Archive for January, 2008

No more photos until I am home. My computer is no longer charged, the electrical cord is not working. But in 4 days I will be home and I must admit I am beginning to look forward to taking a shower.

I had big excitement on Thursday. Russ, a flight instructor who I met at the Ptown Airport took he up in his 1969 Cessna airplane. It was one of the coolest things I have done here. We flew from Provincetown down to Chatam first on the inner harbor, then the outer harbor. I saw piles of seals and the best views imaginable of the Cape. I managed to get one photo uploaded before I lost all power to my computer, it is shown at the right. I am now writing at the library. Three of the biggest assets I found in Ptown is the gorgeous new library, which rings it magnificent bell at opening, the airport which has wireless, a nice lounging room, and of course hot water and finally WOMR Radio, an all volunteer free radio with the best mix of DJ’s anywhere. Five assets, the Thrift Shop, especially for books is outstanding.

I have made lists of my major usages that I am going to post at the end of the week before I leave. I found it surprising interesting, one item is my 6 weeks of water usage is equivalent to an 8 minute shower.

That is it for today, rain and snow are on their way and it is a long walk back to the shack.

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Today, my exhibition is being installed at Pfizer’s headquarters’ on 42nd street in Manhattan. The Essence of Nature’s Inspiration:  Selected Works on Paper by Hilary Lorenz consists of twenty-eight drawings and prints ranging in size from 11” x 14” to 50” x 80” and will be up for the next six months. The description and PR can be found on the tab at the top of the page. I am excited to see the exhibition when I return. Prior to leaving I dropped off the work at the framers and while I am gone the framer and curators coordinated delivery and hanging of the show. It is nice to have that going on while I am gone, framing and shipping is always the most stressful aspect of being an artist. Later into the exhibition Pfizer will host a lunch for me and 17 guests in the private dinning room, which is very nice, already begin a guest at one. But I am keeping in mind my business focus this year is to branch off and forge relationships with new galleries, ones. By the end of the year I will use my sales to expand my studio and printmaking equipment. It has been an outstanding opportunity to live in the C-scape beach shack for the past five weeks. It was certainly a much needed escape from New York and it has giving me time to investigate new types of drawing, mainly drawing from nature.

Also, this morning on the beach around 7am I saw what seemed like thousands of plovers. They must have stretch out over a 150-meter line; the shoreline was virtually covered with them. I wanted to run back and get my camera but at the same time I did not want to miss these funny little birds so I stayed and watched them run back and forth for some time. When I went out after breakfast most had left but still there were a number of them to take photos of. Well 10 days to go….I can’t to see what I find next.

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The Ptown Bike Trail

My 14-mile run turned into 17 miles. I get carried away with exploring different areas of Ptown and end up running or hiking much longer than planned. After my 1.5 mile sand walk warm-up from the shack to the road, I ran 4 miles of the bike trail to Herring Cove Beach, then down to the jetty and the west end of Commercial Street. I ran the length of Commercial Street toward Truro and out to Beach Point. On my return I ran the length of Bradford back out to the jetty, over to Herring Cove and followed the bike trail back to the airport. It was a good combination of bike trail, road, the bike trail with deep sand walk to start and finish the run. The sun was out and the wind and rain were gone. A nice change from the 13-mile rain hike yesterday. The most exciting part is I finally saw a whale, or at least a whale spouting. I was stretching at Race Point Beach and saw something white, tall, and billowing. I kept watching and by the second time I realized it was a whale. From the shore it resembled a freight trail with it’s steam pushing out every few minutes. By the time I got back to the shack, hauled wood, built a fire, made and ate dinner; my brain was too worn out to draw. It can be difficult to balance running, hiking and drawing with the short days if I feel pressured to do it all. Because I do not have running water or electricity, I need to go to town to get water and/or to the airport to charge my computer or camera batteries, but never the less it is dark after 4:30 and hard to draw. I tend to pick and choose if it is a long drawing day or a long running day or a combination of the two in moderation. But what is important is that the running and hiking is a direct feed to my drawings. The physical endurance and interaction with the land is the vehicle that shapes my drawing and keeps me going every day. Fortunately my body holds the physical experience so that I can continue the essences of this work back in my New York studio. While I am in no hurry to leave the C-scape shack, in fact I do not want to leave, I can look forward to my giant drafting table and printing press at the studio and I will have a body full of beach memories to draw from.

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Nancy at Herring Cove

At 9:30 Saturday morning I waved goodbye to Nancy from the airport parking lot. She drove here on Thursday from her home in the Adirondacks, 445 miles to go hiking on the shore. We met a couple years ago climbing the eastern high peaks of the Adirondacks and have gone on several backpacks since. She is always looking for a good adventure. Nancy arrived earlier than I anticipated which was great because we able to walk to the shack in the light, and take a short 5-mile beach walk toward Truro. We saw a couple of seals, which was exciting and arrived back after sunset in the deep dusk. It was beautiful to see the ocean getting dark as the sun went down. On Friday it rained, almost non-stop, but it mattered little to either of us. I thought since it was going to rain all day, we could start  on the bike trail, walk over to Herring Cove Beach and walk the beach back to the shack. It would be a modest 10-mile walk partially on asphalt and partially on the sand and through the beach forest. I have tracked it a few times on my wrist GPS as one of my running routes.

Around Bennet pond we found a woods trail and wandered onto that, first following footsteps, then animal tracks. We were careful not to walk on the plants or dunes that did not already have trails cut into them. I can’t say we were lost because it is not possible to get lost; if you walk in a straight line you will come back to the bike trail, but I could not find our way out. All the dunes looked the same. In every direction I looked I saw the same landscape with small trails running through them. It was more my fantasy that we were bushwalking through uncharted territory, but it was fun to think that was what we were doing. Eventually we decided to backtrack because I could not find the correct path. When we got to Herring Cove Beach, one of my favorite places because the sea is more angry and aggressive at this spot, it was pouring rain. We stood on the beach, eating our snacks, a few people sitting in cars watching the water probably thinking, “Who are those crazy people.” We walked the beach at high tide over to Hatches Harbor, a inlet of water with lots of tiny little ‘islands.” Again we had to backtrack because it was not possible in the high tide and rain to walk to the Race Point lighthouse via Hatches Harbor. So sheepishly we had to backtrack. I felt a bit dumb about having to backtrack again, clearly I did not plan our walk well, but I was so excited about seeing new places and all kinds of cool sites, my dumbness subsided. We walked the bike trail back to our starting point. We ended up walking over 13 miles; we had a few spots without rain but not many. We arrived at the shack, stoked up the fire, and Nancy made a delicious lentil stew. This morning she was up early, before sunrise and made a fire. It was nice to wake up to a warm living room. I made coffee and we walked out to the seashore to drink our coffee and watch the sun rise. It is a clear beautiful morning. Nancy is headed back home and I am headed out for a 14 mile run.

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Hilary running up the dunes.

The Joy of Running on the Cape’s sand dunes.

I worry I am not training properly or training enough in anticipation the beginning of racing season with New York Road Runners in February or for the Boston Marathon in April.  Last November I ran my first marathon, the NYC Marathon with a time of 3:49:08 after only running for 8 months. I had not run in over 20 years. I was thrilled with my time and all my planning went exactly as expected.  I also completed about 13 races consistently coming in within the top 13% of my age class and even earning a 1st place overall women in a 5k cross country meet.  But now, I am away from my team, they are training indoors at the nice warm track, getting speedier and speedier. I wonder what the heck am I doing in all this sand, even if it is far more beautiful here.

Today is a good example of a typical day and to say why running is so difficult or not difficult but slow.  I needed to go into town so first there was a 3 mile sand walk to get to my car and back. Finally home and ready to run, there is a ¾ mile run or walk in the sand to get to the bike trail. I usually run it to save time, but that extra 3.75 miles of sand before I even begin to run really takes its toll. The bike trail is a whole other animal; it is all hills, up and down for 5.5. It never lets up and puts a real strain on my legs, a good workout. Just walking the bike trail makes my ass hurt. I have been alternating between running the bike trail and running the beach. I figure running in the sand will make my legs really strong, but in reality the distance I normally cover in 63 minutes, takes 1:45 in the sand. It is grueling and depressing to move so slowly! Running in the sand feels like I have 10-pound weights on each ankle. I worry that I am getting slower and slower.  Today’s workout designed by our coach is a 1 mile warm up, followed by 4 x 1 mile at ½ marathon pace (60 second active rest in between), then a mile cool down. I figure that is a pretty moderate pace, about 8:25, so lets give it a shot on these never ending hills, I will either finish happy or completed devastated and depressed. Mile 1, 8:17, right on! Mile 2, 8:05, not bad, but too quick, Mile 3 and 4 both 8:20. I know for my friends at home running in singlets and shorts on an indoor fast track this is an easy workout. But I am feeling pretty smug that I ran it over endless hills, in layers of winter clothing, against the wind and cold. I guess I could say that I got the better workout or they could say they are smarter. I certainly have the most scenic route. So today I do not need to feel depressed, until tomorrow when I go running in the sand.

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Coral Dog

Here is my coral dog drawing I did yesterday. I really miss my real dog, Conrad. He would love the beach.

The longer I am here, the less I want to return to New York. The quaintness of hauling wood every morning has turned into one of the necessities that I look forward to. I happily see Randy’s truck approaching with a pile of wood. We chat about politics, the price of oil, and watch a red tailed hawk surf the winds looking for lunch. He brings me the national news that I do not get listening to the local independent radio station At 4:42 it is dark in the shack, too dark to read without a headlight, too dark to draw. But I do not miss electricity. In fact, I like collecting the kerosene lamps that I put away every morning and pull out each night, lighting them and hanging them from the ceiling. Occasionally I add new lamp oil, clip or change the wick. I drew for 8 hours until it got too dark, with 5 or so hours before I go to sleep I will read. I am reading the second of four books I picked up on Saturday at the Thrift Store. The first, The Paris Review, no. 159, fall 2001 that had an interview with Billy Collins. Now I am reading The Good Brother by Chris Offutt. Just before the sun is completely gone, I go outside with my very watered down coffee chocolate drink and look for coyotes, I have yet to see one. But the good news is there are still whales here. Yesterday Randy heard them off the tip of Race Point, heard their spouts. I thought that they migrate at this time of year, but apparently some stay year round. I adore being away from the noise of the city, especially the crowds of frustrated angry youths or drunken NYU students that hang out on the Lower East Side and the clash between the two. Here is nothing but sand, I can do what I want without friction. I like being out here so much I even dread going into town to get groceries. Well, that is not completely true, I like going into the small independent shops, but the Grand Union supermarket is the dregs. It is now completely dark outside and it is only 5:13, I am looking forward to the days getting longer, but with 19 days left I won’t get too much more light. I want to stay.

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Building Steps

Here is a nice little photo of me rebuilding the steps.

I found the solution to the cold, well two exactly.  The first is, if it is not too windy run, a lot.  With three layers of clothes, a balaclava and a hat,  glove liners and mittens I went to a two hour and fifteen minute run, it was awesome but I was wiped out running miles through the sand and over hills.  The other solution is, just wait and it will get warm.  Today it is in the 40’s and by Thursday it will be in the 50’s. It is glorious.

Nancy, my hiking buddy from the Adirondacks is coming this week to check out beach hiking. She is always a lot of fun and I am really looking forward to it. I guess she can leave the snowshoes home and maybe even back a bathing suit in this weather. Nothing like a plunge with the seals.

Drawing is going great. I am down to my trusty no. 2 pencil and paper to focus on illustrating beach debris.

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Home in the Minus Ten Degree Wind

I pull the laptop out from my sleeping bag. I have my laptop, satellite terminal, phone, and camera in the sleeping bag with me so that they do not freeze. It is warmer in my shack from this morning, almost 38 degrees after hours of burning wood, but there are only two and a half hours of daylight left and strong minus zero winds blowing through the walls. Forty degrees is the perfect temperature to go backpacking, but it is not good for being cooped up inside for any length of time and for me, one full day is too long to have to stay indoors. I think of the shack as glorified camping. It is much easier to have a home base with a wood burning stove and provisions to cook, it seems down right glamorous compared to backpacking, especially winter backpacking and forty degrees is toasty. The negative side is that being indoors I do not have the opportunity to get really warm because my physical activity is reduced to hauling wood, keeping the fire going, and the occasional run out to the highest sand dune to see the ocean. But the wind is so strong it almost blows me over and it is not real fun to go out. I have a bit of dread that the sun will set soon and I will be in darkness for the next 15 hours. I have gotten the shack warm enough to draw with gloves on, but curling up in the sleeping bag with an extra down blanket and a book is the best option for this weather. I have read a number of books since coming here, most notably Ed Viesturs, No Shortcuts to the Top. I think about Himalayan mountain climbing and mountaineering in general but the extreme temperatures seem daunting.  Here I can fantasize about being in such a place or perhaps fantasize I am preparation with my daily runs, strength and hill training.  Going to the Himalayas would be fantastic if I had 10 years of climbing experience and the $100,000 or so it costs for a guide and support. But I could always sell my Manhattan apartment and sink the cash into climbing. Now that’s the best idea I had this year……

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Frozen Day – Bed of Snow

Frozen dishing in the kitchen

Remember I am doing this for fun, and it is very fun. I knew it would get very cold today, perhaps below zero so I closed off the upstairs bedroom, sealed off the kitchen and confined myself to the 8’ x 10’ living room where the wood stove is. Just for fun I set the thermometer next to the bed and jumped into my fluffy down sleeping bag and went to sleep. I woke up in the middle of the night covered in sweat because the bag is so warm. I recalled that brief sweat memory when I woke in the morning to a 20 degree living room. I struggled to get my long johns and socks on in the tapered mummy bag and quickly jumped out to pull on my down coat. This is cool. I built a fire and went to make coffee. The night before I brought all the water into the living room, but now it is frozen solid. I melted some water for the coffee and standing in the kitchen I could not screw the top on the coffee pot, a few drops of water had gotten on the threads and it froze instantly. So now I had to thaw out my metal coffee pot so that I could put it on the burner to brew coffee. I took out my camera to shot the frozen pots, but it would not work either because it was frozen. I put my camera in my armpit and my laptop on my belly to get them working and went out to haul wood.

It is gorgeous outdoors. We only got a couple inches of snow but the dunes are beautiful. The weather reported temps of +6 degrees and -11 wind chill. Right now the wind is about 10mph, but it should reach 30mph by the afternoon. After three hours the living room is now a balmy 38 degrees, just six degree cooler than the ocean. Hey perhaps I should go for a swim! Just kidding. Off to look for seals, stay warm.

A quick follow up. It took many attempts and 90% of my battery to get a satellite fix. During that time I went to the bedroom and found a nice pile of snow on the bed.

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Nature Drawing

My fingers are freezing on this cold rainy morning, I can only typing a little bit. The high I heard will be 26, now I hear 15. Yesterday it rained non stop and I could not go running, that is one less day to complete 1000 miles this year; an idea put in my head by running buddy Audra, thanks Audra. I completed a couple of small drawings, right now I am staying in and enjoying practicing my natural life illustrations which I have not done in a while. But this afternoon, rain or shine, I will put in some miles. The Boston Marathon is just 16 weeks minus one day away.

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