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.
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.
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.
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……
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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 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.
Hello, November 1st let me tell you about October before this election in two days, before things get potentially weird. (weirder)
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
We would like to travel somewhere for a weekend or so but Covid numbers continue to climb.
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.
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.
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.
A few of Andreas’ tomato plants did well next to the driveway. Deer nibbled the plants next door.
The interior of our home is being relabeled in German to assist my struggling German language learning.
When I’m not studying, I have been working mostly in stained glass completing projects for clients.
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.
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.
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.
Andreas is still experimenting in the kitchen. He is becoming a better cook every week. I’m lucky that he enjoys cooking so much.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Life is good here. We hope you are doing well too. Please wear your mask.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now we hope life will slow down to a summer pace and the Coronavirus will disappear soon.
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.
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.
Since the weather warmed the garden grows and blooms. It started with the camellias, azaleas and Celandine poppies.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Week seven of quarantine. Andreas just sent his parents a depressing email (and probably graphs) commenting on how poorly our country was handling Covid19 compared with Germany. He asked that I write something uplifting to balance him out. He is still a little obsessed with monitoring the news and creating virus death graphs, but is beginning to focus more on his own research. It’s good that he’s teaching this semester.
Busy is modus operandi. If we stay busy with work, school and projects we don’t feel as isolated and the weeks go faster. The tough days, at least for me, are when one project is finished and another has yet to begin. Luckily, we have an ongoing project of taking care of the garden and tending to our new vegetable plants. As of April 23rd, the Newark Garden Tour is still scheduled for June 13th and we are preparing for that. It may be cancelled later, we don’t know.
Our garden is looking a little torn up at the front because the City came and installed a new water main under the sidewalk.
After they finished in front of our house, I heard the sound of rushing water. It was so loud that we could hear it at the top floor. We checked all of our pipes and the computer data of our water usage online. Everything was OK. I called the City and they didn’t believe us saying it was probably our problem. I called back a few days later and spoke to someone in the water department. She didn’t believe me, but sent people out. Those people didn’t believe me and came into the house to check the meter. No masks or gloves!! When they finally checked the connection at the sidewalk they said, oh, it’s us. Four days later, the water is still leaking, they sent a crew to fix it.
One workman asked the others, “Ok, which one of you were drinking when you installed this?” He asked the man digging in the hole how it was going. Not so good the man replied, Its wet down here.
We had a nice Easter with George and Christina. They distanced themselves from us on our deck and we shared cake and coffee with at least six feet between us at all times. We Zoomed with our German family using two laptops, a phone and a security web-cam to accommodate all levels of computer skills. Later Easter evening, we Zoomed with my mother’s side of the family while we ate dinner. That was probably the only time we’ve all been “together” in over a decade.
Some fun things have happened in the neighborhood. One day people created chalk drawings on their sidewalks and they have been placing teddy bears in their windows so the kids can have a “bear hunt.”
I’ve been sewing masks and clothes, working on a commission and most recently painted the fireplace.
We have also used Zoom to teach (Andreas) and take a class (me.)
We try to keep in touch with family and friends.
We are grateful to have access to technology like this, grateful to have work that we can do from home and very grateful that we are well and the majority of our family, friends and acquaintances are still well. We realize that even though we are all experiencing the same virus, quarantine “storm” that we’re all not in the same boat and that this experience is worse for some.
I think we are still happy to be home but are definitely looking forward to warmer, drier weather so we can work outside.
March 23, 2020, we’ve been in self-quarantine for thirteen days. It sounds like the beginning of a dystopian novel. It’s not, it’s just an unexpected beginning to a different way of doing things.
At the beginning of the month we had warnings that we should be a little more careful and cleaner around each other because of a new Corona virus called Corvid-19. In February I started to buy a few extra canned goods and other foods that keep well. I’m happy I purchased a pack of toilet paper then. I wish I had picked up a bigger pack. My sister-in-law and I met at Longwood Gardens for a walk and carefully avoided door handles and washed our hands. I was asked to present at Career Day at The College School at the University of Delaware and was careful not to touch anything and wash my hands.
Andreas’ sister Christina and husband George came over for dinner. I also traveled to New Jersey with the Trashy Women met to meet the Philadelphia group the Dumpster Diving Divas. Besides extra hand washing it was almost life as normal.
The video illustrates how to pronounce the letter u with an umlaut in German. Homeschooling.
The next week Andreas and I visited a friend who shared gooseberry plants with us, but I chose not to go to my welding class because it involved a small group of people.
I also canceled a trip to the Philadelphia Art Museum with friends. After my Monday German class, the University canceled classes and went to an early spring break saying they would be back in a week or two and prepared the professors to teach online. My friend Linda came to the house and we recovered the kitchen chairs which saved me money since they won’t need to be replaced now.
Week three and I cancelled all of my private students saying that we would probably be able to meet again by the end of the month. All other meetings and meet ups are cancelled. I am still walking with friends but we stay at least six feet away from each other. I wear gloves when I get the mail because the mail person does not, then the mail sits in a basket for a while before I open it. I thought a project would be good to keep my mind off of the news, so I painted an immersive mural in our bedroom. I completed the mural including an intense clean of the room in six days. It was wonderful to work without distractions.
Andreas works from home without his normal distractions as well.
Continuing with projects will be good for us. We have decided to plant vegetables in our few sunny garden patches. These are hard to find in our wooded yard so, some of the vegetables will go in pots. Andreas is enthralled with his tomato plants. He is babying the tiny sprouts moving them to different sunny spots in the house throughout the day and checking them often.
Today begins week four. We woke up early to be at the grocery store by 7am in the rain. I had hoped that it wouldn’t be crowded then. It was crowded, there were no disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer available for customers and half of the cashiers weren’t wearing gloves. We were. Andreas came shopping with me. It was very surreal. A lot of the shelves were empty, no one was talking, everyone was avoiding each other, some had masks and gloves. Most, mostly men, did not.
We are not unhappy to be quarantined. To me it is an easier isolation than I experienced living in Germany. I have my art studio and supplies. I have commissions that need to be filled and a German class to study for. Andreas has his work and his students to teach online. We are busy and healthy. Our family in Germany and the States are healthy too. We hope that everyone reading this is healthy and has work and hobbies to keep them busy. Our Governor is shutting down our state a little more strictly tomorrow until May 15th now. He has issued his fifth modification to his State of Emergency declaration ordering us to stay at home and closing all non-essential businesses. The University will not re-open to students until next fall and the visit from Andreas’ parents that we were looking forward to in May has been cancelled for now. We are incredibly grateful for electricity, the internet, you and each other.
What’s next? Stay home and stay safe all of you all over the world.
Rough start to February for this half century complainer. I chose to go back to my alma mater to take a German language class with my brother-in law George. My Deutsch class at the Saengerbund is fun, but not challenging. We haven’t covered much and we’ve been going over Christmas words for two months. I thought it would be fairly easy to sign up as a listener for a beginning class at the U of D. Ha ha, no, not easy. (maybe for me) I had a lot of problems with the UD website trying to figure out how to register for the class as a faculty spouse and not a student. Thirty years ago, I would go to the registrar’s office and they would help me figure it out. So, I decided to do this. I walked into the registrar building and no one was around. After a few minutes someone poked their head out of an office door and asked to help me. I told him what I needed and he looked at me with pity in his eyes and told me to sign in. I said where, on a computer? He pointed to the screens against the wall. His eyes once full of pity now rolled up into his head and he said yes in a slow, calm voice.
Ten minutes later (I was the only one sitting there) a woman came from another office and offered to help me. I told her I was having trouble registering and she said I needed to do it on the computer. I said yes, I know, but where and how? I asked her for a pen to write down the instructions she was giving me. She looked at me with surprise. “A pen?” she asked. Yes, I said, I need to write this down. There wasn’t a pen to be found in her office. Eventually she found one down the hall. Everything she told me was useless. George eventually figured out how to register and we signed up in time.
The class has been great. We love the teacher and the work and pace are challenging. I do feel old sitting across from my high school friend’s son and a lot of the videos are geared toward college kids. (Andreas says they’re “modern”) I got 100% on my first quiz!
The new car has me feeling old too. It has a slow start (must be a hybrid thing) and I find myself driving slow and careful like an old lady. I’ve been gradually learning all of the buttons and new gadgetry stuff with the computer. I still can’t get used to the keyless entry and start. I don’t like it. (She mumbles under her breath, humbug!)
AND ANOTHER THING, my stupid old teeth. I went to a new dentist this month. She’s Andreas’ dentist. (very young) Her office is modern. I caught myself using the word newfangled to the hygienist a few times. After all of my newfangled x-rays she informed me that I had seven cavities, needed two root canals and two crowns. WHAT! Do you have any idea how much that is going to cost!?, I asked her. She didn’t, but said that someone would eventually call me. Holy mackerel, I’m the kid with the good teeth who never gets a cavity. Doesn’t she know that?
Ok, enough boohooing about feeling old. Thanks for listening and yes, I hear some of you saying, “Just wait..hahaha.”
In January’s blog I mentioned that I was walking three miles a day with friends. Now I’m walking every other day with them and to class on the days in between. I love it, it’s great and I’ve lost a whole pound in two months. I know, impressive. Yay old people metabolism. Shoot me.
Andreas and I had a wonderful Valentine’s Day in our own weird way. Our tradition is to buy a painting we both like. This year it was a portrait by Linda Harris Reynolds. Somehow, with our opposite tastes in art, we chose this and we love it.
Spring, or at least spring flowers seem to be here early this year. Snowdrops and crocuses are blooming in February and maybe we’ve had more warm days than cold. We volunteered to participate in the Newark Arts Alliance Garden Tour in June and we are trying to prepare the garden ahead of time. I think it’s making Andreas nervous.
I began a welding class with the Trashy Women last week. So far, I really enjoy it. I thought it would be scary or difficult, but we have a great instructor.
I was also given the opportunity to speak to my friend Kathy’s fourth grade class about what it’s like to live on a research vessel in the Arctic. Her class of six nine-year-old boys was very interested in the ship and the icebergs. They had so many questions for me. I showed them my photos, videos from the German Icebreaker Polastern’s current project, and let them try on Andreas’ polar work suits. It was fun, and it must have gone well because I’ve been invited back for Career Day next week.
In the studio this month my attention has been on finishing a painting for a high school friend that I’ve been working on since September. It has been much more challenging than I anticipated, but It’s turning out well.
I’ll leave you with this photo of my little cousin Jason. He’s celebrating his 37th birthday today. I’m so old!! Happy birthday, Jason!