Where did it go? April, that is. Seems like the year just started and already the first quarter is over and done with. Now JC is getting ready to leave for the resort and I'm about to be alone with the dogs again - and part of me starts to plan for all that time. Will I work on jewelry? Sewing? Ride my horses more often? Work more? Hard to say... just like the months that just passed much of the time will just slip away before I can grab it. Don't you remember those summers as a kid when it seemed that time would never pass? Now if you dare blink an entire day is gone.
I've been getting some great walks and runs in this month. I learned that I need to do more running and walking for the sake of my bone density (another cruel blow by nature and time - as if I haven't spent just about my entire adult life doing weight-bearing exercise). The bone thing combined with the energy of these two dogs is enough to get me out every day that I'm not prevented by work or weather. We're taking longer walks now and branching out from the trails right around the house, and soon we'll be getting out for hikes in the backcountry, getting ready to head over the mountains this summer. Neither of these dogs has walked trans-Sierra with me and they'll both be great at it. There's nothing quite as wonderful as a dog on a walk and afterwards, a dog tired from a walk!
What do you think? Are they ready?
This month has been devoted to developing my social media consulting business. There's a lot of work to a start-up, even one worked from home, and I've spent quite a bit of time on Social Sierra, including setting up a website for the business. Like most people just starting out I spend a lot of time doing work that is not billable but I believe I'm going in the right direction and I have been learning that I can do many things I thought I might have to contract out. I get to use the VVR as a testing ground for much of what I advise others to do, which has catapaulted the VVR into a whole new social media catagory. We now have an active twitter account, a blog, a healthy FB page, a google+ page,and a monthly newsletter. We are kicking social media #$$!
We designed a new logo for the VVR, with a couple of variations, and that gave me the opportunity to tune up some rusty Illustrator skills. We're going to use this for new styles of hats, and on t-shirts & sweatshirts, especially for women. I'm quite happy with it as I wanted something that looked a little more contemporary yet still had that rustic look that describes the resort.
Now my next task is to develop a nice logo for Social Sierra. It seems like there are always photos to edit, layouts or designs to work on and I rarely take the time to just do some fun stuff with photos, using overlays and some of the actions I've loaded into Photoshop.
The newborn photos for HRC were fun - and now that the announcements are out it is probably okay to post a few of these. We have our refrigerator covered in these and love seeing her sweet face everyday when we get home. We get pretty regular photos via text and can see how quickly she's changing, but for us right now she is frozen at just about a month old.
We set up a regular little photo shoot for these and for the most part little HRC was completely cooperative and happy about it, although after a while she just decided to go to sleep. It gave me a chance to work with my camera a little more and to practice some of my retouching skills that have been lanquishing.
There is nothing like having a beautiful baby to photograph and I can't wait to get back down there and do another session!
Riding has been sporatic this month and who knows why. For the most part the weather has been great, maybe a bit windy some days, but warm in Bishop. Stuff always seems to get in the way but we are really scaling back in terms of our footprint and our obligations since moving out of Wilkerson. We are almost out of the saddle club - one more day of moving panels and the last of the stuff out of the shed and we'll be gone. I'll really miss some of my riding pals, but many of them are moving on as well - and having horses we'll always run into each other somewhere on the trail.
I don't know if it is age, or wisdom, or fear, or a combination of all three - but I bought a new helmet for riding yesterday. I know too many people now who have bonked their heads (and hard) and I have no desire to end up a vegetable in a care facility somewhere. The other bones might break but they'll heal (eventually) - it's the brain you have to be smart about. Can't say with confidence that I'll be using this out on the trail - a wide-brimmed hat is much more my style - but then, you never know what's going to happen on a ride. For now I'm strapping it on in the arena and if it helps me feel more confident pushing the edges of what Rhea and I can do together then it's worth wearing.
As April slips away I'm ordering some silver tubing and determined to work on a new idea for bracelets. I'm planning to get back to soldering (and yes, I know I've been saying that all winter but I'm not about to stop saying it - I'm going to do it!). Once JC is on the west side my evenings are my own again, no excuses.
I'm hopeful that future posts are going to be about what I've been making, not so much what I've been thinking.
When it changes here, it changes fast. And it can change again in another flash. This is one of the things that most attracted me when I first came to the eastern Sierra for a summer job, way back in 1980. I had spent the previous decade in southern California, the land of balmy sea air and perfect day after perfect day. I was longing for seasons that change and when my feet hit the ground in Mono County I soon learned that change could come at any season, any day. Snow in July? Not a problem. Sunny day in January warm enough to sunbathe? Not a problem. And everything in between.
But. I digress.
We are in full-blown spring right now. The famed eastside winds have been blowing daily, creating beautiful skies, a dusty valley, and making it impossible to maintain any sort of hairdo. Ponytails, braids and hats are de-rigueur. The wind gets old but unless you want to hide away indoors you just pull on a hat and go.
The dogs and I (and sometimes JC) have been walking a lot lately. For me it is part of the plan to get some winter flab off, and as for the dogs it makes it a whole lot easier to get work done once they've had a chance to burn off some energy. This is great walking country and we have a couple of nice routes that we use, each taking us in a different direction. I have a couple of favorites up near Mammoth too, that we use whenever I have errands to run in that part of the county. The valley is warming up quickly, and the ticks and snakes are coming out so we move up higher this time of year.
We were here at home for Easter and all we got to see of our granddaughter was a quick picture - and now that is probably the hardest thing about living so far away from our families. So many significant 'firsts' and we'll only be there for a few of them. Thank goodness for cell phone cameras, Skype, and Face Time, though... its easier to feel connected despite the distance.
We can see the changes in Hannah with each picture. Her features are maturing and she's awake and cooing and gurgling more now. I can't tell you how much enjoyment this brings to someone who never raised children of her own - it is magical!
This isn't turning into a blog about being a grandmother, but I think "being a grandmother" is about to get its own category!
Craft projects have been a a lull (if not a standstill) for so long now. My mom has come to my rescue with projects of her own, including an ambitious chalk paint project. We had a good time taking half a day to visit the Cedros Design District on the pretense of purchasing chalk paint (well, we really DID purchase the paint but we also had lunch at the Belly Up and did a little shopping too).
I only particpated in a little of the actual painting and from my understanding there is still some work to be done, but I'm looking forward to seeing the completed dining room set on my next visit. She chose bright cheerful colors that will really pop in the dining room. It is so fun to paint and redecorate.
Painting campers is still on my bucket list - at least one of my own to use as a studio someday. This one was shared on Facebook and was painted with chalk paint - isn't it darling?
To the best of my knowledge, this was painted by Angela Boone Leachman who lives in Louisiana. My plan is to find a sweet little trailer, gut it of everything but sink, counterspace and storage, and use it as a stand-alone art studio someday. No need to tow it around unless we move and if we do... well, then I don't have to box up the art supplies. Just pull it in, plug it in and get back to work!
On today's list, after I get off the computer, is to work on the seahorse pillow and to stencil the Alabama Chanin tunic I cut out earlier this year. It is a light colored tunic that will be great for spring as soon as I can get it stitched and sewn. Always the impatience to get another piece completed.
April is flying by and soon my hubby will be locked in at the resort, I'll be doing trans-Sierra visits, and summer will be rapidly approaching. Yikes, thinking ahead too far just makes my head spin!
Oh dear readers, its been a tumultuous couple of weeks. I'm no spring chicken, a point which is being hammered home almost daily lately. It is all I can do to keep exercising, stay positive, keep smiling and keep a stiff upper lip! My only consolation is that it happens to all of us and I am not alone in my generation. Who else out there is battling the mid-life middle, the various and sundry indications that joints, skin, muscle, and organs are not what they used to be? Who else vows daily to look past the face that reflects back from the mirror and who resembles oneself but is no one you know? Join me as we forge on towards the next adventure!
Enough of that. There's nothing to be done about it.
Instead, we look to this - a life just begun. Think of all I can do and teach this little one! Horses are in her future, I'm certain of that, and I hope she likes them as much as I do. It is magic to be a grandmother when I was never a mother - and I rue that we live so far away that we can't see her more often. Her mom is wonderful about texting photos every day or two and I download all of them to the computer and keep printing them out. We love this little girl. She has brought all of our extended family together as we share photos and anecdotes. I love the phone commercial that shows the little girl on skype or facetime in time lapse as she grows up to be a young woman.... I see us doing the very same thing with this little one and the ones to follow. I wouldn't trade this for being younger, so there's that.
I haven't mentioned Project 333 lately, but it has altered my wardrobe this winter and spring. I recently went through and packed up all the midwinter clothing that I know I won't be needing, added some lighter weight and color clothing from storage, and finished a skirt for spring. And although I'm not counting the clothes still fit easily into the tiny closet I share with JC, and the two drawers of the dresser we share. This is phenomenal for me - as anyone knows me well can atest. I've gone through life spilling out of drawers and closets, but this pared-down wardrobe is working very, very well for me.
And with each new piece of clothing I finish I get a little closer to shifting to the "25% handmade by me" goal. I just completed this skirt, another Alabama Chanin pattern and stencil and technique, and will be starting another piece of clothing soon. I am considering taking a Craftsy course and buying a kit for the Donna Karan jacket that comes with the class, but it is a bit of an investment that I'm not sure I can make it happen just yet...
I did buy a pair of Pilcro colored denim jeans from Anthropologie not long ago - they fit me so well and were a good price on a mustard color I'd noticed last fall. Not made in the U.S. I've vowed that my next pair of denims WILL be made in the U.S. - again requiring a certain outlay of cash I'm not sure I can make just yet. Luckily my 3-year old Converse skinny jeans are still holding up quite nicely. Thank you, Target!
Every time I go through the clothing stored away I discard things that don't fit well or that I haven't worn in a long, long time (beyond the corresponding season) - so the overall bulk of my wardrobe is decreasing, not just the 3-month selection. And I'm much less inclined to shop these days - knowing that I can make do just fine with what I already have in the closet.
The bummer is when something happens to one of those Alabama Chanin hand-stitched items.... like the one white long-sleeved t-shirt I have. Somehow it became spotted with tiny little spots of oil or something and no matter how much oxy-clean I use it is still spotted. I'm either going to have to stencil over the whole shirt or do some fancy sort of embroidery because I'm NOT tossing that labor of love away!
The dogs and I are getting lots of walking (and some running) in these days with the snow long melted and the days just right for getting out. Vida is such a joy and the two of them make such an odd but wonderful pair of companions. I was trying to get Vida to sit for this photo and she kept sprawling on the dirt, submissive and panting. I guess I wasn't quite clear about what I wanted! I am thinking that I will send these two to rattlesnake aversion training since they have been going out with me when I ride, and it is coming on rattlesnake season. I don't think it will take Vida long to understand, and Feather has already proven herself wary of snakes - we experienced one last summer at the resort and she took a wide path around it.
Riding has been excellent and I'm enjoying my new-to-me saddle. It fits me well and fits my mare well. My pal TA and I have been barebacking it on our geldings - tooling around her neighborhood like kids. Our boy is slowly putting the weight back on that he lost last winter in pasture and he enjoys the getting out and his new home with just one other horse, TA's mellow gelding. I'm so happy to see him looking better and having more energy - I guess he just didn't fit in with the herd out there in Round Valley. I'm looking forward to riding in the mountains soon and have been working with Rhea on trailer-loading. She's walking right in now, and right out - and seems unconcerned these days with the idea of getting into a tin box. I love the resources I have at Millpond - Janet Titus is one heck of a horsewoman.
Just about the only thing I'm missing these days is time to make jewelry and practice metalcraft. Somehow I'll have to find the time for it because I really do miss it. And I'd like to stock the etsy shop again. Our little cave downstairs isn't so cold anymore and JC is soon off to the resort so I imagine I will start spending some evenings down there.
And it seems that I am ending on a much higher note than I began this post....see what writing does? Gets all the ghosts out. Be gone with you now, despised thoughts of old age, and leave me to dwelling on all the great aspects of my life.
You'd think I'd forgotten how to journal with the length of silence on this blog. And the gaps in writing in an actual journal. For me, the queen of writing it all down, this has been a long dry spell. I look around for something to blame it on, but it all boils down to self-imposed "busy-ness". Trying to start not one but two new businesses (well, really just mulling over the 2nd to try and decide if it is something I want to dive into at this point in my life - but recognizing the niche is open and that I could probably take advantage of it), juggle home, being a new grandmother, working numerous little jobs to patch together some sort of income... instead of working smart I've been working like a hamster!
I read this, The 'Busy' Trap, recently and it hit home all too hard. Life is passing me by as I run on the wheel, chase the wind, try to grab the ring. I rarely see my friends - we are almost ALL too busy - and my time at home with JC is often spent with each of us glued to our laptops. So what to do? Stop it, of course. And here I am, writing a blog post.
We became grandparents last month - a life-changing event.
She is about 400 miles south, and already we've made two trips down to be with her and other treasured family, and it seems that it is what we will be doing for a long time to come. Watching her grow, anticipating her brother or sister in a couple of years, and figuring out how to make more time for her and then them. I missed out on parenting, but I don't plan to miss out on grandparenting! Our family has grown with the marriage of JC's daughter and long-lost family members have emerged to join the ever-widening circle. It is a beautiful, complex thing, this family; and not to be missed because I'm too 'busy'.
We've had a great winter in our little cabin. I got to have the snow I've been missing over the last few years (although admittedly, not much of it this winter), and we both felt a sense of relief that we're not drowning in our "stuff" right now. Moving out of a largish house was carthartic - we've been steadily discarding and I don't think we'll turn back from this. It really is refreshing to have less to take care of, tend to, fret over, move around, and tidy up.
We've enjoyed our beach time during our trips to southern California - taking the dogs to Del Mar's dog beach and San Onofre. JC has acquired three (yes, 3!) pairs of shorts that he regularly dons now. We found a dog-friendly hotel near the beach and we've found that the time spent near the ocean is very well spent indeed - it helps us feel like we've truly had a break from routine and are really on vacation.
I've gotten some eye-candy time in between visits, dog walks, and work. Anthropologie continues to delight me even though it seems that the displays have diminished in quantity in the past few years. It might be the individual stores - since I haven't been able to visit the bigger ones in Vegas and Los Angeles - but there's always something worth taking note of and the designers continue to re-use materials in novel, creative, and inspiring ways.
A new favorite haunt is Cedros Design District in Solana Beach. It is one street just blocks from the beach lined with galleries, garden shops, retail, architects, design firms, and seasonally, a farmer's market. One day I'm going to buy a pair of handmade Cydwog sandals from Cedros Soles, and this past trip I discovered Vintage Soul, with a plethora of repurposed goods from baby toys to iPad covers to jewelry.
Many fab items can be found at Solo, and I'm entertaining a love-hate relationship with a shop called Ta-Da. I'm working in retail now so I know that a lot of lovely vintage-looking stuff is coming out of factories in China instead of someone's backyard studio, so I'm more suspicious these days.
Driving as much as we do, I'm learning to push the edges of my discomfort in a car... I can't just SIT there! We've been downloading audio books from Audible.com and I've found that I can do a limited amount of knitting and/or sewing in the passenger seat. As long as the road isn't too winding or hilly. This pleases me as there are a stack of things waiting to be made!
An Alabama Chanin skirt is just about finished:
And a seahorse pillow has been started for the littlest pony's room. Photos to come as it becomes reality.
As spring progresses, I vow to walk the dogs more often, ride my horses more often,
visit with friends more often, and yes - blog more often!
We're living in a rented, furnished cabin this winter and the sofas, while comfortable and large, are vintage. They came with vintage sheets covering them, and then we tried this hodgepodge of throws over them - which had to be straightened and tucked and fussed over every morning.
One day I hit upon the idea of trying dropcloths. I know I've seen it somewhere before - Country Living or Pinterest - and we use a drop cloth in our truck to protect the back seat from the dogs. My very next trip to the big city I stopped in at our local hardward store and bought two of these:
I bought two since they are only 4 feet wide, thinking that I'd sew them together. I threw them in the wash and the next morning decided to see what I could do with them without sewing.
Voila! I put one drop cloth on the seat to the floor, tucking and pullling it all snug, then the other one draped over the back and also tucked and pulled snug. The entire sofa is now covered with a neutral, durable, washable cover for about $34.
LOVE it. So much that I'm high-tailing it back to the hardware store for two more for the other sofa.
Don't you just love easy solutions?
Our gelding is in pasture this winter and as a mustang who's always been able to maintain his girth - not unlike his owner - I wasn't worried about him thriving. Its a beautiful pasture at the base of the Sierra and truthfully I had more concerns about him getting too fat.
Before turning him out he had a check-up and immunizations, and had a little dental work done to make sure he could properly grind up those grasses.
And all seemed well through the fall, even though he was the low man on the totem pole of pasture hierarchy and got pushed around quite a bit. There was plenty of room and plenty of autumn grass.
Once winter rolled around the valley got some snow and a lot of cold. The grasses are pretty much gone for the time being and the horses and cows began to eat hay. That's when I noticed our guy was not looking as good as I would like. I think he gets pushed away from the food and isn't getting as much as I would like, so I've started supplementing his pasture fare with Integrity Senior, a great mix of vitamins, oils, and omega-3 fatty acids. He eagerly comes to the gate for his bowl of goodies,
and so do his pasture-mates, crowding the gate and stretching their heads over the wire in hopes of getting a treat of their own.
Its pretty hard to ignore those earnest faces and ears, but all the other horses and mules are looking pretty darn good and all my efforts are focused on our boy. He's eased his way into the herd and isn't getting pushed around as much, and I hope that with the supplements and the turning of the season towards spring, he'll do fine.
I'm putting together a plan "B" just in case, but spring comes early to the valley and I hope that he gets to stay out here with all this freedom to move around.
Meanwhile, I'll continue to deliver the goods and do my best to ignore the pleading looks and irrestible cuteness of the gate-rushers.
Having a puppy is so much fun. We've completely fallen for Vida and don't want her to grow up too fast. She's at a wonderful point in her life - pretty much housetrained, still dependent on us and very affectionate.
She's brave, but not completely sure about new things...
Like my studio area.
Its downstairs and I leave the door open when I'm in there to share the heat of the house. She'll come find me and sit at the doorstep, unwilling to take the big step down into the room.
She's so curious and she wants to be in there with me, exploring.
But she's just not sure she's ready.
In fact, she's pretty sure she's NOT ready.
She looks around for her buddy.
Asks for advice....
And takes the leap.
I just love this puppy.
For as long as I can remember I have been inclined to make things. I'm not alone in this inclination, but not everyone has this "urge". It can be a challenge at times to try and explain this need (yes, need!) to make to someone who doesn't share the drive, but it is such a joy to connect with someone who does. And over the last few years there has been such an explosion and validation of makers that has made it easier to understand and appreciate whatever genetic component determines us.
How can we encourage a culture of making at the same time we are becoming so digitalized? For myself it is the perfect complement to work that is based on the computer and tablet. I love stepping away from the screen and back to the project at hand, whether it be fabric and thread, or metal and heat, or paper and glue.
I wish that I sketched and painted more these days and I always think that I will, but something's going to have to force me there. I need a class, an instructor with assignments and deadlines, something more than just my unfocused desire.
Thanks to my husband I now have a work table downstairs in a newly insulated laundry / closet / storeroom that I can use as a studio space for soldering and other work that I just haven't had a space for. It's just that it has been so dang cold that unless the dryer is running I can't be down there for long. I have to time the laundry with my making time in order to render the studio useful. That will change - it'll begin to warm up with the changing of the seasons - and I'm happy to know that the space is there.
This winter has been all about fabric and thread. This project, part of my vow to wear less, wear American, and wear what I make, has been quite the investment of time. I started this way back at the VVR - cutting out the pattern on the restaurant tables we had pushed together for the closing staff.
I stenciled the fabric on the dining room table of our winter cabin. The stencils have been a challenge for me - I first tried making my own stencils by cutting the pattern out of plastic with an xacto knife, but that was difficult. I couldn't seem to get the shapes cut out smoothly. Our local Ben Franklin store carries a few stencils and I've found a couple that I like - this is one of them. Another thrift store score was a couple of Ralph Lauren wall stencils. And finally I ordered (but haven't used yet) an Alabama Chanin stencil.
It took an entire sharpie to stencil both sides of this smock! And then the sewing began. Hours and hours of movies and favorite TV shows, spools of button and craft thread, and the steady movement of needle and thread through fabric.
My husband is a little disappointed that I've left him with only one fingerless glove this winter... I knitted one up while on the road in October, then started this project and the knitting has been left unfinished. There are only so many hours of "making" available in a day, though.... work, and housekeeping, and dogs, and horses, and the great out of doors are all competing for time.
And before this project is even completed the next one is begun.
Because a maker doesn't like to have gaps between projects.
I'm glad to be part of a community of makers - call us craftspeople, artists, whatever. I love seeing what other people dream up and enjoy that the same thing can be created a million different ways. I miss my "Art and Soul" retreats with my sister, an incredibly talented maker.
My husband is getting it - this isn't a hobby or a dabbling. The need (yes, need!) to make things is part of what defines and validates me. There's no question that I'll have a project of some sort going all the time. Traveling? No problem. Take along a small project. Finding time will happen. I've always been good at making time for myself (call me selfish) but I believe it makes for a happier person and a happier person has the capacity to help others be happy.
The internet and the explosion of visual sharing has been inspiring. I'm no longer limited to retreats and the people around me in our small community (although there is plenty of artistic inspiration around these parts). Pinterest, Facebook, and the RSS feeds of the blogs I follow provide daily creative candy.
Before I can even complete one project there's another one begging to be started. Like books, which I always used to worry about (that I'd read all the good ones and there would be nothing left), there seems to be a limitless amount of creative energy, ideas, and inspiration out there. My challenge will be to not pile up so much fabric that I can never use it all, to not stockpile stencils that will molder in storage. To not fear the space between projects.
Are you a maker? Do you keep a blog or a Pinterest account? If so, let me know.
Sometimes you don't get to plan, sometimes you just have to roll with it. Like getting a puppy at the beginning of winter.
Vida came to live with us just as the snow began to fall, which made housetraining even more fun. She had week or so of bare ground to break her in to the idea of going outside, and then she had to adapt to the cold white stuff.
She's been so valiant about it - trudging along in the paths made by her big sister.
And we took pity on her during the midst of the storms by shoveling off the deck and letting her use that as a temporary pit stop until we could get some packed down paths.
Her coat quickly thickened and she began to enjoy her outings with Feather.
They both like to bury their faces in the snow, sniffing out little twigs and pinecones, biting at the snow. They love icesicles that we knock from the eaves.
Once the snow would hold her and we weren't so concerned about her disappearing into a drift, she began to relish her time outside.
Vida is an observant student, taking notes and learnig from the pro.
She still isn't crazy about those below freezing night trips outside, but when the sun is shining and it warms up on the deck - she is having a blast in the snow.
And she's learned to be really quick about her business.