Thursday, August 30, 2012

Catch and Release

Everything is an ADVENTURE when you're wearing a helmet!

Nocturnal Salamanders that hide really well in the daytime make for fairly boring terrarium watching. At 3:00 a.m. the salamander I found in our wood pile clung to the side of the glass when I let Jax out so I tried taking a picture. Not a great effort but proof it was in there at one time!

You MUST feed your guest pets. Even if you can't see them. And even if it means getting off the bicycle you just learned to ride WITHOUT TRAINING WHEELS this week!  
We placed our trust in the internet and found a dozen worms, a few slugs and assorted creepy-crawly things near an old cement foundation. I thought it would be really cool to set up the old fish tank so Ben could see the 6 inch salamander I found the day before. We opened it several times and Aunt Laurie even braved moving rocks around hoping we would catch sight of it. It hid really well! But it was the best fed Salamander in town. Ben dumped the whole jar of bugs in before I had time to suggest perhaps just a few?

From the Michigan Department of Natural Resources website:
Blue-spotted Salamander (Ambystoma laterale)
"Most people would not consider hanging out under rotting wood feeding on a diet of spiders, centipedes, slugs and earthworms as their ideal lifestyle. The blue-spotted salamander believes it's just grand. This salamander found throughout Michigan is common in moist deciduous hardwood areas and swamp woodlands, preferably with access to vernal ponds. However, they often persist in drier, human disturbed second growth woodlands. Their diet includes insects, spiders, worms, and other small invertebrates.

Their coloration can vary but generally they are black with turquoise or pale blue flecks and spots on the sides, limbs, belly, and tail. The belly may be black or grayish black. Adults average about 3.5 to 5.5 inches (8.9 to 14 cm) long." *They seem to live in Maine, too.
Our guest has been released back into the wild. A little farther away from our wood pile. 
He was air-lifted out of the tank by a garden hoe, along with the little island oasis and all the bugs and worms that were left.
For the first time I could actually see his blue spots!
Picture of Jax by 5 year old Ben.
Her eyes may still be a little blood shot from being sprayed by a skunk last week. Tough way to celebrate your first birthday!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Grape Escape

Jax and I are still exhausted from chasing a 5 year old around all day. It was the first Aunt Laurie Day since getting Jax because we felt she was too untrained and possibly a danger to them with her mouthy biting and jumping.

By 9:30 she was let off leash to see how she would do. Turns out she's on the same 5 minute delayed-response as Ben and NEITHER of them listen to you if they don't feel like it.  "I do what I like!"

But they were inseparable!

Jax was perfectly happy shadowing him all day and soon discovered (no matter how many times told not to give her food) Ben was her new favorite FOOD DISPENSER.

She sat very close and prepared to wait for that little hand to send a grape her way...


and waited.

Finally success.

And then there were two.

One for you; one for me.


Then they were gone.

And so was he?

Edited to add: Did not know grapes were toxic to dogs until Steph & a couple of anonymous messages mentioned it. Luckily she only had 3 and seems to be fine. Good to know though!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Escape Through Stained Glass

Every quilt has a story . . .  THIS ONE has a doozy. :)
Quilt in a Day Month!
I started this stained glass version of a Stack & Slash quilt July 2nd.
My plan was to use Sharon Pederson's quilt-as-you-go method of construction.
It's my first attempt at anything bigger than a table runner quilting this way.
I enjoyed it and will look for other QAYG design ideas!

I made one of these quilts from a Clueless Quilter's Workshop years ago. That one I hand-quilted and gave to my sister-in-law. (She hugged it over and over, earning future quilt-gifting privileges!) This one was supposed to use up stash from my totes and only buy fabric as needed. So how did I manage to buy 11 yards by the time it was done? Let's just say it takes a lot of black to make the stained glass sashes! And 2 yards don't really count as I  grabbed fabric that looked perfectly black at the store, but when I got it home it looked like charcoal.

I lucked out with my first stack of 9 fabrics: slashed and re-stacked with no two fabrics in blocks together. As designed. Unfortunately my 2nd stack got shuffled wrong and EVERY block had two of the same fabrics in them.
I fixed them. Of course.
And then went to the internet to find the correct formula for stacking & slashing.

My Stitch-in-the-Ditch presser foot (or Edge foot) was getting it's first real workout and I needed to learn to look ahead at the foot guide and not where the needle goes in so the stitching would land near the "ditch". My recent discovery that my old Viking 960 indeed had needle position features - either unused or forgotten - came in amazingly useful. It's like a brand new toy!!

I decided to give up my ritual of watching local morning news loop (repeating the same news for 2 hours) and headed into the sewing room soon after Tom left for work. Things were going along quite nicely and by July 9th a stack of blocks were all quilted and I was beginning to sew rows together. About 8 a.m. I looked up from my sewing machine and out through the open window. TWO MEN, with GUNS and a SEARCH DOG were walking past the window - less than 3 feet away! DOC was written on the backs of their bullet proof vests!  Department of Corrections. Searching for escaped convicts and one of their grandmothers lives across the road!

Perhaps a better response would have been to for me to dive for cover UNDER the sewing machine?
Instead I said, "Um, EXCUSE ME?"
Not sure which of us were more surprised!  One asked me if I had seen two men walk by?
(No...just you two...with guns.)

Quilt progress came to a grinding halt.

August 1, 2012.

Jax tested it out first.