Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Fair 2017

Ribbons!  It won!  First place and Best of Show!

It won!

I love getting ribbons.

It won!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Finished!!!

TA DAAA!!!

finished hardanger curtain!

I had a marathon stitching day yesterday, and finished the last three stacked diamond sections.  At three hours each, that was a lot of stitching. 

finished hardanger curtain!

Then, even though it was 11:00 pm, I decided to get a start on cutting around the outside edge.  The deadline for Fair entries was looming (5:00 pm today) and even though I had finished the stitching, the looooooong edges were making me nervous.  I figured I could do one or two sides last night as insurance, then finish it off this morning.

Well, once I got going I couldn't stop, and I finished cutting around the whole outside at 2:45 am. I staggered off to bed, and then all I had to do today was wash, press, and attach the clips.

finished hardanger curtain!

I love it.  I love everything about it.

Finished hardanger curtain!

After the fair, I may revisit the idea of putting in holes for the curtain rod instead of using the clips, and I may put in some more lines of cable stitch or other filler in the plain fabric area (or not).  But for now, I really love it just the way it is.

This curtain took most of half a yard of 32-count Belfast linen (finished size is 42" x 16"), 3.5 balls of #8 perle cotton, and 3.5 balls of #12 perle cotton.  Total stitching time was 348 hours.  The needleweaving in the cut areas took all of the past five weeks, and just that part alone took about 160 hours.  This was an intensive push to finish before the fair, and I have the callus on my finger to prove it; this is where I "bounce" the needle back up as I weave the bars.

hardanger needleweaving callus

This is the biggest hardanger piece I've ever made, and I'm so glad I stuck to it.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Cautiously optimistic...

Eight down, four to go.  Two and a half days left...

Cautiously optimistic...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Another Gymnocalycium

I have a second Gymnocalycium blooming now.

Gymnocalycium baldianum

As I mentioned a few days ago, there is a big range in color in this species.  This one is pale, pale pink rather than the deep red of my first one.

Gymnocalycium baldianum

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Four of twelve

I'm one-third done with the stacked diamonds.

hardanger curtain

Eight stacks to go, and cutting around the whole edge.

Five and a half days.  It's gonna be tight.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Streptocarpus

Streptocarpus are pretty plants in the African violet family.  I currently have two hybrids, and both are in bloom right now.

This one is called Lacy Snowflake.

Streptocarpus 'Lacy Snowflake'

And this one doesn't have a name but is very pretty.

Streptocarpus NOID pink

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The zigs are zagged

I finished the zigzag section yesterday!

Getting there...

I also did one of the diamond stacks yesterday and two more today, but no picture of that yet because my phone isn't charged and I'm too tired to wait and I'm going to bed.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Chain reaction

So I was watering my deck plants this morning, as a break from stitching on the hardanger curtain.

As I was putting the hose back on the hanger, I thought I should probably water the strip of garden between the driveway and house as well.  The plants there are lavender and other drought-tolerant plants, but they do appreciate an occasional drink when it's been this hot and dry.  Watering that area reminded me that the four little varieties of sedum that I bought in May would probably appreciate being planted in the ground instead of being left to dry up in their 4" pots forevermore, so I planted those while I was in the area, after pulling a bunch of weeds.

As I was putting the hose back on the hanger, I noticed that my car was still extremely dusty from last week when I had to drive an hour on Forest Service roads to get to a job site.  I had hoped that it would rain this week and wash the dust off for me, but no dice.  So I pulled the car down the driveway a little and hosed it off.

As I was putting the hose back on the hanger after pulling the car back into the carport, I noticed that the front garden beds were looking a little droopy as well, so I set up the west hose and sprinkler to water the main bed, and used the driveway hose to spot-water the rest.

As I was putting the hose back on the hanger, I noticed that the fuchsias on the front porch were droopy because I meant to water them yesterday but forgot.  So I put the hose over the porch wall and watered the fuchsias. 

As I was putting the hose back on the hanger, I noticed that there was an area where watering the driveway bed had splashed dirt up onto the house siding.  So I used the hose to wash the dirt back down to the bed where it belonged.

As I was putting the hose back on the hanger, I noticed that the area of siding around the hose hanger was looking dingy from a couple years of accumulated wind-blown dust and forest fire smoke.

So I used the hose to rinse off those areas. Then the adjacent areas looked dingy by comparison, so I hosed those off as well.  Then the areas adjacent to that looked dingy so I hosed them off.  Then the next bit of adjacent area.  All the way around the house.

Long story short: a quick ten minute break to water my plants on the deck this morning turned into three hours of yard work and washing my entire house.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

So close!

I was stitching along this evening, and as I got close to the end of the zigzag I was working on, I thought to myself, "Wow, after I finish this I'll only have three zigzags to go!"

Then I looked at what I actually have left.

So close!

I only have two zigzags left!

Somehow, there has been a hiccup in the space-time continuum.  I know that there were four zigzags left when I quit at 11:00 pm last night.  I can't have done two zigzags today, because that would be 12 hours, and there aren't that many non-working, non-sleeping hours in my day.

So there are three possibilities:

1.  Wormhole, time vortex, or other hitherto unknown temporal disturbance with associated memory loss that gave me an entire extra day between yesterday and today.  (Unlikely, but if true I wish I could remember how I did it. Extra days on demand would be awesome.)

2.  I stitched in my sleep last night. (Unlikely. Stitching on this fabric requires a bright light, and that would have woken me up.)

3.  I can't count when I'm tired.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Red red red

Today's cactus is Gymnocalycium baldianum.  This species is native to Argentina and can be quite variable in terms of flower color, ranging from deep red to white.

Gymnocalycium baldianum

My plant has beautiful dark reddish-magenta flowers, and it's just gorgeous.  I don't have any other cacti this color.

Gymnocalycium baldianum

The flowers last for 3 to 4 days, but only open fully in bright sunlight.  The close at night, then open again the next day.

So pretty.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

More hardanger curtain progress

I may have seriously underestimated the amount of work left on the curtain.  It's been another week of working on this every day, and I'm only a bit over halfway through the zigzag strip.

Curtain progress

It takes about six hours to do one zigzag, and I have six left.  Then the stacked diamonds.  And then cutting around the whole outside to release the curtain.  (Not to be confused with releasing the kraken.)

Curtain progress

I have 18 days left until the deadline for Fair entries.  Countdown to 5:00 pm on July 30.  I may not make it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My third Masdevallia

Guess what!  I have successfully bloomed another Masdevallia orchid!

Masdevallia Maui Lollipop

This is Masdevallia Maui Lollipop, a hybrid between Masd. Angel Frost and Masd. mendozae. I got this plant in the fall of 2015, and it's been a good grower, especially considering I have it in my north-facing bathroom.  I expect if I found it a sunnier spot it would flower better.

Masdevallia Maui Lollipop

It has such cool tubular flowers.  This one isn't as bright orange as some I've seen pictured, but it's very pretty. This particular flower is a little wonky because it got stuck behind a leaf as it was developing, and I didn't rescue it in time.  Normally they are held slightly taller than the leaves.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Another Mammillaria

This is Mammillaria zeilmanniana, but the white-flowered form this time instead of the pink that I showed before.

Mammillaria zielmanniana, white form

What's interesting about this plant is that it has spination like the pink-flowered Mammillaria zeilmanniana, but flowers like the plumose-spined Mammillaria duwei.

Mammillaria zielmanniana, white form

M. zeilmanniana and M. duwei are both now considered subspecies of M. crinita. When you look at the extremes it's hard to believe that they are the same species, but when you consider the whole gradient of forms, it becomes a little more visible.

Mammillaria crinita

Sunday, July 09, 2017

The last amaryllis, and a roundup

The last amaryllis of the season opened yesterday.  This is Minerva.

Minerva blooming weirdly

Strangely, it looks completely different from how it looked the first time it bloomed in January 2016.

'Minerva' amaryllis. First bloom for me.

Isn't that weird?  Such different flowers from the exact same bulb.  Must be a temperature thing.

So here's the amaryllis roundup for this year.  I had 38 bulbs that flowered, giving me 64 scapes and 259 flowers. I have 11 other bulbs that did not bloom this year, for whatever reason (still too small, travel trauma, etc.).  The flowers on the first bulb opened in September 2016 and bloomed for three weeks, then there was a two month break, and then I had flowers continuously from the first week in December 2016 until mid-July 2017.

It was a lovely display.

2016-2017 amaryllis

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Cactus fireworks

A few days ago, I was in a high state of excitement because I had two cacti that looked like this.

Untitled

Buds!  These are two hybrid Echinopsis cacti, bred by a commercial grower.  The line is called 'Rainbow Bursts', and they are produced by crossing Echinopsis and the cactus formerly named Lobivia (now lumped into Echinopsis). Since there are many lines of this hybrid produced from seed, the flower colors will vary widely between plants and you never know what you're going to get. I have... ummm... several... of these, because each one might be different and I can't resist!

Yesterday, the first one opened.

Echinopsis 'Rainbow Bursts' #1

It is spectacular.

Echinopsis 'Rainbow Bursts' #1

Can you even believe this flower is real?!

Echinopsis 'Rainbow Bursts' #1

Echinopsis 'Rainbow Bursts' #1

Echinopsis 'Rainbow Bursts' #1

Then today, the second one opened.  It's not quite as striking as the first one, but is really beautiful.

Echinopsis 'Rainbow Bursts' #2

Up close you can see that the center of each petal has a stripe of orange blended into the shocking pink.

Echinopsis 'Rainbow Bursts' #2

Echinopsis 'Rainbow Bursts' #2

Echinopsis 'Rainbow Bursts' #2

Echinopsis 'Rainbow Bursts' #2

These plants did not disappoint.  They wildly exceeded my expectations; I was hoping for flowers that weren't plain white, and some striping would be a great bonus.  Both plants nailed it. The only way they could be improved would be to have a fragrance and for the flowers to last more than one day.

I can't wait to see what the rest of my 'Rainbow Bursts' blooms look like.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Tomatoes and potatoes

Today, July 2, we picked our first tomatoes.  Two delicious perfect Sun Gold cherry tomatoes.  These are still in pots on my deck, because I'm a pitiful slacker, but they are producing.

Untitled

I would also like to show our potato tower experiment.

Untitled

Emma and I planted this in the beginning of June, with the seed potato chunks on 6 inches of straw and six inches of topsoil.  As they grew, we filled in with more topsoil and straw around the edges, and the plants have now filled the entire tower and are spilling over the top and poking out the sides.

I don't know what sort of yield we'll get, but we started with one pound of seed potatoes, on sale at the farm supply store for $0.69.  I'm guessing there's going to be a net gain.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

First row

I'm just rocketing along on the curtain now.

hardanger curtain

The first section of cutwork is done, in six and a half days. 

hardanger curtain

My goal was to do one square per day.  Each one takes three and a half hours to cut and weave, so I thought that was a reasonable goal for an evening.  On Saturday, Sunday, and Friday, I was able to do two per day.  That's about another 45 hours in the project total.

Tonight, on to the center zigzag.  I don't know what it's going to look like yet, but I'm sure I'll have fun!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Treasure

I was out on a job site yesterday, and as I was opening a gate to get onto the property, a pair of western kingbirds kicked up a almighty fuss, swooping around and squawking and chittering.

I didn't think much about it, but when they did the same thing at the same spot when I was leaving the property, it made me pause.  They were still swooping around and yelling at me, and alternately perching on the nearest bush. 

Western kingbird

I took a closer look at my surroundings, and spotted this fuzzy clump in the angle of a fence post, safely held in place by the barbed wire cross bracing.

Western kingbird nest on a fencefence

It held treasure.

Western kingbird nest and eggs, on a fence

Four perfect eggs, beautifully speckled with rich mahogany brown.  I snapped a couple pictures and left quickly so I wouldn't stress out the parents any more than I already had.

Seeing eggs in a nest is so special and rare.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Christmas Gift #1

Amaryllis #37 to bloom for the year is Christmas Gift #1, which is the one that was weirdly streaked with pink last year.

It still has some pink again this year...

Christmas Gift amaryllis

...but that's not the weirdest part.  This year, one of the flowers had four of each part, instead of three.

wonky 4-parted Christmas Gift amaryllis

Four petals, four sepals, four lobes on the stigma, and eight anthers instead of six.

This bulb is so confused.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

So pretty

This is one of my prettiest cacti, I think.  This is Mammillaria theresae, native to central Mexico, and is another that is critically endangered in the wild.

Mammillaria theresae

The flowers are a lovely shade of lavender, and are so delicate.

Mammillaria theresae

The spines are plumose, feathery, very soft and pretty.

Mammillaria theresae

The flowers last a couple days, and while there's no scent that I can detect, the display more than makes up for that lack.

Mammillaria theresae

Just lovely.

Mammillaria theresae