Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Blacksmith and the Yellow Dahlia

My oldest son fell in love with the art of blacksmithing at the tender age of 5.  His school took a field trip to beautiful and historic Ft. Toulouse in Wetumpka, Alabama when he was in kindergarten, and the moment he stepped into the blacksmith's shop he was awestruck.  This dark, cool, and shadowy place with the fiery forge billowing at its heart, captivated his young heart and mind with magic and mystery.  He's now 14 years old, and his dream of working in this very blacksmith shop has come true. He is beaming, full of passion and enthusiasm, learning to love the satisfaction that comes with hard work, and becoming a fine young man. As a mother, this makes my heart smile from its deepest roots to the top of my head and up to the heavens.  My boy.

After many days of wonderful, life-giving rains, the woods are bursting with mushrooms.  I've taken so many pictures! Just had to share one of my favorites from this week.  And the dahlias...... Oh my Lord.  Just when I think I've seen the most beautiful and breathtaking flower God ever created (the poppies!!) along comes this impossible yellow dahlia.  It's like looking into the face of the sun.  I had to try to sketch it.  Oh how I wish my fingers could render those petals like cool yellow flames!  Mine is stiff and stodgy.  The real thing is a goddess. Mine is Winston Churchill. (no offense, I love Winston Churchill - have you read any biographies about him? fascinating man) but I didn't want to sketch Churchill. I wanted Aphrodite in a flower.  I'll get there one day.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


This is the time of the year in the deep South when things tend to slow down a little bit.  It's so hot and humid, the weather dictates a slower and more relaxed pace.  Nothing can be planted or sown now until the heat subsides in late August-early September, so there's nothing to do in the garden but weed and water and harvest and enjoy. Oh, and there's the constant surveillance of the tomatoes, keeping a keen eye out for the tomato hornworm.  We went away for the weekend and I came home to find one of my plants eaten almost down to the ground! They are voracious little creatures and when I find one, I pick it off and feed it to the fish in the creek pool.  Apparently, they are quite a tasty treat, because the fish swarm in a feeding frenzy until every last bit is gone.

One of my summer  projects is to document all of the flowers in my garden as they come into bloom by sketching them in my new little watercolor sketchbook. It will be good practice and will result in a sort of art and garden journal.  I think I might even make notes on the back of the page about each plant and any ideas for next year such as planting some daisies alongside the yellow calla lilies.  Wouldn't that be a smashing combination!  I'm also experimenting with creating my own flower pots from hypertufa; a mix of concrete, perlite, and peat moss.  I made two small ones yesterday and they are now curing.  They have to cure for at least two weeks before I can remove them from their molds to see what I've got, and the anticipation is killing me. I'm sure I will be peeking before the two weeks is up.  If they turn out decently, I'll share some photos :)   I've also made a couple more kokedama like the one in the photo above, except I am now experimenting with little rex begonias I grew from leaf cuttings.  So, lots of little projects going on here and there this summer.   There will also be lots of sitting on the porch in the shade, sipping cool drinks, reading, floating in the creek pool looking up at the blue sky through the green bower above.  Aaaaah summer. relax. enjoy. savor.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Garden Notes - May

Though there are tomatoes, peppers, and herbs hiding in there somewhere still, the "vegetable patch" has been overtaken by flowers. Can't help myself.

We've been enjoying very beautiful weather over the last couple of months.  With warm, sunny days and cool nights, the garden is rejoicing.  All but the first two photos are of the new bed with wattled borders that we built over the winter.  It was part gardening project, part history project, part construction project.  My boys helped me build the wattled border walls, line them with landscape fabric, and gather rich topsoil from the woods to fill it with.  It was a lot of work, but it was fun, and the result is a rich and well-draining soil the plants seem to love.  It was a good lesson for our homeschooling family as well.  We learned that with hard work, creativity, and borrowing from the knowledge of the past,  you can make something really beautiful with very little money.  I've been snapping photos like mad, wanting to paint everything I see! Especially this fabulous red poppy.  This is the very first poppy I've ever been able to grow, and I freely admit to swooning over it shamelessly.  I have dubbed her the May Queen as she is definitely the queen of our little garden at present.  I have a feeling she may be dethroned in June when that giant of a sunflower towering over the garden in the first photo comes into bloom! I can't wait. Yes I can. Slow down time! slow down! I want to savor every blossom, every petal, every leaf. every day.

Blessings, friends!

Thursday, May 4, 2017

May Days

Aaaah! Lovely May days have arrived.  Foxgloves, daisies, and honeysuckle are blooming along with hundreds of wildflowers.  The air is now warm and humid, but pleasantly filled with the mingling of damp, sweet earth and fragrant flowers.  Every morning and evening the doors and windows are flung open to fill the house with the sound of birdsong and the rich perfume that fills the air.  It's a glorious time of year.  We have been spring cleaning!!  How do we manage to collect so much stuff in our tiny little house?  A carload is being packed up to be delivered to the Salvation Army charity shop.  It feels good to have space to breathe.

The foxglove sketch was done in my Daniel Smith watercolors that I've had for a year now but have been too intimidated to open and use.  They're glorious! They make me feel like a better painter as they honestly do a lot of the work for me.  Such a great investment, and I am not afraid to use them anymore! The curved steel leaf is one I forged at a blacksmithing symposium at Tannehill Ironworks. My two boys (great big strapping boys now!) have taken up an interest in blacksmithing, and I couldn't resist getting in on the action.  It's a whole new world of creative possibilities!! Dear husband has set about building us a home forge, and we are super excited to get cracking.  The boys want to make weapons, of course.  I want to make decorative pretties - drawer handles, towel rods, curtain rods, garden tools, etc.  I have so many ideas!!

The tiny little potters wasp nest and the intricate trails left by the leaf miner are some of the small natural wonders which captivate me.  Nature amazes and thrills me on a daily basis.  Every walk in the woods feels like an exploration, an adventure!  Naughty Shep upset a turkey from her nest early one morning, and feeling very proud of himself, delivered me the gift of a still warm egg.  I couldn't bear to scold him.  I thanked him and put it in my pocket.

Wishing you the joy of many May flowers in your neck o' the woods :-)


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Recent Sketches

My dear mother bought me this little faux bois pot, which I love, and I put one of my orchids in it. I love how it looks so much, I decided to sketch it. I really learned a lot on this one, and it was so much fun rendering the bark like texture on the pot. I imagine this little pot will be the subject of a great many more sketches.

Every year in early spring, our house is invaded by ladybugs.  This one posed for a sketch.

my beloved little anole. You've seen these many times here on this blog and will probably see them many times more.  They are sort of like wild pets, if that makes any sense.  They live all around our house and are my constant companions when I'm outside on the porch.  They love my flower pots where they hunt for insect prey and meet girls.  What I love most about them is how they look at me, curiously, and without fear, studying me too until I get too close and they feel they must move away - just a safe distance.  They are obviously as curious about me as I am them. Once I uncovered an earthworm while digging in a nearby flower bed and I offered it to one.  He ate it immediately without any hesitation as if it were the most natural thing in the world to accept a meal from a giant. 

A note to Valerie: the ladybug and anole are in the beautiful journal you sent to me.  I finally got the courage to use it!!  thank you, again for your encouragement and support always. bless you!

Monday, April 3, 2017


A watercolor. 


Mushrooms in the treetops! about 25-30 ft up in an old dead tree.

best dogs ever.

red earth.

copper beech close-up