Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Itty Bitty Kitty

I have not properly blogged about our kittens. Perhaps I was being cautious; not wanting to shine a spotlight on them ( if you call call my blog a "spotlight"... more like a candle) until I knew they were going to live through the introductions to the dogs. Seriously.

I think only Dave really knows how much I love kittens and cats. I become transfixed by kittens. (Trying to put the feelings into words would convince you that I am a "crazy animal person" and I'd like to avoid the label.)

The timing is all wrong or all right depending on how you look at it. We are stressed, cramped, and unorganized thanks to the kitchen remodel and so I go and bring home two tiny kittens. While keeping tabs on their safety, whereabouts, and litter box adds to my list, watching them play, having a tiny weightless soft fuzzball asleep on my chest, even watching them sleep, unravels any tension that I might have.

After plenty of discussion and days of observing them, we finally named them. Larger, older, spunky male kitten is Fisto. Tiny, younger, runt of a female kitten is Itty Bitty.


The dogs seem to have concluded that they are not targets but fixtures in our family. The first night the dogs couldn't leave them alone, sniffing and licking (tasting?) them. The second day they all relaxed. By day three only Maive, our mutt rescue, still had any interest and she seemed to be keeping tabs on their whereabouts and licking them all over as if they were her puppies. Now Maive actually enjoys a gentle paw batting play with them.

Our fat gimpy cat Mrtyle (she deserves her own blog post - good story there) was horrified by the kittens. But she too has settled into their presence. She particularly likes Itty Bitty Kitty and holds her down for a good tongue bath once in a while. If Fisto gets to spunky with her she hisses and bats him with her snaggle foot. Fisto is a bit dense if he doesn't realize that Mrtyle exists to eat and sleep and playing is the last thing she'd ever do.

They have settled in nicely. In a week or two more I can relax further because they will finally be too large for the nearby family of hawks to carry away. Well, Itty Bitty might be at risk of capture by talons till the end of her days.... tiny thing.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Artistic Suicide

I wonder - how many truly successful artists there are out there. Let's define artist as someone who makes a one of a kind product to sell. Let's define success as an income capable of supporting a person: some sort of shelter that at least has insulation; enough food to not be "starving;" enough money to invest back into their career, like buying a laptop, painting supplies, or a pencil perhaps; health insurance would be nice.

To make money selling something that you have created there are two requirements. First, you have to be making something that people want - a lot of people. Second, you have to be able to make enough of it, get it out there, and sell it. This does not come easily to anyone. Few might be so genius either creatively or in the marketing department that they find Easy Street. But for the vast majority we have to work... hard.... forever.

There are further complications with making and selling art. Artists can't sustain their creativity in a constant linear direction. We get something good going and then the muses withdraw their support and send you hurling into another direction of unexplored creativity. Try to sell THIS now. The muses don't stand a chance against THE ECONOMY. We are trying to sell the most superfluous product of human existence; adornment. You can't eat it, drink it, live in it, or even smoke it. When THE ECONOMY has spoken, all artists listen.

The artist's greatest challenge is to find their way through the pitfalls to thrive, create, SELL, defy the muses and THE ECONOMY.

All of this said, I will not be deterred and I personally know dozens of others who have chosen this path. Give your artist a hug. Or even better, buy art.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Mohonk Awesomeness (Evan's title suggestion)

Under the stone arches where the carriages used to pull up to drop off guests

What I love about Mohonk Mountain House:

I don't have to cook - Not only do I not have to think about what the heck I am going to feed my family three times/day and then make it happen, I am SERVED the most fresh, delicious, decadent food I could ask for.

Everywhere you look is something extraordinary - Whether God made it or inspired a person to make it, Mohonk is a visual feast. The mountains, lake, and blooming mountain laurel are the back drop for the sprawling Victorian castle, stone work, antique furniture, gardens, and thoughtful wooden walkways, ladders, steps, and gazebos.

Looking back at the front of the house from a cliff top path

The kids love it - I was lucky enough to create memories at mohonk when I was a kid and this weekend my boys got a chance to make their own. Rock scrambling, great food, picnics, wildlife, swimming, exploring, and happy parents make good memories.

There is so much to do - You can be active all day and never do the same thing twice. Or you can sit like a bum until the next fabulous meal.

Hiking the Laborynth

Family - When you are not busy with work or maintaining your own household you get to focus on the people you love.

History - Next time I will learn more about the history but I am sure it is fascinating!

Dave went exploring in the Barn Museum and took a picture of this steam engine that used to power the place

Seclusion - Just the deer and chipmunks up here.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

It's Kind of Like Pregnancy

Incredibly strong truck effortlessly lifting away about 30,000 pounds of concrete ex-floor.

When we embarked on the kitchen remodel, my sister compared it to pregnancy. She said, "In the beginning you are nothing but excited. Planning and dreaming. Then you realize it will be a long road with more than a few bumps (literally in pregnancy). Towards the end you are uncomfortable, cranky, swollen, and wanting it to be over with. And after that you are blessed with the results."

Well, we are not exactly towards the end yet, and I am not swollen, but I can see how the analogy works. I began buying, washing, and folding tiny little unisex clothes long before I was even pregnant. I also dabbled with my rulers, draft paper, pencil, and eraser years before we had $ to tackle the kitchen. Half way through my pregnancy the aches, pains, and unexpected changes crept in. Why does my hip ache? Where are my ankles? No one told me my mind would function at half speed. The kitchen situation has its share of the unexpected and growing pains. I need to make how many decisions by Friday? The plumber (God) is on vacation for how many weeks? No one told me my mind would only function at half speed.

I"d say in pregnancy terms that we are at about 25 weeks. More than half way but the real intensity yet to come.

New door and window openings are in place and floor is ready for radiant heat then concrete.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I love my contractor.

I hate my contractor.

I love my contractor.

My contractor and his sub-contractors hold the balance of my sanity in their hands. One day they are Santa Claus on steroids delivering to me the concrete fulfillment of a vision that I have been cultivating for 10 years. The next day they are just the dust swirling in my deconstructed hole of a kitchen. They are strong. Skilled. Seasoned. I need them to do what I can not.

I love my contractors!

When they are here.

Monday, June 13, 2011


I am feeling extra blessed today.

The kitchen construction has cast a dark cloud on my mood lately... the irony of being fortunate enough to make such a significant home improvement. I was having difficulty summoning a positive thought to save my life. Overwhelmed, out of balance, buried, deep in a quagmire. Even my back, which has been strong and happy for two years strait, was tight and aching.

In the midst of the night, as I slept, God must have flipped the switch on my moodometer. Maybe it has something to do with the humidity level and temperature dropping significantly. Or that Dave and I crossed several chores off my list yesterday. No matter the reason, I am so relieved to feel back in control, to recognize my good fortune, to be able to bend without a shooting pain, and to have a smile on my face.

I"m going to ride this wave as long as I can!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Carmelita (I wrote this 3 years ago.)

Carmelita by Hammer out of Carmen from Joy to me.

I wasn’t even looking for a horse. And now, I can look out of our home and see Carmelita, my four year old Nokota mare, in our humble pasture. She seems too majestic for our nook carved out of a hill in the “holler” on Providence Road in good ‘ole Cecil County, Maryland.

I first saw Carmelita in some photos in a home made “horse for sale” flyer. I was perusing Joy Cully’s shop, The Merry go Round Room, at Fair Hill International 2006 where I also set up and sell my artwork. “What a neat looking horse,” I remember remarking. “What is a Nokota?” Joy suggested I look up the Conservancy website to find out. I was thrilled to learn about the breed and the efforts to preserve it. But, I wasn’t looking for a horse.

Some Nokotas on Seth Zeigler's Pennsylvania farm: they have to most wonderful colors.

Two months later, I ran into Joy at a Taco Bell in the Perryville outlet mall. Christmas shoppers were hungry and the line was out the door. I didn’t know Joy very well but was still surprised that she was at an outlet mall and in the Taco Bell to boot. We said “hello” and before she left she stopped at my table to talk to me about an art trade. I love to trade so we arranged for me to come to her place.

With the trade completed, the conversation turned from art to animals. “Do you still have that mare you were selling?” I asked. Joy said, “She’s out back. Would you like to meet her?” Of course I would.

One of our first trail rides - I LOVE that she loves water

Despite the fact that I wasn’t even looking for a horse, I visited Carmelita several times that winter, fell more deeply in love, and began to plot how she might end up out my back door. Joy and I got to know each other that winter as well. I realized that Joy was selling Carmelita while still wanting to hold on to her with all of her might. When she realized that Carmelita could be with me and still be a part of HER life, Joy did everything she could to make it easier for me to decide to buy Carmelita. I had work to do though: fences to fix; grass to grow; hay to buy. A horse was coming!

She is everything that other Nokota owners know and are familiar with; strong, brave, curious, calm, noble. And through my relationship with her I get to see that she is even more. Every day I marvel that she is here. I walk up my hill to her and bury my face in her and try to steel some of that strength and grace that comes so easily to her.

Pay attention to what fate throws in your path. I wasn’t looking for a horse, but in a Taco Bell, in the middle of Christmas shopping mayhem, I found one.

Recent trail ride

Thank you Kuntz Family - gaurdians and advocates of the breed. Thank you Joy for making the path to Carmalita as smooth as possible. Thank you to my husband Dave for encouraging me to spend the time and money that horses require so that she can be a part of my life.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Country Living

I have submitted my blog to a "Country Living" magazine Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards contest. If what they say is true, my blog with be reviewed by a panel of "Country Living" Editors and noted bloggers. Do tell! Categories include: Collecting (check), Decorating (not so much), Crafting (I got that goin' on), Entertaining (not lately but, yes), Food (yes, please), Gardening (does it count if I hire that out?), Green (my recycling bin is green), Home Renovation (indeed! please see previous posts of our kitchen), Lifestyle (WAY country), Pets (we have enough I think).

Here in the holler, we are living country. I'd say anyone with fencing that serves more than a decorative purpose, more than 2 acres, several misused outbuildings, a baby pool with a playground slide in it, and the need for hay ... can call themselves country. So I've got the lifestyle going for me. I'm sort of Martha Stewart with an edge... and dirt.... and maybe less organized... smaller empire.... less "people".... okay, I'm nothing like Martha Stewart except for my medium length blonde hair.

They want to see eye catching photos and design that lure in a reader. My blog design is pretty run of the mill. I don't know how those fancy bloggers do it with frilly picture frames, fancy backgrounds, and custom heading banners. I'm a blogger not a web designer.

As for eye catching photos I try my best to punch up my writing with interesting well positioned accompaniments. Like, here's me right now concentrating really hard on my post.

I hope the main emphasis of the judging is on blog content. I might stand a chance if they are looking for creative souls who can convey their anecdotes and ideas with humor and a sense of entertainment.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Statistical Recap of the 2nd Grade Talent Show

45 students
33 acts
2.5 hours
5 hoola hoop acts
4 acts featuring the song "Dynomite"
50% of parents texting
10 technical glitches causing
8 start overs
6 joke acts
10 one minute routines set to 3 minute songs

It was still a joy to watch those little people get into their thing on stage.

Monday, June 6, 2011

My White Hen

This little white hen came to me when my friend, Caitlyn, picked her up off of the road after her box was thrown from a chicken truck.

Maybe the hen was thinking she had come into some bad luck as her box left the truck and she was flying through the air into the unknown oblivion. It must have been a strange feeling. But the daily life of factory farmed egg laying hens is where the real misfortune lies. I won't go into detail about the conditions; honestly what I imagine is probably not even as bad as it really is.

So Caitlyn asked if we would take her. I love a rescue. When we released her into our run she stumbled around like a drunken sailor. She must have never stretched her legs in her life. Her feet may have never before touched solid ground. I noticed that the tip of her beak was cut off. She was skittish and skinny on top of her wobbly legs.

My big fat content hens made sure she knew that she was not one of them - all crazy and untrustworthy as she must have seemed to them. "Girl, that bird is CRAZY." "Oh my! Maybe she hit her head." "And why's she so white?" "Do you thinks she's blind?" They chased her away from the best bits of kitchen scraps for a while. They can be so caddy.

After a few months she found her strength and her place among our hens. She can run like the wind when she needs to. And she lays one huge white egg every day. I know in the scheme of things her life has little meaning, but she is her own epoch novel of dispair, escape, mistrust, acceptance, and salvation. If only we had a rooster she could also find true love.

You're Messin with my Mind, Man

I have not blogged much lately because the thoughts that want to stream from my finger tips are not the happy upbeat sort that I want to convey to the world (Okay, "the world" is an exaggeration; I have 12 followers). We are starting week 5 of our kitchen remodel and so far we have seen about one week's worth of progress.

I am told this is normal. I get a lot of "that's contractors for you." And "It's going to take twice as long as you think and twice as much money." I'm just not sure what to do with comments like that.

I am trying my hardest to relinquish any expectations I had/have. I am trying not to let the hope for a returned call, or even better, an actual visual sighting of a contractor creep in to my mind. I am trying to concentrate on creating critters and paintings worthy of sale in a home that is cluttered, cramped, and ripped apart. Every day, three times a day, I search our makeshift kitchen for healthy meals for me and my family.

Does anyone have a happy kitchen remodel story? Does anyone have a dinner invitation? Are any of my friends Zen gurus? How about just a piece of cheese to go with my whine?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Kitchen: Money and Meltdowns

kitchen before

Since we bought our home 10 years ago, we have wanted to remodel the kitchen. Five weeks ago we moved out of our kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom - 1/4 of the square footage of our home. We are camping in our own home with a sink on the porch, grill outside, washer and dryer in our dirt basement, and fridge and small appliances in the dining room.

Kitchen renovations are notorious for high stress and high dollars. So far we are managing quite well on both fronts. In addition to new cabinets, appliances, countertops, and so on, we have taken out our walls, floor, ceiling, and windows. It is a deep project but we don't have deep pockets.

as it is now

We have saved the most money by recycling cabinets from another kitchen. We really lucked out when the sister of a friend was tearing out her very large kitchen and was willing to give us the cabinets in exchange for a donation to Habitat for Humanity. She also gave us a nicer refrigerator than we ever would have bought. Score!

We also saved a bit by doing to demolition ourselves. This was no sacrifice on my part. I could not wait to take out my pent up frustrations on the crappy cabinets, rusty appliances, and ill built walls. We let the pros handle the floor which was a mishmash of concrete, stone, wood, tile, and linoleum.

in between

Dave took the time and effort to set us up with sink with hot and cold water which has been a life saver. Were I carrying dishes to the second floor bathroom, I would be bald by now. He also rigged up our washer and dryer. Since we do a load of laundry every day (or more likely seven over the weekend) this has been a hair saver as well.

Today the Mason comes to block in the old windows and open up two new windows and a French door. Next will be the radiant heat and the concrete floor. When the floor has cures the new walls will go up and we will begin to see the new space as it will be. GLORIOUS

I am sure the real freakout and meltdown stress will come. I am also certain we will spend more than we intended thanks to our champagne taste and crazy old house with issues. So far so good.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I'm Back

I have really missed writing in my blog. I was thrown into a blog abyss for two reasons. First, the blogger website was all messed up and I couldn't access my account.

Second, and the real reason, I have been a little off center and preoccupied. No one wants to read a birdbrained blog post with no humor, lots of whine, and maybe even a little hostility.

So here is a quick list of things I am excited about and hope to share with you in future posts:

Kitchen is completely demolished!! Isn't that great? You know what would be even better? If it got built back up again. (See what I mean about the undertone of hostility?) Last week the project sat idle. We are waiting for the plumber. Please take a moment to send out a little plumber prayer for me.

We have two new family members! Meet Fisto and ?. Evan wants name the little kitty Mady. Max wants her to be Sadie. I keep calling her Itty Bitty Kitty. I'll let you know which name sticks.

I am a felting fiend! I have 14 weeks until the Brandywine Arts Festival. I have a list of ideas, some wool, and some felting needles... let's see what I can do! I am looking for suggestions for simple little Christmas ornaments so let me know what you want to see.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Something Mis-Happened

Our brains and bodies usually work very well together. Our lives depend on it. We make countless decisions everyday. Usually we come out the other end of the day unscathed.

I've had three miscommunications between mind and body this week. The third one was enough of an event to pull me out of my blog hibernation and write.

The first two were while running. I was enjoying the sweet Spring smells as I ran on my favorite trail at Fair Hill when I came to one of the stream crossings. What I thought was some exposed pebbles in a shallow spot was actually floating flower buds. Splash! Up to my ankle. Not an injury, but an uncomfortable mistake none the less. The second, same trail different day, the tip of my toe caught a root and I went flying through the air. After a good jarring to my shoulders and neck I kept running out of spite for that root. I think it grew up just as I was passing and had a good giggle as I tried to get myself off the forest floor.

Today I had the final mishap in my hat trick. Dave and I are beginning our kitchen demo. We had a stuck upper cabinet. It seemed to be stuck to the one next to it. He unscrewed the adjacent cabinet and that was my cue to get up and help. I held one while he took out the final screw of the other.

We thought they would come out together. All I thought to do was support the cabinet from the bottom while they both came out. But they miraculously disengaged. Before I knew it the top of the heavy cabinet was coming down on my head. I ducked my head inside of it but then the middle shelf was pressing heavily on the side of my neck. I buckled under the weight into some bizarre position that I couldn't recreate if I had to. I have no idea where my hands, my strength, or my sense were. I was stuck and in pain.

I must have been shouting "ouch" or "help" or something because I hear Dave saying, "Are you okay!!??" Finally I manage to yell, "Get this thing off of me!!!" Dave had to put his heavy and unwieldy cabinet down before he could remove my bad choice in hats.

I have to admit I cried a little. I can't remember the last time I was stuck and scared.

Generally I think of myself as a capable, sure footed, athletic person. Maybe it's time to revisit that description.

Monday, April 18, 2011

On a Hill in the Holler

I realize our home needs a lot of work. Just ask Dave how many times I have picked up a real estate magazine in search of a better place. With intense grassisgreeneritis I would study each property and choose a handful of places that were definitely "better" than ours. Our house is old, it doesn't have a ton of character to make up for the age, the kitchen is atrocious, our property is 100% hill, some of our neighbors are sketchy, and what animal lover wouldn't want a little more property? We even went as far as to put our house on the market once.

But something has clicked; I have not looked, in earnest, at a real estate magazine in over a year. I feel dedicated to our plot. Maybe it's because I can finally see all of the visions that hung before my eyes when we first bought the property (10 years ago) becoming reality. Or maybe we have just invested too much time, energy, and money to walk away now. Or, I have finally fallen in love.

With my new love goggles I see the house's character, the kitchen's potential, the beauty and protection of the hill, all of the work that we have done here, and the neighbors? What neighbors?

When we bought this property it was just a house on a hill; figuratively and literally, there was nothing else - no fences, no out buildings, no landscaping, no paths, no patio, no pasture. Now when I pull into my driveway I see the home that we have created together.... and I cherish it.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Saturday: A Poem

It's raining
It's pouring
friends come tomorrow morning
lots to do
the house is poo
today will not be boring

I'm cleaning
I'm tossing
my kids just need more bossing
the laundry's done
the washer's run
my list still needs more crossing

I made it
shipped it
the money, I have flipped it
it's in the bank
you I thank
recession I have nipped it

I'm raking
I'm spreading
Too much mulch I'm getting
now some here
now some there
my plants can now stop fretting

I'm dicing
I'm chopping
my good man is out shopping
carrots shredded
cabbage dreaded
the coleslaw in a bowl is plopping

More laundry
more cleaning
chaos is finding meaning
a few more tasks
I'll have to ask
the kids to please stop screaming

This poem structure is too hard!!! Oh well. You get the idea.

Monday, April 11, 2011


I have many momentous blog posts brewing inside of me. I really doo. I am a little backed up by life and all (you know, stress does that). I will get them out. Even if I have to sit here all day, I will get at least one good post out.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Go Blow Eggs... the Modern Way

My Grandmother was a huge influence in my life. She was the matriarch of our creativity. One of the fond memories I have of her is us blowing out eggs together.

To blow out an egg, one must first make a small hole in the top and bottom. My Grandmother did this with a needle. Carefully gently work the needle to create a small hole on top and a slightly bigger hole and the bottom without cracking the egg. Not the least stressful thing you'll ever do.

Once you have the hole, and about half a dozen cracked eggs, you put the needle up in to the egg and twist it all around. You want to scramble the sucker so there are no yolk sacks intact to block your hole.

Then you put your mouth around the top and BLOW. Blow some more. Try harder. Keep at it. Here it comes. Shoot it went back up. Man, your face is red. Take a break. Blow again. All that for just a dribble? Try harder! And so on until, eventually, you have a break through and the slimy egg comes shooting out of the tiny hole. Now you have an empty egg to decorate and last forever.

Well, my good friend, Molly, and I wanted to get together and make empty eggs to decorate and have forever. So I collected about 3 dozen eggs from our chickens and headed over to her house with them, a few needles, my boys, and baked french toast for brunch.

First we eat. Then we start on the eggs. The needle I brought ( a leather awl) was consistently cracking the eggs. Frustrated to see any egg be wasted, Molly suggests we try a dremmel tool. I try to wait patiently without continuing to crack eggs with my needle while she and her husband Jon set up the dremmel.

Max almost PASTED OUT!!!!!Because he blew 16 eggs out!! (max wrote that)

Molly quickly figured out how to make perfectly round smooth tiny holes in the eggs with the dremmel. No more wasted eggs.... and we commence to blowing. After 10 minutes and near hyperventilation with only one egg each finished, Jon the tool man suggested the air compressor. I just laughed it off. I my mind the air compressor was a loud and scary monster that was used on giant metal machinery like trucks and tractors. Next thing I know there is a tube snaked into the dining room and Jon is poised to blow an egg with what looks like a tattoo gun for the Jolly Green Giant. I will not bore you with my account.... here is a video....

After a bit of tweaking to the air pressure we had an assembly line: Molly at the dremmel, I scrambled the insides, and Jon, in the blink of an eye, blew out the egg. My Grandma was smiling down at the comedy and efficiency of it all.

Mystery Escape

Otto, the fearless leader

When we leave our home for an outing there is a complex string of tasks regarding the animals that must be executed for their protection. The dog door must be capped from the inside keeping all canine beasts in the house and out of the yard. A gate must be placed between the kitchen and living room leaving Otto and Maive, the big dogs, on the living room side and Rock, a JRT, and the cat on the kitchen side. The door which connects the kitchen and laundry room must be latched to remain open 4" so the cat can access her food and litter box without the company of the JRT. We exit the kitchen door (our house is a "back door is the front door" kind of a house).

Yesterday the family and I set out for a morning of egg blowing and brunch with friends (that's another post, folks.) I let the chickens out of their coop to graze the yard while the dogs were locked in and we were out.

When we returned Maive, one of the big dogs who likes to hunt, was darting wildly around free range style - not in the fenced in dog yard mind you - free like a bird.... bird.... bird?..... the chickens!! Wait! Rock, the JRT, and Otto are both barking at me from the yard! The cat!

Maive, the huntress and Houdini

I tell the boys to wait in the car until I determine who is alive and who is dead. I approach the house and the door is already open. What the? In the kitchen I see the cat sleeping happily by the fire. Phew. But the gate is still up. Huh?

Max and Evan ignored my request and when I came back outside to tell them they could get out Max was yelling "The chickens are alive! I found them! They are alive! They are behind the barn! How's the cat?!" "Alive!" I say.

I will never understand how the door got open, Maive got out, the dog door got open, and Rock got on the other side of the kitchen gate with Otto and out into the yard. Critters sure do keep you on your toes. I can't tell you how many times I wish I had a surveillance system.

All is well that ends well. But what about the next time I leave the house?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Final Painting

With a little help from my artist friend, Viki, I put the final touches on the painting.

Here is the impression I last left you with....

That was taken with my ipod - so not a very good photo.

Here is the painting that my happy patron left with on Saturday...

Back to felting this week - there is nothing in my etsy store!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

It's Not Mundane It's My Life

I am so grateful for my day to day life. My daily routines comfort me. In my home with my family I have all that I need. Aside from the never ending itch to create, there is not much I crave.

When I wake up I sit at the kitchen table with my laptop checking all of my super important online happenings. Dave has either left early for work or is sleeping in on a weekend. I make coffee. I stoke the fire. At some point a puffy faced squinty eyed sleepy headed boy walks into the room. He climbs into my lap for a brief, but cherished, embrace, asks for a breakfast treat, and then disappears into the living room to watch TV or play a game. And then the day can unfold, usually into some version of the day before.

I would not trade my routine for anyone elses or for a life of travel and adventure. Although, a tropical island get away here and there would be a welcome break from the norm.

Friday, April 1, 2011

More Better

Here is where I left off yesterday...

Here is where I finished today...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Portrait Painting Progression

I do still paint. I had to dust of my workspace, freshen up my pallet, and re-clean brushes before I could get started. I also had to juice up my inspiration before I tackled a portrait; a little Sargent always does the trick.

I started on a panel that already had a painting on it - an old crazy looking self portrait that I never wanted the world to see. A little something already going on on the canvas helps me stay loose and gives the new painting more interest and life.

First I lay in the darkest values. I try not to go back to my darks once they are in... for some reason, trying to darken an area far into the painting always spells disaster. Since the canvas started so dark, I didn't have to do much.

Next I begin adding medium and light values to begin to define features.

After a few more minutes, more details emerge and it starts to look like something.

She still looks older than she should so I keep lightening and softening...

I decide that the features are not right. To get them right I have to scrape the whole face back and start over. At this point I turned my reference and my canvas upside down. Looking at it upside down helps me see what is really there and not what my mind thinks should be there.

With the features redone she is looking more like the real person. Tomorrow I will put away the photos and work on softening and rounding everything, giving it more atmosphere and solidity..

Stay tuned... more photos to follow...

Doin the Kitchen Limbo

Yes, we are planning to remodel our kitchen. This Spring.... summer? I don't know. I don't know yet when the contractor will be ready to start. I also don't know...

whether our plan falls into our budget
how long it might take
what my painted cabinets will look like
which countertop I want/can afford
what stainless gas range I want/can afford
how we will do our laundry
where I am going to put everything that comes out of the kitchen
back splash?
what lies behind our soffits
can we get rid of the soffits?
my whole plan hinges on those dumb soffits

The list goes on and on. And so I try to concentrate on my work. I try not to make more holes in the walls. I try to make social plans for the next month or two as if life will still be normal and constructionless.... but will it? And so I am doin' the Kitchen Limbo.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hare Today Gnome Tomorrow

I spent yesterday felting snow hares. Today I hope to photograph them and list them on etsy. And then, if things continue moving as they have for the past couple of months, they will be gone. I will need to make more. But I also want to make more hedgehogs. And I'd like to make gnomes, donkeys, mice, ponies, not mention more basket bunnies and lifesized bunnies for Easter. For a show in the Adirondacks this summer I need to start mooses, bears, raccoons, chipmunks, foxes, skunks, owls, and deer. In a month or two I should start building my inventory for Fall which means ornaments, reindeer, and Mr. and Ms. Claus.

I had a bag in which I'd hoped to start accumulating critters. Every time I made a critter for etsy, I made one for the bag. I can't tell you how satisfying it was to see the bag begin to fill. I had about a dozen "extra" critters in there but then Vulcan's Rest in Chesapeake City requested more critters and now my bag is empty.

I realize that quickly selling what I make is a good problem to have. I hope I am not coming across as complaining. But scrambling, yes, that I am. ( Here is my daydream: I imagine something like a ball pit full of critters that I have made. I run towards it, leap into the air, and descend into the abundance. I emerge with bunnies and gnomes spilling off of me. I reach down and toss them about. Critters everywhere ready to sell.) I am always getting faster and more efficient but I can't stop wondering "how can I make more?"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Perfect Storm: Waking in the Middle

The way I see it our little home does not stand a chance at cleanliness against the waves and winds of three fierce factors: rural family life (kids, animals, dirt), my personality (not neat), and my home based career (all of the things I create and all that I use to create them are in our home). Nothing brings it into clearer focus than Spring.

I have been waiting for the Spring Cleaning Urge to strike. Tick tock tick tock. Hello? My house is a mess here... Spring is springing....Urge? Meanwhile I am beginning to notice the dirt that all Winter I was able to ignore. I see the crayon on the wall, the dirty spots on the curtains, the gray unknown laying in wait at the bottom of my window sashes, dust on the tops of my framed art, musty (boarding on a tactile tackiness) dog beds, and bug carcasses in the light fixtures.

And that's just the more subtle dirtities, never mind the in-your-face messes. School papers everywhere. My papers everywhere. Evan's little personal tornado of clothing and toys. Max's gazillion lego happenings. Laundry and dishes always. A constant tide of dog hair. And my work: finished critters, wool, unfinished critters, pens, pads, paintings, old ones, new ones, paintings paintings paintings.

Spring also awakens a pull to the out of doors. All of a sudden my eyes can see the yard that lay untouched for 4 months. Limbs that fell from heavy snow strewn the yard. Weeds emerge along with the tulips and daffodils. Months worth of three dog's poop is scattered about waiting... for me. I notice the horse's fencing is down, not in one or two places, but everywhere. When did that tree fall onto the fence? Man, that's a lot of manure.

Fortunately for my marriage, Dave and I seem to have the same attitude towards the clutter and dirt. We are a good team; we live harmoniously with each other and the mess but when it is time to get it together we are a force of our own. The mess doesn't stand a chance. I organize and pick up the pieces and Dave cleans like a mad man. It'll happen.

We won't have you over for dinner until it does.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Good Hair Day

Old tired hair

About 5 years ago, after the birth of my second son, Evan, I cut my hair off. Whack! From mid back to pixie! After a year or so I grew tired of my face sticking out of my hair so I grew out the pixie. Then, for about 3 years, I sported a Posh bob that never looked posh. Today, with inspirational photo in hand, I went to my hairdresser friend Lauri and asked for a change.

That's not me, folks. That's the inspirational photo.

After she spent 2 hours highlighting, washing, cutting, drying, recutting, and styling, I stepped out with a BANG so to speak. I felt light, happy, and current. Thank you, Lauri!

My new do must have inspired me to help others. I have attempted to felt, and failed, 3 different hedgehogs. The challenge was how to represent their spikes. Finally I figured out that the rabbit angora would be perfect. It's the opposite of spikes, soft as a cloud, but it looks right and makes a cuddlier critter

hedgehog inspirational photo

I spent the rest of my day giving new life and glorious hair to a little rodent. Finally, a camera worthy hedgehog.

Who has better hair?