Almost there

Hi Everyone,

I hope you have had a good week. It has been pleasantly uneventful here. Oh, other than an escaped chicken (one of our young ones) that got eaten by a hawk. It’s a full time job keeping chickens alive around here! We thought we had all the holes covered that the little ones could escape from, but two found a way out. Luckily we arrived back home in time to rescue one of them, but the hawk had already gotten the other one. It’s depressing when these things happen. 

I’m going to keep it short and sweet this week. I have a pile of veggies to freeze and tomorrow is a major tomato canning day. Tonight is open house at the school and Thursday is “finish school shopping” day as well as some medical appointments. Friday is a major grocery shopping day. In other words, time is short this week.

If you read last week’s post you know I have been setting up routines and doing a now, three week long over the top, home and yard cleanup. All this has been in prep for next week when school starts back. I’m trying to lay the groundwork for a real schedule this year. A much needed scheduled. A “the housework isn’t done” guilt free schedule! 

I think my hard work has paid off.  There isn’t much left on the house other than some big remodeling projects and repairs that will happen in small increments. The yard will be getting a major overhaul this coming month for our annual family chicken stew, so I will have help with that. My goal is to finally have 20-25 hours a week to get back to my artwork and a little side job that brings in some cash flow.  I am also preparing those people that I live with to NOT find projects in my coveted time slot. In all the hours available in a week, I don’t think 25 hours is too much to ask especially considering I am a much more pleasant person to live with if you DON’T mess with my time. I will keep you updated on how this goes. 

Have a great week and stay on schedule!

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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. 

Watching paint dry

Hi Everyone,

How is your week going? Is it rainy like ours is? Rainy as in you need to build an ark like our is? While I was walking the dogs this morning I noticed that our fire pit area is beginning to take on a jungle like demeanor. It will take more than my wimpy weed eater to return it to some form of order. Considering how far behind we are with our garden it may be a full blown jungle by the time we turn our attention that way. Oh well, I would hate for us to run out of things to do around here.

So what am I up to this week you ask? Exciting stuff. Watching paint dry. Seriously. 

This is going to be short and sweet today, because I am experimenting with some unusual possible canvases that I have a ton of and need to use in some way instead of them going to the landfill.  If you have read this blog for awhile you know I hate to waste anything or add to the already horrible environmental mess we have. If this works hopefully I will do a reveal next week.

The portraits are finished but my schedule and the clients’ schedule have not meshed yet so we wait.

I have also been playing with using some old books for the paper and as a journal. More stuff I am trying to save from the landfill. 


And I am going through my artwork stash to see what can be saved, improved upon or just needs to go…to the landfill. Some things you just can’t save and I have some BAD pieces of art that should never see the light of day again. Most I just need to spend some more time on and they will probably have a future. 


On the home front we cleaned out the fourth barn stall that had become “the storage stall”. Not a job we wanted to do but now that we have the trainee horse, he needed a place to eat that Big Bad Bob couldn’t get to. Walker needs some weight. Bob, not so much.  Other than that it’s been fairly quiet here. Miss L. is down to the last few weeks of school. If it stops raining we will be in high garden mode. I’m almost finished with the process of closing my design business. 

I’m going to go check my paint. I hope you have more excitement this week than I have right now! 

Dinah and the new guy

Hi Everyone,

I hope you have had a great week so far. I am running a couple of days behind and will give my explanation/excuses below. I do want to welcome the new readers here. I don’t know how you found me, but there have been several new subscribers that have joined recently. Welcome to The House of Weird (as our niece, Miss L., calls our humble home and farm). 

Let’s see. What has happened here since last week? I am still working on the two portrait commissions but am very close to being done. This week has been very rainy so I have gotten in more drawing time than expected and hope to finish them up this weekend. Cross your fingers that I can and then will have something artsy to show finally. 

Did I show you my iris sketch last week? It sold after I posted it on Instagram and Facebook and now lives with my cousin, Amanda. Amanda and I haven’t seen each other in literally decades, but keep up via Facebook. Part of the joy of creating stuff is when those creations spark an emotion  in someone else and go to live with them.  Artists/makers can’t possibly keep everything they make and normally they don’t want to. Our love is for the process and expression. We would also have to add whole rooms to our homes to keep all of the art unless you do digital work, then you need a boatload of memory.


I also had some family stress going on and needed to focus on something brainless for awhile. I gathered some scrap paper and paint for a little art therapy. I just pushed paint around for about an hour and felt much better. Try it some time when life is a little too lifey. No talent necessary. Pretend you are 4 years old again. It’s good stuff.


Speaking of family stress, you know how there is virtually always one relative that drives everyone in the family nuts? You are pretty much stuck because they are a relative and just have to endure through the family gatherings or grit your teeth on a daily basis if crazy Aunt Edith comes to live with you?  Our highly irritating relative is Dinah.


Yes, Dinah is a dog. Dinah was part of the package, along with Sweetie Pie the cat, that came along with Miss L. to live with us last year.  Miss L. and Sweetie Pie we love. Dinah, not so much. Ok, Miss L. loves her which is the ONLY reason she STILL resides here. Yes, I know, she looks cute and adorable. Trust me, it’s a very clever disguise. Underneath that mop of hair and big ears is a Great Dane size dog with serious personality issues.

I grudgingly give Dinah respect for the fact that this little less than 10 pound dog lived her first three years of life outside in all kinds of weather and probably survived more than one attempt on her life and virtue by passing coyotes and other dogs.  She evidently developed the survival skill of being MEANER than any creature that came near her. In those three years she never got eaten or pregnant! Gotta respect that!

Fast forward to this week. Dinah now lives a cushy life indoors with temperature controlled environment, gets two good meals a day, regular walks, has her own fluffy pillow for a bed and has her own toys. Has this helped her attitude? Not. One. Bit.  Everyday starts out with her high pitched squeak bouncing beside me and often her bouncing off my leg as I attempt to divide out the food into three dog bowl. My two canine sons are patiently and quietly sitting and waiting for theirs. I won’t bore you with the ordeal of trying to get her to do her business outside when Her Majesty’s little feet get wet. After that the fun begins.

Dinah only likes one person on this entire earth and that is Miss L.  Dinah’s purpose on this earth is evidently only to protect Miss L.  Endlessly throughout the day when Miss L. is in the house, Dinah snarls and growls at anyone who gets within five feet of Miss L.  Then, heaven help, should any car, horse, dog or bird get within a quarter mile of Miss L. outside, Dinah proceeds to commence barking the most ear piercing bark God ever bestowed upon a canine.  Luckily Miss L. goes to school and Dinah retreats to her lair for most of the school day or I would have lost my mind months ago. 

In spite of the fact that her life has VASTLY improved, Dinah’s attitude has been steadily declining and escalated into her biting D. one morning this week when he just went to Miss L.’s door to wake her up for school. She has a tiny mouth and he had jeans on, but Dinah is now on serious probation and we are in search of a way to adjust her attitude dramatically. How the heck can one little dog cause soooo much drama and stress?  If you have any recommendations PLEASE let me know! I have had dogs my entire life and never had this kind of bad juju from any of them. 

Now, if three dogs, one cat, three horses, 30,000 bees and one middle school age girl were not enough fun and excitement in our lives, D. took on a horse to train.  My husband has been training horses for most of his life, but hasn’t taken on any for several years due to a recession, military deployment and the stress of marrying a crazy artist lady. Yesterday Walker arrived.


Yes, Walker. A Tennessee Walker. How’s that for creative naming? Seriously? Anyway, Walker will probably be with us for about three months. He needs to put on some weight and needs some personal grooming, but seems to have a sweet personality. I predict that unless something weird happens, Walker will leave here one more handsome, gentle, super rider friendly horse and then his brother will be coming here.  Do keep in mind that the “something weird” statement comes after Walker jumped over and out of our round pen last night. I hope my pitiful horse wrangling skills don’t get tested! Never a dull moment at The House of Weird!

I almost forgot. I fixed my necklace that I talked about last week. I’m so happy I can wear it again. It’s the little things, you know. 


Flowers in the cover photo were sent to me for Mother’s Day from my sweet daughter and they are beautiful!

That’s all the crazy for this week. 
Have a fun filled weekend!

Fixin’ it

Hi Everyone,

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


 

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

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. 

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 bodybynutrition.com. 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!

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! 

A patchwork of things

Hi Everyone!

I hope all is well in your world.  We have a little touch of Fall in the air today but are in great need of rain as you can tell by this photo of my car.  We live on a dirt road. Washing my poor car will not help right now.  dirty car

It has been another non-stop week and my brain is tired, but I will try to share what I can.

I finally finished my dress last week.  Pictures will come later, but the pattern is called the Fen Dress by Fancy Tiger Crafts and I absolutely loved how it turned out.  If I had realized how simple the pattern was I would have finished it during one of my insomnia nights. There will be more made. Next one will be in a plaid flannel I think for winter.

Knitting has been my sanity saver the past few months since I do not have the time or space to drag out my paints.  Here is my next luscious skein of yarn for my next pair of socks.  yarnThis hand dyed yarn is from On The Round in Maine.

Next week should be slower and I plan to possibly finish my daughter’s logo for her blog, Body By Nutrition, then start on a drawing commission.

In the never-ending process of cleaning out three, sometimes four, generations of stuff from my husband’s family I have discovered what talented ladies his Mother and Grandmother were.¬† Both were excellent seamstresses who made most of their own clothes as well as their family’s.

I think there is a future post on all those unfinished projects we crafty/artsy folk have laying around and tucked into corners of closets.¬† Here are a couple that I found.¬† I think the finished star was made by D’s Grandmother and the partially pieced one made by his Mother.¬† I found the lovely old needle case in with some of these.¬† It contains all sizes of needles including old, tiny beading needles.¬†¬†patchwork

Hopefully in the not so far future, I can finish the quilt squares.  There are not enough for a quilt (unless I unearth some more), but probably some pillow tops for the family.

In other news, those of you who know Miss L. will notice her sporting new glasses soon.¬† She had mentioned she lost some glasses this past winter.¬† I don’t know what made me schedule her an eye appointment before other doctor appointments that she needs since she never complained about headaches or difficulty seeing, but I did.¬† Boy, am I glad.¬† She has 20/300 vision!¬† The doctor made her pinky swear that she will wear her glasses all the time in an attempt to correct her vision at least to a better point than where she is.¬† Seems there is a limited age range where this particular problem can be corrected and she is right at that limit.¬† So if you see her without them on…remind her! Those pinky swears are serious stuff!

I gotta go get some more work done.  I have no affiliate advertising on this blog.  Any businesses mentioned here I share in case you want to check them out.

Have an awesome week!  I will be MIA next week.  We are escaping for some much needed R&R to a secret location.  All I can tell you is that there is an ocean nearby. YEAH!

 

Photos by Christel Huttar

Stuff

Hi Everyone!

I hope you have had an excellent week.  We are still thinking of all those folks in Texas cleaning up from Hurricane Harvey and now are watching Hurricane Irma starting to roll in.  Both of my kids are at the coast and we are putting together supplies here in case we need to have another evacuation hurricane party like we did last year during Matthew.  Mother Nature does not cooperate with life plans and I feel for all the people who are trying to decide what moves to make to protect lives and property.

Once again I can’t say that this week has included much artwork or creativity for that matter.¬† I did ship a print to Australia yesterday.¬† That was fun.¬† Guess I’m officially an international artist now (I hope you heard the chuckle I made typing that).

What I have been doing is sorting through yet more and more boxes from my SIL’s estate.¬† Much of it also comes from my husband’s Mother and his grandparents and even great-grandparents.¬† Where probably 75% has been general current clothes and household items the other 25% has been some vintage and antiques items that have been interesting to find.¬† I thought I would include some photos of what is currently laying around my house as we decide what to do with all of this STUFF.

I would hate for you to miss out on my other pile of STUFF…the peas that are begging to be shelled and canned.¬† This may be the first year EVER that I have looked forward to winter!

IMG-4838

Wishing you a great week.  Stay safe those of you on the East coast.  We will have you in our prayers.