Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Oodles of Oldsquaws (Now Known as Long Tailed Ducks)!

Well, I am back in New York again.  I left a little earlier than planned because of the potential of snow up here over the next couple of days and I am only used to nice warm temps and a little rain at this point!!  I got off to a rough start as I had a flat tire before I even got out of Wilmington and had to get a new tire -- luckily I was right next to a very accommodating gas station.  

Even before I got home, I took a quick detour up to Lake Ontario and the outlet where Irondequoit Bay joins the lake.  I wanted to see if there were any birds as there is no ice and I figured it would be pretty vacant.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to see literally hundreds of Oldsquaws.  I did get out of the car and took a few pictures even though I had been on the road for six hours!!

They were swimming rapidly away as they don't particularly like visitors even those just taking their picture!

A closeup of some of the ladies mostly although there are a couple of males in there.

When they couldn't swim away fast enough, they resorted to flying!!  They are quite striking in their winter plummage!

Now to the chore of unpacking and trying to squeeze fabric back into my sewing room.  My one flight of stairs will be a breeze after the beach and it's two steep flights!

Friday, February 24, 2012

The End of Rumpole...

Well, this is a collage of various stages of the blocks I am making on my last of the Serendipity quilts for down here.  You will note some duplication in the collage but so far I have done 20 different blocks -- kind of like a sampler of the blocks in the Doubledipity and Serendipity books by Sara Nephew.  As I love radial symmetry, these blocks have been downright fun.  Sara has some very clever stripping techniques that make these blocks pretty easy to make.  This technique does leave you with some two colored triangles that are the opposite of the ones you may want to use in the block.  My cure for this was to substitute these triangles for plain triangles on many of the blocks.  Then I don't have any leftovers.  So,  if you have the books,  you won't find most of these blocks exactly as I have tried to utilize all these triangles.

As I mentioned before, I have a limited palette  as I didn't want to purchase any fabric just for this quilt.  I did end up using some yardage I had bought for another project as well as some I had brought down with me.  I really only used six additional fabrics though which is probably a new record for me.  I am the queen of "the more the merrier" when it comes to fabrics in a quilt.  Making all the blocks different and thus kind of a hexagon block sampler is my  cure for the tedium of using so few fabrics.    The quilt that I am envisioning has 17 blocks so I will have some rejects - a couple have already identified themselves.  A nice big design wall will help with the final decision making.  I have to decide what to use for the background triangles as well.  I am figuring on various shades of brown or beige at this point, a ton of which I have at home left over from the lions.

This quilt will be called Rumpole as I made it while watching all the seasons of Rumpole of the Bailey, a wonderful British import from back in the 70s or 80s.  I will miss not having more to see!  Thanks Priscilla!  

I'm in the final throes of cleaning up in anticipation of coming back to New York soon.  I will miss my weather and birds but will be back probably before too long.  Let's just hope that the snow stays up in Canada (or better yet, nowhere) until the season is over!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Little Winter Here

Nothing like a little touch of winter -- actually couldn't read my paper on the porch yesterday -- to keep  you inside and get you working on a new quilt.  This one will be a bit bigger than the others and should be a nice size for a queen or king sized bed.  I have a very limited palette to work with here but will play around with different patterns for the blocks so should be fun.  I made a third variation but not enough contrast in it so it may not make the cut for the final quilt.  I did like the block though and it gave me the idea for a couple of more variations.  
It wasn't cold enough to keep me away from a walk by the lake this afternoon.  It is amazing how fast the days are getting longer and I was there a good hour later than I was a month and a half ago.  There was quite a flock of Scaups there -- all Lesser Scaups I think, males and females and they were whizzing up and down the lake.

A closeup up one of the males as he swam by. This is the most  Scaups I have seen on the lake.

This Coot with his bright red eye was begging to have his picture taken as well.  The Coots weren't all scrunched together like they usually are.

I'm heading to Charlotte this weekend for a last visit with my oldest daughter before I head back north in a couple of weeks!  So hopefully the snow will hold off up there!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Project Progress Countdown

Well, I thought I would make it easy on everyone and so put the components of the latest of my Serendipity quilts together so you could see the fabric, the background hexagons and the fabric I will be using to construct the more complex stars (which also have the kalaidoscopic centers).  I am trying to focus a bit more on the base fabric this time.  Let's see if I can do it or whether I will have my usual compulsion to make it more graphic!  I just hate to buy anymore brown fabric while down here as I have such a stash of it at home.  I am going to emphasize all but the red which I will use very sparingly as I don't want it to look like another Christmas quilt.  The base fabric that I used to make the kalaidoscopic blocks is probably 20 years old bought off a sale table of a store no longer in existence for use as a quilt back.  It is one of those "what was I thinking" fabrics but is great for making these blocks as it has a 27 inch repeat and I had a ton of it!

After 25 years, I am nearing the end of this Baltimore Album.  It laid as blocks for 24 years, then as an unfinished top for another  year.  This trip I added the border of appliqued leaves onto it.  I had originally intended to do them with no break but the logistics just didn't work out and it needed the thin green break from the inside (the white sateens are slightly different shades!).  Now I have to be creative in the four corners where I will probably applique hearts. 

This is a closeup of the upper right corner of the quilt to show the corner.  The quilt is about 92" x 92" now.  After I get those hearts appliqued, will get it backed, basted and then  will proceed with one heck of a lot of hand quilting!  At least I am working with old sateen which is like butter to quilt through and will be using a wool batt as well as this is my favorite for hand quilting. 

 I use pliers when hand quilting to save my hands from the pulling through of the needles as this is the toughest part with which this old body has to deal.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Not Just Another Ring Billed Gull

The Ring Billed Gulls are by far the most common gulls I see down here as well as in Rochester.  Occasionally another gull is present on the beach and yesterday it was a Herring Gull.  He is a rather large gull with pink legs.  I always like the background of the secret beach for pictures of birds with its seaweed covered sandstone.

Here are the three most common of the birds I see on the secret beach  -- the Ruddy Turnstone with his orange feet, the larger Willet which is very common on this beach as well as the beach in Florida and the little Sanderling in the foreground.  There were lots of the Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones digging for the mussels and other beach life  that cover the rocks.

Several of the Ruddy Turnstones here.  They get their name from the fact that they actually turn over the rocks with their beaks -- constantly moving.

This is one of the Willets.

The Buffleheads were out in force beyond the waves.  Lots of males and females here.

The day before at Carolina Beach Lake, I had spotted this Pied Billed Grebe by the rental paddle boats which were reflected on the water.  There were several others there as well but as soon as they catch sight of me, they are off to the middle of the lake!

Our guests have left and I finally have caught up on my sleep so may trying to get some quilting done today!  It is hard to stay inside when the weather has been so nice outside!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Nature Conservancy Tour of Bald Head Island

We had seen this tour advertised for some time so having Joe and Sharon here gave us the excuse to call and get on board.  Bald Head Island is a very exclusive community that can only be reached by boat or a very long (7 mile) walk from Fort Fisher at low tide!  The ferry ride to get there and back for each passenger is $25.  So to reach this island, we had to take two ferries, one from Fort Fisher to Southport and one from Southport to Bald Head Island.  We were bright and early.  Only electric golf carts are allowed on the island for transportation.  We were met by our young guide Kendall with a golf cart and found we were the only people on the tour this day!! It was really a bargain as we got taken all over the island to see the natural sights including some private land owned by the Conservancy.  The tour price was $50 ea but that included our ferry fare and riding all over the island.  Kendall was very knowledgeable and we were able to see some beautiful areas.  Here is more information:  Bald Head Island Tours

The above shot was on Ibis Island which was donated to the Conservancy and which is gated so that only Conservancy tours can get in.  Kendall said this was the most birds she had seen in the area.  There were many Black Crowned Night Herons -- mostly immature although there was one mature one, both mature and immature ibis and a lot of Tricolor Herons.

This was the one mature Black Crowned Night Heron.  The light was terrible for taking pictures -- too bright.  Unusual to see them with their eyes open during the day (at least for me).

This is an immature one with his fluffy light brown plummage.

One of the many tricolor herons that were there.  I haven't seen so many in one place before.

The two ibis on the left are the very immature ones that still have dark brown wings.  In the spring, you will see hundreds of ibis on the small islands around Bald Head.

We also saw a bald eagle through the spotting scope.  It has taken up residence and has thrilled the locals by perching on one of the houses near the ferry terminal although it was not there on Friday!

I also saw Hooded Mergansers way off in the distance.  It was obvious that the pictures I had taken the day before at Airlie were also of Hooded Mergansers which I had guessed.  I didn't know at the time, though, that I would find these down here.  They are very striking but my picture is just good enough for identification but not publication!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, NC - Spring is Here!

Our neighbors from New York have come down for a few days' visit and the weather has certainly cooperated with temps in the 70s for the first couple of days.  

We decided to go to Airlie Gardens even though we didn't think any of the flowers would be out!  We were wrong as the daffodils and pansies were blooming and even better, their wonderful collection of Camelias were blooming as well.

One of the many varieties of Camelias they had was this pretty pink one.  They were all just beautiful and obviously prefer the shade.

This was one of the resident mute swans swimming on the small lake on the property.  Our neighbor got some terrific pictures later on of this swan and a Canada Goose fighting something fierce!

Like in Florida, some of the early azaleas were also blooming!  We were in shorts sleeves.

In many places the camelias had fallen off the trees and were just laying there like a well composed picture.  Both Joe and I were struck with how pretty they looked sitting on the ground right where they landed!

This is the "bottle house" in the Sculpture Garden.  It is composed of the bottoms of bottles and if you look inside, you will see the rest of the bottle!

You get the idea here!