Sunday, June 30, 2013

Restful Pursuits

This blog post is actually a prequel to campmeeting, since I didn't have any time to post about it before I left. But early in June, before I knew what a whirlwind the month would turn out to be, I had one very pleasant and restful Sabbath evening.

I need to memorialize it, because who knows how long it will be before I have another one?

Tiggy was visiting for the night, so after a judicious amount of begging from the "small" fry (both of whom tower over me, the fiends) I gave permission for a little fire in our fire pit.

This was actually the only real fire we've had since I made it last fall. The one in winter didn't count because we could hardly relax and enjoy it while freezing to death. But this fire was nice. Very nice.

I got out my guitar for the first time in years so we could do a little singing around the fire.

"Aunty, can you even PLAY the guitar????"

No, but I never let my lack of skill stop me from reaching my goals. I wanted to have guitar playing, and guitar playing I would have. Who says you have to play actual chords?

I'm an artist. Artists make their own rules. 

Once I led the way in random guitar strumming, everyone had to have a turn. We were all about equal in the musical talent department.

I can only imagine what our neighbors must have thought if they were so unlucky as to be outside during "song" service.

No evening around here could be complete without an assortment of animals thrown in. Katrina, my most recent cat rescue, came and checked out the proceedings. She joined the family in March after I  kidnapped her and had her fixed. She was supposed to return to the wild, but once her belly was shaved for surgery, she couldn't go back out in the cold. And as soon as she was in a warm place, she devoted her time to grooming herself, leaving great bald patches exposed as she worked out her giant hair mats. So she ended up staying with us.

Kind of predictable, really...

We laughed that night by the fire about how much she resembled a skunk, but the resemblance has recently gotten even more uncanny. Right before we left for Wisconsin (more on that later), I was assailed by an overwhelming chemical-smelling odor.

I quickly determined it was emanating from Katrina's general area and was alarmed to see she was frothing at the mouth. Oh, no. She must have gotten into some horrible farming chemical and was going to suffer a terrible and painful death.


Was that skunk I smelled?

It was so strong, and my nose so overwhelmed that I couldn't tell. But my gallant mother stopped by and confirmed with her fresh, unsinged nostrils that yes, indeed, Katrina was skunky. She spent the rest of the day wandering from place to place, looking disgruntled when she found that everywhere in the world turned out to be stinky.

Finley had gotten sprayed a few days before, so evidently we have a cranky skunk living somewhere close to the house. My guess is in the barn, which kind of puts a damper on my plans to clean it out this summer.

Maybe the skunk will leave on it's own.

I draw the line at running a skunk rescue.

Montana Campmeeting, 2013

Boopsie trying his best to get packed and come along.
Grumpy, left-behind cats not-withstanding, Caleb, John, and I headed off to campmeeting early Tuesday morning. The actual meetings didn't start until Wednesday night, but it would take those extra days to get ready....especially since, of necessity, I'd had to save so much preparation to do there.

So much to do! I started by shape-shifting into a million nagging pieces. There was no escaping me, and after last year,  my work crew knew better than to try! Decorating was first because it was the most fun. The backdrop was hung, and I bent my efforts to making a mountain for the Wise Man's cabin to stand on.

Looks just like one, doesn't it?

Damon and Tiggy helped me get the paper spray painted, and then Jack, Noni, and Caleb worked on taping it together into one big piece. Then I showed up, like a doctor at a delivery, and assembled it after all the hard work was done.

It turned out pretty well once it was put together. You'd never know this was only a couple desks and some cardboard boxes....

Here's the Foolish Man's house. Tsk, tsk. Built right on a flood plain, but I suppose he's applied for government flood insurance subsidies....

The whole scene, complete with hastily painted sign. I'm practicing my sign painting, because I'm going to be doing a few signs in the the next couple of weeks. I was excessively proud of how this turned out---until my dear sister pointed out I'd spelled "Build" as B-U-I-D-L-D.


So now there's a little taped line after the "B" where I cut off the old sign and taped on a whole 'nother piece of paper.

Soon it was Wednesday night and showtime. Not quite ready, but ready enough to get by.

Every time I do one of these, I end up questioning my sanity by the time I'm done. But as soon as the little kiddos show up, I forget all about the work I do ahead of time and start remembering just how completely cute and enjoyable they are. I can't help it. I'm a sucker for cute kids.

The whole crew had a great time learning about earth science....

 taking field trips to see grizzly bears (plus a swimming trip on Friday)...

discovering a different character role model each class....

and having a great time learning that Jesus is our firm foundation. I hope that they remember that lesson for a long time, because trying to live life without God's help is like---well, like building a house on shifting sand and expecting it to last.

I certainly had to depend on my firm foundation this month, and I'm grateful I found it as dependable as always.

Monday, June 10, 2013

No, NO! Bad Thunderstorm!!!!!!

I really must make this quick, but I can't leave without posting about my most be-yoo-ti-mous backdrop yet. I took more time and care than usual with this one---hmmmm, maybe that's why it turned out so well...It was completed over the course of two hot, hurried days, with one thunderstorm interruption.

I started by masking out my mountains with brown paper, something I've never bothered with before. It worked well, and I'll definitely do it again---the finished product is worth the extra time.

 I went through the same process with the dark green foothills, but got busy painting it and forgot to photograph it. The sky was done free-hand with a can of blue spray paint. I painted the green grass with a brush instead of spray paint, and that went pretty well. It helped that the paint was thin and spread on the fabric easily.

Then I added details along the stream with my brush.

All this time, I was casting worried glances over my shoulder. There was a forecast of afternoon thunderstorms, and around 6:00  this was what the sky looked like in the west.

I waited until the last possible minute, partly to give the paint longer to dry, and partly hoping it would pass to the north of us. Alas, it was not to be. Caleb and I stripped the backdrop off moments before the storm hit.

The weather forecast said the storm carried 50 mph winds. I'm not sure we got quite to that, but it was pretty intense for a little while. Try painting in THAT!

 After the storm passed, we were treated to a beautiful sunset, but it was too wet to paint more that night.

The next morning, I was up with the chickens---cranky, sleepy, sore chickens. I got the backdrop tacked back up and started to work on the large white spot still left to do. My birch forest. Oh, by the way. If you're ever pressed for time, don't paint a birch forest.

I painted some bushes in the foreground with my brush and spray painted in a hazy background for my tree trunks. Those bushes would have had a grizzly bear in them if I'd had time.


Then I painted in some white tree trunks for the foreground and watered down some gray for ghostly trunks disappearing into the forest. The black patches were easy to do---I just had to brush some black paint randomly on the trunks.

When I was  all finished, I decided I needed it darker between the trunks, so I had to go back and brush some VERY watered down dark paint in between.

No art project of mine will EVER be completed without....

MONSTER HANDS!!!!!!!!!!!

Sigh. I could have done much more, but I simply ran out of time. It was lots of fun,though, and I can't wait to see it all hung up at campmeeting. Until then, here is a very bad picture to give you an idea of what the whole thing looks like.

It was windy, OK?

The Black Hole Claims Me Again

I haven't posted in a while. (You know you missed me. C'mon, admit it!) It's because once again I've entered the sucking black hole that is Children's Divisions at campmeeting. Don't get me wrong---I love doing it, but I struggle with a certain genetic defect that leaves me chronically ill-prepared.


It's tragic.

Evidently, my brother suffers from the same malady, because he emailed me this graphic in solidarity. I feel it sums up my work style perfectly. It's like he knows me...

(If it resonates with you too, here is the link to buy the T-shirt: )

So this week, I have been super busy doing the art work for our Primary program. There might not be much Program, but the art will be great! And hopefully I'll get some of the actual material prepared when I get to Bozeman.

We leave tomorrow, so what will be painted has been painted. The lawn is mowed. The dishes are washed. The house is----don't push it. Time for one quick blog, then a shower, and packing.

The theme for this year is "Building on the Rock", using the parable of the Wise and Foolish Men as a base. We're encouraging the kidlets to build good characters using Jesus as their model. To illustrate it, I knew I wanted to make two buildings, and somewhere along the way I was inspired to make them cabins and set the scene in a Montana wilderness.

Here are a couple pictures of the Foolish Man's house being created...

The Wise Man's house is much smaller because it's going to be up on a cardboard rock mountain, but it turned out SO cute. One of the charming little quirks that I've come to accept about myself is that I pretty much think everything is going to look terrible while I'm making it. And am so thrilled when it always (usually!) turns out in the end.

If you've ever wondered how to paint a log cabin while panicked, here are some step-by-step photos....

After priming the Styrofoam insulation,  I drew the details on with a sharpie and began to work in the log details by striping light brown on the top and dark brown and black on the bottom, blending with the brush as I painted. I also painted on the ends, but that seriously should have waited until I had the logs done!

 I added some shadow details with additional black to make the entrance section "pop".

I painted the ends of the logs and added bark circles around them. I also worked in the door with black paint and a wet brush.

Almost done! I striped some light paint for the roof, using a wet brush. I could have done a better job, but the log cabin love was just about used up by that point. I also painted the windows in and shaded them in the corners.

Phew! All done and straight into Westby to catch a ride to Bozeman. The whole process of styrofoam art took several days of cramming work in wherever I could, so I was very glad to be done, and very thankful for my wonderful niece who helped by priming all the pieces.

As soon as my buildings were safely on their way, it was time to turn my thoughts to a horror I'd been avoiding for weeks....


to be cont..........