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:
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Turtle and chocolates display case
The many faces of fudge.
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 cultural diversity I have seen on this island of roughly 550 residents is slim. Skip Elliot Bowman 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.
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.
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.
Sunrise out of the front door.
Sunset out of the back door.
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.
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.
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)
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.
This is my “everything” blog. Of course I read quite a bit, and love to write, but sometimes words overwhelm me. I need to take a break from the literary scene and do something different. Most of you know I paint in watercolors and oils. Not often, but the urge strikes now and then. It is messy and takes a lot of time. I also like to garden.
Looking for a hobby? I have another hobby. I like to make jewelry. Years ago, I only wore fine jewelry and would dare not wear costume jewelry. Then I found the Bead Bar. It is a place in College Park that stocks drilled stones and gems like jasper and amethyst, turquoise and sterling silver, pearls and polished woods. I use a lot of lapis lazuli because it looks so nice with jeans, but it is increasingly hard to find. They also carry Swarovski crystal but I don’t use them much because they look fake, to me. I like to use things that look natural.
They have classes at the Bead Bar. I learned pearl wrapping from a little Japanese girl and love the colors found in freshwater pearls. I made this tiny bracelet for my granddaughter for being such a good girl at the fall festival. She hasn’t seen it yet. Pearl knotting is the most durable as the wire-tipped silk thread they are strung and knotted on is strong. It is not difficult, but it is tedious and time-consuming.
Wire wrapping is really hard and extremely time consuming. This technique was taught to me by the owner of the Bead Bar. She’s really good at it and crafts some truly special items. Mine are fairly basic. This hard wire is more durable than soft wire, has to be twisted and shaped with tools, but the connections are a bit clunky. These are made with polished woods. I love the long and dangling earrings. Woods are great for fall wardrobes.
What I finished up today was a turquoise and sterling silver necklace. This is the mess I had when I forgot to fasten the clasps on before I crimped the ends. I had to restring it. (Old age memory.)
Here is the final product. This is the easiest form of beading. Select your strings of beads, get a bit creative and string them up on the soft wire. This is the least durable as the wire tends to break at the crimp over time. It’s fairly easy to restring them, so not a problem if you can collect your beads. Kind of tough if a necklace breaks in the car.
I don’t make a very good neck model, but this is how it hangs. I love turquoise with a coral-colored shirt. If you are looking for a hobby that will give you hours of joy and provides rather instant gratification (unlike writing), this is a fun one to have. I think I have an original piece of jewelry for every outfit I own now. This one would have looked just as nice with three instead of five large pieces of turquoise. I get carried away.
What do you do to take your mind off of work and relax?
People often ask me what I do when I am not writing. I paint, but I am a novice. Most of it I give away to people who express interest in it, family and friends. This is my latest, rather two dimensional, watercolor. The flow of paint on paper or canvas is relaxing. I paint in oils too, but it is messier and takes more time. I also make jewelry. It doesn’t look that great photographed without being on a model, IMO, maybe one day.
It is odd how different it looks in sunlight compared to incandescent light. This last one was taken indoors. Most of the time my studio serves as a storage room. Sometimes I paint outdoors. I don’t care for the background wash in this painting honestly. Better luck next time. The Bird-of-Paradise that bloom all winter are gone now.