May 31, 2011

Oh, What A Night...

I'd planned to share my next small quilt project with you today, but instead, I have a short tale to share.

Last night, I went to Panera's and met up with the girls for our regular knit/crochet night. Everyone had a good time and we all parted company around 8:30. I headed home on my usual route, which takes me past a large, wild area.

I always drive the speed limit, even if law enforcement didn't regularly set up speed traps there, but also because you never know what you'll see on or next to the road in that area. We've seen large, wild hogs with litters of piglets tearing up the easement, armadillos snouting in the grass for grubs, or an occasional raccoon foraging next to the fence line. The most disturbing event is always the seasonal toad migration from one, soggy side of the road to the other soggy side of the road. Love is a powerful motivator, and once I realize I'm axle-deep on a road, slick with frogs, I avoid the area like the plague until I know the "frog season" is over.

I know. I got a little sidetracked here. Sorry. So, as I drove home from Panera's, a bird swooped down onto the roadway right. in. front. of. me. I swerved left. Bird flared right. My right bumper caught his left side. I just kept repeating, "Oh, no! Oh, no!"

I turned around and my headlights shone on a beautiful barred owl hopping on the road, with an obviously broken left wing. (Thankfully, the bird was alert, so the wing was the only damage.) As I drove back toward the owl, it hopped into the grass. I kept it in my headlights and turned on my flashers. After quickly grabbing one of Kes' dog quilts from the back of my Explorer, I slowly and calmly walked toward the owl. It didn't take long for me to cover the owl with the quilt and scoop it into my arms. Then, I drove home as quickly as I could.

Handsome and Kes met me at the door and I asked him to call the police station to see if they had a warden or animal control person that could come out and take the owl to the wildlife rehab facility in Venice, FL. A policeman was dispatched to "our location", and he made a number of calls to see what should be done with the bird.
Before the officer arrived, we had taken one of those plastic milk crates and carefully placed it over the owl as I unfurled the quilt. I was concerned the the bird would be too warm wrapped in the quilt - and it took nearly an hour for the officer to get to our house. (Injured owls are not a priority.) We kept the quilt under the crate, anticipating an eventual transfer to another crate or enclosure.

Handsome and the policeman commented on what a large bird it was, and were surprised that I had managed to handle it without getting pecked or scratched. ("I am woman, hear me roar!" Really, I was just darn careful - and lucky.)

After multiple calls between the office, dispatch and animal facilities, it turned out that the only place the owl could go to at 10:30 at night was the emergency clinic in Sarasota (20 miles away) where Handsome and I had been last month with Fezzik. I told Handsome that I would make the drive and we agreed he'd stay home with geriatric Kes.

The emergency clinic was alerted by the officer that I was on my way, so they were ready when I arrived. I pulled the quilt up around the crate, secured it with a bungee and carefully carried the injured owl into the clinic. They took the crate to the holding area, put the owl into a kennel and allowed me to take its picture before they covered the door with a towel to keep the owl calm.

Wildlife rehab people will be at the clinic this morning to take the owl back to their facility. There they'll repair its wing and allow it to heal before taking it back to the area where it was injured. I'm so sorry owl. I hope you heal quickly and completely so that you can go back home.

I never expected yesterday to take the path it did. What a night! I'm still finding it hard to believe that I actually held that magnificent bird in my arms. It's an experience I won't soon forget. I'll be back tomorrow to show you what I'm working on next.

PS. When I got back home, I found one, fluffy feather that the owl had left behind for me. A reminder of my close encounter with one of God's beautiful and majestic creations. That's the feather in my first photograph today.

May 30, 2011

How Fortuitous...

You may remember that I've been working to construct a granny square crochet cardigan. Grandma had given me one of the sweaters she'd made for herself (the red and green one I told you about here), and I was using that as a guide.

Mum told me that Grandma had made a crocheted cardigan for her, too. I remembered that she had one, but I was so happy when I came across a photo of my beautiful mother wearing her sweater from years ago. (Doesn't she look like a 1970's model in this picture?)

What made me so happy about finding this picture (aside from the fact that I could share it with you) is that I prefer the style of this cardigan to the one Grandma used to wear. Gram loved high collars in Wisconsin, but I don't really need a sweater with a high collar in Florida - even if it is made with cotton yarn.

So, I've changed the design just a bit on mine and will use Mum's as the pattern instead. Such good fortune to have come across Mum's picture! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now - and it's shining on a beautiful, pastel crocheted cardigan. I'm hoping to finish it this week. Fingers crossed!
Just a couple of reminders:
You can join in my Memory Lane Monday right up through June 6th. (See previous post to participate and link up.)

Also, I wanted to remind you that my Etsy Shop Sale ends tomorrow at midnight - and I'll then put my shop into vacation mode for the summer. I have some ideas for new things I want to bring onboard in the fall and am looking forward to sharing them with you. So, don't forget, the shop (and Boutique) will go "on break" tomorrow at midnight. (You can visit my shop by clicking the button at the top of my blog in the link bar.)

May 29, 2011

Memory Lane Monday - Memorial Day Gratitude...

It was 1979. My brother was in the Navy, stationed on the aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz. The ship was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea. Tensions had increased over Iran's taking of fifty two American hostages. Four months later, Operation "Evening Light" was launched in an effort to rescue the hostages. The rescue was aborted when too many helicopters were lost in the desert to safely transport hostages and military personnel out of the region.

In 1979, my brother would have been twenty years old. He worked as a member of the "crash crew" (firemen) on the deck of the immense carrier. A long way from home, in the middle of a heroic effort in a strange place, he must have feared for his life as much as the helicopter pilots that he would help welcome back to the ship. He also mourned the lives of fellow crew members who would not return to port. All his family back here prayed for his safety and confirmation that he was alright.

There were other moments during his tenure on the ship that caused all of us to worry, including a time when some of the aircraft exploded on the deck and lives were lost. We knew he would be right in the middle of all the chaos, and prayed for word from the Navy that he was safe. We were one of the lucky families. Others would never return home to theirs. They made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country.

When we were children, Memorial Day was always the beginning of summer, picnics, swimming, camp and cookouts. My mum always took us downtown to watch the parades, too. We loved the marching bands and Shriners on their motorcycles, but I never fully appreciated the men and women in uniform until after my brother served. Of course, I studied history in school, but never really grasped the impact of the stories of war; families affected; lives spent - until my brother proudly wore the uniform of the United States Navy.

Today, I'd like to ask that you pause to consider the bravery, commitment and strength of all of those people who have fought to preserve our way of life in the United States. Pray for the families who never got to hold their loved ones again. Bow your head and take a moment to thank them all. Their sacrifices made it possible for all of us to live in freedom in the best country in the world.

Thank you, brother, for your service - along with so many others that I could name - and so many more unknown to me.

God Bless all of them - and God Bless America.

Thanks for joining me for Memory Lane Monday. You can join the party by linking up between today and June 6th. I look forward to reading your stories, too - whether they're sweet family memories or related to Memorial Days past. After you've posted your story on your blog, just come back and link up below.

May 28, 2011

Sunday Scripture...

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:
not as the world giveth, give I unto you.
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
- John 14:27

To all the men and women who have served
our country with unending bravery and courage...
To the countless families whose sons and daughters
made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom...

We offer our humble gratitude and eternal respect.
Because of you, we are able to sleep without fear,
speak our minds free from retribution, and
raise our families safe from harm.

Thank you!
God Bless our soldiers, past and present
God Bless The United States of America.

May 27, 2011

Hello, It's Me...

Our cell phone contract ended about two years ago, but we've been holding off on a new contract hoping that our provider would offer Apple's iPhone™. Finally, in January, the iPhone came to our provider.

My Blackberry™ has been giving me a lot of grief lately, and Handsome has disliked his phone for a while. We figured now was as good a time as any to make a few decisions...whether or not to just get new phones and basic service, or upgrade our smart phones.
We decided to upgrade to iPhones™. Mine is a white 16GB iPhone 4, and Handsome got a black one. Of course we had to get silicone covers (mine is ocean blue) to protect them, along with a car charger and a handy little stylus for each of us. I can also use mine with my iPad.

I really like the way it feels and we're already fluent in Apple's user-friendly technology. I'll sync it up with my calendar, contacts and a few photographs tomorrow. Call me a "techi". It's ok with me. I can't wait to make a bona fide phone call with it!
A quick reminder...
Monday is Memory Lane Monday, however, because it's a holiday and many of you will be taking the day off, I'm going to keep the link open for a whole week. That way, you'll be able to participate any time between Monday, May 30th and Monday, June 6th. Hope you're thinking of a personal memory to share with us! My post will go up on Sunday evening so you can link up any time after that.

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

PS. Hey, Shell. I thought you'd like a new tune to hum today! lol

Silent Friday...

May 25, 2011

Not All Who Wander Are Lost...

I really had fun yesterday doing the machine quilting to finish my "On The Road" quilt. I decided that each different section would have a different quilting pattern. I just let my muse lead me without any pre-planning.
Now the table quilt is finished for the Flying Cloud. It's small - measuring only 44 inches by 51 inches - small compared to what I've been making lately. I think it's really cheerful and whimsical.
This photo will give you a little closer look at the different patterns. (Remember, you can always click on the photo for a closer view.)

Handsome walked into the studio while I was working on the quilting and I told him I was having fun wandering around my quilt. He asked, "Are you lost?" In fine Tolkein form I replied, "No honey. Not all who wander are lost." He knew the reference and smiled as he walked away.

May 24, 2011

Seashells and Hydrangeas...

Twenty years ago, we used to receive shell-encrusted gifts from Handsome's Florida aunt, Eula. I really liked getting those shell gifts, but we always used to giggle about them. "Silly Aunt Eula sent something seashell again!"

After we moved here, I saw the appeal of those pieces, but I also thought it might be fun to create my own. So I went hunting for the perfect basket for my transformation and found this one already in one of our other rooms.
It had a slightly domed, large lid which I determined would withstand the weight of all those shells. Of course, I'd require seashells, too. I found the types and sizes I was going to need and then sorted them.
I had assembled an assortment of shell types and then separated them according to size and type. It didn't take all day to make this, either. I actually completed in a few hours.
I secured them to the basket with Golden matte gel medium and it worked really well. I began in the center and worked my way out, just gluing as a went. The final pieces were the center shell and starfish. I'm really happy with the way it turned out!

The hydrangeas have a special beauty that reminds me of Nantucket. These are artificial, but hey! I can just spray them and they sorta smell like real flowers! Both of these creations sit on shelves in our living room, so I can see them whenever I walk to or through the room. They make me very happy.

What makes you happy? Have fun leaving - and then reading - other people's color issue.

May 23, 2011

Ellie's Back From Rehab...

When I owned Stitches in Wisconsin, the girls and I used to take the same approach to anything mechanical that didn't work. If it happened to be a car, we all agreed that it was best to just leave it in the garage until it "felt better".

Sometimes, that only took overnight - especially in the winter - when the problem might have simply been that something froze up. You'd be amazed how something could thaw in the garage overnight and result in a car that worked fine the next day (but, usually not). Nevertheless, our philosophy was always good for a laugh.

Now that I'm more mature and wiser (no laughing, please), and I don't leave things of a mechanical nature to simply heal themselves. I'm more proactive these days.

I noticed that the last time I asked Miss Ellis (my nickname for my Babylock Ellisimo) to help me with a project, she seemed to be under the weather and falling a little behind on her tasks. I decided it was time to send her to Dr. Bob for a checkup.

She only went away to "rehab" for the weekend, but it was long enough for Dr. Bob to get to the bottom of her "issues"...also requiring that I put off a task that needed the attention only she can give.

I'll be picking her up from the clinic this morning. Dr. Bob has given her a completely clean bill of health and has written a note approving her return to full duty. I'm glad to hear she's completely recovered because she's got a lot to catch up on in the studio. I can't wait to show you what she and I have planned!

May 22, 2011

Little Bird, Little Bird...

While I sat reading in our living room yesterday afternoon, I kept seeing the same little wren flying past our big windows. She'd dart from the sill out onto my jasmine bushes and then off into the yard. Soon, I would see her again on top of the jasmine or screen house on her way back toward the house.

After a little while I grabbed my camera because I knew what that meant. I only had to find where she'd chosen to build her nest. That didn't take long. I opened the screen door and went into the courtyard to find that she'd chosen a safe and protected spot behind our storm shutters.

Nothing like showing you a housekeeping job we missed. Upon reviewing my photos, I saw just how much those shutters need to be power washed, but now that task will wait until the nest is empty.
I quietly walked up to the rail for the shutters and peered inside the nest. I was fascinated by her architectural skills! She really put a roof on her abode! The fuzzy stuff near the top was pulled from the trunks of some of our palm trees. I thought I saw something but wasn't positive until I made a little bit of noise.
Immediately, I was rewarded with three tiny mouths waiting for Jenny Wren to return with something for their tummies. Sweet little peeps filled the air as they let her know that they were still hungry.

I didn't want to keep Jenny from her babies, so I retreated to the house. It didn't take long for her to fly back to the nest, feed the little ones and then head out again in search of more food.
Mama's work is never done. I'll leave them alone for a few days and see how long it takes before they start to explore. Then, I'll be back with my camera to share more photos with you.
I also have a great idea for the Summertime quilt. I thought I was finished, but I was wrong. I'm going to add one more border, but it's going to have something fabulous added. I'm hoping to finish it completely by mid-week and then I'll take it over to Kathy.

I'm going to be creating a pattern for the Summertime quilt, which will be available in my etsy shop as soon as it's finished. Don't worry. I'll be sure to let you know when it's ready so you can make your own Summertime quilt!
I'm off with my girlfriend, Krisann, for lunch and a little quilt shop pillaging. She hasn't been to Kathy and Nora's shop yet, so I just have to take her over to see their great fabric selections.

I hope you have something fun planned this week. Nothing like a little time spent creating, or making time for friends. I'll be starting with "girl time". See you tomorrow!

May 21, 2011

Sunday Scripture...

"For it is by grace you have been saved, by faith -
and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God."
-Ephesians 2:8

May 20, 2011

Friday Night Photos...

Yesterday was a beautiful day in south Florida. It was warm, but there was a nice breeze and the sun was shining.

Before we left home for our Friday night date night, I asked Handsome to take a photo of me with my ol' girl, Kes. She doesn't much care for having her picture taken anymore. You can understand...She's greying around the edges, has rounded out a bit, her legs aren't what they used to be - and here our description diverges - she has a few teeth missing!
Like her Uncle Bannor (see photo at the bottom of my right sidebar), she couldn't resist giving Mom a little smooch...
but at her advanced age, believe me, it's not all puppy kisses anymore. I love her just as much as always, but at thirteen and a half years old, it's more "old dog breath" than "puppy breath". (Handsome never misses the funny shots!)

Old dogs are always such sweethearts, and she's no exception. She also has her stodgy, crotchety old girls moments, but either way, I'm so fortunate that we still have her in our lives.
I think I've mentioned that I started growing out my hair last October. I've worn my previously short crop for about nine years and was ready for a change. I thought I'd give y'all a closeup of how I look now...naturally curly hair and all. I'm working on getting it longer, but we'll see how that goes over the summer. My hair is so thick, I tell my girlfriend that it's like wearing a wool cap in hot weather! Plus, I can always cut it short again in the fall if I get tired of taking care of it, right?
Might as well show you the back while we're at it. After taking these photographs, off we went for a nice dinner together and a relaxing evening. A wonderful start to our weekend. I'm finishing my Summertime quilt top today, and who knows where my muse will carry me from there.

I hope that whatever you do today and tomorrow brings you joy. Hug someone you love, and share a smile with a stranger. It can make the world of difference to someone without one.

May 18, 2011

A Feeling Of Accomplishment...

I spent yesterday in the studio, thoroughly engrossed in the process of assembling the blocks for my Summertime quilt. Every cut mattered, and if I cut a square the wrong direction (which I did when my mind slipped from time to time) I rendered it useless for this project and had to put it off to the side. "Concentration" was the word of the day, but I really made progress.

After the blocks were assembled, I cut 2" wide strips for sashing. I love the soft green swirls that remind me of watermelon rinds. Don't you think it fits in perfectly for my theme?
The green shows up a little "yellower" on my screen, so I'll assume it might on yours, too. The color works really well with the actual blocks and I promise to take a photo outside in daylight when it's all finished.
I'm posting this photo again so that you can see what the inspiration from Rebecca Barker's postcard looked like. I think I've managed to stay pretty true the original as I created this quilt without a pattern. I'd be lyin' if I said I didn't waste a little fabric in the process of calculating and assembling the blocks!
I ended the day with all the sashing completed. Next, I'll add a border or two and then it will be on its way to Kathy for quilting. I have to get in line for her services (she's got room in her schedule for me the end of June), so you won't see my Summertime quilt again until I bind it and it's all finished.

Tomorrow is Silent Friday in honor of Fezzik, so I'll catch up with you on Saturday. I'll be working on my crocheted sweater, so perhaps I'll have some progress to share with you then. Happy creating!

May 17, 2011

You're Invited...

to a Wedding Blog Party! My friend, Stephanie of Angelic Accents is hosting her annual Wedding Blog Party on June 10th, and I've accepted her invitation to participate. How could I refuse? Doesn't everyone love a wedding?

Stephanie invited me to participate after reading my post about the Royal wedding yesterday. I'm so glad she did, because I can think of a few different ideas for my post already.
Rather than having me explain how you can participate, click here to read all about it in Stephanie's own words. Personally, I'm looking forward to sharing something romantic with you, and, I'd like to invite you to participate, too!
You'll see this sweet button on my sidebar to remind you of the date. You don't even have to mark your calendars! I can hear the music already, can't you? (dum dum dee dum...)