Monday, February 27, 2006


Here's the painting after yesterday's work. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Latest Project

Elizabeth and I are putting some work in a window in Calais. I really don't know how it came about, but somebody has an empty storefront to fill and we are going to do it. I am doing a painting of one of her sculptures and we will put them together like we did when we had our show at the gallery. This is a lot of fun for me, since I love Elizabeth's work and the women she creates in clay are wonderful subjects. Putting the three-dimensional work on a two dimensional surface is such an interesting thing visually and philosophically.

This is just the beginning of the painting, but I like it so much the way it is that I photographed it as is. I haven't decided how to work with the empty space, but it won't be very different from the way it is now. I just need to put some texture into the background, possibly suggesting plant life. Elizabeth didn't tell me what the figure is about, though it obviously has something to do with growing things. She is always saying something about the goddess-woman, the female being the source of all life. Her faces all look very much alike, very serene.

I am still working toward getting myself out of financial trouble and it has become something of a game for me. I make plans, writing figures in the little blocks on my calendar. I enjoy adding and subtracting, crossing things out, adding others. I watch the fuel gage on the furnace, smiling as I see it remaining above the half-full mark. I wrap myself in blankets when I watch TV in the evening, smug that I am conserving energy. I am making the oil I have last until I have the money to pay the last bill. I am willing to sacrifice in order to make ends meet. I am a responsible person. I am in control.

I've been watching the winter olympics this week and find I have lost my patriotism. I realize that I'm ashamed to be an American. Posted by Picasa

Monday, February 20, 2006

Dog Haircuts

 Posted by Picasa
 Posted by Picasa
The dogs got me up very early this morning, which is a rarity. They usually sleep until I wake up, no matter what time that may be. Bodily needs took over, though, and forced first Lytton and then Patrick out of bed to deposit various types of waste material on the floor of the bedroom. I tried to ignore the smell, tossing and turning. Then Patrick, who can't jump back up on the bed once he has left it, began to whine. Finally I lifted him up and again tried to get back to sleep. Lytton began to shake his head noisily, flapping his ears in the air. He has an ear infection and this is the way he tries to deal with the pain. I turned over and buried my head under the blanket. Just as I started to finally drift off, I heard Patrick retching again beside me. I shoved him to the floor, showing remarkably little sympathy for his upset stomach. The activity made Lytton think it was time to get up. He jumped off the bed enthusiastically and scratched at the door. Despite the clean-up facing me, I knew I was fighting a losing battle and reluctantly pulled myself to my feet. The messes were far more wide-spread than I had anticipated, and even the comforter needed to be put immediately into the washing machine. Yuck!!

The sun is shining and it has been a fine, cold day. I expected to start painting for a window display Elizabeth and I are doing in Calais, but the morning was taken up with a gallery meeting and the afternoon disappeared as I did first one small chore and then another "before I start the painting." These included finishing Patrick's hair cut that I started yesterday. Lytton got a haircut, too. I promised him I wouldn't cut him, but as usual I slipped up and knicked him with the scissors. He yelped, but didn't bite me, so I called the ordeal a success. They are both ragged, since I am admittedly no dog groomer, but at least most of their matts are gone. Lucky Benny has hair that stays fairly unsnarled, so is often spared the torture the others suffer.

Anyway, by the time I got around to the painting, I didn't feel like working on it anymore. I'll go open my book, "The Sin Eater." It's another one by Alice Thomas Ellis, and I read about a third of it last week. Yesterday I realized I hadn't given it the time it deserved, so I started over again. This time I am paying attention. It takes consentration and dedication to the task to read Ellis. Otherwise, there is no reason to read it. But there are tremendous rewards to the reader who is worthy of her writing.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Your #1 Match: INFP

The Idealist
You are creative with a great imagination, living in your own inner world.Open minded and accepting, you strive for harmony in your important relationships.It takes a long time for people to get to know you. You are hesitant to let people get close.But once you care for someone, you do everything you can to help them grow and develop.
You would make an excellent writer, psychologist, or artist.

Your #2 Match: INTP

The Thinker
You are analytical and logical - and on a quest to learn everything you can.Smart and complex, you always love a new intellectual challenge.Your biggest pet peeve is people who slow you down with trivial chit chat.A quiet maverick, you tend to ignore rules and authority whenever you feel like it.
You would make an excellent mathematician, programmer, or professor.

Your #3 Match: ENFP

The Inspirer
You love being around people, and you are deeply committed to your friends.You are also unconventional, irreverant, and unimpressed by authority and rules.Incredibly perceptive, you can usually sense if someone has hidden motives.You use lots of colorful language and expressions. You're qutie the storyteller!
You would make an excellent entrepreneur, politician, or journalist.

Your #4 Match: ENTP

The Visionary
You are charming, outgoing, friendly. You make a good first impression.You possess good negotiating skills and can convince anyone of anything.Happy to be the center of attention, you love to tell stories and show off.You're very clever, but not disciplined enough to do well in structured environments.
You would make a great entrpreneur, marketing executive, or actor.

Your #5 Match: INFJ

The Protector
You live your life with integrity, originality, vision, and creativity.Independent and stubborn, you rarely stray from your vision - no matter what it is.You are an excellent listener, with almost infinite patience.You have complex, deep feelings, and you take great care to express them.
You would make a great photographer, alternative medicine guru, or teacher.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Painting, Charity, and Anti-Theft

This is a picture of Judy, Lisa, and Pat working in Judy's studio. My painting is in the foreground. Sydney asked me to paint a picture of her mother with her as a baby. The painting will go in the place meant for a mirror in an antique dresser she has. I used some old photographs of the two of them to get an idea of the likeness, then posed them together. It's done now, I think, though I have to wait and see what Sydney has to say. I have never met her mother and so can't be sure if I managed to get her. It's been a fun project, and once again makes me realize how much I like doing portraits. I don't know if it's because I like doing the painting without having to think up the subject matter, or if it's just because I am good at painting people. We all like to have an excuse to do what we do well, especially if we are going to be rewarded for it. I have always liked the challenge of being given a subject and working with it in my own way. So much responsibility is taken away, since the idea for the painting is already in place, and I am free to concentrate on its execution alone. I have no burning need to say anything with my art. That makes me a craftsman, which I am old enough to believe is less important, less revered, than being an "artist." Vocabulary is important after all. We are what we name ourselves.

I am slowly climbing out of the financial hole I am in and soon I may not mention dollars and cents again for awhile. It is so dull a subject that I find myself skipping passages of my own writing when I re-read my blog entries. It's hard to admit that you bore even yourself. All of my whining has motivated Mike to send me financial aid, for which I will be eternally grateful. Nevertheless, I feel some indefineable malaise for having complained to such an extent. It is a case somewhat similar to Pat's buying the painting from me. Neither of them should ever have known my financial situation in the first place. My New England heritage does not allow for broadcasting neediness. I have broken some unspoken rule of propriety. I feel shabby and course. Nevertheless, I have accepted the help and the extra money is a financial lifesaver. I can only hope that I do not allow myself to get into such a mess again. And if I do, to I keep quiet about it.

I had the anti-theft device on my car disabled when I went to Bangor yesterday, so now it will start without having to use the remote starter. What an incredible inconvenience it was to keep track of the tiny plastic rectangle that housed the magic buttons. How obnoxious to have to fumble around for it while carrying armloads of groceries. How nerve-wracking, knowing that it was bound to get lost sooner or later. Now I can simply put the key in the ignition and turn it to start the engine. Who would have thought that such a thing could bring such joy?

The painting of Sydney and her mother follows as it is before the final yay or nay has been said. Posted by Picasa
 Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 12, 2006

 Posted by Picasa

An Approaching Storm

The storm that was predicted has arrived. It is hard to believe the weather forecast since it is so often wrong, and I would not have been surprised if it had by-passed us here on the coast. Nevertheless, here it is. The wind is howling and the snow is blowing. I ventured out to take water to the chickens, which always makes me feel like a farmer when the weather is bad. I picture myself trudging to the barn to care for the livestock, stomping my feet on the threshold before entering that space warmed by the bodies and breath of animals. It's not the way it is at the chicken house, but the dream has many advantages over the reality. When I re-enter the house it is with a sense of fulfilled responsibilty. Little is more satisfying.

My head has been full of Anna Heycroft (Alice Thomas Ellis) ever since the last book group discussion so I have been living a parallel life as I go through my routines. I am in a necessarily vague English town, either one of her characters or Anna herself. I've had the idea to write my own story, and I do it as if I were Anna, or a version of her I have formulated from reading about her and listening to Meg talk about her. The view from my window is of the English countryside or sometimes London. It resembles the landscape from the TV series "All Creatures Great and Small," since that is my only reference. There are people around me at times. I am a gracious hostess, if somewhat aloof. Part of me is always thinking about my writing. I stand a little apart, always observing.

The part of me that is not Anna keeps her regular schedule, though I may appear a little distracted due to my alternative exhisitence. I have my car running again after a dead battery forced the purchase of a new one and have driven it quite a few times now. It has no new feel, since it is only what is right for me. It is a question of returning to what should never have
been otherwise. My financial situation is still disasterous, but there is hope on the horizon with my alimony check due to arrive this week. It will not catch me up, but it will start the slow process of recovery.

I talked to Mike this morning, as we do on Sundays, and he tells me he received a ten thousand dollar bonus from his boss, with another nine thousand due in material goods to fix up his house. He has worked hard all his life and is reaping deserved benefits. I have shunned gainful employment, and am reaping my rewards as well. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Hooray and uh,oh

My student, Pat, called yesterday to ask about buying a painting. She ended up with this one. If I hadn't been so desperate for money, I would have refused to sell her anything, because I think she did it just to bail me out. This embarrasses me and makes me wish I hadn't talked so much about my financial situation in front of everyone at art group. It's too late now, but in the future I must remember how others may be hearing my tales of woe and keep my mouth shut. I talk about such things intending to be light and funny, possibly in the bargain trying to show my fortitude in the face of adversity. I feel silly when someone then offers to help me, even when it is slightly disguised. It was wonderful of Pat to do it, nevertheless, and her generosity is comfortingly amazing.

Well, all of this did not prevent me from running to the bank with my three hundred dollar check, then going directly to register my new car. After that I had it taken to the garage after a jump start and left it there overnight for inspection and repair. I made a trip to the grocery store, feeling normally affluent as I filled my basket. This morning the telephone ocmpany called to tell me they would disconnect my phone if I didn't pay something on my bill, so I told them I would send a hundred dollars. I thought my new-found wealth would cover the cost. However, when I went to get the car, the bill was over two hundred dollars. I had spent almost a hundred to register it, so my fortune was gone. Now I will have to write another bum check to the phone company or lose the phone. Well, things should get back to normal in a few weeks.

None of this dampened my spirits when I got behind the wheel of the new car. I loved it. I drove it to Harrington and back, feeling like a million dollars. I revelled in the fact that probably no one was looking at my car, that I did not stand out on the road for driving an out-of-date monstrosity. I realize that my mode of transportation probably did not concern anyone but me, but that doesn't negate my pleasure at having a non-descript car. I also enjoyed being back in a car that fits me. The sun visor actually came down low enough to shade my eyes, and I don't need a cushion to boost me up to see over the steering wheel. The front wheel drive gave me that old feeling of control that I missed with the Chrysler, which was like driving a boat.

I will say that I have enjoyed the experience of the "Capitalist Pig Car" and it has served me well. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for it, partly because of the fact that Phyllis got it for me. Her kind of charity does not embarrass me for some reason...possibly because she doesn't try to disguise it. Because of that I can be openly grateful as well. Dear Phyllis. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Even though I didn't go to the dinner last night, I had visions of Pelmeni dancing in my head and decided to make them anyway. Here are a couple of trays waiting to go into the freezer, and there are a lot more where those came from. Am I obsessed with food? Pretty much.

Making these involves first making the pasta. I meant to take a picture at that stage, but forgot. It's so, well, old-fashioned to pile flour on the counter, add salt, make a crater in the top, and break eggs into it. Then using a fork you mix it all together into a dough and knead it. I have a pasta machine so I rolled it into long sheets with that, then cut it into circles with my biscuit cutter. (How do they ever sell enough new biscuit cutters to merit manufacturing them? I've got the same one my mother used all through my childhood.) The filling is made from hamburger mixed with garlic, dill, and salt and pepper. You place a little of this mixture on each circle and seal the edges around it. Total time: about four long and boring hours. I had forgotten how much work the damn things are. To eat them, you cook them in boiling water for about eight minutes. They are though, delicious with butter and salt and pepper, or in a bowl of beef broth. Now that it's over, I'm glad I made them.
Otherwise the day was spent mostly on the phone, with Mike and then Thelma. Yesterday I called Carrie and talked with her, as well as Elizabeth in Cape Cod. I hope I didn't misunderstand my new telephone plan. Supposedly I have unlimited calling anywhere in the US for one price. I guess I will find out when I get my bill. I've never been one to make a lot of calls, but obviously I'm getting into the idea. I also filled out the worksheets necessary to become a client of the credit counseling company I found on line. They promised to save me money by consolidating all my credit card bills. I have to cancel the cards, but that is no hardship since they are all maxed out anyway.

Wouldn't you think that things would get easier financially as you get older? Not so. It's a cycle, ending up in the same place you began. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 04, 2006


It was warm enough today to let the chickens out for awhile while I redecorated their house. I had been thinking about how to rearrange things so that Hannah could fly down off the top of the little house without ramming into the wall. She is so much bigger than Demeter and Annie that she has trouble moving her bulk vertically in such a small space. Last week I leaned a piece of wooden lattice against the house as a ramp for her, but I could see she hasn't been using it. I tried to force her onto it today, and her feet slipped. It was too steep.

After I moved the table that the house sits on around several times without finding a solution, it finally occurred to me that I could put the little house on the floor. Then Hannah could simply jump off the roof. Once I had it positioned, I turned the table on its side so that two of its legs stuck out for perfect roosts. I put the lattice back against the now lower roof to provide another place to walk that is a different height. I'm hoping that the new jungle gym will keep the girls occupied and happy.

Otherwise I've spent the day picking up the studio again. It gets cluttered so fast since whenever I don't know what to do with something I stick it out there "temporarily." I unpacked the remaining tools that I got for Christmas, the ones I haven't had occasion to use yet. Someone should invent a tool for opening the packages. It is so difficult to break or tear the plastic and cardboard packing that holds the contents sealed like an Egyptian tomb that the experience brings on a fit of hysteria. I broke one pair of scissors trying to cut the plastic ties that held the long nose pliers to the card. Anyway, the tools are all in place now, sorted as to their use and ready for action. I had already ruined the neat arrangement of drill bits and screwdriver heads long ago, but I put them back into some sort of order. I even sorted out the nails and screws according to rough size. These things make me feel neat and in conrol of my environment for a short time. To culminate the experience, I will go to bed on clean sheets tonight, in a clean nightdress, having done laundry as well.

I had planned to go to the International Dinner at the Art Center tonight and promised to bring Pelmeni as my contribution to the feast. As I thought about it, though, I could picture it so clearly that there was really no need to actually experience it. I saw myself smiling and talking as I walked along the buffet table, exclaiming over the food. The decorations would be lovely. I saw my plate loaded with several different specialties, none of which I would be able to enjoy because of so many different tastes at the same time. I saw my plastic knife and fork, my paper napkin. I saw thousands of calories disappearing down my throat, while I listened to the jovial chatter around me. I would have contributed to the chatter, too, when I could, agreeing that Bush's State of the Union address the other night was absurd, that LNG must be stopped, that this doesn't feel at all like February, that fuel prices are ridiculously high. It would have been a fine time, and when it was over I would come home and watched Court TV. I decided to go right for the TV. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Pepper Jelly

A good thing to do on a cold day (and every day is cold) is to make jelly. David left me a bunch of jalepeno peppers that I hadn't used, so I decided to turn them into my favorite pepper jelly. From what I can gather by licking the spoon, it is delicious.

The first time I had this kind of jelly was in New Mexico when I visited Don for the first time. We went to a store in the Old Town section of Albuquergue and there was a store there called Chili Peppers. There was a tray of crackers and a bowl of jelly to try. This was good strategy, since I'm sure few people would take the chance on buying it without tasting it first. I know I wouldn't. I pictured it being like a mixture of ground black pepper in a gelatin-like solution. Much to my suprise and delight it was very tasty and I bought some. Since then I have rarely had any. One doesn't find it in the grocery store, at least not around here. The sight of those hot peppers staring at me every time I opened the refrigerator must have stimulated some dormant synapse to fire and I thought of the jelly.

What a miracle tool the internet is. The thought no sooner entered my mind that I was able to look up the recipe and find several different versions of pepper jelly. In times past, I would have had to search through my cookbooks, and even then I don't think I would have been able to find one. So now the house is full of the wonderful sweet-and-sour smell of sugar and vinegar, and warm from the boiling of jars. How easily the world can be made wonderful. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


It's been a while since I decided to make these wool socks, but I finally have one of them done. I lost my contact lense a few weeks ago and couldn't see well enough to knit until it was replaced. Then I returned to the job sporadically. Now that I have one done, I don't feel inclined to continue, but it's one of those things that one really ought to see through to the end. One sock is really not much use, and the time invested is really a waste if I don't keep going. Well, we will see how much this motivates me.

I have turned the thermostat down to 55 most of the time, and wrote a bum check to cover my fuel bill. Oil was delivered today and I was rewarded by the fact that I have consumed only 114 gallons since the last delivery. I think the time period is about the same as last time, when I consumed 175 gallons. While I am not fond of wearing a hat and gloves in the house and sitting wrapped in a blanket, at least it has done some good. Once I get through this winter I will have to do some serious thinking about my financial situation as it pertains to living in this house. When I moved here I thought it would be my last move, and I still hope that it might be. Nevertheless, I may find it impossible to stay here. It's something I don't want to consider now, since I have a year's lease and intend to live it out. Leaving has consequences that I choose not to entertain unless I absolutely have to, so I go on as if nothing will change.

I turn my attention to less gloomy things and look forward to going to an art exhibit tomorrow in Machias with Elizabeth, Patty, and Lisa. I remember reading an article several years ago in The Utne Reader called "The Nouveau Poor." The acompanying picture was a cartoon showing a woman sitting in a seat at the opera with a box of popcorn. It was about the new wave of divorced women who have acquired the tastes and sensibilities of the upper middle class but now find themselves without the means to indulge them. I've often felt that I fit into that category. Downward mobility is a strain, no matter how adaptable we think we are. Still, I can go to an art show, even if I don't have the money to buy the gas to get there. My companions are in the same boat, and we will share expenses. It's the way things are. Posted by Picasa