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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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.

 

 

Happening this week…

mountainphoto-1446037909474-e2bff6697533As you are reading this, we should be on our way home from a relaxing few days hiding out in a cabin by a river in the Blue Ridge mountains. When we get back life goes into overdrive.  “And why?”, you ask. Because we are opening a new business!

A little background.  D. is planning to retire next summer.  He has spent his career stuck indoors. Torture for a guy who would happily spend 90% of his time outside.  Even though he will have his retirement money, it’s not quite enough to cover our current requirements, plus I don’t need him hanging around in my space all day either. So for a couple of years he has been planning his retirement job.  It is still indoors, but it is only for a few months.

Ok, don’t go EWWWW when I tell you.

It’s a wildlife meat processing and taxidermy business.  I said don’t go EWWWW!  He is a hunter, we don’t have a wildlife processor nearby and where we live is a huge hunting area.  As in, people come from out of state to hunt here! Yes, I think I will be wearing blaze orange this fall as well as my dogs. There are days it sounds like a war zone around here in the Fall.  Anyway, it is only four months out of the year and the rest of the time he can work here on the farm, train horses again and we can travel, etc.

We decided to go ahead and start the business this year because we were able to get the location we wanted for the price we wanted.  It’s not pretty, but it is in a prime hunter hangout location.  Picture a big, red, metal building.  Guess who will be keeping it open and taking orders.  Yep, yours truly.  NO, I’m not going to cut up deer.  I can’t cut up a chicken from the grocery store without getting sick!

What does this mean for me?  Well, I’m hoping it will be a good career move.  No, not the meat processing, the building.  My current workspace is our second guest room which is tiny.  I work on several projects at once and need room to spread out. Right now if we have guests, I have to shove everything to one corner then sort it all out again when they leave.  It’s just not working for me.

The big, red building has plenty of space for me to work as well as D.  The actual meat processing takes place in a separate cold room so the main part can be mine to spread out in.  Perfect? Not quite, but I think over the long run it can work if we can both make enough money to pay the rent year round which is the plan.

I am also desperately needing some structure to my time and having to work around the business hours will give me that.  I can do my work at the same time I am holding down the fort at his business. Right now, I’m still a little lost from not having a second job and get distracted by crazy stuff like laundry and yard work here at the house.

Hopefully next week I can give you a tour of the new workspace.  Have a lovely week!

Photo credit

A Wedding and Other Life Events

One week ago today this happened!


I will have to post more photos later because my photographer (also known as my son) has not finished editing them.  Everything went as planned except for the 95 degree weather that kept us under the pavilion most of the time.  It was relaxed and stress free with some quality family time that we don’t get all that often.

Now the wedding and the move is behind us. This coming week we will be on our annual mission trip with Appalachia Service Project.  I will try to at least post some photos from there but if you don’t hear from me then we did not have cell service. 

After ASP we are looking forward to life settling into some sort of normal. I am itching to get back in my studio and make things. It is summer so here the garden will be taking up some time unless the rabbits and lack of rain finish it off early while we are gone. Here is some of the summer beauty happening  at the moment.


You get short and sweet today.  We have had a week filled with paperwork and now packing. If I don’t get back here next week, I hope you have a wonderful couple of weeks.  

Our apple adventure

Yes, this week I am officially late getting my post done.  If I can survive October, possibly November will be a tiny bit less busy.  My design/print work has been steady this month, there has been all the work at the farm trying to get ready for winter and home improvement projects going on as we gear up for remodeling Danny’s house. After weeks of non-stop work, including Sundays which is normally my true day of rest, Danny and I decided we needed to have a day off.  We had a wonderful second annual chicken stew with his family, but the preparation wore us out.

When we started out with our garden a couple of years ago we decided we wanted to keep it organic and as much as possible use heirloom varieties of plants.  There is an unused pasture on the farm that has been designated as the new orchard.  Danny went online to research heirloom apples and came across Big Horse Creek Farm here in North Carolina.  He decided to order several varieties of apple trees from them.  They can ship the trees, but since we were less than two hours away we decided to pick them up instead.  Easier said than done!  Ron and Suzanne usually have their trees at the West Jefferson Farmers Market on Saturdays.  We haven’t had a free Saturday in months and Danny works every other Saturday.  We asked if we could pick them up at the farm and they told us they had a very difficult driveway to navigate.  Danny assured them that his Ford 250 was up for the challenge and after a few more emails to coordinate times we had a plan.

That is the back story of what turned out to be a wonderful day off this week. Our plan was to head out Wednesday morning to West Jefferson and check out the town. Neither of us had been there before.  We like exploring antique/junk shops so we stopped along the way to poke through all sorts of antiques, pretend antiques (you gotta watch out for those) and just plain old junk.  Fiberglass surf boards sitting in a NC mountain town “antique” store look very odd.

Next we had lunch at a restaurant in West Jefferson that had some good reviews (Boondocks Brewing).  There is a well known restaurant called Shatley Springs that we considered, but most of our home cooking is the same type of food so we wanted something different. Then it was time to head out to the Big Horse Creek Farm.

When Suzanne said their driveway was difficult, this is what she meant.

This is the bottom of Ron and Suzanne's driveway where we decided to go into four wheel drive.
This is the bottom of Ron and Suzanne’s driveway where we decided to go into four wheel drive.

One and half miles, up the mountain.  We took it in four wheel drive all the way up and all the way back down later.  Danny loved it.  The drive was well worth it for the view and the chance to meet the Joyners.  I don’t think we would have had the opportunity to get to know them if we had picked up the trees at the farmers market.

Ron's observatory
Ron’s observatory

Notice that small structure with the domed top. My first thought was “that looks like an observatory” and yes, it is Ron’s observatory.  Suzanne told us that they have virtually no light pollution up there and can only see three distant lights at night so it is perfect for Ron’s astrophotography. You can see some of his photos on their Big Horse Creek Farm Facebook page.

Then I noticed their solar panels.  I hope eventually we can add solar power to the farm so I asked about those and Ron and Suzanne have been completely off grid since 1997 (correct me if my memory is wrong, Suzanne).  No power runs up the side of that mountain. They also have a wind generator.

IMG_2602This is the view over their orchards so the panels have a perfect south facing open area.  I would never get tired of looking at those mountains.

IMG_2601

After that we talked about how they built their home and the other structures on the property themselves, chickens, deer hunting, gardening, collards and crowder peas.  I think the topic we discussed the least was apple trees!  It was a lovely visit and we might have to add on to our orchard to have an excuse to go visit again. Here is the link to their website, Big Horse Creek Farm.

Our original plan was to pick up the trees then head back to Danny’s, saddle up Christy and Bob for an afternoon of horseback riding.  We spent so much time with Suzanne and Ron that we did not have enough time left to get back and ride so we decided to explore the back roads of God’s country.  I have been blessed to visit most of this country and there are many beautiful places, but this area is the only one that I have found that I would up and move to in a heartbeat.  Here is an old farm house we drove by in our travels.

IMG_2604

What a gorgeous Fall day to explore.  My only advice is to plan a trip, but don’t stick to the plans too tightly.  You never know who you might meet or what you might see that will be worth spending extra time with.

Wishing you a wonderful, adventurous week!

 

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/33721019@N00/1593122120″>mellow fruitfullness #1</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a&gt; <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a&gt;