I keep reminding myself that it’s ok not to have every little thing on the daily to-do list checked off. Things will still be waiting tomorrow. Guess the former teacher habits are ingrained and return time and time again.
I also have to remember that everyone needs to recharge the batteries, so that canvas will get painted even if it doesn’t happen when expected. The Muses, those crazy girls, get a big kick out of stirring up anxiety from unpredictability.
Of course, even trips to coastal areas for rest and relaxation offer sources of creative inspiration so I am always doing a balancing act between work and play when out of the studio.
This year there have been additional opportunities for visits to Key West and the BVI, in May, and again in November and December. One change that I noticed was the absence of the roosters and baby chicks at places like Blue Heaven. Where were they? I was told by our server that they were on hiatus, that they had temporarily moved to another part of the island, but would return.
So like my feathered friends, I will also, and the timing will be just fine when I do.
Hey! If you have a chance to recharge your batteries, where would be the first place you would go? Why is it your absolute favorite happy place? Add your comments below. Would love to hear about it.
An overview of what I have worked on this year:
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A Totally Politically Incorrect Inspiration from Clement Clarke Moore or Henry Livingston, Disputed Authors Because Google Says So
“Twas the nightmare ’round Christmas
And all through the house
No one was stirring,
Not even the “mouse.”
The stockings were hung on the mantel with care
With hopes that Fedex packages soon would be there.
Suddenly silence was pierced by a noise
That surely would frighten young girls and boys.
Kabam! Kaboom! Was that glass that shattered?
Awakened from sleep was all that mattered.
When what before my eyes should appear
But a solid tiled floor and no Santa’s reindeer.
No Dasher, Prancer, no Comet, or Cupid,
No broken bones, only feeling so stupid!
While nursing contusions after the fall,
Ice packs on, ice packs off,
How many days before Christmas and now this strange cough?
Boxes yet to be wrapped and e-cards to send
Left a feeling of dread that I thought might not end.
Only packing awaited, anticipation grew,
Visions of margaritas… make that one, maybe two.
Palm trees, warm breezes, out of the cold
Relief for holiday madness…
that never gets old.
I love the fact that the detours of this brief journey called life are filled with surprises. In mid to late February, when the South was blindsided with snow amounts unseen in the Mid-Atlantic area since the early eighties, I was fortunate enough to be able to escape the cold and head far west to French Polynesia, which oddly enough, had not been on the bucket list.
The excitement of months of planning the trip itinerary and the anticipation of the actual arrival of departure replaced the trepidation surrounding the thought of being squeezed into the claustrophobic seats in economy air travel. Even the thought of the length of flight time was assuaged with the serendipitous moments that were remedies for uncomfortable glitches such as hours of waiting for de-icing before take-off, and the change in a particular flight. Although we arrived intact at LAX, our luggage didn’t. It wasn’t until the next day that we could return to the baggage claim and retrieve it. It wasn’t upsetting, though. The time change was welcomed along with a more relaxing break before boarding the flight to Papeete, Tahiti.
Actually, I was amazed that the eight and a half hour flight seemed somehow much shorter. I can rarely sleep while going somewhere so before I knew it (and after watching four movies), Air Tahiti Nui was serving us our first Tahitian ( pronounced Ty-shun) meal along with the Tropical Juice, which became a favorite staple while on vacation in the Society Islands.
As an artist and former teacher of art history, I was thrilled to be walking in the footsteps of the French artist Paul Gauguin around Papeete, which turned out to be much larger a city than expected. After getting settled in at the Intercontinental Hotel, our residence for two days, our B2KD group toured the island with William Leeteg, whose artist father is renown on YouTube for his nudes on black velvet. A visit to the Vaipahi gardens revealed a lush fern grotto where Gauguin supposedly would swim daily for hours. On the way around the sights on our tour, we were informed that unfortunately The Paul Gauguin Museum, which housed both reproductions as well as some original paintings, had recently closed, which was disappointing news. A true highlight for me was being “christened by the Blowhole”, an experience I would compare to the Blue Grotto on the island of Capri in Italy. It actually emits a sound which could be described as similar to that of a native blowing a conch shell, and the accompanying geyser lends its own surprise while viewing.
The explorer James Cook was actually there three times. His fate was being cannibalized except for his head, which was wrapped in leaves and sent back with an apology of “we ate your captain.” I discovered that every French Polynesian island has a Cook’s Bay, which proved to be a challenge to our mission of locating the “one particular harbor“of Jimmy Buffett fame. I am glad to announce that the mission was successful, and its subject is the first painting completed within the Tahitian series, and is being revealed now here.
I highly recommend the Paul Gauguin Cruise line as a convenience for travel from Tahiti to The Society Islands. As a mid-size ship, they are able to access many of the locations while larger cruise ships cannot. The service is excellent due also to the staff of two hundred plus to, in our case, less than two hundred passengers onboard. (Full capacity is usually around 362 passengers.) You can find out more details about this cruise, the ship, and departures on the pg cruise website.
In Huahine, our first stop, our personal tour guide, Bruno, a local Frenchman, led us around the island with a population of 6,000. The Tahitians live in nondescript colored fare (houses). Most do not pay rent so the men use extra pay on cars. There is no cold or homeless because of a surplus of fruits. Older people still think young like teenagers only there aren’t many who live long due to high cholesterol. Burials are in yards rather than cemeteries, and there was one fatality in a tornado of 1988. Our group was introduced to the tamanu, uru, hotu, white basil (chewed for relieving tooth ache), the odorless orange pagoda, and the kapuk trees. One of the most unique visits was to the canal ditches where the local women were feeding sardines to enormous brownish gray blue-eyed eels with poor vision in shallow water.
The next destination was Taha’ A (TAH HA AH). Aro, our island guide there, was one of the happiest people I have ever met. One of the things I noticed most about the Tahitians was their smiles and friendliness.( I guess I would stay happy too if I was living in paradise on a daily basis.) Aro met us at the port and drove us around while introducing us to the taro root, like a sweet potato, only green, noni, from which a malodorous energy juice is extracted, hibiscus, used for cooking, toilet paper, cleaning snorkel masks, local rope, and the white colored skirt material worn by Tahitian dancers. He also made a flute using a sharp bladed machete, and demonstrated how to play it, then gave two as gifts. A trip to a vanilla farm followed in a local shop, where I drank out of the tasting jar, when I was supposed to take a spoon and sample it. Of course, the women thought it was funny that I was the first visitor to do that. Aro told us that there are ninety five farms on Taha’A, and vanilla was introduced to the Polynesians from Mexico and Madagascar. A compost of dried coconut shells creates moisture around the beans. When the pollination is completed, the color is brownish gold. The less burnt variety is more flavorful. A demonstration of pearl farming was informative and then followed up with time for pearl shopping. I did not know that there was such a variety of sizes and colors. Our visit to the island ended with information about the miro, cut into fruit, and good for relief from a mosquito bite itch, the faro tree, used for housing, and the hinano, which is the name of the female goddess that appears on the label of the islands’ beer and localized sportswear.
The visit to Motu Mahana, a private island owned by the cruise company, taught us a few lessons about French Polynesia: you don’t stand or sleep under a palm tree; coconuts weigh a lot more than you think, and fall quite often! Two, you must wear rash guards to protect yourself from the sun, sea urchins, and sharp coral. Also, while snorkeling , reef shoes are definitely necessary. Three, the intensity of the sun requires even those of us who are used to it to slather on a crazily large amount of fifty plus SPF.
I had heard about Bora Bora, and had seen the travel photographs within the magazines. Here is where you definitely experience those “OMG” moments. Our “three hour tour” with Piero was within an outrigger, with stabilizers on each side made of fiberglass to ensure smooth sailing through shallow azure and sea foam colored water. The highlight of the day was photographing the rest of our group snorkeling with manta rays and long black tipped sharks. Overwater bungalows were seen from resorts such as Intercontinental Bora Bora, St. Regis Resort, and Thalassos Spa and Resort, true honeymoon destinations. Our boat name, Keishi, we learned, is the gray color of pearls. The visit to the island of eight thousand eight hundred would have been incomplete without locating the famous Bloody Mary’s Bar, where a plethora of celebs such as Jimmy Buffett and Hollywood’s finest, have their names painted in white at its entrance. The awaited visit for us would come the next day since we found out that it was closed for a private party the first evening.
Our final tour was on the island of Moorea (MO OH RAY AH). Accompanied by our French tour guide, Francky Franck, we sat within the truck 4×4 and literally rode up the steepest mountain to an obscure farm where one pays admission after the ride on the “honor system”. (The panoramic views at the top are worth the scary, yet exhilarating climb getting there.) If you go between July and November, you are likely to see the whales. Although the roads are abysmal, the recycled water from the reefs around Opunohu and Cook’s Bay are better than other islands, and power cables are underground. Remember earlier: our mission was to locate Cook’s Bay, and we achieved it on this tour. Yes, that one particular harbor. Magnificent, with that neon sea foam color… Interestingly, Captain Cook was never here. He was cannibalized in the Sandwich Islands, and the descendants of the Pitcairn survivors of the famous Mutiny on the Bounty today have their own artisans’ website.
Look closely. Can you locate the two faces? One was intentional, and the other I discovered upon completion of the palms on the right. Seemed uniquely appropriate for the theme. I was told by Francky of Francky Franck Tours to be sure to include the “hole” within the first one. (No more clues.)
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Planning a trip to Tahiti? I strongly suggest Jan Prince’s book on the islands.
Would I leave you hanging without more pics? How would one describe them in one word?
I know… we have all said it before at one time or another. “It was really my intention to…” and it really was my intention to follow through on the promise to myself to keep up with the blog posts on a regular schedule, only somehow that didn’t happen, and here I am scratching my head while wondering where did the time go in the last half of the year? That’s easily answered, only it doesn’t excuse the fact that it went undocumented due to a number of distractions. (It actually sounds “cool” for celebs to say, “I am truly sorry, but…” or “I was misinformed”… or worse, “it wasn’t my intention to…”or even worse at the time of this post: “I misremembered….” Really?
OK. I am saying it for the rest of us. I failed. I learned a lesson, and I will try to do much better with my intended commitment. OK? In spite of all of the unexpected things that happened in the first half, the culmination of a lifelong dream of mine did become a reality. I actually watched in total amazement the ongoing construction from September through mid-December of the addition of my Pinterest, Houzz, and Coastal Living inspired studio! I still am in awe that I got the additional space for creating that I had been waiting for, and I am excited about the new works that will be born here.
I began with a vision board years ago that was viewed daily in the former congested office space, and worked hard to save as much as possible toward my goal. I was reluctant at first to pin stuff on boards that I would dream about having. I even remember writing in a former post that I had enough social media sites, and I would not be adding anymore. Funny how things work out for the best. The boards were born and I found out that I really loved seeing what other pinners (who are probably HGTV remodel junkies like myself) were collecting. It turns out that in discussions with my architect and contractor, it was a lot easier showing them the board pins than trying to explain my ideas, so that was a super plus. Thank you, Pinterest, and Abby Kerr, who introduced me to Pinterest while I was taking one of her courses in Brand Development.
In Coastal Living Magazine, I found inspiration for the interior wall and floor colors within a photo of a set of wooden steps leading onto a beach. Suddenly it all started coming together with repurposed furniture that was being thrown out which I distressed and made into a window seat with cushions underneath a Plantation shuttered trio of windows. I already had a large architectural drafting table. It was distressed and placed in the corner underneath two panoramic lakefront transom windows and I decided to paint the closet doors incorporating retro beach colors in a striped pattern reminiscent of rustic surfboards or cabanas. My plans are to distress some shuttered doors that will be hinged together to divide my quiet zone from my creative one, and provide more display space for art within the center of the room. Thank you, Candice Olson, for the idea of incorporating zones. Hanging above the light table behind the print bin is a ceiling fan which has been painted to complement the studio wall colors of the sea. A bookcase is located next to wall height canvas bins of varied sizes, and my beach- inspired look is completed with the addition of a Key West palm and a Bird of Paradise on either side of the multi-colored striped window seat. In front of that is a repurposed coffee table and meeting place for clients during a studio visit.
Do you experience that feeling of anticipation when you watch the remodeling shows on HGTV before they reveal the “after” from the “before”? What is it that makes us love that process of transformation so much so that we can listlessly sit and watch one after another after still another? Is it something about control of the process, or creative curiosity, thrill of the unknown, or a mix of these? I guess these are questions I ask myself when I am away from my easel and exploring other things besides the latest canvas. With some luck and a large dose of inspiration, maybe I will be able to stick with my resolution to produce more frequent posts… or if the revision of this post is any hint of my progress… maybe not.
Ah… today was going to be exciting. We had lined up our sail and snorkeling with One Love Charters beginning with the pick up in Cane Garden Bay at 10 a.m. Joe and
Amanda were our guides for the day, and we sailed off to Fallen Jerusalem as a suggestion from Joe for the first destination for snorkeling, followed with lunch at the
Cooper Island Beach Club, and a visit for snorkeling to the Indians, which consist of several large rocks with underwater grottoes. The final anticipated stop was a return
visit to the Norman Islands and the Willie T with a brief stopover at Peter Island. By the time we arrived, we had only an hour or so until our departure, since we needed to
get back to our island home for the last evening in Cane Garden Bay. For two of us, it was agreed that we had located our one particular harbor.
Photos above: shot ski at Willie T, Willie T, and lower left: Lighthouse Villas in Cane Garden Bay
Reluctantly, we said our goodbyes to our hosts, who now were new friends, and returned in time for happy hour again at Quito’s outside bar. Conch fritters
and grilled mahi skewers were served with a delectable coconut lime sauce along with a surprisingly tasty goat soup. After several hours there, we wandered back to our place for
packing for the return flight home tomorrow, goodbyes to Gee Gee and Ms. Bean, and one final night in paradise with visions of returning soon appearing in island slumber.
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there, any discomfort is quickly forgotten as one gazes upon one of the most serene and breathtaking beaches within the Caribbean. A leisurely day was on the group agenda on Wednesday
following lunch ( a really large juicy cheeseburger in paradise) at the restaurant and a brief tour of the grounds. One of the highlights on the beachfront was pelican watching. The acumen
and accuracy was astounding as you watched these birds target their prey below within the crystalline waters. Another was the discovery behind a large monolith farther down the beach of
the Nature Boy Beach Bar, a delightful makeshift island style bar made of natural sand and rock formations and canopies of spray painted multi-colored palm fronds. Underneath a small
tent was the island bartender with coolers of iced cans of beer, and another filled with some type of local rum punch. Music from a connected iPhone was played if you purchased a drink;
if not, it was turned off. Even the sign was innovative, made from a kayak holding a flag from the British Virgin Islands with handwritten advertising. Only in the islands! You could never
have a young entrepreneur like that at home with all of the rules and health regulations.
Of course, a visit to Tortola isn’t complete without a taxi ride to Bomba Shack, where there are no rules. We were too late for the infamous Full Moon Party, so we had happy hour
instead. The interior is literally made up of colorful planks of wood which form a makeshift series of spaces with assorted graffiti added on surfboards and censorable montages of former
visitors throughout. If the walls could talk, you wouldn’t want to hear those stories.
Naps and showers prefaced our ” formal” evening out for dinner at Bananakeet, which had been recommended in Cane Garden Bay. The quiet dining crowd, low-key music,
and dinner of lamb, mixed veggies, potatoes, shared wine, and dessert were a nice contrast to the previous hours. The location and view from the mountaintop was both serene and sublime.
We ended the evening there talking to a couple celebrating their first few days of wedded bliss with a local islander on the dance floor. Sandman, our singing taxi driver who shared our love of
the music of Keb Mo’, returned us to Myett’s for a nightcap before the trek to our rooms.
Thursday was again laid-back with sun-stroked hours spent on the beach at Cane Garden Bay in front of Tony’s and back to Myett’s for happy hour and Island Special:
mouth watering lobster dinner prior to ending the evening briefly at Quito’s bar for a final nightcap. Plans were discussed for the next day (and our last) snorkel and sail excursion to the
Norman Islands and the Indians.