Today’s musings

From the friends at Sketchbook Skool, this video about the importance of color. And of painting and of doing creative things. I need all the color I can get right now. colored pencilspencils

colorful dress in motioncolor in nature

Continue reading

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10-minute-ish dinner

Peeps, if you don’t make this Instant Pot butter chicken, you are OUT OF YOUR MIND.

So good. Delicious. Amazing. EASY.




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In praise of Mississippi

I’ve had Mississippi writers on my mind recently, as I’m finally getting around to reading a biography of William Faulkner, who is endlessly fascinating, and in the wake of the brilliant Sing, Unburied, Sing.

Mississippi has birthed some of the finest American writers ever. Happy to see this celebration of the new crop! 



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Celebrating the pencil



My theme gifts for Christmas were centered around the humble pencil.

I bought loads of great stuff from this fantastic shop.

So I was tickled to see this cool article, with its amazing photographs, in today’s NYT.

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Getting out from under the news

No words left, no more outrage for the state of the world right now. I think I may just have to resort to asking the Lord to come back and get it all over with it.

This morning, I was trying out a wonderful new café in Ferney-Voltaire, Augustine et Balthazar, where I went with my journal and a magazine and a book, after the market. I got to talking (in French, of course) with the server and we lamented the state of the world together. I said, “I’m an American and I’m depressed and sad about the state of my country.”

She basically replied, “Honey, I’m from Algeria. How do you think I’ve felt for the last 50 years?” Which made me feel better/worse and we sighed/laughed.

The magazine I had with me is the amazing eye-candy publication known as Uppercase Magazine. The creator/writer/editor/publisher is so creative. She’s got a blog and is on Instagram and everywhere essential! Friend Loretta from Pomegranates and Paper (can’t get the link to her site at the moment, but I will add it when I can) put me on to her. Worth every penny.

I borrowed this great quote from a page in the current issue.


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My TBR list


Of all the “best of” lists I’ve read this year, I think I am most persuaded by this one. Short enough to be doable. May make my way down from the top! DISCUSS.

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So much going on, mainly Moravian-related!


It’s that time of year when I am trying to get all my tasks corralled before the holidays: all those health insurance claims (a particular horror where I work, where you pay for everything up front and then tape all those paper receipts onto a piece of paper and copy them and then make a PDF with all kinds of bits and bobs in a certain order–it’s so maddeningly 1950s, with the exception of the Xerox-related aspects–so you can be partly reimbursed in a leisurely fashion); remembering to call the garage for an appointment to get the car inspection done, alas, already late; taking the girls to the vet so they can be solemnly allowed into the USA, after ensuring they are not, after all, ragingly rabid; stumbling across all those mysteriously unpaid bills–my favorite being the garbage pick-up bill, which is not sent to you in advance or on any kind of regular billing cycle, and is not definitely not available by direct debit, OH NO, because just think of the convenience!, and, turning to happier topics, getting ready for Christmas.

Today I hope to put out my crèche, with all my lovely santons. It is one of my favorite French traditions and makes me feel assimilated! Photos to come.

And I’ll be hanging–with luck; need to make sure I’ve got the needed hardware–my big Moravian star and my little Moravian garland, which I was so happy to find last weekend in Dresden. They seem to be still made by hand and in Germany, not China! That makes me feel very Winston-Salem-y and not at all France-assimilated. A serious touch of home.

That brings back memories of lovefeasts past, especially at Wake Forest, with its big and beautiful annual Christmas lovefeast, one of the loveliest services anywhere. And of my great friend Ed Christman, much loved and greatly missed. Just like with my Dad, I often think of things I want to tell him. Oh, the political conversations we could have had over the past year!

Wake Forest University celebrates its 43rd annual Lovefeast ceremony in Wait Chapel on Sunday, December 2, 2007. Chaplain Timothy Auman, right, listens as retired University Chaplain Ed Christman gives the benediction.

I can almost smell that heavy, heavy beeswax scent of those candles. I used to help cut the trim and wrap them for the lovefeast–hundreds, thousands?! of them. Never has a dorm room smelled so delicious.

Speaking of the Moravians, I have always loved many of their beliefs and traditions, but most especially their motto, which deserves especially to be remembered against our current shameful public discourse.

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Happy après Halloween

As long as the current crop of reality-challenged folks is running the USA, there will be no shortage of materials for writers, or indeed, anyone who’s just looking for distraction.

This is a sadly hilarious and clever piece. #languagewarning, as is often the case these days

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Recapturing my creative self

The last couple of weeks have been a long, hard slog. Work took me to Berlin and to Paris, both, of course, glorious locations, though I mainly saw the interiors of our meetings and hotel rooms.

Arrived home Wednesday, limp from fatigue. Soon the workplace was consumed by a self-inflicted wound, which, at this writing, continues. has just been addressed and I hope it is now fixed. But I hope it will resolved tomorrow.. Along with other global anxieties, this has been totally distracting. It is very difficult to get anything done, especially with the nonstop siren call of Twitter.

But I am determined today to nourish my other self, the one that rises above Trump and Brexit and North Korea and work.

So, what has been engaging me recently? I did manage to escape my duties to see two exhibitions in Paris, one on the photographs of Irving Penn, and the other called “Gauguin, the alchemist”.

I had always admired Penn’s photographs, but it was fascinating to see how he worked, putting subjects into tiny, awkward spaces, his usual backdrop an old piece of carpet (my photo below; tried to take a selfie as my Irving Penn portrait, but that didn’t work out 😉 or a curtain.


How he studied the work of great painters to see how they dealt with light. And, of course, he had rather marvelous subjects, like Picasso.

Here’s a close-up detail, which I snapped with my iPhone. I just love the reflection in the artist’s eye.

I’ve also been trying to lose myself in reading, which has been a challenge–see distraction, above–but I managed to finish two very good books, even if I found the subjects overall sad and in some cases, vacuous.

Despite my not finding most of the subjects in these two books admirable, I enjoyed reading about their lives and houses, friends and parties. One can’t help but think all that talent could have been used to better ends.

About to start the biography of Elizabeth Jane Howard, whom I already know was an incredibly complex person with a terribly complicated life. Hmmm, what sort of pattern it this becoming? Watch this space.


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Not so super bugs and a few rather more super bits of randomness

Antibiotic/antimicrobial resistance: It’s what I’m working on now and it’s both fascinating and terrifying. I will be attending this meeting in Berlin this week. Looking forward to hearing about what people around the world are doing to prevent the apocalypse!

Currently reading this. An intriguing book about the rich and dissipated on the French Riviera in the first half of the 20th century. Lots of gossip and cameos by everybody who was anybody, including Churchill. Recommended in a kind of horrifying way. It does make me wonder what the French made of this British invasion.

About to host Sunday lunch for the local crowd. Rick Bayless is on the menu, so to speak.

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