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.

Transit, Transitions and Transformations

 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.

Bamboozled again! That is not a plant, that is a cleverly disguised tiramisu!

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.

(We stayed at Pod Hotelhttps://cityhub.com/copenhagen/. Our room was the size of the bed. The was a communal living area, kitchen and bathroom. Perfect for the single 20yr old. We are neither.)

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.

Andreas in Chicago.

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.

Peace and Quiet

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.

Snowflakes from our garden

All photos and artwork, except for Bobby Hanson’s Duchamp sculpture (I just painted it), by Dragonfly Leathrum

Arts, Crafts and Covid

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.

Julia grinding glass for future windows.

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.

Birthday boy with his German cake.

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.

Louis and Martin hard at work on their craft project.
Laterne Laterne

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.

A traditional Thanksgiving dinner thanks to my aunt.

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.

Sibling Kaffeeklatsch

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.

Photos and artwork by Dragonfly Leathrum.

October

It’s November? I feel like I’ve somehow missed my favorite month spending most of October in the basement studio. The art studio is busy with students. My portfolio students only have a month left to finish and submit their portfolios and they are working hard. I have them coming for extra Saturday classes and working from home. Pretty impressive commitment for middle school kids.

While they draw, I wrap glass to be soldered together for Special Olympic polar bear windows. Most years these are created in January, but I hope to travel this winter. I also spent a little bit on marketing the studio and ordered Dragonfly Art Studios t-shirts. Message me if you would like one.

My friend Mary Anderson, a ceramicist, has generously hired my studio assistant Natalie for her studio. Natalie’s main interest is ceramics, so this is a perfect fit for her. Mary says that Natalie has her studio so clean and well organized it looks twice as big. I realized after having an assistant that this is something that helps my studio run better so, I’ll be looking for another one in the future.

Natalie and artist Mary Anderson in Mary’s studio.

An artist friend connected me with the Middletown chapter of the AAUW (American Association of University Women). They asked for a talk about myself and my artwork. I worked into the talk how the myth of the starving artist is continuing to hurt the careers of women artists. The talk went really well. It was fun showing them my work and drinking coffee from little teacups with saucers.

The Middletown, Delaware chapter of AAUW.
The Middletown, Delaware chapter of AAUW.

Andreas’ teaching in the classroom has changed our schedule patterns developed during the pandemic. He’s been at the office or teaching until 7pm most days. We only eat meals together on the weekends when he has time to cook and bake. I miss having dinner together every night. Our housemate Julian cooked a French meal for us one night, it was amazing. He seems to be settling into Newark and the U of D well. I try to include him into as many activities as possible, but we are all busy. He and I did carve pumpkins a few weekends ago. Halloween isn’t popular in France so this was his first time carving one.

The garden is still giving tomatoes, radishes and raspberries to cook with. Even now in the beginning of November we are still harvesting. Other fruits and veggies are purchased from the Newark Farmer’s Market and Calvert Farms. It’s great having friends who are farmers.

Early in the month Andreas and I were featured in our former local newspaper in Bremerhaven, Germany. The reporter found me through this blog and wrote to ask what home means to us. Both of us have moved quite a few times and that wasn’t an easy question to answer. After thinking it over Andreas and I realized we’re not very attached to a home. Although, we do really like Newark and love our friends here. Andreas is attached to the well-being of this garden and I’d prefer to be in my studio, but as long as he and I are together, we can live just about anywhere. Pretty cool to be able to stay connected with Bremerhaven like that. I was also featured in our city’s local paper for my artwork.

More social engagements are filling in the calendar. We are becoming more comfortable being around others. Early in the month my friend Sherri and I had lunch with some former work friends. I think it has been 18 years since we last saw each other. My sister-in-law Christina, a few of her friends and I went to a photographer’s art opening on a Friday night and she cooked homemade pizzas afterwards.

So, the best thing about October is Halloween, of course. This year I was invited to an artist friend’s house in Maryland on Mischief Night for a Halloween party. She has the coolest collection of spooky things I have ever seen. Her house was wonderful for fun photographs.

Halloween night Julien, Andreas and I handed out candy to our neighborhood trick-or-treaters. We’ve also eaten way too much candy ourselves. Andreas had candy for dinner last night. It’s bad ha ha.

November is beginning well, I want to say I’ll try to leave the studio more to enjoy the leaves changing, but I don’t think it will happen.

Strawberry begonias in our garden.

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.

Summer Recipe: add Gardens, Friends and Art

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.

A vegan breakfast shake with banana, basil, ginger and cacao.

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.

Written by Dragonfly Leathrum

photos by Dragonfly Leathrum

Walker Hotel photos by Linda

Del Pizzo

Gibby Annoucement photos by the Gibby Center.

The Merry Month of May

May was about being outside as much as possible. We appreciated every warm, sunny, mosquito-free day in our garden, in others gardens and on our deck.

My main project this month was acting as Chair of the Newark Arts Alliance Garden Tour. I did my best impression of a responsible adult to keep the event and the people on schedule and informed. I think the event went well. It was a very warm day, we had almost two hundred people tour six local gardens and everyone seemed to have a good time. Andreas and I led the garden hosts around to each other’s properties at the end of the day. Even though they were hot and exhausted, they were in good spirits and enjoyed sharing their garden knowledge.

Our own blooming garden has transitioned from tulips and azaleas to peonies and roses. The ferns and hostas are filling in the bare spots and the view is lush and green.

Our second garden across the street is growing well. We’ve harvested some radishes, the tomatoes, cabbages and peas are getting taller and the flowers are starting to bloom. Andreas has all of his strawberry plants in the ground now and I think we’re finished digging and removing sod until next year.

This spring the cicadas emerged after 17 years in the ground. They really like our area of town. We didn’t see any in the gardens on the Garden Tour, but they are everywhere here and singing loudly. I like them a lot, I think they’re fun to photograph and they provide a lot of food for birds and other creatures that eat insects. It is a little gross to go for a walk, though, because it’s impossible not to step on them.

Cicada song.

I was focusing on outdoor art projects this month before the mosquitos come. I’ve made eight stepping stones for clients, a few for us and painted a bird house for a Newark Arts Alliance fundraiser. I continue to take on more private students; some of the older ones have been vaccinated. My studio needed organizing and a good cleaning after having it to myself for a year. Andreas helped me build some extra shelving and it’s much nicer now.

My Bremerhaven portrait series moved from the café to my friend Thom Thompson’s photo studio. He’s already sold a painting.

Andreas had a busy month working on a paper, helping his graduate student prepare her thesis, gardening and working at another election. It’s also rhubarb season, so we’ve been enjoying that in pancakes every Saturday.

Now that we are fully vaccinated, we are slowly coming out of the house and enjoying the things we used to. We ate indoors at a restaurant for the first time. Andreas walked in, opened his arms and announced very loudly and happily, “I’m vaccinated!!” We are also having friends over occasionally and eating at the same table instead of distancing.

We have new neighbors across the street and a new neighbor hiding behind our trees eating Andreas’ favorite plants that he shoos away with his coffee cup. Ha Ha, all is well here.

All photos by Dragonfly Leathrum

Snow and Show and Tell

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

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

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

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

My view from the sofa. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Above: snow photos from our garden and local park.

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

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

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

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

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

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

October Inktober 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mosaic cement stepping stones. Mosaics and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

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

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

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

Andreas experimenting with new spices. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

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

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

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

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