Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The art of a New Year

As 2014 fades away and a bright new shiny 2015 waits to leap in the door, I am in a happy frame of mind. At the end of 2013 I had a terrible fall and it took me most of 2014 to recover. It was only in about late October early November I felt my stength - physically and mentally - was back on track. I am very grateful it is, although I realize I'm wandering deeper in to the old fart category age wise, my mind is still thinking young. Every so often my body has to go "Whoa there kid... remember your age."
Every New Year I reflect on special friends I've met around the world and I always have a quiet toast to them to say thank you for being in my life and for your friendship. ANd I hope to see each and every one of you again sometime soon. There are those I'll never see again. But what joy they were to know and there's a few I know have got together up there and are having one hellva party.
So - to my old friends and the new ones I'll meet soon... here's my wish for you.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The art of love for family and friends

Every Christmas Eve my family - where ever they are in the world - lights a red candle and, with bubbly, toasts our family and friends who are far away from us on other continents. Got my candle set, the champers chilling and thinking of you all with love.
                                            Cheers to us all....and big hug

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Art of Christmas Tree ornaments

It's the week before Christmas and we got the tree up early. I am not in the least bit religious but I do love my angels on the tree. We collect ornaments as we travel and I thought I would share a couple of my favourites with you. Part of the fun for us are the memories as we decorate the tree. We have some funky ornaments - like the decorated shotgun bullet from North Carolina mountain country or the drunk bourbon swilling guy from Kentucky and the swinging ring within a ring from North Pole, Alaska! But it's all about the angels this time. 

My very favouritest of all is my delicate cotton beauty from Prague. I bought her in the Kafka House up behind the imposing castle. His tiny home now houses a shop selling handmade goods by physically and mentally challenged crafters.

The lovely tree top angel has been with us since we lived in Nevada. We bought her at a Christmas market and she is made with shaded handmade glass.

The white beaded Zulu angel from South Africa takes pride of place each year. I love her billowing dress and gold headdress. This year the new African angel joined her. She is very mod - all red patterned and angular.

 After Hurricane Katrina we lived in the North Carolina Smokey Mountains for 5 months courtesy of very kind friends. We went to a quilt show by the Smokey Mountain Quilting Guild and picked up two delightful handmade angels, this is one of the sweet faced angels.

When we lived in Georgia we went to a Christmas market and couldn't resist this folk art angel - her base is an old fashioned clothes line peg. The lady who made them was a character of the first order.

Our angel from Istanbul was made for us by a dear friend who also lived there. She's sassy and quite the loud dresser with curly locks. My friend said she used me as the model - at the time I was sporting wild curly hair. The first and only time in my life my hair had any body to it!

Last but not least is our Babushka doll - not really an angel but why not include her. She's lovely. The Russian dolls are ubiquitous and hardly a novel item but we bought her at a Russian market near the Georgian border on the Black Sea. It was when the Soviet Union was crumbling and Russians poured over the borders in to Turkey selling all kinds of wares. We picked up a lot of really pure caviar for a couple of bucks a jar and a set of the dolls featuring Russian heads of state from Lenin to Gorbachev and Yeltsin. We also bought this sweet wee doll all on her own - no doll within a doll. She is an individual. That market was fun - and sad. Some of the vendors were desperate and selling anything they could. We saw one selling just one shoe.

So.. these are some of my Christmas angels - may your holiday ... whatever you celebrate ... be joyous and carefree. I wish you all the best for 2015 - may be it a good year for all of us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Art of an e-Book

I'm proud to announce my, well, Chaussette's really since it's in her voice, first mini e-book in the series of living with cats, The Toe Terrorist, has been published by Smashwords. It has now been approved for sale on the online stores of Apple, Barnes & Noble, WH Smith's in the UK, iBooks, Kobo and many more. 
It's a 35-page illustrated book and a percentage of the profits will go to no-kill animal rescue shelters. The first shelter I will donate to is the Georgetown SPCA in Delaware. They do amazing work and have incredible success in getting dogs and cats adopted. They work closely with Just Us Cats & Kittens from Lewes, Del., the group that rescued my Chaussettes.
I gave a large donation to Just Us Cats & Kittens this summer. The second book (if this one sells enough!) donation will go to the rescue group that train the rescued dogs as therapy dogs for the Wounded Warrior program.
It costs $3.99 - less than a low cost bottle of wine... but you get to enjoy it for a whole lot longer and never get a headache!! Please help me help the animals by purchasing one and encouraging others to do so.  If you want to search, the ISBN # is ISBN: 9781311280992
You can also buy it directly from Smashwords... click that link and off you go.


Thursday, December 04, 2014

The art of giving and receiving

So... I had a short break from just about everything with a marvellous trip to Puerto Rico and St. Croix, USVI. I loved PR... we were in Isabella on the N shore on the Western end and drove all over that area which is not touristy and was a delight. I especially loved Ponce. It's got the charm of a European city, is laid back and beautiful. The Puerto Rico people are just delightful and friendly. The island is clean, relaxed and beautiful. St. Croix was like going home for me - it reminded me so much of Durban .. the vegetation, the climate (except it's more comfy because the trade winds keep the himidity down). We ate too much, relaxed and enjoyed ourselves at both airbnb 's we stayed at, nice places and nice folks.
And then after that trip, Thanksgiving arrived and I decided to extend my holiday!! So.. I am back! Fat and happy.

And now some exciting news... Book 1 of my mini book series on living with cats  is out today... all the news is in my new magazine! Also.. some of the profit from the sales of these books will go to animal rescue and shelters. Chaussettes and Geordie give us such joy, so we feel we have received and thus must give back ... please help me spread the word. Thank you.
                               Click here to link to the magazine

And,finally, here are a couple of sketches from our trip to Puerto Rico and St Croix

Arts & cultural center in Ponce, PR

The pilots of the Caribbean. We flew from PR to St Croix in a 6 passenger Cessna with 2 character pilots
Villa Morales, nice restaurant near Fredericksed, St Croix

Friday, November 07, 2014

The Art of Life

So, I can't find my journals from the Central American trip.. I saw it a couple of weeks ago. I know it is in my writing room somewhere buried. I have been on this 'tidy up my notes, photos and stuff' voyage for a couple of months and ofcourse now I can't find a damn thing. Except photos or scribbles I had totally forgotten about, I look at them and go, "Oh yes! Look! I remember this!" and off goes my brain in another direction of memory...good and bad. It is actually really fun but I am not being terribly organized about it. I should be disciplined and have boxes to put things in based on years or countries or some logical thing. I suppose? I am a total pig-pen.
For some reason both the men I married are tidy, organized and practical individuals. My first husband was an accountant. You can't get much more logical, picky and practical than an accountant.
Lee is also practical and very tidy. I drove #1 crazy and I do the same to Lee - he does roll his eyes a whole lot. When he asks me where something is and I reply, "It's in my drawer/desk/whatever." he almost always replies, "oh no, I'm not going to go there... it's too scary."
But I manage to muddle through life. I guess my approach to life can be described as messy. I don't always think things through. I have instant reactions, gut reactions, to things. Sometimes it works out magically. Sometimes it's "What was I thinking?"
But I firmly believe I would not have lived the varied life I have if I thought things through. I've hardly ever been able to afford all my travels but I did them anyway... if you wait for everything to be in place, you might never do what you were planning. The rewards far outweigh the lack of funds or insecure future I constantly face.
The second secret is I rarely question whether I can actually do something. I have embarked on any number of projects, careers or ideas without the faintest idea of what I am doing. I try my hand at it, work out - sometimes - how to do it and go for it. It's part of the excitement - if you "teach" me how to do something I get bored. If I have to work it out for myself, I enjoy it.

So this blog merely and briefly makes two points - don't over think things and take chances. That is my advice - if it works for you, go for it. And good luck!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Art of Ignoring Advice

Back in 1996 our lovely old VW pop top camper proudly displayed her license tags in a holder that read "Old Volks Home" and was registered in Santa Cruz, California, which was very fitting for two old hippies heading out of the USA for all points South.
And practically everyone told us not to go. "It's too dangerous." "The roads are appalling, you'll break down and get attacked." "Do not go anywhere near Chiapas whatever you do."
Well, thank goodness we ignored all this advice.
The roads were perfectly fine. When we did break down, we were helped.
And we absolutely adored the whole Chiapas region. We camped amongst lush green trees and walked all over the town of San Cristobal for over a week. We explored the large market and ate street food. The local vendor selling Zapata freedom fighter dolls was a humourous soul. It was a beautiful and welcoming place.
Before we got to Chiapas though, we travelled all over central and eastern Mexico... with some adventures with howler monkeys and drug runners around the Sian Ka'an Biosphere on the Yucatan peninsular. After Mexico we drove through Guatamala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica .. it was a spectacular 7 month trip.
I am going to be courageous and delve in to the utter mess in my writing room - I hope I emerge intact - to find my journals from the trip. It's all clear in my mind but I want to be sure of my facts before I write. Then I will give you some highlights over the next few weeks.

But here's a couple of photos of San Cristobal, the main town of Chiapas ...
the Zapata dolls, not sure when I lost mine
local family at San Cristobal market, the colours of their traditional clothes are fabulous

the market San Cristobal
getting some good food on the streets of San Cristobal

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The art of tranquility

I am not having a good week. My computer crashed. Which is a disaster. So I am not going to write any observations or reminiscences. I will just wish you peace, light and love for Diwali.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Art of Impromptu Concerts

Life on a sailboat revolves around weather, sails, the best dinghy, finding safe anchorages, provisioning and all the nuances of daily life on water.  A highlight is the people you meet, invariably they are characters of the first order. There is a certain amount of insanity involved with boating types, and if you are lucky, they can sing.

While we were anchored off Formentera we heard of a new harbour being built on Ibiza. You could tie up there, get fresh water and stay a while for free since it was under construction. It was a perfect spot to spend a couple of days while we re-provisioned at the local street market. The half built pier we were tied up to with one other boat was a jumble of huge boulders and a grand spot to celebrate the 4th of July  before heading over to Mallorca.

In the late afternoon we got our little hibachi set up on the rocks, got out the deep yellow chicken pieces, salads and wine all set to toast the 4th. While we got cooking and talking a guy jumped off the other boat and strode down to join us, large bottle of vodka in hand.

"I am Sasha," he said as he took the top off the bottle and threw it away. He looked at Lee. "You are American, I am Russian. Our countries are not friends but we can be."

Without further ado he plopped himself down to join us, our self-invited guest, and told us about himself. Sasha was an opera singer, had misbehaved too many times and got thrown out of the Moscow opera company. It seems it was politically difficult for him to return to Russia and although much of what he said wasn't very clear, he was entertaining.

The level of the vodka in his large bottle sunk steadily. He told outrageous stories before laughing heartily, then while telling another would get weepy and wail, "Oh Sasha! poor Sasha!" as tears poured down his cheeks. Then he started to sing.

The sun sank below the horizon, the sky a soft palette of magentas tipped with red, and the sea softly lapped the giant boulders. We sat entranced as Sasha's powerful voice filled the night with aria after aria. Our very own private opera was a night of pure magic before Sasha suddenly got up, thanked us for inviting him and staggered off. We never saw him again.

A year of so later we anchored in a small bay on the Eastern shore of Mallorca. There is a small village tucked in the far end with restaurant tables lining the quay. Once we were settled we heard this voice calling, "La Rochelle! La Rochelle! Come and join us!"

At water's edge was Barry, a Welshman we'd met a few months earlier. We hopped in the dinghy and rowed over to join him and five of his friends. They were all old friends  visiting him from Wales. The meal was delightful. The dishes got cleared away, more wine was ordered and then they all started to sing in their lyrical native tongue. The Welsh are rightly famous for their magnificent voices and as the sound swelled over the bay in the hush of the evening, I thought, "this setting, this chorus, like Sasha's solo performance, can not be planned. The glorious spontaneity of times like this remain with you for ever."

And it has remained with me. I can close my eyes and the magic returns clear as a bell. It always makes me catch my breath with the same joy and sense of privilege that filled me at the time. The art of music is a gift to be treasured. I wish I had it but am so grateful to those who do.
Ibiza Sunset © Anne Jenkins

Thursday, October 09, 2014

The art of struggle and perfection

Well, this self-publishing saga surely takes you through a very steep learning curve. I uploaded the book and it got rejected twice... leading to more investigation and scratching of head. It seems I really, REALLY, need the one program they've mentioned about a zillion times. So, if all else fails, read the instructions and carry on. I have ordered said program and will cut and paste book to it, make the adjustments I think is needed (from what I can understand of the technical gobblygook) and will try again. Please send me more good vibes... it will work eventually!!
So while I wait for all this to take it's course, I got to thinking about my sailing blogs so far. They've all been about bad weather and learning experiences. And I thought I'd share a few brief thoughts about good weather sailing.
Sailing in good to perfect conditions is about the closest thing I can think of to describe heaven. There is a silence that isn't silent, a peacefulness that envelopes your whole body and soul, a joy that bubbles up and makes you grin at nothing in particular. Even as you surrender yourself to the joy of perfect sailing conditions you scan the horizon for shipping, keep an eye on the weather just in case and fiddle with sails but it does not dampen the joy.
The best thing about good sailing times is you feel all is right with the world.
A few of my perfect sails stay in the top part of happy memories of a lifetime. One was a sail we did from the mainland of Spain to the Balerics. The sea was calm, the wind steady and light but strong enough to keep us at a good clip. We put the auto pilot on and absorbed it all.
One of the best places to really revel in a perfect sail is the pulpit... the stanchions and stuff at the bow for those that don't know all the terminology. You sit down on it facing the boat and give yourself up to the motion of the boat. You can't see when it's going to dip or twist you just feel the flow and listen to the sound of the water rushing over the hull. Lee took this of me in the pulpit en route to the Balerics in 1986.

Another super cool experience is leaving a harbour with all the winds aligned and putting up the cruising chute .. this is a cruising sailors spinnaker. Racing spinnys are just too temperamental. A friend took this photo of Lee and I taking La Rochelle out of the glorious deep Mahon harbour on Menorca and heading out to sea.

It makes me happy just to look at these two photos. There have been many more wonderful sails but both of these were stand outs. The perfect sail. A treasure.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The Art of Courage to Face Publishers

Oh! my ... big week for me this week. And I am a little nervous. I think I have finished, polished, formatted, edited and tweeked some more, the first of my cat book series. I am trying to get up the courage to upload it to the e-book site for scrutiny by the experts. I fear they will spit it out with many, many corrections to be done. But I must be brave and do it.
I decided to concentrate on this cat series to start off and to learn the ropes. I have to go the e-book route first due to image sizing. I would do IPAD sketches for the first book ,wouldn't I? Couldn't just do the easier route now, could I?
It's not long, just 38-40 pages of text and sketches. I am channeling Chaussettes, my black tuxedo rescue special needs cat as the voice. I hope to make it a series, a wee book of her musings and sketches and giggles every year. If I can sell a whole bunch, I will donate some of the profit to cat and dog rescue shelters.
Just Us Cats - the group that rescued Chaussettes' mother and her three kittens from a barn, suggested I also do a print version for older animal fans who don't do computers too well. I am looking in to it - given the image sizing, it is tricky, but, I believe I will find a way.
I intend to do my children's book on trucking once I have this under control and have learned a whole lot more. It was too difficult to try and do both at once. So my cats are my guinea pigs! And it is a fun way to experiment.
I finally built up the beginning of my books website. It's only 3 pages, but it's a start. I have 2 of my older books on it and I hope you will check it out and give me some feedback.
So, I think I'll just go over the draft one more time.... take a deep breath and sign on to the publishers. EEEEEK!

Send me positive vibes, okay?
© Anne Jenkins All Rights Reserved

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Art of a Dark and Stormy Night

I lay in bed last night listening to the wind and rain thinking, "it's a dark and stormy night alright." I actually like wind and rain because it always gets me thinking. Let me clarify that... I like it when I'm safely tucked up in bed and not out in it. Rainy nights are always good for a trip down memory lane.

My days of sailing usually are at the top of the list. The basic rule of thumb when living on board is, "I'd rather be in this harbour wishing I was out there, than out there wishing I was in here." Bad weather is part and parcel of sailing but if you can avoid it, so much the better.

I've been through way too many 'will I survive this?' storms or bad conditions at sea but a few are up in the top 10 of bad. This is one of them.

On a moody January morning in 1986 Lee and I set sail from Morocco bound for Tenerife in the Canary Islands on a delivery of a bare bone Swan 37. They are Swedish built and one of the best sailing boats in the world. The weather was threatening but we were on the clock, which is never a good thing when sailing. The weather worsened steadily and soon we were barreling along under storm sail over raucous waves. The heavens just opened and belted us with heavy rain every time I went on watch.

It stayed bad for nearly three days, really bad. We had some scary incidents with unidentifiable ships and a few other mysterious, but quite funny, happenings. We were exhausted and very wet by the end of it as we had to hand steer the whole time. Water leaked in to our lockers and we had absolutely no dry clothes. Lee gets seasick the first couple of days out - he's fine when on the helm or flat out in his bunk. It's the in between bits that are difficult for him. I strapped myself to the stove a couple of times a day to make hot chocolate and a simple version of French toast. This sustenance was about all we could manage because the boat was bashing around so much.

I was on watch as a dull dawn broke, the wind started to lighten and the rain became a drizzle. The Atlantic swells were enormous. You had to steer up at an angle and then run down the other side at an angle. I was doing the wave zigzag when I saw dolphins playing in the big swells in the distance. I was just delighted. Dolphins make you feel safe and happy. My cheerful state of joy dimmed as we drew closer and I realized it wasn't dolphins, it was a pod of whales. The swells were so bloody big, they made the whales look small. I remember my heart sinking as I wondered, "Will this never end?" It did eventually, a weak sun came out, the sea calmed and we shook out the sails.
Later we festooned the railings with our clothes to dry. We sailed naked and free and laughed loudly at the exhilaration of the storm ending. A big school of dolphins - really dolphins this time - joined us and started playing across our bows. We were finally able to put the auto pilot on before we both rushed to the bow. It was a spectacle of fun. The dolphins rose out the water on their tails and chattered at us before diving and racing through the bow wave. It's one of the most wonderful sights in the world. Their happy faces and antics drove away any misery and fear.

Dark and stormy nights often bring that trip back to me and I still wonder about that ship we couldn't identify...what it was, it's size or the direction it was going. And I am always very grateful indeed to be snug in my warm bed thinking about being out there, rather than being out there wishing I was in here.
At the start of the trip as the weather was starting to build. No time to take photos after this till the end of the trip! Lee should have had his safety harness attached to the wheel...he got yelled at.

Finally dry-ish and heading in to Los Christianos, Tenerife

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Art of Spirit Influence

I wrote this blog in January 2013. I'm re-blogging it - is there such a word? I am not getting out of writing a blog this week, it's just appropriate. I went and took a sculpture workshop when I got my fellowship last year. 
I have always had a hankering to do sculpture. Now I know how long it takes, I know I will not be doing much but I will continue. I bought the tools, I have a vague idea how to do it and will on occasion continue with it. I was drinking my coffee this morning and looking at my small piece, Warm Welcome, and thought I can see how Nana influenced me. 
And so … meet Nana. Here's the old blog
Last week when I wrote about my friend, Nana Berthelot - a wonderful sculptor in Mallorca, in the Balearics... it brought an avalanche of special memories of our time together for a couple of years when we lived there. Lee and I were living on our 30' sailboat, mostly anchored in the bay off Puerto Colom, a delightful small town with a big natural harbour and an atmospheric old town with high rampart walls and large cathedral dominating it's skyline.
Our mode of transport was 2 fold-up bicycles... old and rather rusty but they worked. Nana lived in a finca surrounded by olive groves in the tiny village of Son Prohens a couple of kilometers away. We'd often ride our bikes over with food in our front baskets. We'd prepare the meal while she worked away at chipping stone. When it was ready, we'd set the table under a tree away from her dusty work and we'd all enjoy a long leisurely meal and wine, talking and laughing.
Other times she'd drive by the harbour, hoot at us, we'd row over and hop in the car and go with her to the quarry to order stone. She drove a little Renault 5 and we'd go barreling down in to the dark mouth of the quarry inside a mountain. I was always sure we'd get lost down there but Nana drove with great panache and speed through dark tunnels, stopped at the right place, placed her order and we'd shoot out the mouth of mountain in to the sun without mishap every time. The day after placing her order a flatbed truck would show up at her olive grove and begin dumping the pieces off haphazrdly. She left them where they were and whether they were horiztonal or vertical, on their sides or flat it didn't matter ... the stone told her what do create.
This photo is of 2 pieces in progress - they weathered naturally as she worked on them since they sat out exposed to all the elements. The man's legs behind the tree are a friend of ours who is about 6 foot, so you can get some sense of scale. These were 2 of her smaller pieces.

Nana's real name is Anne, but everyone called her Nana - a beautiful, tranquil woman who makes beautiful things, we are fortunate indeed to know her. I can hear her lilting voice with her fractured English, mixed with Spanish and French as I write this. Such happy, treasured memories.
And back to today:

Here is my wee piece. You can see how her creative spirit helped drive mine. I am astounded I didn't see it before! I met Nana in the 1980's.. and here in 2013 her influence comes to me. How wonderful is that!?
Please visit my website and my new website on my books... it's early days with this one but it's a start!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Art of the Senses

This Throwback Thursday thing on Facebook sure has got the old mind reminiscing over my long and eventful life. A smell, a sound, a song, a taste, a view triggers the memory. Smell works big time for me.
When I go home for a visit, I step off the plane at Oliver Tambo Airport and the scent of Africa brings tears to my eyes. You might think you can't smell much at an airport except fuel but that is not the case in Africa. It has a distinct smell that is wild and strong and just wonderful. I could smell it when I got off planes in Nairobi, Niamey, Luanda, Casablanca and Cairo to mention just a few. North Africa is slightly different to Central and Southern Africa but still it's there. And just a whiff of it takes me home. Africa is the only continent that has a distinctive smell.
Just as the scent of Africa takes me home, the aroma of cooking takes me back to places I've lived or visited. I had a little 27 foot sailboat when I lived in Greece. It was sheer pleasure poddling around the islands like Aegina or Poros at weekends or venturing further afield for longer trips during holidays. There was one tiny island in the Saronic Gulf, too small to be inhabited but large enough to walk on and we called it Thyme Island. I have no idea what it's real name was. As you neared it, then passed it the heavy smell of wild thyme filled the air. Simple, clean and pure.
Plop garlic in to olive oil or butter and it fills all the senses. It also starts a culinary journey in my mind. And that's the power and true enjoyment of food. It often happens, a meal guides the conversation around countries or cities or villages of the world. At the smell or taste of something I return to the small outdoor restaurant on the coast of Italy, the floating markets of Thailand or the magical meat pie shop in the mountains of Australia.
Songs always remind you of something – a celebration, an embarrassment, a moment in time, a past lover or a certain place. We spent two years driving 18-wheelers around the USA which was certainly an adventure. If I ever write a book about those two years I should call it “Driving a Song.” There are such iconic songs and lyrics about so many places in this country, you can't help but yodel a few lines as you barrel along the highway. We often threatened each other with ghastly deeds if we heard a terrible rendition along the lines of, “Take me home country road, West Virginia” one more time. Neither of us can carry a tune for the life of us, simply dreadful singing voices.
Art has the same power of triggering memories. I can look at a piece in my collection and have instant recall of where I was, who the artist is, if I knew them as a friend or the happy time I experienced when I got it. People should look at art like this...its not how much it cost or how traditional it is or what technique the artist used. It should make you catch your breath, touch all your senses and bring a smile to your heart.

I am so grateful I have thousands of interesting memories and lots of great art . It's a privilege.
Top: 27 Foot Daybreak anchored off a Greek island
Below: 30 Foot La Rochelle, my home for nearly 5 years, anchored in the bay of Cabrera, our favourite island in the Spanish Balerics.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

The Art of Good Ignorance

I am not sure why I always try something new, especially when I have no idea what I am doing. I have had this foolish trait all my life and it doesn't seem to be going away any time soon.
When I was young and looked fabulous, I dated this really rich farmer who had his own plane. One day when he flew down to see me, I met him at the airport as we were going to fly along the coast for a while to go somewhere for lunch. Once we were in the air, I said, without giving it any thought at all, “Can I fly the plane?” The idiot said yes and gave me control of the Cessna. Well, the next few minutes got very exciting as he realized I'd said, “Can I” not “May I” … because I very obviously couldn't.
He took over and landed the plane looking a touch pale. He immediately flew off back to his big farm and the romance never recovered. I believe he thought I was a tad reckless.
Shortly thereafter I found myself in a new country with my first husband, no wealthy farmer, delivering sailboats from the U.K. to the Mediterranean via the dreaded Bay of Biscay. The first boat we delivered was a 34 foot catamaran.
On the second night out from Cornwall a violent storm blew up. Bad weather always seems to start at night, the weather gods love playing wee jokes on sailors. The boat crashed, wobbled and lurched alarmingly under it's teeny storm sail as I tried to keep the boat stable while the wheel felt like it had a life of it's own. I clearly recall saying out loud, “What the hell am I doing? Oh! thank God, Mum can't see me now.”
So I started a serious negotiation with God about how good I'd be if he just let me live through this. God wasn't impressed with my negotiating skills, nor did he believe me since I hadn't prayed or thought of him in years.
The storm raged all night but calmed a bit to a grey sullen dawn, by which time I was back on watch. The swells were large and threatening in the misty pale light. I was gazing out and thinking how surprisingly quiet it was, I felt I was the only person in the whole world. I just listened to the slap of water and whoosh of a swell passing the hulls and wondered whether I ought to try thanking God or would that just irritate him.
Suddenly the sea beside me started bubbling and roiling and I nearly had a heart attack as a submarine barreled out of the depths to the surface beside us. I don't know if you've ever been up close and personal with a submarine but they are not friendly looking vessels. Menacing to say the least. It motored off without opening it's conning tower to wave at me which I thought rather rude. It obviously wasn't the Royal Navy. They would have acknowledged our blue duster. The owner of the boat was a retired Royal Navy commander thus we could fly the blue. I often speculated why he didn't sail his own boat to the Med.
But I swore there and then I would give up this sailing tiny boats across oceans for good. Naturally after that I delivered more boats, spent another entire season on a racing boat in the Solent, went on to own two of my own in the Med., living on one for nearly 5 years – you get the picture.
So, what is the moral of the story here? I got to thinking about these various episodes in my life after a friend commented on a previous post how she hated change but admitted it can be a good thing. My life seems to revolve around change so I guess it works for me.
There have been a lot of other “not knowing what I am doing” episodes but I shan't go in to them...too long a list. The point is I started off blindly ignorant, learned how things worked by trial and error mostly, and once I got the hang of it, I set off to try something new.
Here I am doing it again. Writing and illustrating two books. One for children. I've never had children nor had much to do with them. I started out without checking dimensions and such necessary techie things and now find myself having to start over.
I think it's a good thing though ... I am looking at it differently, doing a little more research but it's going slowly. Okay, some days I just ignore it and call it a thinking day.

Really, what is this? A thinking day? Well, hey, you gotta fool yourself sometimes to remain sane. It works for me anyway.
"After the Storm" Acrylic on cradled wooden panel 24" x 12" Still available $650
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Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Art of Memory

Last Sunday my neighbour cleared out his garage to tidy it up before winter closes in. And, man oh man, do they have a lot of stuff. The lawn just kept filling up but what caught my eye were the trunks.
They had those old trunks used for travel, or a bride's trousseau as she set off for a new life, or families large and small that set off from the old world for the new world. Big deep sturdy trunks with leather handles and brass clips.
I had one when I went off to boarding school for the first time at the ripe old age of nine. It wasn't considered too young, there were lots of children much younger than me sent off with trunks and good wishes back in those days. My parents were moving about mid-year and thought it best if I started school in the town we were going to rather than move half way through. We were moving from way out in the sticks to a mid-sized town a few hours away. The school year in South Africa runs January-December.
The school I went to was run by nuns in a convent and let's just say it was not a meeting of minds. I think they were as delighted as I was when my family finally moved, later in the year than planned, but at last I moved back home to be a day scholar.
A year or so later at the age of 12 I was sent to another boarding school for the remainder of my school years and they were very happy years.
I haven't given any of this time much thought for many years. But seeing those trunks on the lawn reminded me of that convent and how strange that whole experience was to a small child.
I know the old trunks hung around at home for a while but I'm not sure what happened to them. I spent a good part of the day wondering if I'd taken mine to my happy boarding school. I think I did for a year or so but they were mighty heavy and bulky to move around. The only difference from these was mine had strong leather straps around it.

Anyway, the flood of memories made me pause and paint a couple of the trunks on the lawn here in the USA. There were way more than 3 but this was enough for my journal. Now I can take it out every often to be transported to another time. It's funny how something so simple can cause an avalanche of memories ... good and bad.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Art of Life

Things happen for a reason... if you're lucky, what seems like a painful bite in the butt, actually sends you off in a better direction. Well, that's what I'm hoping just happened.
Last week I muttered about technology and my failed efforts at resizing my images for my book. Days later, when all else had failed, I phoned the source... the folks who developed the program.
Oh no,” they happily said. “You can't resize them, they will look awful...they will just look stretched. This program is developed for digital use only, not print.”
Did I think of checking any of this trivia before I started drawing? Did I hell. Which is a little irritating because I can't sulk and blame someone else.
But they were gentle and kind, and they suggested another program I should try. They said it was user-friendly and easy.
Really, they said that. Never trust a person under 30. It used to be anyone over things change.
Easy? What would they consider hard? It might seem easy to a young techie type who can design programs and manipulate computer stuff.
To this old brain, it's “What the @)(*(&^% do I do with this thingie?” and “Oh, if I click on this... shit, now what?
But, sort of hate to admit this, but I am beginning to like the new program. I still haven't the faintest idea what most of the thingies are or what they do, but I am finding it fun and challenging.
I was skyping with my sister this morning and said how easy the old program was which is why I loved it so much but I also felt I had gone a bit flat with it.
She replied, “Well, that was probably the reason you felt flat about it. It was too easy. You need a challenge.”
It must run in the family.
So, here I am... 37 illustrations for the book done and they can't be used. I face a new program and it's quirks. It will take me a bit of time to get the hang of it I suppose.
Give me a while and no doubt I will be waxing lyrical about how fun it is... the grand unexplainable circle of life.

You just have to have a sense of humour to survive the experiences. Luckily, mine seems to be over-developed.

Please visit visit my website and click on my online store...I'm having a super summer sale

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Art of Technical Know how - HA!

A couple of weeks back I blithely said I would concentrate on my book all during August and get it out soon. What was I thinking? I am in the behind the scenes, nitty gritty part of the writing process. I have most of the illustrations and more or less what I want to say or convey pretty much done. Not 100% but pretty close.
Now it all gets technical – I could say it goes downhill from here on out. I had no idea fonts were an issue. There are certain fonts you can't use legally in e-books, or certain matching fonts for print books work better than others, or page layouts, or image resolutions and size. And that's just a fraction of the technical stuff you have to wade through.
Oh! my poor non-technical brain and non-mathematical brain aches! I stare blankly at the screen and say, “You mean I have to convert pixels to inches? I have to convert those image sizes to what?”
And then to throw another curve ball at my good self, I did all the illustrations on my IPAD. Not the traditional paper and paint or pen. Oh no, not me! I go for digital and technical. And I'm not in the least bit gifted when it comes to technical. But the IPAD sketches are so cute and perfect...charming I would say... so there! Deal with it I say to my good self. So.. the learning curve continues.
Perhaps it would be a tad simpler if I was writing a non-illustrated book. But no! I have to jump right in with illustrations and text. Why be easy on yourself?
I belong to a writers discussion group on a publishing site and I am sure I will drive the others bonkers pretty soon. Or they will think I am a lame brain of the top order.
But, then, where would the fun and the challenge be if I knew what I was doing?

As we say in South Africa...EISH! And then get on with it. C'est la vie.
Who drives a truck? © 2014 Anne Jenkins

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

the Art of Lightness

A feeling of lightness, not quite contentedness, just a lightness in the soul is a marvellous thing. A series of negative things haven stolen my normally happy path through life this past year, mentally bringing me down, way down and shaking my confidence. I am normally very confident and an incurable optimist, so it was an unusual time for me.

Catalysts aren't always a big bang dramatic event. Sometimes they are the in your face big moment and sometimes just a quiet whimper. This one was the quiet type. I just felt myself breathe deep and say, "Hell, I don't care about it any more," and the lightness came. I don't know where it will lead, nor do I worry much about it, I just know I feel comfortable again and my mind no longer lingers over the past year. I look to the future with confidence once again. I am glad and relieved. I missed my old self for a while there.

Many people have told me I should do more writing. I enjoy it and now I am combining my writing and my art down a new avenue. A children's book? Everyone who knows me falls about laughing, it is obvious my knowledge of children is pretty much zero. But as not a few people have pointed out, I haven't grown up myself so I should be fine. And I live with one of the biggest kids around. All is well, I have my test readers aged 4-12 and Lee.

As with most of the adventures in my long and eventful life, I am embarking on this one without much planning nor the faintest idea what I am doing. I am just doing it.
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These three tranquil blue candle holders adorn the coffee table in a place of great peace and refuge for me, watching them and listening to the silence of the place helped the lightness come back to my soul. Thank you Ellijay once again.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Art of No Blog

A dear fellower of my blog sent me an oh-so gentle reminder that my blog needed updating. An understatment to say the least... I haven't blogged since November 2013. 
Is there any body still out there?
What can I say? Not much except that I didn't feel like blogging, if I may be so honest. I haven't been in the best frame of mind the past few months, and I decided my natural tendency to honesty might not be the best forum for a  public space. I would likely offend certain people.
My mind is less foggy these days and I am looking ahead and not back.
I am heading in new directions with my art, no surprise there, I always am heading in new directions. I am bored with painting standard type paintings and selling them. I feel I have achieved what I wanted to do in this part of the art world... I had tired of painting pretty pictures and wanted to use my art for good. I have now done this - I painted works that went to a good cause - my bank balance and the Amandawe Support Group for AIDS orphans in SA - with my Vukuzakhe Project, I completed my installation piece on the Underground Railroad for the 3 month museum show at the Biggs Museum of American Art in Dover, Delaware and I had the honour of being awarded the 2013 Established Fellow in Visual Arts/Folk Art by the State of Delaware... and so I thought... now is the time for a new direction.
I have been keeping myself busy working on my children's book - writing and illustrating it. I thought I would breeze through the process in short order....well, I was wrong. It takes way longer than I thought possible. I have decided during August I will do no other work than the book. Complete it and publish it in September. I can do this...but I suppose I could also end up saying, "well, that didn't work out timewise...." I also have a website, AnneJenkinsBooks, I have to build and publish in tandem with the books. 
I have some other ideas I am knocking around, still connected to the art world but not in the conventional painting and selling side. I loved it and had fun doing it for nearly 10 years, but new adventures call.
And I've always loved a new adventure.