Distractions and Detours

"Beyond the Birches"

The day doesn't go as planned

Sunday, March 24, 2019

 I let Leo, the neighbor’s cat, out to chase off the gray rats. (He visits every day.) I sit back down and movement-reflection in the slider glass has me turn to look out the window of the front door. The chickens are out across the street and flapping their wings in the sunlight. They make my insides smile. I like to see the chickens and ducks. They cheer me up.

Not exactly the same angle as I wrote about.

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 Turning back towards the slider, sunlight filters down between hemlocks and bare trees creating a dappled play with light and shadow. A gaping, dark hole between the ice layer and water catches my attention. The caverns along the far edge of the brook are bigger today. One section of the top ice shelf on that side stretches across the water towards a shelf on the nearer side looking like huge yawning mouths … or toothless old men grinning at each other over a game of checkers.

 It’s hard to look away, but it’s time to get in the studio. Yesterday, I received some tips on how to paint raindrops and want to put what I discovered to the page. But first, a detour outside for photos and a little fresh air. Leo joins me on the back deck. He jumps up on the rail and keeps brushing against me as I try to focus the camera. Silly boy. He likes it when I’m outside with him.

 Back inside, I still don’t get to the studio. It’s lunch time, my big meal of the day. I peel potatoes and put them on to boil, and while waiting, I start editing photos taken two days ago. Yeah, I’m behind again.

 I scoop the cooked potatoes into the big, round, yellow bowl that was once my grandmother’s. I love this bowl; it’s a perfect for potato mashing. (It was once a set with a shorter square bowl that my mother used to use for Jello.) I add a little milk and mash until most the lumps are gone, then cut up a stick of butter and shake salt and pepper into the concoctions mashing it all into the potatoes. I take my first taste to make sure it’s how I like them … add some garlic salt. Oh, my gosh, so good! Mashed potatoes are my favorite comfort food!

 We had potatoes a lot growing up. Dad had a huge garden with one section a big potato field. My mother would either cut up the potatoes for home fries (sometimes mixing in hotdogs which I didn’t like at all), or she’d just peel and boil the heck out the ‘taters. She didn’t like milk, so we’d just ladle a couple of potatoes onto our plates and mash them with a fork adding margarine (we never had butter growing up) and salt and pepper.

 The only time we had mashed potatoes with milk mixed in was on Christmas when Dad’s sisters would visit. They always cooked Christmas dinner, and Nellie would put milk in the potatoes and in the carrots. (Mashed potato in hot lunches in junior and high school back then was instant potato crap – awful, tasteless stuff!)

 Talk about a detour! This was supposed to be about pastel painting!


"Beyond the Birches"

I finally made it into the studio. I’ve been so involved with “After the Rain,” I’ve been ignoring this. Today I decided to poke at it and added more color. Sometimes taking artistic license from how the photo looks exactly brings on new challenges. I end up creating parts that aren’t in the photo to bring it all together, and sometimes I really struggle with that because I can’t always get a clear picture in my head.

 I like to bring some of the foreground into play a little early to help give perspective and show where I’m going. It helps me see possibilities. There is so much foliage in the picture and it’ll be interesting to see how I deal with that.

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