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..."


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Last Reflections of 2014...



 
Grab a coat, a long one with a hood preferably, and come walk the trail with me.  The day is rather cold, so I have pulled on an old baggy pair of sweats over my jeans for a double layer.  I always carry my walking stick, and usually my camera, for it is almost  a sure thing if I leave it home, there's a nice shot just waiting to be had.

 



The pond usually offers opportunity for an interesting photo or two, but today it seemed vacated except for a cow that had come down to the opposite shore for water.  Wild ducks, geese and great blue herons are normally on the ponds at this time of year, but not today.  It was here almost a year ago that I finally captured, in photo, the great blue heron.  I named the photo, "Were You Too Cold to Fly?"  which seemed appropriate since I had spent well over a year stalking this fine gent (or lady) only to watch him fly away.  Looking back over my photos taken this past year, it seemed  to me that this one definitely deserved to win the Chip Butter Award for this year's best.


Were You Too Cold to Fly?


So, having chosen a "This Year's Best," it seemed I should also choose a second and a third place winner. It wasn't hard to choose the second.  It just had to be a photo of Zeke, this year's Father Christmas doll.  It was four long years ago that I made my first cloth and clay doll whose name began with the letter A.  Feeling quite proud of myself, I told the whole wide world that I was going to make a doll for every letter of the alphabet.  I don't think I ever believed that I actually would, but twenty-six dolls later, here is Zeke.


Zeke


The third runner-up proved to be the hardest.  I finally selected a picture of the pond taken today, appropriately named "Last Reflections of 2014."


My old calendar is almost filled now; 365 little squares marked and scribbled on. As always, I am excited to be starting a new calendar and a new year, and hope you are too.

Thanks for coming along on what may be this year's last walk along The Chip Butter Trail.  Best wishes to you all for a Happy Happy New Year!


Last Reflections of 2014

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Jeepin' Along on a Rainy Day...






Yesterday, the Old Cowboy and I were jeepin' along on a rainy day, only a couple of miles from home, when...Whoa!  There they were!  For just a moment, I imagined I might be somewhere along the Upper Missouri River in Central Montana.  But, no, I had seen these creatures here before, for they belong to a friend and neighbor just down the road, but they never fail to excite me.  Through them, I see an image of the old west, and of what attracts us to that old West of yesteryear.






                                                           


Jeepin' along...
 
 
 




Saturday, December 20, 2014

Happy Holidays...



May we always keep a little of the Christmas spirit tucked away in our hearts.




Zeke
 
 
2014 Father Christmas

 
 

 
 
 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Four Strong Winds...




Four Strong Winds that blow lonely, Seven seas that run high,
All these things don't change, Come what may...  
                                                                                ~ Ian Tyson


 


Doeskin on eco-print cloth

 



The time of Four Strong Winds  was before the horse on the vast great plains of "America."  It was long before there were sparkling glass beads and colorful trade blankets.  There was just the land, the waters, and the Four Strong Winds...

Weather on the plains was unpredictable and often dangerous for the Plains inhabitants.  Summer brought violent thunderstorms and tornadoes; winter, fierce blizzards blew in from the north and with it immense snowfall.  At other times, searing gale-strength winds raged out of the south to wither the grass and threaten every growing thing. 

But, it was the buffalo that was key to life on the plains.  Gigantic herds roamed the vast range, matching the immensity of land and sky.  In the words of the 19th century zoologist William T. Hornaday:  "It would have been as easy to count the number of leaves in a forest as to calculate the number of buffaloes living at any given time previous to 1890."
Eco print on the cloth provided realistic looking smoke rising from the largest teepee.  Can you see the wee one on the young woman's back? 
 

The tribes...
 

The species, Bison bison...
 




 
 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Tribes...


Thirteen tribes.  I had planned on fourteen, but things got crowded near the top, so "Blackfoot" had to be left off.  The single ply of red floss seemed to behave better than the black, or maybe I just began to get a better feel for the tedious work.  I suppose I should give this map a title..."The Tribes," I think.

 
 




And, what's going on with the robins?  Saturday afternoon, and again on Sunday, but to a lesser degree, a steady stream of robins flew in a southwesterly direction over our house.  There had to be thousands of them, for in the shot below there are about fifty (I tried to count) and that was just what I captured in one click of my camera.  This steady stream went on and on for well over two hours.  I couldn't help wonder where they were going, and what they would eat when they got there?  Surely would take a lot of earth worms!

 

And still they came...  They were close enough that I could see their red breasts.

 


We all watched the flight of the robins above, even Nell, I think, who was quite content to lie at my feet and chew on her new bone.  Early in the summer, there had been a dead deer not far off The Chip Butter Trail. The smell was not pleasant to me, but to Nell it was an invitation to come find a bone to carry home, which she often did, sometimes with my help. (I wrapped the bones in leaves when I carried them.)

Since the hot days of summer, I have been leaving Nell home to guard the place.  And... well... it's hard to think about, but she's past fourteen now and the climb up the trail is hard on an elderly lady, such as she now is.  When I saw this bone on the path, I thought of her, picked it up, and carried it home to my sweet Nell.  I could tell she was delighted. 





Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Autumn's Chill....



There's been a deep chill hanging over our neck of the woods this week, and even a bit of snow... just enough to dust the branches of the gnarly old oaks that are still heavily clad in masses of beautiful golden leaves.
  






It seems a booklet with the title, Four Strong Winds, should surely have at least one map.  I do, in fact, have somewhat of an obsession with maps, so why not stitch one?  Right?  Well, it is proving to be a bit challenging, for all the lettering on this little cloth map will be less than a quarter of an inch in height, and there are many little words yet to be stitched! 

      



And finally, look what friend Dixie Redmond did with the junk that was stored in the Indian cave I wrote about here.  It is gone! Yay!  Thanks to an app. Touch Retouch in which unwanted stuff in photos can be removed.  Oh, if only it could be so easy to be rid of unwanted things in our lives...




Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Muslin and Falling Leaves...





 
 
Muslin + falling leaves = new cloth and lots of surprises, some welcome and some not.  The cloth on the left came out of a pot of black walnut dye.  I was expecting it to look like the cloth I dyed a couple of years ago and used for making Willow's dress. 
 
 
 
Willow dressed in walnut-dyed linen
 
 
 
   

The cloth I am using for this little book is sacking, flour or feed, I am not sure which.  The markings on it are from my very first experiment with eco-dying, soon after I bought my first India Flint book on the subject.

I am ready to turn the page on this little book.  Three buffaloes are enough! 

 

 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

If These Walls Could Talk...






This is the oh, so lovely place I chose to eat "out" for my recent birthday celebration. The weather was perfect, the food was delicious, and the company was good.

After lunch, we went exploring and ended up at an Indian cave nearby, where several years ago archaeological excavations unearthed ancient artifacts, including one skeletal remains of a young woman.  These artifacts are on display at a state university museum - a place on my want-to-visit list. 
 




Even though I had visited this cave before, I had never been inside it, and was amazed to find it so large and spacious.  And, the colors in the rock walls and ceiling all around and above are so, so beautiful.  Those long-ago inhabitants must have felt they had a bonanza here.  If only these walls could talk... 
 
 


The cave is on private property, and the owners seem to be using it for storage.  I would like to Photoshop those things right out of the picture!



My wanderers of The Four Strong Winds are ready to move on to a new place and to a new page.  I almost threw this page into the scrap box, since my original intention was to dress these people in colorful trade blankets. (Those will come along directly.)  But, these good people really wanted to stay in their little book and go on with their story.  I agreed, so now they are dressed in furs and hides just as the bluff dwellers might have been who once made this cave their home. 


 
 
 
 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

"The Happiest Day of the Year..."



"It's my birthday. The happiest day of the year.  Can't you see?  Look at all the presents I have had.  Look at the birthday cake.  Candles and pink sugar.  Can't you see them?"

                                                           ~A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh

Of course, we know that there really was no cake, or candles and pink sugar, and no presents at all for poor, miserable little Eeyore.  But, in the end, it didn't take much to make Eeyore's birthday a happy one.  Perhaps, it was just the "no proper notice" taken of him that mattered most. 

Well, there doesn't seem to be any presents or cakes, or candles and pink sugar around here either, but it would be next to impossible for one to have a miserable birthday on a day like today when the meadows, the ditches, the fences, the mountain sides, the trees, the gardens, and really the whole glorious valley, are all kindled with the fires of autumn.  It really is "The Happiest Day of the Year."




 
And, a little stitching makes it even better.  It seems to me that there may be two different stories emerging here...two little books instead of one.   
 
 
 






Sunday, October 26, 2014

Four Strong Winds...



That was to be the name of the little eight page cloth book I had begun...Four Strong Winds....  For some time,  I had been longing for a piece of cloth to hold in my hands on long winter evenings by the fire - a cloth on which I could stitch. 

William Wordsworth once wrote, "To begin, begin."  So, I did.

A learning curve can sometimes be quite steep, and the fall back down rather hard.  I think that may have happened to me here.  My idea was to do some weaving in stitch, Jude Hill style of course, something like this... Colorful, but warm, trade blankets to wrap around the shoulders of the wanderers of The Four Strong Winds.







I embroidered row upon row using an outline stitch, depicting warp, over which I would weave, by stitch, the weft.  As I stitched, it kept coming to mind that I might not be able to find my way when I began to weave across.  But, I stitched on....  And, now I am lost.   I will try again.  But, I would have never known if I hadn't tried.  My mother used to say, "There never was an ill wind that didn't blow some good."  I think I see the good...




And, along the Chip Butter Trail, the Upper Pond is ablaze with color, although, I think, not as beautiful as last year.




The weaning heifers have been vaccinated, branded, and given their permanent ID numbers.  The Little Twig is such a beauty, and is showing signs of becoming a herd leader, just as her mother is.  Here she is in the center chewing on a "twig" of grass, and, secondly, in the chute, behaving quite well.  Way to go #24. 

At the end of the day, my boots and pants legs were covered in cow manure.  I told The Old Indian that I surely did feel like a real cowgirl.  He said, "I think you are."






Monday, October 13, 2014

Rainy Day...



There have been three of them, one after the other...rainy days that is, and I have loved them all...soothes the soul, I think.  It was a wet and cool walk over the trail today... first day for the old green coat since last spring.  I almost skipped the walk today, but oh what I would have missed!
 
 
 
Webs and Water...

A bit of color at the pond
 
Twins...
 
Fence along the trail (which was finished a few weeks back)...
 
 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Ribbons and Bows...


When my mother told my dad that he had taught me to tie "wrong," I am quite sure I was as unconcerned as any three or four year old would have been.  After all, my dad was an old navy guy and we all know those guys are trained in the art of tying and know all about knots (both as a unit of speed at sea and as a way of securing things).  Dad's way was so easy...left lace over right, pulled back under, loop over thumb, other string over the top, and second loop pushed back through.  And, from that day forth, to this very day, I have proudly tied my own shoes, Dad's way, hundreds, even thousands of times, for I have almost always worn shoes with laces. Mother's admonishment seemed to be unfounded until...


 

I began to tie bows other than on my shoes.  There were sashes to be tied into bows on our little girl's dresses, Christmas bows on festive boxes and wreaths, and beautiful ribbons and bows to tie up the hair.  The bows I tied were not pretty.  The ends of the ribbon wouldn't hang down like they should, and at least one of the ends would end up over the top of one of the loops.  If "Daddy" was home, I told our little daughter to have him tie her sashes, and I often called on him for help with those special bows I wanted to make.  I watched his every twist and turn, and tried to tie exactly as he had done, but old habits, those that have been repeated thousands of times, are hard to break. 








She ties her hair up in ribbons and bows...