Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Cadillacs.....

I have a car collection of replicas. The Art Store in Des Moines must have made a mistake in an order for their store as they have dozens and dozens of these cars. All are either blue or pink Cadillacs. I bought one last year at their garage sale for a dollar, as they were all marked originally five dollars. Well, I haven't asked anyone at the store about them but all of them are all over the store and they are now each one dollar. Most cars like this that I have in my collection were purchased at car novelty stores and they ran ten bucks or a little less. So I bought a pink cadillac one to keep the other blue one company. I guess the store is stuck with an inventory that they don't think they are going to every get rid of but I keep being tempted to go in a buy them all up and then doing something creative or insane with them.
The pottery in the background was created by me in the past of my teacher career.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cardinal Nesting.....

On our side porch is a vining clematis plant. A couple of years ago this female cardinal decided to make a nest up at the top of the vines. The clematis itself is just starting to leaf out. Our cat never ever noticed her and she succeeded for awhile, getting some eggs lain. We could come and go and she never budged. Unfortunately, our neighbors have many outside cats and the nest was disturbed one night and the bird had to move on to another location. This female and the bright red male are our only pair of cardinals on our property, and they continue to raise young every spring. I should say that around our block is their territory, but we claim them as ours as they eat from our feeder in the winter and berries from our evergreens.
The picture of the eggs is the only nest of cardinal eggs that I have ever seen. I am glad the female didn't get hurt and it would have been fun to have them hatch. I would have hated her loosing grown chicks so it was probably better that she had to move on to a new site. I do think that our big evergreen Minnesota balsam tree is a safer place for her to raise her young. They are busy right now out there getting sticks as we see them scouring the ground for nest material. Spring isn't coming soon enough around here.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Bridge to where.....

This is a photo I took of my bridge in my garden a few years back. The picture has been treated with special effects from my Photoshop program. The program has many different filters that allows you to change a photo into a poster like picture. I took a sixteen hour course on the program and since then it has been upgraded at least three times.
The bridge was given to me by one of the junior class sponsors at the school where I worked. I was conned into painting a very large mural for the prom of many French storefronts. I really liked doing it, but the day we painted them, I ran a normal class load of students coming in and out for class. I also had a half dozen of juniors and a junior mother in there assisting in the painting of the mural sections. It was a circus, and I work well that way, but at the end of the day it is time to have brain surgery. I probably had a sign or my back that said super stupid.
The bridge, which had been used as a backdrop for couples photos, was given to me rather that send it to the dump. It was also a guilt gift from that sponsor who knew what that class had done to me.
I felt self-conscience about it for a while out there but now it looks pretty natural. I plan to plant a small growing plant, I don't know what, to depict a river or stream going under or through it. Also by another year I am going to have to replace the floor of it as the wood that was used was just intended for a prom and not for weathering out side in the weather.

Friday, March 27, 2009


I love cake and this is a photoshop design of my birthday cake. I have heard that food is one of the most difficult things to do and I can see why. The textures of the cake were hard to get into focus. This is red devil's food cake. I use to buy it at a place called Garden Cafe. It went under in Iowa but maybe it is still operating in the Omaha area. That is where it originated. It was a good birthday and my last one in my fifties.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


This is a photo taken by our youngest son Aaron who lives in Maine. He just called to wish me happy birthday and shared that he and girlfriend, Keegan, are going to get married this summer on top of one of these mountains in Acadia National Park. The new thing for young couples is to go somewhere out of the way, get married with a minimum of people, then have a party or reception later. That is what they are going to do. We are happy for him and are anxious to go to visit them and see Maine for our very first time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Past....

I was searching for a photo for the day. It is so gloomy and gray outside and cold. The tulips are magically coming up and the grass is on it third day of greening but I just don't want to go out there and force a picture. This picture has always fascinated me. It is not a great picture. I guess it is the colors that I like as the closer you look you see messy stuff on shelves. This was one of my book shelves when I was teaching. The saw blade was a gift from a shop teacher who wanted me to do a painting on it for free. I have painted on barn doors and old security safe doors but I don't want to start painting on things that has sharp edges on them to cut up you artistic fingers.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Garden Sculpture.......

I like sculptures in the garden. These characters spent the winter outside and they fared pretty well. Boy with the bucket, which is metal and is rusted out, continues to be strong and carry his bottomless vessel with somewhat joy. Bird man is a wonderful character that watches over the garden flowers all summer right next to our art gallery sign. When my wife finds it hard to find me things for presents she always can find a sculpture for me. I happened to get the bird man for my wife and this area is her special garden.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Waiting for the good weather....

This little angel survived the rough winter and is awaiting for the spring warm weather that is more desirable. You can see that my cone flower bed needs to be cleared. This is the bed where the naked ladies, or surprise lilies will pop up soon.. I blogged about this in an earlier blog and you could compare that to how grim looking Iowa looks after the snow hits. I have a chokecherry tree that is budding and leafing today, right after our rain last night. We have severe storms coming tonight so that will open up a lot more of the buds for sure. Last night's rain caused our grass to start to green for the first time this year.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Jack Sparrow, not the Captain one....

Taking photos of birds can be challenging. Our birds are not that tame, yet when this guys gets out the portable door at the back he walks around waiting for me to pick him up and put him back in his cage. His name is Jack Sparrow. On the most part the black camera box scares them and they take to the back of the cage. The parakeets could care less about me poking a camera up to the wires, but these guys didn't like it and they scolded me continually. This guy, Jack is the mate to the other gray cockatiel and her name is Canola. On my regular blog, I will tell you someday how many offspring that they have given us.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Finding Nemo......

This fish loved the camera. He is a chiclid that was given to me and he gave me this finding nemo look of a clown fish. The fish below are my koi and a couple of gold fish that I have raised from small fry. Fish never stay still so it is hard even for a digital camera to catch everyone in focus.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Collections are great but they would be better if they were self-dusting. The center figure is one of my mom's planters. I don't know if it is very old but it has been around awhile. I am haphazardly collecting these planters. I think they are called majolica ware but maybe planters aren't dignified enough to be called that. I have bought a few on a whim and my mom had a few of them. The white pitcher is hobnail milk glass that belonged to Della's mother. The cup and saucer on the left was one of the many that my mom had collected. The Mother Goose and her baby is one of a collection I bought for Della a long time ago when precious moments figures were so popular. The expressions on the faces of both of the two are great. In the case is a little boy figure that is taking a somersault and is from the country kids collection which I didn't buy very many for my wife. It was a fluke purchase. The carnival glass container with lid was a wedding present to us almost 25 years ago in June. Anyway, the duck is a part of a larger collection that I will share as time goes by and the desk was Della's mom's.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Studio cat.....

Nala is our Manx kitten who is almost full grown. She has made a lot of trips to the vet and and a lot of daily care these past months, so she is really close to her people. Della is standing at her easel painting away and Nala is a close as she can be but is taking a break on that stool. She doesn't care that the stool is too small for her to lay down upon, but she likes to adapt. She had been sitting on the stool and staring at Della while she worked. Nala is restricted to our kitchen, gallery-studio area so we always have someone at our shoe laces or embracing our pant leg. We have her crate when she gets to be too active or tries to walk all over our drawing tables.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Green truck for the Irish....

It isn't very much an Irish green but it is green. Having photographed the old trucks in Grand Marias and the old car next door I was thrilled to see this Ford parked next door. It stayed there for a month while a man was reworking a house and adding a porch on to the house. I later found out that it was a borrowed truck for hauling the wood waste and I saw a for sale sign on it this past winter. No money, no storage, no reason to buy it, but I should would like to own it.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Ditch lilies....

I have always liked this photo. It is a few years old and the digital camera really picked up neat but not so natural colors. When I was working in my back yard, I thought I wanted something that would be a good ground cover and fill in an area around my fish pond. I also like things that are free. Della's home farm has these lilies but I knew that just outside of town, where a farm place use to be, that the ditch was filled with these. They are very colorful and do spread quickly. I see these for sale in garden flyers, but they don't call them ditch lilies. I can imagine you can go anywhere in Iowa and find these growing wild where an actual farm still exists, or in ditches where all of the farmstead has been torn down and is plowed over, growing corn. I have moved some of mine into a problem area that is low light and dry and they are doing well. I also planted some under an apple tree and it is going to be great in a couple of years.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Des Moines Botanical Center...

Botanical centers are so inspiring. They have such great conditions to grow most everything. Ours in Des Moines has canaries, finches and parakeets flying around freely. The birds aren't scared of the people and fly around looking for scraps of food from a snack bar area in the balcony. I always get so excited about planting new things and getting my gardens looking better. It is discouraging when the out of doors of Iowa gets to be 80 degrees and things don't look so alive. I try to plant as many perennials as I can so they can survive Iowa's climate and I don't get so much death from the heat.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A very sunny day for Nala....

Nala loves to wait at the door for Barney to come in but today the sun was shinning and she was loving it. She sat and soaked in the heat. Later she laid down and rolled onto her back and just soaked it all in until her fur was so warm.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Kalanchoe and Jade...

We pronounce it incorrectly all the time so it is hard to say it the right way. This is not a very professional shot but I wanted to show you what I found as a surprise a few weeks ago during a snow storm. These are plants salvaged from funeral flowers. I put a Jade plant and a Kalanchoe together in new soil and have left it alone in my east window for quite some time. I have not been watering my plants as well as I should but this is the kind of plant that doesn't want water. So while I was watering the plants a couple of weeks ago because they were all wilted, I saw this glowing yellow against the window. I turned it around and the plant had put out flowers and they were all pressed against the window begging for light. As you can see from the picture the earth is tilting back and we are have spring-like lighting now. The plant really likes it too.
The reason I said it was less professional as you can see in the picture our weather adviser warning device to let us know when the next tornado or thunderstorm is approaching. Not looking forward to that season, but love the yellow flowers on this plant.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Painted Lady Butterfly.....

While growing up in southern Iowa, I thought myself pretty observant, but I never saw this particular kind of butterfly. In fact I had to look it up a couple years back to find out the name of it . It is identified as a painted lady. We see them a lot here at Woodward, north central Iowa, along with monarchs and moths. When people on our public tv talked about them they say they have been prevalent in Iowa since the prairie days.
An interesting note is that we do live in a monarch butterfly migration route and in the fall they will fly in by the hundreds and cling on the south parts of bushes and then are gone the next day. They eventually make it all the way to Mexico which is really hard to believe. Now that we have digital cameras, that will be my goal this fall to capture that scene.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Made in the shade......

Nala our Manx kitten has made herself at home. You can see that the rocker she is in has ribbons attached to the arms and her favorite birdcage of birds hangs above it. When not relaxing she is running back and forth and trying to get on top of anything that is higher than she. I am still working for that perfect picture of her and our border collie together. She just adores him, rubbing against him and playing with his nose and tail.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Natural color number 3

One more time, you can find colors galore in a pile of tomatoes. I just found this picture on our old computer. I thought it had been trashed on my school computer. Not a great picture but very colorful. Steak tomatoes, Romas, and Celebrity tomatoes are the varieties.
I bought my seeds to grow tomatoes last week and we may get them started next week. Best Boy and Better Boy for my father in law, and I have Brandywines, Romas, and Steak Busters. Twelve degrees is predicted tonight, gosh I can't wait for spring.

Natural color number 2.......

Fall is the sign that we are going to have winter, yes, you know, but this birch tree is such a treat to see each fall. This is the tree that I brought home as a three foot stick from Minnesota. That had to be over thirty years. It turns yellow so quickly, almost overnight, them it drops all of the leaves within a three day period. While it is turned and if it happens to rain, they are all gone overnight for sure. Again I point out that there is nothing more beautiful than natural color.
I found this one on our old blue colored mac computer. Wow, has technology changed. It took forever just to start up the machine, then you can't find anything on it until you get on the hard drive, then dig for applications three clicks later. I am glad we are just keeping that around for storage of documents and photos and to collect dust.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Natural color.......

As an artist, I do a lot of mixing of color and one can mix thousands of colors from just a few tubes of paint, but.....natural color is wonderful. One really can't imitated the color that is created in the sky, in the grass, or in the flowers of this earth. I took this picture of my daughter-in-laws', Patricia, wedding bouquet. I didn't get it centered very well as it was laying on a white table cloth and I was hovering over it without a good way to frame it. It became an accidental photo shoot, take what you can get, but I guess that really is how the professionals do it.
I have to admire Patricia for all the hard work she put in to her flowers. She bought bulk flowers and made all the table arrangements, corsages, her own bouquet, everything that one needs for a wedding. She did a great job.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Flower girl........

My son was married last June in Chicago. He and his bride to be had found an old cottage that was owned by the state. It was a donated arts and crafts style house that now is a state park called the Grove. Before the wedding started, you can see Grandma with her granddaughter and they are waiting for the wedding to start. It was a neat house inside and had a balcony over a two and half story den room in which the wedding took place. This stairs and the light coming in made this a Norman Rockwell photo. The picture that got away was the little girl standing on her toes looking out the window, but I didn't even have the camera turned on yet so I really missed out.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My cupola......

My garden shed is my pride and joy. Shop class built it, I finished it with good flooring , and attic loft for storing wood, and stained the siding. I made the cupola in the winter while I was awaiting spring and for the guys to finish the shed. Of course it is too small. and I have plans to make it larger. One way to make it store more things would be to throw away half of my junk. Some day there will be an attached greenhouse made from all of the old windows that I have collected from old houses.

Friday, March 6, 2009


I like to visit the Des Moines Botanical Center. This photo was taken a few years back and I have always enjoyed it. The Japanese paper lanterns are a nice special effect in the winter time while the outside is so very cold.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

It is done......

My new birdhouse with the ash tree in the background. I didn't remember that the ash tree didn't lose it leaves during the winter, but it does seem to drop seeds and leaves all summer into the fishpond below.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Nala the cat.......

Nala is our kitten that we rescued off the street. She was freezing and so sick. She is a Manx kitten, no tail, but has been brought back to life. She has some special needs that we have to tend to continually, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

If interested in the long story check this out-

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My first day out.....

This is a picture I took a few summers ago. The coneflowers were having a great year. The bridge was a freeby from a high school prom. I had helped a lot in painting a wall of scenery for the prom and they gave me the bridge for my garden. Instead of tearing it down or just throwing it away it was easier for them to dump it in my yard. The evergreen trees are my babies that I grew from small fry to large Minnesota pines. The tornado that went through town, snapped them both off at the base in less than seconds.