The straw that broke the camel’s back

And the kindness that unbroke it.
Thunder Bay Freighter, Carol L. Douglas

I’ve driven more than a million miles in the last three decades. I’m a good, safe driver. That doesn’t mean I’m immune from problems created by others; nobody is.

On Sunday I was rear-ended in Massachusetts. (No, it was not my trusty Prius art-cart, but our family car.) The damage was minor. One can be graceful about such setbacks when one has good insurance.
On Monday I tried to write my blog and couldn’t remember the names of common paintbrushes. What typically takes me 90 minutes took, instead, four hours. Was I simply overtired? Probably, but I began to develop a throbbing headache. In the afternoon, I saw my PCP, just to be on the safe side. Either my brain was sloshed around a mite too hard, or I was in shock. In either case, the solution was rest.
Marshes along the Ottawa River, Carol L. Douglas
I didn’t have time for this; I never do. I teach plein air on Tuesdays; I was looking forward to speaking to the Bangor Art Society yesterday evening. I have four commissions to finish, a workshop ad to rewrite, paintings to collect, paintings to display. My sign needs its seasonal lights put up. The car, of course, must be fixed.
Add a problem with this blog that resolutely resists fixing. Thousands of Blogger users report that their readership has slumped, myself included. Either our usual sources of traffic have changed their algorithms or Google has changed its counters.
The answer is for people to subscribe, not grab the blog from Facebook. However, most people now read blogs on their phones. Blogger doesn’t support subscriptions on its phone version. To subscribe, readers must go to the desktop version and click the subscription box on the right. That’s a tricky thing to ask people to do.
Great Lake Storm, Carol L. Douglas
Suddenly, it all seemed like too much. I put my head under my blanket and went to sleep. And slept until my husband came home from the Post Office.
“You have a package from Rosseau, Ontario,” he said.
Rosseau is a small village about two hours north of Toronto, where southern Ontario leaks into the wilderness of northern Canada. This is Group of Seven territory, not terribly far from Algonquin Provincial Park.
Inside was a copy of Jane Urquhart’s The Underpainter, and a note.
Dear Carol,

This may seem odd, receiving a book in the mail from a stranger in another country, but I wanted to send you this particular book because I just finished reading it, and I think it may resonate with you for many reasons, not only because the main character is an artist, but also because of the settings such as Rochester and Thunder Bay—places that I know you are familiar with. This is my very small way of saying thank you for sharing wisdom and observations so generously and eloquently. I have learned and grown so much as an artist thanks to you.

Paula Banks
Rosseau, Ontario

Eastern Manitoba Forest, Carol L. Douglas

I’ve lived near the Canadian border all my life. The notion that Canadians are nice is a stereotype, but it’s also true. It’s particularly admirable when your next-door neighbor is a brash empire like we are.

Thank you, Paula Banks from Rosseau, Ontario, for setting me back on my feet. I hope we meet someday.