Saturday, November 25, 2017

Mother Neff State Park; November 2016 (catching up post)

After our first horribly hot trip in Miss Lippy to Inks Lake, we were anxious to take her out when the weather had become more mild. This trip was much more enjoyable and yet another learning experience.  Lesson learned: you really don't need to go far to find an absolutely beautiful park and escape for a short time. Mother Neff was (I believe) the first state park in Texas. It sits along a river and has had a history of flooding, which would make it impossible to access. However, the parks department has recently expanded the camping area and built a new visitors center, which are both well above the flood zone. There are several hiking trails, a play ground, each site has water, electric, AND sewer; and, each site has a nice picnic table, fire pit, and graveled parking. The sites are very level and wooded so they have privacy.  There are an assortment of trails that criss cross over streams, pass small ponds, have wooden bridges, may or may not lead to the stone water tower or the cave. It was beautiful in the fall but we were there when most of the leaves had already fallen. I'd like to go back again earlier in the year so we might catch some fall leaves. There is also a junior ranger program (not great) and a few geo caches to occupy the grands.
 The playground isn't very big but the grands loved it.  There is a bench that is in a shaded area and nearby is a hiking trail. We walked to the playground, spent some time playing, then finished up the hike. None of the trails are difficult and the girls handled them with ease. When we weren't hiking, we played board games.
Sophie Lyn

Maggie Lyn

The twins joined us for an overnight. I'm so thankful Jamie takes the girls out often. They are so fair and I worried about sun burn; but, they make applying sun screen part of their normal routine. The girls loved spending time together. 
The girls at the water tower.

One of the trails

another trial

Finding a geo cache... not sure that's spelled correctly.

We finally figured out that Boomer is so much happier in the lead.
He would tug, and tug, and tug to get in front! 

The girls hanging out in the cave.

Taking a break by the pond.
The second lesson learned was the need for bunks! I think at this point, Scott had started the remodel on the bunk room; but, it wasn't finished. Sleeping arrangements were a bit of a challenge; especially with Tico when a storm moved through! He went home with Poppy the next night!!!
"Whine! Whine! Whine! There is a storm out there!!"

Only room for one over the cab. That became a bit of a worry when they all tried to sleep up there!

All in all, the girls were "super" on the camp out. Hence, their super hero pose! Love these girls.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Palo Duro Canyon, Texas: Thanksgiving Break 2017

During our Thanksgiving break, the family campers decided to take a trip to Palo Duro Canyon State Park here in Texas. We've been discussing a long road trip to either Yellowstone or Mesa Verde in the upcoming spring and wanted to build our RV road trip stamina by taking a fairly long road trip this fall.  From my house to Leslie's home in Ft. Worth, then to the canyon and home it was 1,020 miles. Miss Lippy didn't go quite that far because Ron and Scott went up earlier than the girls and I and bypassed Ft. Worth. But, it was a pleasant drive for both vehicles. That gives us some confidence in the old girl's ability to make it out of state. 
Ron and Scott took Miss Lippy up on Tuesday and took care of some general maintenance and put the flooring down in the bunk room. By the time Leslie, the girls and I were there, camp was set up. It's really easy to tear down camp but setting up seems to take a long time. I'm kinda glad we missed that part.
We spent our time at the park hiking different trails, building our evening camp fires, and looking at the amazing night sky. That was simply breathtaking! Maggie actually squealed with delight when she looked up the first night. She was astounded that she could see the Milky Way's band across the sky and so many constellations. We were wishing Uncle Ryan was there because he is the family astronomer and would have brought his telescope. Maybe next time!
The canyon seemed to have so much more vegetation in it than I remember from our last visit. We have had an unusually mild summer and even in central Texas things are more lush and green than normal. Texas has summers like that from time to time. I think I like the park scenery when it is more rugged and harsh.
The condition of the park was a little disappointing. There is a lack of camp hosts so the bathrooms weren't as clean as I would like for them to have been.  I assume that's why. Ron had talked to one of the rangers about the condition of the park and he explained that all of their funds for maintenance had to be diverted to the gulf coast because of the hurricane. That made sense so we just overlooked things and hope for an increase in funds next year.

Here are the pictures I took while we were there.
One of the most fascinating sights in Texas is the extensive field of windmills. 

Leslie gave Maggie my camera and she managed to get some really good pictures of them.

The girls were laughing at the tumble weeds that rolled across the highway as we drove to the canyon. They found a dried twig blowing around in our campsite and had to take a picture of the "tumbleweed."

When you arrive at the canyon, it's pretty surprising. You drive for about 30 minutes after you see the first sign for the park. Then after you pass through the gates, there it is! It's a pretty steep drive down into the actual park.

Like I said earlier, Ron and Scott had the camp set up when we got there so we just had to cook dinner then turned in for the night. Tico didn't like being inside. His favorite thing to do was sit at the door and whine to go out.

Leslie and Maggie spent some time reading the book that the movie Wonder is based on. It will hopefully be the last trip we take with that nasty couch and carpet! They guys are planning on ripping it out tomorrow. Can't wait!

Leslie, the girls, Scott, and the dogs did a lot more hiking than Ron and I.  Ron has been having trouble with his hip so he staggered along with his cane. Rather than leave him straggling behind, we just strolled portions of the trails. Hopefully, he will be better our next trip.

The trails are rated from easy to difficult and are marked at intervals with these blue stakes. There are numerous side trails that you can take if your adventurous. We played it safe and stayed on the main trail.

When we came to a section that intersected with side trails, there were white arrows painted on the ground so you wouldn't lose you way.

The Lighthouse Hoodoo is the signature rock formation for Palo Duro. The kids and grands hiked all the way out but Ron and I only went half the way. They said the last part of the trail was pretty tough.

Another shot of the Lighthouse.

Ron at the trail head.

One view of the canyon from the Lighthouse trail.

Another time when we were wishing Ryan was with us. I know the layers have a story to tell about the history of the canyon. Ryan could have told us all about it.

My obligatory picture of me.

and a selfie of the two old people.

The second trail we hiked went along the river. Ron had a lot of trouble with this one so we back tracked and then drove to the trail end to meet the kids. 

map of the park trails

Crazy Tico has got to have some Rat Terrier in him. He stuck his snout in every hole he passed. I think Leslie was pretty thankful he didn't pull anything out of any of them!

This was on another trail that went along the river. Can't for the life of me remember the name; Rojo or Rio something???

This was a very overgrown trail. We only went a short distance because there was a lot of cactus along the sides. Dingbat Tico kept walking in them. 

There are turkeys and coyotes all over the park. This small flock walked right by the RV our last evening at the park.

Thor was our chase car for this trip. This car is the most comfortable ride with very roomy seating for 7. I was hesitant to buy him; but, I sure am glad I did.

Home away from home... Miss Lippy. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Putting Life Back Together: Mom's Quilting Legacy Will Continue

This, and many posts to come, will be out of chronological order. Why? Because the family is working our way through another refiner's fire and I simply haven't had the heart to blog. What refiner's fire? The loss of my sweet mother to that horrid disease, cancer. While the feelings are still very tender, retelling the journey will be an important process, which I hope will be a form of therapy.

When Mom passed away, we had the task of packing up and clearing out the house to prepare it for sale. The contents of Mom's sewing room were some of the hardest things to pack up.  I knew it wasn't something I was emotionally prepared to deal with right away; so, several family members pitched in and helped me toss everything into boxes, tape them up, and move it all to our house. I figured once we got the funeral and my parents' house taken care of I would be ready to take on the challenge of sorting through her sewing things and finding a new home for everything.

The boxes, at least 10 LARGE packing boxes, were shoved under the long arm and along the walls of my sewing room. There was so much plunder in there that I felt like a hoarder; only a path to the ironing board was clear. It was a crazy mess.

This isn't even all of it! These pictures were taken after I had already sorted through all of her quilting books, magazines, and patterns.  Included in the books were manuals, CDs, and file folders with individual projects. It was an extensive library.  I knew I would never use the books that were for applique because it just isn't something I enjoy. (Mom was gifted at needle turned, hand applique!) My sister-in-law, Kathy, took some of the books. Another sister-in-law, Deb, does stained glass so she took several things to use as patterns.  Unfortunately, it was only a drop in the bucket. 

just a few of the books and magazines

After the books and patterns were sorted, I tackled the fabric boxes. I knew my little sewing room wouldn't hold even a fraction of the things in Mom's inventory. I had to be deliberate and methodical about the purging process. One of the fabric lines that Mom was passionate about was the 30's Reproduction fabrics. I knew those were keepers. She also was pretty smart when it came to keeping a stash of background and backing fabric on hand. Those things were easy to place in the keep pile. But, among her stash were COUNTLESS fabrics that were used as landscape pieces in her applique. Trees, stones, water, sky, leaves, plants, fur, scales... any fabric that could be cut into tiny pieces and used in a picture on a quilt filled several plastic tubs. I put all of that into one box and will donate it to the local quilt guild.  Other fabrics that could be used to make donation quilts for the cancer unit or pregnancy shelter were also placed in donation boxes.  Still, as I continued to "eat the elephant one bite at a time," I knew I needed more storage space. Luckily, my sweet husband consolidated all of his things in his office closet and the one where he stored his sports officiating gear. That freed up an entire closet!

The whole process of unpacking, sorting, repacking labeling boxes, and organizing took from June 2nd until June 7th. I worked from the time I got up, until well after midnight on some days. There were times when it was overwhelming and I would worry about the stupidest things. What if I died before I ever got it all sorted?? What would poor Ron do with all of this stuff?? What if I throw something out that should be kept?? What if I regret getting rid of that little tin or that cute basket Mom used to store things in?? Lots of worry and tears went into the task. 

But, as I worked through the things Mom left behind, I came to appreciate her talent more than ever. She was a simple and humble woman who shared her skills and knowledge with those she knew and loved. Her quilts are cherished gifts that will become family heirlooms and will serve as a link between her and the many grandchildren and great-grandchildren she left behind. It is a motivating force for me to continue her legacy and create those links with my own children and grandchildren.  Through the art of quilting, I will carry on her legacy. 

So, I finally have a "finished" product. My sewing room isn't trendy, color coordinated, cute, or state of the art. But it is filled with objects that connect me to Mom. I miss her more than words can say; but, each time I am in my sewing room, I feel her spirit with me. 

This is inside the closet that Ron gave up. Each tub or box is labeled with the project or type of fabric it contains.

As you walk into the sewing room, there is a white shelf on the left side. That's where I stored part of my original stash. I had to purge my own stash to make room for some of Mom's. 

The craft table was a gift from another quilting mentor and fellow teacher, Juanita Benoit. Luckily, it is a good sturdy table and folds up when I don't need the work space. The sewing machine and cabinet were Mom's. I packed up my Janome and am storing it just in case I never figure out how to use Mom's Viking. The white cabinet was built by Dad especially for Mom's sewing room. She painted the cute quilt blocks on the doors. It is yet another reminder of the many talents my parents had. 

Mom's sewing machine and Dad's cabinet
inside the white cabinet

When Ron and I looked at this house, one of the selling points was a room long enough for my long arm quilting machine. Mom and I split the price of the machine because she had accumulate so many unfinished tops! She has a lot of stitching miles on her.  Millie fits perfectly along one wall of the room. The boxes underneath are filled with a combination of my fabric stash and Mom's. Luckily, they slide easily on the carpet so I can work from both sides of the quilting machine.  

Millie and fabric storage

The closet straight ahead is the second place I stored my fabric stash. It has shelves built on one side and I had a plastic shelving unit left over from my classroom that added additional storage space.  

craft table, storage shelf

inside sewing room closet

Now that everything is sorted, packed, labeled, and organized, one challenge will be to NOT buy any more fabric... for a very long time!! And, the second challenge will be to use up what I have on hand.  As for what is going to the quilt guild... well, let's just say that the charity coordinator better have a big truck with her when she comes to pick it up!

donations for the guild

The boxes are emptied, but my heart is not. 
Love you, Mom.