Wow . . . the New Year came in roaring like a lion!! We Left last Sunday a week ago, for Okeechobee, Florida, to visit with my family for a few days. The snow had just melted from our yard a day before we left. The weather was warm and sunny in south FL, so I tried to enjoy as much of the outdoors as possible, which made my precious nephew, Tyler, very happy! Monday morning, my Dad, Tyler and I headed over to my cousin’s property to “feed up” while he was away. This was perfectly fine with me and Tyler as we both love animals and being outside! While dad did most of the actual work, Tyler and I petted everyone that we could, pretended to drive and old Ford tractor, climbed trees and other very important things such as these.
After dad was finished, the three of us headed out for a relaxing walk in the pasture. Happily, we were escorted by about 60 beautiful heifers as we walked along. When we reached the woods across the way, we came to some native fruit trees. It was time for the fun to begin, so dad got out his pocket knife and started cutting up grapefruit into small pieces for us to feed the cows. Word spread quickly and in less than a minute all 60 plus cows were there waiting for their share. When one cow with a nice set of horns came up, it was then that I decided that it was time for me to also come to the other side of the fence. So, for half an hour, dad graciously cut up the fruit and we fed the hungry bunch until there was enough cow slobbers around to drown an elephant! With hands covered in it, we made our way through the woods to a lovely little creek to wash up. Reluctantly, we started the walk back, knowing it was time to return home. Of course there were several great Live Oak trees for Dad and me to climb, as well as numerous piles of “meadow muffins” (mostly dried) for Tyler and I to step in on the way back. Oh the wonderful things, such as this, his Aunt No No taught him while there!
Having spent many, many hours playing with my brother and two cousins on this property, while growing up, created a special place for it in my heart and memories! As kids, we spent numerous hours, playing in the creek, climbing trees, petting cows, walking through cow patties, and many other wonderful activities that a kid growing up in the country is blessed to enjoy! I wouldn’t trade those memories for anything! So when I get to return here, I feel like a big kid again. Although, Wes would say that I’m pretty much always a big kid, no matter where I am! Anyway, I so enjoyed feeding and petting the cows, and really enjoyed petting a beautiful little donkey named Patches! He was adorable and enjoyed every bit of attention that Tyler and I gave him!
We spent the rest of the week just relaxing and enjoying the outdoors as much as possible. Tyler and I along with his sister Haydyn, enjoyed several nice walks, and were sometimes joined by Mom and other members of the family. We also enjoyed just sitting out in the backyard, by a lovely pond with a gorgeous view of a oak hammock behind it, especially when the sun would set. Florida certainly has some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world! I also greatly enjoyed brushing Joey the horse, making him look very handsome indeed! I don’t know who enjoyed this activity more, me or Joey! We spent several hours throughout the week, playing with Tyler and little Haydyn, which I know that my Mom greatly appreciated, as she babysits during the week.
The visit too quickly had to end and it was time for us to head over to Dunedin, FL for the MASF show opening. The drive over was lovely and we arrived in time to help set up the MAA traveling exhibit which we had brought with us. Unfortunately by that evening, a sore throat that Wes had gotten a day earlier, had gotten much worse and he also began running a fever. So we spent a quiet evening in the hotel room, with him getting much needed rest. Saturday morning soon came and it was time for the show to open. It was well attended with excited buyers coming to make their purchases. That afternoon, Wes felt better, so we went to Honeymoon Island to enjoy walking around for awhile, getting some fresh air and enjoying the warm sunshine. There must have been 15 pairs of Ospreys attending their nests, as well as a pair of Eagles that are also currently nesting there! It was a gorgeous afternoon, and although Wes felt under the weather, we had a really nice and relaxing time. After we returned from walking the nature trail, we walked along the beach for a bit, watching the surfers making great use of the waves, and photographing several beautiful seagulls and Ruddy Turnstones.
That evening we enjoyed a nice artist’s party at the Dunedin Fine Art Center, where the show is being exhibited through the end of this month. Unfortunately, later that evening Wes’ fever came back once again and he started to worsen a bit. By the time the awards brunch had ended the next day, he had lost his voice all together, making it very difficult to talk and answer questions about his much anticipated book, “Modern Masters of Miniature Art in America”, that was kind of being debuted at the show opening.
That evening after enjoying a nice meal with a group of friends and artists, and returning to the hotel, we both thought at one point that I was going to have to take Wes to the ER, as he could hardly swallow, as his throat hurt so badly but at least he no longer was getting the low-grade fever in the evening. We made it through to the morning and decided to start our journey home, since we were trying to get home in time to fly to Arizona today, for our work shop that was to be this weekend. We made it to Macon, GA, where we had to spend the night, as the roads at that point were impassible through Atlanta due to the terrific ice storm. Once again, Wes’ throat took a turn for the worse creating for a long and somewhat scary night. I was trying to be the best nurse possible, making numerous cups of warm salt water for him to gargle with, giving him medicine at certain hours and trying to keep plenty of liquids available for him to drink. It was very hard to communicate as he still couldn’t talk at all, and had to write down everything. Once again he was bad enough that I thought I might have to try and get him to an ER. He claimed it to be the most painful sore throat of his life! We waited awhile the next morning before trying to get through Atlanta in the window of time that afternoon, when the temperatures would be above freezing.
Big mistake! Much of the roads, especially the numerous overpasses in Atlanta were totally covered in snow and ice! And we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of it, before we realized just how bad it was, so there was no option at that point but to slowly creep forward! It was a grueling couple of hours trying to get through there going about 5 miles an hour, with Wes barely even using the gas petal, as the van was just sliding forward! At one point we were following not too far behind a snow plow that wasn’t able to plow, but was laying down salt and sand. Hoping to find a much needed restroom, we finally made it far enough to find a off ramp and a grocery store that was open. Getting in was another thing of great difficulty as the parking lot was an ice skating rink! Thankfully, after shortly being back on the road, it cleared up a bit, and after we realized we had gotten on the wrong road in the midst of the stressful driving conditions, we returned to the correct road and safely headed home at a normal speed.
Thankfully, we made it home safe and sound by late Tuesday evening and were greeted by a beautiful big snow! Another adventure for the memory banks indeed! However, Wes still felt very badly and couldn’t talk at all. Wednesday, I started unpacking and repacking with plans to try to fly out this morning, despite Wes continuing to feel poorly. We kept hoping that he was going to recover quickly. However, later that day his eyes became infected as well, and he could hardly see out of them as well as developing a bad cough that gave him a terrific headache. Needless to say, as much as we hated to do it, we had to cancel our much anticipated workshop at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Also because of freezing during the night, we couldn’t get the van out either and were going to have to rely on someone else to get us to the airport. It just seemed as if it was one thing after another. We feel so very, very bad about it and are so sorry to have disappointed the many people that had made plans to attend it. Frustratingly, sometimes I guess one can only do so much though . . . but we certainly tried!
So alas here we are at home tonight instead of in Arizona getting ready to begin our workshop tomorrow. After all of the stress throughout this past week, I was more than happy to be able to enjoy an hour of sledding this afternoon. It’s amazing how relaxing flying down a snow covered hill while being surrounded by a white, glistening world with blue skies above, and not hearing a sound except for the songs and tweets from the birds, can be!! Thankfully, Wes feels a bit better tonight and I’m finally sure that he is indeed going to make it!! After this past week, that is a great feeling!!
Fresh off the easel: I’m sharing a miniature drawing that I did of my nephew Tyler and niece Haydyn for my parents for Christmas. I really enjoyed doing it, since I don’t get to work in pencil that often, and especially in miniature!
Well, I hope your New Year has started off on a much better note! I’ve decided that we’ve obviously gotten much of the bad over with in the first week, so maybe it will be smooth sailing for the rest of the year 🙂
Until next time ~ Rachelle 🙂