Thursday, September 29, 2011

Art On The Avenue!

River Farms, former property of George Washington
Hey, Peeps!

This Saturday is a spectacular fun event in Alexandria, Virginia. It is called Art On The Avenue, and it occurs every October. On Saturday, Mt. Vernon Avenue in Del Ray will be closed down, so that the city can turn out to shop all day for one of a kind objets d'art, as well as unique clothing, jewelry, tasty food and drinks.
I hate to miss a good time, so I will most definitely be there with bells on.
You can catch me at 11am - 12 noon,  in the Del Ray Artisans Gallery at the Colasanto Center doing an oil painting demonstration. I will be painting the architectural scene shown above, which happens to be a gorgeous building on the Potomac River, not far from my home.

Painting buildings is a challenge, so who knows how much I can get done in one hour, but we shall see. 

I will also be passing out Catalogs of The Art League School, as well as save- the- date cards for the Art League's fabulous schedule of events this Fall/Winter, and benefactor opportunities at the Art League.

Uh oh, sounds like to I need to have six arms, like Shiva.
SO come on down. Be there or be square.

Your Imaginary Friend,

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

For the Birds

Question: What is a raptor? It's a bird of prey who eats his food after catching it in the wild with his talons.
The Garden Club of Waynewood threw a party Friday night, featuring 7 unusual invited guests: Raptors all.
Three owls, 2 falcons and 2 hawks made the garden club's acquaintance. There was a lot of squawking amongst the guests of honor.
Facts for your next dinner party: Owls have 75% more neck vertebrae than humans, because they cannot move their eyes from side to side, and have narrow fields of vision. Thus the swiveling head motion, "The Exorcist" style... Owls are not intelligent enough to train, but they sure are cute, especially the tiny ones. Their hearing is superb.
I'm Not Sure, But I Think This Owl is Making Eyes At Me!
Profile of the Barred Owl
Falcons are a bit more excitable and threatening, close-up. They have long needle like beaks, which can spear their prey, and their finger-like talons are long and sharp. I saw one knitting, without needles!

Hawks like to float along in the sky until they see a fish through the water. Then they swoop down in a corkscrew flight at 200 mph, at a force of 20g's. (The corkscrew is a necessity, because their eyes are on the side of their head. But it is also handy at a Wine and Cheese tasting.)

Humans cannot maintain their consciousness beyond 7-8 g's. If we could figure out how the hawks do it, then maybe we could conquer the world!

Or maybe we would all just be making ourselves dizzy.

Your Imaginary Friend,

The Garden Club of Waynewod Turns 50!

Large Red-Tail Hawk
Falcon: check out his talons, thank you very much
Dear Imaginary Friends,

My garden club turned 50. Due to their impending midlife crisis, they decided to have birds of prey come to a meeting and attack us. OK, not really, but close.

The Raptor Conservancy lectured us about raptors, and brought seven charming and not so charming examples.We had a few cute owls, a few scary falcones that semed possessed, and two hawks.
ALL of them like to hunt their prey, scoop them up with their extra long talons, and carry them off for dinner.

Falcons only eat birds, but hawks can eat seagulls, rabbits and fish.
One-Pound Owl
Tiny one-pound owls eat a whole mouse in one meal. And I eat Three Musketeers. I guess that raptors find my food choices odd.

Not a raptor,

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Who Likes Faccia Luna in Alexandria, Virginia??

Saturday Night
WE DO!!!!! Virginia likes their salads, Parker likes chewing their straws, and Danny likes their pasta Bolognese.
Nice weather, outdoor seating, a Cosmo, and a relaxed Saturday night.

Your Imaginary Dining Friend,

Thursday, September 22, 2011

River Farms

This is one of the paintings that I plan to exhibit at River Farms, home of the American Horticultural Society in Alexandria, VA, September 2012 through January 2013.
There will be 45 paintings all told.  That is a big goal for me! Sixteen vats of iced tea should give me the caffeine I need to make it there.:)| Plus the sugar rush of a case of Twizzlers.

Your Imaginary Friend,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Work Makes Us Free

Built within the protective walls of a fort one hour outside of Prague is the hideous concentration camp of Terezin. It was the final stop on the way to Auschwitz for Jews, a few Christians, Gypsies, homosexuals, and political dissidents.

The Nazis waged a huge deception on the public, pretending that they were conducting a ghetto neighborhood within the high walls. The train cars went silently into the camp, and silently out, as the nearby villagers wondered what or who was coming and going and why. Terrible Terezin outside Prague was named for Maria Therese.
The Nazis were very skilled with propaganda, and created a false film for the Red Cross, which was so convincing that the Red Cross gave this camp, which murdered tens of thousands, glowing compliments.

Terezin, a Concentration Camp

Terezin Camp Block A

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Embassy of Cyprus, Bernie Madoff, and Andy Warhol

 Dear Imaginary Friends Around the World,

 Thanks to my friend who was a State Department employee, I was invited to docent at the residence of the Ambassador of Cyprus today, and was greeted warmly by him and his wife, shown around, and treated like family. Ambassador and Mrs. Anastasiades were both extremely friendly. My job was to welcome the visitors, ask them to keep their mitts off the precious antiquities, and give them some facts. I was standing guard over two amphoras that dated to 8000 BC. That means that they predate the Egyptian dynasties and that the paint really should have chipped by now! IF they broke, I would be big trouble! 

The stunning Beaux Arts mansion from 1918, which is for sale for a mere 5 mil, is on S street, off Massachusetts Ave., in the Kalorama section of northwest DC.

Fun facts about Cyprus: They have a wine industry. Tourism is very important to their economy. They speak Greek and are closer in location to Syria and Turkey than they are to Greece. Their flag is the only national flag that contains the outline of their country. Their national color is a vibrant apricot: a mix of yellow and orange, with all the warmth of a Mediterranean summer. In ancient mythology, Venus the goddess of beauty and love, was born from a clam-shell of the coast of Cyprus!

For my time, efforts, and body guarding of the amphoras, I was given a ticket to the embassy tour. With the ticket in hand, Carlo darted in to the Woodrow Wilson Home, and I visited a private residence that included original Calder prints and Warhol soup can paintings.

After that, we raced over to the Jewish Community Center, to see the play Imagining Madoff. There were three characters: Bernie Madoff, his dim witted secretary, and his Holocaust surviving older rabbi friend, whom Madoff made penniless. It was a very good play, and the acting very believable.
Check it out!

A full day, and now time to rest,

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Cute Stuffings Turns One

Parker decides that his candle is interesting     

Parker had his first birthday party, but he was a bit of a mess. After poking his finger into the middle of his chocolate frosted cupcake, he proceeded to chew on his candle.
Emily Post might have winced, had she been in attendance today!

Your Imaginary Friend,

Uncle Jerry: The Last Time I Saw Him

Uncle Jerry with Parker at Kathy's wedding in May, 2011
Dear Imaginary Friends,

Uncle Jerry was my uncle, and someone I will never forget. He was so kind, so sweet. Growing up in New Orleans, my mother's younger brother came over to our house for every Sunday dinner, and Sunday mass was a group outing. He was there at every graduation, awards ceremony, talent show. He was there. Period. Never missed an occasion. He was like a second father to us three Miller girls.

He had the kind of head of hair that most men dream about, and a personality that was so very easy going.

It was with a very heavy heart that we went to his funeral last week in New Orleans, to say goodbye. He had just run on the treadmill four days before he passed away at 78. He was weak in bed for 3 days, then rushed to the ER, pronounced with acute leukemia, and died the day after.

It was shocking. He was the Teflon man, who had survived so many health problems, it defied belief. To see him knocked down so quickly was devastating to his entire extended family. He had survived the Korean War, cancer, and a bad heart. He also had COPD.

It was very hard to say goodbye to someone so loving. His legacy was a great example he showed to his three sons, who should follow the way he set forth: Live in love and light. And that will go on.

I miss Uncle Jerry.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Year Ago Today

Cookie holding Parker
Only an hour old
Dear Imaginary Friends,

Grandbabies are so special. The first time I held tiny Parker was a year ago today. He was small, fresh and sweet. His hair was dark and shiny, his skin flushed red.

How he has grown and changed over the last year! He has traveled from newborn to infant to toddler. He now walks, sings and dances. He has blond hair, blue/brown eyes. He is a snuggler and an explorer; daring and afraid: A contradiction in terms.

Words cannot explain the bloom in your heart when you first hold your child's child. It is the best gift there is.

Your Imaginary Grandmother,

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy Or Sad

Patsie and Beth contemplate the finer things in life
Dear Imaginary Friends,

Whether you are happy or sad, a snowball makes things better. Especially if it is from Casey's Snoballs in Metairie, Louisiana.

Your snowball fiend,

Snag a Nectar Soda

At the Creole Creamery in New Orleans on Prytania Street

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jacques-Imo's, Cher!

Dear Imaginary Friends,

What says New Orleans more than Jacques-Imo's restaurant on Oak Street ? It is the flavor of the Big Easy, with joyful decor, based on swamp scenes and Mardi Gras.

Seen above are Susan, Patsie and Beth, the three Miller girls, dining on Saturday night.

Patsie snagged some big Barbecue Shrimp. And don't forget the yummy cornbread with green onions on it.
See you there next time, y'all!

Your Imaginary Friend,

Parker this Month

Dear Baby Boy,

Happy birthday from your grandmother.

You are tiny and sweet
From your head to your feet
And I want to dance
At your wedding one day.

Lots of love,

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cologne, Germany: Smells Like History

Inside the huge cathedral of Cologne, built in Gothic times...the height of the ceiling was considered a representation of proximity to heaven and to God himself. 

What I noticed right away is that some Roman artifact ruins, including a pediment, a sarcophagus and various Roman capitals, were almost free for the stealing, outside next to the Museum. Are they so plentiful in Germany that nobody cares if they are stolen? Here in America, there are none, so they are considered true treasures.

Today, Cologne is a busy city with a sophisticated buzz. Yet Cologne is where the first eau de toilette was created. The original fragrance is still for sale as well as a updated version. Both smell lovely. It was an olfactory revelation to sniff what my ancestors sniffed two hundred years ago.  The old standard of flowers, mixed with herbs and incense, familiar and yet not...

Your imaginary perfume wearer,

Friday, September 9, 2011

Guilty Much?

Dear Imaginary Non-Nazis,

In Koblenz,Germany,  a town riddled with World War II guilt, in a country riddled with same, the town tried to commemorate the dead Jews whose homes were looted and burned down, whose occupants were starved and then incinerated. By putting plaques on the sidewalk where their house once stood, present day Koblenz citizens now get to walk on them, too.

Your Friend,

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Castle on the Rhine

How magical it is to cruise down the Rhine River atop a boat sipping your iced tea, looking left and right to gaze upon one after the other Medieval castle? Some were more like forts and some were more like palaces.

Some are now open as hotels to defray expenses.

Once upon a time, castles housed lords who charged tolls to all those boaters who passed through "their" part of the Rhine. It must have been nice to have a fiefdom, and have your serfs collect your tolls!

According to the tour guide, the Rhine is the most heavily traveled river in the world. I find that dubious, but who knows. There were obviously many deutchsmarks to be made in the toll business.

Your Imaginary Friend,

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cute Stuffings: Cookie Monster

MY favorite baby of all time, lil Cookie Monster, Parker.

Your Imaginary Granny,


The Germans are obsessed with cars! And they manufacture some stellar ones: Mercedes, BMW's, and Volkswagen. But the Czechs manufacture the Skoda: A car deemed cheap, unreliable, and very possibly built with spackle.

Touching a stranger's car is tantamount to insulting their dignity. The car is sacrosanct, and the altar of all altars is the crazy Autobahn.

Our tour group traveled in a bus from Dusseldorf to Cologne on the Autobahn. It was cool to see the cars whizzing by on rain-soaked roads.

The Autobahn is a system of roads intersecting Germany, in every direction. It is their interstate system. The road has three lanes going each way: Slow, fast, and faster. By slow, I mean the bus lane, going 60 mph. The fast middle lane is about 80-90 and the faster left lane is about 100-120mph. There are very many traffic fatalities as you might imagine. Passing other cars is only permitted to the left, and not the right.

Above in the photo, is a very old French Citroen, parked in Aschaffenburg, Germany, outside the Johannesburg Castle.

I survived the Autobahn!

Your friend,

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I Think I'm Turning Japanese

Dear Imaginary Friend,
Tan Carlo and Pale Patsie

I am possibly the palest person you have ever not met. And in America, it is a negative. Here the tan, whether real or fake, is admired. Pasty white people are considered unhealthy looking.
Well, I finally found out where I need to move to: Japan.

On our cruise in Germany, one of the passengers was a Japanese obstetrician. She was a young woman around 30 who appeared to be allergic to the sun or perhaps mentally ill. She covered up her entire body even while inside, with black sweater sleeves that extended down to her mid-fingers. Outside, enduring the 93 degree heat, in addition to her entire body being covered up, she wore a ginormous hat that hung down to her chin, with a see-through green plastic inset, through which she could gaze. 

I thought, what in the world is her situation?
It turns out that in Japan, the whiter the skin, the higher the class. She was deathly afraid of getting freckles or tanning.

Whee ha! Sayonara!

Your Imaginary Friend,

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Prince Lowenstein's Wine Cellar

Candelilit wine barrels
Drinking the Prince's Brew
A huge candlelit wine cellar in Franconia, Germany

Dear Imaginary Friends,
Carlo and I took a side trip to hang out at Prince Lowenstein's castle, and drink his excellent wines. We liked the Silvaner Kabinett Dry. It is a 2009 Thungersheimer Scharlachberg. Hard to request that mouthful at a bar.

Most German wines are dry Rieslings.  They were excellent: clean  and crisp.

Living the life!

Your Imaginary Wine Taster Friend,

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hotel Imperial in Prague

Dear Imaginary Friends,

We loved, loved, loved the our five star Art Deco Imperial Hotel in Prague on Na Porici.
Such a beautiful spacious room, and such a fabulous art nouveau decor!
Seen in these photos is the gorgeous restaurant there, which is run by a famous Czech chef. "The Gordon Ramsay of Prague"
The food was ok. Go there to be impressed by the beauty, and have a dessert instead.

Your imaginary traveler,

Czechs, Germans and Beer

Che Guevara??
The Czech Republic is the number one country in consumption of Beer! Germany is number two and Ireland is number three. But they also like their hard liquor. And jeagermeister and schnapps are omnipresent.

The most popular beer in Prague is Pilsner Urquell, which has a rich creamy head. Almost like beer mit schlagg (beer with cream). OK, I made that one up.

During the Oktoberfests and other assorted beer and wurst festivals, the girls wear Dirndl dresses and the men wear lederhosen, which are leather shorts with suspenders. Real cool. Not.

"Dirndls 'R' Us!"
Also for sale in Bamberg, ridiculous hats for men.

Berger in German means citizen. Ham burger means citizen who eats pork. And that is just about everybody!

Your Imaginary Jet Lagged friend,

Prague Restaurants: Celnice and Mylnec, both in Old Town section

Near the old town square in Prague, Patsie consumes delicious Hungarian goulash with potato pancakes and other stuff.
Reasonable and delish! 
Not the lightest cuisine.
Carlo eats a vegetarian dish of tomatoes, green peppers, cheese and garlic. And lots of brown bread.

The one word I learned in Czech is Ahoy. It means hi!
Imaginary conversation between me and Ya'clav Havel, former Czech prime minister and famed playwright:

Me:  Ahoy, Ya'clav!
Ya'clav:   Czerny spanglrytrnz euro nuclear crizenwrshky; gurtnvrdgycds!!
Me:    Ahoy!

Remembering directions in this town is all but impossible. The words are a string of consonants, designed to confuse anyone who is not Slavic.

We had another wonderful but expensive meal at Mylnec, on a balcony overlooking Prague's river, and the famous and beautiful Charles Bridge. The sun was setting....
View from Mylnec's balcony, dinner table, of river
Looking right from balcony, a gondolier, Venetian style
Ah, Prague! SO friendly.I had filet mignon wienerschnitzel. Weiner means Viennese. And also means battered and fried.


Shmuck kontor???

Dear Imaginary Friends,

What is this, a shmuckkontor, in Koblenz, Germany, you might ask? It means jewelry store in German. AH, the charming language that trips off the tongue so delightfully.

Here is another word I love: Shnell. It means, hurry up.
German Frau Mutter to imaginary children: Shnell, kinder, und eat dat wurst!

Only one problem: there are no children in Germany. Apparently, Germany is too expensive in which to raise children, and all couples work. Therefore, the Deutsch govt. tries to bribe families to produce der kinder. But to no avail. Two hundred fifty euros per year is not sufficient bribe. Maybe the govt. should throw in a BMW? The birth rate is a sad little .8%. We saw no kids in Germany. On the other hand, Prague was chock full of them. Strollers everywhere and mommies smiling.

Another German word I like: kindergarten. It means children in the garden. Just as we raise and tenderly cultivate our children, so are the flowers. They grow if tended.

Which leads me to a pic of the Bund flower show:
Your traveler,

Picture Perfect Koblenz, Germany

Half Timber Bavarian Style home in Koblenz, with geraniums in window boxes

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Germany, Gesundheit!

Dear Imaginary Friends,

My adorable husband and I just returned from a very illuminating trip to Germany and Prague.
Germans sure do have their quirks. I will attempt to convey the highlights over the next ten or so blog entries.

The Diet Might Just Kill You

There are three kinds of vegetables in Germany. And two of them are cabbage! And one of them is potatoes.
The meats they serve are pork and pork. They do love their pork in Germany! But they eschew corn, which is basically fed to pigs. So I guess they are actually eating corn, by the transitive property of a +b = c. C being Spackle.

All the menu items appeared to contain Spackle. Der Wienerschnitzel? Spackle and pork, deep fried!
There were creepy sausages like blood sausage, which oozed red when you cut into it. Hey, I can just bite my tongue and get the same effect. The Germans like to use every last part of the pig. It is best to avoid the wurst, because you don't know which wurst is worse.

Koblenz, Cleaner Than the Queen's Hanky

The courthouse in charming Koblenz is decorated with the face of a man, who was hanged for murder. To the end, he claimed that he was innocent, and when he was hanged, he stuck out his big red tongue. For some unknown reason, the Germans memorialized him on the front wall of the court house. The above photo is the bas relief of his face. What makes this extra special is that the eyes go back and forth constantly, like a metronome, to convey his saying, "No, Achtung, I am sure I did not kill anyone!!"

This is your one-of-a-kind decoration that leaves you scratching your head, but chuckling, too. Creepy and funny at the same time.

Koblenz was adorable, and possibly the cleanest little town I have ever visited,. Even the air was shiny. Those Germans know their cleaning materials.  All the buildings had been fully restored. Everywhere you turned, window boxes of geraniums brought cheer. The town was hosting a national, or even international flower show, similar to the one in London called the Chelsea Flower Show. It was called Bundflowerconventionheimerstadt, or something just like that. It featured very creative displays that made my head expand with possibilities. It actually exceeded the artiness of the Annual Philadelphia Flower Show, and that is saying something.

And there were no visible Nazis. Always a plus! Germany is so orderly and the people are such great engineers. I respect their products. Especially the ingeniousness and humor of their Glockenspiels!

Your Imaginary Friend,