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Stress Relief Pie

“We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.”― David Mamet, Boston Marriage It’s been a stressful time. The contentious election, the uncertainty in the aftermath, the rising coronavirus cases.  Plans made.  Plans unmade. I’ve had a hard time getting focused and being creative these past few weeks…it feels like a year! But when the going gets tough, there’s nothing better than taking the advice of the Victorian ladies in Mamet’s play…..and have pie. Since it is close to Thanksgiving, I will share my favorite Pumpkin Pie Recipe…   Pumpkin pie goes great with Lychee Sherbet (find it at your local Asian store) Natasha’s Pumpkin Pie 1 15oz can pureed pumpkin 1-1/2 cups Coconut milk 3/4 cup white sugar 1/2 tsp salt 1 tbl pumpkin pie spice 1/4 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp ground ginger 1 grating nutmeg (or 1/8 tsp) 2 large eggs 1 unbaked pie shell (you can use any crust recipe you like.  I prefer to use  refrigerated pie dough that you roll out and put in your own pie pan.  But pre-fab frozen ones work and making from scratch always works! Put pumpkin in a bowl or large measuring cup.  Add sugar and spices and mix well. Add coconut milk (you can substitute  1 can evaporated milk if you like… that was the original ingredient until my Mother became lactose intolerant then we switched to coconut milk and make hers without a crust.) Add the eggs and mix well. Pour into pie shell. Bake at 325F for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for about 1 hour or longer.  Can also be refrigerated before serving… but we never wait that long!   Chase Away the Blues -Blueberry Pie This is one of my favorites

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Xena: Warrior Butterfly

This has been an interesting time… the pandemic has kept us mostly at home… so instead of doing what I normally do during the summer months (travelling across the county to present henna programs to local libraries), I have been in the backyard, watching birds, bees and butterflies. We planted wildflowers to encourage the butterflies and were thrilled to see our first Monarch caterpillars in the spring…but we didn’t see any butterflies… Some sleuthing online brought the dangers caterpillars face to light…birds, lizards, beetles, parasites… so, we decided to rescue some caterpillars and raise them indoors to increase their chances of making it to adulthood. We found a very tiny caterpillar and put it in a container with a clean paper towel and some washed leaves and watched it grow. (We washed the leaves with a 5% bleach solution to kill any fungus, bacteria or other parasites, as recommended by many Monarch rearing information sites) And the little caterpillar ate… and grew…. And ate and ate…we were glad we had lots of milkweed…and even went to the Nursery to buy more! And then one day, we woke up and there  wasn’t a caterpillar in the container…but a beautiful celadon chrysalis! Then we waited for 2 weeks…. And saw the chrysalis grow transparent.  We knew our baby was getting ready to emerge (or “eclose” in technical butterfly language) Something was attached to her wing and had caused it to be deformed…. My husband prodded it with a toothpick and this larval-looking thing fell off! It looked just like a tachinid fly larvae….we had experienced them bursting from newly pupated chrysalises like horrible aliens… could this little butterfly have killed the larvae while in the chrysalis?  No one knows.  No one is actually sure what it is.  We took Xena (I named

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This little kitty…

Meet Max.  He loves to hide under his favorite blanket and attack anything that tries to move in front of him.  It’s hard to believe that he was once a shy kitten rescued with his “sister” from the San Diego Humane Society. Now he is king of the household, photobombing his person’s Zoom concerts and keeping tabs on the finches that nest under the eaves… This portrait incorporates printed information about ragdoll cats, paper made from collected fur, folk songs about cats and other fun stuff. The whiskers were made from napkins.  Everything was glued onto a cradled wooden panel which has a wire on the back for hanging. It is 12 inches by 12 inches. This collage painting not only got into the juried online art show, 2020 Reigning Cats and Dogs, it won Honorable Mention!  This little kitty has come a long way indeed! Viewable from SEPTEMBER 5, 2020 THROUGH SEPTEMBER 4, 2021. Click here to see the show!

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To Catch a Tiger….

As an anniversary treat, my husband and I spent our special day at the San Diego Botanic Garden (a must-visit if you are in the area) and then stopped off at the Butterfly Farms just down the road. I took a ton of photos that day, but one that jumped out as something I HAD to paint was this Western Tiger Swallowtail on a red Pentas Flower plant. It started with laying in a ground layer of ephmera. I sponged deep purple and dark blue over the ephemera, then sketched the flowers in white chalk. I painted the whole plant with white gesso, then started adding color to the leaves. Then I colored in the flowers, noting that each petal is a triangle. Then I started adding in painted paper glued onto the leaves and stems. Then I started ripping petal pieces for each flower, careful to have a variety of shades of red. I figured there were more than 70 flowers with 5 petals each…that was a lot of ripping during our evening Dr. Who… This is a closeup of the flowers and how the petals are arranged. Finally, the flowers were completed! I painted a butterfly onto a piece of paper, cut it out and tried various options. I rearranged the butterfly several times before I found the right orientation. This was the version that most people on Facebook voted for. After deciding where to place the butterfly, I started gluing on the paper bits. And the piece is finally finished! This was a very fun piece to do.  I am very fond of Swallowtail butterflies and the pentas flowers were a really fun challenge.  Using a cut-out of the butterfly element really gave me a chance to try out placement to see what worked best.  In the

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Enough is enough!

It’s been a long few months.  Exhausting, emotional, trying months. Everyone has been stressed and on edge. And then we saw that video.  That awful truth. We watched as George Floyd was murdered, in cold blood, while other officers just watched and did nothing. That was the the last straw.  After so many years and so many people who have died, this was clearly seen and its visceral shock woke us all up.  We cannot claim things are all right, when we can see that they are not.  I’m not usually a political person. But I care deeply about human rights. And as the daughter of Dr. P, civil rights activist, math professor and photographer, I grew up on the campus of the historically black college, Fisk University in the 1970s. I was the only white person on the bus in 1971 when my neighborhood integrated the suburbs. (Imagine the protestor’s surprise when I got off that bus at age 7). I went to hear Angela Davis, Dick Gregory, Nikki Giovanni, and Alex Haley (who also spoke at Pearl High, my alma mater). I was in an interesting place during interesting times. Things weren’t all pretty and I was not unscathed. But I saw the racism in the system and I saw how my friends and schools were not seen or heard. I left the South for that reason. California isn’t perfect, either… I am a quiet person who is not an activist, but I must speak the truth when I see it. When the same situation repeats itself…over and over again…. it is time to change the situation. Too many people have died. I don’t condone violence of any kind. I am not justifying the riots or looting. I think the message of the protests is being lost in

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Happy New Year, 2020!

Wishing you a very happy Lunar New Year of the White Metal Rat! We have a tradition in our family of sending out our yearly letter by Lunar New Year instead of Christmas.  Christmas time is usually very hectic — end of the semester, travel to visit in-laws…. it’s just easier to write our year’s review in mid-January to early February — whenever the New Year happens to fall.  The Lunar New Year begins on the 2nd new moon after the Winter Solstice and continues for 10 days.  The Year of the Pig was most excellent.  A few highlights: juried into Spanish Village as a patio artist was a vendor at CatCon in Pasadena showed my artwork in 2 juried shows: The Small Image Show in January and the Reigning Cats and Dogs Show in October opened an Etsy shop under the Poppyfish label juried into the Southwest Artists’ Association The Year of the Rat promises to bring lots of change and travel.  The biggest item on the agenda is travel with my husband as he takes a sabbatical.  The Fall semester (starting in late August) will see us spending time in Chicago, Tel Aviv, and New York City.  My husband will work with colleagues in those cities on collaborative research.  I am still figuring out what I will do, but the current idea is to meet local artists, take classes and work on painting and collage. Our kitties will travel with us when possible, and stay home with our amazing cat-sitter when not. Alas, no CatCon this year since it is scheduled for the last week-end in August.  But I am on the list for 2021! Come on down to Spanish Village to see some of my artwork! Two of my pieces were juried into the 45th Annual Small

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