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Acrobats and a Bull

Last Thursday was a doctor visit day and I like to spend some time in the Museum of Fine Arts. There is always something new and interesting to see and sometimes just walking through the galleries in a different direction yields something exciting. It has been a long time since I’ve been in a museum–thanks to the pandemic—and I was eager to see the Calder-Picasso exhibit.

It was beautifully displayed; the huge mobiles hung from the main gallery space as well as most of the downstairs gallery rooms. It was something that was difficult to photograph although I gave it a try.

Calder’s work began with small figures constructed of a very thin wire; some with a single piece. One grouping was of acrobats—and reminiscent of the French exhibit of the people dissected and posed but without the odor of formaldehyde. The pieces grew larger and suggested foliage and vines and airplanes. PIcasso used a heavier wire for his pieces; and the two of them both worked with folded metal sheets.

Picasso also did a series of lithographs featuring a bull. The series began with a simple line drawing reminiscent of the cave drawings and progressed to a fully modeled bull. or perhaps it began with a fully muscled creature that was pared down to a simple line image.

Of note, Picasso was most fascinated with his masculinity as that anatomic part was frequently exaggerated in size–perhaps envy on his part.

of interest also was the concept of an initial sketch of the final sculpture.

Thinking in 3-D and in motion is not an easy task. I thought Statics was a fun mathematical challenge but then when I had to think about those stationary items moving—the math was easy, the concept difficult. Picasso was able to converse equally in 2-d and 3-d formats; and Calder in 3-d and in motion.

It was an exciting and overwhelming exhibit in the complexity of display. Here are a few more images–a taste of what was there—but the magnitude and airiness of the pieces is something not captured in photos.

Pay no attention to the man with the immense granite marble.

Dipping my toes

Winter is our favorite time to visit the beach. Sometimes, like yesterday, the weather is perfect, sunny and warm. Other times it may be chilly and blustery but there are few people there. It is peaceful and serene. I like to wade in the water and although I roll my pant legs up, they get soaked. I thought I might avoid that problem by wearing a pair of German Army shorts (no photo!).

I regretted that apparel choice as there was a breeze. And the water was cold!

We did have the beach to ourselves, though. Two trucks drove by, waved and kept going. No fishermen/persons. No radios. Just birds and the waves and rustling of the marsh grasses.

Toby and Dora raced up and down the beach, occasionally dashing into the waves. Dora took care to roll in the sand several times. The back seat of Tessie looks like we brought the beach home with us.

There weren’t many shells but there was a rotting catfish Toby really wanted but wasn’t sure she could eat it all before being called away===and of course there were birds to chase—never successfully.

The Great Blue we had seen before was wading along the shoreline once again. Gulls and sanderlings and other shore birds were there too.

We had a lunch of cheese and crackers; decided to visit what used to be the Dick Dowling park but is now the Sabine Pass Battleground park. For the first time since we have lived here, there was an entry fee. The park is nicely laid out with lots of places for fishing, a boat ramp, and interpretative signage of the Civil War battle and World War II munitions storage.

We walked along the fishing piers, Toby thought Glen should open the ‘gate’ at the end of the pier for her; and tried sampling the salt water at the edge of the boat ramp–didn’t like the first ramp water, thought the second might be better.

Everyone was tired when we got home. This morning Dora reluctantly went out to fetch the newspaper–if there had been a thought bubble over her head it would have read–‘grumble, grumble, grumble, okay…but don’t ask me to do anything else today”

Dora rolled in the sand several times while Toby was too eager to run to take the time to roll in the sand

Swans know which side their bread is buttered on

Yesterday was a day in Houston for a doctor appointment. Unlike the previous Thanksgiving weekend—dreary, rainy and cold, the day was bright and filled with sunshine. Although there is a parking garage at the doctor’s office, maneuvering my truck through all those turns and low ceilings does not put me in a calm mood. Whenever possible, I park in the Herman Park and zoo parking lot and walk over to my appointment.

The walk is pleasant and I encounter others strolling through the park, some on bicycles, some with strollers, a few runners. But then there is the pond system, the fountain in the middle and the ever present water fowl presence. Earlier this year, I encountered a family of ducklings trailing after their mother—and there is always time to sit on a bench and just enjoy.

Yesterday a few people sat on the side of the pond and threw some sort of food to the birds.

A man dressed in a hoodie and carrying a large plastic bag handed a small bag to a boy and offered tips on the best method of tossing the food.

See the swan in the upper left corner? She (?) kept an eye on that man with the hooded sweatshirt and the bag of food. She circled around but never came close to the children.

I don’t know why he had that net in his hands but that swan clearly recognized him.

As he walked off to the left and around the pond, she paddled as fast as she could to keep up although the children were still tossing food to the remaining birds.

Then he was gone down the path and she came paddling back–perhaps hoping for some crumbs from the children–but they had also left—the bag of food empty and they were ready to hop on the little train circling the park.

This is such a wonderful park filled with benches here and there; birds, turtles, trees, fountains, paddle-boats. Not quite Central Park in New York City but still a treasure.

A Sparkling Clean Engine

I never understood the fascination with whatever is under the hood in a vehicle.

I do know how to check the oil and refill the windshield washer fluid bucket (basket? jar?.

Many years ago, I was working in Kenya, staying with my brother-in-law when a call came from another missionary regarding her car. She had decided to wash her engine and now it would not start. He went to do something and we both thought about the need for washing car engines.

But at the Silsbee cruise last weekend I saw spotless engine compartments, gleaming components, and extensive cleaning of windshields, tires, bumpers. A few were parked under trees for the shade–and I wondered about the tree droppings.

It was a gorgeous day and I took more than a few photos of engine parts and hoods.

But I am still not planning on washing the engine under the hood of my F250 diesel.

Here are a few more photos from the day for those of you who enjoy vehicle parts.

and the guy in the yellow shirt in the walker/seated is Henry Ford talking with another exhibitor.

Mud Glorious Mud

If you don’t live near a beach or a lake but cannot resist the feeling of squishing toes in water, then you make a mud hole.

And you put in it lots of implements—sieves, shovels, slotted spoons, toy trucks, mutant crabs, and a lot of imagination.

Unfortunately I did not have spare clothes with me or I would have joined in. The project at hand was making an island in the middle of the ‘lake’ for the mutant crab to rest on.

Two brothers and a cousin entertained themselves–after chasing turkeys and a picnic lunch with grandparents, parents, and assorted great uncles and great aunts (one was me!).

Alas, I had to confine myself to grownup type activities and so I took advantage of the sunflowers on the edge of the garden. They are such curious and interesting plants—reminding me of the wind turbines and appearing to be human like in their stance and steady facing of the sun.

Afternoon Delighted to be at this stage

Many people make New Year’s Resolutions; some choose a word, some list projects to be completed. I’ve done all three at times. In December of 2019 I decided I would make the 2020 Block of the Month hosted by The Quilt Show. Once that promise was made to myself, I felt obligated!

Much to my chagrin it featured double nine-patches and a lot of applique with teeny tiny pieces. But I did it!

And now it is on the quilting frame; after spending some time agonizing over the proper way to quilt it. I am not expert at custom quilting and somehow a pantograph–all-over row pattern didn’t seem right.

After a lot of thinking–and procrastination, I loaded it up; and began. I used straight lines for the borders, cross-hatching for the nine patches, and stippling for the applique blocks.

I’m about half way though.

My back is not happy standing and so I bought a very nice office chair to rest on while I do the stippling and cross-hatching—this is not exactly a sit-down machine—but it seems to work okay for me.

Isn’t that back pretty? The quilt shop in Warren posted it on one of their ‘new fabric just in’ and I had to have it. I think it is perfect for the

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.

Running Away

There is an old aphorism that you can’t hide from your troubles; they will follow you.

While that seems to be true, there is the thought that seeing and being somewhere else gives a fresh perspective to those tag-along problems.

In early May I had back surgery No. 4, a long-awaited surgery that seemed to have doubtful improvement. It required a much longer and more difficult procedure than anticipated and the recovery has been long and difficult. In some ways, it seems no better than before and now I must deal with the denial of payment for the additional procedures deemed necessary at the time.

However, that is neither here nor there.

The Fourth of July has always been one of my favorite holidays—a day of celebration and family gatherings. I had missed the past few–illnees and then of course, Covid–the year of Lent that lasted forever!. But this year I was determined. We drove up on Friday July 1st and arrived on the following day. We had in tow our two border collie dogs—there was no room for them at the pet resort.

Remarkably they were extremely well behaved even in the hotel where they did not notify us that there were other people in ‘our house’.

The week was spent clearing out the berry patch that had been over-run by a grape vine that has never produced.

I bent, twisted, picked up, ran the wheelbarrow to a brush pile.

My back did not like the trip there and back–but the activity of clearing out that brush was better than any of the physical therapy sessions.

And just for fun—here is a photo of one of the delights of the week.

bluebird nest along the fence line of two oat fields

I’ll be sorting through all my photos and posting some exerpts over the next few days. In the meantime, has anyone seen my keys?

Dumaflaches, thingamajigs and whatchamacallits

Words are endlessly fascinating—translating from other languages into English or from English to other languages can be a source of amusement or frustration. Reading directions for electronic devices created in the Far East and translated literally into English does not help those of us who tend to follow directions sequentially.

However, I am here to report that I am NOT following the directions sequentially on this project.

For the past several years, the QuiltShow has sponsored a Block of the Month. The pattern is released a month at a time; you (I) am supposed to complete each month’s assignment and be ready for the next month. Usually there is a lovely fabric kit available but since I have more fabric than I will ever use, I pick out an array from what I have.

Since I began this project in Month 5, not Month 1 like I was supposed to; I had a lot of catching up to do.

I am gaining ground on the project.

There are two roads in this quilt, an inner road and an outer road; the inner road is now complete; the outer is partially sewn and ready for me to assemble into arcs.

However, this is a paper-pieced project. I hate paper-piecing. I piece the required houses, and strips of roads, and then use the freezer paper template to cut the resulting pieces into appropriate sizes. I am also working with a quarter of the quilt—NOT the entire quilt. I am not fond of putting things into circles when I can put them into an arc and then sew some long straight seams.

For those of you who are not quilters—I do other things—but when it is raining and there is 2 or more inches of standing water in the lawn, I could read—but that doesn’t make for a very interesting post.

Anyone know the origin of dumaflache? Does it sound like words in another language? The others can be separated into words—but dumaflache??? French? Welch? Swedish? German?

After the Floods

Living on the Gulf coast means hurricanes and tropical storms. Preparing for hurricanes is much like preparing for a blizzard in the Midwest,…stock up on nonperishable items, make sure you have all your medications and are prepared to stay in your home for at least a week without any outside resources …..or leaving with same to parts unknown.

We have evacuated twice—once with two vehicles–I had three little boys and a cat along with a few snacks and a few extra clothes; once to position myself for work with husband in a small hospital. It was nerve wracking to see the same videos posted by the national networks, the newspapers working on printing human interest stories instead of information.

Then came Rita, Humberto, and Ike—the loss of many of our wonderful old live oak trees and the slow recovery efforts despite hordes of swamp mosquitoes requiring the Air Force to spray and so many helicopters flying overhead.

And then the flooding with the torrential rains from tropical storm Harvey and now Imelda, Laura, and the two Greek storms. Although Harvey was in the fall of 2017, people are still not back in their homes, money for recovery is slowly trickling in—-and the same houses that some people just repaired have flooded again. Blue tarped roofs are everywhere and with the pandemic and its isolation, recovery has been difficult.

The local grocery store took on a foot of water, a car dealership the same or more. One business had the air conditioner fall through the flat roof–destroying everything inside.

This week has brought cool weather and rain—thunder and lightening. Toby hides under the knee hole of my desk, needs to be on a leash to go outside for her bathroom break, and we have been asked to reduce our energy usage due to power shortages. After our February freeze and our ‘rolling blackouts’ that lasted for hours here but days elsewhere, we were all more than a bit apprehensive.

While ‘climate change’ is a popular media topic subject to scare tactics, hurricane season is approaching. I begin to stock up in May—cases/gallons of bottled water, canned goods requiring little preparation other than reheating on the gas cook-top and a fresh cannister of ground coffee—-if there is coffee in the morning—life is good.