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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

I’ve worked some on my Jelly Roll baby quilt and completed all of the blocks.  It turns out there are enough blocks to make two baby quilts.  I sort of thought that would happen.  I spent some time laying them out in what I hope will be a good arrangement, and got one set all pieced together.

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I bought peach colored fabric for borders and backing, but I’m not sure how it will look.  It was tough to figure out what would go with the fabrics in the roll until it was undone.  I’ll try the first quilt with the peach, see how I like it and whether I have enough for the second quilt before I decide whether to do that one the same.  I think I’ll be doing simply straight line and diagonal quilting on this, since I want to machine quilt it, but don’t feel confident yet with free motion quilting.  Straight line should work well with this design.

John and I visited the Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park in Scotland Neck, NC today.  Pretty interesting place.  I couldn’t get many good pictures because it was around noon and a lot of the birds/ducks were asleep, or were behind fences or cages.  But we saw some really beautiful birds and ducks, anyway. 

I had a great conversation with a beautiful toucan who tried to lure me into sticking my finger into his cage.  He got upset when I walked away, and when I went back he entertained me by showing me his beautiful beak and eyes up close and demonstrating how he could pick up bits of fruit and toss them down his throat.  Sadly, I couldn’t get a good picture with the cage in the middle.

I did get this picture of a Hawaiian Goose — I really like the coloring and design on this creature’s feathers as you look down on them.

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And this guy looked so wise.  I don’t recall what kind of bird he is. I don’t even know if it was a guy, but anyway.

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And finally, a couple of plant pics:  Caladium and Bougainvillea, one of my favorite flowers.

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Last night I completed another section on the snail trail:

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I really like this pattern (on the left) that is another from the selection of blackwork fill-in patterns I’ve been using.  Now I’ll be filling in the other two sections to mirror these.  I’ll need to complete one section a day to finish this piece by the end of the month.

Yesterday we walked the Dutch Gap Conservation Area Trail at the site of the 1611 settlement of Henricus.  There’s an historical interpretation center there, but it’s closed on Mondays so we didn’t visit that part of the park.  We were there mainly to walk and enjoy the outdoors anyway.

This park is along a portion of the James River where two loops of the river were bypassed by a canal dug by Union troops during the Civil War.

There are hiking and biking trails as well as a water trail that can be traveled by canoe or kayak.  

Here are some pictures I took:

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All along the walk we were surrounded by butterflies and dragonflies.  We were serenaded by birds all around.  The dragonflies were in a myriad of colors:  blue, bright green, black and white, red-orange, glistening gold.

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The park is a wildfowl refuge and includes a heron rookery.  We saw several great blue herons and egrets.  There are also many kinds of warblers in the park.  Although we didn’t see any we definitely heard them. 

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Mishka, who can keep up with us on mountain bikes in New Mexico, wilted in the Virginia heat and humidity over the 4.5 mile walk.  She wanted to slow down and rest in the shade whenever she could.

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Near the end of the walk we spotted this amazing sculptural tree trunk.  There are leaves and branches at the very top, forest canopy height.  The trunk looks large enough to make comfortable seating for one or two. 

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Although the weather was quite warm and humid, it was a great walk with some beautiful sites. It would be fun to return and do the water trail and visit the historical site.  

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Traveling along the snail trail I’ve moved into the next round of sections with a pomegranate blackwork pattern from

Fill-in Patterns from Sixteenth Century Blackwork Embroideries.

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If you squint your eyes you can see the swirl, especially in the darker colors.

My goal of making a post each day on this piece is sometimes hard to meet, but is a really good way of staying “on track,” especially as the sections get larger and more complex. 

I continue to like this piece more as I go along.  I’m planning to make it into a pillow top inset into some sage green linen, if I can find it. 

Today we’re going to walk the trail at the Dutch Gap Conservation Area which is considered by the Audobon Society to be one of the top birding sites in Virginia.  ‘Hope we see some birds, although we don’t have our guide book with us, so we won’t be able to do much identification.  There’s a heron rookery there, so maybe we’ll see some of those majestic birds.   

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One more round is completed on the snail trail.

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Yesterday we did some driving around the area.  We were on some back roads south of Petersburg and found this water area.  We weren’t able to find the name of it–don’t know if it is swamp, pond, or river–but we were amazed at the thousands of blossoming pink and white water lilies.

I took some pictures across the water and a few close ups of the water flowers near the road.  I wish I could have gotten across the water to see this mass of flowers close up.

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We also drove a short distance into North Carolina and had lunch at a lovely tea room called Timeless Tea in Roanoke Rapids.  It’s a really neat place divided into separate tea rooms, including a princess tea room especially for little girls and a tea for two room.  We’ll definitely be going back there.

We also found the Roanoke Canal Trail along the Roanoke River.  There’s a very nice museum that details the lock system that used to be used to move goods up and down the river.  We didn’t have time to explore the museum and trail yesterday, but will as soon as we can.  It’s an eight mile long trail than can be walked or cycled.  Roanoke Rapids is about twenty minutes from Emporia.   

Our third stop was The Woolery in Mufreesboro, NC.  It’s known as one of the best sources in the country for spinning and weaving materials and tools.  Sadly, I forgot to check the hours.  They are only open a few Saturdays and this was not one of them.  Another place to return to.  I did peek in the windows and saw lots of great things.   

That also means I didn’t get the needles to start my shawl.  I’ll be checking out the Yarn Lounge in Richmond this afternoon.

‘Went out for my first bicycle ride in VA since our return, this morning and was amazed how much easier it was.  Elevation really does make a difference. 

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Here’s a picture of a pretty little knitted gift bag my Taos knitting friend, Laura, gave me.  Tucked inside was a safety pin full of pearl and bead stitchmarkers.  I’ll be reminded of her every time I use them.

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Laura is the one who “founded” our knitting group that has become so close-knit (pun intended) over the past five months.  It’s hard to believe we’ve been meeting such a short time, because we’ve all become fast friends.  I will really miss them when I’m in Virginia, but I know that whenever I come back for visits they’ll be there on Wednesday nights.

Yesterday John, Mishka, and I went for a four mile mountain bike ride on a new trail.  It’s actually a short forest road off of a tight curve of hwy 64 as it heads up the mountain towards Angel Fire.

What a gorgeous place.  The road had only a few really technical spots for riding and it was bordered by a meandering creek and lush green grass.  Mishka was in the creek right out of the truck.  I don’t know how she knew it was there, but she was in it.

While we road she ran in and out of the creek, and the grass, and ran up the hill on the other side of the road, chasing who knows what.

At the end of the road was a pond surrounded by aspen and another track where we left our bikes and walked for a bit.

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We found patches of wild iris all over the area.

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In one place they were blithely taking over the human-made road.

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Coming down the hill we rode about 10 to 12 mph and Mishka kept up the whole way.  After her running, sprinting, and generally nosing about, she was filthy and pretty tired.

When we got home, she laid down by my sewing chair while I worked on a new project.

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Here’s a teaser.  I’ll post more tomorrow.

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In spite of the high winds we’ve had in Taos lately, I’ve been able to get in a little knitting in the garden.  Our garden walls block some of the wind, and the light is wonderful for seeing small stitches and true colors of yarn.

I’ve gotten to the heel flap on the first of the socks I’m making for John with Interlacements Tiny Toes yarn, but my camera battery conked out before I could get a picture this morning.  I’ll have more finished to show tomorrow, anyway.

I’m also making progress on my Branching Out alpaca lace scarf.  The perfect project for garden knitting.

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Next to one of my garden sitting and knitting spots our first iris of the season has opened up and it’s gorgeous.

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We haven’t known what color any of our iris are since they were put in a year ago in April, and by the time we arrived in June they were already finished blooming.  So we’re having fun guessing what colors we have this year.  We have only a week left, so I’m hoping more will open before we have to head back to Virginia.

This morning a Ravelry knitter from Lawrenceville, about 18 miles from Emporia, contacted me, so I know I now have at least one knitting friend ready and waiting for me when I get there.  WhoooHooo for Ravelry!

We’re off this morning to explore a new mountain bike trail.

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Early Wildflowers

I was surprised once again to find a number of early wildflowers on our walk along the Rito de la Olla yesterday.  I thought that at this elevation wildflowers would not be out until much later in the year, but there are a few hardy ones that start blossoming early.

I’ve used my Audubon wildflower guide to try to identify the ones we saw yesterday.

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I’m pretty sure this is spreading fleabane.  This flower apparently grows in a variety of colors, but we only saw these white ones–lots of them.  What’s distinctive about these daisy-like flowers is that the petals do not overlap, even though that’s hard to tell in the photo.  The flowers are less than an inch in diameter.

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I’m stumped on this one.  I saw only one small example of this wildflower and can’t tell from the pictures and descriptions in my book whether it’s Rough Menodora or Yellow Cryptantha, or neither.  I’m leaning toward the latter because of the leaves, but the blossoms look more like the former.  I’ll have to take the book with me next time and hope to find some more.

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We saw only one example of this one, as well, and it looked as though the blossoms were finished or wilted.  ‘Can’t tell what they look like opened up.  Again, I’m not sure of the identification.  It could be a Southwestern Thorn Apple, but I’m not sure of the leaves or flower.  The guide says the flowers are “generally withered by early morning” which these surely were. 

If the identification is correct, this is a member of the nightshade family and its extracts are highly narcotic, even lethal.  Extracts from this family once were important in religious ceremonies of southwest Indians. 

This is another one I’ll have to try to get a second look at.

I didn’t have much time for creative work yesterday as I spent a few hours writing some professional papers I needed to complete.  But I have made good progress on my Monkey socks and should be able to show them soon. 

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