Monthly Archives: July 2013

Live Long and Prosper

Tomorrow, my internal odometer will turn over to ‘50’.   The last decade was a blur.  I believe most of it was filled with school, raising a teenager, chauffeuring, doctors appointments, vet appointments, working out, domestic chores, and searching for purpose.  I experienced great joy in my 40s, too:  travel, painting, long bike rides with my husband, watching my daughter perform in recitals and cross the stage at awards ceremonies, snuggling with snoring dogs, laughing until it hurt, and spending quality time with family and friends.  If I am blessed with another decade of life and health, I vow to slow down, to breathe more deeply, to live every day in a way that is memorable.  After all, what good is ‘live long’ without the ‘prosper’ part?

“Live Long and Prosper”–Graphite

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An Unstamped Passport

While I have journeyed outside the United States on multiple occasions, my passport remains unstamped.  Its blank pages reflect a total lack of travel.  When I leave the United States, it’s always by cruise ship.  I’ve sailed throughout the Eastern and Western Caribbean, through the Mexican Riviera, and up into Canada.  In 2008, when the cruise industry was planning to require passports for travel, I rushed out to apply for mine.  That change never took place, and while I do travel with my passport for identification, it doesn’t have a single stamp.  There are no official records of my destinations, but I do have the memories, the stories, and volumes of photographs.  The sea turtles can surely relate, as their journeys are undocumented, too.  Though they travel thousands of miles in a lifetime, there are no proud stamps to boast of their destinations. While it would be nice to have a colorful passport, it’s really all about the journey, and not a little stamp.

“World Traveler”–Watercolor on Board with Swarovski crystals–Who needs a colorful passport when you’ve got a little bling?

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A Show of Hands: Hang Loose

While it would be correct to say that I grew up in Daytona Beach, the truth is that I grew up on Daytona Beach.  My siblings and I were tan from March through December. We spent so much time in the sea we often felt more ’fish’ than human.  Back then, there were no beach tolls or beach patrols– only surfers and skim boarders, body surfers and swimmers—even our dogs were allowed to frolic beside us in the water. The ocean was our playground.  We constructed enormous, elaborate sand castles complete with moats—no buckets, shovels, or plastic molds were needed.  We built them with our bare hands. We were experts at dodging traffic as we flagged down the ice cream truck that drove up and down the shore, and we learned at a very young age what a ‘run-out’ was, and how to swim out of one.  Although there have been many changes over the years to my beloved Daytona Beach, for me, it will always be home—a place to swim, sun, and just hang loose. 

“Hang Loose”–Colored Pencil on Multimedia Paper

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Treasure Chest

“Jade”–Watercolor on Arches Aquarelle Art Board

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“Coral”–Watercolor on Arches Aquarelle Art Board

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“Turquoise”–Watercolor on Arches Aquarelle Art Board

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Show of Hands: Fingers Crossed

Whether crossed or double crossed, when the first and second fingers are linked together, it means luck, hope, or good wishes.  While it’s purely superstitious, I still find myself crossing my fingers when I’m hoping for a positive outcome.  It might not really help, but it can’t hurt, right?

“Fingers Crossed”–Colored Pencil 

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Unplugged

This morning, I took a break from my usual routine in the gym and headed out on my bike.  When I’m working out in the gym, I’m either plugged into my iPod, or the TV.  Today, I was unplugged.  It was energizing to breathe in the fresh air, my senses being bombarded by the intoxicating fragrance of gardenias, magnolias, and jasmine.  I could hear the Scrub-Jays and Sparrows warming up for a day of glorious song.  The cool morning breeze wicked sweat from my brow.  My head was clear.  I wasn’t trying to come up with new project ideas, solve current issues, or worry about potential future problems.  I was free.  I don’t think biking gives my body the same caliber workout that I can get in the gym, but today, it sure was good for my soul.

“Unplugged”–Graphite–A quick sketch on scrap paper

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Pass the Fruit

Florida’s hot humid summers always find me craving fruit.  That all-natural, juicy goodness not only satisfies my sweet tooth, it hydrates me as well.  After painting “Lemon-Lime”, my fruit craving wasn’t fully satisfied, so I indulged in “Peaches” and “Berries”, too.  Delicious!

“Peach”–Watercolor on Arches Aquarelle

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“Berry”–Watercolor on Arches Aquarelle

 

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Thumbing a ride

When I was a kid, hitchhiking was a cost effective way to see the country—a tasty slice of Americana.  While I’ve never had cause to do it myself, once in high school, my girlfriends and I picked up a hitchhiker. My older sister was driving my dad’s old Buick Electra.  A shirtless young man from the construction site next to our high school was walking along toward the Jiffy where we were headed on our lunch break.  When we pulled over and opened the door, he looked shocked to find his ride crammed with seven giggling girls.  He hesitantly climbed into our clown car and was dead silent for the entire half-mile ride.  When we pulled into the Jiffy parking lot, he couldn’t get out of the car fast enough.  While picking up a hitchhiker might be considered reckless behavior by today’s standards, back then we had nothing to fear.  If anyone was nervous, it was our hitchhiking construction worker.  As my mother always said, “There’s safety in numbers,” and he was definitely outnumbered in the old Buick Electra.

“Thumbing a Ride”–Colored Pencil

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By the Sea

 

I just returned from a long weekend on the west coast of Florida.  We stayed at the beautiful LaPlaya Resort on the white sugar shore of the Gulf of Mexico.  It’s sea turtle nesting season, so our eco-friendly resort asked all guests to respect the nests that lined the beach, and to pull the heavy black-out drapes in our rooms each evening at sunset so the only light on the coast would be that of the moon.  I felt such joy at seeing new nests each morning when my husband and I walked the shoreline.  It was so inspirational to spend time in a resort that celebrated my beloved sea turtles in their décor, their conservation efforts, and in the education of their guests.  This wasn’t our first stay at the LaPlaya, and it definitely won’t be our last.  Their eco-friendly operation is part of the pull that keeps us coming back—much like the mysterious pull that brings sea turtles back to their home beach to nest.

 “Lemon-Lime”–Watercolor–Painted in my sketchbook while sitting on the balcony at the LaPlayaImage

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Survivor

As I prepared to scrap yet another work-in-progress, I glanced out my window and saw the oak tree in my back yard.  This little oak is an odd looking tree, and it has an interesting story.  A few years after it was planted, Orlando had three back-to-back hurricanes in a six week period.  Hurricane Charley arrived at night.  He came through fast and furious, and in the morning, we found our little oak partially uprooted.  We replanted it, but after Hurricane Frances blew through, it was uprooted again.  This time, we staked our little oak to the ground. The third storm, Hurricane Jeanne, hung around for days. Her strong winds and driving rain did the most damage to our neighborhood.  She took our pool screen, and once again, our oak tree.  We replanted it a third time, but when spring was breathing new life into the other trees on our property, it was clear that our oak was not healthy.  Our gardener told us the tree needed to be removed, but I refused, insisting that it could be saved.  By the following fall, I relented and let him cut down our oak.  He wanted to grind the stump, but we left it as a reminder of our tough little tree.  By spring, I noticed tiny leaves sprouting from the stump.    Over the years, that stump grew into an awkward looking bush, but eventually became what most would call a ‘tree’.  It’s small, as oaks go, but it’s large enough to house birds and squirrels, and provide shade for the Sandhill Cranes that nap beneath its branches on hot summer afternoons.  That oak is a survivor.   It didn’t give up.  It grew up—even after being cut down.  I love our little oak and I admire its persistence in the face of adversity.  It reminds me that I’m often too quick to give up on a painting.  If I have a little patience and spend more time with my paint brush, I can probably make it work, and I can be a survivor, too.

“Survivor”–ink pen–a study of my little oak’s odd roots–from my sketchbook

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