Wednesday, July 25, 2018


"Evening’s hushed summer mist tries to comfort her earth and lays down like a whisper a blanket of soft purple haze."

Here in Western New York State, we don't experience the kinds of drought conditions that we read about in the western and southern United States. When we have a drought, it means that we haven't had enough rain over the course of a season, or over several weeks. It is especially hard on our local farmers who have a short growing season and deadlines to meet for harvesting summer and fall crops.

I happen to be familiar with how this affects farm families because I grew up on a cash crop farm, and I worked in the agricultural sector with an outreach program that was associated with and housed at my alma mater, Cornell University. I now reside close to the agricultural area where I grew up. I guess I have come full circle. There isn't a lot of development happening here in the way of cul-de-sacs and 2-story homes. The developments you see cropping up on the local landscape are bigger barns to house the ever-growing herds of dairy cattle and the ever-growing specialized equipment used to plant and harvest the acres and acres of crops that are grown in this and the surrounding counties.

I try to remain practical in my thoughts about farmers. After all, running a farm is just like running any business. There are the same management decisions, stressors, and hopefully . . . rewards. The only difference is that it is so dependent on the weather. Regardless of the type of farm . . . a fruit farm, a dairy farm, or a cash crop farm . . . the weather can make or break you. Managing the business and anticipating the future go hand in hand, but one is something you can look at on paper and the other is one you can only pray about. So, practical thoughts don't really make sense when I look at the brown fields and empty creeks. My heart starts to ache for each farm family, their employees and the ag-businesses that serve them. It is a close-knit community and they are dependent upon each other's success.

My post today is a personal one, not only because I identify with the agricultural community that surrounds me; but also because I am sharing with you something I wrote twenty years ago. I dig it out every now and then to read . . . only to put it back in its' dog-eared file folder and stash it back on the shelf. I don't know what to call it. A poem, an ode, a ballad? Maybe a ballad, if I wrote some music to go along with it, or perhaps it is just the beginning of a project I have contemplated over the years to make it into a little black and white movie. Unfortunately, the actor I had chosen for the main character, Sam Shepard, passed away last year. Not that I am certain he would have even been interested! But I loved him in the movie "Country", as well as many other roles he portrayed, and I thought he would be a good fit.

I have come to the conclusion that in many parts of my creative life, I have waited too long to step out in faith and put my work out there. I am trying to break that habit and this is a big step for me.

There's really no time like the present, so without any more excuses, I give you my poem, "Drought".


The summer’s been a dry one.

Crops are burning in the field.

We’ve lost hope of any chance

of eking a living from their yield.

It’s mid-July – almost harvest time.

The corn stands short, brown and stilted.

Tempers flare and payments bounce.

Feel like a lover who’s been jilted.

The chance of rain is zero.

Hasn’t been a cloud in the sky for days

Looking out over parched hard scrabble,

evening’s hushed summer mist

tries to comfort her earth

and lays down like a whisper

a blanket of soft purple haze.

The wind lifts behind me.

Cool air chills the nape of my neck.

Feels like it might be raining somewhere

Shoot! I must be dreaming.

The weatherman said we don’t have a prayer.

Neighbors pass by on their evening ride,

tip their hats and cast their eyes low.

Palms up, they gesture skyward,

for rain they are pleading.

It’s a feeling too well we all know.

The tractors stand idle,

but ready and waiting still . . .

since in springtime when they tilled.

The men at the co-op are waiting, too, all set to mill.

But the summer’s been a dry one.

Crops are burning in the field.

We’ve lost hope of any chance

of eking a living from their yield.

The folks in the city think the cost

of food is too high

while we fight for fair prices

to earn a living unsubsidized.

Holding out for the promise

I made when I first plowed this land . . .

to till it season after season

and make a living with my hands.

My faith in God sustains me.

On Him I must rely.

With Him I have a line of credit

and I am valued in His eyes.

I pray to Him in the quiet night,

crouched on the back porch step.

“Take care of me Lord.

I’ll take care of Your earth.

Please give me some sign of Your plan.”

Heat lightning flashes

in the distant black sky.

I know He is listening,

but is that His reply?

I hang my head low,

cup my face in my hands.

My body feels heavy from woe.

My eyes start to burn,

my face feels on fire,

and the tears begin to roll.

Down my cheeks

and through my fingers they stream.

The salt burns my parched sunburned skin.

I hear the creak of a door

and the voice of my wife

saying, “Honey, it’s time you came in.”

I sit for a moment,

then rise up with a sigh,

unsure if I want her to see that I’ve cried.

She wraps her arms ‘round me

and softens the pain.

Her touch is gentle and warm . . .

like my memory of rain.

The moon washes white

the cracked sun-dried earth,

and my farm looks like a

world I don’t know.

Unreal and lifeless . . .

cold and barren . . .

a ghostly image

created by the

sterile moonglow.

In silence we walk

up the steps to the kitchen

and stand still in the shadowy night.

We both feel beaten by an unseen aggressor.

All we want is to make a good living . . .

not live an existence where each day’s a fight.

“I’m going to turn in now,”

I say to my wife,

and climb the back stairs to our room

where I used to find rest and wake up refreshed . . .

Nights are now spent

in restless dreams of a prisoner

closed in by calico walls.

Trapped in farm fields dressed in black,

where I can’t find my way

to answer my family’s distant

and desperate calls.

I awake in the night,

my heart pounding from terror,

my pillow soaking wet from my brow.

Staring into the darkness, my mind carries me back to

the day we recited our vows.

“for better or for worse,

for richer or for poorer,”

didn’t mean then

what they do now.

But the summer’s been a dry one.

Crops are burning in the field.

We’ve lost hope of any chance

of eking a living from their yield.

I feel a breeze from the west window

rush through the silent dark room

and hear a distant rumbling noise.

The lifeless gauze curtain jumps and starts billowing

out from the old papered wall.

I’d be crazy to think it might start to rain

just because the wind came up in the night.

But that noise . . .

sounds like thunder . . .

and I can hear the penned heifers

restlessly kicking their stalls.

Could this really mean rain?

Or am I still in a dream?

Is my subconscious

playing a cruel joke?

My heart starts to race

and beats loudly in my ears.

As I strain to listen for the sound of rain drops,

I sink my head into the pillow –

afraid of a sound I won’t hear.

My eyes burn from exhaustion.

My lids close and I drift off to sleep.

Just about dawn,

I awake to the squeals

of my children running wide-eyed and barefooted

down the hallway into our room.

“Daddy, did you hear the thunder?”

“Mommy, can we crawl in with you?”

Another loud clap

And there are five in our bed . . .

Three scared and two breathless with hope.

On the tin roof outside our window,

I hear the faint sound of raindrops

gently falling on the empty woodshed.

My wife takes my hand and gives it a squeeze

and the lump in my throat almost chokes me.

The sky opens up, the rain pours down from it,

and my eyes well up with tears.

My youngest beside me whispers,

“Don’t be scared Daddy.

It’s okay.

I’m right here.”

I put my arms around her,

hold on to her tightly,

and sob into her soft brown hair.

Our dry spell ended this week. We've had two and a half inches of rain.
We are hoping and praying we will get more rain this week.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post. As always, your questions and comments are welcome. You can leave them below or on Facebook. I will read them and I will reply. And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Ginger Ale and Saltines

Last night was one of those nights when I really missed my mother. I was very close to her, even though at times we didn't see eye to eye. But who ever agrees on everything...and on some days anything? In retrospect, I can now understand her point of view. I just wish she was here, so I could tell her and thank her for so much that she did for me and taught me.

Snack dab right in the middle of what has been a pretty good week, last night I ended up sleepless with enough of a tummy ache to keep me awake. Too tired to trudge downstairs, I suffered through it for a while. When I decided that was pretty dumb, I went down to the pantry and got a bottle of ginger ale and a stack of saltine crackers . . . my mother's first line of defense for a stomach ache.

I prayed for relief and tried to rub my back the way my mother used to. She had such a loving and tender touch. I miss that. My efforts to rub my own back ended up being the comic relief I needed right then. Since I really couldn't reach all that far, and I was trying to be quiet to allow my husband to get a good night's sleep, I decided to use the door jamb to go back and forth across my back, but it hurt my backbone! That made me laugh, though, and I was glad nobody was there to see me. :-)  It reminded me of how the cows on neighboring farms scratch their backs on those cow scratcher devices that are out in the barn. :-) I sat up in the wing back chair in our bedroom and finally fell asleep for an hour or so.

I'm much better this morning, although I am rather tired from the lack of sleep and a bit achy; but the miracle of crackers and ginger ale brought me through. I'm still missing my mother, though. The experience made me realize that whether you are a mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle or special friend, we should remember the things we do are being noticed and will be remembered by the children in our lives. It might not be what we think we'll be remembered for, such as the Cinderella watch my mother slipped on my wrist during the night on Christmas eve, or the twist blouses that were all the rage that she bought for my sister and me, or the specially sought-out birthday gift of a portable typewriter. Those are special memories, but it might be something that seems so random, something you'd never expect to be remembered for. Such is the memory when I hear my mother every time I clear my throat. I sound just like her to the point it sometimes startles me. It probably isn't what she'd ever have thought I'd vividly remember about her. And recently I heard myself faintly whistling while I watered my garden...the same way my mother did whenever she watered her garden. It made me smile. I wonder what my family will recall about me someday. I hope whatever it is, that it brings a smile to their faces and resides in a special place in their hearts.

I haven't been writing posts very often this spring because I spend much of my spare time outdoors. Our summers are short and it is a real joy to be outside in nice warm weather. I have a garden to tend to and a lot of yard maintenance to catch up on.

Taken from an upstairs window this morning after a lot of rain yesterday and overnight.
I will not need to water for a couple days until we get the stretch of extremely hot weather that is being called for.
Click on the photo to enlarge it, if you want a closer look.

I have been doing a lot of reading and watching videos about cottage gardens. I think I am on the right path. It is hard to be patient, but since it is only the first week of summer, I need to wait and see how everything looks as the weeks go by. One week can make a big difference in how things look. It is a good time to stop planting for a while and see what happens. Someday, I hope the garden will be filled to capacity to the point where I will need to divide plants and move a few things around. :-)

While it is hot this weekend, I plan to take it easy and, at my husband's urging, finally take the boxes of old photos off the shelf and start to go through them. It is something I always say I will do on a snow day. I think an extreme heat day will be just as good a day to start!

Thank you for taking the time out of  your day to read my post. As always, your questions and comments are welcome. I will respond whether you comment here or on Facebook.

And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Andromeda Japonica and Other Fun-to-Say Botanical Names

Andromeda Japonica

Be still  my heart. I finally have one. A shrub that I fell in love with in the late 1990's, an Andromeda Japonica. Every day, and in every season, when I walked to my office at Cornell University, I purposely passed through Minn's Garden to enjoy the ever-changing gardenscape. Next to the garden, hidden in an alcove by the brick Plant Science Building, was a very large ornamental bush that entranced me every spring with its' delicate flower clusters and fragrance. The metal tag hanging on a lower branch provided the name Andromeda Japonica. Here is a link that shows the garden and the building. You can see the alcove to the right of the door.

Why did I wait over 20 years to buy one of these beautiful bushes? I can't answer that. It couldn't be cost, since the shrub we purchased the other day at the nursery was only $31.99. I think I may have thought I was not deserving of such a special plant. Maybe I thought a plant this gorgeous only belonged in a special place. Well, what can be more special than my own front yard?

It may sound silly, but even in gardening, I have been waiting for a perfect time, a perfect place. That is something I do in many aspects of my life, whether it be sewing, crafting, redecorating, or many other things, I tend to wait. There is not one reason why I waited, there are probably several. Instead of wondering why, I will now just enjoy the journey that my new acquisition and I will experience in our future together; and more importantly, I will pay attention to my planning and my waiting. If it was not for my husband and his urging, the plant would have remained at the nursery and I would have gone home without it. My husband Paul knows the importance of living for today and not letting opportunities pass you by, having lost his first wife to a horrible disease. At the end of their life together, they were grateful that they had no regrets. They did the things they wanted to do. They lived a rich life together and tried to give their two sons a good childhood. They didn't wait. They did things. We don't always have the privilege of waiting until the right time, or when we have more money, or have this or that crossed off our To Do List. (My To Do List has a life of its' own, so it is capitalized like a proper noun.) I thank God for my husband and his perspective on life.

Besides the Andromeda Japonica, our foundation plantings include a Dicentra Spectabilis, too. That is the fancy name for the perennial favorite, Bleeding Heart. Bleeding Hearts seem to be in every old fashioned garden I have ever seen. We planted three last summer and they have all survived. :-)

Dicentra Spectabilis
Passing through our side yard, the Allium, which don't even have a common name that I know of, that I planted several years ago keep multiplying and are filling in along the southern border of our yard.


A beautiful reminder of Kathy, Paul's first wife, are the delicate Anemone Blanda, or Grecian Windflowers that grow along side the south side of the house. I have always loved these sweet little low-growing flowers, but for that same  unknown reason as I mentioned before, never planted any. They are a very special gift in my garden.

Anemone Blanda

Moving into the back yard, I have made many surprising discoveries this week. Now that we have had warm weather and some rain, the perennials we planted last year are coming up. The Delphinium are getting really large, and the Russian Sage . . . Perovskia Atriplicifolia . . . are finally showing some little leaves at the base of the remnants of last year's plants.

I am leery of pulling anything that resembles a weed in the gardens, because they might just be something we planted last spring and summer! Here in Western New York State, it may be mid- to late-June until we see some of our plantings emerge and be recognizable. Like I posted before, gardening has taught me about patience. I was quite disappointed last year with the clematis we planted, but this year they are looking robust and they are climbing on their trellises!

There will be more posts and more photos as the spring and summer months pass . . . and surely into the autumn months, but for now I am happy to see new growth emerge and on this sunny day, I will head outside soon to dig out the weeds I can recognize . . . dandelions! Those in the photo above have been removed . . . so please don't scold me!  ;-)

Whatever is in your garden, or in your view as you gaze at the gardens of others, I truly hope you are enjoying springtime. Ours burst forth in a glorious array of colors, textures, shapes and scents this year. It seemed so much better than in my memory of other springtimes. I think it was partly due to the very  long winter we endured, but also partly due to the anticipation of seeing what my gardens had in store this year.
Taken a week or so ago . . . it will be a while before it is in full flower . . . but the wait will be worth it.
Your questions and comments are welcome. You can post them here, or on Facebook. I do read them and will respond. :-) If you wish, you can enlarge any of the images for a better view by clicking on the photo.

As always, it is my sincere wish that you and those you love are well and happy; and until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Wednesday, May 9, 2018

As Mother's Day Approaches . . .

I didn't plan to write a post about Mother's Day. It wasn't even on my radar in the form of an idea or a bulleted outline. But this morning, when I read a Facebook post by a young mother who is one of my Facebook friends, I began to think about my own mother. The post I read wasn't about anything that was in relation to my mother. No. It was far removed from the birth and life of my own mother. But, because this young mother was writing from deep in her soul from her past year of experiences with her baby girl who has been diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome, my mother and her struggles with health and survival came to mind. I will write a little about my mother and her birth and life in this post; but first, please read the following Facebook post from Amanda. If you are thinking about how crummy you feel today, have this problem, or that problem, a headache, too much to do, or whatever, I believe your perspective will be changed, and not just for today, but forever. With her permission, Amanda's post appears below.

My mother, born in 1909, was the first born to my young grandparents. Born on a dirt road, the name that was recorded on her birth certificate was "Baby Coyle". She was not expected to live. She weighed less than three pounds and could not digest milk. By some miracle, and because she had a large extended family who took care of her, she lived beyond anyone's expectations. So small was she, that she slept in a dresser drawer. True story. So, it isn't just in TV westerns that this was done. She was unable to sit up, so they improvised and placed soft cardboard around her so she would not flop frontward, sideways, or backward. Over time, she must have begun to take in some form of nourishment, and the stories that were told to me of the concoctions my grandfather made for her to ingest were gruesome. He ordered medical encyclopedias through the mail and used a meat press to squish the juices from meat to make broth for my mother to drink. I'm pretty sure raw eggs were in her diet, too. Ugh. Perhaps this is where the phrase, "if it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger" originated. Because she could not digest milk, her bones were soft. Her caregivers couldn't even get her to crawl for a long time, but by the age of four, she began to walk. As it turned out, doctors later said it was good that she did not try to walk before because her soft bones would have been curved, which would have only added to her difficulties. I'm not sure how old she was, perhaps 7 or 8, when my grandfather's sister, who was a nurse in Rochester, suggested she be seen at a hospital where they had therapies that might help her. My mother told me the story of being put into a hydrotherapy tub that scared her so much that she pulled the plug and drained the water out. After that day, they didn't try any more hydrotherapy.
My mother, Edythe Louise Coyle's baby picture.
As a child, she was often tired and required a lot of sleep. She attended school when she could. The one room schoolhouse was about a mile away and my grandparents would take her there in the horse-drawn wagon. She walked with a limp and had a hard time keeping her balance. When it was time to play baseball during recess, she would bat the ball, but the boys in the class would run the bases for her. The tight-knit community she grew up in remained so all of their lives. There were 13 kids in the house up the road, and a dozen or so more scattered in the two or three houses within a couple miles.

My mother's family was poor. Like most farms of the day, theirs was a small one. They raised pigs, cows and chickens and the crops to feed them. They sold eggs and butter to the local community. When the Great Depression hit, they tried to keep food on the table by hiring the kids out to bring in some extra money. My mother and her younger sister were mother's helpers for a couple well-to-do families in the area. Because my mother was handicapped (or in those days, "afflicted"), she was paid $3 a week instead of the $5 that her sister was paid. When my mother wasn't employed in that capacity, she helped out her elderly relatives. She would often go stay with them for weeks at a time and she eventually learned to drive a truck and drove them to town for their errands and to visit their friends and family. My mother loved the feeling of independence that driving gave her. It allowed her to be mobile and when  she could, she would drive anywhere.

Throughout the 1930's and the 1940's, she remained on the farm and had a large flock of chickens and peddled eggs and butter in the nearby village of Leroy. In the mid-1940's a widower and his sons bought the farm just up the road. One of those sons used to call on my mother's family. He befriended my grandparents and eventually my mother. After a short courtship, he asked her to marry him. This was something my mother never expected to happen to her. She had watched her sisters as they dated, got engaged and married; but never thought it was in the cards for her. But God had a plan for her. He sent my father to her.
My parents, Ralph and Edythe Hawker, on their wedding day, June 24, 1948
Of course, there is much more to this story and to what follows in her life and theirs together; but as Mother's Day approaches, and as I read Amanda's post, I was reminded of my mother. I was reminded of the stories of her childhood, but also of her as my mother. Because she had been so well cared for, she learned how to be caring. She was a great mother. Strong when she needed to be, silly whenever she could be, and loving always. I see these traits in little Saoirse and in Amanda. God bless them and God bless all mothers and their children.

Thank you for stopping by today to read my post. As always, your questions and comments are welcome here or on Facebook. I do read them and I will reply.  It is my sincere wish that you and those you love are well and happy. God bless our mothers, and until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Not much . . .

So, what have I been doing? I think to myself . . . not much. Until just a week or so ago we were still having snow almost daily and the temperature hardly broke out of the 30's. Oh, and yes . . .it is past the middle of April! Today is April 25th! I've been experiencing a feeling of being in suspended animation or limbo. I certainly can find a lot of things to do inside my home. The work inside is always there. You know. Cleaning, organizing, purging, cooking (maybe), . . . just the everyday stuff we all do. But everyone in the county has been waiting for the day when we can don a hoodie and head outside to do whatever it is we love to do on a warm spring day. For me, it is a garden tour and some raking. A few flowers have made their way through the soil already and they are hardy enough to take the weather we've been having. The tulip leaves are growing, but there won't be flowers for several weeks. My crocuses are very confused. First they came up and had warm sunshine on them, which made them open. Then they were buried under snow, only to see daylight a few more days before they were covered in about a quarter inch of ice. But, as I look out the window at them, they are still standing . . . and are staying closed because it is a dark and rainy day . . . after two glorious spring-like days in a row! It is 50 degrees, which feels quite warm as long as the wind stays down. The other plants that I have seen making their way through the earth are the bleeding hearts that we planted last year. They are just little ruffled purple leaves popping up, but I am thrilled they have survived their first winter. On Sunday I was able to rake out some leaves from the garden beds. The fragile leaves of the daffodils and allium can't take much tugging with a rake, but I have a handy little shrub rake that doesn't tear everything to shreds! There is plenty more to do, but half an hour here and half an hour there makes a difference. I am taking it easy after lying low all winter after recovering from surgery.

Some of the beautiful crocuses that line our front walkway.
They seem to have doubled in size and quantity this spring.
I am thinking it may be due, in part, to using Miracle Grow on the flower beds last summer. :-)
You can click on the photo to enlarge it.

Over the past couple weeks, my husband and I have been taking our continuing education classes for our real estate licenses, which are required every two years. There should be an uptick in the real estate market with the onset of better weather. It happens every spring in this part of the country. That will keep us busy . . . or, I should say . . . busier! :-)

Artwork and learning different techniques is how I have been spending my studio hours. I belong to a group on Facebook, Artful Evidence, that provides a fun way to learn new things and create art. You can see in the photos below just what I have been playing around with. #ArtfulEvidence

The challenge for the week was "masks".
I wasn't quite sure what to do, since using a mask in artwork was new to me. My combination of a dress form die and some die cut wings didn't quite suit me, though. It reminded me a little of a Rorschach test image! #artfulevidence
You can click on the photo to enlarge it.

I am such a creature of habit.
I will try to make something that I don't know how to make . . . thinking that it will somehow turn out OK.
See above photo for proof of my foible!
However, after some research, the right materials and time, I was able to actually achieve the result that a mask is supposed to provide. Similar to the way masking tape works for painting around windows, you can use a mask in artwork to cover the background and paint or stamp over the mask. #artfulevidence
You can click on the photo to enlarge it.

The challenge for the week was "flourishes."
I had rediscovered the glittered chipboard flourishes during a recent stash reorganization.
Knowing how to use a mask, I employed the technique for the background and used a favorite stamp, florals, a metal tag, a little frame with the back removed, and a stickpin that I received in a swap a few years ago.
The image and the sentiment were something I saved from a gift that my husband gave me for Christmas. I knew I would find a use for them, . . . in addition to the lovely gloves that came with the tag! ;-) My husband often jokes with me that he could just give me the ribbons and pretty paper and forget the gift inside! #artfulevidence
You can click on the photo to enlarge it.

And . . . there is a quilt in my sewing room that is waiting for me. It has a story that goes along with it, but then I think every quilt has a story, right? The story will wait for now. I'd like to have the quilt finished when I tell its' story. :-)

This will be a sweet old-fashioned looking quilt.
The colors are soft and there is not a lot of contrast, except for the reddish-pink pinwheel and the navy blue sashing.
Now that it is out of storage and hanging here for me to see every day, I am excited to work on it.
Hopefully the top will be complete within a few weeks and I can take it to the quilt shop to have it custom quilted.
I don't machine quilt bed-sized quilts anymore, and I certainly don't hand quilt much anymore, either!
I'm having what I love to call a "home day" today. I am alone in the house, going from room to room doing those little things that often call to me as I walk by, but I ignore. I try to remember never to leave a room empty handed and to put things back when I find them. But . . . you know . . . that doesn't always happen! I have two boxes ready to donate to the Salvation Army and two more ready to begin filling. It is so convenient for us to donate to the Salvation Army because we can schedule the pickup online and they will come to our house to get everything! We don't need to trudge the boxes out to the car and into to the thrift store. It is good, too, because it gives us a goal to work toward when we know the date they will be here.

So, even though it feels like I haven't been doing much, I guess I have been doing enough. I am tired when my head hits the pillow and I am able to sleep through the night. I must be doing enough to tire myself out!

I hope you are enjoying springtime and even when you feel like you are not really doing much, that you can be satisfied in knowing you really are doing enough. We really don't need to fill our days with being busy to be happy and successful. I find it to be quite the opposite. I am happy when I slow down a little and I stop to smell the flowers. Thank you for stopping by to read this post. As always, your questions and comments are welcome.  And until we meet again,  may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Why Shop for Supplies?

I don't know about  you, but when I see someone on YouTube, or in the media, use a product that I think would be nice to try, I make note of it on my wish list. I may put it in my online shopping cart and let it sit there for a while and after some consideration, I will either move it down on the list or eventually order it. I think long and hard about my purchases and am not an impulse buyer . . . well, I am usually not an impulse buyer. There are those times however, when I am in a store and see some really great art supplies, quilting or sewing notions, or a nice sweater, that I break down. I am careful, though, and inquire about the store's return policy. I don't want to get something home, and have buyer's remorse, only to find out that the item cannot be returned for a refund. I am completely okay with returning unopened items or clothes that still have the tags on them. So, my impulse shopping doesn't feel all that bad!

For instance today. . . yes . . in April . . I just looked out the window and guess what? It is snowing. Yes. Snow. I am composing this on a Sunday afternoon. I love Sunday afternoons, but don't always want to spend them inside! However, it is just bone chilling cold in the 20's and low 30's. I've really had enough of this kind of weather. So, it is a good afternoon to watch a few more YouTube videos before I head down to my studio to clean off my work table that I left a mess after my last creative flurry yesterday! I might just find more things to add to that wish list.

Getting back to the idea I had when I sat down to write this post . . . Do I really need to shop for supplies? The answer is "no". I know it. And I can prove it. For instance, our living room clock stopped working recently. It had served us for fourteen years and after trying a few things to see if it could be saved, we determined it was time to get a replacement. My husband was about to wrap it up in newspaper and give it a proper burial in the trash bin when I stopped him in his tracks. He could tell by the look on my face that I had other plans for the clock's remains. He handed it over and said it was a good thing that I walked in at that moment, or it would have been out by the curb the morning. He offered to take it apart for me, and when he was finished, he gave me the empty housing, face, hands and a few other little metal objects. I am not sure yet just exactly what I will do with all the goodies, but I have a few ideas.

Our beautiful mantle clock will have a new life in a future project.
You can click on the photo for a closer look.

Amused by my excitement over the salvaged broken clock, my husband reminded me of the stories I have told him about my childhood . . . and what it was like to be raised by a couple of real "savers". Even though his parents had lived through The Great Depression, just like mine had, he said they didn't save a lot. But, then, he didn't live on a farm where you have lots of room to keep things . . . just in case you need them someday. His parents moved to the city and had adapted to city life early on, after leaving their rural and farm homes. My husband was used to going to a nearby store when he needed something and had lots of choices. It was different for me living five miles from the closest village. When my father had business dealings at the kitchen table with a seed salesman, or an insurance man, he would keep any carbon paper from the forms he signed and hand them over to me to play with. I loved getting that carbon paper! I even liked how it smelled. I would draw pictures and write letters and numbers on it until I had exhausted every little part that had any blue ink left on it. I was sad when it was all used up.

My recent effort at saving has been to keep all the tea bags I have been using to brew tea this winter. The hot tea helped keep me warm on cold days! After the bags are dry, I open them carefully and shake the tea leaves out. Then I remove the string, and slowly pull the bag open at the seam that is hidden inside. The colors left on the tea bag paper are really pretty and depending on the kind of tea, they range from a soft pink to a cinnamon brown color. I used one last week in an experiment to see if I could decoupage with it. It worked!

A few of the teabags that I dried.
You can click on the photo for a closer look.
I  sometimes keep the wax paper envelopes that the postmaster puts the stamps in when we buy them, and occasionally I use part of a Tyvek mailing envelope in a project to give it extra strength. That stuff does NOT tear!

So, after my post last week about shopping for supplies, my husband said he doesn't know why I need to go to the store when I can just scrounge things up from the mail or the kitchen! He said he wishes he had known me years ago when he used lots of carbon paper in his office. I would have been in carbon paper heaven! And he is right! If I see pretty ribbons on a gift, or an especially pretty postage stamp, I keep it. I have a box in my studio labeled "ephemera." It has broken jewelry, game pieces, a few coins from trips to the Caribbean, and any other little bauble that is too precious not to keep!

Why, then, do I feel the need to check out the art supplies and sewing notions when I go shopping? I really don't need to shop for supplies. As I have often written, I can shop my own hoard vault and find lots of useful items! I am trying to limit my purchases to the stuff I know I will use up . . . like adhesives, fancy pens, art pencils and paper pads. But on my way to the checkout, I will often pass by the clearance aisle . . . you know . . . just to take a look. That look sometimes ends up with something totally unplanned for landing in my shopping cart. Amazing, huh? I brought home a few of those finds on my last visit to the store. I pulled one of them out yesterday and put it smack dab in the middle of my work space. It will be used this week and not get stashed away! I am hoping this will become my new tactic to use what I buy before it goes into the vault, and by the time I write my next post, there will be something finished with it that I can show you. Yes. Used and finished!

In the meanwhile, I have continued to enjoy the online group I joined on Facebook. Below is a photo of what I made for the challenge this week. The topic was "Tags." Working on these weekly challenges has really helped me with channeling my ideas for making things with my stash. :-)

Mixed Media
6" x 6"
I used 90 lb. mixed media paper, acrylic paints, rubber stamps, ink, colored pencils,
black cardstock, word beads and eyelash yarn. All from my stash!
You can click on the photo for a closer look.

Thank you for stopping by and taking a few minutes out of your day to read my post. I welcome your questions and comments. I do read them and I will reply. You can leave them here or on Facebook. As always, it is my wish that you and those you love are healthy and happy. And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Right Stuff

As I write this post, we are having a terrible wind storm. It rained torrents last night, followed by high winds and terrific gusts of wind. The wind has not let up and the gusts are getting even stronger. They are predicting 70 mph winds for this afternoon and this will continue for six or more hours. It has been about a 22 hour event. And now . . . I just looked out the window and it is snowing . . . sideways . . . and being blown by 30-40 mph winds. The firehouse is just up the street and the volunteers have gone by in their fire trucks and ambulance on their way to a rescue. It makes me very nervous and I remember how my mother used to react to this kind of weather. She baked. She baked banana breads, cookies, and cupcakes, as long as we had electricity. Then, if the lights went out, (and they usually did), we had plenty of treats to get us through until the power was restored. We would eat by kerosene lamps and gather in the kitchen around a little kerosene stove to try to stay warm in our un-insulated farm house. On a windy day like this, you could feel the breeze right through the walls! It may sound odd to you, but it was normal for us. We lived in an 1830's house . . . and not a fancy one of brick or stone. It was built of lath and plaster and when my parents did remodeling, they found a lot of other interesting building materials, such as wadded up newspapers! But it was home, and when I got scared, my father would say, "this house has stood here for over 100 years and has been through storms worse than this." I needed to hear those words again last night when I was in bed listening to the wind howl and the rain pummeling the windows . . . because I needed the reassurance that the house we live in has also survived many bad storms in its' lifetime. This house was built in 1846 and it is still here, solid as a rock. I was able to close my eyes and sleep through until morning.

So, to keep myself busy today, I have been cleaning out some neglected closets and making decisions on what to keep and what to donate to others. I even found some "lost" items that I was looking for a few months ago. They got pushed behind other things on the bottom of the closet, and I could not bend, lift, push or pull after my surgery, so they remained hidden. That is good bonus pay for my efforts!

I have watched a few YouTube videos today on techniques for my mixed media and paper crafting hobby and plan to head into my studio where I can get involved in some artwork and ignore the weather. I have lots of nice new supplies to use after shopping the sales a few weeks ago. I have been trying to use what I have on hand on my shelves, but there were a few things I really needed to add to my supply vault!

In order to continue learning how to draw and practice different techniques, I made the leap and purchased good quality pencils. While I was at the store, I took full advantage of coupons and made quite a haul. This should keep me occupied for quite a long time. The score at the store was made even sweeter by the fact that I was able to use gift cards that I have been keeping for a special shopping trip. They were aging in my wallet, so I unleashed them and it was fun.

If you would like a closer look at the photos, just click on them to enlarge them.

Amazon had the best selection and the best price, especially when I had gift cards to spend!$!$!

Look at all the beautiful colors!

A few "needs" along with a few "wants".
My husband was happy to drive me to the store for a little retail therapy! The sales were really good. At one store, with my gift cards and coupons, my entire bill was 33 cents!

I worked on drawing a perspective drawing after my first art class.

I practiced adding lamp posts and a tree.
Now for the architectural details and some color with my new pencils!

The challenge this week in the online group I am in on Facebook was "Spring,"
I opted to skip the chirping birds and tulips and went for a fashion theme.
6" x 6" on 140# watercolor paper with acrylic paints, inks, acrylic stamps, paper letters, and grosgrain ribbon.
Thank you for stopping by to read my post. As always, your questions and comments are welcome. With more of "the right stuff", I hope I can make progress in my artful endeavors. By the time you read this, I hope the weather here has improved and that we are all getting more spring-like weather! And until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.