Sunday, March 30, 2008

Grand Kids Vs. Wild

It was Calin vs. Wild today when he and the three other visiting grand kids spent the morning fishing and exploring the fruits of spring. He caught this lizard who seemed to take a liking to Calin and spent the better part of two hours on his shirt or his head while Calin dreamed up all kinds of reasons for keeping him. He didn't win, of course and we supervised the laid back lizard's return to the front shrubbery.

It was a sign of the seasons though. Yesterday, Kolt, our 14 year old grandson from New Mexico, went to the far side of the front pond to fish and got lucky after about 15 minutes. When he walked down to the bank to release his catch, he was startled by a gigantic Diamond Back water snake that dove into the water just a few feet from him. Kolt jumped about four feet up and back, yelling all the way. At first we were concerned it was a Cottonmouth which can be deadly. But, today Mike spotted the fat reptile on the far bank again and got his binoculars out to study it closer. Of course, this was AFTER he had loaded his 22 in case it was in fact a Cottonmouth. After 15 minutes of magnified examination compared to the descriptions and pictures online, we're 99% sure it's a Diamond Back water snake which is nonvenomous. That's the good news. The bad news is that it's so fat because it's eating our fish!

Regardless of what it is, the fishing activities have been contained to this side of the pond. But I have to say that Kolt's brief and distant encounter with ole Diamond Back has certainly
made his "what I did on spring break" story have endless possibilities.

Tonight we sat around the dinner table telling both sets of kids funny stories about their parents when they were young. One day, they'll tell their kids about the summer they spent with Sugar and Pa when Kolt literally sat down next to a huge snake commenced fishing. By that time, the snake will be Anaconda size!
I wouldn't trade these moments for anything!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring Break at the Y-ME

Spring always brings with it a list of projects that need to be done and this year is no different. We've been wishing for a small fishing dock on the front pond for months so last Saturday, we conned Christi and her partner, Tina, into coming over and helping us build one.

It went together surprisingly fast! The only good thing about the lack of rain over the last few months is that the water level is down so we were able to set the posts without too big a mess. Anyway, by mid afternoon, the little dock was built and ready for paint (which will happen this weekend!). And just in time for the grandkids visit during spring break, too.

I'll post pictures when it's completely done.

We got some great news from our T-shirt company a couple of days ago. They've had twelve shirts in their line for a year now and they've decided to almost triple that amount! We spent the morning sorting through the images, uploading the ones they already know they want and outlining the top 50 best sellers so they can pick the rest of the line. Tedious work but well worth the time. The Mountain - the T-shirt manufacturer - does a knock-out job of packaging for their shirts and Mike's line (called the Back Forty) will have it's own rack. Pretty darn cool!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Spring is springing

Spring is always such a welcome relief from the drearies of winter, though our friends who live in the mountains of the northwest would argue that we never really have winter down here. There's something about spring mornings and evenings that seems to breath new life into everything. The birds and frogs are louder, the new grass is greener and the new leaves on the trees are greener still. The aroma in the air from the flowering trees is intoxicating and makes yard work seem like holiday fare. The heat of July will bring us back into reality in that department!

It's also one of the busiest times for us. New Leanin' Tree paintings are going in the studio and new art is being pulled, evaluated, captioned and selected for the t-shirt line, the Back 40. This year, we've added even more projects - like writing two books and getting the online store stocked and marketed.

It's fun and exciting and demanding and chaotic. Just getting everything we have to do in some kind of doable order is a challenge. Mike, obviously, is the only one who can do the paintings so he's safe from a lot of the hum drum stuff like scanning, sizing, and cataloging the art. But he still has to cut and prepare boards for the new pieces, sketch them on paper and then sketch them again on the boards - so I guess you could say we each have our share of routine work.

It can all be pretty overwhelming. But there's nothing better for clearing your mind than cranking up the old riding lawn mower and mowing for an hour or crawling around a flower bed, pulling weeds. It's just you, God and nature.

Works every time.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Headin' North . . . but going south

I sorta know how this gal feels - in more ways than the obvious. Sometimes, the top of the mountain is just inches away but it takes everything we have to keep ahold of it.

Our new online store is getting closer to reality everyday. We've totally overhauled and added new pages for Cow Creek Mercantile. It's looking great but it's certainly been a labor of - not love - more like a labor of . . . well, labor. Over the next couple of weeks, I'll start adding posters, etc. from other artists and pretty soon, we'll have a fairly large supply of inventory.

One issue with doing all your own website work is the chunk of time it takes out of your regular work week. Its a lot but it's worth it in the long run and the truth is, it's not that hard. Just time consuming.

This is the month Mike starts working on new Leanin' Tree paintings for next year. It's always fun to work with the folks in Boulder to come up with some fun concepts - then watch them transform into full blown paintings. When you've worked together this many years, your minds tend to move in similar directions. Mike often does a painting and send it in for the writers to review. The funny part is seeing all the potential captions that come out of it. Some can't be printed and some are just plain goofy but then there's always that one that just works.

I really like this time of year because we get to laugh - A LOT!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

In like a Lion...

So . . . Sunday was an absolutely gorgeous day for March 2nd; bright sunshine and warm winds that were bringing in a cold front and rain that night and into Monday. It was a perfect day to work outside so Mike decided to put in his ceremonial grape vineyard. He has about fifteen plants and we had some left over landscaping timbers so he grabbed the post hole diggers and started stabbing the ground. Within minutes, his post hold diggers severed our phone lines. Clean cut straight through.

Okay, so we put on our parkas and stand on the front porch between the 4th and 5th post (which is where reception is the best) for the next two days until Verizon can get out here to repair the lines. No problem.

Saturday, I got a letter from my health insurance company saying they were raising my premium by $50 a month which was most definitely not in my budget plans. I'm still paying off my hospital bills from last year, for goodness sake!

Then tonight, a department store where we bought our TV and paid the balance off last August called and said my payment was late. "But wait," I said, "we paid that off last year and you gave us the payoff amount." Hmmmm....okay, let me check. Well, yes, I see where you called for the payoff, which was $578.04 and you paid $578.04 with a phone check that day." I'm smiling that told-you-so smile on my end of the phone when he says, but it looks like they gave you the wrong amount. My calculations show you still owe $300 on this account." After much discussion, the caller promised to check it out and get back to me tomorrow. Argh!!!

I'm a pretty happy go lucky gal and anyone who knows me will say I always look for the good in people and the positive side to every situation. But, my happy go lucky isn't feeling so happy or so lucky today.

It's going to be okay though. The nice Verizon man came today and fixed the phones (which made it possible for the department store guy to call) so at least I can talk on the phone in the house if it turns cold again.

I'm sure everything will work out fine. In fact, I'm grateful for what we do have. Everybody needs a few days like the last two so they can be be thankful for all the rest!