A Portrait of the Artist

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”— John Muir

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Just a few more days left of school.  A few days of finals at the high school for Maki and then he’ll be off to New Zealand.  Justine just celebrated her official sixth birthday on Friday and will be a flower girl for the first time next weekend. It suddenly feels like there is a lot going on. What better way to deal with all of that than to run away together for a couple of days?

Actually it wasn’t just us…Maki’s “village” came too. That’s what I call Chris Adams and Scott and Sarah Hendrix, three friends in particular who have gone out of their way to take him to the climbing gym, movies, meals out, and even math study sessions. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I know Maki and I both appreciate it.



Since they all love climbing, we based ourselves in the mountain town of  Idyllwild, about a two hour drive. It worked out great. We rented a four bedroom airbnb cabin and the four of them took off to climb big boulders while I mostly stayed behind to watch Justine and Chris’ son, Zephyr, her dear buddy. So I didn’t get any climbing photos this time, but I did follow the littles around as they explored the woods nearby.

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Kids in the forest? Muses in magic! Of course I was happy  just following them around with my camera. We also went into town and bought  ice cream and I let them play Angry Birds inside while I took a little time to paint on the deck. It was win win for all. Later in the day, we all joined together for food and I got my break to take walks alone. Later still, the gang would watch rock climbing movies projected on a white sheet taped high on the cabin wall.  It was perfect, something for everyone…all at the same time.

Here’s a local from one of the few shops (and something from his collection). Worth the trip in itself.

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I am getting in a pretty good habit of packing art supplies whenever I go away (at least by car) and so I forced myself to paint/draw a pinecone—they were everywhere. Not an easy task, as it turned out. My mind struggled so much to figure out the layers and remember where I’d left off…it was almost painful.



But I pressed on, because I thought about Vernon, and all the exercises we set for him, artistically and otherwise, hoping to that his brain will make new connections. He’s a natural, obviously, but look how hard it is to rise above when you don’t trust what you already have in you…somewhere.  But what if we all are—naturals, I mean—underneath our stubborn brains that can’t translate what is right in front of us because it just seems too intricate and impossible. What if we can do anything if we just keep working on it?


I got lost (and frustrated) somewhere in there, but it was a good mind exercise. Hopefully, it grew a little. I know my soul did.


So…now we are back down the mountain, already started on our last busy week as a threesome, energized and refreshed. Thanks, kids. Thanks, Village. Thanks, Woods. Thanks, God.








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A Portrait of the Artist