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! 


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. 


Hi Everyone!

I hope you had a great week. We are about half way through January now. How are those resolutions going? Are you one of those folks who pick a word for your year? You know, one word that signifies what you want to accomplish or hope to bring more of into your year. Something like, Health or Focus?  I have been thinking about what word I would pick for 2018 and decided on Regeneration. 

So why Regeneration, you ask? Well, last week, right after I posted to this blog, I walked over to my computer and hit SEND on one of the most difficult emails I have ever sent.  It was an email to my clients informing them of my decision to retire from 30+ years in the graphic design/ printing industry. 

The thought behind this decision began about February of last year as I looked at my profit & loss statement while doing my taxes. I realized that my expenses were about to overtake my profits. There were several factors for this including higher costs for software and a great deal more travel time. D. and I discussed what would I do to replace the income if I closed my business but to be honest there were not many feisible options where we live. 

Fast forward about seven months and I find myself a parent again and beginning to fall into a different part time business while still running my main business. It was obviously a little too much on one plate. Without going into all the boring details, once again God was telling me that a change was in order. I’ve been through this enough times now to know not to fight it. If I fight it things will get much worse and I will still find myself exactly where He wants me to be eventually anyway. I learn hard, but I do learn!

Also in all the crazy that was going on, D. and I realized our health was suffering. We both were struggling with insomnia, were mentally and physically worn down, not eating right and not getting proper exercise. Once again we were responsible for someone else’s well being and we did not have the option of a major health crisis. We had hoped to get a lot more taken care of at his sister’s house before it went up for sale, but exhaustion was setting in and things at our home were falling apart. We had given it our best but it was time to stop the insanity. 

When D. retired last March, we had visions of travel and much more time for our many hobbies. Well we all know how those best laid plans go, but at our age we don’t have unlimited time to do the things we have been putting off. Roll all these factors together and you will see that we have to adjust, renew and grow into a new and unknown direction now. 

What we do know is that we have a lovely young girl who needs stability and guidance. We know we have to look after ourselves to give it to her. No more working two and three jobs like both of us did when we and our other kids were younger. But we both deserve and desperately need some time to chase some dreams and enjoy some things that we have put off for a very long time. 

I am probably right now more than a little jealous of some of you and my close friends who are traveling to awesome places that I have always wanted to go. It’s a very real struggle. We had some cool plans in the works. We aren’t writing them off, but they will be delayed and different now.  To deal with the disappointment and to be sane and pleasant people we have to give ourselves the gift of time instead. Time to rest, renew our energy, find our new normal and grow in ways we didn’t know existed. A REGENERATION of our lives. 

I have a new and interesting part time income stream that does not include hours of driving every week or rushing to make sure I’m back in time to pick up Miss L. Those two things alone relieve a huge stress load and I have more time. More time that I can finally give to my artwork that has slowly but steadily been bringing in more income as well. It’s pretty much now or never. I don’t have any guarantee that I have until the age of 80 to start an art career like Grandma Moses and the desire to make stuff has been the one and only constant of my five decades. I think I owe it a higher ranking for its consistency and perseverance if nothing else…like the fact I need it like oxygen. 

So there you have it.  REGENERATION in 2018 in whatever form it takes. I expect an interesting year. 

I don’t hear from many of you, but would love to.  Share your goals, resolutions and/or words.  Have an awesome week!

Getting cozy

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a lovely Christmas or Hanukkah and are looking forward to 2018. My Christmas started out pretty rocky and emotional, but in the end turned out better than I expected. With all the moving around of stuff in our house and storage unit, I never did find some of my Christmas decorations. The tree was starless this year, but we all came through it and Miss L. had a good Christmas so we will count the holiday as a success. I got to see both my kids via FaceTime on Christmas Eve.  If you have nothing else good to say about technology, the ability to stay in touch with long distance loves makes all the other technological headaches worthwhile!

She asked Santa Clause for her own can of olives! ūüėā

Now that Christmas is over and gifts have been given, I can show you the commissioned portrait I did. I was pleased with how this young man turned out. 

We are settling in for a long winter now. It is cold, cold, cold here (in North Carolina standards anyway) and we have our beloved wood stove going constantly. There is no warmer, cozier heat. It’s harder to look after the animals and make sure they stay warm and the water bowls thawed. Coming into the house after feeding time is wonderful. The rotten dogs seem to appreciate the warmth too. 

This is the first year ever that I have looked forward to winter.  After the stress and long grueling hours of paperwork, phone calls, emails and physically moving furniture, endless stacks of boxes and extreme cleaning sessions, I am ready for some downtime. Hopefully the estate will be wrapped up soon and the worst will be over. 

For now, I am staying snuggled in with knitting a sweater and planning my new year.  I have signed up for my daughter’s 2018 fitness program. If you need some motivation to get off your butt this year check out her program at It’s free and she has a goal sheet, food and fitness logs and a private FaceBook page to help you along.  You do need to hurry though.  Signup ends December 31. 

There are several goals and plans in the works for 2018.  I will fill you in on those as the year progresses. It would make for a very long blog post and some I can’t talk about yet.  D. and I are hoping to get back to our long list of farm and home improvements that got put on hold this year.  As much as I love to travel, I feel the need to just hunker down and stay home in 2018. Of course, if the possibility to visit my son in Hawaii presents itself…I think I could be convinced to leave home for awhile. 

Gotta go! HAPPY NEW YEAR! 2018 here we come!


Hi Everyone,

This is going to have to be short today.¬† There is a long list of To Do’s waiting on me.¬† The whole week has been that way.¬† Every single day has been full of different appointments to rush to and fro from.¬† We are worn out and still not done.¬† Monday is our last scheduled appointment…I think.¬† Somewhere soon I have a bone density test, but can’t find it on my calendar at the moment.¬† Not good.

I finally got a beginning sketch for the commissioned drawing done.¬† It will be after Christmas before I can show you the final piece because it is a present and I bet that someone will recognize the little guy, so I have to keep it under wraps.¬† I am very much looking forward to putting a pencil to paper again.¬† I now have two logos that need to get done as well and my usual work is pretty busy.¬† I was up at 4 am working Wednesday morning.¬† If you can’t sleep, work.

What is weighing on my mind this week is how to get back to simple.¬† I have been downsizing and cleaning out stuff for 5 years now.¬† Every time I think I am close to getting where I want to be someone else’s stuff moves in on me.¬† Yes, I still have some of my own to part with, but most of it has been in storage for a kid or two.¬† Now, I have 4 generations of stuff to work through.¬† We have formulated a plan.¬† Wish us luck.

For those of you who have not heard, my son is moving to Hawaii in December.  Yes, it is a real paying job he is going over there for.  People keep asking me if he is going to get a real job. Yes, it involves an ocean, kayak, whales and probably a surf board, but he is actually getting paid to do such things and even gets real work benefits.  Are you green with envy yet??

What I admire about my son is his ability to walk very lightly on this earth.¬† He will be moving to the other side of the country with only what he can carry in his camping backpack and his school backpack.¬† That’s it. Even as a small child he rarely had more than one item on his Christmas list.¬† He is not a collector of STUFF.¬† He collects experiences.

My daughter and son-in-law have been working to minimize their STUFF as well.  I think their generation has seen the error of our ways and do not want to burden themselves with the cost of STUFF in real money and in environmental impact.  Do some research on just how much clothing alone goes into our landfills here in the U.S.

D. and I are both people who crave a very simple lifestyle.  We admire the Shakers and Amish in their simplicity and the beauty of that simplicity.  Clean lines in furniture and have only what you need.  We are far from that right now, but as we go through this experience of distributing a bazillion things we are more sure than ever that we do not want our legacy to be STUFF.  We do not want to leave such a burden on our children.

I can tell you that I am now analyzing every single item that I own and will be letting go of things that I have held onto only because it is connected to a memory.  Things DO NOT hold memories.  PEOPLE hold memories.  I can look around me and see THINGS that I do not truly love for what they are but just because they are a connection to my past.  THINGS that if I were to see them in a store, I would walk right by them.  No more.  They have to go.  They are taking up valuable real estate in our home that could either be open, airy, peaceful space of its own or hold something that I truly do love for its beauty and/or usefulness.

I hope that in some way I have influenced my kids in their simplicity.¬† I don’t think their lives were filled with an overabundance of stuff growing up and I showed them how to regularly clear out their belongings.¬† Now I have a young lady that needs, more than most, to have this example and instruction given to her.¬† What happens in her future I have no way of knowing, but I do know that D. and I are committed to showing her a simpler, more peaceful and more financially sane way to live.¬† Sometimes life provides you with an unforeseen way to accomplish your goals!

Have a great week and keep it simple!

Photo credit


Salt water and memories 

Hi Everyone!

I will just start by saying that I WAS NOT READY to come home from the beach! A long weekend was not long enough. It was a few glorious days of much needed R&R though. Miss L. spent the weekend with her Aunt Netty and Uncle Steve. I think she decided the Old Farts wasted a good beach trip when we told her our weekend consisted of eating, sleeping and sitting on the beach. Did I mention that it was glorious? I slept for 11, yes, ELEVEN straight hours!

And now back to the grind. 

Nothing creative. Nothing fun. 

We are now on a time crunch to finish up at my late SIL’s house. Every spare minute will be spent there moving stuff out. Tomorrow we are having a POD dropped in our front yard to stuff everything into until I get time to sort it all out. Yeah. You hear the excitement in my voice don’t you?

Next week we are once again calling in all available family members to do some heavy moving. It has been hard enough watching D. and his sister remembering their Mom, Grandparents and sister as we sort through all the generations of stuff. Now the nieces and nephews will have to come to grips with the fact that the house they have happy memories of their Grandma Judy in (it was her house before it was my SIL’s) will have to be sold. 

Our annual chicken stew is this weekend. I have several boxes of family items that I am either delivering to a family member or taking for the family to sort through and take with them. Hopefully there will be good family stories told over these. It is kind of weird being the outsider without emotional attachment to all these family mementos. I am often able to appreciate the old items for their workmanship, artistry or history without a memory of where it sat in Grandmomma’s kitchen or remembering someone working on needlework at a Sunday dinner.

Today I unpacked several drinking glasses from the 50’s and they were so bright and cheerful that I decided I would replace the ones we normally use that no one seems to like. While I am noticing how much better the thickness and quality of glass is than current ones, D. is telling me how he always noticed that his Granddad’s cornbread and milk (it’s a Southern thing if you aren’t from around here) matched the design colors on the glass he is using. This change of glasses not only gave Miss L. some family history but general history as well as we explained how some of the glasses were once jelly jars. 

Most of the cleaning out and sorting is just hard labor, but when some of the old pieces of pottery or needlework or old 40’s clothes turn up it becomes a little treasure to appreciate.  I’m afraid that future generations will not get as much enjoyment from our mass produced plastic and cold technology. Hopefully we will find our way back to quality and beauty before the skills are lost. 

So, maybe next week I will share a photo of our beautiful POD. Yuck. I hope it won’t have to hang around too long. I guess an eyesore in your front yard is motivation enough to get a daunting job done. B.J.C. thank you for the sweet note. That helped me keep my chin up and carry on! 

Have a great week and go make something beautiful! 

Getting my groove back

Whew! It has been a week!

So here are a few pictures of the lovely cabin we vacationed in last week. It was marvelous!  One of these days I will figure out how to get these pictures where I want them.  Sorry for the awkwardness.

Where we spent most of our time. If there had been hammocks, we would have slept here.
Where we spent most of our time. If there had been hammocks, we would have slept here.
Our view of the river.
Our view of the river.
800 square feet of adorable, but there was a learning curve with that loft ladder in the middle of the night.
800 square feet of adorable, but there was a learning curve with that loft ladder in the middle of the night.

Eighteen acres of wooded heaven with our cabin perched on the hill right above the river. Coffee on the back porch watching the sunrise and a regular visit from a heron and an owl.

We are seriously considering making this an annual trip before hunting season starts up and we don’t rest until January.

We returned home last Thursday evening and Friday morning D. rushed to the building to make some final adjustments for the building inspector. We passed the inspection and opened on time as planned!!!

And now we wait… Bow season opened this month but it has been hot and the serious hunting doesn’t start until the guns come out and the weather gets cold. There has been lots of interest in us starting the business and one of the local meat processors has decided to no longer take in deer. ¬†Hopefully this will mean we are busy, busy, busy soon.

So, while I have been waiting for customers and stuck for 8 hours a day in a building with nothing going on, I finally got productive.  Schedules really are a good thing

Neutralizing the forest green.
Neutralizing the forest green.

I painted some walls and our counter. Then I loaded up the car with computer, sketch books, sewing machine and fabric. The computer hasn’t gotten much use but the sewing machine has. ¬†I have a good start on some Christmas ornaments, made 8 napkins, two oven mitts and hopefully by the end of the weekend three covers for our sofa cushions. We have a nice leather sofa that has been covered with a sheet to avoid canine toenail destruction.

Moving in. Lovely isn't it?
Moving in. Lovely isn’t it?

It is not a pretty place. I hope to at least make it rustic-cozy but D. says I CANNOT prettify it. Evidently prettified scares off hunters.

It is functional. I have room for at least one, possibly two big work tables. The counter is tall enough and large enough to spread out fabric and comfortably cut it. I have shelves for storage and a refrigerator, microwave, wood stove and the oh, so necessary coffee pot. This just might work!

New oven mitts. You should see the old ones. Yuck.
New oven mitts. You should see the old ones. Yuck.

I did not realize how depressed I was about the lack of space in the guest room. Commendering my son’s bedroom spoiled me for the short time I had it. Evidently I need some SPACE to create.

Gotta go catch up on house work (yuck). Have an awesome week.



Happening this week…

mountainphoto-1446037909474-e2bff6697533As you are reading this, we should be on our way home from a relaxing few days hiding out in a cabin by a river in the Blue Ridge mountains. When we get back life goes into overdrive.¬† “And why?”, you ask. Because we are opening a new business!

A little background.¬† D. is planning to retire next summer.¬† He has spent his career stuck indoors. Torture for a guy who would happily spend 90% of his time outside.¬† Even though he will have his retirement money, it’s not quite enough to cover our current requirements, plus I don’t need him hanging around in my space all day either. So for a couple of years he has been planning his retirement job.¬† It is still indoors, but it is only for a few months.

Ok, don’t go EWWWW when I tell you.

It’s a wildlife meat processing and taxidermy business.¬† I said don’t go EWWWW!¬† He is a hunter, we don’t have a wildlife processor nearby and where we live is a huge hunting area.¬† As in, people come from out of state to hunt here! Yes, I think I will be wearing blaze orange this fall as well as my dogs. There are days it sounds like a war zone around here in the Fall.¬† Anyway, it is only four months out of the year and the rest of the time he can work here on the farm, train horses again and we can travel, etc.

We decided to go ahead and start the business this year because we were able to get the location we wanted for the price we wanted.¬† It’s not pretty, but it is in a prime hunter hangout location.¬† Picture a big, red, metal building.¬† Guess who will be keeping it open and taking orders.¬† Yep, yours truly.¬† NO, I’m not going to cut up deer.¬†¬†I can’t cut up a chicken from the grocery store without getting sick!

What does this mean for me?¬† Well, I’m hoping it will be a good career move.¬† No, not the meat processing, the building.¬† My current workspace is our second guest room which is tiny.¬† I work on several projects at once and need room to spread out. Right now if we have guests, I have to shove everything to one corner then sort it all out again when they leave.¬† It’s just not working for me.

The big, red building has plenty of space for me to work as well as D.  The actual meat processing takes place in a separate cold room so the main part can be mine to spread out in.  Perfect? Not quite, but I think over the long run it can work if we can both make enough money to pay the rent year round which is the plan.

I am also desperately needing some structure to my time and having to work around the business hours will give me that.¬† I can do my work at the same time I am holding down the fort at his business. Right now, I’m still a little lost from not having a second job and get distracted by crazy stuff like laundry and yard work here at the house.

Hopefully next week I can give you a tour of the new workspace.  Have a lovely week!

Photo credit

Young at brain

I started this post early last week then got caught up in several projects we have going on around here and totally and completely forgot to finish it. Ironic considering the title.

When I am NOT forgetting things, I have been TRYING to keep my brain young. This doesn’t mean taking Ginko supplements (though maybe I should!) or doing Suduko (even my best young brain couldn’t do that). ¬†It means I have been trying very hard to not catch myself saying things like, “when I was young we had more sense than that”, or “the world is going to hell in a hand basket” (Just how old IS that saying? Who even knows what a hand basket is anymore).

I remember hating to hear old(er) people rant and rave about the younger generation as if the young uns just invented stupid. Stupid has been around a long time and is not limited to a post baby boomer age group.


So, I have been trying to look at the world through younger eyes and see what is going on out there. I listen to my kids and other young adults I run across to get a perspective that I do not generally glimpse in my everyday life.

In many ways I think the 20 somethings will be smarter in the long run than my generation. They recently watched their parents navigate the Great Recession and are more careful with their money.  At least my kids have realized that McMansions are not the great investment the Baby Boomers thought they were. They are also much more aware of the environmental impact we are wreaking on earth. They live in a global world. My generation at best had a national world or regional world. Our perspective on life in another country may have come from a pen pal you wrote once a month or saw a little of on the nightly news.  I now keep up with numerous people daily all over our amazing dot via Instagram. How freaking cool is that!

I listen to friends complain about how bad, lazy, uninformed, etc. young people are.  First, I remember how utterly boring the news was until I reached the age of tax paying! Second, I have the amazing pleasure of spending one week each year with high school and college age young adults. In that week they repair around seven homes for people who do not have the financial and/or physical ability to make their homes safe, warm and dry. This is done in 90 degree heat and usually involves mud and bugs as well. And unlike many adults they do not complain!  Five straight days of sleeping in a gym, enduring subpar showers, generally not eating as much as they like and NO COMPUTERS. All this is handled with good humor and patience.

From my perspective, if these amazing young people don’t catch the “we have alway done it this way” disease from us, we have hope for the future. They despise our political system and well they should. Our Constitution has been whittled away at by both parties. Hopefully these bright and compassionate up and comers will clean up the mess. ¬†I don’t believe they are as influenced by money and power. ¬†They have seen what it does to society.

Not only do I want to stay young at heart as the years continue to pile up, but I want to stay young at brain. ¬†I don’t want to shut down fresh ideas or not listen to and consider the views of our younger generations. They have such a different world than the one I came into. ¬†I think it is going to fall on their shoulders to save the human race if the current powers that be don’t destroy it first.

Photo by Tyson Dudley

Seeking normal

Hello everyone! I was determined to get a post in this week. Better late than never. Last week we did not have any cell service at the school where we stayed so I could not post anything.

Wedding over. Move over. Mission trip over. Now it is down to finding all my stuff, creating a realistic schedule and settling into a new normal. This week none of that happened. My car has been undergoing repairs the whole month of June. Changing my name has taken a ridiculous amount of time. The garden has required work to get it back in shape after being gone for a week and unexpected farm chores and family/friend visits have slowed down planned projects.  Maybe this IS the new normal!

I did get my work space somewhat workable, found my paints and managed to squeeze in time to do these tiny paintings this week. It’s a start!

First painting in my new home and new life.
First painting in my new home and new life.

Here are some pictures of our life events of the past three weeks.

My bouquet and table arrangements
My bouquet and table arrangements
Our walk in the woods to the ceremony.
Our walk in the woods to the ceremony.
Vows by the lake.
Vows by the lake.
Our simple, vegan wedding cake made by my daughter.
Our simple, vegan wedding cake made by my daughter.
There were threats involved here. It was too hot to have chocolate cake smeared on my face.
There were threats involved here. It was too hot to have chocolate cake smeared on my face.

The ASP mission trip involves a caravan of rented vans to get all of the humans and equipment to our destination.

Our customized ASP van!
Our customized ASP van!

This was my 7th and Danny’s 3rd year on the ASP trip.¬† Each year there is a core group involved who believe in having a good time.¬† Pranks and jokes are daily occurrences.¬† One of the men stated that he laughs more in this one week than he does the rest of the year.¬† This year… well see for yourself.

First night at the center we found this in the hallway.
First night at the center we found this in the hallway.
Can you read the sign? Honeymoon Suite
Can you read the sign? Honeymoon Suite
Who can beat this for honeymoon accommodations???
Who can beat this for honeymoon accommodations???
Our team hard at work on dry wall.
Our team hard at work on dry wall.

We got home Saturday and slept the whole afternoon and most of Sunday as well.¬† There isn’t much rest on ASP.¬† This week I managed to get my office/studio is some sort of working order and just had to get my hands on a paint brush.


If all goes well, I will be back on schedule next week.  For my American readers, I wish you a fun, safe July 4th weekend.