Saturday, June 22, 2019

Felties are Taking Over My World!

Things are nice in my little corner of the world, now that I'm feeling a little better.

Fairy fungi is probably the only mold that isn't in my basement, so I need to make my own!

But the cat is happy...

...and so is the pup.

The bird, meanwhile, is relieved that felted critters can't be after him! The red, red robin goes bob-bob-bobbin along!

And the wise old owls go "Who?"

At the Feltie Farmyard, the sheep are full and happy!

The bunnies are dancing with joy that it's spring...and it has finally stopped raining, at least for a day or two!

...and some even dress for the occasion!

So whether you are puttering in your cozy house...

...looking out at a barren forest...

...or a lovely day on the lake...

...of just window gazing...

...I hope you have a good time of it. And again, thanks for all your kind comments. I'm on the upswing now and all that good energy from you helped, I know.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Really, Really, Really Behind.

Needless to say the past week or so has been pretty grim, as you probably know from THIS post.

This is the pile of trash from the first clean-out. Those big bags were stuffed down as far as they could go and the total of black bags was 30. Yup. Another 14 to Goodwill. And more to come.

Which is my lame excuse if I don't reply personally to your wonderful and supportive comments for a bit. (Especially all the nice art comments from HERE. Wow, you made me smile.) I am overwhelmed right now so for the time being I'm just going to do a big group thank you and if anyone asked something specific, I'll be with you as soon as I can. The same with visiting. I'm getting close to caught up but you all write faster than I can read these days!

It's not just the clean-up. It's the being sick with it. For six days now, I have been dealing with temps varying from 99.5 (not bad, except my normal is 97.4!) to 102.8. Every single day. And more coughing and such. Oh, and the chills. And the sweats. And fatigue. I went to the doc on Monday and they did chest Xrays and blood work. I have a bacterial infection along with the start of something called Community Acquired Pneumonia. Very bad for my complicated lung history.

I am more than a little freaked. My friend Jan came by today and brought these flowers. After she left I cried and cried because her world isn't easy these days with an ill cat. It meant more than I can say.

And what's not to love about pink flowers when you are a bit down an out?

It's still up in the air as to whether or not the mold had an impact on either. Needless to say I'm taking a break before I go down there again for any length of time. (I don't have the energy, for one thing.)

Next on the agenda, calling reputable restoration companies. Not how I planned on spending my June! I think Lizzie is getting spoiled with having her litterbox in the family room. I, on the other hand, am getting really tired of seeing it there!

Whining over! Because despite the fever (we practiced good hygiene with the babies, although I'm not sure Rick had it as well with me next to him in bed) we had a nice time over Father's Day weekend babysitting the Grandlittles.

I wish I had taken photos while we were at the swings because there were so many smiles and great colors -- but we were having too much fun! Later in the evening after mom and dad went to dinner, the boys got a little concert.

And both boys were curious about the guitar!

Nothing can be so gross or so much fun as watching a hungry baby eat!

Meanwhile, while we had dinner, we turned on Carson's favorite movie, "Cars." He stood in this position for at least 10 or 15 minutes without moving.

Then he got into this position.

All in all, good times!

I leave you with two of my favorite Father's Day pics -- brothers who get on...

...and a Grandpa who loves them more than anything!

I'm slow visiting, but don't disappear! I'll be catching up full throttle as soon as I can!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Art -- They Say It Makes You Mentally Healthy!

Every now and then when I get on a watercolor spree (or, for that matter, many crafty sprees), someone (usually Rick) might be likely to say, "But what are you going to do with it?" And I might answer, "Maybe sell it if someone wants it, or frame it, or photograph it for a card or just put it in my watercolor binder." When it's a commission, I'm lucky because I know where it's going! (I'm also very frantic -- especially if it's an animal -- because I know I can never bill for all the time involved to get it right.)

But the real question I ask myself is "why do it in the first place?"

It's not like I'm going to make a living off of it. It's more like I can't not do it.

And practice makes things better. I like seeing that improvement. It shows that even though I'm not working outside the home I can do something disciplined and strive to do it better than the time before -- and succeed. And sometimes you go too far. This is the initial pencil sketch of an iris from a magazine. I liked it!

This is the sketch when I added in some color pencil. I don't like it nearly as well as the black and white.


Not everything works. And even the ones that work could probably be better. More than once I've finished a painting and thought, "That's not quite right, but I can't do anymore on this one." Because sometimes you just have to stop. I'm not at all satisfied with the one below. But it just means I have to keep trying.

A FB friend of mine, Jessie Rae, nailed it well in a post she recently had: 

Everyone has a lot of bad art inside them. Trite poems, bad paintings, lousy sewing projects that don't turn out, sweaters that flatter no one, or for less definitively creative people maybe it's picking the wrong curtains, buying an ugly jacket or whatever other failed attempt at self expression you've chosen.

She goes on to say that still -- it's important to get that bad art out of you.

Best to get it over with. It's just like popping a zit. Get it out before it festers. It's only a failure if you don't learn from it.  Do the bad art. Learn the lessons it has to teach you and then put it behind you.

She's right -- it can apply to any art or craft, your kitchen experiments, the garden, you name it. I know I had plenty of sweaters I knit that weren't quite right. They were close (some of them). But they were far from perfect or even good. They were good enough. This one, "Millie," came pretty close after a couple of times. But I still wish it was better.

I hate the term "good enough." But sometimes you need to know when to quit -- and then take what you learned and do it better. Sometimes that means doing it over and over again.

None of these paintings of a scene from Giverny are quite right. I did these in 2017. The photo I worked with is on the right. I should try again.

There's another reason why making art is good for you -- and it doesn't matter if it's the "bad art" or you are far more accomplished. An article in outlined a recent study that explains that even if you aren't good at art, doing it increases one's mental health.  How? The act of creating art reduces cortisol levels which are a factor controlling stress.

OK, sometimes when something's not working out when I paint, I get a little stressed. But overall, I get absorbed. I don't eat or drink or look at the time. It's a different mind state, as real to me as Rick's distance cycling is to him.

 Another study done at Drexel University indicates that 45 minutes of art a day can boost your confidence level. I'm not sure I've personally experienced that -- especially when something doesn't turn out -- but the results indicated an increase in feelings of self-efficacy and the ability to achieve goals and overcome obstacles. On the other hand, maybe it does. I'm not afraid to paint animals or pets anymore. I used to be -- and it's so hard to catch the "soul" of the animal. But I'm more confident I can do it now than a year or two or three ago.

And I really do love trying to get the animal just right!

Numerous studies have shown positive benefits to the art of creation. And while these are approaching what we traditionally think of as art, I say it applies to any arts -- stitching, cooking, gardening, writing. It is the creating that matters, not the media.

So, here's to doing your thing -- whatever it may be. And doing it with joy and as much skill as you have with the intent to just do and be done or to keep on.

Because sometimes, you hit it right. And then the elation is so big, you can't help but smile.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Rising Waters

"Into each life some rain must fall." So goes the old adage. It never said "Into each basement some rain must fall." Probably because not everyone has a basement. But I do. And fall it did. Like a waterfall.

It came up through the floor (at a point I've known needed repair and I just hadn't done it). And, it came in through the windows, dribbling down the wall in some cases. In the worst, it was gushing as loud as a waterfall (not exaggerating -- it woke me up).

After plugging as much as I could with towels to at least slow it, I tried to start cleaning it up. I tried two shop vacs and neither could handle it. Finally the best method was dumping buckets of water into the utility sink until the floor drain could finally handle it and it began to go down. I'll be very good at bailing boats, should the occasion arrive.

And don't ask me how this happened but at one point I saw a small frog or toad, which I captured and released outside.

That was Tuesday. It's still damp in parts and smells grim but at least I can work on the clean up -- and I have been for the past few days. I am far from done -- so far, 15 trash bags are in my bin and the car is packed to the gills with things for charity that aren't damaged or smell. And there is so much more to come.

I look at every weather report with trepidation. In this, our year of rain, there is plenty to worry about but no way any of the repairs can be done right now. There are many (including several of my neighbors) who have it much worse -- they had carpeted, living basements. Mine is just storage. I lose "stuff."  They not only lose stuff but have significant renovation work that must be done.

 So back to the basement I go once I get my morning brain working. As soon as I can get things away from the walls and purged as much as possible, then I can call the de-molding people to come do their thing. It will be a dent in the England 2020 fund, but hey, it could have been so much worse. Lots of things that mattered were in plastic bins and to be honest, it forced a job that has been moved from one to-do list to another for far too long.

There have been a few good things this week, though. Rick got on a bike on the road this week. Well, riding around the neighborhood and then he realized he was doing it earlier than he should be so that might be on hold again, but he felt glad to be back on two wheels, even if the going will be uphill for awhile.

My friend Jane, whom I hadn't seen in several years, came through town with another we'd been longing to meet -- Mike, who was a great support to Rick after the accident, even though they'd never met. We enjoyed some wonderful conversations during their visit and a great lunch, too!

(This is my soup sampler -- nettle soup, seafood chowder, French onion and Peppedew Tomato. All excellent!)

Jane brought a me wonderful vintage cookbook (1941) by Ruth Wakefield, who invented the Toll House cookie. In addition to tons of recipes it has hints on stain removal and first aid!

For those of us who appreciate cookbooks as historical records of food during various periods, it offers a wealth of tidbits about cooking, serving and entertaining in another not too distant time.

I hate to think I'll ever be using the first aid advice from the 1940s, but some stuff is timeless!

Five years ago this week on a day that looked like rain but ended up being gorgeous, these two were married!

In the time since, there have been new jobs, an MBA program and best of all, two Baby Grands we adore to the max! And of course, having Molly in our family is four star! Kevin couldn't have made a better choice!

This weekend we'll head to Detroit area and for a bit of Grandlittle time while they go celebrate and the next day celebrate Father's Day. And on that note, I wish those of you with Dads around, a wonderful holiday. And for those of you like me who have made that final farewell to Dad, sweet memories.

I miss you, Dad. Every day.

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