Farming, quilting, variety

Sunday, February 27, 2011

How One Thing Leads to Another

Doesn't every little child love a new box of Crayons? And the bigger the box the better, right? So, I'm not a little child but I wanted a big box of Crayons, maybe because I only had boxes with eight colors when I was in school. And now that I have 64 colors to choose from don't I always go back to the basic eight? Too many choices! (see post for 2/1/11) What does that have to do with remembering my maternal grandfather? One thing leads to another, and I'm remembering a big coloring book he gave to me one Christmas, filled with puzzles and pictures and how I carefully colored every picture, then kept the book for years afterward. He was the only grandfather I ever had; my paternal grandfather died before I was born.

I can't remember too much about Grandma; we lived a few miles away from them, and with no car of our own in which to go visit, Christmas was about the only time I remember being at their house until she became sick and I went with Mama to stay a week. But I remember Grandpa as being a kind, loving person, a farmer and carpenter.

Mama has told me Grandpa was interested in photography; he took pictures and then developed them in a make-shift dark room he had set up in their storm cellar. When it came time for the film to be exposed to the light, in the process of developing, one of the kids would pull back the curtain he had hung over the doorway. The pictures were printed onto a postcard which could then be sent through the mail.

After I had children of my own, we would visit him and much to their delight, he would run the time up on his cookoo clock and the kids would wait patiently for the minutes to pass, then gasp with surprise whenever the little bird popped out of the clock and chirped away the hours.
Grandpa's birthday was on the 23rd of February; I always think of him fondly.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Money Matters; It Sure Does

Several years ago I started a collection of Frank & Ernest cartoons from the Sunday paper. There are 127 of these in a three ring binder. I arranged them in order according to the different subject matters. Seeing as how we as a country are having such economic hardships now, I thought I'd share some of the cartoons dealing with money matters. It would seem that "what ever goes around, comes around." Wouldn't you agree? (Click on these to enlarge.)

Hope they brought a smile or two to you.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Another Seven Weeks Behind Us

It's been a very busy time here on the farm today; the chickens are going out, another seven weeks behind us. Everyone thinks it makes time fly, and really it does go by in such a hurry, until the sixth and seventh week when the chickens get big and they're hard to walk through. Some days I feel like I could scream if another chicken steps on my feet or thumps into my shins. I think the most difficult job is for the catchers; they work fast in the dust and smell. The catchers are all Mexican men now; however, they are working, when it seems some local men had rather apply for food stamps and pick up free things at the Salvation Army than work. For me? well, I thought by the time we reached seventy we would retire, but I don't see that happening. We just go at it day by day, priding ourselves in the fact that we're helping to feed the world.
It will be around two weeks before we get baby chickens again; hopefully I'll get the white ribbon quilt out of the frames, the red zinger doll quilt in the frames, and the Railroad Crossing top finished. I have fabric ordered for lining the Railroad Crossing. If cotton prices continue to rise the quilt making may have to slow down; however, I have my "Elijah" supply of scraps to work with for a long time.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Childrens Classic in Peril

How long has it been since you've thought about the story of Little Black Sambo? Do your children or grandchildren know the story? Written and illustrated by Helen Bannerman and published in 1899, it was a favorite story for children for half a century until the word "sambo" was deemed a racial slur in some countries. The original illustrations showed a caricatured Southern Indian, or Tamil child. Perhaps the book's success led to many widely available versions that included popular stereotypes of "black" people and gradually caused the book to be dropped from lists of recommended stories for children, even to the point of being banned from schools, or released in other forms.

Now I guess that's where I get upset: is it fair to take a story from someone and rewrite it? Isn't there a word for that? (In college term papers we were told we were "stealing sentences".) Is it merely another way for publishers to make more money? While we're banning stories, why not ban TV shows, such as Family Guy, American Dad, and South Park, probably meant for adults, but presented in a cartoon format so children are naturally attracted to them; and don't think they don't watch! And, while we're at it, let's ban commercials filled with sexual content.

I see nothing racist about the book, but rather a story of a loving family: mother and father giving the very best they could to their son who was so very proud of the gift. A great lesson on why it's wrong to take something from someone can be learned from the bullying tigers and how their greed was their end, and the boy's patience brought him good in the end.

If you're interested in reading more about the controversy surrounding this story, and some readers' comments, Google has a long list. Meanwhile, here's the "rest of the story":

Friday, February 18, 2011

Cheerful Quilt

After the sadness of the past week, I'll post something a little more cheerful. This quilt was made a few years ago like one I had seen on HGTV's Simply Quilts, named Posy Pots. The quilt combines Irish Chain blocks and applique blocks, and is great for beginners or as a quick quilt for quilting veterans. The instructions were provided by guest, Nancy Martin. They might still be available on the archives of Simply Quilts, I'm not sure. Her quilt was made smaller to be used as a picnic quilt; I made mine larger, about twin sized. The applique blocks were made by the freezer paper method; too special to be used for a picnic.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Some Things Hurt for a Long, Long Time

In the post, "A Tribute to Daddy," I wrote about there being twelve children in his family. Grandma was sixteen years old when she married, gave birth to her first child at age seventeen, and the last child at age forty three. By the time the last children were born, the older ones had married and had children of their own. I'm sure the younger ones were cared for by older siblings; Daddy seemed to have a fondness for Bernice and he said Emma was Grandma's favorite.
This picture is of Grandma and five of her youngest children; Daddy ran off so he isn't included. They are, from left, Grandma, Emma, Bernice, Archie, (Daddy, John), Arge, and Dewey.
These are the three youngest: John, Dewey, and Arge. John was almost two years older than Arge. Sometime in the next year or two after this picture was made, Arge became very sick, and was diagnosed as having polio. I don't know all the details about his illness, but it must have been devastating to his parents to realize one of their children would be handicapped for the rest of his life. Maybe out of desperation as to "why?", brought out the terrible anger in Grandpa and caused him to take out his frustration on John, accusing the little boy of doing something to hurt his younger brother. He whipped the little boy without mercy until Archie stepped in and pushed Grandpa against the wall. John ran for the barn, crawled underneath the crib, and lay sobbing, from pain to his body and pain for the distrust he felt for his daddy. He wanted to die.

We didn't know about this part of Daddy's life until a few years ago when he told my sister, but had carried it in his heart. Some things hurt for a long, long time.
Arge and wife
Arge married and had one son; he was also a successful businessman and lived to be fifty two
years old.

The first two pictures are copies so that's the reason for their being unclear.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day

A little valentine from my first year in school made for Mama and Daddy. Mama kept things I made and put them in a scrapbook; you can see how worn the pages have become over the years.
Happy Valentines Day, blogging friends!!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Terrible Emptiness

He came to us a few days after 9-11, 2001, a frightened, little ordinary gray and white kitten, thrown out at our house. I heard his pitiful cries and quickly scooped him up before the dog knew he was here. Since we already had a cat at the house, I wrapped him up in a towel and took him to a barn where I fed him every day until he got big enough to find his way to the chicken houses. He lived in a large drain pipe and when men came to catch the chickens I brought him to the house so he wouldn't get carried off or run over by trucks. The older cat didn't welcome him at all except with one-sided fights; the kitten always had a pleasant personality. The old cat left home, so the kitten became our house cat, a part of our family, another child. Everyone came to know Jasper and how special he was to us. He let us know when he needed to go outside and then when he wanted back inside, he would reach up and jiggle the doorknob. He selected various places in the house for his naps, slept at the foot of the bed some nights, and seemed to know when I was fixing supper; he had a way of parking himself in front of the refrigerator where I needed to walk. He loved to nuzzle up under my hair and I told him many times, "You're the bestest kitty in the world." We were all three going to be 70 years old this year; planned to grow old together.

This week, he had gone outside for his potty break and never came back. I called and called, even got up in the night to see if he had come to the door because it was so very cold. The next morning Noel found him in front of the tool shed; roaming dogs had killed him during his outside time. Now there's that terrible empty spot in our hearts, overlapped with loving memories of him, and at the same time, hate for the dogs. I thought yesterday I heard the noise of his little paws on the floor, the jiggling of the doorknob, and I've looked many times at the chair where he slept; but he's not there after 9 1/2 years and it's a terrible emptiness.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Colors in the Snow

Yesterday we had snow again; I believe it's the third time this winter, which I know doesn't seem like much to some folks, but for us, 8-10 inches is a lot. This morning the temperature had been as low as -1* sometime before we got up. Of course when I got ready to go to the chicken houses the Kubota didn't want to start, so I walked up there, taking it very carefully so as not to fall. Snow does make it difficult to do the farm work and takes away from quilting time.

This quilt was finished last summer when it was hot enough my hands sweated and had to be rinsed off now and then in cool water. Now I took it outside for the picture in the snow; colors to brighten our world. I'm sure my neighbors wondered why I was hanging a quilt out on a day like today. It's a log cabin quilt; isn't it amazing how many ways log cabin blocks can be arranged to make a whole new look? And, they're also very easy to piece, making an excellent choice for a beginner. I pieced mine on paper, just because I can't always make a perfect quarter inch seam allowance otherwise.

I wish I could have taken the picture without messing up the beautiful snow.

This picture may be difficult for you to see what I want to show you. Notice the tall, thin, white thing sticking out of the top of the fence post? That is an upside down icicle. lol Apparently the post was full of water and when the water froze it forced the ice upward. We thought it was pretty unique.

So, I'm off to quilt for about an hour, my designated time to work on what's in the frames. Here's hoping you're safe and warm.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Finished Book and Snow

"Once upon a time...." so the story goes; the book is finished. Overall I was pleased with it but can see where I'd make a few changes should I make another. There are plenty of scraps left to make more. I always compare my scrap stash with the Bible story of Elijah and the widow (1 Kings 17:8-16), for no matter how many I use, there are still more. Now the book will go in the drawer with another stuffed toy I've made, with crossed stitched bibs, and crocheted baby afghans, waiting for the right time to be enjoyed by a little one.

These are three pages
Yesterday it snowed just about all day but it took until almost noon before much of it stuck, then during the night it snowed more. I like to watch the snow falling and if we didn't have to get out in it to do chores I could really enjoy it. This morning everything looked so clean and untouched; I didn't want anyone to drive on it. But of course we had to, and by this afternoon the ruts were all thawed out and muddy. The chicken houses looked quiet from the outside; however, inside the chickens stirred around, warm and unaware anything had happened.

The heifers seemed pretty content this morning; it's funny how they stand so the sun shines on the length of their bodies when the weather is cold. There were birds at the bird houses; apparently they were hoping spring was coming, after the snow and now the sun, or maybe they had spent the night inside?

More snow is predicted for this week so maybe I can finish the red zinger and make more green flying geese. Have a blessed Sunday.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Fabric Picture Books

Today I worked on a project I had done a few years ago: making a fabric picture book. You know quilters have to work piecing into everything. This was something I had seen on HGTV's Simply Quilts show, back when they had craft and gardening shows included with their decorating programs. The guest was Gwen Marston, well known for her "liberated" style of piecing and quilting. I have two of her books and have made quilts by some of the patterns. Since I don't think I would be supposed to give instructions for making these picture books, because of copyright laws, here is the website for her directions on construction: These are the four "pages" I made this afternoon.

The pictures are from a fabric printed for Valentine's Day. I tried to keep the piecing simple since the book will be for a small child and I didn't want the picture to get lost in the surrounding strips. My book will be six inches square, but they can be made larger or smaller; it's a little like making a crazy quilt top. Also, to make the piecing more precise, I sewed the strips to a paper foundation.
Wouldn't these books be a wonderful way for a parent and child to "read" together; the child could "read", or make-up, a story for the parent. And they'll be washable and soft to take to nap time. I'll post the finished book -- someday.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Picture

I'm wondering if anyone remembers this picture. My Aunt Marie had one hanging in her tiny kitchen, over a little cafe style table and benches built around one corner of the room. I think these pictures were given as premiums with Cloverine salve. Maybe you remember the salve? It was very similar to petroleum jelly, clear and very soothing to chapped lips and knuckles. Its container was a small, round tin. Sometimes women or children would sell the salve to others in their community and when they bought a tin they could choose from a variety of pretty pictures as a premium. Do you know anything about the picture, such as who painted it or what it's called? I was always very impressed with the picture when I was a little girl; the idea of a guardian angel watching over me was comforting I suppose, and the possibility of a deep fall into the water frightened me.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

So Many Choices

Have you ever gone into a store to buy something, only to be totally confused by all the choices available to you for that particular thing? It seems nothing is simple anymore when it comes to making decisions. Not only are there many different brands of each item, but each brand has several choices also. Take for instance these two staples found in my cupboard: tea and crackers.

I don't know how many brands of tea one can choose from, this just happens to be what we use, so, that's the first decision. Now, notice there is regular tea and green tea, another choice. The latter has three new choices: orange, passion fruit and jasmine -- lemon gensing -- citrus; we chose citrus. The orange, passion fruit and jasmine tasted like perfume to me and we haven't tried the lemon.
Here again, I don't know how many brands of crackers are on the store shelves, but these are the ones we usually buy; another choice. Now we have to pick, original, multi-grain, or whole wheat. And it's the same with milk; pick a brand first, then decide, do we want whole milk, 2%, 1%, skimmed, or lactose free? Pull into a fast food place and there on the chart is a great selection of sandwiches, burgers, fries, tots, sundaes, cones, slushes.

That's just in the food category; it gets worse in the shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste aisles! Do I buy unscented, scented, roll-on, spray, or maybe powdered spray? Which would be best for my hair? a generic brand or the "real" thing? They're mixed together, you know, same color containers, same wording; maybe the manufacturers think I won't notice and pick up the real thing since it costs more. There's a bottle for dry hair, another for oily hair, one for dandruff and flaking scalp, one with conditioner; maybe one for regular hair? But the toothpaste shelves are the worst! One choice on top of the other! no end to the brands available: gels and pastes, some claiming to whiten the teeth, some to have tarter control, and others to have cavity protection. Others go so far as to add a breath freshener. Just pick up one and go on! I asked the dentist once to recommend a toothpaste and he told me it didn't matter, because toothpaste is to teeth, what soap is to hands. The main thing is to use it daily!

These choices have invaded the clothing world too. Now when I want to buy a pullover shirt I have to pick from crew necks, turtlenecks, V-necks, and hoodies. Jeans are a real problem when it comes to buying; do I get cords or denim, stretch in the fabric, low rise, mid rise, or fits at the waist? And don't forget the leg styles: boot cut or straight.

I've come to this conclusion: it takes all kinds of people to make the world go around, and we in America have come to expect several choices when purchasing an item. However, I can't keep from thinking about the little main street cafe, Frank's Cafe, where we would occasionally stop in to buy a hamburger. You didn't make a decision about what you wanted, but ate with gratefulness, the plain bun and meat patty, topped with two or three dill pickle slices, called a hamburger.

So, the next time you get behind some little old woman, blocking the toothpaste aisle, just be patient; she's having a hard time making a choice.