I went into a deep dive yesterday into one artist whose work graces my walls. Lula Moser is not the only talented individual who makes me happy every time I look at an object. And, of course, there are things by people I don’t know personally, but I’m surprised at how many of the objects in both my homes are by family members, friends, or acquaintances.
Today I share a few from the Austin house, like the one above, which I just got last month. I just had to have this plate by my friend Pamela Neeley, because it helps my house look like an extension of the woods, which must be the subliminal theme of both houses.
The beautiful print of violets was done by my former friend Renice at the time of my first wedding in 1990. It’s followed me around and been the base for many room color schemes since then.
While it’s a little abstract, this pod by one of my women’s group members from the UU church in Urbana, Illinois, still fits with the nature theme. I am so happy I have not managed to break it. I love the contrast between the rough bottom and smooth top.
I can’t forget fiber arts! Our guest room includes a lovely quilt made for me by Alice Sessions and her late mother, Jackie van Voris. I wanted a red and green quilt that didn’t look Christmasy and that fit with all my plant art. This one fit the bill perfectly (I won it in a services auction; what a prize!)
And at the bottom of the above image is one non-nature theme treasure, made by Carolyn Dower, which I always keep in my bedroom to remind me to keep my music in my heart. The bell makes the music real. If anyone wonders whether I appreciate hand-made gifts, the answer is a firm yes.
And as for me
Most of my non-knitted projects (I used to knit A LOT) have flowers in them, like my beautiful petit point project, which is even in a frame hand-made by my ex and a good friend. It occurs to me that art is not just in my house for beauty; it’s also there to keep the memories of the people I have loved in my life close to me and alive.
I guess I’m not much of a person who picks art and accessories to match the house! The house has to conform to my art. And it’s not clutter. It’s beloved treasure. So there.
I think I have too many reference materials. But I tell you what, I like that I’ve become so curious about the things I run across that I look into lots and lots of details. Today I’ll share what I learned about a humble painter of ceramics. And hey, if you know anyone from Gainesville, Florida, ask them about her.
I grew up in a house full of china with flowers all over it. My mother had a really impressive collection of decorative plates, cups, and saucers displayed throughout our home, and many sets of china, which my sister and I split. I can’t believe my brother and I didn’t break things, but I think we had a deep fear of touching breakable objects instilled in us from an early age.
Mom had a strong set of likes, and those likes were very much like her embroidery themes: flowers, leaves, and more flowers. She had ONE plate with a person on it, this haunting blue scene of an 1890s style woman looking off in the distance. Of course I still have that. The blue lady originally belonged to my grandmother, so I know it’s old, but my limited French has stymied my attempt to pin down dates based on the back of the plate.
So, where did Mom get all those flowery items?
The mysterious Lula E. Moser
My mother really liked hand-painted china (ceramics, really). She especially adored the work of one of her friends in Gainesville, Lula Moser. I can remember driving to her house more than once to get ceramics and painted china from her. I had a white bunny with blue eyes for years, which I think is the only non-flower item they ever got.
Mom had many, many plates with painted pansies or violets on them. The photos I’m sharing are NOT all of them by any means. As you may have guessed, I got most of them, because I happen to also like pansies and violets. This has led to all of my houses having something to do with flowers in their theme, since that’s what I have and I love it. When I see all those Lula E. Moser plates, I think of Mom, just like with the embroidery she did.
I always wondered who Lula Moser was and why they were always visiting. So, who was Lula E. Moser? Good question. She was not a famous artist, but she sure loved painting ceramics. She was of my grandmother’s generation (born on my birthday, March 5, in 1903, in Ohio), and my sister tells me she lived in one of those lovely old houses across from the duck pond (also known as my favorite place on this here earth). Canova also said Lula was a beautiful woman with very white hair.
From my sleuthing I discovered she was briefly married to a man named Frank Parker (an Austrian, originally named Frank Joseph Paukert), who was a television camera operator way back in the 50s. I actually found this info on his naturalization form when he became a US citizen.
Most of her life, though, Lula lived alone in a big house, painting ceramics and talking to my grandmother and mother. My sister says that on most visits, they came home with a new object.
Lula died in 1989 and is buried in Ohio, where apparently the rest of her family lived. Why did she stay in Gainesville all those years, alone? A woman of mystery. Maybe I’ll name the woman on my blue plate Lula.
Just wanted to share that the owl seems to have literally flown the coop, and we haven’t lost a chicken in a couple of weeks.
As you can see, they are looking happy. Buckbeak is glowing! We have at least ten left.
And we are now getting ONE egg per day! 100% improvement over zero! Let’s hope things keep picking up from here. I’m still looking into coops, but it’s sorta complicated.
Other bird news
I saw a cool bird sight on my way back from feeding the chickens yesterday. I stopped to punch in the gate code and heard a lot of commotion. Much screeching and cawing. I saw half a dozen of our large crows yelling at a hawk, who was yelling back.
It looked like the hawk had robbed the crows of something. The crows took turns pecking until one of them got the hawk away from crow territory. That crow kept circling back and making it very clear that Crows Rule!
Look at this Austin sunset! We’re having a bumper crop this year!
Here’s a doggie who could use your thoughts for a while. Our poor Brody always seems to get the bad end of his brotherly altercations with the other dogs (mostly Harvey; they are so well matched that they have never been able to decide who’s number one).
Last week they had their monthly battle while I was in Austin, so I missed it. Lee said Harvey bit Brody on the foot, causing it to bleed. He got that stopped, but Brody still can’t put weight on his foot. Of course, the day the vet was in town happened to be the day Lee was stuck at the ranch because of the rain.
We’re pretty sure he has a broken toe, and since you can’t really put a dog toe in a case, we are just treating him with pain killers and rest.
Well, we try to get him to rest, but he has figured out how to run and jump and perform all his usual antics on just three legs. We went on a long walk yesterday, and he even took off after a rabbit.
Unfortunately, Carlton, the very white dog, also took off after it. The rabbit went through the spring that’s been flowing again since all the rain started the past few months. Carlton came back very strongly resembling a dalmatian. He had fun, though.
A bonus horse story
The horses had less fun in the mud. There is a spot near where they usually eat that has mud like a foot deep. Both Apache and Spice have slipped in it and nearly fell. When Spice did it, she ran off, splattering Sara’s back with another dalmatian effect! Nonetheless, we have found the water hazards that have popped up are great horse confidence builders. Apache is always really proud of himself when he gathers his courage and marches across a big puddle.
I’ll get those photos taken and continue with the arts and crafts series next!
I had a post for yesterday, but I need an image from Austin, so it will have to wait. Instead, here’s a weather report!
There’s strange fog this morning. It was clear at sunrise. Lee said it was a glorious orange. (I slept through it.) But now it’s getting foggier and foggier. You can’t see the field across the road.
I’m guessing this is the rising temperatures and very damp soil are causing this rare midday fog. It’s definitely warmed up, and we’re enjoying a respite from yet another round of floods last week (you know it’s been wet when heavy flooding doesn’t even warrant a photo).
Speaking of weird weather
I wish my camera could have captured what greeted my eyes yesterday. Looking out the same front window you see above, I saw an intensely sunny morning. It had gotten cool enough to cause a heavy frost, which completely covered the field across the road, which has a cover crop a few inches high on it.
The sun was at just the right angle to make the frost shine like crystals. The result was an amazing shiny, sparkly field instead of green rye.
It wouldn’t photograph through the window screen, and it would not have looked the same from ground level, so it’s just a memory to savor for me, and something to imagine for you. Not a bad thing!
One thing my genealogy forays didn’t turn up is the fact that I’m descended from a long line of artists, mostly fiber arts, but many other types as well. What got me thinking of this was looking around my Bobcat Lair rooms and realizing that most all of the art is by someone I know, much of it by relatives. Granted, some of it may be “crafts” to some of you (needlework kits and such), but it’s all art to me, because the makers had lots of design decisions to make, even in a kit.
Let me introduce you to a few of my talented family members, then I’ll share some art by friends and acquaintances in another post. Note that most of the pictures don’t go with the text, since some of the things I talk about don’t have photos to go with them.
My maternal side in Florida was a bunch of crazed crafters/artists. The foremost in my mind was my great-aunt Susan Canova. Because of her mental health issues, she was mostly confined to her home (she liked to take stuff). But she made a living for herself by creating amazing table cloths, beadspreads, blankets, curtains and trim. I am happy to have a number of pieces of her tatting, a linen tablecloth with filet crochet borders, and other treasures. She was very productive, and I think it’s really cool that she made a good life for herself despite her problems.
While I’m working on a longer post, which may be a series of posts, I thought I’d share what struck me as I went out to the car to go to work this morning: you don’t have to go far to be in awe of natural beauty. I just looked across the street and saw the neighbor’s tangle of overgrown plants practically glowing in the gray, rainy light. I love how he has managed to convince the landscapers to keep the greenery so high and full.
Then, I literally turned around and saw little jewels. The ball moss in the crepe myrtle was shining and shimmering against the dark bark and dark cedars behind it. It probably would have glistened more if the sun were out, but I was quite charmed by what I did see, so I tried to capture it in pictures.
I guess Anita was up to the same thing inside the house, because she took this photo of how beautifully the roses have opened up in our cheerful post-Christmas flower arrangement. That bouquet has definitely helped cheer up the Bobcat Lair during the dreariness of 2019 so far (I hear it will clear up this afternoon).
As an aside, I love how the grocery store advertises the fact that there is a straw bow around each of these arrangements. They are “hand tied!” Woo! I’m pretty sure the other arrangements are “hand taped” to hold the plastic on them, too. I guess you take what you can get to differentiate flowers and charge a dollar more.
We are in the middle of no one’s favorite season in the Hill Country of Texas, and that’s the “Cedar Fever” season. According to many news reports, this was supposed to be one of the worst seasons ever. If you’re reading from outside of Texas, you may be saying, “What the heck?”
Lots of people call the tree found all along our hills Mountain Cedar, but it’s really Ashe Juniper. I first noticed them, like many new residents, during my first winter in the area. I was walking my baby around the neighborhood, which was still under construction, looking at all the limestone and stuff, when the tree in front of me started to smoke! I said some version of, “What the heck,” and called my La Leche League co-Leader (the only native Texan I knew) to ask her what was up. “Ah, the cedar is pollinating,” she told me.
What is this plant? The Ashe Juniper has been around this area since before Europeans showed up, but it’s thought that they spread out of their native “cedar brakes” to take up more of the area once cattle showed up and messed with the delicate balance of native grasses and trees. Thanks, Euro-Americans.
Well, according to the calendar used by most of the world, it’s a new year. I celebrate it as the day I start scratching out the wrong year and changing it to the right one. And it’s a day off, so this is the only blog I’m writing in.
At least we got a lovely show from Mother Nature last night, as the sunset was pretty darned spectacular. I enjoyed seeing many views of the same clouds from different places in my Facebook feed. Since some of you readers may not be in central Texas, I’m sharing a couple of my photos. I especially like the stripey one by the hill.
Speaking of Blog Readers
Since this is the first year of this blog (though the Hermits’ Rest Ranch Facebook page goes back a lot further, to October 25, 2014), I thought it would be interesting to check out how we’re doing, readership- and fan-wise.