Friday, May 28, 2021

Outta the yard, into the house

The other day I got stopped for speeding. 
The nice policeman (what a hunk) asked me when I had my last speeding ticket. Um...42 years ago in Illinois. So it's not like I'm an incorrigible criminal. 
"Where was I going?"
To my sister's house. 
"Is it on fire?"
(ain't  he funny?)
So he asked what I do for a living...I wanted to say race car driver, but held my tongue. Instead I said,
"Retired, I'm an artist".
And I felt like I was lying on the stand. Oowhee. 
When was the last time I made art? Well, that painted board I made for my BFF Patsy's birthday, but that was like one thing in six months or more.
It ate at me for days that I lied. 
I didn't get the ticket just a warning...caught driving a red sports car. Hmmm.
OK so I mentioned to my sister that I noticed some old work of mine on Pinterest (how nice that they remind me daily what I  used to be doing with my time and talents) and it got to me, a little bit, like a mosquito bite. 
When I think about going into my studio, I walk in and turn right around. It's just too dark and uninviting. The big windows face west and don't allow much light in until the late afternoon, right around nap time, when I don't want to be creating anything but sweet dreams. 

And then in my sister's studio I noticed her windows face east and she gets flooded with morning sun. 
So bright and inviting.  Aha! I have a space just like that. The dining room! 
Whamo...I began imagining how I would use that space and then started moving out furniture and moving in other stuff. Putting the ironing mat back on that table and raising it up on bed risers, dragging in my thread caddy, my fused fabrics on that shelf system meant for shoes, and a table from our entry way to hold stuff like tools and measuring thingies, and pretty soon I had a bright happy creating place. 

The sewing machine woulda-coulda been coated with dust from disuse, but it sat inside a closet, untouched since we moved in last September. Now I have wheeled it out (everything on wheels, O if were only so) and found a nice spot for it, considering feng shui for the whole arrangement.  Then I placed my teeny design wall on the space adjacent and pinned up my initial efforts of a new knitted scarf pattern. (Looks like a fancy jock strap, no?)

The bookcase was full of books that got switched out for my wood panels, so I am ready to make new stuff that will eventually get mounted on those.  Some similarly sized art work is also on the shelves to remind me what I used to make...and a few bins of fused scraps which will help get me started. Under that red table is a lime green bin of batting, cut down to workable sizes, also facilitating new work. 
 So you ask, Where will we eat since I commandeered the dining room? ha! 

The front porch, the screen porch, the kitchen table. Not a problem. For formal dinners...what, like Thanksgiving?, I can easily return the dining table to normal height, wheel out the sewing machine and thread cart, and it is good to go. 
Ok, we likey.
Now in the old studio, I suddenly have an empty closet, for like 10 seconds and moved my bins of yarn (most of it anyway) into the closet and out from under my bed where it shared the space with blobs of doggie  hair. Wow. I gotta vacuum.
It is supposed to rain today and I pray it does since it has been two or more weeks or dryness, meaning I have to water daily. But the flowers are doing great. Here's some views.

These lilies came with the house. Nice huh?

Monday, May 24, 2021

So Happy

 It's so wonderful to have this project come to life and to (finally) really be able enjoy it. There were a few moments when doubt creeped in that I had made the right choice but now that it is finished, I am certain it was the perfect solution for us. 
 As soon as I could I got the compost in and began to install the plants. It took most of one day, but it is my favorite part of gardening so I took my time and enjoyed the process. The planter is 12x16"deep but the trim leaves the opening only about 9-10 inches visible. I can actually sit on the that edge if I wanted to, but also can reach the whole bed from the yard side since it is the perfect height. 

 The plants have been in over a week, but I just held off my 'big reveal' until I felt everything had settled in nicely. Plus I had to wait until the workers removed all the debris, the cement mixer and wheelbarrow, and had laid the new sidewalk, which took two tries to get it right. For about 10 days we had no step down or concrete pad to walk on and it was dangerous to exit out the front. I jeri-rigged a gate to keep the dogs in, and had a step stool for access. Not good. 


And then it was decisions about phase two...what shall I put in the yard to complete this landscaping? My sister volunteered her pickup and we went to Lowe's and as luck would have it, I found several shrubs that fit the bill. Note: I have been 'at school' on Youtube watching a great bunch of videos from Garden Answer which have been a vital teaching tool for me. The host, Laura, led me down the garden path so to speak and I was confident on what to buy from all that was available. I now pay close attention to height and width, what color I can expect over the seasons and whether the plant can be planted in full sun, shade or a combination. I get all excited over things like being drought tolerant. ha!

 I was lucky to find three ninebark on half price, and then two ball 
arborvitae and a big Autumn Blaze Maple tree (full price, darn). You can see the maple tree tucked into the front entrance, to prevent it from falling over in the yard due to high winds. I will be consulting with Audelio my landscape guy about where he is going to place all these shrubs, which in the meantime have had a Little Lime hydrangea and a Black Lace Elderberry, and three red hibiscus added to the mix.

Now for the best part. Neighbors drive by and crane their necks to look, and some even yell out "looks great!" The dog walkers and joggers also must comment and that was my goal, to be a part of the neighborhood and meet people here. One gal (also formerly from Chicago) told me that the previous owner had beds of flowers in the front yard and that solved one mystery for me. I was afraid she had planted trees which may have died and that I would be finding it difficult to keep things going there too. But I was so happy to find out I was wrong. Then my neighbor two doors down (whose garden I covet)  came over to see the deck and we will be getting together to talk gardening in the future. So happy!
I am still waiting to have my hose reel installed, despite multiple promises from the contractor. Sigh. It's always something.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Delay and Learning Patience

 The deck project sat undisturbed for 10 days while the contractor tried to amend his mistake of ordering me BROWN decking when I specifically asked for gray. Light gray actually. This is dark gray and the expensive brand, Trex, which was also not what we had decided on. Plus when he finally found a supplier of the gray stuff, it was in Knoxville and had to be trucked down here, for an additional expense. Then it sat in my yard for three days, while I waited for a call or email or anything to tell me when they would get it installed.
I know I mustn't grumble, and things could be worse. At least I have hot water. Wha? Well, my sister had a bad week, because her septic system overflowed into the lower level of her house where my niece resides. So they had to call in a guy to dig down and flush out the tank, which was done after calling the gas company to insure that the gas line wouldn't be disturbed. The gas line was then disturbed by the digger. That was last week, May 5th and she has been without hot water or stove use, showering at the sports club across town, no laundry, etc.  Still no relief, 8 days later. 
So as I said, I mustn't grumble.

 Here's the partially filled planter box. It is lined with a rubber liner, which I perforated and then covered the holes with coffee filters, to allow water to drain but to keep the soil in the box. Worked great. I will be adding more soil, actually mushroom compost as soon as the deck is done. Planting comes immediately afterwards. 

 I took these photos early this morning and the floor is now finished and the clading of the planter is half done. It will all be completed today...God willing.

 That hose is the thing I am so excited about having. It is connected to a retractable hose reel, which will be mounted on the front of the house, making it easy to water everything in the planters and across the driveway in the peony bed, which holds a zillion other plants, both perennial and annual.

So before everthing is done, I walked around to get the feel of the space. It is bigger than I thought. Which is good. But it is also so exposed. I don't think this will be conducive to Dave wanting to be out there. But I have a plan.
I will put really large flower pots on the deck 'planted' with trees or bushes inside, to act as a screen or simulated enclosure. These will eventually go in the yard, once that landscaping is decided. The pots have been borrowed, just this morning, from my sister, and are that light weight resin, that looks like concrete but weighs almost nothing. Dave likes the idea, and will paint these pots which have seen better days (white paint which we had in the garage already.)  I'll do a before and after, once I decide which and how many of them I will use.
One project after another. It keeps me alive!

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Art From Scraps

May the 4th (be with you) is my BFF Patsy's 70th birthday and I wanted to make a big deal for her, but what kind of present should I give to celebrate? She and I both have too much stuff, but I must do something I made this THING. I told her it was a bookmark, or a coaster, or if placed on the ground it could be a trip hazard. Something we all need.  In actuality, it is a big piece of scrap wood from my deck construction. 2"x12"x I forgot to measure. 
It has six sides that I could paint and it is free standing, as any good doorstop ought to be.
But first, I needed to dry it out, as it has been rainy, rainy, rainy (thank God for the wonderful rain, sez my garden). So I baked it in the oven for two hours. Yeah. 
Then I scraped it as smooth as possible and layered on the modeling paste, which smoothed it out further but also added some 'artistic' texture. Then find my paints and paint the background color on the whole block. I let that dry overnight.
I have not been in my studio very much since we moved, mostly because I have been focusing on knitting, but also because the lighting is terrible.  Not conducive for creating. But nevermind, I wasn't doing any painting or sewing or anything else creative til this project came along. I had ordered new paint pens and new white gel pens, which never got used and this was just the thing to try them out on. I have oodles of tube acrylics, safely stored in a drawer, which managed to almost dry out from lack of use. Ooops. But my more liquid craft paint was still good, so all was not lost. I located my container of pens, another of brushes, and another of stamps. But first the sequin waste and sponge stampers. 
This is where the brain let's go and the fun begins. Stamping and stenciling and drawing and dotting and more drawing and wiping off the goofs, and just playing. I used my hair dryer to make sure nothing got smudged, and so I could add the next layer of detail.

And then to add the significant birthday greeting and my signature.
Here are the super wonderful paint pens and white ink pens. 


Saturday, May 1, 2021

Flowers for the new porch planters

 Zinnias! Magellan and Swizzle. For the last several years I have been shopping for plants at the big box stores, and Walmart, and occasionally online, for special items not found locally. But now I have found the perfect place about 15 minutes from my new house that sells plants and produce at great prices and I took advantage yesterday with this selection.  The variety here don't grow very tall, but do fill out in a nice clump which I really will need with the large planters that are underway.
 In this flat are the best all around zinnias in my humble opinion. Profusion is the variety and they ain't kiddin'. Each one of these little plants will grow 18" tall and 24" wide, if I space them properly. That will be hard, as in the beginning it will look kinda sparse, but I must be determined, and give these little plants what they need to succeed.
Then, new for me this year are angelonia, and Vista Bordeaux petunia ($5 a pot!!) which were hightly touted on Garden Answer on Youtube. I am excited to see how well they perform for me. They will be a contrast to the oranges and yellows of the zinnias. I was gonna have a color theme, but forgot all about it when faced with trays of gorgeous blooms like these. The Vista Bordeaux petunia is a huge bloomer, and will also need a lot of space. 
I also have a bunch of Easy Wave red petunias, because red was missing from the mix. They are a really deep velvety red and should spread like any other Wave variety. 
 A true stalwart for me in the past has been begonias. I especially love these with the pink edge on the leaf. They always grow well, even in bright sun. So I have plenty! Next to them are a bag of peppers, Big Bertha and Poblano, (for the veggie bed of course) and behind them another strong grower is blue bedder salvia, Rhea variety. They are usually perennial for me, and are BLUE, so what's not to like. Just in bud stage so far, but I can expect blooms well in to fall.

And I finally got the opportunity to try out the new white marigold. So excited to see how well they do. Sort of creamy colored, but close enough to white to call it that.
 More hosta and Black and Blue Salvia. I have deep love for both of these plants. And the Salvia family is the best. So many wonderful varieties and this one is A-Mazing! It is a perennial and has black stems and royal blue flowers and grows 30-40 inches tall so it will go in the ground not the planter. In fact I may go back and get more. I have seen hedges of these plants in bloom and as I drove by I slammed on the brakes to get a better look. 
So here is the progress from yesterday. I can stand in front of the deck and the planter is chest high. Perfect!
And this box is mostly in the shade, which means space for my beloved shade plants. Yay!