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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Garden Time

One of the things I looked forward to in this new house was the possibility of a garden. The majority of the yard is slated for a native/wildflower sort of scheme (though I'll have to make sure and avoid anything with feathery/stickery seeds. They felt up in Cyrus' fur like crazy). But I picked the least clayey (it's a real word), sunniest part of the yard for a veggie garden.

In preparation for starting work on this section, I've been doing what I always do before I start a new project...

Check out people's blogs. And put about 30 library books on hold. This made me realize how lucky I am, gardenwise. I know, I live in California where you're supposed to be able to stick a stick in the ground and it'll grow. I am not sure I'll be able to garden that well, but I'm referring more to seasons. Granted, the summer is pretty hard to growing things. But while most of the garden bloggers are bemoaning the inactivity of January, February and March, gazing at their brand new seed catalogs or new seed packets in impatience, I can start up with anything that says "Plant as soon as the ground can be worked" or "Sow 2-4 weeks before your estimated last frost date". (By the way, did any of this matter a month ago? No. Welcome to my hobby-gathering.)

So, I did receive some of my seeds a few weeks ago. But I've been waiting for a fence to protect the veggie patch from the furry tornado that is the dogs. Matt took care of that today (Yay, Babe!), but unfortunately that was after the following pictures were taken. I'll post that next time. But I can sow my peas (Sugar Sprint Snap Peas), the free carrots (Nantes, we'll have to see if they can take the clay), the Broccoli Raab, the Bok Choi (for Matt) and the radishes.

Hopefully I don't kill everything. I did already plant some sprouting garlic that volunteered in my pantry. It's doing well. The greens are about 8 inches tall after 3 or 4 weeks. The dogs knocked one over, so in the picture, they are protected by the lawn chair.

Anyway, here is what I'm working with, as of the end of January. This is a poorly stitched together "panorama" of the vegetable patch area. Notice that the dogs (Sasha) has pitched in by digging holes for some drought-garden-friendly buried watering jars. Good dog, Sasha.

Here are my foes. The round, scalloped-leafed weeds are commonly called mallows and aparently a sign that your garden has rich soil (I think that's what I read on the internet, anyway). The clover lookalike is actually goatshead/puncture vine. Evil. Mallows, who cares. Puncture vine must be eradicated. Have you seen Cyrus' feathering?

These, I'm not so sure about. I think the lighter ones those plants whose seedheads look like little swords (and little kids make scissors out of them) and the dried seeds have the little tails that wind around and around into a corkscrew by themselves. You can tell I know this one from childhood. Other adults I've asked don't even have a glimmer of recognition in their eyes when I mention this. Where did they grow up?

And the ultimate nemesis: the cutworm. They are everywhere in my yard. Every weed I pull up has some of these guys curled up around its roots.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

More Artwork and Updates

So I've been preparing for the ArtWalk show at the Modesto Library. Here are some prints I have in the works, in addition to the one I posted last time. They need some work, and the jellyfish probably won't be displayed with the others (I'm going for a tree theme if I can... of course, if I can't, then I'll throw in whatever's framed by then). The jellyfish linocut needs some clean-up to fix all those little black bits that printed and shouldn't have. Ditto the bird print. The last one was a drypoint attempt to see if I might can do intaglio on the press Matt built. Good news: it worked a little. Bad news: it didn't work very well. There could be a few reasons... the paper is sketchbook paper, not the $2-a-sheet etching paper I bought from Blick Art. Also, the lines might be too shallow to hold enough ink. Lastly... the press might not be able to handle intaglio. I'm hoping it's reasons 1 and/or 2.

Jellyfish - linocut with hand tools on newsprint

Bird pair - woodcut (pine) with dremel and hand tools on newsprint.

Tree/birds (can't see the birds, huh?) - plexiglass drypoint on sketch paper.

Updates: after reading up on Team Small Dog blog, Susan Garrett's blog, and Silvia Trkman's website, I've been shamed into taking up the clicker with my wild three again. So, Mya's working on her down and some directional commands to targets I point out to her. Sasha's doing remedial leash-prep - free heeling with me around the house. With his hurt knee, Matt can't walk a dog who pulls anymore, so I need to get at least one dog reliably heeling. I'm particularly proud of Cyrus. We've been working with shaping only, and he's got a pretty good Moonwalk going on. He can back across about half the room. We're working on more distance and a straighter path. I'll post some videos if I can get them.

Well, that's the zoo. Thanks for your visit.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Artwork

Ok, so I hear that I can start putting artwork up at the Modesto Library in a couple of weeks for the Art Walk. Very cool. Only, it means I have to have artwork ready for display in a couple of weeks. So I've been a little obsessed with getting art made rather than documenting the process on my blog. As an apology, I present a new linocut I'm working on, based on a couple of pictures I took while in Chile with my mom at the International Convention of Jehovah's Witnesses.

For this image, I transferred the original sketch onto the linoleum block and then inked it with a Sharpie to see if I like the layout. I've started carving already, which is why some of the lines on the scan look a little funky. Also, I didn't place it squarely on the scanner bed, so it's not really as crooked as it looks here...

Now you have to tell me, what do you think?