Art Bee

My sister said to me this weekend, “You’re always getting a bee in your bonnet.”

She’s absolutely right, of course.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the bee du jour, my abeille of the day was a family art project.

Almost everybody donned an old, beloved sweatshirt of mine to protect their clothes from paint splatter. That sweatshirt has been one of my prized possessions since middle school!

The adults painted too:

Last, but not least, my dad and mom added the finishing touches to our family masterpiece:

I’m all abuzz! I think it’s beautiful!

I am a monster.

When my son was very little he asked me to pose for a portrait. I have to admit, I was flattered by the request. I sat very still as he labored over his masterpiece. He took the whole enterprise very seriously. For a very long time, he would study my face intently and then return to his drawing to add more details. At last he was satisfied with his work. He put the finishing touches on the portrait and then finally released me from my pose.

“Can I see it?” I asked.

He turned the sketchbook to proudly reveal his portrait to me:



Wow!” I said. I was aghast, but trying to be sensitive to my budding young artist’s feelings, “Is that how I look to you?”

“Uh-huh!” he replied nonchalantly, “Looks just like you!”

I recalled this incident a few months ago in the midst of an extremely complicated day…

My son’s school was out for the day, but his school team’s soccer game was still on. To complicate matters, he had made vague plans to go to a friend’s house for a sleepover after his game. My husband had left town for a conference the evening before, so livery service was all up to me. As I left for work that morning I asked my son to be ready and dressed for soccer, to have his bag packed for the sleepover, and to get his friend’s cell phone number so we could find each other at the designated pick up spot at a high school on the opposite side of town. After dropping him off, his siblings and I were going to meet up with friends all the way back on the other side of town. Is your head spinning? Mine was.

I went home during my lunch break to pick up my son and bring him back to my office. I left work a little early to drop him off at his soccer game on time, and then headed back home to pick up my daughter from the babysitter’s house and to pick up my other son as he got off the bus. Together, the three of us drove back to watch the rest of my son’s soccer game. After the game we drove on to the meeting point where he was going to get picked up.

“So you got your friend’s number?” I asked.

“I tried to ask him for it, but he never sent it to me.”

“Well, did you figure out exactly where at the high school we’re meeting?”

“I don’t know. Somewhere around the football field, probably.”

It was twilight when we arrived at the high school. We drove around the parking lot nearest to the football field, looking for his friend.

“Do you know what kind of car they drive?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

“No, but just let me out here, I’ll find them,” he said with his hand already starting to open the car door as we circled the lot.

“Stop! We’ll just drive around until we see them.”

“Just let me out here,” he insisted, growing agitated, “You can go now.”

“I’m not going to leave you here to wander around the school all by yourself at night. Relax!”

“Fine! You can stay here in the car if you want. Let me out and I’ll come back to let you know when I’ve found them.”

“It will be much easier and quicker for me to just drive you around. Why are you acting so squirrelly? Are you embarrassed to be seen with me or something?”

“YEAH!” he said far too readily, and in a matter-of-fact tone that cut like a knife through butter. “There are people here! I don’t want everyone in the world to know my mommy had to drive me here.”

“Uhhhh…you’re 14. Everyone knows your mommy has to drive you everywhere. It’s kind of obvious. How else would you get here?”

By now he was really getting his panties in a twist.

“Just let me handle this! This is so embarrassing!”

I think of myself as a reasonable person. I’m not zen by any means, but I’m not crazy, either. But there comes a moment when one is pushed a little too far.

“You want embarrassing?” I snapped, “Because believe me, I can unleash all kinds of embarrassing, Buster!”

And thus commenced an epic hissy fit…One to go down in the history books. I was a grey-faced, slavering Harpy, winging into Athens with unsheathed talons and a crazed glint in my eye. I was Krakatoa, spewing volcanic ash and incinerating everything within my path. I was Enola Gay releasing the atomic bomb.

I’m not exactly sure what I looked like in that moment of terrifying wrath, but I imagine it was probably something like this:

The National Gallery

On Monday I walked around The National Gallery with my son.

We checked out two of the special exhibits going on there right now:

We lingered in the galleries featuring the works of Dutch masters…

In these galleries I discovered that I am far less sophisticated than my eleven year old…

“Look at the amazing way the artist painted the light and shadows on the columns!” he exclaimed in wonder.

I might have noticed that myself if I hadn’t been so preoccupied with this:

On our way out, we witnessed something really cool. This is someone painstakingly hand carving the names of benefactors into a marble slab:

The IX Art Park

The IX Art Park in Charlottesville, Virginia just had its grand opening on Sunday. The 17 acre park is a vibrant, dynamic, interactive community space dedicated to the arts.

There’s a “Before I Die…” chalkboard wall where people are encouraged to make public their most cherished dreams and aspirations…

It’s filled with inspiring messages of hope, such as:

“Find true peace in my soul”

“Travel the world”

“Build a flourishing practice that helps people love their lives”

I was busily taking photos elsewhere when my daughter came running up to find me with eyes shining. She brought me over to look at what she had written on the wall.

“Guess which one is mine?” she asked.

Gosh, I’m proud…

Simply bursting with pride, really.

The kids and I participated in the Rainbow Rush 5K, which was part of the grand kickoff for the Art Park. Inspired by the Holi festival, the race was designed to be a “color run.” There were stations set up around the route where people would pelt the runners with different powdered colors.

A few more photos back at home:

We had so much fun, my daughter and I went back on Monday to explore some more.

I’m signing off for the rest of the week. Hope your week is wonderful!

The Fragrance of Ink

Many years ago I saw a traveling exhibit of literati paintings of the Choson Dynasty from the Korea University Museum. I was enchanted by the name of the exhibit – “The Fragrance of Ink.” Inspired by that evocative phrase, I wrote this haiku. (Is it cheating that I didn’t make up 1/3 of the poem)?

The fragrance of ink
Is subtle, but insistent
Lingers, and is gone.

This literati painting is my favorite work of art that I own. It was done for my father by his friend, a well-known calligrapher. The words are a description of my father’s character:  “Deep thoughts, Great spirit”:


I love how the vigorous characters boldly wriggle, leap, pirouette and undulate as if they were going to dance right off the paper.

May your weekend be filled with beauty.