The fineness of an autumn day

Japanese anemone
Japanese anemones in the front yard.

It all began on an autumn afternoon—and who, after all these centuries, can describe the fineness of an autumn day? One might pretend never to have seen one before, or, to more purpose, that there would never be another like it. The clear and searching sweep of sun on the lawns was like a climax of the year’s lights. Leaves were burning somewhere and the smoke smelled, for all its ammoniac acidity, of beginnings. The boundless blue air was stretched over the zenith like the skin of a drum.

— John Cheever, “The Brigadier and the Golf Widow”

It is worth noting that I have finally read John Cheever and have since concluded that he is perfection.

After what felt like a month of rain, we are so grateful to have the sun return to us. The dogs are decidedly less filthy now, and for that, we offer up daily expressions of thanksgiving.

One of my all-time favorite nonprofits in town, New City Arts, is trying to raise $37,000 in 37 days to support its studio and gallery space, which in turn will support local artists and our arts-loving community. If you have a few bucks to spare, would you consider helping us out? For a $40 donation, Guion will write you a personalized poem, which is bound to be a special, strange, and wonderful thing.

Pyrrha needs to lose five pounds, according to the vet, and I agree and simultaneously feel like a terrible mother. The vets are gentle but firm when breaking this news to pet owners, especially American ones, because we seem to prefer that all of our pets are grossly obese. I had always prided myself on keeping the dogs trim, but I slipped up this time, and I am wracked with guilt and shame. I suppose it isn’t surprising, given that I have not altered Pyrrha’s food intake much as she has aged, despite the fact that she is (a) an inveterate beggar and (b) incurably lazy and (c) almost five years old and thus acquiring that adult metabolism. She’s going on a diet and she’s very, very unhappy about it. She also has a yucky ear infection right now that we are treating, and so, all in all, it hasn’t been a great start to the month for P.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, but it must be something horrible because I haven’t been much in the mood for reading lately. I read 20 pages of Purity, Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, and have since felt unmotivated to pick it back up for weeks now, and I am moving very slowly through Ferrante’s final novel in the series, The Story of the Lost Child, but that could also be the interior desire for the series to never end. I am not sure. I am restless and suspicious.

Calligraphy prints for sale

Forgive the shameless self-promotion, but I have to note here briefly that I have some calligraphy prints for sale, just in time for the holidays.

Prints start at $25.

Shaker Dictum | Bluestocking Calligraphy print

Prints can also be framed for you in advance, which I find to be a huge benefit in gift giving. I’m always hard-pressed to find suitable frames when giving art, and Society6 make this very simple.

Joanna Newsom print | Bluestocking Calligraphy

PLUS, as a big bonus, between now and 25 December 2014, a portion of proceeds will benefit New City Arts Initiative, a nonprofit that aims to support Charlottesville artists and create engagement between artists and our community. It’s an organization that’s near and dear to my heart, so I’m thrilled to be able to offer this collaboration.

Emily Dickinson | Bluestocking Calligraphy print

I have been wanting to sell prints for a while, and I have a very encouraging and accommodating husband, who has been urging me to explore this new venture. Regardless of the outcome, it’s been a fun foray into another arena for my work.

Prints can be found in my shop or on my Society6 page.

Always have an artist at your table

Blue with the azaleas.
The Walker's hens.

This weekend, we visited the Walker’s mini-menagerie to walk their dogs, Ginger and Blue. (It was so green and peaceful and provincial–even though we were still in the city.)

And then, Saturday night, I was privileged enough to attend the banquet for the New City Arts Forum. As you can see–even from my blurry photos–it was a magical night.

Meade Hall, beautifully transformed for the dinner.
At the table.

Mallory was the creative genius behind the event’s design. Everything looked just perfect; I was so amazed at the scope of her imagination. I never could have done it. A Pimento very generously donated and made the feast and desserts were contributed by our very own Maddy, of Sweet Madeline, among others. And of course, the whole event and conference was the brain child of the perpetually humble, gracious, and accomplished Maureen Lovett, who is perfect in every way.

Designer Mallory and baker Maddy, with Michael lurking.

Even more blurry photos of the beautiful weekend on my Flickr.

Gay Beery, one of the women behind A Pimento Catering, closed her brief speech about the (incredible) menu with this exhortation: “Always have an artist at your table.” What lovely advice. I think we will always be so blessed.

Living alone with Jesus

Jesus, if you are in all thirty-seven churches,
are you not also here with me
making it alone in my back rooms like a flagpole sitter
slipping my peanut shells and prune pits into the Kelvinator?
Are you not here at nightfall
ticking in the box of the electric blanket?
Lamb, lamb, let me give you honey on your grapefruit
and toast for the birds to eat
out of your damaged hands.

From “Living Alone with Jesus,” by Maxine Kumin.

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SIDE NOTE: NEW CITY ARTS FORUM

You know that I care about art. I am lucky to live in a town that also really, really cares about art. Little Charlottesville has more arts organizations than you can count and one of the very best is New City Arts Initiative, headed by Maureen Lovett. Maureen and her team are organizing a wonderful event April 20-22, 2012: New City Arts Forum. This conference pools together artists, presenters, musicians, and even brewers (like my husband) to discuss the big questions: What is good art? Why does art matter? How do artists get money to live? If you’re in town–or even if you’re not!–come check it out.

And happy Friday.