Wednesday, June 30, 2010

North Carolina

North Carolina photos...a spectacularly gorgeous beach and fabulous pelicans... they flew over several times a day and were always cool to watch. Most of the family made it to the house for at least a few days and it was a blast to see everyone. We really missed Amanda, Pat, Terri, and Tim. Next time, right?

This is the reason to grow annual flowers. I picked this bouquet on Monday evening after I weeded the garden. Before we left for the beach last week there weren't any zinnias, snaps, or cleome in bloom. When we got home, all of them were out. These are the kind of flowers that bloom more if they are picked. It's a good thing, cause I'm keeping bouquets in the house all summer. However, the deer and I are going to have words (like they care). We came home and found the top of every sunflower plant snapped off about a foot off the ground. Now it is possible that they were just pruning for me, but highly doubtful. We'll see what happens when the sunflowers start to branch out (if they do, of course).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

To the Sea, To the Sea, To the Beautiful Sea

Off on vacation on Friday. Thanks to L who again rented the huge fabulous beachfront house in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a week of fun, family, and beach. Most of us are getting there, only my son, P and his fiancee, and K's husband are not going to be able to make some part of the week. We will miss them. J will be there too, and C and her children. It will be a blast. We have games and crafts planned, baking, eating and drinking, walking on the beach, sitting in the sun, jumping in the waves, fishing and crabbing, boating, doing the local art fair, sleeping, catching up with each other and in general, just enjoying each other's company. It's a wonderful week. It is definitely one of the high points of my year. Thanks to all for making time for all of us.

Monday, June 14, 2010

eagle chicks and Star Light

These photos are of me holding a 45 day old American Bald eagle chick, #92. It weighs about 3.3 kilos and is probably a male. The USFWS (Matt and Dave) came out and banded the two eagle chicks in the nest near my office today. Matt climbed the tree and lowered the chicks one at a time in a bag to the ground. Dave put his hat over the chick's head to calm it and took 10 ccs of blood from a wing for lab work for heavy metals and organochlorines (PCBs and dioxins). He measured the talons, the beak, and a specific feather midway down the wing to age and sex the bird and took 3 small feathers from the back to analyze for mercury contamination. He looked for parasites and infections and then banded their leg with a metal band. These guys seemed healthy. We have been watching the adults since early March and the chicks since about the end of April. The chicks will double in weight before fledging at 10-11 weeks old. Dave said that though the charts are designed for 60 day old chicks, they don't like to wait that long to band them, since the older they are, the more likely they are to jump out of the nest and glide to the ground before Matt can get them in the bag. I thought it was very cool to be able to hold this one. I am keeping my face away because just as Dave handed me the bird, he was telling the story of someone holding one like this and the beak coming around and snapping off part of the person's nose. Hmmm. They have serious beaks and talons, even at 6 weeks old. But it also had baby feathers, soft and downy.

The tree is located in an area of an old manufacturing facility that I worked on for many years providing state oversight for the extensive PCB clean-up at the site. To me, the eagle chicks seem like validation that contaminated sites can be re-born. I was very happy to spend a few minutes with this one. I am looking forward to seeing where he has chicks himself in a few years. It's being able to have days like today that keep me in my office doing this work.

The Star Light quilt top is complete. C helped me take the photo. It is big, about 99x99", whiter and brighter than I usually do, and of course, liberated in the style of the stars and letters. It took 2 full weeks to complete, working on it most days. I think that I'm happy with the quilt top, I do like the navy batik and white Kona muslin together. The bottom and left border are just plain white fabric, so I'll have to wait until after it is quilted to to see if I'm really happy with it or not. I haven't decided on the quilting style, or if I am going to hand quilt or machine quilt. I was thinking that I would wait until I practiced with the long arm and rent it to quilt this one, but I may do it by hand. I have a vacation coming up and I'm thinking that sitting on the deck of the ocean front house with my cold drink will be a very fun place to quilt.

Friday, June 11, 2010

socks, C's quilt, and scrap pages

My new socks, aren't they the coolest thing ever? I finally have a pair of handmade socks. I was at weaving last fall and my friend P had on handmade socks and we got to talking about knitting. She has been making socks for a long time, in fact, long enough so that her, her husband, children, and granddaughter only wear handmade socks. I said that I couldn't buy handmade socks because my feet were too big and she said that she would make me a pair. I bought the yarn in Jan and picked them up tonight. They are warm and very comfortable and fit perfectly. Thank you P.
This is C and her quilt top. She picked out the colors and pattern, and sewed it together herself. When we get a chance to rent the long arm quilter, she is going to quilt it too. It will be uniquely hers. (Very uniquely hers cause those aren't my colors...) We are still discussing whether this is her quilt #2 and whether she has to go to the back of the line for the next one after I finish the wedding quilt. After the wedding quilt, all the kids will have one apiece that I have made and since C's was the first one, she thinks she should be next in line....for a second one. I'm thinking I'm going to do a few extras never know who will need a quilt.

Now that K has graduated, go Dr. K!, I can show the pictures that I took of our scrapbook pages. Her mom and E decided that she needed a scrapbook page from everyone who wished her well on her new adventure of being a doctor. I thought it was a great idea. Her dad's and my page is with the 3 postcard style pictures. Balance is her dad's wish, and Serenity and Family are my wishes (and they don't always go together as she will probably find out...). The picture of her and dad was taken at her coat ceremony a couple years ago. The little skeleton was part of a set of halloween earrings that I bought because I wanted this charm, and the pictures were copied onto fabric using the printer. I also made the ribbon using the printer. I learned alot making these pages. C also made a very cool page and D helped by selecting their photo. I had a small bag that I had saved from somewhere with this hawaiian scene on it and C used the images from the bag and alot of fabric to create the waves. She started out using paper, but it turned out that I had a many more colors of fabric than paper, imagine that?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

the appendix quilt (aka star light)

I'm starting to get it together. This is the liberated stars/spiky border/funky letters quilt top. The star bright goes on the right side. The quilt top isn't blotchy, I strung a rope between the trees in the woods and took the picture, so you are seeing filtered sunlight. I need to make lots more spiky pieces for the border, but the rest of it is done, it just needs to be connected.
I will probably always think of this as the appendix quilt, but the label will say Star Bright.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

plant varieties

First off, C finished her 72x100" quilt top today. We even cut the batting for it. We'll get the backing fabric this week and try out the long arm quilter on Sunday. If all goes well, she should have it by the time we get to the beach.

Ok, my compost is sprouting weeds. Seriously. There are little tiny weed seedlings everywhere. I spent 2 hours on Friday pulling them from the annual garden and another hour this morning finishing the annual bed and there were more from where I had pulled 2 days ago. This is going to be a real job for a bit until the flowers get big enough to shade the weeds out. I also walked around and pulled from the other front gardens where we had spread compost. The feverfew and valerian are out so the garden has gone from pink and purple crane's bill, iris, columbine, and peonies to a carpet of white. However the pinks are starting to come, and the carpet rose, shastas, and purple coneflowers are starting to bud out. I cut down the yellow coneflower this year. It blossoms later and is shorter than the 6-7' if I trim it off before July. It was lovely outdoors today, sunny, but cooler than it has been. It is so quiet on Sunday morning and I waved to at least 6 or 7 neighbors going by. This morning I was almost happy that I had weeds to pull on a Sunday morning. I suspect the notion may wear off quickly.

Feel free to skip the rest of the post. I need a place to memorialize (somewhere that I will be able to find my list next spring) what varieties of plants that I used in the vegetable and annual gardens.
My list is for the vegetable garden is:
Roma tomato - modern sauce, plants from Van Attas
Supersteak tomato- modern hybrid, plants from Van Attas
Big Boy tomato- modern hybrid, plants from MT
Oxheart tomato - heirloom from PW
Mortgage Lifter tomato - heirloom, plants from Van Attas
German Pink tomato - heirloom from seed, Seed saver
Sudduth's Brandywine tomato- heirloom from seed, Seed Saver
Dwarf Gray Sugar and another unremembered variety, edible pod, Harts seeds
Bloomsdale Longstanding spinach, Harts seeds
radishes and carrots from seed, Harts seeds
Contender and Derby bush beans, Harts seeds
Red bell peppers, plants from Keits
Green bell pepper, plants from Eastern Mkt
Garden Salsa pepper, plants from Van Attas
Potatoes from Keits
Texas red sweet onion sets from Keits
Straight Eight cucumbers, from Burpees seed
Sweet Genovese Basil, from seed, Seed Savers, planted in herb garden

Annual Bed
2 flats Ultra Pink petunias, 10-12", Keits
1 flat mixed Rocket snapdragons, 30-36", Keits
few Bella snapdragons, 20-24", Keits
.5 flat Ruffles zinnias, 30-36", East Mkt
.5 flat Vintage mix stocks, 16-18", Keits
2 flats mixed stocks, 12-36", East Mkt
.5 flat short dahlias, 10", East Mkt
2 flat short marigolds, East Mkt
1 flat tall Benary's Giant zinnias, 40-50". east Mkt
1 flat state Fair zinnias, 30-36",
cosmos from seed
bachelor's buttons from seed
Grandpa Ott's morning glories from seed, Seed Savers
sweet peas from seed
sunflowers from seed
3 cannas from tubers
7 dahlias from tubers
.5 flat Burpeeana zinnia from seed, 24", planted most in veggie bed
1 flat Cempoalxochitl marigolds, 4-5', from seed, Seed Savers, planted most in veggie bed
1 flat mixed cleome, 42-48"
1 flat Madame Butterfly snapdragons, 24-30", East Mkt
planted many double, gave some away, probably needed about 8 flats to fill 10x50' bed

Pots on back deck
asparagus fern
Pink wave petunias
Pink coleus

Pots on front porch
Boston fern, bought 1, chopped into 4 pieces.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

liberated stars

New project! 16 of 25 almost done. I started last week while home with D. However I have changed my mind 5 times on what I'm doing so I have needlessly cut each piece of fabric at least 5 times before I got what I wanted. These are 4.5" sections, I also made 2 squares using 2.5" sections and 2 squares using 6.5" sections. I have made them with and without borders and have decided to use the sashing so I still have alot of work to do. I'm going to use the odd sized squares on the back I think. I started out cutting 4.5" strips of each batik to make a strip quilt. I didn't really like that so I then cut the strips about in 1/2 and started to make log cabins. I made about 45 irregularly shaped log cabins and then decided to make stars, so I cut some of the log cabins into 4.5" squares and used those for stars. I cut the points of the stars out of the left over log cabin pieces, but I still have about 30 or so multicolored batik irregularly shaped log cabins, so I have enough to do another quilt, I think. I have been wanting to do one of these liberated star quilts ever since I saw one in Gwen Marston's book. I am going to go next Sunday and learn how to use a long arm quilting machine, so I am thinking this might be a good quilt to start on. It certainly won't need to be perfectly quilted. I'm hoping to get it done in time to take to the beach in 2 weeks.

Friday, June 4, 2010

veggie garden

This is very cool. I have a veggie garden. These are the tomatoes; 4 Roma, 4 Big Boy, 4 Mortgage Lifter, 2 Oxheart, 1 Supersteak, 8 Brandywine and 8 German Pink tomato. The Brandywine, Mortgage Lifter, Oxheart and German Pink are heirlooms. We'll see if they taste better than the Big Boy or Supersteak hybrids. The heirlooms are supposed to get 12 feet tall. I'm going to let them run on the ground (in the 5' wide aisles) and D says that I will need a machete to get down the rows by the middle of July. We'll see. The garden is over on Morrish Road, not too far away, but I do have to drive in order to water and weed. The farm owner has a big tank on a wagon and lets me water from the tank. I went over last night and put Miracle Grow and water on all the plants. I have to go back this weekend with the little tiller and start the weeding process. I put in a row of big red sweet onions, a row of potatoes, a row of 2 different kinds of bush beans, a row of snap peas, and a row of radishes, carrots, and spinach. There are 2 rows of Straight 8 cucumbers, and green and red bell peppers, and some Garden Salsa pepper plants. I also planted 2 rows of tall marigolds and a row of zinnias that I started in the florida room from seed. I didn't want to, but I had to stop planting. H was giving me the evil eye. He says that we can't eat that many tomatoes, but I want to can or freeze them this year so I need a lot. I took photos tonight of the cucumbers, beans, and radishes, as well as C looking really excited about being in a garden. She told me that she would go with me, but she wasn't getting dirty and that we had to stop for Dairy Queen. I'm not sure that I am going to be able to afford the "help" but I'm going to get her to help me weed this weekend.
I pulled a few weeds tonight, but mostly I just took photos, admired my plants, and left before the skeeters arrived for the evening. I have missed having a garden, and to have an annual garden and a veggie garden too this year is an incredible luxury. I know, I should be careful what I wish for....

I am totally disgusted with myself for putting the 5 yards of compost on the beds at the house. The compost was full of weed seeds and I have at least 20-30 weed seedlings per square foot that I have to pull by hand in the annual bed, the perennial beds, the herb garden, the raspberry patch, and even in the pots of cherry tomatoes on the deck. Good grief, the compost was supposed to help mitigate weeds, not promote them. I have learned my lesson, next year it will be mulch again.