Welcome to my World

Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Memoir Monday--Spring in the High Desert

I'm not sure when I really began to notice the seasons and the attendant weather and other changes, but probably in the mid 1950s when we got into the livestock business. When you are caring for animals, these things really matter. I watched for the first green plants to appear as did the horses and mules. They were tired of dry hay and ready for some fresh "salad". Two of the plants that appeared early were Filaree and Globe Mallow. Both were okay for grazing and would not harm the critters who ate them. I still look for them out of habit and saw a few coming out here before my recent trip to Alaska.

One constant for all the years still remains. The various types of mesquite are very prevalent in the
New mesquites while I train Buzzie
whole southwestern region  from Texas into parts of California. The Verde Valley was about the same elevation as the Las Cruces area here in NM  but being a few degrees farther north had a climate much like Alamogordo which is about 2,000 feet higher. I am sure the winters were colder, longer and wetter back through at least the middle seventies although change had begun by then. Still I always knew that when the first green leaflets appeared on the mesquites,another frost was very unlikely. In fact I cannot ever recall mesquites being burned black by a late frost. If there was one, it would be light enough to do little harm.

That sweet ,fragile shade of green just says 'spring' to me like nothing else. Although fall is my
Budding mesquite, Alamogordo, 2013
favorite season, spring is a close second. Both are often fleeting here in the southwest with abrupt shifts from not-summer to really-summer instead of the four seasons seen elsewhere. There is the wind,too, the only down side in this change of patterns, but the rest, when you can grab a few days, is just wonderful. And it is here. I came home from Alaska on the 15th going from a temperature of about +10 with wind chill down to zero or below the evening of the 14th and got off the final plane in El Paso to the mid 80s! And the last few days have seen it nudging 90 in the middle of the afternoon.

Fillaree Plant
My lilacs are bursting into bloom, the roses are budding and the apricot tree bloomed while I was gone but what really surprised me was the mesquites starting to leaf out. I just saw this yesterday. Back in the Verde Valley in Arizona that usually happened just a few weeks ahead of the end of school in late May. In Cochise County, down in southeastern Arizona, I remember seeing the early hints about the first of May. I am sure of the date because our VFW Post celebrated "Loyalty Day" the weekend closest to May 1. This was originally established to counter the Workers' May  Day festivities in the Soviet countries. Before I left that area in 2008, I do not remember greening mesquites before at least a week or two into April. The hummingbirds usually arrived just a bit sooner. The cottonwoods, such as grew up on Fort Huachuca, would be coming out much earlier and they did get nipped now and then. I will have to check those down in Alameda Park by the main drag and railroad tracks there o see if they have come out. At any rate, once again spring comes to the high desert and I welcome it, still in awe of Nature's miracle of rebirth and renewal, the ageless and faithful promise ever sacred and precious.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Memoir Monday: My Mom

My Mom

This is a day early because today would have been my mother’s ninety-seventh birthday. Margaret Louise Witt was born on February 19, 1920, the eldest child of Robert Witt and Lula Belle Wilcox Witt in the small town of Irvine, Kentucky, pronounced “Irvin” by the locals. Although her hair was curlier, her early pictures look a lot like some of mine, a big-eyed rather serious looking child. When grown, she was about 5’5” with a slender but feminine figure. She had luminous pale blue-gray eyes, very much like her father’s, and dark auburn hair.  Although perhaps not a great beauty, she had very sweet and pretty face and could certainly be called attractive. When she was happy her face glowed with a lovely joy from the inside.

She was always bright and did so well in school that her teachers skipped her ahead twice, passing her over second and eighth grades. This put her in an awkward situation socially and since she was naturally a very shy and somewhat self-effacing person, I get an impression from her sporadic diary that she was often a bit lonely and not happy. She was also a talented musician and learned to play the piano early and quite well.  She graduated from Irvine High School in May, 1936 and from college (Eastern Kentucky in Richmond was her alma mater) in 1940. She always made honor roll level grades and in college had a dual major in math and music. She played some recitals during college but basically quit her music as an adult. After college she became a medical technologist, studying and working at a Catholic hospital in Lexington and sharing an apartment with some other young women,

In Lexington spring 1942
It was there that she met my father in the spring of 1942.  Although he was born and raised in Missouri, by then WW II was going on and he was involved in some ‘hush-hush’ electronic communications projects since he had been an amateur radio operator as a youth and young man. They had a brief courtship as many did during those uncertain times and married on July 6, 1942. All the photos in those early years show her glowing with happiness. I am sure she was very much in love and apparently delighted to become pregnant right away and provide the first grandchild to both sides of the family. Although Dad had two older sisters, both were involved in teaching careers and never married or bore children although his younger sister did a couple of years later.  Of course that first child was me.
In KC, MO winter 42

I am pretty sure Mom had no idea how her life was going to turn out and her vow for “richer or poorer” etc. led her through some very difficult and I think often painful times as the years went by but she stuck it out and remained married to Dad until his sudden death in an accident in March 1989. She bore him two more children, Charles Michael in November 1951 and Robert Alexander in May 1959.

I suppose it is mainly due to her self-effacing nature and to Dad’s personality but she gave up almost all of her interests and pursuits once she married. She had written poetry, played the piano and enjoyed embroidery and reading but much of that was abandoned as the years went by. After Dad’s death, she did read a lot and continued to walk daily and collect “pretty rocks”, a trait which I took on early also.  She spent a lot of time in Kentucky with her father after her mother’s and only brother’s deaths. He outlived her by almost two years.

Then in 1993 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and fought it valiantly for three and a half years, finally succumbing in November 1996.  Although she died in her family home in Kentucky, after a normal funeral with viewing etc. she was cremated and I brought her ashes back to Arizona where my brothers and I had them interred the following spring beside my dad. They both rest in the small cemetery in Duncan, Arizona where they lived their last years together from 1977 until Dad’s death.

 A rare shot-Mom with a mule
out in the mountains
I regret that as a teenager and even later, I did not relate to her or even show her the respect that I should have. After Dad’s death, we did grow closer and I am most thankful for that. My main regret is that her health did not allow her the peaceful years she deserved when we might have grown even closer as we shared widowhood and aging. There are often things I would like to ask of her or share with her yet today, over twenty years later.

Yes, my birth certificate proves that I share her first name; I have never used it as it does not seem to fit me as it did her. But I am not ashamed or unhappy to share it in honor of her memory. She was a kind and caring person, the best mother she could be, and strong in a quiet way that was sometimes hard to recognize or understand. She was a product of her times and did her best to raise me to be independent and yet remain a lady, as she was to her last breath.  Go in peace and harmony, Margaret Witt Morgan, with my heart’s love until we again together.

Mom and me, 3 wks old
Clarkdale, AZ 1959

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Memoir Monday-Stitching In Time

My first exposure to sewing came when I was in fourth grade and got into 4-H for a year. As far as I recall there was no sewing machine in our home so anything I did—a pincushion and maybe a dresser scarf—was done by hand. I was not real thrilled and my stitches were very awkward and uneven. Skip ahead four years.  Now I was in eighth grade and had a mandatory home economics class. There I had to learn to use a sewing machine. My teacher was—at least to me at that time—an old harridan and martinet who demanded we cut all those notches in the pattern we chose to make, baste everything and all the other traditional non-labor and non-step saving “rules”. Despite that, I quickly developed a fascination. My project was a simple gored skirt and the fabric I chose was white with red roses and printed stitch lines to look quilted. There is a scrap or two in my first quilt I mentioned awhile back. Other than getting the side zipper in, I did not have a lot of trouble.

Peasant blouse and broomstick skirt 
By now there was a sewing machine at home, an electric portable, probably from Sears or Montgomery Wards. I think Dad had gotten it for Mom, definitely not at her request, but because since his mother was an excellent seamstress and all three of his sisters sewed at least some, he figured every wife and mother needed one. My maternal grandmother was also an avid sewist but the gene seemed to have skipped Mom entirely.  She had no interest and little skill in it.  She did a few patching jobs and occasionally darned socks or reattached a button. That time was still close enough after the Great Depression and World War II so almost everyone at least tried to be thrifty, still not used to have mostly enough money and reasonable supplies of most commodities.  She also embroidered a little and taught me a few stitches but I did not get into that for many years.

However, once eighth grade and the somewhat onerous class were behind me, I got the sewing machine out and proceeded to become a maker of garments and household items! Although my grandma and her sister, the same ones who created the wonderful quilts, kept me in nice outfits for school, as I slipped into the teens, I developed a real interest in clothes! I was never quite a fashionista but I had my favorite styles and colors. I liked full skirts, ruffles, peasant style blouses. Purple, turquoise and red were my favored colors. I know I soon made some more skirts and then tackled a dress or two, gradually getting into more complex and challenging patterns. I ended up with some ugly and ill-done things but some were wearable and my skill improved quickly. I guess it was motivation and heredity. 

About this same time, I got deep into any and all things western and decided the epitome of cool clothing was a western style blouse or shirt with my jeans. They were not cheap, even by that day’s standards, and the regular patterns for them were mostly for men. Not to be foiled, I got a men’s pattern in the approximate size and modified it to fit my very slim but feminine frame. It wasn’t long before I was making a lot of them—all styles of sleeves and collars, different yokes, and my own designs taken from that basic pattern.  I had a whole wardrobe of shirts before long and wore them all with pride. Two of my creations appear at left

By the time I went to college, starting four years late after our horse and mule business finally crashed, Grandma was losing some of her sight and getting severe arthritis so I was pretty much on my own keeping a wardrobe available. I was aided and abetted by three aunts, Dad’s sisters, who were all getting heavier as they aged and outgrowing clothes which they often passed on to me. I restyled things, took them apart and used the larger pieces to devise new garments and also did some thrift store shopping for clothing I used the same way. The only thing I did not make was slacks or jeans. Pantsuits were starting to become acceptable about that time  so I got some ‘riders’, the fitted and flare-bottomed western pants for women, in my favored colors and had a variety of styles and kinds of tops to wear with them. I continued with this after I started to work for the U.S. Army after I graduated.

Then I became an over-night mom when I married and went on sewing, making school dresses and outfits for my daughter and some western shirts for my husband and son. I still made some clothes for myself as well and finally got a pants pattern that fitted—a very simple one with an elastic waist and casual fit. Then sadly the sedentary life—office work and long commutes—took their toll and I followed in my aunts’ footsteps, outgrowing clothes. That was disheartening and I tolerated it far too long. I ended up buying more matronly styles in the sizes I then had to wear. Lots of pull-on pants and skirts, loose tops and shapeless dresses—ugh!! I did not like myself too well then. Not until after my husband had passed away did I finally drop almost 25% of that weight but by then I was back to my tomboy ways and no longer a clothes horse.

I still made curtains for my houses and ended up making my daughter’s wedding dress and then a grand daughter’s graduation dress for the eighth grade—one more mature and fancy than my own high school graduation dress that Grandma had made! Times were changing. By the time those girls graduated from high school they dressed either in slacks or sexy gowns that looked to me appropriate for a showgirl or hooker! Ah well.

I still have a closet full of nice clothes—some long gowns I wore at some of the writer’s conferences I used to attend, broomstick skirts, western blouses and vests and so on but my uniform for 99% of the time is jeans or jean shorts with a t-shirt or pop-over sun top and flannel lumberjack shirts when it is cooler. Most of my sewing today is patchwork projects, a few home or decorative items and an occasional repair job. The old fascination is just not there. I have made a few things and then decided the styles I used to love re really not appropriate anymore; I have just outgrown ruffles and flounces and full, full skirts…. Shoot!  However if my eyes and hands allow it, I will keep sewing as well as making jewelry and other craft stuff until I am really old and not just edging toward it.

These are the 'fancy' efforts I mentioned in the next to last paragraph. Sadly I think my daughter's gown turned out better than her marriage. That sad tale is partly covered in this post:
https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=8176952721081512220#editor/target=post; postID=3925097277387754565;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=105;src=postname  or skip back to Sept 23, 2015.

Detail of sleeve, headgear

Down the aisle with Dad

8th grade grad-Denise Petty

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Another Diatribe--"White Privilege"

Do not lecture me about “White Privilege”.  First, I did not ask or choose to be born to Caucasian parents. It was the luck of the draw and has not gotten me much if anything in the ‘privilege’ department anyway, right from day one. As long as I can remember, and that is from about age four to this day, three months short of my seventy-fourth birthday, I have lived mainly in ethnically mixed neighborhoods and followed a lifestyle very much the same as did my neighbors, be they Black, Latino, Asian, American Indian or ‘white’.  (By the way we are all immigrants, even the American Indians who came from Asia eons ago, so lay off that bit too.) We shopped at the same stores and I often drove cars older than theirs. They usually had a larger TV and bought more ‘stuff’ for their kids than I did. While I was employed by the US government, I worked alongside people of all races and ethnicity and never got a promotion or an honor/award ahead of any of them. Upon retirement, they got the same pensions for their grades as I did.

Yes, I got a college education. That happened simply because I was a decent student and made better grades than most of my contemporaries so that I was valedictorian of my high school class and when I finally started college, four years later, I got a scholarship and a Pell Grant which paid for most of my schooling. I also worked twenty hours a week the last year while doing my graduate work. I completed work for both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in four years and several summer sessions and went to work the Monday after completing requirements for the latter on the previous Friday.  I had no time or money for a trip to the continent or even a short vacash to Ft Lauderdale or a Colorado resort in the summer. If I had any advantage there, it may have been that my parents were also college educated—although much of their lifestyle and behavior did not indicate that—and that they read to me when I was small and encouraged—with however much force they felt necessary—that I excel in my school work.  There is nothing to say a parent of any minority child could not do the same and many do,

The fallacy of the whole “White Privilege” meme is that people of western European ancestry are deemed somehow unfairly gifted so they are all automatically upper middle class or higher and can always go to college, usually get a ‘position’ (as opposed to a mere job!) in a family owned firm and live the life of Riley. In the 1950s they had the darling little house with the white picket fence, the 2.5 blonde and adorable children, the spotty dog in the front yard and all the latest and nicest gadgets and labor saving devices in their home. They got a new car every year and ---well, I almost gag over this blatantly false depiction.  I was old enough in the 1950s to look around and know just how false this was! At least 75% of the Caucasian Americans were several notches down the scale from that.

From Colonial times on there have always been those who have come to be called “white trash.” (1)  They make up a majority of the Caucasian people resident in the US and have always been a very slight notch, if any, above the people of various other races and ethnicity, most of whom they worked alongside and suffered the same hardships and ill-treatment. Even then there were only a few who either came to the New World with money and aristocratic backgrounds or had the kind of clever and manipulative power to come out on top of every deal until they had bought and fought their way to that upper tier. The rest had little or no property, earned their meager living by working for the wealthy folk and struggled for every morsel and bit of gain. The so called American Dream has always been a lie—yes, it was possible to rise above your station of birth and some did but it was not probable—not then, now or ever.

This very situation is why we are where we are today. This group ,which Spiro Agnew labeled “the Silent Majority” have been at best ignored, and at worst, insulted, maligned and taken advantage of by the “Establishment” who look coldly and condescendingly down their noses at this “basket of deplorables.” They’re the unwashed, inbred, drunk or drugged up redneck, hillbilly, white trash, who have never been considered a minority, deserving of all care and goodness since they were so badly damaged and deprived by the “Privileged” Whites. It does not matter whether those in power are leftist or right wing, Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Conservative, They are really just so far apart they bump asses on the backside of the political spectrum circle!! A huge group of their fellow humans who are accidentally also of western European stock do not count.

Anyway, in the campaign of 2016, this mass finally got damn good and mad, sick and tired of everybody cutting in ahead of them on the line to anything. (2) One candidate took notice of them and told them—true or false—exactly what they wanted to hear.  The major part of this group are the people who have gotten their hands dirty, dug in the mines, kept the trains running, worked the assembly lines, toiled on small or larger farms to feed the nation and much of the world, and struggled along without ever saying very much. They just did all the bloody work!! Traditionally they voted Democrat as their parents and grandparents had because allegedly the Democrats were “the party of the people.” That hasn’t worked so well the last few decades because this mass is no darling for the peace, love and everything-free-for-everyone group. Maybe people of color, exotic refugees from foreign places and the ever-growing welfare class have more pizzazz, sex appeal or just make better poster kids.  

And damn it, I totally understand where this disaffected mass were coming from. Yes, they’ve been sold a bill of goods and it is not going to have the happy ending they hoped for so they will still be mad in four, forty or probably even more years. They will keep trying to find a fixer for their plight.

WTF is “white privilege” anyway? Is it just being too flappin’ dumb to somehow get in there and get yours? Is it some kind of conspiracy or black helicopter plot to keep the white trash in their place? None of them know the whys but they have revolted this one time and if even a little bit of it works, they will be back.  Count on it. Meanwhile you can take this guilt trip you are trying to put on me and many others and shove it right up your collective ass. A hell of a lot of us are NOT going to buy it. If this life is privilege, you can have it. Maybe next incarnation we will all return in some other racial or ethnic form and see how that works. This current one sure sucks.

1. White Trash by Nancy Isenberg ISBN 9780670785971, Viking Books
2. Strangers in Their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild ISBN 9781620972250 The New Press

Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday Memoir: Photography

I grew up with a house full of cameras. My dad had been a photojournalist for a time in Kansas City before meeting my mother. After they married and we ended up in Arizona, he continued to write and to illustrate many of his articles and features. So taking pictures, even using a darkroom to develop the film and make prints was rather commonplace to me. Although I ended up in a lot of photos, in time I knew I wanted a camera of my own to take pictures of what I wanted  to remember or feature. That took quite awhile.

Mom with a Lieca
I finally got my own camera, I think it was the Christmas I was a senior in high school. In a house full of the likes of a Leica, a Rolleiflex, a Speed Graphic and  others of similar quality and capacity, my first camera was a lowly Kodak "Brownie" snapshot camera but I was thrilled silly! It took eight shots on a roll of film--I cannot even recall the size now (126?) but it was a bit over an inch wide and the negatives were roughly 1" x 2".  I could not say what was on the very first roll of pictures I took but a shot of me the last day at school and one I took of the friend who snapped me were among the early ones. After that it was mostly horses.

Dad with Speed Graphic
A bit later, about the time I started college, I got a slightly more sophisticated model, one that used "flash cubes" and could take pictures inside or in dimmer light. With it I got photos of roommates and friends, the dorms I lived in and then the apartment where I lived off campus the last two years. I still had that camera when I graduated and headed off to my first job -- with the US Army at Fort Huachuca. I then took pictures of various places I went, of my new car, the 1971 Ford Pinto I got that fall, and when I moved to Bisbee to live in a cheaper residence!

Last day of school
Probably the first Christmas after my marriage, one of my gifts was an Olympus SLR (single lens reflex) camera. It was small and light but a good step up from the snapshot type  cameras I had used up to that point. My husband had an older camera he had gotten at a PX while in the military and we took a lot of scenic pictures on the many weekend trips we took the first two or three years.  Those two cameras went from Bisbee, AZ to Falcon, CO with us and then on to Olivehurst, CA. We had returned to Arizona some years later when we both got Pentax type cameras which could use a variety of lenses and were near professional quality. I have many boxes of slides we took with all of these cameras and will try to scan my favorites "one of these days."
Coming from a family of avid photographers and becoming the "archivist" by virtue of being now the matriarch of the clan, more or less, I still have boxes and albums full of photos to be scanned if I live that long!

After my dad had passed away and then my youngest brother, the only one of us three kids who seriously pursued photography along with his other  endeavors, I fell heir to the stash of family cameras. Most of them I have gotten rid of  although I still have my little Olympus and one of the Nikons that Dad had ended up with  But some few years back I discovered digital and jumped right in. It is soooo convenient to look over your results, simply hit 'delete' to get rid of those that did not come out just right and to snap away with abandon because you are not wasting expensive film. What freedom!

These days I take a lot of photos of trains, sunsets, scenery, my dogs, and on some of my trips.  No scanning required; I just link the camera by a USB cable to the computer and with a couple of clicks, voila, there they are. And no, I have not gotten into taking them with my phone or tablet--maybe someday but most of mine I want to edit/crop/study before they go out to the world!  Two fairly recent efforts below. I expect to be taking photos as long as I live. It is kind of in the genes, I guess. and certainly in the nurture I grew up with.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Monday Memoir--Quilts

I missed last week being totally caught up in the season's first major sled dog race, the Copper Basin 300 in which several of my favorite mushers were competing. However, although the race season will continue through mid-March when the Iditarod will be over, I'll try to keep going here *almost* every week! This time I want to talk about quilts, another hobby and passion of mine.

            I grew up with quilts. My maternal grandmother was an old time quilter. Like generations before her in the Kentucky hill country, she grew up with a waste not, want not philosophy. Her era was long before our disposable economy came to be when the women of the family, and that included girls barely past toddler age, made sure nothing was wasted. They grew much of the family food in a garden and sewed clothing for the whole family, rough Lindsey Woolsey and canvas pants and work clothes for the men folk, shirts and simple garments for the little ones and more elaborate dresses for the older girls and women.
Each length of fabric was precious, so after a garment was cut out, the scraps were shaped and stitched into quilts. To use all the bits and pieces, many of the designs were elaborate and utilized very small pieces. The end results were things of beauty even if hand made and often of patterns the main seamstress invented. During the Depression years, this habit continued. By then chicken feed, flour and other commodities came in cotton bags many of which were printed with floral and other patterns so they could be recycled into dish towels, aprons and other clothing. Still, the smallest scraps were put to use!
I was a mere toddler when I can first recall sleeping under the small quilt Grandma Witt made for me. I was not yet able to appreciate the fine little stitches to piece the top and the elaborate patterns also stitched to secure the layers of top, filling or batting and the back. That was the actual quilting and was often done by a group of women who came together for “quilting bees” to gossip and visit, drink coffee, tea or other things and sew on the quilt, stretched in a frame, probably set up in the largest room of the house. I could not tell you the pattern of that quilt face but even then might recognize a piece here and there as in a dress or apron my mom had and soon dresses made for me. Many more of her quilts came to our family and were both used and cherished. I still have a couple, fragile now and put safely away.
By the time I was in my late teens, Grandma was starting to lose her keen eyesight and arthritis was taking its toll on her hands. However, she and her younger sister still sewed and I was kept in clothes through high school by their work although by then I began to take up sewing myself. I kept myself in clothes most of my college and working days and also made many things for my daughter and western shirts for the family menfolk.
The first time I fell in love, I decided I should begin to accumulate a “hope chest” of things for my future home. I shocked my paternal aunts when I told them not to start me on a collection of silver tableware for it was too hard to take care of so I preferred stainless steel! About that time, since I had sewed enough to have a big stash of pieces and scraps, I decided to start a quilt. My nine-square patches were not perfect and not exactly sized so when I tried to put them together, they were not coming out well and I gave up, putting the parts away for many years. They accompanied me through many moves and travels.
First quilt-top half front
Actually it was not until after my husband had passed away in 2003 that I dug out the old  efforts with the idea of trying
to make the quilt for real. I found I did not have enough for a full bed sized quilt. First I took apart, adjusted and reassembled the many squares so they would be fairly uniform and then made lots more. I cut narrow strips and smaller squares to put the nine-patch squares together. It took some time and I would pause now and then to remember the history of this or that piece of cotton—a dress I had made while in college, something I had made for my daughter. The work went
First quilt- lower half front
slowly and I spent quite a lot of that summer, 2004, on the project, watched by the two dogs I had then.
Finally the top was done. I bought the batting and then decided to make the back somewhat decorative also although not with small pieces. Still it was not too plain or dull! It all went together and I started to use it on my bed. I had received some quilts from a dear friend including one she made in memory of my husband—he’d befriended her too—in the style of the memorial robes the Plains Indians had crafted. From those I got some ideas to delve into new methods and designs for my work.
Technically my projects have never been “quilts” for instead of the patterns of binding stitches, I just tie through them in many places with compatible or complimentary colors of yarn. I’ve never had a frame or a circle of friends to quilt with me! So they are patchwork comforters, I guess.
The second quilt or coverlet I attempted was almost too big a project. My brother, then living in Colorado while I was yet in Arizona, was a life long railroad fan as well as being employed with that industry all his adult life. I was going to make him a train-themed quilt for his California King sized bed. Do you know how humongous they are!?
part of the train quilt
I discovered a wonderful on-line fabric store called eQuilter.com and was delighted to find they had lots of cotton fabric with train themed prints. The pieces I put together ranged from about 18 x 24 inches down to roughly inch wide strips in track patterns. This one is fully reversible and decorative on both sides. It was supposed to be a Christmas gift but took me longer than I had planned! Still I was not displeased with the results and Charlie liked it. He still uses it at times and it is not in bad shape.
Since then I have made a few more bed-sized quilts and Alaska and the other is in pink patterns to honor the fact she is a breast cancer survivor. Each one of my quilts is always created so either side can be displayed.
sled dog face
many crib or lap robe sized ones as well as some pictorial wall hangings and other decorative or useful pieced items such as place mats and coasters. In fact I do a lot more fabric art and household or decorative items now than clothes. Many friends and family members have one or more of my smaller items. Most of them are themed as in the two sided lap robe quilt I made for lady musher Deedee Jonrowe after she lost her home and possessions to an Alaskan  wildfire in 2014. One side of it is about sled dogs and Alaska and the other is in pink patterns to honor the fact she is a breast cancer survivor. Each one of my quilts is always created so either side can be displayed.

Breast cancer pink side
Right now I have my original quilt on my bed but sadly it is mostly hidden from view with a protective dust cover since I now have two dogs who insist on sleeping on ‘my’ bed—or maybe letting me sleep on their bed if the truth be known. Since they are both inside and outdoor dogs, they do bring in dust, dry grass and other debris which would not be good for my special first quilt. I think their company and love is worth more than seeing those bits of fabric all the time…but I still treasure it and try to keep it from to much wear and tear. I have not made one for a time and the itch is starting, especially when I get the emails from eQuilter and look at the fabulous fabrics and patterns they have! Some are too complex for my skill but they give me ideas. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Memoir Monday: Recollections of Hunting

First let me explain a few things so my readers do not condemn me out of hand! Back in the era I am writing about (1950-65 mainly) hunting in the southwest and many parts of the country was totally acceptable by most of the society. My family did not ever "trophy hunt" because our purpose for hunting big game was for food. When "any deer/elk/pronghorn" permits became common, we never killed females although that was allowed. Like with domestic livestock, one male can breed several females so taking one or two males from a herd will not jeopardize its continuity. And finally,on our ranch we raised horses, mules and burros--and they are not meat animals! We might have done well to raise some chickens, rabbits, a pig or fatten a calf but did not for a variety of reasons. Thus meat in the freezer was a high priority for our family's welfare.

Okay that sets the stage. I first hunted in 1955 after turning twelve the spring of that year. I shot a
small buck and helpd my dd field dress it, load it onto one of our mules and bring it home. It was fairly young and the meat was very good. Over the next several years I shot a deer most seasons. Dad went elk hunting more and also sometimes pronghorns (called "antelope" incorrectly) but I seldom did.

A couple of times we brought down a good sized mule deer (this is a southwestern species of deer with long 'mulish' ears that is also called Blacktails.) They are frequently found not in timber country but the chaparral vegetation zone of brush and very small trees like juniper and pinon pine. At least twice we could not pick it up and get the whole carcass onto a horse or mule so cut it in half and put half on each of two of our mounts. That usually meant a long walk
down the hills to where we had left the horse trailer and Jeep truck or even clear home if we had ridden out from there.

There were some scary times. Once, Dad's shot broke a deer's hind leg. Sometimes you get a bullet deflected by a limb or bush or maybe just make a bad shot. Anyway, we trailed this deer for quite a ways as we were very adamant about not leaving an animal to suffer and die. Finally we saw it down in a canyon and headed down to finish it off.  While Dad kept his rifle on the deer--which appeared to be dead or exhausted, I hiked over on foot with just my handgun. I came up under the deer at the start of the upslope. All at once it got up and charged at me! By now I was too close to being between Dad and the deer and he did not dare to shoot. I pulled out my handgun--I think it was an old .32 revolver at that time--and emptied it at the deer, aiming for the head! A final shot did penetrate right between the eyes and it fell with an antler barely touching the toe of my boot!That was about the scariest thing that ever happened to me while hunting.

I have a lot of good memories of those adventures. As the oldest kid in the family I went with my dad for several years before my first brother was old enough and even before the second one was born! Do I miss it? Yes and no, mostly no. Now I would never go out with the specific goal of shooting and killing an animal unless there was a real need to do so for food. That's not likely. So I 'hunt" with a camera or just my two eyes to enjoy seeing wildlife.

Like the Native Americans who thanked the Great Spirit and the spirit of the animal they had slain, I gave thanks for the creatures who gave their life so we could eat healthy meat. but I do not have that need now.  I get meat at the super market--but contrary to one clearly naive person's notion--that meat is not created by some mysterious cloning or duplication process but comes from animals that were once alive and were raised and then killed for that purpose!  I could hardly believe this was for real!!