Monday, September 30, 2013

Is Your Heart Open?

Hearts Mixed Media Collage 2013
Well, is it?  And what does that mean to you?  It means something different to everyone.  When I  used the phrase "heart-opening" recently, the person to whom I was speaking looked at me like I was speaking a foreign language. 

As we go through each day it is easy to get on automatic.  We tend to do the same things, see mostly the same people, and, oh no,...have many of the same thoughts.  Right?

But every now and then something way different happens.  You can probably count those significant things in your own life on your ten fingers...the things that really crack your heart wide open.  Although we might be moved daily by a playful kitten, a flower we've been waiting to see bloom, a rainbow, or a serendipity, the really big ones have a lasting effect. 

The "way-different" occurrence can be pain or pleasure, surprise or longed-for.  But it makes you way-different after it happens.

My heart was cracked open on June 17 when my mom passed away.  Although she was 93, it seemed sudden to me.  I wasn't ready.  Evidently she was.  For days after we were consumed with the busy-ness of death.  All that you have to do, to plan, to call , to prepare, to honor, to if you could forget if you tried.

I remember feeling like I was walking around with my heart hanging out of my body.  And even now, when I am "over it", it takes very little for my eyes to fill with water.  It isn't really pain now, it is more what I would call poignancy.  Things have more significance.  Colors are brighter.  People are more important.  Things need to be said more than done.

It's a gift to me from my mother.  She became very open toward the end of her life.  Old age, I believe, often has us 'drop our filters'.  We don't think as much before we speak.  We don't weigh our words.  We just say it.  And it is usually very real and very open.  Shyness disappears.  There is just no time for all that nonsense.

Since I always look for the gift...or at least I try to.....I know the gift here for me.  For one thing, the enjoyment of the day is heightened. Things mean more.  And, oddly, hurts don't hurt as much.  Understanding is deeper. That hurt really "is never about you" anyway.

Open up.  Say what you want to say.  Cry if you need to or want to.  Sing.  Skip.  'Open' does not hold back.  Reach out.  Make that connection.  Don't by shy.

Maybe I will get over all of this and go back to thinking more before I speak, and deciding if something is appropriate or not, and be lead by my head more than my heart.  But I certainly hope not!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

People Along The Way

We are back home.  My journal is bulging with just about every thought that went through my head.  I am inspired.

One great thing about the trip was the people we met along the way.  Some of them I will probably always remember....starting with the one who dropped us off at the airport. We were so excited.

 Whatever would I do without this gal?  I couldn't.

A real mountain man.  We were turning around on his property when he appeared out of nowhere.  A little scary at first but just so nice.  Made us feel welcome.  (He could sub on Duck Dynasty!)

This guy and his dog, Sheba, were right next door to us for 2 nights.  Gentle creatures, both of them.  Just going with the flow.  Such a beautiful animal...talking about the dog, not the man.

Meet his Sheba.  Gorgeous, friendly, pampered collie.
Larry and a new friend...a very talkative one.

And another one, Paul.  They got in an early morning hike before I even woke up.

Well, she was happy and very outgoing too.

Look at the end of his stick.  He can't bend over anymore so he has invented a new way to look for rocks.  He has duct taped a large slotted spoon onto his stick so he can still pursue his hobby.   I will remember this for the future.

And I love these girls.  They've named themselves "Sisters Without Misters".  They actually have husbands but they left them at home.  These girls are committed to staying close as sisters... so once a year they are off together on an adventure.  When both their parents passed away they didn't see each other much.  Broke their hearts.  So they fixed it!

A nice forest ranger looking down from his perch to answer every question we had and more.  You need people like that when you are in a strange land.  He does love his job!

And the Swiss couple here for 3 weeks renting an RV.  Didn't know you could do that.  Might try it.

Waiting for the big wave!

Cute hat, huh?  Keeps the sun off his head.  "Lives around here" and loves it.  Taking a walking break from his motorcycle.

We met this young, young, young woman working at the desk at the Paradise Inn at Mt. Rainier.  Unbelievably she was from Newnan, Ga.  Right down the road from my mom's house.  She came out after college by herself.....long way from GA.....just to have the experience.

I've noticed people don't waste time making friends when they travel.  It happens really fast.

Lovely lady from Boston on the left.  A lot in common.  How quickly we shared 'real' stuff.

Yes, I met this lovely on my morning walk.  I think he would have let me reach over and pet him.  So at home in these woods.  Having breakfast.

This young man has been "living on the road" since February.  Most of those nights outside.  

You can see all his "stuff" behind him.  He sleeps in that little lean-to he built.  We had a good connection.  He is 'being with God" this year...and a filmmaker-artist.  See all the little rock towers he has built?  Since I am a mom I had to make sure he was okay. Me:  "You know there are people who love you, don't you?"  Caleb nods, "Yes, I do."  Me:  |"Sometimes it doesn't feel like it though."  He agrees.  We hug.  Watery eyes.  Mine.

What a great time of life!  Getting to do what SHE wants to do!  

And so are these two!  Look at those smiles.

And then there is man's best friend....always ready.  "Will somebody please play with me?"

What a good time we had!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Painting The Onion In Oils

This post is just "stuck in here" for posterity while I am waiting for my husband to upload pictures from our trip.  We are back home!  We met so many interesting people along the way that my next post will be dedicated solely to them.  In the meantime, enjoy watching this "Onion" progress.  Now I am so inspired to paint the many riches of nature I've seen these last couple of weeks !

Not a gorgeous nature scene but I did learn a lot working on this onion.   

Stage 1.  This pencil drawing helped me get a grip on the light source and establish my lights and darks.  I could have tweaked this forever but...

Stage 2:  Most importantly for me in this exercise was varying the backdrop a bit...not having it too uniform.  The lace tablecloth is beginning to take shape here.  It was excruciatingly "fun" to begin to find the light and dark sides of the lace, of each hole in the lace, of each shadow in the lace.  Doesn't that sound like fun to you?  :)

Stage 3:  Very first layer of painting the onion itself.  I started right where I wanted you to look first, on the front highlight of the onion.  That is where I tried to put the most contrast and my complimentary colors.  The white blob still remaining is the transparent skin of the onion.

Stage 4:  More paint.  Struggling with that onion skin, trying to make it look "see through".

Stage 5:  Finishing touches.  Emphasize highlights.  Darken a few spots and check a few other technicalities.  Photograph has picked up some sheen on bottom of the onion that surely isn't really there so this is somewhat distorted.  So is it perfect?  No.  Am I?  No.  Do I strive for perfection?  No.  Excellence, sometimes.  Perfection, never.  Satisfaction? Always.  And remember, striving is not arriving.  You don't always get there.

Enjoy your Sunday journey,

 People Along The Way
Why I Blog
More Paintings 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Crescent City, CA and Something Special

Often when things aren't working out, I try to remind myself, "Look for the gift."  It's always there although we may not recognize it.  Yesterday we were in Crescent City, CA and the wind on the coast was strong and the weather was raw.  After checking out the lighthouse and harbor there, Larry realized he was getting sick and needed to crash at the hotel.

 Not fun ever, and especially not on vacation.  He spent a weekend in the hospital last month...and that was really scary...but this was a cold and sore throat and I knew he'd be fine. But things just weren't working out.  I was disappointed for him and for me.  No gift in sight.

So he got the meds and the sleep he needed and I went out to explore, maybe grab a sandwich and see the sights in this little town. 

 Well, I hit the jackpot...I found the gift.  Driving around and down a little street right by our hotel, I saw this sign.

The sign was in an industrial looking section with boats and cranes and such.  I was just about to turn around and leave the docks when I saw the sign...and decided to check it out.

 "Is this a party?", I asked.  "No.  It's a Salmon Feed", she said, as if  I couldn't read.  "What is a salmon feed?", I asked.  Then she looked up like maybe I was from outer space and explained.  Sammy, of the Indian nation, is a fisherman.  Everyone knows him.  He catches and cooks salmon, does a little art and makes hats....and puts on this salmon feed once a year as a fundraiser for gallery.  

He caught a boatload of salmon last night and was cooking them outside "the way the Indians do".

"Would I like a plate?",  they asked?   Duh. Of course I would!

That is a HUGE piece of fish.   I LOVED LOVED LOVED eating fresh caught wild salmon cooked on a stick by a fire in front of my eyes by someone who is doing what his ancestors have been doing for eons.  

And his daughters wanted their pictures taken by the crazy tourist too.

And the grandson.  They are eating big hunks of salmon in a napkin like I might have a donut.

And Sammy and his son and the crazy hats he makes.  He was happy to pose and show off his hats.

Remember I said it was a fundraiser for the gallery?  That is where they had tables set up for eating!     Inside the little local art gallery!  That's almost like heaven to me.  Another gift!

My passion is art and I love this painting with the deer. I shouldn't have photographed it but I couldn't help myself.  The photo doesn't do it justice.

 So now not only do I know that a Salmon Feed is their version of the big barbecue or fish fry that we  have down South.... I got to be a part of one.  I tell you, friends, the gift is always there.

And.....did you wonder how I picked this street to go down?  And why did I not just stop at the corner restaurant since finding lunch was really what I had in mind?  And how did I get in on this jewel of an experience that was hidden away and not a touristy thing at all?  And how did I get to have that experience at an art gallery of all places and stumble upon local art which I so, so love?  I know how....but I will let you come to your own conclusion.

What a special day!   It was as it was supposed to be.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Whaleshead, Port Orford, and Humbug Mountain in Oregon

Working our way down Hwy 101 South today through Oregon into Northern California was one big splash of Nature after another.  We explored every state park and suddenly realized it was just about night and we were out in the middle of nowhere at the bottom of a steep hill and still had to hike back up!  

We had seen a lot...including a whale!

From up high

Looking way, way down. He's with me.

"All my friends are dead."  Poor thing.

 I'm becoming obsessed with trees. 

Careful what you are showing to the world.  You might be on candid camera and never even know it!  :)

Some lighthouses don't look like lighthouses.  This one doesn't.

Just one of my favorites.  I must paint this when I get home.

A lighthouse that does look like a lighthouse.

Sweet old couple.  Old?  They're my age! 

From lush to sand dunes.


And when I saw these wild blue hydrangeas, the tears flowed.  Mom?

And saving the best for last.  Chocolate cream pie.
  "Keep your fork."

Whew!  Got through Friday 13th.  And all is well.  

Sandra Frances

P.S.  Since I am a day late blogging, I already know what will happen tomorrow.    A heads up is that  Larry got sick and had to sleep through the day. Nothing serious, just a cold.  So I was exploring alone and just wait until you see what I stumbled upon in Crescent City, CA.  And I know he will feel better tomorrow.