Sunday, December 30, 2012

Winter At The Farm: A Photo Essay

Winter at the farm is difficult. Travel to and from is more difficult. The work is more difficult. Most of all, it's more difficult on the animals. Their water freezes, their produce freezes, the size of their pasture gets smaller, they have to huddle for warmth.  But despite all of these inconveniences, there is really no place more beautiful than a frosty morning at Heartland: (click to biggify)
 Beautiful snowy fields at 12°.
Phil sees his breath when he crows!
Did you SEE that??!
Why it's cold enough for chickens to stick together and make one big chicken with two bodies and one head!

 Frances and Amy are thankful that we put hay out. Grazing through the snow is hard!

Gracie nestles down in a patch of sun to enjoy the morning. Pretty girl!

Mischievious Beatrice and Maxine dare you to put your tongue on the fence!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas in Maine

Had a wonderful Christmas in Maine. We had a couple of storms along with some adventures in power outages and alternate heating, but aside from the glitches, it was so nice to spend time with Mum, Grammie and many dear friends. Marilyn stopped by one day to visit. We had a spaghetti and meatball supper one night with Elinor, Gail, and John and went to Art and Reneva's open house on Christmas Eve.  Gail and John went to church with us afterward and I read a part of the Christmas story during the service. It was different this year; read part of the story and then sing a related Christmas carol.  Silent Night by candlelight at the end. It was beautiful.

Flying home was an adventure with the big storm that hit the East Coast the day after Christmas. Bangor was beautiful, LaGuardia was dicey, but Detroit was a disaster. I met up with Steve at the airport. He was coming from Christmas with his family in Boston.  Our flight got cancelled and we ended up getting a room overnight and booking a flight for the next day to Milwaukee and  then driving home to Madison. It was a long couple of days, but we traveled pretty well least neither of us was harmed... so it was all good! Thank goodness he was there with me. I would have hated to deal with all that alone.

Ben was glad to see me when I picked him up from the kennel. He was exhausted and so was I so a nap was the first order of business! Grammie sent him a hedgehog that made an odd honking noise... for about 5 minutes until he tore out its jugular. He hauls its carcass around everywhere, it's his new favorite thing. Sorry lady bug and Froggie!

Went to the barn last night and, despite the cold, it was so good to catch up with all of the feathered and fur babies again. The llamas are spending the night back in the barn again and let me pat them (after I bribed them with sweet feed), mini-pig princesses, Lola and Lucy, let me tuck them in beneath their warm blankets before I turned out the lights and went home. Even Maude the standoffish goat let me snuggle her. I like to think they missed me as much as I missed them.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and got to spend it with family and friends.  Have a safe and happy new year!!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Telling Yuletide Anecdote

Hmmm...I register that I have been under a fair amount of stress lately; what with the goings on at work, the food poisoning incident, the damaged shoulder, getting Christmas boxes out, and everything together so I can leave for a week etc., but I just had a very telling conversation with a couple of co-workers that brought home how it is truly affecting my state of mind.

I was expressing my woe at an annoying penchant that folks have of emailing me, 10 minutes after a meeting with them is supposed to start, to reschedule said meeting to a later time or another day entirely. As  many times as this has happened, I'm still not quick enough to catch on, so I loiter around the appointed meeting room for 15-20 minutes, waiting for the erstwhile person, before I think to check around to see where they are. Rude!  Rude! Rude! My coworkers' were having equally disrespectful annoyances hinder their day and so we were trading peeves.

Then one of the girls said, " There should be a club". 

I piped up, "Yeah! With nails in it!".

They both looked at me like I was a lunatic. They were talking about a club where we could have wine and chocolate, share our feeling and commiserate with each other. Very Kumbaya.

I, on the other hand, was ready to soundly thump people with a stick embedded with sharp and pointy objects. No discussion necessary.  Quick and efficient. With all I have on my plate, I don't have time to mess around.

I'm thinking I should maybe concentrate on enjoying the Christmas cheer a little more rather than getting so bogged down in the swale of details. Maybe some 'special eggnog' will help me de-stress.  If not, maybe there's a club.

PS-Not my drawing, although I'm flattered by the  folks who thought it was. It's a free clip art piece from the interwebs.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Navel Orange in a Bikini

When I first saw Donna Hornsby's 'Keenies' pattern I thought of this....and happened and I didn't get around to doing anything about it until today.  I was reminded again when The Diva asked us to use Keenie's in the challenge this week.  A little backstory...

When I was young, there was no computer, barely any TV (we lived in the wilds of Northern Maine where nothing much would come in except PBS out of Bangor and CBC out of Nova Scotia) and lots of quiet time. My friends and I would draw 'Guess What' pictures for each other. Often ones we had seen in the newspaper's weekend comic section.  They were REALLY STUPID but our pre-teen selves thought they were amazingly funny and scoured the paper and our imaginations for new ones to amaze and amuse each other.  Here are some fine examples:

Told ya. Not exactly rocket surgery but it was a way to pass some time.

So when I saw Keenees, I had a 'Guess What' flashback to one of my favorite ones:

This one was mildly R-rated for elementary school.  That's probably why we thought it was hilarious and why I remember it...along with some really great fart jokes.  Anyway...when I saw Keenees, the first thing I though was "OMGosh, those needs some tops.  Here is a quick and dirty (sic) version or my solution to the problem.
I think it's a complimentary/alternate design that could have it's moment, especially as the colder weather sets in and we dream of warmer climes.   Thanks for indulging my reminiscent ramblings and  letting me get Topz out of my head!

Monday, December 03, 2012


This week's Diva Challenge is to use "Keenees" pattern in a tangle. It's the round balls with the triangle inside at the bottom of the the tangle.  If I remember correctly, it was named because the triangles look like bikini underwear. *Blush* Anyway, here is my attempt,

I thank The Diva for this challenge. I really needed a 20 minute break from the work of the evening.  Keep 'em coming Diva! You rock!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Diva Challenge: No Strings Attached

This week's Diva Challenge was to create a tangle without putting down a string first. Fortuitously, I worked on this all weekend and it started without a string.  I did a few spiral designs, then added starfish and sand dollars and filled the background in with the rock and seashell pattern. It's  called 'Cockles and Mussels' and was created by the fabulous Margaret Bremner.  It is one of my go-to designs. 
Low Tide At Lincolnville
I suppose it's kind of a cheat to submit something you did 3 days BEFORE you knew what the challenge would be, but so be it. Maybe I have precognitive abilities (or ESPN as my 5 year old nephew used to say)! Whoa! Yet another superpower!

 Thanks for another wonderful challenge, Diva!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Zinger Challenge

This week's Diva Challenge was to use Zinger (which is the plant tangle coming out of the shell).  I haven't done a challenge for a few weeks now so it was good to get back in the swing. I even used an official Zentangle tile! Thanks for the great challenge, Diva!

The Evolution of Zendalas


Thursday, November 08, 2012

Too Much Fun

Is there any such thing as 'too much fun'?  If so, I think I'm having it. And my Mama always said that 'nothing good ever happens after midnight'.  I beg to differ.  My company has an employee art show in December. I am entering several Zentangled and Zentangle-Inspired pieces.  They always have an art challenge as well. One year it was to decorate a mask. One year it was one of those little wooden beaded human model sculptures. This year is to 'decorate a lab coat''. All of that pristine white space...and me with a Sharpie....a match made in Heaven. SSSSiiiigggghhhh.....

Fortuitously, I had just gotten a book by Mark Kissler about cartooning and shading that I had wanted to play with it, so I decided that rather than tangle the coat, I'd just 'doodle' it like I would a notebook during a meeting. There are birds, bugs, etc.- in no rhyme or reason of order. I don't even care if no one likes it, I am having so much fun with it. I've been up waaaay past bedtime the last few nights and nothing else at my house is getting done as I doodle the hours away.  It's a work in progress and I don't want to think about what will happen when I run out of lab coat.  You are supposed to decorate the front OR the back; I may have to do both...and the sleeves...and the inside!

Here is the overall coat.

 Upper pocket. As you can see, no rhyme or reason... submerged chameleons, divers and mice OH MY!
 Lower right pocket. Miss Glump, the frog. She's on a diet. You can tell by the way she's eyeing those dragon flies, but not eating them.
I don't know what to heck these things are, but they have great balance and enthusiasm.

 I'm contemplating drawing a soccer ball, a la 'Wilson' under the tree. How that guys is finding all of those coconuts in one little tree is beyond me.

Cecil, Lawrence and Dave discussing the fact that the guy marooned on the island is only 3 inches from the mainland. Oliver is flying over ogling Dave's new hair piece.
Below the breast pocket and under the sea
This is Howard on the lower left pocket. I knit him those socks.

So to recap: sleep depived and losing my mind, but having a ball with the latest project. Note to self: hire someone to vaccum!

Monday, November 05, 2012

Gettin 'Er Done!

This weekend was about finishing projects so I could start new projects.  I spent all of Knit Night knitting
brains for my 'thinking cap'. I am very nearly finished and will be able to start my next project, mittens, soon.  Friends gave me a beautiful yarn bowl  for my birthday and I already have it loaded up with the new project yarn. It killed me to not be able to start it last night but I should be able to finish with the brains tonight. 

We are having an art opening at work in December and the Employee Art Challenge is to decorate a lab coat.  I wanted to get it started, but there was the small problem of this guy...


I did this back in April all except for coloring in the border. It was so mind-numbingly tedious, that I put it in  time out and forgot about it. Since I wanted to put it in the art show, it had to be finished before the lab jacket got started. So I spent 6 hours finishing the border and then shading the giraffe, but I finally finished!  I am disappointed that I did this one before I learned to open up my patterns and was still drawing a lot of stuff micro-sized. It might be worth a redo in the future, but without the border!

Anyway, I was proud of what I got accomplished in and around barn duty and other volunteer stuff this weekend. How did your weekend go?

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Put On Your Thinking Cap!

You know, you always hear people say, "If he had half a brain, he would... insert whatever it is he would do here ". I finally have the solution!

This is my cubie-neighbor Carl. As you can see, he's not in his right mind so he agreed to model  this 'thinking cap'.

From a certain angle, he looks like he's fully armed for a battle of wits...

 But upon closer inspection...not so much...

THANK YOU! THANKYOU! THANK YOU! to Knittin' Kitten over at Purl's Patterns for the endless giggles I am getting from knitting this hat and playing with it. I'll get the other half  of the iCord on this weekend, but I couldn't resist debuting it a little early!
Have A Wonderful Thought Provoking Day!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I am SO EXCITED. I have been working on this sweater for over two years now. Poor Scott has been waiting patiently as I knitted and ripped the thing a million times. I finally finished it in time for his birthday. I wasn't there when he opened it, but he posted this pic (which I have shamelessly stolen) on FB and it looks like it fits great!
He looks like a male model! Not bad for only my third sweater and my first real foray into cables!!

 I made some grody Halloween treats this afternoon. These are bloody Band aids. They didn't come out so great but folks will get the idea.
 These came out great but are so gross! Dirty Qtips! (Mini marshmallows on either end of a lolly pop stick, dipped in melted peanut butter chips.
 I loaded them up with lots of 'ear wax'.
On both ends! Ewwww!!!

Happy Halloween Tomorrow!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Odd Weekend

This weekend just felt really odd and surreal for some reason. For one, I didn't follow my little Rain Man schedules and routines, so time and chores were all out of whack and I saw some of the oddest things...
I covered a barn shift that I don't usually on Saturday. The volunteer who had been keeping Rosie at her home while her boo-boo foot mended brought her back to the barn.
We were awfully glad to see her and her ducky friends were ecstatic. They all huddled and talked over her absence before going out in the yard to go over any changes that had occurred in her absence.
Saturday afternoon I went to Last Saturday Knitting with the Knit Chicks. although I swore I wouldn't do it, I started another secret project and ended up knitting iCord all afternoon.  My Knit Sisters made it more than tolerable! When I got home I put the finishing touches on my entry for the Decorate a Paper Pumpkin contest my dept is having at work.

Sunday morning it was gorgeous but only in the low 30°s at 8:00 when I left for my barn shift. This was sailing right over my house. And I do mean SAILING. It was really moving! I noticed a bunch of folks across the street parked on the golf course. The balloon went over the course at a pretty good clip and everyone jumped in their cars and peeled out after it. I'm guessing it missed its intended landing spot. What a beautiful day for a balloon ride...clear as a bell...but I hope they wore their woolies!
Every other Sunday I go to the local grocer before I go to the barn and see if they have put any outdated product aside for us.  Heady from my rare encounter with the balloon, I was more than surprised to pull in the parking lot and find this huge horn of plenty!  I don't know where the pilgrims are that belong with that thing, but I picture them stomping around Mt. Horeb somewhere like two Puritan Godzillas. They'd have to be what? 30 feel tall?

When we got done with our chores on Sunday, Lola-the-mini-pig decided she didn't want to stay out with the goats in the pasture. She snorted and oinked to be let back in the barn and then she proceeded to toddle down to her 'bedroom' and burrow under her snuggly green blanket and take a nap. Just her little butt was sticking out.

Sounded like a good idea to me, so I went home and did the same...but I tucked my butt in.  You're welcome.

How was your weekend?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Some Tanglin'

This week's Diva Challenge was a fun one for me.  The challenge was to use only stripes as your foundation 'string'.  I made my stripes into a sort of a 'log cabin' string.  You quilters know what I mean. It looks like this:

 Then I filled it in with new patterns from Genevieve Crabe's weekly roundup last week. There are some really cool ones (as usual). I love the flower border at the top, the coral, the water, the buttons, the coffee beans, the Celtic knot, the bow ties. the olives the one on the left I messed up and created my own tangle.......Uh...oops! That's all of them! Great work you tangle designers! You rock!
After my Zentangle Retreat a couple of weekends ago, I decided to set down and do a piece that incorporated the techniques that we had learned so I'd have a record. The most valuable lessons for me were on shading although you can't tell that here because the scanner really makes a mess of it. The other thing I wanted to try was 'pop-outs'.  Diane Knauff, teacher extraordinaire, had a beautiful piece that she had done where she took one element of the design, enlarged it and shaded it so it looks like it's floating on top of the design beneath it.

As you can see, I met with varying success. But at least it's something to keep in mind and work on in the future.

It was nice to sit down and tangle last night. I have been working on a knitting project that I finally finished on Tuesday night. I'll post pics of that soon, but it sure was nice to get it off my plate. Although, as I was sitting around doodling, I did a quick calculation of how much time I have to get my Christmas projects done....EEEEK. Mittens and socks and jewelry, OH MY! Looks like doodling will have to take a back seat for a while!  How are you guys coming along on your Christmas gifts?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Zentangle Retreat

I spent the weekend in beautiful Mineral Point, WI at a Zentangle weekend retreat. The teacher was Diane Knaff from Madison. I encourage you to go over to her website and take a look at the beautiful things she's done.

It was a wicked rainy weekend so it was perfect weather to snuggle into a little studio at Shake Rag Alley School of the Arts and doodle away. I have pics of Mineral Point itself but will save them for another post. For today, I'll just show you the work we did over the two days worth of classes.

The morning of day one was a Beginners class where we learned the basics or tiles and strings and some different tangle patterns. In the afternoon we learned shading techniquest to make the tangles pop.
The last part of the afternoon concentrated on drawing with white ink and charcole on black tiles.

I love the way the jelly pen feels when it glides over the black paper.

On Sunday morning we learned how to 'deconstruct' the patterns that are all around us every day to make our own tangles for our work. On Sunday afternoon, we worked on Zendalas (Zantangled mandalas).  The first bit of the class concentrated on drawing our own mandala string to tangle in. I failed miserably as you can see below:

I even used a ruler, protractor and compass and still couldn't get it even!

In the afternoon, we worked on a prestrung tile; one that already has a lightly penciled mandala outline drawn on it. Much better! I tried to incorporated a lot of the techniques we'd learned over the weekend in one place. Better.

If I thought I was reved up last week in anticipation of this class, I'm twice as wired now. I have so many new ideas that I want to try out!!! If you ever get a chance to take Diane's class, I highly recommend it. What a stellar weekend!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Doodlin' Around

 I have been so excited about my upcoming art retreat, that I haven't been able to simmah down all week, Deah!. I have a lot of work stuff, and home stuff to do and doodling doesn't really fit into my schedule this week but it's all I can think about.  So I set aside 30 minutes (5:15-5:45) each morning this week to doodle. The rules are that there be only one doodle and that it be finished quickly.  If I finish in 10 mins, I'm still done... no fine details-just get it out of my system for the day. Here is Tues, Wed and Thurs' endeavors:




I've got my tote bag packed with more stuff than I'll be able to use in a month; sketch pads, cards, pen, pencils, books...I'll only be there one night but am looking forward to being in a place where there are no chores or distractions    and no TV...just focused,  unadulterated, self-indulgent doodle time! Squee! It's good to be me!

DaVinci DaVotion and Lunchtime Luck

Although a lot of other groovy stuff happened, the main reason for going to the Mississippi River Museum was to see the traveling DaVinci e...