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!

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

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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! 

Back in the saddle

Hi Everyone!

Yes, I am back.  Last week was insane trying to get everything done before leaving for my son’s graduation so I did not make it here before we left.  BUT, here he is in all of his graduation glory and I am one proud Mom!

 

I did barely manage to get the room painting finished before we had to bring back his bed and dresser.  Before with my piles of mess and After before my mess takes over again.  I need to have an art supply yard sale or a better solution would be to win the lottery and build myself a nice big studio. 



 

Now that the big event for the year is over I am SO ready to settle down and get back to work with a routine.  We planted the majority of the garden yesterday so other than the daily weeding I should have a couple of months before I have to stop for the major harvest rituals…picking, canning and freezing.  The bees are settled in though I am adding a swarm from my brother-in-law this weekend.  No more home remodeling until Fall!

 I am setting up my easel in a corner and plan to start back painting today!  For the past year I have held off taking any commission work other than a couple from my daughter.  During the graduation party there were a few inquiries about whether I would be taking any again.  After discussing it with D. on the way home we decided that, yes, it’s time.  I will be adding pet portraits to my Etsy shop hopefully this week and then as soon as I gather some sample work, add people portraits as well.   I will add the links here on the blog when I get them set up.

 I can’t tell you what a relief it is to feel like life is settling down a little and I can get back to the artwork.  My 100 Day Project fell apart, but my goal now is to get back in the saddle and finish out the rest of the summer with some steady work.  Maybe next week I will at least have a sneak peek of what is on the easel.

The flowers are blooming here on the farm and they WILL be making it onto a canvas soon.  Until then, just enjoy the May beauty!  Have a lovely week!

Curiosity

Dorothy parker quote

I saw this quote on my cousin’s Facebook feed this morning and thought about how true this is.  Curiosity is a blessing and a curse all wrapped up together with the fact that as far as we know, we only get one lifetime.  Personally, I do not have enough time to go down every rabbit hole my curiosity wants to take, but by golly I’m going to try!

A friend asked me recently how I do everything I do.  The answer is “I do lots of things, but not necessarily lots of things well”. That is also a blessing and a curse.

I would love to excel in a couple of areas, but to really do that I would have to give up soooo many other things that I want to do, try, learn, places to visit and explore.  BUT I will admit, quite happily, that I NEVER GET BORED!  Boredom is a waste of your precious life.  Whether it is one passion or a thousand, curiosity is what makes you dig deeper, study more, practice more, give more, smile more and get out of bed with leap instead of a moan.

Another conversation recently was about a wealthy family a loved one spent some time with.  He said, “they have so much money and all they can find to do is sit around and drink every evening, all evening.”  That, my friends, is a waste of a life.  Good heavens, spend some of that money and go travel or see if you can make someone else’s life better with it.  Don’t drink it!

How do you break out of the boredom routine? Let me see if I can give some suggestions if you need help.

  1.  Pick one little subject that you have a speck of interest in and start doing some research.  Not boring classroom research, but real life research. Example:  I started out growing herbs to cook with.  During my Pinterest time I would pin articles about growing herbs and read about them.  Those articles often described the healing properties of herbs and plants.  To make a long story short, I now have started making my own herbal remedies to use and discovering that most of what we call weeds are beneficial plants. This summer I have wandered around learning plant names and properties that I have looked at all my life and knew nothing about.
  2. Take something that you perceive as a need and find a solution.  Example (sorry, I’m using me for all these, but I can’t speak for how other folks find their rabbit holes) – I needed honey. I had always gotten my raw honey from my Dad, but when my sister and brother-in-law started expanding his honey business the honey was often sold out before I could restock my supply.  I realized that now that I live out in the country again I could have bees and have my own honey supply.  Sounds easy enough until you have to research how to keep 60,000 bees alive.  Guess what! Bees are fascinating little creatures. I am now officially a bee fanatic.
  3.  Take a new road. Example – see my post about finding my way around my new part of the world.  I am seriously racking up new ideas for drawings and painting by just turning down a road that I haven’t been down before.  The views here are amazing.  In more populated areas (we don’t have a grocery store here if that explains anything) you could run across a music store where you could learn to play an instrument, a plant nursery where you could get herb plants, a school that would love to have volunteers to help students read.  It is endless.
  4.  This may be the most important one. Do not be afraid to fail at something!  I repeat – DO NOT BE AFRAID TO FAIL!  With the possible exception of certain extreme risk taking passions, most endeavors are not life threating and not un-repairable. Yes, one more Example from the home front – Floor tiling.  We decided to tile our floors ourselves.  Since I am the detail person that primarily means ME.  No, I had never stuck the first tile to a floor EVER when I started. That is what YouTube is for.  I am 85% finished with the floor and am pretty darn pleased with the way it has turned out. A professional tile guy could find my mistakes, but I bet you couldn’t.  Even if I had messed the floor up, we had saved enough money by doing it ourselves that we could have hired the tile guy to come fix my mess. DO NOT BE AFRAID TO FAIL!

My cousin, who posted the above quote, and my sister are both smitten with the curiosity curse as well.  Enter ballroom dancing, photography, welding, raising llamas…maybe it’s a genetic curse.

Curse or blessing, Curiosity just makes life FUN.  If you want a break from the depressing news and elections go find a rabbit hole to fall into.  Your TV will get dusty, Facebook friends will send out a search party and your budget may or may not (curiosity does not have to be expensive) take a beating, but life will get very interesting and colorful and exciting.

Why are you still here?  Go!

 

Get lost. Slow down. Change directions.

sunflower 2016
My sunflowers are enjoying the heat. They are at least 8′ tall and still growing!

I hope you all have had a lovely week. It has been a typical July week here. Hot as Hades all day with a late afternoon thunderstorm that hopefully cools the air a little. Often it doesn’t. Sometimes the air is so humid and thick after a storm that it feels difficult to breathe. You would think you could squeeze the juice out of it. My poor bees are spending more time on the outside of the hive than inside. I’m thinking I should get a tiny air conditioner for them. No, I do not spoil the creatures that live with me (much).

The past couple of weeks have been spent getting settled, finding my way around and meeting people. If I counted correctly, this is my tenth move in my lifetime. Most of my moves have been within miles of each other, but this is the third move to a completely new area. My first major move was as a newlywed to a different state. My then husband was working third shift, the company had put us up in a hotel until we could find a home and I knew no one. I couldn’t stay in the hotel room during the day while my husband was trying to sleep, but I had no where to go.

This was before cell phones and we had two not-so-great cars. So, I did what any bored, fearless (you have that in your 20’s) young woman would do. I got my car keys, filled the car up with gas and proceeded to drive in and out of town until I was hopelessly lost, then figure out how to get myself back to the hotel.  Honestly, it was a huge adrenaline rush. Sometimes I barely made it back before my husband got up to go to work.  By the time we moved out of the hotel three weeks later, I rarely got lost. I found all the important places (Town Hall, library, the MALL) and lots of scenic areas of the countryside.

I have been using this same technique with slightly more common sense this time.  Lately our vehicles have been just as bad (except for THE BEAST, our F-350 pickup that I LOVE to drive), but I do have my cell phone and AAA card with me now. I found the library. People seem to think that libraries are not important anymore. I beg to differ. The bulletin board alone was a wealth of information. Local events and services that I had not been able to find online were on the bulletin board.  So, I have the library, found the arts council, town hall, pharmacy, car mechanic and our local state park for hiking. Hey, not a bad start for two weeks of being lost!

ghost flowers 2016
I discovered Ghost plants on our way to pick blackberries this week. They are such an oddity with all the color this time of year.

The harder adjustment I am having to make is the pace of life here. I’m pretty sure it was the same way when I was growing up out in the country but I wasn’t aware of it. EVERYTHING is slower. I have been in Surburbia for twenty years. I have worked two jobs for about twelve years. I shuttled two kids to thousands of practices and events for eighteen years. All that has come to a screeching halt. I often find myself standing somewhere in disbelief that there is nothing on my To Do list that HAS to be done immediately. Trust me, I’m not complaining, but after decades of rushing around and working under endless deadlines, it is disorienting.

Now that I have said that life has slowed down, just this week events have fallen into place for D. to start a business he has been planning for about two years. Originally he was going to start it next year after he retires, but an opportunity presented itself that was too good to pass up. This means that for about four months I will be back to working two jobs again as we start this while he is still working full time.  I will fill I the details as this moves along.

blueberry jam 2016
More slow stuff. Making blueberry jam.

I need to mosey on now to finish tiling these floors (they WILL be done by the end of the month!).  I’m going to leave you with some hard earned wisdom. If life is a little boring or drab, or the creative juices have quit flowing (they do sometimes), literally get in your car, on your bike, take the bus, use your feet and go get lost. The change in scenery and the adventure will do you good. Don’t use the GPS. Use your God given instincts!

zinna butterfly 2016
Just one of the hundreds of butterflies that have been visiting my zinnias this year. I have never seen soooo many in one place before!

All photos by Christel D. Huttar.

A Wedding and Other Life Events

One week ago today this happened!


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

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

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


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

A little Spring glory

We have one month left before the wedding and life is one big deadline right now.  So instead of subjecting you to more of my complaining about packing, unpacking, organizing, sorting and floor tiling, today I am bringing you a visual of all the beautiful things that are happening here.

Spring is bursting out all over and I save my sanity by spending as much time outdoors as possible.  My photography isn’t great, but I hope you enjoy these anyway.

Please forgive the wonky layout.  I have yet to figure out how to get photos where I want them.

And the gardening begins again!
And the gardening begins again!
These will always be my favorite!
These will always be my favorite!
I went color crazy and planted every color of Impatients everywhere.
I went color crazy and planted every color of Impatients everywhere.
My irises did not get divided in the Fall so they are not as plentiful as usual.
My irises did not get divided in the Fall so they are not as plentiful as usual.
The roses are starting to bloom.
The roses are starting to bloom.
I don't know their name, but have always liked them.
I don’t know their name, but have always liked them.
Wildflowers, weeds, whatever you want to call them, are welcome if they bring some happy yellow with them.
Wildflowers, weeds, whatever you want to call them, are welcome if they bring some happy yellow with them.
Sage in full bloom.
Sage in full bloom.
Lamb's Quarters - I added a few of these to our dinner yesterday.
Lamb’s Quarters – I added a few of these to our dinner yesterday.
Red Clover - Why would you not like this?
Red Clover – Why would you not like this?

Hands

hands photo-1439920120577-eb3a83c16dd7

Most of us come into this world with two hands and ten fingers. Once the early infant discovery of our hands and their abilities is over we give little thought to the miraculous appendages that serves us so well in our lifetime. Now, at the age of 53, I am deeply appreciating what my hands have allowed me to do.

I do not know how far back the genetic disposition to arthritic thumbs and fingers go in my family, but I have seen my Dad struggle with it for many years. Since my late 40’s my thumbs have given me increasing pain and this year every finger has expressed its displeasure in the tasks I put upon it.  It is a rare day that there is no pain now.

All these 50+ years I have been blessed with the finest motor skills in my hands.  In one of my many retail jobs the jewelry department would bring me all their tangled, knotted necklaces for me to carefully unbind after they discovered I had the patience and motor skills to work the tiny chains apart. My hands have allowed me to make almost anything I wanted to make from pottery, clothing, embroidery, Halloween costumes to jewelry.  I have used them to repair my home and car as well as dig in the earth for my garden and train delicate tendrils of vegetables and flowers onto a trellis.

I have braided my daughter’s silky hair, buttoned tiny baby buttons and trimmed tiny baby fingernails.  I have doctored many scrapes and bruises on young knees and elbows, stroked the soft fur of many loved pets and chopped thousands of vegetables to feed my people.

All of this I took for granted.

No longer will my hands go unappreciated.  As a “Do-er” not a “Be-er”, I am struggling to learn how to sit with my hands at rest. No more can I mindlessly keep my hands busy while a movie or TV show is on.  No more can I ask my hands to move heavy tile for hours and expect them to be able to still knit scarfs that night.

There are long standing activities that I am questioning now. My signature is no longer as pretty as it was, closer to a doctor’s scrawl, so writing is limited.  The crochet hooks may be retired soon.  Knitting is less painful, though even that will be pared down to what I truly enjoy making. My jewelry making supplies are likely to be given away after I squeeze out a few more pairs of earrings and my long time plan to learn the craft of stained glass work probably is not going to happen.

Is there a positive side to the aging process?  I am finding that though there is a mourning process as the children leave the nest, the face in the mirror looks strangely different and the body parts become more vocal about their distress there is good in the transition.

Like the cleaning of a cluttered, heaped up closet it is cathartic to pick and choose the most important elements of your life.  What do you truly love to do?  What sooths the soul? What brings a smile? What brings the most good to you and others?

I can still paint and draw.  That makes me extremely happy and I am finding that the limitations of my hands are making my artwork better.  Now instead of getting sucked into the vortex of detail that has been my nemesis, I am forced to be looser and more expressive in my work.  I now question what is most important to be done before I tax the strength left in my hands.

I can still hold a baby and the hand of a toddler.  These are becoming increasing joys as D’s kids have kids and I look forward to the possibility of my own grandbabies in the future.  I can still hug and hold the hands of those I love.  As each year brings the loss of more special humans and animals in my life, a simple touch is precious and golden.

I can still play in the dirt and tend to the plants.  As long as the spot is large enough, sunny enough and nourishing enough the plants do not complain about how unwieldy my fingers are.  They respond to my energy and my commitment more than my finesse.

My hands have given and given and given over the decades.  They are asking for more gentle treatment and appreciation now.  They will no longer let me take them for granted and I concede they deserve better.  There are still many things I want to do and would like their cooperation for another 50 years.  From here on I will thank them for their service on a regular basis, listen when they ask for a rest and appreciate what they are willing to do with me as we head into our next half century!

Photo credit

Patience required

Life seems to require an ongoing, endless supply of patience.  I’m sure there is something right now that you are having to wait on.  You would think that as the decades fall behind you that patience would get easier.  Maybe it does to a small degree, but overall it seems to be just as difficult at every stage of life.

There are huge “patience required” problems such as waiting for medical test results, medium level problems along the lines of trying to sell a house and the average low level patience trials of traffic, slow service, etc.  Often all of them are happening at the same time!  Why is it surprising that we are all walking around stressed?

First apartment, here she comes!

Today I have a list of low level stressors that are just aggravating the heck out of me.

  • A pile of boxes waiting to go to a recycling event tomorrow, but I still have to wrangle more out of the storage today.
  •  Another pile of boxes that are part of the “slow move” that I keep tripping over.
  •  The one room that still is not finished with the tiling. I have soooo much more to do and this one is taking forever.
  •  Several client jobs that are on hold until decisions are made or meetings rescheduled.
  •  A landscaping project that is on hold until a large water trough can be moved.
  •  Flowers and herbs that need to be planted, but we have a cold snap at the moment so it’s too cold to plant.

There are a few more, but I will not bore you with all of them. Then I remind myself that there have been many times where my patience was required for the HUGE level items.  Yes, I have waited for the medical results.  I have waited for payments from clients while wondering how the bills were going to be paid.  I have waited to hear from kids who were driving alone at night for the first time. Why, after all of these big ticket issues do I continue to let tiny day to day things try my patience?  I should be in Zen mode most of the time!

Bad Bob

Last week I did discover a new method for relaxing that surprised me.  I took a break from tiling floors and wandered out to the barn where D. was doing some work.  As always Big Bad Bob was there offering his equine help.  He was a muddy mess so I got the grooming bucket and intended to just clean him up a bit.  An hour later we had three spiffed up horses and I was the calmest and most relaxed I had been in months!  I don’t know if it was the concentration required (you don’t want to brush a big horse in the wrong direction) or the big, warm creatures who let you know when they appreciate a good scratching or exactly what the combination was, but it worked wonders on me as well as the horses.  I think Bob, KC and Christy will be looking better on a more regular basis from now on.

Well, it’s time for me to head out and face more tiling adventures.  I hope you all have a wonderful week.  Don’t let the little stuff get you down and if it does, find a horse that needs detailing.

Floors and bees

Happy Friday!! It is a rainy one here.  Good thing I just have TILING on my To Do list today. Yes friends, I actually stuck tile to floor last week! Check it out.

floor 2Here is what I have learned so far if any of you happen to want to tile your own floor.  1) It is not hard.  2) It IS tedious.  3) It IS messy.  I am still quite the novice at this and have not started cutting tile yet.  If you notice in the picture I just got the whole tiles down.  Today’s challenge is to test the cutter out.  I have a manual cutter and hopefully that will work for the most part.  There are a few pieces that will have to be cut lengthwise and I’m 99% sure my cutter will not do those.  Bless my friend Helen. She has a wet saw we can borrow.

floor 1

My goal is to get all the cut pieces down and mortar set so by Wednesday I can start the grout process.  I need this first room done before we can move on to the rest of the house.  You know, that whole move stuff out of one room so you can do the other room process.

All artwork is on hold probably until July.  There simply is no time.  It is all I can do to keep up with my design work right now.  Gardening season is upon us and D. is chomping at the bit to get seeds in the ground.  I am throwing a box of stuff in the car every trip up to D’s in my attempt to make a SLOW move this time.  My last couple of moves have been fast and stressful. Now that process is reaching critical mass and we are having to make more and more decisions on what stays and what goes and how fast can it go.

Next week my town is having a recycling day.  I am dropping off a carload!  The next weekend the theatre company I work for is having their annual yard sale.  Guess who will be dropping off a TRUCK load?  Can you tell I am beginning to feel a little overwhelmed???

With all this going on I have avoided thinking about spending any time drawing or painting and started distracting myself with gardening ideas.  Too much time on Pinterest will make you crazy.  I started studying medicinal herbs, and decided to expand my herb garden this year.  That started me thinking about my future bees and how to help them.  That lead me to studying permaculture and now I have another whole list of projects for the farm.  Someone please take my ipad away from me or slap me when I am on Pinterest or YouTube!

beephoto-1437514805204-ae0a51951572

Soooo, about those bees.  I spent Easter with Mom & Dad.  Dad got me the bee hive for Christmas and has it put together now.  It’s time to get the bees for it.  The plan was to hopefully get a split from one of his hives.  No such luck this year so I told him to go ahead and get me a nuc when he and my brother-in-law pick up their order next week. Then I asked him when we can get the bees settled in their new home.

Dad sort of hesitated and replied “Well, I need to keep them here for a little while so I can keep an eye on them and make sure they are alright.”  Ok, I have to admit that my thought at that moment was…”Dad, I got your grandchildren to adulthood without losing, starving or maiming them, I think I can handle some bees.”  I refrained.  MAYBE I will get bees these year.

Since I have been slack for the past couple of weeks about including some environmental information I will recommend the documentary Vanishing of the Bees.  The link take you to the website, but you can watch it on Netflix.  We need the bees.

Have a wonderful week and go plant some flowers for the bees this week.

 

Flooring photos by yours truly.

Bee photo credit.