Saturday, March 4, 2017

Coming Back

This morning I'm honking into my Kleenex, barking out ragged coughs, and slouching around the house in my wooly socks and slippers.  And the thing is, I'm feeling much better.

What is it about taking a nice winter vacation?  Why can't I just pack my bag, go have fun, and be done with it?  Why must I be a magnet for other people's viruses?  It happened last year in Mexico, and this year it happened again, after our cruise into the eastern Caribbean.  I'm not sure If I was infected by our chatty team trivia players from Memphis, or from one of the many coughing and sneezing fellow travelers in the Fort Lauderdale airport, or even from other human sardines on the airplanes.  It's a mystery.

It doesn't matter.  Colds happen.  And they spread.  Now my dear husband is sneezing and coughing and stretched out full length on the sofa.  I used up all the cough medicine, so I need to go out and buy some for him.

But back to the trip.  It was good.  Windy, but good.  This was our sixth Holland America cruise, this time from Fort Lauderdale to Aruba, Curacao, the Panama Canal, and Costa Rica.  We were supposed to have a day at Half Moon Cay, but there were 40 mph winds and high seas, such that the ship could not safely tender in, so we had an extra day at sea. Oh well. The cruise accomplished our greatest winter goal, which was to warm up and to see green. 

What I like best about cruising - coffee delivered to our cabin in the morning and then sitting on the little verandah to drink it,  the incredibly pleasant staff, walking around the navigation deck looking at other passengers and whatever else is out there in the sea (other ships, islands, flying fish), playing trivia in the Crows Nest, cocktails in the Crows Nest, catching some sunshine, meeting interesting people from around the world, seeing new places and wild creatures. Seeing masses of Pepto-Bismol colored flamingos standing in a salt flat was a wonderful surprise. I also enjoy having time to read.  This time I plowed through three enjoyable books: Life after Life; Life Itself; and Miss Hargreaves.

Things I don't especially like - worrying about how the cat is doing back home, sleeping in a strange bed, constant time zone changes, constant commercials for spa services and consumer goods, clueless people in the buffet lines, loud music piped into every public space, toxic individuals at dinner, the mild vertigo I get from the rocking of the ship, getting there and getting home again.

Anyway, I took a few photos, some of which follow.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

A Month Off

I see that I have not posted for an entire month.  In fact, while I have not been doing any painting for portrait work, just some sketching, I have been busy with other pursuits.

At the beginning of the month we spent a week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. We've traveled there several times, because we crave sunshine during gloomy January, and for the whales in Banderas Bay,  for the interesting art galleries and for the food. It is also fine to be able to walk outside without bundling up for the cold or worrying about slipping on ice. 

This time we made it a priority to try new places to eat, a little off the beaten path.  I found myself falling in love with all sorts of tacos, pork carnitas, fish, barbeque shrimp.  All were delicious.

We've been back for a while now , and the sun already feels like it was long ago.  I've been busy with mundane things since we returned - replacing my nearly dead iMac and printer, figuring out how to use the new equipment, and purging parts of my wardrobe that no longer fit or are useful. 

What follows is a handful of photos from the trip to Mexico.  Maybe I can figure out a way to incorporate some of them into paintings.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Colored Pencil Portrait - Nadya

8x10 inches, colored pencil on tan notebook paper

I completed this portrait of Nadya, a woman I have never met, but is a fellow member of Julia Kay's Portrait Party, before Christmas. I like it well enough, though I wish I had done a better job of differentiating the dark tones of her shirt from the dark background.  I kept layering, and I may have gone one step too far.  Still, I think it captures her graceful appearance.

I turn sixty-six today, and am grateful to be relatively healthy and able to pursue my interests, such a local history and my art.  I look my age, which is startling every morning when I stand in front of the bathroom mirror to brush my teeth.  I have unruly salt and pepper hair, smile and frown lines galore, and a rounder figure than I care to think about very deeply.  Still, in my mind, I am more like, say, forty-five.  There is a disconnect between how I think of myself, and how I see myself in the mirror, and indeed how younger people treat me.  This sort of thing hit home at the annual family get-together at Christmas time.  I now am the oldest person in the room, except for my husband and brother-in-law, who only are older by three months.  I occupy the position my grandmother once held, a little more dressed up than the younger relatives, a little overwhelmed by overly excited little ones, a little tired and ready to head back home to rest. 

I have never liked the timing of my birthday, falling as it does between Christmas and New Year.  I always resented it a little when birthday presents came in Christmas wrapping paper, and always had to do with winter clothing.  This time of year everyone is busy, and a little over-fed, so a birthday like mine gets little notice. Of course these days people think it's silly for a retired gray haired woman to even pay much attention to birthdays.  Nevertheless, I took myself out for an Egg McMuffin this morning, and tonight we're planning to get a nice meal out, possibly featuring a martini.  My dear aunt sent me a pretty birthday card (such a rare thing these days), some long time friends and left a happy birthday song on voicemail, and my Facebook friends have been checking in with greetings, so the day has not gone unnoticed.

It's good to find the sunshine wherever you can.