Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fairy Gardens

 I love little things.  Teeny tiny, miniature items from daily life have always made me smile.  I have collected them for years, tucked in little boxes and wrapped in tissue, safe.  And I love gardening.  I love planting, nurturing, protecting and watching new life grow, all green and ready to make flowers.  So, this business of fairy gardens is just my style.  I have been making all kinds of bits and pieces and putting them together in little planters.

It is kind of like playing with doll houses again, except you are playing with furniture and little things in dirt.  That makes it even better!  Here is a picture of my first fairy garden.  I even made tiny little bunnies.

He even has dirt on his tiny feet...

Now who wouldn't want to live in a little house like this.  I like to put houses in my little gardens.  I think it makes it more inviting for fairies and wee folk to want to live there.  The colors are amazing and add so much to green, green plants.

My son Ben has gotten in the mix too, making little dog houses and pups in just the right scale to make little dog gardens.  I just love these!  He is making tiny garden tools and watering cans too.

This is just too much fun!  We are bringing them to our summer shows, see you there!

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Nursery

Somehow we always end up in here.  After we have chased the puppy and grabbed her tail and been licked on the head.  After we have emptied the cabinet that holds the plastic containers and scattered them all over the floor and cooked imaginary meals that we know mommy would certainly enjoy.    After we have stepped out on the deck and looked at all the constellations  we need to talk about.  After we have played with our toys and left them all over the living room floor.  We somehow end up back here, in the nursery with the special toys that wait for bedtime.  We sit on the floor and play with each car and truck.  We stack our blocks and we knock them down and we turn on the toy that Gaga loves the most.  It's a plastic alarm clock music box, with star shaped buttons on the front.  When you push the purply star it plays classical music.  The blue button plays Brahm's Lullaby, but we're not ready to go to sleep just yet.   Gaga's favorite, and the best, is the green one that makes the nature sounds.  We love that one.  It sounds like spring peepers and crickets and water rushing by in a little creek.  And every once in a while, we hear a night bird and a bull frog that says "Barrumph!"

The top of this toy is magical.  There is a place where light shines through a little stencil.  We take turns putting our hands over it and it shines flower shaped bits of light on our fingers, like the constellations we gazed at in the starry sky earlier in the night.  Maybe that is why Gaga loves this toy the most, those dear and familiar animal sounds and the stars above that remind her of home.   
We listen and we continue playing.  Cars roll under the bed and we fetch them out, zebras dance across the floor and dolphins swim all in a line, until baby scatters them like the waves that hit the shore of the lake nearby.  Baby goes after this toy and that, but always circles back to sit next to Gaga.  Then it's off to play again.  He climbs her knees like a tower and gives her another hug.  Finally, baby crawls up to Gaga,  and stops, stares intently at her and then gives her a little kiss on the cheek, musses her hair and smiles.  Perfect moment that Gaga will never forget.  He chases after another toy as the music box plays on.  

We're getting sleepy now, both of us.  After this long day of playing and visiting and looking at giant animals that must be mooses, and scary animals that must be bears, it's getting close to bedtime.  This day has been so perfect, we don't want it to end.  One more change of diaper, one more big hug.  One more crawling around the room with sleepy eyes and baby yawns and Gaga sings the sleepy song that mommy started months ago.  Sleepy baby, time to say goodnight...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Our Day

Ahh, we have a day.  How are we going to spend it?  
Hmmn, just what kind of mischief can we get into...
I watched my grandson the complete day today.  Mommy had a very special Chamber of Commerce dinner that she organized and daddy helped out too.  I got to be moral support and baby watcher.  Sweet.  We got up, got ready and took off on an adventure!  We decided start it off right and go to one of our favorite places, Bass Pro Shop and look at the animals and watch the fish.  

The aquarium there is huge, filled with all kinds of freshwater fish that one could no doubt catch if they were using tackle purchased from this store.  Baby's eyes were glued to the fish movement and the water fall above it.  He talked to them a bit and we moved on.  We talked to mounted foxes, bears and moose.  He was stony faced when we came up to the big grizzly mount.  He stared.  But the moose was almost too much for him.  A salesman said, "You can see that he just can't quite wrap his mind around it."  Perfectly stated.  I could see the wheels turning, the mini daddy mind calculating the size and trying to understand if this was some kind of really huge dog?  And would it step on him?  Or lick him on the head like his puppies do with some really huge slurp?  Shudder.  

We stopped in to see busy mommy for a minute.  Yep, she was busy alright.  We went to McDonald's for a snack and I finally got a picture of his first tooth that came in yesterday!  And the second one which thank heavens popped out today.  First time trip to McDonald's for us, he enjoyed the place but really didn't eat much.   
Michaels!  Aisle after aisle of wonderful colors and toys and paper and all the things that gaga and baby love.  We had a whirlwind tour trying to spend that 40% off coupon because we were meeting our very dear friends for lunch.  He teaches people how to run businesses, she teaches people how to knit.  They are lovely!  He took mommy and one of his daughters to China a couple of years back, she taught mommy all kinds of things about new babies and nutrition.  They are keepers.  
Baby sat between Nana Knitter and I.  While we were eating, and we talked to him quite a bit, baby leaned over towards me.  He looked at Nana Knitter and he looked at me.  Then he looked back at her, reached down and patted my arm and said "Gaga."  We were amazed.  This is my gaga he was saying, and she and I have adventures.  We go see great big hairy things and she tells me what they are and stories about them.  We talk about our plans for fishing and camping and we walk on the beach.  We dance and we laugh and we eat ice cream every chance we get.  She gets me to eat my vegetables and she has me try new things and buys me watermelon and we eat it and laugh.  She loves me, and I love her.  She is my gaga!

We had a day and we filled it with fun and play, visiting and learning.  It was the best and you can bet there will be more.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Written Word

Did you ever get news?  I mean NEWS that just surprised the heck out of you and was totally unexpected?  Nice kind of news, like a pat on the back or an amazing bit of, well, news!

I have experienced this joyful situation a couple of times lately, and it all has to do with the written word.  Let me tell you about what I heard today, because it effects a decision I have to make about what happened February 13th.  

I have been really busy.  Too busy to think let alone write.   It has been a long couple of days.  Warm weather gone, I trudged into the post office to mail show invitations.  One of my neighbors came in after me and asked if I had heard his "Announcement."  (Grandfather?  I started to say...)  And then I got the news.  I have lived down the lane from this man for over 16 years and if I were dangling over a vat of something vile and scorching hot, I could not have saved my own life by guessing what his wonderful news would be.  Never.  "I have written a BOOK!"  (Again my mind searched the wild range of possibilities.  Dogs?)  He said..."I'm a poet and I have just published my first book!"

What?  This bear of a man who plows out my snow covered drive so my family can get in for Christmas? What what what?  We went on to talk all about writing, about life and living out our dreams, and his wonderful book that we hope one of our other neighbors who drives a UPS truck might deliver that very day.  Hope.  I can't tell you how incredibly proud I am of this man, a retired school teacher and Humane Society volunteer, who has written what I'm guessing will be a tender collection of his poems called Whispers of Autumn, Love and Reflection.

This brings me to another evening, another tired Me sitting here after another long day.  A very good writer friend of mine Ginger Janda, had complimented me on my blog.  And then I was invited to read the latest post in hers, The Beach Writer.  Ginger is a wonderful writer, and used to write for and run the local newspaper.  She grew up in the newspaper business, and I suspect has printing ink running in her veins.  She and her family are now living in Jacksonville, Florida, where they are pursuing their creative dreams.  Being a poster child for such endeavors, I am thrilled with every post, beach picture and comment I see on facebook and in her blog.   I am proud of her for doing it.  Anyway, back to this blog post.  In it, she announced very proudly that she had won the Sunshine Award for her blog, and was required to follow certain steps in the acceptance of it.  In agreeing to accept it, she had to thank the person who gave it to her, answer certain questions, and pass it along to 10 more people.  In true Ginger creative fashion, she chose 5 instead of 10, and based it on the creativity of each writer, each person.  Now it gets exciting, now here is my NEWS:  she chose me as one of her Round Table.  I was amazed and quite overwhelmed.  I accept this honor now with great pride, and will attempt to obey (sort of) the rules.  

The Rules:
  • Thank the person who gave you the award.
  • Write a post about it.
  • Answer a few deeply personal and revealing questions.
  • Pass it along to ten people and let them know they received the award.

Thank you Ginger Janda for choosing me to receive this pretty flower and the award that goes with it.  Thank you for noticing my blog and is something that I do with the part of me that is left over after sculpting.  I enjoy it very much, and have written quietly for years.

The Deeply Personal and Revealing Questions:
  • Favorite colour: Rust
  • Favorite animal: the dog (what...not bunnies?)
  • Favorite number: 1
  • Favorite non-alcoholic drink: coffee
  • Facebook or Twitter? Facebook
  • My passion: Creating.  Sculpting, building, crafting, landscaping, fixing, cooking, writing, painting, remodeling, growing, making.  I love making something out of something else.  I love nature, the outdoors and watching things grow.  I love sculpting my clay, but I love that my seven acres are a broader canvas for sculpting also.  
  • Getting or giving presents? Giving
  • Favorite pattern: solid colors please
  • Favorite day of the week: Saturday
  • Favorite flower: anything that begins with H.  Hollyhocks, hellebore, Hibiscus, Hyacinths and the grandaddy of my flower obsessions...Hydrangeas!
Pass It Along:
Ginger picked according to a theme.  But today, to tie this all together, my neighbor and his budding career gave me my idea.  I am going to hand mine out a bit at a time to aspiring writers and beginners just crawling out on the stage of literary notice.  I have a few friends who are just starting their blogs.  They are just sinking their feet into their words, or transferring their family newsletters into this internet format.  I will mention some here, and the rest will get their big surprise when they are ready.
First award, or course, will go to my neighbor who just published his first book, Buddy Hendricks.  He is getting ready to start a blog and I can't wait to read it.  Another take on Rabbitville Road!
Second, will go to Melanie Deckard, who is going to turn her entertaining, informative and delightful family newsletter into a blog. I told her it would be so much easier for maintaining email lists and sending it all out.  Melanie's family are dear friends of mine.  Their giving nature and hilarious stories in the midst of family illness and tragedy is legendary.  But then, her mom and dad ARE Mr and Mrs Santa Claus.  When I have the address of her new blog, I will post it for you.  
My third award goes to my good friend and former banker, Brain Rainey.  He has started a collection of posts and here is what I think is the first.  He is a very dedicated family man with a strong faith in God that helps him and his family through some very interesting times.  His sense of humor has gotten me through some rough patches.  Good guy, promising thinker and writer.

One more for now, and the rest I will hold like lightning bugs in my secret jar.  My lovely daughter, Allyson Baughman  is a writer.  She writes beautifully and is the Queen of Marketing for the Dunesland Chamber of Commerce up where she lives with her husband Brandt Baughman and the light of my life, their son Asher.  She has a blog called Air Baby.  I am awarding her this Sunshine Flower, because I want to encourage her to write in the one minute of free time she has each week.
Wow, this was long, or as my Dad would have said, "You sure had a lot of words tonight."  I guess I did.  To my award winners, please accept this flower, and post it if you want.  Follow the rules and pass it along.  I will be reading and enjoying, and I will smile from this poster for creativity and say, "Keep it up!"   You color the world with your thoughts and writing.  You represent what makes us human, our words.  

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Wee Folk

We write our thoughts in blogs.  Sometimes we write late at night, when it's quiet and safe enough to reveal our innermost feelings or suspicions.

I live in a woods.  There are very old trees, interesting rocks and hillocks of tufted grass and twisted briars.  I have planted flowers everywhere but I have kept the wildness as best I can.  And since it is late, and I feel safe telling you this, I think there are other small creatures living here besides me.  Mice, raccoons, coyotes, deer, possums, rabbits and wee folk.  This place is magical, so it doesn't surprise me to have things go missing and turn up in other places.  I grew up with an Irish / German mother.  I had Irish nuns as teachers in grade school.  So it follows that I believe in fairies, and being familiar with them, would want to make them.

I have sculpted a lot of animals, people, buildings, flowers, all kinds of stuff but the wee folk are a challenge.   The wings are the thing.  It is difficult to make them look transparent.  They must look like they can lift off at any second responding to any startling sound.   And boy fairies, or I mean elves, must be like curious little boys, full of mischief and turtles and dusty leaves.  I am really enjoying them.

Please let me explain something to you that I am sure you will want to know.  Animals, people, fairies, birds, um, well they hang around in my head till I make them.  I had a couple dance in my head one evening years ago making so much noise I had to get up and go sculpt them if I was going to get any sleep at all that night.  It is the same with these fairies.  I think that I have figured it out, though. Sometimes it takes me a long while to sort a sculpture out technically.  Often I can "see" it in my head, but I can't quite figure out how to make it stand up, or what it will be holding, etc.  It has taken me a many years to  understand how to sculpt a standing fairy.  But finally, the magic happened.

I am really pleased.  Her wings are folded down so she can stand.  She has a dragon fly perched on her head.  And boy she sure is smiling (and I suspect thinking) "Let me out of here, it is about time!"

So you see, wee folk do live in my woods, in my studio and in my heart.  It certainly pleases me  to help them cross over into this world.  They seem to be pretty happy about it too.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Strong Winds of Winter

The wind up here amazes me.  It blows off of Lake Michigan with a fury in the winter.  I love the moment I arrive and hear those dizzying breathes blowing through the pine trees.  I can hear the waves crash on the shore and I know I am here.  This is where my grandson lives.  And his mommy and daddy of course.  Three seasons of the year I love that sound, but in the winter it chills a bit.  Not much goes on outside at the dunes in the winter on a snow stormy weekend like this.  That wind that blows the snow takes your breath away.  So we find indoor pursuits to keep us occupied.  Last night we introduced baby to the magical world of bubbles.

He really didn't know what to do or what sound to make.  He sat primly in mama's lap for at least 5 minutes in awe of the colorful baubles that blew from mommy's lips and that yellow magic wand. They touched him and disappeared.  He grabbed at them and they were gone.  Oh that Nana gaga, she brings magic when she comes.
 Nana gaga makes waffles for breakfast too on cold snowy mornings.  She makes the batter right in front of baby in his high chair and pours it in that other magical appliance, the waffle maker. Out pops something baby really, really likes.  In fact, he loves waffles so much he shares them with his fuzzy, furry labradoodle pal, Leon.  Now that is real friendship.   Baby is growing up with puppies.  They walk around him, they sniff and kiss the top of his head.  He has learned to pat them gently on the head and leave the older dogs alone.  They all seem to understand that he is the new pink puppy, just one of the pack.   Could be because he shares his breakfast.  Doesn't matter.

Later, the wind is still blowing and it lulls baby to sleep for a nappy...and all those puppies, too.  Let the wind and snow blow all it can, we are tucked in safe and sound, peaceful and quiet.  Sweet.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This means war.

I love living in the country.  I grew up on a farm and have lived out from town almost all of my life.  I love birds and animals, reptiles and amphibians.  I love fish and even bugs.  I feel like my animals here trust me and consider me part of the flock, pack, herd, warren, nest.  But now, I am at war.

Over the years, I have grown to understand the ways of animals.  They look for food, shelter and safety.  They look for places to raise their young.  I don't eat persimmons much or clover so I share them with the deer.  And I certainly don't mind the fish, frogs and birds eating mosquitos and other annoying insects.  I even tolerate spiders nowadays because I have read about their diet.  Snakes are my constant companions, I pamper them and encourage them to eat one of the staples of their diet: MICE.  Why?  Because mice are the enemy!  

I have mice in my vehicles.  One day my daughter and I were driving down the road and she looked up and screamed, "A mouse!"  He was sitting on the dashboard between us, casually enjoying the ride.  When she screamed he took a flying Wallenda and hit the back seat.  We bought mouse traps on the way home.  You understand these things, you learn to adapt.  But, as I said, now we are at war.  The rodent population has stepped up its invasion and like any super power, I must escalate my weaponry and tactics also.  Here is my side of the story.

In December I ran out and hopped in my car to meet my son for lunch on his way to my house.  When I turned the key, the dash lit up like a Christmas tree.  How can the 4WD be on?  What do all these lights mean?  Check engine light...NOW!  I carefully drove my car to the mechanic and he had a look under the hood.  He said it looked like a gang of mice had enjoyed a party bringing every kind of snack they could grab.  They didn't stop there, they turned to the hard stuff.  They ate my wires.  My mechanic has researched this problem and he said the car makers use a soy based substance to coat the wires.  Unfortunately this makes them really tasty.  Oh, my goodness!

Sigh.  He fixed it with the strong suggestion I get a cat.   Or buy poison.  Now the trouble with that is they eat it, crawl off into some other part of the car and die.  And then smell terrible for a very long time.  I know this from personal experience.  I put mouse traps all over the car and even put them in the engine compartment.  But last week when I hopped in the car again to run to town nothing happened at all when I turned the key.  This time the dash board lit up like a neon sign outside a seedy motel, and that was exactly what I had, a very "Seedy" motel for mice and their older friends, the ground squirrels.  And this time they made sure their new residence wasn't going any place soon.  This time they ate the wires that motivate the transmission.  

My insurance lady understood, she has had mice in her car too.  And she keeps hers in the garage so that didn't stop them.  I had a very fun and interesting conversation with the regional claims adjuster last night.  She was very helpful and understanding but I could feel her thinking I must live in some wild and terrible jungle.  No, I said, just southern Indiana in the woods.  She, along with all of my friends have given me great suggestions for keeping these animals out of my car.  My snakes are hibernating so they won't help, but my dogs can have time in the front yard to make their presence known and leave their marks all around the car.  I plan on keeping the traps set and a can of that stuff ready that you put on your bushes so the deer don't eat them ready to sprinkle around my car every time I exit it.  I sprayed that no chew stuff all over the engine last night.  I even bought a live trap.   I love my animals, but I need my car.

I love living in the country, with all the challenges and gifts that it presents.  I must admit however, it is time for some target practice.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Skill Sets, New Life

My grandson is growing, learning and getting into mischief.   He is doing what little boys do.  I am up visiting again and I am enjoying every single minute with this little boy and his parents.  Yesterday he developed a new skill set.  His mommy came into his bedroom and he had pulled himself up on the side of the bed and was kneeling there looking at her with the biggest, proudest smile.  About like the one on the left in the pac and play I took later.  Right before I took this picture, he had sat himself up from lying down.  Uh oh, look out.  We all went to a wedding and stopped between the ceremony and the reception to be held later and had a bite to eat.  Mommy gave him a child's cracker to eat and with all of us looking, he "bit" off a bite with a loud snap.  His eyes were huge as he realized what he did!  And of course he snapped off bite after bite, laughing all the time.  Daddy put him in the car seat as we prepared to leave.  He raised up and tried to tip himself out, climbing with that determined look only a newly learned trick can give you.  Really uh-oh now!

 Friday baby and I took a long walk on the beach.  It is one of the activities I really look forward to during my visits.  This was our first walk together, just us.  It was surprising weather for January in northern Indiana.  It was like a warm spring day.  He was very interested in the waves as we walked along.  He talked to the sand.  We sat a bit and let it run through our fingers.  We talked to the sun and the sky.  And we thanked God we were alive and sharing this moment.  We saw dogs and so baby had to talk to them and say all the things he says to his puppies.  We met people along the way who remarked what an adorable baby he was.  We had nice people tell us how to see Chicago from the beach.  We hugged each other and had fun.

Here are some pictures of our lucky baby and his mommy and daddy.  They are amazed at how fast he is growing.  They are enjoying every single minute of his life.  And theirs.  They are teaching him great things and showing him the world.  They are feeding him fruit and raviolis and bites of new stuff all the time.  When they enter the room, our baby has eyes for no one but them!  And that is how it should be...

I lived next door to one set of grandparents, and 10 miles from the other.  I grew up with them in my life, baking cookies, telling stories, teaching us stuff.  My grandma has a special bowl that held m and m's, just for us.  I want that for my baby.  I am looking at houses.  I am going to move closer to family.  I love my place where I live now so very much.  I love the house, the woods, the yard, the animals, the location.  I love my friends there and all the people I have met.  But I love this baby more.  and I miss being near family.  I can do it.  I did it before and because of that, this mommy met this daddy.  Good move.  Let's roll the dice again...