Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Same Bird

A plethora of little gray birds of assorted species
Labeled by man for their various calls, beaks, and plumage
Flitter back and forth to the seeds I’ve laid out
There’s no fear or misunderstandings between them
They know they’re all the same bird

This poem contributed to
dVersePoets Open Link Night #7

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Endings and beginnings

Rick playing at Nordica Auditorium - University of Maine, Farmington, 2010

It’s extremely calm out tonight.  We’re expecting Hurricane Irene (my sweet, amazing mother’s middle name was Irene and her birthday would have been yesterday.  Much love to you, mother.)  The hurricane’s been reported up the east coast, yada yada. . .  but tonight you could see a few stars and after battening down the hatches I was drawn outside.

I was sitting out on our lakeside deck, listening to the loons and thinking about the summer we seem to be quickly leaving behind.  I was brought back to the night Rick and I spent at Cobscook Bay State Park in Downeast Maine back in July.  We had arrived mid afternoon and set up the camper fairly easily though it was our very first outing without the camper experts from The NitPickers Band.  We looked at the map of the park and decided to go for a hike.  Nice shady trail with interesting sites described in the park map.  Got to the top where there were vistas of what I’m guessing were Canadian seas.  Saw a couple of kayakers; the water looked pretty calm.  Note to self: I think Rick and I would have been fine in them without a guide had we brought the kayaks.   

We hiked back to camp and made a dinner of Thai noodles w/chicken and a bottle of Clos du Bois.  We dined outside at the picnic table and later Rick pulled out his guitar and played and sang sweetly . . . heartbreakingly . . .  Townes Van Zandt, Kevin Welch, his own originals.  It was one of those perfect summer nights.  There’s no other place I would have wanted to be.  I couldn’t stop smiling all night long, even in my sleep, I’m sure. 

Anyway, here I am sitting out on our deck reflecting how that had probably been my favorite night of the summer. I noticed I’d run out of wine so went inside to make a drink of some sort (when I refilled the liquor cabinet after having the new floor installed (see previous post) I put all the almost empty bottles of liquor on the top shelf with the intention of using those up before hitting the lower shelves.) 

When I got inside I heard Rick upstairs playing the guitar!  Baby!! I was just thinking about you doing exactly that!! . . . Come on outside on the deck and keep doing what you’re doing. . . and he did.  J    I found the makings of White Russians on the top shelf.  Made up a shaker; offered some to Rick who declined after having drank the other half of our bottle of wine.  This was one of those nights where a half a bottle of wine equaled just getting started for me  . . . with help from the caffeinated soda I’d had earlier. 

It struck me that this Rick, playing the guitar on this night, was the Rick who wrote those blogs.  The one who might quote Alexander Graham Bell saying “when one door closes, another door opens” or more likely a Kerouac quote that conveys the same message. 

Anyway, he came out.  I enjoyed the loons . . . crickets . . .  peepers . . .  and Rick’s lovely guitar and vocals, bestowed upon just himself and me, and the loons, which made it all the more special.  Especially on this particular day when he made the momentous decision to quit playing banjo after 33 years with various bands in Pennsylvania and Maine.  A very tough decision attributed to focal dystonia – a long story – but basically a loss of up to 90% of his former ability.  It was just frustrating and unfulfilling for him to play so he decided to walk away from the banjo . . . leave the band . . . .  The timing was right in that the band doesn’t have a gig for a few weeks and the rest of the band is at a bluegrass festival – the best place to recruit a new banjo player, with a second festival coming up next weekend. 

But on the guitar . . . an instrument that asks for finger movements different from the all too familiar forward reverse rolls on the banjo, he sounds competent, comfortable and happy, if not yet expert.  He played several Townes Van Zandt pieces.  My favorite – To Live is to Fly – brought tears to my eyes.  Some Kevin Welch . . . candles burning on a warm sultry August evening . . .  420 . . . impending storm.   

Simplicity and presence, a little melancholy, perhaps a slice of excitement and anticipation, helped it to be one of the premier nights of 2011. 

Later . . .  was just icing on the cake.  J     And here I sit, listening to Bonnie Raitt radio on Pandora . . . the rain is pounding . . .Irene has arrived . . .

my cup runneth over. . .

               this 27th day of August, 2011 . . .

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Home renovations

When Rick and I bought this place we knew there would be years and much money spent before it got to the place where we wanted it to be.  I always said it was a "complicated" property, which is why we got it at the very reasonable price we paid.  It needed a new well, something had to be done to separate the double wide from the cottage.  We initially intended to have the double wide hauled away and renovate the cottage.  But when it came time to move in - about 18 months after we bought it - housing prices had gone to hell and my house in Gardiner which had been appraised about five years earlier at $250,000 was now sitting on the market unwanted at $150,000.   I had taken out a home equity loan on it to help purchase this place so I now owed about $120,000 and the $100,000+ that we had thought would be available to renovate the cottage no longer looked likely.  

So we took another look at the double wide and decided we could make do with that.  The cottage has become storage space as we moved from a 14 room house with a huge two car garage into a 7 room house with a small one car detached garage that sits out by the cottage.  It will never be a showcase home but it's comfortable and that's what matters.  Over time we have put in the new well, separated the water and electric from the cottage, built a two car garage with a great room overhead that we use as my pottery studio, Rick's music studio, an exercise room and an extra bedroom when we have guests. We also had a 12 x 65 foot deck built towards the lakeside of the house.  Oh yes, one of the first renovations we did was the master bathroom, putting in a big new shower, tile floors, and a granite counter top.  

From the beginning I've always wanted to put down new floors and take down the strips that hold sheet rock together in mobile homes, have them taped and mudded, and repaint.  Well, having to do so much infrastructure work, the cosmetics have taken a while to get to.  But we just finished phase one yesterday - new floors in the tv room, living room, and kitchen.  Huge improvement.  

Next week our handyman, Todd, is scheduled to come and take down the visible beat up skirting and replace it with a brick look product, which should help the curbside appeal some.

We still have lots of work to do:  paint the kitchen cabinets (or replace them?), replace counter tops, take down the strips, tape and mud them and repaint throughout.  Maybe a new window or two, maybe redo the second bathroom at some point.  And we should probably replace the one-hour bookshelves we put up in the den with something a little more stable and aesthetically pleasing.

Like I said . . . a work in progress.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Cleave Poetry

Have you ever heard of Cleave poetry?  Check it out: http://cleavepoetry.wordpress.com/

Cleave : is a contranym, a word with 2 opposite meanings:

verb 1) split or sever along a natural grain or line. 2) divide; split.

verb 1) stick fast to. 2) become strongly involved with or emotionally attached to.

In its most basic form it is three poems:

two parallel ‘vertical’ poems (left and right)

a third ‘horizontal’ poem being the fusion of the vertical poems read together.  

Click on the poem to make it big enough to read.  

This poem contributed to
dVersePoets Open Link Night #6

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

April Camp

Another gray day breaks over the April marsh
if you weren’t vigilant, you might think the morning held only bleakness
but for brief moments the sky roils in pinks and blues
above an army of gliding eiders

A magnificent bald eagle is perched sentinel
hoping to discover what Mother has lain before him this day
Then, as suddenly as it came, the marsh has turned bleak once again
the dead branches protruding from the water’s dusky surface
reflect black on black in perfect symmetry

The drab sky blends with bare branches of birches and alders
still bereft of any semblance to July’s verdant greens
or October’s vibrant reds and yellows
Even the drab colors of the osprey that has taken over the eagle’s hunting ground
meld into the muted landscape  
proclaiming their rightful place
in this somber spectacle of slate colored scenery

Posted for dVerse poets open link night.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Glazing - aargh!

I just emptied the kiln from my latest glaze firing.  I've been hesitant to do a glaze firing because the last one I did was terribly unsuccessful.  The chun glaze came out whitish/cream colored and totally blistered.  The other glazes were blistered as well but not nearly as badly.  I realized that I had kind of rushed the firing - not waiting a full hour between turning the switches on.  In fact none of the witness cones (4, 5, and 6) even bent. So this time I waited a full hour and even an hour and 10 minutes on the last 3 switches.  I put the chun pieces back in hoping they might cure properly, to no avail.  The chun glaze actually flaked off to some extent.  The other glazes, mostly royal blue which has always been the most stable glaze one could ask for, even blistered.  I noticed it had done that previously but mostly when using porcelain clay.

The first few times I fired, pieces came out nicely, especially the royal blue.  I don't know why it's changed. So now I'm Googling and trying to figure out what the problem might be.