Saturday, August 30, 2014

Comeback with Flowers, Artificial and Real

I have been without a computer for two weeks, just one of  many problems and inconveniences.  I did manage to take pictures of notable changes in the garden as Fall flowers begin to take over.  The first picture is my first successful origami flower.  Since then I have made many more, as I distract myself from feeling totally overwhelmed.  My car can't be driven because of mechanical trouble I can't afford to fix.  I am therefore housebound. By spells my phone and TV have refused to work.  I have overdrawn my checking account to the point that this month's deposit only brought me up to zero.  It's amazing how one problem can lead to so many others, the last being this morning's realization that it is Paint Eastport Day.....a chance to make a little money by selling a painting.  Since I have no car, I asked Diana to take me downtown to register and paint.  When I came home to get the necessary paraphernalia, I realized I had no canvas.  I decided to obliterate another painting, covering it with white paint.  Then when I tried to pack up, I discovered I had very few tubes of acrylic paint, and those were not the colors I use.  Still, I thought I could be adventurous with the ones I had..........white, blue, green and magenta.  Then I discovered all my acrylic brushes had turned to little bricks for lack of washing thoroughly after their last use.  Well, I could make do with watercolor brushes.  When I realized I also didn't have a usable palette for acrylics or oils, I decided perhaps I could do watercolor.....but no watercolor paper.  At that  point I became overwhelmed with frustration and decided I was defeated.  Besides, I had things to deal with at home.  My TV, my router, my keyboard, and my mouse weren't working.  I had given up on them all and gone to bed last night, but I knew I had to face them today.  I have obviously managed to get the mouse and keyboard functioning.  The rest is still ahead of me.

It would be possible for me to go on about how one thing leads to another, leads to another, leads to another for quite some time.  But I won't.  There are origami flowers to be made.  And thank goodness,dogs and chickens.............

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Two new works

Since I don't think anyone looks at my painting blog, I decided to post them here, too.  I am really having a good time with this woodburning.  I think everyone I do is getting better.  They look like illustrations from an old book.  I got this image of the woman with the cats out of a book of Rockport artists that was published back when the Art Association was first formed.  Her name was Edith Lowell and she painted in pastels.  After looking at her for so long, I feel as if I know her.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Lilies, etc.

I bought these lily bulbs on the discount counter at Mardens late in the Spring.  I always question my purchases made at a salvage store, but I risked it.  They are so beautiful I wish I had bought more, and certainly I will get more in the spring.  Planting bulbs is a leap of faith, of confidence that the time will come when they will grow and bloom.  In my case, it is also an expression of my hope that I will still be here to see them, in this house,to see my garden rejuvenate itself. 

I am feeling increasingly insecure about my ability to pay my expenses here.  I explore the possibility of assisted living housing for the elderly ( a term I can not believe applies to me, yet it does), where I would have basically two rooms to live in.  The apartments are modern and clean, with laundry rooms in the basement and a community room on the first floor.  In my imagination they have group activities like playing cards, communal puzzles, and sing-alongs.  One pet is all they allow, if they allow them at all.  Heat is included in the rent, which is the only redeeming feature for me.  I try to imagine myself in such a place.

I see myself with no dogs, no chickens, no studio, no garden.  I see myself leaving this house I love and have lived in for so many years.  The picture is unacceptable.  Everything that constitutes who and what I am would be gone.  Yet every year my fixed income buys less than the year before.  At the same time the benefits I used to get because my income is so low are being  taken away.  Prices are going up on everything as well.  I try not to think about this, but as it gets harder to manage it seems that I am in a constant state of financial emergency. 

Well, there's no point in complaining about it, and I really am not complaining, but worrying.  It's hard not to talk about it because it is such a large factor in my existence.  Yet I know it sounds like whining.  Off and on I  feel overwhelmed.  I am happy at my core, though, and resilient.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

My First Harvest

I discovered a couple of days ago that my zucchini plants were starting to make real zucchini.  I didn't mean to pick this one today, but it broke off when I picked it up to get a good look.  It's 7 inches long, so actually a good size to eat.  Back in my days as a sort of farmer, I remember zucchini growing so big you could almost mistake them for watermelon.  Everybody in the little town we lived in was always looking for somebody to give them to as we all started to get buried in the things.  I do like it and will eat it, but I'm only one person.

Our four acres in Newburgh were covered with blackberry bushes.  The first year we lived there we were surprised and somewhat taken aback when neighbors started appearing with buckets to pick them.  It irked me that people were swarming over our land without asking permission.  Fortunately I didn't show my feelings and I later realized it was assumed that the blackberries were available to first lesson of many in how that community worked, and how different it was from what I was used to.   Gradually I learned the ways of that little community and was very happy there for some time.  I learned to eat pig ears, milkweed, and a variety of other plants I had always considered weeds.  When our garden started to produce, the pace of keeping up with harvesting, cleaning, canning, freezing, and pickling was almost impossible.  My kids were little then, and they helped as much as they could.  Blackberry pie, blackberry bread, blackberry muffins, blackberry pancakes, blackberry jelly and jam...there was no end to them.  Even the country doctor I had then came to pick.  We ate lettuce in every way greens can be eaten, including boiled, like spinach.  I learned to cook food that I had never heard of.  As the fall moved on, the other gardeners started coming to the house with produce from their gardens, trying not to waste the last of the crops.  We accepted only if they agreed to take some of our excess in return.  The best thing about the harvest was the green tomatoes that were still abundant as it turned colder.  My friend Mrs. Belgarde (I never called her anything else despite our close relationship) taught me how to make green tomato mincemeat.  I had jars and jars of it all winter and loved it.  The worst thing was soaking broccoli in salt water and watching the wormy creatures that were hiding there float to the surface.  One was never sure if all of them were gone, so you had to watch for them at the dinner table.  The treatment was far from foolproof, and to this day I can't eat broccoli unless I see the cellophane it was wrapped in.  I still make the mincemeat if I can get green tomatoes.

There were some aspects of the country life I really disliked, most them involving the huge variety of species I preferred not to share my life with.  There was a picturesque stone wall around our property that had long been claimed by a multitude of snakes.  There was rarely a time when I opened the door that I didn't find at least one lounging on the front step.  They were in the grass, in the place was safe.  They even lived in the stone foundation of the house.  Then there were the bats.  Going outside at dusk was to be treated to the mass exodus from wherever they spent the day.  Hundreds of them hung out of our trees on the front lawn before taking off for parts unknown and unseen.  When they got in the house it was very difficult to show them to the door.

Slugs were the next creature I never liked to come across.  There are slugs in gardens here, but they are almost not the same species as country slugs, which are as big as the palm of my hand.  There's something unpleasant about things without hair and legs, especially when they slither along leaving a trail of slime.

Also on my list....rodents.  We had rats that wouldn't fit in a half gallon milk carton.  I know this because one died in a heating vent in our dining room.  The smell of it alerted me, and drips of some unknown substance kept appearing on the floor.  I couldn't imagine what was going on, but finally I looked up to the ceiling.  I saw some clawed feet hanging through the vent, at which point I walked away and waited for my husband to come home. After he plucked it from the vent he insisted that I look at the rat just to prove how big it was....and it wouldn't fit into the milk carton he had taken upstairs to put it in.  Most nights we could hear thumping and running around above our heads.  We told each other it was the cat.  There were moles and mice in the cellar, and they visited upstairs often.

Lastly, insects.  It was the place where I made the acquaintance of June bugs.  They look like moths on steroids and when they land they stick.  My greatest single act of motherly love was when one landed on Jesse when he was about three.  He was shrieking and crying, and no matter how much I wanted to run in the other direction, I actually took that bug in my fingers and tossed into the air.  Blackflies prevented us from enjoying the outdoors, as well as mosquitoes.

I was young when we had our country experience, and obviously squeamish.  If I lived there now none of these things would bother me, except maybe the rats.  I have since plucked bats from the wall and put them outside, picked up snakes, examined slugs up close.  I find mice cute and June bugs harmless.  I wouldn't kill any living thing...even a bug.

 I now live part way between the country and the city.  It is the best of both worlds.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Where's the Water?

I have lived in Eastport for 12 years (more counting my three abortive attempts), and have never seen the tide so low.  As I walked down the hill with the dogs this morning it looked as if someone had changed the world during the night.  For perspective, the pole sticking up from Clark's Ledge is underwater at high tide, to warn ships and smaller boats. I have seen the ferry so close to the cliff that I could almost step onto its deck, but this morning it was barely visible, far out in the fog that shrouds Campobello Island. The ridges on the beach show how the tide progresses as it inches its way toward the cliff.

I have said it many times, and I have to say it again, nature is a constant surprise on this little island.  If I walked my daily walk, less than a city block, for a hundred years I would never see the same thing twice.