Thankful 

Hi Everyone!

I hope my U.S. readers had a wonderful Thankgiving and that the rest of you had a lovely week. Our Thanksgiving was nice though a few were missing from the table. My uncle who normally joins us, is not in great health and did not come this year. His always funny stories were missed as well as the brother banter between him and my Dad as they compare and argue over childhood misadventures. 

We had much to be thankful for this year. My daughter and son-in-law were with his family for Thanksgiving and though they were missed we are very thankful that the miscombobulated mess with my SIL’s job got sorted out and they were able to finally close on their house right before the holiday and host his family for Thanksgiving in their new home without a cloud of worry hanging over them. 

My son got home for a brief visit and is doing well. I will report later if he will be home for Christmas or off on another travel adventure. 

On Wednesday we welcomed our former trainee, Walker, back to our herd. His owners decided that their daughter had lost interest in riding. When we took him back to them in August after training we told them we would take him back should they decide to get rid of him. Let’s just say that when he came to us last Spring he was not in good condition and we were concerned to be taking him back to them. When he left us he was at full body weight. Though not as bad this time, he will be getting some extra food to cover those ribs and hip bones again.

When Miss L. came to live with us we asked her if she would be interested in riding and eventually having a horse of her own. Of course she said yes, but having a horse comes with much work and responsibility. So she has had daily barn chores for the horses for over a year now. She has learned them and done the work without too much grumbling (I have yet to meet a middle schooler that doesn’t have some complaints) so we have now given her Walker (who has been renamed Cinder) as her own horse. Of course the responsibility level went up as she will now be in charge of cleaning his stall (D. has been taking care of stall cleaning for all the horses) and Cinder comes with a full flowing mane and tail that will require as much upkeep as her own long hair. 

Cinder is a Tennessee Walker (thus the so-lacking-in-creativity former name) with a super gentle and friendly personality. We think he will be a good fit for her and since D. trained him we know the areas where he needs extra work as she becomes more proficient in her riding skills. I’m just happy to know he is going to be taken care of now. I fell hard for his sweet nature and couldn’t stand the thought of him alone in that pasture without his friends or proper food. 


We had to take Sweetie Pie the cat to the vet yesterday. The vet thinks she just has a virus so she is confined to her crate (which seriously cuts into her gypsy lifestyle) with meds for the next week. With it as cold and nasty as it is, she is not complaining too loudly about her time in the barn with a big warm blanket. We are thankful she doesn’t seem to have anything worse than a cold. We have gotten pretty attached to her as well. 

It’s a cold, rainy/icy day here today, but the wood stove is going and there will be Christmas decorating happening to add some cheer to this super gloomy day. I hope you all have a great week. Stay warm and safe. 

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Spring is MIA!

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a great week. We are impatiently waiting on Spring. The calendar says it is here but evidently no one told Mother Nature. We had several inches of snow here Saturday night and today is cold and rainy. Where are my 70 degree days??? My toes want to thaw out and walk around without socks. 

This past week was eventful. Thursday my Mom had a health scare and I stayed with her for a few hours in the ER. Because she had recently had knee surgery there was some concern she might have a blood clot, but everything checked out fine and she returned home. 

Saturday I got to spend some time with high school friends at a beginners quilting class that the quilting guild in my hometown held. One of my friends is quite the quilter and ran the class along with several other members of the guild. I have been dabbling in quilting, but had only learned what I could via YouTube and blogs. It was nice to get some real instruction plus get caught up with old friends.  Here is my soon to be finished table quilt. I hope to get it quilted tonight and the binding done by the end of the week. 

Saturday night…more snow. 

I have started several art projects and have a commission I can finally start. I’ve been playing with some new things and processes and finally should have prints of my egg painting in my Etsy shop this week. 

This week Miss L. is on Spring break so yesterday was a marathon shopping day. She has outgrown most of her spring and summer clothes so we needed to get a jump on replacing them before the weather gets warm…eventually. We wore out and ran out of time before we finished so Thursday will probably be another shopping trip. 

I have big plans for Spring cleaning this weekend and continuing on my kitchen remodel. Honestly, my plans always outweigh my time so we shall see. We also have some Easter plans that we hope include some sunshine and warmer weather. 

Oh yeah, the infamous Bob (our always mischievous horse) got out of his stall and turned over all our newly filled cups of soil for seed planting. Insert eye roll here. Just a normal week in Crazyville.

Have a Happy Easter and/or mischievous April Fool’s Day!!

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

I’m doing it! 

Hi Everyone!

Lots of To Do’s have been done around here this week. We finished a shelf for the bathroom, more work on the barn, garden and yard, ordered new tires for my car (yuck) and today we will be getting up hay (double yuck).  Life as usual. So how are things in your world going?

I won’t blather on this week, but I am patting myself on the back a little.  Now that I have some time back to call my own and knowing next week will be a slow work week thanks to Memorial Day weekend and one of my printing suppliers being closed, I jumped into the BIG scary stuff. 

Over the years I have drawn many portraits in pencil and charcoal, but if I painted portraits it was back when I used crayons. Even during college I don’t remember any of my art classes requiring painted portraits. Lots of drawings of people, but no paintings. 

After completing the grandpup paintings I have been feeling a little more confident as my skills with acrylic paints have started to return. In case you are wondering, I do not use oil paints. I don’t like dealing with the solvents and I have no patience with all the drying time involved. I appreciate them and love the blend-ability, but that is where my love for them ends. I may try them again one day and change my mind, but I’m not there yet. 

So, this week I drug out some photos of my kids in the early years and have jumped into portrait painting.  These are still works in progress and there have been several moments of total frustration. I realized today that my easel was turned the wrong way. Once I situated it where the natural light was on the painting life got much better.  Don’t you hate those slap yourself moments? 

Honestly, it is freaking terrifying! I think painting my own kids was a bad decision. I know their faces so well and the events and emotions tied up in these that it makes them harder to paint than someone I don’t know. My next attempts will be of strangers. Do not be surprised if I ditch these and redo them in the future. Overall though I’m getting the feel for this process and I’m not hating these paintings. Practice, practice, practice!


Have a great week and go do something terrifying!

Do not open that door yet!

Why does it seem to be the “simple” things that turn out so difficult?  Monday gave me a false sense of mastery I guess. I managed to get our taxes done without too much pain and agony even with all the life changes this year.

Then Tuesday I decided to upgrade this website to a new and improved version with a new theme and bells and whistles. Let’s see, five and a half hours later I gave up and requested a refund for the upgrades I paid for. Yes, I over estimated my technology skills!

If you have been a reader you may have noticed I did make some changes (and more to come), but nothing major.  Just a slightly different theme.

What I did realize a few days later was that I wasn’t ready for any major changes here yet.  I got ahead of myself.  I had been on a roll with artwork and then putting some work in a consignment shop, then making changes to my Etsy shop.  There hasn’t been enough time for those improvements to kick in yet.

Am I the only one that rushes into things?  I get an idea and run with it before I have thought the process out.  Tuesday was one of those times when the door stayed shut for a reason.  Eventually I would have had to cancel the upgrades because I don’t have the income to support them yet and I’m not sure I would have been able to come back to this free version at that point.

At least I learned how to backup this site so I don’t lose all this valuable (ha, ha) content in case I do something stupid in the future.  One baby step at a time!

I did get in a chicken drawing this week though!  Yes, I’m using my skill with a pen to pacify my bruised ego right now. I think after Tuesday’s debacle I will go draw the rooster too.

hen-drawing

Have a great week and don’t go through any doors you aren’t ready to have slammed behind you!

 

 

 

 

Door photo credit – Adam Birkett

For your viewing pleasure 

Hi Everyone!

I just want to start off by saying how very grateful I am that the election is behind us. I’m not getting into a political statement, but am hoping the worst of the ugliness is behind us. I miss the days when politics and religion were considered inappropriate subjects for conversation and were limited to discussion among family only. Everyone seems to want kindness and understanding and yet dissolve into name calling and tirades. It is just a sad state of affairs.

Moving on to more pleasant things, I thought after last week’s complaining about my painting skills I would do some research. If you haven’t read some of my earlier posts, I should warn you that I am a huge YouTube fan. Actually, I use YouTube as my general TV watching. 

In case you want some instruction to build your skills I am giving you some of my favorite YouTube channels to check out.

Painting, drawing, good advice: I have been following Lachri Fine Art for a while now. I watched and re-watched several of her videos this week. 

Other art sites: I just found these two. Jason Morgan-Wildlife Art and Christopher Lovell. Christopher’s art is very dark and generally not what I am into, but his drawing skills are amazing. Since I tend to love the details I enjoy watching him work. Jason does lovely wildlife paintings, offers reference photos, reviews products and give instruction.  Check out Colour In Your Life for interviews with artists in Australia and New Zealand. 

Here are some of my other non-art related favorite channels (links not included because I’m running out of time this morning): Yoga with Adriene, FitnessBlender, Don The Fat Bee Man and FernDog Training. Trust me, there are many more but my time is limited and I need to save some for later posts.

Here is what is on the drawing board this week. I thought using orange paper was a good idea when I started but WHAT WAS I THINKING? It has been a challenge.


We are experiencing a very dry Fall here. Enjoy the view, but do a rain dance for us please. Our mountains are on fire as I write this. Prayers for the folks having to evacuate their homes would be welcome as well.


Have a lovely week!

Young at brain

I started this post early last week then got caught up in several projects we have going on around here and totally and completely forgot to finish it. Ironic considering the title.

When I am NOT forgetting things, I have been TRYING to keep my brain young. This doesn’t mean taking Ginko supplements (though maybe I should!) or doing Suduko (even my best young brain couldn’t do that).  It means I have been trying very hard to not catch myself saying things like, “when I was young we had more sense than that”, or “the world is going to hell in a hand basket” (Just how old IS that saying? Who even knows what a hand basket is anymore).

I remember hating to hear old(er) people rant and rave about the younger generation as if the young uns just invented stupid. Stupid has been around a long time and is not limited to a post baby boomer age group.

night-skyphoto-1473376701383-7ad74b5611e1

So, I have been trying to look at the world through younger eyes and see what is going on out there. I listen to my kids and other young adults I run across to get a perspective that I do not generally glimpse in my everyday life.

In many ways I think the 20 somethings will be smarter in the long run than my generation. They recently watched their parents navigate the Great Recession and are more careful with their money.  At least my kids have realized that McMansions are not the great investment the Baby Boomers thought they were. They are also much more aware of the environmental impact we are wreaking on earth. They live in a global world. My generation at best had a national world or regional world. Our perspective on life in another country may have come from a pen pal you wrote once a month or saw a little of on the nightly news.  I now keep up with numerous people daily all over our amazing dot via Instagram. How freaking cool is that!

I listen to friends complain about how bad, lazy, uninformed, etc. young people are.  First, I remember how utterly boring the news was until I reached the age of tax paying! Second, I have the amazing pleasure of spending one week each year with high school and college age young adults. In that week they repair around seven homes for people who do not have the financial and/or physical ability to make their homes safe, warm and dry. This is done in 90 degree heat and usually involves mud and bugs as well. And unlike many adults they do not complain!  Five straight days of sleeping in a gym, enduring subpar showers, generally not eating as much as they like and NO COMPUTERS. All this is handled with good humor and patience.

From my perspective, if these amazing young people don’t catch the “we have alway done it this way” disease from us, we have hope for the future. They despise our political system and well they should. Our Constitution has been whittled away at by both parties. Hopefully these bright and compassionate up and comers will clean up the mess.  I don’t believe they are as influenced by money and power.  They have seen what it does to society.

Not only do I want to stay young at heart as the years continue to pile up, but I want to stay young at brain.  I don’t want to shut down fresh ideas or not listen to and consider the views of our younger generations. They have such a different world than the one I came into.  I think it is going to fall on their shoulders to save the human race if the current powers that be don’t destroy it first.

Photo by Tyson Dudley

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!

 

Impatience and Disappointment

I forgot.  No excuses.  I just forgot to write a post last week.  I remembered on Saturday evening.  It was even on my To Do list and I still forgot.  I will try not to let that happen again…at least not soon.

At my age you would think that I had learned to be patient in how long things take.  Every time I think I have learned that lesson something else comes along to prove otherwise.

Right now I am aggravated in how long it is taking me to get my work space set up and workable.  I make progress, then something needs to be fixed in the house and here comes all the furniture, appliances, boxes, etc. piled back into my office and it clutters my mind as well as the space.

Last week we finally resolved some car issues that took about a month longer than I would have liked.  It all turned out fine, but my impatience stresses me out for no good reason.

I think there is a serious conversation going on here.
I think there is a serious conversation going on here.

I have been “helping” D. train our horse, Bob.  My helping means I hold the rope and pet the horse when he (Bob) gets stressed. I am trying to learn from D’s patience.  It is one TINY step at a time teaching a horse his ground manners and to accept a rider.  Today consisted of just showing Bob the blanket and putting on and taking it off his back, then trying the same thing with the saddle.  Bob was not thrilled with the saddle.  D. would let him smell it, touch it to his side, then walk away with the saddle.  I have no idea how long this process will last until Bob will calmly accept the saddle on his back.  Three weeks ago Bob wasn’t happy about a bit in his mouth either, but now hardly notices it.

So, I’m trying to keep in mind that life is more of a slow, one step forward, two steps back process.  Eventually you get where you want to go, but it is rarely in our perceived timeframe.

This week’s other life challenge is dealing with disappointment.  Disappointment mainly in people.  I have had two incidents where people I have a high regard for have let me down.  I know things happen and I know business decisions are rarely easy, but the customer service has been highly disappointing.  In my business things go wrong also, but I do my best to make amends and resolve the issue that makes the customer, if not ecstatic, at least satisfied that I did my best to help them.  One of these situations will result in me not using the business again, the other I am waiting to see how it plays out.  I hate feeling this way.  I am a peace, love, give a hug person who despises conflict.  Unfortunately, in our flawed humanity conflict is often more the norm.

A abundance of Zinnas means you draw Zinnas!
A abundance of Zinnas means you draw Zinnas!

On a brighter note, I have found a tiny bit of space to work on drawing and painting again.  I even managed to dig out the sewing machine and make a cushion cover for a chair that the dogs were beginning to cause damage to with their nails.

Oh, and salsa!  We are making salsa and canning it this week.  That just makes me happy.  Fresh tomatoes turned into salsa that I can eat in February and have a taste of summer all over again.  As Martha says, “it’s a good thing.”

I have a salsa addiction.
I have a salsa addiction.

 

And a little more education

Happy Halfway Through February!  If you read last week’s post you know that I do not like the month of February.  By now I am getting cabin fever and needing Spring badly.

I’m running behind today so this might be short depending on how my morning goes.  Last week I talked about how I seem to be using YouTube often to learn new things.  No tuition required!  That has been continuing into this week as well.  I have been studying how to install tile.  I will let you know how that goes in a few weeks. Prayers requested.

Here is a little watercolor painting I did last week. It is actually a jungle illustration.  I can show you the finished product in March.

Jungle background 2

What else have I done this week? Oh, I fixed one FABULOUS dinner with a honey sriracha sauce.

I IMG_2762have been leery of taking on Asian cooking since a seriously botched Chinese dish about a decade ago that my children still laugh about.  It was so bad that we actually ate grilled cheese sandwiches instead.

Something that has been increasingly on my mind is the state of our planet Earth.  I have no desire to get into the politics of the environment, and I am not a member of any environmental group, but my intuition is ringing loud and clear that we are very likely on the tipping point of saving or destroying ourselves.  I believe the Earth will recover from our selfishness and arrogance, but we probably will not.

My kids have called me their “hippy momma” forever because I have always been the recycling, vegetarian, food-growing kind of gal.  It just seems to be in my DNA to make my lifestyle as earth friendly as I reasonably can.  Not to say I can’t do better.  I am always looking for little tweaks to improve.  So, starting next week I am just going to add to my posts ways to make small lifestyle adjustments or pass along some information that might be a light bulb moment for someone to take action toward healing our home.

We can pass laws and clamor for corporations and governments to do something to stop ruining our earth, water and air, but it will still come down to human beings taking responsibility for their actions each and every day to stop the destruction of ourselves.  No more ignoring the signs of things to come.  Poverty and suffering are only going to get worse if we don’t clean up the water, air and dirt. I have no control over wars starting or ending and am not even sure that the vote I cast in an election counts, but each little effort I undertake at least makes my tiny minuscule drop in the ocean one better drop.

Aren’t I just a ray of sunshine today? Oh, go out and hug a tree.  You will both feel better.

Have a wonderful week!