Washington Calligrpahers Guils & Ghost Ranch - LONG

June 4 - 11

How lovely to be greeted with beautiful mauve tulips from my hosts for the Washington Calligraphers Guild, Mary Louise O’Brien & Anton Strunze. They live in the suburb of Gaithersburg,
Maryland. We had the best time and though Mary Louise thought she was not able to do the workshop with me due to work commitments she was prepared to host me. How lovely.  As it turned out she could do four days of the workshop. We were very happy about that.

So our lead in day and a half before teaching was spent visiting Arlington Cemetery which was very moving. I was particularly moved by the masses of white stone gravesite of armed services personnel and of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The changing of the Old Guard on the hour every hour was an interesting and solemn ceremony to watch. I also enjoyed visiting Arlington House.

The workshop.

Such was the Washington, Maryland, Virginia traffic. Chris Tischer would drive about 45 minutes to pick me up from Mary Lou’s house in Maryland to drive a further one and a half, sometimes two hours through traffic build-up to get to the venue in Vienna, Virginia. Crazy, but at least pleasurable conversation. When Mary Lou could join us we all travelled such each day to and fro our calligraphic compulsion.  How reassuring it was to be greeted by 12 very enthusiastic participants each day some who had also battled travel woes. The subject was versals and the students had come from far and wide: New York, Massachusetts, Philadelphia, the Washington District and closer to hand.

Student work

The five days went quickly and I found it a joy to teach my lovely group. A good understanding of the forms was had and the outcomes were superb. By the last day we all departed good friends. That evening to celebrate a super workshop Mary Lou, Anton and myself attended CrabFest at a farm in the area. I said my goodbyes the next morning when Mary Lou dropped me to the airport for my flights to Albuquerque via Dallas Fort Worth.

Flying: i don’t mind flying but what I object to is having cash in my purse and being asked to use a credit card only to purchase anything from the menu. So with all my flights I only did this once. What I really got very annoyed about was having to use my credit card in the Admirals Club when I wanted to purchase lunch on my long stay over between flights in Dallas Fort Worth. No cash taken. When I explained I had an extremely poor exchange rate to deal with and a conversion fee for foreign currency my Caesar Salad ended up costing me much more that I would normally pay. Again I had plenty of American dollars in my pocket.  I know, it’s a first world problem but notwithstanding it is ridiculous!

Rant over.

June 11 - 16

I arrived in the desert town of Albuquerque to be met by my friend the delightful Margie Disque. Margie took me on a tour of the town and I was immediately struck by the unique picturesque features of the New Mexico landscape and townscape. All of a sudden the low-lying bull-nosed  houses were constructed of adobe clay, a cross between a terracotta colour and potters pink, a strong feature of desert townships. It was an amazing eyeopener for me as I had never been into US desert country before. I immediately become excited by the vistas.  I stayed over with Margie and her husband John who cooked us a magnificent salmon salad dinner.

The next day Margie and I drove to Santa Fe to stop off to check out the shopping and to have some lunch. Santa Fe in turn was a new adventure for me.  More of Santa Fe to come but that time we were on our way to Ghost Ranch via Abiqiui and the home of one of the most famous American abstract artists, Georgia O’Keeffe.  The road taken between the two towns was awe inspiring with spectacular landscapes I had only ever seen in photographs. The abundance of mesa (flat-topped mountains pronounced may-sa) and rocky outcrops with vista changes around every corner. Descriptive words do not do the landscape justice. My senses were aroused and I was excited to be there.  Anticipation was mounting. My friend of many years now and the person responsible for being there, Sharon Zeugin was the first to greet us.

To write about Ghost Ranch will take some time.  As I type this it is the evening of day four of my five day versal workshop. Our classroom is a standalone low-lying building deep in the terracotta-pink New Mexican desert. Colours of the surrounding mesa, hills and rocks change at a minutes notice. The days are hot and the nights have been cool bar last night and tonight.  Most of the students have been coming to Ghost Ranch to take calligraphy & allied arts classes for many years. This year Sharon has been the coordinator of Literally Letters and Suzanne Moore and I are the tutors. I am thrilled to bits to be working alongside Suzanne who is an amazing artist and woman and of course, Sharon.

The labyrinth & mesa just outside my classroom.

The structure of Ghost Ranch classes are different to other workshops and conferences. We are contracted to teach in the morning only but I, like all tutors find ourselves back in the classroom after lunch and sometime after dinner. It is great to all be here together, there is a lot to be said for residential workshops, you meet such wonderful people and make lifelong friends. So the week progresses.

Adobe clay in Santa Fe.

Chimney Rock just by the Welcome Centre.

Georgia O'Keeffe cottage made of ... adobe clay!

 My art classroom for Literally Letters.

I love this motif.

After class though on Tuesday and as a treat for Sharon’s birthday, six of us drove deeper into the desert to Ojo Caliente mineral springs (translates to hot hole), to take to the hot iron & soda springs and mud baths. Well, I was unsure of the mud baths but as we were traveling with three women over eighty, Bonnie, Marie, and Rita who were excited about the mud, who was I to quibble. I loved it of course. There is a photo out there somewhere taken by Bonnie which I hope never surfaces. I wasn’t game to take my camera out there, A wonderful experience all over.

More on my Ghost Ranch experience the it comes to a close in a couple of days.

The entire electronic trip so far has crazy. WiFi is dicey and dodgy and my service provider the Australian Telstra/BigPond has restrictions on my mac mail program sending emails. I would change telco’s if I thought I would have better service elsewhere. I can answer emails on my phone which is somewhat problematic particularly in sending files that are on my computer - I simply can’t send them.  I am really only annoyed that I can’t see messages of thanks to people who have helped me so far on my trip. Those not hooked up with messenger & FaceBook.  I would like my thanks to be a little more personal. But, other than that I really don’t mind being cut off for a few weeks, how refreshing.  :-)


June 17 -

Santa Fe … again. Watch this space.

I am missing home ...


Sham Monk said…
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