An Ending and a Beginning 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are having a great week. I am finally almost over all the itching and pain from the shingles now and the weather is finally in my favorite zone of 75-80 degrees with sunshine. Life is good again!

Yesterday I made my last delivery of my last orders for my design & print business and am winding down 32 years in the industry. I have made so many good friends over the years and will miss seeing them on a regular basis. The work itself I don’t think I will miss as much. I’m ready to do my own ideas on my own deadlines now. I have a couple of logos to do for my daughter and our beekeepers association but I think those will be my last two logos unless I revise my own logos.

What’s next? Well my plan is for you to get to see more of my artwork primarily. I started selling on EBay last year as a way of cleaning out our storage unit and there are some remaining family items no one wanted that need new homes. I will also do that until I either run out of stuff or decide I enjoy it enough to go find more stuff to sell, but my focus is the artwork. 

I have the two commissioned drawings to finish and I will show you those when they are finished, but I can’t yet while they are in progress. Hopefully next week I can get started on the ideas that fill about four sketchbooks that were started more than twenty years ago. I’m so excited! And more than a little freaked out that I am finally getting to do this!  Keep me accountable.  Procrastination sets in when the fear starts breathing down my neck. If you have ever taken a big risk on something very important to you…you know exactly what I mean!

Today’s photo is of my lovely, happily blooming irises. 

Go do something you have always wanted to do…now!

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Itchy

Hi Everyone,

It all started last week when I had a head on collision with a honeybee. She panicked and stung my forehead. 

A few days later we took on three tons of mulch spreading in the garden and yard. Evidently I disturbed a few ticks who decided to make a meal out of me. 

Where I found the poison oak I have no idea, but it found me. I’m not really allergic to it but this time it seems to have found its way into my bloodstream and is popping out in little uber itchy spots all over my body. 

To add insult to injury I began to have mystery pain across my right side that took me to the doctor who also decided it was a mystery that would require blood tests this week. During the weekend, before the scheduled tests, the mystery pain began to turn into itchy patches and revealed itself as shingles. 

When I say that it has been a VERY ITCHY week… It’s an understatement. 

So please excuse my brief post today. I can barely focus and of course, my new bees are ready to be picked up. I will be fully suited up for their transfer into their new hives (bees can’t wait for the beekeeper’s recovery). One more itchy spot might be one too many this week!

Hoping you have a no itch week! 

The art of frustration 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are having a lovely week so far. Supposedly we are going to have Spring return here this week. I am very ready for my feet to thaw out!

Did you notice that I posted this on time this week? Want to know why? Nope, it’s not because I finally have my act together. I have misplaced my good drawing paper and cannot continue with the two commissioned drawings until I find it. I am hoping that the distraction of writing will let my brain work on remembering where I put it last. 

Finally I have a week that involves no crisis management of affairs of an estate, Spring Break is over and I have no huge impending deadlines. Yesterday was great! I worked on my Etsy shop, started these two drawings, did a little practice painting all before I had to pick up Miss L.  Today started out pretty much the same way until I realized my drawing paper is missing. Dang! I had two solid hours to work on them.

So here I am, coming into the last month and a half of my thirty year career, all geared up to get down to some serious creative doing and making and I am an organizational mess. Normally I know exactly where everything is unless someone I live with moves it and this happens all too frequently. This time I can’t blame them though. 

In June I will have lived here for two years. In those two years I have had to constantly keep moving my art supplies around.  Either a room is being painted/renovated, someone is visiting or moving in, or every spare inch of space is occupied by stuff that has to be sorted, stored or given away eventually. The frustration level with this situation is very high. Really and truly I am a minimalist at heart but I find I am always living primarily with people who are not. My son is the exception. Right now he lives out of a backpack, but take a wild guess who stores his bed and few boxed possessions. 

My dear husband promises me that one day there will be a separate little art studio that only I have the key to. Looking at our long list of “need to do” items I hope he is planning on adding wheelchair ramp and Geritol dispenser on it. Until then I retreat to my Pinterest board of studio ideas and dream. 

The current reality is that I set up my fold out table in my bonus daughter’s/guest room for the two weeks that she is away and frantically work on my sewing machine and other projects that have to be spread out (I’m a creative mess so most projects fall in this category) then pack it all back up before she returns. Heaven help me if I forget to take the vacuum cleaner out of her closet before setting up the table. In that case, or any other that requires something from that closet, I have to crawl over the bed to the other side, retrieve the item then push or pull it back across the bed.  There are many not so nice words said during this ordeal. 

If the table issue were not enough the fact that I have my most used supplies in…the china cabinet, under our bed, under the love seat, under and on my desk, in a file cabinet in Miss L’s room, beside the sofa, in an end table, on our bookshelf, AND in the master bathroom! The less needed supplies are in our storage unit 20 minutes away and I seem to need them several times a month. Honestly I do not own a store’s worth of supplies. We just have so little space that I have to stick them in every nook and cranny I can find. Trying to find what I need causes some high level frustration. HOPEFULLY as I wind down my design business and clean out files and supplies that I will no longer need, I can begin to consolidate the art supplies and cut down on the frustration. Did I mention that the nearest art supply store is over an hour away by car or two days away via Amazon. Wonder if I can figure out how to make horse hair paint brushes? 

Maybe I should remember to give myself a pat on the back any time I manage to finish ANYTHING.  Here are a couple of finished items from this week. My table quilt from my class got finished. Probably the worst sewing I have done in years but it doesn’t look too bad as long as you don’t look on the back, and a small painting of our cat, Sweetie Pie. I have her eyes too close together but I was focusing on some painting techniques more that worrying about getting everything “right”. 


I am going to make myself some lunch, take some water to the chickens, gather some eggs and make sure I didn’t put my drawing paper in their coop.

May your week have low levels of frustration!

It’s not the years

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to Spring if you are on the Northern Hemisphere. Actually it doesn’t feel like Spring here at all. Currently it is snowing and there is yet another three hour delay for school. I’m very glad I got more honey to my bees on Monday because there are not may good days for them to get out and forage for the next couple of weeks. 

I have finally started some new artwork but will have to wait until next week to get photos. There were plans to get new work in my Etsy store, but there were delays in getting the scans done. Today there will be delays on several projects thanks to the snow and school delay. Sigh. Dang, just got notice that school is now closed. Our Northern friends would die laughing at what these kids get out of school for around here. 

Last week was tough. We had two funerals. 

The first was for our beloved Muffin kitten (aka The Muffinator). Muffin was born Feline Leukemia positive. We think her Mom, Sweetie Pie, has probably overcome the disease now but we haven’t had her tested yet to find out for sure. Muffin was the only survivor in the litter. 

Muffin never got bigger than 3.5 lbs in her 5 months and 6 days of life, but no one told her she was tiny. She came into this world full of curiosity and spunk. She would stand in the barn and never flinch as the horses stepped over her. One of her favorite places to play was in our biggest horse’s stall…while he was in it!  She loved to chase our chickens who were about four times her size. She was so tiny that she could squeeze between the wire to get into the run while I was cleaning the coop and hunt chickens. She went into the bee yard with me and swatted bees. 



We were constantly vigilant about Muffin’s whereabouts because she was always living life on the edge AND she was the perfect snack size for much of the wildlife around here. Every time we heard a hawk we ran to find Muffin and put her in her kitty condo to keep her safe. D. often stuck her in his coat pocket while he was working because she had no fear of power tools and thought nothing of playing right beside a running skil saw! 

When we found out that Muffin had Feline Leukemia we did not tell Miss L. but decided to give the little rascal the best life we could for as long as she had. The vet had suggested putting her to sleep right away. I no longer see that vet. What the vet didn’t know was that this kitten had this great big heart to go along with her great big bravery.  When we let her out of her condo everyday she didn’t run off to play. Instead she jumped into your arms, crawled onto your shoulder and sat there and purred. Her first choice always, was to be held and played with. She was perfectly content in a coat pocket or the hoodie of your sweatshirt or riding on your shoulder.  She often rode with me to pick up Miss L. from school and did so sitting on my shoulder watching the world go by. 

Last week we noticed Muffin getting thin and Miss L. reported that she wasn’t eating. D. noticed she was coughing. On Friday I called the vet for an appointment. They could work her in after I picked up Miss L. I then had to tell Miss L. about Muffin’s disease and to be prepared for the worst.  After x-rays the vet showed me what was going on. Muffin’s little body was full of one, probably two large masses that were taking up 3/4 of her tiny body. She couldn’t eat and was struggling to breathe because the tumors were so big. Even her tiny heart was being pushed out of place. We had no choice about what to do. I called D. and he drove over as Miss L. and sat and cried and loved on The Muffinator.  We were all there with her to the end.

This little ball of fluff gave us so much love, fun and laughter in her short life.  When she was born we were going through one of the most stressful times of any of our lives. She was the bright spot in the dark. She made even non-cat loving folks love her. Muffin will be missed for a long time. 

Our second funeral was for John S.  John was eighty-three and grew up with my Dad. John was a farmer and a barber and also my and D.’s very first employer. We went to work for him and his wife in their tobacco fields at the ripe old age of 11 for me and 12 for D.  We both have many good memories of the summers we worked for them. It was hard, hot work, but there was much laughter and looking back, life instructions.  We are glad that we went by to visit with them about a year ago. John had already had a stroke and wasn’t doing great. D.’s Dad died when he was thirteen years old. John became a second Father to him. John was a very humble man with a big heart and huge work ethic.  I can see those same traits in D. 

The funeral was probably one of the warmest and truest I have ever attended. Each family member spoke, including John’s wife of 63 years as well as friends in attendance.  I also don’t think I have ever been to a funeral with so many men moved to tears. Many, many friendships were made while sitting in John’s barber chair.  I can remember going with my Dad and listening to the men discuss life over haircuts. 

I have pondered these two recent funerals quite a bit this week.  You can focus on work, stuff, impressing people, etc., but in the end what do you leave?  It isn’t how long you lived or how big your house is or how impressive your job is that matters.  A five month old kitten and an eighty-three year old man left the same legacy.  The people they left behind knew without a shadow of a doubt that they were loved. 

It’s a little bland

Hi Everyone!

A day late and a dollar short over here, but that’s life sometimes. The current state of affairs has me bundled up on the sofa sipping tiny quantities of coffee and nibbling on a bland rice cake. Since I am very rarely sick and I am now in my second round of sickliness this winter, I am assuming that my body still hasn’t completely recovered from the stress of 2017.  My one and only real goal is to get this post done today. Anything else will be gravy. Thank goodness it is D.’s day off because I’m not sure I could drag myself out to look after the animals today.

Our week has been somewhat bland this week too and I don’t have much to share but it’s way too easy to fall out of a habit and next thing you know I will only be writing here once a month. Just think about how much crazy you will miss out on if I did that! 

D. and I had dinner with friends Sunday evening that made for an enjoyable start to the week. Sharon, glad you and Alan could meet us. We had a great time!

Monday, snow, again. Ours was minimal to what much of the country is dealing with but it was enough to call school off and Miss L. to lose one of her Spring break days. 


Yesterday I went with my Mom to her post op checkup and was already feeling yucky. By the time I got home I knew that I would not be going to the monthly beekeepers meeting and crawled into bed. It was all downhill from there. Right now I have the energy level of a wet dishrag. My two mutts get very concerned when I am not up and going at my usual speed. This is Kato keeping watch over me last night until he couldn’t hold his eyes open any longer.  This morning they kept taking turns checking on me when I wasn’t out of bed at my usual early hour and would snuggle up closer than normal to me while I was trying to catch up on some sleep. Dogs are just the best!


My apologies for not having better to offer this week. I do hope to work on some drawings today if I can stay upright long enough.  Today’s post is like doing anything that is important to you that you want to improve at. Some days you have to show up, put in the time even though you know it’s not so good and persevere until things get better.  Sort of like the sock I have been knitting. I wanted to learn a new heel type. I pulled out that heel four times until I got it right. Not fun. Not fun at all but it got done. 

I hope you have a healthy week and bless you if you read this to the end! I hope for much better next week!

Regeneration

Hi Everyone!

I hope you had a great week. We are about half way through January now. How are those resolutions going? Are you one of those folks who pick a word for your year? You know, one word that signifies what you want to accomplish or hope to bring more of into your year. Something like, Health or Focus?  I have been thinking about what word I would pick for 2018 and decided on Regeneration. 


So why Regeneration, you ask? Well, last week, right after I posted to this blog, I walked over to my computer and hit SEND on one of the most difficult emails I have ever sent.  It was an email to my clients informing them of my decision to retire from 30+ years in the graphic design/ printing industry. 

The thought behind this decision began about February of last year as I looked at my profit & loss statement while doing my taxes. I realized that my expenses were about to overtake my profits. There were several factors for this including higher costs for software and a great deal more travel time. D. and I discussed what would I do to replace the income if I closed my business but to be honest there were not many feisible options where we live. 

Fast forward about seven months and I find myself a parent again and beginning to fall into a different part time business while still running my main business. It was obviously a little too much on one plate. Without going into all the boring details, once again God was telling me that a change was in order. I’ve been through this enough times now to know not to fight it. If I fight it things will get much worse and I will still find myself exactly where He wants me to be eventually anyway. I learn hard, but I do learn!

Also in all the crazy that was going on, D. and I realized our health was suffering. We both were struggling with insomnia, were mentally and physically worn down, not eating right and not getting proper exercise. Once again we were responsible for someone else’s well being and we did not have the option of a major health crisis. We had hoped to get a lot more taken care of at his sister’s house before it went up for sale, but exhaustion was setting in and things at our home were falling apart. We had given it our best but it was time to stop the insanity. 

When D. retired last March, we had visions of travel and much more time for our many hobbies. Well we all know how those best laid plans go, but at our age we don’t have unlimited time to do the things we have been putting off. Roll all these factors together and you will see that we have to adjust, renew and grow into a new and unknown direction now. 

What we do know is that we have a lovely young girl who needs stability and guidance. We know we have to look after ourselves to give it to her. No more working two and three jobs like both of us did when we and our other kids were younger. But we both deserve and desperately need some time to chase some dreams and enjoy some things that we have put off for a very long time. 

I am probably right now more than a little jealous of some of you and my close friends who are traveling to awesome places that I have always wanted to go. It’s a very real struggle. We had some cool plans in the works. We aren’t writing them off, but they will be delayed and different now.  To deal with the disappointment and to be sane and pleasant people we have to give ourselves the gift of time instead. Time to rest, renew our energy, find our new normal and grow in ways we didn’t know existed. A REGENERATION of our lives. 

I have a new and interesting part time income stream that does not include hours of driving every week or rushing to make sure I’m back in time to pick up Miss L. Those two things alone relieve a huge stress load and I have more time. More time that I can finally give to my artwork that has slowly but steadily been bringing in more income as well. It’s pretty much now or never. I don’t have any guarantee that I have until the age of 80 to start an art career like Grandma Moses and the desire to make stuff has been the one and only constant of my five decades. I think I owe it a higher ranking for its consistency and perseverance if nothing else…like the fact I need it like oxygen. 

So there you have it.  REGENERATION in 2018 in whatever form it takes. I expect an interesting year. 

I don’t hear from many of you, but would love to.  Share your goals, resolutions and/or words.  Have an awesome week!

Happy 2018!

Hi Everyone!

Happy New Year! I’m running a little late this week thanks to a round with the trending crud/flu that took me out of commission completely for about three days. I am rarely sick so it drives me crazy to not get all of my To Do list done. I think one of my goals this year is to not be so hard on myself. I am often my own worst enemy. 

So do you make resolutions or set new goals at the beginning of the year? I always do. I like the feeling of a fresh start. About November I start pondering what did or didn’t happen that year and what I want to accomplish in the new year.

In 2017 life happened and most of my plans had to be put on hold, but I had set a goal of improving my knitting skills and learning how to knit socks. Little did I know just how important that seemingly little goal would be in 2017. I ended the year with two good pairs of hand knit socks and my first knitted sweater. That doesn’t sound like much but honestly I think my sanity was saved by knitting.


My actual amount of knitting included four prototype socks until I found two patterns I liked and managed two finished pairs of socks. So how did my knitting goal save my sanity? I am a born maker. I think with my hands more than my brain alone. All through school I got in trouble for drawing in class. It has now been proven that students who draw in class retain information better. Unfortunately back in my day, the teachers didn’t believe me when I told them that. 

I had already started working on socks when my sister-in-law died and I had yarn on the needles. When Miss L. came to live with us, our newly painted and remodeled guest room/office/studio became her room. Suddenly my life line of creative endeavors got packed up and sent to storage. I was left with just my drawing pencils, paper and my knitting. I no longer had my paints that I had enjoyed so much in the previous year and was making vast improvement with. My easel is a big, complicated travel easel that would not fit anywhere in the house now. I will be honest. I was heartbroken. Anyone who has a creative drive will understand. It’s like oxygen for us. We HAVE to do it to be a tolerable, stable human being. 

Knitting became my only outlet. There was so much going on during the past six months that I rarely had time for anything more than a row of stitches in stolen moments or in the middle of the night during weeks and weeks of insomnia as my poor brain tried to solve some great big problems. I’m very thankful for the two commissioned drawings I had this year. They gave me the opportunity to keep my drawing skills fresh and something to focus on besides what was going on around me and feel a little more normal.

When I say that knitting saved my sanity, I mean that the rhythm of the needles calmed me when the stress was overwhelming, the beautiful colors and texture of the yarn fed my soul, the difficult parts of the pattern focused my mind on something away from the frustration I was feeling and I could escape the world for a little while with my earbuds, some music and my knitting. I will forever be thankful that the simple act of making something got me through such a difficult time. The people that live with me will also be thankful! 

To top it all off, I now have the MOST cozy, comfortable socks and sweater that I have ever owned.  Now I know why some knitters get addicted to sock making.  


So, what is on my 2018 goal list?  Lots and lots of making!  I already have a new project on my needles but it will be a gift so I can’t divulge more than that right now. There are actually several gifts on my list. Miss L. and I will be sewing some gifts and hopefully some clothes for ourselves.  I am IMPATIENTLY waiting on my new table easel that was delayed by the snow storm. THERE WILL BE PAINTING DONE THIS YEAR! I will fill in details as I go along in the year. 


2018 is starting out with a feeling of relief of surviving 2017, a settling into the new normal for us, an appreciation for the simple, everyday joys and a looking forward now. 2017 involved much looking into the past and though it wasn’t my past, it was hard to watch the sadness and pain that those near to me were suffering.  It’s good to see smiles, hear laughter and sense peace in them now. 

I wish you all a beautiful 2018. Go make something good. 

The Untangler

Hi Everyone,

Hope you are well and all is right in your world today.  I made the Executive Decision (I’m self-employed so I get to do that) on Thursday to take next week off to, well, get Christmas stuff done and take a little break. The week before and after Christmas are always my slowest of the year anyway. I did have to wrap up a couple of projects first thus the delay in this week’s post and the fact that the pictures I wanted to upload just won’t.

Today’s subject is something I have been pondering for about two and a half months now.  It started purcolating in my little brain while D. and I were at the beach in October.  He was wanting to go fishing, but had a big, tangled mess of fishing line. After a few minutes of watching his frustration in trying to untangle the mess, I took it, sent him off to make lunch and in about 15 minutes presented him with the separate pieces of line. It reminded me of my early years in retail where the jewelry department would bring me boxes of tangled up necklaces to sort out on slow nights back in my area of the home shop. I seemed to be the only one with the patience to work at the mess until each piece was free. Little did I know that this tiny talent would be tested time and time again.


If you have the blessing of several decades under your belt, I’m sure you have recognized patterns and recurring themes in your life. If you are early in your journey on this earth maybe not, but if you pay attention, you will too. One of mine is The Untangler evidently. Physically and metaphorically. 

In my recent middle-of-the-night knitting sessions I realized that as I made hundreds of little loops to create a garment, my brain was tediously un-looping one problem after another in this tangled up mess that is my late sister-in-law’s estate. I also realized that over the years I have been given the task OR had forced upon me the task of straightening out  messes of increasing complication and they were usually created by OTHER PEOPLE. I have made my share of messes all by myself but either they were not so bad or I’m more proficient at fixing my own messes. 
As I knitted I tried to think of the names I would give to the subtle talents of other people I know. These would be people I know very well because these are not obvious talents nor are they the professions of these folks though elements may be involved. The Healer would be one of the first. Not doctors or nurses, but those glorious people who, through the almost lost art of listening and attention, help you heal from life’s wounds. The Connector would be another. They know EVERYONE and make mental connections that bring different people together to accomplish goals, big and little. There is The Mediator that has probably been helping their people work out differences since the first playground incident. The Warrior comes in to decide and end a dispute The Mediator has given up on. I haven’t seen an abundance of The Warriors, which is good, not because they are bad people, but because to end a battle there is often a high personal and emotional price for The Warrior to pay just like in any war. 

This brings up another observation. These ingrained “gifts” are not chosen and are often a source of high stress. For me to untangle a big mess takes enormous energy, time and frustration. Time away from what I want and need to be doing and looking at the list above I think that would be true in each category. To live as a society and it could be argued, to even survive as humans we need each and every one of these abilities as well as any I have not mentioned.  I guess we should look at them as a part of our contribution for life on planet Earth. 

Have a wonderful week and bless you for THE GIFTS you bring to ease the difficulties of humankind. 

Photo credit…if one shows up its mine but there seems to be an uploading issue today. I gave up waiting on it to load.

I see Normal!

Hi Everyone,

I’m running a little late this week but better late than never. I hope you had a great week!

As we are winding down this last week of October, off in the distance is a glimmer of light. That thing called Normal Life is coming into view!

Now of course Normal is as subjective as Olympic ice skating, but we all have our own normal. Our normal has forever changed, but we have a good idea of what we want it to be now.

This week we end the weekly and sometimes twice weekly trips to my SIL’s house. There is still more to do but the worst is over and what needed to come out will all be out tomorrow. We get our Wednesdays and Saturdays back!!!

Miss L wraps up her soccer season this week so we get our Tuesdays and Thursdays back!!!!!!!  If we weren’t so far behind on all the things that need to be done on the farm and house I might think we would be bored. Nope. Never happens around here!

Tonight kid# 1 is helping with her National Honor Society Club chicken stew and won’t be here until late, kid #2 has a bonfire/dance/chicken stew at her school (like I have explained in previous posts, chicken stews are a BIG thing around here) and the two exhausted adults are going to enjoy a do nothing evening.

Soooooo, hopefully you all will not have to hear me whine and complain much longer and I can get back to doing the fun, artsy, creative stuff I’m supposed to be writing about. I can tell you that those creative things are going to be taking an interesting turn by the first of the year. I’m so excited to start some new stuff!!!

Have a NORMAL week!

Photo credit Matt  Kochar