Wednesday, July 25, 2007


They were standing near the split rail fence, eyeing me as I huffed and puffed my way down the country road, standing not too close, not to far apart. Just companionably munching their way across the pasture with an air of comfortable friendliness.

These two horses need no words to convey their friendship. I can tell they are buddies from the body language, the way they graze alongside one another day after day. It's a simple alliance that must lend comfort to both.

I've been walking through a difficult season lately and have come to appreciate those who have noticed and come alongside for a while with the same air of comfort these two horses offer one another.

What reassurance and strength those dependable, quiet friends bring to our lives. Whether man or beast, we all need the comfort of someone to stand nearby and lend a bit of companionship through thick or thin. I'll be forever grateful for the little gestures of kindness and encouragement, the unspoken confidence that says "I'll walk alongside you." It's a precious gift.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Springtime in the middle of summer

"... So shall I send you a little baggie full of lime and pale blue glitter?" I asked Kallie. "Just so you get it absolutely perfect?"

"Yes," Kallie emailed back, "Send me a glitter sample for everything."

Kallie's this gorgeous blonde who is as lovely inside as she is out. She's in charge of coordinating some giftware I'm designing. And, like me, she's a glitter fanatic.

I have been immersed in springtime this week, afloat in a sea of twinkly pastel glitters and sprigs of pale paper cut into all the shapes of spring. Bluebells, bunnies, children hiding eggs... all things delightfully springy.

Designers don't follow the same calendar the rest of the world uses. We live in our own little studio world. We might be doing Christmas in February or, like me, enjoying April in July.

We can turn on a dime, living a springtime fantasy in the middle of summer or Thanksgiving in May. Last week I was merrily working on reindeer and humming "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear" when it occurred to me that here I was in mid July wearing a sweatshirt as we dripped our way through yet another rainy afternoon.

So for me today it's springtime in July and who knows what tomorrow will bring. You know what they say... artists are a strange breed!

Saturday, July 21, 2007


The lady bug was such fun to watch! She just slowly kept going and going, and while it looked as if she were merely marching along the stems, I know she was eating that nasty nemesis of gardeners everywhere... aphids.

If you look carefully you can see them in this picture, sucking the life out of my plants. But thank goodness we have the determined ladybugs to feast on them and keep them from robbing us too badly.

My grandma, who must surely have been one of the most patient people God ever made, cheerfully answered my questions. I remember being fascinated with ladybugs and asking her (probably a hundred times if the family fables are true) "how does she get her spots and what do they mean?" and "how come she flies with those silky black wings instead of her pretty one?" and so on. Probably ad nauseum.

I remember chanting together, my voice high and piping, hers wavery and dear, the old rhyme...

Lady bug, lady bug, fly away home!
Your house is on fire, your children are burning!

Funny how the sight of that lone determined ladybug brought back so many happy memories of my sweet grandma and the unflinching quality of perseverance they shared.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Looking up

Life's been rather full of challenges lately and my bright outlook on life has been a matter of determination at times.

Today out on my walk I spied this pot of nasturtiums, sitting on a post bold as a stop sign. I took it as an opportunity to remember that at times it's wise to pause a moment, count my blessings and simply look up and find the rainbow in the middle of my storm. Maybe there are clear skies ahead.

So that's my thought for today. Look up! There's a bright spot of hope if one will just trust and keep looking for it. Even, and maybe especially, when disappointment and challenge make me want to do otherwise.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Fresh paint

Hurrah for fresh paint! The kitchen is finally finished, the last drop of paint dried. And when Russell applied the last brush stroke in the kitchen, he didn't stop there, but went on to paint the bathroom as well.

I celebrated with new glassware for the kitchen and today I'm planning for some lovely plain white IKEA plates and a bath rug.

There's just nothing like fresh paint to give you a lift!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

An ecstasy of blue

I almost killed my hydrangeas pruning them this year.

Not on purpose, you understand, it's just that I must have been a bit overzealous or something.

Last spring when the skies were a gorgeous shade of cerulean I took a break to walk around the garden admiring the leaves and blossoms. Imagine my dismay when I noticed the hydrangeas looking decidedly barren of the usual verdant glossy leaves.

"Shoot, this time I've gone too far."

" Who are you talking to?" Russell wants to know.

A few months ago I'd butchered the bushes with the pruning shears, now here I was talking to myself out loud.

"I wrecked the hydrangeas," I tell him.

"Oh, Sharyn, they'll grow back," he says. "You worry too much."

He knows me rather well. They have grown back and I do worry too much.

The days have flown past, with me running along like a video on fast-forward.

Here we are at the height of summer and yesterday when doing the botanical ramble again, I had to admit he's right. Just look at those blossoms.

I stood there for about ten minutes admiring the blue that dips to a pale cream. My neighbor must have wondered why I was standing in the front yard grinning as if I'd just won the lottery and snapping way more photos than necessary.

But how could I not?

Truly we are surrounded by miracles.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Gently curving lines

Do you prefer straight lines or those that bend?

When I uploaded some photos I'd snapped of the stray pea plants along the river I fell in love with those images immediately.

What is it I find so pleasing about these flowers?
I wondered. Then it occurred to me... It's the gentle bend in the lines. There's hardly a straight line in view. Even the stems have a slight curve I find enormously appealing.

Straight lines seem so harsh, by their very nature firm and unwilling to... well, to bend!

Whether it's people whose minds are rigid and inflexible or images whose stiffness is unrelenting, I find myself repelled by them.

How much nicer the soft sway in lines like those I found in the wild peas by the river. They pleased my eyes as I jogged by, inviting me to stop for a sniff, admire the shades of purple blending into violet, and snap a photo I would find compelling.

Today I'll remind myself to keep both eyes and mind wide open to the curls and curves, the gentle bends and bobs of the world around me. I love the way nature is almost never completely straight.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Natural colors

"How on earth am I ever going to choose?" I muttered, hunched over the PMS swatchbook, trying hard to whittle down my color selections to a mere three greens and two reds, picking out the shades for the next holiday giftware selections. And never mind choosing just a few cream-and-beiges, three browns and the perfect gray.

If you're an artist, you know the agony. If you're not, don't pass judgement on me... you can't imagine how hard it is to limit one's color choices.

"Keep your palette limited," echoed Anne's voice in my head, as I remembered her advising her watercolor students one day when I'd tagged along to a class at Daniel Smith. "Too many colors muddy your painting and confuse the eye."

I know she's right, but with so many beautiful shades in the rainbow picking out colors can be harder than going to the pound, where all those big brown, liquid eyes silently beg, "Choose me! Choose me! I'm a good one!"

So out to the garden I wandered, swatchbook in hand, eyeing the amazing bounty of blooms and berries until I found the perfect holiday palette. Currants dangling from frail stems, bobbing gently in the breeze, the quintessential holiday colors right in the middle of summer's glory.

With just a flick of the swatches my choices were made and I ran indoors to enter them on the computer. Whew! Next year when that holiday gift collection is sitting on the shelf and someone asks me the perennial question, "Where do you get all your ideas?" I think I can be pardoned for a giggle.

"You just never know!" I'll laugh.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Raspberry Weather

It's July, and in the Northwest we're enjoying a lovely spate of what I call Raspberry Weather.

Deliciously warm at last, and the garden smells faintly of roses and raspberries drenched in the sun.

My husband and I wander out to the raspberry patch in the morning to graze for breakfast.

This has been The Year of the Diet for me, as I've had to be terribly careful of every calorie thanks to the need for a drug that causes weight gain, something I'm determined to avoid at all costs.

But thank goodness for the delightful juicy berries that decorate the bright green leaves with fuchsia! They taste as divine as they look. One can gorge on these delectable jewels without ever a thought about violating the Thousand Calorie Rule. I stuff myself with luxury, grin and laugh. And eat another one. Or two. Or three.

Hurrah for July and Raspberry Weather! If there's anything nicer, I don't know what it could be.