I have been waiting to build my pond for almost 4 years now.  I've been patient.  There were the allergies to deal with-kind of put a damper on things-the messed up neck and shoulder were a sure style cramper...last year I was all set, then the drought hit. What we did in the garden was water things...all the time...that's really all we did. Didn't have to weed much, because the weeds didn't grow.  It was that dry.

So I'm all set this year to put my pond it.  Right underneath the big new windows in the living room. I want to be able to sit in my chair and hear the running water and see my koi fish swimming.....

My husband has told me for quite a while now that he Knows A Guy who will come and dig the hole-easy peasy and it's done.  He keeps forgetting to talk to said guy. He is Very Busy, yes, but I am tired of waiting for my pond.  I have decided to dig it myself. There is a strategy.....a method to my madness.  Dig a pond? Are you nuts?  Do you mean by hand?  Yes.  First of all, I enjoy dirty manual labor from time to time. It's good for the soul.  I like playing in the dirt, digging in the dirt and when you add water to it, well, the pleasure is greatly magnified..

So I have begun.  The deal was that I would fill up the wheel barrows, and Scott would dump them when he came home after work.  OK arrangement, except that it will take forever.  I have taken to filling the wheelbarrow half full and dumping it myself.....needless to say, my hole is growing slowly. My body is a bit on the sore side too.  Here's where the strategy comes in. My husband likes to jump in when he sees that I'm not doing something just right (which means the way he would do it), or that I might need help.  I am waiting for him to say, "here let me dig"..this has not happened yet.  He did mention that digging hole like this was really hard work-then he made a bit of a funny face.  Hmmm.  Will he cave or not?  Or better yet, will he remember to call the guy he knows with the backhoe?  I think the backhoe would be the thing.

We have had So Much Rain lately-my hole is already full of water.  Gives the ol' body time to recover from the digging....I've got some process photographs to share though...

Finally, this pond is being built on a budget.  All materials except the pump we either had or scavenged.  Part of the fun.  I'll be posting about the engineering side of things (Scott's thing-I do making it look nice).  Particularly our home made filter system.
My assistant Faithie-we built the planter on the left last Friday afternoon. She is one hard working kid. Faith is standing in what will be the main part of the pond.
Monday.  This is where I was before the rain stopped me. 
We've dumped two of these-full of rain- since Monday nite.
The corner where the stone and siding meet is where a short "waterfall" is going to go.  I have been informed that no rocks or dirt may rest against the new siding....OK.  The engineer has a plan to pump the water up to, into and out the rocks, without doing damage to the house.
 
 
Here are the final batch of images from our Father's Day adventure to Lake Michigan.  We LOVE watching the sailboats, and often sit right out on the boulders at the very end of the pier to watch them come and go into the harbor.  The only thing better would of course, to be on the water in one of the big beauties.....
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Yes, I know, another seagull photograph-couldn't resist!
 
 
I really love the images I'm sharing today...I pointed the camera directly into the sun and was so gratified to have captured the light on the water in the harbor.  The end to a nice, nice day.
 
 
Yesterday was Father's Day.  Scott and I packed a picnic and went to the big lake.  We planted ourselves in a shady spot on the shore, where we could watch the boats and the gulls...and Scott could take a long Father's Day nap.  I don't know if he slept much...there were ants and spiders...and to think I was worried about mosquitoes...those pesky horseflies were really pesky too.  What is is about exposed human flesh and bugs????

As you might imagine, the lakefront was full of people-lots of families grilling out and swimming. Boy, was it a hot day! We were content to sit in the shade, quite a bit north of all the beach - front craziness, and wait until the heat of the day waned to walk down to the big pier.  I think I may of mentioned it here before, but Scott and I did our courting in Milwaukee and spent hours walking on the beach and sitting out on the pier.  We still love it there.

I should know the name of the three masted ship in today's batch of photographs...I think it is the "Dennis Sullivan", but don't quote me...the ship looked so proud and regal out on the water..nautical elegance or some such thing.  I know it is a reproduction of an earlier ship that sailed the Great Lakes...that's about all I know.

I confess I have always loved seagulls.  Jonathan Livingston Seagull was my hero as a teenager...I love the watch them and of course, photograph them.  Scott thinks I am nuts, but since I have been shooting digital, I no longer get the snide comments about wasting perfectly good film on silly birds.....

Even though yesterday was a hot one, and the bugs were a pain, I still got some great shots of the boats, gulls shoreline and harbor. I'll be sharing some of them this week here on the ol' blog.  Hope you enjoy looking at them, as much as I did capturing what I saw with my camera!
 
 
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I have been painting up a storm-my back porch studio looks like a bomb dropped on it. There is Stuff everywhere....I am in the throws of really learning how to paint. Exciting.  The fulfillment of a dream I've had for years...paint and I have,  for many years, had a love/hate sort of relationship.  I just didn't know what to do with the colors-they seemed like such a beautiful distraction.  I could draw anything I wanted to, but adding in that elusive color really had me tied in some twisty, twisty knots. There are some very valid reasons for this-I will spare you-it's not really the subject of my post, and could be considered too much information..

My bottom line, heart of the matter problem?  I was trying to analyze color, rather than feel it.  I was trying to use logic rather than my intuition.  I am a deeply intuitive person, so why in the world shouldn't I be intuitive about color too?  Go figure.

Anyway, I love the season of art life that I'm in. I plow through all the Other Stuff I have to get done in a day, so I can go and paint-this is the sweetest of sweet gifts.  I stay up too late at night painting and I often forget what time it is, and do not hear the phone ring (who cares about the phone anyway).  Watercolor has been the great Knot Un-tyer.  I can make the transition from the pencil (b/w)  to the paint (color) so much easier with watercolor than I can with oil.  Watercolor is cheaper to work with too...something to consider especially when in the throes of learning something new.  When I was struggling with trying to work in oil, I used to paint the sky in a landscape and then cringe and realize I had probably just put down $3 worth of paint.....one of the many reasons watercolor works for me-cost effectiveness!

Working with the human face and form has always deeply and completely compelled me. Remember the old album covers, with the big faces of the artists on the front?  I started drawing from album covers when I was 14.  I still have John Denver's and Jim Croce's faces stashed away somewhere-did all four of the Beatles as well. In art school, the only thing I really enjoyed was figure drawing-I was good at it, in a way that really surprised me.  One of the only art school regrets I have (quit after a year) was that I could not continue to study figure drawing.  Other than that, art school was a bust....

So here I am, in my 50's, finally getting something I have long sought after figured out. I guess the time is just right....I have this thing inside me that says I can do this...I know I can, even if often times I don't know how I am going to get there.  It would be swell if I could work with someone who Really Knew What They Were Doing, when it comes to painting humans-the money faeries have to come for that to happen....Until then, I have just me. I am enough.  The capacity to be the painter I know I can be is inside me.  That's what I have to keep discovering-what's in me.  Good instruction is fabulous, but it can't take the place of believing what's inside you....wish I learned this lesson a long, long time ago!

The painting above is entitled "Momma and Cullen".  It's of two people who are utterly precious to me.  Suffice it to say, what I had envisioned the painting to look like, and how it came out are very different things.  In the late hours of the night, the painting was almost launched out into the wind several times. The painting gremlins were squacking..."who do you think you are?"  "You can't paint that, you don't know what you are doing.."  "You'll never figure that out-the colors look terrible".  "Why don't you just give up and go paint something easy, that you know how to do, FOOL!"  On and on. Decided not to listen.  Gremlins are those pesky little creeps that want to keep us from realizing our wonderful human potential.  Stomp on the little shits and put them in their place! 

I am glad I stuck with this painting. I learned so much in the process....painting correct skin tones and color harmonies is not easy, but as I kept at it, I learned where the colors needed to go, and what happened when this color was put next to that color.  The painting is by no means perfect, but I am proud of it, because I stuck with it, and will save it to remember what I learned and how good it felt to tell the gremlins to shove off.  After I recover, I'm going to give the subject matter another whirl, and see if I can get things to come out the way I want them to!

Not everyone is a painter-but we are all a Special Somebody, with beautiful gifts to give the world.  Don't let the gremlins have the last word. Be sticky!  Work through the roadblocks that get in the way of your passion, and you'll find your way to the other side of incredible possibility-it does not always have to feel good-the air in my studio has been known to be blue with profanity from time to time...the important thing is to keep going and see what can be learned-Very Satisfying!  A painter's life (or any one else) is a journey, not a guided tour. It does not have to be easy to be really, really good.

Be blessed today-the weather is glorious, and there is a fresh piece of watercolor paper with my name on it in my studio, and a little niece I have been wanting to paint for the longest time....

 
 
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Yesterday was a fine, fine day at our house....it was relaxing and loving and full of life's simplest and most satisfying pleasures.

We stayed home all day.  We had our breakfast together on the patio-the sun was shining, it was warm and oh so very nice....then we sat.  Just sat. Did nothing. Talked a little bit-not much.  Let the sun and the cool breeze and the sweet pleasure of No Where To Go Or Be, wash over us.  Something to be carefully savored....there's not a whole lot of no-place-to-go in the morning around here.

I worked on an old rocking chair I am fixing up....Scott fell asleep in the recliner for while-at 10:30 in the am. Unheard of.  Pleasurable sigh.....then he did those goofy Suduko puzzles he loves so much.

I did some laundry. I took my time, and then I hung it all on the clothesline to dry...all of it except the socks.  Very Tedious to dry them on the line.  Scott's undershorts were flapping in the breeze. I had asked him if he minded stiff shorts..."heavens no" he said. The possibility of saving $ on the electric bill is worth shorts that are a wee bit stiff...

For me, hanging my clothes on the line to dry is the ultimate of simple pleasures.  Yes, it's a little bit more work, but hey, I don't mind!  I am not certain just what it is that so compels me about line dried clothes - perhaps the clean, fresh smell....I had all our bedding on the line yesterday too - crawling into those clean, sun dried sheets last night seemed like a whole lot of sweet, simple bliss.  The attraction might have something to do with connecting with a time when life was simpler, but yes much harder. When drying your clothes outside was just what people did, even in the winter time - I wonder how freeze dried undershorts would be???  I am bad....My grandma dried her sheets on the line, and I do remember how much I loved diving into bed with those nice clean sheets.  She ironed hers....no way.  Gotta draw the line there. Grandma got up extra early in the summer to iron, before the day got too hot....yuck.  Clean, fresh and wrinkly are just fine with me.

Life is mostly complicated and endlessly complex these days....argh.  That's what simple pleasures are for.  Something sweet to be savored, and something good to ground us to the earth and to the beating of our own hearts.  To keep us from being caught completely in the fast paced tide of technology and the whirlwind pace of life.

What is your favorite simple pleasure?  Give yourself a lovely gift-take a few minutes and savor what's simple and you love best!

 
 
I was going to title today's  post, "Summer Blooms"....rather misleading,  don't you think?  How about "Damp Spring Trying to Become Summer Blooms"?  Seems more descriptive of the weather of late.   Gosh, last year we were all lamenting over the Terrible Drought. It was terrible.  The cool rainy weather we are having now is challenging, but the water is still welcome. Balance.

The present chilly dampness is gold if you are dividing and transplanting perennials.  We've been doing Lots of That at Briarhill this spring. I tend to wait until rain is imminent, then head out with my shovel and fork and go to town.  I dig, divide and re-plant, and then Mother Earth takes care of the watering.  The plants respond beautifully, they hardly miss a beat, and there is generally no visible evidence of stress - it makes my gardener job much, much easier.

Yesterday found me in the irises.  They need to be divided regularly, or these seem to dwindle.  Some were planted in an area that is now deeper in the shade-not a happy spot if you want your iris to bloom.  Scott finished tilling the giant garden for me, so divided plant material is being rowed out, to grow and thrive until I have a garden spot available, or decide to give them away to a good and loving home:)  I got everything dug and transplanted before that lovely soaking rain came...needless to say, I find myself a bit stiff this morning....

Here are some more snaps of the blooms that are beginning to come in...be blessed!
No, not a bloom. Loki-the Garden Cat.  He likes to prowl the gardens-the end of his tail can often be seen, swaying between the hostas....
 
 
This is why I live in Wisconsin...mornings like this one.  It's perfect.  Bluest of blue sky, clean cool breeze, lush-green gardens.  Birds singing their tiny hearts out-it always seems like such a joyful song to me. I did my morning walk through the gardens, wrapped up in my ratty pink bathrobe (that's my usual garden strolling attire), and with camera in hand.  The iris are spectacular right now, so I thought I'd share a few snaps....captured some other beautiful blooms too-I'll save those for tomorrow.

We've been working hard to bring the gardens back to their full shining glory.  I could not do much gardening for a couple years, and then last year's drought was a killer - literally. The gardens have suffered and have been in need of some deep healing. This is completely satisfying sort of work.  Digging, dividing, moving, transplanting and watering. Manure. Beauty.  It's art.  I was born to do this....it feels like me.

I'm working in my summer studio today (formally the back porch).  Art making and writing doesn't get much better. Windows and light abound.  The pond just outside the door is running-water is so soothing...peace.  Might just sit here all day and bask-probably not:)  I don't sit so well. Especially when I'm happy!

Be well blessed today!