Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Witch

For Halloween, Bill built a new RC airplane to fly - The Witch.

Here she is all ready for her maiden run. Since this picture was taken, Bill painted striped socks.

And she actually flew! All of the RCers at the OTOW field got a kick out of her. Now Bill is looking for a pattern to make Santa and his sled.

Sandsculpting Championship

Fort Myers Beach is host to the 25th Anniversary World Sand Sculpting Championship. We arrived early - before they were officially open - and watched while they got the sculptures ready for the day.

Another use for Aqua Net Hair Spray! The sand is mixed with water and glue to make the sculptures and each day they are sprayed with Aqua Net Hair Spray to keep them together.

The area around the displays are carefully raked.

This was one of my favorites - and looks even better in person.

Crazy faces! The detail is amazing. I'm glad we arrived extra early as the weather on the beach warmed up quickly and there were a lot more people than in past years.

The roads are congested and forget the stores! Everyone is saying that "season" arrived 6 weeks early this year. We are here through next week opening the condo and getting it ready to rent. I can't believe I actually have Internet - I expected to have to go to McDonalds or the local library.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

On a Mission!

Yesterday, while at lunch with our fellow birders, Bill mentioned that he had never seen a Red-headed Woodpecker and he REALLY wanted to see one. He was told to go out the far gate, turn left onto a dirt road and go way back by the cattle ranch and look for the place where the cattle are loaded onto trucks.

This afternoon, we decided to go looking for our bird.

Along the way, this beautiful American Kestrel and his mate were watching us as we headed down the dirt road. Look at the colors!

We found the cattle ranch. The Hereford Bull came over to the fence to greet us.

A common Eastern Phoebe - but no Woodpeckers. Bill was discouraged.

He wandered off to take this incredible picture. I assume it is a moth (as opposed to a butterfly).

I have been corrected! It is a butterfly - a Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus). Thanks Megan!

Discouraged, we headed around the bend and out to the OTOW exit road. And there they were!

We counted at least 4 Red-headed Woodpeckers flying around the area. There were several dead snags and the woodpeckers went back and forth hunting for insects.

We watched these beautiful birds for about 15 minutes. Bill was pleased - and so was I!

Unique Birders Trip to Blue Run Park in Dunnellon

Blue Run Park borders the beautiful, crystal clear Rainbow River just down the road in Dunnellon. Melanie Vittiow lead the OTOW birding club along the trails. The day started out clear and brisk but it quickly warmed up as we made our way around the Pond Trail, the Sandhill Loop Trail and back along the Blue Run Trail.

There were several Wood Ducks on the large murky pond. They were pretty far out, but I was able to get a couple of decent pictures. After this optimistic start our sightings quickly went downhill.

I was desperate and even took a picture of a Turkey Vulture. How can a bird that is so ugly look so beautiful in the air?

We were towards the end of the Blue Run Trail when we spotted a bush with activity. Starved for a sighting, we gingerly stepped a couple of feet onto private camping property despite the warnings that "Police will Notice" signs. There were several Blue-gray Gnatcatchers that flit around so quickly, it's almost impossible to get a decent picture. This one is good enough for identification.

Another picture that's good enough for identification - and nothing else. This is a Black and White Warbler - one of my favorite little birds. He was socializing with the Gnatcatchers.

This bird was overhead as we headed back to the parking lot. I am not sure what it is but suspect it's a first-winter Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Another unidentified bird. I think it's a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Where's Norm when I need him?

The sighting of the day was a pair of magnificent Piliated Woodpeckers. We had to go into the thick brush to get a good view - and got covered with prickly tags - but it was worth it!

One of our eagle-eyed spotters pointed out this small tree frog. Cute.

After our hike we headed to Gruffs (with a "G" not a "C") for lunch. This is a great group and Bill and I really enjoyed ourselves! Next month is the annual Christmas Bird Count.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Whack n Wonder - aka -

"Another Opportunity for Creativity"

The Quilt from Hell

I really do love quilting - but some are more fun than others. Last year I worked on a pattern that had a major mistake - leaving me short of material for the setting triangles. I was angry but my wise sister told me that quilters see these circumstances as "opportunities for creativity." My latest quilt has been such an opportunity right from the beginning!

My opportunity began I signed up for a class at my local quilt shop with 3 of my friends. A couple of weeks before the class was to begin we all headed to our very favorite shop in Trenton, FL to buy fabric. We had our supply lists in hand. Right away we should have suspected something was wrong because the list called for A LOT of material - 13 1/2 yards, not counting the backing, for a single-sized quilt! To make matters worse, my material had a smaller repeat - so I doubled the amount of the main fabric. The larger star blocks have a border and we were told to get a stripe - so I did. All my fabrics looked beautiful together in the pile and I couldn't wait for the class to begin!

Our pre-class instructions included making two plastic templates from the diagram in the book (one diamond and one triangle)and cutting "B" and "D" triangles. Since I had a triangle ruler, I used it to pre-cut the triangles instead of using the template. This turned out to be a good move on my part as the diagram was incorrect.

In class, we proceeded to cut strips for the diamonds - lots of strips and lots of diamonds. When I started asking questions about the diamonds - we were told to cut 66 "sets." At that point, I counted the 11 star blocks on the sample and asked why we needed so many since there are only 11 blocks with 11 sets of diamonds. My teacher looked dumbfounded - deer in the headlights dumbfounded. Long story short, she had totally miscalculated and now I had way too many cut strips - and not enough material to cut the larger strips for the "one-block wonder" diamonds. Good thing I had extra material - except she had miscalculated these triangles also and, again, I didn't need as many strips as she called for. Same with the stripped border.

Once I started putting the blocks together - I realized the stripped border was way too strong for the quilt. It jumped out and you missed the neat kaleidoscope stars and circles. Let me put it this way - if you laid a baby on the quilt, the poor child would throw up. An adult would have an instant migraine. Good thing I had all those extra strips!! I used them for borders. Now I had extra blocks - so I added two rows to the quilt making it wider than it is long. To correct this, I added an extra border to the top and bottom (yep, using even more of the extra strips). Now it's square. Using the main fabric for the borders instantly settled it down - maybe too much. I don't like that I used the same fabric both places but at least I didn't waste it.

This quilt is a long way from being my favorite - but it's OK. The fabrics that looked so beautiful in the pile did not go together any where near as well as I thought they would. Even though the yellow was the exact yellow in the main fabric - it is too bright for the purple stripe. I should have stuck to one color instead of using both the yellow and green. I still have blue that I haven't even used. I don't think I'll put another border on it - and I'm not sure I have enough backing fabric. I'll probably use the stripe cut on the bias for the binding - but we'll see.

I welcome suggestions and discussion. Oh, by the way, our teacher? The poor dear was taking pain medicine that was way too strong - and she literally couldn't think straight. She felt terrible when she realized her mistake - but I told her it was just another opportunity for creativity!