Friday, August 29, 2014

Summer Medley

Well, friends, it happens every year. And somehow it surprises me every year. Summer Fatigue. Even though we've had some lovely days of low humidity and a break from the super heat, toward the end of August and into September I notice that the summer here in the south just wears on me.
I feel tired and like not doing anything. At all. I don't just lay around and I do plenty of things, but I really have to psych myself up for them.
I feel like I've lost my creative mojo as well since my studio upstairs just gets too warm to be in it long. I haven't painted in a week or so, I haven't done any sewing, but I've done plenty of knitting, which I can do downstairs where it's cooler.
The upstairs rooms heat up with the afternoon sun and don't really cool down much even at night and even with the A/C going. If we'd lower the A/C enough that the upstairs is cool, we'd be icicles downstairs...
I know this will come to an end. But I'm used to living in areas where the end of August and September would already bring the first hint of fall. You have to look really hard here to find that first hint. Usually it's the leaves on our fig tree turning brown and falling off. At first I used to think it had some terrible disease until I realized that it's just fall for the tree even though for us it's still hot summer.
Here are of my knitting efforts - this is really pretty and sparkly yarn and the scarves are like jewels. I've also used it to make some of my beaded necklaces. Gorgeous!!
Winslow thinks it's way too warm as well, although we've all enjoyed the momentary reprieve from humidity with long mornings spent on the back porch and walking the neighborhood. We were even able to open the windows for a while in the mornings getting some fresh air into the house.
Here's another scarf I made. This is done with really soft and warm yarn, but with a lacy pattern. It was fun to knit and made me think of winter.
This morning I was trying to get a good picture of it on the back porch.
As soon as I picked up the scarf, Louie thought it was time to be scratched and photographed.
He definitely made himself comfortable and my scarf photo shoot was over. That's ok. I was getting too warm anyway.
I hope that the weather pleases you wherever you are! I'll continue to dream of fall and winter...

The scarves are all available in my Etsy shop (the link is on my left side bar).


Monday, August 25, 2014

The Joys of this Morning

We are having a small summer miracle. After incredibly hot and humid days, which are normal for us in August, we woke up this morning to 71 degrees (21 Celsius) and hardly any humidity. I opened all the windows in the house and then spent the whole morning outside, first walking with Winslow, then on the back porch enjoying the cool breeze and then watering.
Look at that gorgeous bee I found while watering a friend's back yard! It was just stunning!!
And then on our milk week, I counted 30 fat monarch caterpillars. That is so exciting to me. Soon, they'll be able to cocoon and begin the transformation to beautiful butterflies.

It's a good day. I hope for you as well!!


Friday, August 22, 2014

Giveaway Winner & Giant Spider

Thanks for all who entered my giveaway on my Facebook Page and here on my blog. I drew the winner the old-fashioned way.
I wrote down all the names, folded up the strips of paper, put them in one of my favorite bowls, and mixed them all up.
And the winner is Diane Salter, a fellow artist whose work I much admire! Fun!!
As a little extra, I'm sharing a video I made this morning of our big spider girl re-weaving part of the giant web. Don't watch it if spiders freak you out. :)
I'll be back soon with art and knitting and other things. In the meantime, enjoy your Friday and the coming weekend!!


Monday, August 18, 2014

Garden Excitement and Giveaway

I've been looking every day for many days and I finally spied them:
Tiny monarch butterfly caterpillars. We plant the milkweed only for the monarch butterflies because that's where they like to lay there eggs and that's what their caterpillars like to eat. This is so exciting!!
Also exciting, but in a different way was the morning "our" giant spider caught a big moth. I felt so bad for the moth, but I'd feel just as bad if a bird ate this beautiful spider, which is getting bigger and bigger. She must be ready to lay her eggs soon...
All this butterfly/moth action inspired this painting, which is relatively small, but took a long time to come together. Finally, I detached from the outcome and just enjoyed the process and - voilà - it suddenly worked!
I decided to give it away and have a giveaway both here and on my Facebook Page. You just need to enter once - either leave a comment here or on Facebook. I'm keeping this really simple.
I'll draw the winner on Thursday, August 21 after 9 p.m. my time. Or thereabouts... :)

I hope you are having a fantastic start to your week. I'm hoping to get a good bit of painting done!


Friday, August 8, 2014

Color me Happy!

Bright colors make me very happy!
As does this fat little squirrel.
It's loosely based on a  photo my sister took when she was visiting of a fat squirrel in our backyard.
I love the expression on the face. It could be a really sweet squirrel or ... it could have shenanigans on it's mind...
In any case, it's fun and it's available in my Etsy shop!
Until it finds its new home, it'll live on our fireplace mantel and make me smile...

Linking to:

P.S. I just went to PPF to link up and saw that my toad was featured on this week's blog post. How exciting!! Go check it out if you want to... Thank you!!!!


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Happy Moments in Time...

1. Tucker, one of the outdoor kitties who adopted us was sitting under the bird feeder this morning, hoping the fat squirrel would fall into this mouth. It didn't happen and Tucker went back to his post on our front porch surveying our garden and napping...
2. I tried to capture "our" spider's magnificent web in the morning sunshine.
It is huge and impressive! She is quite the accomplished weaver...
3. The cardigan I started last year and then forgot about is getting closer to being finished. I love mindless knitting projects like this. They clear my mind and sooth my soul! The pattern is one that is knitted in one piece starting at the collar, so easy and great for making the sleeves as long as they need to be. Any long-limbed reader of my blog will understand how hard it is to find any top with sleeves that are ever long enough...
4. One of my very best friends (we've known each other since Kindergarten), emailed me this photo of my sister and me in Holland on vacation eating ice cream, which I think was a daily occurrence. What a great photo!! By the way, that was the color of my hair a long time ago - dark brown, almost black. :) Although I think I already had a few silver hairs at that time in my life... And I had completely forgotten about those purple overalls. Loved them!!!
5. As I was making a cup of espresso yesterday, my phone notified me that my toad painting had sold. Best of all, a friend here bought it, which means I can see it whenever I want to. Good thing as I am a tad attached to this one... :)
6. A delicious white bean dip we've made a few times already this summer. Yum!! (Recipe here.)
7. A glass of red wine drunk from a clay wine cup handmade by a German potter who is in his 90s and bought together with my dad when I was visiting a couple of years ago.
Last weekend was somewhat difficult for us as Winslow, our sweet dog, had a fierce stomach bug on Sunday. We think it was triggered by nerves from two days and nights of loud thunderstorms sweeping over our house and making it shake frequently. Poor baby!

Monday morning, Daniel took him to the vets who said he was doing great overall and gave him some meds which helped his stomach immediately. By now he's back to his normal über-cute self!

When anyone in my world is sick, I get anxious. And when it's one of our pets, I get super anxious. One way to keep a hold on my inner happy place is to make special note of anything that makes me smile, big or small. And things like these certainly do the trick.

What do you do when your inner calm is threatened?


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Our Resident Spider

A few weeks ago, we suddenly discovered this huge web right outside our kitchen window on our back porch. A huge female golden silk orb-weaver had decided that that was a good spot to make her home. I say "huge" because for a spider she least to me. Stretched out she probably measures a good three inches if not more. But isn't she beautiful?
We first discovered her when she had caught a cicada in her web. It was one of those gross and fascinating things to watch - I couldn't take my eyes off of what was happening...
Since then we've seen her molt and shed her exoskeleton.
I took these photos right after she had slipped out of her "skin" and was literally hanging by a silk thread.
A little later, fluids had filled her legs once again and she was all normal-looking again.
A few days later, miraculously, a tiny male spider appeared on the scene. Can you believe the size difference?
We've seen her eat a few times since then (like here a damsel fly), but never see the male eat anything. He must dine on air or maybe little flies that get tangled in the web. Or maybe he's too lovesick to eat... :)
A couple of days ago, the female once again shed her exoskeleton (that's it to the right of her) and for a day or so, the male got really close to her (he's on her belly in the photo below). It might have been mating time. We aren't exactly sure...
As soon as she'd move her legs, he'd dart to a safe distance. Apparently, these male spiders have figured out how to relax the female enough to make it out alive after mating.  In the photo below, he's above her at a safe distance...
As of this morning, the male is still around and not much is happening. The web is huge and magnificent and seems to have several layers to it. I watched her weave part of it and am awed by the perfection of it.

I studied up a little on the spiritual symbolism of spiders and of course they remind us of weaving our own stories into our lives and watching out for the webs others weave. Just from watching the female, I get the sense of great creative power, endless patience, and quick action when the opportunity presents itself. And from watching the male? Persistence! And a good dose of caution...

We can't wait to see what happens next! Our very own nature channel...

Linking this to:
Camera Critters
I Heart Macro


Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Toad

Those of you who have followed my blog for awhile know that I love finding toads in our garden. Any kind of animal really that we don't see so often. I get most excited about snakes, then toads, lizards and frogs and then everything else. :) 
When I was a kid, I had a pet lizard for a while and named him Alexander. He was very tame. My dad had accidentally dug him up during winter and so I kept him and fed him all winter long and then let him be free again once it got warm enough. I might have to paint a lizard one of these days...
The photo above shows the colored background I played with for this.  Somehow while I was painting it, I kept seeing a toad in the finished piece. Maybe because we've been seeing so many baby toads around here...
And here it is. I love it!! Truly. I love everything about it. Not in the least the fact that I recycled an old canvas for this and bits and pieces of the previous painting are still showing through. Fun! 
The Toad
8 x 8 inch acrylic painting on canvas
I know I'm a day late, but I'm still linking to Paint Party Friday. Happy Painting!! 

And a wonderful weekend to you all!!