The Art of Scavenging

robin nest

Nearly a full summer has gone by, and my creative outlet of choice has become fixing up my nest. I am not trying to resume “American-normal” summer activities as if they are my god-given right—look at where that’s gotten us. (Though I do yearn to walk along the surf’s edge of the Atlantic.) And I have dramatically dialed back my consumerism. (But I’ve been doing that for decades.)

Normally I brake for yard sales, free curbside trash/treasures, and dumpster-diving. I’ve never outgrown the thrill of the discovery, and many of my assemblages rely on lost trinkets found on the pavement.

I decided to visit my favorite haunt of the last nearly twenty years—The Bottle Shop, about 45 minutes up the Taconic Parkway. (I love that this exit with a junk shop is the entrance to tony Millbrook, captured by Rufus Wainwright.) I did have a mission: an outdoor table top had rotted away. The bottom is an old industrial base, and when functional I use for my occasional social-distanced gatherings. (I can fit four comfortably, seated along my brick pathway that makes a circle around a giant elderberry bush which hovers over a bird bath and my cat Rufus’ bones. Not named for Rufus Wainwright. Just a coincidence.)

As always, I do a sort of walking meditation, absorbing the history, the accumulation, the beauty of decay and juxtaposition that always rewards me. So join me on my walkabout. (Watch out for puddles!)

goonie mask

bottle shop backyard

backyard panorama

boards descending a yard


still life w: madonna porcelain

still life w:pearls

bottle shelves

After an hour of circling and poking, I noticed the perfect table top. Made of cement, with a little ding for accent, it now rests solidly in my yard. And who can resist a vintage bottle or two from The Bottle Shop? Certainly not me!

cement prize


Oh, and here’s Rufus (hugging Tizzy). Both sort of scavenged: Rufus was found in my Brooklyn basement pipes and Tizzy was under a car in Beacon. Both treasures!

Rufy & Tizzy

photos Sharon Watts

(oh) My Corona!


I hardly know where to start. Creativity in the time of Coronavirus—when all this human brain wants to do is create order in a world chockfull of chaos? Now, under New York state lock-down, I have the perfect opportunity. All my piles, all my files, all my styles—and all my guiles (procrastination being the prime suspect)—are staring me in the face. No mask can protect me from what’s right in front of me. I am going to toss into the mix, in no particular order, some of what I have been dabbling in. Au courant, and going back my entire life.

The original art (above) is from several years ago. It was just sitting here in a “to file” pile. Pretty apt, right? What I couldn’t find was the photoshopped original scan. So here are cut marks, scars, the whole tactile mess. I keep clearing my computer desktop, hoping the “prettier” one will turn up. Meanwhile, I kind of like this, just the way it is. Validation from a mental health professional:  Brain Fog is NORMAL!

I began several series of collages years ago, only to hit an impasse. This one was half-finished until last week, when I added a pocket, a picket fence, and a protective pad (from a raspberry container). “Ring Around the Rosie” entered my head at the time I started it, a nursery rhyme supposedly written in the time of the bubonic plague. (And yes, this is me.)

we all fall down

Sometimes a poem wants to come out.

NAVIGATING A DREAM (based on a dream from 2017)

I look at a map.

The paper kind, with folds and

bends you can never find again.

I am determined that I can get to

where I’m going.

Relief trickles in.

I could walk, from here to

there though it may take weeks,

even months. They say it’s the journey

not the destination.

There’s no panic in me.

No need to refold the map as

precisely as I found it.

I won’t be using it



Mi-ro 4-20

I am having a hard time committing to a sketchbook. I only have cats around me. Still life and room interiors don’t interest me. They have been done far better by Vuillard.


And yes, I am also going through paper ephemera that includes things that have hung on my bulletin boards decades ago. Like that. Like this:

Eyes w:o a Face

And yes, I jumped on the sewing wagon early, once it became clear that the Defense Production Act was not going to be called into desperately needed service, contracting professionals to manufacture masks during this pandemic. Oh, no—let the burden and privilege fall on average people who want to do something, however inadequately. I started with this:

kitty mask


and it evolved into this:

Reid mask

So, to end this post, I will return to something I received in the mail back in October. A huge carton of anti-viral Kleenex (that I never ordered, never would have ordered, and never knew who sent it), arrived on my doorstep. I was never billed.

Kleenex box

I often wonder about prophesy and fate, and serendipity and signs. I am getting used to the “not knowing” in this life. And hindsight always provides tantalizing clues.