Restoring Old Garden Sculptures

It was a rainy day, nothing to be done outside. It was the perfect day to tackle a chore that had been put aside for some time – bringing back to life old garden sculptures. People tend to discard garden sculptures because paint has faded over time or the elements have taken a toll on these; however, with a little effort these can be brought back to life. We purchased a few garden sculptures over 15 years ago for our previous home, and when we moved we took them with us to the farmhouse. Although I love the weathered look of garden sculptures my husband likes a more clean and painted look, so he took on the task on a rainy day, and I joined in the effort. We sat on the porch, enjoyed the sound of the rain in the old tin roof, and painted away. A cup of hot chocolate made the task more enjoyable.

It doesn’t take much effort, other than dust them off and make sure the sculptures are not wet, or at least almost dry, but we had put the job aside for years, and because I like the weathered old look there was no rush; however I have to say that these really look good painted. After painting them, we sprayed a light layer of clear coat to protect the paint. The paint and clear coat will help the sculptures last longer, and also prevent the concrete from eroding faster. Here are a few pictures of the project.

Before – In the process of painting these two bunny sculptures.
After – The bunnies look beautiful now. The pots in the back are filled with two tiny evergreens I found around the property. On the opposite side, there are two more. They will grow to resemble Christmas trees.
This one has grown fast; it was barely three inches when planted.
I liked the old patina on this cement pot, but the birds were not noticeable anymore, so we decided to bring back the original color of these birds and leave the old patina just be.

We have a few more sculptures to restore to beauty. Old things are lovely, and can be made lovelier with a bit of effort.

What I Am Reading Now – Supernatural Finances

Supernatural Finances by Kevin L. Zadai

I have read countless of books on finances/money management, but I have never read one quite like this one.

If you are looking for an unconventional approach to finances this book does just that. It is written from a Christian and supernatural point of view, and supported by bible teaching, according to the author’s experience. It is written as if the author is talking directly to the reader, almost as if you are in conversation, something I had to get used to(the rhythm) when reading it. Definitely an interesting and different approach to finances, and one which for many people present a challenge, as it is not the typical fact, theory, and tips approach usually found in most books about this topic. If you are not a Christian, it will definitely puzzle you and make you frown, and if you are, it would pick your interest and possibly open your eyes, or at least, encourage you to dig more into it. Unconventional, powerful, and mystifying.

Synergy in Writing

The other day, I saw a commercial for one of the latest James Patterson novels. It is known that Mr. Patterson coauthors many of his books. This prolific author is a good example of the power of two for a common goal. In other words, there is strength in many. Although he has been criticized for this approach, it seems to have worked very well. The novels are under his well-known name (and in smaller lettering the co-author) and coauthoring has not diminish his author presence, maybe because he built a strong name before coauthoring. In this case, the other author has benefited as well, if not more. What might have not worked as well by oneself is made possible by a joint effort. Two purposes meet and unify under one common goal benefiting both parties. I saw this a lot when I was in Real Estate. Two agents would partner, and enter into a beneficial and profitable relationship. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it did not.

I think it takes a strong and confident personality to enter into this type of arrangement. After all, authors are very protective of their name and the work under that name. Profitability might make things easier and more enticing. In this case, I think it is genius. It increases image/credibility as a team effort, helps time management, and provides other benefits such as more ground covered, support and encouragement, as well as safety. For many of these partnerships it was a win-win situation. How do you view co-authoring?

Unrelated – When life gives you hard sugar, make a sculpture.

Sugar Cat
From cat to dog. Unfortunately, from dog to duck crumbled. But that was the purpose.

Farmhouse Garden Project

I know that there are things on our To Do List that should have priority, but sometimes, we cannot help it and an idea just hits one of us and we both run with it. This little garden project was born in my head while sitting on the porch as my husband was talking about things he would like to do around the future rain garden. He liked the proposed change and we went with it. One of the front bushes was looking sad despite many attempts to make it become more full. It wasn’t working. It was one of the original bushes we uncovered and tried to make healthier. Here is a picture of it.

It is the bush on the far left.

After trimming it very low to the ground to force it to fill up a bit, it did not do that, so we decided this year to remove it and move one of the stone benches on the porch to that area. Here is the result. We like it better that way. We thought it would be a difficult task to remove it, but to our surprise, it was very loose and came out easily. Maybe this was the reason for it to look a bit unhealthy.

The small boxwood by the bird fountain is still recovering from the large branch that fell on top of it during the ice storm.

Once you start you just keep moving, so my husband decided that he wanted to try something – moving the porch hanging solar light to one of the entrances that he is cleaning up to continue a few short trails. I thought about moving the solar light somewhere else but was not sure where, so that worked out.

Here is my other half working on his idea.
The solar lights are hanging from the branch he attached between two young trees.
We had to wait until twilight to see the result. The mason jar lights twinkle so it was hard to take a picture. I can see them through the kitchen window as I do dishes. Eventually all three entrances will have solar lights.

From there it was natural to move to something else, so I decided to make a little habitat for garden critters at the Faerie garden. I repurposed an old table stand and used it as a small trellis for an ivy, and under it I placed one of the chimney halves I had found before. As the ivy grows and becomes fuller it will turn into a cozy retreat for critters.

The idea is for the ivy to cover the entire structure and for garden critters to use it as a home.

As the garden wakes up, we keep helping it look better every year. This section is looking better after tending it with hope, working with the existing area, and adding a few things.

More irises have grown. Once the irises die, pink flowers come up, and after those, white ones, followed by tiny yellow ones. There is something blooming always. Originally, this area was an old trunk under grass and overgrown bushes. It has come a long way.

All seeds have been planted on the veggie garden area, and they are coming up. The seeds for the flower circle are planted as well, and hopefully, we will be able to clear an area in the back for planting cantaloupe, corn, pumpkin, and sunflowers. That part requires a bit more work. As the garden grows and changes we also grow and change with it.

A Lovely Shade of Moon

If you were looking up last night, you saw the beautiful supermoon called a pink moon. The name refers to a spring flower, the wild ground Plox (Moss Plox). It was a lovely sight, as is always the moon.

Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.

A full moon is always a delight to see; one never gets tired of it.

Things That Make Me Go ???

I am puzzled; I just don’t get it. In July 1st Virginia will become one of the states were recreational marijuana is allowed. Our democratic governor happily signed, and legislation passed by 48-43 vote, I think, if I did not misread. In his words, “We are giving Virginians what they want.” I personally doubt that. Our governor is a physician, a pediatrician. I know that should not influence anything he signs, but why rush this legalization? Don’t these things take some preparation and training (law enforcement training for example)? Virginia will join 12 states (11 plus Washington DC, and we are a Commonwealth by definition, not a state, but that is another ???) these being Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey (joined in February 2021),Vermont, Washington, and Washington D.C. . There might be more I missed. All except Alaska, are democratic states. Virginians will be able to enjoy the pot, and grow up to four plants per household, prohibited from selling it, but you can offer it as a gift to someone (yup, I will gift you this lovely plant, but can you lend me some $$$?), must label their plants (really?), keep them out of public view (why, isn’t it legal now, and aren’t the plants labeled?), and keep them away from anyone under 21 years old (we know how that will work out). Virginians cannot smoke it in public, or in a vehicle (Ha!), and penalties will remain the same for minors, possession and use in schools (at least some sense). All this in the name of “social equity” because I guess minorities are criminalized more for possession (not my words). There’s another layer to this in relation with business licensing, and preference to minorities for grant licensing (???).

Ok so now that we have cover the basics here, this is what puzzles me. When I was a kid, it was hammered over and over in Health studies that marijuana was a very very very bad drug, and we had to memorize the horrible effects, physical, social, etc. and then pour the precious knowledge out into a test. So was I brainwashed as a kid? Well, I am not so sure. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (Advancing Addiction Science, yes Science) seems to have its pretty “old fashioned” view on this topic. You can read all about the dangerous side effects and implications here Marijuana DrugFacts | National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

If this government agency still thinks this way, then WHY, WHY, WHY? Pollyanna asks. Seriously, take a quick look at all the effects, impairment and other stuff, in case you forgot Health studies. I am sure we all know someone who had smoke it, or still does, but honestly, the people who I have seen smoking it acted like clowns, impaired nimrods … Maybe I never saw a pot-smoking human who acts normal or posed? So why am I so concerned? Simply, I can see the effects on the street (now that it is legalized and easier to access here), people driving erratically after smoking while texting going to work, and messing up their work, which might require a high level of concentration and skill. Don’t want someone forgetting to tighten those brakes, or putting sugar in your cappuccino, or forgetting that bistoury inside you (after all, One of many physicians agrees). But most of all, I think of how soon my car insurance will go up again, and I say again, because it went up by an additional $500 a year during Covid season, yes and we were not driving much, and so the rest of the world, so I can’t wait to see how much our 20 year old cars will cost to drive next year, and by the way, driven by two old farts who have been accident free for decades, but are getting older now. When I moved from Jersey (city) to Virginia (rural VA) my insurance went up. When I asked why, I was told that more accidents happen here. I guess those long lone country roads are quite dangerous here.

Now that I aired my selfish motives, if you read the link, you will understand the rest, and I don’t have to mention it on this post. I am sure that most people who smoke it will be good responsible citizens who mean no harm and got it together, so maybe I am exaggerating here, and all is well. It is not my intention to judge people either; it is not my place. I will have to educate myself on the effects on those states, after legalization took place, and if there were any significant changes. Despite the risks of using this drug (labeled as such by the NIDA) the image being sold is one of minorities being treated fairly for smoking pot, not jailed, and that jailed people (for small possession) will be set free and gallop into the sunshine. And we will live happily ever after.

*Disclaimer – This post has been written by an American woman of Hispanic (Puerto Rican)/Spaniard/Basque/Canarian … and a whole much more descent. Any views presented here are hers only, and are not part of this network or its affiliates. (Could not help myself).

In God’s Image (Poetic Rant)

Photo by M.A.D.

In God’s Image – A poetic Rant

When you call out inclusion, I am insulted; I believe I am a part already.

When you want to lower standards for me, I am underrated; I have high standards.

How can there be equality when I am being set apart as being different or less than by the same policies that claim equity?

Your policies are intended to keep me down, but I have never seen myself as a victim.

I am made in the image of God, and in God I trust.

Impromptu Farmhouse Project

This project was not in our radar, but we spotted a lovely tree with gorgeous white flowers, which seemed to be thriving in the back area of the house. My husband decided to try and free it from the bushes, grass, and other small trees that were suffocating it. That was all it took for us to continue the effort along a small area, working on freeing other evergreens, mostly cedar that are growing close together. So we did. Some smaller trees that were growing next to one another had to be eliminated, but this freed up growing space for the ones we kept. It was a joint effort; while my husband cut the trees, I removed the debris and piled it up with the rest of the dead branches that need removing, and I cleared the area with a rake. The area looks much better now. We are planning on hanging solar lights on the two entrances. We also think that it would be nice to add a bench and some flower pots in the future. For now, we will continue to work on the remainder part of the area. Here are some pictures of this unscheduled project.

One of the little cedars we decided to save. The back area is full of overgrown vegetation.
Most of it looks like this, one tree on top of another.
The white-flower tree has been freed, and a few cedars as well.
Other cedars and another white-flower tree are asking for help, and we’ll freed them too.

After that, we have been preparing the garden for planting, and cleaning up winter’s vestige. As soon as the weather permits and the temperature remains a bit warmer, work on the veggie garden will begin. We are still having some nights in the low 30F.

The veggie garden got a refresh, and the pots/boxes were filled with extra soil. It is ready for planting.
I worked on setting up this area last year, and I am seeing the results now; unfortunately, this is one of the giant cedars that will have to be cut down, after the ice storm damage.
Spring Moth Worms are starting to show up.
The shed got a light layer of mulch as well. Because we use pine needles from the property in the winter, it cuts down on how much mulch we need to use when it needs it. The plants in the pots keep coming back every year, so this area is almost effortless now. Eventually, much of the area will become almost effortless.
While cleaning up the back area we found part of a chimney top that was split in two parts. I decided to place these in the faerie garden as shelter for critters, whether frogs or whatever decides to visit.

Despite our ongoing project list, we never know what new project will show up on the side. It is always fun and never boring. Our goal is to get to a point were most areas are set up and become almost effortless to maintain, that is, considering the mess we started with when we bought the place (see Restoring an Old Farmhouse series of posts). I hope that you enjoyed reading about this project.

The Most Influential Figure in My Life Made It to My Books, and I Didn’t Know It.

Most of us can think of someone who has been the most influential person in our lives, whether as a child or an adult. For me, that person was my grandmother. I was raised by my grandmother. She was a strong woman, a Christian woman full of faith, a hardcore Catholic who spoke in tongues and prayed the rosary everyday. A woman filled with the Holy Spirit every single day of her life. She also had a strong character, and authority. To me, it seemed as she was always in control, no matter what was going around her. Her faith sustained her. She was compassionate, but never weak. When she spoke her mind, she just did, but never offended anyone. She had poise, presence, and good manners – good manners were very important to her. She was known in our small neighborhood, and was always eager to help in what she could. She never denied a glass of water (or coffee) to a stranger that would stop at our house. I never heard her complain about anything, but heard her sing throughout the day. She was frugal, but never in generosity. She also had a softer side, which she let out from time to time. Her word was law. She was a warrior.

It wasn’t until I had finished writing The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy that I realized one day how much Olga Gartier (the leader of The Blue Lily Society, the protectors of Dinorah Sandbeck) reminded me of my grandmother. I had drawn so much from my grandmother’s character to create Olga Gartier. The physical part was unlike my grandmother, the opposite, but her character was were I could clearly see her. It was a pleasant discovery, joyful. I even dedicated to her, in memory, the first book of the trilogy – Ramblings of the Spirit.

I have never met anyone like her in all my years, and she remains in my heart, memories, and somehow, inside the pages of my books.

This Old Farmhouse – My Take on the Journey So Far

About ten years ago, my husband and I bought an abandoned old farmhouse that was dilapidated and almost buried under a morass of overgrown bushes, grass, and trees. It wasn’t until five years ago that we moved into it. It took some money, time, and a lot of work to make it livable, and there are many areas that still need to be addressed, mainly exterior work. It has been hard work, and I mean, real hard work. Because we did not count with a large budget, we had to do most of the work ourselves (about 95%), just the two of us. We continue to work together in some outdoor projects, slowly, as the budget allows.

Will we do it again? Although a simple question that requires a yes or no answer, I find myself unable to answer it in such way simply because it has been quite a journey. A journey full of bittersweet moments – great moments, exhausting moments, unnerving moments, proud moments, and moments of faith as well. We both have learned so much – about ourselves, about working together and our working styles, about new skills, about the house, about appreciation and gratefulness, about our limits and disposition, and much more; but mostly, about trusting the Lord in our everyday lives. This is why a simple yes or no answer does not suffice.

In the practical sense, a bigger budget would have made things easier and faster – hiring people, easier/better materials and tools, and overall contracting out the hard work areas, and only dealing with the fun tasks. Ideally. However, we would have not experienced and learned as much, grown with the project, and appreciate it as much. It was hard work, but also fun. We would have done some things in a different way, but other things in the same way we did. Overall, I think the experience built up character, but also faith. In that sense, it is a step up from where we started. The long and hard working hours improved our physical stamina but also our mind; the overall experience, our souls. We will continue to work together on this old farmhouse and will share some projects here.

So going back to the yes or no question – will we do it again? I will answer the question for myself, but I think my husband feels the same way about it. The hard work was physically taxing but the overall experience was worth it. If you would like to take a look at the progress so far, please check out the “Fixing an Old Farmhouse” series of posts on this blog.

Yes.

Photo by M.A.D.
Photo by M.A.D.