Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Christmas Cactus


I have several of these plants that all originally came from cuttings that I got from Roberta Belgarde.  She was my elderly neighbor when we lived in Newburgh in the early 70's.  Jesse was a baby, and Carrie was two years old.  She often invited me for lunch and babysat when I had to go to the doctor.  In front of her kitchen window was a dry sink bursting with Christmas cactus.  She gave me a cutting so I could start my own plant.  Over the many years since then (Jesse was born in 1974) I have continued to root cuttings from that plant and although the original doesn't bloom much anymore, its children thrive.  

I think fondly of Mrs. Belgarde (I always called her that) every time these plants blossom.  This year they are particularly prolific.  The mother hangs in the kitchen, and its offspring are scattered around in the dining room and living room.  This year they seem to think Christmas is coming early.  I can barely take my eyes off them.

Carrie has one of the offspring in her office in New Hampshire.  She has never been interested in plants, but I guess to humor me she consented a few years ago to take one  small cutting.  She named the plant Rhonda and has become quite fond of it. It happily blooms for her around Christmas every year.

You never know how you are going to be remembered after you die, and I'm quite sure Mrs. Belgarde never thought that she would live on in our minds and hearts because of these plants.  Another plant I have is a memorial to my aunt Faith, my father's sister who died many years ago.  Her daughter, my cousin, inherited the Begonia she had on her dining room table for years and years.  It was huge, and Beth divided it up among the cousins,  I have since divided mine so that I have Begonias  all over the house.  Faith lives in my memory because I never look at one of them without her crossing my mind.  


Monday, November 23, 2020

Time with Annie Dillard, May Sarton, and Elliot

 This is the latest attempt to regain my expertise in watercolor.  I'm getting there, I think.  This is from a photo I took down on the beach below my house....I don't remember when, but I was obviously walking under my own steam, so it was at least two years ago.  My hip surgery has been postponed yet again, so I guess I will be grounded for the foreseeable future.  I am not upset by this development, since having surgery during this pandemic is a risk I don't really want to take.  I am so used to using my walker that it hardly seems like a handicap anymore.

I watch the developments surrounding our presidential election with some trepidation, but I have some vague faith that all will work out in the end.  The only lasting consequence for me personally is my disbelief that the country could get into such a mess. I guess I could have anticipated that Trump would behave badly if he didn 't win the election, but not how badly.  The other depressing thought I have is that so many people supported him and, unbelievably, still do.

Meanwhile I go along with my reclusive life, pretty much unaffected by anything that goes on outside of this house.  I have my wonderful little dog to keep me company, my books and my paints to entertain me.  I ordered a new Kindle which came a few days ago.  I don't know what I'd do without it.  While I waited for it to come after my old one died, I amused myself by re-reading "An American Childhood" by Annie Dillard.  It is one of my favorite books of all time.  My Kindle died in the middle of May Sarton's journal at 80.  I look forward to returning to it where I left off, but I must say I find the woman a little unlikeable at times.  So what, though?

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

 So..........I'm picking up the accumulated clutter here in my dining room, office, bird sanctuary, and exhibition space and what should I find but a dog-eared copy of Loren Eisley's "Immense Journey."  It's a paperback with a torn blue cover and soft, yellowed, dog-eared pages.  Its copyright is 1946, a year after I was born.  This book was assigned reading for my freshman English class in 1963 and probably influenced me more than anything else I've ever read.  I still enjoy opening it up randomly and reading a page or two   Many of my paintings were inspired by those writings, but the biggest impact the book had on me was my view of the evolution of the earth and its inhabitants.  I always think, too, of Miss Fife, my professor, a fifty-ish prim and proper lady who obviously had a lot more going on in her head than one would think by looking at her.  I wonder what she would think if she knew how she affected my life...that shy, mousy, uncommunicative student slouching in the third row of desks, one of hundreds that no doubt passed through Miss Fife's classroom.

Well, when I saw the book this morning, I had to stop and read a few pages.  No doubt the science of that time has evolved way beyond what Eisley took as fact (though I know he realized that new information would eventually bury a lot of the "facts" of his day).  Still, basically it is his awe of nature and evolution that carries the book, along with his poetic writing.  

"I do not think, if someone finally twists the key successfully in the tiniest and most humble house of life, that many of these questions will be answered, or that the dark forces which create lights in the deep sea and living batteries in the tropical swamps, or the dead cycles of parasites, or the most noble workings of the human brain, will be much if at all revealed. ......rather, I would say that if "dead matter" has reared up this curious landscape of fiddling crickets, song sparrows, and wondering men it must be plain to even the most devoted naturalist that the matter of which he speaks contains amazing, if not dreadful powers..........."


Monday, October 19, 2020

Keeping up with Watercolor

 This is the latest watercolor I've done recently, an image I copied from photos of some draft horses in a nearby town (I'd name it but I can't remember what it was.......Pembroke I think).  I've been working in watercolor trying to get some interest in painting that I seem to have lost.  My paintings have been so uninspiring, looking like the work of talented high school students who haven't really learned yet what art is all about.  What joy I have found in returning to watercolor after so long.  One of my friends and patrons commented when I posted my first new watercolors on facebook, "The magic is back."  How wonderful to hear that.  Watercolor was always my medium until I lost my support system (other watercolorists who championed the medium).  When I went back to school to study art watercolor was barely mentioned.  Besides, it didn't allow the layers and layers of paint necessary for the kind of art I was doing then.  

There is such immediacy with watercolor that it doesn't lend itself to the layers and layers of paint that I found necessary to express myself at the time.  It is a it is. ........don't look beyond what you see.