Monday, August 30, 2010

Rain and Rainy Day Projects

While the whole eastern seaboard keeps an eye on Hurricane Earl, I can heartily say that I'm tired of rain!!! Our neighbor came across the street this morning to tell us that according to his gauge we've received 8 inches of rain since Friday morning. That's enough. It has been gray and cloudy, or raining, for days. We actually had a bit of sunshine this morning and it was wonderful. Everything is just so saturated!!! My poor yard was already in sad shape, thanks to too much rain last summer, and now all this rain is causing even more damage. I suspect it has a terrible case of root rot. Whatever, it looks pathetic. Got to do something about this or by next year ALL the grass will be gone!!

During this rainy time, I've been working on a quilt for my brother. He owns a small farm/ranch and is very much into the cowboy/farm/ranch life. Sold his longhorns a while back but still has his cows and several horses. Since the new lady came into his life, there are even more horses around the place!!

Anyway, I'd originally planned the quilt using a mid-range blue fabric and a grassy looking fabric that had gold and brown tones in it. However, upon measuring the blue fabric I discovered I didn't have enough to make the quilt. When I went shopping to see if I could find something to replace it, I had no luck. Instead I found another darker blue that also looked pretty good. I let myself be influenced to get the darker blue and also the same grassy fabric but in a colorway that was more distinct and had darker blue in it. I shoulda known better. Once I got the blocks put together, I wasn't real happy with how they looked. But, since all the fabric is already cut there is no way I'm going to take it apart and redo it. Guess I should learn that lesson with this quilt.

Here are two looks at part of the blocks in different arrangements.

The quilt is coming together quite easily and I'll be making the final layout decisions soon I think.

My birdwatching buddy will be home from California in a couple of days. Just in time too, because the fall migration is getting underway. There are reports of wonderful birdwatching at some of the nearby hot spots. Will be good to have her back.

Y'all take care.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Birds and Sun Baked Brains

Last Saturday morning I dragged myself out of bed and met up with some fellow birdwatchers over at the beach. I was so pleased with myself in that I had gotten up and was ready to see some birds before 8 a.m. when I figured the others would be arriving. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered that, no, I was not the first one there. Not by a long shot.

All the others had actually seen the sun rise that morning at about 5:40 a.m. AT THE BEACH and they have pictures to prove it! Took the wind right out of my sails. Some had been counting birds for hours by that time. Now, who in their right mind gets up early enough to drive 30 miles and pay a $4 toll (one way) and STILL get to the beach in time to take pictures of a sunrise at 5:40 a.m.?????? I told them we were all totally nuts to be out there in that heat anyway, and they truly agreed. By the time we decided to call it a day around 10:45 a.m., it was about 92 degrees and, I swear, the humidity had to be 75% giving us a heat index of well over 100. It was brutal. Frankly, I think that wasn't the only time somebody had been out in the hot sun too long!!!! Brains got fried somewhere along the way, don't you think? Oh well, I guess we all have our foibles, and yes, I've done equally insane things before and hopefully will do them again. :)

Shore and water birds are a big mystery to me. I am a total neophyte when it comes to their identification and I got busy trying to see all the ones that were being pointed out and didn't take pictures much at all. The only bird I got was a juvenile great blue (I think) and he obliged by just standing still for a while.

You should see the pictures the other two girls took, though. WOW doesn't even begin to cover it. I've got to hang out more with those two and maybe they can teach me a trick or ten!!

We did see thousands of black terns on the island, however. They've finished their breeding and are gathering along the coast before making the long overwater journey to their winter grounds. Some do stay here along the coast all winter. There seemed to be lots of brown pelicans, too. We saw a Great Ibis, great blue heron, green heron, tri-color heron and a reddish heron. Saw an osprey in the distance. The first belted kingfisher of the season was spotted sailing by. We have them regularly in the winter but I hadn't seen one since spring. Oh, and the black bellied plovers were beautiful. I may have seen them before, but it didn't register in my pea brain.

When we got over to Opal Beach on the sound side, we were at first appalled to see little round balls floating on the water and washed up in a line along the shore. After picking some of them up, we immediately thought "oil". The BP crews were actually working along the gulf side beach very near to where we were. Our leader and I jumped in the car and sped back to the staging area and were lucky enough to find a supervisor with time to come check the siting. Good thing. Turns out that the little round balls were some kind of vegetation. They've been seeing them for weeks. We were SO GLAD!!! Oil has not been spotted in the sound this far from the gulf outlets and it would have been a tragic occurrence had it indeed been tar balls.

You can see why we all had our hearts in our throats when we first saw this stuff!!

I found out from one of the girls that our county offers a master naturalist certification and I'm going to pursue that. I'd done some checking but the sources I'd seen did not list our county. Glad I was wrong on that one.

During the summer, I spend way too much time inside. Here in Florida it gets very hot and humid and it totally does me in. Folks who work out in it say that it gets easier, and you get somewhat used to it, but I don't believe it. I think they do it because they have to and, given a choice, they'd be inside with me!! That's exactly why we normally take off for the summer and miss all this lovely weather. I'd much rather head out in the cold than try to brave this heat. Okay, I'll hush up my whining -- at least for the moment.

Now, a bit of good news. One of Hubby's medical issues can be dealt with surgically and is scheduled for mid-September. Once the healing has taken place, his quality of life should improve tremendously and, hence, mine by extension. Today was a very good day after hearing that news. I'm not ready to give up my wandering about the country, and perhaps the globe, but it couldn't happen until this issue was addressed.

Y'all take care.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Brothers, Birds, Booty, and Stuff

Where to begin?? Today I finally solved the problem of the photo transfer from the camera to the computer. Required an update to the camera software. Still blows my mind that it worked just fine one day and then didn't work at all the next. Did you know that Nikon has service call centers in the Dominican Republic?

After having no interest in sewing for at least a couple of months, I'm now revved up and ready to go. While we were visiting the kids in the midwest, I did my share to support the economy -- particularly quilt shops. I came home with a wonderful batch of fabric, some of which is already being put to use.

The quality control inspectors, Roxie and Cassie, were right there as everything was taken out of the bags just make sure it met critical standards. Figured I was going to have to ship it home because the Little Red Car's boot was pretty full, but with some refolding was able to fit it all in one box except for a length of prequilted fabric which was just too fluffy.

I've been working on my brother's quilt, figuring fabric and cutting fabric. I've even made the center portion of the blocks using photographs of his "life and times", so to speak. He's gonna be absolutely blown away when I give this thing to him. (At least I certainly hope so.) Before the past winter ended we were talking and I mentioned that I was working on a quilt. His comment was, and I quote, "you're gonna have to make me one if it doesn't warm up soon". SO..........I do think the boy will appreciate it. His birthday is the day after mine (albeit 4 years sooner) and I'm going to try to have it ready by then.

This brother and I are rather close. He and one of my sisters and I carried the brunt of the load caring for my mother the last year of her life. She and I took turns staying the week with her at her house and then he took her on the weekends. And he was always the first person on Mama's mind when a question had to be answered or a problem solved. After Daddy died, he was the "go to" child for a long time. I didn't move back nearby until 1998 and then I was able to spend considerable time with her. Those days allowed me to get to know her in a way the other siblings will never know, simply because they didn't bother to spend the time. And that's sad for them. Watching her decline in body and mind that last year was a wrenching, exhausting experience but I wouldn't trade it for anything. And to be holding her hand as she left this earth was beyond description.

Gotta get myself in gear. I'm not going to post pictures of his quilt here until a bit further along. Oh heck, why not just a peek????

There are other assorted photos of our parents, siblings, his daughter and his place. He was right there when I took most of the photos but, of course, he had no idea what I was going to use them for. And some are older photos from my collection.

I don't ordinarily have anyone in mind when I make a quilt -- just a couple of times. So, giving myself the deadline is a new challenge for me.

Just a quick comment about the birds in my yard. At given times, I can see bluejays, cardinals, red bellied woodpeckers, doves, chickadees and titmice all fluttering around out there. Add to the mix a few squirrels and it gets to be a circus. I truly hope some of these juveniles move to other territories because if they don't, we're gonna go broke trying to feed them all!!

Hummingbirds have started their fall migration and I see them almost every day. There are other birds starting to move through also. There was a little yellow bird in the tree outside the other day but before I could get to the right set of binoculars to check him out, he flitted away and I haven't seen one since. Doesn't mean they aren't out there, just I haven't seen them. If it weren't so blasted hot and humid, I'd sit in the swing on the porch of my garden house for a while to see if anything new is around.

Time to fix dinner. Yuk. That chore comes around every day and doesn't get any more attractive.

Y'all take care.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Can you spell frustration?

Well, doesn't it always work this way? Just when you want to post a picture, the photo software malfunctions and won't save the pictures to the computer. For the life of me, I can't figure out what the problem is. Since we're in Omaha and the software disc is in Florida, I guess I can't reinstall it to see if that works.

Anyhow, we're at the end of our planned vacation and expect to head southward tomorrow morning. How long it takes us to get home is anybody's guess. Sometime I'm ready to head straight there and others, I'm ready to meander.

For some unexplainable reason, I've been unable to connect to the wireless network here at our friends' house, even using the network key. Cox Cable technician exhausted all his tricks and we still couldn't get it to work. Shhhhhhh....I'm "borrowing" a signal from an unsecured network of the neighbors right now. The only way to do it unfortunately, but it is maddening because I keep losing the signal!!!!!!!!!!!

Y'all take care.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Run, Run, Run................

It has been a busy couple of weeks. We're visiting the kids in Iowa and saw the new granddaughter for the first time. She is a darling, but then we just might be a bit prejudiced! Her big sister is also the cutest thing. She has a smile as big as the moon and is a spitfire. And let's not forget the really big sister (15) who looks more grownup every day. Where have all those years gone?

My friend Mary came down from Minneapolis for a few days and it was wonderful to have her here so that I could enjoy some "me" time without being in the wife mode, or stepmom mode, or Nana mode, just plain old "me" with my best friend. We've known each other for at least 25 years. She keeps me on my toes.

And, I spent a day with a quilting buddy who lives near here. Did some damage to the credit card yesterday at some local quilt shops. In fact, did some more today when I bought a great antique quilt for a very good price!

In all the years we've been coming up here, we've never been over to the Amana Colonies. I drove over on Thursday and met up with a gardening board buddy. Had a very nice day. The Colonies are interesting, but they are definitely now a "been there, done that" place and would not care to go back unless for a very good reason.

As though all that activity wasn't enough, hubby's brother and his wife came from Indianapolis for a couple of days.

So, it has been a very busy time. I've taken some pictures during this time, but no chance to download them. Sorry about that. We'll just have to make up for lost time at a later date.

I hear that the weather at home has been horrendous since we left. I know it has been unseasonably hot in a lot of places.

Y'all take care.