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.

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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

Floors and bees

Happy Friday!! It is a rainy one here.  Good thing I just have TILING on my To Do list today. Yes friends, I actually stuck tile to floor last week! Check it out.

floor 2Here is what I have learned so far if any of you happen to want to tile your own floor.  1) It is not hard.  2) It IS tedious.  3) It IS messy.  I am still quite the novice at this and have not started cutting tile yet.  If you notice in the picture I just got the whole tiles down.  Today’s challenge is to test the cutter out.  I have a manual cutter and hopefully that will work for the most part.  There are a few pieces that will have to be cut lengthwise and I’m 99% sure my cutter will not do those.  Bless my friend Helen. She has a wet saw we can borrow.

floor 1

My goal is to get all the cut pieces down and mortar set so by Wednesday I can start the grout process.  I need this first room done before we can move on to the rest of the house.  You know, that whole move stuff out of one room so you can do the other room process.

All artwork is on hold probably until July.  There simply is no time.  It is all I can do to keep up with my design work right now.  Gardening season is upon us and D. is chomping at the bit to get seeds in the ground.  I am throwing a box of stuff in the car every trip up to D’s in my attempt to make a SLOW move this time.  My last couple of moves have been fast and stressful. Now that process is reaching critical mass and we are having to make more and more decisions on what stays and what goes and how fast can it go.

Next week my town is having a recycling day.  I am dropping off a carload!  The next weekend the theatre company I work for is having their annual yard sale.  Guess who will be dropping off a TRUCK load?  Can you tell I am beginning to feel a little overwhelmed???

With all this going on I have avoided thinking about spending any time drawing or painting and started distracting myself with gardening ideas.  Too much time on Pinterest will make you crazy.  I started studying medicinal herbs, and decided to expand my herb garden this year.  That started me thinking about my future bees and how to help them.  That lead me to studying permaculture and now I have another whole list of projects for the farm.  Someone please take my ipad away from me or slap me when I am on Pinterest or YouTube!

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Soooo, about those bees.  I spent Easter with Mom & Dad.  Dad got me the bee hive for Christmas and has it put together now.  It’s time to get the bees for it.  The plan was to hopefully get a split from one of his hives.  No such luck this year so I told him to go ahead and get me a nuc when he and my brother-in-law pick up their order next week. Then I asked him when we can get the bees settled in their new home.

Dad sort of hesitated and replied “Well, I need to keep them here for a little while so I can keep an eye on them and make sure they are alright.”  Ok, I have to admit that my thought at that moment was…”Dad, I got your grandchildren to adulthood without losing, starving or maiming them, I think I can handle some bees.”  I refrained.  MAYBE I will get bees these year.

Since I have been slack for the past couple of weeks about including some environmental information I will recommend the documentary Vanishing of the Bees.  The link take you to the website, but you can watch it on Netflix.  We need the bees.

Have a wonderful week and go plant some flowers for the bees this week.

 

Flooring photos by yours truly.

Bee photo credit.

 

 

Happy March!

Some of my winter blues have subsided. It helped when I got these…

tulips 2and that the weather is going to do this… Spring weather

next week!  Spring is almost here.  It hasn’t been a terrible winter, but I don’t handle cold of any kind very well.  I am ready for those 70 degree days.

The flowers inspired me to start this…

tulips

 

It is still a work in progress but it was all I had time to work into the schedule this week.

Today I got the call that we have 40 boxes of tile to pick up so I have to hurry up and finish painting the room I have been working on…IMG_2802

and learn how to lay tile!

I sort of rushed through last week’s post since I was running late.  Ok, so I’m late again this week but not AS late.


 

For the moment I am going to call my little environmental section Healing Home.  I need to call it something so until I or you have a better idea that’s what I’m going with.  Did you read last week’s post?

At the beginning of each season I go through all my clothes and see what needs to go. With Spring almost here I think Spring cleaning is in order.  Today I will start with clothes.

I’m pretty sure most of us at this point probably donate our out grown or out of style clothes, but what do you do with the ones that are stained, torn or threadbare?

Here is some information about just how bad the problem has become with our textile waste.

Before you throw out the worn out clothes, stop and see if they can find a new purpose such as napkins, swiffers or un-paper towels.

Better yet, consider less clothing.  The uniform look has been a “thing” lately or you could try Project 333.  I have sort of blended both.  I am down to about 40 items of clothing (she doesn’t count underwear, socks or work out clothes in Project 333) and most of my clothes are solid colors that mix and match easily.  It is rare that I part with more than four items now in my seasonal purge.

If you are just finding my blog, this section is new and is my small way of simply making us all aware of how badly we need to clean up after ourselves.  You know, that Mom thing just never goes away even after the kids leave home!

Have a great week.  I have to go help D. load up 40 boxes of tile now!

 

 

A bad winter attitude

Where does a week go?  I need for them to slow down a little.  What the heck am I saying? I am in the middle of a major winter blues episode.  No one around me wants time to slow down.  I am cranky, depressed, edgy and any number of other bad adjectives.  This happens every February and lingers until there is sufficient sunlight and warmth.  I NEED FLOWERS!  I NEED SPRING!!!

I will try to get through this post without unleashing any of the bad winter blues on you.  Just be thankful you don’t live with me.

Here is the project I was working on this month.  They decided to reveal the shows this week so I can show the illustrations now in all their glory.  I work for a community theatre and do the show logos for them.  These are for the upcoming 2016-2017 Season.

MASH was fairly cut and dry.  It was somewhat boring until I added the texture.MASH logo low res

Route 66 was my challenge.  They wanted a 50’s feel with neon or a jukebox, but it still needed the sign incorporated and had to be readable.  I had to go look for a tutorial to learn how to make neon in Photoshop.  Who knows if I will  ever need that skill again, but I pulled it off once! This has been the favorite of the four.  Guess the time involved paid off.Route 66 logo low res

Tarzan was the most fun.  I haven’t played with watercolor paints in a long time.  I am pleased with the way it turned out.  I should spend more time with the watercolor paints I think. Tarzan low res

And last, but not least was the Velveteen Rabbit.  A watercolor illustration was requested for this.  Originally I just had the rabbit, but they wanted the boy included.  I will admit that I get intimidated painting people in watercolor.  Well, any paint for that matter.  I am much more comfortable drawing people than painting them.Velveteen Rabbit low res

So those are my most recent projects.  They have been time consuming to say the least and have taken up most of my creative time this month.

As March rolls in I’m afraid my most creative project is going to be tiling floors.  We just ordered 500 square feet of tile last night.  D.H.  is trying to finish the barn and since I am the detail person (and am not capable of lifting rafters on a roof) I will soon be up to my eyeballs in mortar, tile and grout.

As I promised last week, I am starting a little environmental project to add to the end of each weekly post.  I need a name for this.  Any suggestions?  For now, here is a link to a blog post I found interesting this week.  I have been recycling for almost 20 years now, but this made me more aware of little things we overlook.  I am giving up plastic straws at restaurants now and am paying extra for paper plates over styrofoam plates for out wedding reception.

“Why I Don’t Recommend Recycling Plastic”

I am going to go buy myself some flowers and margarita mix at the store today and combat these winter demons.  I hope you can find some sunshine and have a wonderful week!