sweet little bluebird

sweet little bluebird
sweet little bluebird

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My favorite Christmas tradition

Vintage sled with greenery

In another life, I would have loved having a nursery and a degree in landscape design. There is nothing I love much more than making landscape beds, planting things and having my hands in good dirt. The trouble is that I have no knowledge, so I've made mostly mistakes through the years, as I've planted, dug up, transplanted, killed, thrown away and mostly mismanaged my own landscape. What I'd really focus on (in that other realm) is using native plants for landscaping -- such a smart and practical way to do it, and those things have a much better chance of survival! Maybe when we retire (Hahaha!) I'll do that -- go back to school and become a world-famous landscape architect. In the meantime, I'll content myself with practicing and playing in my own backyard.
Winter is my favorite time to be outside (except when it's 20 degrees with a stiff north wind.) The approach of Christmas always inspires me to head out and clip some pine, cedar and red berries to make a few decorations. I love the elegant, tasteful, everything-coordinated-and-matched d├ęcor I see in magazines and on sites like Pinterest, but my truly favorite kind of Christmas decorations are the homely ones made with simple trimmings from the woods nearby. My homemade decorations won't win any Yard-of-the-Month award, but they make me happy. I guess that is what matters, after all. This weekend we'll cut a cedar tree and put lights and ornaments on it and my decorating will be complete. Just like we've always done it ... keeping traditions is what makes Christmas special, isn't it?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A simple tree skirt

I love finding things that other women have made, especially vintage items. This simple tree skirt was in a flea market, tucked in among other nondescript items. The price was very low, but when I pulled it out and really looked at it I could see it was all done by hand.
The lady who made this simply cut a large circle out of a single piece of material that feels like a lightweight cotton duck, cut a slit to the middle, finished the cut edges with twill tape, and cut a circle for the center to fit around the base of the Christmas tree. Then she embroidered her simple message and sweet shapes that might have been traced around cookie cutters. The work is not perfect nor is it of exceptional quality, but the overall effect is very sweet.
Around the star ...
and around the snowman, the embroidery is couched. Kind of interesting that she added this element to such a simple, primitive piece of embroidery.
I love that the little deer is smiling.  :)
The candle is cross-stitched.

A sweet little wreath with holly berries and bow ...

...and a purple bell with rust spot nearby for accent.  :)
The underside of the tree skirt reveals how neatly she worked her outline stitch on the sleigh and star.
And here is the mystery element in this primitive piece. It's an airplane, with some numbers and letters embroidered upon it. Any guesses as to what they mean?
This shows how she finished the hemmed edge with a wide blanket stitch.

This modest little tree skirt is nothing special, except perhaps to me and hopefully to its new owners. This little piece is going to a new home where some wonderful little children will love it. The shapes look as if Wyatt and Addie could have drawn them! I wish the woman who made this could somehow know that it is still being loved and used.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

An unexpected gift ...

Sometimes the best gifts are those you didn't even know to wish for. A couple of weeks ago I was given an unexpected gift ...

... this beautiful hand-knitted blue sweater. Oh, my! Can you imagine the pleasure this gift gives me? I am a knitter, and I know what went into the making of this lovely garment. But that is not all that makes it special. I remember when this sweater was made!

When I was a teenager, I was very keen on knitting. A very special lady, Bernie Sanders, with whom I went to church and who also happened to be a distant cousin (so there was another bond) cheered my efforts and helped me when I ran into trouble. I even remember her showing me how to make a bobble, sort of a little knitted pom-pom, the kind of decorative element that adorns this sweater. I distinctly remember when Bernie was knitting complicated and beautiful sweaters for several of her relatives, including this blue beauty which she made for her sister-in-law, Edith. I was much in awe of Bernie's knitting skills and admired her creations endlessly.

Fast forward almost 50 years and imagine my delight when Edith's daughter (who also happens to be Bernie's special niece) gave me this vintage jewel as an unexpected gift. Oh, my! I do hope that Bernie is smiling from above, knowing how much I love wearing this sweater. I love that I have something that was Bernie's, for she really was an inspiration to me. I love that my friend, Susan, could bear to part with it (since it was too large for her to wear.) And I love that Susan knew just how much I would treasure this sweater, which is why she could entrust me with it.

While she was here for Thanksgiving, I asked my granddaughter to take a picture of the sweater (I don't do selfies) and I told her the story of the sweater. Just telling it made me feel warm and loved, all over again. This sweater is like a hug from Bernie, a completely unexpected and beloved gift ... the very best kind.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Everyone is shocked and saddened at the untimely, seemingly senseless death of Robin Williams. Me, too -- saddened, I mean. Really, really saddened, because he was one of the most talented actors ever. The brilliant gift he had, the ability to be comic, almost beyond funny, in one minute and to turn it into tragedy/pathos the next instant -- yes, I'm truly sad for the loss of such an immense talent. How few there are with such a gift! But I'm not shocked, nor am I even surprised.

It was in his eyes, even when he was being hilariously, uproariously funny, the sadness that was at his core. When he was still, you could see it. He made others laugh, but he wasn't sharing in our hilarity. It's the look of a true manic/depressive, a person with bi-polar disorder, whatever you choose to call it. When things are good, they are very, very good; and when they are bad, it's just beyond awful. The ones who have it the worst are the most genuinely gifted -- and suffer the most when they fall.

If you've been close to someone with bi-polar disorder, you know what I mean. If you haven't, perhaps you just write such behavior off as a weakness, a lack of self-control, laziness, a tendency toward melancholy, or a need for dependence on something. Most of the people who have this disorder do also have dependency (self-medication) issues. How many times does alcoholism, drug abuse, obesity -- any behaviior that seems to indicate a lack of self-control -- mask a much deeper, darker problem?

Surely the death of this genius actor will cause a new focus to be directed to the mystery and the questions surrounding mental illness. And maybe it will help some sufferers to get the help they need. In that respect, maybe his death won't have been in vain nor seem like such a useless waste of a bright mind. Perhaps we will think of his senseless death and begin to look at those around us with new eyes, to try and see into their inner beings rather than just the outward appearance which may present as disregard or even nonchalance. But no matter how much help is available or how much others care, it will always be up the individual with the problem to accept help. Therein lies the hardest part of this problem. It's a tough problem -- too tough for Robin Williams. What about those you know -- or you? Surely death isn't the only answer.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


Someone is out standing in his field, yes he is. Truly outstanding.
I'm always glad when he asks me to go along on a ramble. This morning we were heading out to a remote location, but first we stopped to check the green-graze. It's nearly ready to harvest, to be turned into juicy silage for next winter's feeding. That will happen near the end of this week.
It was a beautiful morning, and we needed to go to the way-to-the-back-of-beyond place to close some gates in preparation for getting up cattle the next morning.

Sadly, not all the wildlife in our country is desirable. Wild hogs are becoming a terrible scourge. The conservation department is working to help get rid of them, and they've trapped quite a few off this place. Lately they are trying something new. Believing there are 30 or more staying in this locale, they've set up this big net.

See the pile of corn around the base of the center pole? It looks like something has been scratching in it...hope it's hogs and not just coon. It's an awful big net just to catch an ornery coon or two.

There is something surprising near the silos.

Usually, the farmers in this family are diligent about cleaning up the pastures of debris, but I guess this was sort of unique. It has been sitting in this same spot for all of the 50 years since our family purchased this farm. All this area was brush and woods at one time, but as the clearing and grass planting and pasture establishing progressed, this relic was left to sit, a reminder of days gone by.

Looking into the hopper of the old pull-type combine, the only harvest it now anticipates might be a few wild blackberries.

Ripe ones are few and far between yet. See the one lonely black one?

Model no. 76, McCormick. Wish I knew what year it was made.

The guys have worked hard to get rid of blackberries, which are invasive and a nuisance to deal with, but I'm always glad to find a few still surviving. They aren't quite ripe yet, but there's a pretty decent crop coming on.

My morning snack.

We didn't see any sign of cattle as we progressed toward the big mountain to the west ...

... nor as we looked south toward Caney Mtn.

This is why. Mamas and babies were all congregated in this oasis, where there is welcome shade from the hot sun and a supply of fresh, cold spring water.

The cattle know how to find the best water.

The stream gets low in the middle of a hot summer, but this year, because we've gotten consistent rains, the flow is strong.

Such a cool, inviting place -- no wonder the cattle gather here and stay during the heat of the day.

You've all heard of Watergate? Well, this is a homemade one.

He's pulling some fencewire a bit tighter where it has gotten loose.

These walnuts are already nice and big, and the trees are really loaded. A good crop this year ...

... but not many gooseberries.

As we were leaving this farm, I saw this reminder of the farmwife who lived here long ago -- common daylilies were scattered all around the old homesite, all that is left of her handiwork. There was once a lovely white lilac here, but it died a long time ago. When it was still living, I tried digging up a start and took it to Mississippi, but it didn't make it. Dug at the wrong time of year to transplant. Still, I remember.

Masses of fleabane grew around the gate, having escaped a hard-working farmer's efforts to eradicate weeds. Do you think there is some flea-repelling property to this pretty plant, to have given it such a name? Most people just call them weeds, but I think they are so sweet and pretty and daisy-like.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

While you were sleeping ...

It was a foggy morning as the sun arose over the hills, so the fellows had to wait a little while before heading out to gather cattle. 

Finally, they were off! There he goes, on his trusty steed. The real steeds are livin' the life of Reilly these days, spending all their time sleeping, eating, sleeping some more -- Lucky, Peppy and Smoky retired two years ago when someone's back decided horseback was no longer an option. We don't hear them complaining. 

While I waited, I noticed that while we'd slept the night away, some workers had been busy. The field and roadsides were positively bedecked in thousands of small webs. Some were very intricate and closely woven


Some were cup-like, as this one was, and made of the finest gossamer.

Most were suspended from one stalk of fescue. The dewdrops made them visible, like the tiniest strings of pearls.
I am just amazed, over and over again, at the weaver's skill.





As the day dawned, other creatures began to get busy, as well.

Webs weren't the only lovely things to behold around me.

Blackberries are beginning to swell on their prickly vines.

Gooseberries need to be really ripe before I take a bite.


The cool green of these delicate ferns is one of my favorite gifts of nature.


Mother Nature creates the loveliest bouquets.
Here they come -- 75 mamas and babies, and my job is to turn them in to the corral that is behind that truck. I'm glad to say there were no ornery ones this morning, and they did just what I wanted them to do.
Day three of summer cattle working is now in full swing. Only another four weeks of these early, early mornings! I don't like to get up before daylight, but once I'm up and out there, I'm so well rewarded by all there is to see, if I just look around.
Friends, take time to look!