Cats and S.A.D.

Hi Everyone,

I hope you all are well and that if you are getting a snow dump this weekend you are ready. I don’t think we are getting too much this time hopefully. This is going to be a quick check in today. The TO DO list is long.

It has been too cold to accomplish much in the studio even with two heaters running. I do have a drawing in the works and am working on the admin stuff from the living room right now. Next week is looking like better temperatures. I need some serious time upstairs. Winter is getting to me.

Things around the farm haven’t been too bad lately. We had one horse jump the fence on Tuesday morning. You are enjoying that first cup of coffee, watching the sunrise and realize that there is a traffic jam on the road in front of you. Then you get that bad feeling that the traffic jam might be caused by someone who belongs to you. Sure enough, it was our long legged, DARK horse, Cinder, on the loose. He was lucky that someone saw him in time to stop. Later in the day I found the spot on the fence that he either squeezed through or jumped over. The tuft of black tail or mane stuck on the fence might have given it away. That and the hoof prints on the other side! You can’t imagine how many times in a week that I shake my head wondering what these four legged fools were thinking when they got into trouble.

We have also had an influx of stray cats. Normally we have one at a time, but now we suddenly have THREE. One big ‘ole white tom cat with one of the largest heads I have ever seen on a cat. One tuxedo cat that has been around for awhile and I suspect shares DNA with our Sweetie Pie. One young orange tabby that showed up this week. Most of the time we are pretty tolerant of strays and will give them a meal if they look too thin. This time having so many along with our cat is becoming an issue. Sweetie Pie is a small (but mighty) feline and she has been fixed. Jughead (DH named the big, white tom) has not been to the vet and could also be named Scarface. The tuxedo cat and the young tabby we have not been able to verify their kitten making status.

All I know is that there are too many cat fights going on. Sweetie Pie got chased into a tree and I had to rescue her the other night. Over the years I have taken more than one cat to the vet with abcessed puncture wounds and do not want to do it again. We also do not want to find a litter of kittens in the hay bales. We had hoped the puppy would at least scare them off. Not hurt them, but make hanging out not so fun. Nope, Phoenix likes cats. The cats know this. So much for that theory. So, we are now trying to decide how the handle the feline population. Shaking my head again.

This week the Seasonal Affective Disorder began to settle in. I’ve done better this year. Normally it moves in right after the holidays. I think puppy therapy has helped. Phoenix will drive me crazy with the puppiness, but she keeps me too busy to think about the gloom and doom. I am seriously fighting the urge to stay in bed, shave my head (I don’t understand the hair thing, but I have now heard that other people also want to do drastic things to their hair during the winter), and eat biscuits and gravy all day. You would think after almost 60 years of this stuff I would have figured out a treatment or two. But no and I dread it every year. If any of you have suggestions please pass them along. I keep as much light in the house as possible, try to get outside for sunlight when I can stand the cold, eat pretty well, but still it affects me.

That’s about it for now. There is lots of gloom and doom out there in the world and most of it’s not winter related right now. Try to have some fun and look after yourself. I will do the same.

Faith, Hope, Love, PEACE

Christel

Photo by Fabrice Villard on Unsplash

The joys of winter

Hi Everyone!

Hello to the new readers. Welcome. How is everyone doing? In my part of the world winter has arrived in force. We were snowed in over the weekend and expecting more snow and ice tonight. Hopefully not much this time. I am very tired of slipping and sliding my way to the goat shed every morning.

Our temps are not supposed to reach above freezing all day. Yuck. The wood stove is working hard! Even both of my kids who live at different parts of the East Coast are expecting significate icing tonight. One is having to spend the night at the hospital where she works and I’m sure my firefighter son will be busy with wrecks and possibly space heater fires.

I have been trying my best to use my winter confinement wisely. We won’t discuss the cookie baking and biscuits and gravy that have been happening! I finished the blouse I had started last week. The original plan was for long sleeves, but I did not have enough fabric so it became a summer blouse. I am happy with the pattern (the fabric was a beast and I will avoid such slipperness in the future) and am planning a dress in the future from it. If anyone is interested, it is the Rhapsody Blouse & Dress from Love Notions pattern company.

I am still working on DH’s sweater and am playing a serious game of yarn chicken. There are going to be some creative sleeves on this baby if the beige yarn runs out too early. Sewing and knitting have their share of drama! I am using the Flax pattern from Tin Can Knits, but not doing the garter panel on the sleeves.

For a long time I have been wanting to learn stranded colorwork, but have been intimidated. I have enough trouble controlling one ball of yarn much less multiple. But the time has come. I am joining a Knit Along in February to see if I can master it. I have visions of Fair Isle sweaters in my closet, but I’m starting with a hat. I will let you know how it goes.

Artwork is limited because it’s just too darn cold in my attic studio. I am still slowly working on a drawing. If I get this post done soon enough I am going to work on it today. The puppy is down for her nap and I have a heck of a time accomplishing any detailed projects when she is awake. We see glimmers of hope that she will eventually become a big, squishy puddle of pit bull lazy in the future, but we aren’t gonna be there for months yet. She is losing her baby teeth and that has been exciting. I haven’t had a puncture wound for almost a week now!

That’s about it from the frozen wasteland of North Carolina. We won’t discuss the mud levels either when the ground thaws. Double yuck.

Stay safe and warm out there!

Faith, Hope, Love and Peace,

Christel

Disruption

Hi Everyone!

How is your February going so far? Let me start out by explaining that according to my personal seasonal algorithm, February has at least 90 days. It’s cold, it’s wet, it’s dark most of the month here which makes it drag on FOREVER. We are going to South Carolina this month to visit my daughter and her family. Hopefully they will have some warmth to enjoy while we are there.

So my well planned morning (see last week’s post on planning) went to poop. Today was going to be the first day I have had to myself in about a month and a half. I am on the extreme end of the introvert scale and while I love people, especially those I live with, I desperately need lots of alone time to function properly. That said, I had my quiet morning all planned out and was waiting impatiently to pack up my people and send them on their way.

And then…the bus didn’t stop for DN. Grrrrrrrrrrr. I have been taking children to school on cold winter mornings for the better part of 20 years. Since 1998 to be exact, with a few years off here and there, but not many. When DN came to live with us we were in a different county and she didn’t know anyone, so I took her to school and picked her up for the two years before we moved home. When we moved here I asked if she was ok to ride the bus and she was fine with it because she knew most of the people on the route. I did a secret happy dance!

Obviously there is a new bus driver. I know what new jobs are like and I tried very hard not to grumble too much and when I called the school to let them know, I tried not to let the irritation ooze through my voice too much. But can I just say that having to go out into 25 degree cold and drive to the school and into the school dropoff crazy (you parents who do this know EXACTLY what I mean) did not leave me in a zen mode this morning. It has taken most of the morning to work off the irritation of the disruption to my precious day of solitude. I know, I know, I should not let stuff like this get to me. Well, pooh. It does. I gave grace to the bus driver and I’m giving myself the grace to be human and irritated. By the time my people get home I should be calm again (hopefully).

Enough complaining. Onto other stuff. I got six paintings put up on Etsy this week. Four of them have sold. If anyone is interested in checking out what is left at the moment here is the link to my store. I have a few more to add and am working on more. The little sparrow painting in my blog picture is one that is left and he needs a new home.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/BloomtownStudio

In my plans this week (ha, ha) are rearranging and painting (walls, not canvas) in my attic studio. About 1/3 is drywalled now. The anticipation of getting the room finished is more than I can stand. As soon as I can reasonably function up there the easel, sewing machine and supplies will be set up for me to get to work. I can’t even imagine the luxury of being able to find supplies without moving and opening numerous boxes. Hopefully next week I will have some updated photos to share.

Alright, now on to my day which includes cleaning out one side of the garage that has been storage since we moved and we need to put a vehicle in there. Hey, the fun around here never ends.

If you have had a disruption in you day, just know that you aren’t alone and we can take some deep breaths and shake that stuff off.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace (lots of Grace today),

Christel

Transitions

Hi Everyone,

I hope you and yours are doing well. Those of you still dealing with lockdowns, hang in there. Try to find things you enjoy to relieve the boredom and stress. For those of you who are sick or have family/friends who are sick there are thoughts and prayers for you all as well as those who have lost loved ones during this mess. For my fellow Americans on this Inauguration Day, I am praying for an end to the division in our country and that the transition to a new administration will be peaceful. We really should have advanced more as human beings than to once again resort to violence to solve our problems.

Life here at Crooked Barn Farm (We are seriously considering that as a name for our place. I will show you why one day.) has ungone another transition. Dear Son and Girlfriend have set out on their own again. Hopefully some tenative plans they have will gel soon and I will give an update. It’s much quieter here. Not that they were loud, but the general comings and goings of two other people add to the energy of a place. I’m going to miss them, but it was time. Dear Niece will definitely miss them because DH and I are boring old folks to her.

Yesterday the weather was warm enough for DH and me to work a little in the garden and do other outside projects. I try to soak in any Vitamin D I can get this time of year. Next week is looking like cold and rain again.

I am continuing to paint more wood boards. The flowers in the main photo is my most recent. Possibly this week I will get some listed in my Etsy store. More exciting is that I have walls going up in my studio. DH has been hard at work in there. Since we are having to buy the drywall a little at a time, the plan is to finish the far end and work across. Theoretically when that end is painted (my job) and the window framed out, I can actually start setting up my work space and possibly do some work up there. The lighting is going to be a little tricky and I really need that working to be able to function up there. Progress though!

Hopefully by Spring the worse of it will be done and I can dig out my oil paint and canvas again. There was some organization of my supplies in that mess, but now that DH has had to move boxes around, I have no idea where stuff is. It will be an adventure.

That’s all the news for now. Hopefully things will stay peaceful and quiet here and out there in the world. Stay safe.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Settling into winter

Hi Everyone!

What can I say? 2021 is so far giving 2020 a run for its money in the crazy department. I know we all hoped it would be different even though I think most of us knew it wouldn’t. I waffle between avoiding what’s going on out there and checking frequently on what’s going on out there. Balance, I guess. Not sticking my head in the sand to pretend all is well, but not dwelling on the “what is going to happen next” thoughts.

Now that the holidays are over and school is back in session, I’m once again attempting a schedule and settling into the slower winter pace. The slower pace is about the only thing I really enjoy about winter. It has been wet, cold and gray here most of January so far and it is so depressing. Thank goodness for our fireplaces, candles and soup.

Here are some recent paintings that I am working on. They are not quite done yet, but close. I’m still working on these wood scraps from our barn and probably will be for a while though I’m itching to get my oil paints back out. Unfortunately I do not have a safe place for oil paintings to hang out while they are drying right now.

I seem to be leaning toward birds at the moment. The kayaker is an outlier for me. I usually avoid landscapes, but I saw a lake and an island or mountains in the wood and decided to work with it. I’m finding that the wood picks my subjects sometime. Same thing with with owl. Today I am sanding and staining more wood to prep for next week’s paintings. Hopefully these current paintings will be in my Etsy shop soon. DH is really liking the owl and I’m kinda attached to the rooster. We are already overrun with my artwork now so we can’t keep everything. Some of it needs to go live with other people and hopefully they will enjoy it as well. I finished painting our hallway on Saturday. That is where most of our family photos and some of my artwork will live. Once I sort all that out there may be a big sale and/or a giveaway through Facebook or Instagram. I will keep you posted on that.

Since we all need to stay on top of our mental health these days, I thought I would share a few YouTube channels that I have been binge watching lately.

Streamline Art Video – I just found this one this past week even though it started with the lockdowns and has been posting almost everyday since March. Lots of quality art instruction from established artists. This old dog is learning some new tricks from these videos!

The Last Homely House – Kate may be my long lost sister from another mother. She is amazingly creative in everything she does. She quilts, sews, knits, crafts, cooks, gardens and is a beekeeper. She did a series where she cleaned out all the drawers in her crafting area. Never in my life would I think that would be interesting, but I found myself mesmerized. She tells stories about some items and I found myself trying to decide if I would keep an item right along with her. It helps that she has piles of creative junk like I do and I know the struggle is real.

Arne and Carlos – Even though these guys are knitting designers their channel is not just for knitters. I have enjoyed their “Sit and Knit a Bit with Arne and Carlos” series no matter what I am working on. They are funny, down to earth and seem like super people. They talk about their life and culture in Norway and just life in general. When Covid goes away and I win the lottery I am going to go to one of their workshops on a cruise through Norway.

Please comment if you have any stress relieving suggestions. We can use all we can get these days.

I’m going to wrap this up now. Currently I have DN practicing her flute here in the living room with me and Dear Son and Girlfriend running the vaccum in the back of the house. Concentration is severely limited! I will look back on this one day and think, “Those were fun times back in 2021”. Right now I am developing a headache. Oh, somewhere on here should be a new email address – christel@bloomtownstudio.com I think it is.

Stay safe out there.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace,

Christel

‘Tis the season

Hi Everyone,

Hope you have been well. I’m sure you have been probably busy.  It’s that time of year.  Since we have minimized the gifting this year my time has been less stressed over the whole Christmas chaos. I even had the mental capacity to face driving down one of the most congested streets in a nearby city to get to the even more congested Costco.  Normally I avoid that area at all costs until mid-January when everyone has returned all the gifts they didn’t like.

I am going to go ahead and wish you all a very Happy Holidays (whichever ones you celebrate) and a Happy New Year.  I need to take a sabbatical for awhile.  Writing this blog has been difficult this year and all the losses and changes have taken a toll.  Even though the art supplies are out and ready to go, I can’t seem to focus enough to make anything right now.  I’m pretty darn bummed about that to be honest.  My brain needs to focus and my heart needs some mending time.

So, until I can regroup, my plan is to bake some cookies, paint the walls in the house, unpack more boxes, love on the people and creatures in my little world.  Hopefully I will be back with some renewed spirit after the first of the year, but I’m going to give myself what time I need.  I have a very bad habit of pushing myself to meet unrealistic, self-imposed deadlines and projects.  If you do that too…stop it, stop it now…it’s not good for you.

Happy Holidays!  Wishing all of us a new and improved 2020!!

Christel

The Gloom and Doom Report

Hi Everyone!

Let me start by saying that I hope life is sunny for you right now. Literally and figuratively it is NOT where I live. If you are looking for an upbeat, perky blog post today then I will warn you now that this is not going to be it. Check back next week to see if things have improved any. 

We are in our 16th week of February with that many weeks of rain. I’m pretty sure that North Carolina has now reached its normal yearly rainfall in the first two months of 2019. We are mildewed, covered in mud and extremely cranky around here. The horses are starting to refuse to leave the barn. One of my dogs has decided he will not need to poop until about June. The chickens are beginning to acquire webbed feet. We briefly saw the sun one day this week and everyone ran outside to soak up a few minutes of vitamin D. I don’t know whether to plant banana trees or seaweed in the garden this year. 

Outside of the weather, life has been equally gloomy. I went Tuesday to say my goodbyes to a dear friend and have been waiting on the call from her family ever since. I think there was a brief moment or two where she realized that I and another friend were there with her. I hope so at least. I desperately wanted her to know that we were there. She lost the ability to speak several weeks ago and struggled to communicate the last time I visited. How frustrating that must be when you need most to say you are in pain or “I love you.” 

After two or three extremely difficult weeks of processing and waiting, I can now mention the fact that my Dad is very sick. He and my Mom have begun to tell people so I can talk about it here. There are more tests ordered, but I’m not sure why. With each test we get more bad news and the fact that cancer has been found in two major areas already doesn’t lend itself to any possibility of much better news.  I only allow myself a few drops at a time to think about the magnitude of change and difficulty that is coming to my family. 

To end the week, I am going today with some other family members to visit another family member that failing fast. I am not yet allowed to discuss it as there are still plans to be decided on, but this is a person who is near and dear and has brought much fun and laughter into our lives and will leave a gaping hole. It’s been a super sucky week. 

I did start another commissioned piece of artwork this week. After we found out about Dad I swore I would not take on another one and add that stress to my life right now, but it’s for a friend and she said there was absolutely no deadline that I have to meet. It’s actually a blessing because when my brain and heart starts thinking too much I can start working on it and the concentration required gives me a little reprieve. I will show you some of it next week. 

I apologize for the gloom and doom, but I just can’t even fake cheerfulness at the moment and I’m not good enough a writer to make up any believable fiction for your enjoyment. Bear with me. Please realize that if my blog posts are not showing up regularly for a while, it’s because we are dealing with the big life stuff. The one bright spot is the impending arrival of my first grandbaby. That little bugger is much needed right now. We NEED a gummy baby smile, burps and poopy diapers and sweet baby smells to replace some of the recent conversations. 

Wishing you a sunshiny, warm and gentle week. 

Thankful 

Hi Everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Plans and celebrations

Hi Everyone!

I’m doing my best to get back on schedule here. Today is going to be a major driving and errand day, but I have a couple of hours before I have to hit the road. This week I realized just how much I drive when I noticed a slow leak in the one tire I had not replaced in the past couple of months. I try very hard to keep up with my car maintenance because I do spend so much time on the road, but this poor tire was literally leaking air from the paper thin rubber! I don’t know how I missed replacing the tire earlier. Usually my mechanic is good about letting me know when something needs replacing so I suspect this tire looked ok the last time I was in. We have driven to Charleston and I’m pretty sure I put about a thousand miles more on the car since we got back so there went the last tire. 

We are in full selling, building, moving mode now. Lots of lists of when what needs to happen and I’m already starting the decluttering process (never ending) as I go through each room. We have made ourselves a promise to NOT MOVE all the stuff in storage so there will be boatloads going on eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Letgo in the very near future along with stocking the shelves of several non-profit thrift stores. 

I think I’m in pretty good shape for Thankgiving this coming week. I’m heading to the grocery store today with a detailed list. The Christmas list is made and a couple of gifts bought.  I’m hoping we can arrange a baby shower in January but the schedule is up in the air on that one. I have preliminary plans in case it comes together . I do have a baby knitting project in the works that goes with me everywhere so I can knit when I wait. Once I get through Christmas I plan to stock the freezer with meals for D. and Miss L. so I can go help out with Baby T when he makes his appearance. 

D. and I attended the wedding of one of my best friend’s son this past weekend. Over many years there are three of us that have gotten together on Veteran’s Day weekend to catch up on life and have some R&R sans kids and husbands. We have been close friends since college. We didn’t get the weekend together but we did get to spend a few celebratory minutes at the reception.  So many stages of life we have celebrated and struggled through together. So many tears and so much laughter since 1980! I love these two to the moon and back. 


Now that summer is gone and what seems to be never ending rain, has set in, I am squeezing in some art time here and there. This is an experimental drawing/painting I managed to finish and there is another one in the works. The goal is to create with as little mess and space used as possible! If the new house floor plan we want works out…THERE WILL BE A STUDIO FOR ME IN THE HOUSE!!!! It won’t be huge, but it will be a dedicated space just for me to do my stuff. If it were huge I would just make a bigger mess! Prayers people. I need prayers that we can pull this off!  I think of all sorts of cool things I could do including some possible tutorials on here, but right now just do not have the room. My head spins with ideas all the time. 


That about wraps things up for this week. I guess we all survived the elections, hopefully with friendships still intact. It’s sad how our right to elect our government has become so distorted and ugly. My prayer is for us to be kind and civil to each other as well as demand better behavior and service from our elected SERVANTS. They forget that they are there for service, not power and greed. 

Have a great week. Stay warm if it’s winter where you are and Happy Thankgiving for my United States readers. We do still have much to be thankful for!  

 

It’s Fall y’all

Hi Everyone!

I may have to call this “The Three Week Post” to cover last week, this week and next week. Soccer, never ending yard work, regular work, appointments and the fast approaching annual family gathering are keeping me very busy. This week alone involves three days of appointments. That may not sound too bad for those of you who live in civilization, but from here everything is an hour drive to the destination, the time taken by the appointment, then the hour back. Most of the time I have to work in necessary errands as well because, well, everything is an hour away! Pretty much one appointment shoots the whole day. By the time I get home it’s time to cook dinner and feed the humans and the critters. 

Today looks like it may finally be the beginning of actual Fall weather here. Impending cold and dark brings on a flurry of activity to A) get everything cleaned up and ready for our chicken stew gathering and B) get all the dwellings ready for cold weather, including wood cut for our wood stove. We really don’t live in the Arctic like it sounds, but when the weather gets bad here, there is not a Lowe’s Home Improvement right down the road. Gotta be prepared. 

For a couple of months I have been working on some knitting during my copious down time and finished a small triangular scarf just in time for cooler weather. I will show the finished product when I get it washed and blocked into shape (hopefully that won’t be NEXT winter). 

I also dug out a colored pencil drawing that I started ages ago and never finished. No judging the photo. It’s still in the early stages.  I can’t paint right now because I just don’t have room and it’s asking for a disaster to even try. Drawing is safer and takes less room. It takes much more time though. I have yet to be able to do a simple drawing. I get sucked into the detail vortex and can’t get out. But the disaster factor is lower. As long as I remember to keep the pencils out of the reach of the dogs I’m good.


If you all will bear with me for a few weeks, I’m going to be taking a blog vacation until the beginning of November. I have a great deal on my plate right now including some behind the scenes stuff that I will eventually write about, but it adds to my  To Do list. We have a trip planned the weekend after the family get together so I barely recover from that and then have to pack. I live and breathe by deadlines even if they are self imposed so right now it is stressing me out trying to find the hour + that it often takes me to write this.  Yes, I agree that is crazy of me but I don’t think I’m going to change at this point. I am getting better at accepting my brand of crazy finally…after half a century. 

So, when I get back I should have all sorts of things to write about INSTEAD of why I’m so busy. Have a great few weeks, I hope the weather is good (my thoughts and prayers are with those of you in hurricane Michael’s path) and Happy Halloween!