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This Weekend

It has been such a long time since I have made a blog post and I thought I would give you a heads up about new paintings that I have made. This weekend I will be showing my art at Freiman Square in downtown Fort Wayne. It will be a two day event called Art in the Park. It will be on Main Street on Saturday 10 to 7 and Sunday 10 to 5.

The four paintings that I am showing here are my most recent. The top three I have the originals along with prints and cards.
King of the Garden original sold but I will have prints and cards. I don’t know my booth number yet, many times I am on Main Street, but it is a different year and also there is a new director. I will send out a Facebook post when I know.
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Book Review: Home Front by Kristin Hannah

Setting is Washington State in April of 2005. The book starts out with Jolene Zarkades and it is her 41st birthday. The backdrop is the Olympic Mountains and Liberty Bay. She has two girls, five year old Lulu and twelve year old Betsy and husband, Michael who is an attorney. Jolene enjoys running in the mornings, is a very organized person for her family and is a helicopter pilot for The Guard. She enlisted in the army when she was 18 years old and had qualified to flight school helicopter-pilot training.

She had a mother and father who drank and fought and eventually died when she was 17 years old. She did not know what she wanted to do after graduation and decided to enlist in the army. She met her best friend Tami when she was 18 and their love for flying brought them together and they had a strong, bonded friendship. They lived next to each other, got pregnant at the same time with their first child and they went from the army to the Guard when marriage and motherhood made active duty difficult. Twice a week they would go together to practice flying the Black Hawk helicopter, each taking turns at the helm.

Earlier in the morning, when she had gotten back from her run she was getting the girls ready for school and asked where their dad was, he already left. Since it was her birthday it was disappointing that he hadn’t stuck around to at least wish her happy birthday, oh well he probably has something special planned for tonight. She always likes his strong work ethic and seems to make excuses for him.

She deals with 12 year old Betsy’s trying to fit in with the cool crowd and not thinking that her mom is neat, like many twelve year olds. She has a wonderful mother in law who owns a garden store and is very helpful. Michael is in practice with his father but he passed away unexpectedly and is having a hard time dealing with it.

Jolene and Michael speak later in the day and apologized for forgetting her birthday and she said it’s fine as long as we are together. He said he would be home by eight and she said they could have a quiet meal together. He didn’t get home until midnight.

He was having thoughts about what is ahead, what his life could have been if a different path had been taken. Things were becoming rocky at home. Michael has never looked upon the Guard as important, something she really loved. Her daughter doesn’t want her to come to school in her flight uniform. She has asked Michael to come to a birthday party that the group is having for her and he doesn’t want to because they are “her” friends and he has nothing in common with them. Eventually as Michael thinks about his life, he decides that he needs to tell Jolene that he doesn’t love her anymore.

Michael is also taking on a case where a 25 year old murdered his wife. His wife that he adored and they were planning on starting a family. This young man was a model person, had never gotten in trouble and everyone loved him. He had been in Iraq though.

Jolene and Tami got the calls that they were being deployed. She had to break it to the girls, to Michael and her mother in law. Most met the information with disdain. Jolene spent the next weeks preparing the family to take care of themselves. Making a notebook with all the information that she could think of down to what meal to prepare for what day. Her heart is broken over her broken marriage but her sense of duty is strong and she has to do this.

The book goes on and tells the story of what goes on in Iraq and describes what the days are like. She tries to not let them know how bad it is and always tells them that she is not in the fighting, but she is.

The coming of Michael preparing and researching his upcoming court case makes him realize so much. He also has to be there for his girls which took him awhile to realize and to get it together. Then, a horrible accident happened during a flight in Iraq. He and Jolene had limited contact while she was over there and he never told her anything before she left. He was very selfish and wasn’t proud of her and didn’t try to understand. Her problem was that she didn’t depend on him and always was controlling. Both were at fault and had to learn hard lessons.

I whole heartedly recommend this book. It helps the reader understand what being in a war is like, getting injured and the long road to recovery along with the family side of it too.

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Glo Magazine

I am thrilled to say that Glo Magazine has chosen my painting “The Blue Vase” for their March Cover. To read the magazine online follow this link. The magazine is free and will be available at many businesses and to find one when they come out click on Newsstand locations.

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Book Review: The Sunshine Girls by Molly Fader

Right out of the shoot, I want to say I loved this book. It addressed so many different aspects of life in 1967. The Vietnam War, friendship, abortion, death, drugs, race, family relationship and secrets.

Iowa, 1967 BettyKay is heading for nursing school because in that era women only become teachers, nurses or wives and mothers. She comes from a farming community where the sons are expected to stay home and help with the family farm and her boyfriend does that. He drives her to school in the family truck and supports her decision whole heartedly and promises to talk to her every Sunday.

Kitty is her roommate with a southern accent. She has style and sarcasm, and it takes BettyKay awhile to get used to her and to have a friendship with her that will last 50 years. Kittys own background story is very interesting and so different from BettyKays.

Jo, (and please forgive me if this name is not correct as I don’t have my book in front of me) is an African American girl. She walked into the school and of course had people ignoring her and having to sit by herself until BettyKay asked her to sit with her and she eventually rounded out the trio of friends. She decided to go to nursing school and serve in Vietnam so her brother would not be sent to the war. She takes no time off to have fun and plans to graduate early. She keeps her eye on the light at the end of the tunnel so to fulfill her family obligation.

Kitty was just glamorous, and flirtatious but would also sew for others on the floor. She was sewing for Jo in return for her notes from class. There was only one phone on the floor and if Kitty would get a call she would go to the phone and hang up on it without even talking to the person on the other end.

BettyKays boyfriend visits one day, with a uniform on and tells her that he has enlisted to go to Vietnam. She is shocked of course, wondering why he didn’t discuss it with her. He said he didn’t want to be talked out of it and that he leaves the next day. They spend the night together and then in two months she realizes that she is pregnant. This was not a surprise in the book, and you will see it coming but what happens after is very interesting and cements the friendships.

The book moves through the early lives and then the adult lives of the three women and back and forth. It weaves and builds a good story that way. I am going to stop here because I hope you pick up the book and get immersed into their lives.

I will tell you that the reason the book is titled “The Sunshine Girls” is that is what new nursing students are called.

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Book Review – The Paris Daughter by Kristin Harmel

This author was recommended to me by my friend Nan. I had said that I like history novels and she said that this author writes them, and she liked her very much. I have been getting some of my reads from the library which is so convenient, but I love the feel of real books in my hand. I also like to refer back to them when writing a review, so it hasn’t stopped me from buying actual paperbacks. Many times I purchase used also.

Here is my review:

Setting is Paris 1939, on the verge of WWII.

Two women, who are American but married Frenchmen.

Elise – is an artist, carves wood and paints and her husband is a well-known artist.

Juliette has a family owned small bookstore along with her husband and children.

These two women are both pregnant and due very close together. They meet in the park one day because Elise has an episode and faints. Juliette came over to render some assistance and eventually she gets Elise back to the bookstore and has the doctor come and examine her and then they become fast friends after that. They both have healthy baby girls who are months apart and they grow up like sisters together. Juliette also has two other children who are boys, and she had a daughter earlier who only lived 13 days and it buried in a nearby cemetery where she visits often.

As the war gets closer to their area Elises husband has been meeting with others underground against the Nazi’s and other bad players of WWII. There are times where he is gone for days, and this is a bone of contention between the two of them because she would like him to be home with them. One day he comes to her with papers that have changed her identity and their daughters also. When she examines the papers, she realizes that the daughters’ papers say a totally different name than hers. He has told her that she needs to get away because she has his last and if she and the daughter are captured then they will be killed. They are looking for him. She needs to leave the daughter in Paris with the papers and go hours away from there.

This tore her up and couldn’t imagine leaving her and walking away. There was a woman in their neighborhood who was Jewish and she made arraignments for her two children to be taken somewhere to be cared for and stay, hopefully, safe. She then went herself away also and finding another place that she had stayed for most of the war until someone ratted them out and they were captured and sent to a concentration camp.

Elise left her daughter with her friend Juliette and family to care for like their own. It was not an easy break at all like you can imagine and she found her way to Ambergene, France to find herself caring for children in a farmhouse where children were kept safe from the war. In the Authors notes at the end of the book she visited this area while writing the book and there was an actual place where the children were kept, and I am sure there were many of these places throughout Europe.

In Paris, back in the little bookstore all was relatively safe and quiet until the Renault Plant was bombed because it was making trucks for the Germans who occupied the country. A stray bomb missed its mark and hit the bookstore destroying it and most of the people in it.

The second half of the book focuses on the characters after the war and how their lives changed and what they did to live. Some moved on, others were mentally challenged, and some had still terrible things happen to them.

It took me a chapter get into the book but then it took off for me and I enjoyed it. Be sure to read the authors notes. It is a good historical novel that was released in June 2023.

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San Xavier Mission

We were taking a trip to Tubac, which is town with many galleries, shops and restaurants. This is south of Tucson, but along the way is the beautiful San Xavier Mission. It was founded in 1692 and it is situated in the center of a Papago Indian settlement or as they prefer to be called the Tohono O’ohdam.

The original foundation was laid in 1700 but the actual building of this mission took 14 years , 1783 to 1797. You can learn more on their webpage.

The ornate ceiling. This building was built by the villagers of Bac, Franciscan Friars and the Tohono O’odham Indians.
The Background of the Alter built entirely of burned brick and covered with gilded and painted plaster.
In the Chapel of the Sorrowful Mother right off the Sanctuary.
The Mary Pew Benson Garden.
The Nativity in the Mission. It was so interesting and one like I hadn’t seen before, I wanted to find out more. My findings led me to Santa Rita Abbey and one of the nuns does sculpture. They are a cloistered community high in the Santa Rita Mountains.
This is Grotto Hill and I did not walk up it but it did look so inviting and interesting. My back and legs were protesting all the beautiful hills in Arizona. I found an article that spoke well of San Xavier Mission and Grotto Hill with no pop ups to deal with.

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A Few More Favorites

I was in awe of this mountain range. We were visiting The Historic Empire Ranch and then drove the area around it. It was like being in The Big Valley show. The information that I can find says that it is the Santa Rita Mountains.
This cow had a really pretty face and was just lounging under a tree with no leaves there in The Big Valley.
I cannot remember which bird this was but it was gorgeous, a falcon….maybe. This was at the Desert Museum again.
I happened to get him taking off in flight. That wingspan….Wow.
Casa Escondida at the Barrio in Tuscon. Loved the purple house and the prickly pear cactus.
The blue porch with the peach house, so pretty.
This prickly pear has a purple tint. Many edible things are made with prickly pears, syrup, jam to name a couple.
I am enamored with the barrel cactus too. The yellow things on top are fruit, they happen after the flowers are done blooming. When they fall off the Javalinas may come along and eat them.
Not a stunning sunset but a beauty. Those blues along with the touch of peach are soothing.
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Just a Few Favorites a little at a time

My friend Cathy would feed the birds daily. I just loved the quail that would come running to eat the seed on the ground. They were so cute and this is just one of many that would come out from desert.

I did not get to see a real Javelina but I think this has to be one of the cutest after all they don’t seem to be just another pretty face. This was found in Tubac which was a wonderful town full of art.

Cathy and Marks neighbor makes these sculptures. I have pictures of quite a few. They were amazing and I am sure heavy. They have a lot of rebar on them.

This was taken out of the window looking at the mountains. I cannot remember which ones they are but the sunset was bouncing off this. The white plants are cholla.

We went to a raptor show and I was standing at a perfect spot because the birds landed in that dead tree. The is a great horned owl and his head is turned around.
We drove through the Barrio Viejo in Tuscon where these houses of the late 1800s – early 1900s have been revitalized. They are very colorful with a lot of desert landscaping. 
A hill with many Saguaros with lots of arms. You are seeing water drops in the morning. We were on our way to the desert museum. I have many more favorites but this was enough for now. It was a fantastic trip and our hosts were so accommodating. They had a beautiful home and this desert was not how we thought it would be. It was fun to go somewhere that we had not experienced before.
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Tom and I just got back from a vacation in Tuscon visiting our friends. It gave us a whole new perspective and appreciation of the desert and cactus. We had such a wonderful time and I will be posting pictures as time goes on. I found this 20 minute video from the National Parks Service which explained a lot about the Saguaro Cactus and the Sonora Desert along with other cactus too, there are so many. We stayed smack dab in the middle of the Saguaro National Park. Hope you enjoy this and it educated me more about that surrounding area we were in. The link is right here.

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For the New Year 2024

Here it is the fifth day of January and the New Year has really started out pretty well. We spent New Years Eve in Detroit and attended a Red Wings game. They played the Bruins and unfortunately lost but it was still fun with a packed house. I am showing my favorite player, Mo Seider # 53. He is a young defenseman (age 22) and is just a steady guy doing his job. He is a favorite, there are many of his jerseys being worn at every game we go to. The weather cooperated, not too cold, we stayed the night and got back on New Years Day around one to just take it easy.

One of new calendars, my husband, Tom knows I love lighthouses and picked it up. I was thrilled to see the Manistee light because two years ago we took a sunset cruise that took off from Manistee.

Here is my picture of the Manistee light as we were getting ready to go out on Lake Michigan. I laugh every time I think of when I made a post on Facebook about this picture. I made reference to the cat walk and was put into Facebook jail because I was writing about something inappropriate.

Another calendar, a mini Susan Branch that I keep right in site of my computer. I do love her watercolor painting and notes and quotes. Out today is a new blog post on her site, it’s always interesting.
I always use her two year pocket calendar that is just as cute as her larger calendars. The cover papers are very sturdy and that is handy because I take it in and out of my purse a lot. I love the primroses on the front.
A friend and I exchange calendars each year and usually it is a Charley Harper Calendar. This year I asked for this Terrry Runyan calendar. I just love her cats, this one will be going down into a room that I am turning into guest room and extension of my studio.
Most of the pictures here today are taken on my new little digital camera. In the near future we are flying to Arizona and I wanted a small camera that is not my phone. Or a small one to take to the beach that is easier to handle than my Nikon while sitting in a beach chair.
I am still learning where everything is and these Starbucks cups could have used a flash. I don’t know what I am going to do with them but maybe some of the designs may be some inspiration.
We have been looking for travel items and have found a few at Meijer. We are not checking a bag but doing a carry on and another bag to put under the seat. I had been looking all over for some root pump and found some made by Big Sexy Hair. It’s pretty cute if I do say so. I have found little Secret deodorant and the little bottle for my shampoo and a travel blow dryer at half price with some extra CVS points. They almost gave it to me!

This weekend we will be seeing a Lions game. They have been very exciting and we started going to the games when they were 0 AND 16. We have gone through 4 coaches, the owner William Clay Ford passed away, then Martha Ford, his wife took the helm and now Sheila Ford, the daughter is the chairwoman. Dan Campbell, the coach has been there for three years but played for the Lions in 2006. He is from Texas.

There are many exciting things coming up in the next months. This is my first painting for the year. I am just sketching in with watercolor crayons and pencils. This is so the mark dissolves when I use the paint. This is a special piece which I will talk about when it is completed.

These are the books I am reading right now on my kindle app. I saw them on facebook and bought them. The first five or 6 were a total of $6.99 and I couldn’t find them in the library, so I went for it. These books are entertaining with a retired policeman who lost his wife a year before. He didn’t know how to cook and decided to take a trip to different small cities and learn how to make different dishes. He is accompanied by a dog who was kicked out of the police academy for disobedience. It is fun to read what the dog is thinking and of course the retired policeman falls into cases. It is Albert Smiths Culinary Capers and I purchased on, of course, Amazon.
Our tree and lights are still up. I love to look in there and see them. I am really enjoying them now since I don’t have to do anything, just enjoy. We probably will take them down next week. There is a little snow coming so I will take down the outdoor lights but we don’t turn them on anymore. I have been getting the applications in for upcoming art shows. There are many new painting ideas swirling in my mind. I would like to paint a couple of pieces of furniture and get pictures hung. I am planning on working on needlework and hopefully a little quilting. Plans for the redo of the guest area, and short term would like to clean out my bird feeders and put new food in and plant some succulents to replace others that didn’t make it.

This little guy comes onto our porch to eat the cat food. I believe he may make it into a painting.

I hope your New Year is going fine and until next time.