No Sounds of Silence

No sounds of silence in this old house
when just past midnight—the patter of a mouse
sounds more like the boots of a lumberjack
tracing through the woods with a heavy backpack.

The clock tick tocks very self-aware
as if stationed robustly in a town square.
That is nothing but a slow drumroll
to the radiators’ hiss–bang–rock and roll.

For when the aging furnace kicks on
the cacophony is a conclusion foregone.
Nighttime timbers stretch and whine much as
seniors who crowd an all-you-can-eat food line.

Peaceful in its own rhythmic sway
this hullabaloo of farmhouse play.
For there is safe keeping in its song
of unquiet between midnight and dawn.

 

 

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The Poetry of Snow

The forecast calls for just a dusting in the northern region of our state, and roughly about six inches through the southern counties especially along the coast. WHEW! Another one bites the dust–snowstorms that is. So far through mid January 2019, enough rain has inundated our area as to cause some severe flooding, however no weather of consequence to cause “let’s clear out the bread, milk and chips in the supermarket aisles” type of forecast. Potential for snow measuring in the double digits has metered into dull winter rain. And for the first time in over six decades–I am relieved. Normally, I look forward to the swirling snow, its softening of the landscape’s edges and the quiet beauty and stillness a snow affords. Also, the adult in me enjoys the change of pace/let’s not go to work today/let’s bake cookies or make soup instead, knowing that for the duration of the storm–there’s no going out anyway. It has always been okay that shoveling snow (my car is not garaged) follows the day off. Recently however, the reality of lifting/pushing/scraping heavy wet snow off and around the car, porch and driveway is in fact very tiring. I am lucky to have machinery at the helm for the big push and cleaning, but there is still much hand-shoveling the tighter areas.

Which brings me to the point here–the wondrous child in me misses the excitement and forecasts of nature blowing and bending the atmosphere and the mind’s eye. I miss the big-kid who always enjoyed the day-after white-outs and slow return of “normal” traffic and daily schedules including bird life. I love the look of snow-covered evergreens and winter tree branches holding and shedding snow and hearing it softly fall. And I know that snow is important to the ecosystem and water supplies–a fact that is too often lost in the current meteorologists lingo until conditions reach critical proportions.

Perhaps it’s about the extreme precipitation and other weather lately that diminishes my desire for a storm or two. My memory still holds the view of one recent winter of shoveling a long path for my large dog to get to get to her relief area over and over. When you have pets that are used to the outdoors–there’s very little wiggle room or time for changing the routine. Still in all, falling snow is magical, represents a change of pace and creates lovely scenery. I never feel cold when shoveling or moving around. Frankly, the cold bothers me more on damp and windy snowless days. Who knows what the rest of the winter will bring here. In my mind though, a few inches of swirling snow now and again in January and February is a welcome friend.

~

a new pair of boots with cleats in the closet my younger self waits for snow

 

 

 

How Do You Do It Mabel?

Today I was introduced to a charming used book store appropriately named  the Old Book Shop. A fellow artist drove me to its location down a backroad past the lumber store near railroad tracks and housed in a nondescript square brick building. Upon entry, you are greeted by the scent of musty books lining tall wooden shelves along narrow aisles and wooden filing cabinets filled with postcards and sheet music dating back to the late 1800s. Welcome to old school bookstore heaven run by a couple of energetic and friendly seniors. Everything is neatly categorized, and there are framed and signed photos of by-gone B-list celebrities, scenes out of World War II and rural America. What an amazing find. Time passes without notice as tasty morsels of old newsprint and magazines tempt a slow perusal. I picked up a periodical called The Pansy dated June, 1892 and published monthly in Boston, MA… Inside were short stories/articles, woodcut prints and “special announcements” like this one:

It is said that Cardinal Manning left two messages into a phonograph, to be listened to by his friends after he was dead. He is the first one who is known to have used the wonderful invention for such a purpose; it no doubt it will be often so used in the future.

 

I also picked up a few music sheets including:

HOW-DO-YOU-DO-IT-MABEL-ON-TWENTY-DOLLARS-A-WEEK 
By Irving Berlin

As a professional gardener/farmer, I was also interested in the Farm Stock Journal, August 23, 1906 published in Rochester, NY for “ONE DOLLAR A YEAR.” Articles of interest: POTATO BUTTONS; CORNS AND TENDER FEET and THE BAT’S SIXTH SENSE. Another fun read is UNDER SUMMER SKIES with a seemingly unrelated bunch of information, however surely making full sense at that time.

The artwork is lovely in all the periodicals. This was a fun find in an unlikely local neighborhood. I will return, and if I can ever bring myself to take these poetic pieces of history apart–they will be collaged into new artwork.

 

Non-Acceptance vs Rejection

When entering a juried competition–there is a fine line between non-acceptance and rejection. As artists we all feel somewhat rejected when our submissions do not make the cut. I’ve always tried to take it less personally and frame it as an editorial decision that simply precludes or does not have enough room for my work. I have even used work that is turned down as an opportunity to re-evaluate and improve. Even so–there is a letdown period. Until the notice is finalized, there is always hope and vision for approval and welcome. Thankfully for moi, the letdown lasts only a few hours, and I’m on to something else.

I tried to look up other words for non-acceptance and they mirrored rejection: rebuff; exclusion; elimination; veto; pass (on); eschew; and my personal favorite: nix. I cannot imagine getting a letter passing on my work beginning with the statement:

“Dear So-and-So, thank you for submitting your work, however we are nixing your piece(s) at this time.” This would make me smile.

As a visual artist, (or in any field), there comes a time or opportunity along the journey to show your work. Not all artists choose to do so. I have been delighted to participate a few times in juried shows and hopefully will successfully participate in a few more. I am selective as to which shows to enter, always trying to aim higher, and as a consequence, my exclusion rate is also higher. As a poet, I have sent numerous poems to journals and experienced the same feedback and slight setbacks. In hindsight, my best work came from rewriting and sharpening the poetry that was “eschewed.” I was lucky in those pre-computer-era days to actually get comments that helped me grow my work enormously.

So today, I got nixed! The sad part though is that there was no letter of regret, however sugar-coated it might be, thus insinuating even for a short time, that there was actual regret of not choosing my work and that there just may be an acceptance next time.

until the final nay visions of grandeur or at least a crumb of regret

Tux and Tails

We have a cat at the farm named Hops, after the plant that is a better bitter in beer. He is quite the character–napper by day and hunter by night unless he decides to switch it up. He sleeps in our design/sales room that was once a chicken coop. Hops was rescued through the efforts of loving souls and now lives the “life of Riley” as we used to say. Don’t know who Riley was, but he must have lived a charmed life.

Anyway, I went for a stroll around the nursery fields on a sunny day not too long back with our farm dog, Lexi, and Hops. We three ambled slowly among rock and grass and brush up and down rows and around trees and shrubs that were just resting for the season. The sun felt warm and winter-satisfying. I watched as both canine and feline sniffed and peed and generally hung out with me. It was a lovely breath of fresh air and quiet conversation.

once again the beggar at my door in tux and tails

I Love Blue

Ensemble of Blue

Azure on the eggs in a robin’s nest.
Cornflower in the tipple of a meadow.
Delft on the rim of a porcelain cup.
Aqua in the lilt of a West Indian patois.
Sapphire in the song of a loon.
Slate on the wings of a heron.
Teal in the cry of a jay.
Denim on a rodeo cowboy’s ride.
Cobalt in the belly of a hail storm.
Cerulean in a tube of summer sky.
Navy on the stilettos of a drama queen.
Periwinkle in the giggle of a two-year old.
Turquoise on the finger of an elder.

Indigo in the lullaby between stars.

 

 

Pentimento

pentimento…regret is always a choice ~

A pentimento (plural pentimenti) is an alteration in a painting, evidenced by traces of previous work, showing that the artist has changed his or her mind as to the composition during the process of painting. The word is Italian for repentance, from the verb pentirsi, meaning to repent. Since it is my practice to work over much more  than traces of past paintings on the canvas–it would seem that I am very regretful for the failure of the original work. Hardly–and on the contrary, I look for used canvases and boards to paint over. A sterile and bright white blank surface often hinders my work. I love to work on borrowed art as long as I sand it down to simple traces of other artist’s paint. In fact, it’s like solving a puzzle to match a new concept to an old board of “borrowed” color and shapes. I am always grateful to repurpose these boards into new life. Some examples below: