Friday, December 30, 2011


I am going to take a blogging break for a couple more days. Head cold. Head cold and thinking, not so much.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Tidy Cat

I digress today. Lu woke me up at 3:30 this morning trilling a happy long loud trill. To my ears, the proud trilling sounded like trouble. I got up, followed Lu to the kitchen and this is what had her so darn pleased with herself: 

Yes I lock the trash cabinet, Lu works the lock off the knobs. And yes Lu can get things out without tipping the trash can over. Lu loves shredding, especially shredding onto the dog's blanket. Freaks Rosie out. Rose would not come into the kitchen until I cleaned it up. You can not tell me that Lu doesn't think this is all funny.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Colors of Familiar

"House and Barns", detail, Andy Newman, oil,  5"x 9"
It is commonly thought that we Americans always want the next new, new thing. From the flood I am learning a different lesson. While I might want the one new thing, many, many new things at once downright perplex me.

The celebration of backbone is central to my long standing connection to Andy Newman’s work. Andy isn’t interested in the new thing. Andy is interested in the long term relationship, specifically the long term relationship between a building and the landscape. Andy paints and reveres change and stability of some of our best old barns. The barns, like this historic Village, withstand.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Pratical Magic

This morning the lake was inky black and the sky fully grey, as if the world was monochromatic. Today at work I am fussing with the gallery’s technology. In theory, it all seemed like a good idea to go for the newest technology than to recreate my old systems. All my equipment needed to be replaced, computer, printer, credit card processor, stereo (yes I still had a music system) and phone. Router. Now everything is new and differently wired but my brain is not. Case in point, I have this little flat 1” square thing that I plug into an ipad to swipe credit cards. Receipts are emailed to customers. Hmmm. I  just took a picture of the 'Square' from my iPad, emailed it to me and loaded it onto this blog.

First a flood, now magic tricks.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Celebrating {Tim Merrick}

When I first trained as a printmaker, demonstrating absolute control over the the process was a primary goal. Like a lot of us in the last 25 years, printmaking has changed its mind. Nowadays you are both free and responsible to make up your own rules and goals in your printmaking work.

It’s sounds easier than following a strict rule set, doesn’t it? Set your own goals, decide on your yardstick, create away. And truly the first blush of freedom and creative juice is a gas, and then you realize you are on your own. You. The very person you know who maybe procrastinates, is forgetful, lazy, distracted, confused, undisciplined. And you think, wow, how is this jerk going to get this done?

That’s what I love about Tim Merrick’s work. Tim is technically a great printmaker and while his work is traditional his plate material is not. He uses pieces of his grandfather’s salvaged copper roof to etch or scratch images on. When Tim is drawing on a copper plate he doesn’t know how the image he draws and the dings and dangs of the old roofing material are going to work together once he inks the plate. He lets it happen, he trusts it will work out, that he will be able to work with what is inherent in the material and himself and make good. He trusts that the plate marks from the salvaged copper and his drawings will dance well together, celebrating both the material and the artist’s flaws.

Monday, December 19, 2011

All in good cheer {IPad}

I’ll post real photos of Tim Merrick’s work and write the real blogpost about the work tomorrow. For today I want to talk about the ipad you see in the photo reflection. My old work computer flooded. I replaced it with an ipad to use as both almost a computer and the credit card machine. Everyone loves the ipad. I like it, sortof, sometimes. But intuitive? huh? I shut it off instead of taking a photo, the screen spins and then we can’t stop. I turn it, it turns itself in response to my turning it and on we go. Half the time I can’t get out of where ever I got to and when I shut the machine down to get back to square one it brings me right back to the lost place I was. Why does it seem to use up battery when I think it is off?

And then cloud and dropbox. One day I read about dropbox, downloaded it and uploaded my photos to it. Dropbox said the upload would take  five days. If I knew where dropbox was I would have snail mailed the files faster.

Really what I think it boils down to is this, I have been in Vermont too long to re-up with the rest of the world now. But I do I need to get better at this ‘device’ and synching to the cloud and everything else before I go back to work, I know what I look like being so easily bested by these things.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

HokeyPokeyists {Pam Murphy}

"Heirloom", Murphy, oil, 32"x27"
This morning Jen and I got onto this old joke, what if the hokey pokey really is what’s it’s all about. We had been talking about how dogs think in pictures and we were talking about it as if we really know dogs think in pictures. Point of fact. And it struck me how often in our individual and collective minds we think we now know the truth. Now we know what the world is made of and all those other people who came before us well they tried and maybe even added in some critical information but now we Know. The hysterical thing is that daily we find out one hard fact or another isn’t quite right, often dead wrong.

Yet being mistaken almost all the time makes not so much impression on our fundamental belief that we know who we are, where we are, why we are here and what to do about it. Study history and it seems as if most all people who came before us knew everything too.

Children often question everything. In Pam Murphy paintings children figure prominently. The children are seriously going about the business of childhood. There is something about the paintings that open a narrative door for the viewer. The stories I hear are frequently compelling. In the paintings we gaze at the child facing their uncertain future with determination, bravery, welcome or worry. We see ourselves and our loved ones.

What I like best about Pam’s paintings is they help us see ourselves as we really are, doing our best. Maybe in the future we will find that we were mistaken, but for now, carry on, do the hokey-pokey.

"Girl V", Murphy, oil, 24"x23"

Friday, December 16, 2011

Persevere {Rich Gombar}

"Winter Dressing", Gombar, oil, 14"x20"

Persevere is not my favorite word. I think of work with little indication of success. These are new Rich Gombar paintings. Rich paints atmosphere and light with maybe some building thrown in. Rich has been painting in this vein since college, quite a few moons ago. Sometimes I get a painting from Rich and the back has two or three dates on it, often spanning decades. A simple landscape with a barn and it took him twenty years to get it right.

Of my painters, Rich’s simple landscapes are the ones that prompt people to ask me how long did it take him to do that? The thought being that the simplicity of forms in the painting equals its ease of execution. What is harder to detect is the subtle working of the paint, how just the right light quality is rendered without much ado.

Painting like this is like watching a plant grow, without access to trick photography nothing much seems to be happening. Growth in many aspects of our lives is like that, persevere, endure, persevere. Gombar’s paintings mark the great beauty we sometimes glimpse for our efforts.

"Light in August", Gombar, oil,  24"x36"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Mapping {Eric Angeloch}

"No. 4",  Angeloch, oil, 30"x30"
I know you know what happened today. That’s right, I could not find where I pulled that mysterious shovel head out of the ground yesterday. It’s going on ten years that I have walked those 10 or 12 acres of woods, the shovel head was right in one of my usual paths. As surprised as I was yesterday to trip over something I walked by hundreds of times I am not so surprised that I couldn’t find the evidence today.

Mysteries are like that. Most of our lives are mysteries much as we try to fake ourselves into believing we are in charge and control. A flash flood destroying a Village has a certain way of ripping that consciousness to shreds. Art, the making and the viewing of it, has the same power though usually more gently wielded.

"No.10", Angeloch, oil, 30"x30"

These are new Eric Angeloch paintings. Eric paints his feelings. He uses his memories and impressions of cloud formations and storms to express his feeling state on canvas. I have shown Eric’s work for 10 years now. Over the years one person after another has looked at an Eric painting and named a specific place that is the painting. Yet Eric makes up his landscapes, it is not a specific place and Eric’s landscapes often defy our physical landscape by their characteristics.

Still I would say that Eric paints the truth. Things often seem to be pretty much as we feel them to be, whether great or good enough or lousy. Change how we feel and we have essentially changed how we are. Sounds simple enough. And it is and isn’t. Like a good painting somewhere embedded in the process of change and creativity is mystery. A painter like Eric works and stands there and looks and works and thinks and stands there some more, open and ready for something unexpected and enlivening to happen on the canvas. It’s a sweaty process and it doesn’t always work. I think of Eric’s paintings as compelling records of self change, maps that he offers us, “Here, here is how I made it through that dark passage, so may you.”
"No. 4", Angeloch, oil, 30"x30"

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Rosie and I walked up to check on the tile this morning. The tile is a cement holding tank set into the ground, at the bottom of the tank is a pipe that feeds water to my house. It’s a gravity fed spring water system. We were making our way down and around through the woods when I tripped over the top of a pipe sticking up out of the ground.

I knew there were old wells in that section of woods, I could not resist pulling on the pipe.  Could I be opening a covered up well? Would I lift up the pipe and be standing next to a deep Alice in Wonderland type hole? Would the pipe even budge?

It budged, it was a shovel. I didn’t expect that. It was a shovel without a handle in the middle of the woods. The shovel was in the ground the way you would stick a shovel in the ground during a job or at the end of the digging or filling in part of the job. I have left my garden shovels tucked into the ground like that many times. To the best of my knowledge I retrieve my shovels long before the handle has completely disappeared and the woods have reclaimed where I was working.

We can carbon date but we can’t make objects talk and spill their beans. We try. We try to understand everything.

Monday, December 12, 2011


Last Friday's Post:

Love was the word today. And there was a lot to love about the day, the final touches of spruce up the town for the holidays got finished, I had really good pizza for dinner and it was not windy. Still I was a bit perplexed about the word of the day till I remembered my mother. Tomorrow is the second anniversary of her death.

My mother was a very charming woman, not so much to her children. I believe she thought if she showed us affection we might be too content to potty train. Seven children. But in her dying days which were about ten, she smiled and said I love you upmteen times a day. On the days she had strength she interspersed her love words with her regular ‘straighten ups’ to her offspring.

Here’s one scene: my sister leans over the hospital bed rail and says “Hi Mom I love you” to the  fading one who responds, “Wow, you have a big bum.” My sister, 40 something years old, thinks my mother could not have said that, and in an effort not to have those be the last words she hears her mother speak to her, says, “What Mum?” Giving my mother the chance to smile and say again “You have a really big bum”. Four or five siblings, a niece maybe, a cousin or two are in the room and we are not deaf nor dumbfounded. With the relief akin to sniper fire survivors, we giggled and snickered.

At the very end it was just my mother and myself. It was wonderfully conscious and peaceful, three times my mother smiled smiles I did not know were humanly possible, they were the definition of beatific. I don’t have any idea what follows this life if anything at all, but my often sharp mother’s death, it was holy.

So then what about those poems, love is always gentle and never unkind, blah, blah, blah. Is it possible that love is also like my mother and our gentle river that raised up and wailed us. A confluence of events occurred in the river’s core and we were in the way, hard as it to fathom, it wasn’t personal.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A tricky cheesy word

The Original Mary Mary
Alright as it is Sunday I should admit I got another cheesy word, last Friday. A quite tricky cheesy word, it is love. It took all day on Friday for me to make a connection to the word, not that there were not plenty of things I loved about the day but I thought the word was love in a capital kind of way.

Late in the day I made the link to the word and the second anniversary of my mother’s death. My mother was a tricky charming woman, and writing about her is even trickier especially because like love in a capital kind of way, it seems just when you think you have it all figured out the target moves.

I am going to give this topic a whirl for the next few days if you will keep in mind that I am aiming with clunky words at a shape shifting target.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Music to my Ears

Sitting for treats
In the morning or the very late night as it is, the cats run around making noise about 15 minutes before I get out of bed. Lu the calico, has many ways of making noise besides galloping. As this is an old house all doors close themselves. Lu removes the door stop in my bedroom and lets the door slam. Then Lu goes around and pushes the same door open from the other side so that, yup, it slams again. Lu also opens drawers,cabinets and cupboards and empties them. She especially likes the under the kitchen sink trash cabinet.

This morning the cats were completely quiet, completely. It got so that I was concerned. And then a clear ping rang out, like a metal gong had been rung. In case I thought I imagined that, and again, pinnggg. I got up. Lu was sitting on the kitchen table (I know) looking as pleased as could be. It was then that I saw my felt necklace in the dog’s metal water bowl. Apparently my felt necklace, her deft paw and the dog’s water bowl, perfect gong.

I know she thought that was just brilliant and hilarious, I do too.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Deadened Sunflowers at Sunset

Yesterday I spoke with a long distance friend of mine who I had not spoken with since June. She had no idea Wilmington flooded. Linda has been here a few times so she needed to go through it building by building. Today I go to my quarterly eye doctor appointment. He is twenty miles away and I haven’t seen him since the flood. I expect he might ask me about .

Sitting here, I can imagine some time in the future where I will be able to talk about the flood and it will not bring up feelings of shock, confusion or helplessness.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

God weighed in

Here's what it looked like where Stinky and I washed off in the still dark December lake
God weighed in this morning and he took Jennifer’s side. We have been meeting at 6:15 when it is still really night. Jen worries that the dogs are going to run into something in the dark, like a porcupine or a skunk or a bear. I have pretty much ignored Jen’s worries and forged ahead, getting to the lake even earlier than 6:15 so that I am waiting for ‘Jen who hates to be late’ when she arrives.

This morning Jen arrived and said the first two sentences I could have predicted, oh it’s dark and maybe we should meet a little later. The dogs ran ahead. Rosie has one bad habit. Of course I could not see her carry out her stinky 'rolling in it' desires because it was so dark. About halfway to the halfway mark Rose came up behind me and rubbed her muzzle on me. I pet her. Only then did the enormity of the smell reach my nose. I can’t remember now if that was before or after I agreed to later tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Swimming In December

It's not snow but it is my white flood rock
Wow was it ever rainy and dark this morning. By the end of the walk I felt just like I had been swimming. I love that feeling of being all wet and getting out of the water. And yes, I could have used a towel and my pants were all stuck to my legs but still I was grateful and exhilarated.

It is not often that we have a warm rain in December. It is not even remotely conducive to skiing, which is what we economically need to be doing these days. It is sort of overwhelming here how much we want the weather to cooperate with our business plans and how much this year the weather has said no. And how strongly.

I find myself giving in. I don’t have more stress to give to worrying about when the gallery will be ready or when the mountain will open. I’ve used up all my stress this year. And what I am learning from depleting my stress bank: next year, I’d like to remember to forget to re-up.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wasting time and money

This morning the word was waste. Yuck. I dislike wasting time, money, food, gas, you name it, I don’t like to waste it. Some days driving to the morning walk I think I am wasting gas. Then I get there:


This is where I turn around:

This is almost back to the beginning of the trail head:
Most everyday it is just that beautiful. I have a deep and profound gratitude to be able to make that daily trek. Yet without doubt I question my energy commitment to the time and gas it takes to walk the walk. So too, all my adult life, I have questioned my time and energy commitment to art, to community work and to beauty. As you can imagine, Irene has put me right up against the wall  questioning those commitments and choices. And three months out, as difficult as this time is, my answer remains the same, what else is there?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

When this happens

Today’s word upon waking was grace. As it is Sunday I thought that was pretty cheesy. Long as I have been doing this word of the day thing I remain skeptical. So today after my snarly thought came the phrase ‘moving through hard things today, be graceful’. Well you can guess how that went, by noon today no less than 5 people had expressed some form of upset feelings to me.

This afternoon I thought of upset feelings like a weird form of bumper pool. My upset feeling ball careens into your feeling ball upsetting you and sending your feeling ball into someone else’s space. On it can go, often enough, it seems, picking up steam.

Gosh it is hard not to get upset back! And I didn’t, but all day long little snippets and snags kept popping up in my mind and I’d go back to that cheesy Sunday word, grace, be graceful. Finally I looked the word up because when I call on something so many times in one day I start to question it’s meaning: graceful - characterized by beauty of movement, style, form, or execution

Back to my bumper pool game, I see now my work is not so much to make sure that I will not get moved or bumped but my work, my gracefulness, is what I do with the hit.

Again the flood, such a teacher.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It's Both

You might have the wrong impression. All those beautiful dawn photos of the lake and the glory hole might lead you to believe that the morning dog walk is perfectly bucolic and peaceful. And truly some of it is. But we walk with four dogs, my one beautiful Rosie girl and Jen’s three boys including Smelliot, oops typo, I mean Elliott.

We have just finished rifle season here in Vermont and the woods around the trail unfortunately have some deer remains where hunters gutted deer. Elliott quite likes the body parts. So these days the walk goes a little like this, good morning, oh it’s cold, oh it’s warm, oh it’s pretty, girl talk, girl talk, blah blah Elliott! ELLIOTT! sorry what were you saying? girl talk, (stunning beauty, jaw dropping beauty) ELLIOTT! girl talk ELLIOTT! ELLIOTT! ELLIOTT! No NO leave it, get up, LEAVE IT, LEAVE IT, LET”S GO, LEAVE IT. (Often some running towards the dog rolling on the whatever on the ground takes place here.)

To push matters over the edge, at the very end of the walk near the parking lot on more than one occasion of late there has been human stuff, you know of the ‘blank happens’ kind. Yes, Elliott again, he likes it.

On the way home today I thought about how I am, how easy it is for me to be immersed and committed to the whatever that is really good or conversely the whatever that is really bad but it is not so easy for me to hold them both loosely in my mind at once. The walk is good practice, the flood is even better.

Friday, December 2, 2011


The other night the river got going again. It picks up boulders and smashes them into one another. It is a particular clunking thud sound that I could not comprehend when I was evacuating here but it is a sound to which I am now keyed.

It was 1:30 am and it woke me up. After a bit I turned the light on and I thought about a river art event on the anniversary of the flood, a piece that would last for the duration of the flood, maybe 4 or 5 hours. It seems important to me that the anniversary event incorporate the sound of the flood, the sound of the thudding, somehow recalling and transforming the sound of the raging, racing wall of water.

Art can be a decoration, an add on after basic material necessities are secured. And that banal realm has a definite significant subtle value in our lives but art can also be the source which puts our spirits, our emotions, our souls aright again, if we will allow ourselves the experience.