Milestones, and the Dreaded Personal Pronouns

Milestones and the Dreaded Personal Pronouns

This blog post is going to be a lot about * me, and I.* (**dreaded personal pronouns)  I am not entirely comfortable with that, but it is a personal blog, after all. Plus, I have had some little victories lately and I want to celebrate them.

2016 single-2
this year’s syrup label

WordPress notified me the other day of my second blogging anniversary!   I began blogging in 2014 with the onset of maple sap season. It’s that time of year again and we have thus far gathered about 30 gallons of sap.  In 2014 we managed to make quite a bit of syrup. Not so much in 2015, and despite our best efforts we had some crystallization of the syrup after we decanted. We’re curious about what this year’s kooky weather patterns will do to us, but so far so good. The temperatures over the weekend were well above average, day and night. The week before that we were way below average and very snowy. Now we are settling into a more typical pattern for this time of year: above freezing during the day and below freezing at night. This is most conducive to sap flow.

I have worked these past two years to improve my photography and better understand my camera. When I look at my photo of sap from 2014,

Sap flowing from the maple tree into a collection bucket

and the one from this year,


I am encouraged. I have done a lot of reading and experimentation, taken some tutorials and a class, and think it has all helped.¬†¬† It‚Äôs far easier these days for me to get the shot I want. I still have to take a lot of exposures, and there are still times when I goof and forget stuff, but I‚Äôve graduated to full manual mode and the histogram is my friend. When I forget to properly set my ISO and white balance, I can usually ‚Äúfix it in post‚ÄĚ which is Adobe Lightroom.

Last year one of my ‚Äúpromises‚ÄĚ was that I would knit a sweater. I did not get to that sweater in 2015. This was mostly due to needing to complete a huge cable knit throw that I started way back in 2013.

huge throw

I often struggle with following through on personal projects so it was kind of thrilling to be able to finally give the throw to my mom as a gift.


The sweater is proving to be a challenge, but I’m enjoying learning how to shape a garment while knitting in the round. Again, I had to do a lot of research to familiarize myself with various terms and techniques, but it’s going OK. It’s got a head-hole and armholes and they are in more or less the right spots, so I’m pleased.20160124_195911_resized




Another milestone: I was recently very honored and excited to be contacted by the Granville Garden Club about some photos I took for my post Day of the Daffodil. They asked permission to use some of them on their web page and very kindly offered to link to my blog. P&P has gotten several referrals from their site, which is great because gardeners are generally really nice folks.

previously unpublished photo of dog and daffodils <3
previously unpublished photo of dog and daffodils ‚̧


Finally, here are a few photos from a class I took during which we hiked in local parks and just shot pictures of whatever.

walking at sunset
sunset at Lobdell Reserve
the Japanese Garden at Dawes Arboretum
the Japanese Garden at Dawes Arboretum
grasses backlit at Dawes Arboretum
grasses backlit at Dawes Arboretum

Stopping to Smell the Dandelions

A couple of weeks ago I had some time on my hands when I got home from work so I decided to grab my camera and photograph my favorite tree. This tree, which grows in a neighbor’s field, is a dogwood that stands by itself in the center of a gentle slope. It has been there for years, since before I lived here. The farmer who used to pasture his cows there left it for some reason. It’s small so I doubt it provides much shade. I think he just liked it. Those cows are gone, but the tree remains.   It happened to be in full bloom on this day so I wanted to get my photo before the blossoms disappeared.  Dandelions-4Photography makes one aware of how quickly things transform. A garden is never the same from one day to the next, nor a flowering tree. Light changes by the moment. You become very mindful of the passage of time.  Dandelions

On the way down to the field, our little blind cat tagged along. She’s very old, but has a great appetite and likes the stimulation of a walk in the grass. For her safety, we don’t leave her unsupervised outdoors, but like a kitten with her mom-cat she will follow closely at our heels. She tires easily so we make frequent stops. I use that time to snap some photos from her cat’s eye point of view, among the dandelion fuzz.Dandelions-3

Funny, how some people try to eradicate the dandelion. Fortunes are made waging war against these edible plants. People dump all kinds of chemicals on their lawns and kill them with fire. Neighbors feud over them, one claiming the other’s seeds have drifted and fouled their pristine landscaping. I find it all ridiculous considering how pretty and useful dandelions can be, and how they obviously are not going anywhere. Whatever, Suburbia.Dandelions-6

Five Things to Start Collecting Now

You like¬†to browse the tables at country auctions, to wander through antique malls and to peruse eBay listings. ¬†You’re thinking of jumping into the world of collecting but don’t know where to begin. ¬†Once, I was like you. ¬†Now my husband will gladly tell you I no longer face that dilemma. ¬†Truth is, collecting doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive or consume your life. ¬†If you have three of anything, it’s a collection. ¬†I’m not talking Chippendale chairs¬†or Faberge eggs¬†either. ¬†It could be seashells, or vintage postcards. ¬†The important thing is that it’s something you love. ¬†These suggestions were inspired by a recent¬†trip to the Rural Society Antique Show and Sale at Warwick Farm.

  1. Ephemera.  This is just another word for old paper things like photos, postcards, magazine ads, posters, etc.
    Ephemera--an old fashion plate.
    Ephemera–an old fashion plate.

    Items like this are usually affordable¬†and easy to bring home, frame, and incorporate into your decor. ¬†Look for subjects that interest you. ¬†Perhaps¬†you’re all about¬†fashion, food, travel or old tractors. ¬†It’s all out there for you to find, and much of it is in excellent condition.

  2.  Vintage Textiles.   These also tend to be inexpensive and include such things as flour and feed sacks, old tablecloths, quilts and afghans.
    Vintage feedsack pillows.
    Vintage feedsack pillows.

    Of course, some quilts and samplers can be quite pricey depending on age and condition but it is still possible to find a good bargain if you keep a watchful eye out.  Also look for ways to repurpose your finds, like these clever feed-sack pillows.

  3. Old cast iron cookware. ¬†If you’ve priced the new stuff lately, you will appreciate what a good deal you can get at an auction or antique shop.
    Old cast iron cookware.
    Old cast iron cookware.

    With patience and some elbow grease,¬†you can clean a pot and re-season it and it’s just as good as new, possibly for pennies on the dollar. ¬† ¬†There are a lot of resources on the internet for learning how to recondition old cast iron and care for it.¬† My husband and I have¬†actually found some pretty amazing stuff¬†over the years. ¬†Avoid pieces that are severely rusted or deeply pitted.

  4. Vintage Flatware and Serving Pieces.¬†This is becoming a trend. ¬†I’m seeing lots¬†of it¬†used by food stylists in their photo shoots and I’m charmed.
    Vintage flatware.
    Vintage flatware.

    Old plates and glassware are good choices for collectors too. ¬†It’s really a matter of maintenance. ¬†If you want shelf pieces for display the field is wide open. ¬†If you want to use your finds, look for things that will stand up to repeated washing and drying and the usual wear and tear. ¬†Keep in mind that silver and silver plate need polishing and should not be put in the dishwasher. ¬†This could be¬†the reason so much of it shows up at sales and goes for a song. ¬†People just aren’t that into polishing silver these days. ¬†My mom actually discovered that the very best way to keep the shine on her silver was to use it every day and wash it immediately after use in hot soapy water.

  5. Yard and Garden Items.  Admit it.  You need topiary trees, chalk-ware guard dogs and a wing chair upholstered in moss.
    Creative yard and garden items.
    Creative yard and garden items.

    Other less quirky choices are flower pots and salvaged architectural pieces. ¬†At the sale, I found a great old McCoy Pottery strawberry pot. ¬†Almost anything can become a trellis or a plant container. ¬†Don’t be afraid to think outside the box with this one.

Every Day, Twice A Day…

The blue hour is my favorite time of day. Most of what little I know about why the blue hour is blue, I learned from Wikipedia. It has to do with the angle of the sun relative¬†to the earth and what it does to the light visible to the human eye during that time. There are actually two blue hours each day‚ÄĒone just around dawn and one just around sunset. The times vary depending on the season and where you are on the globe.

Another Internet resource devoted to the blue hour and blue hour photography is The Blue Hour Site, and it will tell you the exact times of the blue hours where you are. If you pay attention during those windows you will see everything go kind of indigo. Some atmospheric conditions can even make it pinkish violet, especially in the morning. The sky is light but the earth is dark. If it is clear, moon and stars may be visible. I‚Äôve heard sailors used to be fond of the blue hour because they could navigate by the stars and still see the horizon. It‚Äės like A Midsummer Night‚Äôs Dream, in which ‚Äúrude mechanicals‚ÄĚ such as myself might meet supernatural beings.

When I was a kid I became very cognizant of the evening blue hour because that was when I was expected to head inside for dinner and bedtime. I would try to time it so that I got home just as the last bit of light was draining from the sky. Sometimes I incurred the wrath of my worried parents because they lived on a heavily wooded property and it would darken sooner than the cul-de-sac where I played. I like to try to capture bits of the twilight with my camera once in a while. I love how incandescent lights play off the blue.  It’s beautiful when people begin to turn on their porch and interior lights. These days, I get to see the AM blue hour more than I sometimes want to, because the cats are hungry and I must get ready for work.   It’s reassuring to see that shift in the light though, especially as it’s coming earlier and earlier this time of year.

the jar of stars|projects&promises
the sledding party

Saturday at the Antique and Garden Show

This weekend my husband, my mother and I drove 40 minutes north to Mount Vernon Ohio to visit Warwick Farm for the Rural Society¬†Fall Antique Sale. ¬†It was Mom’s and my second time at the farm. ¬†We attended the sale in Spring of 2013 and had such a great time we returned with my husband in tow. ¬†He was very interested not only in¬†the sale but in the opportunity to walk among the farm’s outbuildings.

projects&promises|Rural Society Fall Show and Sale
the barn at Warwick Farm
The Farm

Warwick Farm is an actual working farm. ¬†Operations are interrupted for a few days, I’m sure, so that all the vendors can set up, but it’s still possible to see sheep in a distant pasture and hear the honking of the resident geese. ¬†Good natured farm dogs wander the premises and greet visitors. ¬†The farm’s cats mostly steered clear of the activity but we did see a trio of little girls playing with one of them.

projects&promises|Warwick Farm garden
some of the gardens at Warwick Farm

We were able to stroll through the raised beds of a gorgeous herb garden and admire the large chicken coop. ¬†(Lately, I have chicken envy.) ¬† What I believe is¬†the original farmhouse sits just above the barnyard, and it’s lovely garden tumbles down to the driveway. ¬†It is a private residence, and was off-limits to guests at the sale, but I would have jumped at a chance¬†to see the inside.

projects&promises|the farmhouse at Warwick Farm
the farmhouse, a private residence

In addition to raising livestock and flowers, Warwick Farm is available as a wedding venue.  The property boasts a few nice options for the site of the ceremony and the reception, and some limited lodging as well.   There is also (field) parking for over 100 vehicles, which was managed very well on the day of our visit.  Follow The Rural Society on social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram)  to learn about their events and be inspired by their creativity.  Frequent posts to their Facebook page keep fans up to date about such things as the Antique Show and Sale.projects&promises|herb garden beds at Warwick Farm

The Sale

The Rural Society refers to the merchants who are invited to¬†Warwick Farm for the twice-yearly show and sale. ¬†They are a diverse group, but all have excellent quality goods and are adept at staging them in appealing vignettes. projects&promises|the Rural Society Fall Sale¬†The show was open to the public from 9 am until 5 pm, but I did learn of¬†some opportunities to buy early bird shopping passes. ¬†In the world of antiques shows it is indeed the early bird that gets the worm, so when my party arrived mid-day I’m pretty sure many treasures had already found new¬†homes. ¬†However, there was no shortage of good stuff still to be had. ¬†Among the things we spotted: ¬†salvaged architectural pieces, hardware, vintage lighting and fans, ceramics, metal signs, furniture, textiles and a variety of miscellaneous things repurposed and up-cycled into splashy statement pieces. ¬† projects&promises|the Rural Society Fall SaleThere were also edibles such as local honey and maple syrup, snacks from a number of food trucks and tempting sweets under glass cloches. ¬†A nice courtesy service offered by the management of the show was assistance with carting¬†larger purchases from the booths to a staging area where they could be more easily loaded into customer’s waiting vehicles. ¬†This was very sensible because the barnyard topography was not conducive to hand carrying chifforobes and the like to the parking field. projects&promises|the Rural Society Fall Sale¬†All in all, everything ran like a top and the booths hummed with happy activity. ¬†This part of the world has no shortage of antique and garden shows, but the Rural Society Sale has become a special favorite of mine.

Visit the Rural Society’s website:¬†

Visit the Rural Society’s Facebook Page

The Garden of Possibilities

The view at the head of the trail that winds through the Japanese Garden at The Dawes Arboretum in Newark, Ohio is a perfect metaphor for what my Mom and I learned on a guided tour there yesterday. What you might see on a single visit is enchanting but it only hints at the depth and breadth of the Aboretum’s mission and its present and future offerings.

Work in Progress

Many thanks are due to Luke Messinger, Executive Director, for inviting us to see the ongoing progress of the Japanese Garden Restoration, as well as many other projects that will greatly benefit guests of the Arboretum and the community at large. The Japanese garden was temporarily reopened this week after being ‚Äúclosed for renovation‚ÄĚ since late winter. The reopening was to honor several commitments made to engaged couples who couldn‚Äôt imagine being married anywhere but in that garden. It‚Äôs a spectacular and much beloved wedding venue. The reopening was also a great window of opportunity for Luke to show us what‚Äôs in the works.

photo of the meditation house in the Japanese Garden, Dawes Arboretum, Ohio
the new meditation house
photo of the joinery at the mediation house in the Japanes Garden, Dawes arboretum, Ohio
the joinery of the meditation house

A point of great pride is the newly rebuilt meditation house, created from the original plans. Its very precise joinery is in the traditional Japanese style. It will be getting a coat of light-colored stucco over the green board, and will stand out from its shady setting as the old one did.

photo of the Dawes Arboretum meditation house framed by a tree
a view to the meditation house
photo of the stepping stones in the Japenese Garden Pond, Dawes Arboretum, Ohio
the stepping stones

The giant stepping-stones across the pond have been leveled and reset. The end of the pond has been dredged of the sediment deposited over the years. The¬†area next to the pond, between it and the motor tour road is being prepared for what is sure to be wonderful addition. The plan is to plant a grove of Katsura trees that are native to Asia and have beautiful golden fall color. They will mix well with the nearby American hardwoods, and along with North American sedges at their feet will create an ‚ÄúAsian Themed Upland Woodland Garden‚ÄĚ. Something I was not aware of was the crucial part the Japanese garden pond plays in the management of rainwater throughout the Arboretum, and how all the excavation will vastly improve it and help with the collection of sediment that actually has great value and can be repurposed!

photo of the ponds, Japanese Garden, Dawes Arboretum
the pond

More wonderful things in store include the leveling, rerouting and resurfacing of paths to make the garden more accessible to guests with strollers, wheelchairs and walkers. Certain paths and roads will also be altered so they are more intuitive and guide users to emerging and expanding areas of the North Arboretum such as the Daweswood House, the History Center and the Zand Education Center…and beyond.

That Red Barn
the Red Barn Environmental Education Area, Dawes Arboretum
the Red Barn Environmental Education Area
photo of picnic tables in the the Red Barn Environmental Education Area
picnic tables in the Red Barn

If you are already a visitor to the Arboretums best-known collections, but have wondered about the barn that sits just to the North, and is visible from Route 13, it is the Red Barn Environmental Education Center. It was originally a sheep barn, but was acquired by the Arboretum along with surrounding lands. The entire area has very recently been equipped with a set of hands-on open air classrooms for visiting school groups.  It may also be used for events and nature walks by the public on weekends and during the summer months. The barn has numerous picnic tables, many  of which have a tops constructed of different woods harvested from trees at the Arboretum.

The Circle of Life
photo of tabletop plaque, the Red Barn Environmental Education Area
tabletop plaque “Red Oak”

It seems incongruous to harvest trees at an arboretum, but they do have life cycles, and eventually decline. At that point, they are felled or pruned before they become a hazard to guests or a threat to their immediate ecosystems. They are then put to the very best use that can be devised by the Arboretum staff. It might be furniture that will be enjoyed by future picnickers, or whimsical enhancements to the garden beds appreciated by the birds, squirrels and passers-by.

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What Comes Next
photo of the Japanese Garden, Dawes Arboretum, Ohio
the Japanese Garden

Ever ambitious and seeking to fulfill its mission, the Arboretum is also considering options for a new Visitor‚Äôs Center with a children‚Äôs outdoor adventure garden where kids can play and reconnect with nature. There are plans for a working farm that will highlight the best of sustainable agriculture. Later on this summer ¬†the Agricultural beds that formerly held the “Power Plants” ¬†will bloom with sunflowers. ¬†That will be lovely to see.¬† The possibilities are endless at this point, and as in the Japanese garden, the things that lie along the path to the future at¬†Dawes Arboretum are certain to¬†surprise and delight¬†visitors, their children and their children‚Äôs children.

photo of rhododendron blooms, Japanese Garden, Dawes Arboretum, Ohio
rhododendrons in bloom

Do you see her?

photo of hidden fawn
Do you see her?

How about now?

photo of hidden fawn
how about now?

How about now?

photo of a spotted fawn
our fawn

My husband stumbled upon this critter while he was clearing brush. ¬†Her mama must be off eating grass and leaves to make milk for her. ¬†She’s darling. ¬†We’ll say she’s a¬†she because most of the herd we see on our place are does (doe?). ¬†In a few short weeks¬†she’ll be frolicking around with her sisters, cousins and aunties, eating everything we try to plant in our yard. ¬†For now she’s just a little sweetie.

Grand Reopening

Please see the addendum to this post for the latest news about Wisp.  Sadly, the shop in Granville closed at the end of September, 2014.  

On the third of April 2014, Granville Ohio’s charming Wisp Shop reopened in a new location after a winter hiatus and I’m just over the moon about it.

photo of sign for Wisp Shop
Welcome back, Wisp Shop

Wisp Shop is a knitter’s paradise, and a not-yet-knitter’s (this girl, circa 2011) inspiration to become a knitter.

photo of colorful yarn display at Wisp Shop
Color inspiration

The new store, located between the Robbins Hunter Museum, the Granville public library and Alfie’s restaurant, features everything I loved about the old one; all the beautiful yarns, needles and buttons as well as books and patterns.

photo of knitting needle display at Wisp Shop
Needles of all sizes
photo of sock yarn display at Wisp Shop
luscious colored sock yarns
photo of knitted swatches at Wisp Shop
swatches of many of the yarns Wisp stocks are available to see and touch

There is a new selection of gifts and textiles for the home, and some apparel.  As ever, Wisp is a feast for the eyes.  Anne-Sara, the proprietor, has a gift for creating chic, tempting displays. She’s traded in her calculator and receipt pad for a gleaming new state of the art point of sale system, and she’s very excited. She’s also hoping to launch a website very soon.

photo of yarn and gift display at Wisp Shop
recycled knitwear bunnies
photo of gift items on display at Wisp Shop
Wisp wishes and cute sew in labels for your handmade gifts.
photo of imported scarves on display at Wisp Shop
scarves in scarlet and gray
photo of baby sweater and baby hats on display at Wisp Shop
darling infant hats and a sweater
photo of yarns and patterns on display at Wisp Shop
more yarns and patterns

Best of all, the knitting table, around which I met so many wonderful folks, still occupies a prominent place in the store.

photo of the knitting table/classroom space at Wisp Shop
the knitting table

More than all the gorgeous yarn, I value the community that this little store brought into being. Through this long, long winter, even while Wisp was closed, there was knitting and companionship with friends, many of whom first connected while spending time there. Wisp is so much more than just a place to buy supplies. I think it represents the very best of small business, and it reinforces my desire to ‚Äúshop small‚ÄĚ whenever I can.


photo of ribbon on display at Wisp Shop
with love

Pertinent Information:

Wisp Knitting and Crochet
221 East Broadway
Granville, Ohio  43023
Hours:  Thursday, Friday & Saturday  10am-5pm.

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