Sunday, January 31, 2016

What Have You Gotten Me Into??

I noticed someone had read an old post, called "Winter Color", and after reading it myself, I thought how short my memory is. Turns out we thought that year, 2013, the weather was unusual for winter. Aren't they all?? And what is normal anyway?

That said, how about this for some Winter color?? Oh my gosh, the sun finally came out on Friday and look at that sky!
There is no editing whatsoever on the photograph--the colors were just this vibrant explaining why I pulled over to the side of the road to take the shot! I want to remember it on the inevitable next dreary day. Speaking of which, Thursday the rain continued most all day. And, lest you think I was exaggerating about the pool...
We've now drained a bunch out, and while doing so yesterday morning, I heard an unfamiliar bird call. Scanning the trees, I saw a large bird in one of our Pine trees, about 80 feet in the air. Running inside, I grabbed the Nikon which has the longest zoom, and in a first for me, I took a shot of a Peregrine Falcon in the wild whose call you can listen to here ,should you so desire.
A very handsome bird, but one I'm not thrilled about having around should said falcon try and scoop up one of our Cardinals!!

Speaking of birds, which as any longtime reader of Camera Crazy knows is par for the course on this blog, someone made me aware of a website featuring a live cam of some Eagle hatchlings, prompting me to want to check on our Herons down the street. They are so high up it is hard to tell much, however, I was surprised to see at least three Herons there; possibly a fourth, although I never could be certain.
My zoom just does not reach far enough to get any good shots, but what I can see with my eyes is so very interesting.

On that rainy Thursday afternoon, Cheryle came by and said Catherine was due to return from England around 6, so why not join them for dinner? The promise of good friends and a FIRE in the fireplace was more than I could resist. However, turns out Catherine's flight was delayed, so although she would not be there, airbnb guests from both Switzerland and Finland would. David made a lovely fire, we ate, and chatted. I was smitten with these cute Finnish twins who are documentary film makers.
Their English was excellent, and I learned a heck of a lot about Finland over the course of two hours. As you know I am pretty partial to boys!

The photo below is merely for nostalgia. Driving home from an errand on Friday I came across this house with the VW station wagon in the front yard. I might add there was a MINI Cooper as well, although I could not get it in the shot. Anyway, when Bruce and I were married we had a VW Fastback which is not something you see every day either. Close enough for the memories...
As to today's post title, here it comes. About two weeks ago I received an email via Cheryle about volunteering to attend an open house nearby. Could we come on Saturday, January 30th at 11? Long story short, it was for the show, which apparently premiered last night, Zombie House Flippers on the FYI network. Much to my surprise, there was a front page article in the Sentinel about the show yesterday, so should you be wanting to know more, read this.

I'd seen work being done on this house while bike riding, but did not know immediately that it was part of their little empire. As the paint went on the exterior, I had my suspicions and they proved right.
I wrote about the house they did on Cheryle's street here. As we were walking up, Bruce looked at me and said had I known what they would want from us, I'm not sure I would have agreed.

What have you gotten me into???

A mic, for starters:
We were given instructions about what to wear, no logos, no all white or black, no crazy patterns; those were their main no-nos. And then it was on-camera time. We basically walked through the house with the realtor, making exclamations about how great everything is. The producer suggested we go as over the top as we could. For me it was not hard to do at all because it is a really pretty home. Brucer, on the other hand, was slightly more restrained, which is no surprise. He did look mighty cute. It took about an hour, and when it was all done, I shot this photo of the realtor, Ashley, and one of the two cameramen in the newly sodded front yard.
I suspect the nearly one hour of filming will result in about a twenty second shot of us, but who knows? Plus, I haven't the slightest idea when it will air but should I find out, I will let you know.

And no, we could not afford the house!

So many links...so little time,

Gail

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Two Inches and Then Some

The swimming pool runneth over following an all night rain Tuesday night. It is still softly raining, which is so unusual for this time of year. Enough already!!

Bruce is in Vancouver for some meetings and apparently the weather there is not too dissimilar. Chilly, rainy and overcast. Please come back to us Mr. Sun.

Speaking of the sun, I was remiss in my last post for not mentioning Cheryle's big Thursday night showing at the Avalon Gallery downtown. Her very first gallery showing in Orlando at one of the most prestigious places in our area to show art. Arriving early, no being fashionably late for this girl, the sun was setting over downtown, prompting me to pull over to take a few shots.
The little pin dots of white are cars heading into downtown during the evening commute.
Although they don't work downtown, both Bill and Dave work for Sun Trust, the tallest building pictured. Speaking of their work, I am so proud of Mr. Bill for finishing the year as #3 in the whole company at his position. As has been brought up before, he was my most challenging teenager, and it is such a good feeling, as a Mom, to see how he got past all that teenage angst to make a good life. :)

So, here is the gallery:
Don't actually know why that last piece is leaning...hope they've straightened it up by now. Cheryle (in the red) is chatting up Bunker and Cathy.
I am so, so, proud of her. While on the topic of art, I rarely get any emails of significance anymore, however, one that Central Floridians will be interested in is the one from the chairman of the Maitland Spring Art Festival stating that they are canceling the show due to lack of interest! I can't say as I blame the artists because there are so many, many, shows, and the only time I did that one, the attendance was spotty at best. The buyers, mostly nonexistent.

Monday morning, bright and early, well not really so early, but anyway, when I pulled up the women were waiting for the doors to open.
Look...we do have occasional blue skies!! A big group of us got right down to sewing following instructions from our leader, Sharleen. I worked on topstitching the shields and pockets for the shields. It has been fun getting to know the ladies. Susan, pictured in the front, is a former elementary school teacher who was thrilled to retire. Floridians will undoubtedly understand her frustration with how the school system is functioning of late.
Also available were some photographic prints showing the delivery of the kits to Malawi. On the back of the photo it says, "from your hands to their hands, 8,328 miles away." How great is that? And how amazing that the need has been identified.

Just before leaving I got a text from Pam requesting a consultation--I replied, I'll stop by on my way home. Discussing where exactly to cut apart the nine patch block she is making, we sorted it all out. Ready to get home to my honey I hopped in the car, turned the key and nothing. Nada. Fortunately, Glenn was just then coming down the street having left work early because he was not feeling so well. He had a slow charger which he attached to my battery, and there my car sat, all night long. Thank goodness for both friends, and the car dying in their driveway!
In the morning, after taking Bruce to the airport, I rode my bike over, rolled it into the back of the Pilot, and off I went in search of a new battery. Pep Boys had one in stock; bonus points for being super close. The waiting area was clean, but grim.
I think the funniest part of the picture above is that little yellow tree air freshener. The water fountain was held together by clear duct tape. Yeesh! The good news is that it took no time at all to put in the new battery, and before I knew it, I was on my way to the grocery store. My grocery shopping has been so spotty and disorganized of late that one of the things I needed was plain salt. Who runs out of salt???

Back home, I started work on another quilt for Project Linus. Using a mix of new and estate sale fabrics, I used a super simple design on this little quilt. I also used, and have been using, my seam ripper way more than I can ever remember!
On some blog I read the author called using a seam ripper, reverse sewing. Yup. The plaid in the front is from the estate sale and one thing I notice about old fabrics is the tiny selvage and name of the manufacturer. Today, instead of that tiny "Hi Fashion Fabrics..." they use large print, causing you to waste precious fabric. While at Wandering Stitches the other day, I saw some batik fabric for $13.50 a yard which is not anything you want to waste, for sure.

Because it was so simple, I had it done in no time and was ready to do the hand sewing, except I had no purple thread. Hmmm....none in Mom Peck's sewing box, but alas, I found some in Grandma Loveland's sewing box!
Sitting myself down in the living room, I turned on Netflix to find a documentary, and did I ever find a doozy...Best of Enemies.

Pretty amazing stuff.

And then it was done.
Now, onto something for us....

Awaiting inspiration for my next project,

Gail

Monday, January 25, 2016

Bang Stories, and a Finished Quilt

In spite of me writing that my Mother said I should never wear bangs, there is new evidence to the contrary sent to me by Nancy.....
I had them in the above photo, taken in Buffalo...that's me on the left of my Mother. Carol, too, is wearing a jumpsuit, albeit one that seems as if she needed a diaper change. :)

Then too, when we moved to Florida, I was sporting some bangs....
Again, I am on the left in front. Nancy has grown a bit, held, of course by our Mother who sure looks pretty glam for a woman who has had five children already! She went on to have a sixth, although Lord knows why because she  certainly was not suited to such a big family, and that is a fact.

After reading my last post, both sister Nancy and sister Maureen called with bang stories. Maureen claimed that Carol and I cut each other's bangs, and the photo above sure looks like it! Nancy recalled that our Father cut our hair and did not do a very good job of it. I will have to accept these memories as fact because I recall virtually nothing. Sad, but true.

That said, in all of my school pictures I'm either wearing a headband, or my hair is behind my ear, so that validates some of what I had to say earlier! Someone must have convinced my Father that he was not to touch our hair anymore! I only wish I had the photos my sisters have...my batch is so puny, with hardly any of the rest of the family, and those are the ones that interest me the most.

Our weather has been up and down lately; the other morning I set out on my bicycle under a very gray and chilly sky. A big flock of birds huddled in Lake Pineloch. Stopping to take this photograph, it began raining; fortunately there was a big tree I could shelter under. My camera went around my neck and inside my jacket!
David and Michelle live in one of the barely visible buildings across the lake. This chilly weather suits my friend Angela just fine. We had a nice visit on Friday afternoon. Guess what was happening when I arrived? Her friend Cindy was over and they were making some curtain panels for a charity pregnancy clinic!
Angela is doing okay--good and bad days--just what you would expect. I only wish she would eat a little more as she is mighty thin.

I finished the quilting on Friday, attached the binding, and all that was left was hand sewing the binding onto the back side. Saturday morning was a perfect time to do so as it was cold and gray. Plus, Bruce had to go to the job sight, so I sat there for way too long in my long robe, sewing away. While doing so I watched the Glen Campbell documentary on Netflix, and let me tell you, it is good. What is extraordinary is his ability to play guitar like nobodies business even when he no longer recognizes his family. The brain is a mystery isn't it?

So, here is a look at the finished quilt....
the back is entirely different due more to necessity than artistry!
The sun finally shone late in the day...what you are seeing is the sun on the top half, while the bottom half is in shadow. I've got one more simple one in the works for the Linus project, and then I might just make something for us!

We had a fire going Saturday afternoon. Doesn't it looks pretty in the "new" fireplace?
Do you see what I see below?
That would be DUST on them there shelves! I needed to actually use some of the shelving for sewing supplies which forced me to finally DUST them! Looks much better now.

While having my hair cut last week, Monica told me about another Asian street food place situated in the midst of a big stretch of Asian businesses on Colonial Drive. She said it was nice to look at, and she was right. We saw it for ourselves after church on Sunday.
The simple decor was perfect and the food was yummy too. The owners are Malaysian, so I suppose there is an emphasis on that cuisine? I figured we would like it just because I like the font they used for signage.
Mamak...give it a try if you live around here. I used to buy my work uniforms from the place you see pictured a few doors down. Whenever I began to miss working, I remembered how sick I was of wearing uniforms and that little nag went right away!

Following lunch we drove out to Costco to get the glasses and I'm not clear if I can get used to them. It is complicated...

Today was Days for Girls, which I'll show you in my next post.

My goodness, it is time to think of something for dinner.

Hungry,

Gail

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Staying Close to Home

Don't you just love it when spring flowers start showing up in the stores?
Yesterday I ventured out of the house for a much needed haircut, which in some circles would hardly qualify as news, but for me it is noteworthy. If I was lazy before on this front, Lord knows I'm doing something that will facilitate that even more so in the future, as I've decided to grow out my bangs. Bangs, which according to my late Mother, I never should have had in the first place.

It was a daring thing to do, given how mean my parents were, to have a friend cut them for the first time back when I was in elementary school with a pair of nail scissors. Who knew I was such a rebel, aged 9?Actually, I can't really remember if I got a spanking with the paddle for that crime or not, but I do remember my Mom saying my forehead was too small for bangs. Funny how you remember that sort of thing so clearly. Anyway, perhaps she was right; I do know they grow so fast, and annoy me so much when they get too long, causing me to cut them myself. Poorly, I might add. More than once Monica has cringed at my efforts. Well, it is finally time to solve that. Just a heads up for the next time you see me in person.

Come to think of it, it is pretty newsworthy after about 45 years of bangs....

Speaking of Mothers, today would have been Bruce's Mom's birthday had she not passed away in 2010. I will never forget how happy I was when the Sentinel called to write a story about her!  Because Bruce and I have been together since aged 13, she was indeed like a second Mother to me. Just last week I made some potholders for a friend using some of her rickrack; she was quite the seamstress, way more accomplished than I am. I really like to spread her love around by using her notions, not to mention Angela has some of her Swedish Ivy in her back yard now after taking cuttings from one she gave me. Come to think of it, I'm a lot more like Bruce's Mom than I am my own. This quilt from Mom Peck has given me lots of inspiration.
Made from what appears to be old shirts, it is most definitely hand quilted and perhaps hand pieced! What a lot of work that must have been. Not to mention that there were no quilting blogs to consult, fabric choices in the thousands, along with handy ways to purchase said fabric. I, for one, have immersed myself recently in the quilting blog world and have learned quite a lot. Being mostly self taught, it turns out there is quite a wide range of ideas on how best to do things. I learned from one blog a new way to pin which works beautifully.
Rather than having the pins face inward, where your chance of running over them with a needle is great, she suggested the above placement which worked beautifully. As well, I'd always ironed the seams toward the darker side, however, others insist you iron the seams open which I did on this quilt. All of my seams, or at least 98% of them, fit together beautifully, so whether it is because I am improving or the ironing helped remains to be seen. I already knew about chain piecing, but again that amazing thread cutter is a wonderful tool to make it all easier. I was working on a design using some fabric I bought on sale at Hobby Lobby. Making it up as I went along was both fun and interesting in a good way. About six blocks are chained in the image below.
Laying them out on our bed I knew that I needed a little more contrast for the sashing (fabric between the blocks), deciding gray would be perfect.
Plus, putting more of the two inch red squares might be nice. I ran up to HL to pick up some gray, and lo and behold, turning around, what should I see but this:
One of the many images SunDance has written on. It is a really weird feeling to be surprised like that. As it was when I did a Google search for my name to find the article I linked to above. What should I discover but this! If anyone had told me eight years ago that I would be on the Getty images website, I would have called them crazy!

Well, the top was all done and it was time to use that table method again.
It worked so, so this time. Anyway, I spent about three hours on the quilting, completing about half of it. That seems like a lot of time, only to give something away, but if you consider all of the time I put into the Polasek, it pales. Plus, this seems way, way more useful, and I am all about useful.

Back to the photographer side of me, I can still remember the first time I photographed this gorgeous winter blooming plant. The color just thrilled me, and it still did when I saw it in Pam's back garden.
Isn't it something?

Some of my local friends might be interested in this blog post. Come to think of it, anyone who grows strawberries might find it useful.

Would you like to hear some good health news for a change? Do you remember when my market friend, Alan, came down with bacterial meningitis and nearly died? I am happy to report that I received a very hope filled Christmas card from him. In spite of losing both legs below the knee, his letter was joyful. Taking months, and months, and months, to get rid of the infection, he soon will be fitted with prosthetics, hoping to be up and about before you know it. I was, understandably, thrilled with his news.

The mornings have been chilly, thus I've wussed out on my bike riding but this morning, I'm putting on some warm clothes right now. Time to stray a little further from home...

Bundling up,

Gail

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Out of the Ordinary

Just when I was extolling the virtues of finding joy in the ordinary, I do something way, way, out of the ordinary for me. Our friend Bea asked if I would be willing to help at an opera event. Being the somewhat amendable type, I agreed, however, I know zero about opera, and pretty much zero about what she wanted me to do. Not one to let a lack of knowledge stop me, I drove out to Trinity Prep around noon yesterday, dressed all in black, as requested. This was a little harder for me than you might expect what with my colorful closet!

In any case, I arrived, and before noticing much of anything else, I saw purple ribbons tied around tree after tree in the common area between the buildings. Asking another volunteer if she knew what they were for, she explained a very sad situation involving a young athlete. Of all things, his story was front page news in the Orlando Sentinel today. Be prepared to be very sad if you read it.

What was a newbie like me assigned to do? Not very much, as it turns out. Greeting people as they came in, offering a program, and a soft plea for a donation. How hard is that? In between I chatted up a storm with the other ladies who all had very interesting life stories.
So what was the event you ask? The Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions for the Southeast Region. 35 singers, aged 30 and under, were competing for a chance to move onto the Atlanta competition. There was a nice lunch provided which we ate outdoors on the patio on a very beautiful day.
You know I can't resist a lakeside shot! The temperature was in the high 70's, and just plain lovely. That said, it changed dramatically overnight which I'll explain in a moment.

After lunch I went into the auditorium to watch a few performances. Can you believe I've never been to an opera before? You would think that sometime in my 62 years I would have been, but nope--never once. So, what did I think? I was impressed!

The singer chose one piece to sing, accompanied by a pianist. At the judges discretion they sang another chosen by them. Talking to a few of the singers afterwards, I asked how it felt when after one song they were dismissed. I sound like a reporter asking a dumb question, don't I? Surprisingly, there are two schools of thought...one, that they were so impressed with the first song that the judges had seen enough. The other--well, you can surely figure that one out.

Seated pretty far back, without a zoom, I took one, not very good shot, of this nice young woman performing-- Lauren Feider.
She sounded great to me, however, they all pretty much did! I was seated behind a group of performers and when the competition was complete there was some idle time while the judges made their selections. I began chatting with them, and took a photo of the group who seemed to get along quite well despite competing against one another.
As it turns out, they are all Florida State Seminoles!!! Thus the plain colored dresses and bone heels. :)

Another contestant, who was not asked to sing a second time, had a little time to chat. A beautiful young woman, she told me she'd taken a break to have two children and was just getting back into auditions. She, unlike the girls above, wore a super sparkly red dress and heels--very striking indeed. Anxious, she sat with her husband waiting for the results.
A crazy coincidence happened as well. Judith, one of the other volunteers asked me what I do. Trying to be low key I said I sold art photography. She clamored for details, asking if I could show her my photography. Since closing down my website that is not as easy as it once was, so I resorted to showing her the SunDance website. Of all things, last evening when I had time to peruse the program who should be listed as an in-kind donor? Yup, SunDance, who I suspect printed those very programs I was handing out! Small, small world.

Wanting to get home, I left around four before the winners were announced. Sitting down to write this post I looked them up and what do you know......here they are. I did have a chat with one of the Encouragement Award winners, Shannon Jennings who was competing all the way from California where her husband works for Google. As well I heard Ana Collado who seemed very good to me.

So, how is that for out of the ordinary?

Here's something else that does not happen every day....
We had quite a flock of these little cuties, who not only rode on the pool cleaner, but did their best to drink out of the pool by leaning into it. Here's a look at their sweet little face.
This morning they would not have had to lean far as the pool is filled to the brim by a super wild overnight storm. In fact, Bruce and I both woke up around 3 AM to the loudest thunder clap we've ever heard! I can seriously not describe how loud it was. Around 7 this morning, the clouds moved out and it is beautiful once again, albeit chilly.

I took a recent drive through the peacock neighborhood to see how they were doing.
She looks supremely uninterested doesn't she?

In the last year or so I've noticed that my reading glasses, in spite of increasing their strength to about the max you can buy at any store, are not really doing the trick. I finally did something about it, visiting the optometrist at Costco. Also in the midst of a wild rain storm, but I digress. They convinced me to get a retina image done.
All is well in that department, however, I have had a tiny digression in my distance vision which still remains good. The near sight, not so much. Reader strength? 3.50! Glasses forthcoming. Cute, or so I hope.

Our heron remains on the nest. Wonder how they handle it when the winds are more than 25mph like last night? This tree is at least 80 feet tall and probably sways like crazy.
Have you noticed the evenings getting longer? Have you noticed the mornings getting shorter? My goodness it stays dark so late in the morning. I'm looking for some balance.

Speaking of balance, Judith, another volunteer gave me a little lecture on pilates and yoga doing wonders for balance. And, she also mentioned that at 58 she has ripped abs. The things people tell me.....

Bruce is over at Bill's house helping, while I'm writing and learning how to make Half Square Rectangles.  It's a tough life I lead...

Never taking my good fortune for granted,

Gail




Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Joy in the Ordinary

While talking to Pam about that Quilt Dad blog, I expressed my surprise that he'd kept it going for so long as most people bore of blogging over time. She mentioned that some folks probably agonize over their posts, which I know to be true. As well, she thought people might feel as if they have nothing profound to say.

Well, to that I say--profound? Who cares? If I were to guess, most folks that come back to this little space on the World Wide Web aren't looking for the profound, instead, they may, or so I hope, appreciate my joy in the ordinary. After all, most of life is pretty ordinary, don't you think? Year after year, the days go by, and it is what you make of the ordinary that brings happiness. At least that's how I see it.

Continually amazed at the little things, I find something to be thrilled with every single day. Take for example this darling little tag I noticed on my tea bags from Matt. Indeed, that is my cup of tea.
Finishing the actual quilting, which if you don't know too much about the art of quilting, the purpose is to keep the inside from shifting around during laundering. Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, the binding goes on with the machine...in this instance, all 270 inches of it.
It looks like this once you are done with the machine stitching...
Sorry for another one of the binding--just wanting to show off the cute Paris fabric on the back.
By the way, I bought that darling fabric for a shirtwaist dress, only to discover I did not have an adequate amount. In my humble opinion, it works perfectly here. During the college football championship game I sewed, by hand, all of the binding onto the back. The game was long! Plus, Clemson lost, although they did play a hell of a game. Nonetheless, it kept me sitting still long enough to complete the hand stitching. In the morning, I washed it in the machine, and before you know it, I'd given it away, but not before taking this shot to show you how it turned out.
Here is the last, and I promise, quilt news in this post. Pam brought over her latest; she's calling it a Lily Pulitzer lap quilt. It helps that pink and green are her favorite colors! Isn't it cute?
Oops, I got a little ahead of myself with that promise. One more thing...we went to Wandering Stitches last night for the "class night" when they show off all the classes for the year. Just when you thought it was all gray haired woman quilting...
Nope, not everyone is old, and there were even a few men in the crowd. Plus, of all things, both Pam and I won something in the raffle! AND, the woman sitting next to Pam lives in Southern Oaks and was as friendly as can be. I'm thinking you'll be hearing more about Pat in the coming months.

What other ordinary things do I have for you today? How does a Great Blue Heron nest sound?
Only three doors down from us!! This morning, during my ride, I stopped to talk to Regina in front of this house. She was out walking her cute Welsh Corgi, Argyle, as she does every morning. While we were chatting I pointed out the nest, and wouldn't you know it, in the next few moments the male came flying in, presumably with food for mama on the nest! She said, "how do you spot these things?" I guess I'm always looking?

There is certainly nothing special about a hibiscus flower in Florida. You can find them everywhere, but when the light hits them just right, I find it magical.
Finally leaving the house yesterday for much needed food shopping, as well as other supplies, I pulled my camera out of my purse lickety split when I noticed this great cloud formation.
Driving home, this crazy car made me wonder what kind of person does this????
Riding my bike, our state bird perched on a palm frond says Florida to me.
How do you like this darling mini bench in front of someone's house?
After some searching for Maureen, I discovered that indeed, we have seen Mexican Flame vines in January before, but I've yet to do the same research as to sunflowers. This patch is blooming in front of a super crummy house trailer, sprucing the place up immeasurably.
The bees are having a hey day! More flowers? Why yes, I'm posting another flower because not only is it orange, but it brings a smile to my face every time I ride past it on my bicycle.
My bicycle ride? Super chilly this morning, that's for sure. I had to force myself to go, but once out and about, I was happy I did because otherwise I'd be missing all the excitement of the outdoors. You just never know what you will see. The giant wingspan of a Great Blue Heron for example....

With joy in my heart,

Gail

p.s. I learned that the handmade blankets and quilts donated to our local Project Linus chapter go mostly to the Children's Advocacy Center serving foster children. Apparently the hospitals get all the goodies while the foster children are ignored. Now you know.

You Just Never Know