As promised, here are some of the photos I took while we rediscovered our energy.
The White Mountains are a special place for us. Not only do they have Bristlecone Pines, they're so peaceful and beautiful, we always find ourselves recharged when we go there.
As promised, here are some of the photos I took while we rediscovered our energy.
My Charles, Bodie, and I went on a vacation. We went to the White Mountains to visit the Bristlecone Pines, and I took 500 photos. I'll share some of those with you another time, but for now, here's a Bristlecone being bathed in the sunrise while the moon hangs just out of reach.
While I was away, one of my favorite blogs signed off. It was a huge surprise to me, because the couple who wrote Young House Love were always so dedicated. I came back from my adventure, from a place where there is no cell reception, to find that YHL was gone. And I felt sad. More than sad. As many commenters said, I felt like I had lost a friend.
Most blogs have a short lifespan. They're around for that quick burst of enthusiasm about whatever, and then they're gone. YHL was seven years old, pretty long in the tooth for a blog. According to Timothy Burke, a professor of History at Swarthmore College and a long-time blogger, even the longer-lived blogs generally only last around three or four years before becoming something else.
I started following YHL when they were still calling themselves, "This Young House." They were two people in their twenties, working on their first house, and figuring things out as they went along. To a gal who had recently moved to a new area and was feeling rather lonely, the blog was a godsend. They posted often. They were cheery and enthusiastic, and they even inspired me to start my own blog. As the years continued, they posted more often. Clicking on their blog was part of my morning ritual. It was something to look forward to as I took my first 15 minute break of the day.
Theirs wasn't the first weblog I followed only to see it leave. Blogs have a natural life cycle, much like the people who write them. I still miss many of those bygone blogs, but I think I'll miss John and Sherry most of all. I'll be in mourning for a time.
I'll keep blogging, though I don't think this site will ever see postings of predictable regularity. I do strive to post every Saturday on Sapid Cellar Door, in case you're craving some Mellisa-time, and I'm not appearing here. And I'll keep seeking blogs out. I still have a list of favorites, and ones that I find myself following in a more dedicated fashion these days. Blogs probably won't see as many sunrises as that Bristlecone Pine up above, (somewhere over a million sunrises so far,) but they still bring me joy and a sense of community, and I'm grateful for that.
While I may be in mourning black for a bit, there are many reasons I'll be in color again soon. Here are a few I visit multiple times each week:
My Favorite and My Best
Just a quick update -- I may not have been able to venture outside this weekend, but I did get my fiber art piece done! While you need to see it in person to really notice all the texture and added bits -- for example, it's hanging on a very large branch that suggests antlers -- I figured I'd share what I could with you. I really love it. Charles said it seemed rather mythic and agreed that its name, "Lost in the Forest," really fit. Two months until the show!
Last week I had my list, I had my plans, and then I got distracted.
I was successful in cleaning up the clutter. Check! I did laundry and ever so much housework, and then I started on the food drive project.
A year ago or so, my Charles and I purchased an AKURUM in white to serve as a stand-alone cabinet/island. Our galley style kitchen is pretty small, but there was room for a teeny bit more prep space. We got the taller legs for the cabinet so it would be comfortable for Charles. At an entire foot taller than I, our regular counter space can be a bit low for him. Our intentions were good. We put the base together as soon as we got it home, but we never put on the doors or drawers. Honestly, I was intimidated by those drawers. We packed the AKURUM with food and called it a day. And then called it a year while I constantly glanced at it, silently chiding myself for not finishing it.
Well, four grocery bags worth of donated food and a finally organized collection of stuff we were keeping, and it was time to screw up my courage and finish putting the cabinet together. And then I laughed. And then I kicked myself. Those doors and drawers were the easiest assembly and installation I've ever had with an IKEA product! Some snaps, some screwing together, and that baby was done. If we ever needed to replace cabinets, after this experience, I'd know what to use.
Now our last corner of the kitchen, as it turns into the eating area, looks clean and organized. Plus, it was so inspiring to get that cabinet completed, we may just be motivated enough to finally replace our countertops. We need to get a piece for the AKURUM anyway, so...
We'll see. One project finally completed, but the rest of the things on my to-do list remain undone. The outside projects will have to wait, though, because we've been trapped inside by smoke for the last week because of the King Fire. The image above is one of our smoky sunrises from this past week. This weekend is supposed to see hazardous air quality at times, so there will be no outdoor projects in the near future. That should give me more time to paint and craft, though, right?
There comes a time every year when everything just seems to dissolve into chaos. I'm lucky in the fact that at least I manage to keep it organized chaos -- for the most part.
I'm furiously working on my art show. T-minus two and half months and counting! I just finished my first really large piece and have been working on the foundation of a fiber art piece for a couple of weeks now. If you're wondering how I've been planning this venture for the past year, my Pinterest boards can probably clue you in, especially Color Inspiration and to a lesser extent, Pictorialization. The latter is where I pin any piece that moves me.
Add that distraction to the quarterly Friends of the Library newsletter needing to be done, and our house is looking rather neglected. I thought I'd list my weekend projects, rather like Anna at Door Sixteen used to do, in order to keep me motivated. Here goes!
What do you think? Does it look possible? I'm going to try my best. ;)
See you next week! Well, as long as I survive the weekend.
I am not immune to the procrastination before a show. Since I handle the gallery for the store, I witness other artists' struggles with completing their work before their shows begin. No matter how much I intend on spacing out my work, it doesn't happen for me, either. So here I am, almost in September, with three pieces down and somewhere in the realm of 15 to go. I have three months. Will I get there? Of course! Will I feel freaked out and stressed a week before I hang? Of course I will!
I am rather excited about this show, though. My painting continues to evolve, and I find myself more and more drawn to Abstract Expressionism. This realization was solidified when I visited the Milwaukee Art Museum in May. I got such a lovely buzz of recognition whenever I encountered another Abstract Expressionist piece. My sternum was practically vibrating by the time I finished the tour. Now I find myself freer with my paints. I'm using a palette knife almost exclusively now, with a little bit of brush work, and a little bit of finger painting, too.
My newest piece, "Burned Out Stump," is already up on my Art tab, and many, many more should be following until December. If you're local, check out my "Patterns of Nature" in the Good Food Gallery starting December 6. Not local? Well, they'll be on the Art page, too. Don't hesitate to contact me if you're interested in buying something, and I'll be flexible if you need it by Christmas. I'm also planning on getting everything scanned and up on my Society6 page, in case you'd rather have a print -- or a pillow or a clock or an iPhone cover...
First things first, as you can tell by these amazing (yeah right!) photos, we still haven't painted half of our house. Oh, the shame! All of that blue and brown in making me crazy. Plus, we still need to paint all of the eaves. We haven't figured out how we're going to do that yet, so... here we are.
Well, now that we've got that out of the way, we can talk about gutters! One of the sexiest of all house updates, to be sure. Long time readers may remember that we had Byers' Leaf Guard gutters installed on the deck side of the house three years ago. (Three years? How the heck did that happen?!!) We meant to schedule the other side last year, but never got around to it. It's hard to feel motivated when you know you're going to spend more than a grand on something that diverts water. We needed to have it done, though. When we actually get things like rain and snow, not like we have the last couple of years, but when we do, our awesome concrete side steps cause the water to splash back onto the side door. Then the door warps, and water gets under the subfloor... we know this tale well enough already.
I really do love the Byers people. (No, I didn't get paid to say that. I've never done a sponsored post, after all. It's my honest assessment.) Their staff is amazing, and while it costs more than your average gutter, they're guaranteed for life. That means that if you sell your house, the gutters are still guaranteed for the next owners, so it's actually a selling point. Imagine gutters being a selling point! They sent out a representative to do the estimate, and he figured it would be a little over $1700. While that may seem a bit steep, especially when you know our house is pretty small, when you factor in how much we've paid to fix dry rot over the years, it's really just a drop in the bucket. (Ha, ha!) Factor in that aforementioned guarantee that I'll never have to unclog a gutter, and it was an easy choice. We've never had any issue, but if the gutters do ever clog, they'll come and unclog them for free.
Three weeks later, (everyone's trying to prepare for the El Nino,) the installers arrived. They were friendly and super fast. They double checked the measurements, went to their cool truck that creates the gutter on site, hung it, and were finished in less than two hours. We still need to put some extenders on the downspouts to route the water away from the foundation, but it makes the house look slicker already. Now if we could just finish painting, Our Little House might be quite the belle of the ball! Anyone want to put money on how long it's going to take us to do that? No? That's probably smart.
Even though the El Nino isn't looking as promising as everyone in our drought-parched part of the world was hoping, we're ready for the winter. That should count for something, right?
What if, what if, what if, what if?
I don’t think there’s a cure for depression. I just think it sometimes goes into remission, and if you’re really lucky and find the right treatment, it can go into remission for years.
Sometimes I find myself wondering what would have happened if I hadn’t moved to my dad’s house, if I hadn’t been emotionally abused by my stepmother. I was finally coming into my own when I moved away from my hometown. Would high school have been a more welcoming place for me? Would I have come out of my shell more, become a drama geek or found success in High 4-H? Maybe I would have been shattered in a different way.
If there are alternative dimensions for every path that could have been taken, a few onion skins away there’s a Mellisa that stood up to her stepmother and didn’t get beaten down. Even more layers beyond is a Mellisa who never moved to her dad’s place and knows the answer to my what if.
But I am not the Mellisa of those other dimensions. I’m the Mellisa of this one. When depression sinks its teeth in, when the what ifs can get really loud, I try to remember that depression lies. If I’m not too far into the dark pit of despair, I think about all of the wonderful things that have happened because of my experiences, because of who I am today. I’m with the most wonderful of men. My Charles also battles the depression demon, so we’re there to support each other when it rears its ugly head. I have a dog and two cats that are always happy to see me. I have friendships that have lasted for most of my life. There’s so much to be grateful for, and I truly am grateful for my life. Depression would do its best to make me forget that.
There have been quite a few suicides in my circle of awareness in the past few months. Some of them have been of famous people, some of them the family of friends. All of them have been a terrible loss.
Please, if you know someone who is battling depression, give them your compassion. Let them know they’re not alone. Support them and help them find help.
If you are fighting those demons, we’re here for you! Reach out, if you can. Call the suicide hotline. All of us who know depression lies can understand your pain. Know that we love you. You are not alone.
The keynotes were all amazing. The people were all really nice. The food was decent for a convention center – nothing to write home about, but nothing to really bitch about, either.
I live in a different world from where most of the corporate sponsors reside. I understand that those sponsors are needed to fund the conference, but it was a bit of a shock to my system to see things that didn’t align with my personal ethics. Working in the co-op world means that products are weighed on multiple levels – how they impact the environment, how their workers are treated, the quality of the ingredients, etc. It was a good reminder that that specific view isn’t necessarily held by everyone. It’s easy to get too insulated.
While my views about supporting net neutrality and protecting small towns’ water rights may not have been represented in the sponsors that were at the conference, that isn’t really what this post is about. Obviously, it bothered me enough to mention it, but at the end of the weekend, that wasn’t what I carried home with me. The most important thing I brought back from BlogHer’14 – what I’m infinitely grateful for – is that it’s not about the money you MIGHT make with your blog. It’s about the writing.
Everyone I spoke with who had started their blogs because they loved something and loved to write about it, and then shifted to a money-making model, were unhappy. They missed the pleasure they had originally gleaned from writing. That concept was solidified for me when I attended a freelancing workshop. The panel was peopled by fellow journalists, and their dedication to the principles that we were taught in college was a breath of fresh air. Actually, it was more like an icy blast that brought me to my senses.
I love writing about wine and beer and food. I love being able to use my palate and my knowledge to help my readers understand the characteristics of well-crafted beverages and how those pieces of liquid art can support and make a meal better – and how that meal can improve the wine or beer, too. That’s what Sapid Cellar Door is. I find so much joy in writing about wine, especially, and getting to continue to learn more and more about it.
And I love sharing who I am with you, be it through my artwork, my ruminations, or my sometimes doomed DIY projects. I’ve been feeling pressure lately, mostly self-initiated, to bring some monetary success to my blogs. That pressure has been detrimental to Book Syrup. I would get inspired, and then I lose it, because I kept thinking that it might be too personal for pixyofwhimsy – which, by the way, has been my online persona for almost twenty years now. How can a moniker I’ve carried for so long not be personal?
I write because I have to. That’s always been the case and always will be the case. The fact that I’m privileged enough to have two blogs to write about things that inspire me, intrigue me, and challenge me – I’m lucky, and I should hold onto that knowledge. That’s what I took away from BlogHer’14.
Write what you love. Forget the rest.