Busy. . . busy . . . busy . . . that’s what we’ve been much of this past week! We’ve been getting ready for my family, all eight of them, to arrive to spend Christmas week here in the Smokies with us! They should be getting here late tonight, so we’re getting the last few things on the “to do” list done! It’s going to be a splendid and very Merry Christmas with my family all around us and my little nephew, Tyler, and niece, Haydyn, here! It will be fun to see Christmas through the eyes of a child once again! In addition to getting ready for their impending visit, we spent quite a bit of time painting this past week as well. I have also been making numerous trips out daily to feed my feathered and furry friends. My little friend Stubbs, the Tufted Titmouse, has come several times, which makes me a happy camper. He’s very happy and content to sit in his bowl of finely crunched p-nuts and sunflower chips and gulp it down, and I’m perfectly content and happy to watch him!
We’ve enjoyed some fun times with friends and neighbors this past week too! Our neighborhood had a Christmas dinner party at a lovely restaurant in nearby Alcoa one evening. I took my camera with good intentions of getting a nice photo of the group, but alas we were having so much fun listening to our friends Gary and Pam, that I lost track of time and completely forgot to have a photo taken. Oh well, nonetheless, we were obviously having a ball, as they are great storytellers and very funny! Another evening, our friend Kit joined us, and we spent the evening at friends Fred and Barb’s house, where we were also joined by friends Pat and Frank. As we nibbled on some delicious snacks, we watched the Christmas movie “Elf”, and did more laughing than anything! A homemade orange-spiced brownie topped off with a bit of Extreme Moose Tracks ice cream put a divine ending to the evening! Fred and Barb graciously sent home more mealworms for my little wren buddy, Peedeepeeps, and Frank and Pat sent home “pizza bones” . . . pizza crusts . . . to be made into future peanut butter treats for the birds and squirrels. Many apologies for not having many photos to share with you this week, but you can be sure that next week’s blog will certainly be an exciting one, with numerous photos and entertaining stories to share!
Fresh off the easel ~ Wes finished his miniature painting of a White Rhino and I completed a cute little bunny. Both of these will be among our new paintings for the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) this coming February in Charleston, SC.
I must say that after the flurry of activity with being gone much of last month, traveling to our shows, and then doing lots of fun stuff while Wes’ parents were visiting Thanksgiving week, this past week has seemed rather a bit . . . well boring. It’s almost as if we sat here and scratched our heads, thinking “Now what do we do”. Well, what we did was after I put up my Christmas decorations, we began painting again, and Wes has also spent many hours framing paintings to be sent to various exhibitions. We also started back our daily routine of taking walks, and with a couple of days of milder temps, we actually got to ride bikes! I even got to wear shorts and a tank top one day . . . in December! The entire time I was thinking “Now, this is sweet!” The last four days have brought us cloudy skies and scattered showers . . . Ugh. I would gladly trade in the rain for snow, since somehow then the cold seems delightful and to be a blessing!
I have also been quite busy keeping all of my feathered and furry friends fed and happy, and this means feeding Peedeepeeps, my Carolina Wren, meal worms a couple of times every day, which our friends Fred and Barb are kindly sharing with me. He’s decided my hand is a warm retreat, so he will sit there for several minutes while I keep serving up another worm with my free hand. Then sometimes, he contentedly sits there a bit longer, before deciding to leave, which of course I don’t mind at all! When he flies off, with a worm to go in his beak, he flies directly into the artificial Christmas tree that remains on our back porch all year, for added privacy and as cover for the birds, especially in the winter. He loves to wiggle his way up through the branches and then sit on the end of a branch, as if he’s pretending to be an ornament, and a lovely one at that! One day this past week much to my delight, Stubb’s my Tufted Titmouse, returned and enjoyed eating mouthful after mouthful of peanut crunchies, while I fed Peeps his worms! Needless to say, I was in my seventh heaven!
Christmas has come to our house, and we’re enjoying our lovely Christmas tree and other decorations I put up about the house. The tree really looks beautiful during the evening on these short winter days, bringing light and joy to the interior of the house! My newest addition this year is a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Personally being a big fan of Snoopy and especially the Charlie Brown Christmas show, I have wanted one of these trees for quite sometime, so I was delighted when Wes’ Mom picked up the boxed tree and said “I’m getting this for you”, while we were shopping one day week before last! It now sits in the middle of our dining room table, where it looks quite lovely and much loved.
Fresh off the easel ~ Wes finished his miniature painting of a precious Warthog, which was photographed during one of our many visits to a zoo. I’m currently painting a miniature of a Crested Caracara, which I will share with you next week.
~ You can see our paintings this week at the following museums ~
The Kenosha Public Museum, Kenosha, WI; The Allentown Art Museum, Allentown, PA; The Harvey County Historical Museum, Newton, KS and The WaterWorks Art Museum, Miles City, MT. We also have work on display at galleries and exhibitions in Brownsburg, IN; Kingsport, TN; Chambersburg, PA; Sidney, MT; Kingston, PA; Lexington, MA and Bethesda, MD!
Occasionally in life you experience amazing encounters, and I was privileged to enjoy a couple recently. While sitting on the backporch eating breakfast and reading my devotions one morning, I heard the “Honks” of the Canada Geese far off in the distance. The honks quickly grew louder, and mere seconds after I had jumped up and ran to the uncovered side of the porch, seven of them, in perfect V formation, flew directly overhead, so close that I could hear the “Swish . . . swish . . . swish” sound of their wings as they flew over, and then I watched as they quickly disappeared above the woods on the other side of our house! Wow . . . I thought . . . that was amazing! Then a couple of hours later, while taking a break during our bike ride to enjoy a refreshing drink of water and looking for fish in the river down below an old one lane bridge, Wes suddenly said “Look . . . a Bald Eagle!” I looked and there flying toward us was a gorgeous Bald Eagle! He flew directly above us, so close in fact, that I almost felt as if I could reach up and touch it! Wow . . . I thought, another amazing encounter! Moreover, just the day before while sitting in my rocking chair on the back porch and watching my Titmouse, Stubbs, eating his peanut crunchies from his bowl, I heard the checking sounds of Warblers nearby. There right beside me in the Wisteria Vine was a beautiful female American Redstart, fanning out her tail feathers showing off the brilliant yellow patches on it, with a pair of Pine Warblers right beside it. They were all looking at me curiously, while making checking calls, and coming ever closer! They cautiously worked their way around and through the vine to where they were directly behind me and I thought for a minute they may jump on me! Then later that afternoon, while standing nearby Stubbs as he ate, my Carolina Wren, Peedeepeeps walked over to my feet and sat looking up at me, while Tinymouse, a Tufted Titmouse was sitting on my head, trying to do it’s best to fix my hair. Standing there in complete amazement at it all, I thought “Wow . . . it just doesn’t get any better than this!”
We have been blessed with a few “Storybook” days weather-wise this past week. So this past Monday, Wes and I decided to go on a lunch date to our favorite lunching spot. With lunches packed into our waist packs and walking sticks in hand, we started our ascent up the narrow, steep trial leading to Spruce Flats Falls. After rounding the first hairpin curve in the trail, we left the busyness of the world behind as we continued climbing. A few minutes later we came to a spot along the trail offering the first stunning view of the mountains off in the distance. There was a Sourwood Tree nearby, already displaying the first hint of autumn color creating a beautiful scene, with the mountains behind and the azure blue skies above! Onward we went, stopping occasionally to take photos of interesting flowers, or mushrooms, and the occasional lizard or two. Of course with this being a spectacular year for moss, I had to stop and pet several lovely, amazingly thick, soft clumps of it.
In no time we found ourselves reaching the falls, and Wes quickly found us a new picnic spot, which proved to be a great one! Taking turns, we carefully climbed over a couple of large rocks until we were perched on a big rock sitting right in the middle of the lower falls. What a perfect location it was, as we were actually sitting in the middle of the falls, enjoying not only the spectacular view, but also the sound of the cascading water in complete surround sound! There simply isn’t a better “restaurant” anywhere, than one located near a waterfall! There we enjoyed our lime and cilantro, smoked black bean Hummus sandwiches I had made earlier that morning, and finished off our yummy lunch with dark chocolate . . . of course! Feeling completely relaxed and refreshed, we started the hike back. It was a glorious day, and the gentle early fall breeze kept us nice and cool as we walked along.
We’ve also gotten a lot of painting time in this past week, as well as enjoying several evenings with friends. Thursday evening, neighbor friends, Richard and Melodie, joined us at our house for dessert and a game of dominoes. Friday evening, we met neighbor friends, Paul, Norma, Fran and Doug at our local Pizza Hut, where we enjoyed a delicious jalapeno smothered pizza. Afterwards, we had a game of Mexican Train at Fran and Doug’s house, while enjoying Fran’s homemade “Million Dollar Chocolate Chip Cookies”. Yesterday we rode bikes to “downtown” Townsend where we stopped at the Old Timer’s Festival to check out the old tractors being displayed there. I found my dream tractor, a beautiful cotton candy pink Farmall, and was immediately smitten! From there we rode down to our local Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, where we spent a couple of hours enjoying the Country Fair. We admired the numerous beautiful chickens being shown, petted a couple of freshly sheared sheep, which felt like velour, and saw a mama hog with her adorable pile of piggies. We watched a blacksmith at work and people weaving baskets, and thoroughly enjoyed watching the little kids chase the greased pig. Then last evening artist friend Kit, joined us for a spaghetti dinner, with homemade carrot cake for dessert. Afterwards the three of us walked down to our local bluegrass festival called the Old Timer’s Festival. It was a festive mood as the band cranked one fast tempo song after another, while the stage full of talented cloggers all danced the night away! Legs and feet were flying everywhere, as the taps of the numerous pairs of tap shoes all kept perfect time, many times sounding like one clogger. It was the first time Kit had ever seen the dance form of clogging, and heard live bluegrass music, so Wes and I were happy to introduce him to both!
Fresh off the easel ~We have finished several paintings this past week, including my surprise commission that I unfortunately cannot share with you yet. I finished my miniature painting of an adorable little Spotted Skunk, which we photographed at MacArthur Beach State Park and Wes finished his miniature painting of an Osprey. I am currently painting a dog and Wes hard at work doing some framing and show paperwork.