The Gloom and Doom Report

Hi Everyone!

Let me start by saying that I hope life is sunny for you right now. Literally and figuratively it is NOT where I live. If you are looking for an upbeat, perky blog post today then I will warn you now that this is not going to be it. Check back next week to see if things have improved any. 

We are in our 16th week of February with that many weeks of rain. I’m pretty sure that North Carolina has now reached its normal yearly rainfall in the first two months of 2019. We are mildewed, covered in mud and extremely cranky around here. The horses are starting to refuse to leave the barn. One of my dogs has decided he will not need to poop until about June. The chickens are beginning to acquire webbed feet. We briefly saw the sun one day this week and everyone ran outside to soak up a few minutes of vitamin D. I don’t know whether to plant banana trees or seaweed in the garden this year. 

Outside of the weather, life has been equally gloomy. I went Tuesday to say my goodbyes to a dear friend and have been waiting on the call from her family ever since. I think there was a brief moment or two where she realized that I and another friend were there with her. I hope so at least. I desperately wanted her to know that we were there. She lost the ability to speak several weeks ago and struggled to communicate the last time I visited. How frustrating that must be when you need most to say you are in pain or “I love you.” 

After two or three extremely difficult weeks of processing and waiting, I can now mention the fact that my Dad is very sick. He and my Mom have begun to tell people so I can talk about it here. There are more tests ordered, but I’m not sure why. With each test we get more bad news and the fact that cancer has been found in two major areas already doesn’t lend itself to any possibility of much better news.  I only allow myself a few drops at a time to think about the magnitude of change and difficulty that is coming to my family. 

To end the week, I am going today with some other family members to visit another family member that failing fast. I am not yet allowed to discuss it as there are still plans to be decided on, but this is a person who is near and dear and has brought much fun and laughter into our lives and will leave a gaping hole. It’s been a super sucky week. 

I did start another commissioned piece of artwork this week. After we found out about Dad I swore I would not take on another one and add that stress to my life right now, but it’s for a friend and she said there was absolutely no deadline that I have to meet. It’s actually a blessing because when my brain and heart starts thinking too much I can start working on it and the concentration required gives me a little reprieve. I will show you some of it next week. 

I apologize for the gloom and doom, but I just can’t even fake cheerfulness at the moment and I’m not good enough a writer to make up any believable fiction for your enjoyment. Bear with me. Please realize that if my blog posts are not showing up regularly for a while, it’s because we are dealing with the big life stuff. The one bright spot is the impending arrival of my first grandbaby. That little bugger is much needed right now. We NEED a gummy baby smile, burps and poopy diapers and sweet baby smells to replace some of the recent conversations. 

Wishing you a sunshiny, warm and gentle week. 

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Konmari and a big shovel 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are off to a great start this week. Once again I apologize for going MIA last week. It turned out much more hectic and stressful than planned. Every day except one was spent running to appointments. Some days had several. I also visited a dear friend who is in the hospital and she is in pretty bad shape right now. That alone took a toll on me. It’s so hard to see someone you love suffering and not be able to do anything to help. 

So this week I’m trying to catch up on the pile of stuff that should have been done last week. I somehow got a good start on the commissioned drawing. Well, actually that happened in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t a good sleep week either so I have decided that on those nights I’m going to quit laying there trying to solve the world’s problems and quietly do something productive. Luckily drawing is a pretty quiet activity! Here is a sneak peek. 


If you have been reading this crazy blog, you know that I am in a major clean out phase. Unless you have had your head in the sand or like us, don’t watch TV, you have heard about Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix. I know about her because I read her first book several years ago, am reading her second book currently, and it seems like everything I read or watch on YouTube is talking about her right now. Don’t quote me, but I think I saw last week where donations to charities is up by something insane like 336% thank to Ms. Kondo. Last week I helped contribute to that by hauling a stuffed carload of clothes, household items, baby clothes (My babies are 23 and almost 26 years old. It’s past time, don’t ‘cha think! ), books, etc. to a local charity shop.  The hubby has gotten on board and started cleaning out the old tobacco barn which had become the storage unit for broken and unneeded stuff. He took a trailer load of old equipment and I’m afraid to guess what else to the landfill. The two barns are his domain. I have a hands off policy on those. 

I have been doing the 30 day minimalism challenge this month (google it for details, I’m on a time crunch today) so here are my numbers for last week. Decluttered and donated 74 items and trashed 60 items for a total of 133 items. That’s 73 items short of what I needed to do but I still have time this week to meet my 498 items for the month goal. Total items for the month so far is 376!  

If you are a new reader here is the backstory: 1) D. and I got married in 2016 combining 30+ years each of “stuff” that will not fit into his 1300 square foot home thus adding a storage unit to our monthly bills  2) In 2017 his younger sister passed away and her young daughter came to live with us and our already stuffed house became even more crowded. His sister was also the keeper of four generations worth of family stuff and after other family members got what they wanted we were still left with TWO more storage units of stuff to sort through while PAYING FOR. 3) Now we have decided to sell our farm, move back to our hometown and build a slightly larger house. 4) We are NOT GOING TO MOVE ALL THIS STUFF! 

I am doing the challenge to jump start the process as quickly as possible. We will be putting the farm on the market soon and if you have sold a house you know that whole staging and storage thing is a big deal. I am a deadline person also and need the deadline to keep me on track. I appreciate the Konmari method of asking if something “sparks joy”, but frankly I just don’t have the time to be pondering the whole joy thing. I need a timer and a big shovel to get this done! Three weeks in and I still don’t yet see a difference in the house or the storage unit I am currently working on, sooooooo February will be another 30 day challenge. In all likelihood it will continue until the unit is cleared or I have reached burnout and need a new method. 

Are you Konmari-ing your house? Are you watching the show? I would love to have some compadres in this quest for breathing room. Let me know your thoughts and progress. Its lonely out here. Have an awesome week!

The “perfect” Christmas 

Hi Everyone! Hope you are warm and safe and dry. If I have any readers in Alaska, I hope you are safe and suffered minimal damage up there.  This was another week where on Monday I thought to myself, ” I will finish my blog post tomorrow”, which somehow turned into Saturday!  

I have finished the Christmas decorating and been subjected to hours of non-stop Christmas music by Miss L.  As always happens right before or just after Thanksgiving, I began to feel my inner Grinch seep out. This time I decided to stop and get to the bottom of this yearly phenomenon and to POSSIBLY exorcise it once and for all. If you are lucky you won’t have to read about it here next year and maybe I can redeem myself to my kids and future grandkids. Put your seat belts on because I’m down to about 10% of my original filter and have reached the Age of Honesty. This may turn into a series before the season is over.

First, I think somewhere in my lineage there is either Scandinavian or Shaker ancestry. Our modern Christmas is overwhelming to me. Too much stuff, too many lights, people, food, traffic, etc.  I’m pretty sure I can trace that back as far as my teenage years and at heart I am a minimalist that can’t seem to shake (but by George I’m trying) literal and figurative baggage. My idea of decorations for Christmas is a green tree with white lights and white ornaments, white candles on the mantle and some greenery. Boom. Done. Simple. Elegant.  When we get the new house finished  I will probably add a Moravian star on the porch. I have been told more than once that I don’t get the Spirit of Christmas. If it involves the above excess, then I don’t want it. The only Spirit of Christmas I have any desire for is the company of friends and family and the candlelight midnight service at church. 


Second, the expectations of what Christmas “should” be have been blown so out of proportion that there is no wonder people are depressed during the holidays. My parents tell of getting AN ORANGE as their treat for Christmas. My guess is that they savored every bite of that orange. What do we really savor during the frenzy of shopping, cooking, parties, ripping open piles of gifts? How the heck are we supposed to Martha Stewart our way through the holidays with a spotless house, hundreds of cards mailed, perfect hair, gourmet home cooked goodies and angelic (though sugared up) children? It’s a myth people. Concocted by marketers who each year are expected to out tear jerk last year’s Christmas advertising. I spent my whole career in advertising, marketing and retail. That is where Grinches are born! 

Gifts. In my perfect Christmas there would be no gift giving. The financial burden and stress that this causes so many people every year is the antithesis of what Christmas should be about. Gifts should be given spontaneously during the year and only to show thoughtfulness and true affection or appreciation. I can tell you that in my years as a young parent and later as a single parent, the cost of trying to gift everyone at one time AND make them HAPPY was nothing short of a horrendous burden. I worked two jobs for years just to pay the bills and tried to squirrel away money all year long just to try to have enough to buy gifts for my kids that would come close to what their friends would get so they would not feel different THEN prayed my car didn’t break down or an appliance quit on me and I would have to spend the Christmas money. 

Pay attention to the people in your circle. Is there someone who gets sick or has a conflict with that party every year where a $25 gift AND food is expected to be brought? Do they “conveniently” miss the meeting where everyone is expected to pitch in for the bosses’ gift? Do they “forget” that they needed to bring items for underprivileged children? Guess what. They are struggling to keep THEIR kids’ names off that Christmas tree! People, give up the gift and money expectations. Do what you can and leave everyone else to do what they can…AND DONT GOSSIP ABOUT THEM. They are losing precious sleep wondering how they are going to DO Christmas AND pay the freakin’ power bill. If you can’t understand why someone isn’t out fighting Black Friday crowds or throwing lots of Christmas Spirit money in every charity  pot that gets passed around, then appreciate how blessed you are not to be counting every quarter and give some grace to those who have to. When I say “grace” I don’t mean a handout. I mean understanding. Understanding that people deal with many different challenges during the Christmas season. Depression and grief don’t leave much room for joyous shopping or giving. Caregiving can suck the lifeblood out of others. Single parents deal with financial burdens, social stigmas and loneliness during the holidays. The Christmas Spirit should be giving understanding, support and non-judgement instead of expecting Starbucks cards, extravagant gifts and constant holiday enthusiasm. 

I practice the Christian faith, the teachings of Jesus Christ, who didn’t do much of anything that was a societal norm. He was born in a dirty barn. The only ones who brought him gifts were three wealthy men. The shepherds and the Angels simply worshipped a miraculous birth and savored the moment. That was the perfect Christmas. 

Wishing you a week of miracles. 

Percolating 

Hi Everyone! 

It has been a few weeks, but I finally made it back. Brace yourselves, this is probably going to be a long one. I hope all is well in your world! For my own well being I limit the amount of news that I let into my life, but I know that the turmoil and tragedies seem to be running rampant right now. More and more of my prayers are for healing and peace for our world and  earth as well as individuals. 

So on to fun stuff. Even though our crowd was smaller and the weather a bit damper than last year, we still had an enjoyable family gathering at our annual chicken stew.  Our menagerie of animals is always a draw and the highlight of the day (other than good food) is horseback rides for the kids and any willing adults.  We alway enjoy watching the kids who have never been on a horse before. Often they start out with a level of fear that quickly turns to sheer delight. We had that experience with three of the young cousins this time. So. Much. Fun.  


Spark Plug the donkey surprised me immensely. Normally he is a bit standoffish with new people, but he was absolutely Mr. Friendly with the kids. 


The following weekend we headed South to attend my daughter and son-in-law’s gender reveal party. Normally we stay with them when we visit, but with boatloads of family in town we rented the cutest little Airbnb Tiny House. I have been in love with the tiny house movement since it started and have often tried to imagine if I could live in one. I think they are one of the most creative ways people have come up with to avoid outrageous mortgage debt as well as have a very portable living space. These are pictures of where we stayed. The wooded lot made it feel like we were secluded from all the city around us. The huge window…I NEED one!


To answer the question of whether I could live in a tiny house, well, that is a yes and a no. Could I live in a 256 square foot space with a husband and a 12 year old?  Only in a survival situation!  The husband has long legs that get in the way and the 12 year old has too much energy as well as the family trait of loving to climb in high places. Could I live in a tiny house alone or with a dog? Absolutely! I might need a separate one for my art supplies though. 

The gender reveal revealed that it’s a GRANDSON on the way! I didn’t care one way or the other. And though I worry about this crazy world he’s entering, I am still looking forward to meeting him and finally getting to spoil a kid instead of the often difficult job of parenting. 


Behind the scene of all these events, something has been percolating since mid-summer, but was not defined or solidified enough for me to reveal. Hopefully the rudimentary plans have us going in the right direction and will eventually come together and hopefully on time. 

D. and I began to realize that our house really isn’t big enough now that we have another person living here full time and that I really need a work space. We aren’t in a tiny house but our house is smaller than most. We had talked about adding on, but there were some problems with that. Then we started talking about selling our place and buying another one nearby with more house, but more and more often I have been spending hours and hours on the road driving family members to appointments and the distance that we are away from everything was taking a toll.  I’m looking a several more years of taxi driving. Then my daughter announced her pregnancy and I began to remember how hard it was traveling from Virginia to North Carolina with babies in tow and knew it would be an ordeal for them to get up here to visit when most of the other family was in another area. 

To make months of discussions short, we have decided to move back to the community that D., myself and Miss L. are all from and build a house on my family’s farm. Yes, evidently my gypsy soul has one more move in her (this will be move #4 in 6 years when it’s all said and done). 

When we finally circled around to the idea, we realized that it solves several problems. We can get the size house we need, I will cut half of my taxi travel time, we will be closer to our church, we will be right there to help my family with maintaining the farm, there to help my parents, MUCH closer to all our kids and grandkids and Miss L. should be able to start high school with friends she had to leave. Whew!

Now the logistics of pulling this off are pretty daunting to me right now. I hate selling a house, much less a small farm. Trying to deal with showing a house and keep it spotless in our situation honestly makes me nauseous. It was bad enough when I did it with two kids and a dog in a suburban neighborhood. I’m wondering if we could actually live in a tiny house or RV long enough to sell the place so that it would stay show worthy clean. 

We also have to clear a good bit of land on the farm for a house, barn and minimum of three acres of pasture for the horses and donkey. Folks, where we are seriously considering has a good covering of kudzu. If you know about that %#*& stuff then you know what we are facing. Let’s just say that a herd of goats is in our very near future.  We have road frontage and hopefully a usable well already there. Our other option would require a driveway that would cost almost as much as the house and drill a well. Not easy options.  

That is our big news. Our intended timeline is the summer of 2020. I am simultaneously looking forward to this and dreading it.  Expect to see pictures of me wielding a chainsaw soon! It’s a beautiful place as these pictures I took Sunday on our walk around the place will show and it’s where I played and worked my entire childhood. Many memories bubbled up during our recent walks and I look forward to showing that new grandson this special place. 


Have an awesome week!

Rhythm & Routine

Hi Everyone!

Yes, I’m back and hopefully will be back on my weekly schedule now. No guarantees, but the near future looks promising!

I had a lovely visit with my daughter and son-in-law last week. I will fill in details of their visit next week, but it also included getting a brief visit with my son who was house and pet sitting for my sister and brother-in-law. I have to squeeze in every opportunity since they do not live close. 

Summer is winding down here. This morning the air had a hint of Fall. I am NEVER ready for cold weather so I am trying to soak in all the heat I can. Yes, people think I’m crazy, but it is not unusual for me to be wearing a long sleeve shirt in the air conditioning. 

School starts back in two weeks. Woo hoo! I am ready to get back into a routine around here. Miss L. cannot complaint about her summer. I’m pretty sure she has only spent a total of three weeks at home. After next week, one month. We have packed, unpacked and packed again. 

Speaking of routine, I thought I would share some info that might help some of you out there. I feel like I blab every week about the crazy stuff out here and bless you, you keep reading. But in the spirit of giving and sharing I really should pass along useful stuff occasionally.

By nature I am an organized person though it might not always look like it to the causal observer. There are times life is organized chaos. When I moved out here to The Middle of Nowhere in 2016 I left a totally different life that I had lived for almost 20 years. I had virtually every convenience within a ten minute drive. I had daily interaction with other human beings. Now I have moved many times over the years, but this move was not just a location change, but a lifestyle change. One that I had no way of preparing for. The nearest grocery store is now a 30 minute drive. I now go DAYS where I only have the company of my husband, niece and various and assorted animals of the domesticated and wild variety. Let’s just say that the transition has not necessarily been easy or pleasant all the time.

For two winters now I have struggled through my usual winter blues but with the addition of a lack of routine that left me unmotivated and rather disheveled. Winter One I was just out of my element and hadn’t found my rhythm yet. Winter Two was spent recovering from the high level stress of eight months of a family crisis. My almost daily uniform consisted of yoga pants and a t shirt or pjs. I work from home and just couldn’t find the motivation to get properly dressed unless I had to go out in the world. Add to this state of affairs, Winter One, D. and I had combined 30 years of household stuff and were sorting out what to keep and what to get rid of, then Winter Two we were buried in family stuff that landed on us in literally trailer loads. It was all just freaking overwhelming and depressing! 

Blessed Summer 2018! Spring always makes me happy and this year as the rhythm of the season settled into my bones, I started to make some progress out of the confusion.  My first hour of work has been in the garden and with the animals each day. The sunlight and sounds of just nature and the company of goofy, loveable critters has been wonderful. It has been slow progress, but the house is beginning to rid itself of boxes and piles. The yard, though fringed along the outskirts with weeds from the over abundance of rain, does not have the look of a jungle that it did last summer when we barely had time to eat or clean. I no longer want to cry when I pull into the driveway. 


I have begun to find a routine again for the domestic affairs that have to happen daily and my biggest goal is to get regular hours for my artwork once school is back in and the garden is put to bed or at least down to manageable Fall levels. If you happen to be in the Land Of Overwhelmed, let me suggest the Flylady.net website. YEARS ago I found her when I was juggling a family business, four bedroom house and yard and two non-stop kids. She had a manageable and sensible way to keep house that my ADD squirrel brain could handle. I did not osmosis the domestic gene from my Mom because I much preferred to help my Dad with the outside chores. I needed help. I never got all the routines down pat, but learned enough to keep house reasonably well. 

Recently I found both “A Better Life With Flylady Kat” and “Diane In Denmark” on YouTube that refreshed my memory about the routines and I am back on board. I have only been at it for two weeks but can already see a difference in the house and my schedule and my squirrel brain. The two HUGE boxes of paperwork that piled up last year is cut in half and I will soon have all that filed and put away.  I suggest watching Kat for very detailed instructions on how the system work and Diane if you need some wardrobe improvement (I will not ever be as well dressed as she is, but I have upped my game to decent shorts, tshirt, mascara and earrings!) and want to see what life is like in Denmark. 


One more important tool for Life Reboot is my new planner from my daughter and SIL. I needed to go back to paper and they did so good. It’s cute but not too froufrou and has STICKERS. It makes those daily lists much more fun. 

Ok, there are my tips for the week. I have to get going and finish laundry and tomato canning today. Get out of the grungy sweatpants and rock your week! 

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. 

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 not the years

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to Spring if you are on the Northern Hemisphere. Actually it doesn’t feel like Spring here at all. Currently it is snowing and there is yet another three hour delay for school. I’m very glad I got more honey to my bees on Monday because there are not may good days for them to get out and forage for the next couple of weeks. 

I have finally started some new artwork but will have to wait until next week to get photos. There were plans to get new work in my Etsy store, but there were delays in getting the scans done. Today there will be delays on several projects thanks to the snow and school delay. Sigh. Dang, just got notice that school is now closed. Our Northern friends would die laughing at what these kids get out of school for around here. 

Last week was tough. We had two funerals. 

The first was for our beloved Muffin kitten (aka The Muffinator). Muffin was born Feline Leukemia positive. We think her Mom, Sweetie Pie, has probably overcome the disease now but we haven’t had her tested yet to find out for sure. Muffin was the only survivor in the litter. 

Muffin never got bigger than 3.5 lbs in her 5 months and 6 days of life, but no one told her she was tiny. She came into this world full of curiosity and spunk. She would stand in the barn and never flinch as the horses stepped over her. One of her favorite places to play was in our biggest horse’s stall…while he was in it!  She loved to chase our chickens who were about four times her size. She was so tiny that she could squeeze between the wire to get into the run while I was cleaning the coop and hunt chickens. She went into the bee yard with me and swatted bees. 



We were constantly vigilant about Muffin’s whereabouts because she was always living life on the edge AND she was the perfect snack size for much of the wildlife around here. Every time we heard a hawk we ran to find Muffin and put her in her kitty condo to keep her safe. D. often stuck her in his coat pocket while he was working because she had no fear of power tools and thought nothing of playing right beside a running skil saw! 

When we found out that Muffin had Feline Leukemia we did not tell Miss L. but decided to give the little rascal the best life we could for as long as she had. The vet had suggested putting her to sleep right away. I no longer see that vet. What the vet didn’t know was that this kitten had this great big heart to go along with her great big bravery.  When we let her out of her condo everyday she didn’t run off to play. Instead she jumped into your arms, crawled onto your shoulder and sat there and purred. Her first choice always, was to be held and played with. She was perfectly content in a coat pocket or the hoodie of your sweatshirt or riding on your shoulder.  She often rode with me to pick up Miss L. from school and did so sitting on my shoulder watching the world go by. 

Last week we noticed Muffin getting thin and Miss L. reported that she wasn’t eating. D. noticed she was coughing. On Friday I called the vet for an appointment. They could work her in after I picked up Miss L. I then had to tell Miss L. about Muffin’s disease and to be prepared for the worst.  After x-rays the vet showed me what was going on. Muffin’s little body was full of one, probably two large masses that were taking up 3/4 of her tiny body. She couldn’t eat and was struggling to breathe because the tumors were so big. Even her tiny heart was being pushed out of place. We had no choice about what to do. I called D. and he drove over as Miss L. and sat and cried and loved on The Muffinator.  We were all there with her to the end.

This little ball of fluff gave us so much love, fun and laughter in her short life.  When she was born we were going through one of the most stressful times of any of our lives. She was the bright spot in the dark. She made even non-cat loving folks love her. Muffin will be missed for a long time. 

Our second funeral was for John S.  John was eighty-three and grew up with my Dad. John was a farmer and a barber and also my and D.’s very first employer. We went to work for him and his wife in their tobacco fields at the ripe old age of 11 for me and 12 for D.  We both have many good memories of the summers we worked for them. It was hard, hot work, but there was much laughter and looking back, life instructions.  We are glad that we went by to visit with them about a year ago. John had already had a stroke and wasn’t doing great. D.’s Dad died when he was thirteen years old. John became a second Father to him. John was a very humble man with a big heart and huge work ethic.  I can see those same traits in D. 

The funeral was probably one of the warmest and truest I have ever attended. Each family member spoke, including John’s wife of 63 years as well as friends in attendance.  I also don’t think I have ever been to a funeral with so many men moved to tears. Many, many friendships were made while sitting in John’s barber chair.  I can remember going with my Dad and listening to the men discuss life over haircuts. 

I have pondered these two recent funerals quite a bit this week.  You can focus on work, stuff, impressing people, etc., but in the end what do you leave?  It isn’t how long you lived or how big your house is or how impressive your job is that matters.  A five month old kitten and an eighty-three year old man left the same legacy.  The people they left behind knew without a shadow of a doubt that they were loved. 

Regeneration

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!

The Untangler

Hi Everyone,

Hope you are well and all is right in your world today.  I made the Executive Decision (I’m self-employed so I get to do that) on Thursday to take next week off to, well, get Christmas stuff done and take a little break. The week before and after Christmas are always my slowest of the year anyway. I did have to wrap up a couple of projects first thus the delay in this week’s post and the fact that the pictures I wanted to upload just won’t.

Today’s subject is something I have been pondering for about two and a half months now.  It started purcolating in my little brain while D. and I were at the beach in October.  He was wanting to go fishing, but had a big, tangled mess of fishing line. After a few minutes of watching his frustration in trying to untangle the mess, I took it, sent him off to make lunch and in about 15 minutes presented him with the separate pieces of line. It reminded me of my early years in retail where the jewelry department would bring me boxes of tangled up necklaces to sort out on slow nights back in my area of the home shop. I seemed to be the only one with the patience to work at the mess until each piece was free. Little did I know that this tiny talent would be tested time and time again.


If you have the blessing of several decades under your belt, I’m sure you have recognized patterns and recurring themes in your life. If you are early in your journey on this earth maybe not, but if you pay attention, you will too. One of mine is The Untangler evidently. Physically and metaphorically. 

In my recent middle-of-the-night knitting sessions I realized that as I made hundreds of little loops to create a garment, my brain was tediously un-looping one problem after another in this tangled up mess that is my late sister-in-law’s estate. I also realized that over the years I have been given the task OR had forced upon me the task of straightening out  messes of increasing complication and they were usually created by OTHER PEOPLE. I have made my share of messes all by myself but either they were not so bad or I’m more proficient at fixing my own messes. 
As I knitted I tried to think of the names I would give to the subtle talents of other people I know. These would be people I know very well because these are not obvious talents nor are they the professions of these folks though elements may be involved. The Healer would be one of the first. Not doctors or nurses, but those glorious people who, through the almost lost art of listening and attention, help you heal from life’s wounds. The Connector would be another. They know EVERYONE and make mental connections that bring different people together to accomplish goals, big and little. There is The Mediator that has probably been helping their people work out differences since the first playground incident. The Warrior comes in to decide and end a dispute The Mediator has given up on. I haven’t seen an abundance of The Warriors, which is good, not because they are bad people, but because to end a battle there is often a high personal and emotional price for The Warrior to pay just like in any war. 

This brings up another observation. These ingrained “gifts” are not chosen and are often a source of high stress. For me to untangle a big mess takes enormous energy, time and frustration. Time away from what I want and need to be doing and looking at the list above I think that would be true in each category. To live as a society and it could be argued, to even survive as humans we need each and every one of these abilities as well as any I have not mentioned.  I guess we should look at them as a part of our contribution for life on planet Earth. 

Have a wonderful week and bless you for THE GIFTS you bring to ease the difficulties of humankind. 

Photo credit…if one shows up its mine but there seems to be an uploading issue today. I gave up waiting on it to load.