Monday, July 22, 2013

Birds of Summer Part Deux

We're having a great time watching the birds this summer. The orange halves (see have been a great success.

They can get very acrobatic, like this young goldfinch.

That's orange pulp on the window; they're also very messy eaters.
We have orioles again this summer and I've spotted at least one youngster a few times but haven't got any new pictures yet. Also a black-headed grosbeak and a bronzed cowbird. In the light that first day the cowbird looked completely glossy black, with bright red eyes, like some kind of avian demon. I hope I can get a picture soon; he was at the feeder again this morning.

        Our backyard habitat changed rather dramatically a couple of weeks ago during the first big monsoon of the season. The rain is often preceded by heavy winds, and this time it uprooted our smaller mesquite tree, a favorite spot for the birds as it's near the tube feeder and birdbaths and a favorite of ours as it was just off the patio and visible from the kitchen window (the one that's currently splattered with orange pulp).

It looks like it also took out that nice patch of rosemary by the roots, but I think we may be able to save it. We also thought, or at least hoped that we might be able to save the tree, that if we took off all the branches and left just the trunk, maybe 5 feet tall, that it might resprout. We've seen that happen with other mesquites, and since there were still some roots in the ground, and since for two weeks the leaves stayed as green and healthy as before, it didn't seem impossible. But once Joe got the limbs off and we tried propping it up we realized it wouldn't work, so now it's firewood. The same thing happened to the same tree about 10 years ago, when it was much smaller, and we were able to rescue it, but not this time.
     I was rather heartbroken about losing it, but I think it will be all right. It was a beautiful tree but the slope looks nice without it too, and some of the plants may like having more sun. There are tall oleanders all along the back fence and the neighbor's trees are right up against it on the other side, so the birds still have plenty of places to perch, including the fence itself. Meanwhile, other plants are doing very nicely, like this little cactus.

The non-cactus leaves at the bottom and in the top right corner are volunteer wild poinsettias. I bought one a few years ago at a plant sale and now they just pop up all over. We like them very much even though sometimes we have to pull them out.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Another Ottoman

That's sort of a pun, I guess, as I think this ottoman, with its rich colors and texture, would have been quite at home in a seraglio of the original Ottoman Empire. Angelo seems to think so too, and he's definitely a creature who likes his creature comforts.

I began at the top, following the granny circle pattern so well explained by Raymond's mum at When the circle was big enough (and by big enough I mean about 1 round short of covering the top of the ottoman, since I wanted it to have to stretch just a bit for a snug, not baggy fit). I just changed colors as the mood took me, but when the top was big enough I then did 2 rounds of single crochet, 1 in gold, 1 in ivory. There's no increasing after the last shell round of the top.
     Your colors will vary, of course. The colors in the pictures look different because I took the one below in natural light at sundown and the one above with a flash to make sure Angelo didn't just look like a flat shadow. The true colors of the yarn are somewhere in between, but closer to those below.
My pattern for the sides was to do 3 rounds of double crochet in 1 color, then 1 round of single crochet in either gold or ivory, then 3 rounds of double crochet in another solid color, then 1 round of single crochet, etc., till it's long enough to reach the floor. I think I'll probably add 2 more rounds of gold single crochet, just for a nicer, firmer finished edge. But overall I'm quite happy with the way it turned out. The fabric cover on this ottoman wasn't nearly as disreputable as on the cube in my previous post, but once I'd made that one so much more elaborate, this one looked very sad, and now it doesn't.