Saturday, October 29, 2011

Quilts for the Kids

I can finally share pictures of the two quilts that I made over the summer - one for son John and the other for daughter Pamela.

This is a One-Block Wonder that I made for John. I really enjoyed working with the blues, greens and yellows. The kaleidoscope effect comes from cutting triangles from 6 identical pieces of fabric.

And this is Pamela's quilt - a French Braid. We selected the fabric together just days before she delivered my newest grandson, Leandro. I am currently in Maryland visiting and celebrating Gabriel's 7th birthday.

Before I left Florida, we had a visit from one of my favorite squirrels - the Florida Fox Squirrel. I'm sneaking this blog entry in while Pamela, Orlando and Gabriel are saying good-bye to the birthday guests. I'd better go help clean up.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Quilt

This is one of the projects I have going. Yes, one. I have another quilt top that is almost finished - I just need to add the boarders (but it hasn't told me yet what it wants) and still another that is finished, just waiting for the backing and quilting.

This is a stack and wack variation. It's similar to a one-block wonder, except there are two different blocks - one with diamonds that make the star and the other with triangles. Both are cut from the same material. This is not the final arrangement - I just laid what I had completed out on the bed to see where I am. I have enough fabric to add two more rows and make it queen-sized, but I don't know whether or not I'll do that.

I'm heading to Maryland tomorrow to surprise my grandson on his birthday. Gabriel is turning seven and mommy is away on a business trip so I decided grandma needed to be there for his big day. He was just elected class president (I'm SO-O-O proud of him!!) and I found a book about his idle - President Obama. Gabriel doesn't have any strong political feelings about Obama - he just likes that he has big ears - like he does!

Bill and I spotted this big guy out back of our lanai last night while we were eating dinner. It was just starting to get dark, so I had to lightened the picture to identify him. I'm pretty sure it's a Red-tailed Hawk - very common around here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Unique Birders

Today the On Top Of the World (OTOW) Unique Birders had their first field trip of the season. A dozen birders met at the nearby Shalom Park at 8:30 this morning. The weather was cool, but the sun was shinning and the skies were bright blue. Anne Merrick lead the trip down and around the various garden paths that criss-cross the well-manicured grounds.

It was difficult getting our resident birding expert Norm Lentz (far right) to put down his binoculars long enough to take this group shot.

This is the underside of a Yellow-throated Warbler. It's a lousy picture - but it sure shows how this small bird got his colorful name!

Action shot! We watched this Eastern Phoebe for quite a while while he scooted around looking for insects on a dead limb. According to Donald and Lillian Stokes' Field Guide to Birds, "25% or more of phoebe nests are parasitized by cowbirds."

Another shot of the Eastern Phoebe sitting high and mighty.

I believe this is a Palm Warbler. Norm adds "This [Palm Warbler] is a good, crisp representation of the Western (Brown) variant in non-breeding plumage. The Eastern variant is yellow in all plumages. Both are common in Florida during the winter (non-breeding) season."

He was shopping in the moss and it looks like he has some stuck on his beak.

This looks like a Northern Parula - but that wasn't on our list, so it probably isn't. * Norm confirms my identification and Northern Parula Warbler has been added to our list.

I love the adorable Tuffted Titmice.

It was difficult getting a good shot of this Red-bellied Woodpecker with the sun in the background.

The State Bird of Florida, the Northern Mockingbird. We saw quite a few on our walk. This one was enjoying the beautiful bright purple berries on the Beautyberry bush.

I thought I was going to have to crawl under the bushes to get a decent shot of this Brown Thrasher. He was hunting in the leaves for a meal of insects, lizards, snakes, or berries.

The Eastern Bluebirds are not as blue this time of the year as they are in the Spring - but they are still beautiful. We have lots of them in our backyard.

After our walk we went to the Oasis Restaurant for brunch, and compiled our list of the 25 birds seen on our walk. Nice outing! Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Finally Finished

It's finally finished! This quilt is HUGE. I pieced it last winter from pre-cut strips (which I said I'd NEVER use again) and left it with a long arm quilter to sandwich and quilt. I didn't care if I ever saw it again as I really didn't like it - but Bill loved it.

It looks much better now that it's finished. It's a long way around when you are hand sewing the binding - but I enjoy that part.

Vicki Cooley did a great job on the quilting. One of the shops here in Ocala has a long arm machine that you can rent and my new machine is much bigger with a 11 1/2 inch throat, so I'm going to try my hand at doing my own.

All the fabrics are batiks and they are beautiful. I did not like the pre-cut strips because they were not consistent and just sewing together a bunch of strips was boring - no challenge.

I have two more quilts that I finished over the summer - a French Braid and a One-Block Wonder - but they are gifts for two of my kids so I can't share the pictures yet.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Pygmy Rattlesnake

Bill does not like snakes; not even a little bit. Today, as he opened the garage screen, a snake fell and hit him on his chest, landed on the driveway in front of him and coiled up ready to strike. Bill screamed - and I came running. I thought he was cute, but I knew he was about to die (the snake - not Bill) so I ran to get my camera.

He may have been small (Bill swears he was six feet long and at least 100 pounds) but his little tail was rattling and his fangs were ready.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Joplin Missouri

No beautiful pictures in this blog entry. On our way to Florida, we stopped in Joplin, Missouri to see the aftermath of the tornado that hit in May. The devastation left us speechless.

But everywhere you could see the spirit of the town.

This is St. John's Hospital. Notice the tree in the foreground. All of the trees were stripped of limbs - but many still had leaves.

This is a typical neighborhood.

There were colorful stars all over town with words like "love," "hope" and "faith."

This must have been a parking garage.

Bill and I rode around the town in silence, not believing what we were seeing. We thought about our own little adventure with our burglary - and felt incredibly fortunate.

Joplin is about half an hour from our very good friends Mike and Mel in Shell Knob where we spent a wonderful weekend visiting, eating, fishing, eating, relaxing, birding - and just having a great time.

Mike and Mel had a couple of other visitors - two furry taranchula spiders...

and this exceptional specimen.