Thursday, September 30, 2010

Looking at Mount Baker all day

"These mountain–Mount Baker and the Sisters and Shuksan, the Canadian Coastal and the Olympics on the peninsula–are surely the edge of the known and comprehended world. They are high. That they bear their own unimaginable masses and weathers aloft, holding them up in the sky for anyone to see plain, makes them, as Chesterson said of the Eucharist, only the more mysterious by their very visibility and absence of secrecy. They are the western rim of the real, if not considerably beyond it. If the Greeks looked at Mount Baker all day, their large and honest art would have broken, and they would have gone fishing, as these people do..."

(yet another Annie Dillard quote, from Holy the Firm, my favorite book of all time)

Soooo, right. This is where I am right now, exploring the Pacific Northwest, visiting family and friends, doing some reconnaissance for potential sabbatical-ness, and looking at Mount Baker all day. Photos will be coming soon.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Brookton's Market

Even though we're already nearing the end of September, it's not too late to show you what my botanical show at Brookton's Market looks like. Go check it out, and pick up some coffee and a few groceries while you're paintings will be up until October 3rd. I'm proud of my little town's beautiful market.

I'm putting the finishing touches on my packing for a quick escape to the Pacific Northwest, leaving in a few hours for grand adventures with family and friends. I figured now is the time to go, because when I get back the gloves are off for the early Christmas season. My first job when I get back is to finish my 2011 calendars...but I won't think about that right now.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I've been cooking a lot this week, inspired by all the great produce available right now in our fine town (did you know that Ithaca has been named one of the top five foodie towns by Bon Appetit magazine?). I also have a little more time this week it seems, almost caught up on my freelance work in preparation for heading out to the west coast next week. Anyway, I made this amazing salsa twice this week, and you should too:

1 pint tomatillos, husk removed and washed with warm water to get rid of the stickiness, cut in half
4-5 cloves garlic
1 jalepeno, halved and seeds removed
1 sweet red pepper

Roast the above ingredients at 400 for about 45 minutes. Mmmm...roasted garlic!

1 red onion, chopped
1 more sweet red pepper
juice of a lime
cilantro (optional if you are one of those people who think cilantro tastes like soap)

Add these ingredients to the roasted stuff above, and chop up finely in a food processor.

1 pint sungold tomatoes (oh so sweet and good), quartered
1 large regular tomato (I used a Brandywine, also sweet), chopped small
generous dash of salt

Mix everything together, and EAT!

Monday, September 13, 2010


Monday morning...early fall has arrived in Ithaca, it's chilly and damp and grey. Some of my crazy friends keep claiming that fall is their favorite season, but that is not an opinion I share...I'm sad to see the sun hide, and also generally dislike being cold. Basically this weather change makes me want to buy plane tickets...which I did, and I'm heading out to make a grand tour of Oregon and Washington a week from today!

I'm working on my calendar paintings, as mentioned a few posts ago. Here's another of them, an August afternoon sky.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Not really a happy ending

A couple of weekends ago, I got home from market and opened the chicken coop to check for eggs. There's a funny little ledge inside the door, which is hidden when the door is closed, where I often startle mice or see a little stash of mouse-hoarded corn. On that day, I surprised a small mouse with a missing tail, who was hovering over three just-born pink babies. I shut the door quickly, and decided that I should perhaps introduce a nice box for them to hide in from the omnivorous chickens.

In the process of introducing the box, with the best of intentions, I scared off the mother mouse. Hmmm. But I left the babies in the box for the evening. I checked back at night when I locked up the coop, and there was still no sign of the mother. So I decided to just move the babies back to the original ledge, and hope she would come back for them if they were where she had originally left them.

Kind of worried about it that night, since I was starting to feel responsible for messing with this situation, even with good intentions.

The next morning, heading out to Sunday market, there were only two babies left on the ledge. Did that mean she had come back for them? Or had one fallen out and died? When I got home again that afternoon, I ran right over and checked. No sign of any babies on the ledge...oh well, end of story. But then I saw one on the ground, where it had fallen...still shockingly alive 24 hours after my first "intervention." Ok ok, at this point I definitely felt responsible and decided to try to take care of it myself rather than let it die from my neglect.

My internal dialogue by now is going something like this: "Why am I doing this? I mean, I cheer for my cats when they kill mice! I don't WANT mice in my house! This is just an exercise in heartbreak anyway if I get attached, because chances are very slim it will survive. I don't WANT to do this, but I feel responsible and have a choice here. I should try to choose the chance of life over the certainty of death."

So I installed the wee baby in a Chinese takeout container, on some cloth, with a hot water bottle under the container to keep it warm. Got some eyedroppers. Looked up on the internet what to do. Did you know that you have to stroke a baby mouse with a wet q-tip to make it, umm, eliminate? (That mimics the mother mouse's licking, which it needs.) Fed it tiny drop by drop...all I had were half-and-half and eggs, mixed with water to thin it. Took it to a potluck because I needed to feed it. Was amazed every time I checked that it was still alive. This little thing was about the size of my first finger joint, and you could see through its skin....fragile, but surviving. I didn't get attached. Why was I doing this? All this care and work for a baby mouse of all things, this is ridiculous.

Maybe two days later I was out at the coop again, locking up in the evening. I spotted a nice fluffy mouse nest on top of the nesting boxes, and carefully poked it to see if it was occupied. It was!! So I decided, with great relief, to leave the baby I was attempting to care for in the nest and hope for the best. The next morning all seemed well, so I felt I had discharged my duty.

So in one way this is a happy ending. I feel good that I took care of my responsibility and made the choice to try to make a good ending out of a situation I had messed up. But in another way it's not...I got some new hens the next day, and in the process of getting them settled the mouse nest was destroyed. But that was ok, because it wasn't through my intervention or neglect.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Orion and Sycamore

My friend Brandon (who has very cool tattoos) just emailed some photos to me of my mannequins. I painted these several years ago, salvaged from old store displays...experimenting with using the form as a canvas for landscape.