About Corva Bella

This is why I haven’t been around much. C and I are very busy preparing to move in the Spring, working on many 4H projects and starting up our small homestead farm, Corva Bella.

We just recently acquired a kunekune weanling boar, and a flock of chicks! We have chicken coops and runs, and raised garden beds to assemble, house plans to choose, and hundreds of tulip and daffodil bulbs to plant. And fruit trees!

Two paddle outings: Lake Jocassee and Lake Keowee!

Just a quick hello to share some paddling pictures! I’ve been trying hard to regain my work-life balance and I am winning out over the rat race. Constantly working, I have to admit, drains my soul.

First paddle- Lake Jocassee, on a super windy day. It doesn’t look it, but we were bobbing around like corks out there and couldn’t stand up at all. We made it from the remote boat ramp over to the main boat launch, where I found a nice old man who gave me a ride back over to the remote launch, so I could retrieve the car and bring it back to where our boards were.

Second paddle was this past Friday, setting out at the Keowee-Toxaway state park boat ramp. We had plans to make it to the Jocassee Dam, but a strong headwind started to whip up, and the clouds were turning black up on the blue wall… so we turned back around! Shortly after that, a friendly boater stopped and asked us if we wanted a lift back. He’d seen us about 2 hours earlier and figured we were tired. The answer was YES! The sky wasn’t really that dark in person, I have a “dramatic” setting on my waterproof camera that I like to goof around with, since I can’t bring my DSLR with me on the water.

Hot summer, brief update!

Life has been full, and rich. Colorful and hectic. I haven’t been able to blog in months because all of my energies have been focused in other, more crucial areas. Life is a constant ebb and flow of these elements. And the last five difficult years seem to finally be morphing into a semblance of peace… the thing in life which I need more so than any other. Except perhaps happiness, and freedom and chocolate…

The last time I wrote here, my Son and I had spent a beautiful day paddleboarding on Lake Jocassee… as I write this, I’m waiting for the sun to rise so that we can drive to Lake Jocassee and paddleboard, today! We haven’t been paddleboarding since last time. Late Spring and Summer has been full of activities. My Son has been involved in numerous 4-H clubs, such as the organic gardening club, robotics club, dog training club and BB gun/sharpshooting club. We do chess club every week at the library, and he spent two weeks at a Camp Fire program summer camp, one of them doing an intensive outdoor/survival type of camp, which he loved. In June, C attended the State BB Gun Championships and won a bunch of awards. In addition, his sharpshooting team had the overall high scores.

Work has been hectic and with all of these activities going on, difficult for me to manage. In June, my “Sitelock secure” website was hacked, and I ended up having to be shut down for ten days. In that ten days I had to seriously make positive things happen, such as doing damage control, communicating transparently with customers about what had happened, researching a better e-commerce alternative, and designing and migrating a new site on a different platform. Somehow, it all worked out. And fortunately, it happened while my Son was at camp, so none of the chaos and extremely long work days affected my time with him.

Work has been such a struggle for me, because I have to work as much as possible to provide financial support (as a single parent there is no one I can fall back on for this, it’s all up to me!), but at the same time, my work has in the past completely taken over my life and destroyed my health. It’s so easy to get caught up in feeling like you have to meet every single request, and turn into a personalized cosmetic valet, just pushing out new products and orders while completely losing yourself in that process, out of fear that if you don’t do every single thing, a customer will get unhappy and outspoken and that in turn will harm your business. It’s a really scary cycle to get caught up in, but it’s a cycle I see so many other indie company owners feeling equally trapped in.

I work so hard at staying detached, but at the same time that detachment in and of itself doesn’t help my online popularity. I’m not a business owner who can be active online, precociously commenting on Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit with their customer base. And I really hope that my customers don’t hold this against me. As the owner of an “autistic owned and operated” business, I like to think that the intense amount of passion, time and research that I put into my products far outshines any comments or interactions I might have online. I want my products to speak for themselves, rather than people feeling like they have to buy from me because I’m “so nice” or “so funny” or “so interesting”. I might be all or none of those things if you were to meet me in real life… and in truth, I feel like they should have no bearing on whether or not you wish to purchase from my online shop. I’m not selling my personality, I’m selling cosmetics.

The Summer has been hot, humid and long. As we move into August I am already excited for cooler temperatures, colorful leaves, crisp nights, bonfires, and the return of the comfortable daily schedule that comes with the return of school. The Spring and Summer garden was bountiful, but the pounding sun makes it hard for me to think about planting for Fall.

Big changes are happening in our lives, as we recently found a piece of property that the owner was willing to do an owner financing arrangement with. Next Spring, we’ll be moving! As I move into my 45th year of life, and the potential to settle down permanently in a beautiful area which I love, one of my biggest requirements for living was wooded land, out of city limits, on a quiet street, tons of room to garden, no restrictions, and not so far out into the country that quick trips to C’s 4-H clubs and activities, or the store… becoming difficult. I found that. And I’m so excited to venture into this next leg of my journey towards peace and serenity. I know the next nine months are going to be kind of crazy… but after four years of renting and always being unsure of where we’ll be living, I can’t wait to have the sense of stability and permanence that truly having my own home… will bring. And I’m completely ecstatic at having almost an acre to contribute to my gardens, and being able to get CHICKENS!

Here’s some random pictures of our last few months… 

A day of discoveries and standup paddle board on Lake Jocassee – 5/24/15

I do admit it was a bit cheeky of us to venture out onto the lake on Memorial Day Weekend. Sundays are usually quiet, as people are mostly in church around these parts… but we survived! Found some great rock formations and discovered a white sand beach that made me feel like I was standing on a precipice over a foreign sea… I love that Lake Jocassee is this immense emerald gem, hiding in the upper NW corner of the state, yet so many people think the pinnacle of South Carolina living is a muggy, buggy, entitled golf community on the coast. We’ve been living in Oconee County for 16 months now, and every day I am still so happy to have made the decision to move here. It truly has made our lives much happier, healthier and authentic.

Many small caves… fun to explore! The water was so clear and ranged in color from deep sapphire to emerald to aquamarine. Not warm enough to totally dive in yet, but I waded up to my waist across expanses of rippled white sand, with towering rock faces eroding into the waves on either side. We saw some massive vacation mansions, and also paddled by the Jocassee Dam- kind of scary to realize the other side of it is three hundred and eighty five foot drop down into another lake (Keowee) below. Lake Jocassee is man made.

Anyway- it was a great day, perfect weather and an awesome workout. Now back to work! There is no mail service tomorrow, but I have much to do before I sleep…

I hope y’all have a safe and peaceful Memorial Day weekend!

First SUP of the year, on majestic Lake Jocassee! – 5/17/2015

It’s been such a hectic Spring, that I missed out on my favorite time of year to hike, and see all of the wild forest flowers blooming. Thankfully, the lake has warmed up quickly and we set out to paddle board two weeks earlier than last year’s first outing. And, on this most recent paddle, I spotted the elusive Oconee Bell flower. It’s only elusive to me, because I always get incredibly busy right around the time it decides to bloom!

I get a lot of questions about SUP (stand up paddle boarding). Learning how to paddle properly, and know all pertinent safety, is important. We learned how two SUP two summers ago, on Saluda Lake, just outside of Greenville, though Upstate Paddleboard. Jan, the owner, is a great person to learn to paddle from! Saluda Lake is a nice, small lake- the perfect size for beginning paddling. It’s not at all intimidating, as larger lakes can be.

If you’re interested in trying out paddle boarding in the Upstate area, you can also rent boards and arrange tours or lessons through the following outfitters:

Eclectic Sun

One with the Ride

Jocassee Outdoor Center

If you love kayaking or SUP and want an easy way to get wayyyyy across the lake over to the myriad of waterfalls and coves, check out Jocassee Lake Tours. Next time we go, we are going to look into this- because we really love the far side of the lake!

Paddle boarding can be expensive, especially if you fall in love with it and rent a board each time you go. We solved this problem pretty quickly by purchasing inflatable SUPS from Tower Paddleboard. Add onto that purchasing during their yearly sale, and making the purchase through Amazon where I could finance it over twelve months without interest… while I sold stuff on Ebay to squirrel away money for the monthly payments– and you’ve affordably got two paddle boards! We’re pretty frugal in our house. We’d rather save money towards experiences, than “stuff”. I’m not one of those people who eats out a lot, buys tons of new fashions, gets manicures/pedicures, or even has cable television. It’s easy for me to save money for a big purchase like a paddle board!

Our SUPS are inflatable. They neatly roll up into a small enough unit to easily fit into the back of my Mini Cooper. We have the 14′ Tower Xplorer model. This is their longest inflatable model, and is best suited for use on larger bodies of water where you’d like to cover more territory, basically. We also SUP with dogs and it’s nice to have that extra length. After discounts, the SUPS came to $750 each. That includes the paddle, and the pump. Despite being inflatable, they are super sturdy and easy to use. The fin is removable, so you do have to remove and reattach the fin each time you deflate and inflate. That really, is my only criticism. The plate and screw mechanism that attaches the fin is easy to lose when you’re out near the water getting your board geared up to go.

So without further ado, here’s a few pictures… I really wish I could take my DSLR on my board with me, but water and electronics don’t really mix for me at this time. So I take a small waterproof Olympus camera, with a  floater attached to it.

We started out early, from the farthest boat launch on Devil’s Fork State Park.

Long time no post, so please enjoy these baby birds…

Life has been hectic the last few months. I’ve used up all of my spoons and started pilfering from the knife and fork drawer, too. I purposefully stayed offline a lot in April to avoid the stress and strain of “Autism Awareness Month” and all the blue light drama and faux advocacy it brings. You know on Facebook- the whole “People with autism are awesome! If you know someone suffering from autism, post this on your profile for one hour. I bet most of you won’t do this”. I can’t tell you how many times this sort of thing shows up… just that it makes me want nothing to do with the internet when it does.

Work has been extremely busy and at the same time, my creative process has been in overdrive. Which is a good thing, overall… but I do have to be very careful to not overextend myself.

C has been well, and we’ve been adjusting to a completely new homeschool curriculum. The call finally arrived from Greenville Developmental Pediatrics about his Autism referral, only to discover that while his health insurance last year completely covered his diagnosis, his new health insurance (Blue Cross Blue Shield through the ACA exchange) only covers diagnosis of children up to eight years old. C just turned thirteen. Obtaining a medical diagnosis could thus cost me thousands of dollars out of pocket. Needless to say, how much will completing his official medical diagnosis really matter for him at this point?

I hope to return to more regular blogging soon… in the meantime, here’s a nest of baby birds that I observed for a few weeks!

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South Carolina Hiking: Fork Mountain Trail 3/15/15

Today was a glorious day, so we set off to hike Fork Mountain Trail. We hiked this trail back in December, and it was just as beautiful today as it was then, although spring has sprung and the forest has begun to show signs of verdant renewal…

We prefer not to hike on the weekends, so as to avoid traffic and the weekend trail rush… but after a few days of rain, we just couldn’t put it off another day. And I’m glad we didn’t- I love the change of seasons. It’s one of the things I really missed when I moved to the low country of South Carolina, where there’s really only two seasons. Six hours away in the most Northwest corner of SC, we most definitely do have four seasons. And I love that! Today it got up to 80 F, which is unseasonably warm. Actually, rather freakishly warm- this temperature should not occur until late April/Early May! My garden is happy, for now…

Today’s hike wasn’t long- just under 7 miles (GPS of hike), as I’ve been feeling rather under the weather and fighting off a sore throat for the last few days… I thought i had completely succumbed to being sick mid last week, but I couldn’t stay down for the count long- I sort of picked myself back up and glided through the rest of the week at half throttle, but really kind of wishing for a cozy bed, chicken soup and the box set of Downton Abbey that my neighbor kindly lent me.

On today’s hike, I found what I now believe to be a deer skull! I was meandering about, photographing tree trunks and moss, when I looked down and saw the skull. At first, I thought it was from a coyote with incredibly worn down teeth. Without the lower jaw, and with the front of the skull missing, there weren’t any canines. I could be wrong- what do you think? If it is a deer, it’s obviously from a doe. We brought it home and are going to disinfect it and C will display it with his other unique found objects. It will look smart next to the 4 foot long king snake skin…😉