Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Different Baby News

baby bird on the way
The other day I went to water the hanging begonia in the backyard, and something flew out and hit my shoulder. I'm sure the neighbors heard my startled shout! When I peered in the plant, I saw the brown speckled egg inside. I haven't been able to determine whether there are any additional eggs in there or not as I don't want to disturb the nest. 

I've yet to get a close look at the momma bird. Looking at bird egg photos online, it looks like it could be a wren. But many birds lay eggs with brown spots. Hopefully I'll get a better look at the bird. Now when I water the plant I go to the opposite side of the pot and slowly water. She's flown out one other time, but at least I'm not in the line of fire when I do that.

In other bird news, this morning I was watering my planters out front and heard some blackbirds calling out. One flew to the top of the small street tree across from us. Just like that a mockingbird let out a cry and took on the blackbird. Apparently protecting a nest, she was quickly joined by her partner, and together they chased those blackbirds right out of their area. It was something to see!

Speaking of mornings, this was yesterday's sunrise. We are so blessed to live here.

sunrise over Mountain Island Lake

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Golden Oldies Pickleball

pickleball social
We play pickleball quite frequently, sometimes a couple times a week in our community and a day or two a week elsewhere in the Charlotte area. This game has changed a lot since becoming the fastest growing sport in America. Most notably is the number of younger players getting caught up in the game. While this is great for the sport, it is not also so good for the older folks when playing in leagues or tournaments. Even the "senior" divisions are listed as ages 50+.

Despite the fact that I am in good shape for my age and pretty fast on the court, I do not have the athleticism of someone a couple decades younger than me. I am not looking to make excuses, just stating a fact. After talking with some players that I met from another 55+ community, we decided to meet to see if we could do a joint social pickleball event between our two communities.

We pulled together a fun night of play, mixing our players with theirs in a round robin format. We held it at their community because they have six courts plus a restaurant and bar. We had 90 total players register, and it was a blast. While there was downtime between games, no one seemed bothered by this. They used the time to get to know they other players in their foursome. At the end of the evening, the two clubs purchased pizzas and cheesy bread for the players, and we hung out for a couple of hours swapping pickleball stories. It was a great experience, and one we hope to repeat!

Sunday, June 19, 2022

High Country Getaway

Blue Ridge Parkway
The Charlotte area had some record-breaking heat last week, so we decided to escape to the North Carolina high country for a couple of days. Encompassing seven counties in the northern part of the state, the high country is typically much cooler than the counties down south.

We left Thursday morning, driving straight to our first destination. Craggy Gardens, located on the Blue Ridge Parkway and part of the National Park Service, is known for its abundance of rhododendrons. Peak season at this altitude of 5,860 feet is mid-June, so our timing was perfect. While it was a bit overcast when we arrived, the cloud cover did clear as we hiked the area. The low 70s temperature was a delight after the high heat and humidity we had left behind.

Nearby the Craggy Gardens is Mount Mitchell. That was the next stop on our itinerary. At 6,684 feet, it is the highest peak east of the Mississippi River. Established in 1915, the 4,789-acres became the first state park in North Carolina. Unfortunately the peak was shrouded in clouds the day of our visit, so visibility was nil. 

We spent the night in the Linville Falls community at an old lodge. While it was quaint, clean and beautifully maintained, it had no WiFi to speak of and we had zero cell service. It also had no air conditioning in the rooms. While that might not be a problem normally, the humidity was extremely high and the room was sticky. With its location between two highways, leaving the windows open at night was not an option. Suffice it to say, neither one of us slept well that night.

The next morning we made the short drive down the highway to Linville Falls. While we have hiked in this park before, this time we practically had the place to ourselves. That was a refreshing change from our last hike where Covid brought everyone and their brother out into nature. It was a lovely way to spend the morning. We grabbed lunch in Morganton before heading home. It was a short but very nice change of pace for us.

Craggy Gardens, Blue Ridge Pkwy, Linville Falls

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

And Baby Makes Three

A dear cousin of mine and his wife just had their first baby a few months ago. I had been invited to a baby shower for them, and I had made a baby quilt as a gift. Unfortunately the shower had to be canceled due to Covid. They do not live anywhere near me, so I was holding on to the quilt, hoping we could meet up somewhere. I wanted to give the present in person, especially once the baby girl had been born. I was dying to see them, and get my hands on that sweet baby.

But the timing just didn't work out right, and I ended up putting the quilt in the mail to them. I didn't want the baby to outgrow the quilt before they even got it - ha! They seemed to appreciate the gift, and I am hoping they will email me a picture of the baby laying on the quilt. That will have to suffice for the moment.

This is the first baby quilt I have made since we moved to Charlotte. I've used my sewing machine for other projects such as face masks, a Christmas tree skirt and a table runner, but not for the more traditional quilts. I selected flannel as the fabric, and I had never worked with it before. It wasn't too bad to handle until I got ready to quilt the top to the bottom. I do that on my sewing machine, and the fabric gave me fits. I had used large squares of the fabric from the front on the back, so maybe you just don't want to have flannel on the back as well as the front of a quilt?

It kept sliding, creating a bit of a mess on the back of the quilt. That is not something you want to have happen, particularly on a gift. I was able to somewhat work around the issue, but that may be the first and last time I use flannel in a sewing project. Or at least one that will be quilted. It turned out pretty cute anyway, I think.

quilt front and back

Monday, June 13, 2022

Under Construction

front porch
We are halfway (maybe) through a construction project at our house. I never really thought that we would do so much work on a brand new home, but I guess there are always things you wish were different. Going through a builder in a new development, we had very few options for customization.

Our screen porch off the living area had a footprint with both pros and cons. On the pro side, the porch was enclosed on three sides by the house. It was secluded and very private. However, it was not very large at all. If you had more than 4 or 5 people in the space, it felt crowded. Plus the design meant that the air did not circulate in the porch. We decided to extend the porch out to the end of our bedroom so that we would be able to accommodate more people as well as a bistro table and two chairs for dining while looking out at the lake. We also wanted to add porcelain tile over the concrete pad in the porch as well as the front porch to give those areas a more finished look.

At the same time, the contractor was to take out the two windows in the living room, replacing them with a sliding door opening to the porch. This would also allow us to see the lake from the living room while sitting on the sofa, and also let more light into the room. The screen porch was completed last Thursday, but unfortunately the sliding door has been delayed until late June. That is too bad because it would have been nice to get all the messy work done at the same time.

screen porch before and after

We are really pleased with how the front porch and the screen porch turned out. We are in the process of deciding what furniture arrangement works in the rear space, which is a little tricky since the sliding door is not in yet. We would like to keep the wicker furniture we have out there as it is Lloyd Flanders and is good quality. But we may order new cushions as the ones we have are 15 years old. Lots of decisions to make, but that's all part of the fun!

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Floating Away

Saturday ten of us from the neighborhood took our kayaks out on Mountain Island Lake for a few hours. The temperature was perfect, and there wasn't too much wind - at least when we set out. The water was high enough that we were able to go back into a little tributary off the main lake. Back in that area you can usually see a lot of different birds. We didn't see a great variety, but there were plenty of blue herons. I didn't have my big camera with me, so I wasn't able to capture them. There was one large water bird that I am still trying to identify. It was similar to a heron, but it was black and white and had a scruffier chest covering. Since I only have a cell phone photo of the bird, I am not having much success.

I call myself a piddler paddler since I like to take my time and really look for wildlife. I was happy that Saturday's group seemed to be of the same mind. It was a nice, relaxing trip on the water. When we got ready to head back in, the wind had picked up. It was a challenge to cross the main channel, especially with all the motorized boats out on the water. But we all made it back safe and sound. I love living here!

Mountain Island Lake