Saturday, September 29, 2007

Street Scene

I'm using up all the extra square canvases I have from the Machias Show painting street scenes. This is the third one after Adams Street and Wilson Street. I don't know the name of this street. It's one of those that escaped the 911 mandate a few years ago. When I first moved here there were almost no street signs, but when we got 911 emergency service, the town had to identify all locations. I took my camera with me last week to photograph this place after I discovered it on a dog walk. It's not even five minutes from my house, yet I had never ventured up that hill. It gave me a view I had never seen before. The sun was getting low in the sky, as it does now at about four-thirty, casting the long shadows I love so much. The tree in the background is beginning to turn color. Fall is here.

Another sign of Fall is the harvest of all those backyard vegetable gardens that appear every Spring. My new neighbors presented me with a bag full of new potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and the giant zuccini so prevalent in September. It was a very nice gesture and I must remember to reciprocate with eggs, once the chickens have produced enough. They don't lay as many this time of year as they do earlier.

Two nights ago we had a huge rain storm, as did many areas along the coast, and I woke up feeling wet sheets on my feet. There was a leak in the ceiling and big drips were still falling. I imagine the place on the roof where the shingles blew off last year is the problem. I called Will, glad that it wasn't my responsibility. There's a lot to be said for not owning a house.
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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Amazing Printer

I bought a new printer last week and have been fooling around with its various functions. The thing continues to amaze me. I scanned this old photo into the computer and published it here. It's me as a senior in high school with my boyfriend, Don. We are about to leave for the senior prom. The picture was taken forty-four years ago.

I can remember that night pretty clearly. It's the same brain behind the same eyes, looking out from a very different body. I remember that red dress, bought especially for the occasion, along with the long white gloves. I spent much of the afternoon getting ready, sitting under the dryer with big rollers in my hair in order to achieve the bouffant style of the time. Don picked me up wearing a rented tuxedo and bearing a wrist corsage--an orchid. We went to the country club where the dance was held in his father's Plymouth and had a wonderful, magical time.

I am still in touch with Don. We struck up a long-distance relationship about fifteen years ago. We've visited each other a few times, flying across the country in order to do so. Our teen-age romance became a friendship based on a common history. We shared the experience of first love and that has bound us together despite our separate lives. Now we share news of the weather, the political situation, our daily routines. It's companionable, and in many ways extraordinary. It keeps us connected to the people we were then. Almost all of our lives have been lived apart from one another. All we have in common took place in less than a year. We never talk about that time, but it's the glue that keeps us together.

I don't know what else to think about that. It just feels important.
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Thursday, September 20, 2007


It's quite interesting to look at the painting alongside the photo.
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For a change, I decided to try painting in watercolor. Sabrina took this picture over the week-end while it was raining and I downloaded it so I could paint it. I couldn't have chosen a more difficult subject to try out my old skills. Watercolor is something you have to keep at, and I haven't done it since I went to Rockport a year and a half ago. Even then I couldn't do it very well.

This painting looks a little better in the photo than in life because you can't see all the labored brushwork that is so disasterous in watercolor. I did manage to get the idea of the wet road, but it was far from spontaneous. I am disappointed with my effort and don't know if I want to work at regaining the skill I used to have. I have come to rely on the forgiveability of other mediums. It seems like defeat to give up, but is my former expertise worth fighting for? I think I will paint this same picture in oil and see how I feel. If I run true to form, I won't rest until I have done at least something in watercolor that proves I have not permanently lost it.

I am distracted by the sound of Beethoven's Symphonie Patetique on my CD player. It is beautiful beyond words. I have been particularly sensitive to music lately. I've been listening to The Psaltery on the tape player in the car, masochistically turning up the volume and immersing myself in words that cause me to feel nostalgic, synical, and teary. I am overcome with grief for the subjects of the songs, for the people who wrote the words, for myself, and for the human race.
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Late Bloomers

I've waited all summer for these flowers to bloom. Up to now, just a few blossoms have appeared in the lush foliage. I thought perhaps all the energy had gone into the greenery, but now that summer is over and other cosmos are starting to wilt, mine have come into their own. I have always loved Cosmos and wanted some. Lisa started these from seed and gave them to me in the Spring. They were about four inches tall. Now they are as tall as I am. I am happy to see them every time I come and go from the house.

There are bulbs for sale at the IGA now and I must remember to get more tulips, and some daffodils. It seems like just a few weeks ago that I was marveling over the huge white tulips David gave me last year. I'm not sure if adding to them will make next Spring more or less dramatic. My slowly growing garden is at this point not the sum of its parts, but a number of individual plants. Every one is met with delight and watched over with rapt attention. Will the experience be as rewarding to me when I switch my allegiance to the whole? ....when the focus is on how the individuals function within the group? Could I then callously rip one up from the ground because it was crowding another?

I don't know what kind of a gardener I will be, but right now I am thrilled by every single stem and blossom and leaf.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Visit from Jesse and Sabrina

It was a short visit, but Jesse and Sabrina were here from Friday night to Sunday morning. They brought me this table for the deck along with dishes and glasses for outdoor eating. I have often longed for a table outside where I could put my book or a drink while I sit there. They always seem to think of a great gift......this was a belated Mother's Day present, so they said.

The weather has turned cooler and the trees are beginning to look tired. The Fall has been dry and the foliage looks parched rather than colorful, but probably some trees will put on some kind of display before the season is over. I am not particularly fond of Fall anymore, since the summers don't seem so hot. I don't know if my age or the climate is responsible. The garish colors of the trees is usually beyond my idea of respectability..........the death of the leaves overstated. Once, though, when Thelma and I were on the way to a Fall painting workshop in New York, we came across a sight that took my breath away with its beauty. From the top of a hill we were able to see miles into the distance, and the whole world of foliage before us was a blazing red. It went on forever without a single dot of yellow or green. At least that is the way I remember it, as does Thelma. Over the years since, we have spoken of it. Thelma told me that she later took her husband back to the same spot to show him the sight, but it wasn't the same. We were lucky to have caught it. It is truly amazing how many things in nature seem not to repeat themselves. Nothing is ever exactly the same. It's important to be vigilant and notice the details.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Back to Pastel, and New Furniture

I had prepared some pieces of paper for new pastels quite awhile ago but didn't get a chance to do anything with them until today at Sydney's. I took a photo of the little historical site near where I live and used it as subject matter. I must say that I didn't get up much enthusiasm, and even though the result is pleasing I have no feeling for it. Somehow I feel that I'm being disloyal to Epping Road and to the emotional involvement I had with it. It's tied up with Alice, too, which I find is still a wound only superficially healed.
Yesterday was hectic in that despite periods of drenching rain I insisted on bringing my newly purchased furniture home. Will had agreed to deliver it, but forgot, so I got Dominic to bring his truck over and together we loaded the chair and couch and brought it to the house. He also delivered my other chair to Judy. I am very pleased with the scale of this furniture in my room. It is also a good color and quite comfortable. It's not a style I would have picked out in a store, but it serves the purpose and I'm happy. It's future may be limited, but it's always fun to get new stuff.
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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Estate Sale and Money

I bought these two things at the estate sale of a local business man. Not only that, but I bought a chair and loveseat. The entire tab was about thirty dollars. It's almost ridiculous that I should be buying furniture again after just getting my new huge chair. The chair has been too difficult to deal with.........I talked about that before, I think. I gave the chair to Judy, who will give it a good home. Her dog doesn't sit on the furniture with her, and the space is probably big enough for her and her two cats. I am pleased to have a standing mixer, even if it is older than I am. It still works and is a relic of sorts. It even has a juicer (though I rarely squeeze fruit). The binoculars are very powerful and the eye pieces adjust the focus separately (though I have only one useful eye ).

Now I am back to my usual poverty state after paying bills with my workshop money, but I
did make some purchases I otherwise wouldn't have been able to make, treating myself in a modest way. I have learned to be moderate in my spending when I get extra money. I have also learned to appreciate a bargain. I am just as happy with my thrift shop wardrobe and yard sale goods as I once was with new things. In fact, I think I may enjoy them even more. When I was a middle-class married woman, I always wished I had more buying power than I did. I wanted to have more and do more. I am now quite content. I can't think of the last time I wanted something I couldn't have. Part of that comes from less exposure to the material things of life. There are no stores here with merchandise to inspire greed, no neighbors with lifestyles I envy. We are all pretty much the same..........almost a classless society. Even though there are wealthy people here, there are few ways for them to display it. They are in the minority, and if any segment of the population is looked apon with some negative prejudice, it is them.............not out of envy, but from the different values they appear to have.

In any case, my living room will be transformed again today.
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Saturday, September 08, 2007

Paint Eastport Day

It has been a long day, but all went well for our annual Paint Eastport Day. There was so much to do that I spent only a few hours actually painting. The rest of the time was a blurr of activity involving many trips between the gallery and the Art Center with various supplies. There are a few chores that only I can do because others have such a fear of electronic devices. Everything that involved the computer, the printer, or the credit card machine fell to me. I have no hesitation when it comes to unplugging things and plugging them in elsewhere. This seems to strike terror in the hearts of most of our members, so I was kept busy pressing keys and buttons, hooking things up and unhooking them again.

We were pretty well orgainized this year compared to times past, especially where the reception was concerned. The food and drink for the gala is a monumental task and usually ends up being handled in a very slip-shod way. No one has really been in charge and it's only with last minute individual effort and a lot of luck that we've managed to get it together. This year, one person was in charge of the refreshments and what a difference it made. Instead of chaos, there was calm. The table was loaded with contributions that Judy had solicited and made sure were delivered as promised. She made a lot of the food herself, arranged for plenty of soft drinks and was an amazing display of organization. A lot of the hysteria that ordinarily characterizes the Paint Eastport Day auction was thus eliminated. All of her work kept her from painting, but it was certainly time well spent and appreciated by all. The only disgruntled person was David O, who was the master of ceremonies. The requested microphone failed to appear and he had to yell over the din to keep things in order with the bidding and the distribution of the purchases. When I finally found the person responsible and she set out to rectify the problem, he claimed it was too late--his voice was already over-strained.

The auction was very well attended, as it always is, and all the paintings were bought. My offering, which I forgot to photograph even though I had my camera, was a small downtown scene including the Tides Institute and The Commons. The man who bought it sought me out and spent some time talking about the painting. He is a lawyer from Bangor and also bought Lisa's work.

Karen came and stayed with me for two nights, though we didn't get a chance to visit as much as I would have liked. She hasn't been to Eastport since last Paint Eastport Day, but she came for the portrait workshop I taught on Thursday and Friday and then to contribute to the auction. The workshop went well as I recall. It seems to have gotten lost in all the activity. I had five or six students and they all did well and had fun. We went out to eat at the end of the second day and a good time was had by all, including me.

It has been an exhausting week, but with it comes the knowledge that life will smooth out now. My duties at the gallery will become less demanding and less frequent until eventually they will pretty much disappear for the winter, or perhaps for good, if I'm not president again next year.
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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Change of Pace

I can't remember why I decided to paint this picture. It's from a photograph I took just before David and I got on the boat to go to Summerkeys. I was very intrigued with the idea of painting the reflection of the boat. That part was fun and interesting, but after that it was quite tedious. I haven't painted a big canvas for quite awhile. This one is 18x24, I think, and it seemed like it took forever. I guess I like the results and I will now have something to put in the last theme show at the gallery.
It is going to be a busy week in the art world, or at least my art world. I will be hanging the new show tomorrow. Then for the next two days I am teaching another portrait workshop. After that is Paint Eastport Day, and then the Salmon Festival. Jesse and Sabrina plan to visit for that. It seems like such a short time ago that I was extolling the virtues of Spring, and now Fall is upon us. The Salmon Festival signifies the end of the season, and from now on the summer activities will dwindle and disappear. The cycle of life in Eastport goes on.

As I walked the dogs a short while ago, I found myself immersed in my surroundings. The weather, cool and breezy, gave me energy. The long sharp shadows sprawled across my path and created beautiful contrasts of light and dark. My mind wandered over the things around me, and my thoughts went no further than describing what I saw. I noted the new siding being put on the house down the street approvingly. The hydrangea bush in front of Greg's house caused me to think that the white blossoms were the Fall version of lilacs, just as pretty. I observed the construction at the bottom of the hill where a foundation is being built under the yellow house, checking the progress with benign interest. The ferry was just coming in as I walked by and I watched it dock, then moved on to mentally appreciate Lynn's new brick steps and her "rock" garden, which really is made up of nothing but light and dark rocks. I took a moment to look out over the water as I made my way up the street toward the house and saw how incredibly blue it is this time of year. The dog a few houses down barked as he always does when we passed, but Lytton and Patrick took no notice.

I don't think that most people have the luxury of immersing themselves in the present as I do on days like this. The terrible things that are happening all over the world don't touch me while I look at this world that I live in. I feel glad that I don't have to notice those awful things, that I am beyond looking, beyond turning myself inside out with rage at the fact that they exist. Eastport comforts me and protects me. It makes it possible for me to live this part of my life in a very small way.
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The Survivor

I didn't put this fruit painting in the food show for fear that I would lose it. It's a good thing because all of the others are gone. It's too bad I can't be glad to sell them, but neither the money nor the fact that others liked them make up for the fact that I've lost them.
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