Friday, September 28

is today's theme at Photo Friday. Maybe you'd be surprised to learn that the little boy in this photo has autism. In fact, my own autistic son, Henry, is so affectionate that this delayed his diagnosis...learned doctors would frown, puzzled, and say "Well, he has many of the symptoms of autism, but he's just too affectionate!" Hmm. Here is my friend Katie getting a reassuring hug from her sweet son J during some fleeting moment of anxiety. So much for the myth of refrigerator mothers and their unemotional autistic children.


out of nowhere
from my three-year-old.
In the softness
of his encircling arms,
and velvet cheek
pressed to my side,
I thought, please,
in times ahead
of anger, pain,
and disappointment,
when fate crushes,
love wounds,
and friends betray,
let me recall
this moment as
a blanket around my heart.

~Ann Reisfeld Boutte

Thursday, September 27

is the topic of today's Theme Thursday. While I hate to be one of those people who holds you captive while showing endless shots of their recent vacation, I just had to use this lovely bridge I photographed on Mount Desert Island during last week's painting trip to Maine.

By the way, the cook at Genre Cookshop was delighted to receive this little badge of honor the other day for the Thinking Blogger Award. The talented Alex Shur of Winged Heels gave GC this compliment, many thanks! Less appealing is that I'm now supposed to name five other people I think should receive the award. This is a task about which I feel very wary: the according of laurels. I was once invited (and paid!) to be a judge at an art show, and it was some of the hardest work I ever did. (I think I lost about three pounds that day from nerves and sweat and stress.) Making the task more difficult, many of the blogs I frequent have already received this Thinking Blogger Award. I'm a little late joining the party (what else is new?) so I would have to research whom amongst my favorite blogs has not yet gotten one of these. If I can handle it, I'll come back with my five honorees later.

Monday, September 24

A friend's brother planted a beautiful garden at her summer house, studded throughout with these amazing rosebushes. They have upright, prickly canes and abundant stiff foliage supporting clusters of blossoms with the deepest, most intense fragrance imaginable. Their perfume caught at the back of my throat with hot little hands. I asked my friend if these were Damask Roses, whose perfume is legendary, but she did not know, and her brother has since passed away. What an incredible memorial he left behind him, this garden of anonymous, exquisite fragrances...

Friday, September 21

of the beach from a cliff path. This is Sand Beach in Acadia National Park. My friends and I were happily painting in front of The Beehive, when clouds and fog came rolling in with startling swiftness. People who'd been sunning themselves on the beach in bikinis slipped back into jeans and hooded sweatshirts, mothers started herding their offspring away from the gray water and we painters packed up our gear with lightning speed. Everyone seemed remarkably cheerful and stoic about the sudden change in the weather. "Well, now, that's just Maine for you!" I heard someone say with an easy laugh.

Thursday, September 20


needing an excuse
for chocolate and vanilla-
I bake the month a cake

(And my boys were very very happy.)

Wednesday, September 19

But now I'm back. I went away painting in Maine with a bunch of artist friends for a week. It was incredible. I feel that I am still trailing garlands of pine needles and peering through veils of salt fog, as I re-adjust to life back home.

Good thing I wasn't gone for for two weeks, I guess!

Nancy Bea painting at Long Pond, Maine photo: Alexandra Tyng

Wednesday, September 12

The House by the Side of the Road
By Sam Walter Foss

"He was a friend to man, and lived
In a house by the side of the road."
-- Homer

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the place of their self-content;
There are souls like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
Where highways never ran-
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man...

Let me live in my house by the side of the road-
It's here the race of men go by.
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish- so am I;
Then why should I sit in the scorner's seat,
Or hurl the cynic's ban?
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Excerpt of the poem by Sam Walter Foss

Tuesday, September 11


alabaster lamb,
strayed from its graveside home-
crying green moss tears

(thinking of the terrible events that happened nearby, only six years ago. Ushering in a new, more fearsome world.)

Monday, September 10

but I bet it's delicious. I was at Chanticleer Garden over the weekend, and they had a row of heirloom tomatoes growing. I can't remember this one's name, something like Lion's Paw? I don't really think it was ugly at all, but today's Moody Monday theme is ugly, and I thought I could shoehorn this image into that category. I'd love to paint one of these intriguingly ribbed, ugly-beauties! And yeah, then eat it up with a little basil and a dribble of balsamic vinegar...mmm. Maybe I like to paint food because that way I can "have my cake (or tomato) and eat it too"!

After a summer of almost no oil painting I found myself doing four paintings in two days! Admittedly, they were very small and quick. This one is only 4 inches high by 6 inches wide. A friend invited members of our art group to paint at her family's vacation house near the town of New Hope. It was so beautiful and peaceful...the perfect way to sink once more into the bliss of painting after a summer of near abstinence.

And today, another painter friend and I tried out her plan to go sketching in the woods with her dog along. It worked beautifully! It was odd for me because when I was a child I had imaginary dogs that kept me company on the long lonely walk to school. I was always a little nervous about the half mile trek alone through the silent backyards and creepy cul-de-sacs of suburbia and so I invented a trio of canine companions to help me feel safer. This experience of painting with a real dog in tow was so much like my childhood imaginings that it actually felt a little surreal! But pleasantly so. Here is the handsome Attila guarding our artistic endeavors.

Friday, September 7

is the theme of PhotoFriday today. I was momentarily's not a color I have a lot of in my life. Then I remembered meeting the wonderful Beth Krush at a brunch last month, and that she was wearing a gorgeous purple sweater. You probably know Beth, even if you think you don't. She and her husband Joe are well-known illustrators, and their many projects include The Borrowers, that redoubtable children's classic. The books are very well written of course, but I've always thought that the fantastic illustrations really make the books come alive, amplify and enlarge the text to such a degree, that I can't imagine the books with any other illustrations but those by the Krushes.

So how absolutely appropriate it is that Beth is wearing purple, the color of royalty. In my mind she is a queen amongst illustrators.

Thursday, September 6

but loving it. Paul and I took Henry on the big ferris wheel at Knoebel's Grove last week. It was Henry's first experience with a ferris wheel. At first he did not understand. He followed us into the little compartment, docile as a lamb. Then the gears started grinding and we swung upwards and he had a moment of terror...and so did Paul and I imagining him breaking free of our restraining grasps and hurling himself "overboard" driven by unreasoning blind fear.

"Maybe this wasn't such a good idea!" I panted to Paul, locking my arms round Henry's knees, as we soared higher and higher into the sky. "Just wait and see. I think he'll like it!" puffed Paul, tightening his death grip on Henry's shoulders. And, Paul was right. Once Henry grasped the gestalt of the whole experience, only a few seconds, he relaxed, and then became almost incandescent with pleasure. He had the most curious look on his face, an expression I had never seen before. I tried in vain to catch it with my camera but it was so evanescent, so fleeting. It came and went across his face and I never did click the shutter at exactly the right moment. It was a look that I can only describe as ineffable wonder and delight. How can this be? the look seemed to say, I don't understand this...but I love it! Is it really happening?

We took him on many other rides that day, but this was the one he kept leading us back to. The ride into the sky.

Wednesday, September 5

My butternut squash is still hoping to make more babies. However, with the nights getting cooler and the days getting shorter, I think it's a little too late. I love the bristly, blowsy, blossoms nonetheless.

In an enclosure at Knoebel's Grove. She couldn't fly but she was still very awe-inspiring as she went for a mouse or chipmunk creeping through her territory. Despite being several yards away, behind a sturdy netted fence, we all stepped back involuntarily when she attacked.

Tuesday, September 4

Well, the cornets really. Anyway, today was the first day of school! Most mothers, as much as they adore their chidren, are walking around with big smiles on their faces. I think many children are secretly glad, too, end of summer boredom having started to set in.