Tuesday, December 30


It is confusing.
Glittering gauzy dream or
a drift of dead stars?

For One Single Impression's prompt, stardust.

Apropos only of the image, if anyone cares to visit the Fairy Name Generator click here for the link. A little gentle fun for the last few days of the year. Mine:
Your fairy is called Berry Goblinfly
She is a bringer of riches and wealth.
She lives in fruit orchards and vineyards.
She is only seen at midday under a quiet, cloudless sky.
She wears red, cerise and purple berry colours. She has gentle green wings like a butterfly.

Thursday, December 25

and a happy Bûche de Noël to all! My friend Nancy Trainer made this sensational confection for our Yule feast: the meringue mushrooms were almost unbelievable in their realism! (There's a bit of a conundrum for you.)

Monday, December 22

Variations on a pfeffernusse theme. From a cookie baking morning with some painter friends, thinking outside the box, er, cookie jar!

Sunday, December 21


a No Hunting sign,
antlered with ice, keeps watch
over frozen fields

For One Single Impression: a winter's day

Wednesday, December 17

and sees something
that makes his hands clench
with cold anxiety.
Wordless, he plucks me by the sleeve
and tries to lead me away.
I laugh and protest,
enjoying the light,
the smell of the bricks and the dirt.
Then I look up and see it too:
the crumbling tower,
the containment netting
bunched like stockings
on an anklebone.
Yes, time to leave.

Friday, December 12

Wednesday was the last day of my Intro to Oils class at the Main Line Art Center, and we all brought in a little something for a celebration. A lot of something actually...it was really a feast!

I'm teaching again next semester, same classes (Life Drawing and Intro to Oils), but it was bittersweet saying goodbye to this lovely, talented group.

Monday, December 1


Far hill, sun struck gold
a land of peace and plenty-
my boots in cold mud


I am thrilled to add three family members' blogs to my Friends and Family Blogroll:


More Creative Life

A Honeymoon to Remember

Perhaps there is a gene that predisposes people to enjoy blogging?

Wednesday, November 26

every day continuing,
each bite a thank you.
The butter is something else-
a brief swipe of joy.

I don't think there is a more welcoming aroma than that of baking bread. At once soothing and heartening, it perfumes the house and those who live there, and those lucky enough to walk in at the right time always start sniffing the air, eyes brightening.

My suggestion of welcoming, is next week's theme over at One Single Impression, the weekly haiku meme. You are very welcome to visit there!

Thursday, November 13

Giorgio Morandi (Italian, 1890–1964)
Still Life (Natura morta), 1956
Oil on canvas; 9 7/8 x 13 7/8 in. (25.2 x 35.2 cm)
Yale University Art Gallery

Just back tonight from seeing the Giorgio Morandi exhibit at the Met. The show had a curiously dim, unassuming air, consistent with Morandi's reputation as a modest (and dusty) man, but in many ways the exhibit absolutely exceeded my expectations. At one point I became aware that I was faintly whimpering with some barely suppressed emotion...and I only realized it because some other show-goer gave me an alarmed look and stepped away smartly! ;-) Oh well. I wandered through the show several times (eventually the friends I was with got bored and went on ahead to lunch) and I would have happily stayed longer.

But we were due in Chelsea to drop off some paintings for the December group show at Sherry French Gallery. I felt a little dizzy later, sitting in Sherry's, discussing show cards and inventory numbers...as though I had just sledded top speed down a high mountain.

Nancy Bea Miller, Creamer, Cake, Coffee, 2008,
oil on canvas laid to board, 9 x 12 inches

Monday, November 10

Young H's soccer team, coached by Paul, just won their league's division championship yesterday! It was a hard-fought game with beautiful team work exhibited by both sides. Our team scored the winning goal in the second half of overtime (!!!!) and I could just feel my hair going gray from anxiety as the minutes mounted. But what unrestrained joy when the whistle blew!

Not untinged with sadness on my part, for the defeated team. I have some great shots of both sides displaying incredible intensity, absolutely playing their hearts out. To come so close to the championship and then lose by a hair...oh man. However, I know this viewpoint is not "right" somehow, and that I am obviously just not a sports person. Except that I do like taking sports photos . And I am thrilled for my guys! Congratulations Patriots!

Saturday, November 8

last weekend, Paul with Henry. Henry is still very babyish in many ways, despite being six foot one and a hundred and eighty-five pounds. He is not quite as tall as Paul, but outweighs him easily. Still likes a "horsey ride" although he will soon be too big for this particular horsey!

Friday, November 7

My entire neighborhood seems to be in the middle of a long, slow, leafy fireworks display. I just cannot believe how beautiful the trees are this year, how intense and varied. And are they usually still flaming so brightly this late into November? This unretouched beauty was seen on my walk this morning.

Tuesday, November 4

Lots of signs, placards and slogans outside the polling place, but when I walked inside I was asked to remove a small political button I was wearing on my jacket. This seemed a bit odd, perhaps even unconstitutional, but I wasn't in the mood for a big brouhaha. I rolled my eyes, removed the button, and then voted. Which, after all, was the main point!

Tuesday, October 28

Parakeet Kiss
claws scrabbling for a stronghold-
sharp bite of the beak

Monday, October 27

the way this little tree looks like it is finally getting its turn on the playground carousel. Now that all the big kids are in school!

Saturday, October 25

This is from the beautiful funeral of my teacher, Louis B. Sloan, who died last week. It was amazing to hear his family and other friends testifying as to his rare character and the huge impact he made on their lives. He was such a wonderful guy. I was too shy to seek out a mentor among my teachers when I was a student, but Lou often reached out the hand of kindness and encouragement to me in a way very few of my other teachers did. It's a difficult business, being an artist, and learning to be an artist is also fraught with peril. People who go out of their way to be kind and helpful appear in memory like angels of light. Such was Lou!

I transferred to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) after a semester at another local art school. At that first place, I asked my painting teacher to show me how to set up my palette and he looked at me and said "Just FEEL where you think the paint should go, m'dear. No need to get too technical." Same for stretching canvases. "Oh just buy them ready-made. We are artists, not artisans!" After less than one month of this gruesome regime I'd had enough, and I secretly sent for an application to PAFA.

Lou was my very first teacher, on my very first day of classes at PAFA and thank heaven for that! Maybe I imprinted on him or something. But he was such a godsend! This was a still-life painting class (landscape came later) and when I confessed very little prior experience of oil painting he calmly took me under his wing, showed me how to set up my palette and clean my brushes and how to stretch and prime a canvas. He recommended books, and places to buy art supplies. And showed me how to accomplish dozens of other such small but important things. He also cheered me on and encouraged me, in his gentle way. I will be forever grateful to him.

My first class with Lou was that still-life painting class, and only a few months ago I myself started teaching a still-life class. It feels like some part of his spirit is with me, or within me, as I teach. Thank you dear Lou!

Friday, October 24

From an Introduction to Drawing class this morning. I had affixed the cast head of Athena to the wall for my class to get a little practice in portrait drawing proportions and after they had practiced on her for a while (they did beautifully!) then I set up the fruits and gourds for a different, more organic type of drawing exercise. It's funny how it ended up looking like a sacramental offering!

Athena is the Goddess of of Wisdom, so it would not be entirely inappropriate for a drawing instructor to make her an offering, would it? She is also the patron Goddess of Craftsmen and Artisans, so maybe I should lend her to my husband Paul to hang up in his furniture design shop!

Monday, October 20


A Papillon meets a Springer Spaniel...oh dear! They went nose to nose outside the Lupine Gallery on Monhegan Island. I never saw so many people bringing their dogs with them on vacation as I did on Monhegan. Although the booklet published by the Island Association suggests that pets should be left at home, it seemed as though every third visitor had a dog on a leash. Perhaps the island has been listed in Dog Fancy magazine or some such publication as an ideal place to vacation with your pet?

As I myself did not have to break up dog fights or pick up dog droppings, I enjoyed the continual canine showcase. They are such beautiful creatures. In fact, I took so many shots of dogs that I could easily put together a photo calendar called Dogs of Monhegan!

Sunday, October 19


Painting in the graveyard,
overlooking the busy town
and the endless sky

I heard today that my first (and only) landscape painting teacher, Louis B. Sloan, died just a few days ago. Although Lou was getting up there in years (I think he was 78) he was as active as ever. In fact, I was told that he died very suddenly as he was preparing to go out for a day of autumn painting with students. What a wonderful man, gifted artist and devoted teacher. I can just see Lou settling down before a canvas in heaven with a happy sigh. "Now that's beautiful!"

Louis B. Sloan, Self-Portrait in a Field of Flowers, oil on canvas, 40 x 50 inches

Friday, October 17

doesn't only mean gold and red. Today it was my turn to go out to the farm and collect my CSA group's weekly boxes of produce (and incredibly delicious cider!) As an added bonus, the person who drives out gets to pick a bouquet from the Cut-Your-Own patch. At this time of year it is mostly all Cosmos, in gorgeous hot pink and magenta.

Wednesday, October 15

It's that time of year! I was inspired by a blog friend, Sandy of Gardenpath, who talked about it here.

Tuesday, October 14

I've decided to go back to my old bread-baking ways, at least for a while. Unfortunately, in the decade or so that has passed since any regular bread-baking I have lost the old, esoteric cook-book from which came my basic all-purpose bread recipe. Any suggestions for a good, basic sandwich bread recipe?

Yesterday I used the "Wheat Bread" recipe from my Breadman recipe book, and I even made the dough in the machine, but then baked it in a pan in the oven, to get the loaf shape I wanted. It came out fine, and the house smelled like heaven, but it seems a waste to run the oven for 40 minutes for one rather small loaf of bread. My old recipe made two large loaves, one of which I would freeze. And I always enjoyed the alchemy of the bubbling yeast and the various kneading and risings...since I work at home and take frequent breaks, the timing of old-fashioned bread baking is not a problem.

In this picture you can see the bread being made ready for the nightly lunch box routine. If anyone reading this has a good sandwich bread recipe, please let me know!

Monday, October 13

My blog friend Renny Amundsen, of RennyBA's Terella, recently sent me a parcel of Norwegian things as part of his ongoing intercultural gift exchange. Renny's motto is "Make Blogs, Not War!" and he is something like an international blogging diplomat! In the package I found a grotesquely cute little Troll, a CD of very fine Norwegian Classical Music and a box of candy: some chewy mints (yum!) What a lovely surprise it all was. Tusen takk, Renny!

Now I have to think of some cultural goodies to send to him! US culture is so wildly divergent, making it a little harder in some ways, but I will do my best.

Sunday, October 12

Never thought I'd see a sign for gluten-free cookies outside our local French bakery! C'est vraiment incroyable! What can this mean for la cuisine française!?

It was a golden autumn morning in our little town. Normally, being a late riser, I would never have seen it this early, but young H signed us up to sell popcorn for his Scout troop and we got the first-thing-in-the-morning shift. Turned out to be very pleasant. Of course, I had to go home afterward and take a nap! (Still recovering from bronchitis.)

Friday, October 10

Taken two weekends ago at the Philadelphia Dragon Boat Festival. This was the winning boat in the first race: they were simply amazing and beat their competition handily, but I don't know the name of their team. The Super Uber Dragon Slayers or something like that I suppose.

My team was less about winning and more about the pleasure of being on the river, being together and raising a little money for charity (Ronald McDonald House): in other words, we lost every heat we paddled in. It was totally fun anyway! I think we are partly handicapped by our name which is The Dragon Ladies. A coach who once came out to watch a practice and advise us urged us to stop being so lady-like and really get down into it but I am afraid that is simply not the team zeitgeist. (At one meeting I jokingly suggested that we change our name to The Dragon Bitches, but only one person laughed, so you get the idea!)

Still, winning the races or not is almost beside the point on a morning as beautiful as this one was. It felt like a crown of laurels, just being there on the river in the glorious glow of morning light.

P.S. Sorry for the lag in posting. The whole family has been sick with a terrible cold virus (possible even an early flu) going down with it at staggered intervals, toppling into illness like feverish dominoes, one after another. My cold then evolved into bronchitis, just for a little extra fun and variety. On the mend now (knock on wood!)

Sunday, September 28


The baby's warm foot,
dangling free: round, fragrant, soft-
next spring running hard.


My prompt, fleeting, is this week's theme over at One Single Impression, a haiku writer's hang-out. It's interesting to see other people's interpretations of the theme. Why not join in the fun?

Friday, September 26

I remembered that my friend Eliza used to have a pug, and still has a fondness for the breed. So I called out to her when I saw the pugs from the window. Eliza hurried out of the house and in no time at all I was watching a spontaneous frenzy of pug love.

Thursday, September 25

is what I started calling it in my mind after these two showed up in their ATV. You never saw a cuter pair of pooches, and well-behaved too. This is actually Fish Beach on Monhegan Island. I was painting a picture out a second floor window of the house we were renting when these two pugs and their people arrived to steal my attention away momentarily.

Friday, September 19

The Incredible Sunset
over Manana, was one of the highlights of my recent trip to Monhegan Island. My friend Alex and I had been painting deep in the interior of the island, in Cathedral Woods, and lost track of time. Gradually we realized it was getting too dark in there to paint, so being reasonably satisfied with our efforts, we packed up and made our way out. Only to realize that while we'd been painting shadowy gloom and chiaroscura in the woods, a fantastic spectacle of light was being mounted above us!

Despite knowing we were already late for dinner, we stashed our painting gear in a convenient shrub and then positively ran up the steep Lighthouse Hill (no small feat), eager to get the best vantage point. And how incredibly beautiful it was! There were a dozen other glow hunters up there with us, and all of us with beatific smiles on our faces, as we watched the sun gently roll into the sea.

Monday, September 15


What chance threw these seeds
on this rockpile - roots gripping,
sharp leaves raised to fight?

Sunday, September 14


I came back just last night from a week of painting on Monhegan Island, Maine. My friend Mary W. who was part of the group of painter friends renting the island house with me, pointed out that it was really a business trip, and of course she is right! Lots of hard work: hiking around and painting like mad. I was out working from first light to last light most days (we did have a couple of foggy/rainy days thanks to the tail end of a hurricane or two but I painted inside then.) I did not keep track of how many pieces I was doing while I was there, but today I unpacked the pictures and set them all up on my studio easel to have a look and see that I have fifteen studies. Stalin was referring to Russian tank production during WWII when he said "Quantity has a quality all its own." but I think it applies equally well to plein air painting!

Wednesday, September 3

I started my day with this beautiful meal. My friend Ellie invited me over for breakfast and I thought we'd have a cup of coffee and share a toasted bagel or something. I never expected this gorgeous repast, which truly made me feel like an honored guest. I have to say I was happy for the rest of the day whenever I thought of it. The power of the place setting!

Tuesday, September 2


white tigers striping
the turquoise dome of heaven-
stretching, yawning wide.

Somewhere an emperor
looks for his lost white tigers-
peering up anxiously


First day of school for all three of my boys! Three different schools, so three different lots of papers to fill in and sign, and three different lists of necessities to procure. I also went to my own school today. I will be teaching two classes at the Main Line Art Center. So I had my own lot of papers to fill in and sign, and my own classroom tour to take, in preparation. My classes don't start till the 16th. But despite the jewel-like weather, summer is definitely over. Change is in the air!

Monday, September 1

Here is Henry gravely concerned about cable thickness regulation as we ascend Wildcat Mountain by gondola. We seem to have a bit of a history of pushing Henry into small box-like containers that then fly high into the air. It is amazing really how much Henry trusts us, allowing us to persuade him into these situations that don't look fun or safe. He always ends up enjoying them hugely (last year's ferris wheel experience) or at least tolerating them (last week's gondola ride.) But I am honored, and a little humbled, by his wary trust.

Sunday, August 31


water running down,
hurling itself wildly down-
heads and hearts lift up


Apologies for the gap in posts. It was an enormous effort to get my paintings off to New York and down to Philadelphia in time for their respective show deadlines (see post below or go to my news blog for more details) followed instantaneously by a long (10 hour) drive north to New Hampshire, visiting with family and reveling in all the craggy glory of that landscape. Then home again, to pack Henry's trunk and other necessaries for boarding school, where we delivered him today. I might as well mention that we also had house guests, simultaneous with much of this. As soon as we got home from taking Henry to school, Paul went off to play soccer and I fell down on the couch in a stupor. We all handle the feeling of depleted exhaustion differently I guess!

Tuesday, August 19

am I doing to these paintings? I am placing them in the sun to speed up the drying process a little. Not really the greatest technique in the world but needs must when the devil drives. Or in other words...I have two imminent show deadlines and simply no time to waste sitting about watching paint dry! How do I get myself into these deadline crunches I have no idea but thank goodness for sunny weather!

The two deadlines are for a small one-person show in Philadelphia:

New Work
September 3 to September 28, 2008
Artists' House Gallery
57 North Second Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 923-8440

and a group show in New York City:

Mainly Maine
September 3rd thru 27th, 2008
Sherry French Gallery
601 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10001-1101

Saturday, August 16

Holey Cosmos!
What IS the true nature of good and evil? And while we are at it, has there ever been such a summer for garden pests? I garden organically, in fact, so passively and organically that after planting I pretty much leave the plants to fend for themselves with very minimum involvement from me. I guess I have just been lucky in the past...but this summer has more than made up for it. Squash bugs, Tomato Hornworms, Cucumber Mosaic Virus...you name it, it has made my little garden its home away from home. Even my parsley seems to be in the middle of devastation from caterpillars that look like the type that develop into Monarch Butterflies...staying my vengeful hand. And cycling back to the original question here!

Tuesday, August 12

He is 80 today! A very rare shot of the designated photographer and her father (the designated photographer emeritus.)

Wednesday, August 6

I collect pull tabs...lots of them. I keep an empty glass jar on my counter and when it is full up, I screw on the lid, put it away and bring out another. Even when I am traveling, I squirrel away the tabs I use or find, usually a little surreptitiously as people tend to poke fun at me for doing this. If I only had a dollar for everyone who told me, with a mixture of pity and humor on their faces, that "It's a myth you can donate these to charity!"

Which leads me to an interesting concept: a myth about a myth. Because, actually, it is NOT a myth! My local middle school sponsors a drive to collect the pull tabs each spring, and then donates them to Ronald MacDonald house. (Of course, I collect all year round so I am well-prepared for the drive!) Stung by the condescending tone of the Myth Criers, I've researched the subject as thoroughly as I can, and unless several key school, local and national charity officials are all caught up in some some mass delusion: they really do collect these, they really do make money from them, and they really do use the money to help fund this excellent charitable institution! Click here for more information.

Here's a photo of my most recent collection, bolstered by a zip-loc bag of tabs collected by a sweet friend of mine who, when I explained why I was rather shamefacedly sneaking the tab off her old diet coke can, immediately started collecting them for me herself!

Monday, August 4

but this time not so far afield. We went to visit friends who are renting a house at Cape May Point. They invite us every year and we always enjoy the visit. This year we were particularly lucky in perfect weather and also in the perfect viewing conditions at the Cape May nature preserve, which some years is so thickly grown with reeds and cattails that it makes walking the paths like walking through a maze. This year we got vistas! It was a lovely day. That little black blob is a red-winged blackbird sitting in the topmost branch of a tree.

I'm reminded of how every year a painter acquaintance of mine barters for a week's "rental" of a friend's vacation home (nobody I know unfortunately!) The vacation-home-owning folks always request a painting of the vacation house or its environs, which are all apparently stunningly beautiful. My acquaintance is happy to magic up the required painting between bouts of relaxing and family fun. What a sweet deal for all involved...although I suppose how sweet depends on how nice the vacation house is and how art-loving its owners are. Anyway, if anyone is interested in attempting a similar barter, you know how to contact me! ;-)

Friday, August 1


She looks up at me
pink nose quivering: is this
food or foe? (or both?)

I was visiting my old college friend Liz C. on her farm last week. She and her husband had just taken delivery of a pair of Gloucester Old Spotted pigs! I have to say, it was pretty exciting. Equally exciting, to me at least, is that my friend decided to start her own blog. Please welcome Pigs Gourds and Wikis!

Tuesday, July 22

Visiting friends in the Berkshires, and we walked over the Bridge of Flowers today in lovely Shelburne Falls.

And a big bad hornet on some flourishing Sea Holly.

Tuesday, July 15

lettuces, herbs and french radishes. I have France on my mind again lately, as I've been hearing from my two INSEAD friends: Janet's family is packing up to leave after their sabbatical and Sonia and her family are coming to town! Unfortunately I think they will visit just after the last of my radish crop, otherwise I would serve them:

Belgian Tartine

(recipe slightly adapted from Lynne's at La Tartine Gourmande)

A tartine is an open-faced sandwich, usually made with coarse country bread spread with fresh cheese and topped with fresh vegetables or herbs.

Use grainy, sturdy country-style bread. When buying the cheese, sample for a clean, creamy-yet-tangy fromage frais (French for fresh cheese). In the U.S. you may have to substitute thick sour cream or Greek Yogurt (full-fat version.) Here's how to make a tartine:

* 1 large slice whole-grain country bread, cut about 1/2-inch thick
* About 2 ounces Fromage Frais (substituting as necessary)
* 3 thin-sliced radishes
* Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

1. Spread the bread with the cheese. Fan radish slices over the cheese and sprinkle with coarse salt and a grind of black pepper as desired.

2. Serve the tartine on a large plate and eat American style with your fingers, or Belgian style with a knife and fork.