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Blogging Again

After a long absence from blogging – I’m back! The featured image was taken by my youngest daughter this past Thanksgiving weekend (two days ago). My husband Brent’s hair is wild, looking like Christopher Walken here! Normally he looks like he’s still in the Army, but he’s overdo for a haircut. I’ve been his barber for our whole marriage and sometimes I procrastinate cutting his hair. I expect he’ll drop heavy hints about a hair cut as soon as he has a bit of free time.

We were at the beach at Tybee Island, one of my favorite places in all the world. That includes my travels in Germany and Ireland. I’ll share more pictures I took this weekend, and my art inspired by Tybee. If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen these before, but maybe not. Sometimes my positive real-life news is immediately cluttered over by my political tweets.

It’s also not easy to be seen on Twitter, or any of the social media platforms. I’m not active on any other platforms, other than Twitter (new account after dumping my old one), but I’m heavily censored there too. My blog has become important to me again. I’m also open to writing letters and mailing them. Carrier pigeon may be my next option.

I’m often distracted by things happening in the news, as are you, as is everyone. How can we not be, when propaganda and events directly affect us? So, I’ll blog about what I see world event wise, but I’ll also share uplifting content like oil paintings, photos, and personal stories. Hopefully my depressing, infuriating, and defeating blogs will be out-shined by my encouraging blogs, but I make no promises. I blog honestly.

~ Tybee! And ramblings ~

It was a beautiful day. A little cool – no swimmers today. If you noticed that what I’m wearing in the featured photo is the same red trench coat and hat (turned around backwards) that I wore often in the Ireland blog pics – good eye. Trenchcoat is missing a few buttons, but it’s still such an awesome coat. It’s designed for travel, with many pockets. I saved money for each of us to have a coat or jacket from ScottEVest, to hold our passports and other essentials physically on us, without carrying a bag.

I usually buy my clothes at thrift stores, so this was a huge expense for me. I’ll probably wear this coat for the next twenty years! It happens to be on sale today, for CyberMonday, if you want to check it out. I recall getting it on sale when I bought it, but even so… way out of my price range normally. I usually don’t spend more than $20 per item on my clothes. I’ve gotten some shirts for only 39 cents each! Sometimes they still have the price tags on. Other people’s wastefulness is my family’s good fortune! Anyway… here are the Tybee pics and oil paintings:

I made these animations from photos I took at Tybee Island, Georgia on Saturday.

Some of my oil paintings inspired by Tybee

This one was inspired by a sunny day, when we were greeted by delightful graffiti. Watch me paint this. I want to eventually pay for an add-on that will allow me to host videos through my website, but for now I’m embedding videos I’ve uploaded to YouTube or BitChute, which isn’t ideal because they can change their services at any time.

I have several Tybee paintings, but I’m getting tired and I have to move on to other things, so I’ll just share one more. I love sharing this one, because it has special meaning for me. Most of you have probably already heard my stories about my father, who died from cancer at age 37. I was 16. Sharing my life stories often comes back to my parents, as that’s where we all begin, but I also do it as a community service, to help others.

I have lost many people I’ve loved – both parents, my grandparents, my dear cousin, uncle. I have no extended family who visits me, who is close to me. So, I do understand. And I hope that I can help. Those who are suffering through raw grief need encouragement that the pain softens… each day gets better. The sharpness that takes your breath away? It fades. One day, you can laugh again.

You can honor your loved one by being happy, living your best life, doing something good. And… by allowing their life to inspire yours. This brings me to my purpose in saying all of this, how it connects to the lighthouse painting.

My father was active duty Air Force, then later in the Air National Guard, while also a manager for a mid-sized company. While not an artist by trade, he liked to doodle. He made a cartoon booklet for work – it was part of an official management training guide (comic relief illustrations throughout the manual). He also painted a few custom signs. Beyond this, he did art as a hobby- like the Nativity set that I was inspired to paint. [store pages: Nativity cards or ornament]

He also painted a few watercolor sketches, when he was a young man. Mom had saved his sketchbook. He’d done a rough draft of a lighthouse, that one always caught my eye. About 30 years later, I painted a lighthouse too, this one, on Tybee Island (watch me paint it here). I thought of Dad, and knew he’d be happy about this. His life inspired mine. I want my life to inspire others.

I like the way the video of my painting session turned out. The melancholic music suits the mood that I often have when I think about the things happening in the United States and the world today. There’s a profound sadness, yet hope. Darkness, yet Light. It’s a wild time in history – as mysterious and deep as the ocean, as chaotic and frightening as a storm, and yet… it’s like a soft beam from a lighthouse, calling us home. We’ll be OK, America. We really will.

Well, I guess that’s all I have to say for now. I appreciate all of you who made the trip to my blog. I hope you will stay and chat. I believe we need to expand how we use the Internet to connect with each other. The power to shut down our voices rests in the hands of the elite. We can’t expect fairness or kindness. We need to make our own way.

I plan to blog often. If it works well, I might be helped by having my own store links always present. It would be nice to be less dependent on Twitter. But, if I find that I’m talking to myself like a crazy person, I will lose interest in blogging. For now, I’m committed to blogging regularly.

See you again soon ~ please feel free to chat with me via comments, or privately through my email contact. Thank you for connecting with me. God bless you and your family. xoxo

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Tybee Island

Tybee Island GA

Ooh, adventure awaits us at Tybee Island, GA!

Tybee Island GA May 2017

I can hardly wait! THIS is what all of the work was about – a spectacular life!

Tybee Island GA

It’s a beautiful sunny day – hot, but not too hot… PERFECT!

There’s my girl, excited for our first day on the beach in our new home!

Tybee Island

Well, come on! Let’s get in the water!

Tybee Island, GA

While I wait for the rest of the family to catch up (I ran on ahead), I’ll take a few pictures… ooh, a flock of pelicans! (or pelican-like birds, I don’t know)

Ah, here they are… the rest of the family is here.

With my husband Brent and daughter Cassie here to oversee our beach towels, yes… get in the water, Nicholas and Savannah! WOOT!

Son Nicholas…. wearing his Doctor Who T-shirt over his white Irish skin. Smart idea, sounds like he listened to his mom.

Ah, my son and my youngest daughter Savannah… she’s been waiting for beach day – hard to believe she will be 16 this year. UGH – boys STAY AWAY! (that’s the age I was when I met my husband!!!!)

Pure joy!

I love this shot! Their body language speaks for itself – it’s like I can hear their voices when I see this picture. Savannah giving a whoop, Nicholas chuckling.

What fun! There’s nothing like God’s oceans to bring absolute overwhelming delight. Everything we went through to get to our new life… all the detours and failures… this moment reminds me why it was all worth it.

My husband Brent (apparently taking a picture of me? Probably forever lost on his phone) and daughter Cassie (collecting shells). So… can you keep my camera for me? I want to get in the water! Why am I still standing on the beach???

Brent took this wonderful photo of Cassie… when I asked him to keep my camera, he decided to use it. 🙂

From left to right… Savannah (head barely above water), me (arms stretched out for reasons unknown), Nicholas…. Cassie picking up shells

Savannah, me in the middle, Nicholas – oh WOW this was sooooooo much fun!!!!! I can’t wait to go back!!!!!!

Natalie Buske Thomas with husband Brent on Tybee Island GA

Me and my husband ~ Looks like we made it! Coming up on 30 years of marriage next year

Miss Cassandra and me… yeah, I’m the shortest one in my family. At least there are plenty of roommates to reach the top shelves for me.

I love when I capture a father-son moment… don’t know what they’re talking about here, just love that they enjoy talking to each other.

Savannah built a sand castle while we waited to dry off some before leaving the island

Aww, our day at the beach is over… we are some of the whitest people on the planet. Even with sunscreen we have to limit our time in the sun. Well, that’s OK, we’ll come back soon!

The family, walking slowly… tired from our day at the beach

Our first day at Tybee Island is over, but before we go… let’s grab a bite to eat at The Crab Shack! We’ll feed ourselves AND the alligators. Yep… real ones. I’ve only seen them at zoos. This will be interesting!

The day at the beach cost us only $4 for parking. My aunt Ann had sent us money for our anniversary this past February. She prefers that we spend it on dinners out instead of bills or errands. I saved it for a special occasion. And here we are! Her gift will cover the Crab Shack and part of another meal out too!

So, onward to The Crab Shack!

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Home in Georgia!

On the road to our new life!

We’ve finally made it to Georgia by way of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ireland, and Indiana! We went through Kentucky and Tennessee (Hello, Nashville!) to the Georgia state line… but we’d have several hours’ more driving left… including driving through Atlanta just after rush hour.

Signs I thought were worthy of a blog mention:

I don’t think they meant for those two signs to go together, but… interesting, huh? Trust Him from the mountaintop?

As you see, we’re coming into Atlanta now… I hope it’s not too crazy. Last time we were here it was a hideous din, like a million bees buzzing. The cars were swinging across several lanes of traffic from both sides, all at the same time… reminded me of motorcycles in a cage at a circus. This time, it was nothing like that. It was fairly easy. We stayed in the fabulous carpool “diamond” lane and sailed through!

Atlanta!

More Atlanta…

Here’s another billboard for you…

I thought that was a cool vintage looking sign

This amused me to see Trump on a tower

Ah, we’re almost in Macon, whew! We have hotel reservations there. We’re sick of being on the road. Everyone’s ready to get out of the van.

Our hotel is behind the Outback Steakhouse. Glad to be calling it a night.

Yea, it’s the morning of our move to the new house! We’ve left Macon for the Savannah area… Port Wentworth. I took this picture for Marie. Look, Marie, I’ve gone back to Ireland!

LOL, figured you’d get a kick out of seeing this. Well, no, I’m not back in Ireland, but I’m back at the coast, near an island and dolphins! Oh, and one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the world, huge love for the Irish in Savannah.

What would Georgia be without peaches?

Ooh, look, we’re getting close!

Not long now!

I’m getting nervous butterflies!

HOME!

 

 

Beautiful flowers by driveway, walkway

 

Look, sand! Sand in the backyard! (Hey do you like my cute sandals? Seriously cheap from Kmart!)

AND… wow, totally didn’t know about this! There’s a lagoon at the end of the property, just yards from our patio door! That’s a crane. I took many pictures of it. Figured you only needed to see one, LOL. There’s fish in the lagoon and we’re allowed to fish! There are turtles too. Savannah is on cloud 9. She spent hours out there… did not have sunscreen on. Yep. (Oh, if you are new to my blog, my youngest daughter is named Savannah… coincidence, nothing to do with GA. She was named after the adorable child character in Savannah Smiles, a movie. But… my Savannah LOVES that people don’t get her name wrong anymore, and she’s loving seeing her name on everything. Already bought a hat with Savannah on it.)

I’ll end our moving day with this closeup of the gorgeous flowers I showed you earlier. Welcome to the South. I hope you enjoy the journey with me.

Flowers in Port Wentworth GA

 

 

 

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Coastal Again!

Tybee Island GA

I’m Coastal Again! WOOT!

I know, this blog post is coming to you out of nowhere, after a long absence. I couldn’t find the words to describe all of the miserable things that were happening to us. Besides, most of it isn’t wise to post on the Internet.

Evansville, Indiana didn’t like us. After that city was through chewing us up, the feeling was mutual.To say that things didn’t work out would be a vast understatement. But let’s just focus on what’s most important.

Teaching wasn’t the right career for Brent. I won’t get into the reasons why, but it was clear that this wasn’t the life that any of us wanted. So, even though he’d put years into going back to school for his masters degree, a semester of unpaid student teaching, and so much more… well, it was best to cut our losses and move on.

Meanwhile, Brent’s part time job at CVS led him to his new career. He had become a licensed Pharmacy Tech, and was recently offered a slightly better position as a Shift Supervisor Rx. We’d be moving again, but to somewhere special! Before I get to that: There’s a college nearby where he can go back to school—yes, again!—to become a PHARMACIST! This direction makes sense. Brent has always been a scientist type. I thought he’d be teaching middle school science, which seemed to fit, but one thing led to another and he ended up in primary school, hmmm. Anyway, life feels very much back on track now. WHEW! That was quite a detour! (and pharmacy pays much, much better than teaching, WOOT!)

The Pharmacist plan does mean more “starving student” years ahead as Brent goes to school for his Pharmacy D, and he’ll have to do an unpaid internship at the end (UGH!). Pressure is on to rev up my career as an artist and an author. Please share my work with your family and friends. Don’t be afraid to help me in any way that you can think of. If you have extra dollars, you can buy my books for your local library, school, dentist office, etc. Well, there’s that promo out of the way. Now… back to our big news:

WE’VE MOVED TO GEORGIA!

My father visited Savannah, GA on his assignments with the Air National Guard. He brought me a beautiful sand dollar. He had another one that he cracked open to show me the “doves” inside. He told me the story of the sand dollar and said that Savannah is a special place that I should go to one day. I never thought much of it. The ocean was something I’d only seen once, when I visited my aunt in North Carolina. It just wasn’t my world, although my heart longed for it to be.

Well, before the Ireland dream, we’d hoped to move to Savannah, but when we lost our health insurance and had a whole host of other miserable set backs, we chose Ireland instead. I worked for four years to raise the money to move to Ireland. And, if you’ve been following my story, you know that we could only stay for five months (visa issues). But… it was a life changing adventure and our family will never be the same. My dream of seeing a dolphin in the wild came true, and I have the beautiful dolphin figurine from Dingle to remind me of it. It’s sitting in my mom’s hutch right now.

Back to my story… here we are, about ten years after we first decided to make a big life change. After moving from Minnesota to Wisconsin, to Ireland and Indiana… we are now back to our original wish, the one that we thought we couldn’t have: a move to coastal Georgia, in the Savannah area.

After Ireland, big dreams were over. Indiana was back in the Midwest, we’d lived there while growing up, and we knew people. It made sense… until it all went wrong. There were times when I looked at my beautiful dolphin figurine and I’d struggle not to cry. I knew if I let one tear loose I’d sob for hours, days even. (a bit of an exaggeration there)

Well…. did you know that Savannah has easy access to places like Tybee Island and there are dolphins there? Did you further know that I already have good news to share about my new author/artist connections? And did you also know that I’m typing this from my new house right now?

Ireland proved anything was possible, and Indiana proved that failure isn’t the end of the world. Why fear it? It was time to dream again! I’d have a fabulous life as a coastal author and artist. I will! I am!

OK, OK, time for me to stop talking and show you the pictures!

 

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Tri-con Day 2

IMG_4800A lot of great costumes today! Cosplayers were creative.

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IMG_4803Quailman from the cartoon Doug

IMG_4804Doctor Who scene – I was dazzled by the “Cassandra” (the floating face) prop

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IMG_4811I really liked this costume – she said it was her own original creation. A mythical deer creature? So pretty! Doesn’t she look like she’s ready to break out into a Broadway song and dance number?

IMG_4814The Evansville Public Library offered a free button making project. Also, one of the staff (not pictured here) is a fan of Cassie’s KiLA iLo comic. She was surprised to see Cassie, and to hear that we recently moved here.

It was a good connection! We donated a copy of our books to the library and it looks like we’ll be doing workshops there.

IMG_4842This dragon was here to raise money for the Make a Wish foundation

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IMG_4819Actress Cristin Azure chatting with cosplayers – looking gorgeous, ladies!

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IMG_4822Actress Cristin Azure interview session with the Shaw brothers

…and a selfie with the crew!

IMG_4821Enjoyed getting to know the lovely Cristin and her husband, but their adorable baby stole the show! I wish them all the best as they continue their creative adventures in acting, stunt driving (whoa!), and more.

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IMG_4829The beautiful Maleficent, otherwise known as our favorite cashier at our local Ruler Foods where we shop religiously for my family’s groceries! I tell you, we take food savings seriously. This girl could have cosplayed as herSELF and I’d have wanted a picture!

IMG_4830Maleficent and me

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This made me laugh! Although… I was worried when the T-Rex hopped up the stairs… whew, glad he made it

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IMG_4831Remember I mentioned earlier that the Evansville library was offering free buttons (that you design yourself)? Cassie drew Max from the Goofy movie.

She wanted to ask Max’s voice actor, Jason Marsden, to sign the sketch before it was made into a button.

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Jason Marsden, was kind enough to sign the sketch. The button turned out great! Cassie will treasure this – thank you for being kind to my daughter, Jason!

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This young girl, Melody Meador, was the master of disguises! She wore several costumes throughout the weekend. She commissioned Cassie to sketch one of Jason Marsden’s other famous characters for him to sign. Melody was so pleased that she gave Cassie a chocolate cupcake!

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That’s a delicious tip! Not a starving artist today!

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Tri-Con 2016

Tri-Con at Holiday Inn, Evansville, Indiana

Here we are, bright and early! (Well, it’s too early to be “bright”)

IMG_4756That’s me in the red coat (left) with my daughter Cassandra.

IMG_4759Cassandra, ready to pitch her KiLA iLO comic and Dramatic Mom (the comic we collaborate on – she’s the artist, I write the stories). I’m focusing mainly on my new art book FRED … the iPad is set up to display my painting videos.

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IMG_4765Cosplayers… ^ don’t know what’s going on here ^

IMG_4770<—–See, that’s my table. Right next to me was a magician.

He was busking for tips, working the crowd. By the end of the afternoon I knew his routine.  It was hard for me to resist blurting out the punchlines to his jokes. 😉

Let’s take a break from the table and see what other people are doing…

IMG_4775Eville J’s Creepy Closet – “Masks, props, and all things creepy”

IMG_4776Yi, yi, yi…

IMG_4777He said that’s a Trick or Treat bag! Clown alert… don’t look behind the franken mask if triggered by clowns.

IMG_4783These two were fun. I wanted to sing with them… their booth was much more fun than mine!

Mikey Mason – Comedy Rock Geek

IMG_4784Jacob Walker, artist

IMG_4785Kevin Brown, photographer – I wish the samples on the table had showed in the photo better. I like the Supergirl one, very cool. What a fun gift a photo shoot like this would be! “Beyond Reality, Photography with no Limits”.

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Greggo travels the world doing his game shows

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Enjoyed meeting actress, model, and stunt driver (tell us more!) Cristin Azure… Walking Dead zombie? I love meeting interesting people!

IMG_4792Comic creator Kyle Starks

IMG_4793Author/Director Bob Dixon

IMG_4795Actor and director Jason Marsden… our family loves him as the voice of Maximilian (Max) from the Goofy movies. I have fond memories of the Goofy movie playing in an endless loop during our 2008 family vacation… every time we got in the van, Goofy and Max would pick up where we left off. But, Jason has done much more than that… take a look at all of the shows you’ve probably seen him in, in his 25+ years career.

Besides all of this, he’s a nice guy. His table in the VIP area was in my direct line of sight. I watched him talking to teenagers and young adults who attended the convention, easily spending a good ten minutes or more in one-on-one conversation. He was genuine and warm. I’m sure his time with them meant the world.

See? It’s people like this who give us hope that there are still decent people out there!

And… he was gracious enough to offer up a picture with me in it. “Uh, sure!” (Goofy voice) <–that part didn’t happen, I can’t do Goofy. I can do a decent Mickey Mouse though.

IMG_4796Jason Marsden and I, just hanging out….

IMG_4797Cassie wanted a picture with Jason too, so I sent her back over with my camera.

That’s a great start to the Tri-con weekend, wouldn’t you say? We left early today (Friday). We’ll be back tomorrow for more.

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Ink and Iron Fest 2016

What a gloriously sunny August day! Today was Ink and Iron Fest, a benefit for Autism Awareness. I was there (outside the Shriners Building in Evansville, Indiana) to donate my oil painting Blooming Through to the charity auction. Click here to see the cool video of me painting this.

There was so much going on – car show, bike show, vendors, indie band, face painting, more!

Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (1)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (2)Autism Evansville is working hard to help families affected by autism. Here is the information from their brochure. Autism Evansville “…provides programs and support such as:

  • Voucher Program: Financial assistance program to help pay for support, treatments, and care
  • Family Fun Night: Recreational program for children affected by autism and their siblings
  • Parent Support Group: Monthly gathering to bring parents together for sharing and education
  • Community Outreach: Aimed at spreading awareness to help the community better understand and accept the differences and needs of individuals affected by autism

I was impressed by the way Autism Evansville provides networking and connections. Art without Boundaries was mentioned, specifically local member Beautiful Minds, LLC.

The director, Colleen York, also mentioned several upcoming events, such as The Art and Science of Autism and a free fun day at the YMCA. Visit the Autism Evansville website for more information.

Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (4)There were several groups who turned out to support Autism Awareness.

Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (4b)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (5)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (27)

There were free activities for the kids.

Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (6)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (7)Face painting was popular.

IMAG0096My daughter Savannah enjoyed the Bikers Against Autism display.

Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (14)The bouncy house was a huge hit!

And for grown up entertainment, my favorite local band RETRO SHOCK was in the house!

Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (13)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (12)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (9)But wait, there’s more… there were vendors and organizations.

Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (15)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (16)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (19)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (21)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (22)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (23)This tent represents HOSP-INC, Veterans Outreach Programs to help homeless veterans.

Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (25)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (28)Ooh look at all of those trophies! The car and bike contest was exciting.

Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (29)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (30)

Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (46)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (44)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (32)Everyone was interested in this unusual motorcycle. My husband Brent enjoyed talking to the artist who created the airbrushing on this vehicle. He’s an Army veteran who retired from the military after 20+ years of service and now does custom art on vehicles and helmets.

He won BEST IN SHOW!

Congratulations, Pooky Bogertey of PKY Custom Paint and Graphics!

Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (34)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (35)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (36)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (38)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (39)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (48)Representing PKY, Pooky’s kids (Pooky is not pictured here, but he’s in the picture below).

Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (53)The media turned out for the event. That’s Pooky, the “Best in Show” winner (on the right in the PKY shirt) about to be interviewed.

Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (49)Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (58)

Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (63)Channel 44 News, Evansville, interviewing the announcer and spokesperson for the Ink and Iron Fest.

Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (41)Event organizer, Kevin Thomas (seated, left), chilling with a RETRO SHOCK band member and Ink and Iron Fest volunteers – enjoying free “shaved ice”. Thank you for your hard work, Kevin and crew!

Ink and Iron Fest 2016 (65)Oh and don’t forget about me! This is the charity auction. That’s my oil painting she’s holding up. Check out the video and picture of it here. I am grateful for the opportunity to use my talents for a special event. Thank you for inviting me to do this, Kevin Thomas.

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Shriners Fest

IMG_4627So much to do! Air show, dog show, midway, food, music, dancing, riverfront, and magical connections… where should we begin?  Well, I’ll start by thanking the Esteps for giving us VIP tickets to the festival!

IMG_4414It’s going to be a fine day!

IMG_4416It’s very hot, but gloriously sunny and excitement is in the air!

IMG_4417I love all the color! Umbrellas, the water, the sky, the flowers, the midway, everywhere!

IMG_4388 (2)Savannah (my daughter, right, in flag shirt) and I are hanging out in the air conditioned visitor’s center, waiting for activities to kick off.

IMG_4389 (2)Messing around, trying to take a picture of us via the mirror in the visitor’s center with my “old school” camera… First attempts were deleted (the ones I took). I asked Savannah to try. She’s not impressed.

IMG_20160624_151527Hmm, it’s called a CELL PHONE and it has a CAMERA, and it’s reversible so we can take SELFIES…. sheesh…. Savannah has my old cell phone that I bought in Ireland and is now just a tablet. She’s taken charge of the situation.

IMG_20160624_151538OK, but I’m not looking in the right place… where’s the lens?

IMG_20160624_151542Oh, there!

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OK, enough of this… things are starting to happen now!!! Let’s go PLAY!

ULTIMATE AIR DOGS

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VIP FUN!

IMG_4395Kicking off the festival on Friday evening… a VIP dinner with live entertainment

IMG_4397Chicken dinner by Bauerhaus Catering

IMG_4401Cake!

Also… a presentation by the Shriners, including a film and a silent auction, and a meet & greet with the pilots performing in the air shows this weekend

MIDWAY

IMG_4379Oh wow, the food smells AMAZING! There’s fish fry, peppers & onions, grilled smells, and more… MMMM! If I wasn’t already full I’d be tempted.

IMG_4514Python? WHY??????

IMG_4404The craving for an elephant ear has begun… haven’t had one in probably over ten years, twenty?

IMG_4405Everything’s more fun when the sun goes down and the lights go up!

IMG_4407Doesn’t this look like vintage America?

IMG_4409I love this couple I saw walking on the midway… aw, young love, holding hands while also holding her shoes! (Don’t worry, I asked their permission before posting this) LOL, I just noticed that he’s also holding her purse for her. He’s a keeper. 🙂

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IMG_4410 (2)I’m intrigued by the “Large Walking Taco” – does it walk before or after eating it???

IMG_4410Good to see people starting to gather here on the Midway… I’m looking forward to the bands!

IMG_4412Ooh, but I keep getting distracted by the Elephant Ears! Walter bought one for all of us to try – it was HUGE – enough for everyone. I wasn’t sure about that first bite, but by the second bite I hit the sugar — MMM, yes, that was fun!

LIVE MUSIC

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This band is RETRO SHOCK and they are fully awesome!!!

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All three of them can sing, and the drummer is amazing too. They sang songs from multiple decades and they played ALL of them well. The songs were identifiable from the first set of notes and they stayed true to the song. We could sing and dance along, as our favorite music was done justice. AND – they made the songs their own too, as their smooth vocals gave old songs a new flavor. Honestly, I think I liked some of their covers better than the originals! I’ve seen a lot of indie bands and this band is seriously talented.

Their business card says “A premier Southern Indiana cover band playing classic party rock for any event” You can find Retro Shock on Facebook.

IMG_4402 (2)The Shriners Fest was Retro Shock’s 300th show. WOW! No wonder they are so good.

We stayed and danced into the night! Me and my daughter Savannah having a ball:

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Dancing in the street at Shriners Fest!

Snapshot 4 (6-27-2016 9-48 AM)Snapshot 5 (6-27-2016 9-51 AM) (2)BORN TO BE WiiiiiiLD!

And hey, guess what happened to me while I was dancing? Kevin Thomas from the Shriners Fest who booked RETRO SHOCK noticed that I was having fun… he asked me what I thought of the band. I said that I thought they were amazing and that I’d be putting them on my blog. I explained that I’m an artist and an author… and gave him my card to find my blog later, so he could see the photos. Well…. he asked what kind of art I do and one thing led to another, and in one magical moment I said that, yes, of course I’d like to donate an oil painting for the Shriners event coming up on August 20th – Ink and Iron Fest. The charity auction will benefit Autism Awareness. And hey, guess what? RETRO SHOCK will be playing at the fest! WOOT! I’ll be there, not only as the featured artist, but with my DANCING SHOES ON!!!

Snapshot 6 (6-27-2016 10-02 AM)CRAZY GOOD FUN!

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Snapshot 9 (6-27-2016 10-07 AM)Savannah – I love to see my girl smile! – Thank you for the music RETRO SHOCK! We thoroughly enjoyed it…and now the day is fading into memory….

IMG_20160624_210123IMG_20160624_210127But I just can’t leave… my husband is here now.

IMG_20160624_225539RETRO SHOCK is still playing… for one more set

IMG_20160624_225617IMG_20160624_225617 (2)Savannah took these photos – that’s me and my husband Brent on the far right (OK, yes, the short couple)

IMG_20160624_225617 (3)Me and my high school sweetheart, best friend, and husband of almost 30 years. It’s hard to explain but this was a magical moment for us… I looked at him and he looked at me, and it was as if he was somebody new. Later I found out that we both had a secret to share…My news is that I’ll be the artist for the next festival (I mentioned this earlier in this blog). That’s BIG news for someone new to the area, hoping to break in! When I couldn’t do my solo art show in Ireland I was heartbroken. But look at what’s happening – I have a new opportunity, and it happened to me when I was letting go… dancing as if no one was watching – or…. maybe dancing as if EVERYONE was watching, and loving me for it! 🙂 It’s a very big deal because we were both worried that I wouldn’t thrive here in Indiana. I had worked for over four years to earn the money for Ireland and then we couldn’t get our visas to stay. I said that it was time to dream a new dream, but… I wasn’t always feeling positive. Some days… well, it was hard. This chance to do an oil painting  proves that new dreams do come true. Indiana isn’t Ireland, but it could be magical all the same. It’s really up to me.

[Sorry, I can’t reveal Brent’s news yet… I will when I can.]

AIR SHOW

The highlight of the Shriners Fest is the amazing air show, so we’ll get to that next… but first, meet our friendly barista from the VIP Pagoda.

IMG_4624She makes a great Jim Beam and Diet Coke, just sayin’

IMG_4382The Pagoda

IMG_4382 (2)See the upper deck? We were able to get an outstanding view of the air show from there. I took hundreds of photos. It was hard to narrow the collection down for the blog. I also got a great view of the water show from the VIP viewing upper deck. I could so get used to this VIP treatment!

IMG_4419 IMG_4419 (2) IMG_4418 IMG_4418 (2)AND… now for the air show… I took these photos throughout the weekend.

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My personal favorite is when they created art in the sky

IMG_4451IMG_4452 (2)IMG_4452 (3)IMG_4452IMG_4458 (2)I just LOVE this group – their planes look like birds… and oddly there were some real birds who seemed to be mimicking their flying maneuvers… coincidence, or were the birds really copying them? Interesting!

More beautiful flying by the Vanguard Squadron:

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IMG_4474Change of pace:

IMG_4478 (2)IMG_4478 (3)IMG_4481IMG_4482 (2)IMG_4482 (3)IMG_4483 (2)IMG_4488Best place to view the air show! Savannah is enjoying a lollipop from the VIP lounge. They fed us every day, plus cold beverages and candy.

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IMG_4508The Werth & Richards Aerobatic Duo was AMAZING!!!! These stunt pilots are absolutely fearless. They fly within within inches of the water, and each other. They cross flight paths while all of us hold our breath. They spin, tumble, roll, and free fall… stalling engines, gymnastics… it was like watching a movie scene. WOW!

IMG_4529IMG_4530IMG_4534IMG_4535My son Nicholas and my husband Brent were able to make it to the last air show on Sunday – they LOVED it!!! Nicholas is usually sensitive to sound but he was hooked.

IMG_4557My oldest daughter Cassie also turned up on Sunday. She finished her stressful project, got it sent off to the client, and was ready to have some fun.

IMG_4562IMG_4622IMG_4623 (2)The U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet is super loud and super amazing

IMG_4623THE HORNET!!!

EVANSVILLE PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA

IMG_4515 (2)IMG_4517IMG_4518What a beautiful summer evening! Notice the large white flower in the upper right of the photo? There were flowers, trees, and landscaping everywhere. Truly a beautiful place!

It was a wild ride – what fun! Evansville, Indiana, I know that we are new to each other, but I think we can become the best of friends. The people are friendly, the sun is brilliant, and the energy is incredible. I love interesting people, indie musicians, and dancing with my family among strangers. Is anyone a stranger for long when summer feels this good? Thank you, Shriners Fest for a family festival that we were amazed and dazzled by.

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Old Town

Pretty walk to Sunday Market in Old Town, Evansville, Indiana – a street fair with interesting and eclectic vendors – on June 12, 2016

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We need a closer look at those flowers!

IMG_4303I had these (hydrangeas) when we lived in Wisconsin. They turn blue or pink depending in the Ph levels in the soil. You can add aluminum to the soil to get hydrangeas to change colors.

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IMG_4306Wow, look at the stained glass windows on this church!

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IMG_4308Looks like a fun place!

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IMG_4309Another interesting building… and more flowers

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Oh come on, stop and smell the roses… we’ll get to the street fair, don’t worry!

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Doesn’t a city look much friendlier with flowers growing on every street? Attracts butterflies too!

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See? We made it to the street fair just fine! Brent parked farther away than he had to, oops, didn’t know – but the walk was pretty. No harm done, a bit hot is all.

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IMG_4318“Mystic Hand”. It’s fun reading all of the creative vendor names.

IMG_4315This vendor, called “Bang Bang Ballistic Jewelry“, makes jewelry and custom items by stamping on brass. They also receive orders for memorial purposes (such as 21 gun salutes).

IMG_4316Miki is buying an ankle bracelet

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IMG_4320I got a kick out of this vendor’s name – “Dharma Cowgirl

IMG_4321Dharma Cowgirl jewelry is created by local artist, Tiffany Piazza, inspired by favorite books, nature, and animals

IMG_4322Tiffany Piazza of Dharma Cowgirl with her husband

IMG_4324The Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden was well represented. This friendly Zoo contact gave us a compelling pitch for why we should visit the zoo. We picked up the brochure. 🙂

IMG_4325These cookies in the shape of the state of Indiana amused me.

IMG_4326This is the vendor who sells the Indiana cookies, Sweet Bettys Bakery

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LOL! Pizza sold out of a double decker bus. The bus was imported from the UK for The Pizza Revolution, Wood Fired Pizza.

Well, time to head back to the car. Let’s linger a little bit to enjoy the pretty scenery.

IMG_4328Doesn’t this porch look inviting?

IMG_4329Remember to look DOWN… you may see something interesting, like this intricate manhole cover. I wonder how many hours it took an artist to create this?

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Ah, back to where we started with the hydrangeas. It was a beautiful sunny day, although steamy. Thank you to Walter and Miki for inviting us to go and for buying us lunch afterward. Much appreciated.

I love indie events like this!

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Nashville, Baby!

Nashville (1)THIS is what I was looking forward to from the first day when I realized that we were moving to Indiana by way of Ireland… NASHVILLE, baby! The appeal of living near the Indiana state border is that we can drive to several other states in two hours or less. Kentucky is just a stone’s throw away (perhaps literally, if standing in the Ohio river, where the border lies), and beyond Kentucky is Tennessee. It only takes 2.5 hours to drive to Nashville from our home in Newburgh, near Evansville, Indiana. We can also visit St. Louis, MO in about 2.5 hours’ drive. Southern Illinois is also an easy drive. If willing to add a bit more drive time… it’s about 3.5 to Cincinnati, Ohio. I’m absolutely thrilled to have so many interesting places to visit without having to travel far to get there – these are all inexpensive day trips! I’ll be photographing and blogging – come with me! 🙂

Today’s trip – NASHVILLE! This was a gorgeous sunny day on June 7. We’d had a highly stressful week and today was no exception. The air conditioning unit had stopped working, Brent found out that he didn’t get a job he’d interviewed for, and… well, I won’t share all the miserable details, but we had a choice to make. Do we sit at home and sulk, waiting for the A/C guy to call? Or do we make a different choice?

Well, I know what “Irish Natalie” would have done! I would have packed the family up for a trip to the coast. Now, we can’t do that here… the Celtic Sea may be calling me, but it’s too far away now. That doesn’t mean that we should resign ourselves to our former vacation-less adventure-less life of waiting, waiting, waiting, for permission to LIVE. I found plenty of free things to do in Nashville. All we needed was gas for the car.

Nashville (4)We crossed the Indiana state border within minutes… We were soon in Kentucky.

Nashville (5)WOOT! It didn’t take long to reach Tennessee! I couldn’t believe it! I’d never been to Nashville before. I’d been using the anticipation of this day as an incentive whenever I felt upset about leaving Ireland. I promised myself that we’d go to Nashville as soon as we could. Just because we were living Plan B, it doesn’t mean that everything I’d worked for was gone. My family was still together. What will we do with this time? Everyone had already gotten into a habit of squirreling away with their various gadgets – online talking to others while in the same house with the people we love. Lightning-fast Internet made that possible. Gone was the unreliable and worthlessly slow satellite connection we had in Ireland. In its place was fabulous speed to connect, connect, connect – with everyone but each other. Well, well… let’s unplug, shall we?

Irish Natalie is also a bit more… assertive…. passionate… and VOCAL than the old me. I had a proper meltdown and off we went. Some things are worth fighting for. As matriarch of the family I need to recognize when it’s time to get up in everyone’s grill. Oh, they were all smiles before we were even halfway into the trip. See? 🙂

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Nashville (7)Brent was feeling too tired… but look at him here, having fun already. He pushes himself to do work related things. Sometimes we have to push ourselves to do what’s even more important. Work and errands… who remembers what happens on a regular day? But when will we forget our first trip to Nashville? NEVER.

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Apparently we’ve reached “The Gateway to the New South”. Hmm, the more you know…

Nashville (9)It sure is a pretty drive through Tennessee!

Nashville (10)Almost there!

Nashville (15)WHEE! It’s NASHVILLE!!!! What a feeling, to see a place I’ve always heard about but have never been to. It’s like when I saw Tinkerbell at Disney World. Fairies DO exist! Wow.

Nashville (18)Oh yeah, it’s Nashville!

Nashville (19)We have arrived at our destination! It’s right up there… See the brown sign?

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Nashville (175)Nashville (176)There, you can see it now – Centennial Park… and YES, we are definitely seeing the Parthenon! This is supposedly the only real Parthenon in the world… (Why does it exist, and why is it in Nashville?) I’m excited about immersing myself in the beauty of this park. There are gardens to explore and the weather couldn’t be more gorgeous!

Nashville (21)First, let’s go on an adventure! The Parthenon awaits!

Nashville (23)Nashville (24)Nashville (25)Isn’t it magnificent? Let’s get closer, shall we?

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This is a photo op if I ever saw one…

Nashville (30)Oh dear, my legs are whiter than the concrete. And ditto for Cassie’s legs… sitting on the right. Hey, we fit right in when we lived in Ireland. Now I’m back to blinding people.

Nashville (34)Ooh, there it is!

Nashville (36)The art on the building is just amazing!

Nashville (40)This really IS Nashville! Ran into a young hopeful staging a photo shoot at the Parthenon… She plans to shoot me her promo details so I can give her a plug (I invited her to). Sweet girl, and certainly beautiful – I wish her all the best!

Nashville (41)Ooh, now this appeals to me! I wonder how many movies have been filmed here…

Nashville (42)Look at the ceilings! This is still outside the building. There are (paid) tours of the interior, but we didn’t plan to do that, which is good because we’d arrived after it closed anyway.

Nashville (43)Beautiful! I love these colors together.

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Nashville (47)Aww, me with my best friend… husband Brent Thomas. Our 30th wedding anniversary is coming up in February 2018. I’m planning to throw myself a party. I expect him to come as my date. 🙂

Nashville (49)Another picture of me with my husband… Notice my necklace? Those are shells from Ireland. I picked them up at the beach in Dingle and near Cork. The earrings are a gift from my daughter Cassandra, I think from last Christmas. Thank you, Savannah for taking these wonderful photos of us parents!

Nashville (51)Meanwhile, our regular photographer can’t be bothered… Nicholas is busy taking pictures of…

Nashville (52)Well, of course… it makes sense that if you are in Nashville, Tennessee for the first time in your life, and standing directly across from a Parthenon, the most compelling thing to photograph extensively is the skid loader at the construction area. His comment? “It won’t be there tomorrow.” That kid fascinates me.

Nashville (54)My two girls…. Savannah and Cassandra

Nashville (59)I love this shot!!! I should frame it.

Nashville (178)Savannah, your smile always makes me happy!

Nashville (62)Oh there’s the boy… I guess he’s finally decided to visit the Parthenon!

I’m ready to see the gardens…

Nashville (69)Oooh, ahhh! The flowers reinvigorate my soul!

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Nashville (73)I want to drink it all in!

Nashville (72)Everything is so beautiful! I’m going nuts with my camera… I had to wade through hundreds of photos to pare them down to a reasonable stash for the blog!

Nashville (83)Do they pay the ducks to amuse the tourists?

Nashville (84)Pretty!!!

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Nashville (88)Cassie enjoying the beautiful Centennial Park in Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville (89)Brent and Savannah looking at the water… we saw a variety of critters: turtles, ducks, pigeons, swans, fish

Nashville (90)Passing by the Parthenon from the other side

Nashville (91)Nashville (92)Brent and Savannah leaving waterside area… our day trip is ending… but we haven’t seen the gardens yet

Nashville (94)Ooh, swans! (pretty, but I’m glad they’re staying over THERE… me and swans have a history…)

Nashville (95)Glad to see he’s enjoying himself… Just after he took these shots he spent a great deal of time photographing a squirrel.

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I’m rather proud of that shot, with the bird perfectly framed inside the tree branch.

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I love how the sun has cast shafts of light in front of the bridge.

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Nashville (103)Back to the water front…

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Nashville (110)This bird wasn’t cooperating with me… I was trying to capture the shimmery colorful area on the back of his neck.

Nashville (111)It was so bright and beautiful… had to wear sunglasses most of the time, and even then it was hard to take it all in

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Nashville (115)Savannah shares my love for flowers… she can’t resist photographing them.

Nashville (116)Wow, she looks so much like me here.

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Nashville (118)Happiness is seeing a single delicate rose, perfect in every way… knowing how hostile the environment can be and how greatly the odds are stacked against it surviving… Shouldn’t it have a torn petal, a stripped stalk, or a pitted leaf? Yet there it is, a beauty for us to discover. This pink flower lives by rising above the thorns, reaching for the sun.

Ah… getting out for the day was a very good idea! What a difference perspective makes!

Nashville (121)Be the roses.

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Nashville (126)There’s my Cassie girl! She’s always loved a swing.

Nashville (127)Brent sneaking in a phone call… so busted.

Nashville (128)LOVE!!!!!! This beauty will get me through the whole rest of the month!

Nashville (130)OH MY! I’ve landed in Munchkinland! I’m half expecting adorable townspeople to come out and sing to me. Where’s my big lollipop?

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Nashville (133)OK, this is getting outrageous! So much color!

Nashville (143)LOVE

Nashville (146)A bird flying over a perfectly idyllic scene

Nashville (150)Well, it just lacked a little something before…. Why not add a butterfly?

Nashville (157)Don’t keep your eyes on the ground…. remember to look UP too. This beauty is in a tree.

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Can you tell that the sun is lower in the sky? We better wrap things up.

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We can’t see it all… We never even made it over to the art gallery, or to the other side of the park! We’ll have to come back again a different day.

Nashville (170)One last lingering look…

Nashville (173)Goodbye, Nashville, we love you! We’ll see you again soon!