Saturday, December 27, 2014

2014: Year of Recovery

I guess I have always been more of a forward look type of person than a reviewer, but I have to say that looking back on 2014 has been revelatory for me.

We started out the year experiencing one of the coldest I can remember.  Of course that is when my sister and brother-in-law were here to enclose our patio.  Chuck's words were, "It's so cold there are no degrees!"  Not the usual for Oklahoma winters, but it was a crazy weather year all over the world.  We got the room closed in and set up the aquaponics system. We spent several months playing with that system and trying to figure out the secrets to success.  Mostly it was an expensive learning experience, although not as costly as some or as it could have been.

I did a LOT of art and wrote a LOT of letters throughout the year.  I participated in National Letter Writing Month in April and gained a couple of new pen pals from that group, then later I joined a small group called the Secret Snail Mail Society.  There are about 14 women in that group, and there have been many weeks that had it not been for them I wouldn't have gotten any mail at all!  Between Swap-Bot, Instagram, SSMS, and my regular pen friends, I have kept the USPS hopping this year.  I sent out over 1,000 pieces of mail between January 1 and today, December 27.

My art journey has been so fun, beginning with my first gelli-printing session in January and ending with a number of wonderful art journals filled with friends' artwork.  I really pushed out of my comfort zone, have done things I never thought I would do, and enjoyed the process immensely. I don't seem to need to do it every day, but I really miss it if I don't get to do some art during a week.

I spent much of the year being in pain of one sort or another.  I even spent a few weeks during the year hobbling around with a cane, but in October things turned around for me and I am doing so much better I can hardly imagine the other state now.  I won't say I am 100%, but compared to the 40% I was most of the year, I'd say I'm up to about 75% now.

I felt good enough in November that I convinced Ornery to go to Florida, where we enjoyed several warm and sunny days enjoying the gulf coast and some shopping. That was a turning point for me, and ever since we have been back home, I have seen little improvements almost every day. It has really given me hope.

There were other events through the year that I should probably mention:

  • Ornery's mom was in an accident on Mother's Day and broke a rib, so she stayed 8 days with us while she recovered
  • We finished our first year as landlords and were really sad to see our first renters move out.  We are still looking for a new tenant, five months later.  
  • We listed our house for sale, then removed it from the market, but not before painting almost the entire interior. 
  • Since deciding to stay, we have really revamped a lot of our living space to be more accommodating to our lifestyle.
We are really excited about some of the goals and plans we have made for 2015.  I mean REALLY excited!  Even Ornery, who isn't much of an emotional guy, seems to be pretty stoked about them.  Stay tuned, because a lot of them will be revealed right here.  Some may be a bust, like our aquaponics experiment, but it seems all learning comes at some cost, so I guess that is to be expected.  Hopefully some of them will pan out. 

I don't plan to be as absent from blogging as I was this year.  Things change, ideas come and go and life seems always to be in flux, but we are committed to giving some of our goals a good chance to succeed. And for that to happen there are a lot of changes on the horizon. We are trying to keep the most important things going, and focusing on them, which means a lot of the less meaningful and productive things will no longer take up our time. My outgoing mail for 2015 will (hopefully) be less than 1/2 what it was this year.  My time in the studio will be budgeted, and I have added other things to my schedule so I won't let things fall through the cracks, such as writing, gardening and household chores.  I'm hoping to add a lot more photo content to this blog, and help with Ornery's new blog, which will be up and running in a couple of months. 

And, I'm finally going to write my first book next year. I think 2015 is going to be great!  

Monday, December 15, 2014

A (not so) Little Update

In snippets:

  • We took a nice little week long trip to Florida for some beach time before Thanksgiving.  The weather was perfect (75 degrees) until the last day.  We updated Ornery's wardrobe for work at the outlet mall, checked out AC Moore for some art supplies, and had a nice little visit with Ryan over lunch one day.  Mostly we sat on the patio and watched the water, birds, dolphins and the occasional person or group who refused to acknowledge it was no longer summer. I didn't cook the whole time, and got a few little projects caught up while we were in the condo. We both came back refreshed and relaxed.
  • When we came home we decided that we were just going to have to find a different venue for funding more rental properties and took the house off the market.  It took our Realtor a whole week to get it off the listing from the time we asked her to, and in the mean time, we got calls to show it. (figures!) Since it has been off the market, we have had several calls from eager agents who would be delighted to list it again for us!  
  • We have been moving back into the house, in new and fresh ways since the walls ARE still beige! There are a few pictures to be rehung, but I've got my Kitchen-Aid mixer back out on the counter, my cutting boards are back in easy reach, and the bathroom counter is happily cluttered with essential oils, muscle rub, lotion and the odd hair accouterments. :)
  • Ornery completely rearranged his man cave (woodshop in the garage) and created more room for his hobby, and a better organization scheme.  He built a new little cart/shelf for his small scraps, and put wheels on the other scrap bin. 
  • I repainted my little headboard/shelf, and we re-installed it and the shelf that Ornery had built for my studio last summer.  I completely reorganized everything and put things in easy reach or more usable states than they had been before. Such a wonderful room it is!  Everything is so handy now.
  • We rearranged the garden room and are excited about using it this spring and summer for starting seeds and an assortment of other garden related activities. It's not an aquaponics room, but it will still be very much related to gardening.  We put the seed starting rack back in there, and added two tables for work areas.  I think we'll hang a couple of plants near the window and a gardening related calendar on the wall--what little bit of wall isn't brick that is. There are two chairs out there and when we begin having nice days again we plan to drink coffee out on the patio, like we used to before we converted the patio to a room.  We can open doors and a window to make it feel like being outside, or just enjoy the view through the doors.
  • The former guest room is now the Loom Room, housing both of Elizabeth's tri-looms, and soon her new tapestry loom.  Since I'm pretty sure she shouldn't be having all the weaving and textile fun, I plan to build a simple frame loom and do a bit of tapestry weaving myself.  I will also be putting the sewing machine and fabric related crafting items in there.  TWO craft rooms!  What an amazing luxury!
  • We still have not found a renter for 507. :(  Five months of paying two house payments is beginning to take a toll on our budget. Hopefully it will happen soon.  Meanwhile we have been over there pretty frequently doing various projects and attempting to keep the leaves under control.  Wow, that neighborhood has a lot of huge trees!!
  • Health-wise, I have been feeling great, have had lots of energy, stamina and an upbeat positive attitude. SO much different from last year!  I haven't really lost any weight, but the inclusion of a couple new supplements has made a huge difference in managing my pain level!  I felt good enough to invite and entertain guests for dinner a couple of weeks ago, for the first time in ages! I have been cooking a lot more, and been more interested in life in general. My hermit tendencies have begun to fade and I have started actually looking forward to going out.  I can still stay home way longer than is probably healthy without remorse, but at least I am not avoiding life like I had been.
  • Thanksgiving was quiet, with just Ornery's mom, Ornery and me.  Mom brought over a bit of smoked turkey and some dressing, and I fixed sweet potatoes and ambrosia.  Both Ornery and Mom brought non-traditional pies to the feast, and no one went away hungry!  We worked a fun new puzzle and had a nice visit.  
  • Christmas plans aren't much more exciting. Elizabeth and Michael will join us, along with Mom and a single friend of the kids.  We are going very small on the gift giving, and for the meals that day we will have a "My Favorite Breakfast Food" brunch and then stew and biscuits for dinner/supper.  I'm sure there will be a puzzle. :)
  • Ornery isn't taking the last two weeks of the year off, although he does have some vacation available, but he has a long weekend around Christmas, and 1.5 days off for New Year, so there will be a bit of sawing and playing going on in the man cave, I am sure.
  • I signed up for an Art Journaling class online and have been enjoying it.  I haven't actually had any time to sit down and do the lessons, but I plan to as soon as Christmas is over and the mess from it is all cleaned up.  One thing about having our house on the market for 10 weeks, I got used to keeping things clean, and I don't think it is bothering either of us to keep it tidy now. 
  • We didn't send out Christmas cards this year, and the (very) few we receive will get a personal letter in return. I am still writing to several pen pals and doing swaps.  So far this year I have sent out 977 pieces of mail.  I don't know if I will hit 1000 by the end of the month or not, but that is a ton of mail!!
  • We are cooking up some fun stuff for 2015, and I do plan to blog more frequently.  Stay tuned for updates in that arena.
Here are a few pictures.
Sinrise in Ft Walton Beach

Our little Christmas tree

One of Elizabeth's latest shawls

This just came off the loom yesterday. It has five different yarns in it, one of which has tiny square beads wound in the yarn. It is beautiful in person.  I have listed several of her shawls in my etsy shop.  She began a new one for me today with purple and white. So pretty!  :)
If my current trend continues before the end of the year, this may be my last post for 2014, so I will wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! :)