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

Beach Days

Calm seas and dolphins in South Bethany in August. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Calm Atlantic seas and dolphins at South Bethany Beach, Delaware in August. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

I was offered the use of a Bethany beach house for a few days this week. I love the beach even though I sunburn when I get near one.

A beach lover for a long time. In the 70's I used a t-shirt to avoid bad sunburns. I remember usually burning the worst on the backs of my knees.
A beach lover for a long time. In the 70’s I used a t-shirt to avoid bad sunburns. I remember usually burning the worst on the backs of my knees.
These days I hide under a hat and umbrella. Photo by Glenn Davies
These days I hide under a hat and umbrella. Photo by Glenn Davies

There is some magic thing about being near the ocean. Maybe it’s the extra ions in the air that make people feel relaxed and happy.

The view from the beach house. Lots of birds and strange animal sounds at night. Is it racoon mating season? Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The view from the beach house. Lots of birds and strange animal sounds at night. Is it racoon mating season? Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Early morning visitor. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Early morning visitor. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

My beach going friend Glenn and I enjoyed our stay. Andreas the Oceanographer stayed home. he doesn’t appreciate the whole beach scene with the crowds and traffic. Sitting on the beach bores him.

South Bethany Beach at North 1st st. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
South Bethany Beach at North 1st St. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Glenn and I did our own things. He went to the boardwalk and floated along the canals in his inflatable kayak.

Glenn floating along a canal. He saw an egret and a heron. No snakes or alligators. Photo by Glenn Davies
Glenn floating along a canal. He saw an egret and a heron. No snakes or alligators. Photo by Glenn Davies

I went to my brother-in-law George’s favorite coffee place and caught up on some magazines a friend gave me.

Drifting Grounds in Bethany Beach. I recomend their dark roast.
Drifting Grounds in Bethany Beach. I recommend their dark roast.
The "Friends" sofa in Drifting Grounds.
The “Friends” sofa in Drifting Grounds.

We spent time at the beach swimming and walking. We also met my Aunt and Uncle who live locally for dinner and caught up with them.

Yes, I got some sunburn, even on a cloudy day.

We had a great time. Thanks to Christina and George!

Here comes the storm. We made it back to the house just as the rain started. Photo by Glenn Davies
Here comes the storm. We made it back to the house just as the rain started. Photo by Glenn Davies

OK, back to work.

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!

 

Bremerhaven Germany with Kids

We recently had the pleasure of hosting my freshman college roommate and her family for the weekend in Bremerhaven.

Stefanie and family. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stefanie and family. The younger kid could have chosen a larger stuffed animal at the zoo but she told her dad that this one was all alone on the shelf so she chose him. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

My friend Stefanie and I met thirty-one years ago when we were matched as roommates at LaGrange College in southwestern Georgia. Stefanie was a foreign student from Germany and I was a crazy girl from Delaware.

Stefanie and Dragonfly. Photo by Andreas Muenchow
Stefanie and Dragonfly. We both became high school teachers and had a lot to talk about.Photo by Andreas Muenchow

Surprisingly, I was already friends with her cousin who was studying at the University of Delaware. (Small world) I only attended LaGrange for a year, but Stefanie and I kept in touch. When I was studying Art in Wolverhampton, England in 1991 I visited her and her family in Germany on my spring break and Andreas and I were able to visit her during our travels in Germany Christmas 2017.

Luckily, she is not too far away in Bonn and was able see us with her husband and two girls ages five and eight. The older one loves all animals, especially horses and the younger one loves speed and sport.

Swashbuckling on the dike. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Three kids swashbuckling on the dike. Andreas’ way of keeping the kids busy. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Library books, a book about the animals in the zoo by gallery owner Fernando Valero and paper and pencils were my way of keeping kids busy.
Library books, a book about the animals in the zoo by gallery owner Fernando Valero and paper and pencils were my way of keeping kids busy.

We had a wonderful weekend seeing the Harbor through their eyes. The Harbor area was so fun for them we never made it to town.

Playground by the zoo. This girl loves all animals, even if they're wooden statues. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Playground by the zoo. This girl loves all animals, even if they’re wooden statues. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sitting under a docked ship for shade eating ice cream. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sisters sitting under a docked ship for shade eating ice cream. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Proudly wearing a maple seed on the nose while the adults enjoy boring things like coffee and beer. at the Waserschout. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Proudly wearing a maple seed on the nose while the adults enjoy boring things like coffee and beer. at the Wasserschout. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas' Birkenstocks, sticky from and earlier Sprite spillage at the Waserschout get a proper burial in the sand. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ Birkenstocks, sticky from an earlier Sprite soda spillage at the Waserschout, get a proper burial in the sand. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Mike burying the kids.
Mike burying the kids.
Stuck! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stuck! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
In Bremerhaven when the tide goes out on the Weser River you play in the mud. Andreas spent many days playing in the mud in Denmark as a child and had to share in the fun with the girls. Yuck! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
In Bremerhaven when the tide goes out on the Weser River you play in the mud. Andreas spent many days playing in the mud in Denmark as a child and had to share the fun with the girls. Yuck! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Green Weserstrand mud everywhere. Happy kids. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Green Weser River mud everywhere. Happy kids. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Cleaned up, in pjs and exhausted after a fun day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Cleaned up, in pjs and exhausted after a fun day. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sunday morning pancakes with Andreas. The girls helped with the cooking and got a few math lessons with blueberries. We also know Andreas' secret ingredient now thanks to the eight year olds sensitive nose. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Sunday morning pancakes with Andreas. The girls helped with the cooking and got a few math lessons with blueberries. We also know Andreas’ secret ingredient now thanks to the eight year old’s sensitive nose. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The girls added blueberries, raspberries and strawberries to their pancake creations. When the sat down to eat they asked for plain pancakes instead. Ha ha Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The girls added blueberries, raspberries and strawberries to their pancake creations. When they sat down to eat they asked for plain pancakes instead. Ha ha Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Next was the Bremerhaven zoo. Five year old asks who wants to look at an old bird when there are pumas over there! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Next was the Bremerhaven Zoo. Five year old asks who wants to look at an old bird when there are pumas over there! Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas and I are now up to date on the latest in toy technology including Tiptoi. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas and I are now up to date on the latest in toy technology including Tiptoi. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stefanie and family brought us a big mystery box of Haribo seconds from the Haribo outlet store in Bonn. We sent them home with our Christmas tree for their garden and Michelle Obama's book in English. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Stefanie and family brought us a big mystery box of Haribo seconds from the Haribo outlet store in Bonn. We sent them home with our Christmas tree for their garden and Michelle Obama’s book in English. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Definitely mystery gummies.
Definitely mystery gummies.
Best gift of all.
Best gift of all.
This is Andreas fifteen minutes after everyone left. I fell asleep after I took the photo and we napped for two hours. Stefanie, I don't know how you and Mike do it. We had a super fun time and we can't wait to visit with all of you again!
This is Andreas fifteen minutes after everyone left. I fell asleep after I took the photo and we napped for two hours. Stefanie, I don’t know how you and Mike do it. We had a super fun time and we can’t wait to visit with all of you again!

Guest Artist in Bremerhaven Germany

Greeting the students from Berufsbildende Schulen Sophie School at Art Impressions Gallery Bremerhaven, Germay. Photo by Christiane Matthai
Greeting the students from Geschwister Scholl Schule at Art Impressions Gallery Bremerhaven, Germany. Photo by Christiane Matthäi

My Germany bucket/wish list for this sabbatical year is checked off. I created a new body of work, had an art exhibit, and last week I was given the opportunity to speak to five high school art classes. I was also invited to visit their school and interact with the students as they worked on their projects.

An Art classroom at the Berufsbildende Schulen Sophie School. The students are working on sculpture projects. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
An Art classroom at the Geschwister Scholl Schule. Main class, 5 hours of art during the week. The students are working on sculpture projects. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
End of the year art instructor's desk. True anywhere. Ha ha. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
End of the year art instructor’s desk. True anywhere. Ha ha. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Since I’m an art instructor in America and students in Germany study English, I thought it would be fun to visit a class to show them my artwork and have conversations in English. Through my show at Art Impressions Gallery I became friendly with the gallery owner, Fernando Valero who invited me to his garden birthday party. There I met local high school art teacher, Christiane Matthai who teaches at the Geschwister Scholl Schule in Bremerhaven. I told her I was interested in speaking to students and she not only brought her students to my exhibit but invited me to her classroom.

Art instructor Christiane Matthai offering a funny suggestion for her students project. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Art instructor Christiane Matthäi offering a funny suggestion for her students project. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Art instructor Christiane Matthai giving one on one help to a student. The antlers on the table are made with a glue gun and painted. It's all glue. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Art instructor Christiane Matthai giving one on one help to a student. The antlers on the table are made with a glue gun and painted. They’re all glue. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

Both experiences were wonderful. At the gallery I spoke about the theme for my show and then a little bit about each work individually. I shared my inspiration for the images and the watercolor and watercolor pencil techniques used in rendering them.

Speaking about my inspiration and technique. Photo by Christiane Matthai
Speaking about my inspiration and technique. Photo by Christiane Matthai

I showed a Power Point presentation that I prepared on the Ship last summer for the scientists about the other art mediums I work in, and about my past artistic and work experiences. I wanted the students to know that I haven’t made a career out of painting old women in diners, I also paint goats on skateboards, make stained glass windows from garbage and drive an Art Car.

Explaining my past and current work with a Power Point presentation. Art Impressions Gallery owner, Fernando Valero Delgado stands in the right of the photo. Photo by Christiane Matthai
Explaining my past and current work with a Power Point presentation. Art Impressions Gallery owner, Fernando Valero stands in the right of the photo. Photo by Christiane Matthäi

I really enjoyed each class. I was curious about the similarities and differences I would observe comparing German kids to American kids. No differences I could see or sense bar one and that was that the German students showed more independence. The teacher was recently sick and I asked her if she had to pay for her substitute like the teachers do in California. She said that that subs are not hired for high school classes. Her students acquired the key for the room, worked independently and cleaned up after themselves. That was shocking to me. I could see how it was possible though after spending time in her classroom. I observed the students set up their projects, work independently when their teacher wasn’t giving them one on one time, and clean up their area. They spoke to each other quietly and worked steadily throughout the long class period without need for redirection.

Student working on her Louise Bourgeois inspired sculpture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Student working on her Louise Bourgeois inspired sculpture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The student's assignment was to begin with a plate and incorporate that into their sculpture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
The student’s assignment was to begin with a plate and incorporate that into their sculpture. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The German student’s clothing, shoes, hair styles and demeanor were so similar to my students. I told them if I saw them in America I would never guess that they were from Germany unless they spoke to me. It’s interesting how access to the internet is changing design cross culturally. Also, their English vocabulary and pronunciation was very good; better than they think it is.

Listening to what the students like about the work and answering questions. Photo by Christiane Matthai
Listening to what the students like about the work and answering questions. Photo by Christiane Matthäi

I feel very lucky to be given this experience and hope to work with Christiane again during our future visits.

A Wonderful gift for my time from teacher and students. All things from the fair trade store. Very sweet of them!
A Wonderful gift for my time from teacher and students. All things from the fair trade store. Very sweet of them!

 

Delaware Artist exhibits in Bremerhaven Germany

Newark, Delaware artist Dragonfly Leathrum exhibits in Dragonfly Germany. WHAT?!? Ha ha, seen here enjoying her show through wine goggles. Selfie by Dragonfly Leathrum
Newark, Delaware artist Dragonfly Leathrum exhibits in Bremerhaven Germany. WHAT?!? Ha ha, seen here enjoying her show through wine goggles. Selfie by Dragonfly Leathrum

Newark, Delaware artist Dragonfly Leathrum exhibits new work in Bremerhaven Germany. The artist exhibited seventeen watercolor and colored pencil paintings and thirteen pencil and colored pencil drawings. All artwork was created in an eight-month time span while on sabbatical.

Exhibits in Germany, thirty works created in eight months, watercolor paintings? Who is this person? Me? How did that happen? If someone had read that first paragraph to me two years ago and said that’s going to be you, I wouldn’t have believed them. I would have said that it sounds even more far fetched than some of the goals I set for myself in my sketchbook. If you follow this blog you know how this happened. If not, the cliff note version is that I met a wonderful German/ American Oceanographer just shy of two years ago. We started dating, fell in love moved in together, moved to Germany for a sabbatical, and got married. For the detailed version of that journey see previous posts.

Portrait of Andreas Muenchow pencil on paper 8x11" in the National Cafe' Bremerhaven Germany. Drawing and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Portrait of Andreas Muenchow pencil on paper 8×11″ in the National Cafe’ Bremerhaven Germany. Drawing and photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

So here I am in Germany for a year and I have the freedom for the first time in my life to dedicate most of my time to creating art, but my studio and supplies are in Newark, Delaware. I can’t paint in acrylics or oils and I can’t create stained glass windows (or can I?) without a large investment in new supplies, and then how do I ship them home? My solution to this first world, artist problem was to switch to watercolors and colored pencils. This worked well on our research trip in the Arctic and has been a wonderful solution to creating new work quickly that is easy to ship and can also fit in a suitcase.

Studio space aboard the FS Maria S. Merian in the Greenland Sea. Just enough space for a little box of watercolors and some colored pencils. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Studio space aboard the FS Maria S. Merian in the Greenland Sea. Just enough space for a little box of watercolors and some colored pencils. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

My art goals during my stay in Bremerhaven were to 1. Practice a drawing/ painting skill that I want to improve on for future work, 2. Create a new/full body of work with one theme, in one medium that I can exhibit when I return to the States and 3. Icing on the cake, and a dream, to have a show in Germany.

One thing I've improved upon is transferring a small drawing to larger paper using the grid system. I hope this improves my mural painting skills in the future.
One thing I’ve improved upon is transferring a small drawing to larger paper using the grid system. I hope this improves my mural painting skills in the future.

So, what to paint? The blank tablet of watercolor paper asks, “What will it be, ma’am?” I ask myself what would I like to see on the wall? What do other people want to see on their walls? What’s important to document? After a lot of thought I chose to create dining companions. Portraits were my challenge that needed a lot of practice and I enjoy figure drawings more when the background gives some information. I was also a bit lonely. I chose to paint friends, relatives, people from the newspaper, a few faces from online sources and one self-portrait. If the face was interesting and the figures were in a dining situation, I was ready to paint them.

Tourist Diners watercolor and colored pencil 30x40cm. Portraits of Jason and Erin Wright in a Bremerhaven restaurant.
Tourist Diners, watercolor and colored pencil 30x40cm. Portraits of Jason and Erin Wright in a Bremerhaven restaurant.

One theme and all in watercolor with colored pencil. (this is unusual for me) In the few months since I began this project my drawings and paintings have improved with practice which inspires me to keep going.

Now for a show in Germany, I approached a few galleries, some were interested but didn’t have an opening until 2020. By chance I found a gallery close to my neighborhood with an opening in April and I was able to book it. Yay, a show!

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Art Impressions Gallery, pencil and colored pencil 8x11"
Art Impressions Gallery, pencil and colored pencil 8×11″

Uh oh…now I need to matte and frame thirty pieces of artwork and I can’t bring these frames home to Delaware. The Owner of Art Impressions Gallery saved me the matting costs by applying for and receiving a grant from the city for exhibiting an international artist. For frames I did something I would never consider doing in Newark and that was to purchase all the frames from IKEA with plexi windows instead of glass.

These IKEA frames aren't so bad from a distance.
These IKEA frames aren’t so bad from a distance.

(I can hear my artist friends and my framer 4000 miles away screaming NO!!! in unison.) Those were not easy to transport on the 505 bus. I will donate them to the gallery or a school when I leave for student artists.

Gallery owner Fernando Valero hangs the show at Art Impressions Gallery. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Gallery owner Fernando Valero hangs the show at Art Impressions Gallery. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

We had the show opening on April 27th 2019, it was a success. Four of the paintings were sold through commission, three sold through social media before the show and two sold opening night. Framing costs covered.

Andreas Muenchow, his mother, Christa in red and our wonderful Landlords from Peace4you at the opening at Art Impressions. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas Muenchow, his mother, Christa in red and our wonderful Landlords from Peace4you at the opening at Art Impressions. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas' father with his portrait. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum
Andreas’ father with his portrait. Photo by Dragonfly Leathrum

The local newspaper covered the show twice and I’m looking forward to two art classes from the local high school to visit the show next week.

An article about the show from Der Nordsee-Zeitung
An article about the show from Der Nordsee-Zeitung

My next goal is to complete at least three more paintings before mid-July and to apply for a grant through the Delaware Division of the Arts.

Traveling Diner, self-portrait watercolor and colored pencil 30x40cm
Traveling Diner, self-portrait watercolor and colored pencil 30x40cm