Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Blue, blue, my world is blue.....

Today is one of those days I'm glad this isn't a weblog with sound.  :-)  Sheesh.  We both just downloaded Firefox 4 and oh my goodness, the air is turning BLUE!  We have the same computers, same OS and the same version of Firefox.  Wouldn't you think our screens would look the same?  The default is different and our customization options are different.  It's very weird.....and very frustrating.  We don't live in each others' pockets, we don't want the same options (heaven forbid! LOL).  But each of us is missing options we want...that the other one has!  So bizarre.  My normally even-tempered Tramp was even heard to say this may drive him to Safari.  Oh. My.

This morning dawned dark and rainy.  The chrismas cacti don't seem to mind though.  They are blooming like it's December.  Both plants had actual open blooms yesterday, until they attracted a shortish dog who shall remain nameless.  Sigh.  But there are lots more buds.  :-)
Pollen season is in full swing, if the yellow slick on the pond is any indication.  Ewww.  March through May!  Just when it would be lovely to throw all the windows open.  Ah well.

Before the rains started in earnest, the ducks made a visit to our bird feeder.  I mixed some old parakeet food in with the sunflower seeds so I suppose that's what's attracting them. There always seems to be two males for every female.  :-)

Our lady decides to take off towards the driveway.

And back to the pond...followed by her entourage.  Waddle, waddle, waddle, waddle, waddle.  I wonder.  Would I walk all that way if I could fly?

Once the rain really got going the only creatures in sight were people.  Ducks aren't dumb.  :-)

I had a sewing play date with a friend today!  Kathie came over with her fabric and we made purses.  She snapped lots of pictures with my camera so I never thought to use it.  Now I don't have a picture of her pretty blonde self!  Of course the only picture of me is with my eyes closed.  LOL  Dreadful.  I struggled with used the Janome and Kathie used the Bernina. Actually we both muddled through very well considering we were using unfamiliar machines.  :-)

Mom and Dad stopped by for a few minutes.

And by the end of the day we both had new Long-Stemmed Tulip Purses!  The pattern designer, Janice Pope, is in our quilt guild and you see lots of her bags on shoulders at guild meetings.  :-)  Kathie's color choice is so her.  Love it.

My color choice is a little out of my comfort zone.

But pink insides make it perfect!  :-)

In other news:  The latest excitement here on the pond is a big lifestyle change for us.  On Friday, April 1st, we are going gluten-free.   Yikes!  No April Fools.  It's not a dietary whim, without giving any details, it's medically necessary for one of us.  If it turns out to be a good thing for the other one too, that's all good!  I've spent two days cleaning out the pantry, fridge and freezer and have lots to unload give away.  I've also washed out drawers, cupboards, and their contents where I had apparently let the flour dust fly.  (The drawer where the sifters are kept was shocking!) 

Internet research has happened and cookbooks have been bought.  Tomorrow is shopping day number one.  I'm going on a quest for gluten-free in the local stores.  Along with the usual supermarkets we have Whole Foods and Earth Fare nearby.  Oh, and Fresh Market.  Even Walmart has gluten-free now.  So I'm thinking it's not going to be too onerous.  At least not like it once was.  I may even try my hand at baking a few things tomorrow.  You never know!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Quack quack

I think I mentioned we were going to see James Taylor Saturday night.  And we did!  Actually it was James and his son Ben he was introduced, Benjamin Simon Taylor.   They went back and forth between James' music and Ben's, and we thoroughly enjoyed it.   James Taylor had broken his left leg the previous week skiing in Utah.  The news reports said he had a movable splint fashioned for it, but we couldn't see much evidence of the injury except that the choreography was more restrained than usual and he limped off at intermission and particularly at the end.  I actually got a so so picture with my phone!  Ben on the left and James on the right.  Great stuff!

Today was a lovely day and as usual it was busy here on the pond.

The two canada geese are still hanging around and I saw the great blue heron this morning.  The turtles are ever-present.  Up to twenty of them at a time haul out onto the grass to enjoy the sunshine.  Right now though, the real action is with the mallard ducks.  I went out to pick up the redo of my new glasses (so far so good) and when I got home I strolled down the driveway to pick up the mail.  It was so nice to stand in the sun after so many gloomy days I ended up standing there by the pond just soaking it in.  :-)

(I really should go out with a better camera in hand than the cell phone.)  The Lady Banks rose is starting to bloom.

Under the rose bush I had unearthed a clematis.  Don't know what kind it is yet but I think it's enjoying some air and sun.

I also uncovered three miniature roses.  :-)

And the ducks.  They were in rare form.  They all look alike and they are moving around so much it's hard to count them, but I think there are two females and about five males.  Lots of flying around chasing, splashing and quacking.   They were so intent on the chase it was like I wasn't there.  Not that they are afraid of people anyway....but geez!  They kept swooping by me with noisy flapping wings and at one point nearly clipped me on the back of the head!

The one above has just landed in the water after chasing the one below, who is hiding behind me on the road.  Hard to see, but he was so intent on his "quarry" he mowed down the turtle in the center of the picture and several more closer to the edge. 

It was funny listening to the slapping of their feet on the pavement.

And here they come again!  Female in front and two pursuers.

She also hid behind me while these two quacked about it.

In the car I had just been listening to NPR's The Story, which had a segment called "Searching Out Silence," about George Hempton who is an international acoustic ecologist.  He talked about intentional listening to the environment around you.  So I thought I would spend a few moments concentrating on which time the propane truck showed up.  Of course.  But it left pretty quickly and I enjoyed a few minutes listening to the ducks, birds all around me, a red-shouldered hawk in particular, and a woodpecker, a neighbor working on his camper, my dogs barking in the house, and the general sound of community around me.  Nice.

The turtles are silent, but we commune nonetheless.  :-)

Then...sigh...I figured I should go inside and finish cleaning house.  A friend is coming over for a sewing day tomorrow.  Yay!

One last look at blue sky and new leaves.....for tomorrow it rains again.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy hearts and dog hair

Brrrrr it's cold out there! Where did springtime go?? The Tramp and I just came in from a late afternoon stroll around the pond. **shiver**  The road around the pond is a private road. As it is deteriorating, the HOA recently met with a road contractor to assess the areas most needing repairs. It's massively expensive to replace the whole road, so the decision is to look at nine areas to be properly redone. Much of the road is sinking, old patches have fallen apart and a few of the potholes are becoming small ponds of their own. The nine areas are marked and numbered so, as we have all been requested to,  The Tramp and I took a walk around to come up with our suggested priority list of the nine sections. No matter how you look at it, it's going to cost money. Sigh. But it's what we bought into. Our neighbors are very pleasant and the pond makes my heart happy. I think it's worth it. :-)

To abruptly change the subject....this is our master bath. White tile as far as the eye can see. 

One morning last week The Tramp decided to take Maisy in the shower with him for a much needed shampoo.  She loved it.  So much so, she got a second shower a couple of days later.  Yesterday Ivy got the same treatment.  So far so good....

This morning was Ngaire's turn.  Observe. The beautiful Ngaire is a German Shepherd Dog.

She is large.  She is black.  (So black, she is difficult to photograph.) Her coat is wonderfully thick and luxurious.  When kept as "indoor" dogs, shepherds shed heavily year-round.  You can guess where this is going.  Just imagine my nice white bathroom after the deed was done.  O. M. G.

Hmmmmm.  I think what we really need is an outdoor shower.  Especially as now Maisy's powerful sense of entitlement means she thinks it's her right to have a shower everyday!  Nut dog.

Can you resist that face? 

I've been working on the mystery row quilt.  Row 1 is done and I really like it!

Row 2 is six basket blocks.  Five more to go.  I want to be ready for Row 3 April 1st.  :-)  Oh...and I've had to go back to the Bernina for piecing.  The Janome was just too frustrating...darn it.

Charlie has been stuck in his cage in the kitchen most days.  Fine when I'm in there, but not so great when I'm upstairs.  When I rearranged cabinets in the bonus room last week, it turned out the file cabinet I shoved into the dormer alcove is the perfect place for Charlie's smaller cage.  He can see out the window, watch me blog...cut, iron and sew...and "sing" to the stereo.  :-)

Of course this keeps the dogs somewhat amused as well.  Especially Maisy.  Whether Charlie is paying attention to her....

...or not. 

Nut dog.  :-)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Yellow Brick Road?

Yesterday was cleaning and sorting day in The Sandbox.  Boy what a mess it was!  I could hardly walk in here.  I was also very uncomfortable to sit at my "desk."  Maybe the floor is sloped in that corner of the room?  It was killing my back.  Anyway, I lowered the desk (Ikea table with adjustable legs), which makes a huge difference, and turned it sideways.  So far so good.  I shoved some file and other cabinets around too and at some point must have broken a blood vessel in my finger.  It looks spectacular but doesn't hurt too much.  Something to prove I was working hard.  :-D

One of the reasons for cleaning up and reshuffling stuff is this!  Look what I get to test drive.  :-)  A Janome Horizon 7700.  Woohoo!  Ain't that something.

The machine and I spent the day feeling each other out.  After being a Bernina gal for at least 20 years, this is an interesting exercise.  I read the manual (yes I confess, I'm a manual reader) and watched the DVD and played around on some scraps and test quilt sandwiches.  The machine is a real joy for free motion quilting.

I also tried some piecing, and from what I'm reading on the Horizon 7700 Yahoo Group and in many other forums, I'm having the same issue lots of people have with the presser foot getting stuck on multiple thicknesses.  It's not easy to excuse Janome for this issue since, to me anyway, the basic premise of a sewing machine is to sew through multiple layers of fabric.  Without a fight.   I messed with the adjustments and got a bit better as I went.  The quarter-inch foot has a flange on it as your seam guide.  Which is fine, except that it's flexible. (?) As well as the design of the presser foot makes it kind of wobbly.  I think it has way too much play in it for real accuracy.  In contrast, the Bernina feet are rock solid.  I could get used to the thread cutter though!  I'll have to play around with some of the other fancy stitches and see how I go.  I also haven't tried the dual feed feet yet.  Bernina does a great walking foot so we'll see how Janome compares.

I completed four of the six blocks of month one of a LQS's mystery quilt.  Despite frustrations with the Janome, they are coming out the right size.  It's a row quilt and I want to finish the first two rows before the instructions for row three come out April 1st.  I wouldn't normally use yellow in anything but I decided to be brave and try it.  I think I like it.

It's going to be a lousy, chilly, rainy weekend.  So much for the 70 and 80 degree weather...sigh.  But maybe I'll get lots more sewing done.  :-)  And oh yes!  We're going to the James Taylor concert in Raleigh tomorrow night.  The news said he broke his leg and injured his shoulder last week skiing in Utah.  Should be interesting.  :-)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Azalea days

The azaleas yesterday....

The azaleas today!  Wow.  Can you say color explosion?

The porch is looking pretty good too.  I had breakfast out there this morning in my jammies.  Our yard is somewhat private already but the addition of the lattice makes the porch feel even more private.  I like it.  :-)  We also ditched the large table in favor of a small one.  Much better.

The lattice is actually intended to keep dog toenails from ripping the new screens.   We would have to buy another whole 4x8 sheet to do the doors so it's still under consideration.  It might be more of an issue later, after we get a fence, when dogs will be jumping at the doors to come in.

See the bush through the left door?  (ignore our demo debris on the deck!)  We were standing right about where that chair is and large red-shouldered hawk landed in the yard just beyond the bush.  We didn't dare breathe!  I think it missed whatever it was after so flew to a tree in the next yard.  It sat there for a minute making hawk noises then soared off through the trees.  Such a stunningly beautiful creature.  Wow.  (photo from Wikipedia)

The addition of a light made it possible for us to have dinner out here last night too.  Sigh...I still have trim painting to do though.

But it was a gorgeous day so I decided not paint, but celebrate and go for an azalea pink pedicure.  Summer feet!  Yay!  :-D