Friday, December 28, 2012

Slip, Slide, Slip, Spritz, repeat

It is my practice, as a quilter, to wash and iron my new fabric before using it.  Let me tell you, however, it can get way ahead of you if you don't pay attention!   And I wasn't paying attention.   I've got stacks and stacks of fabric that needs to be washed and ironed.  Now, some people just go ahead and use their fabric as they get it, but I like to do my best to get rid of any crooked rolls on the bolt and to get rid of any excess dyes that might be in the fabric.  I definitely don't want to have any bright/dark color running the first time its washed and ruining a quilt.  Today, for instance, I washed yards of a dark blue mottled batik.  It is gorgeous fabric but the excess dyes released in the wash turned two color catchers nearly dark blue.  Can you imagine what that would have done to a quilt?  I shudder to think.  
Sorry for the fuzzy pic!  I must have moved the camera.
Anyway, I've spent a lot of time the last few days on this chore.  It is so satisfying to see those lovely stacks of beautiful fabrics just waiting to be sewn. 

Anybody want to volunteer to come do the remaining 5 drawers (plus more) of fabric??

Y'all take care. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

Let me wish all of you the most Blessed of Christmases. 

May the New Year bring you peace, good health and prosperity. 

Y'all take care. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Midnight Visitor

Oh, I've just gotta tell somebody!!!   I just had a black bear sitting hardly 10 feet from me chomping away on the safflower seeds in the birdfeeder!!!   He was outside and I was inside, but still!   And only a window between us.   

I heard this soft clunking noise several times and it finally occurred to me that there might be a critter on one of the feeders.  I went to the back door (a french door), turned on the patio light and looked out to the feeder I had in mind.  Nothing.  Then, it dawned on me that the feeder next to the patio was much lower to the ground than normal and there was a big black body busily fishing seeds out of it! Because the lid is hinged on, it was the loose side that he kept bumping and it would clunk back into place. 
Black Bear along Alaska Highway, 2008
After watching for a couple of minutes, I wondered if I dared try to get a picture and went for my camera.  Unfortunately (or not), I had also turned on the motion sensor lights in the back and when they flashed on, he got spooked and ran off.  I got back to the door just in time to see his black butt disappearing into the brush.  

So, no pictures here except for those in your mind.  And hubby is so lucky that I didn't go wake him up to see it too!    We've suspected ursine visitors a couple of times before over the years when strange things happened to our birdbath, but had no proof of it.   Until now. 

Y'all take care. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Bird Count

It's that time of the year again, time for the Christmas Bird Count.  This was my first outing and it really wasn't much different from any other birdwatching day except we started at 6:20 a.m. and didn't stop until 5 p.m., when it got so dark we couldn't see another bird!!  Oh, and the record keeping was more detailed.   I was elected to be the driver yesterday, so it was a little more taxing on me than the passengers.  

Our day started by getting up at 4:15 a.m. and heading out the door by 5:30.  It didn't take us as long to drive to the count location as we had anticipated.  Anyway, we got to our first stop in time to watch dawn break and to hear the birds start to wake up.  I can't  say we got to watch sunrise, because we didn't see the sun all day yesterday.
Common loons, winter plumage
We did, however, get some wonderful rain about midday.  I don't even remember when it rained last here and certainly enough to be measurable.    We were in and out of the car, trekking down paths and wandering in parks.  Our count was in a small town, but one with tons of trees and natural areas.   Didn't bother with photos to speak of because it was so dark..

After meeting up at the coordinator's home for a count tally and dinner, we drove back and I dropped the other girls off at about 9 p.m. and I was home by about 9:40 p.m.   Today, I'm a bit draggy, if you know what I mean.  
Brown Pelican on a dreary, dark day 
But, I get to do it again on Thursday when we will be surveying an area along the Choctawhatchee River.  It will be as isolated and wild as our trip yesterday was urban.  I'm looking forward to this one because I've never had a chance to explore that area before.  

Y'all take care.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Winter Feeding

Oh, it is so dreary outside today!  After all the wonderful weather we've had up through yesterday, this is a real downer.  However, the birds activity in the back yard just about makes up for the gray, chilly skies. 

I don't think I've ever seen quite so many little ones flitting around.  There's a large flock of mourning doves.
Few of a large flock

There are lots of titmice and chickadees.  And flocks of yellow rumped warblers and chipping sparrows move through several times a day.  

Can you believe we actually have robins?!?!?  It's an odd time of year to see them here.   

Early this morning, a large bird swooped through the yard and landed in one of the oak trees. 

A while later, he returned. 
The residents didn't seem to be too concerned.  I sat and watched cardinals and other smaller birds move about in the trees not ten feet from him.   Its definitely a juvenile, but I think its a red shouldered hawk.  He was just too big to be a cooper's hawk and the chest markings dont' look quite right.  I could be wrong, though.  I've sent a request to the Bird Lady to identify him for sure.  

Well, the squirrels have knocked the top off one of the feeders, so I've got to go out and replace it (and refill the feeder).  Oh, the things we do for the critters. 

Y'all take care. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

We're Home!

I'm home!!   After travels to see the kids for the holidays, we are home at last.  The trip just seems to get longer and longer each time we make it. 
Bald eagle on really cloudy, foggy day 
Now, it's on to other things - like Christmas cards, gifts to ship across the country and general home chores. 
Horsey Home 
I'll be back later but just wanted to say that we're well and happy, but busy at the moment. 

Y'all take care. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Cotton and Sacks

I went to my semi-annual quilting retreat near Birmingham last weekend and had a ball!  Not a single one of us wanted to come home when Sunday arrived.  We are already planning and making reservations for the next one in April. 

On the way up, I stopped at a cotton field in southern Alabama and took pictures.  There appears to be a bumper crop of cotton in this area this year, and the fields are hanging white -- some more than others -- but all showing great harvests. 
Although cotton was grown on our farm when I was growing up, it has been a long time since I've been close to it.  I've actually pulled my picksack and picked cotton by hand.  Thankfully, I was young and Daddy decided to discontinue cotton growing before I got big enough to be really expected to pick much!  Hand picking cotton is not a fun task and neither is chopping cotton in the spring.  

Since I'm a quilter, I thought it would be interesting to show what cotton looks like in the field just before picking.  Remember that this field has been chemically defoliated prior to machine picking, so it doesn't look like this for a long time.  Cotton has lush, beautiful green leaves up to this time. 

Cotton is just one of several important crops grown in the northern part of the county where I live, along with peanuts, corn and soybeans.  Most people think only of amusement parks when they think of Florida when in reality they are only a minuscule part of the state.  There are billions of dollars of agriculture in the state.  

With the holidays sneaking ever closer, I decided that I'd just do a fall setting for my dining room table.  We never use the room but at least it looks festive. 
I bought the fabric pumpkins last year at the heritage festival, along with the turned wooden vase made of pecan wood.  You can't see much of it, but it is a gorgeous piece of artwork. 

I've lusted after European grain sacks for years and never found one that was in really good condition and that was priced right.   Until a couple of weeks ago. 
It is very large and now I'm having difficulties figuring out what to do with it.  I'm thinking a couple of pillows with some sort of applique on them.  Any ideas?  
Look at that lovely texture and that faded red stripe on the cloudy white sack. 

Y'all take care.  

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Little Winter Visitor

The last time over at the beach, we were looking for Nelson's sparrows which had been sited there.  We had seen them before, but they are quite uncommon and we couldn't pass up the chance to go looking for one so close to home.  
This is the little guy that was causing all the excitement.  I didn't get very good pictures but it was fun trying.  We saw eight of them which was a real treat.   The only time we get to see them here along our coast is in winter.  
Nelson's sharp-tailed sparrow
You never know what you are going to see.  You can count on shorebirds of some sort though.  

These little guys were so busy along the waterline.  They never seemed to stop more than a second or two. 
It appears that a shell is caught on the middle bird's right leg.  Hopefully, it came off.  

And, we couldn't make a trip over without noting the lovely wildflowers that were blooming.  

And my pals are ever on the lookout for the next bird. 
She with the spotting scope and he with his trusty camera.

I'll be away for a few days.  Meanwhile, 

Y'all take care.  

Friday, November 2, 2012

Love and Frustration

I think I am falling in love again -- with my old Kodak camera.  I pulled it out a couple of days ago and stuck some new batteries in it.  It still works like a champ.  It's the first digital camera I had and its been around since 2003 I believe.  It's smaller then the Nikon DSLR that I have and, thus, much easier to carry along wherever I go. 

I'm working on a signature quilt block and you'd think one measly block would be a snap.  Wrong!!   I used EQ7 to print out the cutting directions for the block, but no sewing instruction.  How hard could it be, right?  I've made a few quilts in my time, I can do this.   

Oh, me, how wrong I was!  It's not obvious in this picture, but that mitered corner looks awful!!!  Yes, I have taken it apart, recut the blue fabric and redone it.  To no avail.  And we won't even talk about that point not matching up.  I can live with that one, but that rumply corner will not work.  The bad thing is that I was given only a 10 inch square of the white muslin which MUST be used for the signature portion of the block.  Now that I've whacked it up, I have to find either find another pattern that I can use the remaining white fabric in, or yell for help in fixing that corner.  

It hurt my heart to cut a two inch square out of those nine fabrics to make the center, but it looks so pretty!! 

And since I've cut my pretties, I want to use them!! 

Y'all take care. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Changes on the Homefront

I am trying so hard to make some changes in the decor at our house.  We've been here fourteen years today and its time.    A lot of the big pieces came into the marriage from DH and his late wife and they are more formal than what I would prefer.  However, the practical girl that I am can't always see replacing expensive pieces of good furniture just because they don't fit my preferred decor.  At least not yet.   However, it is tiring to look at after so many years and I'll make small changes as I can.   Given my druthers, I'd ditch a lot of them and start over!!  The city boy and the farm girl definitely have differing ideas. 
Last week I went out for the day and came home with some beautiful colored canning jars to go along with the single one I had from Mama.  Today, I shuffled the mirror over to the side and put up this display using the jars, my wonderful fat pine cone, branches from the yard and a bird's nest.  I rounded up the picture from another room.  Oh, the bird's nest is sitting on the top of that blue vase on the right, with some ivy behind it.   What do you think? 

We have a pine tree in our yard that produces the most gorgeous pine cones.  They can be nearly a foot tall and I love them.  Of course, they would knock you out if they fell on your head while green!!!  

Y'all take care. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Birds on My Mind

Haven't seen a hummingbird in nearly a week now, so I've taken down two of the feeders.  I refilled one feeder and put it back up in case there's a straggler coming through.  Besides, the house finches like the nectar too.  

I've moved the safflower seed feeder to the edge of the patio so that we can see the birds from inside.  And, what a sight it has been.  It is besieged by mourning doves, cardinals, titmice, chickadees, Carolina wrens and the finches.  Even a bluebird will stop by on occasion.  Thankfully, the squirrels don't care for safflower seeds, so they pretty much leave that feeder alone. 

Well, I HAD some pictures of the squirrels on the back patio, along with the wren but they have disappeared.  I was working yesterday to learn how to put a watermark on my pictures when I want, and I likely deleted them by mistake.   

It's always interesting at this time of year to see who will stop in on the migration.  This guy visits regularly because he's a resident of the area. 
Cooper's Hawk
A couple of weeks ago, a juvenile red shouldered hawk was chasing  two squirrels round and round the oak tree trunk.  Needless to say, he was unsuccessful in his attempt to catch them.  I think they realized he was a juvi too, or they would have disappeared in a flash.  No way to get a camera to record that one, but it was priceless to see him trying to maneuver around that tree.

I also heard the first owl of the season a few nights ago.  Sounded like there were two, or maybe three, great horned owls behind our house.  I love the sound of their voices.    You've seen this 
picture before, but they're not easy to come by, so it'll just have to do.  

Y'all take care. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Leaves for Leontien

Over the past couple of years, I have been blessed to have contact with a lovely lady named Leontien.  She embodies the strength and grace that I so admire.  She is battling a very aggressive form of melanoma, and I ask all who read this to send up prayers to your God for peace and strength and faith, not only for Leontien, but for her loving and steadfast husband, and family. 

For you, sweet Leontien, words can't say how much you mean to me.

Y'all take care.  

I just cannot seem to get the link to work, but for more thoughts and wishes for our friend, go to

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Going Wandering

I've been remiss in taking pictures here of late, so I thought I'd share some of the pictures from our trip to DeSoto State Park in northeastern Alabama last September.  Somehow, I never got to them before. 

One day, we decided to go for a little walk.  Figured it'd take 45 minutes or so and then back.  Somewhere along the way, however, we missed a signpost and wound up on a trek of over two hours!   Lovely scenery along the way, though, so who's going to complain?  

I found all these colors and textures to be just fascinating.  Oh, and all these photos are straight out of the camera.  No adjusting or fussing with any processing software.  

I had to laugh right out loud when I saw this one.  Somebody has a sense of humor.  Now, who but a park ranger out to mark a trail would just happen to have a can of orange spray paint with them?  Perfect knot to turn into a pumpkin.  

"I love to go a-wandering, 
Along the mountain track, 
And as I go, I love to sing, 
My knapsack on my back."

(Now, get that lyric out of your head, okay?)  :)

Y'all take care. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Yard Wanderings

I wandered around outside yesterday to see what was happening in my poor yard.  There's not much going on, other than unwanted grasses and weeds growing everywhere!!!   We have been inundated with chamber bitter since Hurricane Ivan blew through here in 2004.  There's some kind of grass that has shown up in the last two or three years and it has spread extensively this year.

The fun thing I did see, though, is a bloom on a cutting that I'd put in a jar to root.  I've had success with rooting like this before, but never a bloom.  The bud must have been set before I cut the sprout off the tree. 

The colors and texture of foliage can be every bit as beautiful to me as flowers. 
Variegated lacecap hydrangea

Shell ginger 

I'm off to a quilting retreat tomorrow.  It should be a fun time, what with over 60 quilters getting together to do what we do best.  Notice I'm not saying exactly what that might be!!

Y'all take care.