Thursday, January 28, 2021

Sunset Through the Pines

 Sunset Through the Pines / Oil on black canvas / 18x24 / $700, including shipping


BACK IN THE FALL, Doc and I went to dog school. Really, not only went, but more importantly, graduated from dog school (and below is the photo that proves it!). 

Dog school was put on by Eastern Shore Dog, which is basically Beth Ann Sabo and Anna Malik, and if you're here on the Shore, you can find Eastern Shore Dog on Facebook, or at its website here

Doc and I learned a lot in dog school, and it helped my scared and snappish fellow begin to learn to co-exist with other dogs and people. He also learned to walk nicely (most of the time) on a leash, to come when I call him (most of the time), to sit and stay, and - most recently (post graduate work!) to lie down. 

All of that is great, but dog school took place on Mondays at 5:30 p.m., at the Barrier Islands Center, about 30 minutes from here. It was October and November, the days were short and cold, and each week, I had to fight my entropy, to get Doc and myself up and out. One of the things that motivated me was a good chance to see the sunset. 

That's where this painting came from, a beautiful sunset through the trees, on the way to dog school.

The Real Dr. Cooper

YES, FOR WHATEVER nutty reason I had at the time, I named Doc after my dad. I want to report today that Dad is back home - yay! - and sounded happy and hopeful when I talked with him this weekend. 

Turns out his swallowing problem was a side effect of AFIB medication he was on. I share this in case you or a loved one ever encounters the same issue. We are all grateful and relieved that Dad made it through this crisis, and is doing so very well. Thank you for your prayers and good wishes. 


Of the Dark Doves

For Claudio Guillen

In the branches of the laurel tree
I saw two dark doves
One was the sun
and one the moon
Little neighbors I said
where is my grave --
In my tail said the sun
On my throat said the moon
And I who was walking
with the land around my waist
saw two snow eagles
and a naked girl
One was the other
and the girl was none
Little eagles I said
where is my grave --
In my tail said the sun
On my throat said the moon
In the branches of the laurel tree
I saw two naked doves
One was the other
and both were none

- Frederico Garcia Lorca
Translated by Sarah Arvio

Monday, January 25, 2021

Magpie on a Curved Branch

Magpie on a Curved Branch / oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68 including shipping

I FIRST ENCOUNTERED MAGPIES when Peter and I moved to Idaho. They're such amusing birds! They're large - or at least the ones we had in Boise were - bigger than crows. They look quite formal, their coloring always making me think of tuxedos. The black of their feathers is a deep, deep blue-black, flashing turquoise and even a little green in the right light. 

And they're very smart - according to Wikipedia, one of the few non-mammal species able to recognize themselves in a mirror. Heck, some days, I can't even do that. 

They used to strut around the yard, squawking and carrying on, and they knew our schedules, knew the dogs, knew when we would fill the feeders and take out the trash. It was fun to remember how we laughed at and about them. 


Was It Necessary to Do It? 

I tell you that ant is very alive!
Look at how he fusses at being stepped on. 

- Mary Oliver


Wednesday, January 20, 2021



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

MY FRIEND SUSAN MCGUIRE and I are have launched a painting-project page on Facebook. Susan is a wonderful painter, who uses all media but mostly, these days at least, watercolors. So our page is called Oil & Water, and you can find it on Facebook. Everything on the page, her work and mine, is $68 including shipping - and for you bird-painting fans, there are some bird paintings there that I haven't posted here yet. Click here to go to Oil & Water on Facebook! 

Some of the bird paintings on the new page come from a challenge I gave myself, early in January - to paint 10 birds in a day. I did it - but just by the skin of my teeth (and that is an odd phrase, if you stop to think about it!) 

You artists might consider making some nearly unattainable challenge to yourselves, especially if you are feeling dull or blocked. I had been painting a lot, in November and December -  all commissions. I love commissions, but a steady stream of them - painting other people's ideas, other people's desires - can blunt my own ideas, and somehow shorten my sense of direction and flow. For me, at least, there's nothing like a huge challenge to kick out the jams. 

And it needn't be a challenge of numbers, of quantity. I've challenged myself to use odd colors, minimal colors, only yellows, only large knives, only small knives, only straight strokes, only curving strokes, only 30 minutes, only 60 minutes. 

Once I tried to make a painting with strokes that went in a huge spiral out from a spot that was off-center. My aim was to stick to the pattern, while putting the colors, light, shadow in the right places. It didn't work, but continues to interest me as an idea. I think it involves too much planning for me, and feels too much like math. One of you might like to try it. Please send me the photo if you do! 


An Old Story

Sleep comes its little while. Then I wake
in the valley of midnight or three a.m.
to the first fragrance of spring

which is coming, all by itself, no matter what.
My heart says, what you thought you have you do not have.
My body says, will this pounding ever stop?

My heart says: there, there, be a good student.
My body says: let me up and out, I want to fondle
those soft white flowers, open in the night. 

- Mary Oliver

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Bald Eagle


Eagle / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68 including shipping
Please email me at if you would like to own this painting

SOMETIMES, I HEAR an eagle call, here in Wachapreague. They are around - I've seen them flying over the yard several times, and, many times, in the fields nearby.

 One Sunday morning, I watched one devour a deer that had been killed on the Wachapreague Road. He stayed there for longer than I could, and he was apparently unafraid of me - or at least, willing to tamp down his fear in the face of such bounty. 

The bald eagle was chosen as the emblem of America on June 20,  1782, because of his strength and good looks, and because it existed nowhere but on this continent. 

Benjamin Franklin derided the selection, calling the bald eagle a bird of "bad moral character." The bald eagle, Franklin wrote, "does not get his living honestly, you may see him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing-hawk, and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to his nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes it from him..." 

Franklin goes on (you can read more here) and suggests that the turkey would be a better choice. 

Lazy carrion-eaters though they may be, their majesty always captures my heart. 


"A year from now, you will wish you had started today." 

- Karen Lamb

Monday, January 18, 2021

White Hawk

White Hawk / oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68 including shipping

LAST NIGHT, AS I WENT TO BED, red lights started flashing on the tree limbs first, then the houses, then the street itself, and I watched as an ambulance and then a police car pulled up at the corner of Pearl and South streets. 

It instantly brought me back to the night that Peter had his heart attack, here, in the living room. The ambulance came - and was there a police car? I have no idea. EMTs came in and hustled to Peter, did things to him, put him in some sort of gurney chair. The lights flashed and flashed and flashed. Dave, a neighbor who has moved away, just walked in through the open door, and in the moment, I hated him, for intruding, for coming in uninvited, for offering to help. 

Last night, all of this rushed back and I turned away and went to bed, hoping only that whichever neighbor was in trouble would be OK. 

Today, I found out that it was a very nice man, Gene, and that he apparently had been badly dehydrated and would, indeed, be alright. Whew. 


DAD IS BETTER, after a pretty scary few days. He is still in the hospital, and is still far from well, but he was sitting up today, and I hear he watched football on Sunday. 

There is no talking to him. He has a phone in his room but it only calls out, and he apparently can't make it work without help. And there is little to no help. The hospital seems to be tremendously overloaded, probably with covid patients; it took my stepmother five hours the other day to get anyone to answer her call. 

Thank you for your kind words and for your prayers. I believe it all helps, and I hope you will all keep thinking healing thoughts for Dear Old Dad. 


Alone I Stare into Frost's White Face

Alone I stare into frost's white face.
It's going nowhere, and I -- from nowhere.
Everything ironed flat, pleated without a wrinkle:
Miraculous, the breathing plain.

Meanwhile, the sun squints at the starched poverty --
The squint itself, consoled, at ease ...
The ten-fold forest almost the same ...
And snow crunches in the eyes, innocent, like clean bread. 

- Osip Mandlestam

Thursday, January 14, 2021

First Robin of Spring

 First Robin of Spring / Oil on black canvas / 5x7 / $68 including shipping! 
Please email me at if you'd like to own this hopeful little painting

I HAVEN'T SEEN spring's first robin yet this year, but this week, I heard the songs of spring birds, sweet and warm on a sunny, frosty morning. 

Last week, I saw snow geese high above, calling to each other as they soared. I haven't seen a field full of them yet this winter, but I always look. It is such a miracle. 

And in the theme of bird miracles, there are two hummingbirds still in town. Honestly, I thought I was losing it a little when I caught a swoop out of the corner of my eye, but the homeowner came along and said yes, a pair of hummers was seeming to spend the winter in Wachapreague. Some trees and bushes still are flowering, and though it's been cold (to my now-wimpy-Southern but former tough-New-England-girl self), I guess it's not been cold enough to do them any harm. I hope they don't get trapped here and damaged by an Arctic blast. 


"Change your thoughts and you change your world." 

- Norman Vincent Peale

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren / oil on black canvas/ 4x12 / $88, including shipping

MY DAD IS 92, and right now, is in the hospital in Tucson. He has aspiration pneumonia - not covid, according to four covid tests, all of which have been negative. 

Sunday, he was doing better, sitting up, watching football. Today, he can't swallow. 

He is 92, and before this, was doing well. A couple days pre-pneumonia, he and his wife went out and walked a mile, and Dad said he was feeling great. Pain that had plagued him for the past few months had gone away, the day was beautiful and he was happy. 

He has had a good life, and neither he nor Paula, not any of us, is ready for it to be over. Who among us ever is? I am concentrating on how strong he is, what good genes he has, how remarkable his optimism and resilience are, and how he cherishes his life and his wife.

So, think a good thought, say a small prayer, hold your loved ones close and live every moment as fully and richly as you can. 


"Life isn't about getting and having; it's about giving and being." 

- Kevin Kruse


Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Two Roses

Two Roses / Oil on black canvas / 8x24 / $300 plus shipping

HAPPY 2021, FRIENDS! Isn't it great that 2020 is over? No matter what the new year brings, it is a new year, and I meet it with new hope and energy and an outlook of gratitude.

A couple of collectors who have become friends sent me a Christmas card with a letter containing a list of thoughts they'd happened upon in 2020. These include: 
  • We really like each other, and enjoyed more time together. 
  • Americans are heroic.
  • Even though we love our work, retirement looks pretty good after our dry run. 
And about 15 more, all thoughtful and insightful. 

Their list made me think of my own list, and I will share some of my thoughts from 2020. 
  • Dogs really are great company. 
  • It's good to have some chocolate every day, and it need not disrupt a diet. 
  • I guess I will never be a truly neat housekeeper, since I have all the time in the world and still don't vacuum enough. 
  • Good coffee is worth whatever it takes.
  • Grocery stores are really sort of amazing! 
  • (This next one is borrowed, completely, from my friends): Social distancing from some neighbors is a good thing. 
  • Eating healthier really does make me feel better.
  • I truly only use three of my pans and two of my baking sheets, and I get very tired of washing them. 
  • I need lots and lots of time alone, interspersed with short, deep doses of friends.
  • Television is miles better than it used to be. 
  • Turquoise is an amazing color!
  • It is OK to go to bed at a ridiculously early time, and wake up at a ridiculously early time. 
  • Without Peter, I am lonely, but my friends and my family do great and generous things to sustain my mind, body and heart. 
  • Hard work is a wonderful distraction.
  • I am very, very lucky. 
What would you put on your list? Please add your thoughts in the comments below (you have to go to the blog to do that), or email me at


The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among brothers,
To make music in the heart.

- Harold Thurman