This time of year is special when I get to meet up with my dear BFF who is an art teacher in LA at her family’s mountain cabin in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina. We have known each other for decades, and it is still precious when we get to spend time together.

Me and BFF Donna on a walk down the mountain road. photo by Cathy

The cabin is rustic, but wonderful, and we manage to leave the men behind

Gathering flowers and taking photos. Two of our favorite pastimes at Mountain House. Photo by me.

…and gather as artists in the little house on the hill.

Early morning at Mountain House. Photo by me

This year there are only three of us for this first night, but it makes it all the nicer to share a quiet porch in the late afternoon.

Rockers ready. Photo by me

I have created art here before,

Mountain Dogwood, conte on paper, art and photo by me

…and this time I managed some time sketching on my new city series.

Hard at work. Photo by Cathy

I have been spending long hours in the studio working and it is thrilling and scary to be back hard at work on my art after weeks of travel and thinking about what to work on next.

The beginning of a “Cities” painting…boules in Paris. photo by me

This was a nice break with artist friends…

BFF and sister Cathy creating art at Mountain House. Photo by me

…and although I miss My Beloved Brit, he understands my escaping for a few days with fellow artists in the woods.

Queen Anne’s Lace…a mountain classic. Photo by me

And with no air-conditioning or TV, he really has no desire to join us in this peaceful oasis.

Mountain House near Bryson City, NC. Photo by me

Sometimes it is nice to take a separate path, and have lots of stories to tell when we get back together.