Monday, August 06, 2012

Who are we, really?

One of my close friends calls me a philosopher, another thinks I am mostly funny and my mother thinks I am "all business."  I'm all of these, but not always at the same time.  Like many people, I am prone to moods - and tend to be reactive to other people's moods and/or personalities as well.  What I am at my core is shy.

I don't think a shy child ever overcomes shyness.  One learns to push past it much of the time; to change behavior, but left to my own devices, I tend to withdraw, avoid confrontation, crowds of strangers, and aggressive people.  I'm still shy on the inside.  I have learned self preservation means saying no - and standing up for myself - and I do feel a bit proud when I do .  But I don't like how I feel while it's happening. It's not comfortable to try to be something I am not.
Gracie is shy, too.
If I were a butterfly or moth, I could just spin a cocoon or chrysalis and emerge as a different "being."  Instead, I weave a cocoon of protection that is intangible.  I am terrible at selling my own work, so I sell through galleries and the internet where face to face sales are rare.  And yet I am enthusiastic and even wonderful at selling the works of artist friends...  Go figure.
Me in another life...  (a black swallowtail to be!!)
It's so hot, and I am too poor right now to afford another air conditioner for my studio room.  When I get home from my "day job", the house is well over 90 degrees, and only the bedroom is cooled, so I make a quick supper, dashing in and out of the "air." I use only the microwave if possible to avoid making more heat.   I can't bring myself to paint unless I can work in the morning on the days I am off - or down in the shop which I can keep cool until about 2pm, when the heat overcomes the small air conditioner there.

This is the hottest summer I've experienced in my 20 years in the south.  I'd move if I could!!!  But September is coming, and any day now, I might have enough extra $$ to get cooler...

Hope everyone out there is keeping cool too. 

Saturday, June 09, 2012

A Bee, A Bee!!

All week I've been on the lookout for bee and butterflies...  A few butterflies have been sighted - and lo! Yesterday I finally saw one - just one - honeybee.  I was actually tempted to stake out the clover and follow that bee, but I had places to be myself...  (sorry, couldn't resist...) 

I spent my day off finishing two small paintings for the upcoming Sautee show, and then got a call from a shop that sells my things to come touch up a desk that had sold.  I promptly lost my mind and forgot to photograph the paintings before I delivered them.  What a dolt.

I'm so happy about seeing that bee that I just have to post happy photos.  Here's one of my daylily plantings.
These are near a small pond and very happy.
And here is one very shy Monarch. This was taken with my feeble telephoto before he disappeared.

And for comic relief...  the inimitable Gracie:
First we feeds ourselves....

Then we burps....

Then we grooms...
Then we naps...
Then we really naps...
???  It's Garfy - a real square.  Everybody loves the box!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Where are the butterflies and bees?

Growing up in Illinois, I was privileged to witness not only migratory birds, but migrating Monarch butterflies.  They would literally cover the trees in a small park in Neoga - where I lived from age 6 to age 12. They would fan their wings slowly as they rested - and if it was quiet enough, you could actually hear the soft thrum of hundreds of thousands of fragile wings.  They only stayed for a day or so, then they were gone, on to Mexico and South America.  I'm told there are only a few who pass through now.

Tomorrow is June First.  It's been in the eighties and nineties here for weeks.  No bees.  Has anyone else noticed so few bees or butterflies?  Am I living in a no-fly zone?

I am concerned.  I know things have been blooming early, after the mildest winter in memory, but my flowers - including three large butterfly bushes are covered in colorful spikes of blossoms and yet I have seen not one butterfly.  Actually, I did see a small white sulfur (commonly known as a cabbage butterfly) today - but it was dead, just lying on the soil in my garden.
From last summer -Yellow Sulfur Butterfly on Russian Sage
I know bees are endangered by a disease that has devastated a great percentage of hives, but never before do I remember not seeing even one honeybee on the white clover that covers much of my lawn and pasture.  Last year I saw an increase in the bumblebee population humming and buzzing and defying the laws of physics as they pollinated the pear and plum trees as well as the clover, but I'm not seeing them either.  This is frightening.

This year's lilacs - saw only small insects, no honeybees.

Passion Flower - grows wild as a rather stringy survivor with a small bloom or two, but I've managed a huge mass of vines and flowers with just a bit of encouragement.  It seems to love the climbing rose that shelters it and vice-verso.
I don't use many chemicals - a bit of fire ant dust only on the mounds, and something to fight the borers that get in my lilac tubers. I'm very careful not to use sprays or insecticides that kill in a broad-spectrum manner, and I mostly use soap solutions on the few vegetables I grow and on the few flowers that need a little help. But I'm feeling that I'm not doing enough, so this year I'm going to establish more food and environment for a variety of butterflies. 

A couple of years ago, I asked one of my sisters to send me milkweed pods so that I might try to sustain a patch here.  So far, the plants haven't attained much size or flowered, and it may be too hot for it here, but I'll keep trying.  I know Monarch caterpillars love dill - so I'll grow that, too. Tulip Poplar is important for Tiger Swallowtails who also love Purple Loosestrife and Ironweed. All butterflies seem to love the bright orange Butterfly Weed that grows along roads.  I noticed that the highway department actually skips mowing these endangered wild flowers.  How cool - and unusual is that?

Russian sage - I'm hopeful this year's blooms will have visitors from the air.

And for comic relief - Elvis in his box...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

It was a virus!  Yay..  Three days dealing with "the public" and I am sick.  But that's the good news!

Well, not really yay - but it seems I was coming down with a cold when I posted last.  Bummer - but better than depression in general.  After three days of high doses of Emergen-C and lots of sleep, I am feeling more myself.  This cold comes with earaches and blocked Eustachian tubes. Ouchy.  Have you ever heard and felt your heartbeat in you ear canal?  Very weird.
Gracie the undignified...  This is just how I looked the past three days...
And now for a mystery.  Can anyone identify this plant?
Closeup of new shoot showing more color variation.
This is a plant I bought several years ago (on clearance, of course - I'm always buying plants that need rescuing.)  It's deciduous, and flowers in May or June.  You can see the small floral spikes forming here.  The leaf pattern is what attracted me to what was then a tiny little sprout.  It seems to thrive in the part shade by one of my sheds. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Yeah, okay - I fess up.

I think I might be depressed.  Not clinically gone.  Not even close to needing a shrink.  Definitely not in need of meds.  (Though a generic loritab - left over from my knee surgery - might offer a brief respite of I can clean the house in ten minutes kind of relief.)  Speaking of meds, what is it with narcotics anyhow?  I can't take codeine unless I want to vomit until I dry heave, I don't tolerate aspirin or ibuprofen or anti-inflammatories, so the only choice left for me in "painkillers" are narcotics.  Addictive!  And since I object to taking drugs due to logical, moral and health reasoning, it's ironic that I should enjoy those narcs so much that I have saved a few even though it meant toughing out some pretty bad leg pain.  I mean: I never even took acid or speed cause I like to be in control (of myself).  Given the proper excuse (head injury, broken bones, etc.,) drugs are, uh, okay.
I built this funky fence out of chair parts, wood turnings and left-over board and such.
I have a bit of fun adding seasonal decorations... do ya like my giant carrot headed bunny?
I'm stoic.  I tolerate pain very well.  I'm tough and I'm a survivor of four emergency room dashes, one of which included a speeding ambulance ride (fractured skull) to get there.  Another time I drove myself there with a broken shoulder - and I had a five speed stick shift!  One time I had keep from passing out long enough to prevent the hospital folk from cutting my custom made field boots off before I went for x-rays.   But that was all back when I rode fearlessly on unpredictable horses - and I was, of course, many years younger.  I bounced back.

Now I don't bounce so well.  The fall I took last September has permanently damaged my left knee, which was my best one (a horse having fallen on the right one - and I was once dragged by that right leg too on a horse named Lucky, of all things).  In a riding "accident,"  there is a kind of glory. There is pride in the retelling. Falling in a puddle of water on a cement floor is without glory.  There's only the mortification of knowing several people witnessed it and it was caught on video.  After seven months, surgery, cortisone shots and some kind of lubricant injections, not to mention crutches, cane and limping - and several weeks of physical therapy, my right knee and my right hip are now inflamed.   When I walk, I can't decide whether to limp right or left or just shuffle - kind of like Tim Conway as the old geezer.

Sigh.  I return to the awful part time job this week on "light duty".  This is literally adding insult to injury.
Spring.  Bloom.  Leaf.  Grow.
So, as my lack of postings here where I am normally wont to revel, wax poetic (about my kittehs) and philosophize  illustrates: I am rather down.  (Now that was a hard-to-read sentence!)

But I still have my sense of humor, my kitties and kittehs still amuse me, and my geriatric dogs and horses are doing tolerably well.  I'm even growing a bit of a garden. Soon there'll be tomatoes and sweet corn, potatoes and squash - and I picked my own greens grown from seed last eve for a stupendous salad. One needs things to look forward to even if one must create them.

My salad?

Black seeded simpson lettuce
bibb or buttercrunch lettuce
red leaf lettuce
black olives sliced
red seedless grapes
thin sliced baby carrots
celery bits (cause I need to use it up)
Vidalia onion (just a bit)

Balsamic vinegar (just a drizzle) and then ranch dressing on top...  Yum.

If you haven't tried grapes in your salad as a replacement for - or in addition to - tomatoes, please do so!

I feel better now.  Thanks for listening.  I think I'll plant some nasturtiums for a zesty salad addition!

Gracie.  Just look at her perfect eyeliner...

Thursday, March 08, 2012

My Shop: Cottage Chic

 Doncha' just love turquoise?
 Last year, my friend Carol and I decided to stop renting space and go for low overhead.  We turned my derelict workshop into an actual shop/studio/gallery where we display items for sale.  The main reason for having a shop open to the public is to promote the re-furbishing aspect of our services.  We rejuvenate and update good pieces of furniture and accessories found at thrift shops and yard sales - and display both fine and folk art for sale. 

The place was a mess - mostly just full of all the stuff I collect from which to make something else - or something better. 
These are the "befores."
 The building is a circa 1920's house now weathered by the passing decades to a nearly uniform silvery gray.  I added  French doors, larger windows and a deck for working and sitting outside. All the way up the .2 mi. drive there are signs (think Burma Shave) to entice clientele to the shop.  Signs include "Bunny Crossing" (very true), Watch for Armadillo followed by Just Kidding, and Keep Going! and Slow: Skunk Area (so that people really will go slow).  And of course, we paint and sell signs, too.
 It's a work in progress.!!  The window in the attic space has now been replaced and I've plans to landscape and create paths and gardens all around.

 This is the old well house - now a funky gazebo of sorts.  Unfortunately the well is dry.  I've even removed the slab to look down there.  Very, very dry... 
 Some of the pet portraits painted on old wooden bowls.  I refer to them as "bowlies."  Fun and inexpensive... we'll paint your pet or portrait from your photo for $35.
 More refurbished goods - a funky mirror and commode painted with texture paint, glazed and aged for a fresco look.  Also a selection of mirrors and architectural reliefs.  Red walls really set these off!
The newest space - not yet filled up, but you can see a selection of furniture (that's a vintage Lane cedar chest circa 1950's), a 1930's glass front cabinet, teapots, paintings and one of my pedestals made from old shutters.  Merchandise is cottage, artsy, funky and fun - with lots of color.

More to come!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Introducing Molly Flopover

There is no cat more beautiful than a tabby, especially a classic tabby like Molly.  Molly came to me as a kitten, the last of three siblings born in the warehouse of my local feed store.  She should have been wild, but instead she was fearless and gregarious, which is how I ended up taking her home.  The young man who loaded feed said she would run if I tried to pet her, but instead she purred and rubbed her head on my hand.  How could I resist?  I was still saying "no more cats.." as I drove away with my 200 lbs of feed and one tiny tabby kitten.

Molly helping out in the studio.

Her tabby daddy ruled that feed store for years, perching on the counter for all the customers to admire .  Even for a tom cat he was heavily built; a stocky cat - and Molly takes after him.  She's chunky; kind of square, and when she walks ahead of me during chores I always notice her unusual build.

Contemplating global warming...  or perhaps listening for the sound of kibble

Molly has a talent, too.  She holds the Small Meadows Farm record for the most flop-overs completed between the house and the feed shed - a total of eight!  If only I had a video camera...  

Molly is eleven this year - a noble age for a noble cat.  Molly is a loner -mostly aloof from the other cats.  She comes in for lengthy naps and one-on-one attention from me, and she is happiest lying in the sun on one of her many perches.

 My favorite Molly photo...