Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I started a blog post over a week ago - and this is as far as I got:

I've been trying to think of a way to concisely tell you everything that has happened in the past couple of months, including my house and lot selling, then my dad dying, then my commercial building selling, then my very dear friend Viki dying, then my offer on a house in Vermont being accepted -- but it's too much to fit in one sentence.  (HA, see what I did there?)  So much in my life has changed this fall, it has been almost impossible to keep up.  The end result will be my moving back to Vermont next week.  Roxie and I are having a goodbye party after work today, and I'm sure there will be lots of tears.

Perhaps later I will regret not keeping closer tabs on everything that has been happening, but right now I'm just overwhelmed.  I'm writing this final blog post of 2013 from the couch in my mother's house in Killington, Vermont.  We ended our five day drive today.  Since Friday mid-day, mom, poodle and I have been in Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and now Vermont.  We had some seriously bad weather in North Dakota and more seriously bad weather around Buffalo, New York.  Other than that, ... piece of cake.  We spent a night in Billings, MT, then Valley City, North Dakota (damn crazy wind), a night with Lolly and Paulina (and Max!) in Evanston, Illinois, and a night in Fredonia, New York.  The only casualty was the hydraulic arm on the rear window of the jeep, which gave up the ghost in the -13 degree temps in North Dakota and sprayed pink foamy stuff all over the place.  I hope that's not an expensive fix.

Tomorrow will be a day of sleeping late and doing nothing, partly because I'm ready for a day of not getting up when the number on the clock starts with a "7", and partly because I'm ready for a day of doing nothing, but mostly because I'm going to do laundry tonight so all of my clothes will probably still be wet tomorrow.  The moving truck with all my crapola isn't scheduled to arrive in Burlington until the 7th, which means I won't see it until the 8th at the earliest.  Between now and then we will be heading to Morrisville so I can have a last minute meeting with the sellers to get answers to all my little questions, like how to work the generator they are leaving for me and where to find the water shut-off valves.  Then we are going to a memorial service on Friday, and back to Morrisville on Saturday to paint some walls before the furniture arrives.  Pictures to follow.

Now, time for my second round of Chinese food, then some bubbly, then some serious mind-numbing tv watching.  The past few months have been so unpredictable with ups and downs - it reminds me of the post I wrote on January 2, 2011.  I leave you with that same post:

It's going to be a bumpy ride, whether you take the freeway or the road less traveled.  Potholes.  Black ice.  Construction delays.  Unavoidable detours.  Last year I hit a deer.  Last week I ran out of gas.  But for every valley there is a hill, and sometimes, when you least expect it, you crest a hill and the view just takes your breath away.  Crest more hills, my friends.  I wish you breathtaking views.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

One Tree, Two Tree....

ACK!  POODLE!  WHERE ARE YOUR LEGS???  That does NOT look comfortable.

Anyway, here we are at work, and not a single person has come in.  It is one hell of a dreary day outside.  So I'm varnishing the trees I painted after work yesterday.  I've got a sneak peek but first, did I show you the painting I finished the other day/last week/sometime in the recent past?

It's a poodle painting, because she is my little spoon.  Derek thinks the words are too subtle, but it's a night time painting, so dark and subtle are okay.  (Hark!  People just came in!  Back in a few....)

Okay, that was quick.  Here is what the work table looked like this morning:

That's seven new trees, plus the one I painted last week.  Tammy wants five so I figured I would give her a couple extra from which to choose.  Here are some quick pictures of how they look now, wearing their first coat of varnish:

I never know how these are going to come out, and each one is always very different.  My favorite is either the first one or the one with the crooked top.

I checked the extended forecast today and I'm glad I did - we've got some crazy cold nonsense coming our way.  By Tuesday or Wednesday the nighttime temps are going to be in the single digits, with a windchill in the negative numbers.  Time to turn on the heat in the upstairs bathroom, and maybe suck it up and turn up my living room heat.  I was hoping all the boxes I've got packed and stacked around my bedroom and living room would help cut down the chill factor but, alas, not so much.  At least I know the power outage the other day was due to some dumbass in a pickup truck hitting a transformer rather than a potentially worrisome repeatable issue.  Although out here, a dumbass in a pickup truck hitting a transformer IS a potentially worrisome repeatable issue.  I've got just under a month left in my very cold little home, so here's wishing for a December full of balmy days and low electric bills.  (Ha ha ha, yes, I know, but a girl's gotta dream.)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Plan B

I had big plans last night.  It took me an entire day to recover from Thanksgiving (which was a lovely, lively dinner with Eletra, Wayne, Derek, Mandi, Greg, Corina, Dylan, Denis, Helen, Anne, Jon and Suzi) but by the time the work day was over I felt I could think about food again.  Poodle and I drove to the grocery store on icy roads, then went home and immediately turned on the portable heater.  I call it the fire - I turned on the fire.  It was cold!  Really, it was C.O.L.D.  I was going to cook some dinner and eat it while reading the magazine I just bought, then pack a couple of boxes and cook some chicken for lunches and start some paintings.  I have been commissioned to paint five (FIVE!) tree paintings like this one as Christmas gifts:

Woo hoo!  I figured with the fire on, and the oven on, it might be warm enough to not worry about the paint cracking while it dried.  I was all set to experiment with drying the paintings in my toaster oven if need be; wicked low heat - it could work.  So here I am with bulk Italian sausage cooking on the stove and while I am mid-chop with the cabbage, ... wait for it ... the power went out.  Let me say that again.  THE POWER WENT OUT.  It was about 6:15 or so.  sigh.  I rounded up all my candles (five of them) and put fresh batteries in my tiny little flashlight.  Poodle and I huddled under a comforter on the couch, reading my new magazine by flashlight, with ten frozen fingers and one frozen nose.  The power came back on at 10:30.  Needless to say I had a really late dinner, no chicken was cooked, and I packed my stuff and brought it to work today so I can paint here after we close.

Note to self:  get more candles and a bigger flashlight.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A little here, a little there....

There have been crazy things happening around here, leaving me no time to update my blog.

Actually, that's totally not true.  There have been crazy things happening, yes, but I still have time to go home at night and become one with my couch.  But I haven't been writing anything here.  I think I'm so overwhelmed with the good, the bad and the ugly -- I don't know where to start.  So let's skip it all and just talk about paint.  Yes, I HAVE painted a few things lately.  First there is a butterfly.  I named it Jewel Tones:

It's not half bad.  The colors in the first photo are more accurate - the background is more of a purpley blue.  Next I painted a donation for the Museum's annual Festival of Trees fundraiser.  This one is called Lightly Falling Snow:

And since we were painting trees, here is a single for the gallery.  I named it Evergreen.  Hope I haven't already used that name.

Let's see, what else.  Oh - I found an older piece leaning against my refrigerator.  I hadn't varnished it because it is in the questionable pile, but now I like it.  It is called First Snow, Harvest Moon.  The panel is 18" wide x 14" high so it is on the big side for me.  It is nothing special, but I like the moon.

That's it for now, except for two things.  Thing one is a sunset in my jeep:

And thing two is a sleepy poodle:

That's my girl.
The end.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Cool and Crisp

Cool and crisp.  That's what the days are like here in western Montana right now.  All sorts of crazy nonsense has been happening in the past weeks, and I will get you all caught up soon, but first here are some pictures of Monday afternoon.

We walked down to the river for the first time in ages.  Can you see Roxie in that first picture?  She's a black speck over on the left.  We missed peak Montana foliage, but it is still beautiful.

Here is the painting I finished just before my trip to Vermont - it represents autumn and the change of seasons:

For sure, this is one of those pieces you need to see in real life to appreciate.  (Hmmm.  As I was typing the last sentence, I typed "shit" instead of "this."  Hidden meaning there?)

And here is the best photo I will take of Montana foliage ever:

Poodle and the very rare Wild Rocky Mountain Flamingos.  We've got a nesting pair in the yard.  Awesome.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Painted on the Sky

We had some motivational issues at work yesterday so we closed at 2pm.  It was a beautiful autumn afternoon, and it was much better to be out in the world rather than inside with our noses pressed against the window, wishing we were outside.

Speaking of none of that, here is one thing about photography that I find fascinating:

I love how changing the focus just a tiny bit creates a totally different picture.  Yeah, I'm weird that way.

This beastie has been parked out front for about a week:

Isn't it awesome?

Roxie and I used this bad boy as a background for a mini photo shoot yesterday.  I felt like I was taking her senior pictures.

Bones came over for a little bit, too.  He is such a sweet boy.  Poodle is going to miss him when we move, so we need to arrange some play dates at the halfway point.  Like Nebraska.  Where is Nebraska, anyway?  I need a map.

I have some paintings to show you.  Did I ever post a picture of the griffin?  It has been in the questionable pile so I forgot about it.  Found it again yesterday and decided it was worthy of another coat of varnish.  But I forgot to take a picture.  And I don't have a picture of the hot mess, either.  Yes, a hot mess.  It's a rooster that, ... well, he defies explanation.  I will show you that one later, too.  You get the good with the bad here, people.  Here is some good:

 This is one I started the other night when I was painting something for my dad.  I'm going to call it "Last Light of October."  Or something like that.  And here is the one I named "Painted on the Sky."  If you can name the tune from whence that lyric comes in 10 seconds or less, you get bonus points.

It's a small piece, 7" wide by 5" high, but I like it.  And so do you.  Last but not least is another one I painted for my dad.  I don't know what to call it yet, but I love that the heart is the color of Spam.  I want to have this printed as postcards or notecards.

And that's all she wrote.  For today.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

" I yam what I yam...."

A friend recently told me, speaking from experience, that no matter how prepared you think you are for the death of a loved one, it still comes as a shock.  You know what?  She was right.  Eleven days ago, my dad died.  His passing did not come as a surprise, but it was still a shock.  Some days I'm okay and can talk about it without crying, yet other days I can't get past the tears.  I think about one little thing and boom.  In fact, I'm crying right now.

I believe experiencing loss is an integral part of our emotional growth.  When that loss involves death, however, especially the death of someone to whom we are close, the aftermath is different.  The questions are bigger.  And I can't figure out how to verbalize what is going on in my head - it's crazy nonsense in there.  Faith, karma, life after death, being in a "better place", - these are big issues.  I've had troubling thoughts even before dad died; he had more health crises just this past year than I've had my entire life.  How is that fair?  Coming to a place of understanding and acceptance will be a difficult journey.

A while back my dad sent me an email that I wanted to keep forever, but Yahoo had other ideas.  In a nutshell, he told me he was proud of me.  He said, "My daughter the artist.  I never thought I would be able to say that."  So last night I cranked up John Denver's Greatest Hits, and painted something for my dad.  It's not ready for me to share - I named it "Painted on the Sky" but it isn't finished yet - so instead today I want to share a few photographs, each one worth a thousand words.  This is my dad.

Kenneth P. Keim was born on September 14, 1936 in Queens, New York.  He graduated from LaSalle High School in Manhattan, and went on to electrician apprentice school.  He became a Journeyman Electrician and then a foreman, and was a member of the New York City IBEW for 13 years.

Ken joined the U.S. Navy, where he was a Second Class Petty Officer and Aviation Electrician Mate, first in Brunswick, Maine (where he learned to ski) and then at the NATO Naval Base in Sicily.

He met Patricia Ann Kebe on a blind date, and they married on October 9, 1965.  In 1968 they moved their growing family to Killington, where they put down roots and involved themselves in the humble beginnings of a small ski town.  Pat was elected Town Treasurer, a position she held for many years, and Ken arrived at just the right time to fill the shoes of the only electrician in town, who was retiring.

In his spare time in Killington, Ken volunteered his services in many ways.  He served on the Sherburne Volunteer Fire Department, as Deputy Chief, Vice President and President.  He was a longtime Parish Council member at Our Lady of the Mountains, and helped coordinate with the United Church of Christ on common projects.  He was also a founding member of the ecumenical Easter Sunrise Service.  Ken served on the committees that built the “new” Sherburne Elementary School and the Johnson Recreation Center in the early 1970s.  When Josephine Blanchard suggested the town should have fireworks on the 4th of July, Ken took the idea and ran with it, ordering the fireworks, building ground displays, organizing volunteers and setting off the fireworks with a flare stuck on the end of a 2x4.  He was a charter member of the Killington-Pico Rotary Club, and was their first Paul Harris Fellow.  He filled many elected and appointed Town positions, including Town Auditor, Town Agent, Fence Viewer, Energy Coordinator, and Weigher of Coal.  Ken and Pat hosted several KTP (later KMS) students in their home.  Ken was a USSA Alpine Official; he volunteered at Killington Ski Club as their Alpine start Official for many years.  His latest project was researching a way to preserve Bob Perry’s 16mm films of the Killington Ski Area; he felt very strongly that Bob’s enormous contribution to Killington’s history needed to be preserved and shared for generations to come.

Ken’s interests were varied and many.  He was a voracious reader, an avid telemark skier, an accomplished photographer, a casual golfer, a frequent traveler, a savvy eBay shopper, and a talented storyteller.  He was always ready with a joke.  And through it all he battled numerous health issues, many stemming from Crohn’s Disease, with humor and grace.

Ken passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early morning hours of Friday, September 20, 2013.  He received wonderful care at the Mountain View Center in his last weeks, and at the Rutland Regional Medical Center over the years.

He is predeceased by his parents, John and Rita (nee McGrath) Keim, his brother Arthur, and several childhood friends.  He is survived by his wife Patricia; daughters Ann Marie and her husband Aidan Thomas, Christine Vandeberg, and Kathy and her husband John Ferrara; grandchildren Delaney Thomas, Liam Thomas, Abby Ferrara and Evan Ferrara; sisters Rita and Dorothy; sister-in-law Patricia; nephews Glenn and Robert; cousins Diane, Lois and Ed.  He was also much loved by an extended family, close childhood friends, equally close local friends and a community that meant a lot to him.

A celebration of Ken’s life will be held at the Summit Lodge in Killington on Saturday, October 12, from 3:00 to 8:00.  All are welcome to join the family for beer, wine and light food.  There will be an open mic, so please come ready to share your stories and jokes.  A Mass will precede the celebration at 1:00 at Our Lady of the Mountains.

In lieu of flowers, donations are very welcome to the Bob Perry Film Restoration Project.  Checks can be sent to the Killington Town Office at P.O. Box 429, Killington, VT 05751.

“I yam what I yam and tha’s all what I yam.”  - Popeye

Another friend, after reading the obituary, said this:  "He lived and that is what I am reading here about your dad ... he lived a full life.  We must all take notice and remember to live!"   Yes, he did.  What a lesson for us all.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Do as I say, not as I do.

Last week on Monday I had an experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.  If, say, I had a worst enemy.  In the aftermath of this experience, I want to offer you all - whoever you are, wherever you are - a piece of advice.  Listen closely.  If you ever find yourself in the laundromat and you check the pile of books people leave in the corner to share and you find a Danielle Steel book called "44 Charles Street" and it doesn't look that terrible, please - for the love of all that is good in this world - RUN THE OTHER WAY!!!  The back of this book boldly claims that "Everybody reads Danielle Steel."  I am here today to save as many souls as I can from becoming part of "everybody."  The book was the biggest bunch of crap I have ever read.  Seriously.  Crap.  In fact, it was CRAP!  I don't know how her editor lets her get away with such pathetic writing; she could have told the same story in 100 fewer pages.  Repetition, repetition, repetition.  Awful, awful, awful.  Take this advice:  make your mark on the world by being the people who do NOT read Danielle Steel.  It's too late for me, but hopefully it's not too late for you.

Now.  On to other things.  The nice couple who purchased "I Love You Like Peanut Butter and Jelly" while I was in Vermont last month asked for a similar piece, in gold tones.  It took me three tries, but I finally got it.  The first I will keep, even though it is mildly disastrous.  It is called "Love:  Sometimes it Gets Messy." 

See?  Messy.  The second one I threw away.  It was that bad.  And here is the third.  I think it is called "I Love You Like Strawberry Jam."

Of all the goals I set for myself for the month of September, finishing 10 new paintings is the only one I will hit for sure.  If I count the water dragon, which I am, the pear and the wee little flowers, these two XOXO pieces are four and five.  Here is number six:

And here is the start of number seven.

I did finish that one, but I guess I forgot to take another picture.  Number eight is named "Chunk."

Yep, he's a big boy.  Here's another view of number eight, with the results of my exuberance from number nine.

Sigh.  Billy and Mary - if you read this, please note I have already started cleaning the paint off the wall.  Oops.  This is where all that paint was supposed to go:

And there we are so far.  I ran out of varnish and this piece needs a second coat.  Luckily the new supply arrived today.

Poodle and I had a splendid day yesterday.  It was one of those perfect fall days.  We went for a three mile run in the morning (gasp!), then played ball.  In the afternoon I accomplished a task down at the house that I've wanted to do for years.  When the house was built there was a bunch of extra steel siding leftover and it has been in a pile in the shrubbery getting all icky.  I moved all the siding (16 trips) to underneath the deck, and got rid of seven billion square feet of heavy vapor barrier stuff that was under the pile.  Filled up three contractor-size garbage bags.  It was a sweaty and gross task but I'm glad it's finally done.  Then we went back home and walked for two miles.  Poodle helped me vacuum out the jeep before we played ball again.

It was a busy day, and tonight we are going to pack some boxes.  Fun times!