Doing Well Here

Tis strange to think that I have been here for almost a month. Summer has always moved strangely for me. Every day seems long and labor intensive, only to suddenly find myself at the end of a week wondering how it snuck past me. In this month, I have painted an entire set (and not a simple color and a wash so please you), explored glorious places, and made connections with people whom I can only call it  blessing to know. Helena (formerly known as Lady Twin, but Helena suits her much better) and I were down by the waterfront this evening, chatting about books as the wind blew incessantly across the water. I knitted away happily as we talked and I could only languish in how happy I truly am right now. Not the happiness that is characteristic of  the circumstances of the moment, but rather truly well. True wellness is a strong desire of mine, something that comes from a well of joy that lives in the heart regardless of what life offers. There is a hymn called “It is Well With my Soul.” A song penned in the 1800’s by someone who had been hit with immense tragedy, the piece still captures the core of what I strive to achieve in the pursuit of this life. Particularly, the first verse:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,a
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

*a Often this lyric is “say” rather than “know,” but I rather appreciate this version.

Whether I be at peace as I was this evening, or frazzled by the various tasks thrown at me in a given day, or truly aching from pain that attacks me from past loss, I fight to maintain the wellness of my soul. It is days such as I have been having, surrounded by glorious natural beauty, engaging work, and genuine people that remind me why I have such joy. Such things I am blessed with, and I can never thank Him enough for those things. It is, indeed, well with my soul.

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New Friends!

Tis been a while since I posted mainly because this past week was a bucket of insanity that I did not anticipate. The rest of the summer staff arrived in the shop, including my assistant who will henceforth be known as Columbia. Turns out Columbia is not exactly what I was ready for in an assistant, but I am determined to approach this development with a positive attitude (mainly because a crappy disposition is generally less fun and does not get the work accomplished any more efficiently.) I was also faced with an intense painting project that required a great deal of focus and precision…and then multiply that project threefold. There was much staying late and hand cramping involved. However, I am really very happy because I have discovered some wondrous new friends. The two ladies of whom I am particularly fond are BearGirl and Lady Twin. BearGirl earns her name because of her dogged determination to see a bear this summer and Lady Twin is basically exactly like me only not. Together, we had many adventures, including a three mile hike through the Dunes where I went nuts over various wildflowers and we startled a young deer still in its spotted glory. Lady Twin has been keeping me sane on my various late nights and we sat out yesterday evening, enjoying the giant moon over the waterfront. While the crew I have been working with has been lovely, most already had established relationships with each other due to years of bonding. Thus, it’s nice for me to have a few people who are also new and are eager to establish new connections. We work hard, we take care of each other, and we have a damn good time being total sarcastic jerks when the situation calls for it (or not, let’s be honest). Life is brilliant.

Outakes (“The Most Beautiful Place in America”)

Today was a wild and breathless experience. Before I give you the specifics (or the obvious pictures), I want you to start by being there with me. First, the wind. Feel the wind as a constant presence, demanding attention, yet also teasing joyfully in such a way that inspires delight instead of vexation. Next, the sound of grass. It’s long, thin, and makes only the barest of hissssssss as the insistent wind bends it in waves of light and green shadows. Finally, the sand. Squish your bare toes into a sand that is softer than you would have thought possible for such a thing. Now, climb.

My first view of the Dunes

My first view of the Dunes

Today I went to the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lake Shore. On my huge laundry list of things that my coworkers insisted I “must” do before leaving this area, the Dunes were one of the things that everyone emphatically agreed upon as something that must be near the top of the pile. While I am waiting for Handsome’s visit to do a portion of that list, I realized that he is forever going on fabulous adventures initially without me, only to take me at a later date. With a most glorious day at my disposal, I decided to go pre-explore this place. Supposedly, the Dunes had been featured on Good Morning America as one of  “the most beautiful places in America.” Armed with vague directions and excitement, I went to the park. I must say in all seriousness my expectations were completely fulfilled and I only did a small portion of what the park has to offer. I did the Dune Climb.

Looking down during the climb

Looking down during the climb

The highest dune within "easy" walking distance

The highest dune within “easy” walking distance

I don’t know if anyone reading this has ever had the experience of climbing a monstrous dune. You may have done some pretty hefty sand piles at the beach, but this is a climb that is utterly and immediately exhausting. The dunes are around 110 feet high, which doesn’t sound like much, but that assumption is quickly lost as your calves gain a whole slew of burning sensations. I get short of breath on occasion and this was certainly a trial for me, but making it to the various summits had a most rich reward for my difficulties.

I believe this is Glen Lake, a small inland lake created by dammed sediment.

I believe this is Glen Lake, a small inland lake created by dammed sediment.

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This view is actually looking over Lake Michigan I believe

This view is actually looking over Lake Michigan I believe

The only clouds in the sky

The only clouds in the sky

A glimpse of the lake waters

A glimpse of the lake waters

Aside from the views that, quite literally, stole my breath, the final enchantment on this journey was the wildflowers 🙂

A simple shot, but I liked it

A simple shot, but I liked it

I believe these are called Bladder Campion, which I personally think is a terrible name for a flower, but clearly I'm not in charge of such things.

I believe these are called Bladder Campion, which I personally think is a terrible name for a flower, but clearly I’m not in charge of such things.

And for my favorite of the flowers I saw...

And for my favorite of the flowers I saw…

...Beach Peas :)

…Beach Peas 🙂

I cannot wait to go back and explore the other nooks and crannies of this fabulous place. I will be sure to bring back more pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Outakes (Interlochen State Park)

On Sunday I visited Interlochen State Park. While the park was more of well kept campground, I still enjoyed walking about and taking some pictures of various natural lovelies.

I walked along the nature trail in the park. The whole walk was riddled with pine trees and the scent was most intoxicating. I was immediately cooled by this scent, seeing as I associate such a smell with Christmas and snowy forests. A very simple trail, but I enjoyed it immensely.

This is a snag that had been struck by lightening and thus was rent apart for all to see.

This is a snag that had been struck by lightening and thus was rent apart for all to see.

A shot of the upper innards of the snag.

A shot of the upper innards of the snag.

Aside from the plant life, I encountered some simple critters. Though common enough I do wish to share their sweetness here.

I know they are pesky, but I must admit that I dearly love chipmunks.

I know they are pesky, but I must admit that I dearly love chipmunks.

I mean, come on,  look at that face!

I mean, come on, look at that face!

Apparently they are common, but this is the first place where I have seen a black squirrel.

Apparently they are common, but this is the first place where I have seen a black squirrel.

Finally, for the cutest critter of the day…

 

 

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My first week

As of Sunday, I have officially been here for a week. Thus, today was the beginning of my second week of working at the Camp. Right now I am painting for the Shakespeare Festival, specifically for the play Hamlet. Though I am tempted to post pictures of the progress, I feel honor bound not to post any pictures until the show itself has opened. Suffice it to say that the entirety of my work thus far has been painting a checkerboard marble floor. Tis quite good looking if I do say so myself. The only thing that challenges me at this point is the sheer enormity of the work. For the shows that  happen during the summer camp, I will be blessed with an assistant as well as some students who will be on hand. However, for this production I am completely on my own when it comes to the paintwork. My coworkers have been super awesome about lending a hand when they can, but they have their own tasks and the actual marbling is a treatment that I created; thus, it is important that I do that work so there is consistency throughout the set. The set needs to start going into the space on Wednesday, so I am feeling a little pressed for time, but I am confident that I will accomplish the task at hand (albeit with a little frantic paint slinging). Today the actors arrived and I had a lovely time chatting with them over dinner. I am still loving this place. The work that I am doing is engaging me as well as challenging me to be confident in the talents I have been blessed with cultivating. The people I work with are easy to get along with and they have the added advantage of being great in the workplace. (*Sometimes people can be easy-going until you discover that working with them is less than lovely. My coworkers are thus far not falling into that category). I work six days a week and with my one day off I am determined to explore this fascinating region. I asked my colleagues about what I should do with my time here and I must admit that my hand cramped with writing everything that was suggested. A portion will definitely wait until Handsome arrives, but I am most excited to do other things on the list in my own capacity. Yesterday was my first day off and I used it to go to Interlochen State Park (within walking distance). Although the park was mainly a campground, I did have a lovely time as is evidenced by the Outakes that I am about to create.

Outakes (Camp Tour)

The following are merely a collection of images that capture things that I find beautiful about my current location. I didn’t take any shots of the shop I work in, or the dining hall where I have been taking my meals. Still, I think you’ll get the idea.

Although I don't live in one, I do very much enjoy all the cabins scattered about the campus.

Although I don’t live in one, I do very much enjoy all the cabins scattered about the campus.

I have a thing for all the trees around here, sue me.

A shot of one of the auditoriums. I will not be painting anything that goes in here, but the space looked so stunning from this angle.

A shot of one of the auditoriums. I will not be painting anything that goes in here, but the space looked so stunning from this angle.

Yes, of course I found the geese (and their fluffy little adolescent goslings).

Yes, of course I found the geese (and their fluffy little adolescent goslings).

Felt like I was flying just by looking at this.

Felt like I was flying just by looking at this.

I could definitely get used to this :)

I could definitely get used to this 🙂