Ten Year Challenge

Today this sweet loyal generous companion bodyguard and all around champion of our hearts…is 10 years old !!!

That is a VERY special birthday for a Bernese Mountain Dog.

Our little Finnegan is a giver of love.
To everyone she meets.

A wise soul
a beautiful presence
part healer
come jester
my rugged apprentice
our tender minder
and bestest of pals.

Dear Dear Finn…we love you too.

I’ll take this ten year challenge and then some…

Solstice Gardening

A little dirt on your hands…in December ???

You bet.

I’ve been watching the forecast like a hawk and we’ve got a slight warming trend for the next week or so…averages above 40 and near 50 degrees. And coupled with the sunshine Finn and I headed out this morning to soak up some of that vitamin D, and I thought you’d like to join us.

In the photo above you can see those beds which Kory and I tucked in for the winter. The two in the foreground have some plantings and a cold frame. Let’s take a peak…

Under that tunnel on the right is an earlier fall planting of carrots. I invested in those tunnels for the first time this year and they are terrific. The manufacturer is Haxnicks. I went just now to Amazon to find a link but they only have the fleece version. The one shown here has a poly netting. Very sturdy and allows a lot of light in as well as terrific insect protection. They also make a heavier shade version which I’ve used with great success in deep summer heat. I’m using this one to cover the carrots and provide a structure over which I can drape a heavier plastic sheeting for insulation. We’ve had weeks of sub-freezing temps and so far they are not dead…so that’s a win.

The mini greenhouses, one shown on the left, are new this year. They fit the bed perfectly and I anchored them to the wooden frames for extra security. I did find that link…click here. (Actually I just checked the link and it is not the exact one shown above but it is the same manufacturer. Might need to do more surfing than I have time for right now to find the right one.)

So far I love them. I had a larger version of them years ago and, in the warmer winters, it gave me a full extra season of growth for kale and chard and even some pop up spinach volunteers.

You can see this swiss chard, planted last march, is still going strong and is my go to smoothy ingredient.

Today it was time to experiment with the second one I bought, and so the flat of seedlings which have been keeping me company inside the studio were ready to rock and roll…

I popped out a few of the kale and Hakuri turnips and out we went…

My theory is that this one may be warmer than the other as it is sheltered from some of the winds by the greenhouse which may also throw back some warmth from the south facing sun.

Here you can also see the easy access from the zippered panels.

Boy did it feel great to sit on my garden bench and hold the Hori Hori knife, and just like that they were planted. I have zero expectations that newly planted seedlings will make it planted this late but I live in hope these days.

It wasn’t in the original plans, but I thought adding one of those tunnels here might give an extra layer of warmth, and it worked out perfectly as a support for…

Yep…the christmas lights.

Somewhere I read of a  gardener putting a string of lights inside a cold frame to add a tiny bit of heat during the night. Why the hell not. I can never get enough of christmas lights.

I’ve put the compost thermometer in there so I’ll have some idea of the comparison between the two covered beds.

As you can see, a solid 43 degrees before I covered was promising.

And here we are all bundled up and ready to grow…maybe.


It’s a sea of mud out there now, and shortly after I wrote last week’s post those pesky Muses actually did show up and have made up for my basket of angst by hurling half a dozen new and sparkling challenges my way.

So…as Finn conquers…it’s time for me to get back to the easel…

But Oh My Goddesses did it ever feel good to be out working in the garden on this almost Solstice day.




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 !

Thinking ahead…

The call came in at 3:30am from the hard working vet that Finn was out of surgery and doing well. I had caved in at midnight so it was early this morning that I got the message. Now my flu ravaged body may still be weary but my spirits are high. By this time next week all members of my little family should be off of antibiotics and we can say good riddance to displaysed  elbows and rattling pneumonic lungs and maybe even to … snow ???

I’ve got to pass along our thanks to all of you who have been checking in and offering help and that all important compassionate ear of support… you will never know how those words and gestures of kindness reach in and lift us up.

One person who has done some heavy lifting in that department is our friend Saren. She has talked me down off of many a ledge especially with dear Finnegan’s trials. I was checking in with her early this morning and felt like a corner has been turned. The sun is shining, there is a definite warming in the air, and when I took the time to look I found the first signs of spring in the studio yard…

Can I get a witness ???

Through the darkest days of this long hard winter I’ve been taking myself to one of the happiest and most anticipated events of my year…the Sheep and Wool Festival !

The warm sunny first weekend in May when the Howard County Fairgrounds fill up with color and fiber and everything sheep. The crowd is full of my kind of people…old back to nature hippies who dress in sensible clothes and parade their knitted and woven creations and scour through the straw strewn farm shed stall to replenish their supplies of yarn and fleece and needles and sheep dip, etc.

There are many happy memories there for us and I’m so excitedly looking forward to making that trip this year…we may go both days !

My spinning wheel waits behind the snow shovel…

And I’ve got one great big panel up on the easel that needs to be finished before then…

But by golly I can feel it getting closer…I am dreaming now of coming home with a nice bag of fleece in the truck and oiling up the old wheel and sitting on the warm sunny porch with Finnegan stealing bits of wool and running down the walkway with it flying up over her shoulders in triumph…

Granary Gallery Show

Well it was a wild week up on the little island of Martha’s Vineyard… the show was a huge success, there were many new adventures, new vistas to investigate, a little bit of poison ivy, lots of early morning walks on the beach, many evenings of friendship and fine feasts, way too many kudos and not nearly enough sushi…and now that we’re home again I am rejuvinated by the enthusiastic response to the new paintings and ready to dig deeper and take the work to a whole new level.

Here is a gallery with some of the highlights of the trip…

check out our little apprentice as she visits the island for the first time…from the big boat to the bigger ocean she was a trooper… she left the last of her puppy teeth there and is now settling in to her cushy day job here in the studio…

another new adventure was being interviewed for Plum TV which has stations in lots of fancy vacation spots…they followed me around for a day with cameras and two delightful cinematographers…and our friend Barb followed them…very much looking the Annie Lebowitz part…

we had our usual techno breakdown on the night of the opening so there are only a couple photos… but I went in the next day and got some shots of the gallery to give you a feel for the place …just imagine a few hundred people milling about with mixed beverages and kind things to say and you’ve got the rest of the picture…

and then there are a few shots of good times with good friends and some views of the pond house where we whiled away the week that was… and of our visit with Ted to Menemsha and a stop over to Jane Slater’s, my teacup muse, and a chance for Ted and Herbert to catch up on some laughs…then, finally,  a tight squeeze on the new ferry back over to America…

I’ll let you check this out while Finnegan and I get back to work…

be well, Heather

Old friends make new friends

A breakfast party !


With two of our favorite girlfriends… Amy and Sue. We go waaaaaaay back and finally found a slot in all of our busy schedules to reconnect….they brought the bagels and we brought the puppy kisses.


These women have the most powerfully positive and peaceful energy and Finnegan was instantly in tune and in love…


Amy even gave Finn her first lesson in the Art of Wi …


But all this excitement was tiring out the wee one…


and it was time for a flip flop nap for Finnegan…


Angels walking among us ….

thanks gals…

love ya, H

Meeting the Pack

Yesterday was the best.

Finnegan got to meet some of her pack members for the first time and she had a blast. Saren brought Margie, the lab who survived her breeding years to be rescued by the most conscientious dog owner I know and now she is living the life of Riley getting to see the best of the rest of the world…and Susan brought her loyal pal Tag who is, as we all are, missing his big sister Emma but he is now carrying the cloak of her gentle confident manner and was the perfect gentlemen.


Both were wondeful with the squirrelly little puppy and Finnegan was eager to greet everyone and kept right up with the big dogs.





All that excitement…AND her first puppy class…made for a very tired pup at the end of the day.

Today it’s all business and, with our morning rituals finished…like waiting to play with Jed at the fence…


and filling the bird feeders…


and taking up her post as sentry at the studio door…



My apprentice is giving me the freckly eyeball…so it’s time for some serious painting…


Next post will show some progress from the easel… I promise !