Friday, November 20, 2015

For The Birds!

Last month, I wrote in this post about our experience of being landlords to a colony of sparrows. I told how we'd finally taken the time to take all of the birdhouses apart and clean out a couple of years' worth of nest accumulation. I went on to say that when we were finished, I had taken some scraps of batting and put them on the floors of the houses, hoping to provide a soft foundation for the occupants' winter use.

I was proud. I felt virtuous. Not only was His eye on the sparrow, but so was mine!

I was in for a surprise.

They didn't like the batting. They really didn't like the batting.

First we found one of the batts on the ground. We thought I had cut one too many and dropped it. But then we found another. And one day Joe saw the event pictured above: The occupants of that birdhouse were pulling the batt out of the house!

Here it is happening again in the upper level of the duplex.

One sparrow couple worked so hard to get it out, but it got stuck in the door hole and was there for a couple of days.

We intervened. We pulled it the rest of the way out. And then checked to remove the batts from the other houses. We want happy tenants. We didn't know. We were trying to help. We were foolish.

On Monday of this week, all at once, we saw sparrows flying back and forth, hauling dried grasses and things to the door holes. It was time to start their winter nests.

Without any help from the landlords.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Gato Limpio!

Here's the story on this flimsy: 
  • A couple of years ago when the Renegades were off at a quilting retreat, the topic of paper piecing arose. People either did or did not like paper piecing. There wasn't much in the way of middle ground. I declared, "I'd rather give a cat a bath than paper piece."
  • This month, a particularly talented member of our Guild was Queen Bee. She gave each of us some arcs for paper piecing and some fabric for the alternate spokes. We were to add whatever else we wanted. Generous Sarah also gave us additional arcs, as well as patterns for centers and shoulders. She said we could make arcs for ourselves, but please not to share the pattern as yet.
  • I chuckled and tried to think who I could get to do that paper piecing for me and asked all my friends who had dirty cats if they would do it. 
  • Not really.
  • I made Sarah's arcs; they were not only remarkably easy but actually fun!
  • I made more and more arcs. After awhile Joe said, "What are you going to do with all those?"
  • I was stuck for an answer. So he created a design.
  • I bought cerise fabric. I made mylar patterns for centers and arcs.
This weekend was the Guild autumn weekend retreat. I took all of my arcs, my patterns, my white fabric, my cerise, and Joe's design.

And now *Gato Limpio! is a flimsy!

*Clean Cat in Spanish

Saturday, November 07, 2015

A Nice Outing

We drove up to northern New Jersey yesterday and took the ferry to Ellis Island. Neither of us had ever been before, and while I'd thought it would be a nifty outing, we just never got around to it until I learned that my great-niece is doing an internship there this semester. Funny how that became the impetus to take the trip!

We learned a lot. My impression previously was that Ellis Island was a dreadful place where immigrants were mistreated. I learned otherwise.  Yes, of course the sheer numbers of individuals meant that they were managed like cattle. But not mistreated. It was the steamship companies who brought the people via steerage who abused them, causing many to become ill before landing.

The museum/park was so interesting. We like to start with the orientation film. The National Parks do a terrific job with that. Throughout the museum were black-and-white images, information plaques, and artifacts. Joe observed that the dormitory set-up reminded him of the berthing compartment on a Navy ship. One thing that I noticed was in the food area: The menu for the day was posted (including beef stew for the main meal three consecutive days!) and pieces of the china and silver services were shown. Most people were processed within a day; some were hospitalized until they were healthy enough to be admitted, and actually only two percent of the immigrants were rejected and sent back home -- at the expense of the steamship company.

We had a surprisingly tasty lunch with Abby at the cafe on the premises; we caught up with what is going on in her life and her aspirations for the future. She recommended we visit the Tenement Museum in NYC, and I'm already looking for a date to do just that!