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.

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Simple

Hi Everyone,

This is going to have to be short today.  There is a long list of To Do’s waiting on me.  The whole week has been that way.  Every single day has been full of different appointments to rush to and fro from.  We are worn out and still not done.  Monday is our last scheduled appointment…I think.  Somewhere soon I have a bone density test, but can’t find it on my calendar at the moment.  Not good.

I finally got a beginning sketch for the commissioned drawing done.  It will be after Christmas before I can show you the final piece because it is a present and I bet that someone will recognize the little guy, so I have to keep it under wraps.  I am very much looking forward to putting a pencil to paper again.  I now have two logos that need to get done as well and my usual work is pretty busy.  I was up at 4 am working Wednesday morning.  If you can’t sleep, work.

What is weighing on my mind this week is how to get back to simple.  I have been downsizing and cleaning out stuff for 5 years now.  Every time I think I am close to getting where I want to be someone else’s stuff moves in on me.  Yes, I still have some of my own to part with, but most of it has been in storage for a kid or two.  Now, I have 4 generations of stuff to work through.  We have formulated a plan.  Wish us luck.

For those of you who have not heard, my son is moving to Hawaii in December.  Yes, it is a real paying job he is going over there for.  People keep asking me if he is going to get a real job. Yes, it involves an ocean, kayak, whales and probably a surf board, but he is actually getting paid to do such things and even gets real work benefits.  Are you green with envy yet??

What I admire about my son is his ability to walk very lightly on this earth.  He will be moving to the other side of the country with only what he can carry in his camping backpack and his school backpack.  That’s it. Even as a small child he rarely had more than one item on his Christmas list.  He is not a collector of STUFF.  He collects experiences.

My daughter and son-in-law have been working to minimize their STUFF as well.  I think their generation has seen the error of our ways and do not want to burden themselves with the cost of STUFF in real money and in environmental impact.  Do some research on just how much clothing alone goes into our landfills here in the U.S.

D. and I are both people who crave a very simple lifestyle.  We admire the Shakers and Amish in their simplicity and the beauty of that simplicity.  Clean lines in furniture and have only what you need.  We are far from that right now, but as we go through this experience of distributing a bazillion things we are more sure than ever that we do not want our legacy to be STUFF.  We do not want to leave such a burden on our children.

I can tell you that I am now analyzing every single item that I own and will be letting go of things that I have held onto only because it is connected to a memory.  Things DO NOT hold memories.  PEOPLE hold memories.  I can look around me and see THINGS that I do not truly love for what they are but just because they are a connection to my past.  THINGS that if I were to see them in a store, I would walk right by them.  No more.  They have to go.  They are taking up valuable real estate in our home that could either be open, airy, peaceful space of its own or hold something that I truly do love for its beauty and/or usefulness.

I hope that in some way I have influenced my kids in their simplicity.  I don’t think their lives were filled with an overabundance of stuff growing up and I showed them how to regularly clear out their belongings.  Now I have a young lady that needs, more than most, to have this example and instruction given to her.  What happens in her future I have no way of knowing, but I do know that D. and I are committed to showing her a simpler, more peaceful and more financially sane way to live.  Sometimes life provides you with an unforeseen way to accomplish your goals!

Have a great week and keep it simple!

Photo credit

 

Rain and Roses

Spring is exploding all over the place and so is the To Do list here. It has been one big, busy week! We had a few days of good solid rain. Almost too much. Rivers were flooding. Luckily it stopped before things got bad. Now the grass needs mowing again. Why do we have grass?  There are better things to do with a piece of land than grow grass just to mow it down.

The bees are good so far. I am checking this weekend to see if I will need to add another box to their living space soon. 


Here is the state of my office/studio right now.  Soon to be the office/studio/guest room. I have five days to finish painting and rearranging this room. Wish me luck! 

I did finish the portraits of the grandpups and am pleased with how they turned out. It was only a few weeks ago that I was going to throw away my paint because I could not make them do what I wanted. Hopefully I have turned a corner on that.


It seems more people are trying to reduce the amount of plastic and trash in our world and we are on that journey as well as my daughter and son-in-law. She asked for some beeswax wraps so I figured out how to render some of the old beeswax and have this blob and some fabric to attempt making them. I will let you know how it goes.


And last but not least I will leave you with my roses that are starting to bloom. I LOVE SPRING!!


Next week my son graduates from college so we will be traveling and celebrating with him. I will try to get a post done, but if I don’t, you know why.

Go out and wallow in some fresh air and sunshine this week!

Signs of improvement

Hi Everyone,

Is it better that I am writing at 4:24 am this week than at 3:15 last week? Slightly.  I actually got a full 8 hours sleep night before last and felt great yesterday. The husband is slowly regaining energy zapped out of him by the flu. Yesterday we killed it in our attempt to catch up on the farm projects. 

I am almost finished with the dog portraits and will post them soon. Here is a sneak preview of their noses.


Along with the weed eating and cleaning, mowing and barn roofing yesterday, I got my new bees and installed them in the hives. 


Spring is full on and life is insanely busy for the next few weeks so my posts will be short for awhile. Thanks for hanging in here with me.  Today is major house cleaning day and we have friends coming this afternoon to pick up a load of horse manure for their garden. Guess I should try to get a little more sleep before the dog alarms go off.

Have a great week!

Current state of affairs

Hi Everyone,

It is 3:30 am and that should tell you something right there. I’m here laying in bed tapping away on my iPad with a dog draped across me. The hubby is in the living room trying to find a movie on Netflix.  Life is currently out of whack. Seriously out of whack. 

He has had a full blown case of the flu since Saturday evening. All weekend plans got skewed. Things haven’t been right really since the time change. Our schedules have been thrown off, I have had ongoing insomnia and our to do list is bearing down on us. 

My 100 day project is in jeopardy. I did ok during the week for the most part, but the weekend not so much. I may have to modify it some more and skip the weekends. There are too many things going on at the moment.  I may have to try this again in the winter when there are not so many farm demands. 

I am going to try and get back on schedule here this week. I cannot figure out why we seem to be having so much trouble with the time change this year. Personally, I wish they would stop with the whole daylight savings thing. It seems unnecessary and throws off human and animal schedules. 

I apologize for this crazy post but it is where we are at the moment.  Just in case you might be suffering from a shift in your universe, know that you are not alone. 

Hopefully by Thursday things will have stabilized.  

Wishing you a steady week! 

Reconnect

Hi Everyone!

I am writing in the early morning hours just as the sun is coming up and right after I read an article about a hate filled meeting held in a town that is dear to my heart.  What makes humans fear differences in others so accutely? Our alikeness is much more prevalent. 

Our lack of winter this year in North Carolina has brought on the beginnings of early Spring. While I love the warm weather and the blooms beginning to open, I know from experience that this could be a disaster rather than a blessing. We have notiously fickle and often severe March weather. What is blooming now could be frozen in a couple of weeks wreaking havoc with our crops and flowers. 

It’s funny how putting yourself in a new location changes your perception. I grew up in the country surrounded by nature but often took it for granted as a child. As I moved to more and more suburban/urban areas I took less notice of the ways of nature. Yes, I noticed the seasons change and knew not to plant my tomatoes until after the last frost date, but nature’s effect on my day to day life was limited by the conveniences of stores and the prevelance of cement over grass and crops.  Only when the big events of tornados, extreme temperatures and days of sloughing through rain hit did I really take notice.

Yesterday I noticed how nine months of rural living has heightened my awareness of nature. A couple of years ago we started planting our garden here according to the moon phases. We can discuss that in another post, but we noticed a significant improvement in our yields. This past year there was an unusual amount of rain in July than slid into a bad drought by September. By October you could FEEL the distress of the plants and even the creatures as I noticed with the demise of my bees.

A couple of weeks ago we brought chickens here to live with us. It is a stupid farmer that does not take the life of his livestock in the highest regard. I find myself watching over our chickens with the same angst as I did my kids and my bees. We have a resident hawk couple right behind our garden. I enjoy having them there and know they help keep the rodent population in check, but now I notice their every move when our chickens are free ranging. Too close of a hawk scream has me herding chickens back to the protection of their run and coop. In an amazingly short amount of time what I paid no attention to in the past now gets my attention in an instant. 

As I prepare to get more bees I realize that my time with them last year has ingrained in me the subtle weather changes and plant stages. I notice how hard or softly the wind blows, the barely noticeable difference between 45 degrees and 50 degrees both of which effect the activity of bees.  I notice the first barely visible blooms on the trees to judge when bees will have food available again. 

I have also noticed the calming effect nature has on me compared to the rushing around I did in town. I sit and observe. I don’t want to kill a hawk or a black snake just because it is a predator of my chickens, but I do stay watchful. I appreciate that they have a role in this amazing cycle of nature.  

Everything in nature has a purpose on this minuscule marble floating around inside of a vast universe. People are part of the cycle and have purpose. I wish there was less jumping to conclusions about what someone might think or do and more calm observation and knowledge gathering before humans decided to hate or harm each other.  

*Next week I should be back to posting artwork and such.  I needed to write out the disappointment I was experiencing.

Happening this week…

mountainphoto-1446037909474-e2bff6697533As you are reading this, we should be on our way home from a relaxing few days hiding out in a cabin by a river in the Blue Ridge mountains. When we get back life goes into overdrive.  “And why?”, you ask. Because we are opening a new business!

A little background.  D. is planning to retire next summer.  He has spent his career stuck indoors. Torture for a guy who would happily spend 90% of his time outside.  Even though he will have his retirement money, it’s not quite enough to cover our current requirements, plus I don’t need him hanging around in my space all day either. So for a couple of years he has been planning his retirement job.  It is still indoors, but it is only for a few months.

Ok, don’t go EWWWW when I tell you.

It’s a wildlife meat processing and taxidermy business.  I said don’t go EWWWW!  He is a hunter, we don’t have a wildlife processor nearby and where we live is a huge hunting area.  As in, people come from out of state to hunt here! Yes, I think I will be wearing blaze orange this fall as well as my dogs. There are days it sounds like a war zone around here in the Fall.  Anyway, it is only four months out of the year and the rest of the time he can work here on the farm, train horses again and we can travel, etc.

We decided to go ahead and start the business this year because we were able to get the location we wanted for the price we wanted.  It’s not pretty, but it is in a prime hunter hangout location.  Picture a big, red, metal building.  Guess who will be keeping it open and taking orders.  Yep, yours truly.  NO, I’m not going to cut up deer.  I can’t cut up a chicken from the grocery store without getting sick!

What does this mean for me?  Well, I’m hoping it will be a good career move.  No, not the meat processing, the building.  My current workspace is our second guest room which is tiny.  I work on several projects at once and need room to spread out. Right now if we have guests, I have to shove everything to one corner then sort it all out again when they leave.  It’s just not working for me.

The big, red building has plenty of space for me to work as well as D.  The actual meat processing takes place in a separate cold room so the main part can be mine to spread out in.  Perfect? Not quite, but I think over the long run it can work if we can both make enough money to pay the rent year round which is the plan.

I am also desperately needing some structure to my time and having to work around the business hours will give me that.  I can do my work at the same time I am holding down the fort at his business. Right now, I’m still a little lost from not having a second job and get distracted by crazy stuff like laundry and yard work here at the house.

Hopefully next week I can give you a tour of the new workspace.  Have a lovely week!

Photo credit

Young at brain

I started this post early last week then got caught up in several projects we have going on around here and totally and completely forgot to finish it. Ironic considering the title.

When I am NOT forgetting things, I have been TRYING to keep my brain young. This doesn’t mean taking Ginko supplements (though maybe I should!) or doing Suduko (even my best young brain couldn’t do that).  It means I have been trying very hard to not catch myself saying things like, “when I was young we had more sense than that”, or “the world is going to hell in a hand basket” (Just how old IS that saying? Who even knows what a hand basket is anymore).

I remember hating to hear old(er) people rant and rave about the younger generation as if the young uns just invented stupid. Stupid has been around a long time and is not limited to a post baby boomer age group.

night-skyphoto-1473376701383-7ad74b5611e1

So, I have been trying to look at the world through younger eyes and see what is going on out there. I listen to my kids and other young adults I run across to get a perspective that I do not generally glimpse in my everyday life.

In many ways I think the 20 somethings will be smarter in the long run than my generation. They recently watched their parents navigate the Great Recession and are more careful with their money.  At least my kids have realized that McMansions are not the great investment the Baby Boomers thought they were. They are also much more aware of the environmental impact we are wreaking on earth. They live in a global world. My generation at best had a national world or regional world. Our perspective on life in another country may have come from a pen pal you wrote once a month or saw a little of on the nightly news.  I now keep up with numerous people daily all over our amazing dot via Instagram. How freaking cool is that!

I listen to friends complain about how bad, lazy, uninformed, etc. young people are.  First, I remember how utterly boring the news was until I reached the age of tax paying! Second, I have the amazing pleasure of spending one week each year with high school and college age young adults. In that week they repair around seven homes for people who do not have the financial and/or physical ability to make their homes safe, warm and dry. This is done in 90 degree heat and usually involves mud and bugs as well. And unlike many adults they do not complain!  Five straight days of sleeping in a gym, enduring subpar showers, generally not eating as much as they like and NO COMPUTERS. All this is handled with good humor and patience.

From my perspective, if these amazing young people don’t catch the “we have alway done it this way” disease from us, we have hope for the future. They despise our political system and well they should. Our Constitution has been whittled away at by both parties. Hopefully these bright and compassionate up and comers will clean up the mess.  I don’t believe they are as influenced by money and power.  They have seen what it does to society.

Not only do I want to stay young at heart as the years continue to pile up, but I want to stay young at brain.  I don’t want to shut down fresh ideas or not listen to and consider the views of our younger generations. They have such a different world than the one I came into.  I think it is going to fall on their shoulders to save the human race if the current powers that be don’t destroy it first.

Photo by Tyson Dudley

Get lost. Slow down. Change directions.

sunflower 2016
My sunflowers are enjoying the heat. They are at least 8′ tall and still growing!

I hope you all have had a lovely week. It has been a typical July week here. Hot as Hades all day with a late afternoon thunderstorm that hopefully cools the air a little. Often it doesn’t. Sometimes the air is so humid and thick after a storm that it feels difficult to breathe. You would think you could squeeze the juice out of it. My poor bees are spending more time on the outside of the hive than inside. I’m thinking I should get a tiny air conditioner for them. No, I do not spoil the creatures that live with me (much).

The past couple of weeks have been spent getting settled, finding my way around and meeting people. If I counted correctly, this is my tenth move in my lifetime. Most of my moves have been within miles of each other, but this is the third move to a completely new area. My first major move was as a newlywed to a different state. My then husband was working third shift, the company had put us up in a hotel until we could find a home and I knew no one. I couldn’t stay in the hotel room during the day while my husband was trying to sleep, but I had no where to go.

This was before cell phones and we had two not-so-great cars. So, I did what any bored, fearless (you have that in your 20’s) young woman would do. I got my car keys, filled the car up with gas and proceeded to drive in and out of town until I was hopelessly lost, then figure out how to get myself back to the hotel.  Honestly, it was a huge adrenaline rush. Sometimes I barely made it back before my husband got up to go to work.  By the time we moved out of the hotel three weeks later, I rarely got lost. I found all the important places (Town Hall, library, the MALL) and lots of scenic areas of the countryside.

I have been using this same technique with slightly more common sense this time.  Lately our vehicles have been just as bad (except for THE BEAST, our F-350 pickup that I LOVE to drive), but I do have my cell phone and AAA card with me now. I found the library. People seem to think that libraries are not important anymore. I beg to differ. The bulletin board alone was a wealth of information. Local events and services that I had not been able to find online were on the bulletin board.  So, I have the library, found the arts council, town hall, pharmacy, car mechanic and our local state park for hiking. Hey, not a bad start for two weeks of being lost!

ghost flowers 2016
I discovered Ghost plants on our way to pick blackberries this week. They are such an oddity with all the color this time of year.

The harder adjustment I am having to make is the pace of life here. I’m pretty sure it was the same way when I was growing up out in the country but I wasn’t aware of it. EVERYTHING is slower. I have been in Surburbia for twenty years. I have worked two jobs for about twelve years. I shuttled two kids to thousands of practices and events for eighteen years. All that has come to a screeching halt. I often find myself standing somewhere in disbelief that there is nothing on my To Do list that HAS to be done immediately. Trust me, I’m not complaining, but after decades of rushing around and working under endless deadlines, it is disorienting.

Now that I have said that life has slowed down, just this week events have fallen into place for D. to start a business he has been planning for about two years. Originally he was going to start it next year after he retires, but an opportunity presented itself that was too good to pass up. This means that for about four months I will be back to working two jobs again as we start this while he is still working full time.  I will fill I the details as this moves along.

blueberry jam 2016
More slow stuff. Making blueberry jam.

I need to mosey on now to finish tiling these floors (they WILL be done by the end of the month!).  I’m going to leave you with some hard earned wisdom. If life is a little boring or drab, or the creative juices have quit flowing (they do sometimes), literally get in your car, on your bike, take the bus, use your feet and go get lost. The change in scenery and the adventure will do you good. Don’t use the GPS. Use your God given instincts!

zinna butterfly 2016
Just one of the hundreds of butterflies that have been visiting my zinnias this year. I have never seen soooo many in one place before!

All photos by Christel D. Huttar.

“They paved paradise…”

Trees1be620c3

“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot…”

Big Yellow Taxi by Joni Mitchell

This happened this week in my town. I drove by the intersection that had been graced by beautiful old trees by the road, in front of a charming older home. It’s all gone now. The trees laying on the ground. The home partially torn down.

I literally had a physical reaction to the view. There aren’t many trees that old still standing. These were healthy and huge and added beauty to the entrance of the town.

Why were they cut down? Oh, so we can add a SIXTH grocery store, MORE shopping and multi-family units.

I wanted to go run my hands across the rough tree bark, lean my head against them and whisper an apology for the greed of my species.

I believe in a Judgement Day, Karma and a Reckoning.  There will come a day when humans will account for their abuses and I do not believe that the judgement will be limited to just how we treated other humans. Our ancestors recognized and revered the life force of the earth, animals, plants, water and air.  They knew their survival was dependent on the continuing health and life cycles of all that makes up this planet.

If not us, our grandchildren will pay dearly for our sins agains nature.  The older I become the more convinced I am that if we don’t stop making such foolish choices in the name of “progress”, the sheepskin that covers the wolf of greed, we will not have to worry about education, race, or sexual preferences.  We will be too focused on finding food, clean water and air to bother with such frivolous things. Money has very little nutritional value.

I’m glad that I will soon be moving out of town. I have lived here almost twenty years and love the people and the small town charm and I will continue to be a part of the community, but the urban sprawl is upon us now. Twenty years ago three quarters of the shopping centers, restaurants, etc. were not here. Neither was the horrendous traffic. The southern section of the town has been under construction for years and is almost unrecognizable from what it was ten years ago. The western side where I currently live has been ravaged by the construction of a major bypass. I expect the noise level will as bad or worse than the construction is when it is open.

It is time for me to return to the sanity of rural living. I will have to adjust to a lack of convenience, but the fact that I will once again be surrounded by woods, streams, wild animals and quiet is a fair trade. A high traffic day on the road is three cars. Our hope is that we can leave enough wild earth that our grandchildren will have some idea of what this planet was like before greed ruled the world.

 

P.S. I apologize for last week’s missing post.  There was frantic scrambling to finish garden chores before a rain deluge set in, then when I found time to write my internet service was down.  I finally gave up and soothed my frustration with a homemade pizza.

Photo credit