Snow and Show and Tell

Snowy night in Nottingham Forest. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Snowy night in Nottingham Forest. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

My calendar this month contains Zoom meetings, art show set up, and a car mechanic. Our life this February differs dramatically from that of last year. Our car will have its first oil change in a year. We do not drive anywhere.

Clown car in an ice storm. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Just chillin’ letting the icicles grow. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I appreciate the gift of time and the blank days on the calendar. I am able to be home, to work from home, and to not feel guilty about it. I take the time to walk around in the snow and take a dozen photos to capture the one good shot. I am grateful to pass time by gazing out of the window to watch the snow fall, the birds nest, and plants grow while I wait for paint to dry in my art studio.

My view from the sofa. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Above: snow photos from our garden and local park.

A month ago, I was asked to show my portraits in a local café. I had to rush to have the paintings framed, and was given an hour to hang 22 works. Andreas was a big help. It feels good to exhibit in an accessible space where people will spend a little bit of time with my paintings. I would love to meet friends there, hang out, enjoy lunch, coffee, and conversations, but that is not yet possible.

Stained glass was the art medium of the month in the studio: In my first project, I recreated a stained glass tree that reflects human’s disconnect to the earth. It’s titled Plant Trees Not Houses. The first version was created in 1998 and it hangs in our living room. The 2021 version was shipped to our sister-in-law in Oregon.  In my second project, I built three-dimensional sculptures of stained glass cacti that sit in containers filled with marble chips. The containers I made out of four tape cassettes super glued together on a base of either music CDs or stained glass. The cacti are being marketed to old school, music loving, houseplant killers. I feel these people exist and need art ha ha. These pieces will be included in a Trashy Women show in April. And lastly, Special Olympics ordered an unexpected additional four Polar Bears. Glass kept me busy.

Work in progress. The grey glass is mirror. Stained glass and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Plant Trees Not Houses, original on the left created in 1998, new and improved 2021 on right. Stained glass and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Plant Trees Not Houses, original on the left created in 1998, new and improved 2021 on right. Stained glass and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Next month will be different: I am watching daily weather patterns across the north American continent in the New York Times and Andreas is creating a new website which is sort of a hint of plans. Stay tuned blog fans……

Proof that spring is coming. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Proof that spring is coming. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Thanks to Andreas for editing the first version. It was as flat as my mood. As much as I LOVE snow, I’m ready for winter to be over. 🙂

Ein Leben in Lubeck 1935-2021

Annemarie, die Schwester meiner Mutter, hatte einen kleinen Garten recht nah am West-Ufer der Wakenitz. Eine kleine Hu¨tte hatte eine Ku¨che, Wohnzimmer, und Esszimmer alles in einem Raum. Das Wasser kam von einer Handpumpe draussen im Garten. Im Sommer lebte sie dort mit meinem Onkel Fritz, meinem Cousin Olaf, und meiner Cusine Petra etwa 2.5 km von ihrer Wohnung in der Paradiesgarten Strasse. Bei Besuchen im Sommer waren wir Kinder meist draussen um auch durch die umliegenden Naturschutzgebiete zu stromern. Dies sind meine ersten Erinnerungen an eine grossartige, selbstlose, und elegante Frau: Annemarie Gu¨smer starb vor 2 Wochen in Lu¨beck 86 Jahre nach ihrer Geburt.

Familien Photo vom 7. Mai 1960. Von links nach rechts: meinem Vater Lothar Mu¨nchow, meiner Mutter Christa Nagewitz, meine Tante Annemarie Gu¨smer, meine Grosseltern Luise und Hans Nagewitz, und mein Onkel Fritz Gu¨smer.

Meine Grossmutter Luise Nagewitz gebar Annemarie als drittes von fu¨nf Kindern am 20. Ma¨rz 1935 in Lu¨beck. Annemarie’s 4-ja¨hrige Schwester Ingrid starb 4 Wochen vor ihrer Geburt. Dies war ein schwerer Anfang sowohl fu¨r die Eltern Luise und Hans als auch fu¨r das neugeborene Kind. Meine Mutter Christa folgte 1936, ein kleiner Bruder 1937, und der Zweite Weltkrieg begann 1939. Annemarie war 4 Jahre jung als Deutsche und Russische Armeen Polen angriffen, 9 Jahre als ihr grosser Bruder der Deutschen Wehrmacht bei-getreten wurde, und 10 Jahre alt als die Britisch Armee Lu¨beck von den Nazis befreite.

Die Feuerstu¨rme und Bomben des Luftangriffes am Palmsonntag 1942 brannten sich fru¨h in die Errinnerungen der zwei kleinen Ma¨dchen Anne (7) und Christa (5) ein. Anders als meine Mutter, welche bis heute jeden Donner, jeden Blitz, und jedes Feuer fu¨rchtet ohne richtig zu wissen warum, hat meine Tante Anne perso¨nliche Gefuehle, erlebte Geschichte, und gewu¨nschte Politik analytisch bedacht, gelesen, und ensprechend gewa¨hlt und gehandelt. Sehr fru¨h hat sie Verantwortung in der Familie u¨bernehmen mu¨ssen, was nicht immer ihrer eigenen Bildung half, obwohl sie bei weitem die Klu¨gste in der Familie war.

Sie graduierte 1949 von der Volksschule gleichzeitig mit der Gru¨ndung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Das war ein unglu¨ckliches Jahr, in dem sie keinen Ausbildungsplatz fand, da die Arbeitslosigkeit in Lu¨beck 1949 bei 28.7% lag. Etwa 300 junge Frauen aus Lu¨beck und Schleswig-Holstein wanderten dieses Jahr nach Island aus, weil dort Frauenmangel herrschte. So begann Annemarie, 15 Jahren jung, in einer Fabrik zu arbeiten und teilte sich auch weiterhin ein Zimmer mit ihrer kleinen Schwester bei den Eltern erst in der Stitenstrasse und ab 1951 am Buniamshof, wo ihr Vater der Platzwart war. Zusammen sind wir dort in 2018 und 2019 auch am Kra¨henteich und in der Altstadt spazieren gegangen um spa¨ter im “Kartoffelspeicher” und bei “Schlumacher’s” zusammen zu Feiern und zu Essen.

Ein Jahr spa¨ter lernte sie als junge 17-ja¨hrige Frau den gelernten Schlosser Fritz Gu¨smer kennen: sie verlobten sich 2.5 Jahre spa¨ter und heirateten 1957. Das junge Ehepaar wohnte immer noch bei den Eltern, da Wohnraum und Geld in Lu¨beck auch 12 Jahre nach Kriegsende immer noch knapp war. Meine Mutter zog eine Woche nach der Hochzeit in die Schweiz, so dass Annemarie und ihr Ehemann ein eigenes Zimmer hatten. Nach zwei Jahren gebar sie Olaf 1959. Jetzt fand die junge Familie auch ihre erste Miet-Wohnung, bekam den Schrebergarten an der Wagnitz, und am 6. Januar 1962 gebar Annemarie Tochter Petra. Hier ist Annemarie’s Schrebergarten im Sommer 1962, wo ihr Vater einen seiner Enkel schaukelt:

Kleinkind in Annemarie’s Schrebergarten an der Waknitz etwa 1962 mit Grossvater.

Sowohl Olaf (1959), Petra (1962), als auch ich (1961) und meine zwei Geschwister Burkhard (1963) und Christina (1964) sind alle in Lu¨beck geboren. Meine Mutter bestand darauf, dass ihre Kinder nicht an ihrem Wohnort in Leck, Nordfriesland hinter dem Deich der Nordsee auf die Welt kommen; nein, Christa entschied, dass ihre Kinder in der grossen Stadt mit der Unterstu¨tzung ihrer Schwester Annemarie zur Welt kamen. Annemarie sorgte sich auch um ihre etwa 18 Monate junge Nichte Christina fu¨r 2-3 Wochen, damit ihre Schwester Christa mit Mann und So¨hnen in einen Urlaub fahren konnten. Hier ist Annemarie’s Tochter Petra bei uns in Nordfriesland 1965 zu Besuch. Das war der Kinder-Tisch separat von dem Erwachsenen-Tisch.

Cuties at the kids table From left to right: Burkhard, Andreas, cousin Petra and baby Christina. Photo taken on Wikinger Str. in Leck, Germany early 1965. This photo taken from the slide projected on the wall.
Burkhard, Andreas, Cousine Petra, und Christina in Leck, Nordfriesland, Wikinger Str. 46 Anfang 1965.

Und so ging es auch die na¨chsten 15 Jahre weiter. Wir Mu¨nchow’s aus Nordfriesland oder Hessen waren jedes Jahr bestimmt 3-4 mal auch bei Tante Anne zu Besuch. Zusammen verbrachten wir Kinder viel Zeit miteinander und hatten nicht una¨hnliche Probleme als Teenager mit Eltern, Musik, Sex, Drogen, Schule, und dem allgemeinen Zustand von Gesellschaft und Politik. Das hatte allerdings auch Vorteile, da wir Kinder uns bestens gegen unsere Eltern unterstu¨tzten. Diese erschienen uns sehr alt, konservativ, langweilig, und von Musik hatten die wirklich keine Ahnung. [Die Ironie hier ist, dass wir “Teenager” heute 10 Jahre a¨lter sind, als unser Eltern es in den spa¨ten 70er waren.]

Petra Gu¨smer (Tochter von Annemarie) und Burkhard Mu¨nchow (Sohn von Christa) in Walldorf, Hessen, etwa 1978.

Tante Anne sagte selten etwas – stille Wasser sind tief – aber wenn wir als rebellische Teenager zu weit gingen, dann bescha¨mte sie uns mit ihrer Ruhe und Toleranz, mit ihrer Logik und Wissen, und ganz besonders mit weisem Humor, welcher uns zum Lachen brachte. Da wir ihr oft vertrauten, folgten wir dann gerne ihrem Rat. Keiner in unser Familie besass Annemarie’s Emphatie und Einfu¨hlung fu¨r junge Leute. Sie war nicht nur der “Bu¨cherwurm” in unserer Familie sondern auch die “Weisheit” und der “gesunde Menschenverstand.” Aber sie war immer im Hintergrund, immer leise, immer am Arbeiten, und hat sich immer selbstlos um das Wohl anderer geku¨mmert. Diese Selbstlosigkeit kam dann spa¨ter auch ihren Enkelkinder Christoph (1982), Maya (1984), und Titus (1990) in grossem Masse zu Gute.

Etwa 4 Jahre nach der Geburt von Titus reiste Annemarie ohne Ehemann, Kinder, oder Enkelkinder aber mit meinen Eltern fu¨r 3-4 Wochen in die USA. Der Flug 1994 von Hamburg nach Denver in Colorado war wohl ihr erster. Sie besuchte ihre Nichte Christina, welche dort mit ihrer jungen Familie lebte. In einem Miet-Auto fuhren sie dann ganz “langsam” durch die Rocky Mountains und die Wu¨sten von New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona, um mich am Pazifischen Ozean in San Diego, Kalifornien zu besuchen. Das sind fast 2000 km. Diese Reise wurde sowohl von ihren Tochter Petra von Lu¨beck aus, als auch von meiner Schwester Christina und mir u¨ber einen Zeitraum von etwa 2 Jahren vorbereitet. Hier ist ein Photo, wo sie bei meiner Schwester in Boulder, Colorado ankommt:

Annemarie Gu¨smer (rechts) mit ihrer Nichte Christina Parsons, Schwager Lothar und Schwester Christa (links) in Colorado 1994.

Die Drei fuhren dann auf der Ku¨stenstrasse dem Pazifischen Ozean entlang nach San Francisco, gingen dort 2-3 Tage spazieren, essen, und trinken, und fuhren dann die 2000 km zuru¨ck nach Denver in einer no¨rdlichen Route. In den na¨chsten 20 Jahren habe ich dann den Kontakt nach Deutschland fast verloren: meine Grosseltern starben, es wurde geheiratet, Kinder wurden geboren oder adoptiert, Ehen wurden geschieden, neue Partnerschaften wurden gegru¨ndet, und aus Kindern wurden Erwachsene sowohl in Deutschland als auch in den USA.

Im Sommer 2015 lebte Tante Anne mit ihrem Ehemann bei ihrer Tochter Petra, Schwiegersohn Stefan, und deren Familie. Dort besuchte ich Annemarie und Petra an einem Samstag Nachmittag auf einem Arbeitsweg von den USA nach Schweden. Warum Petra auf der Wiese hinter dem Haus mit 4-5 Mo¨psen in einem Camper lebte, war mir nicht so ganz klar, aber Petra und ich haben gemein, dass wir uns oft etwas exentrische verhalten und uns meist spontan entscheiden was manchmal chaotische Konsquenzen hat. Meine Mutter hat diese Erbmasse auch, Annemarie allerdings nicht. Dafu¨r hat Annemarie aber die no¨tige Gedult, Ruhe, und Empathie um dieses andere Leben zu tolerieren. Hier ist Tante Anne mit Onkel Fritz und auch Petra etwa 2015 in ihrem Garten.

Ganz besonders mein in Deutschland verbliebener Bruder Burkhard hat immer den Kontakt zu Tante Anne und Onkel Fritz, ihren Kindern Olaf und Petra, und auch Enkelkindern Maya und Titus u¨ber all die Jahrzehnte behalten. Burkhard erza¨hlte mir von traurigen Beerdigungen, frohen Hochzeiten, und einsichtigen Geschichten von Annemarie und Fritz. Diese kurzen Einblicke, welche Annemarie Burkhard und spa¨ter auch mir im Privatem erkla¨rte, warfen neues Licht auf alter Ereignisse und Perso¨nlichkeiten in unserer Familie. Stille Wasser sind tief – und Annemarie’s Beobachtungen, Erinnerungen, und Analysen waren scharf und trafen wunde Punkte ohne zu verletzen.

Burkhard gab mir diese Bilder von Annemarie, Petra, und Fritz an der Ostsee, in Hameln, in Neustadt, in Kiel, und auch auf der Burg Runkel an der Lahn wo Tante Anne und Petra ihn und seine Frau Carina 2016 besuchten:

Meine Wissenschaft und Ozeanographie Forschungsreisen brachten mich jetzt jedes Jahr zur “Durchreise” nach Deutschland. Gerne flog ich u¨ber Kopenhagen nach Europa und dann per Zug und Ostsee-Fa¨hre nach Lu¨beck um sowohl meine Eltern als auch Tante Anne zu besuchen. Kurz vor Weihnachten 2017 lud ich mich zu Kaffee und Kuchen in ihre Wohnung ein. Hier ihre schnelle Antwort per e-mail:

Annemarie und Fritz Gu¨smer am 23. Dezember 2017 in ihrem Wohnzimmer mit dem Author. [Photo von Dragonfly Leathrum.]

Annemarie ging mit der Zeit und konnte mit digitalen Medien gut umgehen, was in Deutschland fu¨r Frauen u¨ber 80 ungewo¨hnlich ist. Ganz begeistert zeigte sie uns ein grosses Album von der Hochzeit ihrer Enkeltochter Maya auf ihrem iPad. So funktionierte dann auch die Kommunikation mit Dragonfly, welche noch wenig Deutsch sprach, aber von den Familienfotos – wie auch ich – ganz begeistert war. Auch Annemarie’s ju¨ngsten Enkel Titus traf ich ein erstes Mal als erwachsenen Menschen. Als ehemaliger Seemann spricht er ausgezeichnetes Englisch. Am Abend fuhren wir wohl gena¨hrt und gesta¨rkt die 30 Minuten Busfahrt zu unser AirBnB in der Lu¨bschen Altstadt im Malerwinkel zuru¨eck.

Ein Jahr spa¨ter kam Tante Anne uns in diesem AirBnB besuchen, nachdem wir lange in der Altstadt zu Fuss mit meinen Eltern unterwegs waren. Die zwei Schwestern und mein Vater erinnerten sich an vielen Ecken an Ereignisse und Geschichten welche 30 oder 50 oder 70 Jahre zuru¨ck lagen. Schulen, Friseure, Cafe’s, La¨den, Kneipen, Kinos, und auch Gescha¨ften. Annemarie arbeitete viel in der Altstadt im Schuhverkauf bei Salamander und im Kleiderverkauf bei Herder um ihrer Familie auch finanzielle zu unterstu¨tzen. Sie kommentierte in 2018, dass die 300-400 Jahre alten und malerischen (“picturesque”) Ha¨user der Lu¨becker Altstadt nicht immer so schick waren, wie sie es heute sind. Nach dem Wein vor unserem AirBnB hinter dem Dom an der Obertrave sind wir abends noch scho¨n und vornehm Essen gegangen. Das war der letzte Abend, welchen Tante Anne und ich zusammen verbrachten.

Ihr Leben war nicht ganz so lang, wie ich es mir gewu¨nscht ha¨tte. Covid-19 verhinderte den Plan sie letzten Sommer oder Weihnachten noch einmal zu besuchen. Annemarie’s Leben war sicher nicht immer einfach, aber sie hat anderen viel Freude, Mut, Stabilita¨t, Essen, Trinken, und auch viel Liebe gegeben. Sie war und ist fu¨r mich eine Person, welche all Das representiert, was Gut in Deutschland und in meiner Heimat ist und war.

Annemarie is Home.

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”-Pablo Picasso

I think my comedian friend Bobbie Oliver summed up January’s mood pretty well when she said, “Now when I wash my hands for 20 seconds, I sing Happy Birthday to the coronavirus.”

Yes, we are still self-quarantining, but enough about that. January began with…..I usually say something about New Years Eve, we didn’t have a New Year’s Eve. We did what we do any other pandemic night. We only stayed up until midnight because we were binge watching an old show.

The insurrection at the Capitol building in Washington DC earlier this month was shocking and disgusting. Andreas was glued to the news and the event found its way into most conversations for a few weeks. We were happy the inauguration on the 20th went smoothly and we have a new president. He seems to be busy trying to reverse some of the horrible things the former president put into place. I wish him luck.

A funny social distancing story, we moved our fire pit to a space in the garden where we could safely distance with two other people. Unfortunately, to do this you can’t huddle around the fire to stay warm. Yeah, didn’t think that through. We had two visits and frozen toes. We’ll wait for a warm day for company.

I completed my annual stained glass, polar bear commission for Special Olympics Delaware. Not being able to leave the house meant production went faster. I finished two weeks early and took a week off to make new pillow covers for our boring pillows. I’ve been wanting to do this for months.

The little men on the pillow in the back are cut from a sweatshirt I used to wear in the mid-eighties. The legs and arms on the monster are sewn from old socks.

Andreas has been teaching a winter session class called An Introduction to Ocean Science. The class meets every day for an hour and forty-five minutes on Zoom. It’s a lot of work and takes up most of his time, but he enjoys teaching and has a good group of students.

Andreas explains the Coriolis Effect for his students using a read cabbge and a beer coaster. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas explains the Coriolis Effect for his students using a red cabbage and a beer coaster. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We are sad to say that his Tante Annemarie passed away earlier this month. He has been writing a blog about her in his spare time. I thought it might be a short remembrance, but it is turning into a biography of her and his family. He is putting in a lot of time researching German history to better understand the time period she grew up in. Many calls have been made to his mother and brother in Germany to authenticate memories and stories. I’ll post it here when he is finished.

Andreas working on his blog over the weekend.
A slide of Andreas in Tante Anne’s garden 1962

Andreas is still experimenting with new recipes and spices for our usual dishes. We are trying to limit our shopping trips which encourages culinary creativity. If you have any new recipes you’ve recently discovered please share them.

I am keeping busy completing winter projects for my business and the house. I have a show coming up in February at a local café showing my Diner series and a Trashy Women show scheduled for April. Inspiration and new ideas come when I’m problem solving. There is no boredom, just a feeling of sameness in this box of a house. We are excited for spring. The daffodils have already started to push through the leaves. Last year’s seeds are organized and we are planning new vegetable beds. Snow is in the immediate forecast! We are well and hope you are too.

Daffodils
The daffodils think it’s spring.
Ready for warm weather!

Quiet Quarantine Christmas

We’ve had a very quiet December. Thinking back over the month I feel sad about that. I miss Christmas parties and my friends, but it has also been a fairly stress-free holiday minus all of the usual obligations.

We celebrated our 2nd anniversary at home with take-out. We considered traveling to a bed and breakfast, but what’s the point, most things are closed and we don’t feel comfortable in the places that are opened.

Anniversary gift from Andreas, an Angelique Kidjo CD wrapped with the only blooming flower in the garden.
Cheers to two years!

Andreas’ class finished mid-month and my private art classes on the deck outside haven’t been meeting as often because of the weather.

Student finishing a watercolor painting on a sunny morning.
Self portrait. I’ll teach that again when we can stop wearing masks.

Andreas has been chopping up our wood piles and we’ve been enjoying fires on colder nights. We trash picked a nice wood rack from a neighbor so we can store some wood near the house to keep it dry.

Andreas keeping warm on a cold day.

He has also been trying more new recipes. This month he made a Christmas Stollen, granola and ham.

I was very happy that we had some snow and that it stayed on the ground for a few days. I hope we get a lot more this year. Snow makes everything prettier.

Catching snow flakes
The next day everything was covered in ice.
Bird seed eater.

My friend Sherri and I have been walking in the evenings taking turns between our neighborhoods to see the Christmas lights. That’s been really fun. Andreas hung lights on the deck and we have little candles in our windows.

Both Andreas and I took a day off on Christmas day. I caught up on the newspapers and he read a book. Andreas cooked a ham from our friend Trebs’ farm along with a lot of red cabbage.

Newspaper nest
Best seat in the house.

On Boxing Day, we hosted our Scottish friend Pablo and Andreas cooked Bubble and Squeak. I think it turned out really well. We felt uncomfortable distancing ourselves so far from Pablo and wearing masks when we weren’t eating. All worth it to enjoy good company and stay safe.

Pablo with his own dining table.

Thanks to everyone who sent cards and cookies! We are fat and happy and miss you all very much.

Family Zoom party

We wish you all a healthy, happy New Year!

The Christmas Card

I spent a November evening looking through our 2020 life in photos trying to find this year’s Christmas card image. We have a few photos together, but in every one we are wearing masks. My dark sense of humor thinks this would make an “funny” card. Andreas says, “No, not for Christmas, it should be positive.” Back to the search.. garden photos.. no, not Christmassy either.

We didn’t travel ANYWHERE. Which feels strange to us; I didn’t go to the beach this fall. No Oregon photos, no Germany photos, just us in the house staying safe.

Just resting his eyes…not sleeping on the job. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Besides the Covid, (I don’t have to share a graph this month, you all know what’s going on,) it has been a good month. We have a new President on the way which we are both very happy and relieved about. Andreas worked the election polls again. His exposure to over 2,000 people was a little scary and another Covid test was taken.

This is my Biden won, the other guy lost face the day we heard the news.

I participated in The Newark Arts Alliance Gingerbread House contest. That turned out to be pretty fun. Thanks to my friend Joe Daigle and his epic effort of creating an edible Notre Dame it became a big event.

Article from the Newark Post
Gingerbread house making is a big mess. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum.
Bad dogs live here!
Notre Dame in Gingerbread with Gummy Bear stained glass by Joseph Daigle. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
I know, it’s crazy amazing. He did such a good job. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
My high school friend, Joelle was in town and stopped by the Arts Alliance to see Notre Dame. Photos by Mrs. Pezely and Joelle.

Andreas had a nice birthday, I hope. It was quiet and he worked all day but the weekend before we had a small lunch party outside with his best friend Pablo and our brother-in-law George.

The birthday boy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We had a weird little Thanksgiving. Just the two of us, but thanks to pandemic times and modern technology we were able to see and speak to most of my family over Zoom. Our friends Mary and Les picked up Indian take-out food and dropped it off at our door. Andreas worked through the day, but took the evening off to watch a few movies. All in all, a good day.

Hopefully there will be cranberries and mashed potatoes on this table next year.
Tiny little family portraits. We live all over the US now, so this might be as good as it gets.

Maybe for some of you, spending time in the house has led to some renovations and re-arranging. I spent a lot of time this month moving my office upstairs from my studio. Once space was cleared in the studio, art supplies in the garage filled the office void, which brings us to today with a major garage clean out and re-arranging. That felt good.

Not the photo. haha

So, back to this Christmas card. We settled on a photo that simply captures a day in the life of being home. Nothing special or exotic, just home and we are happy here.

October Inktober 2020

Hello, November 1st let me tell you about October before this election in two days, before things get potentially weird. (weirder)

Yellow leaves on a foggy day in our garden. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Autumn is here, the leaves that are still hanging on are showing their colors and the rest are sitting unraked in our yard. I should hashtag that. We are the #unraked! Compost, that’s what we’re all about ha ha.

We’ve had two cold Fall nights, both of which we had another couple over for drinks on the deck. We get creative by adding blankets and more candles to deck décor. Andreas hung red Christmas lights from the arbor for Halloween night and they will stay there through the Valentine’s Day.

Andreas tries to stay warm during a socially distanced dinner.
Cooking smores over the fire. For my German friends a smore is two graham crackers, a piece of chocolate and burnt, melted marshmallows. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Personally, this was a productive month. I completed the Inktober challenge https://inktober.com/ where everyday a different word prompt is given online and it must be illustrated in ink. I translated most prompts to German to grow my vocabulary. Sometimes the words are very difficult to illustrate, sometimes the image comes to mind immediately. That was challenging, fun and I’m glad it was only for thirty-one days.

I’ve also been working in Stained Glass and mosaic. I completed the windows due for the Delaware Special Olympics and have been trying to use up smaller pieces of glass in the studio by creating hearts in different colors. I hope to have some in stock for Christmas.

Six window for Special Olympics Delaware. Stained glass and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
White Clay Creek waterfall. Stained glass and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I finished a commission for a local Brewery creating three different beer labels. I’ll be able to share those images when the beer is available for sale in the next year or so.

I’m filling mosaic stepping stone orders. It’s much easier to work outside in cooler weather because there are less mosquitoes.

Mosaic cement stepping stones. Mosaics and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

October is all about Halloween and we tried to make it fun for the neighbor’s kids. We decorated the garden with a big spider web and carved pumpkins. I waited by the door to give candy, but not many showed up. Sadly, many of the kids and parents weren’t wearing masks. It’s Halloween, the only day of the year when masks are cool!

The best thing about carving pumpkins is roasting the seeds. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Scary Garden! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Social distance tongs for safe candy delivery. I hope most of the leftover candy goes to Andreas’ office. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The election is two days away. Andreas has chosen to work at the polls again. He has been very busy with class preparations and other work demands, often working through the evening and weekends. He is still trying out new recipes, but less often.

Andreas experimenting with new spices. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We would like to travel somewhere for a weekend or so but Covid numbers continue to climb.

Current Covid-19 graph (October 31, 2020 numbers) by https://icyseas.org/ Andreas Muenchow

I hope to report next month that the election went smoothly, that the horrible subhuman currently in office is in prison and the Covid numbers are much lower here and around the world.

Weekly dining out/outside at Sinclair’s Cafe with Mr. Bones. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

New Normal

Summer is over, fall has begun. We have been so busy working on our individual interests that it hasn’t occurred to me that there is much to write about. Besides feeling work busy, we also spend time on other projects to avoid thinking too much about Covid 19 and the political mess in this confused country. Add the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg to the upset and maybe you can understand our need for extreme focus and new distractions.

Andreas worked the polls during the Primary election this month. You can read about his experience at icyseas.org
Late blooming rose. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
A perfect day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

As always, the garden keeps us busy and happy. It is always changing and beautiful. As we plan our new garden at the rental property, we are making sure we have plenty of composted soil here to move next door.

Andreas turning the compost pile. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Serious measuring and garden planning.

Preparing new vegetable and flower beds next door.

A few of Andreas’ tomato plants did well next to the driveway. Deer nibbled the plants next door.

Will they ever turn red?
The first tomato! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The proud farmer. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The interior of our home is being relabeled in German to assist my struggling German language learning.

Lunch
Online German class. So much homework!

When I’m not studying, I have been working mostly in stained glass completing projects for clients.

Stained glass window before solder. I’m making six of these. Each one will be a little different. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I also chose to bring back a few art students. I’ve been teaching outside with Covid precautions. It’s been going well. It’s very pleasant to teach outside. I’m not sure what I will do when the weather becomes colder.

Working on hand studies.
Practicing a still-life.

Even though Covid numbers in our City are not positive news we have chosen to go out a little more because we need a change in routine. We now go to a Café at 7am once a week for breakfast. We sit outside and during most visits we are the only customers.

Sinclair’s Cafe on Main St.

Andreas is allowed back to his University office and will work there a few days a week.

We were invited to a friend’s garden for a distanced dinner.

A few of our hosts. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Our friends Caryn and Gordon have a wonderful garden. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Dinner by candle light.
An artist’s garden.

Andreas is still experimenting in the kitchen. He is becoming a better cook every week. I’m lucky that he enjoys cooking so much.

Andreas trying a new recipe. Too many onions! We were both crying .
Saturday pancakes made from the eggs of the chickens featured above. Photo by Andreas Muenchow. Filter edits by me.

We are trying to embrace the new normal. Some days are better than others and there are no longer expectations for an all clear Covid-19 signal.

Keep on keepin’ on, y’all. Register to vote and wear that mask.

P.S. I’m trying out this new WordPress Block format so the blog might look a little funky.

Before and After

Before
Before

After a month and a half of painting and cleaning, the rental property we purchased is ready. I’m so TIRED!! I’m also feeling happy that I met my deadline, came in under budget and the house looks good.

After
After

Back of house
Back of house

The inside painting ended up being a little more complicated than I imagined. Most of the walls and ceiling are wallpapered under existing paint. That meant that all the walls needed to be primed before two coats of paint. The trim and windows also required a primer coat. I tape all of my edges when I paint, but soon learned that when I removed the tape it pulled off old paint and wallpaper. Then there were the walls with wallpaper that needed to be removed.

Before dining room.
Before dining room.

After dining room
After dining room

During painting the dining room. Do I look tired? I AM! The room was hand painted with a brush. Every color has two coats of paint.
During painting the dining room. Do I look tired? I AM! The room was hand painted with a brush. Every color has two coats of paint.

Before dining room
Before dining room

Dining room after
After dining room

It was a steep learning curve aided by the sage advice from Facebook friends who suffered before me. I hired a painter friend to come on the weekends to handle the more difficult spackling work, wallpaper removal, ladder work in the hall and some of the rooms. His professionalism, knowledge and tricks were invaluable. I learned a lot from him and he did a great job.

Before hallway
Before hallway

After hallway
After hallway

After hallway
After hallway

I invited the former owners over to see the changes I made and they liked them. They even changed the heater filter for me while they were there.

Before kitchen
Before kitchen

After kitchen
After kitchen

Andreas and I had concerns that finding renters would be difficult because the University has been uncertain about opening in the fall. I’m happy to report that we found three, none are students, I know their families and I’ve known all of them for over a decade. Today I collected leases and handed out keys. The first to spend the night is a pet rabbit named Benny. It felt really good to turn over the house to others and know that I can work in my studio again tomorrow.

Before and after basement stairs. Why would I want to change this? haha
Before and after basement stairs. Why would I want to change this? haha

While I’ve been working at the house Andreas was offered a summer research job with a colleague in Copenhagen. We are hoping to travel there this winter so they can also work in person, but the timing is unknown because of America’s handling or mis-handling of the pandemic.

Before yeast cake
Before yeast cake

After. Andreas has been baking every weekend.
After. Andreas has been baking every weekend.

We are still quarantining here, but not as strictly. I’ve expanded my shopping to include the hardware and paint store and once in a while we find ourselves social distancing with Christina and George in the house if the weather is too hot. The University decided to have classes online in the fall which makes me happy and Andreas sad. He was really looking forward to teaching an undergraduate class in person.

Before home haircut.
Before home haircut.

After home haircut.
After home haircut. Andreas won’t let me cut his hair lately. He’s trying to bring back the feathered mullet.

Daily gardening has stopped because of the heat and mosquitoes, but the tomato plants are still being well cared for. A few are as tall as me and are producing fruit. The smaller plants at the new property are doing well too.

The beginning of our future gardens. We need rain.
The beginning of our future vegetable garden. We need rain.

Yesterday was my birthday and we enjoyed a delicious socially-distanced dinner at Christina and George’s place. It’s strange to sit down to dinner, not across the table, but across the room from each other and to wear masks in passing.

My birthday cakes. on the left a rhubarb cake by Andreas. That's a German one. I'm not 57. On the right a cake by Christina. Both very delicious and German. Christina's cake was her mother's recipe.
My birthday cakes. On the left a rhubarb cake by Andreas. That’s a German one, I’m not 57. On the right a cake by Christina. Both very delicious and German. Christina’s cake was her mother’s recipe.

Distance dining. Fantastic dinner by Christina. Photo by Christina Parsons
Distance dining. Fantastic birthday dinner by Christina. Photo by Christina Parsons

Life is good here. We hope you are doing well too. Please wear your mask.

 

Growing Food Not Lawns. (Hopefully)

Andreas' Graham Thomas roses at sunset. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ Graham Thomas roses at sunset. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We have big news, but first, the Garden Tour. Andreas and I have been preparing for this event for months. We’ve been gardening, improving the outside appearance of the deck and house and creating artwork to place in the garden and to sell.

 Andreas and I recieved recognition from the Audubon Society for our natural habitats and attention to planting for the birds.
Andreas and I received recognition from the Audubon Society for our natural habitats and attention to planting for the birds.

Recently, I refreshed most of the paint on the Art Car and created 10 mosaic stepping stones to sell during the tour. They all sold. I even sold a few of the old stones from the ground that I made years ago.

Fresh paint on the Art Car. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Fresh paint on the Art Car. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Mosaics are like puzzles. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Mosaics are like puzzles. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Seven of the ten stepping stones created for the tour. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Seven of the ten stepping stones created for the tour. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The tour was a success. The Newark Arts Alliance sold a lot of tickets. We think we had over a hundred people walk through physically distancing themselves and wearing masks. Andreas and I distanced ourselves from others on the deck. The weather was perfect! Warm with low humidity. Even the mosquitoes weren’t too bad.

Andreas at Garden Tour speaking with visitors. Photo by Josh Shannon of the Newark Post
Andreas during the Garden Tour speaking with visitors. Photo by Josh Shannon of the Newark Post

We had a wonderful time and ended the day sharing wine with friends who had purchased the wine in Germany when they visited us. Wine from Cochem on the Moselle! That was a huge treat.

Tired and enjoying some wine after a long day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Very tired and enjoying some wine after a long day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

So, the BIG news is that Andreas and I settled on a rental property today. We bought a neighbor/ friend’s house to fix up and hopefully rent out. The property is across the street from ours and we will be extending our garden to include more vegetables and fruit trees as that yard receives more sun. We’ve been working on making this happen since March. I’m excited to start painting to make it a fun, cool place for someone to live in and an easy place for us to garden.

Big house for rent. Four bedrooms and three full baths.
Big house for rent. Four bedrooms and three full baths. Say goodbye to the lawn, garden beds are coming.

The kitchen is a little outdated looking, but it's in excellent condition. That goes for the rest of the house right now too.
The kitchen is a little outdated looking, but it’s in excellent condition. That goes for the rest of the house right now too.

The back of the house.
The back of the house.

Now we hope life will slow down to a summer pace and the Coronavirus will disappear soon.

Time to read again. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Back to reading. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Art Gardening in Nottingham Forest

There is a dove with babies living in that Trumpet vine. She doesn't seem to mind us.
There is a dove with babies living in that Trumpet vine. She doesn’t seem to mind us.

Star date: May 29, 2020, week 11 ½ of quarantine from Covid 19. The Governor will lift quarantine restrictions next week, but it is for economic not health reasons. The numbers of infected and dying are still relatively high here so, we are staying home. We’ll continue quarantining until those numbers go down. We are not sad about staying home, rations are holding out and Christina brought toilet paper.

Our hero Christina braved Costco and brought TP. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our hero Christina braved Costco and brought TP. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Last week Andreas and I finished our classes. I got a 93% in my German 1 class and now I wish I had taken it for credit. Ha ha. It was a lot of information to learn in a few months and I was getting pretty confused with different sentence structures in the end. I signed up for the next level class in the fall so I better figure out what I mixed up over the summer. We don’t know yet if the University will hold classes online or in person in September. We’re guessing that they will try to do both.

The sidewalk repair and heavy machinery driving by finished at the same time class did. They are working on a different street now, but they must like us because they’ve left their equipment, rock pile and potty on the side of our house. The rock pile is a huge attraction to the smaller, louder neighborhood children.

Thanks City of Newark for the new water pipe and sidewalk. These guys did a great job.
Thanks City of Newark for the new water pipe and sidewalk. These guys did a great job.

Since the weather warmed the garden grows and blooms. It started with the camellias, azaleas and Celandine poppies.

Andreas' favorite Fire Azaleas. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ favorite Fire Azaleas. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Iris. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Iris. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Peony. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Peony. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Now we are seeing irises, roses, peonies and Mountain Laurel. The Newark Arts Alliance Garden Tour is on for June 13th. Who knows what will be blooming then?

Iris. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Iris. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Graham Thomas rose. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Graham Thomas rose. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The gardener. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The gardener. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The vegetables we planted struggle. We really don’t have enough sun. Andreas’ poor tomatoes look sad and small, but they are still alive so we have hope. I can’t remember where I planted kale now. I don’t know if I’m seeing Kale or weeds. Sometimes I pick and eat it anyway. If you don’t hear from me after this post, you’ll know what happened. I just harvested some cherries and the blueberries and currants should be ready soon. The birds that we have been admiring will soon become our competitors for food. They will probably win.

Mountain Laurel. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Mountain Laurel. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We try to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. We re-stained the deck, have been eating outside and occasionally hosting a family member or friend for social distance coffee. Today, however was hot and humid and the mosquitoes have returned. If you are from here you know that they are our “state bird” and there are a lot of them.

Dinner on the deck. Andreas cooked. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Dinner on the deck. Andreas cooked. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

I’ve been painting. Nothing major, just fun stuff around the house. I painted a bird house, signs for the plants, the mailbox, a bee house for a friend, some cement mushrooms for the yard and have been working on paintings to show with the Trashy Women. Now that it’s warmer and sunnier I will be making mosaic stepping stones to sell at the Garden Tour and the Art Car needs its annual paint refresh.

Wren house and photo by Dragonfly
Wren house and photo by Dragonfly

A rose by any other name is still a rose. Sign and Photo by Dragonfly
A rose by any other name is still a rose. Sign and Photo by Dragonfly

Mason Bee house and photo by Dragonfly
Mason Bee house and photo by Dragonfly

Snail mail with flair. By Dragonfly Leathrum
Snail mail with flair. By Dragonfly Leathrum

Is it poisonous? Yes! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Is it poisonous? Yes! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Andreas is in research proposal and paper writing mode in his office. He sent something off to NASA last night.

We hope you all are well, keeping busy, wearing your masks and staying safe.

Yeah, probably not coffee in that mug. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Yeah, probably not coffee in that mug. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum