Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Beauty of Colored Foliage Plants

My love of pots of color on the deck is well known. I can't imagine getting the drama we do without colored foliage plants - especially the sweet potato vines, coleus, and Persian shield.
Look at the photo above - I think it's amazing that sweet potato vines come not only in two different colors, but also a couple different leaf shapes. I think of these as heart and bird foot! And isn't the Persian shield fabulous?

I had no idea the coleus (above) would get so large!
Look at that tumble of sweet potato vine! I've been waiting till things die back after the first frost, then digging the tubers and re-using them in the spring.

I can't remember what this plant is called; I just remember that it has rose in the name.

Iowa retreat pincushion swap

I'm going to Sherry Goshon & Jean Bernard's dollmaker's retreat later in September. One of the weekend events is a pincushion swap, and I made mine using Jacque Uetz's basic technique - but mine looks a little different than her pretty ladies!
I made special pins for the pincushion, too...
And here's a little more detail on the challenge doll - my Harvest Witch. We're supposed to work in either a harvest theme, or a Halloween theme, and I thought I could tie together the two - everyone knows REAL witches aren't green and warty, right?

Monday, August 24, 2009


She's almost done. This is a deceptive angle, focusing too much on her head, but I had to grab the shot before the cat jumped in the light cube with her again...

She needs a little more done with her hair, maybe a wee bit more bling, and I have to find a basket for her to carry...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

All Things for a Reason

At the time, I didn't anguish here - or at least not too much. I did anguish privately to several select friends...but now that a month has passed I recognize that all things truly do happen for a reason.

When my Oldtimer and I decided it was time to add a dog to our household, a large part of our reasoning was that Murphy, who had been brought into a household with two other dogs when he was just 8 weeks old, was going to be lonesome. Not only did we miss the youth and vitality of a younger dog, we reasoned, Murphy too needed a pet.

We went looking - at a shelter of course. As it happened, it was one of the shelters that participates in the program I manage. Now, before I get into the details let me tell you, we think we are pretty good pet parents. Before our move from Minneapolis to North Carolina, the dog fence was installed and ready the day we arrived. Before my move to Ohio from North Carolina, the (invisible) dog fence was scheduled. Our dogs have always been on the receiving end of the first home improvement we make.

Further witness to our (we thought) good dog parenting - the huge stack of receipts from the veterinarian. As our pets aged, their issues mounted, and we never neglected them. Our home is pet friendly, our vacations and visits are orchestrated around their needs, and between us we have nearly 100 years of pet ownership of 13 dogs.

We presented ourselves to the shelter, survey completed, and before we even viewed a pet, we were interviewed. I wasn't concerned, as I felt not only qualified on the basis of the physical needs, but also the emotional needs of a pet. Imagine my surprise when we were declined! Without going into the gory details, let's just say that we didn't see eye-to-eye with the counselor on crating being the ONLY way to train an animal, the need to be outside with your pet EVERY MOMENT the pet is out, even with a fence, etc.

I was heartbroken, depressed, and doing a great deal of self-analysis about my parenting skills. My Oldtimer was angry - and hurt for me. This resulted in a visit to a different shelter, where there were no dogs that suited us, and then we even went so far as to visit (loud GASP) a pet store, to look at puppies. I couldn't do it.

But here's the reason why:
What a face, huh? She was waiting for us at yet another shelter. Fortunately, this shelter had slightly different screening standards, but they did meet with us extensively, and required that we come back the next day with Murphy for a meet and greet. Murphy was a little grumbly at first (Molly is very eager) but we knew the good nature of our sweet big boy, and the counselor trusted that we truly knew our dog. We think this picture says it all:
Molly loves it here. She is our faithful and constant companion. I keep telling my Oldtimer that we should have named her Shadow!
She has good taste, and is willing to share.
Although when it comes to a DQ Pup Cup, we think it best to get one for each (I don't like sharing MY DQ, either).
Another trait shared by Molly and Murphy - the lack of desire to play in the water. I've never seen such a thing.
Cosmo now tolerates Molly's enthusiasm, and has even been seen rubbing on her chin!
Molly and Murphy nap and stretch together (although I can't help but wonder if this is a statement on his occasional bouts with gas):
All in all, we had to take a little rejection because the right dog was waiting for us elsewhere. Like our Como dog, Molly is enthusiastic, a trait that caused her to also have been adopted, then rejected and returned to the shelter. I have this theory that rescued dogs know they've been rescued, and are ever so grateful for their new lives. Molly has just a couple of fears, the most visible being the fear of sticks. When I pulled out a yardstick to fish a dropped pill out from under the freezer, she ran and cowered. I think we know how she was treated in the not-so-distant past. That won't happen to her here. Thank goodness she doesn't fear thunderstorms, and will be able to continue our tradition of sitting on the front porch during the big boomers.

And a happy ending note: Though it took me several days to do so, I finally wrote (and re-wrote, and re-wrote) an email to the director of the shelter that rejected us. Though I didn't want to pull rank as a person who filters money in their direction, I did want her to know of my concern over the treatment of other seniors who might wish to adopt from that shelter. We ended up on a conference call, where I found an open, warm, and appreciative woman, trying to run a shelter on a shoestring budget with staff who had been trained under a different regime. I'm happy to continue their participation in our program, and we are working together to get a more accurate screening tool drafted. All's well that ends well!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


I was awake and sleepless at 3 AM today, so after cleaning up the kitchen a bit, I went upstairs to work on my doll a little more.
She still needs beading around the hem edge of the earth-toned batik, sleeves, shoes, head attached, wigged, decorative elements on the vest, and something to carry.
She's leading the way, as all dolls do, but she hasn't titled herself yet. Hopefully I'll be able to post completed photos soon.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Daggone Raccoons!

When we moved into this house four years ago, there was a huge vegetable garden off the driveway, along the east side of the house & garage. We reduced it by half the next spring, and put in tomatoes, cukes, and herbs.

The deer thanked us for it. We tried the next two years, as well, and last fall gave up and decided to quit fighting the deer - after all, they were here first. By planting six tomato plants per year the first three years we were here, we've harvested no more than 8 to 10 tomatoes, all years combined.

This spring, we decided to put sod over the other half, and make it all lawn, and be glad we can get nice fresh tomatoes at the farmer's market. But at least once a week, sometimes more often, this is what we find in the morning:
The raccoons apparently think we've created a smorgasbord just for them. The only thing I can figure is that they are looking for grubs. I'm trying to be good natured about it. After all, I'm the one who often repeats to those complaining about the nuisance and over-population of the animals that maybe it's we people who are over-populating, and encroaching on THEM.
Then last weekend, Gerry found a trail of destruction out of the pond.
And if you have a weak stomach, you might not like the next photo...
Yep, they got the big guy. I weighed and measured what was left of him (the flip side was chewed a lot more) and he was 14 1/2 inches long and about 1.5 pounds.

I'm not feeling particularly charitable toward raccoons right now.

Deck Plants

Looking around the deck and yard tonight, I realized that everything was probably at its peak - not much longer and things will start to brown, the plants will get spindly, and then before you know it, things will be white instead of green! Figured I better get a couple shots of things as they look right now.
We used a lot of foliage plantings with colorful annuals this year. It worked well, I think.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I started a new doll this weekend. As always, I'm not satisfied with the face, so I may have to remake the head. I just glanced at the photo below and can't believe how lumpy the legs look! It's a trick of the camera, because they are nicely smooth, but I used a pale batik fabric with variations in the coloring for skin tone, and it looks like lumps!
This gal needs pretty undies...that's the current step. (See Sherry Goshon's face book in the background? I pull it out every time I do a face. If I didn't have that book, I'd be even more frustrated!)
The doll photos above are the left end of my work table, which is a restored antique library table with a cutting board on top. The photo below is the right end. It's a mess, but it makes sense to me. I wonder if all dollmakers take up space with a candle, roll of paper towels, and a calculator, along with a tool tray, fabric, thread and needles.
Look at that luscious Venise lace - I got two yards of it at Joann's - I wish I'd bought all they had, it's just so gorgeous. Oh, and that head with the stuffing protruding to the left of the black & multi batik - thanks to Molly, I have to re-make that doll head, too.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Hot Summer Sunday

It was a rough day - we cleaned the edge and raked the pond, and I let myself get dehydrated. Molly and I took several naps in an effort to recover.
See? Who else do you know who rakes their pond? We had a lot of grass growing in it, and had some algae to clean out, too.
We made sure we left this guy's hiding spot intact.
Isn't he huge?
Just a few of the many pots of flowers and foliage on the deck.
Still trying to get the bathroom painted. My goodness that little room is taking me a long time!