Tuesday, July 28, 2009

inspiration . . . be inspired . . .

I recently received an email from young lady we hosted as an exchange student. She wrote that she reads our blog, and has been inspired by it several times. This is part of the response I sent back.
The blog, which chronicles our "move to the country" was intended to do just that. To inspire. Not necessarily to inspire others to move to the country, (which is a good move) but to inspire others to do what they set their hearts on doing. In contrast, fear usually grips people and they feel stuck with fulfilling their family mission. They are afraid of the financial aspect of moving, of losing friends, and just plain afraid of change . . . I know so many people that feel stuck doing what they feel like they have to do, instead of what they want to do. Certainly I am not talking about being irresponsible, but given that God gives us plenty of choices in our lives, we get to decide how we are going to spend our time. This blog has been a great testimony of our desires turning into reality. We set out to value something and have now started that process with our actions.
Many times we think that our lives have been planned for us, and that we are bound by some, or if not all of our circumstances. And sometimes we feel that God has given us a "lot" in life and we must endure it, whether we like it or not. Truth is, God has given us aspects of our lives to sanctify us, challenge us, and mold us. But then He has also given us free will to choose many parts of how we will live. Choosing to do some things as a family means that you are also going to be choosing NOT to do some things with others. That's not new news. Fear however, should not guide our beliefs and actions. Values should. For example, if you value family and family time, where is your family and how much time do you spend with your family members? What kinds of relationships do you have inside your family unit?
This year has been a wonderful challenge for me and my family. Being out in the country, and pretty much on our own, our time is not filled with church meetings, visits from friends, running to the stores, decorating, beach visits, and the usual busy lifestyle that we are all accustomed to. In fact, a lot of time is spent here together, doing things around the place. Deciding on the best way to house the chickens, watering and weeding the garden, and keeping up with the daily tasks of laundry, meals, and cleaning to name a few. This time together gives us PLENTY of time to rub elbows, AND to get on each others nerves. This has been a time for us to really see, and evaluate, what kind of family relationships we have. Sad to say, they are not great. Sad to say, we don't have the model family that others should emulate. We have a family of self-serving sinners that need grace from God to recognize the value and the need of each other. We have the desire to function well as a family unit, and we are getting the opportunity to work on it without most of the distractions we have had in the past. I knew this move to the country was going to require some change physically and was up for the challenge. I am looking forward to how it will develop emotionally, spiritually, and relationally as well. :)
Inspiration . . . be inspired.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

the creative process . . .

I like how I am all over the page with blog posts. Sometimes chickens, sometimes art, sometimes gardens . . . there just seems to be a potpourri of things to write about.

When I first started blogging, and throughout this process, I have sometimes thought about always staying to a certain theme. Helpful messages, chronicling our lives . . . you know, st
ay on topic like a good writer. I wrote something like this before, but it is nice just to write what pops in your head, spur of the moment kind of thinking and sharing.

Years ago when I tutored young students, I had them do this type of writing to start the creative process. I called it a Fast Write. The first few minutes of our session they wrote anything they wanted in a fast write journal. The goal was to get them thinking and putting thoughts into words on the page. I told them to not worry about spelling and grammar, but to concentrate on communicating what they wanted to say. We sometimes went back and
edited it later, but most times just left it as is. If they had no thoughts, and didn't know what to write, they were instructed to write "I don't know what to write" as many times as they could in the five minute exercise. After a couple of times doing that, they got tired of it and came up with something to say. I also wrote at the same time, practicing putting my thoughts on paper. I have/had so many pages of notebook paper filled with crazy writings, just like this. Maybe one day I'll post some of them here.

Here is another scribble portrait I did for a friend to give away as a wedding gift. A simple drawing of the couple, and a themed gift that matches the wedding invitation. I felt like I grew on this project and went somewhere I have not been creatively. Since I did not know the couple, or their style/tastes, I used the invitation to direct me. What came out was a packaged product that I was REALLY happy with. The drawing, card, frame, and
embellishments were all themed to match, and it came together almost like the Fast Writes from years ago. I just started . . . and then something came out.

Monday, July 20, 2009

personal, creative art . . .

This is the final piece . . . mat, frame, glass, and embellished with the person's name. These are the kinds of personal, creative artworks that I love to make for others.

Friday, July 17, 2009

re-connecting . . .

A portrait that I am working on for a friend. It is fun to re-connect with the ole pencil again . . . I haven't done portraiture in a long time. It's nice to be back struggling to get the likeness and the "sense" of a person on paper!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

being creative . . .

Lately I have been busy with my Etsy store. Wonderfully busy. It is probably way to early to tell, but this online store is turning out to be EVERYTHING that I have imagined it. A place where I get to create One-of-a kind items for others, be challenged in my creativity, sell my work, and have others really ENJOY the art they get.

Just recently I had a HUGE order for mini chalkboards and some custom letterpress blocks. The great part of this whole process is that people email me with questions and ideas about what they want, and I spend time creating the things that they are thinking. They take ideas from items I have in my store, personalize them, and change them to fit what they need them for, then ask me to make it! It is a creative, collaborative, community experience. Here's an example of a recent piece.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

from the garden to the table . . .

The eggmobile is finished, at least for now. The last few nights we haven't lost any to the natives, so I think the floor plan is working. The new floor is also making it easier to move in the morning. We move the run to a new spot, once they have gotten in for the night, then in the morning move the house to meet it. Once we open the small door, they have fresh ground to scrounge around on.

The garden is taking off now. We are able to have fresh lettuce each day for lunch and dinner, and I have enough raddish to last a lifetime! Ildi has been working hard to keep the garden rotating so that once we harvest something, she plants something else. Sort-of from the garden to the table approach.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

back in Ohio . . .

I had one of those "what on earth am I doing" flashes yesterday when I was working with the chickens. It happened when I finished putting wire cloth as the sub floor so that the chicken droppings fall onto the ground and fertilize the grass, which makes it easier to clean up as well.

The whole flash happened while I was waiting for the chickens to go in and roost for the evening. It was a full moon, I sat in my camping chair on the back acre of the property drinking an ice coffee and using my wireless Internet service. Two different worlds colliding it seems. I thought about what I was doing only two years ago and how different life here is now. To be back in Ohio after all these years, doing what I was doing last night, all seemed a little surreal.

Meanwhile, the crazy birds haven't gotten the idea that they need to go in the egg mobile. Instead, they all hover in the corner of the run and start roosting for the night. Again last night I had to pick them up one by one and put them in. I need to figure out a new plan.

Friday, July 3, 2009

five chickens later . . .

I think that we are finally done with the Eggmobile. We have made some minor, and somewhat major, adjustments. Tweaking it every other day to help save our little chickens has been the goal.

Two nights ago two chickens lost one of their legs. In the morning when I went to move the eggmobile, they were dead, with their whole thighs ripped off their bodies. From what I gather, an animal (probably a raccoon) is digging under the skid and yanking on the legs of the chickens to have them for a late night snack. I've heard of frog legs . . . but CHICKEN LEGS?

Yesterday, I spent some time building a sub floor for the coop. I ran some studs framing it in and laid some hardboard down as a floor separating the chickens from the ground. This morning, we had all the chickens we had last night so I hope this will solve the problem.

Another addition to the farm is the go-cart. My sister, who lives in the city, gave us the cart to store at our farm. It was the kind of "toy" that sat in her garage without being used. Around a week ago, she offered to let us "store it" out here and let the children use it. Really, it is her just cleaning house. For our children, and those that visit, it has been blast! Nolan mowed a path through lots of the tall grasses around the place making a track of sorts to drive around. Three acres of land helps when you have a go-cart.