Tag Archives: Life On The Farm

In which there is a Most Unusual Discovery

  

Here’s another Flea Market Find–a small rectangular footstool or bench with a paper rush seat. It looked fairly old and well worn when I found it. I rescued this little gem for practically NOTHING at the sale. It will be just the right thing to use once I repair the torn and sagging seat.

And so, I begin to cut away the old worn-out pieces of paper fiber. A piece here, a piece there; I remove the old dusty newspaper the furniture maker used to shape and support the inside of the seat. The pieces are packed in there pretty tight and hard to get to. As I work my way through and the pieces begin to grow larger, I find a section of newspaper that doesn’t turn to dust in my hand.

  

The print may be really small to read and hard to see, but here is a section of The Atlanta Journal, which “Covers Dixie Like The Dew” in Atlanta Georgia, even as far back as June 22, 1941. That’s the date on this piece of paper anyway.

There were other pieces of paper I found with dates at about the same time advertising fabric, cars, clothing, tools, and appliances at 1941 prices. The social section I found had a few wedding announcements with pictures as well as news articles of the day. My favorite was the miscellaneous section in which a reader could purchase a fine double door, all porcelain refrigerator in A1 condition for the price of $79.50, an extra large crocheted bedspread with a daisy pattern, used building materials, a stationary bike, a Hoover vacuum cleaner and a Luger pistol. If I was looking for a place to sleep, I could call the six digit telephone number and find a room with a meal for about the same price I’d pay for a specialty coffee today.

And then I did the math. I’ll estimate that it was at LEAST seventy-plus years ago when this little bench was restored or built. Creative possibilities for story ideas and My, oh….MY….!

I’m saving most of the paper scraps to look through and glean some story ideas from, because this was just like finding a little piece of history in a most unexpected place. As I work on repairing the seat of the bench, I’ll select some headlines of my own from a stack of newspapers in my recycling bin and pack those into the padding for the seat as well.

Maybe seventy plus years from now, if someone should discover this little bench at a yard sale or flea market find, they will have a Most Creative Experience, too!

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The Drawing Board

The weather out here on the farm has been challenging, to say the least. First there was freezing rain. Then ice. We had snow a few days later. Wonderful, white, fluffy snow which was fun to explore and beautiful to see for a short time.

Since my main studio space is out in the barn, I really couldn’t see spending long amounts of creative work time out there–I mean, seriously? It is COLD out there! I moved into the house in an enclosed office space which used to be a garage. It was a little bit warmer in that room as long as I turned on the electric heater and allowed it to warm up for an hour or so before I began to work. That was fine until the temps dropped REALLY low. Dressed in layers and covered in a blanket worked for a while, but ….Okay, so the office space isn’t as well insulated as it needs to be.

Working on sketches for a new project!

Working on sketches for a new project!

I moved my workspace again. This time, my laptop is on a rolling tray and attached to a digital drawing tablet. I will use this time to learn something new. I’ve been encouraged by other Illustrator Friends (hey, you know who you are) to try creating artworks digitally so I’m giving it my best shot. I’m making progress, I think. And I have created a few images that I’m excited about. Slowly–I’m taking “baby steps”– and I learn a little something new every day. Figuratively speaking, I’m probably one of the few people I know who can go from the twenty-first century back to the nineteenth century just by walking out of my house, through my back yard and out to the barn.

Is it a problem to like to do a great many creative things? Not for me. I make stories and poems. I spin yarn, weave, knit and crochet. I like to draw, paint and make collages from recycled papers. Photography is fun too. I can’t choose just ONE thing to do–and not at all sorry; I want to do it all! I call it “research” and move on. What a great opportunity to have those experience(s) which I KNOW will transfer into my writing and illustrating.

I’m happy creating. I hope you are, too!

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Home For The Holidays

Home For The Holidays! Oh what fun it was to create a Gingerbread Barn instead!


Oh what fun it was to create
a Gingerbread Barn instead!

The holidays were a mixture of emotions for me, and I would like to propose a toast to the many people who have creatively inspired and encouraged me throughout my creative journey thus far.

Here’s to you! (And thanks, by the way, for your patience and understanding.)

Feeling philosophical?

Feeling philosophical?

Let’s consider these glasses for a brief moment. Half full? Half empty? What do you think?

The smaller glass was once a container for jelly. One of my grandmothers would fix my sandwich and then let me drink milk from a glass such as this when I was a child. I still love PBJ sandwiches and remember the younger me who used all of this grandmother’s umbrellas and a large cardboard box on rainy days for the most perfect of creative hideaways.

The other glass is a wine/water glass from the creative me of today. If you look closely, you’ll see that my fingerprints are on that glass. All. Over. It. I could’ve wiped them off, but….I hope to leave my creative mark on everything I touch.

I think both of these glasses represent what I will strive for in this creative journey of 2015. I have a few ideas about how that can happen. By the way, the amount of water in each glass is the same, so perhaps the gift of Point of View and Perspective will be the creative goal.

Happy Creating!

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Not too scary, anyway…

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We DID have at least one visitor to the garden..I can tell by a track left in the ground after the rain. I’m guessing it was a deer and perhaps it didn’t want to eat these greens, because they remained mostly untouched. Although it is past the end of the summer growing season, there are still a few reminders of warmer weather and summer veggies. This is a flower from an okra plant.

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I’ll gather firewood today. The weather reports a warning of colder conditions coming, and I can think of nothing better to do today than to sit by a cozy fire with a warm beverage, writing or drawing supplies close by, and to let my creative imagination SOAR!

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I wonder….if that little scarecrow DID scare something out of the garden or if it just found a warmer place to be?

Happy creating!

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Surprise, surprise!

Morning, Glory!

Morning, Glory!

There is something wonderful growing out in the experimental garden. Look! See for yourself!

Wire cages were carefully placed there in the early spring to protect my young greens from visiting rabbits. Tall wire supports were put beside those to support Cherokee Purple and heirloom tomatoes. Two varieties of eggplant and some herbs joined in this space, as did a colorful glass bottle tree for luck. Did I have a real PLAN for this area? Well, no. That was part of the fun and wild abandon with which I approached this area of my garden. I dug the holes for planting with the end of my walking stick–just to see what would happen. I covered the holes by scraping the dirt over the seeds with the toe of my boot. I had water containers available and hauled rainwater from the barrels when it got hot this summer. Sometimes. Admittedly, I wasn’t expecting much and purposely planted the remainder of those seeds in another location, where the trellises were intentionally built for the purpose of supporting vertical growth.

When that part of the garden had produced most of its bounty, and I got busy with other tasks, I didn’t visit that particular area as much as when it needed regular attention. Another part of the fun and challenge of the experimental garden was that I tried to embrace the method of weedless gardening, which works really well when you follow the theories and application. I did most of what I had read about, but still, felt guilty at not being there for a while.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered this wonderful show of flowers which have almost entirely covered the garden area. I’ll take it as a sign that nature truly does understand the characteristics of the creative spirit, which can grow and provide such peace and understanding when we most need it and least expect it. I’m planting seeds now for creative growth, and I’m hopeful the results will be just as amazing.

Flowers form over the garden supports.

Flowers form over the garden supports.

(I wonder…if I build my garden supports really tall, could I sit in there under the flowers next year?)

Happy creating!

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The Time-In-Between

Summer has been busy out here on the farm…the garden has provided us with wonderful vegetables.
I gathered.
I cooked.
I ate.
I worked.
Summer’s not quite over yet, because there are still a few straggling vegetables which will be with us, I hope, until the first frost. But I can feel a slight change in the air. The leaves haven’t started to change colors yet, but the light begins to look different all during the day. I think about Claude Monet’s images of haystacks and the recollections of colors, forms and feelings always makes me smile.

This is the Time-In-Between. The time for me when seasons overlap. When there are cool mornings mixed with still warm, sunny days. When the wind can stand still and be so hot outside, it takes your breath away. Or when the breeze coming through the pasture swooshes through the trees and the leaves begin to scatter across the ground.

The boys at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The boys at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I’ve had a vendor booth at our local farmer’s market, demonstrating spinning and talking about the alpaca and their fiber for much of the summer. My table is covered with handspun yarns, knitted, crocheted or handwoven items made from handspun alpaca yarns. What? Sock hats and scarves in the summertime?

A handwoven scarf in progress on the loom.

A handwoven scarf in progress on the loom.

And yes, some days it’s really warm outside and I continue to work with the fiber. On these Time-In-Between days, I’m confident cooler weather will still be coming.

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Pstuff

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I love to learn a great many things.

I especially enjoy research, too!

Dr. Howard Gardner gives at least eight–maybe more–different areas in the theory of Multiple Intelligences: Visual/Spatial, Bodily/Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Linguistic, Logical/Mathematical and Naturalistic Intelligences. (Admittedly, my stronger areas are in Naturalistic, Visual and Musical.)

I’m delighted to be able to attend a music class very soon at the John C. Campbell Folk School and learn more about how to play the bowed psaltery!

The bowed psaltery is a musical instrument which is at least 2000 years old and is mentioned in the Bible. (The instrument pictured here is only five or six years old.) It is played by holding the wide end in the crook of one arm with the pointed end resting in the same hand. The bow is held in the other hand and passes across each string; one string equals one note. Yes, it psounds different too. When the bow glides across the silver strings, it gives me an emotional feeling that is both haunting and inspirational at the same time.

The garden will be growing and I will be, too.

Happy Creating!

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The Forager

Are you ready for an adventure?

There are so many places to go in my Big Backyard!

We have Big Garden, Little Garden, Experimental Garden. Big Pond, Little River and The Tree House. The Wooded Path. The Cabin. The Flat Spot. The Waterfall. Windy Ridge. River Path.

Friends with young children come for a visit; I provide maps and walkie-talkies when the older children want to go exploring on their own.

Summer snack!

Summer snack!

The first stop in today’s backyard adventure will find me looking for a snack, which will be just past these zinnias in the experimental garden. Look for those small, orange tomatoes through the green leaves. Do you see them? They are oh-so-juicy and fun to eat, straight from the vine. I rinse one off and pop it in my mouth. Yum! I’ll have a couple more before I go. (I call this my “experimental garden” because I tried starting a few new plants from seed. Oh, but that’s another story.)

Behind the Red Barn is the Big Garden, and beside that is a wild and wonderful JUNGLE of blackberries. I LOVE blackberries!

Blackberry jungle!

Blackberry jungle!

I cut the top out of a gallon milk jug and leave the handle on the jug. When I enter the world of blackberries, I’ll carry the plastic container in one hand and have a long-handled shovel in the other.

Why?

Well, the thicket in this blackberry jungle is so thick, I just want to have something with me to help me push my way through. I also need a way to insure that I can make enough NOISE while I’m in the thicket to encourage any other creatures living in there to move away from where I am to make room for me, too. Thump, thump, thump on the ground with the pointed part of the shovel before I put my foot down into a new spot. Then I listen. No sounds of other movement? Then I thump the shovel once again and move forward.

Oh, so juicy, these berries!

Oh, so juicy, these berries!

Mid-July heat; I’m wearing a long sleeved shirt, long pants and SOCKS. Dodged a few bees today, but look what I found! I’ll fill my container and feast on the wonderful treats of summertime.

Ahh….happy creating to you today, too!

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Practical Application(s)

“It is good to love many things, for therein lies strength. Whoever loves much can accomplish much, and what is done with love is well done.” (Vincent Van Gogh)

All right, I’ll admit it….I love to do a great many things. Every once in a while, creative distractions lead to something else. Which leads to something else. And then to something else. If I’m not careful, I get scattered in SO many directions, I face the possibility that nothing could get accomplished!

I’ve been like this for as long as I remember. Yes, I’ve done research over the years into why this happens and when I discovered it was one of the natural characteristics of Creative People, I breathed a sigh of relief. Ah, that explains it, I thought. There are others who do that, too.

Straight Backed Chair

Straight Backed Chair


The practical applications for all this is that I can do a lot of useful things. In my quest to learn about Homesteading and Appalachian homecrafts, I’ve taught myself how to repair chairs. I have a fondness for straight backed chairs. (I have no idea why this is so.) On junkets to flea markets or antique shops, I’m drawn to them like a magnet. My latest project has been to repair the bottoms of a variety of chairs using a paper rush as well as an older handmade footstool using seagrass for the seat. When I got the footstool twenty-something years ago, it was woven with cornhusks which had been twisted and woven for the seat. I talked with the craftsman about his work and he shared a few tips.
Footstool with seagrass seat

Footstool with seagrass seat

It’s the end of May now and garden is mostly planted, except for a few things I wanted to start by seed. I’ll transplant those when they get a bit larger, too.
I classify all of this as “research” and move on. I know it will give authenticity to my characters as I work on (a variety of) writing projects.

Yes, I do. Thanks!

Yes, I do. Thanks!

Happy Creating!

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Making Music

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I’ve heard it said that creativity is not a hobby–it is a Way Of Life.

So I suppose it is no surprise that this new addition to the collection of restoration projects has found me. Here’s a Hawaiian ukelele, passed along from some of my husband’s cousins. Wooden tuning pegs. The only remaining string, IS string. Our best guess puts it at more than forty plus years old, and the maker’s label inside is giving me a few clues. Remember–I DO love a good mystery and research. (Smile)

I’ll keep you posted on my progress. When I replace the strings, I’ll most likely want to learn how to play the thing.

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