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A Purple Weed-Chopper

Today was a lovely hot day with puffy white clouds floating across the sky, perfect for the rescheduled fly-in at the local municipal airport. We arrived around eleven in time to see some parachutists landing. Vintage cars lined the tar-mac and then there were the planes. Mostly smallish ones–two or three passenger ones at best—and then there were the ultra-lights or experimentals.

In the background is the Polyethylene plant–I used to work there as the occupational physician. I learned a lot about people and management and work processes there. The plant looks to have tripled in size since I was there and sometimes I wish I was still there.

A friend from those days, husband’s partner and son, and another friend from motorcycle days were there with two vintage cars. Husband thought he could have parked Tessie there as it was the only one in the parking lot. That would have been nice as there was a huge turn-out and we parked a good distance away on the side of Keith Road.

As we caught up chatting—the habit of pandemic seclusion a bit challenging to break—a truck drove up in front of us towing a what is lovingly referred to as a ‘weed-chopper’.

I thought it might be a glider with its wings furled around a center mast—the wings are made of rip-stock nylon identical to sails—and made by sail making companies. The man, his son and two grand-children carefully prepared the plane—-taking about an hour to fit all the pieces together. I was graciously allowed to sit in the pilot’s seat—-

It was a bit of a chore to climb through those struts with my back not bending very much.

I took more photos of some of the other ultra-lights, flying planes—and a lot of sky with clouds and no plane—and then what my engineer-minded husband and sons think of as rather odd—engine parts.

I do not know what this is or what it does. I have been accused of thinking like a surgeon at times–‘i.e. stop talking about the problem, let’s figure out a way to fix it’ but maybe with a bit of pruning, it could be part of an engineering bent.

I will do a bit more editing of the photos I took—and upload them into my Texas 2021 folder on Smugmug.

Five Buckets of Kelly Green

Five Buckets of Kelly Green. two buckets of Purple and Sky blue and a quart jar of Yellow

I was not particularly familiar with David Hockney’s work. I had read about his work with an ipad but had never viewed any of his paintings.

However, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston hosted a Hockney-Van Gogh exhibit and as I have a membership and given the seclusion of the past year or more, I was eager to see some art.

I usually park in the Herman Park Zoo parking lot, walk across the park enjoying the ducks and the turtles and the little train and the fountain in the middle of the pond and all the little children darting about. However, EVERYONE was at the zoo this morning—-the parking lot was FULL and dozens of cars drove around aimlessly hoping for a vacant spot. I ended up parking in a church lot with a bit of a hike to the museum.

Fortunately I was able to use my timed ticket although I was fifteen minutes late.

Hockney likes kelly green—buckets and buckets of the stuff; sometimes he contrasts it with a purple—both colors seem to come directly out of their buckets with no mixing.

Interspersed were some lovely small paintings of Van Gogh’s—he certainly delighted in color, mixing it on the canvas–and favoring a variety of greens, yellows and a turquoise-y blue. The only commonality I could see was that all the paintings reflected landscape—Hockney painted the same bit of road in many seasons and in many lights–but always with that dreadful kelly green.

There were some lovely charcoal drawings of wooded scenes and a series of watercolors–that seemed random landscapes–but perhaps that was the curator who placed them in such a fashion.

Of interest, though, one of Van Gogh’s drawings of a wooded scene was done in reed pen and ink over pencil with a wash over the top—interesting combination of media.

I did pick up a few postcards as reminders of the day—I have decided to not get catalogs–they are heavy to carry and I rarely look at them again–postcards are lightweight–easy on the wallet and reminiscent enough of the day.

The exhibit closes on June 27 and from what I could tell about ticket availability next Saturday the 19th is the last available day to view the exhibit. Next up is Monet to Matisse—one I’m sure to find more to my liking and aesthetics. However, it is always good to see art, analyze it for content and appeal, and see what I might use in my own work.

But it will not be huge doses of kelly green.

Brothers can be SO Annoying

My oldest grand-daughter had a dance recital a bit ago. We were thrilled to attend and watch her do splits and cartwheels with the greatest aplomb.

Afterward we gathered outside for a photo op.

The youngest grand-daughter must be in the ‘opposite’ stage of life–she turned her head when asked to smile for the photo—but she was pleased to sort through the donut-holes we brought for her favorites—not the filled ones.

But then—a group photo—me with my youngest son and his three children–the youngest still turned away.

And that brother!!!!

I remember them being equally annoying—but I had five–not just one to contend with.

My walker was parked nearby—it was a long day—but so wonderful to see son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren again.

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.

Charcoal from a Forest Fire

Fire has an odd fascination and while I trained as a chemical plant/refinery firefighter, participated in numerous drills at school and in the dorm, watched with horror as fire consumed houses and acres of trees, my plan always was to exit quickly and wait for someone to bring the injured to me.

However, I viewed the remains of the forest fire that swept over Colorado some years ago, the beauty of the starkness of the blackened tree trunks against the snow on the mountains. While wandering about, I found some smallish twigs turned into charcoal, picked them up and brought them home. I had used vine charcoal in some of my drawing classes and thought these bits might work in a similar fashion.

My plan was always to use fabric as the base for the drawings; I used a relatively coarsely woven fabric, spread some gesso on until it was just barely damp and then attempt to use the twigs. I found it was easier to dip the twig in the gesso and draw—but still the lines were very faint.

I decided to embroider over the lines.

Then while reading about book-cloth, I wondered why I couldn’t use a decorative paper as the paper layer.

I’m gathering up courage to finish this book–I must glue it to the cover; everything is done but this very last step— and now that I’ve written about it here, I may be compelled to complete this project.

Fluttering is not such a bad thing

One of the things that occupied my thoughts this past year was learning how to make/bind/create books. I have taken some classes at the Houston Quilt Festival, bought books and some tools; but then I discovered a wonderful site on facebook featuring hand-made books. In the midst of all the vitriol posted about masks and politics, this was a welcome spot—just interesting and supportive. Although I know a lot about fabric, paper was a whole different world.

I took some zoom classes with the Printing Museum in Houston—those were fun and joined the Hand made Book Club and have been trying to keep up with the various books she posts each month–with such great videos for each step along the way.

One month’s project was a flutter book.

I wrote a short story about Monarch butterflies–milkweed grows along the fence rows on my farm. I have been thinking about using my crumb pieced blocks as book cloth instead of paper. I am not expert yet—but will keep working on it. Here is my flutter book.

Rounding the Curve

I had long wanted to take a workshop with Patricia Balyea from Okan Arts from the Northwest, signed up for a class in late March 2020 in HOuston—that was cancelled, thought about a class that August in northern Wisconsin that was also cancelled, and thought about a class in May 2021 but thought back surgery might make it difficult—but was pleased to sign up for a class via Zoom this July.

Our first class was to draw three curved lines and construct a block. I chose a design, made it and then made another switching the colors around a bit, and then made another block in a smaller size, repeated it and sewed them all together. I cut out the borders…..there is just enough for the borders and a binding.

I am now working on the second assignment curves plus straight lines. I thought I would begin with an embroidered square from a dish towel my mother embroidered along with some feed sacks my grandmother used as tablecloths and to cover the plate of slice bread and butter dish between meals.

Retreating to La Porte Texas

In today’s news I read about a leaking tanker truck at the Dow Chemical Plant in LaPorte Texas resulting in evacuations of an elementary school and a neighborhood. It seems the tanker truck had a leaky valve and the company’s HazMat team was on the scene busily assessing and dealing with the problem. Of course there are people who are always upset that the company did not disclose the full details—as it was trying to figure everything out—and delayed and distracted by all the phone calls by news media and others wanting up-to-date information. Having been one of the responders, it is frustrating and I fully understand putting out a statement the news media called ‘vague’ until they could determine the extent of the problem.

However, that is neither here nor there—as I was in LaPorte last weekend for a SEW DAY!!!!!

It had been so long since I had attended an in person workshop, I really didn’t know quite what to do.

My sewing machine had lived in its travel case in the front hallway during the pandemic.

But I managed to pack up a few projects–I always take more than I know I can complete—but you just never know how you will feel about a particular project when you pull out your sewing machine–and see if it remembers how to stitch—and did I remember how to be a participant in a workshop type environment.

And Sew It Began is a wonderful place with a lovely quilt shop next door, an old house with sleeping quarters in four bedrooms, and a sewing space that has nice tables and chairs and design walls.

My project involved some strip piecing—and I now have a huge stack ready to trim up for a project that is still jelling in my mind.

The other wonderful thing about this place is the wonderful flowers all around the outside of the buildings. My camera fogged up and so I don’t have many but these roses around the side and front the old house had a wonderful fragrance—and then there were the zinnias on the back fence—reminding me of home–where everyone planted zinnias and marigolds each spring.

Of Thistles and Queen Anne’s Lace

While farmers and livestock owners do not particularly like thistles, I have always thought they were some of the most loveliest of plants. The purple blooms against the dull green leaves provides a perfect contrast. They are considered noxious weeds to be dug out whenever possible along with multiflora roses planted many years ago as directed by the government to control erosion.

Then there is the delicate Queen Anne’s Lace. I’ve never seen it cropped by cattle and so it remains on the fence rows untouched along with the thistle. Finches like the thistle seed; thistle seed being a component of commercial bird seed mixes.

It was too early in the season to see finches working the thistles; maybe I will return later this summer or early fall and catch a glimpse of them.

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?

Purses and Baskets

Sometimes I get an idea for a project and it is just an idea but then somehow it becomes a project and then it transforms into a guilt-associated un-done object that seems to point fingers and laugh derisivlely every time I go into my sewing room. I try hiding it in a box but even the box knows what is inside.

With the pandemic in full swing—this project destined for Quilt Festival in Houston several years ago–finally emerged from that box and became reality. I studied recessed zippers, cut head foam and linings and some vinyl along with some lovely hand-woven Guatamalan fabric.

Here are four purses—I have one too—but it returned to the box to stare accusingly at me.

And at the same time–just because who doesn’t like the excitement of starting a new project? I combined two projects–a set of 8 inch blocks from a block resource guide book and baskets from the same book; I’m not so fond of basket quilt block especially whey they involve a lot of smallish triangles–I used some hand-dyed fabrics from Ricky Tims Scrap Bag Sale AND some hemp/cotton blend batik fabric I had made to set between the more colorful blocks.

It is quilted, bound, and labeled—-a new rule—I have made for myself—a finish or two must occur before embarking on a new project—although some projects are still just ideas.

More cleaning and sorting and uploading

Hot days are here—with the occasional downpour.

My back is still not happy with life and so I alternate more active things on my to-do list and the more sedentary.

Today I attended church—-and for the first time in well over a year I wondered what I should wear. I”m of the belief that you should dress up a bit for church–not to extremes—but better than every day wear.

It felt strange; pews were marked as ‘no-sit pews’, no music, no after service coffee.

In the distant past, I would mow—a solitary contemplative activity with less traffic as I have frontage to mow. I didn’t mow today but I did pick a bag full of tomatoes.

And now I am sorting through files and photos and uploading a few.

Here are a few I’ve finished up in the past few months. My new photo site is a clothesline strung along the front porch. Sometimes I have to take multiple photos as it seems that the dead calm while hanging ceases and I have corners blowing up.

This is ‘Frolic” a Bonnie Hunter winter mystery quilt. I wanted it to look like Texas spring flowers–the primrose, echinacea, and blue bonnets.

This is a Star quilt made from crumb blocks. I pulled every block that had some pink in it from a huge box hoping to make a nice dent—nope didn’t do it. The pink is from my mother’s quilt shop–a nice bubble-gum pink–the lime green and white were my additions.

And here is the back–still trying to use up those crumb blocks. They are my leader-ender pieces; I assemble them at night while watching Netflix, and sew in between my ‘regular’ sewing to prevent pieces from crawling down the needle-plate. It doesn’t take long to make a huge stack of them–then they are trimmed and ready for additions. I make them 6.5 inches square–and try as I might, I never seem to get to the bottom of the scrap bucket.