Friday, May 31, 2013


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

My mind keep returning to the'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


"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


"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

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.


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! 

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