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.

 


Postcards from the Ledge – 8

These are the Glory sisters.
They greeted me fully open to this stellar morning…even though I was later than usual.

New Rules…

1 – We can only watch two episodes of any given series at night.
I can’t expect to get any painting OR gardening done if the first number my eyes see in the morning starts with a 9.

2 – I can work in the garden with absolutely no guilt, rationalities or apologies of any kind all morning.

3 – IF I agree to stop at noon.

4 – Where upon I will eat breakfast AND lunch in one meal.

5 – All other work, including blog posts, bill paying, business stuff, and random google searching will be ceased at 1pm.

6 – Where upon I will show up at the easel and begin to paint.

7 – Only two pieces of Easter Chocolate per day…Until Easter…writes the Atheist.

8 – I will put down the brushes by sunset…currently around 8pm.

9 – Going forward I will use only two olives in my Quarantini…s.

10 – This year I will break all records for time spent in the sky chair.

It is now 2:29.
So the rest of this blog post will be a dump of photos showing progress on Rule # 2…

Yesterday was potting up day…
The Dill got new digs…

I am figuring out a recipe for my own potting soil since this is the year of stay at home ingenuity…some sieving required…

A prescription for heartburn pills makes for the perfect tamper downer when seeding flats…

Teeeeeeny seeds…wedding ring for scale…

This morning’s glorious sunshine was perfect to plant parsnips…

Ruth welcomes all seeds…so the last two feet of this parsnip run will have carrots, those white dots are pelleted seeds, Ruth preferred scattering over rows and it was much easier to try that here. The ground was rich dark brown and amazingly…in this the wettest part of the yard…and after a torrential storm in the middle of the night…was well drained and easy to work. I did add a thin layer of peat moss to help keep the seeds under some cover, then added a thin fleece over that to keep the light peat from blowing away, and the netted tunnel over that to keep critters out.

On the other end of the RS garden I’ve got the squash tunnel set up.

Last year, you may remember the loofah insanity, lots of leafy growth, some late hanging fruit, a total of exactly one three inch loofah… was harvested and that was by accident when I found it walking around the yard in January. 

Yeah…she’s adorable.

And I was able to move two more straw bales to complete the entry gate…The bales will have flowers planted in them for the pollinators.

And now it is 2:54…

One of the changes in our lives with this stay at home deal is that we, who do not have a washing machine, are doing our laundry in the sink. The drying part is no problem because we have an umbrella line in the studio yard.

I noticed this morning that my new method of brush wiping…when using the tiny brushes they tend to hold more of the turpentine in the ferrule when I wash them out…which I do more often than usual when rigging boats…hint as to current subject matter…the ferrule is the silver part of the brush pictured below and the paper towels rest on my knee to wipe that excess off.

So this is how I noticed what I noticed…

I guess that my right elbow is resting on…all that excess wet paint.

My uniform wears her battle scars well don’t ya think?

So of course…today’s painting is…

Bringing in the Sheets – 2014

I know people,
ok, two people,who hang their laundry out all year long.
My laundress is not a fan of this.

In our next house there will be a washer and dryer.
I have promised.

For now, and for the last quarter of a decade,
that weekly chore has been done up to town,
next to the local pizza joint.

Herself is on a therapists basis with the owner,
and most of her best stories have originated
between the spin cycles.
The characters join her there,
making entrances and exits
worthy of the bard Himself,
with the odd parrot  or two
on the shoulders of the jester stage left.

So, when it came time to pose for this painting,I actually had to search the studio for the clothespin.
It’s Ted’s, and that elegant swan shaped clip at the end
is the perfect balance of classic style and Yankee ingenuity…
just like Ted.

I hung the line at sunrise,
between the greenhouse and the grape arbor
and waited.
The first rays of sunlight caught the top of the sheet
and I quickly called Pat over from the cabin to pose.
In the initial sketches, done a few weeks before,
the shirt was to be white,
so I figured I could fake that part or pose her again later.

We played around with the angles and then I sketched
and took some photos and went inside to work.
When she called to let me know that Herself was headed up to the laundromat
I walked outside to stretch my legs and whammo…
a whole new light was cascading across that sheet.
I made her run back and,
in very short order,
I had what would become the final composition.

You can see that the white shirt,
which was still crumpled in the unwashed laundry bag,
when the light changed for the better,
stayed hidden there…
and the striped shirt of the laundress
which seemed to echo the uniforms
of those hard scrubbing for-bearers…
remained.

I believe fundamentally
in paying homage
to the women
upon whose shoulders we rise
and to the makers
of clothespins.


Postcards from the Ledge – 4

Today…

I went out on that ledge…

and beyond.

Denise and I have been planning THE GROCERY TRIP for a week now.
She is a hydro-geologist genius who cleans up Superfund sites for a living.
That requires, and she meets brilliantly, a highly specialized degree of scientific comprehension, and an even higher set of workplace safety standards…all of which go way beyond my everyday life. So she is the absolute go to when there is a toxic mess.

Both of us live in households with compromised immune systems so the goals we set are to minimize risk of bringing this C19 creature into our bodies and living spaces. Unlike many selfish idiots out there, we take social distancing seriously and the advice to move around in this world as if WE are contagious and don’t want to give it to our neighbors seems like a minimal standard of protection to meet.

We both decided to shop at our local health food store, Leg Up Farmer’s Market.

They always have fresh local produce and we’ve grown to rely on their other healthy and groovy products to fill in the food gaps. But during this pandemic they have stepped up in another way and are open for the first hour for seniors and immune-compromised shoppers. I apparently, and shockingly, qualify for both categories. We also figured that the “viral load” would be significantly less given that the volume of shoppers here is small at that hour compared to our big town grocery store.

We exchanged a few texts with suggestions for safety precautions and then Denise, the scientist, came up with a 3 page document, “Standard Operating Procedure for Grocery Store Trips”. She said I could share it and here are some of the highlights…

This is provided to describe the process used by the author to go to the grocery store.  The author does not assume any legal liability for others following this document. This is intended to reduce risk, not eliminate it. 

Hazard
Virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Pathways (how you can get it)

  • Inhalation of the virus in the air (aerosol)
  • Mucus membranes (eyes, nose)
  • Dermal contact with contaminated surfaces (touching, then touching your face)

Virus viability on surfaces  (how long it lives)

  • Aerosols (respiration, coughs) – up to 3 hours
  • Copper – 4 hours
  • Cardboard- 24 hours
  • Plastic – 2 to 3 days
  • Stainless steel – 2 to 3 days

Based on this information assume all air and surfaces are contaminated 

Hazard Mitigation (how to reduce the risk of exposure)

  • Use of personal protection equipment (PPE) to prevent dermal contact and inhalation
  • Only one person per trip
  • Post-potential exposure decontamination
    • Kill the virus
      • Disinfectants (hard surfaces)
      • Ultraviolet (UV) light (sunlight) – for items than cannot be easily washed or disinfected – do not rely on this. 
    • Physical Removal by washing (clothing)

Personal Protective Equipment 

  • Homemade facemask – to prevent inhalation.  I use a bandana folded to cover the nose and mouth, held in place with rubber bands or string.
  • Safety glasses – to prevent aerosol and dermal exposure to mucus membranes (eyes)
  • Gloves (nitrile gloves if you happen to have some, other gloves if not available, if using other gloves clean/wash before use) – To prevent dermal contact with contaminated surfaces 
  • Long sleeve shirt, pants, socks, shoes over a layer of inner clothing like leggings and sports bra (or no bra) or t-shirt so you do not flash the neighborhood when disrobing outside – Outer protective layer for your body to prevent contact with your skin

 

She goes on to itemize lists for…Trip Preparation, Trip Safety Protocol, and Decontamination Proceedures…

Decontamination

Step 1 – Purchased items

  • Wipe cans and boxes down with disinfectant solution 
  • Produce – remove outer bag and place in box
  • Move items to area where you can come get them so someone else or you can get after you decontaminate yourself
  • Place bags in bag for recycling or put reusable bags in bag for washer

Step 2 – Personal Decontamination

  • While outside removal PPE, outer clothing first takin care to not touch your under clothing, followed by safety glasses, homemade mask.  Place in bag so they can be placed in washing without touching them.
  • Place shoes in the sun or leave outside, do not bring them into the house.
  • Place items in washer.
  • Proceed to shower
  • I follow up with a neti pot flush using sterile water and saline solution and a gargle with warm saltwater (I know this is not scientifically proven, it makes me feel better)
  • After decontamination, put away groceries that are temporarily stored in the staging location.

Step 3 – Put away groceries, wash produce

Step 4 – Decontaminate the staging area, door knobs, car surfaces

Here she is with her trial PPE…

So, yesterday…Denise took one for the team and made the first trip.
It went well and with the exception of a few items missing on shelves she is home safely with a month’s worth of food and supplies.

Based on her success…today was my turn.

Coincidentally, just before I left, I watched a video on FB where a medical pro gave his tips on how to decontaminate shopping items when you get them home. Denise nailed it.

I did not take any pics of my PPE, but Herself got a kick out of it. There was only one other car in the lot at 8 when they opened and the staff far outnumbered the eventual shoppers I saw. Plenty of space to distance and a very respectful exchange was experienced each time I encountered fellow shoppers reaching for items on the same shelf. The store was well stocked, except for flour and one or two other items on my list which were not essential. I was able to secure enough food for what I hope will last 2 weeks to a month. By that time the garden should be producing spring greens and early veg to add to the staples and proteins.

Denise reports that Leg Up will soon be reducing their hours to be open 10-6, 10-11 for us old farts.

As for the home decontamination scene.
There was a lot more clorox wiping than I expected…that video suggested wiping the outside of all bags to be put in the freezer which made sense. And I will refine the staging areas in the near future. But so far so good.

The truck, which is currently a hay and birdseed silo…will double for decon 1 – items in original packaging that are stored away from weather and contact while virus germs dissipate – 3-5 days.

The porch decon includes several stages… veg out of bags ready to rebag before coming into kitchen…

Then we have the clean up on aisle three…

Bleach Bucket –

Sudsy bucket to wash clothes…for those of us who do not have a washing machine…

All of that, from shopping trip to decon took two hours.

Then strip down to the buffo…
toss clothes and shoes in the sudsy bucket…
fast enough that Herself cannot get her phone out of her pocket in time to take a pic of that hot mess for this blog…
and directly into the shower…
and presto-chango…
our coffers are refilled and we can settle back into our happy world of self-quarantine.

And we can do that because of all the others in our community and around the world who are sacrificing themselves to keep those store stocked, the testing stations staffed and the health care facilities open. Also a shout out to our local trash collectors, postal workers, and delivery drivers. Thank you to all those helpers who make it possible for the rest of us to do the right thing and stay home.

I feel 10 pounds lighter.
Our increased load of anxieties which met my normal state of neurosis head on
can take a deep breath and relax now.
With the help of our pal Denise…and all those other helpers…
we have achieved our Hunter Gatherer badge.

My other reward…the lingering smell of bacon.

Maybe NOW I can get back to the easel
and let go of these constant waves of fear
and find some of the more playful Muses
and remember how
to paint.

You are not alone…be there for each other.

And…breathe.

Tea and Sympathy  – 2004

“Women are like teabags.

We don’t know our true strength

until we are in hot water.”

Eleanor Roosevelt
(Carved on frame).


A pause in the madness…for the Birthday Girl

Happy Birthday Pat Lackey !!!!!!

There is no other human on the planet that I would rather be in quarantine with.

Your buddy Finn and I will do our best in this season of lock down to celebrate the wonders of you in our lives.  We will lay a golden carpet of forsythia blooms to brighten your step, take you on a treasure hunt to find the purple crocus, and serenade you as you soak up the sunny sky chair breezes.

Love and leaning berner kisses…your devoted pals.


Postcards from the Ledge – 3

From the “Nature finds a way” division of the Ledge…

When, way back in January, or was that February,
we, meaning Kory… with me directing from without,
frantically threw everything in the studio kitchen
out onto the studio porch
after finding yet another round of rodential invasion…

the bench filled up with things that were destined to live in the garage…
but needed to be sorted…
so that never happened.

Herself has been wanting to clear it off so guests could have a place to sit.

But we don’t get many guests,
and now…well…
we have had to implement a staging area
for decontamination of deliveries from the big bad world.

You may be able to imagine my surprise when
upon reaching for the blue bag
our resident wren flew up and at me and, with a powerful
shrillness, bade me to step away from her nest.

Twice in the days since I have impulsively reached for that bag.
And both times I swore at my forgetfulness…
almost as solemnly as she
swore at me.

So yesterday I decided a tactile barricade was needed.

Not for her, but for me.

A quarantine
within
the quarantine.

It takes a village.
Take care of each other out there.

Here’s a very early piece, so early that I was still painting in my old studio…
and it was Gulliver by my side.

A Dissembling Breeze – 2002

My studio is on stilts. Telephone polls really. Sixteen feet in the air.
We live in a flood zone by this gently flowing creek.
During hurricane Agnes in the early 70’s the entire cabin was under water.
The single foot of it’s chimney remaining above water gaining mythological proportions.
So when they rebuilt the washed away garage it had to be above the highest flood level.

The supporting beams and joists underneath my tree top studio are exposed.
For the last two seasons an industrious couple of sparrows
have been constructing a condo under there.
Massive in scale I suspect them to be former hippies ever redesigning the commune.
Celebrating diversity, they have woven in feathers from every visiting species and a
generous helping of wool from Pat’s grandmother’s hooked rug
which rests on the steps beneath.

The other day,
on our fifty foot commute to work,
Gully and I found the nest fallen to the pavement below.
A treasure for me… at some cost to the dear ones.

For months thereafter we heard them busily knocking about below our painting feet.
The subsequent structures lacked some vital element
because they lasted only an average of a few days.

It has been a dry hot summer.
I don’t expect them back until spring now.
In the meantime I am collecting a pile of feathers and pine needles and dog hair
at the base of the studio steps.
We are not expecting rain.

 

 


Postcards from the Ledge -2

The apprentice patiently awaits our next delivery…

I’m a bit behind.
Been putting out insurance fires,
medication issues,
juggling tax documents,
cooking perishables,
and monitoring the stock market.

No, are you kidding
I don’t know squat about the stock market
but apparently I like to watch disasters in the making
or the ticking
I actually gave over dozens of minutes of my precious life
to watching those numbers bounce around in free fall this week.

Mesmerizing, I was interested to learn about the internal brake thing
which automatically stops trading. That stopped my heart when it happened in real time.
And, because we have a tiny little bit of our savings tied up in those numbers some how…

I quickly took the advice of experts…
and snapped right on out of that window.

And went outside.
The distractions and emergency shut downs that have shaken our worlds
have also put me a bit behind in the gardening department.

I keep a running journal to help me remember what to plant and when.
Last year I dug deep, as it were, and invested, with Kory’s help, in building new beds and starting my Ruth Stout Garden, and now I have a journal full of useful information to be going on with.

As we saw in the first ledge post, there was good news to report about the soil under all that hay. Some pics from last season show how I used boxes filled with compost to provide some fertile growing medium while the ground beneath, which had been lawn, was slowly being converted, by the creatures within, to something more conducive to garden ready soil.

Made me happy in this lock downed moment to see all that green again…

At the end of the season we raked all of the remaining organic matter flatish, and made a footpath of wood chips then covered it all with a fresh foot or so of hay.

Where we had compost, roughly chopped up plant material and cardboard…the soil is now beautifully decomposed. There was one area in the back where I only had hay on top of last year’s soil and that is still anaerobic, sticky mud. We’ll see if the potatoes object because I planted some of them in that muck.

Yesterday Herself and Finn and myself enjoyed the ridiculously hot weather…76 degrees…and planted the Greens Bed.

This is what remained from the winter under cover. Beets in the back are probably not going to form but I’ll give them another week. Carrots are in great shape. Spinach which I’ve been enjoying all winter looks better after a heavy cleaning but I’ve got new seeds starting in other beds so this batch, which is very leggy, may be retired.

With 6 typed of lettuce seeds planted and some radishes as well, the whole thing got a blanket thrown over it.

Because…squirrels.

They are just fine as painting models… but seem to be unsatisfied with the sunflower seeds I have been providing them all winter. They found the pea seeds which we had planted on St. Pat’s day and ripped that bed up. So…I threw more seeds in and put up the dreaded tunnel.

Hopefully they will get the message.

In October I noticed they were spending some time in the herb bed. I thought it was to bury nuts but no, they were eating the Chard. Since I had planted that for winter harvest I decided to cover it over. The plants didn’t produce much so I lifted the fleece and let the sun rain down.

The squirrels rejoiced and this is what is left. Eh, it’s time to start new plants anyway.

In that same bed, on the farside, is a magnificent crop of Cress.

It grew uncovered all through our mild winter-that-wasn’t and now it’s feisty and fiery flavor of pepper and spice is a brilliant addition to every dish. Somewhere I read it is one of the most densely vitamin and mineral rich plants. Double the benefits. This is a land cress variety which likes shade. It loves hanging out behind the grape arbor. I’ve got extra seeds if anyone wants to try some.

And so far, the squirrels don’t seem to have cottoned on to this delicacy.

Later on today we will start another flat of the seeds I need to catch up on and some of the hot weather lovers like tomatoes and peppers.

But as for my day job.

Making Art…

I guess it is appropriate to pay homage to some of my more squirrely Muses…

Stay frosty out there everyone…and be kind.

Squirreled Away – 2016

Last year it was the Cardinal,
His Holiness Wolsey
the basher of windows.

This winter,
it was Sir Squirrel,
the chomper of walnuts.

He who kept me company,
through the snowy storms,
perched on the air-conditioning unit,
just outside my easel window,
flaunting his propitious,
hoarding prowess,
and watching.

We watched each other actually.
Watched out for each other may be more accurate.

When we got that Nor’easter,
which dumped 4 feet of fresh snow,
on the already whitened studio yard,
it took me three days to dig out a path
for Finnegan to get to her privy.

I noticed that Sir Sq. had been a no show
and made a wee annex to Finn’s run
from the arbor vitae to his window perch.

The mere work of a teaspoon,
but it sufficed for him to re-surface
and check back in
to make sure I was ok,
and able to lift those tiny brushes
after all that shoveling.

Sitting there,
sporting new pairs
of both snow shoes
and sunglasses,
and chewing
on a particularly prodigious nut,
he must have noticed
I was looking ever so slightly famished, because,
after devouring a full three quarters thereof,
he reached out to offer me a nibble…

See,
that’s what I’m talking about…

it takes a village.

AND…

A Little Night Knitting – 2018

On those long winter nights
alone on an island
pining for her captain

the rhythmic click click clicking
of the long metal needles is heard

as they catch the moon beams
dancing over waves

that somewhere
oceans away

have lapped along the starboard side
of a weathered wooden ship.

As she knits
and purls
and knits
and purls

the tips of those needles
wave a tiny patter of light

a private message
in a language of their own
sweet and sacred semaphore.


Finnegan smiling at 11

This is a very special day for our family.

We have had a Bernese Mt. Dog by our sides for the last three decades.
Gabriel, Gulliver and Finnegan.

Finn is the first one to see her 11th birthday and she still shows up for work with that smile every day.

Our hearts are full to bursting with love for this champion of our souls and we are gonna give her some special treats today.

Happy Birthday Finn !!!


Shrimp Mousse Season

Shrimp Bowl  –  2008

“Always approach the shrimp bowl as you own it.”    Mary McGrory

‘Tis the season…of Shrimp Mousse

In the all kitchens of my adulthood
Along the margins of each recipe
Tucked and retucked
inbetween the pages of all the cookbooks
I have written in  tiny script
some words to mark the making
and the maker each time I make my way
back to that particular recipe.

A trail of micro journaled jigsaw pieces
which periodically get reassembled as I return
to refresh the ingredient lists
for old and new favorites.

Yesterday, after chatting with dear Peg
about birds and pity and beaches and pools,
I pulled out the well worn card
with her original instructions
for her shrimp mousse.

It has been updated and upgraded
and tweaked over the years, but the bones
remain strong and the sentiment
has become crystalized.

The first entry I wrote on the card was…

1 Jan 2000 – The world has celebrated.
We made it ! Now for some special treats to start
off the new millenium.

What follows are regular entries just about that time
almost every year with the exception
of the few years interim when I seem to have lost
that original card. I do remember the desperate searching
but it seems that the Muses returned it a few years ago…

22 December 2016 – Thought I had lost this recipe –
but in the wild autumn of home repairs -when both kitchens
had to be redone – it was found. Now we are in the dark ages –
and need some peace.

And here we are… planning on making a double batch I sat
down with all three of the Shrimp Mousse incarnations
and when Herself wandered into the studio kitchen
I was smiling through tears.

Chronicled on that little slip of paper
was celebrating the “first day of full time Artisanship”
The last walk with our Gulliver
and the first snowy Christmas with Finn
and this year’s entry made all the more special
to be able to write that we are all still together
around that kitchen table
a bit gimpier
and slower afoot
and settled deeply
into our seasons
of happiness.