Thursday, September 01, 2016

Endless Summer....

I have let the entire spring and summer go by without posting. I took a hiatus from my work-a-holic self by giving myself permission to let some things go. It has been a slower summer than most, full of swimming, travel, grandchildren, and art. 

I am currently in Clarksville Tennessee, the 5th largest city of the state. It is military land here, as Fort Campbell, home of the 101st airborne division, is a mere 10 miles away. You would never know summer is on its way out in this part of the world.  The sun shines plenty hot here, the pool temps are in the mid 80's , and thunderstorms pop up out of nowhere.  It is also in tornado ally, though I can not speak of this first hand. It is mostly flat, and full of strip malls with shops that come and go. Pawn shops. Porn shops. Fast foods. Drive thrus. There is even a drive thru for cigarettes and beer. 

 I flew here from NY to help my daughter with her two children as the third, the toddler, is in the  hospital following surgery.   School starts earlier here, and  I am alone during the day save for the cats and dogs. I am without a car, which is OK as I don't feel like I am missing much. It forces me to just be - and I spend my day cleaning, texting friends, making small watercolor paintings, playing games on my phone. 

This morning it was hot by 10:30, hot enough to swim, but not the oppressive heat of mid day. A friend of Megan's bought me a pool float, so I blew it up, and headed out for a mini adventure.  Ah, the joy of a swim alone. I lay upon the aqua green float, eyes closed, letting the invisible current from the pump take me for a ride around the pool.  When did I last give myself the gift of a embryonic float -  to go to a meditative state, letting my senses tune into the smell of plastic and moved grass, feel sensations on my skin- a fly, the temperature on my skin changing with the journey of clouds across the sun, listen to dogs barking, large and small.  I drifted in the zone between waking and sleeping, lulled by the heat and the buzzing from the sounds of an insect I do not know and lack of good sleep in my own bed. 

Apollos's barking snaps me out of this reverie, and I must get out before I get a sunburn. 

We still have three more weeks of "summer".  When I return home to the Hudson Valley next week it will be cooler than here, the water losing its daytime warmth with the cool nights. The tomatoes are slowing down and the greens revving up for one more blast of generosity from the garden.

2016 was a very good year. I experienced summer - a summer that I remember as a child. Being with my grandchildren has rekindled such memories, and as this summer fades, plans for next summer will begin to brew. 

Here's to celebrating every last golden drop! 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

There's No Place Like Home

I have been out of my Rhinebeck Studio since the end of February.  I moved of all remaining items, loading up the Passat with as much as I could,  which had to find a home in my already filled studio and house.  I did it without so much as a look back. It was a good experience, but not it is time to move forward.

March was two rounds of NYS sales tax, and our personal and business income tax. I have yet to figure out a way to make this less painful.

Walks and adventures were limited to paved areas, as we discovered that the multiple periods of thawing and freezing created areas of mud that had the ability to suck off your shoes. One wander at Poet's walk left us muddy up to our knees. So we cut back on the roads less traveled for a bit. Plenty of time for that.

Early April bought a trip to southern California with my walking partner, but I discovered that the song lied, as it was cold and rainy half of our trip. I had underpacked, and wore the same layers of clothes that I had bought for "cool evenings" nearly every day.  We were 2 blocks from Redondo Beach, and did get to actually sit on the beach two afternoons. But not in bathing suits. In spite of poor weather, we got around - on foot, and by car when Jane wasn't working. It was a week of no figures, and only walks/good food/sight seeing, and old high school friends. It was a lovely week and hope to make a yearly trek out to the west coast for fun and sun. We found a 1910 bungalow to share that is quiet, a lovely neighborhood, and a home away from home. I travel well with Meredith, and that is no small feat to find a good travel partner. You all know--especially if you have ever had the opposite experience!

After a heinous 27 hour trip from LAX to Albany, I came home with a flu that had knocked me on my ass. It's been nearly 10 days and I am still recovering. At 58, I can not just "bounce back" like I used to, and am thankful for not having to write sub plans. I spent many days in bed, entertained by a visit from Julie, and a binge watch of the last season of Downton Abby with her. It may have been one of the most fun sick times I have had in my life EVER.

So now it is the end of April. I am home nearly every day. I have spent 25 years of my life yearning for this period of domesticity, art, tending the garden, cooking,  nurturing and tending to myself. So much of me was spent - I nearly typed "lost" - but it is never lost if you are giving love to others, to dedicating my life to everyone and everything else. I have settled in rather quickly to tending to myself, and sharing some of that with my life mate Larry. I open my date book each week to make sure I keep lots of time for me open, to have adventures, make art, and do things that excite and inspire me. I feel privileged that one more time, I can reinvent myself - and this time, to create the life I have always dreamed of. If you had told me this even 5 months ago, I would have laughed- but this time I think I've got it!

Photos of my life. Surrounded by shabby chic, books, art, what could be better?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Behind the Ropes

 Clermont from the woods.

 Barn on the property

 Amtrack heading north

 Ice Heaves on the Hudson in Tivoli

 My adventure partner bought tickets for this weekend's "Behind the Ropes" tour at Clermont State Historic site. Normally the house is closed for the winter, but they had a new fund raiser which opened it up for the weekend, so that one could tour rooms without the ropes, and see some of the decorative objects up close!

I have gone to Clermont many times over the years; the fields offer acres upon which to picnic, paint, or play. The front lawn of the house is often set up for croquet. I have visited the house, mainly back when it was free; now you have to pay to park and stroll the grounds during peak tourist season. But I don't mind, because the money helps keep these historic sites open.

Because it is a state site, no photographs are allowed inside the house. The interior is the most interesting thing about this house, which was built in 1740,  burned by the British in 1777, and rebuilt using the same foundation and two of the walls. It went through many styles of decorative fashion, and in the 1930s the family departed from the clutter of the Victorian era and hearkened back to the Colonial/Federal periods.

After the tour, we walked/hiked on old trails, and through the woods and fields that ran besides the Hudson River and the railroad. On the way home, I drove to Tivoli, down to the river, and carefully crossed the double set of Amtrack railroad tracks, to the ice jams on the river.

It was a day of history, art, exercise and mud - which is unusual for the time of year when the ground is usually covered with snow and frozen.  It was a sensory experience, and I was thrilled to spend my Sunday there.

This winter I have toured and hiked the Vanderbilt, Roosevelt, and Wilderstein estates, Mills Mansion, Clermont, and Olana. They offer fascinating tours, and miles of trails to hike. I am compiling my list of what is next- The Martin Van Buren House, Locust Grove, Kykuit,  Bannerman Castle,Boscobel, Lyndhurst...the list goes on. SO much richness in the Hudson Valley!