Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Beginning

I finally forced myself to give some attention to the exhibit that Elizabeth, Patty, and I are going to have in Machias this Spring. This is the first sketch I've done for that show, which is to be an interpretation of the myth of Demeter and Persephone. I have thought a lot about the image and drew it out of my head. The process of drawing like this is quite fascinating, teasing the subject out of nothing with charcoal and eraser. I actually did the hands first, smudging and rubbing until I liked what I saw. Then I moved to the baby's bottom and legs, letting the image emerge by itself as I pushed the charcoal around. It's very hard to describe just what happens, but you just experiment until you recognize what you see.

In the myth, Demeter gets a job as a governess during her travels looking for Persephone. She becomes so attached to the child that she is caring for, she decides to make him into a god. This is done by putting the baby into fire. The baby's mother stops her before she can do the deed. I liked the idea of drawing the baby over the fire--a disturbing and unlikely picture. It presented itself on the paper in a way that pleases me pretty much, though Demeter's face needs adjustment.

It feels good to be finally doing something about this upcoming committment and I hope to keep up the momentum.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


I didn't get any pictures of our actual Christmas dinner, but here is the hall entrance to David's house and the living room just before our guests arrived. Everything was at the ready with the Mojitos and hors d'ouvres waiting. We had planned everything so that we would have very little to do once people were there and it worked out well. Sydney and Richard arrived first, and then Greg, carrying the home-made ice cream we had requested. Lynn came by for a drink before dinner, but had already eaten.

The night before, David and I had been at Sydney and Richard's for Christmas Eve. They had other guests, some of whom we had not met before. My impression of these neighbors was that they were quite likeable in the particular way that Sydney's friends always are. Afterwards, I tried to pinpoint in my own mind what gave her friends that similarity that was so recognizable. I determined that it had to do with the fact that their conversation is mostly about whatever place they lived before coming to Eastport.
Sydney and Richard are from California and talk about their old life very frequently. These people at the party were from Chicago, and their talk centered around their life there. At times it seemed as if everyone were trying to name as many places they had been as possible. As a Maine native, I find this slightly objectionable and off-putting. I feel as if I am being placed in a different, less worldly category. There have been times that I have offered travel references of my own to these conversations, but I realized I was doing it just to show off, trying to impress them. There is always a hint of condescension in this type of chat and I imagine I am being viewed as a curiosity, albeit an interesting one, in the way that archeologists might find a backwards tribe charmingly and surprisingly amusing.

In the environment we somehow are able to create at David's, despite the fact that we are the same people, the balance shifts and place names are not important. We discuss current events, politics, religion, local politics. There are ideas being exchanged. I don't have the same feeling that every eye is on itself, checking on the impression it is making. There is emphasis on ideas, and fun. Conversation is easy and unselfconscious. We are together because we are enjoying ourselves. It does not feel artificial to me, and so I consider it a very happy success.

Thom called while we were celebrating and it seemed nice to have him be part of the party for a few minutes. When everyone had gone, David and I shared the last of the delicious ice cream and then I came home, leaving all the mess for him to clean up. Our menu of veal birds, chateaux potatoes, timbales of peas and mint, and fruited wine jelly with ice cream was up to our usual standards. Campagne, coffee with cointreau..........all of it was festive and memorable. We had worked most of the day together in a measured and companionable way, listening to Christmas music at high volume. It seemed wrong to leave with all the remnants of our good time overflowing the kitchen counters, the sink full of glasses and dishes, the stove littered with leftovers. Still, I felt that it would be best to simply turn our backs on it all and deal with the aftermath in the daylight. I hope David went straight to bed and left the cleanup for today, when he could put away his good china, his linen tablecloth and napkins, his silver, with a sense of satisfaction and a job well done.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Lessons and the Carols 2006

Amazingly it was time for the lessons and the carols again at the Dennysville Congregational Church. Time goes by so quickly. David and I couldn't miss it, despite the fact that there was a concert at the Art Center that we would have liked to attend. This has become a tradition with us, and we had been looking forward to it. Last year we slipped on the ice as we picked our way up the hill to the church, but this year it was dry and bare. The place was full to capacity, but luckily the front pews are the last to be chosen, so David and I were able to take our accustomed place right in front of the choir.

As usual the church was decorated with two huge Christmas trees and the only lights were candles that were lit by children who walked solemnly up the aisles. The music is different each year, and I thought it was even better this time than in the past. Some of it was quite innovative, and the instrumentation included drums and a violin as well as the organ. A few of the songs were sung in foreign languages. This choir is more than willing to push beyond the familiar and the results are very exciting. We, the audience, joined in on the familiar carols. It was the lovely evening we expected it to be.

Christmas is unfolding in a rather peaceful way this year, quietly and without much hurry. I'm enjoying the comparatively slow pace of things, even though I had to drive to Calais today for some last minute shopping. The crowds were not so huge or so pushy as I remembered, and I breezed through the experience as if in a dream of Christmas as it ought to be. It was raining, but it didn't seem to matter. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 17, 2006


This picture was supposed to be with the blog entry below but for some reason disappeared in the publishing process. So, as "Alabama" so quaintly calls him, here is "Mary and Joseph's boy" as he appears under my Christmas tree. Posted by Picasa

O Tannenbaum !

I got my Christmas tree out and put it up last week. This year it will have more time in the limelight than last year when, after arriving so late, it was up for only a day. I enjoyed decorating it and placing my new nativity figures under it. I didn't get around to making a little stable as I had planned, though I still may do it. As it is, the holy family et al is assembled amidst a huge reindeer, a snowman, a number of ornaments, a Christmas moose, and the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. If they have any sense of humor they ought to be amused by the traditions that have grown up around the event of Jesus' birth. They are not so different from other birthdays, what with the gifts and parties and cakes, but the scale is certainly awesome.

David has returned from Florida for the Christmas season. We spent a typical Cheri and David evening together on Friday with dinner and conversation, and tonight we are going to the movie at the high school. It is very good to have him back. It is probably the last time our lives will be like this, since the plan is for Thom to move here as soon as their house sells. I expect that a new way of being will develop between us and I don't fear the change, but it will be a change. I treasure these days when I still have David more or less to myself, though his thoughts are already reaching longingly into the furure. The benefit of each day for him now is that it moves him closer to the time when his little family will be with him. Such times are always happy....often happier than the reality of the dream come true. I think so often about the fact that the happiest time of my life was the week between the time I bought B.J., my horse, and the time he actually arrived. There is nothing like having a powerful, all-consuming wish fulfilled, and the euphoria is at its peak before the reality begins to impose itself. Of course having B.J. was still one of the best experiences of my life, but nothing can equal that first thrill when you know your greatest wish has been granted. Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 11, 2006

Winter Chickens and New Painting

Yesterday it was quite warm and I opened the chicken house door so the girls could go out. They took one look at the snow and declined the invitation. Today, though, most of the snow had melted so they were happy to get some sunshine. Hannah, who is certainly twice the chicken that the others are in every way, was very verbal about the experience. She also ran to greet me when I went down at the end of the afternoon to feed them and close them in. I held a handful of pellets out to her and she ate them out of my hand, then followed me to the house. I hope the weather is like this a lot this winter so the chickens don't have to be couped up for long stretches. They really like to get outside.
I received the paintings in the mail that Thelma sent in trade for my Epping Road pastel. They were so tightly packed in a mailing tube that immediate gratification was far from possible. It took me over an hour to extricate them. I had to cut the tube carefully and then pull it apart. Eventually its structure revealed itself as a spiral and I was able to unwind it. The Judy Rogers painting was as wonderful as I remembered. I framed it today with one of the frames from the watercolors I had professionally framed years ago and then tried it in several places before deciding where to hang it. I ended up putting it over the mantel in the dining room where I will be looking at it as I sit over my coffee in the morning. It is basically a very light and cheerful painting and brightens up the room considerably, too. Originally I planned to have it in the living room, but I don't have as nice a place for it there, and I certainly wouldn't see it as much. It is impossible to see the image in this picture I took because I wanted to get the whole ambience, but I am just thrilled to have it. I have loved it since the first time I saw it over twenty years ago, so I know I will not grow tired of it or lose my enthusiasm. It is one of my prize possessions. Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 08, 2006

Thelma's painting and more snow

I picked up the framed painting today that I swapped with Thelma for her Judy Rogers painting and a couple of my old works that she had bought years ago. I was dazzled by the look of the pastel in the frame. I thought that any frame would detract from the paintings in this series, but now that I see this one, I have changed my mind. I was so excited that I called Thelma up to tell her about it. The down side is that there's no way I can afford to frame the whole series, so I had better get used to the unframed look again. I packed the painting up and put it in the mail immediately, and the man at the post office said she will get it tomorrow. I took a picture of it, but it really doesn't do it justice. Besides, I don't want Thelma to see it until she sees the real thing.

It snowed hard today, so we are back to winter. I had to venture out in it to get Lytton's special dog food at the vet in Perry, since he was down to the last can. My car, which I haven't had in the snow before, performed well. I tested it by going up Adam's St. after I let Lucy and Harry, Greg's dogs, out. Toward the top it started to slip a little, but letting up the gas slightly and turning a little to the right gave it back its footing and it made it to the top without giving me the slightest doubt. In a town full of hills, it is almost a necessity to have a car that can deal with steep, snow-covered roads, and this one performed admirably. My last car needed studded tires to do as well. It was helpless without them.

The dogs love to go out in the snow, but their staying power is less than impressive. After about four or five minutes Lytton, spokesperson for the group, paws at the door with the same frantic enthusiasm that he exhibited as he flew through it just moments ago. This sets up a racket that brings me running to open it and the three of them come tearing in as if they had been locked out for hours. They rub themselves all over the furniture until they are relatively dry and then settle down for a satisfied nap. About an hour later the process is repeated. It makes them so happy I can not refuse to participate in the game, and after all, snowstorms aren't all that frequent. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Number 21

At last I have been able to add to the Eppimg Road series with a painting of the fields as they look at the end of Fall. The leaves have all dropped from the trees and the red of the plants has either disappeared or turned a much more subdued burgundy. The grasses are straw-colored, the evergreens almost black. It's a subtle palette that is no less beautiful than the other seasons, only less obvious. Most of the late Fall days this year have been cloudy, with rain or threatening rain. For practical reasons this has been good for my artistic endeavor. My sticks of blue pastels have been ground to nubs and I would be hard pressed to produce another blue sky before I get to Banor to buy a new supply.

The snow we had has melted and left us back in springlike weather so warm that no jackets were needed today. A few days ago the chickens' water froze, and today they are outside flapping their wings is the balmy breeze. It's hard to know what to expect, so we expect nothing. With El Nino and Global warming both claiming responsibility for strange changes in the weather, we decide what we want to think about it. It's almost laughable to think that we could perceive anything very significant in our own lifetime, considering the earth is billions of years old and gone through changes over time that makes even human life on the planet less than a blink. Yet we see things vary within this short time with our human eyes and make something of it. Why shouldn't we? Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 04, 2006

The First Snow

It finally happened. Winter has showed it's face in the form of snow. It's pretty, too--one of those wet, sticky, heavy snows that clings to everything and makes you forgive the weather. The dogs were interested enough to go out and sniff around, which is more than I can say for the chickens. I don't think those girls have any plans to leave their house until Spring. When I went to feed them they only peered through the doorway irritably and retreated, clucking for their food. I do feel sorry for them having to be so confined for so long. I have thought of a lot of different ways to make things better for them, but none seems very practical. I don't really worry about them being cold, but I feel that they must be very bored and lonely. I'm told that I am humanizing them, that they don't have the brains to be bored or lonely. I can't agree, though. No living thing escapes loneliness, or boredom, if the circumstances are right. I am sure of it, just as sure as I am that they feel happiness and love. It is a bizarre twist of human feelings of superiority that make people feel so separate from the rest of the animal kingdom. My belief is that it is an outgrowth of religious thought, a very unfortunate one, that we must feel that we are the chosen ones, special and superior to all other species.

Well, I believe I waxed philosophical enough on that subject yesterday. I might ad, though, that now that we, with our superior brains, can study the devlopment of the human fetus in minute detail from the moment of conception, we know that it is impossible to tell a human from a fish in the early stages. Also, we share 90 plus per cent of our DNA with a multitude of other animals--------not justs apes but insects, birds, and fish and fowl. There are points as we grow that certain biological switches turn off and on, determining whether a hunk of life will be a man or an aligator. We all start out the same. I am both fascinated and comforted by this. It makes me very happy to look at the dogs and know how much alike we are, or to see a deer running in a field and know she and I are so closely related. It makes all the sense in the world, it is only logical.

So, I cooked today, warming up the house and making it smell good. I was at the gallery for awhile, decorating for Christmas, then at home I worked on my second puzzle for awhile. It was dark because of the storm, and although I wished I could spend some time painting, I just didn't feel like it. It seemed like a day for just wandering from one thing to another, doing laundry, picking up, listening to the sound of the first snow plow of the year lumbering up the hill. Days like this are like puncuation marks.....a little pause to take in a breath. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 03, 2006

A Week Later, Turkey Soup

I am going to have the last of the soup for supper tonight, and that will be the end of Thanksgiving. Now here comes Christmas on it's heels. I bought a small nativity set the other day at the bargain hut where I stopped with my WHCA driver. It reminds me a little of the one we always put under the tree when I was a child. That one was given to me by my maternal grandmother, and I wish I still had it. Somehow it disappeared, but not until my adult years. I had it under my own tree when my kids were little and beyond. Ben Joe chewed up the sheep, I remember, but I don't remember what happened to the rest of it.

Anyway, I like to acknowledge the fact that Christmas is a religious holiday, even though I don't believe the story. If you are going to celebrate it, you might as well remember where it came from. Harkening back to pagan rituals to excuse the fact that we do what we do without believing the story of the birth of Christ is in my mind just a silly attempt to assuage guilt. To me it is simply a social ritual that binds us together as a society. The story of Christ's birth has all the elements of a good teaching story.....child of poor and humble parents overcomes all odds and grows up to be the greatest man who ever lived. And he does it through kindness and selflessness. And as if that weren't enough, he goes on to sacrifice all to save mankind. The idea that he is the son of God is a bit much, and the enormous strings attached to his promises of eternal life have to be glossed over, but nevertheless the story has its points. Certainly it is as good, and as believable, as Santa Claus making, by comparison, pretty meaningless gifts, and taking them all over the world in one night. Santa is equally vindictive with his threats of no toys, and lumps of coal for naughty children.

The idea of the religious Christmas is a beautiful one, and had I been born into a Christian family and raised in the church, I believe I would be grateful for it today. There is nothing I can do to change what I believe, no matter how hard I try, no matter how much I wish I could. But it does me no harm to participate, and to steal a little of what could have been a different world for me. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 27, 2006


My picture of Sabrina and Jesse together failed to materialize because the battery in my camera went dead. I very much enjoyed their visit, which was a little longer than they are usually able to stay. Because of that, it felt like a real family gathering and we had a chance to spend leisurely time together that has been so rare over the years.

They arrived late on Thanksgiving day and stayed through Monday morning. On Friday we cooked deserts and then turkey, etc on Saturday. We had a very nice traditional dinner with all the trimmings. Yesterday Jesse had to write a paper for school, so Sabrina and I went shopping in Calais. We had a great time and I bought a new toaster oven to replace the one that gave up the ghost last week, as well as a few other things.

This morning we had a one-sided Christmas, with me being the recipient and them being the gift-givers. I wasn't financially able to give gifts this early and will have to send them later. I enjoyed my role to the utmost, however, receiving all kinds of wonderful things for my pantry, my bath, and other odds and ends that I never think to get for myself. Because of them I feel like a rich person all year. I also got a beautiful bowl, which I placed on the coffee table and will photograph after the batteries charge. I won't try to describe it, but it is simply gorgeous and perfectly suited to my taste and love of horses. The dogs were thrilled with new toys and home-made treats that Sabrina made out of baby food and wheat germ. Lytton has not forgotten where they are and sits looking at the cupboard where they are hidden.

I hated to see Jesse and Sabrina go, so quickly had I become accustomed to their presence in the house, the sound of them moving around, their laughter, their company. They are very companionable. I am a lucky mother. Posted by Picasa

Glass Panels

These are the panels Joanne made in exchange for the portrait I did of her. She brought them over the week-end while Jesse and Sabrina were here and Jesse helped me install them. They are really beautiful.

I wish I could say that she liked her portrait as much as I liked the windows. However, she was quite chagrined and made no effort to hide her feelings. Eventually she admitted that the work was good, but that she couldn't stand the look of "That old lady." It bothered me to have her so disappointed, even though I knew the portrait was good. She obviously has a self image quite different from the way others see her. At least I think her opinion of herself remained in tact and she was able to keep the blame where she needed it to be.....on my lack of observational skills. By the next morning she was able to agree that it was a beautiful work, even if I hadn't gotten a very good likeness, and she was glad to have it.

I need to do somwthing with the tops of my windows. They look fine without any treatment during the day, but at night they are like big black holes. My current thought is some bmboo shades.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I had dinner with Will, Lisa, and their family for Thanksgiving. It was such a nice time and an opportunity for me to participate vicariously in something I always longed for but never experienced as a child. I tried to make such times for my own family when I became an adult, but in my own mind, at least, it never came off. I loved seeing the loaded table, the candles, the pretty dishes. The traditional meal was served in abundance and appreciated to the fullest by three generations. It was a congenial group that lacked, for me anyway, the underlying resentment, tension, and rage the characterized the family gatherings of my childhood. It was pure pleasure.

Audrey, the youngest in attendance, made drawings for everyone, and this is mine. She has incredible powers of observation that most adults do not posess. Imagining how the wings of the turkey would look from the front as they folded along the side of the bird, the perspective of the beak and wattle, and how the tail feathers fan out to both sides of the turkey's neck are feats of foreshortening that many of my former adult students never could grasp. Her sense of implied form is amazing, as she draws people partly hidden behind walls or peeking out of boxes. She can draw people lying down from the vantage point of the bottom of the bed, the huge soles of their feet facing front, their small distant heads staring between the feet at the viewer. There is almost always a sense of humor lurking somewhere, too, which Audrey does not point out, but leaves for her audience to discover if they will. The joke, as the rest of the drawing, seems to be mostly for her own enjoyment. I get a kick out of my turkey with its foot resting on the rock. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Final Product

Here is Joanne's portrait after I put the finishing touches on it. I am quite satisfied now and feel that I've done my best. Now somehow we must arrange to meet and exchange painting for glass. One would think that this would be easier than it is, but a feud between Joanne and Elizabeth is causing trouble. Not only will Elizabeth not allow Joanne to stay with her as she used to when she visited Eastport, but she considers anyone who does allow Joanne to visit a traitor. Therefore Joanne and Elizabeth's mutual friend Dominic, who has been putting Joanne up since the rift, has now refused to do it anymore because Elizabeth puts up such a fuss.

Amidst all of this childish behavior, Joanne and I need to accomplish our business. I am certainly not going to allow Elizabeth to dictate how I treat Joanne, yet the situation is a little sticky. How it works itself out remains to be seen. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 19, 2006


I haven't done a puzzle for at least twenty years, but I am so suggestible that hearing my WHCA driver talk about doing them inspired me to buy one about two weeks ago. I wasn't able to think of a place where I could put a puzzle that the dogs wouldn't mess it up until yesterday. Once I thought of opening up the gate leg table and putting it in a corner of the living room, I did a little rearranging and set to work last night.

There is something very comforting about the puzzle. I had chosen a relatively simple one to avoid frustration and I found the activity of searching out the flat-edged pieces of the perimeter quite absorbing. Priscilla had given me some hints about puzzle strategy, and I proceeded with separating out pieces that, in this case, looked like they were part of the barn. What energy my mind expended in examining shapes and colors. My concentration would not have been any more focused had I been on the verge of discovering the true meaning of life. Before I knew it, over two hours had passed.

I like seeing the partly finished puzzle there, too. There is a sense of leisure time spent in old-fashioned innocence, of slow-paced activity and distant, sustainable goals. There's a belief in the inevitability of return, that temporary absense does not indicate permanent abandonment. It is a promise of the fulfillment of potential.

The puzzle was fifty cents well spent. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Joanne, Linus, and Pearl

This is the nearly completed portrait of Joanne and her dogs that I have been working on for the past several weeks. Joanne has made two stained glass panels for my front windows in exchange for the painting. I enjoyed doing it, and I will love having the windows, but every time I barter with someone when it is their idea I usually wish I hadn't. Under those circumstances, it is the other person who wants something from me, rather than vice versa. Yet refusing what they offer in return seems like a slap in the face. Therefore I feel compelled to do what they want, even if I am not crazy about what I will get in return. I much prefer working for money unless the circumstances are ideal.

Anyway, I'm pleased with the portrait and it is what I wanted it to be. Joanne wanted to "memorialize the beautiful young woman' she was, but I convinced her to let me paint her as she is now. I love the way older women look. I told her she would be beautiful anyway, and I think she is. I just hope she agrees. If nothing else, she should love the dogs, whose likeness I captured perfectly, I think. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cute Benny

Nobody can look as comfortable as Benny. Posted by Picasa

New Piano

So here is the piano I bought from Dominic. He delivered it just moments ago. I stumbled through a few pieces on it--enough to see that it is so out of tune that even I notice it. At some point I suppose I will have Greg Biss come and tune it, but I really play so poorly that it matters very little how the instrument sounds.

The addition of another piece of furniture to my already crowded dining room really cramps the space, but I am happy with my purchase. I have always had a piano, and it seems only right that one has come back into my life. I have no illusions that this time I will actually learn to play it any better than I ever have, but I like seeing it there-----a giant knick-knack.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

One Sock

This is the first sock I made with the yarn I bought during my shopping spree last week. The yarn is designed to make stripes, which, as anyone can see, it does. I made it on two circular needles, which is an interesting approach I learned about in a book I ordered last year. Now that the first one is done, the challenge is to follow through and make the other one. I was excited to see how the yarn would work, but now that I know it will be hard to work up the interest to finish the project. My last pair of socks was a year in the making, but I have more hope for these. The product is far more motivating. It will be cool to wear these. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bath Day

Two dogs had a bath today, but after that I didn't have the energy or the towels to finish the job. Benny, therefore, got away without suffering the fate of Patrick and Lytton. Both boys were quite well-behaved, but Lytton was on the edge of losing his temper by the time I finished. He snapped at me twice, and I felt that I had been duly warned. I escaped the ordeal unscathed and so did he.

Otherwise I have spent a lazy day wandering from one banal activity to the next. It is the time of year when unexpected good weather drives you to think you should be outside making use of the last warm days and yet you can't think of what use to make of them. In this frame of mind I kept looking outside for inspiration. Then, finding none, I flitted quiltily from one indoor activity to another. I got nothing accomplished except bathing the dogs, though I have a sense of
having readied the "garden" for the winter simply because I managed to plant the eight tulip bulbs David gave me before he went to Florida. I did that job in the pouring rain a few days ago, having procrastinated so long that I thought that even that would prove to be more than I could manage to do for Spring. I was right to assume that the rain had softened the ground. It was easy to dig compared with earlier when I planted my few flowers. All I had to do was make a hole about a foot square and five inches deep. I had been agonizing over this for weeks, thinking that it was such a job I would never do it. You can imagine my pride when I actually got the shovel and put myself to the task. It took me all of ten minutes, and the grand finale was my losing my balance and falling face first into the mud. Nevertheless, I ought to be rewarded by the sight of some beautiful white tulips next May. They are one of my favorite flowers.

I don't know how I got to be so lazy.

Oh, yes.........and I bought a piano. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 06, 2006

Snow and Memory

If I had had my camera with me today, I could have taken a picture of the first snow. We didn't get it here on the coast, but I drove to Bangor and as I turned inland toward that famous town of Meddybemps I began to see snow on the side of the road. The further toward Rte 9 I got, the more snow there was--enough to whiten the fields, like powdered sugar on the green grasses. The rain drops that pelted my windshield were substantive and looked slightly gelatinous, as if they had recently been snow but were melting rapidly as the temperature warmed up. It did, in fact, become a sunny day eventually. By the time I got to Bangor it was clear and dry. I had lunch with Sherillee after getting a flu shot and having blood drawn at the doctor's (to make sure my medication is not causing side effects). We met at my favorite oriental restaurant, where I gorged myself on everything fried. The lack of Chinese food is about the only complaint I have about Eastport.

As I drove back down State St. to head home, it suddenly seemed to me that I was returning to Parkview Avenue where I lived for so so long. It was almost as if the years had melted away and I was coming back from school at the University. I could picture a houseful of people as I entered through the shed door----Ben Joe barking and leaping up on me, cats on chairs and couches. I saw Alain cooking a gourmet meal for some girlfriend, something involving steamed julienned carrots tossed into a serving bowl with unsalted butter, small potatoes boiled with books everywhere, coats, towels....the light in the kitchen was soft against the (fake) brick walls, and warm. I saw Carrie with Pam and Rebecca climbing the stairs, laughing, going up to her room to talk, listen to music, amidst the posters of Duran Duran. Somewhere mixed up in this vision is Gabe sleeping on the couch under a blanket, Jesse sitting on the counter helping me make pelmeni, Andy watching me bake cookies, his chin in his hand. And Rick slinking through the back door headed for the cellar, his portfolio under his arm.

But at the light by the florist shop I put on my blinker and turned left, toward the bridge and away.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Winter Preparations

I had to face up to the fact that winter is coming and so spent some time readying the chicken house. It seems like just the other day that I tore the plastic from the windows to let in the new spring air. Today I trudged down there with my roll of plastic, my scissors, and my staple gun to put it back up. The job was relatively easy and the day was sunny and mild, but I couldn't help feeling a little sad about the end of another Fall. The years really do seem to trip over themselves as one gets older, racing by so quickly that it is impossible to get accustomed to one before it is sliding into the next. I notice this often when I write the date and realize that I never get used to what year it is anymore. I believe that we who live with such dramatic changes of season notice time passing more than those who live in a more constant climate. I remember my father once talking about the fact that if we couldn't perceive change, we would have no sense of time passing. I wonder if nothing ever changed, would there be such a thing as time? We have invented time to organize change, but if nothing changed, there would be no need for time. Well, the point is moot. Times do change.

I also put up one plastic storm window in the dining room. I hoped the job would be less than it was because I want to do all the windows in an attempt to lower my consumption of fuel this winter. I can't say that it was really difficult, but it was time consuming and troublesome. I have trouble with a lot of things that should be easier, because I am so short. Reaching the tops of the big windows in this house means climbing on furniture and balancing on window sills. Once I am there I am always dropping tacks and hammers and other necessities so that I am up and down until my energy is sapped. Nevertheless, I am blessed with determination and eventually the job will get done.

Yesterday I cooked a boiled dinner of corned beef, potatoes, carots, turnip, and cabbage. I also made a cake, which I sampled so much that by the time dinner was ready I had no appetite for it. I look forward to having it tonight. A boiled dinner seems to be a Fall ritual with me. I don't notice it until I smell it cooking, but then I realize that every year at this time I feel the urge to make one. The smell of cloves and black pepper steaming with meat and vegetables is warm and wonderful and comforting. Cold weather has its compensations.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Dog

The miracle of medicationPosted by Picasa

Monday, October 30, 2006

Portraits from the Workshop

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Portrait Workshop

The workshop I taught this week-end went very well and everyone enjoyed it. These are some of the paintings and drawings that were done, some in an unfinished state. I wandered around photographing things as they progressed, since every stage of the works are fascinating to me. As always, I was truly amazed at the accomplishments of the people who attended. They came with very little experience with painting portraits, afraid of trying to capture a likeness. Even worse, the thought of painting themselves intimidated them all the more. Many of them had not used charcoal at all, or very little. Even though they were all artists, this was all new territory for them. Bravely they dove in, with wonderful results, and left feeling accomplished and happy. Justifiably so. I had a good time, as well. There was a definite feeling of energy, camaraderie, and the common interest and endeavor that workshops provide for people of like mind. Hard work, exhilaration, defeat, pride, disappointment, trepidaton, laughter-- emotions run the gamut with everyone understanding what everyone else is feeling.

My own role is that of an orchestrator, a conductor of the symphony. I scan the room and look for the scowl, the furrowed brow, the sagging shoulders. I flit from one to the other, offering what I can to relieve the tension, to look for the good, to give the encouraging word. I watch the movements of arms and hands, I look at the size of brushes and piles of paint on palettes. It is timidity that I have to correct. Little brushes, little dabs of paint, small movements, tiny marks. Never have I had to say, "Don't be so exhuberant!", "Don't be so wild!"

It is amazing that so much of a teacher's job is to point out to people how good they are. Posted by Picasa