Seedlings and Growth

January 18th, 2017

I planted Hard-shelled Birdhouse Gourds (Cucurbita lagenaria) on November 6th. Four gourd plants emerged December 14th.

Gourds

Since I am still dealing with the squirrel and the weather has been cold and at times rainy, the plants are living in the bathroom. It is the room with the best daily light.

Gourds

The tendrils needed something to grasp onto so I attached some cotton twine to a wallpiece above the gourds. When the time comes for the plants to be moved to the garden, I can snip the twine and use it to attach the gourds to the garden fence.

Will the artist care that I am attaching something to their piece? Nope, it is one of my See a Penny… pieces.

Gourds


Western Peonies (Paeonia brownii) grow on the mountains on the California Central Coast. For some reason the plants are not readily available for purchase in the community nurseries.

I have attempted to grow them from collected seed, but never had success. That was until today. Well, apparently the plants were growing, but I did not realize the growth until this morning.

In early November I placed 10 seeds in a plastic bag with damp vermiculite. I also placed a few seeds in a pot of soil. The seeds in vermiculite have not shown any growth activity.

Peonies

Since I had not anticipated growth in the pot, I wasn’t paying attention. Unfortunately, the pot was in my studio, not very much light, so the seedlings are leggy. I moved the pot to a location with more light.


I found this little something in one of my garden beds in late December. Couldn’t identify it, thinking that it is probably a lily. I planted it.

Unknown Bulb

This is what it looks like today.

Unknown Plant


Squirrel Damage Update

January 18th, 2017

We still have not completed work on renovating our garden because we have at least one squirrel who has taken up residence.

Squirrel Hole

I could not move the tape further in. Not sure if the tunnel goes down or makes an abrupt turn. And the tape did not bump into the squirrel.

Squirrel Hole

The squirrel may not be using this hole. I suspect that the two holes are connected by an underground tunnel.

We attempted making a bird feeder that would prevent the squirrel access.

Squirrel in Birdfeeder


Work in Progress: Hawthorne

January 6th, 2017

One of the reasons I write about projects is to work through details and to have a record of choices and decisions.

I have been thinking about making a piece to hang over the fireplace in the family room/office for several years. Actually it is a bit of a funny story. During our house remodel that started in January of 2002, we removed the ugly shiny black tile that surrounded the fireplace. We had been living with concrete board, until last year when we finally installed tile.

The space above the fireplace is 68” wide and 64” high. I decided to make a piece that is roughly 36” wide and 58” high. The piece will be constructed of 522 embroidered hardware cloth squares (1.75″) that will be stitched together. Yep, quilt-ish.

As always as of late, I use coded messages or quotes. This piece will be a Nathaniel Hawthorne quote, Words – innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.

The code for the Hawthorne piece contains 190 dots, 162 dashes, and 170 spacers.

Hawthorne Layout

These are some stitches that I tried. After trying all of these different stitches, backgrounds, and yarn colors…

Multiple Squares

my favorite stitch is the one in the lower right corner… I selected three stitches to use and spent several hours stitching these for the dashes…

Stitched Squares

Decided I would soon regret my choice and not enjoy working on the piece. I will save them for a future project.

Had the idea, rather than perforating the background material (roofing felt and tree wrap), which can tear and sometimes the holes could be seen, I decided to use stitches that would wrap around the background material.

Pretty sure I will be using these unless I decide to switch the dot and dash background and yarn. Have time to think about it while I am making the spacer pieces.

Three Squares

Spacer (roofing felt and cream wool)
Dot (veneer with brown and cream wool)
Dash (tree wrap with brown yarn)

Also an interesting thing happened. I had planned to use the same background material for the dots and dashes. While I was looking for safety pins in my studio I ran across the veneer business cards that I purchased from Lee Valley. Thought they were cool and maybe they would come in handy in the future. Today apparently is that future day. The veneer can be cut with scissors, but a blade would be better to prevent splitting. I can cut two pieces from each card, definitely plenty for the project.

I like the idea of three different backgrounds to make the code a bit clearer. Currently planning to stitch the squares together with three strands of yarn, one of each being used.


Random Quote

January 6th, 2017

Quotes are randomly generated on the site and thought this one was fun.

Random

Emma, Nicky, and Luke


Growth Then and Now

January 5th, 2017

Mushroom

Wednesday

Mushroom

Thursday

Mushroom

Friday

Mushroom

Saturday After a Night of Rain

Mushroom

Detail


Happy New Year

January 1st, 2017

2017 January 1

We have one holiday tradition. Go to the beach on the first day of the new year. Often it is so warm, we are pealing off layers. Not today. It was overcast and chilly.
Weather

Screenshot from Weather.com

It was also high tide so it was necessary to stay close to the rocks. While I was waiting for the tide I noticed the juxtaposition of manmade rocks and naturally occurring rocks.

manmade rock

The left side is manmade and the right nature at its best.

On closer inspection I found areas where the manmade rock was eroded and the underlying rebar was as well.

rebar erosion

rebar erosion

I was able to find a single holey rock. Will it bring me good luck in 2017?

holey rock


Happy Holidays, Bob, and The Bird

December 22nd, 2016

Happy Holidays Bob


How I rescued the lovebird, who came to be known as Bob–

1. Opened upstairs bathroom window, removed screen, placed towel over window frame.
2. Placed The Bird, our cockatiel in his travel cage, placed cage in plain view in the bathroom.

The Bird

The Bird enjoying our tree. Yes, his name is The Bird.

3. Played a Youtube video of Lovebirds singing.

Then I waited.

The lovebird flew to the window and looked in. Then he flew back to the top of the birch. Then he perched on the window ledge. He would not come in the bathroom.

After a couple of hours, yes a couple of hours of him flying to the window and hovering, I had an idea. I turned on all of the lights in the room. Immediately he flew into the room and landed on our cockatiel’s travel cage. John was home by then, he closed the window. Success.

What did I learn? The towel on the window ledge was a good idea for the bird to grab onto and enter the room, but a really bad idea for closing the window. Patience is a good thing to have. The entire rescue took only 4 hours.

Why is his name Bob?
It took a long time to name him. We noticed he has a habit of bobbing up and down before flight and when he is attempting to escape from his room. The bobbing is funny, almost dance like. So, Bob he became.


The frames and text applied to the photos were an easy peasy couple of clicks in Snapseed.
The Snapseed app is on the App Store.


White Flowers, Roots, and the Squirrel

December 16th, 2016

This is one of the plants that survived being nearly totally consumed by a squirrel. I watched the squirrel sit in the pot, pull the plant stems over, and eat all of its leaves.

Mum

I popped the plant in the greenhouse until it leafed out and the buds of the tips bloomed. It has been blooming for several weeks.

Got to thinking that it would be a great plant to put in several locations in my gardens. Seems to need little care and not a lot of water.

I checked with the local greenhouses and online, but I could not find additional plants.

This little bit broke off, so I placed it in some water to wait for the bloom to fade.

Mum

The flower lasted nearly as long as the flowers still attached to the plant. This afternoon I notice that it looked a bit spent. When I removed the flower from the glass I was surprised to find root growth. Don’t know how I missed the roots when I changed its water.

Mum

I popped the plant in a pot of soil.

Mum

Then lopped off the flower.

Mum

Since the small broken bit rooted and I had planned to prune the plant, taking cuttings to make more plants is even better.

There is one problem. The squirrel still lives in the garden and loves the plant. He also loves lobelia, violas, and the greens I am growing for my bunnies.

Squirrel

We have postponed completing the garden renovation because every time I plant this area he digs it up. I have tried hellebores, columbines, cyclamen, bromeliads, and ferns.

This is one of his favorite locations in the garden for digging.
Squirrel Hole

After removing the plants and filling all of the holes we had two containers of soil and rock left. The rock is coming from the area around the foundation of the house. So, not a good thing.

Squirrel Rock and Soil

We keep filling his holes and he keeps digging them out. Hardware cloth and rocks do not seem to be a deterrent.

Filled Squirrel Hole

We really did not want to do it, but pretty sure we are going to dig up the entire area and prepare it properly. Digging it up will be made difficult with the root structure of the tree. We probably will find a maze of tunnels and an enormous stash of seeds.

We also tried putting a deterrent over the bird feeder. Did a test. Placed an inverted metal mesh basket over the ceramic tray we are using for offering bird seed. Weren’t sure if the birds would be afraid of it. They liked it fine and so did the squirrel.

Squirrel New Feeder

Since the test was a success, we attached the the basket to some cedar and hung it from the tree.

Squirrel Bird Feeder

The amount of seed on the ground has been greatly reduced since the squirrel isn’t able to lounge in the bird feeder and fling seed all over when he dashes away.

Squirrel Bird Feeder

This is the little guy attempting to hide from me in a drainage pipe at the corner of the courtyard. Unfortunately for him, his cheeks were too full. He had to empty them out so he could make his way safely into the pipe.

Squirrel Drainage Pipe
There is a little pile of seed in front of him.

Why haven’t we relocated him? In September we bought a humane trap. And it worked, the little squirrel wandered in. I talked to him. He stood up on his back feet, clasping one of his front paws in the other. He looked really scared. And it was a very hot day.

I had thoughts of him being relocated and there would not be a water supply, food, or a place for him to safely sleep. And what about hawks and snakes and other predators? I opened the trap and watched him run off. And he has been with us ever since.


Jefferson, Monticello, Notebooks, and Tools

December 14th, 2016

I am an obsessive note maker. A small notebook is in pocket or bag, always at the ready.

A Staedtler Lead Holder was my go to writing utensil, until last night. I am in the process of planning a wool, knitted and fulled wallpiece.

The problem with using lead is the possible disappearance over time. But it is easy to erase for changes.

Pencil and Eraser

One of the cool things about the Staedtler Lead Holder is the built in sharpener, which eliminates the need to carry another tool.

Pencil and Sharpener

There are two problems with a felt marker, not permanent and mistakes.

Marker

I stopped by target today and picked up a bottle of Bic Wite Out.

Bic Correction Fluid

It is so much nicer than the last bottle. No longer is the applicator a brush, it is a little sponge wedge that glides nicely.

Back to notebooks and note making. I was delighted to see reference to Thomas Jefferson and his pocket notebooks at this great book art site. It was a different time, but I am not keen on the material that was used for the pages. I do like the idea of reusable pages that you could write notes in pencil and erase when notes are transferred to sketchbook or journal.

Jefferson Ivory Books

According to the Monticello site, Jefferson carried a small ivory notebook on which he could write in pencil. Back in his Cabinet, or office, he later copied the information into any of seven books in which he kept records about his garden, farms, finances, and other concerns; he then erased the writing in the ivory notebook. The photo of the notebooks was taken by Edward Owen.

The Monticello site also included additional information about tools that he carried with him, Among his collection of pocket-sized devices were scales, drawing instruments, a thermometer, a surveying compass, a level, and even a globe.

Got to thinking about tools that I tend to carry with me. When I go hiking I always carry gloves, tool for digging, small cutters, bags for finds, a magnifier, a small flashlight, twine, and often a camera.

The Monticello site has loads of interesting facts and fun things for purchase. I am an avid gardener and have purchased seed from the site. My favorite seeds have been: Sunset Hibiscus (Abelmoschus manihot), Aquilegia Barlows, and the Fringed Pink (Dianthus superbus).

Every time I visit the site I look at the wheel cypher decoder. Maybe one day I will actually purchase it.

Jefferson Wheel Cypher Decoder


What is it? Sugar and Rodin Quotes

December 13th, 2016

“To the artist there is never anything ugly in nature.” Auguste Rodin

When I started to clean the oven after a baking mishap, I paused to look at what I scraped up.

Burnt Sugar

It is burnt sugar from an apple spice cake. At fist glance it looks black, nearly ash. On closer inspection it has a lovely texture of holes and craters.

Burnt Sugar

In the past I used sugar as a stiffener and in molds. There is a history of folks using sugar as a stiffener for crochet. I had been using microcrystalline wax, shellac, and varnish to stiffen and age my work. Wondered if sugar might work as a substitute.

Sugar Twine Vessel

This is my first test piece, made in 2006. It is constructed of cotton baker’s twine. I immersed the cotton vessel in molten raw sugar. The sugar impregnated twine collapsed. I wrung it out and place it over a foil covered coffee can taller than the vessel. Placed the lot on a plate to collect the sugar run off.

The piece is still strong and not in the least bit sticky. And no insect activity.

I also made a series of cast sugar vessels. I used several recipes for sugar glass. One recipe was 3 1/2 cups of raw sugar, 1 cup corn syrup, 2 cups of water, and 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar. I used a silicone mold for the casting.

Melting Sugar Cup

Clearly I did something wrong. Raw sugar rather than granulated. Possibly the thickness. Temperature.

But it was fun to watch the sugar cup melt.

Will I try it again? Sure. Will I have success? Maybe.

“Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” Auguste Rodin