Happy Fall Equinox

Hi friends, let me catch you up on the second part of our summer on this first day of Autumn.

Andreas and I began the month of August celebrating the four-year anniversary of our first coffee date with more coffee. We had a fun time remembering how nervous we were to meet each other in person after connecting online.

Early August was a time of preparation. Andreas completed and submitted a grant proposal long in the works. Next, we prepared a party for grad students who are attending his classes. We had a nice bar-b-que outside on the deck serving salmon, sausages, potato salad and local corn on the cob. Andreas had to teach a few of the new foreign students how to eat corn this way. They enjoyed throwing the finished cobs into the garden to compost.

 The most important thing Andreas had to prepare for in August was his trip to western Greenland aboard a Danish Navy vessel. His job was to assist his friend Steffen in Copenhagen with data collecting and processing aboard the ship. He left in the middle of the month for a five-week long voyage from Aasiaat to Thule Greenland.

While Andreas prepared for his trip, I prepared the house and our guest room for our nephews from Oregon to visit at the end of the month. They arrived with a long list of ideas of what they would like to do in Newark. We accomplished some things, as much as we (I) felt like during a hot, humid week. Unfortunately Andreas was at sea because they enjoy many of the same activities he does.

College nephew waking up with his cup of tea at 11:30am.

We visited local relatives who haven’t seen the boys in a long time, went swimming almost every day, and did a survey on the best playgrounds in the city; Downs School won.

Ritter Park.
On the playground at Downs School.

My friend Christina and her finance’ Scott super generously hosted us for dinner three times. The night nephews arrived Christina had a party with some of our high school friends. The boys played cornhole and got to talk with people their dad and I have known for years.

Another night she and Scott made spaghetti and we all watched an Indiana Jones movie. On the boy’s last day in Newark their aunt, uncle and cousin drove up from Baltimore and Christina hosted again. I am forever grateful as a person that doesn’t like to cook to have such amazing friends. My nephews are pretty good at cornhole now too after so much practice and good tips from Scott.

Since I don’t cook too much we also went to some fun restaurants. We visited the Miss Oxford Diner sitting at the counter and listening to the waitresses’ conversations with the locals. We drove past some Amish farms which the boys hadn’t seen before. We went to Jessop’s Tavern in old New Castle and walked around the Delaware river and historic buildings.

Delaware Tourists.

We also ate at Feby’s in Wilmington because nephews were told that seafood on the east coast is really good. They were brave about trying new things.

We were invited by our cousin Erin to hear her play with the University of Delaware marching band. The band gave a friends and family performance after their band camp week. Unfortunately, we were sitting far away from where Erin was on the field, but we got a few photos. After the band performance we had ice cream at the UD Dairy and then walked around the botanical gardens.

On the evening I had to work the boys walked to Main St. by themselves to have dinner during the city’s alfresco night. They gave themselves a campus tour, ate more UD ice cream then landed on the porch at Klondike Kates Restaurant for dinner. They took their time walking home arriving after dark which made Auntie-Fly a little nervous. It was the first time they had ever dined out on their own together, kind of cool. In a very unteenage fashion they left their room and bathroom as clean as they found it. Their bed was made and they sent me a thank you card. Their mother should be proud.

A few days after the boys flew home, I received a message from Andreas saying that his Navy vessel was unexpectedly called into service. He and the other scientists onboard were told to go home and he was dropped off at the Thule US Air Force Base on the north western coast of Greenland. Luckily, he was able to secure a military flight to Baltimore soon after and then, surprise he returned home two weeks early. This is great news for me, but I feel sorry for the scientists and their mission. That is a lot of money and time lost. Here are a few of Andreas’ photos from his trip. The man standing on the ship is Andreas’ colleague Steffen.

Through August and September in the studio I have been working on my yearly commissions for Special Olympics Delaware and a few smaller side commissions and skateboards.

I am also working on a large painting commission, but the level of complexity involved has made for very very slow progress (sorry customer/ friends). A University of Delaware art student contacted me asking about a paid internship and I hired her two weeks ago.

Dragonfly Art Studios new intern Natalie from Milton, DE

Natalie has been preparing painting surfaces and cleaning stained glass for me. We talk about being an artist and the business of art. It’s interesting for me to hear how the art department has changed at my alma mater during the past twenty-nine years. It’s wonderful having her work here. It forces me to spend a little extra time in the studio and she is helping me catch up on some projects I’ve been putting off.

Play with your food.

In garden news the tomatoes keep coming and coming. Everyday we pick at least one. We had a good crop of carrots and recently we have planted a fall crop of radishes, leeks and something else. I can’t remember the third thing so we are referring to that as the winter surprise.

Just some of my friends I caught up with this month. There are more, but I have photos of these guys. That is Christina with the beautiful purple cocktail.

I will end this blog by mentioning as of fifteen minutes ago Andreas and I have rented our guest room to a visiting professor from France. He needed a place and we had one. So now Julien lives in our house this year. He seems very nice.

Survivalists

Andreas mentioned at lunch today that my friends, more than his friends, have a better chance of surviving an apocalypse. I know farmers, knitters, potters, clothing makers, foragers, natural healers, chefs, beekeepers, gardeners, carpenters, mechanics etc. and most of them know each other. He said that his professor friends might not survive as long. He mentioned a possible egg shortage that he heard about on the news, I said don’t worry about eggs, I have that covered, I know people.

I like to collect books like this. Just curious, not crazy. (yet, ha ha)
I like to collect books like this. Just curious, not crazy. (yet, ha ha)

Then he started to doubt his own survival skills. I reminded him that he is a trained paramedic, he has completed survival classes for the Arctic. If we have another Ice Age or become northern Canadian refugees, he has been trained to protect us from polar bears, and can escape from a helicopter that has crash landed into the ocean. I hope he never has to use those skills.

One of Andreas' training manuals sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
One of Andreas’ training manuals sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Lately I’ve tried to interest him in growing more vegetables in the yard and why it’s important to be self-sufficient. Honestly though, it takes a village. Without our friends with the above-mentioned skills our vegetable plots and limited skill set wouldn’t be enough.

Andreas' tomato seedlings. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ tomato seedlings. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We're also trying to re-grow vegetables from clippings. This is a little celery re-starting. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
We’re also trying to re-grow vegetables from clippings. This is a little celery re-starting. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Building a community of people with useful skill sets who are willing to share, collaborate and barter (as long as they stay 6ft away from you) is the best chance for survival and happiness. If you don’t have a useful skill now is a good time to learn one. It doesn’t have to be something major. A neighbor gave us a bag with two amazing chocolate chip oatmeal cookies last week. When you’re rationing snacks that’s a big treat.

Luckily, most of us aren’t at a survivalist point in our collective experience, but as we’re self-quarantined in a pandemic it’s something to think about. How can you feel useful to others?

Cree

Never Have I Ever

As my year in Bremerhaven Germany comes to an end, I want to remember some unusual experiences.

Never have I ever lived three blocks from chimpanzees.

My neighbor from the Zoo Am Meer in Bremerhaven. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
My neighbor from the Zoo Am Meer in Bremerhaven. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Also, the rest of the zoo, but the chimpanzees have a lookout area above the zoo fence so I see them most days hanging out looking at the human zoo that is Bremerhaven.

Never have I ever lived somewhere that didn’t have air conditioning in the summer or screens on the windows. Oh my God, y’all, so happy there are not a lot of mosquitoes.

In Lubeck during one of 2018's heatwaves. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
In Lubeck during one of 2018’s heatwaves. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

Never have I ever had my haircut by people who didn’t speak my language.

A nice haircut, but not what I was expecting. Ha ha. Selfie by Dragonfly Leathrum
A nice haircut, but not what I was expecting. Ha ha. Selfie by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever seen artwork from my favorite artist Hundertwasser in person.

Being in the spaces Hundert Wasser created and touching the walls instead of looking at photos in a book was an incredible experience. Vienna Austria. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Being in the spaces Hundertwasser created and touching the walls instead of looking at photos in a book was an incredible experience. Vienna Austria. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever eaten smoked eel. It looks horrible, but is actually very good. I’ve also never eaten so many potatoes in my life. Andreas likes to cook and his repertoire is slightly limited.

Christmas food shopping from the farmers and fish market for visiting family. The eel is the black object in the fish box. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Christmas food shopping from the farmer’s and fish markets for visiting family. The eel is the black object in the fish box. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever eaten peanut butter flavored Cheetos. Yum, addicted to them. I was introduced in the bar on the research ship which brings me to..

Why do I like these? I really don't know.
Why do I like these? I really don’t know.

Never have I ever seen snow on Labor Day, an iceberg or a glacier. Also,

Never have I ever spent four weeks living on the ocean.

In the Arctic Sea aboard the FS Maria S. Merian. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
In the Arctic Sea aboard the FS Maria S. Merian. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever consumed so much Pilsner and Riesling. Not in copious amounts, it’s the only type of beer and wine Andreas likes to buy here.

It doesn't get more local that looking at the vineyard through the wine glass. Lunch in front of St. Joseph's Church in Beilstein on the Moselle River. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
It doesn’t get more local that looking at the vineyard through the wine glass. Lunch in front of St. Joseph’s Church in Beilstein on the Moselle River. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever had this much time to focus on my artwork. I’ve had a few months here and there in my life when I’ve attended workshops or been between jobs, but never a whole year to slow down and focus.

My little studio desk with the portable art supplies. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
My little studio desk with the portable art supplies. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever exhibited my paintings abroad! Wow, that was cool.

Watercolor and colored pencil works ready to go to the gallery. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Watercolor and colored pencil works ready to go to the gallery. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever eaten gooseberry (Stachelbeere) or rhubarb (Rhabarber) pancakes.

Andreas cooks pancakes every Sunday. This is his first rhubarb pancake. Yum! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas cooks pancakes every Sunday. This is his first rhubarb pancake. Yum! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever traveled by train so much or been without a car for so long.

Almost home after a long trip by train. Our adventures with German rail have been frustrating at times but I appreciate being able to travel almost anywhere without a car. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Almost home after a long trip by train. Our adventures with German rail have been frustrating at times, but I appreciate being able to travel almost anywhere without a car. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Never have I ever had a “destination wedding” back to my house.

Home in the states for a week to get married. Andreas calculated that we need to plant approximately 50 trees to offset our carbon footprint from that trip. Photo by Glenn Davies
Home in the states for a week to get married. Andreas calculated that we need to plant approximately 50 trees to offset our carbon footprint from that trip. Photo by Glenn Davies

Never have I ever spent hours in an immigration visa office. Thank God Andreas can speak German. I feel really bad for all of the others there who didn’t have a native speaker with them.

Not a bad neighborhood to live in. Bremerhaven, Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Not a bad neighborhood to live in. Bremerhaven, Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

All in all, a wonderful experience. I accomplished most of the goals I set for myself and I think Andreas did too. We’re looking forward to visiting again soon.

I think we checked off most of the steps in the book.
I think we checked off most of the steps in the book.

Arctic Sea in Color

A photo essay about the color variants I perceived on the Arctic Sea and from within the Scoresby Sound, Greenland.

August 30th 2018 4:23pm North of Iceland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
August 30th 2018, 4:23pm, north of Iceland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

My job for five weeks between August 10, 2018 and September 12, 2018 aboard the research vessel FS Maria S. Merian was to document the scientists at work and the landscape through photography, blogs and paintings. During the cruise I was drawn daily to the color of the sea in different locations and through various weather events. The color varied from gray to deep blue on the open sea to almost a turquoise farther in the Scoresby Sound.

My scientist husband, whom I sailed with, chose to collaborate on this post by creating a wonderful map representing the locations of the photos.

Location of photos (red dots) taken aboard FS Maria S. Merian in August and September of 2018. Colors represent bottom depth (white shallow, blue deep) and elevations (olive). The dotted line to the north of Greenland is the Arctic Circle. [Map by Andreas Muenchow.]
Location of photos (red dots) taken aboard FS Maria S. Merian in August and September of 2018. Colors represent bottom depth (white is shallow, blue is deep ocean) and elevations (olive). The dotted line to the north of Iceland is the Arctic Circle. [Map by Andreas Muenchow.]

August 21, 2018, 12:28pm, Scoresby Sound Greenland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
August 21, 2018, 12:28pm, Scoresby Sound Greenland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

August 22, 2018, 8:50pm Scoresby Sound Greenland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
August 22, 2018, 8:50pm Scoresby Sound Greenland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Aug 12, 2018 3:52pm, Denmark Strait with Mubashshir Ali in red. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Aug 12, 2018 3:52pm, Denmark Strait with Mubashshir Ali in red. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

August 21, 4:54pm, Scoresby Sound Greenland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
August 21, 4:54pm, Scoresby Sound Greenland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

August 21, 2018, 5:06pm Scoresby Sound Greenland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
August 21, 2018, 5:06pm Scoresby Sound Greenland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

August 21, 2018, 4:42pm, Scoresby Sound Greenland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
August 21, 2018, 4:42pm, Scoresby Sound Greenland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Aug 28, 2018, 2:19pm South of Iceland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Aug 28, 2018, 2:19pm South of Iceland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Aug 22, 2018, 2:39pm, Scoresby Sound Greenland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Aug 22, 2018, 2:39pm, Scoresby Sound Greenland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Aug 31, 2018, 5:08pm, between 70 and 74 degrees latitude on the coastal shelf of Greenland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Aug 31, 2018, 5:08pm, between 70 and 74 degrees latitude on the coastal shelf of Greenland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

August 25, 2018, 3:15pm, Denmark Strait. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
August 25, 2018, 3:15pm, Denmark Strait. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Aug 22, 2018, 2:57pm, Scoresby Sound Greenland aboard the FS Maria S. Merian. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Aug 22, 2018, 2:57pm, Scoresby Sound Greenland aboard the FS Maria S. Merian. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Aug 21, 2018, 4:45pm, Scoresby Sound Greenland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Aug 21, 2018, 4:45pm, Scoresby Sound Greenland. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

September 7, 2:26pm, Fram Strait. Photo by Dragonfly Leathum
September 7, 2:26pm, Fram Strait. Photo by Dragonfly Leathum

August 21, 8:38pm, Scoresby Sound Greenland. Portait of the author aboard the FS Maria S. Merian by Dr. Andreas Muenchow
August 21, 8:38pm, Scoresby Sound Greenland. Portait of the author aboard the FS Maria S. Merian by Dr. Andreas Muenchow

For more about this research trip please read my earlier posts.

“You may find yourself in another part of the world.”

A lucky artist at sea

Rollin’ on the waves with my scientist homies

So much beauty in the world.

Mostly loving every minute of it.

Coldest Labor Day ever!

So much beauty in the world

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The R/V Maria S. Merian creates gentle waves on calm, sunny day in Scoresby Sound. Photo: Dragonfly Leathrum

Land ho. Greenland. We glimpse mountains that peek through low-lying fog with clouds above as the ship slowly approaches the coast. Scoresby Sound is one of the largest and longest fjord systems in the world. My telephoto lens is working overtime to focus closer on the snow and glacier covered peaks. Before entering the Sound, we took measurements at the mouth by way of moorings and CTD stations. Only then our journey into Scoresby Sound began. We determined how much warm water enters the Sound and how it travels to reach the melting glaciers that produce the many icebergs we saw.

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Greenland barely visible through the fog as we approach the mouth of the sound from the Demark Strait. Photo: Dragonfly Leathrum

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My favorite iceberg of the many I saw. I really like the bright blue ice intersecting the white. Photo: Dragonfly Leathrum

At first, we could see a few icebergs in the distance. I took photos of every one that passed. I would try to go back to my cabin to process photos and another even more interesting iceberg would appear just outside the porthole of my cabin. The mountains along the Sound appeared wild and unspoiled. Some peaks were covered by snow, some were not, some had waterfalls, others were dry. It is August after all, the height of summer with 20 hours of sunlight. My favorite feature, besides the distinct layers of sediment, were the many small and steep glaciers that had found their way to the Sound and the paths they create by carving the mountains. The passage of time is easily read here.

glacier

A tidewater glacier making its way around an obstacle shaping the landscape. Photo: Dragonfly Leathrum

I’m intrigued by the changing colors of the ocean from almost black to bright blue. The color morphs each day and even during the day as we change our location and clouds filter the light. About 200 miles into Scoresby Sound we entered into the Nordvest Fjord. One day the water was still, almost glassy. The ocean reflected mountains and icebergs alike which created an image of peace, tranquility, and awe. The next moment winds picked up, creating waves that smashed into icebergs. Another day the water looked a deep turquoise and later changed with the sun to a bright turquoise I have not seen before. Pictures taken this day look like we were in the Tropics instead of the Arctic.

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A bright day aboard the ship in the Nordvest Fjord with a turquoise sea. Photo: Dragonfly Leathrum

Despite the distracting, dramatic landscape serious work was to be done. Mapping the rugged seafloor, Ellen’s instrument revealed a new science to me. She discovered that many of the islands in front of us were in the wrong place on the maps we had. I learnt a new word, “bathymetry” for this science that Ellen Werner of the University of Munich explains in daily meetings. I always look forward to her segment and watch her slowly evolving maps with new discoveries. Also, in our nightly meetings the scientists give short talks about their current work at home, because not all students work on Greenland Oceanography. They even let me give a talk about my artwork. No graphs or charts in my power point, folks.

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Ellen Werner discusses newly mapped bottom topography near the Denmark Strait. We call the Sea Hill, Ellen’s Hill. Photo: Dragonfly Leathrum

My seasickness retreated and I feel more surefooted on the ship. I am conquering my fear of heights as I get more comfortable standing closer to the ship’s railings when taking photos. Calmer seas also allowed me to paint again:

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Watercolor and colored pencil of an iceberg in the Scoresby Sound. 24cm x 17 cm by Dragonfly Leathrum

 

Written by Dragonfly Leathrum 8/28/18