Gloom

010305a

SLS 010305

DEPARTED to the judgment,  

A mighty afternoon;    

Great clouds like ushers leaning,       

Creation looking on.   

 

The flesh surrendered, cancelled,               

The bodiless begun;    

Two worlds, like audiences, disperse  

And leave the soul alone.

Emily Dickinson

April 9, ‘15

This past week has been filled with my own personal grief and sadness over my loss of Albert as well as abysmally grim weather.

The cold and gray has been more like Feb or March than April.

Adapting to life with Albert still present as Ghostcat has been painful although not without sweet moments or memories….  I’ve put his litter box and feeding tray out on the porch.  I’ve accustomed myself to the fact that as much as I consciously or unconsciously look around for him in his regular places, I won’t find him there, except in memory.

Cold, dreary, gray and sunless days have been as gloomy as grief.  The two combined are almost too heavy to bear.  Today is much the same as yesterday and the day before and tomorrow looks to be more of the same.   A break in the weather has been forecast for Saturday.

I talked to a friend yesterday who is going through her own rough patch.  We’ve both decided that sun, warmth and the passing of time will help lift the pall of gloom.  Emotional warmth and sunniness is up to each of us individually, which means processing our grief and constantly moving forward.

My spirits were momentarily lifted yesterday when I talked to a woman who’s promised me 2 tabby kittens next Saturday morning.  She said she’d send photos, but I’ve yet to see them.  So, I’m not putting all my hope or spending too much faith on the woman’s promise at this point in time.

The bit of hope and the momentary uplift in my spirits, however, felt wonderful.   I’m looking forward to – working for — more of the same.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Full Circle

???????????????????

BSA 040215

EACH that we lose takes part of us;    

A crescent still abides,

Which like the moon, some turbid night,         

Is summoned by the tides.    

Emily Dickinson    

April 2, ‘15

My very dear non-human best friend and cat of my heart died yesterday afternoon in my arms in his Aunt Cindy’s car on the drive to the Veterinarian’s office late yesterday afternoon.

He’d been quiet and peaceful for most of the drive with his head on my shoulder and me cradling his blanketed body.  At first, he fought whatever it was that had so suddenly gripped him.  He fought and moaned with such force I instinctively clutched the scruff of his neck to keep him from bolting,  from scratching and biting.  I was astounded he had so much power and energy left in his body.  No sooner had I pulled his head back – the way a mother cat will to maintain control of her tiny offspring  – he relaxed.  I resettled him into the basket on my lap and that is when I felt him go limp and felt Life leaving his body.  I knew he was dead when we stopped at the stop sign at the corner of Rt 118 and Rt 202, right across from the big and beautiful Congregational Church on the corner.

We arrived at the Vet’s 5 minutes later.  The staff was expecting us and when we told him that Albert had already passed, we were escorted to a room at the far end of the building.  It was the very same room where, on May 25th, ’09, I first met and ‘fell in love’ with a kitten I named Albert when he was 2 months old.

And there he was, dead in his basket on the examining table, some 5+ years later in that very same room where our friendship and our journey together had begun, a few feet from the corner where I’d scooped  up his tiny body, clutched him to my heart and called him Albert.  He’d relaxed, leaned his head into my shoulder and began to purr.

The sorrow I feel at his passing and the pain of missing him is equivalent to the joy of our first meeting and our 5+ years together.  Which somewhat helps explain to me why  today I feel so much joy in the midst of my sorrow.

Baby Albert 1

Baby Albert, Day One

Baby Albert in basket

Baby Albert in the basket where he lived and eventually died.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Vigil

032705

SLS 032705

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, 
Old time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

Robert Herrick

March 31, ‘15

Today is mild – 45 degrees! —  and quite often, gray.  The has been shining most of the morning.

Albert is sleeping on the rug in the sunniest spot in the house.

Yesterday was colder than today and also sunny.  It was the most spring-like day we’d had all year — until today.  I discovered that bulbs I planted last fall are a couple of inches high.  There was something so hopeful to me in finding those few sprouts of tulips and anemones.

In this season of re-birth, my dear Albert is fading.  I feel as if in a place of Vigil. I feel as if I have a hole in my heart.  I think that perhaps later this week, I’m going to have to make an appointment for Albert with the vet to help ease him out without suffering although I’d rather spare Albert (and me) the stress of having to go anywhere in the car and remain in this place of relative peace.

As Albert lay sleeping in the sun at my feet, I worked on 3 paintings from my Redux pile.  What I did this morning was to burnish the surface of these  paintings with cheesecloth to smooth-out the surface and then rebuilt parts of the surface with a mixture of water, egg white and white paint.  Using egg white was more common to me in Calligraphy and Illumination than in Watercolor painting.  The ancient scribes used thinned-down egg white in ink as well as with pigment and called it glair.  Using glair mixed with ink, the scribe was able to draw very fine lines that wouldn’t run.  Sometimes a scribe would spread glair over the page so that the ink from the pen would be less likely to run.

I’ve used egg yolk in Illumination painting, too.  It makes the paint fatter than I need it to be in these paintings.  In Painting, particularly oil painting, one works from lean to fat – or from thin to thick.  The same theory works well in watercolor, too.  I need to use the glair because I’ve scrubbed these paintings a great deal  — with water and dry cheesecloth. The sizing (glue and whiting) in the paper has been washed off and worn off leaving a surface that is porous and will not hold paint without being rebuilt the way I’ve been doing these past weeks.  Glair will break down a bit with water, even when dry.  Yolk will not break down after it’s dried.  Glair dries to a matte finish, yolk dries to a glossy finish.

For the most part, I’m using glair as a barrier coat.  The glair coating on my paintings should be porous enough to absorb more paint but not so porous that the subsequent glazes will break down the undercoat of glair.  I’ll probably use a bit of glair in the paint when I paint over my mistakes, as well.

********

Sunflower, Geranium on Dreamer Table

???????????????????

After

???????????????????

Before

Bowl of Strawberries

???????????????????

After

???????????????????

Before

Bowl of Cherries

???????????????????

After

???????????????????

Before

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Albert’s Birthday

Albert on Computer 031610

Albert on the computer, Mar 16, ‘10

March 26, ‘15

Yesterday was Albert’s birthday.  He’s now 6 years old.  He and I first met on May 25, ‘09, when I went to my veterinarian’s office to see the kittens there,  instantly fell in love with him and adopted him to come home and be in my life.

There have been a few ‘events’ where I haven’t been 100% pleased with his behavior, but overall, and perhaps because of/despite those ‘events’,  we’ve forged a strong and satisfying human / non-human bond.

The few ‘events.’

 One: In our first 4 ½  years he’s peed 3 times on my feather comforter, feather pillows and once on my feather mattress.

The first time was somewhat forgivable as he was 5 months old and committed this act the day he was neutered and still coming out of anesthesia.  The 2nd and 3rd time were ‘territorial’ – when he seemed to have felt threatened by other cats.

The laundry load was incredible for all 3 events.  Feather filled comforter, mattress and pillows are extremely difficult to wash and take a very long time to dry.   The pillows and comforter I washed in the washing machine but the mattress had to be done in the tub.  I was fortunate we had days and days of sun, because it took days and days for those things to dry and had we had rain — can’t even think about it….  By the time the 3rd event rolled around, Albert had spared the mattress and only got the pillows and comforter and by that time, I had a Washer and a Dryer which made wash and dry time much easier.

After events #2 and #3, I gave much serious thought to sending him to live in a no-kill cat sanctuary and donate money for his upkeep.

I twice chose the option of attempting to change his behavior which (so far, knock on wood) seems to have worked.  Hopefully, the 3rd time was the last….

Two:  5 years ago, he slept on the keyboard of my then computer and caused it to ‘fry.’

I lost everything that was in that computer.  The first time I caught him sleeping on the keyboard, I thought he was cute and photographed him, so I had no one to blame but myself for the death of that computer; cats like to sleep in warm spots and I went away for the day inadvertently leaving the keyboard uncovered and a warm spot for him to sleep.  Since that time, I’m more scrupulous about putting the lid down on the laptop when I’m leaving the room or going away for a few hours. He’s also learned to keep his feet and body away from the new computer.

I had to use a Netbook that up until then I only used to store material for  teaching watercolor classes.  I used the Netbook for over a year until I could afford another full-size computer.  The Netbook was a lousy computer but better than no computer at all.

Three:  I’m certain that Albert – who, up until his illness,  liked to sit on tables and knock things off –had something to do with losing my car, house and client keys 5 years ago, which was a major pain in the neck to replace all keys.

I’m fairly sure that he knocked the keys into a trash basket under the table and I unknowingly emptied the trash in the basket into the trash going to the curb, before I knew that the keys had gone missing.  That’s the only way I can explain that particular mystery.

********

There’s challenges to every relationship and those were the toughest ones to deal with between me and Albert.  Looking back these past 6 years, I have to say that, overall, having this sweet little non-human being in my life has been worth any hardship because there’s been much laughter and happiness with him in my life.

Yesterday, being his special day, the atmosphere in this house was celebratory.  Also, the sun was shining.  I celebrated his life with heartfelt speeches and a blossoming Gerbera Daisy dedicated to him as well as cooking chicken thighs for his dinner.  Family and friends sent best wishes.  Friends came to visit last night and we sang “Happy Birthday” to him.  He greeted and touched each and every one of us.  We all felt pleased and happy that he joined us for the entirety of the visit and seemed to have a good time.  We all applauded him when he ate his chicken and then his ice cream with great gusto.

Celebrating helped lift all our spirits from the terrible pall of this winter and Albert’s illness.  Even Albert seemed uplifted.

The terrible winter, while obviously winding down, is still somewhat with us as today is gray, dreary and unusually cold for this time of year.  Albert is still ill, but very much alive and having as good a life as possible.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Vernal Equinox Day 1 and 2 in very few words.

030805

SLS 030805

Snow sifts from leaden sieves,

It powders all the wood,

It fills with alabaster wool

The wrinkles of the road.

 

It makes an even face        

Of mountain and of plain,—

Unbroken forehead from the east

Unto the east again.

 

It reaches to the fence,

It wraps it, rail by rail,

Till it is lost in fleeces;

It flings a crystal veil

 

On stump and stack and stem,—

The summer’s empty room,

Acres of seams where harvests were,

Recordless, but for them….

Emily Dickinson

 

March 20, ‘15

The color of today is gray and streaked with slanted lines of falling snow.  The temperature is COLD.  Yep, the First Day of Spring; snow is falling, the furnace is running.  Today looks and feels like any of the many days of cold and falling snow  we’ve experienced all Winter.

???????????????????

BSA 032115 

March 21, ‘15

2nd day of Spring.  Blurred visibility due to straight down falling snow.  Cold.  Furnace running.  Again, everything is covered with snow.

042805

This is what I’m looking forward to on this wintry spring day.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Not quite Winter, not quite Spring….

Not quite Winter, not quite spring….

a barway

Barway

corner orchard

Corner Orchard

As artists, we are always seeking to express that which has not been expressed.

Julia Cameron

March 19, ‘15

The color of today is much like the color in these 2 paintings.   Snow is still covering the ground – not as much snow as in the top photo, nor as little snow as there is in the bottom photo.  It’s cold today, in the high 20’s right now and not expected to go much higher than 34 degrees later this afternoon.  Snow is forecast for tomorrow—the Vernal Equinox!   The expected accumulation is that there will be 2 – 6 inches.  The best thing about the forecast for today is the SUN!    Also good news: the fierce and howling winds of yesterday have subsided to breeziness.

The winds have been so fierce for the past few days that they made it difficult to drive a car in a straight line.  I went to visit friends for dinner in a town 25 miles from home.  Driving back in the fierce winds and suddenly encountering many icy patches on the road from where the sun had been melting snowbanks during the day made me feel especially vulnerable.  I was glad to arrive safely,  and relax from the tension of driving home.

********

One of the great things about these past winter months has been the time spent with my Junior High very dear friend who I met in our first week of 7th grade.  At this point in time, we’re both working less and have more time for the important things in life – re-connecting with friends, re-connecting with each other, connecting to who we were in the past and filling in the spaces with our stories of where we were, how we were and what we were doing, thinking, feeling in the times where there are large gaps when we lost touch.

Yesterday was also quite sunny.  My friend came to my house around 10 with her painting kit and we sat down to work and talk and had a lovely 2 or so hours.    We sat in my sunny window, working, talking, watching the clouds scudding across the sky, the trees waving in the wind and the shadows changing color and shape on the snow in the yard next door.   Albert is comfortable with D by now. He joined us, basking in a pool of sun at my feet.  At my moment of being aware of feeling happy and thinking ‘it doesn’t get much better than this’ a very long skein of Canada Geese flew over from southeast to north west in their characteristic V-form.  There must have been hundreds of geese in that skein as it took a few minutes for them to pass over.  We could hear them honking over the sounds of the wind.  They made a beautiful pattern in the sky.  They were arranged in a very sharply angled V-shape, as if to make a knife  form that would collectively pierce the winds and turbulent skies.  To me, the geese sounded elated, as if to be flying in high winds and make a beautiful pattern in the sky was something they could do easily and enjoyed enormously.  I know I felt elated to see and hear them and it was good to feel so.

After the geese had flown over and all we could hear was the wind, we noticed that 2 hours had passed since we first sat down and now we were hungry.  We decided to go around the corner and have lunch at a local diner.  We left Albert sleeping in the sun.  At the diner, our waitress seated us in a sunny corner and our conversation – and much more laughter – continued.  And, as it seemed to me, suddenly another 2 hours had passed and it was time to move on to other things in our day.

********

The two paintings are from an on-going series of work done in my childhood neighborhood.  I grew up in an old farm house that was surrounded by land belonging to a large Dairy Farm and Apple Orchard in NW CT.  I haven’t worked on this series too much in recent years because I’ve allowed other things to take precedent.  When I drove through the farm land on a visit my mother this past week, I noticed that trees and other landmarks are changing and some are disappearing.  I’d like to spend more time working there in the next year and hope that’s something I’ll be able to work into my life during the coming year.

********

Albert is doing well.  He’s mildly handicapped by his large belly.  He’s still happy.  He makes me happy. I don’t sense any undue suffering on his part.  I bought him another 30 day supply of lasix.

I received the last bit of money owed me by my former employer.  I don’t know what’s next.  Right now, all is well.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Maybe Spring?

031305

SLS 031305

When we look for a guarantee of success,

we are asking to make risk-free art– but art, by definition, is risky. 

Julia Cameron

March 16, ‘15

The color in my immediate world today is lower, duller than the color in the above painting from ’05.   But, it’s a similar day, an end of winter kind of day where all is still and the light is pale.  There’s no wind and not much in the way of sound.

010905

SLS 010905

This painting from January 9, ’05 is the last painting of the barn next door as I’d known the barn for almost 10 years.  I don’t recall exactly when but somewhere between Jan 9 and Feb 13 – on a night that was as quiet and soundless as today, the roof of the barn caved in.  There was no warning.  Suddenly, out of a soundless night came the sound of a massive crashing, creaking and crumbling.  The noise lasted for perhaps 30 seconds, and the night again became without sound.  My sister was with me; we had to convince each other we’d actually heard something.   We grabbed a flashlight and went out to see what had crashed and found that the roof of the barn had actually caved in and now filled the inside of the barn.  It was sad news.  It had been a beautiful barn.  The people who owned the barn had hoped to restore it someday but the roof was too far gone to hold up from weather damage until they had the money for new roof beams and actual roofing.  We’d had days and days of rain and then ice; it was all too heavy for the old roof to withstand.  The caved-in roof was a sad sight throughout the remainder of ’05.

********

The temperature today so far is close to 45 degrees.  I’m dressed for warmth, but not suited-up in bulky clothing against wicked bitter cold or feeling a penetrating chill despite heat.  The furnace hasn’t come on for hours, which in part explains why today seems so quiet.   The guy next door came out for a smoke on his porch and is wearing a light jacket, not his regular Alaskan winter clothing.  Spring may actually be close.

********

This is one of the paintings I washed in the sink and have been working on almost exclusively for the past 3 days.

???????????????????

Freshly washed

???????????????????

Lighter lights, darker darks, the overall tone is more even….  It’s still a Work In Process.

The only area I haven’t touched on this painting, and have no plans to touch, are the sunflowers.  The rest of the painting has been washed as clean as possible and then remodeled using Indigo and White.    I’ve added a bit of color to the two leaves.  There’s still much work to be done – on the horse and the bowl, bottom and top, particularly.  At one time I’d thought to cut off the sunflowers and throw the rest away but after the wash and the work, am glad I didn’t.  There’s a postcard in this painting but no peaches.  The postcard is a reproduction of a painting by Picasso.  The subject is Gertrude Stein, one of his patrons.  The portrait of Gertrude Stein is said to be a predecessor of some of Picasso’s Cubist paintings, particularly one of his better known paintings, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.  I’m a Picasso fan and bought the postcard at The Metropolitan Museum after I’d seen the Gertrude Stein portrait there, back in the day when I frequently went to The City.  The oak leaves and the tiny golden apple came from a walk in the woods close to where I lived.  The sunflowers were artificial, made of crepe paper and bought at a local Craft Supply shop.  The bowl and top is the replacement for the Chinese Bowl that I accidentally broke.  The replacement bowl was handpainted in Taiwan.  The feed sack and  blue dish towel are all too familiar in my paintings.  The embroidered cloth was an old bureau scarf I bought at the local Thrift.  It had a huge hole in it that I usually managed to hide when I used it in a setup.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments