Wednesday, October 20, 2021

#420 • Black Cat Superstitions

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I've been thinking about our Halloween traditions in this country. Halloween is when all rational thinking is thrown to the wind, when we become our own worst fears fed by horror films we dare ourselves to watch only on Halloween night. 

Why witches, ghosts, black cats, crows, ravens and pumpkins I asked myself as I painted along? I was suddenly struck by how much it reminded me of the bunny and egg thing on Easter. The ghost I get because of the Christian celebration of Old Souls/Saints Day on November 1, but the rest of it is puzzling. 

So I decided to research starting with the history and superstitions surrounding black cats to try to make some sense out of it all. I've written about this before, but have forgotten most of it except for the one about a black cat being a witch in disguise. I kind of like that one and want to hold onto it as truth... during Halloween anyway. The bad luck and good luck stuff is not as much related to HAlloween, but good to know!

Earliest Association with witches
According to Greek mythology, Zeus’s wife Hera once transformed her servant, Galinthias, into a black cat as punishment for impeding the birth of Hercules. Galinthias went on to become an assistant to Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft.

Black cats are witches
This story began when a black cat was seen running into a house thought to be inhabited by a witch during the Middle Ages and became equated with black magic. Roaming nocturnal black cats were thought to be witches in disguise, witches' pets, or animal-shaped demons sent by witches to spy on humans. From the early 13th century in Europe through the 17th-century Salem Witch Trials in Massachusetts, black cats were killed along with those who were considered witches. Black cats have since evolved into icons of anything related to witchcraft.

A black cat is also associated with bad luck and death.
This fear of black cats appears to stem from medieval times, when an animal with dark feathers or fur, including crows and ravens, signaled death. In 16th-century Italy, it was believed that death was imminent if a black cat laid on someone's sickbed. It’s considered bad luck if a black cat crosses your path, and good luck if a white cat crosses your path. Another family member is bound to die if you spot a black cat during a funeral procession. And it's a bad omen if you see a black cat walking away from you. Fortunately, all these ideas are just superstition.

Black cats are also believed to bring good luck
In ancient Egypt, black cats were held in the highest esteem because they resembled Bastet, the cat-headed Egyptian goddess of home, fertility, and protection from disease. Black cats are considered good luck in other parts of the globe, as well.

  • In Asia and the U.K., you're going to be lucky in life if you own a black cat.
  • In Japan, you'll have luck in finding love if you spot a black cat.
  • In parts of England, a bride will have luck in her marriage if she receives a black cat as a gift.
  • In Europe, sailors will have a safe journey if they bring along a black cat on the ship.
  • In Scotland, you'll have coming prosperity if a black cat appears at your doorway or on your porch.
  • In France, something magical is about to happen if you see a black cat.
  • In other cultures around the world, it’s a sign of good luck if you dream about a black cat, see one walking towards you, or if you happen to find a stray white hair on its gleaming ebony fur.

Black Cat Superstitions • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250

 



Saturday, October 16, 2021

#419 • The Sunflower

 

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I was tending to my sunflowers recently, and one in particular - the tallest, caught my eye. It, like the others, had survived an onslaught of drought and pestilence this summer. It is not perfect, or even beautiful compared to others I've seen. It's lower leaves are chewed and full of irregular holes and unsightly spots. I cut them off to open up other flowers to light. Petals are thin and curling. But those irregularities and scars are what makes it interesting to me.

I feel the same way about a lot of things. Acceptance of things as they are gives us permission to accept imperfection in ourselves. Nature reminds us that we the imperfect can be out there saying, mostly to ourselves, yeah well, I'm interesting!

The Sunflower Lesson • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12"x 12" • $250

Thursday, October 7, 2021

#418 • The Change

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The change

And Mother Nature again,

reminds us,

that we will do the same.

 Are the flashy reds and oranges

after a rollicking spring and summer youth

hot flashes as we try to kiss the sun one more time?

Are the yellows and ochres

the blonds

a last try to hide

or hold back

the withered

and wrinkled brown leaves

elegant in their graceful

and inevitable fall back to Earth?

Nope.

It's simply what we are.

Change.


Thursday, September 30, 2021

#417 • The In Between Time of Year

 

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I call this the in between time of year. Here in Kingfield we are still sandwiched between summer and fall. Although astrologically we are officially in the fall autumnal, there are days when it feels like summer is not letting go. A few changes, but still mostly summer greens.

And what about the natural world? Do the trees go through what we women used to when you didn't know whether it was time to start wearing fall colors. Do trees wonder if it time to turn yet, what if we have an Indian summer? Are they concerned that this is too much color too soon, how does this color look on me, maybe just a few highlights for now, oh God is the red showing already?

The In Between Time of Year • 8"x8" acrylic framed to 12"x12" • $250

Friday, July 9, 2021

#416 • We Really Do Need the Rain

 

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Figured I'd throw in a memory of what summer looks like. Been pretty extreme up here, so extreme I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I have Ozzie and Harriet syndrome. Or it may be the universe trying to slow down the plundering of Maine by suggesting the real Maine. In the meantime, I do recall an elderly friend telling me that this can be a typical summer in Maine. I also remember another ancient telling me that we don't swim in Maine before July 4th, as a rule.
 
It's tough being a sailor and a gardener (actually more like a weeder) in this state. Whatever is going on, and regardless of forces beyond our control, we really do need the rain. Plus I really do look fabulous, and like a typical Mainer in the summer actually, with my thin hair soaked and stuck to my head, my 20 year old bagged out yellow LL Bean rain slicker and old black high top galoshes!
 
We Really Do Need the Rain • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250
 



Monday, May 31, 2021

#415 • Kay's Barns

 

 
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If you travel up this way on Route 27, you've probably noticed these barns sitting back off the road a ways in New Vineyard. They're probably two of the most beautiful and well-maintained structures in these parts, and serve as a real homage to a way of life that supported so many Maine families for so long. 

Today, working farms are making a comeback thanks to an influx of new young people and an infusion of their energy into an old way of life. While farming can be challenging, it's perfect for those who love Earth and treasure the fruits she bears. For some, being physically beat feels better than being emotionally battered. There's nothing quite like planting a seed and watching it grow. To many of us, that's a miracle and a real privilege.

Kay's Barns • 8" x 8" acrylic frame to 12" x 12" • $250

Thursday, April 22, 2021

414 • Earth Day 2021

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It's Earth Day 2021! 

If I didn't have work to do I would have gone for a hike up Wee Mountain with Sue. As I write this, I realize I shoulda, woulda, coulda chucked the work and gone anyway because, well, it's Earth Day. From now on, I will always spend some time outside in the woods, in a field, on a mountain or water on Earth Day even if the snow is blowing sideways out there as it is now. It will remind me why this planet is so special.

Earth Day 2021 • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

#413 • Surprised By Spring Brights

 


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We're in a drought right now, but a good spring deluge will bust open those beautiful brights in the trees. What begins as a hazy yellowish halo will blow open seemingly overnight, painting another shade of green until summer's deeps. The pop always surprises me no matter how vigilant I am and how much money I put down on a sure date.

We're lucky we get to witness these changes - it's a more positive reminder in our lives that the only constant is change.

Surprised By Spring Brights • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250

Monday, April 5, 2021

#412 • Wait Is Not What Spring Is

 

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This time of year I never get tired of watching spring try to flirt her way around winter. It's a clever sidling up to and gentle nudge against the old man for air space. Like a typical youngling who won't wait or listen to ancient wisdom that frequently warns her to hold off because the old man ain't finished yet, these fragile green shoots are impatient and won't wait. They can't. Wait is not what they are, what spring is.

Wait Is Not What Spring Is • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250



Monday, March 29, 2021

#411 • Chickadees In the Wind


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We have a gang of chickadees around here flitting all over the place, mostly in the lilacs. They're also serenading us in the morning from the telephone wire outside our second floor bedroom window. I've always wondered what happens to them in a big wind, like the gusting 45-55 bully we have right now. I'm thinking it could be a trip to spread my wings and sail on it, but these little tweeties would probably end up somewhere between here and Europe. Here's what I found out.

Chickadees will return to their houses like we do if they have one. If the little dears have no nest or a cavity to climb into, they will shelter in trees, or on the lee side of a tree trunk and/or bush. If the wind shifts, so will they to the other side. Because perching birds' feet grip when they relax, they can hold on during high winds with very little effort effort. Who knew?

In the meantime they are not eating, so Tom filled our bird feeder with a deluxe lasagna dinner mix for them to feast on in the aftermath.

Chickadees In the Wind • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250

Thursday, March 11, 2021

#410 • Maybe It Will Be Different This Year

 

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Here we go again. It happens every year. A string of warm sunny days and we all knowingly get suckered into thinking spring is just around the other side of that birch over there. A real Mainer knows spring doesn't arrive until sometime in Maybe. In the meantime, I got suckered and did this little thought. You know what they say about insanity - it's thinking that maybe it will be different this year even though it hasn't for an eon or so.

Maybe It Will Be Different This Year • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250

Sunday, February 14, 2021

#409 • Valentine's Day Breakfast

 


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Of all the Valentine's Days I have lived through, this one requires a major dive into chocolate. A swimming pool of chocolate. No, an ocean of chocolate. It won't make me feel better in the long run, but it will for a few luxurious mind altering hours.

This Valentine's Day also reminds me to hold on to universal truths. One of them is that Love wins in the end. Another one is karma. Of course karma applies to eating chocolate too!

Valentine's Day Breakfast • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250

Thursday, February 4, 2021

#408 • Flowers in My Oatmeal

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Valentine's Day is coming up and my thoughts immediately turn to chocolate. Since I have chocolate in my oatmeal for breakfast every morning, I got to thinking about the alternative - flowers. According to an article in Psychology Today, flowers, not unlike chocolate, trigger all kinds of happy chemical reactions in our brains too.

Happy brain chemical #1 - Dopamine is triggered by the expectation of a reward. Flowers were a huge reward in our evolution because they marked the coming of abundance after a long hungry winter. Bright colors signaled valuable nutrition for our hunter-gather ancestors. They balanced their diet by scanning for spots of color.

Happy brain chemical #2 - Oxytocin creates the feeling of social trust. Flowers communicate the intention to invest effort in a relationship. And they convey a respect for fragility.  

Happy brain chemical #3 - Serotonin is released when we advance our social importance. No one likes to admit they care about it, but failing to stimulate your serotonin makes us feel low. This is why we’re always looking for ways to trigger it. Many of our healthy social rituals exist to satisfy this natural urge.

So there you have it. A scientific case for throwing flowers into your oatmeal every morning if you don't have any chocolate on hand!

Flowers in My Oatmeal • 8" x 8" acrylic framed to 12" x 12" • $250


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

#407 • The Brumal January Moon

 

 

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 It's cold out there today - and what would a good cold snap in Maine be without an accompanying frigid arctic wind whistling down from old man winter's pursed and icy blue lips.

Cold as it relates to temperature is relative for sure. Two of my brothers who live in southern California's desert hibernate when it dips below 60. Here in Maine, if you say you're cold it's got to be 20 below and blowing at least 40 if you don't want to have to endure jokes about being anemic.

Just for the hell of it, and running out of adjectives to describe cold, I looked up synonyms and got the so so frigid, frozen, freezing, etc. But sprinkled in the list here and there were some adjectives I'd never seen before.

Algid: Severely chilled or chilling: Mona was thinking that it was the most algid day she had experienced this winter. Latin word algēre, meaning "to feel cold."
"This world is the country of Algid, where Snow discovers that she is a long-lost princess destined to inherit the throne from her evil father."

Brumal: Indicative of or occurring in the winter. Latin: brumalis, from bruma winter.
"
He shivers in the brumal blast; hungry he chirps before your door."

Frore: Frosty, frozen. Middle English froren, from Old English, past participle of frēosan to freeze. "The beast wept as the frore hills weep in the thaw, and the tears splashed big into the agate bowl."

Gelid: Extremely cold, icy. Latin gelidus, from gelu frost, cold
"She seemed to be unable to tear herself away from the sight of the austere Aniene, with its gelid waters."

I'm partial to gelid myself.

The Brumal January Moon • 8" X 8" acrylic framed to 12" X 12" • $250