Friday, April 29, 2016

Adventures

On my bicycle ride the other morning, following another fruitless search for the owls, I got out on Summerlin and noticed this amazing tree is once again in bloom. I hope you like how I've framed the waning moon....
While on the subject of flowering trees, the Jacaranda are in bloom, gracing our blue sky with such lovely lavender flowers.
Naturally I do love those blooms but oh my gosh--the other day, tagging along while Irene looked at houses, I saw a tree that stopped me in my tracks. Well, actually after looking at the house which was a no go btw, I had to retrace my route to see this tree that I'd only seen from the main road. It is that kind of tree--a real show stopper.
Except I need your help with identification because I sure don't know what it is, and neither did the homeowner who was out working in his carport. Here's a closer look at the stunning blooms.
Even Pam, the master gardener in our friend circle did not know what it is. Any ideas?

Irene is one of Pam's oldest friends, dating back to their early adult years in New Jersey. After living in Portland for more than ten years she is coming back East and plans on making Orlando her home. Last October I gave her the name of a wonderful friend and realtor who she has been working with from afar. The market in Orlando is kind of crazy right now--with a low supply and high demand you get that one who is looking has to move fast. Much to our delight, a home became available just a few streets away! Pam and Irene are discussing the future of her new backyard!
It is all very exciting, and by the end of May, Irene will hopefully be situated in her new home. Did I tell you that Irene is an amazing quilter? Well she is, so that will be fun. :)

Meanwhile on both Tuesday, and Wednesday, we dined out with Zarita, Bruce's kitchen designer who was in town from Vancouver, as well as Jesse. Remember them?
I suggested we go to North Orange Tavern. Duh, Jesse called saying there is no such place. Right. North Quarter Tavern. Well the food was just as delicious as I'd remembered. Poutine. Have you tried it before? I had not so with a Canadian at the table I thought it was a good time to give it a go and was it yummy! Talking to Jonathan last evening I mentioned it and he was very familiar with it; apparently it is one of those trendy dishes and since he and Alissa live in one of the trendiest cities in the country it should not have surprised me one bit. Well the jokes on me because a quick Google search turned this up. Now I know that should I want it again there is no shortage in Orlando!

Wednesday evening we, once again met them as well as Dell, the Executive Chef for Earls on the east coast. Walking up I got to see the ongoing work, which is finally coming along nicely. The steel you see is the frame for the patio roof. As well, over PF Changs, that cut out in the wall is for the new windows for Earls.
Perhaps you don't see the steel? Now you do!!
It is going to be so dramatic that is for sure! It is also an enormous undertaking, but Mr. Bruce is hanging in there really well.

So, while we are eating I happened to glance at the adjacent table and who should I notice? Why, it is Sarah from SunDance!
That's her looking my way. I don't know about you, but sometimes when I am accustomed to seeing someone in a certain setting, when I see the same person randomly, I do a double take. That is exactly what happened here. Sarah is who talked to me at the market, what is it now, maybe four years ago? Apparently she said to her friend, "there is one of my artists over there, I wonder if she'll see me?" Why yes I did!

Does anyone else think it is downright amazing that I have three large bird nests to watch? I sure do. Riding home I saw the herons having a bit of a ruckus because a strange heron was in the live Pine tree next to their home in the dead Pine tree. This one harassed the interloper away.
Speaking of harassment, it is really interesting to watch the small birds scream at the big birds. No owls today but all was not lost; the blue jay thought if it it made enough noise the hawk would fly away. Nope.
Not a chance!

Pam's roses are going crazy, so I asked if I might bring some home.
 Remaining closer to home, here's what I'm working on for another donation.
 The little owl fabric will be the backing. Natch.

Yesterday was super warm in the afternoon, and finally it gave way to evening showers, something we'd not seen in weeks. Our plants are happy for the downpour.
The distant fence is covered now with blooming Confederate Jasmine which I have Bruce to thank for. Several years ago, he built an extension to our fence to hide our neighbor's ugly shed, losing both big toenails in the process!! You wonder how, don't you? You should after reading something like that! What happened is the ground sloped downward, and his toes were jammed against the front of his tennis shoes. Add to that, moisture, and now you know. It took months and months for them to grow back which explains why I am so keen on giving him credit where credit is due!

Shall I close with something beautiful. Of course.
Happy weekend my dear readers,

Gail

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Crazy Little Thing Called Love

It is not often that one comes across a possum crossing the street,
 however, that is what happened this morning. Glad it isn't our yard! Rats are bad enough but a possum? No thanks.

Nor is it very often that the Pecks would go see a show called, One Night of Queen, but that is exactly what we did on Sunday evening, seeing them with these folks at the Plaza Theater.
The live music we heard on Sunday could not have been any more different that's for sure. During the worship service at church there was a full slate of beautiful and I mean beautiful music. So much so that during the performance of this piece, 
I found myself with tears rolling down my face, so moving was it. One of the members, a 99 year old woman who we learned was very influential died earlier this year and the music was all selections that she picked. It really helps that the choir conductor is the musical director of the Bach Festival and is from Rollins College. So, so good. Schubert, Faure, Wilberg and several selections from Bach, it was almost overwhelming. When Joni Roos, the wonderful violinist completed the piece she nearly wept herself. :)

We met at the McCormac's for some pre concert nachos and carpooled to the Plaza which I'll always think of first as the ground breaking "rocking chair" movie theater of my youth! My sister Lisa and her husband Danny go there all of the time but this was our first visit. What a great space it is. As to the concert, I'd forgotten just how many great songs Freddy Mercury wrote!! The performer who "is" FM was really something else. Oh my were they all good!
From Britain, they travel the world performing, and indeed they lived up to one of the best known Queen songs...We Will Rock You!

Nearly forgetting again, in a stroke of luck, I saw on the calendar that it was the Monday for Days for Girls. Good grief, as if I'm too busy or something! Anyway, it was a good day of sewing. Sharleen, our amazing leader is showing off the part I played yesterday, sewing these two pieces together to form the pads.
While others with sergers, rounded the corners once these pieces were together, I kept sewing and sewing.
Of all things, the last woman on the left is also named Gail! On my way home at 3 in the afternoon I stopped to see Pam who has just returned from a three week trip to Europe. I nearly wept looking at the gorgeous fields of tulips in Holland...oh my. Around here I have to content myself with the beauty I come across including the blooming ginger,
and some beautiful hydrangeas found in Nell's yard.
The color is just outstanding! I also came across this in her driveway.
No owls today so I rode over to check on the eagles and lo and behold I discovered that there are two eaglets!! 
For all this time I thought there was only one, and finding two was quite the surprise. Aren't they getting big? 

I took this photo last week in the afternoon when the lighting is better on the heron's nest. 
So funny with the other bird flying by and one on the chimney. I tell you, the balance of birds is astounding to me. 

One more from Gatorland, I saw these Snowy Egrets squawking and clamoring and finally this happened.
Rarely do I upload videos and now I've gone and uploaded two of the Vaughan Williams piece. I believe my preference is this second version if you choose to listen to it. Absolutely magnificent!!


On with the day while grateful to be experiencing a "crazy little thing called love,"

Gail

Sunday, April 24, 2016

What a Nice Surprise!

Have you been watching Jeopardy like we have? There is this sort of creepy, or maybe I should say rich at this point, guy, who has won every day last week. I'm pretty sure his winnings so far are in the neighborhood of $150,00 because he knows everything, however, he did not know the answer to the website that hosts the most blogs, and neither did I. Turns out it is Tumblr, which reminded me that Matt had me set up a different blog there, and here it is. Only photographs, and just now looking at them, some of them are pretty good, however I never understood really how to navigate Tumblr--not then, and not now!

Can you tell how old we are acting these days? Watching Jeopardy, bird watching, sewing, what's next? Actually, interestingly enough, I've discovered that all of these pastimes are enjoyed by young and old alike. If the sheer number of quilting blogs written by young woman is any indication, sewing is on the uprise. Is that a word? Upswing, that's it. Anyway, being able to make something unique is what I think drives the addiction, oh wait, I meant to say hobby! I was thinking the other day how for most of my life I had to fit sewing into my everyday life, and now I can make sewing my everyday life. Nice.

The throw is complete. Sewing the lines so closely takes not only a lot of hours, but a lot of thread as well. For sewers amongst you, I believe I used four full bobbins! Showing my age again, I should have used the modern term, "sewist."
This one I'm going to keep for our living room. I used quite a bit of the material Jane sent me for Christmas, as well as some others that I had around. This is the first time I've made a border, and in this instance there are two, mostly because I wanted it to be larger and I'd run out of the other fabrics! For the back I used more of my estate sale fabric; how I wish I'd come across something like that again as fabric is now costlier than I can fathom. At the quilt shop it runs around $12.00 a yard. Remember that I had the good fortune to buy about fifteen pieces of fabric, many of them at least two, if not three, yards for $15.00. Now that was most definitely a nice surprise.
Lest you think I'm doing everything right, I decided to put together a baby quilt for donation using some of the squares I'd cut for Nancy's quilt. I'd found a cute little print on sale that I thought would make a good backing. Well, things were going well until I began the quilting. Trying for the first time, invisible thread, from the get go, things were shifting and puckering. I tried everything I know to do. Well, duh! After putting in multiple lines, I discovered that I'd forgotten to put on the special foot I use for quilting! All is not lost, but it is not my best effort.
So none of the above is all that surprising but just wait...here they come. My garden is looking quite nice this year because of volunteers and I don't mean the human kind. All sorts of flowers I've planted over the years are popping up and filling the space nicely. Having a cardinal at the feeder is just a bonus.
Over in no man's land, well, actually where the pool pump and garbage cans are located, I noticed another volunteer--a tomato plant! I dug it up and put it in a pot, not knowing if it would survive. By golly, we've got a little tomato!
As to whether others will join it on the plant remains to be seen.

Continuing the owl stories, Friday morning I rode over and saw no evidence of the owlets. Instead I saw the big guys in the Magnolia tree.
Watching and waiting, before long one flew over to a nearby big oak tree, out in the open I might add, and the other flew over as well.
I was so surprised by what I saw next, so much so I checked the time on my photos when I downloaded them to my computer. Between the Magnolia tree sighting and the above photo was two minutes. Neither owl had a thing in the previous picture so what I saw next was amazing.
Breakfast for the kiddos who did not show up. Eventually I left, riding all over the neighborhood, before circling back and there was still no sign of the owlets. Parent owl patiently waiting.
How and when the mouse, or I think it is a mouse, was scooped up, I'll never know. And that, my friends, is why I do not tire of watching the owls--always interesting.

For more Friday nights than he would want, Bruce's phone rings around 6:30. The call is unwelcome, but he answers it nonetheless. The caller is always the same--the manager of his restaurant in Tyson's saying the make-up air has gone down again. This is a crazy complicated system that I don't fully understand but I do understand that when something cost over $100,00, it should work all of the time! Despite his best efforts, and the countless experts he has consulted with, the problem remains intermittently. Good thing we had not planned on a date night because he ended up spending FOUR hours on phone calls!!

So, instead of Friday night lights, we went for Saturday night lights. Our destination--Johnny's Other Side, so close to home, as well as having decent food and live music. Basically a shorts type place, nothing fancy, but you probably will always find someone you know there. Walking up to find a table, who should we see but Mr. Joseph Martens, who played at the market for at least five years, doing it so well too. He left the market early last year, and it was never the same without him. How wonderful to hear his singing voice again. That is his dog lying there.
These days we still hear his voice as he hosts a radio show called Sunday Morning Coming Down that plays as we drive to church. No sooner had Joseph quit singing for the evening than Kristen showed up with her friend, Joe. Kristen and I worked together at the hospital for years. and one thing we still have in common is. we love to dance. If music is playing, and there was a very good band following Joseph, it is pretty much a given, she and I will dance. I noticed another woman tapping her foot. and we called her to the dance floor. Additionally, an old patient of mine who lives nearby was there with her new "boyfriend." Kathy joined us for a dance too.

I have boyfriend in parentheses because Kathy's husband died about three years ago from jaw cancer. For more than twenty years he drove Tom Petty's bus to all of his tour gigs. As well he did some of the same for Dave Matthews. That's quite a job, huh?  Kathy's new boyfriend is really an old boyfriend from high school who found her on facebook. How many times have you heard that story before? He, too, lost his wife from cancer, and I sure hope they can make each other happy.

So, Bruce's call is not a nice surprise, I hardly need say, but the other sightings were. Wonder what's going to happen tonight? Stay tuned....

Ready for new surprises,

Gail


Thursday, April 21, 2016

How Do They Do It?

Whereas these days I am perfectly content to sit and sew most of the day, I do know that every now and again I should get out. As such, I went to Gatorland yesterday morning. While standing in line to buy my discounted Florida resident entry fee, I struck up a conversation with a young couple from Germany who were making Gatorland their first stop during their two week vacation. I was raving about the place and the fellow asked me how often did I come? A few times a year was my response. He then wondered if I got bored with it and I emphatically replied that I did not, especially during nesting season when there are hundreds of shore birds who are very easy to photograph, unlike my elusive owls!

Speaking of which, for nearly a week I searched daily, sometimes several times a day, for the owlets, and finally I found them about two days ago. Absolutely thrilled. Yesterday, no luck. So it was that when I rode up this morning I nearly crashed my bike as one of them was in a low tree in Nell's front yard. Looking mighty cute I might add.
The sibling, who I think is the shy one, was above my head in the big oak overhanging her driveway.
Notice how the chest feathers, the bars of their name, Barred Owl, are more pronounced on the one in the oak tree? There is a reason people are so keen on owls, and that is because they are so darn CUTE!

Before you read much further I must give you a warning....there are loads of bird photos upcoming, and should that not interest you, now is the perfect time to move onto something else on facebook!!

So, if you are from Germany say, or Nova Scotia as some other folks I spoke with were, seeing an alligator is really something. If you are from Florida like I am, you've seen one, you've seen them all. That said, it does always amaze me how the birds and gators coexist.
One of the things I so love about Gatorland is how corny it is and proud of it. Nothing wrong with that in my book.

You may be under the impression that I like all kinds of birds, and of the ones I've seen, which are but a grain of sand on the beach, what with 10,000 bird species to see in this world, the bird I find both ugly and fascinating, is the Wood Stork. The head and feet are what get to me.
So, you can't see the feet in the photo above, but you do get a glimpse of their redeeming feature which is the blackish/green wing tips. Although the photo below is not entirely in focus, I'm digging it because of those wings!
All manner of the birds were in their breeding plummage including this Cattle Egret. 
There are newly hatched Snowy Egrets still in the nest,
and while we are on the subject of Snowy Egrets, they are pure white birds that are difficult to photograph in bright light. Luckily this one was in some slight shade.
The day was way too bright for my visit, but that did not stop me, nor did it stop some male photographers who set up their giant tripods on the walkway...so rude. Their lenses were like, at least a foot long, so big that when I saw them finally moving out of everyone's way, they carried them on their back, AND in a stroller. Good grief!

Last year I saw many more nests filled with beautiful blue eggs; this visit only one and it was hard to focus on because they hide them. Well duh!!
That said, the reason the birds nest alongside the gators is because the gators are only too happy to eat any bird egg predators. One of thousands of gators you will see during a visit there.
Plus, there were a ton of vultures which is another bird with a super weird head! This soft shelled turtle figured it was outnumbered and slunk back into the pond.
So there are nests, and there are newborn, but the burning question is HOW DO BIRDS MAKE BABIES? Well, now I know, and you will too if you have gotten this far! Firstly, here is the technical explanation. (Click on link!!)

Walking along the boardwalk, I noticed a gorgeous TriColored Heron in a palm,
who just kind of hung out while what happened next was happening. Here's an up close look at the feathers...
Aren't they something? Anyway, adjacent to the above beautiful bird I saw two other darkly colored birds which I have now learned are called Little Blue Herons. Unlike the big boy herons, they are really blue. I'm thinking this was the "kissing phase."
Next up, the mounting...
Never have I witnessed anything like this before, and in my clueless state, I hardly knew what was going on. The full mount came next..
The females must be pretty strong to hold up the male while precariously perched on a palm frond! A flurry of wing flapping going on....
And then it was time to relax...
Perhaps you've noticed the nearby nest pictured? According to the handy link, sometimes it does not take so they go at it again. Just saying....

Obviously I could show more, and although I'd love to, I suspect you've had enough of birds. Switching gears, I caught the pesky squirrel gnawing away at our recycling bin, and if that weren't enough for him/her, the garbage can with the green lid is showing signs of becoming squirrel food!
I don't know who was the brilliance behind making the garbage lid green when for YEARS green has been the color of recycling. Duh!

Completely unrelated to bird sex, Barb sent me a text on Saturday morning stating that she sat down to watch her favorite channel on television, HGTV, and what should she see, but her friends, Bruce and Gail saying "wow" multiple times on national television. A screen shot proved it. Speaking of that house, in spite of what Ashlee said on the show, the house remains on the market.

In other news, my hearing is returning!! Woo hoo!!

It's a good day to sew,

Gail

You Just Never Know