Fruits of Labor

May 4th, I laced up my sneakers, threw granola bars, underwear, a t-shirt, my vaccination card and a few masks in my purse and got on a bus for New York with my artist friend, Yolanda. Yolanda had a list of art shows and one Broadway show that she wanted to see and generously invited me to join her. We had two inspiring days in the city. The weather was great, the tulips were blooming and the subway turnstiles scan credit cards now. I visited two new venues for art, The Morgan Library and the Jewish Museum. We saw works by Holbein and David, found a white rabbit with amber eyes and ate delicious Vegan Thai food.

Besides this rare trip out of town Andreas and I have been homebodies. My German class finished at the beginning of the month with a junk food party.

The garden is growing and changing daily. Between work hours we are digging, weeding, harvesting and Andreas is cooking. May is the most colorful month in the garden. The azaleas start to bloom one by one until the entire yard is a rainbow.

Then, the peonies and irises come on. Right now, after some strong rain showers, the roses are dominating the landscape.

Farmer Andreas harvested his rhubarb as soon as they popped up and we had our favorite rhubarb pancakes.

First rhubarb pancake of 2022

Last year’s strawberry bed digging and planting labor is paying off by the bucket full. In one week, he has harvested 16lbs of berries. We tried strawberry pancakes, strawberry sauce for ice cream and strawberry jam. All successes so far! He’s adding cardamom and cinnamon to his recipes to make them more interesting. And yes, he is graphing the harvest.

Speaking of cardamon, Yolanda took me to an Indian grocery when we returned from New York and encouraged me to buy new spices. Andreas has slowly been incorporating them into new recipes. Yesterday he baked a cardamom cake with a crunchy butter/almond crust.

In the studio this month new work for the garden incorporating stained glass into found objects like bicycle wheels and bottle garden edging has appeared.

I’m teaching and filling commissions when not distracted by the weather and flowers. One of my largest artworks is for sale (has a buyer) this month; the Art Car that I’ve driven for seventeen years. It was a VERY DIFFICULT decision to finally let it go. I want someone else to enjoy it while it is still running well. Also, Andreas and I don’t drive much and maintaining two cars was silly. Preparations to paint our newer car in June are beginning. I’m really going to miss my Art Car, my reliable daily commuting companion for years, my moving business card.

We also enjoyed some family time with Andreas’ sister. We look forward to her popping in on the weekend for tea. She and I also went on a walk to my favorite art gallery along the Brandywine River.

Yesterday we congratulated my cousin Erin on her graduation from the University of Delaware. Joe Biden was her commencement speaker.

Congratulations, Erin and good luck in grad school for Oceanography.

Let’s Talk About the Weather.

Honestly, I have spent most of April looking forward to May. I love warm (not hot) weather when I can have the windows open day and night. April felt very cold this year, maybe because we’ve had freeze warnings the last three nights. One day cold, the next day warm, typical spring weather here I suppose.

Today, May first, I am writing with All of the windows open and also with a slight hangover. Last night we hosted a goodbye party for our French Professor housemate, Julien. It was a nice evening, warm enough to enjoy eating dinner on the deck with friends who have met Julien over the last eight months. Later when it became cooler, we talked and laughed together inside.

Julien is going back to France earlier than expected because he found out after his trip home for Christmas that he is soon to be the father of twins. As you can imagine he is excited to start planning this new adventure with his girlfriend. We will miss him very much as he has become part of our family. He is the quietest, cleanest, most considerate renter I have ever had. We will miss our dinners together and his occasional cooking.

Julien’s stuffed tomatoes! Yum!

Back to chilly April. On a cool, rainy, Saturday morning I volunteered with my Trashy Women friends Jamie and Maggie at the Newark Center for Creative Learning’s Green Fest event. Maggie signed us up to make robot characters using old cans, wire and found objects. The kids loved it. Jamie and I were a little overwhelmed. Trebs was also at Green Fest with her farm stand. After the event she, Maggie and Jamie came back to our house and Andreas cooked a lot of food to warm everyone up.

Making Tin Man Robots.

That evening I drove to Wilmington to watch our nephew, Sam Parsons, break a state record running a mile under four minutes at his former high school track. It was an exciting event. I was happy to hang out with my sister and brother-in- law and to see Sam.

The next week my artist/ musician friend Monika and I traveled by train from Wilmington to Washington DC to see artist/ musician Laurie Anderson’s show The Weather at the Hirshhorn Museum. Laurie Anderson is one of my favorite artists and it was wonderful to see, hear and read a show of her work.

We also saw other exhibits at the Hirshhorn and then walked over to the National Gallery for lunch and to see the collections there. It was a great day with perfect weather, I hope we are able to travel together again soon.

Gardens and gardening have been a big deal this month. I have been working with the Newark Garden Tour Committee to find new gardens for the 2022 Garden Tour. Andreas and I visited Whimsical Farms to pick up our tomato plants and we have been busy preparing our gardens for the growing season. Seeds and seedlings for the vegetable and flower plots were put in the ground while Andreas dug up new beds for his berry plants. We had an invasive Bradford Pear tree removed on the 19th and Andreas has used the branches to create new borders and a natural fence. The strawberries, rhubarb and cabbage are growing well so far and we are planning to plant sunflowers and tomatoes next weekend.

 A new painted mural in the living room covers up some boring beige walls. I wanted to add a darker color behind the artwork but have a light color on the rest of the wall and add some movement with a stripe. I’m happy with the way it turned out. I think it warms the room up a bit.

Last weekend was the last Cecil County Arts Council Wine and Dine event of the year. Maggie invited our Trashy Women Collective (and Andreas) to attend and we had a fun night at a restaurant in Elkton, Maryland showcasing a local book/ paper artist. These dinners have become the only time we go out. I will miss the events during the summer and look forward to them starting up again next year.

Last but not least a studio update. This month I have been working on glass commissions, a secret painting that I will reveal next month, a mural proposal that may or may not be accepted and my studio assistant Julia and I have begun making mosaic stepping stones. Hopefully this first week of May brings weather warm enough to work with cement and grout. Ha ha, no guarantees.

Photos by Dragonfly Leathrum, Monika Bullette, Maggie Creshkoff and Terry Foreman.

Sunflowers and Peace Signs

Sunflowers and peace signs, that’s my month summed up. After Russia invaded the Ukraine, I was very upset and needed to channel my attention and emotions into something productive. I created a peace sign in blue and yellow stained glass for Andreas to try to cheer him up.

Stained glass peace signs by Dragonfly Leathrum

I posted the window on social media and a friend asked if I was going to make a sunflower. I took her suggestion and made one in the same blue and yellow glass, posted it online for a low price and decided that I would donate half of the cost of the window to the Red Cross.

A month later and I’ve made 20 sunflowers and 11 peace signs. That’s 763 pieces of glass that have been cut, ground, wrapped and soldered. My fingers are worn out. My studio assistant Julia has been running the pieces on the grinder when she’s here which has helped a lot. The windows have been mailed to Georgia, California and Pennsylvania. Thanks to my friends we have raised $700 for the Red Cross.

It has been an arty month besides all of the glass making. The Artist Collective Trashy Women that I belong to had an awesome showing at the Oxford Arts Alliance. It was a wonderful venue and I can’t remember a better attended show. Sales were high as well and we had a fun night. Below is a rare sighting of all the Trashy Women together.

In the middle of the month my painter friend Lisa Bartolozzi was in a group show with some of her college friends. My friend, artist Yolanda Chetwynd and I rode with Lisa and her husband to the Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts in New Jersey for the show Passages: 8 Women Painters. It was a great show and Lisa and her friend gave talks about their work. Afterwards we went out to lunch. It was a fun day away from the studio.

Lisa and Yolanda also invited me to join their weekly figure drawing group. I was able to attend my first session this week, had a wonderful time and really enjoyed the social interaction with other artists.

The Trashy Women met up again at the end of the month for another Cecil County Arts Council Wine and Dine event. This time we all had dinner in Chesapeake City, Maryland by the C&D Canal. I was the designated driver this month so the wine wasn’t as big of an event for me. I also forgot my phone, but I did capture a portrait of Trashy Artist, Trebs Thompson through a piece of optic glass using Andreas’ phone.

Trebs and Jamie at the wine and dine.

I have fewer students now which is good at the moment. They are having fun working on reference material of their choosing rather than meeting portfolio requirements.

My current assistant Julia and my former assistant, Natalie were in a show together for young artists ages seventeen through twenty-two at the Newark Arts Alliance. Natalie will also be showing at the University of Delaware this month in their undergraduate juried show.

My sister-in law, Christina was in the Newark half marathon and part of the route went past our house so I was able to cheer her on. We’ve only had one Kaffeeklatsch this month. Everyone is so busy. Hopefully we see more of each other in April.

Christina delivered a hand knitted shawl and hat from my mother-in-law Christa and fingerless gloves from my sister-in law Carina when she returned from her visit to Germany. I’ve been wearing them often to stay warm.

Photo by Christina Parsons

Spring is still struggling to arrive. We’ve seen freezing temperatures this week and snow. Today is 70 F with a storm on the way. The flowers are trying really hard to stay around. April showers, warmer gardening weather and blooming flowers are on the way.