Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saga of the Snapping Turtle

You know from reading this Blog that we have this pond on our property that attracts all sorts of wildlife.  And we love it.  There's lots of action, and you can read about our feisty little hawk HERE and Geese with Bad Behavior HERE.

Most of the time, it is a beautiful preserve for us to enjoy:

Like watching these wild Pond Lilies bloom every morning, and close up in the evening.

However.  For the better part of 10 years, we've suffered (along with our fish) a reclusive inhabitant who resides in the murky bottom and slaughters baby ducks and geese, our fish, and anything else he decides looks toothsome enough to eat.  Occasionally, he surfaces and scares us half to death with his evil looking beak and enormous head.  Years ago, we identified him as a Snapping Turtle, and research told us we HAD to get him out of the pond or he would kill everything.  Easier said than done.

He has provided my Husband with years and years of hunting activity...and on Thursday night, after the longest hunt in history, Husband snagged him with his innovative bait/trap, and we were able to man/woman-handle him into a big garbage can.

Check out the claws, the beak, and the horns on his tail...those yellow spurs tucked around his rear end!

We performed High Fives all over the yard.
And Whooped and Hollered.
Our pond critters were Safe At Last!

We loaded him into the truck and traveled some distance away to release him into an active creek.  He was mad as hell by the time we drug the can through the woods to the creek:

There is a bank in front of him, and he raced right toward it and tumbled down to the bottom rather than just climbing down.  Things were moving pretty fast here, as you can see by the camera blur.
He immediately took off for the water in a huff:

Take a look at that horned tail...can you believe this prehistoric creature was in our idyllic little pond??
He moved with great purpose toward the creek, and just dove in...

He was moving VERY fast at this point.
As soon as he got into deeper water, he paused in a little area and positioned himself so that he could look at us...which was just unnerving.

He is looking straight at us.  Scary.
We had to delay dinner for awhile to have celebratory drinks on the deck.

We emailed friends and family, who cheered our success, and congratulated us on having our peaceful pond back again...we discussed how to re-stock the pond.  I thought ahead to next Spring and a batch of wild baby Wood Ducks that didn't get eaten up by a vicious prehistoric monster.

And then this morning, when Husband went out to check the pump that aerates the pond, that same evil head popped up out of the water, and pinned him with the kind of glare that says, "You Are Now Officially On My S--t List, you idiot."  Same turtle, just tired and hungry.  And mad.  Mad.   

I checked the Snapping Turtle website and it says in fine print that after you have managed to trap your troublesome tenant, you're supposed to take it at least 10 miles away.  That is twice the height of Mt. Everest.

Back to the hunt.

News Flash!! News Flash!!

It wasn't the same turtle!  I think it is his wife!  I was just getting ready to publish this Post, when I heard Husband shout out to come and help.  I ran down to the pond and positioned my garbage can, while Husband manned the line and rake.  We're getting to be pros at this!

Here she is - smaller but even more furious than her mate:

She was Hissing at us, nonstop.

I declined to attend the release this time so that I could finish this post and get it published.  Do you think our pond is safe, NOW?

Please let that be the last one - Please?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Coffee Design Fabric Contest Open for Voting

Just a quickie - thanks so much to all of you who voted for my "Fishie Coral"  entry in the  Spoonflower Fabrics  design contest in June: 

Although I wasn't in the top 10, I was thrilled to place in the top 50 - not bad for a first time entry - thanks to all of you!

Now the Coffee Design fabric contest is open for voting - the rules were harder, as you could only use three colors - here's my entry:

A Cuppa Caffe'

You can view all the designs from the many talented fabric artists out there by clicking on this link:  Vote for Coffee Design Favorite.

The Coffee Fabric Design Contest ends August 4, so I hope you'll cruise on over and vote!  Next subject in the Fabric Design Contest......SHARKS!  Now THAT will be a toughie, but I'm on it!

Rocky Mountain Flowers and Adobe Illustrator CS5

Here we are, back down close to sea level.  I miss the mountains and their clear air and astonishing vistas.

 Summer River running through Breckenridge.

 And I miss the Rocky Mountain Flowers that were bursting with brilliance and juicy with moisture.  Since I didn't take my Nikon (spur-of-the-moment-trip, you know) I had to settle once more with taking photos with my Iphone.  Which didn't do too bad.  Take a look:

Just look at the Juice in those Pansies!  Yumm.
Here's a group of very buttoned-down Daisies, with their white gloves on, hats tilted just right, and looking like they just stepped out of a Band Box:

All is right in their Daisy World.
Everywhere you looked, there were flowers.  Everywhere.  I took dozens of photos - how could you not??  What a library to work from for future designs...the colors are already worked out, and the shapes are divine.

The Hanging Baskets were great, because the flowers were looking down at you as you passed underneath.

If you take these shapes and colors, and reduce them to lines...Paths in Illustrator...then the sky is the limit for what you can do with the resulting shapes.

These Lupines were glorious - so happy in the cool Rocky Mountain air that they looked luminous.
So, back to work and the work is truly cut out for me now.  Realizing that it would take me months and months to figure out the vector tools in Adobe Illustrator CS5, I went online and started searching for local classes that I could attend.  And, I discovered a tutoring service, called WyzAnt.  There are tutors for Everthing - and they will usually come to your home.  The best part is, they are under $50.00 per hour, and you can get discount packages.

This afternoon, my new Adobe Illustrator CS5 tutor is coming to the studio to help me get my head around vector graphics instead of the raster images I'm so used to working with in Photoshop.  We'll see how far we get today.

Pansies Images Underway!

Rocky Mountain Sunset
I'll give you a full tutoring report tomorrow - if I can learn Adobe Illustrator CS5 in the comfort of my own home without breaking the bank, well - then - is this a marvelous world or what?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Colorado Rocky Mountains in the Summer

How amazing is This?  My Husband drug me off to the Colorado Rocky Mountains...told me he had booked the flight, so find us a hotel.  And by golly, I did.  Can you believe this view?

This is the view from the Keystone Lodge upper balcony - and where we escaped to for a few days.  You simply cannot believe how gorgeous the Colorado Rocky Mountains are in the Summer!
 Although the sun is hot and brilliant (we are two miles closer to the sun than normal), in the shade it is chilly when the breeze stirs.  And last night, it was in the lower 40's!  How lovely is THAT?

We played on the mountain at Breckenridge Ski Resort today, and here are some shots of people doing what we did - we couldn't take pictures of ourselves, because the rides were too fast and furious.

This was a screaming fast ride that went on and on, down the slopes at Breckenridge.  From the top, where we boarded this sled, we could see all the Rocky Mountains around us.  It was sort of like the Olympic Luge, only not laying down.
 And here is a shot of the downhill Coaster, which made both of us scream and grab the brakes of our respective vehicles:

This was a blast, but was over 'way too fast, because the darn thing went about 80 miles an hour from the top of a slope and almost straight downhill.  Some loop the loops in the middle of the run, where I left my stomach and heart.
 Here's another shot - I never imagined last week that I would be piloting a roller coaster car down the slopes of the Rocky Mountains this week.  Just goes to show you - never get too comfortable in the quietness of the studio - an antsy-pantsy Husband can yank you right out of there!

Tonight, we're eating at the Snake River Saloon...this could get really interesting!

You seriously cannot do better than a get-away to the Colorado mountains in the Summer - do it!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

New Fabric Pattern - A Cuppa Caffe' for the Fabric Contest

This speedy new computer just flew for me today, and the design for the Spoonflower "Coffee" contest is finished - but in three colours only - that's the rule!

Here's the one I entered in the Contest:

I designed a couple of other colorways, just to see if I liked them or not, but the Blue & Tan won out-

I love Red, White and Black together, but can't see this in practical application.

Here's the last one:

This ran a close second for me, but I'm not sure how many people would want a Pea-Green Coffee Bean in their Decor...
The contest voting opens around the end of next week - I do hope you will visit Spoonflower Fabric Printing and vote for your fave!

How My Pomegranate Book Cost Me A Thousand Dollars

All Rightee Then.  When I finished writing about my zippy new Book Binding skills, I was heading into the "Pomegranate Book" at the end of that post.

The Pomegranate Book covers...before I looked closely.

That was before Arthritis hit with a vengeance, and I was out of action for days and days.  When I finally eased back into the studio again and picked up the ready-to-go Pomegranate Book covers and started to work with them, it became VERY apparent that the black toner didn't cover the paper evenly.  So I turned the paper around, re-printed...and then re-calibrated and re-printed...and so on and on.  I simply could not get a solid layer of black.  Period.

You probably don't know this, but ALL of the stationery, note-pads, catalogs, store signs, hang tags, and Shopping Bag labels for Lula Belle Tassels and Tideline Fabrics were printed on my trusty old HP4500 Color Laserjet printer, that is now about 12 years old.  Thousands and thousands of items printed by this old guy:

I bought this printer in 1999!  Still works pretty good, if you don't mind lots of cuddling and maintenance.  Which I don't.  We have become true-blue friends, and work equally hard in the studio.

He is so old that I have to search out spare parts from  Second Chance Industries on Ebay.  Great bunch of guys down there, who cheer me on for keeping him up and running. 

Considering his age, and the service he has given me, I decided while on the long drive back to Atlanta to quit pushing him so hard and start easing him into retirement.  (He doesn't know this yet.)  Like thoroughbred horses put out to pasture:

Image courtesy of American Farriers Journal
Quietly, I started the search for a new printer, and after days and days of shopping, trial runs, and a very knowledgeable technician at Printer Showcase, I realized that although the new laser printers are fast and efficient, they won't handle the heavy, textured cardstock I like to use - they don't lay down enough toner, and they don't "mash" the toner into the paper like my old guy.  The only one I found was the Xerox 6280:

That image looks great coming out of the printer, but it cost about 24 cents to print!!

Great quality, but far too expensive for production runs.  I tested OKI, Ricoh,  Kyocera, HP, and Xerox, and was interested to see the really different print quality coming out of each of them.  And was further intrigued by the incredible range of "set-up" properties offered for each print job.  Most offered 2 or more printing platforms, but the printer that had the widest range of possibilities within my budget was the Ricoh 430dn.  It won't print on textured cardstock, but does print everything else beautifully, for less than .05 cents per page.  So, One Thousand Dollars later, I have a new printer on the way.

All because I loved my Pomegranate Book Design too much to give up, and because I secretly love a pure black background for images.  Thanks to Scot over at Printer Showcase in Marietta for spending the better part of two afternoons working on my needs and running all my test prints to get Just the Right Printer to take the load off my old guy.  Who will still do my textured printing, only not black.

So now, while I wait for my new printer, I'm going to work on the next Fabric Design Contest at Spoonflower Printing!


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Treating Arthritis with Sean Lennon, Salmon, and Randy Travis

So.  I am having this stupid arthritis FLARE for a couple of weeks now, and cannot get control of it.  My body is sooo fatigued, and all I want to do is sleep.  Meantime, there are books to make, fabric to design, and sewing to do.  And I can't.  There are windows of time when everything feels okay, and so I go at it...and then crash, boom.

Fighting Arthur is like a video game.  There are rules, but every rule has a secret sub-rule, and sometimes more than one.  What you have to do in order to win is to unravel all the sub-rules, and balance your counter-attack with very, very fine maneuvers.  Like following a rigorous diet of low animal protein, no acid, no dairy, low salt and sugar, no nightshade veggies, and lots of PH balanced water and freshly made Ginger Tea.  Hard to do for an extended period of time.  But, I get to eat lots of Salmon, Papaya, Avocado, and Quinoa meals:
Photo courtesy of Ginny Hong Blogspot

The worst part is, you have to budget the energy expended for any physical activity, which is even harder for me to do.  When I start feeling better, I am ready to Rock 'N Roll to make up for lost days, and that's where I mess up, every time.  Then the game has to start over, from scratch.

So today, I'm being still and browsing some of my favorite Blogs, so that I won't mess up and get too active.  I found this wonderful video of Sean Lennon and his lovely girlfriend, Charlotte Muhl, which made my day...

NPR interviewed them in their Music Offices, and recorded the session in a Tiny Desk can watch it, and listen to their music here

Other lovely finds on this day of Forced (Grrr!) Quiet were the Blogs of Greige Design, which I spent the better part of an hour happily browsing through, and French Essence, which I just adore, and will visit often.

Photos courtesy of Greige Design and French Accents.

Now.  Doesn't that make you feel good?  Even with Arthritis?  If not, there was one final treat from Husband last night...

Randy Travis, live at the Cobb Energy Center Auditorium!
He sang "Digging Up Bones", just for me and Arthur.  And made me feel better.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Beach Cottage Bookbinding Studio

While we were waiting for Baby Blakely to arrive, I have been busy figuring out how to use all my new Bookbinding tools, and I think I finally have a good start on the process.  

The Beach Cottage studio is a mess, with Book Parts laying around everwhere:

These are some of the patterns I am going to make fabric out for Books, too!

My first Book was okay, but not exactly even from front to back cover:

This Mango image is meant to be printed on Linen and framed under glass...time to get it done, now that I see it again.  It took me weeks and weeks to create this image - and I just forgot about it!

Living at the Beach, I'm partial to Coastal and underwater images...and my all-time favorites are images of Coral Branches and Sea Fans.  So I designed the following image over a year ago, and it was the first one I experimented with by having Spoonflower print it up for me:

Gluing up the Book Covers is agonizing.  Pure T.   But I am pleased with the finished look.

Once I finally got happy with the front and back Book Covers, I was off to the races, and started assembling:

Don't you think this would make beautiful fabric for a Lula Belle Handbag??  Or Wallpaper for a Beach Cottage accent wall??  Or how about Gift Wrap??  I started with the Coral image, then put it in repeat with other components to make the pages.  You can visit my post on making a Pattern Repeat to see how to do this.

The inside pages are lined and blank, meant for journaling or note jots:

And, here is the back cover:

All Done!

Next up, the Pomegranate Book - but that will be after I go see Baby Blakely again.

I think it's time to get the sewing machine cranked up and Sew "Stuff" to these Book Covers; and layer them up - what do you think?

Our Miraculous New Baby Girl

After nine long months, our newest beautiful Grandchild was born just before 6:00 AM yesterday.  Baby Girl Blakely has been happily snoozing away in her Mom's tummy for weeks on end, and we thought she would never come out to meet us.  

With only a little prodding from the doctor, she decided to wake up and join the rest of the world a little faster than anyone expected after that long wait - so there was some pandemonium in the hospital halls as everyone raced to catch her before she jumped out on her own.

She was alert and ready to go, since her Mom never got any drugs to help her with the labor and delivery, and looked everyone straight in the eye to put us on notice that she intends to make her mark in this family right quick.

So with a little help from me, here is her first Blog:

Hello everyone out name is Blakely.  I am pretty new at this, but I know I'll catch on quick.  First of all, I want you to meet my beautiful Mommy:

Don't you think she looks like me?
She thinks I may wind up being a Volleyball star, but we'll see...Dad is all for anything I do, but he's already told me that he's going to teach me how to fish so that I'll be Lady Angler of the Year in about 18 years.

This is my Grandpa and my cousin Caroline...she is so smart, so beautiful - and she's going to teach me how to do all the stuff she knows how to do. I can tell that she likes me already...and my Grandpa has already told me I can have anything I want - anything!

I think I'll ask for a new Jaguar and a cell phone.

I got pretty hungry while all the adults were taking pictures and talking about me and my snappy little entrance, so my Mimi helped me out a little bit...

She's my Mommy's Mom, so she already knows how to do this stuff.

This is my first day, and I've been through a lot.  I'm getting sleepy now.

So, I think I will take a little nap...I've got the rest of my life to tell you more about me, so there's no hurry right this minute... 

G'night, all.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Orange Accents At the Beach!

I've been in an Orange Mood lately, and I just had to share these photos with you - they have really jazzed me up for the weekend stint in the Studio! 

Just look at this palette!  It is pure genius.
 Lauren Guarcello, of Porter Design Company, did this room for the Stately Homes by the Sea Showhouse.  Here's another look:

For some, the walls may seem too dark...but look -  the white bedding just lifts it right up.
 These gorgeous photos are courtesy of Peter Rymwid, and were posted by Kerri, a talented artist at Driftwood interiors in Brisbane, Australia.  She was tapped to create these paintings to co-ordinate with the room:

Now, doesn't this just make you want to go Crisp Up a room by throwing some Orange in it?
Look out, thought you had escaped!


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