Monday, April 24, 2017

Greenhouse progress

 I have moved a CFL light to the greenhouse area to help some of the plants get more light.    I still have some not shown here that are in another windowsill,  but not germinated yet.  The cabbage and several of the tomatoes (also elsewhere) are really needing to go outside.  The Hosta is even a little bigger and/or spread out than when I bought it - it should go out when the ground is not mud, too.  The Hosta is an Aurea Marginata, and it should have purple flowers eventually.  It will be a nice companion to the Frances Miller hosta that is in the garden now (blooms white, has green leaves tinged with chartreuse).

There are three or four jalapeno peppers that are getting second leaves.  The split ivies are doing 'ok'.. I don't see immediate die off on any of them yet.  I can hope.  That Ivy is called 'Asterisk', Hedera helix.

This is the apple sapling, from Esme's homeschool project after we watched the documentary on how plants reproduce and learned that apples from seed are nothing like their parent plants usually.. and we decided to try saving some seeds anyway.  This is the second one we've tried - as the seeds were still in the fridge from the first one and the first one died unexpectedly one day (just leaves fell off and poof, gone?)...  I thought maybe it didn't get enough light, and that the tiny petunia and forget-me-not seeds might benefit, too from a more direct light instead of reaching for the window all day and stretching their stems.  So I'm trying three to four hours a day of this CFL to see if it perks them up more.

The Frances Miller hosta in the garden is coming up pretty this year.
The hosta seeds have not yet come in the mail, and I haven't gotten my basil planter made yet.

We decided that Callie and Doxie cats are about eighteen months old, probably born in December of 2015.  They are both (hopefully both) getting fixed tomorrow.  Their mother Minion and Pumpkin are next in line, but it might take a while to get them done, as they graced us with more kittens about two months ago.  I'm still a bit embarrassed by Doxie's name now that I remember what it means - but I called her that (and her twin, Dorrie, who died) from the start so it can't be changed now.  Sometimes I call her Dox for short.

 Callie cat, with her one little tiny white spot on her spine

I've set up a hard two days for us.. getting the two youngers in the house tonight and penned up for the night and all the running back and forth to the vet tomorrow.. but hope we can get it done.  Doxie has been spending almost all her time outside so she will be the difficult one.  Callie is curled up in my sewing chair.  The other day I tried to patch a pair of pants for Esme and I had to remove her from said place -- I had to pick up the cushion with the cat (claws dug in) and set it on the floor and wait for a good minute for her to realize I was not moving it back.  Then  she got up and stalked away.  *sheesh*  Calico cats!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Flying chickens and rain everywhere

This is one wily chicken.

We spent five days trying to get her back in the coop fence.  She just kept escaping us!  She even laid an egg right next to the fence on the wrong side.  Finally, her want to be with Wicket, the other chicken, did the trick.  We put Wicket up in the chicken house where she could not get out, and then opened the chicken coop fence wide.  In about three hours she was in the fence and wanted to be in the coop with Wicket.  We've put them both up in the house for the night and plan to clip Gennet's wings tomorrow (Wicket got hers clipped the day Gennet flew the coop).  Honestly, Esme told us a week before the escape that she was getting on top of the chicken house and needed clipping.

We got some laundry and grocery shopping done, today.  Mark got some work done on his second bisquare antenna - and got Esme to help him with the construction of it.

My bellflower seeds are starting to come up, and I have some new pots to grow basil indoors and to split out my new hosta plant.  I replanted the marigold seeds.  The hosta in the garden from years ago is coming up very prettily.  I should start some cucumber seeds as I think Gennet ate half of the ones that came up while she was roaming my garden.  The okra was up and several other things were showing.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hosta and ivy

 This is a new hosta plant meant for the little garden.  I'm thinking to split it out into pieces and see what happens.  It has several nice stems in the dirt already.  It is an Aureus Marginata, and I really liked the streaks on the leaves.

Also, the ivy I rescued a few months ago has been having some issues... the lower leaves keep coming off and I thought I was overwatering it.  However, I got up the courage today to repot it into three smaller pots, breaking the root mass and giving it three chances to live or die.  The soil in the big pot was really dry - not at all what I thought... maybe the terracotta pot has been getting too hot?  Just thought of that - will try to put it in a plastic pot (the two divisions already are).  If the divisions make it - I'll put them in the garden behind the hostas.

I also thought I'd try to root a piece of it and a few pieces that broke off the hosta.  We had some rooting hormone and it is worth a shot.

If they aren't rooted within two weeks of today, they are probably not going to.
Also, my bellflower seed germinated today, but no cleome.  I'll have to replant that.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Nova, bits and garden update

Our dog Nova got hit by our neighbor on Saturday afternoon, while the girls were having their sleepover.  My Mama Bear instinct was running high as Mark told me the neighbor sped by going way too da* fast again (just like when they hit and killed Loula) and both of the young girls were near the road at the time digging in the dirt with Mark and Esme's grandma overseeing the filling up of pots for our dahlias.  Many people at work said I should report them to the sheriff for reckless driving.  *sigh*  There is no posted speed limit up there, but you would think at their age (they are older than us and have out-of-state grandchildren) that they would have some da* responsibility and caution.

Nova was badly banged up, her leg torn open and the side of her face, but no broken bones or internal injuries as far as we can see.  She was not on a leash but was reacting to what she thought was a threat of something going too fast.  She is getting around slowly and reluctantly but she seems to be healing.  Mark and I found some wound salve we have used in the past (and it was hard to find) and that seems to have taken care of the worst of the leg wound.

Esme and her friend went fishing with their family on Sunday, and she caught some fish.  I had to work, so it was a nice trade between us to give the girls a good weekend.

I've been out to the garden and seen the morning glory coming up, as well as radishes and marigolds and perhaps a few other things.  We haven't planted  the cabbage out there yet.

My allergies took me over yesterday (on the first of two days off, typical) and by nightfall I felt I was going to have a sinus infection.  I've stayed in bed most of today trying to fend it off, drinking and sleeping.  But, back to work tomorrow.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Curiosity.. woodland plants, garden

It's finally Blackberry Spring.  Allergies are running for Esme... things are starting to bloom.  I have had some curiosity about some local plants and have been making a photo collection.

 Indian pinks, or fire pinks
 Mullein (mull-in), similar to lamb's ears but different.
A shagbark hickory sapling.  I took the picture because of the bronze like color of the leaves.

 Mark's two antennae - the loop antenna is to the left, and it is the new one.
He got a station that was speaking Mandarin Chinese on that one, as well as the Spanish speaking ones we were getting with the other antenna.

 Garden 'stage 3'.. put up a trellis (hard to see) on the left side for the morning glory seeds.  Planted zinnias, cosmos, okra, cucumber, nasturtium and tithonia (Mexican sunflower).  The marigolds and radishes from the other day are not up yet.  Prepared a place to put Esme's school cabbage.  I put a few bricks in the center and a board behind to have free stepping places to weed later when things are grown.  I also made an 'expectations' chart of germination dates so I will know what I'm looking to come up by when.

Our mailbox project from last week.  We needed to mount the large mailbox but the gravel was too deep and hard close to the road.  We bent the old stake back and put it as a support for the new construction.  Mark put this together in about an hour and I helped him pound the other stakes into the softer ground beyond the gravel.  Esme says it looks like a dog :)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Morning, Spring, Wonder

Esme saw these 'fairy house' spiderwebs covered in dew this morning as we stepped out to walk to the school bus.  She said they looked like moon flowers, and that it was so pretty, like a picture.  I remembered years past when I would examine such things in wonder, too - and wished she didn't have to hurry away before barely getting a good look.  It is rarer now that we stop and really look at what Nature has given us, and watch it as it develops.

Although I am running now most of the time, I do try to stop and dip back into the wonder of it all.  Esme helps - as she is so observant and in her own natural state of Wonder at the world.  Mark helps, too - it is an endearing quality that he sees the same in kittens, plants.. in Esme as she has grown - things to stand back and say 'Catch this moment, before it's gone, because it is one of the Fundamental qualities of the Universe' passing us by.. always on the run.  Birth, Regeneration, Growth, Connection and Reflection, Reawakening from long sleep...

The dew drops on the spiderwebs made them stand out in the last of the moonlight and the beginning of the sunrise.

And I am reminded of the times I spent at NDSU, taking my hours between classes examining and sketching the same campus plants as they came forth to Spring after Winter slumber.  I watched leaves unfurl and flowers open, and in those things, time progress in a way it has again and again, observed or unobserved... and I felt something that still hearkens me back to it after all of these years.

It's one of the reasons I can't entirely give up going out to the garden and trying to make things happen there.. but knowing that I will miss things as life sweeps me up in its schedules also makes me stay away sometimes when I would really like to be out there - I get weary in my soul when the things start to die or the bugs take over...

Maybe I will take my sketchbook out a bit more this year, and capture whatever it is that can be seen - is offered, that day.  Or the camera.  I also wonder sometimes if I had taken more time to slow down, like the plant drawing, in college - if I would have been happier and done better overall... I look back and realize I spent so much time worrying and full of anxiety that I could have thrown that energy into more study and work if I had only found ways to calm down more.  Study and work that I would have enjoyed.. not the things that were making me anxious, eating up not only their own scheduled time but the moments in between.  I wouldn't change anything except my attitude - if I knew then what I know now - because I would not give up Mark or Esme for anything and it all led up to where and who I am now.. but the feeling of 'Gulliver' being tied to a thousand strings was very real then and I would go back and snip a few of them now if I could to alleviate the tension I felt then.

And I also remind myself that right now is Spring, that nothing in the past changes but the present and the future are here and flowing around me like water in a brook.  I feel more 'at home' with myself and my surroundings lately than I have in a very long time.  Moreso when I can take a few minutes to reflect and not just trying to make it to someplace on time to wait the hours to leave on time etc...

Waxing philosophical.. enjoy the pictures.

Mark mounted his loop antenna today, and found this sleeping frog on the post on the porch.  He thought it was a big slug at first!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

indoor plants / garden plans

It is supposed to rain today - I hope to repot some of the indoor seedlings and start a pot of forget-me-not to go out in the garden later.  My mother had those around our house in Minnesota, so they should be perennial/biennial self-seeding here.  I'm hoping they can go in the hosta garden where it is shadier.

Although we are not doing a big garden this year I'm going to work hard on the two flower gardens to make them better for the years to come - hopefully putting some perennials in each and working the soil.  I also need to cobble together a good trellis for the morning glory, Mark having found a good one for the peas and I'm not sure yet if I won't do those at all this year.

I also bought some nasturtium to put in between the marigold and the radishes.  It is supposed to be good at keeping away certain bugs we would like to die down this year, as well.

Mark used a farm tool he found in a book to get out our deep down embedded fence posts.  He is still sore from that.  I have Wednesday and Thursday off so we can till the garden hopefully one of those days and add some amendments and clover seed to the majority we are going to leave fallow.  I'm still not sure where he wants to put a few tomatoes in - he said it was further down the back of the garden and he'd show me later.

 some sketchy plans (with no labels, think of it as modern art, heh)... the flower garden to the right gets lots of sun, while the one in the corner is in the shade.  Mark is thinking to put some tomato cages and maybe the pea fence out in the back middle.  I need to put up a trellis for the morning glory (blue) and fill in some of the gaps in the sun garden with cosmos, okra and other small plants as I go.  The forget-me-not will have to go in behind the hosta in the shade garden where it starts to become forest and vines threaten to overtake.. but if it likes it there it will self-seed for the next few years.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Garden progress

 Did a few additions to the flower garden today, adding the red yarrow plant, a dianthus, some verbena and putting in radish and marigold seeds.

Next I would plant the okra behind the gladiolus - as we are going to use them mostly for their flowers this year... and decide where to put a trellis sort of thing up for the morning glory.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017


After work today I went out and tilled up part of the garden and moved some extra dirt into this flower garden to level it out.  The glads and oregano have come up, and maybe the borage... I'm not sure if the lavendar will come up again... so I've marked it.  After this next cold snap I plan to buy a few flowers, sow some seeds and put out the seedlings we've been growing in the house.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

downtown bits

 We were downtown in Paris, TN today and took some pictures for my drawing portfolio.  I plan to use some of these and the other (not shown) studies to make ink drawings of.

 This interesting church, (established 1895) was one of the reasons for taking my camera downtown.  It has such an interesting array of shapes and textures.
Esme had to stop and admire the flowers.

 I took several shots of the courthouse for playing with shapes later.  Then I asked Esme to pose for one with the pretty trees.

 This bird was one of her shots with the camera.

And she pointed out these flowers as being a nice thing to draw.

After we took the photos downtown we went to Sonic for strawberry sundaes!

Drawing the way I see

This was a page out of a magazine, but it is 'altered' in that my perspective - the way I see - is quite like this.  I wasn't that impressed when I saw Van Gogh's Yellow Bedroom... or many of Picasso's works, because my eyes work that way anyway... I really thought I was being realistic until Mark looked over my shoulder and said 'It looks like a fisheye lens...'

Monday, March 27, 2017

Old sketchbook things

I've been going through some of my old sketchbooks and portfolios and picked out a few things I liked.

double exposure photograph from my portfolio of me entering the front entry of a house I lived in Fargo and one of the campus buildings at the North  Dakota State University.

 a self-portrait drawn in 2004 at age 25

'Shoot the moon' sketch from automatic drawing in pen and ink

'I am June'  (poem by Marie Lamb)
this was a bit of poetry in one of my sketchbooks

And what is your name?  The bird asked the deer.
"I am June", the creature responded.
And where are you from?
"The Land of Spring Rain and Summer Sky."

There was a time when I was young --
A time I remember but it was long ago.
I cannot describe what it was like --
Except my mind, my body, my soul were all growing at once.

I'm not sure how much of me grows now, or when.
But the young green leaves that I had been now taste summer rain.

I wait for the flowers -- to tell me how far I've come in all this time.

Brown these leaves have not yet seen nor the cold of autumn night.

But here in June, we remember early April, the melting of the snow that kept back the sun -
We remember growing - all at once - and watch the skies clad in their Summer blue.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

bits drawing with a Micron again

Drew this from a stock photo of a Swedish farmhouse with a stone wall in front of it.  I had a lot of fun putting the little garden out front and doing the ornate gate (which there was one in the photo, but not quite like this) and the cat overlooking it.  I'm not sure if I'll add color - although my brain already sees turquoise in the curtains and that the house was red with white trim and a red roof.

Drew this with a Sakura Micron 0.5 black pen, one of the ones in my set, and the favorite width I would always buy in the art store.  My hand will probably hurt some from all the little leaves - but they were worth it. 

I've been listening to Fortune's Favor by Great Big Sea all day... although as I finished the last of the drawing I switched back over to Something Beautiful.  Mark was kind to put all of the new music on my portable player :)

Also went out and planted the hollyhock roots to the sides of the daffodils in the perennial garden.  I'm not sure how well they'll do, but it was worth a try.  My mother always had beautiful hollyhocks - but the weather was cooler up there and they don't like the heat.  We'll see. 

Esme cleaned the hamster cage today, and is trying to build a 'car' for the hamster ball to go in. 

I thought I might write a bit in my journal about what I remember about my grandmother's family from stories I had heard.  I still don't know for certain about the orphanage in Owatonna and don't even know my great grandmother's first name because of the records being sketchy from that.. do know her father's name so it should be findable... I'm sure the info is out there if I dig some more.  But, I'll hope to write down what I remember hearing in case I never get any more info and I'm the last one who remembers any of it at all...

Friday, March 24, 2017


Working a bit more on the little playful landscapes in my sketchbook.  The one on the right is about half-colored in now.. update a bit more when they are further along.  The locations are bits and pieces of mental pictures I have from driving back and forth to work.  There are several farms that have silos like this on the way to Paris, TN.  Mark and I had talked about the possibility of a calendar to be made from a set of these...

My Micron pens arrived in the mail yesterday, and I am looking forward to playing with them in this fashion, as well.  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

archery and tulips

 Esme and I have been out with the bow doing target practice.  She actually hit the target just before I snapped this picture and it is in midair! 

Our red and white tulips bloomed as well!

Mark has been getting shortwave frequencies on his antenna.  I've been drawing some pastoral pictorial drawings for practice - maybe will post some of that later.  We've all been out on the bikes today.  Esme almost has the hang of her new one, and she might go riding with a friend this weekend one day if we can get them together.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

bits and pieces

 Mark on the roof, working on his antenna for radio reception.

A picture I asked Esme to take of me since my profile was about two or three years old...

 Esme downstairs before I gave her the camera.

When Esme gets home today if the weather is nice she can try riding her new bike again.  I've finished one of my books and back into another.  I'm also sketching down a few things in a journal that I've meant to write for a while but haven't been in the right frame of mind for it.

Monday, March 20, 2017

of cabbage, pens, and antenna receivers

 I decided to draw a picture of Esme's school cabbage.  It is growing so pretty, as Mark gave it some fertilizer.  I went through all my pens the other night and kept only the ones that worked in my drawing case.. which was about a quarter of them!  I have a new set coming from our work bonus - Microns from Sakura.. I love those, they can get all the fine details.  This was drawn with an InkJoy gel pen.. not fine detail, but it is very smooth.  Mark said the other day that I should go through my pens like water - because I don't, they dry up.. and he's right.  I need to draw more but instead I just keep myself from doing it.  It's like that thing I do with the last smidgen of milk... let it sit in the container saying 'I have milk.' and not drinking it.  My mom taught me to do things like this.  Inadvertently, I have taught Esme to do it, too.  *sigh*

This is the pattern for my lunchbag, in case I forget again.  It is another thing I should do more often.  I had forgotten what I did the first time to make it, and waited until it was in sorry shape to make another one.  It is a fat quarter laid out like an 'H', with two small squares cut out.  Then, the two top lines on each side are sewn tog3ether.  Then, the remaining parts get sewn together in a gusset like shown below.  Then, a drawstring seam is made all around the entire bag and it is finished.

Mark is working on his antenna for his radio receiver.  I need to work more in the garden  if it is truly as warm as they say it will be... I did go out and clear the garden almost entirely.  Mark also got up on the roof and put his antenna up.  I got some pictures of him on the roof I'll post tomorrow.

We went to the store tonight intending to spend some of the bonus on a bicycle for Esme.  She had outgrown her old one last summer.  We got a remarkably good deal on it because it had been put in the wrong place.  We didn't expect that - we actually thought we were going for a cheaper bike than the one we originally looked at.  That seemed to be the best one for the money.  When it turned out to be actually more expensive at the register we did get to buy it for the price tag that had been on it (but wasn't correct).  We felt really lucky and also glad we didn't have to go back and have Esme choose again after going through everything the first time.  This bike will give her some room to grow - although she almost has to learn to ride again it has been so long.  Mostly, just get over the fear of falling off of it and the fact that the brakes are only on the handles and not also on the pedals.