Monthly Archives: June 2013

Garden Art Journal . . . Remember the Soaker Hose?


If you remember this, you have been with me for a long while – five years at least!

Thank you for still being here – I really appreciate it.

Anyway, one of the big mistakes I made along the way was trusting Apple to have a blogging platform that would last (MobileMe). When they pulled the plug in June of 2012, I had moved to WordPress, but everything previous to that move went into oblivion.

Except that I had created it all in iWeb, which remains on my computer, and using it, I can find and bring back some archival posts.

This one was too much fun and I still feel the pain of that accident.

The journal page was done in my Moleskine Sketchbook with watercolor pencil, Pitt pen and the magic of the Sheer Heaven transfer, which allowed for the realistic newspaper article.

After doing this illustration, I was excited about how realistic my soaker hose looked and did another page about how that was drawn . . .


“Loop Doodle”? I maust have made that up. I wonder if it could have become as big as Zentangle? Oh well, another ship that sailed.

Anyway, if you follow these steps, you can have all the recycled rubber tire soaker hose you would ever want to draw. And the drawings can’t bite you on the heel.

And around that same time, I made an earthshaking discovery of something that everybody else in the world already knew about – how to use a hose repair kit . . .



And I still fix every hose that I can by using this method.

HOWEVER, I have moved on to a new kind of soaker hose . . .


First of all, it doesn’t bite – and it doesn’t fight you either.

It is a flat nylon ribbon, stitched along one side, which surrounds a “leaky” plastic tube.

As the water leaks out of the tube, the only place for it to go is out the holes made by the stitching. This provides a nice, slow soaking.

It lays flat on the ground and can easily be wound around wherever you need it.

Here, you can see it bottom left, running under the Monarda which grows in the shade of the Aspen.


And here is a close up to show you how it works . . .


I have become a devotee of soaker type watering. Last year, I did an experiment and did not use the weeper hoses, and my perennials grew to only half their usual height. Plus, I almost got carpal tunnel from holding hose guns.

These flat weeper hoses are not available in big box stores, but they can be found on Amazon here (Prime shipping too):

Gilmour Flat Weeper Hose

So, I hope you enjoyed the little trip to the past in my journal, and also learned something useful.

As I go through my old, lost blog posts, I plan to bring the good ones back for a second day in the sun. Do you like that idea? That also makes them available in the Archives of this blog, which is a good thing.

Have a wonderful Sunday.

Garden Art Journal . . . New Stuff


Another good art starter when you can’t think of what to journal about is a chronicle of new things.

It seems like every year, I add some permanent things to the garden: tools, pots, sculptures, feeders, etc.

When you bring them home all shiny, it’s a good time to have them star on a garden journal page.

Plus, they hold still and let you sketch them, unlike many other things in the garden.

This page was done with pan watercolors in my Stillman & Birn Beta journal.

I didn’t do any transferring – just sketched with 3H pencil and painted over.

These pots really are a find.

They are beautiful and look just like ceramic.

You all know I don’t like plastic much, but I needed to get those Hibiscus into large pots and I have to be able to move them – to rescue them from hail.

These are still managable even when full of wet dirt. And they look natural.



Corona is my favorite brand of garden tool and I am excited every time I get a new one. The one in the journal is a mini lopper.

And, of course this trip to Lowes also yielded some Morning Glory Seeds. I have some full grown already that I started from nursery plants, and I am about to start another crop from seed. I got some incubators I will be telling you about, so they will get enough overhead light and still not get eaten by bunnies.

Another GREAT Thing from Lowes . . .


Oh do I love this app!

First of all, the print magazine you can pick up in the store is really good, but the interactive version on the iPad is TOO wonderful.

Great animated graphics – like watching little gardens grow right before your eyes, and every project has step-by-steps and supply lists to click on. It is ultra-entertaining – and free!

And maybe my favorite thing – Pin It! buttons with every article, so you can keep and share the projects for future “doing”.

Yay for Lowes! This is marketing at its best.

Here’s the link

Creative Ideas


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Garden Art Journal . . . Birdcages & Blocks of All Kinds


Watercolor & Ink – Stilman & Birns Beta Journal

On Pinterest yesterday, I found a board dedicated to Garden Journals – when someone pinned my birdbath sketch to it, and it occurred to me that, for the most part, Garden Journals are Art Journals because they tell a story about your life, help you remember things that happened, and usually have sketches, photos and other kinds of visual note-taking.

Since that happens to be my definition of “Art Journal”, I decided they belong in the same category.

And it’s a good thing, because so many of my art journal pages are about my garden that I would hate to have to separate the two.

This page is from back in April, but I rediscovered it yesterday.

When I created the page, I had just gotten home from a trip to Lowes, where I bought some stepping stones that I thought were the same as all the ones I put in last year.

They weren’t.

It’s weird how you can look at something everyday and not remember what it looks like.

But, it’s ok because I only bought these for the birdbaths to sit on – not to add to my walkways.

And I was having an uninspired journaling day, so it gave me something to draw – (grin).

Which brings me to a good idea to share with you.

What to Draw?

OK – sometimes that is a problem for everybody. You’ve got the urge – but no subject.

When it happens to me, I turn to some books I keep around for just such an occasion. These are fun, illustrated books of one kind or another, and seeing some simple pictures always gives me ideas of things to draw.

I will share these books with you from time to time. Here is a favorite:

Beautiful Doodles – Nellie Ryan


This is not a tangle type of doodling, but rather, simple sketches and partially drawn scenes for you to fill in. You can even work in the book itself if you want . . .


Either way, there are enough idea starters in here to get you out of any drawing block.

Past Garden Journal Pages . . .

This page brought up memories of other garden journal pages that are now lost in the archives.

Do you remember the Story of the Morning Glories I tried to grow from seed?

That was a five page garden journal story way back in 2011.

You can find the entire story here:

I enjoyed reading that story again – hope you do too.

And, I have the urge to blog more often again – let’s see how that goes?!?

OMG and WTF . . .


I don’t text.

It seems crazy to do all that thumb typing when you can leave a voice message instead. I talk faster than I thumb type. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned. I don’t want to develop big muscular thumbs either.

Thumb typing is an arduous activity, and it takes a long time to become proficient enough to do it while driving. (Don’t look at me like that – I’m kidding!)

But, there is something to celebrate in everything.

Because thumb typing is so arduous, and because Twitter limits tweets to 140 characters, and because we are a ridiculous people who must make a hurry-up version of everything, acronyms have been created for many common phrases. You’re all familiar with LOL and BFF, of course.

My absolute favorites are OMG and WTF.

They have wonderfully rendered my favorite expletives harmless, while retaining all of their expressive power.

Face it – “Oh My Gosh!” just never did the job.

And uttering the F word as often as I felt it was called for, was no more ladylike than having big, muscular thumbs.

But I can pull out an OMG or WTF any old time without offending anybody.

However you choose to interpret it is up to you, but all I said was O.M.G. or W.T.F. (Both of these acronyms are even more potent when separated with periods, BTW).

Now, of course we had acronyms before smart phones and email came along.

We had the PTA and FBI and AAA, to name just a few.

But, IMHO, they weren’t good for much. No punch, no emotion.

I mean, you can’t get a big surprise and then exclaim “P.T.A.”, can you?

So, I am grateful to the texting trend for this gift.

Now, WITW (what in the world) does any of this have to do with that beautiful Asiatic Lily at the top of the post, you might be wondering.

Well, I’ll tell you.

Every rain we get this year seems to come with ice cubes.

We crave the water – our gardens love it.

We hate the hail – our gardens become salads because of it.

I have been such a clever girl devising protective cover for what is planted in the ground (will share in a later post), but for the containers, I use the old fashioned way, which is to carry every GD (gol darn) one of them into the house or green house – and out again after the danger of getting mulched has passed.

I watch the RADAR, dontcha know, and when it looks like this . . .


The plants come in. See the Red pin in the middle? That’s me.

Sunday night, the plants were in the house – all over the place.

Monday morning, one plant was partially mulched on one side anyway.

“WTF?”, I said. It had to be the cats.

Then, I realized it was the Asiatic Lily.

Better look it up – just in case.


Then, it was time for “OMG!” And a call to the vet.

Most lilies are highly toxic to cats, and this Asiatic hybrid is one of them. In fact, don’t mix your cats with any lilies because there are only 3 or 4 that are not toxic to them (Calla being one).

This is serious toxicity – can cause kidney failure and death.

Luckily, my cats did more mulching than actual eating and did not develop symptoms.

Now I know – and now you know – and the lily stays outside from now on.

This was my second poisoning scare of 2013.

Back in March, we came home from a party to find that one of our three dogs had emptied a package of sugar-free gum containing Xylitol, which can cause severe liver damage in dogs, and also critical drops in their blood sugar. Who knew?

We did not know how many pieces of gum were in the pack, nor which one of our pack had eaten them. The most likely culprit got blood tests right away.

And we lucked out then too, because nobody consumed enough to make trouble. They are big dogs. But a little dog could be in big trouble from just one piece of gum.

That’s something else that few people know. Xylitol is all over the place – used as an artificial sweetener. It is in most sugar-free gum and candy and also any products made to treat dry mouth. Make sure any product that might contain it is kept out of reach of the pups.

Here is a very helpful link for the Pet Poison Help Line

If more people were aware of the everyday things that are harmful to animals, our furkids would be a lot safer.

Gotta go take the plants out. The sun is shining.


Have You Ever Seen a Robin Bathing?


It was one of those slightly interesting pieces of time anyway.

I was reading an old gardening issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine – from 2005 in fact.

The gardening issues are the only ones I ever read because the garden is the only place I ever stand a chance of doing Martha Stewart type things.

I started reading the Letter from the Editor because it was about Martha coming home from prison.

I spent some time thinking how weird that was that Martha Stewart went off to prison. As I understand it, she even did Martha Stewart type things in prison.

Then I realized who the Editor was at that time – my current gardening GURU from my favorite gardening blog – Margaret Roach.

It’s called A Way to Garden and she is wonderful.

One of the things I found so interesting about her is that she had left such a very high position in publishing to flee the city and spend her life gardening on her own piece of land in upstate New York.

Anyway, here was a glimpse of Margaret before fleeing the corporate echelons of Martha Stewart magazine.

So, I was entertained already when this Robin came along.

I found his bathing rituals so interesting that I started shooting pictures. Then I found the flying water in the photos even more interesting.

Here’s a little treat for you . . .






And now we have one very clean Robin. Anyone got a towel?

Art in the Summertime . . .

It’s funny about Summer. Many of us actually have a little more time for doing art, but it is hard to take workshops and such because our schedules get knocked around by gardening, vacationing, family get togethers, etc.

With that in mind, I have converted two more art workshops to the WHENEVER format so you can take them anytime and work at your own pace.

Inktense – Soups to Nuts is now a WHENEVER workshop after three very successful classroom sessions. There are 12 PDF Lessons which run these great water soluble pencils through all their tricks – and there are plenty! Inktense can masquerade as everything from watercolor to wood stain. I’ll show you how.

Watercolor for the Art Journal and Sketchbook is also now a WHENEVER workshop. Ten videos lessons and three PDFs teach you all about how watercolor works – in the way that I wish somebody would have taught me! Watercolor goes great with Summer because it is so light in nature and so portable.

Both of these Workshops can be found on the

WHENEVER Workshop page

Another Wonderful Book

This one isn’t fiction, but it is funny and informative and completely illustrated in a charming style.

It might even accidentally teach you something about gardening.


Kiss My Aster at Amazon

The Look Inside feature at Amazon allows you to get a very good idea of the humor and fun to be had in this book. I suspect the illustrations might also get you wanting to do a little drawing!

That’s what I’m wanting to do right now . . . let’s see if anything stops me on the way to my journal.

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For the Birds . . .


Backstage at the Whatever . . . Whenever Blog

I wrote yesterday’s post while sitting in my favorite place on earth – my garden swing.

No matter what I am doing in the garden, this is always right beside me . . .


And so it was that I could capture this most perfect headshot of Ms. Hummingbird.

And such a strange thing happened right afterward.

But first let me set the scene . . .

This is my all time favorite Hummingbird feeder, and it has its own story


This ceramic apple feeder was marketed by Havahart several years ago and is no longer sold. I loved it so much when I saw it at a local nursery, that I bought two.

I don’t know why I loved it so much – just one of those things. It was red and wonderfully shaped and shiny. May as well have been a heart. I loved it.

And my Hummingbirds loved it too. They know a good thing when they sip at one.

As much as I loved it, however, I gave the second one to my Mom for her garden.

Years passed and my wonderful apple got sun faded, cracked and finally got broken. I tried to find another one, and there were none to be had.

Then I went to Michigan to help my mother move to Santa Fe, and lo and behold, there was her apple feeder still in the box – just like new!

I gushed all over it until she gave it back to me.

And I was really happy with this new red apple. This time, I hung it on a shady branch of a tree so it wouldn’t fade.

But the tree I hung it in was this one – a Chinese Elm I have to keep cutting way back so it won’t become too big for the courtyard.


And one day, I cut the wrong branch and my apple feeder fell and smashed.

Great weeping and gnashing of teeth ensued.

I went back on the web determined to find another one. I called the manufacturer in case there might be one sitting forgotten in a warehouse somewhere. No luck.

But then, my friend, Google, came up with a woman on ebay who was selling some “VIntage Fruit Hummingbird Feeders”. The early 2000′s isn’t quite vintage in my book, but I went to look anyway.

You guessed it . . . there was my apple amongst some very ugly fruit that may as well have been vintage.

And I bought it.

So, that’s the ebay find hanging in the midget Elm as of yesterday (the garden is still very much a work in progress!)

And the tree is about 6 feet from my swing, so when my Hummingbird friend decided to visit the apple, I grabbed that telephoto lens and got right in her face with it.

And now, the strange thing that happened . . . she got right back in my face. She flew right up to the end of my lens – she didn’t hit it but she hovered there – just as close as she had been to the feeder. Obviously, there was no way to focus, so I just sat there until she had enough and flew away.

Maybe she was checking her make-up in the lens reflection?

Mark passed through the garden about then and I told him about it.

“Maybe she thought I was some exotic flower or something,” I said to him.

“Maybe she thought you were a gigantic Hummingbird with a REALLY weird beak,” he said.

It’s for moments like that that I keep him around.

Copyright Notice

You may have seen that I added copyright type to the lead photo in this post. I hate the look of that, but with Pinterest and all that going on, it is something I have to do – at least to the important images. I will try to keep it as unobtrusive as possible.

A Great Read . . .

I am really picky about fiction. It has to be very well written, not stupid or saccharin or hopelessly insipid. I am also sick to death of violence as entertainment. So, it is not very often that I will recommend a work of fiction, but . . .

This book I loved.



This is historical fiction at its best – telling the story of two women born at opposite ends of a century, who you would not think have anything in common – but they do. The narrative switches back and forth between the early 1900′s and 2011. I could not put it down – and smiled at the end.

Doesn’t get any better than that.


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Art and Garden Ideas . . .



I have been gardening in this place for so long, it amazes me that I come up with ways to do things differently every year. It is NEVER the same-old, same-old.

I run five fountains which the birds and I all love, and three of them are terra cotta clay – consisting of a hollow base and bowl top.

They are HEAVY!

Birds are DIRTY!

I found myself having to empty and clean the fountain bowl every couple days and lifting that thing full of water is killer.

I was at my garden center and saw an assortment of plastic pot saucers and the largest were rather deep and LARGE. Light bulbs went off. But I hate plastic in my garden (and most other places too). Surely, even the most neutral, cream colored version would look hideous on that terra cotta base, right?

But my achin’ back said to try it, and I was surprised by the result. From across the courtyard where I sit on my swing, it looks like they match – and you can’t tell it’s plastic at all.


That is the original terra cotta bowl on the ground at the left.

There are now some white Cosmos planted at the front of that flower bed. When I did the art journal sketch above, there was just the flowering mound of Candytuft which is the green behind the Cosmos now flowerless.

Here’s another view of the birdbath fountain. . .


That bare earth in the back corner will be filled with Hummingbird mint as the Summer moves along.

In this birdbath, I have a Waterfall Rock. This is a resin rock sculpture which looks like a stack of slate and encloses a recirculating pump which I have found to be very reliable and resilient. We sell them at my gallery ($40), and of course, I use them at home. I run them in heated bird baths in the winter, and twice, the power went out in the middle of the night and froze the birdbath solid. As soon as things melted, this pump went right on running.


So, the long and short of it is that you can create a great birdbath for the price of a large plastic pot saucer ($15) and anything to set it on. A wrought iron plant stand would do fine. You can make your birdbath a fountain by adding some rocks and a small recirculating pump.

White Flowers on a Green Background . . .

One of the challenges of garden art journaling with watercolor is that most flowers are lighter than the green foliage around and behind them. Since watercolor is transparent, you can’t paint a light color over a dark.

So, masking fluid is the watercolorist’s best friend.

Let’s be honest . . . using masking fluid is usually a pain in the neck. It’s gooey and gummy and sticks in your brush if you don’t fill your brush with soap suds first. And once you have your brush filled with soap suds, it is not easy to mask small details.

I do know there are lots of alternatives – like white ink markers etc. but painting over those inks is not like painting on the paper.

So, masking fluid remains the best answer, and I have just recently found a brand that has become my favorite for many reasons, and of course, it comes from a watercolor company – Daniel Smith.


It comes in a squeeze bottle that has a fine tip. But it also comes with 5 extra fine tips which you stick on the bottle tip, and which result in you being able to “draw” very fine lines.

From a distance, a Candytuft blossom does not have much detail, so I didn’t want to mess with a soapy brush. I just wanted to scribble some little white flowers . . .


 The tiny squeeze tip worked great.

But, here’s the thing – you have to clean that tip. And the finest wire will not pass through. The manufacturer says to use up your first bottle of fluid, and then keep it for filling with water to clean the tips. You switch the tip from the active masking fluid bottle to the water bottle and squeeze a stream of water through the tip.

Cleaning MUST be done immediately after use.

You are never going to get that first bottle actually cleaned out, and you don’t want this gunk going down your sink (it’s latex rubber).

So, here’s my best advice:

Buy two bottles. Empty one right away into a small jar or something where you will be able to use it with a brush when masking larger areas. Make sure the jar seals tightly and use the smallest you can find so little air is in contact with the masking fluid.

Let the bottle you just emptied sit without its top on until the coating of fluid still inside hardens.

After that, you should be able to use it with water without any pieces of dried fluid clogging things up.

What would be easier?? Why the heck doesn’t Daniel Smith sell an empty bottle and extra tips for this product? I think I have to go ask them.

Monkey-Mind-fullness . . .

This, by the way is the opposite of mindfulness, and I am working on making the switch before I really do drive myself crazy.

Meanwhile, for as long as I have been blogging, I have been hindered by monkey-mind. I am interested in so many things and I keep thinking they should all be divided into different blogs, etc. – which only results in no blogging because I can’t decide where what and when.

So, starting with this post, my blog will be much more true to its name – Whatever.

Whatever my current dalliance, I am going to share it right here in this place.

Hopefully, that will result in more posting.

We shall see . . .

New Mailing List . . .

If you want to receive email notices of new posts, be sure to sign up on the new Mailing List here:

I am about to delete the old list.

You can always find this new sign-up link at the top of the sidebar.