Thursday, October 06, 2016

So, About a Month Later, and Poetry

Well, it's been awhile.  Yesterday I drove to Bangor and the Airline Road was bursting with colorful trees.  Had I not been worried about being late to my appointment, I could have enjoyed the drive more, but the more relaxed way back was glorious.  It seems like just the other day I was extolling the beauty of Spring.  Now Fall brings a different beauty with other emotional overtones.  I guess it is like late middle life when you compare it with a human life-span.  There is beauty without anticipation of more to almost hysterical beauty brought on by knowledge of the looming Winter.  I've wondered if people experience the seasons as we do in other climates.  The changes are more subtle as you move away from the equator.  When I visited the southwest, I thought I understood why "manana" was such a pervasive idea.  With the days so much the same, there is really no reason to hurry.  What can be done today can easily be done tomorrow.  Of course my perceptions of life in hot climates is based on the very superficial observations of a perspiring tourist who couldn't believe anybody would chose to live there.

The top picture is the view from my window, magnified by the zoom of my camera.  In summer there are sailboat races in the bay, bringing gentility.  The rest of the year I see fishing boats and cargo ships in their place, working.  The bottom............a slice of Eastport life in warm weather.  There is a group of men who walk their dogs past my house almost every day.  Sometimes the group is bigger.  It is such a happy group of guys, most of them who are here only in the summer.  I asked them if I could take their picture, and then I did this painting of them.  It made me happy every time I worked on it, and now it makes me happy hanging on my kitchen wall.

As I got ready to sit down and drink my coffee this morning, I came across a book that came with a set of CD's I have of poetry being read.  The book talks about the authors of the poems, who wrote between 1888 and 2006.  It appeared among some forgotten books I was moving to a different spot.  As I thumbed through it, I wished that I was inclined to read more, and a bigger variety.  As it is I spend only about an hour and a half every day on the couch with a book.  I read mostly novels, but there was a time when I listened to tapes, and later CD's, of poems being read by their authors while I painted.  What a sad thing that I stopped doing that.  Poetry ads a whole new dimension to life.  It puts you in another place where things are contemplated and beautifully stated.  The words themselves are the same as what we hear coming out of our mouths every day, yet they are arranged in such a way as to elevate the language, and therefore our thoughts and feelings.

I really must get back to that.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Two New Paintings

I have been busy with visitors'd think I was a gregarious soul, but I am not.  Not only that, but I have another guest coming in a week, my friend Josie from Milwaukee.  Nevertheless, I've painted these two paintings.  The first is the last gasp of the series of the neighborhood around my house.  It started as  a drawing that was going to rival anything in DRAWING magazine.  I got out my pencil, erasers, and a good piece of drawing paper........also a ruler.  I should have known that anything requiring a ruler is not my forte, but I proceeded to sketch on the composition.  That was the end of that.  Despite the fact that I very much admire detailed architectural drawings, I realized that I wasn't up to the task.  I was already bored.  So, I got out my pastels and did this.  It's the house next door, with the corner of my roof in the upper left corner.

The bottom is a pastel of the cactus that sits on the floor beside my desk.  It is about four feet tall, having inched its way imperceptibly from a six inch baby that I bought in 1998.  The painting is looking down from above, but it's only the bottom half.  The two branches at the top keep on going.  I worked hard on this, to make it look the way I had envisioned.  I tend not to get a good value range with pastels until I've first driven myself crazy.  This took me two days,  It's about 12 x 16.  The top one is only about 8x10, since I had planned to work hard on every little detail.  So much for that.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Carrie's Birthday

Carrie, as is her custom, came to visit for a few days over her birthday.  The pictured delicacy is the birthday cheesecake I made in honor of the occasion.  The other picture is of Great Wass Island, which is off the coast of Jonesport and Beal's Island.  When the kids were little, we used to spend time in the rented cabin in the center of the grouping. Artist friends rented the other cabins, and we spent our time painting and socializing.  Somewhere I have a picture of Jesse, about age seven, flying a kite with Richard Meredith, the husband if one of the other painters, on the lawn.  Carrie and I hoped we would be able to find the place, and when we did no one was there.  We got out of the car and walked around where we had walked 35 years ago.  It hadn't changed much from the day when John Beal, owner of the cabins, took us for a ride in his boat.  When we were out away from the shore, he cut the engine and we floated silently.  Pretty soon first one seal and then more and more started poking their heads up out of the water to look at us.  We must have stayed there for over a half hour, the seals surrounding us, as interested in us as we were them.

On the same drive we stopped at Rogue Bluff, which is a state park near Machias that I have never visited before.  What a treat it was.  I had no idea that there was a real sand beach anywhere near here.  The coast is usually rocky cliffs, but this place looked like it belonged in a far more temperate place.  We were able to take off our shoes and wade in the water.  There were some people actually swimming.  The ocean water of Maine is usually hovering in the mid thirties.  I guess this was warmer because it is unusually shallow.  Normally if you step off a rock here you are already over your head.

It was a very nice visit.  It's hard to imagine that I have a daughter who is 44 years old, and she is still as delightful as she was as a little girl.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Best Cat, Update

There's no cuter kitty than Leah.  Obviously I had to give up on the bird -cat problem.  Eventually the birds got used to her looming presence and she spends a lot of time sleeping on top of the cage. I have learned that it's impossible to keep her out of anything.  She is incredibly athletic and can climb like a monkey.  She makes herself comfortable everywhere.

I don't know how I got so lucky.  I love her.

Visit from Nancy

This is my friend Nancy, visiting from Indiana, walking with the dogs down on the beach.  She and I were office mates in the social service department of the psychiatric hospital in Bangor in the late 60's and early 70's.  We both stopped working and had children at roughly the same time.  Hers came first, just in time for me to borrow her maternity clothes.  Then Carrie inherited Leslie's baby clothes.  She had her second baby, a boy, just before I got pregnant with Jesse.  Our lives continued more or less in tandem for a number of years, full of the stress of little children, unhappy marriages, depression.  We had each other, though, and there were wonderfully intense times of mutual support as well as fun and laughter.  She and her family moved to Indiana when the kids were still little.  We have talked a few times over the years by phone, and somehow remained close despite the lack of contact.  I was delighted to have her actually come to visit.

Our lives have taken strikingly different paths.  We have both divorced (she twice), but otherwise we have little in common besides the past.  She is retired now, but has spent her life building her own business.  She has acquired more money than I will see in my lifetime, travels the world, loves socializing and dating.  Nevertheless our connection was still there and we visited as if we had seen each other yesterday.  She bought two of my paintings to take home with her.  We parted with promises to see each other again in the near future.  That probably won't happen, but I'm so glad we had this time to reconnect.

Monday, August 15, 2016

New Paintings

IIt has been some time since I've written, and I'll not bother to explain.  Obviously, though, I have been painting.  These are all done from photos I took around my house, most of them on a single day.  They are of various sizes and done in different mediums.  I intended to label them, but I don't have the computer skills to do it.  In any case the last one is the biggest, around 24 x 30, and was meant to be the signature piece of the series.  I kept going on, though, so I don't know if it will be or not.

The summer has almost past, mostly without my noticing.  I've spent a lot of time working around the house in anticipation of guests.  It's been tiring, a fact I can't quite get my head around.  Until the past year or so, I didn't really know what it was like to have to pace myself.  My energy seemed boundless.  I regret to say that this is no longer the case.  There's no doubt that I am getting old.  I have had to learn to stop before the end of a project and pick it up again later.  I must say it is a more sensible and comfortable way of doing things than my former obsession to finish almost any task without stopping, no matter how long it took.  Well, that's me at 71.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016


There has been a lot of turmoil over the last couple of weeks.  I started to describe the various events but found it too tedious.  After a lot of permutations of cars and chickens, I have ended up with one new car and two new chickens. Losing my van was hard, but it couldn't be repaired after some fatal engine event.  Luckily another car fell into my hands.  Then a complicated story involving chicken coop doors mistakenly left open over night, a raccoon, and an insecure fence.  I found one dead chicken in the morning and three missing.  To make a long story shorter, I acquired three new chickens, one of which was fatally wounded the next day by presumably the same raccoon.  I rushed the chicken to the emergency vet, but she had to be euthanized.  She is the farthest to the right in the picture.  Three of my old chickens returned mysteriously on their own, so I have the same number as before, but two new faces.  The next several  days have been spent trying to put up a new fence.  In the end, my neighbor who just returned for the summer (he lives in Arizona), saw me struggling and came over to help.  He ended up doing most of the work for me, and I am very thankful.  I probably would have got it up myself, but it would have been a shoddy job.

So that is an unemotional account of all that happened, but needless to say I was devastated.  I am recovering now, as we all do, but my animals mean so much to me that every time I lose one I am absolutely devastated.  These violent deaths are especially traumatic, and the fact that it was all my fault makes them all the more awful.

On a more positive note, the new parakeets are doing well, and Leah has pretty much won the battle about jumping up on the cage.  That cat is an acrobat, and you have to love her for her persistence and ingenuity. In the end I put a piece of plexiglass on top of the cage so she can't reach into it, so the only trauma for the birds is when she lands.  I have to hope they will get used to her.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Penny's New Friends

Meet the new arrivals, Ella on the left and Crystal on the right of Penny.  They all seem to be getting along just fine, which seems like a miracle considering the turmoil of their arrival.  Carrie and I drove all the way to Ellsworth to get the new ones, a three hour drive each way.  So their first trauma was being yanked from their cage at the store, put in a cardboard box that was barely big enough to hold them, and enduring the long ride.  When we got home, I put the box in the cage with Penny, which was what I had been told to do.  When I got the top open, all hell broke loose, but no one escaped despite the frantic activity.

Next, Leah landed squarely on top of the cage, the first of countless attempts to have parakeet for supper.  By bedtime, we had exhausted our ideas and I ended up taking the whole birdcage up to my bedroom for the night, closing Leah out to sleep with Carrie.  The next morning we tried all kinds of barriers, including my artificial Christmas Tree, but Leah outsmarted us.  We sprayed her with water, which deterred just her long enough for us to put the bottle down.  I won't describe the multitude of ideas that were tried and failed.  I was afraid the birds would die of heart attacks before we could figure out a solution.

Finally, I brought down some of the plexiglass I use to frame my paintings and cut it in various sizes to fit the top, ends, and sides of the cage.  With a variety of screws and hooks I managed to position them in a way that they could be removed for cleaning and feeding, but were solid enough to prevent Leah from climbing, jumping, and otherwise sneaking into position to reach between the bars of the cage.  I think I have it licked, though I wont say I'm totally relaxed about it.  Leah is one determined cat.

For the time being all is calm and harmonious.  Leah keeps investigating the situation, but has yet to figure out a solution.  Peace reigns.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Another Spring

I have been having so much trouble dealing with the fact that my car died that I forgot to notice that it is once again Spring.  Walking the dogs after a trying day fraught with setbacks involving my transportation woes it suddenly dawned on me that Spring is here.  I forced myself to pay attention to what was around me, to stop fretting over what will soon be an irritating memory.  The sight of the trees flowering on Dog Island jolted me into the immediate present.  It would have been sad to miss this.  Despite the fact that it was an easy winter, the coming of Spring in New England is always a cause for celebration.  There is nothing subtle about the change.  Even though the new year begins in January, it arrives  pretty much unnoticed in terms of our environment.  May, though, is the world turned upside down.  Shovels go into the basement and lawn mowers replace them.  Bare dirt comes alive with grass and flowers.  Buds appear on the branches of trees and turn to blossoms and leaves.  Winter coats and boots go into closets, T-shirts and sandals resurrected.  Furnaces shut off and heaters retire, to be replaced by air conditioners and fans.  Four o'clock in the afternoon is still that....afternoon.  Daylight creeps into the night and reappears before four o'clock in the morning here in Eastport.  It's hard to imagine here in this part of the world that there are places where the changes in the seasons are much more subtle.........not much more than it changes here day to day.

I planted myself firmly in the present as I walked.  Even though the future is uncertain for everyone, at my age my life is certainly mostly behind me.  All the more reason to stay alert to the present and not let this Spring go by unnoticed.  Amazingly, no matter how many times I see it happen it never fails to be amazing.  It really is a miracle.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Ad and subtract

This is Leah, the cutest cat ever. The idea of getting  a cat
was prompted by the presence of a large herd of mice that live in the cellar and under the garage, attracted by the constant chicken feed buffet available to them. I have ignored them as much as possible, warning the girls to send their guests home before I round the corner of the house.  Nevertheless, there are usually some stragglers headed for cover as I come into view.  The population has grown to proportions quite unacceptable, even to me.  There is no way I will intentionally kill any living thing, so traps or poison were unacceptable.  I asked Lisa, who has chickens, about the problem and she told me she has no problem because she has cats.  Ahah!, I thought.  But then I realized I wouldn't let any cat of mine outside because of the danger out there.  Nevertheless, the idea had been planted, and to make a longish story short, I adopted Leah from the shelter in Calais.  According to sources on the internet, though, cat litter is supposed to drive rodents away, so I've been trying that.  I empty Leah's cat box outside around the foundation of the garage and the house, where the mice live.  I believe it is working.........or possibly it is just wishful thinking and selective observation that keeps me from seeing the little freeloaders.

Then there are the birds.  For a short time I had two parakeets.  They were given to me by an acquaintance who read on my blog that I was considering getting some.  Enter Penny and Joshua.  I got them a month or so ago and loved their presence.   Joshua died a few days ago for some unknown (to me) reason.  I sadly buried him in the garden.  Now Penny is alone, and I plan to get her a companion as soon as I can get to the pet shop in Ellsworth.  Despite the fact that I wanted birds because I thought I wouldn't get emotionally involved with them, I did, in fact, fall in love with them.  Losing Josh was very sad, tears were shed. This is Josh, and Penny is below.


Monday, May 09, 2016

Spring, and a new beginning

I have been neglecting my blog again in favor of facebook posts.  I hope to rectify that, and begin with the thought of a new season.  We didn't have much of a winter, and so far we aren't having much of a spring either.  The world is stuck in some kind of transitional mode that is really no season at all.  Nevertheless, I planted tulip bulbs earlier and they struggled to put up leaves.  I could see then that I had put them too far apart, so dug them up and replanted them. In the process I broke a tiny bud off its mother bulb.  Since it had started to grow, I brought it inside and put it in a glass of water.  It seemed impossible that it would continue to grow, but it did.  That little bud is now a proud and proper tulip.......way ahead of its outside companions

Meanwhile my household has increased with the addition of two parakeets and a cat.  I'll save the story of those acquisitions for their own post.  At least I have begun again.

Thursday, February 25, 2016


I realized that  I hadn't posted the results of my efforts to master pop-ups.  Although I can't say that I mastered them, I did get the idea and made a few.  The top two are my own design.  The bottom is the first successful one I did following the directions in the book.  My interest waned pretty fast, but these three sit on the back of the piano as testament to my effort.  I may at some point do more work with this since I am so enamored of paper projects, but for now I abandoned my efforts in favor of going back to pastels.  My new Sennelier pastels were calling, as well as the rough paper.  I've also been crocheting a lampshade, which I finished yesterday.  I won't live long enough to do everything I want to do.

Monday, February 22, 2016

A Day with Charlie

Kendall took this picture from her seat on Charlie's back. It was a surprise to me to see it on facebook, since I was completely unaware.  I love the picture,,,,,,.  I'm not sure how many people like horse kisses, but I certainly do.  The other picture is of course me riding.  The look on my face says it all.

Friday, February 05, 2016

A Couple of hours later........

What I learned about Pop-Up Books

Earlier I ordered a book about making pop-up books.  I unearthed it as I was trying to clear off the dining room table and decided to get my feet wet, so to speak, by giving it a go.  I found that it is both more simple and more complicated than I thought.  On the table is my first attempt at getting the concept.  So far, so good.  Then as is my custom, I decided I had it down and tried to do a couple of things on my own.  The flower is the result of this fantasy.  After that I decided to go back to the drawing board.  Perhaps page 2 will enlighten me enough to move on.  It's another way to manipulate paper, which is certainly a recurring obsession of mine.  The book shows some amazingly beautiful abstract creations done by experts.  They are a little like the origami tesselations, but cutting the paper is the main tool instead of folding.

Oh boy, another toy.

A Pretty Snow

After such a mild winter it's nice to see some of this kind of snow that sticks to the tree branches and makes the world look like a post card.  This is the view from my front door.  It's still snowing hard, though it's not obvious in the picture, and the wind is blowing in from the ocean (behind me).  I haven't heard that this is supposed to accumulate a lot, but time will tell.  In any case, the dogs, birds, and I are comfortable here in the house.  So, I assume, are the chickens out in their coop.  When I closed them in last night I made sure they had plenty of food and water, which doesn't freeze because it sits on a heated surface.  All's right with the world.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

More Sandpaper

It's a good thing I don't expect to go down in history as a great artist since the archival quality of my work leaves a lot to be desired.  Here is another pastel on sandpaper.  The subject is from a photo I took at the 4th of July parade a couple of years ago.  Not much more to say about that.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Little Adjustment

Willy's unhealthy relationship with the birds forced me to make some changes in their habitat.  He is obsessed with them, and at times jumps up to get a better view.  He jumped off the bed every two or three minutes last night to run downstairs and check them out.  Patrick and I couldn't sleep, so I had to close Willy in the bedroom with us.  He accepted his fate, but as soon as we got up this morning he was off down the stairs as fast as his legs would carry him.

The table I originally put the cage on looked a little unstable and I worried that he would knock it over with his exuberance.  This "thing" (I don't know what to call it) that I had in the hall is a little higher and much heavier.  I knew that Willy wouldn't be able to budge it no matter what he did.  So I swapped the  two.  It's a great setup, with my old incubator light from the baby chicken days hanging from a hook in the ceiling over the table for heat.  I was worried that Joshua and Jenny would be cold, not to mention the projected bill for electricity if I continued with the heater.  It creates a nice environment, too, with the plants.

It's obvious that Patrick is unimpressed, sleeping in his bed to the right of the table.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

New Additions to the Family

Not long after I posted that I thought about getting birds, my friend Lindy contacted me. It's a perfect example of "ask and it shall be given."  She had two parakeets she wanted to re-home. Before I knew it, I had taken them in.  Right now I am enjoying their little sounds and watching them eat.  Willy took such a keen interest in them that I put a gate in front of the table where the cage is.  I'm expecting him to get used to them and consider them part of the family,
at which time I will remove it.

I've placed the cage in a corner of the dining/piano/computer room where they will get plenty of company for part of the day.  They are surrounded by heaters, so I'm hoping the temperature of the rest of the house won't  effect them adversely.  So far they seem content enough.
I like their little sounds in the air, signs of life.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Finally Winter

Although it has snowed a little, there has not really been enough to make it seem like winter until now.  This morning the boys and I went for our first snowy walk of the season.  It wasn't really particularly cold, and we all had a good time  walking (me) and romping (Patrick and Willy) in the new snow.  It seems appropriate that we should have some snow at this point, so despite the cold and the inconvenience it seems that all is now right with the world.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Birds at the Breakfast Table

This is the company I keep while having my breakfast coffee.  The bird on the left is a Christmas present.  If you wind it up it chirps and flaps its wings.  I am quite enamored of the thing and set it in motion with its little key quite often.  The chicken basket I bought years ago and it holds things I might want while sitting at the table....pens, eye drops, nail clippers, glue, etc.

I am contemplating getting some real birds, but so far have done little to make that a reality.  I feel the need to care for more animals, but don't want any creatures who will have any affection for me.  I love the idea of providing the comforts of life to those who are basically unaware of my role.  It gives me such pleasure to know that those in my care take it completely for granted, that the concept of need or want does not exist for them.  Acknowledgment or even awareness of my role in their lives implies dependence and gratitude, which in turn makes my contribution selfishly prideful.  I want them to expect and receive whatever they need without having to be grateful.

That idea doesn't apply to dogs.   The responsibility of being loved is almost too much to bear.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

My Saddle

I am so excited over getting my old saddle ready to use.  I ordered new stirrups and leathers, which had disappeared when I had the saddle at the shelter.  Now all I need is a horse to put it on.  Kendall has agreed to let me ride Charlie, and I wanted to use an English saddle.  The advantage is that my legs are so short I have trouble finding a western saddle with stirrups short enough.  Besides that, I was trained English........dressage actually.  That's not to say I am good at it, but it is familiar.  When I was a kid going to riding stables I rode western because that's all there was.......or bareback.  Nothing would convince me to ride bareback now, but as a kid I would hold on to the horse's mane and gallop over fields and trails.  If I fell off, which I occasionally did, I'd just climb back on and do it again.

As an adult I felt more cowgirl days were over.  I took years of lessons from two different experts in dressage.  My horse BJ  never really learned the fancy steps and moves, but we played at it.

I can't wait to put this 71 year old body to the test.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Kendall and Charlie and Me

I almost forgot to post this picture of me with the painting Pierre commissioned me to paint of Kendall and Charlie.


When he was four, my son Jesse was diagnosed with Legg-Perthes Disease.  The treatment was to immobilize his hip joint until the top of his femur died and then regenerated.  This took about two years, during which time he was in a cast that held both legs at an angle to the joint to allow proper regrowth.  Even though he had crutches, the only way he could get around was to put one crutch in front of him and the other behind.  Then he could swing the bottom half of his body between them.  Most of the time he simply dragged himself across the floor.

During that time, as one might imagine, he and I were constant companions.  I  carried him everywhere (including up and down the 19 stairs to the second floor of our house).  One of the things we did together was cook.  This picture shows him rolling out home made pasta.  My mother made the chef's hat and apron for him as a Christmas present. We played board games, read stories, drew pictures, watched "Sesame Street" and went shopping.  We were frequent visitors to the mall, roaming around to pass the time.  He rode in a second hand wheelchair with the arms removed to accommodate his outstretched legs.

Jesse's handicap didn't stop us from living life pretty normally.  We even took a plane to Florida and went to Disney World.  He enjoyed the extra attention he got everywhere we went.  To this day he claims to remember nothing about the experience except that it was "the only way to see Disney World."  A child in a wheelchair is ushered to the front of every line, hugged by every Disney character, given special souvenirs.

 In many ways that was a wonderful time of life for me.  Our world was small and focused, insulated in a way.  Our priorities were clear.