So, I went out bright and early today and finished the two last sets of blocks (each set is 8 blocks, five samples to be taken per block). It wasn't too bad; it hasn't gotten REALLY hot yet for today, and for part of the time, the sun was behind a cloud.
(They are actually hinting we might get RAIN. I hope we do. It's really, really dry here, and nothing is flowering - hence no need to currently continue the bee studies - I don't think that will happen until it cools down and we get some rain).
Diversity was really low. Generally it was the same five or six species (common ragweed, Scribner's panic grass, heath aster, three-awn grass, Iva annua (I can't remember that one's common name). The site really needs to be burned. ("Fire! Fire! Yes, fire! Uh huh huh huh huh." And now, it amuses me to think how HORRIFYING and TRANSGRESSIVE Beavis and Butthead were back when they were first on. Wow, we really hadn't seen nothin' yet)
Hopefully, my colleague and I can get a team out (you need trained people for that, you can't just light a match and get away, which is how sometimes people used to do it in Illinois) and have them do some kind of dormant season burn, either this winter or early next spring.
But at any rate: It's done, unless I go out after a few cooler/wetter weeks to check up on stuff I couldn't 100% certain identify to species, but could if it were flowering. (I can usually get those things to genus, or to one of two closely related genera, but for some things, especially some of the daisy-family stuff, you really need flowers to be 100% sure of species affiliation. Or at least until portable DNA analyzer/identifiers become available - which would then render yet another one of my skills (being able to do field identifications from characteristics) obsolete, so I'm not exactly champing at the bit for them)
I did take a bit of my free Tuesday and quick piece together a backing for the Taking Turns Quilt and dropped it off at the quilt shop. The woman who does the intake said, "I just wanted to warn you - last time I spoke to the quilter, she said she was running 14 weeks out. I think it's less than that now, but I'm just telling people that so they know."
Wow. On the one hand, I'm happy that she has so much business that she's that stacked up. I hope she continues to do so well - that may help keep the shop afloat, I don't know. On the other hand....well, maybe I need to start doing more handquilting; a quarter of a year is a long time to wait. (But I'm mostly okay with it and of course left my quilt to be quilted).
(It makes me think: if a person wanted a small business, they probably could set up shop in this area doing to-order machine quilting. Yes, it would be in competition with the local shop but I suspect there's enough business in the area to keep two people busy. There don't seem to be many custom-quilting places around, or if there are others, I haven't heard of them and they may not be as good)
The woman did say, "Well, a couple of the ones in line are 'customs,' and those take a lot longer." (A "custom" quilting job is where the quilter wants more than just the typical pantograph design - instead of the same design repeated edge to edge, which can often be pretty quickly done, a "custom" needs different quilting in the blocks and sashing and all that and can't often be directly done off of a pattern - so it is a lot more work (and is concomitantly more expensive).
I've never ordered custom quilting; if I want something done that much to my specifications I will hand quilt it and do it myself. For the quilts I have machine done, they are mostly the "modern" style quilts that seem more "casual" to me - so I think the pantograph designs work well for them. (Also, I have to admit, requesting "custom quilting" for me would begin to feel like I was being a "special snowflake." I know that's not true but I hate feeling like I'm ordering someone around too much. It's enough for me to say, "I would like this thread color, this kind of batting, and I'd like a design in this style" (sometimes when the quilter is there, she will actually show me different options and let me pick. A few times I have been unclear of what I want and tell her to pick, and I've never been dissatisfied. This time, I said, "Something like feathers or an allover meander" and I figure she'll choose something that will work well).
I did also pick up a couple spools of light tan handquilting thread....I am working again on the Dozen Roses quilt and can foresee being finished with that not too far off, and I want to hand-quilt what I am thinking of as the Plus-sign quilt next, and I think that needs a more "traditional" color than the ones I currently had on hand (pink and a sort of mint green). The bonus with hand-quilting that one is you don't need QUITE so much slop-over on the backing (you need 8" to 10" for machine quilting), which means I will probably have enough of the fabric I used for the border to back it with.