About Blog Title...

As a child, it was one of my greatest delights to visit my grandparents in the spring when the whip-poor-wills began to call. Grandma and Grandpa lived in a remote valley of the Ozark Mountains where there were trees a plenty, and, seemingly, a whip-poor-will, or two, in each one.
My grandmother insisted that a whip-poor-will's call was not "whip-poor-will," but instead, "chip-butter-white-oak." I would listen really hard trying to hear it exactly as she said it was, but all I could hear was "whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will,..." But, I never let on to her.
I remember my grandpa watching and listening, with an amused look on his face, to one of these listening sessions. Shortly after that he began to call me, just for fun, "Chip Butter." It is a name I am proud to wear for I still love to hear that long, lonesome call on a warm summer's eve. And, sometimes, when I listen really, really hard, it seems I can hear quite clearly, "chip-butter-white-oak, chip-butter-white-oak..."

Monday, March 20, 2017

The redbuds were ablaze in the valley ...

The redbuds were ablaze in the valley and the sarvis painted the steep hills white...

According to this spring's migration map, the ruby-throated hummingbirds are already on the move, and could be here already.  We are ready!  A couple of feeders are hanging...


Slow Progress... 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

On Hoof, or Paw, or Wing...

Wildlife photos taken along the Chip Butter Trail are a hard thing to come by these days, because Millie runs ahead and alerts everything on hoof, or paw, or wing that we are on the trail.   However, one day this week, when these photos were taken, we seemed to have just kind of slipped in undetected under the radar, and I was able to get a couple of good shots.  Ahh, I can't count the times the Great Blue Heron has unfolded and lifted those oh-so-lovely gigantic wings right before my eyes while I was trying to fumble with my camera.

Each day that we walk the trail, a little stick woman with a stick in her hand, followed by a little stick doggie, is hastily penciled on my calendar for that day. On a few special days there may be another little stick person, and occasionally two others, walking with us. Those are fun days, for sure!  It has been a good year so far, and we haven't missed our walk many times... five in January, two in February, and, so far, only two in March.

Millie thinks we should walk every day, rain or shine, but the day Nell and I got caught in a terrific thunderstorm is still too fresh on my mind to allow myself to be enticed out onto the trail when the weather is unsettled.  That day, the storm caught up with us right about the place where Millie is standing and staring at the deer.  I will just say that by the time we got home, I was the wettest I had ever been in my entire life...before, or since.  That was one time I was glad not to have taken my camera!


Beginning to think about dressing a doll...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


Yes, I know that I posted a picture of this old horse-drawn mower just a couple of weeks ago, but that was before the wildflowers weeds began to bloom.  I thought the photo was worthy of being posted again.  Actually, I rather like weeds, most of them, anyway.   In fact, I like to think of myself as being one. 

"I want all my friends to come up like weeds and I want to be a weed myself, spontaneous and unstoppable.  I don't want the kind of friends one has to cultivate."  

                                                                        ~Roger Deakins, Notes from Walnut Tree Farm

My dear childhood friend, Alice, and me...  Tragically, Alice moved
away not long after this picture was taken.
Friends--how I like to think back over the years and remember those who were so dear to me. I am reminded of this passage from L. M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables.

     Anne tipped the vase of apple blossoms near enough to bestow a soft kiss on a pink-cupped bud, and then studied diligently for some moments longer.
     "Marilla," she demanded presently, "do you think that I shall ever have a bosom friend in Avonlea?"
     "A--what kind of a friend?"
     "A bosom friend--an intimate friend, you know--a really kindred spirit to whom I can confide my inmost soul.  I've dreamed of meeting her all my life.  I never really supposed I would, but so many of my loveliest dreams have come true all at once that perhaps this one will, too.  Do you think it's possible?"

I also think the great fiction writer, Louis L'Amour must have known a thing or two about true friendship, for he wrote so eloquently about it.  In the following passage two dear friends Tom Watkins and Barnabas Sackett are about to take their last stand against a band of warring Senecas.

     He looked around at me. "D' you reckon we'll make it, Barnabas?"
     "Do you wonder, Tom?
     He was silent, and the fire crackled.  Somewhere out there the wind moved through the trees.  "I reckon not, Barnabas.  I reckon I knew from the moment we straddled a horse for this ride that we wasn't goin' but one way this time."
     "We've ridden a good trail together, Tom, a long ride since that night on the edge of the fens."
     "You're a man, Tom Watkins, a man to ride down the warpath with...or any path.  You were there when the long guns spoke, and you were beside me when the blades were drawn...and when they were sheathed...and you never shirked a job that needed to be done."

"...when the blades were drawn...and when they were sheathed..."   Now, there's the thing of it --a true friend is there in the good times as well as in the bad.  There really aren't many friends like Tom Watkins, who's going to be there through the best and worst of times--someone to talk to all night--someone who loves you for who you are.  But, heck, when I found that person, I just married him!



This is the sculpt as it is today--still lots of work to be done.  To get an idea of what this little person might look like, I have drawn in temporary features.  It amazes me how once a little face is in place, particularly the eyes,  that suddenly there's another presence in the room--someone watching and wondering.  I think she's a weed!                                            

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

In Like a Lion...

Spring at woods' edge...

 There are plenty of folks around here who will readily proclaim, because of last night's damage from strong thunderstorms and possible tornados, that March definitely came in like a lion.  The rain was a blessing, of course, but we could have well done without all the rest. Today the winds are still blowing, but the sun is shining, and spring, which had seemed to be lingering just at woods' edge, came joyously rushing across meadow and field, tinting them in hues of green.

Millie and her daily splash in the pond...


The final version is FINA!. It is traced with a Sharpie onto template plastic...something I have never done before, because it has never been final before!  (It only took me twenty years!)

Miss Chip's Doll Pattern... 

Final prototype (She sits well.)...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The year's at the spring (almost)...

An early morning shower...

The Cowboy going to work...

The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew -pearl'd'
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His heaven~
All's right with the world!

      ~Robert Browning

Then coming back...

Red sky at night; Sailors delight...for sure!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Without even waiting to put on his coat...

...in cool little pockets of the deep woods.

Nothing expresses the way we have been feeling around here, on these fabulously warm days of February, quite so well as Kenneth Grahame's, Spring House Cleaning, from his wonderful book, The Wind in the Willows. 

"The Mole had been working very hard all morning, spring cleaning his little home.  First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms.  Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing.  It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said, "Brother!" and "O blow!" and also "Hang spring cleaning!" and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat."

One thing's for sure, our heavy coats have been left hanging, all week, on their hooks beside the back door.

Ready for a bit of clay..

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Not So Ordinary...

"Should I take my camera?"  How many times have I asked myself that question, as I was going out the door?  (Of course, the answer is, "Yes, always take your camera!  You never know what might be lurking beyond yonder bough or crag.)

However, as of late, as winter begins to wear us down, when every leaf and stem seems a bit frayed and forlorn, I have been prone to think, "What's the use?  There's nary a pretty picture to be had."  February can be like that, you know...perhaps, the drabbest month of them all.

Lately, I've even found myself wishing, as in days gone by, I had a half dozen pretty spotted ponies, and a barnyard full of beautiful speckled hens, but, alas, no more....  There are, now, only the trails and what lurks there...the little unexpected things that, when the light is just right, catches one's eye and the ordinary becomes not so ordinary.

Reflections so vivid that it's hard to tell what is up and what is down...

The very ordinary, but oh-so photogenic Millie...

A little surprise just off the trail...

The Doll Pattern...the one I have been drafting for oh-so-long...the one with the set-in-seat that I am so determined to have... is back on the table. Both the dolls in the picture are made from an earlier version of that pattern, which I am still trying to improve on.  I am determined to get it right this time, and the only way to do that is to keep guessing, testing and revising...prototyping, I suppose.  So, I have done that this week...several times, in fact.  I am getting mighty close...

Saturday, February 4, 2017

At the Foot of these Mountains...

Millie has learned a lot about what to do and what not to do as far as the cattle are concerned.  She is a cow dog, you know.  I take great pride in how well she is progressing in her training.  She obeys commands ~ "Come here, Millie,"  "Stay back,"  "Stay here,"  "Let's go," "Want a hot dog?" and, best of all, "Give me a hug."  However, she still won't get into the side-by-side.  Even a hot dog doesn't do the trick. We may have to go to night school to master that one.

Millie ~ All grown up now

The sewing room is now swept clean, and the shelves are dusted and straightened.  The dolls and I are definitely enjoying the quiet calmness of a clean, tidy room. We could even find the scissors should we have the need to.  However, in the back of my mind, ideas are swirling around for the next project.  I am like Millie, in a way, having learned so much about making dolls (in her case about being a cow dog), but there are things yet to be learned.  Oh, heck!   I'll just think about that tomorrow....

Willow ~ three years ago

Oakley and Temperance ~ five years ago

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Sundresses and Wilderness Trails...

The last of the little dresses are sundresses with coordinating jackets.  (I have now made four of these little jackets...think I could make one in my sleep.)  The dresses and jackets were made from fat quarters or pieces I found in my scrap box, so there was no cloth to spare, and certainly not enough for matching of dots and plaids.

My mother used to say that her mother said the only thing we can take with us when we leave this world, is what we have given away.  I once asked Mom if I could go with her to help carry her stuff, for she had given so much away.

So, I am adding the little dresses to what I have given away.  I hope the girls will be pleased.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I hear the wilderness trail calling.......

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Living Inside a Cloud.... (And, The Brown Corduroy)

There have been so many foggy days and foggy nights here, lately, it has seemed we must be living inside a cloud; certainly not days fit for getting out with the camera, or so I thought.

A couple of days ago, I had a strong desire to go exploring in search of something to  "shoot," so when Millie and I headed into that foggy cloud, my camera was right at hand.  I was surprised, but not disappointed, at the results.  In the top photo, I can almost see Thoreau stepping down to water's edge as he contemplates the day. 


Now for the brown corduroy... It is exactly like the red corduroy, except it is brown...my color, for sure.  Both dresses have back ties or sashes, just as my dresses had when I was a kid. ( I have previously written about those sashes here.)  There were four ties to be narrowly hemmed all around, so I pulled out the old Singer with her narrow hemmer attachment, and went to work.  She stitched as though she were new, right out of the box, despite the fact that she is now fifty years old.   It was good practice, for sure, but I think the next dresses I make won't have sashes.