Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The End of August

Today is the last day of August. Where did the summer go? When I started this blog back in April, I was writing about harbingers of spring. Now, some of the sassafras leaves are starting to turn color – a sure sign that summer is on the wane. I usually spend September in denial even though I can plainly see the ferns browning and the leaves turning.

Here I am, whining on a pleasant sunny day while the poor people of the hurricane- ravaged south are wondering how they will survive. It is heartbreaking to hear some of their stories. Just continuing to lift them up in prayer…as well as all pets, strays and wildlife…

Nature Journal Sketch: Sassafras

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Biff Update

These are video captures of Biff taken yesterday. We can see him growing right before our eyes. Last week, he was a cute blob; this week he’s looking more like a baby mouse. His little eyes are still unopened, but they should open any time now. He has a very sweet disposition and climbs right up into our hands, looking for his bottle.

And, for those of you who just can’t get enough of the Biffster, click

Biff Explores my Hand

Monday, August 29, 2005

Indian Pipe

Although it looks like a fungus of some sort, The Indian pipe (Monotropa uniflora) is actually a native wildflower. It doesn’t use chlorophyll to make its food from sunlight, so there is no trace of green. Instead, it is known as an epiparasite because it obtains its nutrients through its roots from a fungus in the soil that parasitizes green plants.

Indian Pipe

Friday, August 26, 2005

Embellished Fiber Collage

Well, I think this is the final version of my little fiber collage. At any rate, I am stalled here because I’m out of nymo thread so I can’t add any more beads at present. I added four of my favorite twinkle buttons to anchor the corners and three antique glass buttons to add a little texture on the left. On the bottom, I added a piece of turquoise trim from my mom’s old stash. I can’t say enough how much fun I’ve had with this project (thanks to Susan and my classmates!) and I’d really like to make more…

Embellished Fiber Collage

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Der Belsnickle

Here is a Santa I created last year using an air-drying modeling compound called Delight. It was the first time I’d ever attempted sculpting a face. His oversized head, simple features and stern expression were inspired by antique Belsnickles. His vest was fashioned from a quilted wallhanging I had started years ago but never completed.

Der Belsnickle

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Meet Biff

Here’s our newest kitten, Biff (baby mice are called kittens). We found him, abandoned, in our yard over the weekend. I didn’t want to blog about him until I was certain that he was going to survive. This photo is from a video capture taken last night. I apologize for the poor quality, but I wanted to give you an idea of his size compared to DH’s thumb. And he’s already much bigger than he was when we first found him. His eyes are still unopened.

At first, we tried to feed him regular milk – he hated that. We bought KMR (kitten milk) at the pet store. He hated that. Back to the pet store we went and picked up ESBILAC (puppy milk) – BINGO! He loves it!!! He seems to be thriving. We get up every few hours to feed him – we both get up because it’s a two man operation, trust me. We figure we have at least $50.00 invested in him already and we haven’t even bought him housing, yet. Right now, he is living in a shredded tissue nest we made for him in a plastic lazy susan in a cardboard box on top of a heating pad – so he is toasty warm. We are both quite smitten with him. DH can’t wait to buy him his first


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Nature Journal Sketch: Black Tupelo Leaves

The black tupelo leaves are beginning to change color and the fruit is ripening…

Nature Journal Sketch: Black Tupelo Leaves

Monday, August 22, 2005

Unidentified Butterfly

I have searched my nature guides and the web and still can’t identify this butterfly DH photographed the other day. It’s quite large (wingspan approx. 5 in.) and fairly common in the Pine Barrens. I’m stumped…

Unidentified Butterfly

Friday, August 19, 2005


Late yesterday afternoon, I was sitting outside having a cup of coffee and writing my daily morning pages (okay, I was a little behind schedule), when I heard loud squawking and looked up to see three hummingbirds that appeared to be fighting with each other near the feeder. Anyway, I grabbed my little camera as quickly as I could and managed to get a shot of one before they all tore off to continue their fight elsewhere. I’m sorry there was no time to zoom up on him.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Another Page for the New Site

I just wrote an About page for my Shanty Clauses site that briefly explains the inspiration behind the creation of my newest sad-but-sweet Santas. I thought it would be fun to include a couple of photos from the 50s (yikes!) of Santa and me…

Monday, August 15, 2005

Thinking Orange...

I have been careful not to make this a political blog, but I have to say that I am standing in prayer and solidarity with the people of Gush Katif. May the Lord bless and protect them. If you are interested in other-than-mainstream coverage of this, go to Israel National News.

New Santa Site and Monoprinting Course

I just published a preview of the homepage of my new web site, Shanty Clauses. None of the links are working, yet (except the ones in the body of the text linking back here to the blog and to my other web site, Just Clauses). I still need to have my first few Santas photographed and that pretty much depends on DH’s schedule.

And I just signed up for
Susan Sorrell’s next class at Joggles. If it’s anything like the last one, it will be great fun – I’m looking forward to it! I hope the whole gang from the last class is signing up…

Friday, August 12, 2005


Yesterday, despite my best intentions, I probably should have just stayed in bed. I had decided I wanted to make a bag from the Threads pattern for which Kay Susan had provided a link from her blog. I had cut out two pieces of denim fabric for the front and back with the intention of creating stripes with heavy cotton thread on both panels with decorative machine stitching. I had been testing my stitches on sample fabric before sewing on the denim and everything was going well. The machine was humming along – until I decided to try a stitch with a somewhat dense design. It worked on the sample. It even worked on one panel – and then all heck broke loose! Stitches began to pile up on one another and the design became very much distorted. The machine wasn’t jamming but it was acting “confused.” I then tried the same stitch in a lightweight rayon thread and it sewed out perfectly. Note to self: Never use heavier weight threads with densely designed pre-programmed stitches. My bag will now have a plain back as it would be impossible to unpick the bad stitching. Argh!

Next, I wanted to sew some beautiful antique glass buttons down the front of a vest I designed for my latest Santa. I broke the shanks of three buttons attempting to do that and had to rummage around for more matching antique buttons with thicker shanks. Argh!

Later in the day, I thought I'd do a little drawing as the woodbine was calling to me. I set up my folding chair, got my journal and pencil and began drawing the contours of the leaves when I felt something wet on my left wrist. A bird had pooped on me! Argh!

I finally got to bed (around 1:00 a.m.), tossed and turned for quite awhile and, when I finally fell asleep, I dreamed that I’d been attacked by a rabid raccoon and had to be rushed to the hospital for shots. Argh!

Today has just got to be a better day…

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Hang Tag Idea for New Santas

Today, I am going to dress another Santa for my upcoming site. His features are embroidered, not painted. I am making slow, but steady progress and hope to launch the new site soon. I am in the process of designing a hang tag for the new Santas that will give each name, its meaning and origin. I’m not sure whether the tags will be card or cloth but I’m sort of leaning towards cloth (if the image transfers well) with a primitive look to match the dolls. I’d either sign the tags on the bottom above the web address or on the back. Below is an idea of where I’m heading with this…

Hang Tag Idea

Spotted Garden Slug

This is a spotted garden slug (Limax maximus). He was on our front step last night when we returned from our walk. He was only about three inches long, the average length being about four inches - and we’ve seen them longer than that. See the slug’s elaborate mating ritual here.

Spotted Garden Slug

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Black Tupelo Trees

We have a few beautiful native Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) trees in the backyard. They have smooth, glossy leaves and produce dark purplish fruit or drupes that are an important food source for wildlife. Their blossoms are the source for Tupelo Honey – and now that I’ve said that, the Van Morrison song keeps cycling through my mind…

Black Tupelo Leaves with Immature Fruit

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


While cleaning my studio (ewwww!) yesterday, I found a photograph of an angel I had made several years ago as a gift. Her wings are crazy quilted – I am always drawn to dolls that incorporate crazy-quilting. Her wig is made from flax. She is based on another pattern in the Better Homes and Gardens book of COUNTRY DOLLS. I recommend that book for its many full-sized patterns and easy-to-follow instructions.


Monday, August 08, 2005


Here's a little doll I started last year and, in the interest of finishing up UFOs, just got done making her a mohair wig over the weekend. Her name is Gemma. She is based upon Beverly River's pattern in the Better Homes and Gardens book of COUNTRY DOLLS. Her face and hands are lightly needle sculpted, painted, antiqued and varnished for an aged appearance. Her arms and legs are wired for flexibility. She is slightly weighted with plastic pellets and can be removed from her wooden-based stand to sit nicely. Her dress is detailed with a dropped waist, tucks at the hem, tiny buttons down the back and a nice little piece of white tatting I found for the collar. Underneath, she is wearing lace-trimmed pantaloons, white knit stockings and purchased "patent leather" shoes. I have included a close-up of her wig that is styled with a loose chignon in the back.


Close-up of Mohair Wig

Friday, August 05, 2005

Nature Journal: Changing Leaves

Just a few of the leaves of the Allegheny Serviceberry tree (see April 21, 2005 archives: Allegheny Serviceberry Tree) have already begun their transformation from green to red.

The summer is passing too quickly. At a local church cemetery, there is a headstone of a very young woman who died in the 1800s that reads, “She loved the summers here.” It makes me sad that she had so few summers to enjoy.

Nature Journal: Changing Leaves

Thursday, August 04, 2005


Here’s a sneak preview of my newest Shanty Clause, “Zale.” His name is Greek and means sea-strength. I guess that makes him a Sea Shanty Clause! He’s wearing a double breasted jacket made from an old piece of aqua upholstery fabric with a shell design. The jacket is trimmed with six vintage, mismatched mother-of-pearl buttons. The fabric’s fringe acts as a trim down the side of his jacket and I finished the hem edges by hand with a blanket stitch. His pants are made from an old seafoam green chenille bedspread. A shell and tassel trim his cap.


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Sweet Pepperbush Flowers

The flowers of this native plant (here is a drawing of the foliage from the June archives) have the most heavenly, intense fragrance. These are spread all over the property. One of the common names is “poor man’s soap.” DH says he remembers washing his hands with the flowers while camping when he was little.

Sweet Pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia) Flowers

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Beach Pea

The beach pea grows wild in the yard. Here, it is growing among a colony of bracken ferns. I am continually removing it from the foundation plants and transplanting it to more wild-looking spaces - and it seems to thrive wherever I put it.

Beach Pea

Monday, August 01, 2005


Here is a dragonfly that consented to pose for DH’s camera, yesterday afternoon. I just learned that these sweet creatures, besides being delicate and lovely to behold (okay, maybe not quite so close-up!), are also very beneficial in controlling the mosquito population.