Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Thou Shalt Not Covet....

I don't covet my neighbor's husband...or wife either for that matter, but I sure do covet my neighbor's sewing machine! Last Friday and Saturday I had the pleasure of attending two of Patsy Thompson's machine quilting workshops. If you ever get a chance to take a class with Patsy, go for it! She's a wonderful teacher and her quilting is exquisite. Check out her work on her website and here are a few photos of her samples I took with my cell phone. The last one is the teaching sample you can see her creating on her sewing machine. Wow.

As for coveting.... The workshop was an unique opportunity to see what other machines people use for machine quilting. The one that impressed me by far was the Juki TL98Q. SIGH.....

I'll have to wait for that. I did treat myself to a Bendable Bright Light though. *happy dance*

One of the jobs the Juki would be fantastic for is foundation piecing...because of the thread cutter feature. I know this because I've been foundation piecing this week...with no thread cutter.

Last year I had the pleasure of taking a Pineapples Plus workshop with Jane Hall. Another wonderful teacher and lucky for us, a member of our guild. I made one block and then of course it became another UFO. Bless the organizers of this year's North Carolina Quilt Symposium, they've included The Jane Hall Challenge as an entry category so now I have to finish it. :-) I've been slaving away at my Bernina this week finishing eight more blocks to go with UFO block number one.

"Challenge" is the right word! I have such a crick in my shoulder, despite regular stretching breaks. And I have made so many stupid mistakes! Aaarrrrggghhh. To say nothing of changing the design of the first four blocks twice! Ripping out the small stitching on foundation papers is not fun. But success comes to those who perservere (ha...listen to me preach). I have now have nine blocks pinned up on my design wall....

and a mess (this is just today's mess!). Just wait until I get to ripping out the paper backing. Oh my!

The dogs are unimpressed as usual. :-)

I was hanging the fabric strips on a quilt rack. Handy...except the rails are slippery and Ivy kept helping herself to the strips that slid off onto the floor. So I spent a bit of time glueing flannel to the rails. Works like a charm! :-)

While I was working away and humming along with iTunes my mind was wandering and I had fun thinking up names for this little wall hanging. Some weren't so nice. :-) In the end I decided I should call it Don't Tell Jane. I'd rather she didn't know how much I've struggled with nine blocks when she's made many award-winning quilts with the same method. My hat's off to you Jane!

And this just in from my DIL, the Navy Wife. The Sailor Son has been sending videos from the ship for his son, of himself reading story books.

DIL also made him a "Me and my Daddy" poster.

Now doesn't that just pull your heartstrings?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Country Cousin

I'm used to city squirrels...roaming my yard, chattering from the trees, chewing holes in the bird feeders, living in my attic, and even once greeting me face to face when I opened a cabinet in the butler's pantry! *shriek!*

Here in somewhat rural North Carolina we have one squirrel that comes anywhere near the house. Just one. This one squirrel shows up infrequently to browse around the ground under the bird feeders. So here it is. Note the squirrel baffle at the bottom of the bird feeder pole. It blew off again and I haven't gone out to mount it back up on the pole yet. Maybe I shouldn't bother. Never once does our squirrel try to climb the pole, baffle or not. That sure ain't no city squirrel! :-D

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When life hands you lemons....

Some mornings I'd rather just not start the day...sigh. Especially as now I've lost an hour. It's much more pleasant to lay in bed listening to the birds while Ngaire sits silently at her post watching for cats.

I've been pretty tart and puckery lately. I'll admit it. Our bit of home renovation began to get on my nerves. I had to have a couple of quiet tantrums to get my point across but things are coming out very nicely indeed.

We were both pretty grumpy this last weekend. Achy and tired from crawling around and around the living room floor. The Tramp installing the baseboard and me filling, sanding, caulking and painting. The house is still at sixes and sevens which is driving us both crazy, but even though some bits are not quite finished...

the doors, baseboards, and window trim are done. So I think we've made a bit of lemonade in the living room. :-) Even better is the anticipation of a trip with friends to the new Ikea Charlotte.

On Saturday afternoon, in the midst of all this, The Tramp turned on the kitchen faucet and discovered we had no water. Oh geez. What now? This time the blessing came in the guise of a home warranty policy...

and wonderful neighbors who snaked a long hose over from their well to keep us going for as long as we needed. More lemonade. :-)

The plumber came on Sunday morning and pulled up one nasty old well pump...

as well as funky pipe and even funkier wiring. So we continued to haul buckets of water to flush the toilets and run down the road to Mom and Dad's for showers until the new pump was installed on Monday. We also opted for a larger pressure tank to be added at the same time. For the first time we have water pressure. Some serious lemonade here!

While the plumber went around to check all the faucets and clean out the aerators, the kitchen faucet fell apart in his hands. Our water is acid and faucets don't last very long. Fortunately we had a brand new faucet we've been dragging from house to house and never got around to installing. And now it's in my kitchen! Everything around it is still old, but hey...I'll take it!

Unfortunately, in the middle of all madness on Monday, came the tartest lemon of all. Little Belle died suddenly and unexpectedly. She was at the vet for a routine teeth cleaning and didn't make it. I was in the midst of a massive migraine as it was and already pretty useless. The Tramp somehow managed to keep track of the plumbers and all the well, pressure tank, pipe and faucet issues; gave his strong shoulder to my parents and I while we coped with the loss of Belle; and also put in a nearly full day of working-from-home, answering calls, returning emails and dealing with what-all he deals with every day. I slunk away and hid in bed in the dark and left him to it. I really don't know what I'd do without my Tramp.

That, my friends...


Strawberry Lemonade.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tweet Tweet

Sheesh! It's taken me three days to get this put together. My brain is mush. I don't think I could fight my way out of a paper bag if I had to. But that's another story.

This makes me happy. :-)

The bird feeders have been pretty much deserted lately. Monday's ice and snow brought what seemed like hundreds of birds to our seed and suet feeders. I spent a good few hours watching in fascination. I had to bang at the frozen feeders to get them opened for filling and took out hot water to unfreeze the bird baths. That's some of the waiting crowd in the tree up above. Click on the photo and you may even be able to spot the Bluebirds!

I saw lots of familiar feathers and had fun flipping through my Peterson Guide and added a few new names to my life list. I'll bet I missed a few too! There are some mystery birds in my photos. And once again The Poor Tramp had to listen to me wax enthusiastic about the possibility of a telephoto lens...with fresh gushing about setting up a tripod at my new living room window. :-D

So here's the day's roster as I saw it. Some photos give good detail if you click on them, some just get blurrier. It depends which camera I was using. Ah well! :-)

Goldfinches. Masses of them. They're just starting to turn back to summer yellow.

A lone male Downy Woodpecker. Yesterday I saw the female.

A Brown Thrasher...or two. I have seen two together. Maybe there are more? Hard to tell when they come one at a time though, they look so alike. They are new to me since we moved to North Carolina. Difficult to tell from the photos but they are big birds. And they sing (the males I guess) like crazy in the summer, sounding much like the Mockingbirds. They hang out right over my head and serenade me while I garden. (click on the photo to see that yellow eye!)

And this morning.

Pine Warblers. A new one for the list! They go for the suet. I'm not sure exactly how many are hanging around. They were hard to identify at first but Dad just bought me a new book, "The North Carolina Birding Trail: Piedmont Trail Guide", which helped me figure out which one of the many little yellow warblers are local.

Lots of sharing going on. A Bluebird, Pine Warbler and a Yellow-Rumped Warbler with Goldfinch in the background.

Tufted Titmouse. (mice?) They generally dive bomb the feeders with a long whistle and take a sunflower seed away and sit with it held between their feet and chip at it to open it.

Northern Cardinals. There were lots of them last summer. I watched a whole crowd of them grow up. Not so many during the winter. I hope they all come back.

House Finch. It was awful watching so many of them succumb to eye infections last summer so I'm pleased to see at least one come back. Of course the only photo I got on Monday was this one! LOL

This morning. :-)

Bluebirds. Swoon! Four of them. Three males and a female. I never get tired of seeing them. I had never seen any, in the feather, so to speak, before last year!

Yellow-Rumped Warbler. Another one new to me. There have been quite a few at the suet and I think the seed too.

Mockingbirds. They are often greedy and drive the other birds away. But not this week.

Drinking from the garden teacup this morning. :-)

White-Throated Sparrows. I wasn't quick enough for a photo in the snow. They stick to the ground and dart away under the bushes when I move. So these blurry ones are from this morning.

Ouch! Very blurry. But the white throat really shows up. And the yellow eye spots.

Dark-Eyed Junco (Snow Birds). They've been here all winter. They also stick to the ground and I missed the snowy photo op but managed one this morning.

Mourning Doves. They suddenly showed up late in the day, after I put the camera away of course. So also from this morning.

Pine Siskins. Another newbie for my list. A click on the photo will show the tell tale bit of yellow on the edge of the wing.

A Carolina Wren showed up again this morning as well. Love me some Wrens. :-)

There were Chipping Sparrows too. And a Carolina Chickadee which didn't show up until yesterday and didn't stay for a photo...sigh.

So that's all. Now I have to go bond with my paint brush. At least I'm painting window trim and can see the bird feeders from there!