Tag Archives: Berkeley Springs

rings of eternal strength

Friend, artist, and current Berkeley Springs neighbor* Michael Gotwald gave me two iron hoops he no longer needed for the wheels for his non-existent buggy.  I buried the bigger one in the meadow and mowed a fairy ring around it.

The smaller one is suspended at the end of the porch, creating a visual hook but not a barrier. Inside it is a small element of fired clay.

*His sweet place on Hageman Street is for sale.

wilds of West Virginia

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If you think these are not wild carrots, please do not let me know until tomorrow, after they have been sauteed in butter and eaten.

the past is prologue

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William moves on in the Berkeley Springs renovation, last weekend tearing down bedroom walls with the intent of putting up better ones. Soon.

There on the electrical box is a chunk of plaster from the demo — hidden under paint, wallpaper and paneling — that happens to match the bathrobe on the goose painting in the kitchen up there.

Coincidence? or just spooky?

photo by me, October 2015

the larder fills and empties, the to-do list grows

3 January 2015 (out of range for a few days)

Haiku for today:

The sky is leaden,
Rain falls liquid and solid.
Best stay warm in bed.

Well, William did, deservedly, until about 10. I favor inclement weather, so got up earlier at the sound of rain on a metal roof, to make coffee, build a fire, write some words, and enjoy this transforming place.

Those tasks planned for the first day of the new year are accomplished, and more. I also baked bread, turned dry beans into a soup, made a list of what’s needed and procured supplies for the “larder.” (Listening to Bill Bryson’s At Home as an audio book, we learned the origin of that term is not really lard, but rather the word for “bacon,” and thus referred to the room where meats and food were stored.) I have spent some time with poetry books and with pottery magazines, where I did not look at just the pictures, but also read the stories, learning about glazes and kilns, what I should know but do not.

The accomplishments of these first days lead to new ideas for more projects — domestic, artistic and linguistic.

music soothes beasts

2 January 2015 (off-line for a few days)

Haiku for today:

That music soothes beasts
Has never been disputed.
The Black Cat heals woes.

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It’s Friday night at the Black Cat School of Rock, blessedly just down the hill from our house. A group of mostly regular characters shows up for open-mic night in this one-room school. The playlist is mainly rock, but also some blues, bluegrass, and grocer Tim Newton’s beautiful, sad ballad “Timber and Coal,” lamenting the enduring loss that quick fortunes brought to a West Virginia town.

Someone (the owner?) has baked cookies and served potato chips on a platter on the piano, in proximity to the big tip jar, which is also passed around the room.

(William always marvels at how the performers fearlessly “put it all out there,” saying he could never do that. Maybe one day he will.)

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Perky Yellow for a happy new year

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Haiku for today:

A new day, new year.
McCormick’s “Perky Yellow”
Gives warm glow in Bath.

We have come up to Berkeley Springs (the historic town of Bath), with, as usual, a long list of alterations, beautifications, and general improvements in mind. I drove up one a day earlier than William, anxious to get to the homemaking here that I don’t do at home. I have paint to be applied, curtains and rods to be hung, shower curtain to be replaced, home to be made.

Early humans probably draped some tissue over gaps in walls without giving it much thought, but I started days ago with a visit to JC Penney, where I burned through an hour of a worker’s time as I struggled with too many choices of fabric to cover windows. Ridiculous. That fiber choice steered to a paint chip selection – Perky Yellow it is, mixed up at Hunter’s Hardware.

I called sister-in-law Erica after prepping, but before dipping a brush, to share with someone the anxiety of committing wet paint to wall. “Oh, like glazing a pot,” she said. Yes, like that.

Two walls are newly yellow with paint and fabric, giving a boost to the artwork acquired a year ago for the then bare, white walls, and the house is transformed. Happy new year.

when you wash the dishes, they also wash you

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When I was little, washing dishes was a shared activity. Washing with my Grandma Swanson in Cloquet, Minnesota, is one of the clear memories I have of her.  She said to use really hot water, dried plates and glasses with a cloth — no air-drying. She talked about things — she was the mother for all my father’s teenage friends, the one who made sure they bought corsages for the prom.

Was she a calm person, or is it the hands and arms in warm water that is soothing to everyone?   That association will always stick for me.

Note to architects:  the kitchen sink must pair with a window.

CIMG2337Our kitchen at Berkeley Springs, November 2014 (photo mine).