Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sneak Peek

The count down to International Quilt Festival in Houston 2007 has begun, so it has been mostly nose to the grindstone for this quilter. As the date draws nearer, it will be even busier. Each year, I introduce a new design in my star class, and this is the 2007 star, which has no name yet. Do you have a suggestion?

My wonderful assistant, Donna, did most, but not all of the stitching on this one. She also quilted it. Note the spectacular little curliques in the background. We are working on the other version of this same pattern now, so students will have two different color choices in their kits.

See you there!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

All About Owls

Okay, so this isn't exactly what one might expect for one of my quilts! But, it was just perfect for my friend Marcelle, who is expecting her first baby any day now. Marcelle and I work together on avian issues in New Mexico, and she was instrumental in establishing the PNM Burrowing Owl webcam at the company's Reeves Station in Albuquerque. When another friend, Patty surprised me with the fabulous Burrowing Owl fabric a few months earlier, I had no idea how to use it. Marcelle's baby-to-be was the perfect opportunity. It was a true gift from friends for a friend. Many of the owl fabrics were given to my by my quilting buddies from my group, "Designing Women". Patty provided the Cactus Wren, Mary C. donated the small squares of owls, and Pat. D. donated the roadrunner fabric. My friend Twila B. taught me how to use the Bernina embroidery software to make the label. I delivered the quilt to Marcelle a few days ago, and she was thrilled. Now, all that we need to wait for is the baby!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Weekend in Paradise

The Jemez Valley of New Mexico personifies the state's slogan, "Land of Enchantment". From my lofty perch high above the canyon floor, I can clearly see why the early Native Americans settled in this beautiful canyon. From the advantageous viewpoints of the many ruins that dot the cliffs, a scout could easily see anyone, friend or foe, advancing up the canyon. Nowadays, with birds and squirrels to keep me company, and of course, my constant and faithful companion, Gabby, this is my mountain hideaway. I can feel my blood pressure falling as I drive away from the city. As I crest the final hill in Rio Rancho to see the panoramic view of Redondo Peak and the rest of the Jemez Mountains, I know that I will soon be home. I am a lucky woman!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

For Love of a Falcon

Photograph by David Powell.

Seventeen Aplomado Falcon nestlings experienced their first taste of freedom on Ted Turner's Armendaris Ranch in August 2007. Bred in captivity by the Peregrine Fund, the young birds were transferred to a hack site at a remote location on the equally remote ranch in south-central NewMexico. There, they grew to fledgling stage in a large nest box atop a tall platform with an expansive view of the Chihuahuan desert grassland. The chicks received food via hack site attendants, and yet never saw their human providers. At about 45 days of age, the side of the box was removed and they were free to explore their new territory.

This is part of a collaborative effort among the Turner Endangered Species Fund, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Peregrine Fund to re-establish this endangered species into formerly occupied territory in New Mexico. We were there too! Our role is to monitor raptor populations on the ranch and the fledgling survival of the young Aplomados. This is how I found myself along with my colleague, Sandy Skeba, wandering along the lonely ranch roads scanning the skies, the yuccas, and fence posts for sign of the now wandering falcon equivalent of teenagers. We found them too.

One small group of three remained close to the hack site, where they were assured of an evening meal, which will continue to be provided for some time as the young acquire the hunting skills essential for survival.

It was near our bunk house lodgings for the night, at the place called Deep Well, that the others gathered, harrassing each other and any other hapless wildlife that happened to be nearby, practicing aerial maneuvers, landings, and take offs, and generally acting like exuberant young! Eight in all, this packlet of falcons appeared to have no worries, no fears. Previous experience had shown them that, at about 6 p.m., the Peregrine Fund truck would arrive and food would magically appear at the hack site. And, just like clockwork, the entire pack disappeared at about dinner time not to be seen again.

Our raptor survey the following morning revealed 159 raptors along a 20 mile stretch, an astounding average of 8 raptors every mile. We tallied several species as well including Swainson's Hawk, Prairie Falcon, American Kestrel, and the ubiquitous Turkey Vulture. Superb management practices at the ranch ensure an abundant supply of vegetation, insects, mammals and birds. If I were a falcon, this is where I would want to live!