We had plenty of rain over the past two days, so in the interim, we were able to tackle one of the projects from the immediate list – opening up an area in the back part of the property for pumpkins or other veggies . Last year, we tested a small patch of grass where we were able to grow a few pumpkins and cantaloupe, not many. We realized we had to move the planting a bit to the front, where there is a bit more sun, so we finally settled on the area. We took advantage of the very wet and soft ground after the rain, and we finished the job quickly. The seeds are planted. Only a few rows, just for a second test to see how it goes. This year we planted a few seeds – pumpkins, cantaloupe, sunflowers, and a bit of corn. Not too much because we are still testing. Here are a few pictures of the project.
After testing this area, if it works out it will be expanded a bit to be able to plant more, and added to over time. I am sure that we will find more interesting things buried in the soil. I hope you enjoyed this project; I surely did.
Glancing back this month and reviewing our budget, I realized that expenses are on the up and up. Not that we are spending more, but that things are costing more. If you have been paying attention, not to the news but to the world around you, you might have noticed inflation creeping in. If you pay attention at grocery prices from month to month, you already know it. When people refer to “less is more,” they usually do so in the context of aesthetics, décor, clutter… I think that with our current “real” state of the economy, not what the news are reporting daily, but what you see people live day by day, less will have to be more. If you have no clue of what I am talking about, on your next shopping trip to the grocery store (a definite need) be a bit more observant and glance at people’s grocery carts on line ready for checkout. It is an eye opener. When people are downsizing basic needs, it is a sign of how real things are becoming. It is true that the pandemic caused much damage in many households, and for many people income dropped, while for others, unemployment assistance became a blessing, increasing their income compared to the job they had before being unemployed, hence why many people are not interested in returning to work right away, but that is another subject. So for many others, less will have to become more. Less groceries will have to be stretched out for more people/servings for a longer time. If you think that the pandemic already did this in 2020, wrecking people’s lives, incomes … you are right. Post pandemic it will be inflation.
For us who have been around in the 1980’s, we remember inflation. Interest rates to buy a home were at 14% or more, and the cost of living was high. In my opinion, and I am not a financial expert, only someone who observes life, the difference this time around will be that the salaries have remained pretty much the same since that time while everything else has gone up in price, and possibly much more if inflation hits us hard. For the younger generation, it will be an eye opener, as their purchase power will be challenged much more than it already is. Old timers will not be as shocked but will see the difference, especially, if they are on a fixed income. What a recipe for scrambled eggs, hopefully not kept in one basket. Maybe it will be a lesson in grateful living and appreciation of what one already has, and going back to basics.
“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” Matthew 6:26 NIV
The Divine is a main topic in my novels, maybe because it has always interested me. The concept of good vs. evil is fascinating. In my novels, the main characters align with good to fight against evil in a supernatural way. The evil side becomes real but not humanized; it remains what it is, and there is a clear line between the counterparts. I have noticed a trend in stories, whether in book, tv, or movie format, and that is that in most cases, the divine tends to become less divine progressively, and leans more to the evil side, whether cooperating with evil for the sake of good (which makes no sense) or to achieve a common goal as in the adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.
This vilification of the divine or decline of divinity converts it into evil, thus ceasing to exist as divinity. It seems to be used for more drama in a story, especially, when restoration follows, making for a “better divinity.” This concept is flawed, for obvious reasons. When writing Moonlit Valley and The Dinorah Chronicles, I did not take that route. To avoid the obvious, characters with a strong divine personality/essence such as Cole Angelou, a righteous Anarth, and Olga Gartier, a righteous Human, served as “stop signs.” When interaction between good and evil was necessary, not as collaboration but investigation, a neutral party (the Xeres) served as a bridge; however, neutrality is always questionable. The point, not crossing the line thus diminishing divinity in the series – the line remains strong and so its definition. Being the trends in writing/movies/tv … the opposite, this was important to the story, and something I do not regret as a writer.
As trends to diminish/dilute the divine concept seem to become more popular, keeping an “intact divinity” in a story becomes a step aside, if not challenging, when writing these types of stories. Sometimes, running with the crowd is not the answer, and stepping aside is perfectly fine.
It started last week when we restored a couple of old garden statues on a rainy day, and we decided to continue with a task that has been put aside for a while. While my husband tackled the remaining garden statues to be painted, I decided to restore the old porch chairs that needed a little TLC. The weather has taken a toll on the finished wood, but the chairs were still sturdy and solid. We already had the paint and materials around, so all we needed was time and effort. It is easy to discard something when it starts looking weathered and old, but it is not necessary at all.
Before discarding something as not useful anymore, ask yourself the “more than one life” question. If the answer is yes or maybe, go for it, and give it that life, restore it to beauty and good use once more. In the end, your pocket is happier/fuller, and Earth will thank you.
I decided to finish an art piece that was waiting on the side. It will go on our store The Owl, Book & Candle. I was back and forth deciding what media to use, and finally decided to go bold in color, mixed media. It is a nativity retablo.
Sometimes, when I am working on a piece I have to put it aside until the type of material feels right, and then, I am able to continue working on it. For example, on this piece I decided to use washi paper instead of paint. Washi paper is a type of Japanese paper. This is different from the way my husband works in his pieces. He works straight from start to finish, and his vision is clear from the start. He also plans in paper more than I do. However, I think he is more of a perfectionist than I am. He will redo something he is not happy with or scrap it completely, while I might go slowly but surely. Although we have very different approaches to art we are able to collaborate in some pieces.
For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (KJV)
It was a rainy day, nothing to be done outside. It was the perfect day to tackle a chore that had been put aside for some time – bringing back to life old garden sculptures. People tend to discard garden sculptures because paint has faded over time or the elements have taken a toll on these; however, with a little effort these can be brought back to life. We purchased a few garden sculptures over 15 years ago for our previous home, and when we moved we took them with us to the farmhouse. Although I love the weathered look of garden sculptures my husband likes a more clean and painted look, so he took on the task on a rainy day, and I joined in the effort. We sat on the porch, enjoyed the sound of the rain in the old tin roof, and painted away. A cup of hot chocolate made the task more enjoyable.
It doesn’t take much effort, other than dust them off and make sure the sculptures are not wet, or at least almost dry, but we had put the job aside for years, and because I like the weathered old look there was no rush; however I have to say that these really look good painted. After painting them, we sprayed a light layer of clear coat to protect the paint. The paint and clear coat will help the sculptures last longer, and also prevent the concrete from eroding faster. Here are a few pictures of the project.
We have a few more sculptures to restore to beauty. Old things are lovely, and can be made lovelier with a bit of effort.
I have read countless of books on finances/money management, but I have never read one quite like this one.
If you are looking for an unconventional approach to finances this book does just that. It is written from a Christian and supernatural point of view, and supported by bible teaching, according to the author’s experience. It is written as if the author is talking directly to the reader, almost as if you are in conversation, something I had to get used to(the rhythm) when reading it. Definitely an interesting and different approach to finances, and one which for many people present a challenge, as it is not the typical fact, theory, and tips approach usually found in most books about this topic. If you are not a Christian, it will definitely puzzle you and make you frown, and if you are, it would pick your interest and possibly open your eyes, or at least, encourage you to dig more into it. Unconventional, powerful, and mystifying.
The other day, I saw a commercial for one of the latest James Patterson novels. It is known that Mr. Patterson coauthors many of his books. This prolific author is a good example of the power of two for a common goal. In other words, there is strength in many. Although he has been criticized for this approach, it seems to have worked very well. The novels are under his well-known name (and in smaller lettering the co-author) and coauthoring has not diminish his author presence, maybe because he built a strong name before coauthoring. In this case, the other author has benefited as well, if not more. What might have not worked as well by oneself is made possible by a joint effort. Two purposes meet and unify under one common goal benefiting both parties. I saw this a lot when I was in Real Estate. Two agents would partner, and enter into a beneficial and profitable relationship. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it did not.
I think it takes a strong and confident personality to enter into this type of arrangement. After all, authors are very protective of their name and the work under that name. Profitability might make things easier and more enticing. In this case, I think it is genius. It increases image/credibility as a team effort, helps time management, and provides other benefits such as more ground covered, support and encouragement, as well as safety. For many of these partnerships it was a win-win situation. How do you view co-authoring?
Unrelated – When life gives you hard sugar, make a sculpture.
I know that there are things on our To Do List that should have priority, but sometimes, we cannot help it and an idea just hits one of us and we both run with it. This little garden project was born in my head while sitting on the porch as my husband was talking about things he would like to do around the future rain garden. He liked the proposed change and we went with it. One of the front bushes was looking sad despite many attempts to make it become more full. It wasn’t working. It was one of the original bushes we uncovered and tried to make healthier. Here is a picture of it.
After trimming it very low to the ground to force it to fill up a bit, it did not do that, so we decided this year to remove it and move one of the stone benches on the porch to that area. Here is the result. We like it better that way. We thought it would be a difficult task to remove it, but to our surprise, it was very loose and came out easily. Maybe this was the reason for it to look a bit unhealthy.
Once you start you just keep moving, so my husband decided that he wanted to try something – moving the porch hanging solar light to one of the entrances that he is cleaning up to continue a few short trails. I thought about moving the solar light somewhere else but was not sure where, so that worked out.
From there it was natural to move to something else, so I decided to make a little habitat for garden critters at the Faerie garden. I repurposed an old table stand and used it as a small trellis for an ivy, and under it I placed one of the chimney halves I had found before. As the ivy grows and becomes fuller it will turn into a cozy retreat for critters.
As the garden wakes up, we keep helping it look better every year. This section is looking better after tending it with hope, working with the existing area, and adding a few things.
All seeds have been planted on the veggie garden area, and they are coming up. The seeds for the flower circle are planted as well, and hopefully, we will be able to clear an area in the back for planting cantaloupe, corn, pumpkin, and sunflowers. That part requires a bit more work. As the garden grows and changes we also grow and change with it.