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..."


Friday, January 30, 2015

January, The Door To The Year...Gone...



It's hard to believe that the first month of this brand new year is already gone. January, the door to the year...gone.  She wasn't the nasty one that she sometimes is, but, instead, quite meek and gentle.  I have to admit, if goals weren't all reached, January was not to blame...



She gave us rainy days, icy days, and windy days...perfect days for staying inside...to read a good book or to work with needle and thread.


And, she gave us warm, sunny days...perfect days for being outside...to go hiking or to get the gardens ready for spring planting .



When I read, I sometimes stop to jot down a word, or line, or sometimes an entire passage that I want to remember or to learn more about.  Over today's lunch, as I was reading from Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop, I found myself reaching for one of my little notebook journals to copy the following lines:

"Coming along the Santa Fe Trail, in the vast plains of Kansas, Father Latour had found the sky more a desert than the land; a hard, empty blue, very monotonous to the eyes of a Frenchman.  But west of the Pecos all that changed; here there was always activity overhead, clouds forming and moving all day long.  Whether they were dark and full of violence, or soft and white with luxurious idleness, they powerfully affected the world beneath them.  The desert, the mountains and mesas, were continually re-formed and re-coloured by the cloud shadows.  The whole country seemed fluid to the eye under the constant change of accent, this ever-varying distribution of light."

Strange that I just happened to read  this passage on a day when the old cowboy and I, as we were out and about, couldn't seem to take our eyes off the skies above that were so active with clouds..."soft and white with luxurious idleness."

A little later a friend wrote, "Are you stuffing dolls today?  Have you noticed how the sky is filled with bits and pieces of Polyfil?"

Polyfil, yes, and marshmallows, too!  The clouds may have reminded me of marshmallows, somewhat, because a couple of days ago, I had researched remedies for a sore throat and found that eating marshmallows can soothe a sore throat.  Really?  That sounded too good to be true, and definitely more appealing than a warm salt-water gargle.  It seems that the Egyptians used the root of the marshmallow plant as a sore throat remedy, and to treat other maladies.  Today's modern marshmallows no longer contain any marshmallow root, but are made mainly of sugar, gelatin and water.  Even so, some still claim that marshmallows can sooth a sore throat.  It surely was worth a try!  And, that's all I have to say about that...

At times like this, I often quote from one of my favorite books ever, Eric Knight's Lassie Come-Home.  "When human beings are ill. they often make a show of their injuries and parade them so that others may see and give them sympathy.  It is just the reverse with an animal living in its natural state.  Asking no sympathy, deeming rather that weakness of any kind is something to be ashamed of, it crawls away into some hidden corner and there, alone, it awaits the outcome.....either recovery or death.

Good thing there were a few marshmallows left over from the Christmas ambrosia......











Saturday, January 24, 2015

Wrapped in blankets...






These little people, who are just stitched on cloth, should be happy to be dressed so well.  The woven wool blankets in which they are wrapped could well be original Indian trade blankets imported by the Hudson's Bay Company from English woolen mills.  From 1780 to 1890 the multi-striped point blanket was a staple in every fur trader's inventory and thousands upon thousands found their way into indigenous hands.

Or the blankets these people are wearing could be Navajo blankets. In the 1700's the Navajo tribe of the American Southwest wove sheep's wool into classic wearing blankets that became coveted trade items.

However, when the Indian Wars ended in 1890 and the reservation system began, federally licensed Indian trading posts were established and began selling machine-made blankets to the Indians.  The Navajo ceased making wearing blankets and began to weave the Navajo rug, which was a much heavier textile than the traditional Navajo wearing blanket.  These rugs were designed specifically for the floors of non-Indian homes.  The result was "Indians selling rugs to whites and whites selling Indian blankets to Native Americans - a practice that continues to this day.  For over a hundred and ten years Indian blankets has been made for Indians, not by them." (Barry Friedman)

                                                                     
Mary Dwyer McAboy (1876 - 1961) of Missoula, Montana also knew how to dress a doll, that is, an American Indian doll. Each one was wrapped in an Indian-style folded blanket so that it looked like they had folded arms.  Her Skookum dolls were first made in 1913 and were produced into the 1960's.  The wonderful old Skookum dolls pictured below are some of my favorites from my own collection.
 



 
 
 

Friday, January 16, 2015

What's Beside Your Chair...







What's beside a person's chair tells a lot about that person... his interests, dreams, and ambitions.  Beside my chair, there is a basket which holds my favorite magazines, whatever book I am reading at any given time (Yes, I still like turning paper pages), a calendar on which I record daily events, a small spiral bound notebook - a journal of sorts, and an iPad.

When our daughter gave us an iPad for Christmas a couple of years ago, I remember asking, "What will we do with it?"  What, indeed...  My old, worn and ragged Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, which, before the iPad revolutionized our lives, was always beside my chair, has now been retired to another space in another room.  There's still an old set of World Book Encyclopedia, copyright 1963, upstairs in the "Research Room," as the Old Cowboy once named the attic room, but we hardly ever climb the stairs anymore to go "look something up."  As our little granddaughter says, we just reach for the iPad and "goo-goo" it.  However, the whole internet thing seems almost too good to be true...quite fragile, really. I think I might just hang on to the old dictionary, and keep the steps to the upstairs attic room swept off, just in case....

And, of course, I like to keep a bit of stitching beside my chair. At least visitors know which chair is mine...








Saturday, January 10, 2015

On Creativity...










"A Life's work is always unfinished and requires creativity till the day a person dies.  Even if you've managed major accomplishments throughout your life and don't really need a model for making a mark, you do need one for enriching an ongoing existence."

     ~Molly Peacock, The Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins her Life's Work at 72

                                                                             
Mary Delany (1700 - 1788) was an English Bluestocking, artist, letter-writer, and avid gardener, who was also talented at needlework, drawing, painting, and cutting paper, but she was best known for her paper cutting.  In 1771 in her early 70s, as a way of dealing with grief, Mary began to create cut-out paper art works which were exceptionally detailed and botanically accurate depictions of plants. She created 1700 of these works calling them her "Paper Mosaiks" from the age of 71 to 88, when her eyesight failed her.

Some time ago, I had jotted down these notes on a journal page, which has become somewhat of a habit, or pleasure, when I run across something that catches my interest.  What an inspiring story!    Molly Peacock's The Paper Garden is, for certain, on the Chip Butter reading list for 2015...  Not that I plan to cut paper!