Friday, October 3, 2014

I've been busy this summer, but not in my studio.

Oh, I moved my studio back home and set it up and made a few things. But my focus has been on a lot of outside projects around our home.

You see, we finally gave up on the idea of selling our home and relocating sometime in the future. And decided to really put our roots down here for the long haul because it will make our lives decidedly simpler and more enjoyable. But we wanted to make some changes. And we're so happy that we did.

It was the swampiest and most humid of summers in north Florida. Our young workers did an amazing job holding up against the sun, rain and humidity day after day. I ran around in the heat a lot more than usual, too.

Eighteen years ago, we moved into this small house I've long called a 'bomb shelter.' Built for only $9,000 in 1957, I've often wished they'd splurged originally and spent $11,000 so we'd have a bigger kitchen and a second bathroom. Yes, weren't mid-century housing prices amazingly low?

For my studio to move back home, we had to add some storage on our property. And we had to improve some existing storage, because the house itself doesn't offer much.

Now all my art show booth stuff is tucked away with myriad other things. A potting bench has been built and all of our potting materials have been organized around it.

Mowers and tools and bikes have secure homes. And our two cats have nice shelters to scurry to, to avoid the rain.

We still have hardscaping and landscaping to do.  We've only made a small dent in these so far. Soon we'll see cooler weather and that will be our cue to build the stone patios and move plantings to new locations.

It's kind of nice to live in a 'vintage' dwelling on a modest bit of property. Its affordability will allow us to do the traveling we want to do, and maybe even to avoid the hottest months of summer in years to come. We dream of renting for a month or two each summer in the Appalachians, when sun and rain beat upon Tallahassee.
There were several spots around our yard that were muddy and hard to traverse. We've improved those with 'dry streams' made of pavers and river rocks. I love how much cleaner things are where we've done this, and how much more easily traveled.

When we bought our home, it had suffered a 'scorched-earth' treatment from its former owner. The whole property boasted about three pitiful trees. In our first year here, we planted a number of trees and bushes, to the point that our formerly sunny yard is now mostly shady. Our eyesore of a house is now a woodsy parkland abode and we love it. We've even painted it a sage green. Our landscaping phase will see the advent of a butterfly/pollinator garden. I'm very into bees and butterfliesI'm happy to report that north Florida's honeybees are doing quite well. We have colder winters than you might expect in Florida, and the cold holds back the Africanized bees of south Florida and out west. Our beekeepers are so successful with honeybee hives here that we actually rent hundreds of hives to California and other western areas, to pollinate their bee-dependent crops, like almonds. When we get our bees back, they need rehabilitation. And this is where homeowners come in.

Planting flowering plants that support bees and butterflies helps those populations stay strong and healthy. Even a few butterfly plants in pots are helpful to the pollinators. Entertaining, too. I love sitting in my red deck chairs and watching the bugs work. And we've had lots of cardinals and hummingbirds this year. We keep the feeders full and are entertained by busy critters grateful for food and drink. Right now, the earliest clues that autumn is coming can be seen. The light is buttery and the nights are cooler. Some of the trees are a little rusty. This awareness always gets me going: studio time!

The winter holidays will soon be upon us. I'm excited. I always am. I love the energy of the holiday season and the mission it gives our lives. But, for now, I'm content to hang around the house with the nectar collectors and invite my jewelry Muse to lead me back to my workbench. Happy autumn, to all of you in the northern hemisphere, and happy spring to those down under.