All work and no play? Don’t think so.

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Oh boy oh boy oh boy! We’ve been major energizer bunnies round here.
We’ve been building the carport, and removing stuff to the tip, and collecting plums, and chopping wood, and burning branches, and digging out a huge and ugly privet hedge for a deep perennial garden along a back fence, and we’ve been at it hammer and tongs till our legs are scrapped and bruised and we look like the walking dead.

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All this work has left very little time for art, but I’m happy to report the beginning of a carving.

My friend William, (who lent me his father’s chisels), gave me a piece of maple to have a go. OK, so, maple must be the biggest joke wood in the world! It’s as hard as rock!!! In fact, I can’t imagine oak or mahogany being harder.

So, very quickly it became very apparent to me, that I wouldn’t be the owner of a lovely maple woodcarving of a wildflower meadow with a wren. :(

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I’ve been thinking about carving a wooden spoon and asked Robbie how I might go about doing this. He looked at me and gave me his jig saw. LOL So I drew some designs on my maple and decided on the one I liked and set to it.

I cut out the wooden spoon with R’s jig saw, (R helped me cut the handle), and started carving it with the mallet and chisels.

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This is how far I got after about four hours of carving time, plus you can see the scale of this spoon. It’s a big one! :D

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So far so good. More work on the bowl, and, of course, I only have chisels instead of a draw knife for the handle and curved blade knife for the bowl, but I’m getting somewhere.

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Where was I…oh yes…fun…

So R got a phone call from his optician to say his contacts were in, so we drove to pick them up, and R surprised me with a day out visit to one of our favourite towns, Wallingford.

This is a beautiful market town of old brick and flint houses and postage sized courtyards and tiny little streets…like this one, called Mousey Lane, where we could hardly walk beside each other.

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We had a little lunch and tea and a good mooch around the antique emporium.

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I fell in love with two handmade teddies, some old chisels and a beautiful painting of a very curvy nude, while R fell in love with a gas mask, (which he wants to wear instead of goggles to drive his new project Medusa). We bought the gas mask, a chisel, and the handmade teddies for Binky and Bunny to play with, but, unfortunately, the beautiful nude was pricey and painted on wood, so very difficult for me to ship back to Van.

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Late afternoon, on the drive back home, R did a u-turn and we parked up at a little hill called Wittenham Clumps for a walk. It’s a special place which has inspired many people, from Victorian poets to contemporary artists. Here is a very interesting site about an artist who dedicated his art to the place.

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Run by the Earth Trust as a wildflower meadow, this chalk hill has the oldest stand of beech trees in England.

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We walked all the way around the clump…

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And looked out over our Thames and over our beautiful South Oxfordshire.

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Who says we don’t have any fun. :D

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Hello from Sunday night

This always happens, and, we really should know better.
Towards the end of the summer, Robert and I go a bit mental and take on a huge home project. This weekend we decided to build a carport against the end of the garage and this required chopping down a huge damson plum, moving ton’s of wood and Jaguar car parts out of the way, and general over-the-top energy expenditure.

By Sunday afternoon we were gonners (British for tired/moodswingy/divorce central!).

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We took a walk in one of our favourite places, The Whomping Willow Walk. The Whomping Willow is actually a huge horse chestnut, but Chloe named it that when she was about 9yrs old, and the name stuck. :D

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I tend to trip over four leaf clovers and find them everywhere, but felt lucky to find this one because we usually see deer in this area, and it felt like a good omen to me.

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And just as we walked into the forest, there he was! A beautiful little muntjac deer walked across our path.

We stopped instantly, but he noticed us and bounded into the forest.

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I stood up on a stump and tried to look for him, but he was well camouflaged in the bracken and grasses.
I stood there for some time listening to the bird song and the rustle of the great trees and bracken in the wind.

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Then we walked on, past the thistle sending itself into the forest…

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…and to the Whomping Willow, (which is actually a horse chestnut)…

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…and past the Whomping Willow to the alley of yews.

Someone must have planted these yews years ago. They are so huge and make a dark bower over head. Someone keeps a small, child-like fort under one of the yews. It has a few stumps for a table and chairs and a woven branch roof. Chloe used to pretend it was fairies inviting children to have a play.

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We walked to the end of the yew alley and turned back for home.

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On our way out of the forest, we spied the muntjac grazing in the field. The wind was howling and we were upwind from him, so he didn’t notice us at all. We watched him graze all the way back up the path past the wildflowers.

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And then we drove home.

Sharing with Judith and all the lovelies at Mosaic Monday.

Here I am in England! At home.

Look what Robert had waiting for me!

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But that’s not all. Look what else was waiting for me!

This is my new car; it’s a vintage, 1970′s series 3 Land Rover.

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And it’s MINE! Robbie bought it for me and he and Jason fixed almost everything on it in time for me to get here.

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By the way, it’s been named DODO (as per the license plate)! So I’m introducing you to The Dodo. You’ll probably see a lot of it and my mini this summer, (which by the way has been named The Doctor because the license plate says DOC. I need a Dalek key chain for my mini…lol).

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What I thought when I got here was that I only had three tea bags left in the cupboard. How could I survive with only three tea bags? :( There just is no way! So I asked R to drive to the store so I could get some more tea.

Then we cleaned up the cupboard and found all this tea! :D

But he still drove to the store to get me some fresh tea bags.

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Ah…my hero!

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Now we’re at home. R is with our friend Alan trying to sort out a problem on Alan’s car and I’ve just picked this lovely, fat Nigella seed pod out of the garden…

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…and drew it on the page that says “English”.

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It’s good to be here. :D

what comes from stress and evening walks

I went for a walk around the hood this evening, after spending hours in the garden, and walked past a most highly manicured garden in the world which must belong to someone who owns a garden service called Momentous Impressions Gardening. (because the vans with that name were parked out front) And it makes perfect sense because this garden has the greenest, most even grass blades in the world, the most manicured clumps of vegetation and the sharpest edged borders from where peaks of the darkest, richest soil can be seen.

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Oy Vey!

Then I round the corner and come up to my garden. The one with the wonky photinia hedge and giant, overgrown cherry tree.

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And volunteer fir trees and lawns with more weeds and moss that actual grass.

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And a hodgepodge of saved plants from neighbourhood construction sites and rustic, old fences.

And I think, “what the heck am I doing having a garden show?”
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So I hope people can look past the imperfections and see the glorious bits.

Like this wild and gorgeous clematis which looks like clematis with a bad hair day.

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And the small vignettes I’ve set up in places.

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And the saved apple tree, which went from a hand full of leaves and one rotten apple to a glorious green top and a full harvest last year, and places for wildlife with this small pond, a bird bath, three fountains and some water plants.

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But the tea cart is all washed and ready to be put into service and to be loaded up with tea cups and cookies, and Morgan is keeping a watchful eye on the goings on and always eager to test things out.

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The broken irises have been gathered into vases,

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The roses and clematis are starting to open, and a wholly inappropriate chandelier has been hung in the garage just because it looks lovely there.

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So nevermind the mess. I think it’s going to be OK. :D

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Catching up, checking in

I’m sitting in the dining room this evening going thru some photos and talking to C about her day. I was just thinking how nice the light is, so I took another photo and downloaded that one too.

Days have been busy and a bit long round here lately. You remember when I contemplated doing this art in the garden show and thinking that if I spend an hour/day till the show working on the garden, this would equal 70 hours and that should be enough? Well, turns out it isn’t enough…and it’s taking a monster amount of time to get the garden lovely. (hence, lack of postage)

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And of course, this leaves less time for art, (again, hence, lack of postage)

And, finally, this leads to lack of cuddle time for the cats…hence, interrupted art and gardening…hence, lack of postage. Lol.

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But I am getting somewhere, and, generally, the art and garden parts are coming along on schedule…not that there is a schedule…just a firm idea of success or fail in my head.

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Days in the garden are long and days in the studio relatively short in comparison, but Chloe joins me as often as she can. The other day she bought a $2 tank from the thrift and sketched a lovely design on it for herself while I painted. I love it when she stays in the studio with me. I love those times.

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And other times she tries to get my attention while I’m gardening…lol. I love those times too.

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But everything is coming along in the garden. The seeds are all a success and coming along, and I found some old iron fence panels to cage the raspberries with so people can actually walk down the garden path.

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Have a look at these beauties. The irises in the lower right photo I bought with the house, but the other three are saved from construction sites in the ‘hood. Aren’t they lovely? Such a beautiful surprise, since I saved them before they bloomed.

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Lately I’ve been thinking about how I garden, and that means indoor as well as outdoor. I’ve been after one of these plants for a year or so now and have found a fantastic specimen for very little money. It’s a rabbit’s foot fern. So called because its aerial roots look like fluffy rabbit’s feet.

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Another bunch of plants, which I’ve been noticing lately, have been air plants, so I decided to do some gardening with one.

What do you think?

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It’s a sort of Wardian case, which came form a thrift shop (and originally held some bath products according to the label which I scrubbed off), planted with three charming Wade figurines: a fish, swimming in a bone fountain, a monkey grinning form some driftwood C gave me, and squirrel ready to hide his nut among the polished pebbles.

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And a beautiful air plant…which doesn’t actually live on air as I found out.

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Not much to report form the silversmithing studio. I’m afraid that my efforts continue to look rather VERY homemade and organic. (How do people get the bezels so smooth and the edges so perfect?)…(sigh)

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There are these five new rings; three with beach glass and two with beach polished pebbles.

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Actually, I like this one very much. I might keep it and wear it for a while.

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Well, little more sunlight left out there, so I’m off to water the garden.

Missing regular posting, but happy that all the work is getting done.

Big hugs to you all. I’m trying to come around to everyone’s blogs, so just remind me and I’ll be right over to say hi. :D

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Home, lately

Today I realised that I only have two weeks left to the art in the garden show! Yikes!

So Chloe and I decided that the patio has dried out as much as it’s going to and are taking advantage of these next few sunny days to give it a new coat of paint.

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Quite possibly it wasn’t the wisest of things to do to pressure wash the old wood just before an open to the public garden show, and Robbie and I had a hell of a time replacing rotten timbers, but the patio is as good as it’s going to be this year, and so, even though it will need replacing next year or the year after, it’s looking good with a generous coat of Sherwin Williams thick and gloopy patio paint.

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I took a walk in the garden in the late afternoon sun to bring you the scoop.

The patio pots have all been planted with petunias, geraniums and snapdragons in pinks, purples and creamy yellows and are just waiting for the patio furniture to get back into place so they can live out their lives in the dappled sun of the maple trees.

It’s a good thing too because a load of weeds have come up on the back patio that I need to weed out of there.

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I love purples and bronzes with creamy yellows, don’t you? It seems that purple is a bit of a theme round here this year.

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Speaking of purple to the max, these are the “saved from the construction site” irises that I had no idea what colour they were going to be when I saved them last year.

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Aren’t they the most heavenly shade? I’m so happy I saved them.

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Mostly my seedlings are doing really well in the veg garden. The tomatoes were checked a little after last week’s hail storm, but I think they’ll recover. The peas, sweet peas, garlic, cabbages, cauliflower and beans are just fine.

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The little begonias, on a shelf on the North side of the house, are growing and blooming their hears out. I’m hoping for a really spectacular display in the next two weeks.

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The clematis Montana, which is growing up the ancient apple tree, is in full bloom. It’s so spectacular right now that I can’t get enough of it. Yesterday I saved some plants from the construction site which used to be my neighbours to the West and I looked up at the ancient apple tree and the clematis Montana and thought, “holy smokes, my neighbours have the best view!” :D

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So here is Morgan reminding me that I still have two bags of potting soil to allocate to pots and then I can rest. She’s always so helpful…lol.

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The good side of today is that the garden part of the art in the garden show is coming along wonderfully. The not so good side is the art part is a little on the slow side, but I’m getting there. A new painting was started yesterday plus three new canvases primed.

More from my beautiful saved garden and my art in the days to come; sorry to be so pedantic in my posts but it’s occupying most of my time right now. I did contemplate getting up into the studio for the rest of the evening, but I’m feeling pretty tired and so I think I’ll watch a finale and have a rest. Don’t you hate that all the best shows are ending? (OK, truth be told I only actually watch 4 or 5 shows… Person of Interest, The Blacklist, NCIS, Elementary and Agents of Shield.) But what am I going to watch after this week? Hope they bring back Warehouse 13 or Defiance for an other season. Hey, did anyone watch Resurrection and Bitten? What a load of enjoyable silliness. What do we think? :D Anyone have any recommendations? I hear 24 is really good. I watch the first season but couldn’t stand the daughter. Before I watch it again I sure hope she gets disappeared. (Oops…did that come out loud?) Big hugs to everyone from the land of the tired. I think Agents of Shield is winning out in my mind …silliness without the testosterone stress factor.

Ciao Ciao for now. X

EDIT: What? Warehouse 13 final series is already started? Nobody tells me anything!!! :D

One golden hour in the day

One of my most favourite things in the world just happens. It’s not one of those things which can be planned, and, very often, happens when there really isn’t time for it to happen.

It’s a magical moment when everyone is doing their own thing and then everyone comes together somehow, a conversation starts and suddenly, no one wants to have to go make supper or do homework or anything else; it’s like there’s a golden hour where outside time stands still.

This golden hour happened today.

Chloe came home form her internship, Anastasiia came back from three hours of ballet, Robert and I put down our work for the day, and I opened two inks I had ordered a few days ago to give them a try.

Chloe started to tell us of her day, and we listened and chatted back and forth, and I painted a small chickadee with my new inks. (supper happened an hour late but no one cared)

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Chickadees don’t normally have green eyes, only in golden hours. :D

art: page from Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet, black and white Daler Rowney inks, green Mont Blanc ink, (used by my father for his fountain pens), ochre watercolour pencil.

Hello from Monday night, (which turned into a Tuesday morning post)

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When I was little, I would watch my aunt paint Easter eggs with her oils and tiny brushes. She’d have a small posy of some lovelies, usually violets and primroses, and she’d paint them on the eggs. That’s where I got the idea for the usual eggs I tend to paint, but this year, with R being here for Easter, newly painted eggs, (and more frequent posts), have kinda gone out the window. But I still wanted to commemorate Easter, and remembered that my grandmother and I would dye eggs naturally by boiling them with onion skins.

I looked in the fridge and I had only five white eggs, (the rest were brown), so decided to see what I could do with the five, thinking there really is very little point to dyeing brown eggs…well…brown.

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Whadaya think? I love them. Now we have five lovely hard boiled eggs, but they’re too pretty to eat. :D

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Speaking of R, I wrote a list of things which need doing with his help. I called it The Master List. R said I should call it The Make Robbie A Slave List. :( But he actually is such a great help and encouraged me to get together a list of the jobs we need to do around here. Sometimes it’s hard living in two countries.

I remember seeing a documentary about Carol Shields and remember being so moved by her message. She said that, life to her, seems like a flight. A flight of a bird who comes form darkness and flies into a vast cathedral of bright lights and colours and stained glass reflections and magical things, and then, flies out into darkness again. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a bird fly beside you thru that experience?

Life is so much better for me when R and I are together in the same place at the same time.

Although we’re slowly getting thru The Slave/Master list, there is a second, personal list of things to achieve art wise before the art show, and R doesn’t even know the whole extent of that, and I’m allowing this second list to build up stress and worry…but I think I do this to myself…you know, impose deadlines and restrictions and expectations. I know that it keeps me motivated but at the price of what all that cortisol is doing. I must find a better way to manage my though processes.

But sometimes I have results…

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…and sometimes I make the dumbest mistakes…lol.

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Today, we spent a ridiculous amount of money on pressure treated lumber to replace some rotten planks in the front stairs and build a pergola on the east side of the garden.

Robbie replaced the planks and I dug pergola post holes. Morgan supervised as usual.

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Each evening, R and I look at The Master List, (which has not yet been renamed), and cross a thing of two off.

It’s such a good feeling. :D

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Now, hopefully, if my service provider is behaving itself, as I hit publish, this post will actually publish. :D

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A windstorm in the night

Well, here we are in that terrible West Coast spring weather, where the clouds pile up and crash into the mountains and it rains and rains and rains.

I’ve been busy inside the new silversmithing studio and also I’ve repotted the indoor plants and terrariums.

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Then last night we had a windstorm and all the rain clouds were blown away.

Unfortunately, my greenhouse was also blown away and almost all the seedlings were dumped out into the garden.

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I picked up as many as I could and repotted them and watered them in. Robert righted the greenhouse and weighed it down with rocks and bricks.

Well, this will certainly be an interesting gardening year as I can’t tell my aster seedlings from my bachelor’s buttons from my zinnias! :D

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Still, the sun is shining, and so we got on with some outdoor work. (With Morgan’s supervision of course.)

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We bought a new, small pond pump and created a fountain from an old water pump I’ve had for years, and then, finally hung up a second fountain into a permanent place. Previously, this ornate Italian fountain was in the entrance hall of a past heritage house I owned, and I didn’t know what to do with it since I moved and left it in storage for about 13 years. The jury is still out on that one, but I think it’ll be fine where we put it; especially with a beautiful clematis growing over it.

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And also, we took my dad’s old Craftsman toolbox and, after R drilled out the rivets holding the handles, we sanded down the rust…

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…and sprayed it with rust paint. I love the new shiny red. It still needs to dry and be put back together again and slid under one of the work benches, but as soon as I’ve got that done, I’ll take photos.

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We got lucky today, and tomorrow it’s supposed to be back to the rain, and, I suppose, back to indoor work, but the sun was lovely while it lasted. :D

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Round here

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It’s been a quiet sort of day round here. A little work, a little play, a walk in the rain around the hood…nothing special going on.

I suppose it’s the first day we’ve had without someone rushing around. Chloe has finished her semester now and had a big sigh of relief, and now she’s off to Bryson’s parent’s cabin for a few days rest and cats and dogs and horses.

Robert and I are trying to figure out the best way to photograph my art work without a lot of natural light and it isn’t really working so I’m going to put it off till we get a brighter day.

Yesterday I made C a new ring, a bit of a congratulations of finishing your semester prezzy. I love the way it turned out but I still have a bit of work to finish burnishing the bezel around the beach glass and black goldstone.

And, after starting all the sweet peas and ending up with about 200% more healthy seedlings than my garden can accommodate, I smartened up and bought five nasturtium seedlings…just the right amount.

What’s going on with everyone? How’s spring coming along? Has it shown up in your part of the old globe yet?

My friend John has sprouted enough cabbage seedlings for England, Diane is having to protect her porch flowers from some late frost, Michelle has made the most wonderful, cuddly, bear sweater in the world, (she’s such a talented knitter), and Joanne is brewing some wonderful natural dyes. Can’t wait to see what she does with them. Speaking of, has anyone been dyeing with onion skins lately? I remember colouring Easter eggs with them. Think I might try again this year.

Let me know what you’re all up to. :D

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