Friday, May 28, 2010

Cycle of Life

Today was one of those "Food for Thought" days. I went to a baby shower for a dear young friend.
The shower was fun. Great people, great food, I won a bright red dahlia plant for being able to take my shoes off and on really fast with a balloon stuck under my shirt. Our name tags all bore funny baby-related names. I was "Fertile". My friend was "Poop" and the grandmother-to-be was "Nipples". Hilarious.
But while I was there I found out that a dear older friend, Carol,  had suffered a massive stroke and was in a nursing home. I was told that she was unable to communicate and probably wouldn't recognize me. I feared the worst. I stopped in on my way home from the shower and found a (somewhat) pleasant suprise. Carol was sitting up in a wheelchair. She couldn't speak, but her eyes talked for her. She recognized me and squeezed my hand. I told her about the jewelry I was making and promised to bring her a new bright red pin when I visited next week. She gave me a little upturn of her left lip.
Carol is a two time cancer survivor and sent me many cards of encouragement when I was going through chemo and radiation. She is a collector of antiques and loves the color red. And she's incredibly generous.
I told her how much her cards meant to me and talked about how my hair was growing back (it's about 3 inches now) , but didn't come back red and curly like I hoped - an ongoing joke since I was already pretty grey before I got cancer. Her eyes danced with the conversation and  she gave me the little lip tip again. I could see her frustration at not being able to communicate, but I could tell that she understood everything I was saying.
I don't know if Carol will make a full recovery, but I am certain she will recover as much as she possibly can and will show us her true grit. She's a tough cookie and a great model of determination.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Brand New Me

Oh Dear. It has been so long since I posted. I hope you all haven't forgotten me. I've been on a bit of a journey. Not literally, but spiritually and psychologically.

I have always been a gardener. For the past 20 years or so I have gardened professionally doing design work for garden resorts. It was a wonderful career and I loved going to work every day. But almost a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I worked part time through my chemotherapy and radiation and thought I was doing just fine until one day, after my treatments were done, when I realized I didn't feel like the same person anymore. I didn't want to garden. I still love walking through the garden and looking at it, but I needed a break from working in it. Luckily, with the economy in the crapper, new design work in the gardens halted and I was laid off. I still do a little consultation work, but there isn't a lot of that either.
So I am home and have found a new passion. Beading. I LOVE doing bead embroidery and have been collecting beads for years. Now I have the time to do something with them all.
My grandmother (Ruth) taught me how to embroider when I was very small and I've always loved it. Doing it with beads adds a new dimension. I started out making beaded brooches for all my friends and family while I was going through Chemo. It was part of my therapy and I made over 125 of them and gave them all away.
Then I started getting a little more elaborate and making necklaces as well. I set up a store on Etsy and started selling them. I joined a Beading Circle and it's the highlight of my week.
I feel like I'm reinventing myself. I decided I'm sick of wearing t-shirts and jeans and went shopping for new clothes. I reorganized my studio. I changed my eating habits (for the better) and I'm starting to exercise.
I even changed my name! All my life I have never liked the name Cindee. It sounded like a little girl and too plain. I wanted something unusual, exotic! So I was researching my family tree and was looking at the Russian side (Flora's side) and was told by a friend that Cynthia in Russian is Xenia (pronounced Sen-ya). I loved it and realized that this was who I am. I changed the spelling - didn't want to constantly explain to people how to pronounce it (and also didn't want to be confused with the Warrior Princess - Ha). And I wanted to keep my initials, So I now go by Cenya.
I know I will return to the garden one day. I think I just need a break. But I know it's in my blood and in my soul. For now though, I'm a beader.
Please check out my Etsy store here.
I also have an art blog - mostly about beading, here.

Monday, April 5, 2010


I just spent Easter with my parents and brothers and extended family. My sister-in-law has been doing an online Family Tree and asked if I wanted to be involved with it. Of course! We sat for a couple of hours going through the relatives and arranging dates, but the best part was the pictures. She had many pictures that I didn't have and I have some that she doesn't have, so combining them has been great. We found pictures of my great, great grandparents from Russia. Recently I found this picture of my mother with her Swiss father and her siblings, when she was just a little girl. She is holding a china doll and looking a little sad. She's the oldest one, on the left. I don't think she had a very happy childhood. Her father was murdered not long after this picture was taken.
How is it determined who has a happy childhood and who doesn't? My own childhood was idyllic. I wish I could have given some of that to her as a child.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Clean Windows, Hummingbirds and Beads

Spring sits just outside my office window, but I can hardly see it because my windows are so dirty. There were hummingbirds at the feeders, but they weren't drinking. I went out to check and the feeders were filthy. So I washed and refilled them and was rewarded right away with a thirsty little chap with a ruby scarf. I remember grandma doing her spring cleaning. Does anyone do that anymore? Leave a comment if you do. Tomorrow I am washing windows!

The Crabapples are beginning to bloom, along with many other spring flowers.

Although the Hellebores were in their prime a couple of weeks ago, they still look luscious.

This Cornus has beautiful foliage and it's leaves sit like little fairies on the branches.

I've been beading quite a bit. I go to a Beading Circle every Tuesday night. It's a great feeling to belong to a group of like-minded women.
This feathered and beaded hairclip is one of the projects I just finished.

My daughter and I both love peacock colors and I've made a number of brooches in these colors for my Etsy shop.

Shalyhn, our belly dancing friend is my model for my beaded medallions. She dances so beautifully, but is shy. Why can't we see the creativity and beauty within us? Who came up with this habit of second-guessing ourselves? We need to find them and have a tar and feathering!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Art in the Gardener - Part 2

More Artists that are also Gardeners!

This photo of strophanthus was taken by Rachel at the Blog Wisteria and Cow Parsley. Rachel is a spectacular photographer and gardener.

I especially love this photograph that Rachel took. I imagine myself living up there in the tree tops.

Flowerlady, at Flower Lady's Musings, is also a creative type. She embroiders and beads these magnificent pictures.

You can learn about gardening and art on Flower Lady's blog (above). She's also a pretty sharp photographer, as noted by the photos she takes for her blog.

Lynn Galloway isn't a blogger, but she is definately an artist and a gardener. For several years she designed and implemented beautiful gardens around the Apple Tree Resort near Yosemite. Lately she has been gardening at Yosemite National Park during the summer and doing her artwork during the winter.

Lynn is accomplished at many differant types of art - from painting to sculpting to metalwork.

Rowan, at Circle Of The Year, is good with needles - as in embroidery and knitting. Here is a baby sweater she knitted...

...and a sampler she cross-stitched.

All photos are courtesy of the artists mentioned below them.
If you are an artist and a gardener, please leave a comment. We just might have to do a "Art in the Gardener 3!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Art in the Gardener

Have you ever noticed that most gardeners are creative in other ways as well? I know many gardeners that are quilters, painters, interior designers, etc.
Here in my own little world, it is true as well. I create altered books and beadwork. My friend and gardener at Village Green, Allie, is a fabulous painter. My other gardener, Yvonne, is a skilled mosaic artist. I don't have photos of Yvonne's work (look for them in future blogs) but following is some artwork from Me and Allie.

"Luna Nymph" is a beaded brooch using a polymer clay face and czech glass beads.

Green and Gold Cabochon is another brooch I created.

The Green Celtic Knot is a favorite among my friends.

"Ransom Poem From the L. L. Bean Catalog" is from one of my altered books.

"Seasons" is another page from an altered book. The wheel at the bottom turns to display the differant seasons in the little window.

Allie recently finished this painting of a client's childhood swimming hole.

Allie painted this "Caffinated Butterfly" in one of the rooms of the resort we work at (The Village Green Garden Resort).

Allie gets jiggy with Santa at the Holiday Party.

Are you an artist and gardener? Leave a comment and let me know what your talents are.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Dream Garden

A Dream Garden... Ah, yes...You never know what you're going to get when you type a word into Google. I typed "Garden,Philadelphia" because I was going there with my daughter and wanted to see if I could find a nice garden or two to visit. What I got was a fantasy garden created by two of my favorite men - Maxfield Parrish and Loius Comfort Tiffany.
The Dream Garden is a huge mural created of Favrile Glass.

The design for the mural was painted on the wall by Parrish and the glass for it was made by Tiffany. Then workers from Tiffany's studio went to work installing thousands of the hand-made glass pieces to Parrish's painting.

The Mural was finished in 1915. It measures 15 feet x 49 feet and weighs nearly 4 tons.

You can see this masterpiece in the Curtis Publishing Company Building, right across the street from Independance Hall in Philadelphia.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Before and After - The Courtyard

Back angain with more Before and After Pictures. This time we're in the courtyard at the Village Green.

June 2003

August 2003

August 2007

June 2009

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Lawn Gone?

I hate lawn. There! I've said it and I have no guilt whatsoever. The only fond memory I have of lawn is rolling down a grassy hill in a barrel, over and over again. Oh, and I do love the smell of fresh mowed grass.
That said, I hate everything else about a lawn. The upkeep is agonizing, and they are boring. Every year we dump enough chemicals on them to pickle a nation. And they are not ecologically sound.

The Green at the Oregon Garden is a huge expanse for weddings and other functions. It is a gardener's nightmare to keep it green and weed free.

The Bridal Garden at the Village Green is another lawn that is a major headache to keep looking good.

This is the best this lawn ever looks. It is a small lawn, just big enough for a small wedding, but it's a pain in the tush to keep looking good.

I don't have a problem with grass. You may ask what the differance is, and I'll tell you. Grasses come in all differant sizes and flavors. We have annual grasses and perennials grasses, bluegrass, rye, fescue, etc. There are tall grasses for gardens and invasive grasses for cussing at. I like a little plot of flat vegetation where I can sit comfortably and where the grandkids (if I ever get any) can roll around on.
But I don't want a steroid green lawn of one or two specific grass types with no other "bad" grasses or broadleafed weeds growing in it. The only way to get this kind of lawn is to
a) Be a slave to it.
b) Dump mass quantities of chemicals on it.
No Thank You.
How can I feel good about letting my grandkids play on a toxic wasteland? Do I want to sit in a chemical dump? Do I want the run-off from my over-fertilized lawn to pollute the stream that runs nearby? All so I can have a lush green lawn?
I hearby invite everyone who is reading this to convert their lawn to a miniature meadow. Let the native grasses sow themselves in it, sprinkle seeds of english daisies and violets in the grass, revel in the lush mosses that come in over winter. Mow it if you want to - or not. As we said in the '60's, "Go with the Flow, Baby".
The most delightful lawn I ever saw was at Haceta Head on the Oregon Coast at the Lighthouse Keepers house. It was a beautiful tapestry of tiny potentillas, yarrows, wild strawberries and native grasses. You could roll on it, play on it, run on it and be quite happy. Or you could lay on your belly and marvel at the magical little world beneath you.

We mowed this labyrinth into our field. A fun way to enjoy grass without chemicals.

This "lawn" at Chanticleer has many lovely little wildflowers and crocuses growing in it. They mow some of it short and leave some tall. Very Charming.

Much of my life has been spent ripping out lawns and putting in gardens. I figure I've sent a couple of acres of sod to the compost. Not a bad thing to look back on.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ahh, Hellebores!

A little glimpse of Spring to all of you in the Winter doldrums. Don't fret. She's just around the corner...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

January Jewels

Witchhazels are a marvelous staple of the winter garden and many garden blogs have lately touted their virtues. Some of the most popular are 'Diana', 'Arnold Promise', and 'Jelena'. But there are many others out there that are equally dazzling (if not more so). Here are a few:

My all time favorite is Hamamelis 'Ruby Glow'. An early bloomer and fragrant too.

H. 'Sunburst' is a blaze of florescent yellow. Also an early bloomer.

H. 'Firecharm' is similar to 'Ruby Glow, but not fragrant and it's a lower shrub.

H. japonica 'Zuccariniana' is one of the very latest blooming witchhazels. It has yellow scented flowers, but I like it best for it's buds that hang like little droplets from the branches.

If you can't find unusual witchhazels at your nursery, Please check these wonderful nurseries in the links list in my sidebar:
Gossler farm Nursery
Forestfarm Nursery

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tapestries in the Natural World

Grapes and Elderberries at the Village Green Resort - Fall

I've always been fascinated with little "Tapestries" that are created in nature. I envision these wonderful little vignettes woven into a blanket that I can crawl under to hibernate. Here are a few tapestries that Mother Nature has woven.

Boston Ivy on Marble Wall - The Getty Garden - Winter

Rock Wall at Great Dixter - Summer

Ajuga and Bellis - The Village Green Resort - Spring

Gravestone at Stourhead - Summer

Violas and Sempervivums at The Village Green Resort - Spring

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Muse Hunting

It's January and rather icky outside most of the time, so I've been cleaning up my studio where a twenty something stray kid had camped out for a few weeks. Now he's gone and I can reclaim my creative space. So what do I do in there? I make altered books, I create beaded brooches, I paint, I cut, I sew, I glitter. Whatever catches my fancy.
Two years ago a friend was diagnosed with cancer. I decided to make an altered book for her; making a few pages each week and sending them to her to insert in a customized binder I had made.

These pictures show a page that has a wheel in the center that displays the different seasons

The text on this page reads: "Ever notice how you can tell a lot about a person by what they have in their handbag? Is it schedules and parking stubs or fairy dust and theater tickets? I believe that our handbags manifest themselves in us- A really scary theory not yet substantiated by any well-known university. But a theory nonetheless.
What's in YOUR handbag? Here's a little one that you can write healing, happy thoughts in - so we can test our Theory of Handbag Manifestation."

I would always encourage my friend to be strong - Be a Woman Warrior.

Making a "ransom note" poem from the L. L. Bean catalog was great fun.

We both love Day of the Dead and I had to include this happy little dog skeleton

I don't remember how many pages I ended up making. But I had a great time doing it and she had a great time using it to keep her mind off her fear.
Do you have a space where you can get creative? Let me know what you have made.