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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.

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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

A Northern Flicker and Seaport Coffee

glen20overlooking20cat20tail20marsh-mThe south side of Beaumont features a tertiary water treatment area maintained as a wildlife/bird refuge called CatTail Marsh. It is 950 acres of water and marsh and reeds and alligators and frogs and birds. And now there is a lovely overlook with Seaport Coffee offered on Tuesday mornings.

We drove out expecting to see some of the 40 people who had expressed interest–but met only about four or five. Glen helped put together a coffee stand for the station; and we watched cement parking lot stations being fastened in the parking lot. It was cloudy and promised rain; not a lot of birds were out.

I did capture the red-winged blackbird—a reminder of my home in southwestern Wisconsin. red20winged20blackbird-m

We picked up a brochure and map labeling all the birding sites in the area—a new project for us–that sounds like fun–if only the dogs would behave for such a project.

And then we were gifted with a plushie Northern flicker and a bluebird–each with their song playing when pressing a button on their back. AND learned of an education program featuring looking at the birds to earn a plushie. We are a tad too old to participate but hopefully this will be a fun grandchild thing.

Spoiled

satsumas-mThree years ago I bought a satsuma tree.

I brought it home in anticipation of husband arriving back home so he could plant it out on Highway 90.

Toby thought that tree in a pot must have had something wonderful hidden among its roots. She dug it out of the pot three times.

Lee, who mows the yard for me, happened to be there when I was trying to pick up the tree—again and repot it. He was laughing. I gave up on waiting to plant it elsewhere and asked him to plant it somewhere that was a good spot–and not where Toby could dig it up.

The first year we had a dozen fruits.

The next year two dozen–we cherished them–saved them for special occasions.

We had a hard frost last winter and were afraid we might lose the tree–along with our Meyer Lemon.

But we have had bushels of fruit–we became so spoiled–just run out to the front yard and pick a half dozen, when those were gone, go get more.

Starting in October, we have had fresh fruit from the tree. I’ve picked several dozen lemons, given away some, and then there were no more.

But as soon as we mourned the loss of the fresh fruit, blossoms appeared. Branches are heavy and need propping against the promised fruit.satsuma20tree-m

And the lemon tree?

Covered with blossoms with bees eagerly working away.bee20in20lemon20flower-mlemon20tree20flowering-m

 

 

 

Take Me out to the Ball Game

sawyer20waiting20his20turn20to20bat-mNo peanuts or crackerjacks. But the grandchildren ate hot dogs.

And Grandson #2 made a home run!

Grandpa played finger tag with Grand-daughter #2.

We visited around the tail gate of my truck as Grand-daughter #1 got an early birthday present of a doll’s tea set; Grandson#2 got a Golden Gator commemorative baseball glove, and Granddaughter#2 fell asleep on the way home with other grandparents.

A good day!

 

Farm Animals on an Irish Chain

My mother took up quilting in her middle years, making a hand-pieced/appliqued and hand-quilted quilt for each of her six children. Then she made quilt tops for each of her 18 or so grand-children, leaving them to me to quilt for her and gift on the occasion of their wedding.

I have been working away at this project and have three left to quilt, two are quilted and ready.

But then there are the bits and pieces and the pieces she made for fun.

This is an Irish chain with fussy cut farm animals. I finished quilting it yesterday. It will go a great-grandchild–I am a few  behind on that project–four at present….and two step-grandchildren. And I didn’t include my five.

She left plenty of fabric and lots of starts.

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Oversized

One of the most challenging things about art is taking its formal portrait.

I’ve tried enlisting local photographers leaving them with explicit instructions only to have images returned with clothespins fastening the piece on a wire–a sleeve was attached to the top; pieces shot at an angle; no detail shots.

That being a failure, I tried pinning the piece to my design boards–covered with gray felt. Then there was the problem of distance from the piece.

I tried hanging the piece on my front porch from hooks and a wire strung through the sleeve. Although I started with not a wisp of wind setting things up; by the time I was ready to push the button on the camera; gale force winds ruffled the edges of the piece.

My next effort including buying two sets of stands and a black photographic drape. This works well except on dark rainy days; additional lighting casts awkward shadows. And I was still limited by size.

And so, this is my next iteration for larger pieces. I hung two sets of brackets on the side of the shed; hung a drape leftover from a quilt show; set up the tripod–remembering the clamp for the camera.

Success for the smaller piece.

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Excited by my success, I hung up the next piece. It was too long!

Up on the ladder I went, and moved the closet poles up next to each other.

Success again!

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However, I have a still larger one to photo today. I will be moving those brackets up about six inches.

Thanks to the Pixeladies, I know enough photoshop to crop and re-color, rotate, and resize the images.

‘Spearments and Such

notebooks-mPerhaps it is Wisconsin vernacular that the ‘ex’ was always dropped from the word ‘experiment. Adults and school-aged students and even the teachers used this pronunciation. I have tried to erase some of the short-cuts and mispronunciations in my speech patterns but occasionally something will creep in that gives my origin away.

 

However, that does not imply I do not continue to ‘spearment with various techniques. Instead of throwing them into a box for my descendants to sort through and wonder what I was thinking, I transform them into note-book covers.

One of my sons, I was going to say the engineer—but all three are engineers–one chemical and two mechanical—kept notes and drawings of his inventions in a marble notebook. Then at a party I ended up with a door prize of a fiber covered notebook—and thus began my journey of covering marble notebooks with bits left over from projects, or a workshop piece supposed to be a full quilt–but I was quickly sure I did not want to continue work on that project.

Here are my three latest completed notebooks. One is a wool applique on linen project, the other two are left over bits from a full size quilt with a chickadee on one and a brown creeper on the other.

I have more bits and pieces to transform into covers; they are a good project for those days in which I really don’t want to start something new but want to play around with fabric and thread and color.

Chinois ,Charity, and Caillebrote’s Trees

Every morning–except Sunday I sit and do the daily crossword puzzle and the Seven Little Word Scramble. My day just doesn’t seem complete or ready to begin until I do. Unless the clues in the Seven Little Words include names of celebrities I don’t know, I can run through it fairly quickly.

But then on Saturday, there was a stumper—-a funnel shaped strainer used in cooking.

I had one of those. It was my mother’s. She used it to strain elderberries to make jelly; and tomatoes to make tomato juice. It has a metal stand and a wooden pestle. It was our job to squish the tomatoes or the berries–although the elderberries had an additional muslin sleeve as the seeds were quite small. I used it to strain my very first batch of honey.

And then double or triple disaster—there were two celebrity names as clues–one was Tevye’s oldest daughter’s name–I could look that one up but then there was the last name of someone I didn’t know.

I had to wait until yesterday morning to find out.

Chinois—taken from the French word for China–and represents the cone shaped hats they wear in the fields.

calcasieu20cutup20blocks-mSo while I was waiting anxiously to find out the proper name for that funnel shaped thing we called a strainer, I worked on some donation blocks and three donation quilts for a quilt guild and a local charity.

charity20for20calcasieu20cutup-mThe workmanship on these quilt tops was not perfect; not even mediocre in some–but they are now ready to be handed out.

hope20center20charity-mI did the best I could with these tops–perhaps I should have dismantled them, tossed out the poor quality fabric, replaced with nice fabric–but then the gift of the original giver would be diminished.

And after I finished those tops, I bound a piece inspired by a painting by Gustave Caillebrote named ‘The Orange Trees’.caillebrotes20tree-m

 

On pins and needles

No-one likes to find pins in random places they shouldn’t be.

A good reason to always wear shoes.

But then there are the pincushions that seem to accumulate.

The red tomato with its tiny strawberry filled with sand to sharpen and remove rust from needles is the type I grew up with. Then there is the small black velvet one sewn carefully around the head of my grandmother’s vintage shuttle sewing machine.

I keep most of my pins in tins–and a magnetic holder from Harbor Freight. But I do enjoy the fancy pincushions too.

The blue one was made for my by my dear friend for Christmas;blue20pincushion-m

the green one was during a summer retreat and I filled it to the top with sand. You can’t see my thimbles hiding in the center.

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This square one was given to me in church by a friend who found it among her things when moving…her husband had died and she was moving to smaller living quarters.

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And this is a half doll I made by felting some wool roving around the empty plastic cone formerly holding thread. I don’t use it much–it seems to collect dust better than pins or needles but the pins don’t get lost in the interior.

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I also have a couple of felted wool balls I pin to design boards when I am at a workshop or retreat where it seems I am jumping up and down every few minutes to pin or replace something. Figuring out a way to put that magnetic holder on the wall would be ideal but I’ll have to think on that problem for awhile.

Lettuce and Peas

lettuce-mWhile working on the apiary yesterday, I checked on my tank garden.

The tanks are conveniently elevated for my back, but have the disadvantage of not draining when overwhelmed with Noah’s Ark level of rain. One tank was flooded out–but one tank has a healthy crop of lettuce nearly ready for harvesting.

I have a few peas–not as many as I would like—but still a few fresh peas will be added to our dining pleasure.a20few20peas-m

My northern relatives are taking photos of birds in bare shrubs in backgrounds of snow; I am thinking that I didn’t remember my bee suit as being that hot—and sinking three or four inches into the mud.

Bee-zy

busy20bees-mMy girls were busy last summer; one hive was split six times. Honey harvest was about six gallons along with a modest amount of comb honey.

This year, the girls are already getting busy. Drones have been noted; some drone comb thrown out of one hive and yesterday we watched a bee gathering honey from the ample fields of clover.

Expansion of the apiary means more splits, some queens, and a place to put them. Yesterday we placed some T-posts with rails to place nucs and hives on. I had thought we needed the T-post driver but the ground was so sodden, the posts went in quite easily—and pulled up equally easily when they weren’t quite in the right spot.

Today will be leveling.

Queens in two weeks!setting20up20space20for20more20hives-m