Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lytton Revised

Lytton and I both had appointments today in Bangor to have a physical. I have been worried about Lytton's recent behavior. I thought he had an ear infection, or something worse, because he has been shaking his head constantly. He's been demanding and whiny, pacing around and seeming very uneasy. I decided to take him to see Dr. Cloutier, who was my veterinarian when I lived in Bangor. We have been in touch off and on over the dogs' problems, and he did Lytton's two surgeries. I trust only him with the life of my boy. We made arrangements for me to leave Lytton at the clinic while I went to have my physical. I wanted Lytton to have a complete examination so that I could stop obsessing over his health.

The day started out tentatively. For the first half hour of the 2 1/2 hour trip I fretted over the weather and considered turning back. It was still spitting snow after a night of heavy winds and several inches of new snow. The predictions had it that all would soon be well, though, so I took the chance. Eventually it cleared up and the sun was out by the time I got to Bangor.

Everything went as planned. I dropped off Lytton and went to my own doctor. Both of us were examined thoroughly. Both of us were pronounced healthy. Lytton's exam was much more rigorous than mine (and more expensive), with x-rays included. I saw his spine (some very small spots of arthritis), his lungs, his kidneys, his bladder, his intestines. All was as it should be. His ears and eyes were fine. Apparently he is just a spoiled brat with all his demands for attention and not in pain as I feared.

The upshot of the whole thing was that I charged $300.00 on my special pet care credit card and left with peace of mind and a short-haired dog who I could hardly believe was Lytton. I had asked them to groom him, but I didn't expect to leave a Llasa Apso and come home with a cocker spaniel. Nevertheless, I was ecstatic that he got a clean bill of health and I didn't care what he looked like. We had a tense ride back because of the early darkness. I hate to drive in the dark and had planned to get back while it was still light. There was a mix-up with my medication, though, and before it was straightened out an extra hour had gone by. The last fifty miles of the trip I was mostly guessing where the road might be. The headlights on my car have the strength of two flashlights, even on high beams. It was nerve-wracking to say the least, but we arrived safe and sound.

I must say that I'll be glad when Lytton's hair grows out. Right now he has a look only a mother could love........
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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Dinig Room View

This painting, another 8x10, is what I see when I'm sitting at the table. It is the most familiar sight in Eastport for me, since it's the same view from Diana's dining room. All those years I came here as a visitior I looked at it. It defined the place. There used to be a canning factory where the chimney is, and I'm told that the owner of that factory also owned the house I live in. What a symbol that chimney is of Eastport's history, and its present, too, for that matter. The town is very conscious, and proud, of its past thriving sardine industry. It is struggling to find a new identity, but right now we are still in the shadow of former times without a clear vision of the future. It's difficult.

Many people who come here to live from other places are attracted to the small town atmoshpere and simplicity of life. Nevertheless, they are usually the ones who have ideas about how to change the place. They fear the death of the town if economics don't change drastically. Well, the town as it is will die one way or another. What drew us all here can't survive modern times. Something has to change. Eastport may become a tourist town, or a retirement community, or an artist retreat. It is a little of all of those right now, mingling with the remaining fishermen and local businessmen. It's a strange mix, but the natives are slowly being overtaken.

Even though I am one of the outsiders, I hope for the delay of "progress." It has already changed a lot since I moved here ten years ago. The deserted downtown streets have come alive with a musical chairs of five or six tourist-based businesses. Every summer they swap locations for reasons I can't fathom and do their best to attract tourists. There are whale watches and sunset cruises. There are new bed-and-breadfast establishments. There is a museum, and even our dressed up gallery. There is a social calendar too full of town events for anyone to keep up with. We have brought the other world with us. We think we can keep the charm while making so-called improvements, but instead we destroy what attracted us in the first place.

I feel confident that the town will survive in some incarnation, but I'm counting on the slow wheels of progress to protect me.
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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bathroom Window,Thoughts of Alice

I started this small painting last week when I noticed this view out the bathroom window. In the summer when the trees have leaves on them I don't realize how much I can see of the neighborhood. These houses are all on Clark street. The white house at the left edge is the place where I lived years ago (also pictured in the earlier painting looking out the shed door). I looked forward to doing all the bare branches in this one since I had never undertaken such a profusion of them. I was very content at Sydney's on art day picking away until I figured out how to get the idea across. Once I accomplished it, I couldn't take my eyes off them. I was so enthralled that it took me days to get back to the finishing touches of the rest of the painting, mainly adjusting values. The trees were wonderful but everything was one mass of jumbled shapes. Today I lightened and darkened until things fell into their own place in space. I like this painting very much, but I'm not sure it's for the right reasons. I'll have to get over my love affair with the trees and bushes before I can see the thing with any kind of objectivity.

While I am at it, I may as well say a few words about Alice. I am in touch with her by phone every week. It's hard to describe the serge of emotions I feel when I think about her. Her life has fallen apart so completely that it's indescribable. To think of her as she was before she got sick is almost unbearable to me. She struggled against so many obstacles to get where she was, and now she has lost it all. I saw her so strong, so compassionate.... a person with unlimited curiosity and such a thirst for knowledge. She gave so much to other people, to me. To say that life is unfair is a gross understatement where she is concerned. Life has been cruel, even sadistic toward her. I am struck dumb when I try to absorb it all.

It is impossible for me to help her, to be to her what she was to me. I am powerless and frustrated. I want to wrap my arms around her, bring her home, and take care of her.
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Thursday, January 17, 2008


Off and on this week I have been struck with the urge to cook. It was so owerful that one day I made pie crust, expecting inspiration for a filling once it was done. Nothing came to me, though, so I put the crust in the refrigerator to wait. The next day I decided to get apples for the pie. It looks wonderful in the picture, and the crust was. The filling, however, had a strange taste I couldn't identify. I still ate some of it, of course. That was several days ago. Only yesterday I remembered I had made some inedible tapioca pudding earlier that had the same strange taste. Then, the Aha! reaction........I had used tapioca to thicken the pie. I almost never do that, but the box of tapioca was still sitting on the table from the pudding disaster. I used it rather than bother to get out the flour. Apparently tapioca isn't at its best after eight years.

My orange marmalade is edible, and actually quite good if you like big chunks of fruit and peel in a sticky-sweet jelly. I used to make marmalade a lot, but haven't for several years. I forgot to slice the peel before I put it on to cook. Then I didn't worry about the size of the chop of the oranges and lemons. The chunks were big. To top it off I had only one lemon when the recipe called for two, which accounts for the over-sweet results. I'm still eating it on my toast in the mornings and it has the essence of marmalade, which I love. Some of it is hard to chew..........
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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Raye's Mustard

I painted this little 8x10 from a photo I took during one of those big snowstorms we had. I was in the IGA parking lot looking over at Raye's Mustard Mill. Rabee, a watercolorist who belongs to the gallery, painted from the same picture and posted it on his blog, which is listed on my sidebar. I love seeing the two of them....such different interpretations of the same thing. Actually mine is not really an interpretation because I was simply copying the photo, but Rabee's is very exciting. I do think I really got the day down well, though. It looks cold and snowy, just as it actually was. I painted it at Sydney's yesterday, the first art day we have had for quite awhile because of the holidays. It was great to be back at it.

Today I painted in my own studio. It was nice to really get down to work there. I found that the afternoon sun hits me right in the face, so I will have to set myself up elsewhere. Otherwise I liked working there. I noticed a nice view from my bathroom window this morning, so I took a picture of it and used it as subject matter. Painting Eastport is quite entertaining even though I don't have the passion I felt for the Epping Road series. Something like that doesn't happen very often, though. It takes a particular set of circumstances to set it in motion.

Meanwhile, these Eastport paintings keep me interested, and they are also appealing to others. This one is already sold.
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Monday, January 07, 2008

Work in Progress

I've been working little by little on painting the floor in the upstairs hall. It needed a paint job anyway, so I thought I'd try to do something more interesting than just slapping another coat of gray paint on it. So far it has been a boring job and therefore goes slowly. Also I can't spend too much time around wet paint without the inevitable dog disaster. Once I get the basic tiles done, though, I expect some stoke of genious to descend apon me and let me know how to finish it. Meanwhile, I enjoy the starkness of it. I've always liked a plain black and white checked floor and never had one. This is red, since that's the paint I had left over from the time I planned to paint the floor of the deck on Wilson St. The color doesn't work very well with the walls, but this is the kind of thing that inspires creativity.

I am anxious to see what happens.
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Friday, January 04, 2008

Fibonacci on my Birthday

Well, if this wasn't a nice birthday surprise. I have long preached the Fibonacci sequence, the Fibonacci curve, as if I had made it up myself. Probably many of my listeners thought so, too. Relationships in nature follow a predictable sequence described by the Italian mathemetician Fibonacci (I doubt if I have spelled his name correctly). The ratio is 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, etc. ad infinitum. You can see it in everything from the milky way to the trail of a sidewinder in the sand. The bones of the human body relate to one another this way. Look at your own fingers to see it; the smallest joint is the smallest, the second twice that size, and the longest is the length of the first two combined. I have always been fascinated by this.

This afternoon, just as it was getting dark and I opened the door to let the dogs out, there it was. The wind had swirled the snow into a perfect Fibonacci curve and left it for me. There is the shape of a snail shell and the shape of the universe. There is the perfect order of things, consistent in all that lives, breathes, and simply exists in our human awareness.

It's humbling to see such an all-pervasive truth that has nothing to do with human initiative, and also comforting that we are part of something so huge we can't envision it. God, specific to this planet if He depends on human beings, apparently CAN make a rock so big He can't lift it.
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