Saturday, February 28, 2015

The week in Tanglish

So I went and bought myself more colored pencils and some markers.  
Quite inspiring!  It upsets the cat when they all spill on the floor, however.

The only misadventure with the supply purchase was that my wallet apparently fell out of my pocket when I went to the market afterwards.  I didn't notice for more than 24 hours.  Can you imagine... when I called the market, THEY HAD FOUND IT.  And they had it in their safe... with all my receipts, cards, cash and ID still in it.  That was a grateful moment.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Polly Wolly Doodle All the Night

I am finding that my Zentangle doodles are definitely art therapy, even though there's not much of the calmness (OR enlightenment) that I thought zen promises. But the degree of agitation, anxiety, despair and irratation with ALL THIS SNOW does diminish. 
Thinking of a word on which to meditate was useful a couple of times.  I read a book called The Happiness of Pursuit:  Finding the quest that will bring purpose to your life.  Unfortunately the author's idea of heartfelt quests never resonated with me. I'm still mulling it over, though.  I do feel rather lacking as far as "purpose" or mattering what with the overwhelming freedom of retirement.
 This  Pinterest quote made more sense to me.  I think because it is "only" a daily goal and could change day by day. 
 Considering how tired I am of snow, there's a fair amount of spring-time color in this chilly meditation.
 Then it I got mad.  What would help?  GRIT.  Apparently trying to teach grit in school is a trend these days.  It's not one of my strongest characteristics. If you have ever deliberately increased your grit quotient and remember how you did it (besides the Biblical test of trials and tribulations), let me know.
 I'm not sure my hybrid of Zentangle patterning and an imagined still life is of much interest.  I did incorporate a new set of markers, though.  And it inspired me to buy yet another set as well as some new colored pencils. 
When in doubt, buy art supplies!!
 Even though the cat is blue, look what showed up in my drawing:   a (relatively) blue bird, the vision that the ground might be something other than white, the sky something other than gray, and bits of things could begin blooming.

When in doubt, remember Camus:

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

Hope you find your invincible summer if it's been lost.

Friday, February 20, 2015

I don't do roofs....

When I left later in the day to meet my daughter, there was just enough ambient light and light from the garage to make it look like it could be cozy.  But remember it wasn't more than 20 degrees.  If I were 30 years younger, maybe I'd be climbing that ladder and pushing off snow... but surely it's ok to forego that now.   

I don't do roofs because I'm clumsy and not a mountain goat.
I did, however, pay A LOT to have a contractor do as much of our roof as we could afford.
I'm sure you've heard.  The snow here is DEEP.
This first picture isn't our house.  It's just an example of what looks normal in our town.
Sneaking out your bedroom window got a lot harder over the last two weeks.  This house is just down the road from us.  Doesn't look like they've shoveled anything but their driveway... except whoever's in the corner bedroom wanted to see out!

 This is the view of our house from half-way up our driveway.  You may be able to see that Tom (a contractor) has made a four foot deep dent in the snow on the main part of the house.

 And if you make a dent, it means there has to be a lump somewhere else, right?

What Tom moved from the roof is now piled up higher than the front porch rails.

I can no longer see what I considered "the garden." 

Did I say that these rocking chairs on the porch were no longer my "happy place"?
 Tom was well trained.  He did not leave the alleged pathways re-filled with snow.  This picture is of the snow being blown out of the path.  The path is deep enough and low enough that you cannot see Tom OR the snow blower. I'm pretty sure Tom is at least 6 feet tall.

 I don't know if this is the snow blower kicking snow UP, or if it is Tom pushing snow DOWN (off the roof).

I suppose I should be glad it isn't a ghost or a poltergeist.  It isn't something you see everyday.
 An art shot showing how glum, dark and dismal the view is from my desk.
In the dusky light with the porch lights, it almost looks cozy.  Yes, it's cozy inside, but it is still in the teens or lower outside. And I'm taking bets for when the snow is all melted....

Tom worked from the West end of the house toward the East.  You can see that he's cleared about 2/3.  He came back the next morning and did the East end and the "breezeway" (lower brick clad section to the left).  I am hoping that since the back of the house didn't have a less sloped roof over a porch area it will be OK "as is." Snow is remarkably heavy. You need a calculator to figure out if your roof is up to the task.
More snow is predicted for tomorrow... if the temperatures stay as low as they have been, it'll mean another foot of "light, dry" snow.  If it warms up we'll get heavy, wet snow, or what they call "wintry mix" --maybe "only" three inches.  And Sunday it is supposed to warm up to the 40's; we'll see how long it take to even notice if any of it is melting.

Hoping I don't have personal images like these to show you any time soon.
And of course if the temperatures fall after that... it'll all be ice.
Oh, Joy.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

(Cabin Fever) Doodles

 I confess I've been chicken.  Too wimpy to even check the temperature in our mostly unfishished, definitely un-heated basement: which is where my oil painting supplies and work tables are.  So I've been doing stuff that can be done in my rocking chair in front of the TV.

Fortunately, Staples had an inexpensive set of colored pens on sale that I picked up a week or so ago.  I am pretty partial to graphic design and have been playing with Zentangle doodles. 

It may be a passing fancy.  But I can do it and stay warm.  AND when I do it, I can't be chowing down on "comfort food" -- which trust me, is definitely salt, fat or sugar!

How many buildings do you recognize in the montage below?
Before they predicted a BLIZZARD on Valentine's Day, I was looking forward to hearts and flowers.  As it turned out, I'm glad we made it to the grocery store for cat food and cream.  Other customers were in similar desperation mode.  The woman behind us had a case of beer, champagne and orange juice (and nothing else).  The man behind her had the 6 decent remaining roses in the flower section.


This was inspired by a Zentangle sample on Pinterest.  I think mine isn't subtle enough.  Story of my life. I'll tell you though, all those little circles take a LONG time to do.  And it's harder than you'd think to vary their size!

Coloring the Zentangles might be my favorite part.  It's like icing on the cake.
After an appointment in Newburyport (which was the only demand that I'd had to get out of the house for several days), I drove out of my way toward Plum Island.  Plum Island is a barrier island being battered by storm erosion and "connected" to Massachusetts by a grid of marshes, dunes, waterways and bird habitat.  It's full of wonderful colors and biting flies in the summer, and deceptively solid looking covered in snow in the winter.  It's hard to tell what is inlet or harbor or marsh.

I also sketched the famous/infamous  abandoned "pink house."  I don't quite understand it's artistic appeal (LOTS of local painters paint it).  It is falling apart, but apparently outside the bounds of condemnation or repurposing. I wish someone would re-build its framework with re-bar and let it be a giant nest building site for birds.

Newly Discovered Axiom of Proximity, Ice Dams, Roof Raking and MORE Snow

 It's a good thing I chatted up the postal worker last fall, because I think it has contributed to his willingness to drive through several inches of snow and slush to deliver our mail.  To the left is our 4 foot tall mail box with its snow hat (and blanket).  Our plow man pushes the snow away from the mail box, but the city plows tend to leave snow from the street all around the mail box. You can always tell who came first and who came second.

 And this is our "patio."  If I plan it right next year, perhaps we can have our own icy Taj Mahal and onion domes.  As it is, there are the stalwart bones of a table, chairs, bannisters and "newel" post at the top of the stairs from deck to so-called ground-level.
 Even though it's an alleged holiday, I have an appointment for a roof raker to come tomorrow and rake our roof and try to get rid of the developing ice dams.  Up until today we didn't have any icicles (or ice, so far as I know), but now we do.  And the frozen water can expand, then melt:  INTO YOUR HOUSE.

Note the depth of the snow:  up to the sliding screen door handles.Who knew that a flimsy screen could hold up all that snow.
 This is the north facing door opposite the one above.  I guess our wind was sending drifts northward.

My hero:  The man with the plow.  He told me that this Chevy needed a new transmission this year.  Considering the back and forth and up and down, I'm not surprised.  He really knows how to gun it and make the snow fly.  He even knew how to fix the snow blower when it sheared a pin on some ice.  Who knew they could be so delicate?
Here he's getting a running start up the hill.  Vrooom! Vroom.
 A friend in Australia thought my little bridge and island garden would disappear with all our snow.  I did, too.  But apparently, it is more of a Princess and the Pea kind of situation:  the layers of snow don't level themselves out over the lumps, they just obscure the edges.

And this is proof of the Axiom that the farther away the Snow is, the Prettier it is. 
This is the vista on my way home from doctor visits.  Too bad these fields are so far away from Boston.  There's plenty of room for "snow storage" here.
Above and below are views from Kimball Road between Merrimac and Newton. I'm hoping there will be at least a little green soon.

The shadow line indicates the distance between the top of the snow and the road bed.  At least 4 feet here.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cabin Fever or DSM? A Meditation for my Sun Belt Friends.

You might have heard, we've had some snow here in New England.  Boston gets the publicity, and probably should, because that's where the population is dense-ist.  (And I mean that in body-per-acre sense).  But our corner of New Hampshire is, literally, in the corner that Massachusetts makes so that they "get" Newburyport Township.  The snow IS beautiful, and quiet.  At first.  I am pretty tired of it by now, and some piles of same are turning a nasty, ugly brown from churned up dirt, sand and salt. Puppy, our cat, is an indoor cat.  But even she was perplexed at the view she had out of the back door.  Usually she can see the far end of the yard, trees, our deck, and the red, waist high railing that runs around the deck.  I'm quite sure SHE couldn't see the railing any more.  I hope it doesn't get buried completely.

The deck on the North Side of the house is my "happy place."  It's what I imagine when I am stressed out, lonely, tired, etc.  But I imagine it in AUGUST!  Not in winter when you might actually freeze your butt off if you sat there for more than a few minutes.  Even with hot tea or cocoa it is NOT my happy place in February.
 Wisely, we contracted with our yard guy and plow man to clear our walkways this year.  Our bill this month is going to be a fortune, but I think it was a good investment in preventing back spasms and cardiac arrest.   To the left and below you can see the depth of the snow.  IT IS ABOVE THE WAIST.

 And if the depth of the snow isn't daunting enough, the longitude ( Latitude, Longitude: 42 51.9' N, 71 02.5' W) we are at means that the front of the house is in shade by about two in the afternoon.  It's a little bit brighter, longer on the South side of the house, but after about three thirty, the trees block the sun.  (Again, not so noticeable when there IS sun and a blue sky.) Sunset today was at 4:11 pm.
 The depth of the snow both below and ON the bird feeder is why I haven't re-filled it for a while.  I'm sure the Jays, Tit-mice, Chickadees and assorted Sparrows are peeved. 

 If you are taller than a cat, this is the view toward the deck from the laundry room.  The big lump is our Weber grill.  Needless to say we won't be barbecuing very soon.  The good news is that our insulation is working and we don't have homicidal icicles or costly ice dams.
We probably could use an expert to dig out our patio table, umbrella and chairs.  Smart New Englanders put these things away at the end of summer.  I was so hoping summer would last longer (and it was actually pretty nice though New Year's) that I got caught flat-footed in January.

Now we've all  heard of Cabin Fever.  I thought I had Cabin Plague.  Or something.  But you know, even if it is "only" Seasonal Affective Disorder, I'm starting my only program to prevent (or treat) depression. If you've got sunshine, celebrate.  If not, make your own, and stay away from the left-over Super Bowl Treats!

Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Year of the Sheep!!

Not only is 2015 the Year of the Sheep, but I'm feeling a bit woolly headed and sheepish.
Last year (and  the year before that) I published calendars consisting of reproductions of my paintings with seasonal quotes.  For reasons that only amount to excuses, I didn't have one ready before the end of 2014.  But I'm (almost) back up to speed!

If you would like a 2015 version (new paintings!! new quotes!!), they'll be ready for mailing January 24. (Printed on 8.5 x 11 paper, 17 x 11 when hanging.) Please let me know if you would like one (or more) no later than Saturday, January 16.

You should have yours in time to celebrate the end of National Hot Tea Month as well as Inspire Your Heart With Art Day (January 31)!

If I ever get famous, these will be collector's items!

_____    Calendar(s)  @ $ 15.00
_____    US shipping and handling @ $5.00
_____    Australia, Europe, Asia shipping and Handling @ $10.00

Happy New Hear, Happy Hygge and Best Wishes,