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

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

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


This past week has been so packed with good things...I've been too busy enjoying them to stop and write.
We took the grandmothers out for a late lunch to celebrate Mother's Day last Saturday, leaving us free on Sunday to drive up to Baltimore and meet our kids for a whopping breakfast at Golden West Cafe in Hampden. From there, we drove to Monkton to visit the Ladew Topiary Gardens. Love hanging out with these grown up children of mine.

It was hot and steamy but the tulips were gorgeous, and my girl and I had a great time with our cameras.
On Monday, I had the first riding lesson on my new horse. He is settling in nicely at Timber Grove Farm, and finally has a name...Bates. You Downton Abbey fans will get that.
The very best thing about last week? On Thursday, Mike, my MIL, and I went back up to Baltimore to hear our son defend his thesis at Johns Hopkins University. He now has a PhD in physical chemistry and is officially Dr. Cottingham. Hurray!! Such a proud and happy day!! After champagne and cake with his department, we were off to The Thai Restaurant for a celebratory lunch. Love that place!!
Our guy, loaded down with graduation swag.
Both kids were home for the weekend and we continued the celebration with family, on the Boardwalk in Ocean City and at EVO Public House in Salisbury.
The carousel at Trimper's on the boardwalk.
That was a lot of celebrating for one week, so although Sunday was our 35th wedding anniversary, we decided to postpone those festivities until next weekend when we can give the occasion the attention it deserves. We had a nice leisurely day with our girl, lunching at Stoked because it was Sunday, and they might think we'd died if we didn't show up, eating strawberry shortcake, and walking the dogs down to the river for a swim. Nigel and Scout are teaching Gus to swim. So far, he's just a wader, but he will be spending a week with us in June and I expect that will be enough time for him to learn.
It's super quiet here today. Even the dogs are exhausted. Weekends with our grand-dog, Gus, wear them out. This week, I plan to focus on Bates, trying to make the most of this month of training board, refreshing the blog, and getting back to my workroom. The folks at Outstanding Dreams Alpaca Farm have invited me to sell my photos and artwork at their Alpaca Festival in September. I want to see how much I can get done in the next few weeks...lots of almost finished projects laying around and new ideas banging around in my brain.
Wishing you a week stuffed with good things. XO

Thursday, May 7, 2015


An amazing thing has happened, blog friends. That dream I have had since I was two years old and toddling around with a plastic horse, falling on it and cutting my upper lip so badly I needed stitches. That thing. I have a horse of my own. Not my daughter's horse, not my friend's horse, my horse. I can scarcely believe it. I first looked at him a couple of weeks ago. The girls came home and rode him. They approved. I had him vetted on Monday. Dr. Callahan approved. I wrote a check, with a shaking hand. He is mine.
I have always loved horses and have been around them for most of the last twenty-five years. I was blessed with a horse-crazy daughter and fortunate enough to understand and indulge that passion. I took lessons along with my daughter. I've been a horse show mom, a barn mom,a therapeutic riding volunteer, and finally a barn owner. It was enough, and I was beginning to believe that it was all that would be...but I am married to a wonderful man, who, while not horse-crazy himself, gets it. If you're a regular reader, you know that Mike gave me a horse for Christmas, but fortunately, I took him on trial and in the end decided he was not the one.

This is the one.
They were calling him Charley, but there are a lot of Charley horses about, so I would like to think of something different. I am open to suggestion, but you should know that I generally name my animals after authors or literary characters.
I have not brought him home, opting instead to board him for a month at Timber Grove Farm, where they will whip us both into shape first.
With two horses, I'll need more of everything, so I picked up a big bag of carrots and found this...
Is it just me, or does this carrot look as if it desperately needs the ladies room?
Hope you are following your bliss, blog friends, wherever you are. XO.

Friday, May 1, 2015


Happy May Day! It's chilly and grey here, so I cheered myself up with these super simple May baskets. 
Rolled pages from an old poetry book into cones, punched a hole through opposite sides (reinforced the hole with a piece of tape), knotted a length of ribbon through the holes for hanging. Attached a bit of vintage bling, then stuffed each cone with a small plastic baggie and added the flowers.
Add a carrot, if you're making one for your pony.
Have a great weekend, blog friends. It's supposed to be 80 degrees here by Sunday. Time to break out the bikes, or kayaks, or both. XO!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Let's catch up. I bought a tree and started a new mixed-media piece to celebrate Earth Day. The weather was too dismal to plant the tree on Wednesday, but It is safely tucked in the ground now and our whole property is bursting with new growth. 
Japanese Maple.
Layered paint, paper, charcoal, and ink on canvas, then printed the piece on fabric and added more layers of fabric and stitching.
As we're just back from the East Coast Paddlesports Festival, I added a kayak and paddleboard. Don't laugh at my little stitchy stick figures.
The apple blossoms have peaked, but are still lovely.
"Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of color, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night." ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

All the wild things are stirring as well. On Sunday morning a fox chased Fitz through our woods and he shot straight up a loblolly pine to escape. Fortunately, Mike heard the commotion and chased the fox away. Abby is shedding like crazy and I am tossing all the hair from grooming out for the nesting birds.
The martin house is a beehive of activity. I'm thinking there may be no vacancies this year. The bluebird house is also occupied, though I'm not sure the occupants are bluebirds
Down by the river, the osprey are nesting.
It was good to be home on the weekend for a change and even better because our daughter was home as was her best friend, our almost daughter. Did a little pony shopping on Saturday afternoon with the girls. Took this guy for a test drive. Hmmm....
More on this next week. Hopefully. 
Stay positive, blog friends. XO.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


We were traveling again last weekend. Mike had some business in Charleston and I had never been, so I tagged along. It rained...cold and rainy when we arrived on Thursday, warm and rainy when we left. The weather didn't keep us from enjoying the sights though, and the food was amazing...fried green tomatoes, pimiento cheese, shrimp and grits. It is possible to have fried green tomatoes at every meal, and I did the first day, hoping that 20,000 steps on my Fitbit would keep them off my hips.
The business...East Coast Paddlesports Festival.
We did a lot of walking, some bike riding, and were graciously hauled around the city in a carriage by this handsome guy, oddly named, Facebook.
Facebook, the carriage horse.
We were fortunate to get a cottage at James Island County Park where the paddle festival was held. It's a short drive from the city and there's a shuttle if you don't care to drive. If you're going to Charleston in the springtime, book a room well in advance. We were told weekends from mid-April on are extremely busy.
Our cottage. No, we're not drinking Boone's Farm! That's wine we bought at Boone Hall Plantation.
My hair disturbed me. Twenty minutes outdoors in the mist and humidity, and it began to look like this...
Spanish moss.
My hair only looks like this at home when we're having a hurricane. Mike's hair was undisturbed. 
Wandered through the Unitarian churchyard with my camera. It was lovely, despite the drizzle, but wildly overgrown. The Unitarians need to pull some weeds.

I have window box envy.
I was sorry to learn that this creeping fig won't thrive in our area.
There were so many flowers in bloom. Our carriage driver said that there is a new bloom for every month of the year.
Left the city for a tour of Boone Hall Plantation.
Slave cabin. The bricks were made at Boone Hall.
The cotton gin awaits restoration.
On Saturday evening, we took advantage of a break in the rain and made the short drive to Folly Beach to dip our toes in the ocean. 
By Sunday, we were anxious to get home to our animals. We have an excellent house sitter, Rebecca Addy of Happily Home Services, but poor Nigel thinks we just bring this nice lady in occasionally for him to babysit. He takes his job seriously and follows her everywhere. Exhausting! He spent most of yesterday like this.
Next weekend, we are staying home and turning our attention to our own property...weeds to pull, fence rails to replace, grass to cut.
Don't forget tomorrow is Earth Day. You only get one Mother. Go here for more info.