rocket tracking


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Beautiful Surprises

It's been a busy week at Casa Quintana. My sister-in-law from Montana was visiting her relatives in Dayton and spent some time with us. My daughter got a horrible case of tonsilitis and things just didn't go when and where they were supposed to.

The garden is popping out all over the place, even though we were hit by a 1 1/2 - 2" layer of snow on Friday. That's ok...most of the peach/cherry/apple blossoms aren't far enough along to be damaged I don't think.

I took these pictures last Friday....the last day I had to work in the garden before being deluged with other distractions. Above is a bunch of common milkweed pods I found at the back of the garden. I gathered these as one of my friends wants to start a patch on her property to provide food for Monarch butterflies which prefer it. The fluffy fibers, meant to provide a parachute for the seeds to travel with, provide nesting material for goldfinches, one of my favorite birds and extremely common in my yard.

I was dumbfounded to find this iris blooming away, even before the Dutch crocus were in full bloom. Situated on the eastern side of my back yard garden, well away from any structure, I didn't think to find even the earliest of iris in bloom. This is a complete surprise to me as I don't remember planting it and I have no idea what it is. Perhaps some of your savvy gardening types can help me out.

The thin leaves, and the tall crests make me think that this is a Dutch iris....I am a tad flummoxed. It is quite possible that it is a mystery plant purchased at Spring Hill Gardens clearance sales....I'm forever haunting it and dragging home all sorts of roots, rhyzomes, seeds and half dead plants from that place. Sometimes I feel like I am a wise woman from ages gone by as I carefully gather all the rejects--bits and pieces of wizened plants and carefully put them in the ground.

The dark maroon sort of colored leaves are the leaves of Dianthus barbatus "sooty"--Sweet William. I love sweet william and sooty has dark leaves and lovely deep maroon blossoms. I don't remember if it has the sweet scent of some of the older strains, but it seeds itself in which is a good thing as it is a short lived biennial. Well worth growing in your garden. Growing it from seed is easy.

One of the other happy surprises I relieved is a Beautiful Blogger award from Ruth Anne . I am terribly embarrassed to say that I had been nominated for an award by Jessica back in November I think... I wasn't really clued in and while I meant to participate...especially because I loved the signage for it...I never got around to doing it. So, thanks, Ruth Anne...and thank you too Jessica, even if I am really late and didn't really participate (blush).

Some people I know don't like these things. I think they are sort of neat as you get to explore blogs you might not find otherwise. I do look at the blogs my followers follow and often I stumble upon some real beauties. Having the blog awards are not so much "me, me, me" as Jessica once described them, but a way to explore and find joy elsewhere. Basically, if you don't like them, then you don't have to follow them.

The rules (golly, there are always rules aren't there????)
Here are the rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 5 bloggers who you have recently discovered and you think are fantastic!
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

Seven things about me:

1. I'm left handed...but am semi-ambidextrous (I bat in cricket left-handed, I bat in baseball right handed for example....and I can't use left handed scissors.)

2. I am, unfortunately, a procrastinator....I think largely because I want to do the best I can do...not from perfection, but to do the best I think on it....yet sometimes I don't dive right in because I dread doing it......I'm working on it, but it isn't pretty.

3. Like Ruth Anne, I'm a collector of stuff....and I'm trying hard to de-clutter and simplify. Must be the age. ;)

4. I've had fish (tropical and goldfish) since I was 8 years old...yes, continuously although in college it was merely a goldfish in a bowl.

5. I love goldfish. I built my first pond (fiberglass molded and made by me) when I was 13. I dug another one when I lived in Connecticut when I was in my 30s. Fish from that pond moved down here with me and my neighbor Ellen helped me dig a bigger pond than the one I had in CT here...(GO WOMAN POWER!!!).

6. I am part elf...I have a pointed ear. Seriously. I've only met one other person who had this.

7. I adore learning--reading is a passion. I guess that means I'm not yet dead.

Hmm... now is the hard part. Bloggers:

1. Ok...this is sort of a cheat, because I know that she doesn't participate, but you need to take a look at her blog anyway, so go look at Ardea's Nest.

2. Not that she would ever participate in this....but if you want an unusual and sort of irreverent take on life (and this is my view of this blog) take a gander here at Life at Willow Manor. Way cool.

3. Now this is a cheat this isn't a "recent" find of a blog...this is one I've followed for a while as I've "known" Shady in the internet sense for...hmmm....about 8 years?

4. The same goes for Sunita...who has several blogs...check them out, but the Urban Gardener is probably the prettiest and the one she posts to the most. Chai n spice is also simply wonderful.

5. I found Carole's blog I think in November, so for me, it is a recent find.....and I have to say I have had several finds which compete for this one, but definitely this is one of the more recent. Carole is very upbeat in her blogs and is a quilter...and like most of us needlewomen who foray into the fiber art world has a wonderful eye for color, texture, form...and life!

Decisions, decisions....choosing was difficult, sharing is great fun!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Out of Ashes

The last weekend in February brought our annual Batty Binder's retreat. Each year, we haul our quilting supplies, more food than an army can eat (although we were MUCH better this year and had lots of healthy snacks), our bedding and various supplies to the local Girl Scout camp. There, we settle ourselves in for a weekend of sewing, talking, having fun, sharing, quilting...and general fun. About 25 of us were here this year and once again, it coincided with an area Quilt Shop-Hop.

I, however, had resolved to settle myself in and just quilt. No shopping for me as I have far too many yards to use up. Here, you can see Gwen working away. I loved that she has yellow quilting gloves which matched the piece she was working on almost perfectly.

Here, you can see some of our projects hanging behind us as we finished pieces. The two purple projects on each end (a stack and whack dahlia and a Turning-Twenty Simply Sashed) are both mine. The dahlia is going to be a gift for my mom and the turning-twenty is an Easter gift for my daughter--grandmother and grand-daughter share a favorite color.

While most of the weekend is usually full of lots of fun, we did have a pretty gut wrenching occurrence this time. One of our members, Debbie, has a "hobby farm"--in other words, the main source of income is from working off the farm. Debbie's husband wants to try to maintain the farm life. This means that Debbie is the one who provides most of the livestock care. She has pigs, chickens, cattle (primarily her daughter's 4-H projects) and sheep. I usually talk to her about the sheep as we used to raise them when I was growing up. Lambs and piglets are usually born in the first months of the year. I asked Debbie how things were going as I assumed lambing would be in full swing. She told me that she had a sow (mama pig) who had just given birth to 13 piglets (normal litters are about 6-9) but that one of them was stillborn and two died soon after birth. Evidently, the sow had been in labor for a couple of days but it wasn't obvious that she was, nor that she was in trouble.

The sow developed and infection and had to have antibiotics. The last week of February had been snowy, sleety and slippery. Debbie had fallen while going out to the barn to give the injection one night and as she has arthritis in one of her shoulders (at the ripe old age of about 50) she was afraid she wasn't going to get back up. I sympathized with her and with the fact that the piglets now needed special care.

At about 12:30 am (yes, A.M), Debbie got a horrifying call from her daughter who is the same age as mine. Their barn was on fire, and that's where the $750 calf for her daughter's 4-H project was along with other livestock. It was sleeting and we knew that there was black ice out. One of Debbie's friends drove her the hour back home. Meanwhile, we were all stunned and terrified for her. We were unsure if her husband was home. All I could think about was the barn fire I had witnessed as a child. In the country, obtaining water is often difficult and pumpers usually have to haul it to the location of the fire. In addition, volunteer fire departments can be at some distance from the farms. Barns are filled with highly flammable hay and straw and when animals are involved the consequences are horrifying.

I was worried about her daughter, because I knew that when I was 17, I would go into the fire to try to save the animals with no thought to any personal danger. We prayed. We were subdued. We waited. At about 2:00, Debbie called us. One third of the barn had burned, and they only lost one piglet. None of the other animals were injured. We all breathed a sigh of relief. Debbie then said "Tell Lisa that we now have six piglets staying in the bathtub." Because the temperatures were about freezing, they piglets had to be kept warm somehow. Debbie's solution was to take them inside and keep them in the bathtub.

I was worn out and said to one of the women, "Now piglets in a bathtub. That needs to have an art quilt." I then went to bed. At about 4:30, I awakened and heard the sound of a sewing machine running like crazy. I wondered about it, but went back to sleep. When I finally got up, I discovered that a group of these talented ladies had made Debbie a special quilt to remember this all by.
Here is the new little wall-hanging of the piggies in the tub. We goofed and put one too many in, so I put a halo around it which you can't see here. The curtain is actually a loose piece of fabric which sways out.

What's on the shelf?

But of course! Hog wash!

Several of the ladies stayed up all night to finish this in the hope that Debbie would come back to pick up her things. She didn't and so we are going to give her her present at our next meeting.

Here's Deb Neff who spearheaded it and stayed up the entire night. Never ever sit down and fall asleep in a chair when you are at a quilting retreat as you just might end up decorated.

Even if one has a "hobby farm", the loss of a barn and its contents sets one back quite a bit. Debbie had to find temporary homes for the livestock she couldn't squeeze in her other outbuildings. Rebuilding will take some time. We hope that maybe this fun little quilt will help take the sting out.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Back from the Land of the Lost

Wow. What a month. Just after my last post, I managed to get the dreaded "Windows XP 2010 Antivirus" virus. WHAT a nasty thing. A pop-up appears (how it got around my pop-up blocker I don't know), which LOOKS like it is from Microsoft. If you click ANYWHERE on the box (the "x", in the body, or on the "yes" or "no" boxes, it downloads an executable file which wreaks havoc on your computer. If you should get this, shut your computer down and run a malware check and you may be able to get it off...or you can restore to an earlier restoration date.

I have spend almost a month removing it, restoring files (and not all of them are back) and well as dealing with other stuff.... Now, to add insult to injury, my husband had forwarded me a warning from his workplace IT warning me about this in November....and I forgot it.

Also, at the end of February, I finished this little piece, "Take off your sandals for you are standing on holy ground." It really is little, only 12" square. I made a drawing of my daughter's feet and then painted it on cotton with acrylic paints. I appliqued it onto the background (a spring green) and then fused little slivers of green onto the surface for the grass. My daughter complained that I didn't actually use her nail polish color on the toenails....hers was a deep maroon....a little clashy I thought.

This particular piece is going to be on display at the Marianist Environmental Education Center's Gallery St. John in Dayton, OH. This is a mixed media show. The theme this year was "Sacred Ground."

I really had fun with this piece and realized once again how much I enjoy using painted elements in my quilting.