Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits!

Many years ago, when I was first working, my Boss told me of a superstition (for lack of a better word) that brought good luck.  He told me that if I said, "Rabbits, Rabbits, Rabbits" on the 1st day of each month, it would bring me good luck.  Even better, if I said it before anything else in the morning of this first day, better luck would come my way.  So, when I can remember, I say it.  It hasn't made much of a difference yet, but maybe, I have had great luck, without even knowing it.

Welcome to November.  This is when things start ramping up.  We are on a sugar high from Halloween, but looking forward to baking for Thanksgiving, and then all the Christmas/ Hanukkah treats that are sprinkled through the next month, create a sparkle until the end of the year.

Down here in Florida, the "Season" is just getting started.  There is always so much more to do each week, and it is fun filled and friend filled, as the seasonal residents arrive again.

One of the things that I enjoy doing, is going to Estate Sales.  There is a great App called:  "Estatesales.NET" and if you put in your zip code, they will let you know weekly about estate sales in your area.  We have found wonderful things - some big, and some small, but all intriguing.

Recently, I found this old cigar box.
I wanted to use it to hold art supplies.
But...when I opened this box up, this is what I found......

After I got this home, I realized that the box originally
held within it, a story.
The cigars were handmade in Kingston, NJ, for B&S
and I think that they were meant to be given out for a very special occasion...

Either a very special birth date...or possibly a wedding?
I can create a whole story around this box,
but I am certain that it won't be used for art supplies.

We are still taking short trips, called "Sploring".  We decided to head to Savannah, GA for a "Sploring" diversion.  We stopped in New Smyrna Beach, FL, as we headed north.  We walked the beach along side the cars that are allowed to drive on the beach for $10.  

There is still a lot of damage along this coast.
Electricity is still spotty as well as the internet.
Hurricane Irma really 'whacked' the east coast all the way up to & into GA

Once we arrived in Savannah, we walked the city and each of it's squares.  We always delight in this magical place, filled with great food, energy, art and SCAD, which is tucked into every corner of the city.  While we were there, several things were going on:  First, there was an amazing 'Rodin" exhibit at the Jepson Center, part of Telfair Museums.

This is Rodin's, "Gates of Hell".  When he lost this commission,
after the piece was completed, he took "The Thinker", "the Lovers"
and other parts of this masterpiece and cast them as individual pieces.
...and Rodin became wealthy from this lost commission.
(another great story, I think)

As we walked around the city, we found a different forms of art in the making....two movies were being filmed within the city.  Here was a quick photo of setting up a scene (which, took an hour,
to become 30 seconds of film).  Of course, security discouraged photos, so I could only catch a glimpse for you.  This film will be out in 2018, called "Killerman 2" (I didn't know that there was a Killerman 1!)  Also filming, was, "Antman 2".  The city bustled with excitement.

Tremendous work goes into films.
The set up, security, details that went into this one scene
amazed us.  By late afternoon, they were shooting around the corner.
The director shared with the gawkers, that they shoot from
sunup to sundown (often 17 hour days).

Now, back home, we are catching up and I am trying to find some time each day, to work on my art.
Slowly, I continue with this drawing.  Hopefully, by December, it will be complete.  

This is a colored pencil overlay of a pencil drawing.
Last month, I posted a photo of the beginning of the drawing.
 I am progressing towards the completed work.
It takes many layers of pencil to create the effect of each leaf.

Enjoy November, with it's cooler days and the beginning of the Holiday season.  I am glad for this moment of gratitude, in November.  It has been such a chaotic year.  Some years prove to be harder than others, with loss, health issues, weather, and politics.  So much anger fills the papers every day, that just taking moments out for gratitude, keep me going.  

Please leave a comment, if you can, about what you are grateful for this year, and what has been difficult for you.  Kindness in all comments is appreciated.


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Art and such

We are getting back to normal around here.  The trash has been hauled away.  The tree that was leaning dangerously close to the house was taken down (very carefully!).  The repairs continue, as we are on the waiting list and the lack of supplies are limiting the ability to make the repairs.  We wait patiently, enjoying the morning paper and coffee, with my New Susan Branch Mug.  It is the "Bluebird of Happiness" mug.  I bought it because we were spared the worst of Irma's wrath.

Nothing like my favorite morning Joe
with a rice cake and almond butter!
Oh, yes...and the WSJ!

Canada celebrated Thanksgiving this past week.  With friends to the North, I sent a small colored pencil drawing that I had completed as a sketch.  For some reason, our friend likes figs, so I whipped up a fig drawing and sent it on its way.  I have been doing that from time to time.  Just surprising someone with a little sunshine.  I think it helps, in these times of chaos and disaster.  That's the hope.


I was catching a bit of Facebook, the other day, and I found a thought that stuck with me.  It is not really a quote, but it is a thought, which I will share.  

"When you hear Contempt from others
Answer with warm Heartedness"

That is hard to do, in these troubled times when angry words and contempt for others, reveals itself.  To turn the other cheek and be warm hearted, as the Dali Lama stated, can be difficult.  I am a more of a person that hears what Maya Angelou once said:

"When People show you who they are, believe them"

but that doesn't mean that I can't be civil.  I can.  Now, I need to find the warmth in my heart to answer with warm heartedness.  This will be a difficult task, but one can always start somewhere.

Okay, "back to work", My Mama used to say.  I bought this pumpkin at the grocery store, and did a quick study.  I may make some cards out of it, but it may also land in someone's mailbox.  You never know.

I take photos of my work to see the progress, and sometimes,
I forget to photograph after the work is completed.
This was almost done, but it was a quick check and a poorly lit photo.
This was a pencil drawing with watercolor over it, and colored pencil on top of that for details.

I felt like playing with veggies
When I was done playing, I realized that the proportions were off.
Still, I had lots of fun doing this one.

One of the tasks which I am working on, is 'playing' with art.  Every piece cannot be a masterpiece.
Sometimes the color is off, or the proportions are incorrect, but everyday can be a day of exploration.
I always learn from doing my daily sketches & taking time for some artistic play.  

This is part of a larger piece.  I am experimenting with working in graphite first.
Then, I am layering the colored pencil on top.
So far, I am quite pleased with the beginnings of this work.

We are heading out to explore the world soon.  I hope to have photos to share, and continued sketches and work to be revealed. 




Saturday, September 23, 2017

Preparation - Evacuation - Clean up - Normalcy

Hello Friends!  Yes, we are back in business, here on the West coast of Florida.  Whew!  I won't describe this past month as an adventure (though, in some respects, it was!!).  It was a moment in time that was filled with a low level of anxiety and wonder.  Having never been through a Hurricane, I knew that Irma was going to be a wild and crazy experience.

PREPARATION:    We tried to think of all the lists of things to do in a Hurricane.  We had packed up food, water, sleeping bags, clothing, etc.  I really didn't grab the photo albums.  There were too many, and I thought that if we lost the house, I would want to remember the details of my life in my head.
The waiting and anticipation was hardest.  Should we leave or should we stay.  should we head to our Son's home, or drive away from the storm (hard to figure that one out, since it covered most of Florida!).  So We prepared and waited:

Furniture removed from Patio
Window coverings put on (they are a mesh material)
Plants tucked away

Important papers, food, sleeping bags
at the ready...just in case we evacuate.
Now, the waiting begins.......
Sweet Hubby bought "high Water" boots
and I already had a pair, which we set
by the back door.
Just in case....

While we waited, I started a small watercolor of 'bleeding hearts'.


The days before the hurricane were beautiful.  The sun was shining; the garden was in it's glory; the house was clean and orderly; and all elements of the exterior had been prepped.  Irma kept changing her mind, and by Friday afternoon, Sweet Hubby checked in with the kids (who had to work and also had the flu, so they couldn't leave) but decided that we needed to get on the road.  He found a hotel with a cancellation, filled the car with gas, and estimated that with one small fill-up, we could make it to Pensacola.  What we did not count on was:  Cars on fire from overheating; Traffic at a dead stop for hours; no gasoline...any where!  We ended up sleeping in our car, in front of a family members house (it was 2:30 a.m., by the time we got there, and we were not going to wake them up).  We found gas at 6:00 a.m. and probably got the last gas available for fifty miles.  We called for hotel reservation in Valdosta,GA;  Pensacola, Fl;  Montgomery and Birmingham, AL.  We found a reservation in Birmingham and took off.  We drove the back roads, stopping in Montgomery, at the Southern Poverty Law Center's, Civil Rights Memorial Center.  It had been on my bucket list for years, and though we were exhausted, it was an amazing center, and an emotional visit.

A bucket list moment!

We landed in Birmingham, to a crowded Hotel, filled with Floridians.  There were Grandma's and Grandpa's; Mom's & Dad's with dogs, puppies, cats, Teenagers hangin' out, as well as kids & babies crawling and walking and playing together.  The hotel put out a welcome of doggie biscuits, diapers, water bottles, etc. and a list of things to do in Birmingham.  The television monitors were all on "The Weather Channel".  This would be our home for four days.

We called the kids and reminded them that we had a nice place to stay...please come!!  Over that four days, we would text our California kids and Florida kids constantly....even being the eyes and ears, when the hurricane's eye headed directly over the kids.  To say that we slept peacefully, would not be honest, but we had air conditioning, electricity, hot food, and hospitality like no other.  We loved the city of Birmingham, and tried to explore it, when we weren't focused on the hurricane.  

Of course, where would I head, but to the Botanical Gardens.
They did not disappoint.
A beautiful, calming place.

A  very zen place

The Vulcan is a Birmingham symbol
that represents the Steel and cast iron industry.

Sweet Hubby was told by my brother, that there was a nice museum that he would enjoy.  We visited the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum.  With a beautiful setting in the hills, and a Porsche driving school, next door, my Hubby was 'all in'.   Mostly, it was filled with wonderful motorcycles through out the ages, and Lotus Elan's (which my brother loves and collects....see the connection?).  Here are a few of my favorites.

Wouldn't this be fun to take to the grocery.  It's a tandem bike, but the wicker is just 'beachy".

all that chrome!
You have to love a Harley!

I wanted to take this home, for the after hurricane clean up!

And this is for my brother.   All the Lotus are lined up in order of age.
All are timelessly beautiful.

After "Irma" passed through Florida, it spread out to the east and north, to do more devastation.  So far, between Hurricanes:  Harry; Irma; and Maria, people were left in much worse situations than we can even imagine.  Help is difficult, but the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and untold Church groups are uniting, to try to make a difference.  If you can do something, any little bit is helpful.  It is going to be a life changing event for many.  We were so grateful that our home was still standing, without any interior damage.  We had screens torn up and trees down (or leaning quite a bit) and tons of stuff that blew into the yard.  Next up for us:  Donations with a grateful spirit and yard cleanup, in that order.

since we lost screens, the pool needed a good cleaning.

Many screens blew out.
We are 'on the list' and waiting.
We will replace all of the screens, as many are ripped  from the wind.

A most beautiful Jacaranda was split in two.

If you look right above the garage, a Pine is listing to the left (over the house).
We need to go through the HOA, in order to cut it down.
Slash Pines do not do well in wind, sad to say.
p.s.  that is our clean up pile on the curb.

And the beginning of the trash bag mountain, under our orange tree.
We ended up with about 20 bags of 'stuff' from the yard.

When I am nervous, I like to do hand work.  I finished this while we were evacuated.
It is my new motto.
The original pattern was created by Charlotte Lyons, Of House Wren Studio.
She has a shop on Etsy, if you want to purchase this pattern.
ETSY:  Charlotte Lyons

Just another day at the beach.
Every thing looked so normal on our walk, yesterday.
(lots and lots of shells, though)

For the next month, I will be working on bring back normalcy to our house, our children's home in Florida, and to all of those around us who need a helping hand.  There is clean up needed everywhere,  and just a cheerful face can make someones day, but filling their cupboards up would be even better.  Hopefully, we can all reach out and help out.  If you read this and need some help, please let me know.  

Be well.  Much love.  Caring thoughts.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The "Wait" before the storm

It's September, and if you live in Florida, it means that you are waiting for some sort of storm.  For us, it is Hurricane Irma.  It is so hard to believe that a category 5 Hurricane will be coming our way soon, as the sun shines and the birds are singing all around us.

We are prepared! We have put up the hurricane screens, put away all of the outside 'stuff'; put our valuables & a suitcase full of clothing aside for immediate evacuation.  We have water and the cars are all gassed up and waiting to sit on I-75 heading away from the Hurricane.  It might not be too bad, but one must think about such things and wait patiently for Mother Nature to make up her mind.

On a lighter note, I have been quite busy this month.  I have been drawing a lot this summer, and I want to share my work.  I have also been doing some projects around the house, since the heat has limited a lot of outdoor activities.  So, let me begin.....

The Eclipse!
Well, it was only a partial one and we didn't have glasses
so I made up a wheaties box for viewing.
This is my photo with my phone
Not sure just what to make of it,
but I think that we missed the effect of the total eclipse.

Next time, I think we will travel to see the total eclipse.  I was grateful to watch the West Coast eclipse on NASA video.  Wow!  I can only imagine how fun it would have been to actually be there.

I had some cards made from a drawing that I did in Maine.

work in progress

I worked on this Wasp Nest.  I had brought it from Colorado
and wanted to draw it for several years.
It was done in graphite and overlaid with colored pencil.

I worked on this old cabinet, found at a local garage sale.  It was filthy, stained, and sort of a big mess, but I painted it white, and Robins egg blue inside.....and put on some new handles, that I picked up on our vacation in Maine.  (Look Closely....hope they make you smile).

We are using it as a bar or serving station, when company comes a calling.

This is a very old piece, a dried Sunflower,
that I went back and detailed just a bit.
It is fun to go back to look at old work and be able
to make it feel more finished.

While Houston was dealing with a deluge, we received 16 inches of rain.
Our 'already saturated' ground couldn't hold any more water, and
we had some neighborhood flooding.
I fear that this will repeat itself again this weekend.  

Water, water everywhere!!

I am ready to see the close of this Hurricane season.  I would also like to see the fires on the West Coast calm down and some of our rain would head their way.  You have to admit, that there are some CRAZY natural disasters happening out in the universe.

And....(drum roll, please....), I have saved the best for last.   I spent three weeks of the past month, working on this project.  I learned to sew as a young girl, and I have slip covered many pieces of furniture.  This was an old red Wing chair, and I wanted to change the color to a more neutral one.  I like the way that it turned out.  

This was almost finished...but I wanted to add a different pillow.
Let me know which one you like best.

the back
before it was ironed and a few details were completed.

Here is the final look.  I stenciled the chair & the pillow
with chalk paint.  The chair now sits in a transition space
between living room and the family room.

I may trade out the pillows for fun.

So, that was my August.  While the heat was on in Florida, I made use of my time inside.

I hope to come back next month with good news regarding weather.  You will know before I write, just how this area handled "Irma".  I am preparing for the worst and hoping for the best for all of Florida.  I am also hoping that Houston is back on it's feet soon.  Hopefully, we can all focus on their recovery, and help them in any way we can.  

Be well....

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

On the road and back - my continuing Summer..

Hello - We spent the last month traveling north to Maine, and back again.  It is always an adventure for us, especially with so much traffic this summer.  There were loads of cars and even more trucks that kept us 'at attention'.  We decided to visit some interesting places, going and coming and I would like to share them with you.  My art work was put on hold for a bit, while we explored and re-energized our spirits.

Our first stop was Athens, Georgia.  It is a beautiful University town, with a lively downtown.  Our only problem, was the huge sound & Light show that appeared out of nowhere.  Just as we were parking our car,  the lightening surrounded us, as claps of thunder roared overhead, and torrential rains fell from the skies.  Wow!  That cut short any possibility of exploration.  We will try again, Athens!

Next night, we stopped in Durham, North Carolina.  We wanted to visit Duke University and see their campus.  Founded by Methodists & Quakers, it was an intriguing place, tucked away in the woods, yet stunning in it's architecture.  The gothic chapel just knocked us out.  We spent the last light of the day, walking all around the campus.  Here is a peek!

Isn't this amazing?

Onward to Washington, D.C., where we stayed with good friends and celebrated July 4th.  There are nothing like old friends, to warm your heart.  We enjoyed fabulous food, friendship, and firefly's, as well as fireworks, seen from their front yard.

As we left Washington, we visited the Hillwood Museum, home of Marjorie Merriweather Post.  If you are ever in the area, this is a "must see", for both the beauty and the history lesson, that it provides.  Plus, the gardens are an added bonus.  

We drove up to Maine, and stopped at some of our favorite places along the way.  Of course, we didn't want to miss Freeport, with it's many shops & the ever famous,  L.L. Bean.   We also stopped at Stonewall Kitchen, to load up on jams and jellies and have their Lobster BLT.  Oh, My!!  

The Maine Botanical Gardens were our next stop.  This botanical Garden has grown exponentially and they have lots of plans in the works.  We saw some of our favorites, and lots of new things.  The Children's Garden is really the best one that I have ever seen.  They also have a fairy garden that was built with love by many little hands.  
This orb was placed along a path towards a contemplative garden.
Calming and serene

This bronze pinecone has been at the MBG since the beginning.

I added a little love to the fairy garden.

This was built into the fairy garden.
One little boy was quite busy building his fairy house, while telling his Dad,
"Boy, I bet everyone that didn't come with us will be really sad that they missed this"
That made me smile!

Of course, the flowers were remarkable, too!!

Moving on, we settled in a beautiful little cottage just south of Boothbay, Me.  It was serene and just what we needed for a few weeks.  We spent our time exploring, reading, writing and walking the islands and peninsulas of Maine.  The cool weather was just what we needed, and even showers and fog couldn't dampen our spirits.  

This was near our we crossed a small bridge to an even smaller island. 

The view from our cottage.

Oh yes, we had plenty of sunshine, too.

But, I loved the serene softness of the fog.

We loved the little dinghy's tucked into the cove.

The evenings were spectacular!  The sky was so dark, that we could see an amazing amount of stars.
We even had the opportunity to see the Northern lights on display, one evening.

It was nice to see flowers that we grew in Colorado, filling every garden in Maine.  We miss the simple daisy or Tiger Lily, which were everywhere.  

Darling Daisies and a Black eyed Susan peeking through.

A hybrid Lily, in the MBG


Tiger Lily

Oh, yum!

Bad news is that I got a tick bite!
This was after we dug him our and he didn't want to leave!!

I happen to love the entire Wyeth clan.  Andrew Wyeth was turning 100 this year, and in his memory, there were several art exhibits in the area.  We visited the Farnsworth Museum, in Rockland.  We also went out to see "Christina's House", better known, as the "Olson House", in Cushing, ME.  Andrew's famous painting of Christina Olsen and the many paintings of the house are iconic.

Christina's House in Cushing, ME.
tours are given daily

Andrew Wyeth is buried nearby.

The house has been repaired but not enhanced.
It tells it's own story about Christina and her brother
and the difficult life they had.
Andrew Wyeth considered them dear friends,
and they were loved and adored by all the children in the area.
Neither Christina, nor her brother ever married and
they both died within a few months of each other.

A view from their window

I did manage a few quick sketches
while I was in Maine

After leaving Maine, we took one more opportunity to explore something on Sweet Hubby's 'bucket list'.  He has always wanted to see the Frank Lloyd Wright home, "Falling Waters", which is just outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  So, we drove to this wonderful example of modern architecture.  We had booked our tour way ahead, and splurged on the whole house, in depth tour, which allowed us to take photos.  We also found out that there was another FLW house nearby, called,  " Kentuck Knob".  Since, we just happened to find out at the last minute, we could not take photos, but we did get to take a tour of the house, which was one of the last ones that FLW designed and built.  You could see the many differences that time and experience. had allowed FLW to create.   so, here we go...the last of the trip, but a very real treat for us to see.

Falling Waters

These windows were far ahead of anything that had been created in 1935

This is a door leading down the stairs, to the water.
It is a part of the living room and was opened up, and used to enter the water,
on calmer days of late summer.

the corner windows opened for ventilation.

There was a view of the water from  almost every window

The cantilever patio has been completely reconstructed.

I fell in love with this staircase going up to the third level of the house.
Yes, it is an outside entrance, (but there was an inside entrance, as well)
The house was a summer home for the Kaufmann family, residents of Pittsburgh.

I will leave you with another view of the falls
To be there, with the sound of water surrounding you,
was truly an amazing experience.

And so it goes..... the end of Summer approaches and soon, school will begin for many, and the energy in the air will be different.  These summer adventures have been such a gift to me and Sweet Hubby.  We are grateful to have the time and energy to make these trips.  Soon, it will be too hard to drive for a month.  But, for now, I am thrilled that we can go exploring.  I learned something new every day.  

I hope your month is a good one.  I will have a lot less to report, next month, but I will be back.  💚