It has been a beautiful summer in Up-North Michigan, with more warm, sunny days than cool, rainy ones (though when they come, the rain falls hard and fast!)
When I returned after a few days at home, I found that our neighbors to the south (the ones who raped the land when they built their house that looks like a doctor's office in a strip mall from the road with a heliport for a driveway) had built a big, long fence!
I will say this pleased me enormously because although I hate the idea of separating cottages, I got so upset whenever I looked at it that I feel like now I don't have to see it -- or their mean, scary dog that looks something like Cujo and sounds even more like him! But I digress. I don't think my little house is so ugly it should be blocked off, but I guess they do so we're even!
The days have been for painting, but the evenings finding me enjoying the porch as late as I can, savoring the sunsets and more often than not, with a book.
A few years ago, Rick and I spent a wonderful week on Martha's Vineyard. It was there I enjoyed one of the most remarkable and memorable experiences of my life -- The Grand Illumination (which I wrote about HERE.) I so loved the lanterns decorating the Vineyard cottages, I knew I had to put some on the porch.
So every night as the sun begins to set, spreading a palette of colors I can only dream of capturing with my paints, I turn on the lanterns.
And I watch as that sun sinks slowly behind the trees on my horizon and the sky becomes its own watercolor.
In between admiring gazes, I read and this summer I've enjoyed more than a few books. One was a very special find from Loganberry Bookstore in Cleveland. Written in 1950 by Marion Crawford, the first edition of "The Little Princesses" was a rare find. (It has been reprinted and is available online.)
"Crawfie" was Princess Elizabeth and Margaret's governess and was with the Royal Family for seventeen years. After her marriage (and that of Elizabeth to Prince Philip) she retired and did the royal sin -- writing about the personal life of the royals from the insider's perspective. The book was mostly loving and admiring but with a bit of gentle vinegar at times and revealing some personal details that the Queen (aka the Queen Mother) found too personal. They believed Crawfie shared a little too much detail for the royal family and they cut her off completely, removing her from the grace-and-favor home at Kensington Palace and never speaking again. The book, popular in the U.S. went out of print for many years. (Here's a short but interesting article on that from The Guardian.)
I skipped into a couple of quick mysteries next. First, another Maigret book by Georges Simenon -- "Maigret and the Death of a Harbormaster." I really enjoy this series and have a few more on tap for the summer.
And, as a Perry Mason fan, I realized I'd never read one of Earl Stanley Gardner's books about the famous attorney -- just about guaranteed to get any murder client off! So, "The Case of the Borrowed Brunette" was a fun read.
Rita from Sketchbook Wandering mentioned this book in one of her posts -- "Carnet de Paris 7e & 15e Arrondissements" by Rene Ochia.
I could pick out some of the French, but that's not why I bought it, as you might imagine!
Check out these terrific illustrations. I find them inspiring and something to focus on in trying to really define my painting style.
I'm trying to become more "free" in my work -- and that's hard. But he manages both great detail and a sense of freedom and lightness in his work that I greatly admire. Plus, it's fun to see his interpretation of places like Rue Cler, that I have seen myself! (Here)
Another Loganberry find was this Susan Branch cookbook, "Vineyard Seasons."
It's tomato season and I'll be trying this recipe and no doubt many others from this delightful book that is filled with her inspiring watercolor illustrations. More motivation!
Meanwhile, I have a good companion, day or night!
Thanks for joining me for a bit of my "grand illumination."
I leave you at the end of the day.
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