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, May 4, 2018

A Backyard Retreat...

The Shanty now has steps and a dry stacked stone underpinning.  We gathered the stones from around the place and worked at putting them together somewhat like a jigsaw puzzle.  It was fun, but tiring work.  Of course, I am no stranger to working with rocks!

The hummingbirds are here...quite frankly by the droves, it seems.  And, they are hungry!  The native honeysuckle is now starting to bloom, so these little beauties will spend a lot of time in the thickets for the next month.  When the masses return, they will bring their young, and that's when the real work of feeding them begins.  In preparation for this time, I have planted a hummingbird garden at the back of the Shanty just for them.

Building a backyard retreat has made me think of Marie Antoinette. (Not that my little retreat compares in any way to that of a queen.)  She had everything, or so it seemed.  Her father was an Emperor.  Her husband was king (King Louis XVI of France).  She was queen.  But, according to stories, Versailles suffocated her.  "She hated the acres of ormolu, miles of mirrors, and armies of flatterers."  She yearned for an innocent and simple life.  And, almost got it!

Off in the woods, far from Versailles, she built another world, a retreat, for herself.  She "created a tiny hamlet of farms, cowsheds, private apartments with thatched roofs, dairies, vegetable gardens, a ballroom in the form of a barn; a little gleaming river, even a secluded meadow."  I can only imagine what the aristocracy might have thought of milking a cow!

But, we'll not be milking a cow here at out little retreat.  We'll watch the birds and smell the roses.  And, the girls and their dolls will dress up and come for a tea party. (After school is out for summer vacation in a couple of weeks.)

Valley is especially excited to have been invited to the event, for she is now all dressed up in her new outfit, complete with fitted bodice, animal print trim, and skirts finished with  ruffled hems.

I have spent a ridiculous amount of time making this doll over, but I thought she was worth saving.  Originally her head was too large for her body, and she had a hard time of sitting up.

I remade her with larger bodice, legs and feet, and then, of course, larger clothing.  And now, she does sit nicely which will be a good thing when she attends the party!


  1. Your backyard retreat is little slice of heaven. You all did wonderful with the stones. Looks very professional and well planned. I could sit on that porch all the live-long-day and pass-the-time-away.
    I can't get over all those hummingbirds. It must be a joy to watch them flying, feeding and playing.
    Valley is a beautiful girl. You're a true doll artist. Your dolls come to life with such character and charm.
    I hope you and Valley have many tea parties and days of leisure in your backyard retreat.

  2. My goodness, what a peaceful, lovely post! Your retreat looks like heaven to me. It is beautiful! The stone foundation is amazing! The sweet hummers are a favorite of mine and I must put up my feeder. Valley is beautiful in her new outfit---well done in restoring her to good health! Have a lovely weekend. ♥

  3. such a pretty place. love the stones. Everything there is pretty. Valley is so pretty too. Her outfit is wonderful and she looks just right. I know your grand children will enjoy tea parties in your little retreat and you will too. the tiny hummers are so sweet and we love to see them. bless you for all your help to them.

  4. What a sweet post. Love your retreat, - I'm sure you will spend many a happy hour there.

  5. Such a joy to visit the retreat is a delight, worth all the hard work I am sure. Afternoon tea in all your finery sounds wonderful, I wish I could join you.

  6. It's always exciting to see a post from you. The Shanty is absolutely perfect. I love the stone underpinning. That was a job, for sure! I have never in my life seen so many hummingbirds in one place! We get excited here in late summer when the babies are about grown and come to the feeders...thinking wow! so many! There will be maybe eight or ten. :) Valley is beautiful!

  7. You know I'd love a tea party! Your shanty makes me want one too. :) Valley is so sweet; love those shoes!

  8. Such a delightful post !
    Your new retreat is perfect, I love everything about it, the colors the stacked stones, the sweet little porch....
    We have Hummingbirds but nothing like yours, that's a lot of nectar to keep up with !

  9. I love watching hummingbirds. We don't have many, but I did see two last year. Maybe I should buy a feeder and see if I can attract them to the garden. Love your little barn and that stone really looks nice.
    Have a sweet day.
    Connie :)

  10. Your backyard retreat looks inviting and it seems the hummingbirds are enjoying the feeders you've hung. I've never seen so many hummingbirds gathered in one place, beautiful. I can only imagine seeing that many. We are fortunate to have a couple come to our garden. It will be the perfect place for the girls to enjoy their tea party.

  11. I have Hummingbird-envy and look forward to some close-up photos if you can manage them Chip. Sadly our stable Swallows appear to have perished crossing the Sahara on their way back here for the summer - there are a few in the farm buildings next door, but none of "ours" which is very sad and I really miss them. They are one of my favourite birds.

    Do you make your wonderful dolls from scratch?

    I love your retreat and I am sure Marie Antoinette would have approved.

    1. I'll work on getting a good close-up photo of the little birds. By hiding out inside the Shanty I am much closer to all the birds. Of course, I must first clean the windows! The dolls are cloth with a paper clay head. It's a lot of fun, but I am slow at the work. I usually get bogged down when I start sewing the clothing. The granddaughters are really wanting one of my dolls, so that's my next project...maybe by Christmas!

    2. I can't imagine what a treacherous journey it must be for the stable swallows to cross the Sahara. We will hope that they may still show up! I worry about our little birds crossing the Gulf of Mexico, but it had never occurred to me that birds must cross the great deserts. Migrating is a dangerous thing!

  12. To be honest, I've always thought of your entire acreage as a retreat--all those trees. (Can you tell I miss trees?) But I love the little cottage, the hummingbirds, and the idea of the girls at a tea party!!! What a fine place you guys have made.