Saturday, August 19, 2017

Signs and Other Oddities

The last time I'd been to the library, I noticed a change in one of the display cases in the foyer. Upon closer inspection, I discovered it was a grouping of things left behind in the building or the parking lot. I was wishing I had a camera with me mostly because of one particularly amusing item, and so when I returned this week, my camera came along too.

There are eyeglasses and sunglasses. I get leaving behind sunglasses, but what are these people doing without their readers? Can they pick up replacements so cheaply that they can't be bothered to track down where they left these?

There are baseball caps (though no "Make America Great Again" ones) and since my last visit, a bright red plastic fireman's hat.

Lots of water bottles, a jacket, backpack and bicycle helmet. How do you NOT go back and look when you get out to your bicycle and realize you have no helmet to don?

And how do you not notice your child is missing a sparkly shoe when you walk out the door with her?

Many items were found abandoned in the children's section. Surely someone is missing these two. And really, how rad a dad must the dad be that was given that baseball cap that now awaits claiming?

I have to wonder if that book with the beautifully and artfully fold pages was not left for the librarians to enjoy. Thank goodness it was not done to one of the library's books in circulation.

But this was the item that amused me the most, a package of catnip, organic of course. People in this area are really into natural and organic things. But why would you have a package of catnip with you that ultimately gets left behind here? A staff member cleared that up for me. Apparently, a patron had been using it as a bookmark and forgot to remove it before returning the book. Wonders never cease...

I applaud the clever librarians who, tired of the growing number of items in their lost and found bin, put together this display.

As I turned to enter the library proper, I discovered more clever signs. The library has just begun an expansion project, so exciting to know how well-used and important it is to the community that they just have to have more space, and because of careful planning, they can afford to do it without a great ask of money.

But as with any remodeling project, it will cause a bit of disarray, as pointed out by this sign on the entrance door. Be sure to read the fine print on this and the following signs.

Well, of course they will help. They always do!

And my favorite, perched above the "new arrivals" display. Someone had a lot of fun with this.

As I wandered through the downstairs, I arrived at the place where a wall has come down and construction has started on the other side. This will take awhile, but it will be so lovely once it is finished. Can hardly wait!

Clever signs did not end inside the library. Someone has been having fun with a couple of stop signs nearby. Never have a camera with me when I've passed these before, but this day I rectified that.


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Meh Results

I've had my first real "fail" using old dyes. Not that these yellows aren't lovely, it's just that I was going for darker versions of each step as you can see from my worksheet swatches. My first warning came as I dug into the bottom of the big jar of mustard yellow and found it was not "powdery". It was acting as if moisture had gotten in but I forged ahead and scraped away until I'd dislodged enough for my dye stock. Everything looked dark enough in the bath, but obviously the dye did not react with the soda ash to produce full strength color. I think ProChem's mustard dye has some red mixed into it, and I've read that of all the dyes, reds are the ones that lose their strength the fastest, while other dye colors continue to produce true and deep colors for years. Don't think for a minute I haven't been questioning my process (did I measure the dye stock correctly, was there enough soda ash in the solution?) but it has to be the dye powder, and I'm wondering if I made up dye stock using a lot of it, would I get the deeper values in an overdye. I'm probably dreaming and wasting my time if I try it. I should just buy a small jar of fresh dye.

This was not an old dye fail as much as that what I think of as lavender must not be the same as what ProChem does. The lighter steps do shade less reddish purple than the other purples in my stash, but the darker steps look too much like the purple that I already have too much of. Plus the mix of dyes in it struck quite differently, leaving some very blue areas and some very purple areas - this even though I was giving the bags extra mooshing to create more even coverage. I had hoped using a premixed lavender would save me time but I can see that I'd be better off using my own recipe (worksheet swatches on the right) that mixes fuchsia and indigo.

I always have about a quarter cup of dye stock leftover, so used it to dye a half yard piece in a "double dip" method. First it went into the bag with the leftover mustard dye stock for about an hour, then it was removed, squeezing out as much liquid as possible, and placed in a separate bag with the leftover lavender dye stock. The results are quite a puzzle, certainly not what I thought might happen. Even the camera doesn't quite know what to do with it. It has a washed-out faded look to it, kind of a greenish yellow with plum undertones. Should I stamp over it or overdye it? Can't decide, but am pretty sure I don't want to use it as is.

I did the processing over several days and left that vat of black for last. I'd used a ton of black dye powder plus chino dye powder per a recipe Judi and I had developed that seemed to give us a deeper black with less of the blue overtones. I used hot water as recommended. I place the bucket in the hot sun for hours. But when I rinsed out the two 2-yard pieces and ironed them, I did not have the dark black I was going for. Perhpas that black dye is too old too? Would using what's left in the jar to re-dye one of the pieces get me closer to the black of the piece I'm running short on? Would using a different black dye powder work any better? Oddly enough, one length is slightly darker than the other length, (and yes, I'm reviewing my steps to see if this is my fault) and both are very usable as is, but that's not the point. The point of dyeing up these two big pieces was to replenish the dwindling black fabric in my stash, and this wasn't doing it. You can see from the photo the difference between the newly dyed fabric and the darker fabric from my stash.

Well, this all sort of turned me off to proceeding right away with the remaining 4 yellow gradations I'd planned to do, so I turned my sights to something I've been wanting to try for a long time - making paper from paper headed to the recycling bin. I've been lugging around my old blender for years knowing I would need it for this if I ever got around to it. After watching a Design Matters video on paper making, one that took the mystery out of it for me and made it look so simple and doable and confirmed that paper run through my shredder would work, I decided it was time to just do it! I won't go through the process - if you are interested in the steps, you can watch the video here.

I didn't really know what to expect of the finished product but I didn't expect it to be so stiff. I played around a bit with how much pulp ended up on my screen but even the ones with a thinnish layer were anything but "delicate" like is talked about on the video. Plus each piece picked up the texture from the cloth recommended for use between sheets. Wool felt is the standard, I believe, and now I know why. Perhaps the British version of American "Handiwipes" is smooth and I need to find a different kind of reusable cloth. Or find me some felt...  My papers reminded me of recycled paper towels and my questions of how I would use handmade papers increased as this obviously could not be used to write on. If you click on the photo for the larger version, you will see some bits of paper that didn't get totally pulped, which is not a mistake. I was hoping for this but in the dim light of the garage where I worked, I thought I'd over-pulped my shredded paper.

But when I took some sample sheets outside to photograph, I could clearly see lots of places where larger pieces had embedded in the sheet, some with color as in this example. Now we can start thinking use with art journaling.

I wasn't going for perfectly square sheets during this learning phase, although I got a few that were close. At least one of the 17 sheets struck me as complete enough and heavy enough that it could be used as a cover for a small handbound book. And after making a few test sheets, I sprinkled in some tea leaves I'd saved after brewing to add some brown specks of interest. I should have run them through the blender too, at least some of the larger pieces from some herbal teas. Those larger pieces bled more brown into the paper around them than I would have preferred.

The video points out that, just like true batik fabrics, the back may look different from the front and boy, is that the case especially with these tea leaves. This is the back of the sheet in previous photo. And because I started separating the stack before completely dry to help speed up the process, most of the sheets are distorted in one way or another. Supposedly they only need to be weighted for awhile to flatten them out, which is where they are right now while I continue to ponder how they can be used. I think I will try more of this.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Heat & Smoke

I'm a 70's kind of gal, as in I like my temperature highs in the 70's. I can manage some days in the 80's, although even in the shade they can make it uncomfortable to be active outside. But top over into the 90's and I'm not coming out of my house for more than a few minutes at a time, at least not until the sun goes down. And I was doing that at the end of July, heading out just as the sun was dipping behind the mountain, and taking along my sketchbook on one such day. I wanted to capture the daylilies at the park I walk through, buttery yellow blooms amidst the green blade-like leaves. Even a sketch like this can take me half an hour to forty-five minutes, so my plan was to return within the next few days with either colored pencils or watercolors.

But my plans were thwarted by the smoke that has drifted into our valley from forest fires that are as much as hundreds of miles away. British Columbia is burning up again, at one point with over 45,000 people evacuated from their homes for over two weeks. Winds have been blowing all that smoke down into Washington and over into Idaho, along with smoke from Washington's own fires. This happened two years ago so we know the drill. If it looks like this from my front door, chances are the air quality rating is in the moderate or yellow range, and I am part of the population who needs to curtail outside activities - no long walks for me. A few days it has popped over "unhealthy for sensitive groups" or orange (where it is this afternoon) straight into the next level, plain old "unhealthy" or red. There's one more level in which they deem no one should be outside for any reason, but it hasn't gotten that bad yet. I miss my daily walks, and opportunities to go farther on nearby trails but there's no point in risking it. The daylillies sketch will either have to remain a line sketch or I'll have to use my memory to fill in the colors. I think I'll leave it as is.

Favorite Place sketching homework

Being "trapped" inside, I've found plenty to keep me busy. I just completed another section of my Sketchbook Skool class, led by Brian Butler, and boy was it different! It's a little difficult to describe his type of art, so I invite you to peruse his website to get a feel for it. He does a lot of what I think of as grafitti-style murals as well as branding for musicians and merchandise. I think most of the class was wondering what in the world could we get out of something so bizarre and how many of us need to know how to design and paint a mural on the side of a building (which he shared videos of doing). Even he was a little unsure if he fit with this group but we all dived in together and found him fun, knowledgeable and full of encouragement regarding how to use a sketchbook. For him, it's an inspiration generator, where he records the events of the day, capturing visually ideas he may use later in a finished piece. He stressed he seldom shows his sketchbooks to anyone so felt a little uncomfortable showing them to us. He sees them as idea generators that are only for the one doing the drawing, and so they are forgiving; it doesn't matter if you make a mistake in them, and mistakes can lead to a new idea. As he's wandering around sketching, he likes to fill the page to leave as little white or negative space as possible, and encouraged us to try filling some pages in our sketchbooks in that same style. As a homework assignment, he suggested we think of a favorite place, pulling inspiration from images to collage elements unique to that place. I, of course, picked the area I live in and found I enjoyed this style of drawing much more than I anticipated. I usually so carefully center what I am featuring, or if there's more than one thing on a page, each will have its separate place. I really found this liberating!

Trying out the Bimoji Brush Pen on random pairings homework - love it!

So here's a thing I discovered while completing that homework and the other homework of randomly pairing an adjective and a noun from pre-generated lists and drawing it. With few exceptions, I can't remember enough about how a thing looks like to draw it from memory. I've been almost exclusively sketching from life or photos for quite awhile now and found myself having to reference a sketch I'd already made in order to include a particular building, and google images to figure out how to include the train engine and the moose. I've drawn sailboats before but found I couldn't even do a decent rendering of something as common as an airplane. What does a pen look like, or a dog? Why can't I remember what a flame looks like, or a bird? I observe and observe and observe, but I guess because these are things that I don't draw very often, with or without a model, my brain only holds the barest information about them, just enough that I can recognize them when I see them. As for this second homework assignment, I decided I picked bad words to put on my list and it was difficult to figure out how to draw these things. Well, maybe that was the point; it did stretch my imagination a bit.

So here's another thing. It occurred to me that, while I am often asked how long it takes me to make a quilt, few if anyone asks how long it takes me to sketch something. There are quick quilters and quick sketchers for sure, but I'm not one of them. And I think in reality, those fast people are in the minority. I've noticed that I often spend one to two hours on an urban sketch, and even my cup sketches from the Inktober challenge would usually tie me up for 45 minutes to an hour. Does the general public take for granted that paintings and drawings are fast to do but intrinsically know work in fiber and fabric are time consuming? And do they think the images just come out of our imagination or do they understand that anything realistic has been rendered by looking at an actual scene or object? What do you think?

Dye runs "cooking" in the sun
While the sketching class was pushing me outside my comfort zone, I could always fall back into familiar territory by continuing the machine quilting on that lap quilt. I have 3 more rows to reach the border, which I'm quilting separately after the central part of the quilt is done, and then can go back to the center and quilt the other side. This quilt is going to get finished! And I've done another dye run, this time in colors that are replenishing my stash so should be no surprises here. The first bin has mustard yellow dye, my all time favorite yellow. The second is using ProChem's lavender dye, an old dye gifted to me and one I hope will give me a bluish rather than reddish purple, although in the rinsing and soaking today it strikes me as being too much like the purples I already have. The big bucket is holding 4 yards in a black dye recipe Judi and I developed. No idea if those old dyes will give me a good black like I am going for but I will soon find out! Once this run is processed, I have 4 additional yellow gradations to dye up, and then my dyeing should be done for awhile. If nothing else, I think I'll be out of fabric by then and maybe the heat and smoke will be gone so I can be outside again.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017


You saw this spread of my "coloring book" pocket calendar in the last post partially colored in. I suddenly realized how soon July would be over so got to work adding color to the rest of the areas. Except . . . I decided not to add orange to the flowers already outlined in red. I decided I liked the way the white enlivened the page. Are there blooms like this in the real world?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A Little Update

I am reveling in the summery freedom I am feeling this month. I think I have successfully squelched my guilt gene for the moment. I continue to work a bit most days on the fat quarter quilt but there's not much to share since I am just repeating this overall design of paisleys. Each addition of stitches looks the same as the last (except perhaps my individual paisleys are improving). This was a trial of this idea of picking a pattern that could be repeated in rows the length of quilt, ignoring seams I would normally stitch in the ditch or block patterns I would accentuate. So if I liked how it worked, I'd use this method again. If I didn't like it, not a big deal as this quilt is going on my bed. And it only took a few passes for me to start questioning my decision. Not sure I'm that thrilled with what I chose for my quilting pattern - putting a paisley in each of those small squares is making for very dense quilting and I'm not sure I like how it looks continued into the unpieced areas. And no surprise that my surety about thread color almost immediately changed too. Should I go blue or gold? Neither blends with every fabric and the gold thread seemed the most logical at the time. But the way it stands out on the darkest blues were bothering. However, it is growing on me, and probably when I pull it out from under the needle for the last time and give it a wash, I'll be fine with it.

There's been sketching too, and work on the next pocket calendar spread, though not enough as the end of the month is fast approaching and there's quite a bit still to color in. I added another item to my Comforts sketchbook. The heat of summer had me standing in front of the novelty icecream case and remembering how much I liked fudgesicles as a kid. So a box came home with me. A simple thing to draw, following a photo, not the actual fudgesicle of course, but it was a chance for me to work some more with watercolors and one of the new waterbrushes on paper actually meant for wet media. I've also been back to the park on my walking route, arriving just as the sun dips behind the mountain so I am not baking in the sun as I work on sketching a group of flowering plants. It was those purple spears that first caught my eye, and I decided it would be good practice to try to capture just the essence of these flowers with either watercolor or colored pencil. I opted for the pencils for simplicity sake, got the gist of if down on  site, then darkened the whole thing up later that evening while relaxing in front of the tv. 

One connection I've made since following this urban sketching movement is that my brain, being so detail oriented, often automatically strives to capture every detail of my subject exactly, or as completely and exactly as I can. Working with the watercolors and plant life, I have to let some of that go, don't have to draw every leaf and bloom, don't even have to do a line sketch first. This is good to practice and links to my textile work as well. There are times when I could and should back away from so much realism and detail and go for the soft blur of essence.

Speaking of soft blur of essence, I've been back out on the Pend Oreille Bay trail several time but sans camera. The views don't change much, and I was only slightly disappointed I couldn't capture the lovely blue sailboat anchored just off-shore. Sometimes you just have to let the "sharing" and "capturing" thing go and stay in the moment, experiencing the essence of what you are passing through. But I've not left you high and dry. See this post for my first hike on this trail that i DID capture and share.   

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Successful Dye Runs

Dharma's Sky Blue, Moody Blue and Ashes to Ashes
I am very pleased with the results of my recent dye sessions using the new dye powders from Dharma. Here are the swatches on the worksheets, ready to file.

Sky Blue gradation plus overdyes with leftover dye stock

I did half-yard 4 step gradations which left me with about a quarter cup of dye stock left over of each color. On a separate day, I grabbed the "natural dye" pieces of muslin that barely had any color on them and some of the snowdyes from earlier in the year and used that leftover dye stock to overdye them in large yogurt containers. The camera washes out the lightest step so you'll have to trust me that it does have some lovely light blue on it. The large piece on top was the #2 tangerine snowdye in this picture, which I could find nothing to liked about it. Still not sure how usable it is with the sky blue overdye but I do see improvement. The partially covered piece below it was a muslin natural dye, rolled and accordion folded. None of the tint from the natural dyeing seems to have survived this overdyeing process.

Ashes to Ashes gradation plus overdyes with leftover dye stock

I love love love the Ashes to Ashes grey gradation. Again, the camera washes out the lightest step. My general impression is one of beautiful grey suede somehow. There are slight hints of the orchid I was seeing in the dye bath, but no doubt that it is grey. The large piece on the top is the other natural dye piece, the one that looked slightly pink,, but again, no sign of it after this dye process. I really love the texturing in this piece. The dark piece with all the red is I believe the middle snow dye in this picture. I'm seeing mountains in it, believe it or not, so it may become a wholecloth quilted landscape.

Here's that textured muslin piece again. You can see that there are hints of green in it too, but not in the lightest areas.

Moody Blue gradation plus overdyes with leftover dye stock

Last, here is Moody Blue. As I was ironing it, I decided that if I were naming it, it is what I think of as navy blue. It gave the most stupendous overdyeing of the other two snowdyes in this picture - the red on the right (but on the left in the above shot), the green on the left (but on the right in the above shot). I know I thought I could do something with the leaf-like texturing in the green one, or stamp it with leaves, and I also thought I could work with those red pieces, but I was never really sold or thrilled or motivated by them. Now with the overdyeing, I am.

I tried to be quite diligent with distributing the dye in the fabric well (technical term: mooshing) before setting the bags out in the sun. I was rewarded with good texturing with minimal white/light areas on most of the half yards, which is what I prefer for my gradations.

Perhaps this is why I only spotted one face staring back at me. Can you decipher the white dots and vague oval outline as a face with eyes, nostrils and mouth?

Ashes to Ashes on left, Cotton Black on right

Now with everything processed and swatches on the worksheets, I checked to see how these three dyes differ from what I've used before. Here is Ashes to Ashes next to gradations of ProChem Cotton Black. You can see the issue we had with the gradations shading to green. Although I wouldn't call it a neutral grey (which is something Dharma has come out with since I bought this), Ashes to Ashes still reads as grey throughout the gradation.

Ashes to Ashes on left, Better Black on right

Judi and I had also tried Dharma's Better Black to get a more grey gradation in the lighter steps. It still shaded towards either blue or green, but not as much as the Cotton Black did. Kinda grey, but we constantly had customers asking why we added blue or green steps in our black gradations. Again Ashes to Ashes still reads grey. And since I know it has some red and teal in it somewhere, I am curious what would happen to the darkest step with bleach discharge or dye remover. I have a commercial solid grey that does discharge to a lovely pink.

As for Moody Blue, it is very close to ProChem's indigo procion dye (not to be confused with true indigo dyeing) in spite of the fact that it looked different on the computer screen when I was ordering. Any difference is slightly evident in the lighter steps that look less muted, and it did take more rinses than Sky Blue - an irritating trait of indigo dye. If it remains available and I find myself out of indigo, I might substitute it instead.

Sky Blue on left, Bright Blue on right.

I also checked the on-line color of Sky Blue against my worksheets of various blues to determine if it was different. Again, at the darkest step the difference is minimal, but as the colors grade lighter, the difference begins to show. ProChem's Bright Blue was the closest, but starts shading towards turquoise or aqua, though it is slight. But Sky Blue looks to lean more towards a violet shading, more sky than water (we had given our Bright Blue gradation packs the name "pacific blue"). Definitely room for both in my stash.

Overdye with old indigo dye powder clinging to sides of jar

When I showed the photo of my dye run basking in the sun, I didn't say what that tall plastic jar was doing out there. It once held indigo dye powder, and it seemed to me that quite a bit still clung to the sides of the jar and underside of the lid. Enough, I wagered, to produce at least a lovely pastel tint, so I had saved it. It must be at least 10 years old. I thought there should be enough dye to tone down the white in this "I don't care" print made over an older printing from my first linocut class. That pattern I printed over now looked like ripples in water so adding some blue made sense. When I dumped it out of the jar, rinsed and eventually ironed it, this was the biggest surprise of the overdyes. The muslin had not tinted to blue but to the most lovely shade of lavender, and pretty dark too. I'd only minimally thought about if the printing could survive the dye process which includes several hot water soaks and hand rinsing, with a final go in the washing machine. But now that I was processing, it was foremost on my mind. I opted to do the final Synthropal wash and rinse by hand to save the piece from the extra agitation of the machine, but I do think there was some loss of the red acrylic paint. It didn't seem to affect the background printing and I'm not sure what kind of paint I used. Not too upset about any paint loss, though, as it frees me up to do whatever I want with thread painting or quilting over those leaves. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

And The Latest On The Fiber Front...

I did take a bit of a break from things art quilty after the leaf cluster push, but then I remembered I'd promised to focus on the bishop's stole once ArtWalk was off my plate. I edited the design given me after adding a bit to the width and stretching out the design area as well. Everything felt so very cramped. Still some areas to refine but at least I got my ideas for additions and improvements sketched in and as long as I was at it, pulled some fabric possibilities for the various areas. Cut swatches to glue in the appropriate areas and sent it off for approval. Haven't heard back yet and frankly I'm not in a big hurry to proceed. Still mulling how best to execute parts of it.

This is what I did on my July Pause day. I filled the studio with the sounds of Jimmy Buffet and sat at the machine running parallel quilting lines over this "I don't care" print. As you can see, I still have some thread tails to pull to the back and tie off, but since this will likely go in a frame, no burying to do. I was struck by how "at home" I felt at the machine with its familiar hum. I've spent so many hours of my life at the machine doing basic piecing that when I've been away from it for while, coming back to it again sometimes does for me what comfort food does. And I find myself thinking I really should spend more time at it doing basic simple things like this. I was hoping the diagonal quilting would quiet down or mask the business of the background printing but I was surprised to find that it didn't make much difference and rather blended in. Will have to ponder this more. The masking tape along the side was used as a guide when laying down the first line of stitching. When I pulled it up, some of the paint came up with it. Not the acrylic paint I used on the leaf cluster, but the Speedball Fabric Printing ink used in the test printing back in 2013. It smelled to high heaven and took several weeks in the garage to dry enough not to be tacky. After 3 years it should be air cured, plus it got heat applied to it when I heat set the new printing over it. I am so glad I tossed it and moved on to something else.

The fat quarter quilt is back under the needle. Did I mention that most years my July pause lasts more than that one day? Our wedding anniversary falls just a week beyond and so I have the whole week to "do what Allen might want me to do" in the studio, pushing "should be working on" to one side. This time I decided to make good on that thought late last year that if I just did a few rows most days, like the daily drawing I did for a month, rather than think I needed to designate big chunks of time to get it quilted in a backbreaking marathon, I'd be more likely to get it finished. I haven't managed every day, but most of them, spending about an hour and a half to freemotion quilt the two rows top to bottom. The steady progress is heartening, each session a little easier and better, and my body is grateful for the short stints.

I mentioned that I would be trying out the dry-erase pen soon, and I have indeed done that. I need to make a correction. The ink is not actually dry-erase, as you can see on my effort to re-familiarize myself with the fat quarter quilting pattern. I rubbed quite hard on that spot near the top and couldn't get it all to come off. The ink is actually called "waterase", indicating that once the ink has dried on the non-porous surface, it actually needs a damp cloth to remove it. If you decide to "erase" while it is still wet, the cloth needs to be very absorbent. The piece of 80/20 batting I used just moved the ink around on the board rather than soaking it up. Better to let things dry first. And actually, I think I like this feature of the ink, it's not rubbing off easily. And I do appreciate the finer line this pen tip gives me.

Last but not least, today I finally did some dyeing, trying out the new dye colors I bought last December. The fabric had been scoured and ripped into half-yard pieces for this dye session back when I was prepping fabric for snow-dyeing. It DOES take me a long time to get from a to b to c on most grand ideas I have! I went back to my standard low water freezer bag method to produce 4 step gradations of Ashes to Ashes, Sky Blue and Moody Blue. It's been really hot here, another day in the 90's, so I'm trying something I've not done before, although I keep reading about people doing it: leaving the bagged fabric in its dye bath sit in the sun all afternoon. That zap in the microwave before rinsing out my snow-dyes really did seem to have an affect on the results, so why not try a little natural heat on these?

And as a last bit of catch-up, though not fiber related, I finally transferred some plants I'd bought in May into their planters on the back deck sometime in June. (I here you thought I shared everything with you as it happens!) It's not much, but I can see it from the sofa and as I pass through the living room. I refused to buy geraniums again after the deer neatly trimmed all the blooms I'd nurtured off the plants last summer. I hoped they'd leave the columbine and bachelor buttons alone, and I scatter some "bee seeds" in the two small planters.

The first burst of blooms came and went and I feared that might be it, but the columbine rallied and is full of blooms again. The bee seeds sprouted and are almost big enough to thin, the extra moving into other containers. The deer haven't been a problem, or more likely, aren't browsing behind the house right now. 

They are so beautiful and give me such pleasure. I hope they will winter over.