Stormy Seas

10.04.2015, Comments Off on Stormy Seas, Living in the Hamptons, by .

Hurricane Joaquin has blown out to sea, but has been supplanted by a pounding Nor’easter. Heavy mist-filled wind and cool temperatures keep me indoors. Perfect weather for curling up with a good book. I recently read The Sea Captain’s Wife by Beth Powning. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered two of the non fiction books Powning listed as resources for her novel, Seafaring Women by David Cordingly and Hen Frigates by Joan Druett.

Set in the 1860s, The Sea Captain’s Wife is the story of a young Canadian woman who marries an older man, the Captain of a merchant ship. It is her wish, not his, to accompany him on his seafaring journeys. The life aboard ship is richly described and there are plenty of adventures, good and bad, along the way. The voyage of the protagonist’s heart and maturing of her relationship with her husband through these trials is woven throughout. 
Standing near the ocean at Cryder’s Beach, the dangerous beauty and whipping wind made me think of the intrepid souls who live life at the mercy of the unpredictable sea. 
Tempest Tossed by Michael A. Butler
Acrylic on Canvas 10″ x 8″
In Sag Harbor the high winds were whipping. Two ships had slipped their moorings and been driven by the wind over to the North Haven shore. At secret beach, the water had risen above the spot where we paint en plein air. A ship lay on its side at the shore.
During the trials of her voyage, the Sea Captain’s Wife second guesses her choice to go to sea instead of staying safe in a fine Bay of Fundy home. She grows to realize that her home is where her family is. At sea or on land. Home is where the heart is.
A Whale-Built House by Michael A. Butler
Acrylic on Canvas 10″ x 8″
Michael A. Butler’s paintings are currently on exhibit at the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum along with the work of Barbara Hadden. They are both generously donating half of art sale proceeds to the museum.

The Three Bears

09.26.2015, Comments Off on The Three Bears, Living in the Hamptons, by .

One of the most exciting things about my recent visit to Joy Lewis’s historic Sag Harbor home was seeing a trio of paintings by local artist Orlando Hand Bears. Bears (pronounced and sometimes spelled BEERS) was a resident of Sag Harbor who died on February 12, 1851 at the age of 39. His talent and creativity made the portraiture of the day something more. 
The Hendrick Family of Sag Harbor
by Orlando Hand Bears
Mr. Hendrick appears to be holding an accordion.
8-key bisonoric diatonic accordion (c. 1830s) via
A book with illustrations, I wonder which one….
Mother and son both adorned with rose colored China silk.
How do you get a child to sit still for a portrait?
Give them a soft kitten to hold.
The portraits by Orlando Hand Bears are believed to be of a merchant family. Merchant ships carried silks and porcelain from Asia and perhaps musical instruments among other things from Europe.The international port of Sag Harbor was populated by more than whaling ships. It has been difficult finding information about the Hendrick family. Could their name have been misspelled along the way? Kendrick perhaps? The quest continues.
Call for information: I am compiling a book of all of the known Orlando Hand Bears paintings. I am currently skulking in Oakland Cemetery and researching his background. Any feedback at all would be appreciated. If you own a Bears painting please contact me and be assured that I will share all historical knowledge that I uncover and treat you to a copy of the book that I create, even if it is just one that I have self published. Please include your email/contact information with your response. Thanks in advance!

Endless Summer Cocktails!

09.16.2015, Comments Off on Endless Summer Cocktails!, Luxury Cocktails, by .

Summer is Endless with the perfect cocktails. 

Some say summer is over, we say it is just beginning and there is no need to end summer escapades anytime soon. Nothing says summer like pink lemonade.  Rose Pink Lemonade and Gin that is!

If you are looking for perfect refresher from the beach or end of summer party, check out this latest find.  While exploring the Coastal Empire, we were chasing the the falling temps of the Hamptons, We are bouncing around the South to test out some new recipes and ideas for fall and holiday.

While visiting the south, we biked up to the Beach to Piggly Wiggly for a Hump Day brunch.  If you have not shopped “The Pig” you are missing the original gourmet market, produce stand, farmers market, blah blah blah or easily said the original cool grocery market.

While shopping for fresh local shrimp, South Carolina Peaches and farmers heirloom tomatoes, I stumbled upon the mini-craft cocktail section and found a nice selection of small batch soda’s, ginger beer, and unique find, a Rose Lemonade.  The label on the bottle of lemonade was very chic small batch as the label we lopsided of course.  Not sure if this is on purpose or planned to make beverages look more authentic.

I had to make a much needed afternoon drink so grabbed a bottle, stopped by the neighborhood liquor store snapping up a bottle of gin, and headed back to the beach house to plan lunchtime libations.

Now back to that rose lemonade.  One can make any craft a cocktail with a small bottle of new tasting find.  But this bottles of Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade is from England. Perfect with gin of course and the Prince of Scots lifestyle don’t you think?

Follow along for great afternoon refresher!

Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade


Makes 1 drink

1 – 1 ½ oz. gin
3 – 4 oz. Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade
1 oz. fresh lime juice
Lime slices for garnish
Add gin and lime juice to a cocktail shaker with ice. Add more of less gin and lime to suit your taste. Shake and strain into a glass. Top off with rose lemonade and garnish with a slice of lime. If it’s not sweet enough you could add an ounce or so of simple syrup. I think the lemonade alone adds enough sweetness but I’m also not crazy about overly sweet cocktails soooo…there’s that.


Rose Lemonade at the Beach!

A Heart for History

09.16.2015, Comments Off on A Heart for History, Living in the Hamptons, by .


Joy Lewis and her husband loved old things before folk art was thought precious. Haunting estate sales and antique shops, they found beautiful heirlooms imbued with the spirits of their former owners. They saved beloved objects from destruction and incorporated them into their historic home which they also lovingly restored. I was honored to visit Joy in her beautiful home. Entering through the front screen door, light shone from within. A breeze flowing through the open rooms felt like a sigh of contentment.

A beautiful kitchen, the table top a perfect still life.
Portrait of a boy (after death)
We lingered over glimpses of history.
An 1849 map rescued from a dumpster.
Portrait of Squire Samuel L’Hommedieu (1744-1834)
by Hubbard Latham Fordam
Besides being a prolific portrait artist, Fordham was the keeper of the Cedar Island Lighthouse. While keeping watch over Sag Harbor Bay, Fordham painted the view out the lighthouse window. Fordham’s portrait of shellfish is currently on display at the Parrish Art Museum, a loan from Joy Lewis. The painting is from her collection.
 Portrait of Shellfish: 
A View from Cedar Island Lighthouse Looking Towards Sag Harbor 1866 by Hubbard Latham Fordham (1794 – 1872)
A closer look reveals familiar landmarks.
I felt that Joy was a kindred spirit. I had longed to speak with her since reading a lovely passage that she composed for the book, Keeping Time in Sag Harbor by Stephen Longmire. I am so fortunate that we were able to actually meet. Her love of discovery, to uncover the histories of lives lived, all add depth and deeper meaning to our days. We continue the stories that Squire L’Hommedieu and others have begun. So fascinating! We were engrossed in storytelling for hours.
Portraits of the Hendrick family 
by Orlando Hand Bears c1830s
The Greek Revival home was originally built around 1835 for whaling agent and ship owner Charles T. Dering. Charles was the nephew of Henry Packer Dering, customs officer of the port of Sag Harbor. An amazing home with history at every turn. I am so grateful that I was able to visit. Thank you Joy!
We can look forward to a book coming out this spring which includes Joy’s home and collection.
Past Perfect:
Living with Heirlooms and Antiques
written by Susan Sully
The Monacelli Press
The book can be pre-ordered HERE
Joy will be creating new memories in another home soon. The house is in contract now.The video below a souvenir.

Long Beach Clouds

09.13.2015, Comments Off on Long Beach Clouds, Living in the Hamptons, by .

Amazing clouds before the rain.

Hugh’s Book

09.07.2015, Comments Off on Hugh’s Book, Living in the Hamptons, by .

As a birthday surprise, I made a preliminary raison d’être for Hugh.  He is often showing photos of paintings to friends on his cell phone. I thought that he should have something more substantial. Monique at the beautiful blog La Table de Nana mentioned using Artisan State to make a book for her grandson. Artisan State (neither one of us has been paid to reccommend them) looked like it would be easy to use. I went to the studio when Hugh was out, took photos of his paintings with my iPhone, dropped them into the Artisan State template (I used Little Black Book 5″ x 7″) and ordered. The finished product arrived soon thereafter and I love how it turned out.

See below for the embed version of the book (you will need adobe flash) or via link. Many of the paintings that I photographed are not considered DONE by him yet, I think they are all beautiful examples of the wonderful work he has been doing. I am so proud of him. 

Beach Plum Harvest

09.06.2015, Comments Off on Beach Plum Harvest, Living in the Hamptons, by .

I returned to Long Beach to harvest beach plums.
I had marked their place in spring.
Spring beach plum blooms.
There was plenty of low hanging fruit.
I picked a gallon zip lock bag full,
Shakespeare Bowl by Roxann Sorenson
Harp on it still shall I till heartstrings break – Richard III
I decided to try and make jam for the first time ever. What equipment did I need? Where do I find it in the Hamptons? Herrick Hardware in Southampton had the jam jars and food mill that I needed. I googled up a recipe and went to work. Messy job, but I did it! Right now eight hot jars of beach plum byproduct are cooling on my counter top. The substance inside still looks runny and hardly like a jam. I hope by tomorrow it looks more promising. 

Ephraim Niles Byram – Astronomer of Sag Harbor

09.04.2015, Comments Off on Ephraim Niles Byram – Astronomer of Sag Harbor, Living in the Hamptons, by .

I’ve been intrigued by Ephraim Niles Byram since discovering a character based on him in a ghost story.  The Astronomer’s House by Val Schaffner reimagines the life of a mysterious astronomer in a tower house near a cemetery. I am grateful for this story, without it I would never have ventured to uncover the true story of the astronomer. 
This is what I know so far….
Ephraim Niles Byram by Orlando Hand Bears
photo by Tim Gihring via MIA
Ephraim Niles Byram (1809-1881) grew up in Sag Harbor during the height of the whaling industry. Mostly self educated, he was a voracious reader and accumulated one of the town’s largest libraries. He wrote and bound his own books as well as consistently maintaining a bookbinding business throughout his entire life. Through interaction with the captains and crews of the whaling ships in Sag Harbor’s international port, he became interested in problems of navigation and began repairing navigational instruments which included making his own tools. He became an expert in compasses, telescopes and other ship’s gear. At 26, he won a gold medal from the American Institute for building a Universal Planetarium (an orrery) which he took on tour, giving lectures on astronomy and the solar system using a magic lantern, an early type of projector.
The Award
Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Society Collection
From the Journal of the American Institute, October 1836

“Mr. B. is a self-taught young man, of twenty-six years of age. The movement of this instrument is effected by clock-work, by means of which, the various planets, with their sattelites, are made to revolve in their appropriate spheres around the sun, at the same time performing their diurnal revolutions. An illuminated glass globe, about twelve inches in diameter, represents the sun, by which the various changes of the seasons, eclipses, are accurately shown. Its superiority over other orreries of former construction is, that its movements are effected without the confusion of machinery, the planets being suspended by small wires, and the machinery placed above the line of vision. The mind of the observer is occupied by nothing but the silently moving bodies performing their revolutions, apparently suspended in open space, with great synodic precision.  The workmanship is neatly executed, and the whole would confer honour upon those whose advantages have been far superior to those of the inventory and constructor of this beautiful instrument.” Pages 143-144, Journal of the American Institute, October 1836 via 

18th Century Orrery
Royal Observatory at Greenwich London image via
An orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system that illustrates the relative motions of the planets.  I went searching for a photo of an orrery of the time that would fit the description of, “planets being suspended by small wires, and the machinery placed above the line of vision” and found one (depicted below) built into the room of a house in the Netherlands.
Netherlands, built from 1774 – 1781 via
Or perhaps it looked something like this:
Orrery by Thomas H. Barlow
1854, 18 feet wide
photograph Nathan Latil via
Sadly Byram’s orrery is missing, considered lost. It brought him great acclaim as an astronomer and “tech guy” of his day and was the beginning of his renown as a genius and inventor. 
The Portraits
Ephraim Niles Byram by Orlando Hand Bears 1834
Private Collection
Smithsonian Institution image via
Byram, the son of a master builder and cabinetmaker, constructed a celestial globe with which he poses in one of the portraits by Orlando H. Bears. Bears, a painting prodigy, Byram, a mechanical genius. Both of them were in demand to create goods for a community flush with the economic success of the whale fishery. I can imagine Bears and Byram discussing the artwork on the celestial globe. In Bear’s painting of Byram you get a hint of the globe’s original cerulean hue. I wonder if it looked something like what Holbein painted in The Ambassadors.
detail from Holbein’s The Ambassadors via
Celestial Globe made by Ephraim Niles Byram
Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum
Ephraim Niles Byram 1834 
by Orlando Hand Bears 
Private Collection 81″ x 41″image via
It amazes me that Byram has two portraits by Orlando Bears painted in the same year. Both men were in their mid 20s at the time. I would love to know more about their relationship. I am still in early days of researching Orlando Hand Bears. It is believed that he was a student of Hubbard Latham Fordham. Orlando Bears died young, at age 39 and is buried in the family plot in Oakland Cemetery near Byram along the property edge nearest Byram’s home.
Ephraim Niles Byram by Hubbard Latham Fordham (1794 – 1872)
Sag Harbor Whaling Museum Collection
Hubbard Latham Fordham, was a successful Sag Harbor portrait artist who also had studios in Manhattan, Springfield, Massachusetts and New Haven, Connecticut. Fordham was a prolific portraitist. The Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum has a number of his works in their collection. More research is required to determine what year Fordham’s portrait of Byram was painted.
Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum Collection
The Tower Clocks
To us, a tower clock seems like an expensive adornment. During Byram’s time owning your own time piece was still a luxury. If you were well enough off to own a clock it was more likely to be a case clock for your home rather than one that you carried on your person. The common man still looked to town clocks for the correct time of day. 
Sag Harbor, Long Island (view from the north)
close up/partial view of a lithograph by Daniel Wright Kellogg
from a lost painting by Orlando H. Bears c.1840
Connecticut Historical Society Museum, Hartford
The Methodist Church on Madison Street
Courtesy John Jermain Memorial Library
“In 1838, the board of Sag Harbor’s Methodist Church asked Byram to construct a clock for their steeple. it represented a giant step from his experience with chronometers, but within the range of a man who could make anything mechanical that he set his mind to. In accepting the challenge and delivering on it, he became Long Island’s first and only known tower clock maker.”Frederick Shelly NAWCC Bulletin 1996. The Methodist Church was moved to a new location on Madison Street in 1863. Both its steeple and Byram’s clock were lost in the 1938 hurricane. The former church is currently a private property.
The former Methodist Church today.
Presbyterian Church (Old Whaler’s)
Byram’s second tower clock was for the Presbyterian Church in Sag Harbor in 1845. They found that its tall spyglass-like design swayed in the wind, throwing the clock’s pendulum out of beat. Unable to stabilize the clock in order for it to keep accurate time, Byram had it moved, which saved it, since the Whaler’s church steeple was also lost in the 1938 hurricane. The clock was moved to the East Hampton Presbyterian Church where it kept good time until it was gutted and electrified in 1969. New York City Hall and West Point Academy are two other well known Byram accomplishments. Unfortunately, Frederick Shelly’s list of Tower Clocks has very few of Byram’s clocks avoiding fire and wind to survive to the modern age. 
The Whaler’s Church as it appears today.
One clock that survived and that we can visit when the library renovation is complete, is a tall case clock that he made for his own home in 1869 which was donated to the John Jermain Memorial Library in 1943 by Ephraim Byram’s daughter Loretta Sophia. 
A Byram Case clock face 
private collection
1854 Map published by Wall and Forrest
In 1850 Byram formed a partnership with John Sherry and built a brass foundry and clock factory on Byram property. A tower was constructed at the Oakland works to be used for Byram’s astrological observations. The 1854 map above shows the location of the Oakland works, cemetery and Byram property.
The Oakland Works from an 1854 map
Courtesy John Jermain Memorial Library
The Entrepreneur
This advertisement for book binding was in The Corrector numerous times. Byram became famous for his large and extensive library. Many of the books bound by him.
The leaf of the mulberry (mores muldicaulis) was required for raising silk worms. From 1835 – 1838 there was wild speculation that you could make a fortune on silk by buying the trees and raising silk worms. By fall of 1839 the market had crashed. The above ad shows that Byram was involved at the end, with his father Eliab possibly to help out his brother Henry, an agricultural scientist. (More about the Morus bubble here)
The golden era of the whale fishery was from 1820 – 1850. During that time Byram was invaluable as a supplier and repairer of nautical instruments. His relationship with the sea-faring community was profitable as well as serving as a source of information on the natural world. Byram was said to have a huge collection of sea shells, mounted, catalogued and labelled. A true renaissance man.
A page out of a journal by historian Russella “Bab” Hazard (1897-1973) listing some of the ships that  Byram had serviced. from the John Jermain Memorial Library
Home and Family
What about romance? Byram remained single until the ancient age of 45, when he met and married 18 year-old Cornelia Pierce, a student at Cooper Union. I would love to know how they were introduced. Byram installed his tower clock in City Hall about that time. She was a gifted musician and artist. The couple had three children, Henry Eliab, Ivan Clinton and Loretta Sophia. There is supposedly a collection of letters that he wrote his family while on the road installing tower clocks which I am seeking for further insight.
Ephraim Byram’s “Oakland Cottage” c 1852
Peter Davies collection

undated photograph of the Byram house with horse called “Fan”
 John Jermain Memorial Library Collection
Byram home today.
The Byram family rests next door to his former home in Oakland Cemetery.
Byram family plot at Oakland Cemetery
Rest in peace dear creative soul.
Links and Sources
Ephraim Niles Byram Long Island’s Only Tower Clockmaker by Frederick Shelley, National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors here
Art Market + Design More Than A New Name Sag Harbor Press here
Sag Harbor The Story of an American Beauty by Dorothy Ingersoll Zaykowski
Keeping Time in Sag Harbor by Stephen Longmire
Byram of Sag Harbor by Doris Halsey 4/18/1972
Hampton’s Bohemia by Helen Harrison here
Design: An Italinate Villa East Hampton Star here
I am beginning my research on Orlando H. Bears. Fact checking is a challenge! The Corrector of February 12, 1851 lists the death of Orlando H. Bears on February 10th 1851 at the age of 41. His gravestone in Oakland Cemetery lists his age as 39. A history mystery. The investigation continues.

Plein Air Shelter Island

09.02.2015, Comments Off on Plein Air Shelter Island, Living in the Hamptons, by .

We packed up the paints and took the ferry over to Shelter Island.
Ferries cross back and forth from North Haven to Shelter Island.
We went to paint near the old ferry landing.
A small ferry is docked there.
Small fish schooling near the pier.
A seaplane, possibly Jimmy Buffet, comes in for a landing.
by Gail Gallagher
by Hugh Gallagher
I forgot how much I love Shelter Island. So pretty.

Artist Appreciation

08.31.2015, Comments Off on Artist Appreciation, Living in the Hamptons, by .

I was lately made aware and asked to celebrate August’s Artist Appreciation Month by Patience Brewster. Massachusetts artist Patience Brewster creates and produces lovely illustrations, ornaments, figures, and stationary through her family owned company. Besides their talent and creativity, you can tell that they are nice people. They got me thinking about my own artistic inspirations.

Vineyard Harvest Fairy by Patience Brewster
The list of artists that inspire me is a long one, but inspiration began at home. I was lucky to be nurtured by creative women. While many artists inspire me on a day to day basis, it was my Mom and Grandma along with other women in my family that started me on this pathway and continue to encourage me to this day.
Four generations:
Front row: great Grandmas Anna and Rhoda (holding me)
Back row: Grandma Ruth and Mom
My parents left us kids with Grandpa and Grandma for a couple of weeks each summer. My grandparents had a dairy farm. We had a blast looking for new kitties, feeding the cows morning buckets of oats, exploring the pasture. My Grandpa let us convert one of the old sheds into a club house which we painted with sage green milk paint. Under the iron framed bed in my Mom’s old room were my Grandma’s art projects. She made mosaics on plywood with seeds. There was also one that she had made utilizing old costume jewelry. I don’t know what ever happened to these folk art creations, but a recent show at the Sag Harbor Whaling and Historical Museum had a work by Alfonso Ossorio that brought me back to the moment I discovered Grandma’s art under the bed. Grandma! You were ahead of your time.
Blue Dancer (close up) by Alfonso Ossorio
mixed media on panel, 1962
Marla, Gail, Jill and Carol
Mom sewed most of my clothes until I was skilled enough to make my own. In the photo above I am wearing one of my favorite “twirly” dresses. I was probably around 5 years old and dresses that ballooned out while twirling in circles were my favorites. Mom indulged my need for twirly-ness. These little girls had the best times ever.
Mom now expresses herself artistically through her quilting. Above are a few examples of smaller works, her quilted table toppers. I love them! Mom, look how pretty they look. We have other quilt artists in the family. My aunt Sandy and cousin Barbara are both master quilters. We are all inspired by my cousin Roxann. She is retired from the business of art, but still lives an artful life.
My Mom always says that I get my artistic talent from my Dad. He sketched and drew birds and was also an avid nature photographer. Mom, I got it from you too! I am so lucky to have had so many wonderful creative people in my life. I am also fortunate to have a family that encourages artistic expression. Most of all I am grateful to have a husband that shares my love of art.