Monday, July 30, 2012
Not so long ago there used to be a lot more of these little shantys along the shorelines of Maine's islands - we used to see them everywhere we went sailing. Unfortunately, they are either slowly disintegrating, being renovated into Martha Stewart's "The Maine Fisherman Shack Edition," or being replaced by MacMansions - huge, horrible-looking edifaces exhibiting an insensitive disregard for the environment and community in which they sit. Wow - that was harsh, and actually this type of thing has been happening for centuries, so what's new?
Anyway - we passed this one a couple of weeks ago during our jaunt around North and Green Islands. I used to ponder throwing in the towel and taking up residence in something like this. You know - living off the land, no electricity, no heat, no running water, fishing, selling a painting once in a while to buy and maintain some chickens. That kind of thing.
Thank heavens I didn't. Someone would have found me mummified with my eyeballs plucked out by mutinous chickens. Though I write this in jest, it might have made for some interesting late night storytelling (in an otherwise pretty dull biography) for my grandsons, whose birth I would have totally missed now that I think of it.
It was lovely seeing this one holding its own in a tide of eminent change. Whether eminent ends up being good or not is in the arms of the future. In the meantime, I really wanted to witness and document something special the only way I know how, just in case it's gone the next time we come around.
Shanty • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, July 23, 2012
This is a quick sketch of one of my favorite acquaintances. He or she doesn't have a collar and is a bit thin, but he must belong to someone because he's so darn friendly and I usually see him hanging out in the same area (I have changed his haunt to protect his identity and figured I might as well paint him in a place that I think best suits his personality).
Unlike many of the cats up here, this one always trots over to greet me. The first time I ran into him he was sunning himself on a fence. I really wanted to take more shots, but he jumped right down and mosied over to rub himself against my leg and cop a scratch. Now if I catch him somewhere and want to take photos, I have to pretend I don't see him, slowly walk by, snapping as I go or use my telephoto lens from outside his view.
Most of the time though, I stop and catch up on the local gossip. It's astounding what goes down up here, he says. I couldn't agree more, I reply.
Orange Cat on a Fence on the Hill • 8" x 8" framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Sometimes I don't get to the post office until later in the afternoon. I generally walk down Congress Street to the Forrest Avenue station. It takes about a half hour and is always illuminating. Congress is like a human street fair - there’s all kinds of bizarre stuff going down all of the time. (Oops, I seriously didn't mean to imply that all kinds of bizarre stuff was going down in THE Congress).
On my way back, I'll sometimes stop at the museum if it's still open to get a little cultcha, then head down High Street, cut through on Pleasant to Fore and down to Commercial Street to observe the touristas. Commercial is a different kind of scene from the one up on Congress. It's not as freakish but a lot more amusing. When the bait trucks used to load up at the docks, it was always great fun to catch a tourista dry heaving to the aroma of rotting fish. Even more fun nowadays is watching a gull flipping a dead fish around in the middle of the street. The reaction of those in search of their idea of the real Maine, to the actual real Maine, is always a good show.
Eventually I'll meander back up to the Hill along the river by Portland Yacht Services to check out the boats and what the local fishermen are catching. Casting off the rocks for mackerel, and once in a while a striper, these local fishermen are by no means the romantic version or vision with their coolers and brown bags. But it's kind of mesmerizing to listen to them cussing at each other in anticipation of hooking one before the other does.
Mackerel Fishing Off the East End • 8" x 8" framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, July 9, 2012
I was strolling the the walkway that wraps around the Eastern Prom and along the East End beach the other day when I caught these girls messing around in the sand. The dog wasn't theirs - it had just paused for a few seconds. It belonged to an older gentleman who had walked by. It got me thinking about how very special it is having a beach like this so close to all of us city kids - we can walk to it from anywhere on and over the Hill.
The Prom park and beach reminds me of accounts I've read describing the heat waves that hit NYC in the old pre-air-conditioning-for-the-masses days when thousands of immigrants would escape the stifling lack of air in their apartments and fire escapes and jump into the river to cool off. They would then eat their packed dinners and sleep in the adjoining parks all night. Although we're not legally allowed to sleep in the parks here or anywhere else anymore, we can still have our picnic dinners, and we do up here on the east end.
A neighbor who grew up on the Hill told me the East End beach used to be very polluted. No one swam at the beach, she said, everyone swam in a pool that used to be where the lower parking lot now is. The bathroom facilities that are there now were there then too.
The beach is no longer polluted and the state monitors the water to keep it safe. Earlier this past spring about a dozen divers scoured the floor off the shore of the beach looking for trash. They found glass, plastic, metal, old moorings and old lobster traps.
The divers also found a bunch of tennis and golf balls out there. Hmmm - I wonder where they came from? Kids who don't have a summer job may want to think about investing in a beach chair and sign offering fetch services for pet owners who overthrow their pet's fetch toys. It happens a lot more often than you think, and 99 percent of the time the kids swimming off the breakwater end up fetching the toys anyway.
Sandsifters • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $200
Monday, July 2, 2012
Sometimes the moon and moonlight is so big and so bright that it could be mistaken for daylight if I didn't logically know better. We'll land ourselves a full moon once in a while out sailing - it's magical. I leave the tent flap open on my side for as long as I can to observe our surroundings. It's fascinating and mysterious and all kinds of things move around and make noise in the night. Owls are always the most special. Anchored off the tip of Peter Island in the Damariscotta one night we heard an owl having a hootenanny with his or her buddy at the other end.
As I write this I am reminded of another recent full moon night. It was the Supermoon or "the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system,” that occurred this past March. I was heading south through Carrabassett Valley along the river on my way home from a BBQ and growing more and more irritated by the car coming toward me that wasn't dimming it's lights. At some point I realized it wasn't the car lights that were bothering me, but the blasted moon. I was driving right at the rising moon and the light was broadcasting so brightly, it was like having one huge headlight in my face.
As it turned out, and as all of you already know, that moon was 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than when it is on the far side of its elliptical orbit around the Earth. On that night, the Supermoon was just 221,802 miles away from Earth with the entirety of its Earth-facing surface illuminated by the light of the sun - all happening at about the same time.
The event was very cool, but unlike most folks who undoubtedly had a spiritually cosmic experience - as I would have liked to have had - I will probably always remember it as just a big headlight in my face.
That Bright White Moonlight • 8" x 8" watercolor framed to 12" x 12" • $200