Gail Garber Designs

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Gail's Quilting Blog

Where the Wild Things Are


Here’s where I found myself a couple of days ago.  It’s a nondescript little place, right on the side of U.S. 550 just before the village of San Ysidro in north-central New Mexico, known as the Perea Nature Trail, or the San Ysidro Marsh. With the drought we’ve had the last few years and water diversions upstream, it’s not much of a marsh any longer. For the past 15 years, we at Hawks Aloft have monitored this site for the Bureau of Land Management as it was once one of their riparian restoration sites and may soon be again. I arrive before the sun crests over the Jemez Mountains.

Willow Flycatcher

However dry the marsh may be, it still hosts a number of birds, including this Willow Flycatcher. We have had consistent sightings of this flycatcher during the early season throughout the years.

Yellow Breasted Chat

The most numerous and noisy resident is the Yellow-breasted Chat. They are everywhere! Watching their song and display flight with the breast and belly pushed out is always a treat. It seems as if it would not be possible to fly like that.

Black chinned Hummer

Another very common bird is the Black-chinned Hummingbird. They love the Russian olive thickets that make such good bird habitat.

Blue Grosbeak

Not to be outdone is the Blue Grosbeak who sings his bubbly song from atop at high perch on a juniper or Russian olive.

Gray Catbird

Recently, we have noted a considerable increase in Gray Catbird. For many years, seeing or hearing one of these secretive birds would have been unusual but, now they are present in good numbers. But, because they tend to remain low in the vegetation, they can be very hard to see. If you hear a cat mewing in the thicket, it is probably one of these guys.

Lazuli Bunting

One of the most difficult birds to find regularly in New Mexico is the Lazuli Bunting.  This little fellow sings with exuberance, but sits pretty darn still while he’s singing.


Lastly, coyotes call this place home too. I took this image on July 3, 2012 when I came upon a coyote sniffing something. I stood very still and was able to snap off a few images. It seemed that he/she was as interested in me as I was in him. Once I began moving forward, he ran off, but soon returned with his friends. While standing at the designated point, I was treated to a coyote chorus from the pack that now surrounded me.

Thanks to David Powell and Doug Brown for the use of some of the bird images above.

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Summer Solstice Adventure

June 20 dawned hot and sunny!  What could possibly be better than heading off to southern New Mexico to camp overnight at the Journada del Muerto (a.k.a. journey of the dead)!  It’s a dry piece of land, no doubt about that, and hot too, with almost no shade anywhere.  There must have been something special that drew us to this location, Ted Turner’s Armendaris Ranch near T or C, New Mexico.   Hawks Aloft does monthly raptor surveys on the expansive ranch.  We are privileged to be able to visit one the premier wildlife viewing areas of our state.  Our trip began with a lovely look at our state flower in full bloom, the yucca!

Farther along the road we encountered the bison herd, complete with very young baby bison.


But, it was the bat caves that drew us to this location.  The Armendaris is home to the second largest colony of bats in North America.  Most are Mexican free-tailed bats, but there are up to 8 different species.

With no one else for miles and miles, we were able to get close up looks at these magnificent creatures as they emerged just before dusk.  A handful of Swainson’s Hawks also were on hand, but they weren’t there merely for the view.

The bat flight is nothing short of spectacular as wave after wave depart for their nightly foraging feast, bugalicious dinner on the wing.

Here, Sami Sanborn, checks out the bats up close and personal.  If you hold your hands in the air the bats will shift to avoid your hands.

The flight continued until well after dark.  After dinner we enjoyed this magnificent sunset, with the brilliant red due to all the smoke in the air from the fires raging in New Mexico.  I can’t think of a better or more inspirational place to be!

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Birthday Birdies

Mary's Apron

My friend Mary loves birds. While I was in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, I found an artist, Julian, who painted the design I wanted onto a canvas apron. The panting was great, but the apron was boring! So, I spiffed it up with special trim and some prairie points. Happy Bird-day Mary!

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Last Day in North Carolina

I’m enjoying my last day of teaching in North Carolina at the Quilt Symposium.  We’ve had so much fun and the ladies here are so creative!

Karen Barger


Karen Barger finished all of the sections of her Tutti Frutti pattern in the Scrumptious Stars class at the North Carolina Quilt Symposium.


3-D Star


Look at the great 3-D effect Karen got with the use of the wavy print in the center of the star!  Good job, Karen!  (Hmmm, I’m pretty sure I have some of that Y2K fabric in my stash! )

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More from North Carolina!

What a great time we had at the North Carolina Quilt Symposium!

Wonky Flowers

This is Wonky Flowers, by Phyllis Tarrant!  She designed this in the Goose is Loose class and then stitched it in her room that night.

Helen Turnipseed showed up in the Goose is Loose class with a nearly finished quilt top, made from the pattern in my book, Flying Colors.  Very nice!

I also had some free time to explore this incredibly beautiful state!

Cherohola Skyway

Here we are looking toward Tennessee, at the top of the Cherohola Skyway!

I found a life bird, the Cerulean Warbler, lower down too!  Not bad for a half-day outing!

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North Carolina Quilt Symposium

I’m here in the heart of the Smoky Mountains this week. I finished judging the quilt show for the North Carolina Quilt Sympsium last week. It’s a great show with some fabulous quilts! I had a day off to explore the back country before teaching began. What a beautiful state!! I’m teaching for both the Quilt Symposium and the Smokey Mountain Quilters Guild.

Donna's block
Donna Christensen designed and stitched this block in her quilt just by reading my book, Flying Colors! Way cool!

Donna's Name Tag
And look what else Donna made: this name tag with tiny little Grandmothers Flower Garden pieces. She is one talented quilter!

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Lincoln, Nebraska

During my recent teaching trip in Lincoln Nebraska, I had the pleasure of visiting The International Quilt Study Center & Museum .  What a thrill!  Many thanks to the museum for a private tour of the galleries on a day they were not open.  The museum is located on the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. It houses a world-class collection of quilts, special exhibitions, a virtual gallery, and experiences for all ages. The Center houses the largest publicly held quilt collection in the world. The 3500+ quilts date from the early 1700s to the present and represent more than 25 countries.

Thread Sculpture
This is the thread sculpture that greets visitors upon arrival to the museum.

The museum had a special display of quilts by Jean Ray Laury, one of the iconic quiltmakers of North America. Jean’s quilts spoke volumes about her beliefs. This is one of Laury’s best known quilts, “Barefoot and Pregnant”.

Jean Ray Laury Quilt

The museum also had an exhibit in which contemporary quiltmakers replicated antique quilts in a smaller scale. All quilts in this exhibit are 45″ square. This quilt is called Louise’s Star by Nancy Ostman.
Louise's Stars

The museum also included an exhibit of contemporary quilts.

One of the galleries features signature quilts from the 1800s and 1900s.

For a look at my complete photo album from the museum, please go to my Facebook post.

Be sure to make Lincoln, NE a stop on your next trip through middle America!

(All images posted with permission of IHQSG Museum.)

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International Quilt Study Center and Museum

One of the highlights of my trip to Lincoln, Nebraska was a private tour of the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.   What a thrill be be able to view the quilts on display under the expert guidance of one of their volunteers and an active guild member.  The tour began with a gallery featuring some signature quilts from the 1800s and 1900s.  I photographed the quilts (with permission) and show the quilt followed by its label.  Stay tuned for more about the other galleries

These are just a few of the signature quilts on display.  Be sure to check out the display in you are in the Lincoln, NE area.

More tomorrow!


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