aww

See this oil painting of a living sand dollar come to life in 1 minute (time lapse)

My daughter brought me one of the boxes she packed herself for our move, for me to load onto the POD container. She said it was fragile, and she was concerned about other boxes crushing it. I assumed that she had wrapped up her special knickknacks but when I picked up the box it was nearly weightless. It turns out that she had saved sand dollars she’d found at the beach and those were the fragile treasures she cared about. Not something from the store, but a memory of a beautiful day and a special gift from nature. Aww, times like these make me feel as if everything I wanted for her has come true.

BTW: The pumpkin vine we plan to take with us is even bigger! We are really going to look silly carrying that into our new yard.


No Word Yet

Watch oil painting “Generational Tree” come alive in just over 2 minutes (time lapse)

Our weather here is now beautiful, after being cold or raining for quite a stretch. I’m feeling like my tree landscape oil painting above- clear skies, rooted in positivity. There’s hope that things will all work out.

No update yet on the pre-approval financing for us to buy a house, so we’ll have to wait until Monday. We’ve been busy today though, as this weekend is a community yard sale event and we are very motivated to participate! I’m attempting to sell most of my garden and outdoor swing, potting table, etc. I was doing container gardening so the plants are in portable/sell-able pots and grow bags. I don’t want to burden ourselves with moving too many plants. I hope my sale goes well!

We also have some other things- many other things, as it turns out- that we can sell to lighten the load which saves money, while also raising some cash to help pay for the cost of moving everything we decided to keep. The timing of the community sales event was perfect! It’s been a lot of work to throw it together, but I’m glad we’ve had the opportunity. Good vibes that people will come out in droves and shop! It’s a beautiful day in the forecast- why not spend it buying someone’s well loved garden?


Small Signs of Hope

See this oil painting “God’s Promise” come alive in 2 minutes (time lapse)
See the real life place, real double rainbow in photos I took when a hummingbird flew into it

When I painted the double rainbow painting, I was disappointed that I didn’t paint it in a more realistic way, but it was meant to be a fast project. It was somewhat experimental, using a paper towel to blot and remove some color for a fading effect. It worked to some extent, but not to the level I expected. I could have done it better with a paintbrush. But that really wasn’t the point of that particular project. It told a story, which means it met the objective. I had to drop my personal disappointment and move on to the next painting as it was a heavy painting schedule that year.

Well, it was this painting that someone criticized as “a five year old could have done it”. In isolation, this particular art doesn’t represent the kind of work I’m capable of, or the body of work I have done. I thought about removing this from my collection, but I told myself that if I cannot remain humble enough to show my failures and disappointments, then I have lost my way. So every now and then, when I need a double rainbow painting to tell my story, I will dig this one back up even though I know that it doesn’t impress people who judge my art (and me).

Today I was feeling down because the house we inquired about renting had already been promised to someone else. We were too late, and it was upsetting because I’d reached out to the property management and they didn’t answer me. It is like I don’t exist and don’t matter, when it is their company who has managed the house that is pushing us to vacate- you’d think they’d care a bit more about our situation. It brings up a lot of times in the past when I was forgotten, abandoned, not noticed, rejected, and left to fend for myself. These aren’t happy feelings, but I’ll have to push hard and make myself (my family’s situation) noticed.

So, the stressful ordeal continues. We have two months to find a solution to our housing problem. I was stewing about this when washing our outdoor furniture today, preparing it to sell next weekend during a yard sale. I hope to raise enough funds to cover some of our moving costs, and also let go of things to reduce the load we have to move. It’s just stuff. We’ve let go of our possessions before and we can do it again. At least we get to keep more this time. But even so, you can image that my mood while cleaning our things, for others to take for very little, was not exactly joyful.

I scrubbed the furniture down with a bleach solution made with dishwasher pods and hot water, which worked very well to remove pollen and dirt. Then I hosed everything down while listening to music through my headphones (a luxury I don’t often have because I need to be always available and listening to the household while multi-tasking, but this chore was outdoors and I was alone). As I was spraying the water, I felt the sun on my face and realized that I was relaxed. I was enjoying myself- the beautiful weather, the exercise, the music, and the solitude. Everyone was either inside or at work. It was just me and the water, and my music.

This song was playing by MercyMe. The lyrics in particular at that precise moment were “You were made for so much more than all of this” You’re beautiful, just as a rainbow formed from the spray of water. The rainbow, even though easily explained as basic science- water from the hose was caught by the sun- felt like much more than a random event. The rainbow seemed to float in front of my face because it was windy and the water spray was spraying back at me. It was like it was my personal rainbow, almost ON my person.

“Beautiful” by MercyMe lyric video

I will take this serendipitous experience, the water spray rainbow as the MercyMe song played at that same moment, as a small sign of hope. Everything will turn out OK. We’ll weather through the challenges. And if you are going through a difficult time- may you too feel hope that your situation will soon change for the better.

May God bless you and keep you, may His face shine upon you, and give you peace.


You are Worth More

Watch oil painting “Sparrows” come to life

in 2 minutes (time lapse)

The last time I shared my sparrows painting was in April, in a blog post called “More than Sparrows“. But today I’m thinking about the “don’t be afraid” part of the scripture that inspired this painting:

Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

There are dire warnings of all kinds of upcoming calamities and a predicted dark winter, and indeed, we are facing many fearful events in this age. It’s important to control our fears and learn how to not be afraid. It’s normal to feel afraid, but the act of being afraid is a matter of spiritual choice. We can choose to be courageous even when we feel afraid.

We will never be able to eliminate all of the dangers that life throws at us, especially if powerful forces are intentionally creating terror and suffering… and throughout history, this has always been true to some degree. But if we allow our fears to consume us, we will not thrive, and we may even make ourselves ill. Survival isn’t about just barely making it through the ordeals of life, but ensuring that we are strong enough to endure it with such determination and resilience that there is a beautiful life stretched ahead of us.

To make it through to the beautiful life ahead of us, we must find the beautiful moments within the hardships. We can’t wait until life looks like we want it to, as we need peace and joy every day. Like nutrition for our bodies and wisdom for our minds, we need happiness for our spirits. It’s possible for humans to give up the will to live in their sleep and never wake up. That’s how powerful our spiritual self is. Despair is dangerous. We must fight against it!

May the common sparrow encourage us. They seem to have an insignificant life, yet they are wonderfully made to instinctively know how to find food and survive the challenges of nature. They do more than survive, they thrive. As in, they lead a full bird life, the best that a sparrow can do. I see them flying about, gathering socially with their fellow birds of a feather, and settling in on the platform of our bird feeder. Their needs are met, by nature and by mysterious interactions with others (like me, putting food out there for them to eat).

We too experience more moments in which our needs are met than moments when we are in lack. This is easily proven by the fact that we are right now still alive. If we had too many moments of lack, we’d- to put it bluntly- be dead. But we are not dead, and we mustn’t ever let our soul feel deadened when we are clearly very much alive. May our blessed condition of living be enough to desire to not just survive, but to thrive. Seek joy in every little thing. Do not be afraid.

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October Morning Surprise

Do you remember when I shared my outdoor painting experience this spring? Watch my Plein Air oil painting experiment in this 2.5 minute time lapse video.

This week, I saw a beautiful October morning sunrise over this same wooded lagoon, where I was painting in the April video above. I took this video footage (2 minutes, normal real life speed), because I just had to share it with you! I dropped in some music, and you really must stay tuned to the end, where two surprise guests make an appearance.

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Melancholy

Watch this lighthouse painting come to life in 1 minute

(time lapse)

I share this one when I’m feeling melancholic, flitting back and forth between faint optimism and bittersweet sentiment, and a gloomy premonition that something bad is about to happen. This sense of doom is partly an empathetic response to the way the wind is shifting on the world stage on a particular day, and partly a personal, individual perspective that is complicated and unique to me (although my own emotions are often astonishingly in sync with other fellow humans, even with people I’ve never met). 

Melancholy can be channeled into beautiful things. I tend to be more introspective and lost in my art when I’m feeling a bit blue. Depression or a funk is a different state, and I find no benefit to emotions so low as to be unproductive and damaging to one’s health. So I’m definitely not advocating for sadness that causes a person to have difficulty leading a normal life. What I mean is the kind of sadness that put us in a quiet, restful state that may evolve into empathy; a profound connection to fellow humans and our shared plight. This state of being is a good foundation for creating art.

When you’re feeling a bit blue, embrace those emotions by channeling them into a project you can escape into, as if alone at sea on a peaceful cloudy day, in which you can just see the comforting glow from a lighthouse. You won’t lose your way home. Stay in the cold murky waters for a while. Take in the beauty of the moment; as our joy is defined by our sadness. When we don’t know sadness, we may struggle to fully appreciate joy.

When we are weary, the lighthouse will lead us back to the shore. We can rest, and let our breath flow out, relaxed, letting go of all of our concerns. As we lay our heads on our pillows that night, we sleep deeply; our fears lose their grip, our sadness lifts, and when we waken in the morning our energy is restored. 

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I’m HOME!

All moved in and my Internet is up. Did you miss me? I missed you! I’ll catch up when I can. Just wanted to post

Moving Day!

This looks nothing like the house we’re closing on, but our house IS in Savannah. I had no idea when I painted this several years

MOVING TOMORROW!

WHEW! The issues are finally resolved and our delayed close on the house will happen TOMORROW! Tomorrow is moving day! I shall fly like this

S T R E S S E D

Today was a highly stressful day. We still haven’t closed on the house and we are now running out of time for the moving pods,

BAD DAY

Well, there must have been a bad moon a’rising because today was a horrible day. The close on our house was cancelled, and then thankfully

Super Laundry!

My son is college age now, not a little boy like in this art for children’s book “Grandpa Smiles” (about my dad, who died before

Happy Day!

Today we had the opportunity to bring the kids to the house we’ll be closing on. Until now, they’d only seen the pictures and video.

Bandits!

These birds have been coming around and stealing our strawberries! What a disappointment! I was enjoying a fresh berry with Cool Whip as a snack

Easy Going

This painting was a “free paint” project, in which there is no reference, plan, or agenda other than to let the paints flow. I start

Joyful Memories!

Moving is so hard and bittersweet. The passage of time is on display with every box that is packed, every room that is emptied. Today

WOOT!

“Fred” was my dad’s nickname for me. This painting was inspired by a black and white photograph he took to complete an assignment for a

Wild Days

Ever feel that you live your life with reckless abandon, like these wild horses? What do they care about consequences or the worries of tomorrow?

aww

My daughter brought me one of the boxes she packed herself for our move, for me to load onto the POD container. She said it

Nature’s Music

This painting was an experiment. A talented indie composer shared his work online and I asked if I could use it to paint what I

Ooh, Pretty!

These flowers are probably the closest thing I have right now to what my new “Freedom Rose” looks like, but imagine the buds and open

LOL, Pumpkin

I planted a couple of pumpkins in grow bags and decided that I’d take those to the new house. Well, one of the pumpkins decided

Bearing Up

The PODS container was dropped off today. I spent hours packing the first round of our household, mostly by myself. I felt victorious, like this

Lead me HOME!

When I painted this city of Savannah oil painting, I had no idea that I’d one day live not very far from this fountain square.

Strawberry Mine!

Guess what’s ready to eat already? I had the most delicious vibrant red fresh strawberry with a bit of whipped cream, MMMM! But you know

Moving Soon!

Oil painting “Autumn Cottage”, time lapse video to watch Natalie paint this art, journey of move during housing crisis

Be Thou my Vision

I hope you are enjoying this Easter weekend with loved ones and are feeling peace in your spirit. I’ve uploaded the Easter Show 2022 in

HAPPY NEWS!

Thought this joyful hymn was a good choice to celebrate my good news update: WE GOT THE HOUSE! We still have the inspection and the

Missed it?

If you missed last year’s Easter Show, here it is. It’s quite different from the 2022 show in many ways, but yet the general format

Show on YouTube

My Easter Painting Variety Show is now on YouTube, for those who prefer that platform for easy sharing. The best video quality is here on

Holy Week Begins

On this Palm Sunday, may you feel encouragement for the week ahead and the hope that Easter and spring instills. Today we put down an

EASTER SHOW LAUNCHED!

HERE IT IS! Launching my new Easter Painting Show now, to give you time to share this special video with your family, friends, and social

Show Update

I finished the final taping segment for my Easter show today! When the video is finished I will launch the show, giving you time to

Faith over Fear

Well, we finally got our pre-approval, but the house hunting news is bleak. First of all, we couldn’t get the loan type we wanted, and

They’re Back!

Today was a horrible day- seeing a painted bunting was one of the few good things about it, so I’ll focus on that. Painted buntings

Packing Up

I spent several hours today packing up my art in preparation for our unexpected move. You can probably recognize ones I’ve shared with you (in

Gator Tale

Something interesting happened yesterday at the sale. It was the last day of the 2-day event and I was discouraged because we still hadn’t had

Exceeded the Goal!

It was a day at the beach! No, it was a day spent in the driveway selling our things in the yard sale, but my

What a Day!

I’m so exhausted, I feel like this jellyfish painting- surreal and floating. Guess what? Day one of the sale (I mentioned this yesterday) already exceeded

No Word Yet

Our weather here is now beautiful, after being cold or raining for quite a stretch. I’m feeling like my tree landscape oil painting above- clear

Whirlwind Day!

Mellow music, marshmallows on a stick, and dancing flames – a fire can be welcoming and sentimental – childhood memories, family vacations, and warmth on

Wish me Luck!

Yes, these are just weeds, but when I saw the dainty sprig of clover and its pretty delicate yellow flower, I thought of shamrocks and

Resistant to Change

Well, guess who’s cranky about our unexpected move? Mr. Cardinal. He was giving me the sulky grump face all afternoon because I moved things around

They’re Back!

The hummingbirds are BACK! LOL, I’ll tell you how I encountered their return. I was preparing for our unexpected move, and taking down the garden

Out of our Control

Tonight I’m disappointed that the houses we contact a listing agent about are already spoken for, before we even get a chance. Listings have dozens

Small Signs of Hope

When I painted the double rainbow painting, I was disappointed that I didn’t paint it in a more realistic way, but it was meant to

It’s a No

The update to yesterday’s post “Feeling Froggy?” is: no. No, the home owner is not willing to extend our lease by one month so that

Feeling Froggy?

‘Tis the season- the tree frogs are back! I’d seen a few earlier, but they were hiding in the drawer of my potting bench or

Spring of Hope

Today was much better! It was a beautifully gorgeous sunny and warm spring day. I was right, my next blog post isn’t a dreary “Losing

Losing Hope

Well, the rental market has spiked out of control! The cheapest rent for the number of bedrooms we need, expanded to a wide area that

First Day of Spring!

How did you spend the day? I sang a few hymns with a virtual church who didn’t know I was there on the other side,

30 Seconds

A lot can happen in 30 seconds. Here, through the magic of time lapse, this tree that I painted when we were living in a

Letting Go – Again

I’ve used this same painting for a very similar blog post called “Letting Go”. In that post I said these wise words “We may not

A Gift for You!

First, do you remember this one? Watch my oil painting of geese come to life in just over 1 minute (time lapse).

And now, I’ll explain the gift that came to me this afternoon (relating to geese!), and I’ll share my gift with YOU. Yesterday I talked about how I needed to do strenuous landscaping in a hurry so that we don’t get fined for not having the property edged, trimmed, etc. It was a heavy job because we have had alternating extreme heat and tropical rains, a combination that makes it difficult to keep up with the lawn care while at the same time making invasive plants grow like crazy, very quickly.

My husband is scheduled to work long hours, so it was up to me to get it all done. My oldest daughter was available to help and the two of us did a mammoth job. I was a bit sulky and resentful because I didn’t think the tone in the email from the property manager was called for, nor was the threat of a fine upon very first notice of this necessary. We have never had any violations before, always pay our bills on time, and are never a problem for anyone. I think the courtesy of a notice that simply asks us to do it would have been sufficient instead of going straight to “you have a violation” and if we don’t fix it before the deadline we will have further violations and fines. Good grief, it’s just a yard! Stuff grows, then you cut it. We caused no property damage, and this urgency is ridiculous.

So the past two days my daughter and I have worked together to cut and remove branches, trim hedges, clear weeds, and edge the sidewalks. We probably overreacted and did more than what was expected, but I didn’t want any more problems. I try to do MORE than expected in everything I do. We cleared all of our things off from the cement surfaces and swept everything. We bagged up the debris. All of this, and my daughter never complained. Instead she said, “I really enjoyed working with you.” And I realized, I really enjoyed working with her too.

 

Now, for the thing that made the experience surreal and magical:

The entire time we were working today, under gorgeous sunny skies, there was a flock of geese enjoying an afternoon with us! The serenity energy of these large beautiful birds created peace, and reversed the feeling of being judged, punished and treated unfairly, (as a pattern in life, not just this specific landscaping situation); unmerciful when I commit the smallest offense, when I’m already trying as hard as I can to balance all the challenges that come my way… No. Even when people don’t extend grace to us, God always does. I had a rare cool morning to do the heaviest labor, and a warm pretty day for the lighter load. And that’s when the geese shared the afternoon with us. These are wonderful things!

Before I show you your gift, I want to talk about perspective. There was a woman who showed up, a frequent trespasser whose family treats the property behind our row of houses (the area by the lagoon, which none of us own, and is restricted) as her personal park, even though there are “no trespassing” signs and she doesn’t live in one of the houses on our row. She’s an annoying rude person who is obnoxious, yells and then ignores her child, drives off-road vehicles through the property, brazenly fishes with her family even though that is not allowed, and so on, sometimes for hours, late at night, and even on holidays like Christmas and Easter. So all of us who live on this row are forced to see her and her rude family spread out doing whatever they like, as the sole view from our back patio windows, the only windows we have on that side of the house. In other words, there is no escaping seeing this awful group (sometimes they bring friends as well!) spread out having their own loud gathering. I’d report her if it felt like the the thing to do, but it doesn’t. It feels like I should simply close the curtains and ignore what they do. So, that’s what I do.

Well, she was sitting there on the bank near the geese for part of the time we were working outside. She was looking at and then yakking on her phone the entire time. Why bother going to a scenic place if you’re just going to look down at your phone? Did she even see the geese? She eventually left, with the phone still on her ear. 

Another woman was outside, a neighbor. She was apparently alarmed by the large flock of geese getting too close to her yard. She sprayed them with a hose and yelled at them. Then she went inside. So, I guess she didn’t see what I saw. The thing is, these are migratory geese. They won’t stay long. We can choose to appreciate their beauty or not.

There are many bad things happening in the world today. And on a personal level, we all have challenges that are large, and small ones like my manic race to get the landscaping work caught up. So when we see something beautiful, that literally lands in front of us, it is a gift. It was a gift for me, and now a gift for you. I video taped what I saw and dropped music in. And now it’s like you were with me, seeing this too. Enjoy, and God bless you.

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Moving Day!

This looks nothing like the house we’re closing on, but our house IS in Savannah. I had no idea when I painted this several years

Read More »

MOVING TOMORROW!

WHEW! The issues are finally resolved and our delayed close on the house will happen TOMORROW! Tomorrow is moving day! I shall fly like this

Read More »

BAD DAY

Well, there must have been a bad moon a’rising because today was a horrible day. The close on our house was cancelled, and then thankfully

Read More »

Super Laundry!

My son is college age now, not a little boy like in this art for children’s book “Grandpa Smiles” (about my dad, who died before

Read More »

Are you an angel?

Watch me paint “We are the Angels that He Sends” in 1 minute

(time lapse)

“This art was inspired by coincidence, fate, serendipity… or divine intervention, depending on your belief system. A casual friend I knew from many years ago contacted me out of the blue. She was traveling through the state I lived in- which was a long way from where we went to school together, and where she still resided. Knowing I lived in Minnesota at that time, she asked me for advice on best routes. Well, it turned out that she was going right by me.

 

It would only be a small detour to drop by our house for a coffee break. So, while she’d never been to my home when we knew each other, and we’d never seen each other outside of a few classes at school, decades ago… she was happy to accept my offer of coffee. I wondered if we would even recognize each other.

 

Of course we did! She greeted me with a big smile and I invited her into our quiet home. My husband had just had surgery and he was recovering in the bedroom. I was taking care of him on my own and I felt drained, overwhelmed. The stress of the surgery was over, and now I was exhausted, yet still anxious.

 

Most of all, the quiet of the lonely house felt loud. But my friend was there- an angel at the door. She talked to me for hours. I gave her advice on something she was dealing with, and it was with reluctance that we finally hugged good-bye. God sent her to me, straight to my doorstep, right when I felt so alone and overwhelmed.

 

Well, later on, when I thanked her and told her how she was an angel appearing at the right time, she was stunned, because it was she who felt that of me! Pouring her heart to me about the things she was struggling with, and receiving what she felt was authentic helpful advice, was me being HER angel, who just happened to live near where she had to pass through…with a listening ear, hugs, and coffee ready to pour.”

 

                                                     -from book “50 Oil Paintings Inspired by my Christian Faith” by Natalie Buske Thomas

Natalie painting "We are the Angels" 2014
Angels Art oil painting by artist Natalie Buske Thomas

There are times in our lives when we have an opportunity to be an angel to someone, and we might not even realize our role in that moment. When we remain open to serendipity and connections, we find them. When we have a trusting and vulnerable heart, angels find us in return.

 

It is said that “no good deed goes unpunished”, but that’s a cynical view of this beautiful life. The truth is, no good deed goes unrewarded. We may not see the blessings right away, but they are stored ahead for us.

 

Are you an angel? I’m trusting that you probably are. ❤️

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Are you a tiger?

Watch me paint this tiger in 2 minutes (time lapse)

My daughter wanted me to paint a tiger. This art now hangs in her room. She has a large plush tiger that stretches out the length of her bed, tiger patterns on some of her clothes, tiger jigsaw puzzles, and probably other tiger themed items that I haven’t remembered. Clearly, the qualities of a tiger greatly appeal to my daughter.

She says that that tigers seem “strong and happy and free”. Tigers are like cats “but have not been made small for people to keep. They aren’t tamed. Tigers in the wild seem happy. They like to swim and they enjoy life.”

Are YOU a tiger? Do you embody the qualities of an exotic cat? My daughter also adds that tigers are beautiful. I agree that animals with vibrant colors and markings are beautiful, but I think what’s most beautiful is the idea that they live a happy and free life.

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Downsizing our Dreams

Watch me paint these peaches in 1 minute (time lapse)

When the company that my husband worked for sold their work overseas and “downsized”, he had to train his foreign replacements before eventually losing his job. We sold the home we’d built, downsized, and moved. Our expectations for the future were downsized as well. Or were they?

Since we no longer had jobs or a house, we were free to travel and move wherever we wanted to go. That journey is a long story that would take many blog posts to write. We are forever changed; we are stronger and better. But I’ll skip ahead, to when we returned to the United States with no savings left, nothing but a plan for how we’d start over.

The days of owning our house and having large garden are now long gone. Our plans for a new life are underway, but we’re still a couple of years from finishing our 5 year plan. My husband went back to school. He’ll be an intern in the fall and graduates next spring. It will be two or three years until we are in a position to move from our current station in life. 

So, it’ll be a few more seasons of working from my “studio” in the kitchen/laundry room/living room space (a section of wall by the patio doors) with only patio space available for gardening. Because of this, it’s wise not to plant anything too big. So, when I asked my husband to look for a peach tree, I was very clear that I meant the dwarf variety that is suitable for patios and small spaces. 

He came home with this.

It blots out the sun in this picture I took this morning! 😲

I took one look at it and said, “It’s bigger than I thought it would be. It’s a dwarf variety?” The expression on my husband’s face told me all I needed to know. 😂

Well, it’s mine now! I dreamed of having a real peach tree ever since we knew we’d move to Georgia. I’d downsized that dream to a dwarf patio tree because I thought that was my only option. But… I’m pleased that my husband didn’t remember my lengthy conversation about dwarf peach trees and bought a REAL full sized glorious tree!

And look! There’s already a peach on it! Now, this one may not develop and may fall off before maturing, as this peach tree is young, but it’s still such a beautiful symbol of hope for the future! I took more pictures… I love how the early morning sun made these look powerful.

In the picture below, the branches on the left are from an established mature tree on the property. So you can see that this peach tree is quite tall. My husband says he can trim it down if necessary when we move. It will be a challenge, but he’s determined to transport this tree to our unknown, yet-to-be-realized future home. We are quite crazy, he and I (the good kind of crazy that makes life worth living).

The peach tree soars above our container garden trellises. Speaking of which… the trellis on the left is for my cucumber plants. I plan to make homemade pickles, like I used to do ten years ago when we still had our house. The trellis on the right is for the grapevine I rescued from the dead. It was a nearly discarded, nearly dead vine when I got it. I nursed it back to health and now it’s thriving. Its leaves cover the entire trellis and will soon go over the top! There were some early grapes, but they were tiny and sour. Someday it will produce sweet juicy fruit!

You can see my garden more in this shot. There are bell peppers, a blueberry plant, and herbs in the bottom part that I need to transplant soon. The big leafy “tree” on the right is the grapevine I was telling you about. The view of the lagoon and the woods is quite pretty and I appreciate it very much. It’s the common view that all of our houses on this row share. One last picture, below.

Here you can see my work for today, besides painting of course… and housekeeping that’s gone amiss. The vertical garden on the left is new. The five planters are all empty (the leaves you see are from the tree behind it). As I mentioned earlier, I need to transplant the herbs that have overgrown their pots (the ones in the bottom of the gardening cart). I also have new seeds for salad greens that I’ll be planting. 

To the right, those pots where things look dead and scraggly are my roses. They usually do very well but are in a temporary barren state because they were treated for a fungus. Their leaves die off when this happens and then grow back better. They are prized roses normally, and I’ve painted them in several of my art projects.

I thought I’d have to wait two or three more years to have a food garden, but my daughter showed me otherwise. She was pining to garden and we bought her a container garden of her own. It’s on the secondary patio square that used to have an outdoor dining set on it (I cleared that so she can garden, the chairs had fallen apart anyway). 

Sometimes we do things for others that we really want to do for ourselves, but have not given ourselves permission to do so. Of course I was aware all along that I could start a container garden and did not really need a home of my own or a yard. Obviously if I can grow roses I can grow food. But doing so felt like I was committing to this temporary life. I stubbornly refused to plant anything too permanent, anything that would involve an investment. 

For weeks I watched my daughter blissfully tend to her plants. My resistance was starting to crack. I even painted her strawberry plant for the new art collection. Remember this one?

She won’t get much of a harvest since she’s dabbling with only one plant or a few plants of each type of fruit or vegetable she wants to try. So, the only way the rest of the family will get any fresh garden foods is if I plant my own garden, and we are passionate about our perpetual evolution to a healthier lifestyle. So, really, I’d be doing what’s right for my family…

Once that seed was planted in my head, it was only a matter of time before literal seeds were planted in soil. Of course the garden expanded beyond my original plans to just get a couple of peppers, and maybe a few herbs… how about cucumbers for pickles… don’t we need salad greens? We need oregano, surely. How about a PEACH TREE! 

Just when we resign ourselves to downsizing our dreams, life has a way of presenting us with opportunities. Do we take on a peach tree that requires we really do get a house of our own again, with a yard to plant this before it grows too tall? Do we expect our dreams to come true, or not? Sometimes it seems we are asked to commit to our plans. Maybe it’s a test. If so, I passed! 

Is there anything in your life that would give you enjoyment if only you gave yourself permission to do it? I tell you, I made “compound butter” (butter that is whipped until creamy, then fresh garden herbs are added such as rosemary, parsley and chives, then the butter is whipped again and molded into a log to wrap with waxed paper and chill), and it was DIVINE! I put it on fresh bread but I’ve read that people use it as cooking oil and put it on meat as well. I watch my calories so I’ve not buttered everything yet, but when I can fit it into my diet I’m going to add it here and there. It’s DELICIOUS!!!!

I was so proud of myself for making compound butter, even though I didn’t actually make the butter itself. My husband had made butter for us a few times back in the days when he had a part time job milking cows at a dairy farm. He’s led an interesting life, that man. And because of it, he’s learned how to do a wide variety of things. But, we aren’t making our own butter for this project. What makes it so fabulous are the fresh herbs combined with the creamy addictive nature of butter. It’s amazing how trying something new elevated my spirit!

I have long term goals to reach, and the day-to-day of it can feel confining sometimes, especially since I work in such a tight space. I can reach out and touch my art easel from my computer desk. If I spin around in my chair, I can reach out and touch the kitchen table. Beyond the table is the kitchen itself. The din of an active family clanking and splashing around in there at all hours is only a few feet from my head. Then, there’s the laundry machines, which my son has currently packed full of all of his clothes without sorting by color (no, I’m not going to bother having that conversation). The machines are in a “closet” in the kitchen. None of this is artist zen, not even close!

We are starting our fourth year of this living arrangement, and I could have the attitude that I must steel myself up for a couple more claustrophobic noisy years of working as hard as I can to reach our goals, or… I can view this chapter in our lives as a beautiful time in which our kids are rather trapped into living under our roof and we’re all muddling through with people we love. There will be a day when I’ll miss this togetherness, these days of managing moods flying at me from all corners on the intense days, and laughter filling the space on the good days. Sometimes the tears and laughter change from minute to minute.

Whenever your dreams feel downsized, perhaps you’ll remember my story of the peach tree, and use it as a metaphor for whatever it is that you have put off doing. You can “plant your tree” now. Don’t worry if it seems you’re running out of time. You can trim it back. One day, you and that tree will be where you want to be, and you’ll have beautiful fruit when the season is right. Until then, enjoy the journey, because no matter how difficult these days may be, they will end. 

Time is precious. Downsizing our dreams doesn’t mean that we stop living. It only means that we plant our future gardens in a temporary space.

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