Scattering Ashes


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I just got back from a 10 day trip to New England and back with my mom and S. As part of our trip, Mom and I decided that we were going to scatter some of my dad’s ashes in the same waters that we had scattered his parents in. My aunt and uncle and cousin (and her family) all live in Hyannis Port, MA just down the street from the pier, so we asked them to join us.

They didn’t currently have any boats in the water, so we just headed down to the end of the pier with our little baggie o’ Dad. My aunt had very sweetly picked up some roses so that we could sprinkle petals, too, and I love that she chose red – vibrant and cheerful like my dad had been.



We said a few words about who he had been, and I was blown away by something my uncle said. He said that, growing up, he had viewed the world as kind of a hostile place, and he’d battled through it accordingly. He said that it wasn’t until a few years ago that he’d realized what an act of courage it had been for my dad to remain so kind and loving. It was an excellent reminder to me that I want to be brave like that; to forgive the world for its cruelties and look for the joy and hope where it can be found. There’s so much beauty calling to us if we just pay attention. The trail of ashes and flowers washing away from us was so appropriate: life’s most painful and beautiful experiences mixing and mingling and leading us forward.


After we scattered some ashes at the pier, we walked down to the breakwater where we used to hide pennies when I was a kid. My mom and dad and I would walk as far down as we could manage over the haphazardly strewn rocks to hide the pennies, and when we’d return the next year, we’d hunt for the ones we’d left the year before in the unlikely event that they hadn’t been washed away by storms. And then we’d leave some more pennies in hopes that we’d either find them next year or give an unexpected surprise to fellow beach goers.



We sprinkled a few more ashes there, and hid a few more pennies, and, again, it reminded me to look for the unexpected joys hiding in plain sight.



Life will throw all kinds of obstacles our way. It’s our job to scramble over them and hunt for the little miracles tucked away, then leave some reminders for the people that follow behind us.


Dad, I wish you were still here so I could tell you that I’m paying attention and choosing to look for the light. #penniesfornick

Mondays With Muddy


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Here is the next segment of Beatrice Allen Page’s unpublished manuscript, Landscape with Figures:

“A discussion arose on the beach among a group of mothers as to whether it was possible to love one’s children equally or whether one could not help having a favorite. Most of the women insisted they gave each of their children the same amount of love although they loved each child differently. One or two, struggling to be honest, confessed they weren’t altogether impartial in their emotions even though they tried to be in their treatment, and then tried to rationalize their partiality. One of them said, for instance, that she loved the youngest of her three children most because he needed love more than the others. Another said that her second daughter was so obviously the apple of her father’s eye that she instinctively kept the balance by loving her first daughter more.

My glance happened to fall on Laura Palmer, who has five children but is so young-looking that if she wore her hair down her back, she’d look almost like a teenager. The youthful appearance is due in part to her fresh, unwrinkled skin and in part to a somewhat wide-eyed, ingenuous expression. In fact, ever since I met her, I have regarded her as somewhat naive, not in an irritating, but rather an appealing way.

She was following the discussion with an increasingly bewildered look on her face, and finally when someone said to her, ‘What about you, Laura?’ she burst out: ‘I just don’t know what you’re talking about! How can you parcel out love among your children? I love each and every one of my children with all my heart!’

It was a totally spontaneous remark. Clearly, she was not trying to impress anybody or make herself out to be the most loving mother there. She simply expressed what she felt, astonished that anything so obvious had to be stated. When someone teased her by asking how it was possible to give the whole pie to every child, she looked blank.

Her words, uttered so artlessly, were like a little flash of illumination for me. I suddenly saw how an apparent contradiction could be more true than a truth arrived at by reason, or could be true in another dimension, so to speak. I think that’s what is called non-Aristotelian logic but I’m not sure.”

Confessions of a Chauvinist Enabler


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Confession: when the tape came out of Donald Trump talking about kissing and grabbing women and getting away with it because he was famous, I wasn’t shocked. Not because I already assumed he did those things – though I did – but because, in my late teen to early adult years, that kind of talk was pretty prevalent. My family didn’t speak that way, and my dad branded himself as a feminist from my earliest years, but when I got to college, many of my guy friends just talked that way. No big deal.

I dated the same guy for most of my college years, and was often the only girl in the frat house or in the suite of rooms he and his friends shared, and was usually treated as just “one of the guys.” This meant that I was privy to their unfiltered discussions. Talk that objectified and denigrated women was just normal. And these were not bad guys. These were guys I actually really liked. And while it made me slightly uncomfortable on occasion, I normalized it because those kinds of conversations were so ubiquitous. I didn’t realize until later the damage that it was doing to my own psyche and sense of self-worth. They weren’t doing it to be mean. They weren’t trying to hurt me. And I sincerely believe that they would never have acted on those fantasies or actually assault women. They were just being braggarts and puffing up their chests and making light of sex and probably making themselves feel better in the times when they weren’t “getting any.” But words matter.

I’m ashamed to admit that I never once asked the guys to stop talking that way; that I didn’t realize at the time that I was hurting myself and my friends by staying silent, or worse, laughing along. I enabled that backward, chauvinistic thinking. I made it okay by silently condoning that kind of thinking and speech.

But I guarantee you that none of those guys would speak that way now. They have families, and jobs, and are good, decent, loving people. It was never their intent to hurt anyone back then, and as they’ve matured, so has their thinking.

So what is it about our society that teaches young men that that kind of talk is acceptable? Why do we continue to judge women based on their physical attractiveness and/or availability? It seems like it’s only gotten worse because of social media. We are sexualizing girls at younger and younger ages. There have been several high-profile rape cases which resulted in the perpetrator getting only a slap on the wrist. And now we’ve reached the point where an obliquely chauvinistic and thoughtless man is within a stone’s throw of the presidency.

I apologize that I didn’t speak up back then to my friends. I apologize that I wasn’t brave enough, or smart enough, to figure out how wrong it was. It won’t happen again.


Mondays With Muddy


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This is the next excerpt from Beatrice Allen Page’s unpublished manuscript, Landscape with Figures. This is another of my favorite segments. The sentence that begins “The all at once a fresh northwest breeze sprang up” just kills me. Such imaginative and lovely imagery. Sentences like that remind me of why I loved her so much:

“It was still foggy when I got up this morning but while I was having breakfast, tiny currents of air began to stir just enough to send a kind of ectoplasmic wraith floating past the windows now and then – wisps of fog of a different consistency than the quiescent mass of it. It was the beginning of the fog’s withdrawal. When I stepped out in the yard a little later I saw another indication, according to the old wives’ tale, that the fog would soon burn off: little gossamer webs scattered about on the grass.

I’d like to know what spins them. They’re not woven in traditional spider design like the ones hanging between the posts of the railings; they look like tiny doilies of unbelievably sheer chiffon flung lightly on the lawn. It occurred to me that perhaps they weren’t woven by anything, that the dew had simply arranged itself that way by some means incomprehensible to me. I touched a few experimentally. Instead of vanishing abruptly in a spatter of minute droplets as I had expected, they only stretched and tore, which seemed to indicate they were held together by some sort of tenuous filaments. For a second I even thought I could feel them against my finger but all I could see on my skin was a trace of dew.

By late morning the fog was pulling away slowly as if ceremoniously unveiling the blue sky. Then all at once a fresh northwest breeze sprang up, blowing a dazzling sun into view and the poplars burst into delicate clapping like elderly gentlewomen applauding with kid gloves on. The day turned into one of the most beautiful ones we’ve had all summer.

Nevertheless, some minor changes went on behind the scenes during these past few days of fog. An occasional sumac leaf, for instance, has turned scarlet. The woodbine trailing along the ground shows a twist of red now and again. For the first time I discover thick clusters of frosted berries hiding among the leaves of the bayberry bushes, although they must have been gradually developing for quite awhile, just as the days have been gradually growing shorter although I had not really noticed it until this evening when I suddenly realized it was dark before eight thirty.

Autumn is by no means ready to make her entrance but she is standing in the wings biding her time. One quarter of the year of grace I allowed myself will soon be over. It comes over me that I can’t indefinitely postpone deciding where I shall go when summer ends. I don’t think I could face again the loneliness of staying here by myself when everybody else has left.”

Commission Season


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Hello lovely readers and art lovers,

It’s that time of year again. What time of year? THAT time of year. Commission season. If you’ve been thinking of commissioning a painting for yourself or a loved one for the holidays, now is the time to place your order. I have a couple commissions that have already come in, and it takes me a couple months to finish most paintings, so the earlier you contact me, the better I’ll be able to accommodate requests. As an added incentive, I’m offering 10% off of commissions for anyone who orders within the next 2 weeks.

And don’t be afraid if your commission idea sounds bizarre. If your great aunt Ginny has an obsession with snickers bars, I am perfectly happy to paint one for her. I might judge her a little bit, but it’ll only be secretly in my own head.



Hurricane Matthew Is an Asshole


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Click on this link, then scroll down until you see the tweet from Derek Medlin. That was shot on the outside just outside our property where we’re building the haunt. Yes, the haunt looks like that, too. All the buildings are flooded, the fields and the woods and trail are washed out. We’ve gotten 17 inches of rain so far, and they’re projecting at least 10 more overnight. Sometimes there is not enough bourbon in the world.



Well, That Was…Different


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Just finished live painting at a wedding. In a room with no power. In a hurricane. White-knuckled it all the way to the ceremony 45 minutes away, passing numerous cars in the ditches on either side of the road. Pulled up to discover that the building where the event was being held (it was supposed to be outdoors, but that wasn’t obviously going to happen), had no power. Turned on the flashlight on my phone and climbed the 6 flights of stairs to the top floor 4 times to cart all my gear in, and set up by a window. Asked anyone and everyone who worked there if the lighting would be the same during the ceremony, i.e., nonexistent. They all said yes. So I painted in the background as best as I could see it. Two minutes before the ceremony, they brought our purple battery-powered floor lights and illuminated every visible surface in magenta, thus negating my entire painting. Thank fuck I’m a fast painter! Whipped up a new background just in time for the bride to walk down the aisle. A stroke of paint here, a stroke of paint there, and viola! A painting of the happy couple saying their vows.

Sorry for the crappy photo, but I was anxious to get out of there because one of the photographers said that they were going to shut down the road I needed to be on to get back home, so I hightailed it out of there before the painting was even dry.

wedding 10-8-16.jpg



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It’s been one of those weeks, and I’m about done with people. But I’m choosing to dance away the greys on this grey, grey day. I don’t know why I typed the word “grey” with an “e” when I much prefer it when it’s spelled with an “a.” I’m sure you care deeply. Again, it’s been one of those weeks. Favorite song of the day:

Mondays With Muddy


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Here is the next installment from Beatrice Allen Page’s unpublished manuscript, Landscape with Figures:

‘We’ve been muffled by fog for two days now and it shows no sign of burning off. This is considered just cause for complaint by almost everybody. Grievances are aired in the News Shop, the post office, the market, wherever two or more people happen to meet.

I, too, pretend to grumble so that I won’t be looked upon as one of those irritating people who always see a bright side to everything. Actually, I like the fog. I like the hush of it. I like the feeling of anonymity it gives me. I can be anyone or anything. Or I can imagine myself as invisible as Siegfried wearing his Tarnhelm. And because the landscape is partly hidden from view, I pretend when I go for a walk that I don’t know what I’m going to come upon next, what unexpected house or tree or turn in the road. Sometimes I really am surprised – the fog makes me see something long familiar in a different way, just as a picture does.

Walking over to the harbor this morning, I felt as if an ancient Chinese scroll were being unrolled before my eyes. Against the background of fog, the landscape was brushed in with light, deft strokes, like ink on silk.

Only the boats moored closest to the shore were visible. The fog had blotted out all reflections in the water, of course, and the sailboats looked as if they’d been pegged down by their masts to something solid.

When I got home I noticed a whole series of perfect spider webs hung between the posts of the railing on both sides of the front steps. They were so tenuous that I should probably not have seen them if the fog had not superimposed a visible design of moisture on the filaments. Oddly, there was neither a spider nor his hapless prey in any of them. Had the spiders just put out their nets like lobstermen setting out their traps and gone off to wait for a catch?’

YOUR Blogs and Tripe


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I know I have a lot of readers who are, themselves, bloggers. But a lot of you lurk, so I have yet to discover your awesomosity. If you’re a blogger and would like to introduce yourself to me and other readers, feel free to post a link in the comments section. And if you don’t have a blog but think there’s one I should know about, by all means, share that, too!

In the mean time, I will give you the thought that has been bothering me all morning: Why isn’t triple spelled with 2 p’s? Don’t you think it should be? Otherwise it looks like it should be pronounced “tripe-l,” and that’s just gross. Tripe should not be a thing. I mean, it should be a thing, because cows need to be able to digest their food (although 4 stomachs seems like overkill), but it shouldn’t be a thing that people eat.

Is it too early for bourbon?