Beautiful and Delicious

I was working away in my studio the other day when I detected the unmistakable sound of a squirrel in my living room. I say unmistakable because, unfortunately this is not the first incidence of a squirrel intruder in my apartment. I went to the window just in time to see a grey, fluffy tail disappear through a freshly chewed hole in the screen. I opened the screen to look out and was horrified to see the culprit making off with my prized, handmade tomato pincushion in it's mouth! I shudder to imagine how I must have appeared to my courtyard neighbors, hanging out the window yelling "drop it!" to a fleeing squirrel. I watched helplessly as he leaped from the fire  escape onto a tree in the adjoining courtyard and proceeded to shred the once beautiful pin cushion to nothingness. I stood transfixed at the absurdity of the situation but somehow realized that this was a rare photo opportunity and managed to snap this shot before the item was completely destroyed.


thieving squirrel with stolen pin cushion

I simply could not fathom why a squirrel would be so attracted to a pin cushion, aside from the fact that I feed my courtyard squirrels during the winter months and by so doing erase their natural instincts to avoid human contact. In my experience they never cross the border of the squirrel/human existence unless there is a powerful motivation such as an open jar of peanuts taunting them from within. It wasn't until I related the story to my dear friend who had in fact presented the pin cushion to me as a Christmas gift that the whole thing made sense. He had purchased the pin cushion for me from Jane McMillen  after I admired the one he had bought for himself and he informed me that they are stuffed with none other than crushed walnut shells! Suddenly the whole incident made perfect sense and I couldn't really blame the squirrel for simply using it's natural resourcefulness to find food. My only fear was that he would ingest some of the fine, decorative pins adorning it but fortunately I found a neat pile of pins along with my needle threader on my windowsill where he must have painstakingly pulled them out before making away with his bounty. Jane has since very generously offered to replace my beloved pin cushion and I really must admit that the whole thing now ranks as one of the most absurd and amusing stories that I will enjoy telling for years to come.

handmade wool pin cushion

Here is a photo of the original item, hand stitched with love from wool and yes, crushed walnut shells. Truly beautiful AND delicious. You can purchase similar items at Jane's Etsy shop Little House Home Arts.

New Baby Squirrel

Each year I eagerly wait for the new baby squirrels to finally come out of their nests. Yesterday I was so thrilled to see one sitting right under his Mother's arms on my windowsill! Today when I left peanuts out I was able to snap this photo. I had to shoot them through the screen because the baby is still so skittish but as you can see the Mother has no problems peering in the window to get my attention! Happy Spring!

Daisy's Portrait Continues

Slowly but surely Daisy's portraits are progressing even though I never seem to find enough time to work on my own stuff. I am still excited about these portrait;. Daisy's expressions and personality are so apparent in all the photos I have of her and it is a challenge to capture them. Let's face it, most squirrels look alike. I have 5 of them now that I feed (all descendants of Daisy no doubt) and I must confess that I cannot tell them apart. Maybe squirrel features develop over time, after all Daisy was at least 4 years old and the present squirrels are 1 year at the most. It will be interesting to watch them grow and see if my theory holds water.

Terrific Figure Drawing Experience

Last night was my first experience with Dr. Sketchy's Anti-art figure drawing evening at the Slipper Room. It was different from any life drawing workshop I've ever attended because the models are all burlesque performers! Last night we had a contortionist in the spirit of the Olympics. She was amazing. I've never been so challenged by body positions in my life. Following are a few 1 minute sketches just to give you an idea of this woman's abilities. The long poses naturally were much more classical. It was great to be drawing from life again, it has been awhile and I was rusty but I look forward to improving. The place was packed and it wasn't very easy to see but next time I plan to get there early, have a glass of wine and secure a spot near the stage!


Merry Christmas

I finally finished painting my Christmas card and am ready to send it out, miraculously ahead of time! I usually use a dog portrait or do a special Christmas themed painting of Bingo but this year I thought it was finally time to immortalize my courtyard squirrels. This is Daisy on the left and Pip on the right enjoying some holiday cheer!

Sleepless in Manhattan

I’ve had a sleepless week mostly due to athe presence of pesky mosquitoes in the apartment . I had the same problem strangely enough last October only then it was so bad it reached Amityville Horror proportions. I was hunting down and exterminating half a dozen mosquitoes a night. I was half crazed with lack of sleep to the extent that my friends were beginning to doubt me with questions like “Has anyone else actually seen these mosquitoes?”  It was a terrible time for me and just as suddenly as it had begun, it ended and all was forgotten. Until this past week that is when I started hearing that un-mistakable buzzing around my head. Even Bingo was annoyed by them and would quickly jump off the bed and sleep underneath where they don’t bother him. The biggest problem is that once I am awake and even killed the mosquito if I am lucky, I simply cannot fall back to sleep. I just lie there for hours with my head filled with thought until the sun comes up and I drift off for an hour or two before I have to really wake up. Strangely enough in those hours I’ve been dreaming about squirrels; my squirrels as a matter of fact, chewing through the screens and coming into my apartment which believe it or not has happened more than once. It is not a continuation of the  Mosquito Amityville Horror but a direct result of my own behaviour. I have a family of 4 squirrels in the courtyard that I feed off the fire escape.


Daisy is the matriarch who has been coming around for about 3 years. Pip and Skippy are her children who were born last February or March and then there is the mysterious fourth squirrel who appears but is always greeted with hissing and squeaking from  Daisy who is very territorial. They are the jolliest of all creatures and watching their antics always brightens even the darkest of days. Daisy will actually come to the window sill of my studio to implore me through some sort of mind control to feed her. I can feel her beady little eyes boring into me from behind and I must obey. She is the only one I feed by hand as she knows the rules about chewing through the screen. A rule Pip seems to finally get after several successful attempts to enter the apartment. I hope my landlord never notices the patches upon patches on  all my screens, I will have a hard time explaining that away. Anyway it is most likely when I am  opening the screens to feed the squirrels and birds that the mosquitoes are getting in so you see it does all tie in together nicely at the end.