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Hawks Aloft

Quilt In A Day – Hawks Aloft Style – Part 2

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear with no evidence that it should have been wintry.  Our hearty crew was hard at work early on.

Sweatshop 2014

Sweatshop 2014

Stitching, stitching . . .

Steve Elkins uses paper foundation piecing techniques to stitch blocks for the quilt.

Steve Elkins uses paper foundation piecing techniques to stitch blocks for the quilt.

It wasn’t long before the different blocks began to emerge.

Star Block in progress

Star Block in progress

Keep Calm and Carry On was the mantra of the day.  For a while it seemed like the stack of block kits was getting larger, not smaller.

Pat Folsom, the newbie to this year's retreat.

Pat Folsom, the newbie to this year’s retreat.

We were twelve strong, including two newbies, Pat Folsom and Allison Schacht.  Both had such a good time, they have already signed up for 2015.

First Look at the Middle

First Look at the Middle

It wasn’t long before the center star was completed.  Here, Cynthia Figuerora-McInteer shows the results to Steve E. and Laurie Marnell, while my dog, Gabby, looks on.  He’s probably not terribly impressed.  After all, this is his 9th quilt retreat.

The Center is done!

The Center is done!

Shortly thereafter, the inner border of Flying Geese completed the center.  Now, to stitch that to the already existing Flying Hawk circular border.  And so it went, until late afternoon when all the blocks were completed and we began to stitch the final borders.

Sami Sews on the Border

Sami Sews on the Border

We took turns stitching on the final borders, so four sewers each attached one border.  It is a one woman stitching job at this point.

Snoozing

Snoozing

As our excitement mounted, the dogs remained unimpressed.

Mary Chappelle sews on the third border.

Mary Chappelle sews on the third border.

and, finally as the dinner hour neared . . .

Chellye Porter and Laurie Marnell work on the Final Border

Chellye Porter and Laurie Marnell work on the Final Border

by this point, it really helped to have a holder to keep the weight of the quilt top from dragging on the stitcher!  And, Ta-Da!  We finished at 5:59 p.m., one hour earlier than the 2013 quilt.  We celebrated in style that evening and then posed for the final photo the following morning.

The 2014 Hawks Aloft Raffle Quilt Top.

The 2014 Hawks Aloft Raffle Quilt Top.  Image by Steve Elkins.

From L-R: Pat Folsom, Anita McSorley, Sam Sanborn, Chellye Porter, Miss Elaenia, Gail, Gabby, Barry, Laurie Marnell, Steve Elkins, Cynthia Figueroa-McInteer, Ed Chappelle, Allison Schacht, Mary Chappelle, and Layla!  A good time was had by all.  Many thanks to all who participated.  The quilt top has now gone off to Lincoln, NE where it will be magically quilted by Kris Vierra!  Look for it to make its debut at the Monte Vista Crane Festival, in Monte Vista, CO in early March.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Quilt In A Day – Hawks Aloft Style – Part One

Raffle Quilt 2014 - Sneak Peek

Raffle Quilt 2014 – Sneak Peek

It all started about a week before the big event, when several of us worked on pre-sewing the birds so we would have a chance to complete the 2014 Hawks Aloft raffle quilt in one day which is always our goal.

The Cabin.  Image by Steve Elkins.

The Cabin. Image by Steve Elkins.

Three of us, Ruth B., Laurie Marnell, and yours truly, decided to retreat to the cabin on Thursday for some relaxation.  Laurie brought her dog, Barry, along for the weekend.

Laurie and Barry

Laurie and Barry

Playful and unbearably cute, Barry got along well with my dogs, Laney and Gabby.  They played themselves into exhaustion,

Ruth with Gabby and Barry

Ruth with Gabby and Barry

while Miss Elaenia practiced looking cute!  It’s one of her best skills and I believe that she practices in the mirror when I am not home.

Laney, the Cute!

Laney, the Cute!

Friday afternoon, the rest of the crowd arrived and we worked on cutting kits for the individual blocks, with Ed, our master cutter, a.k.a. Mr. Precision!

Ed

Ed Chappelle

Ed and Mary brought their newly adopted dog too, Layla, who wasn’t too sure about Barry!

Layla

Layla

It was a Four Dog Night!  While the dogs all got acquainted, so did we!

Dinner in the New Room

Dinner in the New Room

Enjoying a sumptuous dinner by Ruth and Chellye Porter, we relaxed in style in the new room, for tomorrow would be all about stitching.  Could we do it?  Would we succeed in finishing quilt top #21 in just one day?

 

 

 

 

 

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New Year and New Beginnings

As I sit down to write this I realize that it has been almost a month since my last post.   I apologize for slacking off during the holidays this year.  However, even though I haven’t been posting, I have not been idle!

Butterfly Filigree

Butterfly Filigree  

Many thanks go to my longtime friend and colleague, Donna Barnitz, who came up with the idea for the filigree work.  The butterflies are part of a quilt in progress and this was our first attempt, using UltraSuede and hand painted fabrics from Mickey Lawler, of SkyDyes.  This work in progress let loose an entire Pandora’s box of ideas for similar work.  Next up on my list of projects was to design the Hawks Aloft raffle quilt for 2014.  (Pam Eastman, of Edgewood, NM, won the 2013 quilt.)

Cooper's Hawk in Flight.  Image by Doug Brown.

Cooper’s Hawk in Flight. Image by Doug Brown.

Through my work at Hawks Aloft, I am very fortunate to know some incredible photographers, like Doug Brown, who allow us to use their images in our public outreach, and social media pages.  Donna and I came up with the idea of doing a filigree bird for the 2014 quilt.  Actually, the idea was more hers than mine.  So, we started looking at Doug’s images and settled on the above image of a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk in flight.  Of course, our work would only be an interpretation of the image, not a literal translation.

One Hawk

One Hawk

The silhouette of the hawk fit perfectly into the space that it needed to fill.  Donna traced the shapes onto fusible web that we then fused to UltraSuede.  Then, we cut out the shapes including all the filigree spaces within the larger shape.  Donna thought that adding an emblem unique to New Mexico, would enhance the overall design, hence the Zia symbol.  We divided up the cutting out process among five of us, Donna, Afton Warrick, Mary Chappelle, Laurie Marnell and yours truly.  Once those were cut out, we cut another piece of fabric, a batik, and placed it beneath the UltraSuede and fused everything to a background.  All was well, except that we weren’t comfortable that the fusible would be secure enough without extra stitching.  And, we had only seven days in which to complete all 12 of the hawks!!!

Afton Warrick and Donna Barnitz

Afton Warrick and Donna Barnitz

We had a stitching party two days ago, with the goal of getting all the zigzag stitching around the outside of the hawks.  Donna, Afton, Laurie and Laurie’s dog, Barry, joined me!  Oh, what fun we had!

Laurie and Barry

Laurie and Barry

Barry was especially helpful as he helped folks do special things, like washing our hands with his large tongue and wagging tail.  Actually, the best part was that Barry got along so well with my dogs, Gabby and Laney, that they wore each other out and had to take loooong naps later in the afternoon.

The Sewers - Laurie Afton Donna Barnitz, and Laurie Marnell

The Sewers – Laurie Marnell,  Afton Warrick, Donna Barnitz

We began stitching at 10:30 a.m. and by 3 p.m. all 12 hawks had been secured with Superior Threads Invisible Polyester Thread.  We stuck them to my design wall so we could photograph our handiwork.

Afton the Angel

Afton the Angel

Afton even sprouted a pair of wings for her angelic efforts!

Birds on Design Wall

Birds on Design Wall

And, here they are – 12 hawks adorning the wall, interspersed with other works in progress.  After my sewing buddies all went home, one more task remained: trimming all the hawk blocks to size and stitching the circular border together.  Then, I also added the outer border to square it up!

Raffle Quilt 2014 - Sneak Peek

Raffle Quilt 2014 – Sneak Peek

And here it is!  The official Quilt Retreat takes place next weekend at the cabin in the Jemez Mountains.  We will have 12 quilters on hand, and we hope to complete the remainder of the quilt top in one day!  Do you think we can do it?

Stay tuned . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Life Well Lived

It was a really rough week last week, one of those where just getting through every day is a chore.  None of the posts I intended to write every made it to the ‘publish’ stage either.  Normally, I only post about quilt-related material on this blog, but I also know that many of you, if not all of you, have heard stories of my beloved “Trouble”, the American Kestrel that lived with me for the past 19 and a half years.  She crossed over the Rainbow Bridge last week after a sudden and rapid decline that began as soon as I arrived home from a teaching trip to New Jersey.  I hope you will enjoy this post about my love affair with a very special bird.

The Christmas Kestrel

The Christmas Kestrel

In the spring of 2014, we will celebrate the 20th birthday of Hawks Aloft, the organization that I, and other founded in 1994.  It seems like yesterday; we were the new conservation organization in town, running on a shoe string budget thanks to our initial funders, Blue Sky Natural Beverage Company, the Frost Foundation, and our main benefactors Jerry and Sally Mayeux.  We had a fledgling education program, a full-time educator, and a part-time director – me. We also hoped that, someday, we would be paid to conduct research. But, with few documented research credentials, we began our program with the help of volunteers and organization founders, Jerry Hobart, Jim Place, and Chuck Brandt. That was the beginning of the Raptor Monitoring Surveys in the Rio Grande and Estancia valleys, conducted entirely by volunteers then, and still an all-volunteer effort – 20 years later.

We borrowed raptors from others for our education programs and set about acquiring the necessary permits. We extend a big thank you to Shirley and Jack Kendall, who helped us submit the paperwork, and build the first outdoor flight cages that would become home to the educational ambassadors that captivate children and adults alike.

Trouble at the Cabin

Trouble at the Cabin

Shirley called one day to tell me about a fledgling American Kestrel that had been found alongside a ditch in Albuquerque. The kestrel, a female, was placed with other young kestrels in a large flight cage at the Kendall Rehabilitation Facility in Corrales, where all would be provided with live mice so they could learn to hunt and hone their flight skills. But, this particular falcon had little interest in earning her meals. Instead, she begged loudly and plaintively whenever Shirley went out to feed the growing brood. It became obvious that this young female was a human imprint and would never be releasable.

Trouble Bathes, splashing water everywhere

Trouble Bathes, splashing water everywhere

She became our first official education bird, coming to live with me.  A friendly little chit of a bird, she and I bonded immediately,as only and imprinted raptor can, chirring sweetly when I offered her mice or mealworms. It wasn’t long; however, before I noticed broken feathers and fault bars (or weak spots) in the ones that remained. Soon, nearly all of her feathers were broken at the tissue level, leaving her unable to fly, and similarly incapable of being outdoors, exposed to the elements.  We named her Trouble, because her troubles were caused by a thoughtless human.

After the Bath - Drying off on Top of the Computer Monitor

After the Bath – Drying off on Top of the Computer Monitor

At age one, after a year of proper diet, she grew good, strong feathers and a matching attitude. She learned to fly inside my house!  Jack built her a 20’ long flight cage outside my kitchen window.  She spent her days out there, but every night around dusk, she returned to the window to be let in, flying through the house to the bathroom, where she put herself to bed on the bathroom door.

Where Food Comes From

Where Food Comes From

By then, she also had decided that we were an ‘item’, and I was a precious resource to be guarded at all times. Over the years, Trouble took out her wrath on our hapless educators and unwary visitors to my home, waiting silently on a high perch until their backs were turned, whereupon she launched the stealth attack, whacking them on the back of the head. Trouble charmed school children with her striking beauty, her unfortunate situation caused by humans, and her larger-than-life personality.  She was, indeed, a legend among all who knew her.

Guarding the Mouse from me!  The Mouse I had Just Handed to Her.

Guarding the Mouse from me! The Mouse I had Just Handed to Her.

Although I knew that eventually the time would come to say good-bye, the little kestrel princess seemed to defy death time and time again. She escaped twice but was successfully recaptured both times after several anxiety filled days. We retired her at age fifteen, about three times the normal life expectancy for any American Kestrel. Still, she continued to thrive, coming indoors at night and hunting for mealworms in their plastic tub.  One night last week, she came to the window as she always did, and I dutifully delivered the mealworm tub, but she refused to eat. It was then that I noticed her ragged appearance and brought her indoors.  After a rapid decline, she crossed over the rainbow bridge the next morning.

Trouble, the Kestrel Princess

Trouble, the Kestrel Princess

Trouble won’t be with us for our 20th Anniversary celebrations next spring, but will live on in our memories – one remarkable falcon – the kestrel princess!

Thank you for bearing with me on this painful post. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

Bosque Surveys

Bosque Surveys

Back at home in Albuquerque, I immediately morphed back into my bird girl persona, up at 4:30 or 5:00 each morning in order to count birds in the bosque (the riparian forest along the river).  Most of the songbirds are heard rather than seen, so photos are slim pickins!  But, some of my favorites are larger and more photogenic, like

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

this Great Horned Owl trying desperately to hide among the dense vegetation.  I would have never seen him/her except for the raucous calls and keks of the local Cooper’s Hawk who had discovered and was loudly objecting to his presence.

Cooper's Hawk nestling

Cooper’s Hawk nestling

But, Mama Cooper’s Hawk was merely trying to protect her three babes from a potential predator.  Being along the river at dawn is an amazing experience.  There are NO other people around, just me and nature.  It feeds my soul.  And, I see some extraordinary sights.  One day as I was trying unsuccessfully to photograph a Turkey Vulture, I nearly missed seeing this little fellow about 10 feet away and right at eye level.

Porcupine

Porcupine

I am a lucky woman.

Along the Rio Grande

Along the Rio Grande

 

 

 

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A Proud Tradition!

There we were at the end of January – off to our 20th Annual Quilt Retreat weekend to stitch up the 2013 raffle quilt, our main fundraiser for Hawks Aloft, the other passion in my life.  Fourteen worker types with various degrees of sewing prowess, 24 hours, my cabin in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico, and with unparalleled  beautiful scenery outside the windows to distract.  Think we can get it done? Every year it’s our challenge.

The sweatshop, 2013 style.

The Sweatshop

 

The Hawks Aloft quilt raffle is an annual tradition.  Each year, yours truly creates an original design for the Hawks Aloft quilt. Once the design is completed, it is cut and stitched by an all volunteer team at our annual winter retreat. The quilt is unveiled each year at the Monte Vista Crane Festival in March. The Hawks Aloft community works together and produces both an heirloom quality quilt and a successful fundraiser. The proceeds from the raffle benefit the Hawks Aloft educational birds by helping to defray food costs. The winning raffle quilt ticket will be drawn at the annual Hawks Aloft Holiday Party on December 13, 2013.

 

 

Ed Chappelle is our Master Cutter!

 

Chellye Stitches the Outer Border

 

Chellye Porter removes paper foundations from the outer border.

 

Laney was the champion lounging dog!

 

Debby Caffrey

Debbie Prescott Caffrey works on the quilt center.

 

Laurie Marnell

Laurie Marnell was a first timer at the retreat. We were thrilled to have her expert help.

 

Carolyn Sanborn, a.k.a. Sami, works on the quilt center.

 

Quilt middle almost done.

 

Sharing a laugh or two over afternoon snacks! — with Sami Sanborn, Mary Chappelle, Cynthia Figueroa-McInteer, Anita Marsh McSorley, Steve Elkins, Laurie Marnell, and Chellye Porter at the cabin in the Jemez Mountains.

 

Rhianna and Olivia and Sami

Rhianna and Olivia were the youngest participants. Sami works hard in the background.

 

Ed and Steve, the champion paper rippers!

 

Gabby held down the furniture while we worked.

 

Finished at 7 pm

 

Did I say that we finished at 7 p.m. on Saturday!  Here’s the proof! — with Sami Sanborn, Chellye Porter, Anita Marsh McSorley, Cynthia Figueroa-McInteer, Mary Chappelle and Lauri Marnell.  I’m pretty sure the clock in the background tells accurate time . . .

 

And, here’s the official photo of the top, taken by Steve Elkins! Thanks to all who participated in the 2013 Quilt Retreat. It’s our 20th raffle quilt! I was hoping to show the beautiful quilting by Kris Vierra,  of Lincoln, NE, but it is TOO windy out there today to take a photo!  Dang!  Stay tuned for the final photo and information on how to buy tickets!!

Many thanks to all who helped before, during and after the retreat:  Donna Barnitz for pre-sewing and testing the pattern pieces, and Michele Hymel for binding the quilt and attaching the sleeve, Kris Vierra for machine quilting, and Ann Silva’s Bernina Sewing Center for loaning sewing machines for the retreat.   Retreat Participants were Ruth Burstrom, Debbie Caffrey, Ed Chappelle, Mary Chappelle, Steve Elkins, Laurie Marnell, Cynthia Figueroa-McInteer, Anita McSorley, Liz Roberts, Chellye Porter, Rhianna Roberts, Sam Sanborn,and Olivia Velasquez,

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The Full Circle.

Save Our Eagles © 1991 by Gail Garber and friends. Image by Mary Elkins.

Have you ever had one of those experiences that completely changes the direction of your life?  “Save Our Eagles” did just that for me.  Back in 1989, my friends and I offered to make a fund-raising raffle quilt for a local conservation organization.  Other than a love of the outdoors, I was not particularly interested in birds of any kind and had only a passing knowledge of raptors.  But, as we hand-stitched our quilt (like many quilts of that era), I met and fell in love with the group’s first educational raptor, a Red-tailed Hawk, named Red.  It had never occurred to me that being that close to a once wild bird was possible.  More than anything, I wanted to work with her.

Big Red (1989 – 2006). Image by Jerry Hobart.

So, I became a volunteer and eventually became an employee of the organization.  Big Red came to live in a large flight cage that we built for her behind my house.  Each day that she was part of my life was a blessing.  In 1994, we started Hawks Aloft, the non-profit that I continue to direct to this day.  We have a cadre of about 26 non-releasable educational raptors that we use to spread our conservation message.  The presence of the hawk, owl or falcon never fails to entrance children and adults alike.  I know, from personal experience, that a close up encounter with one of these magnificent creatures can change lives.

Hawks Aloft 2012 Raffle Quilt

Because I had been a quilter long before I started Hawks Aloft, we immediately set about making an annual raffle quilt to help raise funds.  Above is our 2012 quilt, stitched by 15 volunteers in one weekend at the cabin!  It was a blast and men, women and children help in its creation each year.  The winning raffle ticket will be drawn on December 1, 2012 at our annual holiday party!  If you would like to purchase a ticket, they are $1 each or 6 for $5.  You can purchase them on the Hawks Aloft website.  Just click on the icon for either single or multiple tickets.

Another occurrence in 2012 affected the lives of not only myself, but also many of my friends.   My friend and colleague in Gail Garber – the company, Michele Hymel, was diagnosed with lung cancer.  It was a huge surprise to all since Michele had never smoked and had always been physically active and fit.  As she was going through chemotherapy, we did what quilters do — we made a friendship quilt for her.  We put the word out and began collecting blocks.   Several of Michele’s friends from her work at the local utility company, PNM, contributed blocks.  We presented the quilt just as she was beginning the treatments.

Michele’s Friendship Quilt – 2012

And then, a funny thing happened.  A coworker of Michele’s contacted Ed Chappelle, who helped to organize the collection of blocks, to say that she had won a quilt a LONG time ago and wanted to donate it to Hawks Aloft for a fundraiser.  The quilt had a pair of eagles and a chick.   As I read his e-mail message, tears ran down my face, for I realized that it might very well be that very first quilt, the one that led me down this avenue of life.  Indeed, it WAS the quilt, the one that started it all, without which there might never have been a Hawks Aloft.

It is now part of my personal quilt collection and Hawks Aloft is $1,000 richer.  These funds will be used for well-deserved staff bonuses at year’s end, as approved by the Board of Directors.  Many thanks to Carol Palmer for this incredible donation!  And, to Ed Chappelle for making the right connections at the right time!  And, to all of you who have worked on the raffle quilts over our 18 year history.  It’s a small world, after all.

 

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Vote Tomorrow – Saturday!

Hawks Aloft PostcardTomorrow,  Saturday, July 28 is the day! The day to vote for Hawks Aloft in the Toyota 100 Cars for Good contest!

As you know, in my non quilting life, I am Executive Director of Hawks Aloft, an Albuquerque organization that works to conserve indigenous wild birds and their habitats through conservation education, avian research, and cooperation with other bird oriented and wildlife organizations. We are a finalist in the Toyota 100 Cars for Good competition. The day to vote for us is TODAY!

We need this vehicle for an avian ambulance and to transport our educational birds. For more information on how we will use this vehicle, please watch our video on Facebook.

Click on the link below to go to the Facebook page and vote. THANK YOU!!!

http://100CarsforGood.com

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