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

Dark Days in Lübeck Germany

We are supposed to be in Copenhagen right now. Thanks to Lufthansa’s greed or mismanagement or Covid or who knows what, those plans were changed. Lufthansa has cancelled our flight home twice. Andreas has spent hours and days on the phone with his booking agent Orbitz. Each time he is directed to a new person in India who can’t do anything to help him. I think they’ve tried. One got as far as sending and receiving emails from Lufthansa only to conclude that he couldn’t help us. Trying to contact Lufthansa in any way has proven futile.

We knew our original flight home was cancelled before we left the US. We figured we would be able to re-schedule it. We were hopeful about being able to do this until about three weeks ago.

Originally we were supposed to spend our last three weeks in Copenhagen for Andreas’ work, but then Copenhagen’s Covid numbers sky rocketed. We thought okay, we don’t have a flight home let’s stay in Germany and travel near Frankfurt and fly out of there. We should be able to change our ticket since we were originally planning to change planes in Frankfurt. Nope, no can do.

So, we made our way back to Lübeck because it’s sort of between Copenhagen and Frankfurt, we’re comfortable here and we thought we would just be working anyway. We’ve camped out in the Airbnb we started our vacation with in mid-December. The only thing we can figure out to do about getting home is to show up in the Copenhagen airport when we were originally supposed to leave and see what they can do for us. That will happen in a couple of days.

Andreas and I have spent the last two weeks feeling stressed out, anxious and maybe a little depressed. I’m a nervous traveler during the best of times even when everything is running smoothly, so this situation is making me pretty upset. Neither one of us has been able to do much work and we’ve been getting on each other’s nerves a little bit.

One particularly cold day we left the island and walked to Andreas’ mother’s old neighborhood where she lived until she was a young teen. We took photos of the house at the address she gave us and the air raid bunker that she and her family hid in during the war. She has not seen these photos yet. I can’t say if things look as she remembered them. Still, it was interesting to experience the neighborhood even if it’s been 70 odd years since she lived there. Her family of six lived on one floor of this house. (edit: Christa says that the facade of the house has changed since she lived there and it looks very modern now.)

On a happier note, we were able to visit with Andreas’ parents again in Neustadt on a rare sunny day. We enjoyed a nice walk and lunch out. Christa and Andreas rode bikes to the local Birkenstock outlet so Andreas could replace his shoes. That was a good idea because the price was less than half of what he paid online for a pair two years ago.

Andreas’ mother came to Lübeck for a day by herself and we had a wonderful coffee with her childhood friend Sieglinde. Sieglinde’s apartment is at the bottom of the island on the edge of a park with street and lake views. Very cool to watch swans fly by the window at eye level while you drink coffee and eat fancy cookies on delicate china. It was so nice to relax there and enjoy her company.

Coffee at Sieglinde’s

I’ve been keeping busy exploring museums that Andreas is not interested in, and parts of the city that I haven’t seen yet while he tries to concentrate on his work or calls the airline.

This is the Museum of Nature and the environment. (Museum für Natur und Umwelt) It’s a cute little place with tired taxidermy. Some of the exhibits are very nice. There’s a great view of the Dom (Cathedral) through the windows and some live snakes and fish. I had the museum to myself.

Museum Holstentor This museum is part of the former city wall. The sides facing away from the city have more of a battlement purpose while the back is more ornate with more windows. It has an interesting collection of weapons, kitchen implements and torture devices. I really enjoyed the scale model of medieval Lübeck and the model ships. It’s a fun museum to discover as you are always going up and down spiral steps in the two towers. What’s not apparent from the photos is how much the towers are leaning . Building something that big and heavy on swampy ground in the 1400’s wasn’t a great idea.

When I was walking back from this museum I cut through the Rathaus square and heard Andreas call my name. (Yelling DRAGONFLY! definitely rattled the two homeless guys sitting next to him.) I just happened to chose that way to walk home and he just happened to be in that square reading on a bench in the sun, so of course we had to get some coffee and cake.

You can’t throw a stone in this town without hitting a cafe with little cakes. It’s all about the afternoon Kuchen und Kaffee around here.

I’ve picked up a few books that I’ve been meaning to read. Cheery ones like The Handmaid’s Tale and Where The Crawdads Sing.. ha ha. I feel like I’ve been wasting time or not enjoying being here to the fullest, I’ve let the stress get to me too much.

Today Andreas is hiking along the Baltic while I have some quiet time to paint. He returned home saying he walked 30,000 steps today and added a few photos below. He also went to Neustadt and surprised his parents with some cake. He and his mom went out for a beer while his dad watched his Sunday TV program.

I hope that in my next blog I will say I was worried about nothing and Lufthansa totally came through for us, that they flew us to Philadelphia and not Newark, NJ and I’m back home. I hope.

Have any of you experienced travel problems like this with Lufthansa lately?

Diez, Eisenbach and a little Limburg on the side

Last week Andreas and I rode the trains to Diez, Germany to visit his brother Burkhard and our sister-in law Carina. Diez is a little town in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate about an hour north of Frankfurt. The town is in a beautiful valley along the Lahn river. A lot of the homes are on the hills surrounding the valley and the views are wonderful. Andreas’ brother lives in a house above the town and we stayed in a little hotel at the base of his hill. I think we were the only guests in the hotel, at least it felt that way. The hotel is one of the only affordable places to stay in town. Our room was small and the bathroom was at the foot of the bed with a see-through sliding door. We were happy to leave the room.

Each morning and night we walked up the stone stairs to the castle and then further up the hill to Burkhard and Carina’s. I wrote about the sad history of these stairs here. We spent most of our days in their apartment eating, talking and playing with their 8-month-old kittens. Their place was beautifully decorated for Christmas. I’m glad we were able to see them close to the holiday.

Burkhard restores old wooden windows for homes, castles and monasteries. One afternoon he showed us a few of his current projects. We drove across the valley to a new studio that he and his partner built in an old barn owned by a carpenter friend. The studio has an amazing view across the valley to the Lahn.

After that we went downtown to a house built over 300 years ago where he is restoring the windows. The current owners striped everything down to the original beams and walls. The original 17th century construction methods are fascinating to me. We were lucky enough to find the owner there working. She gave us a full tour explaining all her work and plans in German and, thankfully, English as well. On one adobe wall she had tubes of water placed to provide radiant heating. She invited us all for drinks next year to see the finished project. I am really looking forward to that.

Another day we drove into Limburg for Indian food: I was introduced to Pani Puri which is the weirdest, most amazing food thing I have tasted in a long time.

Pani Puri

This snack is one of the most common street foods on the Indian subcontinent. Ingredients include potato, onion, flour, chickpeas, mint, onion, coriander leaves, green chili, ginger, lemon, sugar, chaat masala powder, black salt, salt and cumin. Looking up the history, I found many different stories, recipes, and names such as Pani puri or fuchka fhuchka or gupchup or golgappa or pani ke patake. On days when I feel like there is nothing good in the world I want to remember that there are still experiences like eating Pani puri to be discovered.

Friday, we drove to visit Carina’s parents Marga and Bernd in Eisenbach. Marga always bakes amazing cakes and we sat together in the kitchen enjoying them with coffee. In Diez Burkhard had shared some baby photos of himself and Andreas so, I asked Carina if she had any to show. Her father brought her baby album to the table and we had fun looking through it. (She was a very cute baby.) He also showed us albums from the early sixties when he and Marga were traveling and partying with their friends. I love old photos. When we were leaving Bernd shared an apple that he harvested from his garden. We enjoyed the sour apple with slices of marzipan and chocolate in Diez. Marga passed us home-made red currant and elderberry blossom jam that we are now cherishing for breakfast and lunch here in Lübeck.

I have to say that a big part of our visit was the kittens. They are so cute and so bad. The black one is Herr Rossi and the silver, striped one is Cleo. Cleo is part Siamese and Maine Coon. It will be very interesting to see what she looks like in a few years. Someone is always yelling, “Herr Rossi, NEIN!” Ha ha, they are SO curious.

A few additions: We were happy to catch a painting show by Liv. Please follow her on Instagram. Her paintings are wonderful.

And this painting below was a surprise for Andreas to find in Burkhard and Carina’s living room. The painting always hung behind their grandparent’s sofa. No matter where they moved it was there. It was the only original artwork that Andreas remembers seeing during his childhood in a home.

The artist signature is Muller-Schlunz. Both “u” should have umlauts.

We are back in Lübeck now. The place with lots of fish food for my fishhead husband who is also a pain in the butt when it comes to editing these posts. (He wrote that, not me.)

Photos by Dragonfly Leathrum, Andreas Muenchow and Carina Schmidt-Munchow

Hundertwasser in Magdeburg Germany

Two days after Christmas Andreas and I traveled to Magdeburg from Bad Wildungen. This involved a taxi, an hour long bus ride and three different trains. The temperature was 23F ( around -5C ) so, late trains at small stations without shelter were not appreciated. My little toes were very cold. Our first train was 25 minutes late which made us miss our second train. We, along with 20 passengers ran as fast as we could with heavy backpacks and bags to catch the second train only to see it pull out in front of us. It was a clumsy, comical sight that I wish I had videoed. Waiting for a new second train over a cup of train station coffee, we sat with a friendly cardiologist in a crowded, unheated café.

Magdeburg is located in the former East Germany or as our friend Siegfried corrected us, middle Germany. The city was destroyed twice. Once in 1631 and again in 1945. In 2005 it celebrated it’s 1200th anniversary and in 2013 it was flooded. So, why the hell would we want to visit there? Well, because my Christmas present from Andreas was ten minutes walking distance from the train station:

My favorite artist built a hotel here. “Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser, (December 1928 – 19 February 2000) was an Austrian visual artist and architect who also worked in the field of environmental protection. Hundertwasser stood out as an opponent of “a straight line” and any standardization, expressing this concept in the field of building design.” He’s a fascinating character and artist. If you are interested in knowing more about him read here.

Back in 2018 Andreas and I visited Hundertwasser’s museum in Vienna. Being inside one of his structures is an experience so different from seeing them on a computer or in a book. This hotel the Grüne Zitadelle has shops on the bottom floor with public courtyards, passageways and bathrooms. There were hotel rooms, apartments and offices above that. The building also hosts a kindergarten. There are meadow ramps up the building sides and green roofs and terraces.

Our room was small with a very high ceiling. All of the corners of the room and walls were curved. No plastic or tropical wood was used in creating the room. The bathroom was tiled in his style with primary colors. We had a very nice stay there. Every time we left the room, we discovered something new.

We stayed for two nights and had one day to explore the city. Unfortunately, we were there on a Monday and all of the museums were closed. It was very cold so we explored the area close to the hotel, returned to warm up and then ventured outside again. By chance we met the man in charge of the tourism bureau while he was throwing a ball for his dog. The dog was very pretty with a plaid bow tie. He had no interest in us. The nice man mentioned that he was an exchange student in Nevada while he was in high school so, his English was easy to understand.

The Archway to the right of the nice man and his dog in the photos above is significant because Martin Luther walked through it many days of his life.

The local Christmas market was still open and we were near a shopping district so we explored some book stores and a few churches. Magdeburg had many churches along the Elbe River. Most were bombed during World War 2 and several were razed by the communist regime took over the city. There are still a few left in various stages of ongoing restoration.

Luckily, we had some food with us in our room because on the evening of the second night when we were thinking about going out, we heard a lot of noise from the street. When we opened our window, we saw what turned out to be an illegal protest march of 5,000 people. They were protesting Covid related restrictions. There were also a lot of police men and women walking around and driving in vans. We ate our leftovers a few floors above them and watched the spectacle. None of the protesters were masked. Again, seeing something in real life as apposed to a screen is so different.

The next morning I said goodbye to my Christmas present experience and we took three trains back to Lübeck for New Years.

I love this photo. The marbles were so pretty.

Photos by Dragonfly Leathrum

Lübeck and Neustadt in Holstein part one.

After much discussion and weighing Covid odds and restrictions, Andreas and I chose to travel. We wrapped up our Delaware commitments, packed our backpacks, masked up and flew out.

We arrived in Lübeck after a long, but fairly easy trip and went to our favorite pub for dinner. Andreas ordered “Sauerfleisch” (cold pork in sweet-sour jelly) that he can not find where we live. I ordered what I thought was a veggie burger that ended up being ewes’ cheese on bread. It was really nice to be back in Germany specifically in this town and at Christmas time.

We tried a new Airbnb on the other end of the island because our favorite was booked and this new one had a washer. It was a good choice.

In the kitchen at the first Airbnb.

The apartment had everything we needed including a fully stocked kitchen with teas, oil, sugar etc. left over from former tenants and or supplied by the owner. We found it really easy to cook a lot of our meals. Andreas was able to take advantage of the farmer’s market to stock up on his favorite fishes and cheese. Nice to feel like we were saving some money starting out.

Thankfully, we did not have any Christmas shopping to do and could spend our time walking around the city choosing less crowed coffee houses, shops and museums.

The Christmas markets were busy and you had to show an ID and vaccination status to be allowed in. The police were also monitoring the shoppers on the main streets to make sure everyone is masked. We feel that this is why the Covid cases are lower in this state than any other of the 15 states in Germany. Restaurants and shops are also checking vaccine status and identification before you can enter. It has not been an inconvenience but, the mask wearing outside is tedious for me, because my glasses fog up so much. Half the time I ca not see where I’m going and hold onto Andreas’ arm like a blind person while muttering, “Damnit, I can’t see shit.”

As soon as we settled into town, we took a day trip to visit Andreas’ parents in Neustadt. We had a nice coffee and dinner with them and invited them to Lübeck in the following days.

It is always fun to see Lübeck through Christa and Lothar’s eyes because they spent their formative years here. The stories are good and bad. Life was not easy here during and after WWII, but they still had some fun. We enjoyed one fancy dinner out at our favorite restaurant. Andreas ordered a mystery four course dinner that ended in a very cool dessert.

Andreas’ very cool dessert.

His parents were having so much fun in Lübeck that we found them an AirbBnB to stay the night and visit through the next day.

Two things have improved for me in regards to traveling over here. One, I have been walking a lot with my friends at home over the past two years and I am in much better shape to keep up with Andreas. Two, even though I am still terrible at it, I do understand more and can speak more German which makes life a little less frustrating.

Next stop: Bad Wildungen.

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.

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.