People can be divided into those who like to sleep late on Saturday morning and maybe go to church or golf on Sunday, and those who are on the road at 8 a.m. both days, clutching the newspaper classified section, searching for flea markets and yard sales, determined to be the first one through the gate. Guess which category I’m in.
Those of us with “I brake for yard sales” bumper stickers are motivated by tales of life-changing finds—an original copy of the Declaration of Independence or a Paul Revere tea pot from grandma’s attic, or those Jackson Pollack paintings someone found in the trash. Every yard saler has a tale of the Big Find.
Here’s mine. Maybe 25 years ago, when I was just starting to collect antique photos, I saw a cardboard box labeled “Instant Ancestors” on a front lawn not far from the village green in my own village. In the box I found a battered small, thick leather-bound album filled with CDVs. “CDV” means Carte de Visite, and the photos, wildly popular around the time after the Civil War, are the size of a business card.
I noticed that maybe a dozen of the photos in the album were of Native Americans. The portraits were identified in type as taken by Joel Emmons Whitney at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, of Dakota warriors imprisoned after the Sioux uprising of 1862. Each one, including Chief Little Crow, was identified along with how many white men he had killed.
I was happy to pay the five-dollar price of the album. When I eventually put it up for auction at Skinner’s Galleries and got $500 return on my investment, I felt very smug. Not so much today, because I know that the value of those Whitney Indian photos has climbed so that each one of them would now bring around $500.
All yard salers are looking for that Big Find and my village of Grafton is a happy hunting grounds. (So is Brimfield MA, about 20 minutes away, where in May, July and September they roll out maybe the biggest flea market in the country.)
I think Grafton is one of the prettiest New England villages, thanks to its carefully preserved historic district around the Common. That’s why they filmed “Ah Wilderness” here back in the 1930’s. And around that historic common, with its 300-year-old Inn, I just KNOW there are treasures that will someday appear in a yard sale on someone’s front lawn.
Today, Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, was a very good day, although I don’t think any of the treasures I bought will make me rich. The first place I hit was the home of Carol and Richard, who for many years owned the Grafton Country Store—one of the longest continuously operating. They have a great collection of primitives and early prints, tools, cookware, etc. not to mention hot coffee and free donut holes to welcome the early birds. I bought 21 things, the most expensive of which was an ironstone butter crock at $20.
The next yard sale, also near the Common, greeted me with a wicker antique doll carriage --the twin of one I had as a little girl. But I wasn’t about to spend over a hundred dollars on a duplicate doll carriage, with no granddaughter to give it to. But I then I saw a stunning set of Madeira Lace work – ten place mats and a table runner—with their own blue brocade carrying case plus a handwritten note that it was “Made on the Island of Madeira for the Beede Family, makers of Madeira Wines”.
I have never been able to resist fine textiles and embroideries, so I bought the set of Madeira work, telling myself it was for a daughter’s trousseau, but at the moment, both daughters have a strict embargo against my bringing another thing into their apartment “if I can’t eat it, drink it or date it” as one put it.
The third yard sale, in a red barn in nearby Shrewsbury, was mostly furniture and there’s no more room in my house for furniture, so I came away with only a child’s rocker, which I cleaned up to put in my booth at a nearby group antique shop.
That’s how I justify my obsessive collecting— I say that it’s merchandise for the store.
So after I got back from the yard sales, I cleaned up my treasures and put price tags on them and took them to North Main Street Antiques—at least the ones I couldn’t fit into my own décor (like the apple-themed bathroom with its red lion-footed cast iron tub or the wall in my kitchen that’s filled with heart-shaped cookie cutters and other objects featuring hearts.)
At least I got to play with my treasures before carting them off to the store. And tomorrow, Sunday, I’ll hit the road early, trolling for that One Big Find.
Joanne Lykken Stockwell died of T-cell lymphoma on May 8, the day before Mother's Day, at the New Orleans home of her daughter Sarah. She and I both graduated from Edina Morningside High School in Minnesota in 1959, but I didn't really know Joanne until last year when I was trying to collect photos and biographies from classmates for our reunion book that would be published for our 50th Reunion in October 2009.
Joanne balked at writing a page of biography "that quite resembles an obituary" -- she was a poet and in the end submitted the poem below for her page, although she wrote to me: " My poems are never 'finished' and so I will resist the urge to make this one flow more smoothly, since it says what I want it to. ...As Popeye says, 'I yam what I yam!'"
She also wrote "I don't know WHY you like the picture of me with uncombed hair, piled up with dog, chid, quilts and all, but it is also one of my 'joys' so you are welcome to it!"
Joanne really was looking forward to attending the 50th Reunion, but in the end, she was not well enough. I'm reprinting her poem below and the photograph of her with her granddaughter and her beloved dog, Mr. Ferguson.
Her page was one of the most interesting in the book and with it she has left us a fine legacy--a reminder to stop now and then to tote up the simple joys in life that are, in the end, the most important gifts we have.
It's not so much what I have done, But in the end, What I've become! This is not in my resumé, I think you must agree Unless your interest only lies With well advanced degrees! The idea is Exceedingly contrary, To send a page that quite resembles My obituary! I cannot write a page Extolling "wondrous High School years." They were a mess, I must confess, And brought me naught but tears! So once again, to you I offer The personal joys Within my coffer: Daffodils in Spring Dahlia in the fall Working in the garden Walking in the woods The sound of water over rocks Chipmunks chatter Warblers call Anchovies in a Caesar Salad Making oysters "Rockafeller" Chocolate Cake Friends I have had since I was five A winter storm A fireplace Dogwood in Spring Maple in Fall The sound of the Ocean No sound at all One loyal dog A nest of Carolina wren And may you all stay well and strong Filled with the music of life's song, Until we meet again.
(Please click on the photos to enlarge them. See the hummingbird in the flowers upper left?)
Last weekend, we attended the wedding of my brother’s daughter, Lindsey, at the Parker Hotel in Palm Springs, CA. It was moving and beautiful for many reasons, not least the magnificent grounds and gardens of the hotel, but for me it was very special in an unexpected way, because it seemed that my late mother was there in spirit throughout the ceremony.
Martha Dobson Paulson died in 1985 at the age of 74. At that time Lindsey was only five years old, so she didn’t know much about her paternal grandmother. Last week, Lindsey was the first girl of Martha’s five grandchildren to be married.
Hummingbirds were always a special symbol of my mother. She had hummingbird feeders filled with red syrup hanging in her garden and rejoiced when they were used by the elusive visitors, which zipped around like tiny helicopters. Before she died, Martha chose the mausoleum in a San Pedro cemetery where her ashes and those of my father would be kept in brass boxes shaped like books. She selected their glass-fronted niche in the mausoleum because it had a view of a pond where ducks and swans swam.
When I went back to visit my parents’ graves some years ago, I attached some carved wooden hummingbirds to the window of the niche. I did the same to a framed photo I have in our hall of Martha posing with two of our children in 1976.
Last Saturday, as the wedding guests assembled at 6:30 for the outdoor ceremony, we admired the giant floral arrangements on each side of the altar and the pathway of white rose petals prepared for the wedding party.
We quickly realized that the place was alive with hummingbirds —dozens of them swooping toward the flowers, hovering stock still in the air, then darting away as we tried to photograph them.
The music began and my brother walked the bride down the rose petal path toward Mike, her waiting groom. The judge began to speak, leading them through their vows. Some of us were distracted from his words, watching the hummingbirds at play.
Near the end of the ceremony, a hummingbird flew directly in the face of my older daughter, Eleni, and then stopped, hanging in the air about a foot in front of her, motionless except for the blur of its wings. The bird and Eleni stared into each other’s eyes. I had never seen a hummingbird stay so still for so long —as if trying to communicate. Later I asked my daughter what the bird said and she replied with a smile, ”It said, ‘You look good!’”
After the ceremony, after the newlyweds were showered with yellow rose petals, there were cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in another garden as the sun set. The small tables held bowls in which floated white gardenias, yellow lemon slices and votive candles. I noted, but didn’t mention, that gardenias were my mother’s signature flower. When she was young, she liked to tuck a gardenia into her black hair.
We all moved through a hidden gate into a magical fairyland where we sat at tables for the toasts and the meal. The bride was lovely in her slender strapless lace gown with its long train pinned up for dancing.
I was astonished to learn that the couple had chosen for their first dance “Stardust”, a melody that was popular more than 40 years before they were born. I knew it well—it was my mother’s favorite song, sung by Hoagy Carmichael, and she played it on our old Victrola constantly when I was a child. But Lindsey and Mike had chosen it without knowing that.
The wedding of Martha’s first granddaughter to marry was, from beginning to end, a lovely, never-to-be-forgotten occasion. And I think my mother enjoyed it as much as any of the guests. Maybe more.
I just drove from my daughter’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side to our home in Grafton, MA – a 180-mile, 3 ½-hour drive that I make (usually round trip) at least once a month. Sometimes I do it alone, other times, like today, I share the driving with my husband. - Every time I complete the drive — especially by myself -- I’m inordinately proud of the feat. Because I lived in Manhattan for 14 years, I didn’t even get my driver’s license until I was 36 years old, pregnant with our third child and living in the countryside of Massachusetts. (Actually I drove from age 15 to 18 in Minnesota when I was in high school and then quit when I went to college, so had to take driver’s training all over again 18 years later.)
When I got my second driver’s license —pregnant and 36— I tried to avoid ever getting on a main highway, much less driving out of state. But I had to transport the kids to school and on play dates, and eventually I expanded my repertoire.
The drive from Manhattan to Grafton MA is really not bad —up to 96th Street, over to the FDR Drive, over the Triboro (now Robert F. Kennedy) Bridge, then eventually on to the Parkways— Hutchison and Merritt--where commercial vehicles are forbidden, thank God. This is the scenic part —full of wild turkeys and deer and a lot of charming bridges, none of which is identical —like snowflakes.
Then, just before Hartford, I get back on I-91, whether the trucks abound, dwarfing my little Prius. (Those huge double-decker auto carriers seem to rock back and forth because their center of gravity is so high—and I always think they’ll topple over, squashing me like a bug.)
At exit 29, with Hartford in view, I turn off onto I- 84 which is a really boring hour-long stretch until I pick up the Mass Pike at Sturbridge and know I’m only 20 minutes from home.
While driving, I have plenty of time to think about some of the minor annoyances encountered on the road —especially for a crone who is a rather tentative and fearful driver. (Let me say here that in the past 34 years, I’ve never had a speeding ticket and never been in an accident when I was at the wheel --knock on wood! My insurance company ranks me as the safest driver in the family.)
Here are thoughts that passed through my idle mind today as I was driving —not complaints, actually, just observations.
--Have you ever noticed that when some idiot is weaving in and out, speeding like crazy or hanging on your bumper in the silver lane because he thinks you should go faster than 75-- it’s often someone in a red car or red flat-bed truck?
--And when some centenarian ahead of you is going so slowly that you are forced to pass them, it’s often someone in a white or black car? Who is barely tall enough to see over the steering wheel.
--And when you’re trying to merge into a speedy flow of traffic, when someone finally does slow down and wave you in, have you noticed that it’s inevitably a woman?
--But when you’re in the left-hand lane and signal that you want to move to the right lane (because your exit is coming up), most men will immediately speed up upon seeing your turn signal, blocking you and making it impossible for you to change lanes.
--And then, when you discover that there is a long line of cars waiting to turn off at your exit , and you’re sitting patiently in line practicing your deep breathing exercises, some people have no scruples about jumping the line, speeding up to the front and then forcing their way onto the exit ramp, who do you think those line jumpers are? (Hint, I’m married to one. My blue Prius blushes pink every time he does this.)
--And one more observation —who do you think is more likely to jump the queue at the gas station, forget to put the cap back on the gas tank, and neglect to take the receipt for the gas? No hints here.
My kids and my husband think I’m a lousy driver because I frequently move my foot from the accelerator to the brake pedal and never drive over 80 miles per hour (or under the speed limit), but my Prius and my insurance company like my driving just fine. And every time I complete the trek from Manhattan to home I tell myself, “You’ve come a long way, Baby!”
In the April issue of Vanity Fair Magazine there was an article about the fabled Barbizon Hotel for Women, which served as a protective place for single women to stay in Manhattan. I wrote a letter to the VF editors about my brief stay there when I was a Mademoiselle Magazine guest editor back in 1961. Part of my letter is published in the current (June) issue of VF on page 62. But since they only printed the beginning, I wanted to share the whole letter (below) because there was a point that I’d like to make: There is no opportunity for young women today to get a foot up the ladder of success in the arts like the now-dead Guest Editor contest (and other, similar contests). Instead there are only reality shows which encourage bad behavior and drama instead of actual talent.
To: Vanity Fair letters
Reading the article by Michael Callahan about the Barbizon Hotel brought back memories of the day in June 1961 when I walked into my closet-sized room there, fresh from sophomore final exams in Appleton, Wisconsin, to find on the narrow bed a single red rose and a list of the month of activities that awaited me as a Mademoiselle Magazine Guest Editor.
They included interviews with celebrities whose work we admired (mine was artist Larry Rivers), silly photo shoots in Central Park, a makeover, a movie premier, a champagne airplane dinner flight over Manhattan as the sun set, fashion shows and P.R. breakfasts, many featuring caviar, which I had never seen before.
As we headed from the Barbizon toward the Mlle. Magazine offices each day, we Guest Eds smirked at the Katie Gibbs girls who were forced to wear white gloves, heels and stockings to their lessons in shorthand and typing.
That month-long taste of New York sophistication and glamour threw many innocent young women for a loop—just as it drove Sylvia Plath’s character, in The Bell Jar to toss her fashionable clothes off the hotel roof, suffer a nervous breakdown and ultimately attempt suicide.
(When I was there, Plath’s book hadn’t yet been published, but I heard rumors of how her 1953 crop of Guest Eds suffered food poisoning in the Good Housekeeping Test Kitchens-- an episode recreated in TheBell Jar.)
While I was there, I saw Guest Editors change their names to sound more sophisticated, pursue the divorced son of Editor Betsy Talbot Blackwell in hopes of scoring a job, try to talk themselves onto the Today show and desperately volley for a place on the masthead (even though you pretty much needed independent wealth to pay for the necessary wardrobe.)
We were received by Helena Rubenstein and Elizabeth Arden. There was always a de rigueur cocktail party at BTB’s apartment overlooking Central Park with a strolling accordionist. (One of the Guest Eds. later told me, “Every time someone started speaking French, I’d dig my heels harder into her cork floor.”)
The young man who was assigned to escort me to the Mlle. Dinner Dance (with Lester Lanin’s orchestra) later asked me to meet his parents at their Long Island country club on the weekend. (He also taught me to eat an artichoke and introduced me to my first Communist—at the White Horse Bar.)
With my Midwestern naiveté, I dressed in “slacks”, but when he arrived to collect me, the Barbizon fashion police at the desk would not allow me to walk the several yards from the elevator across the lobby to the exit. I was sent back to my tiny room to don something more appropriate.
Yes the Barbizon’s rules were insulting and repressive to the women who stayed there. It’s fun to regale my daughters with tales of the bad old days for young would-be career women. But in the Mademoiselle Guest Editor Contest, we had something that is no longer available to ambitious young females. (The program ended in 1979, the magazine folded in 2001.)
We were judged strictly on our talents, not our looks, wealth or personality.
We won the Guest Ed spots, through a series of try-outs—three as I recall, rating our work in art, photography, writing, cartooning, or poetry—unlike Glamour’s Best Dressed College Girls—who were chosen on the basis of how they looked in photographs of three outfits.
Among the women who got their first break through the Mlle. Contest were: Betsey Johnson, Joan Didion, Gael Greene, Carol Brightman, Francine du Plessix Gray, Ann Beattie, Mona Simpson, Linda Allard, and of course Sylvia Plath.
Today, ambitious young women have no opportunity to be judged on the basis of their talents. Their only options are American Idol and reality shows which promote appearance, sexual attraction and outrageous behavior over actual talent in the arts.
So in this enlightened era, despite all the hurdles I faced trying to get a foot into journalism back in the early sixties, I remember the Barbizon, with its parietal rules and the Mlle. Guest Editor contest with nostalgia.
And I have a plea on behalf of young women in the hinterlands of the U.S. who would like a first step up the ladder: bring back something like the Barbizon and the Mlle. Guest Editor contest!
On Mothers' Day the world will also celebrate the 50th anniversary of the contraceptive birth control pill developed by doctors Gregory Pincus and John Rock at the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, only a few miles from where I live.
Feminists in 1960 cited the pill as the most important discovery since fire. But for my generation, it turned out to be a mixed blessing, although it has saved countless women from dying after backstreet abortions and has helped families around the world stop having more children than they could feed or care for.
In 1963-64 when I was a 23-year-old graduate student at Columbia University in New York, I knew women with unwanted pregnancies who flew to Puerto Rico, got in a taxicab at the airport and asked the driver to take them to an illegal abortionist, where they would pay a lot of money for a procedure that took place in horrific conditions. (I know one who came back from Puerto Rico only to discover the baby was still growing inside her. She ultimately had it and put it up for adoption.)
When I started dating the man who is now my husband (40th anniversary coming up in September), I called the Columbia University health services and asked for the name of a gynecologist. They suggested a woman with a practice near Park Avenue on the East Side.
I went to see her and after she examined me, I asked for a prescription for the new birth control pills. (They were marketed as “Enovid”.) She wrote out the prescription and then asked me if I wanted her to do the blood test then and there.
“What blood test?” I asked.
“For your marriage license,” she replied.
I told her that I was not scheduled to be married. She stared at me, visibly shocked and disturbed, but said nothing and handed me the prescription. Embarrassed, I left and on the way out, I paid for my visit with a check. It was a small amount — something like ten dollars. As time passed and my bank statements came, I eventually realized that the doctor never cashed my check.
Thinking back, I decided that she may have feared that I was there undercover, testing to see if she would give the pill to a young woman who openly said she was not getting married. (I’m sure all her other patients lied.) Giving me the prescription may have been illegal or risking her medical license. I don’t know. (I just looked it up and, sure enough, the pill was not legal or available for unmarried women until 1972. So I was a criminal in 1964—or my doctor was.]
Today, with birth control pills constantly advertised on television — citing them as good not only for birth control but also to cure acne and just about everything else — young women may not realize how difficult it once was to obtain any kind of birth control. (Now there are whole aisles in the drug store called “Family Planning!”)
My grandmother, who was married to a Presbyterian minister in Oklahoma Indian Territory, had two college degrees before 1900, but she also gave birth to nine children, the last one when she was 49 years old and had snow-white hair. My mother told me how her mother wept when she learned she was pregnant with the last two.
The birth control pill is definitely a great boon to womankind—even though it did not have the anticipated result of lowering divorce and eliminating all unwanted pregnancies, much less eliminating poverty and war. It has definitely given women more control over their own bodies and fate.
But those first birth control pills taken by my generation in the sixties had much higher levels of hormones than today’s pills (higher than was necessary, it turned out.) Those first pills caused blood clots, and some of the women who took them died. And though I don’t have medical expertise and am certainly not a doctor, I suspect that the breast cancer epidemic that has touched nearly every woman of my age in some way may be partly the result of the amounts of hormones we received during our fertile years from those first pills.
Why do I suspect the pill contributes to breast cancer? Because every time I go in for a mammogram I’m asked how many years I took it and which years they were.
So on the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the birth control pill, we can give thanks for the benefits it has brought to the world and to women in particular, but we should also stop to think of those pioneers who took the first birth control pill and did not survive to enjoy their crone-hood.
In honor of Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday that is celebrated more in the U.S. than across the border, I’m posting some photos of my studio, which is a celebration of Mexico, its art and folk customs. It’s also an informal exhibition of treasures collected during travels to Mexico, Greece, and India. It throws Hindu gods, carved wooden crucifixes, figures of saints and angels and goddesses together in one overcrowded space, but they all seem to be happy together.
Our house is an antique New England farmhouse and every other room is decorated in character, with Windsor chairs, blanket chests, stencils of pineapples and antique quilts. But in my studio I’ve gone crazy with primitive art and color and my favorite collectibles. (As I mentioned the other day, I seem to collect EVERYTHING.)
One wall is all book cases and cabinets built to hold my books on art and photography. In the cabinets below are craft supplies and many glass-topped display cases with my antique cased images (daguerreotypes and ambrotypes) sorted according to category.
That makes it all sound organized, but, as you can see from the photos, it’s pretty much a mess, which I think is an artist’s prerogative. (Who said a messy desk indicates a creative mind? It certainly wasn’t my mother!)
Right now it’s messier than usual because I’ve been pulling out my watercolors of Greek scenes and people in preparation for the Grecian Festival art exhibit at our church, St. Spyridon Cathedral, coming up on June 4, 5 & 6.
While photographing my studio, I realized that it’s not only a celebration of Mexico and India, it’s also a celebration of women (especially Crone power!) There are so many angels, saints and goddesses, subconsciously chosen, I think, to direct their divine powers toward my painting and photography.
And everywhere there are handmade textiles and embroideries, carvings and paintings, mostly made by women and attesting to their religious or political beliefs and hopes.
Most of the women in Mexico and India who sold me their handiwork are living on the edge of poverty, using their talents and skills to survive. I feel very fortunate that I can not only travel and admire their work and afford to buy it, but that I also have a room of my own to display and enjoy it.
If you look closely at the photos you will see:
On the wall – hupils—embroidered blouses from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec-- which the indigenous women still wear as part of their local costumes. The various designs and colors identify the village they come from.
Hindu gods and goddesses—all in a row. Retablos—paintings on metal asking for a favor from a saint or thanking the divine powers for favors received.
Greek votives figures (tamata)—silver or tin shapes that are hung on icons, to do pretty much the same thing.
Dolls from my vast collection of dolls of the world—including women and children dressed as Zapatista leader Commandante Marcos—masked with guns and ammunition belts!
A book of Graciela Iturbide photographs.
A cross made out of bottle caps
Kites of paper designed by the famous Oaxacan artist Francesco Toledo who celebrates his Mayan ancestry.
Day of the Dead posters from Oaxaca.
Wooden animals (Alebrijes) carved in Oaxaca of copal wood
Carved textile stamps from India for making block-printed fabrics.
An embroidered pillow from Guatemala, of a man walking through what appears to be a graveyard.
I’ve mentioned before that I love reading New York Times obituaries, because I keep finding out about wonderful people I’ve never heard of (like the man who invented the Frisbee) who have led remarkable lives.
Imagine my delight when I saw on the FRONT PAGE of The New York Times on April 30 a photo of the wonderful “We are happy to serve you” blue-and-white paper cup with the Greek design that is so familiar to New Yorkers. The headline was: “Thank Leslie Buck, Dead at 87, For the Black, No Sugar, to Go”.
I read it and learned that the man who designed the cup, Leslie Buck was not a designer and not Greek, but was a survivor of both Auschwitz and Buchenwald. His parents were killed by the Nazis. He came to the U.S. after the war and with his brother, who also survived the camps, started a paper cup manufacturing company in Mount Vernon, NY in the late 1950’s.
Leslie Buck joined the Sherri Cup Company in Kensington, Conn. in the mid-‘60’s and eventually became its director of marketing. According to the Times, “Since many of the city’s diners were owned by Greeks, Mr. Buck hit on the idea of a Classical cup in the colors of the Greek flag. Though he had no formal training in art, he executed the design himself. It was an instant success.”
He named the cup “The Anthora”, which his son said was taken from “Amphora” as filtered through Mr. Buck’s Eastern European accent.
The design of the coffee cup became an instant New York icon, eventually as famous as the Statue of Liberty, and spawned many knock-offs. The Times obit waxed rhapsodic: “A pop-culture totem, the Anthora has been enshrined in museums; its likeness has adorned tourist memorabilia like T-shirts and ceramic mugs.”
Well, back when I lived in New York in the sixties and seventies I fell in love with the Greek coffee cups found in virtually every diner, and I started collecting the different designs. (Okay, I have a little problem with collecting EVERYTHING. Just don’t tell the people who run that reality show ”Hoarders” who keep having interventions with people like me.)
In honor of Mr. Buck, who designed the Anthora, I have dug out and photographed a few of my collection above—showing both the front and back of the four designs. (The cup in the middle, holding pencils, is ceramic and I use it in my studio. It shows the original design. ) I also have a soft, flat coin purse bought by my daughter from MOMA which looks like one of these cups—a NYC in-joke referencing the paper cups held by street beggars in Manhattan to collect coins.
Now I wish I’d collected more of the fabulous blue and white cups, because the Times said that they “may now be endangered, the victim of urban gentrification.”
Collect them while you can—just imagine what they’ll sell for someday on Ebay!
And while we’re on the subject of coffee cups, I’m throwing in a photo of two charming prints of watercolors that I bought a couple days ago. The watercolors are the work of artist John Gaston, who runs Gastonart & Frame, where I get my paintings framed. It’s on the Boston Turnpike in Shrewsbury, MA, and I think that Gaston’s watercolors of his humble coffee and pie are just as good, if not better than, the famous food paintings of Wayne Thiebaud, (and a lot cheaper.)
After 40 years as a journalist, I turned 60 and decided to return to my first love--painting. I’ve exhibited watercolors and photographs in Massachusetts and have a slide show of paintings below. My photo book “The Secret Life of Greek Cats” can be purchased by clicking on the cover below.
I collect way too many things, but my great passion is antique photographs, from the earliest—daguerreotypes (circa 1840) up to 1900 (cabinet cards, tintypes.) I approach each one as a mystery to solve, and in unlocking their secrets have met some fascinating historic figures. For some of the stories, check the list of “The Story Behind the Photograph”.
My husband Nick and I live in Grafton, MA and recently celebrated our 41st anniversary. We have 3 children, now amazing adults. And on Aug. 26, 2011, we greeted our first grandchild, Amalía-- world’s cutest baby. But this blog isn’t about grandparenting (although photos of the grandkid sneak in). As it says up top, it’s about travel, art, photography and life after sixty. And crone power.