Sunday, December 28, 2008

End of Show Season Musings

It was nice to end the show season of 2008 on a high note. We had a great time at Kristkindl Markt in Hermann. The weather held off and the show reported record attendance. The organizer is one of the nicest people we've ever met, the artists work together and care about each other, and sales were good for nearly everyone we spoke with. We also have a new wholesale account in Washington, MO. Ozarklake feeders are now at Ozark Pool and Spa there. Then we had some custom orders before Christmas and sold a few things from our Etsy store.

We'd like to get into some March shows that would help us travel to California to see my son and Terrie's mother. So far we're not having much luck. Arizona and California have hummingbirds year round, so we think we'd do pretty well. But we keep getting rejected by the juries for the shows we've applied to. It sure gets discouraging.

We've spent the past couple of weeks mostly goofing off. I've got to get serious about building up our inventory for the 2009 shows, but not just yet. Tonight we're going to see Jeff Dunham perform. He is absolutely one of my favorites. We had tickets to see him in Springfield last March but then I ended up needing surgery and we had to sell the tickets. Terrie found out he would be in St. Charles today and surprised me with tickets for my birthday. So finally we get to see him and all of his little buddies. Weather should be clear and the drive shouldn't be a problem. We plan to have a good time!

Hummingbird fact for today: Because there are no hummingbirds in Europe, the first explorers in the New World were awestruck with the beauty and diversity of the species and at first thought they were a cross between an insect and a bird.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Winter Art Shows and Festivals in Missouri

The end of warm weather does not mean the end of art shows and festivals. After taking a hiatus last year while the historic building underwent renovation, the Beaux Arts Bizarre was again held at the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts in Columbia, MO. A unique arts and crafts fair, the Beaux Arts Bizarre is a celebration of the diversity and creativity of more than 50 local and regional artists and crafters. The setting is beautiful and the art presented was diverse and fantastic.

The Fourteenth Annual WinterFest Visual and Performing Arts Festival will be December 5–7 at Juanita K. Hammons Hall, on the campus of Missouri State University in Springfield, MO. WinterFest combines the performing arts, central to the mission of the Hall, with the talents of the region’s best visual artists – in a three-day festival that provides a unique opportunity for all of the arts to “take center stage”. Artists are selected by jurors to participate in this top-quality show, held in the spectacular multi-level lobby of Hammons Hall. For more information, visit

Hermannhof Winery and the Hermann Arts Council sponsor the Dec. 13 and 14 Kristkindl Markt. Held at the historic Festhalle in Hermann, MO, the weekend features costumed artisans selling one-of-a-kind gifts, chestnuts roasting in the old stone fireplace, costumed storytellers, Grimm's Fairy Tales characters, and musical performances throughout the weekend. Kristkindl Market is a unique experience as all the artisans are in costume and the entire experience is like an old-fashioned German shopping experience. For more information, visit

Hummingbird fact for today: In the eastern US and in the area just west of the Mississippi River, the late season hummer is most likely not a Ruby-throated hummingbird but a wayward species which breeds in the West. The Rufous hummingbird which breeds in the far northwest and several varieties which normally occur in Mexico in winter have been seen in the US in fall and winter. Rufous hummingbirds seem to be able to adapt to cold as they can go into torpor and lower their body temperatures as much as 30 degrees.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Online Shopping and Holiday Gifts

I saw a report on the news this week that more and more people are shopping online. For someone like me, this is a good thing. Think about the doors the internet has opened. If you're not close to one of the shows I'm doing, or if you are but can't get there, now you can view and/or purchase my functional garden art. Through the magic of the internet, I can learn of your order, package it, arrange online for it to be shipped, and you receive it - and we never meet. Wow. It truly is amazing. And speaking of that, I hope you will stop by my Etsy store. We have several nice pieces that would make terrific gifts for the people on your list :-)

The Metro Arts Two Rivers Expo in Des Moines was a fun show to do. There were fewer people attending than I had anticipated, but those who came out in the cold and spitting snow liked my items. The organizers were very good to the artists, too, and that always adds to the experience. We hope to do more shows in that area.

It's been a sad week here. Our yellow tabby cat, George, suddenly got sick. He failed to respond to any of the medications and just kept getting worse. We lost him on Thursday. George was more like a little dog - he'd follow us from room to room, sleep on the bed, jump up on the chair and talk to us. We rescued him from the animal shelter and we are very appreciative of the time we had with him. We miss the little guy. Our black cat, Ozzie, also feels the loss.

Hummingbird fact for today: It is not necessary for a hummingbird feeder to be red. A new feeder or a feeder in a new location can be accented with a red bow or red ribbons to attract the birds. Once they have located the feeder, the red can be removed as it is no longer necessary.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Holiday Show Season is Getting Started

We head off this week to a new area for us. We were juried into the Metro Arts Two Rivers Expo in Des Moines, IA. This will be our first Iowa show and we're excited! This will kick off the holiday shows. Handmade gifts are always welcome because of the quality of the items. Handcrafted quality lives on long after the price is forgotten! So take your holiday shopping list to arts and crafts shows in your area. You can be certain that your gift recipient will NOT have anything else exactly like what you find for them.

I had a birthday this week. I'm not sure how I feel about it either. On the bright side, it's better than the alternative. I just never thought I'd ever be this old...................... Birthdays are a chance to pause and take stock of our lives, decide if we should be doing anything differently. And after doing that, I've got to say that I'm absolutely delighted with my art and the fun we are having.

Hummingbird fact for today: If you should find a baby hummer, the best advice is to leave it alone. The mother will either get it back to the nest or Nature will take its course. Hand-raising a baby hummingbird is very, very difficult even for professionals and is best left to those who know what they are doing AND keeping the bird is probably illegal.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hartsburg's Pumpkin Festival Draws Amazing Crowds

For 363 days of the year, the little town of Hartsburg has a population of just 108. It's at the end of a road between Jefferson City and Columbia. The land surrounding Hartsburg is rich Missouri River bottom soil. The Hackman farm has been growing pumpkins there for years - huge, gorgeous pumpkins. The Pumpkin Festival began 17 years ago as a way to celebrate this abundant crop. This year nearly 200 vendors of arts, crafts, and festival food lined the streets. There were a straw maze, arts and crafts, facepainting, and pony rides for the kids. Shooting demonstrations, trades and artisan demonstrations, and several music stages entertained the adults.

The mayor told me attendance on Saturday was estimated at over 30,000, with more coming in on Sunday. We heard from several attendees that it took as long as 90 minutes to travel from Highway 63 down to Hartsburg, moving at a snail's pace. Think about that. A little town of 108 with 30,000 people visiting! Of course, the weather was absolutely perfect which helped to encourage a day outing. But I am totally in awe of the town leaders, the townspeople, and the festival organizers who see to it that this event is such a draw for visitors. My picture doesn't do justice to the crowd that roamed throughout both days.

Hummingbird fact for today: The arrival and departure of hummers depends on the area and species. In the Midwest we recommend having feeders out Tax Day (April 15) to Halloween (October 31) as a rule of thumb. Some hummers have been seen later and the feeders should come in earlier, at least temporarily, if there is an early freeze. Leaving the feeder up will not inhibit the bird’s normal migration. They will go south when they sense it is time. The migration is related to hormonal changes and the decrease in daylight. A few occasional late stragglers may be seen as they migrate from northern areas.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Missouri is Quite a State!

This past weekend we exhibited at the Best of Missouri Market at the Botanical Gardens in St. Louis. Four circus tents set up on the parking lot were packed with great agricultural and art items from right here in my home state. Other regions in the country get credit for things like wine, rice, cheese, pecans, and apples. Missouri has all that and more! Each Christmas we send each of my siblings (in Oregon and Tennessee) a sampler pack of Made in Missouri items and we encourage each of you to shop locally for local products.

Mike Miller, who hosts the Saturday morning Garden Hotline Show on KMOX radio in St. Louis, came by our booth. He then asked if I would consent to an on-air interview to talk about my art. I was delighted to say the least. Apparently a lot of people listen to the program because we had MANY people stop by the booth and mention hearing the interview. Thanks Mike! If anyone is so inclined, visit and listen to the Garden Hotline Show, 9-10 am, from 10/4/08.

Again we answered questions and helped out people who have purchased feeders with black rubber stoppers. We also heard a lot of people mention that they had copper feeding tubes. According to everything I have read, this is a bad idea. It is nearly impossible to thoroughly clean the inside of a copper feeding tube and mold will develop in the crevices, resulting in sick little hummers.

Hummingbird fact for today: It does not hurt to add feeders to the area near the garden flowers, box, or planter to supplement the nectar and to ensure it is available regardless of the status of the blooms. Tube feeders are good in this location as they fit right into the blooms. Other feeders should be about 4 feet up or so and should be protected from pets if possible.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fun Two Weeks!

We had a great time at Silver Dollar City. It was a lot of fun to actually demonstrate and talk with people. Everyone seemed fascinated, especially the kids. We had good sales and good weather. Terrie complained that the period dresses were hot, but then the weather was not as cool as we expected for September.

Visiting with so many people during this time, we heard over and over about other hummingbird feeders that leak. The common theme was the black rubber stopper. You do NOT want a feeder with anything other than white rubber!!! The composition of the colored stoppers is different and they deteriorate quickly. When that happens, air gets into the feeder which allows nectar to drip out. If you have a leaking feeder, you do not have a water leak - you have an air leak. Air is somehow getting into the feeder. Try wetting the stopper before you put it back in as water on the rubber stopper allows it to slide smoothly against the glass, go in deeper, and seal better.

The sad news is that our hummers have headed south. The juveniles were hitting the feeders hot and heavy before we left but we've seen no activity since we've been home. We'll miss the little guys but know they will return in the spring.

Hummingbird fact for today: Feeders were beginning to be developed about 1928 but a National Geographic article in 1947 used a newly developed strobe flash to show hummingbirds in flight at a feeder and interest was heightened outside the scientific community. In 1950 the Audubon Novelty Company offered an affordable feeder and hummingbird feeding has never looked back.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A New Adventure

We'll be leaving soon to set up shop in Silver Dollar City for two weeks. Terrie and I both have mixed emotions about this. Being in one location, setting up and tearing down only once, will be nice. Talking with people visiting Silver Dollar City will be nice. I've never actually created and worked with an audience, though, so this will be a totally new experience. And of course, we do not know what to expect as far as sales. With a big show in St. Louis immediately following, we don't want to sell out. Yet, we do want to sell as many items as possible. Talk about inner conflict! So if you are out and about, come see us in our 1800's costumes. It should be fun.

The show at the Cedarhurst Art Museum in Mt. Vernon, IL, was a good one. The coordinators treat the artists very nicely. Big crowds browse and buy throughout the weekend. The nicest moment came from a local photographer. He bought a feeder last year and came back to our booth this year to add to his "collection". He takes a lot of graduation pictures, and he said our feeders in the background add to the ambiance. Wow. What a nice thing to hear.

On the home front, we're still waiting on the contractor to finish up a few little things. The new carpet will be the next big project. That is a matter of having the time at home to have the house torn up for a couple of days. Right now we just don't have the time to be unhooking and unplugging and moving furniture when we need to be getting ready for the upcoming shows. Ah well..............eventually. Watching the footage of the destruction caused by Hurricane Ike makes our earlier storm damage pale in comparison. Our hearts go out to all those affected.

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummingbirds have about 1,500 feathers.

Monday, September 1, 2008

It's Chow Down Time

As the fall migration approaches, this year's young hummingbirds are aggressively hitting the feeders. The activity on our porch has been amazing. Terrie stood out there last evening and captured these pictures. They didn't seem to mind her being there. One even came over to investigate the camera. Unfortunately, he was quicker than the shutter! I love how they are in a standoff with each other one minute, and cautiously sharing the feeder the next.

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummingbirds use vocal chirps, chatters and buzzes to signal others, indicate mood, and to threaten. Most do not have a song as such though the Anna’s hummingbird has been known to voice long “songs”.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sharing the Joy of Hummingbirds

We were at Festival of the Little Hills in St. Charles, MO, last weekend. A gentleman who had purchased a feeder at the show the previous year stopped by the booth. Last year I had given him tips on how to get a hummer to sit on his finger. He stopped by to tell me that he had followed my suggestions and was thrilled to see a hummer up close sitting on his hand. That's what this is all about, I think. More so than selling my art, I enjoy sharing the joy and wonder of these amazing little creatures.

We just returned from the Art and Balloon Festival in Lincoln, IL. On Saturday a nice lady purchased a feeder. She returned on Sunday just to share that she filled and placed her feeder and soon had a hummer at it. She, too, was thrilled and happy.

We took time to go out to the airport Saturday evening to see the balloon launch. Unfortunately, the weather was uncooperative for the balloonists. They did, however, launch from one end of the airport and fly to the other end. What a sight to behold! We've not seen balloons up close like that before. No wonder this sport has such a following!

We're busy filling orders. We have reorders from Cosby Hillpeople Crafts in Gatlingburg, TN, and Abode Interiors in Stockholm, WI. Moller's Garden Center in Palm Desert, CA, will also soon offer our items. It's a little overwhelming at times, but what fun we are having!

Hummingbird fact for today: The "Doctor Bird" (Trochilus polytmus), or Swallowtail Hummingbird, lives only in Jamaica and is one of the most outstanding of all the species of hummingbirds. The feathers of the Doctor Bird are beautifully iridescent, a characteristic peculiar to this family.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Wonders of Technology

One of the local radio stations, KRMS 1150 AM/93.5 Mike FM, sponsored the Art and Ambiance Fair this past weekend here at the Lake, so of course the station gave the Fair a lot of play. I was invited to talk on KRMS AM about my art and the Fair. That was a first for me and I had no idea how I sounded on the air. Terrie had sent the radio website address to friends and family and my sister in Oregon logged on and not only listened to the interview (aired on a local AM station), my nephew also recorded it. The next day I received an email with a file attached and I was able to listen to the interview. What an amazing technological age we live in! And our very first sale was to a nice lady who had listened to my interview and came to the show to see my items.

We were very pleased with the local Art and Ambiance Fair. We got acquainted with some of the other artists, wineries, and restaurants in the area, we visited with some old friends, and we made new friends who were visiting the Lake. Unfortunately the weather was nice all weekend so many Lake visitors were out on the water instead of inside at an art show, but that is their loss. There is a lot of talent and skill in this area.

Festival of the Little Hills in St. Charles is next weekend. This, too, was a fun show for us last year and we're looking forward to it. Let's just hope that Missouri weather lends itself to the event!

Hummingbird fact for today: The Ruby-throated hummingbird was first identified by Carl Linnaeus, the originator of the modern classification system, in 1758 from a specimen from South Carolina.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

One Small Note Made My Day!

I received the following email yesterday, which made me feel darn good! Part of the note and two of the pictures are posted here with permission of the author/photographer. Thanks Cam and Shirley for warming the heart of a hummingbird fan/artist!!!

Bill and Terrie,

We just had to let you know how much enjoyment we have gotten from our hummingbird feeder purchased at the Leawood Town Center Art Fair. We decided to mount it just outside the kitchen/hearthroom window so we could keep an eye out for them. The first photo attached shows how I mounted it and the second shows our success. I have a camera mounted on a tripod next to my easy chair so all I have to do is push the button.

Best regards,
Cam and Shirley Schutte

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummingbirds may live for 5 to 10 years. A female Broad-tailed was banded as an adult in 1976 and recaptured in 1987, at least 12 years old. A banded Ruby-throated was found to be 6 years 11 months and a Rufous was 8 years 1 month.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Working Vacation

We just got back home from the Craftsmen's Fair in Gatlinburg, TN. We set up our booth in an air-conditioned convention center and then "went to work" for ten days at the Fair. We stayed within walking distance so for 10 days our world consisted of that little part of town. After spending 10 days in one spot waiting for customers to come by, I know that I could NEVER run a store. Maybe it would be different if, when no customers are present, I could disappear into my studio and create.........

One nice thing about doing a show like this is that all the cares and worries of home are left behind. Nothing existed outside the show and that was a welcome relief. We arrived back home expecting to see nice new ceilings in the house, the result of repairs necessitated by the storm damage. We found nice new ceilings. We also found a nice mess. We had talked about replacing the carpet. The contractor has seen to it that we now have no choice in the matter - the carpet will have to be replaced. Needless to say, Terrie is not overjoyed at the thought of continued upheaval. She was looking forward to finally getting back to normal around the house and now that won't happen for a while yet.

We met some wonderful artists in Gatlinburg. Talent was abundant at this show. It is truly amazing to see the talent and skills of people. Imported crap might cost less, but it lacks the craftsmanship, pride, and love of creation that is found in hand-created items. I heard it put this way - The quality remains long after the price is forgotten.

Hummingbird fact for today: White hummingbirds are rare in North America but some albino hummers are occasionally seen. Full albinos have white skin, bill, and feathers and red eyes.

Monday, July 7, 2008

It's Independence Day in America

One thing recently got my blood boiling. It was hearing people in this country refer to Independence Day as the fourth of July. It was the fourth of July in every other country in the world as well. Here in America, the fourth of July is Independence Day. Spend a moment thinking about the significance of that. And next year, please don't refer to the fourth of July without saying Independence Day.

This time of year we hear a lot of people talk about their hummingbirds "disappearing" from the feeders. Actually, this is the time of year that the females' diet changes. She has chicks in the nest and she feeds them tiny insects. When the juveniles are ready to leave the nest, she'll bring them to the feeders. Be patient - they will be visible again soon.

We're preparing for our big trip to Gatlinburg. We will be at the Craftsmen's Fair from July 18-27 at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. This trip will also have some personal benefits. My mother and siblings live in Maryville, which is close to Gatlinburg. So while visiting family we also get to try a new market. We're hoping for a great show, of course.

Terrie is packing away everything in 3 rooms so the contractor can replace the damaged ceilings while we are gone. It's rather bare around here without all the hummingbird "stuff" she has collected over the years.

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummingbird survival skills must be learned by the juveniles on their own, including flying, searching for food, avoiding predators, bathing, and grooming.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

We Have a Website!

Ozarklake has its very own website! How exciting! Please take a peek and tell us what you think.

Terrie spent a good part of the past two days doing all the little things that put the outside of the house almost back to normal. The front porch needed to be painted before the storm, but that's one of those jobs you just keep putting off - until the contractor uses a power-washer to clean up the roofing mess. So the porch is freshly painted, all the things that blow in the wind are back up, the hummingbird and oriole feeders are back on the porch, the little decorations in the rock garden in front are back. Three windchimes were damaged beyond repair, but there is no shortage of hummingbird "things" in this house - including replacement windchimes that moved from inside to outside. So with just a few minor things yet to be done by the contractor, the outside appearance is almost pre-storm damage. It sure looks nekkid without those big old trees! The ceiling replacement inside will be done when we're not home. We figure that's easier on our nerves and certainly easier for the contractor. Terrie is packing up everything that would get in his way and trying to find some place to store the boxes.

The devastation at the Omaha Arts Festival is unbelievable. Our hearts go out to those artists who lost so much of themselves with the destruction of their works.

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummers like several baths a day and will fly in and out of sprinklers or splash in shallow pools and then sit and preen with bill and claws. Regular birdbaths are usually too deep for the tiny hummers.

Monday, June 23, 2008

I Admit It - I'm Addicted

I did not really recognize how addicted I have become until I had no internet connection last week. Living out in the boonies, we have been totally ignored by AT&T so we have no DSL. I'm not even sure who the latest purchaser of the cable service in this area is, but there is no cable internet either. The big company on the other side of the Lake can't come in here because somehow this area was "deeded" to this little outfit that sold to a bigger outfit that sold to a bigger outfit, etc., etc. So we depend on Wildblue for satellite service. Unfortunately, the dish was on the roof. In the normal course of putting on an entire new roof, the dish was moved. It took four days to get a repairman out here and we were like babies who have lost their pacifiers. I felt totally cut off from civilization without my email and internet news. It was terrible!

Hummingbird fact for today: Changes in the climate and the numbers of hummer-friendly gardens in the US have helped to extend the range and duration of hummingbirds.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Midwestern Storms and Art Shows

We were at the Town Art Show this past weekend in Leawood, KS. This is a benefit for the Parkinson Foundation of the Heartland. Town Center Plaza was surrounded with quality art of all types and shoppers found unique treasures Friday evening and Saturday. Unfortunately, yet another Midwestern storm rolled in on Sunday and closed down the show. Many of our artist friends have suffered losses of their work this year because of storms. The organizer of this show, Sue Hunter, was extremely cognizant of the danger to the artists and their works and gave us plenty of warning about the impending storm and encouraged the artists to protect themselves and their art even if that meant tearing down the booths. The volunteers were wonderful, the patrons were appreciative, and with concern like Sue exhibited, this is one of THE BEST shows to attend, both as an artist and a patron. We look forward to attending this show again next year.

We returned home to find a roofing crew hard at work on our house. This is a good thing as storms had hit our area again as well. Large pieces of trees, lumber and shingles from the roof, a fallen fence, a cracked sidewalk - our place is still a mess. But it is fixable. Our hearts go out to those who have suffered the ravages of flood waters. Sometimes it is easy to fall into the "why me?" state of mind, but all you have to do is look around you to realize how fortunate you really are. Fallen trees can be dealt with quickly and cleanly. The same cannot be said for fires and floods and many other catastrophes.

Hummingbird fact for today: A hummer may visit 1000 flowers in single day.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Where Has All the Singing Gone?

You don't really appreciate something until you don't have it anymore. The two large trees that fell on the house gave a home to a lot of birds. Early morning around here used to be filled with their singing. Now the bird songs are gone. Our two cats were fascinated by the bird activity in those trees. They would sit for hours, Ozzie at the back bedroom window and George on the bed looking out the front bedroom window. Now they look but nothing is there.

I was finally able to bring myself to look at the pictures the contractor took up on the roof. It's really frightening to see them. Yes, there is damage to the house, but it could have been so much worse. When I see pictures of all the homes that are filled with water now from flooding, I realize how fortunate we are.

We were at Art in the Park in Columbia, Missouri, this past weekend. The director of the Columbia Art League is an absolutely lovely person who puts her heart and soul into this show. And the people of Columbia turn out in droves. Unfortunately, our sales were down from last year, as were a lot of other artists, but others had record sales. There didn't seem to be a pattern that anyone could figure out. Economy? Gas prices? Who knows for sure? We were just glad that an Arkansas jeweler we encouraged to apply for the show was very pleased with the outcome. I always worry about telling an artist about a show because I don't want them to be disappointed in my recommendation.

Hummingbird fact for today: A hummingbird will add up to one-half its weight in body fat in preparation for migration, a phase called hyperphagia.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

View from the Window

Last week, we could look out the bedroom window and see the patio below. We could see our neighbor to the north. We could see across the street and down the hill. And if you craned your neck, you could see the Lake down the hill.

It's just a little bit disconcerting to look out the window and see nothing but BIG TREE.

We have tree across the house, across the deck, across the deck stairs, up against the downstairs door, and across the entrance to the front porch. Leaving the house involves a carefully manipulated jungle trek! And the "good news" is ----- more storms are headed our way!

Hummingbird fact for today: A hummer nest has an outside diameter of about 1 ½ inches and the inside is about the size of a penny. It is made of moss and lichens to be very well camouflaged and may be secured with spider web. The nest takes about a week to construct.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Tree in the Closet

I'm always telling people that leaving your feeder out late in the fall will not keep the hummers hanging around. Mother Nature is a force greater than anything we can imagine, and she tells them when to head back south. I got an up-close lesson in the forces of Mother Nature last night.

We live in a quiet, small, mature subdivision - only about 60 houses and lots of wonderful old trees. About 1 a.m. two of those trees came crashing down on our house. Apparently two storm systems collided. In the aftermath, officials are saying it was a tornado. There are at least 8 huge old trees completely uprooted in our quiet little neighborhood. Unfortunately, ours was the only one with a house under it! My wife sleeps quite soundly and has always told me that she wouldn't know if a tree fell on the house through the night. By gosh she's right! I was awake and heard it, but had to wake her up to tell her about it.

The first picture is the back of the house. The second picture is the front of the house. The third picture is the inside of the closet, complete with The Tree in the Closet.

Now we are in the unenviable position of dealing with the insurance company and contractors. Luckily, the largest tree fell just right and sent a branch through the roof, through the attic, and through our closet and NOT through us sleeping in our bed.

The storm traveled through a small part of the Lake of the Ozarks. While ours was the only house in our subdivision to be under fallen trees, there were others in other neighborhoods. Related news stories: and

Hummingbird fact for today: The Hummingbird Clearwing moth is often mistaken for a hummingbird or baby hummingbird.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

America's Roadways

We were at the Tulsa Mayfest last week. In all the traveling we have done across the midwest, I do believe that Oklahoma ranks as the #1 Worst Roads. I understand that it takes a lot of money and manpower to keep roadways in good repair. I understand that winter is hard on roadways. We were also in Tulsa about a year ago, and road conditions were just as bad then. From the Interstate, to State highways, to Tulsa streets, this is some rough driving!

The assortment of artwork at Mayfest was, without a doubt, the best assortment I have seen. There are some really talented people out there! The people were very appreciative of all the artists. The Mayfest committee is to be commended for their hard work and dedication. And thank you to all the volunteers who took care of the artists.

School is over for my wife. She managed to get a B in her dreaded algebra class and graduated "in absentia" last week.

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummers produce one brood per season and the males are not involved in raising the brood. A penny would cover 3 hummingbird eggs but there are usually only two in a brood. Eggs hatch in about 2 ½ weeks. It takes about 3 weeks for the chicks to leave the nest.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

An Orange for an Oriole

Because a lot of visitors to our booth have inquired about oriole feeders, I researched and developed a style of feeder that makes providing an orange-half for orioles (and other fruit-eating birds) easy and fun. I had never actually tried one myself, though. After observing both a Baltimore oriole and an orchard oriole at the hummers' nectar feeders this week, I made a simple orange holder and put it on the front porch. In no time at all the orange-half I put out was discovered! This morning I observed the Baltimore oriole for a while as he enjoyed his special treat. What a gorgeous bird!

We had a fabulous weekend at Artsfest in Springfield. The weather was perfect and thousands of people came out to enjoy the wonderful variety of art that was available. It's rained nearly every day since then though, with more predicted this week. We're working like crazy to replenish our inventory for Tulsa's Mayfest next week. And, after her final on Tuesday, my wife will have completed all requirements for her AA degree! At least we think so. She still doesn't have her final grade in the dreaded Algebra class.

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummers have poor night vision and don’t like to fly in the dark.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

It Truly Is a Small World

Last week at Art in the Garden at Wenwood Farm Winery, I ran into the people who were the previous owners of the house I owned in Troy, Missouri. The wife was also one of my daughter's teachers. Turns out that she is the sister of one of the other artists at the show.

This past weekend in Denton, TX, we visited with a couple from Lebanon, Missouri. Lebanon is about 30 miles south of us. They were in Denton to visit their grandson, a student at the University of North Texas. They bought a feeder and we all had a chuckle about the distance involved for that sale. We also visited with a pleasant young man who is a 1994 graduate of School of the Osage here at the Lake. I worked for School of the Osage for a time and this young man went to school with the teacher there, LJ Weeks, that I worked with. We also visited with a Denton police officer that my wife knows through her previous work. He plays tenor sax in one of the jazz bands that performed. It truly is a small world.

The weather threatened to turn ugly in Denton, but it never did thank goodness. And tons of people enjoyed this tremendous festival. Now for a little bragging. I was honored to be awarded an Honorable Mention ribbon for my art and my booth.

Come by and visit us this weekend at Artfest on Walnut Street in Springfield, Missouri.

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummers’ wing bones are fused into a stiff paddle, enabling them to hover.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

First Hummer of the Season!

Actually, my wife heard him first - and then saw him later. On Friday, the 18th. Bet he was one cold little thing that night! But at last warmer weather looks like it might be here to stay.

Had a great time at the Wenwood Farm Winery Art in the Garden on Saturday. Only about 15 artists braved the damp, cloudy, windy, very cool day. But everyone who came out enjoyed good food, fine wine, wonderful music, and great art.

Heading off to Denton, TX, this week for the Art and Jazz Festival. The weather looks like rainstorms will be moving out in time for the festival. Let's keep our fingers crossed!

Hummingbird fact for today: The fluid intake of a hummingbird is the equivalent of a 200-pound human male drinking between 400 and 800 pounds of water a day.

Monday, April 14, 2008

It's Supposed to be Spring!

As if the weather in Missouri hasn't been weird enough this year what with ice storms and monsoon rains and flooding, now we have a freeze! Again. We had a freeze in April last year and it wiped out all the budding flowers and fruit crops. Here we go again......... Last year's late freeze sort of confused the bird population. People were seeing birds in their yard that they had never seen before. All because their normal food was destroyed and they were out searching for new sources. So maybe we'll have the same thing again and we'll get to see some new types of birds.

My wife decided to go back to college and complete the degree she didn't complete 30 plus years ago. She's mostly taken classes online. She'll finish up next month provided she gets at least a C in Algebra. Yes, after years of not using Algebra she decided she could do that online. I'll give her an A for effort - she's really worked at understanding it. She didn't do as well as she thought she had done on the midterm, and now she's preparing for the final. She's always got her nose stuck in the book or working out the sample test problems. She's gotten A's in all her other classes. I have to admit that she's doing things in Algebra that even I don't understand. If the instructor knew how much effort she's putting into it, she'd get an A for effort!

Hummingbird fact for today: The tip of a hummer’s tongue is fringed. The length of the tongue is rolled into two tubes and will extend past their bill to a distance about equal to the length of the bill.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cool Art Hot Jazz

I was honored to be one of 125 juried artists accepted to participate in the St. Louis Art Association's Cool Art Hot Jazz spring art festival this past weekend. Unfortunately, attendance seemd to suffer from good weather! After weeks of gray, gloomy, wet weather, the sun was shining brightly and the temperature was perfect for outdoor activities. Those who stopped by the show at Queeny Park, though, were treated to some of the finest quality work I've ever seen gathered under one roof. I was extremely honored and humbled to win the Purchase Award, sponsored by Normandy Animal Clinic.

We heard from several people throughout the weekend that male ruby-throateds are being spotted in Midwest gardens now. We haven't seen any ourselves, but we came home and put our feeders out in anticipation!

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummingbird bills can be categorized as either straight or curved downward (decurved). The curve of a particular species is related to the type of flower which is its most common food.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Only Two Weeks to Go!

Ruby-throated hummingbirds will begin returning to their northern breeding areas in about two weeks. The males will arrive first. Remember that your flowers aren't blooming yet, so you want to call attention to your feeder. Red is the color hummers see from the greatest distance. Having a red feeder or red nectar is NOT necessary. Simply hang a few red ribbons, fluttering in the breeze like flowers, or a big red bow near your feeder. That will get their attention and they will come to investigate. Once the food source is located, you are on their route for food! Make sure your feeders are clean. Rinse with a mild bleach solution before filling with nectar to kill any leftover mold. Remember to keep the nectar clean and fresh!

If you're in the St. Louis area this weekend, come see us at the Cool Art, Hot Jazz show April 5-6. You'll find some great art! It's at the Greensfelder Recreation Center in Queeny Park. Spend the day wandering the art booths and enjoying the great jazz music!

Hummingbird fact for the day: Thousands of New World plants rely on the hummer for pollination which occurs when pollen is transferred on their bills and head feathers from one plant to another.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Exciting News (at least we think so)!

It's so rewarding when one's art is recognized by other artists and by art promoters.

We will be "residents" of Silver Dollar City in September along with other Best of Missouri Hands Juried Artists. The week after we committed to that invitation, we were contacted by the Gatlinburg Craftsmen's Fair and invited to spend two weeks there in July. We've not done any "in resident" shows so we're excited about these! The great thing is that you get to unload and set up just once and then tear down and head home just once but you get the benefit of two weekend shows plus some weekdays.

Get your feeders ready! Our little feathered friends will be returning soon - just 2 to 3 weeks in most parts of the US!

Hummingbird fact for today: Males use their bright gorget as a signal flag to opponents and potential mates. Females generally have their most distinctive markings on their tails and will fan and wave the tail as a warning signal.

Monday, March 3, 2008

ArtSmart 2008 - An Artists' Conference

The Missouri Artisan Association, dba The Best of Missouri Hands , held their annual conference this past weekend. The conference is called ArtSmart and the theme for 2008 was Stayin' Alive. It was held here at the Lake this year and as a newly-juried artist, I decided to go and hopefully learn a lot more about this crazy business called art and doing well enough to "stay alive" in the art business.

One tremendous advantage at the Conference is being able to get quality, professional pictures taken of your art at a greatly reduced rate. With so many artists applying for the shows now, professional pictures are a must if you want a shot at getting juried in. So Terrie and I took four of my best pieces and lo and behold, we sold one of them at the show! We also learned a lot about the jurying process at one of the break-out sessions.

We would like to expand the wholesale side of our business, and we learned a lot about about wholesale shows, wholesale pricing, and a lot of other great tips at the break-out session covering this topic. Another session I attended gave great advice on writing and distributing press releases and how to develop a good ad. And there was a session, facilitated by an art show promoter, on what promoters look for when considering artists for their shows. We probably would have learned a lot more on the second day, but unfortunately we couldn't be there on Sunday.

I also learned that as a Juried Artist of BOMH, I have my own page on their website. Check it out!

All in all it was time and money well spent and I wish I could have taken advantage of both days!

Hummingbird fact for today: Because of their small size and daring acrobatics, hummingbirds are rarely caught by predator birds.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Lawn and Garden Show a Good Diversion

Following in the footsteps of other garden artisans we've talked to, we participated in our first Lawn and Garden show this past weekend. The crowds were great! Obviously everyone is sick of winter and anxiously planning for Spring. There were only a handful of artisan vendors as most of the booths were commercial establishments. We did OK and met a lot of wonderful people. We were also approached by an artisan/store owner so now our items can be purchased in Abilene, TX! Check out for some really nice handcrafted butterflies!

The local newspaper had an article on my acceptance as a Best of Missouri Hands Juried Artist. You can read it and see a picture of my mug at

Hummingbird fact for today: Normal body temperature is about 103 degrees F (40C) but it can drop to 70 degrees F (21C) at night.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Bah! Groundhogs!

Everyone is saying that the groundhog saw his shadow, which means there are six more weeks of winter. But guess what? If the groundhog DIDN'T see his shadow, spring would arrive on March 20! The good news in this is that hummingbirds will return to Missouri in just about 10 weeks, and to states and provinces north of Missouri within a couple of weeks after that. With the Springfield Lawn and Garden Show next week, we're getting antsy for spring. The weather doesn't seem to know what it should do, either. Today, high near 70 with rain storms moving in, and snow accumulating Tuesday night. Good grief!

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummingbirds are assigned to their own family under the Linnaeus system of classification – Trochilidae – from the Greek trochilos, small bird.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

I Don't Usually Toot My Own Horn.....

...but I'm really proud of this one. I just received notification of my acceptance as a Juried Artist in Best of Missouri Hands. When I was writing tech manuals at Boeing in St. Louis, I never envisioned that someday I would find a second calling as an artisan much less that my work would be accepted by my artistic peers. The Best of Missouri Hands is a statewide Missouri Artisans Association. From the website, "Receiving Juried Membership acceptance indicates that an artist has developed his or her craft beyond mere competence of technique to a high standard of quality. Jurying is done from images by a panel of craftsman and professionals." Juried artists are allowed to display a banner in their booths at shows and festivals, so at each show we do I have, of course, noticed those artists with the banner. Now I too can display this banner. I am honored to be accepted as a juried member and will continue to grow and develop my art to meet these high standards.

Hummingbird fact for today: About 21 species have ranges north of Mexico but only the Ruby-throated is usually found east of the Mississippi. Actually "east of the Mississippi" includes such states as Iowa and Missouri and east of the Mississippi is merely a rule-of-thumb. Of the species seen in the US, 16 breed here, 1 is a regular visitor, and 4 are seen rarely and are considered to be strays. Four species are regularly seen in Canada.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Why Was I Worried?

Wow! What a difference it made getting that cataract off! All the post-op eye drops are a pain, but other than that all my worries were unfounded. Thank goodness! And it's a good thing, because we got a new wholesale order in yesterday, so I have things to make. Yay! We're also gearing up for our first venture at a Lawn and Garden show. Come see us if you can. Springfield, MO, Expo Center at the Fairgrounds, February 15-17.

Hummingbird fact for today: The shiny feathers on a male hummingbird’s throat are called a gorget.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Just Call Me Chicken

I know that tens of thousands of people have a cataract removed every year. And I know that it's almost as routine now as having a tooth filled. But I only have two eyes and I can't think of any hell worse than not being able to see. It's to the point now, though, that I have no choice. So I'm off for a few days while I let a surgeon, who looks young enough to be my grandson, poke, prod, cut, and implant on my eye. I'm one of those people who has a cataract on only one eye. Go figure. They're not going to correct the vision in it totally, because the other eye's vision is so near-sighted as well. So I'll have to wait for a couple of weeks to get new glasses and go back to work. Wish me luck! (I can do this....I can do this....I can do this....)

Hummingbird fact for today: A hummer’s heart can beat 1250 beats per minute when active and as slow as 50 beats per minute at night.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Talented Glass Artists

I use repurposed glass in my art. Glass is such an amazing medium. I admire those who can actually create glass. There is an Etsy group of these wonderfully talented artists and I encourage you to explore their wide range of skills. Visit when you have some time to explore. Their glass is not churned out in a factory - it is handcrafted art.

Hummingbird fact for today: The Ruby-throated hummingbird, most common in the US, weighs about 1/10 of an ounce (just over 3 grams), about the weight of a dime.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Fun Ways to Reclaim, Recycle, Repurpose

I discovered a great site with a group of very talented artists. All the work is made from reclaimed, recycled, and repurposed materials. The work is creative because the artists think out of the box. These talented people have found innovative ways to repurpose things I hadn't thought of repurposing! This site has everything from home decor items to jewelry to clothing to furniture. Each item is different and unique. Take a look at www.repurposed4you. It's a fun site to explore and marvel at the talent that is out there.

Today's hummingbird fact: The smallest Hummer is the Bee hummingbird, in Cuba, about 2 ½ inches long. The largest is the Giant hummingbird at about 8 ½ inches long.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Doing Nothing Requires a Nap

I love watching cats. Their movements are so graceful. When they stretch, they stretch all over. They spend the day doing nothing, and then take a nap to rest up. We have two cats - a yellow tabby and a black one that probably has some Siamese in him. They were pound kitties that we adopted. We have a mixed marriage - I'm originally from St. Louis and my wife was from the Kansas City side of the state. So our blonde cat is George (for George Brett) and our black cat is Ozzie (for Ozzie Smith). One minute they'll be snarling and glaring and swatting at each other. The next, they're curled up together on the bed napping. Ozzie is a touch-me-not. He sort of yips when you touch him. George likes to be with his people, but doesn't like to be held. I just learned this week that George will come when I whistle. Maybe he's just a dog in cat fur.

Today's hummingbird fact: Hummers flap their wings from 20 to over 50 beats per second. This rapid rate accounts for the audible “hum” we associate with them.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

I'm Proud of Her

Is it sexist to say that I am very proud of my wife? She is a constant source of amazement to me. It is her belief in my abilities that I am happily involved in making copper art and our little business is a true partnership. She made up her mind to return to college and makes A's. And she's a pretty good writer. Check this out:

Hummingbird fact for today: Hummingbirds can fly forward, backward, hover and even fly upside down. All except forward are very rare in other bird flight.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Humdrum Doldrums Monday

Do you ever feel the humdrum doldrums? You know, when you can't do what you want to do and have to do all those pesky little things you need to do because you've put them off as long as you can? That's today. The car registration is due this month so I have a vehicle inspection today. The truck is overdue for an oil change, so I'll go back to my mechanic for that after the car inspection. Got to make a trip in to the post office to mail some items we sold on eBay. The weather here is unseasonably warm so we'll take down the outside Christmas lights and store them away for another year. It's laundry and vacuum day for my wife. She spent all day yesterday working on bookkeeping so I stayed out of her hair. She's not a pleasant person when she's working on the books. We'd both much rather be getting ready for an art show or working on a wholesale order. I guess there are times when you just have to buckle down and take care of the mundane....

Hummingbird fact for the day: Hummers are the smallest birds in the world but have the largest hearts pound for pound.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Old Stuff, New Stuff

Remember George Carlin's bit on "stuff"? I always think of that bit this time of year when my wife has new "stuff". She goes through her old stuff to make room for the new stuff. Usually it's a major upheaval in the house. This year has been no exception. However, this year her old stuff ended up in my new stuff. She's a margarita drinker. She even keeps a bucket-o-margarita in the freezer. So naturally this year she received some new margarita glasses (mainly because I have managed to drop and break all her old ones). In order to get the new glasses in the cabinet, she had to clean out some old stuff. Part of that cleaning out process included four champagne flutes that are so seldom used I didn't even know we had them. I've utilized flutes before in my feeders but this was the motherload - four identical matching flutes. First we made sure that we could fit each with a stopper and feeding tube. Then I disappeared into the studio for several hours while my creative side took over. Those four flutes are now one amazing (if I do say so myself) multi-station hummingbird feeder. Sometimes cleaning out stuff has its rewards.

Hummingbird fact for today: Rufous hummingbirds migrate from Central America as far as Alaska – a 12,000 mile round trip, longer than any migrating goose.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


According to my thermometer, it was 12 degrees this morning. That's durn cold! At least we have no snow or ice on the ground. It does make it difficult to think about hummingbirds, though. Aren't they amazing creatures? The ruby-throated is the species found in Missouri in the warm months. It is generally believed Ruby-throated hummingbirds fly non-stop across the Gulf of Mexico in the spring and possibly in both directions. This trip is believed to take a hummer 18 to 20 hours. This is a remarkable journey and certainly the trip carries the extra danger of adverse winds with little margin of error for the tiny travelers. Birds lose a quarter to half their body weight during migration. Scientists suspect the birds navigate by stars when traveling at night. Some parts of the US have hummers all year for entertainment and enjoyment. Wouldn't that be nice? Fact for today:

A hummingbird will add up to one-half its weight in body fat in preparation for migration, a phase called hyperphagia.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

One Man's Scrap....

... is another man's art. I've been trying to get my studio organized. This is MAJOR as I tend toward the unorganized. So yesterday we gathered up all the scrap copper leftovers and took them to the recycler. The guys there are always on the lookout for the size/type of copper that I use, and sure enough they had some nice wire for me. So I sold my scrap and bought someone else's scrap which I will use in my art. The whole recycling circle is rather mind-boggling and wondrous. I guess if I were the philosophical type I could somehow take this into deeper thoughts. I'll leave that part up to you as you welcome the new year. It's only 3 1/2 months until the hummingbirds will return to Missouri. The hummingbird fact for today:

Hummingbirds are found only in the Western hemisphere and generally only in the tropical zones though several species migrate widely and range from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.