Sunday, September 30, 2007

Odds and Ends

Yesterday finally felt like Fall in Charlotte. Paul and I had some errands to run and in general just drove around and went shopping-- with the roof down on the car to enjoy the crisp air.
We first took the birds for their grooming (nails and beaks) to Parrot U which is a great little store in Pineville that is actually filing to be non-profit. They take in birds that people don't want or can't handle anymore due to change in circumstances, etc. and they adopt them out to new homes. It's like the pound for birds except it's in a small little store. Birds are everywhere in the shop looking for new homes and since we've been going there several have been adopted. The folks that work there are wonderful and they are very experienced in bird handling, working hard with each bird to try to correct bad social habits (maybe we can take Clementine for some training) and make them more comfortable with new people. In addition, they offer about 6 or 7 free classes to the public on topics such as bird handling, behaviour and nutrition. We love what they are doing and so try to purchase most of our supplies and services from them.

We also went to the mall to cruise around Barnes and Noble and bought a few magazines -- Spin-Off for me, which has all kinds of new patterns on spinning and knitting socks and hats and it has all kinds of helpful tips and new tricks for the handspinners out there.

We also got a fitness magazine with some good workout routines and a book to read together before bed. We read the last few books of the Harry Potter series together and really enjoyed it so got another action/adventure/magical book called "The Onion Girl."

One other thing we did was stop by CVS to scan two of the patterns I used to sew my wedding dress. Friday night I was busy rounding up all my pictures and drawings and bits and pieces to work on my scrapbook today. I am sadly still working on 2004, a big year of events, and currently have invitation and wedding dress making on my next list to do for pages. We scanned in the pattern envelopes and had them printed as pictures to include in the album.

We finished off our errands by going to Trader Joe's -- a must for the grocery essentials. And then finished the day by having spaghetti while watching an old movie, "Around the World in 80 Days."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Paul's Courgettes Provencal

Paul's making us his version of Courgettes Provencal over rice for dinner tonight - to all my fellow Americans that is code for a zucchini, tomatoes and onion sauce. This healthy dinner is to help us continue onward towards better fitness and is a tasty alternative to stir fry (let's not talk about the deliciously unhealthy Italian food we had last night at a local restaurant).

This is how Paul makes Courgettes Provencal:

Slice 2 zucchinis and saute in a few tablespoons of grapeseed oil until lightly browned.
Slice about 1/2 of a large onion and add to the pan.
Add 1 14oz can of diced tomatos.
Sprinkle with italian seasoning and parsely and add some garlic if you choose.

Sometimes we add some plain tomato sauce, paste or marinara sauce for some extra flare, but we kept it simple tonight and let the flavor of the herbs sing their song. Serve over rice or pasta and you have a healthy, tasty dinner. If you'd like to add some protein chicken would probably be good.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Maple Tree

Since we've been in our apartment there's been an old plastic plant pot in the grass outside our patio. It looked abandoned as it wasn't really in anyone's "yard" and the plant that was living in the pot had long been deceased. The workers who have been renovating the complex carefully stepped around the pot, set up their ladders to either side of it and managed to go about installing siding with it in the exact same spot, 2 feet from the apartment wall.

One day a while back I was surprised to find among the weeds growing in the pot, a maple seedling about 6 inches tall. I waited another week or so to see if anyone might claim it and finally decided that since it seemed to have been abandoned for the past 6 weeks it was finders keepers.

I had some leftover potting soil from Big Red and went to work pulling out all the dead plant material surrounding the maple tree. Surprisingly, the tree was rooted below the dead plant roots and so all I had to do was pull the dead plant off the top and add more potting soil. The roots of the maple were hardly disturbed and now he thrives on our patio along with big red. We'll see if he drops all his leaves soon like all the grownups.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Treadmills, Dumbells and Dingbats

We decided that we both needed to get started on taking our fitness more seriously awhile back. The key phrase is "get started" but a year into this new frame of mind and we were no more fit than we were when we started. Our fitness routine was once around the block once a month or so, give or take.

Since we've been in Charlotte, though, we've done much better. We've been to the plush fitness center at our apartment complex about 2 to 3 times a week for the past two weeks. It's a great start for us!

Even Fairy has some new exercise equipment on her jungle gym!

Tonight, I was talking on the phone with one of my friends from back home and decided to be slick and try to maintain the conversation while on the treadmill. Folks, don't try that at home. Not only could my poor friend not understand a word I was saying because of my breathing issues, but I found it really more difficult to coordinate than I thought (no wonder they say don't talk on your cell phone while driving). I apologetically ended the conversation and then left my phone in the water bottle holder. Paul now has to wait on me hand and foot (exaggerating slightly) because I over exerted my legs sprinting back to the gym to get my phone. Was it worth it? Lesson re-learned: there is a time and place for cell phones!

Third Bird Clarification

Oh dear! I've been leading everyone into the impression that we have adopted a third bird named Marvin Dexter. To clarify, we have merely been visiting a bird named Marvin Dexter. I admit that we were seriously contemplating bringing Marvin into the family and so tentatively gave him the last name of Teague. But after much discussion (and disappointment), adopting Marvin is not the most practical thing to do because of the amount of time I spend on the road. Also, with Paul hopefully soon to be working, our attention would be thinly spread.
Marvin has many admirers when we are there, and he is already talking at just 4 months old, so he is bound to find a loving home where he'll get loads of attention.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Quick Carding Session

This morning, if you had stepped out our front door, might have made you hesitate before saying, "Ah, first day of Fall." My first thought when bringing my drum carder out on our patio was, "Yikes, it's hot and humid for 8:00 in the morning." Nevertheless, I ran out of spinnable wool yesterday and so carding in the humidity was a must if I was going to enjoy any spinning this evening.

My drum carder is something I'm pretty happy about. It's not fancy like the type the high-flyers use (I refer here to the BMW or Mercedes of drum carders like the Patrick Green or the Fricke which cost a small fortune). It is homemade from the sweat of my own back and definitely looks it! I'll have to show pictures of it in the process of being constructed another time when I can find the pictures.

This is how it works for those of you not familiar with drum carding:

1) Tease out a few locks of wool (see bottom picture for a visual of "locks") so that the feeder tray is visible through the wool that you're feeding in. If you feed in big clumps the carder will jam or you'll get big lumps in your final product.

2) As you are feeding wool in to the front, small drum, turn handle to draw the wool from the front drum to the back drum. Keep doing this until your batt is the thickness you want.

3) Peel batt off large drum carefully. This would be the time to use a "knuckle-saving batt picker" if you have one. I think this is a Fricke patented item, but a skewer or knitting needle works great too.

The finished batt!

The bottom basket here is the Stansborough fleece locks, cleaned but not carded. The top basket is carded Stansborough that I prepared on my carder.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Last Day of Summer

Today is an equinox, I discovered. A new friend at work is having a last day of summer/birthday party today and Paul and I are going-- our first real social event in Charlotte. I looked up soltice, thinking that this last day of summer might be a soltice. But, lo, it is an equinox. There are two soltices and two equinoxes a year, alternating to divide up the seasons. Summer Soltice is the start of summer, in June, and the equinox usually is around the 22nd of September, bringing in the fall. Just a little trivia: On the equinox dates in March and September, night and day are the same length of time.
To bring in the last day of summer, Paul and I had a fun, summery dessert last night. English trifle (Paul misses certain dishes from his homeland) without the pound cake-- we had to make due with what we had.

Our version includes:
  • 1/2 can of Ambrosia custard (we buy it from which has imported English foods)
  • about 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • about 1/2 cup of fresh berries

Just layer the custard, cream and berries in a fancy glass and there you go!

On the spinning front, I finished the remnants of Tanglewood Fibers for Trish and will be sending that off, and have resumed spinning the 6 pounds of Stansborough fleece I bought from New Zealand last year (no, I didn't get to go there personally). It has taken me a year of spinning (between spinning for Trish) and I have not even finished half of the fleece to make a Lord of the Rings cloak.

I have about 3 pounds of light grey and three pounds of dark grey. The idea is spin very fine yarn of each and weave them together to form the very intricate pattern. So far I have only spun about 2/3 of the dark fleece.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

In the Market

Paul and I have found our dream home in South Carolina, just over the border from North Carolina. And when I say "just over the border" we can say it with sincerity. Our backyard fence would be the North-South Carolina border! Fun, eh? The house is not supposed to be completed until January 2008 so it gives us some time to get all our ducks in a row. The floor plan is called the Dunwoody and is the greatest we have seen by far.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A New Friend

Today Paul and I went back to The Bird Zone to buy Fairlight a new tent for her cage because her old one is getting a bit worn and chewed. She only goes in her tent to sleep at night, but without it we think she'd be lost. If I had to be totally truthful, though, I had alterior motives. Other stores carry tents but the Bird Zone has a very special person... I mean bird...that I kinda got attached to a few weeks ago.

Paul and I have already named him Marvin Dexter Teague. Both our parrots are named after places, so this new friend would have to be the same. Marvin would be named after the town of Marvin nearby, and Dexter would be his middle name because african greys are known for their intelligence, and well, Dexter just seems to sound intelligent. So there you have it. Isn't he just so cute(Paul, too, of course)?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tornado Times

Today I was sent from the office to meet one of our equipment suppliers who was renting us a generator for a field job starting Monday. It seemed a harmless drive and I was happy to get out of the office for a pleasant drive to take in the scenerey on the way to Greensboro. And it was a nice trip there with perfect timing of two hours. However, just as I arrived at the meeting spot I heard over the radio a strange 3 tone sound and then an announcement stating that there was a tornado warning for "south county". Holy cow, I thought. What does one do in a tornado? My only visions were of Dorothy in the "Wizard of Oz." So I called my office to find out where South County was and what to do if I see the symptoms of a funnel. Anyway, all that happened was a torrential downpour which I waited out in Home Depot.
On my drive home it rained nearly the whole way and my drive was punctuated with the sadness of many accidents on the side of the freeway. Another tornado announcement came over the radio and said that Davison County (I think that was the name) was on the alert for a tornado, and again I wondered if I was driving through Davison County. No sooner had the thought crossed my mind when I saw a sign saying, "welcome to Davison County." As scared as I was, it was pretty funny really. I kept my eyes upward as much as forward, and to my relief I didn't see any circular movement in the clouds. Whew. Sadly, some places did sustain some damage from a tornado or two in the area today, although I didn't hear how badly.
A good thing about all this rain is that hopefully with a few more good dowses, NC will be out of the drought. I think a lot of folks will be happy to begin planting again, as we were requested to not plant landscaping this fall.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

On the way to one of the mundane tasks of collecting the mail at our mail center, Paul and I happened across a very beautiful sight. A buttery yellow object came gliding out of the sky almost floating like a leaf until it flapped once or twice and then floated again. Butterflies always seem pretty graceful, but this surpassed any I've seen and maybe it was the shear size of its wings that made it appear to move effortlessly. Anyway, I ran back home to get the camera realizing that the patch of flowers it was heading to seemed to be keeping it busy. Sure enough, there it was flitting from flower to flower, not noticing us in the least.

Of course then I came back and tried to find what kind of butterfly it was and turns out it is the state butterfly of South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Alabama and Delaware-- a popular belle. This yellow beauty is called an eastern tiger swallowtail (Notice the long tail like extensions on the wings). It can be found as far north as southern Vermont and as far west as Colorado, but it is most prominent in the east. It is noted to be a strong flier according to South Carolina State Parks, and an important pollinator of orchards and gardens.

If you are into knitting like me, and would like a lace challenge, check out Fluff Buff's new project that is called "Wing o' the moth" which reminds me of this butterfly. She posted it on Sept. 10.

In case you were wondering, I still can't figure out what type of butterfly we found over Labor Day (see picture). Let me know if you know-- I'm very curious.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Allergies and Musical Nights

The last few nights it seems Paul's allergies have hit a crescendo. In the earlier part of the night his nose plays the quiet notes and melodies of a sweet slumber, but around 3:00 his nose is so blocked up it plays like a trombone hitting the highest notes of the composition. In reality, it's sounds more like a party favor on New Year's but regardless, it creates an element of surprise so powerful that it not only wakes me up, but wakes Paul up himself, as he sits up and says, "what was that?"

So I've looked up on Wikipedia what might be causing his allergies, and most likely isn't anything special to North Carolina. The most common allergen out there is Ragweed which is pervasive across all of North America. Since North Carolina has more greenery in general than California, it probably also has more ragweed. In case you want to see the culprit, here it is:

Botany is such a fascinating science and so I'm working on learning the plants in my new environment. Here is some of Wikipedia's comments on ragweed:

"Each plant is reputed to be able to produce about a billion grains of pollen over a season, and the plant is wind-pollinated. It is highly allergenic, as the greatest pollen allergen of all pollens, and the prime cause of hayfever. The plant blooms in the northern hemisphere from about mid August until cooler weather arrives. It usually produces pollen more copiously in wet seasons. Two species, Ambrosia artemisiifolia and A. psilostachya, are considered among the most noxious to those prone to hay fever.

Ragweed is a plant of concern in the global warming issue, because tests have shown that higher levels of carbon dioxide will greatly increase pollen production. "

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Green is Good

I do love green--a general lover of nature and a bit of a tree-hugger, proud to say. So when we lost "Big Red" during the move toNC, it was a big loss. Big Red was our baby California redwood tree that we brought back from a Napa Valley petrified forest tourist shop on our 4th of July excursion last year. Big Red doubled in size from 6" to a whopping 12" over the past year living on our balcony in the hot San Fernando valley. But the moving van delay from the promised 7 to 14 days to over 3 weeks just whithered Big Red. We tried to rejuvinate him (Paul faithfully misted him with water every day) but to no avail. Not wanting to jump to finding a replacement, we waited a few weeks, but when Big Red went from shriveled green to brown we decided to order another redwood tree from Cali. Little Red arrived yesterday and here he is all planted and perky on our porch.
This morning I woke up rested and refreshed for the first time in days (all the travel throws a kink in the sleep pattern) and decided to get going on Trish's wool (see Trish's Tanglewood Fiber blog) that I have failed to finish spinning. I'm going on close to three months and she has been a saint, patiently waiting for me to get my life together and to send her her single ply. I love helping Trish with her spinning-- she supplies me with fun and lively wool to spin and it saves me from having to buy expensive fiber. Plus, she's a gem to work for.

This is my Majacraft "Rose" spinning wheel modeling Tanglewood Fiber.

And this little guy is a model specimen of our house guest that I mentioned yesterday. He is a green anole, I found out through some web searching. The above picture and following description is from Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia:
"This species is native to North America, where it is found mainly in the southeastern parts of the continent. Anoles are most abundant on the coastal plain from North Carolina to Florida, and west into central Texas, at least as far as San Antonio. They have also been introduced into Hawaii. It is sometimes referred to as the American chameleon due to its color-changing abilities; however, it is not a true chameleon. The species is also relatively popular as a pet. This and most other anole species are rarely bred in captivity, so most specimens sold in the pet trade are wild-caught. Anoles are, by their nature, curious creatures. A healthy lizard usually has a good awareness of its surroundings."

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Permanent Residents and House Guests

I did end up going away for work on Thursday after all. I came into the office Thursday morning at 10 till 8:00 with my overnight bag and stuff for the field just in case and they said, "We're leaving in a few minutes so get your stuff together." And off we went. I got home last night at 10:30 after two full days in the field, a long drive back and unpacking at the office.
Meanwhile, our girls have been adjusting just fine to their home. Clementine, our pionus, loves to stare out the window and watch all the critters outside. She gets really excited when we open the sliding glass door so she can listen to the bugs, the birds and the neighbors.

Fairlight (Green-cheeked conure) doesn't have a real appreciation for the great outdoors. As long as she has her toys to play with and Paul within her sight, she's a happy bird. She's been extra clingy since our move though.

Clementine has made a new friend.

A little green lizard comes by every afternoon lately and clings to our sliding glass door staring in while she stares out. He's a cute little guy about an inch and a half long. Paul says that he's very tame and likes to have his picture taken. Do geckos live on the east coast? I just have never seen a lizard be able to scale glass.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

On the Road Again

Can't say my job's boring! Today I was told that we may or may not be in the field tomorrow and spending the night up there to continue work on Friday. "Just pack your bag and be at work early tomorrow morning and we'll know by then whether or not we're going." Talk about spontaneous! Glad Paul and I have nothing planned. Just in case I'm leaving, Paul and I decided to get our fun in ahead of time and went out to dinner. There's this great place down the road called Quaker's Steak and Lube. It was an old gas station turned restaurant and is named after a big drag racing event called Quaker's Stake. Correct me if I'm wrong about this info... I know nothing about car racing, but that's gotta change if I'm going to make it here as this is Land of the Race Car (or so it seems).

Off to the mountains I go (or not) so I'll be reporting back in a few days (or tomorrow) when I get home.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Spin or Not to Spin

A Tuesday back to the office as a first day of the week is harder than a Monday, I'm convinced. After being out in the field for work all last week in the most beautiful place I can imagine for environmental contamination, it's hard to be in the office. Although I can't specify where I was exactly, the important thing is to know that it was green, forest-filled and only remotely contaminated. Which made it a real pleasure to be there working. This is in every way opposite of every site I've been to in the Los Angeles area when I was doing the same type of environmental work there. So I have a new-found appreciation for my job.

My doldrums of being back in the office were also the result of having just finished a splendid three day weekend with perfect weather and having mixed fun/sense-of-accomplishment times.

Tonight, I got some things done that are not worth mentioning and then was going to dig out the box containing the rest of my Kromski spinning wheel parts and wool. But ugh. The box was on the bottom of the pile of other boxes, and it just seemed like too much work for a Monday.. I mean Tuesday. So maybe tomorrow....I do miss spinning so much though. My Majacraft wheel is the type that comes out of the box ready to go, so when I unpacked it from our moving boxes, it was all set to spin complete with half a bobbin of yarn already on it and a tease of a hank of fiber hanging from the flyer. It only took a half a minute to spin that last night, it seemed, and I was just getting warmed up. You spinners know what I mean. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow night. It will be spinning first, chores second.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Actors' Day Out on Campbell's Greenway

That's right, you read it right-- Actor's Day Out. We had a lazy start today and managed to mozy out of the house around noon, heading for an incognito walk along Campbell's Greenway near our home. We pulled into the parking lot (note our red Mustang above) and were promptly followed by a news van. We headed for the nearest bench and sat down to enjoy our picnic lunch of cheese and cucumber sandwiches because we had already worked up an appetite just driving there. We were savoring our first taste of sandwich when we were approached by a man in a business outfit, apologizing for interupting our chewing. He introduced himself as being from Channel 9 news and wanted to know if he could get our opinions on Charlotte's city council's vote on preserving more greenways for recreational use and wildlife. We explained that we just got here to Charlotte but were happy to oblige. So there you have it! We make our appearance on the news tonight, supposedly, but we have no TV connection to see if it happens. All I could think about while Paul was talking was, "Is my hair ok?" and "Dang it, forgot my lipstick!" Not really, but what are the chances of having something so random as that happening? Pretty darn funny, I'd say. The Channel 9 news website has the video at if you want to see Paul in action, with a cameo appearance by yours truly. The article has the video to the right hand side with a picture of a bulldozer on the front. Just click on play!

The man of the TV himself..... Mr. Paul Teague

After our interview we packed up and headed on our walk of the greenway. Here's a colorful butterfly we saw on the way.

And for you fishing enthusiasts (Dad), there are little pockets even in Charlotte.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Newcomers to Charlotte

Well, us four newly North Carolinians are enjoying our fourth week here in Charlotte. Paul, me and the two birds had our first day that felt like the onset of fall. As one knowing native said, "The first of September is like flicking a switch." And he was right! Going from 90's to 70's was a great transition. Paul and I sat out on the porch of our new apartment and had cereal and orange juice. The birds came out too, and Clementine, our stinky parrot who is finicky about baths, asked for a shower today when she came outside by fanning out her feathers. We all had fun in the fresh air all day by having all the windows open and no airconditioning on. What a treat!

Today was kitchen setup day. We unpacked all our kitchen boxes, washed everything and managed to find a cupboard spot for nearly everything (our kitchen is slightly smaller in storage than our apartment in California). As we unpacked each box, we had a fun little note written by different members of my family that had packed the box in California. It was really fun reading all those notes which were pretty funny. One example by my expert poet mother, "Mashed potatoes are creamy, John Wayne is tall, it won't be long before you're saying y'all!"

We just finished getting all that put away and are heading out for the barbeque. Tomorrow is going to be a fun, no chore Labor Day!

Below are some pictures from our road trip two weeks ago and our new place:

Here's our home in California in packing mode.

We couldn't have done it all without the help of family and friends!

We left on our road trip from Mom and Dad's Tuesday afternoon, August 7.

On the road-- pit stop in the shade at a Subway in Utah. See the birds in the backseat?

The hotel shuffle with the birds was always interesting. The girls actually got quite good at it... and so did Paul.

The mobile office at the back of Hardee's (eastern version of Carl's Jr.). Paul was so busy with phone calls and home setup while we were on the road.

The only shade in Eastern Colorado! Arby's lunch break before the long drive through Kansas.

The Whistle Stop. On this lonely deserted road we saw this fun Kansas sign. As Paul was taking my picture a truck actually drove by! Not only that but they whistled at me.

Sunday afternoon, our first day in our new home!

Bedding that we bought at Costco that morning.

Dinner at last!