Flitting (and riding)

I love that word.

It so beautifully describes the butterfly motion of darting from one thing to another. Which is what I’ve been doing the last week or so, only less beautifully and gracefully 🙂

We’ve been spending some fun time with ST motorbike-owners-club friends from south east Queensland, who are passing through Mackay with their caravan and their Honda ST1300 on the back of the ute. Now that’s a sweet setup! Deep envy, to have both their big motorbike and their caravan along! We’ve done a couple of half day rides with them around the local sights, which has reassured me that I can cope and my back won’t fall apart under the strain when our own time comes to do the big ride south for the bike rally later this year in October. No lavish Miz Lizzie caravan comfort on this trip, it’ll be Rolling Thunder towed behind the Scarlett Thunderbolt, and a tent for a few nights.

We had part of the back yard landscaped and a hard surface put down. We can now get Miz Lizzie under cover without the need for 25-point reversing to get her between the posts of the patio roof. Straight in, bish-bosh, no messing about. Bliss! We can use our new turning circle to get the car in and out in similar style. I have a hard, dry surface to stand on when I hang out the laundry instead of being ankle deep in wet grass and green ants. It will not turn back into a swamp the next time we get a serious amount of rain. Oh my word yes, I love that new surface! And the Husband, let’s face it, is not heartbroken about having less grass to cut…

A few days before the work commenced, Sir Horace and Lady Laetitia Bush Stone-Curlew went off somewhere for several days. We rejoiced in a slightly guilty fashion, but it was very pleasant to have quiet nights, unbroken by their harsh screams. We thought they’d moved on, finding the modest bustle of our back yard insufficiently tranquil for raising this year’s family. Regrettably, they have now returned from their vacation and are back in their original spot, glaring at me every time I set foot outside the back door, and in full song at night. Oh well. At least we didn’t drive them off with the landscaping work…

I’ve been doing some secret sewing for a friend who is visiting from the States. As it’s a secret, I won’t be posting photos till she has it, around the end of the month, but it’s fun, pretty and useful, so I hope she likes it. I’m sure if she doesn’t, she won’t feel compelled to tell me so!

And finally, I’ve got the Blue Hour quilt two thirds assembled, just one big seam and the binding to go, so I’ll be able to do my ‘tah-dah’ post for that soon. And yes, start thinking about my own! I haven’t forgotten that I also have the Sea Glass quilt to sandwich and start quilting, but it’s a big job and as usual, I’m procrastinating furiously…

So while there’s been scant news from Chiconia recently, as you can see, I have not been idle!

Blue, and Birds

I’ve completed the quilting on the Blue Hour quilt 🙂

They’re all the same, nice simple 3 inch square cross hatching. And I’ve decided, after extensive auditioning, that the sashing will be cream, same as the backing. Yes, it’ll show the dirt more, which isn’t such a great thing on caravan trips, but the quilt can easily be washed and I much prefer the way it looks. I also LOVE how it works with the fabric I’ve bought for Miz Lizzie’s curtains, and the blue and white ticking for the seats.

… In other news, Sir Horace and Lady Laetitia Bush Stone-Curlew are still gamely guarding their estates, and only this afternoon saw off a vulgar gaggle of sacred ibis, who were sunbathing and honking in the spot selected by Lady Laetitia for the nursery. Despite this unseemly conduct, both maintained a stiff upper lip beak, and stared down the interlopers, who retired further down the garden, ruffled and agitated. No sign of an egg a prospective heir yet, but we live in hope.

The noisy neighbours are back

If you’ve been visiting Chiconia for a while, you’ll recall Mr & Mrs Bush Stone-Curlew.

I find them a little creepy to look at with their huge staring eyes and their fixed immobility for long periods of time. Other people find them quirky and interesting. Which is fine, but they don’t need to live right next door to the creatures. Last year, they moved in a couple of metres from my clothesline, laid a couple of eggs, glared at us when we came too close and made our nights hideous with their screaming cries. Once the solitary chick had hatched, they moved further down the back yard and we got a little peace.

For a couple of days now, Mr & Mrs have been inspecting the same piece of real estate, giving us the same glares and show every sign of repeating their performance. I suppose we should be pleased they feel safe and comfortable enough to come back.

I’ll leave you with a video link which I feel explains very clearly why I’m not totally thrilled to bits!

A twitter of sunbirds

A sudden fountain of birdsong from outside drew us onto the patio.

These two little fellows (both male) were duelling by song for the territorial right to the patio flowers and their nectar. They are the same Olive-Backed or Yellow Bellied Sunbirds who built a nest beside my front door. OK, maybe not the identical birds, but the same species… They’re sitting on a fallen Queen palm seed-branch, detached from the tree by the cyclone and sent crashing through one of my young frangipani trees. It’s about 120cm or 48 inches long, so quite a substantial bit of real estate for such small birds. Their song is very high-pitched melodic twittering, a lovely sound. The bird on the right won, but sadly, even our very minimal movements and hushed talk was too scary, and he zipped away after a tiny snack on the bright pink Petris blossoms.

Click on the photo to enlarge and zoom in for a really good look. Aren’t they handsomely dressed?

TWX11: a better layout, some quilting… and frogs

There, that’s an improvement, isn’t it?

I’m not sure this is the final layout yet, but I’m getting closer. What do you think about swapping the short X in the top row with the beige-background X on the right in Row 4? And the top right-hand dark X with the bottom right hand dark X in the 4th row? I fiddle around, and swap, and stand back and squint, and I still can’t seem to get it laid out to my satisfaction. Plus, even when it looks right on the wall, there’s a glaring issue when I look at the photo. I think those two changes might work, don’t you?

I’ve got the two middle rows of blocks fully quilted and a couple more blocks on top of that. That bit’s going pretty well, and I can get a row quilted before my back starts whingeing at me to stop. I have to listen to my back a bit carefully just now, because of my ‘morning work’, which is shovelling crusher dust for the drive, picking up dead branches and fallen palm fronds, and raking and shovelling mud and rotting vegetation out of the storm drainage ditch down the side of the property. It’s a long, long ditch. It doesn’t take much before there’s a persistent nag from back there…

Finally, it has been a froggy sort of day. This little chap has been occupying my laundry windowsill for most of a day now. There was another one hanging out in the back of the car when we opened the tailgate to stow the tarp after taking a load of green waste to the dump. He made a break for it, but Laundry Frog is quite contented where he is… He’s about 4cm/1½ inches long.

And I just wanted to let you know that that piece of white thread on his leg is on him, not my camera lens!

 

Mrs Sunbird sits tight

There’s a little curved beak poking out of the door of Casa Sunbird.

Mrs Sunbird is sitting on her nest. If she’s finished laying, there will be two little greyish eggs in there, kept snug against her yellow tummy. It takes about 2 weeks from when she starts to sit till they hatch, but typically, not every egg laid hatches, so we shall wait and see.

mrs-sunbird-at-workAs you can see if you click and zoom on the image, the nest is right next to the door, and she’s not tame enough to sit whilst people go in and out, so we and our visitors are using the back door or going in through the garage.

One day soon, there’ll be a couple of gaping beaks in there, and the noise quotient will escalate noticeably!

Hanging out stockings for Santa

…Or maybe not!

sunbird-nestDespite its vague resemblance to a rather weary old stocking, this is no sock. It’s the nest of the Olive Backed Sunbird, a.k.a. the Yellow Bellied or Yellow Breasted Sunbird, a little beauty which perches or hovers to drink nectar from the wide range of flowers which are in bloom at this time of year.

The bird is very small, perhaps only 10cm (4 inches) from the tip of the curved bill to the tip of the tail, and this nest is a good 40cm (16 inches) long. It has appeared over the course of three days, so the Mrs, who is the builder of the family, has been a busy girl. The opening is that dark patch at the top, and the interior of the nest is lined with feathers and fluff. It’s actually quite an airy, open structure, which she weaves together on the foundation of a couple of long strands of grass hung from the suspension point. In this case, it’s dangling from a string of fairy lights just 15cm (6 inches) from the screen door onto my side porch, which means that I’m trying to deflect visitors round to the back of the house instead.

They have cleverly built their home directly opposite a convenient Sunbird snack-bar in the form of my double yellow Hibiscus bush, round the corner there are a couple of Murrayas in bloom, the Flame Tree is showing off its red Christmas bells not far away, and of course the Poinciana is in riotous colour. Their normal habit is to build the nest, go off on honeymoon for a few days, and then come back and lay the eggs. Currently, they’re honeymooning somewhere, but I expect them back any day now, the squeaky little darlings. They sound a little like twittering canaries, a nice change from the other, noisier bird visitors to this back yard.

Let’s hope Santa doesn’t try to stuff anything in this stocking in two days’ time!