Rocks and Angels
Updated: Sep 13, 2021
I couldn't write about this cross country excursion without relating my feelings of gratitude I have for the generosity of some special Friends.
At a time when I needed it most, Janet and Jack Schick sensed that I would benefit from an invigorating, mind clearing trip to their cabin in Pioneertown CA and offered it to me free of charge for as long as I want, to paint to my heart's content. WOW! I was humbled by this gesture into tears, and gratefully accepted as I trusted my journey would be held in the Light with guidance from source within.
They certainly know the allure of the Mohave Desert, the San Bernardino Mountains and those incredible rocks that tower into the atmosphere like sky islands.
The cabin is quaint and rustic circa 1949, so one of the earliest in the area presumed. The setting is actually a settled area known as Rimrock, and is on Burnt Canyon Road, the back way to Big Bear Mtn if you have an ATV. The location can't be beat. They get several offers a week on the place to buy it, and the 3 bedroom one up the street is offered for $1.1M. Of course last year it was probably half the price. They refuse every offer.
The property manager and friendly neighbor was great in helping me to get things set up and offered assistance often. With a name like Catfish, I figured the guy has a colorful history, and indeed he does as I came to know. Whatever, as I chose not to think about the jail term too much, or the unfortunate circumstances that might not have happened, he curiously was the trend setter for the facial hair contest apparently going on in the hot Southwest. Thanks Fish. You're an Angel.
Jules and Steve, awesome neighbors in Rimrock, threw a dog party for Jules birthday which was fabulous fun! Loved the concept and the canine circus of about 25 dogs. Thanks for the invite guys!!! The painting of my morning view of their home is still in the cabin waiting for my return to finish. It was quite a challenge to block the sun and wind but I did it! The golden colors were spectacular, and it was all yellows on deck to mix the most appealing one that captured the essence in the sunlit sky.
Louise (LA)Marler is an artist from Santa Monica, now living in Joshua Tree, who happened to be sitting the co-op gallery there when I visited. Naturally, we found much in common to talk about, exchanged numbers, and began finding things to do together that kept us both from going stir crazy in the hot desert of the Yucca Valley. Lots of fun at Pappy and Harriets, hiking, and checking out other local art. She's now busy with a couple exhibitions opening in San Diego and another in St Louis. Love to see artists get recognized. Makes my heart happy!
James Hayward (aka Jimmy) is a known and listed LA based contemporary artist who I had the pleasure of visiting at the recommendation of mutual friends, Pat & Suzanne Patterson, the folks who graciously offer me a beautiful place to stay on their farm when in PA. I was treated to the grand tour of Jimmy's property featuring a random and natural cacophony of enormous plants creating a marvelous array of outdoor spaces for reflection and meditation. Koi pond and the quirky random tree house were my favorite features. The studio was incredibly interesting to me as well, and his work is so completely original, fascinating in it's simplicity, yet an unknown technique. Simple and outside of my realm. I love it, but I wouldn't have thought so until I met him. Amazing guy. Thank you Jimmy and Sue!!!
Vanna White- Not only is she beautifully elegant in everything she does, she continues to keep a steady handle on a normal life lead by the heart. During our lunch at her home in Beverly HIlls, she let me know that half the profit from her line of yarns goes to this worthy cause. May the yarns of today help weave the research of today into tomorrow's cures at St Jude Children's Hospital. I feel strongly about supporting this foundation and hope that you'll choose Lion's Brand Vanna's Choice for all your project needs.
Pictured here is the afghan Vanna made for my son Keaton as a baby, and now it's his baby's favorite blankie!
Mark and Kathy Phillips, the Bucks County turned Flagstaffers, offered me a stop and stay on my trip through Arizona. I had been planning to see this area and the Grand Canyon and Sedona on the way out to CA, but there seemed to be a logistics issue with what is now technically known as "Margie's room" and the carpeting and lack thereof in their big and beautiful new Tudor home. The visit was deferred to the return, and we were all so glad it worked out that way. This was actually probably the most fascinating part of my trip- reconnecting with old familiar friends and all the while seeing these incredible rock formations before my eyes- to experience a vortex on a mountain mesa- the enormous wildlife up close- to marvel at forms of ancient existence- and lavish in the richness and the vast dimensional qualities of this rocky world. Northern Arizona -- almost surreal. That was a lot of hyphens.
Mark & Me...we've been friends almost forever, and Kathy and I are the Squinty Sisters. We never skip a beat after letting so much time go by without a real catch up session. For me, this made experiencing the two bucket list locations of Grand Canyon and Sedona with them even more poignant.
Mark has been an avid hiker most his life and has scores of hiking stories of the Grand Canyon. Hearing about them, including the one about not walking out of the canyon until 2am - was much better than actually taking that risk as the princess hiker turned rugged warrior plein air painter that I am. (Ok, I'm working on getting that label revamped to be a little more moderate.) I truly had dressed for the "hike"... yes, there's pavement...very few prickly bushes, in fact none, no prickly bushes to worry about at all in my hiking shorts and fashion gym shoes. As my friend Karen Rowley put it perfectly, Sporty Spice Squinty Sister.
It was a perfect day for the South Rim tour of arguably the most majestic place on Earth. I had the benefit of a stand-up comedian (Kathy) with their 4 month old Standard Poodle puppy Flash as added entertainment! My pics are pretty good but they actually suck next to the real thing. Only the most divinely inspired words could be close enough to describe the experience of being there.
Breathing the air there is unique in and of itself I noticed quickly. Combine that with the sights, sounds, emotions, energies - the belief that your senses are being filled with why you are here on this planet. Take it all in and now breathe out. Repeat. Again.
A note on painting there: would I set up to plein air? Yes, but only if there was no expectation of getting a reasonably good one without a heckofalotta onlookers. I'd go with other artists though, and hike to more secluded spots with a mule team and pack. Any takers?
Sedona. What they say is true and then some. I was completely mesmerized by the beauty of the rocks, their layers, levels, shapes, colors, the textures, the architecture.... Ah! I could clearly see a painting everywhere I looked!
Not gonna lie. It was hard to take it all in in such a short amount of time. We saw the most amazing ancient homes built into the rocks dating back 1000 years...Montezuma's Castle. I briefly meditated in the vortex area of the Sedona Mesa Airport. I returned to paint from there the next day, a small study of the vista view. There's an enchantment about Sedona, and I've been charmed.
It's a place I plan to revisit, and one I'll never forget. But truly, just the time spent with these besties, beats the best Arizona has to offer. Kathy and Mark, thank you!
Barb and Jeff Eggers, Franklin, Indiana - For Hoosiers, they sure know how to turn in a New York minute! Wow, impromptu overnight pit stop, they roll out the carpet, dinner (fabby), Elks club (Hi 5), antique bed (dreamy), morning swim, hot waffles made by the Judge--oh yeah, btw, he's the honorable Circuit Court Senior Judge Jeffrey C. Eggers. I thought you might want to know what the funniest case he's ever heard was so I asked him. He had two that came to mind. I thought this was the funniest. Here ya go, he said something like this:
"A case comes into the courtroom that, very unfortunately, is concerning child molestation. The prosecutor is an attorney who I know well and I've heard hundreds of his cases. The defendant, the accused is a male boyfriend of a woman, accuser, who's 16 year old daughter is the alleged victim. He was accused by his girlfriend for molesting her underage daughter, who is also appearing in the courtroom that day.
So, I wouldn't normally say this, but for age 16 and a very petite girl, one couldn't help but notice that her, um, mammary glands were, eh-hem, extremely developed, and that's all I have to say.
In the defendant's testimony, under oath, he was asked about the events leading up to this. The male testified, "I was waiting for my girlfriend to come home, and her daughter walked into the house. I hadn't met her before. She said "What do you think?" and I said "About what?". She then lifted up her shirt wearing no bra. The attorney asked, "What was your reply? He said, "They're BIG!".
Next thing heard in the courtroom was the command, "Bailiff, clear the courtroom" as I held my hand in front of my face and refused, REFUSED to look at the Prosecutor who I knew would make me lose composure completely. You can imagine the release of tension when all were not within earshot in the chamber. Court resumed and I think things turned out ok for the defendant. There you go"
For me, this California trip has meant more than I ever could have imagined in terms of spending time with the friends that have been part of the fabric of my life. Reawakening our bonds with each other, and seeing them on their home turf has been one of the best parts of the entire trip.
Kathy Malone and Carrie, Patti Doyle, Marcy Montgomery and to all my hosts on the way out and back to California who made my stay so enjoyable, I thank you and hope to be able to reciprocate soon when you come to VT for a visit!
Robin Deibler, Patti Crossland, Karen Rowley, Kathleen Kelly and the whole bon voyage/welcome home committee...Sue, Sandy, Cindi, Joe, Kathy, Lorraine, Henri, Maria, Bert, Jenny, Kim, Marti!!! Thank you ALL for coming out to see my suntan! And to those I missed seeing- until next time!
Happy Trails until we meet again!
*PS: I'll be adding to my blog with images taken with my Nikon when I've had the time to edit the thousands of shots I've taken. This could take years, but I'll share when I do! Peace.