Battenkill in the Shoulder

 

Oil on Canvas, 8″x10″, $125

Normally by this time of year, peak foliage has come and gone. It’s been wet in southern Vermont for much of October, so the colors haven’t been magnificent, when they’ve been dramatic, it’s been too yucky out to really appreciate them.

October’s half over now, and the mountains by my favorite field near the Battenkill are nearly naked as Vermont goes into that quiet shoulder season between summer and foliage tourism and skiing. this year, we are getting a little gift in the quiet. The trees at some of the lower elevations are still relatively clothed, and what is left is nothing short of glorious.

Prints and originals (when still available), can be purchased on Etsy here.

Did Someone Say Pumpkin Spice?

‘‘Tis the Season, Oil, 6″x6″ – SOLD

So, I know it’s almost midnight and still over 70° in Vermont and the first week of September (when it’s supposed to be 70 during the day), but somebody at the country store said the magic words, “Pumpkin Spice,” and it was time to take a whack at painting some foliage.

Prints can be purchased on Etsy here.. 

Authentically Unconflicted

You’re It, Watercolor, 9×12 – SOLD

Prints can be purchased on Etsy here.

I started this blog about 6 years ago as an assignment for a writing workshop. It started as a way to share writing and drawings and evolved into a search for an authentic life that still continues.

I spend the majority of my time working at home. Most days, the only people I see are the Big Guy and 17-year-old Thing1 and 11-year-old Thing2. Our family conversations are hardly devoid of any meaning, but tend to focus on “what’s for dinner?“ and “can you pick up the kids?“

The only other regular conversation I have is with my blog. It has helped me deal honestly with bipolar disorder and embrace the dinner table stories that I once pooh-poohed. Over the years, however, that conversation has also led me to question if I was living in my truth and how to get to a place where I could.

One of the truths I discovered over the last few years is that I need to write and draw. When my life gets too congested to allow for a regular time for art, I have resented it.

Last fall, I reorganized my life to carve out time for creativity while building a new career that served the greater good. I started working weekends so I could go back to school, temporarily bowing out of a weekend writing class that had helped keep the spark lit for several years.

Murphy’s Law, however, is still in effect. My precise work schedule surrendered to the chaos of the holiday shopping season. And the bottom dropped out for Thing1.

Thing1 was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder a year earlier. Despite promising early results with medication and severe diet changes, Thing1’s body began shutting down a few days after Christmas. It was barely a week into winter when, knowing which battle mattered most, I withdrew from classes.

Thing1 was hospitalized near the end of January for assessment and treatment. As he lay in recovery after a procedure, I struggled not to cry as his doctor told us that his illness was quite severe and laid out his options. Some required injections or infusions. All of them carried a risk of lymphoma, one of them fatal, especially in young men.

When we got him home, we focused on getting him back to ‘normal’ but quickly realized ‘normal’, like much in life, is an ever-moving goal post. We worked with the school to make sure he stayed on track. We worked with doctors to get him through flu season, keeping them on speed dial through nervous nights.

And, when time permitted and sanity demanded, I blogged.

I still get weepy at night in bed when everyone’s asleep or in the car when no one’s around, even though I know we’re incredibly lucky. Every time I pick up a prescription with an $800 copay that’s been covered by my insurance from work, I know we could also be sitting at our round kitchen table trying to find things to sell to pay for each drug or worrying about bankruptcy.

Long before this blog reignited my creative spark, Thing1 was teaching me patience and determination as I had never understood them before. The self-doubting, self-hating person I had once been before his birth was dissolved in the breast milk and tossed out with a meconium-filled diaper, leaving only Thing1’s mom who had happily reorganized her entire life around his needs.

So when my college sent out spring registration notifications, I knew I would not be signing up. I also knew I will be carving out creative time around my current career until I’m sure Thing1 can fully stand on his own and obtain his own sufficient insurance,

And that’s okay because there are two truths in my life. And, as Darth Vader once said to his offspring, “There is no conflict”. Not for me.

My truth is that creativity matters to me. My bigger truth and the key to living an authentic life for me is that without being true to Thing1 (and now Thing2), I don’t know that anything could keep that creative spark lit.

Here and Now

 

Watercolor Sketch, 5×7, SOLD

 

We’re vacationing this week in southwestern Michigan along the great lake. I had big dreams of spending the week painting the water and the weather which never fail to inspire.
Thing2, however, was also inspired. The absence of glowing screens combined with an abundance of immediate and extended family helped Thing2 rediscover the joy of corralling parents and grandparents into card games and rounds of Monopoly highlighted by rules he makes up as he goes along.
When we finally got down to the beach, I was happy just to soak up the surroundings. I did a few quick studies and photos of things that may become paintings later. I’m starting to think, though, that the most important part of painting the landscape may be actually experiencing it — and the rest of life — while you’re in it.

Thing2 seems to agree.

Prints can be purchased on Etsy here.

Bouquet of Blueberries

Prints can be purchased on Etsy here.

This is a bouquet of blueberries I painted for my mom who is in the hospital right now. She should’ve gone to the blueberry Festival in South Haven Michigan last weekend, but instead she went to the ER.

She’s on the mend now, but I think the scariest moment for me in our relationship was Saturday night to say she was going in for surgery. She sound worried, and she never sounds worried. I’ve watched her merrily making blueberry muffins with a waterspout making a beeline for her kitchen and ask if anyone wanted butter at the table for them, so when she was worried, I was worried.

I’m a mom, but worrying about my mom made me feel like I was five again. So, when the person who taught me everything I know about mothering and unconditional love got sick, I did what I would’ve done when I was five. I made her something.

We will be together in a few days, and I’ll give her as big hug as possible. For now, it really is the positive thought that counts.