Fresh air, sunshine and SLEEP

Hi Everyone, 

I hope you are well and life is treating you good going into our 7th month of 2018! Last week I enjoyed several days visiting my daughter, son-in-law and grandpups. Other than an accident the pups got into that resulted in a tooth extraction this week for one of them, it was a relaxing visit and a nice break for me from full time parenting and feeding lots of hungry people and animals. 

Spring is my favorite season, but I think Summer is the best time of year for my body and soul. Yes, there is the heat and humidity, but I handle it much better than the cold plus I don’t spend the hottest part of the day outside anymore. I did that back in my much younger days working in fields for the farmers where I grew up. Now I start my day somewhere around 6:30 – 7:00 am outside feeding who ever D. didn’t get fed before he went to work, then the next hour is spent taking care of garden or yard. 

Everything is quiet and peaceful (as long as you appreciate the sounds of chickens, donkey and bees). I get a daily dose of nature. This week I have seen the tiniest praying mantis and watched my bees working away at the garden blooms. I had a long discussion with our new hens about improving their egg production. Our yard takes days to weed eat so I have had the satisfaction of weed whacking and getting a few long delayed projects done. I get a full dose of vitamin D and all that dripping sweat has to be removing toxins. The fresh air and exercise has brought back SLEEP! After months of stress induced insomnia, I am actually getting 7-8 hours of solid sleep again. I cannot tell you how awesome that feels! 


The rest of my day is work, parenting, cleaning and a return to being a taxi driver to family members. You know, that stuff that either never has an end or the end is far in the future.  My first hour of the day feels like there are some accomplishments anyway. 

Most of the time in this summer the last hour or so of daylight is pretty good too. D. and I go spend some quality time with Spark Plug the donkey. He has three more weeks of confinement until he can join the horses in the pasture. He’s very bored and we feel sorry for him.  D. also gets the trainee horse out for his evening lessons and normally Sweetie Pie the cat joins me in a chair on the front yard and we watch the progress. After his lesson, Walker, the trainee gets a reward of fresh grass (and cuts down on some of the yard mowing) while we hang out with him and wait for the chickens to go into their coop. Yeah, it sounds pretty boring to a lot of folks, but I have lived the rat race and do not miss it.  


I still don’t get as much painting and drawing time as I hoped to have by now, but it’s more than I’ve had since I was a teenager. Tuesday I pretty much finished one fairly large painting. My first ocean scene. Sometimes things show up that I haven’t planned and this is one of them. 


This has been a major taxi week and will be today and tomorrow as well.  This evening I’m picking my son up at the airport from his westward adventure. If climbing a 12,000 foot mountain is your idea of fun then I think he had a great trip. 

Next week Miss L. is gone on her last (as far as I know) week away and I plan to finish painting our kitchen (which has been partially primed for months now). This is my BIG project for this year so forgive me if I don’t post anything next week. 

Get out of the house this week, watch some bugs, pick some flowers and if you have the chance, hug a donkey. It’s good for you…avoid the backside of the donkey though. 

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Fixin’ it

Hi Everyone,

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


 

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

An Ending and a Beginning 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are having a great week. I am finally almost over all the itching and pain from the shingles now and the weather is finally in my favorite zone of 75-80 degrees with sunshine. Life is good again!

Yesterday I made my last delivery of my last orders for my design & print business and am winding down 32 years in the industry. I have made so many good friends over the years and will miss seeing them on a regular basis. The work itself I don’t think I will miss as much. I’m ready to do my own ideas on my own deadlines now. I have a couple of logos to do for my daughter and our beekeepers association but I think those will be my last two logos unless I revise my own logos.

What’s next? Well my plan is for you to get to see more of my artwork primarily. I started selling on EBay last year as a way of cleaning out our storage unit and there are some remaining family items no one wanted that need new homes. I will also do that until I either run out of stuff or decide I enjoy it enough to go find more stuff to sell, but my focus is the artwork. 

I have the two commissioned drawings to finish and I will show you those when they are finished, but I can’t yet while they are in progress. Hopefully next week I can get started on the ideas that fill about four sketchbooks that were started more than twenty years ago. I’m so excited! And more than a little freaked out that I am finally getting to do this!  Keep me accountable.  Procrastination sets in when the fear starts breathing down my neck. If you have ever taken a big risk on something very important to you…you know exactly what I mean!

Today’s photo is of my lovely, happily blooming irises. 

Go do something you have always wanted to do…now!

Busy as a bee or worthless?

Hi Everyone!

How is your week going? Life here is improving. I think we have finally moved past the snow and frost of winter and started Spring for real this time. It is raining here and looks like rain for the next few days but we need it so I will try not to complain. My son is home from his few months in Hawaii so that has definitely cheered me up. The bug bites have cleared and the shingles are slowly going away. They are truly a pain! 

I am beginning to get back some energy finally and can make it through a full day without collapsing around 2 pm.  I hope to be back to full speed soon. The fatigue has been constant for months due to high stress levels and illness. Am I the only one who beats themselves up when everything on the To Do list does not get done? In the middle of the worst of the shingles pain I noticed just how badly I talk to myself. “Worthless” kept coming up time and time again when I was not able to do something that I thought I should be able to. Dang. I wouldn’t call anyone else that when they were sick. 

So in my exhausted state I looked at my list of To Dos with a more discerning eye. What I noticed was that I really don’t have that many truly HAVE TO DOs.  Rarely do my clients have rush orders and they are very understanding when I’m sick. Generally I only HAVE to look after the animals and myself when D. or Miss L. are at school or work. I MAKE myself do the laundry and cooking (cooking is loosely defined as having some sort of at least semi-healthy food when I’m sick) to avoid guilt. 

What I discovered is that I set up self imposed deadlines on projects that cause high levels of unnecessary stress. There were actually SIX projects that I was beating myself up for that truly did not have to be done any certain time at all. What the heck? Why do I do that? So I gave myself permission to put those on the back burner for now and promised myself that I will quit calling myself Worthless. 

What does have to be done now? We have a garden to get planted and I have two portraits to finish (my clients did not give me a deadline, but I’m sure they would like them in a reasonable amount of time) and the normal life upkeep. That’s it. I have been able to get a good start on the portraits so here is a sneak peek. I’m trying not to give too much away until my clients see them.


I did have to get my new package of bees settled last week and have another one coming soon. My new bees are busily setting up their new home. My surviving hive is moving slow for this time of year. I checked on them Sunday and I’m afraid they are, for some undetermined reason, struggling like I am. The Queen is laying, but not profusely or regularly. Guess what? I’m not calling the queen worthless. She was my second best queen last year and her girls were my top honey producers for the year. They survived 6-9 degree nights this winter when the other hives didn’t. To the best of my ability I’m going to try and figure out what is wrong and help them if I can. I would love to see her thriving again.  Here is a video of my bees. The new colony is in the back, busy, busy , busy. My survivor hive is in the front, functional but not where they should be right now. 


Have a great week and for heavens sake, talk kindly to yourself.

The art of frustration 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are having a lovely week so far. Supposedly we are going to have Spring return here this week. I am very ready for my feet to thaw out!

Did you notice that I posted this on time this week? Want to know why? Nope, it’s not because I finally have my act together. I have misplaced my good drawing paper and cannot continue with the two commissioned drawings until I find it. I am hoping that the distraction of writing will let my brain work on remembering where I put it last. 

Finally I have a week that involves no crisis management of affairs of an estate, Spring Break is over and I have no huge impending deadlines. Yesterday was great! I worked on my Etsy shop, started these two drawings, did a little practice painting all before I had to pick up Miss L.  Today started out pretty much the same way until I realized my drawing paper is missing. Dang! I had two solid hours to work on them.

So here I am, coming into the last month and a half of my thirty year career, all geared up to get down to some serious creative doing and making and I am an organizational mess. Normally I know exactly where everything is unless someone I live with moves it and this happens all too frequently. This time I can’t blame them though. 

In June I will have lived here for two years. In those two years I have had to constantly keep moving my art supplies around.  Either a room is being painted/renovated, someone is visiting or moving in, or every spare inch of space is occupied by stuff that has to be sorted, stored or given away eventually. The frustration level with this situation is very high. Really and truly I am a minimalist at heart but I find I am always living primarily with people who are not. My son is the exception. Right now he lives out of a backpack, but take a wild guess who stores his bed and few boxed possessions. 

My dear husband promises me that one day there will be a separate little art studio that only I have the key to. Looking at our long list of “need to do” items I hope he is planning on adding wheelchair ramp and Geritol dispenser on it. Until then I retreat to my Pinterest board of studio ideas and dream. 

The current reality is that I set up my fold out table in my bonus daughter’s/guest room for the two weeks that she is away and frantically work on my sewing machine and other projects that have to be spread out (I’m a creative mess so most projects fall in this category) then pack it all back up before she returns. Heaven help me if I forget to take the vacuum cleaner out of her closet before setting up the table. In that case, or any other that requires something from that closet, I have to crawl over the bed to the other side, retrieve the item then push or pull it back across the bed.  There are many not so nice words said during this ordeal. 

If the table issue were not enough the fact that I have my most used supplies in…the china cabinet, under our bed, under the love seat, under and on my desk, in a file cabinet in Miss L’s room, beside the sofa, in an end table, on our bookshelf, AND in the master bathroom! The less needed supplies are in our storage unit 20 minutes away and I seem to need them several times a month. Honestly I do not own a store’s worth of supplies. We just have so little space that I have to stick them in every nook and cranny I can find. Trying to find what I need causes some high level frustration. HOPEFULLY as I wind down my design business and clean out files and supplies that I will no longer need, I can begin to consolidate the art supplies and cut down on the frustration. Did I mention that the nearest art supply store is over an hour away by car or two days away via Amazon. Wonder if I can figure out how to make horse hair paint brushes? 

Maybe I should remember to give myself a pat on the back any time I manage to finish ANYTHING.  Here are a couple of finished items from this week. My table quilt from my class got finished. Probably the worst sewing I have done in years but it doesn’t look too bad as long as you don’t look on the back, and a small painting of our cat, Sweetie Pie. I have her eyes too close together but I was focusing on some painting techniques more that worrying about getting everything “right”. 


I am going to make myself some lunch, take some water to the chickens, gather some eggs and make sure I didn’t put my drawing paper in their coop.

May your week have low levels of frustration!

Clearing

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are well and that you had a lovely Easter if you celebrate it. 

Last week was busy around here. Miss L was on Spring Break. With her growing fast and furiously we made two shopping trips to get a jump on replacing her summer clothes before it gets warm and she had nothing that fit her.  The shopping lead into the need to teach her how to go through her belongings and part with what she had outgrown, discuss not buying more than you need and how to take care of what you have so that it lasts and eventually someone else can use it. I was very proud of her for cleaning out a large stack of games and movies that she had outgrown. All that lead into Spring Cleaning mode for me.

Normally I do Fall Cleaning because I don’t like to be cooped up all winter with a bunch of stuff taking up valuable space and dust bunnies hiding in every corner, but this past Fall there was too much on my plate to tackle the cleaning out. As our life returns to normal now that the estate is settled and most of the piles of boxes stacked in our house have been removed I can focus on what needs clearing from our normal daily lives. This year it is not just STUFF that needs to go.

I have sorted through all our clothes and happily donated a huge bag of them along with household items and books yesterday. Throughout the winter D. and I found good homes for several pieces of furniture that belonged to us as well as some that belonged to his sister. It was nice to know that most of them went to young adults starting out on their life journey. 

Now we are looking at clearing less tangible things. As I finish up my last two months of a 30+ year career I have to part with several file cabinets full of business records, an email address with a few THOUSAND emails, digital files I will no longer need and deadline dependency. I know that deadline dependency sounds strange, but that is how I have functioned in this world for a long time. Deadlines are my motivation but I’m finding that at this point in my life I don’t handle the stress of a looming deadline as well as I used to. I need to reduce the deadlines and find a way to accomplish goals without wandering around like a lost puppy. 

We are also reducing digital usage. D. has been complaining of pain and numbness when he is using his tablet and a few years ago had the same problem when he had an iPhone. I thought it was probably caused by the way he was holding the device similar to a carpal tunnel issue. I think now that it is more serious than that. Several articles, YouTube videos, TED Talks, etc. have come to my attention recently that explain the effects of all the EMF (electronic magnetic fields) we are exposed to daily. Symptoms such as the ones D. is experiencing (prickling, burning sensations) to the ongoing insomnia and fatigue that both of us are having even though our stress levels are down and we are both in good health may be linked to the wifi and microwaves from the electronics. More frightening is the finding of DNA damage in children and the unknown health effects from long term use. 

As much as we would both like to go off the grid, it’s not feasible, but a reduction in exposure is. We are going to start with turning off the wifi at night and making a conscious effort to not have our phones and tablets next to us all the time. I have started charging mine in the living room at night instead of on my nightstand next to my overworked brain. D. is going looking for an old fashioned wind up alarm clock this weekend. We will probably start limiting Miss L.’s electronic time more as well. We are all avid readers and creative types so we are very capable of finding better uses for our time. It’s just a matter of adjusting our habits. I need to work on my Pinterest addiction anyway!

I would love to know if any of you have had similar findings, symptoms, or suggestions on less electronic device usage. I suspect this is going to become a much bigger conversation and problem as more and more of the world gets connected. 

Have an awesome week and clean out a drawer, closet or some emails! 

It’s a little bland

Hi Everyone!

A day late and a dollar short over here, but that’s life sometimes. The current state of affairs has me bundled up on the sofa sipping tiny quantities of coffee and nibbling on a bland rice cake. Since I am very rarely sick and I am now in my second round of sickliness this winter, I am assuming that my body still hasn’t completely recovered from the stress of 2017.  My one and only real goal is to get this post done today. Anything else will be gravy. Thank goodness it is D.’s day off because I’m not sure I could drag myself out to look after the animals today.

Our week has been somewhat bland this week too and I don’t have much to share but it’s way too easy to fall out of a habit and next thing you know I will only be writing here once a month. Just think about how much crazy you will miss out on if I did that! 

D. and I had dinner with friends Sunday evening that made for an enjoyable start to the week. Sharon, glad you and Alan could meet us. We had a great time!

Monday, snow, again. Ours was minimal to what much of the country is dealing with but it was enough to call school off and Miss L. to lose one of her Spring break days. 


Yesterday I went with my Mom to her post op checkup and was already feeling yucky. By the time I got home I knew that I would not be going to the monthly beekeepers meeting and crawled into bed. It was all downhill from there. Right now I have the energy level of a wet dishrag. My two mutts get very concerned when I am not up and going at my usual speed. This is Kato keeping watch over me last night until he couldn’t hold his eyes open any longer.  This morning they kept taking turns checking on me when I wasn’t out of bed at my usual early hour and would snuggle up closer than normal to me while I was trying to catch up on some sleep. Dogs are just the best!


My apologies for not having better to offer this week. I do hope to work on some drawings today if I can stay upright long enough.  Today’s post is like doing anything that is important to you that you want to improve at. Some days you have to show up, put in the time even though you know it’s not so good and persevere until things get better.  Sort of like the sock I have been knitting. I wanted to learn a new heel type. I pulled out that heel four times until I got it right. Not fun. Not fun at all but it got done. 

I hope you have a healthy week and bless you if you read this to the end! I hope for much better next week!

It’s about time

Hi Everyone!

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

May time be on your side this week!

Shakin’ it up

Hi Everyone,

How has your week been? Mine has been a little busier than planned. That darn To Do list got longer and I have been scrambling to keep up this week. It may be a working weekend depending on how today goes.

This time last week I was doing some final packing and getting the dogs ready to go board at the vet. I can tell you that they were less than thrilled. The Rottens do not have spa accommodations there like they do at home.  

Friday afternoon we (D., Miss L., Miss G. and myself) headed to Charleston to see my daughter, Wrenn, son-in-law, Drew and the grandpups, Harley and Kayden. We didn’t get to see them for Christmas so this was our Christmas visit. We had decided before Christmas to forgo the whole gift buying thing (you can read my whiney post, Christmas Crazy for more about that) in lieu of some adventure.

What did we do? We climbed around like a bunch of monkeys. Seriously. We strapped on helmets and harnesses and played, seriously played, for two hours on a ropes course at Wild Blue Ropes. IT WAS AWESOME! 



I knew Miss G. and Miss L would love it because they both love to find a big ‘ole tree to climb and to climb it at high as possible. The rest of us were looking forward to the adventure, but speaking for myself, I was looking for a challenge.  

It’s so easy to fall into a pattern and a rut. I get bored very easily and go into a funk when I do. Winter is especially bad for me so this was a perfect way to end January as I go face my arch enemy- February. February tries to defeat me every year and this has been going on as far back as I can remember. February is cold, gray, depressing and seems to last FOREVER. So, swinging and climbing 35 feet up in the air on a 67 degree day in January was beyond enjoyable. 

It was also a great feeling to know that my 55 year old body could still do such physically challenging activities. I think D. was feeling pretty good that he got across the dangling ropes section, deemed the toughest part of the course. I couldn’t have done that part in my 20’s so I just cheered him on. I did, however, at the end of the day, make myself jump off the very top platform to get off the course. Thirty-five feet off the ground I think it was. I don’t really mind heights, but I do mind jumping off them!  I would have been very disappointed in myself if I had chickened out and trust me, there was some internal arguing going on. In the end I was able to give myself a big mental pat on the back. 

After the ropes we chilled at W& D’s apartment, took a walk with the dogs then headed out to eat some excellent seafood and my daughter had arranged for two of my long time friends to meet us there. Folks, I just couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.  Sunday morning we just chilled with our coffee and compared sore muscles before we had to head back to the hills. 

If you are suffering from the winter funk, I highly suggest getting out of your comfort zone and do something adventurous and a little bit scary. Definitely include some super special people to make it that much more memorable. I couldn’t tell you what I got for Christmas in 2016, but in 2020 I will be able to tell you what I did in January 2018! 

Go shake it up this week!