In the beginning of the summer I sold my Art Car after driving it for the past 17 years. Norissa, a performing arts high school student who I connected with through another friend on Facebook, is the new owner. As soon as she earns her driver’s license, she is going to have fun on the roads. I was very happy to find the right new owner for the car, but I was also sad watching it drive away. The art car has been part of my life and identity for so long.
Also in June we finally met our step-grandson who is three years old. Andreas’ son Daniel and daughter-in law spent some time at a Delaware beach where we, Andreas’ ex-wife Mary Ann and older son David were all able to meet and spend the day together. David spent some extra time with Andreas and I at our home before and after the beach to celebrate Father’s Day.
Our gardens began well. Andreas harvested 63lbs of strawberries in 4 weeks as well as some red currants and black currants. Our friend Mary let us pick her black currants. We dug some new beds adding butternut squash, pole beans, and sunflowers. The squirrels and birds keep eating the seeds. We are also having trouble with deer and rabbits. The deer eat the flowers before they bloom and trim 2nd year apple trees as well as mature butternut and potato plants.
A 65-year old Red Oak tree behind our rental house died and we had to hire a company to take down the tree. Andreas insisted on keeping ALL the wood and has been rolling the logs around and stacking piles for exercise and German order.
Expanding on the “German order,” we are very serious about our compost to create good new soil. Andreas has it all sorted and organized in 3-4 piles, because we receive roughly monthly deliveries of horse manure. My artist friend Donna delivers it as she keeps several horses, goats, and chickens at her home and farm. We trade her manure for a home cooked dinner by Andreas. Each manure delivery has its own pile and the oldest is added in small amounts to our kitchen scraps. There is also a pile for weeds and several for sticks. I am not sure how Andreas manages all this without, it appears, a data file and a graph.
In the studio I continue to combine stained glass and bicycle wheels to form sculptures. I local business owner commissioned one supplying his own bike wheel. I didn’t teach many classes this month because many of my students were traveling.
My assistant and I worked on mosaic stepping stones and repainting the shutters from my house. We plan to have the house painted in September and am excited to change the color.
During the evenings I worked on sketches for my new Art Car. (stay tuned for photos of the new car)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
My last blog ended with the cliff hanger, ”I hope my next blog will say I was worried about nothing and Lufthansa totally came through for us and that they flew us to Philadelphia.” Let’s continue from there, shall we?
After I wrote that blog post Andreas and I went out for a last dinner in Lübeck. We had a nice time even though we were anxious about traveling.
On the way back to our Airbnb we were passed on the street by a group of policemen in riot gear which is not a common sight. While we were commenting about that we heard chanting around the corner and found ourselves at the beginning of an anti-Covid restriction march. Andreas stayed to watch the march, I did not.
That night Andreas became very sick. We thought it was maybe food poisoning from dinner. He didn’t sleep all night and we needed to leave early the next morning for our trains to Copenhagen. He slept all day on the trains and was feeling terrible.
We arrived at the Copenhagen airport in the early evening and spoke in person with someone at the Lufthansa ticket counter. We discovered that no planes were flying from Frankfurt to the US on our day of departure, but we could go the day after. We said, we are here now, so what about tomorrow? We were able to do that, but it included a five-hour layover in Chicago to eventually arrive in Philadelphia.
It was good that we chose the next day, Wednesday, instead delaying until Friday because on Friday Philadelphia had a snowstorm. However, we didn’t think things through.
Our hotel was an hour from the airport, we needed another Covid test and our plane left at 6am the following morning. Also, Andreas was sick and feeling nauseous, weak and feverish. After finding and walking to and from our Covid test we were able to sleep around 9:30pm. We awoke at 3am to return by subway to the airport. Poor Andreas couldn’t eat and hadn’t eaten anything since our dinner the night before we left Lübeck. He slept every chance he had all the way home. Our travels from Lübeck to our home took 31 hours. Crazy, right? We were so happy and grateful to see our brother-in-law George when he picked us up in Philadelphia.
Our house has never been so appreciated. We also enjoyed the snowy weekend following to have an excuse to rest and recover.
We spent the beginning of February getting re-organized and back to work. I waited an extra two weeks before resuming my art classes because of the high Omicron numbers. It’s nice to have most of my students back now. I missed them.
I’m taking two classes this month. One is the continuing German class at the Saengerbund and the other is a photography class with my friend Ray. I want to learn how to use my digital camera. I’ve taken all of my photos over the last decade with my phone. That’s okay, but now I want to print and exhibit some of them and they can not print as large from the phone files. The Newark Arts Alliance has a show coming up featuring White Clay Creek State Park, so I have been shooting new photos there while enjoying the hikes and scenery. Ray is also showing me some editing tricks on the computer. It’s been an informative, fun class.
Before we traveled to Germany, I had begun a mural in our small bathroom of an arctic scene with icebergs. Now it is finished with the addition of Arctic animals.
I have also been creating new pieces for two Trashy Women shows. One for a Wine and Dine event in Maryland, and the other for a Gallery show that will open next month at the Oxford Arts Alliance in Oxford, PA. There was an extra challenge to incorporate donated musical instruments.
Now that people know we are home I am becoming booked again with commissions. I can’t wait to show you some of them soon.
As we excitedly wait for spring with its warm weather and flowers here, we are also saddened by the news from the Ukraine. Andreas has an acquaintance who is reporting from the front lines for the Washington Post (Whitney Shefte). He thinks much of her as a person who reports with integrity, empathy, and compassion. Andreas keeps up with the latest news reading the Washington Post, New York Times, Spiegel Online (German), and BBC while also watching news shows on the German Public TV channel ARD. Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people. We hope for peace.
All photos and artwork, except for Bobby Hanson’s Duchamp sculpture (I just painted it), by Dragonfly Leathrum
We are supposed to be in Copenhagen right now. Thanks to Lufthansa’s greed or mismanagement or Covid or who knows what, those plans were changed. Lufthansa has cancelled our flight home twice. Andreas has spent hours and days on the phone with his booking agent Orbitz. Each time he is directed to a new person in India who can’t do anything to help him. I think they’ve tried. One got as far as sending and receiving emails from Lufthansa only to conclude that he couldn’t help us. Trying to contact Lufthansa in any way has proven futile.
We knew our original flight home was cancelled before we left the US. We figured we would be able to re-schedule it. We were hopeful about being able to do this until about three weeks ago.
Originally we were supposed to spend our last three weeks in Copenhagen for Andreas’ work, but then Copenhagen’s Covid numbers sky rocketed. We thought okay, we don’t have a flight home let’s stay in Germany and travel near Frankfurt and fly out of there. We should be able to change our ticket since we were originally planning to change planes in Frankfurt. Nope, no can do.
So, we made our way back to Lübeck because it’s sort of between Copenhagen and Frankfurt, we’re comfortable here and we thought we would just be working anyway. We’ve camped out in the Airbnb we started our vacation with in mid-December. The only thing we can figure out to do about getting home is to show up in the Copenhagen airport when we were originally supposed to leave and see what they can do for us. That will happen in a couple of days.
Andreas and I have spent the last two weeks feeling stressed out, anxious and maybe a little depressed. I’m a nervous traveler during the best of times even when everything is running smoothly, so this situation is making me pretty upset. Neither one of us has been able to do much work and we’ve been getting on each other’s nerves a little bit.
One particularly cold day we left the island and walked to Andreas’ mother’s old neighborhood where she lived until she was a young teen. We took photos of the house at the address she gave us and the air raid bunker that she and her family hid in during the war. She has not seen these photos yet. I can’t say if things look as she remembered them. Still, it was interesting to experience the neighborhood even if it’s been 70 odd years since she lived there. Her family of six lived on one floor of this house. (edit: Christa says that the facade of the house has changed since she lived there and it looks very modern now.)
On a happier note, we were able to visit with Andreas’ parents again in Neustadt on a rare sunny day. We enjoyed a nice walk and lunch out. Christa and Andreas rode bikes to the local Birkenstock outlet so Andreas could replace his shoes. That was a good idea because the price was less than half of what he paid online for a pair two years ago.
Andreas’ mother came to Lübeck for a day by herself and we had a wonderful coffee with her childhood friend Sieglinde. Sieglinde’s apartment is at the bottom of the island on the edge of a park with street and lake views. Very cool to watch swans fly by the window at eye level while you drink coffee and eat fancy cookies on delicate china. It was so nice to relax there and enjoy her company.
I’ve been keeping busy exploring museums that Andreas is not interested in, and parts of the city that I haven’t seen yet while he tries to concentrate on his work or calls the airline.
This is the Museum of Nature and the environment. (Museum für Natur und Umwelt) It’s a cute little place with tired taxidermy. Some of the exhibits are very nice. There’s a great view of the Dom (Cathedral) through the windows and some live snakes and fish. I had the museum to myself.
Museum Holstentor This museum is part of the former city wall. The sides facing away from the city have more of a battlement purpose while the back is more ornate with more windows. It has an interesting collection of weapons, kitchen implements and torture devices. I really enjoyed the scale model of medieval Lübeck and the model ships. It’s a fun museum to discover as you are always going up and down spiral steps in the two towers. What’s not apparent from the photos is how much the towers are leaning . Building something that big and heavy on swampy ground in the 1400’s wasn’t a great idea.
When I was walking back from this museum I cut through the Rathaus square and heard Andreas call my name. (Yelling DRAGONFLY! definitely rattled the two homeless guys sitting next to him.) I just happened to chose that way to walk home and he just happened to be in that square reading on a bench in the sun, so of course we had to get some coffee and cake.
I’ve picked up a few books that I’ve been meaning to read. Cheery ones like The Handmaid’s Tale and Where The Crawdads Sing.. ha ha. I feel like I’ve been wasting time or not enjoying being here to the fullest, I’ve let the stress get to me too much.
Today Andreas is hiking along the Baltic while I have some quiet time to paint. He returned home saying he walked 30,000 steps today and added a few photos below. He also went to Neustadt and surprised his parents with some cake. He and his mom went out for a beer while his dad watched his Sunday TV program.
I hope that in my next blog I will say I was worried about nothing and Lufthansa totally came through for us, that they flew us to Philadelphia and not Newark, NJ and I’m back home. I hope.
Have any of you experienced travel problems like this with Lufthansa lately?
After much discussion and weighing Covid odds and restrictions, Andreas and I chose to travel. We wrapped up our Delaware commitments, packed our backpacks, masked up and flew out.
We arrived in Lübeck after a long, but fairly easy trip and went to our favorite pub for dinner. Andreas ordered “Sauerfleisch” (cold pork in sweet-sour jelly) that he can not find where we live. I ordered what I thought was a veggie burger that ended up being ewes’ cheese on bread. It was really nice to be back in Germany specifically in this town and at Christmas time.
We tried a new Airbnb on the other end of the island because our favorite was booked and this new one had a washer. It was a good choice.
The apartment had everything we needed including a fully stocked kitchen with teas, oil, sugar etc. left over from former tenants and or supplied by the owner. We found it really easy to cook a lot of our meals. Andreas was able to take advantage of the farmer’s market to stock up on his favorite fishes and cheese. Nice to feel like we were saving some money starting out.
Thankfully, we did not have any Christmas shopping to do and could spend our time walking around the city choosing less crowed coffee houses, shops and museums.
The Christmas markets were busy and you had to show an ID and vaccination status to be allowed in. The police were also monitoring the shoppers on the main streets to make sure everyone is masked. We feel that this is why the Covid cases are lower in this state than any other of the 15 states in Germany. Restaurants and shops are also checking vaccine status and identification before you can enter. It has not been an inconvenience but, the mask wearing outside is tedious for me, because my glasses fog up so much. Half the time I ca not see where I’m going and hold onto Andreas’ arm like a blind person while muttering, “Damnit, I can’t see shit.”
As soon as we settled into town, we took a day trip to visit Andreas’ parents in Neustadt. We had a nice coffee and dinner with them and invited them to Lübeck in the following days.
It is always fun to see Lübeck through Christa and Lothar’s eyes because they spent their formative years here. The stories are good and bad. Life was not easy here during and after WWII, but they still had some fun. We enjoyed one fancy dinner out at our favorite restaurant. Andreas ordered a mystery four course dinner that ended in a very cool dessert.
His parents were having so much fun in Lübeck that we found them an AirbBnB to stay the night and visit through the next day.
Two things have improved for me in regards to traveling over here. One, I have been walking a lot with my friends at home over the past two years and I am in much better shape to keep up with Andreas. Two, even though I am still terrible at it, I do understand more and can speak more German which makes life a little less frustrating.
November was all about the hustle. Andreas and I have set a December 14th deadline to wrap up all 2021 classes, commissions and social engagements because we hope to travel overseas again.
The deadline has been good for me to focus on my commission list and not let distractions slow my routine down. I’m still learning how to be a full-time artist and am trying to push myself everyday to focus on studio work and marketing. I have hired a new studio assistant; a former student of mine, Julia Robinson has joined Dragonfly Art Studios. I taught Julia private art lessons through her junior high and high school years. She has recently graduated college with a degree in Studio Art. Her focus at the moment is in fabric arts and crafts. She is a huge help keeping the studio organized and keeping up with some production processes.
I’m participating in four shows this winter. The first show is at the Havre de Grace, Maryland Maritime Museum. The show is called, Up to Here and it addresses the issue of climate change through art. The opening of the show on the 19th was well attended. Andreas and I drove down with our friend Maggie and went out to dinner after the show.
On the 24th, Julia and Andreas met me at Sinclair’s Café on Main St. in Newark at 7am to help hang my solo show of photographs. The photos are macro images of plants, flowers, ice and cicadas from our garden. The show is titled Nottingham Forest 2020. During our Covid self-quarantine time I focused my camera on our garden and created a new body of work. This show will be on view until February 2022.
The third show that I prepared work for this month is The BIG Little and Little Little Art Show at the Talleyville Frame Shoppe and Gallery in Wilmington, Delaware. This is a group show where artists submit work that is 6”x 6” square. This year we were also able to submit work that was under 4” square for the Little Little show. The exhibit will be up through the month of December.
The fourth show that I’m preparing for will open in March at the Oxford Arts Alliance in Oxford, Pennsylvania. This is a Trashy Women group show.
In addition to preparing work for shows I’ve been filling commissions for clients. I painted a birdhouse with the characters from the P.D. Eastman book, The Best Nest for a family in Connecticut, made five polar bear stained glass windows for Delaware Special Olympics’ Polar Bear Plunge event and finished a logo design in stained glass for a new client. I have three more commissions on the table that I’m trying to finish for our December 14th deadline.
The artist collective Trashy Women that I belong to met up at the Cecil County Arts Council’s Gala on the 5th. The theme and dress code for the evening was black and white. Of course, none of us got the message so, we were our colorful selves sticking out of the crowd as usual. It was a very fun night. We met up again on the 26th for Treb’s mother’s birthday at Whimsical Farm for a bonfire potluck. It was a cold night, but Andreas, Julien and I had a good time.
Andreas turned 60 on the 9th. His sister Christina made him a special German cake and she, George and Julien sang him a happy birthday. We had a party with his friends on the 13th. Andreas grilled meat from Treb’s farm and we had a big potluck dinner. It was the first time we had seen a lot of these friends since summer.
I missed his dinner on the 9th with family because my German teacher at the Saengerbund recruited me to create and lead a craft project for St. Martin’s Day. I created templates for paper lanterns that my classmates put together. We had to learn the lantern song and paraded around the Saengerbund bar with our finished lanterns. I spent two days preparing that project. A little silly, but worth it.
On the 22nd my cousin Tom and his family were in town to visit cousin Erin. We met for lunch at Homegrown Café and then returned to the house to see the studio. Pictured is cousin Skylar’s significant other Lane, whom I got to meet for the first time. He made friends with a monster pillow right away.
I spent Thanksgiving morning at Sherri’s house watching her cook and playing with her cats.
Sadly, on Thanksgiving afternoon our family dinner was cancelled because my aunt wasn’t feeling well so, Andreas cooked a German dinner for Julien and I. We were able to have an American Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday thanks to Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Dave. They generously invited Julien as well so he could enjoy the whole experience.
The beautiful fall leaves have now fallen from the trees. My friend Terri and I enjoyed them when they were at their peak on our walks. I would normally say the weather is getting cooler, but it’s 55 degrees today. I had the Chimney repaired and cleaned so Andreas could have a fires in the fireplace. Hopefully we can use it soon.
A month ago we thought that the Delta variant numbers were going down we planned our December trip. Lately we are questioning whether we should travel. Andreas, Christina and I recently consulted with their brother Burkhard about traveling in Germany.
Now there is a new variant and the world is gearing up for changes. I can’t predict what my next message to you will be about. Will you see photos of Germany or somewhere in the USA? Time will tell.
Let’s not end the blog with Covid, let’s end with a craft. On the last day of the month my friend’s Mary and Marijke came to my kitchen to create gingerbread houses for the Newark Arts Alliance Gingerbread Bash. Marijke created Santa emerging from a chimney with a Christmas tree and Mary and I built the three little pigs story in gingerbread, candy, pretzels and cereal. The big, bad wolf has blown down the straw house and is headed for the stick house. The terrified pigs are running to their brother’s strong brick house. The brother is not amused. Ha ha, see you next month.
It is a rare, gorgeous 73-degree July morning. I love having the windows open and the air conditioner off. Yesterday was my birthday. I spent most of the day finishing and uploading a grant proposal that is due in a couple of days and teaching. I also made time to swim and Andreas cooked a wonderful dinner to share with our friends.
We have enjoyed a good summer so far. The gardens have been prolific with fruits and vegetables. In some cases, producing much better than past years. Andreas is still perplexed that we were able to grow cabbage. The new variety of produce is stretching his recipe library and I think he enjoys the challenge. Of course, we are growing more than we can eat, which is no accident. We get a lot of joy sharing any extra.
We are more social now. We have attended art openings, parties, and dinners. On the 4th of July we hosted our first large party for our friend Mary, so she would not need to host her annual party at her house. She provided the guest list, we provided the house, drinks, and sockeye salmon to grill. Mary’s guests and mutual friends brought the rest of the food. It was a fun pot luck on a mild Sunday afternoon.
Our nephew Sam Parsons tried to qualify for the Olympics running for Germany. We were able to watch the race on two screens concurrently. The first was on the TV at my brother-in-law’s house in Diez, Germany that I connected to via Zoom while the second was Andreas’ laptop in Newark, U.S.A. Complicated, right? Technology is amazing. Andreas figured out how to access the German network on his computer so we had a better view.
As an early birthday present to myself, my friend Linda and I took a train to New York City for three days. We stayed in an Art Deco style hotel in Greenwich Village, dined at vegan restaurants she wanted to try, walked all over the hot and humid streets of Manhattan, and went to museums. We had two fun, relaxing evenings. The first evening we drank at the hotel bar and shared some appetizers. We were the only patrons in the bar and restaurant. On the second we went to a bar called Wilfie and Nell recommended by my niece Molly. Wilfie and Nell seemed to be favored by twenty/ thirty year olds as a date destination bar. We were surrounded by well dressed couples on their best behavior sharing sweet stories. Oh, and the fries were really good. We recommend.
Linda and I saw the Alice Neel show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art before we walked through the Calder show at the MoMa. In between we somehow found time to lunch on vegan sushi. The Alice Neel show was my main incentive for traveling to the city. We entered the gallery by snaking through other galleries in a crowded line. Despite the wait, I was inspired to be in the same space with so many of Neel’s paintings. It’s an improved experience over flipping through reproductions in a book. The Calder works were wonderful in person and I enjoyed seeing his sketches. Linda commented that he must have very strong hands. Most likely he did working in metal.
Below are some works by Neel, Calder and many other artist that inspired me that day.
I thought the vegan restaurants Linda researched were imaginative and the food was very well made. Some highlights for me were vegan mac and cheese, Thai food (noodles!), sushi and the peanut butter brownie honeycomb vegan ice cream she found. I will be dreaming about that ice cream. Linda is a well known vegan chef; she made some cute videos of our restaurant experiences. You can see them on Facebook at Ester’s Kitchen and on Instagram @esters_kitchen_ek. She also describes the restaurants and menus more eloquently than I will here.
Linda and I felt surprised and mildly annoyed that a lot of businesses don’t accept cash, and menus can only be read on QR codes. That feeling may be us showing our age. We were happy to encounter masks wearing and outdoor dining options across the city. The new to me bike lanes are wonderful, but like in Amsterdam, you have to watch out for the electric bikes.
As with every other season, work consumes most of our time. Andreas is editing and re-writing a paper with colleagues, writing a proposal and preparing to teach three courses in the fall. He is also on the hunt for lantern flies in the garden killing as many of the invasive buggers as he can. I am teaching, working on commissions and in my free time painting new works for upcoming Trashy Women shows. Recently I was given musical instruments to upcycle into art. So far, I have transformed a violin from it’s original brown state to a disgruntled portrait ha ha. Yesterday I picked up some lovely pieces of rusted metal from an artist’s home in Maryland to re-imagine into who knows what. Having a great summer. Hope you are too.
I just did something I never thought I’d do and never wanted to do. I drove to Oregon and back. To some of you this might sound like a fun trip, but it was never on my bucket list.
My brother called us after New Year’s to say that after the tumor was evaluated from his brain surgery in December his doctor recommended radiation and chemotherapy. My sister-in-law and nephew were scheduled to have a vacation in March. My brother didn’t want them to miss their trip, but he was concerned that navigating the last weeks of radiation therapy might be challenging by himself. He asked if we would come to Oregon. Yes, of course we would, but there is a pandemic and his immune system is compromised. Flying didn’t seem like a good idea so, Andreas and I decided that the safest way across the country Covid wise was to drive.
Andreas thought a drive across the country would be really fun and dove right into planning. He had maps and books open the day we said yes. He chose the route, booked the hotels and planned the food we would take in our cooler. We ate what we brought with us only getting take-out twice.
We bought a new hybrid car before the pandemic and put so few miles on it that we were still getting used to driving it during our trip. It was really nice to have a vehicle we didn’t have to worry about that also got decent gas mileage. Andreas and I have very different driving styles and the first few days were challenging. I scared him, he terrified me, but we didn’t die or wreck the car. The new car also had some new to us safety features which were super helpful.
We chose rt. 80 because it seemed the most snow free in the middle of March. It wasn’t quite; we drove through a few snow storms, but none too serious. Just enough snow and rain to add to driving stress. I admit, the scenery was beautiful in the snow. On the first night we met my cousins in Mishawaka Indiana. A few of them I had only seen on Facebook. Even though we were all masked and keeping our distance we had a nice visit. I hope to have another opportunity to visit them after the pandemic.
On the second day we drove through Des Moines, Iowa. A stained glass artist I admire from Philadelphia had a showing at the Des Moines Art Center. It was a wonderful show and the Art Center turned out to be much more than we expected. Since we were able to visit in the middle of a weekday, we didn’t have to worry about bumping into other people.
Here are some photos from the east to west part of the drive. Click on the photos to see them full size.
My brother was in good spirits when we arrived in Oregon and we were able to spend some time with my sister-in law and nephew before they left on their trip. We worked or went to school on separate computers throughout the house during the weekdays. On the weekend Andreas and nephew hiked and geocached in the Oregon forests. My brother, Andreas, and nephew played cards at night and my sister-in-law and I knitted, fed the pet rats Cheerios and grapes and caught up on things. We also watched movies as brother has a TV. The photo below shows my brother’s latest paint by number masterpiece in front of his little gallery.
My brother and I drove to Seal Rock beach on the Pacific coast during a rainy, windy Wednesday for a change of scenery and some fresh air. The weather was so cold we didn’t stay long.
His west coast town has lower Covid numbers than ours on the east coast and everyone but the college students seem to be pretty careful. We felt that we could venture out and shop a little bit. I met a former art student who I haven’t seen in fifteen years for dinner. She recently moved to Oregon from Alaska. We were able to eat safely outside and had a nice evening catching up. I also visited my parents a few times masked up sitting in their garage or driveway. That was strange, but it was nice to see them after a few years.
The week my nephew and sister-in-law traveled to visit nephew’s older brother at college, Andreas was a guest in our German friend Stefanie’s eighth grade English classroom in Bonn via a Zoom like program. Andreas was featured as a German immigrant to America and the students could ask him any question they liked. Even though the class was voluntary and met in the evening German time, most of the class showed up and they spoke for over an hour. I know Andreas had fun and I think the kids did too.
The photos below show nephews in California during spring break, Andreas speaking with the German students over the computer, the hospital where my brother had his daily radiation treatments, the radiation mask gallery and my brother waiting for train bringing my sister-in-law and nephew home.
Our weeks together went quickly and soon it was time to pack up the car and drive home. We changed route on the first day to avoid snow in the Cascade Mountains and ended up driving through some snow anyway. We weren’t quite as worried about Covid since we didn’t need to protect my brother any longer. We did notice on the way home, however, that fewer people were wearing masks.
Andreas booked a hotel that was established in 1911 in Cheyenne, Wyoming on our second night. A sign near the mirrored elevator stated that in the old days, cowboys would try to sneak their horses into their rooms by using the elevators to save money. We believed it. What we didn’t know until I wrote this and looked up the hotel is that it’s haunted. Which floor is haunted? the one we stayed on, of course. The room was tiny and the heater too loud to use. Andreas made the night better by picking up take-out so we had a warm meal. Cheyenne is an interesting town with not many masks in sight. The hotel, charming in some respects with stained glass and some interesting artwork was too serious about cowboys and Indians memorabilia.
We noticed that a storm front was coming in near the east coast and changed routes for the more southern rt. 70. The change of course gave us new views and we were able to avoid Chicago and travel through some different cities like Indianapolis and Columbus.
Even though we enjoyed watching spring progress through the car windows, after five days driving, home was a welcome sight. We were so happy to be back we couldn’t stop smiling through the first evening.
Now I can say I have driven across the US and back. I don’t need to do it again. It looks pretty from an airplane too.
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. 🙂