Linnie Aikens Arts and Letters • HeART Haven Studios

Santa Barbara Breakwater at Dawn 


There are events in my life that suddenly break the frenetic speed and power of my lifestyle, and I am left feeling temporarily battered upon the rocks.  I somehow sense that I am supposed to be on the other side, in calmer, peaceful seas, but I’m used to the endlessly moving, constantly bruising power of the waves.  It’s what I know.  There are no surprises.  Safety in its predictability.  But I’ve been thrown against the breakwater lately enough times to know that perhaps I need to heed the message being delivered lacking any subtlety.  An errant thought flickers; perhaps there had been subtle indications prior, but obviously I must not have heard or, more honestly, ignored them. 


Eventually I climb up over the rocks, slipping on the slick stones of ambivalence, sometimes whipped off my feet by gale winds of fear and indecision and sucked back into the broiling sea of a life which I’ve come to call comfortable..  I use every ounce of prayer and will to haul myself back up on the rocks, then gingerly make my way back up to the top.  This process may repeat itself a few times before I find myself perched precariously at the top, holding onto the breakwater rails.  I have a choice.   


I have made it.  As I stand on the breakwater, the glorious sunrise reflecting off of every surface before me, the gentle lapping of the calm waters at my left, and the frenzied stew at my right, I see the bigger picture, feel a greater peace at having listened and heeded.


Still, life has shown me that I will be here again one day....perhaps a few times!  It’s what keeps me learning, growing, changing...becoming who I am to be for the next period of my life.  


All photos and text used in this blog are copyrighted by Author of this website, unless otherwise indicated, and permission is required to use any image or text.



All photos and text used in this blog are copyrighted by Author of this website, unless otherwise indicated, and permission is required to use any image or text.

Tijeras, Manzano Mtns, NM

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by..” (Robert Frost)  Sometimes that road turns out to be a dead end, but oh the adventures and lessons experienced!  I cannot find room for regret.


My six months in New Mexico were eventful, to understate the experience!  Someday I’ll relate it here, but I’m glad I stepped out of my comfort zone, made changes in my life, tried and failed, some might say, but I TRIED.  In hindsight, I’ll probably see the reason in it all, but for now, I am grateful for the blessings of my friends, old and new.  With the freshness of a new fallen snow, so too, I will remake my life once again!



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Tijeras, Mazano Mtns., NM


I will miss my little mountain home high in the Tijeras Mountains above Albuquerque.  Today I took my pup out in my backpack and enjoyed my first real snow day, when I didn’t have to go to work, that is, and I could enjoy it.  I’ve noticed that it’s coldest in those wee hours between midnight and madrugada, fitting because it’s my favorite time of day.  I watched and listened to the howling wind as the snow taps on the tin roof, and snuggled into my fleece blanket while I sipped my peppermint mocha coffee. The snow began about 3 am, and about 5:30 am I ventured out to try and capture the mood.  Only on early snowy mornings is one lucky enough to see that illusive icy, deep prussian blue--a blue rich in depth, holding its secrets tightly to its chest.  Yet, what most inspired me this morning was my walk back to the house.

There, nestled in the pines, spruce and firs, glowed warmly the lights of my home--a temporary haven for a few months, but the one I’ve loved best in all my years of homes.  Perfect size, perfect layout, perfect feel, with it’s wraparound porch and beautiful natural wood moldings throughout.  For only 700 square feet, it has 10 good sized windows, bringing the beauty of the outdoors inside of every room.  I feel quite blessed!  



While this lovely mountain home has been a gift to soothe my weary soul, it is also a symbol to me of how important the warmth and love and support of home can bring.  By home I mean family and close friends.  It occurs to me that one of the greatest lessons I have learned in this move across several states is the value of family and friends.


I think our culture, at least in the USA, has raised several generations of those of us who’ve learned that being independent and not needing others is sign of maturity and strength.  I know I’ve spent my whole life wearing my lone-wolf mentality of independence like a badge of honor.  “I pull myself up by my bootstraps, and I don’t need anyone’s help....not a man’s, not family’s nor friends’ help.  To do anything less would be weak.”  I think perhaps God was trying to teach me something here, and it’s taken me six months to hear it.  


Of course today I feel quite content by myself in my delightful cozy home nestled into the snow-covered landscape, but my heart knows that we were made to need one another.  Not only do we need our family and my friends for our own support, but we need to be able to actively love and give to them as well.



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Tijeras, NM


Today was my first day driving in the snow.  At 3:13 I awoke to the howling wind and crinkling on the tin roof of my Tijeras Cabin.  I bundled my pup up in my jacket and cozy yarn scarf, because there was absolutely no way he was going to let me go outside leaving him to miss out on the fun!  We’d only had about an inch by this point, but I was enamored!  Crunching along the wrap-around porch in my $6 boys snow boots that I’d found at Cedar Crest Thrift, I inspected the snow covering the railing. 


Did you know that there are different kinds of snowfall?  Well, it didn’t really occur to me, being from the warm climes of Santa Barbara.  When I’d been in the Colorado Rockies, the snow fell like delicate little flakes that softly landed on my tongue like a weightless wafer placed on one’s tongue during communion.  If fact, the experience of falling snow was quiet spiritual to my thinking.  In New York, while taking my daughter on her college tours through Cornell University and Renssaeler Polytechnic, the snow fell like great white sheets, whiting out everything as far as the eye could see.  The sundry of textures created by the things under the snow were the only variations in the total white...that and the reflections of sunrises, sunsets and car lights across the landscape.  I realized then why people are drawn to paint snow, and why it’s so difficult to truly capture in paint.  Perhaps, it’s similar to my fascination with painting light on water...or light on most anything, actually!  But today was a whole NEW kind of snow!  Tiny little while balls of a whole range of values of white.  Some were silver and translucent in icy splendor, catching the lights from my lit interior of the cabin.  Some were as opaque and stark white as a fresh cotton ball from the bag.


Driving to work, as I entered the downtown (Uptown ABQ), I noticed that the trees had been wrapped in white holiday lights sometime in the past week.  As the wind whipped through the avenue, the trees swayed and shivered, as if they were children trying to wriggle out of their uncomfortable Christmas sweaters.  The thought made me smile all day!


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Albuquerque, near the Petroglyph Hills, NM


Walking with my dog each day, I have time to enjoy the stunning skies and think.  The skies are immense, immeasurable, without boundaries.  In Santa Barbara, while I lived facing the ocean, the skies still seemed finite, hemmed in by mountains, islands, ocean and tree line.  Here in New Mexico, the skies have no bounds, and yet they seem close enough to touch.  They make me feel like I have a glimpse into God...his immeasurable magnificence and infinite span, and yet so close and almost touchable.  I’ve needed that reminder during these days in a new land!


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iMadonnari Festival at the Santa Barbara Mission 2013

This is one of my favorite festivals all year in Santa Barbara, and I’ve been painting on one square or another every year since 1997.  Because I’m heading off to live in Albuquerque soon, I am feeling rather nostalgic about all of my years working at this festival.  The community really comes together for this, with over 200 artists, 300 if you count all the childrens’ personal art as well!  Yes, there are artists who come in from out of town, and the highlighted 8 ft x 8 ft square in front of the Mission is often from elsewhere (I wish we’d have more local artists do that one!!) but we do have many many locals painting.  I love it!  From the beautiful display of chalks lined up in a chromatic spectrum, to the chalk smears on faces, clothes and bodies!   


For an artist, we being typically a quieter, more introspective bunch, this provides us an opportunity to be more social.  We’re in our element, painting (somewhat likened to “hiding behind the camera”!) but passerbys draw us out and ask us questions, and we make the rounds to praise our fellow artists, and they us.  It’s a fun event, albeit tiring.  The hot sun is one thing, but it’s the blazing blacktop that really gets you!!


If there is such a festival in Albuquerque, I know I’ll be there...if not, I will work to get one there!


Cheryl Guthrie, Fellow Kung Fu San Soo Artist and Pastel Artist and Friend

I was fascinated watching this woman even more than her art.  She was so solitary and unaware of anyone around her.  No earphones walled her off from the jangle of music and conversation around her, yet she seemed totally alone with her chalks.  The quiet, peaceful art and beauty of her posture and presence just lent a spiritual connection to art and artist here.  The beauty of the lines in her face, the creases in her shirt and chalk smearing her pants....As a viewer, I felt I’d been given a precious glimpse into her world that outside of iMadonnari, few may get to see.


My good friend, Victor Sigismondi, a graphic artist in town, painted these over the years.  He and I love DaVinci for his great artistic and scientific mind.  I love “renaissance men and women” -- those with minds, hearts and spirits that just won’t be contained or categorized in any one area or genre!  Victor is also such a man.  My mother and Daughter as well.  I am very much so at heart!  He and I toured the paintings this year, both on Saturday and then on Monday, when most were done. One has to visit them at different stages!  One should not miss the wonderful gelato while there as well!


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As I sit here sipping my tea, pondering making momentous changes in my life, I take great pleasure in my little garden.  With the onset of Spring, I planted a small area outside my door...brussel sprouts (their plants, giant flowers in themselves), Chinese Peas,  jalepeño, thai chili, eggplant, cucumber and sweet peas.  Then some weeks back I planted two wine barrel planters with herbs:  chives, sage, oregano, thyme, lemon thyme, sweet basil, german basil, thai basil, winter savory, summer savory and cilantro.  They sandy soil and good mulch is helping them grow like gangbusters!  I am hoping the resident gopher on the other side of the house doesn’t discover this bounty.  He pretty much took out our entire lettuce crop and had a sumptuous feast nightly!  


I love to watch the plants grow every day.  Each and every day I can see a new leaf, flower or another inch grown.  My profession, while completely inspiring, growth in humans takes much longer!  Oftentimes we teachers don’t get to see the real growth until after a child has left us and moved on to a new teacher, new grade, new school... It’s a labor built on faith, hope and love, and yes, exhausting amounts of work that just never ever seems to get done completely!  We teachers were sitting in a meeting last week working on an important curriculum collaboration and documentation....after a full day of teaching, several meetings at lunch, before school, etc., and we were quite honestly brain dead.  We were so tired that we weren’t even able to summon the correct vocabulary to speak intelligibly.  We all cracked up and reflected how this kind of work should be done when our brains were fresh,...alas, with the budget limitations and teaching all day...  Someone brought out chocolate and we laughed at our next best alternative, before we tried to refocus again.  Alas..... In a perfect world......!


So my little garden cheers me and reminds me that something does grow with my help; I know because I can see it and smell it so fragrantly!  I love the lushness of this garden setting for my little home at present!  It has been a gift.  I look forward to my adventure ahead in Albuquerque though!


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