Thursday, April 29, 2010

home on the bayou

what an absolute horror

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

home on the range

Ahhh... fresh pasture, fresh air.

I wonder if a pastel exists that can match
that beyond blue Colorado sky?

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Prescience is a strange word. Sounds like precious. Well, prescience would be more precious if it could be controlled. But, in my experience...
having or showing knowledge of events before they take place, as in a prescient warning,
has never been something I can bring to bear before the fact. Probably just as well.

While I was painting the pastel of the Maine shore, and certainly while I was writing the particulars about how to build a clambake, I was thinking about my dad. With his 90th birthday coming in June and his age wearing him down, I could hear a growing distance in his voice each time I called home. I knew he'd enjoy the painting and perhaps recognize himself in the post as the bake master. But while I worked on it, that "precious" feeling stirred in my gut now and then. I tried hurling a "NO!" or two at it, as if wishing would make it so, but it wouldn't go away. As my sister said, his old heart finally gave up, and he died on Friday.

I could, of course, go on at some length about him because he was a great man and a wonderful dad, but I won't for now. I will say, however, that both he and my mother (who survives at almost 90, is quite the phenom in her own right, and might be the bravest person I'll ever know) hoped that the day will come when death is as respected as much as life and be allowed to be what it is. Nuff sed. They both make me wicked proud to be a Down Easter.

I mention my dad's death here for these reasons:

I owe him for who I am. Having him here made me who I am, and his absence will change me. Some of my creative self is in this blog, so I'd like to think it's a place he can be proud of and that he can always be found here.

Some of you have also recently used your blogs to mark the passing of the people who brought you here. It was a loving thing to do, and many of us were honored to help you carry the water.

My father, as they say, left his affairs in order, including writing his own obit for the newspaper. My mother says it's funny, and I'm sure it's modest, too. For my part, I think my description of a bake master is worth adding to his admirable list of accomplishments.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


This is a memory painting of the shore in Maine where I grew up. The seaweed on the rocks is cleverly called rockweed. It grows everywhere, but we didn't eat it any more than we ate the lawn. Though central to the local diet, seaweed per se was never eaten, but it was valued. It was turned into the garden as fertilizer and thrown into the pot for flavor when steaming lobsters. As kids, we used to squeeze its bulbs for the paltry pop, hunt under it for the crabs before they found our toes, and mostly slip on it and fall into tide pools. And, as every Mainer knows, it's a critical component of a clambake. Though I've been landlocked for years, the how-to of building a bake is like genetic code to me.

At the risk of drowning in drool, here goes...

First, there is such a thing as a bake master. He/she should have a proven track record, the respect of the entire crew, and the capacity for handling a lot of beer under pressure. The rest of you should do what the boss says at all times.

(Italics mark potentially tragic mistakes.)

Collect a big pile of dry driftwood, a big heavy metal sheet (preferably a ship's hull, the rustier the better) and some buckets of seawater. Put a big piece of canvas out in the water to soak; weigh it down so it doesn't float away. Find a spot above the tide line surrounded by flat rocks, and put some dry stones in it to heat (wet ones will explode). Build a fire on top and keep it stoked until the rocks are redhot. Have a beer or two while you're waiting.

When the rocks are hot and the fire is burning down, put the big metal plate over them, leveled on the flat rocks. (Purists don't bother with the plate, but purists rhymes with tourists who think sand in their food is quaint.) While that's heating up, make the kids fetch big armloads of fresh seaweed and put it all in the buckets full of seawater. Keep it wet, cuz it doesn't smell any better dead than the rest of the stuff does. When the metal is hot, dump plenty of the wet seaweed on the plate and start to alternate layers of it with the food. Once all of the food is well-buried, cover the whole pile with the soaked canvas. In my experience, lobsters are an absolute must. And steamers of course cuz it's called a clambake, some quahogs, mussels, crabs, potatoes, onions, eggs, corn on the cob, and sometimes sausage. Put a large pot of butter near the heat for melting; there can't be too much.

The bake master is in charge of keeping the pile steaming and determining when the lobsters are done. Generally, all the other food will be done then, too, but it doesn't matter cuz over-cooked lobsters are grounds for keel-hauling and/or flat-out mutiny.

(This bake was put together to celebrate the dog formerly known as Cloud. Today she was christened with her new grown-up name, Mme. Clousseau.)

Felicitations, mon petit chou, de M. Garrett!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I'd like to go out on the porch and take photos of some more paintings, but Garrett has his girlfriend Wild L over here to "play", and I'm trapped in here. Without warning, their heavy wrasslin' explodes into dead-out laps around and around the studio. They like to play rough. Actually, calling it "play" is like Ahmadinejad calling his bombs reactors. Occasionally, they call a truce to drink, pant and pee, and I cautiously venture out to check for sports injuries. If I ever do have to go to the house, I run from pillar to post to get there. They're way too fast to shoot a video, but I did get some stills while Garrett chewed on her one afternoon...

He just happened to be on top at this moment; believe me, she gets in her licks, too.

In 2002, Someone apparently thought I was taking my lifelong trust of dogs for granted and taught me the lesson of a lifetime; two dogs, 180 pounds between them, accidentally slammed into my right knee. (Did I already mention this? Sorry, but it made a real impression on me.) They also were playing, but the ensuing 2 surgeries and 10 months of PT put the Fear of Dog into me, so now I let them have the field to themselves. I know it sounds totally out of control, but they'll stop on a dime the instant I call the game. 

A landscaper is coming tomorrow to restore what's left of the yard and has asked me to keep the dogs out of the garden. Right...  So one more round tomorrow morning. Their game is truly hilarious, and they have as much fun as I've ever seen two dogs have. I can wait and take my pictures tomorrow afternoon.   


Monday, April 12, 2010

grape hyacinth

I love these little guys. I'm always surprised by their early flowers in the spring, having forgotten they were there last year. The first honeybee (front left flower) is also thrilled to see them. I especially love them because they fall in to the category of "volunteers"; wherever one of their wee bulbs falls, it plants itself and then multiplies into a whole cheerful clump.  

Thursday, April 8, 2010

pity points

I'm getting a tooth pulled today. Not by a doorknob, but by someone who does this sort of thing for a living. Why, you couldn't pay me enough!  Like, what kind of a person is that anyway, and do I really want him to have his hands in my mouth? It's not the first time for me, so don't try saying, "Oh, it's not that bad." I know that already. Ever since I scheduled this, my mind has been on tomorrow, the day after. But for today, I'll have to be "in the moment", when I'd rather be anywhere else, and settle for novocain, nitrous, arnica, Advil, Traumeel and soup on my shirt. 

To demonstrate my good humor in the face of impending doom, I tried to find a funny cartoon or youtube about tooth extraction, but I didn't think they were funny at all. So I'll do my best and try to bite the blade instead of the sicko's fingers.

 I would so rather be painting.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

sunny side of the street

The thunder, rain, snow and shine of the April Fool storm 
was notably peculiar. 
Our street had some of each, on one side and then the other.

Jala lives over there under the sunny elms; 
the red-budded maple is over here.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

gilding the lily

Even if the beavers manage 
to chew through the chicken wire
 on the young cottonwoods along the river,

the lichen can still gild their dam lily.