Saturday, May 28, 2011

and birds again

With all the focus on our domestic and wild feathered friends, it came to me that I've loved birds all my life. When I was just 5, my playmate down the block brought me a parakeet from a family trip to Florida. That bird became the first of many parakeets or canaries in our home while I was growing up. And even after I married my parents were so into having a bird in the house that they continued the tradition. My maiden name was Frank. I named my bird Frankie. Every bird after, male or female, parakeet or canary was Frankie.
I walked around the house this morning noting the bird related "stuff" I have gathered in this nest of mine.
Below are just a few examples.
Though the light is not really good this morning for taking a realistic photo of this glass piece, you get the idea. I'm not sure which window it will end up in, for now it's just perched on the west living room frame.
Here is a shot of one corner in our kitchen. I stenciled the crows onto this diminutive shade a few years back. The ceramic crows are from a quilt show. I do have a fondness for crows. I know some folks think they're a noisy nuisance, but not me.

This fabric panel is pinned to the corkboard in my sewing room. It's cut from a line of fabric called Blackbird Village  by Kathy Schmitz for Moda. The prints in the collection combine quilt block designs and primitive flowers as well.

More crows frolic in this pattern I chose to use for a wool applique using some of the wool pieces I have been collecting at quilt shops wherever I go. I'm itching to get started now that I have my sewing room back in place following the completion of our doors installation this week.

Below are a few shots of my curio shelf in the dining room, now displaying a spring theme.

At the Fresh Air Art Tour  along the Mississippi earlier this month I couldn't resist purchasing this stoneware strainer. It was made by a husband and wife team Judy and Larry (Thor) Thoreson) in their studio Gills Rock Stoneware in Ellison Bay, Wisconsin, Door County. They were among a handful of potters showing their work together. I learned they had been students together at Luther College and get together a couple times of year to visit and sell their work as a group. Fun. And I adore Chicadees.
Of course I added a wee quilted bird, just 2 inches square, to the stitched postcard exchange in March.

From my collection,  a few cross stitched birds, finished and in process.

Birds in the bathroom:

and hanging from the knob on my china cabinet:

This charming "coot", a house gift from my husband's mentor Robert Noehren and his wife Eloise 34 years ago. (The link is an article from the journal Jerome edits.)

And here lastly is a shot of the pattern I've decided for some of my international half square triangles. It is called Tree of Life Wallhanging from Edyta Sitar's book Friendship Triangles. It contains just a couple birds and will be my first appliqued quilt. The link is to her shop in Michigan.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

more birds

If you've been reading my blog since its early days, you know how much I've enjoyed feeding and watching our wild birds this past winter. I had put my feeders away, both because of our door installation project and because I felt there was plenty of food for the wild birds out and about now that it's spring. 
While Phil was visiting earlier this month he introduced us to a family he knows through teaching at Loyola. The daughter, Judy, still teaches with Phil and was up here to hunt turkey. Her parents Paul and Bernadette, have retired and built a home on land they bought years ago a few minutes drive from here along one of the branches of the Kickapoo River. Paul and Bernadette are retired biology teachers, each formerly the science department chairperson of their respective schools. There new house is built on the top of a slope with a marvelous view in front and the back looking up the ridge. Outside the back windows are several bird feeders which were being heavily visited while we were there. I saw my first Oriole that evening and many hummingbirds. That encouraged me to put out my hummingbird feeders and to refill the thistle seed feeder so I could watch the goldfinches again. This time right outside the living room windows in the front of the house where they'd be shaded from the hot sun. The feeders hadn't been out but minutes when the first Oriole appeared! Of course I had to run to Nelson's and buy an Oriole feeder (which is not in any of the following photos.)
We are delightfully surrounded by birds, as you can see, and not just our domesticated babies.
Here are a few:

                                                                 Indigo Bunting

                                                            Ruby Throated Hummingbird

                                                               Rose Breasted Grosbeak

We've got a nest in our potting shed with 4 robin babies. There are swallows nesting in a bluebird box in our meadow. There is a Redwing blackbird nest in the meadow with 5 eggs, so far, in a gooseberry or current bush very near the ground. At night we hear owls. Yesterday 3 Turkey vultures were performing their important duty cleaning up a roadkill raccoon on our road. It's not at all uncommon to see hawks and eagles. I took this photo while Anne was gone in April. She thinks it may be a young eagle.
It was sitting on top of our Purple Martin house. What does it look like to you?
And these are just the birds we've been prepared to catch with our cameras. There are so many others we see and hear regularly: bluebirds, jays, cardinals, catbirds, crows, of course the goldfinches, and more and more.  They've provided us with song and good company while we've been working away on the orchard, the vegetable and flower beds. I am grateful for every one of them.

chicks and ducklings

On Monday we got the call from the post office letting us know the chicks were here. Another impossible dream coming true for me. Take a peak at Anne's blog and you'll be able to read more about their homecoming and settling in.
I find it hard to comprehend that such perfect little beings have already put up the struggle of their lives to break out of their shells and are now doing what they need to survive and with such chirpy enthusiasm. They're getting more comfortable with our handling, though we must seem like fearful giants to them. It is our goal to handle them all and speak to them regularly so they trust us and enjoy our company.

This photo represents each of our breeds including our little gift bird, perhaps a Silver Polish. (S)he is peaking out over the shoulder of the dark chick on the left.

Here (s)he is in closeup. This little one was sent straight run, which means it wasn't sexed before shipment. We'll have to wait and see if we have another rooster on our hands or if we'll have another layer.
I'm happy to say all 28 of them have comfortably spent the past 48 hours with us, and as unbelievable as it may seem, are already growing. Certainly their feathers are developing.

This morning our 3 Indian Runner ducks have arrived and they couldn't be cuter. After having their bills tipped into their waterer, they each caught on quickly to drinking. Eating was another matter, as they took their time trying just about everything else before discovering their food. They've got the hang of it now and the last time I checked on them they were looking like the babies they are, ready for a nap. They've had a full day already, traveling, learning to drink, eat, and being handled "just a bit" by their two new moms.

It's raining steadily and very chilly today, giving us good reason to stay indoors and lots of opportunity for chick and duckling time. As if we need an excuse!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

up from the basement

Our tiny seedlings have done pretty well under the lights we set up in the basement, considering that it is never above 60 degrees down there.

Now they are almost 6 weeks old, have been thinned and fertilized and are ready to come up into natural light. Anne and I each had a mini greenhouse that we used at our city houses. And I have a lovely bakers rack to put into service as well. Fortunately, Anne also had an additional plastic covering which works well over the bakers rack. We did tie the light-weight greenhouses to the railing, as our winds are mighty up here on the ridge.

I put a burlap tent over the greenhouses to limit the amount of direct sun. We'll expose them a bit more each day. We've been closing the greenhouses at night and only opening them for a few hours each day. But today's temperature shot up to 87 degrees and we didn't want to cook the poor babies. Imagine, one week ago today it was snowing here!
Things are happening almost too fast now. I hope I can stop and make at least short posts both to help me remember and to share all the goodness with Jerome.  Anne is taking lots of photos and she has a marvelous way of saying things in words and images. To get an even better idea of what we're up to check her out as well.

Monday, May 9, 2011

a magic day

Have you ever had a day that just kept getting better and better?
I had been in the city on Wednesday and Thursday surprising Jerome for his birthday and had seen my son Phillip while I was there. In my mind I had my Mothers Day time with him then. I returned late Thursday after cramming countless activities into the 32 hours I was gone from the farm. I was exhausted and emotionally drained.
On Friday I got up early to straighten the house and prepare for Anne's return to the farm after a 3 week trip back to her home, husband, and gardens  in Ohio. Friday morning had dawned sunny and mild, the first such lovely day in a long while. Anne arrived in late morning with her Siberian Huskey, Holden, and her canary, Bertram. Holden had been at the farm all last autumn, so it was a homecoming for him. Having the animals here is sweetness. Dovey of course is getting adjusted to no longer being an only child, and spends quite a bit of time sitting on the narrow ledge at the top of the stairs watching the most interesting new arrival.

Once her car was unpacked, Anne and I took a long walk around the farm and across the road to the acreage we have rights to use. We spotted some lovely wild flowers blooming, hundreds of strawberry plants and noted all the berry bushes showing signs of spring. It felt so lovely to be out in the mild air and see spring all around us. It had been full spring in Ohio and Illinois but still sleepy early spring in Wisconsin. We had to look very closely to spot all the new growing things emerging every where, but where ever we looked we saw more and kept saying to each other "Oh look at this!"
As we stepped back into the house I spotted a familiar car painted with flowers and the name The Flower Basket pull into the driveway. Jerome had sent me flowers for Mothers Day. By now I'm on a first name basis with the owner Al and head designer, Susan,  since Jerome has spoiled me with flowers several times since my settling in here without him. Susan told me she just loves chatting with my husband about what she can put together for me with his love.
I immediately called Jerome and thanked him, tears still in my eyes. I said something like "So many special things have happened today and it's only lunch time!" He chuckled, gave me his love and said we'd talk again later.
After lunch the mail arrived bringing Anne a marvelous package from Scotland and me an order of books from Amazon. What a day this was turning out to be! Within moments the back door opened and in walked my son saying "Have you got room for one more?" You could have knocked me over.
Of course I had to call Jerome again and he told me he had to bite his tongue not to give the surprise away when I called about the flowers. And Anne knew about both and hadn't let on in any way.
Later, while Phil was out seeing about a fishing event and Anne and I sat down to play our first hand of Quiddler since her return, I beat her stunningly. I laughed and told her that with the magic day I was having there was no way she could have won the game!
All of this grace pouring abundantly into me, I am still overwhelmed and full of gratitude. There have been so many lonely times and some aching doubts and sadness at the enormity of what I'm attempting. And then a magic day comes and creation is wrapping me in its embrace and saying "Yes."  Oh, yes.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Happy anniversary Mya and Dovey

My new banner is a photo collage of what I've been up to in April. Yesterday, feeling a bit sorry for myself,  and wondering just what I've gotten accomplished lately, I decided to look back on the month via photos I've taken. Beginning with the snow on April fool's day, ending with the bread from my class yesterday, I see I really have gotten some things done in the past 30 days. (The crow applique is one of the quilts we saw at the show in Sun Prairie. I have a thing for crows and bought a pattern to adapt to wool applique. Hope to get to that one of these days.) Though I still pine after all I did not do, I can now easily see what I have done. Sorry I've been absent from this post so long. I'll try to be better in the days ahead.

One year ago today I brought Mya and Dovey home to spend their lives with us. They were being housed at ADOPT in Naperville, Illinois, a no kill animal shelter recommended to us by Phil's friends Chrissy and Jeff. We are ever grateful, as our lives have been deeply enriched and we cannot imagine life without them. I believe it is their company that truly makes this separation from each other at all possible for Jerome and me.
Here are photos of my two sweet girls, taken within a couple of days of their arrival with us.

Mya, pictured first, is the deep souled cat, thoughtful and patient. She has a habit of looking right into you keeping eye contact until you look away.
Dovey, the scamp, is a big personality. She is NOT patient and is quick to jump into whatever it is you're doing. Life is one great adventure for Dovey.
While they were new to our home, it was especially good for Mya to have Dovey as a big sister to learn from, though Mya is actually 2 months older. I have often observed her studying then copying Dovey's activities. Extremely timid and not a cat to make friends quickly if at all,  Mya really did have her way eased by Dovey's presence.

From the very beginning, Dovey liked being where the action is. And that usually meant wherever I was. And little Mya would tag along, watch and learn. Here they are watching through the screen porch window while I worked in the garden. Looking out the windows side by side continues to be one of their favorite activities when they are together.
Dovey is back at the farm with me after her vacation to the city house for 6 weeks while we were having work done on the farmhouse. Though I have worried about splitting them up, they do seem to enjoy each focusing their attention on just one of us and then enjoying brief and temporary times of being with each other whenever I go to the city. And since Dovey travels in the car well, I see lots of road trips in our future.
Well, it is May. April 2011 has been the coldest, greyest April in 70 years. I'm glad it wasn't just that I'm a bit of a whimp. There was a real reason behind the grey feelings. 
Now on to spring!