Monday, May 26, 2008

natural history

I've been so impressed by the bird photos that Vicki and Wanda have been posting that I have to try again with some of my own... we don't have so many colorful species here, though!

Many of the smaller birds seem to travel in clouds -- we have chestnut-backed chickadees (see above) just about all year round and they're often flocking together with plain titmice, which I haven't managed to catch on "film" yet. This morning there was a lot of noise outside the bedroom window, and I found a flurry of bushtits playing in the bamboo hedge. They are tiny -- no more than 4 inches, and so talkative! This fuzzy photo was taken through a window screen.
Then I wandered around to the kitchen window and found some scrub jays -- note that our California version doesn't have the interesting mosaic pattern on the wings the way the midwestern ones do. We have another variety that is very dark all over and crested; I'll try to catch a picture one of these days. (pay no attention to the weeds...)
For the end of the wildlife tour, here's one of our favorite pests, cleaning up under the bird feeder.
The green beauty finally got sewn together! Thanks for all the advice... of course I didn't take most of it! I used a Karen Stone setting from her Cinco de Mayo quilt, which Helen had posted on her blog last week. I like the combination of symmetry and dimensionality in this one.
I also really liked Nancy's suggestion to quilt each square individually so that I could continue to keep rearranging them as often as I liked.

And last but not least, here's the Spring Fling Round Robin that I finished quilting and will be mailing off to parts unknown in the next couple of days. Waiting to see what shows up with MY name on it!

Friday, May 23, 2008

do your friends know?

I've been writing this blog for more than two years now, but for some reason I never told any of my "real" (as opposed to "virtual") friends about it -- other than my sister, but only because she didn't have a blog and it's rare that I get ahead of her on something like that!

My husband once remarked that he thought I was the sort of person who would have a blog, and I just smiled.

So: do your friends know that you have a blog? Do they read and comment on it?

I finally broke through and did "true confessions" to one of my two mini-groups yesterday. They had been watching me make those green blocks and I wanted to have them see photos of the various layouts, and besides -- they're my friends, for heaven's sake! What was I waiting for?

My sister is visiting from Tasmania for a couple of weeks -- she does all sorts of textile-y things and we are planning a trip to Dharma Trading tomorrow for dyeing supplies. She's done it before but I haven't... can't wait! I'm always impressed by other people's hand-dyes. I just need to try to narrow down a color range to start with.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

more greenery

I think I'm going to have you all crying "uncle" by the time this quilt gets put together! Here is the result of more playing with my blocks...
1) yeah, it's very orderly but somehow I like it!
2) Amy asked for "0ne circle in the middle & something going on around it" -- I don't like this one very much, though
3) same theme, but I like this better -- needs a little rearranging of the individual blocks, though.
4) I also had a request for a banner arrangement... I like this one too, and I do have a narrow space where it would fit.
5) Al the engineer tries his hand...
6) and this is the result -- symmetry! but slightly more interesting.
7) and this one is different! I promise this is the end of it, until it's done!

Monday, May 19, 2008

what do you think?

I finally finished the last two of my "green beauty" blocks and I'm trying to decide how to put them together... here are a few ideas:

This started out as a 2-block-a-month project on one of the Yahoo lists, but then the person who was posting them "disappeared" after 14 blocks. It was supposed to have a total of 25. After that, I decided my quilt was only going to have 16 blocks!

I think I'd like the middle version if it were rotated 1 quarter-turn to the left...

Is the bottom version too symmetrical?

And, there is one block where the outer band is wider than all the rest of the blocks -- I think I'm going to rip it apart and add a narrow band in the middle so that the outer band tapers to a point the way the rest of them do.

It's finally cooled off a bit here, although our house really retains heat! Still, I think it's definitely time to take the flannel sheets off the bed...

Friday, May 16, 2008

it's a year for brights!

I seem to be doing a lot of swapping lately, and not working on anything for myself! Here are a couple of the current projects --

First up, the Miniature Booty Swap wraps up this month. Here is my contribution, which will be mailed off to distant shores in the next day or so:My "partner" in the swap gave very few clues, so I hope she likes it. I call it "crazy spring", and it's quilted with some of the (few) decorative stitches on my machine.
Then there's the Spring Fling Round Robin, which is also finishing up. I have this little beauty to quilt, bind, label, and mail off to someone in a country I've never been to. The flowers in the middle are folded fabric, origami-style, and the little yellow/green border is also folded and embellished with beads. I have no idea how I'm going to quilt this one!
We're suffering through one of our relatively rare heat-waves in the bay area this week. Yesterday it was up to 97 F and quite miserable since no one I know has air conditioning! Today is a tiny bit cooler. At the same time, our local water company has announced a mandatory 19% reduction in water use, due to drought conditions. Bad timing-- I have a lovely vegetable garden started and I am not going to let those babies die! I guess it's a trade-off between the water fines and the high cost of good produce in the stores and farmers markets...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

hmm... was it something I said??

Strangely enough, after all my freaking out about the new neighbors... they up and left! I've decided that skunks don't like publicity -- I think they were upset by my paparazzi activity the other night, and the fact that they were written up on this blog and my neighborhood yahoo list, and they just wanted a bit more privacy.
I did the trick of spreading some flour next to their burrow to try to figure out when they went out for the night, so that I could throw a back of mothballs in there, but the flour hasn't been disturbed for three nights now -- however I did catch a raccoon on the front porch last night, and found his tracks in the flour, too!
Oh well, back to quilting... here's a sneak peak at my Booty Swap quilt: Yes, it IS bright, isn't it? I have no idea whether my partner will like it because she didn't give many clues -- but I think it's going to be fun. I'll post another photo when it's done.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

my new neighbors

A couple of days ago, I noticed a little pile of dirt on the walkway from our house down to the street, but Al had been messing around in the yard the day before so I didn't think anything of it.
Then he came home from work the next evening and asked if I knew what the dirt was from. (cue ominous music...)
Fast forward to about 10 last night; I opened the front door to call for the cat to come in, and started to walk down the stairs until I saw -- a skunk, hanging out near the pile of dirt. Oops. Back quickly into the house!
After that, I watched out the living room window as mom and six baby skunks frolicked on our front path. Apparently they have burrowed under the concrete and created a nice home for themselves. Since they're nocturnal, and we pretty much close the front curtains when it gets dark, the mom may have been there for a while! The babies are sooo cute -- and they play like kittens! Al says I can't keep any, though...
I hung out on the porch for a bit trying to get a good photo last night -- shooting through the double-pane window into the dark wasn't working at all -- and here's my best result:
I'm going to try for a better one tonight! Any suggestions on how to get these guys to move without trying to kill them?

Friday, May 02, 2008

The Rosie Report

I had a lot of fun in San Diego, and really didn't too much damage, fabric-wise! I have to admit that Rosie's was pretty overwhelming in terms of selection and prices ($7.50/yard for batiks, for instance) -- but it didn't have a lot of LQS personality, if you know what I mean. My fabric was cut by a high-schooler who never looked up, never commented on anything, never smiled...

I bought a bunch of batik -- you can see I'm kind of on a red kick at the moment.
And a few others, mostly stripes. I saw the figs somewhere a while back and didn't buy them, and have been thinking about them ever since! I love figs, and it's just too cool to see them on fabric. I'll probably cut them all up so that they're unrecognizable as fruit... but I'll know what they are!
Mona also took me to a local shop called "Cozy Quilt", which was having a sale on their own series of patterns. The store was airy and bright, and the staff was oh-so-friendly! They even gave me an extra pattern for being an out-of-town visitor.

I can tell it's truly spring because Bucky brought in his first "gift" this morning. This is how "gifts" get treated until Al comes home to dispose of them:
I took a peek when I got home and yes, I think he's still alive! Missing most of the tail, though. I have never seen a lizard in the yard in the 10 years we've lived here -- but somehow the cat manages to find a few of them every year. Maybe he's got an import contract going on...