Monday, August 31, 2009

Off to work I go..

After many, many great big cups of coffee in the morning, I open this door from my kitchen and step into my workshop. I built these 3 panels to replace the regular glass that was in the door--a few too many drinks one night and I put my hand through one of the panes. I gave up drinking--it never agreed with me anyway. But, its great to have the kitchen right close by--coffee and snacks all day long.

This was a carport when we bought this house a few years ago, actually more like a garage that never had a door. My husband and I went window shopping and began enclosing the front. We found these two large windows from a local window business for a pretty fair price--the owner ordered the wrong color (they were supposed to be tinted) for a bank job. But, man--they were really heavy. We had a local boxer who was working nearby come and help set them in place. The windows are great, they let in so much light and I can always look out to see if anything interesting is going on out there--things like butterflies and birds...

Here's how things look on any given day. I thought I would clean things up before I took pictures, but then I would be lost. I figure January will be a good time to clean up. There's some glass stored against the wall, some tools and my glass grinder.

This used to be our dining table--haha! Its just too big to be inside the house, so I got it as a work table. I used to feel bad everytime I'd build a box and scratch up the surface with a razor knife--not anymore. There's some more glass stored under the table along with different size shipping boxes.

This side door doesn't open anymore, we sealed it shut--but its still nice to have more light come inside. I'm sharing this area over here with hubby and some of his stuff.

I had a call from a local business last week to come pick up some goodies. I'm lucky that they save their packaging materials for me--its like a goldmine, really and saves on the environment, also.
The kitties aren't allowed out here--its much too dangerous for them with bits of glass all around and nasty chemicals and such. But, when I feel the need I can sneak back inside and give them all kisses.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Day of the Dragonfly and other curiosities

Thursday afternoon, I decided to get out of the house for a few and take a short ride down to the Tennessee River to see if there was anything interesting going on. After about 2 o'clock in the afternoon, my workshop just gets a bit too warm and uncomfortable to work in. The first stop was a local boat launch area with lots of native vegetation. This big beautiful dragonfly caught my eye and I headed on over to see if I couldn't get a shot of it.

This dragonfly turned out to be the most cooperative dragonfly I've ever come across. It must have been in need of a rest since it let me photograph it from all angles while fumbling with the settings on my camera. I'm not sure what kind it is~my field guide lists a few that are similar to this one but the descriptions don't match 100%.

The closeup of the wings shows a little bit of wear and tear around the edges.

I like this shot from the back end~it reminds me of an airplane ready to take off into the wild blue yonder.

After about 5 minutes it was tired of me bothering it and it took off to find some peace and quiet.

The second stop along the Tennessee River was a local county park. This passionflower and many more like it was found in an area allowed to grow wild~my favorite kind of place to explore because you never know what kind of interesting flora or fauna will be found. According to the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers, "The name relates to the resemblance of the floral parts to aspects of the crucifixion story. The 10 petal-like parts represent the disciples, excluding Peter and Judas, the 5 stamens the wounds Jesus received, the knob-like stigmas the nails, the fringe the crown of thorns." A very interesting bloom, indeed. Another interesting fact about this vine is that its a host plant for fritillary butterfly caterpillars.

This is the fruit of the passionflower, a passion fruit. Its an edible fruit, this one needs to ripen a bit more. I can't recall if I've ever tried one--there were plenty of these fruits hanging around, hopefully this year I'll get my hands on one and give it a try.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My love melons~~the unplanned fruit

This year, we were not going to have a garden. The 'dirt' in the best place for a garden in my tiny yard was so poor that it really needed some help before a garden would be possible. Our neighbor gave us a few loads of nice looking topsoil and my husband and I thought that we would spend some time amending the soil this year and we would be ready next spring. We started saving all of our kitchen scraps to mix into the soil for the summer and fall and we'd let it overwinter for next spring. Included in one of the buckets of kitchen scraps were a bunch of seeds from a melon we had bought. I never thought the seeds would germinate-hoping maybe the birds would find them and eat them up.

After a week or two a bunch of little plants started popping up--I recognized what they were--little melon sprouts. I didn't have the heart to pull them up-let them live! I did thin them out a little bit~by the looks of things now I should have thinned them out a little bit more. The melon in the first image I knew about, I've been taking pictures of it as its been developing. Its the melon in the second image that was well hidden beneath the leaves the I just discovered today.

Here's a little bee doing its job. They have been quite faithful to all the blooms and I've got lots of little melons everywhere.

With any luck, fall will be warm and these melons can keep on growing. I can't wait to be able to sample one of these~I just haven't got a clue on when I need to pull them off the vine! Talk about a bumbling farmer.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Let the wild places be wild

There's a little side road not far from my house that I've been meaning to check out for the longest time. When I travel the highway and look over at this spot, there's a riot of yellow, so I knew that there must be some good stuff down this way. Wow, I was not disappointed. There's a small stream that flows threw this area and the native vegetation was in full bloom. There were lots of butterflies and dragonflies in the area, along with a couple of hummingbirds and other songbirds calling from the trees along the stream bank.

The riot of yellow was actually all these small sunflowers. What a great food source right now for the butterflies and bees. Later, when these dry they will be a valuable winter food source for the native songbirds that call this area home along with our visiting winter migrants.

These ripening elderberries with help nourish our native songbirds and will provide fuel for those that migrate South for the winter.

Found along the banks of the small stream was large patches of Jewelweed, or Spotted Touch-Me-Not. There was a hummingbird feeding on one of these blooms, but I wasn't quick enough to capture it.

Really an interesting plant, I love the orange yellow color of these flowers.

There were also a dozen or so Bull Thistles in bloom. The flowers look quite puffy and soft, but the stems and leaves are quite thorny. I don't what the 'value' of these are, but I'm sure that the seeds are consumed by songbirds in the winter months.

This is definately an area that I'm going to have to come back to very soon.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Its been a wonderful week indeed

I was the lucky winner in Celticcatphotos' recent blog giveaway. It was an extra special giveaway, really, since there were two prizes. First, she was kind enough to feature me on her blog. Second, I could choose one of the photo note cards from her Etsy shop. I chose her Birthday Cat card. I've always adored this photo~its the one that's in her avatar. Its her kitty Hamlet on his first birthday. So sweet. Check out her lovely photography which includes a wide range of subjects from kitty cats to lighthouses and classic cars.

I'm not a person that can stay still for very long and I really want to enjoy this cute photo often~so, I've decided to post it on one of the walls in my workshop. This is a place that I spend a good deal of my time and I've already hung up a few of my favorite kitty cats here. Here's Hamlet in a special spot between Puffy the message therapist and my name in the form of a black cat.

Today, I found out that my rainbow peace sign was was featured on another blog. ARTISANNE posted a some lovely works inspired by Woodstock's 40th anniversary. She makes awesome sea glass jewelry from glass she collects on the beaches near her home in Scotland.

The heat has still not let up in Tennessee--the dog days are here, for sure. I wanted to start work on a frog/lily pad/dragonfly suncatcher, but I'm still working on the pattern~its the frog's feet that slowed me down. As soon as I get them figured out I'll get started. In the meantime, I've been working on a couple of smaller hanging panels. Both are the same pattern~three red cherries with two leaves and a small section of branch. Once completed they will measure a little over 8" square, 20.5cm--a nice size for a kitchen window.

For this piece I've used more dense glass. The background is an ivory white~reminds me of a country kitchen look.

In this panel I've used more translucent stained glass with glass bevels in the corners. Hopefully, I'll get these done in the next few days. I really shouldn't work on fruity things~I've been craving cherry pie ever since I started working these.

Have a wonderful day wherever you are and I hope you have had a wonderful week, too.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Come meet the family! The furry ones anyway.

I love my babies, all 8 of them. Here's most of them all together having a special treat. Honestly, I never though I would be the momma to so many critters, but we have plenty of room in our home for all of them and most importantly lots more room in our hearts. Here's a little peek at all of them.

Granma, a/k/a Granny, formerly known as Baby. Age: 19. Hometown: Port Charlotte, FL. Granma's the only furbaby that's not really a rescue. We got Granma from a little girl whose kitty cat had kittens. Granma's travelled with us when we moved from Florida to Colorado then to Michagan and finally Tennessee. Granny says that she's glad our travelling days are done. She's still going strong but getting a little strange in her behavior. I guess I would be too if I were her age.

The King, formerly known as Boy. Age: 11. Hometown: Ann Arbor, MI. Hubby brought home this stinky little kitten from an apartment complex that he used to work at. He'd been trying to capture this kitty for some time, without much luck. He'd see the kitty hanging around under a dumpster and finally cornered him one day at the bottom of a stairwall much against the kitty's will. This kitty was a total surprise. I came home one day and there he was, still in the cage with hubby's warning that he was wild. I gladly reached my hand in the cage, brought him out, cuddled him up and we've been best pals ever since. He's earned the name 'The King' since he rules all the other cats and will break up fights between them. Terrified of people, he'll hide in the basement until company leaves.

Bubba, formerly known as Hobbs, since he hobbles. Age: 9. Hometown: Summertown, TN. Bubba is my special rescue kitty. I found him on the side of a highway when he was about 6 weeks of age with a broken leg. The vet tried to save the leg, it didn't work. Bubba's back leg was removed at the hip. No problem for Bubba. He's very energetic when he's not napping and will get on anything and everything.

Biggum, formerly known as Mister. Age: unknown-adult rescue. Hometown: Columbia, TN. Biggum was hanging around across the street from the warehouse I used to work at, trying to get the attention of the workers out there on break. No one wanted anything to do with him. I called him over to my building. He was the friendliest cat ever. He hung around all day, I fed him since I kept cat food at work in case a stray would happen to come along and he even took a nap in the flower beds out front. Later in the afternoon, he went hunting in the field and brought back a mouse and ate it in front of me. That's it, I decided right then and there that he was coming home with me. At the end of the day I packed him up in a cardboard box, taped it up and brought him home. He's a real people lover and just adores it when we have company.

Angel~la, formerly known as Angel Face. Age: unknown-adult rescue. Hometown: Perry County, TN. Angel~la was found hanging around a bunch of logging trucks parked alongside the highway. I saw her, stopped to visit her and gave her something to eat. Since we already had 4 kitties the thought never crossed my mind to bring her home. Told hubby about her and the next day he went out to the spot, found her and brought her home. She's an excellent traveller. I used to bring her to work with me and she'd sleep on the front seat for the 45 minute trip one way. She loves the boy kitties and will snuggle with Bubba and Biggum. The King wants nothing to do with this little hussy.

Weetie, a/k/a Sweetie, Biscuit, Love Muffin, Sweet Girl. Age: unknown-adult rescue. Hometown: Perry County, TN. Weetie found our house out in the middle of nowhere when she was starving and quite ill. Hubby said he had seen her pass by the house a few times so he knew about her already. One day when he had just gotten out of the shower, she made her way across our front porch screaming the whole time. He described it as a death rattle. Good thing no neighbors could see our house way up on a hill because he tried following her through the woods to catch her in only his rubber boots and undies, leaving a trail of food for her to find. Later that night she made her way back to the front porch. We threw some food at her and while she was busy eating we grabbed her and put her in our shed until we could get her to the vet. The smallest of all of them, she was the hardest to introduce to the household. She came out of her cage like the Tasmanian devil and lashed out at all of them. Some of the others are still leery of her and will keep their distance. She's a sweetheart to the humans and she'll even get up from her nap to greet me when I come in from working out in the shop.

Maggie, a/k/a Big Maggie, Maggie Moo. Age: unknown-adult rescue. Hometown: Perry County, TN. Maggie Moo was another starving kitty find. We found her at a gravel pit on the banks of the Tennessee River, just skin and bones. Good thing we usually have food with us-we had just got back from a week long trip on our house boat and the cooler was full of good kitty treats. First, some ham for this black beauty then a big hunk of cheese. Once she bit onto the cheese we grabbed her and put her in the back of the truck and brought her home. She was the last kitty added and the easiest to introduce. Everyone liked Maggie right away.

Let's not forget about Suzie. Age:unknown-adult rescue. Hometown: Lewis County, TN. Hubby found Suzie one day near our house out in a field with 4 puppies. He brought them all home and when the puppies were old enough we found homes for all of them. Suzie is a sweet dog, a German Shepard mix of some kind. When Bubba came home from surgery they became quick friends and would spend the nights together snuggled up in the garage-this is before Bubba was introduced inside. Here she is with her special log dog house hubby built. She has the run of the backyard with lots of shade trees and plenty of room to roll around.

Well, that's all of the permanent members. Thanks so much for checking them out. I'm thankful that we've been able to help these special angels out-they've all been a blessing to us and hubby and I wouldn't know what to do without them.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I've been featured...and I've got a new kitty!

I'm so excited! One of my cat face ornaments has been featured with some other lovely kitty items on Mouchois' Saturday Shopping Blog. Stop by and see sweet Melvin on the blog here along with Mouchois' Etsy shop for wonderful kitty toys!

Here's the newest kitty in my Etsy shop. I try to make one at least once a month, soon I'll have to plan a week or two of kitty cat making. This latest kitty is grey and white with a pink nose pad and aqua blue eyes.

Here's the kitty that inspired me to start making these kitty faces. He's a stray that stays on the back porch of a house across the street from me and I've been caring for him for the past two years. He's kind of a rough wild kitty--likes to attack and to this day I wear leather gloves when I hand him his meal. He's scratched me more than once, but everyday when he sees me coming over to see him he gets all excited. Honestly, I look forward to seeing him every day, too.
One day while I dropped off his breakfast, it dawned on me that I had some glass globs that were the same stunning blue color as his eyes. I went back home and drew up the very first kitty face and put it together that day. Below are the basic steps involved in creating a cat face.

This is the basic pattern that I use. I've choosen two carribean blue glass globs for this kitty.

Here all of the different colored glass pieces have been cut out and fit together like a puzzle.

All of the glass pieces have been wrapped with copper foil, except for the outside edge.

First, one side is soldered together. The piece is then turned over and the back side is soldered.

Lead came is wrapped around the entire bottom of the kitty's face. A separate piece of lead came it fit over the top of the head and ears and these to pieces are then soldered together.

Black patina is applied to all the solder lines and lead. Next, I've painted the pupils onto the glass globs.

A small loop is soldered to the back of the piece and the kitty is ready to hang up.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Coming up shortly~I'm hoping to start work soon on a frog/lilypad/water lily/dragonfly suncatcher and I'll be posting all the steps involved here.