Friday, August 11, 2017

Throw back Thursday, a day late

I'm trying to come up with a name for this painting but it's still so new so I'm going to give it some more thought.
For some reason I became obsessed with finding a vintage sewing pattern to paint.  I don't really know why.  I went on Ebay and found lots of them for around 4 to 7 dollars.  I decided to check our antique mall first.  I lucked out and found a whole box of them (maybe 20?) for $3.00, total.  I had all kinds of ideas for what I wanted to do in this painting but many of my ideas were a little beyond my capabilities so I decided to just go ahead and paint the picture of the 3 girls and see where it went.
At first I couldn't decide whether to make them look more realistic or keep it cartoon-like.  As you can see I kept it like it appears on a pattern, with each form outlined.  It was very relaxing painting this; almost like coloring in a coloring book.

As I went on I couldn't figure out what I was trying to accomplish with this painting.  James asked what I was trying to get across or how it made me feel.  I guess it makes me feel nostalgic for the old days.  My mom sewed many outfits for me and my sisters but I especially found it exciting when she made our Easter dresses.  I like these old fashioned dresses and the innocent-ness of them.  I'm sure I had a dress like that.

If I decide to frame this I may decoupage the pattern itself onto the frame.  We'll see.  I may play with this some more and then decide.  Maybe I'll add a pin cushion to go with the tape measure and scissors.  I like painting the shadows.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Rooster photobomb

I've been in a painting and blogging funk lately.  I haven't known what to paint or blog about.  My painting buddies have been on vacation and I guess I need their inspiration to keep me going.  Oh, I've painted some things, but nothing I've been very happy with.  I've been watching lots of video's of other people painting though and that's fun and sometimes inspiring.

Here's my most recent painting.  The whole thing is done with dots and small lines, sticking with a pretty small color palette.  At first it was fun painting and then it got boring so I added the rooster and, as Bob Ross would say, a happy little cloud.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Back in December I cut my index finger on the table saw.  Six months later, it's still very sensitive. I'm not the most cautious wood worker, but I'm much more careful since that happened.  It's good I need glasses to see what I'm doing because I often forget to wear safety glasses.  The painting I did today was inspired by my carelessness with tools.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Hog testicles, not bad at all

We were invited to dinner last night.  I asked the hostess what we could bring and she said, "nothing".   I hated to show up empty-handed so I thought I'd bring a little something I knew they wouldn't be serving but might compliment the meal.  I knew in advance they were serving pork, not that hog testicles wouldn't be a good addition to any meal.  Well, I know that now, but I didn't know that before I prepared them.

We've asked our butcher to save testicles from a few of our animals but we've never gotten around to trying them, until last night.  This is what they look like before I removed the membrane.
 To give you an idea of the size.  This was a large hog.
Here's what it looks like underneath the membrane, which you must remove or it will be tough.
I soaked it in a brine for a few hours but I don't know if it really needed that or not.  Many recipes on the internet said to, so I did.  I rinsed them and then sliced them into bite sized pieces, then dredged them in a mixture of flour, breadcrumbs and adobo seasoning and fried them in a cast iron skillet with butter.   James and I both tasted them before we took them and both agreed they were acceptable to share.  Actually, they were more than just acceptable.  They were pretty darn good.  Kind of like a chicken nugget.

I was shocked 7 out of 8 people ate them.  Some folks even went back for seconds and thirds.  Only one man wouldn't try them and he said he wasn't going to kiss his wife for a year after eating them.

I should mention, these were good friends we were with. I probably wouldn't have taken these to a dinner with acquaintances.

This was much more successful than our attempt at eating a kidney.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017


Most of you know I raise the livestock and James raises the vegetables.  We do, however, need each other's help now and then.  The past two days we had to take care of some things that required 4 hands and 2 brains.  Or maybe just one brain and 4 hands.

Yesterday was one of those anxiety-filled mornings of loading and driving a bull and 2 hogs to the butcher.  When we're done I'm always very proud of us but while it's going on it's stressful.  It was no trouble getting Franklin in the trailer.  He charged right in.  Unfortunately, so did Lennon and Mo and it took a while to get them out.  The pigs, Honey and Badger, weren't as easy but eventually we bribed them and they went in a side door.  Our livestock trailer is ancient, rusty and needs me to do some welding and other fixes to prevent animals from escaping while we're driving the curvy, mountainous route to Green Valley Butcher.  We've never had that happen but we always worry about it.  For all of this, James lets me call the shots and does what I ask (open gates, brings more food, helps close trailer doors, etc), because I know the animals best.  In 3 weeks we'll have approximately 200 lbs of pork and 600 lbs of beef so if anyone wants to buy some, let me know.

Today it was James' turn to be the boss.  We installed a drip system in his garden.  He's been working really hard on it this year.  He's put a tall fence around 6 of the gardens, got rid of all the grass paths, which are now mulch, and created smaller paths between rows so you can walk in the
gardens without stepping on things.

This drip system is pretty cool, but the air wasn't while we worked.  I don't know if I stunk more yesterday after mucking out the livestock trailer or today after sweating a bucket or two.  We laid out 4 main water lines and then attached many tiny drip hoses that go between the rows.  It's hard to see them in this picture.
We work pretty well as a team.  At least I think so.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Double decker desk

I could have sworn I blogged about James' desk in the past but I just did a search and couldn't find it.  Last year our friend David made James a beautiful desk out of a slab of cherry, accented with some walnut.  It's the lower desk you see here.  It's a beautiful piece.  David is a true artist.

James does a lot of his writing while standing, so for more than a year he's had an ugly aluminum stand up desk that sat on top of this beautiful one.  As you can see above, it's been replaced with another piece of art.  James and I love it.  It,  too,  has tiny walnut bowties at the cracks in the cherry.  One of the things I really love is the live edge with these little carvings in it.

I was at David's shop this week and saw his most recent cherry bedside tables, which are equally as beautiful.  I love the dainty little feet on them.

The next piece of furniture he's building for us is a dining room table.  I can't wait to see what it looks like.  

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Learning to slow down

Gosh, it's been 3 weeks since I've blogged.

The big news here is I've sold all but 2 goats, Luti and Pessa.  I decided it was time to semi-retire and enjoy quiet mornings, milking just Luti and Raisa.  Pessa is permanently retired and she and Luti will live out their senior years here and be companions to Rex.  Linus, Lily, Darla and Cato all went to the same home (which made me very happy) where they will be spoiled and produce milk for many years to come.  I miss them but I'm enjoying spoiling Luti and Pessa by giving them more attention and treats.  I think they're getting used to the idea too.  With fewer animals hopefully we can do a little more traveling.
We just returned from a 4 day trip where we met some friends in Asheville, NC.  What a great trip!  Asheville is such a great city with lots of great food, shops and art galleries.  Here we are at the Asheville Arboretum.
Visiting the art galleries really inspired me.  We saw so much great art.  It made me want to keep working at it.  I started this piece a few weeks back.  Once again, I'm trying to come up with a name for it.  James told me "Melting Pot" is too cliche. If anyone else has some ideas let me know.  I've really loved painting these children's faces.  Strangers are so much more fun to paint than people I know.

While I'm figuring out how to slow down, James is taking a little longer discovering how important it is.  After returning from our trip he's gone crazy working in the garden for many hours at a time, shoveling mulch, weeding and planting.  Because of this his back is crooked again.  Today he was sidelined.  This is kind of what he looks like.
This is the second time this has happened to him; both times after he overdid it in the garden.  Maybe his chiropractor will explain to him how important it is to take it easy.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Changing of the guard

I know I've spoken many times on this blog of how good Keri was at her job.  She may have let me think I was the boss, but she probably knew way more about the goings-on in the field than I.  I had no idea how much I'd learn about guardian dogs until we had Keri.  While all our house dogs have been loyal and loving, it's a different kind of relationship than with a guardian dog.  I think Keri would truly have given her life for me and James and the goats.  I won't go on anymore about her as a guardian because I've probably written it all before.

Yesterday was tough.  When I went to the barn I could see she was in pain.  It was hard for her to walk and even lie down.  She couldn't get comfortable and she had no appetite.  She didn't even scold the cows when they were where she doesn't like them, in my way.  James called the vet because I knew I'd cry when I made the dreaded appointment.  They said they could take her at 5:15 so we had
all day to think about it.

Keri loved being in our station wagon, though she hardly ever got to ride in it.  It meant she had me all to herself and she didn't have to share me with the others.    So at 3:00 I picked her up from the field, helped her in the car and drove back to the house.  We sat in the driveway with the doors open for more than an hour and a half and cuddled.  She was uncomfortable but happy.  James came out and she had one of us at each end of her.  I'm pretty sure this was heaven for her.
We headed to the vet with Keri in the back seat.  Even though it was chilly we put the window down for Keri so she could stick her head out when she wanted.
As always, the vets were kind and gentle with Keri and patient with my blubbering.  It was all very peaceful.

I wondered how Rex would be this morning.  When he didn't greet me at the gate I got a bit panicky.  I was afraid he'd climbed over the fence to find Keri.  I called him and he slowly came out of the barn.  He's never done that.  He's always waiting for me.  He went back to his corner and laid back down.  He wasn't interested in his food and he was grumpy with the cows.  I've never seen him boss the cows like that; like Keri, his teacher, did.  It will be interesting to see how he takes over now.  I gave him some extra loving today and told him he was in charge now.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


I'm not up to writing an obituary for Keri tonight because there's too much to say and I'm too sad to say it.  So instead, I'll just post some wonderful memories.

Friday, April 21, 2017

My piano man

I probably shouldn't post a picture of this painting until I call it finished but I wonder if I'll ever know if it's finished.  I've been wanting to paint a picture of James' piano for a while and even had a sketch of it for a very long time before I finally dug into it.  For those of you who don't paint or draw, a grand piano is really hard to paint.  It has so many angles and descending lines, and lighting changes constantly on these angles.  I'm still awaiting comments from my real artist friends for their input so I'll probably make some more changes yet.  For now, James seems to like it and that's all that matters.  Baxter hasn't said if he approves or not.

I've been painting a lot these days and it's hard to tell if I'm getting better or not, sometimes.  I'll just keep painting because it's so much fun.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Garden gate is finished (and a lamb update)

This garden gate was supposed to be a Christmas gift for James but instead I finished it on his birthday.  It's not that it took so long to make it.  It's just that I'd work on it a little and then quit until I got inspired again.  I had stalled for a long while and then a friend who likes junk and rusty stuff as much as I do came over and helped restart me.  Here's the finished gate.  At least I think it's finished.  We can't hang it until we put supports on the post it'll be hanging from.  It's a pretty heavy gate.
The frame of it is all steel.  The sunshine in the top left is a piece of rusty steel with a rusty funnel I cut and splayed and filled with marbles.  The wires on it were a hanging basket that I removed the rim from.  The butterflies on the top right are leftover roofing copper that I cut with an acetylene torch.  The whole lower half is made from copper and of course you can see the bed spring flower on the right.  The center of it is something I found on the garage shelf.  It looks like it covered a filter or something.
If you zoom in on the sunflower you'll see a fly made out of I spark plug.  I didn't make that.  A friend gave that to me as a gift years ago.

I haven't decided whether to clear coat some of it or not.  I won't clear coat the stuff I want to get rustier.  I learned a lot while making this.  I still have another gate to build.  I have no idea what I'm going to do yet.  Hopefully something will inspire me.  It will probably also be made out of rusty things and copper because, well, I like rusty things and copper.  It might be a problem.

Take this silly bird.  Who could resist welding broken hedge trimmers, a bike chain and lawn mower blades together?  I don't even know what that rusty piece is that forms the belly.  I found it in the garage.
You know your friends know you pretty well when they find an old washing machine in their field and text you to see if you want it.  Guess what I said.
I have no idea what I'll do with it.  It's a bit too bulky to make into a gate :)

I know some of you only read my blog to see cute animals so here's your dose of cuteness for the day.
When Bobby and Petey see me or James they think we should feed them.  This is their chorus.

I had a repair project to do today and they were a big help.  They weren't the least bit afraid of the noise from a circular saw, jigsaw or compressor.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Bobby Black Sheep and Petey

We've adopted 2 sweet bottle lambs, Bobby (or Baaahby) Black Sheep and Petey.  We're keeping them in the yard closest to the house until they're off the bottle.  It makes things easier on us.  It's nice to have 2 so they can keep each other company.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017


This is my grand dog and Baxter's best friend, Maia.  She's a boxer/rottweiler cross who absolutely loves the water.  She wears a life jacket in the river because she's solid muscle and it's a lot of work to keep her body afloat, though you'd never know it to watch her swim.  I'm pretty proud of this painting because it's the first one I've done with water and reflections.  It was super fun.  Here she is standing in the James River.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


About 2 months ago I attempted to paint James' portrait.  I messed with it for a week or 2 but couldn't get his mouth right, among lots of other things.  I put it away and figured I'd look at it again one day when I got better.  I got it out yesterday after another failed attempt at his portrait.  Well,
I finally finished it.  I think I got the mouth pretty close.  What do you think?
I couldn't decide whether to title this blog Jamester or Poochrait.  I should mention, neither James nor Baxter were offended by this painting.  I asked James' permission to use this in my blog.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Rex's Kids

These pictures and videos say it all.  Rex is a wonderful caregiver.  Keri is the fierce protector but Rex is a real softie when it comes to these babies, especially Mona, his bottle baby.