"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Blessed Solstice!

Today is the shortest day of the year and there was a lunar eclipse in the wee hours of the morning (I slept through it).  That hasn't occurred since the 17th century.
This is always a day I look forward to because these short, dark days begin to lengthen, starting tomorrow.  We still have the winter to survive (and it is winter, as of today) but at least we can feel like we are winning the battle for daylight even if the cold weather may feel like it has the upper hand for the next couple of months.  I am not sure I could take the intense darkness and the coldest cold  at the same time.  Fortunately, Oklahoma isn't as prone to week in, week out bad weather the way some places are.  Come late February, most of us will feel like we won the battle between darkness and light.  I am speaking about climate/weather - not in the spiritual sense. :)

Today was also the day for the closing on the land we'd been thinking of buying.  It is just over 53 acres and the closing went off without a hitch.  The heirs (six siblings!) all came dressed in their Christmas finery and seemed very, very nice.  I thought it was so sweet that they came en mass to sign off on the family homestead and think they must surely have had mixed feelings of letting it go.  I know I would.  After speaking to them, I am not sure how accurate much of my information about the property has been in previous posts but what is clear is that they are a strong family with happy memories growing up there.  I need to head out to the County Seat after Christmas to check out how much of the land has been allotted for farming and how much for grazing.  I was told by a family member that it had never been farmed and that there remain buffalo wallows on the land from early days.  The late patriarch of the family was born in 1900. 

We drove out to the property after the closing and walked around for a few minutes but needed to get back to the house to check on the girls.  Here are a few quick photos:
Dry creek run off:

What the?????  There was a patch of the burrows that a SUV could fall into and not be seen again.  The openings were 10 inches in diameter and dropped 4 - 5 feet straight down.  If you dropped a tea cup Yorkie in there, you'd never see it again. 

The following was a hollow log in a dry creek bed that was covered up with bits of bark and wood chips by some critter.  I started to look in the log but husband steered me away from it.  I have no idea what would have built it but something did.  When I go back out there, I will try to get a closer look when I am not hampered by adult supervision.  Hope I don't get my nose nipped off. 
I may take my birdcam out there ahead of time and set it up in the woods to see what sort of varmints are partying on the property.
And speaking of parties, last night, we attended a neighborhood Christmas party and had such a nice time. 
This is an area that has many people born and raised, locally, so "small world" is a common refrain.  We've physically lived here a year and I am ashamed to say I had only met a couple of my neighbors.  Disgraceful.  Turns out, the neighbors hosting the party have a daughter who was in band with one of my girls (they both played clarinet which shrunk the world, further).  Our girls had already "friended" each other on Facebook.  Who knew?   I actually recalled her name once I had it in context.  

Likewise, my husband's late mother was fondly remembered by several people we just met who went to school with husband or his siblings.  His mother worked for the local school for many years.   There was even one of her former employers at the party who lives down the street and we didn't know it.  The way this went was that I would mention that my husband grew up in the area.  They'd then make the connection of our last name with his mother and enthusiastically make kind comments about her.  Few realised she passed away so long ago.   It made me smile to see Husband beam upon realizing that his dear mother hadn't been forgotten and that she had positively touched so many people in her too short life.  

I never met my husband's mother, who passed away more than 25 years ago.  That being said, I have consistently heard her described as a sweet person by just about everyone who ever knew her.  Many of those people are middle aged people (to be kind :)) who remembered her from the time they were in school.  Their tone of voice tells me they mean really sweet, not just "nice."  I am sorry I didn't have the pleasure of knowing her although I might have been utterly intimidated.  My husband still suffers grief after all these years and the loss is probably all the more acute because she was such a good mother.  Not only was she "sweet," she was strong, loving, funny and sensible.  One of the loveliest things about my husband that I found so endearing when we first met was his down to earth, genuine and matter of fact love and respect for his parents.  No drama there and I appreciate that. 

Family drama is highly overrated.

Been working on cleaning up my sewing room.  With my art classes, it sort of turned into a craft room and got completely out of control to the point where no sane person could retain that sanity if they were in there for any length of time.  Here are some photos of my shame:
 There is no excuse for that or this closet:
 I still have a ways to go but the closet is looking better:
I can't believe I actually posted that hoarder's paradise.

Off to throw some more wood on the fire. 

Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Farmer's Fenceposts

A few days ago, I posted that the girls have been going through some sort of readjustment on who is going to be top dog.  The biggest problem reared its head whenever Evelyn would go near our bed because Pearl thinks she owns it.  I'm happy to report that the girls have made a great deal of progress in working that out.  I credit Evelyn, mainly.  She's been coming up on the bed, regularly, but when she does, she immediately goes to Pearl and gives her big kisses as if acknowledging that she knows she is trespassing.  For her part, Pearl has calmed down and seems to have given Evelyn "permission" to come up on the bed.  They even have taken to cuddling and grooming each other while up there.  So all's fine in Georgeville on that front. 

In the past few weeks, I've had several attorneys/judges ask me to go back to doing guardian ad litem work.  Reportedly, if lawyers want a guardian ad litem who only does that kind of work, there is about a three week lag time before they can even get an appointment - work is that brisk.  I'm holding off, for now, because my grandson is due in February and I don't want to have to worry about court while I visit in NYC.  After he arrives and gets settled, I'll seriously consider if I want to come off my Sabbatical.  The year has been marvelous for my state of mind and I need to decide if I am ready to start back up in that direction.  The problem with trying to do good work as a guardian ad litem is that the "good" ones are worked to death.  And I wouldn't want to be anything but a "good" guardian ad litem - the stakes are too high.

This morning, I ran over to the land we are planning to buy to take a few photos.  I didn't go onto the property and just took a few shots from the road.  Buyer's Remorse hasn't set in, yet.  We're still waiting for the survey, however, and need to review it before closing, next week. 
 The old grasses are so dry.  It has been a dry year.
I so love that big Oklahoma sky.  A big difference between Oklahoma and Virginia is that in Oklahoma, if it isn't raining, chances are, it isn't particularly overcast, either.   That deep blue sky is just magic, to me.  Until I came back home, I didn't realize just how much the overcast days common to Virginia were bringing me down.  I wouldn't do well in Seattle, I 'spect.
The woods are in the back fourth of the property and I really look forward to traipsing back there to get some wildlife photos.  Today, I contented myself with fencepost shots along the north road:
A number of the fenceposts along the roadside where they used to farm are made of wood that looks to have come from the property:
The fences that divide the farming area from the grazing area are more robust.  Probably because cows are more rambunctious than wheat (or whatever this is).
I didn't pick the best time of day to take photos - it was midmorning and I was facing the direction of the sun most of the time. 
The following is part of the fenceline on the north edge of the property.  That speck down the way is my car on the gravel road. When I took this photo, I was standing about one third of the way from the western edge, looking back.  The pasture continues to the east about twice as far as is shown. 
The plants are so dry.  It wouldn't hurt my feelings if the grass burned off but the wind could really cause a problem if that happened so I hope it doesn't.  There is a fire station on the edge of the property on land donated by the owners so hopefully, we won't have to worry so much about wild fires. 
 I just like this shot for some reason:

This old building is on property adjacent to the land we plan to buy and used to be part of it - the original farm house, apparently.
Here are the neighbors to the east.  That is a HUGE house in the background (see the red roofed turret?).  That is a single family home. 
I got a bit more work done on Lady Melinda, this week:

Still a long ways to go...
I had my last drawing class, yesterday, and the last painting class is in the morning.  After I catch up on all my quilting projects and the weather warms up, I hope to paint a picture of the barn.  But I have a lot to keep me busy between then and now. 

Off to wrap presents.

Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Second Birthday, Pearl!!

Pearl is two years old, today!

It is hard to believe it has been a whole year since her first birthday.  So much has changed, since then.  We left out of Virginia the very next day, earlier than planned, trying to outrun a snowstorm that was taking aim at the east coast. We still managed to hit a few flurries and ice before we stopped for the night but, overall, the trip west was easy.  But on her birthday, we were primarily engaged in packing up, loading the car, saying our goodbyes and making sure we didn't forget anything.

Girls in the empty house right before we left:
It is one thing to head out knowing you'll be back.  It is another to shut that door and know that is the last time you'll ever walk in that place - or even see it.  We were happy there and it was a loving home so a big part of me regretted having to say goodbye.  Of course, the larger part of me was on fire with delight at coming back home.  And I haven't had a single instant of regret.  If anything, the joy has deepened over time as the realization that I am safely back home, for good, has solidified.
Today, however, we are having fun with Pearl and enjoying "her" day.  She woke us up to screaming out the north window because the bunnies were vexing her (floppy eared sons of b*tches!).   After she managed to run them off, she jumped back into bed with us to snuggle and smooch.  She and Evelyn have been playing and wrassling in great spirits.  I suspect the cold front that is barreling this way from the north has them feeling frisky even though it hasn't arrived, yet.  Pearl will get a new toy, later, and tonight, they'll get Frosty Paws.
I may work on Lady Melinda in a bit - time to start coloring in her face:
Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quilted Lady Melinda

I finally managed to find a day to devote out in the barn quilting Lady Melinda.   It took much of the day but went quickly because my longarm was being cooperative.  Here she is on the longarm before I started quilting:
I used a clamshell freehand design for the background in the sky:
I've been excited about the boat and am pleased with how it turned out after quilting in the "boards."
I deliberately left the edges of the cloak raw.

Lady Melinda is pregnant but I am not happy with the quilting lines.  I'll yank out a few in the belly and in the torso to try to make it look more realistic.
I plan to go back and use colored pencils to add shading to the quilting lines.

I am not particularly happy with the face but I hope I will be able to color in a face, neck, hair and arm that looks okay.  I'll be appliqueing the pennant in after I finish coloring.
Here are some photos of the back. 
 Some other photos:
I've been worried that I would put all this work into Lady Melinda and then ruin it all when I did the face.  That could still happen but, so far, I'm still happy with it.  The face looks a little wonky at this point but it always does at this stage. 

Wish me luck.  Still a long way to go.  I'll be glad to get it done so I can go back to doing a baby quilt for my grandson. 

Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl