Wednesday, March 30, 2022

last class and some yard work

The last watercolor class was yesterday and we finished our last painting.

Jade finished hers too, the one she did on my second background,

and then she worked on the background she did last week, no boat.

I like Jade's work better than mine, she's so bold with her color. She did a really great job, has never had art lessons. She did some really wonderful drawings with an app on my tablet when she was a young teen but somehow I screwed up and lost access to her album years ago, well, all the albums in the app including mine.

Gay suggested I take a 3 day watercolor workshop with a guy in Rockport, 2 1/2 hour drive from here, that she also takes workshops with. It's in mid-April. So, we'll see but probably not. I just looked at the info and the 3 page supply list of which I have two items, a mechanical pencil and an eraser. The class fee is reasonable but it would cost me hundreds of dollars to amass what's on that list. I'll just practice a little more with my cheap paints, cheap paper, and cheap brushes.

In the meantime, I need to do some sketches for a new box. For lack of any other inspiration I'm tending toward Ode to the Bee or Ode to Spring or maybe a butterfly or another bird but nothing so elaborate or large as the heron box. I've done 12 boxes in all which is usually when I quit a series and move on.

As you can see I'm sort of at a loss so maybe if I just start sketching something will happen. It's overcast and rainy today so I shouldn't have any distractions like the yard (so of course the rain stopped and it completely cleared up but still wet out).

And speaking of the yard, I finally got out there and did some stuff this past weekend. Saturday I bought four tomato plants at the Co-Op and some pole bean seeds, mixed up my dirt and got the tomatoes planted in pots, potted the begonia and morning glory bush rooted cuttings, watered stuff, killed some fire ants, pulled more weeds and hay grass, and Monday I started weeding the day lily bed to clear an area for zinnias. Still need to get my bean seeds in and I think maybe I'll plant some potatoes too. I have a big tub that would work great for potatoes but first I have to cut drain holes in it and I have moonflower and heavenly blue morning glory seeds to plant. I soaked them overnight and already they are sending out little root tips and in two cases, first leaves emerged. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

the littles in the yard

Back when we bought this place in 2007, the big backyard was a thick lush carpet of grass all the way to the back of the property and then a year or so before Harvey in 2017, it started dying; one patch here, another patch there, whatever was killing it moved around until most of the grass was dead or dying and then Harvey flood came and filled it with weed and hay grass seeds. Not all the grass died and we made no effort to save it, it struggles but it will never regain its former glory mainly because we don't waste water or chemicals on grass and so it looks like it does now...unmowed and unkempt. 

It looks this way because it
is unmowed and unkempt. Oh, it will get mowed and trimmed but not 'til after the spring wildflowers have all gone by. Standing at the edge of the yard looking back at the house it looks like an ignored field but if you stroll through it and look down you will see that it's full of flowers besides the cleaver, chickweed, plantain, hay grass, clover, and other weeds.

woodland violets

baby blue eyes

yellow wood sorrel

pink oxylis



wild onion

purple vetch

wild ranunculus

10 petal anemone in all its variations of color

the first of the evening primrose

the woodland lilies (not wild or a native but invasive)


and even a stray bluebonnet

The anemones, henbit, and violets are about done; the baby blue eyes, evening primrose, ranunculus, and fleabane just starting up; the clasping leaved coneflower are growing but not blooming yet.

The reason we don't mow during spring is because bees and other pollinators depend on these small wild flowers, their earliest sources of food, until the tamer varieties of flowers start to bloom.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

roof woes and watercolors

Woke up Monday morning to intermittent light rain and wet and wind. Checked the roof repair over at the shop and the same spots were wet and not just a spot but a stretch of 5 or 6 feet. Damn damn damn.

Monday night, or rather, early Tuesday morning the predicted storm came through...lightning, thunder, high winds, tornadoes (but not here); rained enough to have water standing on the side of the house. The dog is becoming a little more tolerant of rain but this storm finally got her trembling and panting and restless. It's the restless part that is the most annoying, she's never still for more than ten seconds. Because she is keeping me awake.

It was really over by 8 AM and breaking up to a clear sky by 8:30 or so. But it was Tuesday and I had to leave by 8:20 to pick up Robin to get her to work by 9. Then make my breakfast, go to the watercolor class, go from the class to the grocery store to do the week's shopping, come home and unload and finally walk over to the shop to see how wet the space above the studio room was that we have been trying to find and fix the leak(s). Since it had been definitely wet when I checked it Monday after the little bit of rain, I was shocked to find it barely damp up there. Yes it was a blue sky sunny day and it had been about 5 hours since the rain had stopped but surely it hadn't been long enough for it to dry out. So now we wait for another rain and another check. So weird that a light rain leaked through but a hard rain didn't seem to have.

I've worked on the male bird and I think I'm done with him but I made a small change to the female bird as her posture has been bothering me so I changed the angle of the tail and the position of her feet. Now all I have to do is the background. I took the painting with me to the class to show Gay and she thinks it doesn't really need a background, that the white makes the birds, female and male white browed tit-warblers, really pop out and, to her, it looks finished. So now I don't know. I'd hate to try the background (which I envisioned as very pale blue fading out to the edges) and do a bad job of it and ruin the work I've done especially since there are so many small areas in and around the flowers and leaves so I've decided to put it aside for now and start on something else. Here's my finished(?) painting.

I did make the small addition of more greenery next to the cabin on this one and it's now finished and signed.

Yesterday in class we did the next step on our current painting. Last week we did the washes of sunset sky and water, you might remember I did two and forgot to take pictures. This is the one I didn't work on yesterday.

This week we added the clouds, the land mass on the horizon, and the shadows in the water.

This week, Jade went with me to the watercolor class. First she did the color washes with very little instruction from me and while that was drying she worked on the second one of mine. She did a pretty good job considering this is her first time to do watercolors. I'd show you her work but I didn't take a picture and she didn't save the one she took.

I just got off the phone with my one gallery owner. She's giving me an early warning for the anniversary show next October because she really wants a box. She was supposed to get the Heron box for a show but I sold it unexpectedly the very first day I showed it two years ago at our last open house. I thought I was done with the boxes except for maybe a small round one and I don't really have any ideas so I guess I better start looking around for some inspiration.


Sunday, March 20, 2022

good news, bad news

The bad news is that the warning lights on the car came on again Saturday. Tried tightening the gas cap, didn't work. Bought a new gas cap, didn't work. Lights still on so I guess I'll be taking it back to the local mechanic for her magic touch or repair, whichever works.

The good news is the roof repair seems to have resisted the 1/2” or so of rain we got Thursday night but then that might not have been enough so I'll still wait til after a big rain before replacing the sheetrock in the ceiling of the studio.

The good news is that yesterday I finished laying out the sandstone and a couple of concrete slabs for the path along the side of the house so that's done. Before I started on the path I made a puddle of water and stood in it and then walked away leaving wet footprints which I then measured from center to center to determine the spacing for the slabs. I admit I set the stones to my stride which as it turns out is 24” - 26”.

And I moved the foo dog, which has been tucked up next to the house, over by the side steps to the deck. Not sure if that's where he will stay but that fucker is solid concrete and heavy.

When we lived in the city, he sat by the door to the garage converted studio. We would tell people to watch out for the foo dog, he bites. If you inadvertently bumped into him, you only did it once.

The bad news is that today my back and legs are reminding me what I did yesterday.

The bad news is my small amaryllis, what my mother called St. Joseph's lilies, are having a hard time of it this spring. Twice now they have put up buds or newly opened flowers only to have a freeze that turned them to mush.

The good news is the big glamorous amaryllis are just now coming out with buds.

The bad news is I finally had to bring the house shaped bird feeder in for good. I looked up the other day to see one squirrel on the feeder eating as fast as it could with two more waiting in the little tree it hangs from for their turn as if it was a chow line for the homeless.

The good news is they continue to try and get at the seed in the cylindrical bird feeder to no avail.

The good news is spring is finally, solidly here.

My native peach tree at the back corner of the property. It has never bloomed this profusely in the 14 years we've had this place.

The woodland lilies that hadn't sent up bloom stalks before the freeze are blooming now.

My azaleas are blooming sparsely, still recovering from the deep freeze from last winter, but they are putting on a lot of new growth of which I'm glad because late summer last year they suddenly just dropped all their leaves.

Small Chinese fringe flower tree in bloom.

Baby blue eyes coming into bloom.

Friday, March 18, 2022

another busy week

I don't know if I just don't have anything interesting to write about or I'm just too damn busy these days.

Tuesday we started a new landscape in the watercolor class, a sunset reflecting on water which will have a sailboat and a line of vegetation when done. All we did was the sky and water, very loosely done with washes. This is Gay's example to follow. I wasn't happy with my first attempt so I tried it again and now I have two to choose from next week. Sorry, apparently I didn't take a picture of either of mine.

I did take my painting to class Tuesday to show Gay my progress and she was very complimentary, made a few suggestions for the female bird which I attended to. So here's my progress on that. Now to do the male bird and then the background.

Wednesday I moved all the plants back out of the garage and the house and got the small plants set up on the etageres by the back door and finally found the little frog I'd been hearing off and on and it turns out there were two little frogs hiding amongst the plants and they were both still alive. 

Then I moved the truck and swept off the concrete apron and brought Jade's rug over from the shop to roll out to vacuum it. It's a big rug, 8' x 10' or so, and it needs to be seriously cleaned but first it had to be thoroughly vacuumed to get as much of the dirt and dog hair and people hair off as possible.

While I was doing that Rocky came by to let me know he would be here Thursday to see if we could finally find and fix the leak in the roof/wall of the shop/studio and fix it. You might remember several months ago I climbed up the ladder in the studio with a can of FlexSeal paste to plug up the holes we could see and I did a fair job but some water was still getting in when it rained. 

I decided the sheet metal panels of the overhang needed to come off where the leak was so we could get a better look at where the roof of the shop met the wall from the outside and hopefully find where the water was getting in.

I had bought a tube of F/S paste for a caulk gun and after he removed 5 of the overhang panels outside, he climbed up on the inside and used all of that plus 2 cans of F/S spray on top of what I had applied previously and then he climbed back up on the overhang and he called out to me to look. There was a crack where the caulk was oozing out from the inside and so we're pretty sure that was the culprit. Even so, he got a strip of metal flashing which he jammed up under the edge of the shop roof panels and then replaced the overhang panels under the flashing and then screwed the flashing down onto the overhang panels so that rain runs off the roof onto the flashing and then onto and off the overhang. So now we wait for a good rain to see if we (ha, he) was successful. While he and his helper were doing all that, I was cutting back winter damaged plants over there.

Because of all that, I didn't go to SHARE but they weren't open to the public as they had some repair work done on the building on the inside and it was a day to move everything back where it belongs and we'll open to the public next week.

And on top of all this, when I left to get Robin yesterday morning and take her to work, the check engine warning light came on and then the fishtailing car warning light came on. I got my sister to follow me to one of the local mechanics where the woman who runs the place is so abrupt she borders on rude and told me they couldn't work on my car til next week but she would look at it and see what the problem might be. So she plugged her little computer diagnostic device in somewhere under the dash and told me that the engine was running rich and was my gas cap on tight. I shrugged, popped the little door and turned the gas cap another couple of clicks and both lights went out. She may be rude but she didn't charge me anything whereas if we had taken it to a dealer they'd have probably charged me $100 for the same.

Well, I guess I do have plenty to say, though I'm not sure how interesting it is, so it must be I just haven't had the time.


Monday, March 14, 2022

miscellanea with pictures...mostly

We made it through the last of the really cold nights and days. I hope. Not that we made it through but that it was the last til next winter. 
We went from shivering to sweating in two days. Now to start hauling all the plants back out. This nun orchid was backlit yesterday evening.

I used those cold days to work on my watercolor. I added in the branches and then spent over an hour redrawing the birds because I saw a picture of a white browed tit-warbler and thought a male and a female would go well in the painting instead of the crazy colored birds in the picture I'm emulating. They're still not proportioned exactly but they'll do. I started on the female first but she needs more work, loosening up, adding more pigment.

This front rolling in from the east southeast was supposed to give us some rain last night. It didn't.

Minnie has a new spot.

How pathetic are we in this country? The label on this jar of peanut butter says the product is peanut butter, the ingredients are dry roasted peanuts and yet they still feel compelled to tell us that this product contains peanuts, in a kartouche no less. Do you think people will understand that there are peanuts in peanut butter?

I caught mouse number 6 last night. I'll spare you a picture.

I found this beat up post-it note with masking tape top and bottom on the driveway up by the barn this morning where it got blown by the wind. We have no idea what it's from or what that number relates to.

Friday, March 11, 2022

another freeze and flowers of one kind or another

Exactly a week after I hauled all the plumerias and the other cold sensitive plants out of the garage and house, I hauled them all back in. The last freeze was supposed to be the last one until it wasn't, just as everything finally started to bud out. Tonight and tomorrow night it's supposed to get below freezing, varying predictions have ranged from 27˚ to 31˚ so I've also covered the porterweed and the yellow angel trumpet, both of which have new growth sprouting.

But during those few warm days the woodland violets just exploded and this is just one small part of the yard! Can you see all those little dots of lavender?

Here's a close up.

My daffodils finally started blooming and I picked some of the pansies and brought them inside.

It's been a busy week. Mostly ferrying Robin to work every morning as well as my usual shopping, cooking dinner on my appointed nights, my volunteer day, etc. I'd have added the watercolor class but we didn't have it this week as Gay canceled but we're on for next week. Speaking of, she asked me if I wanted some homework last week and showed me two pictures to choose from to try and paint. I selected one with two birds and branches and flowers.

It's very loose in its rendering but has enough drawing to suit me. I finally sketched it out last Sunday and started on the painting this week. This is my first attempt at a painting on my own. My progress so far:

The only other thing worth noting is I led the yoga class again on Monday and I'm still chasing the squirrels off the bird feeder. There's one little female which I'm sure she's already pregnant so I generally just let her eat.

Last night's sky.