Memorial

Today there will be a memorial service in Naples, Florida in memory of my father. The members of his church, friends and some family, will gather to celebrate his life and bury his ashes along side those of his wife Ann.

Here in Pennsylvania it is the first really cold and frosty day but the October sun is shining strong and lighting up the colors of the season. I’m heading up to the lake to take a walk in my own church.

In my absence, our dear friend Martha Forbes will be reading this passage which I wrote for the service…

 

Growing up as the young children of a minister it was sometimes
be a bit confusing when, sitting in the front pew and trying to follow along,  the congregation would arrived at the point in
the service when it was time to recite the Lord’s Prayer.

“Our Father” was actually not in heaven; he was standing right
there in front of

everybody
and usually winking at us…usually.

Today…for us… that prayer, resonates with new meaning.

 

smile. At his bedside, in those last few hours we had together, I searched the
bookshelf

on
his ipad for something soothing and meaningful to read to him. What I found was

Winnie
the Pooh.

It seems we had come full circle. He had read that to us on our
first days…and I read it to

Bob Good was given the gift of two families of children. The
six of us drew together

as
one family to ease his passing and to celebrate his life.

 

Our father was a scholar and a writer and as fond of fine
literature as he was quick

to

him
on his last. He told me once that I never made it past the first few pages when
it was

my
bedtime. He didn’t either.

So, this then… for the lover of words and pencils… and of
course breakfast… is what

comes
at the end of the story…

 

 

“This party, said Christopher Robin, is a party because of what
someone did, and

we
all know who it was, and it’s his party, because of what he did and I’ve got a
present

for
him and here it is…

 

It’s for Pooh…the best bear in all the world.”

 

When Pooh saw what it was he nearly fell down, he was so
pleased. It was a

Special
Pencil Case. There were pencils in it marked “B” for Bear, and pencils marked

“HB”
for Helping Bear, and pencils marked “BB: for Brave Bear. There was a knife for

sharpening
the pencils, and india-rubber for rubbing out anything which you had spelt

wrong,
and a ruler for ruling lines for the words to walk on, and inches marked on the

ruler
in case you wanted to know how many inches anything was, and Blue Pencils and

Red
Pencils and Green Pencils for saying special things in blue and red and green.
And all

these
lovely things were in little pockets of their own in a Special Case which shut
with a

click
when you clicked it. And they were all for Pooh.

 

“Oh ! “ said Pooh.

 

“Oh, Pooh ! “ said everybody except Eeyore.

“Thank – you, “ growled Pooh.

 

But Eeyore was saying to himself, “This writing business.
Pencils and what-not.

Over-rated,
if you ask me. Silly stuff. Nothing in it.”

 

Later on, when they had all said “Good-bye” and “Thank-you” to
Christopher

Robin,
Pooh and Piglet walked home thoughtfully together in the golden evening, and
for

a
long time they were silent.

 

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last,
“what’s the first thing

you
say to yourself?”

 

“What’s for breakfast,” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

 

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today ?” said
Piglet.

 

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

 

“It’s
the same thing,” he said.


Sunrise Panel

Sun

Sunshine

Lots of sunshine…

that’s what we’ve had for a whole week and it is healing the souls of flood weary citizens of the commonwealth.

So this morning I harnessed the power of those first rays as they blast through the foggy forest.

 

Yes, that’s a panel…a blank canvas as it were… which means that YES I am going to be painting again…any minute now. And yes, that’s an apple basket and a Stayman I think on the panel. Last night I took a previousely prepared panel and slathered on a final coat of the primo gesso ( Artboards Panel Gesso ) and this morning it was ready for the gentle wet-sanding which leaves that ultra smooth finish that I crave. You need to find a source of strong raking light to dance across the panel so the otherwise invisible imperfections can be spotted and sanded out. Today I let mother nature be the lightbulb as well as the drying source.

I have come to understand, though not always appreciate, that each painting has its own agenda, its own time to be rendered. I tried several times last fall, and then again in the spring, to work on the apple picking series which I had sketched out and planned to include in this year’s Granary show. But it wasn’t in the cards. Not its time… until now. It made me wait until the crisp autumn air sent me running for the first sweatshirt of the season…and the local orchard was announcing that it was time for pick-your-own…and the saigon cinnamon jar tumbled off the shelf and into my great grandmother’s dough bowl.

OK got it. I dug out the NC Wyeth quote which inspired the series when I read it in his letters last winter, ” I have all this and more, yet how I would like to relax; to be content with a wheelbarrow, a rake, an apple basket, a pipe.” And I sent Pat to her favorite farm stand to beg for a basket and Finnegan and I drove over to the orchard and picked a bushel of the finest looking apples…which, she reports, tasted pretty good too. Then we took a trip to Saren’s house to put the pieces of her old wooden wheelbarrow in the truck and bring it back to the studio for the setup.

With a bit of repair work it was strong enough to hold the apple basket and the rake and the pipe. So here’s a rare look at the first stage of the composition…

I say rare because, like any good magician, you risk letting down your audience if they see what goes on behind the curtain. I’m just so excited to be working at my day job again that I’m throwing open all the windows and doors.

Starting off the day with panel making at dawn… I can’t wait to see what other wonders await…

Take a big bite out of your day !


The Kindness of Strangers

Awash in flood recovery our family, our neighbors, our community and our state have been blessed with a dry sunny October week. Wherever we go now there are weary faces and stories to match. Everyone around us has been affected and so there is a sort of commaraderie that has swelled and landed us all on higher common ground.

And those random acts of kindness you occasionally hear about…you know those  little gestures from someone who doesn’t even know you…that catch you off guard and that take your breath away…as we go about our days wobbling with our tired backs and heavy hearts… we seem to keep bumping into them.

Like when Pat climbed out of her muddy boots and wanted to do something normal and went to get her haircut and her gal Marianne (at Salon Oxygen in York )made a space in her schedule… and listened to Pat’s story (as she always does because Pat tells the best stories) and when it came time to pay she told her Pat’s money was no good. “You’ve been through a rough time Pat, this one’s on me. Don’t you worry. You’ve been supportive or me for all these years. Let me give something back.”

And then today… when after weeks of having the industrial dehumidifier drying us out in the basement (you’ll remember the photo of Pete kindly delivering it to us right after the flood)…and worrying all along how much this was going to cost as the days dragged into weeks. Well Pat and I managed to haul it up one step at a time and got it in the station wagon and off she went to return it. Only to have Mike, and RSC Equipment Rentals in Lancaster, say to her, ” there’s no charge”. What ? “We know you’ve had a hard time. There’s another family who rented one from us too. It’s the least we can do to help out our flooded neighbors.”

Both times we wept.

And there have been so many other small gestures that add up to some very big sighs of relief on top of the huge out pouring of friends who showed up with gloves and smiles on.

We are making great progress. They were here today to measure for the furnace which they will install next week. Here’s a pic of the garage and shed  finished with reclaimed flood wood and as you can see I’ve had time to plant the fall crop and Pat helped me get the greenhouse back up around it so our little garden can begin to grow again.

Here’s hoping that your neck of the woods is drying out too and that your October days are full of crisp apples and the kindness of strangers.