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Aransas Wildlife Refuge

Some years ago, I had the misfortune to slip and fall breaking the patellas on my left leg. I was fortunate enough–or dumb enough to work while on crutches. Having a standard vehicle meant I could not drive myself to work; husband drove me to work and while I was at work, took his motorcycle to various nearby places to photograph some of the wildlife. This wildlife refuge was one of his favorite places.

it had sustained some damage during Hurricane Harvey but had two large very tall lookout areas. Whooping cranes could be seen in the far distance and according to the rangers, there were several pairs.

It was windy and chilly up there but a great view.

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This was labeled the alligator pond but none had read the brochure stating they would be available for photo ops that day.

We did find this young fellow crossing the road—there will be more about him much much later

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And another BIG TREE—-I can’t remember how many we did see and we wondered if perhaps some of the ones we saw with multiple trunks within a very small area were a community instead of individual trees.

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Forgot to mention the best part of our trip. Because we both qualified and did buy National Park Senior Forever Passes and then a Texas State Park annual pass–we didn’t spend all that much money on entry fees—except for tomorrow’s entry.

The Big Tree

LIve oaks are known for their longevity along with sequoias. When we toured the western states retracing the footsteps of Lewis and Clark, we..like everyone else was stunned by their size—and took dozens of photos with one of us standing in front of a tree with our arms spread wide–to give an estimate of their size.

These trees are not as tall but they are equally large. Each area seemed to have a ‘Big Tree’ for us to admire. These trees have huge branches that lean down to the ground, some of them requiring props. One tree was thought to be over 500 years old, sprouting from an acorn when Coronado was looking for gold.

It is hard to see just how big they are as this one on Goose Island was fenced off but they are huge. In Beaumont our street is lined with them and in the McFadden Ward House museum there are two trees, brought back as saplings from a battle near San Antonio by a McFadden.

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A week on Goose Island State Park

Wanderlust appears occasionally but with bees, chickens, and dogs, it takes some organization to plan even a short time away from home. The bees don’t require much work this time of year, time is spent building frames, boxes and planning for splits and honey collection.  The chickens have gotten rather spoiled; they expect to be let out of the coop early in the morning, forage about in the yard for yummy grubs and bits of grass they convert into eggs—-dozens of them! And the dogs expect trips to the dog park rain or shine and disapprove of rainy cold nasty weather—if they had lower lips to stick out they would—and they eye us with disdain whenever the weather is not to their liking.

However, we got ourselves organized and took off for Goose Island State Park just a bit north of Corpus Christi. It was an easy drive and we arrived at our Air BnB around 2 in the afternoon.

Rockport was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey and recovery has been slow. Congress has been busy with other things. Some houses are without windows; plumbing problems seemed to abound, and only a few restaurants were open; one of them opening the last night of our stay.

Whooping cranes were once on the endangered species list–probably still are. They migrate annually from North Dakota, Wisconsin and such to areas along the Gulf Coast including Goose Creek Island State Park and the wild life refuge. I was surprised and pleased to see and hear whoopers upon our arrival.

The people across the little salt water marsh had a deer feeder; three or four whooping cranes and sandhill cranes gathered around it every morning and late afternoon. I could hear the whoopers flying overhead—what a noisy bunch they are.img_3068-m

Mirror, Mirror On the Wall

This week’s photo assignment was ‘mirror’. I knew immediately what image I wanted to capture—but it depended upon the electrician’s work schedule.

Our house is over a hundred years old and has original flooring and light fixtures. We’ve replaced  a few things along the way; updating some of the wiring, replacing broken plumbing pipes, installing mini splits for climate control (a vast improvement over open windows and ceiling fans in the summer and huddling around the gas fireplace in the winter.

But then there were the light fixtures. In some decorating whim of the seventies (I think), we had shag carpet on the stairwell (removed within a month of our moving in) and painted light fixtures. There were some other oddities—the water heater in the corner of the kitchen and the boarded up kitchen windows, the double sink double drainboard cast iron occupying nearly eight feet on one wall and  burst plumbing pipes.

One night while I was waiting for my back pain to ease, I entertained myself by just looking at stuff on the internet. I discovered a place in nearby Houston that would refurbish and rewire old light fixtures.

I took them a set of sconces and a rather plaint chandelier that had been in the breakfast room. When they were finished, they replaced a set of existing sconces and I decided to take the dining room and living room chandeliers in for refurbishing.

It takes some time for all of that to happen; we had a single light bulb in both rooms—mood lighting—romantic in a way but really tough to see the clues in the crossword puzzle each morning.

The chandeliers have now been successfully rehung—the rooms are bright and cheery and I just had to brag on how pretty they are.Sylviq Weir Week 2 Mirror

Here I am trying to get the perfect shot:

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Just to keep my humble, I took a photo through the mirror of a dresser (grandfather’s) looking at another mirror which served as a hat repository–and a place to check self before exiting (grandmother’s). hall20mirror-m

 

Visionary

vision20202020full20size-mI’m always up for a challenge and the year 2020 is just too easy to envision several challenges regarding vision, or sight. This is my challenge piece 20 by 20 inches for the Vision 2020 to be shown in Australia…..if it is selected. If not, it was a fun piece.

In third grade, the state mandated vision testing for all grade school children. The chart arrived and was hung in the hallway, One by one we were called out while the rest of us waiting anxiously in the classroom whispering among ourselves worried this would be the harbinger of some terrible news or required action. I remember nearly standing on my head trying to show the direction of the legs of that E…..we were supposed to use our hand to point in the direction of the E’s legs.

The background fabric for the piece is a decorator fabric with graphic images of eye lashes, eyes and tick marks. I cut out and appliqued the rayon E’s…rayon not being a good choice of fabric type but it was the densest black I had, then hand embroidered around each letter to give a bit of color that would only be obvious up close, and then machine stitched it with a variegated black and white thread in straight lines to suggest the lines in the chart.

Onward

New Year Resolutions abound at this time of year—and a lot of them already broken. Some use a word or phrase to shape their year; I tend to do both. I tend to lean toward the list method. And ruefully the same things appear on the list each year—things like–recover the couch—–fix dining room ceiling…clean up yard….

Some of the tasks are never-ending—how can you ever stay caught up on laundry or cleaning the bathroom?

But then there is the Wisconin motto—Onward…

I think it is a great motto—looking forward, building on the past and still moving—not standing motionless paralyzed by regret or anger but going forward.

I’ve been part of a weekly photo challenge for several years. Some of the participants are expert at filters and composites and other fancy things in photoshop; others seem to live in particularly gorgeous areas with abundance of great photo ops; those are not in my skill set. One year I did try to do some fancy stuff and spent a great deal of time on it; I was rewarded by someone commenting I should have taken the time to find a better photo site…it was really hard not to look at that person’s submission with a highly critical and negative view. But I cheated myself out of not participating for the remainder of the year.

So this year—-it is Onward! and here is my photo:

Week 1 Sylvia Weir Word of the Year

This is a view of Amistad Resevoir just north of Del Rio Texas. Several rivers contribute to the Reservoir but the best known is the Rio Grande. This area is part of the Chihuahuan desert and features some of the typical vegetation but more abundantly due to the reservoir and the amount of water available. Some years the reservoir is quite low but this time it is quite high; fishing is a popular activity.

Problem Solving

Thread comes in many lovely colors and sizes of spools but I don’t always need a full cone (at $35 each) of a color. And I have a lot of smaller spools but they do not work well on the Gammill. The thread catches on the small slot intended to corral the thread from unwinding itself all over the floor.

One of my sons solved this problem. We designed a spool cap that would fit over the top of the spool and prevent catching in the slot. It worked absolutely perfectly.

Now I can use a lot of different threads and not necessarily invest in a lot of cones of thread.

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A little something for Ella and Eli

My mother was a quilter and like many left behind some starts and stops, experiments and partially completed projects. I have been finishing up some of them and gifting them to her great-grandchildren.

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the first one is for Ella and the teddy bears is for Eli—-a set of twins, children of one of my nephews and his lovely wife.

I have one more to quilt—the boxes are slowly being emptied and put to good use.

Blues…….Indigo batiks

It isn’t much of a secret that my favorite color is blue—in nearly form but particularly a lovely indigo color—and a purply blue heather color—the color I painted in my sewing room. Several years ago I bought two cotton bedspreads made in Indigo with the intention of making them into a lightweight summer quilt.

The fabric is somewhat gauzy making it a bit stretchy and more than a bit difficult to quilt—and then I chose a lovely warm cranberry red thread for the quilting. That thread disappeared into the fabric and it seemed to take forever to get it quilted.

But now it is done and is in the queue to be bound—the hardest part of that is the trimming.

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Birds

One of the fun news articles this past week—-and don’t we all appreciate something nice….has been about a woman who bought an unfinished embroidery project at an estate sale and enlisted others to complete it. I have a similar project but haven’t enlisted anyone to to work on it besides myself.

 

It is a set of beautifully embroidered state birds. Someone decided to paint the outlines of the states in an off color white–at first I thought they had mended the blocks but after looking at a few more, I discovered some state outlines. Ohio is not that remarkable a shape–but Texas is.

First I had to trim up the edges to make them all reasonably uniform sized.img_2671-m

Then I had to calculate the pieces to make these into square-ish blocks AND figure out img_2673-mhow to cut those pieces using the rulers I had.img_2674-m

Adding all those corners took some time but now all the blocks have been cornered and are awaiting joining to their neighbors. I am not putting them any particular order although I thought about putting all the cardinals together somewhere.img_2676-m

Final challenge will be the quilting; how to not overwhelm that beautiful embroidery will be something I will have to think about a bit. That will occupy my mind while I am doing the rather mundane part of trimming (again) and stitching together.img_2678-mimg_2679-m