Tuesday, December 27, 2011


Our Christmas was a festive day befitting the occasion. In the first picture is my brother Mike on the left, then David, then Sydney and Richard. Thom was probably fixing food. He seems to be always fixing or serving food, which I hope is his choice rather than his obligation. He is a wonderful cook and our dinner of stuffed roast pork with several accompaniments was wonderful. The second picture shows the origami frogs I made for each person to play with. This was not the hit we hoped for, but I enjoyed doing it anyway. The third picture is, of course, Dylan playing with and destroying his present of a stuffed Dalmation. Next is my contribution, the Christmas log that has been part of every Christmas I have ever had. My mother used to make it. She decorated it the way I did this year, with cherries and aluminum foil leaves. The sprinkled nuts is my addition, but otherwise it is faithful to hers. The last picture is, of course, the tree. I don't know why I couldn't get a clear picture of it, but it was beautiful. In the morning we opened gifts and had breakfast (Thom's wonderful omelets, of course, and bacon ). Because of this adopted family I lack nothing in the way of holiday tradition and celebration, despite the fact that my kids weren't able to come and share it all. Mike was an added one-time pleasure.

I had intended to drive to Bangor and have lunch with Elizabeth, who is visiting her son for the holiday. It was one of the very few chances we get to see one another since she moved to Cape Cod. It snowed yesterday and the day before, unfortunately, and I didn't want to tackle the 2 1/2 hour drive with the roads in poor condition. So the opportunity was missed......the only disappointment of what was otherwise an ideal Christmas.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Portrait of Gaye and Christmas Eve

I spent most of the day finishing this portrait that I started a few days ago. It's from a picture I took of an old acquaintance, or possibly I should call her a friend. She shows up in my life off and on because of Diana, who somehow came to know her after I did. She comes to Eastport with Diana sometimes and stays a few days. I came to know her when I was in school studying art is the 90's. She was a big presence in the Art Department, partly because she's black, which is a rarity in Maine, and partly because of the fact that she always had children hanging off her. She had a big family with several daughters who had babies. These daughters were going to school, too, and brought their babies with them. Gaye often had one in tow while one daughter or another was in class. They had great names like Divante and Nahisi, with black curly hair and big smiles. They were the best natured babies I have ever seen, as well as the the most adorable. Everyone loved them and helped take care of them. It was far from unusual to find one in a baby seat on the printing press or tucked under somebody's chair in art history class. During the student critiques of our work, one or two of them would be playing quietly nearby.

Anyway, when she was here last I was struck by the way she looked with the sun shining in the window on her face. I took pictures of her so that I could paint her, and this is the first one. It's a pastel, which I haven't done in awhile. I thought it would be fun to get the contrast of light and dark using pastels, and it was. The portrait looks very little like Gaye, who is probably in her late 60's. This person looks quite young. I didn't want to labor over getting a likeness. This is all about the light. In a different medium that is more easily manipulated I may try to make it look more like she actually looks, which is really quite stunning.

This is Christmas Eve. It's the first time in years that Sydney didn't have her usual dinner party, which left a lot of us twiddling our thumbs. David, Thom, and I had breakfast this morning together with Meg. who hosted the occasion even though it was at their house. Meg doesn't have people to her house because she doesn't want anybody to see what a mess it is. It was very enjoyable, as is any occasion when Meg is there. She is in her eighties and quite frail, but is wonderful company. She has had a very interesting life, and actually still does. She will be off to Los Angeles for a few months in a couple of weeks. Like Gaye, and actually so many people in my life, she is an unusual character. Our breakfast lasted until after noon, a fitting Christmas party. I haven't decorated at all, but I spent time making gifts for David and Thom. Mike will be at Christmas dinner at their house tomorrow......a kind of last hurrah since he is moving back to Florida after only a couple of months here. This place at the end of the earth isn't everyone's cup of tea, and he just doesn't like it. I am sad that it didn't work out because we both have been planning and anticipating his retirement here for years. Despite the expense, which has been considerable, he is wise to realize that he's made a mistake though, and take steps to rectify it. It's a disappointment to us both, but it's the right thing for him to do. This will be our only Christmas together for awhile.
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Coat

Here is Lytton wearing the expensive coat I bought for him that is guaranteed to reduce stress in dogs. It's called a "Thundershirt." Well, I can't endorse it for stress, but it's cute and I'm sure keeps him warm.
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Saturday, December 10, 2011


Lytton spends a lot of time sleeping, and when he isn't sleeping, he is usually unhappy. It is too sad for words that he has become so incapacitated by arthritis and senility. The quality of his life is compromised (a good word for "sucks" or "horrible" or "devastating"), This is a topic I have not been able to write about, and still can't. Lately I have been talking about him with my old trusted vet in Bangor about the inevitable decision to put him to sleep (i.e. kill him). I'm not able to make that decision, so he is on pain medication and anti-anxiety drugs to keep him comfortable. I wear ear plugs to bed so I can't hear him barking, though I still hear him. There are times he will bark for hours at a time, at nothing. There is nothing I can say to describe how difficult the situation is for both of us.
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New Chicken Escape

Every day I re-do the gate and fences of the chicken house, along with piling countless pieces of wood and wire on the roof of the house to prevent jumping over the fence. Almost every day at least one chicken escapes. Recently the pace has accelerated. Two days ago it was two chickens, yesterday it was four. In this picture the girls are camouflaged in the dead grass on the far side of the building that sits between my back yard and Diana's. They are feasting on the countless apples on the ground under her tree. These new escapees are unaware, apparently, that they are doing anything wrong and don't run away from me like Penny does. This makes it more difficult to get them back into the pen. Even though they will follow me if I call them, they tend to get sidetracked. To expedite things, I resort to picking them up, one by one, and carrying them back where they belong.

The dogs have escaped lately, too. I have had to chase Patrick and Benny all over the neighborhood
several times, worrying all the while that they will encounter an escaped chicken. Yesterday one of the horses at the shelter escaped when I was putting hay in his paddock, and it took me over a half hour to catch him. Horses react much like chickens, ignoring you until you are about to grab them, and then racing away. Dogs, on the other hand, prefer to taunt you.......racing up to you happily and then darting away, hiding and then reappearing........generally making a game out of the chase. Some days the things that take up my life seem quite comical.
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New Statue

This is the new statue installed downtown last week-end. Somehow I ignored the events that lead to its presence so have no idea what led up to it. It had to do with some funding for art installations, and I know there was controversy over the design. I remember something about a proposal being rejected because of the breasts on a mermaid............in any case, thank goodness for the prudishness of the city fathers. What Eastport does not need is yet another mermaid, with or without breasts. Sometimes I think I will throw up if I see another fish-tailed call-girl wearing a simpy smile. Well, I digress. I love this sculpture, criticized by some as being too modern for Eastport. However it was chosen, I have to applaud it. What makes a place modern or not modern is its aura, its atmosphere, its timeliness. Perhaps Eastport looked more old-fashioned and quaint before the statue was here. But the statue doesn't replace the old, it just ads to it. It shows that Eastport is alive now, too, in the present, building on the past but not stuck in it.

The last attempt at modernity in the art realm has been dismantled and hidden away somewhere. It stood across from the post office wearing a 60's style pop-art face. I didn't mind it, but I didn't like it either.......it looked like the city was trying too hard to look "cool." This new one is a class act.
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

First Snow of the Year and Kennedy

Every year I take a picture of the first snow, the long dreaded onset of winter. Then every year I realize it's not as bad as I anticipated. This is actually the 66th winter I have lived through (I assume I will live through it) and none of them have been very different from all the others. The only one that stands out is 1962 when a freak snowstorm in Bangor stranded hundreds of people, including my father who was half way home from work. He left his car in the middle of the street and walked home. By the next morning our porch, which went the length of the front of the house, filled with snow up to its roof. We couldn't open the door and had to climb through the second story window to get out. We saw a news story about the storm on national television. It showed people skiing down Central Street. Cars were buried so deep that you couldn't tell where they were. Shelters were set up all over town for people who couldn't get home. On our street I remember the neighbors digging out, helping one another, laughing and joking with people they had never spoken to before. There was a wonderful spirit of camaraderie I hadn't seen before, or since for that matter. The sun was so bright the morning after...

Speaking of the 60's, yesterday was the anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. The event was played and replayed on television, and I watched it for awhile. But I Lived through it and remember it all vividly. I can put myself back at the formica kitchen table across from my mother, just finishing lunch. The phone rang and Mike answered it. It was his friend Jack telling him the president had been shot. For a split second we thought it was a prank because the television, perched on top of the refrigerator, was on and nothing had been said. Hardly was the thought formed when Walter Cronkite appeared on the screen. "We interrupt this program........"

For the next several days, I sat in the recliner hauled up in front of the TV, my eyes riveted to the screen. I saw Oswald shot as it happened. I saw the funeral, the cortege, the eternal flme. Jackie's black horse nervously bucking as he was lead behind the coffin, boots backward in the stirrups of his empty saddle. John-John's salute, Caroline kneeling, Jackie in her black veil. Every detail is burned into my memory. And then I watched it all over and over and over. It was the first election I had taken an interest in. I loved Kennedy, had even gone to see him speak. I still have the poster I carried, the plastic hat I wore. I watched him boldly stride into his headquarters after he won the nomination, a big grin on his face, the band playing a premature "Hail to the Chief." Even now I get goosebumps when I think of it, and tears well up in my eyes.

Then came Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Everything turned sour.
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Friday, November 18, 2011

Chickens on the Roof

I took these pictures through the dining room window. At times there can be four or five chickens outside the window at the same time, often seemingly confused that they can't get at the plants. I have tried repeatedly to figure out how to keep Penny from flying from the roof over the gate and out into the driveway. She has made a nest under the bay window out front and can't wait to get out there to lay her eggs. She can't be kept in, and won't believe me when I tell her that she is in great peril. I think she's the only one who is laying at this point. I put a lovely delux nest in the chicken house, but so far no one has gone near it. When there are any eggs in the morning, they are on the floor in front of the door, or out in the front garden. All of my attempts to block her path have so far been miserable failures.
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Toni's New Dog

This is Sasha, Toni's new companion. The two of us drove to the animal shelter Tuesday to pick her up and she made herself right at home immediately. At first everything seemed to be going fine between Sasha and Toby (the other dog), but I here today the two have begun to stake out their territory. Evidently Toby is losing the battle. We could tell immediately that Sasha is an alpha dog, so what happens in the future between them could be a problem for Toni. Time will tell.......
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Origami Flowers

After weeks of doing origami , I finally had to settle for a relatively simple project in order to reward myself. These are flowers made of tissue paper that actually look pretty good. I foud that tissue paper can be ironed very successfully....a useful tool when you make countless mistakes in folding creases. The iron pretty much removes anything so that the finished product looks somewhat better than a used handkerchief. I'm not sure if I will be satisfied with having these be my ultimate origami creations. I doubt it, and I am certainly not putting my books away.
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Monday, October 24, 2011

New Painting

In order to murder my origami obsession, I made myself go into the studio and paint. I set up this still life yesterday afternoon and after some consideration decided to do it in watercolor. The first session worked out all right except for one area. Rather than let it go, I left it until today when I could see it with a fresh eye. What I saw was pretty much a mess. Too many layers of paint with opacity watercolor was never meant to have. The color was bad, too. I had read yesterday in a magazine about erasing watercolor, so I went to work on it with a big eraser. The result was only marginally successful, but it made me remember the "Magic Eraser" I have used so much in the kitchen.. The thing will remove anything. So was the case with the watercolor. I was able to wash off quite a lot of paint, leaving a sort of ghost. Then I went back into it with transparent layers of pure pigments.The underlying paint gives it a soft, three-dimensional look that watercolor usually lacks. I ended up being happy with it and glad that I went to the trouble to work on it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Since I can't do much of anything with my sore shoulders, I have taken up origami. It requires a lot of concentration and no shoulder movement. These are some bugs I managed to bring to a respectable conclusion, but I must say, origami is not child's play. I was hoping to be able to make fabulous, complicated figures, but I now realize how difficult it is. I optimistically ordered three books on the subject, along with some paper. Fortunately one of them is at a pretty basic level, though I can tell you that going beyond a paper airplane is a tremendous challenge. Luckily I have a lot of stubborness and time on my hands. If my interest holds as long as my shoulders ground me, I will conquer it.
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Friday, September 30, 2011

The new part-time Emma

I've been having trouble with my eyes lately....that is I haven't been able to see well.....so after several trips to my new eye doctor I ended up getting glasses. I am still able to wear my contacts, but am supposed to rest my eyes part of the time. So here is a version of me if I had been born with bigger eyes. I look like somebody I know, but I can't think of who. When I see pictures of myself smiling like this, I wonder if I ought to have had my teeth fixed when I was young. It's so un-American to have ugly teeth. Somehow it didn't bother me unless I was going to the dentist. Then I was embarrassed. Gradually I have given up going to the dentist for that reason, not wanting to expose my ugly teeth or most-likely bad breath to a captive hygienist. My teeth are servicable and healthy, just not pretty.

Anyway, the point of the picture is the glasses. I can now see my fingernails through the bifocal part of the lenses and I spend a fair amount of time examining them. They are uncared for as they have always been. The cuticles are securely glued to the outside edges of the nails, never having been pushed back or cut. They are haphazzardly trimmed with nail clippers to various lengths. Most have dirt of obscure origin under them and are snagged at the edges. I'm not saying that they would be any different if I had been able to see them all these years......like teeth, they serve a function. For some reason I never had any interest in making them pretty (if there is such a thing as a pretty nail). Nevertheless, I find it entertaining to look at them now, just as I find my eyes that look in slightly different directions interesting to observe. My second toes are longer than my big toes, too, and misshapen with all the years of trying to shrink inside normally shaped shoes. The back of my head is flat. My lips are thin. I'm much too short. By normal standards I am a mass of defective parts, usually considered unnattractive. Somehow it all seems to work, though, as a whole. I don't mind the way I look.
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Monday, September 05, 2011

New Couch

I meant to publish this earlier but didn't get to it........this is my new couch for the living room. I picked it for it's style and price, as well as it's color which is dog-friendly, the color of dirt.
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Chickens on the Roof and Car Accident.

The roof of the chicken house is right outside my dining room window and I regularly see the girls looking at me through the glass. It's a good substitute for having birdfeeders out there as I did in the past.

I have been busy lately with company and dealing with my latest legal battle, but three days ago I had a terrible incident happen. I struck a girl as I was driving through Pleasant Point on my way back from Bangor. She was hurt bad enough to be taken to Bangor by ambulance, and apparently had surgery. She's home now and pretty much recovered. Although no one blames me for the accident (the girl ran out into the road without looking to see her friends across the street), I was quite shaken by it all. The girl lay on the road with people screaming and crying all around her. Cell phones were at every ear calling the police and ambulance. I was treated with kindness by everyone involved and the policeman who handled the case called me the next day to make sure I was all right. Ever since it happened, though, I keep seeing that blurr of the girl appearing directly in front of me and hearing the sound of the thud when the car hit her. I swerved to avoid her, but there was no time to stop it from happening.

Word spreads quickly in a town like this and I am considerably comforted by the concern people have shown me. Nevertheless, it is certainly something I will never be able to completely put it behind me.
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Friday, August 19, 2011

[Image] I have taken the trouble this year to keep my feeders full and the birds have rewarded me by regularly visiting at the dining room window. I love to watch them while I have my coffee in the morning and they never fail to amuse. I wonder what it is about birds that people like so much, and why some birds are favored over others? I like any bird, but there are lots of people who may love one species and hate another. I suppose it makes as much sense as liking white people better than black, or Asians better than Hispanics, etc. Small variations in appearance and habits supersede the fact of being part of the same species.[Image]

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Three Cousins

This is my cousin Beth and I with the cousin she found on the internet when searching our family history. He and his wife came here on their way to Canada from Virginia in order to meet us. His resemblance to other male relatives is absolutely astounding. For awhile when I first met him I was so distracted by this that I could hardly concentrate on what he was saying. It was fun to meet them.

I am always amazed when I look at pictures of myself to see how short I am.
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Monday, August 08, 2011

Boat Ride

My cousin Beth and her husband John have been visiting for the last several days. Beth and I took the ferry to Lubec and this picture shows Eastport as we pulled away from the breakwater. Although it was only overcast when we left, it started to rain when we got to Lubec and continued to get worse as the afternoon went on. The trip back was in a downpour. We huddled in the one small sheltered area of the boat and enjoyed the trip anyway. Beth will send me more pictures to post after she gets home and I will have better documentation of the visit, which was really fun.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Where has Emma Gone?

Well, for one thing I have been working on this mural for the FLFES Open House. It is to be a backdrop for pictures taken of children on our new donkey. I have also been busy with the chicken fence and a lot of other household projects that have kept me from writing. Now that I have pretty much come to the end of all of my busy work. I hope to get back to posting. More to come in the near future.......
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Graduation Day

This is almost the first moment the chickens went into their grown-up home. I have a lot of anxiety over this, and fear it is a death sentence for them, but it had to happen. If I am to have chickens, I obviously have to allow them to leave the nest, so to speak. I bought a latch for the door that I think would foil the smartest raccoon, though I have thought that before and been tragically wrong.

These are the friendliest chickens I have had. They have no fear of me, and in fact run over to me in greeting whenever I come toward them. They take food from my hand and almost crawl into my lap when I sit near them. I am hoping against hope that I will be able to protect them.........

I forgot if I have mentioned their names: Henny, Penny, Polka, Dot, Blackie and Bonny.
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Sunday, June 26, 2011


Despite the fact that this has been and unbearable cold Spring, the garden is in its glory. I love to look at it, and the fact that I created it makes the experience all the better.

I hung the peace flag out last week with some trepidation. The summer people who live next door had a flag like this last year and someone stole it. Stealing is rare in Eastport, but I'm sure some patriotic zealot thought it was offensive. Does a patriot also have to support everything the government does? And if so, where is the freedom and democracy we are supposed to cherish?
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Benny and Patrick

A very unusual sight..............these boys NEVER share a bed.
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