Thursday, December 27, 2012

First Snow

As I always take a picture of my garden in Spring, I try to get the first snow as well.  It has been snowing most of the day, a wet, heavy snow that began as rain in the morning.  After I walked the dogs, I went back out with the camera....there was no way I could take pictures with wild man Willy with me.  He was ecstatic, running so fast he was only a blurr, burying his whole head in the snow, then taking off in another direction.  Patrick was excited, too, and played in a more civilized fashion.  I was afraid I wouldn't be able to stay on my feet with their pulling, but I got back unscathed.

The first picture is just up the street.  First I took it with the flash, hoping for a nice scene with snowflakes in the foreground.  It's snowing too hard for that, though, and the picture is nothing but white dots.  The second picture is of my house as I approach it from the north end.  Both are visible by the grace of fill light editing, so look grainy, but I still like them.  It is very dark out now at five o'clock, but we have turned the corner toward Spring. From now on every day will be longer than the one before.
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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Pop-Up Experiment

 When I arrived for Christmas dinner at David and Thom's there was a very complicated pop-up book on the table that had been sent to them by David's daughter, Martha.  I was enthralled with it and examined it as much as I discreetly could as converstion flowed around me.  This is two views of my attempt to grasp the concept, and I guess I managed the very basic idea.  I'm not sure I will work at this, since I can see that it would involve months of work, if not years, to gain any kind of expertise. 

We had a very nice Christmas dinner with Sydney and Richard, who are both in their usual high spirits despite there very serious health problems.  I was very touched as we drank a toast to ourselves before we ate, everyone with there own private thoughts about how lucky we were to be together.  We all have our own families who are flung far and wide, but this has become  our own tradition.  We are a family, too.
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Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Jeannette and Thelma Memmorial Yule Log

My mother made this chocolate cake filled with whipped cream every Christmas that I can remember.  As children, everyone wanted the end piece because it had the most we consider it too rich.  After she lost her faculties either Mike or I would make it for what family was available, and now we each make one in our separate places. Over the phone we compare our successes or failures, depending on how much the cake cracks as we roll it up.  This year mine was almost perfect, and I discovered a secret to keep it together.  I'm not sure I will share it. 

Thelma enters the tradition in the form of the oval platter I always put it on.  She made it herself as part of a set of ceramic dishes she designed, molded, painted, and fired herself.  They were sold all over New England in gift shops as symbols of the Maine wild blueberry. 

In awhile I will be going to have Christmas dinner with Thom, David, Sydney, and Richard.  It's the traditional group.  I have the feeling it will be the last we all have together, though at this stage of life it's expected, even accepted, that everything ends.  I'm not sad exactly, but it does make one appreciate the present.
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Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Mother's Only Child

 Yesterday I had to clean out the closet in my bedroom so that the wall and ceiling could be repaired.  In the far end of it were three garbage bags I hadn't seen since I moved in.  I knew they were full of my stuffed animals, which had always been displayed somewhere in my various habitats until I moved here.  I could have just moved the unopened bags into the other room, but masochist that I am, I decided to take a look at them.  The expected nostalgia poured over me as I picked up each one, remembering where I got it, when, and from whom.  Memories flew into my consciousness that hadn't surfaced for years.

I was surprised by this doll, though, which I didn't remember having.  It was my mother's, and being hidden with my own toys, escaped the mass slaughter of the rest of her doll collection.  I remember it only vaguely, connected to an incident at the nursing home where she died.  During one of my visits, she told me that her roommate had stolen her baby.  Her guardian and I had been careful to include the doll in the possessions we took with her when she was admitted, so I went to check her room.  The doll was there, as it had been when she still lived at home, dressed in its Christening gown and carefully positioned on her pillow.  No matter how I tried to convince her that it was there, she wouldn't believe me.  Neither would she go to her room to look for herself.  Typical of her, both before and after senility, the truth had no bearing on her reality.  I see that the doll is anatomically correct, a boy. True to form, to her it was a girl and she always dressed it in girl's clothing.

I don't remember if she believed this was a real baby or not.  She did, however, lament that she had never had any other children, which made the abduction of this one particularly cruel.  I don't know what I will do with it now that I have found this doll.  Certainly I can't simply throw away my mother's only child.
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Friday, December 21, 2012

Last Pet Portraits,etc.

These are some of the last pet portraits I did for the horse shelter.  I didn't get to photograph them all, but most are here.  I feel good for having done them, for making such a concrete contribution.

Yesterday I began a post that somehow disappeared.........there is a lot about Blogger that is different in this new version, and I'm having trouble with it.  The gist of it was, though, that I re-read the first book I had made of this blog.  I got it out because I had decided that I was ready to look at the pictures of Lytton.  It has been all this time that I haven't even been able to, but it suddenly became what I wanted to do.  I can't really describe the experience.........I was almost detached.  Probably I had to be in order to do it, but I think it's the first step in my being able to accept that he's gone.  I certainly hope so.  The year since he died has been almost consumed by my attempts to somehow deal with the loss.  

The other thing that came out of my reading the book was a desire to put more into my blog.  I used to write more about many more things than I do now.  I blame that on my camera, in that I wanted a picture to go with every post.  That meant that if I didn't have a picture, I didn't write.  I ended up doing little more than recording my artwork and my comments about it.  I have kept a separate journal, where I have written about many things I thought were not appropriate for Emma to write about.    I had separated from her in my grief........she who was interested in so many things, who found pleasure in the little life she lead.  My new year's resolution is to resurrect her.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mary's Baby

Here is the Jesus I made for the expectant parents under my tree.  He's pretty big, but I didn't check out the mother before I made him.  I may make him some swaddling clothes......
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Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Christmas Tree

 I haven't had a Christmas tree in quite awhile, but this little one was given to me by some new friends, Pierre and Kendall.  They cut it themselves, and it's only about three feet high.  I think it has a bizarre charm, being gangly and sparsely branched.  My decorating is very haphazard, too.  I grabbed what I could easily find in the shed closet.  Most of what I have is too heavy for the tree to support.  The top branch holding my metal angel is bending forward over the creche, probably looking for the baby Jesus, who is conspicuously absent.  I don't know what happened to him, but tomorrow I will make one out of clay. The attendant parents, wise men, and shepherds, and animals need their focal point.

  I'm glad I have this tree. 
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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Two Unusual Sights

Even though I took a picture similar to this soon after Willy arrived, that one was probably the last time he and Patrick slept together until now.  Ordinarily the two have nothing to do with each other.  Willy waits for Patrick's permission before he comes near me, and many time it is long in coming.  Lately, though, it is cold enough in the house for Patrick to want his dog bed.  I keep it near me if I'm planted somewhere, since he likes to be next to me whatever I am doing.  As I turned around to get up from the computer, I was so surprised to see them together that I recorded the moment.  It's evident that Willy isn't completely sure if Patrick's mood will change.  He looks like he knows he could be ousted at any moment. 

It was amazing to see the front page of the newspaper this morning covered with pictures of successful democrats after yesterday's election.  There have been times when I thought my support was the kiss of death for any candidate, but this time the results looked like a copy of my completed ballot.  I was worried about what the outcome of the election might be because it has been a close race.  Even so, the results were pretty decisive.  Apparently most people weren't as stupid as I feared.  I was brought up to believe that any Republican politician  was bad, and so far I've never had cause to change that opinion.  Voting for "the man" rather than the party has always struck me as silly.  How can we possibly know the "man"?( Or maybe sometime the woman) Campaigning is full of rhetoric designed to appeal to voters.  All we can do is know the basic party platform and hope the candidate is forced by his fellow liberals or conservatives to adhere somewhat to those principles.  On the other hand, what do I know?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall and the Beach

This is October and the road to the horse shelter leaves no doubt that Fall is in its full glory.  I took this picture on Shore Road about a week ago ,before Eastport actually showed much evidence of the change of season.  Since we are an island, influenced more by the ocean than the mainland is, the seasons change later. There is about a two week window where we lag behind as if reluctant to give up whatever season it happens to be.  Our tulips are just blooming when the ones in Calais have already gone by, but our trees stay green after the others have turned red and yellow.  We still have rain that hits the mainland as snow.  On this end of the year it is a blessing, but we envy the greening leaves elsewhere in Spring when ours are still bare.  Right now the trees here are just beginning to turn color, but elsewhere they are beginning to turn brown and fall, dry and crinkly, to blow over the roads and fields.

Mike has suggested that I move to Florida near him, where the sun shines and I would always be warm.  For a couple of days I considered the idea, imagining myself lounging by the pool of my new apartment complex, surrounded by landscaped gardens, fountains, and Palm trees.  Rents are cheap there.  For what I pay here I could live in the lap of luxury, albeit a very small lap.  The manicured lawns in those communities are a special kind of grass that resembles astro turf, thick and tough.  We consider a "lawn" anything that isn't dirt or pavement.  There is no such thing as a weed........anything green counts as grass. I thought about it as I hunched in my two sweaters and sweatpants under a blanket on the couch.  In fact, I agonized over the idea for days.  Eventually, though, I came around to what I knew all along was the case.  I am here and will stay here.  I love every inch of Eastport.  I belong here.

To solidify my conclusions, I took Willy and Patrick down to the beach to play.  Looking out over the rocks and seaweed into the huge expanse of ocean is always a way that other beaches are not.  For one thing, I am the only one there.  There are no beach chairs and umbrellas, no tanned bodies in skimpy, unflattering bathing suits sprawled on blankets.  No coolers and iced drinks.  It's a beach indifferent to human presence.  You get a good lesson of where you fit in the scheme of things on my beach.  There is something very humbling and comforting about confronting  your own insignificance.  The beaches in Florida give you a sense that they were made for you to enjoy.  The evidence of humanity overwhelms them.

Meanwhile, as I contemplate my place in the universe, Patrick and Willy run full speed over the rocks, loving their freedom.  Willy confronts the water, steps into it, sniffs and then tastes it.  The small waves slap against his legs and he takes off, only to challenge it again, following the waves as they recede, and then jumping back as they come in again.  Patrick is not so brave, but he buries his nose in the seaweed and brings up a sea urchin, or a little shell.  He runs down the beach and back again.  He picks his way up the huge mound of rocks that are exposed by the low tide.......Clark's ledge...looks out over the sea.

Why would I ever leave?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Playing with Pastel

I'll never understand why I keep wanting to do pastel, but here I go once more.  The first one is my successful attempt to get a good dark value by adding water once I had the picture pretty much complete.  It's another version of the view from my window, obviously.  I seem to have much more interest in experimenting with various mediums than with subject matter.  The second is another repeat.  I did it on top of a failed watercolor, which gave an interesting surface to start with.  I found myself remembering my passion for showing the process that led to the finished work that I once took to such extremes.  When I was in school, I used to paint many paintings on one canvas, covering each one with another, leaving evidence of all as I layered them.  As with so many of my thoughts and actions, it is really a statement that mocks a common belief...that art is supposed to represent reality.  Abstract expressionists forced it down the still unwilling throats of the public by leaving representation completely out of their work, or using it as a very obvious symbol of something else.  The acknowledgment that cameras portray reality much better than paintings ever could traumatized them.  Flaunting this fact is near and dear to my heart.  My mentor, Mike Lewis, painted representational scenes (sort of) but he had them framed with the edges of the paper showing.  Otherwise, he said, he might as well  pretend the 20th century never happened.My landlady in Bangor, a doctor and certainly a weird person, said that paintings are colored rectangles.  Most viewers fail to divorce the painting from its subject.

So.....this piece is my newest experiment in this direction.  In the past, I poured out my emotions and ideas, then covered them with new emotions and ideas provoked by the first ones.  It was hard to know where to stop.......what idea was worthy of being the one that stayed in view.  Now I am playing with the idea itself.  I am certainly glad that I have art to occupy me, to take up my time and my aspirations.  The fact that it all gets buried behind us as we move along is such a great metaphor for life, as well as death.  Each work is neither precious  nor irrelevant.  It just is, and then isn't.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Sequence, and Weather Report

My idea of photographing my progress toward recovering watercolor skill didn't really come off as I hoped. It's too hard to see the differences with such little pictures.  Nevertheless, here it is.  The last one is looking out my bedroom window, and I actually moved from my studio to do it, hoping that some of my troubles had to do with copying photographs or other paintings.  I did manage to do a much better job, and was very encouraged.

Today it is pouring rain outside.  It is cold, damp, and dark in the house.  I wanted to make something wintery for my supper and decided on baked beans.  I don't really like baked beans very much, but I didn't want to go to the store to get different ingredients.  Corned Beef would have been good, or pot roast.  I could have made some bread.  My old favorite Arroz con Cerdo came to mind as well, but all would have required a trip to the market.  This is how I disappoint myself at this stage in my life.  I settle for the easiest path, so the result of most of my efforts is a diminished substitute for what I really wanted.

Well, the beans have soaked and now I must simmer them for an hour before I put them in the oven.  It will be late when they are done.......perhaps around ten o'clock.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Patrick's Haircut

Patrick looks so adorable with his new haircut that I tried to take his picture.  Not surprisingly, Willy made it impossible, lunging at me, lapping my face, wiggling the camera.  The last picture does at least show Patrick posing in the background.  Behind him is, of course, Benny asleep in his usual downstairs place.  Later he will move upstairs to my bed until suppertime.  I love these dogs, but thoughts of Lytton still invade my consciousness several times a day.  If I catch them in time, I can prevent tears.  Usually I can't.  I cry silently now, at least, so progress is being made, and I can distract myself fairly quickly.  Nothing fills the hole he left, though, and there is no doubt in my mind that I will carry it to the grave.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Watercolor, At Last

For weeks I have been trying to paint with watercolor, inspired by looking at the ones I did years ago.  I studied my own paintings at great length, but just couldn't do it.  While this is not the subject matter I did before, it does look like a competent watercolor and I am thrilled.  I think I will take pictures of the will be interesting to see how they change as I struggle.  Several times along the way I almost gave up, thinking that I had to relegate what I thought of as my expertise to the past.  I kept going back, though, unable to accept that I had lost it.  I have been rewarded and encouraged.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Latest Project

I've been doing many different things, scattering myself around with sculpture, painting, puzzles, crocheting, sewing, housework, reading, working at the shelter........every day passes in a flurry of short bursts of activity.  I guess I feel that the most notable is this series of clay heads I am making out of self-hardening clay.  They are 3-D versions of the Szondi Test heads I painted last winter.  I have done more than just these four, but photographed these just because they were handy. They are a little over two inches, with flat backs in anticipation of being hung up.   After I had done several of them I got bored and modeled a fetus, also using the painting I did for reference.  I'll resume this project, though.

Otherwise the summer has gone by as summers do.  Now the Cosmos that I planted from seed is blooming prettily, always evidence of the onset of Fall.  There have been only a few very hot days, so the whole season had an air of unfulfilled expectation.  There was neither disappointment, nor satisfaction, though, only a mild sense of having missed something that ought to have been there.  Carrie visited a few weeks ago, on her birthday, and our time together was beautifully enjoyable.  How wonderful it is that our relationship has never faltered, never been tumultuous. Since the day she was born she has been nothing but a joy.  Being a parent to both my children has far exceeded any expectations I had when Phil and I decided to have a baby.  The reality that what you are doing is making another human being is slow in coming.....very slow.  I really miss seeing and knowing Jesse as an adult.  He and I had a considerable amount of time together by ourselves, after both Phil and Carrie were both gone.  We were very comfortable, moving in separate but somehow compatible worlds that overlapped in pleasant, meaningful ways.  Well, at least that's how I saw it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Before and After

These pictures don't show things exactly as I intended since the second one is after the sun was gone, but I worked hard this afternoon to make the garden look neat.  Everything was overgrown, weeds were everywhere.  Most of the plants have finished blooming, though you can still see some Cosmos that I planted from seed and some of that Flox type stuff that takes everything over.  The Seedum is going to turn pink soon.  I've kept up with things this year better than most, and it's only been the last few weeks that it has begun to look shoddy.  Since I haven't been going to the horse shelter to work, I have had more time to do these domestic things.

Today, though, I told Renee, who is in charge of volunteers, that I would be returning to my old schedule in September.  My shoulders have not completely recovered, but I feel that I can do the work now.  I've been going once or twice a week for awhile, doing more each time.  Yesterday I conquered the last hurdle...the dreaded manure pile.  Dumping the wheelbarrow full of manure is the hardest thing we do (at least I think so).  It was always hard for me, but I got to the point where I just couldn't do it.  Shoveling is bad enough, but pushing a full wheelbarrow up a narrow board to the top of a huge hill of poop, then turning it upside down, is quite a challenge.  Yesterday I found that by using the smallest wheelbarrow and keeping my load relatively small, I could do it.

Having thus recovered, I am going back four days a week.  I will be glad to be doing something that is really worthwhile and allows me to be intimately involved with horses.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

New (and probably last) Doll

Okay, enough already.........Certainly I have dolls covered.  My intention was to learn the basics of using clay and then make a three-dimensional version of the Szondi faces I did last winter.  That's still my plan and it's time to get moving on it.  I have done a couple of the faces and found it very difficult to get any kind of likeness.  Up till now I have let the faces do what they wanted, but trying to make specific individuals is another story.  Well, good.  It will give me a new challenge.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


I had to take one more picture after I had finished the white blouse.  I don't know if I will make shoes, I love the feet so much I hate to cover them up.

New Friend

I must be possessed by doll-making gods..........

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

My Clay Doll

Once I had made the cloth dolls, I decided to make a clay head and limbs with a cloth body  This is the result.  Willy made the hair out of a spool of quilting thread.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Fruits of My Labor(Two of them)

If you plan on making a doll, think twice.  Here is the result of many full days of work....mistakes, poor workmanship, redoing, aggravation, questionable results.  The feet are my crowning achievement, but they are not enough to call this project a total success.  The sandals, which I crocheted in about ten minutes, are the most interesting and "cute" thing about it.  This is not to say that I am through with doll-making.  I am not satisfied with what I have accomplished and can not stop until the quality of my work is at least satisfactory.  I've learned a lot, and I hope to improve considerably with my second, and hopefully last, attempt.

My house was inspected today by the Section 8 police and passed muster for the fourth time.  I will continue to have a roof over my head for another year.  Of course this will not hold if Phil's lawsuit against me is successful and I loose my income.  My disbelief that this is happening has turned to indifference....a function of self-preservation.  Since I lost me beloved Lytton, all of my emotional output focuses on his absence.  Everything else pales by comparison.  I spend days at a time obsessed by thoughts of him and the consequences of his death.  Death itself looms large in my mind.  I've decided that the middle of life is the best, when there is a certain consistency.  The troubles of the past, of arranging what will be your life, are over.  The future stretches before you, endlessly.  There is still room to change, make plans for the future.  Dreams might come true.  Then slowly possibilities slip away, all that seemed permanent disappears.  People  who have been alive forever, and presumably would be there forever, begin to vanish.  Options time left for a new career, a trip to Europe, another baby, a new puppy.  Every action must be measured against a short, indefinite future.  There is a finality about most things.  Every experience might be the last.

My father always said that no one ever knows when life will come to an end.  Being old is no different from youth in that respect.  Well, perhaps so.  But young people have reason to be optimistic about their own longevity.  They can pretty much ignore the fact that their lives will end.  Not so as one ages.  I must admit that I am more fascinated than chagrined at the changes in my appearance.  My wrinkles and moles and an visible blood vessels intrigue me.  Nevertheless, they are changes that are pretty much irreversible.  A diet or a new hairdo won't change me much.  There is comfort in that.  There is comfort in knowing that others' expectations are minimal.  Inadequacy in both physical and mental tasks is expected.  Freedom.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

My Latest Project

It came to me the other day that I would like to try making dolls, so I ordered a book on beginning doll making.  It turned out not to be what I wanted because I thought of ceramic dolls.  This was about making cloth dolls, so, always flexible, I decided to give it a try.  This is my first attempt.  I haven't made the body yet, but I found this pretty interesting.  The book has instructions on sculpting faces, hands and feet.  I'm seeing a lot of potential here as I get better with the technique.  This face stayed pretty flat, despite my efforts.  I need practice.  Painting the face was fun, using watercolor pencils. I made the hair out of yarn left over from something else I must have knit...I don't remember.

My mother used to make dolls out of clay that baked in the oven.  They were the size of Barbie dolls and she sewed beautiful period clothes for them, including the underwear.  For that reason I was never interested in doing it myself..........fear of being like her.  I must have gotten over that.....

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Strange-looking Bird at the Feeder

Believe it or not, this is the first squirrel I have ever seen in Eastport........he's cute with amazing feet, holding on to the screen.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Delicious Bread

I haven't made bread for a long time, but Thom gave me some wheatberries to try.  I used them in this very simple recipe for Hearth Bread and am delighted with the results.  I ate half a loaf right out of the's as good as any bakery bread I've ever had.  Yummy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Blurry but cute Willy with new toy, plus update

I keep forgetting how much fun it is to watch a puppy play.  I bought two squeak toys yesterday, not knowing how popular they would be.  The house just resounds with the sound of squeaking.  Even Patrick is interested once in awhile, particularly when he sees Willy.  The two often are influenced by what the other is doing, which is sometimes good and sometimes bad.

I've been sewing lately, and painting boring pictures.  My days are long, punctuated by depressing, emotional bouts of missing Lytton.  I have not been able to work at the horse shelter because of my sore shoulders, but after a round of physical therapy I am going back for the first time today.  I will be on light duty until I see how it goes, but I hope to be able to go regularly again.  I won't go every day,  but I'd like to manage two or three.  Time will tell.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

My Harvest, Plus Patrick and Willy Yet Again

So, this is my crop so far.  My 2x2 foot vegetable garden is doing well except for the dill.  I stepped on the seedlings earlier when I was working on something else, which most likely is the cause of their demise.  The cucumber plants are growing pretty well, but I don't see how they will have time to produce cucumbers........we'll see.

A few minutes ago Patrick and Willie were lying at my feet so contentedly together that I had to take a picture.  Patrick is so jealous and aggressive toward poor Willy that moments like this are rare.  In fact, the reason for Patrick's presence was caused by my playing with Willy.  Patrick was upstairs sleeping on the bed and Willy was downstairs with me.  I took the opportunity to pick up one of the dog toys and start a game.  Willy loves to play, but he's not allowed by Patrick.  I tried to be quiet, but Willy started growling playfully.  Patrick heard him and started barking.  He flew downstairs to stop the game.  I prevented him from beating Willy up, but that was the end of it.  A few minutes later they were together on the floor, but I suspect that Patrick was making sure that nothing concerning toys was going to take place. He's gone now.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Boys on the Couch

The color in this picture is way off, but probably that is because I took it through the glass of the doors to the living room.  In any case, it's rare that all three dogs sit together, so I wanted to capture the moment.  (Benny is on the back of the couch.