Thursday, June 30, 2011


I expected party hats and candles but this is waaaayyyy better!!   

Farley and I have been at war since early spring.  Farley tasted the peas to the ground and then the tiny little squash plants.  He worked his way under the Berlin wall of a fence I installed and languidly ate his way through three plantings of beans.

He tasted the peppers but turned his back to consume a row of tender lettuce shoots.  Shoots, finally a word I can identify with!  Sniper Towers?  Not yet.

Yes it was me in the shadow of the early morning moonglow dressed in a tattered summer nighty, night vision goggles and scalding cup of coffee, waiting .......... and there he was skulking around the corner of studio on his way to the garden!  Do you see the frenzy going on here?
I summoned my trusty dog, snoring louder than a buzz saw in windstorm.  GET FARLEY!  I commanded as I yanked open the patio door!!  He rolled over;  maybe tomorrow.   
I am trading you in on Corgi I whispered through clenched teeth......

Better!  Electric fence! 
(and why is the sign in three languages?  Are ground hogs really tri-lingual?)  
Not wanting to fry the neighborhood dog, cat or kids I opted for the battery powered zapper.  The guy at the Farm and Tractor Supply assured me it would work gently.  As he walked me to the register past the arsenal of guns and ammo I told him I might be back. 

Running home and ripping open the plastic wrapper I looked at the picture directions.  Looked easy enough and promised to cover an acre of land.  I only needed a small garden, this is diabolically perfect!  And batteries!  After two hours running wire and whacking in posts I was ready to launch.  I am ashamed to say I had visions of fried groundhog hanging on the fence.   
Then the question to my dear husband who actually offered to help install the electric fence;  Is it on?  How can we tell?  You touch it!  No, you touch it........ where's the dog?  
I finally licked my fingers and grabbed the wire.  Nothing......... the lights are on and nobody's home!  
Re-wired, check connections and batteries, hooked up a little amp meter and there wasn't enough juice to fry a worm.  Back to the Farm and Tractor store in the morning.......  a new guy walked me back through the guns and ammo.  Not yet I told myself....... this time I opted for the, plug in the wall charge.  I kept asking; "how many volts?"  Well it's enough to keep them out of your garden.  Cool!  Back through the guns to check out...... not yet I muttered. 
Back home to re-install....... more power, I must have more POWER! 

Game ON Farley!  
Hav-A-Hearts set with apples, check.  
Electric Fence plugged in, check.  
Bamboo spike trenches, check. 
Flaming moat surrounding the garden, check.  
Back to mulching in the potatoes and berry bushes.
On my way back to the truck I noticed the trap was sprung!  YES!  
I had planned to put him out of his misery and let the coyotes have him but there he was trapped.  
OK you are way too small so I guess you can go up to the Super Fund toxic waste field.  As I picked up the cage he charged the cage, poked his little grubby hands through the holes next to the handle to claw his way out through my hand.  Geeze, what a fur ball with attitude!   

Farley was last seen running through the field to the apple tree.

Pulling in the driveway and feeling pretty good about life I ran in the house to grab coffee and go to the studio.  As I hit the back step I looked out the window and there in my cross hairs was Mrs G. Hog out with Farley's two siblings; Frenchy and Flannery!!!!!!!!   Count them, three more groundhogs! 
It's true what they say;  You never have one ground hog!!  
It's gonna be a long summer........ 

So before the garden is eaten to the ground here's a tour.
new pea gravel paths and mulch installed! 

second lettuce crop, beets, chard and poles with no beans...... yet! 

perennial beds coming along nicely.......

the path to no where.........

The Annabelle's are ON!  

and still getting a bit of work done in the studio......... 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Last Outdoor Show for the Summer

Nice to be home after a super long weekend.  There is something about sitting on an asphalt parking lot in 80 degree weather with high humidity and a cloudless day that makes the time move oh so slowly.  
Next year instead of my big water bowl for the dogs I am bringing a baby pool.  This is the one single thing that could make me stop doing outdoor shows.  I find myself yelling out of the booth....... HEY!   THERE IS WATER FOR YOUR DOG!   Yesterday we went through two gallons of water for the poor guys.

As I have not done a local show in years the weekend was so much fun!  As sit here with my morning coffee, moving slow and reviewing the weekend it makes me smile.  Seeing faces I have not seen in years and meeting new artists, made the hot weather go a bit faster.  Everybody who stopped by to say; "Hello" ..... a big THANK YOU!!  

Sales were great on Saturday, slow on Sunday but certainly not flat.  People were so appreciative of the work, many came back several times and asked questions.  Quite a few people were interested in a studio sale....... I hear you loud and clear!  OH and even sold my first wall piece!  

We set up on Friday morning and have to say set up was a breeze!  Very well run!  Going on the record...... the trailer is a pain in the butt and yet I am not sure I could fit my entire booth and inventory in a gigantic van, besides if I traded the truck for a van what would I do when hauling landscaping material.  It was so nice to set up, go home to shower, finish loading a kiln and get a good day of work in the studio.  HUGE benefit of staying local.  The show expense this time was gas!  No hotel or hours on the road, love that!

When I totaled out for the show I grossed less than a big show however since expenses were low I actually came out better!  SHOCKING!  

Yes, it poured at 4:10 p.m, 50 minutes before the show closed.  When the skies finally opened up I was very happy with my heavy duty tinker toy canopy!  No problem with wind or rain!  

Packing up was nuts!  Of course we had already filled out our customary artist survey for the show promoter or I would have added plenty under the comment section.  No trailers were allowed on the property.  Butch sat in line with the trailer for over an hour and still could not get in.  He finally parked in a lot far far away and we carted boxes back to the booth in the rain.   At least we could get the pots and framed work put away.   My neighbors Carl and Kevin decided they wanted to head for home and hand pulled their trailer to their booth!  Too funny ........... well they were just too funny the entire weekend!

All in all the show was great!  Good neighbors, new friends, old friends, good sales and support from the hometown crowd.......... very nice! 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Getting There.......

Last year I was pretty busy building booths and staying in the studio.  Sorry to say the gardens were neglected, big time.  After coming home from Louisville I did a slow walk around the yard and thought where the hell is the gardener?  Called the mulch guy and ordered 26 yards!  That will get the back and and way back done but not the front or the side.  That will take another 8 yards..... kill me.

One does not just spread mulch, one must access the plant material first to see who is getting a side out, rotate.  Every single bed needed a side out rotate!  After plants were pulled, re-planted, watered and told to buck up, the beds are weeded and finally mulched!  It's a process........  I only added 8 new varieties this year.  We will see if they are eaten or decide to thrive, it's a gamble.  The deer, groundhogs and rabbits have shown no mercy!  I planted Agastache, blue fortune and Salvia around the perimeter of the beds and have to say it seems to be working;  both are smelly and not very tasty.  On the inner circle I planted the delectables they love to eat.  OK if this doesn't work, the sniper towers are going up!   

Also managed to get pots delivered this week.  Canisters, plates and fruit bowl will be featured in the YMCA dream house this year.  60,000 people walk through and I can pass out all the business cards I can keep in stock.  Fingers crossed! 

Yesterday I was so busy mulching, I never checked my email.  Yes, the mulch pile buried my trailer I needed for the weekend show, nothing like panic mulching.  At 10:30 p.m. before taking a header into my pillow there was an acceptance letter to the 
47th Annual Craft + Design Show in Richmond, VA.!!!

Maybe I will get to be a potter this year :)  It's in November, now that the gardens are just about a done I can devote more time in the studio and that would be wonderful! 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Duck and cover!

Does this look like a scene from Harry Potter?  
Nope just the sky over the Hairy Potters studio around 8:15 a.m. yesterday morning!

Just about the first clap of thunder and lightening I was wearing a dog hat.  We badly needed the rain but this was going to be toad strangler of the first rate.   It filled the pond, the street, the patio and kept going.  Winds were clocked at 70 mph and if you closed your eyes you could hear tree limbs snapping.  

Sure enough time to fire that kiln!  Sure enough the hamster farted down at the power plant and we were out long enough for the kiln to drop 600 degrees.  I waited it out and ramped it up again.   I bet those big flat slab plates are going to look like potato chips!  

Everything was clear and bright by 12:30 p.m. and I had pots to deliver.  The humidity was climbing fast and I was headed to the city.  After a couple hours in the city of asphalt and concrete our house felt a good 15 degrees cooler......... time to jump into that garden.  

Was too hot to haul mulch so I dug post holes and got the blackberry bed cleaned up.

The strawberries look great this year and since they are netted we should get a few.

Managed to plant a bucket of potatoes; weed, relocate asparagus crowns and mulch them in.
Blueberries are looking good this year but found a robin under the netting gorging herself silly.  She waddled out and had trouble getting air born.

Today we are nearing 100 degrees and it has taken it's toll on the flowers and lettuce to be sure.

Chard and beets look pretty good but radishes have bolted and are now blooming.  We managed enough for radish sandwiches the other night.  Tomorrow they will be oft-ed and added to the compost pile. 
The flowers are taking a beating too.  Poppies lasted 24 hours, the peonies 48.   However the baptisia and salvia looks fab!

and the baby ground hogs are out...... let the war begin.


The studio is hovering at 109 F. and I am waiting for tonight to wax and glaze pots needed for the weekend.  Storms moving through tomorrow and hopefully we will be back in the 70's.  
Sitting in Paine Falls sip'n brain freeze smoothies and swat'n mosquitos...... what a year! 
on so many levels! 

Monday, June 6, 2011

some days it's hard to be inspired.......

There are days that one should not go to the mail box.  Yes another letter possibly wait listing me but don't hold out much hope.  A small show in Rochester at the Memorial Art Gallery but none the less not a for sure show to written in on the calendar of 2011.

For now I have one in the bag for sure show, written in ink on my calendar and now wondering if I will be able to afford the expense to go, it is a quandary.  Must say the stack is of "sorry, try next year" letters is disheartening and one wonders where to go next.  I will attempt the studio sale this year and have a street festival next weekend and then I am done until December 9th.

the pots I have tried to jury in with are as follows..........

and of course the proverbial booth shot........

guess it's time to rock out the bee plates...........

today I think I will close the studio door and go plant potatoes, long over due to be in the ground.......  

I was thinking if we parented the way the art world juries we would be brought up on charges.  We love you, we hate you, your work is incredible, you suck......... 
guess there are a whole bunch of us out there trying to make a living at this thing called art and the competition is steep.......... maybe too steep.  I know I am learning I just don't have the stomach for it.  

Potatoes........ a good day for potatoes........

Sunday, June 5, 2011

what a week.......

We started the week with a parade.  One of the perks of living across the street from the original town cemetery is the Memorial Day Parade.  All the neighbors drag out the lawn chairs and head to the end of the street with their morning cup of coffee and "catch up" while we wait for the cub scouts and veterans to go past.  Even our rival high schools join forces, merging into one large marching band.  The politicians make speech's and the dog waits for ducks to fall from the air after the 21 gun salute.
It's over in 10 minutes and it's small town America at it's finest.
It was hot and perfect for yard work and grilling, it should have been Labor Day!

The weather finally broke here in northeast Ohio, three days of sun and no rain.  Time to jump in the gardens at a frantic pace, we were at least a month behind!  We thought it was the sound of thunder in April and May but it was gardeners banging their heads against the potting shed wall.   In April I looked at a friends garden and committed to reworking and planting, finally the day had arrived.  Linda, a really good friend, wanted to see flowers from her kitchen window.  Shrink the garden bed to something more manageable and make it look like a garden.  Seemed easy enough......... and it was the perfect small job to feed my garden habit while keeping me in the studio.  I had visions of going to the nursery and sitting at the kitchen table with my stacks of nursery catalogs, graph paper, books, cup of sharp pencils with easers, pots of coffee and revel in the joys of what would be.  After I tried drinking the cup of pencils I decided I needed a 12 step program for my plant addiction........

What the garden looked like in April:

The decision was made to relocate the pieris japonica and "off" one of the really old rhodies.  That would leave the azaleas and those were pruned before they bloomed and a real garden no-no but it had to be done.  

Finally Tuesday, May 31st had arrived.  The plants had been collected from various nurseries and tools were loaded in the truck.  I hadn't slept the night before working through plans in my head over and over.  You would think I was going to Craft Boston again!  I had worked in Linda's garden 8 or 10 years ago and remembered the clay soil and steps to the upper garden.  The plan of attack was solid by 5 a.m.......... by 6 a.m. over my first cup of coffee I realized......I am going to die.  

I arrived at Linda's, an hour drive into the city, by 8:00 a.m. Temperatures already in the 80's, glasses fogged in the humidity and everything was climbing including my underwear.  We had gone from frosty cold temperatures and biblical rain to the tropic's in 24 hours.  I could not get busy fast enough and I couldn't work fast enough.  By 2 p.m. the garden had been freed of knee high Forget-Me-Knots (Mysostis) and Achemilla (Lady's Mantle) with my trusty pitch fork.  My jeans were soaked from the knees to my Herman Munster shoes.  The tools were all coated in mud and my shirt was clinging to my sultry body...... so attractive!  Hmmmm time to head to Nordstrom's and try on underwear!  Most of the plants were sunk and I was toast.

Wednesday I had brakes put on the truck and it gave me a day off to be in the studio and recover.  Wednesday night I told Abby.......... $50 and you have to help me!  Paaaaaleeezzzeee I begged.  She said; Really? $50?  I'm there.  Yeah!!!!!  I picked up my truck and ran to Home Depot to pick up 20 bags of mulch.  Holy Heavy!  The bags had been sitting in the rain for two months!  After loading the 17th bag and looking at the shocks on the truck we stopped loading.  I decided on bags instead of bulk as I had flashbacks from the last time I mulched Linda's garden.  Two of us had to lug a wheel barrow up the steps, bags would be so much easier and besides the garden was much smaller now!

A cold front blew through our area Wednesday night.  I was in the studio around 10 p.m. when Abby ran the phone out and said it was Linda.  Hmmmmm this can't be good.  Linda was racing home from a meeting because a tree had fallen on her house but just wanted me know the gardens were OK!  I would be able to get up the driveway and come anyway in the morning....... oh and there is a small fire.

It's never a good sign when you arrive at job greeted by Police Crime Scene tape roping off the entire backyard.  I jumped out of the truck and clipped it with my pruners and started hauling mulch.  We started at the far end waiting to see if the tree would allow us past,  I told Abby if you hear a loud crack drop the mulch and run to the far corner of the yard.  I jumped back into weeding and transplanting while Abby mulched.

The knuckle drag'n tree guy arrived sometime mid-morning and whipped Linda into a safety frenzy.  Every time we walked under the tree Linda would yell......... RUN!!!!!!!  ABBY GO QUICK!!
OK, this was quite entertaining and found myself laughing while wrestling the primula out of wet clay.  Linda rocks at double tasking and while all this was going on she was also cleaning out the garage.
She pulled out old bags of manure, topsoil and perennial bedding mix and said can you use this, how about this, have you ever heard of this?  We had and we did!
Then she pulled out the giant shaker bottle of PREEN!
Let the sermon begin........... NO!  Never!  Not in this garden, we are top dressing with newspaper and mulch, no Preen.

Back to the garden............ 
by 1:30 we were sweeping up, the place was looking pretty good.  
The temperature was 68 F. perfect for garden grunting and we experiencing high garden satisfaction, which is why I do this! 

this bed will fill in nicely in a couple months......

the path to no where.......

Now back to the studio and getting my gardens whipped into shape!  I told Linda I would be back in a couple weeks to check on everything and make sure the English ivy was trailing over the wall and not bullying the new plants.  Use those pruners!   The place should be beautiful in a couple months and really by next year it will really be in full swing.  Not sure I want to do this full time again but it sure was nice to sink my feet in it for a little while........