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
Thursday, June 29
My friend Kelly shared her time share at Lake Harmony with us last weekend. Here is son H, showing off his prowess as a mighty hunter of pollywogs: bare-handed even! For this doughty four year old boy, happiness is a fat tadpole.
It feels strange to be watering the porch plants while our area has gotten so much rain lately! Not one mile away a neighborhood on the river has been evacuated. Well, at least I am using recycled rain water. No, we don't have a high tech used-water filtering system or even a rain barrel. But the blue plastic baby pool on our lawn has filled up like a reservoir and it's easy enough to dip the watering can.
Wednesday, June 28
A few weeks ago I was deep in South Philly and I happened to notice this scene. Very Charles Sheeler-like! The friend I was visiting told me it is the back side of Methodist Hospital. I was impressed by how clean and tidy it was, not usually the case for large city institutions, where there is often a pristine front and a trashy back.
Tuesday, June 27
BLOGGING HIGH FIVE
My cousin Keith Carlson of Digital Doorway just gave me a digital high five: he picked "Genre Cookshop" as one of his five currently favorite blogs, and asked me and the others to go and do likewise. I've never done this kind of "tag" thing before, but hey, it is a rainy morning and I have had a little more coffee than usual: let's go!
Hmm, this is actually pretty difficult. There are so many blogs I like! You can see all my favorites over on the side bar where it says "Other Blogs". I'll pick five that are currently the ones I go to first, for a spot of r&r. But this changes constantly.
My Current High Fives:
A Dress a Day
Les Petits Bonheurs
Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down
In glaring contrast to my cousin who (other than this blog) picked all thoughtful, deep, philosophically inclined blogs, mine are more like brain candy I am afraid. Not that these blogs don't have their deep moments, but they are more generally about a visual jolt or a visceral pleasure. But maybe there is certain depth to my shallowness if you know what I mean!
Friday, June 23
Paul was repairing our clothes dryer and Henry made off with an extra length of flexible metal hose. It was a perfect fit for his arm, prompting a long session of innovative sensory play. I am always amazed by what his very different (autistic) sensibility prompts him to discover. Amazed, but sometimes aghast as well. It is one reason we have so many household disasters: we are not prepared for what totally unlikely combinations/associations Henry will make next. This one was relatively harmless, thank goodness.
For PhotoFriday's challenge today of "Health". I couldn't think of anything other than this: a quick shot of the contents of our medicine cabinet. I have heard that peeking in other people's medicine cabinets is a secret hobby for some, so thrill on you folks! (It is pretty underwhelming in my opinion.) Maybe a medicine cabinet connoisseur could start a site where people anonymously post full frontal shots of their medicine cabinet interiors. LookInside.com?
Wednesday, June 21
NO ROCK THROWING
Found this note pinned mysteriously beside Shawna's Stream. Always a good thing to be reminded of I guess. "Let he who is without sin throw the first stone." I mean, rock.
Tuesday, June 20
Henry had dropped down on my lap for a rare snuggle just before bedtime. He was in a manic mood, giggling and squeezing some little squeezey toy, the kind sold for stress reduction. They obviously hadn't factored the power of the autistic squeeze into their product specifications. All of a sudden the squeezey toy burst and a fine shower of powder settled down upon us. Henry thought this was just fine and giggled some more. I called for Paul, who took one look and ran for the camera. He says I should run it as a caption contest, but what kind of caption could sum up THIS situation? If you think of a good one, let me know.
Monday, June 19
TRUE JOY or COSMIC JOKE?
I could hardly believe my eyes this morning when I found that one of my nasturtium plants had broken into bloom! This is WAY early. Just a freak blossoming, as there are no other buds to be seen (believe me I combed over all the plants in turn.) Whatever caused this early bird blossoming I am very grateful. It was a nice consolation gift to receive on THE FIRST DAY OF MY CHILDREN'S SUMMER VACATION!
Either that or the Gods are vindictively taunting me. "Hey Nance, " I can just hear them saying, "You know how you planted all those nasturtium seeds because you really really REALLY want to paint a lot more pictures of nasturtiums? And, you know how you will have just about NO opportunity to paint like all summer long because your kids will be home from school and stuff? And you know how this is the first day of that long vacation? Well...step outside. We have a little surprise for you." (Demonaical laughter)
Saturday, June 17
I love the shape of this mantel clock that belonged to my father's mother. Made by a little known manufacturer, Florn, and not in working order, I think it is of only nominal monetary value (if that!) But of course, I treasure it for other reasons . I have only faint memories of my grandmother who died when I was a young child, so I like having one or two little things around that "speak" of her, if only in their own untranslatable object language. And I also like using Grandma's clock as a character in my still-life paintings. For me, at least, it evokes a benign, ancestral presence.
Friday, June 16
AUTOMOTIVE CHICKEN COOP
This old truck has been re-fitted for the birds. It is now called the "Coop DeVille".
Thursday, June 15
A GIRL AND HER CHICKEN
My friend Pat F keeps chickens, a LOT of chickens, and recently gave me a box of mixed size eggs. I cracked open the littlest one this morning, a tiny little egg laid by a tiny little chicken, the one bantam hen in the flock. I can't remember her name, either Teeny or Banty I think. Anyway, here she is with S., Pat's daughter. Thanks Teeny! It was delicious.
Wednesday, June 14
THAT SUNNY DOME
The atrium of the Kimmel Center yesterday at about noon. Some lines from Coleridge's Kubla Khan kept circling through my head as I gaped at the huge glass vault above me:
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
Tuesday, June 13
PEANUTS IN THE SINK
A new take on an old snacking favorite. We call this presentation "cacahuetes salees au lavabo" (salted peanuts in the bathroom sink.) Nothing is too cutting edge for us here at the Autism Cafe! In fact, our chef, M. Henri, is BEYOND cutting edge. Recall his past culinary inventions: Fried Honey, Oats on Linoleum, Melted Plastic with Cashews, and of course the ever-popular Cream Cheese on Window Glass!
Monday, June 12
(Alternatively, this photo could be called "It's Monday.")
I am sure my neighbors and any passersby think this is The Crazy House, and that both Henry and I are inmates. When he gets into one of these horrible rages, at a certain point we can get him calm enough to take him outside, which seems to help. He sits in this horribly worn out upholstered rocking chair on our porch, keening and also making a strange reverberant hooting noise. I sit next to him, talking to him in a calm voice and occasionally rubbing his shoulders (if he isn't in a particularly violent mood.) But I also take his picture. Lots of pictures. He doesn't seem to mind in the slightest, and somehow taking pictures helps soothe ME, as I am trying to soothe him.
Anyone passing by must wonder what the heck is going on! But, somehow, it works, and Henry and I both feel better after a while.
Saturday, June 10
We had some quickly changing weather yesterday. After a short but violent thunderstorm passed over, the sun came out, shining onto a backdrop of storm-darkened sky. My neighbor's chimney suddenly looked quite dramatic.
Friday, June 9
VERY TEXTURED HOUSE
I took this shot because my attention was attracted by the plants growing on (in?) the front stoop. Which, despite the battered condition of the door, leads one to suspect they don't use that entrance much. I'm entering this post in Photo Friday's challenge "Poverty". Although, when you realize that this place has intact windows, curtains, and a trash can out front, you realize its not as bad as it could be. Everything is relative.
Thursday, June 8
There is something so majestic about a swan, so visually stunning that it almost seems a cliche of The Beautiful! But when I went to a well-known search engine and tried to find a poem about a swan to accompany this image, there were sparse pickings. One by Yeats, that was not applicable due to its being about a flock, one specifically about swans flying (apparently they make a strange shape in flight), some not very memorable amateur efforts accompanying soft-focus pastel photos and oh yeah...lyrics to "Ride a White Swan" by T-Rex. Hmm. Not what I had in mind.
After that long-build up I hate to put forth my own very amateur effort. If anyone knows a good poem about a swan please let me know.
Wednesday, June 7
This look at my nephew H sums up a lot about the fleeting state of babyhood: curiosity, trust, experiencing the world with every sense, total dependence, mess, and, of course, heart-melting cuteness!
Tuesday, June 6
for Henry's autism support class. Not that Henry has mastered the elementary curriculum, but he (and a few others) are just getting too big to have in a mixed age class with teeny little first graders and such. It was a sweet little ceremony and party. Henry loved the musical segment of the program. As soon as the nice music lady pulled out her guitar he got a giddily happy look on his face, and at the first note he began rocking enthusiastically. Here he is shaking a percussion "egg".
Monday, June 5
sketch of a fellow train catcher, done last week in 30th Street Station, Philadelphia. I was breaking in a new sketchbook and I was very pleased to have this sleeping guy pose for me, all unaware.
Friday, June 2
I took this shot about 10 minutes ago: they don't come much fresher than this! I am chicken-sitting for my neighbor Fay, and one of the perks of the job is collecting the fresh eggs.
Thursday, June 1
FROM LAST WEEK
In a photo I keep
the plump froth of peony blooms
in life, now compost.
Buson said it better:
'Peony having scattered,
two or three petals
lie on one another'.
Anyway, many thanks to my friend Amy F. for her generous gift of peonies, whose beauty truly seems beyond description in either word or paint. The camera maybe gets the closest. Just missing the damp feel of the petals and the intense sweet spicy scent.
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