Postcards from the Ledge – 17

Summer begins here with a whisper.
Gonna let the warm air dry out the grass
before I take on the mowing
which needs to be done
before we can plant
the last of the seedlings
which needs to be done
before the week is out
so
while I’m waiting for grass to dry
I’ll paint.

Memorial Day – 2013

From the Reclamation Series

Reclamation lg

 Reclamation – An exploration of a hidden island treasure

 

Hidden vistas, historic vineyard homesteads, echoes of vintage islanders, the tools of their trades and the marks they have left in the wake of their time here are meaningful touchstones for the muses and vivid fodder for the creative soul.  So it was, that when I sat down at my studio table a few months ago and read in the Vineyard Gazette about the Martha’s Vineyard Museum acquiring the old Marine Hospital building in Vineyard Haven, I was eager to see it for myself.

The Marine Hospital was built in 1895 and sits on a prominent hill overlooking what had only a few years earlier, in 1871, assumed its modern name of Vineyard Haven.  Over the last hundred plus years it had become obscured by the substantial growth of oaks, maples and at least one Siberian Elm whose towering beauty still envelopes one entire wing.  I’m probably not the only visitor, when hailing the island from the upper deck of the ferry,  to be surprised by its stalwart presence on the horizon, after the museum returned the landscaping to its earlier state.  While the clearing reveals an old friend on the town’s skyline, it also restores the dramatic view from atop that hill looking out over the expanse of lagoon and harbor and Vineyard Sound.

view from beach road 1910

My curiosity was satisfied when Denys Wortman, MV Museum Board member whose Vineyard roots are deeply woven into the fabric of the island, graciously guided me on a tour of the building last October.  He filled me in on the history of the building which was a 30 bed state of the art hospital treating islanders, soldiers in both World Wars I and II, and sailors who passed through the busy port.  It boasted the island’s first x-ray machine and elevator in a brick addition which was built in 1938.  Walking through its cavernous hallways we peered around the blackened walls of the darkroom where those x-rays were developed and explored the operating room and its alcoves.

The hospital was de-commissioned in the early 1950’s and the St. Pierre family took over its care and ran a summer camp there up until 2006.  You can see echoes of those happy campers in the murals  of sailboats painted on the wall in one of the bright corner rooms.  The building is infused with light by virtue of the many tall windows and the glassed transoms over the doorways which let that light cascade deeply into the space.  When I remarked on the graceful woodwork and the way each of the stuccoed corners was wrapped in a slender finial-capped turning of mahogany, Denny said there is someone on the island who has some extra pieces of those in a barn as his father was one of the craftsmen who worked on the building.

boat and mural

It’s that kind of lore which excites me and makes this building special.  From the half-tiled walls to the pressed tin ceilings, the patched and re-patched plastered surfaces and the ornately decorated cast iron radiators, the juxtaposed textures of weathered brick and smoothly polished patina of creamy porcelain, to the greening of the old copper and the deep marine blue painted baseboards that anchor the vaulted spaces to solid ground… the architecture is elegant in its simplicity and charms the esthetic heart.

I returned to the building many times during that autumn visit and tried to experience how the light and shadows changed over the course of a day.   One morning Denny met me and brought along the museum flag.  When I stepped outside to walk across the wide expanse of front lawn to help him raise it I commented on how there wasn’t a cloud in the crisp October sky.  “Pilots call that Severe Clear”,  he replied.

denny and flag

Back in my Pennsylvania studio when I was looking through the sketches and notes I had taken I found that I had written down that phrase and, for almost every morning of the dozens of days it took me to paint this view from the balcony, the spring sky here was brilliantly cloudless…so the title fits.

Severe Clear

Click Here to see all the paintings in the series.

I didn’t start out to make this a series, but as I finished each painting and saw them leaning along the studio walls it became clear that together they were beginning to tell a deeper story.  One which the building itself had to tell.  I wasn’t there to be a witness to the bustle of its early hospital days, or the loneliness of the few years that it sat vacant, or the second incarnation as children’s voices filled the hallways, but the spirits of those who moved through the corridors during its lifetime were present and as I studied and listened I was beginning to see the first inklings of its next chapter.

The museum had begun to move some of its acquisitions into the future home, and I found a particularly symbolic beauty in the dear old row boat that was resting against the standpipe in the downstairs hallway.  Through the open door behind it you could just catch a hint of the mural depicting the “Sweet 16” Menemsha wooden sailboat.  A real life version of which is tarped over and grounded on blocks outside and just around the corner.  Though a fair enough challenge to capture the building and the boat faithfully in all their weathered-chip-painted glory… I had a blast painting them both.

And I learned something about myself as an artist over the months of producing this collection of paintings.  With each one I dug a little deeper into the surfaces, took more time to study the textures and stepped further out on that edge of rendering.  I went from seeing the rooms first as vessels of color and light and then slowly, as details came into sharper focus, a sort of map would appear.  A map of stories.  Those finely chiseled cracks in its well used surfaces were asking to be painted honestly and I had to find the courage to listen and to work harder at seeing the building…and myself.

Both acts of… reclamation.


Postcards from the Ledge – 16

In this corner of the planet Fridays are trash pickup days.
The trucks roll before dawn so Thursday is officially Trash Day.

In this state of lockdown, with time whipping by like the wicked witch in Dorothy’s Kansas tornado, when Herself starts the day by saying, “It’s trash day” I feel like there are two thursdays in each week.

Today is trash day…again.

That’s all I have to say about that, except it explains why I thought it had been only a week since I last posted. Calendar says 10 days. I’ll just leave that there.

I spent my lunch hour on this Thursday watching my pal David Wallis on my phone.

He’s a fellow artist who not only shares wall space with my work at the Granary Gallery, he also manages it and he’s pretty darn good at both.

Oar Luck  –  Oil on Panel available at the Granary Gallery

So the Granary is getting into the online gig with something they are calling

Notice the Thursday theme running along here.

pARTicipate at home with Artist David Wallis

As pART of our artist series, we present David Wallis leading a demonstration in watercolors. Today, he will take us through the basics of color and how to compose a fantastic watercolor of your own. All levels are encouraged to join!1:30 pm DemoThis is a prerecorded demo (the internet connection in David's studio is poor). 2:10 pm Join David LIVE for a Q&A on ZOOM ZOOMhttps://zoom.us/j/3120891796?pwd=dDdXckQvWWN6cllJNGFMSXdFTDNRZz09Meeting ID: 312 089 1796Password: 542847See more of David's work at:https://granarygallery.com/search-works.php?keyword=david+wallis

Posted by Granary Gallery on Thursday, May 21, 2020

If I did that right you should see a link to their FB page above…where you can also have lunch with David while he performs his Intro to Color Theory ala Watercolors Demo.

It was fun to watch from my studio kitchen and this old dog even learned a new trick.

Another new thing I am learning to do is to comb wool.

I mentioned in an earlier post that my pillow cases are restocked with new fleece and with that I set out to upgrade my fiber prep.

Behold…the Viking combs.

I think the rake on the right is jealous of the craftsmanship as she photobombed the new gals in town.

Basically you load the wool onto the stationary comb and bring thecomb in your free hand through the locks in series of perpendicular passes until the fiber is loaded up on that comb. Two or three passes is all it takes. What you see pictured below is the second pass where already the fibers are beautifully lined up and open.

Then you load it onto the larger blending hackle…

and THEN you pull it off into this light and fulffy nest like length of roving…

with…A Diz…

It’s traditionally a concave disc, I’ve seen them made from whale bone, wood and plastic…but when you are also a spoon carver and you have a bag of unfinished spoons..well you pick out one that feels right and drill a hole in it and add some decoration and Bob’s your uncle you have a Diz.

I’ve never seen one with a handle…here’s one for sale at The Woolery store

but for me the handle is a bonus and makes it easy for my right hand to grasp while pulling the fiber through the tiny hole with the left hand. I needed one more hand to hold the camera in order to show you that but Herself was busy so maybe later.

This new skill and method is fabulous and fun to learn. Soooo much easier on my hands than other carders and the resulting roving is an absolute dream to spin. Not sure why it took 40 years for me to try this, possible the terrifying sharpness of all those tines… but there’s no looking back.

I’m experimenting with yarn thickness hoping to produce some thinner yarn than I usually make and so far I have five skeins…

the one on the far left was the first one out of the fleece and done before I started using the viking combs. Much less uniform. The combs do a much better job of aligning the fibers which results in a “Woolen” rather than “Worsted” spun yarn. There’s your fun fact for today…

which is a Thursday.

Now I’m off to take the trash out before getting around to my actual day job.

I suppose you can look for me to be doing one of those pARTicipate at home gigs in the future. It’ll be hard to beat Dave’s smooth delivery.

Stay tuned and stay frosty out there…

Here’s a couple sheep…just outstanding in their field…

The Flock 2019

And we have arrived at the end…
only to start at the beginning.

I owe everything Vineyard to my friend Lynn.
She brought me here for the first time.

We would throw a box of spaghetti and some brownie mix
into her car and drive from our shared apartment in Somerville
out to the ferry and over to her beloved island.

It was ten years or more before I even knew there were towns
other than Chilmark.

We drove straight from boat to bluff
and left only briefly for the annual lobster from Larsen’s
…and regular visits to Chilmark Chocolate.

Lynn had the biggest heart I’ve ever known
and its core and depths were chiseled out of those cliffs.

Her honest and joyful humor was wedged in between
every one of the giant stones she tended along her wall.

Her kindness and overflowing generosity
live on in the daffodils that now soak up her spring sunshine.

Her friendship and her family have given me
the closest thing to a home that I have ever known.

The monarch is for her.
Actually it may BE her.

For me
they always will be.

On the day I captured this light
there was a very short window
of this calm after the storm
just enough time
for the sheep to make their way
across the field to where I stood
and as the sun began to set
she flew behind me
and landed on this bend of grass
and stayed until I turned around.

Her smile was exactly as I remembered it
with that laughter and love
come to share the moment
which I had been searching for
all those years
as we had made a ritual of stopping
at this turnout each time we left her camp
to see if the sheep were there
and the muses might be too.

After four decades …
and with a wink and a nod
from one happy dancing angel
they did.

Thank you dear sweet soul.


Postcards from the Ledge – 15

Big wind…

Big decision.

The morning’s laundry is getting a second rinse cycle from the passing shower.
Great gusts of wind blew through the holler a few minutes ago.
And we have come to a sad conclusion.

We will not be making the trip to Martha’s Vineyard for my annual Granary Gallery Show.

Pat always counseled her Hospice patients that ambivalence is what eats you up…and there are no wrong decisions. So we made the call.

We still know so little about this virus, but the course of the pandemic appears relentless and we in this family trust science and revere scientists and health experts.

Chris reports that the gallery is making preparations to open when the governor and health inspectors give the all clear. As with all businesses large and small many modifications will need to be made for the safety of staff and patrons. It’s early days but we agreed that gatherings like show opening cocktail parties with dozens to hundreds of people are not possible. We are grateful that he and the stellar staff are willing to try and help keep their artists afloat and we know that in a crisis like this humans seek beauty.

There are also issues for those of us who call Martha’s Vineyard a spiritual home but do not…as yet…have keys to the place. Like many resort destinations, The Vineyard is challenged by so many residents and businesses relying on tourism for income, and like all of us the islanders are divided about how and when to allow that commerce to resume.

We straddle both camps but are choosing not to risk the health of our friends by possibly bringing more virus to their already limited health care system. And with highly vulnerable risk factors, we are choosing not to take the chances that days of travel and higher concentrations of humans would bring to our own health.

So, while we are not going to the island…

The PAINTINGS ARE !!!

And that is my challenge.

I am going to need help.

And more than a few miracles of supply chain timing…Julie get ready !

But the plan is now to have the paintings there at the gallery for whatever sort of viewing they can muster. There are plans for a Virtual Vernissage, I just made that up but it’s a good one. And I am beginning to ponder on what I can do from here that will enable me, or at least my virtual self, to be present as well.

If any of you have ideas throw them out. Like I said, I’ll need help.

So now it’s time to get back to work.

Feels like a good time to feature the place where I expect to be working hard for the next few months…

Stay extra frosty out there…we’ll get through this.

That’s how the light gets in  –  2013

This painting began with the title, a line from the wonderful Leonard Cohen song, Anthem whose chorus goes like this…

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

And it was taped to my easel for over a year. Now, everything on, or pretty much near, my easel eventually becomes a wiping surface for my brushes. After that much time the tattered notation was almost completely obscured by paint. But still, it and all the other quotations that surround me there are doing their job.

They are there to nudge, and in some cases to shove, my fears and doubts and ego and shaky confidence all aside. There are notes of encouragement, interesting thoughts that I lifted from the books I listen to while working, reminders when to plant garlic, and, like this one, words or phrases that I thought would be good painting titles that need time to percolate.

In addition to the notes, I have a support system of talismans. Objects that are touchstones to people and memories that have had profound influences on my creative journey. The ones featured in this painting include the well worn denim shirt, on the back of which is embroidered the cartoon character of Ziggy hand sewn for me by my very first patron, Stephanie, whose never wavering support began in our high school days.

And there is the also well worn railroad hat from my beloved Pops, Fred Decker. There’s a great photo of him wearing that hat, which is taped to the shelf behind my easel chair, wherein he is sitting next to my grandmother Mima, on the sofa in Craley, being mischievous together before they became leaders in my pack of guardian angels .

The old niblick, wooden golf putter, has been re-serviced as my mahl stick, holding up my favorite teacup is the beach stone which was handed to me by Mr. Morse and which echoes the deep connection to those Vineyard shores… and, most importantly,  looking down from above is the photograph of Herself taken on the bluff in Chilmark where our hearts were joined.

The window to the left provides the light that I need to see the panels, but the true light, the authentic self which I am constantly seeking, shine back at me from these precious objects.


Postcards from the Ledge – 14

No you didn’t miss a post.
I just feel there is enough bedevilment in the air to add a thirteenth.

It’s been a quiet week here.
Only two major meltdowns,
some sunnier days,
and a lot of learning.

A future posting will feature the new spinning tools that I tried out this week.
Viking wool combs.
Every bit as steam punk as they sound.
It’s early days on that learning curve but I’m pretty sure they will be a game changer in the productivity chain in my fiber arts production.

I’m closing out a morning of catching up here in the office.

Paid some bills.
Completed the 2020 Census.
Made a playlist of music for bill paying…
currently spinning Help Me from the Joni Mitchell Tribute Album…
appropriate.

And I was finally able to complete a recent print order.

Once in a blue moon I get a notice from PayPal that someone out there has visited my website and ordered a print from the studio. It’s rare enough that it always takes me by surprise and reminds me not to go too quickly through the email when I’m deleting things.

I discovered two new ways in which this new world order has affected the business side of this professional artist thing.
Formerly reliably overnight delivery options…are not.
And stay at home orders make regular trips to the Post Office…not.

I shared an email chuckle with the patient patron, after confirming the arrival of the missing link in my supply chain I let him know that once the delivered parcel was released from it’s 24 quarantine on the back porch I would be able to complete his order..and he replied with a thumbs up as his porch “sometimes looks like a loading dock”.

This morning I am hoping to solve new world order number two by putting the online USPS pickup service to its first test. If they can find their way to the log cabin side porch it may be a game changer.

Some months back I was moved to announce that the prices of my studio prints would be increasing in response to some substantial raises in material costs. (Ink is still the most expensive liquid on the planet.)
But honestly, I don’t have the energy to worry about that right now or to make things any harder for supporters of the arts. So as long as I can continue to get ink, paper and mailing tubes I’ll be happy to send prints out into the world…

Along with my sincere gratitude.

So…
here’s to another of the many essential workers who show up so we can stay home…

The Flyer  –  2005

One of those which came in a dream.

Stumbling out of the dark cabin bedroom so as not to wake sleeping dog
or partner I go tripping over knitting and socks to find pen and paper.

Quick sketch of birdcage open window and feathers.
Capture the essence before it flutters away.
Then tiptoe back to bed and work on the rest of the story.

Weeks later, after Ebay packages arrive
and I have dug the mailbag from Muddy Creek Forks out of the closet,
I am left with the elements but not the milieu.
And so, from the corner of my impossibly cramped and overcrowded studio,
comes an uncluttered and opening space full of color and light and mystery.
A feng shui for the imagination.

Yesterday I received a moleskin pocket journal in the mail.
It is going right beside the bed with pen and flashlight.
Pleasant Dreams…

 

 


Postcards from the Ledge – 12

Oh those sweet cherry bells.

The first crop is harvesting this week and it has made all the difference.

We lost a couple plants… not to frost but to squirrels…so to have something fresh to eat  from the garden is heartening.

This will be a short post…My friend Peter reports that most of his thousands of viewers who tune in to his online video tutorials last no more than 10 minutes. Their loss.

Short for me today because the sun in shining.

That elusive orb that so many of us have been sorely missing is blazing away here in the studio yard so it was time to try out our new wash set up.

I spent way too long yesterday in the garage building the wringer mentioned in the last blog post.

It is always fun for this former woodworker to pick up her tools and play. It got complicated yesterday as the workshop is full of a winter of discontent and my usual workbench was not accessible. I had to choose between the vice and the chop saw. The saw won so I cleared this spot out in the back…

This was a borrowed design from youtube which I had to modify. Quite a bit of modify as it turned out. The rolling pin on the bottom had to turn freely but the top one needed to be stationary. All I could find was one of my precious last chair posts…this one in walnut no less. I hated to cut that 48″ down to 15″ but needs must.

I loved climbing over the quarantine stations on the porch to sit for a spell on the shaving horse again…

I’m going to take Peter up on his offer to turn what parts I might need for this machine because I think the two rollers should be a pair of the same size. But that’ll be the upgraded version after I work out the current kinks.

With today’s sunshine…

we took the plunge…

I gotta say I’m a bit shocked that it actually works. I heard from many of you on FB after I posted a video of Herself trying this thing out that you remember vividly your grandmothers’ advice to keep your finger outta there…Even a story from Lodi about Aunt Imy remembering an incident with her mother and a tender body part.

Seeing as our motto here is Tit’s UP…I’ll just say that’ll be essential to remember on wash day.

With a bit of practice…and lordy we will be getting that…this part of our new world order might be manageable. And getting to spend time outside amongst the blooming lilacs…

That’ll do pig. That’ll do.

Today was supposed to be the first day of the Sheep and Wool Festival. They have concocted an online experience …

For which I applaud them. But I am personally glad that I found two fleece before this event. The virtual fleece sale online is just links to venders and I had hoped for good pics and details about each entry. Very confusing. I’m going to go outside now and open mine up and pick around to see what shape they are in.

I have ordered some carding combs. Think Edward Scissorhands. Extremely scary looking things. But it’s time to kick my spinning game up a notch and that’s just one lesson I’m taking from this crisis. If not now…when.

That’s it for now.

If anyone is still reading…here’s your bonus gift.

Be not afraid…

Noli Timere  – 2016

Be not afraid.

I called her Scout.

Because, I knew I was going to be spending
a lot of intimate hours with this sheep
and she needed a name.

Because, on the day I started this painting,
the news came across the airwaves
that Harper Lee had died.

And because I wanted to be just like
Atticus’ curious, strong,
loyal and fiercely brave
daughter Scout.

It was late in February
when I began this painting.
We were deep into a very rough winter
of care-giving and hospice nursing
for Pat’s elderly aunt and uncle.

His death in November
left a wife of 72 years to grieve
through the cobwebs of Alzheimers.

Two days after I began this painting,
Aunt Mary died, in the dark hours
between dusk and dawn,
while Pat slept
on the floor beside her bed.

The afternoon before,
out of a deep state of rest,
Mary sat up in bed and cried,
Pat, help me, I’m so afraid.

Taking her hand Pat comforted Mary
with the words that her room was full of angels,
and all of them were there to take her to Bob.

Pat’s art is her compassion.
She was born to be a hospice nurse.
It is hard, meaningful work,
that only someone strong,
and fiercely brave can do.

Her courage runs fathoms deep.

The grief that followed Mary’s death,
was interrupted by waves of peace.

In the wake of that chapter in our lives,
I was drawn into a profound intensity of focus,
as I tried to shine some light on the emotions
that were trying their best to hide.

Scout and I spent those weeks together,
weaving our way through her pasture of grasses,
and catching the sunset in the fibers of her fleece.

I had been listening to Louis Penny’s wonderful
Three Pines Mystery series, and was so happy to be
among the old friends her characters have become.
They are real, and honest, loyal and brave.
Spiked with just enough wit and humor to keep my pencils sharp.

At some point,
most likely when I was struggling with
refracting the rainbow of light
through one of those four hundred million locks,
I caught a new word, and paused the book
to go back and listen again.

She was describing the words that Seamus Heaney
had written to his wife, on his deathbed…

Noli Timere

I put down the brushes.
Scout smiled.

As I am writing this now,
in this troubled world,
with so much to fear,
I am sitting next to Scout,
framed in her quiet island pasture,
searching my soul
for the courage… to listen.


Postcards from the Ledge – 11

I’ve been feeling low the last couple days.

Maybe you have too.

It’s easier to leave these breadcrumbs
when the light gets in.

And just now…

thanks to Zoe…

it did.

Stay frosty out there everyone…
we’ve got your back.

Dreamcatcher  –  2018

Not sure if it’s the finch or her perch
but this tender glancing gesture
reminds me of a little poem
by Micheal Longley…

A TOUCH

after the irish

she is the touch of pink
on crab apple blossoms
and hawthorn and she melts
frost flowers with her finger


Postcards from the Ledge – 10b

Follow up –

The Follansbees have provided the following and previously promised article…

“Washing Household Linens and Linen Clothing in 1627 Plymouth” by Maureen Richard

I can’t figure out how to get it here on the blog but the link below will provide you with a pdf file which you can open any way you like.

Maureen-laundry

I’m looking forward to reading it over my lunch hour. It’s hot dog day.

Secondly,

Someone requested the recipe for that fabulous looking loaf of bread featured in part A of this blog post.

I don’t remember where I got it but I tweaked the original so I get to rename it…

Quarantine Potato Bread

1 med Starchy Potato
1/2 cup potato water (twice…twice… I have dumped the water out while draining the cooked spuds so I’m giving this helpful hint…save that water)

3/4 cup warm water
2 Tablespoons Honey
2 1/4 tsp. Yeast
3 1/2 cup Bread Flour (best of luck finding that)

Cut that potato into small chunks and cook for 15 minutes or so then mash fine…

Drizzle the honey into the bottom of your grandmother’s pyrex measuring cup, then add the warm water up to the red 3/4 cup line and sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 10 minutes until foamy.

Combine all ingredients and knead for 10 minutes. That’s my favorite part.

Proof in a lightly greased bowl covered with a damp tea towel and set up on some high warm surface like on the top of your old mustard colored double oven…1-2 hours. This is a good time to weed one bed or do two crossword puzzles or play 12 Maj-Jong games on your ipad.

Return to that bowl and marvel at the rise you got from all that kneading. Knock it down and roll it up into a buttered loaf pan. Cover with that damp towel and proof for 45 minutes.

Bake (with the towel off obviously) 30-35 minutes @ 375 degrees.

Another helpful note, I found that placing it on the bottom rack in my top oven gave a more even bake …and 30 minutes is the exact right time for same oven.

If you buttered that pan like my Mima would have then your own fabulous loaf will fall gently out…let it cool on a wire rack as long as you can stand before cutting it open and slathering it with butter.

In the original recipe it was said that the addition of the potato somehow helps the bread to last longer. I can attest only that the previous two loaves I made each lasted one week. On the last day save two of those older pieces per person in the household to make french toast. It’s quarantine bread after all…you need your strength and maple syrup is well known to stabilize one’s sanity.

You are welcome.

And as a bonus…here’s a look at that wonderful stove…

Hot Flash – 2007

If you need to ask… you won’t get it .

A list of thank yous is in order though.

To Julie, for the long term loan of her grandmother’s fan and for recognizing in the first place that I “needed” to have it in the prop room.

To Susan, for the gift of her magnificent old stove and for recognizing that I “needed” to have it in the new studio.

To Mima, for the hours spent in her Uniontown kitchen and recognizing that I would someday go out of my way replicate it in the hopes of channeling her love.

And, to my dearest Pat, for paving the way before me…and for smiling as she recognizes, with such affection and that ever so tender hint of knowing sarcasm, that the battle has only begun to rage inside my hormonally challenged almost fifty self.


Postcards from the Ledge – 10

Hello in there…

Bless you John Prine and Bette Midler for piercing my 20 year old heart with that song.
It pulled me by the teeth to the other side of a gripping depression and became a touchstone along the way for the next 40 years. I have always worn my fried egg on the outside…proudly because of you.

Me at 20 -1978

Etching from college portfolio  –  1978

So I just got off the phone with my pal Peter Follansbee. I’m throwing a link to his website here …click… so that you can spend some of that extra screen time that we all have these days to visit with him and his woodworking. He, like most of us creative types, is able to continue plying his craft and is producing some fabulous new work.

Both Peter and his wife Maureen are historians who worked at Plymoth Plantation so they have a unique perspective on the 17th century. Peter’s focus was primarily on all things wood while Maureen was the textile expert. So it was that today, when we were comparing quarantine notes in our social distancing phone chat, and I brought up my own next woodworking project… Peter said Maureen wrote an article about that. He’s gonna dig it up for me… and I’m all ears…because…

Laundry.

As I sat in the studio kitchen one morning last week…looking out at the same view I’ve been greeted with for over a decade…the Muses lit a match.

Spark…at the end of the walkway…the centerpiece of the Morag Gamble bed…were the washtubs that Susan gave me years ago for a planter. Deb’s begonias and a few annuals  bloom there every summer and brighten that corner. And the extra light that now shines there in the wake of the giant ash tree removal last year…was apparently just what the Muses needed.

Because…wait for it…they are WASH tubs.

This was the beginning of what turned out to be Olde Timey Sunday.

Well the true beginning was actually the two hours it took me to repair the hose faucet and run a line out to the tubs. But after that …well after I had to whittle a couple stoppers out of our stash of wine corks. But THEN we got it going.

The washing part was made so much easier with those tubs. But the next stage…wringing…eh not so much. My hands aren’t strong enough any more to do that. So I did some research. Of course there is a youtube video on that…and with that help I’ve figured out a way to build a wringer. Hopefully Maureen’s article about doing laundry in the 1600’s will give me a few other pointers. I’ll keep you posted on the making of the wringer…for now you can ponder on the parts list…a rolling pin and bungy cords were ordered from Amazon and the garage will need to be cleared out enough to get to the wood stack and the tools.

It always gives me an energy boost to have a new problem to solve and a project to build, and while the clothes were drying in the sunny breeze, Herself began clearing out the greenhouse…so we could get to the spinning wheel.

Because I scored two brand new fleece to spin !!!

Snowball…and Calico…

Beautiful fleece I found on Etsy from Aspendale Farm . 

A small farm in Idaho where Romney Sheep are raised and where they are kind enough to send an extra gift bag for safe storage…

One of the best days of our year is the trip in May to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and one of the first dominoes to fall in our corner of this pandemic was the early cancellation of that festival. Having had to miss the last two years I was doubly sad. But social media came to the rescue and, after putting a query out to our resourceful peeps, I had several leads on where I might procure some spinning fleece.

One of the best parts of that side trip was reconnecting with Tom Knisely. A wonderful weaver friend of old who lives just over the hill from the studio and we have only now discovered that he has a new weaving/spinning retreat and workshop with his daughter Sara Bixler…oh the excitement as I get to anticipate the day when the vaccine arrives and we can go back out into the world …the very first place I will go is…

So now I’m all set.

The old wheel got some new grease.
When the weather gets just a bit warmer I’ll be out there in my most peaceful place with soft silky fiber steadily spinning onto the bobbin.

The pioneering theme closed out the day with a simple quiet rise…

And there is no better way to illustrate the way that all this hand work soothes the soul …

The Long Draw  –  2018

Stay frosty out there.


Postcards from the Ledge – 9

Heavy hard frost this morning.

It didn’t catch me by surprise.

Covered tenders and put away tools.

The fleece jacket was a mistake.

Should have gone with full winter coat.

Got this far in the morning walk…

and chose the heated kitchen…

I have given over to the Muses…

completely and utterly.

The days are not mine.

They breath for me.

They lift… or do not lift the brush.

So it was surely they
who stopped me here
in the frosty hollow
perhaps to remember…

x

View from my easel  –  2010

It is such a pleasure to look out on this farm when I’m working.
And this winter, for the first time since we turned the bungalow next door into my studio, we had a real winter.
This was the morning after the first storm.
Finnegan and I were the only ones out in the neighborhood…
just as the birds were waking up.
I spend most of my days, in this corner of Pennsylvania,
painting corners of Martha’s Vineyard.
I’ve waited for three years now to find a way into painting
what is right outside my very own window.
It was the warm golden light that glowed from within the stand of drying cornshalks in that morning’s sunrise that did it for me.
I started with the treeline on the horizon
and then the barn, that magnificent old dame
and then the cornfield
layering color after color in the foreground
in preparation for toning it all down to create that field of white.
Good thing as it turned out.
Halfway through the painting I looked out
and all of that lovely corn had been harvested.
A moment’s beauty…fleeting but recorded now
to remind me how to see.


Hoppy to you

The Night Cre

Three years ago I sketched something similar to this after waking from a dream…

Each spring I came across it and half heartedly thought about looking

on the supermarket shelves for those egg dying kits I remembered….

but got distracted… and another year passed.

Then I found this basket in Jane Slater’s shop in Menemsha…

and brought it home to the studio and set another of Aunt Imy’s teacups on top…

and Susan came up with the exact McCormick’s egg dying kit
from the 60’s I was looking for…

and Pat drove in to town to rendezvous for the drop off…

and I rooted around in the white cabinet in the log cabin to find
every single rabbit related item we own…

and boiled up the eggs and filled four cups with hot water …

and caved in and added the vinegar after all …

which I thought was superfluous but which, it turns out, is the only way the dye will take…

and then I set it all up on the studio workbench and started sketching.

And THAT’s when the muses stepped in…

all of a sudden the setting sun shot through the front window and that magical shadow appeared.

Had I started five minutes later I would have missed it.

I love it when that happens.