Sunday, August 30

Hard Times with Henry

Poor Henry and Poor Us
We have been having lots of trouble with Henry lately. Aggression, rage, anxiety, general misery. It's hard to describe the suddenness and intensity of Henry's rages and mood swings. Paul has been absolutely heroic about coming home from work to help me; particularly stressful for him as he is working like a dog to keep his business afloat. But at age 15, Henry is six foot three and 195 pounds and there is no way I can cope with him for long periods on my own (and I have the bruises to prove it!) Keeping him gainfully occupied (like they do at his wonderful school) is somewhat helpful to his mood stability, but it's difficult for me to devote every second of my day to this as I have two other kids and the usual housewifely duties, not to mention the fact that there is no way I can manage this young man physically by myself in most situations. And it has become impossible to find Henry sitters or helpers...anyone know any former NFL linebackers turned autism aides? We are working to find some drug combo that might help too, but so far no good although there are a few more to try. (That is a torturously slow path, however, as you have to carefully withdraw from one drug before slowly building up with another. And repeat...)

It's amazing to me how there is almost a conspiracy of silence about what seems to be a pretty common phase many autistic teenagers go through (just google: autism teenagers aggression). Good news: it is natural. Bad news: it can last several years. I suppose people don't want to scare other people whose kids are younger, especially as some kids won't go through it. But I have always preferred to know what might be coming at me. So here I am talking about it. :-0 I guess my other motive is to explain to people why I have seemed to have perhaps gone underground, disappeared from the "social scene" and have become worse at than ever at returning phone calls, emails, registration forms etc. We are kind of in lockdown mode over here. I am sore, tired, in a state of constant high alert and busy in way that is simply hard to describe. Here are a few pictures:

This is when I usually get hurt...when I stop him from smashing himself in the head. Usually it is two-handed, here is the more elegant one hand version. Some kids with autism have to wear special protective headgear as many have deafened and blinded themselves, so I ALWAYS intervene when the self-injurious behaviors begin, and that's often when I become the target of aggression. If you can't smash the one you want, smash the one you're with! ;-)

My poor guy! He doesn't know what's hit him. It's heart-breaking, and we are just hoping we can keep it from becoming bone-breaking, too.

Saturday, August 29

Friday, August 28

Plein Air at Beaver Farm!

Art for a Good Cause
I have been busy organizing a plein air day to benefit my son Henry's wonderful special needs school, Camphill Special School. Specifically I am aiming to raise funds and awareness of their program for the 18 to 21 year olds who require special skills and training as they make the transition from school to adult programs. This what is called the Transition Program, and the school recently bought a neighboring property to house it, Beaver Farm, which is wonderful and beautiful but needs some renovation and construction to enlarge and expand.

On August 8th, 34 artists converged on Beaver Farm in Phoenixville PA for a wonderful day of painting, delicious food and camaraderie. The weather gods cooperated and so did everyone else. Joyful reunions were happening all over the place as old friends saw one another again, and many new friends met for the first time, too.

Of course the main attraction was art-making. This working biodynamic farm is a place of such quiet but intense beauty many of the artists felt almost overwhelmed by choices. However this is a nice problem to have, and everyone got right to work (usually after a brief period of helpless gaping in all directions!) I invited all kinds of artists, from realists to abstractionists, photographers and printmakers, oil painters, digital artists, encaustic artists: all people whose work I admire and whom I respect as artists and human beings:

Rachel Constantine in the kitchen garden

John Sevcik tackled the big old farmhouse

Stuart Shils at work under the tall trees

Eliza Auth worked both in pastels and in oils

Nancy Bea Miller by the wildflower bed

Marianne Mitchell stops to take a look at her piece in progress

Jeffrey Reed contemplating his next piece

Al Gury and Nancy Bea Miller

Rebecca Thornburgh, Jo-Ann Osnoe, Dianne Morrow, David Lee, Mary Walsh, Elizabeth Wilson, Alex Tyng et. al.

Aina Roman breaking in a new french easel and experimenting like crazy!

Ellen Cooper painting through the roses

Paul DuSold faces the paparazzi with good grace

Giovanni Casedei was so absorbed in his work he didn't notice

Suzy Schireson tackled the silo

Elaine Lisle got some canine companionship

Alex Tyng painting by the laundry line

Ellen Cooper, Laura Kaderabeck Eyring and Frances Galante, hard at it

Fred Danziger and one of his miniatures, with Stuart Shils

Sarah Barr and her big ass big old large format camera

Garth Herrick out sitting in the field

Betsey Batchelor and "her" tree

The stragglers pose for one more shot at the end of an utterly amazing day! Participating artists not previously mentioned include Michael Bartmann, Joe Sweeney, Lynne Campbell, Dale Roberts, Fay Stanford, John Ennis, Valerie Craig, Carla Tudor, Elana Hagler, Jon Redmond, Mark Bockrath and Mary Hiltbrandt. Thank you so much everyone!

A one day exhibit and sale of the work to benefit Camphill Special School, will be held November 3, reception 5:30-8 pm at Rosenfeld Gallery, 113 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
All are welcome!

For more information on the event, just click Plein Air at Beaver Farm!

Sunday, August 23

Against Idleness And Mischief

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!

from Against Idleness And Mischief
Isaac Watts

Friday, August 21

Garden Bounty

It's been quite a year for the garden! After much debate Paul and I decided in March that we would not sign up for our CSA (farm-share)this year...for the first time in many years. Instead, I enlarged and expanded the home garden. I'd feel guilty for not supporting local agriculture except that the farm we usually sign up with is so popular that they have a long waiting list.

We were sure lucky with this year's home garden being so exceptionally productive and bounteous: except for a few specialty items like pea tendrils and cider and eggs, I haven't missed being in our CSA this summer.

So, I'm informally researching tomatoes for next year...looking for best flavor! Here is what I have so far gathered:

HEIRLOOMS (or Open-Pollinated):
Cherokee Purple, German Johnson, Brandywine, and Yellow Persimmon.
Mr. Stripey (or Zebrella)
Stupice, Pineapple, Black Krim, Paul Robeson

Celebrity, Sweet 100

From this list I only have personal experience this year with Black Krim (outstanding!) and Sweet 100 (deliciously sweet and intense.) I'm still waiting for an heirloom called Mortgage Lifter to ripen. I also grew another heirloom called Crimson Cushion, which I'd rate above average and a hybrid, Early Girl, which gets an A+ for speed but only a C+ for flavor. My Romas are wonderful and dependable but not absolutely bursting with flavor. I've also tasted my neighbor's Abe Lincoln tomatoes, which to my tongue are above average but again, not outstanding. I know taste is personal, but what are your favorites?

BTW, Brandywine: it keeps popping up on all the top ten lists, so I included it, but the one time I grew it I was underwhelmed. It had a great texture, juicy and tender, but was a little bland in flavor. I hear there are different varietals amongst this strain, so maybe I got a "dumbed down" one by chance. Your thoughts? (You can comment on Facebook, or just email me...I still haven't managed to find a way to enable comments on this old template! If you respond, please let me know what region you live in, as I believe geographic location, and other factors like soil type, rainfall etc. influence flavor, too.)

Thursday, August 20

Spirit Breaking

Henry at one more interminable meeting to obtain services for something or other...they always start off by asking about the pregnancy and birth. I always say "Isn't it it still in the records from the last 25 times I was in here?" They are always apologetic but implacable...the entire nightmare must be recounted, yet again, and signed off in triplicate. Just one small detail of life for the special needs parent...