Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013

"Clouds over the lake" by Hilary J. England
8" x 10" oil on canvas, 2013
This is the last painting of 2013.  It is number 2 in my 100 cloud studies...this, the last painting of 2013. Usually, I feel a slight twinge of sadness knowing that the year is over, never to return, now filed away in the forgotten cabinets of history, only to be dusted off and remembered in fragments.  I picture the old year as an old man, breathing out his last at midnight.  If it was a good year, people are joyous and hopeful.  If it was a bad year, people are more subdued and fervent with desperation that the next year will bring better fortune.  2013, unfortunately, was the latter.

I wish I could say 2013 was "lucky 13" for me, but as a whole, it was a sad year.  Sure, I was lucky, at the beginning, to escape a cancer diagnosis of my own, but Mark was literally diagnosed within a month of that episode with terminal cancer, and the following month we suddenly and horrifyingly lost Isaac on Mother's Day, all in the midst of a very chaotic and painful move from our B&B that we adored, and in that very week, the week of Isaac's funeral, my lovely cousin lost her own full term baby during a stillbirth.  It was traumatic to say the least.

On the positives, we were given a new, beautiful baby Isaac Jr. to warm our hearts. He doesn't replace his Dad, but he sure was a very wonderful piece of Heaven to be given as a final "piece" of Isaac Sr.  My sister Dale also had a beautiful bouncing baby boy, and my sister Jill got married in a beautiful wedding ceremony. We moved into a fine new townhouse, and after being here for a few months, really have come to love the quiet of having our home be our "own" versus the hustle and bustle of our Inn.  I made some very nice friends in town, including my new pal Craig, who has been a very big blessing.

So, we count our blessings, try to accept our pain without bitterness or the hindrance of cynicism, and just move forward.  We don't know what 2014 will bring, but we start off with a glowing hope for a wonderful year to look forward to!  I feel it in my heart that 2014 will be a year of great accomplishments and amazing new opportunities.

If I have learned any one thing through the years, it is to be grateful to be alive.  Life is a gift, and each new day is a gift.  It may be cliche, but it sure is true.  I am thankful for my beautiful and wonderful family, of whom I would never trade or change, lol, and for the many, many blessings and advantages my Lord has gifted me with, including the fact I was born into the "wealthiest" nation on Earth.  Thank you Lord, for the multitude of blessings, but mostly, for your personal gift of salvation.  That gift in itself is so wonderful, there are no words.  With that bright thought, I wish you all a wonderful, peaceful, healthy and prosperous New Year 2014!  God bless and keep you :-)

Monday, December 30, 2013

Head in the clouds

"Study of clouds approaching sunset" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 10" 2013


I've been working on cloud studies these last few days, and think I will continue to.  I have decided to do 100 small studies of clouds, and 100 small studies of trees, because these things interest me, and keep my mind "limber." So, I have started these yesterday.

This was what I saw off of Hawk Mountain.  Just lovely!  I hope you enjoy it as well.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Old barn in the countryside

"Old barn in the countryside" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 11" x 16", 2013

I painted this painting rather metaphorically.  The old barn is me, me in the countryside, but no matter how old and dilapidated I feel sometimes, there is a beauty to every season of life, and always a breakthrough, because God is always near, so there is always a beauty in life, even when it's hard to see through the storms.

Christmas always reminds me of the beauty of God's love for us, by sending His son to us, and loving us that much.  I have children, and the thought of the sacrifice involved with God's love offering to us is so enormous, it is hard to fathom sometimes.  It makes me humble and so grateful to know the tremendous power and love of a personal deity that is love incarnate.  Christmas is such a beautiful time of year, filled with the power of love, which is the Holy Spirit. It makes me so thankful for all that I have been blessed with, but most of all, that I know God, and that Jesus is my Lord and Savior.

I pray for the love of God to be with each of you, and that you may also come to know the deep love and sanctifying relationship of accepting Jesus.  It is a decision I made long ago, and a decision that I have never regretted, and will be thankful for through all of eternity.  May the peace and beauty of Christ be with you through this Christmas, and the new year to come!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Old year 2013

"Gray day" by Hilary J. England
8" x 10" oil on canvas, 2013

The snow has melted off, and now it is a balmy 62 degrees here in PA, strange for Christmas, but somehow nice and comforting.  The clouds rolled in, and yet, the feeling of happiness is still here, as we approach the end of 2013.  It was a hard year, very hard.  I know in my heart 2014 will be a good one, full of potential, promise, and progress.  I just feel it inside.  Last year, it was strange, but I knew 2013 would be a hard year, and it could be as obvious as it being the number "13," or just a gut feeling I had, and it proved to be so. But, this new year, well, I just think it will be a good one.

So, here is a little local landscape "Gray day" of the late Autumn/early winter fields in the grayness of a gentle rainy day.  I do love the gray, as much as I love the sun and the azure blues of a clear day, all things work together to be beautiful.

Enjoy~

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Relaxation

"Little hands" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 10" 2013


Well, it is the lull before the holiday "storm," haha!  Only a few days until the little kids can rip into their gifts, so between the snowstorms, I am holding down the fort!

The tree is up, the cookies baked, the house is decorated, the gifts are wrapped, so I feel pretty good ;-)  Now that all of the holiday stress is off, I have been quietly working away on my new series, and that requires a lot of figure studies, etc.  I began to study the little kids' hands, since children's hands are quite different from adults, in that they are so juicy and chubby, and that is a much harder look to capture than lean adult hands, or bony elderly hands, etc.

So, here is a little study I painted of two chubby little kids' hands.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!
I hope you do too!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Almost Christmas!

Wow, we are getting into the home stretch here!  I can't believe how fast this month flew by, and how we are nearly to Christmas and New Year.  Trust me, I am very happy about that :-)  I love the Christmas season, and New Year is always a blessing.  Each year is a gift!

I am really looking forward to 2014.  I have a feeling it will be an amazing year!  I am excited to do the artist's residency in Bucharest, Romania, for the summer (I think I mentioned this earlier!).  Just in case, I will rehash it:  I was one of 20 artists gifted to spend June/July 2014 in Sibiu, through the Dacia Gallery, New York City.  It should be an amazing experience, intensive study and all, as the Carpathian mountains and Transylvania have always been so very mysterious and interesting to me. 

I also plan to spend October in Berlin and Paris, so I have many blessings to look excitedly to, besides the wonderful blessings of family and friends I have as a constant in my life.

I would like to wish everyone a wonderful and blessed Christmas and Happy New Year 2013 just in case I let the time slip by and don't check in.  Blessings to you and your families for 2014!!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The barren field

"The barren field" by Hilary J. England
8" x 10" oil on canvas, 2013
Winter is upon us, suddenly it seems.  This painting is of a local barren field, with all of the colors of Autumn still around, but not now.  Now all is covered in the first layers of Winter, in the delicate icy snow of our first inclement weather.

I have been very busy working, and that's great, because it's what I love.  I hope you have a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Enjoy~

Thursday, November 21, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!"
12" x 16" acrylic on canvas


Here is a fun painting I did in a "Paint and Sip" group.  We had a lovely time, and even though I don't "sip" (that is, I only sip water haha), I certainly love the painting and the being around a lovely group of people, so it was a really fun night!  Each person has their own personal interpretation of the idea, and here was mine--all whimsy, kitsch, and nostalgia--that's how I love the holidays!

Enjoy!


Friday, November 15, 2013

Little Schuylkill in Autumn

"Study of Little Schuylkill in Autumn" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 10" 2013
Hooray!  We finally got rid of the worst internet service on the planet (Hughesnet) and got a good service provider, so for the first time in six months, I actually have a good internet connection.  It's awesome...funny how you take simple things for granted until they are gone!

I am moving full steam ahead with several projects, and am looking forward to some really great opportunities that are coming shortly.  I will post more particulars as they come along.

So, here is a little painting of the Little Schuylkill in Autumn.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Autumn birch tree in the Blue Mountains

"Study of Autumn birch tree in the Blue Mountains" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 10" 2013
It's been crazy hard for me these last few weeks, but I am pushing through.  I refuse to remain down, and have plans that I have put into action, and this is bringing me much needed comfort.  I have started the new series, and unfortunately ran into some set-backs concerning equipment, but I also look forward to getting this corrected within the next week or two, so patience is my friend right now.

I leave you with this little painting of the lovely sights around my "neck of the woods."  Enjoy!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Sunset over the cranberry bog

"Study of sunset and the Cranberry bog" by Hilary J England, 2013
oil on canvas, 8" x 10"

I have been working away on my bigger series, which is good, but here is a quick little study I did of a dramatic scene at the Cranberry bog.  The dead tree that was submerged looked both beautiful, interesting and lonely, plus I am enamored with dramatic colors, so this was a fun and interesting little painting to create.

Enjoy~

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sweet dreams



"Sleeping beauty" by Hilary J. England
clay sculpture, 2013

I have officially started sculpting. I have wanted to for a long time.  It would eat away at the back of my brain, constantly there, and always nagging at me.  I remember being in Barcelona and looking at some of the contemporary sculpture there, and thinking, "I would absolutely love to start sculpting," but the time slipped by, and I always found a reason not to:  I didn't have the equipment, I didn't have the training, yada yada yada.  So, about a month ago, I just decided to end the excuses, pick up the basic equipment, make an armature, and today, viola:  My first attempt.  Not too shabby if I do say so myself.  I only worked on it for 2 hours, and it's a pretty large bust, almost 2 feet in height.  And wow, did I enjoy it!

I won't say who this is, as I worked on this piece completely from instinct, with no references, no photos, just my memory to aid me in the creation  I just dug into the creamy clay, and my mind went into its own direction. This piece is not finished yet, but I am happy with the progress of it, especially as it is my first attempt at a sculptural portrait, and have never had any training in sculpture at all.  I have just been devouring every book on sculpture I can lay my hands on in preparation to begin working in the medium, and I must say, I feel like a fish in water.  This medium seems to come pretty naturally to me.  This gives me encouragement to pursue it as another artistic expression, and one that I will devote a lot of attention to.

I figured I would take some pictures, because they help me to see what changes I want to make, what needs to be altered (and I can see some things right off that I want to change/correct), and helps give me a comparison record to employ as the sculpture progresses.  I noticed one thing right off the bat that gave me a chuckle that needs correcting, but that is what is great about taking a photo: it gives a neutral perspective, kind of like a "third party."  Wonderful!

So, now it's time to clean up, catch a quick dinner, and head up into my studio to work on some paintings.  Have a nice night!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Stonehedge in Autumn

"Stonehedge in Autumn" 2013 by Hilary J. England
Oil on canvas, 8" x 10" 
I have been working away, now that I have my space set up in the basement for my sculpting studio.  I also put my jewelry bench in, as I am starting to make a series of sterling silver art jewelry pieces, and I absolutely love doing that as my hobby. Look for my posts as I start adding jewelry pieces for sale as well.  I love jewelry inspired by nature and fantasy, so I am looking forward to turning out some interesting pieces soon.

I had alot of problems with my photography again, haha, my old nemesis, the camera, when it comes to getting some quick photos up of this last little plein air piece.  I started this at Stonehedge during the Fall festival, but then the weather turned windy, cold and rainy, so I packed it in, and did the last bit of it at home in studio from memory.  So, it's sort of a half-and-half piece: half plein air, half par coer.  A hybrid!

Enjoy!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Work and the tidal wave

"Bug buddies" Clay sculpture, 8" x 11", 2013, by Hilary J. England

I have started working on my new series, and it is wonderful to be back on track.  I was nearly rolled by the tidal wave of clinical depression, but I am fighting hard to keep moving, to keep my head above water, to not sink into that pit.

Mark has been holding steady, and we take things day-to-day.  I just try to make sure that I can put my game face on, and keep on track for the schedule I have.  I also am starting to do some volunteer teaching at the Tamaqua Arts Center, because I know one of the best ways to mentally feel better is to give back to others.  I will teach a 2 hour beginner's drawing class there once a week, and that helps the community by helping the kids learn some wonderful new skills rather than play video games, haha.

I have been working on these therapeutic little clay sculptures, as a warm-up to the bigger sculptures I am about to undertake for my series.  I always loved primitive art, folk art, and fantasy realm stories like from Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, etc., and it was in this frame of mind I did these kitschy little primitive sculptures.  They help lighten my mood, and cheer me up.  I hope they do the same for you! The first one is entitled "Bug buddies."  Enjoy :-)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Little Lovers

"Little lovers" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 11" 2013

It's been very busy, and I am slow to upload my paintings for the last two weeks, but I am finding my way back on track, hooray!

I have several upcoming shows I am prepping for, and trying to upgrade my studio at the same time, so I am one busy mama!  This is the first time I uploaded a painting I photographed with my phone, since someone (I won't name names LOL) used my camera, and left it on, and of course, when I went to use it, the battery was dead.  Not to break my stride and put my whole day behind, I decided to attempt to photo today's session with my cell.  Not horrible, but not terrific either, but it will have to do ;-)

So, here is my painting, "Little lovers" as I am warming up to start my new series of paintings, digital artwork, and 3-D artwork.  I am really excited to finally have gotten over my "block" of what my new series would be, but it came to me like a lightning bolt (I love that!) and now I am ready and anxious to begin!! This painting is just a warm up study, and not part of the series, but as I start working in a series, I start doing little studies of subjects that are somehow related, even if its just the genre, such as figurative work.  This series of course will be a social realist, largely figurative series, so I have started moving into that direction with my studies.

So, have a wonderful day, and Enjoy!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Chickens!

"Study of chickens in the flower garden"
8" x 10" oil on canvas, 2013
Hilary J. England

I have been offline for a bit, as we have been having a terrible time with our internet service in this area, so this has given me more time to just relax and work on new projects I had been hoping to explore, such as new jewelry pieces and designs, and sculpting in clay, etc.  Very exciting!

Here is a little artwork inspired by my friend C, and his pullets.  These are not the pullets, but grown chickens, but I am in a "chickeny" mood from all of this talk about chickens, pullets, hen houses, and fresh eggs.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Towhead picking poppies

"Towhead picking poppies" by Hilary J. England
8" x 10" oil on canvas, 2013


I am continuing to move into the mindset of painting a large, multi-person portrait, with mother and four children.  This requires a very certain frame of mind, and to start the warm-up, to get the "juices" flowing in my mind, I have begun to limber up with small studies in the realm of where I need to be.

This study, "Towhead picking poppies" is another whimsical painting I did to get my mind into the area of expression that I feel is in the direction of where I am going with this.  Children in a natural environment, organic poses, etc.  As Anthony says, no Victorian stiffness, haha.  A more expressive, true, and honest perception.

So, I am gathering my thoughts, and am building my momentum up.  I will probably work for at least another week or two in this subject matter to be sure that I feel prepared to embark onto the project.  It will be a very large piece, and that in itself takes a substantial amount of energy to prepare for and to actually execute.  I haven't done a substantially large piece in over a year, so the time has arrived to jump back in.

Enjoy~

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Happy Labor Day!

"The red hat" by Hilary J. England
8" x 11" oil on canvas, 2013


I've started messing around with doing some whimsical paintings again.  I saw a young woman in the park with a giant red hat, which just screamed for attention, yet she seemed uncomfortable with both the hat and the day in general.  When she turned her back to me, I got to studying her hat and her silhouette against the bright, hazy blue sky, and thought: without seeing her face, the mystery of her story is very intriguing.  She can have so many things, either positive or negative, that are affecting her, and yet, with her back against the plane of vision, and her face to the sky, she is an enigma.

So, she could have heaven or hell seething in her eyes, she could have just won the lottery, or gotten a break-up e-mail from her boyfriend...we never know what is happening in the privacy behind the curtain or veil of our faces.  So, I painted the red hat.

I'll probably start doing some more figurative work, since I have some portrait commissions to complete, and much like an actor, I like to stay in character while I am working on a project.  So, that should be both interesting and challenging for me.

In the meantime, enjoy the end-of-Summer Labor Day holiday!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

School days are here again!

"Happy cows in the farm field" by Hilary J. England
8" x 10" oil on canvas, 2013

 School has started, and I am thankful for that. As much as I loved spending my summer with my little sweetheart Madeleine, the summer was a stressful time, waiting for the arrival of our new baby little Isaac, and all of the other tests we were put to. Now, it's time to relax and get back into the routine and rhythm of things, as much as possible.

 Anthony is a college freshman, Noelle is a high school senior, Maddie is in first grade, and Bronnie is a preschooler! The whole gang is on the path to educational enlightenment! I have started to plant our Autumn garden with Anthony's assistance.

 We put up our birdfeeders, and are planting lettuces, cabbage, brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and beets. I am looking forward to growing the garden, because it is such a soothing hobby to me, even with my bad back.  I enjoy growing (I let Anthony do all of the muscle work haha), and then taking that produce and preserving it by canning or other methods. The Fall is such a relaxing season, with so many cool evenings and lovely and colorful days to look forward to.

 So, here is one of the end of Summer paintings, of some relaxed cows hanging in the farm field. The sky was so blue, and the cows looked very serene in their pasture. Enjoy~

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Back to school!

So, summer is winding down, and what a summer it was. I am sitting here in the cancer center with Mark, as he starts a new round of different treatment. The folfirinox was status quo, so now he will start with Gemzar and abraxane, and we hope for better results. The center is lavish and swank, and the nurses are very pleasant. It's almost like being in a spa, except with a dark reason for being here instead of just looking to refresh and relax. But, we try to move on. I have been operating on about three hours of sleep a night, with Gabby and the babies staying for several nights, and the gaggle of teenagers and young adults coming in and out at late hours, so I am so thankful for school starting on Monday! Anthony started college last Monday, and that was stressful as well, but, God is good, and Anthony actually got paid to go to school, with his grants and scholarships, he had over $1,100 left over with NO loans, and that money was used to purchase his textbooks and supplies, as he is living at home. He is very blessed that the campus is literally five minutes from our house, and he also has an amazing schedule of Monday thru Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. straight through, and taking 15 credits a semester. Baby Isaac arrived safely, and that is a huge weight off my shoulders, and although this summer was extremely tense and difficult with all that was going on, I had the wonderful privilege of spending it with Maddie, and those memories are so precious to me. We have had all sorts of other annoying issues that seem to irritate us all when we least need it, but that is life I suppose. I am just grateful for the good things in my life, which is the people who I love, and look forward to things leveling back out to some degree and semblance of my previous routine, in the next week or two. Again, God is good, and I am just thankful for knowing that.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Scent of Fall

"Twilight with wildflowers"
8" x 10" oil on canvas 2013

Summer is rapidly coming to a close.  Anthony starts college next week, and I am so happy for him.  Noelle starts senior year the following week, and has some big plans for after high school as well, and Gab is looking forward to having her baby, and relaxing at home with her two little ones, after the others go to school.  For me, I look to the Fall for some good times and changes as well--after all, if you aren't moving forward, you are moving backwards!

I should have my car back this week, and although I thought that would make all of the difference, it doesn't seem to.  I can't really think offhand any place I really need or want to go to, but I'm sure having a car will just make things more convenient.  I have some good plans for this Fall in terms of activities I want to pursue, and am excited at the prospect of changes of new things to come.

So, with that, here is a  little painting, done while Maddie chased butterflies in the field with Kitty Softpaws, the neighborhood cat.  Enjoy~

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Passages

"Sheep on a rockwall"
8" x 10" oil on canvas, 2013


Maddie has been helping me out, but of course, I get very little rest while she is here, as she is a nonstop maelstrom of energy, and my 43 year old psyche finds it hard to keep up with.  I try to think back to when I was that age, a six year old, and tap into that inner child, but sometimes that little being is so far away, it's hard to break through the barriers that have been erected by decades of adulthood.  Still, I am like a moth to a flame--I can see echoes of my childhood reflected in her eyes, hear the faint laughter of long ago in her giggles, see my hints of who I am in her budding journey.

We go to the "ocean" everyday, which is the Little Schuylkill river, and she is enchanted with it.  We also go on long walks to the outskirts of town, and there we pick sites we find interesting to work in.  I'll admit, most of the time she just watches me intently, like she is attached to my body.  She was looking over my shoulder so closely yesterday, she lost balance and fell on top of me, LOL.  Of course, being a grouchy artist, I chastised her and told her to get back to her own work, haha.  She takes it all in stride.

Here is yesterday's painting:  "Sheep on the rock wall."  The animals and farms, especially on the edge of town, really fascinate her, and me as well.  I love how she is so appreciative and fascinated of life and all of its wonders, things that we adults become numb to, and no longer see or appreciate.  Having no car for the summer has really put things into perspective as well--what's truly important, and what is not.  Spending time with the ones you love, actually spending the time and not just passing it as you prepare to race to your next meaningless chore or task, is what I have gained.  I lost that insight from years of "convenience" and never having to wait on things.  Without a car, I have to wait on things, and it takes much longer to get to where you plan to if you are on foot, or waiting for your ride, and that gives me time to reflect, and to plan my outings better, so that I have more quality time.  So, it was a blessing inside of the "curse."

So, that's it for today.  Enjoy~

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Rain and Fog

"Somber tree, happy flowers"
8" x 10" oil on canvas, 2013


The day started off foggy and somber, for Uncle Bob's festive birthday, but not one to be mastered by the weather, pavilions and tents were set up to keep the party-goers dry.  I am looking forward to attending, even if it is now later than I expected.

I saw this tree, with a field of cultivated flowers, and it was somber in the fog.  I wondered what was wrong with it, that all of the leaves had fallen away, leaving a spiderweb of delicate branches, not yet abused and broken by the elements.  The death must have been recent, as the tree once had thrived.  It reminded me of recent events, the fog, the unforeseen events, with the deceptively beautiful flowers all about, cultivated and controlled, but never really.  We only think we control things, but we know deep inside that is an illusion.

It put me in a pensive mood, so I painted a pensive sort of a picture, yet, it still has an element of laughter just ready to burst through the fog and mist, just beneath the surface, because all fog clears, all clouds lift, all rain goes away eventually, and the sun comes back, and life moves on.

Enjoy~

Friday, August 2, 2013

Days on the farm

"Chickens on the sunflower farm"
8" x 10" oil on canvas, 2013

I have been interested in the farms lately.  Actually, I'm always intensely interested in the farms, not just lately, but I have begun to enjoy painting farm life, whereas before I enjoyed the fruits of labor from the local farms, but never really found myself too deeply interested in that vocation.  I was always intrigued by rural living, as a person who was born and raised in New York City, so rural town living was always fascinating to me, but I never pursued past the town living into the farm areas, and there are so many nice farms around here.  So, I began to explore this idea went I would make my weekly visits to the local sustainable agricultural farms, and so I started doing some little studies there.

Tomorrow will be a fun time, with a hayride  for Maddie to enjoy, and lots of other kids at Uncle Bob's 80th birthday party, and I am looking forward to my little love coming back to assist me in my studio, and give me hugs as we watch movies every night.  She makes me very happy just having her with me, she cheers my heart.  She loves all of the things that we visit and do, as the world is still wondrous, new, and unconditionally beautiful to her six year old heart and mind.  Her happiness and curiosity fans the flames of my soul with tenderness and hope, so I am excited for her to be back with me again, because she gives me purpose and her happiness is contagious.

So, enjoy these fine summer days, and enjoy this little painting of the chickens on the sunflower farm.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day to day

"Fennel and vinegar bottle"
8" x 10" oil on canvas, 2013

The dog days are here.  I have been feeling a bit cagey, and having all of my tech go kaput in unison hasn't helped.  My laptop has been acting kooky, my internet service through Verizon works when it feels like it, and every time it rains, my satellite decides it will go take a vacation.  Go figure!

In spite of that, and the nonstop chatter of my 6 year old studio assistant, I was able to get a painting finished, haha.  So, that's a feat in itself!

Enjoy :-)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Storms and reflections

"Storm over the wildflowers"
8" x 10" oil on canvas, 2013

The heat has been blistering, but I feel blessed to have an air conditioned studio for the first time in years!  For so long I would schedule working in my studio around the cooler parts of the day, or if I was in a time crunch, work through the heat, as if I lived in a tropical region, with the fans slowly and crookedly spinning overhead, flies buzzing my head because I had to keep the doors open to prevent the area from becoming an inferno...yes, I am blessed to have air conditioning now.  It may not be a very strong air conditioner, but it makes the studio 77 degrees versus 100 degrees.  Quite a difference!!

So, that means I can enjoy working at my leisure, and that is a wonderful feeling too.  The summer moves on, and these lazy days give me pause to reflect, not on the negative, but on the positive.  I feel assured that there are still wonderful things to come, and that gives me hope, happiness, and confidence to enjoy these days and the moments, as we move through this corridor of change. Change is uncomfortable, and sometimes downright painful and scary, but this continuing evolution is more quiet, more subtle.  That can either be more maddening or more frightening, but I choose to perceive it more as a respite, and a gift, an oasis in the turbulence that is life.

I am finishing up one last painting in my old series, and then, I will begin a new series, and I am looking forward to beginning that next week.  I feel confident this will also be the genesis of a powerful new part of my life.  That fills me with excitement, and gratitude for all I have experienced, both negative and positive.  Without the negative, there can be no appreciation or positive, like the development of a photograph.

So, with that, I will leave you with this little plein air painting, "Storm over the wildflowers."  It is appropriate for what I am feeling now, for where I feel I am at.  The storms come, yet they are beautiful even in their fearful power, as they water and nourish and foster the beauty of all they drench in their rains.  The wildflowers could never be so beautiful, lush, and fragrant if they were only exposed to sunny days, and that is the same with us.  All of the cool and warm greens, oranges, yellows and violets could never be so vibrant and captivating if the sun shone on them constantly, if there was never storms to cool their glorious colors, rainfall and wind to buffer and batter their stems and petals, making them stronger and more resilient, more majestic to behold...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A taste of Autumn

"Mums and a pumpkin"
oil on canvas, 8" x 10", 2013
Ah, a little taste of Autumn, my favorite season.  I enjoy all of the seasons, but there is just something about the fall that is irresistible to me.  The colors, the weather, the scent of it, and just the feel of the fall always exhilarated and invigorated me, and I definitely need some invigoration with this constant back pain.

So, while enjoying the summer, I also am looking forward to the beautiful weather of the Autumn. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Isaac

"Isaac"
12" x 16" oil on canvas, 2013
I have finally completed Isaac's portrait.  It was hard to get it finished with Maddie around, because like all little kids, she can't sit still for more than a minute, and I really found it hard to concentrate.  It doesn't matter though now, since it's done.

Now, I will varnish it tomorrow, and then frame it.  It was a sad portrait to paint, but I'm glad to have done it.It helped me to work through some of the sadness and pain, and know that this painting will be something his Mother keeps close to her heart.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

"Isaac" Day 3
12" x 16" oil on canvas
I'm about 3/4ths the way through this painting.  Now I will be adding highlights and deeper shadows, refining the transitions, and fine tuning little things.  I put the painting to dry, because I usually glaze and scumble a lot at this stage of the painting, and I need it to be dry. Of course, getting a photo indoors was next to impossible because my fill lights are in the basement (and I'm too lazy to haul them to my studio) and my tripod is in the car (and I'm too lazy to go out there and get it) but this was not too bad, enough for you to get the idea of where I'm at.  I really enjoyed doing this painting, I feel like I was able to let loose some of my pain and grief associated with his untimely death, in a most positive way.  I felt as if he was guiding me through the creative process, telling me what he "liked" and didn't like, etc.  It was actually very peaceful and comforting.

Well, today of course is the 4th of July, or for those who don't know, Independence Day.  I am looking forward to enjoying this day with some old friends, my family, a ton of little screeching kids, an awesome BBQ and of course, some fireworks.  Have fun all, stay safe and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Work and rain

"Isaac" Day 2
12" x 16" oil on canvas
It's good to record my progress as I go along.  I usually am lazy about photoing my progress, but I decided to be a little more disciplined about it, and it helps me to make changes to the painting as I see it through "different eyes."  The old trick used to be to turn the painting to the wall for a few days, but when you don't have  a few days to take your leisure, this works as well.

I still get teary when I start painting this portrait, but after a little while, I kind of "commune" with him, and it's not sad, but a bit comforting.  I know he is in Heaven, so that helps, somewhat.  I figure a few hours a day for the next few days and the painting should be completed.  This weather is helpful, because I don't have to juggle going outside to do some landscapes, I can just concentrate on studio work.  Maybe I'll be finished in sooner than expected if I knuckle down, haha.  I have a 4th of July party to attend tomorrow so that will slow things up for a day at least.

So, I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July, and stay safe!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tenderness

"Isaac" start of portrait, 7/2/2013


I started working on Isaac's portrait today...posthumous paintings are always hard, both from a technical and emotional standpoint, especially this one, one of a person that was so young, one that was so close to us.  I knew this was going to be a heartbreaker, so I kind of avoided doing it, and I just knew, I can't avoid it any longer.

I cried the entire time I did the foundation of the painting.  How could this have happened?  The question that just never can be answered still reverberates in my mind.   He left so many heartbroken people behind.  Yes, he left as a "heartbreaker."  He would have felt  a little smug and proud to know so many women had their hearts broken, but not in a mean way, he was always a "ladies man," haha.  But, he was a little boy in his heart.  I wept as I draw the curve of his nose, exactly like Maddie's, the big eyes, just like all of his precious children.  The thought pains me so deeply of how with his sudden departure he left Gabby so lost, his Mother looking for him in every corner, every glimpse, every young man that walks by, Bronson asking "Where's Daddy?"

I know this painting will help me to work through some of the pain I have for his death, some, not all.  It is therapeutic for me, as I communicate with him through the process.  I hope the finished painting will bring joy to his Mom, and to the other loving family and friends that were devastated by his loss.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cabin fever

"Yarrow and wildflowers by the stream" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 10" 2013
I feel caged today, I'm not sure why.  I woke up and finished some more mundane stuff, and went to paint, but was rained out, so finished up at home, and for whatever reason, that irritated me.  No particular reason, just in general.  I must be PMSing or something, haha.

I've been feeling a little down in general for the last several days, just feeling frustrated like I'm not getting anywhere, just treading water.  I hate being in a "holding pattern," so that could be it...I always feel that if I'm not "catapulting" forward, I'm going backwards--I'm not the most patient person in the world, so most of my life lessons seem to deal with having to wait on things, and that makes me frustrated still, even after all of this time.  So, I'm just a crab apple for the last day or so.  It'll pass.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my little streamside painting of yarrow and wildflowers, which are some of the very beautiful gifts of Summer I look forward to every year.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Flowers and happy days

"Lighthouse and flowers at dusk" by Hilary J England
oil on canvas, 8" x 10" 2013

This painting is was done from studies of a little lighthouse during our travels.  My husband loves lighthouses, and thinking of one of our trips to the beach, I decided to go ahead and do some transfers into oil.  This is the first one.  I had the darndest time trying to photograph it!  I may try again later or tomorrow.

So, tomorrow we go to Philadelphia in hopes of hearing a new game plan for him.  We are hoping the pancreatic cancer specialist has some hopeful interventions, and we are looking forward to spending the day together in Philadelphia afterwards, and having a nice meal and enjoying the day.

That's it for today, my back is still giving me fits, but there's not a whole lot I can do about it, so I pray, and go about my day.  I know it's got to get better soon, it's just hard waiting through the misery.  I just focus on happy things and happy times, like tomorrow!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Gray

"Study of tide pools and flowers on a foggy day" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas panel, 8" x 10", 2013
Dreaming of the beach again!  Recalling the beauty of Cape Cod, and still missing it.  This painting was done in recollection of New England, based on watercolor sketches I had done there.  I had quite a few, and this particular one I really enjoyed, and thought the transfer to oil would be nice.  I might do a bigger in-studio landscape based on these, but I'm still considering yet, and am working on some commissions, so that idea will have to remain in the think-tank until I'm finished up in the next week or two.

Maddie went home yesterday, and I really feel quite lonely without her.  I didn't realize how sweet it is to have a little one around again, and how she is so adorable, working with me, soaking everything up like a little sponge, her innocent curiosity and joy.  It's such a wonderful gift, to have a child!  I can't wait until she comes back to stay with me again.

So, it's back to the usual for me.  I didn't realize how quiet things are until she went home, and now I decided to just get as much done as possible, to fill that void.  So, I have lots of plans for the next few weeks!

Until tomorrow, I hope you enjoy the little seascape!  :-)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Sweet days

"Path through the wildflowers" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas panel, 8" x 10", 2013
I've had Maddie with me this last week, and what a treat that's been, even if she does tucker me out with her six year old's energy.  She loves to come paint with me, walk the dog, go swimming, blow her bubbles, and the world is still a beautiful place, even in spite of anything sad or bad.  What a wonder children are.  I sometimes forget we all started like that.

So, I'll keep it brief, since she is waiting for me, with her bubbles, and her coloring books!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Daydreaming

"Rocks and roses" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 10" 


I was daydreaming back to the whales at Cape Cod, and the beaches of New England.  I long to be there, with every fiber of my being.  So, here is a little painting from then, and I can be a mental traveler until I get the opportunity to travel back to those shores.

I have been busy, trying to forget this pain.  It helps sometimes, but not at night.  Then, it becomes a battle to sleep, and I wake up cranky and exhausted.  I'm just glad school is done, so I don't feel that pressure as well. I look forward to this summer being a good one~

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer days

"Precarious (cherries on a wing plate)" by Hilary J. England
8" x 10" oil on canvas panel
I've been very busy with Maddie, and that is very nice.  We've done all sorts of neat things, and I was even able to paint a little still life, as she painted her own, and ate up our all of our cherries/props.  Photographing it has been another story, since I did it in a rush, and I lost all of the midtones in the photo, but, I think you get the jist!!

So, now I'm off for another action packed adventure with Miss Maddie.  Enjoy!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Clouds and silver linings

"Study of clouds and cherry blossoms" by Hilary J. England
Oil on canvas panel, 8" x 10" 2013


Well, tomorrow is graduation, I can't believe it!  I'm ready for it, and for this leg of my educational journey to be done.  Now, continue on....who knows?  Just not right now.  Maybe in a few months or so, after I catch my breath.

I have been very keen on the beautiful, vibrant colors of the foliage and flowers yesterday, particular clouds, their shadows, and their splendid range of infinite colors and shapes!  This little painting reflects that, and I very much enjoyed painting this one.  My neck and back are still not in very good condition, but I kept my head pretty level, and the clouds were just magnificent!

Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lemony

"Lemons on a wooden table" by Hilary J. England
8" x 10" oil on canvas panel, 2013


I guess I feel like life has thrown some lemons at me lately.  But, in the spirit of that, I decided to do a little lemon still life.  I won't get corny and say something about lemonade, LOL.  My modus operandi used to be throw some tequila back with those lemons, but not so anymore.  Now, I will just paint the lemons, and make them what I want them to be...beautiful even if they were painful, and mysterious, because God made them.

It's been a month since Isaac died.  It's hard to believe, it feels so long, and still not real.  More real than it did, but still not completely true.  How can it be?  Young men don't just die in mid-conversation...yet, that's what happened.

I know his first month in Heaven was wonderful, just not so for us here on Earth.  But, in love, we only hope for what's good for those we love, and that's how we feel for Isaac.  Only hoping for his pure and eternal happiness and peace.  We'll fumble along here and eventually find our footing, until we all meet again.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Endurance

"Flowers and shade" by HIlary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 10", 2013

I am looking forward to graduation this weekend, it was a long, hard road, but I finally finished what I had worked and worked for, and for that, I am very proud.

I am in the middle of some sort of "back attack" that began last week, and has not relented.  After my accident in 2004, I damaged my spine along with my leg and the rest of my body, and I would get these infrequent attacks of nerve pain that would sometimes last a month or more.  Usually it would be in my lower back, but this time, it started in my neck, and the pain is excruciating.  It is now also in my lower back, and is making life very difficult right now.

So, I must do paintings that do not require me to go climbing or any other acrobatics for the meantime.  This little painting was done right in my neighborhood, around the corner from my house, where there is a tract of woods right along the walking path that is along the river.  It is very beautiful, and very accessible~

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Weepy weather

"Farm field at dusk" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 10" 2013  

I have been feeling wistful today--maybe it's the rain.  I sat outside on the porch, listening to Ravel and Chopin, and my mind just kept going to nostalgic places, when there was more of us, in every respect.  When we hadn't lost so many people.  I could only sit watching the rain softly fall, smile at the memories, and pray that we can continue to rally. God is still with us, even though these seem sad and sometimes aimless times.

I began to clean up my big palette.  I feel a sense of urgency to begin a new series, but I get so pent up, it's like getting prepared to get shot out of a cannon (not that I've ever been haha).  I am intensely anxious, but this is normal.  My mind is gearing up for a brainstorm, and then I will layout the vision of my new series.  It's just hard because my brain starts going in all different directions, and I get very agitated when this begins.  So, I am pacing and pacing today.

Here is a little farm field I did yesterday, inspired by the local farm country, and the visit out toward my Dad's.  I was out at Mark's mother's farm, and the corn is beginning to grow.  Twilight and everything looked quaint and timeless, so very timeless, and so, a quick little sketch. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Sunny

"Sunny field of wildflowers" by Hilary J England
8" x 10" oil on canvas


What an absolutely beautiful day!  The weather is about the finest weather a person can ask for, with beautiful bright sunshine, warm but not hot, and soft late Spring breezes gently caressing everything and charging the atmosphere with life and excitement.  I just could not resist such magnificent weather!

So, with that, I painted a little painted that reflected the day, with vivid color that engulfs every sense and brings joy to your heart--I can't help but feel happy on a day such as this!

Enjoy~

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Heat and reprieve

"Purple wildflower field at dusk" by Hilary J England
8" x 11" x 1" oil on canvas 2013


So, the dog days jumped right on us, haha.  But, we are holed up, with air conditioning now to sustain us, even in my studio, thanks to two strapping young people, Candy and Anthony.  They were able to get my air conditioning unit mounted, even in the face of the Fire Department pounding our door down, due to an ADT monitor error triggered (according to the Fire Department) by the heat, and Mark giving them a wrong contact number.  Never a dull moment, smh.

Now we hide out from heat and pollen!  The entire house is sniffling and sneezing and crabbing, but this is usual for June.  Usually, just when we reach our wit's end by the end of June, the allergies just go away like magic.  Happens every year.  My finger is starting to heal nicely, although the entire tip is numb, but that's to be expected. I can feel the cut way deep down when I manipulate the area, and that feels like it is knitting together nicely as well. I think I can leave it unbandaged from this point forward.

Graduation is in 12 days.  I don't know how I feel about that, except slightly dreading it, because I know I'm supposed to be so hyped to participate, but it just means a day of irritation to me, with rushing around no matter how early we get up, traffic, seating snafus, bickering relatives making the day all about them, etc. I've been around long enough to know the entire drill dealing with this pack.  All ceremonies are aggravating, and this one will be no different.  I'm doing it mostly for my kids, so that they can see and know that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to doing, through any adversity, at any age.  I think it's very important for them to know that, so for that, I put aside my own apathy, and put on my game face as the leader of my little wolf pack ;-)  It's my duty, and I never shirk my duty.

I was able to find a nice little field to paint at dusk, while Chorkie went mad looking for things to chase and urinate on.  It was a fast little painting, and fast is the key word here, because I gave up after being attacked by a swarm of gnats that kept enshrouding my head, and landing on my sweaty face and scalp.  Eewww...

So, that's that for today.  'Til tomorrow, God willing, have a wonderful day!






Friday, May 31, 2013

Replays

"Calm seas before a shower" by Hilary J England
oil on canvas, 8" x 11" x 1, 2013


My mind keep returning to the beach...it's where I feel closest to God for whatever reason, but when my mind is under serious, ongoing stress, it seems to return there, to the peaceful cool of the salty air, the smooth resistance of the sand, the majesty of the enormous vistas, and the sound of the waves, either lapping or pounding the water's edge.  Today, the waves were gentle, the breezes, soft.

Mark is still in the hospital.  It doesn't appear that the chemo has had any effect on the tumors, which is disheartening.  They are trying to get him strong enough to come home, and then in another week, we will have to make a decision:  go forward with more treatment, or not.  This is an excruciating decision, and one that can never have a "right time."  The implications are obvious, and it seems surreal that from St. Patrick's Day to now, this situation has surfaced, mushroomed, and has sucked our entire lives into its vortex.  I don't know what to do or say to be of support or help, since it is Mark's life, it is ultimately his decision.  I support either decision, and will help him through it either way.

So, like water dripping from a faucet, I feel the tension in the air, the catch of breath before exhalation.  I am optimistic to get through these trials, as it is the only thought that moves me forward.  This too shall pass...happy days will come again, one day, soon. I feel that is certain, I hope on that, I count on that, I dream on that, I live on that.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Reflections

"Trees and little flowers" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 11" 2013


This time last year, I was gearing up to go to Nice, and what a time that was!  This year, I spend so many days in the hospital, I am beginning to despair.  I am getting really down.  Everything is piling up, and I am the only one left to dig it out.  A pointer for well-meaning family and friends of a cancer patient:  we appreciate prayers, of course.  But some physical action is helpful too.  Perhaps take a day off and help us out with work that needs to be done around our home, or even offer to help with a small donation of some kind to help with his medical and living expenses while we are going through this extremely difficult time.  These actions, in conjunction with prayer, will be ever so helpful.  God says we are to also be his "feet" on this earth, and being feet requires action.

The heat is going to be oppressive this week, of course, and I don't have my air conditioning set up in my studio.  We need an able-bodied man to install it.  Anthony is good for muscle and lifting, but because the window is very oddly shaped, we need a guy who is handy with a saw to help us mount this thing in.  We don't need any more saw accidents, for sure.  So, until someone comes forward to help us, I will not be able to get in there and work...that is a very disheartening, since this is really the only thing that keeps me going right now.

I am trying to keep my chin up, and I will, no matter what.  Even though things look bleak, I know God has a plan, eventually it will be obvious, even if it isn't right now.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Acceptance

"Boundaries" by Hilary J. England
oil on canvas, 8" x 11" x 1", 2013


Mark is in the hospital with a fever of unknown origin, or neutropenic fever.  He is in isolation, but he seems to not know it too much yesterday, as the fever had knocked him out, and the dehydration from the vomiting as well.

He slept most of Memorial Day away at home before he got admitted, as I clumsily tried to do all of the yardwork, including heavy work, which resulted in my cutting off the tip of my left middle finger with an electric hedgecutter.  Not fun.  I had to go for a tetanus shot yesterday because of it, but the doctor said my field dressing was very good, so despite the fact the wound could have used some stitching, I had done a good enough job cleaning and binding it that he would skip that.  So, not so bad after all.

The bank is trying to perpetrate some predatory lending practices on us as well.  Our original mortgage company sold our loan to Wells Fargo, and now Wells Fargo is saying that our flood insurance is insufficient, and wants to charge us another $200 per month on our mortgage, stating they don't care what the FEMA guidelines are, they make their own guidelines.  I argued that they bought the loan with terms in place, and they cannot force new terms on us, and FEMA stated that our flood insurance is more than sufficient.  Now, we go into the litigation process about this, which I am going to insist that Wells Fargo pay for as well.  My point is this:  if they want additional insurance, they can pay for it.  Our mortgage is completely covered by our insurance--what does Wells Fargo care if we rebuild or not, as long as they get their money?  If they want rebuild insurance on the home for a flood, they can pay for it.  Right now, the insurance covers the outstanding amount of the loan plus clean up should a tsunami strike Pennsylvania, so I am not even going down this road with these people.  They bought the loan, but there are terms in the contract, and they can't just "rewrite" a contract without our consent.

So, I am trying to learn to accept the things I can change, what I cannot, and just be as happy as I can be.  The stress has been overwhelming, and the only thing that is bringing me any moments of peace is doing little paintings as I can.  This painting actually took a little over an hour, on the way back from the hospital.  I was able to sit and breath, late afternoon, it had stopped raining and the sun just peaked out over the mountains, no farmers threatening to shoot me for sitting on the edge of their land, LOL.  Enjoy!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Getting there

"Orchids" by Hilary J England
12" x 16" oil on canvas panel
2013


It's two weeks today since Isaac died, and it is Memorial Day.  I know we are supposed remember our dead veterans today, and honor them, which I do, but I also remember Isaac, and other people in my family just through sheer association of the name of the day.

It's hard to fathom what happened, but I'm slowly getting there.  Things seem to get better each day, slowly, and for that I am grateful.

I did this painting yesterday, one that is not usually in character for me, since I generally loathe still life painting, it's just so static and boring to me.  But, with all of the beautiful flowers around in the Spring, and the fact that I wrestled with the idea of flowers in association to funerals, death, and dying, I thought it was actually something that fit where I am right now, while being therapeutic as well.

So, there is my little, out-of-character painting of some orchids or whatever these flowers are that have been stinking up my house if I leave the windows open.  I picked a few, and studied them.  They are not the enemy, haha.  So now, I see they are nothing to have nightmares over.

Enjoy!!!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Finding my footing

"Yellow flowers"


I haven't wrote much, or done much, for the last month or so, it's just been too chaotic and painful.  The move was a stressful enough, but throw in Mark's chemo and delicate health, and Isaac's sudden death on Mother's Day, and that was enough to knock me out of commission.  I'm slowly finding my way back to my routine.

I finally got the house completely unpacked and set up, and my studio as well.  All I need is a new air conditioner so I don't bake like a pizza in an oven, like in my last studio.  As much as I loved the space, the heat was so oppressive in the summer, and there was nothing it seemed that alleviated it, so I could only work very early or very late.  At least this time around, I can be like a rat in my nest--at all hours.

I had written a lot in the immediate after Isaac died, but it is too painful to post up.  I put it in my personal journal, and there it must stay.  His death obviously deeply affected us all, and still does.  It is senseless and tragic, but there is the comfort he died in the presence of all of those he loved, and literally in his mother's arms as she tried to save him.  It took days to get the images of his death scene from my mind, and then when the windows were open at night, the scent of lilac that would waft through on the soft Spring breeze would choke and sicken me with its cloying sweetness--it was the scent of death, like that of a funeral parlor.  So, I chose to sweat rather than breath it in.

My mind wandered to hell and back, grasping at anything to make sense of what has happened and why, but in the end, as all of us humans realize, we will never know on this side of Heaven.  So, I stopped asking and just look at his picture and smile now, reminiscing of funny times, and how happy he made Gabby through their turbulent but passionate relationship all these 8 years.  The tears still flow though, even when the smiles are there.

So, here is the first little painting I have done.  It started out local, but my mind drifted far away, to places I had been, so I can't say its really a "plein air," since it ended up a mystical place, an amalgamation of places I have been, somewhere beautiful and peaceful, where my mind needed to be through all of this turmoil.  The flowers were there, the water was there, but my own senses heightened them to somewhere or someplace rather ethereal.  I figure it was a form of therapy, to let my mind run free, and be a bit undisciplined.  Hey, what the hell--it's my art, and I'll do what I want with it.

On that wry note, I do hope you enjoy it.  More to come now that the brushes have been dipped again! 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tick-tock

The days tick down like water slowly dipping from a faucet--maddening, predictable, yet with a tight intensity lurking beneath the surface; it's as if each drip is tightening a screw, or pushing a boundary, and the danger is a sudden rupture or failure.  I don't just mean within Mark, I mean as a metaphor for the situation itself.  It is quietly tense, the waiting is just as suspenseful as waiting on a verdict, and then, yesterday, it came.

Pancreatic.

I was out on the canals, taking a long walk to clear my angry head.  I woke up in a foul mood, one of those days where you just wake up on the wrong side of the bed.  I was angry over the whole situation.  I had nightmares that night, and woke up and cried, and then just lay in my bed feeling waves of anger and sorrow washing over me, as strong as any physical tide.  So, I decided the best plan of action was not to just remain in bed stewing (which I had considered), but to get up and out, and let the wind and the sun clear away the damage.

As soon as I started down the path, earbuds in, Joyce Meyer going, my phone started blowing up.  That irritated me even further initially, until I saw it was Dr. H.  My breath caught, and for a second, I contemplated letting it go to voice mail.  I wasn't sure I could handle the call alone, but that instant of cowardice immediately passed, and I picked up the call.  Dr. H. was as jovial and to the point as usual, "Pancreatic, I'm afraid, as we had suspected, but hoped against.  But, don't lose hope, his case is extremely unusual, so perhaps he has a fighting chance!"  Then, he began to list all of the week's goings ons, including port surgery, chemo consultations, and chemo itself.  I just slowed my pace down until I came to a bench, and after we hung up, sat there staring at the ducks in the canal.

After a while of just feeling the wind and the sun, I roused myself, and called Mark.  From the conversation, I could tell the doctor had not called him.  He had left me to the task.  I decided not to tell him that news over the phone, it was not a kind or caring way to do that.  When Mark asked if I had heard news from the doctor, I said he had just given me some information about changing the appointments around, but hopefully we would hear something by the end of the day.  I know it was a white lie, but it could not be helped.

I pulled myself slowly together, went home and washed up, left a steak for Anthony, and headed out to meet him.  I told him the diagnosis at the end of his work day, when we were alone, and he was finished and closing up his office.  He took it stoically and resignedly.  We both knew this was a possibility, we had just prayed it wasn't, but we knew it could be, so it wasn't a complete shock.  We hugged, left quietly, and went back to his mother's farmhouse where he could rest and I could make him a light supper.

We talked about his wishes, final arrangements, and other things that made me so sad and queasy inside, but he initiated it, and I had to respect him, and give him a measure of control over the possibilities, so he can feel at peace with everything that is going on.  He told me all he wanted done should he lose his battle, and I promised him it would be so.  He said wanted his post-funeral luncheon at the restaurant we had our wedding reception in, so he could feel as if he is there with us.  I cried about that all night, the thought of it, the bittersweet mix of grief and memories of past happiness that would be there, even if he wasn't.

But, I resolved myself to help him battle this out to the end.  Cancer is not going to claim another person in my life without getting a good ass-whooping itself.  It's a dark, vampire entity, and we are busting out the garlic (literally!) and every weapon in the arsenal.  Cancer, watch out.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Quiet

It's nice and quiet this morning, with the occasional car passing by, and the sound of the rain hitting the window.  I slept very late this morning, almost until 10 a.m., but I don't care.  I needed it, for sure.

Mark also got some rest, and was off to work as usual today.  He says he feels better, and for that, I am happy.  He will be doctor free (hopefully) until Tuesday, when he goes in for his port.  I know how important it is for him to have his life back, and to be able to do the things he usually does, so being able to work, visiting friends and new places, go out for dinner, etc. are all things we are looking forward to getting back to doing.  It's been a really tough month.

In the quiet, I find myself disconcerted.  Now that I have time to think and breath, I feel anxious.  I look at my paint brushes, and find they just stare back at me absently.  They don't beckon me, and I don't feel compelled to pick them up.  It is a strange feeling.  I just stare out the window at the rain, as if a giant blister has enveloped my mind, both drowning and insulating it at the same time.  I don't feel anything, just anxious, and it's a vague, queasy anxiousness, an anticipatory anxiousness, as if I was waiting for something, and I don't know what.

I was so exhausted last night, and I had tons of stuff to do.  I had to enlist Gabby's help, poor girl, because I had to be both in Tamaqua to pick up Noelle and in Brodheadsville to pick up Anthony at the same time, and did not know how to navigate that.  She was gracious and offered to drive Anthony home, since she was only a few miles away.  I got Noelle, and by the time we all got back to the house, dropped them off, and left to get my truck (I had left it at the hospital yesterday and drove Mark home in his car), it was close to midnight.  Everyone was hungry for a "midnight snack," so we went through the drive thru for some forbidden food, got my truck, and I bid Gabby "goodnight" and thank you.

As I pulled into the driveway at home, we have a very large streetlight that fully lights up our driveway.  I got out of the car with my arms filled with a bag of junk food, sodas, purse, keys, cellphones, miscellaneous papers, etc., and as I closed the door to the car, the reflection in the window showed a figure running up behind me!  It startled me so bad I dropped most of everything (including spilling Dr. Pepper down the front of my shirt), and whirled around, expecting to see someone literally face to face with me.  I stood there a minute, looked around the car, composed myself, picked everything up, and spooked, walked toward the house.  I saw movement by the bushes then, and that was enough.  I burst into a full sprint to the house, got inside, and locked everything up, and delivered the disheveled food.  I guess it was my mind playing tricks on me.  I guess...either way, sleep was a welcome friend last night!

So, for today, I don't know.  I don't know.  I guess I am on autopilot, and things will figure themselves out as the day wears on.

Study of eyes

"Study of eyes" by Hilary J. England, Conte on paper I have been studying certain body parts that I find fascinating, and you can ...