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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.

Winds and perhaps a Gentle Breeze

I’ve decided to be more aggresive in promoting my artwork. That also means I will have to produce.

I’m working on getting myself organized (Again!).

I don’t mind sorting, filing, looking through art supplies…In fact, playing with those materials–and I have a lot–I really don’t need to buy much of anything for a long time.

Organizing my digital files and photos—that is another thing. I’ve taken the photos but my labeling is haphazard and I can’t find things—maybe I just don’t know how to work the search part of the photo site—so I end up taking repeat photos.

But I think I have come up with a plan to get those organized so I can find things.

Today I entered a call regarding ‘Wind’. I have in mind two other pieces that will be fun and not so serious.

Here are the three pieces I submitted.

This was a challenge to portray the Wizard of Oz in such a way the viewer would want to read the book.

with a birthday in March, I have always been fascinated by the imagery of kites. One of my husband’s early adventures with my brothers was driving his LandCruiser over a hayfiled to generate enough win to fly a huge box kite with a brother hanging on for dear life out the back window.

Sometimes a gentle breeze is all we want–and this piece of silk with ink splattered and leaves from some young trees falling on the sidewalk in Houston functioned as templates and stamps.

It’s hard to predict what will happen. There are usually a lot of entries, the competition is quite stiff. But no-one will come looking for my artwork unless I enter. Even if rejected, it has been seen by jurors who might just remember my work.

Zinnias in my front yard

Sometimes ordinary common place flowers have a special place in our hearts.

My mother along with nearly every other farmer’s wife=-and the in-town wives planted a row of zinnias in their vegetable garden. They grew readily and produced abundant blooms. But then in Wisconsin it was hard NOT to grow things like walnut trees in the middle or the yard and ragweed so tall it looked like trees and required a saw to cut.

This part of Texas has its own unique flowers, azaleas, crepe myrtles, gardenias, snow bells and daffodils. This year I scattered a ‘free’ packet of zinnia seed in a front flowerpot and the chimney flue in front.

The front pot does not get enough sun—but the ones in the chimney flue are blooming gloriously. Colors such as deep purple, lavender, salmon in addition to the traditional red, orange and yellow are a bright spot and make me smile every time I walk or drive past them on my way to work.

Common place flowers but not everything needs to be exotic. They say ‘home’ to me.

Don’t Feed the Ducks

Last weekend we spent several days in Houston. I had two doctor appointments—clinics were kind enough to schedule on same day and with enough time between so as to make just ONE trip rather than two. Then Glen was lucky enough to get his Pulmonary Function test done while I was at my appointments. Finally I had a CT scan that the imaging department moved up so we had an afternoon free.

I like to park at Herman Park Zoo parking lot and walk through Herman Park to get to appointments at the medical center. It is a relaxing walk through trees and I can see turtles and various sorts of water fowl ranging from swans to assorted ducks not native to the area.

Unfortunately that part of the park is blocked due to construction of some sort–a new water garden and probably a parking garage.

But we had a picnic lunch and sat at a table under some live oak trees.

It wasn’t long before a young squirrel approached us. Glen tossed chex mix piece by piece. it was very shy and would quickly grab a piece and run back to safety. Ten minutes passed by before that squirrel was joined by others–at last count there were five. And then a grackle appeared also interested in a snack.

While I am not fond of squirrels near my house—they chew electric wires and torment the dogs, these are in a public park far away from electrical wires.

And they were definitely not ducks.

Here are a few photos from the day;

Just one grackle.

Zinnias and Honeysuckle

Growing up in Wisconsin it was so easy to grow some things. Those long summer days, cool nights with dew made everything flourish. Everyone I knew had a garden and it always included a row of zinnias and marigolds—to keep away the rabbits and deer—or so we thought.

Tomatoes were particularly easy and every table featured sliced tomatoes from late July through August when the first tinges of frost appeared.

Here in this part of Texas I have year round gardening–but tomatoes are not so easy. They like cool nights—we don’t get many of those.

But I was successful in growing a few zinnias in a front chimney flue.

That greenery to the right is a huge rosemary shrub. Some people here grow it as a hedge—smells so nice as you brush across it on your way into a building.

And then there is the honeysuckle.

I didn’t plant it but with all of our recent rain—rain every day for nearly two weeks, it is abundant. The air is redolent but those vines are choking out the shrubbery and trees I wish to keep.

And it is far too late in the year to harvest the honey from these blossoms—the bees will need it for the coming winter months—we do have some blooms but not enough to sustain.

At last!

For the past three months I’ve had an art piece on my design wall—in progress.

I don’t work fast.

I’m always experimenting with a different way to accomplish my end goal.

I’ve started making part of the piece off the finished piece. This is something I learned from some traditional applique classes. I also put a foundation under the top. doing a lot of stitching on it first and then putting on the backing and quilting.

This time I also experimented with a different way of finishing the sleeve and the bottom. I add washers to the bottom to ensure it hangs straight. This is a home decorator device for curtains–a chain is put in the bottom hem—I put washers in a sleeve at the bottom. The guys at the hardware store are surprised to hear my end purpose……In the past I sought out sand paper to sand cardboard…!!!

My workspace is always a mess while I work on a piece. I save every little bit of fabric until the piece is finished. I use a variety of threads, pulling them from my substantial collection of thread–sorted by color. Usually I use an old deli tray–the one with a central round depression for the dip with sections around it for the various vegetables—I sort the threads by color into those sections. But sometimes there isn’t enough room and I resort to a lid like this.

While a lot of folks scoff at my use of Coats and Clark–I really like the consistency, the colors–there is a purple that no-one else has….and now there is a purely poly thread with incredibly low lint production.

That piece is now quilted, photo’ed, and entered into a show—I can’t show it until I hear if it has been accepted—I don’t have a great deal of hope that it will be—but you never know.

Here is a small section.

Note the sittching goes both horizontally as the stabilizing stitches to a piece of corduroy and the vertical stitches as the quilting.

Typically I work on a pieced background of some sort–choosing the block pattern as part of the piece–this background is composed of ‘crumb’ blocks. These blocks are my leader-ender pieces sewn while working on a more traditional quilt or garment. It doesn’t take long before I have a huge stack ready to iron, trim up and add the next piece.

I’ve been asked to present a program on these blocks—and I may just do that. They are easy and appeal to those of us who enjoy using up what we have.

Grapevines and the Raspberry Patch

Some years ago, I think my mother planted some grape vines in the garden, thinking she would be able to harvest them for her jelly making. And instead of going to the woods to pick blackberries—that was always one of the tasks for me and my siblings, she planted raspberries near the farm house.

They were not well tended.

Wild grapes are also in abundance but produce very little in terms of usable fruit—I think the birds enjoyed them—and widely distributed them around the farm buildings.

So each year I weed the patch.

The first year was huge ragweed–and so dense, a brown thrasher had made her nest there. I weeded around her; left her nest until the fall when I weeded the remaining section.

I’ve put down chaff from the grainery in an attempt to combat weeds–but I think I planted nettles as the following years there were a lot of nettles—much harder to pull than ragweed—although some of the ragweed reaches ‘tree’ stature and trunk thickness.

I’ve cut back those grape vines to the ground–as that is how they are supposed to be cultivated—but no fruit!

So it was time to deal with those grapevines.

Here is what it looked like when I arrived in Late July.

After considerable work–and surprisingly no gnats this year—I’ve worn a bee veil when the the gnats are bad—but this year there was enough of a breeze to keep them away.

So here is what it looks like after weeding. I put done sheet rock to discourage weeds and pile corn fodder on top—fifteen wheel barrow loads.

I was very pleased to see so many raspberry canes; they bear the second year. My first weeding the end of May had only three canes on the periphery—I was thrilled to see this many throughout the patch.

And so I decided it was time for those grapevines to go.

I sprayed them daily for five days. And finally they looked near gone.

My husband was not happy with this—but I will plant grapes elsewhere—and much further apart and in a place there they can flourish without compromising those raspberries.

The ragweed and burdock didn’t seem to mind the brush spray….drat!

I’ll have to dig out that burdock.

Just some pretty flowers

Wisconsin summers are always abundant with flowers and things that grow magically overnight—including the weeds.

Here is the corner of my friend’s house.

that tall green thing behind the purple flowers was a tree sapling—and I nipped it off with some big clippers.

These flowers had a delicate scent–a few bees buzzing around.

Take a few moments to just enjoy.

Pickles and Paper Wasps

In our very early married years, we did not have a lot of money–in fact we had almost none. Someone gave us a book by Euel Gibbons featuring things to do with foraging for food on the roadsides instead of grocery stores or dumpsters.

One delicious adventure was to try lightly steamed day lily buds as a vegetable—they were abundant along roadsides, and then to try pickling them.

Day-lilies of this variety are not in southeast Texas and our previous trips had not coincided with blooms.

This year I was determined to make some—if buds were to be had.

And in case you don’t remember–here are the flowers…..

I made seven jars of these putting fresh dill in each jar. The pickling process is simple…pour a mixture of hot vinegar, salt and some water over buds placed in jars, add the dill, and cap.

However, one morning when I went out the screen door, I was stung by a wasp. It had been caught between the screen door and the regular door earlier in the night and showed its displeasure at its captivity by stinging me on the wrist. I’ll spare you the view of my swollen hand, wrist and forearm—I did have to take Benadryl, Tylenonl, and a Prednisone. But I”m sure you want to see that nest.

It was about five or six inches across–I had sprayed it with hornet spray during early morning hours to ensure they were all ‘home’ for the occasion.

Now to wait for the pickling process on those pickles to be complete and enjoy with broiled or baked fish.

Cornfields and Chicory

Tradition and farmer’s wisdom or perhaps optimism always noted that corn must be knee-high by the Fourth of July for a successful crop. My Dad always made a habit of walking out to one of his fields and measuring the corn. I always wondered whose knees were the appropriate measure–mine–being not as tall as his Six foot something frame?

For years after buying that farm to support my parents in their senior years, I have returned to Wisconsin for the Fourth of July—the parade, the brats made by my second cousin–or maybe a more distant relationship–but still one of the many in the county….and for a photo of myself standing in the cornfield. Rarely has it ever been lesss than shoulder high and sometimes I must put my hand up to be seen over the top of the tassels.

I missed this year due to some health issue scheduling canceled at the last minute—but I managed a trip in the last part of July and took a few photos.

Here is a storm coming our way with high winds and lots of rain—lots here being about two inches…not the six inches I am accustomed to in southeast Texas.

And there was the chicory in full bloom.

Chicory is a fascinating plant. The blooms are a lovely blue but fold up at night and if you dare pick some for a bouquet immediately close up. I always wondered what part of them was used for coffee but was never quite impelled to dig up the roots and try—chicory blended coffee comes in cans on the grocery shelves here in this part of Texas.

And because I know you want a closer look at those pretty blue flowers…..

Mississippi Meandering

A trip to Wisconsin always includes a view of the Mississippi.

My farm is not far from Prairie du Chien….although we shortened it to Praiire. There are other Prairie du somethings in Wisconsin reflecting the French fur trader influence of the late 1700s and early 1800s.

There are two channels and further south in Potosi it is a mile wide. Flooding is an annual springtime event with businesses on Main Street preparing with sand-bags.

I spent a morning walking around the gardens on St. Feriole Island. There was a light rain and I had it to myself.

Wisconsin has an abundant summer…flowers flourish—but then the winters are long and dreary with a muddy spring accompanied by floods.

East channel with a huge ditch between me and that railroad track and then a large bank down to the river

I stopped near Lynxville to try my hand at some water color painting. I use a water-brush and was able to use water from a nearby puddle for my work.

A large information sign described the logging/rafting occurring on the river–with the largest raft in 1896 that was 270 feet wide and 1550 feet long. The last lumber raft was in 1915.

It was a welcome break from cleaning and weeding at the farm.