Friday, May 14, 2010

Left to My Own Devices

The acrylic painting class that I'm taking at Crossroads Art Center is on hiatus until June. I've been trying to paint a couple of times a week in between work, graduating children and baseball games.

I seem to be obsessed with marshes. Painting them and being in them. I need to figure out how to do both at once. I wonder if it is possible to paint while kayaking. People fish while kayaking so I don't see why not.

I love to take my kayak through marshes in search of birds and fish and any other creature that might be lurking. For mother's day Harry and I kayaked at Dutch Gap nature preserve. Although the day was windy, the area is protected from the elements. As we paddled, the area gave up her most precious secret: her own ghost fleet of historical barges and tugs. Years and years of barges and tugs have been abandoned here, and here they remain. Some have been here so long that trees have actually grown in their hulls. This creates a happy habitat for nesting birds and spawning fish.There is a heron rookery in this preserve - they've counted 80 active nests. Vultures hang out close to the nests - kind of creepy.

Often while paddling I get the sensation that I'm in the middle of a painting. So, while painting I try to get that feeling back again. The painting above was done after an afternoon in my kayak. I sent it to my mother for mother's day. It brought back some of those kindergarten days when you spent the day in art class making something for mom or dad. Mom loves the painting but then she's my mother - she has to. I've been experimenting with the palette knife - I think it is my favorite technique.

Now I'm working on a large marsh scene - this is it in its very rough beginnings.
I'd like to be in my kayak in this marsh today but I guess I'll just paint it instead.

Poor Harry. He is surrounded by paint and canvases. Our son, who graduated this past Saturday with a BFA in computer animation sent us home with all of his paintings. On the way home Harry said, "I have too much art in my life". I think he was sort of kidding. But this hobby does take up a lot of space. Most of them are still in the front hall waiting for a permanent home. I did take one piece and put it in the Dining Room. The ginger jar hides the part that no one wants to look at while eating. At least I don't want to.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Babes in Squirrel Lane

Now that the house tour is behind me I have more time to hang out with friends . Yesterday some of the neighborhood gals headed over to the Diamond and took in a Flying Squirrel Game. If you don't know, the Flying Squirrels are Richmond's new double A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. There is often a 10:30 a.m. game -- we left the neighborhood at about 10:15 and at 10:30 we were in our seats watching the last of the warm ups. Another reason to love living here. We sat, thanks to my friend with season tickets, practically on the field.

In addition to great baseball, there is a steady stream of entertainment from the mascot, Nutzy, as well as people in large plastic bubbles playing lawn bowling, dancing contests (we won a pizza for a spontaneous dance routine - I think we won as one friend was on crutches and she was twirling her crutches around) and several opportunities to catch t-shirts and hot dogs being thrown into the stands.

It was a glorious day for a ball game and the Squirrels beat the Altoona Curves after several extra innings - very exciting. I'm a new fan.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Tour Day

We're ready.

Above are some before shots of the yard - waiting for mulch.

Here it is this morning - what a glorious day for a house tour. Harvey doesn't realize he is about to go to his dog sitter for the day. The critters get a reprieve from his constant patrol.

Harvey - get down off the table. Jeez.

I made a quick trip to the wholesale florist yesterday.

Except for me.

We need to get out of here. Enjoy this gorgeous day.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Countdown to the Kitchen and Garden Tour - Part 2

A few posts back I mentioned that I was going off to the paint store to buy turquoise paint for the shed's door and shutters. Harry loved the old crusty paint but it was a little too rough for my taste. I fell in love with a shutter color of a house I admire on Monument Avenue so I've attempted to put a little of that in my garden. Painting the shed's opening was first on my "to do" list for this weekend.

This was my first attempt:I knew right away it wasn't right - way too light and bright for the crusty shed shutters. Then I decided that I didn't want the door and the shutter all the same color so - back to the paint store again. This is not a chore - I love the paint store and all the people that work there. I've also been influenced by my next door neighbor's screen - I love to look out my kitchen window at it (and my Westie plant bracket which reminds me of my first dog, Lambchop). Here's what I wound up with:Ahhhhhhh - much better. I did the gecko mosaic in a class at my friend Bonnie's studio in Vienna Virginia - Maverick Mosaics.

Another fun chore was hanging the flag pole bracket so that the flag that advertises the event can go up and hang there this week.

I need to make a couple more trips to the nursery for more potted plants. That really could go on forever - I need to decide where to stop.

Our very nice neighbors gave us a load of hostas. Hostas don't really like being transplanted so late in the game - hopefully they'll perk up before Sunday.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Countdown to the Kitchen and Garden Tour - Part 1

The annual Fan Woman's Club Kitchen and Garden Tour is a little over two weeks away and it seems like every time I turn around I add something to the "to do" list - which is only in my head - I'd better start writing it down. One thing I checked off is to get a new light fixture for the Living Room. When we purchased Haven there was a charming 1970's track light with several huge cans hanging from it. I think you could have gotten a tan sitting under it. Back in December while painting that room I got Harry to take it down - leaving a gaping hole in the ceiling.

But what to put there? I've been holding on to this shot of a Darryl Carter room for a while. Darryl Carter, Photo by Simon Upton for Elle Decor

I've been trying to make my Living Room feel more contemporary - not an easy task with great grandma's sofa and chairs, Uncle Dan's secretary and a marble top tea table cut down to make a coffee table. But the basic bones are there - sofa (reupholstered in white linen last year) between two tables, and a fireplace on the adjoining wall with contemporary art over the mantel. Now I just need to find some great old shutters and have Harry make me that table (that's on another "to do" list). Darryl's space doesn't seem to have a light fixture in it so I'm on my own. I went off to Shades of Light to see what they had that could be cash and carry.

Immediately upon entering I see a possibility.
I love a beaded chandelier - but is this contemporary enough? Am I seeing it coming and going too much? Never mind, it's a Niermann Weeks fixture and even with my trade discount I can't go there.
I love this one, too, but guess what - its another Niermann - and here's another:I'm beginning to see a pattern. After walking around and around, trying to ignore the Niermann's, I kept coming back to this fixture: I loved the finish and the shades were growing on me. There is just enough whimsy to make it contemporary without looking out of place with great grandma's furniture. If I grown tired of the shades I can remove them down the road.
Then the sales person told me that a woman who's house is on the Garden Tour was in earlier and was thinking about purchasing it. That did it. It was probably one of those sales techniques that they use on people like me and I hate to say it but it worked. Has this ever happened to you? She told me I could take it home on approval so if buyer's remorse kicked in later I could bring it back. The electrician came last week to hang it so I guess it's mine.

The rest of the interior of Haven is ready except for flowers and a good last minute cleaning. Now the outside - that's another story. Better go write my list.........................

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More on Why I Love Virginia

After a long week of traveling for work and cleaning the house in preparation for a big dinner I needed a day with nothing to do but walk with my best buddies, Harry and the dogs. I pulled out our trusty volume of 60 Hikes Within 60 miles Richmond and picked a hike in a state park not too far from here - Chippokes Plantation State Park. Chippokes is one of the oldest working farms in the United States and is located in Surry County right on the James River. The pastoral environs of Chippokes Plantation State Park are positively evocative. It’s easy to imagine Native Americans paddling a canoe through the lush wetlands where Chippokes Creek meets the James or to imagine early settlers tending the nearby fields of corn and wheat

We started out on the College Run Trail which is a paved 1.5-mile trail that connects the recreation area with the historic area where you pass by the River House and mansion as well as some Guinea Hens on the loose. The James River and Lower Chippokes Creek trails are dirt farm roads that connect with College Run Trail. This part of the trail led us down to the creek - I wished I had my kayak with me.
The poodle got some off lead time - sorry Harvey - you're not to be trusted.
After a return on the creek trail we headed out on the James River Trail and had about a mile walk along the beach. Millions of shells are scattered in the sand on the shore of the James. I can't ever resist the opportunity to pick up a few.

We only saw six other people the whole time we were at the park. Just what I needed. We thought briefly about returning via the Jamestown Scotland Ferry which is a free ferry service across the James but were fearful of running into all the tourists that stay on that side of the river visiting Jamestown and Williamsburg and therefore causing traffic headaches on I-64. We returned via Route 10 and hardly saw another car. Before leaving Surry we stopped for a country ham sandwich at Edwards of Surry. Here's an except from the New York Times. It was deeelishous. And I'm sure I've now had my salt needs met for about a month.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Week of Wisteria

When we purchased Haven I was so excited that there was a very mature Wisteria vine on the trellis in our back yard. However, when spring came around there were very few blossoms and I was very disappointed and not sure why it didn't really bloom.

About a week and a half ago Harry said - "look at the wisteria" - so I glanced out the window and saw hundreds of blossoms about to burst. According to a neighbor, the previous owner had whacked the heck out of it before putting the house on the market and it needed a year to recover.

Here it is about to burst - the azalea gets the short shrift.
The poodle likes it, too.
Here it is at peak.
Wish I could post the fragrance - it was very strong.

This photo was taken this morning - the petals are dropping and the color seems to have faded. So has the fragrance. I really wish it could stay around longer to keep us company. I love almost everything about it. I love the word, "wisteria". I love its soft shade of lavender, the aroma it lets off is intoxicating, I haven't tried to eat it but the bees sure love it. HOWEVER, how could something so beautiful also be so deadly? Its next door neighbor - the crepe myrtle is being slowly choked to death. Harry is going to have to get up there and save her so that I can enjoy her blossoms later in the summer. Another item on the "honey do" list.

I can almost hear Myrtle gasping for air.