The struggle is real

Hi Everyone!

I hope life has been treating you well while I was away. We had a lovely Easter weekend in Charleston, SC with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson. The drive down was somewhat stressful as we dodged severe thunderstorms from our house all the way there. We were carrying cargo of a handmade dining room table that my brother-in-law made for their new house and a rocking horse he made years ago for my daughter when she was a baby, that I am now passing down to Brayden. Precious stuff that we did not want ruined in the rain. Yes, we had both carefully covered, but driving a truck at 70 mph seems to force rain into every nook and cranny. Luckily we managed to miss the worst of in, but did endure long waits in traffic due to wrecks and downed trees. What normally takes 5 hours took more like 7.

Enjoy the struggle for the perfect family portrait! 


The rest of the weekend we helped landscape their backyard, explored their HUGE neighborhood and cooked an Easter feast Sunday morning before heading home. We were thankful for nice weather, normal drive time on the way back and for our awesome neighbors who chicken sat and looked after the place while we were gone. 

Now we are back to reality and this week has been a doozy. Lots of driving to appointments and errands plus a couple of hours rearranging storage units as we cram more stuff in. People have asked me why I am still keeping up with how much I declutter. The reason is that while our house now looks more open and spacious, the storage units look just as crammed full as ever and if I didn’t know how much has left I would still be overwhelmed by it all. 

Because we have no idea what we will eventually want to keep in our new house, we don’t want to get rid of the quality furniture yet. We have now consolidated all the furniture into one unit and when this place sells we may have to add more to it depending on where we live during the house construction. 

The second unit now has one half full of stuff we have packed up that we want to keep, but do not NEED right now. Uh, those boxes of family photos, extra pillows, hunting gear (sigh), ART SUPPLIES, etc.  The other half is still stuff that I have to clean out. The third unit now HAPPILY has a walkway down the middle and shelving to store things. This is the stuff I have to finish cleaning out from my former life.  Ideally we would get rid of this one when I’m done, but we are afraid we will need it to store some of our current furniture if we have to downsize to a two bedroom home while we are building. It’s all very complicated! 

This coming week the house officially goes on the market and I have one problem area of the house to finish clearing out. We have had our lawnmower in the shop for repairs since February. We are praying it will be done today so we don’t have to keep borrowing a friend’s mower. There is a list of small repairs that we will be working on for a few more weeks and of course the dang HVAC has to be fixed. Arrrrrgh. 

To add to the fun, we have to finish cleaning out the tool shed that includes my large stack of beekeeping supplies and I will have to become the cleaning Nazi every day, not just on the weekend.  I have to give some cred to Miss L. because she has very dutifully sorted through and packed up a great deal of her stuff. We will finish up her room today. It’s not easy for a twelve year old to go minimalist! 


Have I done any artwork you ask? Not much. I got about an hour and a half in on this sketch Monday. That’s all for the week. Will I be able to return to my hour a day schedule? I am having doubts.  Staying on top of the cleaning and yard work while showing the house will probably be my full time job. While we only planted some greens in the garden here, we are hoping to plant some basics in my parents garden. Since they can no longer maintain a garden we will be taking over that…an hours drive away. There is also that whole problem of clearing land for a pasture, building a barn, finding a place for apple trees and all the flowers and herbs we will be taking with us. It’s VERY complicated! 

For the record I’m not complaining, really I’m not. I see progress and am more than ready to make the move, but this will be, by far, the most complicated move I have ever made and I think D. would say the same. We decide each week what the two or three most important projects are, focus on those and try not to think too much about the rest until they are priorty. 

If you are facing a big ‘ole project or problem, my only advice is break it down into manageable chunks, then try not to lose sleep over the remainder. I will go now and try to take my own advice. Have a great week!

A simple escape

Hi Everyone,

How was your week? I have been running behind this week because I escaped last weekend further into the mountains with my two best friends from college. The three of us have over 30 years of history together and do our best to reconnect in person once a year. This year we found ourselves (thanks to the research of the planner member of our threesome) staying in a super cool converted cider house on an apple orchard in Virginia. A few years ago we discussed how we would like to start taking classes when we were away on these trips. Once again our Planner came through and booked us in a class held right on the orchard, walking distance from our Cider House abode. We learned how to graft apple trees. 


D. and I purchased several heirloom apple trees a few years ago, but before we could get a proper fence around them, the ever present and ever hungry deer ate them down to the ground. So much for that investment! Needless to say, I was tickled to take this class for a whopping $12 that included three trees to take home. Since my planner friend (a former science teacher) just wanted the experience and not the trees, I happily paid for her class and got her trees as well. So six different varieties of apple trees currently reside in one of our closets for a couple more weeks (as instructed) then will spend the summer SURROUNDED BY FENCING outside until we plant them this Fall on the new farm site. 

The rest of our weekend was spent catching up on life and eating quantities of junk food that we generally avoid the rest of the year. 

Back to reality this week has included more cleaning out and home repairs and animal maintenance. D. and I are trying to get back into Spring/Summer fitness. The extended daylight hours and warmer temps include many more hours of work. I have been trying to get my bees ready for splitting the colony (hopefully to prevent them swarming) and honey flow. D. has been cleaning up horses and checking their feet. All the mud this winter has been tough on them. Anyway, we are eating better and trying to be more consistent with the vitamins. 


I just finished this painting of my favorite flower. I love the simplicity and determination of the Daisy. Every summer our pasture is covered in them in spite of being regularly trampled by equine and often brightly bloom through drought conditions. Tough, beautiful, cheerful. What’s not to love about them? 


A quick update on my monthly decluttering challenge. I am still running a little behind, but not too far. If I were to count everything that D. has cleaned out of the two barns I would probably be way ahead. Drum roll please. 1,163 items removed from house or storage! There is much more to go but our largest walk in closet can now be walked into instead of burrowed into. All family members have pitched in, if not happily, at least willingly. Today I drag out the summer clothes and we start paring down the winter wardrobes. The majority of the decluttering has been donated, but there has been a good amount that had to go into the trash. Why do broken things stay stuck in corners of cabinets or closets? 

That’s it for this week folks. I have summer clothes to pull out and I promised the chickens a clean coop today. Have a productive week and catch up with some friends! 

Spring!

Hi Everyone,

I hope you are well and the sun is shining where you are. Spring has sprung FINALLY and though it’s still cool here, the sun IS shining. The flowers are starting to bloom and one of my bee colonies survived the winter to happily do honeybee stuff again. Unfortunately a 50% loss of our bees is the norm anymore and I lost my other colony. The humans around here and nearby towns are suffering from some nasty stomach flu. It hasn’t made it to our house and I darn sure hope it doesn’t. Fresh air and sunlight are desperately needed. 

We have kicked it into high gear this week. We have a goal of having our place ready to sell the first week of April. D. and I spent yesterday cleaning out closets (me) and barns (him) then taking another truckload of donations off to a charity store.  I have been working with Miss L. to clean out her outgrown (I think she grows an inch a month) clothes and donate items she no longer needs. This weekend we are having a new roof put on. That’s hopefully our biggest expense and the rest will just be minor repairs. Our lawnmower is in the shop so we hope it is done so we can get the grass trimmed by our deadline. I’m trying to keep a positive outlook on the selling process, but it’s in my top 5 stressors. 

That brings me to my hour a day drawing sessions. Best thing I have done for myself in a long time. I finished a pastel painting this week in three days! I got in an extra hour one evening, but that’s pretty fast for me. I started this still life to enter into a competition by the end of the month. It’s an online artist group that has a monthly competition where the prize is art supplies. That is as good as money. Art supplies are expensive! 


My hour is my meditation time. I have tried meditation. Can’t do it. But I can get into that flow state when I’m drawing or painting and honestly don’t hear or see much of anything around me. My hyperactive brain gets a break. If I’m working on a boring part I can listen to podcast, but I can’t always tell you what it was about. With a pending move and Dad’s health I need the mental break. This morning I started a new painting so here is a little detail.


This weekend I am heading further into the hills on a trip with my two best friends from college. We try to get away once a year but Life hasn’t cooperated the past couple of years so I’m very excited to have some quality time with them again. Then when I get back the whole selling, packing, buying or building adventure starts for real. Say a prayer for my husband. I’m not easy to live with when I have to be showing a house and constantly on edge to keep the place spotless. 

I highly suggest finding an hour to do something you enjoy and can lose yourself in. The benefits so far have been great. Now I need to quit kicking myself for not figuring it out earlier. Go. Go now and do your thing! 

Needing sunshine and less stuff

Hi Everyone,

Happy 2019! 

Hopefully this won’t read as delirious as I feel right now. My day started at 2:30 am today. Why? Because my son had to be at the airport (two hours away) by 5:30 am. Once again he is off to places tropical to spend the winter. At least this year he will only be one time zone difference instead of four!


Did you have exciting New Year celebrations or like us, stayed home? D. brought in the new year with a nasty cold and we have had, what feels like, endless cold rain. New Year’s Day was a rare, dry, warm day that allowed us to get outside and get some cleaning up of muddy horses, stinky chicken coop and the leftover ruins of the garden. The next day…the rain came back and is still going. Yuck. The mud.

So how are those goals and resolutions going three days into 2019? If you need some motivation, I’m going to put in a shameless plug for my daughter’s podcast, Find Reality. I just finished listening to her New Year’s Day episode and she has some good realistic tips for sticking to your goals. Tell her that her Momma sent you. 

Normally I am a resolution setter every year and I often don’t follow through on my goals either because they are just too much. This year I have one big one that I REALLY need/ have to achieve and one that isn’t too crazy. The easy one is to join one or two artist groups. Ideally one regional one and one national one. I have a national one in mind, but am open to suggestions if any of you know of some good ones. I want to up my game and start entering competitions/shows. 


I finished this drawing over the holidays and am finally pleased with the outcome of some experimentation that was depressing me for awhile. Also this week I took on another commission. I had planned to NOT do any commissions at all this year, but this one will be a good challenge. Since I have to get it finished by the end of February due to the impending arrival of my first grandbaby in March, I can’t let myself get bogged down in the overthinking that plagues me sometimes. 

The biggie goal is to clean out one of the THREE (long story and most of the stuff came to us when D.’s sister died) storage units. If you have been keeping up on here you know we are planning a new house and a move in the near future. Six years ago I sold the four bedroom house that I raised my kids in. The buyers only gave me a month to move and at that time rentals were scarce and I knew I wasn’t going to buy anything yet. Things got down to the wire and I wound up stuffing the majority of the “stuff” in storage. I AM NOT moving all that “stuff” again! 

Here’s my plan, and you get to help keep me on track…the 30 day minimalist challenge. Whatever the date is, I have to part with that many things. For example, today is January 3 so I have to find three things to donate, trash or sell. They have to leave my life! Now I know that there are days that I am not going to have time to clean out stuff. Mine is going to be more of a weekly plan. This week I am supposed to declutter 21 items. On New Year’s Eve I went to the storage unit and filled up my car with boxes. Ok, I cheated a little because I already had one box labeled Yard Sale that contained 12 items. Now I gave up yard sales when my friend Wendy moved away. A yard sale just wouldn’t be any fun without her or her husband’s boat she sold at one of our yard sales…without completely clearing it with him!

As of today, January 3, I have a box of 34 items ready to donate, three items to sell and a box of trash cleaned out. Some of the “trash” is actually a large bag of my son’s artwork from preschool to high school. No I’m not heartless. I have hung on to it for 20 YEARS. But now he was here with me and we sat down and looked through it together. We laughed about his abstract phase and I kept his little hand prints as well as took a few pictures of some pieces. The rest just had to go. 


So, what is overage from this week (37-21=16) will carry over to next week for the days I might not get anything cleaned out. By January 31 I should have cleaned out 496 items! Sounds like a lot, but trust me, there is a long, long way to go. You can get an amazing amount of stuff in a 10 x 16 storage unit. Since I write this blog each week I will report my progress here and possibly on Instagram. Before December 31, 2019 I WILL HAVE one, if not a second, storage unit cleaned out. We will be keeping one of the three to store boxes that we plan to move. In this process I am already boxing items we don’t HAVE to have right now such as decorative items, canning jars or art supplies I can’t use until I have a studio. 

Friends, this girl is pooped and it’s not even noon yet. I need to accomplish a few more things before I work in a nap. Have a great first week of 2019!

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!

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!

Shakin’ it up

Hi Everyone,

How has your week been? Mine has been a little busier than planned. That darn To Do list got longer and I have been scrambling to keep up this week. It may be a working weekend depending on how today goes.

This time last week I was doing some final packing and getting the dogs ready to go board at the vet. I can tell you that they were less than thrilled. The Rottens do not have spa accommodations there like they do at home.  

Friday afternoon we (D., Miss L., Miss G. and myself) headed to Charleston to see my daughter, Wrenn, son-in-law, Drew and the grandpups, Harley and Kayden. We didn’t get to see them for Christmas so this was our Christmas visit. We had decided before Christmas to forgo the whole gift buying thing (you can read my whiney post, Christmas Crazy for more about that) in lieu of some adventure.

What did we do? We climbed around like a bunch of monkeys. Seriously. We strapped on helmets and harnesses and played, seriously played, for two hours on a ropes course at Wild Blue Ropes. IT WAS AWESOME! 



I knew Miss G. and Miss L would love it because they both love to find a big ‘ole tree to climb and to climb it at high as possible. The rest of us were looking forward to the adventure, but speaking for myself, I was looking for a challenge.  

It’s so easy to fall into a pattern and a rut. I get bored very easily and go into a funk when I do. Winter is especially bad for me so this was a perfect way to end January as I go face my arch enemy- February. February tries to defeat me every year and this has been going on as far back as I can remember. February is cold, gray, depressing and seems to last FOREVER. So, swinging and climbing 35 feet up in the air on a 67 degree day in January was beyond enjoyable. 

It was also a great feeling to know that my 55 year old body could still do such physically challenging activities. I think D. was feeling pretty good that he got across the dangling ropes section, deemed the toughest part of the course. I couldn’t have done that part in my 20’s so I just cheered him on. I did, however, at the end of the day, make myself jump off the very top platform to get off the course. Thirty-five feet off the ground I think it was. I don’t really mind heights, but I do mind jumping off them!  I would have been very disappointed in myself if I had chickened out and trust me, there was some internal arguing going on. In the end I was able to give myself a big mental pat on the back. 

After the ropes we chilled at W& D’s apartment, took a walk with the dogs then headed out to eat some excellent seafood and my daughter had arranged for two of my long time friends to meet us there. Folks, I just couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.  Sunday morning we just chilled with our coffee and compared sore muscles before we had to head back to the hills. 

If you are suffering from the winter funk, I highly suggest getting out of your comfort zone and do something adventurous and a little bit scary. Definitely include some super special people to make it that much more memorable. I couldn’t tell you what I got for Christmas in 2016, but in 2020 I will be able to tell you what I did in January 2018! 

Go shake it up this week! 

Eggs, eggs, eggs

Hi Everyone,

I hope you had a great week. It’s hard to believe we are almost done with January. Of course the dreaded February is coming. I have a tough time with February and even though it is our shortest month, it always seems like 90 days long to me. I have lots of things in the works or in the planning stage so I hope that will keep my mind off the gloomy winter days.

I’m going to keep this short today because I have a road trip to see my daughter and son-in-law this weekend and haven’t even started packing. Oh yeah, the chicken coop has to be cleaned too before I can go. 

Speaking of chickens, that leads right into what I’m working on now. My 2018 plan is to work on one theme pretty much until I’m sick of it and ready for a new one. After several years now of trial, error (lots of those) and experimenting, I have settled on concentrating on three areas that I never get tired of. Drawing, painting and textiles. I will go into these more as I get through the year.

Right now I am working on eggs! Why eggs, you ask?  Well, because I have always loved the simple shape, light does interesting things to them, there is symbolism involved and last but not least, thanks to our chickens, I have a steady supply. 

So far, I have done this drawing. Sometimes the drawings will be in color pencil, sometimes just charcoal or graphite. I already have my next egg drawing in the planning stage. I’m waiting to see if this one is finished yet.


This painting is still a work in progress. The first picture is the beginning stage and the second is where I am with it now. I had hoped to finish it this week but life got in the way. Hopefully next week I can finish it before I start on another commission piece. I’m pleased so far. I like the light and the graphic lines of the wire egg basket.



I will hopefully have pictures from our trip next week. We have some fun things planned. For now, I hope you have a productive week. I’m going to get to work. 

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!

Getting my groove back

Whew! It has been a week!

So here are a few pictures of the lovely cabin we vacationed in last week. It was marvelous!  One of these days I will figure out how to get these pictures where I want them.  Sorry for the awkwardness.

Where we spent most of our time. If there had been hammocks, we would have slept here.
Where we spent most of our time. If there had been hammocks, we would have slept here.
Our view of the river.
Our view of the river.
800 square feet of adorable, but there was a learning curve with that loft ladder in the middle of the night.
800 square feet of adorable, but there was a learning curve with that loft ladder in the middle of the night.

Eighteen acres of wooded heaven with our cabin perched on the hill right above the river. Coffee on the back porch watching the sunrise and a regular visit from a heron and an owl.

We are seriously considering making this an annual trip before hunting season starts up and we don’t rest until January.

We returned home last Thursday evening and Friday morning D. rushed to the building to make some final adjustments for the building inspector. We passed the inspection and opened on time as planned!!!

And now we wait… Bow season opened this month but it has been hot and the serious hunting doesn’t start until the guns come out and the weather gets cold. There has been lots of interest in us starting the business and one of the local meat processors has decided to no longer take in deer.  Hopefully this will mean we are busy, busy, busy soon.

So, while I have been waiting for customers and stuck for 8 hours a day in a building with nothing going on, I finally got productive.  Schedules really are a good thing

Neutralizing the forest green.
Neutralizing the forest green.

I painted some walls and our counter. Then I loaded up the car with computer, sketch books, sewing machine and fabric. The computer hasn’t gotten much use but the sewing machine has.  I have a good start on some Christmas ornaments, made 8 napkins, two oven mitts and hopefully by the end of the weekend three covers for our sofa cushions. We have a nice leather sofa that has been covered with a sheet to avoid canine toenail destruction.

Moving in. Lovely isn't it?
Moving in. Lovely isn’t it?

It is not a pretty place. I hope to at least make it rustic-cozy but D. says I CANNOT prettify it. Evidently prettified scares off hunters.

It is functional. I have room for at least one, possibly two big work tables. The counter is tall enough and large enough to spread out fabric and comfortably cut it. I have shelves for storage and a refrigerator, microwave, wood stove and the oh, so necessary coffee pot. This just might work!

New oven mitts. You should see the old ones. Yuck.
New oven mitts. You should see the old ones. Yuck.

I did not realize how depressed I was about the lack of space in the guest room. Commendering my son’s bedroom spoiled me for the short time I had it. Evidently I need some SPACE to create.

Gotta go catch up on house work (yuck). Have an awesome week.