Monday, December 9, 2013

...impact tremors...

I am constantly surprised that the most casual events can cause such long reaching effects.  Friday night it snowed. It was beautiful!!! Saturday was an extraordinary day. It was colorful and interesting and...unexpected :)
Sunday morning I was thrilled to see the sun.  There were 12 inches of snow in some places and I pulled on my Mucks, grabbed my camera, and headed up the hill. My dogs were as excited as I was! They love the snow. I took 75 reference photos. The sunlight cast prisms of sparkling diamond colors, and rich periwinkle shadows. I know that there is a Wendy painting in there somewhere....

This coming Saturday, I am going to be at the Heritage Oaks Winery holiday arts and crafts event in Lodi. I will be selling  original watercolors, prints, cards, and painted glass. I am looking forward to it and already thinking about how many layers I will need to wear... you believe in divine appointments?

Friday, December 6, 2013

"Early Rising"

"Early Rising"

This little painting was inspired by a soulful experience during the November full moon. I had just arrived home from work after a very difficult day. I was tired and in very low spirits. My head ached and my feet were complaining. I pulled into the driveway and the house was lonely and dark. I climbed out to open the gate, turned and gasped!  The moon was in full, luminous splendor! I was enthralled. I could see every needle on every pine tree in silhouette. I could make out the very tiniest tips of the oak branches. I stood for long minutes just soaking in that magical light ~I felt my dark mood draining away, and my soul's battery recharging. 

Of course I didn't sleep that night...I rarely do during the full cycle...but I don't know anyone who has ever died from lack of sleep... ;) Thank you to my new friend (and art critic) Gordon for his suggestion for the is perfect.

...I must paint those moments that take my breath away....

Friday, November 29, 2013

Focus on the positives...

...newly planted red lettuce bed...

..."Peppermint" Swiss chard...about 8 inches high....

After a wonderfully decadent Thanksgiving yesterday, I was ready for a serious workout and some healthy meals.  Today dawned bright, sunny and warm, so I took a really good walk, then worked out in the garden for the afternoon.  Raking and cleaning up pine needles, digging compost into my veggie beds and generally enjoying the fresh air and sunshine really helps lift my spirits.  As usual the hens are eager to help, as is Tilly, and Jack always has my back...that is, he sits behind me, wherever I am working, facing away, and LITERALLY guards my back.  I LOVE that dog.

I dug out and replanted my asparagus bed. I bought fresh roots from Sallye's garden center, and researched in Mother Earth online discovering that I hadn't planted my last year's roots deeply enough, so they failed miserably.  This time I dug in a wagon load of 
goat-berry compost, too...that ought to do the trick.

In the greenhouse, which I noticed is showing some signs of wear and tear, I weeded the Swiss chard and green lettuce, and planted some assorted beets and some red lettuce seeds. I am experimenting this time with some home-made seed toppers, to see if they get a better start.  The soil was pretty dry, so I watered lightly. I would like to weed my kale patch, but the seedlings are too small--I can't tell which ones are the kale yet!

I have to spend more time in my garden this coming year.  I am going to get automatic water installed, and build a rainwater collection system.  We will be constructing a covered chicken run, and I need to plant more fruit trees, too. There is NOTHING more satisfying than picking an organic, tree-ripened apple and eating it right there in the garden.

Gardening has a way of reminding the gardener that success is often found with patience. I produce large quantities of the most excellent compost. I grow delicious figs, pink lady and Arkansas black apples, almonds, cherries, apricots and grapes. I produce salad greens and raspberries, healthy goats, and lovely egg-laying hens. If my tomatoes aren't the best, I will help support a local farmer by purchasing from her at the farmer's market. :)

...I love this life...

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Autumn sunrise...

I didn't realize that it had been six weeks since I wrote in this blog. It seems like these weeks have been a much happening in my life. It really helps me keep things in perspective when I write, so I vow to be more consistent in my writings....

I saw the sunrise this morning. It was singularly colorful.  Pinks and bright yellows streaking across the sky, back lighting pines and oaks, ridge lines layers of intense golds and yellows. The light comes sparkling through branches, setting the leaves and needles aglow. 

As every morning that I am driving, I watch for the wild ones. The deer are gathering now. I often see large herds of does and fawns with their bucks. I see turkeys, too, and quail.  Fox, coyote, an occasional bobcat, and even more rarely, an elusive mountain lion.  

I feel God in the sunrise. It feels like a promise. feels like hope....

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Art ALL day....:)

"Fiddletown~ Chinese General Store"
First place--watermedia division
Stockton Art League

I left the house at 8:15 am. It was a beautiful, sunny, warm early autumn day. 

Today was a really fun and beneficial day! 
I hung out with artistic people, learned an interesting and beautiful new painting technique from Jeannie Vodden. At my lunch break, instead of buying food, I explored University Art, bought some new art supplies including some watercolor pencils and a 
VERY sexy new brush. 
There is food, then there is food for the soul. Today, I needed soul food.

After the workshop, I headed my Tacoma down Hwy 99 to Stockton. I arrived at the Goodwin Gallery at about 5:15...just in time for the awards presentation. I visited with my good friends Judy Day and Melissa Doyel and her husband Michael, received my first place award and my check, met some more nice and very talented people.  Got BACK in my trusty Tacoma, and headed back to Amador County. HOME sweet home. 

...the air just smells right...

Monday, August 26, 2013

"Relax, Cowboy"

I heard myself tell my friend Anje "Cowboys make me drool."  
She answered "So maybe you should paint cowboys." Tsk.  Anje was right again.

I had taken my good Nikon Cool Pix camera to the fair this year.  It was VERY hot and sunny, and there was a working horse event in the big arena. I wanted reference photos of western horses in tack, so I wandered around shooting horses and their riders from lots of angles, hoping to get some interesting horses for painting. One thing that I have learned is to take LOTS of photos, because you never know what detail you may find on one that you may need in a painting. When I got back to my computer and started sorting through these images, I was so excited about what I had captured! I found several different horses of interest, and I especially loved the face on this mare.  I sketched her out three different ways but was not satisfied with the results. It took me a few tries to see that the mare needed her cowboy! The two of them together made a much more interesting painting. 

I was intrigued by the way this guy was resting his right hand on the saddle and holding his beer and reins in his left hand. I liked the folds in his jeans and the light falling on his boots. I liked painting the tooling on his saddle...his hat is perfect....

While I was painting this, I played with a new technique that I had learned from the fabulous Jeannie Vodden, lifting out color to add highlights. It was really fun to paint different areas separately and watch the image come together. I turned up the color on the mare and and once I got my painting down, it was time for prismacolor!!! 

...this cowboy is entered in the Stockton Art League show...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Happy Birthday Madison!

My absolute FAVORITE six grader!

...a beauty in the making...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

...step by step...

Start with a great photo...

...draw the figures on...

 ...mask the figures to save the pencil and light areas...

...wash in a colorful background...


...carefully remove the mask...start painting the lightest areas first...


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Farmer's Market day...

Here is my selection today....See those long green ribbed things?  Those are Armenian cucumbers.  Those are fifteen inches of drop-dead pure green deliciousness. 
Fabulous flavor, crispy sweet, juicy...You probably will RARELY see them in a grocery store. They bruise easily and don't keep well, and they are at their best when they are not too mature. About 2" in diameter is best, and length is not important. 
DON'T peel them...

Hmmmm, what should I have for lunch today?

Heck yeah...I ate it. 
That bagel--8 points, the rest is fresh veggies and fruit.

....I am an awesome loser :)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Lucy says.....

"It is TOO hot. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

...more COLOR!

"Taylor in a Towel"

Sunday was the first day I have painted for several weeks.  Hey, I've been busy. I decided it was time to paint something summer-ish.  What could be more summer-ish than a smiling grandchild in a beach towel!? My daughter Rachel takes the most colorful and happy photos, so I like to STEAL them and make colorful and happy paintings! Thanks, Rach!!  Taylor will be entered in the Amador County Fair this year....this little painting will make people smile!

Seriously, portraits bring me the most joy. It is the one subject that I keep returning to whenever I need a lift. I love capturing the expressions most of all. I cannot say they are the easiest work, but they are by far the most satisfying. Children are engaging, and animals are just plain fun. I catch myself giggling while painting fur :)

Sometimes, I can go along for several weeks without wanting to paint~ it is like I am trying to work something out. I'll feel a sea change coming.  It is not always a comfortable feeling, it is just a little niggling at the back of my neck, I feel like I am forgetting something important. I feel listless, and bored. Then I will see an image...inspiration strikes and I can't wait to get in and start working!! 

I learned about saturated color while working with Casey White in Martinez during the eighties. I was putting a LOT of time in graphite and charcoal drawing, so color was not high on my priority list. When I saw her work at a local art show and met her, I knew she had knowledge that I needed. Her passion for rich, juicy color has stayed with me for all these years, and I am so grateful.  I used quite a lot of prismacolor pencil in this one. I love the vibrant colors in this portrait, and the love in Taylor's face just shines out of her eyes!

....Taylor gave this painting a "thumb's up" rating...

Friday, June 21, 2013

...celestial celebrations....

This gorgeous photo was found on the web-photographer unknown, but greatly appreciated.
What is it about the moon that is so intoxicating?  This Saturday night there will be a Super Moon…even during the most minor full moon I don’t sleep….I listen.                         On quiet nights on Fiddletown Road, sounds carry for long distances. Crickets and frogs, hunting packs of coyotes, deep-voiced great horned owls, big diesel trucks winding slowly up the curving road, the whizzzzz of a mosquito as it buzzes by your ear.
The soft rustle of the breeze in the tallest pines is a reminder of the night passing. You will often find me wrapped in Granny's quilt, sitting out on the deck, just listening.

....all is well.... 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

...practice, practice....

"Mossy Walnuts"

I practice watercolor painting. Not like a physician practices medicine, rather I practice because watercolor is part craft and part magic. The craft is all about the learned skills-how to use the tools, how to master a wash, saving light, which colors blend well together. The magic comes from within the artist.  It is in the choices she makes ~ the colors she chooses for spring grasses, the way she shapes a branch.  

Some paintings ~ the special ones ~ have an is as if a higher power speaks through eye or hand, guiding the efforts of the artist.

So I practice. I seek inspiration in my daily travels. I choose my special blends of colors. I use my pens and pencils to enhance line and texture and color.  And every time I paint, I wait in anticipation of that moment when I feel the guidance of something beyond the normal experience that turns it into magic. is born in the soul of the artist...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Summer evenings

The warmth from the day lingers and I settle on the deck. It has become a ritual. Listening to the crickets...all is quiet as the sun sets. I listen and hear clearly the small sounds of comfort. I hear the sound of a doe drinking in the barn, another munches her hay. The hens cluck in soft voices to each other as they settle on their perches for the night. 
The dogs lie at my feet, sighing with dog pleasures.  I am there.  All is well in their world.

Deeper and deeper sky blues and purples, shadows inky indigo, the light fades from the tips of the tallest pines on the ridge behind me.  

The robins like the twilight.  Their songs become more strident the darker it becomes. 
I count my blessings.  

...I have so much to be grateful for....

Friday, May 31, 2013

...summer nostalgia....

Reliable transportation :)

Walking through Pokerville Market tonight with my Pokerville Pizza and my good Cooper Vineyards Barbera, I watched several local grammar school kids grabbing snacks. They had on their summer gear, shorts, tank tops, and flip-flops. Their hair was messy and their legs were already showing a healthy tan. It was 87 degrees. PERFECT summer weather. 

I remember those days just as summer vacation began, running home from that last 1/2 day of school, report card in hand, yelling with my brother and friends. That unequaled feeling of freedom...that anticipation of carefree weeks and weeks and WEEKS of perfect sunny days and warm nights.  Barbecues and roasted marshmallows, music Antioch's Fourth of July firework shows from our hillside backyard. I have great memories of going for rides in the back of my Dad's pick-up (before it was unsafe and illegal) down cool country lanes closely lined with spicy scented walnut and fruit trees...picking cherries by the bucketful out of a farmer friend's orchard. (Sandy, Wayne and Charlie will remember that ;) Dad would drive slowly ~ he always was fascinated to see how straight the farmers had made their rows. Mom would just sit and enjoy the views. I can remember the fresh smell of the irrigation canal that all the Byron kids liked to swim in, and the fluting sound of the wings of the mourning dove as they rose off the road just ahead of us. I remember exploring the twisting, rutted roads along the river and fishing for catfish with Craig and our cousins, and that day that I caught a large snapping turtle--Granny cut it's head off! I remember my cut-offs and bare feet and white-blonde pony tail. Later, I remember spending hours on horseback, just me and Maggie, exploring farm roads and watching wildlife. How thrilled I was to catch a glimpse of a  jack rabbit or a gopher snake! What simple, uncomplicated days and nights....

...I remember the sounds of laughter...   

Saturday, May 25, 2013

...Gemini issues....

Yes, I know, it looks like a Wendy painting. :)

May is my birth month, and this year I am officially turning the age of 
"Old Enough to Know Better." 

Geminis are touted to be "ever youthful and fun", creative and clever, and of course, there is that all important battle between the light and the dark. 
So far, the light side is winning ~so far.

So when I opened my birthday gift from my Mom, who looks amazing, it included a bottle of Rapid Wrinkle Repair cream.  LMAO!  Yes, she is a Gemini, too. She is creative and clever and all those things. HA, HA, HA, Mom.... 

...rule #3 is "NEVER lose your sense of humor."

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Volcano ~ Hen House

"Volcano ~ Hen House"

I have been admiring this hen house for years.  It is in Volcano on my daily route to work.  I have viewed it in all kinds of light ~ soft misty light, strong sunshine, has a hundred different faces.  This is my favorite.  It is a bright, sunny, but cool morning~ about 8:30 am. The sunlight is just peaking over the ridge, back-lighting the trees. It highlights the wire and the edges of the roof line ~ casting lovely shadow patterns on the faded red paint. 
I had fun adding the green lichen on the building and the oak tree with my colored pencils....

I love to paint old buildings. I like painted surfaces, wire, old galvanized tin. Chicken houses have a special place in my heart. This house is hen-less, of course.  You can tell by the grass happily growing inside the wire pen. :) It needs hens.

Spring is here, friends. The hills are vibrant, lush green...painted with cobalt blue and quinacridone gold. Today, the trees are enjoying a sweet shower of rain, sprinkled with birdsong and sparkling diamond drops of light.  

....all is well at FiddleSong Studio...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

...goodbye dear friend...

My pretty mom, Judy :)

I just spent seven days in Florida.  
It was a last minute decision, and boy was I glad that I went. Our dear family friend Mel Mountain passed away last week. SO sad. It still brings a heavy heart and big painful tears to my eyes to write about it. Mom and I were talking about him at Easter. We knew that he was fading, but we thought there would be more time.  He was just so sick.  My mom is the most tender-hearted friend. She would do anything for her friends. 
She told me that she and Dad would be traveling to Florida for his services.  
Thinking about it later, I asked myself, "How could I afford to go?" 
The answer came "How will you feel about yourself if you don't go?"
I asked "Will it be OK to take the time off work?" The answer came from my manager, Melody "Just let us know how we can help."
So when she called me in tears on Monday night, I told Mom that I was going along with them. Rick would watch their dog. I would be ready when they were. Three days later, we were flying across the Sierra Nevadas on our way to Tampa. 

My first time in Florida, but not my last. I stepped out of the airport into midnight scented, 80 degree warmth and humidity and immediately loved it. 
"Oh," I thought. "I get it. So this is why they choose to live here...."  
We drove to Brooksville that night in a drenching downpour, and when we finally arrived at the hotel, the night clerk asked, "Are you the Wetzels?"  The famous Southern hospitality ~ it is real. I woke to sunshine and singing birds.  The Spanish moss hung in lacy clusters from the oaks. There were pink drifts of wild phlox blooming alongside the highway. 
I felt like I had stepped into a Faulkner novel.  
I am the first one to admit that I am not a good traveler. I suffer. My stomach is tied in knots for days. I worry about not making the travel arrangements, not having my computer. (I am seriously getting a laptop.) I don't like the lack of privacy. I can't eat the way I want to....
But this was an important trip for me. 
I missed my friends and they were suffering far worse than I.  
My mom and dad are starting to feel their age, and they had lost one of their closest friends. One of their MARBLE PARTNERS.  It does not get any worse than that. 
They needed my calming presence.  They needed me. They needed me to referee :)
"FRED! Don't turn here...!"  
"Judy, stop yelling at me...." 

It was so good to see the Mountains. They are a close knit, strong family. They exude warmth and goodness. It was good to see them gathered together and supporting each other. They are those people who will always do the right thing for the right reasons.  
I love them all. And they love me :)

All you can do is ask for guidance and trust in the answers that you receive. And then take the keys, so you have some control.... :), I could have used a hug. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

...spring lambs...

So, on my home tonight I was driving along Pine Grove/Volcano Road listening to my music when I noticed a group of little dobermans(?) harassing my favorite sheep!! 
"WHAT!  NO WAY!!!"  I yelled. 
I quickly pulled over and drove back to the pasture, expecting to see dead sheep, or at least bloody ones. 
I was going to save sheep lives. 

I immediately realized that I was looking at a large new batch of lambs playing in the grass. There were several little black and tan ones (the min-pins) and they were all RUNNING like crazy, yelling all the way. "AWWWW!!" I said with a ...sheepish grin....and grabbed my camera.

SEEEE the little black and tan butts?

This ewe seemed to be very interested in what I was doing.  She came closer and closer to the fence where I was standing clicking away with my camera...and stamped her little hooves. 
OoooooOOOooo! I felt SO threatened!  
I laughed so hard...she was clearly baffled.  
"Look YOU," she seemed to say..."don't get any closer to my lamb!"
When I could stop laughing, I thought about her body language.  She was stiff legged and stared right into my eyes. Her ears were down, clearly annoyed. 
Definitely not a sheep to mess with! 
But just look at her dark brown wool and her lovely golden eyes.

Sooo, after you have had a good run with your lamb pals, you need some warm sheep's milk....

...then a bit of a nap.

...all is well at Red Barn farm....

Monday, March 25, 2013

"Daffodil Donkey"

I like the patterns of light and shadow on her dirty white coat. We think her name is Sunshine ~ how appropriate! I met this scruffy little donkey last weekend at Daffodil Hill. I see her every morning on my drive to work. While I was visiting with my daughter and grandchildren, we were fortunate enough to hear her lovely voice, when her owner brought her and her pals a flake of hay.

I LOVE donkeys.  They are beautiful, but humble. Surefooted and cautious ~ slow to trust, but willing to try. I want to rescue a donkey or two. 
It is a GOAL. 
I love their loooooong ears, and the sound of their brays. Donkeys and goats are mostly compatible, and donkeys make GREAT guard animals. They will chase a coyote (or a dog) and stomp it if they catch it. 
They will also clean up that alfalfa my does refuse to eat because it has touched the ground.

OH, yeah, I want one.  

...FiddleSong Farm needs a donkey....

Saturday, March 23, 2013

...Smilin' Sal....

It was a gorgeous, warm sunny day here today. The birds were screaming in the trees.  I accomplished a few tasks that I had been putting off ~ some gardening chores, I washed and polished the floors, did some laundry, and made a box for Jenna's painting. Smilin' Sal will soon begin the long journey to upstate New York. A huge smile lit my face as I padded the painting with recycled air pouches and taped it up. I love that feeling of doing the right thing for the right reason. Sharing art is a wonderful thing, and Jenna is going to just love her painting....  

On Wednesday it rained. It started around midnight, and continued throughout the day.  I LOVE the rain.  I love how it makes the air smell, I love that it washes away from the trees the dust that has settled on their leaves and needles, making them sparkle with good health. I can almost see them taking a long, deep sip of the cool water trickling down through their soil. 

On Thursday, I drove up Fiddletown Road on my way to work. The mist was thick and beautiful, casting a soft glowing light where the sun filtered through the tree branches. 
There is something magical about mist. 
My inner voice says "I would love to paint this.  But how do I describe those misty trees in paint? There really is no color, just a soft blue-gray, with hints of darkness and light here and there."  Then I realize that the most intriguing thing about what I was seeing, was that movement cause by my passage. The way the sun filters through and behind each passing tree ~sometimes hiding, sometimes defining branch and leaf and needle ~ creates a sense of mystery.  I drove slower and slower, barely seeing the road, soaking in the atmosphere ~ feeling as if I was witnessing a miracle of Nature.

...sometimes the simplest things in life can give the most joy...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

...a lovely couple...

Mel and Olene Mountain dance at their granddaughter's wedding

These sweet people are two of my favorites. Mel and Olene reside in Florida, near Tampa. I met them at the age of four years old, when they became our neighbors and our best family friends. We share so many wonderful memories with this kindly couple and their children. Summer barbecues and pool parties, visits to a lovely chalet in Incline Village, and so many delicious seafood dinners at the Riverview Lodge in Antioch. 

I have some special funny memories, too. Sandi and I sitting on her bedroom floor, playing barbies and sharing secrets. Craig and Wayne and I digging a fort behind the fence, and sharing Army peanut butter sandwiches. Charlie trying to keep us ALL out of trouble :) Playing football in the street until dark.  

When I listen with my heart, I can still hear our laughter.

Olene is still my mom's best friend. She is an avid reader and art lover, and has done so much to encourage me through the years. She is a cancer survivor, a strong willed Christian woman, and dedicated to her family. I love her soft southern voice and her cultured manner. I would walk a mile for one of her hugs, in the snow.  I owe so much of who I am to her influence.

Mel Mountain is a force of nature. I have a very early memory of him coaching me "That will be 'Yes, Ma'am and No, Sir' young lady" ~ I still say that to this day. He taught me about respect and integrity. He was never too busy to listen to me. He loves to tease, and tells stories about me as a homely little girl riding up to visit with him and saying "Mr. Mountain, guess what?!"  It seems I was a little neighborhood gossip in pig-tails. Mel taught me how to prepare the best glass of iced tea, and how to make a mean martini :) One of the high points of my life was when Mel said to me "I'm proud of you."  We were sitting in my humble cabin talking about my career path.  

Mel is fighting his own battle now. I think of him daily. I want him to feel my prayers and know that I am walking along beside him, holding his hand, all the way from California. 

I want his family to know how much I treasure those memories ~ and that I love all of them. 

...sending love from California....

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

...juncos...cheeeep entertainment.


I have two house cats. Sissy and Tubby. Sisters from the same litter. I raised them ~they were born on my sofa. 
Tubby is purry and vocal. LOVES to be petted. Slightly neurotic.

Sissy is aloof. Sissy has rules. Sissy will allow you to pet her ~while she stands on the bathroom counter.  ONLY.  If you make a mistake, she might bite.

Sissy and Tubby are house cats because the outside cats pick on them. 
They are spoiled rotten. I buy them wheat grass from Raley's.  
I think of ways to entertain them in case they are bored....

This weekend I spent in the studio. Sissy and Tubby sat in the window sill and watched. It was a nice sunny day, but they didn't choose to go out on the deck. 
They looked bored. 
So, I found some stale bread and tore it into tiny pieces. I took it outside and lined the deck railing with them. While I painted, Sissy and Tubby were slightly entertained by several juncos who hopped around the deck railing eating the bread. 

...I like dogs.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Rachel's Plum Blossoms

"Rachel's Plum Blossoms"

I spent today in the studio.  It was a beautiful sunny day, and I am always torn between working in my garden or painting.  I am preparing for a featured artist show at Sutter Creek Gallery for the month of May, and I wanted some more botanicals. My daughter Rachel took  photos of some lovely flowering plum trees, and they were so delicious that I had to paint them!!!  I like the way this turned out with my "Wendy-esque" colored pencil added.  This is about 13" x 13" and will go to my photographer tomorrow....

....a day spent creating art is NEVER wasted time...

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Happy Birthday, Sissy Jane :)

Hope you are having a GREAT time in Disneyland!!! 
Love Grandma and Grandpa :)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cooooool piggy...

Lucy HATES the snow...

FiddleSong Farm just would not be the same without Lucy. Potbelly pigs make interesting pets. They are pretty fun and easy to train, and have individual personalities. They are clean and don't smell at all. They are funny and lovable, but they have some very special needs that cannot be ignored. Just like any family pet, when you adopt a pig into the family, you are committing to provide care and shelter, good feeding practices, and a safe haven for the life of this animal. Potbellies can live up to fourteen years, and they are NOT for everybody! 

When we adopted Lucy, she was a darling little squealer! She weighed about 10 lbs, and quickly learned to go potty in a litter box provided especially for her. We made her a salad every night to go with her special pig chow, and she LOVED grapes!!!  I didn't have any idea what having a potbelly for a pet would entail, so AFTER we brought her home, I got online and started searching the Internet for all of the helpful hints that I could find. Looking back, I wish that we had done a few things differently, but all in all we did OK, because Lucy has turned out great! If you are considering a pig for a pet, find all the information that you can FIRST!! Too many piggies end up at animal shelters having been neglected or abandoned, just because their people didn't know what they were getting into.

Here are a few basic hints:
1. ALWAYS spay or neuter your piggy!! (We didn't do this, and BOY are we sorry!)
2. Don't let your pig eat too much. A pig can literally eat itself to death very quickly, so be vigilant about keeping all food products safely out of your piggy's reach. 
Feed in moderation~ a fat pig is unhealthy.
3. Too hot or too cold is not good! Potbellies are tropical animals, so protect them from extreme temperatures.
4. Watch out for dogs. Even your own dog could be your pig's worst enemy. Our dog Jack is a little jealous of Lucy, so we keep Lucy separated from the dogs unless they are supervised.
5. NEVER REWARD BAD BEHAVIOR WITH FOOD! If your pig "snouts" the door at pig dinner time and you feed her, she will snout the door every day FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE. Pigs have a memory like a steel trap, and they have incredible problem solving abilities, which leads us to~
6. A gardener with a pig better build her fence "pig tight". Lucy checks the garden gate EVERY time that she walks by it, because one day I left it unlatched.
7. When your pig is naughty, TELL HIM! Your pig can tell by the tone of voice if you are unhappy with him. "LUCY, NO!" stops her in her tracks, and she thinks about what she is about to do. Usually this is enough to change her mind, unless there is something edible within her line of sight, then it is:CHARGE!!! EVERY PIG FOR HERSELF!!

Lucy's Cozy Cottage, complete with heat....

Friday, March 1, 2013


"Perfect Hope"

On my drive home tonight, the sun was just setting in brilliant opera. I passed a large yard with daffodils blooming. They were just starting to open, yellows and oranges--some whites. The sunset was just enough that they glowed! I slowed as I passed. I rolled down my window and I stole one deep breath of pure springtime. 

As a nurseryman, I sold literally tons of daffodil bulbs. They come in several different color combinations. I sold tulips, hyacinths, and snowdrops. What we didn't sell, we would plant up in pots of rich soil. They would be blooming right on schedule, enticing buyers to purchase on impulse. Planting daffodil bulbs is like mailing yourself a package to be delivered in the spring. 

...I will never have enough daffodils...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Autumn Wine...

"Autumn Wine"

 I live just fifteen minutes from the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley. The rolling vineyards cover the foothills, creating wonderful colors and shapes and textures. There is something elegant and rich about this growing industry.  Something that exudes wealth and tradition. The vines are carefully chosen and nurtured. They are hand pruned. Nothing is left to chance ~ they are given every opportunity to produce the most optimum fruit. The result is a wonderful variety of fine local wines.

This watercolor "Autumn Wine" is the first in a new series of paintings depicting the wine country. I naturally gravitate to autumn colors. Rich reds and vibrant golds are easily found in September and October here. I like the way the vines created shadows in the back-lit focal leaves. I loved adding the poultry wire with my pens!

....creating excitement with color!

Saturday, February 23, 2013


"Fiddletown ~ Chinese General Store"

One of my good gallery friends and I were talking last Saturday.  He told me that my painting has changed.  He said that since I painted this General Store painting, my work has been improved. I've been considering this comment.  Sometimes an artist can be too close to their own work to really see what is happening with it. I have been painting long enough that I am past that stage where it is a struggle to know how to paint something. I am past the stage where I don't choose the right pigments or brush. Now, I am struggling to find enough time to paint all the subjects that inspire me! I love sunlight through snow-covered branches, and the way the shadows lay darker near the trunk of an oak tree. I am enthralled by the contrasts of back-lit blossoms against an old wooden fence. I want to paint the reflective cerulean blue on the wings of ravens. I want to paint the way John Muir writes. Inspiration is not always visual. It can be deeply spiritual. I feel it inside ~ it bubbles up from my core. 
How do you paint hope? By adding prayers to every brushstroke. is true that you can see an Artist's soul through her work.... 

Monday, February 18, 2013

"Smilin' Sal"

Here is the little painting that I finished this Saturday at the Sutter Creek Gallery. I was inspired to paint it as a thank you gift for one of my favorite authors, Jenna Woginrich. This young woman has inspired so many to try their hand at living a simple, back to the farm lifestyle.  I first "met" her while searching the web for info about homesteading.  I found her blog about Cold Antler Farm.  At that time she had just moved from Idaho to Vermont (if I remember correctly) and I loved her words so much that I went back and read everything I could. THEN I searched for her on Amazon, and I have been a Jenna Addict ever since. 
So ~ the painting.  
It is small ~ just 8" x 10" and is from a photo that she took of one of her sheep, Sal. It is painted in watercolor and embellished with pen and ink and Prismacolor pencils. I will scan it, then ship the original to her address in New York state. 

It is a humble and sincere repayment for all the times she made all her readers laugh and cry and long for the simple pleasures that she experiences. 

...FiddleSong Farm is thriving...

Sunday, February 17, 2013 favorite day...

Today, it got into the high 60's here at FiddleSong Farm.  Not a cloud in the sky, no wind. 
I decided it was a good day to work in the I dug out my oldest, most comfy jeans, a gray T-shirt and my Giants sweatshirt, scooped my ratty hair up in a clip and went out to work.  I took my little CD player and cranked up the music.  I like it loud. 
First I cleaned out the hen house. It was raked and shoveled, cobwebs swept away, and freshened up with a good load of fresh straw.
Eulah (pronounced YOU-la ;) is my constant companion. Her cheerful humming could be heard an inch from my boots wherever I stepped.  She watched carefully for any scratched up seeds or unearthed worms...


...and yes, there is a Rooster Cogburn to go with Eulah.

"Rooster Cogburn"

While I worked, raking up pine needles, pruning, digging out the ever pervasive mint, I became aware that my strength is returning. My energy levels are up. I am happier and feel better about myself than I have in a long time. My knees are covered in dirt, my face is naked, my hair is a serious problem, my nails are crescents of black ~but I love to garden...and I can't WAIT until spring!    

...I have a clean garden, and happy chickens.  All is well....