NEW BEGINNINGS

NEW BEGINNINGS

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An original pastel painting on 22″x 30″ linen board by  June Pauline Zent

Posted here in honor of  3teensmom.wordpress.com

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HANDS TOGETHER

 

  HANDS TOGETHER

An original oil painting on 30″x 40′ canvas by

June Pauline Zent

This painting has a history and a story which I will post later. I hope that it is worth a thousand words to you. For now I just want to say: As we are trying to deal with this latest horrific tragedy – in my humble opinion – the  work intentionally symbolizes what I think is most needed in our country.The more that we join hands together and talk about the problems the sooner we will find solutions.

Young, old, all colors, all relationships, all sexes, all religions, all with no religion, all ethnicities , the strong, weak, poor, and rich TOGETHER!

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I Promised You Continued II

                    Rose of Many Colors  by  June Pauline Zent

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        An original soft pastel painting on linen board

     

We drove out to Alternate AIA by the ocean where you could still park along the water side of the road, open the window, and feel the salty air on your face. ” You disappeared for twenty years, he said accusingly.”Where have you been?”

It was a long story beginning with a train ride from West Palm Beach, Florida to Great Falls, Montana all alone and only fifteen years old. My guardian  grandparents had signed a legal document to allow me to marry  the man of my dreams; or so I thought. Actually I wore them down to that point. He lied for a year telling me that he was from a   different high school when really he was a 18-year-old Air Police man   at the local air base that I had dated for a year. Now he was  stationed in Montana. Before he left he had given me an adorable heart-shaped diamond ring. He was all that I could think about and I cried constantly. After dropping out of school I took a job at the local Gray Hound bus station serving snacks but got fired because of the crying. I was Miss Gloom station.

Long story short: After leaving the service we moved to his parents home in Los Angeles, California where he entered UCLA. We had a son and a daughter and were married for ten years. It ended because he outgrew me and chased ever skirt in sight! He also became an abusive jerk towards the kids and me. Finally he told me that I should take the kids and go home to Florida. I took him up on it and divorced him soon after.

In due time I met my second husband who was just the opposite of the first. We had four kids together: another long story. After ten years the marriage fell apart. It was my fault mostly because I ran full steam the whole ten years not knowing why. At one point I was a part-time pre-med student in college, chief lab assistant of the biology department, rearing six kids, and showing my artwork at regional shows. The trigger came when my autistic son was dismissed from the special school he had attended for two years. I was told that he was too disruptive for what was to become a model special school. I was devastated and heart  broken. His father and I had done everything that we were told to do sometimes at the expense of  time and resources for the other kids. I was the president of the mothers group at the school that now abandoned him. That’s when I packed up the four younger kids and moved to Jupiter.

So here I am not knowing what comes next but desperately wanting a different life for the kids and myself.

He sat quietly through my story hardly saying a word. Then he said, “Do you remember when we were kids and I saw you walking down the street by the school wearing that fancy jacket emborered  with dragons and glittering stones; the one that Julian Rider had sent you from Japan?” I replied, “Yes I do remember that jacket”.  “Well,he continued, at the time I thought to myself, I can never buy her something as great as that!” He grinned and reaching his arm out pulled me to his chest, then he gave me the tenderest kiss I had ever known!

We drove around the area for hours talking non stop. Then he put a tape into the deck with a duo singing. He said,” Do you know who this is ?” I knew that the female voice was Dinia Shore’s but not the male voice. He laughed, “That’s me!” This was just the beginning of me getting to know him (Burt Reynolds) as a grown up Buddy. I was to learn much, much, more and so will you with the continuing story. Hope to see you here!


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PUPPY IN HAND Soft pastel painting

PUPPY IN HAND  A soft pastel painting by

June Pauline Zent

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This painting is one of a series titled Animals in Hands

It was worked on linen board 22 inches by 30 inches. The subjects for this work were my oldest daughter and her adorable Golden Retriever puppy. It has won several awards and has been printed in a Limited  Archival Gicle’e Edition. I deliberately painted my daughter’s hand to be rough to contrast with the soft puppy head. Hope that you like it.

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Lights Golden Hour

                                                                                                                          

Lights Golden Hour

An original oil painting by June Pauline Zent

Posted here in honor of  LightObserver.wordpress.com

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I promised You Continued

The Girl Who Loved Dancing

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An original pastel painting by June Pauline Zent.

This painting features the foal of Burt Reynolds famous horse Cat Dancing . He named this filly Dancing after her mother. I dreamed up the girl.

So here we were heading for Florida: Four of my younger kids and me squeezed into a little compact car and towing 1,000 lbs. in a U-Haul behind us. Two sons and two daughters were not all that thrilled about leaving their home state of Virginia. They were at first very quiet in the back seat. We had left at dusk; the strategy being that I would drive all night and they would sleep.

The first mishap occurred when I looked in the rear view mirror and saw their father’s car barreling up  behind. I pulled over and he handed me the money. Of all the things to forget! That says something about my own ambivalence regarding this decision. All that I really knew was that I had to try for another life. Yes, I knew that it was going to be very hard raising four kids alone with one being a special needs child but I had to try. The reasons why are very personal having nothing to do with Burt Reynolds, but it was not because I had not married a wonderful guy. Not at all! Blame the whole thing on me: I can handle it.

It was a difficult trip, especially so because my autistic son did not take well to change. At least one other child recalls this as an adventure: sleeping in motels, swimming in pools and the ocean, and eating frowned upon fast food.Going through Georgia we had a long , steep bridge to climb and the clutch was slipping from the weight. Traffic was back to back at a crawl and the kids were yelling and fighting in the back seat, I shouted, “if you don’t want to go rolling backwards down this bridge you had better shut up”.  Silence! until we got over the bridge of course.

When we reached Jupiter, Florida it seemed close enough to West Palm Beach: my birthplace and where Buddy and I grew up together. We drove around Jupiter and surrounding area for several days until finding a small two bedroom apartment with reasonable rent. While on this hunt I noticed several signs that said, “Jupiter, home of Burt Reynolds”. It might be his home NOW I mused but then let it go. After settling three kids in school I began the search for a program to help my autistic son. It was two years before finding one that would accept a child with the stigmatic label of autism. Remember that we are talking about 1977!

I desperately needed to find work to supplement their father’s support but this was not Virginia where my artwork was known. It was exactly like starting all over again. The thought occurred: maybe try to contact Buddy who might know people needing commissioned work. This was a shot in the dark really because we had not seen each other since childhood. I knew that he made movies but I had not even seen Deliverance. I was too busy as a pre- med student in college not to mention raising kids to watch movies. The call resulted in Logan, Buddy’s ranch manager delivering my message. Then Buddy called making a date for later in the day. I opened the door and was shocked to see him all decked out in an almost Liberace fancy cowboy suit and sporting a beard. Whoa! This was not the boy that I knew so long ago in this pale blue suit with silver dangling everywhere. He was even more handsome than I remembered but was really dressed to impress. There I stood in my blue genes. We hugged and he literally lifted me off the floor.

I introduced him to my crew and he was instantly on stage. My oldest daughter was there along with the two younger ones. They were old enough to know just who he was and he sat out to totally charm them. He carried the youngest daughter around on his shoulders and the middle one immediately got on the phone to her girlfriend. “She doesn’t believe me”, she said. He said,” give me the phone, this is Burt Reynolds; will you marry me?” Imagine how blown away this kid was! It was the talk of Jupiter middle school for days.

I noticed that along with all this charm he was also checking out my little apartment. The couch was three pillows positioned on the floor with three more against the wall.There had been no room in the U Haul for anything but the kids mattresses, pillows, clothes, and artwork. He opened the fridge and a gallon of milk fell out splattering all over the floor. Horrors! and a very messy cleanup. He sat on the ” couch ” and the tiny 10 inch TV started rolling picture. We kept a small hammer beside it. Just one tap on the side would stop the rolling. He laughed! From his vantage point on the floor he could see my current artwork stacked against the opposite wall including a print of They Walked Together.That’s when he asked about where the original was. He later refered to these paintings as his children! But that was another on stage remark.

He wanted to go out for a ride so that we could talk. My oldest daughter was there to watch the younger ones but my baby – six years old-was having none of it and was determined to keep me there. He fell to the floor grabbing my legs and held on with all his might. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry but eventually I got loose and calmed him down so off we went.

The story continues in another post. Hope to see you there!

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Do You Like My WordAds?

or WordAds           A original drawing by June Pauline zent

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Just yesterday I saw the first WordAd on my blog. Being approved for this program was a surprise since I haven’t acquired a zillion visitors. But there it was! I clicked on the little video and the first reaction was: ” Oh, very cool” Later I went back several times seeing a different ad each visit. I took some time pondering whether or not agreeing to this program would result in followers dropping off. The last thing I wanted to do was lose friends because of a bad decision.

Yes, You do receive compensation, how much depends on your visitors clicking on the videos. I don’t think that anything approaching a fortune is involved but something for a starving artist – well almost   would certainly be welcome! Your blog does have to meet certain criteria to be considered so when I was accepted a little wave of pride did sweep over me. However, I have invested umpteen hours of my time, sharing artwork and closely held true stories. Not to mention hours every day reading,responding, and connecting with new-found friends. I treasure this exchange and value their blogs almost as much as my own.

Right now after a very short time here is how I feel about WordAds: So far the ads are either funny, informative, or sweet but always very tastefully done. I kind of like them! One thing bothers me: Even though the ads are small and you have the option of clicking or not they are positioned just above the like button. YIKES! Please remember that pushing that button means that you are approving the post, not necessarily the ad. Please DO push the button if you like the story or the artwork.

The jury is out and you are that jury. I can instantly opt out of this program and will if it has a negative effect on visitors. So, please give me your vote. I promise to respond to every comment or question and for goodness sake hit that like button only if you DO.

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Winter Grown Living Room Tomatoes

Ripe Russian Heirloom Yellow Salad Tomatoes

Did you ever almost cry when tomato growing season was over? It’s either back to the bland store-bought or pay through the nose for the organic hothouse variety which is almost as tasteless. Well, here is a yummy solution! These juicy teardrop salad tomatoes are still growing in front of a sunny window in my living room. All photos were shot in December 2011. I am fighting the back lighting in these photos but you will be able to see the flowers and fruit.

Check out the little seedlings in cups at the top of the transom windows. These were planted out in the garden around the middle of March. Most are beef steak tomatoes that I have grown in the house but they do not get as big; just don’t have enough light. They  do taste great though and I grow them on the other side of this big window. Look how many yellow blossoms and fruits are on this plant! And it keeps on producing all winter and summer. I really do not know how long it will keep growing but the nice thing about heirloom verities is that you can remove the seeds from one, let them dry, and have more than enough for a new plant. I may do that soon because this plant is getting brown leaves at  the bottom now.

All you need is a large pot filled with organic potting soil and a few heirloom seeds. I plant three in the middle to be sure of sprouting. Remove all but the most vigorous one. Next you need a big window positioned on the sunniest side of the house. Mine is in the living room where I grow all kinds of plants year round.

Here is a view of the whole plant. You can see that it grows very big. I positioned a long piece of PVC pipe which serves as a tomato stake. As the plant grew I tied it up all the way to the top. It is a happy Camper and rewards you in kind. I water it every other day and once a month give it some liquid fertilizer.

Just think: no bugs, no disease, no digging, and no critters carrying off your fruit. Just walk up to this baby, pick off a ripe juicy yellow tomato, and pop it into your mouth. Shear delicious heaven! Or save them up for a few days and create the most sumptuously tasty salad that you have ever had!

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I PROMISED YOU

Burt Reynolds one

Burt Reynolds two

Burt Reynolds Jupiter Ranch

Yes, this was the purchaser of They Walked Together. These old photos were given to me by Burt Reynolds in 1976 on one of my visits to his ranch in Jupiter, Florida. On one of his visits to my little apartment in town he saw a print of this painting and inquired where the original was. At the time it was hanging in Royal Palm Gallery, Boca Raton, Florida as part of the current Show. He wrote a check to the gallery which I have a copy of but cannot show you because the check police will get me and asked me to bring the painting to the ranch. Actually the gallery owner wanted to take the piece out to the ranch himself hoping to meet the celebrity in person.

Some of you will not have heard of Burt Reynolds but trust me he was a big deal at the time and still is too many. His real first name is Burton, shortened to Burt but I know him as Buddy as did all of his childhood friends. As an adult movie star he was known to distrust anyone who did not know him as Buddy; I guess referring to the vultures who surrounded him at the time.We were raised together in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was my first “steady”boyfriend and I was his first as well; though he will never talk about me publicly for good reason as you will discover in another post. I wore his little silver football on a chain around my neck: a symbol of “going Steady” until another good-looking boy caught my eye. OK, that’s not surprising behavior for a fourteen year old!

Grandma used to bake us brownies and give each a dime sending us off to the movies. Yes, back then you could sit in a movie theater all day and watch films for one thin dime. “sigh”. There were football games, “rush”parties given by school fraternity, Trapper Nelson excursions, and  endless hours of just talking, and eating my grandmother’s wonderful food! I lived across the street from Palm Beach High School so in the afternoon when the bell rang and we hit the sidewalk the aromas would draw our friends to the covered patio where we all hung out telling secrets, doing homework, and hoping to share grandma’s cooking. Once Buddy and I went to a rush pool party about three miles from my home . When it got rained out we didn’t have a ride so we walked the whole three miles holding hands and not speaking a word. At the time I had never felt so close to anyone. Words were not necessary. This was the real Buddy Reynolds who-when we were alone-was a quiet, caring friend. But the minute a third person entered the scene He was on stage! It was also not the man he became nor I believe the man he is now.

After two marriages, college, six children, and about twenty years I returned home to Florida where Buddy and I met again and they Walked Together found a home. The true story continues in the next post. Pray that I get faster at writing and typing!

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INSIGHT AND THEY WALKED TOGETHER

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Above is the original oil painting: They Walked Together and one of several preliminary drawings that I polished and published as a Limited Edition print with the title of They Walked Together Drawing.

In a previous post I recommended a procedure to “Push Past Your Creative Block” I emphasized time, place and steps to help you with the discipline and grit required for any creative project. Here I want to stress another aspect that I touched upon briefly: Insight.

Very often artist’s will sketch preliminary drawings to help them fine tune planning for a major oil. While evaluating these drawings helps you to move closer to the finished painting each one also represents a stopping point where you know that you are not quite there and you have hit a roadblock. At this point you need more insight but you can sit there and stare all night at the problem without making progress. The best thing to do at this point is to walk away and do anything else. Take a walk, take a nap, go fishing, pull weeds in the garden, or bake a cake! Do anything that keeps your mind away from the problem. Drink a beer, Relax, and have fun! Usually the insight will come out of the blue when you are NOT thinking about the problem. Suddenly an idea comes to mind and that is when you get your butt back to the project and get to work. I tell my students to work only until they are tired or have not made any progress for some time and I do as I say.

To illustrate: The oil painting above was completed after several drawings during which I reached the point of frustration and walked away but each break resulted in a new idea. For example, the drawing above was produced using my youngest daughter’s hand as the model. It was progress but not quite what I wanted to say. The insight came when I realized that this daughter was very independent and strong-willed. You can see these traits already in this very young hand. While I loved and admired these attributes I wanted a hand that conveyed the impression of dependency so as to contrast with the rough strength of the male hand. The youngest daughter used to take her sister by the hand and guide her through the dark night to the bathroom. So I used the hand of the second daughter as the model. Still, I really liked this sketch and later polished it up to a finished drawing and printed it as a Limited Edition which sold very well and was prefered by many. Another insight was to turn the hands from the side to the front emphasising the contrast still more. There is a final drawing executed before the oil was started but it sold many years ago before I started keeping a record of sales.

The painting and the drawing above have been used many times for programs like Elder Care Services and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. Nothing pleases me more than to have my artwork used to further these causes. They Walked Together was the first painting where I used hands to symbolize a visual message. Since then they appear in much of my work over the years. I paint and draw whatever I am passionate about from facial portraits to flowers, animals, Landscapes, and anything else that blows me away and makes me want to show what I see and feel to others. The hands are a signature part of most of these subjects.

Yes, I need to tell you about who bought that painting and I will do so in the next post titled: They Walked Together finds a Home.

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THEY WALKED TOGETHER

An original oil painting by June Pauline Zent

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This painting was inspired by watching my daughter walking with her grandfather on a sunny spring afternoon. It occurred to me that just the hands alone were rich in symbolism to convey the essence of my feelings about this scene.

As with many of my paintings this one has a history of true stories. A few are a bit fantastic but true non the less. When relating them some people look aghast as if thinking that they were conjured by yours truly. To combat this impression I have always photographed checks for commissioned and purchased originals. In addition all correspondence both personal and business have been saved as proof and also as an accurate record of my work. The reader is welcome to request proof of these true stories.

In the beginning this canvas was set up on a table easel in my kitchen where I alternately cooked and painted and sometimes both simultaneously. The work was about three-fourths finished on a snowy Sunday morning while I was busy at the stove. A full ashtray was sitting just below the painting; not exactly good technique, when one of my then four kids took a deep breath and blew ashes all over the painting. You have heard that most artists have a temper and mine was boiling! I shouted ” If you don’t want me to paint then I wont!” Grabbing the canvas I stomped to the back door and heaved it out into the snow. My husband, who was an ardent fan ran outside and rescued it. After he blew off the snow and ash it was in perfect condition. He squirreled it away out of my sight and the “Drama Queen” completed the dinner crying all the while. Later he packed up the canvas and all of my equipment in the car, handed me the keys to a volunteered dental office and said, ” Go and finish this painting”. The lighting in that office was wonderful as was the blessed quiet. I painted away and the work was finished by morning thanks to a very caring husband!

This work was first publicly shown at a sidewalk art show on Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg, Virginia. when the show date arrived I was in labor with our third son in the hospital. True to his nature Courtney hauled the artwork to Williamsburg and  sat up the display at the show. The painting won Best of Show, First Place Oil, and the Peoples Choice Award. Then he rushed back to the hospital to announce the win and see his new son! There was even an article in the newspaper the next day heralding his gallantry. Copy saved!

The canvas was a part of my display in several more shows winning more awards and because people seemed to relate to it so much I decided to publish a limited Edition Print of 2,000 images which eventually sold out. Recently I have produced with the new technology a Limited Edition Gicle’e Print because I continue to receive request for this image. You will be surprised to learn who purchased the original oil and the stories that continue about this painting. Writing is not exactly my medium. You might have guessed that! It is slow and painfully done but as you will see if you return these stories need to be told and I am the only person who qualifies to relate them. Please come back for more about They Walked Together in the next post.

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FLOWERS FOR YOU

The images on this post are all original artwork by yours truly. I hope that YOU enjoy them.

 

 SONGS OF ROSES I oil on linen board

SONGS OF ROSES II

RAIN KISSED LOTUS BLOSSOM  Colored pencil on linen board

A LIGHT CARESS  Oil on linen board

 RHODODENDRON  Soft pastel on linen board

IRIS ALIVE   oil on canvas

WILD AZALEA AT HOME  colored pencil on linen board

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The Tomato That Could

THE TOMATO THAT COULD

by June Pauline Zent  Published in Mother Earth News several years ago 

 When the first freeze hit North Florida last year I ventured out into my little paradise dreading to see the cherished tomato plants and other vegetables shriveled up and dieing. It usually takes me at least two weeks to recover from this loss. But wait, I was startled to see one little tomato still defiantly upright with all its leaves intact. I had planted it as a cutting from an heirloom that I was partial to but really thought I was too late for it to outrun the frost. “Well, I said – yes I talk to plants- if you are so determined to live I will help you out.” So I found a large pot and carefully transplanted my little saving grace. I placed the pot by the dirt road in the sunniest spot and built a small wire fence around it to keep the armadillos at bay. Every morning I checked the weather forecast and brought Grace into the house when cold threatened taking her back out again on warm sunny days. She thrived and harbored no bugs or worms although no blooms came. I have to say she saved the winter from being the usually gloomy months of the year.

 

Time passed and I started my usual 100 plus vegetable seeds under grow lights. I always think that some will not germinate but they all do! However I have not got the heart to terminate extras so in late March all were planted in the garden. Grace was still potted by the road because of my fear that she was too big now to move without killing her. Then my surveying son with his huge truck surprised me with a visit. I proudly showed off Grace to him. Later at dinner he was unusually quiet and I asked what was wrong. He said, “Mom I am scared to tell you this but I didn’t see your tomato plant when I looked for a place to park the truck. I am sorry but I ran over it.” I rushed outside and there she was splattered on the ground pot and all! Oh, it was heart stopping but I gathered it up, found another pot, consoled my son, and hoped for the best!

 Grace was not to be deterred and began to grow again. Mustering my courage I found a large area in the back of the garden, added compost and organic fertilizer, and took the plunge to transplant her. In one months time she grew to the top of the fence so I added a six-foot pole and tied her up around it. It is April 27th. and she is full of blooms and tomatoes large and small. Check out the Picture of the biggest, most productive tomato plant that I have ever helped to grow! She is truly  THE TOMATO THAT COULD!

 

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How to Outsmart Critters in Your Veggie Garden

 Front of  fall garden showing inside fences photo

Most People believe that wild animals lack intelligence when compared to humans. I have to respect any animal who can outsmart you, and I have never been more challenged than trying to harvest organic vegetables before the wild critters have the opportunity. If you live in the woods like me it takes a while to learn that the native occupants and their ancestors have been here for an eternity compare to you. They are survivors on their own turf and have developed strategies that will take you a long time to circumvent. Your veggie garden is like an extra desert: fair, delicious, and convenient.

One of my first invaders was the lovely doe eyed deer who eat almost everything. Unless you have a garden in the sky your tasty goodies are an oasis in the middle of the difficult to grub a meal forest. I live on twelve acres with only my home and garden cleared so they can invade from any angle. At first when I saw a mother and her twins laying on the grass and basking in the sun it was a catch your breath moment. Then mamma got up and proceeded to strip my just planted rose-bush of flowers and leaves. I opened the kitchen window and yelled. They ran for the woods so I retired thinking that the problem was solved. the next morning I was greeted by a stick instead of a rose-bush. Yes,they also eat the tender branches thorns and all! Deer are sneaky. One year they will take out your roses, camellias, and day lilys. The next year they might remain untouched lulling you into complacency. You never know what their plant de jour will be!

I put up a six-foot high hog wire fence to protect the veggie garden and along the fence line were carefully planted green beans. At one point I became obsessed with them and actually counted each one when they emerged until there were so many that I had to acknowledge my stupidity. One morning I grabbed a basket and headed out because it was time to harvest some of these beauties. Imagine my horror when I saw every plant stripped of beans and leaves over night! But that’s not all: my huge fence turned out to be no challenge when the other veggies got high enough to munch.

My husband used to say ” If you want to get someones goat just watch where he ties it.” I began to watch the deer and noticed that they could jump any fence but did not jump when there was a obstacle on the other side. They will stop, look at it, and reroute to avoid it. How to design a fence that deer will not jump in spite of the deserts inside was the question.

Tomatoes, beans, peppers and other veggies require support like staking. News flash: I could solve two problems at once. Here is what works to banish the deer and to provide plant support. Surround your garden with a very sturdy fence then take metal fence post of the same hight and bury them about six-foot inside of the main fence leaving a walk space on one side. Now attach the same sturdy wire post to post. Continue this same pattern the entire length of your garden. You can plant on either side of the fences and have a walk space in the middle as well. Your veggies can climb and be supported and the deer will not be impaled by jumping the fence. Here’s why: They know where they can safely navigate! I have actually watched from a window while as many as three deer stood looking at the fence, then looking at each other, and finally walking off.

Photo of fall garden side showing inside fences.

To protect your trees and bushes you can fashion a mini version until they are too tall for deer to reach. You only need wire a few feet high and about three feet from the trunk; just enough so that critters cannot reach over but close enough to the trunk to detour deer from jumping. If you use hogwire cut it in widths of about three feet with the cut leaving five inches that you can push into the ground forming a circle around the plant. Works like a charm for armadillos, possums, and home-grown chickens too!

“Good Fences make good neighbors” and I do know what I am fencing out! However, some critters are experts at climbing; for example raccoons and squirrels have no problem at all. Both seem to really enjoy fresh veggies. I started seeing broccoli chewed off at the top and cabbage leaves lying on the ground. The Georgia collards were also a target. It’s a mystery how you can plant all of the onions and garlic that you want because they wont be touched. Makes you wonder why they are so good for us! Anyway, I couldn’t figure out what critters were dining regularly. I looked for prints in the dirt. Nothing! At first raccoons came to mind because they usually find a way to circumvent any obstacle and a fence is a piece of cake. But wait, mixing cayenne pepper and garlic to sprinkle over the flowers and leaves should do the trick. What a total bust; they didn’t mind it at all. Ok, next I sat a armadillo trap inside of the main fence and baited it with a bowl of nuts and fruit. Sure enough even before dawn I heard a racket in the garden. There was a huge raccoon mad as hell and rattling the cage furiously! He had dug up all of the dirt underneath and was alternating between digging and hanging upside down and shaking the dickins out of the cage. When he saw me he began to hiss and growl, reaching his hand out to me like a challenge for me to come near. Of course I was not only a safe distance away but was outside of the main fence. I said “Ok mister tough guy lets see how you feel after a few hours of throwing sand at the wind and wasting your energy.”

Checking on him periodically he seemed to be winding down. Upon the last check this is what I saw: He was sitting on his haunches with his arms down to his side. He had the most wide-eyed, mournful, and repented look on his face that I had to run to the house to fetch the camara. the photo that you see next was the result!

I had to let this sad guy out so grabbing a heavy steel rake I hooked it to the cage handle and slowly pulled him out of garden turning the door to face the woods. It took  me a few minutes to gather the courage because you have to reach over the top of the cage and lift the door by HAND. I like my hands so I fetched a wheelbarrow and placed it over the top then reached over and pulled the door open. Bam! He was out of the cage and hauling butt through the woods in seconds.

I relaxed thinking that the problem was off in the woods never to return. The next morning devastation greeted me again! Time to reflect: It wasn’t the coon and since there were no tracts I began to think about smaller critters like rabbits or squirrels. Rabbits no because they sit and chew; this raider ripped off leaves but only ate the part that humans like. Frustrated I visited the local home supply store and bought a big roll of chicken wire, laid it out on the ground, and cut it into lengths long enough to drape over the inside fences and reach the ground. Then I secured them with pins in the dirt completely enclosing the plants.Do you know how hard it is to weed, water, and harvest when you have to take apart chicken wire cages? It gives you a nagging back ache and many painful scratches from the wire. Still, it mostly worked. Only once in a while I found some limited damage and had to shore up the cages.

After long hours of working in the yard I often overturn a bucket and just sit there admiring the great outdoors. One day I saw some movement in the tall grass near the garden. It might be a snake I thought, and held very still. Guess what? The biggest bushest fattest squirrel was sneaking flat on his belly toward the garden. He reached the fence, scrambled to the top and down the other side. There was the elusive culprit! I yelled and he retreated the same way only faster. Well, what to do about this marauder who in hindsight did not leave tracts and played with the veggies more than he ate them by ripping off leaves for fun. I thought about what I had on hand to thwart his climbing. Rose bushes with long thorns which I had plenty of seemed like a good idea. I had to wear gloves to handle them so squirrel fir would be very venerable. Besides the bushes needed trimming so I spent the entire day strapping them on the top with plastic trimming string.

This turned out to be no deterrent to Fatso and another disappointment for me. Sitting outside again I saw him  sneaking through the grass. But this time he stretched himself  through one of the three by four-inch openings in the fence. Why didn’t I think of that? This occasioned another visit to the home and garden store. I bought the owls with red eyes and a movement sensor that emitted a high-pitched sound that only critters could hear. The service man mentioned an electric fence but it was pricey so I put it on hold. However, when the latest plan failed I dropped the necessary bundle and installed the wire all the way around the outside of the garden twice. There were plastic poles about five foot long placed at intervals with the wire attached. I placed the first wire only three inches from the ground and the second about three inches higher. This would shock any invader trying to navigate through the bottom or trying to climb over the top.The unit is battery operated and works for months without changing them out. Also it has an intermittent hum that assures you its operating. There is also a grounding pole that was a bitch to drive into the ground but anything to stop this guy or girl cold! The best part is that it doesn’t damage the animals; it’s just very unpleasant as my chickens can attest to. If you have never seen a chicken get a slight shock and run squawking across the yard to tell her friends you have missed a laughing moment! They don’t go near it anymore. Who says that chickens are stupid?

I am here to promise you that this system works! I pulled down the chicken wire cages which made working in the garden much more pleasant, and nothing has bothered my veggies since. So the moral of the story is: The RIGHT fences do make good neighbors of the wild critters and the domestic ones!

Posted in Organic Gardening | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

Pushing Past Your Creative Block

LIGHTS GOLDEN HOUR  an original oil on canvas painting by June Pauline Zent

 

 We are waiting patiently for our muse, not in the creative mood, or praying for inspiration to drop in unannounced. In addition there are more pressing issues to resolve like chores that have been procrastinated before we allow ourselves to indulge in a luxury that is not a requirement. Conjure all of the excuses that you can imagine. Face it, you are blocked and guess what? You did it yourself! Another deturment is the recognition that creative effort is the most difficult work that anyone can undertake. You know that because the last project was a struggle from the beginning to the last word, brushstrokes, or whatever! And what about that old bug a boo sitting on your shoulder whispering, “Are you sure that this isn’t a total disaster? ” Or, ” What if you finish and it is not significant to anyone including YOU ? Horrors! It takes very real tenacity to struggle on past that natural inclination to abandon this work that is overwhelmingly difficult.

You’ve been there, done this with success so perhaps your ego lets you plow past your doubts but you’re still sitting there waiting for inspiration as if it were a gift and not an elective choice. Here are some steps to help you move past your roadblocks.

1.  Select a special place to create your masterpiece. It can be any room in your home or outside away from it. Just not sitting at your computer ONLINE which is loaded with opportunities to contribute to the creativity of others, not yours. Your special place should be off-limits to anyone else. Everything placed there should be your exclusive domain. Hands off to all inquisitive explorers or compulsive organizers. If your place is messy ? So what, you know where everything is! If it is neat to an extreme you know even better where to put your hands on what you require. My daughter had a large poster tacked to the inside of her room door with a cute picture of a pig. The caption said, ” Clean Rooms Suck ! ” I respected that opinion. Another daughter’s room was very nearly perfectly organized right down to the bed being made every morning. She also had my respect.  They are both grown now and both very creative people. Your chosen space doesn’t even have to be a room of your own; it can be a screened off portion, or out in the garage, or any other place where you can claim exclusive occupation.

2.  Think about the time that you regularly invest before you arrive in that zone where you lose your worries and begin making progress. Add a minimum of one hour beyond that point. When my kids were young my feet hit the floor at 4:00 AM. Their awake time was 6:00. That gave me two precious hours in my garage studio with the door closed whaling away at a canvas or drawing furiously on a linen board. some times I just sat in blessed quiet thinking about what I wanted to say, or planning the project, and gathering reference material. Your creative block of time can be any part of a day or night when you will not be distracted by phone calls, emails, crying babies, or needy spouses. It can be once a month, or a week , or every day, but establish that pattern. Also keep in mind that sleep is a healer for your mind and body. It also recharges your creative imagination. So if your time block is in the morning go to bed early or vice versa. Remember that nothing about creative effort is easy including keeping yourself in condition to exercise it.

3.  Write down a sequential list of steps that you must accomplish before you begin to work and perform them every time you reach your time block. For example: Before I paint I set up an easel and place a fresh canvas or one in progress where I always paint. Next I haul out tubes of paint, brushes pallet,mediums, lighting,and all of the reference material selected. The final step for me is to turn the music on. I have always worked with music blaring and often if a vocal I will sing along. It never fails: I will set to work as soon as the music is turned on and sometimes catch my hand moving to the beat on the canvas. It’s like gathering the ingredients, preparing the meal, setting the table, placing food on your plate, and picking up the fork which is like music the trigger. You are darn sure going to eat now!

The steps that you select must be followed every time you reach your time slot. We are all creatures of pattern. That’s what the cerebellum evolved to accomplish; sequential patterns are stored there to allow movement and thought to proceed smoothly without unlearning every step in the process of execution. Walking is the product of having previously learned sequential steps and practiced them to the point where the movement is smooth and not consciously edited. Thank goodness for the cerebellum! Think of how useful it is even in emergencies. If a car was speeding at you walking in its path you would not have to debate your action; You would haul butt in the direction of safety without thinking. Of corse adrenalin comes in handy too! This same ability can be applied to help you push through your creative block. Some would opinion that this process is nothing more than old-fashioned discipline. Not really! You are not forcing yourself  to write or anything else. You are establishing a pattern that if followed enough triggers your will and inspiration to write! It bypasses all of the roadblocks that are really excuses like self-doubt and places you in that zone where you can make real progress.

Dancing, acting, sculpting, painting, writing, etc. whatever your passion is this works! So find and prepare your special place where you will ALWAYS work. Establish your day and time allowance. Write down and follow ALL of your steps EVERY time. You will push through that block surprising yourself and everyone else with what you can accomplish!

 

Posted in Creative Suggestions | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments