At the Water’s Edge

There was a time when many people responded to every blog post that I published. I don’t know what happened to all those people. Not many come around anymore. I miss the interaction with friends, although I understand many aren’t even blogging anymore. I’m trying to teach my computer how to recognize my voice. It is not an easy thing to do. Editing seems even more difficult. Apparently, it understands short commands better than long sentences or single words. This post may be a little bit choppy.

Although my life has not changed dramatically since the Great Isolation began, thoughts and questions have come up from beneath the surface. What would my life be like without my husband? Could I approach the transition into deathlessness with the resolution required to go peacefully? How would my children and grandchildren remember me? Life is shorter than we can fathom in the greater scope of things. There is so much I want to accomplish and I’m uncertain if there is enough energy left in me or time left on this planet to get it all done. I suppose these thoughts have always been with me, but I’ve been less acutely aware. There’s really no fear, just quiet contemplation.

In this Great Isolation, I am learning so much about myself relative to my environment. For example, when the tide is going out, or when it is low, there is a sense of tension and a feeling of anxiety. When the tide is coming in, or high, there is a sense of calm and a feeling of ease. The high tide is brimming with sea life. Manatees, rays, dolphins, and all manner of fish coming into the canal bring it to life. There is a soul connection with these creatures who roam the waterways. Along with the emotional sensitivity to the action of the water and the life within it, I feel a strong sense of spiritual freedom in the vastness of the sky. The constantly evolving colors and clouds are like an artist’s canvas under the brush. There is a sacred connection to the world around me.

I haven’t been painting much this year, at least not on canvas. Here is one painting that I did for my stepson:

11X14 acrylic on gallery wrapped pro canvas “West Somerset Railway” original

This is a train that he rode in England when he was a child. The steam and tiny lettering on the plaque were the most challenging parts. It was supposed to be a Christmas present, but I did not have it ready. He returned from the Bahamas at the beginning of this pandemic and we haven’t been able to visit. I have some ideas for new paintings that I have not committed to. Below is a little painting that I gifted to our local diner. I hope they manage to reopen after the governor gives the green light. Most restaurants have continued with take-out and delivery, but The Perfect Cup was struggling under new management before this all went down. We’ll have to wait and see.

 

8X10 acrylic on student grade canvas (I framed this in a black floater frame) “The Perfect Cup” inspired by The Art Sherpa

 

Lately, I have been engaged in other artistic endeavors. I’m making draped flower pots out of fabrics that have been saturated in a concrete mixture and making art stones from molded Reddi-Set mortar. Mandalas and other designs are painted on the stones. After the stones are painted, I coat them with epoxy or resin to make them shiny and give them protection. These projects keep my hands and mind busy. The flower pots and stones are for my garden space. The edging for the garden border will be done with reclaimed, painted ceramic roofing tiles. We have not started the edging project yet, because the RS is re-wiring his brother’s boat.

I may get back to writing someday but, for now, I am content with visual and tangible art. Currently, I’m beta reading a book for an author friend. I’ll tell you more about that later.

Are you writing? Has this pandemic with its great isolation inspired your creativity, or have you been working? Or both?

Rights of Nature

Several years ago, we would come to fish on the west coast of Florida and the waters were clear with visibility to nearly 20 feet deep. Now, you can only find patches where visibility is four or five feet down. We fished the seagrass flats and caught sea trout in abundance. Now, the seagrasses, along with the many creatures who called them home, are gone, including most of the trout. A friend says when she came to Matlacha ten years ago, she could drop in a bucket and pull it out to find little crabs, tiny seahorses, and a multitude of small sea plants. Now, you’re lucky to get clear water to fill a five-gallon bucket, and certainly won’t year-round in many places around Ft. Myers.

Nestle is trying to bargain to pull billions of gallons of water from Ginnie Springs in north Florida. Nestle states, “At Nestlé Waters, our business depends on the quality and sustainability of the water we collect. It would make absolutely no sense to invest millions of dollars into our local operations just to deplete the natural resources on which our business relies. It would undermine the success of our business and go against every value we hold as a people, as Floridians, and as a company.” But their history begs to differ. From California to Michigan, to Maine, to Florida they have ruined or are in the process of ruining eco-systems and aquifers around the nation. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/29/the-fight-over-water-how-nestle-dries-up-us-creeks-to-sell-water-in-plastic-bottles.

Ginnie Springs crystal clear spring waters

Developers, like James Finch in Panama City, and others in SWFL, destroy acres of environmentally sensitive property, pay the fines as, “The cost of doing business,” with NO ACCEPTABLE RESTITUTION.

There is a new movement, Called Rights of Nature that I want all of my friends, particularly my Florida friends, to know about because it will ultimately affect you personally in some way. Back in the day, we so-called Flower Children and Hippies protested and fought hard to get clean water, clean air, and other anti-pollution protections in place. There are so many of us Boomers that are being disrespected nowadays, and if you look with consideration at how the environment was back in the late sixties and early seventies as compared to the eighties and nineties, you will see that we were highly successful. But things have gotten worse in recent years because these laws have been abused and quantitative limits on pollution were set which have been adjusted in favor of the polluting industries and corporations and their development.

What if Nature, like Corporations, had the rights and protections of a person?

 

January 21, 2010, a United States Supreme Court case concerning campaign finance was decided. The ruling effectively freed corporations to spend money on electioneering communications and to directly advocate for the election or defeat of candidates (ie. Lobby). Citizens United basically gives corporate personhood. Corporate personhood is the legal notion that a corporation, separately from its associated human beings (like owners, managers, or employees), has at least some of the legal rights and responsibilities enjoyed by natural persons. In a series of decisions over the past 40 years, the Supreme Court has radically expanded constitutional rights for corporations.

Corporate interests are often contrary to the interests of the general public, and studies find that elite interests are much more likely to be reflected in policy outcomes than those of the general public. We need to end Citizens United. While the name implies that it is a group of concerned citizens fighting united for citizen’s rights, it is anything but. Corporations are destroying our nature and our planet has little defense against corporate giants. It’s not nature vs corporations and developers. Nature is us. We are Nature.

Rights of Nature is the recognition and honoring that Nature has rights. It is the recognition that our ecosystems – including trees, oceans, animals, and mountains – have rights just as human beings have rights. … Nonetheless, for millennia legal systems around the world have treated land and nature as “property”.

Ecuador is the first country to recognize the Rights of Nature in its Constitution. Rights of Nature laws enable people, communities, and ecosystems themselves to defend and enforce such rights. Without the ability to do so, those ecosystems would be destroyed. Clean water is vital to life. All life, including ours.

On Saturday, the Florida Democratic Party approved a new party platform which includes the Rights of Nature. This is believed to be the first time such a provision has been included in a state political party platform in the United States.

The platform reads:

We resolve to adequately protect our waters, support communities’ rights in reclaiming home rule authority and recognizing and protecting the inherent rights of nature… 

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) is working closely with communities across Florida to advance the rights of Nature and local communities.

Roseate Spoonbills in Big Cypress Conservation Area

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) is spearheading the global advancement of the Rights of Nature through support for the increasing number of communities defending the rights of nature. You can read about their work in the USA and abroad here: https://celdf.org/advancing-community-rights/rights-of-nature/.

Laws recognizing the rights of nature thus change the status of natural communities and ecosystems to being recognized as rights-bearing entities with rights that can be enforced by people, governments, and communities. Just as corporations (and developers) have rights protected by Citizen’s United, Nature needs a right to defend itself.  Or we need Citizen’s United overthrown, and our environmental policies and regulations protected and enforced. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem likely in the foreseeable future.

Our lawmakers are already passing preemptive laws designed to prevent the Rights of Nature movement. These laws – including the United States’ Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and similar state laws – legalize environmental harms by regulating how much pollution or destruction of nature can occur under law. Rather than preventing pollution and environmental destruction, these laws, instead, allow and permit it. In addition, under commonly understood terms of preemption, once these activities are legalized by federal or state governments, local governments are prohibited from banning them.

Laws recognizing rights for nature begin with a different premise – that ecosystems and natural communities have the right to exist and flourish, and people, communities and governments have the authority to defend those rights on behalf of those ecosystems and communities.

The following is from a WINK News article here near Matlacha in Ft. Myers:

“There have been several efforts to give legal rights to nature in Southwest Florida. But now, some lawmakers are trying to block the movement before it appears on your ballot.

The calm Caloosahatchee River is one of the 15 Florida waterways that people are fighting to give legal rights. Karl Deigerts (Matlacha Civic Association President,is among these people.

“If an inanimate corporation can have rights,” Deigert said, “then why cannot a living ecosystem full of life not have individual inalienable rights?”

Now, Deigert’s effort to bring the Caloosahatchee Bill of Rights to Lee County is facing a big challenge.

“We have people out there in Tallahassee working to keep nutrients flowing into this river,” Deigert said, “to prevent us from creating these protective laws.”

Two Florida lawmakers want to stop any effort to give nature legal “rights.”

“I take that as a compliment,” Chuck O’Neal said, “because apparently, this is so dangerous the thought of actually giving people the right to clean water.”

“Why would any representative preempt things that protect us and our health and our environment?” Deigert said.

Sen. Ben Albritton, who filled one of the bills, said to WINK News it handcuffs local governments and invites litigation. His full statement:

Handcuffs Local Governments – These proposals would restrict a local government’s ability to pass ordinances, adopt regulations, and issue permits that may implicate these “new” rights. This could include development approvals, zoning, land use controls, or infrastructure projects. This is not in the best interest of local communities.

Invites Litigation – These proposals will likely result in a significant increase in litigation by creating a private cause of action whereby any person can sue another person, business, or government if they “feel” their “rights” are being violated. There is no requirement for actual injury or any direct connection to bring a lawsuit, and the burden of proof is on the one being sued.

The risk to Business – These proposals would have a detrimental effect on Florida’s economy in general.

In addition, I don’t believe that elevating nature to the status of a human being is good for society. Our Constitution is meant to protect the rights of people, with no mention of “rights of nature”. To elevate any natural feature to the level of human beings simply diminishes the value of human life. (Yet, we protect corporations as if they were individual people.)

Unnecessary – These proposals are entirely unnecessary as Floridians already have ample opportunity under existing law to challenge activities or government actions they feel could or would result in harm to the environment.

This legislation that I have filed addressing these “rights of nature” proposals will preserve the ability of local governments to operate without the threat of overwhelming litigation, preserve the rights of Florida landowners (from large to homeowners) to rely on well-established permitting and environmental regulatory programs. These proposals will throw Florida’s current local government regulatory and permitting structure into turmoil, thus having a terribly negative impact on Florida’s economy.

“It’s not working,” Deigert said. “We wouldn’t be having this conversation today if our current system worked.”

 

Instead of trying to pass a nature bill of rights countywide, organizers in Lee County are focusing on getting it done municipality by municipality.”

 

This article is a prime example of politicians claiming to know the best interests of the people when clearly their interests lie with corporations and developers.

Doesn’t recognizing rights for nature just add an additional layer of regulation?

No. Current environmental regulatory structures are mostly about “permitting” certain harms to occur – acting more to legalize the activities of corporations and other business entities than to protect our natural and human communities. Laws recognizing the rights of nature empower communities to reject governmental actions that permit unwanted and damaging development to occur – by enabling communities to assert the rights of those ecosystems that would otherwise be destroyed. Although people have been talking about “sustainable development” for decades now, very little has been done to change the structure of law to actually achieve that goal. Laws recognizing the rights of nature finally codify the concept of sustainable development – disallowing those activities that would interfere with the functioning of those natural systems that support human and natural life.

The preemptive laws, like Florida SB1382- preempts and eliminates our Right to self-governance in the creation of a Bill of Rights for selected ecosystems that amend our local city and county charters elevating environmental legal protection to the highest level recognized in western law. This preemption is aimed at the entire State of Florida. According to Clean Water Act author Oliver Houck, “The Clean Water Act does not go far enough to protect us. We must add Rights of Nature law if we are to have true protections.” We can no longer afford to consider ourselves above nature but must recognize that we are a part of nature. Our water are in an emergency state of decline. From Florida’s first magnitude springs, to our estuaries, to our marine coastal waters, all Florida waters are now designated as “impacted”. Clean Waters are the backbone of Florida’s entire economy and must be at the forefront for consideration in every decision by our elected officials and every level. We can not delay remediation any longer and must seek a new paradigm for the most expedient and effective changes in our laws. Our current regulatory system has failed to protect us. We must break the fixed system. Rights of Nature laws are the path to change.

What can I do to support the Rights of Nature?

  1. Become better informed. A variety of booksarticlesvideos, podcasts, and other reference materials may be found on the Global Alliance for the Rights of Nature website at  TheRightsOfNature.org including just released The Rights of Nature, The Case for a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth and  Wild Law: A Manifesto for Earth Justice.
  2. Talk with friends and spread the word about the Rights of Nature. Share this site with others and visit our Rights of Nature Facebook group.
  3. Join a global signature and letter-writing campaign by signing our Value Rights of Nature petitionhttp://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/yes-to-rights-of-nature/or writing a letter to your President or other head of state requesting support for Rights of Nature. Gather friends for a letter huddle and write your letters together.  For more information, visit RightsofMotherEarth.com.
  4. Draft, endorse and support local initiatives that recognize rights for nature in your municipality. For advice and counsel, contact the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund CELDF.org.
  5. If you are an Awakening the Dreamer Symposium facilitator, include Rights of Nature in your symposium discussions.  Include our letter-writing campaign as a way to be in action.
  6. Support the work of the Global Alliance for Rights of Nature (GARN) financially.  Every dollar, euro, or other currency makes a difference in expanding the recognition of Rights of Nature around the world.  Thank you for your consideration and generosity! https://therightsofnature.org/

Seascapes and Transitions

Things have been a bit strange on my island paradise for the past few months. There are numerous transitions to pass through in changing locations. We’ve been here since June and the first two months were spent painting a few pictures and unpacking. I had enormous difficulty in becoming grounded here.

Not only because this is an island surrounded by water, but I had no friends here, except my husband. We’re slowly but surely acclimating to island life and beginning to get acquainted. I’ve been devouring root vegetables, walking barefoot, and practicing yoga while sitting on our one-ton rock overlooking the sunset (that my husband hauled all the way from Orlando) and doing all that I know to do to get grounded and tuned into my dharma. Some of the things I love most about island life are the absence of clocks and calendars (for the most part), the sound of silence in the night (except for the fish jumping), and the gorgeous skies (constantly evolving). The stars are nice, too. I can’t say much about the people here, because we’re just getting introduced. There is a huge amount of community spirit, but we haven’t had much chance to be social. We joined the Matlacha Civic Association because we are trying to stop the City of Cape Coral from illegally annexing property on our island.

Feeling myself slipping into depression, I decided to throw myself into a big project that allowed me to focus on something beautiful. Eva Volf is an artist that paints fantastic seascapes in oils and I received permission from her to attempt to recreate one of her paintings in acrylics. I fell in love with the composition but knew that I do not possess the skills to paint such realistic impressions in acrylics. I was determined to give it my best shot. I don’t usually post reference photos with my paintings, but I want to give Eva full credit for the original. Isn’t this gorgeous? Keep in mind, I wasn’t trying to copy her, but to use her painting as inspiration to create one in my own style with acrylics.

“Awakening” 48X60 oils on canvas by Eva Volf

 

Unlike oils that are easily blended, acrylics take layers and layers to achieve results. They dry super-fast, like within minutes, instead of hours into days. And this was the largest canvas I have ever worked on at three feet by four feet. This presented many challenges. Acrylics dry much darker than they appear as applied. It’s difficult for me to color mix keeping this fact in mind. With experience, I know I will learn better how to judge. The project took me 2 ½ months working 4-16 hours a day. Many times I had to repaint, or even gesso over dark areas with white and start anew. I worked in distinct sections for days into weeks until I was comfortable enough to move onto a new section. In the end, I was quite satisfied with the results. I am having it framed for Christmas. Eva’s is much lighter, softer, and less dramatic. I don’t really like comparing my work to someone else’s, because we are all doing our own thing. Suffice it to say, her beautiful pieces are such an inspiration to me.

“Light on a New Day” 36X48 acrylics on canvas Susan K. Nicholls

I have always wanted a seascape to hang in my living room. Now I have one. I tried fluffier clouds surrounding the sunrise, but good ones are not in my skill-set as of yet, so I opted for a fog bank burning off. I can always go back and update the painting if I improve and feel so inclined.

Hung in the living room

The frame I picked out is to be made from whitewashed sea-weathered wood. I think it will look very nice. The painting has been curing since mid-November. Today I will put on the first two coats of varnish, one more coat tomorrow, and then after a few days of drying time, it will be ready to take to be framed.

on the wall

Finishing this monster project was bittersweet. I’m feeling accomplished, yet I know I have so much more to learn. I started this project exactly one year from the day that I picked up a brush and decided to paint.

First painting-Kate Jobling tutorial, last painting-Eva Volk inspired

I am painting a cup for the local breakfast diner, “The Perfect Cup”. That should only take a day, or so. Then I have a train to paint for my step-son’s Christmas present. Beyond that, I am hoping to commence with painting more original artwork inspired by the island life. I will still be doing a few tutorials because I learn so much from every little one. My favorite instructor has been in school in Italy for the past two months. I am looking forward to his return.

Abbey-The Water Dog

We attended the local tree-lighting get-together on Friday, with Abbey, the water dog, where we met many locals, snowbirds, and other doggies. I’m beginning to feel like I belong here, despite the fact that there is a tRump flag flying in front of every other house. (Okay, I won’t make this a political post, but sheesh…suffice it to say, I share the world view of this man with those beyond our borders and at least half of the world within them.)

If I don’t get back to you before Christmas, have a Merry one, Happy Holidays, and a wonderful New Year filled with love and light and joy! Peace be with you and yours.

I almost forgot! Here’s a quick boat tour around the tip of the island if you need something to warm you up today. It’s 85 degrees here today.

Art Space

When I was writing, we would often share our writing space online. I still have my desk in a corner under a window in my new place and I’ve also set up a makeshift studio for painting.

 

This is a guestroom. It has a Murphy bed that’s closed in this photograph. The futon usually sits along the left wall, but I had to move it for this large three-foot by four-foot canvas. Nothing sat level on the thick carpeting, so hubby went out and bought a smooth sheet of plywood to go on the floor. Even with sunlight coming in through the sliding glass doors, the light in this room was horrible and I was straining my eyes. We found a nice lightbox set-up on FB Marketplace and put that to good use.

The Murphy bed unit has shelves and cabinets where I keep art supplies. There are various painting mediums in there; gels, pastes, liquids, thinners, and such. Three hundred-plus paintbrushes live in Mason jars on a handy shelf.

I have no idea how many tubes of paint I have. Painting is done mostly with three primary colors, reds, blues, and yellows, which are mixed for various shades, along with whites, blacks, and umber. I keep some secondary colors and a few tertiary colors to speed up mixing certain shades and provide small amounts of quick color. Hanging shoe racks make a good place for keeping the colors organized where I can find what I need quickly.

I’m painting in acrylics and they dry extremely fast. This makes blending a challenge and I use goat hair mop brushes for large areas of blending. Glazing liquids help with blending smaller areas. I recently purchased a line of “open” hard-bodied Golden paints which have a slower drying time, the drawback is that they also have a longer tacky time, which is when your brush strokes can lift all of the layers off of your canvas, so there is a lot of time spent waiting for paint to dry, even when using a blow dryer to speed the process.

 

I like painting in early mornings when the light is good through the sliders that allow me to gaze out onto the palm-lined canal whenever I feel the need.

Morning time is when I feel most alert and focused, unlike late evenings when I felt a deeper connection with my writing.

There is a lady, Lisa Timcak, who owns a local gallery and shop, Island Visions. She has expressed some interest in displaying some of my work in her place next door to the ice cream shop. Inside of her gallery, there are tables and chairs to sit and eat your ice cream, which everybody who visits Matlacha has to do, so this is good exposure. She will be coming back to the village in October, so we shall see how that pans out.

The sun is coming up and I will be back to painting soon. I have been working on this large canvas for a few weeks now. It’s a slow process from start to finish, but quicker than writing a novel. And once the sun starts to set, I’ll be off to take my evening walk.

Let me know how your creative endeavors are coming along. Besides Alejandro, is there anyone else who has tried their hand at painting? I just picked up the brushes for acrylic painting about a year ago. I find it most relaxing and the minor frustrations are relatively easy to cope with. Have you thought about giving it a try? You may be better at it than you ever imagined.

Union with the Divine

For a very long time, during my nursing career, my days and nights were most often spent behind institutional walls. After becoming disabled and committing to writing a couple of books, the majority of my time was spent staring at a computer with occasional moments to enjoy a walk through a tropical garden enclosed by a privacy fence. Things that impose limitations give us the opportunity to expand. Now I gaze out glass walls onto palm trees overhanging a canal beneath glorious sunsets. I am in love with the beauty of it all.

Kundalini yoga practice, dedication, and devotion have helped me draw forth creative energy and a life force that has me wondering about my dharma, my purpose in life. If you have a mind, you have a mission.

I have entertained thoughts about writing and illustrating a children’s book. There are times when I think I should open a studio where others can come to explore their creative outlets while I share my experience. Turning my pleasures into a job does not appeal to me at all. I don’t like deadlines or making my life revolve around someone else’s clock.

16X20 acrylics on canvas “Ocean Sunset”

For now, in union with the divine, I’m content to seek out all that is beautiful, study it, and do my best to capture it in some way to be shared with others.  I’m currently enthralled with the sky and the sea. There are pieces of all of us to be found there, universal energy in the motion of the wind and the water. A spectrum of light that penetrates the essence of our souls. And yet, a peace that pulls us closer to serenity.

Settling into Matlacha Island Life

The new header is a drone shot of our new island home. We are on the southwestern end of the peninsula that joins the road. Most of the area south of the road is a public park, except for the main drag thru town, which is quite charming. The bridge to the island is a draw bridge used mostly by sailboats.

Now that we are finally settling into island life, I’m thinking about resuming my writing. I’m still passionate about my artwork and have no plans to limit my painting time. Also, I’m still practicing Kundalini yoga and have a 15-minute sadhana with several common kriyas and one or two different meditations I do every morning. Jai Dev Singh is a fantastic teacher and his words resonate with me even more than the exercises.  I attribute my explosion in creativity to the prana, or life force energy, that Kundalini brings forth. When I taper off my practice, for whatever reason, I feel the motivation and energy for all things creative waning. It only takes one class to bring it up again. That’s what I love about Kundalini. It’s fast and powerful as compared to other yogic practices.

Here are the paintings I have created in the month and a half that we have been on Matlacha This totals forty-one paintings in this first year. I will start showing again soon and really need to have a sale to clear some space for more.

11X14 acrylics on canvas board: Psychedelic Wave
16X21 Acrylics on student grade canvas: Shore Fisherman
24X24 Pro-grade canvas (my largest yet) Island Cottage. This one is going over our bed.

I completed a body study, also. I’m not so thrilled with the shading and have considered painting over it, but it was a good lesson in color mixing for flesh tones. FYI: When I am painting, all of my colors start out from red, blue, yellow and white. Sometimes I use a burnt umber brown or black to avoid wasting paint. All of the shades, tones, and hues are derived from color mixing. I don’t buy, for example, a tube of purple or turquoise.

24X18 Acrylics on student grade canvas. Body Study

We sized down to less than half the square footage that we had in our Orlando home. Gave away three-bedroom suites, a living room suite, and a dining room suite. The lanai here is under roof, and not including it, we are down to 1200 sq ft. and paid nearly twice as much for it. Ha! But, yes, we are on the water facing the gorgeous sunsets and life is grand. The house has a great room and our bedroom doubles as Greg’s office, while the guest room (with a Murphey bed) doubles as my studio. When my grandkids came to visit, I heard the four-year-old ask the nine-year-old, “Why is grandmother’s kitchen in the living room?” There is a nice island in the center, but I thought that was hilarious. The perception of kids.

It’s a double lot with 120 feet of seawall and dock and has mature fruit trees. I made my first key lime pie with homegrown (definitely organic) citrus. The angle of the picture makes the crust look really thick, but it wasn’t. It was thin and crispy. Key limes are about the size of a ping-pong ball. I won’t deny that there is likely some knuckle in that zest.

As I mentioned earlier, I have an urge to start writing again. The candy man on the corner, William Tidball, who makes the best Turtles in the world, also sells local author’s books in his shop. I gave him a copy of Naked Alliances. He is reading it now and then we’ll discuss whether he will add it to his shelves. Most of the books that sell well are the ones specifically about Matlacha and Pine Island, but he has had some luck with several Florida writers.

Greg thinks I should live on the island and get to know more people before I start writing stories located here. I disagree. You can drive through and see the Trump 2020 flags, read the local Progressives column in the newspaper, and walk down any street to get the flavor of the place. The only black man I have seen on this island of roughly 700 residents, is the guy who plays the steel drums at Bert’s Bar and Grille every day from noon till 3 pm. Not sure how Brandi will fit in if I continue that series. Snowbirds come in September/October. According to the US Census Bureau, there is a 0.3% black population here. Not nearly the diversity that is seen in Orlando. But I do know that the candy man is gay. So there’s that. I don’t really want any of my characters fashioned after specific people on the island. It’s not anonymous enough.

Skip Elliot Bowman, resident drummer. He plays about two dozen different instruments, has played in NYC and at Carnegie Hall.

For example, some people have made characters fashioned after 62 yo Leoma Lovegrove, a colorful local character in her own right. She has a super sweet, bubbly personality and appears by other names in people’s books here. Leoma’s husband is an author and they host Indie Author Day here yearly. There are many artists, tho not as popular, who live on the island. There are a half dozen galleries in Matlacha alone and Pine Island has more. I could see an art-related story developing, but I would not want my storyline drawn on any specific character. There are also stores here that sell artifacts, both native American and Pioneer.

If you have time to read on, I will share a brief history of the place.

Around 1925, Lee County began dredging shell fill from the oyster beds of Matlacha Pass for use in the construction of a road they were building to connect the mainland to Pine Island. The abundance of the shell fill they dredged created a mass of land heretofore not existing on any maps. A wooden swing bridge was put in place across Matlacha Pass in 1927. (Pine Island was once inhabited by the Calusa Indians and later the Seminoles.)

Shortly thereafter, the Great Depression began and a group of squatters moved onto the excess shell fill. They didn’t have much, but the excellent fishing provided food and made this small parcel of land an attractive option to homelessness. The squatters began in tents and cars, eventually building shacks, shanties, and stilt houses. Over time they developed a full-scale fishing industry on this unclaimed land. At one point there was a showdown with the local government and the squatters emerged victorious. The land was deeded to them by the government through homestead rights. Thus the legendary fishing village of Matlacha was born.

Elvis music and movie, “Follow That Dream”

This entire drama is documented in Richard Powell’s novel, “Pioneer, Go Home!” (1959). The novel then became an Elvis Presley movie called “Follow That Dream” (1962). We watched the comedy-musical a few nights ago. The wooden swing bridge over Matlacha Pass was replaced with the present-day concrete draw-bridge in 1969. Plans to replace the existing bridge with an identical one because of its age are purportedly underway.

Much of Matlacha was constructed during the ’20s and ’30s. One and two-room clapboard houses with tin roofs went up along Pine Island Rd. These informally built, casually constructed structures embody the essence of Florida as it was prior to the building booms following WWII, during the 1960s and thereon. Yes, we live on a spoil island, and it’s one of the few unspoiled places you will find in the state. Stacked on shell that has cemented over time, it’s not likely to wash away like the sandbar islands. I’ll take my chances with the hurricanes for these sunrise and sunset views.

OH, YEAH! I almost forgot. There’s a Kindle Countdown Deal going on and “Naked Alliances” is on sale for 99 cents.

Review: “Richard Noggin and his trusty sidekick expose the bare truth about a ten-year-old murder and get to the bottom of an ugly human trafficking scheme. With tight prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, Naked Alliances doesn’t let up until you’ve seen it all!” ~ Tim Baker, author of Eyewitness Blues.

 

Island Bound

Hi, all! May is upon us already and it’s hard to believe nearly half the year has passed already. Time surely speeds up as you grow older.

I have only been able to Paint a few pictures this year as we have been cleaning and packing up to move. We finally found the house of our dreams on Matlacha Island and we close in two weeks. Greg retires on May May 31st. We are Island bound very soon!

In the past few days, I have been writing since most everything except my laptop is packed away and in storage. So there is hope Book Two of the Naked Eye Series gets written after all.

Here are the few paintings I’ve completed this year:

 

Acrylics on 16X20- Monarchs on Paintbrush Flowers
Textured gel and acrylics with gold leaf on 16X20 hardboard- Japan Alps Spring Thaw with Cherry Blossoms
Hummingbird
Gel medium on music sheets with acrylics on hardboard 11X14- Song of Romance
And my favorite of all times: acrylics on 11X14 hardboard- Still life Turkish Coffee Pot with Tangerines

We are truly excited beyond belief to finally be moving to the island and getting out of the city and back to “Old World” Florida. Away from the traffic, the chaos, and the noise. Here’s a look at the back of our new home on the water. It is a double lot with 100 feet of backyard seawall facing west for premium sunset views. Ahhh…….Dreams really can come true.

Busy Making Art

I have been painting more than I have been writing. Some of it is just for fun, and some of it is hard work. It’s all enjoyable. Thought I would share some of the things I created since my last post. I’ve really challenged myself to step up my game.  There are about 19-20. I didn’t want to put them in a revolving gallery because the images are too small and I wanted you to be able to see and appreciate the detail. Enjoy.

11X14 on canvas board acrylics: “Face Flower is my take on a Concha Jiménez Puente painting

 

16X20 acrylics on student grade canvas: “Autumn Reflections”

 

16X20 on pro gallery wrapped canvas “Misty Tropical Treefall”

 

18X24 acrylics/textured on student grade canvas: “Steelers Pumps” –Irridecent paints on shoes. Gift for friend and Steelers fan.

 

11X14 Acrylics on pro gallery wrapped canvas: “Maya Angelou” Gift for yoga instructor, Jai Dev, who often quotes her.

 

16X20 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: “Sailor’s Delight”

 

16X20 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: “Appalachian Waterfall”

 

18X24 acrylics on student grade canvas” “Books are Magic”

 

11X14 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: 1st commissioned piece for Mark Paxon, “Stronger Than Hate” Inspired by Ben Roethlisberger’s cleats after the Tree of Life Sanctuary shootings–gift for his son.

 

18X24 Acrylics on student grade canvas (I hate this one…my sky didn’t go as planned.) : “Stormy Rainbow”

 

18X24 acrylics on student grade canvas: “Sailing Regatta” This started out as a cloud study, but I liked how it turned out, so made it a painting.

 

16X20 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: “Spring Gardens”

 

11X14 acrylics on student grade canvas: “Winter Train”

 

16X20 acrylics on student grade canvas: “Wild Horses”–I don’t like how the middle horse’s chest and legs came out so it needs a touch-up.

 

6X16 acrylics on gold-leafed hardboard: “Seven Sand Hill Cranes on Takeoff”–These are new techniques I have been experimenting with.

 

16X20 acrylics on student grade canvas: “Tree of Life in Enchanted Forest”– This was a special project I did for my daughter. It had to show day and night, have mother earth (in the treetop) a man, a woman, and a baby. It was my first fantasy painting. It also uses some luminescent paints, gold and copper leaf, and glitter, but you can’t see the shiny in a pic.

 

16X16 metal leaf on hardboard: “Tree of Life” This was my first try at metal leaf and I had to stencil the adhesive. It took many months and was also a gift for my daughter.

 

11X14 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: “Kitty” Commissioned piece for a gift. I have since changed some of the colors on the forehead from grays to brown/beige.

 

12X12 acrylics on gallery wrapped pro canvas: “Rose”

Hope you enjoyed your tour thru my little studio.

On a scale of 1-10, I would say “Maya Angelou” was a 10. “Rose” came in a close 9.

All of these pieces are for sale unless otherwise specified (except the “Winter Train”–it hangs in my bedroom)

 

Keeping a Creative Outlet

Sorry about the construction going on here. I am searching for a new header photo, but haven’t found one I like, yet.

Last time I touched base with you all, I was gearing up to start a new business with my husband. We were pretty sure we could make it work. It was basically selling business education, which is ironic, coz we got educated. We went through a three-month training course and were ready to fork over a $60,000 investment which would have covered more training in Fiji, Costa Rica and Malaysia. The company was run by an Aussie and many have had much success. We were in communication with top earners around the globe. We had some grandiose ideas.

Two days before we were to hand over the money, the Federal Trade Commission shut them down and flagged them as an MLM scam. Now, we did purchase products from them, which I liken to tuition for business school. And we’ve gotten our money back for everything except a $3500.00 payment to a loan originator. My husband says he learned more in those three months than he did getting his MBA. (He did that while we were dating in 2006.)

There are literally thousands who are out their investments and can’t turn a dime now, coz all their websites, back offices, front offices, online products pages, sales funnels…everything, gone. The owner, who is now worth $153 million, is paying his fines and retributions and cutting his losses. He’s moving into resort development now that he owns an island in Fiji. Everybody else depending on the company lost everything in the blink of an eye.

We still have retirement dreams that include travel, but we’ve found a rather unconventional way to afford it with International Pet Sitting. We connected with several house-sit platforms and an academy that helps you get set up and offers tips and tricks for sitting and travel. Again, we are in communication with people around the globe who are doing this and we’re pretty excited about it. We both love animals and lost our two doggies last year, but didn’t want to replace them coz when Greg retires we want to be free to travel. Many are doing this exclusively and don’t even own a home.

House sitting for two weeks to several months, caring for other people’s beloved pets, we’ll be able to fully immerse ourselves in other cultures, while getting our animal love fix. Greg speaks a few languages and looks forward to learning more. We have a website. It’s not fully completed, but it’s live now. (You can check it out HERE.)

I still have my writing. It’s slower than molasses though. I get a creative spurt and make it through a chapter. Put it down for a couple of months. Go back to it and trash another chapter. Writing has always been a hobby for me and I certainly never expected to make a career out of it, but it’s more than disappointing to spend so much time creating a good story, investing in good editing and cover art, then not even being able to break even. Have no earthly idea if or when I will finish book two in the Naked Eye series. I’d like to say by next summer, but I know we just finished home renovations and we have to install entirely new landscape in the backyard this winter. We are constructing a xeriscape with a couple of pergolas and a nice water feature made from a large blue temple jar. We have purchased a few colorful boulders as sitting stones for the meditation garden. It has rained heavy EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. this summer. So we can’t start that project until things dry out.

My daughter, the professional student, has started back to school, so we are watching after the grandkids quite a bit more than usual. They will be with us for a whole week in October. That’s going to be interesting. Me getting kids off to school and playing “soccer mom” again.

I don’t get onto WordPress like I used to, but I still read a lot of your posts and try to keep up to date on who is involved with what, even if I can’t always comment. There are a ton of old-timers no longer blogging. These are people who were online when I started back in 2013.  I miss the way things were. A few are FB friends, so we keep in touch. Life changes.

I have thrown myself into painting this last month. I have to keep up a creative outlet or I’ll go stark raving mad. I painted in oils and did ceramics in my teens and twenties. Oils are expensive and messy. My back won’t let me throw on a pottery wheel like I once did. There is a place to paint bisque in Winter Park, but they want a small fortune for little pieces. Britt-David Park in Columbus, GA used to provide all of the clay you needed for free, and you paid a very small fee to use their space, wheels, and kilns. They taught raku and other forms. I sold pieces at local art festivals back then. Smashed seventy-five pieces of pottery when I was going thru my divorce…but that’s another story.

I dabbled a tiny bit in watercolors when Greg and I first married, but they didn’t like me. I was heavy handed with my paints and they seemed to have a mind of their own. It was fun and relaxing, but about all I accomplished was a parrot, some Bird-of-Paradise flowers, Native Americans in a canoe, and a tree. So far, I have completed eleven paintings in acrylics using mostly YouTube tutorials. A couple are my own designs or inspired by something I’ve seen. I’m using the tutorials to build technique so I can paint my own stuff better. Much cleaner than oils, but it has its issues. Paints dry super-fast, so there is little, if any, time for blending. Using paint retarders just makes them tarry and sticky, or else I haven’t learned to use them, yet. It’s progress, not perfection. Here’s a little gallery of what I have painted this past month.

Enjoy

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

New Journey

The subtitle of this blog is mybrandofgenius. I started this blog as a writer who wanted to meet like-minded people. I wanted to know where they came from and what they were doing.

My goal was to connect with people who had tried what I was trying to do as an author and to meet readers to find out what they most enjoyed about reading. I needed education and mentors. I have learned much from you. I am grateful.

You all, my followers, have been with me thru thick and thin. I hope you’ll stay with me as I embark on another pathway. I am not abandoning writing. I love it. I feel passionate about writing and my abilities.

I am putting my creative writing on hold while I develop other areas of my life that need attention.

The rocket scientist, Greg, and I are coming to a time in our lives wherein we have reached financial success, but not financial freedom. We are learning that we have been guilty of some stinking thinking.

We are guilty of living a life where we thought to go to school, earn a degree, get a job, work every day, save our money, make “investments”, and retire on our 401k, savings, pension, and SS/disability was the way to success. It was. But it’s not the way to financial freedom.

Do you know the difference?

Financial success means you have worked hard for your money and now you can spend the rest of your life trying not to go broke while you enjoy it.

Financial freedom means your money works hard for you, so you have time to enjoy it.

We have been living under the delusion that you have to have a lot of money to make a lot of money when nothing could be farther from the truth.

Our thinking about money had to change. We learned that the best investment we could make, no matter how small, was in our education about money and business, but in a way that paid us to do it.

This blog is about to change. We want to share our journey here. Over the next weeks, months, and years, we will be sharing what we are doing to reach financial freedom and how it is working for us. We hope you will stay with us because we believe it may be one of the most valuable journeys you ever embark on.

If you choose to unsubscribe to this blog because it isn’t consistent with your goals, we will understand.

But I urge you to stick around.

As I have said on my ABOUT page, I have met a myriad of geniuses in the blogosphere.

Thank you for being a part of my community.