Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Surprise from the Fairies

Fergus and Merribelle, our high desert fairies, are usually in Mexico for the winter, but this year they paid a surprise Christmas visit to our mountain home.  I bring their fairy garden in for the winter because of the frost tender cactus planted in it, but that was no problem for them.  I had forgotten to lock the door and they let themselves in to sleep in a warm place.

They left me a note...

"We were so surprised that there was no Christmas tree in your house.  We know you are sad that none of your grandchildren could come for Christmas, but that is no reason not to have a tree!  So we decorated the one in our garden for you.  

  Fortunately we watched you make lots of miniatures for your miniature Honeydukes, and we borrowed a few things from it for our garden Christmas decor.

We especially like the little ice mice at the manger.  

The Christmas story might give you a hint about the other surprise we have for you, but you will have to wait until we return in the spring for it.  Enjoy your tree, have a cup of Christmas tea, and Merry Christmas!  Tell Sara, Caroline, and Eliza we hope to see them in the summer.  

By the way, the tree tells us it would like more water.  That wood stove is awfully warm and dries it out.  The cactus, however, are very happy and may grow to large to stay in our garden.    Love, Fergus and Merribelle.

A Blessed Christmas to all of you.  Hope the fairies visit your house on occasion.

Monday, August 3, 2015

High Desert Garden Hazards

As if decomposed granite soil, drought, ground squirrels, blazing sun, and wind weren't enough of a challenge to my gardening skills, now I am on high alert for more deadly critters.  We have live on the side of the Sandia mountains now for seven years with only a friendly tarantula making occasional treks across the gardens.  On my return from an extended time (almost five months!) in Colorado helping my daughter, Alethea, while she was on mandatory bed rest for two months before the birth of her twins, afterwards while she recovered from a C-section, and then Norm and I did some traveling.  Apparently the lack of traffic at our isolated house was noted by.....
Yes, indeed that would be the noisy end of a rattlesnake, first noticed by my brother-in-law, Larry because the cat was cautiously stalking this intriguing looking tail. 

Sati assiduously keeps the rock gardens clear of mice and lizards...

 so I was not surprised at her interest, but fortunately some innate caution kept her from attacking.

My husband wisely threw pebbles at Sati to chase her away and then despite the protests of my niece, Shan, and myself, he ran for the IPad to photograph this unexpected visitor.  

 Rattle up, but never used!  Very calm, complacent snake.  However, if it had tried to rattle, I understand the recent rains may have dampened it's sound.  This snake was very fat, so if it had been eating in our gardens, we expect no problem with mice trying to get into the house for the winter!  It slithered off to parts unknown, and we are praying that it was just "passing through."  Wonder if any of my friends will be brave enough to visit now?  Norm took a video, but I have not been able to successfully upload it.  Maybe a too slow internet connection?

Still despite the hazards, my gardens manage to survive...

And for those of you that are close friends, here is a photo of the twins...

The newest twins, Alex on the left, Connor on the right, Eliza, their sister in the middle, and the six year old twin cousins, Caroline on the left, Sara on the right.
Two of my three daughters have had twins!  The third daughter is thinking that being an auntie is a fine choice!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Waterfalls-Some recent works.

Currently, I am trying to master painting moving water in watercolor.  My daughter, when seeing some of my paintings, suggested we make the short trip to Fish Creeks Falls, just outside of Steamboat Springs.  We packed a picnic lunch, drove up the mountain, unloaded Eliza and Walter (the dog) and gingerly made our way down a rather steep trail to the bottom of the falls.
"Gingerly" because my daughter had just the day before been released from bedrest, but told to "take it easy" by her doctor as she had made it to 37 weeks in a high risk pregnancy with twins.
Taking the easy trail back to the car
 The next day, Alethea stayed in bed, Eliza took a rare nap at preschool, and I worked on some paintings of waterfalls that I had begun before our little outing.
"Logjam" is a bit more abstract than my normal style, but I like the upper falls.
"Cascade" is a little more colorful than I had planned, but I liked the pallette so much that I painted the forest scene below using similar colors.
 In the next painting, I took some photos of the progress of the painting to show you how the work evolved.
Blocking in the main elements.  After this I covered the white areas with masking fluid before working on the water.
Here I have rubbed off the masking fluid and added some stronger blues to the water.
Here the painting is almost done, but I think I will go back and tone down the brown in the tree on the left with a wash of purple.  It seems to draw too much attention to itself when the movement of the water is where I want  the focus of the painting to be. 
 Tomorrow we will meet "da brudders",  Eliza's names for her baby brothers.  Alethea will have a C-section the morning.  I expect that I will be too busy to paint Fish Creek Falls anytime soon, but I have a lot of reference photos to work from and hope to return to do a little plein air painting before the snow flies next fall.

Monday, April 13, 2015

How Close Is To Close -- To An Alligator?

For Holy Week I traveled to New Orleans with a group of teenaged girls and two other adults on Pilgrimage.  In addition to visiting many religious sites, we made a trip into the swamps to learn about tidal basin ecology as part of our responsibility as Christians to be stewards of creation.  It (blessedly) was a cool cloudy day and all the creatures of the swamp where quite active...except the mosquitoes which did not seem to be much of a problem even to Pat.  Pat swears that mosquitoes come from miles away just to bite her!  Here is a little photo tour for you...
A Fairy House? want to see alligators?

Ummm!  Don't get so close!
Don't Turn Your Back to Him!
Ladies, really, I think they can jump at least three feet!

Oh, phew, he is moving away.  But there is still lots to see...

Hey, we have thistles in New Mexico too!
But no Spanish Moss
Oh dear, these guys are everywhere!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Art Lover At An Early Age

Today my friend, Kathie B., took me to lunch at Vinaigrette Bistro near Old Town, Albuquerque for a belated birthday celebration and my almost three year old granddaughter Eliza enlivened the occasion.  After a wonderful lunch on their patio where everyone politely ignored the fact that Eliza was NOT STAYING in her chair, we drove the very few blocks to the Albuquerque Botanical Gardens to see what was in bloom.

What is this tiny plant going to be?
Can I throw them a penny? "NO!"
Smells good in here!
How fast can I run down this ramp?

Yikes! Everything in here pricks you!
I'm WAITING for you!
What's a "Curandera?"
 Eliza was very taken with this sculpture and spent quite a bit of time exploring what she could reach with her hands.
Kathie wondering in what direction Eliza has now run.

Eliza is now trotting ahead with her arms crossed and her "meany face" firmly in place because I wouldn't let her pick up some bird poop.


"The Rescue" by renowned sculptor, Glenna Goodacre, captivated Eliza and her anger is forgotten.  Not able to drag her away, Kathie stayed with her while I was dispatched to get Eliza a drink.  We spent the next thirty minutes with Eliza comforting the bronze little girl at the base of the tree whom Eliza assumed owned the imperiled cat.

Return of the "meany face" as Eliza is warned we are leaving in 5 minutes.

And a very happy birthday to my daughter Alethea (mother of Eliza) who is reluctantly sharing Eliza with her grandparents while she is on mandated bed rest until the birth of the twins she and her husband, Tim, are expecting any day.