Monthly Archives: June 2014

A Good Day

There has been a lot of upheaval in my life these past few weeks. We normally spend the month of June just recovering from our biggest tie-dye event of the year, the Florida Folk Festival. This year, we were coping with illness before we even left the festival. My grandson’s cold was the little snowball that rolled through the family and down the big hill of my husbands weakened immune system, becoming a huge problem when it turned to pneumonia. That was on top of the heart attack we didn’t know about until we went to the Emergency Room because of the cough that wouldn’t go away.

I caught the cold, too, of course. We were both still coughing a bit when we went on our vacation to North Carolina. That was a wonderful experience, but it was still a big departure from our normal routine, which I was starting to crave by the time we returned to Jacksonville. I wanted a quiet, ordinary day with room for some self-care.

Today was that day. I finally got back to Sweatin’ to the Oldies. Go ahead and laugh, but Richard Simmons keeps me moving for an hour and nothing else has ever done that, so I’m grateful. I had no idea how much aerobic exercise could help my mood until I went off anti-depressants a few years ago. The medication got me through menopause, but I wanted to see if I could manage without it once I made the passage. It turned out exercise was the key. It makes almost as much difference as medication and it’s a whole lot cheaper. I had let it slide since the festival because things were so crazy, but I knew I couldn’t do that much longer without falling into the depression pit. Today, I worked out.

After a shower, I sat down to meditate. Every time I do that, I remember why I want to do it more often. The whole day goes more smoothly if I practice self-care before I do anything else. Once I got my day off to such a good start, I was able to enjoy running errands and taking my daughter and grandsons shoe-shopping. I also played some games on my i-Pad. These are free games designed to tempt you into spending real money in order to speed up your progress. If you’re determined not to spend real money, you have to take long breaks to let energy or coins build up. They’re perfect for someone like me, who will play obsessively as long as possible but will definitely NOT spend real money to do it.

I also painted. I planned to make a squash casserole for supper, so I bought some yellow squash when I went to the grocery store. I decided this would be a good day to add to my series of tiny paintings of fruits and vegetables. I took a look at the others and realized I didn’t have one with a blue background, so I set up some squash on a cutting board in front of a blue cloth.

Yellow Squash

Yellow Squash


I worked out, I meditated and I painted. It was a good day.

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Healing Time

My husband and I had been planning for weeks to spend out fortieth wedding anniversary in North Carolina, but then he had a heart attack and we were afraid his doctor would not let him travel. We asked about it at his follow-up appointment in early June and were delighted when the doctor said it would be all right, as long as my husband was careful rebuilding his strength and didn’t try to do too much.

We had to rule out camping on our land, but we did not have to rule out North Carolina. We spent a few days, including our June fifteenth anniversary, at a hotel in Asheville. Then we spent two days at my sister’s cottage near Burnsville. Her cottage is just over the ridge from our land, so we were able to visit and check on our overgrown bench and fire pit. We also planted a new Japanese Iris, which we had bought at the tailgate market in Asheville.

The market was a feast for the eyes. I was wishing I could just set up an easel and paint for hours, right in the middle of it. There were buckets full of sunflowers.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers


There were baskets of colorful squash.
Squash

Squash


There were pies.
Pies

Pies


And there were irresistible irises.
Iris

Iris


We went straight from this market in Asheville to the smaller one in Burnsville and then we took our new iris to our land to plant it. It joined a red hot poker we planted last year and a Korean Lilac we planted a few years ago. We were pleased to see that the older plants had survived and were doing well. We spent some time relaxing on my sister’s front porch before we drove back to Asheville.
Getting Ready to Plant

Getting Ready to Plant


Relaxing With This View

Relaxing With This View


Asheville is lovely and we enjoyed our time there but we wouldn’t go all the way to North Carolina and not visit the Blue Ridge Parkway. One day, we went to Mt. Mitchell with my sister and her family. Another day, we went to Craggy Gardens. Mt. Mitchell is my husband’s favorite spot on (or near) the Parkway. Craggy Gardens is mine. On a normal trip, we would hike the trail to Craggy Pinnacle but my husband did not feel up to the climb, so we took the Craggy Flats trail instead. It’s less challenging but no less beautiful.
Craggy Flats

Craggy Flats


All of my favorite scenery is in Western North Carolina and I dream of spending long days in those mountains once I learn to paint landscapes. Those are the landscapes I most want to paint, but it’s hard to find time to paint on a six-day visit. We strolled the streets of Asheville, visiting boutiques and galleries and my husband’s favorite pub, The Thirsty Monk. We enjoyed delicious meals at restaurants like Katmandu Cafe and The Noodle Shop (helpful hint: if you go to Asheville, DO NOT waste your time eating at a chain restaurant. Choose a local restaurant. You won’t regret it). We scouted plant nurseries with my sister and played whist after dinner in her cottage.

It was a lovely, restful, healing vacation, but I was afraid I would not find time to paint at all. Then, on our last day in North Carolina, we bought an old-fashioned lilac. When we took it to our land to plant it, I took my acrylic paints. I was determined to paint something before I had to come back to Florida.

I painted our new iris.

Iris Painting

Iris Painting


I had to do it quickly – there was still supper and whist planned for the evening – so it’s a small, simple painting, but it sure made me happy to do it. I didn’t carry all my paints to North Carolina for no reason. I painted!

A New Painting

I still have hopes of painting the sunflowers I mentioned in last week’s blog post, but this week, it’s been hard to find a good time to paint outdoors. The temperature is better in the morning, but the light is better in the afternoon. I know I don’t have the skills to actually capture the light, but the light moves me. I need to be moved before I tackle another outdoor painting.

At least, I think I do. Painting outdoors has lots of special challenges. Painting indoors under controlled conditions is easier, and a good way to build skills. I need to build skills. I could cut the sunflowers and bring them indoors but that doesn’t seem fair to the birds who planted them. The birds want them to go to seed, so they can eat them. Fair is fair, so I will only paint them if I can do it outside.

I needed to get back to painting, though. Because of the Florida Folk Festival and my husband’s heart attack (he’s still improving; thanks for asking), I left the paints alone too long, and I started feeling intimidated by them again. I needed to paint something – anything – to remind myself that the process is always fun, whether the result pleases me or not. I’m learning from my mistakes. I needed to go ahead and make some.

I clipped a hydrangea bloom from my side yard and put it in a small vase in front of a yellow background. Hydrangeas are more complicated than sunflowers but I did my best.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea


I was still working on this when my daughter called to ask if I would take her to Target to try and get one of the i-Pad Minis they have on sale this week. It’s a good sale, but there are limited quantities and no rain checks, so it’s not easy to find one in stock. I had driven to another county to get my own two days before. I got lucky; they had just had a delivery. My daughter had not yet decided she wanted one at that point. When she did decide, we drove to a different far-away Target because the internet said they had it in stock, but the last one was sold before we got there.

That was yesterday. This morning, our nearest Target was showing on the internet that it had some in stock. I wasn’t inclined to believe it and I was busy painting, for the first time in weeks, so I said I would take her when I finished my painting. Once the painting was signed, I picked her up and we drove to Target. We walked in and saw that the Associate in Electronics was on the phone, telling someone the i-Pad Minis were all gone. At that moment, another Associate walked up and said they had just received some more on the truck.

If I had not been busy painting, we would have been there quite a bit earlier, when they would have told us the Minis were all gone. My daughter would have been sadly disappointed. As it was, she arrived at the perfect time to get a new i-Pad Mini, fresh off the truck.

Painting is good!

An Interesting Week

I had hoped to have a painting to blog about this week, but fate had other plans for me. Most of my blog readers are friends and family, so most of you already know what happened this week to keep me from painting. For the one or two of you who do not follow me on Facebook, I will explain a bit about my interesting week.
My grandson caught a cold at the Florida Folk Festival during the Memorial Day weekend. He was already improving by the time we got home, but the cold spread to other members of the family. All of his household caught it and, here in my household, it was picked up by my husband. He felt unwell the day we got back from the festival. He had to stop and rest in the middle of the unloading process, which is not like him, but we put it down to the excessive heat. The cold symptoms started the next day.
That was Tuesday. He got a cough and the cough got worse and worse until he was unable to sleep at night because of it. On Sunday, he asked me to take him to a walk-in clinic. On Monday, he asked me to take him to the emergency room. I tried to remain calm. He knew how worried I was. When we got in the car, he put his hand on my shoulder and said, “I’m not having a heart attack. You don’t need to haul ass.”
He was referring to the last time I had driven him to the ER, seventeen years ago, when he was, in fact, having a heart attack. We didn’t know that until we got there, of course, but I guess emergency room people can spot that look quickly, because they met us with a wheelchair when I pulled up. I hadn’t called anyone; I had just hauled ass to the nearest hospital. They did an angioplasty, put in a stent and said he was lucky. There was not a lot of damage to his heart.
This time, we were sure it was just a respiratory problem. We were wrong. He ended up back in the cath lab and now he has three new stents, in the same artery that had just one seventeen years ago. The “heat exhaustion” he had experienced on Monday was probably a silent heart attack. He had no chest pain and no symptoms that reminded him of his earlier heart attack. Needless to say, we are glad we went to the emergency room.
He’s still in CCU, but he’s improving and they have said, again, that there was little damage to his heart. We’re still waiting for conclusive word on the respiratory problem. Needless to say, I haven’t taken any time lately to paint. I’ve been at the hospital during visiting hours and taking care of household things and paperwork when I’m at home. I want to give a shout-out to my younger daughter, Emily, who has helped immensely with the paperwork and with keeping me on an even keel. She’s an honest-to-goodness grown-up now – a big change from the last time we had to deal with a situation like this. She also brought her sister, who doesn’t drive, out to spend time with us at the hospital. It sure is nice to have that kind of support.
I’m also incredibly grateful for all the encouraging words posted by friends and family on Facebook. I used to wonder, when folks asked for prayers on Facebook, if my little comment, “Praying” was at all helpful in a such a big, scary situation. Now I know that every thought and word and little heart makes a huge difference. When I feel worried and shaky, as if I’m standing on the edge of an abyss, I can look at those comments and know I will not fall. Too many people are holding me up, with their thoughts and their prayers.
With your help, I am coping and, finally, resting. I hope to have my husband home soon and I hope to have a chance to paint, because the birds at my feeder have given me something pretty special in my back yard.

Sunflowers

Sunflowers