Spring?

There are signs all around Faith Acre that indicate spring is imminent…except for today’s weather.  It is rainy and icky and cool.  I’m not complaining.  We need all the rain we can get to make it through our dry, hot summer. Cool weather is definitely better than cold or hot.  It’s just the kind of weather that makes me want to take a nap.  Well, honestly, I can pretty much be in the mood to take a nap no matter what the weather, but you know what I mean.

Nonetheless, I know that spring is here for two reasons. First of all – remember last year when the bird tried to move inside the house? https://wordpress.com/post/faithacrestudio.com/461

Well, he’s back.  Maybe not the same bird.  It’s hard to tell.  They all look alike to me.  Building in the same spots as last year – above the kitchen cabinet and the ceiling fan light fixture in the dining room.  I cleaned the nests out this morning.  They are being rebuilt this afternoon.  I’ve closed the door.  I’m letting the dogs in and out every five seconds.  Maybe every five minutes.  A whole, freaking lot anyway.  Definitely doing a doggy door this year.  Of course, I’m not sure that the bird won’t figure out how to use the doggy door before my dogs do.  They’re not the brightest pups in the pack.  I know the raccoons, possums and field mice will figure it out.  Maybe letting the bird live inside is the best option.

And last night we forgot to lock the chickens up in their coop at dusk.  The ladies go into the coop on their own, but we’ve still got to secure the door to keep them safe from predators.  We got home around nine and there was one of the chickens running around the front yard braving the dark and stormy night.

When we headed towards the chicken yard, she followed close behind vocally letting us know that we had failed at being competent poultry farmers.  As we approached the yard, it became evident that something was amiss.  The other 12 hens were running around flapping their wings and generally raising a ruckus.  When my daughter pointed the flashlight into the coop we saw a pair of glowing eyes.  A very pregnant possum had taken up residence in the dry shelter of the chicken coop.  She was reluctant to leave.  My oldest daughter tried to shoo her out.  She hissed.  I suggested that she push her out.

I received the “glare of death”.  You know the one I’m talking about.  The one that daughters learn about the time they turn 11 or 12.  The one that silently says that you are quite possibly the stupidest thing that manages to survive on the planet.

“You want me to poke the possum?”

“Well, yea.  She doesn’t seem to be listening to you when you tell her to get out.”

“You want me to poke the hissing possum?”

“Yes.”

“You want me to poke the hissing, possibly rabid, sharp-toothed possum?”

“Maybe you could use a stick.  Possums are almost blind.  She can’t see you to bite you.”

This went on for a while as we stood in the pouring rain.  Finally, the possum was removed from the coop.  The chickens were placed in the coop. They weren’t excited about it.  We put one in and two came out.  They didn’t like the smell of the possum.  Forty-five minutes later the job was complete.

I wonder how many babies that possum is going to birth?

 

Groovy!

Sometimes I think that I should stop going to thrift stores because it can be too easy to buy stuff.

Other days I know that thrift store shopping is a great idea for someone who is trying to live a more intentional deliberate life.

For example, I like to shop for a lot of my family’s clothes at thrift stores.  I can get better brands and quality than I can normally afford so I’m saving money.  I’m not buying cheap crap that carries the weight of a myriad of social, environmental, and economic issues.  Because the stuff has been worn and washed, I know ahead of time how its going to wear and I don’t buy something that is going to have to be ironed.  That’s just never going to happen around here.

I don’t buy all of our clothing second-hand.  Some stuff is just supposed to be new if you know what I mean and sometimes you just can’t find what you need when you need it.

Because of thrift stores my husband can wear Hawaiian shirts that are actually from Hawaii.  My kid can wear the Justice, Gap and Old Navy clothes that she wants.  If it hangs in the closet for a bit and doesn’t really get worn all that much, it’s no great loss – we just donate it back.  Win…win!

The same goes for other stuff around the house:  dishes, decorative items, art supplies, sometimes furniture, etc…

I’ve just learned (and am learning) to be careful and thoughtful about purchases.

Then there is the magical day – the day that I was just meant to end up at the thrift store even if I was in a bad mood and was looking for some retail therapy even though I knew that buying something wouldn’t necessarily make everything all better.

Because what I found did make things better when I was dealing with a preteen child who shall remain nameless who was perhaps being a bit moody and difficult to deal with.  The kind of day when I needed to remind myself that love conquers all and I do love her more than I could ever have imagined because her life was indeed a miracle in more ways than one.  The day when I kept telling myself that I have survived three other adolescents and none of them are in jail and neither am I even though they might have inspired murderous thoughts at one time or another.

I found this at the thrift store yesterday:

IMAG1197 (1)IMAG1199A genuine 1969 Spirograph Plus missing only one piece.  It still has it’s original cardboard mat and most of the original paper.  How groovy is that!  It’s hard to be in a bad mood when you are playing with a Spirograph.

When you are playing with a Spirograph it’s easy to remember that you love that smart, beautiful, creative little girl who is trying to grow up in a big family in an even bigger world.  The little girl who is figuring out who she is and what her talents are.  The little girl with strength, determination and grit that sometimes comes across as stubbornness and defiance.

When you stop and just spend some time together, you remember that sometimes life is hard and taking the time to play and just “be” for a bit is a splendid idea.

Being in the Right Spot

Someone gave me a plant several months ago.  I don’t do plants very well.  I like them well enough.  I’ve read that they are good for a healthy home environment – that they clean the air and lend an atmosphere of peace and harmony.

In my “if” life (the life I imagine I could have “if” I had time, energy, money, etc.) my home is filled with lush, green vegetation.

In reality, any plant that I have tend to get forgotten.  Most days, I deem successful if I water and feed me and my family.

During one of my past decluttering sessions I got rid of several sickly looking plants – mostly consisting of sticks and dried leaves.  The pots went too.  I was done with plants.

Then this one showed up.  It moved around quite a bit and finally landed on the table in the entryway.  I like it there.  If someone shows up at my door, they can see the plant and know that I have made an attempt at decorating.  My hope is that they will see the plant and overlook the pile of shoes, jackets, dog hair and bags full of who-knows-what that typically fill said entryway.

The plants sits in a very visible spot so I remember to water it.  Okay, to be totally honest, I can see when it’s wilted to a point that I remember to water it.

It’s in a good spot for me.

Lately I have noticed that the plant is leaning – reaching out away from the wall towards the center of the room – towards the light of the window.  I turned it around so it would straighten up.  It still reaches towards the window.

The plant knows what it needs to stand straight and to grow.  It’s not concerned with being in the right spot to “look good” or satisfy a shallow need to keep up appearances.

The plant knows where it needs to be and what it needs to be the best possible plant that it can be.

A simple lesson for me from the humblest of places.  Today I am wondering and thinking about what I need to be the best possible me.  Where do I need to be?  What do I need to do?    What is in my way?  What is keeping me from the light?

What unnecessary things and actions are keeping me from standing up straight and growing fully?

I’ve moved the plant in a place of honor in front of a window. And gave it water.

 

The Squirrel

The other day I went to have some “centering” time with my chickens.  When my world seems to be spinning out of control, my hens’ lives just seem to make so much sense.  The sleep when it’s dark and wake when it’s light.  If they get tired during the day, they rest.  They move around scratching among the leaves in search of tasty snacks and eat only until they are full.  They don’t get fat.  They hang out with each other with a clear leader who is the leader because she’s good at it.  It’s no popularity contest.  They follow me around and I pretend that they like me.  I know that it’s because I feed them, but I’m okay with the illusion that they care.  They aren’t particularly smart, but they are really good at being chickens and they are content with what they are.  We don’t have all that much in common, but I do try to learn from them.  I may be smarter, but I’m not very good at achieving the level of peace and contentment that they live with.

Anyway, back to the point of this story.  I went out to the chicken yard and popped open the plastic bin that I store the chicken food in.  I wasn’t paying much attention and failed to notice that there was a hole chewed in the lid of the bin.  I’d been away for the weekend and it must have happened then.  I popped open the lid and reached in to unroll the bag of scratch grain when…

…out popped the chicken yard squirrel (his name is Chicken, but that’s a whole ‘nother story)…  He flew straight into my chest and then sprung up into a tree. Those little furry mammals are fast!  I don’t think that I have ever screamed so loudly in my life.  The family came running to the window that overlooks the chicken yard to see what had happened.  The automatic assumption was that I had seen a snake.  It is turning into springtime around here after all.

Can you believe that I received no sympathy whatsoever for this traumatic attack.  They were all too busy laughing until they were out of breath.

Afterwards the damn squirrel named Chicken had the nerve to perch on a limb above me and chatter angrily because I had disturbed his meal.  Just wait until he sees the metal trash can that I’m buying to replace the plastic tote.  Chew through that you little varmit!

 

Payday!

Today is a day to roam from one task to another in an effort to catch-up and maintain some semblance of order and peace in our life.

First, off to the grocery store to help shop for a home for handicapped kids and adults – one of my part-time jobs.  That makes every Wednesday a small payday of it’s own.  This year I’m making it a game to see how much of our grocery supply I can provide off of this small check.  We are eating through the freezer and pantry to see how far we can stretch without a major shopping trip.  Any money we save from this will go into our newly opened savings account!  We haven’t had a savings account in many, many years.  Now, we have one, albeit a small one.  I’m counting it as a major win in our effort to live more intentionally and be more fiscally responsible.

Next, a major push to catch-up on the homeschooling front.  We had a lot of fun during the holidays celebrating with family and friends. I’m sure we learned more than a thing or two, but…we didn’t actually do any of the “official” school stuff that I had written in the planner.  Now, we are trudging through.  As always, I’m not putting too much emphasis on the books and worksheets.  They can be useful, but are not the be-all and end-all of learning.

Finally, I’m going to work on clearing out the studio in preparation for a weekend renovation binge.  Friday is the big payday and I get to buy the paint and flooring to finish out the space.  I’ve decided on white paint for the walls, placid sea (blueish) for the cabinet, and citrus peel for the shelves.  The floor will be black and white linoleum squares.

Payday is always exciting around here, but this one will be especially welcome.  I can’t wait to have a new space to work in.  I have lots of projects in mind!

I am feeling extraordinarily creative at the moment.  Not sure what’s prompting it, but it is a welcome change.  Perhaps the increased meds are helping.  The cloud seems to be lifting.

Life is good!

Just more crap or looking for the beautiful underneath it all…

Found while working on the house today –

a lost can of Pringles turned ant farm underneath a bed

another stash of “special” hand-made paper squirreled away for the “perfect” project – being turned into art cards right now.  No more waiting for “perfect”

a bag of miscellaneous canned goods bought for Thanksgiving – obviously not needed.  Not things we use regularly so going to the food bank.

a stash of treasures that my dogs were hoarding under the sofa.  Ugh.  No further description provided.  You can thank me later.

three bags of clothes that someone gave me.  I forgot about them and need to go through them.  Or maybe not.  We’ll see if it ends up in the giveaway tomorrow.

another sack of plastic grocery bags to be recycled.  Why can’t I remember the reusable ones that I have?

a bee in a plastic bread bag that my dog dragged out of the trash.  Maybe the bee found me?  In any case I got stung.

Break time!

Also decluttered today – working in my son’s room as he ponders his life journey and what he needs and wants to carry with him on the way…

  1. 3 shirts
  2. a bulletin board
  3. 3 sweaters
  4. a winter hat leftover from his football and baseball days
  5. a storage box (contents tossed)

I just know that there is a simpler, more intentional life in our future.  I’m just hacking through the wilderness that is our present in search of the beautiful.

Honestly, most of the time, right now isn’t so bad.  There is beautiful along the way.  Sometimes it’s just hard to see underneath the clutter!

 

The Return of the Crud

I felt sooooo much better yesterday.  I got quite a lot done.  I made big plans for today.

Today, the “crud” returned.  Maybe the cold is gone and allergies have flared up.  The first cedar pollen bud watchers have reported that the buds are popping.  Yes, the allergies are so bad here that we have folks who watch out for this sort of thing.

In any case, the fever is back.  I lay down for a short rest and slept 3 hours.  Nothing much was accomplished…

– other than some school catch-up.

Math is killing us.  We just aren’t making noticeable progress.  I have a pretty stubborn kiddo and if I hear, “I hate Math” one more time…

I’m going to sweetly suggest that we give it another go.  Maybe.

I did spend some time reading blogs about folks who are decluttering and simplifying and reducing waste and growing and cooking all their own food.  No waste. No additives.  All from scratch.  While chopping their own firewood for the stove in the home they built themselves.  With their children who are already doing advanced calculus in 3rd grade.  After hiking in Nepal for summer break.  And making their own laundry detergent to wash their clothes that they make themselves – 100% cotton, of course.

I’m not judging.  More power to them!  I’d be right there with them if I could figure it out.  If I could declutter enough stuff.  If I could get out of debt.  If I had started 30 years ago. If I could remember to water the plants right by my front door, much less grow a garden.  If I didn’t take a 3 hour nap.  If.

But hey!  I’m in a better place right now than I was a year ago.  I’ve paid down over $2000.00 on our debt.  Loads of stuff has left and I’m not hauling it in anymore.  I’m not “running with the crowd” anymore without trying to be more intentional.

I’m thinking about it.

I’m trying.

I’m learning to be “me” and live my own life –

with what I have to work with.

More power to me!

Gone today:

  1. a piece of wall art
  2. two sweaters – one of which makes me look like a melting snowman.
  3. a worn-out pair of p.j. pants
  4. used up some hand-made paper that has been waiting around for years for the “perfect” project.  turned it into guerilla art cards
  5. 11 small bottles of colored glue leftover from an art class and the plastic box they are stored in.

Hamster Wheel of Life

How has it been almost two days since I last posted?  It seems like time flies by so fast and yet nothing of significance has happened to write about.

…so busy running around the wheel of life like a hamster and never really getting anywhere.

But that’s not really true is it?

In terms of “significant” life-changing events, nothing has happened.

No cure for cancer found here.

No Mona Lisa painted.

Haven’t discovered the secret to world peace.

But the busyness of my life is the stuff of real life.  Things have to be done (sometimes over and over again) and although some of it doesn’t seem to be  all that important, life quickly becomes chaos if it is left undone.

Doing dishes, washing laundry, balancing the checkbook, paying bills, schoolwork, actually paying attention to loved ones, late night phone calls answering life questions (or pretending like you actually know the answers), running errands and dropping everything to fix a problem…

It all adds up to something important – this thing we call life.  One person doing what needs to be done in their life and touching another life in the process.  All connecting and getting things done and adding it all together to create something bigger and better.

I try to remember this.  I often fail.  Today I felt the tiny doubts and darkness start to creep in.  What’s the point?  I can’t “balance” anything when there is more need than supply.  I can’t keep up with all that needs to be done.  I’m losing ground and really tired.  I haven’t finished what needs to be done today and now it’s already tomorrow.

It is tomorrow.  Everything didn’t get done and yet the world hasn’t ended.  In the morning I can jump back on my wheel and start running.

Or maybe not.  Maybe I will choose to do each task as if it is taking me somewhere and not a pointless turn around the wheel.  I can choose to believe that my efforts are important and real and significant.

It is a choice isn’t it.

Not exciting.

Not glamorous.

Lots of dried on food, stains that won’t come out, missing socks, explaining a math concept again, chicken poop, dog hair, and someone asking, “where is my…”.

Or I can choose to see the home-cooked meal, running water, warm clothing, time spent with my child, fresh eggs, dogs that are excited when I come home and family that think I know more than I really do.

What’s happened since I last wrote?  Nothing much and everything!

I hope your journey around the sun tomorrow is more than just running on a hamster wheel.  I think we can change the world!

Decluttered on Thursday:

  1. plastic bowls
  2. a too-big sweater that I love, but someone else needs more than me
  3. 3 earrings – a pair that I never wear and one that has been waiting for a lost mate way too long
  4. a reusable grocery bag – got way too many
  5. a pen that only writes some of the time.  It seems to be the one that I always grab when I really need a pen

And today:

  1. underwear bought in the wrong size and never returned to the store
  2. an empty photo storage box
  3. a scarf – pretty, but I never wear it
  4. a pillowcase
  5. a shirt that I really, really want to fit, but no matter how many times I put it on is still too small

 

Festivities

Hello!

Did you miss me?

I’ve thought about writing many times over the past days, but was busy with the festivities and then recovering from them.

But, I’m back (sorta).

We had a great Thanksgiving celebration.  We sat nineteen celebrants at one long feast table that my son helped me create out of tables, desks and a door.  The food was plentiful and almost all good. Nothing is ever perfect, but it was close.

It was a fun mixture of family, old friends and new ones.  We played games, watched football, may have decluttered the inventory in the booze cabinet and…

for entertainment we had a guy breath fire and twirl a fire staff.  Betcha can’t top that!

I was fairly successful at keeping my perfectionism at bay and controlling my stress level.  Lots of cleaning didn’t get done and the house is a fair disaster now.  I do think the decluttering helped a lot.

I think I’m going to continue on with the game of decluttering five items.  There is definitely stuff that I have in readiness for a big meal or lots of guest that I never used last week:  dishes, linens, towels and the like.  Those can probably go.  And now that we are fully into cold weather, I’m finding some clothes that I don’t wear.  I pull them out, try them on, and take them back off again.

My health is moving to the forefront of my attention now.  Over the last six months or so I’ve been paying less attention to what I eat and one day of not walking become two and then a week and then a month.  During the holidays I ate whatever I wanted and can really tell the difference in the way I feel.  The fitbit is back on.  The veggies are back in the fridge. The carbs are going into someone else’s mouth.  I miss feeling good.  This tired, sluggish feeling sucks.

Celebrations are good.  Normal (boring) routine is also good.  I’m actually ready to cook a small meal, do some school, make some art, and read a book.  And definitely take a nap.

But first, I need to go finish the Thanksgiving dishes – don’t judge.  Most of them are done!  There’s just the odd glass here and maybe a few pans that needed to soak.  Maybe not for five days, but hey, I’m trying.  Remember, we are all works in progress.  Imperfect, but making an effort.

Decluttered today:

  1. 3 sweaters that are itchy (and ugly)
  2. 2 dessert plates
  3. some socks with no matches
  4. a wooden gate that is missing pieces and therefore doesn’t actually work as a gate at all.
  5. a box of thumb tacks