Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Beds

At the drugstore today I saw these dog beds on sale for half price. Patrick, Lytton, and Benny have used their old beds for a long time and I decided they deserved a change. Obviously they knew what they were for and adapted immediately.
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Incredible Chicken Melon

This is what we had for Christmas dinner. It's a very complicated and time-consuming recipe made by removing the skin of a whole chicken in one piece. The meat is removed from the bone and processed with other ingredients into a delicious concoction. That is then put back in the skin and molded into a melon shape. It's wrapped in cheesecloth and tied, then baked in the oven.

David has no qualms about diving into the creation of a culinary masterpiece when the occasion merits it, and this was certainly an impressive and wonderfully special treat. The supporting accompaniments were provided by Thom, with a few contributions from me. It was a wonderful meal and a wonderful day.

I am so lucky to be included in such a production of pure celebration. All worries and problems and unpleasantness, big and small, are suspended. Nothing matters except the taste and texture of the feast, the good feeling and camaraderie of the group, the enjoyment of exactly that unfettered moment that we allow nothing to spoil. If we ever lose the ability to give ourselves that gift, we certainly will have lost what makes us singularly human.

At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
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Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in the Coop

The girls check out their Christmas present.....a fresh bale of hay. At first they were afraid to step in it, so I had to drive them off the ladder. They are accustomed to wood shavings and I suppose the hay looked like very untrustworthy footing. Once they got into it, though, they realized that not only was it nice and soft, but it made a good snack as well.

Though it would not be my favorite way to spend Christmas morning, cleaning out the chicken coop was a rewarding job. Though they didn't show much gratitude, I had that solitary pleasure of being able to give without thanks. Animals are so good at accepting gifts as if they were only their due.
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Crib for His Bed

Where there's a will, there's a way. I cut up some construction paper and made a bed for my Jesus stand-in.

The picture sucks because I had to go back to my old camera. The computer has decided not to recognize the new one.
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Monday, December 21, 2009


I wasn't going to bother with my Christmas Tree this year, but changed my mind. I spent almost all day doing this, feeling much more nostalgic than I might have thought. Most of my decorations were bought all at once at Main Street Discount a few years ago. I have lost all the traditional stuff we had as the kids were growing was stolen by the woman who took care of my mother before she went into the nursing home.

I do have a few things, though that I feel strongly about. Thelma gave me a few ornaments to remind me of her. She loved Christmas and always had three or four trees, each decorated in a different theme. I thought of her as I put the ornaments on my little tree and felt sad, but glad I had them. My paper mache reindeer is a reminder of Alice, who lent me hers as a model so I could make one like it. Also from her I have a little stuffed moose she gave me one year. Sydney made some cards that I use as decorations, and Sherillee gave me a homemade ornament.Toni gave me the angel for the top of the tree, Jesse gave me the grinch. I still have the stockings that Mike and I had as children growing up, but I left them in the box.......mice had long since eaten the toes out of them. I like to think of them making nests out of the material.

My nativity scene is a strange (for me) nod to the religious origins of Christmas. I used to have the one I got from my maternal grandmother the year I was born, but that was stolen, too. I bought these figurines at a junk shop a few years ago, and the stable at the thrift shop a couple of years ago. Significantly perhaps, the group of figures was missing the baby Jesus and someone had replaced it with a tacky plastic facsimile. Last year I used it, but today I decided to correct the problem. I found one of my mother's old porcelain dolls that sort of went with the rest of the family, if somewhat out of scale (He is the most important one after all). The doll is a girl and was wearing a frilly dress with lace on it, probably made by my mother. I took the dress off and wrapped it around the baby backwards, in a more macho style befitting a boy. So far I have not figured out a bed for it, so I laid the doll unceremoniously on the floor in front of the audience of parents, wise men, a shepherd, some sheep and a donkey.

I like the Christmas story and each year have hope that I can give up enough of my logical way of thinking to believe in it.
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Thursday, December 17, 2009

New Shell

Here's the newest shell block and one of its incarnations.........
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Monday, December 14, 2009


When the dogs and I headed down Clark St this morning I saw a crow sitting in the small tree at the edge of the cliff. He was making a lot of noise, though I never did see what he was talking about. As I got closer, I saw there were more crows nearby, and eventually it seemed like the sky was full of them. What a sight it was. The opportunity to see flight at such close range is rare, and I stood watching them for quite awhile. It looked absolutely effortless, yet their movements were so fluid and choreographed it looked as if they had been long practicing a particular ballet in order to perfect it.

When I went back after getting the camera, the sight was not nearly as spectacular. Most of the birds were gone, replaced by as many seagulls on and around their customary spot on Clark's Ledge. They are beautiful and serene as they bob in the waves around the small piece of rock that is still protruding from the water at high tide. The sentinel crow was still there, though, so I snapped his picture. He flew off as I inched closer and closer to get a better shot.

I can't imagine how wild birds survive the cold......I wonder if they live in any kind of comfort, or if suffering is simply the fate they accept as "life." Finding shelter and food and safety is all that their lives are about. They can't even appreciate how neautiful they are in the eyes of us humans. What do they care? They are busy staying alive, not even able to wonder why.
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

More from the Mad Printmaker

Necessity is the mother of invention, so the two bottom prints are the 2nd and 3rd version of a failed first try. It's such fun to make something out of a mistake........and have the result be better than the original idea. I'm quite enamoured of both of these. The first one, well, it's sea shells..........
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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Snow That Means Business

It's hard to see in the picture, but Lytton went out for only about a minute and came back looking like a snow man, or snow dog I suppose. Patrick was also covered with snow, but he shook himself off before I could get the camera. Yesterday I floundered around in the dark to install the heater for the chickens' water, and checked this morning to make sure the coop hadn't burned down (it hadn't). I also left the gates to their yard open, having learned last year that gates freeze closed and then are almost impossible to open. I parked my car in Diana's driveway because a combination of wind off the water and the way the town plow blade angles snow doesn't accumulate there nearly as much as around the corner.

I feel smart and in control.........
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Christmas Show

Lisa is having a show of small works at her gallery Friday in order to grab some Christmas shoppers. I didn't really have anything small (cheap) but I went through all the watercolors I had stashed in my portfolio and cut them to fit the frames I found at the dollar store about a month ago. Lots of times a piece of a bigger painting looks entirely new. I'm very pleased with these, and if they don't get sold, I'll have a start on next summer. Or I could put them on my own wall.....I like them.
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Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Next Day

Here's the same place I photographed last night as it looked this morning when I got up.
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December Rose

Thom picked this yesterday from the bush in his front yard and we used it as a centerpeice for our dinner. It is like seeing the sun at night or the stars during the day. The seasons have gotten out of sinc somehow when this rose blossoms in the middle of Eastport's first snow. There's no way of knowing when you will see something you have never seen before and probably will never see again. It certainly is a lesson in keeping vigilant, watching what happens in front of you, or you might miss something spectacular
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Saturday, December 05, 2009

First Snow Plus Woodcuts

The first snow isn't much at this point, though the weather reporters are all excited and predicting as much as seven inches. The picture shows the house on the corner opposite me with the fine flakes coming down (thank goodness I learned how to get pictures of falling snow). The dogs weren't happy to go out in it, but it seemed like an expected friend tentatively knocking on the door.

The rest are of my recent woodcut endeavors. I haven't tired of them yet. I took a picture of the block itself this time because they are always at their best before actually being put on paper. The other one is the printed image using chine colle to represent the "headache" in this re-vamping of an old painting called "Self-Portrait with Bell Curve and Headache." I brought it up to date with a revised image of myself and a new headache representation. I won't bother to explain it, but it does have a meaning to me that was more appropriate then than now.

So what? I am more boring now and not as inspiring to myself as subject matter as I once was.
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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Full Moon

Here's what was in front of me as I drove down Clark St on the way home from Harrington. I parked the car and hurried out with my camera to catch the scene. There's Campobello in the distance, part of Canada, where it is an hour later than where I stand, and the two islands in the foreground are part of Eastport (which is made up of five islands).

When you can see the daily workings of nature, it seems almost insane to think that we as human beings have put a boundary out there in the water and then made all kinds of rules and regulations surrounding it. The landscape is so utterly oblivious..............
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Doll Print

I spent a lot of time just cutting out the background on this. I learned a lot about process with this image. The big lesson was that it's not necessary to abandon a print because it doesn't look good on the first proof. I was surprised at how much I could change things as I went many corrections I was able to make even though there is no way to "erase" anything. I see two more small changes I want to make before I call it done, but I am generally pretty happy with the results.

The more of these I do, the more ideas I come up with for more, though I must say that I am basically reworking old themes. The new medium just allows me to turn over the same old rocks........
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

On With the Woodcuts

I'm doing a linoleum print of the dolls I'm painting, but got sick of the tedium of it. I decided to do a quick woodcut for relief. Already I had forgotten how much easier it is to cut the soft wood and how much bolder the image seems. This took about a half hour. It's not a new's from a self-portrait monoprint I did when I was in school. It looks nothing like me, or even the way I looked then, but I wasn't going for a likeness and I really like the print.

Typically, I have begun to use the backs of old proofs to try out the new ones. My meager supply of suitable paper for both proofs and prints is disappearing alarmingly. Not knowing how long my interest will last, I'm not anxious to put money into supplies. Time will tell.

Winter seems to be on the horizon. It's cold and damp and dreary. The day is seeming long, since I got up an hour earlier than normal (misread the clock). After the activity of the last several days, I'm feeling lethargic. I have a movie from Netflix that has been threatening to get lost in the coffee table clutter for several weeks. Perhaps I'll break tradition and turn on the TV during the daylight hours, settle down with the dogs, and spend the rest of the afternoon in a semi-vegetative state on the couch. It's the perfect day for a movie.
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Friday, November 27, 2009


What a beautiful warm day it was as I walked to David and Thom's carrying my soup, biscuits, and cheesecake. I was taking a big chance with a kettle of soup and an uncovered cheesecake in old IGA bags, but I felt that taking the car would be rediculous in view of the fact that I had only two blocks to go. When I arrived at the door, the second potential disaster faced me in the form of Dylan the exhuberant. To the usual ineffectual pleas of "No Dylan, Down Dylan," I carried my bounty to the kitchen without incident. The familiar smell of Thanksgiving filled the house, the same smell of all the 60-odd Thanksgivings I have experienced. It's nice that some things keep coming back to remind us that time isn't a straight line but a cycle.

I will say that this meal was one of the best I can remember. The table was formally and graciously set with china, silver, a beautiful centerpiece and candles. The turkey was brown and beautiful, but still moist. The gravy was smooth as silk . The potatoes were perfectly whipped, the carrots just tender and seasoned to perfection. The stuffing, cooked inside the bird, was traditional enough to be authentic but even more delicious. The cranberry sauce David made was perfectly spiced and full of pecans for just the right touch of crunch. I might add that my apple soup was aromatic with just the right amount of curry, and my biscuits were light. The cheesecake had been a lot of trouble to make because my electric mixer wouldn't work, but it was worth it. Meg, our guest(since I can't consider myself a guest in that so familiar household), brought a bottle of good red wine, which we drank while Thom finished the preparations. We had champagne with the meal, and good coffee with desert.

It really is wonderful to take the time and effort to follow a tradition, knowing that even though you can't see them most of the other people in the country are doing the same thing. It brings a sense of unity with our countrymen, even if it did hail the destruction of Native American culture. We could be more appropriately beating ourselves in penance for our transgressions. I suppose a lot of traditions are steeped in some evil origins, but what can we do? We are the human animal.
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Cheesecake

I was in charge of dessert this year, along with rolls and apple soup. I've heard that the measure of a cheesecake is whether it cracks or not. This one looks like it didn't even try to stay smooth. It's a pumpkin cheesecake, though it seems that the fresh chicken eggs (6 of them) worked poorly with the pumpkin to create a rather disgusting green color. Well, I hope it will taste good, since it will surely lose the prettiness prize.
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Got it after all

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Good Nap

It's been a long time since I posted any pictures of the dogs. I would have liked to get a picture of all three of them in their beds, but Lytton is the only one who doesn't wake up when I come near with a camera. They each have a bed like this, and they all have loved them from the moment I brought them home from the Dollar Store last year. The things wash beautifully and are just the perfect fit for a curled-up Lhasa Apso. When I'm in the dining room, away from any upholstered furniture, they are happy to use them. Of course there is no need for dog beds in any other room.....there are lots of couches, chairs, and people beds elsewhere.
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stage 2 with New Camera

I worked on this painting and then photographed it with my new Canon camera. I still like the painting, and I'm also happy with the camera, which I ordered from BestBuy. The other one has not been working properly for quite awhile and I've had to edit the pictures extensively to get any image at all. I took this picture without a flash in the normal incandescent lighting of my studio. It's pretty true to life.
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Monday, November 16, 2009

Painting Dolls

I gave up my frenetic activity with the woodcuts for a day so that I could paint with Diana at her house. There is no way for me to take all the paraphenalia I need for printing to a different location. I had tried a woodcut of these dolls without total success, so decided to paint them instead. This isn't done, but I am quite enthralled with it the way it is and wanted to preserve it in case I spoil it as I go on and on. It looks like an explosion, or an apparition, or a bunch?, covey?, herd?, flock?, litter?, of angels. The photo is darker than the painting and the flash reflected off the top of the canvas, but it still is pretty much the way it actually is.

I have done a a few paintings of dolls and enjoy doing them provided there is something slightly sinister about them. All the dolls I have belonged to my mother. I can't help but associate them with her, and I know the tone of the painting is influenced by that.

Happily, I sold some paintings at the new gallery Lisa has opened. If I can go directly to the fuel company with the proceeds, I will stave off freezing for quite awhile.
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