Life, art, and nature on Maryland's Eastern Shore.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


I am back with apologies for being so long away.  The winter was long and stressful, and I could feel my creative mojo winding down. Then spring came, and along with it my new horse, Bates. One month of training board turned into two, before I finally brought him home at the beginning of July. A lot of my time was spent, driving back and forth to Caroline county to work with him. I finally brought him home at the beginning of July. After two more months of work and worry with him, we finally accepted, that while he is a very nice horse, he is just not the horse for me. 
In art biz news, I am showing my work for the first time at the Alpaca Festival at Outstanding Dreams Farm. So while I was fretting about my new horse, I was working feverishly to get ready for this weekend. 
It was hot and muggy, with occasional gusts of wind that at one point lifted up my tent. Fortunately, my show savvy neighbor had extra stakes. We'll be a little better prepared today, and it is supposed to be a bit cooler. I sold a few pieces yesterday, but more importantly, got tons of great feedback, and was given some really good leads on galleries, and asked if I'd be interested in teaching a class. Fun stuff.
Another benefit of committing to this show, is that I finally got my mixed-media pieces properly framed. I also dug into my stash of small vintage frames, and had a good time finding photos to do them justice. 
All of this show prepping has left my house in a state I'm not particularly proud of. This is my dining room table this morning...don't judge.
Tomorrow is another day. I have all morning to unpack and put my house in order. In the afternoon I am going to Queenstown to pick up a foster puppy. I am not even kidding.
You know there will be tons of pics.
Anyway, it feels to great to be pack. Catch you later with more show news.

Saturday, July 4, 2015


Happy 4th of July! 
I had the idea that Nigel and Scout would look adorable in patriotic tank tops. I didn't factor in their lack of shoulders. There were lots of out-takes.
That's actually a yawn and not her Shark Week audition.
As the weather is very iffy, we decided to do a little road trip today. Drove over to Greenwood, Delaware for barbecued chicken at the fire house...truly some of the best on the shore. We were planning a trip to Chick's in Harrington to buy horsey things after, but had not reckoned they'd be closed for the 4th, so we wandered home through country roads. Stopped for fresh produce, browsed an antique mall, running into an old friend and neighbor and wandered home to play with the horses before the rain set in. Again.
Always been curious about this little no-name church.
This small windmill is on the way to Timber Grove Farm. I've wanted to stop and take a pic for weeks. The farmhouse burned down a few years ago, but it is still a working farm. The next time I see someone there, I will stop and ask if the windmill is for sale.
No words. Only the large print is visible from the road.
Guineas on a country road.
So tempted by this. It works!!
Glad that Mike is home from the father-son, road trip to LA. Our first born is happily moved into his LA apartment and anxious to start work at USC. Mike was away for eight nights, our longest separation in thirty-five years. Happy to spend this holiday weekend puttering with him. Tomorrow is our best chance for decent weather, so we plan to get the kayaks out.
In other news, now that Mike is home, I've brought my new horse, Bates home. I had planned to leave him at Timber Grove Farm for a month of training but that turned into two months and has eaten up an enormous amount of time. Abby has fallen instantly in love with him. It doesn't help that she is in season, and kicks and hollers when I take him out of the barn.

Ashley Hopkins of Timber Grove Farm, delivering our new guy home.

Now the task is to let him adjust to his new surroundings, and start riding him here at home. Without all the travel time to and from the other farm, life should get back to normal and I can get back on schedule with BarnBugStudio.
We are trying to decide whether to hop on our bikes and ride down to the river to watch the fireworks (it just stopped raining) or nestle in here at home. The thought of soggy ground and epic numbers of mosquitoes has us leaning toward the former.
Happy 4th of July, blog friends!! XO

Sunday, June 7, 2015


I feel a creative surge coming on, which is inconvenient, as I'm super busy just now. I wake in the night with ideas. Still have my handsome new man, Bates, at Timber Grove Farm for training. Visiting him takes a big chunk out of most days. I made the decision last week to give him a couple more weeks of training there. We are still figuring each other out, and last week's rain kept me from riding as much as I had planned. Also, in just two weeks, my guys are embarking on their father-son road trip to LA. I am calling it Mike and Patrick's Excellent Adventure. I am hoping to have Bates home and settled before they leave.
I took advantage of the wet days last week to fling some paint around and stitch. Painted a few background canvasses, and made a new version of one I've used before. This time, I printed it on flax linen, which gave it a lovely sepia tone and inspired my choice of additional fabrics.
Paint and collaged paper on art board.
Mixed-media art quilt with vintage fabric, hand and machine stitching, etc...

Yesterday, we mowed, and I spring cleaned the barn, then went to the farm and rode Bates. When I woke up this morning, I could hardly move, but two ibuprofen and a hot bath later, I was on my bike. We did thirteen miles around Cambridge, before ending up at Stoked, our Sunday place for lunch. I always pedal more cheerfully when there's a nice meal dangled in front of me. It was a glorious day to be outdoors on the Eastern Shore.

Wild roses on the roadside.
The fishing bridge.
Cambridge light house.
Oh dear.
Hope you had a wonderful weekend and got to spend some time outside. It was 79 degrees here...a day to be relished. Too soon, it will be stinkin' hot. XO.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


It was a relief to have a weekend with lovely weather and no big plans. Finally got around to some gardening. My big galvanized water trough had sprung a leak, and as I had already patched it a time or two, I decided to re-purpose it as a container garden. I don't really have the back for bending over and pulling weeds. Like most simple projects, it took on a life of its own. Mike decided we should add pavers underneath, and we would move the washtub from the shed and plant it, as well. We quickly realized that we needed more space and ordered three more tubs, found that cute blown glass solar light, added a hook for the hummingbird feeder and a hanging plant. Ordered another hook for symmetry's sake, and voila!!
I can see from this pic that fence painting needs to be the next chore.
The strawberry plants were given to me by a dear friend, and are already producing, though I'm afraid the birds have discovered them, and the trough has become a convenient fast food stop for the tenants in the martin house.

While I had my hands in the dirt, I did a few more potting chores. My flower beds are filled with perennials, so the few annuals that I plant are in containers. The perennials have expanded rapidly in the nine years we have lived here and choked out most of the weeds. It helps to have an at-home manure machine. That stuff is magic when composted with stall bedding.
Abby. Manure machine.
If you're planting a really large container such as a trough, you might want to add a false bottom to limit the amount of potting soil you'll need. In all the planters, we started with a layer of compost and added potting soil on top. It's working. These radish seeds sprouted in two days!!
Green pepper, mint, and rosemary.
Geraniums on the front steps.
When it is stinking hot and humid, and watering begins to seem like drudgery, I will think of friends on the west coast and remember to feel grateful for the privilege. For today, I am holding off, because it looks as though Mother Nature is going to take care of that chore herself.
Happy gardening, blog friends! XO

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


This past week has been so packed with good things...I've been too busy enjoying them to stop and write.
We took the grandmothers out for a late lunch to celebrate Mother's Day last Saturday, leaving us free on Sunday to drive up to Baltimore and meet our kids for a whopping breakfast at Golden West Cafe in Hampden. From there, we drove to Monkton to visit the Ladew Topiary Gardens. Love hanging out with these grown up children of mine.

It was hot and steamy but the tulips were gorgeous, and my girl and I had a great time with our cameras.
On Monday, I had the first riding lesson on my new horse. He is settling in nicely at Timber Grove Farm, and finally has a name...Bates. You Downton Abbey fans will get that.
The very best thing about last week? On Thursday, Mike, my MIL, and I went back up to Baltimore to hear our son defend his thesis at Johns Hopkins University. He now has a PhD in physical chemistry and is officially Dr. Cottingham. Hurray!! Such a proud and happy day!! After champagne and cake with his department, we were off to The Thai Restaurant for a celebratory lunch. Love that place!!
Our guy, loaded down with graduation swag.
Both kids were home for the weekend and we continued the celebration with family, on the Boardwalk in Ocean City and at EVO Public House in Salisbury.
The carousel at Trimper's on the boardwalk.
That was a lot of celebrating for one week, so although Sunday was our 35th wedding anniversary, we decided to postpone those festivities until next weekend when we can give the occasion the attention it deserves. We had a nice leisurely day with our girl, lunching at Stoked because it was Sunday, and they might think we'd died if we didn't show up, eating strawberry shortcake, and walking the dogs down to the river for a swim. Nigel and Scout are teaching Gus to swim. So far, he's just a wader, but he will be spending a week with us in June and I expect that will be enough time for him to learn.
It's super quiet here today. Even the dogs are exhausted. Weekends with our grand-dog, Gus, wear them out. This week, I plan to focus on Bates, trying to make the most of this month of training board, refreshing the blog, and getting back to my workroom. The folks at Outstanding Dreams Alpaca Farm have invited me to sell my photos and artwork at their Alpaca Festival in September. I want to see how much I can get done in the next few weeks...lots of almost finished projects laying around and new ideas banging around in my brain.
Wishing you a week stuffed with good things. XO

Thursday, May 7, 2015


An amazing thing has happened, blog friends. That dream I have had since I was two years old and toddling around with a plastic horse, falling on it and cutting my upper lip so badly I needed stitches. That thing. I have a horse of my own. Not my daughter's horse, not my friend's horse, my horse. I can scarcely believe it. I first looked at him a couple of weeks ago. The girls came home and rode him. They approved. I had him vetted on Monday. Dr. Callahan approved. I wrote a check, with a shaking hand. He is mine.
I have always loved horses and have been around them for most of the last twenty-five years. I was blessed with a horse-crazy daughter and fortunate enough to understand and indulge that passion. I took lessons along with my daughter. I've been a horse show mom, a barn mom,a therapeutic riding volunteer, and finally a barn owner. It was enough, and I was beginning to believe that it was all that would be...but I am married to a wonderful man, who, while not horse-crazy himself, gets it. If you're a regular reader, you know that Mike gave me a horse for Christmas, but fortunately, I took him on trial and in the end decided he was not the one.

This is the one.
They were calling him Charley, but there are a lot of Charley horses about, so I would like to think of something different. I am open to suggestion, but you should know that I generally name my animals after authors or literary characters.
I have not brought him home, opting instead to board him for a month at Timber Grove Farm, where they will whip us both into shape first.
With two horses, I'll need more of everything, so I picked up a big bag of carrots and found this...
Is it just me, or does this carrot look as if it desperately needs the ladies room?
Hope you are following your bliss, blog friends, wherever you are. XO.

Friday, May 1, 2015


Happy May Day! It's chilly and grey here, so I cheered myself up with these super simple May baskets. 
Rolled pages from an old poetry book into cones, punched a hole through opposite sides (reinforced the hole with a piece of tape), knotted a length of ribbon through the holes for hanging. Attached a bit of vintage bling, then stuffed each cone with a small plastic baggie and added the flowers.
Add a carrot, if you're making one for your pony.
Have a great weekend, blog friends. It's supposed to be 80 degrees here by Sunday. Time to break out the bikes, or kayaks, or both. XO!