Caravaggio at the Getty

Spectacular birthdays are rare when you’re an adult. Most people, I find want to just pretend the years aren’t going by. Others celebrate with reckless abandon.  I’m for the latter. There is nothing you can do to stop the passage of time, so why not embrace it? Have fun with it?

This month we celebrate my Prince Charming husbands birthday, and I found something I knew would make his day special.

His favorite artist of all time is the incomparable, Caravaggio. His real name is Michelangelo Merisi, (no, not that Michelangelo that painted the Sistine Chapel, the other one), but he is known worldwide as Caravaggio.

Caravaggio is famous for his skill with light and shadow. A technique that would be copied by countless artists including Rembrandt, Rubens and Vermeer.

For those of us that paint, I enjoyed looking at the paintings, much like I do with Monet, (my favorite artist) trying to understand how he created these masterpieces. Studying brush strokes and drinking in their beauty.  Hoping that just being near them will instill in me some magical stroke of his genius and make me a better painter. My husband enjoyed them just for their beauty.

Seeing these paintings is extraordinary for several reasons. First, the Getty is located in Los Angeles and recently there was a fire raging on the museums doorstep. Fortunately the Getty was built with the foresight of just an event so all was well. But I admit, I was worried there for a while.  Second and probably most amazing is that these paintings haven’t been out of Italy for 400 years! They have been housed in the Galleria Borghese in Rome and are just now being shown here in the US.  Finally, seeing these paintings is a gift because Caravaggio had a very short career that only spanned less than 20 years. He died, mysteriously at 39 years old taking his genius with him.

Fortunately, unlike some of us, and I mean me, I’m well past 39 years old and I still haven’t figured out what I’m meant to do. I’m so pleased that Caravaggio knew at a young age and pursued it, much like we should our birthdays with that reckless abandon I mentioned earlier. Otherwise we would never have seen these exquisite pieces of art that I believe, will change you forever once you see them.

The three Caravaggio paintings are on view at the Getty until February 18th and no matter where you are in the country, if you are an art lover, get yourself to Los Angeles and go see them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you’re here, I can safely say there will be a layer of smog hanging over L.A. like a warm blanket. The day we were there, it was clear as a bell.  You could see the ocean in the distance, far off buildings and the homes that barely skirted the fires. Another gift toward making this a spectacular day.

I’ve included a video I took of the view and trust me, a clear day like we got, is as remarkable as seeing these paintings.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xSeSLilqu3w

Next birthday, I hope you get a day this good…and every birthday after. They truly are a gift, go ahead and celebrate!

 

 

Mission Trails Nature Walk

Join me for three minutes, walking through Mission Trails in San Diego. I’m just learning the video thing so bear with me. It’s a perfect place to get back to nature, be mindful and just enjoy a nice afternoon walk. All just minutes from the chaos of the city of San Diego. I hope you enjoy it.

Wildflowers

From late 2016 up to April 2017, Southern California enjoyed more rain than it has in a long time. Gratefully, I took advantage and over those few months I would bike ride near my home and take pictures here and there. This video is the culmination of those trips. So, just in case you didn’t get to see the wildflowers this year, now you can. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JDy2EaBrOQ

 

 

Rocky Springs

Rocky Springs-A Town That Isn’t

Rocky Springs is, or should I say was, a town in Mississippi. I say was because it’s no longer there. All that remains of this once thriving small community is a church, cemetery and two rusted safes.

photo-3-6

A Growing Population

The settlement of this little hamlet along the Old Natchez Trace, began in the late 1790’s. Among those that thrived here over the years were carpenters, doctors, clergy, teachers, cabinet makers, cotton gin makers and blacksmiths. Parts of the 440 miles of the original Natchez Trace can still be seen here and you can walk on that section of history. The lovely little Church was erected in 1837. All in all the town flourished by 1860 to a population over 4000 people including slaves that are, sadly, not actually mentioned in the population statistics.

 

Bad Luck Strikes

Unfortunately there were three elements of bad luck destined to strike at the heart of this little burg and seal its fate. The Civil War, which began in 1861 and lasted almost exactly four years, killed many of its inhabitants. U.S. Grant himself came to Rocky Springs in 1863 and used the church as his headquarters for a short time. His desk was set up where the pulpit now stands. He planned much of his campaign here while the war raged on and put this poor town on the road to destruction with it.

After the war, Yellow Fever devastated the town in 1878, further killing many townsfolk including numerous small children. The cemeteries in the area, heavy with sadness, are filled with headstones that read ‘infant’ or have an angel or cherubim atop with dates that span only a year or so.

cemetery

A short time later, in the early 1900’s, the boll weevil killed crops and put the final nail in the coffin of this town. Interestingly, after everything that happened here, the spring and namesake for the town dried up. Did the spring know the town and the people were gone?

The last store closed sometime in the early 1930’s and all that proves this place was here are the church, and a lonely and worn cemetery with dates disappearing on the stones through the harsh hand of time.

Cemetery Stroll

If you visit here, and I recommend you do, there is no longer any evidence of a spring, but it was once as strong as the town. Pouring out fresh water for the people and the crops. A spring powerful enough to have thousands of people build their entire lives around it. Only to have it dry up and disappear with the town itself. Nonetheless, it’s an interesting and beautiful place to visit; quiet and peaceful with the ghosts of the past on the wind. Take some time to walk the deserted paths and enjoy some reflective time in nature. Sit in the church and enjoy reverence in a place visited by many from the past, but not so many now.

church-from-cemetery

An Afternoon In A Forgotten Place

We enjoyed walking through what remains of Rocky Springs. As many more years pass, there will be absolutely nothing left of this place to find. Walking the paths, we were moved by the history of roaming on some of the original pieces of the Natchez Trace. Covered in trees and brush in some places, it was hard to see where the path used to be. Those paths that were crossed by slaves, traders, and bandits. We noticed the earth eroding all around where this town and its inhabitants once worked, loved, and made lives. Tread slowly and listen to the wind in the trees. Going into the church one could be still and hear nothing but the echoes of people now gone. There are no cars, no city around for miles. If one listens hard enough you may hear the footsteps of the townspeople, soldiers from the war, people baptizing their children, or having funerals here to bury them. The people of this town, and the town itself, are now long gone, but I enjoyed being here in this place. A small reminder that life; whether during good times or bad, is precious and to enjoy every moment you can before it disappears.

Heceta Lighthouse

 

A Lighthouse Adventure

The recently renovated Heceta Head Lighthouse is about twelve miles from the charming small town of Florence, Oregon. It has a 56 foot tower and sits 205 feet above the ocean. First lit in 1894 it is one of the strongest lights on the Oregon coast. Now modernized, it is still functioning today, keeping Mariners from running aground on the coastline rocks below.

An Arduous Walk…Ok..not really.

The sign said the lighthouse was just a short walk from the parking area, so we started upward along the lush green path. After a few minutes we realized the sign lied. Not that we minded the walk, but the elderly or people with disabilities might have trouble. Truth be told, I might have minded a little. After all, I’m not in the best shape, but it was such a pretty walk I couldn’t resist. Besides, I always need the exercise.

The walk consisted of two halves. The first ended on a plateau where the lighthouse keepers homes were built. There were originally two houses, side by side, but only one remains. The home that is still here is now a bed and breakfast, and although we couldn’t go inside, it was easy to see this would be a wonderful, romantic and serene place to spend a night, or two. I can see the allure of staying overnight here, listening to the waves, and seeing the lighthouse up close at night.

Continuing up the path, we eventually reached our ultimate goal, the Heceta Head lighthouse.

From The Top

The free tour of the historic structure was not scheduled to begin for a few minutes. We spent the time looking out over the bluff at the spectacular view below. We enjoyed the show of waves crashing on the huge rocks at the base of the cliffs. Seabirds flew back and forth below us, their wings glistening in the sunshine. It always looks to me like the surface of the ocean is covered in diamonds when it shimmers in the sunlight. Now those are my kind of diamonds. Several whales frolicked below. To our delight, one jumped out of the water as we looked on. It was truly an awesome sight.

The Work Of A Lighthouse

Emerging from one of the adjacent outbuildings, a volunteer announced the next tour was about to begin. We huddled around her and waited for a few others that wished to join in, then headed inside a door at the back of the lighthouse. As we entered a small room the guide began to tell us about the history and accomplishments of the lighthouse. She talked about the technology, how things worked and the incredible people that made this lighthouse what it was. The work was difficult, the hours were long and great strength was necessary for most tasks. We learned about the people that worked the lighthouse, but also a little about their families. They kept a garden and the children were schooled on the property. Provisions were brought in by horse and wagon. Running a lighthouse was a hard and lonely life, but rewarding.

We started to ascend the rounding staircase getting closer to the top. She explained how the building was built, different levels for different things. One was an office level, the other held the oil waiting for the hike up to the top. The windows inside were very small and let in very little light or air. Many years ago the walls were stuccoed, unfortunately they learned over time that stucco, sea air and small windows don’t mix. Eventually the stucco molded and destroyed parts of the lighthouse. After the renovation they removed all of it and now only the original brick remains, which is a much nicer choice if you ask me.

Reaching the top we got to see close up the Fresnel glass that creates the light for all those on the ocean to see by. A spectacular invention that shines the light out to sea for an astonishing 20 miles!

The current lighthouse no longer requires oil to keep the light moving, but it still shines that beacon of light out to sea to light the way of the seamen of today and tomorrow.

Spending Time On The Beach

Once the tour was complete and we walked back down the path we decided to spend some time on the beach. It’s a large, wide beach with lots of seabirds that bathe themselves in the nearby stream that flows into the ocean here. The rocks in the water provide safe nesting and a convenient perch, not to mention beauty for us to enjoy. I must have taken 500 images of those rocks trying to get just the right one.

We liked it here so much we ended up staying the entire day. We pulled out some snacks we had in a cooler in the car and picnicked at one of the tables next to the beach. Then we decided to hike back up to the top and do the tour again. Why not right?

Above The Lighthouse

Afterward we noticed an easily missed trail going up above the lighthouse so we climbed that too and I’m glad we did. We got some amazing pictures of the lighthouse from above that you can’t get unless you go up this trail.

It was a really beautiful day spent on the beach with this lovely historic light looking over us. We toured a piece of history, learned about those that came before us and appreciated the restoration for those that would come after us. We hiked, ate and breathed in the salty sea air spending our whole day in this spectacular spot on the wondrous Oregon coast.

Reminded of Paris

Reminded of Paris

It’s early in the afternoon on this warm summer day and I go sit at the beach to think, and do some writing. There’s a soft breeze and the air smells good. The sun feels good. It doesn’t take long for me to feel sticky from the salty breeze. I’m soaking in every moment. I’ve been away too long.

I moved to Connecticut from California for a job about eight years ago. It was a dream job, a job I’d always wanted to do. I did it for love, but when it ended, broken up, I promised myself I would never take a job solely for money. Next job, I did. Laid off, and now unemployed I’m looking for permanent work but also trying to make something of myself as a photographer and writer. I love traveling and want my passions to pay for it. Currently living in San Diego with many opportunities to photograph and write, I should be content. But I long for living out of a suitcase, street food vendors, foreign languages and cultures, and breathtaking architecture and history.

A women walks by me, she’s visiting here and she speaks French to her companion. One of the romantic languages. I loved listening to it in Paris.

Paris. The city of love is appropriately named. No one there takes a job just for the money. I know that’s not true, but I want it to be true. I want to live there and paint in the same spot where geniuses painted. I want the inspiration of the city to move me to write and photograph better.

Our first day we just meandered through much of the city watching the Parisians rush through their day. Probably going to jobs they hate just like we do. Our first stop was the Eiffel Tower after walking along the Seine. What a sight! You can, of course, see it in the distance from the banks of the water, but once you come upon it, it took my breath away. It told my disbelieving mind that I am now truly in Paris. The land of Kings, priceless works of art, impressive architecture and much to my surprise, friendly people. The Eiffel Tower, which was built to only be in it’s place temporarily, is still there over 100 years later. I’m glad it is. Although new in comparison to the some of the ancient parts of the city, it is truly the one sight that epitomizes Paris. But wait, it got better. When night fell on the city of lights, the tower lit up from underneath with lights that gave a golden glow that you can see for miles and every hour the tower lights glittered and sparkled like a disco ball. Quite beautiful.

Reminds me of the San Diego skyline. Equally beautiful. Big buildings, lovely architecture. Sure none of it was built hundreds of years ago, but it’s still gorgeous. Why isn’t it enough?

Notre Dame, built well before San Diego, is marvelous. I couldn’t wait to see it. Huge and spectacular and powerful. Heavily ornamental yet simplistic in design, it is a sight to behold. We took the 400 plus stairs up to the top of the cathedral to see Paris from the view point of the birds. I wish we had gone up on a clear day. If we had I’m sure we could have seen three countries easily. That day was very overcast and gray and my pictures clearly reflect that. While up there we took a close look at the gargoyles. Designed to be water spouts they are remarkable in their own right with faces that border on demented and evil, on this building designed to be a place of worship, and house of love.

I love churches. Every size, shape and religion. Being in them, feeling safe and full of peace. Relishing in their ornamentation and beauty. I love photographing them. I would make a living from only photographing churches, if I could. Oh, if only I could.

Art too. Well how can you love to paint and photograph without loving art? Paris is full of amazing art. Art that moved me, angered me and compelled me to look at it. Numerous museums housed works of art that moved me emotionally. The most famous of these would have to be the Louvre. The largest museum in the world and home to none other than the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and too many others to name. The day spent here was overwhelming and for me, much too short because I just couldn’t take it all in. But fortunately I have a camera. I filled card after card in my digital camera. I must have taken two thousand pictures here. Maybe a slight exaggeration.

Museum d’Orsay is another art museum but the priceless works of art were more recent. 18th and 19th century and much of the art is impressionism. which I enjoy, but my husband doesn’t. Something about the messiness draws me in. Next to Montmartre, where famous painters from practically every era came to paint in the square. The day we arrived there, the square was filled with easels, canvases and people milling about looking for the perfect painting to mount on their wall at home.

I didn’t buy one. I wanted to take the inspiration of the city home with me and let my photographs be my paintings. Or paint something fabulous myself.

But the concept of home is forever changed now that I’ve been here. The pictures and souvenirs I took home are not enough. Paris has stolen my heart. I came home and began decorating and designing to give me the feeling like I never left and somehow no matter where I go, I don’t think I will ever leave Paris. It’s one of those cities that stays with you. A welcome addition to your heart. A heart filled with a longing to return. I want to return.

I walk home from the beach and spend a few minutes looking at my pictures of Paris on my computer. I see the influences I’ve put into my home. The fleur de lis, the lamps I bought there, the towels in my kitchen. Reminding myself of our time there. In the grand scheme of time, only a moment.

With my current moments, I should be sitting down to write the current story I’m working on. I close out the pictures and get back to work. I need to practice my writing and photography skills, learn how to promote my blog, improve my social media skills and win the lottery. All in one day.

I have a charm that I picked up of the Eiffel Tower while I was in Paris. I wonder if it’s similar to a rabbit’s foot and if I rub it all my dreams will come true? I think I’ll try. Perhaps I should get my luggage out just in case.

VT2PT9582HHH

Up ↑