Spring meet Summer

Hi Everyone,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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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!!

It’s not the years

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to Spring if you are on the Northern Hemisphere. Actually it doesn’t feel like Spring here at all. Currently it is snowing and there is yet another three hour delay for school. I’m very glad I got more honey to my bees on Monday because there are not may good days for them to get out and forage for the next couple of weeks. 

I have finally started some new artwork but will have to wait until next week to get photos. There were plans to get new work in my Etsy store, but there were delays in getting the scans done. Today there will be delays on several projects thanks to the snow and school delay. Sigh. Dang, just got notice that school is now closed. Our Northern friends would die laughing at what these kids get out of school for around here. 

Last week was tough. We had two funerals. 

The first was for our beloved Muffin kitten (aka The Muffinator). Muffin was born Feline Leukemia positive. We think her Mom, Sweetie Pie, has probably overcome the disease now but we haven’t had her tested yet to find out for sure. Muffin was the only survivor in the litter. 

Muffin never got bigger than 3.5 lbs in her 5 months and 6 days of life, but no one told her she was tiny. She came into this world full of curiosity and spunk. She would stand in the barn and never flinch as the horses stepped over her. One of her favorite places to play was in our biggest horse’s stall…while he was in it!  She loved to chase our chickens who were about four times her size. She was so tiny that she could squeeze between the wire to get into the run while I was cleaning the coop and hunt chickens. She went into the bee yard with me and swatted bees. 



We were constantly vigilant about Muffin’s whereabouts because she was always living life on the edge AND she was the perfect snack size for much of the wildlife around here. Every time we heard a hawk we ran to find Muffin and put her in her kitty condo to keep her safe. D. often stuck her in his coat pocket while he was working because she had no fear of power tools and thought nothing of playing right beside a running skil saw! 

When we found out that Muffin had Feline Leukemia we did not tell Miss L. but decided to give the little rascal the best life we could for as long as she had. The vet had suggested putting her to sleep right away. I no longer see that vet. What the vet didn’t know was that this kitten had this great big heart to go along with her great big bravery.  When we let her out of her condo everyday she didn’t run off to play. Instead she jumped into your arms, crawled onto your shoulder and sat there and purred. Her first choice always, was to be held and played with. She was perfectly content in a coat pocket or the hoodie of your sweatshirt or riding on your shoulder.  She often rode with me to pick up Miss L. from school and did so sitting on my shoulder watching the world go by. 

Last week we noticed Muffin getting thin and Miss L. reported that she wasn’t eating. D. noticed she was coughing. On Friday I called the vet for an appointment. They could work her in after I picked up Miss L. I then had to tell Miss L. about Muffin’s disease and to be prepared for the worst.  After x-rays the vet showed me what was going on. Muffin’s little body was full of one, probably two large masses that were taking up 3/4 of her tiny body. She couldn’t eat and was struggling to breathe because the tumors were so big. Even her tiny heart was being pushed out of place. We had no choice about what to do. I called D. and he drove over as Miss L. and sat and cried and loved on The Muffinator.  We were all there with her to the end.

This little ball of fluff gave us so much love, fun and laughter in her short life.  When she was born we were going through one of the most stressful times of any of our lives. She was the bright spot in the dark. She made even non-cat loving folks love her. Muffin will be missed for a long time. 

Our second funeral was for John S.  John was eighty-three and grew up with my Dad. John was a farmer and a barber and also my and D.’s very first employer. We went to work for him and his wife in their tobacco fields at the ripe old age of 11 for me and 12 for D.  We both have many good memories of the summers we worked for them. It was hard, hot work, but there was much laughter and looking back, life instructions.  We are glad that we went by to visit with them about a year ago. John had already had a stroke and wasn’t doing great. D.’s Dad died when he was thirteen years old. John became a second Father to him. John was a very humble man with a big heart and huge work ethic.  I can see those same traits in D. 

The funeral was probably one of the warmest and truest I have ever attended. Each family member spoke, including John’s wife of 63 years as well as friends in attendance.  I also don’t think I have ever been to a funeral with so many men moved to tears. Many, many friendships were made while sitting in John’s barber chair.  I can remember going with my Dad and listening to the men discuss life over haircuts. 

I have pondered these two recent funerals quite a bit this week.  You can focus on work, stuff, impressing people, etc., but in the end what do you leave?  It isn’t how long you lived or how big your house is or how impressive your job is that matters.  A five month old kitten and an eighty-three year old man left the same legacy.  The people they left behind knew without a shadow of a doubt that they were loved. 

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!

Rain and Roses

Spring is exploding all over the place and so is the To Do list here. It has been one big, busy week! We had a few days of good solid rain. Almost too much. Rivers were flooding. Luckily it stopped before things got bad. Now the grass needs mowing again. Why do we have grass?  There are better things to do with a piece of land than grow grass just to mow it down.

The bees are good so far. I am checking this weekend to see if I will need to add another box to their living space soon. 


Here is the state of my office/studio right now.  Soon to be the office/studio/guest room. I have five days to finish painting and rearranging this room. Wish me luck! 

I did finish the portraits of the grandpups and am pleased with how they turned out. It was only a few weeks ago that I was going to throw away my paint because I could not make them do what I wanted. Hopefully I have turned a corner on that.


It seems more people are trying to reduce the amount of plastic and trash in our world and we are on that journey as well as my daughter and son-in-law. She asked for some beeswax wraps so I figured out how to render some of the old beeswax and have this blob and some fabric to attempt making them. I will let you know how it goes.


And last but not least I will leave you with my roses that are starting to bloom. I LOVE SPRING!!


Next week my son graduates from college so we will be traveling and celebrating with him. I will try to get a post done, but if I don’t, you know why.

Go out and wallow in some fresh air and sunshine this week!

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?

Quirks

Harmon ParkIt is finally here. Spring and the official start to the floor tiling extravaganza. I know, you have been hearing me talk about it for months now. There may have been a little avoidance/procrastination going on coupled with some unexpected family commitments to delay the process. If all goes well this weekend I will post a photo or two to prove I actually did stick tile to floor.

This past week has consisted of more Spring cleaning than creative endeavors. Yard work last weekend while we had some decent weather then digging things out of storage to be donated to a couple of fundraising yard sales in April as well as a big town recycling event. Time to get rid of the ancient VHS players and old cell phones.

Last Sunday we had a conversation in church that has amused me all week. Who knew that a coffee pot could  cause so much division?

coffee yin yang

Have you ever thought about your personal little pet peeves and quirks? How did you acquire them? I think many of them are passed down through our families. You know, the “that’s the way it’s always been done” effect. Some are in reaction against the way it was done in our families. My sister and I will never wash dishes the way our Mom does because we had to do it her way growing up.

The same quirks you thought were charming in someone when you were dating will drive you to the brink of insanity after a couple of years of marriage. Wars may very well have started over quirks.

Our quirks are part of what makes us each unique beings. As hard as it is sometimes, we really should appreciate and celebrate the quirks in each other. Why does the way someone carries their money in their purse make someone else crazy? Or how towels get folded? That’s one of mine. I fold towels a certain way and that’s the way I want them done. Yep, much of it comes down to control issues. Does it really matter how the towels are folded if they are put up in a cabinet and very few people actually see them? It does to me!

How do you handle someone else’s quirks? How do other people handle yours? Can you find a way to appreciate them or at least compromise before World War Three breaks out?

I have claimed responsibility for my towel folding obsession and just do it myself rather than subjecting family members to “my way.” The same goes for the dishwasher. Have you noticed that the dishwasher is a HUGE issue? It is now understood at my house that my rearranging the dishes is not a statement of anyone else’s inadequacy, but just a hang up of mine. Well, that and the fact that my way is better!

So what was the subject of the church discussion?  One of “my kind” sinned by taking a cup of coffee from the pot that had not yet finished the brewing process. This set off a protest by D’s “kind” that the “sinner” had now effectively ruined the pot of coffee for everyone else! It was soon determined that the class was almost evenly split between the two coffee obsessed factions. It was left to the non-coffee drinkers to mediate. We consider them “heathens”, but for continued peace, love and understanding with our Christian brothers and sisters we practiced forgiveness and grace.

May your week be filled with understanding and grace for others and yourself. Happy Spring and Happy Easter!

 

Harmon Park photo by Christel Williams

Coffee photo credit

 

A bad winter attitude

Where does a week go?  I need for them to slow down a little.  What the heck am I saying? I am in the middle of a major winter blues episode.  No one around me wants time to slow down.  I am cranky, depressed, edgy and any number of other bad adjectives.  This happens every February and lingers until there is sufficient sunlight and warmth.  I NEED FLOWERS!  I NEED SPRING!!!

I will try to get through this post without unleashing any of the bad winter blues on you.  Just be thankful you don’t live with me.

Here is the project I was working on this month.  They decided to reveal the shows this week so I can show the illustrations now in all their glory.  I work for a community theatre and do the show logos for them.  These are for the upcoming 2016-2017 Season.

MASH was fairly cut and dry.  It was somewhat boring until I added the texture.MASH logo low res

Route 66 was my challenge.  They wanted a 50’s feel with neon or a jukebox, but it still needed the sign incorporated and had to be readable.  I had to go look for a tutorial to learn how to make neon in Photoshop.  Who knows if I will  ever need that skill again, but I pulled it off once! This has been the favorite of the four.  Guess the time involved paid off.Route 66 logo low res

Tarzan was the most fun.  I haven’t played with watercolor paints in a long time.  I am pleased with the way it turned out.  I should spend more time with the watercolor paints I think. Tarzan low res

And last, but not least was the Velveteen Rabbit.  A watercolor illustration was requested for this.  Originally I just had the rabbit, but they wanted the boy included.  I will admit that I get intimidated painting people in watercolor.  Well, any paint for that matter.  I am much more comfortable drawing people than painting them.Velveteen Rabbit low res

So those are my most recent projects.  They have been time consuming to say the least and have taken up most of my creative time this month.

As March rolls in I’m afraid my most creative project is going to be tiling floors.  We just ordered 500 square feet of tile last night.  D.H.  is trying to finish the barn and since I am the detail person (and am not capable of lifting rafters on a roof) I will soon be up to my eyeballs in mortar, tile and grout.

As I promised last week, I am starting a little environmental project to add to the end of each weekly post.  I need a name for this.  Any suggestions?  For now, here is a link to a blog post I found interesting this week.  I have been recycling for almost 20 years now, but this made me more aware of little things we overlook.  I am giving up plastic straws at restaurants now and am paying extra for paper plates over styrofoam plates for out wedding reception.

“Why I Don’t Recommend Recycling Plastic”

I am going to go buy myself some flowers and margarita mix at the store today and combat these winter demons.  I hope you can find some sunshine and have a wonderful week!