Our valiant carrot whisperer is 10 years old today !!!
This painting was done when she was 8. So much has changed in the world since then…
But Zoe’s imagination is growing brighter every day.
Sending you love and eagle hugs from the studio kiddo.
The Carrot Whisperer
“…I believe that everyone has imagination, that no matter how mature and adult and sophisticated a person might seem, that person is still essentially an ex-baby. And as children, we all lived in an imaginal world…you know, when you’d be told, “Don’t cross that wall, because there’s monsters over there,” my God, the world you would create on the other side of the wall. And when you’d ask questions like “Why is the sky blue?” or “Where does God live?” or all this kind of stuff…like one of the first times I was coming to America, I said to my little niece, who was seven, I said, “What will I bring you from America?” She said, “Uh…” and her father said, “No, ask him, or you won’t get anything.” And Katy turned to me and said, “What’s in it?” – (laughs) – which I thought was a great question about America.”
An excerpt from the On Being conversation between Krista Tippet and the Irish Poet John O’Donohue
Our little carrot whisperer would have asked that same question at 7. Now she is 8 and when we see her soon I will ask her but mostly I like to listen.
Zoe is one of the most richly vibrant souls it has been my pleasure to share the planet with.
Her curiosity is fueled by a Tigger-like enthusiasm.
Stealthy observation informs her empathy.
And story telling is her super power.
So, last summer, when I asked her seven year old self to pose with the freshly picked carrot and she examined it for a long while deciding it made her think of the snowman Olaf’s nose…
Then she thought the long green fronds looked like hair and she curled them in an arc over her head…
and I waited
And she started a story about how that made her feel like a queen and she was going to take the carrot to visit her castle…
and I waited
until the queen decided she was in a carriage and the carrot would, therein, accompany her and she rested it regally on her shoulder closed her eyes and beckoned the footman to ride on.
An artist can’t choose her Muses.
We can only sharpen our brushes everyday in the hopes that when they are ready to appear we can catch them on … the whisper.
This year’s Granary rollout will be spread out over the next month. There are 8 paintings, now that I’ve finally finished the last one…is there a huge relief emoji out there ?
As I work to photograph and frame them all I’ll be writing the Painter’s Notes sporadically and am planning some sort of virtual presentation to accompany the paintings. So many ways things are changing and we here in the studio are ready to learn and experiment with new ways to share and promote art.
While we work behind the scenes to bring the new artwork to you please be safe, wear your masks, and enjoy the freshening summer breezes when you can.
So as artists who read tea leaves and listen for patterns in the airwaves we are always out there on that ledge awaiting signals from the Muse.
The Art Galleries in this world are finding new ways to represent artists and connect patrons to their work. The Granary Gallery is OPEN for business now. The staff reports that people are excited to visit and respectfully wearing masks. They have a new footpath to safely direct people through the indoor galleries and the wonderful open air courtyard is full of ocean breezes and…ART !!!
Facing the many challenges which the world has thrown at us so far this year have taken me away from the easel for an unimaginable amount of time. I’ve shared some of those challenges here in these Postcards, and others are, like yours, privately kept.
But it is time now to start showing you what paintings I have been able to produce…so far.
I want to start with the one closest to my heart…and soul…
Signaling Home – 24 x 36
I haven’t written the Painter’s Notes yet. All my energies need to be focused on finishing the gigantic panel which is on the easel in time to send it up to the island for what will be a crazy summer of exhibitions without openings.
For now, as I expect most of you will already see, this one says everything about who I am, where I’ve come from and where I hope the road will take me.
There’s more to come so… stay tuned stay safe and stay frosty out there.
Such a heavy time So much grief Layers of pain Generations of choked out voices
In the midst of these disruptions, eruptions, protests and violent shaking off of the centuries of white suppression from the necks of those who have been born into the original sin of slavery in this country…
I have been searching my soul … and listening.
One of the voices which is new to me came by way of an episode of On Being, conversations with Krista Tippett. She spoke with Resmaa Menakem.
I’ve gone back several times to listen again and then again to try and understand more of his work which focuses on how trauma, particularly racism, lands in the body and how we all can be open to recognizing and listening to it as a path to move towards healing racial injustices.
Krista posts both edited and unedited versions of all her podcasts. This is one I highly recommend you listen to the unedited version. You can find it on her web site. ONBeing.org. The On Being project is a powerful resource for reflecting on the challenging work of peace in these troubled times. And there is so much work to do.
I’ve returned to this blog space on a day when an other element of the country’s conscience has shifted. News that the Supreme Court has extended workplace protection to include members of the LGBTQ community.
Coming directly on the heels of the most recent attempt/onslaught by the current administration to stamp out any and all rights which have been painstakingly granted to that same community …well I’m not feeling much like celebrating.
In our lifelong personal battles as lesbians to be understood and accepted as equal humans Pat and I have always qualified our struggles with this thought…WE are fortunate (and here today we could substitute that word with “privileged”)…because we can hide our sexuality if we need to in order to be safe. People of color obviously can’t.
With my heart broken wide open let me add all the soul in my voice to the roar for justice. Let the children of our grandchildren stand on my shoulders and march for equal civil human rights. BLACK LIVES MATTER.
I’m feeling gutted…
The Gutting – 2015
Ah there’s always a dark side.
In The Yachtsman, you have a sunny, blue skied, fair weather kind of a day.
Here, the clouds thicken.
The air was heavy and it was deep into the beyond of the shoulder season, Out in the gun metal grey waters of the harbor, only the heartiest of working vessels were moored.
The wind was kicking up, and we had just come from the Newes, with bellies full of chowder and a pint or two of October ale, and I thought I could hear a steady tapping… just there coming around the corner behind us… like the wooden peg of a leg, tap tap tapping on the weathered cobbled stone.
I reached over, pulled up the collar of Herself’s Pea Coat , and snuggled closer for the warmth, and we made our way down to the dockside. ‘Twas then I heard the screaming. Ghastly wales, a staccato of screeching, and a frenzy of feathers seemed to come at us from all directions. The water churned and the sky was a roiling mass of gulls. Through the miasma of wings I could see a figure. A lone fisherman was tearing out the guts of his supper.
It seemed as if all of the island flock was massing, and thrashing, to win the foul spoils of his long cold day at sea. The gruesome sight was more than I could bear, and my chowder began to repeat.
Just before I managed to steer us away, in the midst of the carnage and chaos, I caught a glimmer of light.
Perched on top of the blood red piling, with a gaping maw of frothing yellow beak, a white throated gull threw back her head and just shudderingly and stunningly… laughed.
The fisherman turned his head… And I will swear that I saw… a silvery, slithery, black eye patch.
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 – 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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…
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…
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.