My name is written in blossoms


Who would have guessed, years ago, when I made this sketch of artistic, musical, multi-talented, other-worldly pre-Raphaelite Hallie (then in Middle School), that she would now be embarking upon a double Master’s Degree in Physics and Education with the intention of teaching science in inner-city schools? Happy Birthday, Hallie! and many good wishes.

Here is a May poem for this day.

Hark! The sea-faring wild-fowl loud proclaim
My coming, and the swarming of the bees.
These are my heralds, and behold! my name
Is written in blossoms on the hawthorn-trees.
I tell the mariner when to sail the seas;
I waft o’er all the land from far away
The breath and bloom of the Hesperides,
My birthplace. I am Maia. I am May.

—Arthur Symons, from The Poet’s Calendar


Almost Cherry Blossoms

My son suggested that, instead of restricting my posts to completed work, I post something in progess. So here is a painting of a cherry blossom still life, in the early stages.

And today is the birthday of Fannie Farmer (1857-1915), who, despite suffering a debilitating stroke at age 16, went on to study cookery, open her own cooking school, invent standardized measuring tools, and eventually publish the never-out-of-print Boston Cooking-School Cookbook—a reference not only for food information but also for home medical care. For a sketch, and a mini-bio, please see Mother of Level Measurements.


In Fountain Court

Today is the birthday of poet Arthur Symons (1865-1945), and I post in his honor this watercolor and poem, although it seems more suitable for a romantic Midsummer Eve than the end of February.

He shares his birthday with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), and for a mini-bio, a painting, and the unforgettable opening lines of “Evangeline,” please see Oh Canada…Oh Henry.

The fountain murmuring of sleep,
A drowsy tune;
The flickering green of leaves that keep
The light of June;
Peace, through a slumbering afternoon,
The peace of June.

A waiting ghost, in the blue sky,
The white curved moon;
June, hushed and breathless, waits, and I
Wait too, with June;
Come, through the lingering afternoon,
Soon, love, come soon.
—Arthur Symons

An Apple a Day


I post this painting today in memory of Steve Jobs. It’s an odd coincidence that his birthday follows the anniversary yesterday of the first printing of the Gutenberg Bible, another communications technology supernova to which the Apple computer, with its many offspring, is comparable. The ways in which we interact, work, and educate and entertain ourselves have been transformed through Steve Jobs’ vision, brilliance, and determination. He would have been 57 today.


Breakfast With Superboy


Here is a portrait painted many birthdays ago. But my son still requests the same birthday breakfast—pancakes (for which he stopped by this morning)—and he still shows up in an old Superman T-shirt once in a while. (“Dreams are the touchstones of our character.” Thoreau.) Well, he’s faster in thought than a speeding bullet, more powerful in his will to travel than a locomotive, and, metaphorically at least, can occasionally leap tall buildings with a single bound. Happy Birthday, Super-son!



In honor of much-beloved poet and storyteller Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965), whose birthday it is today, I post her poem “Vegetables” and a new painting.

For a brief bio and other Farjeon poetry, with accompanying paintings, please see Morning Has Broken and Cats.


The country vegetables scorn
To lie about in shops,
They stand upright as they were born
In neatly-patterned crops;

And when you want your dinner you
Don’t buy it from a shelf,
You find a lettuce fresh with dew
And pull it for yourself;

You pick an apronful of peas
And shell them on the spot.
You cut a cabbage, if you please,
To pop into the pot.

The folk who their potatoes buy
From sacks before they sup,
Miss half of the potato’s joy,
And that’s to dig it up.

—Eleanor Farjeon