Thursday, January 29, 2009



I remember when I was about 12 years old, my parents got me an instant camera, and I was immediately hooked on photography.  Of course, I could only get 10 images out of a pack of film, the film was expensive, and the budget was tight, but I loved the immediate gratification of that camera.  I loved watching the picture develop right before my eyes.

Thanks to my digital camera, I can take as many pictures as I can squeeze on my 4 GB card, but I've been lacking that anticipation of watching the film develop.

Until now.

Poladroid is a program that gives back that feeling of watching, impatiently, as the picture develops.  There is a whole community of Poladroid junkies out there - I'm woefully behind the curve, but looking forward to catching up.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009



There's not as much love for the ice as there was for the snow.  I'm just saying. 

But it is pretty.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009


Alaskan Brown Bear

More from the Smithsonian.  I found a place to sit in the Mammal Hall, a couple of hours into my visit yesterday.  In front of me, in a large glass case, was a stuffed Alaskan Brown Bear. I started drawing it, but wasn't really enjoying it for some reason.  The hall was crowded, I was feeling conspicuous, my feet hurt.  Whatever. 

It was funny - as I was drawing the stuffed bear, I could tell when people stopped and peeked over my shoulder to see what I was doing, and it made me immediately want to stop and shut the book and hide it.  Later, when I stopped in the Bones Hall and found a perch, I spotted a Brown Bear skeleton and tried again.  Apparently I like to draw things without their skin, because I really enjoyed this sketch. 

As I drew, a young girl, maybe 8 years old, came up and stood on my right side, unabashedly staring.  Maybe because she was a child, maybe because she was so blatant about watching, it didn't bother me like it had over in the Mammal Hall.  I glanced over at her and she smiled at me, gap-toothed.

"Hi."  I said.

"Hi.  You're a really good drawer."

"Thank you.  Do you like to draw?"


"Do you practice a lot?"

She smiled at me shyly and said yes.  On my left, her younger brother appeared.  He, too, watched as I shaded the skull.  Behind the girl, 3 others walked up - stair stepped in age - her brother and sisters.  They all spoke at once, "Cool, wow, awesome, are you drawing the bear?  How long have you been drawing?"  We talked for a few minutes and they went on their way.  A few minutes later, the scene was repeated, except without words as two young Asian kids stopped and watched for a while.  We smiled at each other and they watched the skull take shape.

It made me think about how differently we deal with new and unexpected situations - as children and then as adults.  Children are so curious and eager to ask questions and peer over shoulders to see what people are doing.  Adults are so covert about it.  Why is that?  Are we afraid of what people will think of us?  Are we scared to make someone else uncomfortable?  Are we just moving too fast to stop and pay attention to what is going on around us?



On a completely different note, I finished a new hat today and I think it's pretty special.  It's called a Butterfly Hat, and if you want to make one, the pattern is here.  I made mine out of a cotton yarn, so it isn't as stretchy as it might be in wool or an acrylic blend, but I like the way it looks and feels.  My personal in-house craft photographer helped me out with this photo.  (Thanks, Doodlebug.)

I hope you're all being creative and curious this week...

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The King and I.


I headed out on my own today for a few hours of sketching and looking and photographing and relative quietness.  Dr. SmartyPants and the boys stayed home and hung out together - watching the end of the 24 hours of Daytona and playing the Wii.

I went straight to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and ended up spending most of my day there.  I could spend a solid week there and still not see everything, I think.  What a magnificent museum.  It is so well-planned - such a nice flow, and really wonderful exhibits.  I can't wait to go back and take the boys with me. 

I sketched quite a bit, when I could find an uninterrupted space.  This T-Rex was drawn from the ramp leading up to the Hope Diamond room.  I used the balcony railing to support the sketchbook.  You can't help but laugh at the T-Rex, you know.  What useless little arms.  Of course, if I were faced with one in real life, I doubt I'd be noticing those arms - not with that gigantic mouth full of teeth facing me down.

When I was in college, majoring in geology. I worked at the University of Alabama's Museum of Natural History.  I spent a lot of time with dental picks and paint brushes excavating a mosasaur from the chalk layers that had preserved it so well.  It was painstaking, exacting work, occasionally mind-and-hand-numbing, but I loved it.  I had wonderful opportunities to go out into the field and search for fossils, and I found quite a few - shark teeth and mosasaur vertebrae, crinoid stems and trilobites.

'Cause I'm cool like that.

I'll be taking the boys back with me next week, I think.  Maybe even tomorrow. 

And I hope they love it as much as I do.

Saturday, January 24, 2009



The weather over the last couple of weeks has been bitterly cold.  We've bundled up and ventured out here and there, but haven't had any long stints playing outside for while.

Until yesterday.  Glorious yesterday.

After we finished school, we headed out to the park.  I checked my Blackberry while we were out and it said the temperature was 55F.  Fantastic.   The dogs frolicked, the boys ran and jumped and climbed and monkey-barred, I chatted long-distance with Melinda.

Strange, then, that the only thing I could find to draw was my booted leg.  The lines of it were strangely appealing, though.  So I did.

Today, we're headed out to the Museum of American History.  Surely I can find something there to draw other than my own leg.

And maybe even something to blog about other than the weather. 


Wednesday, January 21, 2009



I drew this back on our anniversary, and just remembered to scan it.  I probably was trying to block the memory of that particular meal from my mind.  We went to The Cheesecake Factory, and I don't think we've ever paid more for a meal we enjoyed less. 

The cheesecake was good, though.  And we enjoyed tooling around a new neighborhood.


The boys and I ventured out to the library today, finally.  We'd been waiting for our library card, which arrived yesterday.  Yes, the library is just across the park - a quick walk away - however - we had to apply for our card online as we are not permanent residents of this city, and then wait for it to arrive.

The library is the central one in the county, and it is huge compared to the little neighborhood library we are accustomed to frequenting.  When we walked in, the boys looked around and asked why there were TWO floors?  The children's area, alone, is probably the same size as our usual library.  I love, love, LOVE children's books and probably could spend the next year over there and never make it to the "grown-up part."  They picked out 3 books each and I picked out about 15, but then realized I'd forgotten my book bag and put some back, thinking I should ration myself to 5 at a time or so.  sigh.

So much to little time.


On a reading note, I came across a reading networking site that looks very interesting.  If you are always reading and looking for new things to read - you may find something enthralling there, too!  It basically sets up trails of books to read and connects them at "intersections" that may send you off on another reading tangent.

Don't you just love those forks in the road?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Look how close we got!  (to our TV)


I, uhhh, added the graphics afterwards.  I thought it lent a believability and credibility.  (That's a big fat lie.  msnbc added the graphics.  I had nothing to do with it.  Except I took a picture of my TV.)

You know. 

Inauguration Day

Doodlebug would like to know why Michelle Obama will be known as the "First Lady."  He thinks that as President Obama is the 44th President, Mrs. Obama should be the "44th Lady."

I was impressed by the fact that as the bugs watched the ceremonies, they were completely still and quiet.  We watched as the poet, Elizabeth Alexander,  finished her reading (which I found rather stilted - perhaps poets should have their poems read by others?), followed by the Benediction by The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Lowery. 

When Dr. Lowery finished, D said, "Now THAT'S poetry."

Monday, January 19, 2009


MLK, Jr. Day

We've spent the day, today, reflecting on the reason it is a holiday, the man we honor and the changes that have occurred in the last 41 years.  We watched Tom Brokaw's documentary on the History Channel, and a show about the conspiracy theories surrounding Dr. King's assassination, and the one thing that strikes me most is that my children don't understand any of it.  I'm very thankful for that.

They don't understand why anyone would believe that a person should be judged by the color of his skin.  They don't understand how anyone would think they were better than another because their skin was lighter, or their economic situation was better.  I'm thankful that I have to explain it to them.  I'm thankful that it isn't a part of their values and ethics.

It has only been in the last year that I've heard them describe anyone by their skin color, and I'm pretty sure that comes from watching the evening news.  I've always loved to hear their descriptions of people - as a last resort, they might say, "he's tan," or "he's brown," but usually, they speak of height or occupation or to whom they are related.

I'd love to take all the credit for my children's color-blindness, but in reality, it goes back further than me.  In my family, it started with a couple of kids from deep in the heart of Alabama, who traveled the world and realized at some point that surface differences were minor and that people are, at the heart of the matter, the same - no matter where they came from or what color their skin is.  They welcomed everyone into their homes and encouraged us, their children, to do the same. 

In Dr. SmartyPants' family, it started with another couple of kids from Alabama who chose the medical profession as their livelihood and served for countless years anyone who needed help - extending their boundaries to include other countries and people who seemed very different from them, but are just the same where it really counts.

We are all a product of our ancestors, but we have a choice to make.  Our families could have chosen a path that many others in their families, in the south, on the entire spectrum of the color wheel, and all over our great country have - one of division and separation and fear.  But they walked a different road, chose a different path.  It reminds me of what Atticus Finch said to Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."  And that's what makes the difference.

Because, like Scout said, "I think there's just one kind of folks.  Folks."

Friday, January 16, 2009



In a few short days, the eyes of the nation, and the world will be upon this building.  We've been watching as the stage has been built, stands assembled, bunting unfurled.  There's an energy and excitement in the air.

And Obama bobbleheads on every corner.

It's a strange mixture of pomp and circumstance meets tacky souvenir and t-shirt stand.

Many people have asked us if we are going to be there for the ceremony.  We thought about it, talked it over, and decided we're going to stay here and watch it on the television.  If there were any way to be close enough to actually see it, I would be there in an instant, but jostling for position with 4 million of my closest friends, while keeping an eye on two active boys, only to see the whole thing on the JumboTron in below freezing temperatures?


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Riding on the Metro-o-o...

Clarendon Metro Station

Every time I get on board, that song flashes through my head.  1982, and I still remember it - at least fleetingly.

I know it is talking about a different Metro, and one that I've never been on, but would love to. 


Sunday, January 11, 2009

I Collect Bright Shiny Objects.

I'm not a liquor drinker, but I loved the way these bottles, in the window of an Arlington bar, looked all grouped together and lit from beneath. 

Liquor by the Glass

Like gems in a jewelry store window.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Self Portrait.

Self Portrait with Moonman

Actually, it's a self-portrait, and a portrait.  Mini-me is standing to my left, taking his own self-portrait.

We were in the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, looking at all the amazing rocket ships and lunar landers and Soviet orbiters and so on and so on.   It is really interesting to see the different design concepts the US and the USSR had.  Amazing how creative engineers are.

There is so much to explore here - so much to see.  My instinct is to try and cram it all in to as short a time as possible, because that is usually what we do when we go somewhere to visit.  It's going to be challenging to learn to take small bites and enjoy the flavor of the city.  Every time we get off the Metro at the National Mall, I want to go to every Smithsonian Museum in sight.  What a luxury to take our time to explore.

Yesterday, we met up with Dr. SmartyPants and went to the National Archives to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Junebug accidentally sent off the flash on his camera and we were scolded by the guards.  Sorry.  I did manage to take a couple of legal pictures.


The Declaration of Independence is so very faded, there are very few words that are legible.  I'd love to say that my boys' fascination with this document was because they were so intrigued with our nation's history and what the founders intended this country to be, but really?

It's all because of Ben Gates, Riley Poole, and the rest of the gang from National Treasure.

Thanks Disney.

I think that film was the only way we managed to get Doodlebug to come to DC with us.

025 The Constitution is in much better shape.  Really amazing to see.

I was so enthralled with the penmanship on all of the documents, including some letters written by Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.  What artistry and grace - so much captured by just a few strokes of a quill - a few drops of ink.

It made me think about what my handwriting says about me.

I think it says that I'm in a hurry much of the time, and that I've grown to rely very heavily on my computer's keyboard to make things legible.

On that note - a quote from Doodlebug, as we were exiting a Metro Station at rush hour:  "Why is everyone in such a hurry?"

Why, indeed?

Friday, January 09, 2009


R in San Francisco


Ten years.  wow.

Last year I wrote about our "story" for our 9th anniversary.  Everything I said holds true today - and even more.

Happy Anniversary, my love.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


010 The new sofa arrived today.  We've been making a pallet on the floor every night to watch movies.  Does everyone know what a pallet is?  I always thought they did, but when I married Dr. SmartyPants, he had never heard of one.

For those of you who are uneducated in such things,  a pallet is a a construction of multiple layers of your very softest, cushiest and most beloved quilts and blankets, used for the purpose of laying around on the floor to watch movies, or to sleep when you are visiting your cousins in Alabama.  There's really nothing better than when your aunt walks into the shag-carpeted sunken den with the stack of slightly musty-smelling, but neatly folded blankets.

It signals more than just bedtime.  It signals FUN. 

Anyway - the fun is over.  My pretty blue sofa has taken the pallet spot and a nice cushy shag rug sits in front of it - ready for movie watching.

The TV and internet are supposed to be hooked up tomorrow, and then I will really feel like we're home.

Today, it was rainy and cold again, so we stayed home all day.  The boys had a pajama day.  After school, and after the sofa delivery, I sat in the living room and drew what I could see out our front window.

I love the combination of slate roof and red brick.  It's such a lovely color palette.  Which is a completely different kind of palette.

First completed urban landscape.  Check.

Outside My Window

gouache and ink in large Moleskine sketchbook

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Hope Springs Eternal

I finally had a chance to break out the gouache and ink and play a little.  My intention for my entry in my brand-spankin' new Moleskine was to head out and draw from life - something wonderful and urban and sparkly.

Only - was really rainy.  And cold.  And rainy.

So I sat upstairs in the schoolroom - slash - studio and looked out the window and thought about drawing the row of houses behind my row of houses, but then spotted this pretty branch of a tree that has its buds all set and ready for Spring.  so I drew it and made the sky blue like in the picture in the last post.

It may take a little work to make this new urban lifestyle translate to the sketching style.  How does one make the transition, I wonder?  I tried, on Sunday, to sketch the Executive Office Building, but it was ridiculously bad - as if I've never drawn before.  It really shows what a focus I've put on organic forms.  I'm so comfortable with them, and so uncomfortable with drawings requiring lines and angles and perspective.

It's time to change that, and I'm in a perfect place to try.

Urban Sketchers - here I come...

Monday, January 05, 2009



Today was the day we started living here.

Before today, we were moving here, you see.  But today - Dr. SmartyPants went to work and we went to school.  Well.  We stayed at home, of course, but we started back to school. 

And actually - we didn't stay at home all day.  The boys and I headed out for our first sans-Smarty Metro ride.  We decided to try a short trip - just two stops away - to make sure everyone understands the rules of the transit system.

It's funny - we go everywhere together, the boys and I.  We've driven hundreds of miles without the Smarty.  We've stayed in hotel rooms without the Smarty.  We've done lots of things on our own - no problem.  But - we've always had the comfort and security of our own car - traveled under our own steam.

Now, I know that people take the subway with their kids all the time, but this was my first experience going without an extra set of hands with me. 

And it was great.

I had the boys look at the map to decide which train to take - only one line runs through our neighborhood station, but they had to figure out which direction to go.  We talked about what to do if we got separated.  Everyone stuck together and made sure they were getting on the correct train.

Having ridden it back in November when we were here looking at housing, and going again yesterday with the Smarty, they were feeling quite confident.  Junebug is no longer willing merely to ride the escalators up or down - he wants to walk them like the commuters do.  Doodlebug gets to the platform and immediately checks the board to see when our train will be arriving. 

It's a beautiful and frightening thing to see your children growing in confidence and ability.  I know that soon there will come a day when Junebug will pull his hand away from mine as we step onto a train - when Doodlebug forgets to look back to make sure I'm behind him before getting off one.  I'm sure it will break my heart a little, just as it causes it to swell with pride.

And that, my friends, is the pain and joy of motherhood.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


Linda called me today and we were talking about the last few days, and I was bragging about my extraordinary list-making skills.  You know - how everything had just come together so well and I remembered everything that I was going to need for the next couple weeks and wow am I amazing or what?


You know - they say pride goeth before a fall...

At least it's just a small fall.  I left my camera cable at home.  Big deal, you might say.

Yes.  Yes it is.

You see - I've been taking pictures.  Lots and lots of pictures.  Pictures of the lovely breakfast Dr. SmartyPants made for us this morning in our new clean kitchen.  Pictures of the boys playing with their Star Wars dolls action figures on the table in the newly cleaned dining room.  Pictures of Chico sitting in a chair in the fresh clean living room.  Pictures of the bare branches against the crisp blue sky.

Lots of pictures.

Of course, my camera takes a Compact Flash card and my computer has a slot for an SD card.  And I have no card reader.  So.

You may notice over there in the sidebar that I've decided to take part in the Creative Everday 2009 challenge.  And, while I've been creative every day...I have nothing to show for it. 

But.  I hate to have a post with no picture, so I'll post this one I took back in November.  Tomorrow, I'll steal Doodlebug's camera and take some pictures.  His has an SD card.

Washington Monument

By tomorrow, the house will be all put together.  The only thing that remains unfinished is the studio/school space.  When that is done, out come the paints and the goals and the plan for 2009.

Stay tuned, peeps.