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It's a little early to be celebrating Dia de Los Muertos, but I've been thinking about it a lot in the process of getting ready for upcoming exhibitions at the Main Street Museum in White River Junction and the art gallery downstairs from my studio. So here's a little altar for my grandmother.

Her name was Margaret, but she preferred to be called Eleanor. She was an excellent cook and an avid gardener, and I learned a lot from her in both of those areas. She was the wife of an Episcopal priest, and the daughter of missionaries. "The iron fist in the velvet glove," my mother called her. She could be very stern, when necessary, but I saw more of the velvet than the iron. She would often give me a little squeeze as she walked past me, and call me her nice girl. When I had a splinter, as I often did when I was young, she was the only one I wanted to take it out. She was that gentle. More than anyone else in my life, she made me feel loved.

She and Grandpa lived in Rhode Island, in a house that he had built less than a mile from the beach. We spent a lot of time there in the summer. One lazy afternoon, after lunch and naps, she shared with us a list of impossible birds that she had come up with. It made me look at her in a whole new way, sort of like when she confessed to me after my parents' divorce that she had always liked my father.

If she were still alive, she would be approaching her 92nd birthday. Anyway, here's the list:

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