In the Garden (5/31)

Hard to believe it’s the end of May!  But things are going as expected in the garden with seeds coming up here and there and plants continuing to mature.  I don’t know why I find this all surprising, but I do.  I suppose that is the plight of a new-to-veggies gardener…. a lack of faith.  But with every seed that’s up and every flower that forms, I’m more and more of a believer.


Tourist in my own town

Last week saw the start of preparatory classes for the Taos trip.  The first class was, as always, wonder-full!!  We spent time pouring over tons of books, both the lovely published kind that showcase the art of keeping an illuminated journal, and, the messier ones that I bring to the table, equally as beautiful in their ability to display both my sketches as well as stuff like to-do lists.

Students did a series of collages as a warm up for what they will do with the covers of their sketchbooks.  I was excited to share with them my new book from collage artist Randel Plowman, from whom I learned this quick and dirty, small scale collage exercise.

It was fun to see each other’s work after this exercise.  Already, students can see for themselves the distinct visual voices they each bring to the table.  This is what art is all about.  Another way to document our lives and communicate our truth.  (and, just to note here, I was not texting on my phone.  I was cueing up the Beatles.  A shout out to my trusty right-hand gal, Julie, for some of these snap shots!)

The rest of the class was spent beginning a relationship with our books.  This is done with a collage on the cover and perhaps a meaningful quote inside to set the tone and intention for how we approach life with a sketchbook.  Especially, a travel experience!! And what better way to write out a quote than with an old Royal typewriter??

With life being what it is, work, kids and their schedules, gardens etc, we don’t often take the time to explore our own city of Cincinnati through the lens of a tourist.  When I head to the Over the Rhine area (i.e. OTR) I’m usually headed to a meeting at the Art Academy or to teach.  But this weekend, some dear friends came to visit from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and we took a rather gastronomical approach to touring the city.  Along with some time at Findlay Market, dinner at the Senate, Jazz at the Blue Wisp, we treated ourselves to a tour of the historic brewery district in OTR.  Beer and the making of it are wrapped up in the history of Cincinnati and it was fascinating to walk around and imagine what life must’ve been like when German beer was the center of commerce down in Over the Rhine.  Urban archeology is a fascinating thing, and that’s essentially what this tour was all about.  We walked through dilapidated buildings and old underground lager tunnels.  The weather this weekend was brutally hot, in the 90’s and humid, but we managed to find shady spots along the way where we learned about the history of brewing in Cincinnati.  And the lager tunnels, being carved by hand into the steep hillsides, were a huge treat, as they were quite cool!

These are hops, actually growing up a wire alongside a row home so typical to Over the Rhine.

In spite of these buildings being mostly abandoned for many years, they are filled with signs of old times and history.

In the upper floors, the brewing process would start and work it’s way down to eventual storage in the cellars.

We could feel the cool air coming out of the cellars in the hillside, much like a true cave!!

The cellars were filled with all kinds of shafts that let out carbon dioxide back in the day.  These places were creepy enough to be a film set!!!  But we didn’t want to leave again into the heat!!

After our tour, we were able to enjoy a crafted brew which did hit the spot in the heat of the day.  And we continued our tour of Cincinnati later in the evening with live bluegrass music at the Comet.  A few of these guys play at a bluegrass jam session on mondays and my son Jack has sat in with his mandolin on occasion.  It was great to listen to these fantastic musicians and to continue our visit with friends.

It has been a wonderful weekend.  Full of friendship (they brought us some new bits of pottery!), and the gift of down time to enjoy this amazing city we live in.  I am grateful for it.  Being Memorial Day weekend, we did allow time for remembering those we’ve lost, which is always important.  A nice balance between somber memorial and soaking in the gifts we have in front of us this very moment.  The gifts of friendship, time, a sense of place and of right work.  May these gifts shine in your life as this summer unfolds…..

Burst of fun

It’s such a fun time of year.  With end of year concerts, preps for summer adventures and of course the garden.  In between the usual stuff, this spring has some extra fun tidbits that I want to share here.  First, meet Mrs. Merryweather Morrigan….

She is a pigeon from the fun folks at 16 Sparrows who are all about letter writing and getting ‘real’ mail in the mail box.  My pigeon, Mrs. Morrigan, will be jumping into a blue post box some time today and beginning her trek to her recipient, whom I think will care for her and send her on again, perhaps eventually back to me here.  We shall see.  What I love about this project is how quirky it is.  I can just imagine the folks at the post office going, ‘What the….?’  Oh, to be a fly on the wall.  Apparently the pigeon fits into the rules that apply to things being mailed in the mail…. Best of luck on your journey, Mrs. Morrigan…..

This past weekend was the OTR street festival and road race located in Cincinnati’s historic Over The Rhine area.  The artists, vendors and runners were blessed with a beautiful day.  The Young Lions from the Blue Wisp (including my very own Jack) played down there before their Wisp gig later in the evening.  We had an afternoon bite at the Senate restaurant, which never disappoints,  after a bit of shopping at the various vendors…

Here are some earrings I got from vendor Lizz Godfroy at Lily in Flux.  These are just this side of creepy beautiful and appeal to my puppetry sense.  I <3 them.

And while I’m on the topic of baubles I love, get a load of this little handmade glass bead that my dear friend, co-worker, fellow mama, fellow artist and musician and all around beautiful spirit Jeni got for me…

Yes, it’s a chicken.  To celebrate the new chicken ordinance of which I have been in such favor recently.  🙂

And now, onto this week’s In The Garden post:

I re-planted a few succulents in a pot that was a handmade gift a couple of years ago.  It’s plants had gotten kind of leggy and weird so I added a few and tidied it up a bit.  It’s now in the one sunny spot in our yard.  The front stoop.

But most of my energy has been up at the Amberley Green Community Garden this week.  Our official frost date has passed and we were able to finally get some plants in!!!!

So we mixed compost into the soil, tilling this way and that.

And we plopped in little seeds and seedlings and tucked them in with some leaf mulch to help them hold their moisture under the hot (really hot) sun.


All weekend long, people came and went.  We shared plants and seeds and tools and advice for the various plants we have had as friends over the years, introducing ourselves to new plant and people friends along the way.

And when we got too hot from working, we rested in the new picnic and bench area built by a local Eagle Scout.

And at the end of a long day in the sun,

Some of us took notes in our journals to keep track of all the plans we’ve made…

And even as storms threatened in the west, Iris and I took a walk at dusk and celebrated the first siting of the summer magic of fireflies.  Around here we call ’em lightning bugs.  How is your spring shaping up?  What have you planted in the ground?   Do you have lightning bugs where you live?




Much Ado (In The Garden… and etc)

There’s quite a bit to report here at Chez Bogard.  First off, as it is Tuesday, I’ll start with what’s up In The Garden.  The biggest news by far is that just yesterday evening at an  unnecessarily dramatic Amberley Village Council meeting, a new ordinance was (finally!!) passed that officially permits the keeping of backyard chickens in the village.  A few people had chickens already as the law was vague and stated ‘no farm animals’, listing other animals by name…. but not chickens.  So they’ve legally been flying under the radar for some time now.  But there was a need for clarity and boundaries in this matter as more and more young families are moving into the village and keeping chickens is quite in vogue these days.  In spite of a few rather stressed out folks crying ‘fowl’ and fear mongering, there was overwhelming support for the new ordinance and chickens are now welcome in the village.  I am already plotting my coop plans…. (the above photo is from the AWESOME website, Backyard Chickens .com.  You know where I’ll be lurking in my virtual free-time!!)  I’m thinking a ‘green’ rooftop for our coop….

Next In The Garden is more news on the Amberley Community Garden.  The deer fence is in place.

And we have begun digging in our little plots, making room for plants.  My plot-neighbor and new friend Natalie Wolf  and I are going to do one more good tilling before planting (technically today is the final frost date so although I feel a little behind, I’m really not… I hope!)  The other day I pulled out the grassy clumps that were trying to re-root themselves and I added some Posey Power in to enhance the soil a bit since this is a new garden.  My puppet boss, Kevin has given me a few tomato seedlings, and I plan to get a few more from a fellow coffee hound up at Pleasant Perk.  And I have seeds. These I purchased at our local Civic Garden Center, and a few, Hollyhocks actually, are a gift from Rachel over at 6512 and Growing.  (One of my favorite blogs to visit, as I have said time and time again.)  Soon my little plot will hopefully be growing with good things to eat….

It’s been a funny thing all this garden and chicken related hubbub.  All I really wanted was to have a few chickens for eggs and to grow some stuff to eat.  I like being outside.  I like the idea of eating food that came from a little plot of earth that I have worked with my own hands.  But along with these things has come an unexpected benefit and that’s a sense of community here in our little village.  I’ve made some friends through this process of law changes and garden building.  I feel more tapped into what’s actually happening in my neighborhood.  I feel a little more rooted here than I ever have.  Large, woodsy lots and quiet older neighbors can make for a sense of isolation, which is not a bad thing.  In fact, the quietude is why we moved here.  Quietude and green space for two people who spend a lot of their working hours at home.  But with the chicken drama and the availability of a community veggie plot, I feel my relationship with this village is balancing out to one steeped in community.  And I like this a lot.  As much as this gypsy soul loves to roam, I am so glad to be feeling rooted in place more than I ever have.

This last week hasn’t been all spent digging in the garden.  I’ve also managed a few things in studio.  I created a design for my dear friend and awesome singer-songwriter Kim Taylor  to use on a new t-shirt.  I’ll let you know when they are available for sale.  Kim is in the process of making a new album which is very much like birth.  More news on that as it progresses!!

Even though I have jobs to attend to, kids to look after, gardens to tend and chickens to advocate for, I’ve been trying to spend as much time as possible keeping my art pump primed.  A month from today I leave for Taos, NM to teach the travel journaling workshop and to film my segment of the Eco-Chic Retreat project.  I know I can’t do this off the cuff.  I need to be working in my own sketch-journal in a rich way in order to guide others on their journey into their books.  Last year was my first time teaching an intensive, site-specific workshop and I was bowled over by how intense it was.  As prepared as I was, I hope to be even more so this year so that the teaching process doesn’t wear me down to a nub as it did last year.  I am so excited to get to know this new group.  we start lead up classes next week to begin prepping blank books and getting to know our watercolors and such.  It’s going to be a rich next couple of months.

I will leave you today with an image of a little painting I did the other day.  It’s oil on panel, inspired by an image of a storm rolling into Dublin Bay.  For someone not used to oil paints, I surprised myself with this one.  It’s a nice little painting.  And sometimes, to make a nice little painting is just enough to set the day right.

In The Garden : drip

It’s been a fruitful spring thus far in the form of flowering trees and spring perennials.  But like a mama at the end of her term, I am waiting, waiting, waiting in the veggie department…  for the Amberley Green fence to get built.  For our long awaited May 15 frost date to pass.  And for it to maybe stop raining long enough to dig in the dirt a bit…


This soft rain I don’t mind. It’s quite lovely actually. But we’ve also seen some serious storms come our way, as they are wont to do this time of year. I spent a night last week over at my mom’s, at the ready in case we needed to make a quick escape in the middle of the night due to flash flooding.

Needless to say, flooding, tornados and the like make this a nerve-wracking time of year. But I know that in a matter of weeks the weather will level out and it will be time to plant. Which means I’d better get me some graph paper and figure out what’s going in the garden!!

Riley School Saturday

As most of my long time readers know, Saturdays are sacred.  We spend them, mornings at least, and often early afternoons, attending music classes (sometimes teaching), gathering for lunch and performance time over home-made soup and band time practice – either ceili band, kids band, or slow-jam band.  It is a sort of weekly cultural church of sorts where those of us of the Church of Irish Traditional Music (I use the word Church here loosely, with no intended offense to those who attend actual Church) come together to share our love of this Great Gift of Music.

Today wasn’t much different.  We gathered for classes.

We had soup.

We admired new paintings by our more artistic community members…

And we danced in our rainy day puddle boots to the music of our esteemed lunch time musical guests…

Our guests this day were none other than Randal Bays and Davey Mathias who treated us to new ways of thinking of all things musical and some new tunes too.  But in the end, and the reason we like this music in the first place, was one of our own fiddlers, Justin Bridges, teaming up with our esteemed guests, and having a tune…

It was a good day indeed.  Safe travels to our musical guests and best wishes, GodSpeed and all that, to the many marathon runners who are here in our fair city to run the Big Race tomorrow morning. (Yes that’s you, our Chicago Mike!!)



To see a flower

No one sees a flower, really – it is so small – we haven’t time, and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”  ~Georgia O’Keefe

For the awakened eye no thing remains a mere thing. It reveals itself to be, instead of an object, an EVENT in the timeless abyss of time, an event of unfathomable meaning that happens to take place more or less simultaneously with the event I call ‘Me’.”  ~Frederick Franck

vicarious farming (and this week’s In The Garden)

It’s no secret that I love animals.  I’ve always had many pets and drawing them has been a way of understanding them better.  Studying how they are built and how they move helps me to see them more clearly.  This ideally and eventually leads to better drawings.  I’ve always had a somewhat romantic notion of what it would be like to have a small farm with a few sheep, some chickens, maybe some ducks and a pony…. but I am enough of a realist still to know that this not in the cards for me, at least not right now in my life.  That doesn’t stop me from admiring farmers and their farms, reading books about far flung farms both current and in the past and finding farmy animals to doodle when I have the chance.

Last summer during our regular trek to Maine, we discovered a little farm stand in the Lakes region we go to belonging to Winterberry Farm.  This farm, and it’s farm stand is run by a woman named Mary Perry and her 3 kids.  It’s tremendously beautiful and lovingly cared for.  We went there almost everyday to get our greens for the day, to buy a pie and to stock up on jams and honey to bring back to Ohio when it was time to leave.  Winterberry was simply enchanting and it’s recently been in the news up in Maine for Mary’s work in preserving her farm as farm land forever.  You can read about that process here.  I am looking forward to going back to Winterberry to spend more time and do more drawings this summer…

In lieu of a true ‘farm’ to call my own, I’m instead focusing on the patch of green we are fortunate to have here and learning about how to best care for it.   This week In The Garden, I’m trying to figure out what to grow in my little plot up at the community garden.  What makes a perfect veggie garden?  What are the best things to grow in order to eat them all winter long.  I’ve never preserved food in any tangible way beyond freezing it and this shall be the year to learn.  I have a few blogs that I read as beacon’s on my gardening journey.  My favorite is 6512 and Growing.  Rachel’s sense of humor combined with her knowledge of all things earthy make growing a garden and enjoying what you grow seem totally doable.  What are your veggie garden favorites?

While the sunshine warms the plots up the road at Amberley Green, things here in our little gully get shadier and shadier.  It’s a juicy time of year when you can just about drink the air.  That’s not likely to change again til maybe September.  Ya gotta love some Ohio River Valley humidity.  A dear friend originally from Ohio but now living in Denver came back for a visit recently and remarked that she’s like a raisin who plumps back into a grape when she’s back in Ohio.  The moisture here is really wonderful…. until it’s in the 90’s…..

I have a few new gifts in the garden thanks to a friend of mine who’s garden is well tended and bursting with extras.  Some Solomon’s Seal.  And a couple of Jack-In-The-Pulpits to hide in and among the crazy big ferns.

This week I attended a composting presentation held at a local park.  We got a new compost bucket for the kitchen and a sweet magnet for the car.  I didn’t learn anything that I didn’t already know, but was inspired to ramp up compost production a little bit by perhaps making a second pile and turning it a little more often.  With the new veggies to feed, I will be needing it!

We have tons of critters that share our green space.  There is the endless parade of deer who like to eat anything we plant which I find really annoying.  But then there are these little wild rabbits who are very brave and seem to really like the dandelion stalks.  This I like.  Chomp away little bunny friends!!

Some of these little guys come close enough to the house for me to get a peek for a minute to make some sketches…. until they spot me and take off running.

Thank goodness for cameras to capture source photos….. I’ll leave you with a little drawing….

How are things in your little green space?