Full on crazy

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I was missing in action last week. I was going to give you a day to day run down of what last week was like but it’s too exhausting to look back on. 

Primarily we got our home and property officially up for sale and in one week have had eight showings. Some days we have had up to three in one day. We know that this has been the initial rush and that it should be slowing down soon, but our normal life has been put on hold. We wanted to get the place listed this Spring because we know it is going to probably be more of a marathon than a sprint. Our place is not everyone’s cup of tea. We are very secluded in a very rural area where the nearest grocery store is almost a half hour drive away. The plus side is that there are very few properties available out here. 

We still have ongoing projects to do, like the new ceiling fan we installed yesterday and the new heat pump that is going in tomorrow. Throw in a lawn mower that has been in the repair shop for a month and a sick dog and a Dad who is sick…

Obviously no artwork has been done. I did finish the sweater I started knitting in December, but it immediately got stuffed in a drawer and probably won’t see daylight until Fall. 


The flowers are blooming and the weather has been wonderful! We have turnip greens and kale coming in faster than I can pick it and the honeybees are having a great honey flow so far. The kids are doing good. One got accepted into NC State Veteraninary School and we are super excited for her! Life is doing what life does with all its challenges and glory. 

I hope to stay the course with my weekly posts, but life happens so bear with me if I don’t. “Thank you” to my friends who celebrate, commiserate and advise us through all this. You know who you are and I love you bunches.

Have an awesome week!!!

The struggle is real

Hi Everyone!

I hope life has been treating you well while I was away. We had a lovely Easter weekend in Charleston, SC with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson. The drive down was somewhat stressful as we dodged severe thunderstorms from our house all the way there. We were carrying cargo of a handmade dining room table that my brother-in-law made for their new house and a rocking horse he made years ago for my daughter when she was a baby, that I am now passing down to Brayden. Precious stuff that we did not want ruined in the rain. Yes, we had both carefully covered, but driving a truck at 70 mph seems to force rain into every nook and cranny. Luckily we managed to miss the worst of in, but did endure long waits in traffic due to wrecks and downed trees. What normally takes 5 hours took more like 7.

Enjoy the struggle for the perfect family portrait! 


The rest of the weekend we helped landscape their backyard, explored their HUGE neighborhood and cooked an Easter feast Sunday morning before heading home. We were thankful for nice weather, normal drive time on the way back and for our awesome neighbors who chicken sat and looked after the place while we were gone. 

Now we are back to reality and this week has been a doozy. Lots of driving to appointments and errands plus a couple of hours rearranging storage units as we cram more stuff in. People have asked me why I am still keeping up with how much I declutter. The reason is that while our house now looks more open and spacious, the storage units look just as crammed full as ever and if I didn’t know how much has left I would still be overwhelmed by it all. 

Because we have no idea what we will eventually want to keep in our new house, we don’t want to get rid of the quality furniture yet. We have now consolidated all the furniture into one unit and when this place sells we may have to add more to it depending on where we live during the house construction. 

The second unit now has one half full of stuff we have packed up that we want to keep, but do not NEED right now. Uh, those boxes of family photos, extra pillows, hunting gear (sigh), ART SUPPLIES, etc.  The other half is still stuff that I have to clean out. The third unit now HAPPILY has a walkway down the middle and shelving to store things. This is the stuff I have to finish cleaning out from my former life.  Ideally we would get rid of this one when I’m done, but we are afraid we will need it to store some of our current furniture if we have to downsize to a two bedroom home while we are building. It’s all very complicated! 

This coming week the house officially goes on the market and I have one problem area of the house to finish clearing out. We have had our lawnmower in the shop for repairs since February. We are praying it will be done today so we don’t have to keep borrowing a friend’s mower. There is a list of small repairs that we will be working on for a few more weeks and of course the dang HVAC has to be fixed. Arrrrrgh. 

To add to the fun, we have to finish cleaning out the tool shed that includes my large stack of beekeeping supplies and I will have to become the cleaning Nazi every day, not just on the weekend.  I have to give some cred to Miss L. because she has very dutifully sorted through and packed up a great deal of her stuff. We will finish up her room today. It’s not easy for a twelve year old to go minimalist! 


Have I done any artwork you ask? Not much. I got about an hour and a half in on this sketch Monday. That’s all for the week. Will I be able to return to my hour a day schedule? I am having doubts.  Staying on top of the cleaning and yard work while showing the house will probably be my full time job. While we only planted some greens in the garden here, we are hoping to plant some basics in my parents garden. Since they can no longer maintain a garden we will be taking over that…an hours drive away. There is also that whole problem of clearing land for a pasture, building a barn, finding a place for apple trees and all the flowers and herbs we will be taking with us. It’s VERY complicated! 

For the record I’m not complaining, really I’m not. I see progress and am more than ready to make the move, but this will be, by far, the most complicated move I have ever made and I think D. would say the same. We decide each week what the two or three most important projects are, focus on those and try not to think too much about the rest until they are priorty. 

If you are facing a big ‘ole project or problem, my only advice is break it down into manageable chunks, then try not to lose sleep over the remainder. I will go now and try to take my own advice. Have a great week!

Light through the fog

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to the weekend! I hope your week has been great. Next week I am going to skip posting here. Almost every day has an appointment for someone that requires me as driver and we are going to Charleston to spend Easter with my daughter and her family. Yes, more grandbaby snuggling. So Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate and I’m wishing all of you a great week!

I started this drawing the beginning of last week and I have been stuck studying it since last Thursday I believe.  In case you can’t tell, it’s a drawing of sunlight beginning to burn through the fog in a forest. It’s a pretty good visualization of how my week has been and maybe my mind frame is what has me stuck on how to finish it. 


Last Thursday night I picked up my son at the airport where he flew in from the Virgin Islands. On Sunday my daughter, son-in-law and grandson drove up from Charleston and we all got together for a visit and for my son, sister, brother-in-law and my parents to meet the newest family member. Those hours were the sun shining through the fog. Laughter, hugs, baby snuggles, good food and time together. 


Monday the fog began to roll back in as we went to a meeting with my Dad’s oncologist to discuss his upcoming treatment. It was a difficult meeting and I was emotionally fried by the time I got home. Tuesday my daughter and her family headed back south and I drove my son back down to catch his flight. It takes me at least two days to work through the sadness of their leaving each and every time. Add to this the fact that my nine year old, goofy mutt suddenly began losing use of one of his back legs and a trip to the vet revealed a spinal issue that doesn’t sound reversable and probably progressive. Right now there is way more fog than sunlight. 

I really don’t want to be Debbie Downer right now, but life kinda sucks at the moment and I’m struggling to stay positive so my apologies for the gloom. Prayers and good thoughts would definitely be appreciated. Dad starts treatment on the 25th, every day for five and a half weeks, both chemo and radiation. It’s going to take lots of time and energy for all of us to get through this so I’m not sure if I will be posting regularly for a while. I will do the best I can. Those of you who regularly show up here, thanks for reading and sending comments and encouragement. 

Hoping that life is being good to you, but if not, I will have you in my thoughts and prayers as well! Peace be with you and I will be back as soon as I possibly can. 

Tackle box therapy 

Hi Everyone,

How have you been? We have had one of those weeks where almost every day has been packed full. Monday and Tuesday seemed to have been winter’s last rally, complete with snow on Tuesday. Thankfully it looks like we have entered true Spring now. 

I’m going to keep this short today. Last night I picked my son up at the airport and he will be in for a few days visit as well as my daughter, son-in-law and that soon to be spoiled grandbaby. We keep getting more and more depressing news about my Dad’s health so the visits will be a bright spot this week. Needless to say, I’m going to spend every possible minute with family for the next few days. Tomorrow Miss L. has a color run and immediately after that my bonus daughter has a horse show. Sunday we all converge at my parents’ for food, fun and baby spoilage.

This week has been a continuation of the never ending cleaning, decluttering and packing up. We are reaching crunch time now that prime house selling season is upon us. The other day during my storage unit cleaning, I unearthed an old “friend”.  This fishing tackle box started holding my art supplies way back in high school. It was then a constant companion in college as I hauled drawing pencils and charcoal back and forth from art classes to dorm room. At some point I moved on to art supplies that no longer fit in this simple box. Airbrushes, tubes of paint, cameras, COMPUTERS were all too big. 


It’s funny how at this time of major downsizing in my life, my tackle box reappeared just when I needed it. In a couple of weeks I am going to have to find a place to hide my art supplies at a calls notice. My paints and canvas have been packed up and are soon heading to the same storage unit my tackle box lived in. I will be down to just pencils, pastels and paper that can easily be tucked away. It’s crazy to get excited over finding this simple, super efficient, portable box, but it solved a major problem of how to wrangle my supplies in a stressful situation. Divine intervention. Therapy in a tackle box…that does not include cleaning fish! 

Here is this week’s work in progress. I’m trying to draw fog. It’s a challenge. 


I’m off to make coffee for the “boy”. Have an awesome week! 

A simple escape

Hi Everyone,

How was your week? I have been running behind this week because I escaped last weekend further into the mountains with my two best friends from college. The three of us have over 30 years of history together and do our best to reconnect in person once a year. This year we found ourselves (thanks to the research of the planner member of our threesome) staying in a super cool converted cider house on an apple orchard in Virginia. A few years ago we discussed how we would like to start taking classes when we were away on these trips. Once again our Planner came through and booked us in a class held right on the orchard, walking distance from our Cider House abode. We learned how to graft apple trees. 


D. and I purchased several heirloom apple trees a few years ago, but before we could get a proper fence around them, the ever present and ever hungry deer ate them down to the ground. So much for that investment! Needless to say, I was tickled to take this class for a whopping $12 that included three trees to take home. Since my planner friend (a former science teacher) just wanted the experience and not the trees, I happily paid for her class and got her trees as well. So six different varieties of apple trees currently reside in one of our closets for a couple more weeks (as instructed) then will spend the summer SURROUNDED BY FENCING outside until we plant them this Fall on the new farm site. 

The rest of our weekend was spent catching up on life and eating quantities of junk food that we generally avoid the rest of the year. 

Back to reality this week has included more cleaning out and home repairs and animal maintenance. D. and I are trying to get back into Spring/Summer fitness. The extended daylight hours and warmer temps include many more hours of work. I have been trying to get my bees ready for splitting the colony (hopefully to prevent them swarming) and honey flow. D. has been cleaning up horses and checking their feet. All the mud this winter has been tough on them. Anyway, we are eating better and trying to be more consistent with the vitamins. 


I just finished this painting of my favorite flower. I love the simplicity and determination of the Daisy. Every summer our pasture is covered in them in spite of being regularly trampled by equine and often brightly bloom through drought conditions. Tough, beautiful, cheerful. What’s not to love about them? 


A quick update on my monthly decluttering challenge. I am still running a little behind, but not too far. If I were to count everything that D. has cleaned out of the two barns I would probably be way ahead. Drum roll please. 1,163 items removed from house or storage! There is much more to go but our largest walk in closet can now be walked into instead of burrowed into. All family members have pitched in, if not happily, at least willingly. Today I drag out the summer clothes and we start paring down the winter wardrobes. The majority of the decluttering has been donated, but there has been a good amount that had to go into the trash. Why do broken things stay stuck in corners of cabinets or closets? 

That’s it for this week folks. I have summer clothes to pull out and I promised the chickens a clean coop today. Have a productive week and catch up with some friends! 

Spring!

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are well and the sun is shining where you are. Spring has sprung FINALLY and though it’s still cool here, the sun IS shining. The flowers are starting to bloom and one of my bee colonies survived the winter to happily do honeybee stuff again. Unfortunately a 50% loss of our bees is the norm anymore and I lost my other colony. The humans around here and nearby towns are suffering from some nasty stomach flu. It hasn’t made it to our house and I darn sure hope it doesn’t. Fresh air and sunlight are desperately needed. 

We have kicked it into high gear this week. We have a goal of having our place ready to sell the first week of April. D. and I spent yesterday cleaning out closets (me) and barns (him) then taking another truckload of donations off to a charity store.  I have been working with Miss L. to clean out her outgrown (I think she grows an inch a month) clothes and donate items she no longer needs. This weekend we are having a new roof put on. That’s hopefully our biggest expense and the rest will just be minor repairs. Our lawnmower is in the shop so we hope it is done so we can get the grass trimmed by our deadline. I’m trying to keep a positive outlook on the selling process, but it’s in my top 5 stressors. 

That brings me to my hour a day drawing sessions. Best thing I have done for myself in a long time. I finished a pastel painting this week in three days! I got in an extra hour one evening, but that’s pretty fast for me. I started this still life to enter into a competition by the end of the month. It’s an online artist group that has a monthly competition where the prize is art supplies. That is as good as money. Art supplies are expensive! 


My hour is my meditation time. I have tried meditation. Can’t do it. But I can get into that flow state when I’m drawing or painting and honestly don’t hear or see much of anything around me. My hyperactive brain gets a break. If I’m working on a boring part I can listen to podcast, but I can’t always tell you what it was about. With a pending move and Dad’s health I need the mental break. This morning I started a new painting so here is a little detail.


This weekend I am heading further into the hills on a trip with my two best friends from college. We try to get away once a year but Life hasn’t cooperated the past couple of years so I’m very excited to have some quality time with them again. Then when I get back the whole selling, packing, buying or building adventure starts for real. Say a prayer for my husband. I’m not easy to live with when I have to be showing a house and constantly on edge to keep the place spotless. 

I highly suggest finding an hour to do something you enjoy and can lose yourself in. The benefits so far have been great. Now I need to quit kicking myself for not figuring it out earlier. Go. Go now and do your thing! 

Routine rescue

Hi Everyone,

Hopefully you have had a great week. Mine has been spent getting back into the routines of home after being away last week. It was hard to leave the little guy and the 73 degree weather. As I drove the five hours north the skies got grayer, then the rain started and I watched the temperature drop steadily until it was 39 degrees in our driveway. I seriously considered turning around and heading back South! 

At least the temps have been somewhat warmer this week even though the gloom still lingers. Trees are beginning to bloom as well as the daffodils and forsythia. Every winter my Grandma would announce over Sunday lunch, “I’m not going to live to see another Spring”.  This went on for many years until it became a family joke. Grandma finally had enough and stated, “one year I will be right!”  I’m beginning to understand how Grandma felt. I swear the winters get longer and I wonder if I’m going to make it through. 

Anyway, Spring is teasing so there’s hope. The routines I’ve been working on the past several months have kicked back in this week, though the impending house listing has put me into renewed decluttering and packing unnessarys with a vengeance and some house cleaning has been put off until tomorrow (Saturday). I prefer to do the boring house stuff during the week and save Saturday for big projects or occasionally some fun. I have not dropped my 30 day minimalism challenge. I will update you on the number of things that have left home at the end of the month. We are also working on another barn clean out. Whew! Too. Much. Stuff.

My routine of drawing/painting one hour a day has gone surprisingly well. I had just started on my recent picture last week when I got the call that baby was on his way. This Monday I started back on it and finished it Thursday. There is likely five hours in this one because I had an extra hour Monday evening to work on it. That’s called “gravy” here in the South. A little something extra special. So this is a pastel painting of our Rhode Island Red chickens. I’m swearing off liquid paint at least for the time being. Pastel is FAST. Excuse the messy edges. I’m giving you the unedited, truth in advertising, version.


I just printed out my next three reference photos so stay tuned. I’m hoping to enter into a contest with next week’s work. That’s it for now. I’m ready for a lazy Friday evening. Have a great weekend! 

Thank you!

Hi Everyone,

I hope life is sunny where you are. We have rain AGAIN! 

I want to thank all of you who reached out with messages of concern, comfort and encouragement after last week’s post. It meant a great deal and made my heart hurt less. Thank you! Thank you!

My friend passed away on Saturday and even though I attended her funeral on Wednesday it’s not going to sink in until that moment when I really want to tell her something (like the arrival of my grandbaby that she was excited about) and pick up the phone then realize she’s not going to answer. 

My Dad has more tests scheduled this coming week and we expect more bad news. His 84th birthday is Monday and he gets to spend part of it in an MRI machine. We are praying that Baby T arrives that day. That would be a lovely bright spot in the gloom. My bags are in the car and I have as much organized and planned out for D. and Miss L. as I possibly can while I’m gone. Waiting is not one of my talents though. I’m amazed that I have been able to sleep this week. 

I finished the commissioned drawing and delivered it. I had planned to show you a detail this week, but she is gifting it this weekend so I can show you the finished piece in its entirety next week (bear with me if I’m MIA next week though).

Each day I’m trying to get in at least an hour of art time, primarily to save my sanity at the moment.  I’m working on small pieces that I hope to eventually have in my much neglected Etsy shop. Here is a little detail of the current work.


 I have two pieces (the old door and old truck in previous posts) that I am entering in an online juried show. You most certainly will hear about it if one of them gets in. It’s a long shot, but we have to stretch ourselves and take some chances. 

Sorry this is a fairly cut and dry post today. I’m really trying not to think too much right now. I definitely would appreciate prayers and good energy thoughts for a safe, easy labor for my daughter and a healthy baby boy for all of us grandparents to spoil profusely. 

Wishing you a warm and cheery week! 

Be yourself

Hi Everyone!

How is February treating you? We are half way through what I consider the worst month of the year. Honestly it feels like this month is 60 days long. Looking at our projected two week forecast here, I truly believe we are looking at a high likelihood of mildew. Two straight weeks of mildish temperatures and more RAIN. We already have endless mud. Our horses and donkey keep coming in lame where they are slipping and sliding in the mucky pasture. The chickens need boots to keep from miring up to their feathers and I don’t dare let my car run off the edge of our driveway or it will be June before we can retrieve it from the bottomless mud pit. Yeah, fun stuff. 

So to survive February I decided that I absolutely positively have to give myself some daily art time to avoid a major outbreak of cabin fever. At the moment it seems to be working. There is still half of February to go unfortunately. 

I have been giving myself one hour most mornings (life still throws a curve ball at least once a week) and I’m pleased with the progress. The one hour doesn’t cause me guilt for what I’m not getting done around the house and keeps resentment at bay for not getting time for myself. Any evening art time is gravy! 

There has been one breakthrough. Ok, maybe more of just acceptance. Do you have curly hair that you have tried to straighten all your life? Or straight hair you have spent hours curling? Maybe you are a great runner but always wanted to play baseball instead.  I accepted my stick straight, baby fine hair that can’t hold a style longer than my ears, a long time ago. What I have fought against for five ridiculous decades is that I’m not good with paint. Passable maybe, but painting is stressful not relaxing. What I am good at, even as far back as my first crayons, is dry mediums. Give me a pencil and I’m in my element. Colored pencils even better because I have color to play with. Some of us are too hard headed to see what is in front of us (finger pointing directly at my hard head). Finally I am embracing it. I’m not throwing out my acrylics, water colors or gouche paints (though I have considered it many, many times). They will instead, be under paintings. Supporting actors now. 

For Christmas I got a small set of pastel pencils and have excavated my box of unused soft pastels, conte crayons and charcoal. I am pushing myself to learn new things though. Pencil drawings come so easily most of the time that I often get bored so I need some challenges. Soft pastels definitely have a big learning curve. Right now I’m mixing several things together. In about a minute I’m into the flow because I have to concentrate so hard. Finally a form of mediation that works for me. Sitting still, trying to ignore my thoughts only adds anxiety to my life! Here is what I have done or am working on (the building) in the past week. The door is an 8×10 inch piece, but the little girl and building are 5×7 inches. I’m trying to save supplies when I know the experimental stage results in trashed pieces. 


My advice, for what’s it worth, is quit trying to be something you are not. I have recently heard it called “your fantasy self” and that rings true. Don’t waste decades like yours truly struggling to do something that doesn’t suit you. Go with what you are good at naturally. Life is wayyyy too short!! Love your curls. Run your race not someone else’s. 

February?

Hi Everyone,

How has your week been? My week has been as erratic as the weather here in North Carolina. It has been a week filled with ups and downs, surprises (not necessarily of the good kind), laughter, tears, stress, sadness, dread, hopefulness. You name it, I’ve had it this week. It has matched the February weather here spot on. Yesterday was 77 degrees, a week ago we were busting ice so the animals had water. Today it was 63 at 6 am and will be falling into the 20’s tonight. I’m hoping the weather levels out as well as life. I’m not sure I can get through another week like this one.

In case you are dealing with life in all its crazy forms as well, I just want to remind you to find some time each day to give yourself a physical and mental break. My tag line on this blog is “adventures in creative living.” Sometimes you have to get creative to just hold on to the roller coaster. You probably don’t have hours, but even 15 minutes can do a world of good.

I recently started giving myself 1 hour a day, morning or evening, to do regular artwork. There is so much on my plate right now that I found there was some resentment starting to bubble up. That is not good for me or those who have to live with me. I managed four of the five days this work week. I finished my commission and delivered it yesterday! This is a birthday present to the Mother of these three gentlemen. She had a similar portrait done of them when they were young and they are giving her this one of them as grown men. 


I have started a new drawing and as usual keep my knitting with me when I’m in a waiting situation. Several of my evenings this week have found me mentally, physically and emotionally drained. Too tired to read, knit or draw, I escaped to YouTube and watched art tutorials or American Pickers. Whatever it takes to give yourself a break. Well, there are some things it’s better to avoid when you are stressed so choose wisely. 

Find something you enjoy and preferably something that gets you into a creative flow and takes your mind off life for awhile. Music, games, sewing, gardening, playing with your goofy dog. Something to make time stand still and let your heart and mind rest and recover. 

I have about six boxes of stuff to clean out today. I was about 108 items short of my January goal. No lack of stuff just a lack of time. This week as I jump into another round of the minimalist challenge I need to clean out 46 items so far for February. Right now (before breaking into three unopened boxes) I have exactly 100 items either being donated or trashed. I found an entire box of socks that belonged to my son and D. had a big box in our closet. I estimate that neither of them will need new socks for the next 10 years! Sock hoarders!

Wishing you a peaceful week.