Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My Lunch Buddy

I am very fortunate to work less than 10 minutes from my house. At lunchtime, I come back home to eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, listen to the noon news and take a quick look at the new posts in my blog lists.

For the past five days, the red-bellied woodpecker has shown up exactly at noon to feed at the tube feeder (an aside - while the downy woodpeckers have found the suet cakes, either it is not to the red-bellied woodpecker's liking or he just still hasn't discovered it). And now that I have set up a table feeder, he's feeding there, much to the surprise of a male cardinal.

I actually hung up on my mother to take the following shots:

Thank goodness, she's my mother and understands the need to take a good snapshot when the opportunity presents itself.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dark-eyed Junco

Sometimes I feel as though I don’t have an original thought in my brain. I see something really interesting on someone else’s blog and I have to do the same. Case in point, Jane at Small But Charming redid her blog header. And I liked it so much; I had to change mine, too. Monkey see, monkey do.

The little bird on the redbud tree is a Dark-eyed Junco. They, too, are sparrows like my Song and Savannah sparrows who come to the feeders (the LBJ’s), but these little sparrows only come when the weather turns cold. They breed in the coniferous forests of Canada and the mountains of the Northeast US in the summer. This is also one of the earliest times I’ve had juncos at the feeders. I generally don’t see them until the end of the year or so. Hopefully this isn’t a portent of a difficult winter ahead.

These are some of the most difficult birds to photograph. They are constantly in motion, hopping furiously from one place to another before I can get the camera focused in on them. Unlike the mourning dove that seems to love to pose, I get more snapshots of empty spaces where they used to be than useable pictures to post to the blog. I haven’t gotten the hang of panning with this camera, but maybe by next spring when it is time to put up the feeders, the bird pictures will come easier and clearer.

Channeling his inner DeNiro. "You Looking at ME?"

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Mourning Dove

This is one of my favorite birds, the mourning dove. For Dinahmow at More Idle Thoughts, no, I looked, it isn't as big as your Torres Strait Pigeon (that's a big bird!), but it measures about a foot or so long, so it is good-sized.

It is a ground feeder along with the little brown jobs. I've just recently put out a table feeder so that they get a little more than just what is spilled out of the tube feeders. I've seen them try to use the tube feeders, but they are very big and awkward and you really do feel sorry for them as they try to feed.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Harrington Apple House. Taylorsville, North Carolina

And now the very last barn. This route would take us out of the foothills, past Taylorsville and up into the mountains.

And this is not a barn like the ones the other quilts were on. This is an old apple packing house, used for many years and now closed. But like the others, it has a beautiful barn quilt on the side of the building.

The Harrington Apple House was operated by the late Flake Harrington and features the center section of an original quilt design with 5,810 pieces, made by Salle Jane Edmiston Woodward, c. 1885, in Iredell County. The quilt is owned by a great-grandaughter, Ethel Mason Campbell and family of Statesville.

I wish I could tell you specifically that all of these were either painted or are large (and I do mean large, probably close to 5 feet tall squares) photos. All of these barn quilts are on private property and I was loathe to take pictures any closer than from the side of the road. I'm not sure how they handle trespassers up here in the foothills and mountains, but I wasn't interested in finding out. I am pretty sure that the very first barn quilt, the Linney Barn, was painted, but the more I look at these photos (and all of your comments) I'm not sure about the others. But can you imagine how expensive a huge vinyl photo would be?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wilson Friday Barn. Taylorsville, North Carolina

After admiring the Turkey Tracks quilt at the Robert Allen barn, it was on to the next destination, the Wilson Friday barn.

This was really way out in the country, requiring even more brake hitting and U-turning. At this point after trying to read the tiny road names on the signs, I decided that I wanted to become dictator of the North Carolina Department of Transportation and make all the print on the signs LARGE so that they are easy to read from a distance, not when you get right up on them and it becomes impossible to stop and turn without becoming a stunt driver.

This is the next barn, way out in the county but in a lovely wooded area.

Wilson Friday Barn features a quilt “Eight-Pointed Star Flowers” and was made by Louisa Dacons Cass, c. 1890-1900, in Iredell County. The quilt currently is owned by the maker’s grandson, David Redmond and family of Statesville.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Robert L Allen Family Barn. Hiddenite, North Carolina

After the Wooten barn, we went on to the next one. This was a little like playing "Where's Waldo?" as we had to drive down back country roads looking for road signs that I couldn't read until we were right up on them (darn middle-aged eyes). There was a lot of brake hitting and U-turning while we were trying to find the right roads. Fortunately, there was very little traffic to annoy as they were probably all out deer hunting and not behind us with their loaded shotguns.

The Robert L. Allen Family Barn features one bock of a quilt called “Turkey Tracks.” The quilt was made by Mamie Lee Poarch Teague in 1965 in Alexander County. The quilt is owned by the maker’s great-granddaughter Dinah Austin of Taylorsville.

I should have mentioned this for the last post, but the wrinkles you see on the quilt are actually painted. They are so realistic that some owners have had people come up to their doors wondering why they were leaving the quilts out in the inclement weather.

As tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day and I won't have a post, I think this quilt is an appropriate way to celebrate the holiday. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Wayne Wooten Farm. Hiddenite, North Carolina

Then we made a U-turn and went back down the road to the next quilt barn on Query Road.

The directions were fairly accurate (I keep setting the trip odometer back to zero) and so we had no problems finding the barn. But it is the middle of deer hunting season here in North Carolina and so there were no detours down side dirt roads. Although I doubt that a silver Honda Fit could be confused for a white tailed deer, keeping Dick Cheney in mind I didn’t want to take a chance.

Wayne Wooten Barn was originally known as the Query Family Farm, and it features one block of a quilt called “Grandmother’s Choice” and was made by Ella Saunders Fowlkes, c. 1940 in Caswell County. The quilt is currently owned by the maker’s grandson, Robert W. Duncan and family of Taylorsville.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Linney Family Barn. Hiddenite, North Carolina

After finding those two barn quilts during our trip to Marion, NC and Lake Tahoma, I decided to do a little research to see what I could find out about barn quilts here in North Carolina.

It turns out that from a small beginning a few years ago up in two North Carolina mountain counties, the idea now encompasses six contiguous counties in the mountains and has spread to two foothill counties just an hour and a half’s drive from Greensboro.

So armed with a driving map of barn quilts in Iredell and Alexander counties, my Travel Buddy (TB) and I set out to take pictures of what we could see.

First up on the map was the quilt on the Linney Family Barn outside the tiny village of Hiddenite.

Linney Family Barn features one block from “Stepping Stones” or “Good Cheer.” The quilt was made by Elsie Clark Linney within sight of this barn, c. 1915 in Alexander County. The quilt is currently owned by the maker’s son, Gene Linney and family of Taylorsville.

Tomorrow, on to Barn Quilt Number 2.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Blue Jay

Although I keep asking Anne at Frayed at the Edge to send me one of the blue tits that come to her feeder, I do have a blue colored bird who shows up frequently to terrorize the little songbirds and annoy me with his braying call. I have a Blue Jay that feeds at the hopper feeder, the one with suet cakes that the woodpeckers are ignoring.

Along with the mourning doves, he is the largest of the birds who come to visit my small garden, measuring close to a foot in length. Compare that size to the female goldfinch posted yesterday; she only measures 4 inches long.

I read at Cornell University's All About Birds website that blue jays lower their crests when they are feeling comfortable in the area that they are feeding in. Obviously he's quite comfortable with the feeders and the garden as he will swoop in and bully the songbirds away from whatever it is he wants, be it the feeder or the birdbath.

I'm too sexy for my love
Ah'll be back

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Back home after a very long day trip (I'll post pictures of that this coming week), so I didn't get a chance to post first thing this morning as I normally do.

In fact, I was just going to skip today and post again tomorrow, but I had the most unusual thing happen this evening. As I went out to take the trash to the garbage can, I noticed a female goldfinch at the feeder. Generally the birds fly away as soon as I open the sliding glass door, but this one stayed on the feeder until I got within arm's length and then just flew up to a branch of the redbud. I went back in the house, grabbed the little camera and came back out to see if I could get a picture of her on the tree limb in the fading light. Well, she flew back to the feeder and stayed on the perch while I came up fairly close and took pictures. She didn't fly off until I got too close for comfort. Amazing!

The snapshot is not very good as there really wasn't enough light for the camera and I wasn't about to use the flash. But I like the look of the little goldfinch all fluffed up against the chill of a November evening.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Using a Cyanotone Plug-In

Another day, another plug-in for PhotoShop. This time the plug-in is for Cyanotone, an effect that looks like an X-ray to me.

A little history about the use of Cyanotone:

Cyanotypes are one of the earliest photo processes. Also known as the blueprint process, it was first introduced by John Herschel (1792-1871) in 1842. He was an astronomer and he developed the process as a means to copy his notes. Cyanotypes became popular because it was a simple process and didn’t require a darkroom and very little equipment. Interesting to note, the process was used to copy architectural drawings, hence the term “blueprint”.

Cyanotypes are made by combining two chemicals, potassium ferricyanide and ferric ammonium. Paper is coated with the mixture and left to dry in the dark. Negatives can be placed on the paper or objects are laid down and exposed to sunlight. Once the paper is exposed, it’s given a water bath. This produces a white image on a blue background.

It didn't turn out blue, but reminds me more of an X-ray. Maybe because I converted a color photo into a cyanotone photo?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Tufted Titmouse

I just had to post this picture. This tufted titmouse is soooo cute, all fluffed up against the wind. He would make the most adorable toy, wouldn't he?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Storm Watch

A break from the birds (for a day, anyway).

We had a very strong storm front come through North Carolina yesterday. Since the purpose of the little camera was to take snapshots during lunch, I drove just north of Lake Brandt (which is just down the street from my house) to a pasture which stands at the top of a hill to take pictures of the clouds as the front came through. The wind was terrifically strong and any leaves left on the trees are now really and truly gone. We were even under a tornado warning until 4 am this morning which meant that I got very little sleep as my weather warning radio would go off periodically for warnings for Guilford County where Greensboro is. I'm always worried about a tornado coming in the middle of the night and me not having enough time to go downstairs to the half bath that sits under the stairs next to the concrete block common wall (I live in a townhouse). The most dangerous tornadoes in the Southeast are the ones that come in the middle of the night; those are the ones with the high death tolls.

Pasture at Plainfield Rd

A Quick Stop at Lake Brandt Marina

It is bright and sunny this morning, but the winds are forecasted to gust to over 30 mph today.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Another Little Brown Job

I have about five inches of leaf litter over my daylilies for the winter and that attracts lots of little song sparrows as they are ground feeders. Generally the only way I know that a little brown job is down there in the garden is when I see leaves flying around in a normally still area. Sparrows are ground feeders; looking for beetles, worms and seeds dropped from the hanging feeders.

But occasionally, one will get tired of rummaging through dead leaves and will fly up to the feeder where the good stuff is.

Song Sparrow

I take snapshots of anything and everything that comes through the patio and garden area. Generally I either get very bad, very blurry photos which are discarded or pictures of the same old, same old.

So imagine the surprise when I brought this picture up on the computer and noticed that the bird wasn't strictly brown and grayish, but had yellow eyebrows. After a little digging through my Sibley bird book, I found that I had a Savannah sparrow visiting me.

Savannah Sparrow

Monday, November 15, 2010

Downy Woodpecker

Now I'm beginning to think that I should put up directional signs to the suet cakes for the woodpeckers. Or maybe I was wrong in thinking that apple and walnut suet cakes would appeal to them. It sounded really good to me - well, except for the rendered fat. At least the little house wrens are using it, but they are too fast for me to get good photos.

Another misdirected woodpecker at the feeder. This one is a female downy woodpecker.

For those of you who thought it was going to turn into a blog of cemetery snapshots, it sure looks like it's going to turn into a blog of bird snapshots. It may as the weather turns colder and there aren't much opportunities to get out and take pictures of places around North Carolina and Virginia. We'll see.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

I've put out two feeders, of which one has suet cakes attached to it for the woodpeckers that occasionally came to the feeders last winter.

So what do you do when a woodpecker shows up and disregards those lovely suet cakes (apples and walnuts!) and goes to the finch feeder? Well, you take pictures and try not to laugh (even if you do just a little) at the birdy contortions on the feeder.

A red-bellied woodpecker:

Saturday, November 13, 2010

How to Make a Kaleidoscope Photo

This is for Anyes, Jane, Anne, Diane, Carolina and anyone else who looked at yesterday's post and wondered if they could do the same. The answer is Yes! It just requires a plug-in for PhotoShop and you can download it from this website,  Mehdi Plugins. If you are concerned about downloading from a non-Adobe site (and to let you know, I haven't had any problems doing that) you can also find a cool kaleidoscope plug-in here at Adobe's exchange page.

It's super easy to use and you can use any picture to create a kaleidoscope. Here are a couple of examples.

Quatrefoil Door Detail

After Using Kaleidoscope


After Using Kaleidoscope

Friday, November 12, 2010

Flower Kaleidoscopes

I forgot that you could do more with PhotoShop than just cropping, straightening, fixing the color and so forth and so on. There are all these wonderful plug-ins available and so I took advantage of the kaleidescope option to produce these pictures.


Constance Spry Rose

Incantation Rose

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Little Brown Job

In the Netherlands, birders get really colorful little birds like Carolina at Brinkbeestphotos' pimpelmees or in English, a blue tit. I get what serious birders call "LBJ's" or little brown jobs. Here's a link to a better description of the term than I could give: http://10000birds.com/littlebrownjob.htm

So, here's what I mostly get at my feeder, a song sparrow. Certainly not a pimpelmees or what I would really love to have, a hoopoe


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

When You are Very, Very Rich

When you are part of that one percent of Americans who are very, very, very wealthy, such as Richard Jenrette, you don't have the kid down the street come mow your lawn and weed whack your fence line. You have a landscape designer plus their minions take exquisite care of your property.

They don't put out carved Jack O'Lanterns on the front stoop; they make the perfect arrangements of pumpkins and pansies in the cast iron urns (which are probably expensive antiques).

You plant Constance Spry climbing roses and some type of white chrysanthemums which, of course, are not your normal buy-it-at-a-big-box-retailer mums.

And while you are sitting on your back patio (although the rich probably call it something else), you can look over your perfectly groomed lawn which rolls down to your man-mad lake.

And this probably looks very beautiful in the spring, summer and early fall, not on a gray drizzly day in November.

Being very rich puts you in an entirely different stratosphere of life.

There is also a long landscaped walk from the house down to the banks of the Eno River, called Poet's Walk, about a half mile in length. I'll have to come back in the spring and walk it and take pictures.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ayr Mount. Hillsborough, North Carolina

After our quick tour at St. Matthew’s, it was back in the car and back up the street to Ayr Mount, a Federal style plantation built in 1815 by William Kirkland

Richard Jenrette, a North Carolina native and one of the founders of Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette bought this from the nephew of the widow of the last direct Kirkland descendant. He has meticulously restored and furnished Ayr Mount with period antiques and decorative arts, including many original Kirkland furnishings. I had been given Richard Jenrette’s book, Adventures with Old Houses, some years ago as a Christmas present after a side trip while we were in Rhinebeck, NY took us past Edgewater, his main residence. I had been dying to go in Ayr Mount ever since he had opened it for tours a few years back.

So, eagerly we went to the house just a few minutes before the first tour and waited . . . and waited . . . and waited. We were the only ones there (well, it was wet and cold and there is no place to wait except outside on the front lawn) and it didn’t look as though we were going to be able to tour. No one ever showed up (although we didn’t really wait all that long because it was . . . wet . . . and . . . cold. I’ll be the first to admit to being a wimp), so this goes back on the list of places to visit.

But, I did get some really nice pictures of the outside of the house and the front lawn and back patio area (which was added by Jenrette). As F. Scott Fitzgerald said, “The rich are different from you and me.”

Monday, November 8, 2010

Saint Matthew's Episcopal Church. Hillsborough, North Carolina

We set out on our weekly Saturday day trip on the coldest day so far of the season along with gray skies and a persistent drizzle. Since our trip was just taking us an hour down the road to Hillsborough, we also had to plan our route to bypass Mebane (for those of you who are not from around here, Mebane is pronounced MEB∙un, not ME∙bane, please) where a humongous outlet mall had just opened Friday with traffic backed up both on Interstates 40-85 and US Route 70 which is our normal way to go. It meant that I had to program the GPS to take us via back roads I had never been on before. But doing so meant I found some really cool places I will have to go back to in order to take some more snapshots of rural North Carolina.

Hillsborough is a little town of around 5,000. But it contains more than 100 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Our destination for Saturday was the homeplace of the Kirklands, Ayr Mount which just recently opened for tours.

Since we got to Hillsborough ahead of the time for the first tour, I pulled into the parking lot of Saint Matthew’s Episcopal Church to take some photos. The weather hadn’t improved at all, in fact had gotten a lot colder and a lot wetter. My apologies for the quality of the pictures. Light does matter.

A little history of Saint Matthew’s from their website:

The present church building was begun in 1825, following a reorganization of St. Matthews Parish the year before, and completed in 1826.

Letters of the period indicate that William Nichols, principal architect of the old state capital which was burned in 1831, designed the present structure. As far as we are able to learn, St. Matthew's is the oldest Gothic Revival church building still standing in North Carolina. Nichols worked mainly in the Greek Revival idiom, but he knew Gothic work from both his native England as well as from visits to the northern United States. Nichols also designated Hillsborough's Masonic Hall (1823). He left North Carolina in 1827 to work throughout the South, and died in Mississippi in 1853. Nichols is being increasingly recognized as one of the South's finest antebellum architects.

St. Matthew's Church has had many alterations throughout the years; the tower was added c. 1829 and from 1856 to 1872, extensive remodeling of the church was carried out. The east end was enlarged for a recessed chancel with triplet window, sacristy and organ room, and the exposed beam roof was raised c. 1868; the spire was added and the wainscoting was replaced c. 1875. A marble plaque in the narthex records the installation of the bell in 1878 as a Confederate Memorial.

And of course, it’s now becoming obligatory for me to post pictures of the cemetery. I promise this won’t become a trend.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Well, Hello, My Fine Feathered Friend

Now that the garden has been put to bed for the winter, I have put out bird feeders for the birds who stay here in the area during the cold weather.

One of my favorite birds is the little tufted titmouse and right on cue he showed up at the feeder along with a dozen goldfinches. The goldfinches were a little too frenetic for me to get a good snapshot, but this little guy flew up to the branches of the redbud and posed for me for quite a while.

And then down to the patio table where I had managed to spill a ton of sunflower seeds trying to fill the feeder.

(These were all taken yesterday with the big camera).

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Camillias in Bloom

Thanks to Jane at SmallButCharming, I now know that the green fruit thingy is an osage orange. Interestingly enough, the osage orange tree is not native to this area, so I need to go back and look around for the tree itself.

I'm not obsessed with cemeteries, but it seems that the most interesting places to go with the little camera at lunchtime are Greensboro's oldest cemeteries. First it was Green Hill and yesterday it was to the Old Presbyterian Graveyard just behind the Greensboro Historical Museum. The museum building itself is actually the third of First Presbyterian Church's church buildings and is the only Richardsonian Romanesque building left in town.

When the church moved to its present location in 1928, this was given to the city to serve as a civic center and as the main library. The library moved out to a new building in the mid-60's and this became the historical museum.

But the graveyard remained in the back next to the parking lot and became a little worse for wear over the years. After a terrible ice storm in 2006 which damaged a lot of the old tombstones, a foundation was established to restore the graveyard back to its original look.

One of the first things the foundation did was to clean up the area and restore the pathway. Along this pathway is a huge camillia bush which was in full bloom Friday when I went to take pictures. It makes me wish that I had space in my tiny garden area to plant one as the blossoms are absolutely wonderful.