Returning from the encaustic conference after six days away from home has sort of spun me into different territory. Who am I here? Getting back into the studio hasn't happened yet, and I think I'm losing the sense of what I really do. I'm getting caught up in gardening, working for money, lolling on the couch in front of some boring TV show or immersing myself in a book. Do I even have a studio?, I wonder, and what is it like in there? I drove by the building last week and felt like I had moved out. Some combination of breaking the routine, being faced with too many choices of things to pursue and a lack of deadlines has taken its toll on me.
Color me curiously absent from myself.
You see that "curiously"? I think it comes from watching the Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland last weekend. Weird but entertaining. My favorite Burton invention was the Red Queen calling for a warm pig to rest her feet on. That could come in handy, I think, but not at this time of year.
Wednesday night, June 23rd
Summer in western Massachusetts is bear weather and we've had two visits this week from a strangely (or curiously) neat bear. The bear broke into the screened porch that's attached to our garage by pushing in the bottom half of the screen door (that was actually covered with some kind of hard plastic rimmed with metal). Bonnie, who would make a great detective, pointed out that you could see dusty paw prints on the plastic if you looked closely.
All it did during the first visit was pick up a plastic bucket (a cat litter container) that held left-over suet cakes and a little birdseed. The bear apparently selected this particular container because of the suet. The container was pretty tightly sealed with a lid and had a looped handle. It was heavy but the bear carried it out into the yard, apparently in its mouth, and exited the way it entered, through the door. When it had gone maybe 30 feet, we think something startled it and it dropped the container, which then opened and spilled some seed. We think the bear did not eat any of the contents but ran off.
It came again the next night and easily pushed in the screening Bonnie had ducktaped onto the bottom of the door. The container with suet was not there. Instead it took the lid off a metal trashcan that had held birdseed. The can was empty but still smelled like seed. Nothing else was touched or even knocked over. The lid of the trashcan rested on the floor beside it.
Who is this bear?
Thursday afternoon, June 24th
I finally went over to the studio this morning to bring over a load of stuff from the conference. The only way to get back into the studio is to go to the studio. I putzed around a little and I could definitely have stayed but I was already very hot and it was only 9 a.m. Our cool, dark house with fans blowing, dogs sleeping and unfinished paperback waiting loomed large in my mind, and I left. I think I took on some color presence because by the time I left, my face was bright red (from heat).
Returning from the conference
I brought back from the conference a backseat full of books that my mother-in-law gave me. She lives in the next town over from Beverly (site of the conference) and kindly put me up for five nights. I'm not sure what I'll do with all of them, but there was a large selection of children's books from the '40s, '50s and '60s.
Part of the wide selection of picture books
The very best one has a great title and is a huge book printed in Sweden. There is no copyright date or mark on it.
This book measures 14" wide x 18 1/2" high closed!
Here is a page spread showing the very colorful images.
And finally, here is a photo of the oil portrait of my great grandmother on my mother's side, Elizabeth Bailey Dobson. She was born in England about 1853 and emigrated to Boston through Canada
This portrait was just sent to my by my one and only cousin. Her mother had it from my grandmother. I remember it hanging in my grandmother's parlor over the fireplace. It was in an ornate frame which has somehow disappeared. There was no signature or date on the painting. I don't think I look much like her except for my coloring and the propensity of my hair to form the same waves when it gets longer than I usually wear it.
The back of the painting. This should be a lesson to always sign and date your work on the back for future reference.
So I guess I'll be getting back to normal now. Or at least one can only hope.