Running to catch up

Hi Everyone!

Yes, once again I’m running behind. This week has been full of deadlines, deliveries, paperwork and the dreaded taxes. 

Hopefully I can get back on schedule in the next couple of days. 

Until then, go be more organized than I am right now. 
Photo credit Tim Gouw

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It’s wild out here

Hi Everyone!

I’m late. I’m late. I’m late. I had big plans for this week. We all know how that goes. 

My plan was to finish up the painting that is in progress and start a new one. Sounds simple, right? Well, Monday work started pouring in. Yes, I’m in the process of “retiring” (loud laughter here), but I’m not there yet and am both phasing one business out while phasing another one in. It’s complicated. I also have four logo designs in the works and they take up some time. Now I haven’t had a logo to do in about two years (Seems folks can get them online for $5 now. Don’t EVEN get me started!) and unfortunately none of these are paying jobs. One is for myself,  one for my daughter, one for a church event and one for our local beekeeping association. They still have to get done sometime soon though. 

Then one of the dogs stuck his nose somewhere that he shouldn’t and had some sort of allergic reaction that required some doctoring on my part on and off for a couple of days. 

I had to stop working to handle some of the remaining estate stuff for a while, then D. comes home Thursday afternoon dragging the flu with him. While he is in bed with chills and nausea, Miss L. and I are on horse care duty normally handled by D.  Then, wouldn’t you know it, these people I live with want food. Every. Single. Day. Oh, and the four legged ones are even more demanding than the two legged ones.

Did I mention that the element in the oven died? Yep. While waiting on the new one to arrive I had to revise every meal plan for the week. Oh, and our last dryer died this week (D. and I had two of everything when we got married. Not anymore.) so call me Laura Ingalls Wilder as I haul the wet clothes to the clothesline. I don’t mind it in the summer, but it’s FEBRUARY! 

As D. began to recover from the flu he got bored, but wasn’t up to functioning yet, so he begged me to go get his trail cam so he could see woodland creatures (Deer. Assessing the post hunting season deer population). So, Miss L. and I don our fanciest muck boots and head down the muddy pasture, through the woods, cross the mighty Raccoon Creek to retrieve the precious trail cam, ford Raccoon Creek again without dropping precious cargo, slip slide back up the pasture trying to reach the safety of soggy yard. We almost made it. Two feet from the fence Miss L. was sucked in by Carolina red clay. I had to hold onto to the fence post and lean as far as I could, stretch out my hand to grasp hers and pull her to safety without falling into the mire myself.  Finally the trail cam was delivered to the anxiously awaiting D.  

Was I done then? Nope. Mr. Anti Technology wanted to see the pictures on my big computer screen. Sigh. Finally he was happily settled in watching lions and tigers and bears. Oh my! Ok, it wasn’t that exciting but we did get to see crows, squirrels, fox, rabbits, raccoons (they don’t call it Raccoon Creek for nothing), coyotes and lots of deer.  We are pretty sure a bear wanders through occasionally so maybe one day….

Finally dinner was done, cleanup was done, clothes brought in from the line in the last tiny bit of remaining light and I thought I was done. Then this weak voice comes from the bedroom. “Did you plug the fence back in after you fed the horses”? DANG! No. Bob the horse takes every possible opportunity to escape when the fence is off and I did not want to wrangle horses in the middle of the night. So once again I don my lovely muck boots, grab a coat and a flashlight and head to the barn. Before I get to the fence I hear Sweetie Pie the cat rattling around in her big bag of cat food that once again she has knocked off a cabinet for a feeding frenzy. As I rounded the corner to yell at her I realized that Sweetie Pie was at my feet and the rattling was still going on. My flashlight caught the glow of two beady, guilty eyes attached to a big ‘ole possum less than two feet from me. 

Mr. Sickly had to turn his own fence on. 

Have a great week! 

Shakin’ it up

Hi Everyone,

How has your week been? Mine has been a little busier than planned. That darn To Do list got longer and I have been scrambling to keep up this week. It may be a working weekend depending on how today goes.

This time last week I was doing some final packing and getting the dogs ready to go board at the vet. I can tell you that they were less than thrilled. The Rottens do not have spa accommodations there like they do at home.  

Friday afternoon we (D., Miss L., Miss G. and myself) headed to Charleston to see my daughter, Wrenn, son-in-law, Drew and the grandpups, Harley and Kayden. We didn’t get to see them for Christmas so this was our Christmas visit. We had decided before Christmas to forgo the whole gift buying thing (you can read my whiney post, Christmas Crazy for more about that) in lieu of some adventure.

What did we do? We climbed around like a bunch of monkeys. Seriously. We strapped on helmets and harnesses and played, seriously played, for two hours on a ropes course at Wild Blue Ropes. IT WAS AWESOME! 



I knew Miss G. and Miss L would love it because they both love to find a big ‘ole tree to climb and to climb it at high as possible. The rest of us were looking forward to the adventure, but speaking for myself, I was looking for a challenge.  

It’s so easy to fall into a pattern and a rut. I get bored very easily and go into a funk when I do. Winter is especially bad for me so this was a perfect way to end January as I go face my arch enemy- February. February tries to defeat me every year and this has been going on as far back as I can remember. February is cold, gray, depressing and seems to last FOREVER. So, swinging and climbing 35 feet up in the air on a 67 degree day in January was beyond enjoyable. 

It was also a great feeling to know that my 55 year old body could still do such physically challenging activities. I think D. was feeling pretty good that he got across the dangling ropes section, deemed the toughest part of the course. I couldn’t have done that part in my 20’s so I just cheered him on. I did, however, at the end of the day, make myself jump off the very top platform to get off the course. Thirty-five feet off the ground I think it was. I don’t really mind heights, but I do mind jumping off them!  I would have been very disappointed in myself if I had chickened out and trust me, there was some internal arguing going on. In the end I was able to give myself a big mental pat on the back. 

After the ropes we chilled at W& D’s apartment, took a walk with the dogs then headed out to eat some excellent seafood and my daughter had arranged for two of my long time friends to meet us there. Folks, I just couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.  Sunday morning we just chilled with our coffee and compared sore muscles before we had to head back to the hills. 

If you are suffering from the winter funk, I highly suggest getting out of your comfort zone and do something adventurous and a little bit scary. Definitely include some super special people to make it that much more memorable. I couldn’t tell you what I got for Christmas in 2016, but in 2020 I will be able to tell you what I did in January 2018! 

Go shake it up this week! 

Eggs, eggs, eggs

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a great week. It’s hard to believe we are almost done with January. Of course the dreaded February is coming. I have a tough time with February and even though it is our shortest month, it always seems like 90 days long to me. I have lots of things in the works or in the planning stage so I hope that will keep my mind off the gloomy winter days.

I’m going to keep this short today because I have a road trip to see my daughter and son-in-law this weekend and haven’t even started packing. Oh yeah, the chicken coop has to be cleaned too before I can go. 

Speaking of chickens, that leads right into what I’m working on now. My 2018 plan is to work on one theme pretty much until I’m sick of it and ready for a new one. After several years now of trial, error (lots of those) and experimenting, I have settled on concentrating on three areas that I never get tired of. Drawing, painting and textiles. I will go into these more as I get through the year.

Right now I am working on eggs! Why eggs, you ask?  Well, because I have always loved the simple shape, light does interesting things to them, there is symbolism involved and last but not least, thanks to our chickens, I have a steady supply. 

So far, I have done this drawing. Sometimes the drawings will be in color pencil, sometimes just charcoal or graphite. I already have my next egg drawing in the planning stage. I’m waiting to see if this one is finished yet.


This painting is still a work in progress. The first picture is the beginning stage and the second is where I am with it now. I had hoped to finish it this week but life got in the way. Hopefully next week I can finish it before I start on another commission piece. I’m pleased so far. I like the light and the graphic lines of the wire egg basket.



I will hopefully have pictures from our trip next week. We have some fun things planned. For now, I hope you have a productive week. I’m going to get to work. 

Regeneration

Hi Everyone!

I hope you had a great week. We are about half way through January now. How are those resolutions going? Are you one of those folks who pick a word for your year? You know, one word that signifies what you want to accomplish or hope to bring more of into your year. Something like, Health or Focus?  I have been thinking about what word I would pick for 2018 and decided on Regeneration. 


So why Regeneration, you ask? Well, last week, right after I posted to this blog, I walked over to my computer and hit SEND on one of the most difficult emails I have ever sent.  It was an email to my clients informing them of my decision to retire from 30+ years in the graphic design/ printing industry. 

The thought behind this decision began about February of last year as I looked at my profit & loss statement while doing my taxes. I realized that my expenses were about to overtake my profits. There were several factors for this including higher costs for software and a great deal more travel time. D. and I discussed what would I do to replace the income if I closed my business but to be honest there were not many feisible options where we live. 

Fast forward about seven months and I find myself a parent again and beginning to fall into a different part time business while still running my main business. It was obviously a little too much on one plate. Without going into all the boring details, once again God was telling me that a change was in order. I’ve been through this enough times now to know not to fight it. If I fight it things will get much worse and I will still find myself exactly where He wants me to be eventually anyway. I learn hard, but I do learn!

Also in all the crazy that was going on, D. and I realized our health was suffering. We both were struggling with insomnia, were mentally and physically worn down, not eating right and not getting proper exercise. Once again we were responsible for someone else’s well being and we did not have the option of a major health crisis. We had hoped to get a lot more taken care of at his sister’s house before it went up for sale, but exhaustion was setting in and things at our home were falling apart. We had given it our best but it was time to stop the insanity. 

When D. retired last March, we had visions of travel and much more time for our many hobbies. Well we all know how those best laid plans go, but at our age we don’t have unlimited time to do the things we have been putting off. Roll all these factors together and you will see that we have to adjust, renew and grow into a new and unknown direction now. 

What we do know is that we have a lovely young girl who needs stability and guidance. We know we have to look after ourselves to give it to her. No more working two and three jobs like both of us did when we and our other kids were younger. But we both deserve and desperately need some time to chase some dreams and enjoy some things that we have put off for a very long time. 

I am probably right now more than a little jealous of some of you and my close friends who are traveling to awesome places that I have always wanted to go. It’s a very real struggle. We had some cool plans in the works. We aren’t writing them off, but they will be delayed and different now.  To deal with the disappointment and to be sane and pleasant people we have to give ourselves the gift of time instead. Time to rest, renew our energy, find our new normal and grow in ways we didn’t know existed. A REGENERATION of our lives. 

I have a new and interesting part time income stream that does not include hours of driving every week or rushing to make sure I’m back in time to pick up Miss L. Those two things alone relieve a huge stress load and I have more time. More time that I can finally give to my artwork that has slowly but steadily been bringing in more income as well. It’s pretty much now or never. I don’t have any guarantee that I have until the age of 80 to start an art career like Grandma Moses and the desire to make stuff has been the one and only constant of my five decades. I think I owe it a higher ranking for its consistency and perseverance if nothing else…like the fact I need it like oxygen. 

So there you have it.  REGENERATION in 2018 in whatever form it takes. I expect an interesting year. 

I don’t hear from many of you, but would love to.  Share your goals, resolutions and/or words.  Have an awesome week!

Rainy day reorganization

Hi Everyone,

It has been one more week already, but in a good way. I hope yours is going well also.

After being sick last week I was already behind on Monday but we were under the Big Chill so school was put on a delay Monday, then canceled completely on Tuesday. Miss L. was loving the schedule, but if you have ever tried to work from home with a kid of any age, you know it is challenging.  Normally I will come up with chores and activities to avoid the technology black hole, but I gave up the fight this week. Luckily Miss L. has been on an Andy Grifith Show binge, so if she had to spend time watching TV I figured that was about as good as it gets. 

On Sunday evening D. and I did a furniture giveaway marathon delivery session. We had several pieces of furniture that we did not need and were taking up valuable real estate in both our house and storage unit. I started just giving them away and we delivered them to their new homes Sunday. This made room for a major house overhaul that I am so excited about. 

First, a beautiful old Victorian piece that belonged to D.’s great-grandparents now resides in G’s room. We have a drawer to fix and one missing drawer pull to replace but otherwise somehow this darling has survived some hard times and now looks soooooo much better in the room than the chest that was a discard from a friend many years ago.  It found its way to a thrift store for its next life. 


You know when you fix one thing that leads to another thing, etc.? Well, this process is affecting every room I think. The buffet that was being used as our dresser now has a new home and we were able to move D.’s dresser from my SIL’s house to our room. It is much more vertical and has more room. That opened up space for… MY DESK! Which opened up space in Miss L’s room to start moving in her “new” bedroom suite (it was her Mother’s childhood furniture that was intended to go to Miss L.). Cleaning out our storage allows us to move my son’s bed to storage and out of Miss. L’s room as well. And best of all, we can now go back to using our kitchen table TO EAT ON instead of me working at. Whew!

I’m so excited! But really tired of moving furniture!!!!

And folks, that’s not all. Check out my new baby easel! I CAN PAINT AGAIN! I can’t paint big canvases but I CAN PAINT AGAIN!!


So, I have to go now and clean up my work mess on the kitchen table so we can have a proper meal tonight and MAYBE squeeze in a little quality time with my paints just because I can. Do you hear the tapping of my happy dance? 

Have an awesome week!!

Happy 2018!

Hi Everyone!

Happy New Year! I’m running a little late this week thanks to a round with the trending crud/flu that took me out of commission completely for about three days. I am rarely sick so it drives me crazy to not get all of my To Do list done. I think one of my goals this year is to not be so hard on myself. I am often my own worst enemy. 

So do you make resolutions or set new goals at the beginning of the year? I always do. I like the feeling of a fresh start. About November I start pondering what did or didn’t happen that year and what I want to accomplish in the new year.

In 2017 life happened and most of my plans had to be put on hold, but I had set a goal of improving my knitting skills and learning how to knit socks. Little did I know just how important that seemingly little goal would be in 2017. I ended the year with two good pairs of hand knit socks and my first knitted sweater. That doesn’t sound like much but honestly I think my sanity was saved by knitting.


My actual amount of knitting included four prototype socks until I found two patterns I liked and managed two finished pairs of socks. So how did my knitting goal save my sanity? I am a born maker. I think with my hands more than my brain alone. All through school I got in trouble for drawing in class. It has now been proven that students who draw in class retain information better. Unfortunately back in my day, the teachers didn’t believe me when I told them that. 

I had already started working on socks when my sister-in-law died and I had yarn on the needles. When Miss L. came to live with us, our newly painted and remodeled guest room/office/studio became her room. Suddenly my life line of creative endeavors got packed up and sent to storage. I was left with just my drawing pencils, paper and my knitting. I no longer had my paints that I had enjoyed so much in the previous year and was making vast improvement with. My easel is a big, complicated travel easel that would not fit anywhere in the house now. I will be honest. I was heartbroken. Anyone who has a creative drive will understand. It’s like oxygen for us. We HAVE to do it to be a tolerable, stable human being. 

Knitting became my only outlet. There was so much going on during the past six months that I rarely had time for anything more than a row of stitches in stolen moments or in the middle of the night during weeks and weeks of insomnia as my poor brain tried to solve some great big problems. I’m very thankful for the two commissioned drawings I had this year. They gave me the opportunity to keep my drawing skills fresh and something to focus on besides what was going on around me and feel a little more normal.

When I say that knitting saved my sanity, I mean that the rhythm of the needles calmed me when the stress was overwhelming, the beautiful colors and texture of the yarn fed my soul, the difficult parts of the pattern focused my mind on something away from the frustration I was feeling and I could escape the world for a little while with my earbuds, some music and my knitting. I will forever be thankful that the simple act of making something got me through such a difficult time. The people that live with me will also be thankful! 

To top it all off, I now have the MOST cozy, comfortable socks and sweater that I have ever owned.  Now I know why some knitters get addicted to sock making.  


So, what is on my 2018 goal list?  Lots and lots of making!  I already have a new project on my needles but it will be a gift so I can’t divulge more than that right now. There are actually several gifts on my list. Miss L. and I will be sewing some gifts and hopefully some clothes for ourselves.  I am IMPATIENTLY waiting on my new table easel that was delayed by the snow storm. THERE WILL BE PAINTING DONE THIS YEAR! I will fill in details as I go along in the year. 


2018 is starting out with a feeling of relief of surviving 2017, a settling into the new normal for us, an appreciation for the simple, everyday joys and a looking forward now. 2017 involved much looking into the past and though it wasn’t my past, it was hard to watch the sadness and pain that those near to me were suffering.  It’s good to see smiles, hear laughter and sense peace in them now. 

I wish you all a beautiful 2018. Go make something good. 

Getting cozy

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a lovely Christmas or Hanukkah and are looking forward to 2018. My Christmas started out pretty rocky and emotional, but in the end turned out better than I expected. With all the moving around of stuff in our house and storage unit, I never did find some of my Christmas decorations. The tree was starless this year, but we all came through it and Miss L. had a good Christmas so we will count the holiday as a success. I got to see both my kids via FaceTime on Christmas Eve.  If you have nothing else good to say about technology, the ability to stay in touch with long distance loves makes all the other technological headaches worthwhile!

She asked Santa Clause for her own can of olives! ­čśé

Now that Christmas is over and gifts have been given, I can show you the commissioned portrait I did. I was pleased with how this young man turned out. 


We are settling in for a long winter now. It is cold, cold, cold here (in North Carolina standards anyway) and we have our beloved wood stove going constantly. There is no warmer, cozier heat. It’s harder to look after the animals and make sure they stay warm and the water bowls thawed. Coming into the house after feeding time is wonderful. The rotten dogs seem to appreciate the warmth too. 


This is the first year ever that I have looked forward to winter.  After the stress and long grueling hours of paperwork, phone calls, emails and physically moving furniture, endless stacks of boxes and extreme cleaning sessions, I am ready for some downtime. Hopefully the estate will be wrapped up soon and the worst will be over. 


For now, I am staying snuggled in with knitting a sweater and planning my new year.  I have signed up for my daughter’s 2018 fitness program. If you need some motivation to get off your butt this year check out her program at bodybynutrition.com. It’s free and she has a goal sheet, food and fitness logs and a private FaceBook page to help you along.  You do need to hurry though.  Signup ends December 31. 

There are several goals and plans in the works for 2018.  I will fill you in on those as the year progresses. It would make for a very long blog post and some I can’t talk about yet.  D. and I are hoping to get back to our long list of farm and home improvements that got put on hold this year.  As much as I love to travel, I feel the need to just hunker down and stay home in 2018. Of course, if the possibility to visit my son in Hawaii presents itself…I think I could be convinced to leave home for awhile. 

Gotta go! HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2018 here we come!

The Untangler

Hi Everyone,

Hope you are well and all is right in your world today.  I made the Executive Decision (I’m self-employed so I get to do that) on Thursday to take next week off to, well, get Christmas stuff done and take a little break. The week before and after Christmas are always my slowest of the year anyway. I did have to wrap up a couple of projects first thus the delay in this week’s post and the fact that the pictures I wanted to upload just won’t.

Today’s subject is something I have been pondering for about two and a half months now.  It started purcolating in my little brain while D. and I were at the beach in October.  He was wanting to go fishing, but had a big, tangled mess of fishing line. After a few minutes of watching his frustration in trying to untangle the mess, I took it, sent him off to make lunch and in about 15 minutes presented him with the separate pieces of line. It reminded me of my early years in retail where the jewelry department would bring me boxes of tangled up necklaces to sort out on slow nights back in my area of the home shop. I seemed to be the only one with the patience to work at the mess until each piece was free. Little did I know that this tiny talent would be tested time and time again.


If you have the blessing of several decades under your belt, I’m sure you have recognized patterns and recurring themes in your life. If you are early in your journey on this earth maybe not, but if you pay attention, you will too. One of mine is The Untangler evidently. Physically and metaphorically. 

In my recent middle-of-the-night knitting sessions I realized that as I made hundreds of little loops to create a garment, my brain was tediously un-looping one problem after another in this tangled up mess that is my late sister-in-law’s estate. I also realized that over the years I have been given the task OR had forced upon me the task of straightening out  messes of increasing complication and they were usually created by OTHER PEOPLE. I have made my share of messes all by myself but either they were not so bad or I’m more proficient at fixing my own messes. 
As I knitted I tried to think of the names I would give to the subtle talents of other people I know. These would be people I know very well because these are not obvious talents nor are they the professions of these folks though elements may be involved. The Healer would be one of the first. Not doctors or nurses, but those glorious people who, through the almost lost art of listening and attention, help you heal from life’s wounds. The Connector would be another. They know EVERYONE and make mental connections that bring different people together to accomplish goals, big and little. There is The Mediator that has probably been helping their people work out differences since the first playground incident. The Warrior comes in to decide and end a dispute The Mediator has given up on. I haven’t seen an abundance of The Warriors, which is good, not because they are bad people, but because to end a battle there is often a high personal and emotional price for The Warrior to pay just like in any war. 

This brings up another observation. These ingrained “gifts” are not chosen and are often a source of high stress. For me to untangle a big mess takes enormous energy, time and frustration. Time away from what I want and need to be doing and looking at the list above I think that would be true in each category. To live as a society and it could be argued, to even survive as humans we need each and every one of these abilities as well as any I have not mentioned.  I guess we should look at them as a part of our contribution for life on planet Earth. 

Have a wonderful week and bless you for THE GIFTS you bring to ease the difficulties of humankind. 

Photo credit…if one shows up its mine but there seems to be an uploading issue today. I gave up waiting on it to load.