Sunday, May 31, 2009

Orchid Cactus

When Jesse was a baby thirty-odd years ago, my neighbor gave me a cutting from her orchid cactus.
It has hung in some window of every place I have lived since then. It used to bloom off and on in the hall on Parkview Avenue, but after I left there in 1996 it has been irritatingly barren. It's gone through many stages of what I thought was impending death, but always revived enough to limp along to see another year. Now, it has suddenly found a reason to blossom again in the bay window of the living room, it's leaves shiny and glossy and fat.

Go figure.
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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Death Wish

Twice in the last three days I have found Poppy outside the pen. The first time was at 11pm when I walked home from dinner with David and Thom. As I started to open the door to go in I heard the unmistakable sound of cackling nearby. In the light of the streetlight I could see Poppy happily pecking away in the garden in front of the house. Needless to say it is quite a challenge to get a chicken to go where you want her to go, especially in the dark. By the time I had gone in to get my flashlight, she had disappeared. I searched and searched, but it's a big world out there and a chicken is small and cunning.
At one point I discovered her hiding under Diana's lilac bush, but by the time I had opened the gate to shoo her in, she was gone again.

As is my habit, I soon began to cry and babble about the chances of a chicken surviving the night in the open. Also as is my habit, I could not give up. How long I searched, I have no idea, but finally I spotted her half hidden by the blue tarp covering some construction materials next door. Somehow I was able to chase her into the pen, into the chicken house, and lock the door.

It's amazing how an experience like that can be so intense, and then once it's over it vanishes as if it had never happened. I closed the gate to the chicken yard as always, walked back to the front door, opened it and walked in to the ecstatic dogs just as I always do, my tears vanished, my heart back in normal rhythm.. It's as if the earth closes in on the unexpected, and all one has to do is right the wrong to make it disappear.

Today I found her out again, casually strutting around in the deep grass of the back yard next door. There's always an escape artist in every bunch.
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Time Marches On

Here's the garden as it looks today, or at least part of it. This is about half of what is there. I can't get a picture of the whole thing without including the neighboring houses and street. I'm feeling quite happy about it, proud of the way it has transformed the whole end of the Water St.

My thoughts and a lot of my activities have been centered on the gallery over this past month. The time has been unhappily ill-spent. I have resigned the presidency, but will of course still be a big part of the organization. The details are not important now, but the story is a familiar one in my life. Sooner or later I find myself at odds with galleries, with the selling of art. It seems so far removed from all those wonderful ideas careening around the heads of the creative mind. What we do at the gallery seems to have nothing to do with least not the way I understand it.

I was a great student. If I could have sequestered myself in the "ivory tower" forever, I would have.
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As I was cleaning out the drawers of my desk I came across a package of t-shirt transfer paper I had never opened. Always on the look out for a new medium, I decided to put a picture of one of my paintings on cloth and then sew over it. The idea of working with fabric has always intrigued me and I've seen fantastic things that others have made. Without any plan, I put the image on an old t-shirt that doesn't fit me and then sewed the outline of the subject on the sewing machine. It held some appeal for a short time as I stitched around fingers and teeth, but it wasn't long before I began looking more at what I had left to do than at what I was doing. Determined to have something to show for my efforts, I made a pillow cover out of the thing. It's a little slice of experience, though, that might come back later in some more satisfying way.
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Friday, May 22, 2009


I know I took a picture of these tulips las year, but they are too beautiful to go unrecorded. I have been working hard on the garden and yesterday brought several plants home from Ann's. They all seem to have survived the transplant in good shape except the Bishop's Weed. Some of that looks okay, but most of it is lying on the can almost hear it moaning. The stuff is sturdy, though, and I'm still hopeful it will revive. My conception of my "cottage garden" is coming to fruition, even if my first thought of it was back when I lived in Hampden well over ten years ago. I have eyed the yard in front of this house over the many years since I first lived here, imagining what I would do with it if I ever got it back. I have had the opportunity now, and though it isn't a mature garden, it's on its way.

There's something wonderful about transforming a patch of mud into a garden. I am always mindful that flowers do not exist for human pleasure. They have their own agenda. It's one of the nice things about the human, though, to be able to get pleasure just from looking at something................and working to make it happen.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cloud Painting

When Toni and I were Kayaking at Gleason's Cove last summer, I took seceral pictures of the clouds and water. One day it was particularly beautiful, with the water smooth and the clouds reflecting in it. I tried and failed to reproduce it here, but I will try again.

The trees have turned their yellow-green. Some of the tulips are dropping their petals. Every day that the season advances I wish I could stop its progress. Last Spring was so recent, followed by Summer, Fall, and Winter, that they seem to be tripping over each other. Before I know it, I'll be shovelling snow again. Every new leaf is already on its way to turning brown and dry.

I have suddenly come to realize the truth in what "old" people used to tell me.......that time passes faster and faster as the years go by.
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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Garden Progress

As the temperature creeps up, the flowers are growing. I haven't planted much new yet, but what was there last year certainly seems happy. I want to get something tall to put near the house, but so far haven't found anything. I have cosmos seeds started, and eventually they will provide some height. I need to vary the level of the ground somehow..........another job for the near future.
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Beautiful New Bird

I have no idea what kind of bird this his, but it was hanging around my birdfeeders for a long time this morning. It was not particularly skittish, so I was able to photograph it. It's bigger than a Chickadee but smaller than a Starling. The color almost took my breath away..........
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Fence in the Rough

Here is my latest project.......a fence for the dog yard. Obviously it needs some fine tuning and a paint job, but so far my considerable efforts seem rewarding. The next day or two will tell the story.
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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Painting Projects

After I finished the floor in the upstairs hall, I decided to continue the pattern on the chest of drawers. Without any planning, I taped off some squares and started in. Well, true to form, I didn't think ahead and painted the corners of each drawer some indeterminate size. After they were done, I realized I had done it in such a way that the pattern would not work as a checkerboard. Also, when I removed the masking tape, a lot of the original paint flaked off. I might as well have eyeballed the squares, as I did on the floor. Attempts to use tools like that to make things perfect always end up badly for me.

Once I saw what a problem I now have, I abandoned the project temporarily. The open can of paint still sits on the top of the bureau........I wonder for how long.

Yesterday at Wednesday art group I began this painting from another of Toni's pictures of Chile. I mapped it out with acrylic and then finished it today with oil. I like it, though I'm not sure it wasn't better before. Sydney and Lisa insisted yesterday that I leave it alone. The roughness of it was so much like the paintings of other artists who stop once they have a suggestion of the subject. Other things besides the image then become center stage and even an untrained eye is forced to look at patterns and colors and textures and composition, even if they don't know it (or even like it, for that matter). I love that kind of work, but somehow I can't do it. I have to torture brush marks until they look like a picture of what they represent more than what they are (marks). I am getting better, though, and managed to let this one remain somewhat unmolested. The two aspects of the brush marks are both evident, with a little too big a nod toward disguising themselves.

Well, better luck next time.
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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

First Tulips

I took this picture a few days ago, and now several more tulips have blossomed. The garden is embracing its second year with great enthusiasm.
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Saturday, May 02, 2009

New Pastel

My new issue of American Art Review arrived a few days ago and as I looked at the paintings I was inspired to take a look around me for material. Many of the paintings I liked in the magazine were simple landscapes quite reminiscent of my own surroundings. So I took my camera down the street to Dog Island and took several pictures. This is the first one, just past the Biss' house, a pastel done on blue- painted watercolor paper. I finally feel like I can move on from my Epping Road series.

I guess that means I have recovered from losing Alice.
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Version 2

I worked on this watercolor with pastel, which I think improved it considerably. I also made a card for Thelma by painting the same picture smaller. She is still at the hospital as far as I know, though she may have been transferred back to the rehab center. She is being shoved back and forth as she improves and deteriorates. No one knows how it will end, but I wanted to tell her how much I love her and how much she means to me. I wrote it all down honestly and sent the card off two days ago. Betty Lou is visiting her often and has been keeping me posted on her condition. "We three are one," she told me, and it is true. What great times we had together..........a strange and wonderful threesome with our easels and paints. We wandered around, looking for places to paint, eating in restaurants, sleeping in motel rooms. At the end of each day we studied each others work and discussed what we liked and didn't like. We talked about art as if it were the most important thing in the world, superseding everything else. And it was, and is, transcendent, rising above everything else. We shared this thought, and were united in it. We cast off the other aspects of our lives apart and we did live as one. We are so lucky...........
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