Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pet Photos

I spent most of yesterday organizing and uploading photos from 2010. In the past, I have done a good job of keeping up with this task throughout the year. This year, I left it all for the end. Let's just say that I've learned my lesson. Going backwards through the year, I'm only on June. Yikes!

One of the silver linings in my procrastination, however, is that I'm seeing the full sweep of the year at year's end. I forgot about some of the items I sewed, quilted, or knitted-- until I saw the photos I took (time to update my Ravelry page)! Several themes have emerged-- butterflies and the flowers that sustain them, leaves (always leaves), pets, education projects, documentation of creative projects such as sewing and knitting, and of course, family/friends.

Today, I share some of my recent pet photos. The first photo is Bailey in his ever-present and ever-graceful bow. When we pull in the driveway, I see him rising from his window spot-- bowing. He meets us at the back door with his happy face and tail.

The second photo shows a quiet moment between all three pets-- seeking the sunlight streaming through the windows.

In the third photo, Conn is in the Christmas tree. He climbs it at least twice a day, knocks off at least two ornaments, messes up the light arrangement, and breaks a few limbs. Good thing I love him to death. Good thing the tree has a stable base.

Last, Rowan was ill on Christmas Eve. Because we had switched the cats' food, she had been quietly losing weight-- a lot of weight-- because she was so stubborn she refused to eat. Willpower. Sheer willpower. After a few days of the old food, meds from the vet, and some special canned food, she recovered. Here, Conn is comforting her. So sweet.

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Visitors

After making so many bird ornaments in the last month (with more still to go), I decided to do some real birding since we no longer have outside cats. It's my first new year resolution.

On Christmas Eve, the children and I made 6 pine cone bird-feeders. Our dog longed for a spoonful of peanut butter, and the squirrels quickly discovered and devoured the leftover seeds on the sidewalk. They also managed to escape with three of the pine cones (I caught one red-handed as he ran off along the top of the fence). Three feeders are left in the remains of the butterfly bushes.

Using our new chalkboard place mats, I made a list of the birds and squirrels we've seen so far today. Bird book in hand, I'm hoping to get better at distinguishing sparrows.

Shhh. . . add a Towhee to the list. . .

Merry Christmas.

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Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Crafting

Thank goodness for twelve days of Christmas-- I'm going to need all of them. My dining room table still looks like the first photo. I'll clean it off for tomorrow, but I still have plans for more sewing of Christmas gifts. I've sent out about 40 or so felt bird ornaments into the world with a few more to hatch tonight.

Peace to all this Christmas Eve.

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Solstice Sunflower

On this solstice day, I present my daughter's sunflower and sky blanket. I started it with the advent of this blog several years ago. You can see its beginnings on my first post if you scroll down to the very bottom. I had just turned forty years old and had just finished my son's rainbow blanket. While I didn't work on it constantly (many other sewing and knitting projects intervened), it was a constant companion throughout many days and nights. With its completion, I'm busy sewing gifts for Christmas and other celebrations.

Solstice greetings!

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Saturday, November 27, 2010


Today is the last day of our visit with my sister's family. We took a walk in the woods. I will be sad to see them go back home.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Napkins

Yesterday afternoon (cutting it close), I finished a new set of fall napkins for our Thanksgiving table. I'm pleased with them as I've wanted some fall napkins for several years. I also cut out the fabric for a dress which I hope to sew today in between preparing the Thanksgiving sides. Ambitious? Yes. Thanks to my brother-in-law, the smoked turkey is already done. We also spent the day playing and talking with family, and my sister and I prepared a five- dish Indian meal-- probably more time consuming than our Thanksgiving preparations.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Owl Sighting

We were playing a family game of Harry Potter Clue last night when our neighbors rang the doorbell to tell us that an owl was on some lines outside of our house. It was a barred owl, and it let our neighbor shine a flashlight in its eyes and let me flash lights with my camera. Four adults and four children stood in the middle of the street in front of our house and looked up in amazement. The owl probably has a home in our neighborhood in a hollow tree or abandoned crow's nest. It may be responsible for the intestines our neighbor found in his yard a few days before. After about five minutes, it flew away across the street and out of view into some pine trees.

After doing a little research about the barred owl and downloading my photos, we returned to our game of Clue to rule out the owlery as the crime scene. The intersection of this feathered messenger with our Saturday night, however, was as bewitching as the world of wizards and magical creatures in our Harry Potter infused imaginations.

Wait-- a letter!

Courtesy of Charlie Deaton.

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

October's End

The above photos were taken by my daughter for a visual arts project at school around the theme of "together we can." She visited my after-school knitting club and tried to capture how learning to knit often involves one-on-one instruction-- sometimes with "teaching hands" and "learning hands" wrapped up together with yarn and needles. This knitting club has been one of the bright spots of my October.

October also brought several challenges. This entire school year has been a rocky ride that has eaten up what used to be little bits of free time. I used to blog several times a week! Lately, I only seem to manage a few posts per month.

All of October's challenges, however, were not daunting. Some of the pleasant opportunities were:
  • Taking a weekend trip to Birmingham for the Writing and Illustrating for Kids conference of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (Sarah Campbell, a writing buddy and fellow traveler from Jackson, wrote a wonderful description of the conference here;
  • Learning how to cook Chicken Tikka Masala, Baighan Bartha, Naan, and Aloo Gobi Masala with some good friends;
  • Reading Any Which Wall by Laurel Snyder with my daughter and thinking about "common magic;"
  • Watching both of my children participate and progress in their Tae-Kwan-Do classes;
  • Reveling in rain after a long time without.
With less than three days left in this month, I'm anticipating:
  • Enjoying cooler, more fall-like temperatures;
  • Carving two, large pumpkins and three, small pumpkins to welcome hallowed haints and saints;
  • Strolling through the neighborhood in search of fall colors peeking out here and there.

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Giant Swallowtail

This Giant Swallowtail visited our backyard, butterfly habitat today. I spent an hour hunting down information on the internet to identify it. For a while, I thought it might be a Thoas Swallowtail, but its range is South America through Texas (only sometimes in Oklahoma and Kansas), so that didn't sound right. This set of photographs helped me correctly identify it as a Giant Swallowtail (I LOVE the internet). The difference is the number of spots on the trailing edge of the forewings. Thoas has 4 marginal spots on the trailing edge of the forewing; whereas the Giant has only 3.

Can you count the spots on the separated wings in the enlarged photo below? You can also see some damage to its left forewing.

This butterfly did not want me too close. In fact, it flew away over the fence twice while I was trying to photograph it. If I had not been able to zoom in on my photos, I probably could not have identified it. I hope it returns this afternoon. We see Eastern Tiger Swallowtails in our back yard every so often, but this is the first Giant Swallowtail.

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Sleeping Bees

One evening last week, I went outside to gather some flowers from our overgrown, butterfly garden to bring inside. We had not had rain in a while along with record breaking high temperatures, and the plants were showing their weariness. I wanted to save a few before they all dried up. (Thankfully, we now have some cooler temperatures to give us a hint of autumn).

Did you know that bumblebees sleep on flowers during the night-- like little black and golden fairies? I counted and photographed at least 11 bees that I could see around the perimeter of the garden. I turned to the computer to do some research and discovered that male bumblebees indeed sleep on flowers -- especially late in the season when the temperatures begin to drop at night and when female bees refuse to let them back into their underground nests. Apparently, they are no longer needed for making baby bumblebees. Poor things. They attach themselves to flowers and hang out all night until the sun shines on their backs to warm them up for another day of pollen gathering. In our garden they preferred the lantana, flowering basil, and butterfly bush flowers for beds.

How could I live for almost 42 years and not know this?

Once inside, the bunch of flowers (lantana, zinnias, and some mysterious plant that the nursery told me was milkweed but that I have doubts about) quickly became the center of attention for curious cats. They smelled, rubbed, and chewed on the flowers until I moved the mason jar vase to higher ground. Those cats!

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