Archive for September, 2009

A Bird In The Hand

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Have you ever held a hummingbird in your hand? I have, and the most recent experience was about a week ago. We have a lot of hummingbirds around our feeder in the summer and we enjoy watching them eating, fussing with one another and checking out the flowers in the garden. However, one will periodically get trapped in our garage. We have three separate overhead garage doors and one or two of them are usually left open when the weather is nice. The bird flies in and can’t figure out how to get back out. He will generally fly up to the large windows that are above the doors and exhaust himself trying to get out up there.

We have tried all kinds of ways to help the bewildered bird find its way out of the garage, but none seem to work. Trying to catch them with a butterfly net is often futile because the ceiling of our garage is very high and wielding a net at the tip of a long pole is difficult and not very effective. From experience I have discovered that it is best to leave the bird alone until he is totally exhausted at which time he will land someplace and stay there because he is simply too tired to fly.

Here’s where the cool part comes in. Once the bird is exhausted I can either catch him with a net or pick him up in my hands. It is an incredible feeling to have this tiny creature in my hand. He seems to vibrate, either from fear or exhaustion, but after awhile calms down and becomes still. When he is settled a bit I take him to the feeder and dip his beak in the sugar water. It may take a few tries before he figures out that it’s food, but once he takes a sip or two, he begins to perk up, looking around and gradually taking note of his surroundings. You would think the sight of a human so close would terrify him, but it doesn’t seem to. He actually looks interested in what’s happening.

A few minutes after taking some sugar water, the bird regains enough strength to fly away, either to the top of a light fixture or a nearby tree. I don’t know if he stops to rest at that point, or heads straight towards home, but I am always very relieved to see him airborne again. I also don’t know whether it’s the same bird getting caught in our garage multiple times, or many different birds. I do know that it’s magical having such an intimate encounter with a hummingbird and I feel privileged to be a part of it’s life for a brief period of time. This last time I wanted to have a picture taken of me with the little guy in my hand, but didn’t dare take the time to locate the camera and get someone to shoot the picture. It seemed more important to get him to the feeder so he could regain his strength.

It would be great if we could figure out how to keep the hummingbirds out of our garage. Until then it’s nice to know that these encounters don’t have to be fatal and that I can come to the rescue when needed. And maybe next time I can get a picture!

Quilt Inn 2009

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Quilt Inn 2009 (held at Highland Lodge here in Greensboro, Vermont) is over for this year, and a good time was had by all. The weather was fine, the food was great, and we got a lot accomplished in between meals!! There were nine returning students and one newbie this year. That may sound like an unfair advantage, but the newbie definitely held her own!! In fact, Sara was a good influence. Because she is an MD, we declared medical talk off limits. As you can imagine, this cut down on the level of chatter dramatically (after all, with the average age being somewhere around 73, our health, or the lack thereof, is an endlessly fascinating subject)! The benefit of the relative quiet was that everyone in the class was more productive than they might otherwise have been!! Grin! Sara was also a diligent student and set a good example for the rest of us. Here she is, experiencing machine quilting for the very first time.


Our “studio” was extra pleasant this year because the sun shone almost every day, making it bright and cheerful. Here is Elsie, the super dog, guarding our fabric while we are away eating lunch.


Most of the students came to class with an idea for the project they wanted to tackle in class, but every one participated in the design exercises the first day. The projects that emerged on the second day were very diverse and exciting, but were all kept to a manageable size, with one notable exception. Below is a photo of Jane with her master pattern. She came to class with the design already drafted and had only to paste it to the poster board to create her templates. It took all four of us to accomplish this!!


This second photo shows Jane pondering how to begin cutting the hunk of templates she has isolated from the rest of the pattern. Jane’s project was inspired by a photo she had taken in Cambodia. Although this will be a massive undertaking, I have no doubt that Jane will finish it. Last year at Quilt Inn she also worked on an ambitious design. Not only did she finish it, she made a second one from the same pattern!!


Karen (below) cuts those pesky curves with her trusty rotary cutter.


Carol and Kristin fine-tune their drawings before preparing the master pattern.


Trudy shows Robin a work-in-progress.


Juanita concentrates on removing wrinkles from her fabric.


One of the best things about taking a class is that you can share ideas with the other students. Here Jane explains to Judy and a few of the other students exactly how she intends to deal with her design.


Of course, fun is also a big part of class. Robin and Sara  may look as if they are sniffing glue, but they are actually laughing at themselves as they try to glue the tracing paper and poster board together for a master pattern. Because it was starting to rain, they found the children’s play house the perfect place for this task!


One afternoon we took a field trip down the road to my house where we did a little fabric dyeing. Here you see the results. It looks as though Louise is having trouble remembering which piece is hers!!


We found ourselves missing Sherry, a special friend who had attended Quilt Inn for ten years prior to this year, so we decided to make a postcard for her. Everyone contributed a piece from their project and I put it together in a collage manner and quilted it. At first it seemed that the individual elements were too diverse to play well with each other, but eventually it came together. I think it looks very folk arty. Sherry was very please with her postcard, which actually has her address, messages and a fabric stamp on the other side.


All in all, it was a very productive session. Here are Robin and Arlene hard at work. Note the concentration exhibited by both!


It seemed the theme this year was determination. Everyone  was very focused and eager to make a lot of progress. Plans for  next year are still up in the air, but I will post information here as  soon as it is available.


Curve Unleashed Follow-up

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

My show in July was very successful which made all the preparation work worthwhile. I spent a long time preparing the smaller quilts for the exhibit. They were mounted on silk-covered foam core which could then be popped into a frame. I felt they looked more interesting and professional this way and I guess the public did too because a lot of them sold.

mounted piece

The best news from the show is that I raised a significant amount of money for the Greensboro Arts Alliance. This is a new organization in town which has brought theatre productions and readings to the community. This summer the biggest attraction was a staging of Peter Pan, complete with a professional stage manager from NYC, direction by Sabra Jones (founder of the Alliance), and flying equipment so that Peter could fly. I am proud that the proceeds from my show helped put on this production! However, the best part was that my friends and neighbors got a chance to see my work. Everyone in Greensboro knows that I am a quilter, but very few of them know or understand exactly what that means and this was my chance to show them. There was a steady flow of people through out the whole weekend and the reaction ranged from pleasure to astonishment. One of my friends (a male friend whom I have known since we were both in our teens) made the BEST comment. He was obviously surprised by my work and said so, then added, “I had no idea it was so….hum…hem…(searching for the right word here)….hem….ARTISTIC!!!! Thanks, Kevin!! What a great compliment!