So, we had another storm this past weekend...nothing too bad just lots of wet and windy weather. We stayed put and cooked and talked and enjoyed each other's company. It was a peaceful time. I continued journaling what I eat every day...it's turning in to an interesting and fun experiment. I think it is an excellent way to control what you eat on a regular basis. I just lack a lot of self control ..here's our meals for Saturday and Sunday because I really don't have anything profound to say right now.
I've been struggling lately, too many balls to keep in the air and not enough incoming funds! Okay, all avenues seem to hit a brick wall these days. So many people preferring the safe and conventional they know, rather than stepping out the box. On a personal note, I can't seem to lose the weight I need to lose. No inspiration to sketch or create...just trying to make a buck and mostly failing. Bah! HUMBUG. What the hell, I just hate a pity party.
So... I decided to follow the advice of a wonderfully cheerful Dutch artist, Koosjekoene, and true to Dutch character, is straight forward and takes a simple approach. She says when you have no inspiration to draw, draw what your meals and all you eat on a daily basis. Why not?
I started yesterday and you know what? It is also an excellent way to see what you are eating or perhaps eating too much of... and it is fun! For the few minutes I sketch I don't think about anything else, my mind relaxes and it helps the soul. And this after just one day.
It certainly doesn't cure my ills, but every little victory helps.
Now, if I could just win the lottery...
This coming Saturday, 29 August, it will be 10 years since Hurricane Katrina arrived and sent our lives in to turmoil and fear. You might find it strange to "fear" since we were safely in our dear friends home in Houston. But the fear wasn't for us ... not only were we safe, but we had friends and family calling from South Africa and around the world to offer help and comfort. When we got to Houston, my friends kindly let me phone my sister in South Africa and she alerted people we were safe and gave the number to a special few.
What we feared was what happened to friends we couldn't find for a few days. Fear while watching the drowned Gulf Coast and thinking where are they? Our phones weren't working well but our text messages got through. I must put a plug in here for Virgin Mobile USA... a day or so after the storm hit, we got a text saying something like, "You are probably going to need more than usual, so here is an extra bunch of minutes free for a month. Be safe." not all carriers were that friendly or helpful.
Finally - locating some took weeks and weeks - but we all found each other again. I remember one day I got a text from friends we thought for sure were lost, I started screaming "they're alive, they're alive" to no one in particular. The day I was in the Museum of Art and got another text saying "I'm okay" and burst in to tears.
The houses and stuff/possessions lost weren't top of my list, it was the lives that mattered. And then just as we were getting our breath and starting to think straight, along came Hurricane Rita. But that is another story.
I am interacting more with friends from our time in New Orleans this week since we're sharing our individual Katrina therapeutic art and memories. But I am finding it hard to cope with the constant reports about Katrina on the media. Some reports have me in tears, so I often just turn the radio off. But still, the memories are crowding out just about everything else at the moment.
We've moved often in our lives, singly and as a couple. Some one asked me how many times, and I lost count while trying to work it out! But I have always moved on my own terms, when I want to and why I want to. I loved living in New Orleans. I fit in there so well.
Yes, it is a self-absorbed place where they believe they are the best of everything in the world. Who cares if they are or not? So what? You don't always agree, you just need to go with the flow and live it. We did. We made life long friends and enjoyed it all.
And we weren't ready to leave.
So, that is the reason why even 10 years after the traumatic event, I still in a funny way grieve for it. Have I moved on? Yes. I don't dwell on it. It often pops in to my head but I'm not obsessed with it.
But it feels like unfinished business in a way. I knew we would leave New Orleans one day. It's a given. We move on.
But not that way. It is not an experience I would wish on my worst enemy.
I've just been away on holiday in West Virginia and I am having trouble getting back to reality. Okay - I am having an awful lot of trouble achieving this reality crap. We enjoyed a blissful 8 day stay in a isolated cabin in the hills, pure silence and peace. The cats were with us and loved it too. Yep, they told us, this is a good spot and settled down as though they'd been their all their lives.
We ate excellent meals in the cabin or at quaint restaurants...visited farmer's markets...explored old towns enjoying a renewed energy. We also toured Civil War battle fields.
Spent an entire day at Antietam. Okay - that's not so peaceful when you start reading the gruesome numbers of the carnage... how do you get your head around 23,000 deaths in 12 hours?
Lee enjoys exploring battlefields. I grow weary of the stupid destruction man reigns on each other. So he wanders off and reads all the plaques and things. I sit and sketch. Then we move on to the next area and repeat. It works well. He doesn't feel rushed and I am not bored.
At Antietam, one of the worst attacks and counter attacks took place in a cornfield. Now looking at cornfields take on a whole new meaning. Just next to this cornfield is an old farmhouse with barns and out buildings. I sat on a stone wall to sketched the house because it was so atmospheric.
It had a row of white towels on the line to dry. It made me think perhaps this is what it would have looked like when taken over as a field hospital. But, in reality, it probably would have been over run with wounded and dying men, thick smoke from the guns swirling around and noisy as all get out with cries of pain and shouts for help.
It seemed so incongruent sitting there in this now peaceful park on a hot summer's day with birds flitting about. The battle was held around this time of year and those young men wore woollen gear and slogged through hell. The thought of the discomfort and the whole slaughter aspect seem impossible.
The saddest thing of all - men have been killing each other in some form or other in war since time immemorial. And it has gotten us no where. Have we learned nothing? I often wonder how we got designated the most intelligent of the species?
See... reality is a difficult thing to deal with at any time.
Now, where shall I go on holiday next? Definitely not near a battlefield thanks.
Last time I wrote about my green quiet place. So this time I'll write about one of the things I thought about while there.
The thing is I have become a devotee of sketching. Most artists start their careers learning to draw, then sketch and then paint and move on to big canvases etc etc. Well, not me. I started with watercolour house portraits and then moved straight on to large canvases. I never did learn to draw or sketch.
Then I met my friend Rosemary, a journaler par excellence. Check out her website. I hadn't thought of painting like this before since I couldn't see a way to make money out of it. As a professional artist, when I paint I want to make money....I don't paint for fun.
We took a trip up to Maine in 2013 and I bought a journal on a whim... and promptly fell in love with chronicling our travels in my new little watercolour journal and now I do it all the time. I traded up to Moleskin watercolour journals and pretty much use them all the time, unless it's my own homemade ones. I use left over strips of 300lb paper which is glorious to paint on. I tie it together with string and it looks super cool.
Once I started really getting in to it I had to think of ways to make some income from it. So I started using a mix of my sketches in with my photographs when I do my travel writing. Then I used quite a few sketches when I produced the Art Strolls in Delaware online magazine.
So as I sat contemplating my navel, I thought well, it's working a bit. I am making some money from my sketchs. So for fun, I decided I'd share some of my sketches and travels in a magazine form. Not for money but for the sheer joy of sketching and travelling. A couple of my favourite things.
Another of my favourite things is food. But I have never had much success with painting food. So this year I made it a mission. Paint some foodie things every week, daily if possible, til I got the hang of it. I'm still working on it. Who knows where it will lead.
But here for you dear readers... is my magazine. Get yourself a glass of wine and enjoy your trip with me.
I've been busy the past couple of weeks trying out new things... always good for the soul and it keeps life fresh.
First off, take a look at my website please. I have added a store - with a check out cart and all. So smart am I!! I have a few giclees left over from popular series. I've had them tucked away when I got the idea to have a summer sale on my website ... the first three are up. I am so glad Weebly makes life so easy for web building and even I can do my own store!! I will add more giclees and small originals over the summer when I get them photographed and sorted out.
I wanted to make a little book on my travel sketches for my family but it morphed in to a magazine. I figured, so why not make one and use it for a little shameless self-promotion. Someone has to do it. I launched it today... voila, here it is.
It's been a while ... I know, I know. Life got in the way.
I seem to be writing this with monotonous regularity on this blog.
So - I have decided, I obviously cannot keep up a weekly blog. I shall attempt twice a month. Is that a deal, dear readers?
I've been pondering now for 2 days, since I received a gentle reminder I hadn't written anything for quite some time, over what to write about. I have had an awful lot on my mind lately. I guess in an effort to deal with it, I have taken on a lot of chores or projects, etc. It doesn't help I have a half baked approach to most things coupled with a short attention span... you get the drift.
Then last night Lee had to go to a business mixer thing downtown, so I got out some nice cheese - a touch of Gambazola, herbed goats cheese, a tart Havarti with 2 slices of homemade bread, a proper Dijon mustard and a handful of sherry toms. I poured myself a glass of deep red Cabernet and settled down. I gazed out the window in comfortable solitude and looked at our canopy of trees.
We have two very large trees - an oak and a maple tree - in our backyard with a very bushy lush hedge around the porch. All was quiet. The cats lay next to me in quiet companionship and we were swallowed in to the dense, peaceful green.
Time in this house has not always been kind to us but I do love the back garden. It's a jardin savage but it's our private shield of green with lots of birds.
The birds on the suet feeder provide daily joy and entertainment. The starlings are the terrible hooligans we love. The dazzling blue jays are raucous. The bright crimson cardinals don't have a care in the world The red breasts are huge. I still, after all this time in the U.S., can't get over how big they are compared to our dainty plump English robins. The delicate wee nuthatches and chickadees look tiny and sweet. One of my favourites is the woodpecker who lives in the oak. He taps away on the tree and every so often, partakes of the suet. Apparently they have a fondness for suet. He is beautiful... simple coloring, black and white with a brilliant dash of red.
And joining the crowd of entertainers is the large squirrel who also lives in the oak. He can't get to the feeder, or doesn't try to, and he doesn't bother with the birds but he knows he drives the cats crazy. So he runs stomping his feet on the roof and then leaps along the branches of the oak before wiggling his butt at the cats who crouch down low in the attack position and chatter at him.
I always feel better after I've spent some quiet time in our green canopy. So I thought I'd tell you about it. And here's a photo I took of part of it to post on Instagram last night as it soothed me. I hope you all have a happy solitude place to go to when needed.
I am super excited to announce the launch of my new project, Art Strolls, an interactive online magazine on the arts in all it's glorious forms. I hope to do these for regions, counties, towns, around the country. These magazine will have limited, appropriate advertising, I am taking this approach because I think most magazines have way too much advertising and it overshadows the content. The first issue is on the arts in Delaware...small state, big arts. How to work the links? It's easy, hover over the name (if it's linked it will be underlined), a trio of symbols will pop up, click on the RIGHT hand symbol that looks like a chain and voila, you are taken over to the artist/gallery/organization's website or facebook page but you don't go off the magazine. Enjoy and let me know what you think.
It's been a while ... I know, I know. Life got in the way. New Projects and ucky colds zapped my strength. Not really making excuses... it just was so.
On my art page on Facebook a while back I wrote about a wonderful book I'd seen, "More than Words" - a collection of artists illustrated letters. It looked beautiful and I had to have it - so I said I was saving my pennies to buy it. Well, a couple of weeks later a wonderful friend showed up and gave me the book saying, "I didn't think you should have to wait!"
I could hardly believe my eyes. What a treasure my friend in and what a treasure the book is. I love illustrated letters. I like letters of all kinds and I still do actually write thank you notes and letters. It is fast becoming a lost art.
So I dug around and found a letter written to me when I was 8 years old and got mumps at Christmas! My friend who wrote the letter, lived on a mission station in a remote forgotten valley in the wilds of South Africa. I lived not too far way in another remote location and was shortly about to head to boarding school for the first time.
The letter is precious and a joy... so I thought I'd share it. It really speaks volumes about the person who wrote it and the care she took to pen it.
I still pick up the new book and look through it with awe... it will be joy to read for a long long time. Thank you my thoughtful and kind friend!
As I sipped my tea this morning - earlier than usual because there was a very early delivery scheduled at the office - I thought of how lucky I am in life...and it made me think of some of my "peace & security" nic-nacs... so I sketched them quickly. My Turkish "Nazar Boncugu" - the evil eye bead... they have to be given to you, not bought by you and a precious friend gave me this... and my rough welcome sign a folk artist friend made for me just because...and my Indian candle holder has given me the comfort of soft light when disaster struck in the past. Nothing is expensive or elaborate but they are all priceless
Anne Jenkins - artist, writer and traveller...her blog on art, life and creating things