Tag Archives: gratitude

My Child Is A Grass Hugger

Tree hugging runs in the family. It’s in our blood, but grass hugging? That’s a whole new thing for the latest generation. Tiny-Small is a grass hugger. Literally. I think it’s because she rarely sees grass. To her it’s a plant on the verge of extinction and when she finally gets her feet in it and her arms around it she is pretty happy.

For some reason her grass loving ways just seem so foreign to me, but I grew up on the East coast where grass is plentiful. So plentiful in fact I barely spent much time appreciating it while I was there. I mean, grass was a dime a dozen. I spent entire summers barefoot and running through it without a care in the world. I mean, I never thought one day there would be no grass.

Then, I moved to New Mexico where grass is a hot commodity. I mean, people try to grow it, but then they have outrageous water bills and all of the guilt that goes with not accepting a naturally landscaped lawn. Water is a precious resource here. People tend to go the native grasses route and invest their time in creating rock gardens instead. Because it’s easier, less expensive, and let’s face it…the critters eat everything anyway.

My Child Is a Grass Hugger In brown New Mexico.
Subtle shades of brown with spots of green.

Tiny-Small lives in an environment that has intricate shades of brown and sometimes spots of green. The trees surrounding her on a daily basis are more like giant bushes carved to look like trees. The grass is mostly brown too, unless we have a lot of rain and then it turns a little green, but not like the green you encounter in places where rain comes in abundance.

Luckily, we live near some National Forest where there are tall pine trees and sometimes luscious cotton wood trees. We took her there a few days ago to go on a hike. The tall trees create a canopy and grass grows near the streams. When we hiked down a hill and found ourselves next to a stream Tiny-Small started yelling, “Grass! I love grass!” Then she threw herself right on the ground and rolled around hugging it to her chest. It was long grass. It wound around her like a grass skirt.

My Child Is A Grass Hugger (Life In New Mexico)
New Mexico has some green too. You just have to go looking for it.

I sometimes worry that she is missing out on all of the wonderful things from my childhood…grass, fresh seafood, the beach, humidity (well, that might be pushing it), but lately I’ve started realizing that she is going to have her own childhood. It’s going to be filled with rocks and lizards and snakes and mountains…and the biggest blue sky in the whole wide world. Not to mention enchiladas (red or green?) and home-made tortillas.

We aren’t going to share the exact same childhood. Which sometimes feels a little strange, but she isn’t going to long for the same things I do (like Mystic Seaport and strawberry picking) when she grows up. She’s going to have an entire different version of “home” than I do. She’s a New Mexican, desert girl. Grass is always going to be something special because it’s so rare, but she will probably never long for humidity or the drastic changes in seasons. She won’t really miss snow and will probably find the idea of shoveling your car out to go to work each morning a major crisis she wants no part of. She won’t miss the beach and dream of falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing. She’ll be missing the howling of coyotes and seeing mountain lions cross the road on her way home at night.

My Child Is A Grass Hugger (life in New Mexico)
Pretending to fish.

I am just grateful I get to be a part of the making of her childhood memories. I’m also grateful that I have a little person in my life to remind me to stop and enjoy the little things. Like soft, green grass. I never appreciated it as much as I should have. Watching her enjoy it so much makes me realize it’s often the things we take for granted that really mean the most to us. I am becoming a grass hugger myself.

Also, I think we often idealize our childhoods and the place we come from. I know Jim thinks California is the cats meow and don’t even get me started on the debates we have had over which coast is superior. I, of course, prefer the East and he will always prefer the West. it’s just what we grew up with and what we miss. When we go back to our hometowns now we are almost always a bit disappointed. Things aren’t the same. That old saying “you can never go back” is true. The real lesson I am learning through all of this is that we all have our own memories. Before long, Tiny-Small will be old enough to join our debate. I am pretty sure she will be arguing that New Mexico is the best place to live and far superior to either coast. She’ll have a good argument too because we all know what we know and like what we like. Nobody can convince us otherwise.


Red Barn Outside of Castroville, CA – Landscape Day 8

I’ve always wanted to paint a red barn. One day, as we were heading to the beach last summer, this beautiful barn outside of Castroville California appeared on the side of the road. I took a photo from the moving car and tucked it away in my stash of reference photos thinking I would paint it some day.

Red Barn Painting work in progress.
Painting the background using a paint scraper.

There is something iconic about a red barn. I’ve watched countless painters painting a red barn on PBS. Some people will say PBS painters are kind of boring with their landscapes and maybe they are, but I have learned so many techniques and how to move paint around a canvas by watching people like Bob Ross work. For a mostly self-taught painter, these painting shows have been a wonderful resource for me. So, I think in a way, this red barn painting is in homage to all of the painters on PBS kind enough to share their talents and abilities with the world. Thank you, PBS, for having shows like this so regular people like me can become better at their craft! I appreciate you more than you know.

Red Barn Background
Red Barn Background

I decided to try painting with a pallete knife and with some paint scrapers I got at the hardware store. I didn’t want this painting to be too fussy and I also really wanted to see if I could create something recognizable using a pallette knife.

Red Barn Work In Progress.
Using a palette knife

I thought it was a really fun way to paint. I am definitely going to try it again.

Work in progress Red Barn landscape painting by Lillian Connelly.
Red Barn outside of Castroville (work in progress).

I don’t think this painting is finished. It needs something. I am just not sure what yet so I am going to leave it alone for a while and see what I think the next time I look at it with fresh eyes. It definitely feels like a technique painting. It’s more about the paint and the pallete knife than about the red barn. I think that happens sometimes when you are learning a new skill.

Red Barn Outside of Castroville
Red Barn Outside of Castroville 24 x 20 acrylic on canvas.

Have a happy Monday…I hope you are surviving Day Lights Savings time.



I Almost Had To Paint Phonemes In March

I almost had to paint phonemes in March. If you don’t know what phonemes are I am going to tell you right now!

“any of the abstract units of the phonetic system of a language that correspond to a set of similar speech sounds (as the velar \k\ of cool and the palatal \k\ of keel) which are perceived to be a single distinctive sound in the language” -stolen from the Merriam Webster dictionary.

I almost had to paint sounds. SOUNDS! I know. That’s weird, right? A friend made a joke that I should paint them in honor of Jim being a Speech and Language Pathologist. I thought it was a funny, scary idea and went back and forth with it for a few days before submitting it to my ever wise, all knowing, super awesome newsletter subscribers.

If you want to be a newsletter subscriber and make life altering decisions for me in the future sign up now:

Anyway, my newsletter subscribers voted and I seriously thought phonemes were going to win. It was really close and I was both in a panic and overly excited by the challenge. It was going to be so different from anything I had have ever tried to paint before. I mean, new territory, People! I’d be like an art explorer or something. Maybe. Not to mention, my newsletter subscribers obviously enjoy a good laugh and maybe, just maybe, they thought I could pull it off. That would be a serious compliment and more faith in me than I probably have in myself. Mostly though, I think they just like to see me sweat and place a lot of stock in having a sense of humor and being clever and forward thinking and going on adventures…I am pretty sure my newsletter subscribers are also the most beautiful people in the world both inside and out. Am I laying it on a little thick? Well, yes, but it’s only because the only tool I have to thank them and show them my gratitude is words…lots of words! So, I am using all of the fancy ones I can think of.

It turns out all of my phoneme contemplating wasn’t necessary. I checked today to see if any last minute votes were taking place and to my surprise…Landscapes were in first place! Phonemes were in second place. Cats were in third. Which is kind of amazing considering how many people love their cats and it’s practically what the Internet is most famous for. Painting people came in last, which can only mean my subscribers have seen my previous people paintings and they were scared. So, it looks like, starting March 1st, I will be doing a series of 15 landscape paintings. I have to admit I feel a little relieved and also pretty excited since landscapes are something I have been planning to put more effort into. Jim prefers landscapes to all other subject matter and it’s something I haven’t spent enough time working on. So, even though I won’t be painting phonemes in his honor, I will be painting landscapes. I think he is going to be pretty happy.

I Almost Had To Paint Phonemes In March
Abiquiu, New Mexico 9×12 alcohol ink on Yupo Paper

I may still paint phonemes and cats too. I am making a list of good ideas and I kind of like doing these challenges. It’s fun to get out of my comfort zone and push myself to be more creative. I spent a great deal of time staring out the window and thinking about how to interpret phonemes in a visual way. I’d hate to waste all of that thinking time so maybe the second half of March, or the beginning of April, will be devoted to attempting to produce, in paint, the phoneme images floating around in my mind.

Thank you newsletter subscribers for being the best people in the world. Not that I have to tell you that. I mean, you already know you are awesome, obviously!