New friends, brought together by art and apple cake

27 Sep
Pat and Josie and Buddy

Pat Tingley, Josie Pancione and Pat’s dog Buddy.

Today, I’d like to tell a story about two inspiring women — one an outstanding artist, the other an outstanding cook — and new friendships.

Josie Pancione, 88, lives at the Cherry Ridge retirement community on Ridge Road. She’s a faithful reader of my Our Towns East Extra column.

Some time ago, Josie tracked me down through the newspaper. She wanted to tell me all about an 87-year old friend of hers, Pat Tingley, who also lives at Cherry Ridge. Pat, she told me, was working on a huge painting in her garage. It was unbelievable, Josie insisted, a real sight to behold. And I might want to write about it.

It took me a while, but early last week I finally found the time to go down to Cherry Ridge to meet Josie and Pat, and to see this incredible painting.


Pat Tingley’s painting stretches a full 18 feet long. The colors are so much more vibrant than my camera could capture.

The painting is indeed impressive. The canvas is a huge 8′ tall by 18′ feet wide, and it fills the entire west wall of Pat’s garage. It’s alive with color: oranges, blues, and a dozen shades of purple and pink.

The far left-hand side of the artwork depicts a pre-dawn scene on the Pacific Ocean, the sun glinting off the undulating waves, and a gull gliding through the growing brightness.

On the far right, another pre-dawn scene on our country’s Atlantic coast, framed by a handsome birch tree. The magnificent Tahoe Rift slices down the middle, separating the two oceans.

Pat describes the piece as “my concept of the composition of the earth, the creation of the earth, the ongoing of the earth.” And while it depicts both the Pacific and the Atlantic, it’s all just one ocean, Pat explained. “If you look at the way water moves, it’s one ocean.”

Pat plans to move her painting from her garage a large blank wall in her living room. There, it will be one of the first things visitors see when they walk through the front door. When I asked her if she had plans to frame her masterpiece, her answer was immediate.

No, she said, “You can’t frame creation. As soon as you frame it it becomes a static thing.”

My story could have ended here, a pleasant tale of how one woman’s passion for art has brought meaning to her life and beauty to our world. I could have taken my camera and notebook and headed for home.

But Josie Pancione had a different plan.

After we’d all had a chance to appreciate and chat about the painting, Pat and Josie ushered me inside the cottage, where Josie had prepared an authentic, three-course Italian dinner.

Pat’s dining room table was set with silverware and cloth napkins, and we settled in. Our meal began with dessert — a decadent apple cake — and fresh lemonade. We ate, and our pleasant conversation continued until our plates were bare and glasses were empty. Then it was time for me to head home, so the rest of the dinner came with me in to-go containers: pasta, sauce, meatballs, salad and freshly grated cheese, which Josie insisted should be sprinkled on everything.

It was enough food to last me for days.

There was only one more thing left to be done. As I headed toward the door, Josie called me over, spread her arms wide, and gave me a bona fide Italian two-cheek kiss.

It was an enjoyable, charming and amiable meeting. There was magnificent art and delectable food. But what I enjoyed most was the opportunity to make two lovely new friends.

* * *

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