Daily Visits

I told myself that moving to a place where we knew (almost) no one would be a challenge at our age. I would have to overcome any natural shyness and join groups, participate in local activities, get out and mingle to make new friends. Ha! Not on your life during a pandemic, and especially lately with the Covid numbers spiraling upward. 

So instead I spend time with plants and animals that don’t need vaccinations and masks. The daily visits I refer to here are mostly the ones I make out to the garden with its infinite diversity and lessons to teach. Most of my outside painting is with eyes and other senses and without brushes. What can you call that blue of the sky? and what’s that rustle sound of those leaves that shimmer like golden coins? And if you close your eyes where in your body do you hear that bird song?

Sometimes lately though I get some paint on too!

I have been eating my lunch out where I can watch the Juncos and chickadees dribbling bird seed from their red perch. 

bamboo pen and ink and Derwent Line and Wash paletter

Another day just as the sun slanted toward the horizon I brought my sketch kit out to the back where two gigantic sunflower “volunteers” were luring me. The challenge was to hold the ink bottle and sketchbook in one hand and the bamboo pen in the other and draw. You’d think the flower would be facing the sun wouldn’t you? But for some reason these two plants are contrarians. Instead the sun was shining directly in my eyes and back lighting the flower. Speed was required to finish before the call to dinner and blindness from the sun. What fun!

Tried the other sunflower another day, this time with my usual watercolor palette and in a bigger 9 X 12″ sketchbook with more room for gestural strokes, and once again thought, wow, this is a lot more fun!

But today I brought my subject indoors and focused on detail. I’ve become the garden clean up crew, with Bob’s help of course, since we’ve had a hard time hiring help.  I had just pulled up a flower bulb in my vigorous clearing of dead growth. And what I found stopped me dead in my tracks as I contemplated my cavernous ignorance about plant biology. Perhaps you could help me understand what I saw? 

I mean really, all that bewitching beauty is underground! Just imagine what we are missing out on, just living our lives on top of all this and never seeing it. Those were my thoughts which ranged more to metaphor and visual poetry and spiritual ecstasy than scientific explanation.

Neverthless I would appreciate knowing more about the function of those jewelled clusters! Any suggestions? Ellyn, are you there?



  1. Thank you for the joy and inspiration your postings bring! Lovely paintings and musings!

    I’d assume those little jewels on the bulb underside are new bulbs forming, a sort of propagation? But honestly, an under-earth royal’s bejeweled turban works for me!

    I hope you are settled in your new home…looks like a wonderful spot you landed in…. and I hope you are going to do a show of your work soon to share your amazing talent with the locals up there!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. New bulbs forming! Yes, that’s sounds likely. I buried it back in the ground so it could continue its evolution. And we’ve been having drizzly rain to encourage growth.
      And thanks, yes we’re getting settled in – so much to get on top of that it fills every day.


  2. Wonderful paintings, and I particularly liked the sunflowers. Surprising also as most of them are gone down here. I’m sure your painting will connect you with other folks soon- well it already has from your market days group. It takes ages to meet new people in a new town. But as Shawna said, it’s sounds a lovely spot you have chosen. Be well.


    1. Thanks Kathy! Being a sketcher really helps with meeting new people, whether they are fellow sketchers or people who are attracted to watching the art process. And Olympia is a particularly friendly town I think.


  3. I’m Continually amazed and delighted at your regular nature explorations. I just watched Marley Peifer’s newest vlog on fav books in nature journaling and thinking of buying a couple.


  4. Yes, the little bulb eats are what Shawna said, new bulbs forming of whatever plant that is. Eventually you can detach them and replant elsewhere. I would wait another year though to detach unless you are OK with putting them in a small container to grow out and get bigger. Lovely sunflower paintings.


  5. Ahh, Susan, so nice to have someone else not wanting to go out and mix it up with other people! I am an introvert and happy too amongst the plants and critters. Thanks for your continued posting of your sketches and life…….


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