Monday, March 4, 2019

Life on the River

My life on the River that I have been blessed to have grown up on has helped shape the very person that I have become. Throughout my entire seventy-five years, she has offered me an unceasing sense of belonging and nurturing that continues to enrich my spirit and zest for living.

She has conducted my rich outdoor education program upon which my knowledge and respect for all things wild is built upon. That same knowledge became the crucible and engine for my creative activity.... both en plein air and then carried into use in each of my classrooms, as well back into the studio.

The solitude and silence that she provides has continually stilled the reoccurring anguish and confusion... in a world driven too much by money and technology. Her banks, channels and bays provide undefiled refuge for all living things - mySelf included. "Still waters... it restoreth my soul."

Life did necessitate my leaving all of this at certain points in my journey. But I never found myself able to feel comfortable without the presence of water nearby. So I rooted those early chapters beside similar sources in Kingston located on Lake Ontario... Nova Scotia and the Georgian Bay area. I added regular trips to Algonquin Park during intervals when I was not living within sight of water. Thus I always found ways to support my need to be near water.

At the close of our tenth season here in Rockport we came jointly to a firm decision to close The Paint Box Gallery permanently... not solely because it wasn't enjoyable or lucrative, but rather because we both were experiencing health issues that made continuing a struggle. It was necessary to decide upon a course of action which provided less stress and greater latitude to grow in different directions with new opportunities together.

We made a firm decision to travel upstream fifty kilometers to Kingston... located on the shores of Lake Ontario. I enjoyed a rewarding twenty-seven year teaching career in that picturesque and historic city... so it was an easy decision to make. Hospital care is conjoined with Queen's University offering the best of medical services.

Culturally, there are unlimited opportunities and facilities to engage in and enjoy. What's to lose? A no - brainer, as they say. So the search for an acceptable new place to hang our hat was begun back in the late fall. A sprawling student population has all but swallowed downtown residential opportunities and have driven up the rental costs astronomically.

We had almost given up hope of finding one for ourselves... when the Universe... ever so mysteriously laid a perfect one in our laps. Perfect in every way. A condo, meaning no more stairs... no more property maintenance... no more hordes of noisy, rude and invasive visitors.  The condo has everything in the way of space and amenities  that one could ever wish for at our time in life. We snapped at it right away.

So ... this will be my last posting from the village of Rockport. No longer did we find the village a refuge with peace and contentment. Like so many quaint places... or Paradise as we had earlier known and experienced, $$$ brought with it a need for substantial changes which did not serve the well being of all residents.

We have enjoyed our stay here and our relationship  with so many fine people who we have been blessed to live with. We shall carry fond memories of them and the "glory days" that we shared as a community of like-minded people.

High on that totem of Friendship are the eight individuals who made our quicksilver move to Kingston possible. Without them... we would have been lost.We will ALWAYS bee indebted to each of them. We are indeed blessed to have such people in our lives!

We are now fully embedded in the move... and establishing new directions for us both. We are still searching out answers for that rotten sciatica we both battle with still. But that is a small issue... and too... will come to an end!

Spring is indeed in the air here. But reluctant.. as always... to fully commit!

Rich blessings to ALL!

I wish to close out the Rockport chapter with this appropriate thought that I clipped out of a magazine a couple of years ago. Somehow... I always seem to find a suitable place to insert them into my thoughts and writing.

Life on the River

Send your worries downstream
Watch every sunset
Let the current give you strength
Have lazy days
Take walks and play in the sand
Make memories.

                  From Renaissance Magazine (Summer 2017 Issue)
                  - a sign at the Sulphur's (??) cottage

And sweet River memories will remain in my heart... no matter where my journey leads me from here. I am deeply blessed...

"Minuet d'hiver"- (River Dance) 1st take
  30 x 36 inch oil on canvas

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Spring Tumbles In... and Winter Staggers Defiantly Out

                                  "Springing out of Winter" - oil on oak panel 10 x 17 inches

Although this plein air moment, painted directly from in front of our Rockport home and gallery on January 13th of 2013 the drama and mood of this very view repeats itself almost seamlessly for February 24th, 2019.

Two days ago ice spanned this inner channel view almost from shore to shore. Water appeared only where strong river current prevents total freeze over. The ever constant rhythm and flow of the River has always seen to that. Every winter.

The ice simply disappeared in the center of the channel overnight and a pathway grew steadily eastward. Within hours... a flotilla of graceful mute swans were able to work their way slowly westward against the current between the mainland and Club Island. Springtime Magic!

"Winter Rotting Away... Irondale River" - plein air oil on canvas 20 x 24 inches SOLD

The earth... scarcely bare and seen only in select southerly facing places offers a further testimony and promise that Spring is close by. One who pays attention can smell spring and even taste it in the very air that suddenly is abuzz with new visitors to our yard and feeders. Long absent goldfinches and mourning doves enter the feeding frenzy usually dominated by squadrons of selfish sparrows.

The din grows... as do the numbers of new arrivals. Chickadees, nuthatches, slate breasted juncos, blue jays and our timid resident cardinal pair add new voices to our springtime choir. And cheeriness - the underlying gift that Spring offers... fills every corner the winter wearied world.

On Friday, February 22nd as I moved about my Saturday morning ritual of preparing our garbage for pick up. I stood almost awestruck by the unmistakable trills of male robins - not heard here since their fall departure to southern warmth. Not just a single voice... but a grove of several who were obviously the vanguard of newly arrived migrants seeking to establish breeding ... and bragging rights. All played out just to gain the attention of the yet to arrive females.

Though Deb and I continue to struggle to regain our health and freedom from the painful clutches of this dreadful and unrelenting pain of the sciatica that we both have had to endure... for far too many months... Hope on the wings of this unexpected breath of Spring has arrived.

None of us can hope to be free of adversity, sadness and uncertainty in our daily lives. Each must
play the hand we are given with courage in your hand and heart. Be grateful for your blessings... and the precious gift of life and life in this magical Eden.

I am greatly blessed. Life is about living and since having to suffer helplessly alongside our lovely Allison for the pain-filled duration of her courageous journey, Deb and I fully committed ourselves to do our best to live our lives fully... in her honor. Plain and simple.

Change is indeed in the air in the natural world about us here in Rockport. But change has already been put into play by Deb and I as of February 1st. I turned the ripe age of seventy-five on February 11th. We feel that changes are warranted and timely for us both. We have set the wheels of change into motion.

Today... I wanted only to add another post from my roost here on my beloved River and to share it with my small but faithful blogging family. What remains to be told for the future...

Is a story for another day!

Good painting... and an early Happy Spring to All!

                                               "A Sweet Taste of Spring" - 20 x 16 inches

                                                       ... Coming your way SOON!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Joy... to the World!!!

Life ... on a different plane

Today... I am setting aside earlier obstacles which darkened my spirit to share with you a gift of pure magic which has been sent by the Universe to minister to the deep wounds that our family has endured since our beloved Allison's untimely and tragic passing. Let me set the stage for today's post using the lyrics from a simple favorite childhood song... likely familiar to most of us.

"Twinkle... twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are
Up above the world so high,
Like a diamond in the sky
Twinkle, twinkle little star
How I wonder what you are.

How I miss each of those "Little Folk" and their bell-like voices! Unfettered angelic voices... filled with wonder and Hope. Pure spirits willing to risk. Eager to share their messages. Unafraid (yet)... to express their own thoughts and ideas without fear of comparison, or rejection.

The simple language of this childhood anthem fully encapsulates the very essence and purity of each child and early childhood in general. Children's voices so easily bring to life the beauty and sense of celestial Joy gently to earth. 

I offered my own children a painting to share each Christmas which acknowledges  the presence and importance of special stars in our lives. Here is "River Spirit"the very first of three... which I gifted to Allison and Andrew. I proudly feel  that this painting records a common joy we shared which owes its origin one such star,Venus... or as it is called, the "Morning Star." Actually, Venus is a planet which offers the bright and twinkling essence of the lyrical star.

It rises low in the east... just ahead of the sun rising climbing steadily heavenward and disappearing ever so gradually into the light of the sun until late in the day at sunset. It suddenly reappears as the "Evening Star" to signal another day's end. What a metaphor describing  life... don't you think???

On the clear starlit morning of January 30th, I arose later than usual for our morning coffee rendezvous and found Deb perched... and peering intently southward. She turned to me excitedly like a child... tears streaming down her cheeks and exclaimed joyfully,"Come and see this Hon. I wanted to go and get you up to share this with you - it's so beautiful.  It's Allie looking down and assuring us that she is okay... and still with us."

There it was... the fingernail moon tugging the Morning Star ever so slowly up higher into the heavens. In Deb's own loving innocence and child-centered spirituality she often chooses to express her love to her loved ones with this mantra:

" I love you forever... to the moon and back... a gazillion times!"

It is how she ends every contact and call to her beloved grand gals... Ava and Ella

This celestial pageant was unfolding just for us in the southern heavens on that morning and will remain special to us both. The morning magic ratcheted up further when a totally unexpected early evening telephone call arrived from Joan (Allison and Andrew's Mom). She proudly announced the earlier-than-expected safe arrival of a new wee Sherman family member. Reese Allison, our newest addition weighed in three weeks earlier than expected at six pounds and five ounces... and measured nineteen inches in length. Tiny by any standard.

"JOY to the world!... a child is born!!! 

We are so greatly blessed! Gratitude instantly cancels out the weeks of sciatic misery. The Universe has again sent a message of Hope to help ease and erase defeat and despair. I am so very proud of this new addition. She carries forward the spirit... and the name of our beloved Allie and not just in name only.

This child is blessed to commence a life piloted by two loving, caring and capable parents who will offer her every opportunity in life to be filled with love... joy and opportunity. I know that hey will encourage her to emerge as a free and creative spirit just like her namesake. Andrew, Melissa and Reese's siblings have welcomed her with wide open and loving arms.

I will close out today's special post with pictures that so eloquently reflect my words. Pictures... really do replace the weight and value of a thousand words... or brushstrokes. Judge for yourselves... and enjoy!

Thank you for your continued presence and support. You have absolutely no idea of the value of your generous gifts to me and my family members.

God bless you...and guide you Melissa and Andrew!

Rich blessings... and Good Painting to ALL!!

                                        Mom presents your new baby sister Reese Allison

                                        Lots of love, warmth.. and skin - But Sorry .... No milk!!!

                                                         "She's my Baby Sweet Heart!"

                                                             "I'm your... other Mother!"

                                     " The first of many cuddles and quiet moments Reese."
             Thank you for this loving gift Melissa! We share your love and pride in your gift.

"You're a keeper Reese Allison. And I see a look of Gramma Joan on your face too !!"

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Nostos - A Christmas Homecoming... of Sorts

Happy New Year... to ALL!

NOSTOS in literary terms is defined as the homecoming after a long journey. The contents in today's post in so many ways represents and describes clearly a journey... or an end to an important  chapter in my life. My painting journey in the many small hamlets and villages of rural Quebec created a genuine love and respect for Quebecois culture and its people. As I travelled about... painting as I went I immediately began to feel the "joie de vivre" that this culture so freely expresses. I began to understand more clearly than ever before why the French-Canadian population view themselves as a distinct society from the rest of Canada. And as an anglo... it does not offend me.

And all these years afterward... "je me souviens."

To open this post I have chosen this quiet and contemplative piece of music aptly entitled "Nostos" because it captures that peaceful world that is revealed to me by a landscape and the sanctity of our Creator's hallowed space. I felt it an apt backdrop for the perceptions I have chosen to share with you today. I hope that you enjoy the tour.

We both managed to hobble through the Christmas crunch with some help from my brother D.on who came to visit from Victoria BC and a welcomed visit from Bryn who was on break from his final year of undergrad studies at Trent University, Peterborough ON. We are both still searching for answers and solutions for the sciatica-like disruption to our schedule and health. Fingers crossed...

During my break from painting and need to be down flat and resting (with ice packs) I was blessed to discover a series of novels by the acclaimed Canadian author, Louise Penny. Her books are based upon a series of murder mysteries in the Quebec City and environs. All are based upon the central character... Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surete police force in Quebec.

Each of the richly crafted plots and supporting characters more than filled my time and and provided me many hours of pleasure... and pain relief. What attracted me immediately to her writing style was her rich powers of description which made her people and the locations very personal to me. I felt that I was a character as well... and that the landscapes she skillfully portrayed and the rural villages she developed as settings were so authentic... that I was transported back in my painting life to those exact places where I had painted en plein air and exhibited for so many years ago.

It was indeed... a homecoming for me - one that replenished the "joie de vivre" that radiated from the Quebecois inhabitants and filled my own heart with Joy back then. I truthfully have never felt that sense of warmth and belonging in many other places that I have called home. Her rich descriptive language is every bit as visually expressive as brushstrokes laid freely but precisely by any master landscape or portrait painter.

Sadly... our blogging family has dwindled in number over the past few years. So many "followers" of the original group have sought other platforms from which to display and potentially sell their work. Their choice. However... I am satisfied to continue to post as I those who share my values and pour common desire to support each other and share our ideas.

After my last post when I revealed my interest in Penny's books and her richly crafted  novels, I had a comment from a dear Blogger Friend Rhonda Carpenter that she too had read one of Louise's books. She further offered that it made her yearn to perhaps visit the area in Quebec where the substance for the books was born. So rich was Penny's description of the Bistro and the foods served in "The Portrait"... that I picked up croissants and made cafe au lait to enter the realm!HA HA!!

I promised Rhonda... that I would dedicate my next post to the excellence of Louise's craft ... and to pique Ronda's interest to move ahead with a plan to visit the Charlevoix area. So Rhonda... as promised... this tour's for you my dear!!! Enjoyez!

A la prochaine... tout le monde!
Bonnes annees

                                                   "Evening Greeting" - Les Eboulements

                                                              "Bienvenue a Charlevoix!"

                         "La Lumiere d'Or - Notre Dame du Lac" -oil on canvas 20 x 24 inches

                               "L'Heure d' Or" - Les Eboulements - oil on canvas 20 x 16 inches

                 "A Midnight Clear" -  Farm Point, Gatineau Quebec - oil on canvas 20 x 24 inches

"Rue, Saint Vincent de Paul, Baie-Saint-de-Paul, Charlevoix" oil on canvas 20 x 24 inches

"Pas d-Essence Aujourd'hui" - Les Eboulements - oil on canvas 16 x 20 inches

                                      "Vers Baie-Saint-Paul" - oil on canvas 30 x 36 inches

                 "Cul du Sac Extraordinaire - Les Eboulements" - oil on canvas 16 x 20 inches

                                  "Les Eboulements... En Hiver" - - oil on canvas 20 x 24 inches

                 "Le Grandes Couleurs de Charlevoix en Automne" - oil canvas 30 x 24 inches

I hope that this we plein air sampling from my own enjoyment and interpretation of rural Quebec might transport your imagination... and perhaps even lead you seriously plan an expedition and holiday to Charlevoix. It will no doubt lead you into a whole new world to be explored and enjoyed Rhonda.

I believe that you might well find recurring similarities in the pictures that Louise Penny and I have painted of rural Quebec. The only difference is our medium... hers in words... and mine in paint. Both summon up a loving interface with the tiny, remote villages which dot the spectacular landscape of regions like Charlevoix and the Southern Townships.

You can check it out for yourself by simple Googling Louise Penny... or by browsing the internet sources to obtain a copy of her work. I would recommend the first of the Gamache series... "Still Life" as a great place to start. And yes... it does have an art focus in the narrative.

Thanks for motivating me to reach back and remember these "glory days" on my own painting
journey Rhonda.

Bonne chance ma belle amie!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Somewhere Out There... Beyond Words

I had almost decided to forego posting this New Year's message. Given the extreme discomfort that Deb and I have both felt during this entire Christmas season most of you would accept my decision and feel it justified to simply... "stand down."

As difficult as the past weeks were... I could not find it within my heart to give up the ship entirely on Santa and the much anticipated  rituals that this blessed season offers us all. I was unable to complete the final project leering at me from my easel. It will get done... but somehow it seemed more appropriate to fulfill the promises I had made to mySelf... and to Allie.

I have decided to keep this post short n' sweet and to celebrate my blessings... both here on earth... and beyond the rainbow. I trust that each of you will understand and know that you too are included among the myriad of blessings that the Universe has brought into my life.

A very dear artist friend and I have reconnected after her decision to not visit her blog site.... citing somewhat similar reasons that included her deep loss and grappling with grief. Like myself, her husband was the crucible of her very purpose on earth and Being. They were childless and filled that space with a deep and abiding kindredship that few earthlings are blessed to discover during our too short existences.

Though my loss surrounds the loss of a kindred spirit... who just happened to be a girl child, those losses equate to a very similar destructive occurrence. We both know that the only way to recovery is to walk the path... on our own terms and to seek out new  meaning and purpose. Our departed ones.... expected us to!

So... I continue my painting journey using my art and my words to reach out to people that I care about. And to connect with those I meet along my own camino to support their journey. I would urge my friend to do the same. We shall talk again soon and share what we each can offer to realize the promises we made.

The Universe has presented some very meaningful sources whose art... though different than my own... does unite us in a spirit of common purpose. Let us continue to maintain our "Circle of Creatorship." May it sustain each of us as individuals and as a group.

Happy New Year to ALL my Painting Friends...

And rich blessings of good Health... Happiness and Joy!

In closing out today's post, I offer the words of a very dominant force in my own artistic and personal growth. They leaped off the page and into my heart from a novel that I am currently reading. Strange how the Universe works... when we listen. Thank you in Louise Penny and Leonard Cohen

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There's a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in."

From Anthem - Leonard Cohen

"Beyond wordiness." Simply... "Choose Love."

Laughter soothes the soul. Remember that... when Darkness falls upon you! It  permits the Light to enter in!

Forever Young and stored safely within my heart. Never to be  forgotten!!

"When we lose someone we love, we must learn not to live without them... But to live with what they left behind."

Thank you Suzanne... you have twice captured the very essence of our dear Allie's  innocence... curiosity... immense sense of imagination and  her abiding love of Nature and the Arts

A never empty cup...full of Sweet Memories