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Hi, everyone! I'm an artist, author, illustrator, gardener, and animal lover living on six beautiful acres in a rural area near Charlotte, NC. My sister lives here with me in a separate house and between us we have one dog, one horse, eight cats, a rat, a guinea pig, and three ducks. My daughter and her family live only fifteen minutes away. With so much life and love surrounding us, life is good.

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My sister and I are in North Carolina now, and even though my dear dog Fiona passed away six months before we moved, I can't bear to remove her picture from my "About Me" section, because I'm still all about utterly adoring this sweet creature. She will always be with me, and I will always remember the look of her trusting, loving eyes and the feel of her soft fur.

This is one of my favorite portraits I've done of my girl. It's called, appropriately, "Fiona the Good" and is a collage including my drawing of her.

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October in the Garden

After the long summer of heat, I'm so enjoying the cooler weather that moved in during October. And, although one can always get too much of just about anything, I'm loving the rainy foggy days. And so is the garden. The moisture brings out the colors, and the lack of bright sun and the deep shadows it brings evens out the colors and makes every plant and flower clearer.

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The garden is at the side of the house. As soon as you step down the last step from the covered side porch, you're standing in its midst. At the far end, is the garden room whom I had a friend build. I had a hard time deciding whether or not to do that. I thought maybe I wouldn't use it since the house porch overlooks the garden too, and I could just as easily sit there. But as it turns out, during the summer, the sun is behind the garden room, and all the flowers turn their heads in that direction. So, it's the perfect place to sit, and I'm out there almost every day.

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This is a view from the side of the garden. Behind it is the main part of the property which includes a pond and an area of grass dotted with huge oak trees. At the far edge of the garden you can see a trellis with climbing roses planted in small raised beds on either side. The bed in the foreground is partially empty because I've been clearing the annuals which have passed their prime. I find it difficult to do that task because empty sections of the beds just don't seem right. But where the annuals were, the soil needs a good rest for the coming winter.

Almost exactly a year ago I bought this hardy chrysanthemum as a 1 gallon plant. It's spent the spring and summer growing nice and big and setting hundreds of flower buds. Now it's nearly in full bloom, and it turns out to be one of my earliest blooming varieties. I'd say this plant is a near-perfect mound nearly 4' across. This whole bed is full of mums, and the others will bloom soon. Later in the winter I may move some into other beds so they won't be as crowded next year.

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What I really like about this view is the contrast between the bed in the foreground and the one just behind it. The plants in the near bed are still all thriving, even though it's October. But behind them is a bed of medium-sized sunflowers, and they're already done for the year. They've stopped flowering, the leaves have turned brown, and they're ready for their next phase - contributing to the compost pile!

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One of the climbing roses on the trellis is in the right foreground of this photo. And to the left is the side of the house with the covered porch. I built, filled, and planted all these beds this year. It was a big job, a lot of hard work, and was sometimes discouraging. But I'm so glad I did it. The garden is a constant source of joy to me. And I know that this year the work was the hardest. So many of the plants are perennials, and there will be more in future years. When I stopped building beds in the spring, I wasn't sure whether or not I'd build more. But at this point, I think not. This is enough.

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This beautiful dahlia was a real surprise for me. I tried to grow them back in California, but was unsuccessful. There was a variety I particularly wanted, but it was a fairy new one and was expensive. But this year I saw it on sale and decided to take a chance. I'm go glad I did! It's doing beautifully, and so are the other two varieties I planted. They're full of blooms and keep setting more. Next year I'll pay more attention to them, specifically, I'll stake them for a better display.

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