Yesterday, Janine was under the weather (suffering from allergies, I should say), so our plans went to hell in a handbasket. I spend most of the day hanging around the house, trying to be quiet so she could sleep, which she did for almost the entire day (she got up around 8, but was back in bed by 9 and didn’t arise until well after 3). Staying still and refraining from noise-making activities like blowing leaves, using the pressure washer in a vain attempt to wash away pollen, and other such macho endeavors was hard. But I managed. I left the house twice. Once to check the mail at the post office and once to do something equally as vital but which now I forget. I needed out of the house.

Today was better. We went to church to experience the first Music on Barcelona, a shindig arranged by our soon-to-be music director. The church board and others with a say in the matter have decided to have a music-only event on every month with a fifth Sunday. Today’s inaugural event was absolutely outstanding. The Village Strings, an all-volunteer group comprising mostly lifelong-amateur string musicians played Vivaldi and Broadway tunes and a host of other wonderful music. There wasn’t a shred of churchiness to the event, an attribute I found quite appealing. I’m still not terribly comfortable with the liturgical aspect of attending church. I prefer casual engagement to what seems to me artificiality on steroids. But I’m new to liturgy, so maybe I’m just allergic.  At any rate, the music was superb, the execution was marvelous, and the crowd was much bigger than usual. But we had promised to get away and go visit art studios, so we left before the post-service intellectual conversation that we normally enjoy.

Off we went, in search of specific artist studios. But first, we had lunch at Froggy’s, a nice place on the west end of Hot Springs. Janine’s country-fried ribeye steak was about the best I’ve ever tasted. My hamburger was okay, but over-cooked (overdone medium as opposed to the medium rare I ordered). But I was in a generous mood. So I ate it without complaint (it was tasty, in fact).  And then, off to Glenwood, Arkansas. We visited two studios, one a metal/welding shop at which the artistic display was phenomenal, and another  at which the artist and his friend were exceptionally educational. I loved much of the art. At the second place, I loved a small dog they had recently adopted from a shelter. If I were single, I would have stolen the dog. But I am married and my wife wouldn’t tolerate my thievery nor my adoption of a dog. Dogs do not live in our house, with its wood floors. I’m open to carpet, just to mention.

Then, we went back to Hot Springs, where we visited the studio of a woman we know. She does art glass, mostly making glass window hangings. Neat stuff, really. She has a very nice small studio ideally suited to her craft. After viewing her shop, she invited us (and another couple who’s very involved in the arts scene in Hot Springs) to look at their house. We had a wonderful time surveying their home and its art. And the birds! They have enormous numbers of birds dining on their deck at any given time.

But now we’re back home. Kicking back. Relaxing. Enjoying a warm Spring afternoon. (At least I am. Janine is watching television.) It’s time for me to go out on the deck and commune with nature. With a glass of something appropriate, of course. I’ll sit and express my gratitude to the universe that I am enjoying happiness and goodness that I probably don’t deserve. Too many people can’t experience this. It shouldn’t be so, but it is. We just have to keep trying.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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