Category Archives: Creative Living

Winterwriting

Egarden looks quiet and peaceful, doesn’t it?

Or does it appear to be a random collection of sticks and stems, weedy looking patches of undergrowth and dreary, dead leaves?

I think it depends on what you might be looking for in comparison to what might be there.  You might wonder, but if it doesn’t show itself right away, you could worry that it might be long gone. Wait.  And then, wait some more. It’s there.

Since some things won’t be growing in these cooler winter months, I decided to try my hand at sprouting a plant from an avocado seed.  That’s not as easy as it sounds, because when I plant something out in eGarden during the summer months, I am able to measure the growth I see fairly soon.

As I read information about sprouting a plant from an avocado seed, the chances of successful germination might make even the most avid gardener shudder–I mean, seriously? It could take a long time for that seed to germinate, if it did so at all, and even then, there would be no guarantee that there would be anything to harvest.  Why. Even. Try. Right? Who has that kind of time to spend on something that’s not a “sure fire thing?”

I do. I did.  Because I’m curious about a great many things. I have a desire to try things new, and old, despite what my Mama would’ve called a “stubborn streak” that most likely encircles my entire body by now. I rather think of it as persistence.

And so I began. I decided to try three plants, rationalizing that surely at least ONE of them would do SOMEthing. The first one (A1) appeared to come forth rather quickly and I’m happy to report that it is now working toward its’ own personal growth spurt and is over two feet tall. (Not pictured here.)

But these other two have been in my window for a very long time. There was about a two month wait between the sprouting of Plant One (A1) and the small plant you see here (A2) and still, from the other (A3) there was nothing for a very long time.

Until today.  If you look very closely, you will see the beginnings of roots forming underneath the seed. Soon there will be a growth that will sprout from the top of the seed itself and a stem will begin to form. Then it will become what it is meant to be. It takes time.

I share all that to say this: I know the writing/artistic projects that I am working on will come forth and grow into something WHEN IT IS THEIR TIME, and until then, I continue to work at something I love, nurture and develop my own creative spirit, and encourage other creatives I know. It is Time Well Spent.

Happy Creating to you, today and every day.

 

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Simple Gifts

“Simple Gifts” is a Shaker song written and composed by Elder Joseph Brackett in 1848. The song has been adapted and rearranged many times by musicians since then.  I find it wonderfully haunting and lyrical, and felt as though I wanted to learn to play it on my dulcimer.  My version is played “by ear” and adapted to my own style of strumming.  Here are the lyrics (to verse one):

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free

‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,

And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,

To bow and to bend we shan’t be ashamed,

To turn, turn will be our delight,

Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Research shows me that the references to “turning” in the last lines are identified as dance motions for traditional participants, and by the time the music has ended, everyone would’ve ended up back in the place they once started. There are other verses, too.  You might want to check out this lovely song on your own.

Farmer’s Market Season is over for the year, so I’m able to get a lot of work done around the house.  I spent time in Egarden this past weekend, cleaning out overgrown weeds and saving flower heads for seeds for next year. And a recent wind storm gave me a BUNCH of sticks in the grassy area between the house and the alpaca pasture. I’ve collected them to use in the fireplace soon, but for now, am also making some of these.  They will be used for flower vases or other decorations.

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I spent time cleaning out around a fig bush, from which I harvested figs for making jelly.  But I also cut out and saved…..kudzu vines!  I’ll let them dry out, then soak again to weave into baskets or wreathes.

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Simple gifts from nature. Seems like so little, but really, they have the potential to be so much more.

Happy Creating!

 

 

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Review, ReDo, Repeat…!

I look for one thing and find another.

It happens a lot.

I went looking for a sheet of drawing paper to make labels for the homemade jellies this time. It’s that part of the summer–when the fruit has come in and I have more than I can handle. I process what I can, and freeze the rest for later.

So I have a lot of jars of blackberry jellies and fig preserves, along with several sketchbooks full of notes, drawings, and ideas.

I went through information collected from years of writing conferences and self-assigned drawing projects. I looked through sketches, read through notes I’d made and tips for the writer/illustrators.

Maybe it was a lot for me to handle right at the moment when I collected those ideas. Maybe I had more than I knew what to do with at the time. And maybe, just as with the fruit, I decided to use what I needed, and save the rest for later.

I think I’m ready now…to use what I learned by drawing out illustrations from published children’s books, and then to get to work on the ideas I have of my own.

I’ll be busy. There are a lot of things on my TO BE DONE list.

Happy Creating!

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Fruits…no…The Vegetables of Labor

Although it’s been several months since I’ve posted anything on the blog, it’s not because things haven’t been busy out here on the Farm. AND I’ve heard it said that if you can’t be busy doing something, try to do something that’s worth writing about.

I’ve been doing both.

Egarden has produced a lot of Lemon Balm, Chocolate Mint and other herbs. I’ve spent an awful lot of time researching those herbs, learning how to process and dry them, and making teas.

Springtime came and went and the alpaca received their yearly haircuts. That means I have fiber. LOTS of fiber! I don’t know how I’m ever going to catch up if I try to process all that fiber on my own, so I’m considering sending it to a fiber mill and having it turned into yarn for future projects. I’ll still have plenty to spin and some to sell.

And the first of the garden produce has been coming in. We gathered blueberries and blackberries and made jelly, too.

The way I see it is this….Every day, I will look for balance in the things I’m trying to do, whether it’s creating words or images on a page, making music, growing or preparing food.

AND when I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished, I will remain thankful for those things that I AM able to accomplish. Whatever doesn’t get done may be there tomorrow. Or not. And either way–it will have been a good day.

Happy Creating!

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Finding a Niche or Writing a Resume

I update my resume every once in a while, but this time, I’m having a really hard time narrowing down WHAT I do and HOW MUCH experience I’ve had in doing it.

I need help.

For one thing, I don’t want to put anything in there along the lines of, “has been doing this since _______ (fill in the blank with a year) because I’m thinking it sets a date that might be older than the person reading it. I don’t want to offend anyone, especially if I’m trying to get freelancing work out of it. Neither do I want to put in anything that might allude to my age as “being older than dirt.”

I know, I know….there are circumstances which are designed to protect a person from AGE DISCRIMINATION, but I really don’t want to take any chances.

So I’ll go for factual information, with a twist of humor thrown in. One of my last bios reads along the lines of “has experience in Traditional Handcrafting skills which enables her to travel undetected between the nineteenth and twenty-first centuries.” I’m hopeful that should cover for me for at least 200 years.

If you’ve been taking the time to read this blog, and maybe any of this information has meant something or could be considered useful as I revise the resume, I sure would appreciate hearing about it in the comments section below.  Thanks.

I’ll see you along the Creative Journey.

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Handcrafted

We have alpaca. Alpaca give fiber.  LOTS AND LOTS of fiber.

Our animals get their haircuts, or are sheared, in the spring.  Each animal provides almost four pounds of fleece and yes, I know what to do with it. Ill spin it into yarns and then make a variety of items.

Here are a couple of shawlettes that were handwoven on a triangular loom.  The natural colors of alpaca are neutral colors–white, beige, light brown, dark brown, gray, black–these are how alpaca appear in nature.  Anything else is the result of my playing around with dyes and blending other fibers in with the alpaca fiber.  I love to play with colors! OR I might take a commercially spun yarn and ply it in with the natural alpaca yarn to achieve a unique yarn in that way.  Sounds like work, but it’s the FUN kind of work!

Hats are fun to knit or crochet (these are knit) and here are a few samples. All of the colors are neutral/natural colors and the hats are VERY warm. Some of these are sold at market, given as gifts by me, or given by friends to friends.

Not to worry, though.  The animals have plenty of hair left and they will stay warm in cold weather.

And now we will, too.

I’m happy creating!

 

 

 

 

 

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(I’ll) Take Two Road Trips and Call In The Morning

The wandering creative gypsy in my soul needed a bit of inspiration. One place I found it was at Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden, and if you don’t know his work, please take time to do a bit of research. You won’t be disappointed.

This is the Folk Art Church at dusk. It was beautiful and we spent time walking through the garden and seeing a lot of interesting objects created from recycled “stuff” as well as paintings and words of wisdom.

And here is a photo of the barn at the Highlights Foundation in Honesdale PA. Again, please search for the information and attend a workshop or three. 🙂

These are two places where I feel I’ll be able to get in touch with my creative muse within, and when I needed a bit of a pick-me-up, they certainly did.

Creatively busy. I’ll call later……

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Good Material

We’ve had several days of rain these last few weeks. 

Wind, too. The windmill went crazy. Pieces here; scraps over there. It is now in the Restoration Stage. 

But the Treehouse escaped damage from every tree that fell in the forest. See? Although just barely visible, we were able to move and cut the surrounding trees and will have wood to use for other building projects. 

  

We’ll haul the wood up to the sawmill we’ve constructed on our property. 

Oh yes. There is now a sawmill. My contribution was to photograph the original sawmill before it was disassembled and then moved. I had to draw and label pieces, as well as make working diagrams in order to be able to put it back together again. 

So the storms have provided us with good building material. We’ll cut the logs here:

  

And build a footbridge and shelter here:

  

We will have good materials for building. 

A creative group of writer friends will be sharing some tips and their knowledge about Writing Middle Grade novels. Check them out if you’d like to learn more:  they are using their collective skills to build something wonderful as they set up their blog tour. 

Check out the Middle Grade Mafia at:

www. middlegrademafia.com and tell them I said “hi.”

Happy Creating!

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Back On The Trail (Again!)

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I’m getting ready to attend one of my favorite writing conferences–the Southern Breeze SCBWI Writing and Illustrating for Kids (WIK) conference, close to Birmingham, AL. It will be great to visit with writers and illustrators– meet agents, editors and art directors. I always learn SO much from these conferences and come away inspired and with plans for creative projects. Plus, I get to visit with long-time friends who are creative spirits, too. We share news, tips and talk about our individual creative “path.”

So I put on my hiking boots today to take a walk in the backwoods. It’s so DIFFICULT to pack for these conferences. There’s so much to think about!! I can’t decide what to take along with me, and you know I want to do a lot and all at the same time!

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By the time I got deeper into the woods, I could hear the sound of the water in the creek. No cars. No phones. Nothing to create a distraction. Just the sound of my own footsteps as I crunched through the leaves.

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I went as far as the tree house before I stopped to rest. The sun provided a nice canopy over the bend in the creek. I took out my sketchbook, fully intending to spend some time writing or drawing while I was there.

But I stopped. I just stood still and listened. To my breath and the beating of my own heart.
I hope to include that in my writing and illustrating.

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Happy creating to you, too!

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Catching Up and Time Travels

I have issues with time–both in the here and now, and with the past and present. I can get creatively busy and forget how much time might have passed. Going from the house to my barn studio, I’ll travel from the twenty-first century back to the nineteenth century if I don’t take my phone.

(I’m still wondering if that’s some Time-Warp-Thing.)

Since it’s rumored that a picture is worth a thousand words–I’ll share a few photos and see if they SHOW what I’ve been doing:

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Every day can be a creative day!

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