18 May 2018

Feline Friday

 It's probably not a good sign when you need a little something to prop up your tummy!

Just kidding (kind of).... 😎

Happy Feline Friday, everyone! 

14 May 2018

Learning About East Texas Oil!

 When I visited Daughter in Texas last month, I had time while she was teaching to check out some local points of interest. I've been curious to learn more about the vast oil fields of East Texas so I decided to visit the nearby town of Kilgore, where the depression-era oil boom began.

I spent a few hours visiting the super-interesting East Texas Oil Museum, and I'll share those photos in a separate post. I also stopped by downtown Kilgore which still has a few oil derricks for visitors to see. A derrick sits atop an oil well and supports the drilling apparatus. At Christmas, these oil derricks are lit like Christmas trees!

This is a scale model of how closely the derricks were erected during the oil boom...on the main street of downtown Kilgore! Nowadays, safety regulations prevent derricks from being set up so close to each other. But back then, it was "anything goes"!

 Because of the amount of money generated by the Kilgore oil wells, this area was dubbed the World's Richest Acre. This is what sleepy Kilgore looked like before oil was discovered there.

After drilling, Kilgore was filled with oil derricks -- and all the developers and workers to operate them and the related businesses. The town was forever changed. At one point there were 1,000+ wells within Kilgore, making it the most densely drilled area in the world.

 When you drive through parts of Texas and other oil-producing states, you'll often see pump-jacks which mechanically lift oil from some wells. They bob up and down like little ducks! If you're lucky enough to find oil on your property, you're entitled to the revenue it generates. So you'll see pump jacks in parking lots, front yards, ditches, and fields...wherever oil is found. In downtown Kilgore, you can see a pump jack up close!

Oil production continues to be big business in East Texas, and it was very interesting for this Iowa girl to learn more about it!

11 May 2018

Feline Friday

Today's post features the antics of Cousin Rory in Texas. I recently visited Rory and her meowmy. We had way too much fun!

Rory loves going into cupboards and drawers (be sure to check out the post from her visit to the vet). She's fast, sneaky, and amazingly handy with her giant paws. If you can't find Rory, just check the cupboards and drawers!

Cousin Rory is also a great jumper! To get to these kitchen cupboards, she jumps from the counter to the top of the fridge, then it's an easy hop to her favorite kitchen perch. On the other side of the kitchen, she has to jump straight up from the counter to the top of the cupboards, an even more daring feat which she performs with ease!

For the life of me, I don't know how she jumps up there without hitting her head on that popcorn ceiling! 

This is perfect vantage spot for surveying her kingdom!

 On another note, this week marks one year since we had to say goodbye to our sweet Tinsel. I miss my crafting buddy terribly. Be sure to give some extra love to your kitties today! They bring so much joy to our lives.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

04 May 2018

Feline Friday

 In case anybody has been wondering, Lily has been busy being her quirky, cute self! Here are a few of the places she was spotted this week:

 Atop the cat tree, surveying her kingdom...

  Stalking her daddy's dinner...

 "Do you ever get that feeling that someone is watching you?"
 (She realized making her mooove would involve actual physical activity so opted for a nap instead. 😺)

Midway through a tummie baf...
  Lily, you make me smile every day!

27 April 2018

Feline Friday

 Rory's stylish new sweater is done! Bailey did a great job on it and I'm sure Rory will enjoy sporting it! Unlike most kitties, she doesn't mind wearing t-shirts, dresses, or sweaters. Wearing clothing has a calming effect on her, almost like a Thundershirt!

Bailey made Rory's new sweater using some yarn she received in a grab bag. It was just the right amount of yarn to make a cat sweater.

 Any cat person will understand why there's packing paper all over Bailey's living room. Rory gets pretty excited whenever an Amazon box arrives!


It fits her PURR-fectly!

23 April 2018

Hidden in Plain Sight

 You have to know the past to understand the present.
Carl Sagan

Over the weekend, I attended a funeral visitation in a part of town I don't go to often. After I finished at the church, I took some time to drive around the area. It is filled with large and stately old homes, some in need of repair, but the neighborhood has good bones. You can just feel the history around you.

Maybe that wasn't a random observation. As I sat in the church parking lot, it occurred to me that a branch or two of my family once lived in this area, something I've picked up from looking at old census records. I decided that someday it might be interesting to map out a drive to see if any of their old homes are still standing.

 Then I remembered that several ancestors are buried in what I thought was a small cemetery nearby. My GPS indicated it was only a few minutes away, so I thought I'd make a quick visit.

Now it may sound like a terrible thing to say, but I really don't like cemeteries -- or at least the ones where I've had to go on the worst days of my life.  I find it extremely difficult to visit my parents' graves so I hardly ever go, and I feel very guilty about that. My mom and dad were so full of life that a cemetery is the very last place I want to associate with them. 

So given my strong feelings on the subject, it might seem hypocritical that I actually wanted to visit a cemetery where my ancestors are buried. But people who research their family history routinely visit cemeteries as part of gathering information and paying respect. And since I didn't know any of these people, I don't feel the emotional kick-in-the-gut I get when I go to my parents' cemetery. I know that my mom and dad (and especially my grandma, who was the family genealogist) would appreciate that I'm trying to learn more about our family history, so I put aside my guilty feelings and off I went.

When I arrived at the cemetery, I discovered that it wasn't a small place at all. In fact, it stretched across the highway into two large areas. Since it was so much bigger than I expected and I was there mostly on a whim, I just took a quick drive through to see if i could spot any family plots.

Before arriving, I had checked a website called Find A Grave which I learned about through Ancestry. If you're interested in knowing where someone is buried, you can almost certainly find it on this website. Volunteers go out and take pictures of headstones, so if your family's stone has not been photographed, you can request a photo. It's really quite a wonderful resource, and it's free for anyone to use.

Through this website, I've found graves for many relatives all around the United States. Headstones are quite useful to locate because they often give basic facts that you'll need for research.

 This is the page for my second great grandmother which includes links to other family members buried in the same cemetery. So if you wanted to plan a visit to a particular cemetery, you could arrive with a list in hand to find all of your family's plots.

 I knew from research that some members of my maternal grandma's family are buried there, so I drove around looking for the McClelland plot. I headed to what looked like an older part of the cemetery and found it readily.

 I located a couple of graves for which I needed better pictures for my family tree.

 Up in the distance you can see the tall pointed stones which belong to the Harvey branch of my family. Until recently I didn't even know I had Harveys in my family. Heck, a year ago I could have walked around this cemetery not recognizing the names on my most of my family's stones.

 I didn't stay long, but this quick little stop proved to me that if I ventured out with complete information about which relatives are buried where, I could do a little tour of the few cemeteries around the area and pay my respects as part of my family history project.

It's amazing to me that so many members of my family lived so close to where I live today, yet I'm only just now discovering it. It's almost like they've been hidden in plain sight.

22 April 2018

Catching Up on Scrapbooking: Process

Over the years as I've worked on different sorts of projects, I've learned that I'm very much a PROCESS person. This is especially evident when I plan classes. I think about the best way to do things to ensure a successful outcome, then I try to either continue or improve upon those steps each time.

But I'm still trying to determine the best PROCESS for this massive scrapbooking project I've been working on. It's so easy to get bogged down and not make progress. That can lead to discouragement and NO PROGRESS, which is where things sat for far too long.

My typical process is to finish a page before moving on to the next one. That means planning it out, adhering all the photos, and adding embellishments and journaling before turning to the next set of photos. But this way forces you to switch between various types of tasks and (I think) can slow a person down.

So this time, I decided to try something different. Rather than finish each page before moving on, I decided to fill all the sleeves loosely with photos (basically to plan out the album), then go back and finish each page in a second step. I find that I work most efficiently if I do one type of task at once rather than switch back and forth between different kinds of tasks. So theoretically, this way should be faster. We shall see!

So I emptied the box of photos and filled the pocket pages and sleeves with them. The good thing is that this allows you to see where all the photos will fit and in which size/style of page.
It's nice (but misleading!) to see this empty box. By no means is the album done!

If you've used pocket pages, you understand that it can be almost ridiculously complicated to figure out how to fit your horizontal and vertical photos into various configurations of sleeves. It sounds easy but it sometimes strains your brain as you try to fit same size photos front to back in the proper order! For this reason, it was helpful to just focus on this task until all the pages were very roughly planned out.

But obviously just shoving photos into page protectors doesn't finish the job. This pile of pictures just tells me that I'll be making couple of traditional scrapbook pages for this event.

So I started back at the beginning of the album and added titles, embellishments, and a little bit of journaling, going page by page. Some photos ended up on a traditional 12x12 page...

...while others ended up on 8.5x11 pages. I added a few embellishments here and there.

Some pages have very little journaling.

Some have more. To speed up this part of the process, I formatted text for several pages at once...

...then printed and cut apart the pieces. I definitely think it's more efficient to handle journaling this way, rather than a single page at a time!

Once the embellishments and journaling were added, I called these pages done and slipped them into the album sleeves, then moved on to the next unfinished page. Things were going along pretty well...

...until I remembered the big file of memorabilia I still need to add to this album. YIKES!

I'm not sure if this method is going to work for me. But if it will make things move more quickly then I'm willing to give it a try. We'll see how long it takes to wrap up this album. Time is ticking away and many more photos await!

20 April 2018

Feline Friday: A Sweater for Rory!

 In recent years, Rory's mama has taken up knitting. She's made all kinds of beautiful projects, but only recently did "make a sweater for Rory" come up on the official knitting to-do list. Lucky Rory!

The only downside is that Rory has to go through the fitting process, which happens a little too frequently for her liking!

First it was the neck... (The mama assures me that even though it looks a little snug, it's actually quite comfortable around Rory's neck!)

 As you can see, she's cooperative but not especially keen on this trying-on business!

And of course, the circular needles must stay attached during fittings so Rory looks a little bit like a science experiment.

Things got even worse for Rory as time came to fit the arm holes. 😍

But once the sweater was on, Rory could see how stylish and comfortable it really is!

 Rory is looking forward to wearing her finished sweater...or at least the end of the fittings!
Happy Feline Friday!

18 April 2018

It's Spring in Texas!

This was the scene in our neighborhood a couple of days ago. The snow did melt, but now it's snowing again. Winter just won't give up!
It may still be be winter in Iowa but I can assure you that it's spring in Texas! On the first full day of my recent visit, Daughter and I went to a local greenhouse to pick up flowers, vegetables, and herbs to plant. We spent the afternoon potting up everything and now her balcony looks like spring!

  It was fun to go to a greenhouse in a different part of the country. There were several varieties of plants, flowers, and trees which we don't have here in the Midwest.

And some flowers which only work in pots around here thrive year-round in Texas. I felt like I was in the tropics!

 Imagine having bougainvillea like these in your yard!

 Check out the size of these pots! You know what they say...everything's bigger in Texas! 

  I saw succulents galore and in varieties far surpassing any greenhouse in these parts. Of course, succulents thrive outdoors in Texas.

And check out this huge hanging thing! It appeared to be some sort of massive palm.

This hibiscus was as big as a dinner plate. Gorgeous color!

 And of course we found all the zinnias you could possibly want! We took a few home with us.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this transplanted Iowa girl is making her own compost now. It is rich and black, much like Iowa soil -- very different than the red and sandy dirt in Texas. She had quite a bit of this good stuff to mix into the potting soil. I'm expecting good things to happen with this compost!

It was a beautiful day for planting up all the pots!
When we were done, we put our feet up and enjoyed the view!

 Even Rory has a nice view of the flowers from her cat tree.

What a lovely place for morning coffee! Unfortunately, the weather got a little cold during the rest of my stay, but I enjoyed a couple of nice mornings out on the balcony.

I only wish I could have brought some of that warm spring weather back home with me!
 Come on, spring! 😊