Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

All Aboard the SS Badger

The SS Badger is a National Landmark and operates between Manitowoc Wisconsin and Ludington Michigan as a coal fired steamship.

It was originally one of many car-rail ferries between Wisconsin and Michigan designed to avoid the traffic snarls created by going around Lake Michigan through Chicago.

The Badger was one of three ships built in Sturgeon Bay and was christened by Mrs. Kohler, the wife of the Kohler plumbing fixture owner. It was launched sideways and created such a splash, it knocked over three rail cars stationed in front of the mechanic shops in the harbor with lake water flowing through the shops and flooding the streets.

The season of sailing is short due to winter weather with the last sailing the middle of October. The trip each way takes about four hours but there is a time difference as Michigan is on Eastern Time and Wisconsin on Central Time.

For those of you who have taken the Galveston Ferry from Bolivar Peninsula to Galveston, this was very much the same but on a much grander scale. The cars and trucks and RV’s were driven on and off by porters who seemed to have only one speed on land–full-out run!. The large vehicles were backed in while the cars were driven in frontwards and somehow turned around to drive out forwards.

The interior of the shop had several hot food dining options, an interesting museum filled with information and a video about the Badger.

Interestingly, I discovered some photographs my grandmother had taken in 1954 when she went to Manitowoc to see the ferry. I don’t think she traveled on it as there are no Lake photos or any labeled as Michigan.

And here are two of my grandmother’s photos. There was much speculation at the Badger office regarding which ship it was and when the alterations to the ship had been made. However, my grandmother carefully noted on the back that this ship was the City of Midland.

inscripton on back reads ferry approaching August 1954

notation on back reads City of Midland August 1954Acccor

According to the Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay there were over 17 car ferry ships built along with multiple other ships as part of the War Effort in the 1940’s. Most of the transport was rail cars loaded with steel, produce and other goods.

Purple and Teal

Definitely not my favorite colors!

Digging through that box as noted yesterday, I found a panel along with some four patches and some strips and lengths of fabric from my mother’s quilting days.

Somehow on social media, I had connected with one of my parent’s neighbor. She grew up next to my parents who treated her with the same dignity and interest as their own grandchildren. She had fetal alcohol syndrome and life was not easy for her.

One day, Mom needed some help in working on a particular quilt. She asked the girl–a teenager at the time to assist her. After some time, the quilt was finished and Mom gave it to the girl.

She treasured that quilt but lost in a house fire.

She is now married with children of her own.

I thought I might give her this quilt—made from Mom’s fabrics, panel, and some of her patchwork.

and the back

I hope she will like it; it will travel to Wisconsin on our next trip hopefully in a couple of weeks.

Bookbinding Secrets

I have always enjoyed working with paper, paint, inks, and then there are BOOKS!

If I could live anywhere, it would be in a library…..

Like a lot of folks during the pandemic lock-down, I did some cleaning and organizing–but also decided to try book-binding. I am not expert but I do seem to have gained some expertise…enough not to think I have ten thumbs and understanding about grain and pressing and glues.

This month’s project was something called the Secret Belgian Binding. I’m not sure why it is called that–the stitching of the signatures to the spine is not visible on the exterior. The method used created a very stable structure. I used a gift bag for the covers, a brown paper bag for the inner covers and Neenah paper for the signatures.

The other book I finished–it is the second time I have bound it—a double needle coptic features my drawings/paintings from Big Bend earlier this year.

I had been pleased to find what I thought was a nice pad of watercolor paper at Target at a low price. then I discovered it had significant bleed-through on the back sides. Good to know—but sufficient for my first consistent plein air attempt.

Two bottles of PVA are arriving next week so I can glue the covers together–unless I decide to rebind again with a different book-cloth spine.

Apron Strings

Yesterday the Supreme Court voted 6 to 3 to return the decision about abortion to the states. There are cheers on one side and boos on the other. While I think abortion is a horrible thing to contemplate, I do not wish to return to a time of back alley abortions with coat hangers, a time in which women could not buy a refrigerator without their husband’s signature, married women only could have access to birth control again only with the written consent of their husband. At one time I prescribed birth control pills to unmarried teenagers—it was against the law at the time—and would do it again.

One weekday afternoon I watched a group of well-fed, well-housed, in expensive cars preach at women arriving at a planned parenthood clinic—not well-housed or well-fed or expensively dressed. None of those well-to-do women–who did not have jobs or anything more on their day’s tasks than selecting the restaurant for the evening’s meal—offered a bag of groceries or diapers, babysit, or a job.

Walking a mile in norther’s shoes is called compassion. I certainly cannot imagine myself in that ‘kept’ woman role but I can imagine the desperation of the women seeking help.

That said—I spent the day making this apron.

It was a pattern coupled with the fabric—and while it claimed to have two sizes, it was obviously meant for someone who was about 5’2″ and about 108 pounds.

The straps are not long enough to accommodate my broad shoulders or height. I pinned on some fabric to see if that would work better—and it does. And I think I will add a button to one strap to aid in donning.

The fabric did have a nice hand to it; the pink stripe an unusual choice for me—I don’t do florals or pink or purple.

I’m glad I can still choose what I wear and even try something different.

Photo Finish

I’ve decided to try taking photos of my not so art type quilt/fiber works using a simple setup of a clothesline strung between two posts on the porch while I stand in the bed of my F250.

Of course there is not a breath of air moving when I hang the first one up—-then the wind gusts and I try to take photos in betweens—-and then decide—those wind gusts display the backs.

So here without further ado—are three smallish lap type quilts i recently finished.

The only one created inentionally was the first one-….during a class with Patricia Belyea

Contemplation and Assessing

Some of my health care needs are found in Houston; a drive that has become much more challenging as traffic volume increases and parking spots diminish.

Sometimes things work out, the traffic is not too bad, I find a great parking spot—I’m limited by the size of my vehicle–it does not make those sharp turns in parking garages and does not fit into those tiny parking spots;—-you would think that since Texas is the state of the truck–parking garage constructors would take that into consideration.

My last two trips to Houston have not been successful. There was no parking in my usual spot; I did find a spot in a garage designed to hold school buses…great overhead space and wide turns and large spots. But it was blocks away from where I needed to be—and the ticketing device for the train did not work. So I walked–

and walked

and then sat down on a bench.

I ate my package of cheese on crackers—how many of those packages did I eat while a resident–quick/cheap/no prep required.

This is supposed to be my ‘golden’ years–a time to enjoy life.

But I spend my time fruitlessly seeking medical care. Waiting for someone who barely graduated from high school to tell me if I can have a certain medication (not an experimental or expensive one—just not on their formulary list–for some reason—I suspect due to inability to contract a cheap price–not anything to do with the quality of the medication or its effects.

Profit and dividends to shareholders and CEO’s enticement packages seem to now take precedent over standard medical care. Denials and appeals are now part of my daily life as i try to access care that will allow me to drive more than thirty minutes, walk more than twenty, and do something more than just sitting in a chair watching game show re-runs.

I’ve been watching some medical dramas and am reminded about how physically demanding my job was–I lifted so many patients, reduced shoulders, struggled with violent mentally ill or inebriated or demented patients.

Now I need medical care.

It is not there.

I never reached my destination.

I am waiting for that barely graduated from high school insurance employee to deny my request and then I can decide if I pay for what I need out of my pocket at a ridiculous price or go back to watching game show re-runs and wait to die.

Tessie’s Thistle

I’m not sure when our vehicles became ‘pets’ of sorts. Perhaps it is because they take on a sort of personality—my rough and ready F250 that served as my home/office away from home packed with blankets, reference books, water, flashlights, a few repair items. And then there is Tessie–the latest in our fleet of vehicles.

She was definitely a challenge at first, her self-driving mode a bit confusing—almost like someone learning to drive a stick shift—awkward stops at things like lamp-posts or black strips across the roads and certainly confusion over the roadwork construction cones, painted over lines.

And then there are thistles.

I have always liked thistles—not to step on or brush up against—but their big beautiful flowers atop grayed out minty green leaves. Finches like their seeds. Farmers with cows do not like thistles.

Still I take photos of them every year—fascinated by the purple globe lasting much longer than their more ubiquitous unwanted but so cheerful dandelion.

Three miles or 8016 steps

Trying to figure out relationships —of buildings and land areas and canals and bayous –can be challenging even when the sun is shining and it is a place you’ve been a dozen times or more before. People relationships may be a bit more straightforward—you can ask them who they are related to and if that person sitting next to them is their family member or friend or some random person.

Our walk—hardly a hike as it was all gravel paved road… was three miles according to Google maps but 8016 steps on my FitBit. We could hear some men talking–could see their cars through the trees—but we were too far away to ask them.

And then there was the waterway–it was not straight so guessing it was a bayou—the canals here tend to be straight and are the source of our city water.

I could look at a map.

Or I can just imagine the places that bayou runs and wonder if Ratty might be there—and maybe next time I can bring a picnic lunch.

Egg Hunters

Wisconsin springs did not always lend themselves to outdoor egg hunts. Usually my mother hid our baskets somewhere in the living room or dining room—a very small house in retrospect. One year, though, I remember an egg hunt on the farm with eggs hidden in the dog house, under the bridal wreath bushes, in the lilacs and in the crooks of trees.

Here in Texas, we are more likely to have rain than snow but this year, the weather was absolutely perfect.

It was rather a last minute request—to have an egg hunt for two grandsons and their dad—but we went shopping on Holy Saturday—to find no plastic eggs, we chose not to boil and dye regular chicken eggs, but decided on some plastic food containers with bright red tops, some Hot Wheel cars, candy eggs and little packets of M&M’s.

Before we had dogs, we hid eggs in our backyard—but with dogs able to sniff out any food related items, the front yard was our option.

The Weir boys headed out for a walk around the block while I (designated Easter bunny sub-contractor) hid the containers—including one for the dad.

Toby stuck her nose under the gate watching—and no doubt wishing she was invited.

It took them a lot longer than I thought to find the containers—with dad being the last—and taking the longest—maybe I made it too easy for him in his younger years.

But they were all successful and pleased with their finds.

Of course I needed a group photo.

and under the gate Toby and Dora both watched patiently.

We adjourned for a very traditional Easter dinner of corn dogs and ice cream drumsticks.

Oliver fell in love with Toby—Toby now showing her age and responding with less enthusiasm was so well behaved, Oliver wanted to take her home with him.

Fortunately Grandpa said no; and once again made Oliver cry with disappointment.

Bound and Labeled

Evenings while mostly listening and occasionally watching a movie or a series via Netflix or Amazon Prime are perfect for sewing down bindings.

The quilts are prepped with bindings sewn on by machine, sometimes pinned while aforesaid activity and then hand stitched. Labels are prepared by using bits and pieces of the ‘top’, a strip of muslin or other light colored fabric, ironed onto a piece of freezer paper for stability, the verbage created in Word and printed with each quilt having its own piece of paper. The words are traced onto the light colored fabric and pinned to a corner of the back.

Sewing down that binding by hand is very meditative and unlike a lot of other folks, I find it to be one of the best parts of quilt-making.

A photo is taken of the finished piece, printed on that piece of paper with the label verbage, information about the size and any details I want to add about the construction or pattern used.

Some pieces are fairly small–lap-sized or ‘baby’ quilt sized—my house is chilly around the edges and a quilt over the legs is welcome.

Here are the three I just finished:

Modified 9 patch

That center fabric–a cream color with brown leaves was my mother’s. I think she made a blouse with it. I never knew how she selected the amount of fabric she bought for clothing items.

Red and Blue Modified 9 patch with sashing

I do have a photo with the back not flying up and around but more of the ones with backing twirling to the front. I added a sashing to the same modified 9-patch idea but the center squares were left-over from another project thus dictating the final size of the block.


This was one of the projects in a curved piecing class I took with Okan Arts. The process is much like garment sewing, matching up notches or markings for accurate seaming. The light blue is a piece of batik I created using a tjap from Bali on a hemp/cotton blend fabric.

As you can see, they are all bound and all I need to do now is crop the images and print them.

The background area is my shop–a hundred year old rice farmer’s home.