March 30, 2014

Possibly Heavy At Times

Today I drove to Milford, DE, a small town about 35 miles north of here.  The trip takes about 50 minutes, due to all the small towns we need to drive through to get there.  Milford is a pretty little town, with a growing and vibrant down-town, a festival, parades, glleries, a play-house, library, and, best of all, the Mispillion Art League.

This spring, from April 1 to May 30, Mispillion Art League is showing their annual Spring Juried/Judged show, "Creativity Springs."  Of course, I entered.  Jurying and judging is tomorrow, so I won't know if I've been juried in until tomorrow evening.  And, from glancing at the other work dropped off this morning, it's gonna be a GREAT SHOW!

I always combine my trips to Milford with taking care of errands along the way, and LUNCH, preferably with a fellow artiste!  Today's lunch was scrumptious!  We brunched at Abbott's Grill, with an array of fruit, desserts, breakfast and lunch items, including Red Velvet pancakes, hash browns, two types of egg dishes (and custom omelets), bacon, scrapple, sausage, salads, and cheese blintzes.  When we finally waddled away from the table, my friend, Rosemary, and I turned up at the dessert bar, and sketched.  This was the best part -- Rosemary sketched the desserts and I sketched Rosemary sketching the desserts.  Had more of us been there, it would have been a conga line of sketchers!

Which leads to the topic of this blog.  I live at the beach, or 1-1/2 mile from the beach, if you're gonna be technical.  the weather is . . .  changeable.  we can have an inch of snow, and 5 miles inland, they are nestled in 9" of fluffy white.  Essentially, our weather is different.  Now, my Mom was a charge nurse in my home-town hospital.  She would tell stories of how it would be raining cats and dogs on one side of the hospital, and sunny on the other.  This, from a hospital that took up one city block.  But, I've never seen the weather variations we have here.

Today, we had a fog advisory.  Of the two routes north to MIlford, one skirts the beach communities.  And when there's fog, it is pea-soup fog.  The other is a little further inland, and boasts more rain.  So, figuring rain was easier to deal with than fog-and-rain, you know what I chose.  What I failed to hear was the catch-all phrase "possibly heavy at times."  Every time it rains, it's always "possibly heavy at times."  Snow (possibly heavy at times).  Rain (possibly heavy at times).  Showers (possibly heavy at times).  Fog (possibly heavy at times).  On any given day, the weather forecast can read "sunny, with a chance of showers, possibly heavy at times."  And THAT just covers the waterfront, it you know what I mean.

When I returned home, our rain gauges showed a total of  a whole TENTH of an inch of rain.  And, I KNOW I drove through at least an inch downfall in the two hours I was on the road.  At least I had my trusty bumpershoot and rain jacket with me.

This circles back to the Mispillion Art League -- there is some "possibly heavy at times" art in this Spring Show -- not just paintings, but jewelry, carvings and other three-dimensional work.  It's worth the trip if you're in the area.  And, there's always a lot to do, and some great places to eat and get coffee!

Mispillion Art League is at 5 North Walnut Street, Milford, DE  19963 --  Check their web-site for hours, directions and other activities!

March 24, 2014

It's About Time

Growing up I used to hear my elders speak of time as fleeting, as unknown, as being too short, or as not having enough of it.  I could not fathom what they were talking about!  Watching the hands move on a clock, the seconds and minutes ticked by at the same rate for everyone, didn't they?  So what was the fuss?

I stopped clock-watching many years ago.  Yes, I do still use timepieces to track hours and mnutes, but I don't look at time the same way as I used to.  Time is still measured by minutes and seconds, days, weeks, seasons.  But my attitude towards time has changed.

My day is no longer controlled by a schedule -- by being to work at a certain time, having assignments done by a certain time, meetings, laundry, cleaning, yardwork, luncheons, social activites, and scheduled maintenance controlled by the calendar and clock.

Yes, I still use a calendar to schedule appointments, plan events, provide an umbrella structure to my time, but it has almost become an after-thought, rather than the controlling influence in my life.  I seem to have entered more fully into that artistic free-fall where time fades away and the present moment is all that there is.  Artists are very familiar with the feeling, as are writers, inventors, scientists, musicians and mathematicians.  We become so immersed in the doing that we lose track of time.  Suddenly, it's hours later, and we do not have the measured tick-tock to mark how time has passed.  It happens, too, when reading, writing, watching television, listening to music.  The concept of time is individually suspended; the passage of time is not noted.

Such was yesterday.  I find time "flying," particularly in the studio.  There, it is so easy to become right-brained, letting the colors flow and merge, structures take shape and form emerge.  This "out-of-time" experience continued all day, punctuated by the need to eat, drink tea, tend the fireplace.  But what really happened was this:  I was so "out-of-time" I forgot to write this blog.  Hence, a day late.

On a cellular level we are regulated by a circadian rhythm.  On a mental level, however, it's more of a bossa-nova rhythm, where anything can happen -- stops, tempo changes, rhyme.  The regulator clock switches to reggae, hip-hop, or full-out  birdsong.   And, all of a sudden, there's a surprise!  Beethoven!!!

I truly think that removing the regulation of time has allowed me to be more creative.  Let me know your thoughts!

March 16, 2014

The Easel Has Landed

After much cajoling from my friends and husband, I bit the proverbial bullet and bought a Real, Genuine, Professional Artist's Studio Easel.  Adjustable, solid birch, tall mast, and a tray for all kinds of accessories.  Yep, Morgan the Artiste has entered the big time!  This all came about as a result of the continual questions, "Are you going to paint bigger?"  My current easel is designed for plein air -- portable, three folding legs, lightweight.  I have used it in the Studio Annex (second floor bathroom) surrounded by plastic curtains and sheets, but it was not all that sturdy.  I think I could butcher a hippopotamus on this one, if I were in the mood for hippo, or had access to one, or even would consider killing and eating one.  The point is, this is One Sturdy Easel!

The Saga of the Easel began several weeks ago, when I decided to place the order.  I had researched various easels, made my decision, placed the order, and waited (anxiously, I might add) for the Arrival of the Blessed Easel.

It shipped on Feb 26.  And I waited.  And waited.  It was like waiting for Christmas morning and birthday, all rolled into one.  I tried so hard not to get too excited, and it was really tough!  I sort of half-expected it to be delivered that Friday, well, HOPED is probably a better word.  But, it was slated for delivery on Monday, March 3.  Remember March 3?  Remember the rain/sleet/ice/snow?  We had a state of emergency, here in Delaware, and the UPS trucks were't delivering.  (Oh, agony!  I have to WAIT!)  But, Tuesday's shipping info showed it Out For Delivery!  (Oh, Whoopee!)  after spending anxious hours at the door, I finally retreated, with the imprint of venetian blinds furrowed across my face, and the realization that I would not get the easel.  March 5 rolled around; oh, dear, more snow.  Delivery postponed, yet again.  But WAIT!!  There's a NEW message!!  "Damaged in transit.  Returned to sender."  Heart-fallen, I sadly returned to my snow shovel.  At least IT wanted me!

By Thursday, I realized that maybe, perhaps, I should call the shipper to double-check that they really WOULD reship the easel.  That's when I realized, most vendors and suppliers do not reship damaged-in-transit materials unless the shippee (that's me) lets them know.  They just credit your account, and that's that.  They reshipped immediately!  (Bless them, and the credits and payments would balance themselves out.)

Again, more anxious waiting.  But, by this time the excitement had worn off (wouldn't you know).  Thursday, March 13, a very kind UPS man delivered a 66# box of easel to my door!  YES!!  (fist pump!!)  The Easel Has Landed!  I managed to drag the huge box into the living room, and opened it.  It was rather obvious I couldn't navigate it out to the studio-io as it was, and pieces were easier to carry.  And yes, there were assembly instructions!  (Can you feeeellll the love?)

There was just one teensie little problem.  The single sheet of assembly instructions was written by one of those 10,000 angels who reside on the head of a pin.   But, I persevered and figured everything out.  It's just . . . I had these parts left over.  And I couldn't figure out where these 3 extra washers went, or this other little doodad was inserted.  So, I just called the vendor.  Made sense.  I had just spent 2 hours on Some Assembly Required, and had parts left over, and SEVERAL suggestions about the quality and legibility of the assembly instructions!   First comment, "Oh, yes.  The easel was returned in a LOT of pieces.  Can I send you the sheets of instructions I just found on the computer?"

So, now all I have to do is decipher the pictograms of the original instructions and compare it to the emailed instructions (which, by the bye, are super clear and easy to follow).  Or I can just put the spare parts in a little baggie in the "spare parts drawer," and paint.

I'm going to paint.  In 5 years, this will all seem part of the hilarious adventure called "The Easel Has Landed."  But for right now, my brain hurts.

March 9, 2014


I predict there's gonna be a whole lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth tomorrow, as our work force heads off to another week of labor, an hour early.  And it won't end there.  It will reoccur next week, and the week after that, and the week after that.  Until some bureaucraticly-set date in October, when we leave the FINALLLY-accustomed bliss of Daylight Savings Time and return to our old and comfortable Standard Time.

The problem is that Standard Time is no longer standard, nor is it comfortable.  We spend eight months a year on DST, and only 4 on Standard.  Seems to me it would be a lot simpler if we adopted DST as a norm, and simply started everything an hour later when the days grow shorter.  And there would be no need to remember to set the clocks ahead or back, or trying to figure out what time it really is.

Actually, neither time works well for me.  I seem to find myself in a perpetual "tummy time,"  getting hungry and tired in a circadian rhythm that is not controlled by clocks.  Having cats help.  I recently changed a Facebook 'job title" to cat herder.  In fact, one cannot herd cats.  One simply accomodates them as a staff member, catering to their needs and whims.  They come when called, if they are in the mood.  They find reasons to tear through the house at times when the clock indicates all should be asleep.  They do, essentially, what they want, when they want, and they eat and play and nap on "tummy time."  Guess I'm turning into a cat.

Except for patience.  Last week I ordered an easel.  A real, genuine, artist's studio easel.  It came by UPS, bless them.  Now, in five years this will be funny as the dickens, but not this week.  I was excited.  I was impatient.  I was expectant.  I was nervous.  I constantly scanned the tracking of the package to see exactly when this Blessed Artist's Studio Easel would grace my doorstep.  Oh, did I mention we had "weather"?  Seriously.  Snow.  Rain.  Sleet.  Snow.  Salt trucks.  State-wide snow emergency warnings.  Resultiing in -- trucks that did not roll and unforseen weather delays,  and, finally, "damaged in shipment."  After a week of waiting anxiously for the easel to arrive, it was sent back to the shipper.  A replacement should be here late in the week.

I am no longer impatient.  I am no longer nervous.  I am too tired to think about it, partially because I'm still on tummy time and the clocks aren't.

March 2, 2014


The weather is changing.  Today in the 60's, snow tonight, preceded by rain, freezing rain, sleet and DelDot trucks.  Tomorrow is definitely a day to stay home and putter in the studio-io.

I find myself continually drawn back to bird houses.  Specifically, there is one particular birdhouse I photographed over 15 years ago in a back yard in Bethany Beach, DE.  Those of you who are far away may not realize that Bethany Beach is a rather small community in the off-season.  But during the summer, the population swells to traffic jam proportions.  The ocean does that to people.

Anyway, Bethany, being such a small community has uncurbed alleys.  My husband and I were exploring one such quiet passageway, and saw this picturesque back yard with an amazing birdhouse.   It was a two-storey affair, with a triple-layer roof.  This birdhouse has featured in over 20 paintings.  Something about it I find so unique!   Someone took the time to construct a sturdy home for whatever passing birds might want to nest there.  Many species have very distinctive houses -- wrens, bluebirds, purple martins.  This particular house was not built for a specific bird, just any bird that found it comfortable.

I find myself remembering the starlings that built in an old purple martin house in our back yard.  I would hear them squawking and clattering for hours. "No, dear, the sofa goes THERE!  I think I prefer a south entrance -- we're moving!  This straw just doesn't match the drapes -- it's outta here!"  You get the jist.

Wind, weather, and one too many nor'easters have taken their toll.  We will retire that bird house this year.  Out trees are now large enough for the birds to nest in, so the martin house will not be missed.  But we will miss the annual spring decorating and the happy noises of our feathered neighbors raising their families.

I have not seen that alley birdhouse for years.  There is an indelible memory etched now in my mind. And like many memories, it changes with time.  Sometimes it's called "artistic license."  Other times it's simply selective memory.  Nice that we get to select the memories we keep!