Saturday, November 30, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Here is Thanksgiving, comfortingly the same as past Thanksgivings in most ways.  David, Thom, and I celebrated at our usual places at the table, which was beautifully set .  There is something wonderful about observing tradition just because it is tradition.  The three of us have a history of many many Thanksgivings with other friends and family, separately observing the same holiday.  Like everyone, we all come together and move apart like a huge square dance where partners change according to the caller but the dance itself stays the same.  Behind me pile up the Thanksgivings that included my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, then my husband, my in-laws, my children.

I am glad to have experienced it all in so many manifestations.  Another evolution has taken place and now my turkey and stuffing are made ready for me.  All I have to do is show up at dinner time.  This, too, is nothing more than a version of what has always been. Holidays are family-oriented, but at this point our families have spread out to include relatives we chose ourselves.  It's one more permutation of the ritual.  Our attachments form for reasons other than blood.  They are as meaningful as well.

We are an adaptive lot.
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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Three Boys

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Next Sidewalk Installment

As an aside, I will say that I have nearly started a fire twice with my wood burning tool.  The first time, after admiring my new project at some length in another room, I returned to the dining room to find a skein of yarn smoldering on the table.  The second time it was a piece of paper.  Well, there were no flames either time, but I have resolved to pay better attention.  The wand has to be unplugged to cool down.  Preoccupied with my masterpiece, I simply forgot.

Anyway, after I finished this third shingle, I put it beside the first one and noticed that they fit together like a puzzle.  All I had to do was extend a couple of lines, and the two pieces made one image.  I really like the way it looks.  When I was in school studying art I used to make large paintings comprised of several canvases.  The one hanging over my desk right now is made of three 30x40 canvases lined up side by side.  It's called "Evolution of the Rat." Sometimes I put different sizes together in random shapes.  At the time it had some significance to me that the images started on one canvas and continued on another.  I also painted on top of the images I had already made, usually but not always letting the first one show through.  I was pretty involved with process then, and using painting to mimic the evolution of thought.  Oh academia........I could have happily lived there forever.

Anyway, my sidewalk cracks are quite pleasing to me.  I don't think I will make any more.
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Windy Day

Yesterday was one of the coldest days we have had so far.  As is always the case, the wind makes it seem many degrees colder than the temperature would have you believe.  I got my long winter coat out of the closet for the dogs' morning walk.   Rarely does the water at the bottom of the street have white caps, but the ocean was whirling in many directions and the wind roughed up the surface dramatically.  After I took the dogs home I went back to take a picture.  Of course it doesn't really do the scene justice, but having been there it serves as a reminder of how changeable the sea is, and how beautiful in so many ways.
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Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Another thought.....

Threw some paint on this one.
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Monday, November 18, 2013

Another Thought on Sidewalk Cracks

I walked into the studio this afternoon and spotted the pile of wooden shingles I got earlier this Fall. The sidewalk crack idea has been simmering in the back of my mind and I suddenly saw the shingles as a good work surface.  The wood burning tool seemed like the perfect way to create the image.  So I grabbed a shingle, plugged in the wood wand and set to work.  I'm really quite happy with this and can imagine a series of three or four of these side by side to form a single work.

I am not very inspired lately and have been spending a lot of time sitting around knitting and eating.  I have even begun to gain weight...probably a combination of much less exercise and much more food.  I have always imagined that I would eventually get fat again, as I was most of my life.  I also always knew that when it happened I would be powerless to stop it.  I have really enjoyed being as small as I am now.  I see the handwriting on the wall, though.  A few days ago I made an apple pie and ate the entire thing in two sittings.

This does not bode well.
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

New Beds

 I found at the Dollar Store some dog beds that were only five dollars.  I bought two, since Willy doesn't really like them.  It turned out that they were smaller than the old ones, but Patrick still finds them very comfortable.  Because of their newness, I suppose, their extra soft plushness, he curls inside them.  Benny does, too, though not so often.  I left one of the old ones downstairs in the dining room so there would be a choice, and took the old ones upstairs to the studio.  Heaven forbid that my boys should have to lie down on the bare floor.
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Knitting Projects


I finally finished my sweater, which turned out to be somewhat of a disappointment.  Each part of it was fine, but they didn't fit together as well as they should have and I had to do some slipshod repairs.  For me, the integrity of the whole project was ruined, so my feeling of accomplishment was significantly diminished.  It doesn't look particularly good on me, either.  Well, such is life.

After I was done I made the hat, and some fingerless gloves with the leftover yarn. I discovered and finished a sweater I started years ago, though I didn't feel inclined to make sleeves for it.  I left it as a kind of vest, which is surprisingly intriguing to me.  I've worn it for several days. Now I am moving on to some socks.  I'm not finished with knitting yet.  I observe myself with some perplexity........the way I become so obsessed with a particular activity.  I never know how long my interest will last, or when it will return after I abandon it.

It is an interesting life.  I can indulge myself completely, answering to no one.  I have no schedule, no obligations.  I'm able to follow my own rhythms.  At some point I thought there was such a thing as what I "must do" or "ought to do."  No longer.  I follow my cravings without questioning, self-indulgent to the extreme. And best of all there is no one to judge me.
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Remains of the Day

This time of year I end up walking the dogs at sunset.  Since I am on the east side of the island, the sky is usually nothing really spectacular to see, or at least not as spectacular as sunrise.  Tonight, though, the whole sky was full of pink clouds that grew increasingly colorful as we went down Water St.  By the time we got to the end, the sky was bright orange.  I kept thinking I didn't have time to get my camera, so I just enjoyed the sight.  But the color remained so long that when we got home it was still bright.  I pushed the dogs through the door, grabbed my camera, got into the car and drove to Dog Island.  The sunset was quickly disappearing by then, and all I ended up with was this picture of its quickly fading finale.  I took it through the dirty windshield and didn't think to shut off the flash.  Nevertheless, it's still pretty impressive just the same.
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Monday, November 11, 2013

New Idea

 I mentioned before that I took some pictures of the cracks in the sidewalks in the neighborhood.  I didn't know exactly what I was going to do with them, and I tried doing a big pastel that I didn't like much.  As I was trying to pick things up in the studio, I came across several pieces of yupo paper that had been cut from bigger images.  It occurred to me that they could be the perfect ground for my sidewalk cracks.  I really like this image, and now envision a huge I so often do.  I have more of these small pieces of paper, and the process is simply drawing over the existing surface with pen.  I'm sure the series will be drastically reduced from what I plan, but I might do two or three........
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Old Self-Portrait

Rummaging around in the immense collection of paintings I have accumulated over the years, I came across this rather gruesome self portrait done in 1999 or 2000. Needless to say, I was going through a rather difficult time.  I find the image pretty interesting in that it can be interpreted in any number of different ways.  I had nothing in mind when I did it, but I like to entertain myself trying to figure it out.
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Tuesday, November 05, 2013


 This is a watercolor from the photo I posted last week.  I'll send it as part of  my monthly obligation as Phil's endentured servant.
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A Coat for Willy

It's very chilly in the house and I was afraid Willy would be cold with such short hair.  Wal-mart sells several different kinds of dog sweaters and coats for only five dollars, so I got two of them for him.  This one has a red dog footprint on the back.  He doesn't seem to even notice that he has it on, and certainly it's nothing if not flattering.  I may put the other one on Benny, who is so old and skinny that I'm sure he's cold, too.  I doubt that wearing clothes will be his thing, but if he lets me put it on him, I'll give it a try.
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Saturday, November 02, 2013

One Last adorable...

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Mighty Hunters

 The sports page in today's paper caught me unaware.  With November comes the deer slaughter.  The first week is a "fun for the kiddies" party.  These pictures had me in tears for a good half hour.  Why I tortured myself by reading one of the accompanying articles I'll never know.  "Mighty hunter" teaches son to rejoice in the kill."  Oh, sorry.......the "harvest."  Does it make it more or less wonderful to distance the prey from a living being? To liken it to an ear of corn or a head of lettuce?

I once wrote a letter to the editor about the placement of a picture of a smiling hunter and his dead deer on the front page of the BDN.  My point was that pictures like that belonged on the sports page where they could be easily avoided by readers who were sensitive to them.  Yes, I put it in more graphic and derogatory terms..........After the letter appeared in the paper I received a few phone calls from irate hunters, along with one man who offered to help me avoid the vengeance of of the "sportsman's" club of Maine.  He had seen my letter quoted in their magazine and feared retaliation for me.  He said it had happened to him and left me his number in case I needed help.  That never happened, although the response in the letters to the editor column were incredibly nasty.
There is certainly no doubt that human beings have evolved very little from "lower" animals, who hunt from instinct for survival. The added quality to the killing instinct of mankind is the pleasure we get from's no wonder we are constantly fighting and killing each other.  Our breast-beating outlet runs the gamut of violence from wiping the life out of innocent creatures for fun to engaging in wars.  I have seen photos like the ones on the sports page in history books.  The difference is only that the trophy is a human head, and it is stuck on a pole,, planted in the ground in the path of the opposing forces to scare them off.  It's in our genes, prompting us as children to pick the legs of spiders and kill caterpillars. to take pot shots at birds and squirrels.  With encouragement and rewards for bravery we move on to bigger game.  Our physical selves are too weak to kill most species, but we have brains....the ultimate weapon.  We design and make weapons that grow ever more powerful, since one-on-one killing is no longer satisfying.  More and more we distance ourselves from the effect of the weapons so we can observe our work from a position of safety.  I wonder what will be next.  It seems likely that the weapons we make now take the fun out of the kill.  We have removed ourselves too much.  No matter how much we enjoy pictures, there's nothing like the real thing.  I guess hunting innocent animals is the best we can do.
Quite obviously I am furious that adults continue to teach children to kill with such pleasure.  It's something I torture myself with year after year when November rolls around.  My expedition this morning to take pictures of places where mankind's efforts are in small ways being usurped by other forces of nature.  We are very powerful, I like to believe that in the end deer will be here long after we have become extinct.  We are too full of ourselves, with delusions of grandeur.  We need them, but they don't need us.

 Is this out of my system?  at least for now?  I doubt it..........
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I took Willy out with me this morning while I photographed sidewalk cracks.  I couldn't resist posting this picture that caught Willy's yellow leash hanging from my hand.  I wish I had had it when I was trying to teach perspective to my painting students.  Could they deny that the near end of the leash is bigger than Willy's head?  The flat surface of the photo makes it easier to see than when one looks at it with an eye that flits back and forth between Willy and the leash, unable to focus on the relationship between the two.  I think that I can see this so easily because I have vision in only one eye, making everything flat compared with the normal 3-D view.  Over a lifetime I have developed other ways to judge relative distance.  It's quite an advantage, especially at a distance.  Close up....not so much.
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