Wednesday, November 6, 2013

I've been seeing a lot of friends on Facebook posting about what they're thankful for during this month of Thanksgiving. It got me thinking about that kind of thing, and about this little black dog that doesn't let me out of her sight.  I've gotten really accustomed to having her with me every place I go.  In the car.  In the kitchen.  In the bathroom (too much information, sorry).  It just feels like something's missing if she isn't right there with me.

Pompeii is the perfect blend of sweetness and naughtiness.  At 9 1/2 years old, she has the energy of a puppy when anyone walks through the door, or when there's something to retrieve.  If you're a guest in our home, she will almost certainly bring your shoe to you, or she'll very gingerly carry it around in her mouth as you settle in.

When she was a puppy, my husband started training her to hunt and retrieve pheasants.  She had a great nose for finding the "birdie" and was really in her element...she was shaping up to be a wonderful hunting dog.  But then due mostly to heredity and eventually injury, she needed to have both knees replaced with new titanium ones.  Her first surgery took place when she was just a year old, and the second one less than a year later.  At that time we found out she also has hip dysplasia and were warned that she would eventually get arthritis in her knees and hips.  Unfortunately, that was the end of her days as a hunting dog, as my husband didn't want to wear her out before her time.  So the training birdies went in a cupboard, replaced with squishy squeaky toys and long naps on the couch.  The training dummies were long forgotten about, until recently - about six years later - when we were in the process of moving.  As soon as we pulled the "birdies" out of the cupboard, she recognized them and was beyond herself with excitement.  Here she is the day we re-discovered the pheasant dummy at the old house.  

We may as well throw out all of her squishy squeaky toys.  They've now been replaced by birdies.

My gentle girl is super sensitive to our voice tone, to the point where her nose is smooshed into the door jam to be let outside, at the first hint of our voices tensing up.  I'm certain she has prevented the onset of some nasty arguments because "we're upsetting the DOG!".  She also gets antsy if we get a little too animated while telling a funny story, so it's not just when someone's arguing.  In our new place she hides behind the rocking chair in the corner of the living room with her ears hanging straight down, eyes pleading to just shut up already!  And bring me my birdie!

After her surgeries, we were certain that now we would always have a special needs dog, that she would be in a lot of pain, unable to walk in her later years, and we were resigned to the fact that we may only have her in our lives for a short time.  But Pompeii had a different idea about how things were going to go.  All these years later, her knees and hips don't affect her enthusiasm to be included in on anything FUN (although she needs a baby aspirin after a lot of activity since she has no stop button)!   She is always in a good mood and ready to do.  Or go.  Or not.  She's up for anything.  Always.  By the way, the three Reese's peanut cups and their foil wrappers she snarfed from the candy bowl on Halloween night have had no affect on her to date.


To my sweet little black're about to get some big ole smooches on your nose, right between those dark brown eyes that follow my every move.  I'm so thankful for you.  


Friday, November 1, 2013

It's been awhile since writing a new blog post and I've missed it.  Guess I was waiting until I felt I had it all together, had all my ducks in a row.  But honestly, I rarely ever feel that way and it usually doesn't last that long when I do!

Turtles in a row.  Near my in-laws' place this summer.

This morning I had my annual health exam and mammogram.  There's something about having that done and over with for another year that sparks a new beginning.  I've never been good at New Year's resolutions, so I'm kind of thinking of today as a fresh start to a new year.  

There has been a lot going on lately that has taken me away from blogging and creating.  The biggest distraction is that we recently moved from our old farmhouse to a newer place about ten minutes away.

Our old farmhouse and garden.
Although I will miss our old place, it was time for a change.  My husband had been looking for a newer home for quite a while but we could never agree on a place that had lots of character like in an older house for me, and an open floor plan and less maintenance for him.  Finally after about four years and many house tours, we found the perfect place for us; the place where the instant we stepped inside, we just "knew"...

The new place.

We are mostly moved in now, except for my new studio space.  It's still a work in progress.  The majority of my art supplies are in boxes in the garage and the rest are in boxes on the floor in the middle of the studio space, awaiting the arrival of the shelving and organizing fairy...well, actually, awaiting me to make a decision about how to organize everything.  

Endless possibilities..

I've been working on projects here and there, moving boxes from one pile to another, in search of supplies.  Although it takes some digging to find the fabric and sewing machine and beads and canvas and paints, it feels really really good to be making things again.  

Recently I made some items to donate to a charity benefit for Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County, near where I used to live in Illinois.  Yesterday there was only time to snap some quick iPhone photos before running off to the Post Office for my self-imposed deadline.  But you get the idea.  

Handmade fleece hat, hand-embellished gloves, up-cycled wool sweater pin,
key necklace, stone and glass bead bracelet.

Handmade fleece hat and ear warmer headband,
up-cycled leather flower pin, leather pendant necklace, pearl dangly earrings.

Handmade fleece hat, up-cycled wool lip balm holder,
up-cycled wool mini purse, mixed-media collage.

Close-up of mixed-media collage.

During my absence from blogging, I had the honor of photographing several special events including two senior photo shoots, a wedding, a 20-year vow renewal ceremony, and a session with a wonderful couple who have been married 14 years but had never had a professional 'couple photo'.

I'm trying to figure out how to accomplish photo editing quickly and without falling asleep at the computer!  I'm still working on the quick part, but the falling asleep part has been mostly solved by doing the majority of editing at Starbucks...which is where I am right now, treating myself after a morning of mammography and girly examinations.  Cheers to a new year!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies.

I don't really like to talk about how busy I've been.  
'Cause we're all busy.
This last month, though, man, I've been hustling.

One old cabin sold.
Two boats sold, one boat bought.
Nine people= < 800 square feet cabin + two person tent.
Three nephews, three nights each for Auntie Camp!
Five stitches= left arm, tree trimming accident.
One overnight trip to Chicago.
Two senior photo shoots.
Two custom mini canvas paintings.
One custom bracelet.
One blood draw with valium.
One blood draw without valium.
One overnight trip to somewhere near Duluth.
One new house purchased.
One old house staged to sell.

I'm not used to this much upheaval, but am holding it together pretty well.
Probably because there's really no time to fret.
Gotta move on...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I ran away from home.

We are having a pretty major project done in the basement of our old farmhouse.  When the workers showed up a few days ago, they said the decibal level on their jackhammers was so high that it could cause damage to the dog's ears.  They suggested we go somewhere else while they worked that day.  So in a flurry, I packed up the dog and the cat, threw some clothes in a bag, gathered up some painting supplies and headed north.

We (dog, cat, me) are hanging out at the cabin for a few days, til the work is done and it's safe for everybody to be back in the house.  

None of us really minds the inconvenience.

Along the road to our cabin is a spot where there is always a message written with sticks.  Sometimes it's wishing so-and-so a happy birthday, sometimes it's a get-well wish or other greeting.  This may be the best message yet...

Last week within a few days of each other, I saw two double rainbows.  It's happened many times now where a rainbows appears at the most auspicious moment.  Always, right when I need some encouragement.  I could just feel it in my soul that something good was about to happen.

Yesterday we accepted an offer on our old cabin, after a year on the market.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Yesterday I picked up our first box of organic vegetables
through the CSA program at a local farm in Athens, WI.

This is our first time participating in a CSA and I'm really excited about it.  There are so SO many reasons to buy good quality, organic, local food.  It took me awhile to come around.  I can remember one of the first times I became aware of where our food comes from; it was several years ago while shopping for treats to put in my nephews' vacation goodie bags for our annual Spring trip.  I noticed that some candy I was about to buy said "Made in CHINA" on the package.  That was enough to make me put back the imported candy and re-think what I was feeding the boys.  It also made realize that it's up to me to decide what's best for me to eat, that just because it's on the shelf doesn't mean it's nutritious...or even safe.  I'm concerned about the amount of young people diagnosed with allergies and noxious diseases.  I just wonder if we really know enough about the chemicals, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors added to food to make it look bigger, brighter and "taste better".  I've often questioned if my own various sensitivities are due in part to these artificial additives in food and even beauty products.  The more I read about the benefits of eating food that hasn't been processed, or is minimally processed, the better I feel about spending the extra money for (and taking the extra time to find) healthier food.  I'm not a jump-on-the-bandwagon type of person, believe me.  This has been a gradual awakening, a realization that I just feel better overall after swapping out the junk and being more aware of what I eat and the products I use.  My old favorite meal of strawberry Twizzlers and Sprite is now reserved just for very special occasions.  And that's ok.

I'd been thinking about joining a local CSA for several years, and the time was right for us to join this summer.  Here's a sample of what was in the first box I picked up yesterday:  lettuce, broccoli, radishes, Chinese cabbage, scallions, purple kohlrabi, bok choy, rhubarb, and a bottle of maple syrup.

I got to wander around the farm where the vegetables are grown.

Some of the vegetables are grown in hoop houses.

It was so steamy in there that my camera lens and glasses fogged up.

The farm also offers fresh eggs.

I made this stir-fry recipe last night:

Today we are celebrating our 10 Year Anniversary!
June 14, 2003

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What a wonderful week and a half it's been.
I spent the first week of their summer break with my three nephews in Illinois...

...and their three kittens!

The cuteness!  Can hardly stand it.

Where my sister and her family live is also my old stomping grounds, before getting married and moving to Wisconsin.  I love going back there.  It's in a warmer growing zone, so even though we have pretty much the same flowers and vegetation, their blooming things are a little bit further along in the season than ours.

Oh forever favorite color.

My oldest nephew playing in his first piano recital.

One evening all three boys had baseball games at the ball field.  As we sat on the sidelines and watched, our friend's daughter came running up and declared to her mother, "I have a question and a statement.  First the question.  Can we have a duck?  And the statement is...I just found eleven duck eggs."  It was so funny the way she said it.  And there they were, right under the wooden baseball field sign that sits atop a pile of field stones where traffic flows in and out of the park, half-hidden under a row of sparse bushes.  Eleven duck eggs and one mama duck guarding the nest.

My heart is full.