Eggs, eggs, eggs

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a great week. It’s hard to believe we are almost done with January. Of course the dreaded February is coming. I have a tough time with February and even though it is our shortest month, it always seems like 90 days long to me. I have lots of things in the works or in the planning stage so I hope that will keep my mind off the gloomy winter days.

I’m going to keep this short today because I have a road trip to see my daughter and son-in-law this weekend and haven’t even started packing. Oh yeah, the chicken coop has to be cleaned too before I can go. 

Speaking of chickens, that leads right into what I’m working on now. My 2018 plan is to work on one theme pretty much until I’m sick of it and ready for a new one. After several years now of trial, error (lots of those) and experimenting, I have settled on concentrating on three areas that I never get tired of. Drawing, painting and textiles. I will go into these more as I get through the year.

Right now I am working on eggs! Why eggs, you ask?  Well, because I have always loved the simple shape, light does interesting things to them, there is symbolism involved and last but not least, thanks to our chickens, I have a steady supply. 

So far, I have done this drawing. Sometimes the drawings will be in color pencil, sometimes just charcoal or graphite. I already have my next egg drawing in the planning stage. I’m waiting to see if this one is finished yet.


This painting is still a work in progress. The first picture is the beginning stage and the second is where I am with it now. I had hoped to finish it this week but life got in the way. Hopefully next week I can finish it before I start on another commission piece. I’m pleased so far. I like the light and the graphic lines of the wire egg basket.



I will hopefully have pictures from our trip next week. We have some fun things planned. For now, I hope you have a productive week. I’m going to get to work. 

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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.

Christmas crazy

HI Everyone! 

I hope you had a lovely week. Once again ours was busy and involved moving furniture and boxes. I keep telling myself it WILL end eventually. My back is sore and stiff from three days of moving stuff. I should have lost weight and look like a body builder by now!

I’m not sure I have much to report that is news worthy or all that interesting, but for the sake of consistency I will fill you in.  

We got the Christmas tree up and all was good until two days ago. We now have a half lit tree (no alcohol was involved). My other lights are in our storage unit. I was planning to go get them today but now it is SNOWING and I lost all motivation for leaving my cozy wood stove. 


Did I mention it is SNOWING? I’m one of those weird people who like snow. I don’t like winter, but I do like snow. It’s even better when there is a ski slope under my feet! I’m hoping these two days of snow will bring in some Christmas spirit. It has been MIA and I am alternating between Scrooge and Grinch. I haven’t purchased the first gift yet and now the Christmas stress is setting in.  Ok, I know the economy supposedly would crash without the December buying frenzy, but I really think most people would enjoy the holiday sooooo much more without all the gifting pressure.  I like the decorations, limited amounts of Christmas music, a hefty amount of Christmas goodies and visiting with family and friends, but I hate to shop. I especially hate to shop for gifts that I know people don’t really need or often want just to be giving a gift. I don’t want to receive something I don’t need or want just to be given a gift.  I am then stuck with gift guilt because I either keep it and it takes up valuable space or I give it away and then live in fear that the person who gave it to me will ask about it. I’m a terrible liar and then have to confess. LIFE SHOULD NOT BE THIS COMPLICATED! 

Miss L. and I are making gifts for the people on her Christmas list and I do enjoy that.  She is learning how to sew and seems to be enjoying it most of the time (the machine sewing is good, but she is not into hand sewing). We have had a few pretty comical moments during our marathon sewing sessions. We have had two machines going at once and the time I accidentally stepped on her pedal could have been a bad moment, but luckily it left us in laughing stitches instead of emergency room stitches!  I know that many people don’t like or appreciate handmade gifts, but I personally think they are the best. Someone really cares about you if they make you something and often the supplies that go into them actually cost more than store bought. I have to wait until after Christmas to show you our projects.

I am going to wrap (pun intended) up for today because there is a good chance the school will call for us to get the kids out early due to the snow and I need to be set up for more sewing when Miss L. gets home. Hopefully I will have more Christmas spirit and shopping done by next week.

Keep southern California in your prayers. Those folks are in a bad situation. 

Another rabbit hole

Hi Everyone,

I’m squeezing this in just before my self imposed deadline is up. I try to get my posts done before Saturday. It’s 9:17 pm on Friday night and everyone has gone to bed except me.

So I’m feeling pretty good about this week. I finished and delivered my commissioned piece. You will have to wait until after Christmas to see it though. I had a pretty good work week including meeting a tight deadline. The laundry is caught up. The house is in pretty good shape. I have had enough down time to keep me sane. Yep, best week in a LONG time. 

I am planning a series of drawings and paintings and other stuff now that the commission is done. I’m just in the gathering stage right now so nothing to show yet.

Along with my sock knitting I decided to take on another project for my evening lazy hour or two when I can get it. I found a pile of partially pieced quilt sections that we think were started by D’s grandmother and want to see if I can put them together. There were two parts that were almost sewn together so I started by finishing them. Oh please don’t judge. I have never hand pieced before and they have not been ironed yet.


Then I tried to figure out what the block design was. I looked at pattern blocks on Pinterest  until my eyes bled and could not figure it out! So I turned to Facebook. You know there is a group for EVERYTHING on Facebook so I found a quilting group that has about 52 THOUSAND members. Seriously! Surely they would know what it was. I gave them the same photo as here and in just about 2 minutes a lady told me it is a star pattern and how to put it together. From there I did some star pattern research and it looks to be a Tribute Star pattern.

Yes, I have a habit of falling into rabbit holes on a fairly regular basis. But look at all the cool, weird stuff I chase down. 

Don’t look for the finished product to show up any time soon. I am hand piecing these babies (I can’t keep my sewing machine out all the time and will be too tired to sew if I have to drag it out every night) and there are 37 sections which will eventually make 9.5 Tribute Stars. I’m assuming the half is in case of disaster or I’m missing a half, but I can sort of visualize 3 rows of 3 stars to eventually make a quilt. Do NOT hold your breath waiting to see these. It’s gonna take awhile.

That’s all from The House of Weird this week. Go make something! 

Glorious Saturday 

Hi Everyone!

I have no idea why I missed writing this post yesterday other than I was enjoying the fine art of lollygagging through my Friday. I survived a high level deadline for a job on Wednesday, a day full of deliveries Thursday and only had one low level deadline yesterday that evidently numbed my brain.

Today is the first Saturday in MONTHS that I have been able to stay home and do neglected domestic stuff and work on my commission and just enjoy a no deadline day. Glorious!

I think I am almost done with my commissioned drawing. I need to just spend a few days looking at it and seeing if there are any touch ups to do. I can’t show you the whole thing but here is a little sneak preview. 


I still have a logo to do for my daughter. I’m so glad she is distracted by her anatomy class right now and not needing the logo right away. The hours and hours I have spent on the computer the past few months seem to have made me reluctant to focus on technical creativity. Normally I enjoy creating logos but it requires a long time on a computer. I get a little squeamish thinking about it at the moment. 

What I am looking forward to is soon having the time to start work on some projects that have been percolating in my head for a VERY LONG time. I’m sure you have had the experience of thinking about something you want to do, a place you want to go or a needed solution to problem and out of the blue comes the exact “thing” you needed. Call it what you will, God at work or the universe, but it happens often and it has happened to me.

Without the long explanation that I will probably cover in the future, I have a fascination with textile art. In the past couple of years I have also developed a fascination with quilts, especially art quilts. For most of my adult life I had a sewing machine that only sewed a straight stitch…when it felt like it and too many other things on my plate to really spend the time or money working with fabric. 

Take a wild guess at what I have wound up with during all this cleaning out of the husband’s family stuff. Better yet let me show you just a drop in the bucket. 


I now have boxes and boxes of supplies to work with. Hobby Lobby may not have the inventory that I do. I’m pretty sure I am being told that it is time for me to get to work! There will be a learning curve and I have no idea where this is going but I’m itching to get started.  No, I’m not going to give up the drawing and painting. Somehow I think it is all going to work together but we will have to wait and see how. I have been playing with ideas for years. 

That’s it for this week. I had planned to spend some time cleaning a lovely antique piece that is moving in here but it’s a little damp and windy today for me to take that on. Miss L. is away for the weekend visiting friends and making up shoe boxes for Samaritan’s Purse. I told her I was going to work on reorganizing her room while she is gone. There is chili to make for dinner. D. is heading out to the woods this afternoon for some time in his deer stand. Not a bad Saturday at all!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! 

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

Miss L. and life at a snail’s pace

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are having a great week.  Oh, how I would love to tell you that we have made marvelous strides toward at least one goal, but, alas, it has not happened.  Sigh.

We ARE making progress, but it is excruciatingly slow.  Slow, like watching grass grow, as a snail crawl, molasses pour, banks do their job.  Sigh.

I will not name names, but there is one very large bank that I MUST deal with in all this and evidently their faxes, email, phone and PERSONNEL systems do not work or communicate with each other.  I am losing count of how many times I had had to fax the same paperwork to the same number only to have them tell me they have no record of it.  I’m pretty sure that is the definition of insanity. I have quit praying to God for patience because when I do He sends me more paperwork from this sorry excuse for a bank. Ok, rant over.  Moving on.

I know that many of my readers check in here to check on Miss L. so I thought I would give you a brief update.  I want to protect her privacy so I limit what I put out there in cyberworld.  I’m sure you can understand that considering not only her situation, but the dark side of our world.

Miss L. is doing great!  I checked in with her homeroom teacher (who she really likes) and I got a lovely report.  Her grades are still excellent.  Her reading score is off the charts.  She is participating in class and is making friends.  Don’t tell her, but I love sitting in the car line and seeing her talking with friends and not paying any attention as to whether I am there or not.

She is playing soccer.  None of us have been overly impressed by the soccer organization at the moment, but it’s fresh air and exercise so we will finish the season and re-evaluate afterwards.  Miss L. has also gained some healthy weight.  D. and I are borderline health nuts who cook at home 95% of the time and rarely eat much junk food (ice cream being the regular exception).  At first she resisted eating anything she had not tried before,  but now gives new food a try (that’s all we ask, is that she try it) and most of the time finishes a plateful.  When we went clothes shopping I gave her the choice of a tried and true fast food restaurant or an unknown entity…Greek food.  SHE CHOSE GREEK FOOD and really liked it!

Miss L. is now a regular at our church Youth group meetings and started singing with the Youth choir last week.  She loves to sing and I think she will love this group.  Ms. Jenny had ordered 25 sets  of music for the new year and Miss L. made the 26th member so there will be more music ordered.  I raised my two kids at this church and in this Youth group and even though it is a 45 minute drive for us each way, I know the huge amount of love and support that surrounds each young person involved in this group and it will be worth the time for Miss L.

Next week we start with doctor visits.  After two months of agonizing attempts to get her health insurance that is finally done and I have vision, dental and regular doctor checkups lined up.  I also have grief counseling scheduled for her with Hospice.  With all the enormous changes that have occurred in her life in the last three months I am amazed at her strength.  Yes, she has times when it all gets to her, but overall she has handled it very well and we want her to have an outlet and knowledge of how to handle what will be a long process.

Probably the biggest adjustment any of us have had to make is just getting to know each other and living in the same house.  Although we all saw each other several times each year (for me it started about 5 years ago, of course D. all Miss L.’s life) that is NOT the same as every day.  D. and I are fairly old school parents who think kids need rules and responsibilities.  I’m not sure how many rules Miss L. had on a regular basis, but I suspect not many and very few responsibilities.  There have been a few “adjustment” moments for all of us as the settling into new roles has occurred.

Right off the bat, Miss L. had to take regular responsibility for Dinah (her dog) and Sweetie Pie (her cat).  We already had several critter mouths of our own to feed.  Dinah had always been an outside dog.  I have no idea how that tiny fluff ball survived three years outside, but she very likely would not survive outside up here with the high level of predators that would consider Dinah a snack.  So, I taught Miss L. how to house train a dog.  Every two hours she had to take fluffy butt outside whether either of them wanted to go or not.  Fast forward two months and Dinah is pretty reliably house trained. If there is an accident now it is human error, not canine error.

Miss L. gives Sweetie Pie the cat her daily food, water and snuggles AND she has discovered that she enjoys feeding the horses.  Most days now she helps D. get the three pasture ornaments fed.  At the very beginning of her days with us, Miss L. informed us that she has a bird phobia.  Even though she will not get very close to them, occasionally she will even help feed the chickens.  She also gets to clean her room each week, keep up with all her school papers, help with all the house chores and has added bean picking to her resume.  We will be working on cooking this winter.

That’s the update on life in Crazyville right now.  Miss L. is the easy part.  The bank…not so much.

I hope your week will be slow in a good way! Until next week…

Alex Blăjan

Stuff

Hi Everyone!

I hope you have had an excellent week.  We are still thinking of all those folks in Texas cleaning up from Hurricane Harvey and now are watching Hurricane Irma starting to roll in.  Both of my kids are at the coast and we are putting together supplies here in case we need to have another evacuation hurricane party like we did last year during Matthew.  Mother Nature does not cooperate with life plans and I feel for all the people who are trying to decide what moves to make to protect lives and property.

Once again I can’t say that this week has included much artwork or creativity for that matter.  I did ship a print to Australia yesterday.  That was fun.  Guess I’m officially an international artist now (I hope you heard the chuckle I made typing that).

What I have been doing is sorting through yet more and more boxes from my SIL’s estate.  Much of it also comes from my husband’s Mother and his grandparents and even great-grandparents.  Where probably 75% has been general current clothes and household items the other 25% has been some vintage and antiques items that have been interesting to find.  I thought I would include some photos of what is currently laying around my house as we decide what to do with all of this STUFF.

I would hate for you to miss out on my other pile of STUFF…the peas that are begging to be shelled and canned.  This may be the first year EVER that I have looked forward to winter!

IMG-4838

Wishing you a great week.  Stay safe those of you on the East coast.  We will have you in our prayers.

Life has gone to the dogs!

Hi Everyone!

Hope your August is off to a great start. It’s hard to believe that school will be starting soon and summer will be over.

I got a quick visit from my son this week and his new puppy, Rainey. What a cutie and he is just as laid back about life as Arden is. 


This week has been all about dog training. My dog, Kato, has become a Master Trainer over the year.  He has managed to turn my fearful other dog, Odie, into an almost well adjusted dog.  Kato has taught both of my daughter’s dogs a good dose of social skills in the limited time they have visited and he taught Rainey the fine art of tug this week. Kato is also Master Tugger and never loses that game. Kato lives for the tug!


During all the dog chaos I decided we should go ahead and bring Miss L’s dog, Dinah, into the mix.  Odie does not easily make friends and has had difficulty dealing with small dogs in particular. Now why would I do this you ask?  I have learned that when Odie is overwhelmed with new people and/or dogs he just gives up his bravado and hunkers down to watch the insanity around him.  Dinah is too small to continue living outside, especially out here where she would be considered a snack for some of the wildlife. 

Like most small dogs, Dinah makes up with attitude what she lacks in size.  After three days of being inside with two big dogs she has essentially convinced them she is a force to be reckoned with. Though she is slowly warming up to them, all she has to do is show her little teeth and both dogs retreat to the safety of the sofa.  This morning though, she seems to be allowing Kato to be in her personal space more and is taking some interest in playing with him. Hopefully in about a month I can post a picture of all three dogs happily snuggled on the sofa. Of course, I will need to find a new place to sit. Now if we can get her properly house trained. Miss L is learning all about doggy parenthood and the responsibility that is involved in proper care and training of a pet. 

Other than visiting with my son, lots of home cooking while he was here, and wall to wall dogs, I managed to finish the commissioned drawing of the barn. All done and delivered to its new home!  This is one of THE MOST DETAILED drawings I have ever done. If you have seen my work in the past you know that is saying a lot. 


My clients wanted to have the details of the old construction and the old boards plus some of the surroundings. The finished size was 16″ x 20″. I’m very surprised it did not take me longer. I gave up trying to keep up with hours. 

Since I do not have much space right now to work, I think I am going to concentrate on drawings but want to add some color without dragging out lots of paint. Some experimentation is in order I believe. 

The upcoming week may very well turn into another crazy, on the road week. I am supposed to be getting some of he legal paperwork I need and there is school shopping and soccer sign ups to do.  Hopefully I will get to check in but forgive me if it doesn’t happen.

Have an awesome week!