Sunday, September 14, 2014

From Grand Cayman to Long Island: August

I seem to have spent a good amount of time on islands this summer!
I began the month of August on the island of Grand Cayman. It was probably my favorite port of the cruise.

For a few bucks, we hopped a taxi right at the port and went to a beach club where we rented chairs and an umbrella. The buckets of beers were a bit on the expensive side, but Mom and I chocked that up to a YOLO moment. (yes, I really used that in a sentence.)  The sun was hot, the water was a blue I had never seen before and it was really refreshing. We spent a good amount of the day there, but decided to pack it in a couple hours before our ship was set to sail. And we left in the nick of time as it started to downpour when we got in the taxi! So much for shopping...

After warming up in the hot tub and promptly taking a nap, the skies cleared and left us with this beautiful view from our cabin.

The last day of the cruise, I finally opened the book I brought, listened to music, and caught some more rays on deck. We had a lovely final dinner with our table mates, and all received a special dessert from our waiter; Carnival's signature melting cake AND a side of cheese cake that when eaten together melted in your mouth with a coffee/hazelnut taste. We celebrated Mom's birthday too. After dinner, walking the deck, we caught an awesome lightening show. It went on for about twenty minutes, at a safe distance, and I know Mom was pretty excited, saying that it was something she always wanted to see.

We took it easy upon returning to Florida, taking a couple of day trips and working around the house. I even made dinner a few nights!

Of course there is always beer involved when I travel. I researched Florida breweries one night and came across the Dunedin Brewery, the oldest craft brewery in Florida. Dunedin is a pretty cool spot that I have never really explored, so Mom and I started the day at the Art center, taking in some local artist's work and a few other shows there, and ended the day at the Brewery for lunch. It was a cool spot that I will definitely go back to!

Another day we took a road trip and I saw parts of Florida I have never seen before. We drove about an hour and a half north of Clearwater, taking back roads all the way to Micanopy. They call it the town that time forgot. Just look at that picture! The main street was full of antiques stores, even the shops themselves were once the general store, a house, a barn. We had lunch at the one little sandwich and ice cream shop and poked around. I would have bought so many pieces of furniture at the first place we stopped. It was clean and uncluttered and everything was clearly labeled with approximate dates and prices. There was a fireplace gate in the shape of a peacock, a heavy, heavy gargoyle door knocker, a beautiful, tall solid wood dresser complete with a mirror and drawers that locked with a skeleton key, painted owl bookends and a mid century round dining room table. Nothing I could fit in a suitcase, thats for sure. 

I was pretty anxious to get home to my new house though. I had unpacking and settling in to do, not to mention some hanging out by my new pool while I could. Amongst all the hard work though, we had the chance to go out and enjoy, a couple of times. 

We had breakfast, complete with my favorite Bloody Mary's, at Deep Ellum in Allston.

And took the train into Harvard Square another afternoon for lunch at Charlie's and some back to school record and clothes shopping. We could even walk to the train from our new house!

I snapped this photo on an after dinner walk one evening. I still can't believe this is my neighborhood and that we are still so close to Boston. I can't wait to set up my easel!

At the end of August, we drove to New London, CT and took the ferry over to Long Island for the first of my nine cousins' wedding. We had a great weekend full of family and reminiscing. I was really thankful to spend time together and to make some new memories.

There was a photo booth available to guests that had props. My brother of course brought them to the dance floor. My uncle also caught this great shot of my Nana and her sister. I love it!

We were able to beat the Labor Day traffic, coming home Sunday afternoon. Monday we spent getting ready for the work week and it's been full steam ahead ever since. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Best Summer on Record.

As we returned to our city last night, it seemed hot and tired.
The same lethargy could be felt today as I did errands.
Its almost as if the here and there and everywhere-s of the city's summers hit at once, as well as the anticipation of the start of school tomorrow, the day after for the kids.
I am already prepared for the pleasantries of my co-workers with their "how was your summer-s?" and "are you ready for the new school year-s?"

I have to say, the summer of 2014 was probably the best summer on record.
And I am not the slightest bit ready for the new year.

I started out painting on Nantucket, an island thirty- two miles off shore, for two and a half weeks.
Followed by packing up as much as I could of our second apartment, in anticipation of the last move for at least for the next thirty years.
Afterwards, leaving for a Caribbean cruise and a week in Florida with my immediate family, as the other half of my family moved what was left of my packed belongings into our new home.
(What kind of lottery did I hit to have such an awesome family!?)
And finally I was home for another two and half weeks before traveling to Long Island for the first wedding of one of my nine cousins!

I wasn't looking forward to what this year brought as I turned 30 in the Spring. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine what the summer held for me.
I am nervous for the new school year to start, as I haven't had much time to plan with all that fun, and will be teaching two courses I have never taught before.
But, I am excited for the challenge as I enter my first year as a "tenured" teacher.

Thank you to everyone who made this summer possible. I look forward to hosting you in our new house!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

7.31, 7.30, 7.29

I cannot believe that three weeks ago I was in Roatan, Honduras! It was a beautiful and relaxing day, despite some cloudy skies and down pours to start. 

view from our cabin before anchoring

Carnival basically built a beach, as far as I know, at the port. Unless you take an excursion through the cruise ship, I'm not sure how safe this port is in reality. You can walk or take the sky ride right from the dock to Mahogany Bay. We walked through the shops and well manicured "jungle" before hitting the little beach club comprised of a few bars, a restaurant and loads of beach chairs.

Thats the Carnival Legend from our seats on the beach!

And once the sun and the crowds came out.

It really was pretty gorgeous. I brought some color pencils with me and attempted to sketch from the beach, but nothing could do this justice. The water was clear and comfortable. We were in pretty often as it was hot! On the walk back, I bought a necklace and mahogany earrings from a local vender.

The day before, my mom and I went cave tubing in Belize. I did not bring my camera, so I don't have any photos... Unfortunately, there was a lot of waiting that day. We waited for the tender boat for what felt like over an hour. Then the tender took about fifteen minutes. Then we were herded into groups for our excursions and waited for a bus. The bus took us about forty five minutes west. Once we were there, we geared up in life vests, helmets with head lamps and tubes. We then trekked about twenty minutes into the jungle before linking tubes and floating down the river. 

I totally just stole these from my mom. Although I did take them on her camera. Thanks mom!

Check out those palms! We were seriously in a jungle. This was the second bus of the day. It was a manual in order to take us up and over a steep hill to the base camp.  
I have to say, after tubing, this is where I had the best nachos, ever. I know I had to wait for what felt like forever to get there, but I actually watched them make my nachos! There was another forty five minutes back, but I had a nice nap and at the end of the day, knew I had a very unique experience. 

The day before Belize, I dragged my family on an excursion I selected. This brought us to a museum called Discover Mexico and to a national park called Chankanaab in Cozumel, Mexico. 

Our tour guide, Ruy, was very knowledgeable. He led us through Discover Mexico, allowing us to take in the artistry from multiple generations, as well the "to scale" landmarks throughout history. 

detail of the Tree of Life, clay

I loved the artwork! 
I also may have freaked out by all the fish near us, but snorkeling at the park was awesome.

Our ticket included lunch at Discover Mexico. We watched a woman hand press the corn tortillas! I must have missed the explanation of sauces at the end of the buffet line though.

The green salsa was so hot, I think my eyeballs were sweating! (But soooo good)

Here we are in Cozumel! The Three Generations. 

did you read the beginning of the cruise, 7.27?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Best of the Town" Painting Entry

Alright folks, I need your opinion.
I plan to enter a show hosted by our local Art Association. You can enter up to three pieces, each with a fee, in the juried show. You can also enter what I am calling here, the "Best of the Town" show, but the same painting can not be in both. Some of my favorite pieces of the last year deal with the subject matter of our town and I would like to enter one. But I can't decide! Help me out and leave a comment about which one I should enter.

Black's Creek, 5"x7" Oil on Canvas 
From Above, 5"x7" Oil on Canvas
Also worth noting, I am not married to the names. I almost can see these as companion pieces, but I don't have time to make them more harmonious. Plus I can only enter one.
Another note, I snapped these pics with my iPhone in the natural and artificial light of my new studio, aka our extra bedroom.

Your input is appreciated!


Packing for any vacation is a bit of a daunting task for me. Sometimes just getting ready for work, I will put on three different shirts and change my shoes five times before I am comfortable and happy. Why? I don't know. We joke that I should have a "swear jar," but instead of putting a quarter in every time I cuss, I should give every time I change my outfit. Needless to say, packing for two and a half weeks where I would need formal wear, casual dress, beach attire and comfortable excursion clothes, took a while, not to mention we were moving!

I arrived in the Tampa area mid- week and had a few days to relax with family. My nana and I had some time at Clearwater Beach before a typical summer thunderstorm rolled in, and my mom and I had a lovely evening of mani- pedis and dinner out. We even caught at Red Sox game at Tropicana Field. (of course we lost) By Sunday evening, this was the view of Tampa from the back of the Carnival Legend. 

About two hours later, the cruise ship had to squeeze under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. I've driven over it. Its really high!

But the tail of the ship only had about twelve feet of clearance!

Worst part of the Day: I don't think there was much of a negative the first day! Other than there being tons of people on deck and in the pools as we set sail. But then, there are literally thousands of people on board.

Best part of the Day: Immediately being catered to. Oh that sounds so snobby! But I think that service is part of the cruising culture and it was pretty amazing how quickly waiters made themselves available, even learning your name and using it when asking about the next round of drinks.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Thousands of Miles Traversed

My goodness, it has been almost a month since I last posted!

In that time, I returned from Nantucket and closed on a beautiful, three bedroom, one and a half bath home, complete with an in-ground pool, just blocks from the beach. My boyfriend and I are really excited to have purchased his family's home and in the short ten days that I was in MA, I helped pack anything I physically could before I was jet setting yet again.

This time I flew to Tampa and spent two and a half weeks with my mom and grandmother. Seven of those days, we were on a Caribbean cruise with stops in Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, and Grand Cayman.

After all the miles this summer, I think I should get a swallow tattoo!

I hope to post a bit about my cruise and my Florida adventures soon. I can't believe that school starts in less than three weeks!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Revelatory Qualities

Have you ever had an experience where time stands still for days on end? Where you have to step back every once and a while and breath deep because life feels like a dream?

My two and a half weeks on Nantucket was certainly that experience, more so than the first time.

I have been home for four days. Life has most definitely taken center stage again, but I find myself day dreaming about the revelatory qualities of the island, trying to keep my memory alive. I didn't paint as much as I wanted, but I look at my small collection, glad that I tried to capture what I was feeling rather than what I was seeing.

Just about every morning I would wake before the others, to make coffee, read, and admire how the clouds would break away to sunshine and blue skies.

On the final evening of the course, we were invited to the Art Cabinet Nantucket, now at a new location on the owner's property. It felt like a perfect ending with the sun setting over beautiful views.

Our professor had been asked to give a talk. The entire back wall of the gallery was dedicated to his work. I enjoyed hearing stories about how he grew up as a spiritual young man who gravitated to the spiritual connection he then felt when he started painting. He is a very knowledgeable man who takes pride in his position as a public university professor, as he feels he is genuinely able to make a difference with his students. I for one feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to study with him the last two summers.

Under his guidance, I think I've come a long way with painting. Before last summer I never painted. Now, I can't stop.

This summer, after the first week en plein air, where I pushed myself to be somewhat abstract, the second week we were required to be abstract. I spoke vaguely of my idea for the week here.

Here is how it progressed.

I'd like you to look at the final pieces and draw your own conclusions before I explain my ideas more completely. I wasn't really satisfied with my work until my classmates viewed it for the final time and each was able to create their own ideas and meaning. It was very satisfying to hear what they individually took from my work. 

So what's the big idea?
Home was a huge theme in my undergraduate work and I was so satisfied to work with it again, this time in a totally different context.

  • The top left is a simple 4 x 12 landscape with a transparent outline of the bird's wing and tail.
  • Below that is a 12 x 12 aerial landscape and outline of a swallow. Legend has it that sailors would tattoo a swallow on their body after every 5,000 nautical miles traveled. The swallow would also ensure safe travel home, as it returns to the same location every year. 
  • Finally on the right is a 12 x 16 panel. This also has an aerial landscape, a bit less defined, a compass, and the outline of a house that was printed with wax crayon. 

This came to me through the idea of "divine mind."
Things fell into place the last two summers and allowed me to study painting in an absolutely gorgeous location that I don't feel I would otherwise be able to travel to. I've had a great sense of freedom.
Things fell into place to allow my boyfriend and I to purchase his childhood home, the outline depicted in this piece. It's so cheesy, but I have been that wandering bird and I now have the opportunity to have my own home.

I have always identified with this quote from the 2004 movie, Garden State.
Andrew Largeman: You know that point in your life when you realize the house you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of a sudden even though you have some place where you put your sh*t, that idea of home is gone.
Sam: I still feel at home in my house.
Andrew Largeman: You'll see one day when you move out it just sort of happens one day and it's gone. You feel like you can never get it back. It's like you feel homesick for a place that doesn't even exist. Maybe it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't ever have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I don't know, but I miss the idea of it, you know. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people that miss the same imaginary place.
Sam: [cuddles up to Andrew] Maybe.

I get to start the cycle.
I just hope to slow down and still catch the revelatory qualities as I go.