Farm Life, Petunia the Pitbull

Recent Happenings

It’s been a few weeks so I should update you on the goings on in my world. First, let’s start with a little Tuna love, shall we…

Tuna Luv
Top left moving clockwise: * Tuna is enjoying the new hat Ling Ling knitted me. She actually slept with it on because she was cold and it was keeping her ears warm. * She’s diligently waiting by the stove for me to finish cooking her pancakes. * This is what I wake up to in the morning: just some tail, maybe a bit of muzzle and feet. * I made her model a new shirt. It all looks better on her.

Petunia is the best companion I could ever ask for. This winter has been rough on both of us but her especially. Walks have been few and far between due to her rather hairless nature and the freezing temps. I have a few coats for her but they don’t cover her extremities and her naked undercarriage is completely exposed. (I blame grandma Ling Ling for not knitting her that sweater I’ve been requesting.) She’s been a good sport about being cooped up though. She’s a pooper and a trooper!

I’m trying to figure out where I left off with this blog without looking back…because that would be cheating. The last time we met I was interviewing for the Programs Manager job at the animal sanctuary. Well, after two uncomfortable interviews, I was informed that I didn’t get the job. To say that I felt heartbroken, defeated, vulnerable and frustrated over the rejection was an understatement. Luckily, I had planned for such a letdown and as soon as I was informed of my fate, within minutes I had accepted the field biology position in Yellowstone. It will be double the hours, more pay and a lot more physically rigorous but the financial cushion will provide me with choices and opportunities that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I can take the money and buy a camper or start a store or who knows. Plus, it will give me two months of exciting fodder for this here blog. So you, my loyal reader, can rest assured knowing that there will be more embarrassing field stories to come.

I miss the farm terribly but my supervisor assured me that I was welcome to visit whenever I wanted. I have yet to take her up on the offer though. Strangely enough, of all the amazing animals I was lucky enough to work with, I miss one particular horse the most. They are one of the few creatures I’m completely terrified of but yes, when I close my eyes and think of that place, Beyond’s soulful eyes are what I see first. Please take a tour in April and send all my animal friends some love from me. I’ve been enjoying Erin’s Barn Briefs as they have kept me up to date on all the goings on with the animals. I would highly advise reading this blog post from her because it talks about how Hannah the sheep has been coping since Lambert’s death and also the recent restructuring of the endearingly menacing Goon Squad. Sounds like exciting times.

Latest thoughts and projects
Clockwise from top left: * A delicious bottle of wine made by my bud Justin paired with some locally handmade chocolates to celebrate the end of the interview process. It’s taken me 37 years to finally decide that I actually like chocolate. Strange, I know. * A mixed media piece that I completed using natural objects and a photograph I’ve taken. This prototype is perhaps the shape of things to come for me. * All this downsizing has got me tiny house dreaming. Maybe there is a camper in my future after all. * Just a portion of the stuff I’m getting rid of. My entire kitchen table is overflowing onto the floor with garage sale items. I can’t wait till it’s all gone because it’s driving me nuts; Messing with my feng shooie.

For the first entire week after leaving the farm all I did was sleep. I’ve never been so exhausted in my life. And I’ve been eating…lots. I think I’ve gained all the weight back that I lost which is a bummer but winter pudge is not completely unwelcome. I’ll lose it all once I can get back outside anyway. The weeks following have been all about making soap (which will be addressed in my next post), finding someone to take over my lease, packing up my things, getting rid of most of my possessions, and watching Battlestar Galactica.

Trying to find someone to rent my apartment has been another eye opener for me. These are dreadfully, dark and desperate times. I’ve had folks contact me that want to squeeze their entire family into my studio apartment because that’s all they can afford; mothers living in battered women’s shelters; a woman who has a kid very sick with lead poisoning from a previous living situation; many with bad credit; one with bad credit because her husband took away her kids and she had to use credit cards to pay for a failed custody attempt; most are on public assistance; many are disabled in one way or another; one works for IBM and is terrified of being laid off like many of his former coworkers; the reality goes on and on. These are tough times my friends. Be lucky for what you have because there are people just scraping by with much less.

Today, I’m enjoying my last dregs of downtime. Tomorrow I rent a cargo van and attempt to shoehorn all my belongings into it. Then it’s off to Cortland to unpack it all. Moving completely sucks but as it stands right now, most of my furniture and probably more than half of my belongings are going either to the Salvation Army or being sold in a few upcoming garage sales. I get high off of getting rid of stuff. Each item that leaves my possession is like a tiny burden being lifted. I’ve always felt this way. Most people enjoy accumulating but I’m the exact opposite. I entered the world loathing clutter. I remember as a young child cleaning out the drawers of the dinning room hutch for enjoyment. (These cleaning sprees led me to throw away important documents such as the title for the family car. Oops!) Shopping is right up there on my list of loathings. Most of my possessions are things that were given to me instead of intentionally purchased. Someday, I hope to just own the clothes on my back and walk the world.

These are bittersweet times for me but I remain optimistic. I love this area and my nearby friends but I know that moving away means moving forward. I’ve enjoyed many years of good times in the Hudson Valley but I’m also haunted by dark times and soured friendships. There’s nothing I’d like more than to put that all behind me. So much of me wants to hold on but I’ve just got to let it all go. It’s for the best.

Enough of this serious stuff. Here’s some selfie shame:

selfie shame
Clockwise starting at top left: This was a photo that I was going to send to my mother to prove that I didn’t dress like a “hay seed” for the interview. I looked very nice but was completely unable to convey that in a selfie. * I kept trying to photograph the new hat my mother knitted for me but couldn’t figure out where the camera lense was located on my tablet so I cracked up. I still don’t know where the lense is. I’m convinced it’s invisible. * Saying goodbye to the mustaches on my bathroom mirrors. Wilford Brimley stache, I’ll miss you the most. * A decent photo of Ling Ling’s newest creation. It actually fits my head which is a minor miracle. (Still can’t find that lense so I have no idea where to look.)

Making Crafty Magic

Exciting Times for The Treehouse

The Treehouse in New PaltzThe Treehouse is a small retail fine craft gallery in New Paltz, NY. Since 2012, owner/artist Kathy Preston has gone from representing eighteen Hudson Valley artists to over thirty-five artists in a variety of media, from emerging artists who have never sold their work before to established artists with decades of experience. Kathy is in the process of moving to a new space right around the corner that would allow The Treehouse to create a new community arts hub with over twice the retail space, room for a full-service tailor shop, and workshop space for adult and children’s art classes. Kathy will be partnering with Cindy Capraro in this new phase. Cindy has been a professional costume designer and tailor for television, theater and dance for the last 18 years. She is also an artist known for using found and discarded objects to create beautiful and unique art and home décor.

Cindy will run the sewing studio and also offer sewing classes, full-service dressmaking and tailoring. Kathy has local artists committed to leading after school and weekend art and craft classes for children and teens, as well as teaching adult classes in drawing, illustration, paper marbling, knitting, crochet, mosaic, jewelry design, printmaking, and more. As The Treehouse grows, so will the breadth and scope of instruction. In this new location, they’ll also be able to offer affordable hourly rates for group meeting space, and free open studio sessions for people to come with projects and receive feedback and assistance. They are focusing on reuse, repurposing, self-sufficiency, and sustainability– building practical skills that also nurture an appreciation of fine art and handcraft.  Kathy is looking for new artists to sell their work in the expanded location, as well as artists interested in teaching classes. You can find out more at www.treehousenewpaltz.com or mail Kathy at treehousehandcraft@gmail.com. Anticipated opening dates are March 1 for the shop and April 1 for the workshop space.

♥ The Treehouse is also running an online campaign right now where donors can receive fantastic perks like tailoring, art, class discounts, and more here ♥

I’ve been lucky enough to be an artist at The Treehouse for more than a year now (it may actually be more like two years–I have no concept of time at this point). Through this experience I’ve had to the opportunity to meet many new customers, artisans and friends. I’m so excited that these two lovely ladies are pursuing their dreams to the fullest and taking the entire community along with them to help others do the same. I’m crossing my fingers and toes that this move will happen because I’ll be right there knocking on their door. Whatever you ladies need, count me in! For more pics of just what kind of crafty curation Kathy is capable of, even in the smallest of spaces, visit my post here.

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Meet the Artists

The Treehouse.
The Treehouse.

It’s that wonderful time of year when The Treehouse has it’s semi-bi-annual Meet the Artists Reception and Preview. Now is the time. Today is the freakin’ day people. Let’s do this! From 6 pm to 8 pm at 5 North Front Street in New Paltz, you can enjoy some snacks and beverages with the artists that make The Treehouse so darn eclectic and awesome. Come visit me. I would love to talk to you about what I do and answer any of your questions. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, and we’ll have a great time doing it.

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The last reception was a hoot! I got to meet so many wonderful people and I can’t wait to do it again!

Also, this Saturday is the last outdoor Saugerties Farmers Market of the season. If you hear some disembodied whimpering right now, don’t worry, that’s just me crying. The indoor winter market will start up at the end of October but sadly, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it. We shall see. In any case, please make an extra effort to come see me this Saturday if you need to purchase anything before the holidays. I will have more $2.00 soaps and $4.00 Halloween soaps, plus $1.00 soapy sticks. Concentrated liquid soaps are also back in stock: Lavender & Tea Tree, Lemongrass & Tea Tree and Sweet Orange & Tea Tree–8 ounces for $8.00. These liquid soaps can be diluted and used for dish washing, body washing, hair washing, dog washing, laundry washing, washing out someone’s dirty mouth…pretty much any washing need you may have. Plus, dilute a little bit in water, add some vinegar and lemon juice, and you have a fantastic household cleaner. And behold the awesomeness that is the $6.00, 2.25 ounce deodorant made with beeswax; neem oil; lemongrass, sweet orange and tea tree essential oils; olive oil infused with herbs; and shea & cocoa butter. This is some seriously good stuff here–it’s like a salve on steroids–and I will have it available. It can be used as a lotion, as a solid perfume (because it smells fantastic!) or a deodorant. And if none of this sounds even remotely appealing, remember, I don’t just sell soaps in my booth. Heck no! I also sell bags, table runners, tea cozies, and jewelry so there’s lots of shopping to be had.

IMG_20130907_134315As always, I will be available via Etsy (and I’m working on adding a store to this site) but my vending schedule is still being worked out. If you know of any events that you think I’d like to attend, please let me know. I want to do as many shows as possible this season. Ling Ling is getting her scarves ready to sell (she outsold me last week…jerk!) so we’ll be able to divide and conquer the craft show circut.

Essential Oil Deodorant & Solid Perfume Bar: infused herbs, beeswax, neem oil, butters, tea tree, lemongrass, sweet orange, salve, body bar

Energy Healing

Ting…ting…the earth is humming.

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No, this is not an odd set of barbecue tools or fetish equipment! Get your mind out of the gutter.

Okay, from what I gather (and I’m completely oversimplifying here), the earth makes a vibratory tone as it makes its 365 day trip around the sun. That’s where the sound Om comes from. More simply put, Om is the sound of our big mutha earth hustling her way around that hot, sweaty ball of flame. It’s the vibration of our planet and it’s 136.10 Hz to be exact. That’s a wild and wonderous concept to me.  Damn near mind-blowing! Chanting Om has been shown to have a very soothing and grounding effect on the body. The reason is because our bodies are susceptible to and strongly influenced by such tones and their vibrations. This influence is most felt in our seven chakras–our energy portals–and even our chakras emit a certain frequency. Just think about it, our bodies are singing, just like the earth. It’s definitely poetic when you let yourself give in to the whimsy of it all. Well, I recently let go of a few pinched pennies and invested in a set of tuning forks specifically attuned to our chakras and the Om earth-tone. My rationality was that they were a business investment because I knew they would enhance my reiki sessions. I was first introduced to tuning forks by my reiki teacher and I found them to be the best part of the entire session (okay, it’s a tie with the reiki massage). And although I’m itching to use them on others, to be quite honest, both Petunia and I have been enjoying them every day. Petunia completely freezes when I use them on her, like she’s in a trance, and she gets this glassy-eyed, far off look about her. Like she’s dreaming of a never-ending pasta bowl. They sound and feel fantastic. Heck, business investment or not, these are worth it.

And speaking of Petunia Fish…

DSCF2706My hairy little Florence Nightingale has been taking care of my sick, sorry ass for almost a week. Oh what would I do without her? I don’t even want to ponder such a question. I’ve had the yuckiest sinus infection…and it’s not even winter yet. I don’t stand a chance when cold and flu season kicks into high gear. Neti pot = best friend! However, none of this sickly silliness will keep me away from my beloved Saugerties Farmers Market this Saturday from 10 am to 2 pm. One of the best people you’ll ever meet in the whole wide world will be doing a chef demo and I will be lovingly heckling him from the sidelines. Awe!

Whole garlic
Joe Aiello of Mangia Bene Farm (he’s the one on the right in the picture, shown with an enthusiastic customer) will demonstrate a surprise garlic dish. Yum!

Travel

A Hudson Valley Hamlet: Connelly, New York

I'm obsessed with this old firehouse.
I’m obsessed with this old firehouse.

I wanted to share with you some photos of where I live. In January of 2008, I was offered a dream job (turtle biologist!) in the Hudson Valley with the stipulation that I would start almost immediately. This was particularly challenging since I lived almost four hours away, I didn’t know the area very well, and it was the dead of winter–thus making it hard to just whizz on down there to look for suitable lodgings. Even worse, my sweet Petunia is a pit bull so most landlords won’t even consider us. My task seemed im-freakin-possible. However, my friend/supervisor ran into an acquaintance who was looking for a tenant. And as luck would have it, she was having an open house the next day. Petunia and I jumped in the car Dukes of Hazzard style, prayed for good weather, and made the slushy drive. Three and a half hours later, we found ourselves in perhaps the quirkiest place that this crazy state of New York has to offer. And that’s saying a lot! It has the claustrophobic street layout of New Orleans, the feral cat population of Key West and the diversity of New York City.

For simplicities sake, Connelly is three marinas in various states of shabbiness with a few adjoining streets. It’s on the Roudout Creek and is almost directly across from Kingston’s bustling Roudout-West Strand Historic District. Being that it’s only a few streets wide and a few streets long, it’s not on anyone’s radar. Some of its quirks include a dog poop station, a fix-it station, a community tomato garden, a memorial to residents who’ve passed, and a sketchy bait and tackle shop. Plus it has the amenities of a larger town such as its own post office (located in a house) and even its own fire department. I loved it as soon as we drove in, even in its snow-covered state. Petunia immediately won over the landlord, the apartment was perfect, and the rest is history…or so I thought. In 2009, the place I worked for nearly went under so I moved back upstate–leaving my sweet Connelly behind. Throughout the years, my landlord (who I would now consider a friend) would contact me to let me know that “my apartment” would soon be available and that the place isn’t the same without Petunia. I’ve been tempted many times to return but the timing just didn’t align until now. I’ve always told my friends that this place is magic and I definitely believe it. Just yesterday, Petunia and I took our early morning walk with an older lady who paints pet portraits for a living. The day before, my car-hoarding Jamaican neighbor threw butternuts at me and cracked up laughing because I couldn’t figure out where the heck they were coming from. There’s hijinx everywhere. Oh, it’s grand to be back!

This is where I live.
This is where I live.
This lovely abandoned building is actually the view from my porch.  The owner is hoping to make it into a creative space for makers.
This lovely abandoned building is actually the view from my porch. It was once an old school house.
A view from my street. That brick house is seemingly abandoned and it's a crying shame.
A view from my street. That brick house is one of my favorites. It was seemingly abandoned for a while but now a family has moved in.

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Our lovely park complete with playground equipment, a b-ball court and baseball field. Sadly, all underutilized.
Our lovely park complete with playground equipment, a b-ball court and baseball field. Sadly, all underutilized.
I adore the bright yellow house on the left.
I adore the bright yellow house on the left.
Tuna-butt!
Tuna-butt!

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Why the heck don't I have a boat? I clearly didn't get the memo.
Why the heck don’t I have a boat? I clearly didn’t get the memo.

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One of Connelly's wonderful quirks.
One of Connelly’s wonderful quirks.
It's all mine...as soon as it goes up for sale.
It’s all mine…as soon as it goes up for sale.
Standing at the four corners.
Standing at the four corners.
A memorial for resident who have passed.
A memorial for residents who have served our country.
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A ripe weekend ahead

This weekend = me, you, and some large, tasty, juicy, ripe, delicious, scrumtrulecent tomatoes. Maybe we could wear matching tomato costumeTomato costumes and lose ourselves in the moment? Perhaps do some juggling? Let’s do it! I know you want to. The Saugerties Farmers Market is hosting their annual tomato taste-off. Awesome prizes will be given for the tastiest and heaviest. I can’t wait to see some of my beloved vendors get down and dirty trying to win this competition. Seriously, I can see Joe from Mangia Bene throwing down! Gosh, I envy that panel of judges. I want to win so bad but sadly I haven’t grown a single tomato this year. Next year, I’ll be a contender. Regardless, come visit me under my tent. I know I was sick last week so I promise to be there no matter what tragedies may befall me betwixt now and Saturday. Yup, I said betwixt. And I probably should refrain from tempting fate by talking tragedy. Oh well, tempt I shall. See you Saturday then? From 10 am to 2 pm. Oooh, I also have coupons for my coaching and reiki services to give away. $25/hour session. Not too shabby.

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More market action to be had.

I will be at the Saugerties Farmers Market tomorrow for your shopping pleasure, from 10 am to 2 pm. My usual sales will be in full effect. In the meantime, enjoy some photos from last week’s Farm Animal Day. What a blast! The event was not short on humorously incongruous moments. For example, there was a petting zoo filled with wholesome families and then there was a hula hooping station right next to it that was blaring 50 Cent, Baby Got Back, rave music and other inappropriate tunes. It was perfectly delighful! The only downside was the chickens squished together in a cage. This I am not a fan of at all. One chicken in one cage, maybe, but not ten chickens in one cage. Me and some other vendors were making plans to free them but we were afraid we’d be banned from the market. So let me say this now for the record, if I see such foolishness next year, I’m putting on a disguise and springing them. Done deal.

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I’m Back!

As of this Monday, I will be back in the Hudson Valley and ready to rock! That means my Etsy shop(s) will be reopening soon, I will be off hiatus with the HV Etsy Team, and I will be back at the Saugerties Farmers Market every Saturday starting August 10th. So mark your calendars because good times are afoot! In the meantime, enjoy these photos that the uber-talented Nancy from Draped in Jewelry took at our last event in Fishkill. Also, if you weren’t aware that I even left you for two months…well I did. Check out my other blog to see what I was up to.

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A rainy market in my trunk

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imageWell the first Saugerties Farmers market was interesting, to say the least. Due to high winds we had to forgo tents but it was also cold and raining. None of this makes for a busy and fun market. Yet, with a little ingenuity, we made it happen and people came out to support us. Those with water/wind delicate items chose to vend from their trunks. I must say, my dirty trunk cleans up nicely in a pinch! I might just do this all the time–it’s so simple! Although it wasn’t the ideal first start, I met new people, reunited with old friends, and sold way more than I expected so I can’t complain.

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The Saugerties Farmers Market opens this Saturday!

The Saugerties Farmers Market is back! Please join me and the rest of the awesome vendors for a gorgeous day full of yummy food and great music. Sweet Pea’s will be selling a wide variety of soaps, plus deodorant, shampoo, cleaning sprays and jewelry! And maybe some bug repellent–providing I can stop time long enough to make it.

Opening Day for the 2013 Summer Season of the Saugerties Farmers Market will be May 25th, 10 AM to 2 PM at 119 Main Street Saugerties, NY 12477. We will be offering Fresh and Local fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, honey, flowers, cheeses, breads and on-site dining. The Ceremonial Ribbon Cutting will be a 10 AM with local dignitaries attending. Music will be provided throughout the day by Passero, with a Chef’s demonstration, at 11 AM, presented by Jimmy Tamayo. Art Lab Children’s Art Space project- Glossy Paper Flowers.
For additional information call: 917-453-2082