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Memories

For many years I sat down with a pile of photos and clippings from the past year and put them in an album, remembering the year as I went and composing our annual Christmas letter. Those photos are slowly fading away and so we have undertaken the project of converting them to digital.

My mother-in-law’s house has been slowly sorted out and distributed; she is still living but in an assisted living home. We have been the recipients of boxes of books, linens, old letters, and now photographs. As I sort through them I can only think of all those people in our area who lost everything–including photos and mementos.

One of my nephews lost everything in a tragic fire—but being of the age he is–kept his photos electronically–and so many of the memories are still there.

This photo is of my middle son proudly mounted on ‘Smokey’ the best horse ever on his first riding at Estes Park YMCA in Colorado.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Hummers and Holus Bolus

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Twice a year a group of friends gather together for a few days of fun–eating, laughing, and some sewing. The location varies and all of them have been great, most requiring more travel for one of us–but this August we met in a lovely retreat in Athens Texas.

The house was modern in style looking a bit odd in the middle of woods and A-frames and log cabins along the road. Surrounding us was a field all with utilities laid in for a housing development that never happened. Trees and deer and hummingbirds were abundant. I took dozens of pictures of these little gems but since we had filled up the vehicle with necessary supplies–my tripod had to stay home.

I find serenity in open spaces, solitude, and nature…all a welcome contrast to my usual hectic busy life—and then of course, the wonderful food prepared by others and cleaned up by others–I was a failure at that–putting up dirty dishes thinking the dishwasher was just not working very well and then managed to spill coffee all over the counter-top. You might think all of that was intentional to get out of kitchen duties–but truly–cross my heart–I am capable–but just not that week.

More photos of the house and our projects and us and a few of the hummingbirds are here: https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/QuiltGroups/Athens-Tx-August-2017/

 

Harvey Cleanup and Repair

Our city seems to be slowly recovering but there are many who are still displaced and wondering where they will go next. On the other hand some of us are using this time to do some much needed repairs.

I have some property out of town which used to house my sewing machine business, now it houses my bee hive and bee equipment plus a lot of my sewing/fabric playtoys including Vivian my Gamill.

img_6418-mYesterday husband repaired the front eave on the porch. Just tearing down the eave which was hanging by one end and prompted a passerby to leave me a sign saying that he bought dilapidated houses made it look much improved., Replacling the rotten boards–probably because of clogging up of the drain spout from the cedar tree that lived there until Rita. Guess I should clarify–that was Hurricane Rita–followed by Humberto and then Ike in this area, not to mention tropical storm Allison and other assorted near storms with downpours of up to ten inches of rain in a day.

We had already repaired the shed roof–which houses the bee equipment; ran the lawn mower around, I picked up a lot of dead branches, and we checked on the bees. I am down to just one hive now–and there is an abundance of ants. The oil trap seems to be working well with a few hive beetles and a lot of ants.

While he worked on that eave, I worked on this community service quilt. I must confess I am accustomed to my own piecing–which–not to brag–well, okay bragging some–does not have ruffly edges. This top was beautifully pieced in the center but the borders were too long and so it ruffled. To compound the problem, the backing was just barely big enough. When I trimmed it afterward, I had mere slivers of backing to remove. It may have been my inexperience as a longarm quilter but it was definitely a challenge.img_6423-m

And yes, that is my attempt at free-form feathers. I think I need to stick to pantographs.

 

Now back to my own work–I still have a backlog to complete.

 

Is Wheat a grass?

Last week’s photo assignment was ‘grass’. I’ve been busy with a few other things around here but wanted to get back into the routine of meeting the weekly challenges. Usually I do not look at the other challenge photos until I have posted mine–and it seems there are others who also do so. This time, though, I peeked. There were gorgeous closeups of clumps of grass and expansive lawns and even one of a llama with a mouthful.

A year or so ago, my farm renter planted red winter wheat. It wasn’t so successful but there were a few stalks standing. I plucked them and put them on my dashboard to remind me of my farm.  They have slowly dried to the point of falling apart.

I carefully picked up what was left and put it on my front stoop–cement that has seen over a century of moss and rain and weather. As is my usual, I do very little in Photoshop–perhaps the image would benefit from some manipulation.Sylvia Weir Grass

And yes, wheat is a grass.

Handling Harvey and Eying Irma

On Sunday the sermon was about our ‘new normal’. That normal changes from day to day and sometimes hour to hour. We were without tap water for about two days and then it was a trickle and intermittent. Exxon Mobil and two other companies teamed up despite dealing with their own plant issues to provide a temporary water supply for us–not potable–but enough to flush toilets. Now we have one of our permanent pumps back in action and we are just waiting for the water quality to be approved.

Long lines are still everywhere–lining up for water, free hot meals. Some places are still flooded, other areas have been removing carpet and drywall and the stench reaches through my vehicle. One post office open and the UPS main office is overwhelmed by people who have received notices their package has been delivered but things are still stuck in Houston.

For several days we were blocked in by flooded roadways—not just me in my neighborhood but the entire city. Before that we were trapped by the incredible downpour–at first logged at 52 inches—our annual rainfall is 54 inches–and now some reports are that it was closer to 64 inches. Travel is possible but very congested.

After Hurricanes Rita and Ike, the sound in the evening hours was chainsaws. Now we hear helicopters of every variety flying overhead from early in the morning until late at night. Some area are still flooded with restoration of water and power not possible.

In some respects the city looks much the same–but then there are some traffic lights that are not functional, the few stores that are open have limited hours, a few restaurants are open with limited menus but more are closed with empty parking lots. All our ‘normal’ busyness of running this or that errand, picking up this, shopping for a card or skein of yarn for a project, making an appointment are things to be considered as a ‘do later’ or ‘do I really need this’ mode.

Irma and Jose are still very much on our minds, hoping they will not come here but feeling a bit guilty for wishing them to go elsewhere—not that our hopes or wishes have much to do with meteorological influences.

In the midst of all of this, though, I found two of my orchids blooming. another20orchid20in20bloom-morchid20in20bloom-m

 

 

Color and Collages

The local Fiber Art group I started has been doing monthly collages and will begin a mystery block exchange in September. I suggested a color study so we will have something to critique along with our collages.

The collages were to include text somewhere in the completed piece. I got more than a bit behind and started in July with this piece. I decided to pick out just one event for the month and illustrate it. July’s piece was all about the Rainier cherries–my favorite fruit after MacIntosh apples.july201720collage-m

The second piece was about the Solar Eclipse as viewed in Fort Worth Texas….If I had known Harvey was gong to be so eventful I might have chosen it but I am trying to focus on pleasurable things–not devastation or sadness.

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These two pieces and the subsequent pieces will be mounted on stretcher bars and better photos taken then and uploaded to website.

And then here is the beginning of the color exchange. Each person chose a paint chip of the three primary colors…I did all three as examples–but actually I lost the extra paint chips somewhere and so could not pick one. The rules were simple–a simple coloring book image, shades of the color–white or black okay but the fabric had to read that color. It could also be done with crayons, paint or paper.

I began with pulling appropriate fabrics and then chose them to indicate some semblance of volume in the image.fabrics20pulled20for20color20challenge-m

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These pieces are now all appliqued in place; I will add embroidery accents later this week.

Our next challenge will be the secondary colors. And hopefully we will all be back to somewhat normal by the time the next challenge is due to be assigned.

 

A la Rocky

This week’s photo assignment was to emulate on of my classmate’s style of lots of texture and alterations in original photos.

After nearly a week indoors due to Harvey and the Noah’s Ark rainfall—I can’t imagine poor Mrs. Noah with that menagerie–trying to feed them all and clean up after them while Noah and his sons sat around playing video games and watching baseball on TV. I’m sure she was the one that told Noah he had to see what was going on out there and let some fresh air into that boat.

But I digress.

Sun shone two days ago and so I wandered out around our neighborhood, camera in hand and spied several palm branches on a vacant lot. I had to step carefully as there was still a lot of water everywhere and took several photos.

Needing a break from the barrage of harrowing water rescues, lost and found puppies, missing uncles, and low water pressure, I decided to play around with one of the images. This can occupy anyone’s time for hours on end. Planning to go out sometime today to check on my property elsewhere and hoping the solar gate has recharged itself, I uploaded this photo as my assignment for the week.

Sylvia Weir altered photo

Tadpoles in the Toilet

My preparations for any hurricane begin in May with the purchase of bottled water, filling up gas cans for lawn mowing, buying non-perishable food stuffs, filling up fuel tank on vehicle, and getting all my prescriptions filled. This is much like preparing for a blizzard in my native Wisconsin but here in Texas we do not have to worry about being cold.

No-one expected Harvey to turn into a sub-tropical storm. We were all prepared for a lot of rain but not 50 inches. We were supposed to be on the ‘clean’ side but Harvey bounced back into the Gulf and became subtropical wich meant our side was the ‘dirty’ side….sheets of water in bands for days. Rain started on Thursday, continued on Friday and then Saturday afternoon became very heavy. Due to the rain I was in my house until Wednesday afternoon–and then in a slicker jacket and snake boots getting soaked.

Toby and Dora–our two rescue puppies and Border collie mixes were very confused–not sure if it was day or night and neither one wanting to get their little tushies wet while taking care of business.

I had power, water, and phone/internet service (amazing for the internet as it is spotty on good days). I don’t have cable so not a lot of updates with the exception of Facebook entries.

The roads in and out of Beaumont are closed–so I truly cannot go anywhere and due to some of the neighbors I have here–reluctant to leave due to the looting probability.

I started hearing helicopters flying overhead very low on Wednesday when it was still raining heavily. Yesterday I heard them all day long–very low over my house—one of our hospitals is being evacuated.

I also woke up to no water in the taps, diminishing selections of food in my pantry, and desperately no more dog treats. Dog Food but no treats for two very spoiled dogs. Fortunately they think pond water is great drinking water especially since it is now full of tadpoles which they can chase about while I fill a bucket to flush my toilets.

Water and supplies are supposed to be on their way but the lines are very long and there is no estimate as to when we will have water again. The Neches River has not crested yet and the estimate thus far is feet above record–not inches. And that is where we draw our water from–those pumps are under water and the wells in the northern part of town are under water and failed as well.

Fortunately, the drainage system put in has worked really well–I had water to the curb several times but the parts of the neighborhood that always flood badly did not.

I don’t have photos of flooding but you can see how close the helicopters are flying over my house–and it is a steady procession from 6 in the morning until 8 at night.

For now, I am safe and dry and with some supplies—hauling water from the garden pond to flush the toilet is not my favorite task—and I wonder how long it takes tadpoles to become toads.

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here is my house..looks like a mansion doesn’t it–two stories with ten foot ceilings on both floors.

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All the lovebugs have been washed on the grill of my truck–it was covered!

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this is looking west toward one of the hospitals. We are in the flight path of Medivac flights but they are rarely this low. Lots of helicopters flying overhead–Coast Guard, National Guard and probably many others–I don’t know types of helicopters well enough to identify all but I could have stood outside all day long taking photos of them.

More photos of helicopters if you are intrigued by them here: https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/HouseinBeaumont/Hurricane-Harvey/i-sJ67m9j/A

3-D Images and Biology

While at Texas Weslayan University in Fort Worth for the solar eclipse earlier this month, my son suggested a stroll through the nearby Biology building to view the artwork displayed on the walls there.

The artist wanted to connect visual ideas with biology and while her methods were intriguing. Unfortunately, I with my advanced Biology degree found the lack of anatomically accuracy distracting.

For instance, this piece had an outline of the head but with the lines going straight from the front to the back–Our visual experience is much more complicated than a straight line–and there is auditory and olfactory senses involved also.img_6351-m

The eye was made of rolled up papers but there was no sclera or pupil–the only part was the wire eyelashes tha informed the idea of the eye.img_6345-m

The workmanship of these pieces was immaculate showing attention to detail and perhaps she wanted a very simple representation of what she was thinking.

One piece used a number of straight pins stuck through plexiglass–an interesting project–but she did not use the shadows cast by the pins in the piece.img_6348-m

While I do like to work a bit to understand a piece of art, this was too simple. Perhaps her next series will be more challenging intellectually.

As usual more photos on smugmug at https://sylviaweirphotos.smugmug.com/Art/Sculptures-in-Biology-Building-at-Texas-Weslayan-University/

Eclipsing the Sun with Froot Loops and Rice Krispies

Viewing the solar eclipse has been on my calendar for several months and the only concern was figuring out where I was going to be. I thought of going to Wyoming or even Oklahoma where one small town set up a chicken coop in the center of town so people could watch the chickens roost. But then I had to work and the dogs would not be particularly interested in a long drive nor hanging around while we stared at the sky with our special glasses.

My oldest son is a professor at Texas Weslayan University in Fort Worth Texas–a mere five hour drive from here. I called him and asked what he was doing–he thought he would drive to St. Louis but then decided it would not be good to miss the first day of class. He talked it over with the professor of Physics and they decided to put together an event—in just three weeks. The library director also assisted in the project.

Husband decided to drive down from Wisconsin and I drove from home—and we met at his house–still unfurnished and getting painted before getting the floors done and his furniture moved in—his dog, Rosie, met me with great enthusiasm–she is still a puppy at 18 months–and did a lot of mouthing–I had to have bandaids so I wouldn’t drip on the really ugly carpeting that Rosie would then chew up.

Monday was bright, sunny, and clear with a bit of a breeze. We were assigned the task of making pinhole cameras from cereal boxes–a scramble to find aluminum foil, and pins in an office building but secretary there was quite resourceful. Mike made a point of pointing out the cheap project to his education majors.

Here is Glen working on a pinhole camera from a Froot Loop Cereal Box1-20glen20making20pinhole20camera20from20cereal20boxes-m

We proceeded out to the quad where I practiced using the camera so I could demonstrate–we took pictures through the eyepiece–a bit of a challenge, I tried a solar dye on paper–but there was too much ambient light–and took photos of the eclipse shining through the leaves of a tree on the nearby sidewalk. About six hundred pairs of eclips glasses were handed out–I shared mine with dozens of people. Faculty, students, football team, and even housekeeping showed up to look—it was a spectacular success===amd the universal responses were…..WOW!!!!!!!!! or AWESOME!!!!!!!!

2-20checking20out20solar20dyes-m Solar dye by Jaquard–I picked that leaf off a nearby shrub–hope the garden crew doesn’t mind.

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shooting through the eyepiece at the full sun prior eclipse—Froot Loop box. I held the box, husband held the camera.

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here we are setting up. The library director, her mother and husband also assisted.

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More set-up. Husband is wearing the camo bee veil in foreground, Son is in the black Tshirt and ball cap talking to the studen with a backpack on far left. That T-=shirt is from the telescope in Hawaii–where he and we had a private tour—not at the same time–something few visitors get to see. The man with the blue shirt and khaki pants is the physics professor.

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partial eclipse as seen through tree leaves on the sidewalk beside the quad.

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Glen cut a somewhat ragged hole in a very large piece of cardboard and we directed it at a plastic wrapped piece of poster board.

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a nice smooth hole yielded a better image

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compared to this one.

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here is my attempt with solar dye–it was purple–on my sketchbook–but there was too much light. I should have put the paper inside the cereal boxes.

Next event is in 2024 where we will be in the total eclipse zone.