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
Wednesday, April 30
For a brief span of time yesterday our fruit basket held only the clearest brightest colors! No apples with streaky rust-colored skins, or brown spotted bananas. Just these fruits which look almost fake in their primary coloration and shiny skinned perfection. Of course, I had to go grocery shopping and this state of intense Lilly Pulitzer-like coloration didn't last long.
Hey, I am fast approaching my 1,000 post! Instead of making me want to post ever-more frantically, this realization has made me want to slow down and savor the big moment. I really can hardly believe it.
Wednesday, April 23
I have been really busy getting ready for a one-person show in New York. Today I used so many different brushes (26) that I had to wash them in two separate batches with a tea break in between! It's very tiring and time-consuming. This is why famous and/or rich artists have studio assistants.
I may not have a studio assistant but I do have an awfully cute rubber ducky nail brush!
Tuesday, April 22
Many autistic people engage in stimming, a repetitive movement or behavior that seems to calm and satisfy them. Henry has always had a rather unusual one...one of his early developmental doctors called it "La Cucaracha" because it looks a little the way one might look when engaged in that dance. One arm flung behind his head ,the other hand brought up in front of his face and either flapping or holding something and shaking it, like this rain stick.
The stimming is not a bad thing we decided early on, despite a lot of debate pro and con. Now, people with autism who can communicate are describing stimming in terms of pleasure and relief. Very occasionally though, Henry's stimming will segue into an intense perseveration, or unbreakable focus, and then he will be crying in anguish as he repeats the same thing over and over again unable to stop. Then we step in and break it up, but fortunately these occasions are rare.
Perhaps blogging and other web activities are a kind of stim? Most of the time blogging is a relief and a pleasure, but there are certainly times when I wish someone would come and tear me away from the computer for my own good!
Sunday, April 20
PAINTING IN THE COUNTRY
Glossy horse trots by,
muscles rippling and bunching:
my brush hesitates
Saturday, April 19
I was painting yesterday in the Brandywine River Conservancy. Without realizing it at first, I had "set up shop" just across a dirt road from what turned out to be a Bluebird nest box. I have to admit, the birds were very distracting. I'd be painting away when a flash of vivid blue would catch my eye and I'd just have to look at what Bluebird père was up to. Bluebird mère was less flashily attractive, in fact she looked pretty dull and bedraggled, but her actions were equally interesting as she was engaged in constant defense of her nest. Dozens of small birds (martens?) were making multiple attempts to enter the nesting box, but to no avail. The bluebirds were obviously a united couple in defending their young. It looked pretty exhausting, but I guess that is parenthood for you!
I also have a new appreciation for bird photographers. My Nikon ran out of battery before I'd gotten a good descriptive shot of the birds, and this one was taken with my little purse camera. It was so blurry I had to put on a few art filters. But that blue of the bluebird's back! It is like nothing else on earth.
Monday, April 14
vegetables lining up
for their short sharp dance
with the knife
Friday, April 11
a breath destroys me-
but my seeds will travel far,
my roots dig down deep
Thursday, April 10
When your son is six feet tall and fourteen years old but enjoys playing on the toddler playground...well, you start figuring out when the toddlers won't be there. The children themselves are cool with my big little guy, but sometimes their moms seem a little nervous. It's totally understandable, but wearing on the spirit. Not on Henry's spirit though, he doesn't even notice. Sometimes I wish I could be a little more like him!
Wednesday, April 9
Rare Ape House
echoing hallways, sharp smells-
the stoic waiting.
Tuesday, April 8
It was a wonderful family weekend at Henry's school, Camp Hill at Beaver Run. Included in Saturday's activity schedule was group Land Work: community members, parents and students spent a couple of hours doing various outdoor tasks, culminating with a bonfire of some of the dead brush we'd cleared. It was astonishing to me that his school people have told us, over and over, what a good worker Henry is...something I'd not seen myself. But apparently, he enjoys the hard physical outdoor labor (of which there is never an end on the sprawling school campus) and, with supervision, works usefully, happily and uncomplainingly. This is almost incredible if you knew how very...um, well, lazy, he can be at home! Perhaps unmotivated is a more appropriate word. This boy has tracked me down at the opposite end of the house or down in the farthest reaches of the garden to hand me a juice box to open for him: something he can actually do by himself but doesn't like doing. I'm not sure if that would be considered motivated or lazy!
Anyway, I did finally get to see Henry-the-worker in action. I was astonished and delighted to watch him toiling away cheerfully as promised. What a rush of parental pride! Unfortunately, at times during the weekend our family's presence filled him with confusion. We usually show up at the school on weekends to take him home, and he kept trying to lead us to the car so we could leave. As he is essentially non-verbal I am only guessing what he was thinking, but I suspect it was something like: "OK, enough with all this land work and music-making! Let's go home and watch the opening credits to The Wiggles 439 times in a row!" (This love of repetition is a common autism characteristic and is called perseveration.) He was temporarily pacified by a listen to Paul's i-tunes.
Sunday, April 6
How did they get here?
from distant forests they flew
into this small cage
Friday, April 4
WHERE'S THE BEEF?
At yesterday's neighborhood political meeting for undecided women the cuisine was wonderfully girly-delicious. I noticed that the first trays to empty were those with the veggies and cheeses (obviously people are still clinging to their low-carb diets), followed after a pause by the fruit platters (at least it's high fiber right?) As the evening wore on, I saw people deciding "Oh what the hell?" and hands sneaking furtively towards the brownies and cookies. All washed down with Diet Coke and wine (red or white!)
Of course, I was also paying close attention to the political speakers who were all very interesting indeed. But I couldn't help amusing myself at the same time by wondering what would be served at a similar meeting for undecided men (if such creatures exist?) Maybe sausages, nachos and beer? ;-)
Wednesday, April 2
Henry's Laughing Face
melting into the sun,
heart's ice dissolving
It's World Autism Awareness Day! Of course, I was completely unaware of this fact until I stumbled just now upon this autism blog. Nonetheless, I was very aware of and involved with autism all day, in a hands-on kind of way! Henry is still home on Spring Break and we had no home help today. But if there was a rally or a march or anything like that...I missed it, possibly while I was mopping up the bathroom after one of Henry's home-made showers. His latest passion: pouring jugs of ice-cold sink water over his head while standing in the middle of the bathroom floor. We've tried to get him to do this while standing in the tub at least, but with only limited success. Oh well, never a dull moment with autism!
I am always game when invited to participate in a recipe exchange, even though you usually might get one recipe out of it, and that's if you're lucky! This time, it was an EMAIL recipe exchange, not postcards, which seemed to make a huge difference. I ended up getting about a dozen recipes back, and one participant was extremely generous and sent on all the recipes that she received too! So I feel happily recipe replete.
This one for Chicken Parmesan appeared in my inbox yesterday morning just as I was making up my grocery list so I decided to go for it. Although Chicken Parmesan is traditionally a rather heavy dish, this recipe was a little different. The sauce was more like a chunky vegetable salsa and the whole thing was not covered with a thick layer of gooey cheese, but had a lighter cheese sprinkling. It was delicious and received the coveted "Make this again!" award from the family.
(Email me if you want the recipe.)
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