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Saturday, July 30, 2016

"Viking"

I used to live at a place we called "Valhalla*".  I was part of a "we" at that time, and he was into Vikings.  There's a whole lot of back story I could tell about how we ended up in this 100-acre patch of woods hugged by the Grand River (1 of 2 state-designated 'wild and scenic' rivers in Ohio -- the other being the Chagrin River of my childhood), but let's skip past some of my completely justified marital bitterness and get to Valhalla.

The very large house on this property hadn't been lived in for years because it was part of decade-long divorce battle.  Hunters liked to break in and use the grand fireplace in the basement for warmth and the pool table for fun.  The woman of the pending-divorce wanted someone in the house to keep the hunters out.  Sure!  I'd love to plunk on the grand piano in the cathedral-sized living room facing the woods!

In an odd loop of coincidence, I was in this house many years before, when it was decked out in splendor.  A friend and I were riding horses and saw a bunch of older teenaged boys floating a Volkswagen in the river.  We called and laughed at them, they invited us to the fun.  The mom served us gourmet sandwiches off giant silver trays, and kids swam in the Olympic-sized indoor pool to clean off river and Volkswagen grit.  There was so much laughter; I can still hear it.

The house was silent when "we" lived there -- unless you want to count Andrew, our ghost.  I felt like I had to ask his permission each time I drove down the 1/4 mile overgrown, gravel driveway.  Someone advised me to tell Andrew to "go to the light!"  I did, and then all the lights around the house turned themselves on and off.  Ever after, my dog would put her feet on the wall and bark at light switches.  I laughed a lot at that too.

The house had a 2nd story art studio, which was a happiness I had always fantasized about.  I moved my many art supplies up the stairs and stared over the half-wall which overlooked the cathedral living room and out the 3 stories of windows that faced the woods -- and stared -- and stared -- and created nothing.

My dog and I took daily walks in the woods.  We sat at the waterfall, communed with the white pines, picked mushrooms, violets, ramps, and sassafras.  We watched the deer come up to the windows every evening... and eventually I started to become myself again after years of cheating, neglect, and verbal abuse.  I signed up for an art festival, shoved my drawing table up to one of those giant windows, and started to paint again -- and couldn't stop.

I only lived at Valhalla spring through fall of 1 year, but it was a life-changing time for me.  I didn't want to pay heat bills for a mansion so I kicked out the people living in my house and moved back to where I was before the abuse.  We were happily divorced within the year.  Well, I was happy about it at any rate.

Sometimes I thought it was ironic to call the place "Valhalla" because I was so unhappy when we moved there, but maybe it was the best and only name for the place I refound my happiness within myself.

Valhalla (Merriam-Webster definition)
1. the great hall in Norse mythology where heroes slain in battle are received
2. a place of honor, glory, or happiness

I wish I could show you photos, but I didn't take any at the time.  The painting is a bit of a larger work I did at that time.  I drove down the long drive this past winter and found the large house has been replaced by a much smaller one.  Maybe it's for the best?  It was a house of divorce, even with the echoes of laughter.

P.S. My blog buddy Jane is having a giveaway.  Click on the photo below to go to her site for a chance to win.

 

13 comments:

  1. I really love your painting Linda...I'm so glad you got back to painting after such bad time in your life and I'm glad you were strong enough to break away and make a new, better life. That house sit sounded brilliant fun though but I agree rather big to heat! Perhaps the new smaller house is a house with no bad memories, let's hope so. Thanks for the shout out for my giveaway..everyone is welcome...no rules over at mine!! Have a great week, I can't believe it's August tomorrow xx

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  2. Thanks Jane! Sometimes we have to look back to see the good in those harder times. It was great to live in the big house for a while, but my small house is enough for me to heat and clean :)

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  3. Lovely, soft drawing, Linda.
    Jane, you shouldn't have mentioned August! I'm still blissfully halfway July. :-)

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  4. Thanks Paula! I'm with you about still being in July :)

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  5. So glad to drive down that long gravel drive with you and hear laughter beyond the trees. A clear nudge to oush my drawing table up against the window and let it ake me somewhere. Many thanks.

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  6. Anything I can do to help other people create is a good thing!

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  7. What an intriguing place! The float-the-Volkswagen party sounds like bunches of fun. The rest, not so much? Lovely painting either way.

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  8. Thanks! The Volkswagen day was a lot of fun. Walks in the woods in the later years was beautiful and pleasant. Even with the divorces in the air, this is a special place.

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  9. I think the weird guys screamed Valhalla out in the new Mad Max movie. Right before they thought they were going to die. Now, it makes sense. Delicate painting. It doesn't hint at the turmoil going on then.

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    1. Who knew I'd be explaining Mad Max? LOL

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  10. Great post. I could totally visualize this place! And I'm glad it got you painting again, because I really love the softness of that piece!

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  11. Thanks Mit! Everyone should have their own Valhalla :)

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  12. Sometimes changes are needed to make us see ourselves and let our inner artist out again. Valhalla seems to have been a very special place, with its positives and negatives. Must have been very special living there.

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