Saturday, December 31, 2011

Out of Commission

That would be me… I am immobile…. resting…. and healing. On Monday or Tuesday I was tossing some toys for the dogs (at least that is what I think was the cause) and inadvertently, pulled, strained or tore a muscle in my back. goose

seagullsWhen I went to work on Wednesday…. things progressed rapidly downhill. By midafternoon, I knew something was wrong… but wrongly thinking I would work through it.

When I got up on Thursday morning, I could hardly walk and trying to find balance was excruciating. So I started with ice… and by Friday was using heat, and by Friday evening a bit looser and more mobile, but only to go the bathroom, reheat the rice bag or have a little water. Otherwise it was more time in the chair.

horse-head

The good news is… today while stiff, walking is easier, but there is still some pain when I move just so- the wrong way. So once again I am sitting in ‘the chair’ with heat. So, for the time being I am down for the count.

Our trip home from the US had us stop overnight in London. DH has a friend from work that lives there, and they (Kevin and Heather O) insisted that we stay with them. They were the greatest hosts. They both had to work of course, but made us feel very welcome and expected. With Tube passes, cell phone and local maps.

hyde-park-fence-panelOn our first day we took a walk around Hyde Park and saw the fence panel (above), the goose and the seagulls. When we started out it was warm… but it soon turned cold!!!

Kevin also arranged for us to view the Key Ceremony at the Tower of London. It wasn’t your ordinary daytime tour. This was a night time tour and semi-private. Unfortunately it was typical ‘English’ weather, so we didn’t get to walk and listen to the guide, but we did get toat-the-tower visit the Tower Church, and get a up close and personal with a few of the relics and stones of some of the bodies that have been interred. After the history and the Key Ceremony we were invited to the Beefeaters Pub. *a little history* The Guards of the Tower are a special group from the English Military, and a few select are chosen to be Tower Yeoman Warders, it is a lifetime job and there are only 38 at any given time. After the Key Ceremony the real jewel of this tour is a visit to the Yeoman Warders Pub. Where we had a drink or two with the Warder that was our guide. The inside of the pub has been decorated in badges or shields from various forms of ‘guards’ or police from around the world. I saw several shields from the USA, (FDNY, FBI, , Secret Service and all the branches of the US Military).  The last couple of years the US Embassy and the Warders have a Whiffle Ball Tournament, this is the trophy from 2 years ago.

wiffle-ball

That is all I have… 2012 is waiting in the wings and will be here soon!!! Ok for me a little sooner than for (most) of  you…. Until later….

Happy New Year!!!

Beth

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Gifts and a Wish

CH-Merry-Christmas-017

It’s hard to believe but Christmas is here again. I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!!!

Down here in South Africa, it doesn’t look or feel like Christmas!!!! Up until today it was sunny, with some big clouds floating and occasionally stacking up for a bit to produce a quick thunderstorm. But today, on Christmas Eve day, we have a dull gray sky that is spitting out a misty rain. The forecast is the same through Monday…. boo!!!

Our Christmas celebration is like last year very low key. This year I amimagesCALNMP66 cooking a turkey, (but the soup will wait until winter-July here). We both like the stuffing, mashed potatoes, a salad and gravy part of the meal, so we will have that along with the turkey. For dessert we are going to have apple crisp.

Our gifts this year- to our friends and gift xmasfamily (you are probably one or the other if you are reading this), was donations, in their name to the Heifer Project. We donated Hope Gift Baskets and Promise Gift Baskets, along with other smaller Gifts of rabbits, bees, geese, ducks and chickens.  I have also made a donation in the name of all my online friends- A flock of chickens, which will help a family and a community, with eggs, meat and fertilizer.

The driving force behind this choice, is the poverty we see daily. It is heartbreaking, and my husband tells me of some of the places he visits for work. And it is more of the same. One of the reasons we chose Heifer Project is that it is world wide and more of the ‘teach a man/woman to fish’ where they can see some real progress and benefits from their own two hands.If you haven’t heard of the Heifer Project before now… check it out.

DSC_3721I don’t know if you saw the previous post about the generator… well it’s out there working now!!! A power failure in the neighborhood… It might even be load shedding (this is when there isn’t enough power being produced to cover all the homes, so they cut some off).

In closing… I hope you all have a HAPPY AND SAFE HOLIDAY, that Santa brought you a little something too.

Stay tuned for more later…. Postcards?

Beth

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Home Leave

We’ve been home for a little more than a week now. Fortunately things smoothed out as the week came to a close. The generator is installed and the grass is repairing itself. We will probably never need it, the generator, but it’s here just in case.

I spent a little time in the sewing room. I found a cute purse pattern… well itbowtucks looked cute on the front of the pattern. I was looking for something I could carry the tablet in… when I wanted to take it with me. I used one of the fabrics my DH brought back from Rwanda. I think it is my favorite fabric of the bunch. The pattern is called Bow Tucks by Quilts Illustrated, lots of places online to get your very own.

The mail was good to me while I was gone too. I got a long awaitedpaisley Paisley block from the Sparkly Chickens Receivers Choice Swap. Jacqui’s interpretation of a paisley. I think it will go very well with the others. She also included some of her hand dyed fabrics… they are yummy. There are still one or two blocks outstanding… but no worries.

chickI also got a birthday chick from Cheryl, also a Sparkly Chick. She also included some Fat Quarters. I didn’t really notice until I took the picture, how well the 2 FQs play together….

book

I also received a book from a Pickle, (another Yahoo group I belong to). She went shopping at a book sale and when the book arrived it wasn’t her taste. I on the other hand love it. I have a replacement picked out to send, but I have to figure out the best way to send it…. it will take weeks… but by then it will really be a surprise!

While in the states I was able to meet up with my Bee Pals, as it was a regular meeting day. We met at noon, and Janel served us a delicious Salmon Chowder, sandwiches, salad and a Sorbet Bar for dessert. Another surprise was a member that used be with us came. What a delight it was to see Mary Alice. It was fun hearing all about what each one was doing, seeing what they were working on and showing what they had recently finished. I think I miss regularly meeting up with friends the most. I do get out but not regularly, there is just something about hearing and keeping up with the lives of friends in a really informal friendly setting. I also tried to meet up with Karen, who is both a Pickle and a Sparkly Chick, but she had just started a new job, and our time just didn’t match up. Maybe next time!!!

I also met up with a couple of others (Sue and Sarah, and Kim and Chris)… as well as visited some quilt shops. My favorites in the Chicagoland area, The Fabric Center in Morris, Quiltfabric.com in Willowbrook, Pieceful Heart in Lisle, Prairie Stitches in Oswego, and a new one Gentler Times Stitching in Naperville, along with Erica's in South Bend, IN  I didn’t buy much…. some fat quarters, a couple of yards here and there, some patterns… and a notion or two. All of it is still in transit! I shipped 5 boxes back to South Africa.

I wish I could have visited everyone, but I was making 2-3 round trips from South Bend to Chicagoland every, week…. the drive is a little over 100 miles each way, plus tolls… and some of those days were LONG.

Thanksgiving was a great event. In 2002 we (me and DH ) started making the trek to South Bend for Thanksgiving. It would take us a full day in good weather, much longer in bad. This year we had 4 generations together and even some pictures.  Family come in from Virginia, Oregon, Illinois and Arizona. It was amazing to see everyone at the same time. My sister came up from Missouri to visit for a couple of days too. I haven’t seen her in nearly 4 years, which was a very long time for us. We spent one day in Amish Country and the other day shopping at some of our favorite places. IKEA, Cost Plus (our mom used to take us to the original store in San Francisco when we were kids), and an ethnic grocery Caputos for some fun and different foods. There were a couple of other stores too… Like Penzeys Spices -I gave her a gift certificate for her birthday, (she had to shop online) but thought a store would be a fun place to take her too. There are some spices in the boxes too.

I can’t believe how fast 3 weeks went by. I can’t believe how much I spent…. but it was all stuff we needed… or wanted …. or…..

As Always…. more later

PS…. 3 of the 4 boxes of goodies arrived today!!! I even got it all sorted and put away. The dogs are very happy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Home Again!

I’m home!!! There is so much to tell that I scarcely know where to begin….

Posting a blog from a tablet or any device with a virtual keyboard is NOT fun. As portable as the tablet was, it does have it’s limitations, so I found it less than optimum for posting to the blog. While the tablet has 2 cameras, they are not really built for taking pictures… I did snap a few on the way home and post them to Facebook, but it was a little unwieldy.

The 3 weeks we were gone was way to short in some respects and much to long in others. I did miss the dogs… Once we were home here… Saturday morning, we unpacked and collected the dogs from the kennel. They were as happy to see us as we were to see them. Things really went down hill after that!!! By Monday evening, if you were to have handed us plane tickets for home, we would have gladly gone!!!

While we were away, the power went out several times, twice were for 20 plus hours, which means everything in the refrigerator and freezers had to go.big-blue To top it off, another power outage over night from Saturday to Sunday morning, which meant no coffee -- another not so good thing. This will hopefully become a thing of the past, as we are FINALLY getting the compound generator installed. We’ve only been here a year and a half… It’s a monster of a thing and will reside in my back yard, and will be affectionately be called ‘big blue’. Hopefully we won’t every have to find out how loud it is.

On our visit back to the states we saw doctors, friends, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, nieces, nephews and a grandbaby!!!! grand-baby-DEH-0227

I’ll share a little more on all of that later. In the meantime, here is a ladybug.

cr-ldbug-3682

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dateline: Southbend, IN

I have been quiet the last week or so because I was busy. Busy packing for a trip home. So no pictures to go with this post. I'll have to work on figuring out getting some pictures .... We arrived late yesterday, after a long long long 34 total hours of travel!!!! Some might think that sleeping in a bed would be the best thing after all those hours, but no we both agree hat the hot shower was the best! We squeeked under the weight allowance by 6 pounds! Going home will be a little different, although much of my shopping will be shipped home by mail. I started the shopping..... the dogs so far are the big winners. The dog products/toys in South Africa are much more expensive and finding toys large enough has been difficult. So today I found them a Kong Toy, a chew ring and a Nylabone. I saw a couple of other things for them, but I want to check the other major pet retailers first. I wandered around Target, but didn't spend much, and the same was true at Marshall's. The only other thing was a US phone. I just needed a SIM card so I could use my iPhone. So I picked up a pay as you go phone and some minutes.... I'm back in communication! I also got another memory card for my camera. Another nice thing is fast Internet. We are reveling in fast downloads. I have been downloading Apps and programs for the Xoom! Some were unavailable from a foreign ISP, like the Nook App, well I can't think of any others at this moment. So what's up next? Walmart, Home Depot, Jo-anns, Michaels, and any other store that looks interesting. Today I am meeting with my old Quilting Bee....I foresee lots of hugs and laughing today! As always more later! Beth (sorry no photos, blog posting on the tablet.... is not as easy as I would have thought)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Bloggers Quilt Festival 2011

I always intend to be a part of this… The Bloggers Quilt Festival, but never get around to doing the post… something comes up or I don’t have a picture of the quilt… or… well I just procrastinate right past the deadline… and I almost did it again. (edit- there are over 500 entries in the BQF, and as much as I would like to visit each and everyone and comment on them.... there just isn't enought time in my day, THANKS for stopping by).

I have already posted about this quilt, but it is special!!!
cr-C-quilt
It was intended for my 1st niece as a baby quilt, but then things changed and quilting took a back seat. It was also a UFO project for this year and one I did manage to complete on time! I have slacked off on the UFO project… I guess I am not motivated, but there is always 2012.
So, back to this quilt,  I am also posting it because I will be handing it over to my sister, to give to her oldest daughter, which also happens to be my 1st niece.
cr-C-quilt-app-detail

A quick recap of the quilts life… a pattern adapted from a Judy Martin book and begun in Paradise CA in 1988. The top was completed and the hand quilting begun and this is where one of the side tracks happened. The cross hatching did not meet up the way it should have on the last corner of the center and I didn’t know what went wrong… and I moved to San Diego, where I didn’t have the space or time to quilt, and add to that a misdiagnosed tendonitis as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome…

cr-C-quilt-back

In 2002 a move to Nebraska, where a sewing space was available and a decision on fixing the middle was made and the completion of hand quilting in the center. In one of the moves, the stencil for the cable on the last border was discarded… so that was the next hurdle. Found a close match. Then a move to Chicagoland where it languished again… In 2011 I joined Patchwork Times UFO Challenge to get some UFO’s done. And it is done and soon to be united with its owner.

Thanks for stopping by- More later-Beth

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kwetterkwilters

Last night the local small group of South African Quilters, the Kwetterkwilters, met. I was there about a month ago, sharing some of the items I have collected and traded made with Peltex/Timtex/Fast2Fuse….  Postcards, Twinchies and 4x4’s. (I did a post about it here).
I gave each of the ladies a 4” x 6” piece of Peltex, 2 sided fusible to make something… and they chose to make a postcard. We all agreed to meet back last night and share our works of ART. Let me just say WOW!!! They got it in a big way!
After dinner, I shared something I should have taken last month  …. my postcard box. I keep all kinds of little things in there to make postcards…. novelty fabrics, ribbons, buttons, trinkets and findings. I think I may have started something!!!
I knew that I was going to make each one a postcard, when I left last month. So took those out to share and one more that I put in the mail today. I asked them to pick one and address it to themselves. So when I get back to the US…. I will mail them out.
postcards
One of the ladies has seen some prototype Luggage Tags I was playing with… and suggested that I bring those. I used Peltex in those too. I didn’t like them so I redesigned them and did these. Along with a couple of mini-tags to put on personal equipment… or other things that you want to mark. These all started because we don’t have any current tags for our luggage… and I left my laminator in storage and that is how I used to keep up with the changes.
tags
So as I wrapped up last night, the ladies had a surprise for me. They had made ‘Twinchies’ for ME!!! They are so cute! It was a super WONDERFUL surprise and will now have to make a box out of them too.
Twinchies
The ladies had so much fun making the postcards that several expressed a desire to swap postcards. So does anyone else want to join a small Postcard Swap? (edit: the swap won't begin until January, so if you are interested, please leave a comment or send me an email)
More Later- Beth

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Flora

It is summer here! Daytime Temperatures are reaching the 90’s. Last weekend I went on a short drive looking for one of the flowering trees. I have been seeing this tree, in the distance and from the car …. never really close enough to see the yellow flowers. I didn’t notice it last year…. but then again, I was being a ‘very good driver’ and keeping my eyes and mind focused on driving on the ‘right hand’ side of the car…
tree-flowers
The tree has been flowering for several weeks. I don’t know what they call it…. the few searches I have done… via Google have not returned an identifier… Hopefully someone will know and tell me!!! (edit 10/26- It's called a Silver Oak, and it is originally from Australia, for more info go HERE)

tree-flower-2
From the first picture to the second… you begin to see that the ‘flower’ is not a flower in the traditional sense. But something much more interesting!
tree-flower-3
A bit closer and you really begin to see how many flowers it takes to see yellow from a distance.
tree-flower-4
And really up close you can see how simple the yellow flower really is! Very much like the Protea Flower.
AMAZING!

More Later- Beth

Saturday, October 15, 2011

More on Kruger

After I loaded the last Kruger update… I remembered that I didn’t finish with the birds or some of the flowers!!! I also forgot the elephants….

There aren’t too many places where you are allowed to get our of your car in the park, but there is a bridge over the Olifants River where you can get out. I make it a point to always get out and see what is going on in and around the river. Today there were elephant herds on both sides. I caught these three walking in the water. I watched the little one in the middle play in the water before they started their walk. Down on the other side of the bridge… one of the elephants was trumpeting.

cr-3-elephants-in-Olifants

We did see lion too, well sort of…. This is what we saw…. See that little puff on the end of the tail and the hip… yep it’s a lion.

cr-lion-tail-3364

It is summer here, early yet… the daytime temperatures are in the mid 80’s and the nights are cooler in the 50’s. So the animals are resting in the heat of the day.

cr-guinea-fowThe birds we saw were not very exotic… of course the ever present Helmeted Guinea Fowl, with their bright blue heads and polka dotted feathers.

Francolin-JuvA young Francolin, I only took the picture because he stood so still for so long…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And another bird… the Kori Bustard. Very interesting looking birds… cr-kori-bustard

The flowers were weird… and funny that I haven’t seen them before. One of the things I have noticed about the plants here… Some bloom in the spring and some in the summer and yet there are others that bloom in the winter. Also, some have leaves that fall off at the beginning of summer, rather than in the fall…. So here we are in summer, before the rains really begin and I saw lots of flowering plants.

There were lots of branches on this shrub… but only this one flower. I think it resembles a zucchini flower.

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cr-bush-flowerThen there was this plant with it’s very interesting flowers.

And last but not least…. one more flower. I think it resembles an asterisk!

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Hope you enjoyed more from Kruger. Later- Beth

Friday, October 14, 2011

Kruger Visit #3

One of the most amazing places to visit in South Africa is Kruger National Park. It is huge, it is quiet and it is AMAZING! All you can hear is bird calls and insects… occasionally the sounds of animals, the snort of warning from an Impala buck, an elephant trumpet, or the screech or bark from a monkey.

We went back to the park. We were there nearly a year ago, and again in March. Neither one of us gets tired of seeing the ‘wild’ animals and nature. We stayed in a different camp than we have before, but we are thinking we won’t go to the north again. There are animals, but not enough relief for the eyes…

So what did we see or hear this time… Well of course all the usual characters, Wildebeest, Waterbuck, Kudu, Zebras, Vervet Monkeys and Baboons.

cr-cheetah-1We spotted Cheetah twice. It is an animal that we haven’t seen before, so it was a thrill to see them not once, but twice!!! The first ones were close enough to count the spots, the second ones…

2-cheetah

(Mom and juvenile) were a bit further away.

We explored an area we had  not been to before… there was a bird hide on the water, and we found some Fish Eagles.

cr-fish-eagleFrom what we could tell, it was a pair, trying to talk a young into flying…. we could hear at least 3 birds. These guys are territorial, so we don’t think it was more adults. Here I have one in flight.

We stopped at another bird hide that we have been to before. We always see something different each time. Last year it was the Fish Eagles, this time a herd of about 100 Cape Buffalo crossing the river and some water birds,

cr-african-spoonbill

a Spoonbill.

lipping-capeI don’t know what this Buffalo was doing… or if they do this regularly… but I thought is was kinda funny…. It seems that other creatures are doing this too.

We saw this giraffe before we got to the hide!

cr-lipping-giraffe

and I think I saw a zebra doing it too.

And since its October… halloween-tree

a photo for Halloween, a tree full of Vultures. I can’t tell which species it is, so we will leave it as generic. When we spotted this tree, the vultures were very still, so we got out the binoculars for a look. It seems that quite a few of them were asleep….

Two things I don’t have pictures of:

While driving to the hide we happened on a few elephants. They were not clustered, but here and there eating individually…. As we were driving past one, it got a little uptight. When a male elephant gets into a bad mood -shakes his head at you and stomps his feet -you better pay attention! We did and stopped the car and reversed a few feet and then waited. It seems we interrupted a courtship.

On Sunday, we took another morning game walk (had to get up at 3:30 in the morning). We love the walks because you see so much more of the park. This time the walk itself didn’t reveal as much as others we have been on, but the drive to the walking area (it is just away from the camp and off the main road), we found a family of hyena. Our guide was much more knowledgeable about animals and the environment than on our other walks. There were 4 adults, a couple of males (smaller than females) and at least one female and she had a young cub. It was well before dawn, and flash photography is a big no-no… so no picture, but the cub was small, had it’s eyes open and teeth… I am guessing about 6 weeks or so. When hyenas are cubs they are at their cutest, that is for SURE!

As always…. something… More Later:

Beth

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Point Click Quilt!!!

A few weeks ago; ok maybe a bit longer than that, well now it seems like ages ago… I stopped by IHAN (I Have a Notion) blog, -I have a link on the side bar-… and Kelly was previewing/talking about the NEW book by Susan Brubaker Knapp- POINT CLICK QUILT. A book I would

point-click-quilt

really like to own and everyone stopping by had a chance to win a copy by leaving a comment. So I left a comment and was very surprised to learn that I had won!!!

Then the book finally arrived (remember that the mail takes an additional 2 weeks, (sometimes longer) to get here…. but then I had obligations, cut my hand, and the Internet went out… so I have been remiss in my thanks and post about it.

I love what Susan does with a photograph!!! and I want to do something like what she does with my photographs…. I have been toying with some ideas…. and I need to make it a reality…. but I have a couple of problems:

1- is picking a picture!!!! How do I select one…. do I do a flower, a bug or an animal, one or both of the dogs?  …. I just can’t decide!

2- is painting. I DON’T paint, not walls, not doors and not fabric. It just eludes me, the same way drawing does. So I will have to find another way to add some dimension…. maybe fabric… or more thread…

Anyway…. THANK YOU to Kelly Jackson of IHAN and to Susan Brubaker-Knapp for the book.

 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Happy News!!

After being without Broadband for 3 weeks we are back up!!! Its not that we didn’t have Internet. We, did. It was on an aircard, where you use the wireless phone infrastructure to get online, but it is expensive and in the day and age of graphics…. all pages are slow to load and graphics eat up kilobytes…. which turn into Megabytes, which eat up available online time!!! we paid $75 for 3 weeks of airtime. Of course all that time we were still paying for the ADSL line and the Internet connection service… (It’s not worth trying to get a refund or credit, I’ve tried). We are just happy to be back online!!!!

Before (the loss of Broadband), I had had to restore my computer to a previous point… which of course didn’t go as planned…. so I have some major issues to get worked out too. HOPEFULLY we will stay online long enough to get these fixed! Some how the Windows Updater has been turned off… and I can’t get it back on. I have done searches on Windows and the Internet, and even been to the MS Forums, but so far no help or useful information!!! If you know the problem…. and have found a fix please let me know. (I am running Win7-64 bit).

The last couple of days I have been outside with the camera!!! It is moving into summer now. T-storms will soon be a daily occurrence, starting with today! So what did I see?

Well some birds of course-

cardinal-wpeckers

Cardinal Woodpeckers

flycatcher

and what I believe is a flycatcher,

grasshopper

an itty bitty grasshopper (I think),

butterfly

a butterfly. And some flowers-

rose

a rose

Geranium

and a type of geranium,

A&L

-and my dogs, Axel and Linzy, not the best photo of them….