E…scape

It’s that time of year again…

Garlic Scape Time

This year’s challenge was to minimize the effects of the Allium Leaf Miner pest which had completely decimated last year’s crop. I can’t even bring myself to revisit the pictures from that devastation, so google it yourselves if you are scientifically motivated.

The local Ag agents suggested covering the crop in the early spring before the creatures emerge. I tried three versions of that. In the cold frame bed featured below, I had the doors closed until mid-April.

In this back bed I used fleece to cover the plants, which the wind and weather rearranged frequently, so there were gaps in time when there would have been access. Image below shows windblown exposure.

In the third bed, (it’s starting to sound like the three little pigs here…) I used a screened tunnel. See garlic growing tall under that screen.

I harvested scapes from all three beds over the last three weeks or so. The bed shown above was curiously the last to form scapes. Possibly the full time cover slowed growth ?

Some test pulling of the plants showed those gnarly wee beasties had indeed begun their invasion. As was the case last year, the leaves were browning early and the bulbs were not forming, or were becoming deformed.

So, this week I yanked them all.

In bed one, 100% infestation. No bulbs were saveable.

In bed two, 60% infestation.

In bed three, the one with the 24/7 tunnel, almost all of the bulbs were untouched.

Out of about 200 plants, I now have close to 60 curing in the greenhouse. If there are some critters lurking within I may lose some of those, but it’s not a total loss.

On the principle of being given lemons… I decided to make lemonade.

Well…garlic scape butter.

I saved all the scapes, which were untouched by the bugs, and yesterday I got out the cuisinart !

The recipe is quite simple. Grind up the scapes, mix them into softened butter, put that into a ziploc bag and spread it thinly to force air out, then freeze. Then it’s easy to break off what you need as you go. It is especially nice to soften and use as the spread for Garlic Bread.

I had enough leftover minced scapes to add some lemon and olive oil and also freeze for later use in sauces and such.

Bonus tip, which I learned from an old blogger whose name I apologize for forgetting, you take the butter wrappers and stack and bag them up and also put in freezer to use as ready made greasers for pre-baking pans.

So, I started this blog yesterday, only to find that my website was down…again. A long frustrating day of dealing with my server resolved the problem late in the evening. When I sat down to write this entry today…down again.

They tell me it is fixed now, for good.

If you are reading this, then at least for now…it is.

You will be hearing more often from me now as we near the big opening for the Granary Gallery Show…This year that date will be August 5.

I’ve been working full tilt at the easel, almost non-stop since last November, and you’ll see the results very soon.

In the meantime, I hope your gardens are glorious, your souls are finding peace, and there is laughter in the air around you.

Stay tuned and stay frosty out there,

Heather

 

 

 


My summer vacation…

This summer we enjoyed a staycation. We had a blast at the Granary Gallery Show at the end of July… here’s a few pics from that week of fun

Then we returned to this little corner of the world wherein we toil and play…here are just a dozen or so pics out of the hundreds I took this year of the studio garden…note I had a helper this year, Kory, who did most of the heavy lifting…yeah !

There was a wonderful visit from Alex, who is probably banging on some drum at a band concert about now…

Kory and I built a new walkway, and he cleared us a beautiful view of our creek…

Zoe spent a week at Camp Gran and Mima, and was a terrific helper…

We taught her to play Clue…

Then we taught Arthur to play Clue…

We celebrated Andrew Wyeth’s 100th birthday with stamps and a trip to see his retrospective at the Brandywine River Museum…

We took in an O’s game with Doug and Scott…

I pretty much parked myself on the studio porch for weeks, and carved spoon after spoon and then got out the spinning wheel and spun my way through the last of the long locked lincoln fleece…

And we kept up the tradition…of opening and closing the season at Reeser’s…

I did a bit of commission painting somewhere in there, and a lot of wool gathering, in addition to the spinning…

Delayed by a hurricane or two, we have just finished packing the car…Finnegan’s followers will be just about as pleased as she was to know that her bed and bowls have been included… and tomorrow we head back to the island of Martha’s Vineyard.

An extended autumn stay to allow the muses to take me down some new roads, and listen to new stories, and refresh my soul.

So this is just to say,
that we are well,
we are grateful,
and we want you all to stay safe out there.

I catch you on the other side of the leaves…

 


Final Stretch

7th Inning Stretch

This is almost what my studio kitchen looks like today…

Add a kitchen table, stacks of art books and magazines,
two baskets of laundry, another row of teacup shelves,
a different iron, and a large bernese mt dog at my feet…

and you would be welcome to come join us
as we head into the final stages of preparing
to leave for the Granary Gallery show !

I left the ironing ’til last.
Despite my predilection for sweats and smocks,I do try to make an effort to look respectable
when I leave the studio and venture out into the real world.

And, while this heat dome is determined to hover over the east coast,
I am determined to let linen
keep what little air movement there may be…flowing.I’m halfway through the ironing.
For the last two hours, Finnegan has been laying in front of the air vent.

I needed a break, so I’m writing to say hey,
stay frosty out there my friends,
and island breezes…here we come !


Granary Gallery Show 2015

We have returned safely to the studio, and the GG2015 show moves into the exhibition stage. Every two weeks, during the summer, a new show opens and the granary elves play musical paintings and shift the artwork to make way for the new works. I took some photos, after the crowds dispersed, so you can see what a masterful job the gallery staff does in hanging the show.

solo

gallery gallery2

mass act smalls pedestrians mirror lite wash katama crow wolsey wharf trident
It has been a terrific start to the summer show season, with a satisfying double handful of red dots filling the walls. We return home to a triple digit heat wave and one very happy puppy to greet us. I had promised myself a week of uninterrupted gardening days, but with this weather I’ve turned up the A/C and brought out the quilting bag. The creative soul needs some rest but the hands…never.

Stay frosty out there and thank you all for your support.


The beginning of the theme…

Feathered Dreams

Feathered Dreams  –

Brrr…it was early in the winter of 2015.

A humongous box arrived at my studio door.
It held some things from my father’s house.
Way down at the bottom was a little zip lock bag.
Inside were six carved wooden figures.
Hmmm.
I’d never seen them before.
After my father’s death a few years ago, I uncovered many items and stories,
some of which were familiar history, and some of which were mysteries.
I found photos and writings about his grandparents
and knew that at least one of his grandfathers tinkered with wood.
So, I thought that maybe these were saved from his childhood.

Then the muses struck.
I called Pat, can you come over…now.
She threw on her coat and boots and slodged over to the studio from the log cabin.
I love writing log cabin.
Anyway, I bade her to lie down on the daybed…and take a nap.

I found the paper bag, filled with chicken feathers,
which Homer had collected for me last summer,
and I dumped them on her head.

Then I laboriously positioned the little chickens
and the little goose around her sleeping head.
Tucked in her red snuggy blanket,
Herself was content to model as long as I liked.
Until the feathers started…to tickle.
I managed to capture this image
just before…the sneeze.

When I was finished,
and the model was back in the log cabin,
and the feathers were corralled back into their paper nest,
I arranged the dear ones along the window sill next to my easel.

Finnegan came over to give me an eagle hug
and her tail swept the smallest bird onto the floor.
When I picked it up I noticed some writing on the underside…
Made in Indonesia.

With a sigh,
I put her back on a higher shelf…
and began to reinvent her past.


Feathered

It’s a wonderfully dreary start to the day before Thanksgiving in central Pennsylvania, the perfect weather for painting.

We, like so many in this land, have a large plucked bird in the fridge and are planning to roast it with most of the trimmings and be thankful. And I am, for many things. But today, I thought I’d concentrated on…the birds.

Watching them, feeding them, learning about them, painting them, and most of all the delight of coming upon the treasured gift of their feathers.

window

The studio is full of them. Collected over the years, their beauty astounds. With my new bionic knees I am back out on the trails, and the muses are back as well…

pheasant

After finding this beauty, I decided it was time to get serious about identification so I got this book…

book

Which I highly recommend. I’ve been pouring over it for days now. And the first one I spied was this one which recently made a supporting role appearance in this painting you might remember…

the master carvers tea

if you zoom in on the Jorgesen, that would be the clamp for you non-woodworkers, you will see the feather, which…every single one of the avian enthusiasts mis-identified. I have four of them which have been floating around here for years. But right there on page 91…

chukar

we see that it belonged to a Chukar !
Further research, at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, reveals that the Chukar is…
chukar web

A native of southern Eurasia, the Chukar was introduced into the United States from Pakistan to be a game bird. It lives in arid, rocky terrain across the western United States and southern Canada.
And then it hit me…I already knew that. Insert fading memory comments here as you will, but it all came back to me. Years ago, I’ll say 4, I found one perched on my studio garage roof. As you can see, it is a stunner of a bird so it caught my attention, but it is also not a local gal. I also seem to remember that, when first I googled this creature, there was mention of raising these smallish sized birds to release for hunters to take down with big guns, ( picture me here shaking my head in dismay).

The memory of finding the feathers is lost but, when I decided to take the leap to add that little bit of whimsy to Peter’s painting, it was after all a painting of Peter, the birdman of Plymouth, I didn’t have to look far to find the perfect candidate as these four feathers have been tucked into a little blue teacup behind my easel for lo those, I’ll say four, years now.

Above that easel is this display of painting and sketch and original model…

studio

vineyard-vanitas

And yes, the muses are right there over my shoulder of late…

peering

Cardinal Wolsey. The ever present window slammer of a bird, is still with me. I now believe she is more than just a disturbed bird. Pat and Finn met a woman at the park last week who, after hearing the story of the intrepid one, immediately suggested that she was someone who I had known who had “passed on” and did I know anyone in the clergy. Well I sat back in my chair at that one. Seriously, my father, the Presbyterian minister, returned as the slammer ?

woolsey

Possibly ?
I’m still pondering that one.
But this bird is definitely trying to tell me something. She now follows me from window to window and watches me all day long. Hurling Herself at the panes seems to diminish when I settle in at the easel. Then she just flies up and stares at me…the rubbernecker.

Well, ok, that part could be Ted. He is definitely nudging me to focus on painting…probably as I write this…which is taking time away from what I began this blog with…

that perfect painting day.

Well, the dreary rain has turned to our first snowfall of the season. The promise of a winter wonderland, a bird in the oven, one at the window, and two dozen at the feeders…that’s all I need of Thanksgiving.

And, this…to all my friends and patrons, whose support allows me to do the work that is so meaningful to my soul…

Thank you.

 

 

 


The Return

Ah dear readers, I am back.
The month of honeymooning was grand. The outpouring of kindness, generosity and celebratory enthusiasm stunned us both. It will take a month of sundays to write all the thank you notes and we are humbled and still smiling with the fun of it all.

Along with all the festivities, came a much welcomed block of time in which to creatively…rest.

There have been lots of times in my life, when I have been forced to take time off from the easel. There were years of interruptions and detours until I stepped off the “I’m going to be and artist” track and began to lift the brushes full time. Since the end of 2001 I have been going full tilt with the aim of making a living out of those brushes and as every self employed person understands, your success is measured in direct proportion to your willingness to show up.

There is, of course, a hell of a lot more than a good attendance record to making a living as an artist, and the balance of persistence, talent and sheer luck is best left to the muses to manage. The support of fantastic gallery owners, the investment of patrons, and a healthy dose of shameless self promotion help to keep the paints and canvas in stock, but what about the creative factor.

I get asked a lot at shows, “How do you come up with ideas to paint ?”
My usual answer is that I have more ideas than I have days left in which to work, and yep that is definitely true. I have never experienced the artist’s equivalent of a “writer’s block”…(insert painting just for the fun of it here )

Writers-Blocks

But, after a decade plus of intense focus with short controlled bursts of weeding and one or two actual days “off”, I found myself, at the end of this summer, in an entirely new place…sheer creative exhaustion. It sounds bloody narcissistic, and it definitely feels that way. Polly would have sharply admonished me to, “shake yourself together !”. Boy howdie did I try that…right up until the wheels of the plane lifted and we were airborne and headed to Albuquerque.

The ensuing month off, far away from the studio, provided a slow unpeeling of layers. Bathing in the  breathtaking kindness of true friends, bathing in an actual hot tub, bathing in beauty…hard core color and light…surrounded by new vistas and familiar landmarks, my eyes eventually eased.

It took more time than I imagined, to crawl up and out of that groove, but long about the three week mark the light bulb grew brighter. I remember the morning, when the amber light of the vineyard sunrise angled its way through the pall. I could actually breathe more easily. That crisp October air cleaned out the last of the cobwebs. Finn saddled up in the back of the car. Herself put the camera in her lap. I sharpened the pencil and readied the sketchbook, and off we went…

When I have been away from the studio, on one or another of those “detours”, there has always come a moment, a jolting grip at the core, a stunning urgency in which I simply can’t wait to get back.

Today, after I get home from taking Finn to see her doc about some clean teeth, there is nothing, for miles and miles, between me and the easel. The first panel is up, sketch is on, I laid the fresh paint on the panel minutes ago, audiobook fired up, thermos of hot tea next to the cup…and I am ready.

I’ll keep you posted as the winter progresses but know that, for now, I’m back.

 

 


Tis the Season…

heuters

Yes, I am painting.
Most of the hours of most of the days.
But the apprentice has lately been insisting on beauty breaks…

the finn

And, after the winter of discontent that we all shivered through, I am taking deep breaths of every single blooming flower in my garden..

beach rose

My beloved Beach Rose and irises and even the daisy that always reminds me of J O’H

white iris daisy

and, with a cart full of color, and a pair of sturdy gloves
I am taking full advantage of every single space between the brushes
to get outside and work in the dirt.
in waiting

Herself chuckles and grins as she reminds me of the day,
sometime in mid-January,
when I hung my winter weary head
and swore I was not going to do ANY gardening this year.

Certainly no new plants, and definitely not the heavy lifting of the vegetable beds.
No, I was going to keep that head down low and focus focus focus on the paintings.
And right up until about March I was right on track with that dark pledge and doing fine.

Then some plague germs bullied their way into the studio and I spent the next few months crawling out of a very deep hole of un-health. (Spell check didn’t like that last hyphen and neither did I.) Which has thrown some curve balls of perspective at me.

BUT… the veil has lifted.
(Insert a choir of angels here please)
and all verdant bets are off…
Life is so damned short and…
you simply can’t keep a gardener’s soul from a wheelbarrow filled with marigolds…

marigolds
And then there are those newly revised beds that I dreamed of through the wintery gauze of tissues…

new beds

and the annex to the asparagus bed that wants to try growing some beans this year…

asparagus bed

Everywhere I look there are things growing…

nest
wild chives

And chairs that call to sit a spell…

chairs

or swing…

sky chair finn

And so yes, I am painting, but I am also living large in the tiny corner of the planet that we are taming. And, when the brushes begin to whine, I settle back into my chair at the easel with a tiny token of the garden wonders to temp the muses…

sir bernard and the rose

May your paths be filled with clover
and strewn with beach rose petals…
now go out there and grab a trowel.