Self-Imposed Sabbatical

Eighteen months ago we moved back to Mahone Bay to live in a small house in town. For the first time in our eleven year relationship, Pamela was busy outside the house, teaching dance and organizing a theatre company and a new documentary festival in Lunenburg. For most of our relationship we have lived, worked, played, and traveled together every day. With Pamela out most of each week I spent my time in solitude and silence, and grew to enjoy this time of retreat. An occasional walk to the Biscuit Eater for society was enough. I began jogging earlier in the year while living in Blue Rocks and this solitary pursuit gave me much time for reflection. As the metronome played through my headset to guide my pace while running, my mind was free to wander around the chambers of my memory palace. Soon the routine divided the days into separate activities like a monk’s Hours or the sailor’s bells: run, bath, eat, sit in meditation, write, work, lunch, read, write, walk, dinner, eat, movie, read, sleep, and repeat.

In 2013 I ran almost 900km (5k, 10k, and half marathon) and it stopped almost as quickly as it started. Like many things im my life, the interest faded after having been an obsession for a period. The first six months in Mahone Bay changed me and I drew away from others and activities, closed down my website to a landing page and contact form, cancelled all social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and stepped out of all orgainzations and activites to focus on an essential few and my self-imposed sabbatical.

Reading, once again became a joyful expectation, as I re-read many treasured volumes from Márquez, McEwan, McCarthy, Maclean, Banville, Irving. O’Brian, Cather, Fraizer, Erdich, Robinson, and Booth, in addition to new discoveries like Richardson, Morgenstern, Sjon, and DeWitt. Poetry was an easy carry on a walk, so Basho, Thurston, Cooper, Oliver, Gluck, and Leslie accompanied me in my wanderings. A class at the Senior College of Nova Scotia (SCANS) reinvigored my interest in Shakespeare. The dance of words, well placed upon the page, captured my imagination and was only surpassed by images simply expressed in line and color. From Rembrant’s drawing to Peter Scully’s urban sketches, they capture a moment that, unlike a photograph, suspends the image into still life. A drawing embraces a decisive moment but also draws you in from a recent past and carries you forward a step into the future. Like a tarot card that looks back to the image on the left and forward to the other on the right, art allows the imagination to steer its own course rather then a specific path set down by the narrative pen.

Meditation calmed the raging torrent within me, as a mind on fire began to cool in the calmer waters of a tidal pool. Without distraction or excuse, I had to take responsibily for the consequences of my life. As Byron Katie says, what is, is. Gratitude was easier than contentment, for the latter seemed like giving into resolution and giving up on desire. And I was all about desire. Want it, get it, that was my credo. What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve. But should it? I can conceive and believe in a lot of things that I really do not need or want in hindsight. So a reexamination was required. How simply one can live lead to a purge of books, clothes, and things. Not everything, there is still way too much stuff in my life. Some is sentimental, some involved too great an investment to just pass on casually. Is the question really, how simply can one live? Some may say yes, but there is a gnawing (that may be the problem, what is is) at the back of my head that wonders whether there is another question that needs answering. Then I sit and realize there is no question that needs to be answered. Only to live and experience life in kindness and gratitude. Now I am back to taking responsibilty for my life. Kindness eliminated the problem with contentment and I have much to make me grateful.

Durango Friends of the Arts

durango-090514-0058 While biking along the Animas River Trail we show a collection of easels with plein air oil paintings. So we had to stop. It was a meeting of the Durango Friends of the Arts and we were invited to stay for the Plein Air presentation.


Jane Mercer and her mentor Karl Brenner gave a short presentation of plein air painting after the regular meeting.


Jane kindly showed me her workshop notebook where she includes photographs, notes, and palette examples with mixing notes.


This was a great idea I will have to incorporate into my next workshop, thank you Jane; -L

Hopper at Harwood

May 9, 2009 As part of the Taos "Summer of Love", Dennis Hopper curates an exhibition at Harwood Museum of Art on the  40th anniversary of "Easy Rider", a landmark counterculture film that explores the social landscape of the 1960s. The artists: Larry Bell, Ron Cooper, Ronald Davis, Ken Price And Robert Dean Stockwell and, of course, Hopper.


Larry Bell:


Lloyd peruses Dennis Hopper's paintings and mixed media pieces (one includes three antique mannequin heads):


Dennis Hopper:


The Hopper at Harwood exhibit continues to September 20, 2009 and the Summer of Love continues through September with a calendar full of art, music, dance and film.


Heartbeats in a Drum

May 8, 2009 Taos Arts & Crafts Fair at Kit Carson Park.

We couldn't resist the pottery so came home with two soup mugs, a garlic keeper, a wee pitcher, and what we're calling "the partridge" a little rotund pourer originally designed for soya sauce, but which might suit olive oil - we now admit we bought it as much for its cuteness than its function. We did, however, resist the jewelry, indian arts, clothing and much more.

The resounding experience, however, was meeting Lynn of Sweet Medicine Drums. She told us the story of the drummed heart beat, how we are all tuned into that sound since the womb, how the heartbeat has healing power - it prompts us to grow. She says we have an inherent need for rhythm in our lives.

Research is underway to explore how drummed rhythms can change brainwave patterns and reduce stress. Also, drumming is now part of treatment for some Alzheimers patients as well as autistic children, the emotionally disturbed and even employees of large corporations (I think the last two go together more than we think) to improve focus and morale.


Lynn learned her drumming ways from an old Hopi medicine woman and personally knows two people who came out of comas during drumming.

Notable: Lynn implored us to spend some time at Ojo Caliente Springs. That was the third, unprompted suggestion within 24 hours where someone suggested we go there - a fourth, unprompted mention followed within the hour. A definition of rhythm: a strong, regular, repeated pattern of movement or sound. Makes me wonder...

We later kept time with the rhythms of Julian Priester, Larry Vuckovich, John Heard, Hadley Caliman, and Eddie Marshall at The Legends of Jazz concert at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort & Spa.


Ed Sandoval, Zorro and Stallions

May 7, 2009 We had no idea, when we wandered down this little lane, that we would meet baby chicks, a stallion and a big-hearted, sometimes-Zorro, serious tango dancer, renaissance man.


Ed Sandoval is a renowned artist within New Mexico who concentrates on local landscape and life: vistas, valleys, trees, and common sights of people living every day life - all in bold strokes.

Ed, his Old Man (a recurring image in Ed's paintings and sculptures), a truck in shambles (opposite a gleaming, red mercedes convertible offscreen), and some of his Taos ranch - home to his horses including an Arabian named El Patron that he sometimes rides to breakfast in town:


Ed's paintings seem to glow. He starts with a dark red-orange undercoat - the images seem to flicker with life.



After a private tour of the studio, which included meeting four baby chicks under a warming lamp, Ed led us through a back door. It opened to a straw-strewn stall for his one year old stallion. We followed along, down the back drive, across the road, through a fence and met the beauty.

It takes no imagination at all to picture Ed as a dashing Zorro, a character he puts on from time to time. His sweet, black, yearling stallion with a lightening mark on his forehead will be the perfect mount...

Please check out the website Studio de Colores , the studio showcasing Ed's work and that of Ann Huston, his wife, who works in pastels.


Taos Art Museum and Fechin House

May 6, 2009 The Taos Art Museum fills the old studio and house built by Nicolai Fechin in the late 1920s and early 30s. "Born in Russia, Fechin is one of the most important portrait painters of the 20th Century. His paintings of Native Americans and of the New Mexico desert landscape are considered among his best works."


The building itself is a grand mix of Russian, Native American and Spanish architecture and symbolism.


An example of the intricate carving in a pilar:


About 50 Taos artists are represented in the museum along with with Fechin's works.


The room below, our favourite perhaps, served as a playroom for Fechin's daughter.



Blumenschein Home and Museum

May 6, 2009 We toured the Blumenschein Home and Museum by chance.


Technically, the museum was closed for renovations, but we happened by as an elderhostel group appeared for a private tour. We were invited to tag along.


In this case I think we admired the fireplaces more than the art collection:



Ernest Blumenschein and friend Bert Phillips were on a sketching trip in 1898 from Denver to north Mexico when the wheel of their surrey broke on a mountain road just north of Taos. During the delay they became enchanted by the local landscape and culture. Blumenschein returned to Taos with his wife and daughter in 1919 and bought this 1797 building. Mrs. Blumenschein was an artist in her own right and the family's art hangs on every wall.

The painting studio set up that Lloyd admired:



Keep Bisbee Weird

Bisbee, Arizona February 25 - March 1, 2009

You can buy shirts with the motto "Keep Bisbee Weird". I didn't see it, at first.


Bisbee climbs the hillsides of southern Arizona's Mule Mountains and has grown into an artist colony "known for its relaxed quality of life".


Old West history, Victorian structures and old, refurbished mining shacks stand alongside the Queen Mines copper mine.


We had a sweeping view of all from our campground, Queen Mines RV Park.


The town steeps in the waft of roasting coffee beans. The best brew can be found at Bisbee Coffee Co. You can watch the roasting process via a monitor in the cafe. The cranberry orange scones are scrumptious!


Mata Ortiz pottery - intricate and stunning.


One of several colourful streets.


Panama hats, which are actually from Ecuador. Hat makers strip the straw from palmetto fronds. A fine straw hat takes about two months to make and costs about $2,500.


A sidewalk painter in front of one of many galleries. We explored them all.


Bottle cap art


Art off the beaten path:


I can't forget to mention Atalanta's Music & Books. Not only is it the place for books in Bisbee, but they also sell hemp products at the most reasonable prices -- I left with three bags, two belts, no books.

In the evening we sampled live music at Stock Exchange Saloon in The Brewery building, which houses a New York Stock Exchange board, "... the only board ever used and affiliated by the NYSE in Arizona." More than 80 years later the names of the listed companies from the 1960s remain. We tried the Electric Beer, brewed locally, and like the lager the best.

Stock Exchange Saloon is a mecca for characters with character. The bartender, Dawn, hasn't cut her hair since the Vietnam War. And the dancers? That night's troupe: a few-toothed rowdy woman in an Indian leather jacket; a grooving Gramma with floral vest, turtleneck and earplugs; a jumpy, braided, long-skirted, moccasin clad hippy; an obese chihuahua (seriously); a Spanish woman swishing hips and soaring arms in showtune style, and that's not all.

Shannon, a self-professed "She-male" (usually a derogatory term) who can no longer hide evidence of a year of hormone therapy, plans to "change the plumbing in Colorado." He says Bisbee is, "half gay," and also, "This is the Key West in the West." In male-mode he impersonates Sinatra. "And after your transformation?" I asked. "Streisand." Naturally. Meanwhile, I became an unwitting audience to  "TTT", Shannon's alter ego, "Tanya the Transsexual".

Keep Bisbee weird. We can't imagine it any other way.


Tubac, AZ

February 8, 2009 We made a beeline for Tubac from Casa Grande on the last day of the Tubac Festival of the Arts.

"The Art Colony of Tubac was established in 1752 as a Spanish presidio (fort)." Tiny Tubac (pop. ~1,200) claims Arizona's longest running art festival. This year's 50th anniversary event hosted about 170 artists, crafts persons and musicians.

Lloyd charging his internal GPS:


White kiosks shelter artists and their works from the rain and wind. They line the village streets, mingling with about a hundred resident galleries, restaurants and shops.


We played around in the sculpture garden.


But we didn't party down like this guy:


Lloyd takes notes from the master? Yes, that's Monet.


Lloyd looking for inspiration, something to incorporate into his own paintings perhaps.


It was cold enough for gloves. That's the skeleton of a saguaro cactus to our right, by the way. Locals find all sorts or things to do with the remains: fences, furniture, landscaping features, art, etc.


Silversmithing artisans:


Here's an idea for those old boots you hate to throw out - make them into birdhouses.


And for your scrap metal? Make art: flowers, frog mariachi bands, ...