Sunday, September 27, 2015

Blue sky, blue sea, blue hours

On Friday, driving home from Clifden, where I was minding our exhibition, I caught the blue hour and saw Connemara like I had never seen it before (not pictured here; I didn't take any photos). It also happened to be very still and dry, so the lakes were perfectly smooth mirrors. Something that had become tiresome (I have been doing a lot of driving to and from Clifden) turned into a magical experience, and I didn't mind being stuck behind a very slow huge truck.

It was a reminder of how our attitude changes everything - even if the external circumstances hadn't changed, I could have accessed that mindset. I had been spending too much time worrying about things large and small, and that drive on Friday put not an end, but a pause to it. Of course Connemara is always stunning, and there is always something new to see, but even if I had been driving through drab industrial estate after industrial estate, I could have gone someplace in my head that would have brought me the same happiness.

But it helps to be surrounded by beauty. Today we came home to a summery evening and spent time in the garden and down at the beach (John went for a swim; I chickened out). Having a garden that, as my grandmother used to say, wants to see its master every day, is such a blessing. It is fast becoming a non-negotiable to be out there doing something (so far it has been mainly weeding and cutting the grass), like our daily walks, and already we feel healthier and happier for it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Irish countryside, real and painted

Cutting back the hedge

Two preparatory paintings for the new book

And another few weeks have flown by... Since June I haven't had time to pause and take stock. This has been such a life-changing year, and on so many levels.

I got back from Germany over a week ago, but am still playing catch-up with everything. I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to see when I was over there, but I shall be back soon. It was very difficult saying goodbye to my family, especially this time, with my sister a new mom and her tiny baby boy. It doesn't get easier, this living away from the tribe (though part of the tribe lives here, too, which is wonderful and even more guilt-inducing at the same time).

The new house already feels like home, and we are loving our 'island' bed in the middle of the sitting room. We build a fire every night and have had some of our meals at the low coffee table. We are busy getting quotes from builders and insulation companies, etc., visiting DIY shops and getting started on the things we can do at this point. These involve tins of Annie Sloan paint and a hand weeder. All while getting ready for another exhibition, doing some work in the Uni (at least the teaching hasn't started yet) and attempting to meet some freelance deadlines.

We cut back the hedge to reveal not only more of the sea view with the silhouette of the steps in the limestone of the Burren, but also sloping fields with stone walls. All this can be seen from the dining table, where I set up my temporary office every day. This house is everything we could have wished for.