Morning rituals

Hi Everyone!

I hope you have had a good week and your July is going well.  We are in the high, hot days of summer here. Once again more rain than we traditionally have. My rain gauge is based on how many times I have to mow the yard during the summer. In the decades that I have lived in North Carolina, most years you could count on having about a month’s break from lawn mowing.  Last year was every single week except on the weeks that the rain didn’t let up.  This year has also been every week, but so far without the never ending rains of last year.  Mainly just afternoon thunderstorms.  The one we had last night took out a huge Popular tree at my parent’s house as well as their phone and all the outlets at the barn.  The tree is still standing, but we are now faced with having it cut down, because it took a life ending hit.

This week has been challenging. Lots of time on the road trying to finish up the last bits and bobs of stuff from the house we left and the repairs before closing. Lots of time on the road running errands and a certain almost 13 year old to her social events.  There is ongoing stress over the house closing.  It seems that our buyers have unwisely decided to use a huge bank that has a reputation for NOT doing the job correctly, for their lender.  Every time we think we are almost finished some other hiccup happens.  Am I alone in wishing there was a brain switch that could turn off the overthinking section?? I had to deal with this bank when my sister-in-law passed and for an entire year the experience was nothing short of excruciating. I am suffering from PTSD as we try to get this closing done.

Today I desperately needed some nature and ritual back in my life.  Normally I have been dragging a cranky pre-teen with me to feed all the animals each morning and I can’t say that it has been a peaceful experience. So this morning I decided that my mental health was more important than the life responsibility lessons for the kid and let her sleep in while I visited with the critters and took in the soul soothing beauty of a summer morning.  Thought I would share it with you.  Enjoy the beauty without the humidity, spider webs and soggy sneakers.  Have a lovely week and hopefully I will be back next week in a more positive frame of mind.

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Divine timing

Hi Everyone!

Yes, I’m back finally.  There may still be a skip or two, but I am trying to get back with the routines of life.

Today is going to be a quick update because there hasn’t been any time for creative endeavors, just endless hauling of boxes and furniture.

Status update: 7/8’s moved. We have about one carload of stuff that doesn’t fit in a box to bring to the rental and one truck bed of stuff to go to a storage unit and one trailer load of farm/yard equipment to drop off at the family farm for the time being.

There are minor repairs to finish up before closing on July 23rd of our old place and some plants that are coming with us.  The closing has been moved twice and though it caused stress and some worry, it has been a blessing in disguise.  We might have put ourselves in the hospital trying to meet the first closing date of June 28th and we get a final crop of our blueberries before it’s all done!

We are enjoying our rental house.  It has been a perfect fit. Close to my parents and our animals that are in three different places, off the road with some woods and fields behind us and the view of a corn field in front of us.  The photo is our view from the front porch where we enjoy sitting and watching the clouds and storms pass by.

I don’t think I mentioned our future plans in the past posts. One reason was because they were still a bit in limbo.  We now have a contract on a property across the road from my parents house.  The one week sale of our property surprised us and left us no time to get the financing started for either building or buying a new place.  If everything comes together we should be moving again PERMANENTLY by the end of September.  More details to come.

Dad is hanging in there. A few more treatments to go and he will be done.  They have taken a lot out of him.  He has lost weight and is very tired.  Our move happened at the right time.  Never doubt divine timing even when it is exhausting and/or frustrating.  We are back to spend what time he has left with him, to help out Mom because we don’t like to leave Dad alone anymore and to help my sister and brother-in-law keep up with the family property.  Eventually we will tackle that *&$#* kudzu!

Another plus to our move is that we are closer to our kids and grandkids. One hour closer to Charleston, SC and St. John USVI where my kids live, doesn’t seem like much in my case, but it centralizes all their family in one geographical area for ease of travel when they do get home to visit. We got to babysit one of the grands last weekend and get to know more about her 7 year old world.  Until now our time with the grands has been when there was a big family gathering and no real one-on-one time to get to know them. There are plans for a once a month Sunday lunch to see as many as possible as often as possible and keep up with their lives. It’s not easy when you have eight kids and six grandkids all going different directions.

Overall it has been a good move and we are excited to spend time with friends and family we have been too far away from.  We are looking forward to settling into the new place and making a new home to build good memories in.

Have a great week and trust the timing.

Boxes, tape and stress

Hi Everyone!

I have time this morning for a quick visit before I start boxing up more stuff for our move (if you noticed a lot of eBay tape in the photo, I sell on eBay and get the tape for free). I hope you have had a great week.

Tomorrow we take the first of many loads to the rental house. As happens with every move, no matter how organized I am, already I am finding myself needing things that are packed up. Somehow I inadvertently took D.’s box of books he’s reading to the storage unit and now have to dig through to find those before he gets grumpy. There will probably be a couple of nights sleeping on air mattresses before every thing gets moved. We sketched out a plan this morning of what goes when. Horses, bees and cat will likely be the last to leave here. They are all pretty self sufficient and can get along just fine without us.

We will be spending at least two days repairing the fencing of the pasture where the horses are going. We are spoiled here because they have a creek for water during the day. The new place, at least to begin with, will not have that option so we also have to set up a watering system for them. If it were just humans moving we could probably knock this whole move out in two days. Accommodations for our furry, feathered and winged family members adds much more time to the process. 

I would like to ask for your thoughts and prayers for a few people please. A close friend of my Dad’s had a bad accident on his farm. It’s going to be a very long recovery. He’s lucky to have survived. This morning I got word from one of my dear friends that her husband had a massive heart attack yesterday. He survived, but is also going to have a long recovery and she has been battling cancer for almost a year. Please wrap these folks and their families up with prayers. Thank you. 

My sister and I were discussing this week the different ways we have been trying to combat the heavy stress load that 2019 has heaped upon us (and it seems like lots of people surrounding us). If you are struggling with stress, illness, anxiety, etc. here are some ways that might be helpful to try:

1) Eat healthy. Put down the chips, cookies, energy drinks, alcohol, etc. Don’t even buy them. They are going to mess up your sleep, blood sugar, energy levels, skin. Veggies and fruit primarily. I know it’s hard if you are staying at the bedside of a family member in the hospital. When friends ask what they can do, ask them to bring you healthy food. Don’t ask me why, but it seems like hospitals usually are one of the hardest places to find good food. 

2) Do not watch the news! You have your hands full right now taking care of a personal crisis. You can’t do anything to change the world at this particular time so don’t even watch all the crazy that the media bombards us with.  Find old comedy shows like I Love Lucy or The Andy Griffith Show that will make you laugh and release some of those much needed endorphins. 

3) Exercise. Walk the halls of the hospital, do yoga in your bedroom (YouTube has plenty of instruction), just stretch often to release tension. Stress builds up in your body and the next thing you know you are sick. I was the lucky recipient of shingles thanks to stress. You DO NOT want those.

4) Escape. No, don’t pack your bags and leave no matter how much you want to.  Find books and movies that take you somewhere else. Keep it light. My sister and I are both devouring books right now. I prefer fantasy and science fiction to take me away from earth completely. I try to avoid any with lots of violence. Now is probably not the time to read or watch Game of Thrones. 

5) Hobbies. If they are portable, hobbies can be great when you have to wait, and wait, and wait for appointments. Something you really have to focus on is wonderful if worry keeps running around in your head. I have been knitting like a fiend. If my brain won’t shut up I knit a complicated pattern. If I just need to burn nervous energy then a simple boring sweater sleeve is perfect. 

6) Journaling. The act of writing worries down often lessens the impact. Sketch, scribble, doodle if writing is a struggle. No one but you has to see it or even have a clue what it’s about if you just make abstract marks that have meaning to you. There is a reason that Art Therapy exists. A cheap little notebook and a #2 pencil is all you really need. 

7) Fuzzy friends. There is also a reason that therapy animals exist. Your pets sense your stress and may even be stressed themselves if you have been away from them frequently. Find some quality and quantity time to spend with them. I’m surprised our cat, Sweetie Pie, has fur right now. Most evenings SP and I have been having snuggle fests on the back porch. Horse therapy is a real thing too. If you have a horse you know that, but if you don’t maybe you have a friend who does. See if they will let you just spend some time brushing theirs. Seriously, you can feel your blood pressure drop while grooming a horse. 

Life is constantly throwing something at us, but sometimes it comes in waves instead of drops. I hope some of these help whatever you are facing. 

I’m off to box, tape and load. Be careful out there this week!

Loading the gypsy wagon

Hi Everyone,

How has your week been? It is becoming summer here. Temps in the 90’s starting today. Just in time for us to start the arduous task of loading the gypsy wagon(s) for our move back home. This will be my fourth move in seven years. I had hoped for it to be my last, but we will have to rent for a while until will decide on our permanent landing. Hopefully we will have that settled before the end of summer. As of right now humans, two dogs and cat will be in one place, chickens, bees and one dog in another, horses and donkey will be in a third location. I knew this was going to be a complicated move, but this exceeds my expectations. 

We are waiting on the results of the home inspection to see what we need to fix before closing. Packing has started. Today I make and start on the list of  calls and forms to switch utilities, mail, etc. (it’s so exciting to know I will have to do it all again in a few months 😦 ). 

Somewhere in all this I need to get an oil change/inspection for my car, two dogs to the vet for their yearly checkups and two girls organized for mission trips that land before and just after we move. D. is looking for a new job where we are going and trying to coordinate the whole horse & donkey move. I’m in charge of chickens. They are probably the easiest to move. 

I started knitting a new sweater last week just to burn off the nervous energy. Wool is not good this time of year but it’s what I had at hand and it serves the purpose. This may be my fastest knit yet. 


I also started this drawing for the same purpose. It’s not finished. Not sure it will be any time soon, but I have to focus more when drawing so it helps to stop that running list circling my brain around and around. Am I the only one who has an OCD brain? I hope not. I would like to know there are more of my people out there.  D. just puts his brain into his “nothing box”. Did you know that there is scientific evidence that men can actually not think about ANYTHING? It’s like they flat line while still being alive! I AM SO FREAKIN’ JEALOUS! I can come out of a dead sleep because my brain is simulaneously running three different To Do lists at the same time. 

Sooooooooooo, it is highly doubtful that I will be posting here for a few weeks. If I can, I will, but next week will be all about changing addresses and packing. Official moving begins June 1st. There is an enormous amount of organizing and moving to make sure the chickens are not in the pasture and the horses in the rental house. I also have no idea when I will have wifi again after the move. 

For those of you in the U.S. enjoy the Memorial Day holiday, but please take time to remember why we celebrate the lives of those who sacrificed their future so we would retain the freedom we so often take for granted. For everyone, be safe and be happy. 

Boy in red wagon photo credit – Blake Meyer 

I was soooo wrong!

Hi Everyone, 

I’m writing this early so life doesn’t get away with all of my time this week. Ok, so I am also stuck at home while we get a new heat pump installed and am limited on just how much I can do here today while the installation is happening. Just fun stuff like laundry and oven cleaning. Anyone else have one of the new stoves with “steam cleaning”? Hate it!  Worthless. Our stove went out during the hurricane last Fall and the big box store couldn’t get in any new appliances so I was stuck having to take a floor model with the “new” “steam cleaning technology”. Glad I only paid the floor model price! Don’t get one unless you plan to let your toddler clean the oven. It’s that safe and useless. 

What was I wrong about, you ask? I was wrong about it taking six months to sell our place. We got an offer last week just a few hours after I posted here.  Yes, in one week we were under contract! Our realtor had said that property always sold fast for her in our area, but I was kinda skeptical. When I told her that I had settled in for a six month ordeal, she told me that she had been getting worried because we hadn’t gotten an offer in the first few days!

It still hasn’t quite hit us, but when it does there will be wide spread panic around here because we have NO PLACE TO LIVE at the moment. We have talked to a couple of people and are waiting to hear back. We have until the end of June to get moved. Yeah, I felt the panic oozing in as I typed that. Those of you who live where we are moving to (they know who they are) please message me if you know of any rentals that will be available June 1st. 

Saturday my uncle passed away and another piece of my heart is gone. He was the life of the party wherever he went and many holidays he graced our table and kept us laughing. Recently I went with my sister and cousins to visit him. We spent about two hours catching up, laughing and maybe choking back some tears. Gosh I’m so glad we had that time with him. He will be dearly missed. Please keep my Dad and his sister in your thoughts and prayers. They are all that is left of a great big, loud, close knit bunch of siblings. Take every opportunity to spend time with your special people. You won’t regret it. 

Well, that darn oven is not going to clean itself (but it SHOULD!) and it has to be shiny and clean by June. Have a great week!! Send boxes and tape please!

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!

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! 

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! 

The Gloom and Doom Report

Hi Everyone!

Let me start by saying that I hope life is sunny for you right now. Literally and figuratively it is NOT where I live. If you are looking for an upbeat, perky blog post today then I will warn you now that this is not going to be it. Check back next week to see if things have improved any. 

We are in our 16th week of February with that many weeks of rain. I’m pretty sure that North Carolina has now reached its normal yearly rainfall in the first two months of 2019. We are mildewed, covered in mud and extremely cranky around here. The horses are starting to refuse to leave the barn. One of my dogs has decided he will not need to poop until about June. The chickens are beginning to acquire webbed feet. We briefly saw the sun one day this week and everyone ran outside to soak up a few minutes of vitamin D. I don’t know whether to plant banana trees or seaweed in the garden this year. 

Outside of the weather, life has been equally gloomy. I went Tuesday to say my goodbyes to a dear friend and have been waiting on the call from her family ever since. I think there was a brief moment or two where she realized that I and another friend were there with her. I hope so at least. I desperately wanted her to know that we were there. She lost the ability to speak several weeks ago and struggled to communicate the last time I visited. How frustrating that must be when you need most to say you are in pain or “I love you.” 

After two or three extremely difficult weeks of processing and waiting, I can now mention the fact that my Dad is very sick. He and my Mom have begun to tell people so I can talk about it here. There are more tests ordered, but I’m not sure why. With each test we get more bad news and the fact that cancer has been found in two major areas already doesn’t lend itself to any possibility of much better news.  I only allow myself a few drops at a time to think about the magnitude of change and difficulty that is coming to my family. 

To end the week, I am going today with some other family members to visit another family member that failing fast. I am not yet allowed to discuss it as there are still plans to be decided on, but this is a person who is near and dear and has brought much fun and laughter into our lives and will leave a gaping hole. It’s been a super sucky week. 

I did start another commissioned piece of artwork this week. After we found out about Dad I swore I would not take on another one and add that stress to my life right now, but it’s for a friend and she said there was absolutely no deadline that I have to meet. It’s actually a blessing because when my brain and heart starts thinking too much I can start working on it and the concentration required gives me a little reprieve. I will show you some of it next week. 

I apologize for the gloom and doom, but I just can’t even fake cheerfulness at the moment and I’m not good enough a writer to make up any believable fiction for your enjoyment. Bear with me. Please realize that if my blog posts are not showing up regularly for a while, it’s because we are dealing with the big life stuff. The one bright spot is the impending arrival of my first grandbaby. That little bugger is much needed right now. We NEED a gummy baby smile, burps and poopy diapers and sweet baby smells to replace some of the recent conversations. 

Wishing you a sunshiny, warm and gentle week.