Just a little bit about my art and life in general....
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

May around the corner ...

I'm usually so excited as the spring continues to unfold. The flowers start adding color to the drab left-overs of winter and the brown grass turns miraculously greener. The trees promising buds of green are suddenly leaves and the world is transformed. But I find this all a little bittersweet without Mark here to share them with. I'm not immune to it though. Those perky daffodils and tiny blue flowers are a little too pretty not to make me smile just a little.

Like every year at this time I've been trying to find a day I can have a bonfire and burn some of the brush. I have the burn permit from the town which expires at the end of April. But the days and weather don't cooperate much. Either too much wind, too much rain, or I'm just busy. We had a lot of prickly brush piled up from all the help from friends last fall when Mark was sick. I managed a small fire yesterday but had to get it out rather quickly so I could leave the house on an errand.

Life has been pretty busy with the girls activities. Both the high school and middle school bands won gold in the MICCA competitions which was exciting. May and the beginning of June promise to be more than busy with all the concerts and recital dates. NEC auditions are coming up too at the beginning of May.

I attended a stone carving class with Adam Paul Heller the second weekend in April down in RI. My idea was that I might learn enough to carve my husband's grave stone. We both have always loved the old slate stones in the graveyard up over the bridge and on a hill above our river. That is where Mark is buried now. The kids have memories of playing hide and seek up there and it was always our first stop on our walks along the old railway tracks.

The class was wonderful. We learned about stone and the carving tools and much about lettering as well. We each had our own work area and a piece of slate secured to an easel-like stand.



I admit it was frustrating at first but over time I was more satisfied with my work. Still it hardly compares with the skill of the masters of this art but it is a joy to be able to carve into something so permanent as stone.

My first practice stone. Letters chosen to practice straight lines, connecting lines, and then curves. Towards the end of the first day I got a little frustrated with the lettering and wanted to try a leaf.



The second day I worked a little more on my leaf and then started on a second stone. I decided to chose letters that meant something to me, hoping I might be a little more meticulous in my carving of them. I laid out the lettering for Mark's name on the slate tile half.



Adam was a wonderful teacher, very encouraging and patient. The other people attending the class were very interesting as well and made the weekend very enjoyable.

The girls were so impressed with my carving of Mark's name that we decided to put it up at the grave until I have his grave stone carved. So far I think I am going to order two matching stones in slate. Eventually one will be mine but if I order it now I can get it to match best. I'm busy trying to get some practice slate to practice my carving on. I don't expect that I'll be able to match the skill of a stone carving artist but I think the process of carving this is important to me.

A few photos from the class ...







Anyway we made a little garden shaped like a heart up on Mark's grave. Back in February and March we had collected loose stones around the grave site and made a heart shape around his photo marker. At the beginning of April the cemetery workers had regraded the area and added topsoil. Our stone heart was gone sadly. In April my mother had put a small planter of pansies in the ground there. Last week when I was picking off the old flowers I decided to toss them over the stone wall. Oddly enough I could see that all our stones we had collected had been tossed there. This was strangely disturbing so I got the kids to help collect the stones in a bucket and we arranged them again as a heart. On Friday I picked up a bunch of pretty plants (blue forget-me-nots, blue violas, wild bleeding heart, thyme, and jacobs ladder) to arrange within the heart. The carved stone we placed in the center. We brought the pansies of my moms back home. With all these rainy drizzly days the plants should fill in nicely. I love the moss that grows around the graveyard here.



The girls really enjoyed making the garden and planting the sweet plants. The youngest was really happy with the result and I was glad that we had done this. I'm not sure what the cemetery commission will say about this but certainly it should be ok for the year it will take me to carve the stone. Besides we are up there so often that we will keep it looking nice and well watered.