Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Snowbirds miss the Heat and with it, the Beauty

Poinciana Tree, ferny leaves, fiery red blooms
Every time our friends go back up North to their abandoned winter homes, our neighborhood turns into a ghost town. While they’re gone (approximately six months), I’m reminded of how much they all miss.

Sure it’s hot down here, but the daily rains banish our muggy temperatures and give us brief relief. Yes, it’s uncomfortably hot outside, but so is Indiana, Washington D.C., Georgia, Maryland, New York, and many other states in the summer.

What are these part-time residents missing out on? The poinciana trees are at their prime! Their glorious orange-red florets cascade into pompoms down every branch. They are joined by white sweet-smelling jasmine and multi-colored hibiscus and Mexican petunias.

Even better, the restaurants are only half-filled; no standing in line for a table. The stores are competing with 70% off sales and the cafes have reduced price Happy Hours. The added attention we get in the way of service allows us to eat out more often. Movie theaters are never sold out. There is plenty of parking at the Malls.

I’m not bragging. I’m elated that the traffic is less and that the beaches take half the time to get to and enjoy. We have Fort Myers all to ourselves, we locals. In spite of the heat, this is the time we enjoy best for all it has to offer.

Toppled tree after Hurricane Wilma.
Yes, hurricane season is upon us, but I’ll swap this over the tornadoes and floods they’re having in the Midwest. We can either evacuate to safer areas, or hunker down depending on the directives. We are seasoned Floridians. We have lived here year round for almost 13 years.

We rode out Charlie and Wilma. We were luckier than many who not only lost their electricity for several weeks, but their homes were destroyed as well. We’re far enough from the beaches to avoid flooding, and close enough to enjoy its gritty offerings when we choose.
Palm trees sometimes lost their tops.
Our neighborhood has had a few scrapes with the weather. We’ve had to replace a few lanais’ (patio cages), and a few trees, but all in all we’ve weathered the storms better than some other areas. 

Every year we make our checklist of hurricane preparedness. We purchase the bottles of water. See that the “igloos” and food coolers are clean and ready. Purchase food we can warm up on a charcoal grill if the electricity is down. We’re pros! We’re survivors.

A banyan tree was almost totally destroyed.
Photo taken 13 years ago in Pine Island.

Sometimes we fly away to see friends and family with the hopes of cooling off. But then we discover their homes are less comfortable than our own because they refuse to use their air conditioning system. They’ve just come through a brutal cold winter, and the heat is too precious to waste.

We do the same in the winter. A good month is when we’ve braved the 45-55 degree weather outside and didn’t turn on the thermostat.

Our blood has grown thinner. Our teeth chatter when it gets below 60. But when the August sunshine reaches 99 or above, we’re still going strong!

Several years later, I turned that photo into an oil painting.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Howdy, ya’ll, from Texas – Hot Dog!

Beautiful mosaic -- San Antonio, Texas
The party’s over and now I must get back to work. I had a wonderful time in Texas with my girls and their families. I’ll share a few photos with you in this blog. I still haven’t decided which direction I want to take my writing and artwork from here, but have a few possibilities in mind.

As Dorothy said in Oz, “There’s no place like home.” It’s always good to get back to your own bed and closet. Bending over a suitcase and rummaging through your clothes each day is wearing after awhile. Getting back to your own T.V. shows and news is like putting on a familiar pair of slippers; not red glass ones, but slouchy worn ones.

Amelia playing the piano for grandma.
Not to say we didn’t have a grand time. So good to see my loved ones, and glad to renew our affection and appreciation for their husbands and dear grandchildren. I told my girls not to worry about “showing us around;” that we'd come to see them.

Sadly they all must work and so were gone most of the day. In Houston, we played games and giggled a lot. Mark is a VP at NPR and Holly is part of a Christian homeschooling team that works much like a private school does. Although teaching was winding up, there were planning and organizing meetings to attend. We did our best to either tag along or see them in between their busy lives.
Paula and Holly, my two Texas girls.

Nathan and Bella
Holly drove us to see her sister in San Antonio. Paula was still teaching classes and organizing an art show that we were fortunate to attend. Her sister helped her hang the artwork while Paula was teaching. It was a wonderful show, and I was so proud of my girls.

I met many of the art students who seemed to dearly love their teacher. Some of these students had never seen an art show, let alone participate in one. 

Most of the students in Paula's classes are Hispanic. Four of the student’s were selected to enter their artwork in a state competition. They were so proud!

We drove into San Antonio one day to experience “River Walk” and to see the “Alamo.” Well worth the trip. We ate in a fantastic restaurant and listened to a live Mariachi Band. Rainbow colored umbrellas housed tables at the many cafe's along either side of the river. Tour boats flowed in the channel and passengers waved to us as we walked.

Flowers were growing or hanging everywhere. My spirit was lifted at every turn. We did not actually go inside the Alamo, but sat on a stone wall and watched people come and go as we rested our feet.
Tyler, Nathan, me and grandpa Dick
The week went by so quickly! Since I have six children, it is usually two or three years sometimes more before I’ll see them again. We couldn’t live further apart. Their dad and I traveled and worked in many different parts of the country, and now our children do the same.

Our next trip we will be back to Atlanta in June for my son’s wedding (Chris). We stayed with them when they invited us for Thanksgiving last November. Georgia is one of our favorite places. We may even return via Savannah for its relaxing charm and good food. We will be driving up rather than flying, which gives us more time to enjoy the ambiance.

I hope ya'll have a wonderful summer. Take time to “smell the roses” and allow yourself to be inspired.

The Alamo
When we drove back, we had to change routes because of this flooding. Texas has been inundated with rain.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Matters of the Heart and Mind Dictate most of our Priorities

“An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.” Tecla Barber, Park Ridge, New Jersey in May 2016 Guideposts

I loved this quote from Guideposts. After I read it, I knew I must plug it into my art blog. Because of health constraints recently, I haven’t been able to dedicate myself to either writing or artwork. I’m hoping that means once my life is on an even track, I’ll be launching into something at least better.

Robert Browning’s poem will forever reverberate in my brain: “Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?” Indeed.

I’m flying out to see my two daughters who live in Texas. I’ll be taking a break from blogging while I’m gone so don’t be alarmed that I’ve dropped out of sight. It’s only temporary.

Daughter Holly with her two children when they were "just beginning."
My daughter Holly is a voice teacher and a performer. She has one audition while I’m out there. The other daughter, Paula, is an art teacher and an artist. She is having a show for her students and for herself at her school while we’re out there.
Paula with her three boys and husband and father, James. An Army Family.
Paula joined the Army to earn enough money for college. She toughed it out through Basic Training and finished her 2.5 years. She did what she had promised herself: she got her art degree at Mary Hardin-Baylor University in addition to marrying and having three boys.

Holly completed her Bachelor of Arts degree at Chico State in CA and her music degree from Peabody Conservatory at Johns Hopkins where she taught until she had children. She now teaches voice and piano at home in addition to home schooling her children. Major accomplishment for both of my girls!
One of Paula's paintings
Some of her student's work:

While I’m gone, I invite you to check out my other blogs:

Carol Anfinsen – The Art of Living; Musings from my Dancing Heart @ 

A Christian blog titled: “Witness Spoken Here” @

My Etsy Shop Anfinsen Art @ 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The New Comic Strips and Books are Cutting Edge

The intrinsic value of art is that it causes us to think and to question. A skilled composition reminds us of the best that is in us and sometimes the worst. The benefits an artist receives in creating are passed on to the viewer in a myriad of ways; many of which are intangible. There are times when all art does is bring us pleasure.

“In your Presence is fullness of joy” a Biblical phrase meaning the ultimate gift of light and goodness. When we experience something that is intrinsic and indescribable, it truly does bring us unfathomable joy.

When I was a child, I thought it odd that my parents read comic books. Even on Sunday we would fight over the comic section. I felt that the cartoons were for kids not grownups believing that there was something off about my parents. Later I discovered that many of the comic strips were designed specifically for adults.

My mother offered this advice to her all-to-serious little girl: “Never stop reading the comics. It will help you keep your sense of humor.”

I’ve come to believe that she was right. Sometimes we get so somber in our sojourn of life that we forget to laugh. We lose our sense of delight and our belief in surprises. We become all too gloomy and morose. We take ourselves far too seriously.
For people who love their pets, "Get Fuzzy" interprets what pets might think or feel (in a perverted sort of way)
Today I’m sharing my favorite comic strips. They not only offer a glimpse into our own lives, but they give us a chance to channel our frustrations through whimsy and laughter. Thanks to my mom and dad, I will read the comics until the day I die. Comedic art provides a window into the art of storytelling.
If you've ever been a parent of a teenager, Zits is a fun read for parent and child.
In this abbreviated environment, artistic ideas are also displayed in miniature. Beginning artists can learn much from this genre by experimenting with their own storytelling and illustration skills.
I get such a kick out of this cartoon which leans to the dark side, mainly because of rat.

Of course, my day and weekend would not be complete without reading Marmaduke, the most lovable and outrageous pooch of all time.

Some people think Dennis the Menace is old hat, but millions of readers still enjoy his antics and the byproduct of his words and actions on the adults in his life.
Another adult comic for seniors is getting a little too close to home.

There is genius in these brief stories. The words say what the artwork can't, and sometimes the artwork says it all. Mastering this art form will help you as an artist tell a story in your own compositions and sharpen your ability to illustrate mood, facial expressions, humor and point of view.

Below is an illustration from "Inez Ibis Flies again; the story of a courageous ibis who never gave up. Perfect for any child who must deal with a disability.In the illustration, Inez is trying to take off and fly an injured leg, but she falls flat on her face.

Storybook and digital download are for sale on Etsy at: