The Day the Baby Hawks Learned to Fly

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The Hawk family lived in the trees in our backyard for over a decade. I never paid attention to them until 2014. During 2014, my recovery from spinal surgery meant most days were spent dealing with pain. So getting outside was still a big deal for me. And all that un-busyness gave me more time to notice details. Like the incessant squawking from little birds.

Every spring, the hawks make a terrible racket. But I never looked out my window. That fine day in 2014, I decided to look out the window. And I saw a very large bird on the ground in the backyard. I grabbed the camera and ever so slowly, crept up to the bird. I had no idea that the bird couldn’t fly. Which explains why it didn’t move and let me get very close.

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There was some kind of tissue in the bird’s beak so it must have been eating recently.
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There was a second baby hawk over on the logs of the wood pile. Like the first one, it didn’t move.
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I talked to the hawks, encouraging them to fly, so I could catch photos of those early flights. But the birds didn’t move. The one on the wood pile was silent, but the one in the yard made a lot of noise. I went back in the house in case I made the birds nervous. The one in the yard finally ran across the yard into the trees. But it didn’t get off the ground.

Hours later, I went back out to see where the birds were. One was still on the wood pile. The other one was climbing a tree, making a lot of racket and flapping wings, but not flying.
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The hawk then got stuck on some branches. I watched helplessly.
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The bird would occasionally stop flapping its wings and just hang from the branches, wing extended. It looks so awkward, painful and frustrating!

I really related to that bird. So much pain and it seemed that I would never recover from surgery. It was over a year and a half since surgery. Why was I still in so much pain and so immobile? I spent weeks and weeks sitting still against a heating pad, pacing around the house, impatient to mend. But there was absolutely nothing I could do to hasten the healing. It just had to take time.

Looking through the camera lens was sometimes difficult, since I couldn’t look up very well. My eyes blurred with pain a lot.

I heard a very small squawk high in the trees, pointed my lens and took a picture. It had to be the mother. She stayed close and watched her babies like… well, like a hawk. She never took her eyes off them.
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When I looked at the photos later, I discovered that the mother hawk was holding a snake! That explained the shreds of tissue in the baby’s beak.
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I imagined the birds were making such a racket that the mother pushed them out of the nest mid-meal. “If you two don’t shut up, I’m kicking you out!” I imagined her saying. But she cared enough about them that she didn’t take her eyes off them, especially when they were on the ground, unable to fly.

All day long I frequently looked out the kitchen window, hoping to capture the first flight. But the birds took their time. One chattered incessantly, the other was mostly silent. At one point, the silent one was up in a tree and I was glad to see it had successfully gotten off the ground. It sat on the limb with one leg up. For a long time, one leg in the air, perfectly still.
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The mother hawk ate more snake. But she didn’t come down from her high perch, where she kept an eye on the two.
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Evening came and I checked the hawks again. The one that spent so much time stuck on a branch was no longer there. There was one on a favorite old tree, its head tucked tight under its wing for the night.
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I prayed for the hawks, that the missing hawk didn’t get eaten by some wild critter in the woods.
The next morning, the mother hawk was in her high perch, watching closely over her babies.
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Both the baby hawks were in their favorite tree. How glad I was to see them safe!
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They still must not have been good at flying or hunting. One hawk kept crying loudly all day long. I could just picture the conversation..
“I’m STARVING! I’m gonna die!!!” said the noisy hawk.
“Well, you shouldn’t have gotten us kicked out of the nest. We were right in the middle of breakfast!” said the other.
“We’re GONNA die. I know it! I’m Starved! STARVED, I tell you! I’m GOING TO DIE!!” said the noisy one.
“Oh shut up,” said the quiet one.
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Birds are so dramatic.

I marvelled over the hawks, and felt a keen gratitude that they let me into their special time of life. What an honor!

I wasn’t able to check on the birds again till the third day. High in the sky I saw one fly. Birds always learn to fly. It just takes time. And there are branches to get stuck in and a bit of hunger while learning to hunt. But birds always learn to fly.
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The hawks built their nest in a new location the next year, high in the trees right near my bedroom window. They had never lived so close to the house. Even though the crazy squawking of the new peeps in spring was so annoying, I felt a warm kinship to these strong creatures.

It’s 2016, over three years since my surgery. I can now lightly jog short distances and can look up better. Things take time but time always changes things. Birds always learn to fly.

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I’m keeping busy

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Carving the wood base for the terrarium with my dad’s knives. 5 panels done, 1 to go.
Carving Terrarium Base

A little snow and ice last week

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Photos just can’t capture what the eye sees. I walked under the ice-coated branches and looked up through them. I wish everyone could experience the beauty of an ice storm. We lost power for a couple days so that wasn’t easy getting through but what I remember most is the crystalline beauty. Diamonds!
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The Snow and Crystal Tree and Tendril Snowflakes

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I put away all the Christmas decorations except for one – the Snow and Crystal Tree. The corner will be too empty if I put it away and I love the wintery look of it. The snowflakes remind me of scribbles. Scribble Snowflakes!

Snow and Crystal Tree, with vintage chandelier crystals and snowflakes made from dried vine tendrils.

Snow and Crystal Tree, with vintage chandelier crystals and snowflakes made from dried vine tendrils.

The tree is a dried branch cut from a tree in the woods behind our house. I stuck it firmly into Styrofoam in an urn and laid moss around the base.
The crystals are from the old chandelier that used to hang in my parents’ dining room when I was a child. I loved that chandelier so I’m thrilled to have some of the crystals from it.
The snowflakes are made of natural tendrils and curls that I collected from the vines in the backyard in the fall.  My granddaughter helped me look for the curly tendrils and we really enjoyed our time together outdoors.

Dried vine snowflakes, little 1" glass ball ornaments and vintage chandelier crystals.

Dried vine snowflakes, little 1″ glass ball ornaments and vintage chandelier crystals.

To make the snowflakes, I broke off the dry twigs and slid the curly tendrils off. Here is a photo I posted on instagram of the twig bits with the tendrils removed.

The tendrils were gently twisted and pulled off the broken twigs.

The tendrils were gently twisted and pulled off the broken twigs.

Each snowflake needed six similar pieces so I grouped the tendrils by size.
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Once I had six similar tendrils, I trimmed the ends so they were the same length.
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For each snowflake, I made a contoured mat out of foil for gluing. A small bead was glued temporarily on the back of the foil so it would create a small mound on the right side.
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The foil is gently pressed down around the bead to create a little mound.

The foil is gently pressed down around the bead to create a little mound.

On the right side of the foil, on top of the tiny mound, I glued a small bead for the center of the snowflake. All the tendrils will then be glued to this bead using hot glue.
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The tendrils were arranged around the center bead in a pleasing manner.
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The two straightest tendrils were glued on first, opposite each other, to create the line of symmetry.
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The other tendrils were glued on the sides and the hot glue was allowed to harden.
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To remove the delicate snowflake, the foil was folded and pinched together under the snowflake. Then the snowflake was gently popped off the foil. One of the snowflakes stuck too much so I used tweezers to pull the foil off and reglue the tendrils that had loosened.
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The snowflakes were hung with thin hooks I made from jewelry wire.
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The vintage crystals look lovely on the tree.

Vintage hand-cut crystals adorn the tree.

Vintage hand-cut crystals adorn the tree.

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At the base of the urn is a gilded tea cup filled with little glass ball ornaments.

The beautiful earthy and neutral color ornaments were from Terrain. The tea cup is from Anthropologie.

The beautiful earthy and neutral color ornaments were from Terrain. The tea cup is from Anthropologie.

Snow and Crystal Tree, with vintage chandelier crystals and snowflakes made from dried vine tendrils.

Snow and Crystal Tree, with vintage chandelier crystals, glass balls in neutral shades and snowflakes made from dried vine tendrils.

The little fox ornament I got several years ago finally found a home… at the base of the Snow and Crystal tree.

A furry, little red fox ornament sits at the base of the Snow and Crystal Tree.

A furry, little red fox ornament sits at the base of the Snow and Crystal Tree.

I don’t know what to put in the corner when this tree comes down.. probably a lamp. But then again, perhaps I’ll make a Snowy Valentine tree…

Pearl Bottle Brush Topiary

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I’ve made a decision!

Last year I was committed to posting timely topics on my blog. Well that didn’t happen! sigh. I don’t know how other bloggers do it all. They must decorate for Christmas months before December, the same way magazines work on their seasonal material many months before the issue hits the press.

Though I really tried last year, if I couldn’t finish a post during the season, I ended up never posting at all. That is going to change. This year, I am posting anything I want, any time I want. I have quite a bit of material to post! I know that breaks blogger rules, the rule that says readers won’t be interested in seeing Christmas crafts in August. But life is too short and much too busy so I hope you all forgive me for diving right in to this new year.

You will be getting more posts from me but it’s fairly certain they won’t be all calendar-tidy. Nope. Not at all. I can sorta-kinda-maybe get some posts matched with seasons but I won’t stress about missing. And I’ll do my best to not apologize when I post Christmas in May and Valentines in September. Because… it’s highly likely I will actually be working on Christmas projects in May and making Valentines in September!

So here’s a project I just finished yesterday, January 12, 2016. It’s a Christmas decoration. Happy New Year to you!

Pearl Bottle Brush Tree Topiary, made by cutting bristles out of a bottle brush tree and gluing on pearls.

Pearl Bottle Brush Tree Topiary, made by cutting bristles out of a bottle brush tree and gluing on pearls.

The photos are a bit off in tone because I started this Pearl Bottle Brush Topiary Tree before Thanksgiving 2015 and photographed the steps under various lighting conditions as I did them, weeks apart. That’s how I get so much done. Projects are broken down into phases, kept in bins and boxes like a kit, ready for me to work on here and there.

For the bottle brush topiary, I picked a nice bottle brush tree to work with. The brush had to be full and evenly distributed all the way around and the bristles had to be tight. I found these 9″ trees at Michaels.

The first step was establishing the spiral by sticking masking tape around the tree. I started at the base and wound it around the tree all the way to the top.

The masking tape is wound around the tree, starting at the bottom and spiraling around the tree to the top. The tape will mark all the places that the bristles will NOT be cut.

The masking tape is wound around the tree, starting at the bottom and spiraling around the tree to the top. The tape will mark all the places that the bristles will NOT be cut.

I first started cutting out the bristles right in the center of the taped areas as shown here. The first cutting was in the center between the tape, all the way from the base to the top of the tree.
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Here you can see what the tree looks like after the first cutting.
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To make the second cutting, I cut at an angle from the tape in to meet the deep first cut in the center of the tree.

Cutting at an angle from the tape to the center. The tree was turned upside down to make cuts under the spiral as you can see here.

Cutting at an angle from the tape to the center. The tree was turned upside down to make cuts under the spiral as you can see here.

After the second cutting.
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I continued cutting away bristles until there was a nice, neat spiral shape, all between the tape-covered bristles.
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The cutting is all finished here.
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The masking tape is gently pulled away.

I was so happy with how easy it was to make the spiral shape!

I was so happy with how easy it was to make the spiral shape!


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Here is the cut tree next to an identically-taped bottle brush tree. The tape makes it easy to cut an even spiral.
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The last step was gluing on the pearly glass and plastic beads. I watched Downton Abbey while doing this and it was a pleasant task. Oh so elegant! I used Fast Grab Tacky Glue and tweezers to place each pearl. No other glue would have been as easy to use because I needed a glue that grabbed fast and didn’t drip. I used two kinds of large pearl beads and a couple different kinds of smaller pearls and pearly beads.

Pearls are glued to the tips of bristles on this Bottle Brush Topiary Tree.

Pearls are glued to the tips of bristles on this Bottle Brush Topiary Tree.

I’m looking forward to displaying this pretty tree next Christmas, tucked amongst the plants in the corner of the dining room.

Pearl Bottle Brush Topiary Tree

Pearl Bottle Brush Topiary Tree

By the way, did you see the beautiful red Poinsettia peeking over in the first photo? When I lifted the poinsettia plant out of the van in early December, three branches broke off. So I stuck them in a glass of water. They are still beautiful, over a month later. =)

Pencil Rolls and Coloring Pages

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I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s. We did!

I made the girls Pencil Rolls and custom coloring pages for Christmas. They loved the sets.

Colored Pencil Roll

Colored Pencil Roll

Pencil roll with special coloring pages

Pencil roll with special coloring pages

I used Julie 1971 fabric from Spoonflower.

Julie 1971, a fabric featuring houses made of felt, is available on Spoonflower.

Julie 1971, a fabric featuring houses made of felt, is available on Spoonflower.

The inspiration for Julie 1971 is a piece of artwork I made when I was 12 years old, in 1971. I made the little felt houses from bits of felt and glued them to the back of a piece of laundry detergent box cardboard.
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The pencil roll was very easy to make. The lining, pocket and flap are linen, the decorative cover wrap is cotton canvas.
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Felt Houses

Felt Houses

Even after all these years, the cardboard is still in great shape.

The back of the Felt Houses artwork, clued to a piece of cardboard from a box of All laundry detergent.

The back of the Felt Houses artwork is cardboard cut from a box of All laundry detergent.

My father cut the picture frame from a single piece of wood. The Felt Houses art hangs in our guest room.
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The original artwork is still vibrant and prints beautifully on canvas and linen fabrics from Spoonflower. Here you can see the original art next to canvas, which I have aged a little by machine washing it in warm water.

The pencil roll open, with flap folded over to protect pencil tips and keep the pencils from spilling out during transport.

The pencil roll open, with flap folded over to protect pencil tips and keep the pencils from spilling out during transport.

Outer cover – made of a piece of decorative Julie 1971 fabric 17″ x 8.5″, sewed to a piece of linen 17″ x 4.5″ for the flap, to make a rectangle 17″ x 12.5″.

The outside of the pencil roll, with the flap open.

The outside of the finished pencil roll, with the flap open.

Lining – made of linen cut to 17″ x 12.5″.
Pencil pocket – two pieces of linen 17″ x 4″.

The cover piece with flap was sewn to the lining piece, right sides together, with a small opening for turning at the bottom. This cover piece was turned right side out and pressed flat.

The pencil pocket was made by stitching the two 17″ x 4″ pieces of linen together with a small opening for turning at the bottom. This piece was turned right side out and pressed flat.

The pocket piece was sewn to the bottom of the cover piece. Here you can see how simple the pocket is attached to the cover piece.

The pocket piece was stitched inside the cover piece at the sides and along the bottom.

The pocket piece was stitched inside the cover piece at the sides and along the bottom.

To figure out where to stitch for the pencil pockets, I simply stuck pieces of masking tape vertically, all across the pocket piece, with a little margin between each piece of tape, and stitched between the pieces of masking tape. Several of the pockets weren’t exactly the same size but that was fine. That method of marking for the pockets was super easy and didn’t need any measuring or marking the fabric at all.

To keep the roll shut, I used what I had on hand – stretchy beading elastic tied in a loop.

For each girl, I made a custom set of pictures to color. I used Photoshop to alter photographs and printed the coloring pages on cardstock.

Some of the coloring pages I gave to the girls.

Some of the coloring pages I gave to the girls.

Boxes for pencils are nice, but there is another layer of artsy satisfaction when you unfurl a roll of creamy pencils tucked in soft linen.

Coloring with pencils

Coloring with pencils

Here are two free coloring pages for you keep and print out.

Free coloring page - Do what is Beautiful and Never Give Up

Free coloring page – Do what is Beautiful and Never Give Up

Girl with Flowers in her Hair - a free coloring page for you!

Girl with Flowers in her Hair – a free coloring page for you.

Enjoy!

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God Bless Us Every One!

Merry Christmas!

 

Afternoon sun in the tiny kitchen

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When I looked through the lens, I saw the streaks of sunshine, exquisite light that my own eyes couldn’t see apart from the lens. I thank God for the mystery and beauty that’s captured with photography.

She Jumped Into Wonderland

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"I'm going to jump now!" she said. And she did!

“I’m going to jump now!” she said. And she did!

Sunset Beach encouragement

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This is the way
It’s ok. Trust God. He’s not silent.