Monday, September 28, 2020

Hummer by Orange Flowers

 Hummer by Orange Flowers / oil on black canvas / 5x7, unframed / $68 including shipping

This bird has flown!

HERE ARE SOME FUN FACTS about hummingbirds, from 

  • They are the smallest migrating bird, but don't migrate in flocks. Typically, a hummer will travel alone for up to 500 miles at a stretch.  
  • The name comes from the humming noise their wings make.
  • They're the only birds that can fly backwards.
  • Hummingbirds have no sense of smell, but have great color vision. Different varieties prefer different colored flowers. The ruby-throated hummer likes orange or red flowers best - but red dye should not be used in nectar as it could harm the birds. Instead, plant naturally red or orange flowers or use feeders that have red coloring in their structure.
  • Your average hummingbird weighs less than a nickel. 
  • They use their legs only for perching and moving sideways on a perch. They can't walk or hop. 
  • A hummer drinks from a feeder by moving its tongue in and out - about 13 times a second. That hummer can drink double its body weight in a day. 
  • The female typically lays two eggs only. They're about the size of jellybeans, and have been found in nests smaller than a half-dollar. Some varieties, like the black-chinned hummingbird, make nests with plant down, spider silk or other materials that can expand as their babies grow. 
  • A group of hummers can be referred to as a flock, a bouquet, a glittering, a hover, a shimmer or a tune.
  • There are more than 330 species of hummingbirds in North and South America! 

For more, see


A Last Thought 

"If you have talent, use it in every which way possible. Do not hoard it. Do not dole it out like a miser. Spend it lavishly like a millionaire intent on going broke." 

- Brenda Francis

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Great Blue Heron


Great Blue Heron / Oil on black canvas / 4x12 / $88 including shipping


BENEATH THE FLOOR of my house, the beams and joists are crumbling. 

I found out a few months ago that this was happening, and I thought that the work I had had done had fixed it. But part of the living room floor started sagging when I stepped on it, and it turns out that the issue is far worse than I'd thought. 

The major load-bearing beams of the house need to be replaced, as do most of the rest of the joists and possibly even the sills. Ugh. 

For about a year and a half before Peter died, I had made a practice of being grateful. "In every thing, give thanks," is what I had aimed - and still aim - to do. At the beginning, it felt impossible, but I found ways. Saw glimmers of a new way to live. I lost the thread for a while after Peter died, but I have become grateful for many, many things about his death, including that it was as fast as it was. For me, perhaps, that was worse - but maybe not? Certainly for him, it was better than any lingering, awful demise. 

I am grateful that the house hasn't fallen down, and that I haven't fallen through the floor. I am grateful that I have the money to fix it, though it was money I was counting on having to live on. But I have some Social Security, and some savings even after I pay for all of this, and I am selling paintings. I have great faith that I will be OK. And I am grateful for that. 

After all, this heron doesn't know what the future brings, and he doesn't let it worry him. He just gets out there and goes to work. And that's what I shall do, too. 

A Last Thought

"Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks. The the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle."

- Philiphs Brooks

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Kingfisher on Branch

Kingfisher on Branch / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68, including shipping


I'VE OFTEN WISHED that I had just a little of the clean-house type of OCD that several of my friends have. Their homes are always sparkling. The downside is that messiness is a truly troubling stress for them, and one that takes a psychic and spiritual toll. But their houses always look great - and sometimes I think it would be worth the tradeoff. 

Recently, I've come to realize that in addition to being not talented at house-cleaning, and not really interested in it, I'm a little fascinated by the progression of dust and dog hair on surfaces in my house. 

There are places in the house where dog hair, particularly, collects. It must have something to do with the architecture of the house and the traffic patterns and the way the breeze comes through. I'm sure all of you with pets have places like this in your houses, spots where there is always, always dog hair. I sweep or vacuum or wipe with a paper towel, and 20 minutes later, dog hair. 

A friend gave me a pretty yellow chair with curved wooden legs, and I put it where Peter's couch used to stand, in the corner of the living room. The dog hair used to collect under his couch, but you couldn't see it, because the skirt of the couch cover came down to the floor. 

Now, there's only bare floor, and I find myself watching with fascination as the dog hair piles up beneath the chair, layer by layer. I left it for a couple weeks recently, just to see what would happen, and I ended up with a sort of pelt of hair beneath the yellow chair. It was wonderfully rewarding to clean it up! 

A Last Thought

"Tides are like politics. They come and go with a great deal of fuss and noise, but inevitably they leave the beach just as they found it. On those few occasions when major change does occur, 
it is rarely good news." 

- Jack Mcdevitt

Monday, September 21, 2020


Flicker / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68, including shipping!

this bird has flown! 

TODAY WAS A BUSY DAY in Wachapreague. Dredging that has gone on for months has finished, and today, cranes and flatbed trucks showed up to haul the dredging equipment and pipes away. 

This excitement was amplified by the fact of an extremely high tide, which washed over the marsh, and over Atlantic Avenue, and over the docks. The dredging-exit men ended up standing in water pretty much the whole time they were working. 

My friend Carol is visiting again, and we were watching for the high tide. Lots of folks in town were. People were out walking and driving, looking at the water being where it shouldn't be. 

Peter and I always went out to see this stuff, and he would have loved today's sights especially. 

The photograph above is actually from Sunday. The tide was so high it covered the dock! 
Below, the dredging operation 

A Last Thought 

"The great tides and currents which engulf the rest of men 
do not turn aside in their course and pass the judges by." 

- Benjamin Cardozo

Sunday, September 20, 2020



Barbet / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68 including shipping

AUTUMN MOVED IN on Saturday, and just like that, summer is over. The south wind has become a north wind. The garden seems to be done. Birds are flocking up, and already, some are gone. 

The summer weekenders seem to be not interested in Wachapreague any more, in spite of the covid and the work-from-home mentality. I guess this is not home to them, any more than it is to the birds. 

But I have new chairs for the back yard, and the lawn guy has fixed the fallen branch that had crashed over and through the fence. I've found my long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and am painting with renewed vigor. 

I love the fall, and always have. Peter did, too. He is all that is missing. 

Dressed for the season, in what my friend Kevin's mother would call three "fancies." 

A Final Thought


We mourn the broken things, chair legs
wrenched from their seats, chipped plates, 
the threadbare clothes. We work the magic
of glue, drive the nails, mend the holes.
We save what we can, melt small pieces
of soap, gather fallen pecans, keep neck bones
for soup. Beating rugs against the house,
we watch dust, lit like stars, spreading
across the yard. Late afternoon, we draw
the blinds to cool the rooms, drive the bugs
out. My mother irons, singing, lost in reverie.
I mark the pages of a mail-order catalog,
listen for passing cars. All day we watch
for the mail, some news from a distant place. 

- Natasha Tretheway

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Two Waders

 Two Waders / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68 including shipping 


A FRIEND IS TRAVELING the country, and sent a photo of a lake near Glacier National Park, and it made me remember traveling with Peter and seeing that glacial water for the first time. It is an astonishing and very particular color, a thin and light turquoise, as in the photo below. 

According to NASA, the color happens because the glaciers, as they move and grind up the earth over the millenia, create something called glacier flour, a fine powder of silt and clay. When the glacier melts, the glacial flour is so fine that it  hangs suspended in the water. 

When sunlight hits this water, these particles absorb the purples and indigos, the colors with the shortest wavelengths. The water itself absorbs the longer wavelengths, the oranges, reds and yellows. The blues and greens are left, and that's what we see in these lakes and ponds. I think that the absence of any vegetation also adds to the luminescence. 

I remember, also, stopping by streams in northern Idaho and southern Canada, and being amazed that water that looked like it was 6 inches deep was often 3 or 4 feet deep. It was so pure and clear that you saw straight through. No particulate matter. No algae. And it was cold! 

Peter knew so much. He knew all of this, and he knew more. He knew about glaciers and the history of the Rocky Mountains, and who settled the land here and there, and fought over it, and why. He knew the dry and dull stuff, and the interesting stuff, too, and his knowledge enriched our travels and my mind and heart, as well. 


A Last Thought

Ashes of Life

Love has gone and left me and the days are all alike;
Eat I must, and sleep I will -- and would that night were here!
But ah! -- to lie awake and hear the slow hours strike! 
Would that it were day again! -- with twilight near! 

Love has gone and left me and I don't know what to do;
This or that or what you will is all the same to me;
But all the things that I begin I leave before I'm through, --
There's little use in anything as far as I can see. 

Love has gone and left me, -- and the neighbors knock and borrow,
And life goes on forever like the gnawing of a mouse, --
And to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow and to-morrow
There's this little street and this little house. 

- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Monday, September 14, 2020


Pelican / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68 including shipping


IN THE MORNING, the sky is the exact blue that it was on 9/11, 19 years ago last week. It is an  arcing blue, between cerulean and turquoise, tender, not rich, not deep, not thin or fragile. A distinct blue that I will always think of as 9/11 blue. 

That day, on a television that a reporter brought into the small Oxford, Maine, office of the Lewiston Sun Journal, I watched as the planes and the buildings exploded and fell beneath that inescapably blue sky. After we had put out two papers, an afternoon edition for the day and the paper for the 12th, I drove home to Peter. 

On the way, I watched a bulky bearded man get out of his truck and cross the yard in front of his trailer, heading for the door. He held the hand of his small daughter and talked to her as they walked, and she looked at him with love that I could see, in the deep-blue shadows of the pines in their small yard. 


A Last Thought

Click here to hear a marvelous conversation with poet Mary Oliver, from the radio show "On Being."  (

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Blue Jay

 Blue Jay / oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68 including shipping

SATURDAY WAS MY MOTHER'S BIRTHDAY, and I have thought about her even more than usual these past few days. 

And in this thinking, I've come to realize how the quality of her love defined her, and set her apart from nearly everyone else I've known in my life. My mother loved fiercely, courageously, and entirely. When she loved - and she did it easily though not indiscriminately - she loved with total abandon, and total lack of restrictions or conditions. 

She did this even though she knew that sooner or later, love would most likely end in pain. Friends would die. People would leave. Pets would pass away. 

Even in the small things, she loved with passion, though she knew that restaurants would disappoint, gardens would wilt and dry, books would end, cars would finally be unfixable. 

Love would turn to sadness or hurt or disappointment, nearly every time - but my mother loved in the face of all that, and never timidly. Never with a thought to protecting herself, or saving her heart from breaking.

I hope every day to love with at least some of the spirit and the generosity that marked my mother's heart, and to remember her with joy and, always, with gratitude. 


A Last Thought

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

- Wendell Berry

Tuesday, September 8, 2020


Egret / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68 including shipping

This bird has flown! 

AT HOME THESE MANY MONTHS, I think of what I am not seeing. I imagine that azaleas glorified the woods near Richmond in May, and that springtime dogwoods blossomed, bright angels in the dark groves of western Virginia.

I imagine that cornflowers sang their summer songs at the edges of the roads in Pennsylvania, and that in July, hydrangeas shone blue and pink in the shady gardens of Rhode Island. 

I imagine that all my friends and all the people who usually go to the shows are safe at home, maybe a little bored, maybe a little stressed, maybe digging in their gardens and planting their own landscapes. 

I imagine that the summer has gone on, with cats sleeping in the sun on front stoops, and children learning to ride bicycles on quiet, dead-end roads. With skiers dreaming of winter, and homeowners wondering how the lawn could look greener and more lush, and everyone enjoying the sweetest peaches in years.

I imagine that even now, the West is alight with the brilliance of aspens and cottonwoods, blazing in yellow and gold along the silvery rivers and the fields of soft green sage. And in Wisdom, Montana, I imagine the snow is already shining on the mountains, and maybe even on the streets at night. 

I imagine that soon, the leaves in Maine will start to turn yellow and red, and fall from the branches. The ground will harden, the birds will fly south, and soon enough, the snow will fall there, too. 

I imagine, from the quiet safety of my little house, that the world is going on, more or less unchanged, without me. 

A Last Thought


There's the thing I shouldn't do
and yet, and now I have
the rest of the day to make up for, not
undo, that can't be done
but next time, 
think more calmly,
breathe, says here's a new
morning, morning,
(though why would that 
work, it isn't even
hidden, hear it in there,
more, more, 

- Lia Purpura

Sunday, September 6, 2020


Gulls / Oil on black canvas / 8x10 / $88 including shipping

I'VE PROPPED OPEN THE BACK DOOR this morning and the dogs are celebrating by running in and out, just because they can. 

It's the first cool morning of the summer, and I am enjoying feeling the chilly air wash in. There are not many days in which I can prop the door open. Not many days in which the temperature is right and the bug quotient is right. So I celebrate with the dogs. 

It's 61 degrees and I am dressed for our walk in shorts and a T-shirt. I know I will be cold, but I haven't been cold for so long that it feels like a luxury. I will have all fall and all winter to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts, so I shall sail through the open door and continue the celebration a little as I shiver. 
A Last Thought

September Tomatoes

The whiskey stink of rot has settled
in the garden, and a burst of fruit flies rises
when I touch the dying tomato plants.
Still, the claws of tiny yellow blossoms
flail in the air as I pull the vines up by the roots
and toss them in the compost.
It feels cruel. Something in me isn't ready
to let go of summer so easily. To destroy
what I've carefully cultivated all these months.
Those pale flowers might still have time to fruit.
My great-grandmother sang with the girls of her village
as they pulled the flax. Songs so old
and so tied to the season that the very sound
seemed to turn the weather.
- Karina Borowicz

Friday, September 4, 2020

Angels Among Us

Angels Among Us / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68 unframed


LAST WEEK, I RECEIVED an email from a  jeweler friend (Hillary Burkett, whose website is announcing that she was holding a Labor Day sale. 

What a great idea! 

I sent her a note, thanking her for spurring me on, and she told me that she'd received an email the day before from an artist friend of hers, announcing a Labor Day sale, and so she, Hillary, had done the same thing, decided, on the fly, to hold a Labor Day sale. 

So there was Angel No. 1. 

Angel No. 2 was all of you, who got online and bought paintings from me. My down-and-dirty one-day Labor Day sale was a big success! Thank you. 

Angel No. 3 was a couple who are very dear to me, who, out of the blue, sent me a check for $1,000 to help me pay for the $6,000 heat/AC unit, which I had to replace last week. 

Angel No. 4 got my son-in-law Paul to have a stress test with a cardiac camera somehow looking at his heart. Turns out he has a big blockage, and is scheduled for a cardiac catheterization and stent procedure on Monday. They found the problem before the problem found him, and I am thankful. 

Angel No. 5 is my galleries, many of which are selling my art like it's going out of style. I couldn't be happier or more grateful. 

Last and most, Angel No. 6 is my family and friends, all of you who support me with your love and kindness, your visits and phone calls and cards and letters, your help and laughter and walks with the dogs - and most of all, with your belief in me. Two of the most prominent members of this group, Mom and Peter,  are gone, but I know they are with me, maybe one on each shoulder. 

Yes, I have had a terrible loss and a bleak, difficult, depressing year. But we all have had a difficult year, and we are getting through it together. I am grateful for all the angels, for my higher power, and for the good fortune I have had throughout my life. 

My angels help me daily, and inspire me to be a better person, more generous, kinder, more forgiving - and remind me to be grateful every day. 

Second Friday

I AM SOMEWHAT AMAZED that we are already the second Friday in September, but apparently, we are. And that's important, because I'm the featured artist at Red Queen Gallery, during Onancock's Second Friday walk. It's Sept. 11 (gulp), from 4-7 p.m., at the Red Queen, 57 Market St., Onancock, here on the Eastern Shore.

Some of my art at the Red Queen
A Last Thought

300 Goats

In icy fields.
Is water flowing in the tank?
Will they huddle together, warm bodies pressing?
(Is it the year of the goat or the sheep?
Scholars debating Chinese zodiac,
follower or leader.)
O lead them to a warm corner,
little ones toward bulkier bodies.
Lead them to the brush, which cuts the icy wind.
Another frigid night swooping down -
Aren't you worried about them? I ask my friend,
who lives by herself on the ranch of goats,
far from here near the town of Ozona.
She shrugs, "Not really,
they know what to do. They're goats."

- Naomi Shihab Nye

Thursday, September 3, 2020

One Good Tern

One Good Tern / Oil on black canvas /  5x7 / $68 including shipping


THESE DAYS, I FIND MYSELF wondering about white privilege and how I exhibit it. About whether I am racist. Whether I, as a white person - and particularly a white person in the South - am blind to racism. 

While I don't think that I am racist, I do recognize that I have always felt more or less apart from people of color. I never heard the term "white privilege" until a couple months ago, though I am certainly a full-blown example of it.

I grew up well-off in a mostly white town, and went to majority-white schools. I've had a few black friends over the years, mostly school and work friendships that pretty much ended when life and jobs separated us - the same as most of my school and work friendships with white people. 

As an adult, I've lived in several black neighborhoods, and never thought twice about moving in. In one, I was memorably the butt of much laughter at my reaction to chitterlings (ick) shared with me by one of my black neighbors. Frankly, I had the same response to turnip greens shared with me by a white neighbor here. 

I admit to being fearful when I encounter groups of black male teenagers - but I am just as fearful when I encounter groups of white male teenagers. 

I've painted people of color, black and brown, and have sold paintings to people of all shades. One of my grandsons is half-black, and his son, my great-grandson, is, as well.

Here in majority-white Wachapreague, John, who is half of the public works department, is black, and calls me "Miss Carrie," or he did, until Peter died. Now, he calls me "Carrie." I don't know John's last name - but I don't know JD's last name, either. He is white, and is the other half of the department. He has always called me "Carrie."

Yesterday, I heard an African-American man in the post office talking about a change of address form, and I found that I wanted to barge into the conversation and introduce myself and welcome him - but I thought that might be disrespectful. And I couldn't tell from the part of the conversation I heard if he were coming to town or leaving.

I realized later that if he had been a white man, I'd never have considered butting in. And if he had been a woman of either race, I'd have jumped in with both feet.

Today, the men from Thornton Services came and installed my new heat pump/air conditioner, and I asked one of them (they were brown-skinned, probably native Spanish speakers from who knows where) whether I should give him the check (a larger check than most I've written in my lifetime) or whether I should drop it by the office.

He said I could do either, and went on to say that some homeowners didn't trust him and his co-workers with the big checks. He didn't say it with any heat, just related it as something that happened. I gave him the check. 

So I tangle myself up in this a little bit, but when I examine myself, I think I find that I am not a racist - but that I could be more aware. I believe I am a person who has grown up with the sort of race blindness that comes with white privilege.  I could be more active in the fight for racial equality. I will pay attention, and work to become more aware. I hope I am already on my way. 

A Last Thought


And then the day came,
when the risk
to remain tight
in a bud
was more painful
than the risk
it took to blossom.

- Anais Nin

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Kingfisher Looking Back

Kingfisher Looking Back / Oil on black canvas / 4x12 / $88 including shipping

this bird has flown!

A FRIEND IS AWAY on a cross-country RV trip, and told me I could pick any flowers or vegetables I found in her garden while she's gone. She is a wonderful gardener, and though other neighbors are regularly picking, she said there's plenty to go around. 

Another friend asked why my gardener friend would have planted so much, if she knew she was going to go away at harvest time, and I had to think about that question. 

We start planting here in late March or April, when the covid was just beginning to bloom. My gardener friend knew that she and her husband wanted to go away - it is a trip they've been planning forever - but they didn't know what would happen, in terms of the virus, travel, etc. And so, she planted.

Thinking about this, I realized - for about the millionth time - that none of us ever really knows what will happen. Not tomorrow, not today, not even in four hours. Most of the time, we live as if we do know - we count on it, too. But the truth is, we don't.

Of course, there is comfort in thinking that we know. Believing that we know. But maybe there is comfort, in a way, in not knowing. In doing the planting because it is time to plant. 

It is the comfort of the moment, this one, rich, round, life-filled moment, this now. 

Zinnias from my friend's garden.

A Last Thought

Song for Autumn

Don't you imagine the leaves dream now
how comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of the air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don't you think
the trees, especially those with
mossy hollows, are beginning to look for

the birds that will come - six, a dozen - to sleep
inside their bodies? And don't you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
stiffens and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its long blue shadows. The wind wags
its many tails. And in the evening
the piled firewood shifts a little
longing to be on its way. 

- Mary Oliver

Tuesday, September 1, 2020


Hummingbird / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68 including shipping

this bird has flown!

SEPTEMBER ALREADY. The days slip past, the months, the years, a blur, a whirl, a twirl of minutes and moments, feelings and ideas, tasks done and undone. The promise and the promises of a life. 

And September, one of Peter's favorite months. Mine, too. Both my parents were born in September. School started in September. New clothes, new shoes, new friends, new books. New thoughts. 

When I was young, September days were cool enough that the sun's warmth cut through, delicious on my cheeks and my head. We lived near the Sound, and in September, the smell of salt would call me to the deserted, tourist-free beaches, where one secret was that the water was warmer than in any summer month. 

Later, September meant the start of the good fishing for Peter. He would stand at the end of the jetty in Misquamicut with his friends, and they would cast huge rods far in front of false albacore - they swim so fast that casting at them meant you'd be far behind them by the time the fly hit the water. More often than not, he would come home skunked - but always happy.

Here in Virginia, September was when the weather became reasonable and the sunsets phenomenal. We would sit outside in the evenings and watch the sky and the dogs, and enjoy the cool air and the sense of things beginning. 

Another September is here, and I will celebrate for us both. 
A Last Thought

"As long as the hummingbird had not abandoned the land, somewhere there were still flowers, and they could all go on."

- Leslie Marmon Silko