Archive for August, 2013


Friday, August 30th, 2013

Hi dear friends. What a great few days we have had in Rochester Minnesota. We had a tour to Lanesboro (a small art community) and 4 Daughters Winery with lunch.  The vineyard broke up the corn plots.  With the miracle of modern science, farmers are able to grow vines that withstand winters of 20 to 40 degrees below zero.  Next day we went on a tour of a nearby Amish community and a farm. I am so spoiled!  The farmer drew us into the barn to talk about livestock, and it was all I could do to listen and look interested as I dodged cowpies and flies and tried to breathe! Life lived simply is hard. … The Amish youngsters and women live bare footed, with hats and long sleeved blouses, they don’t seem to notice the smell of manure or the flies. The children seem small to me… we talked to two 14 year old boys who are finished with school and already working the fields and work shops. They seemed so small, but the men are bigger.  The farm wife cooked a meal for us and fed about 60 sailors and brides lunch in her front yard under trees. She fed us full and then brought out 5 kinds of dessert and home made ice cream!  Some of the women and I noticed her feet and ankles (we would have our mothers in the emergency room due to the purple veins standing out on her lower legs)… then my cohort reminded me she had probably had 14 children and maybe was in her late 50s…  yikes are we spoiled. We visited a wheelwright and buggy maker, and all I can say is God bless them for trying to live a simple life so as to be closer to God.  It got hot and we were overcome (96 degrees).  That evening Chuck and I walked through a street festival where he bought me two hand made ceramic angels and a beautiful cross. With a cold beer (ice in mine) we walked over to Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial for the Tolling of the Boats. We looked at the Honor Bell that Rochester women have refitted and carry around Minnesota to memorial and patriotic celebrations and then settled in to remember 65 lost boats that are considered to be on eternal patrol. Submarines represent about 1 1/2 percent of the total Naval force, but percentage wise they lost more boats while sinking great quantities of enemy vessels. A young lady from the National Eagle Center in Wabasha, Minnesota on the Mississippi led the flags in carrying a large bald eagle on her arm. The ceremony was prayer, the National Anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance and the naming of the boats and bell tolling with each name and the number of men lost. We closed with prayer and Taps. Today (Friday) I was able to get to Mass again and then we jumped on a bus and went to the National Eagle Center and then to a paddle boat ride on a big lake in the middle of the Mississippi River. Dave called to say the Univeristy of Miami played a football game while we were out, and … well I hope they won. Tomorrow I might get up to the Franciscan sisters retreat center with some ladies. I slipped into the ladies luncheon after Mass and listened to a sister of 60 years in the convent talk about “Family.” Basically her message to us is try to create a space in life in which we live the Gospel. Accept one another in gladness (conscious of our own weakness and need for healing - welcome others). Give praise to God by being conscious of the gifts of the earth (she tends bees and gardens and helps with causes such as defense of women against sexual and labor slavery). Strive to bring about change for the good. How do we do good things? Every day, receive the day and bring about good. Keep faith growing and love flowing.  So what better way to close this night?  God bless you dear readers.

Rochester, Mayo Clinics

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

When we pulled into Rochester, I felt like it was the Jackson Memorial Hospital, Univ of Miami, Bascom Palmer hospital complex in Miami, but ever so much cleaner and with well thought out “subways” that connect parking to buildings and gardens. This morning (Tuesday) I took up a map and walked all over the underground system, coming out occasionally to visit gardens. Found St John the Evangelist church which has a beautiful garden with a big statue of an angel (I think it is Michael) holding a baby.  We ate breakfast with old friends and we have tours on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  The weather will be hot with heat warnings but I can stay underground except when on tours.  We have a big peace garden right next to the hotel that I have to go out and explore yet… God bless you!

Clear Lake to Rochester (Mn)

Monday, August 26th, 2013

A glance back at the week past:  We took the boat out every lunch time and had a meal at one of the local places on the lake. We would sit just like we do in Key West and people/ duck/ bird watch and eat. I packed most of the food up for a 7pm snack. I noted the following:  ”Mother Nature is having a great day. The lake is calm and serene. I watched a large gaggle of birds (geese?) fly in formation. The leaders dropped back, others took their place and the entire herd changed formation and reemerged as the V they are supposed to fly in.”  We had lazy days in Clear Lake… When our friends Tim and Kyla were with us I walked the dog who is very cute and loves Chuck who gave the dog too many treats!!!!   I went to Mass at 8:30 am every day and on Friday, Mass was at a care center where I met some lovely people. One lady said she wasn’t sick, just old. She looked wonderful!  After Mass, routine was drink coffee and paint, work on a puzzle (we completed 500 and 1000 piece puzzles), read, whatever. The hot water heater misbehaved and our friend Tim called the building manager and a plumber so we hosted them and they worked very efficiently.  In Miami and the Keys, our friend Dave showed Chuck how to reboot the hot water heater, but this one had been rebooted a lot and it was ready to be replaced.  It was replaced because it was old.  Made me think of what we do in our throw away society… throw away the old… never mind; don’t go there!   My knees have been hurting with a lot of walking so I had to give up long walks, I hope temporarily. Several people have told me about people who have had knees replaced in their early 60s and even sooner.  I am NOT looking forward to that even though the orthopedic surgeon I saw in January is cute… I’m just not looking forward to the big cut and the pain. I loosened up leg muscles with Kyla who was going for a run, and then I took a long walk, and my knees didn’t hurt afterwards.  I will try to keep exercising, but  I might have to trust the wisdom of the surgeon who told me my knees are bad. Like the hot water heater, old knees that get cranky get thrown out because they’re old. On Monday morning (August 26th) we packed up and loaded the van for the less than 2 hour drive to Rochester.  Driving into the hotel was like driving into Jackson Memorial hospital…  The convention hotel is directly across the street from Mayo treatment center. There are many hospitals and 2 churches in walking distance (St John Evangelist and St Francis of Assisi). I will be able to go to daily Mass tomorrow and get a bulletin and schedule.  Also there will be street market and festival on Thursday.  We brought our chairs.  We are taking 2 guys out for dinner whom we made friends with at past conventions and we look forward to sharing old stories!  Have a wonderful week. God bless you!

Beer’s good. Boat starts!

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Beer’s good. Boat starts. Mother Nature seems a little iffy…. she would like to rain, but I think she’s holding out.  Chuck and I are sitting in a quiet corner of PM Park where we can get a burger and a beer in air conditioned comfort with WiFi… and I was watching the children playing outside… then the food arrived at the outside table where their Moms were sitting and the children ran in from many corners to eat. 2 Moms and about 6 children.  Then it apparently started sprinkling and in they came. How cute.  Little children on vacation. Chuck reminded me of the story telling we heard in Santa Fe where the giant said: ”I think I want to eat little children!”  Naughtiness abounds. I think Chuck and I need adult supervision.  We have somewhat planned our trip east after our week in Rochester… will reveal more later.  God bless you!

Center of America… Beef and corn!

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Thursday we left our haven with Christy in Denver where the 10+ pound cat jumped up on our bed with a big woomp and if it was unlucky enough to get near Susie’s feet, was unceremoniously kicked off to a loud lummmmpf. Mostly the cat slept on the floor or in our suitcases, but it did spend some time at our feet which was fun.  We packed after a week at Christy’s and the cat was inconsolable, slipping into every open suitcase, hiding under piles of dirty laundry, watching very closely if the garage door got opened… OK so we said “we’ll take you with us.” Christy said we couldn’t take the cat… We drove to Lincoln,  Nebraska, and I was really impressed (as I usually am when we drive across America)… As we left Denver behind us, the mountains disappeared and the plains began.  Corn fields and cows abound and not much else.  When we stopped for gas, there was nothing but the gas station… It felt a little odd. 7 hours of corn fields and nothing else.  We drove into Lincoln which is the home of the big red “N”… The Nebraska Cornhuskers.  We drove through town and saw the University and several concert halls, ate dinner, and then off to bed.  We continued to drive on route 80 which is an interstate that takes the course of the old pony express riders’ trails… a straight line across the plains into Des Moines. Route 80 continues east, but we turned north and headed up to Clear Lake where we are right now (Friday evening)!  Basking in middle America sunlight and looking out over the big lake in the town where the music died (Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper performed their last concert here at the Surf Ballroom and then crashed).  We will launch the boat and go to dinner when Tim arrives. All is well. Saturday passed with eating sweet corn and beef and boating… and a vigil Mass at St Patrick church. …. Sunday meanders to a close as people leave the lake to go back home wherever that is.  I can drive easily to the small Catholic Church in town where I can go when they have daily Mass (Tuesday, Wed, Thursday).  We take the boat across the lake to town and the VFW (where I will send this message via Wi Fi next time we go) and we ear sweet corn and burgers or go to one of the several lake side eateries… like pubs where we can catch a picnic table and watch sunset.  Last night sunset was spectacular. The moon is half full and a giant planet hangs in the west after sunset. I’m thinking Saturn, Kyla thought it was Mars…    We’re also working on a puzzle of Key West that Tim and Kyla graciously provided. I don’t have internet access here at the lake and we might have to go across the lake into town to find a wi fi spot … look for me to emerge every once in a while with tales of the lake. God bless you.   Ps: Monday morning, Tim and Kyla are back in Des Moines (with Tim working to pay our social security) and we woke up to a little cloudy and 60 degrees.  Chuck chose to lounge and read and drink coffee while I took off to the north around the lake… I only walked for about a mile (21 minutes) before turning back, and it was all wonderful… It’s like Big Pine Key’s cousin… walk along the lake and the shore across the way looks like an island. Houses look over the lake and it’s like we’re home on Big Pine / Doctor’s Arm /Coral Way.  The “only difference” is this place will be covered with 5 feet of snow come November. They melt out around May and start really boating in June, and close up the sidewalks in September. One of many good parts about visiting at this time of year is the sales in the small shops that will close for the winter in Sept.  It warmed up and we launched the boat and came over to town to hang out in the VFW for the beer and WI FI.  It’s windy and they don’t have cleats on the town dock, so Chuck was a little concerned about leaving the boat… …. But we’ll leave here and go back on the lake to an outdoor restaurant to eat, read and paint..   Love to you, God bless you.

Painting running water in dry creek

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

We’re staying in a beautiful home in Denver that has a little creek running behind the house. So far on walks we’ve found 2 water falls over rocks… the name of the creek is Little Dry Creek. It is neither little nor dry!  There are bunnies in the yard, but I don’t try to paint them (here one minute… gone the next).  Today I let Chuck off the hook and I went to the Denver Botanical Gardens with my hostess Christy’s Mom Sue.  Chuck got a hair cut and did a little shopping. The Botanical Gardens were wonderful (and free due to my Fairchild Tropical Gardens membership). I ate a wonderful meal with Sue that will last me until tomorrow! Great weather, beautiful sunshine with the Rocky Mountains in the background.  Can’t complain.  Mike asked if I really didn’t like Independence pass!  No Mike I didn’t.  If there is a fear of edges… “edgerophobia” … Fear of falling off edges, then I have it. Today when Sue showed me her condo on the 15th floor we went to the balcony edge and I could feel the floor moving…. a little vertigo anyone? I don’t think we’ll see any more mountains as we head east on Thursday morning. We’ll sleep in Lincoln Nebraska and arrive at our next vacation spot in Clear Lake Iowa on Friday (Clear Lake is a big lake in the middle of northern Iowa and is the home of the big Bopper’s and Buddy Holly’s last concert).  We’ll boat and walk until we go off to the convention in Rochester Minnesota. Having a wonderful summer.  Hope you are well. Love! Sue

Dinner prep…

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Back in Denver! We tried to get me to “cheater Mass” and roared into All Souls Catholic church here near Christy’s at 2 minutes to 5.  Would have been good except Mass started at 4:30… So came on to Christy’s to be embraced by the smells of a wonderful Sesame Chicken with bok choy and other wonders being prepared for us. Christy’s Mom and sister Linda will be joining us and we dearly miss Kathy, the third sister. We have now delivered and helped hang as much Denver/Aspen art as possible and next Wednesday will turn eastward again to deliver art at Clear Lake, Iowa.  I will take Chuck for walks in Denver parks and maybe leave him to read while I visit the botanical gardens.. or maybe drag him along!  For now dear friends and family. I lift a glass and say, “Thanks be to God we made it safe from the mountains!” I welcome the plains!  Well amazing amazing! Kathy’s child Julia just walked in with her grandmother, and Julia is pregnant!  So we will have a wonderful celebration dinner.  Love Susie

Independence Pass to Aspen

Saturday, August 10th, 2013

Christy gave us directions from Denver to Aspen and then we turned on the GPS. Both started out the same… then the GPS turned us off the expressway and onto the road that takes us near the highest peak in Colorado (14433 ft).  I have nightmares about rides like that.  Independence Pass is closed during the winter, and is a narrow two lane road with no guardrails.  Once you’re on it, you don’t really have a way off especially if you’re in a big van like we have.  At a certain point I was crying because if you have ever gone down into a pit, or over a super narrow road with your side pressed to the mountain, you realize that you have to climb back out or come back on that road with your side to the … edge.  I was leaning toward the mountain (as if that would help) and whimpering thinking of helicopter or airplane from Aspen back to Denver. The road to the Monastery was bad, but I felt I was on a pilgrimage and therefore protected from falling over the edge…   I finally had the presence of mind to blow my nose and find the map of Colorado.  I found Denver and found where the GPS directed us over a tiny thin black squiggly line to Aspen and discovered that there is a nice easy way out that I am sure Christy intended for us to come in on.  That actually made me feel better, but when we finally descended into Aspen and took a walk, I couldn’t enjoy it.  Dinner was lovely and then we had lots of talk with Glenn to whom we delivered the last of the art. He has walked the Camino through the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in Spain and will be spending 2 months there in a few weeks. Bed was nice in a cool dark room.  They don’t need air conditioning here with 60 degree nights. This morning Chuck and I walked into town (about 4 blocks over a little creek) and I drank mocha lattes and strolled through the roadside market, purchased wine, salmon, tomatoes, bread, mountain honey, and came back to help Glenn hang the art. While the boys hang giant paintings (and tried to hang a big heavy mirror over the fire place) I walked about outside taking photos of the green and lush ski runs, flowers, rocks, and trees. We are done now so I think we are going to head back to Denver…  God bless you!

Arrived in Denver

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

The first stage of our trip is over. We left Taos this morning and spent some harrowing time in the mountains… then caught the interstate to Denver. Unloaded the van with some paintings into Kathy Paparelli’s sister Christy’s house and settled in with cat in lap to check the bank books, pay bills, drink wine, and watch bunnies in the back yard. All is well. I expect to be writing all the time I am here as I proposed a book on the Psalms to my current publisher (23rd Publications).  If they don’t take the proposal (they are reviewing tomorrow on our 43rd wedding anniversary)… I’ll write it anyway and propose elsewhere.  I’d like them to take it as they did a great job on my first book.  Chuck will be driving to Aspen with Christy with some paintings on Friday. I’ll keep you posted! God bless you!

What are the Odds?

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

What are the odds that at a small outdoor café (6 tables) in Santa Fe, New Mexico three adjacent tables would have submarine sailors?  I have been wearing my ball cap that I got two conventions ago. It reads USS Quillback, SS424. One guy sat down and said “I was on the Trout before I went nuc.” Immediately the guy at the next table chimed in with the names of his subs and the banter began. Chuck’s reply was “I was on a real sub, not a floating hotel” (which is what diesel boat men call nuclear subs.) We shared stories over good café food and amongst beautiful flowers for an hour before everyone peeled off one to Denver, one to Taos, and Chuck and me to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadaloupe. Let me return to the morning… Chuck dropped me off at the Georgia O’Keeffe museum at 10am where I broused the exhibit and gift store while waiting for my docent tour at 10:30.  Our tour guide was a retired lawyer who loves art…  He talked all about O’Keeffe and her work. She lived 97 years and painted until 2 years before her death.  He then took me around to show me some paintings. In all I was there for 2 hours of bliss. Then I went with Chuck to the Monk’s store (we’ve been drinking Monk’s ale and we’ll go up to the Monastery tomorrow). and then I went to find the oldest church San Miguel (Saint Michael the Archangel) where I enjoyed a nice talk with the volunteer on duty about the church and Catholicism (no matter where I am in the world, a Catholic church is always the same!).  I found Chuck seated at the cafe when I exited!  the rest is history… After a full day of visiting museums and churches we went to the Town Plaza and sat in our chairs with wine to listen to 3 hours of country music and watch the 2 stepping dancers. What fun. Our “next chair neighbors” had a wonderful sweet dog who kept looking for popcorn scraps that kids dropped.  He was mostly sleeping but when the crowd would give a rousing applause, he would bark!  To bed to sleep to get ready for the morrow’s road trip.    Tuesday morning we headed for Abiquiu, the home of Georgia O’Keeffe. We began to see the amazing colored hills and flat tops and just amazing beauty that made O’Keeffe love the Abiquiu area of New Mexico.  “Just up the road” is the monastery. We found the sign for the Monastery and turned left… 13 miles ahead. Chuck said, “are you sure you want to go there” He doesn’t like to go “off path” for 13 miles in and then 13 miles back out. “Yes.”  OK. Suddenly, within 100 yards, the paved road stopped. Do you know the terms washboard and ruts? My tummy sank, 13 miles of this. It got worse. As we climbed into the desert the dirt road narrowed and narrowed some more. The edge became a cliff and Chuck kept driving on. “It’s like a pilgrimage,” I said. Later Chuck told me that if a tire went into the rut at the side of the road, or off the road as the van occasionally skittered, we couldn’t get out. Driving a big 2 wheel drive van loaded with art over that road wasn’t the safest (or smartest). At each mile marker I’d say, “5; only 8 to go.” Going in was the slowest longest ride I’ve ever taken. At one point when we got to a gorge and looked down at the flowing water - at the 7 mile marker “only 6 miles to go” I was sure we might not make it. “This is worse than the road to Hana.” Chuck said “Croage Patrick where pilgrims crawl up a mountain but not in a big van loaded with art.” Or it’s like the ungraded road he and Dick used to use to get to the hunting site. After an hour of that, I saw the out buildings and a parking site. “All cars park here” the sign said.  Meanwhile I wanted to get to a 1pm service called Sext when the Monks chant the liturgy of the hours.  It was 12:40 and I have a bum knee that hasn’t been very happy with all the walking we’ve been doing. Chuck said “I’ll drop you off.” We climbed on now gravel and rock and Chuck said, “Get out, we’re sinking!” I left him to get back down to the parking lot… I went into a beautiful silent chapel with about 15 “civilians” and then the Monks started coming in. We chanted the prayers and the monk master took the civilians off and so I went into the meditation garden and the little shop. With a silent Monk praying nearby, I found some books like I always do. You write down what you want and put credit card #s on a sheet of paper and put it in a basket…   I’ve been trying to cut back on buying books, but I just can’t resist the books here in New Mexico. Back down to the van and I found Chuck happy and reading. Only 13 miles to get out of there.  With approximately 10 miles to go, we stopped on the way out to talk to a Park Ranger (it is the Sierra National Forest) he said, “OH you shouldn’t have any trouble, unless it rains…” We were looking at the darkest sky and the wind was rising. I took about a million pictures and we did stop to look at the running water in the gorge. With only 5 miles to go it rained, but Chuck was able to go a little faster after we crowded over to the side to let a road grader go through. On to Taos and a beautiful steak dinner with table cloths and wine!  On to Denver this morning.  God bless you

The Cayote and the Skunk

Monday, August 5th, 2013

Our mission in Santa Fe: see, taste, absorb. Sunday was a beautiful day. There was a good breeze and clouds by noon that broke the heat spell (100 degrees).  I visited the Loretto church with the spiral staircase that couldn’t be built the way it is… and lasts 100 years later, beautiful and strong. We took a tram tour and visited Canyon Road (all the galleries) and museum hill (Native American museums), then we went to the Loretto Mission and Spa for lunch.  I expected exhorbitant prices, but we drank Monk’s Ale made up in the Monastery and had $15 brunches. Not too bad.  I then went on to The Museum of Indian Women in the Arts and an exhibit of the paintings of Helen Hardin, the middle woman in a family of women artists. Helen’s mother is Pablita Velarde, the first Indian woman to professionally paint for a living. Helen received her mother’s talent and took it to the moon and Helen’s daughter is now preserving the legacy with a gallery and painting career of her own.  They are blessed, beautiful, accomplished women who had to sacrifice to use their talents, but OH how amazing is their work.  We are so conscious of using the term Native American and in Santa Fe, they are called Indian.  We see a lot of wonderful colorful art and dress and jewelry here. I have visited museums, galleries and churches and will do 3 more today (Monday) but again, I’m ahead of myself! After the museum, Chuck and I strolled once again through the Plaza and the last day of the Arts and Crafts Fair then drove up Canyon road to stop occasionally and photograph painted doors and adobe walls and amazing galleries! I saw a sign for Fine Judaic Art and we pulled “down” a hill to a beautiful little museum. The artist is Sara M. Novenson and she has written and illustrated Women of the Bible and the Psalms.  She showed me her work. For example she illustrates the Song of Songs, or Bible story or Psalm and surrounds the painting with script (in Hebrew).  I took her card and information and told her I would like to keep in touch as I too am working on the Psalms and would love to incorporate her work  somehow (vision, illustrations).  I always try to be aware of “angels” who guide me… You never know - her sign was really small and I totally missed it when we drove by on the tour… I was supposed to spot her sign at 5pm as she was closing up. I was supposed to find her. We then climbed back up out of that tiny parking lot (we are in a very big van and it can be cumbersome but gets us around…) We then continued up to find Museum hill to find the Storytelling at the Wheelwright Museum. Well the museum was closed at 5pm but I knew I saw the Storytelling information someplace. So I said, “Let’s just go sit on that bench and you read and I’ll draw for a while” (we had about 1 1/2 hour to “kill”). There are 4 museums up there on the top of a hill - all closed at 5pm.  We sat, and I drew while Chuck read, and then 2 cars pulled in!  A family who came to picnic before the story telling!  Great! Then the wind started blowing and giant black clouds threatened … actually the black clouds and lightening stayed over the mountains. Cars began to arrive and we became a part of America as little children played ball, families settled on blankets, and the Peabodys pulled out chairs and shared wine with a veteran. Chat chat chat and then the story teller started with a story about the Cayote and the Skunk. He went on to tell the legend of an Indian boy whose mother lost him, but the cayote carried him to the deer to be raised.  All the stories had obedient children and the changing of hearts to the good.  Wonderful stories! We then realized we couldn’t find our way back down to the hotel and so used our trusty GPS to get us there. Arrived safe. Today is cool out due to the storms. We’ll visit the Georgia O’Keeffe museum near the Plaza, 2 churches (Guadaloupe and San Miguel - both about 400 years old), and maybe a small Italian restaurant, or some small restaurant about 3pm.  Then at 6pm Music on the Plaza in the bandstand begins. Repeat last night: get out the chairs, jackets and blanket, wine. Ummmmmm. Santa Fe: have I told you lately that I love you?

Bats on the mountain!

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

Dear readers! What a lovely two days we have had here in the West.  First let me tell you about Carlsbad Caverns.  If you haven’t been, or if you are grandparents (Donna and Lee) take the kids, grandkids and head west. I strongly recommend the caverns in Sonora and then Carlsbad Caverns, both a far distance from most of my east coast friends and family, but so impressive.  And to top off a visit to Carlsbad’s King’s Palace and “The Big Room” among others, you get Bats!  During the summer about 1/2 million bats live at Carlsbad in one cave.  So after an impressive cave tour and then an educational talk by the park ranger, 300 people trooped into an outdoor amphitheater and everyone turned off all electrical devices and we became really quiet. Even the babies and small children waited….. and then! out came bats. Now we have done this on our lake with friends Ron and Cindy. So when the bats were coming out in groups of 20s and I was squealing (silently!) Chuck whispered,”Cindy’s is better.” I think it’s because we get wine at Cindy’s while we wait…. And there aren’t 300 people all around. And we don’t have to drive 1/2 hour down the mountain at 9pm… that night we drove on to Artesia, New Mexico and then this morning drove into Santa Fe over desert mesas. Wow is that drive boring!!!! I guess tumbleweed isn’t for me. We got a hotel for 3 nights in Santa Fe for a very reasonable rate and went to the Downtown Plaza where we visited an Arts and Crafts festival and I went to Mass in the San Francisco Cathedral on the plaza. The Cathedral is named for Saint Francis of Assissi.  After Mass we had drinks and snacks and then came back to the room to blog and drink wine and snack.  Tomorrow is a busy day of churches and museums. Chuck loves that!!!!!  Be well dear friends and have a wonderful weekend!  God bless you!

Are we thankful for unsought gifts? Are we aware of them?

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

It’s a long story that generated the title of this piece… I’ll start with when I packed to go to my Mom’s I left a giant pile of stuff on the dining room table for Chuck to pack in the van. Clothes and shoes for northern climates, paints, brushes, books. I only took a small bag to my Mom’s.  The paints are for afternoons spent gazing at skies and mountains, flowers and sunsets, trying to “capture God’s Grandeur” with color. Chuck found a wonderful hard sided “brief case” that I put many selected and beloved paints in so when I open it, I can see all the browns and greens, yellows and pinks, reds, tans, Paine’s gray etc… many rich and varied paint colors collected over the years, gifts from Sarah, Debby’s gift cards to Michael’s, trips with Karla and Mark to “Cheap Joes…” Rich and wonderful colors packed with a few brushes and some note stock paper for painting greeting cards.  Wednesday morning we went to the Observatory and then I settled down on the porch at the Hotel Limpia to paint the mountain view with the Old Texas Inn and some flowering trees in the foreground.  Chuck settled in next to me with a book. Then someone said, “I’m hungry” and I packed the brief case, a bag of waters, cups and paper towels, my phone and drinking water, the easel and watercolor pad and other stuff carried out there. Put it all down to unlock the room door, washed the paint brush, and went to lunch.  Returned to take all the stuff back out to the porch, brush, pad, easel, bag of waters…. Brief case with paint? No… not there.  I haunted the corridors of the little hotel, the porch, the tables and stacks of antique suit cases stacked in corners. Gone. In someone’s trunk headed for Albuquerque or Columbus I guess. Housekeeping didn’t see it and no one turned it in at the desk.  It’s hard to paint with a brush and water.  Mark carries a box the size of a chewing gum wrapper and three colors and he tried to get me to do the same. “Mix your colors,” Mark sagely said.  … I was really sad, but realized I’m supposed to be writing the book I proposed last July 19. So I got out one of the two Bibles I have with me and read and wrote that evening. The next morning (yesterday – Thursday) we drove 4 miles to a Nature preserve and gardens and as Chuck paid our admission, I browsed the 50% off table and found a lovely hand painted journal called Drawn to Nature Through the Journals of Clare Walker Leslie. She is a teacher, artist, and journalist. I was drawn to the cover filled with water color drawings of a bird singing and skies over a farm, a city, and mountains.  Can’t lose for 50% off.  We walked through the desert gardens, chatted with a couple with 2 big lab/other fluffy dog mixes and arrived back at the visitor center needing to sit in the rockers in the breeze and read.  I whipped out my new book and read… “My greatest wish is that your eyes may always be watching nature… ‘Mother Earth, Protect Her, She is Us.’ See. You might say you have no nature around you where you live… Take five minutes. Look up, and enjoy!”   I was a little freaked out as I just wrote something very similar to that when talking about singing the Psalms about God’s glory – “look up and sing!”  Is this lady whose book just fell into my hands from the bottom of a stack of books in a nature center in Fort Davis Texas a soul sister??? Chuck meanwhile looked over and saw me gazing raptly at the mountain in the distance, flowering bush in the foreground, lots of scrub in between, he said, “You need to be painting.” “I have no paints.” “We’ll get some.” A Dollar Store just opened in town. Grand Opening yesterday. We moved from the garden center to the Dollar Store and purchased water colors. Well, if water colors are good enough for 3 people (Mark, Sarah and Janet) who have been trying to get me to use them, and for my new soul sister, Clare Walker Leslie, then I guess they’re good enough for me.  My first painting looks like a 3 year old did it, but I’m going to read the book and occasionally “copy” my new friend to try to learn a wonderful technique, water color painting.   See? Long story!  And once again my brain is all wrinkled up trying to understand if my loss of all that stuff is God’s gift as he tries to get me to try something less burdensome? Something new?  Look up! And enjoy.   We’re up this morning, having moved to the Harvard Hotel just to try the competition (and loved it) and we’re off for Carlsbad Caverns. It’s Friday and we’re on the road again.  Love to you and God bless you and help you to see the gifts he is giving us!