Friday, June 23, 2017

Garden Art and Blogging

It was July of 2003 and two of our sons were home from college and working on a red metal roof job with their dad and older brother out in the country.

The boys were fascinated by all the garden art at this beautiful farmhouse.

I loved hearing about it all and wished they had taken more photos, but you can see the reflection of the red roof in the round mirror. I hope the beads kept birds from flying into it.

Zack liked this farmer taking a rest from his chores.

Maybe Defee thought he was Rodin's The Thinker?

I remembered these photos this week when I was reading one of my vintage magazines, a June 1965 House & Garden. The theme of this issue was "The Delights of Summer At Home," and it made this Autumn, Winter and Spring aficionado fall head over heels in love with Summer for the first time since I was a schoolgirl set free from lessons and homework.

Two pages celebrated garden art and one photo took me back to the fun our older two children had playing in their sandbox. I don't think our younger two had one--do kids play in sandboxes anymore?

I would love to have this one for my granddaughters, a canopy of roses above their heads and a large stone turtle nanny to sit upon.

House & Garden said that "one playful conceit can make a summer" and that this gingerbread dog below was perhaps awaiting a calico cat.

I think they had him mixed up with the gingham dog and the calico cat, side by side at the table sat, but I've always loved pictures where a grand house has two stone or iron dogs in the garden. Tara Dillard believes the dogs should always face each other, not out. Wouldn't that be much more companionable?

At Valley View we had various pieces of garden art scattered around, mostly farm relics, all left there when we sold the place because they belonged there and were left in caring hands.

The only garden art when we moved here to our new home was a green rabbit that I brought inside to save for Easter tables and a little blue bird that I yanked up and threw aside one cold winter day after we moved in. It was only when a little granddaughter visited, spotted it and wanted it put back that I began to look at it as worthy of keeping.

Now I wouldn't dream of throwing it away. It keeps visiting songbirds company at the bird feeder that sits on top of an old well. The birds and squirrels and this little piece of garden art entertain me through my kitchen window.

Recently a piece of garden art came to live with us that has great sentimental value, a pineapple, symbol of hospitality.

This pineapple is at least 35 years old and was an unsold item from our family garden center, first owned by my father and then sold to RH and his brother Bill.

The pineapple sits below our front porch in front of a large rosemary bush.

We hoped that other herbs would surprise us in this bed but instead there are many succulents and odd little plants blooming successively.

There are also patches of this plant in the bed but there are many bare spots in the sea of old bark. We hope to fill the bed in with perennial herbs and more succulents, a few plants at a time.

Everything is a work in progress here.

For now my herbs are in pots on the kitchen porch, seen below through the storm door, handy for me to use.

Bill knew we had left all our garden pots behind when we moved and said we were welcome to the old garden center pots that were still at his house.

So these 35 year old Italian pots hold my herbs for now under some lathe to protect them from the sun that shines here almost all day long. That porch will get a pergola roof eventually, knock on wood, and hopefully the large smoker out by the fence will be moved someday. It detracts from the view to the neighbor's pond. 

Perhaps I should just pretend that it's a piece of garden art? I do love garden art. What about you? Anyone have an interesting piece of art in your garden?

I know Doreen does at that beautiful log cabin of theirs that is now up for sale.

Anyone else?

I started to say that plywood cutouts of dogs peeing in the garden don't count, but hey, a lady whose garden art is a concrete pineapple, however beloved, shouldn't set any rules, should she? 

That's the Garden Art part of this post, the Blogging part of it has not been as easy to write.

Rodin's Thinker has not been the only one a-thinking. The past few weeks while I've been missing from blogging have been a time of reflection for me.

And it's been a time of waiting. Are you a good wait-er? Isn't waiting the pits?

Is there anyone who likes to wait for a doctor's report, for lab work to come back?

Before you start thinking the worst, let me tell you right now that all is well.

But I've waited for lab work reports since an annual skin cancer exam recently turned up suspicious spots. And after I learned that once again I had squamous cell carcinomas to deal with, I waited to hear when I could see the surgeon, and then waited for the surgery and then waited for that lab report. 

Don't you just wish we could just smash cancer into smithereens? 

Decades ago I waited for a surgical breast biopsy for cancer. It was benign.

Then I waited for a hysterectomy because they thought I had ovarian cancer. That was a difficult wait but it was endometriosis, not cancer.

In 2004 I had Mohs surgery for squamous cell cancer on my face and nose.

Last fall in Florida I was told that a growth removed from my nose was most likely malignant. Nine days later the lab report showed that it was benign.

I was lucky last week after the surgery on my shoulder. The lab report said they got it all, it had not metastasized. It has not been fun but cancer is fun for no one. And I am very grateful for all the prayers of family and friends.

But it has been a time of thinking, of deciding what is important. And the answer to that is that each day God gives me is what is important, a day.

A gift to be used wisely.

During this time when it has hurt to type much or hold a laptop, I turned back to pencil and paper. I worked on the books I've been writing on for years. I finished editing one for the dozenth time, worked on others, spending hours and hours each day instead of stolen minutes.

Some of you have been through this with me before, back at Across the Way. I gave up blogging then, missed it, began Dewena's Window. I don't want to stop blogging again, but I do want to cut back on the time I spend on it.

So I'll be trying to post only a few times a month at Dewena's Window.

Ha! That's about all I've done anyway this last year, isn't it? Only now it will be by plan, not by procrastinating. So you won't have to wonder where in the world Dewena has been. I'll still be here, I'll just give in to being a slowpoke.

It's summer, a time I usually want to pass quickly, to get on to the wonderful months of autumn, then to the holidays, and then to spring. Poor hot summer, how I've neglected you. Not anymore. Cancer has a way of making you appreciate each month.

What do I want now? I want what all of us want. 

I want art in my garden, I want art in my home. 

On my table, on my plate. On my mind.

I want artful work.

I want an artful life and I want to enjoy it. And I guess I'm admitting that at my age it all takes time. Especially for a slowpoke like me.

Thank you so much for listening! I hope your summer and mine is filled with days of joy, with days of contentment....I just plain old hope it is full of days--a gift from God.

Much love to you all,


  1. You HAVE an artful life and soul. That has always come across no matter what blog you start, stop, begin anew. You are always an inspiration and much loved.

  2. WhooooHoooo! My computer allowed me to see this post! I'm so sorry to hear about your recent health care. I had a squamous skin cancer a couple years ago and understand about that waiting...lots of breast biopsies that scared me but ended well.
    Do I have Garden Art? I guess I consider my furniture, rugs, and pots of flowers garden art. I'm not fond of quirky metal figures...I just like creating color and pattern that welcomes people to sit under our trees. A hammock to pull out under the stars...

  3. This is a lovely post, Dewena. As I sit beside the bed of my mother-in-law, I am struck by how quickly the days, months, and years pass, and I am motivated more than ever to make the most of each moment.

    Waiting is indeed hard work. Waiting well is an art in itself.

    I love whimsical garden art and I think your concrete pineapple is not only whimsical, but elegant and lovely, too.

  4. Dewena, what a thoughtful post, and thank you for sharing yourself with us. I didn't know you had so many health scares throughout the years, I'm so sorry to hear that. It's a wise idea to just blog or write or create when you want to. And I will be here reading and commenting whenever you post. I love that you're planting herbs in your garden. Jess planted basil one time in a little pot right by her front porch, and she used it for cooking. The blue bird art in your garden is delightful. I love how you still have some of your vintage magazines and still read them today.

    Take care, my dear friend, and yes, I'm listening. : )

    love, ~Sheri

  5. Dewena, this post rings with so much truth. Life is precious, we're given so many hours a day, and we just have to decide what the most important things are going to be. As you know, I've been struggling with how to fit in blogging, too. I think that, like you, I'm going to continue my blog, but on my own time as the spirit moves me. I'm glad you are, too, because when I saw that you had a new post up today, it was like opening a letter from a good friend, that I hadn't heard from in a while. Understanding that it takes time to write, but so happy that we still get to keep in touch!

    It's hard to accept that there is Gift in even the ugly pain of cancer, but seizing the moment in each day is a gift indeed!

    Hugs to you.

  6. Hugs for you Dewena, My goodness you sure have had a time of it. I pray you are well and recovering fine. I like seeing garden art, home art, our own crafty art pieces too. I have had to sit around a lot lately and I really hate that. I like going, doing, and seeing. Take care of yourself, you are in y thoughts and prayers. xoxo, Bless you, Susie

  7. I love how photos can inspire us at different times in our lives. An album that hasn't been opened, perhaps in years, suddenly gets flipped through excitedly, searching for that specific photo that will put a smile on our face, as yours did for you, or bring a sigh of serenity, recalling the wonderful time it was taken.

    Your recent health challenge has propelled you into a time of reflection, which, in turn, led you to take action regarding your personal priorities. You have made some concrete decisions to make better use of your days with what pleases and inspires and fills you with joy.

    I am awaiting your own works of art with great anticipation, and believe that they will be of the 'Art imitates life' school of thought', illustrating the passion and dedication that dictate your days, while evoking familiar sentiments from all who adore it.

    Be well, my sweet friend.

    Sending love and prayers,

  8. You're such a sweet friend to include my link in your post Dewena. I'm so grateful for that, and for your genuine friendship.

    How interesting that you have old magazines. I was taken with the cover and thought that the topics could easily be used today.

    I've come to learn whatever we do in life has a time and a purpose. Above all else, balance is key, and I think you have known this all along.

    It's always a delight to read one of your posts, whether you decide to do so once a week, once a month or less. It's like opening up a Christmas present when I see it in my inbox, so go ahead and cut back, but don't ever stop. I still believe in Santa after all :)

  9. Dewena I commented the other day but came back after seeing your comment on Adriana Trigiani ....not sure which of her books are newer than ones that you have already read. I finished BIg Stone Gap, plowed through the 2nd in the trilogy ( read the 3rd already ) then read Lucia Lucia ( well we had a lot of rain and I couldn't put it down! :) ANYWAY one thing the library does not have and I noted on the dustjacket is a memoir that she wrote about her and her family and grandmothers. Dont Sing at the Table. If you haven't read that and your library doesn't have it I just ordered a used one from Amazon for around 5 bucks. I think my DIL might like it when I am done with it. Take care :)

  10. like so many other commenters here... that little rush when I see dewena of dewena' window has written a new post!
    and like our doreen says... it's like a Christmas present!
    because time has gone into it. it's quality over quantity.

    I especially love the pineapple and the bird bath where it is.
    and if that beautiful blonde boy is your zack you should know he is built exactly like my marine is now! it's uncanny that they look the same. the tan and all. well...
    the marine of course would point out that his face is definitely NOT zack's age! LOL.
    BUT! ...
    the thought of those boys of yours working up on that metal roof in the high heat of mid summer... I can't even imagine THAT at all!!! talk about courage! ohmygosh!

    and darling sister mine. how thankful I am that they 'got it all.' the best words in the world to hear and believe!

    your gift of art to this world is simply in your living of it! you have mastered the art of being kind. of living beautifully. and of sharing those arts with us!
    and we love you! tam ♥ and someday I plan to walk into barnes and noble and pick up your book and say... "i know the author you know!" XOXO

  11. Art is healing, even when we can only look at it in a book or online. I saw a sign that said, "Earth without art is only . . . eh." Glad you are feeling better. Take it easy. And I love the pineapple!

  12. Dear Dewena ~ this post was full of life and the joy of being content with each day we are blessed with.

    Life is precious, every moment of it, good and bad and everything in between. It's how we learn and grow. We have much to be thankful for.

    I love garden art, some of ours is quite funky.

    Have a wonderful summer ~ FlowerLady

  13. Dewena so glad this recent cancer scare is all good. Cancer is a nasty thing and it hurts to many. Glad your surgery went well and they got all the margains and it was clear. Power of prayers! Love! I love the garden art so whimsy and fun. Have a wonderful weekend my friend.

  14. I am always happy to see a post from you pop up on my feed, have a way with words that I so admire.

    I love the whimsy of the unexpected pieces we find in a garden. Turn a corner and a little fountain. Go around a hedge and find a stone statue. These 'little' things are part of the whole picture and beauty of a garden. Yes, garden art.

    I am relieved, no...ecstatic, that your biopsy was all good. It really is the waiting. So many hours and days for both my husband and myself. I truly wish that I could say that I greet each day as another blessing. Sometimes it's just human nature to worry and dwell on the negative. Then a post like yours comes along and I feel my heart opening.

    Tomorrow is another day...hurray for more art and more good days.

    Jane xxx

  15. Thank you for reminding me how precious life is... Your words bring back so clearly the way I felt five years ago after hearing the diagnosis of melanoma... the waiting for the staging... the plan... then the relief of hearing they got it all... there wouldn't be a need for chemo... How quickly we forget that sense of preciousness in each day, each breath, each smile, each expression of love... Thank you again for reminding me. I am so glad your outcome was good, Dewena. I will enjoy your writing... whenever. blessings and hugs to you, sweet lady. And, yes, I love art in the garden, the house, just the way we live our lives... may they be FULL of beauty! xoxo ~ tanna

  16. Dear Dewena, it seems we are thinking along the same lines these days. I took a blogging break last summer and it was the best thing I could have done. I actually thought about not coming back because blogging just takes so much time. But, like you, I missed it. Missed my friends. So I came back with a commitment to only blog no more than twice a week. And if I need a break, I take it. Life is so precious. I've already lost a spouse -- quite suddenly -- and not once during my grieving journey did I regret all the things I gave up in order to have more time with him. I'm glad your cancer scares have turned out to all be benign. What a blessing from God! No wonder you're doing so much reflecting on the days you have. I understand. God bless you. I loved this post. Just loved it. Hugs, Nancy

  17. I'm a lover of garden art, in small doses. I just found a charming vintage ladder that I put in mine. Useful and cute, all in one. What a great pineapple you have and a great story.

    Yes, life is precious, every moment of it. Health scares help us remember what's important. Prayers for you and it's always good catching up with what's going on in your world.

  18. I love reading your writings, Dewena. I feel like I just opened a lovely letter from an aunt or dear friend. I didn't know you were writing books. I hope you try to get them published or even do the self-publishing thing. I'd read them, that's for sure!

    I like garden art as long as there's not too much of it. I have an old ladder, a vintage stool and chair, a very heavy old iron piece leaning against the fence, a metal butterfly on a stake in the butterfly garden, but that's about it. I love that you have the pineapple from your family garden center. I'm assuming the garden center isn't in business anymore? As far as everything still being a work in progress there, I feel the same about our house and yard - and we've lived here 27 years! It's never-ending.

    I'm sorry to hear you've had so many cancer scares, and that your latest one involved removing the skin cancer from your shoulder. Thank God they got it all and that it hadn't metastasized.

    Yes, every morning that we wake up is another chance to be thankful and grateful for all we have. I know all too well that life is not guaranteed and can be taken at any time.

    I love that you have that House and Garden magazine from 1965. The feature stories are still appropriate for today!

    I'd love to read your postings more than a few times a month, but of course, I understand why you want and need to cut back. My dear friend, you do indeed live an artful life. Enjoy every moment!

  19. Howdy there Dewena, so glad to see you'd been by my porch. Thank you for your sweet visits and comments! Nope the shirt wasn't planned, just happened to have it on. I'm too un-organized to plan anything like that...ha ha ha LOL! So--now off to catch up on your posts and just had to thank you for the compliments first!---hope you had a nice weekend and yes!! aren't hydrangeas just so big and fluffy and PRETTY??

  20. hi Dewena, I hope that this comment comes through. I love your blog. I'm sorry about all those health scares but you have come through with flying colors. I always say I'm glad that I get things that are curable. Love you gal.

  21. Dewena, I'm so happy to read that all is well...Waiting is the hardest part, but I'm glad your wait yielded good news. Thanks for reminding us to stop and smell the roses...or admire the garden art! Be well, my friend!

  22. Cancer, ICK! But it does have a way of making one stop and savor ordinary things in life as you have found. I have found that after not blogging for a year, it's difficult to get back into the groove. Like you, I will write fewer posts but can't make the move to give it up completely. I think of you often whether or not you post. You are a sweet soul who I feel I've known forever.

  23. You're a wise woman, my dear friend. You know, there have been times when I've thought of giving up the blog again too, but I know I'd miss it, and God knows I don't want to start from the beginning again, so I just keep plugging along. I think the love of blogging comes in waves and sometimes you want to give and sometimes you just really don't. Spring and Summer seem to be the hardest months, because we're not stuck in our houses. The love will come back again just like it always does and you'll know it when it happens. I'm glad you're not shutting down though :)

    I'm sorry you've had all those medical scares, but I'm so glad you're okay.

    I think you should paint the smoker to look like a big pink pig, so you can get a good laugh when you look out the window ;)

    Love to you,

  24. My dear Dewena,
    I always enjoy my visits to your blog.
    I'm so sorry to read about all the health scares, it does make you savour and enjoy the days even more doesn't it.
    We need to make time for ourself and family ...

    I do like garden art, it just adds a little of your personality to the garden, a bit like we do to the inside of our homes.

    Thinking of you and sending my good wishes

    All the best Jan

  25. So glad everything turned out ok, Dewena, what a scary time, waiting for results. Hey, I'm only getting a few posts out a month now, there's nothing wrong with that. Blogging should be fun! xo

  26. Good Morning Dewena,
    You and I are in the same mindset it seems. Just like you I want to squeeze each moment out of the day on things that really matter to me. It could be crafts, gardening, writing, baking, reading. Oh who really knows...but we know and we will do what pleases us most.
    So thankful that your recent cancer scare turned out well.
    Sending you warm and caring thoughts across the miles.

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  28. Dewena, it's been nice catching up with you this morning as I drink my coffee, reading a few back posts. I'm grateful your tests have turned out less threatening than could be. My husband deals with squamous cell spots too, and I've been in a situation with questionable paps ultimately leading to surgery. Our time robbed worrying will never return in any way, and even looking back, it seems like such a cloudy time while waiting, waiting...{sigh}...more time wasted. Every day healthy is such a good day....I hope each of yours has you finding something artful to celebrate in good health!


RH and I love your comments! They are sent to my email for moderation first but I do hit publish as soon as I read them. A few commenters' comments are not sent to my email for some reason but I try to visit that section on my design page twice a day to see if they're hiding there so I can publish them. I went the first 3 years of blogging not knowing that was there and when I discovered it there were many pages of old comments that never got published. I was so embarrassed and contacted recent ones but hid in shame from those who had given up long ago.

In these busy days I appreciate so much when you take time to comment. Thank you so much!