Sunday, May 29, 2011

Better than Christmas!

Today was a SURPRISE...nearly every part of it. You have no idea how my spirits have been lifted as a result of an unplanned, spontaneous day. Who knew how badly I needed this?

I woke up early and drank coffee and listened to the very vocal birds while I waited for the Sunday paper to be delivered. Warren woke up and started getting ready "for work." The paper arrived, and I sat on the porch and devoured it, enjoying more coffee and the wonderful coolness of the bright morning.

After I got Jonathan up, I made a decision that "today is my day off, and I'm going to use it as such!" Jonathan came downstairs in his new suit (what a handsome young man!), had breakfast, and left for church. He had a "duty" this morning, so sending him off alone was not a problem. I watched him (eagerly, full of anticipation) go down the sidewalk to the church. I locked the door and nearly RAN upstairs to my "play room." I opened the windows and turned on the fan. And I sat down at my work table and finished a journal background page that I started yesterday. Layers and layers, a little texture, some more layers of color. I love it.

Warren called and said, "How about going to Newburyport today instead of tomorrow?" "GREAT!" was my reply. Are you kidding? A trip to the coast which might involve a trip to a beach? NO PROBLEM.

When Jonathan came home, I told him about our plan. He has some wonderful friends (who used to be our neighbors) who live there. He asked if he could call "the girls" and of course, I said "YES!" These girls are identical twins and they and Jonathan have a bond that will last forever. He was so excited, and I could hear them screaming through the phone when he told them we were coming.

So...we left Worcester about 1:00. There was a bad accident on the highway, which added about 30 minutes to our drive. But we arrived to find a wonderful festival going on in downtown Newburyport! Arts & Crafts and food and all the stores were open and it was awesome! We met up with the girls, and they suggested a walk to the boardwalk, where it wouldn't be so crowded. So, Warren and I followed behind...until we realized we just couldn't keep up. That was okay. They were okay. We'd catch up with them, they'd take off. We'd meet them somewhere, they'd say "Hello!" and be gone. They were safe. We were just having a wonderful day outdoors in the sunshine.

Later, they asked if we could go to the beach. Warren looked at me and said, "Well, I'm not sure if Mary wants to go to the beach or not." Jonathan's face dropped about a foot. I started to laugh. I was so excited you could have raced me in a car and not beat me to get there. The surf was high. The kids got soaking wet and Warren took wonderful photos. The girls' mother came to the beach and she and Warren took more photos. I found a wonderful stick to add to my corner of "found sticks" in my garden. The water felt so good on my feet. The sand felt so good on my hands. I think I might love a beach more than any other place on earth.

After a couple of hours at the beach, we all hugged and said our goodbyes for awhile. My family drove down the road a little way to "Bob's Lobster" just as the sun was setting. I have seen many sunrises on the East coast. I've seen sunsets from the East coast, too, but not over water. I could have been sitting on a beach in Mexico watching this sunset. It was huge and bright red and in full bloom. My breath was sucked out of me when I realized I was sitting on the East coast of a country, watching the sun set on the other side of that same country. I nearly cried.
 Here's a photo from my phone. Warren has better photos, which I will share. It was an awesome experience.
All the way home, we listened to the Americana Music Nominations show on satellite radio. So very good.

 It's like I took the right dose of medicine when I got up. Everything about today was just perfect. Thank you God, thank you Warren, thank you Jonathan and the girls! Wow.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Drawing Day!

If it's Monday, it must be time for my drawing class! This term, I am taking Portrait Drawing. Today was week three; we've had a life model (not naked) every week. This is all very new to me.

Today's exercise was to draw quickly, with broad strokes for both emphasis and shading. We were to "draw as if the person you're drawing will get off the bus at the next stop, and you want to capture everything."

So, we had some 10-minute drawings, and some 15-minute drawings, and some 20-minute drawings. Whew! Three hours goes quickly when you are drawing.

Anyway, here a couple of my results. The first one is done with charcoal, and is 18"X24" on drawing paper:

The next one might be my favorite of the day, but I'm partial to "mug shot" drawings...apparently. It was fun to work in color and not be able to erase.

I left class today feeling sort of frustrated, but more challenged than anything. I keep telling myself, "Baby steps!!" but it's hard because I want to be good at this yesterday! Anyway, thanks for looking. I'll be back!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Unfinished Business

In January of 2008, just about one month after my mother's death, I started this painting. I have worked on it several times, but not at all in the last year. It sits on top of my piano to "remind" me to keep after it, as it feels so unfinished to me but I do not have a clue what else to do. There is a story behind it, which has to do with my mother after she died.

The morning of her funeral, she was sitting on the edge of the bed of a family friend when he awoke. She said, "I just wanted to make sure you were okay. I'm fine, I'm going to Westport!" My mother's Irish roots are in County Cork, which is not close to Westport (County Mayo). None of us had ever heard of Westport. We do, however, believe this story to be true.

So this painting is "Coming Into Westport" and it is filled with lots of emotion. Some of it is anger (the dark, low clouds) and some of it is relief. Maybe it is finished; maybe I'm just afraid to admit that I painted something I like!

What I would like to hear from those of you who choose to do so is, "What do you think is missing here?" My goal was to present this to my baby brother on his 50th birthday. From the moment I started this painting, I knew it would be for him. I still have time, but would really like to get some feedback.
Thanks for looking, and I look forward to your comments.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Big News

I just want to share with you the sermon my husband, The Rev. Warren Hicks, gave this morning at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Worcester, MA. He talks about his reaction/response to the killing of Osama bin Laden. Call me prejudiced, but this sermon is brilliant.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New Life

Tonight a very dear friend told me that there's a chance her husband will get a job in another state - 3 1/2 hours away from here. My heart sank.

She's excited, and has been doing some internet searching about the possible new home for their family. My friend has never lived outside of her zip code, so this is a great big deal to her. I get it.
I remember just five short years ago, wondering where it was God was calling Warren and me and Jonathan to begin anew. And, here we are in Worcester, MA! It was not my first choice, but it wasn't the worst choice! Life happens, and you make it your life. I'm really trying to do that.
But I think about this friend of mine and what she is going through. Yes, there's excitement! It's an adventure! Who doesn't love an adventure? Nobody brought me here kicking and screaming, and this is what I remember every time I say to myself, "What in the hell am I doing here?"

Five years later, I'm beginning to figure out how to get places without using my GPS. (This is huge!) Five years later, I'm bonded to some enough people that it would make me cry to leave here, if we left. But we're not leaving. Of that, I am sure. So my job is to make this life my life, and create a life in this place that still feels foreign to me.

Although I will never (probably) call Worcester "home" it is a good place, filled with good people. My job is to find those good people and make them part of my every day life. We've done alright, but we can do better. It's time to stop standing around with "deer in the headlight eyes" and start being "bulls in a china shop" and making our presence known and our desire for friendship and fun known and quit hiding behind the doors of this house which is not ours and say, "Come on in!" (By invitation only, please - that's another post!) We're going to be here.

And so, to my friend who is at a possible huge crossroads in her life, can I just say this: "Enjoy the adventure! It's fun, it's exciting. Once all the fun and excitement wears off, make sure you make friends of your own. Don't just be your husband's wife. You deserve the best.

And I will support you and love you, because I realize and understand what you're going through. It's tough, but give it a few years and it will be well worth it. But I will miss you - terribly. XO