Wednesday, November 15, 2017

There Goes the Neighborhood

All around me there is construction going on..........or perhaps better put, DEstruction.  When I moved here twelve years or so ago the neighborhood was, how shall I put it?......well, pretty slumlike.  Eastport had not yet been discovered as a seaside attraction.  The town was mostly boarded up and many of the houses on the verge of falling down.  Eastport's location, far out to sea on the Canadian boarder, was the last outpost.  It was the farthest you could go and still be in the US.  The sardine industry that was once the reason for its existence was gone.  The fishermen who hung on earned a very modest living lobstering or fishing.  The house where I live was almost the last outpost going north.  Dog Island, now a wealthy  "suburb" for summer people, was wild with fields and woods.  I used to walk the dogs there, tripping through the underbrush to the cliffs above the ocean.  Now, I still walk the dogs there, but I feel more like I am in Beverly Hills.  The computer world has made it possible for wealthy business people to live anywhere, using their computers to run the corporate world. The houses are huge, their grounds are manicured.  There is little evidence of the acres of Lupine that bloomed there in the spring.  I won't say it isn't pretty because it is.  Some of the trees have been allowed to remain if they fit the landscaping.  There are man made ponds and trellises, flower gardens.  The beautifully cultivated vegetable gardens are surrounded by electric fences to keep out the deer.  (Don't get me started!)  I still miss the old Dog Island, though, and that end of Water St where it was wild.

This morning I took some pictures of the activity around my house.  The influx of the wealthy is no more evident than right outside my windows.  I couldn't really capture the atmosphere with a few snapshots, but there is construction everywhere.  The old houses are being completely repaired and modernized.  Additions, huge windows, and decks are growing out of the sides and roofs.  Foundations are being dug or replaced.  Those that have been completed are unrecognizable.  My own house, once the nicest in the neighborhood, is fast becoming a blight (particularly my chicken house and yard).  I moved here when it was almost a ghost town and I felt at home.  Even though I wasn't born here and therefore seen as "from away," I felt as if I fit in, partly because I was in a subgroup called the artists.  The polarization that has taken place since I've been here and my lack of contact with the art community has left me unattached.  I don't fit.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Chicken Stew

In another probably futile attempt to save money, I have been cooking my meals instead of buying ready-made frozen packages. I once spent half my time cooking......I was fat and very interested in eating. Now I find it quite distasteful, time consuming, and unrewarding. I have a lot of cookbooks, though, and am trying to work up some interest in new cuisine. So far the best thing I have made was an apple pie, which was delicious and I ate it in two sittings. In a concerted effort to make this venture more successful and less fattening I peruse my collection of recipes. This is what I came up with yesterday. It's a bizarre stew made from chicken, ham (which I omitted), green pepper, onions, sweet potatoes, tomato sauce, pineapple and pineapple juice, apples, and bananas. It's seasoned with chili powder and cinnamon. Go figure...........It was edible, luckily, since I will have it for four or five days, but hardly worth the effort. All that slicing and chopping and browning and boiling, all those dishes and cans, mixing and sauteing, all that garbage in the trash, all the leftover apples (not another pie) to deal with, not to mention that my refined palette would have preferred frozen Chinese heated in its own container for six minutes in the microwave.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

The Non-meaning of Art

I have no idea how this picture got here.  I thought I had tried everything to no avail......actually the picture was part of a facebook post I wanted to copy here.  Oh well, I can re-iterate what I said there, though the reason I tried to copy it was that I found it so poetic and wonderful.  Now I will have to say the same, or close to the same thing, in a less inspiring way (I'm being sarcastic about my writing style but dislike emoticons on my blog).  Anyway, the crux of the matter is that this painting, no matter how banal, brought back many happy, though bitter-sweet memories.  Before I lived here in Eastport, I used to bring a bunch of students here for painting workshops.  I knew of the town because of Diana, who owns the house behind me here.  When she bought the house I came with her to see it.  I loved the place and had the idea of giving painting workshops here.  Diana was happy to let me use her house as base camp for my students, and so began many years of summer sessions.

The workshops were popular, and over the years grew to the point where I rented two cabins on the water to use.  Still, the memories remain in place, at Diana's.  There were at times as many as twelve of us sleeping in her three-bedroom house.  She kept her own bedroom, but the rest of us made nests where we could, including in the closet (usually my own privilege).  After breakfast each morning we loaded our  painting gear in cars and drove to a location chosen by me earlier.  I set up my easel and demonstrated in front of my rapt audience.  This was accompanied by my hopefully amusing teacherly banter.  Afterwards, everyone staked out a nearby spot and set up to spend the day painting.  I roamed from easel to easel bestowing pearls of painting wisdom and offering technical criticism and advice.  At the end of the afternoon we packed up and went back to the house, where we lined up the new paintings for critique.  Fortified by glasses of wine and snacks, I rambled on about each work.  Then we gathered around Diana's big table and ate dinner.....someone would have cooked something, someone washed dishes.  As the teacher, I did not concern myself with those details.

Later, I began doing workshops in other, fancier locations with mostly different students.  They were never the same.

Anyway, the painting above made me think of those days because I painted the same subject with one of my loyal students (she became a good friend).  Although the painting was nothing special, it represents those days for me.  It was a lousy time of my life (I faxed my divorce papers to my lawyer from the local newspaper office during one of the workshops), but the intensity of my life then spilled over to the experience.  Everything was clear and bright and important.  Art was everything to me and the all-encompassing concentration I put into it was fraught with significance and an intensity I have not otherwise experienced.  That intensity has lost its immediacy, but it hasn't really diminished much. 

I was talking with one of my very limited number of friends the other night about what made art important.  My claim, as it has always has been, was that its importance lies in the fact that is has no meaning outside of itself.  Trying to sell it by applauding its relevance to other aspects of life and education is to me to diminish what ought to be its shining contribution to mankind....its utter meaninglessness.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

This is Sally, my best friend for most of my childhood.  We met when we were both entering third grade.  My family had just moved to Bangor and somehow Sally was given the task of showing me the way to my new school.  Her house was in sight of mine, and we became inseparable in short order.  In those days children were not supervised the way they are today.  We were turned out in the morning and left to our own devices.  Our days were full of fantasy.  We reinvented ourselves daily as we roamed the neighborhood as cowgirls, or mothers to our dolls, wives to our cowboy idols.  We had a stable full of stick horses, a saloon with a stage in Sally's garage where we put on shows.  We sang and danced, played the ukulele.  Our territory was limited only by the distance we could walk or bike.  The stream where they now have white-water canoe races was part of our playground.  We hopped from rock to rock over the rapids as carelessly as if it were a mud puddle.  We explored vacant buildings, built doll houses out of cardboard boxes.  In the evenings the neighborhood kids often played hide and seek, or red rover, or even the middle of the street.  Our only rule was to go home when the streetlights came on....or later when the paper mill whistle blew at nine o'clock.

Because our high school divided the students into "college" and "business" sessions, Sally and I were in different sessions and began a slow and eventually complete separation.  As we grew up, our paths went in different directions and we lost touch.  Nevertheless, we shared our childhood in a very profound and lasting way.  It strikes me as impossible that Sally is dead while I go on.  Even though we lost touch, there was always a sense that we were living parallel lives.  I'm sure she felt the same way.........that I was always there in the background as she was in mine.  Her obituary described her life as happy and conventional in the way we thought our lives would be.  It's comforting to me that that was the case.  I can't say that I will miss her because what I have of her is still just as it was.  She's only gone to me in the same way that she was gone when she became a cheerleader, a wife, a mother.  Rather than feeling sad, I feel that I have witnessed a soft passing.  I'll think of it as her last gift to me.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Back Again with New Resolve

So I'm giving it another try.  My blogging friend Pamela suggested I add a link to my blog on facebook, which is a great idea as long as I can figure out how to do it.  That way I may get more readers back here.  In any case, to sum up the interval since my last post, I guess I am here in Eastport to stay.  I have searched and searched for a place to live in Bangor without success.  I was informed by phone on the day before I was to move that I do not meet the qualifications for residency in the housing development I had planned on.  I was all packed, had hired the mover, given my notice to my landlady, etc.  Then I received an apologetic call from the housing authority that I didn't qualify to live there after all.  After a few days of ranting and raving, I decided to investigate private rentals.  For a few weeks I called various landlords (Craig's List is not reliable..full of various types of scams) and set up viewings.  I drove to Bangor full of optimism, sure that I could charm reluctant landlords into taking my rent subsidy as part payment.  Well, I underestimated the prejudice landlords feel against people who have rent subsidies.  I was summarily dismissed as soon as I spilled the beans, no matter how charmingly I presented myself.  I returned home in a rage, which I vented by writing a letter to the editor of the Bangor Daily News.  It was printed with the headline "prejudice against the poor," and seeing it there soothed me somewhat.  I knew it would fall on deaf ears, but it made me feel better.

The upshot of all of this is that I realize I have to stay here in Eastport.  Once I accepted that, I remembered how much I loved it here.  My determination to move had taken on a life of its own.  I had lost sight of why I decided to do it in the first place.  The thoughts I had about going back centered around recovering the life I had there.  I think now that I was just feeling nostalgic, that that life would not magically revive itself.  I dreamed of all the things I loved there, my friends, my horseback riding, the Art Society, teaching, my various jobs as a courtroom artist, needlepoint designer, photograph enhancer (in those days that was done by hand with tiny brushes and various kinds of inks), swimming at the Y, and most of all, school.  What a great adult student I was!  I have worked at so many jobs in my life, one of which was several years as an art teacher.  But of all the roles I've had, I loved being a student best.  I went back to the University after my marriage ended and would be there still if I could be.  As it was I was there for ten years, in my glory, adored by teachers, liked and respected by fellow students of all ages.  Big deal in the art community was I, giving speeches, president of the Art Society, member of three galleries  Every year I traveled to New York and Massachusetts for art workshops, both as a student and as a teacher.  I think I imagined something vaguely similar if I returned.

In any case, this is a different time of my life.  By way of bolstering my own ego for what I am today, I'm posting a picture of a large painting I did recently.  By way of a relay of three drivers I arranged with an investment counselor I used to make a company Christmas card for to get this painting to Bangor for the annual art show she puts on.  The painting is big, 40x40, and it sold at the show for what for me is big bucks.  Selling is by far the least of my art fact somehow exchanging art for money discredits the work somehow...........but this time it was enough  to help me financially for the ominous coming of winter.  I was sorry to see it go,  and I can only hope I can appreciate it for what it turned

Friday, June 16, 2017

Back from the Oregon Trip

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, ocean, sky, cloud, outdoor, nature and waterI have just come back from two weeks visiting Jesse and Sabrina in Oregon.  They live in Beaverton, a suburb of Portland.  This is my favorite picture of many, many pictures I have of the adventure.  I am fresh from the experience, and therefore full of new enthusiasm.  It's been wonderful to see the northwest, the one part of the country I thought I would never get to see.  I was treated like visiting royalty by my family, wined and dined beyond my wildest expectations.  We spent every day seeing the sights, visiting historic places, dining in every conceivable type of restaurant, touring museums, historic places, gardens, and monuments.  I became familiar with riding streetcars, buses, and trains with nonchalance.  I pushed buttons for walk signals, looked both ways crossing tracks, walked across bridges.  I stood on moving sidewalks in airports, presented boarding passes, went through security scans.  It was all quite wonderful, and, in a word I never thought I'd utter, "awesome."

Monday, May 29, 2017

Christmas in June

Amazing......after almost six months, the Amaryllis has finally blossomed.  It looks like several more are on the horizon as well.  I love this white one.........something I haven't seen before.  I hope the others open before I leave on my trip to Oregon at the end of the week, or if they don't, they will hold on until I return.  Since I took this picture this morning, another one has opened up, so now that it has started maybe the buds will all open right away.

This is me and my cousin Lorelei.  After being out of touch for most of our lives. she has reappeared.  This is the second visit we have had.  She and her friend Deb have come here twice and we have had a great time.  It's not a case of reminiscing, since we grew up pretty much apart, but we are hearing about each others' lives now, getting to know one another.  Her friend commissioned me to paint four paintings for her, and they came to pick them up today.   After all these years, it is great to to get acquainted.  I hope we will now remain in each other's lives.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Amaryllis Update

A few weeks ago I posted a picture of these two plants as they started to grow.  They were dormant for so long a less optimistic woman would have given them up for dead.  But now, here they are, six months later.  For awhile I thought they were thinking of blooming NEXT Christmas, but at the rate they are going now, I'm guessing it will be only a month or so.

I am completely unpacked now and settled back into my Eastport home.  I have not so far regretted my decision to stay here.  I have no idea if I have learned my lesson yet......will my desire to return to Bangor come around again?  It won't surprise me if it does.  For now, though, I'm glad I'm here.  I have even contemplated applying for membership in the Eastport Gallery again.  They are taking applications next weekend.  If I can convince myself to remain a member without trying to run things, I think it may be a good idea.  I doubt that I have been blackballed to the point that I will be refused admission.  Most of the people who were there and active while I was a member have left.  The ones who are still there may remember that my style as president was too heavy-handed...."my way or the highway:-)."  I have a reputation there as one who quits when crossed.  This is true.  I do not play well with others.

Perhaps if I take an oath of silence, that I will keep my opinions to myself, I will be accepted.  Either way it is probably a bad idea, come to think of it.  When have I ever been able to keep silent?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Back to Square One

So I was all packed and ready to move to Bangor.  The housing authority called when I was out and told me my application had been accepted and to call back to make an appointment.  Meanwhile, I had decided to stay here in Eastport.  My ambivalence came to a head when we had a nice enough day that I decided to put the chickens back in their coop.  They have been in the basement since the window in the coop broke during a storm and the place filled with snow.  I will refrain from describing the mess I had to clean out. Suffice it to say that I had to shovel wet "mud" for two hours straight.  Then I replaced the window, put down clean bedding, returned the feeder and waterer to their proper places, and waited to see how the girls would react.  I didn't know what to expect, since they have not been in the coop for months.  Well, they were thrilled.  We all celebrated with a bag of Microwave popcorn, and I knew right then that I was not going to Bangor.  I love my life here.  I contacted my landlady, who told me that the house is mine as long as I want it.

Since then I have spent my time unpacking the boxes I had packed.  It has taken me weeks to do it, but things are pretty well organized again.  I took advantage of the situation and rearranged the rooms.  Change is what I crave, so I did it within the context of my newly beloved home.

Friday, April 07, 2017


This, too is a post I failed to publish.  It's the one really big snowstorm we had this winter.  That's the lilac tree beside my front door.  We've had snow, but not very much.  It's about gone now, though the weather is still very cold. I'm  hoping  my quarter of a tank of oil will last until it warms up.

My Family

Apparently this is one of the many posts I wasn't able to publish during my absence from Blogging.  I like this picture because all of my animal family rarely are in the same room together.  On the left is Patrick, then on top of the cage is Leah,  The three birds are inside the cage,and Willy is on the couch in from of them.  All that's missing are the chickens.

Two Pastels

Most of my art supplies are packed, but I still have my pastels close at hand.  Whenever I use them,  I love them and think I will devote myself to them from now on.  Of course I never do.  But this is what I've done over the last three days.  The first one is from a picture of downtown Bangor that was in the newspaper the other day.  I copied it (without permission, of course), and did this small painting from it.  I like it, even though the drawing isn't all that great.  The other painting is done on a piece of craft felt I had bought weeks ago for another purpose.  I had been reading about different grounds for pastel so decided to experiment.  It was fun, but I don't think I'll repeat the exercise.....too soft and unforgiving.

Otherwise life crawls on as I wait for news.  I am in limbo, unable to see where I fit and increasingly ambivalent about the move.  I wait.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Retarded Amaryllis

I got these bulbs as a Christmas present from my old friend Don in New Mexico.  I thought they were dead for quite awhile, but hope springs eternal.  They finally started to come to life a few weeks ago.  At this rate, they will bloom for next Christmas.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Try, try again

Well, I've tried every blog site I can find, and despite everything, this is still the best and easiest for me.  Somehow I managed to get this picture posted without any problem, so I'll try again. Copying my journal has proved to be too tedious.  Therefore, I'll pick up from the present.

This is a painting I'm working on of my friend Kendall's son-in-law and new baby.  The photo was so mysteriously appealing to me that I asked for a copy.  I looked forward to painting from it and have worked pretty steadily for three days.  Unfortunately, I'm too caught up in getting a likeness.......I've labored over the two faces until the context was lost.  I'll try to rectify that.

Meanwhile, I have been packing in anticipation of my move to Bangor.  I still don't know if I have been accepted by the housing authority that holds my fate in its judgmental hands.  Nevertheless, I assume the best and move ahead with optimism.  If it turns out that I have to stay here in Eastport, it won't be the end of world.  I've loved it here.  Still, there is the pull of going back to my roots, so to speak.  I feel a little like the elephant on a trek to the burial ground, but that makes some sense.  My history and the history of my family is there.  I grew up, married, and brought up my kids there.  My life in Eastport has been an extended vacation.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Back for Another Try

I've tried many times to get back to this blog and found it impossible to post pictures, thereby abandoning the effort.  I have obviously finally figured out my mistake, so here I am again.  In the interim, I have been writing in my journal.  I have the idea to scan the pages and try to post them here to keep things up to date.  The content will be more personal and introspective, but certainly I have nothing to hide.  I want to cover the interval between the present and the last entry on this blog.  It's for my own sense of completeness that I do this.  I like to have a printed version of the blog, and the pictures are an important part of that. goes:

Well after trying for an hour, I finally figured out how to do this.  I have a new printer, which doesn't help.  This is the first scan I've tried.  It might be better to take a picture and then put it.  Whatever...that's all I can handle at the moment.  I leave it to Marilyn to sign off for today.