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Barbed Wire

wall20of20barb20wire-mCollections of the many varieties of barbed wire are in museums or restaurants featuring ‘country fare cooking’ . This collection is the largest I have ever seen. So many samples of the various types–all designed to keep cattle in designated places.

Barbed wire is attributed to the taming of the American West–it was relatively low cost, low labor intensive, and quick. Previous fencing had consisted of planting Osage orange–a prickly tree that took time to grow. Eventually the fenceposts were of Osage Orange and the barbed wire of choice strung along.

The first barbed wire in the U.S. was attributed to Lucien Smith of Kent Ohio in 1867 with modifications later by Glidden in 1874. And there is the familiar concertina wire and the barbed wire around prisons and concentration camps and trenches used in war fare–but lets not think about those uses.

For now–just look at the huge variety of barb wire—all to contain cattle within their allotted grazing areas.


And the other side of this wall had an equal number of plaques all displaying more types of barbed wire. All at the Whitehead Memorial Museum in Del Rio Texas

Feathers and Tops

completed20top-mWith a growing pile of quilt-tops and the reports of others leaving behind stacks of completed tops–and trying to complete the partially done projects left by my mother, I have been trying hard to lower that stack of guilt.

Four tops have now been converted to quilts but still need trimming and binding.

I’ve been piecing some backs–so much fabric I have–no need to buy backs–although it is so much easier to use a large single piece of fabric.

Mostly I do pantographs–a pattern I follow–I find it relaxing with the only difficult parts lining up the first row and figuring out how to do the final row.

freeform20feather-mBut then I decided I really did need to try some free-form feathers. I’ve done a few–but it was time to try again.

And then load up the next top.bears20up20next-m

Home at Last

I had splurged on a very nice room for the night–not my usual $50 a night or even just sleeping in my truck at a rest stop—far too cold for that.

I was met with this!morning20frost-m

Another morning of clearing my windscreen from frost; this time it took only ten minutes and I was on my way.some20sun-m

Depending upon GPS to find my way is not always a good thing—when there is road construction and the exit you are supposed to take is closed. I got more than a bit turned around in Fort Worth but managed to find my way south until the GPS finally figured out where I was and guided me back to 287.

I arrived around 3 in the afternoon–not bad for having been lost twice in north Texas. But then, the truck must be unloaded, laundry addressed, photos sorted, labeled and uploaded—all too overwhelming when all I wanted to do was sink into the couch with a nice cup of hot tea.

I have a lot of photos from this trip–wished I had taken more but I’ve uploaded the best of the lot—and here they all are for your viewing pleasure.  Most are labeled and they are sequential. You can enjoy them without getting your fingers frozen from scraping ice, or your feet wet from the snow or driving through foggy sleety mist.


Sliding Home

hoarfrost-mFreezing temperatures were predicted for that Saturday  night which meant slick roads and hoarfrost.

footprints-mI had loaded up my truck with all the fruits of my labor of the past week and all I needed now were the few things I had in the cabin. I had to wait for the my windscreen to defrost before I could leave–and that took a good half hour of running that diesel engine and patiently scraping away at the ice. The sun helped some and while I was waiting I managed to get a few photos of the hoarfrost on the vegetation.sun20on20hoarfrost-m

Slowly I drove past the Art Studio, careful not to come to a full stop at the stop sign at the bottom of hill lest I slide into the Cuchara River. I made it through town without incident and had planned to take a photo of the mountains on the road to Walsenberg. But the turnoff was slick and after sliding a bit, decided the image would have to remain in my memory and not as a digital image.

fog20on20road-mA large herd of pronghorn was on the hillside and again I wanted a photo but with that ice and now a vehicle following me, it too had to remain in my memory. People here are much more polite driving than in many parts of Texas—slick roads for me meant slick roads for the vehicles following me and we slowly drove at about 35 miles an hour into Walsenberg. No-one was tail-gating, no-one roared past me at the stop light in town.

Once on Interstate 25, I spied a large semi lying on its side just outside Walsenberg and was not pleased to see a flurry of snowy fog/ice mist ahead of me.

Once through the pass, the sun shone and roads were clear and I was on my way home.

Up the Mountain to Autumn Rock

One of the highlights of a week with Ricky Tims in LaVeta is a visit to his house on the mountain. This is the third time I’ve been privileged to go up the mountain; at first it was the 10 foot square cabin with a tipi nearby, then it was an excavation with forms for the underpinnings, and now it was a house that escaped an immense wildfire.

road20behind-mSnow made the drive challenging. Although the majority had melted in LaVeta, there was still a lot of snow on the mountain. Ricky drove his 4-wheel drive truck slowly up the mountain while I peered out the window overcome by the beauty of the starkness of burned trees against barren mountains.burned20trees20and20mountain-m

My seatmate in the back was so generous as to keep rolling down her window for me to take photos out her window–I took so many–it was so beautiful.

Rabbit Hill is always a challenge but we made it up and wandered about Ricky’s house. It is so lovely and with such wonderful views—I would never get anything done–just stare out the windows. They have plans to re-forest some of the hills but it will be a decades long project and because it is a developed area all privately funded.

cows20going20to20church-mI was pleased to see the old Catholic Church did not burn but its steeple fell off; Mirkwood next to the house had only a few burned trees but otherwise intact. mirkwood-mRicky tells me they had some green returning to the hillsides by fall and the oak trees will regrow in some fashion. The pine trees will not but they were infested with pine borer beetles and so in a way the fire was a cleansing fire.

On the way down the mountain we spied a Great horned owl, visible because there is no foliage on the trees.great20horned20owl20in20tree-m

We were all happy to end our day at Alys’ with lobster tail and mashed potatoes and creme brulee.

Sewing and Designing like Crazy

sunrise-mAfter getting stuck in the snow, requiring a pull-out by a neighbor, I managed to drive VERY slowly down the road and unload my baskets of fabric, sewing machine, and accoutrements. Two fellow students were already there–sewing away. The other students were all staying at the Inn next door and I almost wished I had done the same as it was a two minute walk from their door to the Studio.

mountain20view-mTwo Fox Cabins was very cozy and it allowed a nice walk to and from and not too far away from Alys’ restaurant where we had our evening meal.

Everyone worked really hard, two on Rhapsody variations–I was jealous of their work, and two worked on individual pieces they had designed in large part prior to arrival.

I had planned on doing a series of dawn images but changed to using some images from my father’s tools and bits and bobs. Initially I put them all on the same background but decided I liked them better separated.first20piece-msecond20piece-m

One of the daily events was spying the mule deer that wandered about town like regular citizens.mule20deer-m And everyday a trip to Charlies was needed to pick up a fresh cinnamon roll or other breakfast treat. Charlie’s is a general store with notices regarding lost dogs, upcoming events, sales of various sorts and any sort of announcement that is needed to make things work in a small town.


Getting back into the Groove

It seems that established patterns are challenged by interruptions of good things.

I can’t say that anything untoward has happened in the past few months; life is busy as always but a new pattern of writing and editing and photography has been hard to initiate.

I’ve got lots of wonderful photos to share; adventures to describe. Tomorrow I’ll finish my week in Colorado with photos that are quite appropriate for this time of year as they mostly seem to involve a lot of snow and frost.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with this photo shot from my front door of the upper story of my neighbor’s house.



Surprise! it’s snowing in Colorado

This is a long awaited week. I’ve had a hard year and this was to be my present to myself for surviving it although my pocketbook is considerably slimmer.

I like to sight-see as I go places–whether work, pleasure, or family. Road construction always makes things a bit more iffy and so I plan extra time. This trip I had allotted two days for travel, a day and a half to sight-see and get accustomed to the altitude.

Yesterday I wrote about the cotton—

I arrived mid Saturday afternoon and was immediately warned about the impending bad weather. There were still small piles of snow heaped around trees and in ditches from the last snow.

I have been ensconced in a cute little cabin in LaVeta watching the snow fall. It is still falling; I do have hiking boots but they are in my truck a hundred yards away. I’ve spent the day pruning my email lists and folders. While all of that is good–I would have preferred a trip to the Sand Dunes but I was not going to chance not getting back with all that snow.

I am hoping I do have a workshop that starts tomorrow night–but travel for the host with all of this snow is a bit iffy—–and so—perhaps I’ll tackle pruning and organizing my smugmug photos.


this is my cabin–note the coffee pot and coffee cup along with the extra blankets.


Cotton Snow

The first time I saw cotton fields was in Guelph Georgia. I was volunteering at a public health project involving checking blood pressures and weights of a small community—a town composed of a post office, a cotton gin, and a house. I thought those fields were white roses.

Later I learned that the first perfect cotton bale occupied a position of honor in Augusta Georgia for one year until the next year’s harvest. People told me about picking cotton and how heavy the bags were and how rough the bolls were.

Then I moved to Texas and decided to grow cotton one year in my front yard–not nearly enough to make enough a handkerchief. I was amazed at how lovely the blossom was—and later learned it was in the same family as okra and hollyhocks. I learned about prison grown cotton and how wonderful it was.

On my way to Del Rio I encountered what I thought initially was rain–but it was bits of cotton stalks being blown across the road. The cotton was being put into large round bales–just like hay.cotton20in20round20bales-m

more20of20the20cotton20bales-mAnd two days ago I just had to stop and take pictures of more cotton. I was too shy to ask for a tour of the cotton gin in action–but there were those round bales of cotton and then there was this immense stack of cotton easily thirty feet high and several hundred feet long.  Cotton was on the sides of the road—looking like bits of snow.cotton20as20snow-m

And tomorrow—snow in Colorado!




Marigoldish Scent

My mother always planted a row of Marigolds and Zinnias in her vegetable garden along the edge. Zinnias are easy to grow, proliferate wildly and show a variety of colorations. Marigolds on the other hand are always bright orange and gold; their scent being repulsive.

Rabbits and deer do not like marigolds. They will eat potato plants, tomato plants, and love lettuce, broccoli, cabbage and all the other vegetables you plan to grow in your garden.

I tried raised beds here in Southeast Texas where the local soil will harden like fired piece of pottery if insufficient rain–and if there is sufficient rain glues itself together. And San Augustine grass loves to crawl across the top of it, engulfing your preferred vegetation.

I did fairly well the first couple of years, then the grass invaded and despite my best efforts dominated the raised beds. I also had a few back surgeries making leaning over to the ground challenging.

My next attempt was stock tanks filled with rocks and soil. The first year rain was adequately spaced; this year not so. I have revised my watering system several times–this year a soaker hose with a timer.

Marigolds have flourished in these stock tanks, my tomatoes had their leaves completely eaten twice; the okra have produced enough for a couple of gallon bags in the freezer but not nearly as productive as past years.

Most gardeners always hope for a better year—next year—but here in Southeast Texas we get to have a winter garden….in the North, we could only drool over the seed catalogs which always seemed to appear in January–the dead of winter when the only green thing to be seen were winter jackets.marigolds20view20two-m

Toiling away at a snail’s pace

stack20of20tops20awaiting20backings20and20quilting-mI’ve been working away on my Gammill (Vivian) longarm quilting machine for some time now. But the stack of tops to be quilted never seems to diminish. Maybe they multiply when I am not looking.

I did finish an Art quilt—to be used as the under-quilt of  two figures. I’ve been experimenting with  a different method to allow dense stitching on the figures with simpler stitching on the background. For a piece to hang correctly, it must be evenly stitched throughout—and to add details and shading and coloration with thread instead of patching together shades of fabric means the entire piece must have the same amount of stitching—-or the figures constructed separately and then applied to the piece.

forced20to20flee20closeup20of20stitching-mI’ve gotten fond of the matchstick type quilting in vogue with the Modern Quilt Guild movement, it is quite simple, very effective, but does take a bit of time. I added some running stitches by hand to the background of this piece.

hexies20on20the20frame20ready20to20quilt-mAfter I take a piece off the frame, I load the backing, batting, and the top for the next project in line. Then I have no excuses to not work when I go to spend time with Vivian.