Spring 2018

It is most definitely spring here at the Havens.  I went out today and walked around the yard, picking daffodils from along the street, in the labyrinth, behind the rock garden, in front.   It is really wonderful to have so many out there, I don’t even notice they are gone from the huge clumps I have.DSCF6598

It has been a pretty weird few weeks here.  Jim has gone off to Wisconsin to help one of his good friends while he was having his knee replaced.   He has been gone for three weeks and there are two to go before he comes home.  It isn’t until your partner is away that your REALLY remember just exactly how much they do to help.   Well, at least I notice that MY partner is not here…

It is pretty time consuming to have to do everything.   It really is time to plant potatoes, and I have my potato starts cut and scabbed.   Since we decided we wanted to try growing them in the compost pile, I needed to turn the compost pile.  That doesn’t sound like much of a job until you realize that it is over 2 cubic yards of compost.   I got it done.

I also went out and checked my pea seeds.  The plants had not shown up yet and I was worried that the wonky weather had resulted in the seeds rotting in the ground.  I know that it is not really considered best management practice to dig up your seeds, but I needed to know if it was going to be necessary to replant.   Nope!   The peas I came across had sprouted well, and I expect to see them up out of the ground in a couple of days.

I also got the onion/lettuce bed prepared today.  I wound up being too tired to finish off the job, so tomorrow I am going to plant the onion plants I have waiting in the kitchen, and sew some lettuce and mesclun.

And so the gardening season begins…



I fully expected to see crocuses this morning, since they have been out for several days.  They were there, but since it is a cloudy day they have their flags furled.

But down in the front garden, I was very surprised and pleased to see that the Jack Frost mini daffodils are blooming.   Needless to say, I had to go pick one (there are lots out there).  When I went about the yard looking for other blossoms to accompany it, I found snow drops and a hellebore that is almost out.

Last night I heard spring peepers too.

We took Jim off to the airport in St. Louis on Wednesday so he could catch a more or less early flight to Wisconsin on Thursday morning.

I drove home in the rain on Thursday morning and it proceeded to continue raining off and on until today.  This beautiful Sunday dawned crystal clear and frosty, but now the sun is shining, the bees are out foraging and the crocuses are blooming.

All told we received over 7 inches of rain in those three days, and that made the yard impressively wet.  Ruby really didn’t see any reason she should go Out There in All That Mud, but I knew that her bladder and bowels needed to empty, and so I insisted, much to her dismay, I might add.

I did go out and take a few pictures in the rain.  I’m sure it must have been an amusing sight if anyone had seen me juggling my  umbrella and the camera in the downpour.  The wonderful Fuji digital that I use may be old and starting to have wonky switches, but it still works and I did not see any good coming out of drenching it in the name of documenting the deluge.

Yesterday afternoon, the labyrinth looked like this:


Today, less than 24 hours later, it presents a very different mien.


I did zero in on one very wet clump of crocuses that was courageously trying to convince everyone that it really is spring, even though we have yet to cross the vernal equinox.

DSCF6583Those game little flowers are a whole lot happier today.  And amazingly enough, they did not drown.


In case you are wondering what the bees are finding to forage for, there are crocuses (obviously).  But there are also bluets up, and the henbit is going to be in full bloom by tomorrow.  The witch hazel is in full bloom too, and so the honeybees are busy replenishing their stores.


This weekend we had a belated 90th birthday celebration for my mother.  One of my cousins from Delaware and his wife made the trek, so we had a mini-reunion.  The obligatory “x # generations” picture was taken, in this case four.  My mother, myself, my son and his two children.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe opportunity presented itself for some play…  I really don’t think the following pictures require much explanation.   The audience was my cousin and his wife, my brother was the photographer.



The following is probably my favorite shot…




The snowdrops are out today.   They have been out for at least 10 days.

A week ago Sunday (I think), we had a fine sunny day and they decided it was an optimum time to bloom.  Within two days, it got very cold, temperatures down in the teens.   They tucked their heads down and held on.

Then it warmed up a bit last Wednesday and Thursday.  They perked up.

The next day, the bottom dropped out of the temperatures again.  But it didn’t get so cold that we couldn’t achieve freezing rain.   Last Saturday, Sunday and part of Monday these flowers were coated with about a quarter of an inch of ice.   Nevertheless, they persisted.

Monday the ice started melting, and it continued to gradually warm up all week. Yesterday it got into the sixties, and today we reached a high of 78 degrees.   And so the snowdrops are merry.

They are joined in the party by a flock of early crocuses that popped up all over the lawn this afternoon.   There were two or three blooms yesterday, but today there are dozens.

It is sprinkling this evening.   And rumor has it that it is supposed to get cold again forthwith.

This weather is giving me whiplash.


I have been doing art journals for quite a while now.  I stumbled into the whole idea about ten years ago, got excited and then lost interest.   Then I started haunting YouTube and discovered the joy of mixed media.

There were tons of videos out there demonstrating techniques and products.  The variety of media that was available was mind boggling.   I had never heard of ink sprays…  or Pitt pens…  or alcohol inks…  or glitter glues…

It did not bother me that there were folks out there demonstrating products that they had for sale.  The information that I was getting about how to use different mediums was valuable to me.   I was inspired to buy products, too, which I am sure made the vendors happy.

One of my favorite sources for products for my art journaling activities is Joggles.  It seems like they carry just about anything your little heart could desire.   A big plus is that if you have questions about any of their products they are quick to answer and are friendly and knowledgeable.   The only problem is that they have become very popular, and quite often when they introduce and new product it sells out PDQ and if you are behind the eight ball you wind up having to wait…  So much for instant gratification!

At any rate, I recently was inspired to create a mini accordion book.  Several months ago I purchased a couple of these, and they have been rattling around in my desk drawer ever since, waiting for inspiration to strike.

This is how the little book looked right after I put the accordion folds into the long strip of water color paper.


(Sorry for the mess on my desk.   It isn’t going to get any better, so I hope it isn’t too distracting.)

I had an idea for a theme, so I went into my stash of collage images that I have collected from various magazines and catalogs, and found some images I wanted to use, and started thinking about how to arrange them on the book.  I printed out my quotation on my computer as well.


Next, I used Tim Holtz’s “Wrinkle Free Technique”  to put some background color on the pages.  I used the Distress Oxide inks in the picture to put color on.


I think it looks really cool.   Here is a close up of one of the pages.  I got really crazy with my star stamp and gold ink as well as the ink splashing.


Next I used the new Joggles 6×6 stencils to put another layer on.  The first one I used was Leaf Fronds.  I used Cosmic Shimmer gilding polish in Pearl.  Just wow.


Next layer was Silver Hessian Gilding polish through Elegant Scroll.   I wasn’t that crazy about the results of this, but I have learned that the happy accidents that happen during art journaling are not disasters, and I moved on.


Next layer was accomplished by putting several different Prima art alchemy opal magic paints through the Ziggy Zag stencil.


Okay, you can’t really see it in that photo, I know.   But oh my, how much I love these iridescent paints.   I love them so much I have every color combination available, and the way they change color as you turn the page enchants me.  This one is violet gold.

Now the fun begins.   I decided that the paper I printed my saying on was way too white, so I sprayed it with Lindy’s Starburst Spray in Bells of Ireland green.   Had to be REALLY careful there, as the printer ink is water soluble.   After spraying, I set it aside to dry very carefully.  As I was attaching the sentiment, I learned that you must not lick your fingers to make the little pieces of paper easier to pick up, or there WILL be smudging.

I cut hearts out of painty paper I made last year, as well as from alcohol ink experiments.   I also chose random bits from my stash for other embellishments, and took out some of my butterfly embellishments (made in November).

I spent a while arranging my words and images.  The orange sun in the one below was part of my stash.  I was playing with alcohol inks one day, putting them through stencils after watching an inspirational video by Barb at Joggles.  I could not bear to throw away this result, and it has been rattling around in my embellishment stash for quite some time.   Hah!   Serendipity at work.  It was perfect for my quote.


After due consideration. I attached my images to the prepared pages.   I used scor tape, a very powerful double sided tape that comes in several very useful widths, to attach the words, because I did not want to risk getting any wet medium close to them, knowing that there would be horrible smearing if they accidentally got wet at this stage.  The images were attached using quick drying tacky glue.


I purposely took a wide shot of this stage so you can see all the little backing pieces of the scor tape as well as the creative chaos on the desk.   You should see what the floor looked like…

Then I used Marabu fashion liner, stickles and Pitt pens to add some details throughout the book.

So, after all that, I folded up the little book and put a canvas back on it.  Decorated the front pages, attached a ribbon to tie it closed.   And now,  the finished book.







Here are a couple of close ups of my favorite page, showing the violet gold color change.



I made this book to give away, but I just don’t know if I can let it go.  It is really pretty…


Weather phenomenon


We had a pretty interesting Saturday and Sunday here at the Havens.  We were in the middle of the “winter weather advisory” that was in effect all over the MidWest region.  It was a nasty couple of days…  I really don’t like freezing rain very much!

We chose not to drive much of anywhere.   Even though we only got about a quarter of an inch of ice accumulation here, it was an equal opportunity coverage.   It wasn’t just that it was a freezing drizzle, it also incorporated some freezing mist as well, which meant that even under the carport the truck got a little dusting of ice.  Walking out onto the back porch was treacherous because of that little glaze.

But this morning we got a reward.  The sun came out!  It is all supposed to melt by this afternoon as the temperature rises.

This morning there was a short lived period of ice crystals falling out of the sky, and the sun was in just the right spot to make an ice crystal rainbow.   Sorry that the background of this is so urban and cluttered, but I had no real choice about where to point the camera in order to capture the faint glow of color as the breeze swirled the floating ice crystals around in the sun’s rays.

A sun dog came down from the heavens and explored our street.

Syncopated Eyeball

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Trailer Park Refugee

just three shots of tequila away from a bar fight....

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