Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Little Road Trip that Leads to Pottery and a Secret Garden

Yesterday we took a little road trip down along the Mississippi, crossing at Prescott over to Wisconsin and following highway 35 all the way to Alma.

Stopped in Stockholm, Wisconsin, for lunch and to once again admire but not buy the Gaylord Shanilac woodcut prints at Abode Gallery. (One of these days I really am going to buy one!) And the many other pretty things at Abode.

Enjoyed lunch at the Bogus Creek Cafe, where the owner is something of a cheerful bodhisattva, always calm and centered. The food is also very good, and the garden seating is delightful.

Judy in Alma (photo, which I "borrowed" off of Facebook, by Rob Stealcheat)
Then onward to Alma, for the main object of (or excuse for) this trip: to see the newest pottery creations of my longtime friend, Judy Anderson, aka Dragonfly Guild. She is having a one-artist art fair/pottery sale on a little piece of property she and her husband recently bought just north of town.

We actually missed it driving down, but turned around in Alma and headed back north about a mile, and found the sign easy to spot from that direction.

It was great to see her new glazes and designs in "person" (she has posted photos on her Facebook page of the various works in progress).

We bought a couple of mini sauce dishes (for holding chocolates, of course), and sweet little vase, and a demitasse (more or less) mug, which I put to use this morning by brewing a pot of espresso.

Ceramic vessels from Dragonfly Guild, with a tile from Stone Hollow Tile and an espresso pot from, er, *cough*, Target.
And after I finished my coffee, I picked a couple of lilac blossoms hanging over the fence from my neighbor's bush and put them in the little vase.

Oh, about that secret garden. In Alma, there's an establishment called Hotel de Ville, which, besides having rooms for visitors, as you might suppose, also has a little coffee-and-ice cream shop, behind which is their "secret garden," a playful mix of old retaining walls with plantings and sculptures. Definitely worth a peak when you visit Alma.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Stormy Monday Flowers

Today has been quite gloomy and dramatic, with rain and thunderstorms going all day long. But I knew it was coming, so I managed to get out in the garden on Sunday, and besides planting beans and cukes and doing a little weeding, I did scavenge a wee bit of pickable flowers for Jane's flowery house party today. Do go feast your eyes, and gather some creative inspiration, from Jane's lush bouquets as well as the others who've joined the fun this month.

This green carafe seemed like just the right size for a modest bouquet of a couple of daffodils, some wild columbine, a twig or two from the dogwood, a couple of branches from the rosa glauca, which has such wonderful foliage, and a few leaves of lady's mantle. (The lovely tile behind it is from local artist Wendy Penta of Stone Hollow Tile, in case you're wondering.)

Our spring flowers have slept in a bit here in Minnesota, and who can blame them after the winter we all endured? Adding to that, my gardens are still in formation, so they wouldn't be all that lush this spring even if everything bloomed on schedule.

We bought the house in the summer of 2010, and the following spring I was delighted to see all the daffodils and muscari everywhere. But, unfortunately, as the house had sat empty for a couple of years, the weeds were thoroughly entangled with the flowers—especially creeping bellflower, and raspberries! We love raspberries, but it is a challenge to keep them contained.

A successfully transplanted muscari. Yay!

So we have done a lot of digging things up and transplanting what we can save as we go about remaking the gardens. I'm afraid there were a lot of daffodils and muscari among the casualties, and I'm making a point to photo-document the beds this spring so I know where to plant more bulbs come fall.

But sometimes we uncovered a delight that we didn't even know we had because it was hidden under the weeds, like this bloodroot (which has finished blooming; this photo is from a couple of weeks ago).

One corner in the front that was the first garden I worked on reclaiming is coming along quite nicely. The tulips that I planted there are more magenta than the pink that this one appears to be (I really must learn how to use this camera better!), and the ground covers of periwinkle and sweet woodruff are really filling in nicely. You almost don't see the mulch at all.

And I'm really delighted that the periwinkle has finally matured enough to bloom this spring.

I think the sweet woodruff will soon follow. Perhaps I'll have enough of those blossoms for May wine  — though I might have to call it June wine this year.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Maps and Puzzles and Mysteries Found on the Street

I'm something of an anti-magpie: I'm attracted to unshiny objects.

Frequently, when I'm out and about on my bicycle, I'll stop to pick up a rusty scrap of metal on the street. I'm attracted to the red-brown patina of the rust, which I think is a very pleasing color, and the texture and shape of the object, as well as the simple fact that it's made of metal—a remnant of a manmade object derived ultimately from a durable natural material. I guess it holds the same allure for me as ancient ruins. They're like micro urban ruins.

Objects found on Minnehaha Avenue in South Minneapolis
And of course I imagine all sorts of artistic possibilities for these objects to become a part of some mixed media assemblage, which I am designing in my mind even as I circle my bike back and stoop to pick up the rusty old thing that caught my eye as I pedaled past.

I also like the ephemeral nature of discarded paper, especially if it has some intriguing text on it—someone's note or list that hints at a story; a mystery that I'll never solve but that will engage my imagination every time I look at it.

Today I was riding through an alley when I spied scattered puzzle pieces on the pavement. I picked up a few and pocketed them, studying them briefly for the purpose of selecting the ones that appealed to me. Most were blue or blue and green, with some geometric elements, and a few had text.

I was imagining how these would look in a collage or perhaps in combination with some rusted metal—and, indeed, I found a few rusty metal bits nearby as I was collecting the puzzle pieces—while also guessing at what the original puzzle image must have been.

Puzzle pieces collected today, along with metal bits found nearby

As I found more of the pieces scattered along the alley, and then a rather large cluster, it became pretty clear that it was a map. Especially when I came across the motherlode, with some of the pieces still connected to each other, and right next to someone's trash can.

Had someone thrown away the puzzle after assembling it? Or had they almost completed it, only to discover a few pieces missing, and tossed it out in frustration?

I guess it will remain a mystery. But I love both mysteries and puzzles, almost as much as I love rusty old bits of discarded metal.