Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Of Mushrooms and Butterflies

Sitting outside on a beautiful summer day, my husband and I saw tufts of "smoke" coming out of the mulch next to the house.  This happened frequently and in various spots and we were at a loss to figure out what was going on.  Upon closer inspection, what looked like dead leaves were really "cup fungi" which are the most common of mushrooms.  They literally shoot out hundreds of thousands of spores.  This looks just like smoke!!  We used to have a veritable garden of mushrooms when we first moved in but over the years the lawn has taken over.  I don't ever remember these so they were probably imported with the mulch!

I continue to keep my eye on my neighbor's butterfly bush and was rewarded by a visit from a White Admiral the other day.  I have seen them before but this one did pose for me!

A really nice Spicebush Swallowtail also visited and kept his wings open enough for a picture!!

Humid days like yesterday are reserved for working on the two Lone Star quilts I made a couple of  years ago.  The first is completed and the second is almost done!!  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Visit to Montezuma Wildlife Refuge -- a Test of Identification of Bird Babies!

Once a year usually earlier in August or in July, a trip down to the Montezuma  Wildlife Refuge in western upstate New York is in order.  There is a nice one lane car path that runs around the refuge.  In previous years, there was hardly any water as they have dried up the main pond to do work on it to make it better.  However, this year despite that there were lots of ponds as it has been an unusually rainy summer.  This was great as I saw some birds that I hadn't seen before up here and many juveniles.  Now water bird identification is hard enough as they have summer and winter plumage and of course there are differences between the males and females.  This summer I had to deal with many many juveniles which of course look different as well!!  So I will start with the birds that were fairly obvious and hopefully I haven't made too many mistakes in their identities!!

A nice Great Blue Heron.  I saw many of these.  They are very solitary.  I don't think this one is totally mature yet.

There were lots of Great Egrets as well with lots of pretty backgrounds.

Now I know where some of the Coots breed!!

These look like juvenile Coots to  me!!  All fuzzy and cute.  Have never seen the juveniles down in NC.

There were a number of examples of a close relative of the Coot, the Common Gallinule (Moorhen).  They were a bit more shy than the other birds.

Not really sure about this one, but think it may be a juvenile Gallinule.

This is a Caspian Tern which I have seen here before.  There were a number of these amongst the Ring Billed Gulls.

Of course, the everpresent Goldfinch on his favorite Scotch Thistle.  This thistle was a little over the hill though but the Goldfinches still have their summer color.

This is a juvenile Pied Bill Grebe.  There were a lot of Pied Billed Grebes hanging out including many juveniles.

I believe this is one of the juveniles of the Short Billed Dowitchers.  There were a number of these.  They are stockier than their look alike cousins -- the Yellowlegs.

This is an adult Short Billed Dowitcher showing their usual digging behavior.  He rarely  had his head up.

This is a Lesser Yellowlegs.  There were a lot of these.

I believe these are juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs.  Their beaks are thinner than the dowitchers and they are grayer underneath.

One of the highlights was seeing this lone Snow Goose standing in one of the plowed fields.  They are fairly common but I can't remember seeing them before.  I have warned everyone up here that winter is coming!!

Even those these purple flowers are one of those invasive species, they sure looked pretty yesterday with the water in the background.

I always look forward to seeing all the Marsh Mallows which were a little over the hill this visit but did find some nice ones. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Quilting, Quilting, Quilting

Two years ago (at least) Jan Krentz taught a class on Lone Stars at GVQC and I took it just for the heck of it (hadn't even realized that I had the book the class was based on until later). I started this quilt in that class and in fact made an additional one that is larger and has molas (from Priscilla Kibbee) featured in it.  I was having a bit of struggle trying to figure out how to quilt the star points.  I finally took out the book to see how Linda had quilted it and decided that it was a good choice.  I wasn't as crazy about some of the other choices so did my own thing.  This is probably one of the first quilts that i really found fun to machine quilt although smaller quilts are soooo much easier to work with.

I decided to do "feather" quilting in all of the varied rocket points.  I do like quilted feathers.

Here you can see more feather quilting and also the "1/4 inch" quilting in the star segments that surround the big star.  My friend Janet told me that this pattern is the machine  equivalent of the old 1/4 inch around seams that you do in hand quilting.

I have done all the quilting except for the background at this point which will just be simple stippling which is tedious but the best choice I think for this quilt as nothing shows on the black.  I have used two different variegated threads for the quilting -- one shades of green and one shades of orange through green.  Hopefully the quilt will be done tomorrow except for the binding.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The "Find Your Roots" Tour

Several years ago I discovered that my several greats - grandfather's house was part of the historical homes of New England and was in Newburyport, Massachusetts.  My mother had always said that this side of the family was from Newport RI rather than Nantucket where there are many with the same name -- Coffin which was my middle name and my maternal  grandmother's maiden name.  She was confused about which Newport and I am sure never knew about the ancestral house.  White talking about this with my good friend Debi, she suggested we take a "road trip" and go see it.  We have taken road trips together before and always had a great time  It grew from there and we added on a stop to her ancestral home in Plymouth Notch, Vermont -- Coolidge.  Now coincidentally, the only president my mother ever shook hands with was Calvin Coolidge when he was governor of Massachusetts.  Debi is a not too distant cousin to Calvin and her great-grandfather made two of the chairs in the dining room of the Coolidge homestead.  Her cousin, Rick Coolidge, guided us around.

The above picture is of the Coffin House which was built in 1678 and is on High Street in Newbury, Massachusetts which is on the coast just south of the Maine border

Our first stop on the "roots" tour was the Coffin House which only is open with tours two Saturdays a month from July through October.  We caught the first tour of the day.  No pictures are allowed inside which I can understand!!  My side of the Coffin family descended from the original owner of this house - Tristram Coffin Jr (in fact twice as Coffin cousins married about three generations ago).  His father and mother had migrated from England (Devon) in the mid 1600's.  They were Royalists and left at the time of the hanging of Charles I and the take over by Oliver Cromwell.  Coincidentally, my paternal side (Lyon) of the family ancestors left at the same time and I suspect for the same reasons but the paternal tale is different -- supposedly they left as they were loyal to Cromwell but were horrified when they watched Charles I being hanged.  

Tristram Coffin Sr. landed in Newbury and he ran a ferry.  His wife Dionis Stevens Coffin ran a tavern in Newburyport.  She used hops twice as strong as the norm to make the beer for her tavern.  The Puritans had strict rules about the prices you could charge for beer and she charged twice as much and got into trouble for this.  She was an educated woman and illustrated to the satisfaction of her accusers that she could charge more as hers was a stronger concoction.  Of course, she had lots of customers for her strong brew!!!  Tristram Sr. evidently  had about enough of the Puritans so he along with several investors (including Folgers and Starbucks) bought an island off the coast of Massachusetts -- Nantucket!! 

My ancestor Tristram Jr. stayed behind in Newbury and this is his house.  According to the tour guide, the Coffins highly valued education (it was part of my mother's mantra for sure) and there were many ministers, lawyers and writers in the mix.  Tristram Jr.'s wife was Judith Greenleaf, who is featured in a book on wives of the mid 1600's in New England by Lowell Ulrich.  

Tristram Jr. didn't take over the ferry or the tavern but instead apprenticed to a tailor and that is how he earned his living.  So sewing must be in my DNA!!  Eventually the Coffin family became tanners.  My ancestor was Tristram Jr.'s youngest son and therefore did not inherit the house but my Coffin  ancestors remained in Newburyport until the mid 1800's.  I am curious about what they did there.  One was a captain but don't know whether that was a military or boat captain.  The tour guide said that the Coffins kept extremely good records (besides being prolific breeders) and many of those writings are in the archives in Boston.  Hopefully I will find some more online at some point!

Saturday was Debi's birthday and she found that her favorite childhood vacation spot (which she returns to each  year) was just 45 minutes away and we were in no hurry to drive to Vermont.  So off we go to York Maine where she took my picture in front of this candy shop where we got taffy and peanut brittle.  We then headed to one of her favorite restaurants for "dunch" (a combination of lunch and dinner as it was 3:30 by then).  Best fish and chips I have had!  Then we were off to Vermont and the Calvin Coolidge homestead.

Our first stop on Sunday morning (after meeting Debi's cousin Rick -- who is a Coolidge) for breakfast, was the graveyard where all the Coolidges are buried.  Debi's mother was a Coolidge and Debi is a first cousin twice removed from Calvin Coolidge, the 30th President of the US.

The Coolidge homestead is located in Plymouth Notch, Vermont.  The closest town of any size is Ludlow Vermont.

This is the country store which Calvin's father owned and in back is where Calvin was born.  His father swore him in as President in the middle of the night when they got word that Warren Harding died from a stroke.  Calvin was visiting family in Vermont but hurried back to Washington, DC.

This is my friend Debi and her cousin Rick standing in front of the church that Coolidge attended with his family.  As a bonus for Debi, there were Wilder homesteads around as well and Wilder was her maternal grandmother's name so it was obvious they all lived closely together in this very small town.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Trip to the Seneca Park Zoo

Although I have done one quilt with lilies, I always take pictures as I am sure I will do another one some day.  I love these colorful lilies.  When I was a kid, we had a lily that would always send out its first bloom on my birthday.

This is one of the two cubs born a couple of years ago at the zoo.  If you look closely at his body, you  can see the faint spots that the cubs always have.  He was a beautiful animal!!  His sister was nearby with mom and her spots were more defined still.  This big boy dragged this huge bone everywhere with him!!

Although I see lots of alligators down in NC, this one was wide awake unlike most of the zoo animals!!  Definitely prehistoric looking, isn't he?

The baboons were very playful as usual.  I saw lots of them in Africa and they are very destructive -- they climbed all over the car we were driving.

I never tire of the raptors even in captivity.  This is a Bald Eagle that had been injured but found this good home.

The Snowy Owls were all over up north here while I was in NC -- they even traveled as far as Florida this  year but I didn't seem them in the wild so this will have to do!!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

More Butterflies

Always at the ready with my camera while reading outside on a beautiful summer day, finally saw a really nice specimen of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.  The other ones have been rather torn up!

The same as above but from the side.  Its underneath is identical to it upper view which is not the case with so many butterflies.

A beautiful Monarch also landed but was very hesitant to open up its wings.  Finally I managed to get a shot!

The Monarch looks like a lighter shade of its markings on the underside but look at that dotted body!

This is a Cabbage White taken from a great distance.  They continually flit and don't land for more than a second at a time but finally got a good enough picture to identify.  I also saw many more of the Skippers as well but they are really boring to look at!

Finally saw the first Spicebush Swallowtail  of the season even though he was a little battered on one wing.  He is definitely different on top and underneath.

This one constantly opened and closed its wings so I had to really ratchet up the speed of the photo to not get a blur.  Good thing it was a beautiful sunny day.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

After QBL - August RAFA Meeting

This is a group picture of the ladies who belong to a small sub group in RAFA.  There are several of theses groups which have met for some time now.  This group seems to concentrate on finding art shows and then challenging themselves to create pieces inspired by the pieces in the show in a 12 x 12 format.  They do a wonderful job.  Sadly, even when I was here all the time, I was never asked to join any of these groups...

It is always fun to go to the meeting our Rochester Area Fiber Artists group has as many of the members have just come back from classes at Quilting by the Lake (QBL).  I used to call it summer camp for adults and it was fun.  They no longer allow any picture taking in classes or at the show so I have opted not to attend for several years now.  I have had at least one class with most of the teachers I really liked and really grew from the experience and met lots of nice people but no picture taking drove me crazy.  

This is a closeup of the piece done by Ann H
This was done by our very talented Val Shultz who is a master machine quilter!!
This one is done by Elaine.

This was a piece done by Sue D as part of a class at QBL.  It is one of two beautiful pieces she did (I believe the class was Rosalie Dace and used Kandinsky as the inspiration).  This was one of my favorites of the day.  There were several other really gorgeous pieces that the ladies asked that no photographs be taken.

Pat and Donna attended an Ann Johnston class (her website is in my side bar and she is easily one of my favorite teachers).  They loved working with the thickened dyes and did many pieces, some of which I show below! Pat is one the left and Donna on the right.

Janet took a class with Elizabeth Busch (she said her third time).  I took this class many years ago and was my introduction to painting with acrylics on fabric.  Elizabeth is another of those wonderful teachers that helps you develop.  Of course I am sure Janet was a star in the class!!!  Hope she finishes these all up.  She does wonderful machine quilting.  

I really liked the lines and colors in this one.  She had a couple of other pieces as well.  She is not only very talented but also prolific!!

Marcia who runs our FB page, just keeps getting better and better at her art pieces.  I really liked this one!!

Debra has a lot of beds to cover so she just completed this quilt and had Val Schultz quit it for her.  Wonderful use of the hand dyed fabric