Friday, March 31, 2017

And Then There Were Even More

With Bruce gone all week, I've struggled some nights with what to fix myself for dinner, generally forgetting to get anything out of the freezer in time. Getting a wee bit creative the other night, I thought I'd make asparagus, over penne with a little lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Because the grill pan was already on the stove, I gave grilled asparagus a go, and it was delicious!
It is really something how you can use just a few ingredients and oftentimes, those are the dishes that are the best. Seriously, it was that good.

While we are in the kitchen, I finally called a repair person for the refrigerator, and the bad news, or at least as far as an inconvenience is concerned, is that we will have to let the refrigerator defrost for 48 hours! Turns out the reason Bruce was not able to remove that panel is because it was frozen in place! Two full days without a fridge is going to really be something. At least we can pay the $200 bill;  I can easily remember a time when that would have been the worst part of this mess. 

Furthermore, for those who haven't realized it, when I put a link in the post it is to save you the trouble of Googling something. All you need do is click on the part that is a different color, and you will be directed to that page. BTW--that different color is ORANGE.

Although the Tabebuia trees were pretty much a bust this year, the bougainvillea have been just tremendous. Our friend Lisa has this gorgeous beauty in her front yard.
For some reason the photograph makes it look more pink than it is...a gorgeous peachy orange is the true color. 

This would be the hot pink version:
I see this scene every time I head down Greenwood Street, as all of the other photographers do that make the trek over daily.

I will admit, it was so much more fun when not so many folks knew about the owls. Now, when I pull up it looks like this, or at least it did yesterday morning.
I show up with my little camera hanging off my wrist, and I look like the amateur that I am. When I arrived, they informed me that I'd missed the feeding already, and Mama was hanging just hanging out in the opposite tree. Playing a little peek-a-boo with the moss.
My new friend Candy told me there were Wood Duck babies in nearby Lake Davis, so I went in search of them. At first they were swimming around in the reeds making them hard to spot but eventually they took to the open water coming across these Egrets.
Mama made a little fuss, and they all went on their way.  To the East, all of a sudden a Swan took off, and if you've seen them picking up steam over the water before,  you know what a sight it is to behold.
I actually went to Lake Davis way too late in the morning with the sun high in the sky, so after my disappointment at finding all the other photographers at the nest, I decided to walk through the Wetlands park alone. Because I'd seen Wood Ducks there as well, I thought perhaps I might find some babies in a more shady location. Well, no ducks, but this happened.
Yup, I was walking down towards a stream when commotion occurred overhead, and look who paid me a visit! That light green background is the new growth on the Cypress trees. Everywhere there are so many wonderful shades of green!
While I'm watching the owl, I begin hearing the loud cry of a nearby hawk. When the owl flew way high in a nearby Oak tree, I craned my head skyward, eventually finding that loud Hawk, high up in a Pine tree, still squawking away!
Back on the home front, I continued my quilting, finally getting past the worst of it. The middle distance is a big 110" curve, and that, my friends, is no easy feat on a home machine!
You can see the diamond pattern forming above. The sad thing is, I woke up way early this morning thinking about the quilt, and wondering why I'd gone to so much work when, in fact, I don't think that tan color works at all. There is a saying about quilts which may sound silly to some of you, but the term is "having a quilt that sings." In other words, wows you with either the quilting, or the color combination. Mine does not sing, and it's too late to do anything about it now except for looking at it as a learning experience. Just not enough contrast in the tones of the fabric. Next time, I'll do better.

I can't thank Pam enough for convincing me to have our yard spray guys do our bushes as well because some of them have never looked better after their visit last month. This hibiscus sings!
I had a long chat with Nell the other morning, still working hard in her yard at 80+ years old, I might add. Who is Nell? I was asking her about our owls...where are they? Generally I roam her yard like crazy taking photographs, but no sighting to date. I decided to have a look back in my blog to see when first I saw them last year. THIS was a fun read. Written on April 1 of last year, not only does it show our owlets, but it tells the story of our trip home from California, and about learning I was pregnant with twins, who celebrate their birthday tomorrow. When I wrote that post, I am certain that I never expected to be moving across the country again!

The countdown begins...three months!

Every now and again I take a look at things related to Vancouver, including this piece that talks about their annual Cherry Blossom festival.  Holy Cow! Now that is something to look forward to next Spring! As well, I've checked the weather, and it seems as if they have had no shortage of rain. Here, it is dry as can be, although there were some teaser clouds Wednesday night.
Oddly enough, last night the sky was clear as can be with a beautiful Crescent Moon, and then this morning we had a tiny sprinkling which did not dissuade me from going out once again in search of an owl, this time one that only a few folks know about. Truth is, I could not find the nest myself, but while looking everywhere, once again, a little commotion, and I saw it, perched way high in an Oak tree. While the lighting was too dim for an acceptable photograph, I was at least happy I saw it for myself.

Lo and behold, just about thirty minutes later, as I was driving down a street, I stopped the MINI in a New York minute when I saw this hawk beside the road. Taking the photograph through my windshield did not yield the best shot, but I believe it is the first time I've seen what I'm pretty sure is a Cooper's Hawk, which according to Audubon, their diet consists of small birds, and friends, that is what is under his claws. Hard to tell from this shot, but I have another, less clear of the hawk, but the bird is easily identified.
This has been a darn good year for me when it comes to firsts, as far as birds are concerned!

Finally, I thought you might find the following photograph interesting. When I've shown the Eagle perched in a tree, watching the nest, here's what the full scene looks like. Would that airplane be considered a photo-bombing incident?
Just trying to stay current with my lingo.

yours truly,

Gail

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Who Doesn't Love Spring?

Seriously, is there anyone of sound mind that doesn't love Spring? What with all of the beautiful flowering trees and plants, not to mention the darling little babies being born, what's not to like? Of course, you aren't as obsessed with the bird thing like myself, or, maybe you are.

I know I'm not the only one as each time I head over to Greenwood I meet new folks, both male and female, who can't get enough of the owls, or the eagles. I might venture to guess, some of those same folks are even more obsessed than I am, going there daily, rather than every couple of days, as is my practice.

Of course, that was before this happened yesterday morning.
So, here's the scoop....

After Bruce left for his Dallas flight early yesterday morning, I thought to myself, "it's been a few days since you were last at Greenwood, why not go now?  Why not indeed? Parking the MINI around sunrise, I was hoping I would see both of our bird families, and I was not disappointed in the least.
Do you see what I see in the upper branches of the lone Pine tree?

You may remember me talking about the "golden hour" and here's quite the example of that.
From talking with other enthusiasts, who are more knowledgeable than I, this is probably the male eagle, watching the nest from afar. I had the place all to myself, or so I thought until I walked closer to the nest,  seeing the eaglets testing their wings.
It was there that I ran into Jack Rogers, my former Historical Geology professor from Valencia, who had driven over before school. We talked about the owls, and he told me he'd seen the owlets already.

Say what?? Oh my gosh.

Walking over to the trees, we spotted both parents, the Mama was perched behind the nest amidst the Spanish Moss, while the male was in his usual location in the adjacent tree. After a bit, she popped on top of the crevice and there she was as pictured above.

I was pretty much freaking out at the action before my eyes! The cuteness of this was making me crazy! Plus, I felt so blessed to witness nature in action.
Down she went...
and the action began, with her feeding the owlets a rat. Curious, every now and again, they would look out into the wider world.  Glancing at my watch every so often, I had to take my leave because I actually had something important to do. I left Jack with his tripod...
Once home, I made a mad dash to get ready for Days for Girls, finishing one of the quilting lines before packing the sewing machine, as the quilt was still under the needle. We had a real treat during our time together. Make that more like huge inspiration from Helen, our partner, who actually distributes the kits to the girls in Malawi. Look at that beautiful smile!
She absolutely radiated goodness! Her descriptions of the dire conditions facing the people of Malawi brought tears to my eyes. Passing around a scad of photographs of the young woman who actually receive our kits was enough to get all of us inspired anew. She claims, and I don't think she is exaggerating one bit, that we are changing girl's lives with our work. On her last trip she distributed nearly 800 kits from our group, which may not sound like a lot to you, and I'll grant you it is a drop in the bucket of  the needs, however, each kit takes so many steps to make, I think it is miraculous! Should you care to know more about the mission of Days for Girls, please click on this link.

Pictured below are the two dynamos that make it all happen, Sharleen, in the foreground, and Helen in the back.
When I got home, I set up my machine to keep working on the liners, although Baxter sure seems to have other ideas about me using my chair!
Actually, I pushed him closer to the back and sat down anyway, sewing about ten more liners together before the pull of my bird obsession proved to be too strong. Back I went to Greenwood in the late afternoon, and naturally, I ran into others that I know. John,  is the one who originally told me about the owls. The middle woman is Kim, and Sally in the mustard pants, is one of our Hill's Happy Hour group. Having told her about the eagles and owls, a few weeks ago, she is completely hooked as well. That said, we only saw the eaglets hopping around in their nest.
Good grief, I went back again this morning!! Forgive me for showing yet another photo but in spite of the hundreds I've taken of owls in the past few years, it is only just now that I am loving those marks on her inside tail feathers. Very retro actually. (apologies for the poor lighting)
Aren't they cute? This morning there was not a repeat of yesterday's action, however, I met a woman named Candy who was not only a lovely person, she was also a fount of information. Go to Lake Eola and see the baby swans was her advice.

You might be surprised to learn that once I quit doing the market, I don't think I've been back to Lake Eola ever since. Weird, isn't it? Throughout my years there,  I would always see the swans hatching, well, because I saw them every week. Heeding her advice, I drove the few miles over, and began walking around the lake. I came across this display which is very important to our son David who will be attending over weekend. My sweet twins will be celebrating their 38th (!) birthday on Saturday. Because of Dave's plans, our plans with them will probably have to wait until the following weekend.
If you've been to Lake Eola, you know the swans are plentiful, which means you have probably seen many images of them on Camera Crazy before. That aside, I could not resist another of this graceful bird.
Lo and behold, as I made my way past the Wrestlemania sign, look what I saw...
Holy Cow they were cute as can be!
I suspect, just a few months ago, the lake would have filled the area where they were sunning themselves, however, because we are now considered to be in a mild drought, the lake is very low.

So, I kept walking and YIKES, more cuteness!
Let it be known that choosing what photos to put into this post was extremely difficult. As in excruciating, because there are so many cute subjects. 😀

On we go over to the area adjacent to the swan boats..and, here they are!
While standing there, a darling young woman from Ohio stopped to take photographs, and we oohed and aahed over them together. How could you not?  Eventually, they went for a swim as swans are wont to do.
This may or may not have been the right move, going to Lake Eola, because that was a bunch of cuteness all in one place;  clearly, I have enough obsessions at the moment.
Seriously, how can I help it when Spring provides such a bounty of photographic opportunities?

Tearing myself away, I stopped to buy more thread, as I've used up an entire spool on the quilt, and there is still a half to go, as well as picked up our taxes in Winter Park, gladly paying our bill.

And now, my friends, it is time to get back to work on the quilting, that is, until the arthritis in my hand forces me to stop. A camera doesn't hurt it one bit.

yours truly,

Gail




Saturday, March 25, 2017

Using My Stash

When Irene came to town, a year ago October, she used so many quilting terms that I was unfamiliar with, including, having a stash. She talked about colorways, shot cotton, various brands, different designers, all things I'd never considered before. Well, these days, I know just what she means, including her criticism of one of our local quilt stores. Back then I was baffled by her thinking, however, now I know just what she means. I mean seriously, I went there for a washable marking pencil, and they had not a one. And that is not the first time that has happened while looking for something really basic for quilting. But you don't really care now, do you?

Before I get into the stash business, let's have a little nature shot for fun. Now that they stay away from my bird feeders, I can only sort of appreciate them.
And then too, when last we were together I was fixing to make a Blueberry cake which I did. Had I not been talking to Nancy while it was cooking, I would have taken it out of the oven about five minutes earlier.
While it is good, it could definitely be moister. You might note the Kitchen Aid stand mixer given to me by Matt and Tom one Christmas. It's the black you see on the right. That will be sorely missed during our Vancouver sojourn!

Although I'd yet to add the second border, I took the quilt outdoors to see how it would fit on my intended backing; a sheet I'd purchased at an estate sale. Granted there were a few patches, and some evidence of darning(!), but I thought it might add a little charm to my quilt.
According to Jacquie (quilting teacher), you should starch both the front and back before sandwiching with batting, so I dutifully attempted to starch a King sized sheet. It is such a deep yellow; you are seeing the inside of it, and while you are looking you might note those little white patches. I'd gotten about halfway done with the starching when I discovered some small holes. Hmmm....this doesn't look good. Now what?

Because I used only fabric I had on hand for the top, in other words, "my stash", I went digging in the drawers and pulled every large chunk of fabric I owned to create a backing. Unlike many quilters, I buy yardage rather than pre-cuts, so to build a stash, I would buy a yard here, and a yard there, of fabric I liked. By the time I'd attached the outside borders, the quilt measures around 90" square. Guess what? Fabric comes in a useable width of about 42". You can always tell a vintage fabric by the lack of selvage which these days renders about 3" as useless. Too technical probably for which I apologize.

Here's what I had to do, using a bunch of my stash...make two sides for the back and sew them together. It is very colorful to say the least!
One thing I always do before I begin the actual quilting is make the binding because I want it to be ready when I am ready for it. You are looking at about 450" of binding.
Oh, wonder of wonders, it is the same color as the feet on my snazzy ironing board! You may also notice all the thread on my floor, which when the floors were new, gave me a heart attack, while these days, I'm like...whatever, I"ll clean it up!

You may recall my practice pieces from the last post, and after examining them, Bruce and I decided to go with a curved crosshatch, except I was thinking, "how the hell am I going to mark that?" Not to worry, I have a master carpenter in the house! One who never fails me either. Loads of quilters, when faced with such a gigantic project, lay it out on the ground, but Mr. Peck is vehemently opposed to working on the ground. He came up with a solution.
Our dining room table with the leaf, as well as two tables I used to use when doing shows. Holy Cow! He even helped me put the layers together, pulling a tape every chance he got. In reality, it took over two hours to get it all square, during which time he never lost patience, even when I did.
In a stroke of brilliance, he got all my lovely coffee table books, given to me by my wonderful sons, and used them to keep one side in place while we sorted out the other side.
Actually, I received the Kaffe Fassett book as a gift this past Christmas from Tom's Mum, Jane. She is very supportive of my efforts. In any case, I remembered something else Jacquie said from the class, and here's where they went next.
Yup, all around my little extension on the machine to help support all of the weight. Until you've done something like this you really can't understand how heavy it can be. Not that I suggest you do so anytime soon, but just saying! That is another thing Irene talked about when I first met her; sending her quilts out to be quilted by a professional. I'd never even heard of that practice, but now I know it is totally common place. That said, you already know that if anything is at all possible to be done at home, I will give it a go even if it is difficult. Perhaps some might call me stubborn like that. 

Surely you are thinking that about the refrigerator situation, as well you should, because it is still not working properly. I'm having to give in and call a repairman. :( I do, on the other hand, hire professionals when I think I am overmatched, and that is surely the case with our taxes, which are now completed, and I am thrilled to report that I owe the accounting firm more than I owe the government! I glanced through the download of our return they sent, some 40 pages, and my eyes glazed over in short order.

Above, in the photo with the books on the quilt, Bruce is measuring and eventually marking with painter's tape, the curve that I should follow to begin the quilting. To keep it consistent I use this bar inserted into the back of the walking foot.
While it fantastic helping me keep my lines straight, I am having a heck of a time with that bar that extends to the right. The heavy quilt keeps hanging up on that. Third world problems, right? Hours and hours later, I have a little more than half the first pass lines sewn.  I quit sewing in order to get ready to go to church to hear a speaker named John Dominic Crossan. He is pictured on the far right. The man at the microphone is Shawn Garvey, the pastor of our church. I took the photo because I thought it said so much about our modern life with him using his phone to introduce our speaker.
Interesting, to say the least.

Lest you think our weekends are always fun-filled, this morning we worked like crazy in the yard, cleaning out the area of our yard that we call the "jungle." Not quite so jungly after this!
By the time it was all said and done, there were six big garbage cans, and six huge bundles of palms for the guys to pick up on Monday morning. Whew!!

And when was the last time you saw a gigantic bee hive on the pages of Camera Crazy?
Never before, that's when! Riding my bike in Southern Oaks the other morning, a yard guy pointed it out to me. Pretty darn amazing, isn't it?

Off to the kitchen I go...dinner time.

yours truly,

Gail

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

At the Weekend

Or, at least that's how they say it in Britain. When last we met, the weekend was in full swing. For homebodies, like ourselves, we had way too much fun at the weekend, that's for certain.

I had my first Uber experience on Saturday, and if our driver was any indication of other drivers, it could very well be my last! Meeting at Dave and Michelle's condo, we brought Baxter along to keep their dog Ginger Rodgers company while we were gone. Michelle did what you do to get an Uber driver, and we all piled into his car. Well, most of us did anyway. They were all in, and I had one foot on the floorboard when the driver started to pull away!! The Peck men simultaneously cried out STOP! So, after I was in, he wanted to take I-4 to get to downtown. Those of you who have been to their home know that is about the silliest method to get there that you can think of. I will say he followed David's directions, and we arrived on Orange Avenue safely. So, there's that.

Walking to the stadium is, at least for now, the most expedient way to get there, as they have little to no parking nearby. Actually, it was great because Church Street was packed with people, either going to the Orlando City game, or the NCAA basketball tournament featuring the Florida State Seminoles in the first game, and the Florida Gators in the second. So, loads of energy! Stopping into the Rusty Spoon for a drink, where, btw, I had a Cucumber Martini that was fab, we stuck ourselves into the corner of the bar at the only remaining seat. Well, who should be sitting right there? Jim and Carrie whom we met when we did that Ronald McDonald event. They were just as much fun this time as the last time we met them.
Drink done, and we were once again off the races. Make that the stadium! Michelle led the way, and fortunately, both she and David were wearing colors we could spot in a crowd. In other words, not purple. (We are walking by what eventually will be parking areas.)
Purple shirts, purple hats, purple everything, including the smoke bombs that go off when the Lions score.
Looks like we are pretty close, doesn't it? Yup, David's seats are eight rows up from the pitch, so it feel like you are sitting court side at a basketball game.
Lions win! And the crowd went wild!

Sunday we were back in the pews at First Congregational, and glad to be there. The day was spectacular for the art festival, however, we skipped that because we are not currently in the market for art. I know it is fun to roam around looking, but I also know how hard every artist has worked to be there, and when there are only lookers, it is so frustrating. Generally, these days, I don't want to add to anyone's discouragement.

Instead, Bruce convinced me to go to Vanberry's on Orange Avenue across the lakes from us, and what should we see from our table? Why, an Osprey nest!
And Dr. Parillo, pictured with the white hair and green shirt!
This falls under the category of should you care to know: the biopsy results were just fine. 👌

After dinner over at a friend's house Sunday night, you can imagine how partied out we were. So, Monday, bright and early, chores took center stage, including this again!
Not only did I have a frozen bottom of the freezer, the same held true for under the vegetable crispers. You can see what we did all yesterday morning. Plus, we're unclear whether the problem is fixed or not. From what I've read. there is a class action suit against Samsung due to a faulty design. This is one way to force yourself to toss out food hidden behind other food in the refrigerator!

I have been making some quilting samples to try out a few of the designs from the fantastic book I purchased at the class.
Another very important thing happened yesterday afternoon, just as I had finished bringing in the laundry from the clothesline; Matt called to chat. And chat we did over Face Time, like 2 1/2 hours of chatting. At various times, Bruce and Tom joined the conversation, adding to the fun. I so count myself blessed to have sons that actually enjoy chatting with me. They had a wonderful time in India, although my Uber story would not even register mentioning compared to the rides they took in India. Matt stopped short of giving me all of the gory details. But, all's well that ends well, so there is that to be grateful for.

This morning on my bike ride I went to visit "our eagles." Just as I was going through the gated area to enter Harbour Island, I peeked into a construction site for a new home on Lake Conway. Well, although I was pretty far away from the nest, there it was in plain sight, with not one, but two eaglets in view.
I cropped it a bit, hoping you could see the one standing, and the top of the other one's head. Naturally, I kept going and had myself a little treat.
Some of you will see it immediately, while others who couldn't care less, may not see the flapping wings of the eaglet. I never did see both of them when I was closer, but how about this identical pose?
I always forget that most people are not reading this on a computer with a large screen. Hope you can see it on your phones!

Naturally, this led to a little detour while doing errands...
There sits the cutest car on the road!!! I not only love driving it, but was changing the time to DST, ever a breeze!

Mama Owl is still on the nest..
While Papa, who I could not easily find, was napping and scratching. Sounds like a man, right?
There were three other photographers near the eagles nest, but we didn't even need to check that out, did we? We have our own!

It was bird city there, with tiny birds chattering all above my head. Look at this cutie...
Oh drat! You are on your phone, and may not see it! I believe it is a Black and White Warbler, which I've never seen before. I have, on the other hand, seen Tufted Tit Mouse before, but never have I seen one eating a caterpillar! Holy Cow!
Small birds are really hard to get good shots of in the wild, much harder than large shore birds which were out in force at Lake Greenwood. It is times like this that I do so wish I had a longer zoom lens!
I would have LOVED to get a closer shot of that Great Blue Heron!

It seems live everyone's orchids are blooming like mad this year. I am loving mine, that's for sure.
On this one plant there are three more stalks with blooms, or whatever you call them. Don't really know. Do you?

Enough with blogging, time to head into the kitchen to make this Blueberry-Lemon cake! I'll let you know how it is.

yours truly,

Gail

You Just Never Know