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Waiting Around

With the holiday season in full swing and people putting up Christmas decorations before the Thanksgiving turkey is thawed prior to roasting, people wishing the year would end, and rude comments made about the year’s events….I am being polite here; there are other words I would use to describe the commentary over the past few years and especially this year.

It seems that people are wishing their life away instead of looking at what they do have. Perhaps the long years of schooling have given me the sense of what delayed gratification looks and feels like; perhaps growing up on a farm where few things if any were instant click on an icon type projects; perhaps some of my artwork constructed one piece, one stitch at a time or perhaps my natural introverted nature puts a different spin.

I can’t say this year has been fun. I don’t enjoy wearing a mask; I don’t enjoy not seeing family or friends; I don’t enjoy virtual church, I don’t enjoy the most exciting project of the day being what shall we have for supper tonight, and then there’s scrolling through social media trying to find something that isn’t a nasty comment about someone or something.

But there is a comfort in routine and rules. Rules create boundaries that we may not like but are there to create order. While I may think stopping at the end of my driveway in rural Wisconsin is a foolish endeavor, it is meant for my safety and the safety for others—although those others may rarely drive past my house making the whole idea of stopping seem a frivolous and useless task.

Routines keep us moving and to use the old maxim-keep the world turning. Children and dogs—and us–thrive on routine. It is knowing what is expected and the predictable outcome that gives comfort when chaos descends upon us. The occasional outlier—a vacation; an unexpected gift or visit, a new job shake up our lives pleasantly—and then there are the others that are not so fun—and we are grateful to return to the humdrum of making coffee at 3:30 AM to get ready to drive to work at 4 AM.

Those days and weeks of work were tolerable because there was always some sort of reward in the offing—perhaps a wintery day spent on the beach or staying up late to photograph a lunar eclipse.

Roseate Spoonbill at Sea Rim State Park, Texas

Flying high (Eventually)

There was a car/plane show at the municipal airport this past weekend. We arrived just as the planes were beginning to fuel up and return to their respective homes. I have been to several car shows but never a plane show and this was interesting.

I learned it is very difficult to get good photographs of planes. They are Big! Even the ones that are meant for just two or maybe four people, it is hard to get a good photo. And then I was shooting into the sun or had my shadow included in the photo.

Getting a good car photo is also not so easy–and there was a Delorian—such a fun car—and Back to the Future!

As we wandered around the planes, they were fueling up and taking off–again hard to get photos as the runway was to the west–and that sun which made such a wonderful day at the beach made for ‘no photos of planes in the air’.

But we did find one guy who knew the answer to my question—what sort of plane did Sky King fly? It was the Cessna Songbird. And now you know too.

Here is the link to more photos from the day and if you keep scrolling through you will also see the beach images.

And how does my Garden Grow?

About ten days ago, we spent most of a day putting together a new watering system for my garden—truthfully, I worked on cutting down some weeds and brush while husband put together the system. I planted lettuce and peas after filling the tanks with more dirt.

And now there are tiny seedlings all sprouting. In about six weeks or so we will have fresh lettuce for our table.

And hopefully, the cold snap approaching us will not be too cold—although they are protected to some extent by the tanks. Sunny days means the metal of the tanks heats up.

It is always exciting to see those sprouts appear–a tiny miracle.


Empanadas filled with pineapple or sweet potato are usually on the shelf at the local Mexican bakery. But what if I wanted to give them a try myself? With pandemic still in full swing or maybe even an upsurge in recent months, cooking/baking has become a renewed past-time. If I can’t go out to eat, then maybe I can experiment in my kitchen……

Diligently I sought out a recipe/instructions on the internet. I could have called my daughter-in-law but although she speaks English quite nicely, I find it difficult to understand over the phone. But I found a nice tutorial complete with videos–I could almost smell it cooking. He made a meat mixture and given that it is almost Thanksgiving, I used ground turkey meat.

Some years ago, I found myself with some time to go shopping in a Crate and Barrel store. How can anyone resist walking out of there without some small treasure at hand? I found a small press—I thought for empanadas–but now I think it might be for Chinese dumplings.

I made the dough, chilled it, and then rolled out nearly three dozen sort of circles. The guy on the video made it look extraordinarily easy–but my edges were always ragged and the shape more like an abused oval that had been through a hurricane or two.

So here they are.

They were tasty; but I think I will try to find a larger press; and someone made reference to finding the dough/crust circles pre-made—or even using puff pastry.

Elephant Garlic

The first time I tasted garlic was in garlic bread at a youth church spaghetti supper while I was in high school. Since then, garlic has been one of my favorite seasonings. I had never attempted to grow it though, buying the fresh bulbs at the grocery store. And within the past few years, there have been jars of peeled garlic available—so much easier than peeling off that papery covering and mincing the clover.

Fortunately, my husband has been successful in growing elephant garlic–in Wisconsin and here in Texas. Much to the delight and amusement of the neighbors in Wisconsin, he would dry braided strands of arlic in the cab of his truck—looking like he was preparing for an onslaught of vampires.

And then there are the blooms. I had seen onions go to flower creating a pod at the top; and I guessed garlic would do the same.

And if you have never seen a garlic blossom—here is one.

it took two or more months for the flower to form and then bloom–an item of interest for the mail carrier and the UPS driver.

Happiness is

A day at the beach!

We had planned to take a short trip for nearly a week, hoping the weather would cooperate—-and it did. Sunshine, a tiny bit of a breeze, and temps in the low 70’s made for a perfect day. We also had the beach mostly to ourselves–a man with his daughter played in the surf and a Hispanic man fished the surf with three lines (didn’t catch anything while we were there).

While many people go to the beach in the summer, we far prefer the winter time. I think it is the solitude–the quiet–although the waves and the surf were rather noisy yesterday. A huge flock of gulls congregated near the water’s edge and I took dozens of photos. This wasn’t the easiest as I cannot use the viewfinder due to my eyesight, but must use the little fold-out window. But the shells and the feather held quite still for me.

As we had considerable number of miles left on Tessie’s battery, we stopped by what used to be Dick Dowling Battleground–now renamed in view of political correctness as the Sabine Pass Battleground. A dozen or more fishers lined the bulkhead, a few tourists arrived and wandered around the various markers—a miniature set-up of the guns and the ships–the USS Clifton, USS Sachem and one other were arranged in the grounds. And then there was the huge walking beam used to power the ship.

We ate our lunch of sandwiches, a satsuma, and two chocolates at a picnic table under a tree while Glen threw bits of satsuma peel at the grackles who had already decorated our table—I always bring a small hand-towel to use as a table-cloth–so no worries.

Next up was a trip to Riverfront Park in Port Neches, everything due to the pandemic (will it ever end?) Several groups were having outdoor birthday parties with balloons marking their tables.

And then home to a pot of rice and pinto beans and two dogs who smiled as they ventured out to the dog park.

It was a good day.

Some of my photos of the day are posted here:

Bated Breath

Some time ago, I wrote about my experiment with batik and then the resulting fabric.

Here is what I did with the hemp//cotton blend.

close-up of one corner

The pale blue squares are that hemp/cotton blend. It sewed like an absolute dream—I really like the feel of it, the hand, and the subtle texture of the fabric. Then there’s the subtle batik imprints as well.

Some of you may be familiar with The Quilt Show hosted by Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims on the internet. Alex has been doing a series of Quilt-Alongs. This piece combines two of them, a sampler block and then a basket sampler. I used a scrap bag of hand-dyes by Ricky Tims as the solids and a layer cake of Tim Holtz grunge as the neutrals.

The next project Alex is presenting is a Christmas Quilt. She just finished one of wonky faces to be used as an Avatar—so many fun faces–I haven’t tried one—maybe this weekend. Along with the Handmade Book Club weekly facebook live postings, seeing their smiling faces makes some of the other things about current life less onerous.

It isn’t quilted yet but joins a very small stack of tops.

In other news; I injured my left shoulder while at work two weeks ago. That has put a significant hamper on a lot of activities I would normally be doing this time of year. It has improved—I can now brush my teeth sort of normally but it is still a challenge to comb my hair. Although I am not truly ambidextrous, that left arm is more than just a place holder. Hand works fine though, so life is not too bad.

Not staying busy

I’d like to say I have taken advantage of this pandemic and the stay at home (mostly) recommendations and produced gobs of new work to dazzle everyone.

But I haven’t.

What I have done is quilted all the tops and bound nearly all of them–just two left to bind–and one new one on the frame now.

I have kept up with the Quilt Show’s Block of the Month until October when I just could not get to Kinko’s to enlarge the applique pattern for the month (just two and I didn’t want to go to a store for just two) and then November and suddenly they released all the remaining blocks and I had TWELVE to do. Off to Kinko’s I went; enlarged the blocks—I have not mastered sizing on my printer–easy at Kinkos and their copiers and less than $2 to do so for all twelve.

and then there was a project I took on as a thank you to some folks who were so generous and kind to me while working out of town—I’ll post more about that much later, when I get them done—-but for now, here are those blocks ready for hand-stitching.

How does My Garden Grow?

As someone who grew up in the northern climes of Wisconsin with long winters enhanced in January by the arrival of the seed catalogs, it has taken me more than a few years to become accustomed to a place where things grown year-round—-and lawn-mowing as well.

The first time i planted peas….in the middle of May, I was informed that everyone else was pulling up their plants as Gulf coast weather was entirely too hot for them to continue producing—and there were no tomato sets in the gardening stores.

But I have learned.

Today we are picking satsumas from the tree in our front yard and sharing the with others. The lemon tree did not do so well this year but I still have plenty of frozen ones for lemonaid and pickled ones for flavoring chicken and fish. And then we set up a new watering system for the late winter/early spring garden.

Radishes and three kinds of lettuce and some peas have been seeded; the tomato that somehow survived two hurricanes and the hot summer weather has a few green tomatoes on it—but I pulled up the okra as it is now far too cool for it to continue podding. Okra flowers are so pretty with their deep purple throats and creamy outer petals—and now with an abundance of okra, we have experimented in using it in unusual ways–it has proven to be a great addition to pizza—and no, it is not slimey.

Broccoli has persisted through the summer and re-seeded itself—it is one of the bees favorite flowers as the pollen is high in protein–needed for all those baby bees I expect to have in the early spring.

Now comes the hard part, waiting until I see those little sprouts appearing—but while I wait I can have a satsuma.

Cotton Fields

My grandmother had picked a stalk of cotton during one of her trips to Georgia and displayed it in a vase on top of her upright piano. In that same vase were some stalks of oats I had picked for her on the edge of one of our fields. She had covered the grains with brightly colored aluminum foil–a painstaking task occupying many hours. I always wondered where she had gotten so many different colors–purple, green, blue, red—we only had the plain silver. And now that I think back on it, I am sure she scavenged that foil from floral arrangements from the three cemeteries she maintained as one of her means of income.

I wondered what fields of cotton would look like—maybe like a field of white roses near Geough Georgia, a small town consisting of a cotton gin, a post office/general store and a school. I had been volunteered as a newly minted MD to supervise a health clinic at the school– I think they mostly talked about diet and brushing teeth.

Texas does grow cotton and here is one of those fields. Menger was a cotton farmer who developed several different kinds of machinery to process the cotton. I stood at the side of the field to take this photo; there was cotton as far as I could see on both sides of the road.

cotton flower