Still There….

Don’t judge your creative efforts: focus on process, not product.  Julia Cameron

Nov 11, ‘14

There was sun and warmth  today, but not much.  The day started gray and chilly, became sunny and seasonably warm by 10:30 – 2:30 and then began to sink into gray, cloudy and chilly and by now, is sunk into dark.  According to the weather forecast, we’ll have one more day of relative warmth and then Thursday a big change into COLD.

I was up early and after 2 cups of coffee and too much time on Facebook, I started work around 9 a.m.    When the sun broke through and the day warmed-up, I experienced a few moments of bliss and felt very happy.  I quit work around 11:30, cleaned up, dressed up a bit and drove a few blocks across town to have lunch with a dear friend.  I was home by 2 and painted for awhile more until the day grew too dark and cold to do any more.

I’ve had a peaceful, pleasant day for which I’m most grateful.

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Still There Before

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Still There After

The title of this painting is Still There.  It was done on Sept 16, ’01 and is part of a series of paintings and drawings I did while going through shock and fear in the aftermath of the World Trade Tower destruction on 91101.  For a few days after the bombings I spent hours in front of the tv watching the destruction over and over and over.  The weather in that time was great!  I also had a cold.  It took a great deal of effort and determination to get off my couch and out the door.

I chose this spot because of the flags and because of the jet trails criss-crossing the sky.  For many days there had been no planes in the sky and no familiar jet trails.  That, in itself was an unusual event.  The spot was also sunny; I recall the warmth and the sound of crickets chirping in the field behind me where I’d parked my car.  There were many people there, that day.  They were also drawn to the flags.  There was much conversation with strangers about the beautiful day and the awfulness of 091101.  The entire time I spent at the cemetery had the atmosphere of a gathering after a funeral.  Letting it go, celebrating our loss and our lives, moving on….

Here are the notes I wrote in the margins of this painting:  “At the Bantam Cemetery – A beautiful day and many people stopping by to reflect-meditate- at this display of flags.  The flags are at half-mast – a day of mourning – grief – and people being together on this beautiful day of Sorrow for ourselves and for those lost to senseless destruction and violence in the World Trade Tower Terrorist Attack of Sept 11.”

This painting was once in a show.  I remember being somewhat dismayed that it appeared quite gray and colorless in a matte and frame and in the light of the gallery where I showed it which is why it ended up in the re-do pile when the show was over.

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Peaches and Hiroshige BEFORE

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Peaches and Hiroshige AFTER

Peaches and Hiroshige:  This is another painting slated for the Peaches and Postcards show which was never finished.  I spilled white paint on it and felt very disgusted with myself for being so careless.  There are 2 streaks of white paint under the block with the B.    It’s acrylic ceiling paint and quite stuck to the paper.  I was also unhappy with the background, felt it was gray to the  point of appearing to be dirty.  The gray background and the shadows in the areas representing white cloth are what I worked on today as well as the brownish-reddish cloth in the foreground.  This is a large painting, done on a half-sheet of watercolor paper.

The peaches and grapes in the bowl are artificial.  The bowl, which I still have, was made by one of my sisters, a very accomplished artist and potter.  The checked cloth is my dear old vintage feedsack, then there’s the old familiar Dala horse and the pink flowers on the old napkin.  The 2 cherries are artificial and much beloved by Albert who steals them for play any time he finds one, even if it’s part of a setup.  The Artist featured on this postcard is Hiroshige, an artist whose work I’ve deeply admired since I was a young child devouring Art books in the town library.

Utagawa Hiroshige  also  Andō Hiroshige (Japanese)  1797 – 12 October 1858) was a Japanese ukiyo-e artist, considered the last great master of that tradition.

I selected the card I used behind the Hiroshige card because of the brownish-gold color in the upper right hand corner.

I don’t remember where I got the toy block,  or the other 2 I sometimes use in paintings.  I have a block with a B, G and Y.  If there’s any meaning in the B on the block in the painting it’s  BE!  Y asks a question.  G is me.

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Redux, Vermont….

Nov 9, ‘14

Creative recovery is not an intellectual process. Our adult self merely “understands” the wound. Our creative child must actually heal it.  Julia Cameron

A pleasant November day for me in NW CT.   Pleasant but changeable….  There have been spells of sun and then spells of cloudiness, followed by spells of sun, etc etc etc.    Today, the ratio of leaves on the ground and leaves on the trees is 50/50.  The vista from my front window is changing from a wall of leaves to an airier wall of trees and their limbs and branches.  I can now see a bit of the house a mere 3 houses away from mine; when all the leaves have fallen, I’ll be able to see the entire front of the house that has been obscured by leaves these past 5 or 6 months.

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I spent an hour or so going through more Stuff, mostly photos, journals, cards and letters I’ve saved for many years.  I discovered the painting that I worked on this morning, a plein air sketch I did in ’00 – from my Vermont era.

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BEFORE

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AFTER

A little back story….  I moved to a town in Vermont in ’92 to live with and work for an Artist and former teacher who’d seen better days and was now  living in a former farm house up a dirt road on a mountain in upper north central Vermont, 8 miles from the Canadian border.  He was making a living doing graphic art work for a variety of clients.  He’d received a job offer to teach Art at a somewhat nearby college and hired me to do his graphic work and leave him free to commute and teach.    Soon after I moved in, I discovered that my childhood family doctor lived in the same town, down the mountain from me and halfway up another mountain.  I was thrilled by this discovery because I’d always had a good relationship with this doctor, his wife and 2 of their daughters, who were classmates throughout Grammar and Jr High school.   I knew them well from when they’d lived in my hometown.  After they moved to Vermont they came to visit in my hometown quite often, so I’d occasionally seen them in the years since they left town.   Until I moved to Vermont,  I never actually knew exactly what town they were living in.  I reconnected with Doctor and his wife and they were a big part of my Vermont experience.

I moved back to Connecticut in September ’94 when my father died.  For awhile I lived with my mother and then spent the winter house-sitting  for a friend.   I moved to a small apartment in Litchfield in May ’95.   In early June, the news came to me that the doctor’s wife had suddenly died, which was a shock to me, and seriously saddening to all those who’d known and loved her.

I went to her Memorial Service that September.  Up until 2001, I went to Vermont 2 or 3 times a year to visit friends I’d made while living there.  I was on civil terms with the Artist I’d worked for, even though our brief association hadn’t worked out well.  I never stayed with him in his house on the mountain.  I went to visit the Doctor for drinks and sunset on his patio (out of view) at least once a year. I told myself often that  ‘someday’ I’d like to do a painting of his house in its awesome natural setting and that ‘someday’ presented itself in late August of ’00.   I found a place to sit and paint for a few hours where I could see the Doctor’s house in its natural setting.  Up the hill to my right – and not visible in  this scene – was a clearing in the woods at the edge of an open field where people had gathered to celebrate Mrs. Doctor and where her ashes were interred under a modest memorial stone.

A lot of things were and are going on, in this painting….

As I recall from the time I spent sitting in a sunny spot and working on this painting was that there were large, puffy clouds in the sky that were being blown across my view by a gentle yet persistent wind, creating big spots of moving shadows across the entire landscape.   There appeared to be a storm brewing in the northeast and yet the sky overhead and to the northwest stayed clear and blue except when masses of clouds were crossing through.  I felt grateful to be there and it was beautiful to see but very frustrating to try to put down on paper with paint in a scene with such active wind and clouds in constant movement.

I was frustrated by the watercolor paper this morning and recall it being a problem for me that day, as well.  It was inexpensive paper that I thought would be perfect for loose watercolor sketches but turned out to be so saturated with filler and glue that painting on it was almost impossible without a huge amount of water to overcome the glue and filler and render the paper less ‘grabby’ and then the paper so wet it takes forever to dry.    I decided that  day not to use that particular paper anymore and after re-working this painting this morning, feel that earlier decision was a good one.

What I did this morning was to cool down my warm Ultramarine Blue shadows with Prussian Blue, deepen the all over tone with a cool, Prussian Blue-gray and heightened sun-struck areas with pure color.  I pushed the distant mountain further back and brought the trees in the foreground farther forward.

Well, that was my goal, anyway….

Pardon me for not creating fake names for Doctor and Wife or for using their true given names….

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Window Tree — and more….

Nov 8, ‘14

As we act in the direction of our dreams, we are given strength and courage.  Julia Cameron

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Window Tree 8:30 a.m

Nov 8, ‘14

What a beautiful November morning we’re having today in SE NW CT!    It’s sunny, not windy and definitely chilly.  The predicted high for today is 43.  Right now, it’s 36 degrees.  There was a light frost in the morning hours but it wasn’t a killing frost, at least not where I am.  The Japanese Maple in front of my house still has more than half its leaves.  The leaves that have fallen surround the perimeter of the tree and look like a red scarf that has been casually draped for full effect.    Walking through the strewn red leaves on the walkway to my house is akin to walking through rose petals, as if the tree is shedding its leaves to honor and entice whoever walks through them.

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I was up and at work on the Watercolors-that-need- work quite early this morning – to take full advantage of the sun and warmth streaming through the big windows.

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Tree beginning to turn, Oct ’10, Culvert St BEFORE

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AFTER

This is a painting done looking out the window from my studio room from when I lived on Culvert St.    It was done in early Oct. ’10.  That apartment was on the 2nd floor and I enjoyed the perspective, as if I were in a tree house.  I had plenty of interesting views from my windows on 4 sides of the house.  What struck me that morning – besides the brilliant orange of the leaves and blue of the sky– were the upright shadows and the brightness of the areas receiving sun.

I cleaned up this painting a bit by washing out and lifting off with a tissue areas I thought had too much paint, most notably, the sky area.  Then I heightened lights and darkened darks.  To me, it now has a little more balance and color harmony.

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Peaches and van Gogh (Iris), ’09 BEFORE

This is a painting from my Peaches and Postcards series.    The postcard in this painting is a reproduction of Vincent van Gogh’s Iris, which I’ve always loved.  This painting was at a point of being finished but didn’t make the show because I wasn’t at all happy with the area around the white Dala horse or with my depiction of the horse.

For drapery I used my 50’s table cloth with the grapes and apples.  The cloth under the peach is a favorite and shows up a lot in other paintings.  A good friend gave me that cloth; she said she thought I’d love it and she was right.  It’s a bit larger than a table napkin and has pink flowers embroidered on it by some long ago and unknown woman in my friend’s family, generations removed.  The bowl containing peaches and grapes is the top of the jar I bought to replace my Chinese Bowl.  The peaches and grapes are all replicas aka ‘fakes’.  The small and white Dala horse is one that I carved from a kit I bought on Ebay from Dala horse carvers in Sweden.  I have a love for and fascination with Dala horses and thought it would be fun to carve my own.  There were 3 of various sizes in the kit and the white one was the largest.  I thought to paint and decorate them after they were carved but so far, they’re all primed and the middle size horse painted blue and none decorated.  I had a good time carving them, which also helped me learn how they’re made by Dala Horse carvers.

I’m somewhat happier with the horse after making a few repairs, but not completely, so the painting remains unfinished until I come up with a fix.  I deepened some of the darks and gave the light areas of the peaches a bit more color.  One of the problems I’m facing with the horse and the area around it is that in order to begin to make repairs back in ’09, I used acrylic white ceiling paint to cover some of my original mistake, which is difficult to go over using watercolor.

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Bill R’s House, ’02 BEFORE

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AFTER

This is a corner of an ell that was built onto a very large house that was built in the early 1800’s by a wealthy New Englander.   The person who owned it back in ’02 asked me to do a house portrait of this house; I started making somewhat finished sketches by starting with this ell because it was the most familiar to me.   This painting was one of several where I made an attempt to capture the essence of the formality of the house and fence to the informality and wildness of the Nature that surrounded it.  I never actually completed a portrait of this house because the owner moved to another house the next year.  I never could actually find a ‘face’ to this house other than this view.  I decided to work on this painting this morning to push back the middle and background and bring more light to things that were catching sun.

I did other house portraits for this person; of a cottage where he’d lived and been very happy.  He was so happy with the first portrait that he commissioned me to do 3 more — for his mother and his 2 daughters.  He was a great client!  Alas, he died in ’08, after ‘routine’ surgery went bad.  He was a gentleman, a really nice guy and fun to work with and for.  I think I may work more on this painting, but not today.

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Nov 5, ’14

You are the one who must seek– and claim– your own creative destiny.  Julia Cameron

Nov 5, ‘14

Today is filled with Morosity.  The weather is morose and so is the weather in my heart after I read the news about Elections and Winners all over the Country.  I am not filled with hope after reading the over-all results.

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Here’s what I’ve been working on this morning.

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Before

 Horse and Jug with Apple

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After

I worked on this and several other paintings this morning.  This is one from ’09 featuring my dear old Blue Jug, Dala Horse and ‘50’s table cloth with grapes and leaves.

The jug was given to me by my parents as a gift for watching their dog while they were in South Carolina at my grandfather’s funeral.  It’s not an antique but a damn fine replica of one.    I love the blue and keep it in a place where it’s sure to catch Light.  The Dala Horse from Sweden shows up quite often in my still life paintings.  I still have the table cloth but it’s been packed away for years.

This morning I heightened areas of color and deepened shadow areas.  To me, everything in the painting is now closer to where I feel it should be and there’s an increasing sense of all-over harmony between each element.

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Before

Fake Pear and Shell on Dreamer Table

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After

Another long-lost Dreamer Table painting….  The fake pear is carved from wood and then painted.  I bought it as a souvenir of a day trip and fabulous lunch with a good friend.  I never liked the fake pear much as an item to use in a painting so sent it to Goodwill a few months ago with a lot of my other fake fruit.  On the painting this morning, I deepened tone and heightened some of the color in the foreground, re-defined the Shell.

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Peach and Bleumner

Peach and Bleumner is one of my favorite paintings from a series I did called Peaches and Post Cards. as each painting in the series featured one or more peaches and an Art Post Card from my collection.  I liked this painting so much I decided  to keep it rather than frame it and put it in a show that featured my series.    I seriously love the work of artist Oscar Bluemner.  ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oscar_Florianus_Bluemner ) The post card depiction is one of my favorite paintings.   What I did to  my painting this morning honoring Bluemner  was to deepen some of the tone a little and add a little light to a few dark areas in the peach.

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Pear and Prendergast

Another small painting from Peaches and Postcards,  this one featuring a live pear and a postcard from the New Britain Museum of Art with a copy of a Watercolor by Maurice Prendergast and the same old Shell I’ve used in so many paintings.  I love Prendergast’s expressive, colorful and calligraphic watercolors.  The blue and white check cloth back drop is a dish cloth and a favorite in my backdrop collection.  It has never dried a dish….

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Every Pitcher tells a story.  Don’t it?

Nov 4, ‘14

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  2. Another beautiful, seasonal day.  Sun, 45 degree temp and more leaves on the ground than on the trees.  My Japanese Maple still has most its leaves and man, are they RED!

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As the sun flooded my work area this morning, I managed to spend a few hours working on a few more paintings from the basket.  This morning I worked on Egg Cup and Pitcher with Shard, Pitcher and Horse, and Apples on Dreamer Table.  For the most part, what I did this morning was to intensify the value contrast using a gray made of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber – my favorite go-to gray.

Ultramarine Blue is my favorite Blue – my Mother Color!

I applied a few glazes of color, red and yellow  – the horse, apples and berries —  but sparingly.

Dreamer Table painting

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Before

Apples in Bowl on Dreamer Table

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After

Back Story:  I called it ‘The Chinese Bowl’ for all the years I owned it.    The bowl met a tragic end while I was still living in Litchfield.  I saved the broken pieces for a few years and discarded the pieces when I moved as I’d found no one who wanted them for any kind of purpose.  The bowl was hand-painted and to me, very beautiful.  I used it frequently in still life setups.  It had been a gift from a friend and I think it had a bit of antique quality.  RIP, Chinese Bowl….  Here it can be seen on The Dreamer table, filled with apples.

2 Pitcher Paintings

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Before

 Pitcher and Egg Cup with Shard

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After

Back Story:  I bought the Pitcher and the Feed Sack back drop on a visit to friends in Vermont a year or so after I officially moved from Vermont back to Connecticut.  I bought the Egg Cup on ebay and sometime after I left-off on this painting, I sold both the Pitcher and the Egg Cup on Ebay.   I still have the feed sack, which is much faded.  I still have the egg which is a fake egg intended to encourage actual chickens to lay eggs.  The embroidered cloth in the foreground is still in my collection and the shard, formerly a hand-painted decorative plate that fell off the wall and broke to bits, I use on my stovetop as a spoonrest. I love the blue and I love the bird.  I stopped by the roadside in White’s Woods to pick the berries.

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Before

Horse and Pitcher on Blue

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After

Back Story:  The Dala Horse shows up often in my paintings from this time.  It was a gift to my niece from a Foreign Exchange Student from Sweden and she gifted it to me.  The pitcher, berries and the pink-checked feed sack are the same as in the painting above.  The covered jar with the blue hand-painted ornamentation is what replaced my Chinese Bowl.  I gladly paid $50.00 for it when I spotted it in an antique store.  I thought to sell it on Ebay, but can’t yet bring myself to part with it.  it doesn’t show here, but one of the things I love about the painting on this jar is the goldfish.  The blue-checked cloth is a dish cloth that a friend was tossing because it had a rip in it.  I loved the blue checks, so used the cloth for awhile in set-ups until I realized that it was too complicated, too intricate….  The shell is featn the shell is a glass eye from a doll, used only once.

I think the composition of the 2 pitcher paintings is too fussy and more complicated than it needs to be.  That being said, I enjoy the intricacy and all the places for an eye to wander.

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Nov 3, ’14

Nov 3, ‘14

sls nov 95 x

Nov ’95, South Lake St., Litchfield CT

The weather today is much as it appears in this painting from  Nov 1995.

It was cold last night, but still, no frost.  I still have raspberries to pick although I’ll probably net no more than a handful.  I still have Kale to pick, enough for a good-size salad.  I’ve put the storm windows in my screen doors, I’ve bubble-wrapped most of my windows.  Closing-in time is in full effect.

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All summer and fall I’ve spent much time going through my Stuff.  Every time I go to the basement to do laundry, I bring up a container of Stuff.  For the most part, that means going through old bills, tax return forms, years of bank statements, cards, letters, old sketchbooks, old journals and piles of watercolors I’ve done through the years.

I’ve never considered myself as a person who can’t throw anything away; apparently I’ve been in Denial.

I’ve taken many items to Goodwill, filled many trash bags with old envelopes and non-private papers, filled many more trash bags with personal papers that I shredded and filled a basket full of old watercolors where I’ve seen things that can be done to ‘save’ them.

I’ve finished my commission work – the Sunflower Floorcloth and the 6 chairs with blue flowers.

My garden is at a place where it requires very little time and attention.

This morning I set up my small table in a sunny spot and spent a few hours working the old watercolors I felt worth saving.

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3 Tomatoes, ‘98

Back story:  the center tomato and the one on the right are Patio tomatoes that I bought as a fully grown plant in a large pot.  I put the plant on a plant stand that had casters, borrowed from a friend.  Where I lived was filled with trees and quite shady.  I spent the summer moving the tomatoes every few hours so they could get enough sun. The big one on the left is a fake tomato that I bought at a Dollar Store in St. Alban’s Vermont in ’94.  The cloth is one I bought at the local Thrift because I loved the color and the design.  The shell is one I brought home from Maine a long time previously.  I didn’t think to take a ‘before’ photo.  In this photo, the shell and the tomatoes stand out against the cloth whereas the ‘before’ would have shown them all looking flat and somewhat lifeless and the cloth having all the interest.

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Plums in Blue Bowl on Dreamer Table on Dreamer Table, Before

Back Story:  I did a series of still life paintings all using my painted table surface as the back drop.  Plums in the Blue Bowl was never finished.  Perhaps I lost interest, I don’t recall.  Today, the bowl is history as I dropped it on the marble floor in my kitchen on Culvert St and it smashed all to hell.

I call the table ‘Dreamer Table’ because I painted a copy of Picasso’s  “The Dreamer” on the table many years ago.    The table was a Sunday School table from where I went to church as a kid, purchased at a Tag Sale when the church was closed and sold.  I painted Picasso’s “The Dreamer” on it to change the karma of the table.  I bought the paint at K-Mart.  It was latex paint and I used Red, Blue, Yellow and White to mix the colors I needed to follow Picasso’s original colors as closely as I could.  I chose “The Dreamer” because it’s one of my favorite Picasso’s and because I consider myself a Dreamer.  When I did the Dreamer Table series,  I was heavily into restoring a dream that had almost died during the time I was in Vermont.  When I finished the series, I had a show at the Oliver Wolcott Library in Litchfield where quite a few were sold.

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Plums in Blue Bowl on Dreamer Table, after

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Berkshire Livery, Litchfield CT July ‘95

Back Story: In July ’95, when I first did this painting, I’d been living in Litchfield for almost 2 months.  I loved the apartment where I was living and was thrilled to be living in that place and on that street and Vermont receding into memory.  I’d read in the paper that Berkshire Livery was going to be torn down to make way for Municipal Parking so I went uptown one evening and did this small painting to commemorate the iconic shape of Berkshire Livery down the alley behind the taller and older buildings that face The Green. Berkshire Livery was a Taxi and Limo service.  I always loved the shape of Berkshire Livery and the contrast to the older buildings.  I’d known people who worked there, I’d solicited advertising from the owners on many separate occasions, representing 2 different newspapers.  It had always been there, from my earliest memories of Litchfield and The Green.  I never expected anyone would tear it down.  The painting is grossly overworked; at one point I’d used white paint on it.  I was too unhappy with the appearance to take a ‘before’ photo; believe me, this version is way better.

The painting at the top of the page is the view from my window in my Litchfield apartment.  I lived there for 13 years and have hundreds of paintings of aspects of that view in all kinds of weather and seasons.

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Me and a popular Auction site….

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Sold for $5.50 + S&H!

Today is chilly and gray.  A perfect day for staying inside and watching the world through windows.

Still, no frost where I live.

Thanks to Ear Plugs, I slept-in this morning.  This past week, I’m becoming a sleep addict….

I’m still wearing Ear Plugs; without them, the Upstairs Kids frenzied floor-pounding would be unbearable & outrageous.  They’ve literally been floor-pounding for 3 1 /2 hours.

I’ve been in a state of down-time doing Inventory and and planning Dispersal of former treasures that are now trash.

Which means I’m too bummed to spend time on anything new and creative so am working on my infrastructure until such moment as creativity returns – or until the Stuff isn’t as overwhelming, whichever happens first….

Before Inspiration; chop wood, wash dishes.

After Inspiration; chop wood wash dishes.

I’m metaphorically ‘washing dishes.’

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I’m watching en E bay auction and while I wait to see how many of my 3 items have sold, it seems like a good time for an E bay story.

Last Saturday, after a very lengthy period of heavy-duty Procrastination, I uploaded all information and photos for 3 items I’ve been intending to sell on E bay.  I was happy with myself for finally getting around to this task and checking it off my very long list of Things to Do.

At a point in time — roughly from 2000 to 2008– I sold many items on eBay and made a fair amount of money.  I sold items for myself and others.  It was a Seller’s Market and I had much to sell – or was able to find much to sell….  It was more fun than not; well-worth the time spent in photographing, measuring, weighing and writing a description of each thing for sale.  Well-worth the wrapping and packing and the trips to the Post Office and all the time spent waiting in line and filling out forms….

Things started to get rough in 2008, after the stock market crash and savings and loan failures and myriad other events that dulled & deadened The Economy.  Postage went up.  eBay sales were fewer and fewer and the whole thing began to be a discouraging waste of time and energy.

Part of the fun was the thrill of the Auction.  I had a tiny taste of that fun with an auction item I offered this week.  I listed a View Master for 99 cents and during the week 99 cents rose to $1.50 and then to $3.25 to $5.00 and then, finally, at the end,  to $5.50.

Peanuts, however,  compared to some great E bay stories from the past….

The other 2 items didn’t sell, had very few ‘views’, had no followers or a last-minute bidding frenzy.  I wasn’t surprised that they didn’t sell but up to the end, I was hoping.  Often, the hoping is part of the fun.

These are all things I’ve been carrying for years, things that were given to me by people who were down-sizing and glad to give me things to sell just for the taking it away….

Now, years later, I think I understand how they felt.

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Unsold — off to Goodwill!

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Unsold — back to the basement!

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