Sunday, December 19, 2021

Grateful End of Year Thoughts 2021


2021 was the second year of the life changing pandemic which seemingly will never end with multiple variants. Evidently the pandemic will become endemic. We continued to hunker down in New Mexico with a few trips in our camper van to southern Colorado and Arizona as well as around the State of New Mexico.  We were fortunate to get 3 vaccinations each by late Fall and have access to drop-in the car grocery pickups in Grants and Gallup.   I was glad that we had made some good real estate contracts in recent years as that was our primary income these days.  Painting sales, workshops, and anything that required an in-person experience was not possible until after the middle of the year.  Michael did manage 3 outdoor painting retreats beginning in August with Lubec, Maine, Taos, New Mexico in October, and finally Sedona in November and he had a successful end of year holiday sale.  Luckily no one in my immediate family got Covid19, although a member of my extended family did die of the disease in British Columbia, Canada at an advanced age.

In early July, around the time the entire family would have been visiting my parents in a normal year on Campobello Island, NB, my Dad suffered a fall which caused some significant back pain for several months.  He was immediately bedridden and survived for nearly 4 months in hospice until he faded away without pain, we believe, at the end.  It was extremely sad to lose my Dad, but family members got to make a final visit or two during those nearly 120 days.  Dad would have been 91 years old in January 2022, but as my Mom said, "we were lucky to have him as long as we did."  I also calculated that he had over 33,000 days of life which he dearly loved, and almost all of it was wonderful, which gives me solace these days.

We hope next year will be a little more "normal" and we can make the trip to Campobello Island, New Brunswick with my Mother after we have a family memorial service for my Dad in Vermont on land my parents still own at his "cabin" which he built with a friend.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Grateful End of Year Thoughts 2020

2020 will be remembered as the year of the first global pandemic in our lifetimes, and 102 years since the last pandemic which Michael's Grandfather experienced as a young physician. This has been a year to try to forget in some ways, but there are always valuable life lessons to be gained. I have learned to be extremely grateful for my continuing good health, my adequate financial situation, and for my comfortable home. I always feel grateful for my good fortune, but this year it is especially poignant to think these thoughts of gratitude.

Reading over my past several year's end of year thoughts, I discovered that we did achieve one of our life goals. In fact, the pandemic probably led us to make a decision quicker and more forcefully than we might have otherwise. This was the desire to purchase a camping vehicle as our aging bodies do not sleep as well in a tent as in past years. So in May when it was obvious that our annual summer residence in Canada was not going to be possible, we began searching harder for a camping van. We had a fairly low budget and desired to find something in the state of New Mexico if possible so we would not have to travel far to view due to Covid19. We found an option in Santa Fe, one in Taos and one in Silver City, New Mexico. The one in Silver City was our choice. It is a Canadian made class B Pleasure-Way that is now 21 years old and has over 100,000 miles, but it was meticulously maintained and everything worked when we bought it which was very nice. We have enjoyed overnight stays in our local National Forest, State Parks, and one longer trip just over the border into Colorado in Pagosa Springs when the pandemic seemed to be getting under control somewhat in August. We call her Wilma the Van.

The day we made our van purchase! We bought it from a wonderful couple in Silver City and they took this photo right after we handed them the check!

Michael lost all his income from workshop teaching which had been a primary source of income for 15 years, but he got a contract to write a book in the next year so that was a great development. Also, all my family members and friends have gotten through their unrelated hospital stays without getting sick from Covid19 which was a relief. Ironically, this was the year that 3 of 4 of our parent's had to be hospitalized for the first time in my memory and the 4th parent was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, but she is in the very, very early stages and is 89 so it is not as much of a tragedy as it could be.

Fresh Beets at the Santa Fe Market! I thought the colors were very appropriate for the Winter Holidays.

Taos Bridge Kaleidoscope

Happy Holidays to All and let us hope that 2021 brings the beginning of the end of the Covid19 pandemic.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Grateful End of Year Thoughts 2019

As I begin my seventh decade of life, I reflect more on the positive things happening in my life right now. Michael and I have all our parents still alive and living independently and with only some of the indignities of extreme age.  We look forward to some more travel in the years ahead as we begin our retirement or refocussing as Michael has termed it.  We hope to buy an old van to do more western travels and for Michael to use as a paintmobile or mobile outdoor studio this year.  In the meantime we enjoy our twice annual Sedona plein air painting workshops, Lubec area plein are painting workshops and other special workshops and events which involve travel around the US and the larger world!

 We are very settled in our Ramah, New Mexico home and look forward to more summers on Campobello Island, New Brunswick with my parents where I continue to learn about organic gardening from my farm raised father. 

The only sadness this year was learning our young rescue dog Raku has a lifelong eye condition which might lead to blindness.  In the meantime we administer eye drops twice per day for her pannus and hope to keep blindness at bay for many years. 

Happy Holidays and have a great 2020 to all who reads this blog.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

End of Year 2018

It was a year of change when we sold a house, got a new rez rescue dog, dealt with problems facing our elderly parents, and began the gradual slowing down of our work lives.  We also took our first overseas vacation together and spent several glorious weeks in Scotland where we had excellent weather.  All in all a memorable year with several retreats:  Abiqui/Santa Fe, Brown County, Indiana, Lubec, Maine and wonderful workshops in Sedona, AZ, Grand Canyon, Cincinatti, Columbus, and other locations where we met new and old friends.  At the very end of the year we settled into our home in New Mexico, where we discovered the joys of fencing by putting in 300 feet of  new fencing and 17 new posts into sandstone rich ground!

Raku Times Eight

Happy Holidays and a Joyous 2019 to Everyone!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Grateful End of Year Thoughts

Michael and I had a very busy year which was very happy with the exception of losing our best friend Saba after 17 years on April 10th.  Michael and I are still in the depths of our grief for her, but are rebuilding our habits in our new home in Ramah, NM and also printing out some of the over 1500 photographs of her life we documented which were all happy times!  There are several feral cats living on our property which I am now feeding so I am not entirely without "pets".  We have a pact, I feed them, and they keep the mice and pack rats away!

I have taken lots of photos this year, but done far fewer kaleidoscopes and seem to be moving back into quilting and incorporating cold wax medium into paintings along with photographs.  Michael and I are experimenting together in his studio which is great fun.  Come visit us at the new location of Pumphouse Studio Gallery or take a workshop with Michael through his new Paint the Southwest mentorship program or a regular workshop.

We just got back from Santa Fe where we saw several interesting artists work.  It was an interesting trip as I fell and passed out right at the end of Canyon Road on some loose gravel.  I was paying too much attention to the art and not enough to the ground.  After warning my 87 year old dad to be careful not to fall when walking, he had some advice for me!

Michael and I had memorable trips to Zion and Capitol Reef National Parks and Chiricahua National Monument.  We also paid Tucson and Sedona a visit in the Fall while Michael taught workshops.  I did not get to Bear's Ears National Monument which I had hoped to before it was reduced in size and scope.  We also had a wonderful week in the early fall in Nova Scotia and, of course, a nice Spring of 2017 in Sedona, Arizona before the move in April and a wonderful summer in Lubec, Maine and Campobello Island, NB.

We feel grateful that all of our parents are alive and quite healthy for their ages as they enter and surpass the beginning of their 9th decades.  They are our models for dealing with the aches and pains of being an elder.  Both our dads stubbornly do a lot of gardening despite balance and strength issues, while our mothers drive and do the household chores and even volunteer at various non profits.  We hope we are so lucky, but we do both have some good old age genes going back centuries.  I am still going quite a bit of genealogy and learning much about the world's history in the process.

Happy Holiday Season to All

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Moving towards retirement without a pension, but with a plan...

Since Michael Chesley Johnson and I will only get minimal social security and have no other "pensions", I have been working a plan to have some type of income coming in for our "remaining years" which in both our cases due to family genetics is likely to be well into our 90's.

I have been working the plan which is to move to a CHEAP fully paid for house in a beautiful place(done) and sell all other real estate investments with long term owner financing.  I am happy to say that we have one house sale to go and one piece of land remaining and I am working diligently on finding the right buyer for those as well!  This will take the pressure off Michael to make a full-time living as an artist and allow us to do some budget travel!  We hope a used truck camper is in our future...

In the meantime, Michael teaches weekly and I maintain houses and deal with the minutiae of daily life among the self-employed!  Michael is still writing articles and doing a lot of painting, but his focus lately has been more to challenge himself rather than to make a painting to sell and I love the results.  I even commissioned him to paint something which had personal meaning and he did a great job!

We have closed both galleries to concentrate more on online sales and reduce the time just hanging out in case someone came by to be more productive.  We are open by appointment wherever we are at the moment.   Follow Michael's blog to know where we are...  Plein Air Painterman's Blog.

Fog and Green
Since May it seems that we have had lots of fog and rain and also lots of green growth!

Fog and Boat

Once we get a few miles under our feet in recreational travel, we will get a new herding rescue dog probably in Fall 2018 when we are back in New Mexico.  We miss Saba every day.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fog and Rhodora Blooms on Campobello Island

The daffodils and tulips and forsythia have passed and now we have copious apple blossoms, horse chestnut candles, and rhodora blooming.  Next up will be lilacs and finally lupines in mid June to complete our Spring bloom here on the Island.  The Eagle Hill Bog is abounding in beautiful blooms right now just calling for photographs made into kaleidoscopes.

Rhodora Colors

Bird in Spruce

Cotton Grass Splendor

Spruce in Fog

Moss and Sticks

Life will be very busy for a few more months with gardening as a diversion.  

We hope to slow down when we get settled in a new location this Fall.  The new location is near an old location for us which we are excited about returning to after 15 plus years.  Hint is the state's name has Mexico in it, but it is one of the 50!  We left a different area of the state around 11 years ago and although we cannot afford to be near the "city different" which is an art capital of the US as well as a governmental capital, we will be in a beautiful area with lots of native americans living nearby.  I expect to be grocery shopping in a native american pueblo as that will be the closest grocery store by many miles.  Multiculturalism at its finest is found in this state and tolerance is part of the culture.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Show at Sedona Arts Center

To end our season here in Sedona, we are part of a show which we are hanging on March 22nd, 2017.  It will run through April 4th in the Special Exhibition Gallery at the Sedona Arts Center.  This is the Gallery in the original Apple Barn Building below Main Street where the Pottery Workshop, Larger Classroom and Arts Center Administrative Offices are located.  Open Daily 10-5.  We will be there for 4 shifts and the other artist will also be manning the Gallery for 3-4 shifts during the period.  It is called the Spring Celebration of the Renegade Artists at the Sedona Arts Center.  I am sharing a wall with Michael Chesley Johnson and I picked out the 9 pieces I will showing today.  Prices $100-200 so an affordable gift for yourself or others.  These are metal prints or framed prints on paper.

My largest one is called "Monumental Valley", 24" by 24" with 9 kaleidoscopes on a hand painted board.   It is based on a recent trip with the Sedona Camera Club to Monument Valley on the Arizona/Utah state line.

Come and Visit Us at the Show

To celebrate the first official day of Spring tomorrow, here are some recent photos taken of my lilac bush in Arizona.  I get a kick out of the fact that 2 months from now, the lilacs will be blooming in Downeast Maine and the Canadian Maritimes so we get to enjoy two Springs!

We are heading to Zion National Park in mid April to lead a painting retreat and then will begin the trek east to Lubec, Maine and Campobello Island, New Brunswick.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The New Year and my Kickstarter Campaign

If you have been enjoying my kaleidoscopes for a while, please consider supporting my kickstarter campaign.  It is only until the end of January and is part of the larger Make 100 Program.

 Artists need patrons and patrons need the artists to create art...

I will be creating lots of new kaleidoscopic images for this project.  Stay tuned.  If you are not familiar with kickstarter, it is an all or nothing crowd funding campaign.  In other words, if I do not meet my $500 minimum funding level, the project does not get funded so help me achieve my goal please!

Roots of a tree on Beaver Creek

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Winter Floods in the Verde Valley, Arizona

People think of Arizona as the desert and it is usually sunny, but when it rains, it can really rain and in the Verde Valley that means flooding.  We have had quite a few days of rain so the creeks and rivers have risen.  This morning I took a picture of ducks in a tree above Oak Creek who are probably confused as to why the placid creek has become a torrent of muddy water and fast moving logs and other debris!

In our community we have two creeks, Oak and Spring Creeks which went way beyond their banks in the past few days.  Our hiking trails are flooded and even walking bridges have been relocated by the powerful rushing rivers!  It is a good reminder of how powerful water can be.

The following series were created from photos taken this morning.  Happy Holidays to All!  There is a surprising amount of color in nature for such a dreary rainy day.  Red or pinkish soils, brown water, green grasses, and many other colors shine through the kaleidoscopes!

ducks on a tree

The turtle made of debris

Above the flood waters

the poor bridge

floodwaters and winter's lack of foliage

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Last Day Of Summer, Autumnal Equinox and Spectacular Spider Webs and next summer's vacation planning!

Maybe soon I will be able to close my windows and seal in for winter.  It has been really nice this late summer season with just a hint of the coming season.  As usual, this is the season for mushrooms and spider webs and the hint of Fall color.  However, in this area, the leaves are not that spectacular as compared with other New England areas I have lived in partly because of all the evergreen like spruces, but also the few maples do not blaze with color.   The most colorful thing is the berries on the ash trees!

I believe it is because the night time temperatures are moderated by the ocean breezes so the leaves do not have to go out in short blaze of color, but have an extended dying off period.  The first frost happens usually in October on Campobello Island which is really late for the 45th parallel!  Our garden is just beginning to bear some green beans!

I will post a few spiderweb kaleidoscopes for my last one of my summer season here in Lubec, Maine and Campobello Island, NB.  There is an international border between the towns here, but it feels like one town as the services and amenities complement each other and we own property in both!  I make my escape to another country nearly every day!

It is not too early to begin thinking about summer 2017!  We are taking reservations for our artists retreat vacation rental in Lubec, Maine for summer 2017 now.

Water views, walk to beach and waterfront restaurants.  Make your own artistic retreat, musical or painting,  or join us in a plein air workshop.  $500 for 5 nights, contact me!  Great for SummerKeys students.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Last Days of Summer at the 45th Parallel

Here at the 45th parallel, summer ends pretty early.  The day lilies and sunflowers have pretty much ended their summer bloom, and we are being treated to a good mushroom season.  It is now a season of changing leaves, heavy morning dew, extravagant spider webs, fog and fading vegetation and one of my favorite seasons.

smiling birdhouses

family in fog

johnny jump ups one of the first and last flowers of the season

spectacular mushroom "flower"

mushroom and lichen.  Mushrooms have an amazing diversity of color and shape

my red and yellow sunflowers against our red barn.  I try to grow these every year, but these year only a few germinated, but the ones that did provided spectacular blooms.

a new variety of echevaria with pretty flowers captured here  

My smokebush!

smokebush and sunflower

spider web

spider web...great design!

When the spectacle of Fall is nearly over, we begin our trek south and west to Arizona stopping briefly in Wilmington, NC so Michael can teach a workshop, in Georgia so Michael can celebrate a decade birthday with his family, then briefly to NM and then on to AZ where Michael begins the Sedona Plein Air Festival less than 24 hours after we arrive.  It will be a very busy October!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Colorful Flower Kaleidoscopes and Beautiful Lubec, Maine

The heat of summer has descended.  This is not my favorite time of year as I enjoy Spring and Fall much more, but there are beautiful colorful blooms in my garden now.  Especially hydrangeas, daylillies, hostas, astilbe, and fireweed.  An amazing range of color in these kaleidoscopes!  I also caught some beautiful evening light on some of the Lubec Landmark buildings the other evening so I will do kaleidoscopes of some buildings which sit in the tidal waters as well for this posting.

Now for the buildings!