Miss L. and life at a snail’s pace

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are having a great week.  Oh, how I would love to tell you that we have made marvelous strides toward at least one goal, but, alas, it has not happened.  Sigh.

We ARE making progress, but it is excruciatingly slow.  Slow, like watching grass grow, as a snail crawl, molasses pour, banks do their job.  Sigh.

I will not name names, but there is one very large bank that I MUST deal with in all this and evidently their faxes, email, phone and PERSONNEL systems do not work or communicate with each other.  I am losing count of how many times I had had to fax the same paperwork to the same number only to have them tell me they have no record of it.  I’m pretty sure that is the definition of insanity. I have quit praying to God for patience because when I do He sends me more paperwork from this sorry excuse for a bank. Ok, rant over.  Moving on.

I know that many of my readers check in here to check on Miss L. so I thought I would give you a brief update.  I want to protect her privacy so I limit what I put out there in cyberworld.  I’m sure you can understand that considering not only her situation, but the dark side of our world.

Miss L. is doing great!  I checked in with her homeroom teacher (who she really likes) and I got a lovely report.  Her grades are still excellent.  Her reading score is off the charts.  She is participating in class and is making friends.  Don’t tell her, but I love sitting in the car line and seeing her talking with friends and not paying any attention as to whether I am there or not.

She is playing soccer.  None of us have been overly impressed by the soccer organization at the moment, but it’s fresh air and exercise so we will finish the season and re-evaluate afterwards.  Miss L. has also gained some healthy weight.  D. and I are borderline health nuts who cook at home 95% of the time and rarely eat much junk food (ice cream being the regular exception).  At first she resisted eating anything she had not tried before,  but now gives new food a try (that’s all we ask, is that she try it) and most of the time finishes a plateful.  When we went clothes shopping I gave her the choice of a tried and true fast food restaurant or an unknown entity…Greek food.  SHE CHOSE GREEK FOOD and really liked it!

Miss L. is now a regular at our church Youth group meetings and started singing with the Youth choir last week.  She loves to sing and I think she will love this group.  Ms. Jenny had ordered 25 sets  of music for the new year and Miss L. made the 26th member so there will be more music ordered.  I raised my two kids at this church and in this Youth group and even though it is a 45 minute drive for us each way, I know the huge amount of love and support that surrounds each young person involved in this group and it will be worth the time for Miss L.

Next week we start with doctor visits.  After two months of agonizing attempts to get her health insurance that is finally done and I have vision, dental and regular doctor checkups lined up.  I also have grief counseling scheduled for her with Hospice.  With all the enormous changes that have occurred in her life in the last three months I am amazed at her strength.  Yes, she has times when it all gets to her, but overall she has handled it very well and we want her to have an outlet and knowledge of how to handle what will be a long process.

Probably the biggest adjustment any of us have had to make is just getting to know each other and living in the same house.  Although we all saw each other several times each year (for me it started about 5 years ago, of course D. all Miss L.’s life) that is NOT the same as every day.  D. and I are fairly old school parents who think kids need rules and responsibilities.  I’m not sure how many rules Miss L. had on a regular basis, but I suspect not many and very few responsibilities.  There have been a few “adjustment” moments for all of us as the settling into new roles has occurred.

Right off the bat, Miss L. had to take regular responsibility for Dinah (her dog) and Sweetie Pie (her cat).  We already had several critter mouths of our own to feed.  Dinah had always been an outside dog.  I have no idea how that tiny fluff ball survived three years outside, but she very likely would not survive outside up here with the high level of predators that would consider Dinah a snack.  So, I taught Miss L. how to house train a dog.  Every two hours she had to take fluffy butt outside whether either of them wanted to go or not.  Fast forward two months and Dinah is pretty reliably house trained. If there is an accident now it is human error, not canine error.

Miss L. gives Sweetie Pie the cat her daily food, water and snuggles AND she has discovered that she enjoys feeding the horses.  Most days now she helps D. get the three pasture ornaments fed.  At the very beginning of her days with us, Miss L. informed us that she has a bird phobia.  Even though she will not get very close to them, occasionally she will even help feed the chickens.  She also gets to clean her room each week, keep up with all her school papers, help with all the house chores and has added bean picking to her resume.  We will be working on cooking this winter.

That’s the update on life in Crazyville right now.  Miss L. is the easy part.  The bank…not so much.

I hope your week will be slow in a good way! Until next week…

Alex Blăjan

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Life Revised

Hi Everyone,

Sorry I was MIA for a couple of weeks. Life is never a straight smooth road and ours took a very sharp turn last week.

After a long battle with a progressive disease, my sister-in-law lost her war last Thursday. The week leading up to that had been an EXTREMELY intense and stressful one for Danny and me.  My SIL left this world never acknowledging the fact her death was imminent and there is now a big ball of tangled affairs left for us to unravel. 

We currently have temporary custody of her ten year old daughter and are seeking full custody.  Today I turn our newly remodeled guest room into a tween girl’s room. And I thought I had survived the last teenage driver this past year after my bonus daughter got her drivers license.  Someone please tell me that I will not be teaching a teenager to drive when I am 70!!

As you can imagine, we are stressed, sleep deprived, behind on work and hoping we will not be racking up anymore attorney fees. Bear with me as we all transition into a new life. Didn’t I just do that last year?  There may be more skipped blog weeks as I do the executor legwork for my SIL’s affairs and get a grieving little girl settled into an completely different life. Prayers and good thoughts are appreciated. 

Spend some extra time with your family this week.

Sudden Insights, This and That

Hi Everyone!

I wrote the Sudden Insights part of this post a couple of week ago but for some reason it only showed up on my Facebook page.  I’m adding to it this week.  My apologies for the wonkyness.

May 26, 2017: Sudden Insights

Who else is living through monsoon season? We had tornados yesterday in three counties including where my family lives and where we live. We are all safe and unscathed, but there were places with extensive damage. I have not heard of any injuries, but I would be not  be surprised if there were some. Most bad weather you have some time to prepare, but tornadoes are not so kind. I once had a tree go through my bedroom. I still get edgy during a storm thirty years later.

Thanks to a combination of monsoon weather (no gardening can be done in this relentless rain), a holiday week (before the long Memorial Day weekend) and one of my major suppliers moving their location (closed all week) I have had some extra time on my hands. Nope, as tempting as it is, I have not been napping. I have been painting and drawing.

After last week’s post about working on portraits I found myself very stressed and frustrated with the progress on those. In the wee hours of the night (my usual insomnia) I asked myself, “What do you REALLY like to do?”.  I looked at my past work and my Pinterest boards where I save artwork by other people that I like and am inspired by. 

Here is what I discovered:

I definitely do not like doing landscapes. I couldn’t find a single FINISHED landscape in all my past piles of work. Sketches, yes. Started paintings, yes. Other artists’ landscapes, yes. Finished work of my own? No. I have done buildings and house portraits but landscapes of sweeping vistas. No.  Clearly I need to just let that one go unless somewhere in the future I get struck with some sudden change in direction. I will just enjoy the views I see and the beautiful work by other people. 

Portraits of people cause me a great deal of stress.  Commissions especially, but even painting my own kids was stressful. Human faces are so subtle in their detail. A slight deviation of an eyebrow or curve of a lip changes a person into someone else.  It is especially hard to work from photos. So much detail is lost with bad lighting. Kudos to portrait painters who can do a true likeness from photos alone. If I were a portrait artist I would have to require in person sittings at least during part of the process.  The fact that my portraits have all been children or pets compounds the problem. It is a waste of time to try and get either to sit still!  All of my work has had to be with photographs, thus the stress to get it right. 

I won’t say that I will stop doing portraits because they make me dig deep to see, test and hone my skills and work on my patience level, but I think I will limit what I take on knowing how much stress they cause.  There have been times when I have had several right before Christmas and that was not fun.  

So what the heck do I like? THINGS! Seems I might be a still life painter.  Looking at past work and picking out the ones I got the most joy out of were things. Things in nature to be exact. Seashells, gourds, deer skulls, etc.  I like animals too and odd manmade things, particularly with rust involved.  I knew I had hit on something when my brain started popping out ideas like popcorn.  

I guess that all these years I never stopped to analyze what I really enjoyed. My time with pencils or paint was so limited I just jumped at the chance to do SOMETHING.  If you do creative stuff, you know there is such a joy to the process that you crave the time to spend doing it. Music, art, sewing, pottery, etc. is all an encompassing process that takes you out of normal life and into some other realm.  Now that I have some insight I can work accordingly. I can’t say plan accordingly because I rarely plan what my next project will be.  They seem to choose themselves! 

Here are a couple of things I have been working on this rainy week. My first horse painting is finished! Trust me, that is a big leap. 

I need to get back to the easel. Next week the weather clears up and we will probably have to use machetes to weed the garden. There will also be new additions to the farm this coming week that I will introduce you to. Wouldn’t it be horrible to get bored?! Not going to happen around here anytime soon!


June 9, 2017:  This and That

This week is one of those weeks that is hard to describe.  We have enjoyed several lovely evenings outside watching crazy chicken antics, various and assorted wildlife and birds and fun visits with the neighbors.  On the other hand it has involved either learning of the passing of friends’ parents or knowing that several are friends are in the final days or hours with a parent. Days of alternating joy and sadness.

My son is in his second week of his Iceland trip and currently offline in the wilderness there.  My daughter finished her last year of teaching and is transitioning to a new career. Danny and I will celebrate our 1st anniversary.  The ebb and flow of life.

I sought the comfort of my pencils this week with this fish drawing.  After the intensity of my Bob painting last week I needed the meditative process of drawing to ponder life’s changes. 

My thoughts and prayers are with my friends and children as they navigate endings and new beginnings. My thoughts and prayers are with any of you going through the same turbulent waters.

Peace be with you this week.

It can change in an instant

heart in hands

I had the beginnings of three different posts started to choose from this week, but yesterday (Sunday) changed all that.  A friend lost her 28 year old son in an accident.  Another local family lost their son on Friday in a separate accident.  Life changed in an instant.

Even though most of you would not have known the difference it seemed insane to write about a favorite book or website in the aftermath of such shocking news.  My heart hurts and grieves for them. The clarity of the very few things of true value pierces through everything else right now.

I saw my friend as she expertly directed a wedding Saturday afternoon, laughed and danced at the reception and went home to be awakened by the phone call no one wants to get.

I got the news when I walked in the door at church to set up for the service Sunday morning.  There is some comfort in corporate grief.  After the announcement we all sat in silent prayer because our assistant minister could not get the words out without tears. We understood completely.  Our Senior Minister had gone into his office early that morning after he received the call and changed his sermon to one that spoke of grief, the stages of grief, and how to comfort the grieving.  For now, all we can do is wrap them in our prayers, words of love, embraces and provide what basic tasks they need help with.

Like most people who have had five or more decades on this tiny planet, I have had some painful losses.  It seems as one gains the wisdom of experience the more one realizes that there is only a miniscule amount that we have control over.  We can let that lack of control drive us mad (and we all know people who do) or we can learn to embrace the people and the moments tightly, knowing that nothing is guaranteed to be there in an hour much less the next day.

This may seem to be a depressing post today.  I don’t mean it to be, but a sadness grips me right now.  This same weekend I had the delight of seeing the grown and newly engaged, daughter of my late dear friend and college roommate.  Due to circumstances beyond our control, my former college suitemates and I had lost contact with CV after her Mother’s death.  She had been very young at the time.  For oh so many years we thought of her, wondered how she was and prayed for her a wonderful life.  Through the power of social media we found her again and she made the trip with her fiancé to NC for a visit and to learn more about her lovely Mom.  What a wonderful thing to see what a beautiful, sweet, smart, down-to-earth woman she has turned out to be.  It was one of those times to pay attention to and wrap your heart around.

If someone out there happens to read this who is grieving, my prayer for you is that there are people near you to give comfort and if not, you will find your way to someone or someplace that can.  So many people resist a place of faith now, but a good one can truly be a saving grace.

For anyone who is taking what and who is important for granted right now, my prayer for you is that you will become aware and rectify the situation before it’s too late.  Regret is a terrible, awful thing to live with.

Quit working extra hours to buy the boat and go home to read to your kids.  Put down the phone and see your friends face to face.  Spend time with your parents and listen to their stories. Play fetch with your dog for the thousandth time just to see his tail wag. Don’t put off what you love to do until later.  Later your eyes may not see or your hands may not work like they do now, kids leave home, parents pass, friends suffer in silence, dogs are not here nearly long enough.  These are hard earned words, don’t take them for granted.