Babies, Puppies, Flowers and Bees

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I went MIA last week. I believe I mentioned that we would be keeping one of our grandkids over the weekend. What I did not know until Thursday (when I normally write my posts) is that their new puppy would be coming along too. Now, I can usually juggle normal chores with a baby, but a baby and a puppy is a whole different thing. Add to the list that the puppy has some health issues and requires medication and baby + puppy = full time job. So last Thursday I went into high gear to finish any major projects/chores before Friday evening.

Even with DH and DN to help out, we had our hands full because the puppy kept us up several hours Friday night. Saturday we were exhausted all day but you can’t rest much with a baby and a puppy. Luckily both got a nap or two in. The baby was easy peasy the whole weekend. She was just the normal active 9 month old cruising the furniture and crawling around. The puppy on the other hand was cruising around trying to find more things to get into than the baby. He especially seemed to like chewing on our kitchen cabinet pulls! If you have ever had a baby/toddler and/or a puppy you know that if you can’t see them or hear them then you better be finding them ASAP!

Saturday night was slightly better. DH and I were out walking puppy and our dog at 3:30 am, but we got some sleep. Sunday night there were three people and one old dog that slept like the dead after baby and puppy left. Our dog, Odie, was a trooper the whole weekend. He tolerated the baby pulling his ears and poking her fingers up his nose and the puppy not only sat down on him, but took his bed part of the time. Odie just gave me a look that said “I didn’t sign up for this!”.

This week I am in gardening mode, attic work and beekeeping. I really think the months between April – October I need to call this blog “Bees, Babies and Blooms”. That pretty much covers most of what I am doing instead of artwork. I have a list I am trying to get to, but it’s a challenge right now. Next weekend we have another grandkid coming to stay so if I’m MIA next week then you know why.

Yes, it is really this purple!

The photos are of many of the lovely blooms happening here. We have spent almost a year and a half of uncovering flower beds and shrubs and trees from layers and layers of ivy (poison and English!), honeysuckle, and wild grapevines. Under all these vines have been so many lovely plants and flowers. This Spring has been more surprising than last Spring as we have uncovered more irises, lilies and old roses. We still have more to go and I have lots of thinning to do because these plants are so excited to see daylight again that they are bursting at the seams in places.

Have a great week and I plan to be back next week, but you know…babies, blooms and bees are happening here.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

And winter returned!

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I’m late this week. I’m going to blame it on the weather. What the heck? Another late season frost similar to last year. I spent time covering up little plants, bringing potted plants inside and cutting flowers to enjoy as long as possible. I’m glad I hadn’t gotten around to packing up the hats and gloves yet. They were needed on the past few late night / early morning walks with the dog. Like 2:30 am or 4:00 am walks. I think his seizure meds are messing things up. Thanks to these walks I have also been groggy and slower than usual.

I had to bring them ALL in!

I forgot to mention that I have new bees too. My brother-in-law very kindly gave me one of the splits he made from one of his hives and also a nuc he made from a swarm I believe. I don’t have the second one here yet, but am going tomorrow to meet the queen. She will probably be moving here in about a week. So I may have spent more than the usual amount of time watching the new girls and keeping them fed with sugar water. I don’t know how things are at your house, but here, 75% of my time is spent feeding things…humans, creatures and plants. There should be a tax write off somewhere in there.

A note to our neighbors…our lawn mower is being repaired. It’s going to take 3-4 weeks to get it back. Yes, the yard will be bad. Don’t panic if you see horses loose in the yard. They might as well earn their keep and mow some grass.

Today has been rainy and cold. Perfect attic construction weather. I spent several hours painting the walls that are up and DH is still up there putting up more drywall. There are some seriously wonky corners, dips and angles. Not easy on 50+ year old backs and shoulders. Some things will have to wait until lumber prices come down. We were going to frame out the window, but one small board to make the window sill was going to be $14! It can wait. DH estimates 2 more months of work. That would be about my birthday. I would be quite happy to have a finished studio for my birthday.

Slowly but surely.

Yesterday morning I helped with a yard sale and by the time I got home the allergies were full on. I got what had to be done taken care of then decided to take some time to do a little painting while my head recovered. It has been about 3 weeks since I have worked in any drawing or painting. It may not help my allergies, but it sure helps my mental health. I am hoping this coming week to clean up the corner of the attic that is 95% done and maybe move a table and easel in where I can start working. Fingers crossed. Next weekend we have one of the grandkids so I know we will not get much accomplished while she’s here.

This week’s sketch.

Have a great week. I hope your weather is warm. Some of you have storms heading your way I think. Be safe out there and I hope to be back on Thursday.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Spring has sprung!

Hi Everyone!

Hopefully your week is as beautiful as ours. This is going to be a quick hello and some lovely photos of the blooms happening here. My son and his girlfriend are back for a short visit before he starts the firefighting academy in May. I have been trying to get my To Do list done before they got here so I could spend time catching up with them.

Most of my week has been spent doing garden related activities and looking after many, many seedling babies. We have been excited to see many of the plants we uncovered from layers and layers of honeysuckle, poison ivy and unknown other vines, now blooming their hearts out. The old apple trees bloomed much heavier after having a major pruning last year. Hopefully they will give us some apples now.

Call me a little Woo Woo, but I truly think plants, just like people, know when you are trying to help them. We have one little azalea that I was absolutely sure was dead when I discovered it under the vines. I pruned back the dead branches that I could manage and planned to have DH cut it completely down, but before he could get to it, little leaves started to pop out. It is now blooming away and will probably be full and lush next year.

There is still a ton to do, but this Spring is definitely the encouragement we needed to keep pulling up weeds, over grown flower beds, and aggressive vines (never, ever, ever plant English Ivy!!). The hummingbirds have been doing fly bys to let me know they expect food from the feeder and the butterflies are loving all the blooms.

I have no idea where all the honeybees are coming from since my colony died and I’m waiting to get my new one. Everywhere here we have honeybees. Now, we do not spray pesticides and yes we have weeds, but those weeds feed the bees. I’m hoping there are wild bees in the woods behind us. If they are thriving in the wild that means they are overcoming the mite infestation that has devastated the honeybee population. I’m very happy to see they and they are always welcome. It’s a good idea to keep your shoes on when walking in the yard though.

I gotta go make food for people and hummingbirds. Have a wonderful week.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Learning curve

Hi Everyone!

How has your week been going? Things here have been slightly less hectic than last week. Today has been my taxi day. DN had to get her new glasses, braces wire fixed, and dentist visit. In the middle of those I had to pick up some tax info and get the dog’s meds. All this before NOON!

Tuesday school started back up and I had the house to myself again. I celebrated by going out and sketching a while around the farm. I wanted to sketch the horses since they are always one of the most difficult things for me to draw, but none of them would cooperate. So I drew old buildings and hay bales.

Yesterday my plan was to finish a project that I have been struggling with for a few weeks now. It is requiring me to learn new software. We all know how much fun that is. So, I go to open the file I need to finalize and…it’s 95% gone. Yep, hours of work just gone. I have no idea how or why. Bad words were said. This has been one of those projects that could turn out to be a good source of income or it might be a bust. I won’t know until I try, but I will try again next week when I can recover from the high aggravation factor.

Last week I mentioned that I was up to some creative endeavors with a couple of coffee bean bags. So, what exactly did I do with those coffee bean bags?? I made kitchen curtains. I don’t know about you, but when I move into a house (and I have moved into alot of houses) I need to live with a place for a while to get ideas of how I want it to look. Our kitchen has been a struggle. It has one wall of the original 1955 wood paneling that DH dearly loves and immediately let me know that no paint brush will touch it. It has 1990’s oak cabinetry that once again, you-know-who doesn’t want to paint and quite frankly it would be pricey to have someone paint. I have painted cabinets before. That was enough for one lifetime. There are light blue laminate countertops that are not in great shape and mismatched appliances.

Now my decorating style is eclectic primarily because I like very old stuff and I like very modern stuff so it becomes a mismash. Granted, I like the lovely current farm house decor, but let’s be real, real farmer types cannot have wall to wall WHITE. That becomes red Carolina clay color in a split second. We wear boots that daily tromp through dirt, grass and manure. The previous owners put gray tile in the kitchen and while it is very practical, I don’t really like it. To be real again, I will live with it. Not gonna be tearing up perfectly good tile that will outlast me.

Back to the coffee bean bags. My moment of inspiration about curtains gave me a direction to take the kitchen. They are rustic, but not sweet rufflely country. I already have plans to paint the countertops black to tie in with the stainless and black stove (the white dishwasher and fridge will be replaced eventually). DH and I found a sweet deal on two cool bar stools at the ReStore that are wood and black metal. All that ties in the black and the wood. The other kitchen chairs from the ReStore are going to get painted white to lighten up all that dark wood and go with the walls and windows. The rest of the decor is vintage. I lean heavily to the 1930’s and 40’s. Luckily we happen to have some nice pieces from DH’s family that have found a home in the kitchen. I would love to replace the cabinet and drawer pulls, but there are tons of them. I would bankrupt us just with pulls if I got all new. For the time being I will probably get creative with the brass (gotta love those 80’s and 90’s brass things) and black paint and replace a little at a time. Whew!

That’s about it for the creative stuff here. I did get back on a horse yesterday for the first time in over a year. Back when I was taking my grief break, DN and I started taking horse back riding lessons because uncles/husbands shouldn’t try to teach family members, especially a couple of mouthy females. I was loving it, but then a kidney stone happened, followed by Covid. We stopped the lessons. Next month DN will have wrapped up soccer and band and we plan to get back to the lessons. I can’t wait. Even though I had DH lead the horse (horse is still in training) instead of me taking the reins, it was good. I remembered my posture and my weight shifts, etc. The horse, Cinder, is a big, lanky Tennesse Walker. I swear it’s like riding an elephant he is so tall. We won’t even discuss the graceful (NOT) assent and desent I made on said horse. No cameras allowed!

So, I guess whether it’s software or horses, there is a learning curve and everything rarely goes smoothly. I will ungracefully get back on a horse and ungracefully repair my computer file, but will learn new things in the process.

Have a awesome week!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

The Unknowns

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are well. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, are you as excited as I am that SPRING will offically be here this weekend? The next couple of nights will not feel very Springy, but next week is looking much better.

Normally I plan to get my posts out on Thursdays, but give myself some grace to ooze into Friday when necessary. It has been a thing for the past few weeks. This week we had our oldest granddaughter with us Wednesday – Thursday while she is on Spring Break. Nothing terribly productive is going to happen when one or more of the kids or the grands are here. If all goes well (crossing my fingers), our schools are supposed to open back up to in person learning after Easter!! I’m not sure who is more excited, me or DN. She is so ready to have a social life again and I am so ready to have my schedule back again. DH is also now working 5 days a week again which he hasn’t been able to do since July. It is virtually impossible to really get the creative juices going with constant interruptions and as much as I love them, DH & DN find a way to interrupt my plans numerous times when they are home.

An update on my Queen Bee situation is in order after last week’s crazy. After providing Her Majesty with a cozy, new home, food, and brood for new workers SHE UP AND LEAVES! Absconding it’s called in the bee world. She took her tiny entourage and left to parts unknown. Dang it! There are theories and speculation as to why absconding happens, but no one really knows. I do know that it was a terrible time to leave and the likelihood that she and her attendants survived this week is very low. I guess all works out in the end. As disappointed as I was to lose her, I don’t think I really want a queen with that little good sense.

While I was driving back from soccer dropoff the other day I got to pondering the whole unknown thing. Have you ever thought about just how much “unknown” we live with every day? It’s unknown why queen bees leave a perfectly good hive. A year ago we all faced a whopping big unknown about this pandemic. It’s unknown every day what the weather will really do (sorry meteorologists, but you aren’t always terribly accurate). It’s unknown how our health will hold up, if our jobs will hold up, if our relationships will hold up. I find it ironic that human beings as a whole can be so arrogant when we know so little.

Hopefully the older we get and the more life “unknowns” we live through, the more we appreciate the here and now. I know that more and more I appreciate the simplest things because of where I’ve been. I seriously appreciate my family and friends because I have lost so many already. As I hear about more and more people losing their jobs I remember when I was laid off during the Great Recession with two kids to support and a mortage to pay. I appreciate our income and don’t waste it. Even with achy joints I appreciate my health because I’ve faced some scary health unknowns in the past. Just imagine how horrible human beings would be if we didn’t live with constant unknowns. The unknowns are here to humble us, I guess.

The honeybees and the artwork keep me humble always. I found a couple of hours to work on this drawing. In my head it looks different from the way it’s turning out. Really and truly, when I start a piece of artwork, I have no idea how it’s actually going to turn out. Simultainously, it’s amazing and frustrating. Sometimes I’m amazed it turns out ok (there is always the “this is awful” stage) and more times than not, it’s frustrating that it won’t work the way I want it to. Oh well, that’s life.

I have to go take care of a few things before it’s time to put on the Taxi Driver light for soccer practice. Have an awesome week!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Royal drama

Hi Everyone!

How has your week been? Hopefully it has not been as challenging as mine has been. I’m a day late and a dollar short thanks to the crazy. There will not be a drawing lesson this week either. I will do my best for next week.

People who live fairly urban / suburban lives probably think not much happens out in the country. Let me assure you that it may be a different kind of drama and excitement, but it is drama and excitement just the same. There has been some Royal Drama in the news lately and someone asked if I watched the interview. Nope. Don’t really care. I have my own form of royal drama around here to deal with.

Tuesday night – dog wakes me up around 1 am needing to go out. This is very unusual. Odie has a very set schedule that does not include going out after 9 pm. He is also known for his 17 hour bladder. Seriously, he has gone 17 hours without peeing. His choice, not ours. There might have been cold rain involved. Anyway, lets just say that he had an upset tummy. And he had an upset tummy at 2:30 am. Then again at 3:45 am. Wednesday was just a joy to get through. For some reason he didn’t have all the tummy issues during the day.

Wednesday night – dog wakes me up around 1 am needing to go out. Repeat above pattern. I am feeding him rice and pumpkin for his intestinal problems and he doesn’t seem to feel bad. On the other hand, I am barely functioning.

Thursday is difficult, but Odie seems to be better. Mid-afternoon I drag myself outside to do some work in my garden. I hear banging and rattling coming from the barn. No one should be in the barn. I peek in the crack between the doors and see two horses helping themselves to food in the feed room. One, the door on the other side of the barn was closed earlier. Two, it is a bad, bad thing for horses to feed themselves. Three, the feed room is supposed to always stay closed and latched.

It seems that the “too smart for their own good” horses have learned how to bang their heads against the back door and jar the brace loose to pop the door open. Normally this would not be a huge issue, but the feed room was accidently left open. Horses, for all their big, burly size, seem to be somewhat delicate in my opinion. Like, if they eat too much grain or rich grass they can Founder (Founder (laminitis) in horses is a serious condition of the foot caused by the pedal bone rotating and pointing towards the horse’s sole. It is also one of the most common reasons for disability and lameness in ponies and horses. This is extremely painful and in some cases it may be necessary to euthanize.) or Colic ( “colic” means “abdominal pain,” which can have a variety of causes and treatments. Colic also varies greatly in severity. A horse may have a mild bout of abdominal pain that is resolved with a single dose of medication. Other times, colic may necessitate surgery, or unfortunately, euthanasia. All instances of colic in horses should be treated as a potential emergency.). No matter how hard we try, we have lots of horse drama around here because we have smart horses.

As I am running the two horses out of the feed room and the third one who is trying to get into the feed room, out of the barn, I see the two remaining equine. Christy, our oldest horse and Spark Plug the donkey. Somehow they have managed to get themselves locked into one of the stalls together. I try hard not to impose human emotions onto the animals, but I kid you not, the expressions on their faces said “IT WASN’T US. WE WERE STUCK IN HERE THE WHOLE TIME!” I had to stop and laugh.

Woven in amongst all the above crazy, I had honeybee drama all week. After last week’s post where I said the girls were ok, I began to get the distinct feeling that they weren’t. I kept seeing less and less forager bees. By Wednesday I had decided the Queen was dead and most of my hive as well. I had my usual cry over dead bees. Then I called a beekeeper to order a new nucleus of bees even though every time I say I am hanging up my veil when I lose a hive. I’m sitting out there with the hive, watching a few bees come and go, trying to decide what to do about the few remaining bees that I’m sure are still in there. Then I see something odd. A small clump of bees on the front. I look closer and I see what looks like a Queen bee. What the??? Then it dawns on me that the girls had probably sensed the old queen failing or dead and made a new queen and she was outside to go on her mating flight. Well, dang.

Today, I decided to break down the hive and see what was going on in there. Honestly, I was expecting just to see a lot of dead bees and nothing else. I really didn’t think that young queen would come back or make it back to a dead hive. I open up the hive and see a small cluster of bees. Probably no more than 50. These were the ones I was wondering what to do with if they were still alive. Then I see THE QUEEN! She was back.

From here I am going to do the quick version of several hours of work. Run get small hive box called a nuc that holds 5 frames of bees and beeswax foundation to concentrate food and warmth for THE QUEEN. Put queen and attendants in nuc, move old hive out of way and plop down the nuc in its place so forager bees know where to find home. Run around putting old frames of honey far from the nuc so robber bees won’t come hunting it and kill new queen (nature is harsh). Text my brother-in-law to see if he can spare a frame or two of bee larve (brood) to have new nurse bees to attend queen when she starts laying. Put sugar water at nuc for quick food. Look over at side of nuc and see a new clump of bees on the outside. THE DANG QUEEN HAS COME OUT OF THE BOX AGAIN. Put post on beekeepers site on Facebook to find out what to do. Told to leave her alone and attendants will walk her back in the box. They did. BIL brings me two frames of brood that I put into nuc. Run around cleaning up my mess in case it rains and look back at nuc. THE DANG QUEEN HAS COME OUT OF THE BOX AGAIN. At this point I’m done. She is on her own. I have stressed and slaved over the girl long enough. But I really, really, really, hope she is mated, gets back in the hive and is as good a Queen as her mother and grandmother were. Maybe not as cranky as her Grandmother. She had serious attitude.

The video is of the second time I found the queen outside with her attendants. She’s under the pile. Now I just wait and watch and hope this has a good ending. I hope I have not bored you with farm life drama. It’s what we love even though we need our heads examined to keep up with all these critters.

Have a great week!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Crown Photo by Ashton Mullins on Unsplash

Video by yours truly

Dad, the girls are ok.

Hi Everyone!

Did anyone do any drawing last week? Guess what. I didn’t. Yes, you can slap me on the wrist. Spring is springing and around here that means all sorts of things are ramping up all at once. Happens every year in March.

We are still working on the attic. Slowly, but surely walls are going up. I have run out of primer and need to make a paint run before Saturday. The colder, wetter days are now attic days. I have been trying to do some cleaning out and reorganizing while waiting for paint to dry.

Seed planting and garden maintence have started. Weed pulling and general outdoor cleanup has been started. Our place was pretty much neglected and overgrown for years before we bought it so we are constantly picking different areas that have to have major brush, vine and weed removal.

Top all this off with DN playing in the high school band and making the soccer team. The football season was pushed to winter/spring so she has band practice and/or soccer practice and games every evening. I am still the taxi. It is a bittersweet moment when a teen gets their driver’s license. The parent is simultaniously terrified and joyous. DN is taking driver’s ed now and will have her permit in the summer. I am one year away from freaking out at every siren sound, running to the phone when it rings and losing sleep until I hear the car pull in. That doesn’t even cover the terrifiying moments in the passenger seat while a newbie driver is at the wheel. Real aging doesn’t happen until you survive teenagers!

March is the beginning of beekeeping season too. During the winter all you can do is make sure the girls have lots of food and hope for the best. March brings happy dances when you see the girls flying again or grief when you realize a colony didn’t survive the winter. If you have several hives these emotions can happen altogether. I got to do my happy dance yesterday. I had seen my girls flying before yesterday, but March is when many hives die from starvation. It was warm enough for me to open the hive and check their food stores. We still have some cold days and nights to go and not much is blooming yet. Unless something weird and dreadful happens, my girls should be good to go for another year.

I like to sit and just watch the bees going and coming. It’s peaceful and confirmation that despite the crazy in the world things are still in God’s order. Today especially I plan to sit with the bees. Today is my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 86. He was a life long beekeeper and when I was a girl one of my jobs was to help him with the bees. At the time I didn’t pick up much actual beekeeping knowledge other than be very careful where you pick up a frame of honey, but the smell of beeswax always sucks me right back to that time. Dad gave me my first hive of bees a few years ago and helped me get set up. I had no idea I would enjoy their company so much. Now I know why he would often go and watch the bees.

Happy Birthday Dad! The girls are ok. The bees and your human ones. I love you.

Have a great week everyone!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace,

Christel

Featured photo was taken by yours truly when my Dad was setting up my first hive of bees for me in 2016. The second picture was taken by my sister on Dad’s 84th and last birthday in 2019.

Surviving February

Hi Everyone!

If you are in the U.S. right now then there is a very good chance that you have had enough of February. Most of the country is either under snow, flooded with rain and/or experiencing sub artic conditions. Power outages are not helping. We are expecting a major ice storm when you are probably reading this. I’m trying to get it posted in case we lose power. Supposedly we will have sunlight on Friday. I’m not sure my eyes can handle it after weeks of gloom.

I never do well in February. It’s only a marketing ploy that the calendar says it has 28 days. In reality it is 90 days long. We did slosh our way to South Carolina over the weekend to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and hang out with my favorite almost 2 year old. The weather there was just as dreadful, but staying in your pj’s and playing with Legos, PlayDoh and crayons with a toddler takes your mind off it somewhat. We had a great visit and DD and SIL got to go out to dinner for her birthday without the kid for a change.

The rain and gray yesterday almost did me in. Cabin fever and Seasonal Affective Disorder are real and I battle them every February. I was restless, cranky, sleepy, unmotivated and stir crazy. I really couldn’t find much to help. All my go to’s, knitting, artwork, baking, candles, reading, sewing, were letting me down. I finally resorted to watching YouTube videos in tropical places. Ugh, not exactly productive.

Last year when the lockdowns started I was so thankful that it was March and we were having an early Spring so I could be outside. Though we aren’t in a complete lockdown right now, the state of the world is pretty gloomy along with the weather and from what I’m reading and hearing, I’m far from alone in this mental mud. I have been pondering if there is anything I can do to help. Over and over I see where creativity has been the saving grace for so many people during this pandemic and I understand why. Focusing intently on a problem (creativity is problem solving) takes your mind off everything around you. Flow it’s called. Shutting out the world. When I am in the flow a tornado could hit and I would be oblivous until things started flying.

I think I am going to try and post a few drawing tutorials here and see if there is any interest. I do not consider myself a teacher even though years ago I taught a few classes to adults and children. As an artist it is always a good idea to revisit the basics every now and then so it would be good for me too. Drawing, like writing, has been proven to be excellent therapy. Drawing doesn’t require any special or expensive materials. A #4 pencil and some copy paper work just fine. I may make some suggestions for other materials, but even now I will sketch something on any scrap of paper that is laying around.

Now, I don’t want to hear the “I can’t even draw a stick figure” excuse. Yes, I was born with the ability to “see” how objects actually look and draw or paint them. You might have been born with the ability to understand advanced mathmatics. Trust me, that is just as a mysterious ability to me as drawing might be to you, but even I was able to learn enough algebra to pass the class. I think I even used algebra ONCE outside of a classroom. You might need to draw something one day that will help you in a crisis. You are in a foreign country possibly, don’t speak the language and need to find a bathroom! Toliets are not hard to draw.

Right now I’m planning for Lesson 1 next week. If you have hung out here with me for any amount of time, you know that life is very fluid in my world, but if I set a goal I usually am stubborn enough to make it happen. Let’s see how I do with a few lessons and if you happen to know people who are having a tough time right now with life and think a distraction might be good for them, please send them my way. If it helps someone have a break from all the stress swirling around out there then it will be well worth my time.

Let’s all try to keep our heads above water (or snow, or ice) for a few more weeks and hopefully the sunshine will break through soon.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace,

Christel

Photo of ice on plants by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash

Impatience

Hi Everyone,

I hope all is well with you and yours this week. Anyone else sick of winter yet? Here in North Carolina we had one of those Spring teaser days this week. I spent the entire day outside working on projects. It was a glorious 60 degrees with sunshine and too good to waste inside. No regrets for thowing all my indoor projects aside. We are back to grey and gloomy with impending rain now. Typical February weather for us and extremely depressing.

Today I started on the fox painting above. In case any of you wonder how and why I pick my subjects, they are almost completely random right now. I have many personal photos that sometimes become paintings, but in the case of the fox, I used a website called Paint My Photo. Photographers upload their photographs and give permission for artists to use them as reference material. I have several files of images that I like saved and when I need a subject I just go and look through them until one them says, “paint me, paint me!”

Eventually I plan on doing more series and maybe have some deeper thoughts added in, but for now, under my current situation, I just paint random things that make my heart sing a little. I am drawn to the non-human creatures. You get direct and honest feedback from animals as long as you learn their language. Laid back ears on a horse, a donkey or a llama is a warning that they are not happy. A certain twitch of a tail will tell you the same thing about a cat.

I will digress a moment and tell you a quick story. Our horse Cinder is an absolute sweetie and everyone who meets him loves him, BUT he quickly gets bored and finds mischief. Day before yesterday I watched him pester our horse, Asher. Asher is the Alpha here and was trying to nap, but Cinder wouldn’t let him. Everytime Asher dosed off, Cinder poked him with his nose or nipped at him. Asher finally got fed up and chased him off. I thought that was the end of it.

Yesterday morning I was walking the dog before dawn and noticed Cinder standing in the pasture alone while the other equine were in a group by the barn. I told DH that it looked like Cinder had been excommunicated. He said, “funny you should mention that, something happened between Asher and Cinder last night after feeding.” He went on to explain that when he let them out of their stalls after their supper there was no usual calm strolling out of the barn. Instead Asher immediately threw his head (dominate posturing) and chased Cinder out of the barn, nipping at his rear.

It seems that Cinder’s antics had gotten on everyone’s last nerve and he was temporarily kicked out of the heard for a day. I was in the barn last night for feeding and Cinder wouldn’t even come into the barn. He’s usually the first one in. It took some persuading on DH’s part to herd Cinder into his stall and those big, brown eyes were very sad and confused. Things seem to be better today. Like I said, animals keep it honest and direct. Cinder will probably behave better now…for a while anyway.

Now back to the fox. I’m painting this fox today and I kept getting a glare from the overhead light on my reference photo. Then I couldn’t get my canvas to stay still. Did I mention that I’m now painting on our guest bed? Only slightly better than trying to paint on my lap in the living room. I can only use acrylics right now because I have no where to let paintings dry if I use oils. I have a love/hate relationship with acrylics and after using oils this summer I am finding the fast drying time of acrylics very irritating. All those feathers and fur I’ve been painting lately would probably be easier with oils.

Attic studio in progress

I am SO ready to get to work in my attic. I daydream of having my easel set up ALL THE TIME. Lighting that I can control. Tables I can leave my mess on and not have to clean up to eat dinner or have a guest over. Supplies that I know where they are and not have to hunt through a dozen mystery boxes.

“When will your attic be done?” you ask. I have no idea. This is where we are right now. I started priming the drywall last week, but I haven’t quite finished and I can’t set up my easel until that overhead piece goes in, then the lighting. It’s a little bit of torture having to work one bit at a time. No, it’s a lot of torture. I have the vision, but we are no where near it yet. Sigh.

I am not going to stop doing what I’m doing. It’s taken me a lifetime to squeeze out the small amount of time I have right now to do this. I ain’t gettin’ any younger here! I will admit though that this is the most impatient I have been over something, maybe ever. You might want to say a prayer or two for DH. He has to live with me.

Have a great week!

Christel

The best laid plans

Hi Everyone,

Let’s talk planning. Are you a planner or a fly by the seat of your pants person? I’m an uber planner married to a flyer. Every day I get up and look in my planner at my pre-planned plan and am ready to start checking those items off. Almost everyday since Christmas those plans have been thwarted, misconjoled, bumfuzzeled and thrown out the window. Between the crazy of the school schedule and the fact that my DH’s employer took the whole month of January off, nothing has gone as planned and I will soon be pushed over the planner’s edge.

Granted, we have gotten several projects done that needed to be done, but all at the expense of my daily plans. Sooooooo, I am at least two weeks behind on artwork I had planned out and listing items in my eBay and Etsy stores. The weather has had some influence on the plans as well. Yesterday I just threw out the day’s entire list because the weather was warm and sunny. We have not had many of those and I desperately needed some Vitamin D. Instead of paying the bills and photographing artwork, I pruned Mom’s apple trees, cleaned out some of my bee supplies, etc. Anything to be outside.

Today I am working through yesterday’s list because winter returned with a cold wind and we are barely above freezing. Unfortunately we did not get any of the predicted snow. Tomorrow we have one of the grands for the day so I have minimal plans made. Maybe Saturday I can get caught up.

Once again I have moved my pile of art supplies. Now that DS and Girlfriend have moved out, I have again migrated to the guest room. It’s still not optimal, but the lighting is much better. The positive side of DH being home for a month is that serious progress has been made on my attic studio. I would go take more photos but it’s freezing up there at the moment. One section is drywalled and mudded. He is at this moment building some doors to cover some storage areas. When he has that done I can actually go up and start painting walls and organizing some supplies.

That’s my update for this week. Not much artsy stuff, but our garden has a layer of fresh compost, my new bee yard is set up, our lower pasture has been bush hogged for future fencing, I have picture ledges installed in our hallway for family pictures, we have discovered a farmer we can get raw milk from, I made butter and farmer’s cheese and Mom’s apple trees are pruned. It’s been crazy, but I guess I can’t complain about my plans going awry.

Stay safe and throw out the plans occasionally.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Photo by Renáta-Adrienn on Unsplash