Sunday, May 27, 2012

Feeling Crafty

I've said it before and it was no different this year - May is a horrible work month.  On the plus side, this year was a little less stressful on getting the work in.  Almost all of our clients are now computerized and there was no last minute data entry to worry about.  On the other hand, a couple of our group were scheduled to take a vacation the last week of May and we were hoping they would not have to lug along a laptop to handle any last minute mailings.  We went into high gear from the last week of April until we finished the last file on Tuesday of last week.  I was relieved to finish up early, but really pooped and looking forward to the three day Memorial Day holiday.

I thought about just taking the weekend off and spending the time on the couch reading or knitting, but I decided I needed to do something different and get my mind off work.  I decided to make Saturday a play day and I started by going to my favorite yarn shop, Yarnorama in Paige, to take a class in needle felting.

I had only a vague idea what needle felting was all about, but I'm always ready to explore a new needlework technique so off I went.  It turns out that needle felting is about compressing roving (carded wool or other natural fiber) with a very, very sharp needle to create shapes and designs.  The teacher had a lot of interesting examples to show us, from small teddy bears to elaborate Christmas ornaments, and then she set us to work to create our own designs on a wool ball.  I started with a simple flower on one side.

And then I tried a free form design on the other side.  By the time I had finished the second design, I was getting the hang of the process.

I remarked to the teacher that it was rather ironic to deliberately felt wool when, as a knitter, you worry more about keeping wool from accidentally felting.  Felting (both by water and by needle) has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity lately.  I've never really had any desire to try felting, but this version I can see coming in handy for mini projects.  I'm planning to make furniture (a bean bag chair perhaps), pillows and wall hangings for my future hippie bus dollhouse.

When the class ended, I considered that I was only 11 miles from Giddings and one of my favorite antique malls, so I decided a little bit of antiquing would be a good way to spend a few hours before heading home.  I thought I would get away with just window shopping, but then happened across a cross-stitch piece that I decided I had to have.

It was a bit expensive and I managed to walk away from it at first, but it was well done and was based on Proverbs 31, one of my favorite Bible passages.  I finally decided it would fit in nicely in the guest bedroom where I have other needlework pieces on display.

Buying a piece for the guest room got me into additional trouble.  Last Saturday I had spotted a shabby chic lingerie chest in a store in Smithville.  I had continued to think about the piece through the week and I decided to swing back home through Smithville and see if it was still there.   I knew it would look very nice in the guest room and provide a little needed storage for guests during their stay.   

I figured when I arrived at the store and it was still there, I was meant to have it.  (Especially when the store owner told me another lady had her eye on it and was due to bring her husband in to take a look later in the day.  The early unmarried bird who doesn't have to check with anybody, has an advantage.)

That stop put an end to my shopping spree, so I headed home and arrived just in the nick of time.  Little Mojo had been out of sorts for the previous 24 hours, unable to get along with anybody, not even his Mommy.  I had not been home long before we discovered why.  He was hit by one of the seizures that come along every few weeks or so, and this one was more severe than usual.  When it subsided, we settled him on the couch for a long nap beside me, and I kept myself occupied with starting a new scarf.  

I've gotten a little tired of the scarf I'm knitting at the moment (miles of 3x3 ribbing, pretty but boring after the first mile), so I decided to switch over to crochet for a little while.  I'm having a good time with this pattern and the colorful yarn.  I expect I'll be working on this project quite a bit this weekend - when I should be mowing and pulling weeds and cleaning house.  

This is lots more fun.  And I've earned a little play time.


Sunday, May 06, 2012

A Day in the Life of a Klutzy Genealogist

The first Saturday in May is reserved for the annual reunion of the descendants of Will and Amanda Frankum.  Frankum kinfolk from all over Texas descend on West Columbia for visiting, eating and playing (dominoes and music).  I try to attend every year - and I usually make it.

I came close to missing it this year.  Every year I also have a standing date with my traveling buddy Lana to go to the Miniatures Showcase in Dallas, which normally falls in the middle of April but this year it was moved down to the first weekend in May.  It was a dilemma.  Miniatures Showcase is just about the only opportunity for us Texans to see and buy the work of the elite of the dollhouse miniatures artists/dealers.  On the other hand, the Frankum reunion is just about the only opportunity to see all the Frankum kin together, except for funerals.  There have been way too many funerals in the family in the last few years.  I hate to miss the reunion where I can see everyone in a relaxed and festive mood.

When you get right down to it, the decision wasn't hard at all.  Family comes first and this year David and Karen were able to attend the reunion for the first time in many years.  So bright and early Saturday morning, the three of us hit the road headed to West Columbia.

The day was beautiful and the reunion was well attended.  We visited, we ate tons of food, we took part in a spirited fund-raising auction (where I won a set of pictures of my grandmother and her 5 sisters and brother and David picked up a pint of honey), and enjoyed a period of pickin' and grinnin' by the musically talented family members.

We had a lot of fun visiting with my Aunt Ruth Nell. She lives about 5-1/2 hours away from us and we don't get to see her nearly enough.

Aunt Nell, me and David
Aunt Nell, Uncle Donald and my Daddy were 3 of the 21 first cousins born to the aforementioned 6 siblings.   All the cousins were raised together and were more like siblings themselves than merely cousins.  There are 14 of them still living and they have moved into the position of our family elders, also known as our Board of Directors.  (The only one missing from the following photo is my Uncle Donald Wilcoxen, who lives in Missouri and is unable to make the trip any longer.)

Standing, left to right:  Karen Ryman, Earl McVay, Hazel Heiman, Norman Frankum,
Faye Butcher, Ann Owens, Grace Harrington, Edward Frankum
Sitting:  Ruth Wilks, Peggy Murff, Glynda Wester, Dean Frankum, Bobby Frankum
We had a fantastic time and all was well - until I pulled one of my clumsy stunts.  David and Karen were participating in the music-making and I decided to get a jump on getting our stuff loaded into the car for the trip home.  I had taken a bowl of tuna salad for the luncheon, which it turned out was something we didn't need at all, so I thought I would go ahead and put it back into the cooler and have lunch taken care of for the next week.  I was making my way to the car, holding the pyrex bowl out in front of me, when I stepped on a loose rock in the parking lot.  My foot turned and I went down fast, skidding across the pavement on my left elbow and knee.  The bowl flew out of my hand and landed shortly afterward, shattering into a hundred pieces and spewing tuna salad everywhere.

I was so stunned at first I wasn't thinking about anything but the need to clean up the mess.  I picked myself up and stumbled on to the car where I scrounged a grocery sack out of the trunk and went back to clean up.    Two young folks who had witnessed my fall came to help me and I was busy cautioning them to "please, please don't cut yourself on the glass" when I half-realized that blood was streaming down my own hand.  I still wasn't processing what had happened and continued on picking up the shards of glass with only the thought of getting it all up before any of the little kids who were running around managed to get into it.  The young lady who was helping disappeared to find Band-aids before I bled to death and the young man took over getting the mess removed to the dumpster.  When I finally felt like I could deal with whatever was bleeding, I headed inside to the restroom where I was joined by my aunt and several cousins to make sure I was okay.

One of the cousins was a nurse and she took over the first aid.  We quickly figured out that most of the blood was coming from a shallow cut just below a cuticle.  Once we got the bleeding stopped and that finger bandaged, we checked on the rest of my injuries, which turned out to be a painfully skinned knee that I had not even realized was oozing blood through my jeans and a series of scrapes on my left elbow, both hands and my toes.  (Today I woke up to a very sore shoulder and hip where I landed and tender places everywhere I touched pavement.  What a disgraceful state of affairs for a 58-year-old spinster lady.)

While all of this was going on, David and Karen were blissfully unaware that I was leaving DNA all over the place.  Once they found out, they made sure I didn't do any more carrying or loading up.  We said our goodbyes and headed home about 4 o'clock.

My dad's family lived in and around Wharton until Daddy was about 10 years old and every time we travel to the area, we have to check certain Wilcoxen historical sites.  This year, due to my fall more than anything, we skipped the stop at the Wharton Cemetery where my grandparents and great-grandparents are buried, and made our only stop in tiny Glen Flora.  Daddy, Aunt Nell and Uncle Donald were all born in Glen Flora, which is barely more than a blink along the road between Wharton and Eagle Lake.  However, there is a nice little antique store there which we decided to check out.

I fell in love with the old building that was once a general store.  I had a lot of fun exploring the structure, which included a big stage area in the back, with a viewing gallery on the floor above.  The lady who owned the place now did not know what the stage was used for, but I could picture the locals having a dance there, with the older and younger folks watching them from the seats upstairs.  Part of the stage floor turned out to be a freight elevator, which the owner said still runs and she uses all the time.  From the tin ceilings to the leaded windows to the elevator to the gallery rails, I enjoyed every minute and could imagine my grandparents and their contemporaries being a part of those long ago get-togethers.

Of course, I had to find something I needed while I was there.  I acquired a vintage crocheted table topper and a dollhouse fireplace. 

When we got back to Bastrop, the three of us decided to have dinner at the new Italian restaurant just inside the subdivision, and while we ate we watched that beautiful supermoon rising over the tops of the pine trees. It was the perfect ending to the day.

Never miss a family reunion.  (Even if you end up with a bruise or two.)