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
Monday, July 31
First the dryer crashed, causing a small house fire (hence the laundry line). Now the washer gave up the ghost in a flood of soapy water. Fire, flood..what's next? A plague of locusts in the refrigerator?
Sunday, July 30
'Tis the season for vacation postcards! I love getting them, and they receive pride of place on the refrigerator for months on end. Sadly, we have not received that many this year, as folks now have computer access world-wide and are abandoning the humble postcard in favor of e-mailing jpegs of their holiday. Which are also nice to get, very nice, but they don't have the tactile thrill of actual cardboard, stamp and postmark. If it is from another country and sports a blue "Par Avion" or "Luftpost" warning, even better!
Saturday, July 29
Just discovered this interesting site, Studio Friday. A fun way to peek into other artist's studios. This week's theme is "Studio Music".
While taking this picture, I suddenly realized that I have devoted an entire table top to my player, cds and tapes. An incredible percentage of my available work space, considering my studio is so tiny! Seems to be pretty important to lots of artists, too, although studio listening tastes are incredibly individual. I have several friends who listen exclusively to classical music while they work, and I thought that was the norm till I looked at the Studio Friday posts which showed an enormous range of tastes. Personally I dislike classical music in the studio, except once in a blue moon I want to hear some medieval chants or renaissance madrigals. (Are those even considered classical?)
I can't believe anyone is really much interested in my musical taste, which is uneducated and eclectic (ignorant and random, really). But it seems to be a requisite part of the "Studio Friday" challenge. So, here is a sampling of one tottering pile: Tom Petty, The Cars, Joan Armitrading, The Talking Heads, Semi-Sonic, Anonymous Four, Leonard Cohen, Paul Pena, Lucinda Williams, Philip Glass, Olla Belle. And there are many other piles. I also like listening to college courses on cd, particularly anything to do with philosophy. I don't retain much, but following along with the discourse distracts me agreeably from what my hand is doing with the brush. This vastly improves my technique!
Friday, July 28
My lovely sister-in-law Lisa and my nephew M. They were watching my parents cut their 50th Wedding Anniversary cake. What an achievement (the fifty years I mean)! The cake was pretty fantastic, too, though, huge and luscious. Of course I took a slice home and painted its portrait. For the past few years, I have been quietly obsessed with event cakes (and I'm having a little show of this obsession in October!) I guess to me, they represent a kind of communion: everyone gathered together for some purpose, the presentation of the cake heralds the celebratory announcement or song, then a ritual slicing and mass partaking.
Thursday, July 27
It seems fitting that this mural of Jackie Robinson is WAY larger than life. When I went with H's third grade class on a Philadelphia Mural Project tour, this was the one voted by the boys on the bus as their favorite. I particularly like the way the little cap on the building's chimney echoes Robinson's baseball cap. I think you are supposed to notice it because see the splash of aqua paint up there?
This mural was designed by David McShane, who was a few years ahead of me in art school. He has an incredible talent, and also has had the courage to go with his "bliss" as they say and formulate a quirky and appealing style that is all his own. I went to his last show at Artists' House Gallery, and his smaller works, still mostly sports-themed, were amazing. He added small pieces of collage into some of the paintings to startling effect.
For Theme Thursday's Challenge: Sports!
Wednesday, July 26
Sometimes there is more to them than you might think.
Tuesday, July 25
Seems like everyone in my neighborhood is growing hibiscus this summer. We live in the Northeast US, so I expect hollyhocks, rudbeckia and hydrangea, not these huge, exotic-looking blossoms. They are so in-your-face lets-go-to-a-luau! Ironically, this one was growing behing the drugstore where I went to drop off my prescription for antibiotics this morning. About as non lets-go-to-a-luau an occasion as can be imagined.
Saturday, July 22
Just returned from dragging my sick carcass over to the local drugstore, where I had a little pity party all for myself. Just me and my credit card. I will say, the cashier was very nice to me as I stood there racked with coughing and bleary of eye. He even offered to double bag without my having to ask. I guess it doesn't sound like much, but when you are feeling low, every little kindness is magnified!
I hate being sick, who doesn't? And I used to think that the very worst thing was being a sick mother of sick children. That IS a pretty bad experience. But for sheer bleakness, try being a sick mother home alone for a long weekend with your low-functioning autistic preteen while husband is away with the other two kids at a family reunion several thousand miles away! Hard to beat for depressing horribleness. Well, at least I can blog about it.
Sorry for all the whining. Obviously, I want my mommy. Who lives a couple hundred miles away and is not in good health herself. Sometimes being a grown-up really sucks. But at least I can go buy myself sick stuff! And I'll probably feel better tomorrow. Time to get off that self-pity train!
Friday, July 21
A COMMON SIGHT
in downtown Philadelphia, the ubiquitous lunch truck! Or booth or stand or whatever. Also common is the friendly good-nature of those who work in them. Why, I don't know. It cannot be much fun to stand in a hot cramped booth all day. The cookshop chef gets snarly when there are too many people (i.e. any) distracting her in her kitchen. Which was once described by a poetical-minded contractor as not only just eat-in size but waltz-in! (He was a little over-optimistic but still...) These lunch truck chefs are taking orders, preparing food, making change and keeping up cheerful conversation all at the same time, in a confined space. What talent!
Thursday, July 20
Visited my friend Eliza at her summer place yesterday. A cottage right at the mouth of an estuary, dripping with unstudied charm. However, as there is neither an air conditioner nor a fan in the entire place, in hot weather its inhabitants are also dripping with...well, you know. In Victorian times they would be described as glowing gently. So Eliza has come up with various menus that don't necessitate the oven being turned on. She fixed this dessert for us lucky visitors yesterday, and it tasted as good as it looked. Or maybe even better.
I graham cracker crust
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Beat cream cheese till fluffy
2.Mix in other filling ingredients
3. Pour into the graham cracker crust
4.Chill in refrigerator till firm (at least four hours)
5.Gently press fruit onto the surface, in whatever combination appeals to you.
You can tell that Eliza is an artist by profession, as the pie is so beautiful. But it would probably be hard for anyone to go wrong: fruit is just plain decorative. For this pie, there were thin slices of kiwi underneath blueberries and raspberries. Yum!
Tuesday, July 18
This garden of clay heads is the destination of one of our weekly family bike rides. A local university has a flourishing fine arts department, and there is an area behind one of the buildings where they always put the freshman portrait sculptures out to air dry. Somehow, Paul discovered this treasure trove, and we often ride out to visit it. There is always a fine crop.
CAT IN THE BOX
I tossed this long shallow box on the landing meaning to carry it out to the trash later. Before I could, Daisy claimed it. She has never before been much interested in any kind of bed, box or basket, no matter how temptingly I padded it or even sprinkled it with catnip. But this box, meant for the trash, fits all her mysterious cat requirements. She adores it. What Would Martha Stewart Do?
Monday, July 17
is upon us. Henry is communing with our high tech air conditioning system: a fan. I have friends coming to stay from San Diego (land of the perfect climate) and I pity them in advance.
Saturday, July 15
CLOUDS IN BONDAGE
The skies have been truly remarkable lately, due to unsettled weather conditions. While Paul was driving us somewhere the other day, I could see the shifting patterns of light and shadow on the road. We paused at a stop sign and I basically just stuck the camera out of the window and pointed up. This is what I got, and this scene seems very symbolic to me of life's struggle and joy. Or else not. At least, you could just say it is pretty!
Wednesday, July 12
Four of us (minus the camp-going son) recently visited the Smithsonian Museum of American History in Washington D.C. At first we were reluctant to bring Henry along, museums are often a bore or else a sensory overload for him, making it torturous for us. So the plan was for me to stay poolside with him, while Paul and H did the museum visit. But then we realized the Folk Life Festival was happening on the Mall, right outside the museum and we decided we would all go into the city and I could wander the food booths and live music venues with Henry . (Live music is one of Henry's favorite things on earth.) Constant adaptation and flexibility is one lesson we are continually having drummed into us by our zen master, Henry!
However, even our modifed plan was modified when we pulled up in front of the museum, planning to split up, and Henry charged towards the museum entrance, giggling merrily. "OK", we said to each other, a little grimly, "We'll try it." And, actually, it went beautifully! The museum has changed dramatically since I was there as a kid, and all for the better. Henry loved wandering through the place and looking at the attractive displays. He seemed delighted with everything, and his enthusiasm was infectous. He was as interested in the way the exhibits were lit as he was in the exhibits, often staring up, transfixed by the constellations of lights overhead. And when you stop and look, they ARE very interesting, and obviously a lot of thought and design expertise has gone into this aspect of a show, and it is something I never think about otherwise. We did get some funny looks from people wondering why Henry was smiling delightedly at the ceiling but I noticed that sometimes these folks would glance up too, and then they'd say "Well, would you look at that!"
Monday, July 10
OLD AND NEW
I came downstairs this morning to find my oldest digital camera and my latest digital camera nestling up to each other. No idea how they got like this, so I guess toys DO move around in the night as children have long suspected. It was so sweet that I had to take a picture (with my "inbetween" digital camera.) The purple plastic argus was a gift from my older brother Bruce, who gave it to me saying, "Here, I think you should do a photo blog." My response was, "What's a blog?" Of course that was almost three years ago. Seems like a distant lifetime.
P.S. Happy Birthday Bruce!
Friday, July 7
A BEAUTIFUL MOMENT
This morning a friend was telling me about how she equates the concept of Beauty with an idyllic summer she spent many years ago, working and living in a seaside community. We didn't have time to delve deeper, but I think she was speaking about the totality of the experience on every level, as well as just the physical beauty of her environment. A sustained experience of harmony, or flow, or ch'i. Let's just call it beauty.
Beauty before me, I walk with.
Beauty behind me, I walk with.
Beauty above me, I walk with.
Beauty below me, I walk with.
Beauty all around me, I walk with.
-Navajo Night Chant
Thursday, July 6
We took oldest son P down a few states to summer camp last weekend. His first time at sleepaway camp. He did all the research, showed us the website and practically guided our hands to sign the application forms he had downloaded! I guess he really wanted a break. And once I saw the camp I wanted a break too! It looked so nice. This camp tries to foster international understanding by having one of the two counselors for each bunk come from another country. They fly that counselor's flag in front of each bunk, and in P's bunk the co-counselor is from Australia. I saw British, Danish and Turkish flags on the bunks nearby, and we were only in the 12 year old boy section!
Seeing the beautiful camp grounds and looking at the schedule full of fun activities and relaxation opportunities, made me wish there was a family camp program for families like ours that includes someone with cognitive disabilities. It would have lots of therapeutic support staff on hand and also certain scheduled programs for the special kids. That way the family could both have a little respite, and also some fun, worry-free times all together. What a fantasy, huh?
Tuesday, July 4
and a merry smokebomb to all!
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