Visitors to My Garden

When I hear the word “garden” I think of an area that was put in with a lot of thought. Something planned. Neat sections of either veggies or flowers, shrubs, etc. Areas that people admire and might say “Wow, that’s impressive!”

Not mine.

My garden areas are planned, but what’s actually planted in them are a bit haphazard. They need some work (always) and I wouldn’t use the words “neat” or “wow” in any description of them. No, someone would most likely say something more like, “Oh, how… nice. Must be a lot of work.” Which really means: “You don’t spend a lot of time weeding, do you?”

I put plants in flower beds with the hope that they live and look somewhat attractive. Attractive to me. Attractive to the birds and butterflies. As they get out of hand, I try to wrangle them in… the beds, not the birds and butterflies.

My flower beds are often the result of experiments in what will or won’t grow in a particular spot. They won’t attract any local Garden Club visitors or awards. However, no matter what the areas look like, I will have visitors that appreciate my efforts… visitors in the form of squirrels, rabbits, and the aforementioned birds and butterflies. (Other insects will not be talked about. I have declared them, especially those that bite, insecta non gratis.)

The birds enjoy plantings they can hide or nest in. The rabbits enjoy just about anything they can eat. I have had to say goodbye to many a colorful flower due to them being a tasty treat for the bunnies. (That’s ok. I like watching bunnies and have had several over the years who trust me enough to let me get close.) The squirrels enjoy digging in the flower beds and taking the occasional nibble at the roots of some of the plants. Then there are the butterflies who seem to enjoy everything.

Sadly, the many varieties that used to come have diminished over the years. However, the little white ones still love to hang around and keep returning summer after summer. I’m no expert, but they look like ones called “southern white”. These little visitors to my garden are quite active. They dance from flower to flower, and plant to plant, as they seem to explore and delight in what is out there.

Due to their continued presence and apparent delight in my yard, I included them in a series of paintings for an art show I had in June. It was my way of saying, thank you little butterflies, I appreciate you and you can be visitors to my garden any time you want.

And bring your friends.

Last Fairway of the Day

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I never hit the golf course early in the morning. Teeing off to the sun coming up was not for me. However, playing late in the day is something I always enjoyed (except for the mosquitoes). Being on a course early and late evenings appealed to me. Especially when there was enough clouds and other particulates (great word, rolls right off the tongue) in the sky to make for a gorgeous prelude to sunset.

I often paint sunsets, I just love seeing them, and sometimes will paint them with a golf theme. This is my latest one and comes from many memories of being on the last fairway or last few fairways heading back to the clubhouse. It’s a soothing time of day. Yes, the shadows and loss of light did make it hard to see where the ball landed. But let’s be honest, we seem to have that problem even during the brightest time of the day. “Did you see where it landed? What do you mean, you weren’t watching?” Yeah, yeah.

Evenings often bring out sounds and sights you wouldn’t see during the mid-morning to mid-afternoon times. Families of deer nibbling grass on the fairways. Rabbits and (depending on where you are) foxes, coyotes, racoons. Birds are settling down for the night and singing their end of day songs. Stars are starting to light up in the darker areas of the sky. Colors are less washed out.

Even if you weren’t having your best day on the course, something about that last fairway when the sun is getting ready for bed makes it a little bit better. At least it did for me. Hopefully, for you too.

Birdie on the Back Nine

If you’ve been reading any of my latest posts, you will know that I used to play golf. Wasn’t great, wasn’t terrible, but loved playing. At the time I was a member of the Executive Ladies Golf Association and our local chapter played a lot all over Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. We also played in some regionals in other states to the north. Anyway, recently, for some reason, I’ve been thinking about those days.

Today’s topic? Birdies.

Birdies, for me did happen once in a while, but they were not the norm on my scorecard. However, because of where I played, I got to enjoy many birdies of the avian variety. Birds and golf courses. They go hand in hand.

One time when I was working as a volunteer for the PGA Tour when it was at English Turn in New Orleans, the foursome teeing off had to wait while a male duck chased a female duck all over the front area of the tee box. Both were quacking like crazy and everyone was laughing their heads off. Took several minutes for the crazed courtship to careen down to the wooded area next to us. The starter had some funny things to say which only prolonged the laughter and the delay.

All kinds of feathered friends live at golf courses. Ducks, geese, wild turkeys, and I kid you not… peacocks. Yes indeed! Imagine getting ready to hit your ball and a peacock lets loose with a scream. One of my foursome almost let go of her club on that swing. I believe that was on a course somewhere near Lumberton, Mississippi. Really pretty course. Have no idea if it’s still open and now wonder if the peacocks are still around.

I have to say, of all the birds found on courses, I do believe that I enjoy seeing herons the most. All kinds and sizes have patiently watched me play by. They are so stately and quite elegant when they take flight. Watching one always seemed to have a calming effect on me.

At least until I sliced my shot. Oh well. I’ll just paint them now.

Bogey on a Par 3

If you’re a golfer, current or past, you know that on some Par 3 holes you can wind up with a score on your card that sure isn’t a three. Unless you are a scratch golfer of course. Not me. Far from one. I was a proud mostly 38ish handicapped player. My game was handicapped, not me. Though some may think so if they saw my scorecard. Anyway, I pretty much looked forward to the par 3 holes. It gave me a chance to feel like par on a hole was within my reach and on the rare occasion, I got the chance to score a birdie on more than one.

Nice memories. Now back to the topic.

Having spent most of my golfing life on Gulf Coast courses (Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida), I have seen a lot of things that got in the way of my advancement to the green. Often, these things were not to be concerned about. They were enjoyable to see. But then again, sometimes they did cause some degree of “oh sh@*”. You know, things you really don’t want to encounter. Like gators.

More often than not, these watchers of the action would be idling in the waters near the fairway staring at you. I presume to make sure you didn’t give your ball a little nudge out of the rough or because they were mentally preparing you for a new recipe. A few times, as we’ve seen on television, these golf gators would be casually strolling across the fairway making sure you knew who the real Marshall was on the course. One time however, it appeared that one had decided to take a darn nap! Great.

I will admit, in this painting, I did move the gator closer to the green than what actually happened. That’s the thing about us artists, we often like to paint the idea of something. Makes things so much more interesting.

For me, bogeys on holes were most welcome. Double bogeys were ok too. Gators near the green? Not ok. We made a lot of noise and eventually the party crasher slunk back into the water. Don’t remember what I scored on that hole and after all these years not sure which course in Louisiana… just somewhere near New Orleans.

If you are heading to a course anytime soon, I hope you enjoy your day. Stay away from bogeys in the form of gators and the most dreaded thing of all…. stay away from snowmen. (wink, wink).

Morning Tee: Drink It In

Some people like their “tea” as in the liquid stuff that you enjoy hot or cold at various times of the day. Others, like so many I know, prefer theirs to be in the form of a golf ball sitting on a long narrow piece of wood. Ah yes, watching the sunrise for that first shot from the tee box. The early morning tee that some say is better than any jolt of java.

I have to admit I haven’t played golf in years. It has become too painful in too many joints though I can’t make myself get rid of any of my equipment… hope lingers. However, I still have oodles of fond memories of all the years and all the courses I have played. Which is why I enjoy painting golf landscapes, mostly made up of from memories and a lot of “artistic license”.

I must confess. I have never started off a golf day at the crack of dawn. Those who do are a different breed from myself. No, I was a later in the day kind of golfer. I preferred watching sunsets on the course. That, however, is not the topic of this particular missive.

I do like sunrises and have often painted my version of them. So…. for all those golfers who love their morning tee, this little painting is a toast to you. Drink in your mornings with gusto and great satisfaction. The air is cool, the breeze slight, and the company jovial.

It will be a good day.

Lone Star Series: #8

This is the last one of the series. Yep, I think it’s time to put it to rest. At least for now. This one is titled The Pond. If you are a city person, you may have never had the chance to “head down to the pond” for some good times. Ponds on many farms are not just for the livestock. Many are also the family’s swimming pool (or hole if you want to get real). In addition to possibly being a place to swim, many farms have ponds stocked with fish and which makes them “multi-use” additions to the land.

Anyhow that’s what we did in the ponds on grandpa’s farm. Fish. As a verb, not a noun. Fishing for perch and catfish. Those are what was swimming in grandpa’s ponds. Not people. Just fish, along with turtles, frogs, insects, and the occasional snake. Oh, the dog too. Throw a stick in the water and in he’d go! Grandpa’s ponds were mostly surrounded by wooded and brushy areas so lots of critters (other than, of course, cows!) could be found creeping around the banks looking to drink or for something to eat. If you wanted to get in the water, you went to the creek, not the pond. (That’s a whole ‘nother story which I wrote about a long time ago.)

There were no trips to the local bait shop out at the farm. We got our bait by taking butterfly nets and running through the fields catching grasshoppers for our hooks. We also got some of the biggest and best worms ever born by digging in the piles of old dirt, hay and cow poop behind the barn. Grandpa would handle the pitchfork and turn over the mess and we would dig in with our old spoons and all ten fingers. Can’t go fishing and be afraid of getting “earthy”.

Those were some good times.

Lone Star Series: #7

More cows! Not much to say about this painting other than I felt the need to do another one in tribute to all the cows that have been moved (or moooved) out of the area. No, I won’t get on my soapbox this time about development. Also, cows are popular, and this one was larger than the first one for this series.

Cows II

I realize this style is not realistic. It’s not supposed to be. It’s representational. However, let me tell you, “representational painting” of bovines (or any animal) is not easy. I won’t admit to how many times I have had to scrape away a cow and try again, on a number of paintings. Anyway, it’s all about the illusion of the cow. Repeat after me… “I see cows. I see cows.” Keep saying it. You’ll see them.

This is another palette knife painting using oils and cold wax. It’s titled Cows II. Yeah… not very imaginative, but I need to reinforce the illusion. Ha!

Lone Star Series: #6

Here we go again! Number six in the series is simply The Creek. It’s in the gallery right now and I’m not sure if I need to bring it home and tweak it a bit. Like my painting, The Field, my gut is telling me it needs something. Maybe some cows! No, maybe the hint of some wildflowers. We’ll see.

The Creek (oil and cold wax)

So what inspired this? Well, when we aren’t in a low rain period, there are quite a few creeks around here. I like seeing them because I know that the wildlife will have a place to drink from. With all the dang development going on, habitat is being destroyed right and left. If you know me… you know how much I dislike seeing that.

I also like creeks because they can be a fun thing to explore. Provided you are wearing the appropriate footwear. Birds, frogs, interesting rocks, reptiles and interesting weeds or wildflowers are often found along the edges. Truthfully, I haven’t explored any for a long time. Growing up, I was an avid and eager explorer of such things. I have tons of memories of fun times exploring creeks, streams (wet and dry), rivers of all widths, and lakes. It’s what you did before cable and electronics took over a person’s childhood. If it weren’t for so many foot and ankle issues, I’d still be attempting it. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

Happy exploring!

Lone Star Series: #5

Moonlit evenings. I love them. There is something about a bright moon shining over a landscape that moves something deep within my soul. (Now if scary music starts playing… my feet may get moved!) Many times driving back from my daughter’s home to mine, I have had the pleasure of being presented with a beautiful moon softly bathing the landscape below. It was such a night several years ago as I was driving the backroads from Celina through Prosper to McKinney that has stayed in my mind… and inspired this painting in my Lone Star series.

Have you ever seen something like this? I sincerely hope you have. Nights like this, no matter where you are, should be treated as a gift. Nature is full of such gifts. You just have to look and appreciate the moments. (And not drive off the road if you are behind the wheel. Safety first, appreciation second.) On the other hand, if you are a huge fan of werewolf movies… well, never mind, you probably know about garlic and silver bullets.

In conclusion. I hope you get as much enjoyment from moonlit nights as I do. As the song says, “the moon belongs to everyone, the best things in life are free”.

Lone Star Series: #4

I can’t speak for other parts of the state, but North Texas has a nice sized group of hot air balloon enthusiasts. Certain times of the year, you can see them floating lazily below the clouds as they travel with the winds aloft. Who doesn’t feel the tiniest bit of awe at these monster sized balloons in their coats of many colors. I have not been up in one, can’t say that I really want to… unless it’s tethered. Not scared, just don’t want to have to wear an adult diaper on a trip. It’s not like I can say… “can you pull over right there? I need to pee.”

Sky Candy Over the Farm

In the small field between my house and the community college across the way. Sometimes hot air balloons will unload, fire up, and take off in the early morning hours. Talk about a “wake up call”… you can’t sleep through that sound! How lovely though to watch it lift off and drift overhead. My husband and I will walk out onto the deck or over to the back of the yard and salute the effort with our coffee cups. They are so close we can converse with the handlers. At area balloon fests, they will light up after dark for a “glow” event. It’s awesome to see.

I love seeing them in the sky here in North Texas. They look so peaceful up there. Maybe one day I will take a ride. I’m sure Depends come in my size.