Spring meet Summer

Hi Everyone,

Wow, I’m so sorry about missing last week’s post. The week was a total collision of Spring into Summer in a most chaotic way!

It started on Sunday with a call from my son letting me know he was coming to stay for a few days. My son is not a planner so the standing rule is that I require 4 hours notice before he shows up so I can at least arrange to have enough food.  He gave me exactly 4 hours!

Monday was a major garden day and since he was here I put the boy to work. Both of my kids live several hours away and I don’t get to see them often so when I do there are things that go undone so I can enjoy the time I have with them. Our afternoon was spent sitting in the front yard watching horses and discussing life and his future plans. Then it was start dinner and take Miss L to an appointment. By the time we got back it was late and evening chore time.

Tuesday…the boy (young man who turns 23 in four days) took off to get some gear for his next adventure and I frantically tried to get some work done before I had to be at school for Miss L’s Awards Day.  We knew she would be getting the Perfect Attendance award and the Principal’s Award (all A’s, all year!), but she also walked away with… (1) The Good Egg Award, given by the Guidance counselor to one girl and one boy in each grade for their great attitude, helpfulness, etc.  (2) The Teacher’s Choice award given by the grade level teachers for the same reasons as the Good Egg Award (3) and she received The Golden Pincushion Award from the Life Skills teacher for her proficiency and creativity in sewing. For my new readers who haven’t read Miss L’s backstory, her Mother died last June and her ENTIRE world changed overnight when she had to leave her home, community, church and school to come live with us.  School is a major barometer to how well a child is coping with trauma and I cannot begin to tell you how happy and relieved D. and I are to know she is doing so well. I might have shed a few tears on my way home.

Tuesday continued…ran home to start dinner (why do people have to eat every single day??), then back to school to pick up Miss L. (Field day was after awards), then the hour drive (we live an hour from EVERYTHING) to the orthodontist as she starts the braces process. Back home about 7 pm, eat dinner, chores, collapse.

Wednesday is normally D’s day off, but since he would be taking off early on Thursday (more to come on that) he worked half the day.  I think I have mentally blocked most of Wednesday but I remember it being packed full of work, both income related and farm related and once again collapsing into bed.

Thursday…where to begin? The boy left in the morning for his Go West Young Man adventure. As of yesterday he was in Colorado and there are plans to visit Wyoming and Montana before heading back East. There is mountain climbing involved but it’s best for this Mom not to dwell on that too much. 

Right after he left I went to start a load of clothes for Miss L’s upcoming trip to visit friends and go to Vacation Bible School at her old church. Guess what? No water. We have a bad well and have to be very careful of our usage. One day there will be a new one drilled. Anyway, I had to call D. to come home and restart the pump while I had a mild anxiety attack and said ugly things to the well.  Why? That was the night that my bonus daughter was graduating from high school and I really needed a shower! This was about 9 am. Miss L was getting out of school at 11:30, all animal related chores had to be done early and we had to be dressed and in the car by 4:30 to make the, you guessed it, hour + drive to the high school. 

D. got the pump started, the slightly wet clothes would have to wait and he went back to work. At 11:15 as I was heading to pick up the girl, D. calls me and says, “we are getting a donkey today.” What the…? We had been promised a free donkey from the owner of the company D. works for because he keeps them to guard his cattle but evidently doesn’t geld any of the jacks and has too many each Spring.  Since we had taken on a trainee horse recently we had hoped that his boss might forget the whole donkey thing this year and we could revisit it next year. But nooooooo!


I picked up Miss L, got home, still no water!  Then in rolled D. with Spark Plug the donkey. SP is wild, never handled. Lots of trailer maneuvering through the pasture, strategic round pen door set up to prevent wild donkey escapes, etc.  About an hour of donkey time and then there was just enough water to fill up the water bucket for SP before it stopped again.  1:00 pm and I am especially dirty and sweaty now. Lunch, chores, D. is back from work (you know his boss needed to shed some donkeys when he let D. use the company truck, trailer and company time to bring SP home) and we are praying for the well to have water. It did. Just enough for D. and I to get presentable for Miss G.’s graduation. We saw her graduate (she also won two awards and a scholarship) then had dinner with all the family and friends and did not get home until after 11:00 pm.


Friday… Miss L gets to sleep in now that school is out. D. and I do not and we are close to the walking dead at this point. Do we get to have a relaxing Friday evening after a full day of work? No. Hay has been been cut. As soon as D. gets off work at 5:00 we take truck, trailer, Miss L and D’s co-worker, George to pick up hay.  Two hundred and twenty four bales later, stacked in the barn, George (who still enjoyed his Friday night beer while picking up hay and was a little wobbly when done) taken home, all critters and humans fed, chickens secured in their house, D and I crawled our weary selves in the bed. 


Saturday and Sunday were not much better, but now that we are officially into Summer (according to our personal time frame) things should even out until the harvest, canning, get ready for winter crazy. I am blocking those thoughts for now. D and I celebrated our second anniversary yesterday and hope to have a nice meal in a nice restaurant tomorrow evening and pat ourselves on surviving the past year!

I hope your Spring to Summer transition goes much smoother than ours. Have a great week!

Oh, oh, oh… Here are the portraits that I have been promising to post FOREVER!

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Mother Nature always wins

Hi Everyone,

How is your week so far? I hope that wherever you are, you are safe, comfortable and dry. I don’t watch much in the way of news anymore, but what I have seen has been full of the power of Mother Nature!

Hurricane season has started with the first tropical storm coming up through the Gulf, other places have been flooded and then there is Hawaii. I have been strangely fascinated with the volcano eruption to the point I check on it daily. To paraphrase one local, it is both sad and beautiful at the same time. 

In our little corner of the world we have also been dealing with Mother Nature. Saturday morning was traumatic. D. went to feed the horses and chickens while I was walking the mutts. When he reached the chicken run he faced the horror of several dead chickens. Evidently raccoons found a weak spot in the chicken fortress. Somehow we had some survivors, but our favorite girls were gone. It was just awful. 

I spent the morning yanking weeds (my tried and true way of working out big, bad emotions) and sobbing over our girls. I cursed raccoons and everything else that constantly tries to eat our chickens. It’s a LONG list. Everything likes chicken. After three hours of this I had exhausted myself, gotten my herb bed in much better shape AND resigned myself that this is nature’s way. Everything has to eat. 

I sent D. a text to start looking for more chickens. He works part time at a livestock feed company. It’s not hard to find farm animals when you just ask every single customer buying chicken feed. He located someone by the time he got off work and we added 3 Rhode Island Reds to the flock.  Egg production is drastically down. Only two eggs in the past two days when we were getting about eight. Hopefully when our survivors recover and the new girls get settled we will see eggs again. If not, we may have to add more to the flock. We have a new arrangement with our neighbor that we will trade her fresh eggs for some fresh milk from her new cow.  I think I’m channeling Laura Ingalls Wilder again! 

Gertrude is traumatized
The new girls

So we now have upped the fortifications of the chicken coop and run. It has locks like a New York City apartment and everything except concertina wire around the top and bottom. The things we do for eggs around here!

In continuing our struggle to balance our lives with allowing the wildlife theirs, we finally got a permanent fence around our garden. It still needs a few posts and the gate, but it will slow down the annihilation of our veggies. Again, everything has to eat…including us.  Now we just need to get one more door on the feed and tack room to keep the critters out of the horse, chicken and cat food.  We have a big ol’ compost pile. Why can’t they just eat there. Free food, every day, no work (killing or destruction) involved!


You know that you are crazy country people when your Saturday evening fun consists of pulling up chairs to watch the hens work out their new pecking order. Luckily this time there was only some chest pounding, wild flapping and minor head pecking involved. Last time one girl needed some doctoring for a few days until it all settled down. I also had to don my chicken wrestling clothes just in case the new girls couldn’t figure out that the little red house was where they had to sleep…behind all those shiny new locks to frustrate any especially wiley raccoons.

On the art front, I am delivering portraits this evening. I have several works in progress including this sneak peak at something different. Hopefully next week there will be several “reveals”.  


Be safe out there. I don’t think Mother Nature is very happy with us 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!

Itchy

Hi Everyone,

It all started last week when I had a head on collision with a honeybee. She panicked and stung my forehead. 

A few days later we took on three tons of mulch spreading in the garden and yard. Evidently I disturbed a few ticks who decided to make a meal out of me. 

Where I found the poison oak I have no idea, but it found me. I’m not really allergic to it but this time it seems to have found its way into my bloodstream and is popping out in little uber itchy spots all over my body. 

To add insult to injury I began to have mystery pain across my right side that took me to the doctor who also decided it was a mystery that would require blood tests this week. During the weekend, before the scheduled tests, the mystery pain began to turn into itchy patches and revealed itself as shingles. 

When I say that it has been a VERY ITCHY week… It’s an understatement. 

So please excuse my brief post today. I can barely focus and of course, my new bees are ready to be picked up. I will be fully suited up for their transfer into their new hives (bees can’t wait for the beekeeper’s recovery). One more itchy spot might be one too many this week!

Hoping you have a no itch week! 

The art of frustration 

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are having a lovely week so far. Supposedly we are going to have Spring return here this week. I am very ready for my feet to thaw out!

Did you notice that I posted this on time this week? Want to know why? Nope, it’s not because I finally have my act together. I have misplaced my good drawing paper and cannot continue with the two commissioned drawings until I find it. I am hoping that the distraction of writing will let my brain work on remembering where I put it last. 

Finally I have a week that involves no crisis management of affairs of an estate, Spring Break is over and I have no huge impending deadlines. Yesterday was great! I worked on my Etsy shop, started these two drawings, did a little practice painting all before I had to pick up Miss L.  Today started out pretty much the same way until I realized my drawing paper is missing. Dang! I had two solid hours to work on them.

So here I am, coming into the last month and a half of my thirty year career, all geared up to get down to some serious creative doing and making and I am an organizational mess. Normally I know exactly where everything is unless someone I live with moves it and this happens all too frequently. This time I can’t blame them though. 

In June I will have lived here for two years. In those two years I have had to constantly keep moving my art supplies around.  Either a room is being painted/renovated, someone is visiting or moving in, or every spare inch of space is occupied by stuff that has to be sorted, stored or given away eventually. The frustration level with this situation is very high. Really and truly I am a minimalist at heart but I find I am always living primarily with people who are not. My son is the exception. Right now he lives out of a backpack, but take a wild guess who stores his bed and few boxed possessions. 

My dear husband promises me that one day there will be a separate little art studio that only I have the key to. Looking at our long list of “need to do” items I hope he is planning on adding wheelchair ramp and Geritol dispenser on it. Until then I retreat to my Pinterest board of studio ideas and dream. 

The current reality is that I set up my fold out table in my bonus daughter’s/guest room for the two weeks that she is away and frantically work on my sewing machine and other projects that have to be spread out (I’m a creative mess so most projects fall in this category) then pack it all back up before she returns. Heaven help me if I forget to take the vacuum cleaner out of her closet before setting up the table. In that case, or any other that requires something from that closet, I have to crawl over the bed to the other side, retrieve the item then push or pull it back across the bed.  There are many not so nice words said during this ordeal. 

If the table issue were not enough the fact that I have my most used supplies in…the china cabinet, under our bed, under the love seat, under and on my desk, in a file cabinet in Miss L’s room, beside the sofa, in an end table, on our bookshelf, AND in the master bathroom! The less needed supplies are in our storage unit 20 minutes away and I seem to need them several times a month. Honestly I do not own a store’s worth of supplies. We just have so little space that I have to stick them in every nook and cranny I can find. Trying to find what I need causes some high level frustration. HOPEFULLY as I wind down my design business and clean out files and supplies that I will no longer need, I can begin to consolidate the art supplies and cut down on the frustration. Did I mention that the nearest art supply store is over an hour away by car or two days away via Amazon. Wonder if I can figure out how to make horse hair paint brushes? 

Maybe I should remember to give myself a pat on the back any time I manage to finish ANYTHING.  Here are a couple of finished items from this week. My table quilt from my class got finished. Probably the worst sewing I have done in years but it doesn’t look too bad as long as you don’t look on the back, and a small painting of our cat, Sweetie Pie. I have her eyes too close together but I was focusing on some painting techniques more that worrying about getting everything “right”. 


I am going to make myself some lunch, take some water to the chickens, gather some eggs and make sure I didn’t put my drawing paper in their coop.

May your week have low levels of frustration!

Beans, barns, bees and boredom

Hi Everyone!

How has your July been? Do you feel summer winding down? It has been hot and miserable here for the past couple of weeks. Midday is spent inside. 

This week we decided to enjoy a good dose of boredom around here. Last week was an awful mess of traveling to appointments that resulted in nothing more than frustration, disappointment and stress. Now it’s a waiting game for the attorney and government entities to accomplish something so we can move forward. Boredom has been a good tonic.

Our garden is producing high levels of green beans this year and the tomatoes are putting forth a good effort. Miss L got to try her hand at picking beans. I’m pretty sure she enjoyed it about as much as I did at her age. She also got to see the canning process while Danny canned the first 14 quarts of beans. She was keeping track of the pops the jar lids made as they sealed. We are also consuming green beans frequently at meals.  Last night’s dinner was green beans, potatoes, creamed corn, fresh tomatoes and biscuits. It just doesn’t get any better than that!!

I have been checking on my bees more and feeding them now that most of the blooms are gone. My goal is to get at least two hives through the winter this year. It’s sad to admit that, but with colony losses of 40-50% on average each year now in most places in the United States, you have to brace yourself and hope for the best. I have one hive I’m already concerned over and keeping a close eye on. 

Our keets are having issues. We have lost three of the 16 and have 2 more that aren’t doing well. After some research we think there is a possible vitamin deficiency so Miss L and I made an emergency grocery run for wheat germ and vitamin E this morning. Hopefully that will help. 

It seems like a combination of heat and boredom are making our hens cranky. They can’t free range anymore due to the Thing In The Thicket that has snatched a couple of their coop mates. They seem to be protesting with a decrease in egg prodution. 

I am almost done with the barn drawing commission. I hope to have the finished picture on here next week.  Sooooo close but I can’t show it to you before I show it to my clients.  The boredom and heat have allowed me the time to put in several concentrated hours on it. 

We have enjoyed walks, time with the dogs, cat and some crafty time this week.  Danny has been able to work with Bob several evenings. Books have been read, movies watched, etc.  It has been GOOD!  Next week could get crazy again and August will bring school shopping, soccer and school faster than I’m ready for. I’m going to enjoy one more weekend of “boredom”. 

Hope you find some boredom this week! 

Signs of improvement

Hi Everyone,

Is it better that I am writing at 4:24 am this week than at 3:15 last week? Slightly.  I actually got a full 8 hours sleep night before last and felt great yesterday. The husband is slowly regaining energy zapped out of him by the flu. Yesterday we killed it in our attempt to catch up on the farm projects. 

I am almost finished with the dog portraits and will post them soon. Here is a sneak preview of their noses.


Along with the weed eating and cleaning, mowing and barn roofing yesterday, I got my new bees and installed them in the hives. 


Spring is full on and life is insanely busy for the next few weeks so my posts will be short for awhile. Thanks for hanging in here with me.  Today is major house cleaning day and we have friends coming this afternoon to pick up a load of horse manure for their garden. Guess I should try to get a little more sleep before the dog alarms go off.

Have a great week!