“It’s just a house! Do something with it!!”

  Last year, Paul and I bought the family beach house and these words from my mother's painting class keep me going. She charged her painting students with this and other pithy sayings when they were blocked. Today, the words seem prophetic. On the 15th anniversary of my mother’s death, my dear husband and I became sole owners of the Cape May house she adored. It’s a house that has served generations of our family and friends as a respite, a place of celebration, a center for art … [Read more...]

First Father’s Day Without My Father

Wicker Love

My father got things done. He applauded us when we got things done. So last week, when I arrived in Cape May, I vowed to restore two wicker chairs my father had cared for years ago. I thought it would be quick work, as the paint was peeling. I’d just shake them off, maybe use a wire brush, then coat them with the oil-based Cover Stain primer our friend Marc Shenfield (a certified wicker nut) recommended. Marc likes to get things done, and he had lovingly restored the rocker in the painting … [Read more...]

Defying My Mother, Again

                    Today marks fifteen years since my mother's death. As I awoke this morning, I remembered her last words to me. And I will defy them. I'll tell you about that soon, but first I need to set up the event of losing my mother so you understand how tangled this mother-daughter way can become. For the last two decades of her life, I considered my mother to be my best friend. She was a passionate artist. … [Read more...]

Cape May’s Avenging Angel: Carolyn Pitts

Well before Hurricane Sandy, there was the Great March Storm of 1962, a nor'easter that decimated the Mid-Atlantic seaboard. For the 23rd tribute of Women's History month, I'm smiling in gratitude as I think of Carolyn Pitts, an architectural historian who saved Cape May, New Jersey from the folly of urban renewal. Raised in Mount Airy, she graduated from Germantown High School, earned a bachelor's degree from Moore College of Art, and an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1962, as … [Read more...]