“For writing is a solitary occupation and one of it’s hazards is loneliness.  But an advantage of loneliness is privacy, autonomy and freedom.” – Joyce Carole Oates, from A Widow’s Story

For all intents and purposes, I am now and have been for two weeks, on “vacation.” Since I’m sure there are many definitions of this word, I will put forth the following two as a propos to my situation:

  • “an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or in traveling”
  • “a period of time devoted to pleasure.”

As I write this, I am not sitting out at the pool under an umbrella drinking margaritas. Nor am I at the beach under an umbrella breathing in and out with the ocean’s roar. I am sitting at the kitchen table (papers spread out all over) in a lovely air-conditioned condo, drinking hot green tea.

I am devoting a period of time to pleasure but, I could be anywhere – even at home.  The only real difference between being at home and being here in Florida, is that the temperature outside is 92 degrees with a clear azure blue sky and  at home in Door County, Wisconsin, it is overcast with a continuing  struggle between winter and an anxious spring.

I find myself making notes on scraps of paper or on the back of register receipts, saving all I want to remember to include in future blogs, to further investigate, to post on my Facebook Page, share with a friend or tweet to the world at large. I read several newspapers a day and cut out articles which evoke some response from me and ones which I think I will incorporate into an interesting story… someday.

As for painting, because this trip was short, I didn’t bring  all my paraphernalia. But I did bring my camera and a videocam. I haven’t taken many pictures or made a film, but all the views are in my head. My relationship to my creativity is constant and quiet. It is a process which is continual, no matter where I am or with whom.

I don’t sketch to “catch the moment” as I know I can recall whatever details I might need when the time is right. I know what I will be painting when I return home, and it will undoubtedly be influenced by what is in my mind’s eye in this tropical paradise.

It was an “art show” on a small, out-of-the-way, street call “Shirley,” that I found by way of a signpost sticking out of the ground with an arrow pointing toward what looked like an alley. The words “Art Show Today” were painted in red. I turned to follow and saw on both sides of the street, a number of long, low and narrow buildings, painted in a shade of yellow.

Balloons floated above announcing the show. Parking was available right in front of what turned out to be individual artist’s studios and galleries. I later discovered that these buildings were once storage units and had been turned into colorful and convenient spaces for rent at amazingly affordable prices.

The quality of the work I saw there was outstanding. Artists were using every form and medium, sculptors working in clay, wood and metal, jewelry designers, wearable art makers and much more. Every space was welcoming and friendly, cookies and tea abounding.  The atmosphere was party-like.

I spent a great deal of time talking to various artists and the unifying comment I took away was their great pleasure at having found these studios and being able to work amidst a community of artists within their own private space, available for as little as $250 a month. Some astute building owners have turned their abandoned industrial space into affordable units for artists… a win-win for everyone including myself.

I can envision this happening in Door County. There are many empty buildings and available spaces. If you read this and know of anyone who might consider such an endeavor, let me know and I will contact them. I’d be the first to rent a space.

I eat and drink a lot more on vacation than I do at home. I have been doing water aerobics. I found a local computer guru when my computer crashed. I’ve seen three plays: “Rumors” by Neil Simon, “Blythe Spirit” by Noel Coward and “The Rabbit Hole,” a Pulitzer Prize winner by David Lindsay-Abaire). I Saw a terrific movie, adapted from “The Lincoln Lawyer” by Micheal Connelly, one of my favorite crime writers. These are the things I miss living in the Door, so I indulge myself when I can.

Of course, there are so many outdoor activities, it’s impossible to do them all within the span of three weeks. I do make it a point to visit the Naples Zoo because it is a botanical garden and most of the animals are free to roam their areas. I have always loved zoos. One of my earliest memories is of my father, taking me to Garfield Park Zoo in Chicago.

I’d welcome hearing your thoughts about vacations, artists’ spaces, zoos or anything else you’d like to share. Write on!

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