Thursday, October 20, 2011

Keeping the Mundane Out of My Ballet

For awhile now, I have been noticing the routine of my actions.  Getting up, getting ready for work - the patterns of my routines are mostly an unconscious ballet of concise motion.  On weekends, the pattern is more fractured.  Not burdened by the need to get out the door at a specific time, a certain relaxation of habitual motion is nice.

I have a desire to change all that.  I don't know why I am chomping at the bit to stir things up.  Perhaps it is all part and parcel to my edit and purge sweep to narrow the burden of stuff' to a pleasurable level.  'Simplify, simplify, simplify' - Thoreau. 

I was going through several of my craft drawers and rather than editing, I found myself reminiscing (must be that autumn thing).  Running my hand over needlepoint stitched many moons ago, discovering cards of antique buttons collected in a former life and treasures wrought with sweet memories I am loathe to discard tugged at my melancholy heart. 

It seems that I want freshness in my life without letting go of the comforts which include some of the usual habits.  Like a vase of fresh flowers from the garden's late season offerings, I crave a blend of old and new, comfort and adventure.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Autumn Reflections

I was just visiting Diana Baur at a certain simplicity as her inn's season is winding down and autumn visits the Piedmont in its wake.  She is looking at her seven years' history there and how different aspects of her life have prepared her for the challenges of a move to Italy and much different life than any she'd experienced before.
Frye Measure Mill, New Hampshire
As I wrote on her blog, I, too, am in a reflective mode but also one of underlying, fierce activity of the mind.  I have so much I want to do - so much to discover and savor!  As autumn in New England blooms with brilliant reds, oranges and yellows, it also signals the time when the same leaves I now enjoy on the hillsides will glide onto the ground in gentle waves and the scenery will change to something more austere.  The coming cold is not to my liking but I adapt.  I mean, frankly, in today's world, going from house to warm car to work and back again on the weekdays is not a hardship.  When the snow drifts down and builds on the tree branches in a fresh fluffy coat, I am mesmerized and love the journey.

My steps have brought me back to New England after a 30 year absence when I raised my family in Ohio and I am reveling in the sheer beauty of this area and all it has to offer.  While there are other places I would love to explore, I am thankful to be amongst such natural beauty every day.

Still, I have a few more dreams up my sleeve and, particularly at this time of year, they rise again just as summer wanes and winter's solitude is on the horizon. Time for reflection in front of a roaring fire instead of on a beach.  Time for brushing the sand off my path and seeing where it has meandered to get me where I am today. 

So far, so good.  A few bumps and bruises when I lost my footing but, overall, not a very rocky path.  I hope the road in front of me is rather smooth because I'd like that for awhile.  It will be what it will be, though, and I will adapt.  I always do.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I love the organization of my Franklin Planner but, over the years, it has plumped up with notes and jottings of varying importance until it is one heavy little sucker.

When you have a mind like I have which is interested in everything, having it all in one place is a life-changer.  That doesn't mean I don't have file folders with articles torn from magazines and reference photos on my computer for future paintings, it just means that the immediate post-it jottings have a home with an address and they are not on little squares which can be lost to the ether on a whim.

Now, that zippered black book is filled with years of notes.  I like it that way.  What is wearing on me is transporting it back and forth to work because I need said notes and the calendar and the address book in both places.  I do not want to duplicate it - God forbid!  What I have done, though, is get a trim little red binder which holds just my calendar, address book and two tabbed sections of plain notepaper for personal and work notes.  Personal is in the #1 tab, naturally.

I love it - it even slips in my purse.  It is a fraction of a pound.  I can swing said purse onto my shoulder without pulling it out of the socket.  I have duplicated nothing. 

I love downsizing.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Monadnock Art Tour 16

October is the perfect time to head up into New Hampshire and wander the backroads from studio to studio.  There is a leafy smell in the air that enchants and breathtaking color to amaze us.  Chris and I made our annual trek to the Dublin/Peterborough area to tour what we could of the 50 art studios tucked into the foothills of Mt. Monadnock.
Jane Howard in her studio
We packed a lunch of Tuscan pasta, sandwiches and fruit so we could make the most of our day and explore as much as we wanted to.  A quick trip to the Price's for fresh cider and we were on our way.  We started at Jane Howard's studio, eager to see how she had grown in the past year and what new things she was trying.  She was working on a self-portrait and had completed a wonderful woman knitting (you can see it next to the window in this photo).  Her architectural beach scenes have a unique quality which I love.  My favorites, though, are the painted collage still lifes like one above the window.  They tell a detailed story of varied interests which draw you in to speculate about the person who collected these items and why they are of importance.  The nice thing is that you can vary the story in your mind each time you look at the painting.  I love that about them.

We visited quite a few studios some of which were in old homes built in the late 1700s and mid-1800s.  Low beamed ceilings and wide planked floors complemented the timeless art on view.  Others had bright, light-filled studios with cans and cans of brushes and paint stained easels.  Having just bought a wide, flat blending brush, I know the obsession for good working tools.

The day was inspirational and the scenery exquisite, even if the foliage hasn't peaked yet.  All the more to enjoy in the weeks to come!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October Pumpkins

It seems that everywhere I turn, pumpkins are lined up on lintels and gracing the stone walls as I pass through Groton on my way home at night.  Mums are tucked into old iron pedestal planters and the leaves are gently turning from green to golden yellow and red.  Makes me thankful to live in close proximity to so many sugar maple trees!

I have my own cheery pumpkin which sits on my desk at work.  It is stitched in silks, perle cottons, metallic fibers and ribbon thread and is embellished with beads and memory thread with a cute little crow in the corner.  The black lacquer Betsy Box from Sudberry House is a perfect mount for it since I can hide my stash of Halloween candies inside with no one the wiser!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Expectations Great and Small

'Our expectations help us see but they also blind us to what we don't expect.'   - Ellen Langer, On Becoming an Artist

There is a saying about not seeing the forest for the trees.  Most often, we do see the forest.  It is the individual trees which become lumped together to form the whole.  If asked to draw the forest, the trees are reduced to a random uniformity of what we perceive trees look like.  Stick-like trunks rise from the surface of the ground and leaves form a canopy on top.  They blend together to form the 'forest'.  Their depth and breadth can become lost in the interpretation.

While skimming across the harbor on the schooner on Saturday, we expected to see unrelieved clouds.  After all, it was a gray, rainy day. 

By accepting this, we formed certain expectations of how the sail would go and that we would have to forgo sparkling waters and deep shadows.  On this day, the edges of buildings onshore were blurred.  The gray sky rendered the water in a charcoal blackness.  The only lightness came from the turn of the waves in our wake.

We expected it to look this way but nature has its own mind about things and creates drama where there is none - if our minds are open to the possibilities around us.  Tumbling fog softened the shoreline and obscured the details of homes and inlets.  Suddenly, we were aware of warmth on our backs and a sparkling motion in the water close to shore.  Just overhead, a hole of blue spread open the clouds changing everything. The opening was brief but lasted long enough for everything to shift.  At one point, when we sailed under the edge of the grayness above, the sea was split in two with murky grayness to port and sparkling blue waters to starboard.  A distinct line formed in the water separating the colors.  Just like that, my perception of the sky and sea changed forever.

A Proper Send Off - Jay Albert, Cape Ann Images
The sail culminated with a memorial for Joe Garland who passed away just shy of his 89th birthday last week.  He was a beloved Gloucester persona, a timeless friend and historian of all things fishing and all things Gloucester.  We sailed into the harbor to gather with other fishing boats and schooners waiting to pay their respects.  When Zack lit the cannon, a cacophony of booms, horns, whistles and shouts filled the air sending hundreds of seagulls up into the skies in spiralling tornadoes of motion.  A proper send off and a memorable sail once again on the Thomas E. Lannon.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lannon Adventure

Once more, we sailed on the Thomas E. Lannon in Gloucester, MA.  Eleven years ago, it was to take my father's ashes out to sea, today it was to enjoy the sail and say hello again.

It was raining when we woke up and so cloudy that we feared the schooner would not sail.  Knowing New England, though, it could be a deluge of rain here and clear as a bell on the seashore so off we went.  As predicted, the roads became drier the closer we got to Gloucester.  The cloudiness didn't bother us - there wasn't a chill to the air and I knew the sea would look special in the gloom just as it could when it was bright and clear.

What we didn't expect was to see the fog rolling in along the horizon and then along the southern shore of the harbor.  It swirled between the trees and the water close to shore glistened.  Glistened?  Couldn't be, but as I turned to look north, there was sunshine hitting the bow and casting shadows through the rigging.

It was fascinating.  I have never experienced anything like it and I marveled at the phenomenon.  What started out as a sail without enough wind to fill the sails turned into an amazing experience.

Eastern Point Light
A pocket of blue sky opened up as we turned back towards the harbor after we passed the Eastern Point Lighthouse.  Rays of sunshine lit the fog so that the layers slithered along the coast.  The sky had darkened over the town but stayed away from us.  It is so hard to describe nature's movements sometimes.  I am just thankful we could soak in its unique persona in such a wonderful way.