Friday, September 30, 2005

Last Day of September

Here's the exhibit at the gallery, or at least most of it. One of Elizabeth's sculptures is out of sight on the right. The poster is a reproduction of Elizabeth's portrait of me, which can be seen better on David's blog (listed in my links).

This was one of the days that is taken up primarily by my therapy appointment. Since I drive one and a half hours to get there, spend an hour there, then drive the hour and a half back, there isn't time for much else unless I really get going early. Today I didn't. Walk the dogs, read the paper, make some phone calls, check my email, take a bath, and that's about it. Before heading to Harrington, I had to let Lucy and Harry out (the dogs I take care of every day for Greg), and get gas. The price of gas is so high that I would worry, if I let myself, about how I can afford to continue to make the trip at all, let alone twice a week. It costs about twenty dollars worth of gas every time I go, plus the cost of the appointment itself. Nevertheless, as long as I can find a way to do it, I will. Nothing is any more important to me. I have become a different person in the years I have been seeing Alice, and I continue to change. It has been a Godsend in the later years of my life. It is so much easier to be alive.

After two days, I went down to the chicken house to see how things were going. I wasn't up to it before, not ready to encounter another corpse if there was one. Thankfully, Annie was up in the nesting box, relaxing and looking pretty healthy. Demeter strutted and clucked in greeting. I am feeling confident that Annie will survive now that she has made it this far. Within a very short time I will have to get some plastic and cover the windows of the chicken house. It's getting cold at night now. I'll also hook up the light for the nesting box so that there will be a warm place when it really turns cold. I still have the metal warmer that keeps the water from freezing. That needs to be plugged in too. There's an outlet in the cellar, I think, that will work if I can get enough extension cords to reach the house. I ought to get one more chicken to help keep the place warm. It's so hard to believe that another winter is upon us. Time passes so fast. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 29, 2005

The Long Day

It's amazing how long a day can be if you start early and then do very little. I was in gear quite early this morning, thinking I was going to David's for coffee, but it turned out that he came over here because of a glitch in the way I sent the minutes of the gallery meeting to him. In order to open them on his computer, they had to be in a different format. I am ignorant of such things, so he had to come here to accomplish the task. Afterwards we did have our coffee and muffins, ordered a hose for my dishwasher, and I started a wash at his house. Looking forward to a day of accomplishment around the house, I replaced the holder for my flag, which the wind had ripped from the front of the house, taking the flag with it. I was guilty of leaving the stars and stripes in a heap on the front lawn for two days, so I was anxious to get it in place again. In a town like Eastport, one needs to be wary of veterans groups and Bush clones lurking under the surface of polite society, ready to take the law into their own hands concerning such traitorous acts.

While I was outside, it being the most perfect of Fall days, I decided to plant the iris Sydney had left for me. Once I started to dig, it was hard to stop tidying the front yard. I hand-pulled the grass and weeds around what appears to be a tree stump in my garden spot. I discovered a wooden border to the patch of Day lilies along the front of the house, and a purposeful pile of rocks near the front door. I cleaned out the bucket next to the door so that it will be ready in the spring for some plantings. I found a rake under the over-grown rhododendron bush and cleaned up the mess I had made. Surveying my work, I realized I had made no discernible difference in the appearance of things, but I had begun to see the potential for a nice garden there. I was hot and dirty and sweaty. I came inside thinking it must be mid-afternoon or later, and saw it was barely one-thirty.

The next hour I spent making a vegetarian pie for David's and my supper. When it was in the oven, I still had hours of the afternoon left. I chose to spend the time reading my email and investigating things on the computer that I usually don't take the time to do. This all resulted in no new information or revelations, but the next thing I knew it was time to feed the dogs. That was four o'clock, and now it is five-thirty--time to get myself and my dinner over to David's.

I feel as if I have had a week's vacation.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Wednesday Art Day and the end of Mary

I made this print today from the block I cut a few weeks ago intending to put it in the Windows show at the gallery. I didn't get around to printing it because of the furror of moving. I like the image, which I call "Dismount" and had a good time practising chine colle (adding color by collaging pieces of paper onto the print during the printing process). I hope to put some time into printmaking this winter so that I can do more complicated pieces and techniques.

I went to art group despite the reluctance I felt after being teased and ridiculed, or so I thought of it, the last time I was there. I fully intended to stay home and continue the task of organizing my endless belongings. Then I met Lisa in the grocery store and after we spoke about it, I began to feel silly about not going. Still, I had told both Lisa and Judy about my displeasure at talking politics and movies rather than art. I worried that I might have placed a gag order on them regarding conversation topics and things would be stilted. I was very conscious of this during the afternoon, but hopefully everyone will forget about what I said soon enough and all will eturn to normal.

I found Mary dead this morning. Now that the two chickens have died I'm sorry they didn't do so immediately instead of suffering as they did. At this point it makes no difference and their little lives are over. Nature is incredibly cruel to individual life. It is very evident to me that individuality plays no part in any grand scheme and our awareness of it is nothing less than sadistic on the part of any overseer who might have ordained it. Posted by Picasa

Benny's Decorating Idea

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The Unsinkable Demeter

I lost the post about my latest chicken disaster, so the discription will be less immediate than it ought to be. To make a long story shorter, Benny and Lytton escaped by digging under the lattice work that encloses the area beneath the porch. The kids next door knocked on the door to tell me the news. They had captured Lytton, so I returned him to the house and set out to look for Benny. Suddenly I remembered that the chickens were outside. I headed to the back of the house with dread, and sure enough, there was Benny inside the pen surrounded by what I thought were dead chickens. It turned out that they were not dead, but severely wounded. After returning Benny to the house (not before he took a bite out of one of the children), Iwent back to assess the damage. Three of the chickens were lying on the ground covered with blood. The other was nowhere to be seen. Carefully I picked up the first injured chicken and placed her inside. When I opened the door, there was Demeter sitting on top of the nesting house, unharmed. She watched with some interest as I placed her less fortunate companions on the floor and checked them over. They all had very bad puncture wounds and raw, bloody areas.

Having called the vet once about a similar event, I knew that there was no point in asking for medical advice. I had to just hope for the best. When I looked in on them later, they were all still alive, but the next morning one had died. I put her in a bag, put the bag in a box, then put it in the dumpster. How desensitized I have become since the first time I had to deal with this situation. I couldn't stand to even go near the chicken house for days and had to ask Will to remove the bodies. That's not to say it is easy for me or that I am not upset by what happened. But it is shocking how quickly we can come to accept the formerly unacceptable.

This morning I found the two injured girls feeling better and Annie II moving around pretty well. Mary II was still down, but looking a little more chipper. Tonight I took their favorite treats, crackers, down to them and they both ate with relish. Mary still wasn't on her feet, but she was upright and looking bright-eyed. I hate to think what kind of pain they must be in, but they are certainly bearing it well, quietly and with dignity. Demeter was gallant enough to allow the sick ones to eat without molesting them. I have hope that they will survive.

It is a terrible irony that I have wanted to give these chickens a better life than they have ever known or could hope for, and yet have been responsible for the horrible death of so many of them. Even now, though, I have no intentions of giving up on them. At least for the time that I had them their lives were far better than what they had before. They lived in a windowless, dank and moldy room inside a barn. There were so many of them crowded together that they could hardly move and they were covered with wet sores from being constantly pecked by other chickens. They had lost many of their feathers. For a short time, anyway, they had it easy and comfortable.

I have shed many tears over this incident, but I have put my energy into plugging the escape routes the dogs have found in the hope that somehow I will be able to lick the problem.

And the night before the chicken episode, Benny was sprayed by a skunk.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


I finally found a way to get pictures. I had to download two other programs, but where there's a will (and a very stubborn, persistent person), there's a way.

This is the painting I did specifically for the show in order to tie the two of us together. It's my rendition of one of Elizabeth's sculptures called "Head of Dreams." I borrowed the piece from her garden and took it to Wednesday art group where I spent two separate sessions on it. I was very disapointed after the first one, which was just the big red head, but after I thought about it for a week, I was able to do something I really liked. We hung this painting on the wall next to the sculpture, with a poster and a short statement written by Elizabeth about our collaberation. To my knowledge, no one read it last night, but they probably will in a quieter atmosphere.
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Friday, September 23, 2005

The Opening and News of Section 8

After what seems like a terribly hectic preparation period, the opening reception for Elizabeth's and my show at the gallery finally took place. It was like all openings except that Elizabeth and I had the expense of putting on the party and cleaning up afterwards. Looking back on it, I wonder what the point was. Almost no one seemed to be interested in the artwork we had so carefullly hung, or in the t-shirts David had made, or the posters we had printed to sell. Though it was a fine party, with the usual attendees happily chatting, eating, and drinking, and I felt rewarded that they all bothered to come, it seemed mildly anticlimactic somehow. I'm not disappointed...why would I be? I even sold a painting (though not one of the featured ones in the show), but whatever underlying expectations I evidently had were not met. So it goes.

I came home to find that I had left Patrick and Lytton outside. I imagine the neighbors were ready to get up a petition to have me removed by the time I brought them in. They were probably barking most of the time I was gone. Since this is the second time I have gone off with at least one of them outdoors, it is obvious I am not paying enough attention to their whereabouts when I leave. I'm careful to make sure the door is closed, but not to make sure the dogs are on the right side of it.

Speaking of home, I received a letter from section 8 today that I would receive help with my rent. This was a relief after being scared the other day by Wendy's dire predictions of the house not meeting affordability standards for me. Phyllis had received word, too, and a request to submit a lease. She left a message on my machine about it, sounding more than slightly irritated by the whole thing. I know that my tenancy is becoming more trouble than she was expecting. I am very uncomfortable after all she has done for me to be causing her distress. I will be happy to have the initial difficulties with settling in over. It is dangerous to do business with a friend, and I hope I didn't expect too much of us. Since we had no trouble when she lent me money for the car, I believed we could avoid the pitfalls this time, too, as long as I paid my rent on time. I still hope that will be the case. I understand, though, that it can be very tiresome to have continuous demands put on you when you've already done more than anyone could be expected to do.

I still can't download pictures, though I've been trying for hours to find out how to fix the problem. Something is bound to work sooner or later, but until then, I'm frustrated with not being able to include them in my posts. (Like I'd like to kick the computer through the window.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Concerning the Show

I signed up last fall for a one-person show at the gallery to take place this month. Part way through the summer I became disillusioned with the idea of selling paintings, turning them into a commodity, "prostituting my art" as it were. This is not a new idea for me, of course, and rears its head particularly when I can't seem to sell anything. Such is the state of this summer season. I have sold only three paintings, and two of them were priced quite low. Enter the thought, "I can not sell what I like to paint as easily as I can not sell what I paint mainly to please perspective buyers." There is some confusion about what I really like to paint, which confuses the issue further. Am I explaining this clearly? I believe I like to paint what I think of as conceptual art, especially when I am painting landscape and still life. Then when I do my conceptual stuff, I miss painting representative subjects. I like to use my technical skills and dazzle myself (and hopefully my audience) with my expertise. But no sooner does my smug satisfaction surface than I begin to feel superficial, satisfied with a craft that has no substance.

So here I am , long about the middle of July, irked that I am selling poorly, seriously missing the rewarding experience of having somebody turn over some cash for something I have made. This experience is rewarding only because I know it validates me in the eyes of others. I don't make enough money even in the best of times to have it make much impact on my lifestyle. So, I'm driving home from one of my therapy sessions and the idea comes to me that Elizabeth and I could do a show together in the time period that has been allotted to me for my one-person show. Before I go home, I go directly to Elizabeth's and present my idea to her. After a lively discussion of what we will do, we decide on a wildly complicated and convoluted idea vaguely related to myth, with some specific attention to Demeter and Persephone. We will NOT expect to sell anything out of this show so will be free to do whatever we want without worrying about public pocketbooks. The idea lies dormant for many weeks and is mentioned only in reference to the fact that we have done nothing about it.

Only two weeks ago it became evident to both of us that we were not going to be able to follow through on our original idea. It would mean thinking up a specific concept about the myth and then producing work that expressed that concept----------way too much to accomplish in a few days. Luckily we had been purposefully vague in the advertisements for the show, calling it simply "Impressions" without saying of what. Out of desperation, I came up with the idea of using mainly existing work and comparing our different ways of representing women in out art. I had some new work that I did last winter that I had not shown because I did not consider it saleable, and could also use some of my old feminist paintings that I had never had at the gallery. Elizabeth grasped the idea like a drowning woman presented with a life jacket and our exhibition was born. I did one painting of one of her sculptures to tie the thing into a cohesive unit and we had it.

Monday, September 19, 2005


Well, I think I see the problem with putting pictures here. Without DSL it takes much longer than I could have ever imagined. Anyway, here's a picture taken from the deck of the Waco diner during Salmon Festival. Now I'll download a picture of the woman who sold me two pieces of blown glass, and the man whose photographs I admired so much that I bought postcards of them. I have not been much of a photography fan in the past, but David has opened my eyes. If I have the patience to wait, I'll also add a picture of the scene by the breakwater.

1 hour later:

I don't know what's wrong, but I'm not able to download any more pictures, no matter how long I wait. I guess these two are all there are going to be.

Salmon Festival and Elderhostel

It has been a cold and somewhat rainy day which I spent putting my clothes in the closet. Until now I have had to search through boxes and trash bags to find something to put on. The season is changing and soon it will be time to put away my light colored skirts and T-shirts in favor of dark colors and long sleeves. One of the last activities of summer here is the annual Salmon Festival. Tents are set up on the breakwater and hundreds of salmon dinners are cooked and served there. Vendors set up booths, and there are small town activities like tricycle races and talent shows. The day before, the gallery puts on Paint Eastport Day, where artists register in the morning to participate. They paint during the day on location, and then the paintings are auctioned off at the end of the afternoon. It has become a big event and we put on quite a party for the bidders. It was, as usual, fun and successful, making money for the gallery and the participants. I painted two pictures from my vantage point in front of the library, which was the only place I could get a parking place. Not wanting to carry my stuff too far, I set up on the sidewalk and looked first up the street at the library, and then down the street toward the police station. I could hear the phone ringing in the police station all day. Typically, it went unanswered.

Karen was visiting me that week-end, providing me with the only respit I had had from packing and moving activity for weeks. I cooked Chinese food for her and Lisa on Friday night, the first meal I made on my new stove. The next night's meal was provided by the refreshments at the auction, for which I had made some too-sweet coconut bars. There was plenty to eat and drink while the bidding went on. Every painting was sold, thanks to the spirit of the ever-faithful and supportive community, and the event was a rousing success.

The following week, this past week, I taught an acrylic painting class for the Elderhostel group. I had three jovial students who worked hard on their paintings of an ever-deteriorating still life I set up. I used the fruit and vegetables Karen had brought with her and each day the eco-system developing on and above the table where it sat became bigger and more active. We had to remove the cantalope before finishing the paintings because the fruit fly population had multiplied beyond acceptable limits. The green pepper survived the best, but the tomatoes rotted at varying rates that necessitated daily adjustments in composition. Everyone produced some satisfying work and went away happy.

As soon as that chapter was over, Elizabeth and I set to work installing our joint show at the gallery. I'll write about that tomorrow, since I can't seem to get pictures downloaded and I want to illustrate the tale.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Back in Business

It seems like forever since I have been able to use the computer. Because of the phone problem, I couldn't get on line, either, and even after I got the phone, I couldn't get my DSL. Well, phooey on them. After trying to rectify the problem three days in a row, I ripped out my verizon modem and called my former dial-up server. They are not too busy serving other customers to re-instate me, so here I am. Things may happen a little more slowly, but at least they do happen.

Well, I am mostly settled in my new home. Only occasionally do I look around and wonder where I am. The dog yard has been completed by Will and escapes by the dogs have ceased after a tumultuous few days. The chicken fence is up, too, and the girls have been outside on the few occasions when I have been home long enough to supervise them. I'm afraid to leave them out while I'm gone until I'm sure no predators are lurking in the vicinity. The last few weeks have been very busy, but now I look forward to a slowing down of activity and time to adjust to my new environment. The Salmon Festival, Paint Eastport Day, putting up Elizabeth's and my show at the gallery, and teaching the Ederhostel class are all recent events that I will document a little in the next few days (with pictures, of course). Right now I have to get ready to go to the organ concert. Oh, the pace of life in Eastport!

Monday, September 05, 2005


I have been in the new house now since last Thursday, but haven't been able to communicate with the outside world. It seems that there has been no telephone service there for so long that major work needs to be done. Verizon is not very quick to do major work, so I am on their "to do" list. They hope to have me in contact before September 15. Meanwhile, I am as isolated as a person can be in this modern world in the United States of America. Even my post office address has not been changed yet, simply because I keep forgetting to do it.

I am using David's computer to do this post. I didn't realize that I could get to my blog from another computer, but David, expert that he is, assured me that it would be possible. So I sit here in his studio, looking out at the bay, watching the water turn pink and pastel blue. There is the temptation to ignore everything else when a view like this presents itself. A person could get lost in it. But I am anxious to write about my moving in experience, albeit in a reduced form.. The day by day activity was stressfull and full of unease. Doug was mad at Will, Will was mad at Doug, and I was caught in the middle. Doug was the one being unreasonable, at least from my point of view, since Will was doing just what he had promised to do. Doug somehow expected more of him, and less of me. My moving was more than he had bargained for, I think. He is not experienced in moving people, and underestimated what was involved.

I am in the house, though, and happy to be there. Each day I have unpacked and orgainized so that now almost everything is done except my studio. Today I set up my bed, which was a terrible job. Actually most things are terrible jobs, such as installing blinds at the windows. I hope I will not have to do all of this again. I am getting too old for all of the pyhsical labor involved, and go to be exhausted every night. I wake up early, anxious to go on. My mental energy has not slowed down with my physical abilities. I push myself out of the necessity to have things return to normal. I am less driven this time, though, and all in all, things are going smoothly.

David and I went to the performance of Noye's Flood Saturday. I was glad to be in the audience instead of being part of the show as I had planned. I simply couldn't get up the energy to keep up with the rehearsals and performances along with moving. I have rarely enjoyed a performance as much as this one. It is beyond belief what the talent in this small town can produce. I was almost in tears when it was over, so impressed was I at the incredible accomplishment of our little community theater. There was a cast of sixty people, giving everything they had and making a fantastic spectacle. The play was an opera, so all the performers sang. The orchestra was made up of our local children's orchestra along with adults and professional musicians. Kids in the community played the animals brought aboard the arc. It is impossible to decribe the sense of pride and awe I felt, the sense of overwhelming joy at being part of this cmmunity. I am so fortunate to have found this place on the edge of the continent, where I can find such pleasure in the things that should matter in a person's life. Almost daily my faith in human beings is strengthened here, and I can , because I am coming to the end of my lfe, believe that all can be wonderful.