Garden Journal 2019: Week 3

Weather has been gloomy – rainy, chilly, windy – with the occaisional interval of sunshine, just to tease. Actually finding it chilly in the office, which is not the norm where I sit, and cold at home too because Cory has the heat pump set to arctic. Ah well; that is why I own so many blankets and sweaters, yes?

This time last year, I was pretty much spending my after work time and a good portion of my weekends out in the yard, even if it was chilly. If it wasn’t pouring, I was out patrolling to keep Isabelle in the yard. While I semi-regret that I am not getting as much outdoors-time, and things done in the yard….It is nice to do indoor things, and be warm and dry.

Spring still seems to be coming along slowly this year. It will come…It usually seems to be that I am waiting, and waiting, and waiting….And then suddenly everything is green. Looking forward to that.

So, out in my little greenhouse, things are not too much different…

Asian greens and lettuce

 

Some cucumbers, bunching onions and one brave tomato sprout

 

In the yard, lily of the valley are starting to poke up out of the ground. I have crocus leaves, but still no flowers (and it’s been a few weeks). Forsythia are starting to bloom, lilacs still slowly working on putting out leaves

Inside, my tomato sprouts are starting to look like tomato plants. Pepper plants just starting to come up. Bunching onions looking scraggly, so I tried trimming a few to see what will happen.

Friday, May 18

 

Long weekend! Yay! Always good to have an extra day off. Weekends are never quite long enough to accomplish the things that need to be done, and hopefully feel a bit more rested. This weekend has been good.

This week I only got 4 of the daily sketches done. I want to do it, but it takes a lot of time. Some days it is hard to fit it in. And today, I decided I wanted to work on something different that I’ve had in mind. This was my favourite from this week though

Last night we went out to a rum tasting with some friends. We had a fun time, but I found myself sitting there wishing it was whisky. Ah well. Our favourite of the night was actually one that we’ve bought a few times before; in fact, today I noticed that we have a bottle on our shelf.

I had a bunch of stuff I wanted [needed – as in chore type stuff] to do this weekend  – and I did accomplish some (never manage to finish everthing on the list) – but I took today for myself, and have been doing things I really want [as in things I enjoy] to do. Not outdoors stuff, unfortunately; it’s been pouring down rain off and on. We had some spectacular thunder and lighting. Not the long weekend weather we tend to wish for, but it’s been a relaxing day. I think I need it; my ears are buzzing (don’t know if that is a sign I am tired, or if it’s the weather).

I did some reading. I played the piano. I did some painting. I played some Elder Scrolls Online.

Maybe not the things I should have been doing, but it felt like a good day.

 

Posted in 2019 | Leave a comment

Garden Journal 2019: Week 2

We’ve been getting typical spring weather; some nice sunny days, some rain, cold days when the wind is blowing. Friday I had to walk to my piano lesson in pouring down rain. The rain doesn’t stop Isabelle, it’s too much fun outside right now. So far she has only brought in one dead mouse; better than a live mouse, I suppose.

My indoor seeds are sprouted! Except for the peppers; I seem to recall they always take a bit longer.

Tomatoes and bunching onions

Outdoors, my lettuce and asian greens are sprouted as well.

Chinese cabbage, pak choi, lettuce.

In my second outdoor tray, I can see cucumbers just starting to peek through, and bunching onions, but just barely. No sign of tomatoes or peppers yet. We’ve had some cool, rainy days, and the night have been chilly (no frost!), but maybe they will still sprout.

I’ve been out puttering in the yard a bit  – a couple of days after work, when the weather was nice, and today. Isabelle likes it when I come out to play.

 

Lilac bushes are looking good so far! So nice to have my fence back, hopefully these ones will survive. I think I’ve been trying to grow lilacs since we first moved into the house, and haven’t managed so far.

They are still small. I have no idea how fast they should grow. I think this will be the  second summer since we planted them? But they are still alive, so I am happy.

Sticking with the daily drawing challenge; I managed to get  out of 7 this week. Birds were a little easier, but it’s been fun. This week there actually were a couple of repeats from bird month.

Having fun with it – most of them anyway – and hopefully I am learning something. 🙂

 

Posted in 2019, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Garden Journal 2019: Seed Starting

Weekends have been busy lately, and the weather has been cold and damp a lot of the time anyway – doesn’t really put me in the mood for gardening. But I’ve been wanting to get some seeds started and this weekend was finally the time.

We are at the end of burger week (too many burgers!). Yesterday was Star Wars Day (May the fourth be with you!) and feed comic book day, so we were out to get comics, then lunch, then a quick grocery trip. The weather was nice – finally!

So, experimenting a bit this year. Starting a tray indoors as usual with tomaotoes, hot peppers, and also some bunching onion seeds since I had some leftover from last year.

I got out and put the cover back on the mini greenhouse, and filled another tray: 2 each of the tomatoes and peppers, some cucumbers, and another row of tomatoes. I’m not sure it it will work for starting seeds, but would be nice if it does.

I went out today and checked it, and it was plenty warm in there. I actually opened up the cover because I thought it might get to warm. Started another tray today with chinese cabbage, pak choi and lettuce.

I need some herb seed. I am now out of seed starting mix (used a whole bag, plus some leftover from last year), and almost out of jiffy pots.

We had some excitement of the stressful kind last night. Isabelle is usually in and out during the evenings now. When it gets close to bed time, we watch for her so that we can take out the cat door for the night, but she wasn’t coming in. I went out to look for her, but couldn’t find her. Searched the house. Cory went out to look for her. No luck, so we figured she found a spot where she could get out of the house.

We waited, and she did come in of course. It likely wasn’t that long – a half hour at most  but it feels long when you are worrying. So this morning, out I went to try and find where she got out. Took some serious tracking skills, really:

I layered up because it was chilly in the house (Cory has the heat pump set to Arctic), but it was lovely and warm out. It went up to 18C today. Just perfect.

Had a busy day – closed off the gap so Isabelle can’t get out, started the 3rd tray of seeds, started clearing some ground outside the fence to see if I could; wondering if I can get some forsythia to grow out there; the deer didn’t seem to eat that in our yard.

Inside: did some laundry, we made goulash in slow cooker, I made a batch of Buter Chickpeas & brown rice to freeze for lunches, piano practice and my daily sketch.

April was birds, which was fun. May is animals which is harder. Today was Koala.  It was hard to find tutorials that weren’t cartoons. But they came out pretty cute.

So now the wait is on; I watch for things to sprout. Exciting. 🙂

 

 

Posted in 2019, Garden, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

After the Rain

It’s been a beautiful, hot summer – record breaking in fact. I think the past week or so has seen the highest temperatures and humidity. In other words, perfect tomato growing weather. We finally got some rain though; it was pouring down when I woke up this morning, much to Isabelle’s disappointment.

After work, Isabelle and I had to go out and check on things, just to make sure all the tomato plants survived. Right? 🙂

All was looking good in my little Tomato Alley behind the house.

These are mostly Indigo Rose and Sweet 100 Cherry tomatoes, except for 3 pots that are New Big Dwarf.

I stop to admire the Indigo Rose tomatoes practically every time I go out.  Looking forward to seeing what these look like ripe.

Then around to the side yard, where the rest of my Tomato Jungle is growing.

The wooden planter is more of the Indigo Rose; They are vine-y tomatoes, a very attractive looking plant.

In the middle we have Beaverlodge Slicer tomatoes, which are just loaded with fruit.

And on the end, Princepe Borghese, really bushy, green plants.

And finally the New Big Dwarf. I actually have a couple more containers of these by the gate. They are in the Patio Tomato category, and had the longest growing time, so they were the first ones I transplanted.

So far it has been a fantastic growing season, so feeling hopeful for lots of beautiful tomatoes this year!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Art Diaries: Round Two

Hey, remember when I used to paint? And post stuff? There hasn’t been a lot of that lately…

We had an unusually busy summer. It was a whole lot of fun, but tiring and somehow there just never seemed to be time for…a lot of things really.

I did try doing some painting outside, since I have to baby-sit Isabelle out in the yard. She developed this habit of going over the fence. So, I have to hang out in the yard with her. For a while, she seemed to be behaving as long as I was around.

20170728_130425crop

I had been thinking about trying to do some outdoor painting; I was somewhat daunted by the logistics of the whole thing, so I had been putting if off. This seemed like a good time to try though, so I put together a little kit for myself and gave it a try. Three out of five tries, I ended up with a painting. The other two times I didn’t get any further than background colour on the paper.

2017-Summer-PleinAir

It is a very different experience. I had to work very fast; I wasn’t sure I liked the feeling, to be honest, but it gave me a chance to do some painting. I did not produce any masterpieces, but there were things that I liked about each one, and things that I learned, which was kind of the point.

But, I gave up on that when it got to the point that I had to follow the cat around the yard at all times to [try and] catch her before she went over the fence. Good times…

Autumn has rolled around again. It is just recently started to cool off…Getting a little too chilly to be comfortable standing around the yard, but Isabelle still needs her fresh air.

You can see interesting things when all the leaves have gone from the trees.

IMG_3472 IMG_3491

I have been coming home from work, changing my clothes and taking Isabelle out. Normally, after work would be my workout time, but I haven’t quite worked out how to fit it in with my cat supervising duties. Then, lately, my knee has been giving me a lot of problems, and I have gotten to the point that I am afraid to start exercising again until I get it checked out.

Work has been stressful, and I’ve been tired a lot. Last fall & winter, I found that painting really helped me a lot. I was having a hard time dealing with losing both of my cats. Painting seemed to have a calming, relaxing effect. It takes a lot of focus, it is absorbing and enjoyable.

I was finding it hard to get back into it again, though; where to start? Like so many things, that first step is the hardest. So, I picked up a book that I remembered seeing a while back on creating small paintings.

20171022_164306crop

 

Which means that I am back to copying stuff again, when I had wanted to start doing my own paintings, but…

20171022_165115crop

I am able to complete a small (5″ x 5″) painting each time I sit down. It is very low stress, and relaxing, which is what I was looking for.

20171105_132711

It took the pressure off. It’s giving me a chance to play around with my paints.

I’ve been feeling less stressed which is maybe a coincidence. Or maybe this is what I needed.

 

Posted in Art Diaries, Painting | Leave a comment

End of an Era

A Year Ago Today

Oct 31st of 2016 we lost Zappa. I felt like I wanted to write a post in Zappa’s memory, as I did for Frank, but somehow I could never quite do it. 

This post was sitting in my drafts, the last edit date was Dec. 30, 2016. I tried to read it, but I go all tear-y eyed and sad, and I had to stop. So it will have to stay however I left it 10 months ago.

So it’s been a year. I’m not completely broken, but maybe not 100% healed. I adore my Isabelle, but I confess I have been missing my Zappa hugs lately.

December 30, 2016

img_0127

I’ve been trying to write this post for a while, but it seems the words don’t want to come.

Frank and Zappa came to us just a couple of months after we moved into our new house in May/June 2002, which was only a short time after our wedding on December 31, 2001. They were with us for 14 years, almost all of my memories of being in this house include them.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Zappa was the first to sleep on my head, though that later became Frank’s thing. I woke up one morning to find Zappa sleeping on my pillow, basically wrapped around my head: front paws down one side of my head, back paws down the other side, body across the top. In the beginning, they could both manage to cuddle up to my head – and each other – but eventually Frank got the pillow, and Zappa would just sleep on top of me – chest, stomach, legs – whatever struck him as the comfy spot of the moment I guess. More than one morning I woke to Cory telling me how amused he had been during the night, seeing Zappa poke and paw at me until I rolled over onto my back so he could claim his spot.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Zappa was usually the harder one to take photos of. As soon as he knew you were paying attention to him, he would come running.

img_1225

Zappa was my lap cat. I used to call Frank my Problem Child, and Cory called Zappa our “happy, well-adjusted cat.” I called him the Treat Monster; loved his cat treats, that cat did.

That’s what I was doing, in those last moments; I was getting ready to go to the store and buy some cat treats because we were going leaving the next morning for 5 days, and I’d realized we were out of cat treats. Can’t go off and leave the cat sitters with no treats for Zappa.

img_0543

We’d had a good day. Zappa woke me up first thing for his treats and breakfast. We were on our first day of vacation. Zappa had his breakfast, his morning nap, he went outside, he came in for cuddles – a day in the life. I carried him around on my shoulder, which was one of his favorite things; he loved to be picked up and held. I sat on the love seat with him for more cuddles, and when he’d had enough from me, jumped down, ran across the room and jumped up on Cory’s chair for cuddles from his other human. And I thought: what will I do when I don’t have him anymore?

The vet had given him a thorough checkup after we lost Frank. He was on medication for his thyroid, and it seemed like he was doing well.

I had just bought a new pet fountain, because a piece broke off the old one. It was still running, but I thought I should get a replacement before it gave out. I hadn’t even set it up yet, but Zappa was happy to check out the box.

I worried about going away and leaving him alone for 5 days, but I always did worry and our cat sitters were excellent.

 

It’s so hard to say good-bye.

img_6322

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Isobel: New Cat in the Garden

I still miss my Frank and my Zappa. This past Tuesday was one year without Frank. I couldn’t help but feel some sadness. I have a feeling I will miss those guys for the rest of my life. It’s been a hard year.

But eventually, spring comes round again and the sun comes out.

I met Joy a few years ago when she started doing house cleaning for us. I would usually be home on Fridays when she came to do our house, and we would chat. She adored our cats. A couple of weeks ago Joy mentioned that her daughter had a kitten in need of a home; she wanted Joy to take it, but Joy already has a kitten wreaking havoc in her house; she didn’t need another one.

This kitten, said Joy, looks Maine Coon like your cats were.

The daughter was reluctant to give the kitten to a stranger. What if  this person didn’t take care of it? No fear of that, said Joy.

Honestly, I wasn’t sure anything would come of i t, but a week later, on May 12, Joy shows up with a kitten.

20170512_093556

This little one hit the ground running. I still had cat toys around from Frank and Zappa, and she was all over them. She was exploring the house. While the girls were here cleaning, she was chasing brooms and mops. Seven weeks old. She has no fear.

When she wasn’t playing and running around, she was sleeping on my lap. It was pretty much love at first sight.

20170512_104108

I couldn’t help but think back; I have vague memories that Frank and Zappa were a little more cautious in checking out their new home. They were not immediate lap cats; of course there were two of them, so they usually curled up together back in those days.  I sort of wish now that I could remember more, that I had kept some sort of journal maybe. Not that it matters, because I think I will remember their personalities and quirks forever, but I can record some memories as our new girl grows up.

So, meet Isobel the Fearless!

IMG_2230

I honestly wish that she had a bit more fear, or caution anyway. She just barrels along full speed ahead.

She is determined she wants to be an outdoor cat. The screen door for our patio is not quite the right size, so there is a bit of a gap when the sliding glass door is open. She has been very interested in sitting on windowsills and looking out the screen door. She tries to get out every time we open the patio door.

There has been once or twice when we weren’t quite sure where she was, then Cory saw her going for the screen door gap, like she meant business. I’m worried about letting her out because she’s so little, and there are some spots where I thought she could fit under the fence. But knowing how determined she was, I thought I’d better see what she’d do…

What she did was run around the yard with great abandon. She looked like the happiest kitten on the planet. Then she went straight for the gap under the fence and was under it before I could stop  her. So then I was running for the gate, and around the house to catch her.

That was Thursday evening. I spent a few hours on Saturday afternoon covering gaps where I thought she could get under the fence. All went well Saturday evening and yesterday (though she did keep going back to the spot where she got out on Thursday, she seemed pretty determined which makes me think she might have been out there a couple of times without our knowledge)…

IMG_2278

Then this afternoon she found another escape route; so now she is confined to the house again until I can get out and do some more fixing.

These photos are from yesterday; they pretty much illustrate the life of Isobel at the moment: run, run, pounce, nap!

IMG_2287

IMG_2288

IMG_2292

IMG_2293

Posted in Isobel, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Art Diaries: Catching Up

I’ve been in a bit of a lull. Things were so busy for a while. I had a chest cold and cough that did not want to go away. I was so tired! So there hasn’t been much since I finished my last Sunday painting class.

May 6 I attended a Canvas & Cocktails event: Paint Your Pet. You send in a photo, they do a drawing for you, then you show up and paint it. The event was at McGill’s, a restaurant we had yet to try. It was Burger Week in Saint John. May 6 was a busy day – volunteering at the Walk for Autism in the morning (in the rain!), it was Free Comic Book Day; forgetting about that I had signed up to do this painting event…

Yep; busy, busy day. So after volunteering, I drove home and changed into dry clothes. Then Cory and I went off to the comic book store, and then to McGill’s for lunch. We enjoyed our food (burgers, since it was still burger week) and would like to go back sometime. Then Cory went home and I stayed to paint.

18518227_466642743687627_242167775872371596_o

IMG_2264crop

And finally…remember this?

IMG_2158crop

I painted it on April 16, the weekend between my last two Sunday painting classes, to work on clouds. It’s been sitting there waiting, bothering me that it was unfinished even if it was just for practice.

So finally:

IMG_2263crop

Now I just have to figure out what to start on next. I have three different photos that I want to try…decisions, decisions!

 

Posted in Art Diaries, Painting | Leave a comment

Sunday Painters #6: En Plein Air

Last day of painting class. As busy as things have been lately, I know it will be a good thing to have my Sunday afternoons free again, but I think I am going to miss this! It feels good to stretch some creative muscles.

Today we took our painting out doors. Before we went out, our instructor gave us a little back ground on plein air painting; apparently it was not really a thing until the impressionists came along – something I did not know – and painting outdoors really lends itself to impressionism, since you have to work fast; things move, light changes…I can tell you from my experience today that it feels a bit like going after a moving target.

I am not a fast painter.

It was cloudy today, and a little on the chilly side, but fortunately not really windy. We drove to a spot nearby on the river, where there happened to be a couple of convenient picnic tables. Then we dove right in.

At the end of the class we always compare paintings. I found it very interesting that between the four of us students, we came out with very different paintings, even though we were all in the same place. Of course, we all had different vantage points, and chose different things to focus on, but the colors/tones that we chose were all so different.

Mine was more blue – maybe because I love blue?

IMG_2180-crop

At the end, as we were all leaving, our instructor told us all to “keep painting!” I will really try to carve out some time most weekends to do that.

Posted in Art Diaries, Painting | Leave a comment

Art Diaries: Blue Skies and Clouds

I have been staring at the sky, fascinated with clouds since last Sunday’s painting class. It doesn’t hurt that the weather finally took a turn for the better  and we’ve had some lovely warm and clear days.

And, finally, a long weekend! I felt like I needed it. Unfortunately, neither Cory or I have been feeling very well. I didn’t get as many things done as I had hoped, and I’m still not feeling great.

So I didn’t exactly get a start on spring cleaning, but painting I could do…I am in the mood to paint blue skies and clouds.

First up, how about a beautiful summer day at Peggy’s Cove:

IMG_8450

This photo was taken in June of 2014 during a family outing. Such an intense blue sky!

IMG_2157crop

This was painted on acrylic paper (not canvas), still sticking to the basic paint colours, in this case: Cobalt Blue, Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue, Cadmium Red Medium Hue and Titanium white. I did use a little bit of a “Bright Blue”, since in class our instructor suggested mixing in a bit of a primary or cyan blue (though in class we were working with ultramarine) and that was the only blue I had that seemed like it might work as a substitute.

I will revisit this photo in the future, and have another go at it. But for what it was – a practice piece to work on skies – I thought it turned out okay.

I have started on another, which is still in progress; I happened to come across this photo that was taken on my iPhone (this is a cropped version) which has lots of interesting clouds:

201207-iPhone-SJRiver

This was discovered and started today, and so far I have only been looking at the clouds:

IMG_2158crop

This one is on canvas, using Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Yellow Medium Hue, Cadmium Red Medium Hue and Titanium white, again, with a bit of the Bright Blue. I did not get the right colour blue at all, but I decided to just go with it; I didn’t really have good light for seeing the colour for one thing, and I am still able to work on clouds.

I will play around with paint colours to see how I can get the right blue for a future effort.

 

Posted in Art Diaries, Painting | Leave a comment