Monday, November 21, 2011

The Wood Duck Who Thought He Was a Mallard...

Well, there was an unusually large group of mallards at Carolina Beach Lake today and imagine my surprise when I looked closely at the bunch and there was one of those beautiful Wood Ducks right in the middle.  Now the mallards knew he wasn't a mallard and weren't crazy about him hanging around with them but the Wood Duck seemed to think  he had found friends.  Like last year, of course I took many many pictures, only a couple of which I will share.

He was hanging around and really let me get pretty close!  You can see the white spots on his chest here.  It was getting toward the end of the day because of a late start (more about that below.)

He didn't want to swim.  There were a lot of mallards today as well as the usual Coots and domestic ducks.

And one lone Pied Billed Grebe who I spotted pretty close to shore.  His partner wasn't there today.

The sun began to set just as I was leaving.  They have the Christmas lights up all around the lake ready to be lit after Thanksgiving.  It is so colorful around here from Thanksgiving to Christmas with colorful lights lining the main street of Carolina Beach and Kure Beach.

The reason I was late for my walk is that I had been contacted by email by a reporter for the Wilmington Star News who was writing a wrap up article about the end of filming of Arthur Newman, Golf Pro with Colin Firth and Emily Blunt.  She wanted to talk to me about meeting Colin and my thoughts and she called just as I was heading out the door.  I don't know if she will include anything in the article or not but I got to thank her personally for helping me on my quest to meet him.  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Back to Bird Pictures!! Colin Has Left Wilmington...

Alfred Newman, Golf Pro and One Tree Hill have both ceased filming in Wilmington.  There is a Patricia Cornwell mystery that will start filming for Hallmark during the next month and Ironman 3 is opening offices as well for an anticipated year of filming.  Do you think we will spot Robert Downey Jr. around?

However, I am back to taking pictures of my natural friends for now!  This hawk was sitting on the electric pole by the house this afternoon and paused long enough for me to take his picture.  He was chased away by a Mockingbird of all things!  I think it is an immature Merlin as it was relatively small.  It could be an immature Cooper's Hawk or Red Shouldered Hawk -- hopefully someone has an answer!! 

This of course is a Cormorant but he was swimming in the fresh water at Carolina Beach Lake.  The lake is very full these days and the Coot population is now up to about 60-75.  They were all grouping out in the middle of the lake yesterday -- I think they like the colder air.

I spent yesterday driving around Wilmington looking for a permanent residence and found several that look promising.  I do love the area and look forward to being here year round!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Complete Wilmington Experience and -- Meeting Colin Again...

Well, if you look closely above Colin's shoulder, you will see that I succeeded in getting his signature for his quilt!!!

I have my friend Debi to thank for this, in fact two Debi's as that is his assistant's name as well. I had read in the paper this morning that they were filming yesterday in downtown Wilmington for both One Tree Hill's final episode of the series and Arthur Newman, Golf Pro.  I figured there was a chance that one or the other would still be filming and I could show Debi a bit of the process.  

Now you have to understand that my friend Debi is the most outgoing gutsy person  you will ever meet.  We saw film crews but didn't know what they were filming.  Debi opened her window and found out which and then we hunted for a parking place.  She found another crew member and asked where specifically we might find them filming and they told us.  We found a parking place literally almost in front of the place.  Unfortunately, they were only filming inside today. 

 I spotted Colin's assistant sitting in the SUV that he gets carted around in but told Debi I wasn't going to approach her for fear she would think I was a stalker.  I did have my quilt block in my hand though as I had put it in the car several days ago, just in case...  Well, Debi just says nonsense and marches over to the car and tells Debbie (Colin's assistant) that her very shy friend didn't want to bother her again.  His assistant waved to me and we talked a bit  and she remembered me (I knew she would).  Well, I couldn't believe it but she got out of the car and went into the building where Colin and Emily were filming and as he came out, she motioned him over (he was in costume of pjs and the ugliest bathrobe you  have ever seen).  He was obviously in a huge hurry to get to the next set but he graciously signed my block!!!  So Debi and I both got to be up close and personal again with Colin and saw Emily from about three feet away!  Can you believe it!!  This all happened in about a five minutes I might add.  We then ate lunch outside in a nice little restaurant and were instant celebrities with the staff because of the autograph!!  What utter fun...

Earlier in the day, Debi wanted to go fishing in Kure Beach so Warren finally got out his rod and set us up on the pier and then deserted us!!  This was Debi's first fish -- a Blue fish which she threw back.  She had about three different men helping her with the reel, one even crawling on the pier to get her hooks when they got stuck under the pier.  I told her she would never be a widow for long as she is definitely an old guy magnet!!

This is Debi's second fish -- a Pin fish.  This became bait for one of Debi's new male friends.
Several of our fishing helpers.  The Grackles were relentless also, grabbing the bait right out of the bag (shrimp).

This was an unusual place for our friendly neighborhood ibis -- atop the electric pole next to the house.  We  have three that visit almost every day in the yard.

A sunset last night looking back toward the forever wild area two blocks behind the house. It was actually quite warm and humid today but has cooled down already.  Tomorrow is Debi's last day here and I will be very sad to see her leave for home.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Despite Two Cats, Colin is Moving Along

Well, the above is the progress on the Colin block.  I am using my own hand dyed fabrics for this.  You can see the five different values.  I think it is beginning to look like him.  George and Chener both kept climbing up in the middle of the piece -- I think they love the plastic.  I am truly amazed that the fusing is going so well as the greys I am using (my hand dyeds) are really on a print cloth instead of a firmer fabric (like Melody Johnson recommends).  I haven't had good luck with the looser weave before but this time, it is working like a charm and the Wonder Under is doing its job with no problem!!  I am beginning to think this collage of the stages might make an interesting quilt in itself!! Hmmmm.... maybe I will change the plan....  Now I know Colin is leaving the area soon, but wouldn't it be nice to get this autographed? 

This and the picture below are of the latest of the one block wonders that I have finished down here.  I am working on the last one right now and then have two smaller tops to finish.  One will be perfect as a lap robe for the cooler evenings we  have been having -- hate to turn on the heat just yet as I had ac on yesterday!

Well, can't get the text to go next to the pictures for some reason!  I was pretty sure this was a starling when I took its picture this afternoon but he was all by himself.  I think the winter plumage is actually pretty!
The first bluebird (a female) I have seen.  Seems the birds come to visit when a cold front comes in!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Coots, Coots and More Coots

There has been very little bird activity on Carolina Beach Lake lately so I have taken to counting Coots.  Each week it is increasing as is up to about 30 now.  Two of the shots on the far left here show the peculiar way that these birds get in and out of the water.  They literally walk across it for maybe 20 or 30 feet before they either take off or land.  It is quite funny!  I am sure there will be well over 100 by mid-winter.  There have been an occasional grebe but mostly just the Coots and the assorted domestic ducks and mallards.

The turtles are piling up on the side of the pond.  There were several more swimming over to join the crowd.  They are very shy though and will immediately head for the water at the sight of people.  The weather was nice and warm today.

There have been an increasing number of mallards almost every day but I haven't seen one Canada Goose either in the air or in the water!  Amazing...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Some Leftover Colin Pictures

This is one of the pictures I took of Colin and Emily Blunt from Brunswick St. in Wilmington.  This was a beautiful sunny day and I was across the street.  They were rehearsing the scene before they moved into the house.  You literally couldn't see the house at all for all the equipment.

 A nice picture of Emily Blunt chatting with Colin between takes.

I didn't take this picture but found it on Facebook  today so I don't know who did take it but thought it was absolutely the cutest ever!!  This was taken on the day Colin was shooting in Raleigh with Anne Heche and Emily Blunt.  I sure wish my picture was this cute.  She is about the same age as my granddaughter.  There were a lot of pictures online from the Raleigh day of shooting.  What a nice man!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Colin Block - The Process

Warren has headed to Lisa's for a few days so I thought I would take this time to move forward on the Colin quilt -- seemed quite fitting somehow.  George, of course, has different ideas and climbs on whatever table I choose for working.  Even if I wait until he is asleep, he hears that paper crinkling and he bounds for the the middle of my project.  Next step is locking him out of the room!!

Anyway, I thought I would share my process here. 

1.   My first steps are choosing the photo, converting it to black and white (to see if there is enough contrast for interest) and then posterizing it (most photo programs will do this).  I chose five levels of value for the Colin block.  You can see it peeking out from under George.

2.   My next step is to blow up the picture to the final size that I want.  I use free poster software to do this or take it to Staples if it is small enough.

3.    I then outline by tracing over all the different areas using a piece of clear plastic (tablecloth thickness).

4.    I then number all of the different sections.  These last two steps are done with black permanent marker.

5.    After I have numbers assigned to all the sections, I take a piece of paper and make columns of the number.  This will provide a map for three things -- a.  whether I have traced it onto the fusible or not, b.  is it a background or foreground (ie do I have to leave extra bit around the edge if a background piece) and c.  what value is the piece (1 - 5).

6.    Turn your piece of plastic with its numbers upside down and trace onto the paper side of fusible all the separate pieces, leaving space between each one.

7.   Rough cut around each of the fusible pieces, leaving extra for those called background but also leave a little on the foreground pieces.

8.    Group all the pieces for each value with its corresponding piece of fabric and fuse the fusible onto the fabric.  Then trim all the foreground pieces to the tracing line.  Leave 1/8 to 1/4 inch around the background pieces.

9.    Apply the fabric pieces to a  piece of background fabric.  Use your plastic outline as the template for where the pieces will go.  Easiest to do this by pinning the plastic to the top of the background fabric (right side up again), lifting up the plastic as you place the pieces.  Apply the pieces back to front, ie, place the background pieces down first and keep layering, ironing as you need to as you go along. 

10.   After you have the pieces all fused, then use matching thread and satin stitch each piece down using thread that closely matches the piece you are applying.  Some of the background pieces won't require any thread as there will be foreground pieces covering all the edges.

Now if George will just leave me alone long enough to get this map done and the tracing onto the fusible completed.  Once I have it set  up, the rest is easy.  As I plan to make several of these blocks using different fabrics, I will get a lot of repeat use out of this.  

George has been ever present since Warren has been gone.  Above he is "relaxing" on the porch.  Here he is helping me straighten up the latest quilt I have machine quilted.  I literally pick him up and put him down several times and finally just have to close the door with him outside!!