Back in the saddle

Hi Everyone!

Yes, I am back.  Last week was insane trying to get everything done before leaving for my son’s graduation so I did not make it here before we left.  BUT, here he is in all of his graduation glory and I am one proud Mom!

 

I did barely manage to get the room painting finished before we had to bring back his bed and dresser.  Before with my piles of mess and After before my mess takes over again.  I need to have an art supply yard sale or a better solution would be to win the lottery and build myself a nice big studio. 



 

Now that the big event for the year is over I am SO ready to settle down and get back to work with a routine.  We planted the majority of the garden yesterday so other than the daily weeding I should have a couple of months before I have to stop for the major harvest rituals…picking, canning and freezing.  The bees are settled in though I am adding a swarm from my brother-in-law this weekend.  No more home remodeling until Fall!

 I am setting up my easel in a corner and plan to start back painting today!  For the past year I have held off taking any commission work other than a couple from my daughter.  During the graduation party there were a few inquiries about whether I would be taking any again.  After discussing it with D. on the way home we decided that, yes, it’s time.  I will be adding pet portraits to my Etsy shop hopefully this week and then as soon as I gather some sample work, add people portraits as well.   I will add the links here on the blog when I get them set up.

 I can’t tell you what a relief it is to feel like life is settling down a little and I can get back to the artwork.  My 100 Day Project fell apart, but my goal now is to get back in the saddle and finish out the rest of the summer with some steady work.  Maybe next week I will at least have a sneak peek of what is on the easel.

The flowers are blooming here on the farm and they WILL be making it onto a canvas soon.  Until then, just enjoy the May beauty!  Have a lovely week!

Rain and Roses

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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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

Signs of improvement

Hi Everyone,

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

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


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


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

Have a great week!

How slow can you go?

My recently finished piece. Hope to have in my Etsy store soon.
My recently finished piece. Hope to have in my Etsy store soon.

Happy Mid-August!  Where has the summer gone?  School started back this week and there are hints of color in the leaves here already.  I’m not ready for cold weather!!!

It has been a productive week for us.  The floor is installed in the laundry room, the dryer is fixed and back in place (no more having to rush out and get the clothes off the clothes line before the afternoon storms) and the washer has moved out of the kitchen to it’s rightful place as well. One more little bathroom to go and the floor will be finished.  Of course I have to paint the new cabinet this weekend before I install the flooring.  It just never ends.

As life begins to finally settle into a rhythm I am facing a new adjustment.  Slowing down.  Well that should be easy enough!  Yeah, you would think so, but…

Is your To Do list longer than your arm every day?  Is every minute scheduled? Do your kids think their names are Hurry Up and We’re Late? I have also been living under that craziness as long as I can remember or since my first kid was born, whichever came first.  Work (often two jobs), house, dog, car, yard, two kids in several sports, volunteer work, church involvement, etc.  Years and years of hitting the floor running early in the morning and collapsing into bed late at night.  Stress, stress, stress.

One of the most insane moments I remember is being at work at our then family business, rushing to pick up both kids at two different schools, coming back to work and supervising their homework, then rushing them out the door at closing time to grab another fast food dinner and drive them both to soccer practice in two different towns.  It had been “one of those days” all day and when we pulled out of the fast food drive through my kids decided that their Mom might need to be committed.

Why? First, what I thought was closing time was actually an hour earlier.  I had looked at the clock wrong.  Then after screaming at them to get their stuff in the car and driving like a maniac to Wendy’s for dinner, I paid for the food in the drive thru window and then proceeded to drive away WITHOUT THE FOOD! It wasn’t until my son gently and tentatively asked me if I was OK that I realized what I had done.  I would not chalk that day up as one of my best parenting days.

That was the point where I started dropping some unnecessary obligations and trying to regain some sanity in our lives, but things have still been “go, go, go” even after my kids left home.  D. warned me that life up here has a different time frame, but I did not realize how different until this week.

I decided to get a haircut at one of the local hair salons.  I got an appointment for 5:00 pm.  My hair is very short and it has never taken more than 15-20 minutes for someone to cut it.  I arrived 10 minutes early and got to sit for about 15 minutes listening to the local gossip and meeting some of my new neighbors.  My haircut started at 5:05.  I left at 6:00!

Tuesday we needed some lumber to finish our barn and fix a room in D.’s new business.  We arrived at 3:45 with our list.  Said hello to the owner who was helping another customer.  Sat in his office for another 15 minutes. Then he and D. proceeded to discuss hunting for another 15 minutes.  Finally out to load the lumber we went. Then the fork lift stopped working.  Another 15 minutes of fork lift discussion until it was decided to use THE OTHER forklift. Another 15 minutes picking out the right pieces. Yep, another hour bites the dust.

I used to start work at 6:30 in the morning. Now that I am down to one job I sometimes just stand in the middle of the room trying to figure out what to do with myself.  With the yard, house, dogs, horses, bees, work and an hour drive anytime we go somewhere, there is plenty to do, but there really is a time difference.  It’s like a Twilight Zone episode (if you are younger than 45 years old you will have to Google that reference).  Honestly, it’s going to take awhile to get used to this.  I have a physical reaction when I have unoccupied time on my hands. I get anxious and antsy.

Oh, it is a much better and saner way to live and one that our grandparents had everyday.  We have made time into our enemy.  Something we have to race again the clock to beat everyday.  Time should be our friend.  Time to get to know our neighbors.  Time to pay attention to what you are cooking and eating. Time to enjoy a walk in the woods. Time to read a book or get lost in a project.

I finished this guy this week. It takes so TIME to do all those dots.
I finished this guy this week. It takes so TIME to do all those dots.

 

I’m working on it my friends!  I’m taking a deep breath when I start feeling the anxiety coming on and sitting down in my lawn chair and watching the butterflies do their thing on my zinnias.  I hope you can find some “country time” too.

 

Curiosity

Dorothy parker quote

I saw this quote on my cousin’s Facebook feed this morning and thought about how true this is.  Curiosity is a blessing and a curse all wrapped up together with the fact that as far as we know, we only get one lifetime.  Personally, I do not have enough time to go down every rabbit hole my curiosity wants to take, but by golly I’m going to try!

A friend asked me recently how I do everything I do.  The answer is “I do lots of things, but not necessarily lots of things well”. That is also a blessing and a curse.

I would love to excel in a couple of areas, but to really do that I would have to give up soooo many other things that I want to do, try, learn, places to visit and explore.  BUT I will admit, quite happily, that I NEVER GET BORED!  Boredom is a waste of your precious life.  Whether it is one passion or a thousand, curiosity is what makes you dig deeper, study more, practice more, give more, smile more and get out of bed with leap instead of a moan.

Another conversation recently was about a wealthy family a loved one spent some time with.  He said, “they have so much money and all they can find to do is sit around and drink every evening, all evening.”  That, my friends, is a waste of a life.  Good heavens, spend some of that money and go travel or see if you can make someone else’s life better with it.  Don’t drink it!

How do you break out of the boredom routine? Let me see if I can give some suggestions if you need help.

  1.  Pick one little subject that you have a speck of interest in and start doing some research.  Not boring classroom research, but real life research. Example:  I started out growing herbs to cook with.  During my Pinterest time I would pin articles about growing herbs and read about them.  Those articles often described the healing properties of herbs and plants.  To make a long story short, I now have started making my own herbal remedies to use and discovering that most of what we call weeds are beneficial plants. This summer I have wandered around learning plant names and properties that I have looked at all my life and knew nothing about.
  2. Take something that you perceive as a need and find a solution.  Example (sorry, I’m using me for all these, but I can’t speak for how other folks find their rabbit holes) – I needed honey. I had always gotten my raw honey from my Dad, but when my sister and brother-in-law started expanding his honey business the honey was often sold out before I could restock my supply.  I realized that now that I live out in the country again I could have bees and have my own honey supply.  Sounds easy enough until you have to research how to keep 60,000 bees alive.  Guess what! Bees are fascinating little creatures. I am now officially a bee fanatic.
  3.  Take a new road. Example – see my post about finding my way around my new part of the world.  I am seriously racking up new ideas for drawings and painting by just turning down a road that I haven’t been down before.  The views here are amazing.  In more populated areas (we don’t have a grocery store here if that explains anything) you could run across a music store where you could learn to play an instrument, a plant nursery where you could get herb plants, a school that would love to have volunteers to help students read.  It is endless.
  4.  This may be the most important one. Do not be afraid to fail at something!  I repeat – DO NOT BE AFRAID TO FAIL!  With the possible exception of certain extreme risk taking passions, most endeavors are not life threating and not un-repairable. Yes, one more Example from the home front – Floor tiling.  We decided to tile our floors ourselves.  Since I am the detail person that primarily means ME.  No, I had never stuck the first tile to a floor EVER when I started. That is what YouTube is for.  I am 85% finished with the floor and am pretty darn pleased with the way it has turned out. A professional tile guy could find my mistakes, but I bet you couldn’t.  Even if I had messed the floor up, we had saved enough money by doing it ourselves that we could have hired the tile guy to come fix my mess. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO FAIL!

My cousin, who posted the above quote, and my sister are both smitten with the curiosity curse as well.  Enter ballroom dancing, photography, welding, raising llamas…maybe it’s a genetic curse.

Curse or blessing, Curiosity just makes life FUN.  If you want a break from the depressing news and elections go find a rabbit hole to fall into.  Your TV will get dusty, Facebook friends will send out a search party and your budget may or may not (curiosity does not have to be expensive) take a beating, but life will get very interesting and colorful and exciting.

Why are you still here?  Go!

 

Impatience and Disappointment

I forgot.  No excuses.  I just forgot to write a post last week.  I remembered on Saturday evening.  It was even on my To Do list and I still forgot.  I will try not to let that happen again…at least not soon.

At my age you would think that I had learned to be patient in how long things take.  Every time I think I have learned that lesson something else comes along to prove otherwise.

Right now I am aggravated in how long it is taking me to get my work space set up and workable.  I make progress, then something needs to be fixed in the house and here comes all the furniture, appliances, boxes, etc. piled back into my office and it clutters my mind as well as the space.

Last week we finally resolved some car issues that took about a month longer than I would have liked.  It all turned out fine, but my impatience stresses me out for no good reason.

I think there is a serious conversation going on here.
I think there is a serious conversation going on here.

I have been “helping” D. train our horse, Bob.  My helping means I hold the rope and pet the horse when he (Bob) gets stressed. I am trying to learn from D’s patience.  It is one TINY step at a time teaching a horse his ground manners and to accept a rider.  Today consisted of just showing Bob the blanket and putting on and taking it off his back, then trying the same thing with the saddle.  Bob was not thrilled with the saddle.  D. would let him smell it, touch it to his side, then walk away with the saddle.  I have no idea how long this process will last until Bob will calmly accept the saddle on his back.  Three weeks ago Bob wasn’t happy about a bit in his mouth either, but now hardly notices it.

So, I’m trying to keep in mind that life is more of a slow, one step forward, two steps back process.  Eventually you get where you want to go, but it is rarely in our perceived timeframe.

This week’s other life challenge is dealing with disappointment.  Disappointment mainly in people.  I have had two incidents where people I have a high regard for have let me down.  I know things happen and I know business decisions are rarely easy, but the customer service has been highly disappointing.  In my business things go wrong also, but I do my best to make amends and resolve the issue that makes the customer, if not ecstatic, at least satisfied that I did my best to help them.  One of these situations will result in me not using the business again, the other I am waiting to see how it plays out.  I hate feeling this way.  I am a peace, love, give a hug person who despises conflict.  Unfortunately, in our flawed humanity conflict is often more the norm.

A abundance of Zinnas means you draw Zinnas!
A abundance of Zinnas means you draw Zinnas!

On a brighter note, I have found a tiny bit of space to work on drawing and painting again.  I even managed to dig out the sewing machine and make a cushion cover for a chair that the dogs were beginning to cause damage to with their nails.

Oh, and salsa!  We are making salsa and canning it this week.  That just makes me happy.  Fresh tomatoes turned into salsa that I can eat in February and have a taste of summer all over again.  As Martha says, “it’s a good thing.”

I have a salsa addiction.
I have a salsa addiction.

 

Get lost. Slow down. Change directions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

blueberry jam 2016
More slow stuff. Making blueberry jam.

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

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

All photos by Christel D. Huttar.

A Wedding and Other Life Events

One week ago today this happened!


I will have to post more photos later because my photographer (also known as my son) has not finished editing them.  Everything went as planned except for the 95 degree weather that kept us under the pavilion most of the time.  It was relaxed and stress free with some quality family time that we don’t get all that often.

Now the wedding and the move is behind us. This coming week we will be on our annual mission trip with Appalachia Service Project.  I will try to at least post some photos from there but if you don’t hear from me then we did not have cell service. 

After ASP we are looking forward to life settling into some sort of normal. I am itching to get back in my studio and make things. It is summer so here the garden will be taking up some time unless the rabbits and lack of rain finish it off early while we are gone. Here is some of the summer beauty happening  at the moment.


You get short and sweet today.  We have had a week filled with paperwork and now packing. If I don’t get back here next week, I hope you have a wonderful couple of weeks.  

The bees are here!

Welcome to the farm honeybees!  My Dad finally deemed the bees ready to move to their new home and made the trip out yesterday.  Here he is setting up the hive.

Dad and beesWhen I was little I was Dad’s bee assistant.  No, I did not get the official beekeeper’s veil, but stood nearby enough to fetch and carry as needed while he worked the bees.  Then, when the honey was ready I helped clean the racks after he cut the honeycomb out.  I learned early on that you get the most bee stings two ways.  First, going barefooted outside.  Bees love clover and we had clover in the yard.  Second, picking up sticky honey racks before looking to see if any bees were still trying to save their honey.

People get frantic when a bee is buzzing around.  They need to know that unless a bee thinks she is in danger they do not want to sting you.  Why? Because she dies afterward.  Just stay still and the bee will move on.  These industrious creatures have more important things to do than go around terrorizing innocent bystanders.  More important things like pollinating plants that make your FOOD.  They don’t do that for us. They are making their own food, but it happens to be a well designed by-product of their work.

So Dad situated the hive and we all went into the house for a visit.  When it was time to go we walked out to check on them and were happy to see they were already hard at work.

As evening fell they headed into the hive for the night and I was anxious to see how they were doing this morning.  All my reading up on bees said to situate the hive facing East or South.  Well, my Dad plopped the hive down facing West.  I suspect after 60-70 years of beekeeping Dad has decided that the bees aren’t really very picky which way their front door faces.  Sure enough, I got out to check on them as soon as possible and here they are starting to wake up and go to work.  D. and I speculate that our bees just get to sleep in later in the morning, but work later in the evening this way.  You know the rush hour traffic is probably avoided with these work hours.

first day beesOne more thing off this Spring’s To Do list! Dad said I need to walk by the hive every day.  I’m not sure if that is just so I can check on them or for them to get used to me or both.  I do know that sitting near them yesterday listening to the hum of busy bees brought back long buried childhood memories of warm, honey sticky days with my Dad and I’m glad he was the one to get my bees off to a good start.

 

Photos by Christel Williams

A little Spring glory

We have one month left before the wedding and life is one big deadline right now.  So instead of subjecting you to more of my complaining about packing, unpacking, organizing, sorting and floor tiling, today I am bringing you a visual of all the beautiful things that are happening here.

Spring is bursting out all over and I save my sanity by spending as much time outdoors as possible.  My photography isn’t great, but I hope you enjoy these anyway.

Please forgive the wonky layout.  I have yet to figure out how to get photos where I want them.

And the gardening begins again!
And the gardening begins again!
These will always be my favorite!
These will always be my favorite!
I went color crazy and planted every color of Impatients everywhere.
I went color crazy and planted every color of Impatients everywhere.
My irises did not get divided in the Fall so they are not as plentiful as usual.
My irises did not get divided in the Fall so they are not as plentiful as usual.
The roses are starting to bloom.
The roses are starting to bloom.
I don't know their name, but have always liked them.
I don’t know their name, but have always liked them.
Wildflowers, weeds, whatever you want to call them, are welcome if they bring some happy yellow with them.
Wildflowers, weeds, whatever you want to call them, are welcome if they bring some happy yellow with them.
Sage in full bloom.
Sage in full bloom.
Lamb's Quarters - I added a few of these to our dinner yesterday.
Lamb’s Quarters – I added a few of these to our dinner yesterday.
Red Clover - Why would you not like this?
Red Clover – Why would you not like this?