today i held down the fort while james spent some time with his grandma mickie.  i've always had a strong kinship with mickie, partially because she's a painter, and also because she closely helped raise james, my husband.  whenever i see her, there's a fierce glow in her eyes that says more than words could ever say, but mostly, thank you for loving my dear boy.  

today, james took the van and picked her up in conway, the same beige westfalia that she and gordy once owned.  to suspicious onlookers, it may just seem like another dinged up hippie-mobile. but to us, it's an heirloom.  in that van, those two drove up the alaska yukon highway, down the coast to baja, traveled miles upon miles, sleeping in the back bed parked on sandy beaches and in snow-tipped mountains.  in that van, those two traveled darn near everywhere a road can take you, and so we figure:  it's been blessed.  today, mickie sitting comfortably in her familiar passenger seat, twisting down chuckanut with her grandson at the helm, chatting while the curves skirted the coast, i know it was an uplifting departure from the day to day life of a quiet old lady in an assisted living apartment.

gordy is gone now, gone to the rainbows as nell would say, and ever since he passed away, mickie has had a hard time picking up her paintbrushes.  which really bothers her.  without daddy, i just don't know what to paint, she said to james.  and i could relate; enveloped in grief, it took me a long time to pick the brushes back up too. but today, i showed her my watercolors, triumphant.  it looks like you just pick anything up and paint it, she said.  yep, it's amazing, i guess you can make art out of anything.  you have to start somewhere, so i just pick something up and start. take this egg for instance: you could paint the same thing a million times...

and it will be different every time!  she chimed in.


  1. Jessica, I especially love this story because I believe there's only two things that really make an artist a real artist and that is the ability to find inspiration and then doing the work. Early on when I was first wondering about what makes an artist an artist. Someone told me that being prolific is an indicator. That's only one reason that I love your stories and watercolor series. I am quite hooked, and i look forward to checking in almost everyday.

  2. that means a lot to me, johanna. thanks.