Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The lovely CONNECTED FARMSTEADS of New England

In 2002 I spent a few weeks in August wending my way slowly through Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. It was the one time in my life when I had no deadlines or time constraints. I was alone and in no hurry so I just drove the back roads and drank in the countryside. One of the lovely spots were I stayed in Maine was the Blueberry Hill Farm. It was my introduction to the connected farmsteads and I was fascinated by them.

I wish I had a better picture but you might be able to see what looks like a small addition to the left of the main house. That is the original cabin built in the 1800's. It was actually where my small bedroom was and it connects to the big house which in turn connects to two large barns.

These structures date back to the 19th century and there is a child’s verse that describes them perfectly: “Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn”. It is possible to walk from the main house (the parlor, dining area and bedrooms) through the “little” house (kitchen and wood shed) through the “back” house (privy and storage or workshop) to the barn without ever going outside. 

There are two theories for this connected arrangement. One theory is that a family could exist through the extreme winter snows without having to go outside to get to any of the buildings. The other premise holds that the thrifty New England farmer figured he could eliminate 3 walls by connecting the buildings!

I spent day after day on those New England back roads and every time that I spied a connected farm complex I would slow down or stop. Although it was August and a warm breeze caressed my cheek I would envision this same scene blanketed in snow. This gave me a feeling of snugness, safety and contentment.

Now, when I feel the need to escape from the rush and confusion of today I just bring back those memories and it never fails to slow me down.

Friday, June 21, 2019

A crystal ball into the future

While searching my blog entries today I came across this one that I posted in July of 2011. I repeat it word for word today because I can't get over how eerily apocalyptic it was and I repeat the last line … I pray it's not too late.

This is not my usual type of entry but bear with me … I am so fed up and frustrated that I just have to get this off my chest.

So many of us voted for change in 2008 and we were thrilled to have Obama elected. The first two years were a challenge but, little by little we could see progress. Maybe…just maybe… the powers that be would listen to the middle class … maybe we’d have a chance for survival.

And then came the mid-term elections and we, who had elected Obama, COMPLETELY LET HIM DOWN. We failed to come out in droves, like we did when he ran in 2008, and the result is what we have today … a completely divided Washington and a bunch of fanatical right wingers who tell us lies and are determined to undermine every single proposal put forth by the Democrats… or even their own more moderate party members.

Whatever happened to Statesmanship? When did compromise become a dirty word? We are now being held hostage by a completely self-absorbed bunch of Tea Party Republicans and we have NOONE TO BLAME BUT OURSELVES !

I have no idea how this fiasco will unfold but I hope that we’ve learned a powerful lesson...and I pray it's not too late.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Church Bulletin Board

These Church Bulletins were actually posted or announced in church services:

The sermon this morning: 'Jesus Walks on Water‘. The sermon tonight: ‘Searching for Jesus.'“

“Don’t let worry kill you off. Let the church help.”

“At the evening service tonight the sermon topic will be ‘What is Hell?’ Come early and listen to our choir practice.”

“Place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.”

“The ladies of the Church have cast off clothing of every kind. They may be seen in the basement on Friday afternoon.”

“Ladies Bible Study will be held Thursday morning at 10 am. All ladies are invited to lunch in the Fellowship Hall after the BS is done.”

The eighth-graders will be presenting Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the church basement Friday at 7 pm. The congregation is invited to attend this tragedy.”

Weight Watchers will meet at 7pm at the First Presbyterian Church. Please use large double door at the side entrance.”

The minister unveiled the church’s new campaign slogan last Sunday .
It reads… ‘I Upped My Pledge …Now Up Yours’. ”

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Norman Rockwell on LIFE

In 2007 I visited the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, his home town. It was a treat to see the original illustrations that he lovingly created for LIFE magazine for the years 1916 through 1942. There are those who will argue that Norman Rockwell paintings are not “great art” but I contend that his popularity is well deserved. He was a painter for, and of, the commonplace. He loved the ordinary people and he was very concerned with the big issues such as racism, poverty and social injustice and he put his paint brush where his interests lay. Here are a few of my favorites:

Sadly the Norman Rockwell lifestyle may be gone, if it ever really existed, (??), but his paintings will be with us forever.

Monday, June 10, 2019


This is a repeat from 2009 and some long time bloggers will remember Phillip who I quote here. He is no longer with us but I wanted to keep his words.

I wish I could say that this painting is an original by me but it’s actually a copy of one that I saw in an old magazine. I loved the colors, the subject and the design so I decided to use it in my living room.

The magazine didn’t give credit to the artist so I couldn’t ask for permission to reproduce it. I’m hoping that since I am not using it commercially that it will be OK. Also, I couldn’t photograph the picture straight on since I kept getting glare spots when I did.

What I thought might be of interest to some of you was how I transposed it to my wall. I actually used the old grid trick. I folded the original picture until it formed 24 small squares. Then it was easy to enlarge it to scale and then fill in the individual squares.

After I painted the picture directly on the wall I used a decorative molding to frame it and I was done.

As my blogger friend Phillip wrote to me: “It is interesting to paint on walls and furniture. The Canadian primitive artist, Maude Lewis painted all the surfaces of her shack she lived in. It has been preserved as a work of art.”

I had never heard of Maude Lewis and was fascinated by her story. I know that my “little shack” will never be preserved as a work of art but it’s lots of fun and it keeps me out of trouble !!

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

The prophetic words of poet Adrienne Rich

Adrienne Rich (1929 to 2012) was a poet, an activist and a feminist. The following poem, although written in 1991, perfectly describes to me the frustration, the shame and the sense of loss that I feel our country is experiencing today..


There’s a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off in to shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I’ve walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don’t be fooled,
this isn’t a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here, our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won’t tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods meeting the unmarked strip of light --
ghost-ridden crossroads, leaf mold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won’t tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times
like these to have you listen at all, It’s necessary
to talk about trees.”