Wednesday, May 20, 2015


I seriously don't know how these things happen but they do and they happen to me...the weird, the strange, the unusual, the hilarious...and they usually become legend in and outside of our family.  Now before the Handyman can broadcast it far and wide I will tell the tale on myself.  It all began innocently enough...
We have a piece of property we are putting up for sale (nothing unusual about that, people sell property all the time) so we contacted our real estate agent to set up a meeting to discuss the sale and get the paperwork started (again, nothing usual about that, its part of the process).

Setting the scene:  A gorgeous spring day with a wonderful breeze scented with the fragrance of fresh cut lawn.  Song birds twitter and flutter across the hay fields.  The mountains are putting on a colorful show of new green and lush blooms.  A wee brown bunny nibbles at fresh foliage at the edge of the lawn.  A perfect day in the countryside.
The agent arrives and we discuss the property and are taking a little tour when out of the field and right near our feet slithers a 5 foot long black snake.  An exclamation of "Oh my!" issues forth from the Handyman who stands there calmly, the real estate agent shivers and shimmies from head to toe and gurgles, "Bwah..ugh...ewww!" (or something like that), I let out a yelp that echoed off the mountains and shot off in the opposite direction of the object of our mutual dislike.

While the Handyman is trying to shoo the slinky slithering snake back into the field, the agent decides she wants a closer look at him and goes in for a peek with her camera, I stay on my perch very far away.  (This is a very bad sign of things to come, she wanted a closer look, well little did she know she was about to get one...we all were)  Not wanting a close up Mr. Snake decided to hide out is a thick patch of mint. 
I direct everyone away and around to the front door where we go inside to do the paper work needed to start the sale process.  We get the business out of the way and then settle in for a visit, for not only is she our agent, she is also a friend.  After catching up she is ready to head home and as is the custom here in the South, the long goodbye begins.  

First everyone stands up as conversation continues where as group you meander to the door.  Then you congregate on the porch as you all gradually make your way down the steps all the while still having lively conversation.  A drawn out strolling procession ensues to the mode of transportation where hugs and handshakes are shared.  The leave takers settle themselves inside while a door is left open or a window is rolled down, goodbyes are called, well wishes of safe travel, waves, smiles, and hope to see you soon's are shared back and forth over the sound of the motor.  A slow tangible pulling away begins, physical separation, that is felt with both space and emotion as any good visit always ends, wishing it was longer and more often.  Both leave takers and those left behind part chatting about all their favorite parts of the visit because, lawd! we Southerners like our long goodbyes.  (or at least that was what was supposed to happen, here comes the weird unusual part)
The Handyman is standing at the door, hand on knob, ever the ready gentlemen to allow ladies to exit first.  Our guest/friend/agent is heading for the door.  I bring up the rear of our little parade.  We are staggered across the room and I have the best vantage point of the door as the Handyman is opening it, looking back over his shoulder, and talking, the real estate agent is responding, and I am for some unknown reason am focused on the exit.  Everything suddenly time warped, I swear it was slow motion and instant fast forward all in one turn of a door knob.

The knob turns, the door opens, a new guest arrives...remember that snake I mentioned earlier, the one lurking in the mint patch out back?  He was coming right on in the front door!  He is literally right by the Handyman's foot just out of the agents sight and right in my sight line.  I let out a banshee whoop that made my native american ancestors proud, alerting the Handyman of the intruder all the while doing a perfect pirouette while moving faster than greased lightning past the stunned agent, around the corner, wedging myself on the kitchen counter by the coffee pot.  I turn my head just in time to see the shocked agent twirl in a circle, reach for the kitchen table, draw back, start to run, hit the wall, and land in a heap on the floor.  My discombobulated mind thought in all naivete that I was safe by the coffee pot but she had done got got!  The Handyman stands there calm as a cucumber and shuts the door enough to hold the uninvited guest in check.  
He yells at me to quickly bring him a broom.  I yell back in a minute as I am trying to extricate myself from the awkward wedge dive onto the counter.  The agent  is strangely silent as she picks herself up off the floor looking rather dazed.  I get the broom, round the corner and see 3 feet of writhing angry hissing snapping snake in the living room.  I threw the broom at the Handyman and made an exit, stage left!

The door opens, broom not needed to encourage guest to leave, he puts it in reverse quick enough and has the nerve to think he can slither up on, rest, and recover on the porch furniture!  (and I thought I was safe up high on the coffee pot shelf)  The Handyman is no Southern gentleman at this point but strongly encourages the unwanted guest to leave, post haste!  Mean while back in the house the agent and I stand in stunned silence looking at one another as the Handyman comes back in.  The frayed nerves and the ridiculousness of the situation hit us all at the same time and we roar with laughter.
Once the tears of laughter dry we try to dissect exactly what happened.  Handyman said he heard my warning scream of garbled whoop and "snake coming in the door" as he saw my backside flash around the corner and the agent crumple in a heap to the floor.  The agent said I scared the dickens out of her with the loudest scream she has ever heard and had never seen anyone run so fast in all her life swearing I broke some sort of sound and speed record.  She looked at me accusatory and could not determine if I pushed her out of the way or if her shoe gripped the floor as she turned to run and hit the wall falling into a heap.  And the snake, well he was just looking for a cool piece of property to inhabit and got much more than he bargained for.

After sufficient recovery we ushered the agent off with a parting gift of a huge bouquet of fresh garden flowers, profuse apologies, the memory of a lifetime, and the Southern tradition of the long goodbye.
On the way home in the silence of the truck spontaneous fits of laughter burst forth from either the Handyman or I.  Sleep last night was hard coming because we got so tickled we laughed until we cried...again.  All the while we wondered if we still had an agent or a friend.  I guess we do, got a text from her this morning, she already got a call on the property.

And so another Miss Sandy Misadventure legend begins, I hear the Handyman on the phone regaling the tale...

blessings and smiles,

P.S.  What do these pics have to do with this post, absolutely nothing, my camera and I have been doing a study of all things green, its my favorite color and all these photo contain varying shades of green.  Hows that for some randomness? 

Thursday, May 14, 2015


Tenacity: to firmly hold fast to something
Determination: firmness of purpose
Perseverance:  steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success

Life lessons often come to me in the odd moments when I am most unaware that one approaches but most keenly aware they were meant for me after they have unfold.  I have a tendency to be an observer and that is most often the way I learn.  A week ago I learned a lesson in tenacity, determination, and perseverance in which I was the object in the lesson, unaware of the approach or my role in it yet keenly aware of the encouraging message after the event unfolded.
(Paddling past the boat docks in the bay)

My newest favorite outdoor activity is kayaking...who knew I was a kayaking kind of gal...I love it!  And that is how my lesson began.  For one glorious week the Handyman and I glamped on the beach and kayaked in the serene bay, marshy estuaries, and the salty sea.  All week long I had been eyeing a little stretch of islands that can only be reached by kayak because the water grows quite shallow in areas and sandbars rise up in others.  I wanted ever so badly to explore that little group of islands but I felt too inexperienced and afraid to leave the windbreak of the bay and cross the waving sea alongside the towering bridge in deep deep waters to reach the coveted spot as I had seen others do.
(Skirting the edge of the bay around to the bridge.)

This particular day we had paddled out into the bay and skirted the shore line alongside the boat docks, stopping on a little stretch of beach to look at shells, paddling past a small row of summer rentals, past another set of docks, curving around another small beach, with the end of one section of the bay bridge coming into sight.  As I sat there bobbing around looking at that island the idea rooted itself firmly in me that I should at least try to reach my coveted goal.  With firmness of purpose I looked at the Handyman and said, "Let's do this!"  He asked me if I was sure, I said no I was scared but I was going to do it anyway.  This is completely out of my character.
(Rest stop on a shallow sandbar.)

I fixed my eye on my landing target point, with a mighty power stroke of the paddle and lifting of prayer, I left the safety of the sheltered bay and launched myself into a literal sea of uncertainty.  The waves were no longer gentle and kind but brisk and billowy.  Paddling took precision and concentration to keep on course.  Directional changes and course corrections had to be made many times while keeping my eye on my goal.  About halfway across my muscles began to burn and tire and the wind kicked up causing the waves to increase.  I could feel my pulse throb in my neck and hear my heartbeat over the sound of the sea.  I had a choice, I could quit, turn around, and go back to the windbreak sheltered safety of the shallow bay or I could persevere despite the difficulty of wind, waves, and weariness and push on to reach my goal.
(Landing on the coveted island under the bridge.)

I cannot explain what happened next but a dogged determination rose up in me, an internal strength and desire to do what I set out to do.  The Handyman was behind me and he said all of the sudden he could not keep up as I power paddled across the ocean.  All the way across the Handyman would ask me if I was going to make it or did I want to turn back. I kept saying no that I wanted to go a little but further, each time he asked my response was the same, no I still wanted to go on.   I kept seeing that little island come closer and closer until finally like a crab I scuttled up on the sandbar, raising my paddle over my head with both arms and letting out a victory roar, I did it!  Once my rubbery arms and legs were on shore I turned around to see how far we had come from our launch point, which was barely a pin point in my vision.  I stood amazed and proud and victorious...and then I groaned...realizing we had to paddle all the way back!
(The red "x" in the photo shows our launch point, we determined it was about a 3 mile paddle.)

After downing a bottle of water, resting, shelling, and taking a few photos we decided it was time to return.  This time there was no skirting the shore, sheltering in the bay, or avoiding the wind and waves, only paddling off into the deep end setting out for a new goal.  This time it was easier even though I had to paddle just hard, watch my course just as carefully, and fight fatigue, I had the thrill of victory under my belt (or life jacket in this case) to spur me on.
(My big beautiful shell trophy from the island)

This is what I learned:
I can do far more than I think I am capable of if I hold fast to my goal with determination (and prayer) despite any difficulty or delay at achieving success which in turn can spur me on the next goal.  More often than not goals cannot be reached in a day.  I could not reach that island in one paddle stroke but with many of the same repeated strokes over and over and over again as I inched forward toward my goal.  My journey across the ocean, like achieving a goal, is not easy, you have to work hard, chart and follow your course, and fight discouragement and fatigue along the way but I have to tell, the victory whoop at the end is exhilarating and well worth the effort!
(Paddling into the sunset, back to our launch point, goal achieved!)

Wishing you all tenacity, perseverance, and determination on your journey whatever it may be!


P.S.  If you want to follow daily postings from Quill Cottage Studio, just friend me on Facebook!

Thursday, April 16, 2015


 Wandering the woodlands around my home is a favorite past time.  I often garner inspiration for my artwork during these treks, then find ways to interpret what I see through paint, stitch, and wire.  I have had this fanciful textile idea in my sketchbook for quite some while now.  Mushrooms inspired by photos taken last autumn...
Pounded and stitched leaves that have been in my stash since November of 2007, the natural plant dye has held its color well...
 I did a little stitching to loosely mimic Smartweed, taking liberty with the leaves which are actually lance-shaped.  A found, hatched, Polyphemus cocoon and its wings (left overs from a birds meal and enhanced with paint back in the summer of 2013) make a nice natural elements to enhance the design...   
Soft fibers imitate the moss that carpets the forest floor.  These are just a few of the woodland wonders that will embellish my new textile artwork. 


Friday, April 10, 2015


Usually an artist treats their work with kid gloves, a tender touch, a loving look, with the utmost of care.  That is not what happened here.  I did a nature themed canvas piece that was used as a demo for an art lesson for children to show how I used elements from nature in artwork.  It was sort of a Naturalist collection of specimens and finds.  I was asked to do this on short notice and had to put something together quickly that I thought would generate interest from the children.  I was not exactly happy with the results but it was the best I could do on short notice.
After the lesson I put the canvas in a corner of the studio where it sat gathering dust for several months.  Every time I looked at it I thought, "I don't like that."  One day while cleaning the studio I decided to take it apart, salvaging the parts I liked to reuse in a future project and toss the rest.
I put the canvas base outside intending to toss it on the burn pile and promptly forgot about it. It got dusty and wished it had a bath. Its wish was granted as it got rain soaked then it longed to be warm and dry. Its longing was fulfilled as it became sun beaten and parched wishing it was cool.  Another wish attained, it was buried in ice and snow where it once again desired to be warm and dry.  Wild winds blew it dry and fallen leaves blanketed it where it rested, faded, crackled, and tattered. 
While blowing all the leaves off of and around the back deck I unearthed the canvas.  My first thought was, "Holy Cow!  I like that!"  then I wondered if it was ruined.  I peeled away the sodden collage backing and a few dirty hanging bits, gave the whole thing a quick brush off, tested the canvas to find it was tight and in great condition despite it rude treatment and placed it lovingly back in the studio for a thorough cleaning.
Its resting on an easel where I can look at it with loving looks and arrange elements on its perfect surface with a tender touch and the utmost care as I dream of what it will eventually become.  This is not how to treat your artwork but I am pleading the Bob Ross philosophy on this one, "We don't make mistakes, we just have happy accidents."   


Monday, April 6, 2015


I have been trying to cross post my new work between Facebook (where I try to do a quick daily post) and here on the blog (where I seem to be doing randomly times posts) so posts will not be repeats but I failed to do so on these projects...if you have seen these on Facebook you may be excused and my apologies for the repeat :) If not, I invite you to take a peek at my newest metal mania...
This is the first piece I designed myself and used some of my newly acquired metalsmithing skills, a wee wire bird cage.  It is a bit wonky here and there but I love it.  
This bird cage that looks quite simple but let me tell you I poured seat over this thing for hours before I got a finished product.  I would connect one thing and when I had to reheat to make another connection something else would come loose, such is the nature of the beast of this type of metal connection.  I found it requires a lot of forethought so you don't undo what you just did. 
I decided to turn it into a lariat style pendant...
I gave it the wear test the other day and I wore it too long, it captured my heart and now I must keep it.

Having had enough of welding wire for the moment I moved on to fill a couple of the beginner bezels I had previously made (which I also forgot to post here)...
I began with the large house shaped bezel.
I wanted to find a way to incorporate my nature photography into some of the bezels and make pendants with them.  I found a photo I took of an owl that was nesting in our owl box in the back yard and encased it in resin...
I created a vine from various wires to simulate the vine growing up the tree trunk...
And fashioned a "leaf" like roof...
Lastly I connected a bail and collaged a created quote onto the back of the piece...
I set my sights on spring for the next piece.  This photo of a robin was the very last photo I took of my childhood play area in the backyard of the house I grew up in the day we closed the house and put it up for sale.  I sealed the photo in resin...
Created a multi-metal layered base...
And did my first ever cast metal piece from a twig I picked up in my yard, hand fashioning metal leaves, and vine like bail...
I am taking a small break from all this metal mania to step outside my studio into the great outdoors, where Dame Spring is gracing us with her arrival, for new inspiration.  But, I'll be back!


Friday, April 3, 2015


"The Resurrection gives my life meaning and direction and the opportunity to start over no matter what my circumstances."

~ Robert Flatt ~

May your Easter be filled with meaning, guidance for new direction, and gratitude for the opportunity for new beginnings.  A blessed Easter to you all my sweet friends.

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