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September 2013



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Many Long Years Ago...

I used to buy milk here--it was wonderful and fresh and cold--not homogenized. The rich country cream would rise to the top, as it did when I was a kid--I was delighted to find somewhere to buy REAL milk. I'd sit in the old kitchen with Mrs. Vassmer and share a cup of coffee and talk about how the garden was doing...

I think at first she wasn't sure about me--long haired hippie chick--but we soon found we had a great deal in common, this blunt, straightforward farm woman and I. She was always pleased to see me, and I her...I learned a lot from her, as I did from many of my farm neighbors.

The old Vassmer place sits high on a hill, overlooking the Fishing River valley, on its way to rendezvous with the Missouri River a bit farther downstream. This high vantage point was crowned with a gaggle of outbuildings, with the house at the highest point and everything else kind of wandering off downhill.

To the left in my sketch is the milkhouse...I mean to go back and sketch it again, just the wondrously quirky building with its burnt sienna rust-roof. These days you seldom find these little family dairies that still sell to the Big Boys...most of the milk we get today is from huge milk factories. A great loss, to the family farm and to anyone who likes milk, I think...but even then, 30 years ago, my hostess told me she could see the beginning of the end.

Her husband died years ago, and she didn't keep up the dairy much longer...now it's all boarded up and lonely on its wintry hill...

Years later, when I served on the parks and rec board in my town, I was able to insure that the city transportation continued to go pick her up and bring her into town for lunch and company at our senior center...I felt I owed her that for all the good company she'd given me...

I just started out driving yesterday, with no real idea where I'd end up...I just needed to get away, and sketch on the spot, somewhere. Now that I've actually stopped at the old place, instead of just intending to as I had for years, I hope to return again and again. It's a powerfully affective place...my own memories, the passage of time, the hopes of an old country family, and a way of life that is as endangered as a mountain gorilla...all here in this one abandoned hilltop farm.

Danny Gregory, author of Everyday Matters, and an inspiration to many journal keepers, called to interview me today for a podcast of some of the artists in his new book, An Illustrated Life; I was glad to have had this day so fresh in my mind to talk about.  The podcast will be on Danny's blog, at http://www.dannygregory.com/

This is a Pitt Sepia pen and watercolor pencils--mostly Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer, and a few old Derwents that have been rattling around in the Jeep for years...


A wonderful memory and sketch!
Thank you! It really IS a wonderful memory...
How is it that you can create such immediacy in your sketches? I swear, you put us THERE, in the story, watching, drawing, and remembering along with you. I call that a very special gift.
YOU are a very special gift, my friend...safe journey this week!



You reminded me that when I was very very small, we used to have a batch (hut) at the river. I used to go to the farm next door with my father or my big brother and we'd bring back fresh milk WARM from the cows. Mr Topham, I thinkk he might have been called.
I am eagerly awaiting my Watercolour Pencil CD and meanwhile kicking myself for not enrolling in the course. Kick. Kick.

Re: Milk

Oh, warm milk! What a lovely memory. I remember warm milk from my goats, though I must admit I really never did develop the taste for goat's milk that I thought I would. Tastes...goaty. To me, anyway!

Sorry about the class!


Your sketches really make me want to visit your part of the world - you inject so much feeling into them. I'm looking forward to hearing Danny's interview with you!
I wish you would, Casey! Where are you originally from?

It was kind of fun, and I ended up chatting with Danny's wife Patti, via email afterward...what a lovely lady! She bought one of my prints...


Kate -- I just listened to your interview with Danny and enjoyed it tremendously! Can't wait to see what's in the book. :-)
Linda M
Thank you, Linda! I just got back in town and haven't had a chance to hear how it turned out, edited!


This is my grandparents place! Such memories! I was searching for the Vassmer name and your story came up.
Omigosh, Trish, how cool! Where do you live now? I have wonderful memories of your grandmother back probably 25-30 years ago...


I live at my parents place in Ray Co. You made many of trips by it in your past.
Well, I probably have, Trish! There are lots of Vassmers in this area...which ones are your folks? I think I might have painted a picture of their barn, years ago...