Sunday Morning

This morning I awoke to the sounds of birds and the rustle of leaves in the breeze.  The sunlight was dim through the windows, with hints of blue, presaging an incredible day.  Now the sun is up, and all that seemed promised is true.  New leaves are appearing on the tulip tree and the redbud; the birds are still singing.  Robert Browning wrote, “all’s right with the world.”  On mornings such as this, it is best to believe it, and so I shall.

So, what to do?  We are having family over for Sunday dinner, so there are things to be done around the house, a bit of shopping, a bit of cooking.  It is a simple thing to do – marinated lamb roast, salad, bread or rice or potatoes, tzatziki.  The company is to be enjoyed, and hopefully all invited will be able to join.

Life – and time to finally live it – is grand.  No more “return to work” dates; I choose what to do and when.  The Puritan side of me espouses “pain before pleasure,” meaning, get the unpleasant stuff out of the way ASAP!  That means chores, like cleaning.  I like clean things, but the cleaning process is not exciting – I’d rather be outside digging in the dirt or drawing or reading.  The satisfaction of a chore, to me, is when it is done.  Putting it off dulls the joy in other activities, but as I like an orderly and relatively clean house and studio, it makes sense.  Doing the unpleasant first makes the rest of the day move into infinity.

Yesterday I bought some plants -peppers, alyssum, dianthus.  Bulbs were on sale half price since it is past their season.  Potting soil, too.  Before I start the dinner shopping, but after housework, I shall begin work on my little front yard flower bed.  My gardener worked in some soil for me, and now I have some ideas as to what I am going to do with it.  Its a sunny – shady area as it faces west, with the house to the east.  Afternoons find it quite shady, and as summer comes along, I think it gets shady earlier.  Alyssum and dianthus will be along the outer borders of the plot – see below – bulbs sporadically distributed depending on their sun requirements – and the peppers will be placed in their own pots out on the sunny southern patio (aka “the dog-free zone” or the “DFZ”!)

Along with gardening, planning for my next painting is on the way.  I have been following various YouTube painters – as you have seen in earlier posts – but I have also been working my way through a book on perspective and contemplating spartan photography.  (Huh?  Wuzzat?)

And, Josh and I spent 3 days in San Diego, which was something wonderful to do – get away from it all to enjoy coming back to it all!


The First Day of Retirement

Well, what better day to retire than April Fool’s Day?  I thought it was a great idea, so at the end of January I submitted my paperwork, and today I get paid to do nothing related to work.  Social security, my pension, and Medicare are all lined up.  And now, my new life begins!

Today, I was taken out to lunch to celebrate!  I also have been deciding a “class” I want to take.  I’ve decided to study the exercises in a book on perspective for painters, so it covers not just the vanishing point varieties (one, two, and three dot), but also perspective based on colors.  Tomorrow, I begin!

Besides studying perspective, I have also been painting and drawing and sewing and making pictures with both digital and film cameras.  I finished my little quilt.  I’ve scanned photos and edited them.  I have been out to the local botanical garden and begun a sketchbook about the garden in spring.  Visiting family and friends and doing fun things is also part of the program . . . I don’t think I will be bored too often, but I might over extend myself.

Here are some things I’ve been doing . . . but no pictures of the quilt – that is a later post.


Every now and then, a day becomes more than a day.  I went out to the local botanical garden to do some sketching, and came across a small mass of daffodils all in bloom under the olive tree.  After all our rains, the world is bright with new growth and color – butterflies in multitudes, fresh breezes, the scent of flowers – everything is as if the world was just created.  How easy it is to forget nature’s beauty in our crazy world . . . 

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

     –by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

New Challenges

One thing I find interesting is my need to “drop bombs” on my daily life.  What this means is simply that getting into a rut is not a good thing, and shaking up the patterns and routines are necessary to keep life interesting.  For example, I have settled into this pattern:  coffee, breakfast, clean up myself and the house, figure out evening meals, and then paint and draw.  Much as I like the last, I find myself getting stuck in a rut.  The other things I like doing don’t get done.  And, I get really bored; worse, I feel like I am not “accomplishing” anything!  That’s the problem with having a lot of interests and an impatient, restless personality.  I irritate myself as well as others.

The other day, I finally got around to buying a new laptop computer.  My old ones were worthless except as boat anchors.  Poor graphics and connectivity.  Slow.  I have one, a Windows XP machine dedicated to my film scanner.  Another was not forward compatible with Windows – can you believe that???  Anyway, as a result, I had to clean up the bloat ware on the new laptop and install software I use.  With everything internet-based, it’s interesting to now own a laptop with only a few external connections and no DVD drive.  The result was I finally broke down and decided to enroll in Lightroom CC for photography.

I really like LR as a jump-off point for other software to edit photographs.  The catalog system is great.  However, the Creative Cloud version has some things I need to learn!  I have never been a cloud-based person, preferring to keep stuff on my own hardware rather than rely on others to take care of me.  As times change, though, so must we, even if I am not sure this is always for the best.  What I know I will like is being able to access my photos from either my laptop or my home computer without having to use sneaker net anymore.  That is also what I like about Google and being able to sync across computers.

The challenge here is making sure I do what I like.  It’s actually very hard to find time to do all the things I want to do.  Poor weather has kept me in the house a lot – who wants to go out in pouring rain? – but that is like house arrest after a bit.  The LR is going to be a challenge, and fun.  The bigger challenge is to find the time to do so many other things!

I have made one promise to myself, though:  I will draw or paint every day, no matter what else is on the agenda.


A Few Paintings

No joking when I said my “new job” was watercolor painting and drawing!  I’ve been getting daily life stuff done, but somewhen in between, I manage an hour or two a day with paper, pen, and paint.  It’s paying off (that’s what jobs are supposed to do, right?) I think.  Still a lot of goofs, but some progress, too.  Mud is now something I decide to paint more often than not.  Below is a gallery of the work I’ve done in the past few weeks – not all of it, just some of it.  Click on one picture to begin scrolling through them.

I have been using two different types of paper for the watercolors. One that is inexpensive, 100% cotton is Bee Paper, in 6×9 inch format. The other is Fabriano, in block format. 11×15 inch Artistico; this is a higher quality 100% cotton that is still affordable. Both papers are really good for heavier washes. The Artistico has more tooth than the Bee paper, but the smoother surface of the Bee really lends itself well to ink-and-watercolor drawings.

So many plans with impending retirement, and I am finding I certainly will not be able to do everything I want to do – just not enough time! I used to give myself 30 minutes to paint – now I can give myself whatever time I want. Thus, first loves take over other loves, but the sewing and the photography and knitting and, and, and will get in there. Time will be dedicated!

So, on this rainy Saturday morning, the studio will get cleaned up again, and the fun continue.