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, September 29, 2015

Hallie Pearle...

Somehow, Hallie Pearle has made her way...  She's not perfect, but then, I'm not sure perfection is something I am striving for.  I pondered on and on about the hair she would have, and even swiped away the first she wore.  In the end, she got sculpted hair made from cotton floss and paste, pulled back on the side and caught with an old button....thankfully no bow to tie!  Sculpted hair is such a final thing...no tweaking here and there.

She has borrowed clothing from the dolls' stash as we ponder what she will wear.  She's going to be a fussy one to dress for she's already changed three times this morning!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Oh Fall, How I Love Thee...

Let me count the ways...  (Photos taken in 2012 and 2013)

 It may be another month before we get much color...hoping for a good one!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

May I Call You Thoreau...

It was here that the red-tailed hawk soared overhead, then suddenly dropped sharply  to alight on a bale of hay, undoubtedly in search of prey.  Though I marveled at its beauty, agility, and grace, I thought of how my grandmother loathed every hawk that dared to threaten her barnyard flock of laying hens.

With nothing but time on my hands as we raked and baled hay*, I began to think about eagles and falcons and a book, My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, which was a favorite of fifth graders when once upon a time I was their teacher. The story is about a boy who runs away from home (and as far as I know none of my students ever ran away) to spend a year alone in the Catskill Mountains where a peregrine falcon becomes his companion and provider.

Later, that evening, I climbed the stairs to the attic room to find that old book, and went to sleep that night with Sam and Frightful as they were sleeping in their snug winter home carved from a huge hollow tree deep in a hemlock forest on a lonely mountainside somewhere in the Catskill Mountains.

In this book, Ms. George explains in detail many of the edible foods that Sam harvested from the forest, and methods of preparing those foods.  From start to finish, it is a book filled with information on surviving in the wild.  And, of course, the training of a falcon is paramount.  It was quite fitting that a visitor to Sam's mountain asked him simply, "May I call you Thoreau?" It's a good read, not only for the young, but also for those of us who like to think young.

While I was upstairs, in the research room, as it has been dubbed by a certain fellow around here, I looked at other books on the shelves and realized how many of them deal with studies of nature.  It is, undoubtedly, something that holds great appeal for me.  I like to think that I am a student of nature, and that the class will go on forever....

Sam could have used this one...

My most valued resources... even though electronic devices have become quite valuable too.

Informative and inspiring...

* As of yesterday, the haying is finished for this year!  Yay!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Give Us Our Porch Back...

Love is like a butterfly: It goes where it pleases and it pleases wherever it goes.  ~Author Unknown

 It has been a big year here for butterflies and hummingbirds.  And, what a joy they have been!

 But, in the opinion of the Mr. here at Chip Butter White Oak, the year has been way too big as far as hummingbirds go.  He has even gone so far as to say that he will be glad when they are gone, so we can have our porch back. Well, it is true that these little red and green jewels have pretty much taken over the porch where the feeders are hanging.  At times the air seems to be filled with buzzing clouds of hummingbirds.

It is a bewilderment how a little creature so small, with an average weight of only 0.12 to 0.13 ounce can consume so much.  Since late March, almost six 25-pound bags of pure cane sugar have gone into the making of  the sweet syrup used in the feeders.  Now, at around $12 per bag, we do have somewhat of an investment in these little critters.   It sometimes makes me rethink my decision to start feeding them during the drought of 2012. But, they were so hungry!

In addition to the feeders, they have also feasted on the almost endless supply of nectar from the flower gardens.  Bat Faced Cuphea (Cuphea llavea) in the photos below was new to the gardens this year, and was a hummingbird favorite.  It is an annual, so I hope I will be able to find it again next year.

With cooler weather bearing down upon us this evening, these little darlings will surely know that the time is drawing near for their long trip south.  In 2014, the last little hummer was spotted here on October 3, with most having left the previous couple of weeks.  To be sure, the porch will soon be eerily quiet and we will have our porch back.  In the mean time, we will be bidding these little ruby-throated critters farewell, and wishing them safe travels. See you next year, little fellows!

Look at that long tongue...

Bat-Faced Cuphea

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

"As For Clothing...

...to come at once to the practical part of the question, perhaps we are led oftener by the love of novelty and a regard for the opinions of men, in procuring it, than by a true utility."  ~Henry David Thoreau

What to wear?  That seems to be a question I am asking myself more and more these days.  I really am in need of a few pieces of clothing...something to wear should I have need to dress up a bit.  I have almost given up shopping for clothing, for I can find almost nothing satisfactory to me. I have a mental list of criteria that clothing must meet before it will even be considered.  It must be made of cotton, linen, or wool; must not be too bold, solid colors preferred, but may not be pink; must not fit too tightly, must have pockets...  I would like to add, "Must be made in the USA," but that would probably mean that I would have to sew it myself in my own sewing room in the USA (which I am considering).

When I was making the clothing for this little cloth and clay doll, I couldn't help but think how I would like to have an outfit exactly like this, made from walnut-dyed linen, in my size, of course.  I wouldn't even mind the lace-up boots!  (I would never dress a doll in something I wouldn't wear myself.)

Among the clothes in my closet are a few old standbys, many of which date back twenty or more years.  Day after day, I find myself reaching for the same well-worn old pair of pants and frayed-bottom shirts. Not that I mind frayed hems and edges, nor a mended rent or two, for that matter. Henry David once wrote, "Every day our garments become more assimilated to ourselves, receiving the impress of the wearer's character, until we hesitate to lay them aside.  No man ever stood the lower in my estimation for having a patch on his clothes; yet I am sure that there is greater anxiety, commonly, to have fashionable, or at least clean and unpatched clothes, than to have a sound conscience."

My mother valued cloth, and, as far as I know, never threw away a single piece.  She had an uncanny knack for re-purposing old garments into something new and uselful.  She even shredded scraps of cloth for stuffing pillows.  It is concerning that we view almost everything these days as being disposable, even our clothing...here today, gone tomorrow (gone along with an estimated 12 million tons of textile waste per year in North American landfills).  India Flint says, "By making do with having a bit less as well as making that "less" last longer, each person can do something useful, simply by moderating their impact on the planet." You know, now that I think about, I really don't think I need anything new at all......

There was a time when all of my clothes were made at home.  In the old photo below my cousin Joy (on the left) and I are dressed up in our homemade dresses for our very first day of school... first grade.  My mother made my dress and our grandmother made Joy's, both sewn on treadle sewing machines. Joy's dress, as I remember it, was made from a dark red dotted swiss and trimmed in lace...very pretty.  I still have the dress I was wearing, complete with attached collar with self-fabric ruffle, puffed sleeves, back tie sashes, and closed in the back with a continuous lap placket without a seam, and beautifully hand stitched buttonholes.  This little dress is my go-to when I want to see how it should be done.

Recommended reading :  Second Skin ~ choosing and caring for textiles and clothing, India Flint
and, of course, Walden, Henry David Thoreau