Thursday, March 29, 2012

Retreat Farewells & Fabulous Mexican Artist's Arrival

A bittersweet morning as the final remaining "retreat" family diverges in different directions. Up with the glorious sunshine, we breakfast on the porch and chatter as we begin packing cars. Cookie identifies one more bird for us, a Black-throtted Sparrow, and gives me a feather she has in her collections from the very same species. See how magical things happen here in retreat heaven?

I'm the first to leave with the aim at arriving home by 6pm to Jacksonville, Oregon, an eight hour drive. I wave painful g'byes and look for beautiful things to freeze in my mind. I love seeing the full moon following me home above the pines . . . and drive and drive.

To make an eight hour drive short, let's just say I arrive as the long shadows are beginning to spread across the hillside vineyards of Jacksonville. This arrival home is very special, not only because I get to see my honey and puppy, whom I'm been missing for over a week, but this very afternoon, someone else special arrived in Jacksonville. When we were in Mexico last winter, we met the most genuine, talented and warm Mexican artist for whom we'd arranged a visit. Efren Gonzalez will be visiting my Ashland Art Center to test out our local artist's atmosphere. And the very next day we fulfill his first request to see the Art Center and it's ceramic lab - where he'll be teaching his ceramic mural workshop next week.

The first evening we have a charming and yummy dinner (thanks my loving home chef, Roland) on the deck of our home to welcome Efren to our home.

Isn't life just too full of delicious happenings?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Free Play Saturday after Retreat's Closure

The fun free play day ~ ~ a delight to anticipate and now we get to do it!! Up early with a more relaxed yoga down at the lake glistening edge. Beautiful reflections and quiet fishermen surround us.

After breakfast, we muddle around, just deciding where and what each one of us wants to do. Before anyone takes off we have to unroll our Izzy's attempt at using my steam curlers - - she was SO thrilled to have elegant curls in her usual straight hair. It was sheer a "girl's pleasure" moment!

Out into the perfect day, we each attend to what most perfectly pleases "me"! I gravitate towards the northwest end of the lake where there are numerous Miwok Indian holes (round holes ground into the granite where the natives ground their grains etc.) I cruise around the gigantic rocks, in search of the visual scene that speaks to me. I settle in next to the water, just across from the tiny island off shore. Here's my delectable vision! On my way back to the afternoon cabin, I caught this joyous site of the Lodge Restaurant red, green and yellow umbrellas glowing in the sun. Smiles!!!

Now Jean meandered more west on the lakes edge, where the ducks seem to collect. She so catches the simple elegance of the rugged trees, rocks and dance of the water in the sun.We collect at the cabin for the late afternoon. With Izzy gone and the remainder of us starting to gather our individual things to start packing, the reality of our divergent destinations is becoming all to real. Just before sunset we all take a final sunset stroll down at the pier. As the golden sun is blanketed by the pale blues of evening, we witness the temperatures change. Lovely monochromatic scenes begin to appear and Jean later does a spin-off in her journal from influenced by that scenario.

Dinner is a buffet of "what-kind-of-delicious-leftover-do-you-want" selection and we linger around the table. Chatter around the various new ideas we've discovered and paging thru visuals, hopefully to nest them firmly in our brain for later use, fills our evening hours. The ending of our final evening at the Lake Alpine Resort us upon us and full of melancholy memories we fall asleep . . . contentedly.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Friday's Fun & Farewells at the Retreat

Another glittering, gorgeous day blossoms for us. In brisk mornin' air we weave our way to the "Yoga Rocks", as we've renamed them, to do our yoga. The sun warms us as we stretch and shortly we are back to the cabin, to feast on Izzy's (freshly made Apple-Pecan Turnovers with Steamy Coffee).

Tis' our last morn to dig into delightful creative time together. We indulge in traveling thru everyone's creations during the previous days ~ and are in wonder at the amount and variety and quality! It's almost sacred paging thru these images that flood us all with the memories of our hours in merriment.

The final process we have invented is explained as I hand out the hand-made accordion books I've crafted for each individual. On the front we will use the stamp we carved previously to denote it being "our" book. Then we pass the books around to everyone who's mission is to invent a page in the book for the specific individual to whom the book belongs.

It's mesmerizing . . . hours pass with laughter, wows and purrrrrrs of delight. We became so involved that even our Izzy (who'd pulled herself away from the kitchen to participant) had to remind us of lunch.

Lunch is special too ~ it's our first "Alumni Lunch"! A previous participant from last year's retreat was coming to visit and it was rich with news and getting-to-know conversations. We actually got a photo with ALL of us in the image (well, save for me with the camera)! We convinced our Alum to get a shot of all the riotous participants from this year before the retreat closes just after lunch. The silliness continued as you can see!

After lunch we all (save for one - who needs to return home that evening) return to finish up our accordion book page entries. Just before sunset Jean and I have to scurry the artists out of the "creative" cabin, so that we may put away all the art supplies, books and tables. With the retreat over, we want tomorrow completely free for all of us to do just as we want.

evening is spent reveling in our treasured journals and savoring new ideas hoping to tuck them in our minds for later.

Our Izzy prepares us a yummy re-heated leftover dinner - and I manage to sneak outside for a quick and chilly shot of the surreal night sky and parking lot. There's an air of melancholy as we all realize our days dwindle that will be spent here in the company of our new-found friends and the rejuvenating mountain surroundings.

Monday, March 5, 2012

YES, Wednesdays Post did follow Thursdays ...

I'm certain you all will understand . . . how I could get my posts flipped . . . hopefully . . .

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Retreat Wednesday to Remember

Wednesday blossomed with glorious sunshine and dancin’ cumulus clouds. Finally, with the ground dry enough, we actually were able to do our yoga on the quiet lake shore. With a breakfast of Cheesy Spinach & Chicken Frittatas from Chef Izzy rounding our tummies, we are ready for the day.

Our morning processes were inward looking. We began with a calming, centering Buddhist Meditation on the warm deck. Ahhhhhhhhh, the sheer pleasure to one’s senses just relaxing into the fresh mountain air.

Next, Jean led us in the “Cut Up Memory Walk”. In silence, we all move to secluded areas we select outside then, return to finish up the experience in our journals. Jean, as usual, is having fun here! We also catch our Chef Izzy, who was in our adjacent cabin and had apparently completed lunch prep, allowing her some relaxing horizonal time on the deck.

The completed journal pieces varied in deliciousness. With mine, I’d saved all my recent birthday cards and incorporated them into this process. One of the “expressions” I’d used that felt particulary inventive was the golden colored thread weaving thru the air. What this represented in my experience outside was the scent of curry, as Chef Izzy simmered our evening curry sauce!!

This lil' fish sequence formulated at the last minute. I found this piece of bark that so much looked like a fish and that stirred my memory of smiling over Cookie's collection (which she'd offered up to all of us) of teeny lil' creatures - - I remembered the tiny fish. He had to be eaten my my "big fish". You'll also see a teeny moose up near the mountains, top left. Again, this page evolved as it only could have at the retreat with the very special mix of women there.

With a fabulous lunch of Grilled Chicken, Chickpea, Cauliflower and Spinach Salad, tossed with Smoked Salmon and Vegan Caesar Dressing fueling us, we launced into a rather complicated exercise, “Stitching into Journals”. I gave more extensive examples of sewing flat, embroidered or here, 3-dimensional objects into your journal. This was a piece I’d made ahead of time, so the stitiching could go quickly in the demo. Notice the numerous pages I need to cut “windows” thru so that my piece wouldn’t have pressure upon it when the journal pages closed.

Our evening relaxed into satisifaction as re-lived the day, chattered about processes and, of course, relished that “Tofu Curry” over your selection of Steamed Brown Rice or Udon Noodles. What a yummy day!