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‘Overview’ of my trip to the States.

“Travel makes one modest.   You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world”   Gustave Flaubert

During the past month, I have visited seven States, have slept in ten different beds, taken two Amtrak trains, one domestic flight from Washington DC to Atlanta, five car rides and one ferry.

Along the way, I have been with family, dear friends, three babies, numerous animals and have met some wonderful new friends who I am quite sure I  have met in previous lives…..

I dodged some major storms, experienced lots of rain and sunshine in almost equal measure and throughout it all so much joy and laughter prevailed.

After having made plans for the trip, I then let go of all preconceived notions and allowed things to unfold naturally, and they did in the most perfect of ways.    The magical hummingbirds were clearly with me all the way….  20-11-15 - 1 (1073)The adventure began with my beautiful daughter Christie meeting me at Boston’s Logan Airport.      I then got to meet LILO aka Fluff Puff –  He is as beautiful in the fluff as he is on my computer screen:) 20-11-15 - 1 (349)          Harvard Square – virtually next to where Christie lives in Cambridge.   This is where the adventure began.     harvard-squareBoston is looking very healthy and the new water front development is particularly impressive.   When I visited five years ago, very little of it existed.

Next stop Ipswich Mass.…(about one and half hour drive from Boston) where cousin Kate and the now ten year old twins live.   Ten years old is when you still see the world from many different points of view.      They are so much fun. P1250548The view from the cottage window, which changes constantly with the ebb and flow of the tides.      This is an area known for its delicious clams. P1250531Then onto Essex in upstate New York, via Vermont and the Charlotte Ferry which crosses beautiful Lake Champlain. 

Here we stayed with Sandy and Barbara Lewis.   I first met Sandy in New York fifty-one years ago when he interviewed me for a job.  (more about that in another blog)    Last time Christie and I visited the Lewis Family Farm was eight years ago…  20180507_084850The Lewis Family Farm offers the best USDA certified grass-fed beef.     A magnificent farm – from this view you can see Lake Champlain….lewis family farmHere is an early morning view of the Adirondack mountains from the farm….P1250583After two days of stimulating conversation and much laughter with Sandy and Barbara, we drove drove back to Boston.

Our next stop – Stonington, Connecticut  where my friend and fellow artist, RB Jones lives.    Currently RB is building a new studio, which we were pleased to see…plus he makes the best Margaritas ever:)     

Along with being a beautiful town with excellent cafes and restaurants, Stonington is a vibrant seafaring community with an interesting history.      When we arrived the trees were in full blossom.          20180511_144723After three lovely days in Stonington, Christie and I parted ways temporarily….I then took the Amtrak train to New York City,  where I stayed with another good friend, Cyma Horowitz.  Christie returned to Cambridge to make sure Fluff Puff was OK……

Grand Central Station in New York – where Cyma introduced me to The Campbell Bar – tucked away in a discreet corner of the Grand Central Terminal.      Originally the office of American financier, John W. Campbell…this iconic New York institution is now a space where people can meet and enjoy the unusual ambiance, but very few know about it…………..definitely worth a visit. 20180512_171125Cyma Horowitz and Ferne Speiler are the best people to show anyone around New York City.    Cyma has been a volunteer Big Apple Greeter....someone who shows visitors around the city.   Ferne, who has lived and worked in New York all her life is the person responsible for coming up with the name  ‘Crickadoon’.       When visiting me in Wales, she mentioned how much Crickhowell reminded here of Brigadoon….hence the name.

Next stop, via Amtrak to West Chester Pennsylvania  where I stayed with my good friends Tom and Carolyn Comitta.     Carolyn is Representative at Pennsylvania House of Representatives and was busy working on the primaries when I arrived.    Along with friends of long standing,  on this visit I met some new friends – again more about this leg of the trip later in a separate post. 20180518_113040After four days in West Chester, my son Jarrod Reed picked me up to take me to the farm in Nottingham, Pa where he and his partner Kendle live and work and what a magical place it is.

I will be writing much more about this leg of the trip and showing numerous pictures….but for this overview let it suffice to say that for anyone who enjoys the countryside and are interested in the Amish people’s way of life...this is a place to visit.   Jarrod and Kendle will be having an Air B n B at the Farm. –   Much more to come about that.

Jarrod with one of his favourite chickens20180518_171322Jarrod took me around the farm on the Gator to enjoy the stunning views.  Kendle trains horses for dressage and is a fabulous cook.      Kendle, who I have known since she was five years old,  thinks about horses in the same way as I think about painting  and Jarrod thinks about music – in other words it is her life.      20180520_103210-1Sketching Jarrod on their deck while Jarrod played beautiful music….a special  moment. 33194620_1913316375345814_5120458571477155840_oJarrod and Kendle’s three immediate neighbours are Amish farmers.  I had the great pleasure to meet several of their community and will be writing more about this experience in a further blog. 20180524_161748_resized_kindlephoto-302450113

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Anne Buffington, Kendle’s mother is an artist friend of mine going back to 1973 – and so my next stop was Anne driving me from the farm to the Annapolis area.      We packed in a lot of conversation and laughter during that time….

Next day Anne very bravely drove me to Washington DC – taken from the car. 20180523_112458-1-1

Here I re-connected with Christie and Jenifer Gausman.     We had so much fun for the ensuing 24 hours.   Here we are at Whiskey Charley – at the beginning of a superb evening. 🙂

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Next stop Atlanta, Georgia.       After Jen’s lovely mother , Jorjie drove both Christie and I to the airport….Christie flew back to Boston and I flew onto Atlanta where I was met by my friend of many years, Lynn Kearns, and this is where the final leg of the trip began.

Staying with the Kearnsclan, as I call them is like being in the heart of family.    I was at Lynn and Stratton’s wedding many moons ago, knew their parents, have watched their children grow and now their grandchildren…hence this picture.   We have a much shared history. 

Meet Millie the dog, Eva, Charlotte and Miles…..I am laughing so much because all the parents are jumping up and down in front of me getting the children’s attention. image1-3This is where the magical hummingbirds came to visit me every day when I was with the Kearnsclan.    I would sit in a connecting porch and paint as they would fly around.    Beyond is Lynn’s very impressive vegetable garden – all of which is surrounded by acres of ancient woodland…..rolling down to Lake Lanier.    A real retreat. 20180525_094054One day when Lynn and I were out purchasing water colour paper, we bumped into Rosemary Dodd – a real (Steal Magnolia) whose 100 year old father I painted as a portrait demonstration at the Quinlan Visual Arts Centre about 20 years ago.   One of many lovely coincidences on this trip.

Rosemary Dodd – a Southern Lady and super creative artist. 20180528_181749-2

Again I will be writing much more about this part of the trip, but two of the Georgia highlights were visiting the magnificent BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Hindu Temple, and on my final day becoming an anchor woman for CNN!IMG_6149_kindlephoto-507100660-2Although this was not a painting trip per se, I did do a lot of sketching and have returned filled with many thoughts and ideas…..in other words the creative juices are flowing.

I finish this overview with a magical hummingbird.10996309_10153250856200396_1092698130640243063_o

 

A  Bientot

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A wonderful time with Lynn and Stratton Kearns.

I first met Lynn in 1974 when I moved into a house next door to Lynn’s parent’s in Westtown, Pennsylvania.

Lynn’s parents were to become some of my closest friends.     I attended Lynn and Stratton’s wedding in 1977 and since then our lives have been intertwined.     The Kearnsclan, as I like to call them, which includes their four children, are more like family.

Lynn and Stratton with The Astoria, Pink Floyd’s sound studio (the brown houseboat) behind them.    This is taken from the tow path across from Hampton on our way to Hampton Court Palace. 

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They have have been with me for the past few days before flying to Napal last night where they will meet up with other doctors to set up a medical camp – giving help to the earthquake victims.

Walking the tow path from Hampton to Hampton Court Palace..Wednesday was quite lovely.   Note the hummingbirds on Lynn’s top…..and they brought me a beautiful glass hummingbird gift.

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Lynn and Stratton have four wonderful children who are now grown up…..Together the family have experienced some amazing adventures, none less than the year they spent in the Province of Cameroon 2000/2001.

At the time Lynn was 47, Stratton 49 and the children, Amy 14, Katherine 13, Jackson 10 and Maddy 8.    They were based in a medical compound in Meskine, seven miles from Maroa in the far north Province of Cameroon.

Lynn and Katherine (who was 13 at the time) preparing for surgery in the Meskine Medical Camp.      They worked and lived under extreme conditions for one year.    it was pre mobile phones etc., and so they relied on satellite communication to send and receive e mails.

Meskine sits on the edge of the jungle and Sahara Desert.    Along with extreme heat, total reliance upon a dodgy generator – there was dust from the desert and of course snakes and insects.   Most fortunate they are both doctors.

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This is Lynn on Lake Maga on the Chad Border.     The lake was filled with hippos…….and the whole family was in the boat…and as you can see the boat was somewhat rickety!   Talk about an act of faith…….

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Clearly there are so many stories to tell about that year, and I hope that someday one of the family will write a book about the experience.

The children are amazing human beings and have benefited greatly from this experience and others….

Needless to say because of its proximity to the Nigerian border and the Terrorist group, Boca Haram, the medical camp has had to be evacuated…..

I love this picture of the family before they left Africa.   Jackson is holding his pet monkey.

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So that was then, and this is now…..

After they leave Napal in about nine days they will then move onto Southern Indian to continue their work with the Ebeneezer Christian Ministries.     This is a place where children find a home under the love and care of Sparjan Geddada and his lovely wife Grace. 

Lynn and Stratton with some of the beautiful children from the home on a previous visit. 

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Lynn with some of the children on a previous visit.

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Lynn and Stratton helped to raise funds for a new house.    At thirteen the boys and girls have to be separated, and so rather than have them taken somewhere else, this house was built to accommodate them.      This was the dedication of the new house with Lynn and Sparjan.

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I am sure they will have more remarkable adventures in Napal and on their return visit to Inida….and when I receive pictures, I will write another blog.

Magical Hummingbirds are flying around them as they continue to live their own lives to the full and help so many others.

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a Bientôt

More Past and Present

My recent trip to the States was superb, and of course like anything in life, it’s the people who are involved that really make a difference.

At the beginning of the trip I stayed in Ipswich, Massachusetts with my niece, her husband and their beautiful five year old twins and my daughter Christie.    This made for a fantastic weekend, full of laughter and much joy.

I took this image of Kate, daughter Christie and Grace (one of the twins) in front of a mural in Ipswich depicting the history of what is a very old and fascinating town.   (past and present)

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As you can imagine, I took many pictures of the twins….here they are in a local orchard where we went on a hay ride and apple picking, and yes of course I painted watercolours of them.

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Then I flew from Boston to Atlanta where I was picked up by Lynn….and taken to the house in Gainesville.    The whole week was action packed, with wedding excitement, painting portraits, and just having fun.

This picture shows the ‘Kearnsclan’ on one of the occasions when they visited me in Wales.

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Now all very grown up and leading fascinating lives…..the following are portraits I painted of the four children on this trip.

Catherine – the bride.    In the photograph she is the little girl in blue wearing glasses.   I painted this spontaneous portrait the day before the wedding.

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This is Maddy who in the photograph is the little girl holding her teddy bear:)

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This is Amey who is in the white sweat shirt to the rear of the photograph.   Amongst other things, Amey rescues animals, including beautiful Ally who has been shown on Facebook:)

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This is Jackson, who in the photograph is the little boy in front…..

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I have painted all four children several times before,   It’s wonderful to see how they have developed and grown into fine and very interesting human beings.   I look forward to spending many more times with them.

May the hummingbirds be with you.

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A Bientôt

A Journey is a person in itself; no two are alike……

‘A Journey is a person in itself;  no two are alike.    All plans, safeguards, policing and coercion are fruitless.   We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip;  a trip takes us’    John Steinbeck.   

New England apples…..

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I have just visited dear friends and family in the United States.    A trip which has taken me to a new level of love and understanding in my life.     A trip that also warrants my writing several posts.

The View from my window in Ipswich, Massachusetts.  Image

 

I first visited the States as a young woman in 1966.    My first husband and I set sail on the United States Liner from Southampton on January 28th 1966.    On February 3rd we sailed under the newly constructed Verrazano Bridge, which connects Brooklyn to Staten Island.   We then took a Greyhound Bus to Miami, Florida, where we were picked up by my husband’s Uncle and driven to Key West.   The plan was to stay for two years.      

A very long story, and twenty eight years later, in 1993 I returned to the UK/Europe.   I am currently living just a few short miles from my place of birth in London.   

Ipswich, Massachusetts reflections. 

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Reading Steinbeck’s words at this time of my life, I realise that I have reached the beautiful stage, where the ‘trip is taking me’.

This past spring I had a life long block removed.      What it was and how it happened again warrants much more time than afforded in this post, but let it suffice to say, that it has freed me at last to relax, and enjoy wherever the trip of life leads. 

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This adventure began with a flight to Boston, where I was picked up by family members, and driven to Ipswich, Massachusetts…..a lovely New England town.       Interestingly the property where I stayed (and I had been there once before) was purchased by my niece and her husband from a family member of one of my dearest friends in Stonington, Connecticut.   Pure coincidence, some might say:)

A wonderful place to dig for clams. 

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After a blissful few days in Ipswich, I flew to Atlanta, Georgia to spend the week with some of my dearest friends…..they are also family to me.      The main event was to be the wedding of Catherine and Kevin – and oh what a wonderful event it was. 

I attended the wedding of Catherine’s parents in 1977…..yes, we go back a long way. 

When I arrived at the house in Gainesville, Georgia, which sits on one of the large lakes which dot the area, imagine my delight to find that the hummingbirds were still in residence. 

The veranda where the hummingbirds visited me every day.

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I would sit on the veranda, and wait for the humming sound and click as quickly as possible. Image

Amazingly they left for their long flight south right after I flew back to the UK.    

Along with seeing family, friends and lots of beautiful animals and birds….I also got to paint several watercolour portraits.     I will write much more in further blogs during the next couple of weeks. 

Meanwhile, wishing everyone peace, love and may the magical hummingbirds be with you. 

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A Bientôt