Archive for July, 2008

I Had No Idea

July 30, 2008

This is another challenge from the blog Single for a Reason, where the What’s in your Refrigerator query began. Check this link to see what other readers had no idea about.

We use this expression to defend going through a stop sign – ” I had no idea there was a stop sign there “. Or,” I had no idea you hated halvah “. ” I had no idea the latitude of Buffalo and Rome were the same.” And so on.

What had I no idea about? Don’t get me started, I can’t type that much without aggravating carpal tunnel.


I had no idea that these old pottery shards, found in unexpected places here on St. Croix, would come with the history they do and be turned into treasured pendants and jewelry by local gold workers. You can see a section of a windmill in one of the pieces.

Some of these pieces could likely date back to the 1700’s when St. Croix came under Danish rule and later, in the early 1800’s under British rule. The name Chaney is a loose take on the derivation of the word change- used by young boys to trade with one another. They clattered loosely in pockets and made noise like ” change “. The pottery and china was brought here by early settlers and used in the homes of plantation overseers. Hurricanes would likely be what broke and scattered pieces everywhere.

One piece in particular on the right side of the photo shows an intact two out of three mast ship. It turned up in my backyard one day after a big rainfall. It looked like a white piece of plastic, I picked it up, turned it over and was totally surprised. I had no idea this could rise from the wet soil after hundreds of years, like that crazy scene in Poltergeist when the coffins belch upwards from the saturated earth.

The origins of much of the pottery here represents at least three out of the seven flags of ownership that makes St. Croixs’ history. Danish, English, French, Spanish, Dutch, Knights of Malta, and since 1917, the US.

Now I had no idea how busy you can keep with a glue gun.

Double Double Oil and Trouble

July 26, 2008

” Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, “

This recipe seemed to work for Shakespeare since Macbeth is one of the most sought after parts for an actor to portray.

It might have been easier for me to extract the eye of a newt ( just reach up at night behind any picture on the wall and you’ll find one ), or the toe of a frog. We have those too. The wool of a bat? A little trickier but possible. Sorry, I draw the line at tongue of dog since mine sleep next to me in the bed and short of the 8 million buckaroos Leona Helmsley bequeathed hers, are family emeritus.

So any of those things might have been easier than getting reacquainted with oil paints after many many many years.

I’ve been using acrylics for the past several years but have been feeling the pull towards oils for the exact opposite characteristics they possess. I had taken a plein air workshop here a few months ago, was the only acrylic painter among the oil painters and felt this siren of mediums taunting me.

I’m now outfitted in paints, brushes, knives and mediums, learning to embrace the fragrance ( fumes ) of the turps again and the very smells are taking me back many decades to classes at Parsons School of Design where I took my first courses in art.

I’ve tried to keep it loose and gestural to get the feel of the softness of the paint and the different application that’s required. I wasn’t going for replication.

The switch from acrylic to oils is like this:

You’ve been a shepard your entire life and now, you’re going to herd cats……. Have mercy on me and offer up some gentle yet helpful advice/suggestions/quotes/something!!!!

I’m laying myself open here, I realize but hey, when you live here, this is the rule you get to live by and I’m sticking with it:

Be Seated, Do Good

July 17, 2008

Meet ” Chairman Meow “.

My entry last season to the annual live auction benefiting The St. Croix Womens’ Coalition. They’re a non-profit organization that provides counseling, shelter and family services to abused women and children here.

The evening is billed as a “Chair-a-Table ” event because alternating years they provide local artists with an unpainted chair or table to festoon, paint or reassemble in any way they choose. This is the mainstay of their biggest fund raising gala and aside from private donations, brings in the most revenue to support their sadly needed services.

All the items go on the auction block and the bidding frenzy begins. A few glasses of wine, champagne, people outbidding each other -it’s a terrific night and everybody is a beneficiary of something good.

Opening bids start at $400 and it goes from there. As the artist, you have the option to donate all or %50 of the final bid price. I indicated a total donation, thinking it would fetch ( oh it’s a cat, they only fetch live mice and release them in your bedroom ) seven or eight hundred dollars.

I worked on this for weeks- 5 coats of red lacquer paint, drying and sanding in between, the lettering, the tassels, and the Chairman himself with his Peoples’ Republic jacket. I remembered while I was doing this, how much I enjoy the craft part of art and craft.

Seems the Chaircat had a secret admirer who called in a pre-auction bid of $2200.00!!!! Yikes and whaddya know? I fell off my chair. Must have been the whiskers….

A great night indeed.

Take a look at some other kittie stars here-

What’s in Your Refrigerator?

July 11, 2008

This funny topic was brought to our screens by the Jack-in-the Box mentality of the zany, philosophical, witty, creative owner of the blog “ Single for a Reason“. This challenge was preceded by ” What’s On Your Refrigerator”, which I can’t qualify for since ours is stainless and magnets don’t stick, and tape won’t hold because of the humidity.

This is my entry.

Yikes- what is that yolk colored, pear shaped object on the top shelf? It’s a local fruit called an egg fruit and it’s official name is Canistel. It has the consistency of cheesecake and is beyond sweet. We use them in smoothies.

Notice the bottom shelf and the pink plastic wrap. It’s protecting the precious bounty I brought back home with me from NY- Parmigiano Reggiano! Five big bricks of it. I’m surprised the airport beagles didn’t stand at attention when THAT box rolled through.

Mango seasons’ in full swing- see the started one left to dry up? Who cares- there’s bowls of them. Take note of the recipe suggestion from our local Botanical Garden that hosts its’ annual Mango Melee event in early July:

Simple enough even for kitchen klutzes.

If it appears that the contents display mostly unrecognizable condiments, it’s because this shot was taken when I just got home after being away for more than 3 weeks. Husbands’ food shopping requirements are seriously less well-balanced than wives’. There IS a Red Stripe beer- and purple cabbage, so I suppose they cancel each other out.

Some of the other fruit not in the refrigerator but so pretty to look at.

Too much time away and not enough time painting, prompted a quick, just do something so you don’t get painters’ bends if you come up too quickly, brings this:

Will the day come that I’d rather paint fruit than eat it……….

My Exit Strategy from NYC

July 8, 2008

You can’t just leave here. You have to have a plan and consider- did I do enough?

There’s never enough time to spend with family but I managed to see as much of my wonderful son as I could, without running out of things to say and appearing like a sentimental mother. Even though I am.

My dear friend Judy provided culture, comforts, laughs, a cat and a dog to fill the sucking void of leaving mine for all this time. She is across the street from another famous landmark- The Flatiron Building.

How’s this for the quintessential view of NY as I woke up in the morning?

Still one of the grandest icons of architecture and embedded in our collective psyche regardless of what version of King Kong you grew up with.

After all the falling cranes perched perilously on top of yet more glass skyscraper sliver buildings, it’s not hard to be pulled in by sights that remind you how long the history of this city is.

I came across this old Sephardic cemetery on West 21st Street, sandwiched in between two modern buildings. It’s the origin of the oldest , only Jewish congregation in NY, dating back to 1654 at another site. Read about it’s history here.

And another view-

This lovely gentleman of British inflection and endless energy, demonstrates how to peel carrots, potatoes, vegetables of all varieties, with a Swiss made ( meaning the opposite of made in China ) $5 peeler. The peeler is almost as enchanting as this fellow. We bought 2.

If you were a knitter, wouldn’t you want to buy your hand dyed yarn from this vendor?

Van Gogh could have survived nicely here, given the displays of flowers.

Maybe it’s this image that reminds me that no matter how many shops, restaurants, big deals, limos, fabulousness, grandiosity and excess you experience here, what it all comes down to is this:

My grandmother was always right.

I’ll be back home to St. Croix tonight, feeling wealthy in so many ways.