Thursday, January 31, 2019

On the Edge of the Polar Vortex ...

We have no snow.

But it has been cold at night, in the low 20s.
I'm so thankful for the new heating system Adam put in. It's chugging away outside the dining room window.

That photo isn't fuzzy. That's how dirty my screens are!
The inside units blow warmth down on your head. it feels nice.
Well, maybe my photos are fuzzy after all! When that long flap on the bottom is dropped open, it's heating the room. What a happy sight!

Our next step to total warmth is to insulate the floors. Now that the rooms are warm, it's very noticeable that the floors are quite cold. We wear socks and thick slippers, and we don't feel it. 

Adam repaired the washing machine, yay!!!
The inside of the machine is very rusted, so we don't know how much longer it will hold together, hence the strap.

He also prepped a whole long bed in the garden, but to show you a picture of that I'd have to walk out to the garden, in the cold, and I don't wanta do that!

Henny Penny described her attitude toward house work right now, and I absolutely agree. Why is it that I don't want to scrub/vacuum/sweep/clean out anything in winter? It's the perfect time, when I'm stuck inside. My bathtub is reproaching me. I also struggle with wanting to clean floors :(

Here are a few more pages from my latest picture book, The Rescue of William Shrew. It's a serious-sounding title for a little animal who takes himself rather seriously.

 This page has a "typo" that I had to fix with white-out:

 On this page, William reaches The Nutmeg Tavern, a name Adam thought of.
 Remember the grocery store flowers Adam gets for free? The lilies in last week's bunch are finally opening. I'm amazed at how long they last!
He's off to the store again this morning, so hopefully he'll return with a new bunch.
That's all, folks. Sorry to be so boring! I haven't posted much because there's not much to tell. That's winter, right?

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Weeks Are Clipping By ...

 I can tell I'm getting old because time is just flitting by and I find myself asking, "What happened? What day is it? Wait ... what year is it?"
Speaking of the passing of years, Colonial Williamsburg sent me a 2019 calendar, just in the nick of time! I'll enjoy this all year, and maybe it will alleviate some of my confusion.
 I'm on a new weave, a houndstooth:
 Here's a 5-minute video of me, weaving that:
I'm working on my new little picture book. Here's page one:
 And page two:
 This sparrow turned out rather nice:
 I have one lone dandelion blooming in my yard right now, haha! So here are blooms from the flowers Adam brought me from the grocery store. I'll pretend it's spring :)

 I love fluffy sleeping socks. A favorite pair got a hole in the toe, a result of this "ladder" -- a run, as we used to call it.
I tracked the run down to the bottom, and found the loose loop. By using a small crochet hook, and basically making a climbing chain with each of those "ladder" treads, I can re-knit it back to the toe, stitch it closed, and keep my nice sock.

Honestly, there's only the usual hum-drum going on here. Adam and I are mostly in the house, reading and writing and cooking and eating. We're doing all our church activities that we love to do. Our weeks are stacked with a doable schedule of just enough things to get us out of the house, because otherwise we'd become like this:
Image may contain: text that says 'You know you're old when you barely do anything all day but still need a nap to continue doing barely anything. SOSHARETHIS'
Also, I get my giggles every day by reading a few friends' facebook memes. I've hidden pretty much all the friends who rant about politics and kept only the ones who post animal videos and hilarious memes. How 'bout you?

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Winter Nothings

It's cold out there! We reached 20 degrees last night.
 Frost on the plastic sheeting on the porch ~
 However cold it was on the porch, my tomato plants seem to have survived it. 
 My herb pots were closer to the cold edge of the porch, but the basil looks okay too.
 When it's very cold, Adam has to cook. Yesterday we didn't want the calories that come when he bakes, so he opted for beef stew instead.
 He made Tasha Tudor's cornbread too.
 Yesterday I stitched up a lightweight baby blanket for the new baby coming this summer. 
 It's clearly a woven fabric (but delicate), so I chose a needle for woven fabric. Still, it picked the threads over and over. I was not happy about how the underside of the stitching looked. I'd like to find some silky lining to put all around the edge. Babies like that.

I forgot to share this photo with you from Saturday morning down at the farmers' market. This sailor was repairing something on the top of his mast.
 He had a rope tied under his seat, and another fellow was on the deck, hoisting him up there. We were nervous watching.
There's not much happening here, just winter doldrums. I finished writing my newest book by hand onto its pages. It's called The Rescue of William Shrew. I want to paint all its pages, but I'm not sure if I'll make copies. It's not a silly/funny story. Rather it's a story of a floody storm and a tiny shrew who is lost and needs to find his family. It ends happily, but it's more exciting than funny. But I really wanted to write and finish it because it has a contribution from Adam! He suggested a toasty warm tavern for animals called The Nutmeg Tavern. I love that name, so I put it into the little book. We'll see how it turns out. Last night when I was up in the wee hours of the night, I sketched a little shrew.
Now I'm finishing a truly silly and delightful story, Ned the Labrador Falls in Love. It needs a shorter title. 

Thanks for stopping by on such a boring day! Stay warm out there.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Changing My Comment Method -

Hi, reader friends. One of you brought to my attention that commenting was difficult here on my blog because I had my comments embedded in the post, instead of giving you a pop-up window to comment in. So I've changed that, and I hope it helps. Thanks for keeping me up to date, because I am really not techy that way. I need all the help I can get!

Also, I tend to reply to comments via email, not by a reply comment here on the blog. That way you don't have to come check here for a reply. I hope that works alright for everyone.



Sunday, January 20, 2019

All Things Bright and Beautiful

In January, is there anything more refreshing that "bright and beautiful"?
 Adam brought these flowers home on Thursday. Every Thursday morning our local grocery, Food Lion, gives away their "old" flower arrangements to the earliest customers who ask. Isn't that lovely?
Last week (that's 10 days ago!) he brought home these:
 They're still brightening my studio right now.

I started spinning again, just a little. I chose some dark brown fleece that was already cleaned and picked.
 It doesn't look as dark as it really is. I find a nest of dizzed fleece such a pretty, perfect thing. I haven't spun any roving in about 9 months, but it was easy to pick it back up again.

I've been craving an ice cream cone. In January. I know, there's no excuse for that kind of crazy! Adam bought the ice cream, and I said I would make home made cones ... and I did! 
 They're very good, and the recipe is from Food Wishes.  I do recommend it.

Church this morning was lovely. Our sweet people love to fellowship with each other, and it's a joy to be part of that! But now the day is turning cold ... very cold tonight ... and we're hunkered in the house, anticipating warming activities like hot cocoa, popcorn, a good movie, a snugly robe and slippers, snoozy dogs. But Adam is cutting up a pineapple!
 It's a perfect pineapple, and a very healthy snack.
 Last year I transplanted half of my much-beloved Creeping Fig plant into the ground in front of the house, which is south-facing. I hoped it might survive winters there and begin to climb up the house a little. Well ... it is!
Just a little so far, and it probably won't thrive well with our winters, but maybe in a little corner it will look this pretty. I think it's such a sweet  plant.

Tomorrow I'm deviating from our usual Bible study topic. Adam preached recently about turning our fears/anxieties into prayers, as David did. Writing them down as prayers, speaking as David did. You can hardly go wrong with that kind of prayer. I did this with some of the heavy heartaches I'm struggling with lately, and it helped a lot. I felt assured that God had heard me, and I felt much more peace that the problems were in His hands. What relief! Years ago, it was bitterness that was eating away at me on the inside, but in recent years, it's anxiety, sorrow, worry. Surely it's not supposed to eat away at me either!
 Adam made me a cool leather book for which I'd not yet found a good purpose. Now it will be my Fears-Into-Prayers book. I want to be more devoted to praying fervently and long for inner sorrows that I can't share with others, but that I desperately need God's intervention to help -- and not just help the situation, but help my hurting soul too. Here's the book:
When I write my prayers in it, I try to write in the manner David did -- very personal, very pleading, very emotional, brutally honest. I hope I stick with it.

January can be a dreary month. I hope you have some bright and beautiful things in your January that help you through!

Monday, January 14, 2019

Where I've Been

We traveled to Chattanooga for Christmas, and then brought Julia home for 2 weeks before I took her back to college in the mountains on Friday. It was bittersweet to take her back there, but she's happy and ready to get on with her college career. No ... I didn't take a single picture! I didn't want to oppress her with the can-I-take-a-picture-of-you-with-your-RA/waffle/coffee/new dorm/etc. We also spent a little time with Philip and Kara again who drove over. 
Geese fly over our little farm often these days.

So now I'm back home after all the busyness of the last month. I've been looking forward to  PEACE. Of course, now things will pick up again after the Christmas break: Bible study preparations, piano lessons, music responsibilities. Life never slows down entirely.

It's good to be in our cozy home. Today Adam is diagnosing and repairing a faulty outlet in my studio. It showed up first as a bathroom outlet run amok.
 I'm very thankful for a helpful and handy husband.

My mind turns lately on the uncertainties of life, on how precious relationships are (especially family ones), and on how we must hold on to each other and forgive each other. It's not easy because people are complicated, families lean toward conflict, and forgiveness is hard. Plus, individuals have their own opinions about how to relate. I find myself repeatedly feeling that we can only muddle on and do our best, which means we make mistakes, which means we must be quick to apologize for ourselves and to forgive each other. Is there any other way? After years of struggling, this seems the best way to me, the way that leads to peace. 

Recently I spoke with a friend and we'd both read a book years ago, Heart of Anger, Christian advice about raising children, especially angry, rebellious children. I don't remember the rest of the book much, but one tiny section arrested me and helped me just about more than anything else I've read. I'll post photos of the reading here so I don't have to type it out:

I post this only for those who, like me, struggle with hurt, bitterness, and eventually anger. I'm sure it applies to children too, but it certainly applied to me. I'd been hurt by others in various situations, but I found it nearly impossible to forgive them -- they were Christians who should know they'd behaved wickedly. I wanted apologies and some sort of restitution, a correction of the wrong. That didn't happen, of course, and I was left to deal with my hurt on my own. This is the usual course of events -- the person who wrongs you goes on his merry way and you are left to deal with the fall-out. The writer (Lou Priolo) gives 2 other options in addition to forgiveness, however. I could also decide, after deeper examination, that an offense hadn't really occurred. But beyond that, I could also decide to "overlook the offense." Adam has a great phrase for this act; he tried to teach it to our kids. He'd ask them, when they'd been hurt, "Can you absorb this and let it end with you?" What a cool idea! 

I knew I suffered from this track toward bitterness and anger because I could see it in me, the rehearsing of the offenses, the growing anger and how it absorbed my mind. In the end the solution I found that worked best was simply to pray for the people who had hurt me -- to pray specifically and repeatedly for their welfare, for God to bless all the aspects of their lives. Nothing poured cold water on the fire of my anger more effectively than that praying.

Both praying for the people who've hurt me, and deciding to overlook their offenses -- to let it go, are acts of generosity and kindness on my part that defuse the damaging effects of bitterness. They bring healing and peace to my soul. And peace is what I want. 

I first read this book and learned this method about 15 years ago. It was effective in immediately ridding me of bitterness and anger from past wrongs, and has become more effective as I've used it since then.

I also realized about a year ago that when I see anger in other people, often the true emotion they're feeling is fear. It's only outwardly manifested as anger. This makes me feel compassionate toward them in their fear, rather than reciprocating their anger with anger. It's also worth asking myself: When I'm angry, am I actually just afraid? What am I afraid of? Why?

I wish I'd known this when my children were young, especially in their teens. Teenagers vent lots of anger, but if the root of that anger is actually fear, there may be something a parent can do to mitigate that fear. Children don't like to share their fears; they keep them hidden. But they share their anger quickly. This might be a useful diagnostic if you need to discover why your child is angry.

I'm rambling a bit. Next time ... hopefully .. when the electrical repairs are complete and I have a full, quiet day in my studio (and the heater is back on!), I'll post more creative things. Till then --

Monday, January 7, 2019

Winter Creativity

Having Julia home has been lots of fun, as she adds to the general creative air in the home, especially in winter when Adam and I tend to hunker down and let our minds wander along those creative paths. Julia and I worked on gourds together last week. Here's a video of what we did.
Hers is delightful with all its colored windows. Here's how mine turned out:
 There's a little door to put a tea light inside ... or for the fairies to welcome their guests.
Plus two windows with beaded curtains.
 Adam studies and writes a lot in winter. Whereas I churn out a children's book every couple of years in a slapdash sort of way, he's been writing and rewriting his book for about 25 year or so. It's called Tubalcain, and traces the family history of Adam and Eve's children and grandchildren.  My hubby's creative mind at work on the front porch (which gets a bit chilly in January):
 Working on Adam and Eve's family tree:
 He peruses various ancient texts to get cultural detail.
 Right now though, he and Julia are on the back porch. She's using a dremel tool to decorate a piece of bone.
 I ditched many of the books I was struggling to read with interest, and changed to an Elizabeth Goudge book (of course), The Rosemary Tree.
If I didn't already know and trust Goudge as an author, I'd never choose a paperback that looked so much like Grace Livingston Hill. Goudge writes massive tomes and slim children's books, but The Rosemary Tree is in the middle. And it's written so strongly in a 3rd person omniscient style that it nearly jolts me; Goudge leads me by the hand and dips my brain deep into the minds of one of her characters after another. Do you know the pensieve in the Harry Potter books? Imagine dipping your head into one pool after another until you fully understand each person in a story, in a village, and can then tie their lives together in the lightest of plots. I'm halfway through it, and we've covered one ordinary day in a family's life. 

In one paragraph I read last night, she switched seamlessly from the mind of one old lady to her great-nephew's mind. If I hadn't been looking for it, I might not have noticed. All that to say ... it's not heavy on plot, but the characters are very rich and compelling. I appreciate the challenge of reading chapter after chapter with limited dialogue, no 'action,' and subdued plot. I worry about how we're becoming addicted to action in stories. I want a mind that is patient in reading and still relishes the wait for the slow revelation of what the author has to say.

Speaking of story, Julia and I saw Mary Poppins Returns, and we absolutely loved it. I cried when she sang "Where the Lost Things Go." If you haven't seen the movie yet, please do go! I've never seen a new movie so beautifully parallel and embrace its elderly partner. Dick Van Dyke and Angela Landsbury make appearances too! It's delightful and feels like OLD Disney -- sweet and hopeful.

I take Julia back to college later this week. It's bittersweet for me. She is maturing into a different person and I'll miss her a lot. Life is painfully short and we have little time with those we love. My daddy left this life a year ago today, and I know I had not enough time with him. He's who I cried for during that movie, and I haven't cried much over his death -- I believe he's alive in Heaven and we're parted temporarily. I cry for myself, I think, as I traverse the rest of my years without him close. Well, now I've gotten distracted with Mary Poppins youtube videos (terrible confession!) Here's the song that made me cry.