7550 began to have problems–one with tension issues, the other one eagerly continuing to stitch after I thought I had completed the intended seam, I pulled out this old machine.

This machine was a leftover from my sewing machine shop img_7032-mdays–and had been well-used by its former owner. Once oiled up, threaded properly (with help from husband), I discovered it used precisely the same bobbins and bobbin carrier as did the many generations of Pfaffs using rotary hooks. The stitch is perfect–and it hums along at my bidding.

img_7030-mThe only hitch–is replacing the bobbin–my hands simply do not fit into that small opening–I think the original owner would have changed the bobbin by blindly reaching underneath. Still what a wonderful improvement from hand-stitching.