Pongo the Great

Houmas House Gardens

A couple of years ago Farmboy, the kids and I surprisingly decided to drive down to Mississippi and take my 95 yr old grandmother to Thanksgiving brunch at Houmas House in Louisiana.  What can I say;  we try to be an adventurous bunch whenever possible. That was the year that we discovered the Columbus Topiary Garden… pajamas and all.

This time of year makes me think of our trip: going home, that amazing lunch and sitting with my grandmother in the gardens. Boxwood hedge, century old live oaks dripping with Spanish moss, and distant sculptures framed by long allees create a series of exterior spaces to take in and savor. Let’s stroll through an old southern plantation garden, shall we?

Our day at Houmas House ended with standing on the levee overlooking the Mississippi River watching the sunset. Not too shabby. If you are in south Louisiana/New Orleans area during the holidays… the Thanksgiving Brunch is to die for. You will NEED a walk through the extensive gardens after you leave the table! Believe me.

For more information on Houmas House, its history and gardens or to make dinner reservations click here.

Back in the saddle…

Me and Momma riding

Junebug and I taking Paley and North for a ride.

I finally got back in the saddle… because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t.

The last time I lost a horse I was a freshman in college and I didn’t ride again for 10 years. It was too emotional and I was used to loving and having a relationship with the knowing beast that carried me around.

I got back in the saddle- on my gelding North who seems lost and displaced since we said good-bye to my mare Paley. She’s been a dear friend to me for the past 18 yrs.

I haven’t been blogging because I have been grieving with the knowledge of having to let her go (and then adjusting to “after”). I felt an undercurrent of sadness that rose to the immediacy of calling the vet to come as soon as he could.

Family life, farm life… it’s what I write about. It IS my life here as an artist. But I couldn’t talk about what was happening. I couldn’t give my name to the receptionist at the vet on the phone. I couldn’t trust myself to speak when the vet came to the farm. Farmboy had to be there all the time. I didn’t know if I would sob, be silent or speak.

So. On a cold and windy Thursday in Dec. we said good-bye… Farmboy, my sister-in-law, me, the vet and North. It was both beautiful and heart-breaking.

One day I will write about that experience, what my vet insisted on to allow my gelding to say goodbye and how it changed what was happening. He was wise and right and I am thankful for his years and insight. The picture in my mind haunts me and reminds me of something that I always considered as one of the sweetest and saddest things I’ve ever seen.

Paley and North

Paley and North saying hello for the first time. He was very malnourished- only off the track a couple of days.

I got back in the saddle to help North find a different purpose than being her companion and to help me connect because he and the pony Queenie have been second string- the supporting cast.  She was my priority. I feel like I could walk away from riding right now. My spark is gone. She was my etch-a-sketch. When we went out, I came back shaken up… erased. Fresh and new… mentally and physically. My step was lighter and I could conquer much.

I got back in the saddle. It’s a start, right?

1st pic of me and Paley

The day we bought Paley.

Me and Paley Hunting

Our first ride in the hunt field with Cherry Valley Hunt. 


Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.


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