Saturday, July 28, 2007

New Paintings

These are the three paintings I have been working on since I was free of the Machias exhibit. I wanted to do scenes of Eastport for none other than their commercial value. Still, I found myself enjoying what I was doing. I have another one under way of the street where I live. I'm trying oil paint again, and the top picture is done in that medium. Right now I like the acrylics better, but there is a hint of challenge in trying to master something relatively new. I also want to try pastels again, with this subject. At the moment pastels belong to Epping Road, but I believe that I enjoyed the medium itself outside of the subject matter. It's impossible to say right now. I am still in the throws of Alice's departure and associate that series with her. It remains to be seen what kind of effect that will have on my use of pastels. Will I use them fondly, or will I be overwhelmed by the association of loss? Or will I be able to divorce them entirely from their original use and move on?
I don't know.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Lubec Concert

I haven't taken the ferry to Lubec for the Summerkeys concert for a long time, but last night I decided to go with David to hear Charles Jones. The concerts are held in a church with little ventilation. On summer nights it becomes suffocating with the heat of many bodies. This has discouraged me in the past and over-ridden my desire to hear the performers. Nevertheless, I decided to brave the heat and take advantage of David's offer to fund my trip over the bay. The ride on the boat is such a pleasure that immediately upon pulling away from the dock I was happy I had come. The concert was very enjoyable, mostly because of the pianist's skill rather than the music itself. There was nothing on the program that would have drawn me there, but George Jones was worth the trip no matter what the music was.

Coming back across the water afterwards is wonderful, watching the lights of little Eastport shining out into the dark. As we approach, it is possible to pick out the steeple of the Congregational Church, then a few of the store fronts. Our gallery window lights glow out onto the street and even down to the water. Eventually we turn around the end of the breakwater and nestle in amoungst the other boats. We climb out onto the dock as best we can, as most of us are not as young and spry as we might be, using our captain's arm for balance.

I am fascinated with the water beside the boat as we chug home. It seems very thick and heavy, spreading out around us as we pass. We are just skimming the surface and disturb what goes on there in the ocean very little with our engine's propellar. We are irrelevant to the life that passes below us. Nevertheless, I always feel that I belong there in some basic way, maybe on a molecular level. I never fail to think that drowning would be my preferred way to die, a natural way. It is almost as if living on the land is a temporary state and that sliding into the water would be returning to a place where I had been for eons before, and would be for eons to come.

They say that the human body is 90% water. It is quite easy to imagine disintegrating into the ocean without changing much, to just slip out of that 10% of matter that keeps us from flowing along with the waves.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007


It's not just outside that things are blooming.
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Sunday, July 15, 2007

New Chair

Well, the picture is blurry because I clicked before the zoom was ready----but this is a new chair I bought a week or so ago with money I got for selling a painting. I have begun to feel claustrophobic in my house because there is so much STUFF everywhere. I decided first to move an enormous plant that seemed to be taking over the house. Then there was so much light coming through the windows that my couch and love seat showed off their shredded apholstery and dog-filthy colors. So I decided to get rid of my sofa and love seat and replace them with the kind of chair I have wanted for a long time. I thought this would make the living room look bigger. Of course I couldn't afford the kind of chair I have wanted for a long time, so I settled for this one. It is close to what I wanted, but I was hoping for more comfort and a matching ottoman. I rarely seem to find just what I want, and even when I do it turns out to be less than I thought it would be. So I'm not unhappy with my purchase. I put the sofa and love seat outside with a sign that said "free" and it was gone the second day.

There are a couple of problems associated with this chair. One is that there is not really enough room for me and all three dogs to fit without some jostling for position. Usually Benny ends up looking for an in while Patrick and Lytton settle themselves on either side of me. He paces for awhile, watching for an opening. Eventually he jumps up on the chair nearby, then slinks onto the table between the two chairs. He sits there nonchalantly, hoping for no consequences. When it looks like he is safe, he slowly puts one front foot and then the other on the arm of the new chair. If the dog nearest that arm doesn't chastise him, he jumps onto the back of the chair and lays down behind my head.

At this point another problem surfaces in that I can not get out of the chair without disturbing everyone. The seat is so long that only my feet hang over the edge of it. Therefore I have to heave myself forward until I can reach the floor. Since I have to get up and down several times in the course of an evening for one reason or another, the dogs all jump down and the same ritual of finding a spot has to take place again.

As for the claustrophobia, I have achieved a sense of more space by moving some big funiture around to different rooms and putting a lot of plants out in the studio. That meant totally rearranging the studio. I put a lot of the stuff that was out there up in the spare bedroom, along with a bookcase and a bureau. I have achieved a more serene atmosphere, especially in the dining room, which was the most crowded. The added bonus is that I had to wash the floor in places that had been covered with furniture. Therefore all the floors got washed, giving an unusual sense of cleanliness to the place.

It's amazing how one thing like moving a plant starts a chain reaction that ends up changing the whole house. I could describe a whole existential philosophy that is illustrated by this simple fact, but I guess I won't.
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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My New Car and news of Alice

When Carrie and Gabe came up for the fourth, they brought Carrie's old car for me. She got a new one and offered to let me have the one she has had for several years. I am already in love with it---it so so much nicer than anything I have had for a long time. In fact it has some luxuries I have never had, such as air conditioning, a CD player, a moon roof. It has a lot of miles on it, and it burns oil, so there may be major problems with it. Nevertheless, I have adopted it with all my energy. I asked the mechanic yesterday about the oil, and he didn't seem overly pessimistic. I will take it in for him to look at when next I have some money. Meanwhile, I am cruising back and forth to Bangor in air conditioned comfort. The car feels like a sports car to me, hugging the road. I love the five-speed transmission.

My trips to Bangor have been to visit Alice at the rehabilitation center where she is now staying. She is finally getting better, but it is a very long and hard recovery. She is so thin that I wonder how she can stand up. She does, in fact, have to use a cane. She still has oxygen all the time and drags the tank behind her when she walks. Physically, she barely resembles the woman I knew as my therapist. Her hair is cropped very short and straight for ease of care and to help with the heat. It is a difficult situation for me, reconciling the Alice from before and the Alice that I know now. Although the way I knew her is still very much in evidence, there is now another dimension to her. I see her interact with her caretakers and see a soft, vulnerable person who still manages to command respect and maintain control. She holds on to her dignity so admirably that I am in awe.

I am so glad that she is recovering, and yet I know that every day that passes brings us closer to the move to her daughter's and out of my life. I see her getting stonger and I rejoice, while at the same time I dread her leaving me with such fervor that her incapacity is almost my salvation. It's a hard thing to think about, and I try not to.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

July Fourth

Last year the 4th of July was a little less than it should have been. The parade wasn't as good as usual and the fireworks had to be canceled because of the fog. This year made up for it on both counts. The whole celebration was wonderful, with lots of floats, marchers, and noise. The fireworks were spectacular--the best I remember. David and I went to the pancake breakfast at the airport first thing in the morning. Then I came home to wait for Carrie and Gabe, who arrived a few hours later. We all went to the parade, looked at all the vendors, ate junk food, and watched the fireworks from the rocks along the water. There were huge crowds at all the events, as is the tradition in Eastport, and both Carrie and I mentioned independently how interesting it is that nobody doesn't like foreworks. The ooh's and ahhh's resonate as one voice, and for once every person is having the same appreciative reaction at the same time. It is rare that we are all in such harmony. The huge battleship (one comes every year) provided the backdrop for all the events, and men and women in their white uniforms could be seen all over town, enjoying the festivities.

Now the town is pretty much back to normal, for summer. The tourists are here in droves. Our population must swell to four times its normal 1500 or so during the season. We are quaint and interesting to the visitors, who seem to view us as relics from another time. We speak with an unusual accent, and live in cold weather they imagine to be much worse than it actually is. There is no McDonalds or Dunkin' Donuts, no department store or drugstore. There is no movie theater, no internet cafe. They believe there is nothing to do here. They marvel at what they think is our way of life. We amuse them, and they amuse us as long as they don't stay too long.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Most Prolific Lilac, and Chicken Pen Addition

I expanded the chicken pen so that it is twice the size that it was. When I took down the old fence that divided the two sections, the chickens lined up along the edge of the new area, but wouldn't go into it. They walked up and down, stretching their necks to look and sample the grass. After several attempts to convince them to cross the line, I finally grabbed some chicken feed and enticed them to venture forth. Once they realized that the space was theirs, they loved it. For the two days that it has been there, they have not wanted to spend any time in the old area, which has been scratched bare. They like the grassy area and spend their time lying in it of eating the greenery.

Today I made a good gate using the wood I once tried to use for a ladder for the chickens. This gives a stable piece of fence that I can open and close. I secure it with a bungee cord, which is much better than curling the floppy wire around a post like I did before. Feeling accomplished, I turned to look at my late-blooming lilac which is beside the pen. It is loaded with blossoms which are just beginning to fade, long after the rest of the lilacs in Eastport have died. It is a huge tree heavily laden with blooms, dragging spring into the summer.

The fourth of July looms. The normally empty streets are beginning to fill up with the cars of visitors here for the festivities. The road out onto the breakwater is blocked off to traffic so that vendors can set up their fried dough, hot sausage, funnel cake, lemonade, and other festival food booths. Flags fly from the telephone poles and signs advertise the pancake breakfast or the strawberry shortcake sale on the library steps. Everywhere there is evidence of preparation . It's the familiar atmosphere of Eastport readying itself for the huge celebration.

David and I went to the Moose Island Follies tonight. My enthusiasm for the town, my love of the people here, was brought to the fore once again as I marvelled at the talent evident here. I marveled at the three girls I have watched grow from babies barely able to hold their violins, into beautiful, accomplished musicians. What gorgeous girls, what incredible talent. How could I not have hope for the future when I see them, or the little boy who hugged me at age five, now a young man getting ready to leave for college, performing a haunting cello piece. Other young people worked alongside the adults as actors, performers, stage hands, food servers, and any other jobs that needed doing. It makes me worry that the world may not be worthy of them, that things may have already gone to far to be salvaged, that generations of human beings have ruined the earth for them and they may not have futures they ought to be able to take for granted.
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