WordPress Photo Challenge: “Cheeky” Loose Hens

Nothing like a couple of seasoned old gals turned loose on our 2017 Irish adventure.  I’m on the left with my friend Deb.  In our sixties and getting cheekier every day!

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Cheeky

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – “The Serenity of Tea”

It’s not always possible to escape to beautiful places in nature to find serenity.  In winter I find serenity with a good book and a nice a cup of nice tea in the comfort of my own home.  (Actually these photos were taken last summer in Ireland.  The cottage looked so serene I took this photo- but I do love a nice “cuppa”)IMG_0900

 

 

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Serene

An Irish Midsummer’s Eve

sunset BallyvaughnHumanity around the world has its differences in what holidays are celebrated.  The one thread that unites us is the changing of seasons.  Most cultures have some kind of observance for the seasonal markers around the equinoxes and solstices such as it Harvest, Halloween, Day of the Dead, Christmas, Hanukah, Easter & so forth.   In Northern climates, the Summer Solstice, or Ballyvaughn ChurchMidsummer’s Eve is cause for celebration. On the longest day of the year, there is a little magic & love is in the air.

Ireland is no exception.  On this Midsummer’s Eve, we attended aChoir Ballyvaugn most lovely event, a choral concert in the local church in the village of Ballyvaughan put on by the Lismorahuan Singers.  In the choir were the smiling faces of numerous local faces we had gotten to know during our week long stay there. What a perfect way to spend our last night in Ireland- worthy of a poem.

A MIDSUMMER’S EVE

The earth groaned as it rounded

The final point of its orbit

The sun shone brightly into the hours

Of this shortest night

It claimed its final victory over darkness, this year

And as it did, the flowers bloomed

The faeries danced

And the choir lifted their voices in song

Wrapping their chorus around our hearts

Filling us with strength for the slow waning of the light

To come day by day

In the weeks and months before us

But here, now, we are illuminated fully

Let us celebrate the fruits of summer

& bask in the power of the sun’s rays

On this magical Midsummer’s Eve

Weekly Photo Challenge: Changing from Ocean to Mountains- If These Rocks Could Talk

The land that we now know as Ireland once lay below a vast sea that covered the earth. The ancient seabed filled with layers of dead sea creatures metamorphosed into

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The moon shapes in this limestone are fossils from sea animals.

limestone. Over a process of millions of years, the land was uplifted forming hills and mountains.  A series of ice ages further changed the landscape by sculpting out fjords and leaving valleys and lakes in their wake.  The Burren in Western Ireland is a perfect place to explore these ancient processes.

A granite “tourist” left by a glacier in the limestone.
A sculpture from limestone, water, & wind.
Wave action left these beautiful patterns in the rock
A perfect planter for a tongue fern carved by water.
A sculpted pool.
Making a cairn of limestone on a mountain top in The Burren in memory of my father.

Delta

Traveling to Creativity

I traveled to the small village of Ballycastle, Ireland in early June to take a week-longIMG_0763 printmaking workshop at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation.  The instructor, Ron Pokrasso is from Santa Fe, New Mexico.  It would have been a cheaper option to take the class in “Beyond Monotype” at his home studio but I have been to Santa Fe numerous times and was looking forward to exploring new territory.  Since I love Irish music & culture and loathe hot weather, Ireland seemed like an ideal location.

IMG_0794Travel for the sake of travel is not my thing (see my post “The Reluctant Traveler”). Wandering around looking at tourist attractions is tedious for me.  If I have no other purpose to be there other than being just an observer, I am bored.  Give me a sense of purpose and IMG_0772I am engaged.  In the past, Spanish language immersions with homestays gave me the opportunity to experience Mexico & Central America on an intimate level.

Then about eight years ago, I realized if I was going to get serious about my art without domestic distractions, I was going to travel away from IMG_2248home and immerse myself in creativity for a good week.  I was fortunate to discover Ghost Ranch Retreat Center in N. New Mexico where I have returned most summers to get a creative & spiritual boost.  Even though I plan to return there in the future, I am widening my options now to other locations.

It’s been my experience that when I travel with a purpose, not only do I learn more skills, I develop deeper social & cultural connections.  There are so many options to chose from in this regard.  During this trip, we ran into an enthusiastic group traveling with a knitting and spinning focus.  There are trips and classes that are focused on gardening, photography, history, you name it.  Next year I hope to go to an Irish music camp in North Carolina.

If you are a reluctant traveler, as I am, or an experienced traveler, consider traveling to creativity in the future.  It will definitely add new dimensions to your skill set and give your travel more depth.IMG_0888

Weekly Photo Challenge: Finding Order in the Ruins…..

As I travel in Ireland I’ve been so impressed by the order & symmetry within the original design of the ruins.  Below are shots from the Moyne and Rosserk Abbeys.

Order

The Reluctant Traveler

On Saturday, June 3,  I will board a plane for three weeks in Ireland.  I feel both excitement and anxiety about this trip for I am a reluctant traveler.  You see I have this IMG_0749cozy little life in living in an old farmhouse in rural Oregon.  I don’t always feel that need to get away for I am “away.”  Mind you I will always jump at the chance to go camping, hiking or kayaking in the Pacific Northwest but heading across the ocean with a tourist guidebook in hand does not attract me.

Yet every few years I feel that pull to experience the unknown, go to a far off place and savor the sights and culture of someplace foreign.  The one caveat is that I need to travel with purpose, rather than being a tourist bouncing from attraction to attraction. I require a mission and an opportunity to learn about a new country from “the inside out” rather than just be a casual observer. When I was in my 20’s, my work in wildlife research & as a river guide required me to travel to the far reaches of bush Alaska.  Past adventures have also included numerous solo Spanish language immersions in Central America and Mexico with homestays with local families.  Once I traveled to Northern Guatemala alone, arriving Christmas night to a home in an impoverished town to participate in an environmental project there.  In 2013 I walked the Camino de Santiago from France through N Spain with a friend to mark my 60th birthday.  This type of travel is often uncomfortable but offers such opportunities for perspective & personal growth.

patharrisblackThis coming trip will not offer such extreme physical and emotional challenges as my previous journeys. I will make my way from Dublin by bus to the Ballinglen Art Center in the small village of Ballina to take a weeklong mono-printing workshop from artist Ron Prokrasso.  Three friends will join me at the workshop’s end.  We will spend 2 weeks traveling about NW Ireland in a rental car staying in several cottages we have reserved.

It will be a fabulous trip but I am already missing my “spousal equivalent” of 17 years, my two goofy dogs, the stray cat that comes to the porch every night to be fed, the hummingbirds that frequent the porch feeder, my studio & all the other ingredients that make up the life that I cherish.

IMG_0748But I will allow myself to be uprooted for a time to be pruned and enriched by the wonder & challenge that travel can present.  I hope to grow as an artist and bring back a host of fond memories as my souvenirs and a lot of new artwork.  Until then, I better get packing!clover-445255_1920