Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Accepted! Art in a Juried Show

Winter has arrived in northern Michigan with somewhat of a vengeance. We’ve been under a winter storm warning for three days now, with blowing and drifting snow. After a wonderful Thanksgiving at the family getaway, we closed the place up for the winter and have already battened down all  the hatches at home, ready for whatever winter throws at us.

It’s been quite a while since I last posted so today I’ll just share a few bits and pieces of what’s been going on for me during what turned out to be a very busy month. First I’ll share some exciting news on the art front, and then you can skip the rest if you’re not interested.

Last week I entered two paintings in a juried show at Artcenter Traverse City. The title of the show is  Portraits: People, Pets and Animals. “Winter Scotch” and “Yuri” were the available paintings I chose to take, and I’m happy to report that both have apparently been accepted into the show which opened yesterday and runs through the end of the year. Above you can see “Winter Scotch” as it appears after varnishing. Unfortunately, again the photo doesn’t begin to do the painting justice. Some paintings just don’t photograph well no matter what. I think I need to get a polarizing lens for my camera.

I'm very excited about this acceptance since it's the first time I've entered a juried show in some time, and it will be exciting to see my artwork hanging with some of the best artists in the Traverse City area. 

Since my last post I’ve consulted two more animal communicators and learned more from and about my horse.  I was very displeased with the second animal communicator because she interjected so many personal opinions about various things that I wasn’t sure what my horse actually said and what she added to. The third gal is a local woman recommended by my vet, and she was wonderful to work with. I finally got the final word on the saddle I’ve been using on loan for the past few months and Scottie says it pinches him in the withers so I need to start looking again. Drat!!

I learned one thing that has kind of blown me away about this whole communication thing. You see, there’s a possibility that I will be laid up this winter if I choose to have surgery to rebreak a crooked leg and have a rod or plate inserted to straighten it. Well, I asked the animal communicator if Scottie was aware of this, and he replied that he was and that he is worried about me and worried for himself that he won’t see me this winter.  I had told my barn buddies about it in Scottie’s presence a few weeks ago and he understood what we were saying.

Last night I had another moment with Scottie which confirmed that he can understand what I’m saying to him. I was explaining to him that I was going to wear my helmet because I was riding alone and didn’t want to risk breaking my head if I fell off again and that I might go away forever and cross over the rainbow bridge if I did. Immediately he became very agitated, tossing his head and moving back and forth in the cross ties.  As I continued to talk to him about how we both have to be very careful not to fall so that we won’t get hurt, he calmed down to his usual quiet self.

Well, I’ve gone on long enough for today. With luck, I’ll get to some painting this afternoon and then I’ll have some progress on the Belgian painting to show you.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Green Team Revisited

I’ll keep this very brief today, but I did want to share with you the fact that I’ve finally gotten back to work on this painting which has been languishing on the studio wall for over a year now.  You may remember this painting of the Belgian draft horses at a horse pull which I started a very long time ago.

Having finished one small painting and started another in the past two weeks, my confidence was restored enough to tackle this one. To be perfectly frank, I’ve been dreading doing the trailer because my references for it are so poor. I’m having to guess about reflections and hope for the best. After two working sessions what you see above is where the  painting is now. I’m not sure about the reflected grass on the lower part of the trailer, but I’ll address that later when the paint is dry. I think a glaze over it with some blue will tone it down and make it more believable.

As I mentioned, I have someone interested in buying the painting, so I really MUST get it finished! In the next session, I'll work on the horses, and that will bring it close to being finished.

Last night at the barn I had kind of a funny moment with my horse, Scottie, that goes back to the talk with the animal communicator. I was saddling him up and tightening the girth. I was debating whether or not to take it up one more notch which seemed kind of tight when Scottie turned around and gave me a disgusted look. I could almost hear him saying, “Now you KNOW  I told you that I don’t like the girth so tight, so why are you doing it again?” I let the buckle out, and he was happy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A New Painting and Barn Fairies

I started a brand new painting yesterday. It’s my first since last winter, and I’m quite excited about it. In keeping with my resolve to paint only images which excite me and aren’t too challenging for the time being, I chose to do a little painting of one of our cats when she was a kitten. She was four months old when we rescued her from going to animal control where her chances of being adopted were not good. So, she was pretty much out of the really cute kitten stage but grown up enough to tell that she was going to be a beautiful cat.

Annie came to us round about from a neglectful home. In a word when we got her, she stunk! She had feces caked to her behind and other parts, so as soon as I got her home from the initial vet check the next day, she got a bath. As with so many things, she took this scary adventure in stride and bounced back with kitten-like vigor.

Annie was loaded with personality and energy and curious about everything. She was often naughty but so full of personality that she wiggled her way into our hearts. She grew into a beautiful, long haired cat but suffered from some sort of intestinal malfunction for most of her life. Just before Christmas two years ago, we had her put to sleep because she had declined so much.

I still miss her terribly.

At any rate, this little painting is an oil on 6x6 inch gallery wrapped canvas. I started by toning the canvas with a mixture of yellow ochre and naples yellow and then drew the main features directly on the canvas with burnt umber. That’s the first stage you see here. The main thing was to get everything in proper proportion.

I continued by laying on the first few layers of paint, starting with her eyes and making adjustments as I went. The yellow ochre/naples yellow mixture was painted in as the base for her coat. The darker areas are a mixture of ultramarine blue and burnt umber. When I had the main features fleshed (or furred) out, I quit for the day to let the painting dry before continuing.

What has me particularly enthused about THIS painting is figuring out that I can draw directly on the canvas without a preliminary drawing on paper and have it come out well. I’ve only done one other cat painting in my life, and that was a commission years ago in pastel. This painting has really boosted my confidence, and I should have no problem finishing it in record time.

Last night, I had a really good ride on The Great Pumpkin as Scottie is known in the fall. He was moving out better and managed ground poles with no problem. Since Ann and I were the only ones to ride, we played barn fairies afterward while the horses dried off. She swept the barn aisle while I mucked out Elle’s stall. Or, should I say Miss Piggy’s stall?

This morning I got a call from the vet letting me know that Scottie’s selenium level is very low; just as I suspected. If we up his supplement a little, maybe he won’t be so stiff and muscle sore as he has been for so long.

I’m crossing my fingers!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fall Trail Ride and A Finished Painting

                           "Winter Scotch" 8x10 oil on canvas board

Last Saturday was our second annual birthday ride at the barn, and we had a really good time, with one small glitch. We gathered in the morning for donuts and coffee and then saddled up and rode for over an hour. When we got back, we ate a potluck lunch and gabbed some more for a while before going our separate ways.

The weather was perfect; sunny and relatively warm although the wind was chilly. There was still enough color left in the trees to make for a very pretty ride which even the horses seemed to enjoy.

Unfortunately for Shelley, one of her horses suddenly came up lame after a roll in the dirt, and she stayed  behind for a while to make sure he was going to be all right. He has an arthritic knee and had once before gotten a “floater” stuck in the wrong place, causing him much pain until he managed to dislodge it again.  Before we left he seemed fine, and Shelley promised to saddle up shortly and catch up to us. Our ride was almost over by the time she did on her exhausted mare.

I’m posting some of the many photos I took here. 

On Monday I finished the painting, “Winter Scotch” which I did almost two years ago. It’s a painting of my horse, Scottie, in his winter woolies. My goal was to capture that plush look that horses have in their winter coats, and the painting turned out really well after the revisions. Unfortunately, this photo doesn’t do it justice, and I’m going to have to find a better way to photograph it.

That’s all for today. Enjoy the photos.

                               The road where the bear was spotted last summer

                     This is a definite candidate for a future painting!
                                                                     Calling Shelley

                Colorful leaves making a pretty pattern on the ground
                                            Back at the barn
                                      Lunch buffet in the tack room

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Art and Animal Communication

Oh, my goodness! It’s been such a long time since I last posted that I decided to share with you what I’ve been up to even though I haven’t done much in the way of art.

It is color season now here in northwest lower Michigan, and I did begin a plein air painting of the lake out on the deck last week but didn’t get very far. It had been so long since I set up the french easel that I forgot how it worked and had to fool around with it for a while to get the legs extended and set up. Then I moved the easel about ten times before I found a good spot from which to paint. Next I had to set up all the other paraphernalia like the palette and paints and jar of medium, and by that time it was getting too late in the day and time to fix dinner. So, I packed it all up and brought it inside. I did, however, get one layer of paint on the board.

Since then it’s been one thing after another and I’ll probably have to finish the painting from photographs I’ve taken over the past few days when the conditions and the light were right. If I can get to it quick enough, I’ll have the benefit of being able to observe the colors and so forth from the studio window as I work.

Since my last post, I also met with my local mentor again, and he gave me some very good advice about how to handle this blocked state I seem to be in and gave me a different assignment. He suggested that I put horses aside for the time being and do some plein air painting. However, I found that going outside my comfort zone was not going to work to get me started again. So, I’ll stick with horses and just do whatever strikes my fancy.

Since my other (horse art) mentor seems to have gone MIA and is no longer responding to my emails, I’ll be on my own for now. My hope is that once I’m painting regularly again, I can get back to working with the mentors - or mentor  - again.

Another project that I undertook was doing some much needed reorganizing in the studio precipitated by buying a bunch of cheap canvas boards and then needing a place to store them. The oil and acrylic painting supplies are now moved and consolidated together as are the pastel supplies. The cameras and their accessories are also now consolidated, and I managed to make room for them to be stored together in one place. I went through all the drawers of my big desk, got rid of some things and moved others around so that everything is in better order and more convenient.

Meanwhile, back at the barn as they say, there have been complications and continued issues with Scottie's soundness. To make a long story short, I am now saddle shopping again (Oh Joy!) but may have found one that fits Scottie and that is comfortable for me. The vet has been out a couple of times, and Scottie had an acupuncture treatment the last time. It really seems to have relieved his sore back which is reason for great celebration by both of us.

I’ve been so concerned about him and his depressed attitude that I also consulted with an animal communicator who was able to reach Scottie and ask him my long list of questions. It was very enlightening, and he told us that he’s having problems in his hock or stifle, so the vet is coming out again to explore that possible source of his continued lameness problems.

I’m really fascinated by this animal communication thing and would love to learn to communicate on my own.
 Apparently, it’s now widely accepted, and my own experience with it has made me into a believer.

Last weekend my husband John and I went for a drive and stopped at this longhorn cattle farm where some cows were eating breakfast right up by the fence. I’m sharing a couple of them with you here. I’m amazed by the varieties of colors and coat patterns on these longhorns and how they skillfully maneuver their horns so that they don’t poke each other.

The rest are photos of the view from our deck taken just this morning. The leaves are falling fast now, and it won’t be long before the trees are bare and snow is in the air.

Oh, dear! Did I just say that four letter word beginning with “S”?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Looking Beyond the Dog Days of Summer

 Gandalf, Norwegian Fjord stallion

Yesterday was quite busy in a good way. First off, I saw my chiropractor for the first time in two years. At her initial assessment, her comment was, “Oh dear!”, so I’ll be going back again regularly for a while.

After that I visited an old friend and longtime riding instructor at her farm. She breeds Norwegian Fjords among many other activities and accomplishments and has some really fine breeding stock. It was an opportunity to deliver in person the painting, “Man On A Mission” a painting of her Jack Russell terrier, Spinner.

In return, I got a tour of her barn and farm and was introduced to her horses: three mares, two foals and her stallion, Gandalf. Of course, I took lots of photos, a few of which I’m sharing with you here.
The lovely mare, Luna. Look at that nice hip!
 This little guy was a nibbler, but look at those lovely dark eyes. 

Later on, I went on a trail ride with my barn friend, Ann. As we came out of the woods at twilight, the light was hitting these weeds at just the right angle, causing them to glow with this soft mauve light. They were lovely!

Since Scottie is very sore again, the vet is coming out on Saturday, and my riding guru friend-of-many-talents will come out to do an assessment on both of us to see if she can pinpoint the source of our problems and get us on the right track for more comfortable riding for both of us.

Today I also made arrangements to meet again with my local mentor in hopes that he can help me to get back on track with my artwork.

Between the three: chiropractor, vet/guru and mentor; I hope to soon make progress with health, riding and art. It's cooled down enough now that one doesn't feel quite so much like a giant, sweating slug and can contemplate activities that involve actual body movement as opposed to quiet activities in front of a fan.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sketch Book Drawings - Page One

I’m going to be brief today because I need to get out for my walk and then into the studio.

But, I have another reason as well. Having spent the weekend in front of the computer going through my inbox and reading a backlog of artist blog posts, I’ve come to realize that people probably don’t read long winded blog posts. I know I skipped a lot of them because I simply didn’t want to take the time if the subject matter wasn’t absolutely riveting. Mostly, it wasn’t. So, here goes.

I’ve been reading a book called, The Van Gogh Blues by psychologist Eric Maisel. He specializes in working with creative people and has written a number of books for creatives. This book is helping me immensely in finding my way back into the studio by giving me many insights into my personal life and my life as a creative person. Turns out I’m not so unique in my struggles after all! His main point is that creative people are born questioning everything and therefore have difficulty finding meaning in their lives. Because of a lack of meaning in their lives, creative people are prone to depression which keeps them from being creative which causes deeper depression. So, the book is all about finding your own personal meaning and keeping depression at bay. I’m not sure that “meaning” is the word that I would have chosen. “Worth” or “value” come to my mind more than meaning, so I just substitute them in my mind as I read.

The book explains to me why I had such difficulty in high school algebra (or was it geometry?) understanding the difference between a hypothesis and a theorem. One is supposed to be a proven fact and the other is something to be proven. Poor old Miss Chipman was totally exasperated with me trying to explain the difference, and I was equally exasperated trying to grasp it. We never did come to an understanding.

But, I digress. As part of my “art therapy” if you can call it that, I’ve decided to do some daily sketching. Last night I did the sketches above of a Friesian colt. They are freehand sketches. That is, I pulled some standard photo prints out of a reference box and copied the photos as nearly as I could. As you can see, one effort was a total flop and had to be redone. The others are reasonably good. They are done with a ballpoint pen to prevent me from doing endless correcting so the false lines are still visible.  I think I draw more carefully if I know I can’t erase.

I’m also thinking of instituting an art challenge on my blog which would involve “audience  participation”. I have to ruminate on that one a bit more, so stay tuned for more info.

And, stay tuned for more sketches from the sketchbook!

PS I've just noticed that I have some new followers! Welcome all!  Thank you for joining me. I hope you find my posts just a little bit riveting.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Little Painting; A Little Riding

"Yuri" Oil on canvas board

When I walked into the studio to work on the German Shepherd painting yesterday, I walked through a cobweb. That was really odd because I’m in and out of that room at least a few times a day, and it was late in the day. Perhaps someone or something is trying to tell me something?

At any rate, I worked on Yuri and gave him a nicer background but was disappointed to find that the black areas had flattened out as they dried. I’ll have to go back in and liven them up again on the final passage. Some dry brushing with some darker “black” should do the trick as well as some tidying up here and there. The painting is in danger of being overworked if it isn’t already, so I must not labor over it too much more.

I try not to use black from the tube in my paintings and have found that a mixture of French Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna give a good black that can be tilted to either the warm (brown) or cool (blue) side. There are numerous ways to make a good vibrant black, and this is just one formula.

The Green Team will have to be next on the easel since someone is waiting for it to be finished and may buy it. I’ll have to sit in front of it for a while to let it tell me what it needs.

We didn’t ride on Monday night because it was too hot and humid, but we had a really nice ride on Thursday. I took along my new small digital camera and managed to get some decent shots as we rode along. One of my companions took the camera and took some shots of me riding at the end, and she got some good ones! Thanks Anne!

The big problem I have with taking photos while riding is that Scottie absolutely refuses to stand still if the other horses are moving. So, I get a lot of blurry shots. He hates being left behind even though he usually likes to dawdle in last place until we turn for home. As we say on the trail, the first horse gets all the cobwebs and bugs! Note our stylish  bug bonnets on the horses.

This camera is a Canon G ll, one of the few small digitals that still has a viewfinder. It had good reviews on the Canon site and on Amazon  and is just the right size to take on trail rides and for leaving in my car while I tootle about. I don’t dare do that with my expensive slr, and this one has a lot of the same features as the big slrs do. It even does video! I have a lot to learn to use it to its capacity, but so far I’ve been quite pleased with it. I took back the first one because I just couldn’t deal with not having a viewfinder and not being able to see what I was shooting on the LCD screen in sunlight.

We had an easy ride Thursday because Stutz has been lame again and Scottie seemed a bit off when we started out. However, he trucked right to the front this time because we didn’t go down the steep hill this time but went down the gentle hill instead past the chickens on our way out. Thankfully, they weren’t out by the road. We stuck mostly to the sand trails and had a most pleasant ride. It had cooled off considerably, and the bugs weren’t bad.

Here we are about to leave the barn.

Partway through the ride.

This is Scottie and I. I have a Michigan shirt on. Go Blue!!

Isn’t this a gorgeous shot? It was getting dark as we headed back to the barn. This is also about where I was unhorsed a month ago.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Creation and Destruction

For the first time in many weeks I was able to drag myself into the studio and work on a painting yesterday. It shouldn’t be that hard to get myself in there, but somehow it always is unless I’m already immersed in a new painting. Just like going to the barn, I procrastinate and find more urgent things to do but always enjoy myself once I’m there. But, that’s a topic for another day.

I’ve had an inquiry about the Belgian painting and need to get it finished, but I also need to warm up for it by working on less crucial works. So, I decided to take one of my more successful quickie paintings from last winter and rework it to more completion. This, you may remember, is Yuri the German Shepherd who lives at the barn where I board my horse. 

The basic painting was okay, but I never liked the background. The dog needed more finishing as well, giving him more depth and a hair coat. After about four more hours of painting on this little 8x10 inch canvas board, this is what I came up with (Above). It still needs work, namely a toned down background and a few corrections here and there, but those will have to wait until it’s dry again.

Here are the two versions together so that you can see the difference.

On the other end of the creative spectrum, I made the big decision to destroy a few of my less successful works. Some had been hanging around for years with no one expressing any interest in them, and others were works that were just not very good. This may seem like a really drastic step to take, but I found it incredibly freeing. For one thing, I no longer have to look at these failures and wonder what on earth I’m going to do with them for the rest of eternity. For another, it frees up storage space for new works of art. And thirdly I don’t have reminders hanging around of my current failures or of how less skilled I was in the past.

Now, mind you, there are still a few older paintings hanging around that I will keep for a while longer because they represent milestones in my artistic advancement.

Yesterday I visited my hairdresser who also happens to be a neighbor and friend. She clued me in on why none of the neighbors visited during the studio tour. It seems that my own sign which I put out two days ahead of the event gave them the impression that I was going to have regular Sunday open studio hours from now on, and they planned to visit on another Sunday. None of them were aware of the studio tour, which is a good indication that advertising for the event needs to be improved next year.

It was nice to find out that my neighbors weren’t ignoring me after all and is incentive to do something on my own this fall. Now I can look forward to that and concentrate on getting new paintings done.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My First Ever Studio Tour!

Gosh, where shall I begin? It’s been almost a month since I last posted and a week has passed since the studio tour. I guess the tour is as good a place to start as any.

Last Sunday I was part of a studio tour put on by Parkside Arts Council which featured the studios of Antrim County artists. It was the first annual event, so one could expect problems, and there were a few of those.

I spent most of my time leading up to the tour with finishing the flower beds so that the yard would look nice and cleaning the house. I never did get a chance to work on any art for the event, but now the flower beds are all set for the really hot weather which we’re bound to get now.

In the last few days there was a frenzy of printing reproductions, framing paintings and putting together packs of notecards. We did the setup the day before, and I think it turned out quite well. I had to haul a lot of clutter out of the library, which is adjacent to the studio, to make room to display art, and that resulted in a nice open display area where people could linger over the art.

We didn’t have a very big turnout (maps to the studios needed improvement), and my biggest disappointment was that none of my neighbors came. But I still enjoyed meeting the visitors and telling them a bit about myself and my working process. I didn’t sell anything, but now more people know of my existence and will hopefully spread the word. I would definitely like to do this again!

Here are some of the photos I took of my studio and the tour setup.

Our house is a split level, and this is the entryway. My studio is upstairs, so we blocked off the downstairs with a display wall. All of the art on this wall was not for sale.

This is the library (because it's full of books and sounds high falutin') Both framed prints and originals are hung on the display panels with more in the print rack. On top of the flat files were cookies and apples for snacks. The cookies were popular. On the coffee table I had copies of a book I illustrated and the Mural Mosaic book from the mural project that I participated in two years ago.

This is my small card rack. I also had business cards here. The painting on the wall is a pastel I did many years ago of my kids when they were small.

Here are three originals hanging on the wall of the library.

This is my working space in the studio. When I work, the easel is pulled more perpendicular to the window. It faces north so has excellent light. I put a dried up palette on the easel and had some brushes laid out on the taboret. The reference photo and a color study are propped up on the big taboret.

It was hot and muggy the day of the tour, so I turned off the lights in between visitors. The studio can get very hot with three banks of fluorescent lights on the ceiling.

My drawing table is folded up against this wall of the studio. I love that table! The white taboret next to it holds drawing supplies and utensils. The blue taboret holds painting supplies. The boxes above the TV are full of reference photos, and I hang paintings to dry on the pegboard or store them there until framed.

This is my desk. It's usually covered with piles of paper. For the tour, I cleared it off a little and put two open anatomy books on it. I sometimes use anatomy books as I paint or draw, and I wanted to show that. The two drawer units were bought used. They're very deep, and half of the top lifts up to get at the contents more easily. Of course, usually there's too much stuff on the desk to take advantage of that! I have drawing boards and table easels stashed in the space between the desk and the wall. That big white board is the original one that came with my drawing table. We put a smaller one on it since I didn't need all that space and it would have crowded the studio too much. It's also very heavy!

This may be one of the neatest parts of my studio! My husband built these shelves into this nook in the wall. The vertical shelves hold matboard, large canvases, illustration board and old unframed paintings. The horizontal ones have more canvases on them, glass, drawing pads and other odds and ends. I also store works in progress here - the dry ones like drawings and pastels - where they're protected. At the other end of this wall is another nook with built in shelves. I keep framed paintings and prints there and other art and non art stuff. Behind the door is a closet for more art storage. My french easel and photography lights are in here along with empty frames, painting supplies, mannikins, portfolios and lots of other stuff. 

Over the years the studio has developed into a very functional area although it's not that large. The window looks out on our lake, and the room is pleasant to work in at any time of year; day or night. It's too crowded to have both the easel in its working spot and the drawing table set up, but I rarely need to do that anyway.

I had lots of compliments on my studio space from the artists who visited during the tour. Of course they complimented the artwork too! I'm ready for my next open studio event. Perhaps this fall during the color season?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Whoa, D@#* It!"

Speaking of wild rides, I had one last Thursday night that could have ended in disaster.

The trail ride didn’t start out well from the beginning. Scottie just wouldn’t stand still while I got both feet in the stirrups (my right ankle is partially frozen, and it’s difficult to catch that right stirrup). He just wasn’t listening to me, and I admit to shouting a few angry words to him like “Whoa, Dammit!” You know the feeling,  right? It’s hard to be horse whisperers at times like that. 

As usual, everyone else was waiting outside the barn for us, and I guess he was eager to join them.

The weather was perfect for a trail ride with temps in the low 70’s and a nice breeze blowing. All of the horses were feeling particularly frisky including Bard (remember the Peppermint Kid?), and we did a lot of trotting and cantering as we made the big loop back to the barn. We even practiced puddle walking with Scottie showing the other horses that puddles don’t swallow horses. This is a new fear he’s overcome this year, and I’m very proud of him.

We were riding up a sand road about a mile and a half from the barn, and all the horses were eager to get home. Ann and Carolyn had trotted on ahead while I waited for Bard and Anne to catch up. Scottie broke into a trot, then a canter and then a gallop to catch up. Then it happened. He stumbled and threw me off balance to the left. With every stride I went further sideways, but Scottie kept going. I grabbed for his neck but couldn’t reach it, and then the inevitable happened. I fell off. As I was coming down in front of him, I wondered if Scottie would step on me (he didn’t), and then I hit the ground, flat on my back, and my head hit pretty hard, and I slid in the grass for a little ways. Briefly I felt like I might pass out. The feeling passed, and then I lay there to do the post-fall assessment. Do I hurt anywhere? Is anything broken? Can I move? Can I stand up?

As I was staggering to my feet I heard Carolyn and Ann yelling at Scottie who had abandoned me and was heading for home. Then Carolyn and Anne both rushed up from different directions asking if I was okay. I was unhurt except for small cuts from my glasses that the helmet made as it pushed forward on my head. To my amazement, I had no soreness anywhere; not even a headache, although I was a bit unsteady on my feet.

The three of us walked toward home until Ann came back with Scottie in hand. He had stopped to graze. My feelings at that point were anger at myself for falling off and anger at Scottie for abandoning me. I asked him how he could possibly do that to me, but he didn’t have anything to say for himself; just acted oblivious to any wrongdoing on his part. He seemed to be wondering, “what’s all this fuss about?”.

I spotted a big downed tree on the edge of the woods and managed to clamber ungracefully up on it. From there I was able to remount, and we walked back home with no further incident. No way was I going to let Scottie get away with dumping his rider and going home! No way was I going to allow myself time to develop a fear of riding on the  trails again.

When we got back, I had Scott canter both directions in the arena before dismounting. I needed to do that for myself. Once in the cross ties, he hung his head and seemed to have figured out that he’d done something wrong. I sponged him off, turned him out and went home, still feeling no pain anywhere and feeling very lucky.

I WAS very lucky! I was wearing my riding helmet. If I hadn’t been, there’s no doubt I would have been knocked unconscious at the very least. I think this incident scared my riding pals more than it did me. They were wonderful to me, making sure I was all right and reassuring me that “we’ve all been there”. I’m very grateful to them.

I hope this incident will cause them to consider wearing riding helmets themselves from now on because you never know what might happen, no matter how well trained and quiet your horse is. This happened because Scottie stumbled; not because he ran away with me or bucked me off or spooked at a deer.

Tomorrow he and I will have a long talk before the trail ride. I’ll apologize for getting short with him and ask him to please take better care of both of us. And I will do the same by not allowing him to tire himself out too much.

Meanwhile, back in the garden, I’ve been busy mulching all of the flower beds, and do they ever look nice! There is just a little more to do and the job will be done. Below I’m sharing some photos of the new and old beds and plants. They don’t look like much this year, but by next year they should be wonderful! By then those lopsided shrubs will be properly pruned and tamed, too.
 Here is the new flower bed area; from the near shrub to the corner of the fence.

Where the yellow flags are is where the old driveway was. This area hasn't been mulched yet. Eventually, we'll put a tree ring around the maple; this summer, I hope.

 One of my new plants, a yellow Shasta Daisy.

The view from the road of the new flower bed area.

Red Volunteer Daylily. First bloom this year.

Spirea, foxglove and garden wagon.

Those lovely Asiatic lilies again next to my Annabelle hydrangea. Everything is blooming early this year because of the early heat we've had and the abundant rain lately.

This lime green shrub looks very pretty against the old garage wall. Those are Blue Star junipers on either side.