Percolating 

Hi Everyone! 

It has been a few weeks, but I finally made it back. Brace yourselves, this is probably going to be a long one. I hope all is well in your world! For my own well being I limit the amount of news that I let into my life, but I know that the turmoil and tragedies seem to be running rampant right now. More and more of my prayers are for healing and peace for our world and  earth as well as individuals. 

So on to fun stuff. Even though our crowd was smaller and the weather a bit damper than last year, we still had an enjoyable family gathering at our annual chicken stew.  Our menagerie of animals is always a draw and the highlight of the day (other than good food) is horseback rides for the kids and any willing adults.  We alway enjoy watching the kids who have never been on a horse before. Often they start out with a level of fear that quickly turns to sheer delight. We had that experience with three of the young cousins this time. So. Much. Fun.  


Spark Plug the donkey surprised me immensely. Normally he is a bit standoffish with new people, but he was absolutely Mr. Friendly with the kids. 


The following weekend we headed South to attend my daughter and son-in-law’s gender reveal party. Normally we stay with them when we visit, but with boatloads of family in town we rented the cutest little Airbnb Tiny House. I have been in love with the tiny house movement since it started and have often tried to imagine if I could live in one. I think they are one of the most creative ways people have come up with to avoid outrageous mortgage debt as well as have a very portable living space. These are pictures of where we stayed. The wooded lot made it feel like we were secluded from all the city around us. The huge window…I NEED one!


To answer the question of whether I could live in a tiny house, well, that is a yes and a no. Could I live in a 256 square foot space with a husband and a 12 year old?  Only in a survival situation!  The husband has long legs that get in the way and the 12 year old has too much energy as well as the family trait of loving to climb in high places. Could I live in a tiny house alone or with a dog? Absolutely! I might need a separate one for my art supplies though. 

The gender reveal revealed that it’s a GRANDSON on the way! I didn’t care one way or the other. And though I worry about this crazy world he’s entering, I am still looking forward to meeting him and finally getting to spoil a kid instead of the often difficult job of parenting. 


Behind the scene of all these events, something has been percolating since mid-summer, but was not defined or solidified enough for me to reveal. Hopefully the rudimentary plans have us going in the right direction and will eventually come together and hopefully on time. 

D. and I began to realize that our house really isn’t big enough now that we have another person living here full time and that I really need a work space. We aren’t in a tiny house but our house is smaller than most. We had talked about adding on, but there were some problems with that. Then we started talking about selling our place and buying another one nearby with more house, but more and more often I have been spending hours and hours on the road driving family members to appointments and the distance that we are away from everything was taking a toll.  I’m looking a several more years of taxi driving. Then my daughter announced her pregnancy and I began to remember how hard it was traveling from Virginia to North Carolina with babies in tow and knew it would be an ordeal for them to get up here to visit when most of the other family was in another area. 

To make months of discussions short, we have decided to move back to the community that D., myself and Miss L. are all from and build a house on my family’s farm. Yes, evidently my gypsy soul has one more move in her (this will be move #4 in 6 years when it’s all said and done). 

When we finally circled around to the idea, we realized that it solves several problems. We can get the size house we need, I will cut half of my taxi travel time, we will be closer to our church, we will be right there to help my family with maintaining the farm, there to help my parents, MUCH closer to all our kids and grandkids and Miss L. should be able to start high school with friends she had to leave. Whew!

Now the logistics of pulling this off are pretty daunting to me right now. I hate selling a house, much less a small farm. Trying to deal with showing a house and keep it spotless in our situation honestly makes me nauseous. It was bad enough when I did it with two kids and a dog in a suburban neighborhood. I’m wondering if we could actually live in a tiny house or RV long enough to sell the place so that it would stay show worthy clean. 

We also have to clear a good bit of land on the farm for a house, barn and minimum of three acres of pasture for the horses and donkey. Folks, where we are seriously considering has a good covering of kudzu. If you know about that %#*& stuff then you know what we are facing. Let’s just say that a herd of goats is in our very near future.  We have road frontage and hopefully a usable well already there. Our other option would require a driveway that would cost almost as much as the house and drill a well. Not easy options.  

That is our big news. Our intended timeline is the summer of 2020. I am simultaneously looking forward to this and dreading it.  Expect to see pictures of me wielding a chainsaw soon! It’s a beautiful place as these pictures I took Sunday on our walk around the place will show and it’s where I played and worked my entire childhood. Many memories bubbled up during our recent walks and I look forward to showing that new grandson this special place. 


Have an awesome week!

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A new season

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a lovely week. As usual mine seemed to fly past me in the blink of an eye. There were three soccer matches this week and one half day of organizing and cleaning one of our three storage units. I am trying very hard to get down to two as fast as possible. More doctor appointments. For a bunch of healthy people we seem to have a ridiculous amount of check ups. Lots of computer work and the usual yard, animal and house keeping. I’m pretty over mowing yards for the year!

We officially slid into Fall this week. I can’t say it feels like it yet. The air has been slightly cooler, but that is about the only real change. I have noticed an odd phenomenon though. Normally by now the leaves are beginning to change color, but this year they seem to just be dropping off. They just turn brown and fall. I don’t know if it’s because of all the rain we have had or what. I’m not wild about Fall anyway, but at least the color change is pretty while it lasts. It’s going to be very depressing if we don’t have some color. We are surrounded by mountains and I am not seeing color on the higher elevations yet either. It all feels very odd. I spend so much time outside now that my body seems to be more tuned into rhythm of the seasons and something is off right now. 

I had hoped to bring you some links to new items in my Etsy shop, but I’m doing some major updates to it and as usual, everything is taking longer than expected. It’s time for anyone selling anything to get ready for 4th quarter holiday shopping so I’m doing my part. Maybe next week. We only have two soccer matches this coming week. 

Now that the garden is done (and unfortunately the hurricane drowned most of our baby Fall plants) D. and I have been able to decide and narrow down future plans and projects. We have simplified many of them and decided against some others altogether, like restoring the tobacco barn that sits in our front yard. We have had mixed feeling about it, but the time and money involved doesn’t seem to be worth the effort when it will only get used for storage and heaven knows we are trying our best to get rid of stuff to store. We have more pressing projects that will improve life around here but it will be sad to watch the deterioration of a piece of history. 

Along with the physical change in season I am also feeling a mental and emotional change as well. Life with Miss L. has settled into a nice groove as we watch her become more confident and mature. Last year was tremendously difficult for all of us, but especially her and the adjustments in all our lives took some big highs and lows. Now life feels more solid and smooth. 

As 2018 winds down I am also having to make the mental switch from being a parent to adding “grandparent” as a title. The reality has not completely sunk in yet. I am excited yet at the same time wondering once again how time got by me so fast.  Maybe because I am still parenting a middle schooler it seems like a strange time warp thing. 

We have other plans and projects in the works that will eventually make it here, but in the immediate future we have our annual chicken stew to plan and get ready for (this includes major yard and garden cleaning and house projects to finish), then the following week we will be traveling to Charleston for the grandbaby gender reveal party. Today I have chicken coop cleaning duty.  I know, I know. You are all jealous and wish you were me. ūüėČ

Have a great week and enjoy the Fall!

Rhythm & Routine

Hi Everyone!

Yes, I’m back and hopefully will be back on my weekly schedule now. No guarantees, but the near future looks promising!

I had a lovely visit with my daughter and son-in-law last week. I will fill in details of their visit next week, but it also included getting a brief visit with my son who was house and pet sitting for my sister and brother-in-law. I have to squeeze in every opportunity since they do not live close. 

Summer is winding down here. This morning the air had a hint of Fall. I am NEVER ready for cold weather so I am trying to soak in all the heat I can. Yes, people think I’m crazy, but it is not unusual for me to be wearing a long sleeve shirt in the air conditioning. 

School starts back in two weeks. Woo hoo! I am ready to get back into a routine around here. Miss L. cannot complaint about her summer. I’m pretty sure she has only spent a total of three weeks at home. After next week, one month. We have packed, unpacked and packed again. 

Speaking of routine, I thought I would share some info that might help some of you out there. I feel like I blab every week about the crazy stuff out here and bless you, you keep reading. But in the spirit of giving and sharing I really should pass along useful stuff occasionally.

By nature I am an organized person though it might not always look like it to the causal observer. There are times life is organized chaos. When I moved out here to The Middle of Nowhere in 2016 I left a totally different life that I had lived for almost 20 years. I had virtually every convenience within a ten minute drive. I had daily interaction with other human beings. Now I have moved many times over the years, but this move was not just a location change, but a lifestyle change. One that I had no way of preparing for. The nearest grocery store is now a 30 minute drive. I now go DAYS where I only have the company of my husband, niece and various and assorted animals of the domesticated and wild variety. Let’s just say that the transition has not necessarily been easy or pleasant all the time.

For two winters now I have struggled through my usual winter blues but with the addition of a lack of routine that left me unmotivated and rather disheveled. Winter One I was just out of my element and hadn’t found my rhythm yet. Winter Two was spent recovering from the high level stress of eight months of a family crisis. My almost daily uniform consisted of yoga pants and a t shirt or pjs. I work from home and just couldn’t find the motivation to get properly dressed unless I had to go out in the world. Add to this state of affairs, Winter One, D. and I had combined 30 years of household stuff and were sorting out what to keep and what to get rid of, then Winter Two we were buried in family stuff that landed on us in literally trailer loads. It was all just freaking overwhelming and depressing! 

Blessed Summer 2018! Spring always makes me happy and this year as the rhythm of the season settled into my bones, I started to make some progress out of the confusion.  My first hour of work has been in the garden and with the animals each day. The sunlight and sounds of just nature and the company of goofy, loveable critters has been wonderful. It has been slow progress, but the house is beginning to rid itself of boxes and piles. The yard, though fringed along the outskirts with weeds from the over abundance of rain, does not have the look of a jungle that it did last summer when we barely had time to eat or clean. I no longer want to cry when I pull into the driveway. 


I have begun to find a routine again for the domestic affairs that have to happen daily and my biggest goal is to get regular hours for my artwork once school is back in and the garden is put to bed or at least down to manageable Fall levels. If you happen to be in the Land Of Overwhelmed, let me suggest the Flylady.net website. YEARS ago I found her when I was juggling a family business, four bedroom house and yard and two non-stop kids. She had a manageable and sensible way to keep house that my ADD squirrel brain could handle. I did not osmosis the domestic gene from my Mom because I much preferred to help my Dad with the outside chores. I needed help. I never got all the routines down pat, but learned enough to keep house reasonably well. 

Recently I found both “A Better Life With Flylady Kat” and “Diane In Denmark” on YouTube that refreshed my memory about the routines and I am back on board. I have only been at it for two weeks but can already see a difference in the house and my schedule and my squirrel brain. The two HUGE boxes of paperwork that piled up last year is cut in half and I will soon have all that filed and put away.  I suggest watching Kat for very detailed instructions on how the system work and Diane if you need some wardrobe improvement (I will not ever be as well dressed as she is, but I have upped my game to decent shorts, tshirt, mascara and earrings!) and want to see what life is like in Denmark. 


One more important tool for Life Reboot is my new planner from my daughter and SIL. I needed to go back to paper and they did so good. It’s cute but not too froufrou and has STICKERS. It makes those daily lists much more fun. 

Ok, there are my tips for the week. I have to get going and finish laundry and tomato canning today. Get out of the grungy sweatpants and rock your week! 

Regeneration

Hi Everyone!

I hope you had a great week. We are about half way through January now. How are those resolutions going? Are you one of those folks who pick a word for your year? You know, one word that signifies what you want to accomplish or hope to bring more of into your year. Something like, Health or Focus?  I have been thinking about what word I would pick for 2018 and decided on Regeneration. 


So why Regeneration, you ask? Well, last week, right after I posted to this blog, I walked over to my computer and hit SEND on one of the most difficult emails I have ever sent.  It was an email to my clients informing them of my decision to retire from 30+ years in the graphic design/ printing industry. 

The thought behind this decision began about February of last year as I looked at my profit & loss statement while doing my taxes. I realized that my expenses were about to overtake my profits. There were several factors for this including higher costs for software and a great deal more travel time. D. and I discussed what would I do to replace the income if I closed my business but to be honest there were not many feisible options where we live. 

Fast forward about seven months and I find myself a parent again and beginning to fall into a different part time business while still running my main business. It was obviously a little too much on one plate. Without going into all the boring details, once again God was telling me that a change was in order. I’ve been through this enough times now to know not to fight it. If I fight it things will get much worse and I will still find myself exactly where He wants me to be eventually anyway. I learn hard, but I do learn!

Also in all the crazy that was going on, D. and I realized our health was suffering. We both were struggling with insomnia, were mentally and physically worn down, not eating right and not getting proper exercise. Once again we were responsible for someone else’s well being and we did not have the option of a major health crisis. We had hoped to get a lot more taken care of at his sister’s house before it went up for sale, but exhaustion was setting in and things at our home were falling apart. We had given it our best but it was time to stop the insanity. 

When D. retired last March, we had visions of travel and much more time for our many hobbies. Well we all know how those best laid plans go, but at our age we don’t have unlimited time to do the things we have been putting off. Roll all these factors together and you will see that we have to adjust, renew and grow into a new and unknown direction now. 

What we do know is that we have a lovely young girl who needs stability and guidance. We know we have to look after ourselves to give it to her. No more working two and three jobs like both of us did when we and our other kids were younger. But we both deserve and desperately need some time to chase some dreams and enjoy some things that we have put off for a very long time. 

I am probably right now more than a little jealous of some of you and my close friends who are traveling to awesome places that I have always wanted to go. It’s a very real struggle. We had some cool plans in the works. We aren’t writing them off, but they will be delayed and different now.  To deal with the disappointment and to be sane and pleasant people we have to give ourselves the gift of time instead. Time to rest, renew our energy, find our new normal and grow in ways we didn’t know existed. A REGENERATION of our lives. 

I have a new and interesting part time income stream that does not include hours of driving every week or rushing to make sure I’m back in time to pick up Miss L. Those two things alone relieve a huge stress load and I have more time. More time that I can finally give to my artwork that has slowly but steadily been bringing in more income as well. It’s pretty much now or never. I don’t have any guarantee that I have until the age of 80 to start an art career like Grandma Moses and the desire to make stuff has been the one and only constant of my five decades. I think I owe it a higher ranking for its consistency and perseverance if nothing else…like the fact I need it like oxygen. 

So there you have it.  REGENERATION in 2018 in whatever form it takes. I expect an interesting year. 

I don’t hear from many of you, but would love to.  Share your goals, resolutions and/or words.  Have an awesome week!

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.

Back Story – Fulfilling a promise. Part One.

I don’t make promises lightly.¬† I take them very seriously, put a great deal of thought into them before I commit and at this point in my life I only know of one promise I have been unable to fulfill due to events beyond my control.¬† A promise may take longer to fulfill than anticipated, but it is always in the back of my mind and will nag at me until I can follow through.

Starting this week I thought I would give you some back stories about why I write this blog, why I do some of the things I do and what is behind some of my artwork.  What goes on here often feels random to me so I imagine it does to you too if you take the time to read this craziness, but there is a constant thread running throughout.

From my earliest memories I only remember wanting to do one thing consistently and that was to make art is some form or fashion.  The smell of crayons still invoke memories of mark making by my tiniest self.  There were complaints from my family members when I would ask them not to move while I drew them watching TV in the evening.  I spent hours hiding under a tree making tiny stick villages and stories about the people in the village.

It was always in my head that this is what I would do all my life.¬† Keep in mind that I grew up in a rural community and art was not accessible except in books, so where this ability or notion came from had to have been genetically installed somehow.¬† I did not have artistic family members to learn from.¬† As my Mom has said of me, “she was born with a pencil in her hand”.

I am not one of those people who will say that they had supportive people surrounding them.  Quite frankly, I had very little support.  I had a couple of teachers that encouraged my work, but otherwise I was expected to shoot for a practical career, so for a compromise I got my art degree, but with a concentration in graphic design instead of the studio art I would have preferred.

After college, life kicked in full force.  I got a job as a designer/illustrator with a newspaper and eventually was an art director at a small ad agency.  There came marriage, kids, a printing company we owned and eventually a divorce and a life reboot.  All this time I squeezed in drawing, painting, making of some sort wherever I could.  A couple of large sketchbooks full of future paintings were often my only art. It was not unusual for me to sell a piece of work here and there or get a commission on a fairly regular basis if once a year is regular.  Trying to keep two kids in food, clothing and shelter often required me to work two jobs and I was too darn tired to pick up a paint brush.

Try as I may, I could not find any regular time to do what I loved to do the most.¬† I can’t tell you how many times I almost threw away all my art supplies because I found it so depressing to see them and not use them.¬† At some point when my kids were young and busy, busy, busy I realized that I had to quit beating myself up for not being able to create lovely artwork while sitting in a minivan at an hour of soccer practice five days a week.¬† Trust me, I TRIED!

I couldn’t tell you the date, but somewhere in that era of time I made myself a promise.¬† I promised my exhausted, stressed, often depressed, over worked self that I would do everything in my power to raise these two lovely humans I gave birth to, into good, kind, productive members of the human race and THEN, God willing, I would let myself have the time to draw, paint, make, whatever my heart desired.

And that, my friends, is where I find myself now.  I would love to tell you that it is easy and perfect fulfilling this promise to myself, but I am finding that a promise to myself may be the hardest promise I have ever had to fulfill.

I will leave off here to continue next week for Part Two of the story.

Have a wonderful week!

Photo credit

 

Stepping up

Hi Everyone,

Hope you had a lovely week.¬† Here in North Carolina we are alternating between Winter, Monsoon Season and Spring.¬† In other words, every day is a weather adventure.¬†nc-weatherI just logged in to write a new post and realized that this one did not go out last week.¬† I am so sorry! Darn it, I was even ahead of myself for once.¬† So, here is what you were supposed to have last week and I will now go and write this week’s post for next week.¬† So much for the best laid plans.

This past week became a big decision week for me.  I have been sort of lost as to what direction I need to go in career wise for the past six months.  Usually I have my design business plus a side job for backup.  I lost my office manager job when I got married and moved to the hills and have been wandering around somewhat aimlessly since then during the hours I would normally be working there.

As D.s retirement is upon us the end of next month we have been going through the budget with a fine tooth comb and checking it twice. There are not many part time employment opportunities locally and we both still need to work (even if we didn’t financially then for our sanity).¬† So, I’m going to do what I have always wanted to do and that is to see if I can make a decent income from what I create.¬† I’m making this art/craft/maker/designer gig full time now.

I have started on a new work schedule.  Those of you who work from home probably know, it is easy to lose focus when the laundry/dishes/yard all need attention. I have to write it down and look at it several times a day until it becomes a routine.

There have been hours of research the past couple of days.  Thanks to a nasty head cold and guilt for being sick, research has been conducted from a prone position on the sofa, but surprisingly productive considering.  I have a long list of sites to sell my work, boat loads of info on SEO, hashtags and social media strategies.  You will probably see a new website and blog layout here soon.

I realized that I have stacks and stacks of work already that with a little more attention could be good work to put out there in the world.¬† As most artists/creators are, I’m very critical of my own work and often get frustrated and shove it in a drawer before it is either finished or given a fair evaluation. Here is an example of a piece I started last week and sort of like, but then again…

Along with the career decision, I have started, once again, to clean out and organize all our stuff.¬† I say ours, but most of it is mine.¬† There is a box of paper scraps getting donated to a friend who works with kids at her church and old magazines and reference photos going away, dried up paint and markers have been cleaned out.¬† Here are some of the harder things to let go of… ¬†¬†

And now that deer season is over it is time to get back to house remodeling, garden planning, barn, chicken coop and dog fence building.  Nope, BOREDOM is never mentioned here!

Join me and go do something this week you have always wanted to do, but scares the heck out of you!

 

Photo credits…I have no idea about the NC weather, but all others are from yours truly.

Life – Phase 4

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Slowly but surely some semblance of order is taking shape around here.¬† I say that while our washing machine sits in the kitchen.¬† The laundry room is getting it’s new floor finally.¬† The whole floor tiling ordeal began¬†because¬†of the¬†laundry room when there was water damage from our leaking hot water heater.¬† I have been looking a subfloor all these months and am beyond ready to have that covered up.¬† Then, all I have left is our powder room.¬† You would think a tiny little bathroom would be easy, BUT I wanted a new cabinet in there and if you are going to have to take up the toilet, you might as well replace the child size one with an adult size one.¬† So, this week there has been a chunk of bathroom improvement shopping.¬† Our poor bank account!

I titled today’s post “Life – Phase 4” because as I settle into my new life I realized that we don’t actually break our lives down into neat little bits anymore than life ever goes completely aggravation free even¬†during the best parts.

In my head, Phase 1 was childhood through my early 20’s, Phase 2 was married life and early motherhood, Phase 3 was divorced and single mom and now I am at Phase 4, remarried and empty nest.¬† There are varying numbers of years in each phase, but the common denominators are big life changes.

How many times do you hear people refer to¬†their lives¬†as, “after I got married”, “when my second child was born”, “after I lost my job”, “when Mom was sick”, or “after my husband died”?¬† The big, pivotal life events are our markers.¬† Sometimes we can’t even remember the year all that clearly, but the event is burned in our soul.

These time markers aren’t planned either.¬† I’m sure the 2016 Summer Olympians will always mark these couple of weeks on their life calendars, but I suspect they will not actually be the beginning of a new life phase.¬† Probably in many cases it will be a moment like, “the first time I swam the length of the pool when I was seven” or “after my shoulder injury I had to make up my mind to keep going”.¬† Time markers are deeply relational and/or deeply emotional.

Sometimes we get stuck in a phase.¬† I know people who seem to be stuck and unable to move forward in life because of grief, unforgiveness or fear. In limbo is not a good feeling. I have been there.¬† The problem is that you can’t rush it, but you do have to deal with it.¬† Head on.¬† Running away or avoiding just makes it worse.¬† Wallowing in it should only be allowed for a limited time. Two weeks most likely, not two years.¬† People start avoiding you if you wallow too long.

If you have some down time this week, kick back and think about your life phases.¬† Enjoy the memories of the good ones and pat yourself on the back for surviving the bad ones.¬† If you are in a bad one, be good to yourself and know that you will get through it. You probably have some work to do, but are capable.¬† Don’t think you aren’t and there are people who can help if you need it.¬† We all do sometimes.¬† Life ain’t for sissies!

Have a great week!  I am working on my writing skills and subjects, so if you have suggestions or ideas please let me know.

 

Photo by Brooke Campbell