Friday, December 31, 2010

My List of UFOs, WIPs & PHDs for the 2011 Challenge

I had planned to participate in Judy Laquidaras UFO Challenge .... in 2011. So in preparation I procrastinated until today to make my list. I have several small projects that I might be able to complete...

Here is my 12 for this .... next year, but my real (personal) goal is to get them to the next step, IF I finish one or more, that will be a bonus.

1. Christies Quilt (1988) - hand quilt*1/2 quilted
(edit 3/28/2011- drawn for March-completed except for the label)

2. Music-Proud Mary (1989) - complete top and add borders
(edit 7-3-11 drawn for July)
3. Presidents Quilt (1990) blocks -arranged and set (enough for 2 quilts?)
4. Sights in the Sky (1990) -machine quilt
(edit 4/29/2011 -Drawn  for April. 1/2 machine quilted ran out of thread. More ordered but not in time to complete in April. Binding is also cut and ready)

5. Japanese Ladies Quilt (2004)- machine quilt

6. Red/Black Japanese Quilt (2004)-machine quilt
(edit Drawn for January. Complete.)

7. Endo (2005)-machine quilt

8. GI Progressive "Coots N Cranes" (2007)- complete top
(edit 7-3-11 top complete)

9. PR Round Robin (2008)- machine quilt
(edit 7-3-11 top complete)

10. Sparkly Chickens- Chicken Blocks (2009) - arrange & set blocks
(edit, Drawn for February. Not complete for Feb. but top assembled in March)
11. Sparkly Chickens- Fall (2009) set blocks

 12.Cupcakes x2 (2010)- machine quilt

I didn't think I had that many... projects underway, (I actually have 17) I have left the ones that need to be hand quilted off, but as you can see some have been waiting a LONG time.

More later-


Sunday, December 26, 2010

After Christmas

Widowbird.... has an amazingly long tail. (170-500 lens)

Happy Day after Christmas to everyone. Tomorrow is another holiday here, The Day of Goodwill, otherwise known as Boxing Day in the rest of the world.

I was suffering the few days before Christmas with neck pain… not sure where it came from --but I have a good idea. So I was nowhere near ready for the big day. Really glad we didn’t have any company or major dinner plans. The weather here was bright and sunny and quite warm. We were supposed to have a T-storm or two, but they really haven’t materialized.
Brothers- White Lions


Our décor… for Christmas was simple. From the states I brought several strings of battery operated LED lights. Here they have an invasive plant, and a craft has sprung up around the abundance… the limbs/branches are fashioned into yard screens, furniture, and lawn ornaments… and reindeer, stars, wreaths and Christmas trees. I have a tree that stands about28 inches tall with the LED lights woven through. No ornaments… just the lights. It’s just perfect a will do nicely for the next few years.

Big male (Nikkor)

Santa (read that to be DH) was very extravagant this year. Originally we weren’t going to do gifts, but I think DH took pity on my photo gear after our trip to Kurger…. Across the street from the Embassy is a camera shop. We all go there for the various pictures we need for ID’s. Anyway DH visited the shop and picked out some new lenses and ordered a new camera from the states. To say that I am now loaded and my camera gear… will now comprise a fair section of the back seat of the car would be true!!! DH presented me first with a new lens- a really big one… that will really bring me much closer to the subject. It weighs a ton and I will have to get a monopod to help hold it steady. It’s a Sigma 170-500m and takes some awesome pictures.

Wild dog
Next was another lens. A Nikkor (Nikon glass) 70-300m, that will really improve my photos, because it has vibration reduction. The motor is so quiet… and fast for auto focus… that it surprises me. The lens I was using… before Christmas, was also a 70-300, but it is a Tamron… and the difference is noticeable!

Large Male White Lion
And lastly…. A new camera to go will all of the lenses. I now have a Nikon D90. Originally we were going to upgrade my camera body and get a new lens or two… and DH would inherit my old camera. Somewhere in the last year he decided that he didn’t want to carry a huge camera and that I should have 2 bodies with lenses ready to go all the time. What a generous guy!!! Now I just need a pack mule to carry it all.


Today we went to the ‘Lion Park’. I don’t think I will ever go back, unless someone really wants to play with the cubs. It’s nearly guaranteed there that you can play with cubs! There are several adult lion enclosures that you can drive through. At noon on Sundays you can watch them feed the lions. We did not do that. But we did drive through. The rest of the park is not worth the comment on. The cubs were not as much fun as the other park we did last year and this one will be the second choice.

I hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas, and that you got all the things that make you happy, wheather it's time with family, friends or alone. The photos above are all from the visit to the Lion Park.

As always.... a bit more later.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Things of NOTE

Since we returned from Kruger and I was done posting about it… I slacked off. Mostly because … taking pictures of things other than the landscape, animals or flowers is really a challenge for me…. And I hate taking them, because when I look at them I see where I could have done better … MUCH Better!!!

So what have we done in the last 5 weeks… Not too much exciting stuff and in no importance of order….

 Axel became and IT! With Linzy maturing, we didn’t want to have an accident. Axel, while beautiful, has too many genetic issues we did not want to procreate. He is allergic to both his environment and foods. We were hoping Africa would be good place for him, and so far, much better than the states, environmentally.

 I started my job. My security clearance came through, so I could begin work. I started on November 15th. I work in a Classified area -so no electronics or phones are allowed in the area. We have to leave them in a lock box outside the door; I don’t know how I am going to get along without a SMARTphone, which is the repository for all important information!!! I am a Logistician; and that big title, basically means that I shift inventory –either from here to there or -from there to here or –into the warehouse here. I also am charged with keeping track of where it all is!!! So far there hasn’t been too much to do in regard to shifting.

 We cracked my iPhone! It’s not perfect but it’s better than using the Blackberry Pearl that I had been using; and for the record, I hate multifunction keyboards!!! It’s a shame that you can own a product and then be restricted from using it the way you want to use it. And the government and environmentalists wonder why the landfills are filling up. Instead of making things more compatible, we make things more restrictive and less functional for the life of a product. I would be happy to use this phone on any network for a year or three or even longer if nothing better was produced down the road. Speaking of iPhone…. The pictures are from the iPhone today. Too lazy to do the big camera.

4 dyed fish skins

 Also, I got some very interesting leather. When we were here last year and took the ‘tannery tour’ I was shown a fish skin that had been tanned, (there was also a purse made from one, but I didn’t like the purse). It was so supple and soft, and at the time I didn’t ask if I could buy it… and left. Well since then I have been asking if they had any more… Well I now have 4 fish skins. I don’t think they are from the same fish that I saw before; but I do have some and they are cool. These are from Nile Perch caught in the Zambezi River and have been dyed… (you can

Scale side of fish
have animal skins with the fur dyed here too). Any way on the reverse it looks just like any other leather but on the front you can see the scale ridges. Makes for a very cool texture. So what am I going to do with them? Not sure yet.

 We also went to a wedding. One of my husbands colleagues met a South African lady here and now they are a legal couple. The wedding was a combination of South African and American rituals. Part of it was conducted in English and the other part in Afrikaans. But if you have been to one wedding … well you had a good idea of what was being said.

Downed Tree
 The weather here has been the opposite of the Northern Hemisphere. Warm and rainy. Not the usual for South Africa in December. Generally it is nice in the mornings and then an afternoon rain Thunder shower, but not recently. We have had huge very powerful and loud Thunderstorms that make the summer storms in the Midwest seem very tame by comparison. The good thing is tornado like activity is minimal here. On Wednesday overnight to Thursday morning, last week we had 8-10 inches of rain. Not something the infrastructure in South Africa can handle… almost. Thankfully we had the house repaired where -water was seeping under the wall along the foundation in the downstairs bathroom, before the big rain came! Not that we didn’t have a problem from the rain… one of the trees in the backyard came down. It's really 2 trees that the root system had become one...It will be like this until after the 10th of January.

 Another part of the ‘Festive Season’ is its prime Holiday Time here. Most people take 2 weeks and go on Holiday. Its summer, sunny and warm –school is out for the year. December 16 is a holiday here, The Day of Reconciliation. In the old days, it was the commemoration of ‘The Battle of Blood River’, for more on this… see But has been changed to a day to recognize the new South Africa and the differences in Culture. So from mid December to mid January most of the country is away from work. This year also due to the South African Holiday, known as The Day of Goodwill (known as Boxing Day elsewhere), which falls on Dec. 26 but will be observed on Monday Dec 27, we will have a 4 day weekend and then there is New Years…

It is close to Christmas, and I just am not really into the whole Christmas frenzy this year. I have lived in California, where cold is maybe 32F, and that is overnight… not during the day –so I am comfortable without snow and freezing temps. So our house is done in minimal Christmas. Yep, this is the extent of the decorating. I have 3 strings of LED battery operated lights…. Red and White (they are also the total extent of the Christmas décor I shipped over. That’s it. We have decided that rather than do gifts (to each other)…. We would see Africa while we are here.

 And last but not least I got a fabric postcard in the mail today from my friend Karen, who blogs here. The postcard is a replica of a quilt she was making and blogged about it here A Creative Kick . I would just love to see the quilt in person… but this little gem will have to do!!!

Until later...



Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kruger- Thats a Wrap!

The Olifonts Camp was spectacular! It sits high on a rocky ledge overlooking the Olifonts River. The river itself is wide and fairly shallow, although there are some deep looking channels. Reminded me of the descriptions of the Platte River in the middle of America, when it actually had water in it. All you can see now is where the Platte River once flowed… and is now just a former trickle of its self.

Stick bug

The main buildings at Olifants have just been renovated and they look very nice. Satara has not been renovated, so the difference was obvious. However, the hut at Olifants was not renovated and it too was obvious, but the A/C worked much better! So the trade off was good. The huts are currently undergoing renovation, and the one we stayed in was next on the list… they were working on the one next door… and I was able to watch how they put new thatch on! They don’t take the old one down, they just put new on top, and it’s stitched. One guy on the top doing the smoothing/aligning and one below to send the needle back up. On the patio post I found a stick bug too. They are a kind of mantis, so they are a good bug.

Fish Eagle
 From Olifants we traveled back toward Satara, and along some other roads that were new to us. We didn’t see anything much more interesting than we had already seen. We stopped at a bird hide and saw 2 Fish     Eagles on the other side of a river… There will soon be some eagle eggs! I did get a nice one of the male flying back to our side. If I had only had a slightly longer lens… it would have been a really nice flight picture.

Southern Ground Hornbill (male)
When you leave Olifonts Camp, you must cross the Olifonts River. It is one of the few places you are allowed to get out of your car. So on one of our crossing we of course stopped (we stopped every time we crossed the bridge), and as everyone was looking over the bridge, some Vervet monkeys were investigating cars that folks had left windows open! On another crossing the Baboons were on the bridge. We didn’t get out on that crossing. We also spotted the Southern Ground Hornbill. This is one big ugly bird!

We found a large Male Lion, on his own… laying in the shade, (no picture). Shortly after we arrived he ambled off. The day was promising to be another hot one and it was! The temps got up to 41 C (105 F).

baby zebar rolling
 On Day 6, we left Olifonts Camp and headed south toward our next camp, once again we were on a quiet dirt road and our first sight was seeing a young zebra rolling in the dust. His mom has just finished, but he had just started. The light was low, so it’s not the best photo, but it was cute!

Boabab Flower
The next site was a Boabab tree in bloom. In my reading up… on the tree I discovered that we were lucky!!! Wish I had taken a photo with the whole tree in the shot. These trees are huge… the trunks are very wide, and the branches are very short, like stunted. If you want to know more about the tree including the baking ingredient derived from the tree go here: BoababTree and Boabab Tree Images

Of course we saw many animals…. Impala, elephants, rhinos, giraffe, cape buffalo, wildebeest, and some of the smaller animals and birds. We did spot some Klipspringers hiding in the brush… Such a cute little guy…

the Southern plains of Kruger
As we were nearing the Lower Sabie Camp the terrain really started to spread out and become much more plains like. It was here that we saw a herd of Cape Buffalo that was more than 100. The dotted the hillside on both sides of the road. Because the Cape were also on the road, we had

African Harrier Hawk
to drive really slow so  we didn't hit a Cape; we spotted an ‘African Harrier Hawk. We checked into Lower Sabie where we had hut with a kitchen. The kitchen is not inside… it is on the patio. The hut was newer… and had a more modern A/C unit.

We went over to the restaurant just before sunset. The patio of the restaurant is built out over the sandy banks of the Sabie River. So when the sun sets and the Hippos come out of the water… you can see and hear them. Another name for a hippo is ‘Water Pig’ and it is very apparent why when you hear the sounds that they make.

Love the look on the face

There were lots of folks with cameras waiting….. along with us! The food was as usual mediocre and the 'water pigs' did not come close.

Our last full day in the park, we got up as usual at the crack dawn (to read really early) and once  again the day promised to be hot… but in this case more humidity. On our trek from Lower Sabie for the day our first sighting of the day was a pod of hippos in the water… love the look you get from this guy. Our drive took us up to Skukuza Camp, which I really wanted to see. It is where the headquarters are, along with a conference center. There was a small pond which had some spectacular water lilies.

Our drive took us along the river for most of the day, but we didn’t see too much in the way of large animals, but we did see many crocodiles and hippos. We spied a Martial Eagle having some breakfast. We Eagle  couldn’t figure out exactly what he was eating, but it looks to be a monitor lizard or a small crocodile. We called it a day early, because we wanted to cool off a bit before dinner and our last event, a nighttime game drive. It was still very warm

Martial Eagle
when we were to meet for the game drive, and I was in a hurry to have the truck start rolling, so we could be cooled by the breeze. That was a mistake!!! After dark there are a lot of bugs in South Africa. I did get a nice sunset photo, it could have been better, but again it was HOT. We saw lots of different creatures on the night drive, most reptiles it seems. 4 of the not so nice snakes … from


the truck of course, a monitor, and something you don’t see during the day- a rabbit! Actually several, but that is because they were out… The drive was nice, but I don’t think I will do another night drive. I would much rather get up early in the morning!!!!

We left Kruger leisurely on Saturday morning and made it home just afternoon. The dogs were stuck at the kennel until Monday afternoon. That gave us plenty of time to unpack, do the laundry and catch up at the house.

When I got home, one of my friends, a South African lady, said to me when I told her all the things we saw while in Kruger, “South Africa really put on her best dress and shoes for us!”. I think she was right. We saw so many animals and things unique to South Africa. The only animals we did not see on this trip was the cheetah and the wild dogs!!!

Once again, it’s long and wordy… I still have more pictures of things I saw, but these were the highlights! There are more photos and better resolution on my Flickr  page if you are interested. Leave a comment here or there on your favorites!

As always, more later -- Beth

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kruger Day 4

Before I begin… another installment of the Kruger adventure let me say Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. We don’t need a national holiday to be thankful. We should practice Thanksgiving on a daily basis! Thankful that we have life first and then all the things that make life worth living- family, (both real and acquired), friends, and the ability to change or adapt! With those things anything can be accomplished.

"Bill" the Hornbill
Our 4th day in the park was pretty low key. We are still at Satara, where we stayed for 4 nights and quite frankly, ready to move on. Our hut faced an open space, where there were lots of birds and squirrels. I broke the rules accidentally, (I knew we couldn’t feed the animals), but I didn’t think feeding the birds was wrong… so I have some great pictures of ‘Bill’ the Hornbill. He even ate out of my hand. He has such a cartoon face. I think I see a quilt in there somewhere. I also had a Spurfowl and a dove eating from my hand. It’s obvious I am not the only one to have broken the rule. So we packed our stuff and headed for our next camp, about 60 km (37 miles) and approximately a 2 ½ drive…. Sight/game seeing along the way. So what did we see… on the drive? Well the temperatures were high and the sky was overcast, so there wasn’t too much activity. But this is Africa, and there are lots of animals to see.

We had heard of a lion sighting, so before heading north from Satara along a river, we dropped south along a paved road to see the lions. These lions were practically on the road. We watched them for a bit, but the only activity was a lioness moving from a sunny spot to one at the back in the shade.

The Brush
When we turned north we drove from moderate dry vegetation to a somewhat sparser and lower growing vegetation, although it was bushier so it was dense. Once again we drove slowly and I saw some flowers and on closer inspection… they were teaming with butterflies and bees. There were 2 species of butterfly on this floret. An almost white one, it had a lime or aqua cast to it… and there were quite a few on the plants. Then there was a much smaller more colorful one.

The day was warm enough that the elephants were having a great time playing in the water. At 2 different locations we saw fun. The first is an elephant cooling down by spraying water over himself. He would slip his trunk over the side of the tank, and then spray himself down. Once in a while he would take a drink. He had a partner

on the other side of the tank doing the same thing. The other was a group of elephants at a shallow water pan; several of them put their trunks in the water and exhaled making the water bubble up. Sort of like kids in the tub playing motorboat.

As we were watching the elephants another butterfly went flying past and as luck had it landed within in my sights… I don’t know the species, yet.


Wahlbergs Eagle

As we passed a large tree we spotted a Wahlbergs Eagle having lunch. Its lunch was nearly gone, but I did manage to snap a great photo or two. I wouldn’t put my finger too close to the beak. It’s sharp.

Wahlbergs Eagle

Our accommodations for the next couple of nights was at a Camp called Olifonts. It sits high on a cliff overlooking the Olifonts River. It has just been refurbished and has a marvelous deck for dining outdoors where you can watch the wild life. Our Hut had a view of the river, and from our patio we watched the Giraffes move along the tree line and hippos come out for feeding.

I’ll try and wrap up the trip to Kruger in one or two more posts… and then maybe a post of the odd photo, that I liked but didn’t have a way to insert into the blog.

If you’ve made it this far Happy Thanksgiving!

More later-Beth

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Kruger –Days 2 and 3

On the second morning we had a Walking Safari. Once again, it was up before the sun and assembled for the short ride in a truck. For some reason… I thought wearing Capri’s and tennis shoes would be good clothing for a walk in the brush. I don’t think very well without coffee… and didn’t put any bug repellant on either, although I Did pack better walking clothes and bug stuff. Not smart! It is the rainy season, therefore it’s also tick season. The ticks here carry a disease, called oddly enough “African Tick Bite Fever”. After a short drive, we get off the truck, and are given some basic instructions and then, immediately start walking through long brush. After about 5 minutes I figure I’m going to have a tick… might as well enjoy the walk and experience. We are already taking Anti Malarial drugs… maybe I won’t have a tick and that will be all good.
(Remember to  enlarge a photo, click on it. Also there are a few different pictures and larger views on my Flickr page
Guides with guns

As we walk along we see some birds… it is so early in the morning
and cloudy that the camera doesn’t think it’s light enough to take pictures. The first animal we hear in the brush is an elephant. One of the Ranger Guides… goes to find it, and then signals for us to come up. Once we get there… and we see where the elephant is… we are ushered quickly away. We had come up in front of the elephant, not off to the side, where the chances of being seen are less. Bull elephants don’t like to be surprised. It was pretty cool, but not much to photograph, since we were hiding from him. Before I forget, our guides were armed with big guns... just incase we run into trouble.

Game Breakfast

As we walked along, we saw more birds, some antelope, a zebra, a wildebeest, a giraffe and 3 more animals in a spectacular setting. As we came from a tree line and looked ahead… we were announced by a pack of hyenas having breakfast. It was amazing to hear them howl, - it wasn’t really a howl. I don’t think I can describe it accurately, but it was so worth the risk of ticks! As we continued our approach, the hyenas continued to object.

Hyenas, Lion and Jackals
When we were about 30 yards out, a large yellow
lump moved. It was a lion. He didn’t stay long though. Got up, look us over and then left. In the meantime, we continued our approach and the hyenas started to move away. In the background were 2 Black Backed Jackals hoping for a snack from the hyenas. The hyenas were upset, but kept about 30 yards distant. Once we arrived at their breakfast, a wildebeest, they started to come back, but still kept their distance.

Female Hyena

A female picked up a bone and came the closest to us, (incidentally she is pregnant too). It was spectacular to be on the ground with the animals. We weren’t in any danger, as the guards were armed. We had a bit of a snack…. Near the hyena breakfast grounds and then headed back to the truck. The walk lasted about 3 hours and well worth getting up early for.

Back at the camp, we showered. I didn’t have any ticks, and that was the good news, but they are microscopic, so I have to keep an eye open. So once again we have some coffee. By now we are using the communal kitchen, where they provide sinks, counters and burners to cook a meal, but all we make is coffee, in a our camping percolator.

Satara Camp

The camp we are staying at is called Satara. It is in nearly the center of the park. From the road, I have a picture of the outside of the huts. They are round with a thatched roof, about 15 feet across inside, with 2 twin beds, closet and sink, there is a shower and stool in a very small space behind a door. The only other fixture is an air conditioner, window unit. Outside is a covered patio, with a table for 2 with

Sitings Board

chairs, a small (not dorm size) refrigerator/freezer and a lockable cupboard for food. The inside of the room is too small to take photos. But very efficient. Our hut is facing a center green area with trees and lots of birds (bird pics later).

South African Scops Owl

We checked the sighting board… to see what folks had seen the day before and what they were reporting so far in the day. The dot colors are, yellow is wild dog, white is Cheetah, blue is elephant, orange is rhino, green is cape buffalo, red is lion and black is leopard. We decided to take a road we had traveled previously… where the lions were having the zebra breakfast, hoping we’d see them again. We didn’t see them, but we did see Scops Owl, on a tree in the parking lot. Not the best photo, but again the day was overcast and he was in the shade and at about eye level for me, so I had to nearly sit on the ground for this picture! He is only about 7 inches tall so not too big.

one of 2 Males in deep brush

We didn’t see too much activity… We of course happened upon antelope, the only animal the Rangers, Drivers and Guides will guarantee you will see. We did see some zebra, elephants and giraffe.
The other male.
But what have we become in a day and half in the park? Cat JUNKIES!! We want to see the cats. And of course we found one. Actually a pair of lions, 2 males; you will often find 2 males living together, but of course one is dominate. These 2 were well apart in the scrub.

We got into the habit of driving slow enough on the dirt roads for me to spot and photograph flowers and bugs. If you drive slow enough to see them, then you will often be rewarded with enough time to scan deeper or further away and see other creatures or birds.

Saddlebilled Crane
This is an interesting Crane. It is the only crane with this coloration, so it is easy to spot and identify.

This bird is only about 2 feet tall, and the color of the grass…. with some black markings. Could easily be missed driving at the speed limit.

Kudu Buck
We also spotted a beautiful Kudu Buck. Another animal adorned with a superb set of horns. The Kudu are big animals, and the coat color goes from a dun color to a grey that really helps them blend into the foliage. I’m not sure if you have noticed in the pictures, but often the grass is beige, many of the leafless trees are grey… so some of the animals appear to be more shadow when hiding in the brush.

While driving slowly we happened upon a small herd of Waterbuck, and I caught these two play practicing. Almost looks like they were posing for me.
Waterbuck Games

A couple of other interesting pictures….

 a walking elephants reflection in a pool,

a view of the landscape,
The brush and trees of the thornveld
and 1 of a huge muddy male lion.

I have noticed that the list of followers has grown…Yeah and thanks!!! … I hope I’m not too boring…. And

As always, More Later!