Monday, January 24, 2011


27 January 2011

Palatka shop window.

Antique shop.

Lovely candy counter in the antique shop.

Everything in moderation, including moderation. -Oscar Wilde

Photos from the town of Palatka, where I am taking the oil painting class. Instructor wanted me to come to another class again this morning, but I feel I'm doing too much in general. He is trying to teach us to paint the way he does, but I said I want to find my own style, and he is very willing to work with me on that. He said, bring in some pictures of the kind of painting you like, and I'll guide you there. So generous is he. I told him I couldn't paint unless I was in a group, and he said, "Don't say that." The only way you get good at something is practice, practice, practice, and I hate to practice alone. He suggested putting up photos of people I like, playing music, and I thought those were good ideas. I don't tend to display photos of friends and family (makes me miss you all too much), but it might make sense to do that in the art studio.

Painter is putting in the indoor window sills and the baseboard today. A little more joint compound here and there, paint the floor, and then done. Carpenter will hopefully replace the door next week, but I can move in before the door is done. Have been finding shelving, chairs, cabinets at yard sales and on Freecycle so furnishing the place will not be a problem. Labor and materials is what's killing me, but it's turning out beautifully. I never would have guessed I'd have a freestanding art studio, or even want one.

Yesterday I went to what I thought would be a training to do pet therapy with hospice patients. I was the only one who showed up, however, so it was rescheduled. Extensive application, three referrences, a TB test, and a day long training required, and they would like a commitment of two times a month to visit patients. I think now it will be too much for me, as I am already doing the pet therapy with another group, going to nursing/rehab venues. But hospice has NO pet therapists in this area, and it's hard to say no, esp. since I've already indicated that I want to. But I think after I have my house/studio together, I'll feel more organized. I still feel like I am living in domestic chaos. Plus I want to spend more time on art. There's SO much to do here.

Monday Bindi and I went to a rehab center and visited with some other doggie therapist volunteers. I ended up laughing a lot with one of the patients as she told me about her dog Wolfy. She had a wonderful sense of humor. Her roommate was coloring huge pages of Disney female characters, Snow White, Cinderella, etc. and her daughter takes the colored pages and gives them to children who are in the hospital where she works. One man took delight is patting Bindi quite firmly on her back, which Bindi didn't seem to mind at all. Forty-five minutes is our limit. And we discovered a resident cat sitting on someone's bed. We didn't go in that room.

Art class on Tuesday last. Big rain was expected with tornado warnings so over half the class didn't show up. I didn't care, even tho it was a half hour drive. Instructor is going to give us some computer lessons on using a free downloadable Photoshop clone called Gimp (why in hell did they name it that?), which he says will allow one to manipulate a photograph before painting to add or subtract elements to create a better composition. As I arrived in town early, I went to City Cafe, which is a completely fun throwback to the 1950s with red vinyl and chrome seats, photos of James Dean and the Rat Pack and others, a jukebox, lots of tchotchkes from the era, and good food.

Temperature should be up in the 60s today.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

foggy morning

photo: Saint Augustine courtyard.

sun is shining. my head is foggy. up too late. late afternoon nap. Rimbaud.
"Just Kids," by Patti Smith. highly recommended. carpenter came yesterday. installed another large window in the studio. says he will be back tomorrow to do the last window. then, paint the inside. then, move in. oil painting class in Palatka. old Florida. good teacher. i have completely different style from everyone else. i call it "lean and loose."

another visit to another nursing home. i ask them all if they have had dogs. the ones who say yes begin to cry. they touch Bindi gently, with trembling hands. Bindi is quiet, perhaps a little frightened. allows all touches. i ask a woman how she is feeling. she says, not good, and begins to cry. i sit and hold her hand and we look into one another's eyes for the longest time. then longer. i say nothing, she says nothing. her eyes are so blue. she is content to hold my gaze. i finally say, "I love you." after some time she says, i have a new friend. i think she means someone in the home. here? I ask. you, she says.

a short manual for making a new friend:
1. ask how she is doing.
2. hold hands.
3. gaze into each other's eyes.
4. continue to gaze.
5. gaze more.
6. say "I love you."

i leave, shaken. i call T., tell him the story. he gets it, absolutely gets it. the perfect person to call. we both shed tears, across the miles. ah, miss you, T.

a friend comes from CT to visit. with her son. my first visitors. the kid watches tv, she and i stretch across my bed and talk of things deep and important. nothing better. i show them the city. they love it. they had been to disney-out of this-world. sitting on the front porch with the young boy, i ask him. what have you liked best about Florida so far? being here, he replies. being here, my mind silently repeats. disneyworld had been too much for him, too many people, the lines too long, too much going on. here, it is quiet, and i make his favorite dinner.

early december i go to visit my kids in the cold north. i get so hungry for them sometimes. the oldest, so smart and talented and beautiful. oldest boy, kind and funny, like his dad. the middle girl, a flower. the middle boy, sensuous, high energy. the two little ones, peas in a pod, love their small voices. the baby, so adored, with so many parents, learning words so fast and valiantly putting up with Bindi. i try to help out in small ways. become authoritarian with the kids. pick those coats/mittens/gloves/scarves up off the floor. now. take out of the trash. keep the noise down. i hope they didn't mind my direct ways.

the night before my birthday, i sent out an email to friends here to see if anyone wants to have birthday lunch with me the next day. amazingly, eight people respond yes and i have a fun spontaneous party planned 18 hours in advance. this is the right place to be.

on christmas I have two dinners with two groups of friends.

the rising full moon in december finds me at the beach with a friend as we watch the coral crescent ascend from the edge of the sea. as usual, another person, a young man, comes along and we get into a conversation about dogs. so common here, to converse with strangers as if one has known them a long time. i love that. so much less holding back than in the northeast. how stifled i was there, trying to fit in, going against my nature, going against what probably should be natural for most people, the communality of an intimate tribe.

carpenter just called. his today job got cancelled, he's on his way over to put in another window. YES! taking my art more seriously has moved the project along perhaps?