57

57 degrees today and sunny. Woohoo! Still quite a bit of snow and ice on the ground, but it is melting nicely.

Our water is on and we didn’t have any damage to the pipes.

The septic has thawed and working just fine.

I am definitely not moving any farther north. This was not my idea of a good time.

I celebrated today by ordering more seeds for the spring garden. We had just started our greenhouse at the onset of the first winter storm. It did well, stayed warm enough not to build up a significant amount of snow even without heat. Our seedlings stayed in the kitchen since we didn’t have time to finish the construction.

The chickens are much happier now that things are warming. Our coop is still a work in progress and has been designed for 100 degree summer days. There are things I would do differently as we finish it if I anticipated much of this type of weather. We didn’t have enough plastic to wrap the trampoline cover we used for the front and back. A heat lamp with concrete block pavers underneath it held enough heat when combined to the deep bedding method we’ve been doing. All our compostable stuff and kitchen scraps go in there so they do the work for us.

I’ve been learning as much as I can about permaculture through books and videos on You Tube. I can really appreciate the differences in northern and extreme Southern gardening now. Our rock-lined paths are pretty dangerous obstacles under layers of snow and ice. Heavy mulching seems to help things thaw faster so that was helpful. It’s also helping to absorb the water as everything thaws. The “waterways” I’ve been digging to help save water and divert it to our raised beds don’t really work for snow and ice the way they do for our heavy but infrequent rains.

We are learning as we go and re-purposing and salvaging as many materials as we can. It’s sometimes hard to watch the You Tube videos and see the beautiful gardens. We are just starting out and our set-up seems a little junky. I like the idea of making do with as much as we can without purchasing, but sometimes I wish it looked a little better. Baby steps, right?

Now that the water is on, it’s time to go catch up on dishes and laundry! I hope that where ever you are you are warm and enjoying fresh, running water. Both are a precious gift…

Peace.

adventure

I am thinking of the past week (and the coming week) as an adventure.

It seems a better way to think.

Not a disaster to be survived.

An adventure to be lived.

I’ll admit that we didn’t have it so bad. We had power and heat most of the time. Without that I’m sure I would have a different take on things.

We haven’t turned our water back on yet because our septic is not working at all. We have tried every trick we know of to clear the line. We’ve now concluded that it can only be a blockage caused by the freeze.

We’ll get through this. The lines are in the warming sun. The snow and ice are melting quickly. I’m collecting water as it falls off the roof just in case.

I’ve learned a lot of things. Today I learned not to stand under an oak during the thawing process. Those ice chunks hurt worse than an acorn tossed by an angry squirrel.

And in all my decluttering, the only thing that I got rid of that I wish I had kept just “in case” is a funnel. A funnel to be used for pouring boiled and cooled water from a pot on the stove into a container.

I’m glad I kept the extra towels I had been thinking I didn’t need. They came in handy for covering windows, blocking drafts and drying the floor when we came in with wet boots and clothing…and when we spilled water trying to pour it without a funnel.

The minor “prepping” that I did – mainly a stash of food – came in handy when not going to the store regularly. We had thought about not needing to stock the pantry so well since my daughter works in a store that sells food and we could easily get what we need on a daily basis.

There was the minor inconvenience of only having two solid winter outfits. I had minimalized my wardrobe because I have a washer/dryer and we don’t really have serious cold weather here. I have been wearing both outfits at the same time since this started over a week ago. Thankful for Febreeze.

Even though I had to haul out water to the chickens every two hours while the sun was up, I am grateful for our chickens. They were faithful layers until yesterday when they went on strike. They are loudly expressing their displeasure with the whole situation and I’m afraid they would attempt to fly south if I let them loose to roam. The coyotes are also unhappy about this whole situation and are searching out an unfrozen meal. The chickens are staying cooped up.

Please stay in prayer or positive thoughts or whatever it is you do for the people in Texas. Although we are thawing, this is not over. Pipes are bursting, there is a very real shortage of food and water, hourly wage folks haven’t been able to work and there are huge expenses looming in the coming weeks. Infrastructure, buildings, homes and more are damaged. The hard part is just starting.

I am encouraged by all the good news that I am hearing. Neighbors and strangers are helping each other. There are good stories being lived and told and most of them are not to be found in the news.

27

daily art journal page 2/17/2021

It is 27 degrees outside as I write this morning.

Sixty-five degrees inside. I’m getting ready to lower the thermostat. We had it at 62 as we slept, but raised it for just a bit to get the temperature up a little in case we lose power. We are trying to minimize our electric usage just in case it really does help the grid.

It’s a veritable heat wave. Right now the forecast calls for it to get up to 31 at 2. I might drop down to 2 layers of clothing inside if this warming trend continues.

Last night’s winter storm brought more ice. My son tried to make it into work. In an hour he covered the distance that would normally take 10ish minutes. He turned back and came home when he slid into the guardrail on the first bridge over the San Gabriel River.

It just started snowing.

Winter storm #3 comes through tonight. The forecast is for a “wintry mix”. I’ve given up trying to anticipate what’s next.

My husband has to go into work tonight. He’s supposed to be there at 8. The current plan is for him to go in during the “warm spell” at 3. There will probably still be ice, but the roads will be in better shape. He’s taking a “go” bag just in case he can’t come home.

None of this is a complaint. We have been so blessed. Our power has only been out briefly. We have stayed warmish. We have plenty of food.

I do wish that I owned a pair of gloves and a real winter coat and shoes that weren’t geared towards keeping my feet from sweating. I’m doing ok.

Socks works pretty well as gloves in the short term.

I’ve rigged a foot warming “heater” from some candles and a flower pot.

I’m using icicles for my iced tea. (I know – iced tea? I must be a true Southerner)

I am praying for the thousands of people that still don’t have electricity days into this disaster. For those who are alone and isolated with no phone or internet service. For those without water. For those running out of food. For the lineman and all others who are working outside to keep things running. For stores and their employees who are trying to keep the doors open and the shelves stocked as best they can. For frustrated people who just want to have basic necessities that we take for granted until something like this happens…

I’m thankful for the local fireman my son saw hand-shoveling snow off of our bridges to try and make the roads passable. (I’ve heard that there is no more salt/sand in our county to treat roads) For facebook which is allowing us to share information and resources. For neighbors checking in and opening their doors to share what they have. And so much more…

I’m wondering what changes I will personally make to be better prepared for the unexpected….and how much more “unexpected” shit is going to happen. I

A young friend recently said that she is tired of living in “historical” events. She has relocated to her third household to be able to have electricity. She’s spent the last three nights sleeping with her tortoise to keep him warm.

I think that we are all growing weary and I hope that we can become better at working together to solve our problems instead of spending so much energy pointing fingers and placing blame.

Our power is flickering…

Peace.

want

The definition of want according to Merriam-Webster:

intransitive verb

1: to be needy or destitute

2: to have or feel need

3: to be necessary or needed

4: to desire to come, go, or be

transitive verb

1: to fail to possess especially in customary or required amount 

2a: to have a strong desire for b: to have an inclination to 

3a: to have need of  b: to suffer from the lack of

While thinking about this post, I found that I was using the word “want” a lot so I looked up the meaning. It’s a pretty big word to be only 4 letters.

Having the definition in front of me clarified my thinking about “want” versus “need”.

I am in Central Texas.

I want it to be warmer. It is 14 degrees right now…up from 0 when I woke up this morning…I feel a need.

I still have electricity and heat! So many of my neighbors, friends, family and fellow Texans do not and have not had electricity for hours and some for days…I am not needy.

We don’t have running water (by choice). We turned it off at the road to try and protect our plumbing (we live in a manufactured home and there is no way to protect pipes in single digit temperatures). We filled our tub and containers with water. It is inconvenient, but we have what we need.

Melting snow to flush toilets and water chickens

I have a strong desire to be done with this winter event and to bask in the sunshine…

to not have on 3 layers of clothing in the house…

to quit going out every two hours to provide my chickens with unfrozen water…

to share my heat with those who don’t have it…

I want this to be over and for the next storm to not be heading our way.

I am “failing to possess especially in customary amounts”. 

I “have a strong desire for” life to return to normal.

I do not actually “suffer from the lack of” anything right now.

We are doing ok.

It’s hard to believe that this is real life…

Peace…

Desk

This post was actually started and abandoned many days ago during a relatively calm moment in a chaotic day. It was abandoned until now. The view outside that window is quite different…snow is piled up on the porch and icicles drip down from the window. I am in Central Texas and we are celebrating that the temperature is 19 degrees and the electricity has stayed on all day! Housebound, there is time to catch-up on things that have been neglected (like this blog). Change is afoot here at FaithAcre Studio. I am trying to figure some things out and move in a forward direction. Last year was tough – even without the pandemic…stories to follow, but for now I am completing this post and then getting back under a blanket with a mug of hot tea.

Right now – in this moment – I am at my desk.

It is not a serene and simple place to rest.

It is a reflection of my real life…a jumbled, chaotic mess of things to do and things undone.

It is also a place of hope and intention and change.

A place to get things done.

Where I am now is not the place I am going.

This new year I didn’t pick a phrase to define the year or set ordinary resolutions as I have done in the past.

I set an “intention”.

As last year concluded, I realized that I often felt like I had been riding in a leaky boat without a sail or an oar in hand in tumultuous, uncharted waters.

That was not a good feeling for someone like me.

This year I intend to do the best I can with what I have and extend grace to myself for I what don’t get done.

That’s it.

Simple & Intentional

I’m not going to completely renovate our house and get out of debt and become a famous artist and lose 75 pounds and get rid of my hypertension with exercise and …

I’m going to try and get rid of the stuff we don’t need and keep the house relatively tidy & comfortable most days.

I’m going to try and get our finances in better shape and know where the money is going.

I’m going to try and make some art because it makes me happy.

I’m going to walk a little bit most days and be more aware of when I’m stuffing food in my face because I’m stressed.

And right now, I’m going to put the pens on my desk in the pen holder.

The time feels right to think and dream and make plans that are subject to change.

Always change.

what happened?

what happened?

where have I been?

Those are good questions.

And I have some answers, but not nearly all the answers.

Let’s keep it simple…

Life happened.

Messy, glorious, heart-breaking life in all it’s wonder.

Right now, I am sitting here attempting to write, but mostly watching my flock of chickens scratch in the falling leaves outside my window.

It occurs to me that it might be easier to be a chicken. Their lives are definitely less complicated than human ones.

The complications can be challenging and sometimes even soul-crushing. Life can beat you down until you just don’t think you can handle one more thing.

Your brain is filled to bursting with things to do and things to solve and things to figure out and your heart is empty because you are all used up.

That, my friends is anxiety and depression in a nutshell.

There is too much and not enough at the same time.

So you just quit living everyday life and start reacting to this thing and the next thing.

And living the life of a chicken starts looking pretty good.

But, deep down I know that I don’t want to be a chicken.

I want to tough it out and live my life.

I want to live through the pain and know that the joy is coming.

I want to find gratitude in the midst of things its hard to be grateful for. I know it’s there…somewhere.

I want to figure things out and find the solution and not let the problem defeat me.

This has been a really, really hard year in a lot of ways (and I’m not even factoring all the stuff going on out there in the world)

It’s tempting to focus on the hard stuff and conclude that this is a “bad” year.

This has been a really, really good year in a lot of way…

Today, I wrote a list of all the good stuff that has happened this year and I realized that this is just a year…like all years are.

Years can’t be bad or good. They just are. A chronological succession of day that come and go…

The list included the “good” and the “bad”.

I found that most of the good was a direct result of the bad.

The “bad” stuff prompted me (and my family) to:

focus on simplifying our life by decluttering

spend less money and redefine our spending habits…our needs versus our wants

grow closer to extended family that we didn’t make time for before

build a closer immediate family unit

get better about asking for help for problem solving rather than going it alone

spend less time with outside distractions by limiting our information inflow (news, etc.)

spend way more time outside gardening and walking or just sitting and talking

It’s taken a lot of work to find gratitude in the midst of some pretty serious crap going on in my life and I’m sure that the work is not nearly done. I’m sure there will be a significant number of reactionary days rather the more productive and healthy “action” days.

I’m going to try and remember that I’m better off being me than being a chicken.

The complications are worth the effort.

the work continues

The sub-floor and laminate is down.

The inspector basset hound is testing it out.

Trim work and painting commences.

I know – we’re doing it out of order, but that’s the way things go around here sometimes.

The blind installation and closet build are all that’s left…except for moving very little back in.

I’m tired of stuff…really, really tired of dealing with it.

Almost done!

Changing Spaces

It is a season of change at our home

Middle daughter and her family moved into their newly purchased new home over the weekend.

Oldest daughter spent the weekend organizing her new hideaway now that we are no longer using it for storage.

And we are beginning repairs and renovations on the main house…our master bedroom to be specific.

Last night we moved everything out and into the family room recently vacated by middle daughter’s office and stuff.

I had a bit of a meltdown at moving everything and lamenting that all I seem to do is move, rearrange and deal with “things” no matter how hard I’ve tried to declutter and simplify. During the renovation process, I’ll continue to ponder and work on what we have and what we need and what to do about it all…

We’ve live in this manufactured home for over 15 years while raising a family and a lot of life has happened here. It shows. New sub-floor, flooring, wall repair, paint, trim are all in the plan (plus whatever new shows up during the process).

Out with the old.

In with the new.

Here’s to sawdust and paint drips and all things new.

the view from here

Monday morning.

The start of a new week – ready to go after a restful weekend!

This is what my Monday looks like…

Not pictured are the soon to arrive 2 year old, the home-school planning I forgot to do for this week, the hungry chickens calling to me, or the myriad of unfinished (and not yet started) projects all around me.

It feels like total chaos.

There was a time when I would have been paralyzed with anxiety over the whole situation.

I’m still not happy about it.

But, I have been working on approaching the whole mess without judgement.

This is the reality of what it is.

I am responsible for it, but the mess is not who I am.

I need to get it cleaned up and dealt with it.

I am not a failure or worthless or incompetent or…

Those labels still bounce around in my head, but I am working on quieting them.

And I am making progress.

There is a lot going on in life right now and I’ll never get it all done.

Life is not a list to be completed.

I’ll put a load of laundry in.

I’ll pick up the trash that my Basset Hound dragged out again. I’ll also pause and rub her belly because she is who she is and going through trash is what she does. If the trash had been taken out, she wouldn’t have waited until I went to sleep to climb up on top of the counter to get to it. Mental note: take out the damn trash before I go to bed.

While my daughter puts up the clean dishes, I’ll schedule her school assignments.

Then I’ll load the dishwasher up again while being grateful that we have food and my husband is essential and employed.

Hopefully, before the kiddo gets here.

When he gets here, we’ll do our morning snuggles and breakfast…because the mess will wait.

We’ll go feed the bok-boks together and check out what’s growing in the new garden beds “we” built. We’ll come in and change his clothes because he is two and it rained recently.

We’ll throw his dirty clothes into the next wash load and he’ll “help” fold laundry.

I’ll do the best that I can and work through it…

while remembering that everyone is worthy of grace and love and kindness…myself included.

I don’t yet know what tomorrow will look like.

I am hopeful that the mess will be lessened somewhat, but I’m sure that there will still be something left to do.