Squirrels in the Garden

September 15th, 2016

If you are seeing plants eaten to the ground and holes in your gardens;

Squirrel Hole

and if squirrels are vacuuming up birdseed in and around your bird feeders;



you might have a squirrel problem. How do you solve the problem?

Past Squirrel Problem
We had a problem with squirrels several years ago when we lived in New Jersey. I naturalized the backyard with a variety of bulbs. It was fun to see the bulbs peak through snow and the buds begin to develop. Just as the buds were beginning to bloom, every one was bitten off and left next to its plant.

We talked to gardeners and folks at nurseries. We tried everything that they suggested. Eventually we gave up and accepted we would not see hundreds of flowers blooming in our yard.

Now we have at least five squirrels living in and around our gardens. I will admit they are fun to watch. They run up and down the wisteria that covers our deck, stopping for a taste of a Norfolk pine. I watched as a squirrel sat in a pot of mums eating every leaf. That may sound strange to watch, but it is amazing how they use their wee paws, to see their dexterity.

We decided that we must relocate the squirrels. We tried this trap, but the squirrels could snag the bait and run out. And a larger trap can capture larger animals. We forgot to close the trap one night and found this critter–


We purchased a smaller humane trap and again forgot to close it one night. And found this critter–

opossum in Trap

opossum in Tree

After we released the opossum it ran up the bottle brush and eventually disappeared.

What have I learned? When you make gardens that are woodland-like they are inviting for all kinds of critters. Also the drought conditions have forced critters to find food and water for survival and we offer that in our gardens.

Perhaps one day we will be free of squirrels. Actually that is rather interesting. We live in an area where you just don’t see squirrels. Ground squirrels typically are seen in the surrounding fields and on and around the mountains. But in the our neighborhood it is rare to see them. The 20 plus years we have lived in SLO we have seen two squirrels in our neighborhood. Five squirrels, together is definitely unusual.

Bunny Ornament with a Purpose

September 14th, 2016

Bunny Ornaments

50th Birthday Gift for Tim

August 26th, 2016

This is the 50th birthday piece I made for a friend from grad school.

I used cream wool to loom knit the band, 51 pennies (1966-2016), and fiber for binding and code.

Tim 50th Birthday Piece

50th Birthday Piece for Tim

Tim 50th Birthday Piece Untied

Birthday Piece Untied

Tim Birthday Piece Bound

Bound Pennies 1966-2016. Each Penny is bound as part of code for Tim’s Name.
Dashes-Yellow, Dots-Green, Spacers-Orange.

1966 Penny

1968, 1967, 1966 Pennies

2016 Penny

2016 Penny


Top tie code is 09091966 and 09092016. Bottom tie code is Happy Birthday.
Dots knots are rust yarn, Dashes knots are green yarn, and spacers are cream.

Triangle Pattern

Loom Knit Pattern

Garden Damage and Critters

August 26th, 2016

Every morning this summer the gardens have been damaged. Loads of digging.

Flower Damage

Digging in flower pots.

Four squirrels have moved in.The squirrels have eaten my potted plants, vegetables, and herbs.

Plant Damage

This was a pot of parsley, clover, and chard for my house bunnies.

Missing Bean Plants

Where are the bean plants?

One squirrel sat on a wisteria branch and ate the top of my Norfolk pine.

Are they the ones digging up plants and the patio?

Skunk Damage

We decided that the squirrels needed to be relocated. We set up a humane trap. Placed a cracker with peanut butter inside and waited.

I heard the trap snap close. What did we find? The cracker gone and the trap empty.

Two of the squirrels are quite small, so it could have been one of them.

We put another cracher spread with peanut butter in the trap. Nothing happened.

Last night we forgot to close the trap.

And this morning we found this–

Skunk in Trap

Yep, that is black fur with a white stripe.

We are fortunate to live in a city that has an animal control service. They came and removed the skunk.

What did we learn? The trap is too large for a squirrel. And if we use the trap again, close it or remove it at night.

Beyond the Pale

August 10th, 2016

Recently the expression, “beyond the pale” has been used numerous times in reference to numerous things said by the republican presidential candidate. Yes that is numerous and numerous.

I knew what “beyond the pale” meant in the context, but did not know the origin.

Of course I did a google search. I found this great site, The Phrase Finder.

According to the site, beyond the pale is defined as the following:

This ‘pale’ is the noun meaning ‘a stake or pointed piece of wood’, a meaning now virtually obsolete except as used in this phrase, but still in use in the associated words ‘paling’ (as in paling fence) and ‘impale’ (as in Dracula movies).

The space within the paling fence was safe. Beyond the pale, not so much. Unless, protection becomes a trap.

I do like sharp and pointy things, so I am delighted with the definition. Several years ago I made the series Tools for Rent. It consisted of 11 bronze daggers, each bound into a cedar box.

Tools For Rent Dagger 2

The Phrase Finder is a truly fun site to find meanings and origins of phrases you may be using and to find phrases you might like to add to your future conversations.

Pale is also a homophone (pail), so that could have possibly lead to some confusion. Loads of words when heard can be confused for other words.

A few confusion words in the previous paragraph:
so (sew)
Some (sum)
heard (herd)
for (four)

I will end with this quote from The Phrase Finder site bulletin:

The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones.

From Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Lichens and Glazes

July 4th, 2016

When my chosen medium was clay, I used a lot of layered, often gritty glazes. In the back of my mind always thinking lichens.

Today when I was sweeping the deck, to my delight I found this piece has actual lichens growing on the surface.

Sculpture on Deck

Sculpture on Deck with Lichens

The piece was made in a class at Ohio State in the early 80s. The clay is a buff colored sculpture body with some nice aggregate. The piece was bisque fired to cone 5. A cone 05 lithium blue glaze was applied for the base color. Then low-fire lead glazes were applied. The last fired to cone 015.

The piece has been on the deck since 1994. It looks so much better with the addition of lichens.

Sculpture on Deck with Lichens

If interested in viewing lichen glaze surfaces, check out Lana Wilson’s work. Lana’s text, Ceramics: Shape and Surface has some great information for the beginner; and it also has loads of information on how to achieve gorgeous glaze surfaces. The text is available on Lana’s website.

A note about my use of lead glazes. Yes, they are gorgeous low-fire glazes. But lead is potentially dangerous. I haven’t been used lead glazes for several years. Since I have been attempting to use safer materials and processes, I reluctantly decided to remove all potentially toxic ceramic materials from my studio. I had quite the stash. I was fortunate that during the yearly clean-up, the materials were accepted for disposable without cost.

Did I really remove all of the lead from my studio? Well, I did keep a small bag of a leaded frit, just in case. I also found a small sheet of lead that I kept. It is a lovely soft material. I used it to line and wrap portions of boxes.

Lead Detail

Detail of a piece in my Make Your Own Luck series.
The vertical section is wrapped in sheet lead.
The nest-like material is lead wool.
The three objects are whole nutmeg.
Nutmeg was used for luck.
If consumed it could be deadly.

Brachychiton Seedlings

June 21st, 2016


Fungi Colony

June 15th, 2016

Fungi Colony

Fungi Detail

Brachychiton Seedlings

June 15th, 2016

Brachychiton Seedlings

Brachychiton Seedlings A Week Later

Work in Progress: A Small Link to the Past

June 10th, 2016

I was in the process of making a piece with grass that would have the coded message, A Small Link With the Past. As a test, I bound some grass to a piece of hardware cloth. The grass was a bit prickly, but I quite liked it.

Grass Piece

The plan was to bind grass to hardware cloth to make 3 pattern blocks…

Blocks for Pattern

then bind the blocks together to make a pattern.


The pattern with the code will have 117 blocks, 81 will have the addition of a code component in the center square.

When I decided to use the 1/4″ hardware cloth the grass did not work. Instead, I am using Tecoma stans pods that have been soaked in a solution of glycerin and water.

Tecoma sans Pods

I wrote a post about collecting the Tecoma stans pods 12 November 2015.

Cream wool yarn will be used to complete the blocks.

Link Blocks

I just noticed when I shot the photo of the blocks, the one with the cream wool center should have been rotated for the stitch work to be vertical.

Unfortunately, making blocks in low light while listening to political news resulted in several mistakes. In order for the pattern to work properly, the grain of the pod must be bound vertically.

The right block works, the left one does not.

Link Block Mistake

The dozen that I consistently stitched incorrectly can be used for a different project. It will be easier, and less time consuming to replace the mistakes than to take them apart and rework them.

There is another issue with changing from grass to Tecoma sans pods. Grass fits with the idea of linking to the past, a childhood memory. Tecoma sans pods does not.

So, how will the pattern work as a connection to memory, or a link to the past? The pattern with the code will be a portion of the piece. Grass, hardware cloth, and wool will be woven together, most likely with the word memory in code, and the pattern with code will be bound to it. That is the current plan, but things can change during the process.