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December 29, 2009

New Year's Wish

Peace, health,
love and
prosperity in
the new year.

(click image to enlarge)

December 21, 2009

Il Famoso Ignoto

Went to Naples, Italy to see the 
antique presepi figures in the 
Museo di San Martino. 

Un presepe is a nativity scene. In Naples, the 
presepi take on operatic proportions. 

Not surprising. Naples is home to 
the oldest opera house in Italy, 
il Teatro San Carlo, built in 1737.
Many of these elaborate displays belonged 
to wealthy aristocrats. Some to churches.

In the museum, one glass case after another 
of exquisitely crafted, costumed and detailed 
miniature objects, animals and figures 
depicting all aspects of life in old Italy in 

Clay, wood, silk, wool, silver, copper, brass 
and jewels worked with extraordinary skill, 
keen observation, great wit and humanity. 
My costume, doll, folkart and miniatures 
loving heart nearly leapt from my chest.

Only problem, no photo taking permitted
nor was there a museum shop with postcards 

and books. 

Many quick sketches and much note taking. 
One artist, Ignoto, seemed most prevalent.
Not only did Ignoto seem to have made 

almost everything, I soon realized he was 
active for several centuries....
With only 6 years of Italian language study
behind me, it suddenly dawned....
Ignoto, Italian for Anonymous;-)

(click on images to enlarge)

Without these two beautiful books, there would be no images to show you.

       Il Presepe Napolitano, by Allessandra Griffo, De Agostini 1996
      Il Presepe Napoletano del Settecento, Electa Napoli 1995

December 20, 2009

Cold Hands, Warm Wishes

 (My illustration from my book, THE LITTLE SNOWGIRL,
 Whitebird/Putnam - click image to enlarge)

December 19, 2009

Snow Cat Tizzy

(Click image to see TZ's 1st snow)

Blizzard outside this morning reminds 
me of Tizzy's first snow 9 winters past. 
Fat snowflakes drifting by made baby
cat chirp excitedly with delight.
I know the feeling.

December 17, 2009

Wild About Charlie

Charlie Williams and his wife Lydia are public library 
Librarians from North Carolina, now retired. 
When Charlie discovered my picture book, REDOUTÈ, 
The Man Who Painted Flowers, at an exhibition of work 
by another botanical artist, Mark Catesby, he wrote to 
me suggesting Catesby as subject for a future book. 
He also mentioned his interest in Andre Michaux, one 
of Redoutè's outstanding Botanist collaborators. 
Andre Michaux

We finally met when Charlie's Michaux research 
brought him to Philadelphia and the American 
Philosophical Society. I shared a paper mentioning 
Michaux, that I had acquired from its scholar 
author during my Redoutè search. Turned out, it
contained information Charlie needed.

When Charlie returned to Phila. with his wife, 
Lydia, we enjoyed a visit to Bartram's Gardens,
18th century home of the fascinating John and 
William Bartram, America's first Botanists. 

Charlie Williams as himself

Back home in North Carolina in conjunction 
with Stowe Botanical Garden, Charlie began 
talking to school children about Michaux and 
his work in America, particularly North Carolina. 
To further children's interest he began dressing 
in 18th century costume. As he refined the costume 
to look more like an 18th century Botanist 
working out in nature, Charlie soon "morphed"
into Andre Michaux telling his own story.

Yesterday's holiday card written by Lydia, contained 
the news that Charlie Williams is the 2009 recipient 
of the Elizabeth Ann Bartholomew Award of The 
Southern Appalachian Botanical Society for distinguished 
professional and public service in advancing knowledge 
and appreciation of the world of plants. The first non 
professional Botanist to win this award. , Lydia writes 
that, typically, Charlie was flabbergasted.

Lydia also sent this photo of Michaux's Lily which 
unexpectedly bloomed on their mountain property.  
They don't know if it bloomed because conditions
were just right or Michaux's spirit was hovering over them.
No doubt in my mind.

(Read Charlie's biography of Andre Michaux)
Stowe Botanical Garden 
American Philosphical Society
Bartram Gardens

December 15, 2009

The Boss Of Me

Awakened this morning by a sudden crash and
near complete certainty that Fred Feliney is the
reincarnation of the fellow who ran the trains
in Mussolini's Italy. (which accidently I
first typed as Mousolini).

Fred had cleared everything but the
clock radio from my night table onto the floor.
Not the first time.
I turned over and resumed dozing.

Hardly back in my dream, heard rattling
amongst the items on my jewelry making
desk. The thought of picking up THAT
potential mess, achieved the desired effect.
I was up and out of bed.
Inured to my verbal threats, the Boss of Me
waited patiently through my ablutions.
Then led the parade into the kitchen and breakfast.

Afterwards, took up his post pulling my sleeve when
the kettle boiled.

Poor Fred. It must be awful living with such a slacker.

December 7, 2009

Happy Birthday Girl

Wishing Mom a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY! 

Mom likes to say that she was born on Pearl Harbor Day.
She also declares her years in Celsius, so she's 31c  (which she learned from George Carlin).
Some how she managed to raise the four of us with lots of love, lots of humor
and lots of patience.

Mom with us when we were kids.

December 6, 2009

The Murphy's In The Details

Saturday mornings have become a cross 
between a carefully choreographed ballet and 
the old TV game show, Beat The Clock.
Between 9am and noon, armed with shopping 
cart and Whole Foods cloth bags I catch a bus,
get the Philly Car Share, Prius (parked in the 
garage of my Mom's building), drive to Whole
Foods lot on South St, shop Super Fresh 
(across the street), load the car. Then shop
Whole Foods, load the car, deliver my stuff
to my apartment, then back to Mom's, end
my car reservation, deliver her stuff, help 
her with chores, mail and meals and other things 
that are difficult because of her blindness.

Sometimes Murphy lurks in the details.
Icey, rainy yesterday, returning to the car 
with my Super Fresh purchases, the car 
was GONE!! Called PCS. Turns out 
(as suspected) a  new member took the 
first PCS Prius she found, though HER 
car was waiting on the floor above at 
the marked official PCS space.

After this happened to me once before, I made a
little sign that I attach to the steering wheel.

It seems to have worked well for several years until
yesterday morning when I forgot to put it on. :-0

I want to thank the Philly Car Share employees,
Brielle, Tara and everyone else whose quick thinking, 
understanding and kindness saved the day.

Now I just want my Whole Foods bags back. 


PS: Got my bags back, Monday Dec.7, 2009
      Many thanks again to Tara at PCS!!

December 3, 2009

Some Cookie!

                                                    © Bea Weidner 2009
My wonderfully talented friend and 
colleague, Bea Weidner (see my 
6/3/09 post) has just opened 
CookieFriends, her new Etsy shop. 
Bea has been making delightfully quirky 
edible cookies for years. People say,
"They are too wonderful to eat". 
Well now you can have your cookie 
on a greeting card to keep, send or both. 
Go to Etsy and see the rest of her wimsical 
cookie cards
I want two of each. One to keep and one to send.

 © Bea Weidner 2009

November 24, 2009


     Happy Thanksgiving!


November 19, 2009

Kibbles From Heaven

Washed and dried my cat boys' stainless bowls.
Tizzy waiting, so I measure his kibble first. 
He dives right in.
Suddenly, a change in the weather. 
Hailstones the size of kibble!
Tizzy heads for the hills.
Doling Fred's portion, I had hit the canister edge, 
broadcasting cat food all over the kitchen.

October 29, 2009


(click on images to enlarge)

What do a Farmer, a jar of pickles and an old 
lady ghost have in common? 

The answer is Tony Johnston's delightful, 
spooky story, BOO! A Ghost Story That 
Could Be True, that I illustrated for Edie 
Weinberg at Scholastic/Cartwheel.

Thrills and chills and laughter as well as a 
surprise ending for young readers. 

treat to illustrate. As I laid out the pages 
and began the drawings, I discovered the trick
The story begins at night, ends the next 
morning...... as it began... sort of.
(read the book, look at the pictures) ;-)

October 28, 2009

Rainy Days And Wednesdays

Just now: Among items I'm 
sorting trying to make some 
studio order out of studio 
chaos. Poverino!  =^..^=

October 25, 2009

Trick or Treat

My illustration from QUESTIONS,by Lee Bennett Hopkins
The smell of the greasepaint (literally), cold cream,
spirit gum, horse hair wigs and beards and false 
mustaches and black out wax for teeth. A beat up 
top hat and Mom's old black velvet opera cape and 
assorted old clothes, accessories and sheets as needed. 
Greasy faces, painted freckles and scars, blackened 
teeth, red lipstick, itchy wigs. I longed for a glitter 
mask, a little tulle, perhaps a magic wand. 
Something pretty.
One year when  I was 5 or 6 and had a Halloween 
party to attend, our next door neighbor, Ann Roth 
made my costume. A modern dancer with many 
beautiful costumes and accessories.
Ann Roth and me 

Over my blue cotton leotard a long swirly dance skirt 
pulled up under my armpits and tied at the waist 
with a long silk scarf. Pinned with a perfumed 
nosegay of handmade silk pongee roses. More on 
the skirt, another on my shoulder and some on my 
hair. Pink lipstick and cheeks.
So pretty I walked on tiptoes.  :-)

October 13, 2009

Birthday Boy, Oh Boy!!

Sister Susan and I were already here when
brother Ted arrived. I tease Mom that we 
two sweet obedient  little girls deceived her
into having an other child, Ted (and even one 
more after THAT! brother, Jonathan).
I recall the color draining from her face
watching 2 year old Ted hanging by his knees
from the top bar of the backyard swing. Too
afraid to shout, lest he fall.
Chaos, his milieu. Couldn't stay still or
stand peace and quiet. Yet never mean.

Growing up, a few broken bones, many practical jokes.
Second grade teacher didn't appreciate his iconoclasm
or my Mother defending his creativity.
So many stories, now family legends.
These days he's also a husband and Dad, a most respected
Children's Dentist, an inventor, writer and infamous punster.
My dear brother and friend.

So on the sixty first anniversary of his arrival, 
wishing my dearest brother Ted, a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

(you can click on photos to enlarge)

October 6, 2009

Freddie Rothko Abstract

(click on image to see paw, whiskers and chin more clearly)

Marc Rothko?
Try "Freddie Rothko".
Took me a minute or two to figure out what
this was..........
Looking more carefully noticed 3
cat toes next to a whiskered chin across the
middle near center.
A Freddy cat game. Pushing his paw under my drawing 
board/lightbox until I pat it and he pulls it back. Red at
the bottom, the cover of a paper pad.
Variation: pushing what he finds back there, pencil, 
ruler, plastic triangle through until I grab it (or it falls).

October 5, 2009

Automatic Dish Washer

This morning followed Fred into the kitchen. 
He went right to his food bowl quickly gobbling 
down the remains of last night's meal.
Then he cleaned out Tizzy's bowl as well. 
Ready for breakfast......

September 22, 2009

Fall Back

Started the new season with a bang.
Off early to a medical appointment.
Before leaving, noticed I'd put on a
black sock and a navy sock. (not the
first time.... went off once, long ago,  
for a day of showing my portfolio 
to publishers in NYC this way.)
Changed my left sock for black and
caught the bus. On board, sat down
next to an old friend.
Glancing down at my feet as we
greeted each other, I still had 2 different 
colored socks on.
(Originally had both socks been blue?
We'll never know.....)
Off the bus and a block to the doctor's.
Waited while the receptionist finished
on the phone. Gave my name.
Not on the list.
Are you sure? They had called to verify
Here, I printed this out from my calendar
entry...uh....uh, oh.
In black and white, September 23, Wednesday.
Caught the bus back. 
"That was fast." The driver said as I 
climbed aboard. Same guy, same bus, on their 
return leg.
I confessed my error.
"I see a lot of this." He smirked.
Alighting at my stop. I inquired whether he 
was on tomorrow.
"Yeah, I'm on everyday." He joked. "But I'm 
not picking YOU up."  ;-)

September 21, 2009

Johnson & Hodge

(Samuel Johnson by Sir Joshua Reynolds
Tate Gallery, London)

Today marks Dr Samuel Johnson's 300th birthday.
Best known as the lexicographer of the Dictionary
of the English Language and as the subject of 
James Boswell's biography. 
My attraction to Johnson stems from his
affection for cats, particularly Lily, a well behaved 
white "kitling" and Hodge, described as having sable fur.
Boswell records how Johnson went himself to the fishmongers to buy oysters for Hodge as he didn't trust a servant to show the cat affection after having been sent on such a lowly errand.
A statue of Hodge, sitting on Johnson's dictionary
with an open oyster at his feet, stands in front of
Johnson's house at 17 Gough Sq, London.