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.

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

Escape to Bremen

It was a rough week emotionally watching, listening to and reading about the situation with Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford in America. It brought up a lot of bad memories for me and it was heart wrenching to read about the memories of my friends and acquaintances online. Andreas and I had a unused train ticket from the summer and he wisely suggested a change of scenery. We choose Bremen because we’ve heard good things, we wanted to explore and it’s very close.

At the Marktplatz in Bremen, next to the statue of Roland, in front of St. Peter’s Cathedral. Photo by: Andreas Muenchow

We began our day at the Kunsthalle, (art museum) fairly close to the train station. The current exhibit of the museum is about Love. I found the images interesting, but not extraordinary. Andreas, who can read the descriptions, stories and the themes of the exhibit in German was able to decipher its deeper intentions. The museum has an impressive collection of paintings from the late 19th and 20th century including some of my favorite German Expressionists.

I love portraits. Photo by: Dragonfly Leathrum

A woman artist at work painting. You don’t see this too often in a museum.

A couple of days before our trip I went on long walks around Bremerhaven and developed blisters on my feet from my shoes. So, I didn’t have happy exploring feet for Bremen. This made me grumpy going place to place, but when I took breaks and just sat watching the crowds I had some surprising photo opportunities that I would have ignored or walked by otherwise. For instance, I didn’t realize that there were song lyrics written on the walls in the Love exhibit until I took a break to rest my feet.

https://www.kunsthalle-bremen.de/view/exhibitions/exb-page/what-is-love Photo by: Dragonfly Leathrum

When we had seen and experienced all that the museum had to offer we went to a little café that Andreas read about online. We were following google maps on his phone and got turned around in the wrong direction trying to follow the blue dots. We walked for a couple of blocks only to reverse directions a couple of times. My feet weren’t happy and wanted to stop walking. We noticed between two buildings a little alley with a café, a bar and few shops. I asked to walk there because it looked much more interesting than the street we were on. The area turned out to be the Schnoor Quarter, one of the oldest areas of the Altstadt or old town. There were winding cobblestone streets, little shops in medieval buildings full of “typical German” things that you might find at the Christmas market and a TON of tourists. Tiny streets with piles of tourists, the worst kind with strollers, small children and dogs. If it wasn’t for the tourists it would have looked very Diagon Alley. Andreas’ graduate student, Cassandra and I are introducing Andreas to Harry Potter movies this month.

Andreas did not enjoy this path and asked that we leave those streets as soon as possible. As we were weaving our way through we accidentally happened upon our café destination. The café was also quite crowded and ancient, we found ourselves sitting in a cubby hole in a back room with seven ladies we had never met before. Our waitress was an attentive elven goth who brought us wonderful pastries and coffee. Andreas and I had a good time recounting the paintings we had seen at the museum and what made them special to us. Since we were conversing in English we didn’t bother the ladies too much.

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Old, new, now. Finding St. Peter’s Cathedral in Bremen. Photo by: Dragonfly Leathrum

Re-caffeinated we proceeded to our next destination on the list; a fancy restaurant for dinner. Again, Google maps twisted our sense of direction but we had hours until dinner to get lost and explore. This would have been fun if my feet had been in better shape. On our wanderings we found the Marktplatz and main square that you see in the photos of what to do in Bremen. St. Peter’s Cathedral, the statue of Roland and the statue, Town Musicians (A bronze statue with a rooster standing on a cat that’s standing on a dog that’s standing on a donkey from a Grimm Brother’s fairy tale) were all there. The tourists were gathered around to rub the donkey’s hooves. We took some photos and continued our quest.

At one point, walking through a residential neighborhood, my feet had had enough and we sat in a clothing designer’s red doorway. After we sat a dirty, friendly cat greeted and walked on us, then we noticed a wedding walking toward us down the opposite street making their way to a restaurant on the corner for their reception. Again, we would have missed this if we weren’t having a sit down.

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Here comes the bride. Photo by: Dragonfly Leathrum

Blocks later we found the little restaurant and then still needing to fill an hour or two we walked to a busy street nearby in a neighborhood full of graffiti and murals to look for a place to hang out and grab a beer. We found a little table in the window of an empty bar with mid-century furniture and foosball tables. As we were drinking our beer Andreas said, “I think I just watched a drug deal.” Ok I said, not too unusual in a city. Then I noticed a very nervous looking man walking slowly down the sidewalk and three men following him in the street. I said, “I’ll bet that’s going to be another one.” It was…then another. What to do? Andreas took some photos. I asked him not to do anything while we were sitting there. It was a nice neighborhood, lots of families and kids walking by.

I really like this mural but a mural grade acrylic applied with brushes would have looked better to me than spray paint. Photo by: Dragonfly Leathrum

We walked back to the restaurant a little nervous because Andreas made it known to one of the guys dealing the drugs that he was watching him. Dinner was an event. The restaurant was very small with just a couple of tables on the lower level, a little below the street, of a corner house. As soon as the tables were filled a red velvet curtain was drawn in front of the door letting those passing by know that the restaurant was full for the evening. We had a choice between two fixed menus and between three to seven courses. The food was tiny, artsy and tasty. I didn’t take photos because cell phones were discouraged in the establishment. On their page is a good example of a tiny, artsy dish. A fancy place with a comical touch in the bathroom. The toilet was the old style with the tank near the ceiling and a chain. The handle of the chain was a wooden banana. Real towels at the sink, fancy, smelly soaps and a wooden banana. Same in the gents too.

After our sweet, tiny dinner we ran for the late train and returned to Bremerhaven.