Some idle Tuesday

Don’t worry about the future
Or worry, but know that worrying
Is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing Bubble gum
The real troubles in your life
Are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind
The kind that blindsides you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday
Do one thing every day that scares you

                Baz Luhrmann,  Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)

I thought about titling this post Life Happens but the lyrics from Baz Luhrmann’s Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen) kept rolling through my mind.  Although normally I’m pretty regular at posting, the past two months I’ve only been able to post a couple of times.  Life happened.

One day I spent plein air painting with a friend.  The next day saw my husband being transported by ambulance to a big city hospital some distance away.  The next four weeks were a blur.  Surgery.  ICU.  Tubes and drips and ventilators.  Me making daily round trips of 150 miles.  I memorized the mile markers, counting down the miles each way.  Testing the speed limits.  Crossing time zones and arriving at the same time I left, or two hours behind on the return trip.

I think I lived on trail mix on those drives.  Listened to some recorded books.  Mostly thought about…whatever.

This spring was beautiful and all the flowering trees and plants were trying to cheer me.  But it is also one of the busiest times here on the farm.  The garden, which fortunately had been plowed and tilled, only got planted with the aid of my granddaughter.  My son came by to mow the grass – it’s a huge yard.  But everything else had to wait.  Trimming, weeding, recordkeeping, cleaning, etc.  There are just so many hours in the day.

I did manage to finish a couple of commissions which helped keep the crazy thoughts at bay.  But no real creative work of my own.  It’s all about priorities.

My husband has been home for about a month.  He’s recovering nicely but still has a way to go.  No marathons in his future.  And he probably won’t be cutting firewood this year which is just fine with me.  It’s messy and dusty.

I don’t think there is really any way you can plan for an unexpected life-altering event. I think about this every time I see some sort of tragedy on the news; people who left their homes in the morning and then…some idle Tuesday arrived.  Friends have been so kind and understanding.  In the Midwest, people bring food.  The neighbor will take your trash to the dump.  Small thoughtful gestures.

We’re both doing much better now and some semblance of normalcy is creeping back into our lives.  I’ve been painting more.  Although I have written off the garden this year (now we’re experiencing a drought) but I did get my first little tomato yesterday.  Small blessings.

Hug those you love and be kind to those who are going through difficult times.  Someday you may need some strength and comfort, too.  Probably. 

Painting local

The Little Cottage, acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14, KitMiracle I was driving down a side street of nearby Birdseye, Indiana, when this scene captured my attention. One of the smallest houses in town with the largest tree in town. The front path and gate are framed by beautiful lavender and blue irises. Painted in heavy impasto, a very impressionist-style painting.

One of my favorite parts about traveling is seeing new vistas.  Visiting the mountains, the parks, the ocean, historical sites.  It’s all good.  I always take my art equipment and capture the areas on canvas.  Parking my easel on the edge of the Grand Canyon and painting for a couple of hours is my bliss. 

But one of the best parts about traveling is returning home and seeing your own world through new eyes.  Noticing that which you may pass every day but in a new way.  You can look at your own home town as a tourist.

At the Crossroads, Schnellville, Indiana. Acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14. KitMiracle It was a spring morning and the sun was playing in and out of the clouds. This little road has many twists and curves, the beautiful hills catching the sunlight. This little crossroads only has about six houses and reminds me of many villages in Germany or France.
Seven Cedars in Spring, acrylic on canvas, 9 x 12, KitMiracle. Along the same Schnellville Road, these cedar trees were silhouetted against the spring sky.

Spring here in Southern Indiana was so beautiful this year.  Often we’ll receive a late frost or freeze which pretty much ruins everything, but this year was spectacular.  The wild flowers in the forests and fields put on a show to remember.  I captured the spring greens of the fields and byways for several weeks, and even had my husband drive while I was shouting, stop here! to take photographs.

The Old Lady’s House, acrylic on canvas, 11 x 14, KitMiracle. I used to drive past this house frequently on my way to work. A very old lady lived there who always mowed her lawn by hand, and she always wore a kerchief. I think her grandson lives there now. Located in central Dubois County, this is a very typical spring view in these parts.

The results have been paintings of spring fields and crossroads, little villages, gentle vistas of all types.  Not my usual big, bold colors but a much more gentle palette.  Often painted in the style of Pissarro or Monet but not actually deliberately.  I just want to bring to the viewer’s attention and appreciation the overlooked landscapes of our everyday world.

Take a look around your own world, your home town, the back allies.  I’m sure you can find some wonderful vistas, too, which you may have overlooked a hundred times.  They’re out there, I promise.

View more about these paintings online at this link.

Spring in bloom

Several varieties of daffodils bloom throughout the spring. So easy to grow.

I wasn’t sure if spring would ever arrive this year.  We’ve had weather ranging from sleet and snow and ice, to upper 70s and 80s two days later.  Very unpredictable.

But I love the spring greens this time of year.  It only lasts a few weeks before the heavy greens roll in, but that bright yellow-green just perks me up. Didn’t we used to have a crayon called “spring green?”

The bluebell blossoms start out as pink, then turn sky blue when they open. They pair well with naturalized narcissus.
From one small patch, these blue bells have naturalized all over the yard. I have given starts away and even planted some along a wooded path last year. When they’re finished blooming, they totally die back and won’t be seen until next spring.

I have been driving around just gathering photos for future reference.  One day, I even had my husband drive the little country roads while I took pictures. Have to capture the scenery while it’s here.

However, the beauty just in my own yard has been refreshing also.  A cacophony of whites and yellows, blues and purples.  The really exciting thing about the spring flowers is that they’re so fugitive.  They don’t last for long and I know that I won’t see them for another year. And in most cases, they are pretty much maintenance-free.

Now the real work begins.  Planting the garden, preparing flower beds, trimming the lane, picking up winter debris.  It’s always something here on the farm.  But I love it.

The lilacs have been particularly spectacular this season. The scent is almost overwhelming but welcome for their few weeks of blooming.
Here are more naturalized flowers by the old well.
Wisteria on the arbor. This is the first year that our wisteria has bloomed. Such a beautiful flower but a little invasive. I have to trim it back from nearby trees and bushes.

Spring is coming

Male wood duck. (Photo courtesy The Spruce.)

This past Friday we were assaulted by Mother Nature with freezing rain, hail, sleet.  Just wave after wave, all day long.

But SPRING will arrive eventually.  Forsythias are in full bloom, the daffodils are nearly past, the crocuses that I planted last fall finally came up although I think the chipmunks and squirrels got most of them.  The yard is a carpet of spring beauties and the redbud is ready to pop.  The bluebells are out.  Blue and yellow. 

Even my largest crabapple is late.  This time a few years ago, it was in full bloom.  A week of warm weather will surely see it out.

Although we lament the weather as Mother Nature doesn’t always follow our wishes, we know spring will eventually get here.  The swift who makes a nest on the porch of my studio is already nesting.  The mourning doves are pairing up.  And I’d better get the rest of the birdhouses up real soon.  Like today, maybe.

As I drove down the driveway late Friday afternoon, I stopped at the creek (which our drive crosses), just to see what I could see.  And I saw this beautiful wood duck paddling around.  This is the first one that I’ve seen in over thirty-five years!  The plummage was beyond words.  So colorful and distinctive.  I hope that the wood duck family starts a family nearby but the creek with its after-storm gully washers is not the best place for a nest.  Maybe up the hill a bit.

Anyway, all this is a reminder that even if you live in the same place and don’t go anywhere, surprises can find you.  Keep your eyes open.

Spring is coming.

Brown eggs

Five Eggs, original painting on canvas, 12 x 12, Kit Miracle

If you happen to get to the post office or a farm supply store this time of year, you will hear the peeping  sound of baby chicks.  They are SO cute!  And it takes all kinds of willpower to NOT buy a bunch of each. 

There are many varieties, but I particularly like the speckled ones and the ones with feathered feet.  They look so fancy.  We’ve had many kinds over the years.  I also loved the bantams, the females, not the males which tend to be aggressive for their size.  One year, one of my favorite dun-colored females disappeared.  I was certain that she was the victim of a raccoon or hawk.  But after about three weeks, she reappeared with about eighteen little bantam peeps following her. They were so tiny and cute.  I don’t know where she hid but apparently it was a good hiding place.

This antique sponge bowl holds five fresh brown eggs.  Do they taste different?  That’s hard to tell but they sure are deep yellow when cracked open. Probably from all the extras that the hens get in their diet than those that are confined to chicken factory farms. 

We’ve also had blue and green eggs, too.  It is rumored that they are lower in cholesterol but I don’t know if that is true.  They’re just so beautiful to look at.

The sponge bowl, by the way, gets its name from the decoration.  The glaze was applied with a sea sponge.  I have only seen these in blue. These stoneware bowls are very heavy for their size. I bought this at auction many many years ago and still use it for fruit and whatnot. 

Spring paintings

Farmhouse in Spring. Acrylic, 12 x 16. Kit Miracle

Although spring officially began a little over a week ago, the season has been sneaking up on us for a while.  The grass is greening with that lovely shade of spring green.  The trees are sporting a haze of pinky-red buds or some with more greenish buds.

The daffodils and crocuses are out.  The yard if full of spring beauties, a tiny white flower with a pink stripe.  It looks like snow in some areas.  And the forsythias in the yard and out by the road where I had my son transplant shoots over fifteen years ago.  I think it adds a little colorful surprise for passersby.

I’ve been so busy with other activities but have been able to sneak out to catch a painting or two.  These are some of my favorite recent ones.  One depicts our house sitting on the little hill with the morning sunlight catching the fronts of the buildings. The middle building behind the big house is my studio.

The second larger painting is of our North field looking west.  You can see the farm rows from last year’s crops.  The white dogwood, some redbud, and the various spring colors on the big trees.  Such a pretty time of year.

North Field in Spring. Acrylic on canvas 16 x 20. Kit Miracle

Fur Boy

Leo the Cat has been featured in several previous posts.  He’s not quite two and already rules the roost.  Cats just seem to have that way about them.  A little aloof, except around dinner time.  Then it’s all affection, rubbing around the ankles, sweet little meows. 

So manipulative.  And it works for them. 

Unlike the dog who is always happy for the tiniest bit of attention.  Please rub my belly.

This is a quick sketch of Leo sleeping in his favorite chair.  He looks so uncomfortable but can stay in that chair for hours.  And does.

Like most of our pets, cars, trucks, etc., everything around here has a nickname.  Leo is frequently called Fur Boy, as in, Have you seen Fur Boy lately? Or Did anyone feed Fur Boy today?  Well, the latter never comes up as he has a built in clock and will come and give you the Look until his food bowl is attended.

Interestingly, I recently came across the novel The Fur Person by May Sarton.  I had never heard of it before.  It is a short treatise about her cat.  Written from the point of view of the cat.  And illustrated by a friend.

I did not have a hard copy but was able to use the library’s electronic lending program to borrow it.  Very amusing.  By the way, if you have not checked out your own library’s electronic lending system, I heartily encourage you to do so.  It’s amazing what they have available to rent….for FREE!

A little color

Five Pears…testing some new colors, pastel.

Well, in this case, a lot of color.

I was trying out some new pastels this week and decided to really juice up the color. A little fauvism. It was fun. Not my usual style but that’s OK, sometimes it’s nice to try a new style or color scheme.

The past two weeks have been filled with activities and I’ve been a little under the weather. Some bug that I probably caught from my husband. Feel great sometimes, then a few hours later, totally exhausted. So…I just take a nap. But that isn’t helping me make much headway for spring tasks.

A couple of weeks ago, temps were definitely chilly with snow and freezing rain. Then suddenly….the sun is out, so are the daffodils. My favorite thing to do every day is to take a walk and see what is new around the property. Buds swelling, new bulbs emerging, birds starting to stake out their spring homes.

I picked up my show from the Harrison County Arts in Corydon. A couple of commission pieces. And am working on some classes for spring break, AND…have company coming! Yay. But that means a little (a lot) of extra care for cleaning and tidying.

Oh, well, it will either get done or it won’t. But I fully intend to take time to enjoy the spring emergence.

Hope your spring is blossoming, too.

Spring will arrive – eventually

My last post earlier this month was about Snomagedden.  The weather in the midwest has been all over the place – ice, sleet, fog, freezing rain.  Later this week we are expecting temps up to the 60s.  I’ll be watching for spring flowers as the daffodils are already up several inches.

After the gallery talk this month.

My show at the Harrison County Arts in Corydon has been very successful.  Last week I gave a gallery talk which was well-received. The reporter Judy Cato came out twice.  Once to interview me and another time to bring her friend Lorraine, the photographer.  And then this coming week I get to pick it up the show. 

Judy Cato (reporter for Southern Indiana Living) and me.

But I am already on to the next thing.  I’ve decided to paint some bridges and started with some train trestles and tunnel bridges, graffiti and all.  It’s been fun so far.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

Stay tuned for the next thing.  Happy spring until we meet again.

Train Trestle Riceville Rd
Tunnel bridge on Schnellville Road, complete with graffiti.

Snowmageddon

I love this view of the ice-covered branches, sparkling in the sunlight.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave or on a remote island this week, you’ve heard about the huge snowstorm that swept the nation.  News stories abounded, showing endless reels of people who were worse off than you.  Ice, snow, trees crashing, roads impassable.

Well, this was our reality this week. 

The ice was the first to arrive, coating this rhododendron right outside the window.

Fortunately we had plenty of warning as we watched the storm roll up from Texas through the Ohio River Valley.  Watching hours of local weather predictors guess whether the front would stay upstate or come down our way. Where is the snow line?  Who will see sleet and ice?  It’s tiresome after awhile.

But we were a little nervous.  Ice on trees, add some wind, pop, there goes your electric for a few days.

My husband gets in pioneer mode.  Park the newer car in the garage.  Park the other vehicles away from the trees.  Make sure we have supplies in – milk, bread (I live with a guy who bakes), wine.  Check the oil lamps, the kerosene heater, the electronics are charged up as is the backup.  I spoke about this before in a previous blog.  We have a gas (propane) stove and hot water so no problem.  Can’t use the gas furnace or the wood furnace because there would be no electric to run the blowers.  But we do keep the wood fired up low to keep the pipes from freezing.

We were lucky this time.  First the ice, then some sleet, then some snow.  No wind.  No loss of power.  Just enjoy the peace inside with some books and the TV. 

View down the drive, with the late afternoon shadows. We didn’t really have any trouble getting out, especially after grading the driveway.

My husband and the neighbor got outside to grade the drive with their tractors.  I took a few walks with the dog.  The glittering ice on the trees was so beautiful, tinkling a bit with a little breeze.  Kept the birdfeeder filled.  We buy sunflower seeds in forty-pound bags. Now we’re listening to the giant thumps as the ice melts and slides off the roof.  The grandkids are over, taking more cooking lessons and playing with the toys that they don’t see every day.  Stomping and sliding outside with the dog. 

I hope you were able to find some good in the storm, even if it was just a little peaceful time to count your blessings. 

The birdfeed has been popular this week, normally with dozens of birds at a time. Cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers, titmice, juncos, and more. We go through forty pounds of sunflower seeds pretty quickly.