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Sunsets in Del Rio

One of my jobs involves doing disability exams for social security. This means a lot of driving and one of the places I go is Del Rio.

I usually leave around 9 or so and arrive around 5. I don’t drive particularly fast and I have to allow for traffic snags, the bridge being out in Channelview, road construction everywhere, and the occasional accident.

Del Rio is a border town with many people living in Mexico, getting medical care and medications in Mexico. The Rio Grande has been dammed creating Amistad Reservoir, a huge lake with lots of fishing. The surrounding area is desert with yucca, palm trees, and various cacti.

This last weekend, I hiked along two trails; was pleased not to see any creatures who had lost their legs in their ancient family tree. The weather was perfect–not too hot, not to cold, and with just a snitch of a breeze.

The reservoir was relatively full and the grass and vegetation looked lush, compared to other visits when just scuffing my shoes made me wonder if that would ignite a fire.

The sunset Saturday night was spectacular and taken from my second story room.


Friday night sunset from my window overlooking Veteran’s Boulevard in Del Rio


View of the reservoir from one of the trails


Another view of the reservoir with some of the fishing floats constructed of huge tractor tires


Sunset Saturday night; photo does not accurately display the gorgeous colors; looking toward Veterans boulevard in Del Rio Texas

More photos of Texas from this year are in this gallery:

Zen from a different perspective

Two dogs live at our house.

Although both are rescues and both are Border Collie mixes, they have two very different personalities.

Dora is husband’s shadow and guards him wherever he goes. She warns us of people walking by on the street and notifies us of bicyclists, skateboarders, and people who dare to show up at the dog park without a dog. She is very particular about who she allows to pet her—and definitely not children. Dora proudly fetches the morning newspaper and makes sure it is quite dead before dropping it.

Toby, on the other hand, has never met a stranger. She loves children–and will knock them down just to lick their face. She can French kiss anyone accurately regardless of height. Squirrels and pigeons have no business being in the crepe myrtles in our back yard, ditto possums and cats. She is incredibly excited to let Dora fetch the morning newspaper as she knows she gets the same treat just for not running out the door.

Each night we must watch TV with the dogs; sometimes Toby looks like a little boy sprawled out in front of the screen but then she will lie on the couch—totally relaxed.

What a life!dog20zen202-m

Farm Buildings and Those Blue quilts

farm20building20on20display20in20houston-mIt is always exciting to see your work hanging in a public place and even more so when people stop to look and talk about it. My piece Farm Buildings hung at the International Quilt Festival in Houston this past week in the Tactile Architecture section. It will travel to other shows around the country and world and will return sometime next year.

The entire show, as always, was wonderful but most spectacular were the lovely blue and white quilts. it was even better than the red and white quilt show some years ago.


I took a lot of photos of the show but did not capture all the names to give credit—-so those are for my viewing pleasure as are previous shows’ photos. The show is always well organized with each piece presented as a piece of art–and handled gently. The show sets a high standard for other shows.

Here is just a small view of all those blue quilts:


I returned home with a basket of threads—I was searching for a particular thread–light colored with sparkles in it—I may have been successful—but it will go on the quilt destined for entry into next year’s show.

I haven’t been able to update this blog or upload photos for a few weeks–our internet is poor at best despite multiple calls and technician visits from AT&T. Maybe tomorrow’s visit will result in a new line…but I”m not that hopeful.

Satsumas and a change or two

satsuma20ripening-mSome years ago we planted a satsuma tree in our front yard—actually Lee planted it for me as Toby had dug it out of its container at least three times as I had hoped it to be a surprise birthday present for my husband. The tree miraculously survived and has produced satsumas in abundance last year. This year it does not seem quite as loaded down. Last year, we would pick a dozen or so and think we had picked the last of them….until we ate all of those and went out again and found a dozen more. We ate fresh fruit for nearly three months!

There are a few that seem to be ripening now and the branches need propping up….along with an abundance of lemons on another tree out at the shop. I froze lemons one year and used them to make some absolutely wonderful lemonade. I also made salted lemons which I pureed, some with dill from home-canned dill pickles and some plain—used over chicken or fish with a bit of olive oil. It is supposed to be good on Lamb as in Moroccan style cooking but lamb is not something easily found in the grocery stores here.

Along with what passes for fall here, we are trying to do a few repairs and updates around the house. One involved rehanging wallpaper that had come undone with the humidity here—and then some electrical repairs. Living in an old house means some odd a light switch at the door that turns off an outlet but not the overhead light.


A honey of a job

Bees are some of the most fascinating creatures. Although the ant is depicted as industrious, I think honey bees are far more organized and incredibly busy fulfilling their tiny little task in the hive.

Some years ago, I took a class in Asian Art—we studied some of the huge statues in India–imagine your entire life’s work as being one small square on Buddha’s forehead or the right side of his left nostril. Bees fortunately do not think about their ultimate destiny—they just concentrate on the job at hand.

There are lots of amazing details about the life of bees, how many trips they make to make a drop of honey or how much work it is to make the wax that seals the honey and so forth.

From my perspective, harvesting honey is a sticky time-consuming task. I process the frames in my kitchen and no matter how careful I am, everything is sticky when I finish. Like processing fruits and vegetables, it is always hot work and I can understand why there were summer kitchens.comb20honey20processing-m

This year we split hives and so our honey harvest was not so large as it could have been. Bees are now harvesting goldenrod pollen along with nectar to store for the winter ahead. img_3799-mThat yellow glob is pollen headed for storage in the frame—pollen is the equivalent of our steak or pork chop or chicken leg.


If you want to be a beekeeper at your laptop while not having to wear a beesuit in the middle of 90 plus degree weather; take a look at this gallery of photos:

Bears and Tongs

My mother left behind a lot of good intentions and ideas in the form of partially completed quilt tops, left-over blocks and a few completed tops just awaiting quilting and binding. My father also left behind a lot of good intentions and ideas and partially worked out projects in the form of metal work, a forge, welding equipment, a metal lathe and assorted scrap metal pieces.

While I am not inclined to finish any of those metal projects- or deal with the left-overs from Dad’s garage and basement doings—that was brother Rick’s task, I am dealing with all the fabric bits and bobs left in Mom’s sewing room.

moms20irish20chain-mirish20chain20detail-mSometime this week, a package will arrive on a small boy’s doorstep—a great grandchild–and my great nephew—two lap sized quilts—one with tiny farm animals in an intricate Irish chain pattern and another one featuring my dad’s welding tools set against a background of the junction of Plum Creek and Shanghai Ridge.


There are still more to complete but the stack is slowly diminishing and there may be an end in sight-.

Thanks to my dear husband who willingly served as quilt holder-upper for these photos.

In Search of Goldenrod

turtle204-mWeather in this part of Texas can be and usually is hot and steamy. Sometimes we get a front from the north along with the lovely fragrance of the paper mills. But this past weekend was perfect–temps in low 80’s, low humidity and just a bit of a breeze to keep the mosquitoes away. It was a perfect weekend to be outdoors.

After the dogs had their twice daily trip to the dog park to check out all the other dogs and owners, chase frisbees, tennis balls, and bark at random bicyclists and skateboarders and other disliked dogs, we (sans dogs—they are not good travelers–Toby prefers to drive and Dora needs to alert us to all persons or creatures within her eyesight–and she has excellent eyesight) spent some time at Tyrell Park on the south side of Beaumont.

We were surprised  we had the place mostly to ourselves but enjoyed walking around the ponds. This is the tertiary treatment area for our sewer system; and is filled with water birds, alligators(ddidn’t see any), turtles (we saw two) and frogs (heard them but didn’t see them). Two nice young men were walking their three dogs and I tried to get their portraits (the dogs–not the young men–although they were nice looking but thought husband might have been a tad offended—or maybe not–I took photos of him)

another20purple20flower-mFlowers were blooming in the garden part of the park, but my goal for the day was to capture some great goldenrod photos for an art project I have in mind. It is still in the thinking stage but the photos will wait patiently for me on my smugmug site for the next phase.

You can take a look at the photos here:


Sylvia Weir CrookedThis week’s photo assignment was ‘crooked’.

This was taken in a smithy in Gladys City, a reproduction of buildings from the days of the Spindletop Gusher–the first in Texas. I spent a lot of time in the smithy–my dad did a lot of work in his workshop–welding, grinding-sharpening blades on hoes and mowers and occasionally knives, and in later years making reproduction engines.

We had an anvil in the basement, he used to crack black walnuts on it–so did we. He would pick out the nutmeats while watching television at night.

This anvil was held down by those crooked nails at each foot.

One of my brothers, destined to become a fine carpenter, bent a lot of nails–and put a few knobs on his head wielding a hammer far too heavy for his four year old hands.

I remember pounding nails into a nice five gallon bucket of paint–they made such a lovely plunk sound when they hit the paint….I think we put in about five nails in the lid before being discovered.

And then my grandfather kept a bucket full of bent nails–meant to be straightened and re-used…one of my cousins took those home with him, used them all, and hoped to find another bucket full.

Chicken Chasers and birthdays

glen20at20birthday20supper-mIn March of this year, I went out to Tractor Supply and bought four chicks—supposedly sexed–as I did not want to deal with a rooster. I don’t mind the crowing—we have a neighbor somewhere nearby that has a rooster—but roosters can be mean. Those four chicks rapidly grew into hens—clucking and cooing and surprising us with eggs about six weeks ago–much earlier than we had expected. These chickens were surprisingly cute during their entire childhood, adolescence and now adulthood. Unlike the previous set of chickens that flew the coop one day and resisted the efforts of Toby and Dora to be herded back into their rightful places, these chickens were never ugly.

Toby and Dora (Border collie/Lab and Border Collie/Aussie) kept a very close eye on these new chickens. One of the chickens always seemed to be by herself–and we worried a bit that it might be a rooster—but then we began getting four eggs every day–proving that we had four hens.

The loner chicken has escaped several times; over the fence, under the fence—and Dora was called to help round up the wanderer. One day last week, the wanderer escaped again and this time Toby found her—there were feathers everywhere—Dora herded her under the car—where I spied her squatting down behind the rear tire hoping no-one could see her. She was returned to the coop yard and the next day we had four eggs—she seemed none the worse for her adventuresome day.

We celebrated Glen’s birthday that day with a meal at a local Mexican restaurant—we don’t eat out much these days—but a margarita with a tiny sombrero suitably sized for one of Glen’s collection of turtles was fun along with a huge plate of shrimp nachos which we agreed would have been plenty for our meal.shrimp20nachos-m

Alas and Alack, one of the hens died—apparently this happens to chickens—and it was not the adventuresome one. We had only one egg today, I watched them all happily scratching away at the dirt and leaves in the side yard—keeping our fingers crossed.

It is silly to mourn over a dead chicken–they are not the brightest of creatures but they do make such a lovely cooing sound. They know when we open the side door and they come running when they see us—of course we have food and water to offer—-and we are enjoying all those wonderful fresh eggs.


leaves-mDisappointments are part of life and come in an assortment of sizes. They can come from many sources–family, friends, work, medical issues, property responsibilities, hobbies, and even weather. Their impact seems to be related to the strength of the relationship and importance of the issue to personal well-being.

These past few months have not been easy. Assaulted on nearly every side, I tend to retreat to take the time to heal and re-evaluate all those relationships, decide which ones will give me joy (to borrow a Marie Kondo phrase) and which will not. And to give a try to some new things, new relationships, new hobbies, and maybe even a new pair of jeans (just kidding–I wear mine until they have holes…ditto shirts and socks and shoes…saves a lot of time getting dressed in the morning when the selection is limited—take the one on the top of the pile)

And now adding survivor’s guilt to the pile—Imelda flooded this area and recovery efforts have begun.Piles of wet carpeting and furniture are outside businesses and homes that flooded. The grocery store took on a foot or more of water; they are open again but with nothing on the bottom shelves of half the aisles and the other half are closed; an armed guard stands at the door.

Nothing happened at my house–we watched it rain for two days–and now it is raining off and on again. My bee hives looked fine, the chickens continued to lay although they were clearly confused by the really long night they had, Toby required bathroom breaks on a leash due to the thunder, we had power and water and no interruptions in our lives except for canceled doctor appointments.

Being thankful for what I do have , coming to terms with the disappointments, and not feeling guilty for having so much shouldn’t be so hard.