Life, art, and nature on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Monday, November 16, 2015


Lately, I have been feeling scattered and disorganized, and now it seems the world at large has gone a bit wobbly too. Last week started with comedy...a tempest in a tea coffee cup...
And ended in tragedy...
If you've been lucky enough to go to Paris, you know that it is everything you dream it will be and more. I have only been once. I would go again in a heartbeat. 
That was Friday. On Saturday, we lost a dear friend to pancreatic cancer. He was a sweet, funny, gentle, talented man. Our hearts are broken for his loving family. RIP Tom Hopkins. You will be missed.

"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order." ~John Burroughs

A ride out through the marshes to the back of beyond with my camera, is always good for what ails me.
That, and some pup time. My Scoutie is becoming almost as enthusiastic about modeling as Nigel. For the first couple of years or so, she had no tolerance for head gear. I didn't try to force the issue, and patience has finally paid off. We watch a lot of old movies here...this look was inspired by Norma Shearer.
Stopped by my mother-in-law's last week, and she was about to throw out this sweet little pink number. It was her wedding hat, "something borrowed." 1952.

Nigel cries if he doesn't get to play, too.
Wishing you and indeed, the whole world, a more peaceful week.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015


I spent this morning gathering dried things from my gardens. I've been doing a lot of gathering in this month since my mother died. Gathering old photos and memories, gathering friends and family for the memorial service last week. 
I've always loved this gathering time of year, but it very nearly slipped away while I was busy with other things. Fortunately Mother Nature has been accommodating, and has given us some gorgeous warm weather to prolong the season. So while I am cutting dried stalks and flowers to bring inside for future decorating projects...
the bees are still buzzing around the last of the mums...
and the roses are enjoying a late bloom.
A soaking rain last week brought on the new grass Mike planted. That, combined with the relentless onion weed, makes the lawn sparkle in the mornings, in the heavy dew that is not quite frost.
All of my critters are fit and well. Abby is sporting quite a heavy winter coat already, Bates is parked with a western trainer for the moment. The cats are plumping up for winter.
Poor Nigel had to suffer some last minute Halloween costume changes. I had thought he might make a good Claude Rains from 1933's Invisible Man, but while the Nige happily indulges my costume whims most of the time, he draws the line at being wrapped in strips of fabric. I did just manage to get his head and neck messily wrapped...but we were both unhappy with the result.
We went with scarecrow instead, though he is way too handsome to look scary.
 I spent a little time playing with props for spooky Halloween shots.
I find old dolls almost as creepy as clowns.
I hope this finds you happy and well and I'd like to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone who expressed condolences on the loss of my mother. It is so good to be back.

Friday, October 9, 2015


After the Alpaca Festival, I had great plans for regular blogging and dog fostering and such. The dog fostering happened. The collie pup, Prince Charming was a delight. I loved having him here.
Hiking with Gus at Mt. Gretna.
Did a weekend road trip to PA to visit our daughter. Prince was a great little traveler.
Then this happened. My mother, who has battled various cancers for the past ten years, entered hospice. Life stopped while we supported Dad. We hugged, we told stories, we teased each other, we slept bolt upright in chairs,and yes, we laughed and cried, always with one ear listening for the last labored breath, which came at 4pm on Saturday. So grateful to Coastal Hospice at the Lake, for the kindness and care they showed to all of us. 
Rest in peace, Mina Gunter. October 29, 1933- October 3, 2015.
Love to all. XO.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


I am back with apologies for being so long away.  The winter was long and stressful, and I could feel my creative mojo winding down. Then spring came, and along with it my new horse, Bates. One month of training board turned into two, before I finally brought him home at the beginning of July. A lot of my time was spent, driving back and forth to Caroline county to work with him. I finally brought him home at the beginning of July. After two more months of work and worry with him, we finally accepted, that while he is a very nice horse, he is just not the horse for me. 
In art biz news, I am showing my work for the first time at the Alpaca Festival at Outstanding Dreams Farm. So while I was fretting about my new horse, I was working feverishly to get ready for this weekend. 
It was hot and muggy, with occasional gusts of wind that at one point lifted up my tent. Fortunately, my show savvy neighbor had extra stakes. We'll be a little better prepared today, and it is supposed to be a bit cooler. I sold a few pieces yesterday, but more importantly, got tons of great feedback, and was given some really good leads on galleries, and asked if I'd be interested in teaching a class. Fun stuff.
Another benefit of committing to this show, is that I finally got my mixed-media pieces properly framed. I also dug into my stash of small vintage frames, and had a good time finding photos to do them justice. 
All of this show prepping has left my house in a state I'm not particularly proud of. This is my dining room table this morning...don't judge.
Tomorrow is another day. I have all morning to unpack and put my house in order. In the afternoon I am going to Queenstown to pick up a foster puppy. I am not even kidding.
You know there will be tons of pics.
Anyway, it feels to great to be pack. Catch you later with more show news.

Saturday, July 4, 2015


Happy 4th of July! 
I had the idea that Nigel and Scout would look adorable in patriotic tank tops. I didn't factor in their lack of shoulders. There were lots of out-takes.
That's actually a yawn and not her Shark Week audition.
As the weather is very iffy, we decided to do a little road trip today. Drove over to Greenwood, Delaware for barbecued chicken at the fire house...truly some of the best on the shore. We were planning a trip to Chick's in Harrington to buy horsey things after, but had not reckoned they'd be closed for the 4th, so we wandered home through country roads. Stopped for fresh produce, browsed an antique mall, running into an old friend and neighbor and wandered home to play with the horses before the rain set in. Again.
Always been curious about this little no-name church.
This small windmill is on the way to Timber Grove Farm. I've wanted to stop and take a pic for weeks. The farmhouse burned down a few years ago, but it is still a working farm. The next time I see someone there, I will stop and ask if the windmill is for sale.
No words. Only the large print is visible from the road.
Guineas on a country road.
So tempted by this. It works!!
Glad that Mike is home from the father-son, road trip to LA. Our first born is happily moved into his LA apartment and anxious to start work at USC. Mike was away for eight nights, our longest separation in thirty-five years. Happy to spend this holiday weekend puttering with him. Tomorrow is our best chance for decent weather, so we plan to get the kayaks out.
In other news, now that Mike is home, I've brought my new horse, Bates home. I had planned to leave him at Timber Grove Farm for a month of training but that turned into two months and has eaten up an enormous amount of time. Abby has fallen instantly in love with him. It doesn't help that she is in season, and kicks and hollers when I take him out of the barn.

Ashley Hopkins of Timber Grove Farm, delivering our new guy home.

Now the task is to let him adjust to his new surroundings, and start riding him here at home. Without all the travel time to and from the other farm, life should get back to normal and I can get back on schedule with BarnBugStudio.
We are trying to decide whether to hop on our bikes and ride down to the river to watch the fireworks (it just stopped raining) or nestle in here at home. The thought of soggy ground and epic numbers of mosquitoes has us leaning toward the former.
Happy 4th of July, blog friends!! XO

Sunday, June 7, 2015


I feel a creative surge coming on, which is inconvenient, as I'm super busy just now. I wake in the night with ideas. Still have my handsome new man, Bates, at Timber Grove Farm for training. Visiting him takes a big chunk out of most days. I made the decision last week to give him a couple more weeks of training there. We are still figuring each other out, and last week's rain kept me from riding as much as I had planned. Also, in just two weeks, my guys are embarking on their father-son road trip to LA. I am calling it Mike and Patrick's Excellent Adventure. I am hoping to have Bates home and settled before they leave.
I took advantage of the wet days last week to fling some paint around and stitch. Painted a few background canvasses, and made a new version of one I've used before. This time, I printed it on flax linen, which gave it a lovely sepia tone and inspired my choice of additional fabrics.
Paint and collaged paper on art board.
Mixed-media art quilt with vintage fabric, hand and machine stitching, etc...

Yesterday, we mowed, and I spring cleaned the barn, then went to the farm and rode Bates. When I woke up this morning, I could hardly move, but two ibuprofen and a hot bath later, I was on my bike. We did thirteen miles around Cambridge, before ending up at Stoked, our Sunday place for lunch. I always pedal more cheerfully when there's a nice meal dangled in front of me. It was a glorious day to be outdoors on the Eastern Shore.

Wild roses on the roadside.
The fishing bridge.
Cambridge light house.
Oh dear.
Hope you had a wonderful weekend and got to spend some time outside. It was 79 degrees here...a day to be relished. Too soon, it will be stinkin' hot. XO.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


It was a relief to have a weekend with lovely weather and no big plans. Finally got around to some gardening. My big galvanized water trough had sprung a leak, and as I had already patched it a time or two, I decided to re-purpose it as a container garden. I don't really have the back for bending over and pulling weeds. Like most simple projects, it took on a life of its own. Mike decided we should add pavers underneath, and we would move the washtub from the shed and plant it, as well. We quickly realized that we needed more space and ordered three more tubs, found that cute blown glass solar light, added a hook for the hummingbird feeder and a hanging plant. Ordered another hook for symmetry's sake, and voila!!
I can see from this pic that fence painting needs to be the next chore.
The strawberry plants were given to me by a dear friend, and are already producing, though I'm afraid the birds have discovered them, and the trough has become a convenient fast food stop for the tenants in the martin house.

While I had my hands in the dirt, I did a few more potting chores. My flower beds are filled with perennials, so the few annuals that I plant are in containers. The perennials have expanded rapidly in the nine years we have lived here and choked out most of the weeds. It helps to have an at-home manure machine. That stuff is magic when composted with stall bedding.
Abby. Manure machine.
If you're planting a really large container such as a trough, you might want to add a false bottom to limit the amount of potting soil you'll need. In all the planters, we started with a layer of compost and added potting soil on top. It's working. These radish seeds sprouted in two days!!
Green pepper, mint, and rosemary.
Geraniums on the front steps.
When it is stinking hot and humid, and watering begins to seem like drudgery, I will think of friends on the west coast and remember to feel grateful for the privilege. For today, I am holding off, because it looks as though Mother Nature is going to take care of that chore herself.
Happy gardening, blog friends! XO