Spring meet Summer

Hi Everyone,

Wow, I’m so sorry about missing last week’s post. The week was a total collision of Spring into Summer in a most chaotic way!

It started on Sunday with a call from my son letting me know he was coming to stay for a few days. My son is not a planner so the standing rule is that I require 4 hours notice before he shows up so I can at least arrange to have enough food.  He gave me exactly 4 hours!

Monday was a major garden day and since he was here I put the boy to work. Both of my kids live several hours away and I don’t get to see them often so when I do there are things that go undone so I can enjoy the time I have with them. Our afternoon was spent sitting in the front yard watching horses and discussing life and his future plans. Then it was start dinner and take Miss L to an appointment. By the time we got back it was late and evening chore time.

Tuesday…the boy (young man who turns 23 in four days) took off to get some gear for his next adventure and I frantically tried to get some work done before I had to be at school for Miss L’s Awards Day.  We knew she would be getting the Perfect Attendance award and the Principal’s Award (all A’s, all year!), but she also walked away with… (1) The Good Egg Award, given by the Guidance counselor to one girl and one boy in each grade for their great attitude, helpfulness, etc.  (2) The Teacher’s Choice award given by the grade level teachers for the same reasons as the Good Egg Award (3) and she received The Golden Pincushion Award from the Life Skills teacher for her proficiency and creativity in sewing. For my new readers who haven’t read Miss L’s backstory, her Mother died last June and her ENTIRE world changed overnight when she had to leave her home, community, church and school to come live with us.  School is a major barometer to how well a child is coping with trauma and I cannot begin to tell you how happy and relieved D. and I are to know she is doing so well. I might have shed a few tears on my way home.

Tuesday continued…ran home to start dinner (why do people have to eat every single day??), then back to school to pick up Miss L. (Field day was after awards), then the hour drive (we live an hour from EVERYTHING) to the orthodontist as she starts the braces process. Back home about 7 pm, eat dinner, chores, collapse.

Wednesday is normally D’s day off, but since he would be taking off early on Thursday (more to come on that) he worked half the day.  I think I have mentally blocked most of Wednesday but I remember it being packed full of work, both income related and farm related and once again collapsing into bed.

Thursday…where to begin? The boy left in the morning for his Go West Young Man adventure. As of yesterday he was in Colorado and there are plans to visit Wyoming and Montana before heading back East. There is mountain climbing involved but it’s best for this Mom not to dwell on that too much. 

Right after he left I went to start a load of clothes for Miss L’s upcoming trip to visit friends and go to Vacation Bible School at her old church. Guess what? No water. We have a bad well and have to be very careful of our usage. One day there will be a new one drilled. Anyway, I had to call D. to come home and restart the pump while I had a mild anxiety attack and said ugly things to the well.  Why? That was the night that my bonus daughter was graduating from high school and I really needed a shower! This was about 9 am. Miss L was getting out of school at 11:30, all animal related chores had to be done early and we had to be dressed and in the car by 4:30 to make the, you guessed it, hour + drive to the high school. 

D. got the pump started, the slightly wet clothes would have to wait and he went back to work. At 11:15 as I was heading to pick up the girl, D. calls me and says, “we are getting a donkey today.” What the…? We had been promised a free donkey from the owner of the company D. works for because he keeps them to guard his cattle but evidently doesn’t geld any of the jacks and has too many each Spring.  Since we had taken on a trainee horse recently we had hoped that his boss might forget the whole donkey thing this year and we could revisit it next year. But nooooooo!


I picked up Miss L, got home, still no water!  Then in rolled D. with Spark Plug the donkey. SP is wild, never handled. Lots of trailer maneuvering through the pasture, strategic round pen door set up to prevent wild donkey escapes, etc.  About an hour of donkey time and then there was just enough water to fill up the water bucket for SP before it stopped again.  1:00 pm and I am especially dirty and sweaty now. Lunch, chores, D. is back from work (you know his boss needed to shed some donkeys when he let D. use the company truck, trailer and company time to bring SP home) and we are praying for the well to have water. It did. Just enough for D. and I to get presentable for Miss G.’s graduation. We saw her graduate (she also won two awards and a scholarship) then had dinner with all the family and friends and did not get home until after 11:00 pm.


Friday… Miss L gets to sleep in now that school is out. D. and I do not and we are close to the walking dead at this point. Do we get to have a relaxing Friday evening after a full day of work? No. Hay has been been cut. As soon as D. gets off work at 5:00 we take truck, trailer, Miss L and D’s co-worker, George to pick up hay.  Two hundred and twenty four bales later, stacked in the barn, George (who still enjoyed his Friday night beer while picking up hay and was a little wobbly when done) taken home, all critters and humans fed, chickens secured in their house, D and I crawled our weary selves in the bed. 


Saturday and Sunday were not much better, but now that we are officially into Summer (according to our personal time frame) things should even out until the harvest, canning, get ready for winter crazy. I am blocking those thoughts for now. D and I celebrated our second anniversary yesterday and hope to have a nice meal in a nice restaurant tomorrow evening and pat ourselves on surviving the past year!

I hope your Spring to Summer transition goes much smoother than ours. Have a great week!

Oh, oh, oh… Here are the portraits that I have been promising to post FOREVER!

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Mother Nature always wins

Hi Everyone,

How is your week so far? I hope that wherever you are, you are safe, comfortable and dry. I don’t watch much in the way of news anymore, but what I have seen has been full of the power of Mother Nature!

Hurricane season has started with the first tropical storm coming up through the Gulf, other places have been flooded and then there is Hawaii. I have been strangely fascinated with the volcano eruption to the point I check on it daily. To paraphrase one local, it is both sad and beautiful at the same time. 

In our little corner of the world we have also been dealing with Mother Nature. Saturday morning was traumatic. D. went to feed the horses and chickens while I was walking the mutts. When he reached the chicken run he faced the horror of several dead chickens. Evidently raccoons found a weak spot in the chicken fortress. Somehow we had some survivors, but our favorite girls were gone. It was just awful. 

I spent the morning yanking weeds (my tried and true way of working out big, bad emotions) and sobbing over our girls. I cursed raccoons and everything else that constantly tries to eat our chickens. It’s a LONG list. Everything likes chicken. After three hours of this I had exhausted myself, gotten my herb bed in much better shape AND resigned myself that this is nature’s way. Everything has to eat. 

I sent D. a text to start looking for more chickens. He works part time at a livestock feed company. It’s not hard to find farm animals when you just ask every single customer buying chicken feed. He located someone by the time he got off work and we added 3 Rhode Island Reds to the flock.  Egg production is drastically down. Only two eggs in the past two days when we were getting about eight. Hopefully when our survivors recover and the new girls get settled we will see eggs again. If not, we may have to add more to the flock. We have a new arrangement with our neighbor that we will trade her fresh eggs for some fresh milk from her new cow.  I think I’m channeling Laura Ingalls Wilder again! 

Gertrude is traumatized
The new girls

So we now have upped the fortifications of the chicken coop and run. It has locks like a New York City apartment and everything except concertina wire around the top and bottom. The things we do for eggs around here!

In continuing our struggle to balance our lives with allowing the wildlife theirs, we finally got a permanent fence around our garden. It still needs a few posts and the gate, but it will slow down the annihilation of our veggies. Again, everything has to eat…including us.  Now we just need to get one more door on the feed and tack room to keep the critters out of the horse, chicken and cat food.  We have a big ol’ compost pile. Why can’t they just eat there. Free food, every day, no work (killing or destruction) involved!


You know that you are crazy country people when your Saturday evening fun consists of pulling up chairs to watch the hens work out their new pecking order. Luckily this time there was only some chest pounding, wild flapping and minor head pecking involved. Last time one girl needed some doctoring for a few days until it all settled down. I also had to don my chicken wrestling clothes just in case the new girls couldn’t figure out that the little red house was where they had to sleep…behind all those shiny new locks to frustrate any especially wiley raccoons.

On the art front, I am delivering portraits this evening. I have several works in progress including this sneak peak at something different. Hopefully next week there will be several “reveals”.  


Be safe out there. I don’t think Mother Nature is very happy with us right now.

Watching paint dry

Hi Everyone,

How is your week going? Is it rainy like ours is? Rainy as in you need to build an ark like our is? While I was walking the dogs this morning I noticed that our fire pit area is beginning to take on a jungle like demeanor. It will take more than my wimpy weed eater to return it to some form of order. Considering how far behind we are with our garden it may be a full blown jungle by the time we turn our attention that way. Oh well, I would hate for us to run out of things to do around here.

So what am I up to this week you ask? Exciting stuff. Watching paint dry. Seriously. 

This is going to be short and sweet today, because I am experimenting with some unusual possible canvases that I have a ton of and need to use in some way instead of them going to the landfill.  If you have read this blog for awhile you know I hate to waste anything or add to the already horrible environmental mess we have. If this works hopefully I will do a reveal next week.

The portraits are finished but my schedule and the clients’ schedule have not meshed yet so we wait.

I have also been playing with using some old books for the paper and as a journal. More stuff I am trying to save from the landfill. 


And I am going through my artwork stash to see what can be saved, improved upon or just needs to go…to the landfill. Some things you just can’t save and I have some BAD pieces of art that should never see the light of day again. Most I just need to spend some more time on and they will probably have a future. 


On the home front we cleaned out the fourth barn stall that had become “the storage stall”. Not a job we wanted to do but now that we have the trainee horse, he needed a place to eat that Big Bad Bob couldn’t get to. Walker needs some weight. Bob, not so much.  Other than that it’s been fairly quiet here. Miss L. is down to the last few weeks of school. If it stops raining we will be in high garden mode. I’m almost finished with the process of closing my design business. 

I’m going to go check my paint. I hope you have more excitement this week than I have right now! 

Fixin’ it

Hi Everyone,

I hope life is grand in your world. Now that it’s Spring and the flowers are blooming and the bees are buzzing it’s pretty grand here. 

We have half of our garden planted and half of the garden fence that we have had plans to put up for three years finally underway. The rascally rabbits will have to find food elsewhere soon. I helped D. plant 56 tomato seeds a few weeks ago, then, unbeknownst to me, he planted another 50! We have 84 in the ground with the others on standby in case we lose some of the 84. Every year he is convinced that we are going to lose half of the tomato plants and we NEVER do. Brace yourself for lots of complaining from me in July and August when every waking moment is spent canning tomatoes. Oh, and the whole row of cucumbers that will have to be pickled if they all come up!

Since I can once again only show you a small detail of the two portraits I’m working on I thought I would talk about something I have decided to do and my guess is that I am probably not the only one who needs to do this. Can I get a show of hands from all of you who have items in your life that you love and/or use constantly but either need repairs or tweaking to make them better? I see you. It’s a life thang. 

Now that I have tweaked my work life a little more to have some more time and space, I have decided that at least once a month I am going to fix something that needs fixin’. I have jewelry that I love that needs repairing, my binder of “most used recipes” that needs to function better, a planner that I REALLY need to use but needs some tweaking of the pages to fit my life better, clothes that need mending, etc. 

I have been making do for years and it’s just pitiful. I’m surprised the recipe binder is even still holding together. You would think that I would fix something that I use several times a week! I decided to start with this necklace though instead of the binder first. Why? Because for about a year I have reached to wear it and realized I need to replace the wire that holds it to the leather, then I mentally fuss at myself.  I got this necklace on a trip to Charleston SC with my daughter when she had a job interview and didn’t want to make the long drive alone. On that trip I got to catch up with a friend from college and, along with her daughter we went to a craft fair where I got the necklace. Not only do I really like cool rocks, this one goes with almost everything in my wardrobe and I have good memories attached to it. To me (and I know my taste is a bit quirky) this is one of those William Morse things that is both beautiful and useful. 


Ideally I would like to fix about one item a week but some of them are going to take some time. Just for kicks and grins I will share the before and afters. I suspect this could easily be a year long project. I have been making do for a long time with many things and in the season of self-care that I have declared for 2018 this could cut down on my frustration level. 

Here is a detail (and boy, are these portraits detailed) from one of the portraits (it’s sideways, sorry) and the other is a sketch I did this morning. More self-care. I gave myself 45 glorious minutes out in my garden to just draw and enjoy the sights and sounds before I started my work day. 


 

Have a lovely week and give yourself the time to fix that one darn thing that is driving you nuts. 

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!

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! 

Spring is MIA!

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a great week. We are impatiently waiting on Spring. The calendar says it is here but evidently no one told Mother Nature. We had several inches of snow here Saturday night and today is cold and rainy. Where are my 70 degree days??? My toes want to thaw out and walk around without socks. 

This past week was eventful. Thursday my Mom had a health scare and I stayed with her for a few hours in the ER. Because she had recently had knee surgery there was some concern she might have a blood clot, but everything checked out fine and she returned home. 

Saturday I got to spend some time with high school friends at a beginners quilting class that the quilting guild in my hometown held. One of my friends is quite the quilter and ran the class along with several other members of the guild. I have been dabbling in quilting, but had only learned what I could via YouTube and blogs. It was nice to get some real instruction plus get caught up with old friends.  Here is my soon to be finished table quilt. I hope to get it quilted tonight and the binding done by the end of the week. 

Saturday night…more snow. 

I have started several art projects and have a commission I can finally start. I’ve been playing with some new things and processes and finally should have prints of my egg painting in my Etsy shop this week. 

This week Miss L. is on Spring break so yesterday was a marathon shopping day. She has outgrown most of her spring and summer clothes so we needed to get a jump on replacing them before the weather gets warm…eventually. We wore out and ran out of time before we finished so Thursday will probably be another shopping trip. 

I have big plans for Spring cleaning this weekend and continuing on my kitchen remodel. Honestly, my plans always outweigh my time so we shall see. We also have some Easter plans that we hope include some sunshine and warmer weather. 

Oh yeah, the infamous Bob (our always mischievous horse) got out of his stall and turned over all our newly filled cups of soil for seed planting. Insert eye roll here. Just a normal week in Crazyville.

Have a Happy Easter and/or mischievous April Fool’s Day!!

Shifting

Hi Everyone,

Yes, last week I spoke too soon about getting back on my proper schedule. It pretty much fell apart again last week. My Mom had replacement knee surgery last Wednesday so I went and spent part of the day Thursday at the hospital with her. I managed to get a little work done while there, but not much. Writing these posts takes some concentration and it’s pretty much impossible to concentrate at the hospital. Too much going and coming of the staff, answering the phone for her, moving the table around, etc. It was all good but on Friday I had to play catch up. My plan was to write this post yesterday (I could have over the weekend but I will explain that in a minute) but about 7:00 yesterday morning our power went off. Hummmm, not good. It came back on around 2:30ish, just a few minutes before I had to walk out the door to pick up Miss L.  So much for that big plan!

Finally I’m back and I’m thinking I will try for Tuesdays for a while and see if that works better. It seems that the week picks up speed as the days go by. Monday is always busy, but Tuesdays have a slower quality. We’ll see. Anyway, hope all is well in your world. Spring is beginning to show up and in my opinion that makes everything better!

What has been happening here? It’s all sort of a blur. I am still doing some design & printing for clients but slowly winding down. I am still making a once a week trip out to do deliveries of the printing and that pretty much takes up that whole day each week. The estate is closed but there is some lingering paperwork and errands to finish as well as a situation with my late SIL’s headstone that someone at the VA dropped the ball on and we have to start all over with the paperwork again. I will refrain from subjecting you to my thoughts on that.  Miss L has some regular appointments now that keep me on the road. We are trying to get the garden ready between monsoon weeks. Every year it’s a scramble to get the planting done on time, plus we are now a year behind on some much needed repairs and projects that got put on hold after my SIL died last June. 

I have been trying to do some remodeling of the house and that also came to a screeching halt last Spring. My dear husband could not only happily live without electricity, he could happily live in a cave. His rustic hunting lodge home did not fit my esthetic so even before we got married I started updating his house. Our kitchen was SUPPOSED to have been painted in 2017. I FINALLY got started back on that project this month. 

(I’m so sorry this is sooooo copy heavy. Keep going. There ARE pictures!)

Miss L got to go spend the weekend with friends and I took the opportunity of a kid free weekend to tackle not only some kitchen painting but some sewing as well. I love to paint. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s on a canvas or a wall.  D. says I just like the smell of paint. Ok, maybe but I LOVE to change the whole look and feel of a room with a bucket of paint. My kids used to go visit their Dad, come home and find that I had painted a room or two in their absence. I prefer color, but have had to make some compromises because of Mr. Neutral. All walls at either gray or beige now. Yuck. 

I am drawn to the vintage 1930’s -40’s styles, probably because of my memories of my Grandma’s house.  The colors and shapes just feel warm and cozy to me like a favorite quilt.  I have collected furniture, dishes, etc. over the years without realizing they were all from that era. Now we have acquired more from D’s grandparents.  Several things need a fresh coat of paint and there will be color!  The original colors were reds, greens, blues and yellows and for the most part I am going to stick with their original colors. As I move through the process I will include photos. 

My other project this past weekend was some sewing. Have I mentioned that I hate shopping? Thanks to the fabric stash from D.’s late Mom and even some from his Grandmother, I may never need to visit a clothing store or fabric shop again. Miss L. does not like to shop for clothes either so she may benefit from the fabric stash as well if we can find some fabric she likes. She loves some bright colors but I’m not sure how many of those are in the stash.  Anyway, after years and years of not having real pajamas (I was a single parent for 13 years and many personal things went on the back burner to pay for things like braces and sports equipment.) I found a classic pj pattern and saw several posts of them sewn up by lots of people and liked the style. I managed to get the pattern printed out (love that we can download patterns and print them at home now!) this weekend and I took advantage of yesterdays power outage to get the fabric cut. I will post those whenever I actually get to find time to sew them.


I have two new portrait commissions to start and I started several little paintings. I am not enjoying painting that small. There is a very good chance that these will not get finished. I prefer working bigger so you probably won’t see these again. I did finish my egg painting and will have prints for sale in my Etsy store when I get it scanned. 



I think that’s about it for the House of Weird update this week. I should be back next week same time (fingers crossed).

Have a great week and remember that some times you just have to go with the flow! 

It’s about time

Hi Everyone!

Did you notice that I’m back on schedule this week? Woo hoo! I was determined to get a post in before the weekend starts.

Is my To Do list caught up? Not by a long shot but I’m pretty sure it never will be. I finished a knitting project and a commissioned project this week. I don’t have photos of either of them yet though. I will be starting two small portraits soon. Stay tuned for those. 

In my “spare” time I started a new pair of socks. My sock knitting is getting faster. I started these on Monday and am almost to the heel already. This is just squeezing in 10 or 15 minutes here and there, often waiting on an email or supper to finish cooking or waiting for an appointment. Aren’t these the most beautiful colors. Pure joy to hold and knit!


I did a little of this knitting while waiting Tuesday evening for Miss L to be inducted into the honor society. We are so stinking proud of her especially considering the vast numbers of changes that have occurred in her life this year! 


This week I also pulled out several textile art unfinished objects and plan to finally finish them up and put them in my Etsy store. Here is the first. Not quite finished yet but close. I will post them with a link when I get them finished and in the store. 


Muffin had the last of her shots this week and became the celebrity kitty of the day when she willingly sat on EVERYONE’s shoulders at the veterinarian’s. Here she is with two of the doctors. 

We have had more barn drama this week. Something tried to get to Muffin one night and pulled her kitty condo off the table in the barn. She has a spacious large dog crate for a condo so we suspect a coyote. NOT GOOD. Luckily the door latch held and Muffin was safe but everyone has been a bit jumpy this week especially the horses who were the silent witnesses ensconced in their stalls and none too fond of coyotes either. Last night something knocked over Sweetie Pie’s (Muffin’s Mom) crate.  SP doesn’t get locked in because she has excellent barn cat skills and is safer with an escape plan.  She came cruising out to meet me this morning showing no sign of being terrorized. Whew!! Whatever it was decided that the honey racks stored in the feed room (we still need one more door…SOON) would have to do for a midnight snack. Now I have a sticky mess to clean up. Insert bad words here. 

We have a rare and wonderful unscheduled Saturday tomorrow. I have a goal of starting the kitchen remodel that was supposed to happen LAST Spring. Now if I can get the painting and repairs done BEFORE the garden planting and bee season begin I will be doing a happy dance! To accomplish this I must go dig the paint out of the closet in G’s room before she gets here this evening. Gotta go ya’ll. 

May time be on your side this week!

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