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!
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.
There are no deep and thoughtful thoughts today. I am surrounded by Christmas chaos and a to do list depressingly long. Winter has set in and my normally cheerful disposition sinks along with the temperatures.
D. and I have been working long hours at his business. I will have to admit to looking forward to the end of deer season in another month. Next year he will be retired and hopefully the late night hours will not be so often.
I am pretty sure Amazon loves me this year and the UPS guy hates me. There have been deliveries every day this week because I have neither the time or inclination to fight my way through stores for Christmas presents. So far I have not had to step foot inside a single store and only plan for one quick stop to get gift cards this weekend. That should be the end of the shopping!
Decorations have been pretty minimal too. I got greenery up outside Thanksgiving weekend as well as the Christmas tree. We have an artificial tree and over the years my son, along with my daughter, were chief tree builders. I had to do it this year and realized just what a frustrating job it is.
Cooking is not happening at the moment either. No time with all the hours at the shop. Meals are generally soup and crackers. Christmas goodies probably are not going to happen at all. I hope to get our weekly pizza made tonight. That may be this week’s highlight for food.
Next year I think I will put a note in my calendar to get the Christmas shopping done in July and cook plenty of meals to freeze well before the beginning of deer season. Right now I feel like a squirrel who can’t find her nuts the day before a blizzard!
I have included a few of this week’s photos to break up this downer of a post. Hopefully by next week’s post I will have wrangled in the chaos and will be in more cheerful spirits.
We did wake up this morning, look out the kitchen window and find Bob the Houdini Horse staring in at us, wanting his breakfast. Wish I had managed a photo of that! Leave it to the crazy horse to give us a much needed laugh for the day.
I’m sitting here watching it rain buckets, but the town’s “Blinkie” lights and the Moravian stars are keeping my mood festive. I am not a big celebrator of holidays. That probably comes from the whole commercialization aspect that has taken hold of our celebrations. I hate shopping and dislike the obligatory gift giving. I would much rather buy a gift for someone at a random moment that would actually be special than having to figure out what they might want or need at the end of every year. And who doesn’t like an unexpected gift? That is much more fun for the giver and the getter than the Christmas gift gluttony.
Having been the Grinch/Scrooge many times over the years I finally decided I needed an attitude adjustment. I quit beating myself up for not having a budget for extravagant gifts. I discovered Etsy and Amazon (no affiliates here folks) thus ending the need to fight through crowds. I simplified the decorations to what I really liked and took little time to put up. I stopped trying to cook ridiculous amounts of goodies that none of us needed. Instead I perfected my Chex party mix recipe and live off of it for one month, once a year. I quit trying to win Most Beautiful Package of the Year with my gift wrapping. Now I don’t even put on bows. They just get squished. Most importantly, I quit looking for Christmas “cheer”. The expectation that all was wonderful and bright about the season. Ok that sounds pretty Grinchy but let’s be real. It’s stressful not cheerful most of the holiday season.
All these changes had the effect I wanted. I’m rarely stressed now at the holidays. Instead, I get to appreciate what Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year should be about in my opinion. If you thrive off the hustle and bustle, go for it and celebrate on! I’m a low-key, introvert, borderline hermit.
Yesterday my Christmas came early. Not the gift giving, but the Christmas spirit. We celebrated the life of my uncle Chester who passed on Saturday. I know that sounds strange, but bear with me a few more minutes. First, Chester was 88 years old. Most of those 88 years he was the life of every party and a prankster extraordinaire. For about the past year he had been confined to life with a feeding tube. I don’t think any of us wanted him to continue on that way for much longer.
His funeral was more laughter filled than tear filled as just a drop of his many antics were shared. The Christmas spirit part for me was the time I got to spend with family and old friends. I rarely get to spend more than a couple of hours Christmas day with my aunt, uncles, cousins frantically trying to catch up on each other’s lives. Many have stopped coming to the family gathering as their own families have grown and new traditions are made.
The funeral was held at my home church in the community where I grew up. Thanks to Facebook I manage to keep up with some people there but so many others I don’t. Though very brief, the hugs and conversations were wonderful. I even discovered a couple of them read this blog. Thank you, my highly patient and tolerant friends and cousins! I left the funeral with those all too rare warm and fuzzy feelings that come from tears, laughter and love. I think uncle Chester was enjoying it immensely too.
I’m wondering if writing a blog is like Facebook. Is it supposed to be all “perfect world” posts? The fact that I have started this at 4:45 am might be a clue that this one will not be one of those posts.
You don’t have to stop reading. I promise not to be Debbie Downer, but if I’m going to write this every week I have to be honest that every week is not sunshine and roses.
For several mornings in a row I have been wide awake at 4 am. Historically that means my poor brain is trying to cope with some overload and the fact that I get up and start work means I manage to accomplish something before exhaustion sets in around noon. I figured out about a decade ago that tossing and turning in bed for hours accomplishes nothing and I’m still exhausted by noon.
So what exactly is going on? 1) I have some big changes on the horizon and I’m working through that transition. 2) I’m having some time management problems. 3) I’m just dealing with general life aggravations like we all do.
I’m going to work through these backwards. If you have suggestions, I am happy to hear them.
#3 – Life aggravations. It’s the end of October. The holidays are looming. It’s pathetic, but I do not enjoy the Thanksgiving and Christmas insanity. I do not enjoy shopping. I don’t really enjoy cooking either. So here I am at the end of the year with my gift lists and my budget and never the twain shall meet. I just bought new tires for my car two weeks ago which was a hit to the saving but not dreadful. My son calls yesterday and his truck (my truck actually) needs over $800 in repairs. If you noticed an odd repeated “thud, thud, thud” sound yesterday, that was me banging my head on the wall.
#2 – Time management. Overall I am decent with my time management skills, but I have a couple of problem areas. First, I have a tendency to be a workaholic IF I have work I enjoy. Give me a project that excites me and I will work through meals, meetings, date nights, etc. You caught that right? My kids will tell you as will my fiancé that if I’m into something I have no clue what is going on around me. The dogs will be banging their water bowls and I don’t hear a thing. I resent being interrupted and they all resent being ignored. It’s a problem.
On the other end of the spectrum, if there is something I hate to do, I become the Queen of Procrastination. Three months of filing that needs to be done? Darn, there is something I need to go research on Pinterest right now! My patient readers, please pray that I will find the intestinal fortitude to face the two large boxes full of filing that must be done so that I do not have to spend a week of sleepless nights doing taxes this year. Have I mentioned that my accounting is about two months behind as well?
#1- Life changes. I believe the saying goes “There are only two things you can count on in life, death and taxes.” I would add “change” to that list. This coming Spring I am getting married. That is a big, YEAH! But, I have been a divorced, single parent for 13 years living in a suburban area. Come summer I will be a married, empty nester living in a very rural area. I’m beginning to believe that adjusting to being married will be the easy part. The logistics of moving my storage unit and all my stuff, beginning to remodel his house, finding my way around a new area, having a 25 minute drive to the nearest grocery store, merging two of EVERYTHING and deciding what stays and goes, adjusting to an hour commute to work from an 8 minute commute, and making my business fit all this without losing customers is making me lose some sleep.
It’s just life. Messy, inconvenient, overwhelming. I’m not complaining. These are normal, even good things. I just need to feel a little more in CONTROL. That is what it usually comes down to, right? We need to feel we have some control over what is happening in life. My conclusion is that we don’t have much control over anything, but what we do have we need to embrace. I’m going to go make my coffee and breakfast, set the timer and tackle some of that filing and accounting before I start back on my recent fun project which I will show you next week.
Now that the holidays are over and the cards have gone out, I wanted to show you what I did in November.
This was the artwork for the Town of Kernersville Christmas card this year. Thank you TOK!!!
Those of you from around here will recognize the entrance to the town on Main Street and Cherry Street. This was a challenge for several reasons. First, it was a fairly short deadline. I think it was less than three weeks including a sketch for approval. The horse and carriage are white metal that have white lights around the edges at night. All these years of drawing and painting and this was the first night scene I’ve done. I didn’t want it to be just a black background either so I had to work on some color that would still make sense.
When I went out after dark to photograph the entrance for reference I discovered something else. The Kernersville sign is NOT illuminated at night! Heck, I always thought it was! I also had to do some “landscaping” to raise the sign above the horse and carriage. I put that “Creative License” they gave me in college to use. This was a fun assignment and I appreciate the opportunity to do it. Yes, Town of Kernersville, I would love to do another one if you would like me to.
As a side note: I have written and scheduled this post ahead of time since I am probably recovering from some dental work today. This has absolutely nothing to do with art, just a shameless plug for sympathy 😉