I am writing this before leaving Mathews in the face of Hurricane Isabel. I have taken the rugs off the floor, packed away small valuables and I have pulled the skiff out of the creek with Malcolm's truck and tied it to a tree.
We have only two roads out of the county and no high ground worth calling a hill. The advice is to get out early before the high winds blow trees across the roads.
It has been very wet, more than two inches in twenty-four hours. I fear I may lose the wonderful old walnut tree in front of the house because there is a huge pool of water around its base and its roots may not hold in the winds.
I am leaving for Waynesboro. There is no point in my staying here when, at the very least, we will be without electricity. Being here on my own and unable to paint without light, would be no fun. The last thing I will do is pack the contents of my freezer into a freezer chest.
I do not like leaving the house to face a battering with no one to fend for it and I wonder what I will find when I come back to it. Maybe Isabel will relent and turn about. The older locals here refer to events in their youth as being before or after the "August Storm". They are referring to August 1933, the last time a hurricane hit directly on Mathews. That storm carried away complete houses and flooded half the county. The locals say we are due for another big one and the weathermen are saying the same thing.
As you can see from the photos we are getting geared up for the Museum Fall Foliage Festival weekend, October 10-12, when I will be in Waynesboro to welcome visitors to The Barn, which is my Waynesboro home and Studio. The preparation for these weekends is like preparing a family reunion in which our home is the chosen location this year, except in the case of the Museum it happens four times a year.
Corrado, the Museum Director has overall responsibility for the Museum and its grounds but we all pitch in. This past weekend Corrado and I bought Mums from Millmont Greenhouse in Stuarts Draft, Virginia, a Mennonite garden shop that began its life as a small time hobby for its lady owner. As you can see from the photo, it is now big time. Jo Cowherd, who manages the Museum Shop, is the one helping Corrado and me with the planting in the photo that shows us at work. Jo takes a great interest in the Museum gardens and is often to be found watering the flowers at the end of her day. Sometimes people come up to her thinking that she is me. I would trade with her any day for her slim figure.
The girl in the "In the Wagon" photo is Chiara, Corrado's daughter and my granddaughter. Chiara is the horse rider who wants to be a star in the Dixie Stampede.
Speaking of granddaughters I have something to brag about. Sarah, my beautiful redhead, played a big part in her school soccer team's victory in the final of the Bristol Open Soccer Tournament. Sarah is an all around athlete with a highly competitive edge.
I watched her in the swimming pool this past summer challenge a boy older than her to race over a pool's length. She kept losing the race but each time she demanded they race again. Eventually she won. That deep desire to win is what makes the difference and I am hoping one day I will see Sarah on a winning Virginia Tech Women's soccer team. OK! OK! I know that is enough bragging! I promise no more, for this week at least.
From the above you might get the impression I have not been painting. Far from it. Until I left to help with the Museum gardens, I had a great time working. I am particularly happy with the way my painting of Tybee Island Lighthouse turned out. The Lighthouse is on Tybee Island, Georgia.
The special print for the Museum weekend is Autumn at the Moss Barn which shows the front of the Barn dressed for the Fall. We will also have Sisterhood, the print that will be first shown at the Dayton Convention the previous weekend with part of the proceeds going to benefit PALS for Life, the breast cancer support group I spoke about in last week's letter.
Only ten more days and Malcolm will be back from Panama. He is close to completing the first rewrite of his book and says the finishing line of this marathon is in sight and he expects to cross it before he heads home on September 27th. He says he could never have got this far had he not shut himself away in the seclusion of the farm where he is the only white person living in the lagoon. I understand this perfectly because I also need complete peace and quiet to paint.
He visited the lagoon's bush school during the week, taking baseballs and a bat donated by Al Sandstrom of Buffalo, New York, a Moss collector well known to those of you who attend our conventions. Al is a generous person who frequently gives to support our causes.
Malcolm met with a group of parents who came to the school to discuss how to solve the school's water supply problem. He is lobbying the education department on their behalf but so far is being told there are no funds available. Meanwhile the parents used their machetes to keep the school grounds from being reclaimed by the jungle.
That is all for now. Who knows where I will be writing to you from next week if Isabel tears into Mathews.
P.S I forgot to mention that we will have porcelain basket for sale at the Dayton Convention. You may remember those who took rooms in the Richmond convention hotel received a gift of a porcelain basket.
The reaction to the basket was so favorable that we agreed to produce similar pieces for sale. However, the one that you see here will only be available for those attending the convention. There you are, another reason to join us on the weekend October 3rd,4th and 5th.