December 2008 Archives


Pistachio shells and nut. The shells are smooth and beautiful and bound for the compost. The nut may not look like much, but the taste is rich and fresh and worth the effort involved in shelling it. Think I'll have another. May your new year be as sweet.



Two of my non-sketchbook notebooks. Top one is made by Miquelrius, underneath is one made by Moleskine.

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This wound up on the coffee table when we were experimenting with ways to amplify a tiny music box.

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Saturday was very warm, so I had a chance to draw some river views when we went for an afternoon walk.


After tea and a few hours of conversation, decided that I wanted to paint a slice of lemon tonight, so I put it directly on the table. (Not sure why I left the plate in the kitchen, but it made sense at the time.) Cookie crumbs and wrinkled napkin were already there.


Four years ago today, I bought a sketchbook and began to draw...



For reasons of his own, our hamster has decided to turn his new external wheel into a sleeping loft...

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Handmade. One of my presents today.


(Click image to enlarge.) Various notes were left by the fireplace tonight. Apparently the hamster would like Santa to bring "pop-sicel sticks (to chew on)."

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Went to hear the Holiday Pops concert a couple of nights ago, and my drawing and post are now up on the Pittsburgh Symphony site.


Wrapping done?


I'll get to it, though, really. No, really. After I'm done listening to this song.



Went caroling in the neighborhood, as a group of us like to do on the last Monday before Christmas. A very cold night, but what fun to bundle up and walk around singing old songs. I think I know the most of the words, so keep my hands in my pockets, instead of carrying music. Unfortunately, I also have a tendency to skip right from the first to the third verse... but our surprised audiences are cheerful and gracious, cookies are offered and accepted, and we stay longer in the cold than we planned. Hot cider and conversation follow at a friend's house, then out into the weather again for the short walk home. One last small helping of beef stew was just the thing to finish warming up again - just in time to turn down the heat and head for bed.

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The tree is up, with lights - including the pizza-shaped lights given to us many years ago.

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A tiny one is already up, just in case Santa remembers a present for our hamster.



Gerard, the science room lizard, is visiting us for the first part of winter break. He has a supercilious expression, elegant feet, and the posture of a dandy. He's also a natural model, knowing how to hold a pose.

Last night I was sleepy, so after watching him for a while, I settled for drawing a corner of his tank. Tonight marks the beginning of winter vacation for me, so I made a figure study...

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If you follow the links I run in my sidebar, you may already know this...

A book I co-wrote and co-edited (with Mark Stroup, Greg Langel, and Jennifer Baron) has just been published by Carnegie Mellon University Press - Pittsburgh Signs Project: 250 Signs of Western Pennsylvania. The book grew out of our Pittsburgh Signs Project blog, where we've been posting photographs of signs for the past 5 years. It's not on the CMU Press site yet, as it's part of their 2009 list, but we've got copies for sale around Pittsburgh for this season's holiday shoppers. We have a Facebook group for it, if you are so inclined, and if you're eager to buy a copy from a distance, Carnegie Mellon's bookstore will sell it online. (Amazon listing still to come...)



Turning the corner of the season toward the holidays. None of the fallen snow has stayed, but two visitors are here already, tomorrow is a half day, and then we have vacation.


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
6 T. cocoa
3 cups quick oatmeal
1 t. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
1 cup coconut
1/2 cup chopped nuts

Mix sugar, milk, and butter in a pan and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat and add the other ingredients. Mix together and drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper.

This is a great recipe to make with small helpers.

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Painted much larger than life, but the flavor is even bigger than this.


Looking at the living room desk, and imagining it as a landscape.

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Two summers ago, the children were planning a carnival for cousins on their grandparents' porch. I made six of these for a beanbag game, using different material scraps my mother had. (Sewn by hand, because I was on vacation and had no need to hurry.) This one is pink raw silk. I keep them on my desk and move them from hand to hand when I want to think.

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What ironist thought it a good idea to give this a green label?

I went to hear the Messiah performed by the Pittsburgh Symphony on Friday night - Heinz Hall was decked for holidays, and I had fun drawing.


Pillows on the end of the sofa... I'm headed for sleep at the end of the week.


Where the snow is falling rapidly. The pavement holds some warmth and accumulations happen along the edges of tire tracks, tops of branches, parked cars. The street is wet, and not yet icy.



Youngest child and her friends have been making holiday cards for each other this week.

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One sip of cocoa is left in the glass mug.



In which I discover that the shadow of my hand also looks like a man in a funny hat - perhaps Punch, from the Punch and Judy show.



Sheep of needle-felted fleece, made on an armature of pipe cleaners on Saturday. Painted only a little smaller than life-sized. (He's about four inches long.)

On Saturday morning, I went to the dentist, and drew the view from the window while I was waiting for my daughter to be finished.  Saturday afternoon saw us at a school fair, where I learned more about needle-felting.  In the evening, I was supposed to go to the symphony, but the weather didn't co-operate.  (So I drew at home, instead.)


Improvised garland-making for a snowy evening: materials were dental floss and colored office-supply dot stickers. (You put a pair of the stickers together, with the floss in the middle.) Minty-smelling and surprisingly festive.



This is our rotary phone. I got it nearly a dozen years ago at a flea market, and then rewired the plug so we could use it with a modern jack. Sometimes visiting children have to have it explained to them.


Students studying ceramics and clay went on a field trip to see a museum exhibit: Born of Fire: The Life and Pottery of Margaret Tafoya, at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. I sketched in pencil there, and added color at home.

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The brown ink belongs to my husband, who uses if for both writing and drawing.


Beside the table. I'm always intrigued by the way the lines I didn't use add liveliness.



Drawing where the phone isn't. Thinking about the oddness of a cordless tool for connecting with others. Disconnected connection.



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