What Kind of Pumpkin Are You?

Repost of photo essay by me (Cindy Iverson) from Halloween 2007

What Kind of Pumpkin Are You?

Are you the kind of pumpkin that prefers to just blend in with the crowd
and not draw attention to yourself?

That's okay. There is beauty in harmony and unity.

Are you the type of pumpkin that forges ahead with charisma and grace
for others to follow your positive example?

That's okay. There is beauty in the pioneering spirit of a leader.

Are you the type of pumpkin that draws the attention of others
in a social setting and is the "life of the party"?

That's okay. There is beauty in vivacity and good humor.

Are you a pumpkin that is surrounded all day by little ones
and feel like you go for days without adult contact?

That's okay. There is beauty in the sacrifices you make everyday
to mold and shape the next generation.

Are you a pumpkin that is unique and different?

That's okay. There is beauty in diversity, individuality, and uniqueness.

Regardless, of what kind of pumpkin you are
there is beauty within you that is treasured by others.
Look in the mirror today and say,
"I am happy to be the pumpkin that I am!"

Happy Halloween!!!

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New Online Flickr Portfolio

I wanted to let everyone know that I've just started a new online photography portfolio at Flickr. In addition to the free stuff that I already had there, I've now uploaded my favorite copyrighted images so that anyone can look through them without having to go through my online image licensing or Etsy interface.

Just a note, if you see an image that you'd like to use on your blog please ask me. In most cases, I will happily let you use the image for free.

Here's a fun mosaic of the images found in Flowers & Plants:

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The Winter Garden

The seedlings in the winter garden are sprouting and they look so cute. These little ones are one of the varieties of lettuce I planted. The wire mesh is protecting them from neighborhood critters (including kitty cats that think everything is a litter box).

I'm usually not as timely or organized with my winter garden as I am this year. I kept feeling the need to remove a brick planter box from under the front window. It was pulling away from the house and causing a crack between the mortar and the stucco of the house that was getting larger and larger. I decided that it wasn't a good idea to have it collecting water right up against the foundation and that it needed to go bye-bye.

So out came "Sledgehammer 1" and "Sledgehammer 2" with their little friend "Pick-Hammer". As I demolished the box, I found that it was very ill-conceived to begin with, and it was a very good thing that I was taking it out as it was seriously compromising our home's foundation. Although I had to sacrifice the rosemary that was growing in it, taking down the planter made room for me to move my 4x8 raised planter from the back garden to the front. The eastern exposure under the front window is perfect for growing veggies in the winter and pretty pollinator annuals in the summer.

First, I moved the planter box from the back where it's served faithfully as the tomato bed for a number of years. It looks like painted wood, but it's actually made of a composite material produced from recycled milk jugs. It's very sturdy and stands a foot high. Once I had it positioned, I filled it with lots of good compost-filled dirt from the nursery and then planted my rows of winter veggie seeds.

Although we get frosts in December and January, there are many vegetables that grow well here in the winter which won't grow in the summer heat. So I put in a number of lettuce varieties, parsley, scallions, broccoli, snow peas, spinach, and some bread seed poppies. The cute little rows are sprouting in the warm October weather we're having. Until today, it's been around 80F (27C) everyday since I put in the seeds--good sprouting weather.

It's been fun to watch the lettuce sprout because this is the first time I've attempted growing lettuce from seed like this. Both Hubby and I are enjoying this new garden area with all the wonder of two small children.
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Autumn Rose

Our extended summer has even prompted the somewhat picky "Irish Cream" rose to bloom a third time this year. I was really taken with the caramel color of the full blown bloom against the backdrop of the Japanese maple tree that's just beginning to turn. Since I was younger, I've always thought of autumn roses in a special way. Maybe it's the light that shines down on them, illuminating their petals in a magical way.
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Thomasina knows what she's going to be for Halloween

My sister came over today for a photo shoot of the many fantastic costumes that she has sewn for her children over the years. I'm photographing them so she can start an online portfolio of her work (I'll let you all know when it's up because her work is amazing!).

In the middle of the photo shoot, my sister tells me to turn around. And look at what I find behind us.

Thomasina seems to have decided that she wants to be a witch's cat for Halloween and has staked out the witch's hat (complete with attached purple braids). I wonder if I'm supposed to dress up as the witch. Hmmm...
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To see what Bells of Ireland look like...

I hunted and hunted and finally found the previous post where I have a photograph of what fresh Bells of Ireland look like. Click here to see them.
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Can you tell what these are?

Click on the image to see it larger

These parchment-like bells are dried Bells of Ireland blooms that I just left on the stalk in a flower bed instead of deadheading them. I thought they were pretty when they were Who knew they would be so beautiful past their prime?
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A Morning Glory for Monday

I rested from lifting concrete blocks
In the shade of the lemon tree.
I heard a familiar screech above
And looked up into the deep blue sky.
Flying high above the turkey vultures
A hawk glided on the thermals
Of a warm October day.

by Cindy Iverson, October 20th 2008
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The Thing by Lucy Maud

Last night, I was playing when all of a sudden I heard a sound...

I looked to see if it was what I thought it was...

It WAS! It was "the thing"...

I don't know what "the thing" is,
but I was very brave when it came out of the box...

"The thing" kept coming out and then going back in to hide in the box.
Sometimes I had to wait a long time for it to come out again.

Then "the thing" went into its box and wouldn't come out.
I tried touching the box with my paw to scare "the thing" out again.

My friend Suzette was nearby. I asked her, "What is that thing?"
She said, "I'll investigate."

I let her sit in my spot so she could wait for "the thing" to come out again.
And it DID!

Suzette was so fast. In a flash, she bit "the thing".
I heard Mommy say Suzette was like a cobra. I don't know what that is.
But it must be very brave because Suzette was very brave.

"The thing" went back in the box.
It must have been hurt but not dead because it came out again.
Suzette bit "the thing" again.

Then I heard Daddy tell Mommy he wasn't ready to switch over to blue ray yet.
After that "the thing" didn't come out of the box anymore.

Suzette said "the thing" went back into the box to die.
I think she's right because we waited and it didn't come out again.
I'm learning so much from my big kitty friend, Suzette.

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October Blooms Around Rosehaven Cottage

Since the garden has decided to act like it's spring instead of fall, I decided to just embrace it, photograph it, and share it.

Just last week I commented on Jeanette's photo of her wild iris that I haven't been able to get a good photo of ours that look the same (we call them "fortnight lilies", but I'm probably wrong on that). Then yesterday, I was surprised to find that ours was blooming again. The autumnal light made shooting the white flower much easier than it usually is and I was very pleased to finally have a photo that shows its lovely contours.

The "Gold Medal" rose lives right by the "fortnight lily" (please correct me if I'm getting this wrong), and the older pale yellow blooms looked stunning against the blue sky. I didn't doctor this photo in post-processing either. This is how the photo was shot. I love how the blooms of the "Gold Medal" change colors throughout their life. It makes for a multi-shaded display all on one bush.

The blue sky also looked great over my lovely purple roses that look a lot like "Angel Face" but aren't (the tag fell off this one so now it's a mystery rose). This thing is SO tall right now! The blooms at the top of the canes are about 7 feet tall. I shot this at my full height of 5 foot 2 looking up at them. And I didn't doctor this photo in post-processing either.

I moved to the back garden to look for more photographing opportunities and found many. Probably the only flowers that I expect to see in my October garden are residing in the back. One of the blooms I love in autumn is the diminutive "Cardinal Climber" from the ipomoea (Morning Glory) family. Each scarlet bloom is less than 1 inch in diameter yet they have such detail.

The honeybees and bumblebees are loving all the October flowers. The newly blooming "Cosmos" were being visited by a honeybee or two.

But the majority of the pollinator activity was occurring on the other side of the back garden at the "Pineapple Sage" (from the salvia family) that is in full bloom with its scarlet trumpets. One big fat black bumblebee buzzed from blossom to blossom so quickly that it was hard to photograph it. I did get a couple of good shots, thankfully. I wonder if the nectar tastes like pineapple as much as the leaves smell like pineapple...

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What the...????

Okay. So I'm out in the garden yesterday harvesting the last tomatoes and other produce...

The tomato bed was located next to the Pippin apple tree that hasn't fared well because it doesn't belong in our climate. The apples all fell off long before they were edible (always do). The raccoons and other critters eat the bounty because they obviously don't get a sour stomach from unripe apples. I've been tempted to remove it so many times, but then I feel bad and leave it because I can't bring myself to cut it down.

Anyway... as I moved around the tree, I didn't pay much attention to the fact that the leaves aren't turning like the rest of the trees around here, like the liquid amber just across the garden from it. It really didn't register that the apple tree's leaves are a deep, lush and vibrant green in stead of the usual crispy brown that they usually are this time of year from being zapped by our August heatwaves.

I was too focused on harvesting the tomatoes for it to register. But...

Then something caught my eye. I thought I was seeing things in the late afternoon autumn light. Is that what I think it is?

I moved closer. What the heck?

Okay, did someone switch hemispheres on me while I wasn't looking? There are apple blossoms on my Pippin... and it's the 14th of October! And last I checked, California was in the United States in the northern hemisphere! What in the world?????

It was too late to photograph the blossoms yesterday, so I waited until today to go back out and get shots of them. As I was shooting the blossom cluster I discovered yesterday, I realized that there's another cluster of blossoms higher up. This is insane!

The tree still has an apple hanging on the north side, and on the south side it's got apple blossoms--in OCTOBER!!!!

I've got friends and family that have just had their first frosts and snowfalls. They all live in the northern hemisphere (where I thought I was).

Seriously, did someone relocate California when I wasn't paying attention?

Okay, I'm officially freaked out now. The wisteria blooming in September was explained by my pruning it in August and encouraging a second bloom, but this??? Somebody explain this one for me.

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Last Harvest

Today marked the last harvest of tomatoes for the year, as it was time for me to pull the plants out and get on with moving the dirt and planter box to a new location. The last harvest of the summer vegetables is always bittersweet, particularly when it's been a low-yield summer like this one has been.

Interestingly, the pole beans that gave us beans in fits and spurts throughout the summer had a sizable crop to pick. AND the vines are still sending out blossoms. Since I don't have to move the planter they are in, I'm going to leave them in and, hopefully, we'll get another nice crop in time for Thanksgiving in November.

The last cucumber was picked even though it is as huge as a zucchini. Left forgotten under a large leaf, the thing is out of control. I think Hubby may try to use it anyway.

And the current crop of lemons on the Eureka lemon tree are starting to ripen so we were able to put a couple in the harvest basket so they can be used to make the vinaigrette for the bean and tomato salad Hubby will probably make with this basket full of produce. I think we've got enough beans that we can freeze some to use over the winter. That would be really nice.

Tomorrow I'm going to photograph the latest garden wonder that I discovered while we were harvesting that has left me really scratching my head. Stay tuned...

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How Our Own "Paris Apartment" Came To Be

A few years ago, when we had finished the various other phases of remodeling and restoring the downstairs of our little 1940's bungalow cottage we knew it was time to turn out attention to the upstairs and tackle that last part of our home. We knew when we did that we would finally be able to benefit from all the square footage in our home (which is a premium in a small home).

The space that has become our master bedroom suite is all by itself on the second story of Rosehaven Cottage. It was an addition in the early 1960's that needed a lot of reworking. With the encouragement of my brother (Mr. Craftsman) and my brother-in-law (Mr. Architect), we gutted the space down to the studs.

And this is what it looked like after the gutting...

Once we had it all torn down, it was time to build it back up again with new framing for a walk-in closet and a full bath. Plumbing and electrical for the upstairs had to be completely redone. Mr. Craftsman came to the rescue and wired everything perfectly. Our next door neighbor, a professional handyman, installed our plumbing for us. The rest was up to us.

About the time when we were faced with the daunting task of insulating and hanging sheet rock, we were visiting Hubby's family for the holidays. While a lot of socializing was going on, I was cruising the internet on a laptop looking for design ideas and dreaming of the day we would have a finished master bedroom. That's when I came across the website The Paris Apartment. I knew I'd struck gold! I called Hubby over and showed him the many photos and said, "That's how I want our master bedroom to feel!" He said, "Okay, let's do it!"

From that point on, we were on a hunt for design ideas based on the idea of making our own "paris apartment". We shot copious photos of crown mouldings at places like the jewelry store on Disneyland's Main Street and an historic home where a friend was married. We lost track of how many times we had to explain why we were taking photos of panel moulding and chair rails.

After thoroughly insulating the space so that it wouldn't be a sweltering heat box in the summer, we hung sheet rock. I mudded and taped all the seams and then set to work texturing the walls to look like the plaster walls downstairs. You know the joke "I just flew in from Albuquerque... boy, are my arms tired!" Well, my version goes "I just got done texturing the ceiling... boy, are my arms tired!" Thankfully, a good friend is a massage therapist so we could engage her services.

Once the "foundation" of the room was in place, it came time to put in the "frosting". We wanted to get it right by paying close attention to every detail so that each element in the room would look like it had always been there. Everytime I watched a Doris Day movie, I'd pause on wide shots to study the details of the sets so that we could get the era right in our installations. We even matched the original narrow-slat red oak floors that were downstairs in the original square footage built in the 1940's.

We also wanted to be VERY budget-conscious and not spend a lot on anything for the room, but make it look well-appointed. That meant a longer timeline than most renovation projects of this size. But ultimately, it meant we spent much less than we would have. If we couldn't find what we wanted for the price we wanted, we waited until we could. Between doing that and performing the finishing work ourselves, we saved a lot of money.

Hubby did all the moulding installation and did such a phenomenal job with some really difficult moulding profiles. It was my job to caulk and paint it.

A lot of the projects were divided like that. In the bathroom, it was Hubby's job to cut the tile and it was my job to mud and set the tile. We even tackled the scary task of installing a handpoured shower pan and finished it with hexagonal tiling.

After what seemed like a century, we were finally able to move into our master bedroom suite in November of 2006 just before we hosted Thanksgiving dinner for my side of the family. We knew we'd done things right when our niece (then 7 years old) asked how much money we had to be able to have such a fancy bedroom. I explained in a succinct way how I made my bedroom look like a "princess room" without spending a lot of money. It was a very gratifying experience.

We still have little things here and there to finish, but for the most part it's done and we love it! We had determined that we were going to design this room as a "valentine" to ourselves. We feel like we've succeeded and in some ways we've surprised ourselves in exceeding our expectations. So now our little secluded second story, truly feels like a "paris apartment". And we send a BIG thank you to Claudia Strausser, the founder and designer of The Paris Apartment for giving us the inspiration to make this "valentine" a reality!

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