Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Favorite Garden Art - The Big Stuff

I was looking through my pictures this morning and was inspired by some of the garden art I've seen in recent years. I thought I'd show you some of the "grander" pieces today and some of the fun, quirky, more affordable stuff in a week or so.

This is my favorite piece that we have at the Village Green. It's little metal dragonflies welded together into the torso of a woman. The dragonfly wings add a finishing touch. This was made by a 16 year old kid who also made female torsos out of leaves, bats, butterflies and Koi. Very talented.

At the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, there is a fabulous giant Minotaur sharing a secret with a bunny. The whole sculpture is made out of wire.

This summer house, woven from various branches, is at Morris Arboretum in Pennsylvania. The birds loved it.

This sculpture isn't big, grand or expensive. What makes it special is that every morning the gardeners place a perfect bloom in it's hands. You can find it in Lotusland near Santa Barbara, California.

This outrageous pergola was found at an art gallery on the McKenzie River in Oregon. When I asked how much it was, the art dealer sniffed "If you have to ask, you can't afford it". What a rude putz. I loved the pergola though because the shadows from it were just as lovely as the original.

The sleeping "Mud Maid" at Heligan is made from mud and cement.

Another mud sculpture from Heligan (in Cornwall) is "The Giant's Head". The base for this was the root wad of an uprooted tree.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sassy new computer from a Sassier Auntie

Trouble looking for a place to happen.
This is my first blog post written from "Sassy", my new HP laptop with Windows 7 and lots of bells and whistles and SPEED. I love it. No more waiting waiting waiting for the computer to respond.
So how did po' little me (emphasis on the po') afford such a thing? It's a post humus gift from my Aunt Shirley who passed away a year ago August. Shirley was SASSY! She was a smoker and took pride in that (I NEVER gave her grief about her cigarettes, I valued life too much). My daughter (who bought Shirley's house) still has a letter on her fridge that Shirley wrote to Bill Clinton when he was President. It goes something like this...
"Dear Mr. President, I was watching your speech on TV tonight until you started blabbing about more taxes on cigarettes. You've taxed us smokers enough! But it did remind me that I'm almost out of smokes, so I turned your yakking off and I'm going to the store for more cigs."

You can see the attitude in this pre-teen shot (Shirley is the one with dark hair)

Shirley had emphysema and she knew she was dying so she had gotten all of her affairs in order. She wrote her will, paid off all of her credit cards and died 2 weeks later. She named me executor and split her estate between me and her neighbor who looked in on her every night. As we were going through the house after her death, we found that she had been so afraid of someone stealing her identity, she hadn't thrown any of her mail away for the past 8 years, And in that mail were copies of HUNDREDS of letters she had written to politicians. All of them acerbic, sassy and irreverant. God love her.
So with my inheritance from Shirley, I bought the laptop and I'm also buying a macro lens for my camera and the rest will be invested in making improvements on Shirley's house (Which is now Bryn's house). A nice little investment.
So Thank You Shirley, wherever you are. You were the first person in our family to ever own a computer and you were kind enough to let me play with it when I came over to visit. I'll be thinking of you often as I play on this one.

In more innocent days - My Mom, Shirley, Brother Paul and their Dad

Monday, December 21, 2009

What's Important and What Isn't

This year, due to recovering from cancer treatment, I decided to simplify the Holidays and it taught me what's really important and what isn't.
What I LOVE about Christmas-
Making special gifts
Candles in the window
Christmas Trees
Frost or snow
Visiting friends and family
Old fashioned ornaments
Sharing customs and beliefs with friends of differant faiths
Making a wreath
Paying attention to the Season
As Julie Andrews would sing, these are my favorite things...La La La...But....Some of them were set aside to simplify things this year.
The Christmas Tree - We aren't putting up a Christmas Tree, even though I dearly love them, because I don't have the energy to clean my studio so I can fit my recliner in there, so I can put the tree where the recliner was. My daughter just bought her first house and has her first Christmas tree and wants us to spend Christmas day with her. So no tree. And I'm OK with that.
Snow and Frost - It doesn't look like it's gonna snow here this year. That's OK too.
Baking - I'm only baking and fudge making for close friends and family and a few neighbors.
I'm not doing too much visiting this year because I don't have the energy. I went to see my brother (about and hour and a half away) but I'm not making the yearly trip to my parents because we just saw them at Thanksgiving and I don't think my mom should feel like she has to host everyone again.
Making a Wreath - Didn't do that this year either. But I put some lights on a timer up front.
Paying Attention to the Season - Yes, I've done this. I have listened to the Christmas music that I like (not the traditional stuff) and I've stayed out of the malls and made an effort to buy from local mom and pop stores. I decorated my mantle and I light a fire in the fireplace now and then. My daughter and I bake together and we vary our baking so we do cookies one day and fudge the next, etc, instead of doing an assembly line to crank out 30 batches of fudge that weren't necessary or appreciated. And best of all, We now have a DVR where we record all of the shows we want to watch, so we aren't subjected to endless Christmas consumerism in the form of commercials.
Give more - Instead of giving gifts, in my husband's family, we all make donations in each others names. Our family gives to an organization called Senior Santas, which gives gifts (usually necessities like gift cards to grocery stores) to elderly people who are low income. Christmas isn't just for kids.
I like to get a little extra cash this time of year for the bell ringers. When my kids were young, all of the neighbor kids would get together to bake cookies for the Mission. We like to donate cash, blankets and pet food to the local shelter. And we make sure that the birds outside are fed.
This Year I sat down and wrote a list of Christmas resolutions in my Holiday Journal. They are:
I will try to use recyclable gift wrapping in the form of home-made fabric gift bags, tins, and reusable boxes.
I will attempt to make most of my gifts or buy from local small businesses.
I will jettison anything I deem stressful.
I will be cheerful and relaxed.
I will cherish my friends.
I will give to people who need it but will not spend more than I can afford for the Holiday. The people who matter don't expect me to go into debt to buy them "Stuff".
I will light a candle in the window for my Grandmothers, my Aunt Shirley and my friend Lauren.
I will be present for my family.
I am sure that I will find more to add to my resolutions - at least I hope I do. And I hope that you all can de-stress a bit and realize that this season is all about love and family and friends and not about spending money, excessive partying or impressing others. Give yourself the gift of really enjoying this special time.

Non-Seasonal Eye Candy

I know I should be posting pictures of Christmas Trees, Santas and such, but I thought that with the gloom outside, it might be a nice respite to see some eye candy from past seasons to remind us that the sun is shining somewhere up above the clouds.

Echinacea in the Bird Habitat at the Village Green Resort

The Sitting Garden at the Village Green

Stourhead Garden, England

The White Garden at Sissinghurst, England

The Italian Garden at Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania

Victoria Waterlilies at Strybing Arboretum, San Francisco

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Delights of a Cold Winter Week

We have had temperatures down to 10 degrees at night this past week, with the days never getting above freezing. I've been bringing the pets indoors and thawing out bird baths for the birds and squirrels and putting out lots of food for the wildlife. But there is always something lovely to be found in nature, no matter what. Our fountain turned into a lovely ice sculpture. Many of the employees have been havng their pictures taken in front of it for their christmas cards.

Here's anothe view of the whole fountain. Isn't she magnificent?

I loved this little garden of frost ferns that formed on the side of my car.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ghosts in the Garden

Magical mist wraps around the labyrinth on an early winter walk.

This spruce, enshrouded in spider webs, shimmers in the mist.

When you wake up to a misty, moisty morning, I highly recommend wrapping up snug (for nothing penetrates your bones like a cold fog) and take a walk outside, intermingling with the ghosts of the garden.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Song Of The Rabbits Outside The Tavern

We who play under the pines,
We who dance in the snow
That shines blue in the light of the moon
Sometimes we halt as we go,
Stand with our ears erect,
Our noses testing the air,
To gaze at the golden world
Behind the window there.

Suns they have in a cave
And stars each on a tall white stem,
And the thought of a fox or night owl
Seems never to trouble them.
They laugh and eat and are warm,
Their food seems ready at hand,
While hungry out in the cold
We little rabbits stand.

But they never dance as we dance,
They have not the speed or the grace.
We scorn both the cat and the dog
Who lie by the fireplace.
We scorn them licking their paws,
Their eyes on an upraised spoon,
We who dance hungry and wild
Under the winter's moon.

Elizabeth Coatsworth.
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