Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dear diary

To anyone who can identify with an up and down life, it should come as no surprise that my last, somewhat euphoric post was promptly followed by a 6 month slump. In the interests of adhering to the premise of my blog.....  memory joggers with a view to my future befuddled self.... I've decided I ought to do a quick round up of some highs and lows and hit reset.

Where was I? In the sun drinking coffee outside the Flatiron building without a care in the world?

Yes!  But behind the scenes, very sadly and for different reasons, neither Frankie nor Smokie came too.

What else? Well I had to leave almost straight away to go to a 5 day art workshop in Northern California where I met my lovely Facebook friend from Ireland, Pauline Agnew, for the first time. She was one of the teachers. I think it was an excellent workshop, in fact I know it was. However, for me it was way too much of a stretch on top of the move to NY, cat deaths and a whistle stop tour of friends and family in England. I had no A game left to bring. It was a bit demoralizing really because I felt completely displaced and couldn't concentrate on painting at all .... up a mountain suddenly with a bunch of strangers 3,000 miles from home, sleeping in a very rustic "cottage" in the grounds of a convent.  No car, no tv, no internet and no way of getting to a coffee shop. Boy, did I feel stranded! I berated myself soundly for being shallow etc while surviving by playing a lot of Candy Crush. Thank goodness for my iPhone and Pauline's thoughtful addition of wine to the materials list!

The retreat Center in N California, manned by nuns 

My temporary home

Painting demo by Melinda Cootsana

David flew out to join me afterwards for a much needed little vacation, never been so glad to see him. We stayed in Monterey in a room with a balcony hovering over the bay, went to sleep and woke each day to the lovely sound of sea lions honking, and discovered how absolutely beautiful Carmel beach is...... paradise!!! So that all ended happily.

Breakfast each morning, too hot to sit outside!

Home again, quick breath and then straight off to another art workshop, this time in a rather gritty area of Brooklyn, with the very wonderful Flora Bowley who teaches "Intuitive Painting". We have a few of her paintings and I was looking forward to meeting her. This time my daughter went with me which was a much better idea. Once again,  no A game to bring artistically, but it didn't matter as much this time as it was one of those "there's no right or wrong" approaches. Plus she starts each session with a peaceful meditation and reflective time,  just what my addled brain needed.

Flora at work, she completes a painting demo during every workshop

"Honoring the Paintings" ceremony at the end

2 of Flora Bowley's paintings brightening the house in N Virginia

On the homefront, it was quite an ongoing challenge filling an apartment with a load of stuff and making it feel like a personal space. It all took time to arrive and assemble itself into a friendly formation. We slept on a mattress on the floor for 2 months like the good old student days until the bed frame was delivered.
I didn't notice until we moved here how many people out on the streets of New York are struggling back to their apartments weighed down with heavy household items that would normally be tossed casually into the back of a car. You can have things delivered or take a cab but it does't always feel worth it.... you buy a mop for $15 from Home Depot for instance, are you going to pay another $15 to get it home? Of course not! There's usually a point, around half way, when I vow never, ever, to do this to myself again. David's worse than me, he's determined to get things back under his own steam even if he dies in the attempt....

Setting up home in NY from scratch.....

......David reluctantly admitting defeat and taking a break from lugging that heavy mirror up 5th Ave. We don't need a cab, we're British and made of sterner stuff....  

After one too many trips up and down I95 bringing car loads of this and that, it finally feels as if we've arrived. Oh yes..... and we got another cat!

Jimbo ponders his move from the shelter in rural Virginia to a Manhattan apartment.