Sunday, 27 May 2018

Sea Turtle False Crawls & Nests

Image may contain: sky, ocean, outdoor, nature and waterAbove a crawl on St Pete Beach - picture courtesy of Sea Turtle Trackers.

For Sea Turtle die hards, click for a video of another long and very unusual false crawl across man-made structures - no she didn't make a nest/lay eggs that night in May 2018; thanks to Kim for taking the video. As of yesterday  nests on St Pete Beach and 6 on Shell Key.  eason has started!

And we are happy to report our first next outside our own condo further up the beach! Yipee! And thanks to Mary/Diane for the photo.  Remember leave the beach clean, flat, dark - no lights to be shined at nesting mammas or anywhere near a nest!

We are now under a Tropical Storm Warning with coastal flooding expected, so let's hope  Alberto doesn't wash over any of our nests.

UPDATE:  Looks like the nest was spared . . . although hard to tell if the water seeped in underneath the top layer of sand ... only time will tell for sure --
Thanks to Kathy for this picture

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Come Along on Morning Turtle Patrol

If you are not familiar with Re-nourishment, it means pumping sand from the sea back onto eroded beaches to keep them 'whole' or grow the beach. We have groynes so don't re-nourish our beach, but they do to the north and south of us.

There is a big project, delayed by Hurricane Irma, which sadly is about to start now.  As the re-nourishment process is very disruptive to the beach, it is not helpful during turtle nesting season.  The boats arrived this past week to start the process just as nesting begins.

Here's a prime example we see on our morning turtle patrol (it is early morning so the sun has not yet blessed the beach or these pictures!)
Ugly yellow - and ineffective - inflatable groynes are being removed

and replaced with these rock structures - will it work
to protect the beach and hold the sand???
Further down the beach are happier sights - the  Skimmer birds gathering to form their nesting colony - we have to drive carefully around them to avoid any disturbance!
Sea Turtle Tracker truck (it carries our supplies)
avoiding the skimmers

Aren't they lovely? Here's a skimmer actually 'skimming' for food at the water's edge.

We are on turtle patrol with the Sea Turtle Trackers. Driving on sand can be a bit like driving on snow.

No turtle nests yet . . . but they are nesting just south of us and many have been spotted just offshore. Local Gulf water temperature is about 75 F today, we need to reach 80 F and they will be nesting.
If you are really lucky and eagle-eyed you will see some frisky dolphin behaviour of which we have had plenty this Spring, ably captured here by Ann Weaver who studies our local dolphin population.

Sunday, 22 April 2018


Hubby on patrol
It's that turtle time of year; today and yesterday (4/21) were our first days out on morning patrol; no live turtles or nests yet just this friend ----------->

But we know the loggerheads are in the bay and gulf just offshore --

Sea temperature is 22C/72F, so a little bit warmer and the females will be nesting on our beaches.

Thank you for this loggerhead photo Hubbard's Marina.

<--We have 99% loggerheads on our coast, and excitedly . . .

several leatherbacks, an endangered species, were spotted a few miles offshore yesterday! Watch the leatherback video here.

Looking skyward, what should mini me see .. but a helicopter with sea legs! First time to spot one of these flying above our beach.

Turtling, as mini me calls it, was a good way to celebrate Earth Day, along with helping out at the Sea Turtle Trackers booth at the community event.
You may recall I wrote about 'bird mobbing' last May 20 (with video) - well the blackbird and the Great Blue Heron are at it again! We heard a loud heron clacking noise  which drew us out onto our balcony to see what was going on.

Back to people, we just avoided a recall election of two city commissioners here in our beach community as

decided by judicial decree  - only in the nick of time as the ballots had already been mailed out.

I had never seen a recall ballot before and if you haven't here's what it looks like. Yup it is an old fashioned paper ballot with no possibility of hanging chads!

Just finished a table runner I salvaged from my Quilt First, Then Construct class at the March Lakeland Sewing & Quilt Expo. In between turtling this week, friends and I will be stuffing pillows for the local children's hospital dialysis unit. Then back to making a basket or
two . . .hope to make a turtle shaped one some day!
Quirkies - -recognize the focal squares?

Friday, 13 April 2018

Mini Me on Adventure & almost eaten . . .

Mini Me hasn't appeared in this blog for awhile so as she ventured out to North Carolina recently, she wanted to share. Mini Me found the big world a bit dangerous. . .
(this dog's nose is just the 
right height to access the table!)

domestic pets to navigate ---

not to mention equipment . . .

chores to perform too!

flower boxes to plant for spring

First we tramped through the woods to mark the property lines - an afternoon of fun & delight!

Next deer to feed and photograph
very big and scary from mini me's point of view
hard work moving all this deer corn

Lots of time spent . . . no not quilting sadly (but did have time to test out the 60 year old solid metal sewing machine)  . .  .

. . . but ancestry hunting through old boxes of photos and scrapbooks uncovering lots of new bits of information.

can you spot mini me?
Hubby rented this BIG pick-up to get back to the airport - even I found the tires came up to my waist!

and back to Florida, straight to the Appreciation lunch for us Ombudsmen - what a T-shirt hey?

And what should my eyes see today on the beach, but . . . a lady swimming in the salt water whilst talking on her iphone!  Go figure.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Florida Ridge Scent of Orange Blossom & Quilts

United States Geological Survey
Whilst at the Sewing & Quilt Expo in Lakeland we took a detour to explore the Ridge Scenic Byway (State Route 17) atop the Florida Ridge (aka The Lake Wales Ridge or Mid-Florida Ridge) pictured at left.

The Florida Ridge is formed from the remnants of ancient sand islands, all that stood above the water line when most of Florida was covered by seas millions of years ago. This ridge is approximately 150 miles long running down the center of what is today Florida and rising to 312 feet - the highest point in the state. Bok Tower is a well known landmark on the sandy white ridge as are the orange groves an early 20th century import.

We spotted lots of fun (or funny) sights including the official state highway sign point out 'GPS INCORRECT' and 'HILL BLOCKS VIEW.'
sandy orange groves

The orange groves were just in the last throes of blossom and the smell orange blossom perfume is heavenly - something one cannot describe, but you must experience yourself! The groves were full of bee hives peppered with estates of mobile homes and cattle grazing. Of course we had to stop at the fruit stand and buy local oranges and strawberries - the season here being a bit earlier than in England!

Ridge Orange Groves Stand
Located on the ridge, the city of Frostproof's name is a misnomer and a sales gimmick, as frost arrived soon after its founding in the 1800s.  We stumbled across Southeastern University near Lakeland - a total surprise to me in this otherwise rural landscape.

Here's a bit of local art and old Florida sights -

The $15K EPIC machine
fun in the classroom, but too $$ for me
EPIC 'output'
Back to the quilting expo, I took a few classes -- practiced free motion, tried out a new machine, and did a Quilt First then Construct class (different from strip quilt as you go process) with Helene Weber.

Quilt First then construct teacher's example

few people asked for the instructions, so here goes:  To Quilt First then Construct, make your blocks, quilt (with batting and backing in place) and trim to all are exactly the same size.  My Quirky Quilter friends will recognize some of the fabric . . . 

Cut strips for the connecting pieces between the blocks - 2.5 inches wide for the front and 1 inch for the back.

1. Fold the 2.5 inch strip in half lengthwise (like a binding) and pin the raw edges to the raw edge of the block on the top/front.  Then pin the 1 inch strip (no folding!) to the back, right sides together. Attach both strips at once using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.


2. Press the 1 inch backing strip forward/outward and pin to  the 
next/adjoining block you want to connect.  Pin right sides together again and sew a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

#3 finished
 3.  Now lay out the front such that the two blocks are butting up against one another.  Iron the folded 2.5 inch strip over across the join and top stitch down.  

Voila! This picture shows the back of the two joined blocks.

Do this as many times as necessary to join all the blocks, the quilt the connectors if desired and bind the quilt. Easy if you sew an exacting 1/4 seam!

For details watch YouTube video:
How to Connect Quilted Blocks - Beginner Quilt as You Go tutorial with Leah Day.

And here's my favourite quilt of the show . . .

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Birthdays, Baskets or ??

With a cold and wet winter in Florida, it was time to finish off projects and get up to speed with the Basketmakers Guild.

This Cane Trivet was a bit fiddly to say the least, but voila!

Even more fiddly was the Cloverleaf basket . . .

I persevered . . . but . . .

it didn't turned out quite as planned (see post of 29th January 2018).

but here it is . . .

love my yarn bowl from friend Jan
Somewhat more straight forward was the basket guild's February project - a Tapestry basket woven around a mould.

Sure hope my quirky friends enjoy these weaving projects!

Just as I was finishing up these baskets what should appear on the beach, but ...

<-- This!  Is it a basket washed ashore ... or ??No, it is a natural hollow sponge in the shape of a basket! Always a surprise on the beach!!

And more fun was making a gift for a London quilting friend and lover of purple - a trio of crocheted hanging baskets - in purple of course!

March's basket making challenge is a fish! Below is my friend,Jan's fish - given as a sample at our Saturday meeting.  Mine didn't quite turn out like this!

Jan's Fish
Mini Me's fish

Next some fun with a table runner that was a birthday gift from mom. Lakeland quilt expo classes didn't help with the quilting, but mini me is trying to get on with it.

Meanwhile Swimmy the sea turtle is on the lookout for his friends, soon to start nesting on our beaches . . .

and finally made a liner and handle cover for that Market Basket (posted on 1 Jan 2018)!!

Look what washed up in the stormy seas!