Archive | October, 2010

NaNoWriMo Madness

26 Oct

Again, I’m leaping off into the insane . . . at my busiest time of year with the holidays looming and a general sense of malaise filling my days (many teachers feel this way in late October), I’m plunging into madness and signing up to do NaNoWriMo again.

NaNoWriMo participant 2010

The thing is . . . if I don’t do it, I’ll never do it.   I’ve always known I’d be a writer . . . but it’s sort of like winning the lottery . . . you gotta play to win.

So, I’m playing.  This means I’ll be online WAY less — mostly in the evenings for my decompress time.  In the mornings, it’s going to be novel writing time.

I’ll be posting my progress, but not here.  I’ll start using my NaNoWriMo blog again.  You can find it here, assuming your interested, of course.  I’ll try to keep my creative juices flowing here with birds and poems.

Wish me luck.


A little political action . . .

20 Oct

Sandhill Cranes, Yellowstone

I felt so blessed to see these amazing birds in Yellowstone National Park this summer.  Sandhill Cranes are magnificent.  I’d never seen them before this trip.  We spotted a pair in Utah as we drove by at 65 mph.  We couldn’t stop and really look at them.  I was thrilled when Greg spotted this pair out in a meadow as we drove through Yellowstone.  They were pretty far away and I know it’s not a great shot.  I didn’t want to get too close.  I stood by the road and shot to the limits of my telephoto.  But, as any birder knows, you feel a connection to birds you see in the wild and they become, in some way, yours.

So, when I read on 10,000 Birds about Tennessee’s proposed hunting season on Sandhill Cranes, I felt a little sick.  I’m not anti-hunting.  However, I do question what Tennessee has done here.  They planted crops designed to get the Sandhill Cranes to stop in their state during their migration by the thousands and they created a festival around their arrival.  Now, it’s becoming too much somewho and they are proposing cutting back on the feeding and opening a hunting season on them.  Say what?

I have read 10,000 Birds for years and trust them.  I’ve read Julie Zickefoose for years as well and I trust her as well.  Read the article, read the comments, and see if you aren’t moved to write to the state wildlife managers and suggest they not start hunting Sandhill Cranes in Tennessee.

What a crying shame that would be . . .

A new perspective . . .

19 Oct

I’m amazed by the long-lasting effect that our 5 week camping trip has had on me.  I haven’t been able to keep ALL of my positive vibes from the trip but I’m finding myself changed in unexpected ways.

Or is it serendipity that led me to photograph so many quilts that, as I look at them now, make me think of our trip? I doubt it’s coincidence — more likely a change in my perspective.  I found these quilts most inspirational.

Mother of the Forest

Mother of the Forest
© Carolyn Abbott, Sequim, WA

The day we spent on the Olympic Peninsula was truly memorable.  I think that seeing a Raven calling in the snowy forests in July was pretty special but the amazing differences between my temperate rainforests and the ones in Washington state was also memorable.  And, more than the differences, I remember the similarities.  Those forests may not have my glorious redwood trees but what they do have will do in a pinch!  They are very special, very deep and thoughtful forests.  This picture takes me back there.

Natural Wonders
Natural Wonders
© Kathy McNell, Tulalip, WA

When we reached the west coast, we felt that we were nearly home.  I’m sure the folks in Oregon and Washington would prefer NOT to hear that their fair states felt like home to one of those crazy Californians but it’s true.  There is a west coast sensibility and it just works for me.  Beyond that, the landscape started looking familiar.  There are so many amazing spots along the Oregon coast that looked just like this one . . . I can almost smell the sea air.

The Old Barn
The Old Barn
© Jo Baner, Bellingham, WA

To be fair, this does not make me think of Washington state where the artist is from.  To me, this takes me back to Nebraska and South Dakota and the many abandoned barns we saw with thunderclouds looming behind them.  I can almost hear the rumble of distant thunder.

This is Gonna Cost You
This is Gonna Cost You
© Janice W. Hearn, Sisters, OR

This guy has to make a second appearance.  Pelicans are such amazing birds.  I was so glad to see them when we got near the coast again . . . although, I did see a few in Utah and Yellowstone National Park.  Still, this image just screams Oregon coast to me.  Where is the Tillamook cheese and freshly smoked salmon?

Yellow Poppies
Yellow Poppies
© Caroline Sharkey, Australia

Home is California Poppies and while this artist is from Australia, our state flower looks just like these.  Utterly lovely.

Birdwatching in Santa Clara

18 Oct

Every year, I get to go to an amazing quilt show in Santa Clara — the Pacific International Quilt Show.  It’s really inspirational.  Plus, I’m always amazed how many quilts have birds in them.  It’s like dual entertainment!

I am starting with my favorite bird . . . the Raven.  While these trees are all wrong for my Ravens to soar through, it still made me happy to see it.  I love the way Ravens will use the roads to make their own paths through the woods.  I think the artist made a great choice to have the purple fabric mixed with the black fabric for the Ravens’ feathers.

Romping Thru the Woods

Romping Thru the Woods
© Rose Hughes, Signal Hill, CA (45″ x 45″)

I usually don’t take photos of birds that can’t be identified or of barnyard birds . . . there are LOTS of chickens at quilt shows.  However, this Phoenix refused to be ignored.  Wow doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Phoenix Rising

Phoenix Rising
© Jan Pendleton & Lauri Drean (27″ x 27″)

Charley Harper is one of my favorite bird artists.  Check out this amazing homage to his art.

Charley Harper

Charley Harper
© Jane Haworth, Auburn, California

Sometimes the birds are just a small part of the whole.  Loved this pelican though.  There is a closeup below.

Water Quilt

Along the Russian River
© Pointless Sisters Quilt Group, Santa Rosa, CA

Closeup of Pelican from Water Quilt
Closeup of Pelican from Along the Russian River

While we don’t see many of these birds here in California, I loved the bird portraits in this quilt.  Just lovely. 

Birds in the Woods

Birds in the Woods
© Nettie Smith & Linda Hibbert (90″ x 74″)

Another amazing Pelican.  This one made me think about our trip this summer.  Once we hit the coast, we saw lots of pelicans.

This is Gonna Cost You

This is Gonna Cost You
© Janice W. Hearn, Sisters, OR (32″ x 54″)

I’m writing this post on our first rainy day of the season . . . this quilt captures the mood outside perfectly.

Anticipating the Storm

Anticipating the Storm
© Laura Jaszkowski

There is just something about seabirds, isn’t there?

Gull Reflections

Gull Reflections
© Kerby C. Smith & Lura Schwarz Smith, 2009

Evidently, Black Oystercatchers are called Tobies in South Africa.  I loved this quilt!

Save the Tobies

Save the Tobies
© Bettie Van Zyl, South Africa (42″ x 57″)

Gorgeous cranes.  I also love the background.  It’s amazing.

Overberg Cranes

Overberg Cranes
© Caroline Sharkey, Australia (26.5″ x 56.5″)

The quilt below is worth clicking on and looking at the larger version of it.  There is so much life in this quilt.  Absolutely amazing.

Welcome to the Jungle

Welcome to the Jungle
© Betty Busby, Albuquerque, NM (68″ x 54″)
Winner Best of Country, United States, World Quilt Competition

I always enjoy going to quilt shows.  I haven’t made a quilt in about 7 years.  I need to find time in my life for this again.  I loved the way many of the artists combined fiber arts, birds, and photography.  Very inspirational . . .

Wine! Wine! Wine! (with no whine)

17 Oct

Sometimes Greg and I can be slugs . . . by which I mean that we’d rather slug around the house than put any effort into our social lives.  Being content with your life can hold you back.

So, when my friend, Brenda, suggested we do a wine tasting tour together, I jumped at the chance.  We met at Cabrillo College where we and 7 other folks were loaded into a van and took off for a day or learning and tasting. I love wine and I’ve learned a little bit just from living in California and drinking better and better wine but I was really looking forward to learning something about wine.

Regale Winery tasting area

Our first stop was Regale Winery and Vineyards.  This is an absolutely beautiful winery on Old San Jose Road up in the Summit Region of the Santa Cruz Mountains.  They are a new winery and I really liked their wines.  We got to walk into their vines and learn something about wine making and the kinds of things that can make a difference in how wine tastes

I have never been a fan of Chardonnay (or even most white wines, really) but I was pleasantly surprised by a taste test we did.  The class leader opened two bottles of chard — one from California and one from France.  Turns out that I’m not a big fan of California chardonnay but I liked the French one quite a bit.  There are some processes that are used in making wine that produce different flavors.  I prefer a Chardonnay that doesn’t use the Malolactic process.  The French wine had a lighter, sweeter flavor that I much prefer.

Brenda holding the Barbera I bought - YUM

I bought this lovely Barbera  — it was really yummy.  I’m planning to serve it with a great homemade lasagna.  YUM!  Brenda is modeling it for us so that we could taunt Greg with all the fun we were having!

Byington Winery

Next we headed to Byington Vineyard.  It’s another beautiful Santa Cruz winery.  We drive by this one all the time . . . it’s on Bear Creek Road.  We’ve never stopped there.  It was really great.  We took the tour of the vineyard and the wine making area.

Byington's Cave, Brenda Holmes

Here’s Brenda checking out the barrels in the cellar area.

Poetic Cellars

Our last stop was at Poetic Cellars.  This is a tiny winery and a family affair.   The winemaker, Katy Lovell,  was pouring for us.  Her husband writes poems for each wine and then their son sets them to music.  There we were tasting their wines while being serenaded by these gentlemen.  Meanwhile, outside, the winemaker had started up equipment and was backing up the forklift.  It was quite a moment.  She gave us a chance to see some of the work behind the making of delicious wines.  We got to punch down the wine that was starting to ferment.  We got to watch her run a batch of grapes through the crusher/destemmer. It was all very cool!

Poetic winemaker at work

I learned a lot about wines and winemaking.  The tour was through The Santa Cruz Experience.  They do wine-tasting trips and I would totally recommend their services.  I was definitely a little tipsy after all that tasting . . . to have someone else do the driving is a REALLY good idea!

Overload . . .

6 Oct

Tail end of the harvest moon

The sky holds my peace.
Moon and stars and birds and blue
Fall into the sky

All content written by Liza Lee Miller unless otherwise noted.
© 2010, Liza Lee Miller. Creative Commons License