Sisterhood of Squash


It’s finally getting too cold to draw from nature outdoors, so we’re sketching from the pantry, and thus cut open a recent discovery: a Sunshine Squash. (If you like winter squash, you will love this super-sweet and tender variety.)

It was my daughter who noticed the squash’s interior division into thirds, and, more subtly, sixths, and who suggested we add our squash drawings to our cucumber drawing pages. So we did. It’s exciting to find, despite their apparent exterior differences, their interior commonalities. And together they make a lovely pair. There’s a life lesson for you.



Andalusian Treasures

At all the major festivals and turning points of the year, it’s a natural impulse to find commonalities within the celebration with the larger human community, past and present, and gain a sense of connection.


In this winter season, one especially delightful and moving experience of shared celebration is found in the music, dance, and storytelling of the Washington Revels, which each year changes its theme (always carefully researched and skillfully interpreted) but whose underlying message acknowledges and salutes the struggle to find beauty, joy, humor, peace, and love amid the darkness, uncertainty, and losses of our life journeys.

This year’s theme is Andalusian Treasures, and I quote:

Our 29th annual celebration of the winter solstice harkens back over 1,000 years to the confluence of Moorish, Sephardic and Iberian cultures in medieval Andalusia. Led by the antics of two fools, and joined by guest musicians, Trio Sefardi and Layali El Andalus (“Andalusian Nights” in Arabic), we celebrate the legacy of the extraordinary flowering of arts and culture that began there and extended to much of the world for centuries thereafter. Presenting the three cultures together on stage, we honor the symbol that Andalusia has become (however imperfect the reality) of the ideal of greater tolerance and acceptance among different cultures and religions.

Shows run December 3-4 & 9-11, matinees and evenings, at GW Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC, and there are still tickets available through the Revels website. Believe me, once you have sung and danced for the solstice with a thousand gladsome companions, you will want to make it a family tradition.

The sketches above are from a 2007 Renaissance Revels. For more Revels sketches, and a mini-history, please see Revelry.


Prince and the Pauper

I sat in one day on a rehearsal of my daughter’s class play and surreptitiously made some sketches. Having seen a number of middle school plays over the years in which the objective seems to be to finish and get off stage as fast as possible, I was struck by the students’ expressiveness, pacing, and evident understanding of their roles.


Deep Dark Chocolate

I could not resist posting pictures of these two cakes my husband made for the Washington Waldorf School Bazaar tomorrow. The recipe is Deep Dark Chocolate Cake, from the cookbook BakeWise. For the relief on top, he created the head first in clay, then made a silicon and plaster mold, then cast two in chocolate.



I cannot tell you yet how the cakes taste (come to the Bazaar to find out!), but my daughter and I greatly enjoyed licking the bowls, and I myself had to be restrained from finishing off the frosting before it was actually applied to the cake.

Holiday Bazaar

On Saturday, November 19th, the Washington Waldorf School in Bethesda, Maryland will hold what is probably the most unusual holiday bazaar in the Washington area, reflective as it is of the artistry of Waldorf education.


Adults with an eye to gift-giving appreciate the wide range of beautiful handcrafts, from pottery to woven scarves to toys to jewelry.

Younger children enjoy the storytelling and puppet shows, candle-decorating, visiting the Magical Maze of evergreens and twinkling lights, making an excursion to the Children’s Shop for their own secret purchases, and taking a peek into the pockets of the wandering Pocket Wizard or Pocket Lady. Older children like making wooden toolboxes, or copper lanterns, or ornamenting themselves with a henna-tattoo.

All will happily sink into a seat at the Bazaar Bistro for a truly delicious homemade lunch, a special dessert, or a cappuccino, where they can listen throughout the day to live musical offerings.

Admission is free, but, although it runs from 10 to 3, arrive promptly, because handmade goods and puppet show tickets sell out EARLY.

Autumn Fires

In honor of Robert Louis Stevenson’s birthday, a poem and a picture for fall.


Today is also the anniversary of the release from house arrest of courageous writer and activist Aung San Suu Kyi, whose party, after boycotting last year’s election, this month voted to re-enter Burmese politics. For her mini-bio, please see Free As a Bird.



Double Cherry Trees, November


The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.
The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

—Emily Dickinson

I received a commission to paint the dramatic double-cherry trees in front of this house at two different seasons of the year (and also create two sets of seasonal cards with the results). Here they are in their golden gowns of autumn. Watch for them in spring.

And today is the birthday of amateur scientist and astronomer Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806), grandson of a slave, who surveyed the new city of Washington, DC, created a 1792 almanac that went through several editions, and corresponded with Thomas Jefferson. For a picture and a mini-bio, please see Skywatcher.