Thoughts on visiting the WWI Verdun site

While on a visit France in 1960,  I was urged to see the town in Lorraine where long and dreadful fighting occurred . 163,000 killed, 216,000 wounded.

Before reaching Verdun I stopped at a sign that read Here Lies Fleury. A town made extinct by constant bombardment of cannon fire until the soil was in fact soilless. It was contaminated by corpses, explosives, and poisonous gas so no farmers could take up their work.  It is officially designated as a village that died for France.  No seeds were left in the soil, it was without tilthe, without material to grow anything. Can you imagine looking at a barren location pockmarked with no vegetation since 1916. That is a span of 44 years.. I felt terrible sadness in my core.  When I got to Verdun it was similar but there were trees and grass. In the center of town is a very large concrete looking building  called Fort Douaumont. It looked like a tomb. It was now a museum/mausoleum. It was pervaded with death.  I saw dioramas and descriptions of the battles. I came away with an intense disgust with the thought process of the generals in that time. It wasn’t far from the Napoleonic strategy of lining the men up and let the enemy shoot at them and when they fell bring up the next line of cannon fodder. Thank you Marshalls Petain and Margin. So stupid, Such disregard for human life. Young lovely men, obviously strong and able, the men that should be fathering the next generation were decimated. I looked at the men in Paris in 1960 after 2 wars of carnage to the prime breeding stock,if you will, and the men that were left were unfit and produced unfit babies. Homely men, ungainly, gawkey men.  That’s what war does to a nation’s men.  I was looking at them as a 20 year old American girl.  So, after the war is over what do you have? Destroyed buildings, laid waste land and pitiful beings to sire the next generation.  Sounds ripe for a Hitler to move in.  I should add, nearby was the Marginaux Line which was interesting if you read about the war. It was supposed to keep out tanks. It is like rows of giant jacks, the kid’s game jacks.

Later on the trip I walked the beaches of Normandy. Landing craft were still there partially submerged in the sea.  Hitler’s bunkers were very much there and you could see the destruction our Navy waled upon them by their deeply gouged surface. One could go in and walk around these fortresses and they smelled of pee, so they were still good for something

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Piled Higher and Deeper

I think paintings are either commissioned, or, they are bought on impulse.  “Oooo I like that, it would look nice in the dining room.”

I paint what I like. It is on impulse, a dream, or I have looked at that scene on my way home and now I want to paint it. I like to paint landscapes, seascapes, pet portraits, old buildings with charm and sometimes people. I like to paint vegetables and fruit and glassware and copper and fabrics draped over or around. So now I have paintings piled higher and deeper.  Apparently I am not painting what people are looking for. YOU know, if you are a trained singer or flautist you probably want to sing or play for someone, else, what’s the point?  Me too. I don’t paint in order to stack more under the couch or closet but that’s what it’s come to.

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Conkey’s Tavern Painting will be found in the Lost Towns Brew Pub in Gilbertville, MA, when it opens in September.

I just finished an oil painting of Conkey’s Tavern. in Pelham, Mass.  It is extinct having fallen to the ravages of time and The Quabbin Reservoir.  Some of it was preserved and is in the American Museum in Bath, England.  I painted it from a photo, of course, but I had to use artist license to make it look like it is was habitable.  Notice on the right side front where an addition was put on. I painted what I saw, the not so careful meshing of the clapboards. Actually the siding looks rough sawn.  I added a chimney which had fallen off and I painted the clouds looming in the distance foreboding  disaster. It was built in the 1750s by Conkey himself and was the meeting place of The Shay’s Rebellion group.  Did you know that after the men came home when the Revolutionary War was over, they found in many cases their fields fallow, overgrown with weeds and small trees. It took years to bring it back to where it could produce enough for them to sell and get some money coming in. All this while the government was taxing them. They couldn’t pay so they faced jail and get their property confiscated.   The government in their ever brilliant minds don’t think about how these men will get the money if they are cooped up. So what does Daniel Shay do? He  plots to rebel against the government. There is a shootout in New Braintree among other places.  Keep in mind these men have endured the hardships of battle, weather, lousy food to wrest our country from Uncle George III and to top it off , they are owed money from Uncle Sam.  I feel bitter just thinking about it.

So I am focusing on finding other farms in the Lost Towns area to bring back to life. You look at these old photos and see nice farms, fields all clear of trees and scruff that 3 or 4 generations labored to clear and till or graze their stock. The government says

“We need your farm to provide water for Boston” some hundred plus miles away. “So find yourself another place “(and start again).  The factory workers didn’t have that depressing problem. They got up and looked for another factory. I am not intending to slight the emotions of factory or office workers.

I’d love to hear your opinions on some or all of the thoughts in this blog.

Spring went by while I was sleeping

Today is beautiful, if a bit on the warm side. Noticeable because we went from winter coats to short sleeves. Pretty much like the forsythia went from brown stems to full bloom all of a sudden,

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Lily of the Valley

Not complaining.   Our Apartment super fixed my screen door and my trike handlebars this AM and I toodled off to the library. I am looking for the movie (DVD) Dangerous Moonlight. Nobody has it. It is about flights over Warsaw during WWll. The music Warsaw Concerto was featured . Very popular tune for pianists in the 40s. The Nineteen forties. My brother Dave used to play it.  I bet he’s forgotten. It’s loud. Also I was looking for the movie We’re No Angels with Humphrey B. and Peter Ustinov and Peter Lorre. Three great stars.  I put in a request at CWMARS. It is a regional interlibrary loan service in Massachusetts. Free for me but the library has to pay big bucks to be in it. They will email me in a couple of days saying it is in.  Some months ago I joined the library book group here. I like one out of six books. It was The Wright Brothers.  The other books were fiction and I could not relate to two 13 years old boys shoplifting, and drinking vodka in the Las Vegas, NV outskirts.  I don’t want to struggle for what should be for enjoyment. I did that when I was in school. Done with that.  I get lots of recommendations from my reader friends. I just thought where I live by my onesies it would be nice to converse about erudite things with other non related adults. While I am very sympathetic I don’t want to talk about illnesses, aches and pains, politics and gossip with non related adults.  I enjoy talking about art and music, other artists creative experiments and jam sessions with instruments.

I am preparing for a one woman show in South Hadley, MA at Barstow’s Store/Bistro/Cafe.  I am allowed 16 paintings. Hopefully they will sell and I will bring more and sell those and I can keep painting. I have been painting greeting/note cards that are sold in Boston because I have no room to store paintings anymore.

And, I am getting together appropriate paintings for a new Brew pub opening in June in Gilbertville, MA.  It will be called ‘Lost Towns.’ Our history out here has sad memories for some still alive who used to live in the towns now under the Quabbin Reservoir . The reservoir was built or carved from an area including farms and some manufacturing plants near the Connecticut River Valley.  The government came in and told them to go find some other place to live, we need your land. They needed  a reservoir to provide water fro Boston.  Oddly the people who worked in factories could relocate and find another job or keep the job they had if the company relocated. But the farmers; they would have to find land and buy it and start all over again felling trees, digging stumps, etc.   The brewery will commemorate our history.

When the state took land from people in the region of the Sudbury Reservoir, where I grew up in Southboro, Same thing happened. This was in the early 1900s. They did some blasting for the tunnel and existing houses were partially damaged. Cracked plaster was one problem my folks house sustained. The MDC Metropolitan District Commission brought over a bag of plaster to the home owner. DIY  Try and get away with that now.

On my agenda is chairing a tag sale/rummage/yard/attic treasures sale to benefit the church, on the Hardwick Common, June 2 and 3 along with a multi tabled plant sale which Stillman’s has contributed and crafters will be there with their tables. So put in Hardwick Common or Hardwick Center in maps on your phone and take a nice drive out to the country if you are within a reasonable distance. Hardwick is in the center of the state.

The illustration is a watercolor I did for the Spring music program at the Tri Parish Community Church.

Happy Spring.

Details Details

West Brookfield, Faith arrival, Sturbridge 103

The Town Common

Being snowbound provides me with the opportunity to keep up with my blog. We got over a ft of snow and 4 ft high piles around the house. The wind is whistling and even though the sun it out now the wind chill warning says -3 F. My car is in the shop getting snow tires put on so here I sit until that is completed. I live about 1/16 mi. from the auto repair shop and way less than that from the P.O., 3 stores, library, town hall and 4 eating establishment and the common or green as it is sometimes referred to. If you are outside of New England I will tell you that there is a common in most towns in New England. I found out some time ago that in Ohio and maybe other states in the midwest they never heard of New England. I guess we are provincial enough to assume we are famous. If not for weather, for history, for the ‘shot heard round the world’. Jokes on us. To finish that thought, a common is where cows, sheep, what-have-you were collected by the shepherd or young lad responsible for taking the cattle to pasture or summer ground. Like the ‘old country’. Then it became a training ground for the Minute and Militia companies formed to prepare men for defending our towns from whatever outside invader was current. I think it was also used as a marketplace for farmers and craft people, not sure, but it is now. In the town I live in it is used for fairs such as our annual Asparagus Fest, it has a gazebo-like bandstand where weekly bands play in the summer with a big HooHa on the 4th. Often these bands are funded with a grant from the Mass Arts Council. But everyday people go there to enjoy the beauty and peace. We have a fountain with a statue of a woman with lightly covered  breasts as Liberty.

West Brookfield Common

The Lady Fountain

This fountain was boarded up for years because someone thought that the scant coverage was scandalous.  Probably encouraged lusty thoughts by pubescent boys, qv.,The Music Man movie.

This week I am watching Sons of Liberty on Netflix. Love it. I am sort of purist about the historical aspect including costumes and props and I find it distracting and very mildly irritating that people with the job of researching historical movies can’t do a complete job of it. I am sure I am not the only one who notices things like that. Why just during Christmas on the Hallmark channel they had a woman who was a violinist who wasn’t shown how to hold a bow and who scraped away on the violin as if she were sawing wood with no sense of rhythm. But back to historical stuff. The women in the movie were out in the streets with just their white batiste caps on. Never would have happened. They always wore a bonnet of some kind on top of it. The men’s hair was in the fashion of today’s women. a straggly mess with much of the hair tied back but straggles along side of the face. What is that about? People who have work to do find a way to keep it out of their eyes. Do they think Paul Revere worked on the fine detail of his silver pieces with hair in his eyes? Also men wore hats, tricorns, knitted caps, brimmed ones, military ones outside. When dancing in formal attire men and women wore gloves. Women wore kid and men wore cotton to avoid perspiring on the women’s kid gloves. When the British marched on Concord to capture the stores of arms, the battle was at the Barrett farm on the hill and not The bridge, the famous bridge where the embattled farmers stood to ‘fire the shot heard round the world’. Didn’t see the bridge in the movie at all. Not critical but it would have been nice. Ben Franklin was Ben Franklin. Sam Adams was a young hot head–probably was. George was good. Happy with George and General Gage was his evil nemesis. Didn’t know Gen. Gage’s wife was a traitor to England.  She wasn’t English but a New Jerseyite.  Gage was not pleased.  She and Dr. Warren had something going.  Storyline led us to believe that Gage was directly responsible for our hero, Dr. Warren’s horrible death. Costumes on the minutemen were correct. Anything farmers might wear. You might go to see a patriot day re-enactment sometime and in the wealthy town like Concord the minutemen wear matching uniforms in a lovely buff shade. Really?

Haven’t finished the series yet. I did like the series Turn. Setting on Long Island, NY during the Revolutionary War. Worked out to my satisfaction.

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.