I enjoy painting. I like the methodical motion of the brush. I like the protective quality of paint. I like that I can let my mind wander. The morning was warm and still. Copper, the basset hound who lives down the street, kept me company. His bark is low and mournful. If Copper’s ever in a movie, he’ll be played by James Earl Jones.
Yesterday my friend and I saw The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. While painting, I thought about the movie and my trip to India next week. One of the new visitors is clearly wrong for India. “How can you bear this country? What do you see that I don’t?” she asks.
Tom Wilkinson responds, “Light, colors, smiles. It teaches me something.” She could only see poverty and squalor.
Occasionally a carpenter ant would crawl near a freshly painted spot. I just blew them safely off and kept brushing.
Our side porch is usually a quiet place for morning tea. Busy white-breasted nuthatches yammer insistently, whacking sunflower seeds into the bark of trees to “hatch” out breakfast. Squirrels fuss at one another over territory they’ve staked out. I don’t see why some branches have a higher status than others, but apparently they do. This morning a rollerblader in earbuds whirred by. Mostly, though, it’s quiet.
I heard Can Guy before I saw him, his grocery cart rattling down the alley. Can Guy gathers aluminum cans from dumpsters around the university. Our alley is on his route.
Everyone in our neighborhood was busier than I was this morning. I sat on the porch swing taking in summer.
Sheltered by two chestnuts and a walnut, the ferns in our backyard are unfurled by now. Beneath their canopy live two baby bunnies Tom and I have watched all spring.
Some of what I have learned about photography:
Here’s stuff in the top right drawer of my daughters’ dresser:
I made a light box from 1/2 inch PVC pipe for less than $10. The instructions couldn’t be written more clearly. If you buy PVC at Lowe’s, have the guy cut it. Unless you have a PVC pipe cutter. Then I bow down before you and you totally should cut it yourself.
Light boxes online come with a baffling array of expensive bulbs:
I bought inexpensive bulbs from Lowe’s with Kelvin rating of 6500 and a clean, white light. I also bought cheap clip-on reflector work lights.
Tom added two sheet metal screws to the top rail. I punched holes in poster board and hung it from the screws to form a backdrop. Easy peasy.
I want to build a light box so I can take photos of food, old square nails, and other things I haven’t thought of yet. I’ll put the box on an unused workbench in our basement. This project doesn’t take long unless you first need to clean out the basement, weatherproof the cellar door, hang curtains, and run a source of electricity.
While I was at it, I hung an old curtain. I get creeped out at night if I can’t see someone looking in. No one looks in. I’m not that interesting.
I’ll work on the light box tomorrow.
Two mornings this week, Tom shoveled while I stayed inside eating toast. This morning I made blueberry muffins. In the great division of labor, I’d rather bake than shovel. I feel guilty though, especially since it’s starting to snow again.
Preheat oven to 375. Line muffins tins with paper liners. In a large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, butter, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir to combine. Fold in the frozen blueberries. Divide among the muffin tins and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake about 20-25 minutes. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.
Serve them to your husband on a cold morning and feel less guilty than before.