Facelift!

Morning Glory !We gave our home a facelift. I removed the front door and lay it on a table in the shade of the garage to clean and sand, then taped the windows. I love painting, but not doors. As the job progressed so did the angle of the sun till rays were bearing down and drying the paint even as it flowed off the roller.  We moved the project into the dark of the garage and before my retinas had adjusted, my elbow caught the paint can, which fell and tipped creating a vast sticky pool of Morning Glory on the concrete floor. Disaster! It dried as fast as the door!   However, with successfully painted black shutters, the job was eventually done and now we look SHARP !The birdhouse   SOLD

Inside we are working with new appliances, and discussing with some heat, options for counters, backsplash, flooring and doors. We are hoping for a good look but not the expense of a grand kitchen in our modest cottage.  We can agree only on the floor and the stove wall arrangement, so those shall be done.

Tom flew in from Colorado with yet more kitchen alternatives. We clearly need more time to think about the next tasks. We played a little pickleball, toured the car museum and the airplane graveyard, and gazed out across the lake from Fairport Harbor. We consumed wine at an extraordinary rate. Talking makes one thirsty !

 

The Patio

The Patio $125

Village Home

Village Home $125

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had time to paint, and prepare more art boards.  I am cutting the masonite on a table saw, then using an electric sander, alternately painting and sanding each coat of gesso for a smooth surface.

 

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I am trying to avoid another paint incident, gesso will not be removed with boiling water, it is tenacious. I do not care how much I use, or how many rabbits it took to make the rabbit skin glue in each bottle of gesso. They have been foraging in my veggie patch for arugula and lettuce, and left only the Swiss chard and the tomatoes which are soaring to an immense height. This may or may not result in a huge crop, but it looks promising.

Bue Hydrangea

Blue Hydrangea $125

I rode with the Spoke Sisters through downtown Cleveland.  Even on a Sunday afternoon the traffic was intimidating, but it was a good workout, and the girls were fun.  We rested halfway at a bar on Whisky Island. Then I joined Dave on a test ride on his new bike, a Kiwanis garage sale purchase.  He thought he was going to die!  It has a killer saddle.  Polly and I joined the SS for a companionable early 20 miles on the canal towpath before the afternoon crowds.

It is so much fun to paint without the demands of students, I have no deadlines or pressure to please anyone, and no shows in the months ahead.  I am not restricted by subject and materials, and have completed more ‘Squares’, local scenes, and southern subjects from our road trip to Florida.

Low Country Roses

Low Country Roses $125

We spent a day in Fernandina beach, the low country where the atmosphere is moist and briny.  We.explored the historic old town, paddled in the sea, checked out the lighthouse, and drove in the late afternoon to Sarasota.  At El Toro Bravo we ate spicy flavors that make you whimper. This has to be the best Mexican restaurant in the state. We walked on the beach often, but didn’t have time for Pickleball.  Our days were interrupted by lookers.  Damn.  It is no fun living in a house on the market.

 

Big Blue Sails

                                                                              Blue Sails $125

Windy Day

Windy Day $125

Dinghy Colors

Dinghy Colors $125

Neither did I want to be happy in a place that we have decided to leave, but we loved our bike ride on Anna Maria Island, Fort Myers on a wet day, the search for sharks teeth at Venice,  breakfast and a meal on Longboat with Pat and  a birthday celebration for Bruce.  It was tough to leave.  The Prius was overloaded with art, and personal items from the condo.

 

 

 

Offshore

Offshore $125

We stayed with the Franklins. They now have 170 acres of glorious Black Mountain. They see the sun rising each morning above layer upon layer of Blue Ridge Mountains. With perfect foresight, and lots of prayer, these two have all the eventualities of old age taken into account.

Back on the road, we ate fast food laden with enough additives and preservatives to extend our lives by a couple of years, and caffeine to keep us alert till we reached home late on the Sunday night.  It is pleasant to be back in cool Ohio.

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My first Group Ride…

Blue bike

The Blue Bike $125

For my amusement, and for exercise to offset those hours at the easel, I have a Fenix road bike. It is said that anyone can become a cyclist merely by declaring that they are one!  Turn pedals. Don’t hit anything or fall off.    I have done a few solo practice runs, and have a moderate idea how to shift among 21 Shimano gears.  So I thought I’d take a look at the local cycling club.  They meet on Tuesday evenings and since I was teaching my small art group, I really had to really hustle… I checked my tires put on padded knickers and my helmet, not really a good look on me, and headed off. I had no time to change my painting shirt but I had a couple of water bottles in a small backpack, turned on my blinky back light and hustled up to the Shop.

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Ready for the Fourth $125

I labored up the hill, in a hurry to get there by 6.30.   A dozen lean riders looking as if they just stepped out of the Tour de France, in their tight clingy superhero triathlon skinsuits with cool logos plastered all over, thought I didn’t look like much!  I circled around grabbing a breath but by the time I am back on the road they are a blur in the distance. By the time I reached the top of the hill, they are out of site.  That was it.  No chance.

 

A real cyclist came up just a couple of minutes behind me.  This was his second tryout with the group. He thought tonight there were no C riders (beginners) because the route was very hilly, if I’d checked the website I would know that. Only the A and B riders like the challenge. He noticed my inferior pedals, and didn’tcare for my gear shifters, but he stayed around for a few miles and some tough hills, then I turned back. I knew he was hanging around in case of an incidents and it had already been a workout.

The moment he was out of sight I made some radical move with the controls and my chain jumped the gear wheel.  I pulled onto the grass, and persuaded it back but ended up with black greasy fingers. I didn’t want the oil on my nice white handlebars.  I reached home, run out of battery on my flashy red light…out of water….hot.

I think I need a little more practice.

shopping

French Alley $125

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Summer in Chagrin

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It took us ages to adjust to an ordinary life after the extraordinary, and to plenty of household chores after no chores.  We do the minimum in the garden….water, cut grass, pull a few weeds and water the veg that we put in our small plot.  In the space of two weeks we have gone from evenings with the furnace and an extra blanket (unusual), to wishing we had more ceiling fans and a/c (usual).

We did our taxes, and friends came for Blossom Weekend, a village-wide display of complete euphoria, with three days of parties, a run, a noisy parade, hot air balloons, the fair, then a sober memorial parade. Then life reverts to a conventional sober, safe and steady pace.  I bought a sleek lightweight road bike, learned to use 22 gears, and I ride it often. We both are back to playing pickle ball, we renovated the garden room, and have started a remodel of the kitchen.  I completed a couple of watercolor commissions, and after posting all my demos online I completed my first oil in six months.

Claudias Lilies

Claudia’s Lilies

I went back to the art group and realized I wasn’t ready to go back to teaching.  After four months painting in front of a big class (eight months, if you consider both ships) it has been a pleasure to paint in solitary.  I miss the friendship, and the pleasure I had while watching students achieve unique small paintings of their own, but painting is not a group activity. Learning is best done while wrestling with the paints by yourself.
I now have a collection of paintings from our journey around the world…..

 

http://www.dailypaintworks.com/artists/tan-gillespie-5750/artwork

Select an image to see all the details. Almost all of these are class demos.

If you want to see what I’m painting now (in oil) check back to dailypaintworks and type in my name, regularly. There are larger images on my website.

Will we take another Round the World cruise?   Perhaps not.   However, we are selling our condo in Sarasota. We know we are not quite ready to sit on a couch, and dine at happy hour!  I think there will be more international travel for Pete and I, but for now, we are home, and I will be back in the studio.

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Showtime!

The students’ paintings were amazing. Lady Edna chose eight honorable mentions, a best in show and three other prize winners. Champagne bottles were presented, with hastily prepared QE 2017 ribbons. I was totally out of voice and energy ( Pete said I was also out of Nice !) so Peggy stood up to give praise and thanks.IMG_5342

That evening the ship moved carefully through the busy shippings lanes of the English Channel, pulled into the Solent in the early hours of the morning, and we were home…..

Misty architectural and boatyard shapes, cold calm water, broken reflections, a million small ripples, birds in silhouette dipping and skimming, ferries churning with a white wake streaming out behind, and all the rest in fifty shades of grey. England in May.
We could see familiar shape of Queen Mary across the Southampton water, and with packed suitcases we trotted down the gangway, and gave this QUEEN a royal wave. Elizabeth….is history!IMGP0202

If you think two complete voyages around the world would change us, so did I!
However Pete’s brother Charles was poised to pick us up, and by mid morning we were drinking coffee in his daughters kitchen, just like regular people, and that night we slept on an air bed in the dining room. With some hesitation, he showed us the disaster he has made of the Drayton home we had so liked a year ago, then drove us to see Liz in West Tytherley. Her charming home was built in 1420, extended in 1600 and used to be the home of the Singer Family (sewing machines) If you would like to stay with her, do call months in advance…..Farthing Corner is an award winning, popular B and B.

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On the way to Heathrow, we met John at the Jovial Sailor. Well chosen for us, and, long ago, for the crew who left their sailing ships at the docklands in London and needed an alehouse break on their cross country walk to a new vessel in Portsmouth.
Our choice … a fast afternoon flight to Washington. A similar route across the Atlantic four months ago took us a whole week!

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Nearly Home!

FullSizeRenderAlthough this is part of Portugal we are still close to the African Coast. It is mountainous……the tops so high that the trees are still leafless. There are gardens with fountains beside the sea. Funchal is a huge sprawling white city with orange tile roofs, the homes packed into the valleys that rise up the slopes , with steep cobbled narrow streets. We had such a nice day that we got over the 50 minute wait to exchange dollars for euros and then forgave the taxi driver who ripped us off. We explored the old neighborhoods up to the fort, found a locals bar for some sweet Madeira wine, and a Portuguese toasted ham and cheese. We missed the painted doors, and didn’t have enough time to go to the fishing village, Camara de Lobos, on the coast west of the city, or explore the spectacular coastline. It took a long time to paint the picture of the Queen on the harbour wall in Madeira, then it was back for a well earned dinner of local fresh fish purchased from the waterfront. It was delicious. This is an island worth a revisit, our last day ashore was a really good one.
Here we are approaching home. We are back to woollies and long pants, and a vest and scarf. On deck there is no one in sight in the evening usually a popular time for a last stroll and the sunset. There are packed suitcases appearing in the corridors, and a general feeling of excitement and relief.

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There is just enough energy left for one last morning class and THE SHOW. We’ll have a guest appearance from Lady Edna Quinn, who will hand out coveted QE ribbons and champagne, then we too can hang over the rail and watch shipping in the Channel, and the looming grey clouds threatening some genuine English weather.

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Packing our bags!

And some artwork!

Our last port was lovely Madeira……

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Cape Verde

 

Oh, these fishing dinghies are terrific! The fisherman live in poor stone homes with two or three rooms, and no facilities, and their old wooden boats are works of art. The small town on Mindelo is quiet, and typically windy. It is a Sunday so the normal pace has dropped to a crawl. There are are a few market stall taking advantage of the arrival of 2000 guests with nothing to do. But the locals are not overly friendly, our comfort is too evident. There are scrawny kids begging for a dollar, boney dogs , and some colorful Portuguese homes along the main streets., and the town beach was really dirty with old plastic torn bags of litter, a dead cat, dead wood and poor and narrow streets of poor homes….. Sat in spa bar for beer, early morning call to anna, then young Calvin, took us Baia Das Gatas where the fishing dinghies were amazing.
Beyond the Queen, was another Bay with a beach made of imported pale Sahara sand, and the sea was an unusual baby blue. The white sand in water, turning it milky.
The entire ships company, Ups and Downs, were enjoying the rough waves and the bar behind the beach.IMGP0166
Our visit to Tenerife, on the other hand was most disappointing. The island is very mountainous, rising to a surprising 12000 ft.volcano. Steep neighborhoods rise up behind the port area, the flowering jacarandas were lovely, but it was a bank holiday so it was as if the city was hung over. It was hot by midday, we had cold beer and tapas eaten in the shade at a street cafe…..thousands of English retire and holiday on the island, but all we saw was Santa Cruz……I need an attitude adjustment!

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