Monday, January 26, 2015

blue dragonfly that highlight changes in our life

We are a family that likes to shop at Menards. There I said it. Sometimes we go in just to browse. There is a giddy amount stuff available and purpose-driven trips also spark ideas for future home improvement projects. We get everything from screen tents to drill bits to holiday decorations from Menards and we like it.

The store has an astonishing variety of outdoor solar lights and when they go on sale for $1, we buy lots. Last time we bought so many that the little one renamed our trailer retreat "happy lights." Poor girl hasn't had much time to enjoy the lights because she's either in bed or it is simply too cold. We, the parents, enjoy them immensely. We've lined some of the paths the lead deep into the woods with these lights and the forgotten ones become known again when the sun goes down and lights brighten up the paths. To say they are functional would be a total lie. They exist simply for delight.

I, of course, had to take the time to photograph some at twilight.

The background in these photos is snow. I love the way the blue light took over and made everything around it blue. There are no dragonflies flying around right now (though we did spot a few mosquitoes over the firepit) so it is nice to have these scattered around the property.

There are so many decisions I never would have made before I had a child. The solar lights are a good example. We had left most of the property pristine in that we hadn't developed it much. But now that she is in our life, we make paths and enlarge our outdoor living areas. We make benches and plant a bunch of solar lights in the woods. We haven't gone over board and are still using only about 3/4 acre of our 4 acre woods but this winter I've been feeling this shift in how we use the land. And it feels good.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

heat waves and a January thaw

The snow was wet and packed because the temps warmed to above freezing causing snow melt. The paths between the trailer and the Jeep, between the wood pile and the firepit melted and got icy as the sun rose high in the sky and went down into night. I was overheated from all the wood chopping, from all the layers of fleece and wool. I drank loads of tea which warmed me from the inside. I was in my big snow boots for most of the weekend.

We heard wolves off in the distance, far enough away that I just kept chopping wood. I'm getting better with chopping. Sometimes it feels like I'm slicing through butter. That resounding crack as a big log splits is something I've come to yearn for on the drive to the woodland retreat. The smooth slide of the axe as it cuts through the grain of the wood is something I crave to feel through my fingers.

I had to ask myself why I was so into chopping wood. It is a weight loss plan. I chop until my muscles are soar and my back is aching, then I take a break, drink some tea, after which I return to my task. This weekend I chopped enough wood for two weekends. Dave's plotting to get another load for me to split.

I find myself talking to a lot of people about chopping wood. Do I hope to impress them? Maybe. Am I seeking a kindred spirit? Certainly I get excited when I encounter another woman who knows a bit about chopping. I think of that ongoing debate raging between working moms and stay-at-home moms. I don't know where I fit it. I am neither and both. And, I offer an example to my daughter of a woman who chops woods, something I've wanted to do ever since I watched Caroline Ingalls on television.

Not being able to easily chop wood was a hurdle for me. I've never spent much time out there without Dave. In the few instances where I went with a friend, I had Dave shop wood for me in advance, then was burdened with rationing out the wood so as not to run out. The situation is all different right now and now I can picture weekends out there with the little lotus bud and just myself, for a few hours or a day until daddy joins us. I'm getting a better sense of how life will be when the little one starts school. We'll need to make the most of her time away from school and that is going to require that I take some matters into my own hands.

How did this post become all about chopping wood? The weekend also had sparklers, chemicals that lit the fire in blue and green (the result of a stop at a fireworks store - Wisconsinites sure love their fireworks), hot pink yarn for knitting and snow castles. There was also lots of cuddles and smooching, hugs and getting cozy under the blankets. All the best of a January thaw!

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Flowers in the Snow

Bright colors are such a stark contrast to the neutral shades of winter. If anything, this is what she adds to our life. Vivacious, brilliant, and bright (and camera-fatigued) are good words to describe this little bud of ours.

Taking photographs in the snow is such a challenge. I was looking forward to uploading all the photos off my dslr, photos from the weekend. I felt a twinge of frustration as I realized each and every photo captures different light. Some are blown out, some are too dark, the variation comes even when I hadn't moved but simply kept my finger down for the continuous shutter. Yet each photo of the Bud is full from the color of her coat and gloves.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

STILL inspired

Last year I discovered Mary Jo Hoffman's STILL blog and was blown away with her images and her commitment to posting a photo every day. She is local to my region and many of the photos are from places that we live and visit. Hoffman offers such a wonderfully unique view of things that are so familiar to me. It is truly inspirational.

Taking a cue from her blog to try it out myself, I fussed and floundered around the idea in 2014. Getting that pristine white background is a challenge, shadows are total frustration. While taking a walk in the Wisconsin woods in the winter in the middle of the day with the sun shining high in the sky, I was finally able to do something similar.

I've been thinking so much about what it is to be an artist. In the most recent Lean In meeting we discussed creativity and art. While I raised my hand high when identifying that I am a creative person, my hand creeped down when I was asked if I thought of myself as an artist.

I believe that artists bring meaning to their creativity. Meaning loaded with social commentary about anything and everything. And that is the very thing that I struggle with. To me, art is not just about creating beautiful images, but gathering those images into a series that says something. To me, art is about the daily practice that evolves into meaning. I have lots of daily practices but they never seem to evolve and maybe that has to do with being a gemini - always dabbling, rarely mastering. But also as a gemini, I keep gaining inspiration by the people and the world around me.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

snow girl

She told me to bring five carrots for all the snow girls but only one ended up being used. We had planned to bring grape vines from the city but like so many other things, stuff from the city never comes with us to the woods. Which is probably a good thing as we don't want grape vine to invade the area.

The snow girl got one of our bright orange scarves that we wear around hunting season and some curly foliage popping up here and there in the snow. I think this little lady sweet!

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

winter in the wisconsin woods

When will we be there? The little one always asks as we approach the Minnesota/Wisconsin border. My response is look for the river, as soon as we cross the St. Croix river we'll be in Wisconsin. Over the river and into the woods, to the woodland retreat we go.

The wood chopping has picked up and I think I'm well on my way to a cord. My stance is better and my technique is improving. Dave tells me to release the anger while the axe makes the long swing from behind my shoulders to the log standing in front of me. It helps. Even with high temps in the thirties during the day, we had the fire going most of the time we were outside which means most of the time we were at the trailer retreat.

In the woods there is lots of snow. We wandered around in our snow pants and big boots. There were deer and bunny trails to follow, and the size of the poo indicated that the one we chose was that of a white-tail deer. We saw a few dart past, not a one decided to linger.

Snow pants and snow girls and snow forts and snow angels. Snow snow snow. The weekend was all about the snow. How to dress properly for the snow, how to wash dishes in the snow, how to make use of the snow, how to stay warm in the snow. The amount of gloves and hats that need to be rotated in when others are wet is ridiculous but necessary.

Warm gloves, warm hats, warm tea, warm hearts, warm words, warm love.

Yeah, I'd say it was a wonderful weekend and one that I didn't want to end.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Hair Buns and Stripes

At least once a week I find the little one's hair has been braided by a teacher at her preschool. It always tears a bit at my heart. I want to be playing with her hair so I need to make sure we have time in the morning before school. I want to french braid her hair and I find it difficult which is life's revenge I suppose because I distinctly remember frustration with my own mother who didn't know how to french braid.

The other day I tried to do some little buns. She asked me where the idea came from. I told her about my favorite princess in the universe who happened to live a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Princess Leia, of course!

Unknown to me until last night, I had indeed started a new photo project. I had even created a label for it at the beginning of the year: 52 Buds on the Wall. I suppose it's the illness that made me forget.

SO, my new photo project: one photo a week of the little Lotus Bud (sometimes with a BFF in tow).

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

hydrate: updates

After I printed out this photo, I realized it is a selfie. Look closely.   :)

hydrate update: Well, I got sick, really sick. Stay in bed all day sort of sick. Yuck. Often I think about having a day in bed or a day on the couch knitting, both of which are virtually impossible since kiddo joined the family. Funny how the Universe gave me exactly what I wanted. I have to be more careful about my wishes. It's nice to be feeling a little better and eating. Illness is not a weight loss plan that I can recommend.

It was hard to stay hydrated while things were violently coming out of my body. I may never eat swedish meatballs again. Having tea on hand got me hydrated really quick when I was finally able to keep something in my tummy.

And my resolution to not buy more tea until I finished my stash? Well that flew out the window the moment I had a little time to wander into TeaSource. Gah. How to resist all those jars of aromatic tea? But then I brought them home and realized that I don't much care for loose tea anymore. I want the convenience of tea in tiny little bags.

So I'm floating around 2015 getting lots of things done and feeling like I'm getting nothing done. I got a gentle nudge from Deonne about resuming a 365 project which I might well do since I never stopped taking photos, maybe it's the posting that I need to ease up on.

skating update: today was the little one's second skating class. After Dave and I got her ready, he walked her to the ice annnnnd....the teacher came right over and grabbed the little one's hand to lead her out to the group. I don't know. I can't say if that's because of Dave or just because. I know that last week I was on the verge of major illness so I may be have been overly sensitive. I also know for certain that I'm glad we went back. She's improved so much already. And she had fun today.

blog update: It seems every few years I come back to questioning what it is I do on this blog. The last time I'm sure was right before I started the 365 projects. Now I just don't know. I don't have a focus and I tend to use the blog as a journal.

Thanks to those of you who keep reading. It helps me to envision your encouraging faces as I spew out words here and there!

Go forth and hydrate, my friends!

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