Art from the Heart

Monday is laundry day.  I learned this from my grandmother who used an old wringer washer and hung the clothes on the clothesline in the fresh small town air.  This pretty much took up her whole day and she didn’t talk a lot during those long mornings, but the scent of bluing and bleach and the fresh southwest PA morning air is a embedded in my memory.  So Monday is my laundry day, Saturday mornings I clean the bathrooms and Wednesday is now “art day.”  I’ve never been one to hold to a strict schedule, but being retired, I needed some structure.  So why not have a schedule for something that is  just for fun? My long-distance art class was on Wednesday, so I thought it would be good to stick with that til I resume later in the spring.  Til then I am on my own.

Inspiration can be found most anywhere.  As a confirmed pack rat, I have plenty of old wrapping paper that I will use “someday.”  Weeding out some paper that was too wrinkled or tacky to keep, I came across a fun winter scene of a maple syrup harvest.  A lot of activity was captured in the scene, but I decided to keep it simple.  It seems to be best to stick to the season you are currently living in to make the most of what is out there to see with your own eyes.  I have always been inspired by trees but very frustrated trying to capture them on canvas. I was disappointed at a paint-and-sip class I attended after enjoying some success at painting a background, sky and rolling hills and then the trees got me.  Since I was stumped the “instructor” just grabbed my brush and swooped some black paint onto my picture.  This was not helpful.

My new teacher, Janet, showed me the art of swooping, which I found to be so much fun that I have included trees in every painting I have attempted.  Just swoop those trees on there and if you mess up; oh well.  Whatever you do from the heart always turns out better. So why not take some time to do what you love and do it with heart.  It may not be a masterpiece, but it is good for the soul to include some joyful activities between doing the laundry and cleaning the toilets. Happy painting!IMG_3357IMG_3358IMG_3387

Art for Fun

My dad was an artist.  Although he worked as a design draftsman at the Walworth Company in Greensburg, PA throughout my childhood years, I was inspired by the pencil drawings he had created in his downtime during WWII.   A copy of a detailed black and white Reims Cathedral (also called the Cathedral of Notre-Dame at Reims) hangs in my hallway to this day.  My sister is also artistic and has painted me pictures of horses and bunnies in pastels and water colors over the years.   Since I was young I have always had the desire to create, not just in the written word which I find to be easy and fun, but in a more artsy way.   Drawing, I must say, is not my strong suit.   I have dabbled in sewing and other crafty pursuits, (even made my own wedding gown), but still felt that I wanted to accomplish something more.

In October we visited  Winston-Salem with some good friends and ran across an Art.O.Mat which is a cigarette machine converted into a vending machine for small wooden blocks decorated by various artists.  I paid my $5.00 and received my prize; a little black and white abstract piece which included an imbedded marble and some stamped on words.  Hmmm, I thought, I could do that.  I was also encouraged by an acrylic art lesson that I attended last year. Although I cannot draw a straight line, I enjoyed painting.  Completed a winter scene and it was fun!

So I contacted the instructor, Janet and signed up for one of her classes.  Never mind that her home studio was way past my usual distance for my own trivial pursuits; I really wanted to do this.  I stuck with the tried and true and picked an old Christmas card to copy.  So after three lessons I completed another winter scene and although it did not come easy, I did enjoy it and will continue to try.  (I had better, due to all of the art supplies that my husband got me for Christmas.  He is so encouraging!).  I love all of the layering of colors that do finally end up to look like something, whatever that may be.  I may not be ready to jump on the Art.O.Mat bandwagon yet, but maybe someday. Til then I am going to enjoy a new hobby and fulfill a childhood dream.  Why not try something that you have always wanted to do? My painting seems a bit unfinished, but I like the idea that we are not finished in this life as long as we continue to grow and learn.IMG_2867IMG_3344IMG_3350




Happy August first!  August is my favorite month of summer because there is a hint of fall in the air and the weather is still nice and warm.  Too warm for some? Well, don’t worry cause before you know it the holidays and cooler weather will be here soon.  If the store displays are any indication, Halloween is just around the corner and Christmas  close behind.  (Seriously I saw a Hallmark Christmas decoration display at a gift shop today).

It’s also kind of a lazy month when most of us have already taken the “big vacation” of the season and may just have some day trips and weekend excursions coming up.  That is fine with me as I am a fan of the “stay-cation” and am just as content in my own back yard as anywhere else (and with zero hassle of planning, packing, traveling, traveling back and unpacking).  So I will enjoy this lazy month and take a break from whatever I need to.  One of those things I will be taking a break from is this blog.  It has been fun to do something out of my comfort zone and to jot down my feelings after retirement to share with you good folks.  This is the August of my retirement and I will just relax and enjoy myself and do what I need to do.  When fall rolls around, I’ll be back with some fresh ideas and a new byline.  So, thanks for “listening” and bye for now. IMG_1271

Just Chillin’

My refrigerator is almost as old as I am.  Bought in 1972 as one of our first newlywed purchases, it’s a plain white GE with the freezer on top with no ice maker and no frills.  But man, that baby can chill!  We were all of 21 (me) and 22 (Ken) years old at the time.  We got it at Levin’s Furniture in Mt. Pleasant, PA, and on our way home we witnessed a one car accident.  A big old Chevy was approaching a bridge that we were coming up to and for some reason, the driver ran smack into the abutment and we watched in slow motion as the car seemed to be momentarily airborne and then came to a very abrupt stop with the hood sprung open, then down it came.  I can say with assurance that the inattention of the driver was not due to texting  but alcohol was involved.  We hung around til the police arrived and luckily it seemed that only minor injuries had occurred. So our story could have been cut short by a drunk driver on a lovely sunny afternoon, but thankfully it was not.  Along with the refrigerator, we have survived 5 moves, a few different jobs and 2 lovely boys. Now covered in magnets and postcards of places that we have been to and some that we have not, that baby still chills.

We survived early days living on peanut butter and bologna sandwiches (not together), Old Milwaukee beer and Oreo cookies (sometimes together).  So I am thankful for every good and bad experience that has brought us here to where we are today. The proverbial winding road.  I am thankful for old and new friends and family that we somehow thought would always be around, but then again, they are. Those of us who are still around will always hold a part of those loved ones from the past in our hearts and minds as long as we live and breathe.  It’s time for lunch…gotta see what is leftover in that old refrigerator.IMG_2169

Serendipity in our Travels

After touring Luray Caverns, we were looking for a place to eat that wasn’t so touristy.  We drove through town twice without finding anywhere to eat. Why we decided to give it one more go I cannot tell you (although the town is so small it didn’t take long).  Could have been that we were starving.  “Stop!” I exclaimed.  I actually did exclaim.  There was a cute little coffee shop in town that we had missed.  Surprisingly, when I read the lettering on the window that said, Gathering Grounds Patisserie and Cafe, I realized that this  was one of the two places that I wanted to find after reading an article in the May issue of Southern Living on the Skyline Drive.  At least we will have coffee, I thought.  After perusing the menu, I decided on a turkey sandwich and Ken chose the apple pie to go with our coffee.  Well I can tell you that both. were delicious! The thickly sliced turkey was tasty and the caramel topping on the pie a la mode was yummy!  The decor was cute and comfortable so we relaxed and enjoyed our high-top window seat..

Our second find was for lunch the next day in Front Royal.  We were looking for the post office in town to mail a couple post cards and thanks to Waze we found it easily.  On our way back around, we cruised about for somewhere to eat. “Stop!” I exclaimed again.  We had stumbled upon the second place that I wanted to try that was recommended in Southern Living, called Blue Wing Frog.  The staff there could not have been friendlier and as Ken always engages the servers and hosts, we managed to track down the couple who owned the place. In fact Mr. Harris sat down with us and joined us in a complimentary bowl of flavorful gazpacho before our lunches arrived (shrimp for me and wings for Ken).  Everything was delicious.

Serendipity is a favorite word of mine.  Call it luck, call it a God thing.  I am always delighted when fun little surprises come our way.  IMG_1806IMG_1801IMG_1815IMG_1820IMG_1821





Luray Caverns

We spent the morning of our 47th anniversary in a cave, or should I say, a cavern.  We’d been camping in the Shenandoah valley for the week and decided to tour some of the local attractions.  As a kid we drove the Skyline Drive on a family vacation and my memory of it was sketchy at best.  My recollection of the caverns was like a fuzzy old movie reel of underground formations and a strange organ that played spooky music via the stalactites.  Shades of Phantom of the Opera. The formations impressed me more as an adult as we wound our way through the damp interior over a watery stone pathway.  Names were given to many of the formations which I promptly tuned out as I gazed around at the natural wonders.  When we finally got to the old organ I found it to be rather cheesy as it droned out an unrecognizable hymn in a plodding cadence.  We experienced true darkness when the lights were extinguished for a few seconds and I marveled at the true grit of the explorers who mapped out the cave years ago.  If you are ever in the area it is worth your time to take the tour and beat the heat this summer.IMG_1779


A Mother’s Prayer

I  hope that you all had a happy Mother’s Day. The gift that most mothers want to receive is the health and happiness of her children.  I would guess that the most unselfish and heartfelt prayers are those sent up daily through the unconditional love that a mother has for her child.  We even pray for their safe arrival into the world before they are born.  We pray over childhood illnesses and teenage trauma and when they are in their 20’s and 30’s, our love and concern does not diminish.  We pray for their health, happiness and good decisions.  Our children may not choose for themselves the things that we would choose, in work and play and relationships.  As we chose for ourselves when we were younger, trust that they know what is best for them.  Our parents may not have liked our hairstyles or our boyfriends, but most of that works out fine if we just let things take their course.  I am delighted that both of our boys are in loving and happy relationships.  They took their own path to get there.  I saw on the news this morning that the young man who jumped in front of a car to protect his fiancee protesting at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville last year married his love this weekend.  I can only imagine that his mother must have prayed for him that day.IMG_2097