Hasta La Vista 2020

Hi Everyone!

Well, we are there. Where I’m pretty sure most of us have been wanting to be since at least May. Kicking 2020 out the door! There are defining moments in history that shape each generation. Those dates in time that everyone has a story about. Good or bad they stay with us forever. 2020 will certainly be one of those historical times.

Yes, we would like for all the problems of 2020 to miraculously fix themselves today, on December 31st. Not gonna happen. I’m going to tell you my plans for 2021 and please feel free to share yours. We can all use some inspiration and good ideas going forward.

A couple of weeks something happened. Nothing earth shaking. Just suddenly this feeling of lightness and hope hit me. Pretty weird after all the stress and anxiety for the whole darn 2020. My brain / spirit seemed to say “Things are not going to be great any time soon, but you don’t have to dwell in the gloom. There is always good to be found, things to laugh about, fun to be had and joy to spread around.”

2020 was all about uncertainity and 2021 will still have some of that (every day has some of that), but we know more now. Covid is not miraculously going away, but we have people getting a vaccine, we know it isn’t going to wipe out the whole human race and treatments are improving. The economy is going to SUCK. Yeah, we aren’t going back to where we were, but we know to keep a close eye on our finances, the government, the banks, and opportunities. We know our countries are going to be in turmoil and people are going to be hurting. People act out when they are hurting and fearful.

Here is what else my spirit heard. “Have Faith that things will get better. Have Hope in the good that still lives. Love without ceasing. Give Grace to everyone and yourself. ” Hard to argue with any of that. So those are my words for 2021. Faith, Hope, Love, Grace. Gotta be better than the Gloom, Doom, Fear, Hate that dominated 2020.

I am moving forward with Faith. Now that the worst of the home repairs/remodel are done I can actually focus on painting something more than walls. Now that our old barn has been sturdied up and the horses have actual stalls, we can focus on finishing my attic studio. I have lots of creative plans that I have already started on and will share as we go along.

Alright, go celebrate the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021…in a socially distanced sort of way. Be safe out there.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!

Hi Everyone,

I am just popping in long enough to wish you all Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! I’m not going to list all the holidays because you can be sure I will forget at least one. Love on someone near you that is struggling in any socially distanced way you can. If you are the one struggling, know that there are places for help. Please search them out and persist. There is light at the end of the troubles.

Whatever you celebrate do it with Faith, Hope, Love and Grace this year!

Christel

Photo by D A V I D S O N L U N A on Unsplash

‘Tis the season

Hi Everyone,

Hope you have been well. I’m sure you have been probably busy.  It’s that time of year.  Since we have minimized the gifting this year my time has been less stressed over the whole Christmas chaos. I even had the mental capacity to face driving down one of the most congested streets in a nearby city to get to the even more congested Costco.  Normally I avoid that area at all costs until mid-January when everyone has returned all the gifts they didn’t like.

I am going to go ahead and wish you all a very Happy Holidays (whichever ones you celebrate) and a Happy New Year.  I need to take a sabbatical for awhile.  Writing this blog has been difficult this year and all the losses and changes have taken a toll.  Even though the art supplies are out and ready to go, I can’t seem to focus enough to make anything right now.  I’m pretty darn bummed about that to be honest.  My brain needs to focus and my heart needs some mending time.

So, until I can regroup, my plan is to bake some cookies, paint the walls in the house, unpack more boxes, love on the people and creatures in my little world.  Hopefully I will be back with some renewed spirit after the first of the year, but I’m going to give myself what time I need.  I have a very bad habit of pushing myself to meet unrealistic, self-imposed deadlines and projects.  If you do that too…stop it, stop it now…it’s not good for you.

Happy Holidays!  Wishing all of us a new and improved 2020!!

Christel

Bits and bobs

Hi Everyone,

To my U.S. readers I hope you have all had a lovely Thanksgiving. Ours came the weekend before when my daughter, son-in-law and grandbaby made it here to celebrate a little early. It was not our best Thanksgiving with my son away, and both my Dad and uncle gone now, but the baby helped provide plenty of joy and laughter.

The rest of the past couple of weeks have been the equivalent of cat wrangling.  My car was in the shop for a month having two recalls fixed. The chimney sweeps have cleaned out our chimneys for the winter. The security company has our security system up and running. D. has been working long hours so I have been doing the critter feed runs by the truck load. Termite inspection is this coming week.  Hopefully most of the house maintenance is about wrapped up.

Crazy me decided that our living room NEEDED to be painted before Christmas. I started Thanksgiving day.  Yesterday I put in 8 full hours of painting. Not smart. Not smart at all.  Under most circumstances 8 hours of painting would easily knock out a room, but the former owners here painted lots of the trim, including two built in bookcases and the fireplace mantel 1980’s dark country blue.  It takes two coats of primer and two coats of the trim paint to cover it up! Ugh! My arm is so tired and sore today. The walls are no where near painted. I am not sure my self imposed deadline is going to happen. We won’t even talk about the ceiling. I had already decided that wasn’t going to happen until after Christmas. I think I will just move on with decorating and work in the painting the best I can before I put myself in the hospital.

Sweetie Pie the cat has proclaimed herself no longer a barn cat, but a pampered sunroom cat.  One of the doors to the sunroom was damaged by the former owners’ dog and it has just enough room for a small cat paw to pry open the door and vice versa. I don’t have it in me to dispute her decision, so I moved her blanket and bed from the barn into the sunroom and now feed Her Majesty there as well.

As if we didn’t have enough mouths to feed, my sister and brother-in-law found nine free goats to add to the two kudzu removal goats we already had working on the family farm.  Ok, they are stinking cute and are doing a grand job of under brushing the land so far.  I think the plan is to move them into the kudzu very soon.  They are much quieter, as efficient or more so than a bulldozer and safer than chemical sprays.

Did I mention last time that I had found my art supplies? Well, I found my paint and got all excited. I was about to bust a seam to paint again. Then I realized that I had paint, but no brushes. Dang! I spent almost an hour trying to find my brushes, but no luck. I pulled out my charcoal and micro pens, but that just didn’t do it for me. In desperation I grabbed a handful of Q-tips! Yes, I did a small painting with Q-tips. Not great, but it kept me from having some bad creative breakdown.  The people who live with me are very thankful for Q-tips now.

I went to bed a couple of nights ago pondering where my paint brushes had disappeared to.  I really wanted to blame the disappearance on the poltergeist that evidently lives in Miss L’s room and takes her stuff on a regular basis. Well, lo and behold, I dreamed about my missing brushes and where they had hidden themselves.  The next morning my first stop was the drawer in my dream and there they were! Joy! Joy! I’m back in business.

It’s time for me to start dragging out the Christmas decorations. Unlike the Christmas crazed 13 year old who lives here, I refuse to decorated before the Turkey Day.  It’s time. The tree is going up in front of the partially painted bay window wall and no one will know the difference when they drive by outside.  Sometimes you just have to give yourself a break and a little grace.

Have a great week!

 

Wintering

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I missed last week.  No super excuse other than I was still digging out of boxes and we were getting ready for a cold spell.  New Readers, my long time readers will tell you that this is my whining season. I am not cold tolerant. You have been warned.

I did spend Halloween with my favorite grandson.  It was a quick (if you consider 4.5 hours quick) drive down, spent the night and back on the road the next day.  We have an annual family get together and of course it was that Saturday. Anyway, my daughter’s neighborhood goes all out for Halloween and we had a great time teaching Buzz how to score some candy.  He figured it out in the end, but got Goldfish crackers instead of candy. He’s a work in progress.

Our family chicken stew (for more info on that very local pot of glory go back into the October archives) was fun and relaxing thanks to one very beautiful Fall day.  Perfect for eating outside and catching up by the fire pit. It was nice to have the new place come with a ready made fire pit!

This week has been COLD, COLD, COLD by Southern standards. Lows in the 20’s don’t normally hit us until January and February.  So D. and I had to spend last week getting the four leggers situated for the cold.  We also got our FOUR chimney flues inspected and luckily one was clean enough to start using.  The rest are getting cleaned this coming week.  We are wood burning folk. No gas logs for us. Thus chimneys must be cleaned every few years.

We also found out that our frost free outdoor faucet is NOT frost free. The dang thing froze up.  Hauling water from the bathtub all the way to the barn in a five gallon bucket is not my idea of winter fun on a 20 degree morning. Then there is the fun of waiting for the water hose to thaw so you can fill the water trough or breaking the ice on the water trough. Yes, I’m officially winter whining.  Eventually there will be a water line to the barn, but it’s a toss up on whether that happens first or the automatic gate opener.  Getting in and out of the car in the cold and rain is not fun either. Whine #2.

The good news is that most of the boxes are out of the dining room…again…for the third time.  Yes, it has been filled three times and three times I have opened and sorted all those boxes.  Some just went upstairs (more on that to come). Now I just have to tackle the ones in the sunroom and pack house.  Lordy.

More good new…I FOUND MY ART SUPPLIES!!.  They have been packed up since January I think. I made a makeshift studio in the newly cleaned out dining room. Here is a photo of the future official studio.  Ain’t it purty!?  Ok, so not yet.  Imagine white bead board walls and built in shelves. That’s where we are heading…after the horses have stalls built in the barn.  Yes, I rank below the horses.  I can’t say much because the pups got this cushy new bed while our bed springs and mattress are on the floor until I get our room remodeled and buy a new bed. The last one broke in the first move of the year.

That’s the news from Lake Wobegone. Oh, wait. Wrong place, but almost as cold. Have a great week and stay warm!

Loading the gypsy wagon

Hi Everyone,

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Boy in red wagon photo credit – Blake Meyer 

Needing sunshine and less stuff

Hi Everyone,

Happy 2019! 

Hopefully this won’t read as delirious as I feel right now. My day started at 2:30 am today. Why? Because my son had to be at the airport (two hours away) by 5:30 am. Once again he is off to places tropical to spend the winter. At least this year he will only be one time zone difference instead of four!


Did you have exciting New Year celebrations or like us, stayed home? D. brought in the new year with a nasty cold and we have had, what feels like, endless cold rain. New Year’s Day was a rare, dry, warm day that allowed us to get outside and get some cleaning up of muddy horses, stinky chicken coop and the leftover ruins of the garden. The next day…the rain came back and is still going. Yuck. The mud.

So how are those goals and resolutions going three days into 2019? If you need some motivation, I’m going to put in a shameless plug for my daughter’s podcast, Find Reality. I just finished listening to her New Year’s Day episode and she has some good realistic tips for sticking to your goals. Tell her that her Momma sent you. 

Normally I am a resolution setter every year and I often don’t follow through on my goals either because they are just too much. This year I have one big one that I REALLY need/ have to achieve and one that isn’t too crazy. The easy one is to join one or two artist groups. Ideally one regional one and one national one. I have a national one in mind, but am open to suggestions if any of you know of some good ones. I want to up my game and start entering competitions/shows. 


I finished this drawing over the holidays and am finally pleased with the outcome of some experimentation that was depressing me for awhile. Also this week I took on another commission. I had planned to NOT do any commissions at all this year, but this one will be a good challenge. Since I have to get it finished by the end of February due to the impending arrival of my first grandbaby in March, I can’t let myself get bogged down in the overthinking that plagues me sometimes. 

The biggie goal is to clean out one of the THREE (long story and most of the stuff came to us when D.’s sister died) storage units. If you have been keeping up on here you know we are planning a new house and a move in the near future. Six years ago I sold the four bedroom house that I raised my kids in. The buyers only gave me a month to move and at that time rentals were scarce and I knew I wasn’t going to buy anything yet. Things got down to the wire and I wound up stuffing the majority of the “stuff” in storage. I AM NOT moving all that “stuff” again! 

Here’s my plan, and you get to help keep me on track…the 30 day minimalist challenge. Whatever the date is, I have to part with that many things. For example, today is January 3 so I have to find three things to donate, trash or sell. They have to leave my life! Now I know that there are days that I am not going to have time to clean out stuff. Mine is going to be more of a weekly plan. This week I am supposed to declutter 21 items. On New Year’s Eve I went to the storage unit and filled up my car with boxes. Ok, I cheated a little because I already had one box labeled Yard Sale that contained 12 items. Now I gave up yard sales when my friend Wendy moved away. A yard sale just wouldn’t be any fun without her or her husband’s boat she sold at one of our yard sales…without completely clearing it with him!

As of today, January 3, I have a box of 34 items ready to donate, three items to sell and a box of trash cleaned out. Some of the “trash” is actually a large bag of my son’s artwork from preschool to high school. No I’m not heartless. I have hung on to it for 20 YEARS. But now he was here with me and we sat down and looked through it together. We laughed about his abstract phase and I kept his little hand prints as well as took a few pictures of some pieces. The rest just had to go. 


So, what is overage from this week (37-21=16) will carry over to next week for the days I might not get anything cleaned out. By January 31 I should have cleaned out 496 items! Sounds like a lot, but trust me, there is a long, long way to go. You can get an amazing amount of stuff in a 10 x 16 storage unit. Since I write this blog each week I will report my progress here and possibly on Instagram. Before December 31, 2019 I WILL HAVE one, if not a second, storage unit cleaned out. We will be keeping one of the three to store boxes that we plan to move. In this process I am already boxing items we don’t HAVE to have right now such as decorative items, canning jars or art supplies I can’t use until I have a studio. 

Friends, this girl is pooped and it’s not even noon yet. I need to accomplish a few more things before I work in a nap. Have a great first week of 2019!

Sick and soggy

Hi Everyone,

Happy Holidays! I hope your holidays have been lovely this year. Mine was vastly better than 2017. Last year was enormously stressful and unorganized. I was probably dealing with some depression as well with neither of my kids being home for Christmas. This year I was organized, had more energy, both kids and my son-in-law were here, decorating happened, goodies got made, all without any major stress or anxiety. So, so much better! I was able to enjoy Christmas instead of dread and endure it. I did boatloads of cooking and was exhausted after it was all over, but it was the good exhaustion.

I had not planned to do a blog post this week, but I am stuck inside today on a dreary, super rainy day with a sick husband and no motivation for much more than staying warm and dry next to the wood stove. Miss L. is bored because she has zoomed through at least 5, yes FIVE, books since her Christmas vacation started and is now out of books to read. Maybe we will try to row the ark to the library tomorrow so she can survive a few more days until school starts back. 

Many times on this blog I have written about how hard winter is for me. Grey days and long, cold nights put me in a serious funk. Each year I try different ways to cheer myself up. I’m doing better so far this year. I still have the worst months of January, February and March to go though and this never ending cold rain is a definite challenge. In case you are like me, here are some things that seem to be helping: 1) candles – following the Danish hygge, I have been lighting candles in the living room and kitchen when the gloom starts getting to me. 2) hot chocolate and tea with a good book, movie or podcast to take my mind off the cold. 3) hobbies – lots of knitting and DRAWING (here is a detail of my almost finished most recent art) in my downtime. 4) fruit – citrus especially seems to help. 5) exercise – I’m trying for at least three times a week of 20-30 minutes but am not beating myself up if I don’t get all of it in. I am also not over doing. My joints now tell me when to stop. 


Basically I am trying to enjoy this season of downtime instead of wishing for the busy warm months. Oh, color. I did something that I have said for years that I was going to do. I added some purple streaks in my hair. There is added color in my wardrobe as well. Some bright shirts and my new Christmas boots that replaced my holey, boring brown ones. They look so cheerful in the muddy mess that is our yard right now. 


I do have a pot of homemade spaghetti sauce on the stove right now that uses our tomatoes from the summer’s garden. We have had too many Christmas goodies and need to get back to our healthy food. I’m convinced that is why D. is sick and my fingers hurt. If you have arthritis, give up or cut WAY back on the sugar. You will be amazed how much better you feel. I think the remaining candy is going in the freezer for later winter treats. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.

That about wraps up this weird between time before a fresh new year begins. Rest up and enjoy the remainder of 2018 and I will see you in 2019!

Snow = mud

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are well and for those that had the snow bomb dropped on them, I hope you have shoveled your way out. In a few hours I am going to attempt freedom with my little car.

We survived the storm pretty well. I suspect we ended with 16-18 inches of snow, but we had so much wind that it was hard to tell. Some flat areas had 11 inches but we also had drifts that were 24+ inches. Higher than the tops of my tall rubber boots. Great fun when walking the dogs. Not!  The power stayed on and we were cozy and well fed. Maybe too well fed with all the snowmaggedon goodies I had made. 


The animals were some comic relief. D. left the horses and donkey in the barn Saturday night so they would be out of the worst of the storm. Midday on Sunday he let them out so he could clean and restock their food and hay. I was watching as they came from behind the barn, trotting through the snow, tossing their manes. Then they stopped, looked around, looked at each other, then turned in unison and trotted back to the barn. 

The chickens were just as bad or worse. D. opened their house door when he let the horses out. Five hens poked their heads out the door and refused to come out…FOR THREE DAYS! They would make a quick run for water and the bread crumbs that I tried to bribe them out with, then hightail it right back in the house. The only creature around here that doesn’t seem to have an issue with snow is fat Sweetie Pie. She put on her winter blubber last month and has been happily playing in the snow. Sweetie Pie loves her life in every season. 

Sunday was the perfect snow day. With careful planning we only had to take care of the animals, then we were free to read, sleep, watch TV, eat, while staying cozy next to the wood stove. It was wonderful! Monday we knew school would be out but there were daily chores to do and D. got the truck out and went to work. I had time to start a new drawing. Tuesday, no school, chores, food is getting low. Wednesday, no school, Danny’s day off but Miss L. and I were getting cabin fever so we required a trip to the Dollar General to see other human beings. Today, Thursday, NO SCHOOL. Miss L. is running out of reading material and I’m running out of ways to keep her busy. We are getting my car out today if I have to hitch it to a horse! 


Oh yeah, all that lovely snow is slowly turning to MUD. Lots and lots of mud. Muddy horses and donkey. Muddy dog prints and boot prints on the floor. Constant mopping. Soon there will be muddy chickens. Sweetie Pie is the only one who manages to stay pristine. Rain starts tomorrow. The mud will last until about July. 


So next week begins the influx of family for Christmas. If you don’t hear from me it’s because I’m cooking and cleaning like a wild woman so I can have some quality time with my kids while they are here. Let’s just say there is a good chance I won’t be back until the first week of January 2019! 

Stay safe, warm and have a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year!

Fixed. Ready. Waiting.

Hi Everyone!

Hope you are well. I’m moving slow today. Last night was another one of THOSE nights where I slept fine at the beginning, was awake in the middle, fell asleep again just in time to have to get up and start my day. Ugh. I’m beginning to think my sleep may be affected by incoming weather fronts just like my sinuses. A dull sinus headache started during the sleepless hours and I know there is a big winter weather front heading our way. I should come up with some sort of weather and moon chart to track this stuff. I will add that to my next lifetime To Do list. It’s not very likely to make it on this one.

This week has been focused on that big weather event heading our way. Lots of wood gathering and splitting (D. and Miss L. handle most of that) for heat and possible power outage.  We all have been taking steps to make sure the animals have warm places and unfrozen water. I have been making sure to keep plenty of sugar water out for the bees so they can get through what’s coming. I have the hives insulated for the storm and the 11 degree night on Monday. They won’t be showing up in Better Homes & Gardens but it’s done. The chickens will either be getting a complete coop clean out or a new layer of bedding depending on my time and energy. They have finally begun to pull out of molting season and need some extra nutrition. If you have never seen chickens during molting, just imagine semi naked hens and feathers everywhere. Not a chicken’s most handsome time of the year. 


I have also been planning winter condition meals. Food that can be heated on our wood stove should the power go out. There will be a big pot of veggie soup ready and I thought some oatmeal dark chocolate chip cookies would be in order as well. Personally I LOVE a good snow day (no more than two though) where, after the animals are taken care of, there isn’t much to be done except settle in with a good book, hot chocolate (I made some of that too) and cookies. Fabulous! 


Most of the Christmas shopping is done and I plan to wrap gifts this weekend. I’m starting on a certain baby shower plan as well and that is on the weekend To Do list. I have not been showing any artwork lately, but I am getting some done. There is some experimenting going on and that is an awkward stage sort of like adolescence so I’m kind of embarrassed to throw it out in the world yet. Hopefully something more refined will begin to show up soon and then I will add them back into these posts.

If you have been reading here for awhile you might remember that back in May I made it a goal to start fixing some much loved and often used items. Anyway, to finally update you on my progress, I have fixed the stone necklace in the first post, repaired a necklace that my bonus daughter brought me back from Italy that had a broken clasp, cleaned out a pile of old jewelry and replaced some buttons on several garments. After a few decades of being missing, my charm bracelet from high school reappeared. Since it went missing before I could add many charms to it, I am slowly adding some now as I find bits and pieces that hold memories for me such as one of the earrings I wore when D. and I got married. The other was lost and the survivor was just hanging out in my jewelry box. 


Two major practical fixes happened this week. The binder of Favorite Recipes finally got reorganized! Years ago I got tired of trying to remember what cookbook those favorite recipes resided in and started writing them down or cutting and pasting them into a binder. The binder has been a hot mess for several years and it was beginning to take me almost as long to find them in the binder as it did in the cookbooks. Thanks to winter (I’m trying to be positive about this season) I have a couple of unclaimed hours most evenings right now and made use of one of them to fix the binder. Eventually I plan to make a nice cover for it, but for now it is reorganized and no longer stressing me out. 


My other major fix was my fallen apart and out of control password book. Yes, I write them down. My memory cannot hold them and yes, I realize that if the book falls into the wrong hands our life will be a total mess for a long time. It’s either waste hours of my time trying to figure out passwords or put them in a book. I do not trust online password storage so don’t even mention it. I have a few hiding places that even the most determined robber would have to be very brave to enter. So, I am almost finished with categorizing the current passwords and eliminating the defunct ones. I am feeling very accomplished and organized right now! 


So yours truly has been a busy girl. Next week I will update you on our first winter snow and how we all fared.

Stay safe  and warm out there. Fix a few things then give yourself a big pat on the back!