Monday, November 17, 2014

Winter is Here and More Ducks are Arriving!

Thought I would start things off with another pretty picture of the Cypress trees and Greenfield Lake Park.  The Cypress are pretty anyway but with the Spanish moss and color change, really a nice view!  

The pond behind the aquarium is beginning to fill with the winter ducks that are so familiar  These are a couple of Buffleheads which I will soon see in large numbers in the ocean but for now they are in the pond.

This is a White-winged Scoter.  There were a couple of these but very shy and they took off as soon as I got to the water edge.

Here he is taking off.  You can see where he gets his name here.

One of my very favorites is back as well and there was a good sized crowd of them -- the Hooded Mergansers with their graphic colors.  You can see their yellow eyes even though they were way on the other side of the pond.

At low tide yesterday at the boat ramp, there were a few birds.  Here is a Dunlin in the background (first one this year), a Semi-palmated Plover and two Least Sandpipers in the foreground.  They were quite a distance away.

Thought I would show progress on my winter project -- a wholecloth quilt.  I bought this preprinted top many years ago and decided it would be my winter project down here as I like to have something to do with my hands while watching tv at night.  It is coming along but don't know whether I will get it done in time for either of the quilt shows I will be in this spring.  There is a lot of quilting as it is a queen sized quilt!

I took this picture with my phone camera but I finally finished this top although I still don't like it very well.  To me it is just boring.  It was a lot of work as  you had to trim and iron seams open at almost every step.  I don't think it looks like it was that tedious.  I am a compulsive finisher though and glad to have this done so I can continue machine quilting a top I made down here last year.  It will be done for the quilt shows!!  I may also get back to making some more purses.  The slightly winter weather that we have been having encourages me to sit and work on quilts.  I can't bear to be inside on the nice days!

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Visit from My Children and Grandchild!!

My youngest daughter and my granddaughter came out from Seattle for a visit to grandma and grandpa this past week.  Unfortunately the weather was not as good as it could have been but we did have a couple of days when we got to see some of the sights around Wilmington.  This was from a visit to Greenfield Lake Park where we hoped to spot some alligators out of the water but no luck.  The Cypress trees are beginning to change color so it made for some very pretty scenery.  There were flocks of cormorants and several American Coots that had migrated down as well as some ducks of suspicious origins!

The whole family minus grandma at the end of the walk!

Amelia is 5 1/2 and likes to sew clothes for her dolls so grandma happily supplied her with some fabrics, scissors and a needle and thread so her kitty now has a new dress.

My daughter Lisa is the original family photographer and does nice portraits -- much better than I do!  This is a closeup of Amelia who does pose for the camera (although usually making some sort of silly face).

Aunt Lisa and Amelia really enjoyed each other as they both spent much time teasing each other -- a family tradition!

Amelia was particularly enraptured with her grandpa!!

We spent one afternoon at the NC Aquarium which is right down the street from the house.  Amelia really likes aquariums and this is a nice size for her.  These are the moon jellyfish which are what wash up on our beaches.  They look much prettier floating around in the tank!

Amelia posing outside on the frog with her new stuffed seal!  Lisa had given her a stuffed seal the last time she visited so now he has company.

Amelia, Suzanne and dear husband posing in front of the fish sculpture at the aquarium.

Just another view of the foliage with the Spanish moss on the cypress at Greenfield Lake Park.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Just a Few Birds

This is the sunset the other night as seen from my porch.  Lately the skies have either been too clear or too cloudy for good sunset pictures.  One of these days it will be just right and I will head down to Ft. Fisher for pictures!  Speaking of Ft. Fisher, I stumbled upon them making a new Nicholas Sparks movie the other day when down there -- there were cables everywhere so I suspect it was going to be a night scene as it was late in the afternoon.

We haven't had any good low tides lately so the birds have been sparse (although my best day was at high tide -- go figure).  My Oystercatchers are back and they are definitely going to be a quilt one of these days as they are just so graphic.

There have also been some Willets mixed in with the Oystercatchers lately.

Here you can see the distinctive wing patterns on the willet which you can't see when they are just standing there!

This is the first of my winter birds that I saw in the big pond behind the aquarium.  It is a Bufflehead and soon there will be flocks of them sitting in the ocean but this little fellow was alone and in the pond.

There were two Pied-billed Grebes there as well way off in the distance.  I didn't see the big alligator this time.

One of the Pied-billed Grebes and the Bufflehead were swimming together for a bit.

Just an update on the x's and o's quilt.  Finally I have at least got more than half together.  I have the individual units for the rest of it and will be very thankful when this quilt is done as it is far far from my favorite although hopefully it will look good on a bed when it is quilted.

For the next week my daughter and granddaughter from Seattle are visiting!  My other daughter even flew back early from Korea to join us!  I have some tired visitors though as jet lag is getting to them all!

Amelia really likes playing with the pipe cleaners and drawing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More Gorgeous Weather!!

On the nice days, this is how I can generally be found.  This is my daughter's kitty but my kitties are now making themselves home on the porch.  There is of course a book in my hand!

I try to get out for a walk most days although my ankle has been really fussy this last week.  A beautiful Snowy Egret was sitting on the dock a few days ago.

A Tri-colored Heron joined him.

This is the first Ruddy Turnstone I have seen this  year.  He has his winter coat which isn't as spectacular as his summer one.

Although he was far away, I spotted this Northern Harrier out over the marsh behind the Museum at Ft. Fisher.  You can tell by the bright white stripe across the tail.

There have been Eastern Phoebes consistently by the Museum despite all the work they are doing replacing fences.

I don't think I ever published a picture of my quilt from the Mineral Show last year.  It was inspired by a rock which I promptly misplaced.  With help from my dear husband, I glued on rocks that I had gotten over the years.  It was to show geological strata.

I continue to make progress on this quilt although I am not crazy about it at all but I am a finisher and feel compelled to actually make quilts that I can use on the beds.  I figure with all the white, this is a good beach quilt for one of the queen sized beds.  I already pretty much know how I am going to quilt it.  I don't care for the pattern though I must say -- a little bang for a lot of buck (work).  Maybe after it is quilted, I will like it better -- so much for the modern quilts!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Day of Dyeing!

 Yesterday was a lovely day of dyeing with Dianne at her home which was an ideal setup for dyeing inside which I can't do here.  She had a whole bunch of Dharma dyes in a lovely assortment of colors but not what I am used to (I used pretty much "pure" dyes which I get from ProChem and do my color mixing myself).  It was great fun to experiment with the two blacks that she had, both of which were great.  We did the standard gradation dyeing with 1/2 yard pieces of fabric.  We decided we would like to see some of the "mushing" effect so instead of putting dry fabric scrunched up in the baggies, we wet the fabric down thoroughly before adding them into the baggies filled with the dyes.  We started with a cup of  chemical water (urea water) with one tbsp of dye dissolved in it.  (For the one half yard pieces, we first put a 1/2 cup of the dye in the first bag, filled the cup of dye solution up to the one cup mark again, dumped half in the second bag etc. through 8 baggies -- we used gallon plastic bags which I reuse  until they develop holes.)  I really like the variegated look.  This was Dharma Black 39 and a straight gradation.

This was a variation on the gradation theme.  I did a gradation of Dharma Blueberry and then added 1/8 cup of the New Black dye solution to each of the baggies.  In retrospect, I probably would have used less of the black than the 2 tbsps per baggie as it was pretty intense.  The New Black gives a great grey while the Black 39 does give a great charcoal but in the lighter shades I can see a teense of green.  Blacks usually bias to one color on another and as they age, they also change as the reds they used to make it seem to age the worst.  I was extremely pleased with these although I would like more yardage.  I am actually going to order some dyes as Dianne wants to dye some more -- Yay!!!!

These were all the baggies lined up in their tubs while we waited for them to "cook".

This is Dianne's dog Sophie who made sure we were doing everything right.  She has the prettiest face I think.  She was a rescue dog from a puppy mill and had had a rough life but now has the easy life with Dianne.

Of course no visit to a quilter is complete without showing some of the quilts adorning her walls.  She used to work for the Foreign Service and has wonderful exotic prints from her last assignment in the Cameroons.  She also was stationed in Italy and Katmandu, Napal!!  

This is her African Ladies showcasing many more of those wonderful prints.

I loved this use of the brightly colored prints and may just do one like this using my marbled fabrics which stump me many times.

Loved the beautiful colors and of course the hexagons!!

Hard to see, but this is a picture of the partial solar eclipse we saw here on the east coast last week.  The pelicans flying by were just icing on the cake for me.  You have to look closely at the right side of the sun to see the chunk that is missing.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Moment of Nature

Our hibiscus is still blooming like crazy down here in this gorgeous fall weather we are having!

Our resident Ibis were right in the yard yesterday as I went to my car and posed so that I could see them up close and personal.

You can see his blue eyes here contrasting with the pink beak.  He is really a study in patriotic colors -- red, white and blue.

I went for my walk down at Ft. Fisher and first saw this sparrow which I tentatively identified as a Savannah Sparrow which has been confirmed.  He was very white underneath and he had that tuft on his head from the wind.

There were a lot of Bluebirds hanging out as there usually are.

Several Palm Warblers were hanging out as well.  There is a lot of construction going on so was surprised to see any birds at all!

This was my best bird of the day -- a juvenile Cooper's Hawk.  I had at first thought it was a Merlin but was conflicted when I saw pictures of the Cooper's.  My FB friends helped me here!
I had to include this picture!!  I knew my father had named a shell after my mother (he was 
a zoologist specializing in land snails) and my clever nephew actually found a picture of the shell in the University of Michigan collections.  My mother's name was Bernadine but she was called Bunny.  It seems that it was not only a new species but also a new genus as well.  My father had a snake that he discovered named after him -- Baker's Cat-eyed Snake.