Monday, November 3, 2014

Fort Stanton walk

Sunday with all the wind and the burst of cold from the northwest we ventured out with our Brookland neighbor and landscape architect to meet up with other native plant society members to do a walk in Fort Stanton park. Mary Pat Rowen from the Maryland native plant society was our guide. The park is in Anacostia with the community museum perched right in the middle of it making a great place to warm up and see a little art. The point of our walk was to see the native plants and trees of our forests and help each other learn about them. I took photos and I can't describe everything but I wanted to share a little of the experience with you and tell some of what I learned. The first image is of Mary Pat Rowen who was our leader on the walk. She also gave Keith, Meron and myself a ride down to the park and home making it even more fun because we got to see the city from a new point of view. Here she describes the difference between two types of Hickory tree side by side with bright yellow leaves and the Anacostia Community Museum in the background.
We had a total of eight naturalist beginners to expert on the hike. 
Along the two hour walk we were in the woods protected from most of the wind which was blowing hard up above in the tree tops some 75 feet or more above. This civil war era fortress was constructed on a hill overlooking Washington DC from the east side of the Anacostia River. At the apex of the fortress hill there was a commanding view of the city and everything around it. We could see all the major landmarks from Brookland's Basilica, National Cathedral, Capitol dome in scaffolding this year, the whole of Roslyn Va. the Pentagon and Air Force memorial sculpture, looking around to National Airport and the rivers that wrap around them all as well as closer in view the Navy Yard and a stadium... It was astonishing to see this all from one vantage point. The point of this trip wasn't sight seeing but that was a nice bonus thanks to Mary Pat stopping to show us the commanding views before we trekked off into the woods. Once inside the woods we got tips on how to tell one type of oak from the next and many other tree's by the shapes of their leaves and the bark on the mature tree. Some we scratched to get a sniff of the scent in the plant like Sassafras and Spice bush. 

First view of the trail shows that someone decided to dump some tires and we could see how the invasive plants seem to grow mostly at the edges of the woods. She explained that the soil isn't rich in the right ways to support them in the depths of the woods where the natives still rule. 
Right off I was looking for plants I knew to point out. The green Brier a vine that has sharp long thorns was the first after poison ivy and English ivy that came to view. This plant had rich blue berries hanging on the mostly bare stems. They form low thickets that are refuge for birds and small animals. But I didnt' know there were two types of green brier plant until the other type was pointed out. It is smaller and has a longer oval type leaf and is light color on the underside. The thorns on the vine are much smaller but there are dozens of them compared to the smooth green brier. Very distinctive the two plants are so different but similar in a few ways. 

Next think I noticed was a fallen tree covered with my favorite fungus I called lichen. I now realize I was wrong, it is a type of fungus classified with mushrooms. That caused some debate we also discovered another type of mushroom also growing on the same logs. 

I really like the ruffled shape of the fungi commonly known as turkey tail or Trametes versicolor  and the mushrooms were kind of like rounded buttons. Looks like all those fungi that grow on wood in this shape are related and are generally called polypores or bracket fungi Wiki has a discussion of this that was enlightening for a novice. 
The colors of the trees were everything from brown to red and yellow and a little pinkish orange. 
Tulip poplar leaves were so high in the tree tops that I had to use my zoom lens to distinguish them. Then a new tree for me was the lovely orange pink black gum tree below. These leaves were more down to earth in the understory of the tall oaks and poplars.

Red maple leaves were there and best seen on the ground among the fallen oak leaves they stood out. 

One plant I hadn't ever seen or known about is the maple-leaf viburnum ,Viburnum acerifolium which turns a sort of red or pink in fall making it stand out but the plants.

rich pink of Maple-leaf Viburnum 

My last photos are of the view down into the woods where a gully runs and some of the huge trees had fallen making an opening in the forest canopy. The one plant I didn't expect to see was mountain laurel Kalmia latifolia and there was a lot of it all along the trails and off in the woods on the forest floor. The link on mountain laurel will take you to the wiki page that has some great photos of the beautiful spring flowers. This would be fun to see next spring right here in Washington DC. I am so glad we ventured out with Mary Pat Rowen taking Meron, our Ethiopian friend, who is very brave to go out for a long forest walk in the cold but I think she had a great experience just like Keith and I did. 
Mary Pat Rowen and Meron 

Dan, Keith, Meron, with Mary Pat who gets us started.

Dave, ______, Dwight, Dan, Keith, Meron, Mary Pat as we began the sky was gray and the wind was cold and everyone was adjusting to the weather... later it warmed up and we enjoyed a visit to the museum where they had a great beading and quilt display. 


Monday, October 20, 2014

Quilt Show

I was lucky to see a post on Facebook that reminded me I could spend this past Saturday admiring quilts by the Needle Chasers of Chevy Chase. It was in the armory-town hall in Kensington, Maryland. About a ten mile drive which took only 45 minutes due to road work and lots of traffic out along the way. The weather was beautiful like we expect in the fall.

When I arrived I found a  DC Modern Quilt Guild friend, Linda who blogs at
I FinallyHaveTime waiting to show me around the big hall with lots of very colorful quilts. I went through twice the second time stopping to snap photos of the ones that I liked the best. The raffle quilt you see in this first photo was up front and a very handsome extra colorful.

ORANGE! I felt right at home. These are two by quilter Fran Card I liked. "Condos for Elderly Angels" and "High Desert Fall" were two that featured lots of orange.

She also quilted this interesting circle quilt called "Black Hole"that has a surround of black on black log cabins. You have to look closely the contrasting value is almost non existent. The detail shot shows it a little better with some help from photo shop.  

This next quilt was a kit Margaret Ann Sparks bought in 1959 called "Rose of Sharon" which she write was too complicated then so she shelved it and got it back out in 2012 keeping track of her time she completed it this year. 263 hours applique and 406 hand quilting the finish! How she kept track of those times I would love to know. 
Wool is the latest new thing we have been seeing in quilting with embroidery holding appliqued bits on top. This next quilt is a mix of wool and cotton and was made to decorate a Downtown apartment. Westend Greens by Kim Kelly shows lots of creativity. 
I loved the bold color and skilled applique of this quilt called "Jacobean Garden" by Barbara Marom-Pollack, It's kind of Elizabethan to me but I have always loved these exotic flowers in prints and this appliqued version is sort of a magical modern version. 


Next is a small photograph picture based quilt  by Donna Radner called "North Woods" the scene reminds me of hikes I have taken on the edge of the Potomac River up near Great Falls. It was about 20x30 inches and the black is the drape it's hanging on not a lopsided frame.
Two quilts made from "scraps" in blues and whites appealed to me but I doubt I have the patience to make one like these for myself. 
the first is a detail of a bed sized quilt Marty Fry calls "Churchville" a "lady of the Lake quilt.
also "Regency Sampler" was very sweet in blues by Marty Fry 49x49"
Modern quilt guild member Anne Brill did this quilt I liked at the guild when I saw it and was inspired. She titled it "Low Volume" a bed sized quilt that came right off her bed to hang in this show. I took a detail shot to show the simple design works so well.

Black and white blocks made with 2 inch squares  makes up the next quilt I thought was notable for the time it must have taken and the simple graphic results. Martha Lisle called it "Adams Rib" for the Hepburn and Tracy film. 

There was a little birthday quilt made by a bunch of kids in one family that had some great insects in the prints and the machine quilting. Jan Danis's grand kids I think is who did this quilt. I liked the dragonflies and the wonky diamonds. 
These two color quilts were my some of my favorites in the show of 200. They are by a Marina Baudoin who also does long arm quilting professionally. 
 Then there was this interesting batik quilt of x and crosses with an inset picture of horses.
 An orange modern quilt
 The amazing "Wedding Ring" quilt in marigolds with red and a bit of turquoise by Renuka Algama. Next to the "Zinnias" by Elizabeth B. Davison  pictured quilt was like a garden delight.

Finally I caught Linda walking across the room and surprised her with my flash. Thanks for making me feel right at home with all the other quilters Linda! Great to have a catalog of the titles descriptions to bring home and allow me to give you some details about who did which quilt and what they call them.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pink Improvisation with spirals, a new quilt


It began with a few pieces of pink and gray fabric from my last project. I intended to make a more improvised patchwork that stepped away from this year's obsession "the log cabin" block. Improvisational piecing these larger square and rectangle pieces together and using a pale palette was a pleasing variation on the bold colors and repetitious piecing I have been doing with log cabins. Modern quilters call this a "low volume" quilt. I would say it is a low value palette. It is when the colors are of such a pale value that they almost blend together to appear as one. This ends up giving a very pleasing restful appearance in the finished quilt. It's not quite a whole cloth quilt but the use of close values makes the quilting stitches important like they are in a whole cloth quilt. 
I began free hand marking and quilting the spirals on Labor Day. 
The spirals are a departure from my usual straight line rows of quilting.  I like the look of the rings as they go round and round almost like the rings on a still pond when you throw in a hand full of pebbles in, making ripples. 
This quilt has a continuous bias tape made of a bright coral color printed fabric. I found two new prints at Finch Sewing Studio in Leesburg, Va. during a DC Modern Quilt Guild sewing day. The binding and the backing are made out of a fabric line called Winged which recalls butterfly wings in the patterns. I chose a bold color binding to draw out the softer pinks in the low value top. 
working on the last step a coral print bias binding



Throw quilt spread out on the bed showing the hand quilted spirals 


completed hanging on the design wall 

new oval label adds the last detail
It measures about 41" x 66" before washing and drying and is made with a organic cotton and bamboo batting that was light and drapes very nicely. The backing clung to this batting like no other I have used it was clinging just by static attraction.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Walk at Fort Totten

Sunday morning early we got up and drank our coffee and donned our warm clothes to go for a nature walk in local National Park Fort Totten a Washington DC, Civil War era ring dirt fortress that is now mostly forest. We had planned to meet a tour that a local geologist and botanist were leading but I got the meeting place wrong in my head somehow thinking we were suppose to meet at the Metro station... We never did find them but we couldn't help enjoying the woods on our own while looking around on trails we hadn't explored hoping to run into them. We both took our cameras and just hiked the length of the park and down over the hill towards the rail road tracks. Exploring and enjoying the trees and sunshine.

 When we walked up the hill from the metro station to the edge of Ft. Totten road and the beginning of the long strip of woods that makes up the park we found a first trail into the woods edged with white flowers I believe are snake root. They are showy and are available in nursery for home gardens. The wind was blowing the around so this close up shot is blurry because they were waving in the breeze as my camera shutter snapped.
Once we got into the woods we saw these tall single stalked goldenrods blooming in the dry sandy soil along the edges of the trail. It was mostly distributed near where the forest edge opened to the fields of the park grounds. 





One of them had a big bumble bee sitting on having a nectar meal and maybe collecting some of that nice yellow pollen. Also in these trail pictures notice those stones that cover the way. They are gray and white river stones deposited eons ago on top of this high hill in NE Washington DC. 



High overhead we heard and saw the red napped woodpecker calling and drilling for food in the dead tree branches. I used the zoom to capture a record of our sighting at the fort park. A matching woodpecker was on the tree next to my window at home one morning recently and here is a closer look. Same bird right?

 We made our way to a new area we hadn't explored down the hill as it turns out not the best area to walk since we are allergic to the native poison ivy and we saw a lot of it mixed in the edges of the trail plants with invasive English ivy. The trees in the park are huge and very tall so much that it hurt my neck to look up at them hunting for leaves to identify them. There were areas where the forest floor was covered with little seedlings of oak seedlings.


This shot is looking back up the hill we descended on our walk from the top to the bottom across behind the transfer station.




This is the large leaf magnolia we later learned is an American tree that has moved north in recent years finding homes in new forests delivered by bird carrying seeds to the new warmer climate here. 

At the bottom of the hill were a lot of toppled trees long gone towards bare wood and ready for decaying to take them back to the earth. A squirrel was scampering over them as we walked by and posed for a portrait briefly. 

Finally on top of the hill again we notice this interesting lichen growing on the leaf littered floor it was a brightly colored series of browns and yellow gold surrounded by new growth that looks like Japanese "invasive" honey suckle vine and blue and huckle berry.