New Normal

Summer is over, fall has begun. We have been so busy working on our individual interests that it hasn’t occurred to me that there is much to write about. Besides feeling work busy, we also spend time on other projects to avoid thinking too much about Covid 19 and the political mess in this confused country. Add the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg to the upset and maybe you can understand our need for extreme focus and new distractions.

Andreas worked the polls during the Primary election this month. You can read about his experience at icyseas.org
Late blooming rose. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
A perfect day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

As always, the garden keeps us busy and happy. It is always changing and beautiful. As we plan our new garden at the rental property, we are making sure we have plenty of composted soil here to move next door.

Andreas turning the compost pile. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Serious measuring and garden planning.

Preparing new vegetable and flower beds next door.

A few of Andreas’ tomato plants did well next to the driveway. Deer nibbled the plants next door.

Will they ever turn red?
The first tomato! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The proud farmer. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The interior of our home is being relabeled in German to assist my struggling German language learning.

Lunch
Online German class. So much homework!

When I’m not studying, I have been working mostly in stained glass completing projects for clients.

Stained glass window before solder. I’m making six of these. Each one will be a little different. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I also chose to bring back a few art students. I’ve been teaching outside with Covid precautions. It’s been going well. It’s very pleasant to teach outside. I’m not sure what I will do when the weather becomes colder.

Working on hand studies.
Practicing a still-life.

Even though Covid numbers in our City are not positive news we have chosen to go out a little more because we need a change in routine. We now go to a Café at 7am once a week for breakfast. We sit outside and during most visits we are the only customers.

Sinclair’s Cafe on Main St.

Andreas is allowed back to his University office and will work there a few days a week.

We were invited to a friend’s garden for a distanced dinner.

A few of our hosts. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Our friends Caryn and Gordon have a wonderful garden. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Dinner by candle light.
An artist’s garden.

Andreas is still experimenting in the kitchen. He is becoming a better cook every week. I’m lucky that he enjoys cooking so much.

Andreas trying a new recipe. Too many onions! We were both crying .
Saturday pancakes made from the eggs of the chickens featured above. Photo by Andreas Muenchow. Filter edits by me.

We are trying to embrace the new normal. Some days are better than others and there are no longer expectations for an all clear Covid-19 signal.

Keep on keepin’ on, y’all. Register to vote and wear that mask.

P.S. I’m trying out this new WordPress Block format so the blog might look a little funky.

Before and After

Before
Before

After a month and a half of painting and cleaning, the rental property we purchased is ready. I’m so TIRED!! I’m also feeling happy that I met my deadline, came in under budget and the house looks good.

After
After

Back of house
Back of house

The inside painting ended up being a little more complicated than I imagined. Most of the walls and ceiling are wallpapered under existing paint. That meant that all the walls needed to be primed before two coats of paint. The trim and windows also required a primer coat. I tape all of my edges when I paint, but soon learned that when I removed the tape it pulled off old paint and wallpaper. Then there were the walls with wallpaper that needed to be removed.

Before dining room.
Before dining room.

After dining room
After dining room

During painting the dining room. Do I look tired? I AM! The room was hand painted with a brush. Every color has two coats of paint.
During painting the dining room. Do I look tired? I AM! The room was hand painted with a brush. Every color has two coats of paint.

Before dining room
Before dining room

Dining room after
After dining room

It was a steep learning curve aided by the sage advice from Facebook friends who suffered before me. I hired a painter friend to come on the weekends to handle the more difficult spackling work, wallpaper removal, ladder work in the hall and some of the rooms. His professionalism, knowledge and tricks were invaluable. I learned a lot from him and he did a great job.

Before hallway
Before hallway

After hallway
After hallway

After hallway
After hallway

I invited the former owners over to see the changes I made and they liked them. They even changed the heater filter for me while they were there.

Before kitchen
Before kitchen

After kitchen
After kitchen

Andreas and I had concerns that finding renters would be difficult because the University has been uncertain about opening in the fall. I’m happy to report that we found three, none are students, I know their families and I’ve known all of them for over a decade. Today I collected leases and handed out keys. The first to spend the night is a pet rabbit named Benny. It felt really good to turn over the house to others and know that I can work in my studio again tomorrow.

Before and after basement stairs. Why would I want to change this? haha
Before and after basement stairs. Why would I want to change this? haha

While I’ve been working at the house Andreas was offered a summer research job with a colleague in Copenhagen. We are hoping to travel there this winter so they can also work in person, but the timing is unknown because of America’s handling or mis-handling of the pandemic.

Before yeast cake
Before yeast cake

After. Andreas has been baking every weekend.
After. Andreas has been baking every weekend.

We are still quarantining here, but not as strictly. I’ve expanded my shopping to include the hardware and paint store and once in a while we find ourselves social distancing with Christina and George in the house if the weather is too hot. The University decided to have classes online in the fall which makes me happy and Andreas sad. He was really looking forward to teaching an undergraduate class in person.

Before home haircut.
Before home haircut.

After home haircut.
After home haircut. Andreas won’t let me cut his hair lately. He’s trying to bring back the feathered mullet.

Daily gardening has stopped because of the heat and mosquitoes, but the tomato plants are still being well cared for. A few are as tall as me and are producing fruit. The smaller plants at the new property are doing well too.

The beginning of our future gardens. We need rain.
The beginning of our future vegetable garden. We need rain.

Yesterday was my birthday and we enjoyed a delicious socially-distanced dinner at Christina and George’s place. It’s strange to sit down to dinner, not across the table, but across the room from each other and to wear masks in passing.

My birthday cakes. on the left a rhubarb cake by Andreas. That's a German one. I'm not 57. On the right a cake by Christina. Both very delicious and German. Christina's cake was her mother's recipe.
My birthday cakes. On the left a rhubarb cake by Andreas. That’s a German one, I’m not 57. On the right a cake by Christina. Both very delicious and German. Christina’s cake was her mother’s recipe.

Distance dining. Fantastic dinner by Christina. Photo by Christina Parsons
Distance dining. Fantastic birthday dinner by Christina. Photo by Christina Parsons

Life is good here. We hope you are doing well too. Please wear your mask.

 

Growing Food Not Lawns. (Hopefully)

Andreas' Graham Thomas roses at sunset. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ Graham Thomas roses at sunset. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We have big news, but first, the Garden Tour. Andreas and I have been preparing for this event for months. We’ve been gardening, improving the outside appearance of the deck and house and creating artwork to place in the garden and to sell.

 Andreas and I recieved recognition from the Audubon Society for our natural habitats and attention to planting for the birds.
Andreas and I received recognition from the Audubon Society for our natural habitats and attention to planting for the birds.

Recently, I refreshed most of the paint on the Art Car and created 10 mosaic stepping stones to sell during the tour. They all sold. I even sold a few of the old stones from the ground that I made years ago.

Fresh paint on the Art Car. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Fresh paint on the Art Car. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Mosaics are like puzzles. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Mosaics are like puzzles. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Seven of the ten stepping stones created for the tour. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Seven of the ten stepping stones created for the tour. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The tour was a success. The Newark Arts Alliance sold a lot of tickets. We think we had over a hundred people walk through physically distancing themselves and wearing masks. Andreas and I distanced ourselves from others on the deck. The weather was perfect! Warm with low humidity. Even the mosquitoes weren’t too bad.

Andreas at Garden Tour speaking with visitors. Photo by Josh Shannon of the Newark Post
Andreas during the Garden Tour speaking with visitors. Photo by Josh Shannon of the Newark Post

We had a wonderful time and ended the day sharing wine with friends who had purchased the wine in Germany when they visited us. Wine from Cochem on the Moselle! That was a huge treat.

Tired and enjoying some wine after a long day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Very tired and enjoying some wine after a long day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

So, the BIG news is that Andreas and I settled on a rental property today. We bought a neighbor/ friend’s house to fix up and hopefully rent out. The property is across the street from ours and we will be extending our garden to include more vegetables and fruit trees as that yard receives more sun. We’ve been working on making this happen since March. I’m excited to start painting to make it a fun, cool place for someone to live in and an easy place for us to garden.

Big house for rent. Four bedrooms and three full baths.
Big house for rent. Four bedrooms and three full baths. Say goodbye to the lawn, garden beds are coming.

The kitchen is a little outdated looking, but it's in excellent condition. That goes for the rest of the house right now too.
The kitchen is a little outdated looking, but it’s in excellent condition. That goes for the rest of the house right now too.

The back of the house.
The back of the house.

Now we hope life will slow down to a summer pace and the Coronavirus will disappear soon.

Time to read again. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Back to reading. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Art Gardening in Nottingham Forest

There is a dove with babies living in that Trumpet vine. She doesn't seem to mind us.
There is a dove with babies living in that Trumpet vine. She doesn’t seem to mind us.

Star date: May 29, 2020, week 11 ½ of quarantine from Covid 19. The Governor will lift quarantine restrictions next week, but it is for economic not health reasons. The numbers of infected and dying are still relatively high here so, we are staying home. We’ll continue quarantining until those numbers go down. We are not sad about staying home, rations are holding out and Christina brought toilet paper.

Our hero Christina braved Costco and brought TP. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our hero Christina braved Costco and brought TP. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Last week Andreas and I finished our classes. I got a 93% in my German 1 class and now I wish I had taken it for credit. Ha ha. It was a lot of information to learn in a few months and I was getting pretty confused with different sentence structures in the end. I signed up for the next level class in the fall so I better figure out what I mixed up over the summer. We don’t know yet if the University will hold classes online or in person in September. We’re guessing that they will try to do both.

The sidewalk repair and heavy machinery driving by finished at the same time class did. They are working on a different street now, but they must like us because they’ve left their equipment, rock pile and potty on the side of our house. The rock pile is a huge attraction to the smaller, louder neighborhood children.

Thanks City of Newark for the new water pipe and sidewalk. These guys did a great job.
Thanks City of Newark for the new water pipe and sidewalk. These guys did a great job.

Since the weather warmed the garden grows and blooms. It started with the camellias, azaleas and Celandine poppies.

Andreas' favorite Fire Azaleas. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ favorite Fire Azaleas. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Iris. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Iris. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Peony. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Peony. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Now we are seeing irises, roses, peonies and Mountain Laurel. The Newark Arts Alliance Garden Tour is on for June 13th. Who knows what will be blooming then?

Iris. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Iris. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Graham Thomas rose. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Graham Thomas rose. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The gardener. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The gardener. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The vegetables we planted struggle. We really don’t have enough sun. Andreas’ poor tomatoes look sad and small, but they are still alive so we have hope. I can’t remember where I planted kale now. I don’t know if I’m seeing Kale or weeds. Sometimes I pick and eat it anyway. If you don’t hear from me after this post, you’ll know what happened. I just harvested some cherries and the blueberries and currants should be ready soon. The birds that we have been admiring will soon become our competitors for food. They will probably win.

Mountain Laurel. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Mountain Laurel. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We try to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. We re-stained the deck, have been eating outside and occasionally hosting a family member or friend for social distance coffee. Today, however was hot and humid and the mosquitoes have returned. If you are from here you know that they are our “state bird” and there are a lot of them.

Dinner on the deck. Andreas cooked. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Dinner on the deck. Andreas cooked. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

I’ve been painting. Nothing major, just fun stuff around the house. I painted a bird house, signs for the plants, the mailbox, a bee house for a friend, some cement mushrooms for the yard and have been working on paintings to show with the Trashy Women. Now that it’s warmer and sunnier I will be making mosaic stepping stones to sell at the Garden Tour and the Art Car needs its annual paint refresh.

Wren house and photo by Dragonfly
Wren house and photo by Dragonfly

A rose by any other name is still a rose. Sign and Photo by Dragonfly
A rose by any other name is still a rose. Sign and Photo by Dragonfly

Mason Bee house and photo by Dragonfly
Mason Bee house and photo by Dragonfly

Snail mail with flair. By Dragonfly Leathrum
Snail mail with flair. By Dragonfly Leathrum

Is it poisonous? Yes! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Is it poisonous? Yes! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Andreas is in research proposal and paper writing mode in his office. He sent something off to NASA last night.

We hope you all are well, keeping busy, wearing your masks and staying safe.

Yeah, probably not coffee in that mug. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Yeah, probably not coffee in that mug. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

 

 

 

 

2020 March Winds Bring More Than April Showers.

March 23, 2020, we’ve been in self-quarantine for thirteen days. It sounds like the beginning of a dystopian novel. It’s not, it’s just an unexpected beginning to a different way of doing things.

Seen on our walk at Longwood Gardens. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Seen on our walk at Longwood Gardens. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

At the beginning of the month we had warnings that we should be a little more careful and cleaner around each other because of a new Corona virus called Corvid-19. In February I started to buy a few extra canned goods and other foods that keep well. I’m happy I purchased a pack of toilet paper then. I wish I had picked up a bigger pack. My sister-in-law and I met at Longwood Gardens for a walk and carefully avoided door handles and washed our hands. I was asked to present at Career Day at The College School at the University of Delaware and was careful not to touch anything and wash my hands.

Career Day. Sharing with kids age six to thirteen about how important artists are in society and sharing artwork. Photo by Kathy Mosing Seeman
Career Day. Sharing with kids ages six to thirteen about how important artists are in society and sharing artwork. Photo by Kathy Mosing Seeman

Andreas’ sister Christina and husband George came over for dinner. I also traveled to New Jersey with the Trashy Women met to meet the Philadelphia group the Dumpster Diving Divas. Besides extra hand washing it was almost life as normal.

The video illustrates how to pronounce the letter u with an umlaut in German. Homeschooling.

The next week Andreas and I visited a friend who shared gooseberry plants with us, but I chose not to go to my welding class because it involved a small group of people.

Andreas and puppy Puccini dig out gooseberry plants on Maggies farm. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas and puppy Puccini dig out gooseberry plants on Maggie’s farm. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Welding project number one was a bottle tree. An older neighbor walking by commented that she really liked it. That made me feel a little better about trashing up the yard. Lol. Photo and bottle tree by Dragonfly Leathrum
Welding project number one was a bottle tree. An older neighbor walking by commented that she really liked it. That made me feel a little better about trashing up the yard. Lol. Photo and bottle tree by Dragonfly Leathrum

Welding project number two was a bird made from a shovel, clippers, rebar and a piece of an old art project created by Andreas' step-son David for the tail. Photo and bird by Dragonfly Leathrum
Welding project number two was a bird made from a shovel, clippers, rebar and a piece of an old art project created by Andreas’ step-son David for the tail. Photo and bird by Dragonfly Leathrum

I also canceled a trip to the Philadelphia Art Museum with friends. After my Monday German class, the University canceled classes and went to an early spring break saying they would be back in a week or two and prepared the professors to teach online. My friend Linda came to the house and we recovered the kitchen chairs which saved me money since they won’t need to be replaced now.

Week three and I cancelled all of my private students saying that we would probably be able to meet again by the end of the month. All other meetings and meet ups are cancelled. I am still walking with friends but we stay at least six feet away from each other. I wear gloves when I get the mail because the mail person does not, then the mail sits in a basket for a while before I open it. I thought a project would be good to keep my mind off of the news, so I painted an immersive mural in our bedroom. I completed the mural including an intense clean of the room in six days. It was wonderful to work without distractions.

Painting branches on Aspen trees in the bedroom. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Painting branches on Aspen trees in the bedroom. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

Now we sleep in a snowy Aspen forest. Soon I'll add birds and other creatures. It's a big change ha ha. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Now we sleep in a snowy Aspen forest. Soon I’ll add birds and other creatures. It’s a big change ha ha. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Andreas works from home without his normal distractions as well.

Andreas' home office. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ home office. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Home office option two. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Home office option two. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Continuing with projects will be good for us. We have decided to plant vegetables in our few sunny garden patches. These are hard to find in our wooded yard so, some of the vegetables will go in pots. Andreas is enthralled with his tomato plants. He is babying the tiny sprouts moving them to different sunny spots in the house throughout the day and checking them often.

Andreas carefully watering his tomatoes. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas carefully watering his tomatoes. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

On a strange note, I started knitting this snowy looking, winter scarf for my friend saying that hopefully it will bring snow and days off of work for her. Well now she's home from work until at least May. I think it worked too well. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
On a strange note, I started knitting this snowy looking, winter scarf for my friend saying that hopefully it will bring snow and days off of work for her. Well now she’s home from work until at least May. I think it worked too well. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

Today begins week four. We woke up early to be at the grocery store by 7am in the rain. I had hoped that it wouldn’t be crowded then. It was crowded, there were no disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer available for customers and half of the cashiers weren’t wearing gloves. We were. Andreas came shopping with me. It was very surreal. A lot of the shelves were empty, no one was talking, everyone was avoiding each other, some had masks and gloves. Most, mostly men, did not.

We are not unhappy to be quarantined. To me it is an easier isolation than I experienced living in Germany. I have my art studio and supplies. I have commissions that need to be filled and a German class to study for. Andreas has his work and his students to teach online. We are busy and healthy. Our family in Germany and the States are healthy too. We hope that everyone reading this is healthy and has work and hobbies to keep them busy. Our Governor is shutting down our state a little more strictly tomorrow until May 15th now. He has issued his fifth modification to his State of Emergency declaration ordering us to stay at home and closing all non-essential businesses. The University will not re-open to students until next fall and the visit from Andreas’ parents that we were looking forward to in May has been cancelled for now. We are incredibly grateful for electricity, the internet, you and each other.

What’s next? Stay home and stay safe all of you all over the world.

Do you have Bingo?
Do you have Bingo?

Feeling Fünfzig in February. (50)

Rough start to February for this half century complainer. I chose to go back to my alma mater to take a German language class with my brother-in law George. My Deutsch class at the Saengerbund is fun, but not challenging. We haven’t covered much and we’ve been going over Christmas words for two months. I thought it would be fairly easy to sign up as a listener for a beginning class at the U of D. Ha ha, no, not easy. (maybe for me) I had a lot of problems with the UD website trying to figure out how to register for the class as a faculty spouse and not a student. Thirty years ago, I would go to the registrar’s office and they would help me figure it out. So, I decided to do this. I walked into the registrar building and no one was around. After a few minutes someone poked their head out of an office door and asked to help me. I told him what I needed and he looked at me with pity in his eyes and told me to sign in. I said where, on a computer? He pointed to the screens against the wall. His eyes once full of pity now rolled up into his head and he said yes in a slow, calm voice.

Ten minutes later (I was the only one sitting there) a woman came from another office and offered to help me. I told her I was having trouble registering and she said I needed to do it on the computer. I said yes, I know, but where and how? I asked her for a pen to write down the instructions she was giving me. She looked at me with surprise. “A pen?” she asked. Yes, I said, I need to write this down. There wasn’t a pen to be found in her office. Eventually she found one down the hall. Everything she told me was useless. George eventually figured out how to register and we signed up in time.

We have a lot of homework in this class.
We have a lot of homework in this class.

The class has been great. We love the teacher and the work and pace are challenging. I do feel old sitting across from my high school friend’s son and a lot of the videos are geared toward college kids. (Andreas says they’re “modern”) I got 100% on my first quiz!

The new car has me feeling old too. It has a slow start (must be a hybrid thing) and I find myself driving slow and careful like an old lady. I’ve been gradually learning all of the buttons and new gadgetry stuff with the computer. I still can’t get used to the keyless entry and start. I don’t like it. (She mumbles under her breath, humbug!)

AND ANOTHER THING, my stupid old teeth. I went to a new dentist this month. She’s Andreas’ dentist. (very young) Her office is modern. I caught myself using the word newfangled to the hygienist a few times. After all of my newfangled x-rays she informed me that I had seven cavities, needed two root canals and two crowns. WHAT! Do you have any idea how much that is going to cost!?, I asked her. She didn’t, but said that someone would eventually call me. Holy mackerel, I’m the kid with the good teeth who never gets a cavity. Doesn’t she know that?

Studying in the dentist office. I'll be here every Tuesday for a while.
Studying in the dentist office. I’ll be here every Tuesday for a while. My two hour visit this morning cost $2,000. Not kidding.

Ok, enough boohooing about feeling old. Thanks for listening and yes, I hear some of you saying, “Just wait..hahaha.”

In January’s blog I mentioned that I was walking three miles a day with friends. Now I’m walking every other day with them and to class on the days in between. I love it, it’s great and I’ve lost a whole pound in two months. I know, impressive. Yay old people metabolism. Shoot me.

Andreas and I had a wonderful Valentine’s Day in our own weird way. Our tradition is to buy a painting we both like. This year it was a portrait by Linda Harris Reynolds. Somehow, with our opposite tastes in art, we chose this and we love it.

Portrait of Diana McDonald Keller in oil by Linda Harris Reynolds.
Portrait of Diana McDonald Keller in oil by Linda Harris Reynolds.

Spring, or at least spring flowers seem to be here early this year. Snowdrops and crocuses are blooming in February and maybe we’ve had more warm days than cold. We volunteered to participate in the Newark Arts Alliance Garden Tour in June and we are trying to prepare the garden ahead of time. I think it’s making Andreas nervous.

The first crocuses have bloomed in the neighbor's garden. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The first crocuses have bloomed in the neighbor’s garden. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Andreas helps neighbor Francis with his early spring clean up. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas helps neighbor Francis with his early spring clean up. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I began a welding class with the Trashy Women last week. So far, I really enjoy it. I thought it would be scary or difficult, but we have a great instructor.

With instructor John heating rebar with a flame torch to bend it.
With instructor John heating rebar with a flame torch to bend it.

MIG welding a rebar bottle tree for the garden. Photo by Jamie Holbrook Troiani
MIG welding a rebar bottle tree for the garden. Photo by Jamie Holbrook Troiani

I was also given the opportunity to speak to my friend Kathy’s fourth grade class about what it’s like to live on a research vessel in the Arctic. Her class of six nine-year-old boys was very interested in the ship and the icebergs. They had so many questions for me. I showed them my photos, videos from the German Icebreaker Polastern’s current project, and let them try on Andreas’ polar work suits. It was fun, and it must have gone well because I’ve been invited back for Career Day next week.

Showing the kids where our ship traveled near the Scoresby Sund. Photo by Kathy Mosing Seeman
Showing the kids where our ship traveled near the Scoresby Sund. Photo by Kathy Mosing Seeman

Helping a 9yr old into a polar work suit. He looks warm. Photo by Kathy Mosing Seeman
Helping a 9yr old into a polar work suit. He looks warm. Photo by Kathy Mosing Seeman

In the studio this month my attention has been on finishing a painting for a high school friend that I’ve been working on since September. It has been much more challenging than I anticipated, but It’s turning out well.

This painting is complicated (for me) both in execution and subject matter. Grace Jones is larger than life in so many ways. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
This painting is complicated (for me) both in execution and subject matter. Grace Jones is larger than life in so many ways. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

I’ll leave you with this photo of my little cousin Jason. He’s celebrating his 37th birthday today. I’m so old!! Happy birthday, Jason!

Bonnie, Jason and I in the mid 1980s.
Bonnie, Jason and I in the mid 1980s.

 

 

January 2020

January can be a slow, dark month; this was not my experience. We started the month with a New Year’s Day hike in White Clay Creek State Park with friends. Every year I tell myself I will/ should exercise more. Since the middle of the month I’ve been walking three miles every morning with my friends Mary and Colin. I’m still having a hard time matching their speed, they’ve been walking together for the last two years.

With tree pants in White Clay Creek State Park. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
With tree pants on a hike in White Clay Creek State Park. Photo by Andreas Muenchow, filters added by Dragonfly

The Trashy Women Artist Collective is busy. We took our show down at the Book Place in Oxford, PA at the beginning of the month and set up for a February opening at the Art Den in Rising Sun, MD last week. In the middle of the month we met for a meeting with a sewing project. We exchanged a lot of trash, but didn’t sew much. The meeting did inspire me to sew a new piece for our February show.

Trashy Maggie holds up a bag sewn by Trashy Jamie for Trashy Trebs. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Trashy Maggie holds up a bag sewn from a shirt by Trashy Jamie for Trashy Trebs. Photo by Trashy Dragonfly Leathrum

Jacket, scarf and hat created by Dragonfly Art Studios for the Trashy Women show at the Art Den. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Jacket, scarf and hat created by Dragonfly Art Studios for the Trashy Women show at the Art Den. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Also created in the studio this month were the stained glass award windows for the Delaware Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge. The participants who raise the most money for the organization are presented with a window.

Polar Bear stained glass windows for the Delaware Special Olympics. Glass and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Polar Bear stained glass windows for the Delaware Special Olympics. Glass and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Andreas helps me photograph the Polar Bears on a cold day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas helps me photograph the Polar Bears on a cold day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I’m happy to say I sold a painting this month to a coffee shop. This is a broken skateboard I painted in acrylic from a former skateboard shop on Haines Street. (The blue building) I thought it would be nice to turn the street in front of the building into a garden and add goats. Recently the coffee shop, Little Goat moved into the building. I think the painting found a good home there.

Little Goat painting by Dragonfly Leathrum. Photo by Dain Simons
Little Goat painting by Dragonfly Leathrum. Photo by Dain Simons

My art car is getting older and starting to have some issues, so Andreas and I decided to purchase a more reliable car. We bought a hybrid from friends that I used to work with at a Saturn dealership over a decade ago who now work for Hyundai. We’ve had the car two weeks now and love the 55 mpg. Andreas has synced his phone and figured out the computer, I’m more concerned with driving. Together we’re figuring out new to us technology.

Jeff, me, James and the new Hyundai, otherwise known as the blank canvas. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Jeff, me, James and the new Hyundai, otherwise known as the blank canvas. Photo by Andreas Muenchow

I won a contest at a local art supply store with this photo of the art car in front of the store’s mural.

Art car at Jerry's Artarama. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Art car at Jerry’s Artarama. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Teaching is going well. One of my students decided last minute that she wanted to apply for the local art high school so we rushed a portfolio. That was a little stressful but we got through it.

One of my private students working on her portfolio.
One of my private students working on her portfolio.

Her figure drawing of me. ha ha
Her figure drawing of me. ha ha

At the end of the month I was invited to show the artwork I created in Germany at the Chapel Street Theater. The event was hosted by the Newark Partnership and was well attended.

With my paintings at the Chapel Street Theater. Photo by Terry Foreman
With my paintings at the Chapel Street Theater. Photo by Terry Foreman

January ended on a very happy note as we celebrated the marriage of my cousin Scott and his new wife Robin.

Welcome to the family, Robin!
Welcome to the family, Robin!

I hope your year is off to a good start too.

 

Happy New Year/ Frohes neues Jahr

Andreas and I challenged each other to create a blog today (New Year’s Eve.). It has been a while since either of us has had the time to write.

Andreas working on his blog. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas working on his blog. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

In Germany last year we had many events to write about and many shareable photos as we traveled a few times a month. Since we’ve returned to the States, we’ve only taken a weekend away to Bethany Beach, Delaware to celebrate our first Anniversary. The beach in December was cold and rainy, and we enjoyed the empty beaches, movie theater and restaurants.

Andreas on South Bethany Beach in December. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas on South Bethany Beach in December. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We are back to old routines. Andreas taught a Time Series Analysis class at the University of Delaware this fall and is actively serving on University committees again. I have reconnected with most of my private students from 2018 and have picked up a few new ones as well.

One of my private student's finishing up he sea shell drawing. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
One of my private student’s finishing up her sea shell drawing. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Andreas’ sister and our brother-in-law moved into their new house this month. They have been waiting in our house since last spring for their house to be built. We enjoyed having them as house sitters and when we returned from sabbatical we enjoyed their company after spending the year alone. What a great opportunity for us to get to know each other better.

Happy new homeowners. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Happy new homeowners. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Facetiming Kaffee Klatsch with their brother and our sister-in-law in Diez Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Facetiming Kaffee Klatsch with their brother and our sister-in-law in Diez Germany. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Some new routines for me include daily studio time to work on commissions and time to take classes like portrait painting at the Centreville Art Students League and beginning German at the Delaware Saengerbund. I also volunteer at the Newark Arts Alliance again and serve as Board Secretary. I enjoyed volunteering for the NAA Events Committee this autumn to help create and execute a fundraising event.

Iceberg stained glass created for the Newark Arts Alliance fundraising event. Photo and artwork by Dragonfly Leathrum
Iceberg stained glass created for the Newark Arts Alliance fundraising event. Photo and artwork by Dragonfly Leathrum

My portrait painting class with Artist Linda Harris Reynolds pictured here working on her demo. Centreville Art Students League. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
My portrait painting class with Artist Linda Harris Reynolds pictured here working on her demo. Centreville Art Students League. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The Trashy Women Artist Collective has also been very active. Since my last writing we had two shows. One at the Gallery at La Cigale in Mt. Gretna, Pennsylvania and another at the Bookplace in Oxford, PA. Two of us from the group, Maggie Creshkoff and myself participated in a recycling art show at the State Department Building in Washington DC. Trashy Women Trebs Thompson offered a glass mosaic making workshop on her Whimsical Farm.

Trashy Women having fun at an art fundraiser in Chesapeake City, MD
Trashy Women having fun at an art fundraiser in Chesapeake City, MD

Trebs and Maggie at the Gallery at La Cigale Trashy Women show. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Trebs and Maggie at the Gallery at La Cigale Trashy Women show. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Trashy Women show at the Bookplace Galley in Oxford, PA. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Trashy Women show at the Bookplace Galley in Oxford, PA. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Sitting with my artwork in The State Department in Washington DC. Baby Iceberg windows on the front of the table. Photo by Maggie Creshkoff
Sitting with my artwork in The State Department in Washington DC. Baby Iceberg windows on the front of the table. Photo by Maggie Creshkoff

Andreas and I had our first Christmas in our home. It was quiet and relaxing in contrast to the past two years. We hosted a small gathering on Christmas Eve. and then spent Christmas day relaxing and visiting friends.

Christmas Eve with two of my favorite, former co-workers. It's always a party in the kitchen. Photo by Lauren
Christmas Eve with two of my favorite, former co-workers. It’s always a party in the kitchen. Photo by Lauren

Andreas' favorite Christmas present. Safety first. He bought me tickets to see Star Wars AND watched the movie with me. He doesn't know anything about Star Wars so this was a big deal ha ha. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ favorite Christmas present. Safety first. He bought me tickets to see Star Wars AND watched the movie with me. He doesn’t know anything about Star Wars so this was a big deal ha ha. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

In the days since we’ve been a bit lazy reading, eating Christmas cookies, and binge-watching The Crown on Netflix. Surprising, we found a show that we both enjoy. In contrast to last year’s insane fireworks display in Bremerhaven, we plan to spend New Year’s Eve at home with a DVD and a fire like a boring old couple ha ha.

Happy New Year/ Frohes neues Jahr to you and your families!

Partying like it's 2019. Happy New year! Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Partying like it’s 2019. Happy New year! Photo by Andreas Muenchow

New in the Studios

Dragonfly Art Studios Nottingham Forest location is back in operation. In the last few weeks I have been starting commissions, taken an oil painting class and painted a few personal projects.

Dragonfly Art Studios. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Dragonfly Art Studios. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The main commission I’m working on is the annual Night of Heroes award windows for Delaware Special Olympics.

Admiring the color of the pattern tracings to be cut. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Admiring the color of the pattern tracings to be cut. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I’ve been filling this commission since the late nineties and even though it’s a lot of work, it’s not too stressful. This year it consists of three larger award windows and seven smaller awards.

From two big sheets of glass to boxes of tiny pieces ready to grind. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
From two big sheets of glass to boxes of tiny pieces ready to grind. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Grinding each piece to remove sharp edges and to help it fit the pattern. This takes a long time. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Grinding each piece to remove sharp edges and to help it fit the pattern. This takes a long time. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The pieces have now been wrapped with copper foil tape and are ready to be soldered. More glass in different shapes and colors will be added around these pieces before soldering. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The pieces have now been wrapped with copper foil tape and are ready to be soldered. More glass in different shapes and colors will be added around these pieces before soldering. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

A few weeks ago, I participated in an oil painting class at the Centreville Art Students’ League with artist Linda Harris Reynolds.

Artist Linda Harris Reynolds in her studio at the Centreville Art Students' League. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Artist Linda Harris Reynolds in her studio at the Centreville Art Students’ League. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The goal of the class was to learn to paint from photos more successfully. Linda had some great tips and was able to paint alongside us. I love to watch her work. I chose a photo of Andreas that I took at the fish market in Bremerhaven.

Laying in the base colors of the painting. Photo by Sara Rose
Laying in the base colors of the painting. Photo by Sara Rose

Our class' progress after one week. Even though these painting are unfinished here you can see our distinct styles. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Our class’ progress after one week. Even though these painting are unfinished here you can see our distinct styles. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The painting continues in my studio where I work on it a little each day and hope to finish soon.

Unfinished painting of Andreas. I hope to post a finished version soon. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Unfinished painting of Andreas. I hope to post a finished version soon. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Off task projects have included painting a bicycle helmet, birdhouses and a bat house for Nottingham Forest and some photography.

New bumble Bee bike helmet using acrylic paint. Drivers beware. Selfie by Dragonfly Leathrum
New bumble Bee bike helmet using acrylic paint. Drivers beware. Selfie by Dragonfly Leathrum

Bat and birdhouses in progress using acrylic paint. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Bat and birdhouses in progress using acrylic paint. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Protected. Photo of a seed pod found in Nottingham Forest. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Protected. Photo of a seed pod found in Nottingham Forest. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Fascination. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Fascination. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I also had a cat sitting job and have spent time with friends. All in all it’s been a pretty wonderful summer.

Miss Yoda playing with the paper from my copper foil tape. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Miss Yoda playing with the paper from my copper foil tape. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Re-entry

Hello from America. We’ve had eleven days to re-adjust, re-decorate and re-dedicate ourselves to our old lives.

Starting to re-paint the house Dragonfly style. Andreas picked out the purple paint.
Starting to re-paint the house Dragonfly style. Andreas picked out the purple paint.

On the flight home we shared our row with a friar or monk (whatever you call the dudes in the long brown robes with rope belts) a talker, originally from South Jersey. He’s stationed in Jericho now and was coming home for a holiday at the shore. I caught up on a few movies that I hadn’t seen while we were in Germany on the plane. When we landed in Philadelphia, a half hour late, we were told that the computers in customs were down. Two hours later we happily greeted Andreas’ sister who patiently waited three hours to pick us up.

My in-laws watched our house for us using our place as a base while they build a new home. So, not only was the house clean and ready to live in when we arrived, but we had groceries and good company.

The first things we noticed in Delaware were the sounds of insects at night and the blood thirsty mosquitoes. Even though it’s hot we open the windows to hear the insects through the night and the birds in the morning. In Bremerhaven we heard drunks, sirens and seagulls. I’ll miss the seagulls.

Back to my weekly Sunday walk with friend Terri around the University of Delaware campus. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Back to my weekly Sunday walk with friend Terri around the University of Delaware campus. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Our local farmer's market isn't as grand as the market in Bremerhaven, but my friends are there and I can ask for what I'd like and be understood so I'm happy. Andreas doesn't want to go yet. He misses the German market.
Our local farmer’s market isn’t as grand as the market in Bremerhaven, but my friends are there and I can ask for what I’d like and be understood so I’m happy. Andreas doesn’t want to go yet. He misses the German market.

During our first couple of days back we manically cleaned, re-organized and unpacked. Andreas spent three days in the garden untangling and cutting back a years’ worth of overgrowth.

This area was overgrown, the rose bush was on the ground and there was an apple tree. Andreas removed the weeds, the tree and unearthed a forgotten flower bed in one day in 90 degree heat. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
This area was a mini jungle, the rose bush was on the ground and there was an apple tree. Andreas removed the weeds, the tree and unearthed a forgotten flower bed in one day in 90 degree heat. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

He also spent some time editing and cleaning his office at work which hasn’t changed much in twenty years. Even though we felt tired and jet lagged, the excitement of being back and the desire to do the things we dreamed about in Germany overcame it.

No wheels for me this week. I hope it's fixed soon. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
No wheels for me this week. I hope it’s fixed soon. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

My car wasn’t running well after sitting for a year, so I had it towed to the mechanics. Even though I’m home I haven’t had a car to run errands. That’s frustrating, but I think it helped me to stay focused on submitting a grant proposal before it’s deadline, and to unpack the studio prepare it for commissions and classes.

The art studio is unpacked, cleaned up and ready for new art to be made. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The art studio is unpacked, cleaned up and ready for new art to be made. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We had our kitchen remodeled when we were overseas. It turned out great and it’s been fun to unpack and thin out our combined kitchen utensils and gadgets. It’s so much brighter than the old kitchen!

The kitchen before photo. Dark, brown and outdated.
The kitchen before photo. Dark, brown and outdated.

The kitchen after photo. Much brighter! Thanks to Linda and Matt DelPizzo. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The kitchen after photo. Much brighter! Thanks to Linda and Matt DelPizzo. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Oh, and I turned 50 a few days ago and had an awesome dinner out with a few friends. It was wonderful to understand the conversations at the table, to understand the waitress and to be able to read everything on the menu. Also, super great to see my friends. I kept staring at my friend Sherri. I couldn’t believe she was actually sitting there in person, not just a video on the phone!

This seems ridiculous. Fifty?! how did that happen?
This seems ridiculous. Fifty?! how did that happen?

I miss our apartment in Germany a little bit because it became so familiar. All in all, though I am very happy to be HOME!