Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Ultimate Girls' Weekend

The invitation came wrapped as a gift. And that was just the beginning.
It opened like a little book, bound with stitches.
Inside was page after page of what awaited us at this getaway in the mountains...

I'm not a photographer, but I want you to get the feel of this, so I shot each page...

Can you imagine how over-the-moon excited I was?
To top it off, if you read the text, this amazing friend of mine hired me to teach a watercolor workshop at her mountain retreat. Most of my trip was paid for, and I got to do what I love best.

The whole weekend unfolded just as magically as the invitation promised.

As soon as I pulled up to the cabin, Allison waltzed out to greet me, and a swarm of friends grabbed my bags and showed me where I'd be sleeping (upstairs in the dormer, where she had eight matching wooden beds, all with matching wool blankets. It honestly looked like something right out of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs To my great joy, all of the guests were a collection of favorite people!

We sat on the deck in the evening breeze, relaxing in big adirondack chairs and laughing and talking like we'd never been apart. The time flew by, and we could barely stand to pry ourselves back indoors when Allison announced it was time for dinner. She had fixed the most simple food, beautifully prepared and perfectly seasoned: Salmon fillets, Israeli couscous, and green beans. Heaven!  Then everybody started breaking out the snacks...caramel popcorn, mud pie, Trader Joe's mints...and (as promised) we watched THREE Jane Eyre movies back to back, starting with the old black-and-white Orson Welles version and ending with William Hurt, so we could decide once and for all who was the best Mr. Rochester! (The jury's still out, by the way.)

The next morning we awoke to the most fabulous aroma...Allison had baked a giant tomato and basil strata for breakfast, complete with beautiful sweeter-than-candy plums and apricots she'd grown herself. Then it was my turn. My watercolor workshop was the main event. I started by sending everyone off into the woods to collect flowers and leaves to paint, then explored some principles of abstract underpainting (to capture the growth pattern).

Once that dried we followed up with layer upon layer of negative painting (painting around objects)
which is a very calming way to paint.  

The women were amazed as they saw their floral subjects gradually appear, and with so much depth. (Some called it magic, and one who has a PhD in microbiology exclaimed, “It’s like fractals!” which was a surprisingly cool observation.) While I was teaching, Nikki the masseuse would pull people out one at a time for their individual foot massages. At the end we had a mini-exhibit and put everyone’s paintings up on the wall to enjoy the diversity of results and applaud the finished products. So great!

The unsurpassed weekend in Lake Arrowhead was over...but my summer roadtrip with my daughter continued. Here.

Wind and water. Mountains and ocean. Friends that are family. Healing and peace.

I am so much better for having gone.

Where has this summer taken you?


Kristina P. said...

Does Allison need a new best friend? Wow! She sounds amazing!

Melanie Jacobson said...

I want to organize a writer's retreat with the same sense of peace. What an amazing weekend!

Allison said...

OK, I am just so touched by your wonderful description of the party. You are the BEST friend ever! Big kiss, bigger hug.

Jessica said...

This is so wonderful! And I just posted today about my own fabulous girls' weekend . .. I think having you there to teach a painting workshop would have made it over-the-top perfect!

Jessica said...

(and I actually came here first because I finally have a chance to hear your hubby's TED talk! Can't wait . ..!)

heather said...

I wish someone would sent me an invitation like that!! Oh, what a LOVELY weekend! Jane Eyre is one of my favorite love stories, and the jury is still out for me too.
You know what, I think I just might netflix that today & pull out my water colors during nap time. :)

Luisa Perkins said...

I am OH, SO ENVIOUS! It sounds like pure heaven. I must organize such a thing someday.

Dedee said...

That does sound like heaven on earth. Awesome and amazing!

Heidi said...

Wow! I am so impressed by their paintings! And what a wonderful time you must have had. And that last photo looks like it has to be Monterey. I only live two hours away but it's been too long since I was there. (Okay, it was January, but still too long!) Love you!