Kaaren Poole artist and dog Fiona

My heart is broken, as I've recently lost my beloved canine companion, Fiona. She lives on in my heart - always.

I live on ten beautiful acres in the northern California foothills with my sister who is also my best friend.  The beauty, peace, and occasional drama of nature and wildlife surround us.  We also enjoy our numerous animal family members – two rats, two guinea pigs, four ducks, six cats, dog, and a horse.  They are a constant source of love and learning, and often amusement.

When I'm not working on my art or writing, I'm in the garden. It's a large one with raised beds and it’s fenced from the deer.  The ducks have their own house in the garden.  Roses occupy most of the space, but in the past few years I've also grown a variety of perennials and a few annuals for a cutting garden. One bed is devoted to tomatoes. About five years ago we had a large arbor installed and two rambling kiwi vines grow over it creating a shady oasis.  With that addition, the garden became a destination for conversation and relaxation, and not just a place to work.

What's happening in the

garden -

We're in the full heat of summer now, and it's a challenge to do much of anything outside, but I try to keep up, especially with the irrigation. During these two hottest months, July and August, the average days of rain is 0! So keeping the irrigation repaired is the most important garden task.

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Blue's still here! She hasn't come to the garden with me yet. That's my sister's cats' territory, and Blue stays pretty close to my house. But I'm still hopeful she will one day be a gardening companion. We'll see! And for all I know, she spends her nights there enjoying the flowers while my sisters' cats sleep inside.

Little Blue is definitely now a part of the family, but she wants to be outdoors all the time. She'd been camping out under the house, but I built a special place for her and put it on the front deck. It's 'Blue Bell's Beachside Bungalow' and she seems to like it! Yay!

I meant to plant sunflowers in the daffodil bed once the bulb foliage died back. Then I had second thoughts about the sunflower roots possibly disrupting the dormant bulbs, and I never got around to planting the sunflowers. But nature knew better and gave me a few volunteers to show me what I'd missed!

Last year my dahlia bed was a disaster. I determined to order new tubers and start all over, taking special care with the soil, watering, and feeding. They're still not doing well, but this one, at least, is blooming. I can't figure out where it came from, though, as I wouldn't have ordered a single. Nonethess, gardening is full of surprises, and I find this one somewhat charming.

I hope you're enjoying a garden of your very own!

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The garden looks a bit tired, which isn't unusual for this time of year. It's been over 100 a handful of days so far this month, and there's no rain in sight until September, if then. Summer's the hardest time in the garden, but I do my best to keep up with the watering, dead-heading, and feeding. The plants are worth it for a spot of color and green in the parched landscape.

This is one of the beds of flowers I grew from seed this year for my cutting garden. There's nothing more inspiring to see healthy plants grow from tiny, dry, nothing-looking seeds. And there's nothing more cheerful than a vase full of beautiful blooms. The colors and textures are amazing, and it always surprises me that no matter what combination of flowers I pick, they always seem to go together. I suppose that's because I chose the seeds.

Creative Cross-Training

Last summer the art journaling bug bit me. Although I devote my weekday art time to my writing and illustrating, I've been squeezing art journaling into the weekends. With this recent spread, I've finished my third journal. "Stewarding Mice" is a combination of collage, drawing, several painting techniques, and text.

To see more of my art journaling, go to the MY ART page then select art journaling

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