Archives for posts with tag: artists
Anyone who “knows” me knows I love to “spank” an area with color. It’s the art training and my DNA that creates this process which I find myself in at this writing. I’m in the process of “spanking” my Wolf Pup Travel Trailer into being Gypsy ready! All the browns and tans in it are depressing to me so I’m taking everything marigold and red I have in my home and spanking the heck outta my new soon-to-be home away from home.
 
This is the “before” part. It’s okay but horribly boring to this artist, writer, traveler, wanderer, gypsy spirit!
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First, I added memory foam to both the queen bed and the lower bunk and topped them  off with marigold and red as well as hiding some of the offending colors with Ava’s belly dancing scarves, a gauze drape from yesteryear and some favorite prints.
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I framed my favorite red and yellow Toulouse Lautrec, Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’keeffe and Matisse prints and hung them all over the cabin. After all, this next journey is all about writing “the book” and I must keep the energy flowing inside and out!
 
I’m still pondering where to hang the last picture taken of Carl (my son), Ava (my daughter) and me taken in 1984 right before Carl disappeared. Gotta have the three of us together to get this book written properly. They both have already come to me in this past month tutoring me on how, what, where and when.
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The last picture taken of the three of us in March, 1984. Twenty-eight years later, Ava was gone too in that same month.

 
Not to be left out would be a picture of my dad’s mom who joined Jenni and me on a part of our trip through Utah. She’s the one who insisted I go West to write this book. She said to head for the desert to write. Well, that was her thang. Mine is more prairie or canyon lands.
Grandma Irene was quite the renaissance woman who continuously re-invented herself as an actor, Deputy Clerk of Fulton County Superior Court, nurse, health magazine writer and writer of books of tales of the Old West from interviews of actual cowboys, outlaws, gold and silver miners and a free spirit outliving seven husbands! Reckon I know who Ava and I took after! 
Hattie (Harriett) Irene Friend (grandma)
Still need to find a place to put a picture of Montana as no trip is possible without her. I’m thinking of printing the one I took from the Canadian side of Niagara Falls soon after Ava died with the three rainbows behind her (although you can only see two in the photo below). Seems right now that she’s crossed that “rainbow” bridge and all.
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Montana had to have her picture taken with the double rainbow too!

As I don’t know how long I’ll actually keep this travel trailer, I am only making temporary modifications even though the desire to eradicate ALL the tans and browns slaps me in the face every time I walk inside. I will, however, refrain…maybe!

 

Happy Trails and Tales…until we meet again!

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My good friend, daughter-by-another-mother, confidant and outstanding travel companion just flew home to get back to work and her life. We almost cried at the airport but promised new adventures for another day and she’s already conjuring one up for next year! I miss my Jenni already.

However short in the greater picture, it was incredible in the amount of quality time, fun, laughter, insanity, states, cities, places we left our unique one-two-punch of us…two very confident, powerful, exciting women with great laughter and joy to share!

Today, we decided to go back to West Glacier to hike the one trail I wanted to revisit from my 2003 trip which was the Great Red Cedar trail.

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Where I come from, this AIN’T no creek!

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Western Red Cedar

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Along the Cedar Nature Trail

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Roaring water is a bit of an understatement!

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Temple of Hemlocks, Red Cedars and Cottonwoods

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My baby’s great great granddaddy! Too bad you can’t see how big the base of this Big Daddy is but figure two people can comfortably pass each other on this boardwalk and compare the width of that with the tree at the end. Four feet? 

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This HUGE boulder is covered in a lush carpet of moss. There again, tough to describe how big!

Tomorrow? Waterton Park and Prince of Wales National Historic site (just across the border of East Glacier) and then on to Medicine Hat, Alberta. Yeehaw!

Last but not least, some of Mother Nature’s art to ponder ’til we meet again!

HAPPY TAILS, TALES OR TRAILS…YOUR PICK! PERSONALLY, I’LL TAKE ALL THREE!

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One bites the dust and leaves a most outstanding piece of art for us to love & enjoy…even if for a minute or two. Don’t you just love Mother Nature? If you don’t, try getting to know her before she’s been totally destroyed!

As I traveled through the middle of northern Oklahoma’s wheat fields into the lush mountains and valleys of northeastern New Mexico to finally stop in the arid terrain of Santa Fe in such a short period of time, is always exciting and underlines why I do what I do…the backroads of our wonderful, diverse country.

As an amateur geologist, I LOVE to see the result of millions of years of erosion which  emphatically defines the dynamics behind the peak formations of mountains…striations of different rocks forced in vertical, instead of horizontal positions. The drive from Albuquerque to Las Vegas is one of the finest areas to experience this natural phenomina.

The driver from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, however, defines a vastly different natural occurrence of underwater ocean beds of the dryest terrain varying from vast salt beds and desert to arid mountains and valleys.

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This what greeted me as I left the desert of Nevada and crossed over into California!

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And this is when I knew LA was near!

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I knew I was getting close to LA when a pack of about thirty motorcycle gangers went whizzing between lanes on the expressway going about 90 MPH! That, and the insane expressway traffic of $200,000 cars pulling Speed Racer tricks in and out of lanes to get five feet closer to an exit lane confirmed (as if there was any doubt) that I was approaching LA.

As I neared my destination (45 miles outside LA), I was abducted by aliens. I’m sure that could be the only reason why my phone stopped working, my Bluetooth didn’t recognize  my phone, my GPS (Tom) sent me around in circles telling me to go in a direction only to have me immediately exit to go back from when I came and never got any closer than that same 45 miles to Rachel (my LA daughter-by-another-mother)! Tom never adjusted the distance to Rachel nor did my gas gauge change from a quarter of a tank during this time warp.

In all fairness to Tom (my GPS) has taken me close to 150,000 miles of backroads and interstates since I started in 2009 and this is a first. Finally, after being on every interstate, state road and street between me and Rachel for over an hour, I called her to find out what roads I needed to take. I admit to surprising the urge to throw Tom (my GPS) out the window. But remembering that he has a 99.9% success rate and I do love Tom, I realized his malfunction wasn’t his fault at all but the result of an alien abduction. After I told on him to Rachel, he straightened right up and got us on the right road.

When I finally got on the right road (I-10 W), Tom kept saying, literally every miles and a half, “stay in the left lane” over and over and over again like I was the one who screwed up! Humph!

I got to Rachel’s and my phone worked but my Bluetooth never recovered but I certainly did the minute I saw my special angel, Rachel. I’ve loved her from the first moment I met her at age eleven. I walked into her home full of angels! Rachel, her wonderful husband and baby are very special people to me. It’s a safe haven of acceptance, love and respect.

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Rachel, Noah and Itty Bit

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A loving daddy!

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My angels! See us in the mirror?

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The three of us!

I am truly blessed! Thank you, my loves, for being you!

Next? I go back to Vegas, Baby to pick up the Queen of Electra Brass (Jenni Lee) to take our annual trip to new and exciting places!

HAPPY TAILS, TALES OR TRAILS…YOUR PICK!

Talk about sticking your finger into a light socket! I always got amazing electrical charges from Manhattan but nothing is like the energy in Vegas Baby! Part of it is, naturally, because Ava lived, loved and was loved here but even that part has finally tempered into not as many “triggers” for me. They’re not bolts of shock waves as I drive down familiar streets any more but more like little tingles of shock. Praise God and all those who live here who I love and who love me and Ava!

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These next pictures are the views that let me know I’m getting close to Vegas, Baby!

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Can’t get enough!

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Jenni Lee dreamt of this moment where she and other equally talented genius performing multifaceted ELECTRIFYING women came together. She named her group ELECTRA BRASS even before it congealed into this cohesive group of synchronicity and magic! I’m so blessed to have had and now have these women in my life! I’m in love!

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Vegas Babies Rehearsals

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How incredibly talented these Wonder Women are! WOW

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ELECTRA BRASS! YAY!

Tonight? Me, Photo shoot, video promo recording, these powerful women! INCREDIBLE!

More from Vegas, Baby tomorrow!

HAPPY TAILS, TALES and/or TRAILS…YOUR PICK!

Yesterday, my sister and I met a nice owner (C. G. Higgins) of a confectionary of the same name in Historic Santa Fe who convinced us to come see him for great coffee and quiche. Well, he was right! It gave us the much needed energy to absorb a wonderful permanent exhibit in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

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Georgia O’Keeffe’s Home in Abiquiu, NM

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At home

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Shown with one of her abstracts

 

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Georgia O’Keeffe Research Center

As we complex women are, we have many shades to our many colors. She was a hardy outdoors woman and a femme fatal; an artist and a horticulturist; a brilliant artist and an adventurer. The parallels between Georgia O’Keeffe and Frida Kahlo were brought more into focus by seeing their exhibits back-to-back! WOW!

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Georgia O’Keeffe on the back!

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Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting “Bella Donna!”

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She loved to study the bones of animals she found in the desert and take those shapes found in them and nature to create her abstract art.

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Georgia O’Keeffe’s “mountain.” She said that if she painted this mountain outside her cabin enough, the it would be her’s forever…and it is here and at Ghost Ranch!

As we meandered along the wonderful, flavorful streets of Historic Santa Fe, we talked of how we really had hoped to find an authentic Mexican restaurant. As luck would have it (or greater Devine intervention), we happened to go down Burro Alley to find just what we were looking for…Los Magueyes! Lovely people and great food!

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We departed Santa Fe to find new adventures along the Turquoise Trail (NM Highway 13) towards Albuquerque, NM.

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Turquoise Trail (NM Hwy 14)

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Turquoise Highway

The first little town on the Turquoise Highway large enough to make a stop to explore was Madrid.

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Of course there’s a cowgirl there!

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Great little village

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Sandia Crest National Park with an elevation at it’s peak of over 10,000 feet is just off the   Turquoise Trail on Highway 536. It’s worth the drive for sure! It has a great little gift shop at the top where we met another transported Atlantan!

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Sandia Crest Nat’l Park (10,000+ feet) off the Turquoise Hwy

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These “fingers” of rain which evaporate before reaching the ground are called “Virgo.”

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First on our agenda was to get the feel of Historic Albuquerque and we, of course, were greeted with lots of red chili peppers!

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Historic Albuquerque (Covered Wagon)

Eat? Heck yeah! Locals recommended Church Street Cafe. Great choice!

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Church Street Cafe

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Inside Church St. Cafe

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Inside Church St. Cafe

We were so very fortunate to meet other southerners, artists and kindred spirits on our “Friend Traveling Sisters Hauling A$$ Great Adventure,” We drove over 3,000 miles in a week and it’s been life altering for us both…something to embrace with laughter and BIG smiles forever. We have so many new friend from this trip who will be in our hearts and prayers forever! We are truly blessed.

I hope to stay in touch with each of you through email, travels, phone or telepathic communications forever! Each of you touched our hearts so there you’ll reside until we meet again.

Tomorrow? VEGAS BABY!

HAPPY TAILS (found Montana hair in the truck today), TALES OR TRIALS! You’re pick!

Wow! What a wonderful day packed with beauty, great people, amazing southwestern architecture, shopping, wandering and soaking up one of our country’s most beautiful and exciting cities. In 2011 when Ava and I were here in 2011, we both fell so in love with it so much so that she wanted to intern at the Santa Fe Opera House. I’ve wanted to come back here to create new memories last year but still wasn’t ready. Now I know why. I needed my big sister with me to help me walk through some memories with Ava and create new ones with her! What a great Big Thithter she is!

First on our agenda for the day was the “Mirror, Mirror” Exhibit  at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art containing personal photos of Frida Kahlo giving us newer insights of a woman my sister and I have admired for years. I believe that she defined surrealism but she said she used art to express what she felt and boy did she ever! As a young child, she had Polio. At the age of eighteen, she was in a tragic trolly accident wherein she suffered a broken pelvis, collarbone, legs and three displaced vertebrae which caused her a lifetime of excruciating pain wherein she had to endure long hospital stays, body casts, bed confinement and approximately thirty operations.

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Frida Kahlo had mirrors all over her house. I can only assume so she could paint her feelings no matter where she might be confined.

In Historic Santa Fe, we visited the San Miguel Chapel thought to be built by the Tlaxcala Indians around 1610. It is thought to be the this nation’s oldest active church!

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San Miguel Chapel built around 1610!

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San Miguel alter.

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Across from San Miguel. What shouldn’t be in this picture? LOL

A few blocks away, we entered the Loretto Chapel made famous by it’s “miraculous Staircase” to the Chapel’s choir loft. The staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. An anomous carpenter is said to have fashioned the spiral steps in 1878 by using only wooden pegs; leaving without asking for material reimbursement or compensation.

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Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe Historical District

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Loretto Chapel Miraculous Staircase front view

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Loretto Chapel Miraculous staircase back view

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Loretto Chapel Alter

As we walked through Historic Santa Fe, art of every genre is found in abundance inside and outside the buildings. I’ve never seen so much beautiful art for sale permanently exhibited in courtyards and walkways. It made us wonder how all these high end  stores could possibly stay open without a great deal of tourists.

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And, to top off our day, we found this 1953 restaurant called “The Shed,” touted to have award winning red chile.

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Tomorrow? On the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico via the Turquoise Trail.

HAPPY TAILS, TALES OR TRAILS!

We cranked up our day by visiting the Taos Pueblo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in North America. The Red Willow People of Taos Pueblo have been welcoming visitors for over a thousand years to experience their existence which has changed little in their high desert village. (www.taospueblo.com)

Our guide was a volunteer who is going to college studying environmental engineering and was well steeped in his heritage and village.

I’ll apologize right off for these pictures not being the best I’ve taken but I’m working with a brand new camera and still trying to figure out what I can and can’t do. What looks good after I review and modify doesn’t always translate the same here on WordPress. Go figure!

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This wall used to be much higher with sentries guarding the village.

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All of the village buildings are made from mud bricks made from the local dirt, straw and water which are left to dry in the sun. Once building is constructed, a thick mud coating is put over it all, including the mud brick roofs.

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Main buildings of the village.

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What happens when you don’t continue to coat the bricks in mud to protect them from inclement weather.

Our next stop was the famous Ghost Ranch just outside of Abiquiu, New Mexico. A very famous (and infamous) woman artist by the name of Georgia O’Keeffe was living in New York City in the early 1930’s when she heard of a place in New Mexico which was magnificent. Other friends had traveled there and she packed up and went.

She hired a driver to take her to meet the owner of Ghost Ranch, a woman rancher who rented out rooms to visitors, and was told there was only one room available for one night. Georgia O’Keeffe had already fallen in love with sights, sounds and smells of this majestic region and, upon being returned by her driver to Abiquiu, promptly borrowed a car and drove herself back to Ghost Ranch (alone) over the rough roads.

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View on the way to Ghost Ranch from Abiquiu

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Rustic log cabin inhabited by Georgia O’Keeffe when visiting the area.

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The view just outside the cabin.

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View inside the cabin.

Their museums include local art and history as well as a wonderful Paleozoic area of fossils found on the ranch.

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Ancient crocodile

As art was the heart and soul of Georgia O’Keeffe, it is only fitting that Ghost Ranch has a wonderful exhibit of both ancient art (pottery) and current works.

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My favorite, of course, was this horse.

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The last adventure my sister had planned for us was a hike to an area she had visited over a decade ago where water had once been abundant. Sadly no water was found this time but, being a rock-aholics we are, we were saddened by the waters absence but loved being outside with the generous herbal smells of the natural flora and fauna of the area (sage, juniper trees, wild flowers, cacti, etc.) and the vastness of the cliffs, mountains and rock formations.

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Majestic!

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What are the indentations on this boulder?

And, last but not least, ME!

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Oh yeah, and those crazy cloud formations we saw on our way to Santa Fe from Ghost Ranch. My sister said the white swirls below the clouds was the rain evaporating before it had a chance to hit the ground.

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Pretty cool stuff on this leg of our trip. We’re actually going to be in one place for TWO WHOLE DAYS! Santa Fe is ours and it’ll never be the same!

HAPPY TAILS, TRAILS OR TALES!

 

Last year before I left on that Great Adventure, I’d prayed for healing and to trust in God to show me the path it. It was, from the beginning, an amazing journey of trust and healing. As I contemplated this years Great Adventure, I prayed for Spiritual healing. And it has been just that.

As my sister and I drove through northern Arkansas to get to Branson, Missouri, she kept telling me that she had had a recurring dream of this very drive along the Buffalo River and seeing rock structures. Everywhere we went there were rock houses and buildings. It just kept reaffirming to us how the miracle of her being able to join me on this trip (our first alone in 22 years) that it was going to be cosmic. At every turn, it has been.

We left Bartlesville, OK (in northeastern Oklahoma) yesterday across the entire northern  Oklahoma panhandle about ten hours to get to Eagle Nest, New Mexico! It was worth the sacrifice because of the magnificent views which greeted us and the wonderful people we met upon arriving.

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Thousands of acres of wheat framed by gray clouds and rich green vegetation

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Amber Waves Of Grain in northern Oklahoma

The pictures above pretty much sum up the cross-state adventure of Oklahoma accentuated with rolling hills of enormous pasturelands with cows and horses. We had the best time laughing over childhood stories and other adventures. We’re sitting here still trying to believe that was just yesterday (and not a week ago) when we were in the car that long!

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Cimarron Canyon State Park was the prelude to Eagle Nest.

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These kind of rock outcroppings always make me brake for a photo

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The trees aren’t bad either!

The payoff was Eagle Nest, New Mexico and the incredible Spiritual Healer we met and all the welcoming, lovely citizens of that precious gem of a community we now know we want to visit. Eagle Nest, NM.

This morning, we wandered around this lovely western village meeting new friends and hugging kindred spirits we’d met last night. We hiked down a trail to sit on a picnic table to soak up the vast openness of this valley, inhale the healing peace and air around us and tap into God’s wonders all around us like the beautiful wild flowers.

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Magnificent wildflowers of this kind and delicate purple irises!

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This lake is huge!

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More snow capped mountains surrounding this valley

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Big sky

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More contrasts

We tore ourselves away to head for a light day of driving to Taos, New Mexico. What a beautiful town full of northern New Mexico adobe structures and artistry. We walked around the shops and couldn’t resist capturing some of its magnificent culture in local native music, weavings and garments. We ate at Doc Martin’s. We were immediately informed by our bustling waitress that this Doc Martin had absolutely nothing to do with the TV show or the shoes as she dropped our menus on the table! After we ordered, she then instructed us to read the history of the restaurant’s origins on the back of the menu. She kinda reminded me of my fourth grade no-nonsense teacher I had.

We had put our hotel address into my GPS which promptly took us 12 miles in the opposite direction to find the Rio Grande River Gorge! It wasn’t really my GPS’s fault because this small town has way too many similar names! Anyway, my brave sister walked out onto the overlook in the middle of the bridge to take these pictures!

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North view of Rio Grande River Gorge north of Tao, New Mexico

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South view of Rio Grande River Gorge north of Taos, NM

Tomorrow, we head for Santa Fe, NM to see the Georgia O’keeffe art gallery, a church with a suspended staircase and more!

HAPPY TAILS (in loving memory of Montana, the best Service Dog ever), OR TALES OR TRAILS! Reader’s choice!

 

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It’s the first time EVER on my trips West to have anyone with me at all until I got to Vegas Baby but not this year!

On the first leg of the trip, my sister has joined me. We haven’t made a trip alone together since 1995 and we certainly were overdue because we haven’t shut up talking since we left on 5/31 on our way to Branson, Missouri to see one of Ava’s dearest friends, Elisa Furr, who has performed as a Celine tribute artist all over the world for years. I haven’t been able to catch up with her the last time I was in Vegas Baby because she was in Hawaii performing with the Legends in Concert production there. When I heard she was going to be in Branson performing while I headed West, I nailed her down pretty quickly for a much needed visit.

She not only opened the doors to her home but also treated my sister and I like royalty! She got us front row VIP tickets to see her show twice yesterday and took us backstage to meet all the other performers. My sister and I fell in love with all of the amazing talent in this show!

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Elisa Furr as Celine! Oh yeah, and ME!

Some of the best times I’ve ever had were on this visit with her! We were way overdue for a a visit. Thank you, Elisa for an amazing experience! Give all our buddies at Legends BIG hugs!

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Danced with Brooks & Dunn Tribute artists! Photos of that to follow! LOL

 

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Outstanding, exciting & energetic BLUES BROTHERS Tribute artists. Sang with them! Yeah! Well, kinda!

 

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Fell in love ELIVIS (Travis)! He’s a true blue soul!

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Michael performs Michael’s Moonwalk better than Micheal!

We had the chance to get to know Michael (Michael) and Bruno (Isaiah) better when we all went to have after show drinks with Celine (Elisa). All three of these outstanding performers had literally just driven to Branson from Vegas Baby and had a tiny bit different idea of what their traditional post-performance wind down of food, fun and drinks would be like. The only place in Branson open after 10:00 PM with a bar is an Applebee’s. Yup. You’re not in Vegas Baby any more Toto! We were laughing for hours about this. Isaiah was in shock and had us rolling on the floor with his quick quips and sense of humor. Michael shared his story of how he began performing Michael J’s early as most of these performers did. Michael’s ability to transform himself into Johnny Depp, George Michael and others by showing us his portfolio photos.

Love you guys!

Today, we drove to Bartlesville, Oklahoma from Branson so I could show my sister one of the most incredible examples of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs, the Price Tower which I had discovered in my first solo trip West in 2009. I fell in love with NE Oklahoma and have been looking for an excuse to come back!

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The 1956 Price Tower by Frank Lloyd Wright was a design he had on his desk for 25 years with the NYC Bowery district in mind for multi-purpose use.

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Wright focused his design of this 19 story piece of art to include stores, offices and apartments.

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The theme of copper and naturalistic concepts and materials were to remind one of a giant tree reaching for the skies. It is not only a great story of his genius but of this town’s determination to preserve it for us to see today!

We then drove over to Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve about 12 miles SW of Bartlesville so I could show my sister another of my great finds from my 2009 trip. This country estate was owned by the oil baron, Frank Phillips, of Phillips 66 (Petroleum) fame. The Woolaroc museum is an amazing collection of antiquities found in this general region from pottery to paintings, guns to planes and trains, and many indigenous peoples artifacts, clothing and more!

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All types and origins of pottery found in this museum covers areas spanning from the midwest to the southwest.

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First Face Jugs!

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First Face Jug info

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Indigenous peoples beaded belts.

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Many amazing paintings of the region

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And beautiful bronze sculptures

Tomorrow? We drive toward Eagles Nest, Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico! I’m so excited for my incredible sister to show me this area of New Mexico which will include Georgia O’Keeffe’s home, Ghost Ranch, and the museum with her art. Santa Fe was Ava’s and my favorite place we visited on our last camping trip in 2011. I can’t wait to go back!

HAPPY TAILS!

At this time in my life, coming up with a topic concerning my best decision is quite the challenge because most of my “best” decisions are followed by strange, and, sometimes, tragic outcomes. This topic has catapulted me into a plethora of reflections this last month or so especially with the hallmark birthday which includes the number six at the beginning and the end of it.

First, I was sure it was when I was ten and my sister introduced to me of the Classics Section of the local library (specifically, Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy) which spurned me onward to bigger-than-life European history such as that of Catherine the Great and, eventually, to biographies of other famous and infamous women in history. It was their stories that made my  ancestors’  journeys burst forth with life…resuscitating them to breathe again through me. Their struggles for religious freedom or desire to invent a better bicycle brake or to be the best American Impressionist artist was the cause and effect of my destiny to fall in love with writing and, eventually, travel the back roads of the US and Canada writing this blog, fromafriend7491.com!

Our first major road trip in 2009 together

Our first major road trip in 2009 together.

But, then I remember being twenty-eight when I was sure my best decision was marrying the man I was deaf-dumb-and-blind in love with which was only followed by horrific tragedy and unbelievable loss that I surely couldn’t include that as my best anything except what I shouldn’t have done.

With her beloved big brother, Carl. They loved each other so much!

Ava with her beloved big brother, Carl. They loved each other so much!

Now I’m down to the one decision for which I’m truly proud; however, to be totally truthful, it wasn’t even my decision. It was a directive from my reliable third party directly related to a tragedy…the suicide of my beautiful gypsy opera singing daughter who lived/worked in Las Vegas, Nevada with her estranged husband.

Belly dancing magic in 2002. She looks like she has wings. Maybe, now she does.

Belly dancing magic in 2002. She looks like she has wings. Maybe, now she does.

As I drove west from my home in Georgia to handle Ava’s final affairs in early April, 2012, my reliable third party (call it God, Higher Power or whatever you wish) spoke to me in clear directives as he always does. Yes, my reliable third party always speaks to me in a very authoritative male voice. “Create an internet site to help others,” was all that was said.

As I love to drive the open road and have been doing for several years writing blogs about camping my way west alone with my dog, I have a tendency to drive anywhere from twenty-four to thirty-six hours with only pit stops and short naps. My anxiety of seeing the steel-hearted devil who was married to my daughter kept me pushing forward so as to get to my daughter’s house, git ‘er done (“Git ‘er Done Donna” is what they call me) and hit the open road again to parts unknown.

As you can well understand, my focus was on my grief and was totally not interested in hearing any message from my reliable third party concerning a task so outside my realm of expertise or knowledge. I wanted to focus on my loss, grief and how to move through finalizing things in Las Vegas and spending time on the real open road healing.

I argued. I argued my best to a silent, unrelenting audience, “I don’t know anything about creating websites!” I might as well have never even made that argument as it went flat as a fritter. Nothing. No response, no guidance, nothing for over twenty-four hours!

Finally, somewhere west of Albuquerque, New Mexico, I screamed at the silence, “What  has my forty-six years of real estate law experience got to do with creating a website?”

Finally, a response, “It taught you how to do the impossible!”

Ya’ know, I couldn’t argue with that one so my only retort was, “Now what?”

“Ask,” was the response but I knew what the real message was. I was to ask Ava’s friends who live and work in the performance industry in Las Vegas. So, I did and they all were excited for me to jump into this turbulent, bottomless task.

I started beating the drums and doing my research. I discovered that Las Vegas has a suicide rate fifty percent (50%) higher than the national average and has over eighteen bipolar therapy clinics. I obviously needed to start right there in Las Vegas.

My daughter had over 150 professional performer friends show up for her Las Vegas memorial and more would have been there but couldn’t because they had to work. Ava  was so very loved there and not a single person knew of her pain or despair save me. That’s quite a daunting task for one person and I didn’t want another friend, family or loved one to feel like there wasn’t a better decision for them to make or website to go like those my daughter visited her last night.

From her Memorial service in Las Vegas

From her Memorial service in Las Vegas

After returning home, I sat down at the computer and outlined the design of the website in forty-five pages in thirty days. I turned it over to a friend of Ava’s who was a web designer in New York during the .com days and she said it was the most detailed design she had ever seen. I didn’t want there to be any confusion about what I was “told” it was going to look like! After all, I was just following orders…very specific ones at that. This website HAD to be personal because there is NOTHING about suicide that isn’t personal. It had to be called “Ava’s Corner,” it needed to be entertaining and it had to be launched on December 2, 2012.

With the love and support of her friends, we launched the Avascorner.org website in Las Vegas on December 2, 2012. We had performers and live feed for Ava’s friends all over the world to connect with us and Avascorner.org. It was the fledgling version of the vision I was given but it was a beginning. Later, my reliable third party reminded me the reason for that date (12/02/2012) because there are more suicides in December than any other month of the year…one very close to home.

We incorporated Ava’s Corner, Inc. right before the kickoff event in 2012 and we’ve just celebrated our first year and we are getting feedback from friends and strangers alike that we’re making a difference. We got our 501(c)3 IRS certification as a non-profit public charity, which I filed myself…a true miracle as  I hate dealing with any kind of government related paperwork; however, once again, I was told I could handle it. And, I did.

We have an all volunteer Board of Directors who have experience in finance, website building, law and professional performer…all the elements needed to make a team who loved Ava and who see the vision of saving lives and educating people in what I call brain malfunctions like Bipolar Disorders (BD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) as Ava had, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and others.

Ava singing

Ava singing

Our broader Mission Statement:  “Ava’s Corner is a website constructed to encourage healing through creative energy and shedding light into the dark corners of mental disorders.

All friends or family of those suffering from brain disorders are welcome to utilize our education and support tools as well as participate in Ava’s Corner forums.”

We’re actively raising money to catapult this site into the final phase wherein members can create their own cyber community of support, freely expressing their pain through art, writing, videos, singing or other artistic endeavors as my daughter did. We have posted all the ways she found to cope until she couldn’t overcome all the negative influences of being bullied at home and at work. We had her thirty-five years, six months and ten days and we are all blessed to have had this remarkable, loving woman in our lives.

Ava's last painting from late February, 2012. Fitting that it has stars and an exhausted blue being. She was all that...a star and an exhausted blue being.

Ava’s last painting from late February, 2012. Fitting that it has stars and an exhausted blue being. She was all that…a star and an exhausted blue being.

There are other remarkable, loving people in our lives who need help and we at Ava’s Corner, Inc. and avascorner.org hope we can be there for them worldwide before another year goes by.

Ava was not just my daughter but my best friend and confidant. I have struggled valiantly these past two years to regain functions prior to March 2, 2012 as rote. I suffered from stroke-like symptoms of loss of vocabulary, thought processing, coping and more. I have only recently felt “alive” again…actually on the wee hours of December 7, 2013. I guess I’ll find out some day why that day other than the day this article was due…or that Ava visited me that morning and gave me clarity. Yes, Ava comes to me but that’s being saved for a book.

So, as I said, pain and joy, joy and pain can’t be separated when you have lived, loved and listened when making a best decision. It’s something that comes directly from the soul.