Postcards from the Ledge – 19

Let’s talk about ART.

Times they are a changing.

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.


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 – 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 – 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.


Postcards from the Ledge – 7

So…yesterday I turned 62.

A wonderful day book-ended with a spell in the sky chair. This sunset deepened and lasted for almost two hours. Ta very much nature goddesses.

And a heartfelt thank you to all who reached out to send birthday greetings. You all know what it means and it seems like one of the ways this crisis is impacting our worlds is that the tenor and quality of distance socializing feels genuinely kinder. So let’s keep paying that forward. Good on Ya humans !

We were told to expect clouds all day yesterday so, when the sunshine hung around and around I gave in and putzed in the garden.One ridiculous caper found us wetting ourselves after trying to move just one bale of straw. Now it was rain soaked so that added extra weight but I’m guessing close to 80 lbs. I can normally lift dry bales with some effort and, as you’ve read here,  I used to be able to point a finger and rely on Kory to tote those bales.

Alas, the virus, so Pat and I tried…and collapsed after that first bale.

Lunch felt like a good idea so we retreated and treated ourselves to a viewing of …Fantastic Fungi. Wow. Our son Jon turned us on to this movie and movement. You can rent or buy it only from their website…click here. I highly recommend for every curious mind…especially for inquisitive youngsters. They are going to get to see and drive monumental changes in our planet in their lifetimes based on this science. Pick the biggest screen you have access to and get the room nice and dark…enjoy.

The rest of the day was peaceful…planting here and there and checking under the fleece…

The salad bed planted two weeks ago is coming along…slooooowly. Carrots and those beets on the left and spinach on the right had overwintered. I yanked most of the beets as the roots were gnarly. Carrots ok. Spinach ok too. Three lines of lettuce seeds had no germination so I replanted. Radishes are firing up. Side dressing of Dr. Earth’s organic fertilizer and a good soaking and back goes the fleece.

A mediocre supper of Ina’s roasted shrimp, (the shrimp had lots of freezer burn and it should have been 400 degrees in that oven) was lifted by a wonderful sauce of mayo, ketchup, mirin, touch of teriyaki, capers and curry. And we binged two more episodes of Ozark. Late comers we are only on season one. Whew the dreams I had after that…suffice it to say it was a relief to open my eyes this morning and see that the orange jump suit had been left in that nightmare.

These posts are getting long and are mostly just my own way of leaving breadcrumbs, but I will share this morning’s escapade as a PSA.

We had to go out into the world to take Finn to the vet.

It’s all good…don’t fret…Saren…she’s fine…

But part of our goal is to stay on top of a couple of issues that trouble the old gal and part of that regimen is regular shots and meds that we had run out of. In this state, Veterinary Hospitals are considered essential but they are asking to hold off on normal checkups and shots with the exception of Rabies vaccinations. Fortunately for Finn she was due for a rabies booster. And fortunately for us, eternal gratitude to Saren for all things dog here, our vet practice is bang on top of this new world order.

Hill Street Veterinary Hospital

…and a great shout out to Finn’s hero…Dr. Sara Alfano.

They have walk-in hours in the mornings, and a carefully orchestrated protocol for curbside care.

After hearing the tenor of the experts changing over the weekend, alerting that the coming couple of weeks would see the worst impact of this virus, we decided that a quick controlled visit now would be best for Finn.

The only exception to our own protocol was that Pat got to ride along. The poor dear hasn’t been in her car, Martha, for almost a month and that deprivation has been real for her.

Finn requires the aid of a very heavy ramp to help her into the back of the Volvo but we work well as a team and not being able to do HER absolute favorite thing…riding shotgun for her buddy in the car…is an even greater deprivation around here. So…the whole damn family loaded up.

Gloved and masked we drove up and parked. Called the office. They got things ready. Tech came out with mask and  I got Finn out. They whisked her up the ramp and into the clinic. Dr. Sara called on my phone and we chatted about Finn’s treatment and meds and got to check in on her, Sara. As one of our special people…we worry. All good she says. The tech brought our girl back out with a bag of meds. We paid via phone. And Bob’s your uncle that was that.

We took the long way home so we could see the flowers and our favorite trees and, since I got out of the car and was in contact with the bag and the harness Finn wears which they had touched, I performed the decon drill and gave Finn an extra treat and here we are.

A great big high five paw of a thank you to the staff and Docs who made that experience go so smoothly. It honestly felt very weird to leave the house, to see other humans, so little traffic, a small group of teenagers in the high school parking lot standing six feet apart and chatting. And I was hyper aware of the invisible villain lurking just beyond the closed windows of the car.

It feels good to have that addressed and done with and now, after a quick walk around the sunny garden, I can settle back in at the easel.

I think these three are a perfect fit for today…all were Saren’s dogs and all were Finn’s pals…but her Bestie was and always be… Tallie…

Nina – 2010

Margie -2010

Tallie – 2010


Postcards from the Ledge – 6

The last few days have been grim.
The siren calls from hospital workers,
the mounting numbers of casualties,
the criminally incompetent leadership from the oval office,
the crippling anxiety that washes over us…
wave after unrelenting wave.

The last few days have been sparkling.
The return of the indigo bunting outside my window,
flats of winter seedlings getting their first feel of wind,
Finnegan laying peacefully in the sunshine,
lazy conversations over the morning kitchen table with my love,
and the glorious unrelenting waves…
of that brilliant new green.

While I admit to finding myself frozen in my easel chair,
not able to summon the creative energy to pick up even the tiniest of brushes,
I am showing up every day.
I know the Muses are here and I’m listening,
but it sounds like static now…loudly buzzing and confusing.

And what I know about that
is to get up outta that chair and go outside.

The glorious gift of having Herself by our sides
during these stay at home days
means Finn and I are at our happiest in our happy place…
wallowing in the brightening colors of the studio garden…

My organizer using her superpower…

Anyone who needs or wants some of this plastic just holler…

While she sorted…I planted…

Two rows of peas planted in Ruth…which is a bit spicy to read back…

And…at the end of that glorious day…a bit of well earned sky chair rest…

So today’s painting will be a very early work which honors another of my love’s superpowers…

The Folder – 2000

This is quite simply inspired by my friend Rex. He is a poet. Our histories have walked side by side for over forty years. Our paths have criss-crossed over most of them. Our souls have always been as one.

And it is for Pat, my folder.

The Folder

Folded things speak well of you
when you’re out of the room.
They hold the near future captive,
like children about to go on recess
or sexual pleasure at the brim of control.
I think of the pressure of your hand
smoothing over the cloth napkin,
the bedsheet, the piece of clothing
that signals the meal to come,
the lovemaking, the spent day —
and how you stack the bath towels
as high as they’ll go, as a driver
well keep the fuel tank near full
during times of shortage. I step out
of the shower looking to the center
of my life, where you have folded it.
Creases will have nothing to do
with edges: It’s no accident
that ledges are ledges and valleys,
so far removed from any real
horizon, where people most often
choose to put down roots and grow.
I like to imagine that God, who,
faced with formlessness, folded
the world into manageable corners,
sent me you to repeat the gesture.
Rex Wilder


Postcards from the Ledge – 5

Oh little Brandywine…you can do it !!!

Bend towards the light
even in this week of storms
be the hope
for us all.

Gotta start with the veg.
A few of the flats are ready for planting out there in the big bad world…but we’ve had days of stormy rainy chilly weather and the little dears just shivered and quaked when I suggested we take a walk outside.

This flat of tomato seedlings is making a gallant effort to feed us, and every glimmer of hope gets a round of applause here in the studio.

Our angels have been checking in…thank you all.

All the many birthday wishes and calls for Herself were overwhelming and she is still smiling from the love.

Our social media platforms come alive with stories of helpers and random acts of kindness which makes such a difference.

Neighbor Sue is preparing a grocery grab and has generously offered to take one for the team of elders and pick up whatever we are running low on.
So, in my standard operating mode of neurotic overlord, I have prepared a list…and a C19 shopping kit…

Masks, gloves, and list organized by aisles and accompanied by photos of specific products.

I know this will make her laugh. She puts up with my crazy in such a kind way.

Bagged and ready for her on the porch it will not see the light of day because our store opens for “Vulnerable Patrons” at 6am.

Bless you Sue. I’ll have that extra gasoline for your mower when next you are ready.

On another note of community connections…
We have heard from a Vineyard friend who winters in NYC.
Worried about all our pals there it was good to hear from her, someone behind the barricades as it were, and to share some quarantine stories. It gets very real at the epicenter on every level. Keeping the lines of communication open just to listen feels important now.

Here in the studio the days have adapted to the waves of crisis and have evolved into a new normal.

Having stayed up later than usual… this week we are immersed in 16th century England as we watch Wolf Hall in companion to my re-listening to Hilary Mantel’s series as I paint. Tidings to her for completing this trilogy in time for the quarantine so I can listen to over a hundred hours of Tudors comings and goings. Ironically ? the first book chronicles waves of a seasonal corona virus like disease that topples much of the continent year after year. Helps me to understand our current medical experts’ predictions…

anyway…up late means rising later than usual.

So, Finn and I have been missing the sunrises and wandering over to the studio well into the morn.

Then we do our news/network and email diving, or I do while she secures the perimeter. Then she settles in to guard the gates and I begin to put out fires which have smoldered whilst we dreamt. Cromwell you influencer you…

This morning’s pile of woe was not virus related but it began last night when I went to print out some reference photos only to find that the new ink cartridge would not fit. After an hour of scratching my head and searching through old orders and googling info it has come to pass that I…with the help of Amazon’s misleading product searching…ordered the wrong replacements. To the tune of hundreds and hundreds of dollars. Ordered in January they are no longer returnable.

Double UGH.

I have since remedied this by ordering an entire new set of inks from a more reputable source, B & H Photo. But being in NYC and in the middle of this crisis, I expect there to be delays in shipping…if they ship at all. This can be worked around and is of course not life threatening but I bring it up here in the hopes that I can find another artist or photographer or company who might have this printer in need of ink for which my cartridges do fit…

The Epson SC-P800

I edited this to include a photo of the correct model.
And I happen to have loads of ink just waiting to fill one out there…

The ink was purchased in January and I’d be happy to sell for a nice discount and ship for free.

It’s a shame to let this go to waste.

Anyway…

the mornings do seem to be given over to managing life in the new world order and soon I hope to be spending those hours in the garden.

With this new normal comes a new goal…
to be painting at the easel by noon.
It is now 11:55 and the board of health has insisted that I take a shower before handling tiny brushes so this is how that deadline slips oh so easily into early afternoon…
and then there are those PT stretches to do…
and the stack of bills
which have been released from their final stage of porch decon to be paid…
and a quick game or three of Mahjong just to let the dust settle…
before looking up at the panel before me
and choosing where to begin.

11:59

Stay frosty out there fellow travelers.

And remember…Tits UP !!!


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).