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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I got in my car and texted my husband, “I hope guys dig scars.”
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.
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.
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!
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!!
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.
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!
I’m doing my best to get back to a schedule again. I did not realize just how out of sorts I have been over the past few months until I started working on a new routine around here. Still plenty of crazy going on, but hopefully after this coming weekend we will be moving toward normal again. We got that last darn storage unit cleaned out! I have cleaned out our dining room twice now. It is serving as the launch pad for all the stuff since we don’t currently have a dining table. One more big pile to go. Somewhere in all the boxes are my art supplies. I have missed them and hope to spend quality time with them again soon.
You will see and hear more about our new home over time because much of my time and creativity will be going into it for a while, but I wanted to fill you in on our story with this house. Warning…another long post.
Right after our house went under contract and we went into panic mode to find a place to rent while we were building a new house (the one that didn’t happen) a friend suggested contacting the owners of our now home because no one was currently living in it. Initially we did just that, but they did not want renters. Then on the long drive back to our place we realized that very likely the property had everything we needed and a lot of what we wanted. We then called them back and asked if they would be willing to sell the property to us.
Now, maybe you don’t believe in Divine Intervention, but the way the whole thing fell in place certainly makes us believe in it. Without all the long details, the owners wanted time to discuss it. In the meantime we found a place to rent that worked out beautifully for us. Next the owners called us to come by and discuss the possible purchase. We walked through the house and around the property, realizing it not only had what we needed, but everything that was on our “have to have” list and our “want” list! They gave us a price and their bottom line of what they were or weren’t willing to do for the sale. In about a two minute time span, D. and I took a MAJOR leap of faith and agreed to their terms. The owners, who had been former horse owners, also made us the offer to let us keep our horses on the property while we were renting for FREE! Anyone who has boarded a horse, much less four horses and a donkey, knows what that is worth.
So, we now had a place to rent for the four months the owners requested for the closing, a place for the horses that did not require us to bulldoze land or move my sister and brother-in-law’s llamas, only 5 minutes from our rental. Whew! Major relief. If you have been reading here this summer you know it was not all fun and games as we moved and settled one property to purchase this one, but all in all it came together with perfect timing along with my Dad’s decline. We were here, 5 minutes from the family and able to help Mom, etc.
This house and property holds a special, happy place in my heart. My parents’ house is right across the road. The original owners were like extra grandparents to me and this property was my well worn trail as a little girl to visit my friends across the street and up on the hill. Mr. Wade and Miz (our local Southern title for adult ladies, married or not) Doris had this place neat as a pin and there was always a cheerful greeting from one or both of them. Sometimes cookies were offered and accepted as well!
The house has not been occupied for a few years and has seen some neglect. We have our work cut out for us to return it to its former glory (not sure we can get it completely there, but plan to give it our best shot). Still, we are in love with it. The house is well thought out with tons of storage and vintage charm. It was built in 1955. Mr. Wade built rock walls and edging all over the place. There was an orchard and I just planted six new apple trees in it again. We have more out buildings than we ever dreamed of and all the critters are happily settled in…except the chickens…they will be at the family barn for a while yet until we get a new house built for them.
Here are a few pictures. Before and after (so far) of the front of the house and some surprises we have found in our short time here. Have a great week. This week I plan to be in Charleston for Halloween with the grandbaby, but might be able to squeeze in a post before I go…or after with cute Halloween overload!
The last photo is where we started from on the front of the house. It was so grown up you could barely see there was a house and the left side and bay window were completely covered. Since the first photo was made we have also cut down most of the big holly bush. We have a long list of things to do, but we are finally in and don’t really have anything we have to rush to do…except the barn. More on that later. Winter is coming and horses need stalls.