Well, it’s been kind of laid back here this past week, as we’ve just been hanging out around the house while mostly painting, and we’ve enjoyed our bike rides almost daily as well. The most exciting happening during the past week, was our neighborhood Memorial Day party last Monday. We all met at the city park located near our neighborhood, about 1 PM. Everyone brought lots of yummy food, with the highlight being the homemade vanilla and strawberry ice cream that the Hedricks, who own the Highland Manor Inn at the bottom of our mountain, graciously brought once again this year! It went perfectly with the delicious birthday cake our neighbor Lorraine, made for her husband Ron’s birthday and I decorated it for her. I had lots of fun decorating it in a festive red icing and wrote Happy Birthday really big, and Ron really small, just to be a bit aggravating . . . but hey, what can one expect for free services . . . Ha! Anyway, we all had a great time filled with lots of laughing and conversation, and of course eating!
Wes has been working in the garden daily, and we’re delighted to see things finally starting to grow! The Mulberry tree is full of berries as well, with many now getting good and ripe. So as you can imagine, I’ve spent quite a bit of time out picking berries up off of the ground, which my critter friends graciously knock down for me. I’ve also been dragging out a step stool and standing on it to pick the ripe berries which I can reach. Now that even more of them are getting ripe, next I plan to drag the ladder out, and climb up into the tree, while eating as many of those delectable little berries that I can reach! I love sitting on the back porch and watching the squirrels climbing, swinging and jumping their way around the tree, while searching for and eating the berries. They put on a far better show than a three-ring circus! The birds love it just as much as if not more than the squirrels, and easily fly about the tree eating their share too. While I was sitting out on the porch last evening enjoying this show, Tinymouse, my little Tufted Titmouse friend, came and sat on my head for a bit, while redoing my hair-do! That’s always a treat, although my hair style doesn’t think so as much. . . Ha!
We also enjoyed a fun evening this past week while playing Mexican Train dominoes at our friends, Fred and Barb’s house, along with our other friend Sammie. We all did more laughing than anything, which is the usual with that group! We also enjoyed eating Fred’s beautiful and delicious lime and lemon cake . . . Mmmmmm! Barb is presently in a cast, as she broke her foot a few weeks ago now. Before that she broke her arm, so she has to be moved around outside in a wheelchair, and Wes loves pushing her fast, making her do wheelies, go down the stairs backwards and other adventurous wheel chair stunts which I think Barb is not as fond of, but gives the rest of us a bunch of laughs!
Fresh off the easel ~ I finished my miniature still life painting of my Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls, which my granny sweetly had made for me when I was a little girl. As you can imagine they’re quite special to me, and so they made for a fun painting! Also this past week, Wes finished his painting of a Side-Blotched Lizard.
The past week has proved to be quite interesting! Tinymouse, one of our little resident Tufted Titmice, which surprisingly landed on my head one evening last week, has done so numerous times again, mainly when I’m sitting on the backporch eating breakfast or supper, and even while I have been walking around in the backyard, and working on my flowers! She obviously wants to add a bit of my curls to her nest, and works diligently at times trying to gather a beak full, while at other times, she simply sits on my shoulder. Needless to say, I definitely have a new hairstylist! Such delight she brings me each time we have this amazing encounter! One evening this past week, at one point during a meal, while Tinymouse was sitting atop my head, Peedeepeeps, my Carolina Wren friend, had sauntered up to my dinner plate to check out my pasta noodles, and looked up at me as if to say . . . “Is this all you have to offer me?” I felt like I was Snow White, and as if I were living in a fairytale at that moment!
Almost daily I have been able to scrounge up enough mealworms to give Peedeepeeps, to feed his precious babies. One evening, I sat on the steps leading from the back deck, while Peedeepeeps came and got two at a time from my hand and flew nearby to where his babies were and would feed them. Each time I could hear the tweets of delight as he stuffed the little hungry beaks with the worms! Then he would quickly fly back and sit by me as he patiently, and sometimes not so patiently, waited for me to sift through the cornmeal and find more worms. This went on for quite sometime, until the worm population had greatly decreased! Other evenings he even brought them up onto the back porch, and we would carry out this same activity, with me finding worms and giving them to him, then with him flying directly over to feed the hungry little ones. What a great experience and treat for me to help be able to feed these little ones!
There has been a force of destruction slowly making its way around Townsend the past two months, and unfortunately it came up into our neighborhood this past week. I call it “The East Tennessee Chainsaw Massacre!” . . . compliments of our local power companies! Many of our neighbors spent hours pleading and arguing their cases to try and save their beloved trees, or at least part of them! We were able to save at least one small lower limb on our beautiful Ornamental Cherry Tree, although every limb from that point up was taken off to the trunk on the one side. However, I’m afraid our poor neighbors across the street fared the worst out of the neighborhood, as I believe the man in the bucket, with the saw, had a fit of rage there and sawed everything in sight way back from the power line, including a three-foot tall native Dogwood Tree, which the power company had given them two years prior to plant there! The uncanny thing is that that very morning, Wes hung my new garden flag which features Winnie-the-pooh and Tigger on it and reads “Trees are my friends!” Now I’m searching for another flag which reads “Most of my friends are now gone or maimed!” I do believe the saddest loss, was a neighbor’s three-foot native Mountain Laurel, at which we all enjoyed admiring its dainty blooms each spring, which they cut to the ground! Oh well . . . something’s are just out of our hands I suppose.
This past Friday evening, Wes and I enjoyed attending a concert by the Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra at the beautiful Theater in the Park, along the Maryville Greenbelt. It was a lovely and chilly evening as we sat under blankets while enjoying the beautiful and soothing melodious tunes pouring from the amphitheater. The evening concert started off with the lovely sounds of Giachini Rossini’s “La Gazza Ladra Overture”. Baby Starlings were in a nest, which was located in the top of the amphitheater, and each time a parent would return with a tasty morsel with which to fill their open beaks, they would sing out in excited tweets, which the sound system then picked up and played loudly along with the music! The best part was that they almost seemed to time it as if adding their own musical touch to the performance! A couple of songs later, one of my favorites, the upbeat tempo of Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer” was played. The fun and delightful tune of Leory Anderson’s “Syncopated Clock’ and “Home Stretch” were then enjoyed and brought the crowd to life! In the second part, a melody form “Les Miserables” as well as selection from “Titanic” filled the night air, and seemed to slowly melt there before completely drifting away. At this point, the Chimney Swifts came out and filled the late evening sky above as they swirled around and around, performing a most graceful aeronautical ballet, while catching insects and filling the air with their own beautiful tunes! It was a most beautiful evening and another great memory!
Currently On Our Easels: I am working on a mother and calf cow for Trailside Galleries Invitational Miniature Show and Wes is painting a swan.
We were delighted this morning to receive the news that we each had a painting juried into the 53rd Annual Art & the Animal Exhibition of the Society of Animal Artists! My “Birds And Art” and Wes’ “Going, Going … Gone!”will join the rest of the world-class wildlife art to premiere at the Bennington Center for the Arts in Bennington, VT. We’re very much looking forward to being back in Vermont in the fall to enjoy the stunning fall colors!
Watch the one-minute demonstration video for how Wes painted this painting!
Wow . . . three exciting things happened this past week! Wes’ parents came to visit . . . Peedeepeeps ate meal worms from my hand, and Tinymouse the Titmouse, landed and sat on my head!!! As you can imagine, it was an exciting and fun filled week! Wes’ parents arrived a week ago today, and were welcomed by beautiful sunny skies above and pleasant spring weather. We enjoyed eating a dinner of my homemade spaghetti on our back porch. The dinner show for the evening consisted of my beloved Carolina Wren, Peedeepeeps, coming to eat mealworms out of my hand at the table! He and his mate, Elvira, were, and still are, feeding at least three babies. Needless to say, everyone thoroughly enjoyed the show!
Monday was spent in town getting groceries and picnic supplies for the week ahead. We also enjoyed a delicious lunch at our favorite Thai restaurant, Lemon Grass, and went to MacKay’s, my favorite used book and CD store, where I added to my growing Bossa Nova Jazz and classical music collection! Tuesday we enjoyed a picnic lunch, albeit a cold one, at the beautiful Metcalf Bottoms picnic area in the Smoky Mountain National Park. From there we ventured to the Sugarlands Visitor Center near Gatlinburg, and enjoyed seeing the newly remodeled display of animals and flora and fauna from the Smokies. The remainder of the afternoon was spent walking the trail, which starts near the entrance to Gatlinburg. It was a lovely walk with lots of wildflowers blooming alongside the meandering path. The highlights of this trail, other than the beautiful river which leads beside it, are the remains of old homesteads, which still stand in several places. One can almost hear the voices of the families who once inhabited these places, when you stand quietly and listen.
Leaving there, we drove through the Park a ways before reaching the Elkmont area, where we walked along the Little River Trail for a couple of hours. There were even more wildflowers blooming beautifully along this lush walk, including several nice groups of Showy Orchids, which I always enjoy seeing! Once again the numerous patches of lush, bright green moss beckoned to be patted, as it looked so soft and thick! It was a relaxing walk as we went along taking photos of wildflowers and patting moss, with the sounds of the stream and various bird songs in the background. After sometime, we turned around and made our way back down the trail, at times seeing new wildflower blossoms that we had somehow missed on the way up. That evening we enjoyed a delicious supper at No Way Jose’s in Gatlinburg, a festive Mexican restaurant situated right along the river, and we got a window seat so we could watch the Mallards occasionally swim by.
Wednesday it was quite breezy, so we opted to eat our daily picnic on the backporch with my feathered friends. Afterwards, we enjoyed a drive into Cades Cove, where we saw lots of White-tailed Deer and turkey in the open fields, and at times in the forested areas nearby. With cloudy skies above, the almost iridescent green grasses in the fields below looked so pretty with the mountains serving as the backdrop, with bright pink, yellow and lime green colors of spring creeping up the mountainside. That evening we met friends Fred and Barb at a local restaurant, the Black Bear Café. It was yummy as usual and we all enjoyed playing a game of Mexican Train Dominoes at our house afterwards.
Thursday we headed for our picnic destination, which was once again sunny, but still quite chilly! Nonetheless, it was beautiful as always, sitting there by the river while eating. With tummies full, we enjoyed riding along the winding drive through the Park until we reached the Chimney Tops picnic area. There is a nice wildflower trail there, which was being enjoyed by many that day! We started our journey upward, and were immediately greeted by what appeared to be hundreds of Great White Trillium, of which many had turned, or were starting to turn, pink! It was simply stunning, as they seemed to be everywhere, and in my two favorite shades of pink . . . light and hot pink no less! Joining the Trillium were the fluffy and showy blossoms of Foam Flowers, as well as the dainty, miniature blossoms of Bishops Cap. The forest floor was alive with one of natures finest flower shows! The small fringe-edged white flowers on the Phacelia were also still blooming throughout, although they reaching the end of their spectacular springtime show. The walk was a real treat as we enjoyed the streams that followed and occasionally crossed the path, all sporting their own stunning collection of moss and blooming Watercress. There were several very large trees along this walk and I had to stop to give a hug to several of them. I even got Wes’ parents to join me in giving one very large tree a group hug! Each and every turn in the lushly lined path gave way to another amazing and gorgeous view filled with wildflowers and the forested landscape. Leaving there, we drove up the Park road a ways to see where the road had been taken out during a rockslide earlier this year. It was quite amazing to see, and they have done a wonderful job of repairing it already. That evening we met several neighbor friends at our local Pizza Hut for supper, before coming here afterwards to enjoy a little dessert and conversation.
Friday we enjoyed another sunny, but chilly picnic before making our way into the Elkmont area in the Park. This historical section is always interesting and fun to visit, as it was a summer destination and a resort community in the early 1900s, and the remains of many of the cabins of that time remain. Walking the trail leading by a few of the remaining cabins, we made our way up to Cucumber Gap Trailhead, which we walked for quite sometime. There were several groupings of Fraser’s Sedge blooming along the trail, which are beautiful and look like a firework that has exploded! A highlight along the trail was a huge grapevine, which I climbed onto and enjoyed swinging on . . . I guess some kids never grow up! Anyway, we decided to go walk part of another nearby trail, so we headed back down and made our way to the other trail. It led down to a footbridge, which crossed a stream and then led by another old cabin and a few remains. Before long we had returned back to the starting point and it was time to head for home. Later, we enjoyed our supper while eating on the porch that evening. Saturday morning it was time to say our goodbyes and I thanked George again for bringing my early birthday present consisting of four large bags of peanuts for my birdies! Such a wonderful gift for my little friends and me!!!
The rest of the day was spent getting back to work and taking care of things with the business. That evening while lying on the couch, reading a book, I had the strange sensation that someone was watching me. So I sat up and turned and looked out the window and someone was … Peedeepeeps! He was looking in the window at me and acting like he was trying to get my attention, so I got up and went to the window where I peered out and saw three beautiful and precious little baby Carolina Wrens sitting on the bottom rung of the chair under him. “Oh . . . Peedeepeeps babies have fledged!” I told Wes and ran to get some worms. I took them out onto the backporch and while I was feeding him worms to feed his babies, a Titmouse kept flying over and hovering above my head. Finally he landed on it and then climbed down the side a bit as if trying to look into my face! I was delighted with this visit and he sat there and started picking at the hair on my head. I slowly walked from one end of the porch to the other where our studio window is located, and softly tapped on the glass to get Wes’ attention inside. He immediately got up and took a few photos. My little buddy, Tinymouse, was content as could be sitting there and trying to collect his idea of perfect nesting material. It was all fun and games until he started tugging harder. Nonetheless, it was an amazing encounter with another one of my precious little feathered friends!
Currently On Our Easels:I am working on my Bison drawing for the Western Visions Miniatures & More Show and Wes is painting an Inca Dove.