Daylilies and picket fences

July especially July Fourth is daylilies in front of white picket fences on Main Street, in West Brookfield, MA.  All one needs is a lobster and red and white checkered napkins. America. Eastern America. Could be Ohio except for the lobster.

 To escape into another world, mentally far from Fake News, I have steeped myself in Father Brown Mysteries. On Netflix. When I first caught the show on PBS/BBC I thought FB was an unimportant man of the cloth who was an irritant to the rude Chief Inspector.  Now that I have given the series a better look, I find FB a captivating, intelligent, kind sensitive priest. Doesn’t proselytize, no preaching but a moral man who encourages people to do the right thing.  I watched all the episodes and was disappointed when they were done. I hope for more in the future. Now I am binge watching Murdock, a Canadian sleuth, handsome as the day is long and don’t the cameras know it. Well I won’t gain weight on that eye candy unless I binge eat simultaneously.

I do break for guitar and piano practice and household maintenance. I have to practice during the day because the folks upstairs don’t like the ‘racket’ at night. Okay.

Weather good for plein air painting. Went out with a group Saturday. Absolutely a beautiful day with a 360 view of stunning landscape. Big ole trees, frog pond with pond lilies and day lilies, bosky dells, and meadows and blueberry bushes.

Hardwick Farmers Market on the Common every Sunday 11 to 2. Doing pretty well selling my veg earrings, hand painted tees, veg cards and terraria. Come see. veg earveg ear2

Another View

Poor Hannah got a stern talking to. She had gotten to a ‘safe space’. She’s an odd cat. Runs under the bed when I come into the room But if I am sitting down reading she walks around my chair always approaching from the left as if she is mounting a horse and jumps into my lap only to climb up to my neck.  She has peculiar toilette habits which is what she got the talking to about. She frustrates me to the point of my wanting to take her out into the yard and give her an airplane ride which of course I would never do. So SPCA please don’t call.  She likes the idea of canned cat food but only if it is Fancy Feast and only if it is just gravy which they don’t have. Besides I am not going to pay 60 cents for a preciously small can of just gravy. Before you mention the obvious, she will not eat human food.
This lovely verbena from Stillman’s hangs at my front door. I should say door because there is no back door. There is a door to the inside of the building but I don’t ever expect, if there is a fire , to run into the building. Well, maybe if the lawn is on fire…
Did you know that 70% of certain type of  coal mined is used for making steel.  Cars, bicycles, pots to cook your veggies in, computers and wind turbines etc.
About 42% of fossil fuels like coal, natural gas ( do I hear fracking) and oil, goes for energy which you folks with Prius cars use when you plug in to charge your battery.  Only 15% is renewable energy, sun, wind, water. Now that Trump has okayed the mining of coal those numbers will change. The renewable energy so far, is not efficient and must be subsidized by you and me.
A couple of years ago  Larry and I were  passing through Montana and stopped in Butte for a folk music weekend. I took a tour of the mining museum. In their hayday they mined copper –big time, silver, gold, molybdenum, manganese, zinc, quartz and several other minerals.  I was told bad decisions and bad investments caused the mines to close, not corporate greed.  They used to refine the ore there and ship it all over the world. But Ah Ha the government said no more refining done here, you have to ship it to Japan and then they ship it back to us all neat and clean, The heck with Japan’s air and water, right? So what happened? In the 70s the smelters and refineries  closed, the copper mines closed the people are out of work and the city is a dreary place with shabby buildings and people leaving to find work elsewhere. The population went from 100K to 34K.
I remember two things. A diner that served pasties, a meat hand pie made for the men who go to the mines. You don’t see that on the menu around here.  The population- a high percentage from Cornwall, yep the miners.  The other memorable thing,  the lovely meadow where we parked our motorhome was covered with dainty  bitterroot flowers. It’s the state flower of Montana and there it was growing at 5,537 ft in the mountains.
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New Digs

29E.

farm and brook

29 E house

my place

It is quiet at this new location. View is nice out my back windows of the brook and the apple orchard and historic Foster Hill where King Philip held the settlers under siege. My front windows overlook the gazebo where I will surely sit and paint if summer ever comes. My porch is next to a garden where I have peachy, salmon and coral flowers. And 1 black petunia. Yes it is black. Not dark purple. Who would plant black flowers? They are all baby sized right now. I’ll take pix when they are showier.

Today I am going to the memorial service of my first husband, my children’s father. I was graciously invited by his wife of many years. She is a lovely woman and my children like her very much.

 This is a time of reflection. Not of what might have been, I was over that years ago, but of our relationship before and during our marriage.  Two people definitely attracted to each other but not suited in personality.  Times and mores were different back then. I would think that living together nowadays would result in less divorce but it doesn’t.  I don’t know why. The roles way -back- when, were more defined. A woman might work after she got married but when a baby arrived she stayed home and took care of it. (not always possible but that was unusual). I, and most women I knew, didn’t sit around watching soaps and eating bonbons. They were crazy busy after the chores of washing, cleaning, ironing (not if I could help it) making clothes, curtains, shopping for food because women cooked in those days, ,did volunteer work, delivering kids to whatever sport, or cub scouts or taking them swimming or museum, Sunday school, cooking a-sit down at the table, not the tv, dinner. Most families had a big dinner all together on Sunday. Sunday morning was for church not sports or shopping,( stores were closed) then you came home and read the funnies until dinner was ready. Dinner was at 1 at my house growing up and after I was married. When I was first married we lived in a fifth floor walkup in Boston’s Kenmore Sq. area. Couldn’t keep the coal dust out the windows leaked so bad. It was $92 a month. Yeh, the dark ages. Studio apts downtown on Marlboro Street were asking $125! I was working downtown in the financial district and got $65. a week. You had to have a college degree with my job in the insurance company. I could have taken a job using my art degree drawing specimens from looking in a microscope but it only paid $44. a wk. I was supporting my husband and myself while he was working on his doctorate. I got a PHT degree from MIT. Pushing Hubby Through.  We started a family and moved to Winchester to an apt in a 2 family. We had zip. I had my mothers old Easy washer where I hauled the clothes from the washer to the wringer to the set tub to rinse and back to the wringer and hung them out. If it was raining hung them in the kitchen or the basement. Imagine ducking under a line of diapers while you are cooking? Then our landlady redid the kitchen and put in cabinets and a stainless steel sink and a dishwasher. Then we got a dryer at a scratch and dent place. We fixed up the apt ourselves where we learned how to remove 6 layers of wallpaper with a steamer. We learned to paint and I learned to make curtains and sew kids clothes and knit booties and cook. Julia Child taught us on TV. I started watching Days of Our Lives while I was nursing my kids. I got a bike for a birthday with a child seat on the back. I could go downtown and shop. Many people only had one car. We  spent the entire paycheck every two weeks on food, rent, gas, utilities, a few miscellaneous item, movies at a drive in where you took your babies and they slept in the car bed. We slowly saved a little for a downpayment for a house. The struggle may have held us together. When things got easier and I had time to breathe I took a look at the situation and wasn’t crazy about it. A simplistic answer but essential. It is not about having things. I know that. The problem is that if you think things will be better once you have a dryer or a car of your own or money to buy clothes and things, it won’t.

I went to a dating seminar once a longtime ago. The psychologist said ‘you need to be with some one who has the same principles and moral values as you. You need to think of a marriage as a corporation. You work to keep the corporation sound. A short and long term plan with annual performance review (, budget, human resources -strengths of each employee (no nitpicking without considering if that person were suddenly dead, how important in the scheme of things is the pick), dedication to the firm compared to outside job, integrity, no outside infiltration (criticism not allowed from in laws, friends), no spending of the principal from the treasury without a board meeting . This is all silly except each is important. The most important one I missed here and that is communication with honesty without fear of reprisal.

April 2017 A couple of days in the 40s and then more snow and cold wind. Then a sunny day. Then more snow. Ugh. My choir has been working on Palm Sunday and Easter music. For Easter we are singing Cohen’s Hallelujah with Easter appropriate lyrics. Catchy tune. Look it up on You Tube. Easter is 3 weeks later this year. That was called to my attention by a news report that said the first quarter business income was down because they had no Easter income. Most people spend money on food for Easter. I remember when my mother took the four boys down to Carpenters Men’s Store in Framingham and outfitted them ‘from the skin out’. Me too, later. I would get a dress, socks, a Spring coat, a hat with ribbons or a flower on it and matching gloves. I don’t think anyone does that now. We used to sing ‘Put on your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it, you’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade.(Irving Berlin) Funny…written by a Jewish guy. Just thinking. I read Philbrick’s Mayflower, then Bunker Hill, about the beginning of the American Revolution. So much more in- depth and fascinating that what we read in school. Where I live now, was called Quaboag Plantation and was divided up into the Brookfields-West, East and Brookfield. They were decimated by King Philip and his hoard(1675) and it took a long time to get repopulated (up to fifteen families) because of little skirmishes and other irritations to the daily life. I imagine one would be on guard all the time for rustlings in the bushes, the fear of being shot or scalped, of having your new house burned to the ground, your wife and children kidnapped and taken as far as Canada for ransom or slaves. Presently we are aware of being under attack by Radical Islamists but that’s not the same as the pervasiveness and proximity of the frontier threat. I am referring to the French/Indian War, 1688-1697. The Canadian authorities used the Indians to terrorize the English colonists. It was actually a religious war between James II and protestant William of Orange. Both wanted to be King of England. France joined in James’ Catholic side and the war was brought over here. We did not see it as a religious war but as a war for France to take the colonies from Britain. And I think the Indians thought they could get their land back. Imagine the steadfast courage to clear land for farming, build a house, feed the family with an hoe in one hand and a blunderbuss in the other. The settlers built a safe house called Fort Gilbert with a stockade fence, not far from where I live. But most of the settlers lived more than 3 miles from the center of town, too far to make use of it. Now we have safe houses in colleges to protect the snowflakes from the slings and arrows of politically incorrect speech. Wonder how they would survive on the frontier. No I don’t wonder. They wouldn’t. Whose fault is that? If you are a parent, have you given your children the tools to attempt to survive. Read the Foxfire books, read The Axe. Read a cookbook. This is probably my last painted purse. They don’t sell well so I am doing something wrong. Dragonfly on silver leather I have been working on my new digs. Collecting furniture. I am waiting now for the yard sales to begin. This is mine. Oil on canvas. ignore uncropped sides My art group at Hitchcock Academy in Brimfield decided to copy a painting by a nice but little known artist of a covered bridge. We showed them all together and it was interesting to see how the painting was portrayed in different media, watercolor and oil. POSTED BY SUSAN AT 12:22 AM NO COMMENTS: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2016 Forward to the Past If I lay awake in the middle of the night, that a friend calls ‘ the witching hour’, I think of so many things to write about. Faced with the white paper of a blank screen I am myself blank. So I’ll just let the thoughts pour out. On occasion other artists may ask for my opinion of their work. I consider their apparent capabilities and temper my judgment based on that assessment. However, in the case of my grand daughter who is definitely good at drawing, as a preteen, she surpasses a lot of mature artists in her ability to see and remember. I feel my obligation is to be frank with her. She might draw a girl that is currently in fashion but which represents to me a trashy example of a girl or woman. I tell her I personally don’t care for that look. I don’t care for the messy up-swept ponytails with hair hanging down in haphazard ways. The long gone movie star Veronica Lake made the one eye -covered- by -hair look, famous. Good for the come hither allure but a hazard for daily activity and just brainless for working. You can take that further…waitresses, nurses and doctors, auto mechanics, any machinist ad infinitum. Women who should know better on TV, pundits, the actresses have this habit of having to sweep the hair out of their eyes and run their fingers through their hair to fluff it up or grab it with both hands and twist it over to one side all the while talking. Nobody seems to teach their children not to perform their toilette in public. Nobody seems to teach their children much about behavior in public. Just observe the trash talk at the protests, the trash attitude and the trash being thrown. They want respect but they haven’t any for themselves. I don’t like ‘yoga pants’ except at yoga or the gym. Even if the woman has a lovely figure I find there is too much information for me outside of the artists studio. They reveal the shape of the crotch front and back. Really? In the old days, Oh, here we go,sigh, ladies wore slips or half slips so the skirt wouldn’t tuck under the buttocks. Now it is desired. Show whacha got. Look at the old movies of the 50’s and older, how smooth the dress or skirt lay over the hips and bum. Sleek as a Siamese cat. Now its a bag of potatoes. Everything has gotten sloppier. People hate to bother to get properly dressed to go shopping, to go to church, to appear in court. Working at home in front of the computer-who cares if you have pj’s on. But wearing them shopping? Takes lazy to a new level. That’s probably what this whole attitude is about, the who cares attitude. Love me warts and all, yesterdays dirt and sweat and all. Todays dirt and sweat is legitimate. If you see a smart, put together woman, why is she elegant? Because she is not bunched up and floppy and shaggy. I bet she has a long mirror and can see her back side too. I predict this fashion statement is going to get tired and it will return to more conservative fashions. All of this diatribe goes for men too. It’s time for the pendulum to….

Blissfully unaware

Perhaps that’s an unfair title. One’s sphere of awareness usually revolves around work, play, family and not necessarily in that order. Unless you have a farm, know personally a farmer you may be unaware of the fine line a farmer walks regarding his very survival.  You go to the store, you buy apples in a bag. You take them home and wash them and see that one has a spot on the skin. OMG. Unfit for human consumption?
Some people are like that. They want perfection and wholesomeness. If that’s about what your expectations are you might consider rethinking the importance of this  in the scheme of things.  This Spring a local farmer had a problem with a particular crop that had a dent in each, lets say, cucumber. He had to throw the whole crop out because he knew it wouldn’t be accepted by the public. That is incredibly sad. It was perfect fit for consumption.  Expectations have been set high by the media and ordinary is nearly unacceptable.  For perfection to happen the farmer would have to toss most of the apples out. The plight of the Massachusetts farmer this June and July is hanging on by the grace of God and wits. We have been in a drought for two months and the pastures and fields are dried up with no hope of a second cutting of hay never mind a third. Dairy and beef farmers are selling off their herds and closing up shop because they have had to spend the money that gets them through the winter, buying hay to feed the cattle this summer.

A parched field 

Farm ponds are low and any irrigation done is on the money crops like corn and tomatoes.  Some farmers who offered CSA have had to reduce the variety in the weekly box or even give up if they haven’t a way to irrigate,  The tree fruit crops were kaput from the late frost which occurred after the buds had formed.  New England farmers don’t have a cushion to get them through a weather calamity and the government or their insurance doesn’t pay anything near what the crop was worth. It is hardly worth the effort to fill out the ridiculous number of pages to put in a claim. These farmers are not like the Midwest’s huge expansive farms measured in square miles. On the farm where I live we got 1/4″ of rain the other day. I was great but not enough. The potatoes and onions are small size. Maybe if we get more rain they will grow.
The best thing you can do to help farmers is to buy locally grown vegetables, meat, and dairy even if it is from a supermarket that buys local produce and they will proudly advertise that. So when you look for produce, don’t be so picky if it is just a surface blemish. Could you pass that test?
One more thought. Scientists are thinking about combining human cells with animal cells for the purpose, they say, to cure diseases. Imagine the odd creatures they could come up with? If you are a person that doesn’t like the idea of GMO vegetables, you can’t very well like the human/animal combos. Same thing. Right.  This playing around with human life experimentation has been done before during the Nazi Regime and also in America on poor people in the 1920s forward until about the 50s. We viewed that with revulsion. What has changed?
Here are some pictures

Petunia planter
Tuberous begonia

to cleanse your thoughts.

 

Thyme blanketed patio

“What is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days.”  James Russell Lowell’s poem is one of my favorites. He goes on to say…”Now is the high-tide of the year, And whatever of life hath ebbed away

Comes flooding back with a ripply cheer,”
This mid month week in Massachusetts has been perfectly beautiful with temps in the mid 70s, sunny, slight breeze.  Yet, for some this is a time of feeling blue. I am sorry for them. I feel happy and contented, well, as contented as I can be. Artists areseldom complacent’  I have a place to live, freedom to come and go, gas for my car, and plenty to fill my day.
crystal apples
 I listed some of my earrings on Etsy under the shop name swedishblond. These are my crystal apples. I make pearl pears, orange crystal carrots and cherries. I paint watercolor vegetables on cards and sell them at Boston Public Market. My daughter has quite a large section for Stillman’s Farm veggies and other things there. They recently added another section to sell their veg and flower plants. 
On the fourth of July I will don my warm 19th century costume and sing at the Old Sturbridge Village when they have a group of new Americans becoming citizens.We will sing Patriotic songs as sung in 1830. That is the latest time period of The Village. My hat’s off to those who take the trouble, time and money to become citizens of the greatest country that ever existed to my knowledge. Maybe the Eskimos are runners up. They seem to stay out of trouble.

A single iris plant


Lists and plans

My epiphany came the first week of December, Yes, you can do too much, be overextended with projects and responsibilities. I missed two important appointments and began to doubt my mental acuteness age-wise. I did all the necessary things to insure I would remember the appointments and still I overlooked them. My resolution in 2016 is not to do too much.  I was getting ready, making things for two Christmas Fairs, practice piano and guitar, rehearse the choir for Advent and Christmas music, I had a commissioned painting due for framing, made Christmas earrings, painting purses, my old friend Nanny and I made 55 fresh greens arrangement to sell at the local fair and I had functions to attend, Christmas shopping and I told my daughter I would help decorate her house.  Stop.  Something has to give. It did. Lesson learned. Fairs require a lot of lugging and it is tough on the back. That gave,too.

My resolution lists ‘Give up painting purses unless I get a request. They don’t sell very fast, they take up space. I put them on Etsy and Ebay. I never sell anything on Etsy. Etsy is a good showcase for customers to see what I do. If they see something they like they can email me and I will send it to them.  Earrings are fun, don’t sell much but they are lightweight,take up little space and are lighter than paintings and purses.

Oil, Three Boys in a Dory

 I stopped painting for fun because I have run out of room to store the darned stuff.  I like commissions.  In November,I did a copy of a Winslow Homer for a present for my son’s birthday, Three Boys in a Dory. The original was a watercolor but I copied it in oil. I don’t remember ever doing a copy before. It wasn’t slavish copy because it was a different medium.

Also recently did the Varnum Funeral Home commission. An oil, 16 x 20.

Varnum Funeral Home



Resolutions are great because it focuses on your goals, long term and in the year. In my diary I wrote down a quote from Zig Zigler ” If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.”

 I wish when I was in my teens someone had advised me to make a series of long term plans. Where do you want to be in 5, 10, 20 years. How will you get there and then plan out by working backwards to the present day. What do you need to do, to get to where you want to be. 

The other thing I have learned is… don’t do or not do something out of fear. Don’t get married because you are afraid to be alone, don’t not be an actress because you are afraid to get up in front of people and speak, don’t not go to the doctor because you are afraid he (she) will say you have a disease. Take the bull by the horns not the tail. I found the best way for me was to consult the I Ching. The message you get, gets beyond your ego, which lies to you constantly, but get to the truth which you know in your brain and you can make the best decision from knowledge rather than ego. Question your motives. A wise woman once told me that I have all the information in my brain to function in this world. That is a difficult fact to grasp. The I Ching is not a replacement for The Bible. 
I am happy when I think of the number of years I had the same thing on my list-to illustrate a children’s book and I was finally able to check it off. I fulfilled that goal. My 2016 list says work more on the Godfrey stories and get them published.
On the topic of cats, I have a new cat,Pierrot. Pierrot is a Christmas gift from my daughter. He is a Turkish Van, from the pound. White with black earpatches, a black tail and three spots on one side of his body. He has webbed feet, likes water and is smart. He has one coat which means he doesn’t have the usual guard hairs over the soft short fur. He has just the soft short fur. 
 My former cat, Tex, I got from a pound in Kerrville,TX. He disappeared this summer. He was street-wise, coyote and snake and eagle- wise having encountered them in Texas. So I figure a fisher-cat or lion got him here in Massachusetts. Cats cannot escape those predators in a tree. I mourned his loss as Larry had given him to me as a Valentine gift and I loved the cat.
I still mourn Larry’s passing but it isn’t painful anymore. I am not able to listen to his recordings yet, but I will. I know he would want me to.
I took up the guitar this summer because I wanted it to be played. It made so much music with Larry.  Christmas Day I went to his kids’ Christmas party and I brought his Takamine guitar. I told them what I was doing and I told them to keep his music going by learning to play the guitar or some instrument or to sing. He didn’t want to teach them how to play because he felt he didn’t know the right way to do it and he didn’t want them to learn bad habits. He learned by watching others. He strummed and knew chords and copied strumming techniques from listening to pop records like Johnny Cash or Elvis etc. He played confidently and boldly but could also play sweetly.
After Christmas my daughter had a party and I invited some people in who played an instrument and I was able to jam with them a little. I am not very good yet and I can’t shift from one chord to another very fast but I am working on it. I have a teacher, John Kinear, who is so good I would like to just pay to sit and listen. He teaches at the Lashaway Music Center in East Brookfield,MA.

Happy 2016