Friday, April 28, 2017

Ladies and Gentleman, We Have a Family!

As you know, I've been searching for at least the last six weeks for the owls with no success, although I had heard rumors that people were hearing them, just not seeing them. Ever the optimist, back I went, hoping this trip would not be in vain. At first, I saw no owls, however, the Swallowtail Kite was once again on the perch! What is going on?
 I was standing in the street in front of Victor's house, watching this fascinating bird, when Victor's wife was leaving the house and stopped to tell me all about how she saw the owls feeding their young frogs in front of their house. Nice! Then Victor came out, and I showed him the Kite, which he found nearly as exciting as I did. We began hearing some uproar from nearby birds, and he said one of the owls must be around, and sure enough, right there in the Magnolia tree between his house and Nell's, I saw one of the juveniles! Woo hoo...then I saw they were both there!!
Before long, the one on the lower branch hopped up to join his sibling. She was wet, probably from being in Victor's birdbath, which you can bet, I wish I'd seen for myself! They were grooming each other, and it was just awesome. That said, the light was horrible, thus a little weirdness in this shot.
I was torn between the owls and the kite....so much action all at once!!
I left a very happy camper indeed! Had I not work to do at home, no telling how long I would have stayed there. I watched as one of the owls flew off, quite expertly I might add, in the direction of the next street. I filed that information away.

Before Bruce left for Dallas he remarked, "wouldn't it be easier to just buy some fabric for the backing?" My response was, "yes, but where's the fun in that?" Thus, here is the back of the charity quilt I've made,
using up nearly all of my solid fabrics. The assignment was for a twin sized quilt that is gender neutral, not an easy thing to sort out, but here's what I took it to mean.
Because it is so large, and because the only open space I have is on the patio, I've learned to become a little creative when it comes to the basting part, which in laymen's terms means putting lots of pins in to keep all three layers together, and flat, for quilting. Instead of doing it all at once, I do it in sections on my sewing table.
The back is clamped tight, followed by the batting...
and finally the top. I do one section, then I pull the next section onto the table and so on.
There you have it...ready for quilting! Because it is 70 inches wide and 90 inches long that is a lot of lines spaced 1/2 inch apart. I've completed maybe a quarter of it, and the sewing continues, in between trips to see my birds. But, you knew that didn't you?

So, the rain continues to stay away, causing brown lawns, and low lake levels across our region. There are only a handful of things that Bruce and I have had for our entire married life, and our Staghorn fern is one of those things, having purchased it as a tiny pup from a neighbor 43 years ago. It is huge! Not to mention very difficult to water, but I did what I could the other day because it was looking just dreadful. You might note the dead tree, along with a little growing grass from our neighbor's car fire in the background.
I read in today's newspaper that there are only two Aprils in the last 100 years when we've not had a drop of rain but that is what it is looking like with only a few days remaining. May 1 is just around the corner, and it is Jonathan's birthday. Boo hoo...another birthday, and he is in Austin and not with his Momma and Daddy.

Looking at this hibiscus in the back yard, I got to thinking about how a person need look no further than nature when putting colors together for a quilt.
That said, I wonder if I would have thought of putting yellow and red together? How about you?

Bruce returned from Dallas while I was sleeping last night, however, he got up almost the same time I did. After making him some coffee I told him I needed to go check on my birds and I'd be right back to make breakfast. Now some of you might be thinking, "why doesn't he make his own breakfast?" which is a fair question. To answer that, I would say that he'd be more than happy to do so, but he knows I like to take care of him, and that's the God's honest truth! I do like to take care of him in that way because he takes care of me in so many other ways. In other words, it is my pleasure.

Right around daylight, I rode over to see if I'd have any luck finding the owls again because that would be considered feeding time. The Kite was there! The owls were not! Once again Victor's wife described the previous evenings antics that I missed. Then another woman, whom I've become friendly with over the owls, told me a shocking story...in a nutshell, one of the owl parents swooped down, grazing her head when she was getting too close to one of the owlets sitting on her fence!! She even had me look at her scalp!! Holy Cow...that's a first! Pointing out the Kite to her, that took a little bit of the sting away. Following our conversation, back on my bicycle, I rode around the corner, noticing bird poop in the street....hmmm...I know what this means. Plus, I'd seen the youngster fly that way the day before.

First I found, what I'm guessing, is the Papa..
and then what to my wondering eyes should appear, but the owlets who were soon joined by their Mama.
I'm including this shot because it gives you a little perspective on how these shots are somewhat hard to get. One thing that was kind of crazy is the woman who lives in the house where the tree stands, came out to walk her dog. Asking her if she wanted to see them, naturally, she said yes! Pointing them out, she was thinking of using her phone camera to get a shot, and I wished her luck with that. As we were talking, I was moving around, trying to somehow get better lighting when....wooosh....Mama flew right at me, landing in the tree where you see her down low! I forgot to mention the woman who was grazed by the owl said it felt like someone hit her with a baseball bat! Most days when Bruce is home he advises me to be careful on my bike ride, however, I suspect he never thought of an owl grazing as one of the things to be careful about. :)

More folks came along and were happy to have them pointed out with me acting as the tour guide. Ha ha...Just before I left, Mama must have been telling me to mind my p's and q's, as my late Mother would say.
That mouth is seriously pink, isn't it?

I can't tell you how thrilled I am that at last they have been found even though the owlets are much older than I've seen in years past, I'm still tickled pink.

What is on some of your minds is, what is happening with the move? Am I right? Last week something unexpected happened; the condo where we were going to live was sold to a buyer who made them an offer they could not refuse. Oh my goodness!!! Steve, Bruce's boss, says he's got it all figured out, so hopefully I'll know more fairly soon. It is still two months away, making it not crazy urgent, but still something to take a girl by surprise, that's for sure. No doubt the next place will be absolutely perfect. That is, if I have a place to sew, and of course, photograph birds.

yours truly,

Gail

p.s. You probably never notice the tags I put at the end of my posts, but they help me find stuff later. Many tags are repeats and come up after typing only a few letters. In more than 10 years of those tags, this is only the second post that has a Swallowtail Kite tag and you can safely bet I would have posted a photo before because, they are indeed, very cool birds. :)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

It's That Time of the Year

when there are so many photographic opportunities that I cannot help but share mine with you. Just today I saw two new birds, as well as some old favorites. Then too, you might be wondering, and then again maybe not, but should you be, the way I put a blog post together is by first looking through all of my photographs and doing my best to weave a story around them. Today, that means a whole bunch of photographs, but I'll try to keep the narrative as brief as possible in an effort to honor your time. As always, I do so much appreciate those of you who follow my adventures, in spite of the fact that a good many of them are merely mundane!

Bill and Dave turned 38 on April 1st, but for one reason or another, we were never able to get everyone together, however, Saturday we met at the new Mexican restaurant on Lake Ivanhoe, Mesa 21 for lunch. From the looks of things, I should have kept my sunglasses on like Michelle! Seriously, I absolutely cringe when I see a photograph of myself, and that, my friends, is why I am generally the one behind the camera!!
My sweet Davy even smiled in the picture for his Momma though so that's saying something! The lakefront faces the I-4 construction, which is not particularly picturesque, but this guy doing stunts on the lake sure was.
I'd love to recommend the restaurant, but alas, in my opinion, it still has work to do. That said, it is very hard for a restaurant to get everything right, don't you think?

Sunday we finally got back together for a Hill's Happy Hour with pretty much the whole gang in attendance. Bunker and Cathy, our hosts, had only just returned from a trip to Holland and Belgium, so they were more than kind to get us all together.
I remember when they first invited us, now probably almost two years ago, and it seemed so weird to have a gathering in a driveway, but honestly, it works really well.

The last Monday of the month is our Days for Girls sew day, and despite having only about 15 in attendance, a whole bunch of work was accomplished. In the foreground are the washable pads, cut and ready for serging around the edges.
My part was to sew that middle portion on long panels of flannel which are then cut into what you see above. It is surprising how labor intensive the kits are, however, for such a worthy cause, we are all thrilled to be able to do our part. One of the ladies that comes regularly is Sally...80 years young, and all the way from Zellwood. Her resemblance to my deceased mother-in-law is uncanny!
In the parking lot, the baby car sat between two Honda Pilots!
The one on the right is the exact model that I traded in for the MINI, and I can't say I miss it even one little bit.

Today was the first time I had a bicycle ride since the flat tire, and oh my gosh, what a difference! Before it went flat, Bruce had put air in my tires, saying they were very low, as in 20 pounds in the front tire, rather than 60. I'd been thinking that I was getting out of shape because it had been so hard to ride; I can tell you from experience that correct tire pressure makes all the difference in the world. Anyway, I have still not given up on the owls in Southern Oaks, so I went looking there first. I am happy to report that there was a fair amount of poop on Nell's driveway; a very good sign indeed. Scanning the trees on both Sweetbriar, and Buckwood, I, all of a sudden, noticed a large bird back on Sweetbriar! Documenting my sighting first, I rode back over, only to have it fly off as I approached. Although I would have loved to have gotten a closer shot, after watching it fly away, I am delighted to report that it was a Swallowtail Kite, a bird I'd never seen before.
According to this from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, it is "the coolest bird on the planet." Woo hoo!

From there I went to check on my eagles, and I must report that it looked as if the nest was abandoned, with nary an eagle, or eaglet, in sight! Because it seemed that the eaglets were only branching, rather than flying, I don't know what to make of it. Naturally, I will go back. :)

As it had been quite a number of days since last I visited Greenwood, well, I just had to go! Bruce was on the phone, so, pointing to my camera, I waved goodbye. Pulling the MINI over to the curb, I saw most of the eagle family in the tree that you've seen photographed before. I'm horrible with distances, but I'd guess it is about 400 yards from the nest tree.
As you can see the eaglets are nearly the size of their parents already! But, of course, what I really wanted to see was the owlet. Remember the nature paparazzi? Just me and the guy John, who originally told me about the owl back in early February. He showed me this little guy..
who must be hiding from all those birds of prey! You think?

After much searching, this is the best shot I was able to get of our owlet, and that is not saying much, is it?
On the other hand, it was a big day seeing that Northern Flicker, well actually a pair of them, still hanging around the nest, although I'd heard the chicks had gone out on their own. PLUS, I saw this bird for the first time ever...
This bird is called a Great Crested Flycatcher. It is here that bird haters may just want to bail out because there are quite a number of photos forthcoming. All I can say about that is, I could not help myself, and neither could you had you seen it in person! Yup, there are two of those birds, and they have a nest just below the Northern Flicker nest.
There was all sorts of action between these two kinds of birds, with the NF sticking his head into their hole!!
The absolute nerve!! The next photo is not great, by any stretch of the imagination, but it does show how cool a NF looks when it is flying.
When I showed Bruce the photo of the NF feeding her chicks he didn't think it was a very pretty bird, but I think he may change his mind once he sees this. I mean, who wouldn't like a bird with polka dots?
And now we know that there is gold under them wings, don't we?

Well, that wasn't too bad, was it? I had planned to save the Wood Duck babies for another post, but I've changed my mind because they are just so darn cute.
Not to mention, that instead of the thirteen we saw in an earlier post, there are now only six remaining.
Life in the wild is mighty tough, or so it seems to me.

Finally, and this has no relation to birds, but it does have a pretty big impact on the Pecks. Our little Baxter, as has been documented before, is having his challenges with getting outdoors before he does his business. Never a good thing, we were both very dismayed to discover he'd wet on a rug by the back door, and it had gone unnoticed overnight. Thus, our brand new wood floor was damaged!! Fortunately, Mr. Peck has a few tricks up his sleeve, and with some ingenuity, along with some serious weights, it is fine for now.
Having never had a dog before, we don't quite know what to make of it, aside from wanting him to stop!

yours truly,

Gail

Friday, April 21, 2017

Five or Six Documentaries Later...

and I'm done! Whew...that was some serious hand sewing, made so much easier because I plopped myself down in front of the television, after Googling "best documentaries on Netflix", and went to town. Beginning with The Overnighters, the film follows a Lutheran pastor who helps many of the men who went to North Dakota for work and found a housing shortage they did not anticipate. More moral questions than is immediately evident. Seriously good with a surprise ending. Life, a BBC nature program was next on my agenda, and did not disappoint.

As you know when watching Netflix, once you've watched one thing, they suggest others. I've found oftentimes this leads me in the right direction. Three episodes of Wild Alaska were fantastic, making me want to go there all the more while we are living on the West coast. Divided into seasons, and I mean actual seasons, it was tremendous. You know what? There was still more binding to sew! Bruce was on his way home from Dallas, and after spending an hour and a half chatting with Matt via Facetime from London, I figured I might ought to head out to the kitchen as I was all out of the leftovers that kept me going while he was traveling. By the time I'd watched one episode of South Pacific, another BBC production, I was finally finished.  Sewing and learning is a winning combination!

During my chat with Matt I asked him if he wanted to have a look at the pool. He declined, but I happen to know that Tom's Mum reads this blog and welcomes any super sunny photographs I include.
This one is for you Jane, in sometimes dreary England. The back door is no longer open as the temperature has risen to the high 80's, and even I was hot in the house.

A quilt is never completely finished in my book until it is washed and dried, particularly when using old fabrics, that although don't look a bit old, were musty when I was ironing it. I love a good crinkle.
One morning while I was till in the midst of the now called the "Rosemary" quilt, in honor of the woman who once owned the fabric, I rode my bike over to see "my" eagles. You know, the ones that only a few know about. Unlike the eaglets at Greenwood, this pair is not yet flying, but they are branching. Look closely and you will see Mom on the middle left branches, keeping her eye on the proceedings.
The fragrance of Magnolia blooms is filling the air...
And, look who got a haircut!!
He's looking a little old like his Mommy and Daddy. One more haircut from Tom, or as he is called, Shiny Paws, before we leave. I do so hope we won't have a hard time finding a groomer in Vancouver.

The other day when Pam came over, she gave me all sorts of gardening tips, as well as pulled some of my weeds, something she cannot resist! I now know how to deadhead the Snap Dragons, thanks to her.
They are doing a good job blooming now; can't wait to see what they do now that they have had their own proper grooming.

Speaking of Pam's gardening prowess, hers is made even more charming with this purple wall! Bonus butterfly my friends.
I'd actually been on my way to her house yesterday morning after a stop at the lake lot. For those who have not seen my darling bicycle before, here it is.
The lake was seriously low, as are most of them in town, which you will soon see. Anyway, after checking out our lake, I rode over to Pam's neighborhood, and was searching for the owls, when an old acquaintance stopped me and we began chatting during which time I realized my front tire was flat. As in all the way flat. Walking the bicycle home, I tidied myself up, and drove over to Retro City Bicycles on Ivanhoe for a new tube. Well, I did leave out the part where Bruce first checked it and eventually took the tire off. Rosemary rode along, and because I was half way there, I decided to go for it.

And what was I going for, pray tell? I'd saved the Lilly Pulitzer bag from my Christmas goodies, so, carrying Rosemary in that, I walked into the store on Park Avenue and spoke to a young woman. I have an unusual request....may I photograph this quilt in the store? Barely looking at it, she said fine. Perfect! I pulled it out of the bag, and before you know it, another older worker woman as well as two customers were oohing and aahing over it, asking me how much I would charge to make one for them? Quickly dispelling that kind of talk, I told them I was giving it away for the Jeremiah Project at our church. From their reaction, perhaps Ann can market it there when the time comes.
I did learn that some of the prints are some of the very oldest in the Lilly line, so that was interesting. Should you not know a thing about the Lilly story, click on the link above.

And now I am on to something else that I'll show you next week...

In the meantime, this morning, after learning from Candy about some Wood Duck babies on Lake Davis, while Bruce went to the gym, I went bird watching. The lake was as still as could be, with all the new green reflected like a mirror.
I only wish I didn't have that little branch in the foreground, but you take what you can get.

Not only are there Wood Duck babies, the Mallards have a brood as well. Adorable!
Walking around the lake, sometimes I walked right along the shore which normally is a bunch of feet higher. How's that for being technical? I'm not a huge squirrel lover, maybe a little more so now that they have quit hanging on my bird feeders, but this little guy looked kind of cute backlit from the rising sun.
Holy Cow....here they are...all thirteen of them...
When our rainfall is normal, all of this is covered by water. They would just run up on shore for a moment, running back out into the water the next. According to Candy they are less than a week old.
Wasn't that fun? Why, yes it was, except for one tiny thing.

Mrs. Peck should have been home, drinking her tea, eating breakfast, and doing what ever else needed doing because, rather than those things, she was out and about. And what is the problem with that, you ask? Driving home, I was at the corner of Ferncreek and Pershing, in other words, seriously close to home, when I saw an estate sale sign that triggered my brain back to reality. Two days earlier I told Pam I could not go to an estate sale because I was getting my teeth cleaned at 9. Guess what, my watch told me it was 8:49 AM!!! Good thing the dentist office is close! Calling me back to the room, I was chatting with Eileen, our hygenist, while looking out the glass doors noticing the adjacent wooded lot had been completely cleared of all life forms. Well, that can't be true, as I now know after watching all those nature documentaries, but you get the picture.

It was then that I spotted this advertisement featuring our sister CAROL!
What a shocker, and now Eileen has a good story to tell, doesn't she? By the way, you may remember Carol had the Whipple procedure last year, and while most of the time since, she's been remarkably well, there has been a bit of a set back in the past few weeks. Fortunately, she is back on the road to recovery. And no, my teeth are nothing like hers. That smile!!

I'm heading into the kitchen now as I need to prepare a cold appetizer to bring to a get together tonight with mostly folks we don't know. In other words, it is a church thing. Wish us luck!

your's truly,

Gail

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Good Day

Sometimes days are so good. Easter Sunday was one of those days, beginning with a packed house at church, well no surprise there, but everything about it was joyous, including the wonderful work done by the Flower Guild. That is one skill I am sorely lacking, flower arranging.
These were in little paper cones, heading to shut ins following the service. Then too, the altar was gorgeous. As I was walking there with Liz to look at the brimming baskets, Talia, (one of our ministers), and her family, were looking to have their photograph made. I could not resist taking one of them myself.
Talia not only spoke about butterflies during the children's service, she wore them as well.

Michelle had made 1:15 reservations for brunch at Luke's in Maitland so, because church lets out around 11:30, we had some time to kill. Making the most of it, we went to the cemetery in Winter Park where Bruce's folks are buried. Unlike Greenwood Cemetery, which you've seen plenty of this spring, there are very few headstones, instead there are flat markers making it much more difficult to find your loved ones, in my opinion.
 I don't know about you, but I vacillate on the whole burial thing; cremation, or in ground?  Spending so much time in a cemetery will make a person think about such things.

We had a wonderful time with Michelle and David at Luke's, a new restaurant in the same location that once housed Steak and Ale, the place where we went for our senior prom all those years ago! You'd never know it to look at it now!
We barely had time to recover before it was time to head to David and Cheryle's for another fantastic evening at their place. Cheryle's gardens are on par with those over at Pam's house, with both haveing more butterflies than you can count! I was delighted to take this photograph after thinking about the chrysalis, and the Easter story. Plus, there are three cute little red bugs!
Before dinner I walked over to the lake with Catherine for her evening fish feeding ritual.
Drat....no pictures of the group, however, perhaps that is a good thing because I have more photos coming. In fact, probably too many, but one thing I've learned over time is, you've got to get them when you can! Come summer and the heat...oh wait, we won't be here for the worst of it!

Can you think how that day could have gone any better? I surely cannot!

Monday morning, I began working on the quilt, while Bruce flew to Dallas. Stan Fuller, the owner of Earls is coming to take a look at his investment. I say he's the owner, but really there are four Fuller brothers that oversee all of their over 150 restaurants. I decided to do a little wave pattern...simple and sweet, or so I hope!
After a few hours I needed a break, so I popped over to Greenwood for a little owlet hunt. No luck, but I did meet a sweet, enthusiastic woman from Winter Garden while I was there. She'd come to see not the owls, nor the eagles, but a Northern Flicker nest. Sally told me about it last week, and at the time I did not see it, however, yesterday morning I sure did, and now you can too!
Pretty cool, huh? You should have heard those babies squawking when Mom arrived with food! To tell you the truth, I had never even heard of a Northern Flicker before, but now I have.

Then I went home and quilted some more, attached the binding, ironed it in place, and here it sits waiting for me to sit still for some hours. I chose a solid hot pink backing fabric, and because I found no pink and green striped fabric, I went with solid green.
Except for the top of the quilt where I was about two inches short, so I had to add more of the Lily squares. Thank goodness I had them!

On our jaunt around Lake Eola the other night, I saw two things I wanted to see again, so I left before sunrise this morning to see what I could see. The lake looked lovely in the early morning light.
Albeit low...seriously low, because we've had no measurable rain in months. It is bound to start sometime soon, isn't it?

One of the things I wanted to have a closer look at was this mother swan sitting on her eggs. Presently there are two batches of cygnets, and now we'll have a third!
There were white feathers strewn everywhere around the nest which leads me to believe she was fighting off some predators. Your thoughts on this?

This duck looked as if it were going to lay an egg any minute!
Or maybe a bunch, as I saw another duck who stood up revealing about eight eggs! Walking around the lake I came across the most recently born cygnets who are so darn cute!
The cuteness--oh my!!

I've lost my siblings!!!!
What I was really interested in seeing, well, don't take that too seriously, I am interested in most anything that crosses my path. But I digress....Saturday night we saw some Moorhen babies, and I was hoping to see them again as they are cute as can be, albeit hard to photograph all that black.
There are about six of them running here and there along the shoreline.

Leaving our newborn theme, this swan was fascinating to watch as it dunked under time, after time.
Here is one of the most photographed features at Lake Eola, aside from the swans, both of which are pretty cool if you haven't seen them for years and take them for granted like I do.

Mission accomplished at Lake Eola, I stopped at Greenwood on my way home because I was so hoping to see the owls. Staying behind the barrier, I scanned the upper branches of the trees, craning my neck so far back, I was thinking what a nut I was, as it was quite uncomfortable. What we were all beginning to expect to see easily, was now a no show. I walked over to the Flicker nest which is actually between the eaglet and owl nests, and while watching for a few minutes, heard some big bird commotion. I looked over and saw what all the fuss was about--a hawk.  Little birds love to harass the bigger birds.
It was then that I began to hear the unmistakable hoot of an owl. Walking again under the big trees, I finally found Mama...
Again, straining my neck almost to the breaking point, only a small exaggeration mind you, baby was perched way higher than Mama, very hard to make out, but at least I know it has branched and is still safe.
Interestingly enough, this tree is outside of the boundary. :)

Whew...that was a bunch of photographs wasn't it? In my defense, most of the quilt bloggers I come across will show the same quilt about six times in the same post, usually in some park, or hanging on a barn, you know, stylized. When you come to this space on the web, I like to provide at least some variety, albeit heavy on BIRDS!!

Truthfully, unless I am sick, everyday is a good day, for which I am so very grateful.

yours truly,

Gail

Limping Along