Sunday, July 25, 2010


This is a photograph of a typical hard-working American family taken about one hundred years ago, probably in Rosenberg, Texas. My cousin just emailed it to me; the little girl squinting, lower right, is my grandmother Exia Southwick (nee Rawson). Exia was a character. She was high spirited, loved to laugh and created magical gardens in California where she lived as an adult. I remember a garden in San Jose with apricot and almond trees (delicious) and gladiolus, roses, pansies and fuschias which I made into ballerinas. Along her driveway was a cactus garden in which I frequently fell while jumping rope, roller skating or chasing jacks balls and consequently hated. Exia always loved the mountains of California and loved nothing better than to jump in the car and drive to Yosemite, which we often did. She thought nothing of driving from California to Texas and did so through hurricanes on occasion. Exia was a red-head, my mother is a red-head and my daughter is a red-head and Exia lived to see the birth of my daughter on her own birthday.
- Kathy

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Books and gardens

I needed a post for today, so I ran outside to photograph my garden again. The thing is, I love my garden, and the season is very short here in Maine. But I also want to talk about books, because I was hugged by an author I admire today, Linda Greenlaw. I first became aware of her while reading the book The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. The Perfect Storm is a true account of a recent marine disaster off the coast of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Linda Greenlaw was a captain of a fishing vessel mentioned in the book. She grew up on the Maine island of Isle au Haut, went to Bowdoin College, then became the captain of a fishing ship. The same summer I read The Perfect Storm, I also read the gripping (well both these books are gripping) Into Thin Air by John Krakauer, about a mountain climbing disaster on Mt Everest.
Linda Greenlaw is a fascinating person for many reasons. A ship captain! An author! And she also has written two murder mysteries and a cookbook. Definitely a woman to admire.

A friend of mine owns the delightful bookstore in Searsport, Maine, Left Bank Books, at which I fill in when needed. Today they co-hosted a book-signing with Linda Greenlaw at the Penobscot Marine Museum and needed me to mind the shop. I wouldn't be able to meet Linda Greenlaw!
I was to be at the bookstore and she at the Museum. Sadly, I settled down behind the cash register, directed folks across the street to the Museum, and began to read Linda's wonderful book about being a swordfish boat captain, The Hungry Ocean. Suddenly I looked up and there she was. "It's me!" she said. I jumped up, very excited, "I have to shake your hand." But when I came towards her she gave me a hug.
I was in heaven. Happy ending.
I came home to a delicious dinner cooked by my husband, and we watched two episodes of the HBO series The Ladies No. 1 Detective Agency, which is quite charming. It is filmed in Botswana. We had listened to the novels on audio and enjoyed them very much.
Lastly, getting back to gardens, my favorite garden writer is Vita-Sackville West, who made the famous Sissinghurst Castle Garden in England.

We're having a glorious summer here. Hope you are, too.
- Kathy

Monday, July 12, 2010

Monday Blog Cafe! Has art changed your life?

This Monday we are hosting the Blog Cafe. I first saw this on The Knitting Blog by Mr. Puffy the Dog, which I love (I think of it as Mr. Puffy's Knitting Blog) and is one of the many wonderful knitting/life blogs on the web.

So here's the idea - this is from the Blog Cafe website:
Every Monday, we're going to gather at somebody's blog for some food, fun, and great conversation. Each week, we will have a different blogger act as our host for our virtual get-together. When you are the host, you will choose what we're "eating" and where we're "meeting", and you'll get us started on a topic of conversation. We hope you'll share some photos of where you're taking us and what we're having--give us a taste of the local fare and maybe give us a peek of the world in your neck of the woods! Then the rest of us--anyone and everyone is welcome--will pop in for a visit sometime throughout the day and leave a comment. We'll share our thoughts and insights on the topic you've chosen, and we'll all get to know each other better!

So we are eating muffins (see above) and gathering at The Good Kettle, a new take-out cafe in Stockton Springs, Maine, my home town.
They have home-made local produce and prepared food, soups, sandwiches and especially delicious jams and chutneys. You can get an entire meal to go! Or just fudge.
And wines, including the very delicious Maine Bartlett wines. They make a wonderful dry pear wine. And will ship!
This cafe shop is adorable.
They carry gorgeous hand-woven towels made by my neighbor Debbie who owns the yarn, weaving and spinning store Purple Fleece. You can now buy Debbie's hand-dyed yarn online, and her patterns are on Ravelry.
Lastly, The Good Kettle has cute tee shirts!

So the Blog Cafe discussion topic is this: has art changed your life?

The arts: books, movies, paintings, plays, music, are my steadfast, entertaining, illuminating, life-affirming, comforting companions. At the risk of sounding a bit corny, they feed my soul and shelter my spirit. But in fact they do.

As a moody teenager, I spent hours in my room listening to Chopin and the Beatles, reading a biography of Toulouse-Lautrec, Salinger's Franny and Zooey, Jane Austen, Magister Ludi. Out of high school I worked at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts when it was a sleepy old-fashioned place, and loved to wander through the rooms and be alone especially with the Egyptian and Greek sculpture. During college I fell in love with John Singer Sargent and frequently visited his remarkable portrait at the MFA, Daughters of Edward Darley Boit.

After college I worked for an antiquities dealer named Mr. Berheimer in his basement shop in Harvard Square (where I read all of Chekov and Simone de Beauvoir's four volume autobiography, the first one, Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter being my favorite). I was in an unhappy marriage at the time and one day was looking at Middle Eastern sculpture fragments made by someone some two thousand years ago and suddenly felt not alone in my misery.

A record of the musical Ain't Misbehavin' got me through the divorce and alone at night I watched Mash and read Ursula Le Guin's astonishing, healing, mind-blowing Earth Sea Trilogy and several of May Sarton's autobiographies - again the first, I Knew a Phoenix, was my favorite.

When I moved to Maine and met Scott Moore and discovered he loved medieval music I knew he was the man for me.

I could go on but am very tired having just returned from TKGA & TCGA's Knit and Crochet Show in Manchester, New Hampshire. It was a great show and lovely to see so many of you there! So please leave a comment and share your art experiences with us!
- Kathy