Thursday, October 29, 2020

Cards and Calendars

OOOH! EXCITING!!! I had calendars and cards made from my bird paintings over this year, and they arrived this week. They're really wonderful, if I do say so myself - and I do! 

It's very different for me to see my pieces printed, and to see a bunch of them all together. I make them one at a time, and by and large, they fly away regularly. I rarely see them together, unless one of my collectors sends me a photo. 

So this is very exciting! 

The calendars - I had 50 made - are $20 each plus $2 shipping, if I have to ship. The cards are $10 for a group of six (with envelopes), plus $2 shipping. If you're here, and you pick them up, no shipping. 

To get yours, please email me at


Help the Twain House

MY BROTHER, RAND COOPER, is a big supporter of the Mark Twain House. 

Friday, Nov. 6, Rand will emcee a gala, involving an auction of some way cool stuff. He will be introducing David Baldacci, John Grisham, Jodi Picoult and others, and also introducing live performances by Brad Paisley and Jimmy Buffett!

Some of the items you can bid on include 
  • Having a character named for you in an upcoming David Baldacci novel (!!!)
  • Participate in a virtual meet and greet with NASCAR driver Corey Lajoie
  • A first edition of "Huckleberry Finn," or... 
  • A pet portrait by ME! 

To find out more about the Mark Twain House, click here, or go to



"Life beats down and crushes the soul, and art reminds you that you have one." 

- Stella Adler

Monday, October 26, 2020

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse / Oil on black canvas / 4x4 / $38 including shipping 


I HAD A ROUGH TIME last week, and it took me by surprise. 

I need a new laptop, and really want to see Peter's big desktop computer be gone. It took me a year to come to terms with that last fact, but I had. I'd looked for someone, anyone, who would want it, but though it was big and powerful and clear and bright, it was old, and nobody wanted it. So I decided to trade it in, to cut the price of my new laptop a little. 

I have backed up all the files (or at least, I believe I have), and I knew I wanted to cleanse the hard drive before I sent the computer off for credit. So I started the process, and as I sat there and watched it delete 14,000 files, my heart broke again. It felt like I was deleting Peter. Even though it was files, even though I'd backed them up, it still left me weak and weeping. All his art, all his writing, all his funny ideas and photoshopped pictures, all of it gone, in a long blink.

I called my counselor and she helped. Thinking about it and understanding it also helped. And I know there will be more moments like this, more surprise detours into the land of sorrow. I imagine they will continue to take me unawares. But I will get through. 

Dog of the Day

DR. COOPER AND I are starting dog school in a couple hours. This morning on our walk, we practiced with the nose leash. Doc didn't love it, but he tolerated it, sort of like all of us with our masks. 

He's a much better behaved dog now than he was a year ago, rarely snapping at anyone unless they have something in their hands or they are a golf cart or a truck with a trailer. Or another dog. And this last issue is the one I hope to solve at dog school. I will report back. 


From "The Weighing"

So few grains of happiness
measured against all the dark
and still the scales balance. 

The world asks of us 
only the strength we have and we give it. 
Then it asks more, and we give it. 

- Jane Hirshfield

Thanks to my friend Heather MacLeod for sending me this. If you want to read the whole poem, please click here.

 from Jane Hirshfield’s splendid poem “The Weighing”:

So few grains of happiness
measured against all the dark
and still the scales balance.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Egret in a Tree

Egret in a Tree / oil on canvas / 4x12 / $88, including shipping

I WONDER, EVERY YEAR, about the purpose of fruit flies. Every fall, they show up, bothersome and difficult to control. They seem to come out of nowhere. They seem to have no reason for being. I can't imagine that they make anything better. 

I have the identical thoughts, every election time, about political TV ads. 

Dog of the Day

I hope this plays. I will also load it on YouTube, so click HERE if you can't play it right from the blog. Every morning on the walk, we take the dogs to the ball park, which is also sort of a dog park. Lulu, amazing, beautiful Lulu, races around the perimeter, just flying! Sometimes Doc goes with her, but lately, he's been staying in the infield and playing with Koko. 


"Color is my daylong obsession, joy and torment." 

- Claude Monet

Monday, October 19, 2020

Eastern Mockingbird

 Eastern Mockingbird / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68


YESTERDAY AFTERNOON, I cheered on the sidelines of a neighborhood bocce game, on Wachapreague's new bocce court, over by the firehouse. 

I have no interest in bocce, but it was Jeannie's birthday, and I like Jeannie, and also most of the Wachapreague women (Wachawomen) who participate in these bocce things. And it was a beautiful October day, with golden sunshine and that particular sweet warmth that seems to come only on the heels of a crisp morning. 

And I knew that my friend Liesl - Our Favorite Austrian - would be there. I had a pleasant time, chatting with Liesl and the girls, and as I walked home, I thought about how instrumental she has been in my healing after Peter's death. 

She was one of the first to come by, in those early, awful days. She came with another neighbor, Anne, and they didn't insist on coming in, just stood on the doorstep and told me how sorry they were, gave me a pretty bag, and went away. In the bag was a sympathy card, a bag of chocolates and a bag of dog treats that instantly became my gang's favorite. 

In time, Liesl began to visit, walking into the house, completely unafraid, even though at that point, the dogs were still wild and undisciplined, and Doc responded to his fear of everything by snarling and snapping at people. 

She offered to help with them, and to my amazement, and out of necessity, I agreed to let her help. 

Early in the winter - and it was this that I remembered yesterday - she invited me and a few others to her house for dinner. 

To back up a little, a thing that happened after Peter's death was that I really couldn't see people. For weeks after he died, I didn't let anybody in the house. I drove to Maryland to do my grocery shopping, so that I wouldn't run into anyone I knew. I avoided the post office for so long that the postmistress, a truly kind person, called and asked if I would like her to bring me my mail. I said no, and she volunteered to stay late one day so I could come over after the post office closed, and get my mail, cutting down on the chance of running into anyone. 

I don't understand the mechanisms of my need to see no one. I just knew that I couldn't, and that especially, I couldn't run into people unprepared. 

Little by little, I came out of it, and so, in the winter, I agreed to go to supper at Liesl's. But as the day approached, I realized I couldn't. I could not sit at a table and make conversation with several people I knew only slightly - and, crying, I called her and told her. 

She was as kind as could be, and insisted that I still come - but she would uninvite the others, who all were neighbors, and would understand. And so she did, and so I did. 

I had known Liesl mostly from seeing her walking. She walked pretty much every day, as far as I could tell, sometimes with people, sometimes with people's dogs, sometimes alone - but her walking was a constant. I would admire her, straight and slim, striding - always with very good posture - through town. 

When she asked if I would like to walk with her and the dogs, I said yes, and that, as much as anything, has changed my life, and helped speed and strengthen my recovery. 

We have walked nearly every morning. The dogs have learned some manners, and have started to be socialized. The walks have brought me daily exercise, and fresh air, and have helped me start to be socialized again. They give me a way to start every day. A plan, a task, something regular and manageable. 

They have brought me a friendship, too, which is perhaps the most valuable. Liesl is a good listener, an interesting person, and she makes me laugh. She is an inspiration, too, being helpful to people and animals and asking nothing in return. And she is 80! Often on our walks, I am out of breath and hurrying to catch up, and Our Favorite Austrian is just there, striding along, looking at this or that, laughing at the dogs, enjoying the morning. 

Here is Liesl in the springtime, with Lulu and Koko. We walk three dogs most days, 
and Liesl always takes two. 


Grace Note

I Didn't Go to Church Today

I didn't go to church today
I trust the Lord to understand
The surf was swirling blue and white
The children swirling on the sand.
He knows, He knows how brief my stay,
How brief this stay of summer weather,
He knows when I am said and done
We'll have plenty of time together.

- Ogden Nash

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Sandpiper in a Clam Shell

Sandpiper in a Shell / Oil on gessoed clam shell / about 6x4 / $68 including shipping


A FEW WEEKS AGO, I went out to walk the dogs in the morning and found my Mexican sunflower plant simply flattened. A storm had blown in the night before, and it looked as though a downdraft - the kind that, in larger events, bring down planes - had hit directly on my pretty plant. 

A later inspection found that the center of the plant was hollow and dried out, probably because of drought and wind earlier in the year, and maybe overwatering, which seems to be my particular plant-related demon of the moment. 

Last week, I heard the something falling, and thought that maybe the floor had actually fallen in somewhere in the house. I looked in every room, and the floors were OK. (Charlie is working on them, and making progress. He has assured me that I won't fall through.)

Later, I found that half of a very old dogwood - one that I knew was on the way out - had broken off, just like that. Inside the tree, the heart was hollow, diseased. 

The metaphorical significance of all this keeps hitting me, though I am not exactly sure what to make of it. I choose optimism, believing that I am being shown that even though the foundation is rotten, even if the heart is sick and sad and broken, even then, there is hope. 

The house is not falling down. The Mexican sunflowers have continued to bloom. The dogwood probably has another few springtimes. And so, maybe I'm being shown that I will be OK, too. 

A Note on This Painting

THE PAINTING ABOVE IS AN EXPERIMENT. I don't know how you will display it. I think you might be able to hang it with those Commando sticky hanger things. A plate hanger might work? A small easel? 

If you buy it, I would not advise using it as a place to store things, like keys or earrings or paperclips. I don't think the paint would hold up to use like that. 

All that being said, if you buy it and you're interested in seeing what happens, go ahead and store coins or thumbtacks or whatever in it! Just remember that it's oil paints, not ceramics. 

A Last Thought

"There was nowhere to go but everywhere." 

- Jack Kerouac

Thursday, October 15, 2020


Cardinal / Oil on black canvas / 8x10 / $120 including shipping


DUSK COMES EARLY these days, a thin blue that sinks into orange near the horizon. 

Dawn comes later and later, the lightest purple today, with wisps of brighter clouds just above the treetops. 

The afternoons stretch into a joy of yellow sunlight, the rays low in the sky and warm. It is the perfect time to live here, along the Atlantic Ocean. The summer visitors are gone, and we who live here have the golden marsh, the golden sun, the golden light of October all to ourselves. 

My flowers are still blooming, some - gardenias among them - for the third time this year. There is no traffic; the dogs and Liesl and I walk in the middle of the streets. Cats rest, undisturbed, on sunny front stoops. Windows are open, and I hear someone mowing and smell the sweet scent of grass, for probably one of the last times of the summer. 

Surely, winter will come, with its gray sky and its bleak thoughts. But for now, the days are bright and warm and short enough to be treasured. 

A Last Thought

"Autumn... the year's last, loveliest smile." 

- William Cullen Bryant

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Crow in a Tree


Crow in a Tree /oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68, including shipping

this crow has flown! 

I'VE HAD TROUBLE READING since Peter died. Well, even before "trouble reading," I've had trouble picking up, starting or staying with normal-sized books. 

After Peter died, I gave away his mammoth World War II tomes, his collection of books about the Vikings, his huge library of giant books on poker. Sometimes I teased him that he bought books by weight - the bigger and heavier they were, the more he wanted them. 

He died and I couldn't even open books. Eventually, I began to be able to open slim volumes. A friend lent me her Winnie-the-Pooh books and they started me reading again. 

Poetry pulled at me, and I could handle poems, and books of poetry, in much the same way that I could handle bird paintings. These things were small and manageable. I could see the end from the beginning, and that felt important. That felt like a lifeline.

This weekend, I borrowed a small book - "Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart " by Gordon Livingston. Its subtitle is "Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now." Yes, pop psychology/philosophy, I know. It is small, and fascinating. 

Here is a thought I encountered that got me thinking this morning, and which I wanted to share: "The three components of happiness are something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to." 

And I guess that encapsulates my "A Last Thought," too. 

Dog of the Day

Last week, Doc decided that I was sad and needed a toy.