Monday, May 28, 2012
I have several viburnums in my garden but these two have 'snow' in their names: Snowball Viburnum (viburnum opulus roseum)
I've made lots of progress in my garden the past couple of weeks but there are still two major flower beds to clean up. This is the most intensive time of year for me gardening-wise. After that, it's a matter of not letting the weeds take over. I hope to get back to painting soon.
Yesterday, we tested our irrigation system. Meeko only chewed six sprinklers this past winter, compared to twenty-five the year before! He concentrated on an area that I can't see from the house. Very sneaky of him. I repaired them yesterday, wrapped them with chicken wire and sprayed them with citronella (as he does not like that smell) and hope he will stay away from them for a little while (like maybe all summer!). I guess I should thank him though for allowing me to add sprinkler repairs to my handywoman repertoire.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
We receive a weekly basket of organic vegetables from a local farm. We've been a customer/partner of the same farm for almost 17 years now. Despite the fact that we know that we are going to receive beautiful, fresh vegetables throughout the summer, it was very important to me to have our own veggie garden. I wanted Emma and Chloé to have a connection with how things grow and to feel the joy in participating in the process.
Here are my gardeners a few years later, I think at age five and nine.
|Hmmm, where did that fashion pose come from? Certainly not me. Emma is holding an insect cage that was very well used over many summers here.|
The next photos you will see document the transformation of our garden this year from a wild, neglected space (I didn't have time to look after it last year and we missed it SO much) to a beautiful, ordered, planted vegetable patch.
|I told you it was overgrown. I took this standing on a stepladder about a week ago. All that green is provided by many happy violas, some coriander, a perennial strawberry plant, a monster sage plant and many, many weeds.|
|Now weed-free with the soil topped up with organic earth and compost.|
|Honestly, you'd think that Meeko was the one who weeded and then hauled and spread the ten bags of organic soil and three bags of compost himself!|
Not all vegetables grow close to the ground, so you will need a method to support your taller vegetables. The square foot method suggests various tall structures. For me, I need a combination of 'practical' and 'pretty' to be happy, so I bought attractive metal obelisks that I use to support my taller plants. This year, I will also be using the shrub at the back of the bed to support my cucumbers.
|Here I'm trying out positions for all of the vegetables. You'll notice I used both potted plants and seeds.|
|Here is our veggie garden on Sunday afternoon, planted and watered.|
All in all, if I don't count the spaces taken up by stepping stones, we have forty-four planting spaces. It's an amazing way to grow many beautiful things in a small space.
I am very excited to report that I can see signs of sprouting from some of our seeds only four days after planting them. Sunshine and rain. We've had the perfect garden combination in past days.
Bookhou owned by Arounna and John) with a lovely weekend sunset sparkling in the background.
P.S. The pie was delicious!
Friday, May 18, 2012
I posted in-progress photos of my lilac watercolour yesterday. Here's the final painting. I really tried not to add too much detail and to keep things loose and suggested. (Not my normal way of painting down to very last line and dot!)
|Detail of Lilacs|
Have a happy holiday weekend (for those of you with one) and a wonderful ordinary one for those without!
Thursday, May 17, 2012
|Here are some violas from the veggie garden dug up and ready to be transferred to pots and other parts of the garden|
I cut some to paint a couple of days ago. I started my painting in a very loose way with lots of water on the paper. Then I added paint and let it spread in a pretty free way. It's not my normal approach but I felt the need to do things in a less structured way. Maybe because of all of the emotion of last week. I'm using a different paper (my experiments continue!) and I quite like this one. It's Fabriano Artistico 300 lb. hot press paper. It has a very smooth surface. It is noticeably smoother than the equivalent 300 lb. Arches paper.
|This is just after the initial washes and a first few details were added|
Here's my work on it this morning. You can see how I'm starting to add more detail. One lovely side benefit of painting lilacs is that you get to smell them as you paint!
I'm writing this while listening to birds chirp outside and sipping on green tea steeped with fresh mint leaves from the garden. How I love this time of year. Now up to the studio to continue work on my painting!
Sunday, May 13, 2012
On this Mother's Day, I woke up to the smell of delicious waffles being prepared for me by Emma. My gifts were memoirs by Rosanne Cash and Diane Keaton and recipe books (no, I don't have enough yet) by Béatrice Peltre and Heidi Swanson. Chloé has also said she wants me to pick out a fish for my studio and she will pay for it. I'm going to get a betta. Meeko gave me Norah Jones' latest CD (very thoughtful of him).
For your Mother's Day enjoyment, here are some photos I took yesterday in the garden. I wish I could transfer their fragrance along with the images. The lilacs in particular smell so beautiful this week.
"No, and I really hate being blamed for what the other kids do."
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Then on Tuesday, a bus from my daughters' school was involved in a terrible accident. The 22-year-old car driver, who hit the bus head-on, died on impact. The school bus ended up in the ditch. It was not my daughters' bus, but one of Chloé's best friends was on it as well as many class- and schoolmates. Thankfully there were only minor injuries among the teenagers, but the moments of the accident were terrifying for them and afterwards they were subject to a gruesome accident scene that had more in common with a war-torn country than the quiet suburbs where we live. In the moments after impact, the teenagers on the bus and passersby reacted with speed and courage. Police and ambulances arrived quickly. Chloé's friend called her within minutes of arriving home to share what she had just lived through.
Yesterday was the funeral of my friend's mother and, oddly, that helped the week to end well. Chloé decided to come with me, as my friend is like family to us. Emma would have come if she hadn't had two tests that day.
After the funeral and reception, it seemed too late for Chloé to go back to school, so we went for a walk with Meeko instead.
The sun was shining. There were beautiful green leaves, flowers and butterflies. We took photos. We got down on our knees so that we could see the wild strawberry blossoms and wood violets better. We picked forget-me-nots. There were Red Admiral butterflies everywhere. One of them kept circling back to Chloé. Maybe there have been other days when we've walked and seen flowers and butterflies, but yesterday everything seemed more beautiful.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
|When we brought Meeko home, he was smaller than the phone book.|
|Meeko thinks that the stories of all of his puppy mischief are quite funny.|
great egrets. Just beautiful. Chloé and I both took photos.
|The second one is on the other side of the grasses (a bit to the left). It almost looks like a mirror image.|
|I hope they visit again. (This photo is by Chloé)|
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Monday, May 7, 2012
Last week, I receive some mail. Good mail. Really good mail.
Cindy Lane is a wonderful artist, amazing photographer and an art teacher. She lives in Perth, Australia.
I visited Australia many years ago. What an absolutely beautiful country. Sadly, I didn't get to Perth. We did visit Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Alice Springs, Cairns and Brisbane though. It was an amazing trip.
When I received my wonderful package from Australia, it felt good in so many ways. It was a beautiful gesture from a blogging friend and fellow artist. It was a collection of gorgeous natural objects from a country I love, not to mention that someone took the time to walk on a beach thinking about me. Pretty special.
This past week, I visited an art supply store--one of my happy places. I bought some new watercolour paper. I have almost always painted on 140 lb. cold press Arches paper. I have painted occasionally on Arches 300 lb. cold press paper, Saunders 140 lb. cold press and, most recently, on Saint-Armand handmade paper. Having Cindy's beautiful shells as inspiration allowed me to test out some of my new papers. Here are three quick little shell studies (ACEO size) on Arches 300 lb. hot pressed paper, Arches 140 lb. hot pressed paper and BFK Rives 280 gsm paper.
Most every happy story has a tragic underside (English major bias I guess). Well, here is the one that belongs to this one. When I was photographing Cindy's shells for my blog, I was juggling more than one thing. I had the camera around my neck. I had a blank stretched canvas propped at the side (and steadied with my knee) to reflect the light, as it was a dim day. I was using a tripod that was not quite at the right angle for my photo, so I was tipping it forward. As I was manipulating all of these things, the canvas slipped and fell. Do you ever have something happen in front of you and you feel that it is occurring in slow motion? This was. As it happened, I yelled 'Nooooooooooo' and it just might have been heard in Perth. When I lifted the fallen canvas, everything was fine except for the two beautiful sea urchins that were smashed into many pieces. I am not a gazelle but I have a pretty good track record for looking after delicate things. These lovely objects had made it across the world intact and within 24 hours I had broken some of them. I cannot tell you how terribly sorry I was. Tears may have been involved.
|My sea collection with two pieces from the smashed sea urchins at the top|