Gardening of a Different Kind

“Make a list of the jobs you’d like some help with and I will give you four days over Easter to get as many as possible done”. What a gift!

It wasn’t hard to think of them. If I can chip away at something and do it myself, I will, but there are some jobs that I just don’t have the muscle power or height or whatever for. So, an offer like this is pure gold to me. A real love gift, because I am pretty sure that even though he really enjoys what I create in our garden, if he was left to himself he would find other ways to occupy himself on a precious long weekend off work.

True to his word, he gave me four days. We put up curtain rails in the studio and then hung the curtains. Neighbour’s hedges were trimmed and mulched. Piles of sods left over from previous excavations were removed.The list was long and with each one completed I felt such a joy to finally cross these things off my ‘to-do’ list. #grateful

On day four as we began to clean up from all our activities, he stopped and said, ” Why don’t you go and pick some flowers for inside before the rain comes. I’ll do the clean up.” Wow! What a gem of a guy! #grateful again!

I’ve looked at those flowers on the dining room table all week and seen, not just their beauty, but, also, someone’s very thoughtful gift to me. They’ve reminded me of the fun time we had doing four days of cleanup projects together. The being outside in the sun, stopping for a cuppa, dump runs… together. The laughter, conversations, building memories. They let me feel the love all over again.

“Let us be grateful to people

who make us happy; they are

the charming gardeners who

make our souls blossom.” Marcel Proust (1871-1922) French Novelist

Writing this in appreciation of his wonderful gift to me, it makes me stop and think about how I have the responsibility and joy to be the ‘charming gardener’ who make his soul blossom as well. What parts of ‘me’ would make him happy? Am I sharing them? Am I giving gifts of love? And not just to him but to all the people in my world. Loving God and loving your neighbour as yourself, is what the whole law and commandments are about, right?!

It’s good to take a stocktake every now and again. Are their new gifts I could give? Things I could do? If I want my fruit trees to blossom big I need to feed and water them big. Little feeding gets little blossom… sad, but true. But when the blossom comes we ‘oh’ and ‘ah’ as we appreciate their beauty and have all the feels of satisfaction for our efforts. We do it because we like that kind of fruit and so we chose and planted it. We entered into a relationship with that fruit tree. The ‘hard work’ is now just beginning. Now we need to tend it. It’s the tending that gives us the fruit we desire.

So, I am off to have a cuppa and do a little pondering. I want to feel the fruit of love in my relationships. See what I need to add to my ‘to-do’ list, that he so kindly emptied for me. It’s just gardening of a different kind. ๐Ÿ™‚

Joy Sparkles

It’s not been a week of great events. Nothing out of the ordinary has really happened. Yet, I’ve found so much joy in seemingly insignificant things. The warm sun on my hand while driving. Autumn leaves swirling in the wind. The quiet.

In noticing it, I’ve begun to wonder if, when big events happen, our vision is overwhelmed by them and we miss out entirely on seeing the little things that colour our world. A bit like when an elephant is sitting on your lawn, you would be forgiven for not seeing the lawn daisies.

When the elephant is not there, you would be very normal to miss the elephant, wish the elephant was back, even pine for the wonder of the elephant. But in the process of having your mind consumed with the elephant you would be missing out on all the smaller, yet just as beautiful, joys. Like the wide open space or the daisies in the lawn.

Well, it’s been a week like that here. Space to breath a bit amidst the diaries activities. Less humans in the house for a few days. Time to just chill a bit. And in the quiet, which, in itself, is a HUGE joy in my books, I’ve found myself noticing all of these little things that have been real ‘stop you in your tracks’ moments with the wonder of them.

The wonder of the wind in the leaves kind of gets my insides all excited. It’s fascinating. And I am left with a ‘high’ almost, of joy sparkles. The light and warmth from the sun when it reaches my hand on a chilly morning. The kind deeds from those who didn’t have to but thought of helping you. Knowing that your boys and your darling dearest are having a wonderful time just enjoying each other’s company. Hearing that one of the highlights of their trip was buying a couple of pizza and going to the lake to skip stones together as the sun set.

These little things are often overlooked as things to be grateful for. But the gratitude and wonder for the smalls of life brings a world full of joy and sparkles that would be such a pity to miss out on. we are definitely richer for them. What are some of your favourite joy sparkles?

‘To My Dear and Loving Husband’

This week I heard about a mid-seventeenth century poet called Ann Bradstreet. Ann lived in the new world (now the United States of America) and was the first, not just woman but person, to have a book of poems published there.

In her book was a poem entitled ‘To my Dear and Loving Husband’.

If ever two were one, then surely we.

If ever man were loved by wife, then thee.

If ever wife was happy in a man,

Compare with me, ye women, if you can.

I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,

Or all the riches that the East doth hold.

My love is such that rivers cannot quench,

Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.

Thy love is such I can no way repay;

The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.

Then while we live, in love letโ€™s so persever,

That when we live no more, we may live ever.

I had to read this poem a few times, slowly line by line to let her meaning sink in. Part of it was probably the different rhythm and order of words, not to mention the quite flowery imagery. As one ponders each line an image I can grasp comes to light. She really loved and appreciated her husband. I am sure that living in those times life was not at all easy and having someone she could trust and admire to do life with must have been such a blessing to her. and here she is using her talent for words to show him her gratitude.

I don’t have her gift for being such a noteworthy wordsmith but I do share her deep gratitude for a wonderful partner. Sometimes in the daily living of life my gratitude is not found front and centre but reading a poem like this brings it back and makes me remember that I too have a dear and loving husband to do life with. I really am most blessed and most grateful.

She gets it right when she says that there is no way to ever repay his love. Getting the gift of love from someone else is a real treasure, and even more so when we know that they know all our warts and faults. When they still give us love that’s priceless. Abundant blessing from heaven is her request for him.

My ‘dear and loving husband’ flies home today. I have missed him. Perhaps that is why this poem is hitting the spot for me today and making all this gratefulness well up for the one I get to do life with. Do you ever get these overwhelming floods of appreciation for your partner and the gift they give you? For the life you get to build together, not necessarily perfect but unique and quirky to you two? Well, that’s me today loving and appreciating him. Looking forward to his return. And being incredibly grateful for the love we have. Safe travels home, my Love.

Horrified!

Yep, I was horrified when I looked back to see when my last blog post was.

September 2021!

Eeekkk! 6 months! Scary to see how much time has flown by.

Our world has been in a state of flux for some of that time with two kids coming home unexpectedly for a while between their adventures. Clearing out bedrooms to make space for all of their belongings to be added in. Even my precious studio has had the big rearrange so that son can have a space to continue working from home.

I now share my studio space with two VERRRY disciplined people. If I am being honest I would have to say that I stopped doing canvas work about the time of my last blog post due to sharing my space and not being very good at it. Although I like it tidy and organised, I do like to paint with music and noise humming away in the background. If the music grabs me you are just as likely to find me throwing down the brushes and picking up my viola for a play-a-long and dance session. ‘Whenever’ is a PERFECT time to get creative, whereas…

…I married my opposite , we produced another opposite and now both of those opposites have come to share my creative space. Don’t know if you can see any problem with that arrangement but from my perspective, it’s been a BIG challenge to learn to play nicely. Sometimes, I admit, I have just refused to play at all. Sometimes, I have thrown my toys out of the cot and let them know. Yes, you would be horrified! Eventually, though I have had to learn some hard truths about myself (like, I am who I am and He made me this way for a reason) and LEARN … yes, it’s a process which never ends … that I could be myself AND play nicely.

I am even having some thoughts float through my brain about learning from them. They are only with me for a season, right? Hubby will retire, son will move on to his next adventure, so for however long this season is, I might be able to learn a little of their diligence, discipline, and any other D-words that I have found daunting and distasteful in the past .

So, to that end, here I am again sharing my grateful drawings from this week (I have kept up diligently with those) and you may get some canvas work coming soon too. Just got to dust off the brushes and work on that discipline. So, adieu until next week …

Abundance

Abundance is “an amount that is more than enough” according to the Cambridge Dictionary. Enough is ” as much as is necessary; in the amount or to the degree needed’. Wikipedia joins in and says that need is ‘something that is necessary for an organism to live a healthy life. Needs are distinguished from wants’. Can I have abundance despite my need?

Is abundance determined by how much money we have in the bank or how many clothes in our closet? Is it determined by the quality of food on our table? Is abundance determined by society?

The story goes that a young man was made redundant and after having paid all his bills had just $5 left with a wife and three little children to feed. He came home having spent the precious $5 on a bunch of flowers for his beloved. She, understandably, wasn’t too happy. I was one of those children and watched my dad have an attitude of abundance even in the midst of need. I saw something that day worth my admiration.

Eckhart Tolle said,

‘Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.’

What do you think? Perhaps abundance comes because our mind is transformed by the acknowledging. Reality /what is may not change at all, but our perspective changes. Our perspective is what makes all the difference. We begin to see the world through a different lens… a lens of good, of positivity, of openness, of abundance. Perhaps it is this attitude that gives us the platform from which to see the good in our lives?

Glass half empty or glass half full?

Joyful in Sorrow

While chatting she asked the question, ‘Can you be both sad and grateful at the same time?’.It’s been percolating on the back burner ever since. Can I be sad and grateful together? Can I be joyful in sorrow? They seem diametrically opposed, but are they?

Once upon a time I would have said a definite ‘no’, but life happens and we learn lots. I wonder now if there is a case to be sad and grateful at the same time. Could I not be sad that something had/was/ was going to happen, but grateful at the same time for the future outcome that would come through this? You would have to have practiced this art of being grateful so that it was a part of your brain functioning. You would have to be able to see beyond your sad emotion. Not all of us are good at not letting our emotions be all encompassing. It’s an art, for sure, especially for the more feeling driven ones amongst us (my peeps). But is it a possibility?

Our Friday Sabbath meal saw me pouring the grape juice into the crystal goblets when, BAM! I was overcome with emotion. (Just to say, this is NOT my norm where communion is concerned, but that’s a whole ‘nother story) Such sadness welled up at seeing the deep red juice flowing freely. Quite different to being handed a little cup already poured or taking a sip from a common cup. This was flowing. This was large. Life-like. How much blood would he really have lost? Not just a little sip worth. How much sadness and grief did He have that his blood separated into blood and water? How much pleading with Father the night before to let this cup pass from me? And yet…

“For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2)

Had He come to the Garden of Gethsemane with thanksgiving first? The Jewish faith is full of thanksgiving and blessings. He knew the psalms well, that talked about coming into His presence with thanksgiving and a joyful noise. Had He learnt this art of gratefulness well enough to enable Himself to see past the imminent pain of death to His mortal body. I wonder how He prayed? I wonder if there’s a time when, even when the sorrow is all encompassing and overwhelming, that God can see that we are looking to Him as our hope.

But wasn’t that Jesus cry ? “Eli. Eli. Lama Sabachthani?” “My God. My God, why have you forsaken me?” Was His hope gone? And yet the book of Hebrews tell us there must have been some joy that was set before Him. ‘For the joy that was set before Him He endured the cross”.

Interestingly, the word Eucharist, which many parts of Christendom use for the partaking of bread and wine, comes from the Greek word ‘Eucharisteo’ meaning ‘thanksgiving’. That’s an interesting twist with our joy coming from His sorrow. Other names such as ‘The Lord’s Supper’, “Breaking of Bread’, or ‘Table of the Lord’ are easy to understand. The name ‘Communion’ comes from the word ‘communis’ or ‘common’. Common to all of us who are a part of the body of Christ. Those who share in accepting the redemption of our sins through Jesus’ sacrifice. My sins make me sorrowful. They make a wedge between me and Father. So, once again “For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross”. Was my joy part of what He saw?.

I do not pretend to know the answer to these ponderings. But in answer to her question, it would appear that yes, you can have joy and sorrow at the same time. You can be grateful in your sadness. You can train yourself to have a grateful outlook. You can move ahead in joy despite the grief assailing.

I see more lessons still to be learnt.

Just in Time

Yep, we were definitely just in time!

Just in time for our trip to Auckland to spend time with our kids before the country goes back into lockdown. Being grateful for things working out well… that hubby and I didn’t end up separated in different parts of the country, that we had this time together being able to give real physical hugs, before the virtual world returns.

In fact, the whole trip worked out well. Originally, it was just my darling dearest flying up to Auckland to attend the rugby game with the kids. Slowly it morphed into him coming up with me, bringing the caravan, me staying for a week and then him flying back up the following weekend, watching more rugby with the boys, and then travelling back home with me. Just in time for their rugby games too, it seems, as Australia gets hammered by the Delta.

We arrived in Auckland to be greeted by three kids under the weather. Our previous plans quickly thrown out the window and into ‘Mum’ mode. Cooking lots of vegetables, airing out rooms… Actually, it was quite a tonic for me. As they grow up, leave home, do well etc., (which we want them to do), it leaves a kind of a vacuum. Or is it just room for change? Whichever, it was lovely to be needed for a while.

As they each got better, we did things together, filling up the tank further. Lunches out, afternoon escapes, chats in the caravan, watching indoor netball games, trips to the beach, etc. I love to see them in their worlds and enjoy the success that is them. They are each so very individual and going in different directions. Interesting to watch considering they all had the same gene pool, same teacher for the first 15 years of their lives, etc. I can say we were adamant that each one had to be set up to have a base from which to reach their full potential, whatever that might be, and they are all doing that. So proud! And, of course, if I had been there this week we would not have been able to do any of these fun adventures, so just in time!

I got time to do some shopping and walking/exploring by myself as well. Always a bonus to visit the bigger stores when you live in a country area. Retail therapy is no longer on the cards for a while with this present lockdown, so once again ‘just in time’. Oakley Creek Walkway was a new discovery for this trip. I had it all to myself and the dogs, but as of today, if like the last big lockdown, it’ll probably be quite a busy little thoroughfare. Yet, again, just in time.

Selwyn Village lunch date with Janessa.

Now, we are safely home and remembering fondly. Lots of good feels tucked away in this Mama heart. And just in time to be ready for the next big adventure.

Just in Time ๐Ÿ™‚

What a Glorious Time! Pt. 4

Waking to another glorious day, I headed off with dogs all keen, to enjoy the morning sun on the freshly washed beach. That early morning sun on the beach is the elixir of life for me. I love it! However, it can be quickly drained away when rascally dogs don’t come when called. It is definitely gone when they are busy licking their lips in joyous rapture when you finally do get to them. ‘Joyous rapture’ means it must have been disgusting! Time for this walk to be cut short and him taken home.

Everybody fed and watered, we decided to venture to the far bank (true right) and see what was to see over there. Lots of fishing poles and eager people for a fresh fish dinner on one side of the sand dunes. And on the other a glorious wetland area, all tranquil and still. I had my paints out in a flash.

I know he looks like quite the gentleman in this photo but don’t be fooled. Hardly had my brush hit the canvas than this rascally dog began whining and complaining something awful. His ‘joyous rapture’ was turning to custard. After a massive throw-up from him, and still no reprieve from his whining, we decided to call it quits and take him home. Honestly, my sympathy was a zero, and my annoyance a full on 10, so I was never going to do a good painting anyways. Gotta control those emotions to paint well.

An hour after being home the next explosion came bringing the most foul-smelling rotten fish. What was he thinking?! Then another of all the sand he’d eaten along with it, and then yet another with froth and bile etc. TMI ? Too Much Information? Apologies, but I was seeing my painting day go swiftly down the drain due to his stupidity. Today I was ‘enjoying’ another of the elements that make outdoor painting such a full-on experience. I can say I showed up but, there was no painting from today. Things I just have to accept.

The girls left the next day, but not before we had a coffee and chocolate cake in the sun while we shared our work with each other. Critique is a really beneficial and important part of growing in your art. Who better to do it with than friends.

An afternoon of solitude at the campground (did not want to take that dog anywhere just yet) was a lovely way to emotionally finish my time with my painting buddies and prepare for the return of my darling dearest. Using photo references I was able to complete yesterday’s wetland painting. It’s never the same as actually being there but sometimes a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. Thanks Charlie, for the lesson.

What a Glorious Time Pt.3

Monday came up gray and cold. I guess it is winter after all. A very bitter southerly straight from Antartica. The locals were saying they had never seen it so cold. BUT, I had a dream and the show must go on. Surely us Tauponians could handle this?! I say ‘us’ because two painting buddies had come to share in the fun…yay!

Wrapped up against this artic blast, we headed off to what I thought was a more sheltered spot. Maybe it was, but on this day I don’t think anywhere was REALLY safe. It was truly raw! Even the seagulls were hunkered down and facing into the wind so they kept an element of body heat.

Today I wanted to paint the gentle eddy at the Rangitaiki river mouth. In summer I can imagine this would be full of children splashing and playing in its gentle water. Fresh water with a mix of salt. The sea breeze coming over the sand dunes to help cool everyone off. But today, we were the only muggins around. So while Claire took the dogs for a romp, Wendy and I set ourselves up and began to paint.

This would be a muted painting of mainly grays. The sky went in easily and well. All the shapes and colours for the far bank were good, except perhaps they were not gray enough. Here’s where those hundreds of hours practising would pay off (I’m not there yet, or otherwise I wouldn’t be in this predicament ๐Ÿ™‚ ). As I tried to apply a grayer tone to the first tone, definition of shapes were lost, which I then had to try and recover. The first paint you lay down for a small painting such as this, is the freshest. You can’t recover that freshness once you tamper with it. It’s a reminder for next time which means this painting was a success. I learnt.

But, oh my! How bitterly cold. Painting outdoors was no longer an option so we headed in to check out the studio of a local artist, Maree White. Always inspiring to see other’s journey and the work they are doing. She is planning some plein air workshops which look very exciting. Maybe, maybe…

True to form of this all-over-the-place winter, the next day came bearing bright sunshine that had all our layers gone and indulging in glorious sunshine. What a relief! So we made the most of it and headed over the sand dunes to the main beach. Spicing things up we had watercolour as our medium today. My lesson learned today was to keep my hand in things. For the past 3 months I haven’t touched my watercolour while I’ve been trying out the coloured pencils and primary colours, etc. Boy, did it show! I was all at 6’s and 7’s to start with. But by the time Wendy’s lesson in painting a log on the beach came, I had regained a bit of control.

Being a watercolour day we headed in to Whakatane to the botanical gardens where they have a gorgeous display of native trees. In the late afternoon winter sun, the play of light and shadows was quite enticing and we managed to wile away another hour or two until our longing for warmth and food got the better of us.

The warmth of the girl’s unit was the perfect place to finish the day with warm food and comaraderie. Sharing adventures with others doubles (and in this case triples) the joy. Loving the time with you, my friends. What shall we get up to tomorrow?

What a Glorious Time Pt.2

The storm has passed and we are back at Thornton Beach. We’d packed up the day before so that we could leave early and get straight into it, but on arrival I had such a severe case of the munchies that, while my darling unpacked, I had the cooker out and cooked us up a storm fit for kings living in paradise. With that out of the way I was much better able to focus on art and I had a plan.

Going back to the same spot that I’d drawn from last weekend, I sat again, but this time with my brand spanking new pochade box and plein air brushes. A generous gift from my family. Not a lick of paint on them but I know that was not what the family intended. It was time to christen them.

My plan was to divide a canvas into four and do each scene from last weekend in a small oil vignette. Starting out small means I have to eliminate loads of detail. Big shapes only. The impression of. It’s more of a study allowing time to get colours right and determine light and shadows and is supposed to take approx 20 minutes each. With my darling, and very patient man taking the dogs for a two hour ramble up the beach, I was able to stay focused and really enjoy the process.

As a tip, Pizza boxes make very good places to put wet oil paintings while they dry. From experience I can tell you that wet paint throughout your car is NOT a good thing. So, the next morning we went in to Whakatane, approximately 15 minutes drive away, and indulged in pizza for lunch while purchasing some clean boxes for storing my paintings from this trip. A bench seat on the Whakatane River provided the next spot to draw from.

Once again I discover the same issue as last weekend of wrong perspective. That viewing deck is supposed to be much higher. It still wasn’t right after two goes so I made the very wise decision to turn the page and start over.

My confidence had taken a knock, so I nursed myself along by allowing pencil so I could erase if necessary and correct. Interestingly, once I had relieved that pressure I did it just fine and didn’t have to erase anything. I was actually really pleased, especially with the shading on the boats.

Feeling emotionally bouyant again, I tackled the back of the Whakatane main street shops. So many lovely angles butting up against each other and all nestled in the colourful cliffs rising close behind. No pencil now but straight into the ink and coloured pencil. Getting those impressions down on paper.

Two days done and, sadly, I had to say goodbye to my knight in shining armour. Someone has to pay the bills while I flounce around the countryside with paintbrushes in hand. I love sharing the experiences with him.Not only is he incredibly patient while I dither on about the light here and the colours there, but he’s my best friend. However, another art adventure awaits me tomorrow, so there’s no time for pinning. Until tomorrow then…