Sunday, August 28, 2016

On the Road to Wichita – Day 4

Sometimes traveling is tough.

I am done work by 9:40 a.m. It’s time to get on the road and I’m out of the hotel by 10:40 and after getting gas at a Sunoco station, I’m on Interstate 71S and then I-270W a couple minutes later.

The traffic is heavy and getting through Columbus with the construction is nerve-wracking. I hate the driving already this morning. I want to go home! I can’t see anything and I can’t take time to look. I fight back tears. Oh, why did I say I’d do this? Could I possibly find another route home? I don’t want to do this anymore – Whaaaaaaa whaaaa.

I reach I-70W and after some initial construction and moving out of the city, the traffic thins and I feel better. The speed limit is 70 miles per hour. The land is flatter here with more open fields. It dawns on me that I feel claustrophobic driving through the cities. It feels like the walls and traffic are closing in on me and I can’t breathe.

I cross into Indiana at 12:20 p.m. The sky is overcast and it’s windy when I stop at a welcome center. Unfortunately it isn’t manned and no one to ask about time change or if I should stay on I-70 through Indianapolis or go around on I-465. When I come out of the building, they skies look ominous. I take a few photos before getting back on the road.

Bridges in Indiana have concrete sides like in Ohio. I can’t see the rivers, but at least here, in the flat areas, I can see fields, trees, farms and such. Nice! Soon the sky falls and it rains. It’s gray, kind of like fog, but not fog. Am I willing to drive through Indianapolis in the rain and poorer visibility? Yes, I can be brave. But when I see a Comfort Inn sign in Greenfield, I decide to stop for the night.

Sometimes the hotels are not up to standards.

I’m glad to stop, but this place is awful! Everything about it is beat-up and old. The young women at the desk are very nice, though. I get a room on third floor and when I open the door, “Ewwww, it stinks like dirty socks!” The odor is similar to the hotel hallways in Syracuse. I think it’s the carpet cleaner they use. I get out my perfume and squirt it a bit.

I decide to take a swim before settling in to work. There looks to be pine needles on the pool bottom along the sides look. Where would pine needles come from here? The grip bar only extends to two steps and I cautiously make my way down the last three into the water. This is a safety hazard. The water is warm, but as I swim out to the deeper end and begin to do my exercise, I look around.

Where’s the clock? How can I time myself? Then I begin noticing things: Scrapes along the wall, the floor around the pool was painted a crap-color brown and looks really yucky… everything about this room feels gross. That’s it, I can’t take it and I swim back to the shallow end. I hate to touch the hand rail (once I struggle up the couple of steps to reach it) and notice that it’s all rusty-looking and dirty on the underside. Ewww.

I can’t get dry off and get back to my room fast enough. But it doesn’t get better. I can’t get on the internet and the phone won’t work, so it’s back down to the first floor. The desk clerk goes to the second floor to restart the internet then brings a new phone after not being able to get the one working. She offers to give me another room, but admits they’re all the same. I have too much stuff to move and I need to get to work.

I get used to the smell of the room although I feel slightly ill, like that weight that settles in your head just before you realize you are getting a cold. I struggle to get the work done because the chair is so uncomfortable. The adjustment doesn’t work (clerk said they are supposed to be getting new chairs) and if I move just right, it creaks just like my old chair back home before that one broke.

I can’t wait to get out of this place!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

On the Road to Wichita – Day 3

The lady at the hotel suggests visiting the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio, when I tell her I don’t want to go to downtown Cleveland and I want some place quiet. It’s only half an hour from the hotel.

I am on the road later than I’d planned as I had some blogging issues earlier. I want to drive for awhile before taking a break, but when I reach the exit and see the Holden Arboretum sign I decide to take the woman’s suggestion.

I drive and drive feeling like I’m veering too far from the interstate and getting into the middle of nowhere. Three times I almost turn around. I finally reach the place and there’s such an overall peacefulness about the entire area. I need this after stressful interstate driving.

I buy a general admission ticket and one for the canopy walk which also covers the 215-step tower (not sure I can handle that). The canopy walk sounds interesting, but I go inside the visitor center first. I explain my walking issues to the woman behind the desk and she says she will give me a special pass so I can park closer to the canopy walk. I see a garden out the huge back windows. I check that out first.

The back slopes down to a pond then up over flower gardens with fields beyond. I step out onto a terraced deck and immediately begin taking pictures. This is absolutely gorgeous! It’s a pollinators’ garden and the flowers and shrubs are amazing with colors and textures and patterns. One side of the pond has a fountain shooting water into the air and the pond on the other side of the bridge has water trickling down from the hill over rocks and into the pond.

I make my way down to the grassy path that meanders through the garden and around the pond. Benches are strategically placed to allow one to sit and contemplate. The chirp of birds and the trickling water sounds are soothing to the soul. Oh, yes, I need this after the busyness of the last couple of days.

I wander around, up a slope and down and cross another bridge circling back to the building. I sit under a pergola and look across the pond. I want to write a poem, but my mind is so boggled by the beauty, no words come.

Wait! Where did that pink water lily come from? I didn’t see it before. There’s another over on that side, then another. It’s like they are popping-up right before my eyes only I don’t actually see it happen. The blossom is suddenly just there. Oh, of course, there has to be pictures.

The sun gets to me. It’s hot and humid and it’s affecting my breathing. I feel woozy. Uh oh, I am not going to be able to do the canopy walk in this heat. The lady inside returns my $4. Darn.

I leave the parking area feeling a little downhearted that I can’t do the walking I used to do. I would make the attempt, but the heat would do me in. I stop for photos in a couple of places on my way back to the main road. I’m back on I-90W by 11:15 a.m. and soon take I-271. Oh no. There’s a division – I-271S Expressway and I-271S Local Traffic. What does that mean? Does it require a special pass? I take my chance and stay to the left.
Even getting through Cleveland on the expressway doesn’t mean it’s easier. There’s a lot of traffic and the speed limit drops from 70 miles per hour to 60 and is 50 through construction areas (of which there is a lot).

Interstate 271S goes on and on and there’s nothing spectacular to look at. This ends up to be another day of boring driving. I finally get on I-71S and it’s not much better. I get a glimpse of a farm every once in awhile. What’s really disappointing is that bridges all have concrete walls that you can’t see over, so I don’t get any river or water views. I suppose it’s good that my focus be on the traffic and road.

I see a Comfort Inn sign at an exit in Columbus. I want to call it an early day because I need to work. However, once off the interstate, I have no idea which way to go as there are no more signs. I can see a Hilton, a Residence, and a couple of other hotels from the traffic light, but no Comfort Inn. I turn right and drive for a bit then make a turn to try to get back. I take another road and then double back. I finally stop at the Residence Inn for directions and eventually I’m checked into the hotel at 1:50 p.m.

I would love to take the time to go for a swim in the indoor pool, but I’m afraid I have too much work. (I always panic that I won’t get it done in time, but I manage to do so.) Life is good.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Traveling to Wichita -- Day 2

Day 2 

I’m up at 3:45 a.m. My mind kept “writing” all night and now I just can’t think. I struggle with the writing between the journal and the blog and in the end, the blog isn’t done. But I’m done here and ready to move on.

It’s raining and 75 degrees when I leave the hotel. I’m upset by the exorbitant hotel costs. It’s not fair when I’m just passing through and I’m not here for the state fair or freshman orientation.

What amazes me are the huge billboards along the thruway that are way across fields. How is that safe driving trying to read those? One caught my eye about the Niagara Falls Museum. From what I could see, it sounds like it’s right on I-90. That would be cool. Maybe I will go to the falls.

I reach Buffalo, see a sign that says: I-290 Niagara Falls, and choose to stay on I-90 and all my attention is on the driving. I HATE driving through Buffalo! It’s a nightmare and I totally miss out on Niagara Falls.

Then there is the toll in Buffalo. It cost me $6 plus to get from Syracuse to this point and then a mile or so down the road is another ticket booth and at the last toll booth it cost me another $3. The entire thruway system from Albany to past Buffalo cost $16.05 (counting the two times I got off). Oh, I so want to find another way home, but to do so would mean I wouldn’t do Niagara Falls.

Today was a day of long, boring driving with not much to look at. I did see a few barns and silos that so catch my fancy and I even get a photo of one. I stop for lunch at a Golden Corral which offers a huge buffet. There are tons of choices. It’s not spectacular food, but you can fill up for a reasonable price.

One highlight of the day is that both Pennsylvania and Ohio have real visitors’ centers. I pick up maps and brochures. I consider doing a 13-mile drive around Presque Isle in Erie, Pa., as the lady at the visitor center suggested, but I stay on I-90W.

I end up in Painesville, Ohio, for the night. The first thing I do after dropping my gear in the room is to change into a bathing suit and head to the indoor pool. Oh, that feels so good after the 90 degree heat outside. I spend 15 minutes constantly moving. I’m back in my room a little after 4 p.m. and settle in to check messages and work.

This room is small and cramped with two queen-sized beds. It’s doable for the night. It would definitely be tight if two people were staying here.

I’ll sleep well tonight.

On My Way to Wichita -- Day

Side note: I journal every morning and now that I am taking another trip, I am trying to figure out how to not write things twice (journal and blog/book). No one would want to read some of the drivel that goes through my mind which I put in my journal. This new journey I want to make the reading more interesting for you, and yet, I want to tell my story.

For now, I am blogging a condensed version. Later I will go back and fill in more details.

This is it – the leaving. I’ve been relatively calm this morning after being in panic-mode the past few days, but the adrenaline is kicking in. I head out the door at 8 a.m. The sun is shining, the sky bright, and the temperature is 58 degrees. My goal is to reach Herkimer, N.Y., where I will take an Erie Canal tour.
Google Maps says Herkimer is a four-hour drive. It’s also where the Herkimer diamond mines are.

 I cross into Vermont an hour later and after taking the long way through Brattleboro, Route 9 narrows and begins its long, winding, ascent up Hogback Mountain. I love this kind of driving although there is a steady line of traffic and crossing into New York, the countryside opens up into long rolling hills and farmland with lines of trees and vegetation separating large sections.

I pass through Troy, N.Y., get on I-87S and soon pick up my ticket at the toll booth for I-90W which is the New York Thruway. It’s beautiful driving along the Mohawk River. I pass a couple of places that say something about Erie Canal locks, but I don’t stop. I need to be in Herkimer by 1 p.m. and I make it in time to get a ticket. The tours often fill up and they recommend booking online. I didn’t want to do that in case I didn’t make it.

It was a beautiful day for a boat ride. I love history and I’m fascinated by canals and know little about them. Unfortunately, the narration was a recording that had been played too many times or the speakers were bad. It was hard to listen to with all the static and the sssssss to the words and sometimes it would be ear-blasting. Very few people were listening and were talking amongst each other and to strangers.

Another woman traveling alone and I started conversing while waiting in line and we sat together during the beginning of the trip. Soon, though, I was up moving around to take pictures. People were so nice and graciously moved aside so I could get good shots. Some of us chatted and exchanged the “Where are you from?”

(I will later explain more about the tour and provide a brief history of the Erie Canal. It really is fascinating. I meant to go back in the gift shop to purchase a book, but it was hot and humid when we got back and all I could think of was getting in the car with the a/c turned on.)

My original intent was to spend night one in Utica, but the break from driving by taking the tour refreshed me and I kept going. I eventually found a Comfort Inn (my favorite hotels) in Syracuse. This is what can be fun with not booking hotels ahead of time. I can change my mind and be totally spontaneous. However, this time it was a huge mistake! It turned out to be the most expensive hotel I’ve ever stayed in and it was definitely not worth it for someone just passing through. (The clerk said the prices were jacked – even mid-week – because of the start of the New York State Fair and it was freshmen orientation at Syracuse University.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Designing art studio/living space

Living the Life of an Artist

Why do studios always have to be relegated to out buildings, back rooms, or basements? I know, for most people there are others living in the house and life often revolves around family. I no longer have those issues.

My art is my life. I live for my art. I want my living space to reflect that. Well, it does, but I want it better. Because I do my work in the main part of the house, my home always has the artists’ look with chaos and mess. That’s mostly because my current situation doesn’t allow for an immediate “home” for the supplies and tools with which I work. Some of my work space is on the second floor and some in the basement. However, the majority of what I do is centered at the dining area table and there are not enough storage areas for all my equipment.

How can I design my current space as an art studio? I can’t really. The layout of this house and what is already established is typical for family living. It is not conducive for putting computer, printers, easels, and other equipment and supplies that go with all that I do.

My dream is to design my living space around my art and MY life. I live alone so my work would not encroach on someone else’s space or take up family areas. Why couldn’t I design my home around my art and how I work? My life IS my art and I love what I do. I want my living space   centered around that.

I spend a lot of time thinking about what I need, how I would like things set up, the position of windows, shelving, cabinets, and counters, etc. I need to have things that are easily accessible because I’m the type of person that will not take the time to go searching for those things that I know are “somewhere” in a box or buried in a closet. The most difficult aspect of developing space is that I work in multiple media. There are painting, photographic, and charcoal supplies and all that entails, plus more.

There’s no sense in putting money into design right now because I am going to have to sell my current home and downsize within the next year. I am hoping to find someone who will be able to put my dream into a concrete design and reality in my new home. (‘Course it’s frustrating to have to wait to sell and search. I am no good with real estate and all that comes with moving.) Of course, it’s hard to visualize a layout without knowing what the house will look like, but I continue to dream… and plan…

What would you visualize as the perfect art studio?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Living the Life of an Artist

It’s funny how I can look at a photograph and think, “Oh, this will make a great, easy drawing.” When I get into it, I realize it’s not so easy after all. The drawing refuses to look like the photo. I ask myself how I missed that mountain or tree. I stare at the photo for what feels like hours and my eyes will totally slide right past things and then when I start getting into the detail, I realize I did not put in background shading in a particular spot. At that moment, it is so glaring, that I feel stupid for not seeing it before.

Maybe it’s the drawing’s way of doing what IT wants. Maybe there’s some intuitive feelings coming through me that wants the drawing to be its own work and not be a copy of a photo. (Not that any of my drawings are ever really a copy of the photo.)

Monday, February 13, 2012

It’s Sad About the Trains

Rockingham Junction Station
Newfields/Newmarket, N.H.

On Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012, Gayle Hedrington and I were off on another adventure, but time allowed for a detour from our objective. We both love to photograph anything about the railroad and I remembered this old station I passed many times throughout the years watching as time took its toll on the abandoned building. I even stopped once in 1989 to take photos. I was interested in the railroad, but hadn’t yet developed a real passion for photographing anything besides personal adventures and family. I didn’t even know the name of the station at the time. However, it always saddened me that these beautiful buildings were abandoned and a way of life that was once so important to N.H. communities and economy had died. Hence I had developed the line, “It’s sad about the trains.”

Views of the old building were usually from the Rte. 108 overpass. Before the overpass was built, Rte. 108 crossed the junction. The 2003 road map I have calls the section of Rte. 108 between the Stratham Traffic Circle and Newmarket, College Rd. I have never heard it called that. The old section of road no longer crosses the tracks and on this current visit, I accessed it from the south side.

I was concerned that the building might no longer be standing. I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was it still standing, it was being renovated. It looked so different from what I’d remembered. I kept looking around to see if it was the right place. I am pleased that the place is being restored, but they are doing it in blue and not the original yellow. For some reason, that is disappointing, but it’s wonderful that someone is taking the care to fix it up. We took a few photos.

Normally I would never go onto property marked with No Trespassing signs, but my fascination with the railroad and history takes over. I hope I am forgiven. I would never do anything or cause any harm. I totally respect property. All I want is photos and to share the story of adventure in discovering the history of the wonderful places around us.

A Little Bit of History:
Rockingham Junction, built in the 1890s, was once a bustling area. The north and south line was used by the Boston and Maine Railroad between Boston, Mass. and Portland, Me. An east west line, started as the Portsmouth Concord Railroad, connected Portsmouth to Manchester. Rte. 108, though I’m sure it wasn’t called that then, also passed through this intersection. The area also boasted stores, restaurant, and freight depot.

The station closed in 1979, the restaurant burned and stores went away. In 2007, the freight depot was demolished. The line from the junction to Manchester was purchased by the D.O.T. in 1988, the rails torn up and the section is now part of the Rockingham Recreational Trail program. The B & M was bought out by Guildford Railroad and the name later changed to Pan Am Railways. The north south tracks are shared with Amtrak’s Downeaster passenger service between Boston and Portland and there is still some freight service to Portsmouth.

To see photos, visit FaceBook, A Touch of Light.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Living the Life of an Artist

These past few months have been some of the toughest times in my life. My mother declined and passed away on Christmas day. She was on a gradual downhill roll and then reached a steep drop off. Her last two months were horrendous for both of us.

Now I am picking up pieces, clearing out space, and moving on. I have my moments when the sadness, regrets, and wish I should haves take over. Tears fall and sometimes I never know when they’ll come. Such is the grieving process.

In between getting used to be without my mother and working towards this year’s art shows, I am redesigning my living space. My mother was a collector. This week I am going through jewelry; her personal pieces, things she saved of my aunt’s, items they found at the beach coin finding or bought at flea markets. It’s amazing how much they had accumulated.

I’ve spent the week sorting into bracelets, rings, cuff links, earrings, pins, and necklaces, etc. Necklaces have been sorted further between gold looking pieces, silver, chokers, beads and pearls, and pendants. I have a box of religious items, a box of military/American Legion items, and many odds and ends. It’s overwhelming.

I am fascinated by some of the older items like rhinestone sets. I don’t think these have much value and the artist’s eye kicks in. I’m intrigued at the thought of using these in multimedia art work. Then there are the broken necklaces and stones that have fallen out. In the collection there are a few pieces that look to be about the 50 or 60s period and still good. I really like them and don’t want to let them go. I don’t know that anyone would wear them and again, I am intrigued by the idea of using the pieces in art.

I’m not much of a jewelry wearer myself, but I love the beauty and designs. I use them as wall decorations. The plan is to get rid of all that I don’t care for and keep some of the nicer pieces and those that I want to use in art.

To the collections, I added things from my own boxes, pieces I’ve had since childhood. I am wondering why I saved them all these years. Because I thought I was supposed to? Because some boy I no longer remember gave me a ring or chain? Most of those pieces have no value and are not in good shape. Chains are pitted and rings discolored. They’re just junk jewelry.

Then there are jewelry boxes. I really don’t want to hold on to things just because they were given to me and this made me wonder why I have done so. This might have to do with self worth. I must have been worthy for someone to give me gifts. Holding onto these things remind me that I was worth something to someone at one time. Is this especially so at a time in my life when I am no longer given gifts?

Yes, something to think about. In one aspect, I could say, okay I’ve thought about it, move on and not dwell on it. However, I have decisions to make. Do I continue to hold onto this stuff? For what? Or do I just pick out the things that are appealing to me now and get rid of everything else?

After dealing with all of my mother’s collections, I am very aware of all the things we accumulate. I need to downsize my house and what’s the point of holding onto all kinds of stuff. My life right now is all about the art work. I don’t need all this other stuff. It just clutters and takes up space. So, if it’s not going to go towards art work, decorating my walls, or be something useful, it’s going to go.

Yes, I will keep a couple things for sentimental reasons, especially if given to me by my mother or father.