Tuesday, May 26, 2020


There are times in life when we flourish, and times when we only cope. I'm amazed at some friends who are seeming to flourish during this pandemic, which is wonderful! More and more, I am just coping. I don't think it's the virus and all its daily terrors that are getting to me so much. It's Adam's complicated, baffling, exhausting array of illnesses he's had since mid-March. We are both worn out.

So tomorrow morning I am going to Ocracoke to visit a friend for a few days of rest. I intend to do nothing, until I want to do something, and then I'll only do what I want ... a sure recipe for discontentment, haha! We will have fun, and I plan to eat from the Mexican food truck nearby. I want to smell sea air and walk along the sandy alleys on the island near the tiny shops. Otherwise, I don't much care what we do.

I went shopping at the local thrift store yesterday, hooray! Here are a few clothes I found to take to Ocracoke:
 A linen skirt and thin, drapey blouse above, both of which I had to mend a bit ... and below, my favorite shirt.

I also found toys for grandchildren to play with, when they come to Nana's house. Want to see?
 a castle (needed some repair)
 a barn
 beach toys
a bulldozer

I'll take a couple of books and my watercolors to the beach, just in case I want them. I still haven't found a book that's grabbed my interest, so I've returned to old, faithful Mr. Trollope.

 This one below is more of a booklet.
I sewed a little pouch for my paint brushes. Art cases are rather expensive. This one is a temporary fix.
 Slip your brushes in those slots, plus anything larger in the two end slots, and then roll it up.
 I had this very cute red fabric, but alas! it had drops of superglue dotted all over it :(  I cut the girls out of the fabric, and appliqued them onto my pouch. I think she's so cute.
 I ended up painting four versions of the orange tulips. This last one was on 9"x12" Arches paper, very nice, rather expensive paper. 
 If you are not bored of painting quite yet, here is a series of goose/goslings I did, following a lovely video by a painter on facebook.
First one. I didn't like the color of the goose.
 So I gave her a brown body.
 The water is hard to get right. A third attempt:
 Are you still reading? Bless you! 
What's Adam doing, on days when his mouth isn't killing him with sores? He's at his computer, starting up a new youtube endeavor! He's making tutorial videos for people around the world who play a game called "Crusader Kings." The existing videos are poor quality, but millions of people play this challenging game. He's been a good game-player for most of his life. He got himself a new "gamer" chair that is more comfortable than the wooden dining room chair he was using:
 And, the last of the peas. The cool spring garden is coming to an end.
You're lovely to bear with me. I may post on Ocracoke. I'll certainly take pictures and post afterward. Time to rest my nerves. What is it that Mr. Bennett says to Mrs. Bennett ... that her nerves have been his constant companions these many years? I feel the same about my nerves!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Watercolor Take-Over

I find myself indifferent to soap-making now, lotion-making, knitting and crochet. Weaving too, and spinning ... even though they were both so cool. Not that I won't do any of that again. But they all have been driven out of my daily life by ... watercolor painting. And because I'm now on the dark end of my 50s, I'm gonna allow myself to do what I enjoy. That's a luxury, I know. I am blessed to be able to make that choice.

I painted a commission for a lady in South Dakota who I met on facebook. 

She asked for poppies. It was fun to communicate with her and paint her exactly what she wanted. Then today I went to New Bern and promptly spent half of that commission! A few new art supplies:
a micron .005 pen, olive green Grumbacher paint, four watercolor pencils that I can't wait to try out, and a dagger brush. Dagger brushes are hard to find. I want a much larger one. I'll have to get that online.

And I finally got two of my watercolors made into note cards. At last!
This is my mother's favorite card. I'll send her a pack for her belated birthday.

 I love these roses:
 The colors are quite vibrant, even darker than the original. The printer did a good job.
 I'll sell them in packs of however many are wanted, usually 5 or 10 in a pack. The cards are $2 each (with envelope, of course). Then I can mix-and-match the packs. I can't wait to have a lot of cards to pick from!
 On the back:

I will do more, but it's kind of expensive to have them made. However, friends have been asking.

I painted this little piece yesterday, and I do believe it is my very favorite watercolor I've done yet. I don't know why. I just love the looseness of the style, the orange/green scheme, and the pen work (why I got a new micron pen). 
This photo of it is too dark. 
Then I did one in a blue jar:
But I like the first one better.
Do you see what I mean about how watercolor has taken over? I'm not interested in doing much else, with my creative time. 
Let's end with doggo photos :)
 Trixie ... we call her Trickers ... is so dainty.
And Beau is so nervous!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Wise Words from a Saint and Sister

My beautiful elderberry
 I ordered this used book online.
 Do you know Helen Roseveare? She was a medical missionary in Africa in the middle of the 20th Century. She knew struggle, she knew sin, and she knew suffering. She also made it her life's goal to know God. I'm still pondering that balance in life -- the importance of knowing God, and the importance of being known by God.

Here's a quote from Roseveare in her introduction to the book that I read over and over, finding it so wise, so helpful. It's long. I will pare it down to make it more succinct:

"My life ... has been for me a journey toward one definite and glorious goal, 'that I may know Him.' I have often felt that my life was akin to mountaineering, with a clear goal to reach the highest peak .... I found frequently that I climbed in glorious sunshine ... my face set determinedly for the nearest peak .... I revelled in the sense of achievement and victory and in the glorious view .... Then, slowly, my imagination would be caught by the next peak ... and eventually the resolve would form to set off upwards again.
"Here I made a mistake, many times .... As I went down from the present peak into the valley between the mountains, I was often shadowed by the very peak I had been enjoying .... This often led to despair .... I see now that I was wrong in this 'feeling.' The going down was merely an initial moving forward towards the next higher ground, never a going back to base level. The shadow was only relative after the brightness of the sun; the valley could provide rest for working out the experiences previously learnt, a time for refreshment before the next hard climb."

And here's the part that grabbed me:
"Had I understood this meaning of the sunshine and shadow in my life rather than interpreting my experiences along life's way as 'up' and 'down,' I might have saved myself many deep heartaches" (p. 8)

Are you ever puzzled as you try to interpret the events of your life, especially as you get older and it becomes apparent that most of your life is done, and there's little time to somehow "fix" the past or even see it in an improved context? I do, all the time. I find Roseveare's words so comforting as I remember (or am living in) those shadowed, deep valleys where perspective is limited. I usually close my eyes, figuratively speaking, and just survive. Grit my teeth and wait on the Lord. Look at Roseveare's counsel: those dark, low valleys are a time for rest, reflection, refreshment. And if they seem dark, perhaps it's only in contrast to the brightness of the breath-taking mountain peaks we teeter on for five minutes before each descent.

I've barely begun her thin autobiography, but I think it will be rich with wisdom like this.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Every Bloomin' Day!

 Are we still plugging along, my friends? Yes, we are. I've been painting a bit because folks have been ordering my cards, and I've been shipping them away. Here are a few favorites from last week.
 The lavender (above) is a fuzzy photo. I really like this type of painting (below):
 At last, I am biting the bullet and getting some of my watercolors made into packages of assorted cards. I'm in the process of working on that with the printers in New Bern.

I don't post about my chickens much anymore, but they are still a part of my daily life, and I enjoy them. Below are Clementine the Mean, Sheena the Assertive, and Sylvie the Loud Mouth.

 I think those two hens between them could run the world.

I did finish Adam's vest at last. Many adjustments need to be made in the next version, but he's enjoying this one. I bought lots of these buttons at the thrift store months ago. I knew they'd come in handy.
 I bought this stunning hanging basket at the nursery recently, among other plants that were a splurge and I probably should NOT have bought them ... but I couldn't resist. Isn't she beautiful? I sit on the back deck (which is now cleared of potting paraphernalia) and gaze at her.
 Adam and I were doing stuff at the church and checking in on a couple of folks this past week. We chatted at them outside in their yards, wearing our masks. We stopped at the local grocery store, the Piggly Wiggly. (Except this is a little store, not nearly so big as the Big Pig. So everybody calls it the Piglet.) We got two lunches to go, parked in front of the wide river, and had a little car date.
 Other people were there doing the same. We saw friends. A dog begged from car to car. People adjust and find new ways to enjoy life, even in a pandemic.

Adam is not well yet. His Mono still makes him tired. His eyes are much better but not quite well yet. But now he has thrush in his mouth -- yeast infection. It is painful and uncomfortable. It hurts to talk, to swallow, even to chew. I made nice, soft pancakes this past week for him. These are our strawberries from the garden.
 My dear mother-in-law sent me a wonderful "happy"! Now I can paint directly on watercolor cards, instead of gluing the watercolor paper onto separate cards. This is nice paper!
 My herb bed looks like a magical sea of airy cilantro blooms. I want to bury my face in it and breathe in.

 That wasn't much to tell! Maybe because we are kind of meandering through life right now as many people are. When all our tomorrows look quite unpredictable  and uncertain, it's sometimes easiest to turn to the points of beauty around us for calm and comfort. Blooms do that for me. I hope you are finding peace in your disrupted days. 

"Let not your hearts be troubled."
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on Thee."
"Lo, I will be with you."
"I will not leave your nor forsake you."
In the end, regardless of how we may all disagree about it, we will all pass through these Coronavirus days together, and emerge on the other side together.  And history will decide the details. We will remember how we felt, how we treated each other. Especially this year, I want to remember to stop and smell the flowers.

Friday, May 1, 2020

At Last ... I Finish Something

I finished a book! Hooray! 
I have a stack of about 10 unfinished books.
 I've watched three film versions of Rebecca, but none of them compare to the book. Du Maurier's use of the unreliable narrator is superb. What a tool to use in a suspense novel! 

I also finished a sewing project ... kind of. It needs buttons and button holes for sure. This is the Vest Mock-Up:
It could take me years to put those buttons/holes on.
 Both fabrics were junky pieces in my stash from the thrift store. I used them for their weight -- heavy, sturdy fabric for the front, thin, silky fabric for the lining. The welt pockets were most difficult.

 I learned much in this first trial run. I'll make some changes to the pattern in my next attempt.

Today I painted something to replace a sunflowers painting I did last year that I tired of. It was hanging in the guest room. It's 22" x 15".
I sketched in the white picket fence. Then I started with the roses.
 I added some shading on the fence and the green background around the roses.
 More shading, more leaves, and some blue sky.
 You probably can't see any difference between the above photo and the one below, but I felt it needed something ... more depth. So I added thin pen in many of the roses and darkened their centers. Just little changes.
When is a painting finished? When you put it in a frame and it's too much trouble to take back out.
 See the pen?

Recently I returned to a simple, lovely piece of music, "Clair de Lune," part of a suite by Debussy that I memorized and performed in college. "Clair de Lune" was the easy, throw-away piece. Not anymore! I've lost much skill, but I still want to play. It's peaceful.
This piano piece needs SO much work.
 Tonight Adam made just fried broccoli and cheese sauce for supper. It's been a long day, and we're both spent. It was perfection! He mastered this dish after working at a restaurant in his 20s where it was served. The batter is light and perfectly crispy.
That's about it, folks. I haven't been to the garden in two days. The strawberries are probably screaming to be picked. Instead, today I went to a coffee shop with a friend. We sat at a picnic table in a park and enjoyed our coffee and pastries, and talked about how much we miss simply meeting with friends and doing things together away from home. We're ready for life to come back to normal. Sadly ... the Covid-19 virus is not ready yet! It's more efficient at contagion than we are at containing it. We can wish all we want, but it has the upperhand, medically speaking. Still, I think we'll be going out and shopping and visiting again soon. Our goal in isolating was to preserve our healthcare system, and we have accomplished that, correct? So now it is time to roll our sleevies up, face the hard fact of the virus, protect our at-risk people, and get back to living as safely as we can. I'm so proud of the medical folks who are working tirelessly for better treatments and a vaccine! Let's keep our chins up!