Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Splatter, Splotches and Fuzzy Brains

Oh, my.

Splattered. Splotchy. Fuzzy thinking. Long periods of staring at nothing.

That about sums up the last two weeks of my life.

I seem to have missed that time of year....that transitional period between ending and beginning, as if time is paused, so I could get my new year off to a great start by laying out plans, goals and dreams.

The ending of 2011 was a tough time and the beginning of 2012 is not off to a stellar start....

We lost our sweet Siberian Husky, Susie, on December 30th.

She had been sick for a while now, and it was touch-and-go during the holidays.

We then took Andi, another of our puppies, to the vet on Monday as she has been feeling poorly.

She has lymphoma.

Andi has a very limited amount of time. It depends on how she responds to the meds we're giving her.

Yesterday, my 15-month-old niece was taken to the hospital after having a seizure.

The baby was moved from ICU to a regular room and we're hoping she'll be released today. So far, no conclusions on what caused the seizure.

As I said, not a great ending nor a recommend way to start off a new year.

What I'm that life, and that mythical thing known as balance, is a very fluid thing.

In my case, most of the fluid of life has shifted towards my pets and family. The blog has been (too) quiet, my work hasn't been getting the normal attention I show it, and daily chores haven't been kept up as normal.

I've decided to give this time to myself, as a gift and that it's okay.

To take the time to grieve, to let the new year take off without me being in a happy, celebratory mood, to put family first.

WITHOUT guilt.

Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, I'll be back.

Full throttle.

Right now, I need to heal, to be close to family, and to spend time with Andi.

I hope you understand.

I wish you the very best of the new year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Out......Not!

Let It Snow!
Watercolor in Pineapple Sketchbook
For those of you in much colder, snowier climates, please disregard this post and go about your blog reading elsewhere......because it's in the 80's. As in temperature. Outside.

Yes, this is Florida.

But it's the 22nd. Of December! Come on—it could at least be cooler!

We're not in any danger of getting snow. Or cooler temperatures. Well, not until the day after Christmas.

Then it's suppose to cool off to the 70's.

It makes it a little difficult to get into the spirit of snowmen.....when it's 85ยบ out.

I suppose this is a blessing I'm not yet seeing.

BTW, do you see the second face in the image above?!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Is It Hope....Or Stupidity.....

....that blooms eternal? Maybe both in my case!
Watercolor and Ink
Pineapple Sketchbook
I noticed late on Saturday night as I was putting up the last of my snowmen, that most of them had on top hats and a good many of them had either a bird, a bird house, or a bird feeder with them or on them. I decided to capture one of them in my sketchbook.

As I sat sketching I realized I had done it again. I had so many ideas and plans to sketch and paint some of my favorite ornaments and teapots, like the one again. I was going to send out my Christmas cards of MY VERY OWN DESIGN this year—early.

I thought the house would be decorated early and I'd have plenty of time to paint. Ha!


Here I am staring down the 19th day of December and I still have a naked Christmas tree standing in my living room.

No cards are going out and that really grieves me. I had a plan to start getting things ready to go in January of 2011 so I wouldn't be in this situation come the 19th of December!

Most of the gifts are bought, but not wrapped. And still I had hoped....

But as I sat sketching at 10:30 on a Saturday night, I started letting go of my hopes for a peaceful, artful, less stressful holiday.

Mind you, family will still be coming over, the house will be decorated, the tree will get dressed, presents wrapped and it will still be a wonderful opportunity to spend time together, see old friends, laugh and have a good time being a kid again for a few hours. And that's what really matters.

But will I ever learn? Will I ever have a peaceful, artful, less stressful holiday?

Maybe if I start in January of 2012..........

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Place To Linger....(NOLA)

Place d'Armes Hotel
Watercolor and Ink
Seldom have I stayed at a hotel where I wanted to linger, but this was the case with the Place d'Armes hotel! It is a property of 8 town homes built back in the 18th and 19th centuries, cobbled together around the most gorgeous courtyards you could ever want to sit in.

The old bricks were the perfect backdrop for the fountains and lush greenery. There was a quietness, a peaceful ambiance that slipped up and soothed you whenever you stepped foot into the courtyard. The doors were the old style with the wood mullions, shutters on either side.

I knew if we'd ran into some ugly weather, that the courtyard would provide many days' worth of sketching materials all by itself! In fact, this was one of the places I sat to sketch on my free afternoon. You just wanted to be out there soaking it up!

Others on the trip felt the same tug—you can see Cheryl's beautiful courtyard here and Claire's lovely room here. If you're headed to NOLA anytime soon, I highly recommend this hotel.

Monday, December 5, 2011

19 Years

Today is our 19th wedding anniversary! The photo was taken just before we left the reception. We've been talking a lot lately about what we knew, what we thought we knew and what we had no clue about back then (or today!).

We both realize now that we had no idea what it took to make a marriage work, what it meant to be married, and what it meant to be a half of a whole.

There have some great times. There have been struggles. And as I write those words, it is evident that they don't begin to cover the depth nor the breadth of the experiences we've shared.

During my father's recent illness, my mother commented to me that "You got a good one."

Yep, I did. I didn't really know it at the time, but I know now that I got one of the best.

Sometimes, I think I'd give him away, but in truth, I wouldn't trade him for anyone in the world!

Happy anniversary to my love!

Now, about painting the front door....

Friday, December 2, 2011

So Much To See...and Remember (NOLA)

UPDATED to include text from cemetery page at the bottom of post.
Lafayette Cemetery No. 1
Watercolor and Ink
Drawn on location
Those raindrops I mentioned in the last NOLA post? Well, they were a little more serious come Wednesday morning. We walked to the street trolley and had to open our umbrellas about two books from our stop. By the time we actually reached our stop, it had stopped sprinkling again.

We loaded up onto the trolley and hadn't gone more than 3 blocks when the bottom opened up and it really rained! That, however, was the last of it. We arrived at the cemetery with gray, overcast skies which seemed rather appropriate for the morning's adventure!

There is a lot of information about the "cities of the dead," the above ground crypts and the traditions of New Orleans when it comes to honoring the dead on the page above. Please click to enlarge so that you can read more if you're interested.
MORE Decadent Desserts—Commander Palace Style
Memory Sketch
Click to Enlarge
Next came our three hour lunch at the Commander's Palace with 25¢ Cosmo martinis! Synchronized serving (all the entrees and desserts were sat down on the table in front of each person at the same time), a tour of the kitchens and wine cellars, as well as outstanding food were all order of the day.

Luckily, we had the afternoon free to walk off our meals and more decadent (and delicious) desserts. Some of us moseyed up to the bookstore on the corner while others went back to explore the city via the trolley.
Collection of Memories
Memory Sketch
Watercolor and Ink
Click to Enlarge
If you ever find yourself in NOLA, pause and look, I mean really look around you. Look up, look down, look at the ground, look at the balconies, just look. There is something to see EVERYWHERE you look! The fire hydrant in the image above most have had 500 strings of beads on it. I'm not sure how many times I passed it before I actually saw it!

The other ephemera on the page is from places I wanted to remember and memories I wanted to collect. There was several cigar shops and bars in NOLA that I don't remember from last year. Whereas cigars are not my thing, I do think they have very cool wrappers on some of the cigars.

The green book shop piece is actually a bookmark that I've folded down to fit on the page and attached with a clear tape hinge. That way I can read the info without it sticking outside of the book. The sticker at the bottom right came off from a great cup of coffee.

Simple items, but each evokes a strong memory of where I was, what I was doing and who I was with—pretty cool for just a little piece of paper!
From the Cemetery Page:
Cemetery founded in 1833 by the city of Lafayette. City was later incorporated by New Orleans.
Many early immigrants buried here, especially German.
Many died from the Yellow Fever Epidemic.
Cemetery is non-segregated and non-denomenatinal.
Unlimited internment.
Many society tombs - firemen, orphanages, etc.
Crypts built of many different materials, sometimes painted the same color as [the] family home.
"Property" returns to the city after 150(?) years of inactivity
Crypts could hold two coffins—one on top, one on the bottom.
Mourning time - customary was one year and one day.
(And this final is a note to myself) Look into "4 Gentlemen Crypts" secret society