Friday, January 27, 2012

Let's Get in the Car

It might be for a ride to Bow Lake from my Massachusetts home where I marked time until I could go back to NH. It might be to explore Tampa after we had just ridden for 1,200 miles from NH. It might be to buy a dog statue for my mother to place in the garden. Or even a "Deep Woods Adventure" with my mother and brother and, later, with my kids. Motion and possibility. All things are possible if you will just get in the car.

My Dad drove at a maximum speed of 48 miles an hour. Just right for the curvy switchback roads of early NH. Dad disagreed with other relatives who took the longer way because the roads were straight and flat. He felt speeding wasn't the answer. Although I do remember sailing through the pines, zipping around corners to make sure we arrived before that other relative. Soon we would come to the white stones which someone had placed along the road - it was our sign that Bow Lake was very close.

When the dog days of summer pressed down on us here on Water Street, we got into the car and took to the woods. It was cool and shady, although my brother threatened to throw up if we didn't get him some ice cream soon. I was 16 and mostly drove barefoot. My leather hard soles were beaten into toughness from years of barefoot summers. It did present some problems as driving barefoot was illegal. At the time I wore a size 6 1/2 shoe. My mother wore a size 8. She would place her shoes on the hump on the floor in between us. The theory being that, should we be stopped, I could quickly slide into her shoes. Heaven only knows what would have happened if I had been asked to step out of the car in her "boats"!

Most of the driving on our "Deep Woods Adventures" was all on dirt roads. Some times we would take a woods path and discover it to be an old logging road. Grass in the middle of the road was a sign to stay in first gear. I'd never heard of 4 wheel drive back then. Occasionally we would come to an old wooden bridge. My method of assessment was to get out and jump up and down on the bridge to test its safety. In hindsight I wonder why it never occurred to me that my 103 pounds might not be an accurate test for a 2000 pound car. But we always made it. We also drove into fields following the tractor paths. Exploration of fields was always problematic due to hidden wells. We watched for lilac bushes, a sure sign of an early home with a dug well.

Whatever we had in the refrigerator was not what we wanted to eat. So let's go to Rochester. I remember my father calling to us as we got into the car, "Don't buy the most expensive hot dogs". Gas was cheap so, of course, we would go for a ride. We drove around the lake, drove to the store, drove to get ice cream and, oh yes, we
drove because we could. Dad gave us "egg money". He always liked eggs fresh from the farm stand, preferably extra large or jumbo. But we wanted to have "running money". So while he was back working in Massachusetts we ate tiny pullet eggs and spent the rest of the money on ice cream.

There were responsibilities being the operator of a car. Just like us people, getting clean meant going into the lake. We had no bath tubs or showers in our cottages and certainly no car washes were available. But we did have, as luck would have it, a boat launch ramp right across the street from the cottage. There were also lots of new cleaning products on the market back then. Lestoil was advertised as being the answer to all dirt. So I drove the car down the ramp. Neglecting to read the instructions, I poured the Lestoil into my hand and smeared it all over my 1953 blue Chevy. Since we didn't have a hose either, I rinsed the concoction with a bucket and was pleased with the results. The color looked a little "parched" but it was clean. The weekend came and Dad came up to "straighten us out". It seems that our neighbor's water line ran right up from the boat ramp and I had provided him with Lestoil scented water. It wasn't pretty!

A short drive gives one time to think and challenges the person behind the wheel to control the situation. Maybe I didn't say the right thing, but I am able to control this weighty car. I can play loud music in the style others don't care for. I can change my scenery. Things seem less threatening pulling back into the yard than when I left because I am empowered with the ability to change my scene.

Years have gone by; I'm now a painter in oils on canvas. Although the subject matter of cars and trucks has not always brought good sales, I'm continually fascinated with the next vehicle to place on canvas.

Friday, December 2, 2011

T'was the week before "Christmas in Strafford" and my husband reached into the cupboard for a bowl. Not a creature was stirring until my favorite Crazy Cat Clock was bumped to the floor. His eyes, not so merry, his tail no longer wagging. My spirits were dragging.
The clock was bought specificallly to add dimension, color, humor and, oh yes, the time to my kitchen. This clock was the focal point of the theme expressed by my fuzzy dice hanging by the refrigerator enhanced by the Rt. 66 magnet and, recently, the addition of a Texaco sign. You get the picture I'm sure. The battery still kept time but what would my "Christmas in Strafford" guests think? Sure all my art work was organized. Everything was in place, but what if my guests came into the kitchen for a friendly cup of coffee. Even though my coffee pot was shiny and new, the eyes and tail of my clock were frozen in time. No longer whimsical - my decorating theme ruined.

But I knew of a store up in Maine... So my sister-in-law and I enjoyed a beautiful blue sky day on our way to Kennebunkport, Maine. We let the dog run, collected a stone or two and continued to the clock store. THEY DIDN'T HAVE A BLACK CAT! Sure green was available but not in my kitchen. The only option was white. Well it was sort of cute. A little necklace of pearls and lovely eyelashes on a pretty little GIRL cat. Well not so bad, so I bought it. After all, I had saved the decorating day!
Have you ever done something you knew wasn't right and spent time convincing yourself of the merits regardless? I gave the clock a trial hang on the wall. You could barely see it. The white was insipid. Perhaps I could paint the cupboard the color of my wall. No time, paint smells and that still wouldn't solve my dilemma.

In the mean time my original clock had lost an eye. Have you ever looked into the interior of those clocks? It was complicated. Perhaps I could just glue the eye in place - too big for the socket and it kept falling out. Oh dear. After looking a little closer I discovered that tiny prongs held the eye in place. I could fix it.

Success - sort of. My black clock is back in its special place. I've moved the bowls to prevent any reocurrences. But the clock is a little different now. Evidently life isn't as jolly as before because the tail now wags in a shortened burst with an abbreviated sense of humor. Worse yet my wonderful decorative element moves only one eye in a nervous twitch. Clearly the experience has been traumatic.

The white clock will be returned and I've located a black cat on line but the "Rush to Judgment" has been a lesson learned. I'll let you know how "Christmas in Strafford" works out!

Friday, March 26, 2010

If These Rocks Could Talk

Sneak Peak of "Rockers Interrupted"

Stones, rocks and boulders - that's what NH is made of. Every gardener knows it's our best crop! So we don't take NH for "granite" and, we think, neither will you after Art Esprit's upcoming "rocking" tour.

Remember how we filled the streets of Rochester with huge shoes? Well it's us again bringing a new exhibit to town.

Art Esprit, a non-profit organization of visual and literary artists, will be exhibiting a temporary art installation for a "rocking" tour in downtown Rochester, NH. Twenty rocks on pedestals will be transformed into works of art including poetry with each piece. The event is free to the public and runs from June 4 until October 17, 2010.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

An Old Lady in a Little Kid Suit

So how do we dress these days - those of us who are over 65? There used to be rules for this stuff. You know, no white shoes after Labor Day, etc. Clothing for those of us at this age used to be dowdy or dignified, maybe even stately. But today a Mickey Mouse tee shirt is not uncommon and then again there is even wrinkled cleavage. Years ago a friend of mine commented that her daughter came home shocked that she had seen a lady's "Cleveland". I assert that such exposure should be confined to Cleveland! At any rate, what do we wear?

There are those who dazzle in artistic finery. But if I showed up in a short leather skirt, everyone would laugh. Then again laughter is a good thing. So maybe it's the inside that is affecting the outside.

I really don't feel old. My 80 year old mother used to say that she thought she could still become a ballet dancer. So it's really not a body image, rather how we think. I do chose color for effect. Pink if I hope people will be kind to me, yellow if I am missing the sun and red to be assertive.

I am enjoying this age. I can flirt without censure; express opinions regardless of how goofy, yet still shovel snow and haul wood. It's a pleasure to surprise someone with odd ball knowledge they never suspected I had.

So perhaps we are getting the clothes we actually need. Like jeans, undershirts and fluffy socks. Now that I'm thinking of it, my mother was always chilly in her beautiful polyester blouses.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Shameless Commercialization

Morning Traffic

If you were a member of Artesprit, you could take a turn displaying your art work in the tax office. It's a tiny case with two glass shelves so no furniture need apply. Each year I have the opportunity to "dress" the case and live out my desire to work as a display artist.

Years ago I applied to work in Jordan Marsh's Display Department only to be told I needed a degree. So I was relegated to the sales floor. Mrs. Better Dresses and Maternity were quite a bit to live up to for a sixteen year old. But Maternity had a display case. No one seemed to care that I didn't have a degree, so I happily changed the case frequently.

Fast forward to today. For one month a year I can do whatever I want. To flesh out a painting of an old garage I included some of my Dad's oily parts. I've sprinkled stones and leaves, used grass and an old china shoe to augment various paintings.

So please stop by and check out the toy car. I'm doing a series of toy vehicles in domestic settings.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Travels with George

Long distance driving used to be a part of my life. My mind was free to wander as I drove all across the country. So I picked up George Washington. Although we logged many miles together, it was, unfortunately, a one sided relationship. Perhaps it was his teeth that prevented him from participating fully in the conversation. But I was quite willing to do all the talking. He was so impressed with my driving. Asked me repeatedly how I knew where I was going. As the miles rolled by I explained the interstate system to him. He remarked frequently about the quantity of pavement we drove on. I showed him how I could pump diesel and we often dined at truck stops. I could tell he marveled at my abilities. But what about you George? Again he was hesitant to speak so I kept both sides going.
This relationship lasted for years. The odd part was that he never arrived. As I pulled into my destination, he faded away. Waiting, I guess to be resurrected on another trip.

As many long distance relationships will, the thrill was fading. Why wasn't he more forthcoming? More conversational? Well, what did he think? So I bought a paperback history book about the life and times of George. He rode horseback. Well that was cool but it must have taken him a long time to get anywhere. Didn't he think my way was better? Sailing down the highway at high speed surely beat having your horse go lame half way there. But I noticed he was looking at the farm land because he was, after all, a farmer. Maybe he wasn't so impressed after all. I took a good look at George's face. He was actually said. He didn't like moving so fast. On our last trip together he finally told me he was leaving and would be joining the Amish. They traveled at a pace more to his liking. And he admitted he had always been embarrassed at my clothing. It was a bitter pill.
Years have gone by and I see our relationship with different eyes. George was patiently waiting for me to grow up and see him for who he really was.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Merry Christmas

Yes, I'm still here. That sure was a long "wait,wait" between postings! Thank you for your patience.

The reference for this painting was discovered on a snowy ride to the beach. My sister-in-law and I were headed to do some photography for a possible commission when we passed this old vehicle. It definitely called to us to stop and take some pictures.

Why was it there beside the road? In all sorts of weather? Surely that light would never be sufficient for driving. The image stayed with me and I hurried home to get it on canvas. Then I realized it was a "God" thing. Who is always there - beside the road and wherever I am? In all sorts of weather? It's God. How could I have failed to realize that it's God's light that is guiding this vehicle and us.

May God guide your steps through a wonderful Christmas and into a meaningful and joyous New Year.