Thursday, November 13, 2014


Yea, I fell behind's bein' a hard week.

My attempt at a standing work station. Didn't have the angles quite right, made my wrist hurt. Also, legs didn't mind it much, but lower back was a whiny bitch.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Morning :: Noon :: Night

:: Morning ::
:: Noon ::
:: Night ::

Monday, November 10, 2014

Morning :: Noon :: Night

:: Morning ::

:: Noon ::

:: Night ::

Morning :: Noon?

I've seen a bunch of bloggers in the past, do a photo series of just simple shots from their mornings, noons, and nights. I thought about trying it yesterday, just for a week, in an attempt to be more present of my surroundings.

I've decided that people who do this live in larger houses, because the kitchen was a mess and the lighting sucked for taking any pics last night. Maybe tonight will be better. I hope to do this for a week, at least.

:: Morning ::

:: Noon ::

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Autumn Winding Down

Yea, it's been a while, sorry about that.

I've been blogging a bit over at Dark Meadow. Just updated my Tumblr blog a pinch, just for fun...haven't been over there in a while, was a nice visit. Also been thinking of starting up Melanie's Gym again. Because naturally, I've turned over yet another new leaf where my health is concerned and need the outlet for verbal spewage.

Thought the wooly worm lied, but turns out his predictions don't start til official winter (solstice), so he's not to blame for the hilarious white stuff we just got.

Halloween night, NOAA said we'd get about a quarter-inch. They didn't factor in the wind, I guess, because it looked more like 6 inches or so in some spots. Woke up to a winter wonderland...seriously, remember when Ralphie looks out the window Christmas morning in A Christmas Story? It was that white. Took 2 days to melt, and they're saying we may get more on Friday. The trees are standing around half-leafed, half-colored, looking confused.

September and October kind of flew. I'm hoping November settles in and stretches out a bit, so I can prepare for the holidays without wanting to blow my brains out.

We don't want to travel for Christmas this year. Whether or not we're able to get away with that without crushing guilt from one side of the family remains to be seen.

My side, thankfully, is hosting friends and doesn't mind that we want to stay put. They also have a better grasp of our financial straits. Hubs' side knows we're strapped, but it takes a backseat to their emotional needs, which are rather vast.

The new contract for work kicked my ass the first 2 weeks, and I'm not looking forward to the paycheck this Thursday because it's going to be less than I need it to be. Only comfort is the fact that I'll get an extra paycheck of sorts by the way the periods fall this month, so I may be almost able to catch up. But it's the other reason I'm not looking forward to the holidays yet...any gift giving is mainly going to occur from our hands and hearts, and that doesn't go over as well with Hubs' side of the family. In better years, Christmas was a time of serious giving and gluttony, and weaning away from that usually means some depression on their end at how life has changed. Coming up on 3 years without the patriarch, and that side is still at loose ends.

The weather changes have me itching to read, and finally to put my hands in yarn again. I haven't knitted in months, but all it takes is one walk around the local track with freezing ears to remind me my life would be better if I had a headband and/or a cap with a hole in the back for my ponytail, for hiking/exercising in winter. I'm getting back on a smart work schedule this week, and as I find my groove, it should free up my evenings a pinch.

As for reading, I'm still nipping away at Cold Antler Farm, have progressed to Dragonfly in Amber in the Outlander series, and am studying Ayurveda with the help of Deepak Chopra.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014


Just some shots from my latest hike

My internal alarm clock is hilarious these days. Set the alarm for 10 so I wouldn't sleep too late, but wanted to allow myself a bit of a lie-in, given it was my birthday. I woke up at 9:57.

I woke up slowly, meandered out to grab coffee, check my email. Woke the Hubs up 2 hours later for bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches. The bacon's from Hickory Nut Gap, the eggs from Imladris (their 13-year-old son runs the egg business), the bread is homemade. I need to make more tomorrow. This recipe is proving our favorite, for a crumb that allows us to slice thin or thick and a soft crust.

I clicked on Google's doodle this morning, curious about the fact that I share a birthday with Tolstoy. Instead it takes me to their main page, where the Google is made up of birthday cakes and the alt tag says "Happy Birthday Melanie!" Have to admit, that's nifty. Creepy stalkery too, but nifty.

We left the house around 2 PM. I wanted to haunt the River Arts District a bit. I've been jonesing to try my hand at some mixed media. It seeped into my birthday wishes: I asked for and got some new acrylic paints, new brush markers, and canvas panels. People are going to be subjected to my idea of art in their Christmas stockings this year. Gods help them.

The inspiration was there. We both came away with an appreciation for Nancy Joyce's work, and wandered through a handful of galleries, admiring several different types of media. The artists were usually working, but welcoming and very willing to answer questions and explain their processes. Even as dilapidated as that area can seem, right on the train tracks, surrounded by buildings in various stages of exterior disrepair, all I could think was what a prime location it is for an artist's studio. Really good vibes down there.

I drove us up to downtown, snagged a meter spot in front of the Grove Arcade, and we walked to Urban Dharma, to watch the monks working on a sand medicine mandala, which will be completed at the end of the week and blessed in several ceremonies to commemorate the 2-year anniversary of the storefront temple and its continued good works. They're selling zafus and zabutons there now at good prices; I'll be visiting again soon. Next door is the Captain's Bookshelf, where we briefly wandered and came away with a tome a piece, because the Hubs and I are rather incapable of not spending money in a bookstore.

We hopped home to grab our pizza coupons and bring in the Amazon windfall from my Mom and Sis, and headed to Blue Mountain Pizza & Brew Pub here in Weaverville. I indulged in a microbrew created from local hops courtesy of Echoview Fiber Mill. Hubs hopped across the street to grab dessert before they closed or ran out, at Well Bred Bakery. Their chocolate fudge cake is a nice treat, and their Mountain Eclairs are rather legendary. Imagine a New York-style eclair the size of....I can't think of a decent size comparison. People call 'em cathead eclairs; the dang things are HUGE.

It's 9:35 EST here. I turn 45 at 9:56. I'm really relaxed now; the beer buzz has dissipated and was replaced with an impressive sugar high. I have 3 new books to tuck into, I'm itching to draw, and I need to get into work mode for tomorrow. I'm thinking of tearing into the 2nd bedroom and rearranging a bit again, getting it back in working order. It's gone to seed since the kitten arrived on the scene, and I've been working in front of the TV again more often than not...and then wondering why it takes me twice as long to get shit done. I'm ready to reorganize again.

The kitten's a purr machine in my lap, against my folded leg. Hubs feels bad because he doesn't think he got me enough for my birthday. I remind him that I have a shiatsu massage scheduled next week, and that the furry creature in my lap is the best present I've had this year. I'm having trouble keeping the wolf at the door these days, but I'm incredibly happy and know I have the strength to keep us here. What more do I need? I'm a very lucky lady.

Happy birthday to me!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Quick Check-In

I'm pretty good at avoiding the realities of life. This personality quirk keeps me optimistic in the face of scary stuff.

Money is painfully tight right now. I'm not making enough to cover all our expenses, and the tax bill will continue to creep up with penalties if I don't contact them soon. But I still have work, and I can always try for something more if things get too desperate. I just have to do more sites. That's doable.

I have a birthday next month. It's a big enough one to be sparking a bit of a midlife crisis. I'm mostly working on denial...for example, I've decided to stop aging beyond the aforementioned birthday on account of my fear of dying. But the timing is lousy, since money's so tight, because my dreams require money, or at least decent credit, neither of which are on the horizon right now. I want my farm. It's time to get working toward that for reals.


Loved that middle shot, just felt so "small town"...

So today I was crawling out of my skin and knew I needed to get out of the house. I thought about hiking, but quickly realized what I really wanted was to drive. I hopped in the car and headed toward Marshall, and then kept going. Hot Springs is 30 miles west of us, which translates to almost an hour away when you're new to the curvy roads. There were some serious drops and S curves to get down to the valley, and then you're tipped out into a tiny town that has made a name for itself as an Appalachian Trail thru point and a French Broad River access point. Rafting outfits lined the road near the river, and the Hot Springs Resort & Spa is the first thing you see as you drive into town.

Apparently there are actual hot springs that are supposed to offer healing properties there. I was more interested in the AT. I've been following Fimby, the Tougas family as they hike the AT, or as much as I can since I'm too cheap yet to purchase the vid series (yea, OK, not cheap, just frugal). Les and I talk about doing that crazy hike someday. It's a pipe dream, unless we can get physically fit and financially more stable. I know this in my heart though, so it motivates me. The drive took long enough where I didn't hop out to walk any of it, so I could say I walked the width of the AT, haha! But I'm glad I got out of the house. The drive was lovely.

That's what I needed the drive for, the motivation. I'm a little scared of not being able to keep the wolf at the door. I adore living here, and that could be taken away. I take chances with our finances occasionally, putting off paying a bill to take care of another, robbing Peter a bit to pay Paul, as my folks' generation would say. But in the back of my mind is the fact that we don't live in a normal apartment complex, that the landlord (who doesn't even live in the US apparently) could decide he wants to unload this investment property and not renew leases, and we'd be up shit's creek rather quickly without much locomotion. I'll be asking about a lease renewal at the end of next month, and I really don't anticipate a problem; but I'm a realist who likes to be prepared for any contingency.

I drove down the US highways at varying speeds, through gorgeous mountain ranges bordering the Pisgah National Forest. Mountains upon mountains, with views that literally took my breath away once or twice, reminding me of when we drove through West Virginia last year. I had escaped the house today hoping to see farmland, and I saw that and more. We're surrounded by farmland here, but you have to keep an eagle eye out for it because it's so nestled in the hills and valleys of the Blue Ridges. The fields are smaller than what you'd see in Pennsylvania or the Midwest, but they're no less agrarian, plenty of crops or stretches on their second cut of hay. Barns in various states of disrepair. I'll bring the camera next time.

I normally have every confidence in my ability to keep our heads above water. Money's thin enough lately to shake that resolve just a pinch. I'm thinking about downsizing, doing another purge of some of the apartment, wondering if we have anything worth selling. But I love living here way too much to lose it. Just gotta get a little ingenious, work a little harder.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Summer rains and kitten wrangling

We've been getting rain at night here, which is nice as it means less watering of the garden. But the fact it's July already has me worried about what will actually bear fruit out there. We should see flowers on the tomatoes and peppers this month. The Russett leaves have died off for the most part, and I need to sink my hands into the soil and see if that's because the tubers are ready, or if they're rotting under the earth.

We started seeds a bit late this year, and my organizing of the plants occurred late, and I fear I'll get a good lesson in how those slights affect my yields. But as I look at the tomatoes on their stakes and remember that every one of those plants came from seed this year, no seedlings purchased at the farmers markets, I still pat myself on the back. This is the time for learning.

I applied for a position at a local paper. It's a place that has already rejected me once, so I'm being realistic about my prospects. But it's also helping me think about what I want in a career. I don't even think of what I do as a career anymore; it's what pays for our livelihood. But as the IRS continues to send letters, I realize I need to step up my game. If I don't want to work outside of the home, a helluva lot more needs to occur on the homefront.

Ansel is a hilarious ball of energy, climbing wherever he can. Our bodies still bear his scratches and bites, but he's good at listening and showing himself to be more trainable than Fig ever was. Fig is rallying from her URI, thank goodness. Giving that cat medication is a two-man job; she's probably close to 15 pounds now. I'm so finding my peace with both critters. I appreciate Fig more now, and the little guy continues to heal my emptiness. I look forward to having more animals in my life.