Monday, March 30, 2015

Printing on Parchment

I spent all afternoon drawing some small charlottes for runner eraser prints that I will be dropping into places on the large block.  I tried printing the little blocks on the flesh side of a parchment page.  The stamp ink worked fine.  I did not prepare the parchment in any way.  I also taped the drawings that I had transferred to the rubber eraser blocks.  Then I carried the book while walking in the woods and drew tulips and jonquils from the front garden on my way and then unfurling Mayapples and fiddleheads along the trail.  There are hundreds of Mayapples out there this year!  Small umbrellas.  Love the geometry of the great unfurling!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Very Old Apple Orchard

There's a very old apple orchard at the beginning of one of the trails up Jones Mountain.   It was there at the time the college bought the north face of the mountain, around 1920, and in recent years efforts have been made to revive the trees.  This year there are a good number of blossoms coming.  Here are the stages they seem to go through.  More terminal buds that look like Byzantine pulpits.

The yellow stain above 4312 is a drop of sap from the yellow celandine plants that are popping up in my front garden.  This golden sap was one of the pigments used as a substitute for gold in Medieval manuscripts when the budget didn't allow for real gold leaf.  I learned about this plant at the Medieval garden at the Cloisters in Manhattan, and for a few months after that I searched for examples of the plant in botanic gardens, garden centers, etc.  Then one day I realized the celandine poppy in my garden was the very plant I was looking for.  It comes back every year, but it needs to start bearing its flowers before the sap is plentiful.  I'm curious to try it out on parchment!
Drawing 4317 is one of a whole gathering of bloodroot plants along the trail today.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

It's Slow Going on Parchment

I sat down at my computer late last night to scan and post part of this spread (tiny kale, onions, and grape hyacinths from the square foot garden) , and the screen refused to open.  I tried power surging, no good.  The screen was frozen on the apple icon.  So at around 10:45 PM I called iYogi, and happily the tech support guy was able to clean things up and magically resurrect this ancient computer one more time.  He also gave me tips for closing down so that programs are not still running in the background that then gum up the works when I try to open back up.  I love iYogi and recommend it to everyone who needs tech support from time to time and doesn't feel like dragging the computer in to a shop where it will sit for a week and come back maybe fixed and maybe not but in any case with a large service charge attached.  You subscribe to iYogi and then call them as often as you need help and there is no further charge unless you have to buy an upgrade of a piece of hardware like the external hard drive that I finally broke down and bought.  They also fix printers, scanners, iPhones, and anything else that's connected to your computer.

Anyway, here are more drawings in the parchment journal.  This time I rubbed whiting onto the left hand side and a little to the right hand (flesh) side.  
I drew the watermelon radishes today.  The two on the left were done on the hard greasy hair side of the page with no calcium carbonate.  The ink beaded up and watercolor was impossible.  On the right, also hair side, I rubbed whiting (calcium carbonate) in before painting, and the paint took pretty much like it does on paper.  So the surface preparation is important, at least when using pen and watercolor.  I do love the look of this side of the skin.  I just rubbed the powder on, with no water, because parchment reacts quickly to water by buckling and curling.  The watercolor was fairly dry, almost gouache-y feeling.  It's difficult to overpaint the watercolor without lifting the underneath layer.  Maybe that would work better if the first layer of paint were completely dry.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Drawing on the Hair Side of Parchment

This is the hair side of parchment.  The surface is beautiful, intricately patterned;  but it's hard to draw on with my black waterproof pen.  This side feels slick and greasy in places, almost plasticky.  I did a little research and found out that calcium compounds such as calcium carbonate can be used to remove the grease.  To make it smooth, thin pastes of lime, flour, egg whites and milk can be rubbed onto the surface.  I have some calcium carbonate and will try rubbing some onto the next hair side page and see what difference that makes.  I don't want to obscure the pattern, so will skip the thin paste.

I like the look of the hair side, and with careful attention to pen strokes it's possible to draw on the unprepared surface.  It takes a long time, though, and I only had time to make two drawings tonight-- a sea horse skeleton from a Chinese medicine shop and a bone that I found on the beach at Lake Michigan one summer, possibly a seagull bone.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Drawing on Real Parchment

A few years ago I needed to buy two goat skins to make parchment straps for the binding of an edition of 125 books.  I had about half of one skin leftover, so I made a sketchbook out of the parchment.  And then I made two or three sketches in the book but felt like I needed to save this book for something worthy of its sumptuous pages;  so the book has sat untouched on a shelf in my studio for seven years.  Today I needed a new book, and my eye fell on the spine of the parchment book.  Why on earth not?  And truly this is the most lush and pleasant surface ever.  These two facing pages are made with the flesh side as opposed to the hair side of the skin,  and they're softer and empty of all pore marks.  The verso, which I'll draw on tomorrow, will be the beautifully marked and slightly harder hair side.  I felt compelled to squash things up a bit, don't want to waste any of this material.  I may experiment with scraping off mistakes in the manner of a medieval manuscript illuminator, drawing right over any palimpsest that remains after the scraping.

I didn't bother to prepare the surface at all, no sizing or gums rubbed in, no smoothing.  I'm not even sure how to do that.  Ink and watercolor sit nicely on this unprepared surface, but I will research the traditional preparation and if I can, will try it out and compare.

The drawings are of an acorn planting itself, its inside coloration turned caput mortar;  and more of those elaborate terminal buds: those column tops and finials and Baroque pulpits, those reliquaries and ciboria.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Metal Fish, a Byzantine Bud

At F's house today while we were working on organizing our materials depot, I spied a little metal fish, curved slightly, dark grey metal with verdigris in the lines that were incised in it.  Then later, with everything organized and in a place of perfection, we went walking around her garden and I collected some twigs.  The most elaborate was a terminal bud on an oak-leaf hydrangea (4291 and 4292 as well as 4287 and 4389).  This bud looks like a shrine, a finial on a Renaissance four-poster bed, a holy-of-holies of some kind, the pulpit in a Byzantine cathedral.  As a bonus it has bright orange trim, softly furry surfaces, and a perfect leaf scar, also orange and with seven dots.  I want one of these plants just so that I can watch the unfurling of these buds while sitting under the branches in the moonlight.

Monday, March 23, 2015

How Those Charlottes Have Ended Up

 Tonight's drawing's are sections of the woodblock that I carved of the charlottes playing after dark.  I printed the block today then painted in the greens and blues and drew some lines that run through the print.

 They're not arranged here in any order.  The block is a rectangle around 9 x 13".


Next step is to do a color separation and carve a second block to overprint the greens and blues.
 It's going to be a short edition, 20 probably;  so it's entirely possible to print only the line block and then hand watercolor each one.  Takes about 15 minutes to spot in the colors.  Have to decide how I want the surface to look in order to make that decision.

Stay tuned for the complete and assembled print in a couple of weeks.



Sunday, March 22, 2015

RIP Little Frog

Jacob wanted to see the frog eggs and tadpoles; so this afternoon he and I went down to the pond.  The sky was low and heavy, but there was still light enough to see many tadpoles swarming around the leftover egg gelatin.  I sketched a couple of them while he took some photographs.  Then he spotted something white bobbing around in the masses of eggs.  We got a stick and tried to fish it out, and it turned out to be a small frog, very dead, trapped in the egg masses.  Could it possibly have died from drowning?  I know wood frogs live on land but are able to hold their breath for a long time.  Those egg masses are very gelatinous and it maybe got caught and couldn't surface in time.  We felt sad that in the midst of those teeming wiggling tadpoles was a sad little dead frog.  Jacob took pictures and I drew it;  then J placed it on top of a cement globe that stands at one end of the first pond at the edge of the drive.  His image goes far beyond mine, especially in terms of expressive content and selective focus.  He will post it as soon as he gets a chance, which should be in a couple of days.
Afterwards we walked across the field to the old well that I found a couple of weeks ago.  The darkening light and wind made the well in its field look ominous.  That thing needs a better cover before any more cows are let loose to graze in the field--

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Lambies, a Donkey, Bulls, Cows and Calves, and a Blind Pig

Maya and I went down to the field where all the baby animals are this morning to see what we could see.  Lambs were dancing and jumping, mama sheep chomping on new green grass, the watch donkey sauntering over to be greeted.  Meanwhile three enormous bulls were stomping and pawing the ground across the drive from the sheep field, and across the road were dozens of calves and their mamas.
Maya said, "We need butterflies!"  The lambs sounded like kittens, and the sheep ba-a-a-a-ed back to them.  The bulls snorted and yelled, and their yells echoed across the valley.
Tonight P and I went to a Blind Pig dinner, an amazing event that is held in Asheville every few weeks.  You buy a ticket for a dinner on a theme;  ours was a gift from E and K, and the theme they chose for us was Origins:  The Evolution of Cuisine.  The location was not divulged until the Thursday before the dinner, and we didn't actually get the email that was sent to us because my spam folder grabbed it.  I had gotten the idea that we were supposed to meet at the center of town at 6 PM, but when nobody else was there by 6:10 I called E to find out if he had a contact number for the organizers.  He suggested looking in my spam folder, which I couldn't get into on my phone;  so he went into it and found the errant email and told us to get on over to an antique shop on the river road, which we did.  There we found around 60 people having a cocktail hour featuring beer mostly and long tables set up the length of the antique place.
Details of the dinner, which was curious, delicious, unexpected, unique;  drawing 4273 is of an iron antlered deer's head that was our table's centerpiece, viewed from the bottom.
Each course was served on a small plate and beautifully presented.  Some of the courses looked like things we used to make when we played restaurant as kids-- a tiny, immature radish sprinkled with what looked like dirt and dipped in buttermilk-- completely delicious.  Others had small portions and bites of exotic ingredients paired with unlikely but perfect other ingredients.  The dinner was filmed by the food channel, so the tv crew was there but unobtrusive during most of the evening.  A blue grass band played all night, and a man at our table shared beer from his small craft brewery with all of us-- great chocolate and cherry oatmeal porters, peanut butter and jelly sandwich beer, etc.  Fabulous!  A three-hour long dinner in America with bijou servings and no doggy bags!

Friday, March 20, 2015

On the Table at Critique

The table at critique group this morning , a visual feast.  In-progress pieces, fragile, tentative beginnings, almost-hatched projects, finished work on its way to exhibitions-- at top left several copies of L's digital edition all but finished but needing a little design input;  below that two utilitarian objects, M's glasses folded and no longer being used so much;  M's notebook;  at bottom, part of one of F's projects-- paper that he made from okra last year and then printed the Cherokee words for Red and White on, before burying it under leaves along a trail in the forest-- now being used in a book that will document the installation.  On the right, H's in-process ceramic and wire piece, up for discussion and troubleshooting.
On this page some of M's finished paper mache painterly sculptural pieces on their way to exhibit, and stuck in at the bottom a fragment from the rubbing I brought that was made from the carved block for my night game piece.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tiny Fallout from Massive Re-Organizing

F and I spent all day today reorganizing our completely stuffed materials depot.  After four years of PieceWork Wallets & Things, our inventory of materials had grown to scary proportions and so we set to the job today.  In the course of looking through all the thousands (literally ) of old buttons, webbing straps, hardware, sewing supplies and recyclable bags, these treasures came to light.  

At top left is a lapel pin, a prize for writing 60 words/minute in shorthand.  This one was fake copper, and we also found a silvery one for 100 words/minute.  To its right is a button covered with smudgy pink crochet, and to the right of that is a green- pea- sized metal button with minute engraved lines.  At the far right is a sparkly cut- glass button, tarnished but with exquisite detailing around the rim.

In the middle at the left is an old bone button.  This one and the next ones came in a dusty mason jar that I bought for $3 at the Tobacco Barn when we first started our project.  This is the crustiest, rustiest, most home-made group of buttons ever.  Numbers 4248 and 4249 are both drawings of the backsides of cloth-covered buttons.  The centers are filled with thick stitching instead of a loop or regular drilled holes.  4248 looks like a uniform button to my untrained eye-- a serious brown metal button with letters stamped on the back;  4249 must be a women's coat button as it is covered with heavy pink cloth and has a painted back.

In the middle is a strange tool (4245) that I can't figure out at all.  The weight at the bottom moves up and down the bent wire part.  This object was rattling around in an otherwise empty tin box.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Exciting Leaf Scars!

I don't think very many people get excited about leaf scars.  I didn't know what they were much less have any interest in them until I took a class called Nature Study when I was finishing my undergrad art degree.  The class was a botany class I think;  all I remember from it was that we had to make moss gardens in large jars, that we went out into the winter woods and dug sassafras root and made sassafras tea by boiling the bark of the roots, and that I made a dichotomous key for identifying trees in winter using their leaf scars as the identifying feature.

So in the failing light after dinner on this somewhat gloomy day I went out to the little woods behind our house and clipped some twigs.  I haven't looked at a leaf scar for so many years, but there they were, perfectly shield-shaped and dotted with little circles where veins entered the leaves from the twig.  The leaf scar is a dehiscent (weak) area between the leaf stem and the twig where the leaf detaches when it's time to do that.  As you can see from this collection, each kind of tree has its own characteristic leaf scar.  Some are as small as the head of a pin;  others, such as the walnuts, are 1/4' across or bigger.  Fruit trees have nice pronounced leaf scars, but we don't have any in our yard.  Some scars are narrow and wrap around the branch more;  others look like paint palettes.  In spring the new buds grow directly above leaf scars.  The best time to spot the scars is on a leafless tree in winter.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Caput Mortuum for Spring: Maple Twigs and Raspberries

Have you ever noticed that one of the earliest colors to emerge in spring is that purply brownish red of red maple leaves, raspberry canes, peony shoots, wild rose buds?  Caput Mortuum, which translates from Latin as "head of death" is a name given to that color.  Caput, which meant "head" in the original Latin, went through several changes, as words always do.  In German camp slang "kaputt" meant "wrecked or broken or dead".  Somewhere along the way, Goethe is said to have stated that because that early spring color of red maple blossoms signals the death of winter [i.e. death],  caput mortuum was indeed an appropriate  name for that brownish red that is really quite prevalent in early spring.

The actual pigment that is called caput mortuum is a hematite iron oxide, iron oxide being a residue of oxidation.  It was called caput mortuum as were other residues of alchemy that were seen as useless. Caput mortuum was a popular pigment in the 16th and 17th centuries to use in painting the robes of religious figures.  It was also sometimes made from ground up mummies, perhaps another reason for the death's head reference in the name.

Today's drawings are of some caput mortuum colored red maple twigs, raspberry canes, cyclamen, and peony shoots, all labeled to identify their parts.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Dregs of the Meeting

This is not as interesting as the woodpecker, but nothing that interesting came into my life today.  So I've made do with the things left on the table at my journal group meeting tonight.  Great place to meet, the Battery Park Champagne Bar and Book Exchange.  Be sure to visit it when you're in Asheville!  Right downtown, great used books, good food and drinks, perfect place for all kinds of meetings and get-togethers.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

R.I.P. Little Woodpecker

It really wasn't Jesse's doing that this beautiful red-bellied woodpecker lay dead on the edge of our English-ivy-covered side yard this afternoon.  My first thought was Evil Jesse! but then I noticed the bird was unruffled and calm looking with absolutely no explosion of feathers, the telltale clue that Jesse has been indulging his feral twin.  I've never seen such an intricately patterned bird close up and perfectly still, its only motion a slight fluttering of its rump feathers in the breeze.  I sat next to it in the sunshine, so warm and buttery, and drew it for so long that I felt like I knew this bird.  It was patterned like a Byzantine mosaic, the top and back of its head vermillion, and it had a light tan face.  Do birds just drop out of the sky sometimes?  I know they sometimes kill themselves by flying into windows, but there was no window nearby and no sign of any kind of violence.  Jesse ambled over but wasn't even curious about the bird, just rubbed up against me and sauntered off to help P clean the front flower bed.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Poor Chicken!

Poor Garden Chicken is falling apart.  I love this little tin chicken.  It has stood on various garden fences and among my plants for twelve years.  A dear friend gave it to me when we moved to this house;  originally it had a metal stick, like a piece of wire coat hanger, coming out of its belly so that it could be poked into the ground at whatever height made it seem to be pecking things out of the plants.  Then a few years ago the stick fell out and I started tying chicken to the pieces of old fencing that I use as trellises.  When I cleaned out the square foot garden yesterday to plant snow peas I noticed that chicken no longer has two legs.  Luckily the fallen leg was still in the garden, and I brought both chicken and leg into the house.  Close inspection showed me that chicken's paint is curling off in places, and I don't have the skills to solder that leg back on.

I don't know why I'm so attached to this piece of tin and rust and paint, but I think its next home is going to be on a wall inside,  maybe in the dining room next to some other primitive pieces.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Drawing Sheep in the Drizzly Chilly Afternoon

This afternoon M came over and we put on our rainy cold weather gear, including, for me, my shiny new red boots, and hiked down to the farm to check out the sheep, hoping to find a few new-born lambs.  Five enormous wooly sheep were sitting and standing in a cluster under some trees at the far end of the pasture while a light misty drizzle fell on us all.  The spots on this drawing are authentic raindrops.  The sheep in this pasture are NOT, it turns out, the mother sheep.  These are not pregnant but are separated out because they need to be sheared.  The lamb-bearing sheep are over near the white barn, inside of which we, unfortunately but understandably, are not allowed to go.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Nothing Says Spring Like Shiny Red Puddle Boots!

What?  More Charlottes?  YES!  Five new rejected charlottes from the source.  I am so happy to add these to the out-of-control colony of them on my drawing table.  I'm thinking about a permanent installation for them.
And in the same box with the charlottes, this beautiful ceramic statue from Haiti, and the happiest pair of rubber boots in the world!  They make me think of my grandmother's two old friends, ancient twins named Marcelle and Gaby, who sometimes came (wearing hats with veils and carrying large carpet-bag-like purses) on the streetcar to visit my grandmother, and the three of them spoke French all afternoon, which none of us kids could understand, while Marcelle and Gaby handed out presents to the kids.  One time they brought me a pair of red rubber boots, very similar to these, and told me they were called "puddlers" -- ["Alors!  Voici les poood- lay pour tu, ma cherie!"]  Thanks so much, F!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Metal Animals and Garrison Keillor

It was a day of miracles and wonders in a way.  This morning at the acupuncture clinic I noticed for the first time a beautiful bronze sculpture of a crane standing on a tortoise's back.  I whipped out my sketchbook and settled in to draw, but halfway through they called my name and I had to finish from the legs down from memory.  I am NOT good at drawing from memory, but somehow this time I was pretty good at doing it.

Then this evening P and I went to a Thai restaurant downtown for dinner and I noticed high up in a wall niche by our booth an odd metal incense burner shaped like a foreshortened horse.  I had only a few minutes to roughly sketch it and had to finish it from memory tonight.

 From dinner we walked over to the civic center to see Garrison Keillor on stage.  Our son D and his family had given us tickets for xmas.  We found out that our seats were in the orchestra section, so we followed a line of people who were better dressed than we were and sat down in very wonderful seats, close to the stage and a little off to the left.  Drawing 4181 shows the view from my seat of the stage as it was set up with two benches and a microphone in the middle.  Soon some people came into our row and told us we were in their seats.  We checked our tickets and it seemed we were in the right seats, but that the other people had been sold tickets for the same seats.  So we found an usher who looked at our tickets and said the other people were right, these were their seats;  ours were actually in the orchestra center.  Amazing.  This felt like being bumped to business class.  Drawing 4282 shows the view from our close-to-front-row center seats.
Garrison Keillor was brilliant and wonderfully funny.  He held the audience for nearly two hours by himself, talking casually, sort of like a prolonged News from Lake Wobegon.  I so wanted to draw him but it was too dark to draw.  So as soon as we got home I drew him from memory.  I think it's no longer hopeless for me to draw from memory!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Black Hole

Walking today in a field at the end of the frog pond trail I spotted a strange darkness under some dried grass.  As I got closer I could see what looked like an old well or a ruined cellar.  The entrance was about 6 x 6' square, bordered by stones;  several old boards were across the opening, but they looked like a cow had walked across what covering had been put there and crashed it.  I leaned over and dropped a stone in but it didn't seem to hit bottom.  I could see about six feet down into pitch black.  The walls of the tunnel were fuzzed with moss, and there was a rusty metal bar that looked like a part of a trapdoor.

What really surprised me was that I've walked in this field many times over the years and never seen anything like this.  Granted the grass is usually knee high, but a walker would certainly notice this makeshift cover.  There was evidence that cows had recently been in the field as the grass was very short and cow pies were all over.  I'm very glad I wasn't walking here in the dark.  I dragged some of the boards closer together to try to block the hole, but it really needs a better covering.  It's not on the campus, and the man who owns the field is rarely in evidence, lives at the top of the nearby mountain, and doesn't walk his fields.
 Tonight Jesse is lounging on my drawing table, so there's nothing to do but take advantage of his relative stillness and do some sketching.  And as I was doodling around I began to hear the high-pitched song of spring peepers in the ditch along the road out back!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Frog Eggs for Daylight Savings Time

Maya and I celebrated the return of Daylight Savings Time this evening by walking in the woods after dinner at 7:30.  We went down the trail to the frog ponds carrying a container for frog eggs, and sure enough, there were hundreds.  We carefully lifted one gelatinous clump and put it in the container.  We then had a fine walk home through the darkening woods, so happy to have the light still bright enough to walk so late in the evening. 

At home we stood the container under a bright light and I drew the eggs while Maya researched eggs.  We found a dichotomous key that led us through questions until we landed on Wood Frog, which we had suspected, but which was nice to have confirmed.  There are a few white eggs in this batch, and these seem to be unfertilized eggs that will quickly decay.  You can see some in 4160 and 4165 and 4163 and 4161.  Maya will take home these rescues and hatch them in an aquarium;  then when the tadpoles have developed legs and are coming out of the water onto a piece of wood that sticks out of the water, we will release them back into their natal pond so they can escape to the nearby woods.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Cyclamen Up Close

P brought home a pretty little cyclamen from the grocery this morning.  The intricacy of the flower and leaf buds is hard to see for the intense color.  Interesting how the petals fold back in an eccentric one-petal-flopped-down whorl. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Big Fluffy Sheep and Thousands of Frog Eggs

 What could be better than a bunch of big fat fluffy mama sheep sitting in mounds under the trees in a small green pasture under the spring sun, even if there was a thin, chilly wind slicing through the field?  My friend A and I did a mega walk, a little over 4 miles, by combining several trails through woods, fields, along the river, and down the breezy hill behind my house. 
We came home through the woods trail that goes past the two frog ponds so that we could check on the frogs.  Happily we found thousands of frog eggs clustered along the edge of one of the ponds in the shallow pond-weedy area.  Not a frog was in sight, no sounds, no rings in the water left by disappearing frogs;  but they've left behind a healthy-looking crop of tadpole eggs for sure.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Scones and the Frogs' Wedding

The same cold gray rainy weather that sent me flying home this afternoon with a burning need to make scones (yes, ME, make scones, and they were really good!)  was exactly the day that was perfect for sending the wood frogs down to their mating pond for what P and I call the frog wedding.
The wedding actually started yesterday before the rain moved in, and today was prime wedding weather.  All I could see were rings in the water marking the spots from which frogs had disappeared as I approached the pond (4137).  In a few days eggs will lace the edges of the two ponds in the grasses that grow there.  Based on the loud quacking sound that I could hear from quite a distance down the trail, these are wood ducks.  There are also southern leopard frogs around here, so I drew one from a photograph.  But I believe the frogs in the pond are the wood frogs (4136).  Their mating ritual is described as an "explosive synchronous migration", and that's a great description.  Apparently the adults hibernate in the woods near the fish-free pond (which is for most of the frogs their natal pond) in shallow depressions under the soil until just the right combination of temperature and precipitation wakes them up and draws them to the pond.  This is supposed to be a good year for amphibians with the very wet winter and presence of a large number of ephemeral ponds.  Frogs need to mate in fish-free ponds because fish are predators of their eggs and tadpoles. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


After three months of glacial progress,  our amaryllis shot up leaves and a double blossom last week.  And then, like a damp firecracker, it fizzled, turned into a dud, a shoo-shoo.  What had finally looked like a true amaryllis bud revealed itself to be mostly hollow with a few dried out papery proto-flower parts. 

I had started thinking shoo-shoo when I noticed that one of the hyacinth buds in our latest bulb pot was small and only partly developed.  I dug around a little deeper inside the one bud that didn't seem be progressing and found the dried up stump shown in 4125.  I then wondered if that slow-moving amaryllis bud could be a shoo-shoo too.  The rest of these drawings show the withered dried out thin papery flower parts that didn't make it.  There was no evidence of insect damage or mildew,  just undeveloped dessicated almost transparent petals.

I learned the word shoo-shoo in New Orleans when I was a child.  We kids used to go outside on the 5th of July and poke around in the gutters to look for shoo-shoos-- fireworks that had ignited but then fizzled out.  We considered a shoo-shoo to be a lucky find because they were mostly intact, and we knew that if we dried them out completely we would be able to light them and they would explode!  We never, ever succeeded in exploding a shoo-shoo, but that didn't keep us from hunting for shoo-shoos in the wake of every holiday involving fireworks.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Snow Drops and Farm Eggs

A pot of snow drops that a friend gave us is ready to pop into bloom from its neglected corner of the garden.  I love the lengthening light and warming temperature that let me sit down on a garden stone and sketch these at 5:30 PM after I came home from walking.  I balanced my container of three eggs across the top of another flower pot while I drew, and then drew the three eggs.  I had walked down to the college farm hoping to buy a dozen eggs, but someone else got there first, and the only eggs left were the three that the chicken worker found as we were walking over to the garden cabin.  Well three are better than none, and these three are so beautiful, especially the clay colored one that perfectly matches the red clay that abounds down near the chicken yard. 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Seeds and Nuts Redux

My alarmingly large collection of seeds, pods, nuts, hulls, hornet nest, fungi, and other memorabilia of summer and fall still adorns/litters the table on the back porch.  Many of the nuts and pods have changed over the winter; so today's drawings report on some of the changes.  The lovely orange palmetto palm fruit is still bright and only slightly withered.  Everything else is a shade of brown or tan.