STITCH LINES...... Ramblings on life as a quilter, stitcher, traveler, gardener and lover of books, cats and fine chocolate....

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Giveaway Win!

I believe in giving praise where praise is due, and today I'm patting Canada Post on the back! I won a Giveaway at Holly's blog Through my Window on Monday, she mailed the package on Tuesday afternoon and I received it this morning! Wow! That's good service. My recent Giveaway which went to Dasha in Australia was there in less than two weeks... also impressive.  (We won't talk about the fact that my daughter's birthday card took almost three weeks to reach her, just two provinces away...)  I mailed a small package off this week to Ontario, I sure hope it arrives in good time as these others have.
Back to my Giveaway winnings. Holly has sent me a copy of Quilting Arts, Issue 71, in which she has an article published (how exciting!) along with a pack of Swatch Buddies (and refills), a beautiful bookmark that she made and one of her Fiber Art cards. How lucky am I?! Thanks so much Holly! Can't wait to read your article when I climb into bed tonight!

We have another mystery on our hands. Last night hubby left a large rolled tarp on our deck - not "out in the open" but rolled up in the sheltered corner, right by our "back door" hidden behind the barbecue.  No one could see it there, it was totally out of sight, not to mention hidden by the snow banks... This morning it was gone. There was no wind, so we're quite sure it didn't blow away. It is nowhere to be seen, not in our backyard or the neighbour's.. And it's too big/heavy to blame on Stumpy... lol   Could there still be leprechauns around?

A friend is away for a few weeks and the day before leaving, she brought me her budded amaryllis to "babysit"  while they're gone. Lucky me - the very next day it started to bloom. I've been enjoying it all week, and feeling a little "guilty" that she's missing its beauty while I get to gaze at it every day... I guess this is my lucky week...   :)

Peace,
Linda

"Winning is only half of it. Having fun is the other half." ~ Bum Phillips

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Time for Another Book Review...

New York Times and # 1 Canadian bestseller A House in the Sky, a 2013 memoir by Amanda Lindhout co-authored by Sara Corbett, is one of the most rivetting books you will read this year. I'm not the only one who thinks so: it won the 2014 CBC Bookie Award for Best Canadian Nonfiction, was nominated for the 2014 Libris Award for best nonfiction book of 2013 and Author of the Year, and was an Amazon Editor's Pick for Top 20 books of 2013. It's been called "a stunning story of strength and survival" (Jeannette Walls, author of The Glass Castle.) The Globe and Mail said "A House in the Sky  should be mandatory reading for anybody who feels compelled to work in the toughest parts of the world." Have I convinced you yet, that you need to read this book?
Lindhout grew up in a broken home near Calgary, Alberta, and dreamed of travelling to exotic destinations as she "escaped" her difficult home situation by reading old National Geographic magazines. Once she finished high school she moved to Calgary and began working as a waitress, saving her tips to fund her dreams of world travel. It wasn't long before she slipped into a routine of work, travel, work, travel, work, travel.  But she didn't travel to the "usual" destinations. No "twenty-something carefree backpacking jaunt around continental Europe" for her. She was truly into more "exotic" locales, like Venezuela, most of Latin America, Laos, Bangladesh, India, Ethiopia.... then on to more unconventional and remote destinations, on her own: Sudan, Syria, Pakistan. Each trip gave her confidence and fueled her curiosity to continue seeing the world. By the time she traveled to war-torn Afghanistan and Iraq she had decided to try her hand at journalism. With no formal training, she began as a freelance journalist in Kabul, then moved on to Baghdad to report for Iran's Press TV. From there she decided to go to Mogadishu, Somalia, one of the most dangerous places on earth, and an area under-represented by journalists. She asked a former boyfriend and fellow traveler, Aussie photographer Nigel Brennan, to join her and he accepted. Several days after their arrival in Somalia they were kidnapped by Islamic fundamentalist insurgents, and held prisoner for 15 months.
What followed for the remaining 2/3 of the book was not an easy read. Lindhout was beaten, starved, chained in a dark room, sexually abused and tortured. It is difficult to read, but impossible to put down. To call it a compelling read, a page-turner, is putting it mildly. This story is a testament to courage and hope, and the human spirit. Amanda is clearly a woman of great strength, remaining positive in her outlook despite the captivity and brutal treatment they both endured. She refused to be broken.
I won't give away any more of the story, but obviously they both escaped. Today Amanda is an award-winning humanitarian, social activist, public speaker and the founder of the Global Enrichment Foundation. She has chosen forgiveness over anger and bitterness, starting this organization to empower and educate women in Somalia, the very country where she was held captive for 460 days. You can read more about Amanda Lindhout here. And... you must read her book. Trust me, you will be a changed person after.. if nothing else, you will appreciate your freedom.

Peace,
Linda

"Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another's skin, another's voice, another's soul." ~ Joyce Carol Oates

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Mystery SOLVED!!!!





Thank you for all the kind birthday wishes! I had a great day and hope you did too, doing something you love, quilty or otherwise!  :)  
I am grateful for another trip around the sun....



One of the best gifts was a "mystery solved"... If you haven't read Chapter 1 of the "Stumpy" story, read it here before proceeding.. we'll wait for you...











Stumpy IS the thief!! I watched him with my own little eyes.. yes I'm older and so are my eyes, but they're still pretty sharp. Ollie and Hubby were here to witness it too - we watched our "darling little Stumpy" (ha!) shimmy down the one remaining hook, and  feast on the suet ball.















Then the little glutton decided he should haul it off to his lair where I can only assume the other hook and suet ball now reside... He flexed his little rodent muscles and yanked and pulled, trying to get the mesh bag off the hook.




When that didn't work, he thought "Well I'll just have to take the whole thing, just like last time" (yes, I could pretty much read his thoughts) so he continued tugging until he had freed the hook and all from the crook of the tree.


















I had been snapping photos up 'til this point, enjoying his acrobatics and gymnastic prowess, but as soon as he actually got it free (I could hardly believe my eyes!) I set down the camera and ran, hollering, out the deck door -"drop that hook you little thief!" He only took a few more steps in the snow before he gave it up and scurried up the next closest tree, and I'm fairly sure he was swearing at me in "Squirrel-speak". Don't kid yourself, I had a few choice words for him too... Soooo, I'm feeling pretty confident that my earlier accusation was correct, Stumpy is the thief. Now I just have to find his lair and retrieve the booty... the hunt is on!

Peace,
Linda

"Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years."
~  Ausonius

Saturday, March 21, 2015

First Day of Spring, eh?

How much longer before we'll see tulips?
So spring officially arrived last evening. Supposedly. But we all know there is often a fair bit of difference between the "first day of spring" and the first day of spring weather. I don't think we're going to see spring anytime soon. We still have four feet of snow on the ground....
But the days are lengthening  and the sun is strengthening, so there's hope! It will come, I know it will...   eventually.
Thank you to all who inquired about Ollie. He is much better, back to normal I'd say. We're not sure what it was, a Gastro-Intestinal bug of some sort was the Vet's best guess. Anyway he's home after a one night sleepover at the Vet's office (he was NOT impressed), fluids by injection, anti-nausea meds and bloodwork, and a whopping bill!! He's been ravenous today, making up for the four days he didn't eat, I guess..
And thank you to those who answered my Bloglovin question. Not sure what's going on, but it appears I haven't lost any Followers, so that's all that matters. Maybe the leprechauns have been messing with things...

Yes, I'm using GREENS this time!!
If you are a quilter, you likely know that March is National Quilting Month, and Saturday March 21 is National Quilting Day! It also happens to be my birthday. So in celebration (of either, or both) I hope you will spend some time doing whatever quilty activity makes you happy! (Leave me a comment and let me know what you're sewing on today!) I'm going to a Guild workshop next Saturday so I have some prepping to do, cutting strips and making up some strata (strip sets). That and finishing up an iPad case for a reader who "ordered" one will be on my To Do list this weekend. (Yes, Nan it will soon be on its way to you. I got sidetracked with other things this week!) There are lots of deals and yummy things going on this weekend all over the web for National Quilting Day (although I'd love to think they're all actually celebrating my birthday! haha) One of the best deals is the "free weekend" at The Quilt Show with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims. All their videos are free for you to watch, all weekend long so be sure to check it out here. There are lots of prizes too, including a Bernina 550QE!! Who wouldn't love a beautiful new Bernina??
I want to end with Birthday Wishes to my friend Lucy B. and neighbour Janice O. - we all share the same birthdate.  :)


Peace,
Linda

Birthdays are good for your health. Studies show those who have more birthdays live longer.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bloglovin Followers, I need your Help!

I need your help! If you have been following me with Bloglovin, could you please leave me a comment and let me know if Stitch Lines is still showing up in your feed? When I check my Profile it shows I only have 2 followers !?? Where have the other hundred plus gone? I'm not sure if this is just a temporary glitch or what... But recently, someone who had been following with Bloglovin let me know that I had disappeared off her radar for quite a while (THANKS for letting me know, Linda) so I'm wondering if this has happened to all my previous Followers...????  Arrgghhhhhh............

Peace,
Linda

"Success is buried on the other side of frustration." ~ Tony Robbins

Claiming my Blog...

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy St. Patrick's Day



Happy St. Patrick's Day to all my readers! Wishing you the Luck o' the Irish today and everyday!

May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And the rains fall soft upon your fields.
Until we meet again, my friend,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Peace,
Linda

May you live as long as you want,
And never want as long as you live.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bird Crazy for Mosaic Monday...








If you've been visiting this past week, you've had the opportunity to tour Lion Country Safari near West Palm Beach, Florida, with me. I hope you've enjoyed all the animals; I certainly enjoyed the photography, despite its limitations! Today, how about a little more colour?!

In the Walk-Through Safari Park, among other attractions, there are many birds, and many of them were brightly coloured- what a treat for the eyes!







Who doesn't love seeing Flamingos? Their salmon pink plumage is so beautiful. Did you know their colouring is because of the carotenoid pigments in the food they eat? A flamingo's colouring will fade to white if they don't get the proper food. And did you know flamingos mate only once every 2-3 years, and typically lay only one egg? We passed their pond several times... I could have stood there the entire day, watching them preen, and preen, and preen....









The Sarus Crane is an endangered species, native to India. It is the tallest flying bird, growing as tall as 6 feet. Males and females bond for life and share in raising their young.
(Check out the Black Spider Monkey trying to photobomb in the background...)





The White Ibis is seen quite frequently in Florida. Unlike many water birds which use their keen eyesight to locate their prey, the Ibis is a "tactile non-visual forager" which means he probes around with his long beak to feel for and capture his prey.








This little fellow was a visitor, I'm sure. He landed on a tree next to me and stayed long enough for a few quick shots, then flew off. I think he's a Red-Bellied Woodpecker. (I know, I know, he has a red head not a red belly. But that's what my trusty bird book calls him and who am I to argue with Roger Tory Peterson?) If I am wrong, please let me know.










The East African Crown Crane is a very distinctive bird - who could miss his headgear?! They are known for their frequent and exuberant dancing displays. Sadly this one didn't treat us to a performance.











There were several opportunities for "animal encounters" and one was a Lorie and Lorikeet feeding station. There were several different kinds of lorikeets, which are native to southeastern Asia, Polynesia and Australia. They are small to medium arboreal parrots, equipped with specialized tongues for feeding on nectar and soft-fleshed fruits. Their bright plumage was so tropical-looking!















As we entered the enclosure, a father and two of the cutest little boys were feeding them. The boys were so excited that real live birds were landing on them and feeding from the little containers of nectar they were holding. So cute to watch!



















Lastly we came to the Macaws. I've had a healthy respect for Macaws since I was introduced to them at age 7 on my first trip to Florida. We visited Parrot Jungle and I was persuaded to "pose" with parrots for a picture. I can still feel their sharp claws digging into my shoulders. It was all I could do to keep from crying....  Well I'm proud to say I didn't cry with this encounter either... haha. But I didn't let their claws near my shoulders or any other part of me, either...










The Scarlet Macaws are one of the most beautiful members of the parrot family with their red, yellow and blue feathers, and they're one of the largest Neotropical parrots. They have wide strong wings and can reach flight speeds of 35 miles an hour. While we were watching these birds, one of the staff came along with a number of brown paper bags which she proceeded to tie to their fences. We asked what was in the bags and she replied "toys". She could hardly get them tied in place, the macaws were so anxious to get at them. They had them shredded in no time, to reveal large pinecones inside...










The Blue and Yellow Macaws are equally handsome with their vivid plumage. Of course, being a blue lover, I was just a bit partial to this fellow. Macaws form strong pair bonds and mate for life. They will also form strong bonds with humans. They are intelligent and can learn tricks, and can be taught to talk.













I am linking to Mosaic Monday. Be sure and stop by.

Peace,
Linda

Two birds never sing the same song,

Sunday, March 15, 2015

"Z" is for BliZZard... and Zebra...

It's been a nasty nasty day here today - we're experiencing another nor'easter. Call it a major storm, a blizzard, whatever you like... I call it ridiculous. Ridiculous that in mid-March we would still be getting a major storm!!! It's been snowing hard since late last night, and with high winds the visibility is very poor. There were times when I could hardly see the fence in my backyard. A good day to stay at home and not venture out. Yes. Well. I would not have gone out without due cause. Oliver has been sick since late Friday night. He cannot keep food or water down and by this afternoon I was starting to worry about dehydration. So after a phone consultation with the Vet on call, he recommended a product that we had to go out for. Hubby drove and I prayed. The streets have not been plowed and at times the visibility was almost nil. Glad we didn't have to go too far. Now if we can just convince Ollie how yummy this vile smelling stuff is... and that it will make him feel better... hopefully.. I think we'll be visiting our own Vet tomorrow morning anyway. It's funny how an animal is so similar to a child when it's sick. He just wants his Mama. He is sitting on my lap as I write this. Pats and ear scratching seem to help... He's thanking me with his loving purrrrrr. (Just call it our Mutual Admiration Society)
Mama and foal









So let's leave this nasty weather behind and return to Florida where the sky is blue and the grass is green and there are no raging blizzards... Back to Lion Country Safari. We'll finish up the drive-through preserve today. The last area of the preserve is called Hwange National Park, named for the famous reserve in western Zimbabwe, and is home to White Rhinos, Zebras and Giraffe, among others. After the lions, the zebras and giraffes were tops on my "Most Want to See" list.




"Do these stripes make my butt look big?"




Zebras are part of the horse family, and have beautiful striped coats. Each has unique markings, and like the human fingerprint, no two are alike. I have always thought of zebras as black and white, but there is actually some dark brown there as well (look closely.) Zebras are very social animals and form close knit groups composed of a stallion, several mares and their foals. These groups join together to form a herd. They were not the least bit bothered by our presence; they were very close to our vehicle, and I'm sure I could have patted a few if we had been allowed to roll down our windows.









I can't say I would have cared to pat the Rhino though. They are BIG beasts!!! You could almost feel the ground shake as they lumbered by. "Delicate" they are not!! There are several signs posted warning visitors to give them the "right of way" as they can easily damage vehicles. Ha! you wouldn't have to tell me that twice!! These are "White Rhino" - not because they are white in color- they are actually a very dark grey- they get that name from the Africaans word wyde meaning wide or square-lipped. I can easily picture these as prehistoric creatures....

















The Hartebeest, although rather odd looking, is actually one of the fastest and most enduring runners among the antelope family.








This area was also home to chimpanzees and gibbons. The chimps were on several islands surrounded by water. I never knew that chimpanzees are very poor swimmers - they cannot float well. They have little body fat, and muscular stocky bodies, so swimming is difficult. None of my attempts at chimp photos came out well- their black fur against the light sky just didn't work. (They were all up playing on high structures and rope "swings".) I did manage to capture this laid back guy though, does he remind you of anyone you know? "He" is a White-Handed Gibbon, a handsome fellow, I thought. Just chillin'...


I'm going to leave the giraffes for another post, as I have a lot of giraffe photos....

The storm is still raging. We have a 3 foot drift on our back deck where it was bare yesterday...many of our windows are covered in snow...will. winter. never. end????

Peace,
Linda

"Earth was created for all life, not just human life." ~ Anthony Douglas Williams

Friday, March 13, 2015

Stumpy, the Thief


Yesterday morning when I entered the kitchen and looked out the window, I immediately noticed that one of my suet balls was gone. The bottom one was still there but the top one was missing. "Well," I thought, "the netting must have torn and it has fallen into the snow." I didn't give it much more thought, and figured the birds could still peck at it, as I have seen them on the snow cleaning up fallen seed and bits from the suet balls.





This morning when I looked out, the other ball is gone. And the netting. AND one of my HOOKS!!! Okay, what's going on here? It wasn't long before I saw one of our regular visitors - a squirrel we call "Stumpy" because he is missing most of his tail. (Not sure what happened, poor thing, but it makes him distinguishable from all the other squirrels.)











 Anyway, there he was in the tree trying to shimmy down the hanger and get at my other suet holder. "Okay Mr. Stumpy, this really makes you look like the culprit here... You are welcome to the suet ball, but WHERE is my hanging hook? It is a good Lee Valley hanger and I want it back!!!" He gave me a cheeky look, as if he could read my thoughts, the little varmint!! He continued his aerobics and shenanigans, undeterred by several falls. After a while he gave up and scampered away. "Hey! Come back here! I WANT my hanger back, you little thief!"
Doesn't he look guilty to you?
Perhaps he is innocent. Maybe he's just trying to make me laugh on this Friday the 13th. He is entertaining, I must admit... but if he didn't steal it, who did?

Peace,
Linda

"Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed,
For those who take, but do not earn,
Must pay most dearly in their turn..."
~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone

On to the Serengeti

On to the Serengeti! I expect my January visit to Lion Country Safari will be the closest I'll ever get to seeing African animals "au naturel - in the wild" as I can't see myself ever journeying to Africa. I know, one should never say "Never"... but... just can't see it in my future... So I was lovin' every minute of this amazing "tour."
This area of the preserve is named for the well known east African Serengeti Plains, home to many species.







The Eland is the largest of the African antelopes; males can reach 6 feet at the shoulder. Both males and females have straight screw-like horns. A flap of loose skin called a "dewlap" hangs down on the Eland's neck, ending in a tuft of hair.














The Watusi is a cattle breed originally native to Africa (and you probably thought it was a dance!) They have large distinctive horns which can reach 8 feet, tip to tip. The Watusi have played an important role with many African tribes, providing food, currency and tribal status. I would not want to be on the receiving end of those horns, would you?




Some animals are just not that attractive, and the Wildebeest is one of those.... he is right up there with the Rhino who wouldn't win any beauty contests either. The Wildebeest, also known as the Gnu (pronounced "noo") is one of the more unusual members of the antelope family, with its broad shoulders and spindly legs. Wildebeest often graze in mixed herds with zebra. Their calves can keep up with the herd within a week of birth.





The Waterbuck is a large rather shaggy antelope, easily distinguished from behind by a white circle on its rump. Sadly, they wouldn't stand up and model their "target-like" behinds....











If you've been following this blog for very long you know I love to read. I've read quite a number of books set in Africa, in particular many by Wilbur Smith, so have often read of many of these animals, as well as Gemsbock, Springbok, Impala, Zebra and others. So seeing these animals, "up close and personal," close enough to almost touch, was such a thrill. I hope you are enjoying seeing them too. Stay tuned for more to come.... you won't want to miss the handsome zebra....


Peace,
Linda

"Be inspired by your journeys traveled and the ones yet to come." ~ Sam Clark

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lion Country Safari, Part 2

When Sandi suggested we spend a day at Lion Country Safari, I was quick to agree and immediately thought about the photos I might get. As I have already explained, one must remain in their vehicle at all times, with all windows closed when travelling  through the drive-through preserve. I took  my telephoto lens and hoped for the best. Being a cat lover, what I was most looking forward to was the lions. After all, I don't get many chances to get up close and personal with these big cats, living where I do!


As we came to the Gorongosa Reserve, we were both surprised to see that the lions were behind fencing, unlike the rest of the park; they were not fenced in when Sandi was last there. So you'll have to forgive the (unfocused) fencing in front of their faces. Despite it's annoying presence, (I'm sure it was there for good reason) I was pleased with the shots I was able to get....

Nice kitties...





The next area was the Gir Forest, named for a well known National Park in India. Here we saw the Kulan (also known as the Asian wild ass), the fastest equid, it can run up to 70km/hr for short periods of time. They are native to Turkmenistan.







The Blackbuck, a species of Indian antelope, is a beautiful animal. The male's ringed horns curl 3-4 times and are about 2 feet long.











The Asiatic Water Buffalo, true to their name, love the water, and spend a good deal of the time almost completely submerged in their pond.

Look at the size of their horns!!












Next up, we'll visit the Serengeti to see Eland, Watusi, Waterbuck and Wildebeest, and then we'll move on to the Rhino, Zebra and Giraffes.. I hope you'll continue on the safari with me.

Peace,
Linda

"If we kill off the wild, then we are killing a part of our souls." ~ Jane Goodall

Monday, March 9, 2015

Let's Head Back to Florida...


Let's turn our backs on winter and return to the warmer climes of Florida. Would you like to come with me to Lion Country Safari, located just west of West Palm Beach, in Loxahatchee?
When Lion Country Safari first opened in 1967, it was the first drive-through safari park in the USA, and introduced the new concept of a "cageless zoo." It was developed to bring the experience of an African safari to the American family without the costly trip to Africa. Today the park is home to over 900 animals in the drive-through preserve and the exhibit area, most from Africa, but also some from South America and Asia.

Jambo! (Welcome!) First let's visit the drive-through safari area, which is divided into several sections, each named for areas of the world where the animals are native. Visitors are provided with a CD for commentary as they drive the four mile preserve, and are cautioned to remain in the vehicle at all times, with all windows closed. Most of the animals are roaming free, and one must remember, these are wild animals.. this is not Disney!! Are you ready?


In Las Pampas, (the grasslands), you will see the Aldabra Tortoise which can live up to 150 years, and have a shell of up to 5 feet in length; it is native to coastal islands near Madagascar.
The South American Rhea (above) which resembles an ostrich, is the fourth largest of all birds in the world today, and although it cannot fly, it can run at speeds of up to 30 m.p.h. Other animals seen in this area included llamas, storks, and tapirs.









Ruaha National Park is where you find the Greater Kudus of eastern and southern Africa. These are the second largest antelope.











Ostriches roam the area and they aren't the least bit shy, they will come right over to your vehicle, or walk down the middle of the road, with wings outstretched so you cannot get by. (We watched one sassy boy do this to an impatient driver.... very amusing.)









Scimitar-horned Oryx are extinct in the wild. There are currently plans underway to re-introduce this species to suitable secure protected areas and Lion Country Safari is involved in a study to help with future conservation breeding. I found their horns fascinating...aren't they a beautiful animal? We were fortunate to be there in the morning shortly after food had been put out at the feeding stations. That coupled with a long lens afforded me some decent photos....



Up next...lions, zebra, and giraffe...

I'm linking up with Mosaic Monday. Be sure to stop by host Judith's blog at Lavender Cottage to visit other Mosaic Monday participants.

Peace,
Linda

"If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love." ~ Steve Irwin

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