Saturday, September 14, 2019

What a Week!

I'm pooped. I told you how I wore myself out emptying the guest room of its furniture. Well then I had to paint the room. I didn't take many photos, but here's a short video of the room when I'd just started doing the trim:
The guest room was my catch-all room. I had boxes of china and family photos under the bed, plus bags of baby clothes from when the kids were little. I had boxes of fine crystal and the boys' Legos in the tiny closet. And so many books, books I need to give away.
Philip's shoes when he was an itty bitty

Philip wore this shirt when he played t-ball as a 4 year old.
I have the cutest photo of him running bases, wearing it.

I enjoyed Jan Karon books years ago,
 but now I want my daughter to have these. Or somebody. Anybody?
I spent much of one day at the top of a ladder, reaching the corners of those 10-foot ceilings. I was exhausted. The next day I painted the floor. I pushed myself, wanting to get done. My legs have not recovered. Here is the "after" video:

Adam just went into our bedroom and said, "Now this room is the worst one in the house." He's right. "You should do this one next," he added. Ha! Not until my legs have recovered! It may be a while. Still, I'm very pleased with the guest room. Not too bad for a 100 year old sharecropper house!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Blue Flowers Watercolor

 These flowers were some of the "hurricane painting" I did to calm myself during Dorian :) I was surprised they came out so well -- except the first flower, the one on the lower right. I was utterly disappointed in its shape.
 I tried to work with it, adding more black paint, even ink. It still did not satisfy me.
 But it was good practice, which was its purpose. I was again surprised when I posted the watercolor on Facebook and a friend said that she liked that flower the best! Isn't that cool? So I touched the flower up a little more with colored pencils, popped the painting into the mail to her, and now I don't have to think about that flower any more, haha!

I liked the concept well enough to attempt another one. I've been wanting to replace both of the not-quite-beautiful watercolors I framed in the spring, with something better. Here is the second Blue Flowers watercolor:
 I popped it into the frame (sadly, with a red mat trim that looks kind of wrong) and am enjoying it on my bedroom wall.
Today I decided to do another, but in orange/yellow/red.
I wish I hadn't put that bit of blue in the background. After this photo I tried scrubbing it a bit to make it lighter, and adding a very light blue wash around the edges of the flowers. I think I should have left it alone. As Adam tells me, "Don't forget the white space!!"

Staying Busy

Life is like a hurricane, and we're spinning in it. Sometimes we're calm in the eye, sometimes we're thrashed by high winds and nearly sick with the speed of it, and sometimes we're lolling around on the fringes of the tempest, thankful for a rest. These are days of being swirled around.

Henny Penny has five baby chicks so far! We're waiting to see how many more will hatch, if any. Some eggs are "duds," unfertilized.
That one there is not ill; he is a "Naked Neck" variety.

I made shampoo bars. I was down to my last bar at the market stall.
I'm weaving a scarf. Cool-weather items at the market will be needed soon.

Autumn is a busy, sometimes frantic, time of year. Because it's September I'm teaching a Bible study again, leading a handchime choir, and singing and accompanying in a local chorale. That last bit, "accompanying," sounds so little, but it takes a huge amount of practice time at home.
 The handchime choir (at church) is preparing just one song for our Christmas program in December, so that's not too hard. I want variety in that program so I decided to play a simple piece on the recorder also. Problem is ... I don't know how to play the recorder. How hard can it be, right?
 Adam bought this wooden recorder many years ago. I'm learning the tune to "Good King Wenceslaus."

I've knitted fingerless gloves until I'm sick of them. Here is the last pair.

 But this morning, rather than doing anything creative, I wore my body out! Before grandbaby Isaac comes to visit at Christmas, I wanted to paint the floor in the guest room. 
 It was under shag carpet when we bought the house, and has remained in this ugly state for 4 years. I covered it up with rugs.
 First I cleared off half of the front porch. (The other half is Adam's study area in the cool months.) I started early when it was relatively cool. All the items from the guest room will be shifted to the front porch during this project. I cannot stand to just empty a room into another room, thus making a small house like this nearly unlivable until the project is finished. I can't move this chair alone; it's too big for the door. It's a great chair. My mother gave it to us.
 See how empty the room is getting? Adam left for New Bern early this morning to finish his training to work for the U.S. Census this time around. So I'm doing all this with my own girl muscles!! The front porch thus far:

The porch is well-enclosed in plastic sheeting (which withstood Hurricane Dorian), so I think everything will be fine.

I've taken two Tylenol and will spend the rest of the day doing easier things like painting or weaving. Actually ... I'm feeling like a trip to the thrift store, which makes no sense since that guest room was chock full of lots of stuff I've been tucking under the bed out of sight. So Much Stuff. I am noticing items that really should go to the children now that they have homes of their own ....

Time to go check on Henny Penny again. So far she's being a pretty good mama.

Saturday, September 7, 2019


I'm on the downhill side of middle-aged, and my memory is going down the hill with me. Why is it that some aspects of memory slip away just as others become more vivid?

When I was visiting my mother I confiscated another photo album. She's often told me to do so; there are so many photos and albums, and better to sort through them now than all at once, in a weepy hurry, after she dies. These albums bring back a flood of memories. This was a little album with a note from my daddy in the front: "May 1998 thru." His precise, architectural handwriting is easy to spot, especially years before a stroke made it wobbly.

1998 was a busy year. One granddaughter was born that May. Evidently that summer the two oldest grandchildren came to visit my parents at their home in the North Carolina mountains and attended camp. Afterward a grand road trip began -- my parents drove to West Virginia and then out to Iowa to return those two kids to their home. Along the way they visited other kids and grandkids. Here are a few photos from this album, hopefully in order:
My daddy with Kesse, oldest granddaughter

Daddy being silly with my kids, which was a regular occurrence when he was not yet elderly.
I think he and Mother took the kids on a hike in the Cradle of Forestry.

Two Iowa cousins playing with three younger West Virginia cousins.
Cousin ties are strong in our family, mostly thanks to efforts by my daddy, like this road trip.

One of my all-time favorite family pics.
The expression on my daddy's face shows exactly how he felt about family, grandkids, and life in general.

Back in Iowa, three sisters lounge in a pool in Independence.

I sometimes wonder now how the kids remember these days, but this photo shows how I remember it: Peter snuggled in his grandmother's lap. Lorien snuggled in mine. Cousins huddled together in fun. Family together. My daddy's hands around it all. The children's days were full of play and hours of freedom (and lots of beanie babies).

My daddy's 70th birthday party. Silly hats on grown men.

We spent a lot of time at my parents' mountain home.
 It was a place of safety, peace, and love for our family.
Yes, that's the kind of TV we had back then!
No cell phones. No internet. No facebook!

Our kids spent a lot of time outdoors playing at my parents' house.
I only regret that Julia wasn't born yet, or she would've been in the thick of things with these umbrellas!

My daddy was an over-comer. He had a rough childhood in a difficult family followed by two years of dangerous war in Korea. But he set his mind to having fun and family, and did his best to accomplish a life in which he poured his life into others. This was a challenge for him, but he tried. He was a doer -- he was not a man with deep emotional reserves to talk long into the wee hours of the night. (That was my mother.) He was the man who worked hard to provide the infrastructure of life -- home, trips, camp, good advice, church, financial help, keeping in touch, and more -- that eased the lives of others, especially his children and grandchildren. He had many people leaning on him, and it was never too much. 

I miss him every day. I wondered for a second why he's on my mind today. Then I realized his birthday is in two days. He would be 91 years old. He never expected to live as long as he did, but I think he stuck around to help everybody as long as he could. I never feel he's far away at all. And I don't feel that he's gone. The Bible says that we're surrounded by a "great cloud of witnesses" - those who've left this earth before us. Daddy's in that cloud of supporters, cheering me on. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Painting for the Hurricane

Yes, I decided to stay for the storm. I couldn't face another road trip just yet; a night of howling chaos outside followed by some days of no air conditioning seemed preferable to bumper-to-bumper evacuation traffic. 

Hurricane Dorian is due to arrive in our backyard in about 24 hours or so. Very early Friday morning (in the wee hours) should be the worst. As long as a tree doesn't fall on the house, I'm not really scared of wind or rain or thunder. We may get a little flooding but nothing like we've seen from the Bahamas -- nothing.

To calm my 'fraid nerves I've been painting. Little cards wouldn't do it for me, so I went hunting for a resource photo online and found this:

Image result for watercolor painting blue flowers
This is NOT my art work. I'm just using it as inspiration.

I tried a little card first -- an imitation.
Then I pulled out the massive roll of watercolor paper my son and daughter-in-law gave me, whacked off a big piece, and started painting before I could chicken out. I haven't done much "big" work. But since its only purpose was to calm me down before a hurricane, who cared if it turned out awful? Here is the development of the Hurricane Painting:

The ugliest flower. I worked on it later. Ugh.

I cannot describe how delightful it is to lay water down on the paper in a shape, dip my wet brush into some wet pigment, dot it into the water, and see it spread within the boundaries of that water. Ahh -- calming. I like it better than some of the other bigger ones I did, and I might swap them in the frames soon. I think I could paint those blue flowers for hours.

Tomorrow I'll need to paint again. Last day before the onslaught. Dorian should pass just next to us, rather quickly. But it will feel like a hurricane, no doubt about that. Most of the people we know who've lived here a while are staying also. Here's to hunkering down!

Monday, September 2, 2019

To Evacuate ...

Or not to evacuate? That is the question.[Image of WPC QPF U.S. rainfall potential]
When you live this close to the ocean, hurricane season is a familiar drill. We have to evaluate the risks of staying against the trouble of leaving. Each hurricane is different. 

Florence (2018) came west across the Atlantic, making landfall south of us (about 2 hours' drive away), moving slowly as a Cat 1 storm with Cat 4 storm surge. The combination of surge and rainfall caused damage in our area. Rainfall amounts are greatly impacted by how long a hurricane sits on you, i.e. -- how fast it's moving. Florence slowed down as she hit land and made her "turn" south.
Hurricane Florence's path
Hurricane Arthur (2014) had a similar path to Hurricane Dorian, our current storm. A Cat 2, he skirted north along the coast from Florida, tapping Cape Lookout, NC (a couple of hours' drive from us), and heading north. We stayed for Arthur. He did little damage. We had some flooding, but nothing to worry about. He did not stall out, which kept flooding low.
Hurricane Arthur's path
Hurricane Irene (2011) left much damage in our area, although Florence was worse. A Cat 1 storm, she had unimpressive windspeeds but high rainfall. She also made landfall at Cape Lookout. Her position over Pamlico Sound caused her to dump water into the sound like a pitcher pouring water into a bucket, which pushed that water up the rivers and creeks.
Hurricane Irene's path
It's impossible to say where Hurricane Dorian will go. Some people evacuate inland, only to find themselves in the storm's path. Sometimes flooding is horrific along the rivers and tributaries 3 hours inland, with no flooding at all on the Outer Banks.

For Hurricane Florence, I evacuated early, went far far away, and stay gone until the electricity came back on. It was a good call. But I'm confused about Dorian. He looks a lot like Arthur, who was a gentleman as he passed by. Last year in Florence, our ground was already saturated from 6 months of rain; this year we've had drought. Will Dorian plow through quickly? That helps. Will he shift west and come directly overhead? Yikes! Evacuation is difficult because of uncertainty, and even with weather models and warnings a week ahead of time, hurricanes are still quite uncertain.

I haven't decided yet. I will decide within the next 24 hours. After that, it may well be too late to evacuate easily.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Returned from Places Far and Beautiful

I traveled to West Virginia this past week for a quick visit with my mother. It was nice to see family. In past years visits like this would've been filled with children - lots of nieces, nephews, and our own kids. Not any more! Just us old folks, but it was wonderful to see my mother, and so soothing to see the exquisite beauty that is West Virginia.

We visited Tamarack, a center (with restaurant) displaying the best of West Virginia's crafters. 
My sister-in-law's display of her gorgeous candles -- at Tamarack!

Mother, Anne, and I ate at Food and Friends in Lewisburg, and then Anne's mother dropped in and joined us, which was just delightful.

Mother and I also enjoyed early evening sitting on her front porch. West Virginia is perfect in late August - cool, peaceful, green.

Sorry I didn't take more photos of humans, but I don't want to be obnoxious.

Max and Anne sent me home with beautiful produce from their garden. I had a scrumptious tomato sandwich today.
Here's an egg from their hens - I've never seen such a big one!
Adam and I were back at the farmer's market in Oriental this morning.

All the talk in this little coastal town was of Hurricane Dorian, barreling for Florida's coast but looking more and more likely to prefer our coast instead. If it comes our way, I may be traveling again later this week -- for evacuation!

I did some knitting while in WVa, another pair of fingerless gloves.

These are just as decorative as they are practical. I finished them with a little red ribbon woven through above the wrist.

I'll end with a few photos of new watercolor cards. I need to restock my inventory!

If you'd like to purchase any, check out my album at this link to see which ones are in my sale basket right now. I'm happy to mail them to you.

I'll keep you posted about the hurricane and what we decide to do. Prayers are appreciated :)