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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.

Scattered flurries predicted in June

Snow is not something we see very often in Southeast Texas. Being from the Midwest, the first snowfall was always greeted with some enthusiasm especially if school was canceled.

With temperatures in the high nineties, heat warnings on the news every half hour and most of us–if we are lucky–hanging out in our nice air conditioned homes—I spend a lot of time looking out my windows. It is startling to see tiny objects floating past my window—and I think snow—

But it is purple and pink.

The hundred year old crepe myrtle trees are in full bloom around my house—and littering the grass and pavement with their blooms.

and around the crinum lilies:

If that was truly snow, I would be running around outside trying to catch a snowflake or two on my tongue.

Now I know you wanted to see those trees in bloom;

And here is a view of the elephant garlic blossom;

We have been watering the front pots, the Meyers lemon we planted, the gardenia we started during the February 21 deep freeze—we hope they survive–but rain is not forecast until next week—a repeating promise by the weatherman—but just that.

Turmeric Anyone?

Turmeric or curcurmin is touted as one of those natural occurring substances imbued with certain healing properties. Several years ago while dealing with the effects of Plaquenil, I discovered it seemed to be helpful in alleviating some of my visual changes—but perhaps it was due to time.

However, it is always fun to see exactly WHERE the stuff comes from.

In the McGovern Garden in Houston, I photographed these lovely purple flowers.

Here is a closeup;

While on family reunion last month, my husband became acquainted with a phone app–that identifies flowers from photos—–a fun activity for science/botanical/wildlife interested persons.

This is curcurmin.

And now you know.

Fountains, a Waterfall and Foucault

Museum hopping on a hot summer day….something we would do with our boys…in the spirit of educational experiences….but now without them in tow—as a fun day for ourselves.

It took some doing but we found a parking spot and then walked to the Museum of Natural Science.

Our path led us through the McGovern Garden area—a space we had not ever explored before.

There were fountains.

and lots of chairs

Wide paths around banks of flowers and shrubbery on both sides of the central grassy area—and a waterfall at the distant end.

since we did not have a timetable we decided to explore this. Here was the entrance to the waterfall.

As we walked up we were both thinking===Guggenheim—but this one was cylindrical rather than conical.

Each section is an individual fountain–but constructed so as to look like it is continuous.

We entered the museum just as several tour groups were leaving. Southeast Texas coastline was one of the exhibits—and then there was the Cabinet of Curiosities—a fun exhibit with drawers and drawers of interesting things to look at.

But no trip is complete without the Foucault pendulum.

Wood Cuts, Lithographs, and Illusions

Of course, I’m writing about M.C. Escher and the absolutely stunning extensive exhibit at MFA Houston.

I think I spent three hours there—most viewers were more interested in the optical illusions and tesselations-the fish becoming birds and so forth.

A few interesting facts—-he was terrible at math and failed his math exams–probably much to the disappointment of his engineer father. He became interested in tesselations with the gift of a book from his half brother who was a professor of crystallography in Leiden. He made over 450 woodcuts and lithographs—and over 2000 drawings.

This was his cabinet for his tools.

the first galleries included wood-cut prints—on ‘wove’ paper—that is paper with a very smooth finish as opposed to ‘laid’ paper that contains ribs.

He was incredibly meticulous—he drew with chalk on black paper using a flashlight at times to see his drawing and then transferred the drawing to a wood block that night. His pen and ink or graphite drawings were incredibly detailed; and all of those wonderful prints were done in graphite first.

It was such an incredible display of his work. This woodcut of his future wife was my favorite.

Kachinas and St. Paul

Routine doctor visits in Houston provide the opportunity for some culture.

It was very hot outside and I found myself with plenty of outdoor seating as most folks were inside peering out at me. I enjoyed Starbucks coffee while watching the train go by, the folks dressed in scrubs on their way to work–or home—and then I hopped on the train to the Museum of Fine Art.

There is always something interesting to see before getting to the featured exhibit. I stopped in the hallway to view the kachinas.

Most were of various woods with some feathers or fibers; but then there was the hand-inscribed graphics…so reminiscent of zentangles or seminole piecing.

Here are a few photos:

I had brought sketching supplies along and did several sketches—all in ink–still waiting for the water color….if I let the ink dry thoroughly it doesn’t seem to smear when wash is applied.

This tree was appealing.

And then there was this church—St. Paul’s Methodist Church. I walked all around it, tried the front door and was surprised to find it open on a Thursday afternoon. The receptionist graciously let me into the sanctuary to view the spectacular stained glass windows.

A Surprise

Remodeling the farm-house has been long term project. Two of my brothers have taken on finishing up the project. They have sheet-rocked the majority of the upstairs, painted the half bath, gotten the furnace up and running with ductwork in place. I wanted the house to be mine–not my parents or my grand-parents but mine.

We added two additions–a larger master bedroom and a larger bathroom with walk-in shower on one side and on the other a lovely breakfast room with clerestory windows. There is a huge wrap-around porch and an upstairs balcony. I knew about those features. But I was promised a surprise.

And here it is!

that wood beam is wood from the grainery. There will be a brass chandelier hanging instead of that light fixture.

the room with the two windows was my old bedroom, facing north and the windmill. It will become the library with shelves on two long walls.

The room with the sloping ceiling will become my sewing room with a smaller room on the other side as the computer room and half bath.

Look at all that lovely light and space.

Nettles, Rhubarb, and Raspberries

Rhubarb was always the very first fresh fruit to be had in the days before imported fruits from southern climes. It was sometimes paired with strawberries, the next fresh fruit to arrive.

The rhubarb on the farm is a green stalk–not the Ruby Red Jubliee which is sweeter and has thicker stalks. No-one harvested the rhubarb this year and it went to seed–huge tall stalks. Several years ago, I had commented to my dad, I missed rhubarb–it doesn’t seem to grow in this part of Texas. He told me to put a sign up at the bank and by noon, the bed of my truck would be filled to capacity with it.

Below the rhubarb—I may have to ask someone to mow that rhubarb down….is the raspberry patch. It is in part of the garden—usually where we planted the carrots and radishes. Three non-productive grapevines are there, trying hard to smother the raspberries.

Each time I go to Wisconsin–only during the growing season–I clean out the raspberry patch and try to mulch it with cornlage or oat chaff. Gnats interfere with the process—until one year, I put on a bee veil.

The raspberries are mostly on the periphery of the patch–I missed one year cleanout due to Covid—but maybe they will be back.

Flowers for Mom and Dad

My grandmother took on many jobs during her lifetime. She repaired sewing machines during the Depression, operated a canning machine for local garden produce during World War II, and mowed/maintained cemeteries in the following decades.

She would drive down to the farm and pick the three oldest up to help her mow the cemetery on Shanghai ridge. I usually had the job of trimming with the hand clippers—no weed eaters in those days.

Flowers then were the perishable variety; a few folks planted flowers in pots or urns. The cemetery was always nicely mowed for Memorial Day and the Fourth with flags placed on the veterans’ grave-sites.

Some of my friends from Louisiana have the custom of a cemetery day in which family members clean, weed, refurbish the family graves.

My dear friend Jo decorates her parents’ graves and offered to help me do the same for mine. She had a nice cache of plastic flowers from the days when cemetery workers removed the previous year’s decorations and put them in a huge pile on a back corner.

We found two nice small sprays—lilac and pink for my mother and blue/white for my dad.

The gravestone had two receptacles for flowers—-I waded through some thistles and tall weeds into the nearby corn field to pick up some corn cobs to wedge them into place.

As Dad was a farmer—that didn’t seem too out of place—a simple solution.

Tank-Mates and Forty Five Years

It hardly seems possible that I graduated from medical school forty five years ago.

It was a weekend of memories and catching up on classmates.

The first year was rigorous, filled to capacity with study, labs, lectures with the most demanding being that of Gross Anatomy.

Disecting a cadaver is not something done in a week—it took us the best part of two semesters to do so—the smell of formaldehyde forrever bringing that memory back.

We were grouped in teams of four. Three guys asked me if I had joined a group—and invited me. Sam and i dove into diseection; he became a gastroenterologist. Ashley, a medic serving in Viet Nam destined to become an ENT surgeon, and Greg who became the physician for the Olympic bicycling team were less enthusiastic.

They teased me—and admitted it was because it was so fun—. I grew up with five brothers, most of my college classes were with males–as I focused on math and science along with the engineers.

And here I am with Ashley.

Some things are better as memories

I had tried to get the grainery re-roofed but every contractor I called was not interested.

And so I took a few photos to remember it.

This was Dad’s workshop area. He did all his welding here. Attached was a cement tank with a tiny stove used to provide water for the cows. Dad would have the break the ice with an axe and light the stove to heat up the water enough for the cows.

The grinding wheel sometimes lived in the house basement but sometimes in the workshop. Dad used it to sharpen tools especially Mom’s hoe each spring. He also sharpened the blades of the plow and the sickles.

There was an old cabinet hung on the wall dating back to grandparents’s days on the farm.

There was a window overlooking the pasture and providing natural light in addition to a few bare light bulbs hung here and there. Dad hung his tools and products of his work on the walls—I have no idea what some of them are—but I’m sure if he was still around he could tell me what they were used for.

That grainery was used to raise baby chicks in the spring before harvest time required space for oats.

Some things must be meant to be memories.