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Simple Living

As I reflect back over my life, I find some of my happiest times were when life was uncomplicated.  These past few years it has been difficult to keep it that way.  I don’t know if its living in the same area for twenty years and the accumulated “stuff” that creeps into life with a long stay or if its laziness on my part.  Perhaps I’ve gotten too lazy to do the constant maintenance required to keep the homestead thinned out.

This past week has brought me back to where I started.  When I was a child, my family was complicated and I endured it by keeping my eyes on writing and art.  I wrote story after story and must have designed my dream house a thousand times.  I felt at peace while doing these things.

Also as a child, a few favorite memories were trips to the local pool in the summer.  It was a large pool with a sand bottom and a beach shoreline.  Eventually a new pool was built, the sand pool closed, and camping was added.  I saw the campers and wished I could experience that.  It seemed like a perfect life – campfire at night, roasting marshmallows, making “Pies” over the fire, swimming, exploring.

Over five decades later, I still long for that experience.  I do find peace in writing and art, but I tend to let the overwhelming things in my life push that always into the future.  I search for ways to get back to simple living.  Two weeks ago today I took a drive to Virginia, to an Airstream dealership.  I wanted to see an Airstream for myself.  I’d only seen one in my entire life and only from the outside.  I saw the interior of one in a movie however and it appealed greatly to me.  Simple.  Comfortable.  Now in this time when I need simple, it is very appealing.  My two goals for the trip to Virginia were to see one for myself and find out if it would be do-able.  Would it fit into the budget?

I intended to stick to a 23 foot Airstream because I wanted something that I could manage on my own.  The first one I looked at was 23 foot and I didn’t like it.  Perhaps it was just that particular layout, but it seemed very cramped.  I looked next at three 25 foot trailers.  All seemed a good size.  One was more luxurious than the other two, with corian counters and table, dark wood floor, and a nice layout.  It was expensive, nearly $100,000.  The other two I looked at were the same size, but no corian.  One twin beds and textured flooring and seats.  The other one had a queen size bed, light wood floor, and smooth, ultra-leather seating.  I ended up asking for a monthly payment quote on the latter.  It was very acceptable.  I made a downpayment.  I had expected an Airstream to run $800 or $900 a month, so was very pleased that the payments were about half that.  Airstreams are more expensive than normal campers, trailers, and RV’s.  They are incredibly well-made and durable.

One week later found that same 25 foot Airstream Flying Cloud at the cabin.  I was so excited over those days that I could hardly sleep at night.

The next day I drove the Airstream to Ohio.  I arrived at the very same campground I had visited as a child.  I’ve been here a week.  I find there is more time, though I know that can’t be possible.  I have more time to sit quietly in my lawn chair and observe the kids riding bikes, families and friends sitting around campfires, golf carts passing by and waving. I enjoy visiting the little country store here at the campground.  The woman who works there uses the income to pay for her campsite all summer long.  There are band concerts, car shows, bingo, and so much more.

Yesterday I discovered that the old sand bottom pool is still here.  I walked over to take a picture of it.

I couldn’t get closer, to show the immenseness of it, because it is currently a construction zone with a fence around it.  The grassy area used to be the beach that we laid our blankets and towels on.  The sides and rear of the pool were concrete walls.  There was a wooden, floating platform in the middle for us to jump off of.  A regular and high dive were off on the left.  I asked an employee what would become of the old pool.  She said they’re getting ready to turn it into a catch and release fishing hole.  It’ll look exactly like it did when it was a swimming hole, except it won’t have the diving boards or the floating pier in the middle.  That’s nice, I thought.

I brought Einstein along and he has adjusted well.  He likes looking out the windows at all that is going on.  His favorite passtime, however, is to lay in the grass and watch.  I brought one toy for him and he brings it to me several times a day so we can play a bit.  I have a tennis ball that I take to the dog park at the front corner of the campground and he fetches it for me.  I’m getting exercise with all the walking and swimming.  The weather has been nice.  On the couple of days that it rained, I took naps and ran errands.

My little Airstream is the only one here.  In fact, I doubt that there have been many here over the decades.  I am nestled in between huge 5th wheels, long travel trailers, and motor coaches, all equipped with multiple slide-outs and many surrounded by permanent decks and porches, sheds, swings, gas grills, American flags, and “welcome” signs.

Yesterday I spent time with my step-dad.  We went to an Italian restaurant that used to be a movie theater in by-gone days.  I had spaghetti and meatballs – delicious!

I have strawberries in the refrigerator and have enjoyed strawberry shortcake the past two evenings.  My aunt Sherry gave me a coffee maker, but I have not been able to get filters for it yet.  I may have to settle for the only ones I saw – a pack of 500.  I need 12.  The trailer has two televisions, but I can’t seem to get interested in that.  It has a great stereo system and sometimes I use Bluetooth to connect my iPhone and play my playlists.  I got a Verizon jetpack so I have internet wherever I go.  That has been a great investment.

My awnings are all out and I enjoy sitting at the picnic table writing in my journal and watching life around me.

Time for some lunch.

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Sunny Flower

I love to plant surprises throughout my home, my life, my work.  I like to look at things more than once and find those surprises; things I missed before.  Look closely when you’re in my life.

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A Good Read

A Good ReadI have shared my progress on this painting with you.  The painting is done.  I am still inspired when I look at it.  What will become of it – that is the question on my mind now.  Will it hang in my studio for the duration of my life?  Is it meant for someone?  Will they find it?  Will it inspire anyone else?  Will anyone find what they’re looking for when they see it?

What do you see in it?

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New Day, New Way

This was the best Christmas ever.

I got a brand new iPad Pro for Christmas. Got the iPad, an Apple pencil, a keyboard, and an awesome set of headphones.  Tonight I downloaded a new software called Astropad.  It lets me see the screen of my iMac right there on my iPad.  I can bring up any app and use it from the iPad, but I can use all of my Adobe products that way.  So I brought up Photoshop and used the iPad and Apple pencil to do this first (very rough and crude) drawing.  I see a LOT of potential with this.  I love the way the pencil works.  No more trying to draw my lines with a mouse.  I can work as if I’m using a pencil or paintbrush on paper.

Even though this first painting is indeed crude, I want to share it with you so that we can both see my progress as the days march forward.  I’ve got BIG ideas swimming around in my creative brain.  Lets see where it goes from here.

Man Bear with Stubble

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Fifteen Minutes a Day – day one and a half

Day One and a HalfDid more than 15 minutes yesterday (day one).  In fact I worked on this for more than an hour.  I was teaching a class last evening and we worked on a drawing of a small book.  Then we got out colored pencils and that made it a lot of fun, so I worked longer than 15 minutes.  Here is is that project, at this moment.  Still needs much more work, but shows promise.  The project is being done with Rembrandt oil based colored pencils.  Just like with watercolor, you start light and work to dark.  Also like watercolor, you begin by coloring lightly in the darker areas of the image and with each layer the colors build upon one another.

In this case. I started with a yellow pencil and covered the entire object.  I felt that even under the red of the book cover, there is a golden color.  So I started with that.  I did tiny, light circles of yellow over the whole thing.  After that first layer, I began with some red, doing the same thing – small light pressure circles.  My goal was that I not see any “lines” in the drawing.  I wanted a smooth look.  Funny thing, that.  When I was a little girl, my dad taught me to draw and he used the little circular motion on the paper as well.

Right now I’m working on the right end of the book.  The golden gilded edges of the paper are very dark after all these decades.  To get my drawing that dark will take many layers.  I have to work with a light pressure or else the paper take on a shine that won’t take any further layers.  Paper has a grain that you might only see with a microscope or perhaps a magnifying glass.  If you draw with the colored pencil in strokes across the paper, the pigment will not go down into the tiny little dips of texture.  I have to hold the pencil more upright and keep the tip very sharp – almost needle sharp – with an electric pencil sharpener.  By working in tiny circles and keeping the pencil upright, I can get the pigment even down into those little tiny holes in the surface of the paper.

So we’ll see how it goes.


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Charcoal (black and white) on Mi Tientes paper

I’m launching a new 15 minutes a day for artwork.  Hold me accountable for it, will you?

This (below) is not a 15 minute a day item, but I came across it and still like it.  It’s black charcoal pencil and white charcoal pencil (highlights) on gray Mi Tiente paper.  I want to do more.  PLLLLLLEEEEAAAAASSSSEEEE


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Book Cover

Quiet Place to Work

A Time to Write

Dan and I met twice in recent days and reviewed our past progress on the new book series.  We laid out the storyboard for the first book and handed out assignments.  My part is to design the book cover and to buy the domain name for the new website.  We’ll reconvene the end of May to see what we came up with and plan out the next step and individual assignments.  This is the year.