Birthdays and good graces

Hi Everyone,

I took an unindended gardening sabbatical last week. I suddenly was inundated with corn, beans and cucumbers that had to be dealt with. I hope you had a nice week. Some of you are still suffering with horrible heat and wildfires. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Recently I added goat herder to my resume. I can assure you that 20 years ago I did not see that one coming! My Mom has been feeding the Kudzu Eradication Team since my sister and BIL brought them to the farm a couple of years ago. The goats get a little rambunctious at feeding time and kept bumping into her causing brusies and eventually the cranky one got her in the knee and caused a small fracture. Time to get Mom out of the goat pasture. I took over feeding in the mornings and my sister & BIL took over wrangling them back into their pen in the evenings. The same butt head goat (literally) tried to take me out on Saturday. I explained to him that there are people that would like to eat him for supper so if he knows what’s good for him he will keep his horns away from me. DH also made me a pointy whopping stick should Winston the goat forget our little talk.

I am happy to report that after a very long couple of months of doctoring a bad leg injury on Spark Plug The Donkey, he is almost healed up and should be able to return to his pasture and horse buddies in about a week. I’m even happier to report that SP has finally forgiven me for my part in the donkey wrangling/big shot ordeal when the vet first came to visit. He has sort of been “my donkey” since we got him and usually was happy for me to scratch his ears or brush him down. He would walk up to me in the pasture to have some visiting time. BUT NOT SINCE THE VET VISIT. I have not been allowed to touch him (when he wasn’t tied up for medical attention) at all. Finally this week it seems that he has pondered the whole episode and reached the conclusion that DH and I are not actually trying to torture him, but actually help him. Spend any time with a donkey and you will realize that they rarely make a snap decision and seriously hold a grudge. I am now back in his good graces and can resume ear scratches and butt rubs.

July is also birthday month here. DH, myself and DN all have birthdays within 10 days of each other. Our sugar levels are sky high by the 15th of July from all the pies and cakes. We finish up the last one this week then I get to go on a detox diet. Glad the fresh veggies are coming in. That’s what I need to be eating.

DH has a few extra days off for the next couple of months so hopefully we will finish the drywall in the attic, can add an air conditioner and I can start setting up my studio (I’m really being delusional because we have tons of joint compound, paint and trim to do after the drywall). At least with the walls up and an AC in I can work more up there. Right now we can only get in, at best, 3 hours before it gets too hot to work. I have a commissioned piece that I only have maybe an hour left to finish, but the heat is too much. If I can find a place downstairs to set up I will probably bring it down and finish it this week.

Well, sorry it has been another edition of Hoofs, Horns and Veg instead of Pencils, Paint and Paper. I guess if I have to put my favorite hobbies in order it would be art, garden and critters. So sometimes there is some shuffling of priorities. Because of DN’s birthday tomorrow this will have to cover last week and this week’s posts. Hopefully next week I can get back on schedule.

Have a lovely week!

Christel

Farm, Family, Friends…and a little paint

Hi Everyone,

Hope you are well and all is good in your world. I’m slightly late, but squeezing this in finally.

This past week was the first week of summer for us. DN was officially on her first week of summer vacation because she keeps those grades high and only has excused absenses, thus no final exams to take. She did, however, have to finish the driving portion of driver’s ed. Warning for our neighbors, she gets her permit in about a month and a half.

My week has been filled mainly with gardening, yard work and exciting things like a new crown on a tooth and new glasses. I did manage to find a couple of hours to get some sketches and painting in. Nothing I’m ready to show yet, but it’s a much needed start. I pulled out the supplies and set up again in the guest bedroom. Normally as soon as I do that I can count on guests showing up. Not that I don’t want to see them, but it is sort of like Murphy’s Law. Attic work has not happened this week because of hot, dry weather. In other words, put plants in the ground and water, water, water.

Last weekend we successfully got hay in the barn. Anyone with livestock (or spoiled horses) knows just what a relief that is. I really can’t say “we”, because this year the brunt of the work fell on DH and my brother-in-law. My sister, DN and I pitched in where we could, but we got off easier than most years due to a couple of events.

DH and I had most of our potion of the hay round baled by one of my distant cousins. Much easier on older backs! My sister’s and BIL’s llamas don’t eat as much hay as our spoiled horses. I went by my cousin’s house this week to pay him and wound up spending an hour or so catching up on life with him and his wife. I have found out that catching up with family and old friends has definitely been one of the best things about being back home. It has been very hard to keep up with everyone when you have lived away for over 30 years and only got home for occasional visits to the immediate family. Now I miss seeing and catching up with friends where I lived previously. Hopefully I can start rectifing that soon. In the past couple of years I have lost family members and very dear friends in too fast a succession. When the opportunity presents itself for a visit now, I tell my little pea brain that is poking me with a To Do list to finish to just shut up. Time is short and very few chores won’t wait.

On that note, in a couple of hours we are going to the funeral for the father of two of my childhood friends. I couldn’t tell you how many hours I spent at their home or they at ours. Our parents were close friends and our moms ran a business together for several years. In my mind I have run through many, many good memories made with this family. Of course we all have so many things to do anymore, but dang, time passes so fast. Try to find some time to call someone you have lost touch with or really miss but have been “too busy” to visit. I’m very guilty of being To Do List driven but am trying hard to mend my ways.

Have a wonderful week and go visit someone special.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

There’s nothing like a two year old

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I was busy last week getting things ready for a visit from my favorite two year old. At least this time I didn’t have a baby and a puppy to chase.

This week is hay week. The week that everything goes on hold until the hay is safely in the barns. All our neighbors are on the same schedule I noticed as I drove around our end of the county today burning that precious gas. Yes, we live in one of the areas that was hit hard with the gas pipeline shut down. My brother-in-law has twice had to go to the next town and visit 4 gas stations to get enough diesel to run the tractor. Every trip is calculated. I even canceled a doctor appointment this week (just a check up) because it didn’t seem to be a good use of gas right now.

Just chillin’

Anyway, I thought I would share some of the pictures from our weekend. Even though they wear me out with that energy, I love a two year old. To see the world through their eyes again is pure joy. Everything is new and exciting. Brayden had to tell the horses good morning and night night every day. He’s still intimidated with the size of them, but enjoyed watching them come into and leave their stalls.

He helped me plant some veggies in the garden, ate wild strawberries until I was afraid he would be sick, blew dandelion seeds every day (I should have one heck of a crop of dandelions next year) and LOVES a tractor. He sat on my lap and we watched my bees go in and out of the hive, visited with the goats and the chickens and guineas. He liked chasing the guineas!

I got to take him to one of my favorite places on earth…the “creek” on our family farm. It’s a natural spring that flows over large rocks and has now officially been played in by 3 generations of our family. Four generations if you count my Dad playing there as a boy, long before he owned the land. I have yet to meet a two year old (or any kid) that can resist splashing and throwing stones in water. When he’s older we will see if he can be still long enough to look for minnows and crawdads.

You watch your kids and grandkids to see if any of your DNA is visible in their looks, mannerisms and personality. Time will tell on most things, but I discovered that my love of ice cream made the genetic cut. I mentioned getting some ice cream and the boy about lost his mind. I have always felt the same about ice cream. Ten years from now when he’s at that disgruntled middle school age, I bet I will still be able to cheer him up and see that mischevious grin when I mention ice cream.

If you have any two year olds in your life, don’t plop them down in front of a TV or computer game. Take them outside for a walk. I garantee you will see things you haven’t seen for decades and remember just how cool life in the wild is. Just sit with a two year old and watch ants working away or blow some dandelion seeds to watch them float away and see just how amazing it all is again when you see the smile and hear the squeal.

Have a great week!

Faith, Hope, Love and Grace

Christel

Spring has sprung!

Hi Everyone!

Hopefully your week is as beautiful as ours. This is going to be a quick hello and some lovely photos of the blooms happening here. My son and his girlfriend are back for a short visit before he starts the firefighting academy in May. I have been trying to get my To Do list done before they got here so I could spend time catching up with them.

Most of my week has been spent doing garden related activities and looking after many, many seedling babies. We have been excited to see many of the plants we uncovered from layers and layers of honeysuckle, poison ivy and unknown other vines, now blooming their hearts out. The old apple trees bloomed much heavier after having a major pruning last year. Hopefully they will give us some apples now.

Call me a little Woo Woo, but I truly think plants, just like people, know when you are trying to help them. We have one little azalea that I was absolutely sure was dead when I discovered it under the vines. I pruned back the dead branches that I could manage and planned to have DH cut it completely down, but before he could get to it, little leaves started to pop out. It is now blooming away and will probably be full and lush next year.

There is still a ton to do, but this Spring is definitely the encouragement we needed to keep pulling up weeds, over grown flower beds, and aggressive vines (never, ever, ever plant English Ivy!!). The hummingbirds have been doing fly bys to let me know they expect food from the feeder and the butterflies are loving all the blooms.

I have no idea where all the honeybees are coming from since my colony died and I’m waiting to get my new one. Everywhere here we have honeybees. Now, we do not spray pesticides and yes we have weeds, but those weeds feed the bees. I’m hoping there are wild bees in the woods behind us. If they are thriving in the wild that means they are overcoming the mite infestation that has devastated the honeybee population. I’m very happy to see they and they are always welcome. It’s a good idea to keep your shoes on when walking in the yard though.

I gotta go make food for people and hummingbirds. Have a wonderful week.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

A makeup week

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are well. It is 2 pm and I’m exhausted already. Once a month I make the Costco run for most of our groceries. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned how much I dislike grocery shopping, but I dislike it very much. During lockdown last year I kinda liked having my Costco order delivered. Unfortunately I couldn’t get fresh veggies and fruit that way so I still had to drag myself into a store occasionally. I’m pretty jealous of those of you who have Insta Cart and Door Dash.

Anyway, Costco was wall to wall people today. Between trying to drive a heavily laden cart through herds of humans, loading them (the groceries, not the humans) into my car, unloading them into the house and dealing with the introvert overwhelm of all those humans, it took a toll. I’m ready for a nap.

Costco was just one of the many trips I have had to make this week. Seriously, I think I have put on makeup the most this week over any other week in the past year. Tomorrow is the Lowe’s run for the final load of drywall for the attic (woo hoo). So more makeup.

Now that you know that I have spent most of my week driving back and forth, have you figured out that I have not gotten one tiny bit of artwork done? It has also been Spring Break for DN and I have been trying to keep her busy all week too. Yesterday I took her out for her second driving lesson. I take her to the nearby church that has a nice big parking lot and we work on those stops, turn signals, looking both ways, etc. This is the third kid I have taught in that parking lot. The parking lot lessons are easy. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the next driving adventure that will start in July. Those are hair raising.

I did have one tiny spurt of creativity this week. My sister offered me a couple of coffee bean bags to use as grow bags in my garden. Initally I turned them down. The next day I had an idea for something else to do with them and took them off her hands. I hopefully will have that little project done next week and I will let you see what I have in mind for these bags.

My apologies for not having any more to post here this week. Other than that big jar of jelly beans I picked up today it has been a fairly boring week. Plenty to do but none of it very interesting. Next week DN heads back to school full time (we are both doing the happy dance), it’s going to be in the 70’s and there should be more fun things to report.

Have a great week. Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it. We will be attending a rather chilly, not quite sunrise, but outdoor service. I will still have to wear makeup.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Lesson 1

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I kinda sorta delayed this post because of three beautiful sixty degree days. It’s still February and I needed to be outside to soak up Vitamin D. Today is back to cold, gray and rainy. I will mention that I did not sleep well last night so this might be a struggle. Call me out if something I put in here makes no sense.

Last week I mentioned that I will do a drawing tutorial for anyone interested. Once again, I do not consider myself a teacher. I am the constant student if anything. This is meant to be a means of creativity and stress relief. Listening to a podcast this week I heard of the ever rising incidents of suicide happening. We have to find ways of looking after ourselves especially mentally with all the continuing crazy. So, if you are so inclinded take these lessons and spend about 15-30 minutes a day practicing this week. I will add more lessons to give you more skills. Don’t stress or go perfectionist on me. These are supposed to be fun, not great works of art.

Materials needed: paper (nothing fancy – copy/printer paper, etc.), a pencil (#2, mechanical, whatever you have), an eraser (a good one on the end of the pencil is fine).

Here is our reference picture. I tried to find something simple, but challenging.

  1. LIGHTLY sketch the basic shapes. Notice that my sketch is loose.

2. Now, the trick is to look and really SEE the lines and shapes. Tell your brain to shut up, because it will tell you what it thinks the gravy boat should look like, not what it really looks like. Take your time and see where lines connect. Begin refining the shapes.

3. Keep working on the shapes and lines. Don’t think about what the object is. Right now it is simply lines and shapes that connect. Notice where I erased and moved things a bit. It is good to put your drawing away at the point you are beginning to feel frustrated. Take some time away and then come back with fresh eyes to make corrections. Just some time away will allow you to see the places you need to adjust. Every drawing and every painting I do comes with the frustration stage. It’s normal. You just have to deal with it and work through it.

4. Here is your homework. Yes, homework. Go around your house and find objects to draw. Don’t overthink this. I do suggest keeping it simple to begin with. Now, every day spend 15-30 minutes drawing one of those objects. Anyone and everyone who has taken a beginning art class will tell you that this is standard operating proceedure. Over the years I have filled many, many sketch books with crappy, daily sketches. You know what happens? Just like playing endless scales on a musical instrument, you slowly get better and better at seeing shapes and shadows (we will get to those). Your hand starts working with your eyes instead of your brain and you get into that lovely FLOW phase where the world drops away while you intensely focus on what you are doing.

I am working on pulling together some reference materials you can check out if you decide you want to delve a little deeper and learn from better teachers.

Have a lovely week. Don’t watch too much news. It is truly bad for you.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Impatience

Hi Everyone,

I hope all is well with you and yours this week. Anyone else sick of winter yet? Here in North Carolina we had one of those Spring teaser days this week. I spent the entire day outside working on projects. It was a glorious 60 degrees with sunshine and too good to waste inside. No regrets for thowing all my indoor projects aside. We are back to grey and gloomy with impending rain now. Typical February weather for us and extremely depressing.

Today I started on the fox painting above. In case any of you wonder how and why I pick my subjects, they are almost completely random right now. I have many personal photos that sometimes become paintings, but in the case of the fox, I used a website called Paint My Photo. Photographers upload their photographs and give permission for artists to use them as reference material. I have several files of images that I like saved and when I need a subject I just go and look through them until one them says, “paint me, paint me!”

Eventually I plan on doing more series and maybe have some deeper thoughts added in, but for now, under my current situation, I just paint random things that make my heart sing a little. I am drawn to the non-human creatures. You get direct and honest feedback from animals as long as you learn their language. Laid back ears on a horse, a donkey or a llama is a warning that they are not happy. A certain twitch of a tail will tell you the same thing about a cat.

I will digress a moment and tell you a quick story. Our horse Cinder is an absolute sweetie and everyone who meets him loves him, BUT he quickly gets bored and finds mischief. Day before yesterday I watched him pester our horse, Asher. Asher is the Alpha here and was trying to nap, but Cinder wouldn’t let him. Everytime Asher dosed off, Cinder poked him with his nose or nipped at him. Asher finally got fed up and chased him off. I thought that was the end of it.

Yesterday morning I was walking the dog before dawn and noticed Cinder standing in the pasture alone while the other equine were in a group by the barn. I told DH that it looked like Cinder had been excommunicated. He said, “funny you should mention that, something happened between Asher and Cinder last night after feeding.” He went on to explain that when he let them out of their stalls after their supper there was no usual calm strolling out of the barn. Instead Asher immediately threw his head (dominate posturing) and chased Cinder out of the barn, nipping at his rear.

It seems that Cinder’s antics had gotten on everyone’s last nerve and he was temporarily kicked out of the heard for a day. I was in the barn last night for feeding and Cinder wouldn’t even come into the barn. He’s usually the first one in. It took some persuading on DH’s part to herd Cinder into his stall and those big, brown eyes were very sad and confused. Things seem to be better today. Like I said, animals keep it honest and direct. Cinder will probably behave better now…for a while anyway.

Now back to the fox. I’m painting this fox today and I kept getting a glare from the overhead light on my reference photo. Then I couldn’t get my canvas to stay still. Did I mention that I’m now painting on our guest bed? Only slightly better than trying to paint on my lap in the living room. I can only use acrylics right now because I have no where to let paintings dry if I use oils. I have a love/hate relationship with acrylics and after using oils this summer I am finding the fast drying time of acrylics very irritating. All those feathers and fur I’ve been painting lately would probably be easier with oils.

Attic studio in progress

I am SO ready to get to work in my attic. I daydream of having my easel set up ALL THE TIME. Lighting that I can control. Tables I can leave my mess on and not have to clean up to eat dinner or have a guest over. Supplies that I know where they are and not have to hunt through a dozen mystery boxes.

“When will your attic be done?” you ask. I have no idea. This is where we are right now. I started priming the drywall last week, but I haven’t quite finished and I can’t set up my easel until that overhead piece goes in, then the lighting. It’s a little bit of torture having to work one bit at a time. No, it’s a lot of torture. I have the vision, but we are no where near it yet. Sigh.

I am not going to stop doing what I’m doing. It’s taken me a lifetime to squeeze out the small amount of time I have right now to do this. I ain’t gettin’ any younger here! I will admit though that this is the most impatient I have been over something, maybe ever. You might want to say a prayer or two for DH. He has to live with me.

Have a great week!

Christel

My new face

I got in my car and texted my husband, “I hope guys dig scars.”

Hi Everyone,

How are you? It is still crazy out there. Last week was a little crazy here too. A good crazy. My daughter, son-in-law and grandson came to visit for a few days. The weather was cold (it’s JUNE!) and wet, but we still got out enough to introduce Brayden to the horses, donkey, goats, llamas and chickens. A 15 month old brings their own sunshine.

Gratuitous grandson picture with my favorite daughter and favorite donkey.

So here is what is new in my world. Back in January, before the kidney stone incident, I made an appointment with a dermatologist. I had an annoying place on my face that had been there for years. I had had part of it removed 20 years ago, but now it had grown and was blistering up then not healing. I knew it was a basal cell skin cancer so I wasn’t concerned, just annoyed with it. There were a couple of other places that needed checking. Being of Irish German decent pretty much predisposes you to need a dermatologist.

Originally the appointment was to be in June, then got rescheduled to early March. I had three places biopsied and all three were basal cell cancers. Doctor wanted to schedule the removals the next week, but at that time I was still dealing with that darn kidney stone and one can only take so much pain at one time so I put it off until June.

Hello June. I won’t go into all the painful and gory details and I won’t share photos. Let’s just say that the spot on my leg was a breeze. Not so much the two places on my face. First surgery was on the old annoying spot. It was somewhere between the size of a pencil eraser and a dime. I’m thinking 5-6 stitches after it was removed. Try 3 times that many stitches! Yes, I had stitches running down the middle of one side of my face from the inner corner of my eye to about an inch from the corner of my mouth. Whoa! One week later and I have probably a good size hole in my nose that is covered by a skin graft taken from behind my ear. Bandage doesn’t come off until this Friday so I haven’t seen that one yet.

I don’t consider myself particularly vain. Minimal if any makeup most days. Hair is fixed to go out in public. That’s about it. Well, when you see yourself in a mirror looking like you just left the ER after a bar fight…suddenly vanity shows up. I was quite horrified. No one has been as happy about pandemic mask wearing as I have been for the past week!

Ok, stitches came out last Thursday, right after the new hole in my nose was added. I don’t know what my nose will look like, but the stitches are healing nicely on my face. In about 3 months I should know what the final scar will look like. I’m making up exciting stories to tell to nosy people about how I got said scar across my face. I’ve been cutting my own hair during the shut down and I could add a badass haircut to the deal. Creative wheels are turning.

While laying in bed listening to marauding raccoons breaking into our sunroom (that is another whole story for later), I had the thought that my 2020 face goes right along with the 2020 year. It hurt like hell (no lie!) and it has been shocking and scary, but several long time cancers have been removed for good. There are going to be scars, no way around it, but hopefully the worst is over and the healing can begin. I truly hope the same can be said for our world.

You all be safe out there and kind to each other. We still have a lot of 2020 to go yet.

Featured Photo by Johnny Cohen on Unsplash

Is it safe to come out?

Hi Everyone!

Wow, it’s been a long time.  Much longer than I had planned.

I had planned to see if I was ready to get back in the swing of things in January… but, during a visit to Charleston to see my daughter and her family I wound up in the hospital thanks to a kidney stone.  When I got home D. had the flu and I was still dealing with the kidney stone.

February…still walking around with The Stone and feeling crappy and beginning to get concerned about that virus in China.

March…finally got that darn kidney stone removed (it was big and needed surgery) right before the shut down. Very on edge about what was going to happen with COVID-19 and just didn’t have it in me to write.

April…more crazy.  More stress and uncertainty. No motivation.

May…can we just say that the level of crazy had hit epic proportions and we had a garden to plant.

Here we are at June…it’s all still crazy. More so if possible.  This may be the norm now so I decided it’s just time to quit procrastinating and move on into whatever.

I have been doing some artwork that may turn into a series.  In January I started my first art journal.  I have no idea why I decided to do that, but it has been a sanity saver over the past few months. Maybe I will post some of it at the end of the year.  Maybe I won’t. It is not intended to be a great piece of art, but some self expression during what has turned into a historical year.  I am hoping to eventually add on a gallery here that purchases can be made from and completely redo my Etsy shop.  I think it is still on vacation from June of last year.

Today I just wanted to dip my toes back in the water here and let you know we are all doing fine.  I truly hope all of you are safe and healthy.

For those of you who have lost jobs and every day feels like an eternity of worry…I have been in your shoes.  I know the stress.  You are in my prayers.

For those who have lost friends and family during this year, you are in my prayers.  I do not know what it is like to not be with them in the hospital or attend their funeral.  I can only imagine the guilt and the need for normal closure.

For all who are involved in the Black Lives Matter protests (protesters, police officers, National Guard, government officials, concerned citizens), you are in my prayers.

Prayers, that on the other side of this virus, shut down, economic crash, protests, murder hornets, tornados, hurricanes and whatever else 2020 throws at us, we will emerge as stronger, kinder people with a safer, cleaner Earth to continue life on.

I hope to be back next week. Be safe and be kind to each other!

Christel

‘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