Friday, February 12, 2016

Quilt Progress and More Bird Pics (of Course)!

The beginning of a new day and some more work on the quilt but first a trip to my bird places as it is a nice sunny day.

First a lovely Tri-Color Heron down at the boat ramp.  He was joined by a Snowy Egret and then later a Great Blue Heron.

The Great Blue was fluffing his feathers and annoying the others!

There were a lot of the usual gulls plus several Royal Terns and Forster Terns that were adorning the dock.  This is a Royal Tern.

I headed down to Carolina Beach Lake and there were several male and female Buffleheads diving like crazy.

There were even more Lesser Scaups, both female and male, than before.  You can see his distinctive head shape.

I finally got to see the male and female Red-headed Ducks close enough to take their picture.

A closeup of the male Redhead!

I called this a double date for Valentine's Day as there are a male and female Redhead and a male and female Scaup hanging out together!

Auditioning some more insides in the early afternoon.

Making real progress here.  Right now it is about 40 inches x 50 inches but think I will make it probably about 60 wide by 80 long so good for a nap on the sofa.

I already see one block that I don't like and it will be removed or put in an inconspicuous place.  These are slow going as there is a lot of trimming at each step.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Moving Forward on the Albers Quilt

All those things that look like rocks are really Dunlins!  The wind was fierce yesterday and the tide was extra high because of the new moon so the Dunlins and Oystercatchers were all huddled on what little was left of the rock wall at Ft. Fisher.  This wall was built in the mid 1800's to keep the silt from the ocean from getting into the Cape Fear River.  It is really long and almost intact still although a  lot of it goes under water during high tides.

Well, I had the idea that the blocks might look more interesting if I set them on their sides -- kind of wave like.  So I tried it.  No, didn't like it!

So I turned them around again.   Much better.  It is slow going.

There is no way to do these quickly so am just plodding along.

I really liked the blocks with the deep fuchsia/purple.  I decided at this point that I needed some reds and red/oranges in the outer layers. 

So far I have just been using the scraps from other projects plus green and blue fat quarters that I brought down with me with the intention of making some quilts out of them.  I always seem to want more color and things always evolve which is why the other colors are getting added.  It would probably be calmer if I stuck to a nice restricted palette but I am pretty much incapable of that!!  I am making the rings larger than the pattern I had been using.  Each rhombus is about 10 1/2 x 8 1/2 now.  It keeps growing and growing, another thing my pieces have a habit of doing!

Monday, February 8, 2016

My Ducks Have Returned to Carolina Beach Lake!! (Plus a New Visitor)

I truly felt like I had returned to Lake Mattamuskeet when I stopped at Carolina Beach Lake on the way to the grocery store.  I ALWAYS carry my camera with a telephoto lens when ever I leave the house!!  I know from experience that when I don't, I will see something awesome!!  Here is the usual group of Mallards at Carolina Beach Lake with a Northern Pintail in the middle!!  I had never seen a Pintail in this lake in all the years i have taken pictures there.  He was a gorgeous specimen too and came over pretty close to me.  Notice the Carolina blue skies reflecting on the lake.  Yesterday we were visited with a horrendous Nor'easter which produced incredible waves and probably another five or six inches of rain after we had a lot just several days before.  There were ponds and pumps everywhere today.  

The male Mallards really are pretty and colorful especially in the bright sun.

Here is the aforementioned Northern Pintail.  I don't think I have ever gotten as good a picture of one!  He is a dabbling duck and was constantly with his rear in the air!

This is a male Bufflehead.  You can see his iridescent head with all the sunlight!  He and his female friends were diving like crazy.

This is a male Lesser Scaup.  There were again quite a few of them at the lake.

This is the female Lesser Scaup who was following around after the  male.  She has some algae on her back from the constant diving.

I am continuing on the Albers quilt and will have pictures with my next post.  It is coming slowly and I haven't decided how big to make it yet so will just continue making blocks.  Right now I am just using the fairly solid looking hand dyes.  I am thinking I may add some marbled fabrics and make only one row of color around them.  Like to make things a little unpredictable.

I have read that not only have the Snow Geese left Mattamuskeet but that the Tundra Swans are also heading north.  Glad we got to visit last week and didn't have weather like yesterday!!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Trip to Mattamuskeet and Pocosin Lakes Wildlife Refuges

Mattamuskeet and Pocosin are wildlife refuges in the northeastern part of North Carolina most famous for being the winter home of 75% of the world's population of Tundra Swans and 60,000 Snow Geese.  There is also incredible populations of Northern Pintails and other dabbling ducks.  Above you can see the work it takes for the Tundra Swans to take off.  The noise of the wing flapping can be heard over long distances.  This was at Pocosin Lakes.  

They are just gorgeous in the air and are constantly talking!

I had gone on this guided trip sponsored by the City of Wilmington and booked through Halyburton Park.  My oldest daughter and I had planned to go by ourselves as the trip was supposed to occur when i was in Fl.  However, because of the big storm, it was postponed and they were looking for more people.  It is always fun to take these trips despite the very early morning rising!!

This is one of the first birds we saw at Mattamuskeet (a large lake which is only about 3 feet deep).  It is not common to see these birds out where you can get good pictures.  This one darted in and out of the reeds (where they are almost invisible).  I had seen them before but this was the closest I have gotten.

Just a closeup of his face and feathers.

There were lots and lots of ducks at Mattamuskeet -- more than I think I have seen before.  Here are several Northern Pintails which I think are a gorgeous bird.

Here is a closeup although his tail is in the water.

This is a male and female Northern Shoveler -- another beautiful colorful duck with those huge bills.

These are male Ring-necked Ducks.  None of us has ever seen a ring around the neck but there is certainly one around the bill!

This a Northern Harrier who was chasing the ducks and forcing them into the air.  You can always tell when either these or the Bald Eagles are around!  The Northern Harrier is easy to identify by the wide white stripe on his tail.

We headed on the road that crosses the lake and spotted several Bonaparte Gulls which were standing still in the wind as they weren't strong enough to make much forward motion.  It was great for picture taking!

There were also several Forster's Terns hanging out with the Gulls having the same problem.

There were a lot of Coots both at Mattamuskeet and Pocosin Lakes.

For some reason, I mentioned to my friend John (who was in the back seat of the van with my daughter) that I was curious where he had gotten pictures of a Cattle Egret down here.  Right around the next corner, what should appear but a Cattle Egret.  It is about the size of a Snowy Egret but has a yellow shortened beak, is a little stubbier in stature and has faint beige feathers on its head.  They are normally found hanging out inland with cattle (what a surprise there...).  It was the first Cattle Egret I have seen outside of Florida.

We didn't see any bears this trip (it was pretty chilly) and missed seeing the bobcat and the river otters by just a little!  The bobcat was evidently stalking some Coots that had left the water at Mattamuskeet and the river otters were crossing the road in front of the second van (I was in the first) at Pocosin,  My daughter and I will return in the fall to see if we can see the bears who are most common when feeding for their winter naps.

Only four Snow geese were spotted altogether -- they seemed to have left VERY early this year, perhaps a better harbinger of early spring that the groundhog.  Last year we saw 1000's.  We also didn't see the Trumpeter Swans that some had seen but it may have been because the birds were backlit at Mattamuskeet.  We ran into others who had spotted them.  We also saw a few Bald Eagles and of course vultures -- both Turkey and Black.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Dyeing Day and a New Quilt Start

Shortly after returning from Florida, Dianne and I met for a day of dyeing -- extreme overdyeing which results in 35 colors using 10 dye baths.  It is very labor intensive though but Dianne and I have gotten it down to a fine art and a predictable time schedule.  She always lets me pick the colors and I noticed we hadn't done any reds -- well, I think we overachieved.  There were some strange things happening which I think resulted from old dyes -- red seems to be the most sensitive.

The first set of dyes were Sun Yellow, Golden Yellow, a mix of half Strong Orange and half Rust Orange, Basic Brown and the Neutral Gray.  The overdyes were Mixing Red, Fuchsia, Strongest Red, Fire Red (Dharma),Scarlet (Dharma) and then Deep Navy.  I think the Fuchsia and Scarlet were weak -- the scarlet being the weakest as it dyed orange.  They were all 3% concentrations.  I overdye a couple of those red/oranges that look alike -- maybe with some black, brown or navy.

Just another view of the same fabrics.  I think it shows a little more variation this way.  I do like the effect of the gray, brown and navy.

This is the beginning of another quilt.  I bought a rhombus ruler after seeing a quilt made with it at my local quilt show in Rochester.  I already  have a name for it and a different direction -- it will be called Ode to Albers.  The reason for this can be seen in the chartreuse in the two blocks - they look like two different colors as they are affected by their surroundings -- this is what Albers did a lot of studies on and a principle I often emphasized when teaching a color class.  I have cut up a lot of those center rhombuses from scraps and was doing the same for the strips.  I will be cutting the strips of real yardage so I can do more strip piecing.  There is a lot of trimming with this block.  A rhombus is just a fat diamond.  

 No  blog would be complete without a few birds.  This was an Ibis wandering with a few friends down at Ft. Fisher.

 A large flock of Lesser Scaups has returned to Carolina Beach Lake.  I hadn't seen any last year but they were frequent visitors before.  This is one of the males.  They are diving ducks and they almost seem to dive as a group -- first one and then a bunch more follow.

Here is a group of four of the males.  

There are mostly Gadwalls now at the Aquarium pond.  Here is a male and his female friend.  There were also Buffleheads and Pied-billed Grebes and a beautiful Great Blue Heron.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Humpback Whale Washes up on our Beach!

I was watching the news last Tuesday and they reported that a Humpbacked Whale had washed up on Kure Beach one block down from where I live so I hurried out with camera in hand and walked down to the access point.  There were about 50 people already there watching them do the necropsy on the whale.  It was a juvenile male in very bad condition that had died (they think from lots of parasites but all the evidence isn't in yet) and then washed up on the beach.  It was small at 25 feet long and 15,000 pounds!!  By the time I got there, they were well into the necropsy.  Here you can see the tail that they had just cut off and get an idea of the size.

The woman pictured above from the local aquarium (about 1 1/2 down the road) readily answered any questions you might have -- they had cordoned off the area to keep visitors at a distance.

This is looking at the  head region and the balene (which is how they eat).  All the fuzz are tubercles.  

It is well dissected here and they were taking parts back to the laboratory at UNCW and were sending parts out to the University of California as well.  Shortly after this photo was taken, they dipped the tail in the water to get all the sand off.  The heavy equipment was borrowed from the beach renourishment project they were doing further north in Kure.  It was a once in a lifetime experience and hope they learn something to save future whales from the same bad fortune.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Quilters By the Sea January Meeting -- Michelle May

This was the night of the fantastic sunset in one of the earlier blogs.  Later that same night was a glorious full moon!  It lit up the sky!

Our speaker for our January meeting was a new to the area quilter named Michelle May.  She was a delightful speaker and shared many of her quilts with us.  She does applique and has been featured on the Quilting Arts tv show as well as published in several magazines.  Her website is The Raspberry Rabbits.  She also has a blog where she often shares free patterns - Raspberry Rabbits Blog.

Here are some of her quilts:

There were some lovely quilts shared as part of our show and tell but as usual, people showed them for a nanosecond -- not enough for a good picture for sure!!

Below is our raffle quilt for this year.  The drawing will be held in December and tickets are 6 for $5 or $1 a piece.