Tuesday, April 28, 2009

White Rock

Every morning I walk down to the foot of the hill with the dogs and stand at the top of the cliff looking at the water. During the winter that spot is ravaged by the weather. The snow is pushed there by the plows, along with rocks and pieces of pavement that have been torn up by water running down the hill. There was a great mound of dirt and debris there until a few days ago. Now it is flat amd smooth again, spread out by the city's trucks. I meant to get a picture of it as the snow was melting, as an example of how nature so blithely takes over what humans try to alter. Before I got a chance, though, humans reigned it in. Next winter the snow and water will tear it up again.

A few days ago I picked up a white rock I noticed on the ground and carried it back up to the house. When I got there, I threw it in the garden. I wondered why I had taken it. I was attracted to it because it was white, and stood out amongst its less flashy volcanic cousins. I wondered why I needed to possess it, to interfere with its natural place, to change the course of its history. I was exerting my power over it, or so I thought. I realized, though, that my moving it was natural, too. I am as much part of nature as the rock, and I moved it the same way an insect might push a blade of grass out of its way.

Then I entertained myself thinking about how many thousands or millions of years it will take for the wind and rain and snow to put it back in the place I found it, and where it will go after that.

Happy Chickens

I finished expanding the chicken yard and the girls really seemed to appreciate it. As soon as I took the old fence down, they ran into the new space and began gobbling up the bird seed under the feeder. It was always so tantalizingly near, yet unreachable, just on the other side of the fence. Now the feeder is inside the pen, creating, I thought, a rather symbiotic relationship between songbird and foul. I tried to get a more spontaneous picture of them, but they were too interested in having their picture taken. They clustered in front of me, curious, and wouldn't go back to their own business.
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Monday, April 20, 2009


This rug has been rolled up and stashed beside the house since a few months after I moved in here. I kept planning to put it out for the trash men, but never got around to it. As it emerged from the melting snow, frozen to the ground, I resolved again to throw it out. Then, after painting the floor upstairs, I asked my landlady if I could paint other floors in the house. She refused me, nicely, and I began thinking about painting floor cloths to brighten the place up.

Walking past the filthy rug day after day on my way to the chicken house, an idea started to form. Recently I bought a spray on line that is guaranteed to remove pet odors from any surface. I was amazed to find that it is true. I had thrown the rug out because the dogs had peed on it so many times, but with the miracle spray, it dawned on me that I could revive the rug.

The upshot was, I bought rug cleaner and a heavy brush, unrolled the rug on the ground, and scrubbed it. After a night in the fresh air, I brought it in and scrubbed it again. And that is how I got my oriental carpet.
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Week-end Project

I decided to expand the chicken yard and make a new gate on the other side of the house. Right now it is a gate to nowhere, since I did the gate before the fence. It is hinged to the corner of the house, waiting to fulfill it's purpose. I used left-over chicken wire and scrap lumber from the cellar, and constructed it a little differently from the first one I made. Now that I know the ways of chickens, I was better able to anticipate their escape strategies. I hope this one is tall enough to discourage them from flying up to sit on it, then going down the other side. They are clumsy fliers, so they don't go over the chicken wire fence, but the top of a gate is hard to resist. I'm contemplating shrinking their space on the other side so that I can make a small place to put my outside table and a chair. I don't spend much time sitting outside, but I do like it once in awhile. I can see the water from there and contemplate my good fortune to be living by the ocean.

Earlier in the day I filled the bird feeders, including the one outside the dining room window. I have to open the window and reach out for it, and there is no screen in order to make the job easier. As soon as the window was open, Patrick was through it in a flash. He ran out on the roof of the chicken house, barking furiously at the girls below. They started squawking and running around frantically. Patrick looked as if he were going to jump to the ground, repeatedly approaching the edge of the roof and then backing off. I had to climb out, grab him by the tail, and pull him back through the window. I think in another minute he would have built up his courage enough to jump. He wanted those chickens bad.

I feel lucky that I have managed to keep all six of these chickens alive and present after my bad luck with their predecessors. I've had them about a year now with no catastrophes, though there have been a lot of close calls. Several times the dogs have gotten out and tried to get at them. I am always right on their heels, frantic that they will get into the pen before I can stop them. So far, though, the fence has held, even with them jumping on it. I think I finally got it right.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2009


I worked on this mixed media painting after I posted it and this is the result. I'm happy with it.
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Still Life and Taxes

I copied this still life from a photo Betty Lou took. She set it up using things that Thelma had made for the class to paint. I will paint it again, because I don't like the looks of my watercolor technique. My colors aren't all that great either. Besides, I messed up the composition when I put on my drawing and didn't bother to fix it. I can do better.

I realized today that I forgot to do my state income tax form. I tried to do it on line, but too many people are in the same boat and I couldn't get onto the site. I will try again, but I don't have much faith that I will be successful. So now I am going to be a delinquent citizen. This crime will be added to my already distressing record with the IRS. I still owe taxes from 1995, and every year I get a notice about it. What began as a $150.00 tax has swelled with late fees and penalties to almost $500.00.........with no end in sight. It's a good thing there is no such thing as debtor's prison anymore.
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Just as it seemed that Spring might be here, the snow returned. It was a weak performance, but nevertheless it was enough to remind me of Easters past. There was a time in my life when I went to church, and Easter was a big day. No matter how many years went by with only a hint of good weather to come, I always got a new spring outfit for church. It usually included a new coat and hat, as well as gloves. The coat was lightweight and the hat was cheerful. The white gloves were thin, the shoes had slippery soles. My lips were blue by the time I reached church. My shoes were covered with slush, my feet freezing, my hands stiff with cold. Nevertheless, I don't remember regretting the walk or my outfit.

One year the youth group at church decided to go to Cadillac Mountain and have a sunrise service on Easter. We left in the dark, drove to Bar Harbor and up the mountain. The wind was blowing hard and it was snowing a little. Still, we huddled together, teeth chattering, on a big rock and waited. Of course we could not see the sun come up through the clouds and snow, but we valiantly held the service anyway as it grew light. It was certainly memorable.

Anyway, I guess that here in Maine we pretend that Spring will be here by Easter and act accordingly. No matter that in my sixty-odd years of expecting it, it has never happened. Perhaps it would be depressing to face the reality that it will be another month before the weather really changes, especially here on the coast. I doubt it, though. We anticipate it longer, but it is so glorious here it is worth the wait. It's a little like knowing there is ice cream in the freezer, but you can't have it yet. When it finally happens, it's so much better for the waiting.
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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Long Time, No See

I have been very negligent with my blogging lately, but I have been very preoccupied. Sad news. My wonderful friend Thelma, age 87, fell and broke her leg. She was taken to the hospital, where things got worse. For awhile it seemed she would most likely die, but in true Thelma fashion, she rallied. Apparently she will be transferred to a rehabilitation facility. She is considered to be too old for surgery on her shattered leg, and too old for dialysis. My dear, dear Thelma. The thought of losing her is very difficult. No one lives forever, but I ignored that fact as I saw her grow older and incapacitated. She has always risen above everything like nobody I have ever known. I guess I believed vaguely that she could also transcend death. The idea of her being gone seemed too terrible to contemplate. Now I have been forced to think about it.

Thelma changed my whole life. She adopted me, encouraged me, became my painting companion. She introduced me to Betty Lou, without whom my life would have been so different. We traveled hither and yon together, running the roads to different workshops and art events, or antiquing, or eating out, or just enjoying each other's company. No matter what else happened in my life, there was always Thelma, supportive, kind, comforting. It is a relationship that has withstood long-distance. She moved to New Hampshire several years ago, but we have remained as close as ever. She is a person who loves me even though she doesn't have to.

At the same time, I heard from David that Duncan, his and Thom's beloved dalmation, died in his sleep. He was old, too, though no one gave up on him as they did on Thelma. He lived a long life thanks to the best medical care. He was a beautiful boy. I miss him, and feel bad for Thom and David. I can also too easily put myself in their place.

I was quite shattered by these two events and found myself dwelling on them. I am still dwelling on them to some extent, but am trying to face reality and get moving. The picture shows my efforts to dig up more of my front yard. I plan to enlarge my garden area, and it's quite easy to dig now, so soon after the snow melted and left the ground soft and damp. The weather report is for snow tonight, but it can't last. Spring is impervious to minor setbacks.
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