Thursday, January 1, 2015

When Life Gives You Lemons

When life gives you lemons, say Aloha
6x8" oil on canvas panel Jan 1 2015

It's the first day of a new year, and the first day of the Thirty Paintings in Thirty Days challenge from painter Leslie Saeta. I'm in.
I am not sorry to see 2014 disappear into the fading twilight. It was a difficult year for me. My marriage of nearly 20 years ended; the slope of my father's dementia took a sharp turn toward darkness; and my best release seemed to vaporize, as I found myself uninspired and painting less and less, and less satisfied when I did paint.

As we launch into the new year, I'm hopeful that I can navigate these new shoals and find the lightness that exists, like when a flash of sunlight enters the ocean and illuminates the neon, rainbow-colored tropical fish against the dull hues of Hawaiian rocks and reefs.
Kapalua trail hike, north shore.

To celebrate the passing of 2014, my daughter and I spent the last week of the year on the island of Kauai. Braving what could have been the worst weather there, we were completely lucky to find plenty of sunshine and temperatures that were not too hot and not too cool (unless you're actually from Hawaii, in which case it was, according to some of the locals, "freezing").
We swam and snorkeled, ziplined, kayaked, hiked, flew off rope swings into chilly freshwater pools in old lava tubes, watched sunrises and sunsets, and cruised around the whole island in our convertible Mustang with "TOURIST" emblazoned on the side (not really, but it might as well have had), singing out loud to a private playlist. We saw rainbows, and more rainbows. We watched 5 straight hours of NCIS one night. We ate a lot of Kalua pork, BBQ ribs, and teriyaki beef (her) and fresh, fresh fish (ono, ahi, mahi mahi) and good local IPAs (me) and roughly 2 pounds of super sweet, fresh pineapple a day. It was a great way to end a not-so-great year.
National Tropical Botanical Garden

On our last day, we headed up to the Kilauea lighthouse and wildlife sanctuary for spectacular views toward Na Pali across the phthalo and turquoise waters of Hanalei Bay, along with some gorgeous bird spottings (red footed booby, nene, Hawaiian cardinal, albatross). By the time we reached the Hanalei pier a short while later, the winds picked up and within 10 minutes we were completely drenched, holding hands as we ran off the pier so we wouldn't get blown off the side (I should note that at 16, my daughter doesn't hold my hand very often, so this too was a treat). It was a fitting end to a perfect week on Kauai, even though we had to put the roof up on the Mustang. We saw a double rainbow and had lunch in a tin-roofed bistro, listening to the rain wail down in sheets.

Storm approaching across Hanalei Bay
So now we're back and it's cold here in Southern California (no, really! we had to put extra quilts and blankets on the beds last night, it was in the 30s! I'm about to light a fire in the woodstove). But we're ready to tackle the new year, and as proof, my first painting of the 30-day challenge: When life gives you lemons, say Aloha, which means many things (hello, goodbye, I love you) but is more the embodiment of the spirit of Hawaii. I hope to keep it in my heart all year.
With that in mind, I would like to say thank you to my friends and family who have provided me with so much love, patience, and support this past year. To you I say Aloha, and I am extremely grateful for you all. Bring on the new year, and keep an eye out for lots of new paintings.

Our final sunset in Kapa'a