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If I knew then what I know now… How many times have I said that?! There are so many experiences of childhood that were much more meaningful than I realized.

I grew up in Columbia, CA, a small historic mining town. I was a cheerleader in grammar school and had a great time. One of my friends was Cindy Surendorf, daughter to internationally acclaimed artist Charles Surendorf II. Charlie created art unlike anything I had ever seen (still). He did woodblock printing and later switched to using linoleum. I watched him from afar as he was a brusque man and I respected his creative space.

Cindy has spent her life keeping her father’s style of art alive by teaching and, most recently, by creating a foundation in memory of her father. http://www.surendorf2artfoundation.org/

This weekend I am attending “Woodblock Woodstock” to celebrate the work of Charlie. I am honored to be invited by Cindy and am really looking forward to looking at Charlie’s work with adult eyes.  As a child I thought Charlie’s art was too dark. By that I mean that it was mostly black with white, lacking in color. Some of  his art was confusing to me.

If I knew then what I know now… I would have worked up the courage to talk to Charlie and get to know him. I would have asked him about his art. I would have watched him working, not from a distance but up close. I would have purchased his work when it was affordable. (Each block was destroyed after 28 prints.) Yes, if I knew then…

But all is not lost. I have Cindy in my life and I can learn from her. I can buy some raffle tickets and possibly win Lode Lynching, a piece of Charlie’s art being auctioned this weekend (pictured below).

Traveling On

Meanwhile back in Stratford-On-Avon, we wandered the streets until we came upon a door.

It was the front door to the house where William Shakespeare was born in 1564. To tour this place that was built 400 years ago and had changed very little was beyond description. The bedroom contained a very old bed that was quite large and was made with ropes. There was a trundle-bed and some mattresses on the floor. Apparently all the children slept either in the same bed or the same room as the parents. The plank floors were warped and the stairs a little uneven but that was what I liked best.

 William attended school from the age of seven to fourteen when he and his brothers had to leave school because his father fell from favour. The school young Shakespeare attended is not only still standing, it is still being used as a school! I can only imagine how worn the floors must be. I wonder how many young men wandered the halls. The girls were not educated during Shakespearean times.

We had one more stop before leaving town. We went to the Holy Trinity Church were Shakespeare, his wife, daughter, and son-in-law are interred.

     

I was feeling a little forlorn when it was time to return to our coach. But as I walked back to coach parking I had a strong reminder that I was far from home in a foreign country.  “We aren’t in Kansas anymore…” I murmured to myself.

Shakespeare Country

Being at the abbey brings back the feeling of being in another time. I am so blessed to have mastered “just being” while traveling through the UK last summer. It was so easy for me to imagine the 16th century while in Shakespeare Country.  Our first stop was at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. (That would be the Anne Hathaway who married Shakespeare. She was an older woman, a cougar in today’s terms.) I was amazed to realized that Anne’s cottage was an image I had seen on a china plate somewhere.

Everything about the cottage was charming. ..from the windows to the garden gate…to the profusion of flowers and scents that exploded into the English garden. 

 

 There was a gazebo made of willow with the words of Shakespeare coming from a hidden speaker. The gnarled trees in the orchard seemed to have their own language.

I can still feel the peace and feel the inspiration of long ago. How could anyone live in such a glorious place and not be inspired?

Lemuria or Bust!

It is time to return to those places that bring me the most peace…to the places that bring me home to myself. So I grab my bag that is always packed and take off spontaneously for Lemuria. I have no particular place in mind other than Lemuria so it’s a crap shoot where I’ll end up as I hold the walnut shell in my hand ready for transport.

The universe decides I will visit the abbey to start. Makes sense. I am on the grounds at the oldest part of the abbey. It is a wall that stands alone in the garden. I follow the wall until I come to one end. A bench has been strategically placed there and I sit for some reflection time. I clear my mind until completely empty as the Tibetan monks have taught me making way for anything the universe has to offer. What is the message for today?

“Just be. No matter where you are or what you are doing, allow yourself to just be. This is how every adventure must begin.”

Fall Has Fallen

 

©Sally A. Knornschild 2011

Fall has definitely fallen…

It’s mid-Winter now…

Even though it feels like Spring…

It’s hot Summer to follow…

Dragonfly Day

I could feel it coming upon me but there wasn’t a single thing I could do about it. Wakefulness was pulling on my eyelids and prodding my brain. I was wondering if everyone was able to feel this content. You know…You find that perfect position in bed, the head finds that perfect place on the pillow. I sigh as I give thanks for the perfect night of sleep and strange dreams of flying clothes and purple water.

I stretch my body from head to foot and smile as though I’ve never been happier. I have, but not for a long time. I rise from my plush bed and sit up running my fingers through my hair. I stand up and walk to the window seat before I realize I have no nightwear on my body. Oh, well. What does it matter when there is no one to see?

I touch the window and notice that the cold on the other side of the pane did not penetrate the room. The sun had not yet pulled itself up the backside of the mountain. Its bright light lays upon the uneven silhouette of the forest like a halo. I eagerly await that moment when the sun will crest. The changing colors paint the early morning sky. It is already a magnificent day! I feel such gratitude for the honor of witnessing the magnificence of such an ordinary, every day event.

©Sally A. Knornschild 2010

I turn back toward the center of the room and my heart lurches at the sight of my bed. It’s always been my dream to sleep in a bed like this. Whoa! A sudden splash of a hundred rainbows fill the room. I don’t know how much more perfection I can take in one day but I drink it up nevertheless. More gratitude. Then it hits me…This is no ordinary room. It is magical. Regardless of whether last nights events are true, I know this room is magic as it has captured the perfection of the sunrise.

I enter the bathroom and notice the faucet in the sink turn on without any help from me. Alrighty then! Those weren’t dreams last night. I bet the water temperature is not too hot nor too cold, just perfect. And this morning, the color of the water matches the sunrise.

As I do my morning ritual without applying spackle and putty on my face, I wonder what the day has in store for me. I smile as I catch my eye in the mirror and decide that even without makeup, I look pretty damn good for being 54. I wink as my eye in the mirror winks back.

“Yep…magical room,” I murmur to myself when I see my clothes already laid out and the bed made. I think I’m going to like not having to bother with those bothersome menial tasks. The excitement of awakening in such a magnificent manner has the day pulling at me. I grab my jacket and camera as my stomach growls. “Food! Feed me, Seymore!” I think of the gigantic flower in “The Little Shop of Horror” Just as I am about to close the door behind me, I hear a thump and shuffling in the closet. Oh, yeah. I really must look in that closet…later!

My hunger sated by nourishment I consider returning to the room to grab my journal and paints. But before I can finish the thought, there they lie upon the table. Guess the room isn’t the only thing that’s magical at Riversleigh Manor!

As I step out to the covered walkway I  survey the garden before me. There was frost last night but the morning sun has turned the frost to water droplets. My foot stops before making contact with the pavers. I see a dragonfly laying feet up. I pick it up thinking it froze to death when I see one foot moving. A leaf on the bush just outside the door beckons with sunlight and the promise of warmth. I place the dragonfly in the sun and continue my walk to the edge of the deck.  The autumn colors are ablaze as far as I can see towards the forest. A gasp escapes my lips. Once again the beauty of this place and this day slam into me, filling every nook and dark crevice of my heart.

©Sally A. Knornschild 2010

My camera clicks away as I compose each frame hoping to capture the full effect of fall in this part of the world. I can’t stop looking at the array of oranges and shades of pink and yellow. How could anyone pass this sight and not be amazed by nature in all her glory?

The dragonfly buzzes in my brain. I look at her closely and see drops of dew on her transparent wings. My hand reaches out to her and I nudge her into my palm. I feel the energy in my hands turn on and I cup the other hand over her so she is encased by warmth. I giggle as I feel her wings begin to flutter. They flutter so fast that I wonder if she is in neutral or if she will fly when I open my hands. A minute or two later I open my hands. She is not ready to go yet and I think of hummingbirds as I watch her beating wings.

©Sally A. Knornschild 2010

What a wonderous feeling…to have a dragonfly in the palm of my hand as her wings beat themselves into a blur. They pump energy into her body, and rids her of water droplets. She stops for a moment, shakes her tail, then flies towards the colors of autumn.

Retreating to Riversleigh

I had been hearing about this place for years, but it was my friend, Lori, that finally persuaded me to indulge myself through a retreat at Riversleigh. I was told at check-in that I would be occupying the southwestern turret in a room recently vacated. “Just leave your bags. They will be taken to your room.” They were; however, I couldn’t figure out how they beat me up there. Perhaps there was another elevator.

I marveled at the third floor view as  I sat on the plush window seat and gazed out of the rounded bank of windows. I could see the a bit of the mountains to the east as well as the magnificence of the of the ocean below. This manor house really did have it all. The valley sprawled beyond the waterway to the west and I could see the city lights coming on and twinkling in the dusky distance. How very lucky I was to have this place of solace with a 270 degree view of the world!

The room was lushly furnished with a huge poster bed where I could cocoon myself by closing the curtains hanging from the top.  There was a chandelier above with naturally formed crystals and amethysts. I could only imagine how spectacular the room would be when the morning sun spilled light through the crystals. I now understood why this was called the Rainbow Suite. I couldn’t wait until morning to see the shimmering rainbows that I knew would grace the entire room.

Draped burgundy velvet gathered at the center formed the bed’s canopy.  I threw myself on the bed sinking into the luxurious satin covered duvet. Mmmmmm! I had never slept in a bed that engulfed me with invisible arms against a soft, fluffy mattress. It was that nurturing “being held against mother’s breast” kind of thing.  There was absolutely no doubt in my mind that the 16 hour flight to this part of Mother Earth was well worth it! (Hee! Mother Earth, mother’s breast. How clever!)  Sleep was already threatening to overtake me. I was all too aware that I must unpack before I could crawl into the sumptuous bed for some recuperation.  I sometimes resent the reality of traveling when it comes to getting settled.

As I was about to leave my sanctuary the chandelier abruptly dimmed and the energy in the room moved up a notch in vibration. I watched with great curiosity as my luggage opened by its own accord. The drawers in the marble-topped bureau opened and I giggled as my bags unpacked themselves before my eyes. Skirts, blouses, shorts, jeans, bathing suit, and dresses filled the bureau and the wardrobe I hadn’t noticed. (Strange there was a wardrobe when I was sure that was a closet  near the bed.) My carry-on also unpacked and the path of my art and writing paraphernalia led my eye to the curved antique desk that sat under the rounded bank of windows opposite the bed. The the window seat was to the left of the desk and a full size easel to the right. The curved desk had an ample surface made of glass with cubby holes, drawers and cupboards galour below. The glass made it a perfect place for making art.  Holy crap! Cross off the “have a romantic, sequestered bedroom with lots of windows, window seat, breathtaking views, space for art, fabulous mansion bed” off my bucket list! To think that this room was mine as long as I needed… no…wanted.

The sound of running water dre my attention to the en-suite bath. Jumping off the bed my feet met the soft Persian rug that covered the hardwood floor. The flooring changed to warm tile as I entered the bathroom where I spied a long, deep, claw-footed bathtub with a gentle slope at one end. The tub was filling with lavender colored water that somehow glowed, reflecting off the walls, ceiling, and window much like a swimming pool reflecting light.

Never one to question the magic in life, I immediately divested myself of the clothing I had worn forever and a day. Thick towels were on a warming rack, a selection of bath accessories filled the low shelf above the tub. Hmmmm…No need for bath salts. The water smelled of lavender and vanilla. Choosing a long-handled brush, I ran the bristles along my arms, legs, and body. Funny… I hadn’t thought to dry brush my skin in years. After five minutes of vigorous brushing I dipped one foot then the other into the lavender water. The temperature was not too hot, not too cold, but perfectly blissful. My body sank into the water as my soul sighed in complete rapture. Yep, I was definitely NOT going to do hard time here!

If not for the possibility of drowning I was sure that I could sleep right here. I reminded myself that I could luxuriate in the tub any darn time I wanted between now and whenever. The bath sheet slipped from the heated rack and  wrapped around my body. The towel was as softer that I imagined possible and my idea of pampering was suddenly inadequate. I was spoiled for life.  And here I had thought life had lost its magic. Silly girl! Ignoring the nightgown folded on the bottom of the bed, I climbed into the bed and was asleep before the bath towel hit the floor…if it even did… My last thought was to remind myself that I really needed to check out that closet.