Simple

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

 

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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.

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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.

A Wedding and Other Life Events

One week ago today this happened!


I will have to post more photos later because my photographer (also known as my son) has not finished editing them.  Everything went as planned except for the 95 degree weather that kept us under the pavilion most of the time.  It was relaxed and stress free with some quality family time that we don’t get all that often.

Now the wedding and the move is behind us. This coming week we will be on our annual mission trip with Appalachia Service Project.  I will try to at least post some photos from there but if you don’t hear from me then we did not have cell service. 

After ASP we are looking forward to life settling into some sort of normal. I am itching to get back in my studio and make things. It is summer so here the garden will be taking up some time unless the rabbits and lack of rain finish it off early while we are gone. Here is some of the summer beauty happening  at the moment.


You get short and sweet today.  We have had a week filled with paperwork and now packing. If I don’t get back here next week, I hope you have a wonderful couple of weeks.  

She tells it like it is.

Since our last visit we had a major snowstorm. Well, major for my part of the world anyway. Five to six inches.  Everything came to a halt and it gave me enough time to read a book that I have had on hold for months with our digital library. Big Magic

If you haven’t heard of Elizabeth Gilbert, she wrote Eat, Pray, Love, and it was on the Best Seller list for ages.  That was my introduction to her and I have read the book twice.  The first time I read it I was smack dab in the middle of a divorce and single parenthood and still working with my ex in our business.  Life was not particularly good and I found an escape with Eat, Pray, Love.  I was not in a place where I could up and travel the world to recover from a bad life situation, but I darn sure wanted to! I read EPL again a few years later when the dust had settled and still loved the book.  I think it is Elizabeth’s honesty that I relish and found the same honesty in Big Magic.

You can also see Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talks on YouTube as well as an interview on Marie Forleo’s, Marie TV, YouTube station. Oh, and as a side note…I do not have any affilates with Amazon or anyone else for that matter. Now back to our regularly scheduled post.

If you need/want some honest advice about what it takes to live a “creative life” read Big Magic.  Ms. Gilbert has the street cred to give it. She doesn’t tell you to quit the day job and live your passion.  Instead she tells you to wait tables or make coffee. Not what most people want to hear. She also has a charming name for the not so great stuff that comes with life and how to decide just how badly you want to follow your dream. It is a short read, but packed with practical, down-to-earth advice.

One side note from personal experience…don’t go into a creative day job thinking it will be helpful in your creative after hours pursuits or close enough to your dream job to be fulfilling.  From someone who has done and is still doing it, eight hours of being creative for someone else doesn’t leave much left after dinner is cooked and the kids are in bed.  Some folks are made of hardier stuff than I am and can pull it out after all that, but I am pretty much at the zombie stage by 7 pm.  Wait tables or make coffee if painting, music, writing, etc. is coursing through your veins.

“Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures

that are hidden within you?”

After my major downsizing purge a few years ago and having hauled nine boxes full of books to donate to our library, I am very particular about what hard copy books come to live with me.  I try them out first from the digital library.  Big Magic was worth the wait and is now sitting on my wish list on Amazon. It will reside beside EPL in my office and I foresee frequent return visits when not-so-creative frustration sets in.

My plan was to give you an update on what I have been doing lately, but I got a little carried away here and suspect you are ready to move on to other things in your day. Remember hand dyeing, kitchen cabinets and invitations for next time.

Have a lovely week!

Our apple adventure

Yes, this week I am officially late getting my post done.  If I can survive October, possibly November will be a tiny bit less busy.  My design/print work has been steady this month, there has been all the work at the farm trying to get ready for winter and home improvement projects going on as we gear up for remodeling Danny’s house. After weeks of non-stop work, including Sundays which is normally my true day of rest, Danny and I decided we needed to have a day off.  We had a wonderful second annual chicken stew with his family, but the preparation wore us out.

When we started out with our garden a couple of years ago we decided we wanted to keep it organic and as much as possible use heirloom varieties of plants.  There is an unused pasture on the farm that has been designated as the new orchard.  Danny went online to research heirloom apples and came across Big Horse Creek Farm here in North Carolina.  He decided to order several varieties of apple trees from them.  They can ship the trees, but since we were less than two hours away we decided to pick them up instead.  Easier said than done!  Ron and Suzanne usually have their trees at the West Jefferson Farmers Market on Saturdays.  We haven’t had a free Saturday in months and Danny works every other Saturday.  We asked if we could pick them up at the farm and they told us they had a very difficult driveway to navigate.  Danny assured them that his Ford 250 was up for the challenge and after a few more emails to coordinate times we had a plan.

That is the back story of what turned out to be a wonderful day off this week. Our plan was to head out Wednesday morning to West Jefferson and check out the town. Neither of us had been there before.  We like exploring antique/junk shops so we stopped along the way to poke through all sorts of antiques, pretend antiques (you gotta watch out for those) and just plain old junk.  Fiberglass surf boards sitting in a NC mountain town “antique” store look very odd.

Next we had lunch at a restaurant in West Jefferson that had some good reviews (Boondocks Brewing).  There is a well known restaurant called Shatley Springs that we considered, but most of our home cooking is the same type of food so we wanted something different. Then it was time to head out to the Big Horse Creek Farm.

When Suzanne said their driveway was difficult, this is what she meant.

This is the bottom of Ron and Suzanne's driveway where we decided to go into four wheel drive.
This is the bottom of Ron and Suzanne’s driveway where we decided to go into four wheel drive.

One and half miles, up the mountain.  We took it in four wheel drive all the way up and all the way back down later.  Danny loved it.  The drive was well worth it for the view and the chance to meet the Joyners.  I don’t think we would have had the opportunity to get to know them if we had picked up the trees at the farmers market.

Ron's observatory
Ron’s observatory

Notice that small structure with the domed top. My first thought was “that looks like an observatory” and yes, it is Ron’s observatory.  Suzanne told us that they have virtually no light pollution up there and can only see three distant lights at night so it is perfect for Ron’s astrophotography. You can see some of his photos on their Big Horse Creek Farm Facebook page.

Then I noticed their solar panels.  I hope eventually we can add solar power to the farm so I asked about those and Ron and Suzanne have been completely off grid since 1997 (correct me if my memory is wrong, Suzanne).  No power runs up the side of that mountain. They also have a wind generator.

IMG_2602This is the view over their orchards so the panels have a perfect south facing open area.  I would never get tired of looking at those mountains.

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After that we talked about how they built their home and the other structures on the property themselves, chickens, deer hunting, gardening, collards and crowder peas.  I think the topic we discussed the least was apple trees!  It was a lovely visit and we might have to add on to our orchard to have an excuse to go visit again. Here is the link to their website, Big Horse Creek Farm.

Our original plan was to pick up the trees then head back to Danny’s, saddle up Christy and Bob for an afternoon of horseback riding.  We spent so much time with Suzanne and Ron that we did not have enough time left to get back and ride so we decided to explore the back roads of God’s country.  I have been blessed to visit most of this country and there are many beautiful places, but this area is the only one that I have found that I would up and move to in a heartbeat.  Here is an old farm house we drove by in our travels.

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What a gorgeous Fall day to explore.  My only advice is to plan a trip, but don’t stick to the plans too tightly.  You never know who you might meet or what you might see that will be worth spending extra time with.

Wishing you a wonderful, adventurous week!

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/33721019@N00/1593122120″>mellow fruitfullness #1</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;