Quilting, Farming, Variety

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Past -- Christmas Morning

Charlotte awoke when she heard Daddy building the fire in the heater. She shook Wanda and crawled out of the warm bed into the cold air of the north room. She saw the new doll sticking out of her stocking before she got to the door.

"Oh, how pretty she is! Look Wanda, isn't she pretty?"

The doll didn't have glass eyes and shiny hair, and it didn't drink a bottle or wet its pants. It was just an ordinary doll with a pressed sawdust head and a stuffed cloth body. But it was new and clean and needed a little girl to love it. She hugged the doll close and took her stocking to the warmth of the heater to see what else was inside. There were some new barrettes for her hair, and rolled up inside was a book of the beautiful paper dolls. In the very bottom were dresses for her new doll.

Later in the morning Charlotte said to Mama, "I love my new doll! She's just right!"

"Someday, Santa will bring you a doll with glossy hair. I just know he will," said Mama.

There may not be time for me to post anything else until after Christmas, so I want to wish all who read my feeble attempts at writing, a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS with your families; may you be blessed with good health and happiness.

Blessings in Christ,


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Do Opposites Attract?

We're all familiar with the statement that opposites attract; but do they really? I guess when you look at these pictures you can see that yes, sometimes they do, for this smiling little girl and this serious little boy have been attracted to one another for a long time now. Today is their fifty-first wedding anniversary. In case you haven't already guessed, this is Mama Charlotte and Popa; I still smile and he's still serious.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

...The Christmas Program

...The program began, and for a while Charlotte forgot that she would be singing by herself. One by one the other little boys and girls went to the front of the room and recited the poems they had learned. Dane walked to the edge of the stage; he put his hands behind his back and began:

"Christmas is bright, Christmas is gay; all of us..." He looked at his mother. "All of us love..." she said quietly. "Oh yeah! All of us love Christmas Day!" Everyone clapped and he ran back to the bench and sat down.

"And now, Charlotte is going to sing 'Up on the Housetop' for us," said Mr. Sears.
Charlotte swallowed hard and walked to the stage. She clasped her hands together tightly behind her back and opened her mouth. Only a faint "Up on the housetop, reindeer pause" came out. She cleared her throat and started again:

"Up on the housetop reindeer pause,
Out jumps good old Santa Claus;
Down thro' the chimney with lots of toys,
All for the little ones' Christmas joys.
Ho, ho, ho! Who wouldn't go!
Ho, ho, ho! Who wouldn't go!
Up on the housetop, click, click, click,
Down thro' the chimney with good Saint Nick."

She paused and swallowed. She looked at Mama, who gave her a smile and a nod to sing more, so she continued with the second verse. Again she paused; no one was laughing at her, but rather the people seemed to be enjoying her song, so she started the last verse with her clear little voice more confident now:

"Next comes the stocking of little Will;
Oh, just see what a glorious fill;
Here is a hammer and lots of tacks,
Also a ball and a whip that cracks!"

She brought her hands around in front and slapped them together to make a sound for the "whip that cracks!" The audience clapped loudly! She had done it! Now she could sit back and enjoy the rest of the program.

After the older children presented their play, some of them passed out the gifts. Charlotte got a present wrapped in red tissue paper and tied with a white ribbon. She opened it carefully so Mama could save the paper. Inside was a box of eight crayons and a coloring book. "Look, Mama," she said. "Real colors that aren't broken!"

Next, bags of candy and fruit were passed out to the children. There was a big red apple, an orange, English walnuts and hard candy with designs swirling through the middle, inside each bag. Humidity had made the candy sticky and smudges of sweet color were on the peelings of the apple and the orange.

Charlotte was tired when she got home. Wanda reminded her to hang her stocking, so she put it on the doorknob near the Christmas tree. After they snuggled down into the feather bed, she listened for reindeer paws on the housetop. And then she thought about the switches the boy had told Santa to bring to her.

"Wanda," she whispered, "does Santa really bring switches to little girls?"
"I don't think so; I never got any," she said.....

Thursday, December 15, 2011

More on Christmas Past

Now the night for the program at church was only one day away. Mama was baking in the kitchen. Christmas music came from the radio; little boys and girls were singing Joy to the World. Charlotte pulled a chair up to the radio table, climbed up and turned the radio around to one side so she could look into the back.
"Mama! Charlotte's playing with the radio!" called Wanda. "She's about to pull it off the table!"
Mama hurried from the kitchen, wiping flour on her apron. "What are you doing?" she asked Charlotte.
"I'm trying to see the boys and girls in the radio. Do you hear them?" She leaned close to the radio and tried to look inside. Mama laughed and said they would have to be very tiny to fit in there.
The next day passed slowly for Charlotte. She snooped around under the Christmas tree that she and Wanda had decorated. It was an ordinary cedar tree, taken from a fence row, a little flat on one side, but when scooted up against the wall, it looked fine. They didn't have much to put on the tree: a few old colored glass balls, a wrinkled tinsel garland, and icicles saved from years gone by. Mama had put a piece of cotton quilt batting around the base of the tree to look like it was standing in snow. Several times during the day Wanda threatened Charlotte by reminding her of the switches the boy had told Santa to bring.
Mama fixed an early supper and they all dressed warmly before walking to the church for the program. Charlotte wore her best pair of corduroy pants to keep her warm.
She had never seen such a tall Christmas tree! It actually touched the ceiling and was covered from top to bottom with beautiful glass balls, popcorn garland, and paper chains. Every branch had new, glistening icicles, and underneath the tree were packages wrapped in pretty tissue papers and tied with crinkled ribbons....

Do you remember the anticipation you felt as a child while waiting for Christmas? Did you snoop and peek?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Just a Little Touch of Christmas Memories

Another re post:

The following is an excerpt from my book, In the Shade of the White Oak ...

"Up on the house top, reindeers' paws,Out jumps good ol' Santy Claus!"Charlotte was learning the words of a song to sing at the church Christmas program.

"It's not 'reindeers' paws'!" said Wanda. "It's reindeer pause! That means the reindeer are stopping on the housetop. Now try again."
There was excitement everywhere! Today Mama and the girls were going to town with Daddy as he went to work at the cream station. Wanda said Santa Claus would be at the courthouse. Charlotte had never seen Santa Claus in person, just in pictures.

The streets of Clarksville were bustling with shoppers. There were many little children, clutching their mothers' hands, waiting for a chance to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas. Charlotte wasn't sure she wanted to talk to him. "I don't think he knows me," she said. Mama took Wanda and Charlotte inside the Ben Franklin store to wait until time for Santa to come. Charlotte was speechless when she saw so many shelves covered with dolls of all sizes. She had looked at the dolls in the Sears catalog until the pages were frayed, but somehow it was different seeing them here on the shelves. She reached out to touch the soft, silky hair on one of the dolls. "Don't touch the dolls, little girl!" She quickly pulled her hand back and looked up. A salesclerk was standing over her, looking sternly. Mama took Charlotte's hand and led her around the end of the shelves to look at something else.
At ten o'clock people started gathering in front of the courthouse. Mama took Wanda and Charlotte across the street. "Wanda, you take Charlotte by the hand and go with her."
The line moved slowly; a few children were stopping to sit in Santa's lap. Charlotte decided she wouldn't do that! Some boys and girls looked too old to sit on his lap, and some were crying babies, too young to know why they were there.
Now Charlotte was standing in front of Santa. "Well, hello there, little girl," he said. "Ho! Ho! Ho! What would you like for Christmas? Maybe a baby doll or a tricycle?"
She turned from him and put her hand across her face.
"Maybe she wants a bundle of switches!" laughed a big boy.
Wanda frowned at him and said to Santa, "She wants a doll and some paper dolls, please." She tugged at Charlotte's sleeve and started to leave.
"Wait a minute," said Santa, "here is a bag of candy for you."
They walked quickly on through the courthouse and met Mama outside. "Well, what did you think of Santa Claus?" she asked.
"She wouldn't talk to him," said Wanda. "I guess that means she won't get anything in her stocking.".......

Do you remember having a visit with Santa?

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Winter Day -- 1942

A re post:

It would have been a day like today, raw and cold, and the wind driving the cold straight to the bones. All but the necessary outside work, milking the cow, feeding and watering the chickens, was laid aside and we gathered close to the heating stove. The closed door shut out the unheated air from the north room and soon the little front room began to warm despite the wind squeezing in around the window, giving movement to the curtain.

Uncle Dewey, Aunt Leola, and Baby Dane came for dinner and then stayed to visit in the afternoon. Mama sent Daddy to the smoke house for a chunk of meat, cut off of the sugar cured ham hanging from the rafters, and then he went down into the cellar for potatoes. She also cooked dried peas, buttermilk biscuits and red eye gravy, and finished off the meal with more biscuits spread with sweet butter and blackberry jelly. While the women cleaned the kitchen, Daddy put more coal into the heating stove, and then he and Uncle Dewey took out their tobacco pouches and cigarette papers, rolled cigarettes and sat around the radio, listening for any news about the war that was raging across the ocean, a world away from this rural home.

Baby Dane, two months old, and Charlotte, twenty months old, were asleep now, so the adults pulled up their chairs around the little table and poured out pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. They could have played dominoes, checkers, or Chinese checkers. They talked and laughed with one another as they put the pieces into place; the picture grew, and the warmth of their friendship pushed the cold away, and before long the sun slid lower in the west, the shadows grew long and Wanda came home from school.

Now Daddy went to the barn to do the evening chores and carried a fresh bucket of water up from the well. Wanda gathered the eggs, Mama put Charlotte in the swing hanging from the door frame while she warmed up the leftovers, and then the family settled in for another cold night.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Last week I found this simple apron pattern; how perfect, one for mom and one for daughter.

Each calls for very little fabric; in fact, less than a yard.

I made this one in a child's size from a fat quarter, and used the solid blue for waistband, ties and bias trim. I really like it; makes me think of Alice in Wonderland.

Most apron patterns call for 1/4" double fold bias tape and sometimes it's hard to find the right color. Recently I got a new 1/2" bias tape maker; now I can make my own 1/4" double fold tape to match colors.

Connecting Threads, an online fabric site, has a terrific sale right now; maybe it's a good time to gift myself with supplies for making aprons since I plan to use this pattern a lot.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bright Colors for a Drab Day

This is another doll quilt; bright colors to brighten this drab day.

We've had lots and lots and lots of rain since Sat. afternoon. Now I don't mean to sound like some folks in days of old, but do you ever wonder why it is things can't be evened out? It hasn't been long ago that I was posting about the drought -- well, it's broken!! Poor cattle!

Saturday, December 3, 2011


This is a good thing to remember today:
Don't worry, don't hurry, do your best; leave the rest!
I'll let this picture speak for itself:


Friday, December 2, 2011

Getting Things Ready for Another Flock

We have about two more weeks before we get a new flock of baby chickens. We're going to be out almost a month so that has given Popa a chance to make things ready for the cold weather ahead. Of course that makes a long time between pay days. Today we have a crew on the farm putting a foam material in the ridge and along the foundation of the two older houses, hoping to block cold air from coming in. Not only will that make the chickens more comfortable, but it will help to keep from using so much fuel for the heaters.

Two days ago this semi-load of propane was delivered; do the math for that, and you can see why we're trying to save fuel!

While I'm on "vacation", the spider web quilt gets a little more done on it each day. I may just forget how to raise chickens ;).


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Quilt Beginnings, part 2

Another repost:

When Mama retired from the job in town, I got to spend more time with her. My husband and girls were back in school so I would go over, spend a few hours quilting with her, and eat the wonderful meal she always prepared; delicious, baked sweet potatoes were always waiting for me. I knew my stitches were not as neat and tidy as hers, even though her fingers were knotted from arthritis. She never complained about my stitches, but rather encouraged me to continue.

By this time she was entering quilts in the county fair and most always won blue ribbons. One of the most tedious tops she pieced was called Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors. It was made from melon shaped pieces, each one from a different fabric. Can’t you just imagine what a chore it must have been to get perfect points where those melons joined? She had developed her own technique of using a little gathering thread to draw them together. This is a picture of one of her Joseph’s Coats.

Now I had pieced a few tops myself and did machine quilting but was never really pleased with the stitching on them. I believe the first top I pieced was a Drunkard’s Path; I was a teenager at the time. Each block was made from a different print and the solid parts were made from feed sacks that had been dyed a light blue. That quilt, all faded and tattered, is now in my husband’s tool shed, used to cover things in cold weather. I went on to more difficult patterns such as the Double Wedding Ring, made from scraps given to me by my husband’s grandmother. It became one of the first quilts I quilted by hand.

Daddy made some quilting frames for me and soon I was laying out lining, batting and top on the carpet, pinning and rolling it all up. That was such a chore for me and became even worse as I aged. So, sometime back, my husband made some new frames for me; they have three rollers and now I can put up a quilt in a jiffy, by myself, standing up, and the whole thing is neater and smoother.

These are my frames: no fancy additions, just very workable; also a nice cabinet for storing completed quilts and tops. (The quilt is called String Bars, from the book, Liberated String Quilts by Gwen Marston.) I'll have to learn how to put the pictures in the right place. For some reason they want to load in front of the script.

This is my sewing area, with cabinets also made by my husband, from oak harvested from our own land. It was supposed to have doors on the upper shelves, but I’ve come to like the open look. My machine is a simple Singer; I like the control I have over the speed but it drives me nuts when it comes to unthreading the needle unless I have the needle positioned to come down before cutting the thread.

Next post I will continue the quilting saga. Have a good day!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Quilt Beginnings

We are in the process of setting up a new computer; I don't have access to my pictures yet, so this is a repost

It seems, had I been born in the winter, I would have been born under a quilt in frames hanging from the ceiling. That's how quilting memories began for me. Mama's frames were four simple wooden strips, held together at the corners with nails and hung from the ceiling with cords. As she progressed with the stitching, the nails were taken out of the holes in the corners, the strips rolled, and the nails replaced. At night, when we were all inside the small room, the cords were wrapped around the ends of the strips and the quilt was raised high enough for us to walk under. If time permitted, the quilt was let down the next day and stitching started again. My aunt came on some days, and her little boy and I played under the quilt while they stitched; the room was so small there wasn't anywhere else to play. I'm sure we caused many a finger to be stuck with the needle when we stood up and shook the quilt.
Mama started quilting at an early age. I have a postcard on which she wrote, when she was a teen, "I have quilted three quilts this winter." Off and on, as I grew up, she pieced tops, but it wasn't until she retired from her "town" job that quilting really became a passion of hers. She made one quilt after another, and soon began selling them. Some went to states far away. When her heart began giving her trouble, and the doctor told her not to do anything, she gave up quilting the tops; however, the morning after she passed away, we found a little basket of blocks she had been working on, at the end of the couch.

So, it's no wonder that I took up quilting. I don't claim to be a wonderful quilter; I see all my mistakes. I especially enjoy making scrap and string quilts because of the great color variations. I make all sizes: bed quilts, baby quilts, and doll quilts.

The picture is my second attempt at making a doll quilt which I gave to my granddaughter, Lily. I will post about others in coming days.

Have a good day! Charlotte

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgivings Past

As Thanksgiving approaches, I always remember the way my family spent the day. I don't remember eating turkey, probably until I was in junior high school, and that would have been at school. And I don't remember ever having beef of any kind except an occasional hamburger at town, until Mama took a job in town in the early 50s, but we did have pork. The day of butchering was usually on Thanksgiving. This is a story of the day the hog was butchered; if you're squeamish, don't read.

...As Thanksgiving Day approached, Wanda was glad to have a few days off from school. One night at supper she said, "We had turkey and dressing for dinner today. Boy it was good!"

"What's a turkey taste like?" asked Charlotte. "A turkey tastes sorta like a big 'ol baked hen. You probably wouldn't eat it though; you won't eat anything," said Wanda. Charlotte was tired of the plain meals they had to have now. All the fryers had been used; there had been very little fresh meat to eat with the vegetables since then. Now and then Daddy brought home a squirrel for Mama to fry, but there wasn't much of it and sometimes it was tough to chew. "If the weather stays this cold, we'll kill hogs on Thanksgiving Day," said Daddy.
On Thanksgiving morning everything was white with frost, the skies were clear, so Daddy got ready to butcher the hog. He built a fire under the big iron wash pots and the water in them soon began to boil. Uncle Dewey came to help kill the hog and hang it; they filled buckets with the boiling water and poured it over the hog, then took their sharp butcher knives and scrapped the hair off the hog, and dressed the meat into various cuts: shoulders, bacon slabs, tenderloin, backbone, and hams.

Mama and Aunt Leola rubbed the hams, one shoulder, and the bacon slabs with a mixture of salt and sugar. It would preserve the meat and help keep flies off if the weather turned warmer. Daddy took the pieces to the smokehouse and hung them from the rafters with strings of wire. The next day Mama would put the meat from the other shoulder through the meat grinder, add salt, pepper, and sage and shape it into sausage patties. Then she would fry them and can them in her pressure cooker. Now there would be meat to last until spring. The little scraps of fat would be cooked until they were crisp and the liquid (lard) was poured off to be used in cooking.

Charlotte felt content tonight; the lamp flickered and cast familiar shadows on the walls. She and Wanda brought their flannel gowns to the heater to warm them, then dashed into the cold north room and snuggled down into the feather bed. Mama pulled the blanket and quilts up over them, kissed them both and said, "Sweet dreams, girls."

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! Charlotte

As a child, I was very finicky about what I ate and I remain the type who eats to live rather than living to eat. The meat from the backbone, boiled, was always my favorite; better than any turkey!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Little Things Stuffed Away

Sometimes it's nice to find a box or jar, filled with little things I've stuffed away, and spill them out for a look. For instance, this jar held marbles from my childhood, jacks, a rolling pin from my girls' play set, a little top from an unknown source, and a sweet, tiny doll in a little metal bed.

This old canning jar was filled with antique sewing supplies: wooden spools still holding thread, several packages of needles, old buttons and thimbles, wooden cases filled with machine needles, small balls of crochet thread, and two, slighted rusty crochet hooks. Don't you wonder what was made with these items?

Do you stuff things away?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

From a Basket of Strings

Another little doll quilt, made from strings thrown into a basket, set off by red strips and an antique button in the middle.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tumbling Blocks

Dixie, from MAIDA Today, invited us to enter a doll quilt we had made, to share with readers. This is my entry, Tumbling Blocks; hand pieced blocks, appliqued onto the background, and hand quilted. It measures 17" x 20", a good size to cover a doll.

I'm showing this one just for you: Scrappy Spools, hand pieced and hand quilted.

I like to make my doll quilts by traditional patterns if possible; patterns that one might find on a big bed.

Enjoy, Charlotte

Friday, November 11, 2011

Porch Prayer

This was sent to me in an email and thought it worth sharing:

There was a little old lady, who every morning stepped onto her front
porch, raised her arms to the sky, and shouted: 'PRAISE THE LORD!'
One day an atheist moved into the house next door. He became irritated at the little
old lady. Every morning he'd step onto his front porch after her and yell: 'THERE IS NO LORD!'
Time passed with the two of them carrying on this way every day .
One morning, in the middle of winter, the little old lady stepped onto
her front porch and shouted: 'PRAISE THE LORD! Please Lord, I have no
food and I am starving, provide for me, oh Lord!
The next morning she stepped out onto her porch and there were
two huge bags of groceries sitting there.
The atheist neighbor jumped out of the hedges and shouted:
The little old lady threw her arms into the air and shouted:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Shall We Call It "Charlotte's Web"?

This is my next quilting project, a string spider web, now known as Charlotte's web. The top has been pieced for a long time and since I'm trying to get caught up on works in progress I thought it would be a good thing to work on this winter. I'm in no hurry to get it done; will just take it as it comes. However, the chickens will go out next week, and most growers are being out longer now, so I may get a lot done (if my shoulders can hold out for the few days left working in the chickens; after all, the shoulders are on an old woman and the work is beginning to drag me down somewhat, as bad as I hate to admit it).

Getting a quilt top in the frames is no quick fix; I've worked on the lining all afternoon and hope tonight I can finish putting the batting and the top onto the frames. The batting is cotton; I'm sure I haven't used cotton batting in at least 49 years when I made quilts for my first little baby girl. It feels like a soft warm blanket, so with the top and lining it should be a nice quilt.

There is still a certain doll that needs to be finished and dressed too; she just keeps getting pushed aside. Remember the one with the black eyes?


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

What Is It?

Do any of you blogging friends know what this little glass object is called? At first I thought it was made to hold a pincushion because I had seen something similar in a quilting magazine, and it was obviously made to hold something. Could it be a salt cellar? The salt cellars I viewed online were a lot larger than this. It looks like something that came in Quacker Oatmeal as a premium. Or, is it just an ordinary "what-not'?

This was the view from our back porch this morning. Around noon it started to rain; we got three inches by the time it was over. That's the most we had had since the end of May. Now the pond is finally full. The tree colors must be at their peak.

Sunday, November 6, 2011


We attend church in a small assembly; twenty faithful people most Sundays. Sometimes it's a struggle for me to go, to be among people. We're always greeted at the door with multiple handshakes. The services are simple; no need for a Power Point screen to be lowered in front of us with the notes and words of hymns, really no need for hymnals, for in my case, the words of these songs have been written in my heart a long, long time.

Amazing grace - how sweet the sound - ...

Rock of ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in Thee ...

Wonderful story of love: tell it to me again ...

Sing the wondrous love of Jesus, sing His mercy and His grace ...

The words slip from my tongue in praise; they come natural and I feel the presence of God in them.

Blessings, Charlotte

Friday, November 4, 2011


Are you old enough to know about what-nots? That's what we used to call little ceramic or glass figures (aka dust collectors). You may recall your grandmother having a collection of these little objects sitting on a table or shelf, or maybe on a corner rack such as this:

This one is filled with my collection of little what-not piggies.

I just happened to think of the word "what-nots" this morning and wondered if anyone uses it anymore. Do you have what-nots and if so, how do you display them?


Thursday, November 3, 2011

To Market, To Market

The truck rolled onto the farm this morning before daylight to pick up our calves to take to market.

We took out a few replacement heifers and left these to sell. Clouds began rolling in before we finished sorting and feeding them, and rain fell during the night. There's always a sense of pride in sending off good calves, but a little sadness too. Mead, my bottle calf, got to stay here this time; before he goes I'll have a talk with him about greener pastures, but leave out the part about the future. sniff, sniff, Charlotte

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Hunt

It was beginning to seem more like winter every day. The white oak had lost most of its leaves and on some mornings the chickens' watering pans were covered with a thin layer of ice. Old Pudge, the hunting dog, lay curled up in a ball next to the back door, out of the wind. The air had the smell of wood smoke coming from the pot-bellied heating stove.
Daddy started hunting at night now. He took down the carbide lamp, cleaned it, and filled it halfway with small gray carbide pellets. When he added water, the pellets sizzled inside the lamp, forming a gas that ignited when he put a match to it. He clipped the lamp to his cap and it gave enough light for him to see how to get through the woods.

Pudge wagged his tail and barked, excited to be going on a chase. He was a fine dog; Daddy had been offered $100 for him, but good coon dogs were hard to find. A good dog meant there would be more hides to sell; 35 cents for opossum hides, and skunk hides brought $1.00 each. Raccoons were the animals Daddy liked best to hunt because their hides brought $2.00 to $3.00 each.

Uncle Dewey came after dark with his hounds and the two men left, the dogs straining at their leashes, eager to be freed. At the foot of Turkey Mountain, Pudge picked up a coon's trail. He let out a shrill bark and Daddy turned him loose. The men walked carefully through the thick undergrowth of briers and vines. They heard the dogs in the distance. Daddy recognized Pudge's bark; he was treed!

When Daddy and Uncle Dewey reached the dogs, they were barking with every breath, at the base of a big sweet gum tree, and clawing, trying to get to the animal overhead. Daddy aimed the light from the carbide lamp up into the branches of the tree; the animal turned one eye to the light. "It's a coon alright! A coon will always turn one eye to the light! Get him Pudge!"

He raised the gun to his shoulder, took aim, and fired. The coon ran to the other side of the tree and jumped. He ran; the dogs gave chase again, hot on his trail! The coon took refuge under a rock ledge along the creek. "I believe we've lost this one; we might as well head on back home."

The next morning, Daddy skinned the two opossums he had killed the night before. He stretched the hides over boards and hung them on the wall of the smokehouse to dry. Two hides meant only seventy-five cents, but the excitement of the hunt had been worth much more.

Daddy and the hunting dogs

Thank you for the comments you have made about my stories. Some have suggested that I put them in a book. Well, actually, they are from a book I wrote for my grandchildren, titled, "In the Shade of the White Oak". I wanted the kids to know what life was like for us in the 40s and early 50s, the first ten years of my life. Right now they aren't too interested in the stories; older people, who remember these things, have seemed to enjoy it though. Other parts from the book may be found under the label "family". Charlotte

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Orange and Green

Two lovely fall colors, orange and green; a little mixture of what's left of warm weather and the coming of cold weather. Today I'm freezing turnip greens for the winter meals; picking, washing, cutting them up and cooking,

what started out as a big bowl full, and hoping for at least two boxes to put into the freezer.

And the old maple tree throws in her version of green and orange once again. Pictures don't capture the true beauty.

In between other chores, I work on my own version of orange and green, finishing the edges of the "white ribbon quilt".


Monday, October 24, 2011

Monday Morning Walk

Fog was so thick this morning I could barely see the neighbors dwelling place. When I took my morning walk I could almost feel the droplets on my face and all through the woods, these little tents were sparkling with the moisture. Tent spiders, I think they're called,

nestled among the twigs and dry leaves, or attached to grass. I tried to entice one to come out by tickling the tent with a blade of grass.

That was the pleasant thing I saw this morning; these things were not so pleasing:

the armadillo made its rounds again last night digging deeper and deeper and throwing more and more dirt out. I'm going to haul some dirt and fill up the holes, then put a layer of chicken wire over it, in hopes he won't dig there again. Now he'll probably start over under something else. We had one inch of rain Saturday night, making the ground nice and soft, so he took advantage of the situation.
Do you have this problem with animals? How do you deal with it? I'd like to know.

After posting this, I did some research on the spider. I think these are called grass spiders rather than tent spiders.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This One Surprised Me !!

This little quilt surprised me; when it was just a top it didn't impress me much, but the more I quilted on it, the more I grew to like it. It seems to be just what a quilt represents to me: a pieced block, quilted by the piece, set together with strips, pretty enough for a bed, or sturdy enough to be played on. And I didn't feel pressured to make every stitch the same length or every seam a perfect quarter inch; I just enjoyed it.

The backing came from my stash; I've always liked the print but had never found a use for it until I saw how well it matched the red border. The binding, from the same print, and which always is just like "the frosting on the cake" hugs it all together.

So, that's another WIP out of the cupboard; on to another!

Enjoy, Charlotte

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What I Learned From Watching

Have you ever hit your thumb with a hammer, or stubbed your toe, and a few choice words slip unbridled from your tongue, in front of a child? Then, unexpectedly, the child uses those same words while playing. My mother-in-law used to say, "Little pitchers have big ears." It's so easy for us to pass on things to little ones because they are watching us and learning from us.

Daddy smoked most of the first ten years of my life, and although I didn't grow up to be a smoker, I probably could have, for I like the smell of tobacco. I don't ever remember Daddy smoking bought cigarettes; most men we knew "rolled" their own. And that is what I learned from watching; I think today, if I had the materials for a cigarette, I could roll one.

Men wore bib overalls, Big Smith being the favorite brand, and inside the bib pockets they carried either a little cloth sack of tobacco or a tin of tobacco, matches, and a packet of thin, tissue papers.

To roll the cigarette, he would take out one tissue and cradle it between his left thumb and the next two fingers. If the tobacco was in a little cloth bag, he would take it from the bib, catch a corner of the top of the bag in his teeth, open the bag and carefully pour out the right amount of tobacco into the tissue, catch the drawstring of the bag with his teeth, pull it shut, then put the bag back into the pocket. Then he carefully rolled the tissue around the tobacco, licked the tissue to seal it, put the cigarette into his mouth, and lit it with a match. (Of course, filling the tissue from a tin would have been much easier.) Now if he happened to be with a friend who had no tobacco, but wanted to smoke, the friend might say, "Can I bum a cigarette?"

Daddy has told us several times how he stopped smoking: "I had the flu; one morning I rolled my cigarette and sat down by the heater. When I put the cigarette in my mouth, it didn't taste good, so I threw it in the heater, and never smoked again!"

Hopefully we can be good examples to those little ones who learn from us.

Smiles, Charlotte

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The New Coat

Oh it's so cool this morning! A cold front went through last night, dropping four tenths of an inch of rain over us; we seem to be in a weather sandwich where not much meat was put inside, meaning the heaviest rain always borders us on the north and south and we get the sprinkling in between. But -- we'll take every drop that falls and be thankful for it.

The cooler air makes us need our jackets whenever we go out to do the chores and it also brings to my memory the new coat Mama made for me when I was six years old. It went something like this:
If you have read my posts for a while, you are familiar with our Aunt Rhody, and how she gave us many of the things we had as payment for work Daddy did for her. Now and then she would send a bag of dresses she no longer wanted and Mama would use them to make things for herself or us girls. One such bag contained a coat, and although it would have fit Mama, she knew I needed a coat so she decided to cut it up and make one for me. I'm not sure of its color, but that doesn't matter; what was important to the coat was the black fur collar.

Since the coat was wool, it couldn't be washed, so Mama carefully ripped out the seams and pressed the pieces flat. The backside of the fabric was clean and bright so she used it for the front sides when she cut out the parts for the coat. Each day, after school, the coat was a little closer to being finished and the winds were also a little colder; I needed the coat.

Finally, Mama had the new blue coat all sewed together; she held it up for me to see. It was pretty, except--there around the neck was that black fur collar! Well, I just wouldn't wear it! Why had Mama put that ugly thing on my new coat! And I told Mama I wouldn't wear it; she said, "That makes the coat pretty and it will be so warm up against your face and neck!" Wanda took advantage of the situation and suggested maybe the fur came from a skunk and then I threw the coat across the bed and onto the floor.

The next morning I needed more than just a sweater so Mama made me put on the coat before leaving to catch the bus. As soon as I got out the door I pulled it off and left it lying on the front porch. Mama had been watching from the window; I struggled as she put the coat back on me and jerked it off, dropping it on the ground. Patiently Mama picked up the coat again and put it on me. All the way to the bus stop we battered back and forth with the coat, and when Mama picked up a little switch, I kept the coat on; once inside the bus, I held my book satchel tightly against my chest, hoping it would hide the black fur, and when my chin touched it, I was sure I could smell skunk.

At school, I hurried to the cloak room and hung the coat up before anyone had a chance to see it, but at recess the teacher made me put it on, and so I was forced to wear it and now everyone could see the ugly black fur. My best friend liked the coat and when I told her I didn't like it, she asked if she could wear it. Then other girls wanted to touch the fur and wondered from what kind of animal it came; maybe a bear or a black panther, or a rabbit? I was surprised and slowly touched the fur; it was soft and warm and Mama had brushed it until it shined.

Mama was surprised to see me wearing the coat that afternoon; she didn't ask any questions or mention the trouble we had that morning. "Mama, the girls at school thought my coat was so pretty and they all wished their coats had fur collars too," I said, "and it sure is warm around my neck! I like the coat now!"

Stay warm, Charlotte

Thursday, October 13, 2011

This One's Finished!

Do you remember the quilt top with the embroidered primitive nursery rhymes? It's finished!! I quilted the patchwork blocks by the piece,

and quilted circles in the embroidered blocks. The backing fabric is the same design as the sashing strips, but in yellow. Even though it's set together with blue, the patchwork blocks make the quilt look soft and sweet enough for a baby girl. I like it!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It Doesn't Always Pay to Reach for Greener Grass

We awoke this morning to lightning, thunder, and the wonderful sound of rain! So I wasn't in a hurry to go to the chicken houses and proceeded with the housework. I looked out the window, as is my custom, and saw this "fence", such as it is, lying on the ground. For months (more like years now) I've wanted this make-shift fence to be taken down and a permanent one put up. Anyway, all these panels were down, except the orange one. It was being held up at the far end by one of the heifers.

I hurried to the chicken houses to get Popa, (no time to take pictures of this part) and when we got closer we could see that her head was stuck inside the bottom "leg" of the panel. It's easier to get into trouble than out; she had been reaching for greener grass.

Popa chained the panel to the truck, and in the midst of close lightning and rain, he finally managed to cut the leg off with a reciprocating saw. Very dangerous work: a terrified heifer and standing on wet groud in a lightning storm! There's always something interesting to do on a farm! I wonder, do you think she learned it doesn't always pay to reach for greener grass?


Monday, October 10, 2011

Being a Little Too Neighborly

We have seven deer who have taken our farm as their home. We see them in the late afternoon grazing in the pasture, and at night resting, not far from the house. There are three does and four little ones that come into the yard, scouring the ground for acorns or nibbling on my flowers. We like to watch them, and in turn, they watch us, with their heads held high and tail flags waving.

But last night they became a little too neighborly, eating off all the new growth my rose bush had put out after the hot, dry summer. You can see by looking at this picture, made in the spring, why it really didn't make me too happy; will the bush recover and have blooms next spring? I sure hope so!

I wonder if the deer will be able to find enough food this winter; the fruit on this persimmon tree might be an indication of what will be available to them. The persimmons are the smallest I ever remember seeing, just about the size of a big marble. I suppose the drought caused this.

So, if the rose bush puts out new leaves before frost, I must try to protect it somehow from our four-footed neighbors.