Category Archives: crafting

The Monday Book: OLD IN ART SCHOOL by Nell Irvin Painter

Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over by Nell Irvin Painter is reviewed by Janelle Bailey this week. It’s not her fault it falls on a Tuesday.

Having now read this book through once in its entirety but read to read it and not stopped to do all of the research I considered doing or could have while reading–looking up the name and art of every artist mentioned with whom I was not familiar but not wishing to stop reading every time that urge hit–I am strongly considering reading it all a second time very soon, checking into all of those details, now that I know Painter’s “story” or its general “flow” and premise in essence and have the sense of all of that. 

For now and in hindsight I wish to learn, through research and deeper analysis, more about the numerous references she makes…but I might first read at least one of her historical works as well. Maybe her biography of Sojourner Truth. Maybe <i>The History of White People.</i> Maybe something else.

I am curious to see how Painter addresses race–specifically her own–in her historical works, given her aim to incorporate that and more of her own experiences in her art. I am not certain how to feel about all she says and does not say here, for at times she definitely seems to be saying–please pardon me if I have it wrong–that it is socioeconomics more than race that fuel or do not one’s success or failure–but then in other breaths conveys experiences of having been mistreated or questioned solely for the color of her skin. It’s a little confusing to me at times, but it sounds like she has lived a life of privilege in many ways.

Ultimately I am awed by Painter’s actual process: she retired from Princeton after a very successful career in education and publishing written works, and then at 64? 67? (I have seen both, and she really does not like to be asked about her age) pursued first a BFA and then also a MFA, and aimed at beginning a new career.

She talks much about and processes that being and/or becoming “An Artist” is different from being and/or becoming “an artist,” and she certainly addresses how the younger folks who are expected to be in college and/or graduate school, by their ages, when she is in college and/or graduate school with them face a number of aspects of their lives much differently from how she does. And while she aims, it sounds like, to point out these differences just as “differences” and not one perspective or approach having greater value and/or merit than the other…she does, indeed, sound critical, especially since she feels labeled and judged and separated for being the age she actually is at the point in time of the book’s action.

I ultimately enjoyed this book much…and enjoyed discussing it with not one but two book clubs this summer.

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Filed under book reviews, crafting, Life reflections

The Muckin o Geordie’s Byre – –

Jack thought it might be a good idea to get his Wednesday guest post up on a Wednesday – –

This week saw two important tasks finally achieved.

Back in November we were worried about whether our chickens might be frozen over the winter, but we discovered that leaving their poop lying in the coop would keep it fairly warm. So a win for everyone! But, of the course, the chickens always come home to roost, so I finally had to ‘muck out the byre/coop’ this week and put fresh straw over their floor. It’s probably a very good job I don’t have any sense of smell.

The other job was really odd. When we moved here we were a bit surprised to find that all the upstairs room had doors, but none of the ground floor rooms had. But we have five cats that we need to corral from time to time. So a few months ago I installed a folding door between our ‘ceilidh room’ and our sitting room/library. That was so that we would have some possibility of shutting the cats somewhere.

But it didn’t really help much to keep them out of the kitchen where they are inclined to get under our feet – or even on the counters! So, today I installed another folding door where the kitchen heads to the sitting room.

Fitting these doors is meant to be a breeze, but nothing ever is! The available space in an old house like ours is never the same size as the door, so a fair bit of ‘surgery’ was required. Despite the relatively light weight of the doors it’s still heavy going to position them. The other problem is when you have to add a length of wood to mount the top rail to and can’t find the right length of screws to fix it.

However everything worked out eventually.

The chickens are happy and so is Wendy – – -which means all is right with the world. Eggs for everyone.


Filed under animal rescue, between books, crafting, home improvements, humor, Life reflections, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA, Wendy Welch