Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Works in Progress

We have a couple of things going on over here that won't yield immediate satisfaction, but we're still having fun with them. Later on, hopefully, we'll be glad we invested in these projects!

I'm really not much of a gardener. Just too hard to have to wait for stuff to grow. And then there's all of that maintenance...yuck! But I sure do respect people who enjoy the hobby and are rewarded with beautiful flower beds and bountiful gardens. And every year in mid-October I particularly envy those who had the foresight to plan ahead so they travel no farther than their own backyards to pick handsome pumpkins for their Halloween porches! No laborious plowing through chest-high bins at the produce stand for those happy harvesters! The search for a perfectly symmetrical spotless beauty with an intact, graceful stem is drudgery reserved for non-planters like me. But not this year! Nope! This year we are growing pumpkins in grandma's backyard! And we are going to nurture them step by step until it's time for the grand kids to shop right here!

We won't even care if some of them look goofy and lopsided because they will be our pumpkins! Our babies! The ones we planted, watered, watched, named, and harvested in the same way that people who love to garden do!

Grandma's instructions: plant 2 seeds in each pot. Pretty sure some ended up with 10 seeds, (ahem! see above, right!) and others with none! Oh  well...we'll sort all that out later!

I have a few disadvantages here. Our lot is mostly shade. There is only a small area of sun in the back that edges the woods. Grandpa says pumpkins won't grow back there. he just being grumpy because I brought him home some wood sticks and a set of directions for a mini greenhouse that our pumpkins will need to get a good start in life? Or is he telling the truth? I am only sure of one thing. We WILL have pumpkins back there! The seed packet promises them! It says they will weigh 300 pounds! Wow! Really? So, I am planning on that....even if next fall I have to rent a semi truck and drive to the fruited plains of Illinois -which I hear is the pumpkin growing capital of the world - and haul home three of their Grand Champions. I will then attach them to our stems, artfully wrapping with green floral tape like Martha would, and then call the children over for a harvesting party! Yep! This year it's going to be different! We are going to harvest our own GIANT jack-o-lanterns no matter how much effort it takes!

My other problem is wildlife. Deer, mostly. I hear they eat pumpkins. But I am not going to make an issue out of that. We are all animal lovers here. The deer, raccoons, birds, and rabbits have to eat too. I will pursue some natural repellent, (red pepper?) and see what happens. We'll leave some extra 300 pounders behind for them though, after we've made off with the ones we like best! And if the wildlife outsmarts me? Well, then, "Plan "B" (the road trip to Illinois!) will be back on the table!

Our pumpkins currently live in this contraption known as a "Giant-Pumpkin-Grower".
When the interior is filled with foliage, the tent will be removed.

Here are a few related books you might enjoy. See if your library can get them for you.
Sharon Lovejoy is a grandmother and an accomplished gardener, specializing in teaching children how to grow things. She is the author of several books, two of them are favorites of mine - "Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars" and "Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots." They are gently and charmingly illustrated by the author with her own watercolor pictures. If you seek creative ideas for gardening and enjoying backyard nature with your children or grandchildren you will absolutely love these books!

I found the instructions for our "giant-pumpkin-grower" greenhouse in a delightful book by Tom Fox called "Snowball Launchers, Giant-Pumpkin Growers and Other Cool Contraptions." This book includes 20 projects with a "science fair" feeling that are perfect for making with an older grandchild. Just a few get pretty complicated, but most can be made with ordinary things everybody has at home. The book is illustrated with simple ink line drawings, yet I cannot wait to make the pet feeder, stethoscope, and more with my grandsons when they get older because easy-to-follow instructions for these timeless and unique projects are all there.....See if your library can get you this one, too!

We are beginning to stock inventory for a Clothesline Fine Art Show and Sale - a classy one! Not a "chips 'n beer" type of affair. No way! We will be serving fake champagne in flutes and offering a fetching array of gourmet hors devours. The customers - no wait! let's call them what they really are, "art patrons" will be handed flyers - err, make that "catalogues" when they arrive to strains of a Mozart sonata. These upscale features will create ambiance for the purpose of opening wallets as wide as possible! Catalogues will include photographs of the artists, their credentials, and dates of birth, plus other interesting facts which I have not thought of yet! Since this is all I know so far, this is all I can say. But we are working on it! And when show time (oops! mean "gala opening premiere!") arrives, you will be able to read about it here!

Here's Nick, showing his very artsy paper chain decoration. This signed piece will be for sale at the show, probably in the $25 range!

Nick and Sae work diligently at creating inventory for the Clothesline Fine Art Show and Sale.

The show will be an eclectic, multi-media one. Crayon illustrations, stamped art, and watercolors will certainly be represented, but so will original salt dough creations. Look in the sculptural gallery for those! We will staff a gift shop too. That's where hand print bookmarks and notepads will be available. And who knows what else we will come up with by the time our e-vitations go out? The important thing is to just keep drawing, painting, sculpting and ink-printing cute little hands and feet on anything that can be marked up 200% and resold to an anxious clientele! Anxious? Why would they be anxious, you ask? Well, our gallery has a policy that will be boldly posted at the entrance. "Sales staff is armed with squirt guns. Anyone who does not make a purchase will  be shot." There! That should take care of our "anxiety" over a complete sell-out of inventory! ....he he he! just kidding about the squirt guns! (well...maybe!)

The boys are stamping out designs with basic shapes. When these pieces appear in the gallery, they will have names like "Geometric Collision: Purple." You know, to make them sound expensive!

Brielle is custom-making an abstract illustration to sell to her Nana. She wasn't too happy just being a "customer" at the boys' puppet show. Bree has her own little pink kitty wallet now and wants to fill it with money too! This is why having her own paternal side of the family to invite to this event should pay off handsomely for her, especially with attentive, indulgent, and gainfully employed Nana at the top of her guest list!

She also wants you to know that the title of this piece will not be "Green Crayon Scribbles by Bree." How does "Reflections on a Forest Horizon" sound instead? Sometimes it's just more "marketing" than talent that moves inventory, although here we obviously have both!

Here's Sae, proudly displaying a handsome original tempera abstract. I think this one will be framed with patterned scrapbook paper. Once complete, it should really knock your eyes out, so we will name it "Primary Knock Out Punch." Titles like this will appeal to the guys who otherwise might think the entire event is far too "girly" for their taste!

Okay! Gotta go! Have to check the pumpkin patch for signs of germination. Its been at least 20 minutes since I was out there last! Our contributing artists are busy too....all 4 of them!



  1. Well how nice of you to mention Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars and Roots Shoots Buckets & Boots. Lovely. I love children and love working with them so the books were a joy. Lucky me, besides my illustrations there are the wonderful keepsake photos of my grands.

    Sending thanks and warm wishes,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  2. A suggestion for the deer -- I have been told that if you plant nasturtiums around the edge of the garden that the deer will be so happy eating the little "nastie" leaves that they got full before they bother with the good stuff -- like pumpkins!

    Being new to your blog I have to ask -- what do the children do with the earnings from things like the upcoming Art Gala? You sure are an amazing Grandma!

  3. Hi Kc! Thank you for the appreciated comment and suggestion. I am going to buy a flat of nasturtiums this weekend per your advice. I will let you know if it works for us!

    The family events we do - one puppet show so far - where the kids earn money are really just for fun. The boys are a little too young to comprehend value, although I did buy them cute wallets for their profits. So far, their cash is just sitting there, waiting until they get old enough to understand that it should be divided between charity, savings, and spending. They will use those funds when they say they really, really, REALLY want a toy and mommy says she'll pay only half. Then we'll see if they decide to spend their own funds!

    Thanks again and best wishes!