Since I’ve Been Gone

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I thank all of you who have recently discovered this Blog in my absence and you loyal followers who have continued to read, substituting my Archives for the regular Blog entries, since I have been gone…..it is very gratifying to know that the Blog lives and breathes without my assistance. It did not even need life support, almost having more views than when I was home and writing more often. Hmmm…that makes me wonder.

I have been in Hawaii, on the Big Island, specifically 1000 feet above Kona on the west coast, for about six weeks. I will not rub it in; simply put I had a spectacular time. As with any extended vacation, one’s life changes, adapts and settles down to a new routine even within just 6 short weeks, and soon you realize you do not care anymore what happens beyond your days and nights in the paradise that has become your temporary norm. You hear all the news back home – the political crap and every other ridiculous media report back where your people are, but you pay it little attention and it sort of slides off of your consciousness like jello off a plate.

The more profound issues stay with you however and you gain greater clarity about them, including a dearly beloved family member who is battling cancer. With the sunsets and sea you do gain a degree of calm…just a bit more enlightenment…and your faith renews. Then just as you nestle deeply into that faith, really deeply, and you are sleeping every night  like a well-fed baby, hoping and believing again that all is actually going to be well in the world it is time to fly home on the red-eye and you are rather miserable to be returning to reality. You attempt to carry the good vibes with you. You want to believe. You want your faith to stay strong, back where it is still winter.

I have so many stories to tell. Wish we could sit and have a glass of wine and talk. Some are X rated and hilarious and there were other happenings I will never ever forget, standing out from everything else and those will be flashing memories in my mind like bright lights at a dive bar at 1 am for years to come. Crazy funny stuff, a scary thing or two (like nearly tripping over the huge, black coarse-haired, sharp-tusked, bloody, totally severed head of a wild pig on my happy little mindless walk one morning) to important spiritual stuff and everything in between. I am in love with the island and in love with the important reason I go there.

We went to new beaches I had never before seen in my past five years, painting on a different one every Friday morning with the West Hawaii Plein Air Paintersorganized by http://Richard Rochkovsky.com  and then some afternoons from 3-6 pm with the sunset painters group of Peter and Lily Jefferson. Every beach has a personality; gorgeous & benevolent, rocky & dramatic, and the black sand beaches are especially startling next to Prussian Blue and emerald green water. Giant, cruise-ship sized waves (those beautiful burly thugs come roaring in this time every spring) once again crashed the coast on several of the islands including parts of the Kona coast and we were spectators to a Mother Nature show that never disappoints.

And now I am home again to the west Denver area, literally just at the base of the Rocky Mountains, only about 5 minutes from my favorite canyon and it is snowing cottonballs outside my windows and although it is magical, I long for sea breezes and salt air. I do have the perfect combo of a mountain and sea life. When I am here or there, I love the scenery I am sitting in, I soak it up, and either parting is bittersweet.

Thanks to all the new friends I met this trip! You were so hospitable and fun! See you again, same time next year. I am thankful for such a lovely visit!

Jo Ann Brown-Scott, Author and Artist

Books – New novel,  A CANARY FLIES THE CANYON available on Kindle, and THE CREATIVE EPIPHANY, both available on Amazon.com

Webhttp://www.acanaryfliesthecanyon.com

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Arthttp://joann-brown-scott.fineartamerica.com

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My Big Island Favorites and “The Whistler”, 2015

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Photos taken on my recent month-long stay on the Big Island of Hawaii – my 4th annual trip in what has become a welcome rest from the Colorado snow, although I do love snow. As you probably know by now, in my paintings or my photos, I am all about pattern, texture and color…as you can see.

We painted plein air, we painted in studio, we took day trips both north to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Waimea and down south of the Captain Cook area to a black sand beach where we were told about one particular whale who has become a local favorite, and a legend I predict. This whale is a female (because they see her every year with her newest baby) whose blow-hole is damaged or deformed somewhat, so when she blows she whistles a loud haunting whistle that everyone on shore can here. Each year they look forward to the return of “The Whistler” and watch her playing just off shore of this black sand beach in the evening hours. I took the sunset pictures you see here at that very location. They also tell me that the whales breech here daily in February/March making loud smacking sounds when their tales hit the water – loud enough in the morning hours to wake you from a sound sleep. They are swimming north on their yearly migration, headed through the Maui Channel onward to Alaska, and this beach is a resting place to stop and play. We also saw whales in Kona harbor, purposely, I believe, putting on quite a show for everyone lined up on the pier one evening. Is it possible….can you imagine….that this human-being/whale connection is somehow bigger than we all imagine? They know that in certain areas of the planet we are appreciative and friendly, desperately wanting to know them better and wishing them no harm, while in other foreboding seas they might be cold bloodedly slaughtered.

All animals who migrate, including whales, sea turtles and sharks, migrate for just three simple reasons – mating and birthing, abundant feeding and a climate that is tolerable. Those three conditions rule their travels.

I do believe that the same three conditions rule the travels of human beings! Think about it.

The Force of Mutha Nature

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Well it’s been a wild Memorial weekend ride around the Denver area, and it’s only Sunday noon as I write this. This week, by some otherworldly twist of fate (twist being the operative word here) I found myself in two of the exact and most threatening locations where funnel clouds were spotted around the city, just days apart. How strange.

I never say that I don’t get out much – I do get out a lot – I am all over the place actually, driving and doing stuff from Boulder, 45 minutes to the north to Evergreen and Conifer in the mountains west of Denver and then twenty minutes south of the city where I live. Every north, south, east and west direction has been under the assault of Mutha Nature. We have had a session of turbulent skies bringing walls of rain so dark that you cannot see what is going on around you when you are driving in them, hail ranging from marble to almost softball size bringing severe damage, wind and flash floods all resulting in many insurance adjustments. I like weather drama but this is over the top. The 2 funnel clouds I found myself directly under – one while having lunch with a friend in the Cherry Creek area ( where the waiter asked us if we would like to go to the basement and we, for some crazy giggly reason, was it the Sangria? – declined) – and the other being an enormous, dense black storm cell wall of water I actually drove through as my cell phone was screaming an alarm to me to “TAKE COVER IMMEDIATLY! – never actually got their funnel acts together enough to do anything more than wave around in the sky in a serpentine  tail, trying to touch ground. I saw them on the news. If I had known what was over me I might not have been able to keep a grip on myself.

I have never driven through such a storm as I did in the second experience – I could not pull over, I could not stop, because cars would have hit me in that process since none of us could see the lines in the road or what was ahead. There were no possible shelters. I had no idea, when my excruciatingly loud cell phone alarm sounded whether I was driving further into the center of the storm action or if I was lucky enough to be driving out of it – the car radio told me next to nothing, thanks a lot. Luckily I was soon going to be driving west, up the canyon to Conifer,  so I knew that when that exit came, things would improve….but barely. Tornados just do not happen in steep canyons and mountain areas….I have been told. However the rain had created an actual river coming down the canyon highway, so deep I was afraid my engine would stall out since the car was making waves as I drove.

When I finally arrived in Conifer and we turned on TV the weather map showed the area I had driven through was the very middle of a gigantic storm cell containing funnel clouds, slowly moving north and east away as I turned west into the canyon. I had been directly under that phenomenon for about 8 miles. I was shaking. My friend, who had been a car or two ahead of me but out of sight,  poured me a vodka shot.  He seemed fine – I was not. It took us a while to laugh.

The outdoor decks, flagstone terrace and steps, ground and rocks on my friend’s property in Conifer were covered with what the hail damage had caused a couple days before – it looked like chopped broccoli but was actually shredded healthy green pine needles and branches and pine cones – the trees had been mauled. They looked pathetic. It was overwhelming to see such destruction – and that was just the yard. The house and other buildings will all need new roofs. A skylight is broken and leaking. The Ping-Pong sized hail pounded the place for a full half hour.

OK so does all of this adrenalin-fueled fear go away, after you realize you are still alive? No. I can still feel all of that experience sitting here as I type. Sun is out, sort of, but I am right back in it in my mind.

So what am I going to do with myself? Well of course I ‘m going to paint.

We shall see what that brings…..the YLC is talking to me again.

 

 

Return to a Place

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This weekend, as my beloved Rocky Mountains tip-toe lightly into SPRING, careful to sidestep any more major snow and wind events,  I was fortunate enough to return to a favorite mountain hideaway. A place isolated from the circus of everyday life; up a long, lethargic driveway, meandering around Aspen groves and pines, hidden high on a sunny south slope enfolded by trees, commanding a place of importance under gigantic rocky outcroppings. This place is a sanctuary for me and I am its’ grateful guest. In my absence of six hard winter months, I dreamed often of its hand-worked beauty and primitive silence. It is a place like no other. When I could not sleep I would wander its rooms, imagining how strongly the wind was rattling the roof, wondering how many mice families were frolicking there, riding out the winter in its relatively balmy interior. Hoping no trees were uprooted. Looking forward to seeing the wildflowers that were planted last summer just outside the kitchen door.

I have spoken before of the significance of PLACE. If you are someone who has an extraordinary place to go to – one that gives you back your sanity and holds the rest of the world at more than an arm’s length for you as you regroup – well – if you have that you are indeed blessed. This special place need not be grand; it could be a humble chair in a tiny space by a fire, could be a beach, a trek, a restaurant, a cabin, an art studio or a journey to St. Peter’s Basilica. But if it always without fail gives you the gift of peace and comfort, it is a home place.

Walking in the door was like returning from an enforced confinement somewhere else. A home without a family comes alive again when a door is finally opened, after long days and nights signifying nothing but the passage of time on empty rooms, and people arrive.  Everything looked bright in the noon sun. The dust motes danced in swirls as we entered, instantly transforming the stagnant internal climate with our human presence. Piles of dead bugs were neatly arranged in corners as if they all knew where the graveyard was and went there when the end was in sight. Cobwebs swinging like iridescent threads with the breeze of our movements, the smell of powdery, dry dust – it was all perfect. We smiled and embraced the beauty.

Getting water back in the pipes. Turning on the heat. Cleaning the bugs out of the sinks and bathtubs, then discovering a small bathroom window that had been accidentally left half open all winter long! Through record-breaking snows and roaring wind racing through the pines at break-neck speed this window gave old man Winter access to the house. Why didn’t a raccoon tear through the screen seeking warm shelter? I wonder how much snow had piled up on that floor….what the temperature plummeted to in that area of the house – mysteries we will never have answers to.

A builder of fine homes once told me that houses need people in them – they deteriorate rapidly when they are empty for long stretches of time. The materials that go into the construction and the interior finishes need the warmth and humidity that people provide, doing all the things that people do. Cooking, washing clothes, taking showers – all that and more is what houses need. Houses are almost alive. Wood needs to breathe. Call me crazy but I firmly believe that houses need love, laughter and conversation too. If you do not believe that houses have a heart, a soul, and a need for human companionship then I am sorry for you – you have missed a key point somewhere along the road of life. Several of my very best friends have been magnificent old houses, weathered, wrinkled and wise…

Your special place need not be a house, of course. The discovery is yours. But do find yourself a unique footprint that you can return to for re-fueling. It will keep you sane, prolong your life, listen intently to your thoughts and that place will watch for your frequent return.

The Creative Epiphany – The Proverbial Springtime in the Rockies

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Photos from the south Denver area looking west, March 8, 2014

Here we are just a week from SPRING! and yet it is white everywhere. Yesterday we had a cotton-ball fluffy, white-out blizzard thing blowing up in our faces and our noses here in my south Denver area and today it is melted off in all the right places and the sky is supernaturally blue. The snowmen, so carefully created yesterday afternoon at the height of the  action are now slumped over and dripping sweat from this afternoon’s warm-up to a near 50 degrees. And so it goes in SPRING!

This will be the mother nature of things for the next couple months here in the Rocky Mountain region as SPRING! springs forward and then changes her feminine mind only to retreat and accept another wintry blast from the past. We actually like it, this back & forth, even while we complain about dressing in the morning for coldness and peeling off layers as the day progresses to warm, sunny afternoons. Shorts by afternoon is a not an uncommon thing for us in March and April.

We are almost ready to bid a fond adieu to the snowiest winter in over 20 years. Many of the mountain ski resorts have a base of well over 300 inches of snow and added another 2-3 ft.  in the past few days. There is a long and winding slowly moving line of cars heading up through the canyons into the mountains to the ski areas, and SPRING! break is a perfect time to ski….our lovely neighbor to the west, Lake Tahoe, has not been blessed with the powder this winter. Some years you are the anointed one and some years you are not. We feel your pain; been there too and done that.

We here, however, are on a Rocky Mountain High. We breathe deeply the joy of living in this spectacular setting.

The Creative Epiphany – Sitting Around at Sunset on the Big Island

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A selection of sunsets for your viewing pleasure, Kona HI

So during my recent stay on the Big Island, drinking sunset wine on the western deck at 1000 ft elevation, with the Specific Ocean spread out before us like glass, and well into the prime time viewing portion of a dazzling, colorful display in shades of pewter, silver, steel blue and iridescent gold underneath the warm colors of sister sun…we are feeling no pain and talking about birds.

Birds are plentiful there – squawking and screeching and calling to eachother for answers to the big bird questions. It begins about 4:30 or 5 am and continues with different groups and choruses all day long until dusk. Since lots of chickens roam the island in the epitome of the much sought after free-range chicken life, you are liable to have roosters nearby who of course signal the dawn in big COCKA DOODLE DAMN DOOOOO (I am awake now and so are you) announcements every single morning – the good news is the free-range part because eventually they move on to greener pastures and bigger bugs to eat.

And there are crows. Remember that all these birds first breezed into the island at some point in a very ancient time, either purposely or riding involuntarily on the prevailing winds or perhaps a storm that they could not get out of, like being in a giant washing machine headed somewhere. I am fascinated – glued – to James Michener’s thick, almost 1000 page classic book “Hawaii”. I got it when I came back to the mainland and can’t put it down. Well sometimes I have to put it down because it weighs too much to carry around all day. At the time of the Roman Empire and Christ the islands were still being formed by volcanic activity and did not yet exist as a habitable location….they were forming, becoming a potential paradise, but still without edible food and clear water. The Big Island of Hawaii and her smaller sisters had not even come close to being discovered or habituated by a human person. Think about that, and think about the first people arriving and how amazed they were….but I digress.

Birds are usually found in groups which are not always called flocks, and while sitting on the deck we googled bird info and the names of various bird groups. Here is what we found, and we could not stop reading, while opening another bottle of wine.

A bunch of Crows is actually called a MURDER. Then we also have : Teams of Ducks. A Mob of Emus. An Ostentation of Peacocks! A Pitying of Turtledoves…. A Cast of Hawks. A Wedge of Geese (while they are flying). A Siege of Cranes. A Herd od Swans. A Charm of Hummingbirds. A Company  of Parrots. A Conspiracy of Ravens. An Exaltation of Larks. A Parliament of Owls. A Tiding of Magpies. A Scold of Jays.

Well it got funnier and funnier. You had to be there ( we wish for you that you were…). We also made up some of our own – well of course we did. It was sunset in paradise and we had the time.

There are many more to be found if you follow this link to the Palomar Audubon Society page: http://palomaraudubon.org/collective.html

Open a bottle of wine and watch the sunset wherever you are.

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The Creative Epiphany – Your Fountain of Youth

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wave5 Watching the massive wave events on the west coast of the Big Island, Hawaii in late January, 2014

 

“Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is a matter of the will, quality of imagination, a VIGOR of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life”. – Samuel Ullman

I believe that if you can find a geographic place – a safe and enfolding place of  contentment, magic and wonder where you can go when you need renewal – you have found your version of the fountain of youth. Some people never manage to find that unique and stirring location, but others who are young at heart and keep an open mind to the gifts of the universe search for and find their particular GPS of choice and they use it time and time again to recharge the batteries of their souls. My daughter who has traveled the world says one of her favorite places of all she has seen is Yosemite Park, practically in our own backyard.

I have not traveled the world but still I know what brings me back to the places where my heart is fulfilled and brimming up with contentment and peace. For me there are several locations – Big Sur, the big island of Hawaii, Yellowstone and Yosemite Parks and the mountains of Colorado – and when I spend time in those locations I feel sure that I am a positive force in a greater universe. I am infused with such joy at every return trip, highly energized, feeling that my life is enhanced and perhaps even prolonged by the adrenaline rush I experience. The epiphany here is that what you want to happen will happen, and so if you believe in the power of a place, you will undoubtedly reap the rewards by using it to bring quality to your days and additional time to your life. You are what you think constantly about, as they say, and so whatever brings positivity and happiness in its purest form directly into your veins – to your very being  – can only be good. If it is in your power to find your place, do find it and hold it dear. If for some reason you are unable to go where you want to go, use your powers to picture it, find it, embrace it in your soul. Do not allow the boundaries of your physical world to confine you. Go beyond and get there.