Hi. I'm a painter, a writer and a mother of three teenage sons, one with a severe disability. This is a journal: riotously disorganized, full of art, food, children and everyday domestic events. Unless you are a friend or family member you may not be interested, but you are welcome to look. Artists who are parents may find some common ground here, as well as parents of children with special needs. For art only, see my site: nancybeamiller.blogspot.com
Friday, December 30
In my studio. I have been painting a lot of candy, and I am not sure how this little gum machine troll came to be in the mix. I suspect there were some children poking around, leaving evidence!
Wednesday, December 28
Well, it was quite a Christmas this year. Both H and Daisy our cat started getting sick on Christmas Eve. Kind of sick, where you'd reasonably wait and see what develops, hoping it will just go away. But it didn't. Both H and Daisy were worse the next day, much worse. Halfway through Christmas dinner I found myself abandoning guests and family and driving off through the cold rainy night to the emergency room of the only animal hospital open on Christmas. I had gotten up from the main course, intending to start making coffee, but one look at Daisy convinced me that she was about to die if I didn't take care of it right away.
Which, it turns out, was a fairly accurate assessment of the situation. As the strangely perky ER vet put it "Well, she MIGHT have made it through the night. Possibly. But then she'd certainly have gone blind and probably had liver damage too! So, good thing you brought her in when you did!" Yep, good thing. I must say that the emergency room of a large city animal hospital on Christmas night is an interesting place to be. All types of people there, and all types of pets, most of which seemed to have ingested things they shouldn't have: from turkey bones to ribbon to rat poison. Quite a little cultural cross-section.
Got home pretty late Christmas night and then first thing the next morning saw me driving H off to his pediatrician, where he was diagnosed with strep throat. Poor little guy. Must say he was quite a trouper about it. And thrilled to get the sickness perks of extra screens (computer/dvd/gamecube etc) time and unlimited chocolate milkshakes!
I had to leave Daisy in the hospital for a few days, though, and just brought her home yesterday afternoon, all shaved and bandaged where the various i.v. lines had kept her alive. All in all, I feel pretty much in sympathy with the way my poor Daisy looks: glad to be here, but bloodied and a little bowed, too.
Wednesday, December 21
Just to show how lazy I am, here is our holiday "gingerbread house", made of snap-together plastic foam! Despite being an (occasionally) enthusiastic baker, I have never attempted to make a gingerbread house. It is just one project that lacks all appeal for me (sound the Grinch Alert), seeming both tedious in the process and precarious in the finished product. I don't at all feel negative about other people's gingerbread house projects. In fact, I applaud the creative energy and initiative of all gingerbread architects everywhere! Friends, please invite me over to ooh and aah in the presence of your culinary masterwork, which I will do with all sincerity, tinged with relief that it was you and not me who put the thing together.
Anyway, Henry just adores this little house, so much so that he recently adored it to death! I've been finding pieces of it around for days as it slowly came apart due to over-use, or misuse. He was entranced not by the house's holiday whimsy, I think, but by the corrugated texture of the faux gingersnap roofing and siding. That plus the springiness of the foam made it a big sensory hit. What was priceless about this cheap little trinket was the intense pleasure and interest Henry took in it. (While it lasted.)
Monday, December 19
Saw this tableaux in a chic area of New York recently. The image was loaded with so much obvious "message" that I almost didn't take the shot. But then I just couldn't help myself!
Sunday, December 18
A sharp knife on a cutting board. Went to my friend Nancy T's house today and she had been baking (and slicing) biscotti: a Christmas tradition in her house. (As Nancy said, "You do something twice and bingo, you've got a tradition on your hands!")
Friday, December 16
The most prized find of a recent excursion into the countryside. Found by H's friend C, a budding geologist perhaps. It is a funny thing, this thinking about "what I'm going to be when I grow up!" Oldest boy, P, at 11 nearly 12 years old, has already progressed past the "I wanna be a professional soccer player and an astronaut!" phase, and is considering software designer or medical researcher. But H, and his friend C, in the 8-9 year old area, are still hovering on the edges of the Fantasy Career arena, with Egyptologist and Children's Book Illustrator jockeying with Pirate and Ghost Hunter. Still, some people DO get those fantasy careers (well, maybe not pirate or ghost hunter...) so I don't want to be discouraging. It is very endearing really.
And having one non-verbal low-functioning autistic kid in the pack definitely puts these things in perspective. We actually WISH Henry was high-functioning enough to someday get a job bagging groceries at the supermarket! But, looks like that is as distant a dream as P someday being an astronaut/soccer star. It could happen, I suppose, but not very likely. Right now Henry's team is enthusiastically preparing him for a career in sorting plastic cutlery (something he is very good at). So maybe I'll just dream for him: that he'll be the first astronaut/cutlery sorter to explore the Rings of Saturn!
Thursday, December 15
This is from only an hour ago: this week's "big"shopping. This will later on be supplemented by several "small" shoppings and even a WaWa run or two (our local convenience store where we buy milk and newspapers mainly.) The "big" shopping takes about an hour, maybe a little more, then a good twenty minutes or more to carry it in from the car and put it all away. The modern equivalent of hunting/gathering I guess. I always feel exhausted afterwards, probably from the constant barrage of sensory input and decision-making, and only wish it burned as many calories as it feels like it does. But it doesn't. Sigh.
One good thing about this season of shopping frenzy is that more people carry shopping lists, and carelessly drop them around where I can find them. Here is a confession: I am a mole for GroceryLists.org. Don't leave your grocery list where I can find it (best place, right in the shopping cart!) if you don't want it to appear on-line someday.
Monday, December 12
finish on these violas in progress. My neighbor is an instrument maker and it is always a pleasure to be invited into his studio.
Saturday, December 10
This angel, or symbol of faith or something or other, lifts the heavy lid of mortality, maybe, allowing the soul, or something akin to that essence, to fly free. I think. It is all too deep for me. Pretty though! Taken at Laurel Hill Cemetery.
Friday, December 9
What a joy... for the boys. They actually arose before 6 am and went on the computer to find out if school was canceled or not: it was! Oh frabjous day! Meanwhile, Mom gets the double whammy of being woken up an hour and a half earlier than usual and finding out all her progeny will be home...all day long. Not quite so much frabjous day for me.
I decided (grumpily) to surrender to the inevitable, said yes to all requests and ended up serving lunch (prepared by Paul before he left for work) to six boys...lots of their friends came by. We do have an excellent yard for snow battles: lots of pine trees and good ambushing places. And as I once overheard P bragging to a friend "My Mom make hot cocoa from scratch, NOT from a mix!" Apparently quite a distinction. I am no Domestic Goddess but that is one thing I guess I do right.
Anyway, we all survived the snow day just fine, despite my having neglected to buy new boots for the boys (well, I did tell you about not being a domestic goddess, right?) Somehow, I had managed to keep up with new hats, coats, gloves and even neck-warmers while completely neglecting the all-important footwear issue. Details, details!
Thursday, December 8
This is a detail from a larger painting called "Green Jar" by artist Bettina Clowney. Today was the last day of her exhibit at the Villanova University art gallery. I had missed the opening reception and I find it is often very hard to get to an exhibit unless I make it to the opening. Anyway, this morning I happened to glance again at the invitation card hanging on my fridge and realized that today was the LAST DAY of the show! I pretty much dropped everything and went right away. The show was simply beautiful and amazing. I had seen this piece of art before, a few years ago. And when I saw this figure again it was like remembering a fragment of a dream.
Wednesday, December 7
I took this about a month and a half ago, on one of those golden days in late October, just before it all starts going brown. Henry has been very resistant to nature walks of late, but somehow this one was a success all around. We didn't run into any dogs or horses (which terrify him, and being autistic, it is a degree of terror way beyond your average child's nervousness or anxiety) and the worst thing to happen was a very distant aural encounter with a chain saw (noises like that seem to actually hurt him), but it was pretty far away and not prolonged. The other boys too, had begun the walk with somewhat bad attitudes (them:"Do we HAVE to?"us: "YES!") but ended up becoming totally engrossed and enthusiastic. Often the way it happens, once you get out into it. Nature, I mean.
Tuesday, December 6
No me, me, me, me...! I think this marketing ploy backfired because of sensory overload. At least it backfired with me. All I could do was stand transfixed and slack-jawed before the display, snap a surreptitious shot, and scurry away as fast as I could go. Taking consumerism to "Alice in Wonderland" heights (remember the "eat me" and "drink me" labels?)
Saturday, December 3
When I showed this shot to P, the oldest boy in our house, he said that it reminded him of a big brother (the L stone) protecting his little brother (the blank stone.) H, a little brother, didn't think much of this theory and asserted loudly "It's just two rocks!"
Friday, December 2
A TOY TRAIN
on its paper track
sun pours in.
This shot was an experiment on two counts. One, this was the first time I approached a complete stranger and said, "Can I take your picture?" Or, I guess, the question was really, "Can I take a picture of your shoes and stockings" ! But they were so fabulous, and it was at a gallery opening where the mood was festive, and the stranger seemed friendly and approachable. And she WAS very friendly and approachable, charming even, and she turned out to be the writer Michelle Herman. So, that was a lot of fun!
The second experiment was processing it in Photo-Shop where I used a few filters I had never tried before, the main one being "Brushstrokes: accented edges" I think. Oops, now I don't really remember! I had fun fooling around but unlike a good scientist I didn't keep very accurate data I am afraid. Anyway, I like how it turned out, and especially the contrast between the flamboyant feet in the foreground and the more conservatively shod feet in the backgrund.
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