Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Kitchen Counter in August

I love the way the kitchen counters look in August.
Harvest... a little different every day...
Always a sense of satisfaction to see it there on the counter.

Not getting many eggs since 1 hen is old and 2 are new mamas.
We'll see if this bread & butter pickle recipe is delicious.
So many cucumbers this year!

The deer tried, but I won that battle! 
Kraut is one of those things you either love or hate... no in between.
Full disclosure... The cabbages were from my sister's garden.
Spaghetti sauce for the freezer.
Tomatoes with basil, oregano, chives, onions from my "pot garden"...

Because I grow herbs in pots!
A few pretty little marigolds to bring the outside in.
They always remind me of my mother.
Maybe I should paint them.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Baby Chickens!

Day 21! So Exciting! 
First it's just a crack, then a hole... and it's moving!
Peep! Peep! Peep! 
Who knew that they started peeping BEFORE they hatched!

First Sylvia got broody.  She was a good little momma and faithfully sat on her four eggs.  One broke early on. A second one hatched a few days early and just wasn't ready. One was a dud. And the other one had little LaurelAnne (a.k.a LaLa) in it!  We love her so!

 LaLa has grown so fast!

Next Dolly got broody.
Actually there were six eggs. Sadly, one hatched too soon and just wasn't ready.  Another got stepped on in the nest during the first hour. But these four seem healthy and happy.

 I've got to get these little fluffs named!
Sweet Aunt Fancy.  She is always nearby helping out with the chicks.
While The Reds (Red Red & Other Red) pretty much ignore them.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Tweet IV

I've painted this little friend several times.  It (as well as Apple Slices) is kind of a perfect starter painting for a beginner. As I've painted alongside the new painter, I get to end up with a little painting too.

Each time I paint a little bluebird, it triggers a memory.  My dad used to sing a silly song in the mornings, my version of an alarm clock.
Birdie with a yellow bill, 
Hopped upon my window sill,
Winked a shiny eye and said,
"Aren't you ashamed, you sleepy head?"
Original Oil Painting on 6"x 8" Wrapped Canvas
Click "Tweet! IV" to purchase this little painting.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Apple Slices VI

An apple for the teacher...
Teachers went back to school this week.
I'm not a teacher any more.
So, what am I now?

I loved being a teacher for 32 years, but I finished. 
Not for a moment have I longed to go back, but it's a weird thing not to be a teacher any more.
So, who am I now?

I've been through several phases of figuring out this not-being-a-teacher thing. 
So, how many phases until it feels normal? 

One weird thing is that form you get at appointments:
Name ☑ 
Occupation... sigh... What to put?  "None" or how about "Undecided" or just leave it blank?

Another weird thing was the last day of school this year. 
It marked a whole year... a whole year...
At first I wondered what I'd done with a whole year. 
Had I just piddled a whole year away?
So I made a list: 
  • Helped my dad settle into a retirement center
  • Pilates and yoga 3-4 times a week
  • Disney World with the kids
  • Started hanging paintings in the doctor's office
  • Three different crafting weekends at Welcome Home Retreat
  • Read the Bible through
  • Visited the Grand Canyon, Saguaro National Park, Sedona, stood on the Corner of Winslow, Arizona
  • Editing project for a petroleum consulting firm
  • Time with our daughter in Maryland
  • Present with Jolene in her last days
  • Cabin in West Virginia (lovely, but much like my own back yard which is free)
  • Spent a week in a hospital room with my sister
  • Monthly visits with Aunt Anita and helping her write her memoirs
  • Big trip to Indonesia where we worked in an orphanage, in village homes, and in several schools
  • Chickens
  • Garden
  • Cooking
Ok... Maybe I should stop beating myself up because of all the little jobs that I was sure I would get to right away... I suppose haven't been a complete sloth... 
But it sure has been wonderful to move in slow gear... work a crossword puzzle...  read a book... go to lunch with a friend... paint... scroll through Facebook... sit on the back porch and watch all that goes on...

So... I still don't know what to write in that Occupation blank...
...It's okay.

Original Oil Painting on 5"x 7" Wrapped Canvas
Click "Apple Slices VI" to purchase a little apple painting.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Backyard Friends - Update

I know you're all checking your blog feed daily to see if there's been an update to our raccoon / possum issues... (Click here if you missed the beginning.)
You wanted a raccoon update....
Well, let's talk about it...
We set up a fairly technical alarm system... Here's how it would work. The raccoon (We'll call him Ed) would try again to open it, hear the clatter of falling tin cans, run for his life, and vow never to return. 
Four tin cans on top of the chicken food bin... Ahhh... But wait... There are only three cans up in the picture.  The other can was an Eagle Brand milk can... Perhaps I didn't rinse it well enough... I think Ed liked the taste (because, let's face it, who doesn't!) and carefully removed it to take back to his home for a late night dessert.
Next we set up quite an elaborate safety system for the bin holding the bags of treats. A bucket of rocks on the lid.  When Ed tried to open the box, they'd fall on his head.  (I know... I know, it must seem that I attended and received an advanced degree from the school of Wile E. Coyote!)

Let's see how that worked out...
Yep!  It worked... well... sort of... We heard the ruckus, hopped out of bed, turned on the light, and ran around the side of the house to find Ed, rubbing the knot on his head. He just furrowed his brow and sort of scowled is disgust at us both.  Without a word in his defense, he just turned and left.
Now, you really need to open click on this photo and zoom in... right there in front of Pounce (our cat). Do you see where Ed has managed to pull the plastic bag from the sunflower seed through the side of the bin?
What??? How?
Yeah... Ate right though the side of the bin lid!  
Well, there weren't any little plastic chunks on the porch, so I assume he ate it. Hmph!  Serves him right!
Tummy ache and knot on the head aside, Ron gave him a very stern talking-to about the the rudeness of his destruction of property as he ambled away.
I switched out the oyster shells and scratch (Basically they're rocks that apparently are good for chickens to eat sometimes so they can use them as "teeth" to grind up food... Don't quote me on that... Better check with a real chicken blogger person.) and put those in the canisters with lids that flip open and put the good stuff in canisters that have screw tops.
When Ed and his buddies come back, let them have a few hands full of rocks to munch on.  See how they like that.
But, maybe they won't come back. You see that little opened box of Irish Spring.  It makes the whole area smell like... well... like Irish Spring.  Its supposed to keep the deer away, so maybe it will work for Ed and company too.

As I sit on my back porch and write this post, it's becoming pretty clear that Ed has daytime spies that are keeping an eye on me.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Backyard Friends

Go ahead and say it... "Awwww... How sweet! So cute!!" 

Do you know what that sweet little fawn is saying to his deer mother? "Hey, Mama, how about we stop eating these leaves and go over there to eat every single cucumber leaf and blossom that our noses can reach!!!"  


We love our woods, and we (usually) live in perfect harmony with our woodland friends.

There are times, however, when it's really frustrating (We'll see if the pieces of Irish Spring soap keep them from coming back to finish off my once-beautiful hostas.), but usually we just laugh.  

Okay... The funniest thing happened last night.  

A little background first - Something (probably a raccoon) had figured out how to get into our big chicken food bin. We sealed it better, and I put 4 empty tin cans on the lid.  I was thinking that if they tried again, the cans would fall, and the clatter would scare them off.  

In the middle of the night last night I heard the crash, so I hopped up and ran through the dark house to have a look.  It wasn't the feed bin and cans though.

Right there in front of me was a raccoon sitting in a pile of sunflower seeds. He must have knocked them off the shelf where we keep four plastic canisters of treats by the back door. When I flipped on the light, the raccoon had his little hands in the air like, "What? Do you need something? Turn the light off."  I  yelled for Ron to come look and yelled at the raccoon.  Again, the raccoon basically shook his head and said, "Seriously? I'm fine here. Go back to bed."  I was about three feet from him, and he didn't care at all.  I finally yelled and waved enough that he said, "Fine... fine!" and sauntered to the edge of the deck where he looked back and said, "Ok, ok... I'm going! Sheesh!"

We were laughing and knew we had to clean up the spilled sunflower seeds. So I bent down, turned... and... not three feet from my head... a possum was sitting right there on the shelf!!!  She'd been watching the whole thing!  It nearly scared the bejeezies out of me!  I hopped back toward the door and yelled at her.  She opened her mouth really wide.  I think she was saying, "I was here first.  I knocked off the birdseed, but nothing happened.  I knocked off the sunflower seeds, and they spilled."  I yelled at her again.  She just opened her mouth wide again and continued, "Next I'm going to knock off the deer corn. Then I'm going to knock off the dried worms."  Finally, I grabbed a mop that was propped up out there and waved it at her.  She just grabbed the back of the shelf with her tail and said, "Stop that! Why are you even out here in the middle of the night?"  I poked her with the mop.  She grabbed on, so I flung her off the shelf. After a thump, She trotted a few steps, and looked back with a most annoyed expression.

I have the distinct feeling that they were neither amused nor afraid.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Dickson Street II

It seems like I haven't posted a new painting in a long time, but I have been painting! A lot... Really!
It's just that this last one felt like 25 little paintings that just happened to be all on one big canvas!  
10 cars...15 buildings... and all the stuff that goes with each one of those. 

I love to do a great big complicated piece every once in a while.  
It's just that it stays in the ugly stage for such a long time!  First it's just a great big bunch of colorful blobs. Slowly each blob takes shape then becomes a car or building or tree or sign. Finally the canvas is covered, and it looks like what it's supposed to be... except wonky and wrong.  
The writer in me knows that the rough draft and major revisions are finished, so it's time to edit.
Ugh... shape up the perspective here... fix the shape of this... make that look like it's further back... straighten those... add some shadowing... make that flatter... rounder... redder... darker... thicker... lighter... thinner... change that whole section... get rid of those... liven this up... tone that down... wipe this off... change the shape of that
Then one day... I sit back and look for the next glaring problem that needs to be fixed.  I search each little part... step away and look back at the whole... and  finally... my furrowed brow relaxes... and is replaced by a smile. 
That's when I find the thin brush with long bristles and move the the bottom corner of the canvas for one last thing...


How about a few fun facts about this painting:
I wanted to show how big it is.
* I painted a similar version of this a couple of years ago for my friend Melanie.
*This one is for my friend Mona.  The red Mustang at the center is hers.
* I asked her, When you think of me to you think of me in the red VW I had for 10 years or in the green one that I have now. The red VW bug about halfway down the line is mine.  
* Her husband's red truck at the far end of the line of cars has actually appeared in another painting.
* They're big Razorback fans, so "Go Hogs."  I like that better than a big Budweiser sign anyway.
* Finally, there needed to be something put on the signs on the fronts of the buildings, so why not the names of her grandchildren. I hope they each like their buildings!

Original Oil Painting on 24"x 36" Canvas

Friday, July 6, 2018

Sunrise at Shangri-La

Comfort food - beef vegetable soup
Comfort clothes - the oldest jeans and big paint-stained tee-shirt
Comfort drink - coke from Sonic
Comfort music - country
Comfort view - Lake Ouachita

This is my view from the porch of Cabin E at Shangri-La Resort on Lake Ouachita.  

My family started spending a three-night reunion here 29 years ago... when we filled 6 cabins.  Now we need 9 cabins and 8 rooms!  

Original Oil Painting on 12"x 16" Wrapped Canvas

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


This is our little LaurelAnne (a.k.a. LaLa)  She hatched into our hearts two weeks ago.

She (...and I realize I have no idea whether she's a she and will begin to lay eggs in a few months or grow a long tail and begin to crow, but until then, she's a she...) is just the cutest little ball of fluff!! 
I can't tell you how much time I've whiled away just watching her flit around beside/under/behind Sylvia while she's learning all the important chicken things she needs to know!

My pretty little garden... Looks like I'm in a pen, right?
I keep things that aren't tasty to deer in the perimeter cages.
Training the cucumber vines to climb up and stay in their own 
cages is a daily thing. They grow so fast!
Things just taste better when you pick the yourself, don't they.
If even half of my yellow blooms become
cucumbers,I will have a bumper crop this year.

Roma and cherry tomatoes seem to grow best for me.
I wish those big beefsteaks grew well here, but my
little guys are have big flavor.
More jalapenos that we can ever use,
but they're so fun to grow and pick!
I can't imagine who ever decided that a bell
pepper should be a food, but Ron likes
them. And they are so pretty.
Okra have the most beautiful blooms.
I like growing and preparing them,
but again, Ron's the one who eats them.
Zinnias have to be in my garden. My mother grew them
and her mother grew them, so I grow them.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Stargazer Lily II

If you read yesterday's post, you know that my art friend Nelvia put me up to a Facebook challenge that I truly dreaded doing. I had some sort of irrational fear of showing my art to people who know me. And, if you read it, you know that it turned out to be the best thing ever.  One reason was getting to reconnect and paint with a friend from college.

But wait!!  There's more!!!

Mixed in with all the sweet comments from friends, came a comment on each of the seven days from Lynn. The comments turned into conversations. Lynn had been my high school Sunday school teacher!  Between moves and name changes and 36 years, we'd completely lost touch but reconnected through Nelvia's challenge!
We discovered that we'd both spent the years as teachers and both happened to live in the same area now. As it turns out, Lynn's always been artistic and longed for an opportunity to learn to paint.

Who knew what wonderful things would come from that little Facebook challenge. 
And... yes... there are few other good things yet to add to this challenge story!!

Original Oil Painting on 6"x 6"x 2.5" Canvas.