The garden continues to ramp up production. More zucchini, cukes, kale, and peas. Pole beans will start blooming in the next 2 days. Tomatoes continue to ripen, but what really captures my attention are all the insects! The Catnip was swarming with bees and small butterflies this afternoon. I could spend hours there watching all the activity. Here are a few photos from the late visit.
Thanks for visiting. Not sure what will be on the drawing board this week, but I have 2 projects that need completion. So watch for a developing Cheetah and the next stage for Remy the black lab!
It’s the end of July and things are definitely growing! We’ve just had a week of high temps in the 90’s which made us shrink into our air conditioned home, but the plants have loved the heat. Zucchinis have graced our plates once so far and cucumbers have been on our salad three times. Kale is eaten daily, mainly in salads, but we still have a while before the tomatoes start showing color. I really need to get out there and cut back the enormous stem production on two plants (the other two I’ve kept in check).
The Nasturtiums finally opened yesterday, which was a great joy for me. The seeds were ones my father purchased in 2011. I only had about a 50% success rate on direct ground germination. At least they’re growing and blooming in time for the anniversary of his death (August 1, 2012).
The pea plants are grown from my mother’s seed collection. She had a beautiful small greenhouse on the coast where she grew many different veg. We will be having fresh peas in our salad soon! The pea seeds were from a packet marked 2006.
The butternut squash plants continue to amaze me. Grown from an old squash I purchased early February, I pulled out the seeds in June and popped them into the ground after other things had been planted. They germinated within 4 days! I still have 6 plants after thinning and transplanting. They will be trained vertical since space is limited in the large box.
The bees continue to visit the garden, mainly spending time on the catnip plant. With such a healthy population of pollinators all flowering plants should be pollinated. I love seeing the native bees like the one above.
Happy Friday and I hope you all continue to stay safe, wear a mask, and wash your hands!
The weather is hot and I’m spending time inside with the AC, 32C is warmer than I can handle! My creative gears have shifted once again back into possible images for a couple of fundraisers. The above pooch belongs to a dog friend and photographer. I’ve not actually met this pup, but she’s beautiful and smart from watching training videos! He posted a particular photo one day that really grabbed my attention, which I noted. He enthusiastically send me several photos of Remy and I’m starting down a different journey with learning more about colored pencils. Hopefully I’ll learn more and he might get a drawing out of it or better yet, it will go into the 8″ x 8″ fundraiser for the Arts Center. Time will tell.
As the month of July progresses to completion, I figured out one thing: pushing energy into the public art project wasn’t something I want to do. The amount of time and energy required just isn’t in my vocabulary this summer. We have numerous time sensitive home projects that require more energy before fall and winter arrives. So, I’ll keep moving forward with my regular schedule and not introduce extra stress.
The garden is finally yielding food! I picked the first cucumbers yesterday and zucchini today. The kale has also been wonderful as it gets harvested twice a week. I’ll post garden photos in a few days.
Fingers crossed the remaining days of July continue smoothly into August.
Somerset paper, 6B pencil, Prismacolor pencils, Black Labrador subject
Several years ago I managed to get a small art project that allowed me to spread my creativity to a different level: The world of public art. I never thought I might be interested in creating public art, but it was enjoyable (and also a pain). Yesterday another possible project appeared in my inbox. It requires a heck of a lot of figuring because this is more serious. This is for a community center remodel. I probably don’t have a chance in even getting through the first phase, but I’m going to try. It never hurts to try, right?
The interior wall is uninterrupted and measures 10 feet high and 44 feet long. That’s a whopping long wall! I’m already thinking about a similar idea to the one I created for the city of Halsey, but manufactured using powder coated metal. No, I won’t be cutting this out at home! Professional people will be hired.
The biggest thing that intimidates and actually makes me question moving forward is how to create an accurate budget for the project. This isn’t my strength but I probably have friends who could help. I have the month of July to get everything together and submitted for round #1.
I’ll continue working on the new wool this month and try to get more dryer balls out for sale. The brain is working…. just intimidated by stepping out of my comfort zone.
Needle felting by definition uses needles. You can’t get around it. You use different thicknesses and sometimes you jab your fingers. These needles have multiple barbs over the shaft which help push the wool strands into each other. Yesterday I stabbed myself pretty hard, indicating that I needed to step away from the project. Normally, I just do a quick jab through the outer skin. This one sank a needle (out of a possible 4) deep into the flesh of my left index finger. Bugger and hell it stung as I yanked it back out of the entry point (remember the barbs?!)! I gave it a good bleed then hit it with hydrogen peroxide and iodine before wrapping it in gauze. I’m thankful it didn’t hit bone. This sort of wound is what tetanus shots are designed for: a sharp object stab with nasty sheep poo remnants. Yummy.
I could have avoided the situation by not starting. I had already put in about 4 hours plucking and carding some stubborn wool. My brain was tired and not paying attention to what my hands were doing. A recipe for disaster. I’ll keep the spot clean and watch for infection. Maybe it’s time for calmer work. Not sure what that might be, but possibly fencing in the fruit trees since the deer finally found them last night???? I still have over 2 hours of daylight remaining.
Lesson learned: don’t needle felt when tired and drink more water during the day!
Grumpy parent Black-Capped Chickadees have it out on the suet feeder
The world around our home is filled with bird calls from first to last light. Parent birds are scrambling between their multiple offspring, feeding gaping mouths on nests to whining babies following around behind them. The above photos are of one patient mother Downy Woodpecker feeding her little boy. They do have a little girl as well who happened to be off feeding with the adult male. Baby boy flew into the big glass door this morning. I didn’t hear the bump, but the dogs alerted about the downed bird. I went out and picked him up, did a quick check and set him up high on a pot of spent daffodils. It took about 20 min for him to recover and fly off to mom. The photos were from after his crash. Doesn’t look too bad. Well, everyone is super frumpy looking due to the major rains.
Last week we had an incident in the backyard. They happen on pretty regular occasion: the dogs scent some creature, there’s a big chase around the giant juniper bushes with the dogs climbing in as deep as they can. Barking, massive thundering pounding footsteps as they race around the bushes. It often occurs late, and I mean LATE, like 2 or 3am. Last Thursday it happened earlier at 10:30pm. Sometimes I have to go out and try to grab the dogs which often isn’t possible. Their focus is on the hunt, not me. A few times I’ve had to pull out the hose and spray them to break their crazy focus. Thursday night Dave actually had the chance to participate in the frackus. I went out and shone a headlamp down into the place the creature was cornered and I thought I saw a possum tail. It wasn’t the easiest to figure out since Moby had the sizable creature in his mouth and was attempting to shake the daylights out of it. I was really concerned the creature was a neighborhood cat. (no, we’ve never had the dogs kill a cat but I wouldn’t put it past their capability) Moby eventually thought the creature was dead and extracted himself from the snug location. The creature was motionless. Was it dead? I couldn’t tell and wasn’t about to dive into cutting back the bushes. We gathered up the dogs and took them inside for a serious wound cleaning. Moby proceeded to vomit all over the bathroom floor and Dave kindly cleaned it up. I worked Hazel over and found a few nicks on her face. We eventually made it to bed around 2am.
The cats proceeded to wake me up at 6am for their morning feeding and I was already contemplating the chore of going out to extract the dead animal. Around 10am, I pulled on some shoes and the headlamp to check the situation. The “dead” animal was gone. Whew!!!
The possum actually played possum to get Moby to drop the body. I’m always in awe of these strange creatures and enjoy seeing them running around the far backyard triggering the game cameras. We were thrilled it managed to survive. Moby felt that he did his job and killed the intruder.
June 14 is flag day here in the US. Not a day that really brings much focus in the average person’s life. Growing up, our mother would always say “It’s Flag Day. Happy Birthday to Miss Reeves!” This wasn’t a reference to a family member nor anyone we knew, but to a primary school teacher that taught my mother in Iowa back in the 1930’s. I assume Ms. Reeves never had children of her own, but one of her students passed along the memory of her birthday every year to her children. Kinda crazy! Her name continues to be mentioned between my sister and I on the day as a way to keep our mother’s memory alive. We will probably continue to keep this little tradition going until our deaths.
In Mexican culture, Day of the Dead -dia de los muertos, they say that death has three phases. First death is when you physically die. Second death is when your body is buried. Third death is when no one remains to remember you and you vanish from history. We’re keeping Ms Reeves from slipping into the third death realm. We’ll never know what became of her or if she had family, but she made an impression on our mother and that’s what counts.
This has been a busy week and my body is complaining about everything tackled.
Digging: We’ve been having a touch of cooler weather and rain which makes for perfect gardening sessions. I’ve finally gathered up enough energy to get out and start tackling both boxes this season. The herbs (rosemary, sage, cat mint, and chives) all survived the mild winter. The cat mint went insane this year! More on that in just a bit. Anyway, the front box received a topping and mixing of more compost plus combining some of the straw mulch from last fall. The far box (which wasn’t used last year) required work to stabilize the bottom board with metal rod supports. Now it’s getting turned and waiting for additional soil to be delivered. Tomatoes and squash will occupy the far box. Peppers, cukes, carrots, kale, and peas will be added to the front box. Runner beans are waiting for a new location.
The mini orchard has survived the deer so far. I still have yet to fence them in. The only tree I’m allowing to set fruit is the persimmon. Maybe I’ll thin it out in a few weeks. The trees were planted back in March of this year.
The Harvest: The cat mint received its very first trimming today!
I took off the top 2 feet of growth.
I hadn’t expected such a strong growth on this one plant, but I’ll take it! Years ago I had wanted to start growing/harvesting my own nip to sell via some outlet. Maybe this is finally coming true? Time will tell. I can say that all 3 of my cats sure enjoy this particular plant! We have several nip plants around the property but this is the one that is most loved.
Rats: Last year I had mentioned that rats had shown up in our backyard. Not too surprising once I looked at our situation: dense juniper shrubs + feeding seed to wild birds. Yes, a perfect combination for a rat hotel and buffet! The dogs have been trying to catch the vermin, but no luck yet. Today, I witnessed a momma rat and numerous babies out grazing under the seed station! ARGH! This really disturbed me and now I realize we need big snap traps to work on the problem. I don’t need them in my house, getting into the walls, creating more havoc. The dogs do spend a bunch of time hunting something in the junipers (often at 3am). I wish they would hunt them a bit harder. Maybe I need to gather my friends who do Barn Hunts? Get the professional terriers on the job? We shall see…
Wool: Yes, I went out this morning to the misty foothills of the Oregon coast range and picked up MORE WOOL! I must be insane!
I took about 6 fleece, which was half the pile. At least I think I took half the pile? The above photo is what’s left. The heavy duty construction grade bags I took were stuffed full.
And that’s been my week. Productive to a certain degree. We did just get word that Dave will be working from home until a viable vaccine is created to treat COVID-19. Maybe it’s time for an external studio to be created!
The past several weeks have been filled with a tumultuous upheaval of our society. Black Lives Matter! I can’t fathom what it’s like to grow up black in America. All I can say is I’m listening and trying to learn more. I’m still shocked at the lack of movement forward in the past 100+ years. If you’re able, please watch John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight that aired on June 7, 2020. He touches on one fragment of the police and what’s currently happening.Please click John Oliver
So, as I continue to watch news stories reel in from the protests, I off-set it by watching YouTube videos on improving my art. I started looking into how to use colored pencils to achieve a more realistic look. There’s plenty out there to comb through and one thing I found was solvents for blending colors.
Time for a little Testing!
Materials used: paper- Aquarelle Arches (don’t know the weight since it was in the scrap paper pile), Prismacolor pencils, Isopropyl Alcohol, Odorless Mineral Spirits, paint brush.
I laid down a few rows of Prismacolor pencils in light to a bit heavier concentration. Then I found odorless Mineral Spirits stashed in the garage and 70% Isopropyl Alcohol to test as solvents. The isopropyl was used on the far left stripe. The mineral spirits was used on the next vertical stripe and for the remainder of the tests. The top band has two doodle eyes that used the mineral spirits to blend colors. No additional colors were added to those bits. The bottom bird head/eye used a stronger concentration of color.
Below is the blended mix of colors that resembles a bird head with eye. Looks awful but smoother! This is just a doodle bird. I have no idea what it was trying to become.
The solvent does pass through the paper but seems to evaporate after time.
Below: after waiting 15 to 20 min I added more colored pencils. It’s true that light colors can be added over dark and they stand out! I think I’ll keep messing around with this technique and try an actual bird drawing for round #2.
The search has started for a subject to be rendered as a drawing/print. Two different organizations are requesting something from my studio and I’m more than happy to help them both out. So far revisiting Africa photos seem to be the smart choice. Maybe this technique will jump into the mix of ideas. Time will tell more.