Monday, November 27, 2006


My picture of Sabrina and Jesse together failed to materialize because the battery in my camera went dead. I very much enjoyed their visit, which was a little longer than they are usually able to stay. Because of that, it felt like a real family gathering and we had a chance to spend leisurely time together that has been so rare over the years.

They arrived late on Thanksgiving day and stayed through Monday morning. On Friday we cooked deserts and then turkey, etc on Saturday. We had a very nice traditional dinner with all the trimmings. Yesterday Jesse had to write a paper for school, so Sabrina and I went shopping in Calais. We had a great time and I bought a new toaster oven to replace the one that gave up the ghost last week, as well as a few other things.

This morning we had a one-sided Christmas, with me being the recipient and them being the gift-givers. I wasn't financially able to give gifts this early and will have to send them later. I enjoyed my role to the utmost, however, receiving all kinds of wonderful things for my pantry, my bath, and other odds and ends that I never think to get for myself. Because of them I feel like a rich person all year. I also got a beautiful bowl, which I placed on the coffee table and will photograph after the batteries charge. I won't try to describe it, but it is simply gorgeous and perfectly suited to my taste and love of horses. The dogs were thrilled with new toys and home-made treats that Sabrina made out of baby food and wheat germ. Lytton has not forgotten where they are and sits looking at the cupboard where they are hidden.

I hated to see Jesse and Sabrina go, so quickly had I become accustomed to their presence in the house, the sound of them moving around, their laughter, their company. They are very companionable. I am a lucky mother. Posted by Picasa

Glass Panels

These are the panels Joanne made in exchange for the portrait I did of her. She brought them over the week-end while Jesse and Sabrina were here and Jesse helped me install them. They are really beautiful.

I wish I could say that she liked her portrait as much as I liked the windows. However, she was quite chagrined and made no effort to hide her feelings. Eventually she admitted that the work was good, but that she couldn't stand the look of "That old lady." It bothered me to have her so disappointed, even though I knew the portrait was good. She obviously has a self image quite different from the way others see her. At least I think her opinion of herself remained in tact and she was able to keep the blame where she needed it to be.....on my lack of observational skills. By the next morning she was able to agree that it was a beautiful work, even if I hadn't gotten a very good likeness, and she was glad to have it.

I need to do somwthing with the tops of my windows. They look fine without any treatment during the day, but at night they are like big black holes. My current thought is some bmboo shades.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


I had dinner with Will, Lisa, and their family for Thanksgiving. It was such a nice time and an opportunity for me to participate vicariously in something I always longed for but never experienced as a child. I tried to make such times for my own family when I became an adult, but in my own mind, at least, it never came off. I loved seeing the loaded table, the candles, the pretty dishes. The traditional meal was served in abundance and appreciated to the fullest by three generations. It was a congenial group that lacked, for me anyway, the underlying resentment, tension, and rage the characterized the family gatherings of my childhood. It was pure pleasure.

Audrey, the youngest in attendance, made drawings for everyone, and this is mine. She has incredible powers of observation that most adults do not posess. Imagining how the wings of the turkey would look from the front as they folded along the side of the bird, the perspective of the beak and wattle, and how the tail feathers fan out to both sides of the turkey's neck are feats of foreshortening that many of my former adult students never could grasp. Her sense of implied form is amazing, as she draws people partly hidden behind walls or peeking out of boxes. She can draw people lying down from the vantage point of the bottom of the bed, the huge soles of their feet facing front, their small distant heads staring between the feet at the viewer. There is almost always a sense of humor lurking somewhere, too, which Audrey does not point out, but leaves for her audience to discover if they will. The joke, as the rest of the drawing, seems to be mostly for her own enjoyment. I get a kick out of my turkey with its foot resting on the rock. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Final Product

Here is Joanne's portrait after I put the finishing touches on it. I am quite satisfied now and feel that I've done my best. Now somehow we must arrange to meet and exchange painting for glass. One would think that this would be easier than it is, but a feud between Joanne and Elizabeth is causing trouble. Not only will Elizabeth not allow Joanne to stay with her as she used to when she visited Eastport, but she considers anyone who does allow Joanne to visit a traitor. Therefore Joanne and Elizabeth's mutual friend Dominic, who has been putting Joanne up since the rift, has now refused to do it anymore because Elizabeth puts up such a fuss.

Amidst all of this childish behavior, Joanne and I need to accomplish our business. I am certainly not going to allow Elizabeth to dictate how I treat Joanne, yet the situation is a little sticky. How it works itself out remains to be seen. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 19, 2006


I haven't done a puzzle for at least twenty years, but I am so suggestible that hearing my WHCA driver talk about doing them inspired me to buy one about two weeks ago. I wasn't able to think of a place where I could put a puzzle that the dogs wouldn't mess it up until yesterday. Once I thought of opening up the gate leg table and putting it in a corner of the living room, I did a little rearranging and set to work last night.

There is something very comforting about the puzzle. I had chosen a relatively simple one to avoid frustration and I found the activity of searching out the flat-edged pieces of the perimeter quite absorbing. Priscilla had given me some hints about puzzle strategy, and I proceeded with separating out pieces that, in this case, looked like they were part of the barn. What energy my mind expended in examining shapes and colors. My concentration would not have been any more focused had I been on the verge of discovering the true meaning of life. Before I knew it, over two hours had passed.

I like seeing the partly finished puzzle there, too. There is a sense of leisure time spent in old-fashioned innocence, of slow-paced activity and distant, sustainable goals. There's a belief in the inevitability of return, that temporary absense does not indicate permanent abandonment. It is a promise of the fulfillment of potential.

The puzzle was fifty cents well spent. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Joanne, Linus, and Pearl

This is the nearly completed portrait of Joanne and her dogs that I have been working on for the past several weeks. Joanne has made two stained glass panels for my front windows in exchange for the painting. I enjoyed doing it, and I will love having the windows, but every time I barter with someone when it is their idea I usually wish I hadn't. Under those circumstances, it is the other person who wants something from me, rather than vice versa. Yet refusing what they offer in return seems like a slap in the face. Therefore I feel compelled to do what they want, even if I am not crazy about what I will get in return. I much prefer working for money unless the circumstances are ideal.

Anyway, I'm pleased with the portrait and it is what I wanted it to be. Joanne wanted to "memorialize the beautiful young woman' she was, but I convinced her to let me paint her as she is now. I love the way older women look. I told her she would be beautiful anyway, and I think she is. I just hope she agrees. If nothing else, she should love the dogs, whose likeness I captured perfectly, I think. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 13, 2006

Cute Benny

Nobody can look as comfortable as Benny. Posted by Picasa

New Piano

So here is the piano I bought from Dominic. He delivered it just moments ago. I stumbled through a few pieces on it--enough to see that it is so out of tune that even I notice it. At some point I suppose I will have Greg Biss come and tune it, but I really play so poorly that it matters very little how the instrument sounds.

The addition of another piece of furniture to my already crowded dining room really cramps the space, but I am happy with my purchase. I have always had a piano, and it seems only right that one has come back into my life. I have no illusions that this time I will actually learn to play it any better than I ever have, but I like seeing it there-----a giant knick-knack.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

One Sock

This is the first sock I made with the yarn I bought during my shopping spree last week. The yarn is designed to make stripes, which, as anyone can see, it does. I made it on two circular needles, which is an interesting approach I learned about in a book I ordered last year. Now that the first one is done, the challenge is to follow through and make the other one. I was excited to see how the yarn would work, but now that I know it will be hard to work up the interest to finish the project. My last pair of socks was a year in the making, but I have more hope for these. The product is far more motivating. It will be cool to wear these. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bath Day

Two dogs had a bath today, but after that I didn't have the energy or the towels to finish the job. Benny, therefore, got away without suffering the fate of Patrick and Lytton. Both boys were quite well-behaved, but Lytton was on the edge of losing his temper by the time I finished. He snapped at me twice, and I felt that I had been duly warned. I escaped the ordeal unscathed and so did he.

Otherwise I have spent a lazy day wandering from one banal activity to the next. It is the time of year when unexpected good weather drives you to think you should be outside making use of the last warm days and yet you can't think of what use to make of them. In this frame of mind I kept looking outside for inspiration. Then, finding none, I flitted quiltily from one indoor activity to another. I got nothing accomplished except bathing the dogs, though I have a sense of
having readied the "garden" for the winter simply because I managed to plant the eight tulip bulbs David gave me before he went to Florida. I did that job in the pouring rain a few days ago, having procrastinated so long that I thought that even that would prove to be more than I could manage to do for Spring. I was right to assume that the rain had softened the ground. It was easy to dig compared with earlier when I planted my few flowers. All I had to do was make a hole about a foot square and five inches deep. I had been agonizing over this for weeks, thinking that it was such a job I would never do it. You can imagine my pride when I actually got the shovel and put myself to the task. It took me all of ten minutes, and the grand finale was my losing my balance and falling face first into the mud. Nevertheless, I ought to be rewarded by the sight of some beautiful white tulips next May. They are one of my favorite flowers.

I don't know how I got to be so lazy.

Oh, yes.........and I bought a piano. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 06, 2006

Snow and Memory

If I had had my camera with me today, I could have taken a picture of the first snow. We didn't get it here on the coast, but I drove to Bangor and as I turned inland toward that famous town of Meddybemps I began to see snow on the side of the road. The further toward Rte 9 I got, the more snow there was--enough to whiten the fields, like powdered sugar on the green grasses. The rain drops that pelted my windshield were substantive and looked slightly gelatinous, as if they had recently been snow but were melting rapidly as the temperature warmed up. It did, in fact, become a sunny day eventually. By the time I got to Bangor it was clear and dry. I had lunch with Sherillee after getting a flu shot and having blood drawn at the doctor's (to make sure my medication is not causing side effects). We met at my favorite oriental restaurant, where I gorged myself on everything fried. The lack of Chinese food is about the only complaint I have about Eastport.

As I drove back down State St. to head home, it suddenly seemed to me that I was returning to Parkview Avenue where I lived for so so long. It was almost as if the years had melted away and I was coming back from school at the University. I could picture a houseful of people as I entered through the shed door----Ben Joe barking and leaping up on me, cats on chairs and couches. I saw Alain cooking a gourmet meal for some girlfriend, something involving steamed julienned carrots tossed into a serving bowl with unsalted butter, small potatoes boiled with books everywhere, coats, towels....the light in the kitchen was soft against the (fake) brick walls, and warm. I saw Carrie with Pam and Rebecca climbing the stairs, laughing, going up to her room to talk, listen to music, amidst the posters of Duran Duran. Somewhere mixed up in this vision is Gabe sleeping on the couch under a blanket, Jesse sitting on the counter helping me make pelmeni, Andy watching me bake cookies, his chin in his hand. And Rick slinking through the back door headed for the cellar, his portfolio under his arm.

But at the light by the florist shop I put on my blinker and turned left, toward the bridge and away.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Winter Preparations

I had to face up to the fact that winter is coming and so spent some time readying the chicken house. It seems like just the other day that I tore the plastic from the windows to let in the new spring air. Today I trudged down there with my roll of plastic, my scissors, and my staple gun to put it back up. The job was relatively easy and the day was sunny and mild, but I couldn't help feeling a little sad about the end of another Fall. The years really do seem to trip over themselves as one gets older, racing by so quickly that it is impossible to get accustomed to one before it is sliding into the next. I notice this often when I write the date and realize that I never get used to what year it is anymore. I believe that we who live with such dramatic changes of season notice time passing more than those who live in a more constant climate. I remember my father once talking about the fact that if we couldn't perceive change, we would have no sense of time passing. I wonder if nothing ever changed, would there be such a thing as time? We have invented time to organize change, but if nothing changed, there would be no need for time. Well, the point is moot. Times do change.

I also put up one plastic storm window in the dining room. I hoped the job would be less than it was because I want to do all the windows in an attempt to lower my consumption of fuel this winter. I can't say that it was really difficult, but it was time consuming and troublesome. I have trouble with a lot of things that should be easier, because I am so short. Reaching the tops of the big windows in this house means climbing on furniture and balancing on window sills. Once I am there I am always dropping tacks and hammers and other necessities so that I am up and down until my energy is sapped. Nevertheless, I am blessed with determination and eventually the job will get done.

Yesterday I cooked a boiled dinner of corned beef, potatoes, carots, turnip, and cabbage. I also made a cake, which I sampled so much that by the time dinner was ready I had no appetite for it. I look forward to having it tonight. A boiled dinner seems to be a Fall ritual with me. I don't notice it until I smell it cooking, but then I realize that every year at this time I feel the urge to make one. The smell of cloves and black pepper steaming with meat and vegetables is warm and wonderful and comforting. Cold weather has its compensations.