watercolor of flowers by emily weil

daily painting | peeking out

I recently heard a conversation on NPR between one dad with a couple of kids and a soon-to-be father. Dad #1 asked dad #2, “You mean to say you voluntarily signed up to have your heart ripped out of your chest EVERY SINGLE DAY for the rest of your life?” I laughed, as it was funny, but damned accurate. I’ve been reading different reviews and articles about how our culture is just beginning to consider previously unspoken points of view on parenting, particularly motherhood. Books are published, movies are made, and intelligent TV series are broadcast exploring how mothers deal with inner, searing conflicts about raising kids. Until now there have been two models of motherhood — the sacrificial saint, a madonna laying down her life for the children, and the bad mom — abusive alcoholic or, god forbid, a selfish career woman who abandons her kids (but usually, in the Hallmark movie, comes to repent and mend her ways). How hard is parenting? Nothing harder. I don’t care if you are CEO of a huge global enterprise, or have climbed Mt Everest 10 times, or are a Pulitzer-prize winning war correspondent. I have two adult children and still I have to practice letting go every single effing day, as they live their own lives and walk their own paths. So I applaud all the moms and dads out there who fumble along and do their best to raise their kids to be healthy, functioning adults. And I am glad women are finally breaking taboos and speaking up about how difficult it is to mother — the self-doubt, the confusion, the resentment, the heartache, the fear you took a disastrous wrong turn. I hope our current cultural climate begets honest conversations about this inner tumult. Because it’s there, even if concealed under the blankets of our sore hearts. And once again I am up on my soapbox! (Please forgive me.) It’s just that I have a fierce longing to be honest and embrace difficult feelings and say them OUT LOUD. Because, well, yes.

Speaking of mothering, this is Buster, my little rescue guinea pig, and I’m his mom. He’s super low maintenance. No drama or worries about his life choices. And he makes the cutest little squeaks (I think his piggie noises translate into, Hey Mom, thanks for the lettuce and cucumber sandwich). You’re welcome, Bubbie.

7″ x 7″ watercolor, pen, acrylic on paper = $65




daily painting | american kestrel

“Allow” is my word for today, the first anniversary of my sister Kay’s death. Unsurprisingly, my feelings are bouncing all over the place, so I think my best practice is to not resist today’s emotional road trip. I love the bullet points in “The Mourner’s Bill of Rights,” sent to me by a wonderfully supportive facilitator who comforts family members of those who chose “Death with Dignity.” A sampling:

• You have the right to experience your own unique grief

• You have the right to feel a multitude of emotions

• You have the right to experience “griefbursts”

Aren’t these marvelous? I will keep this card handy today as so far I am really needing it; my brains are scrambled and I’m upside down, so I’m just going with it. My little guy Buster greeted me this morning with his usual “Wheek! Wheek! Wheek!” which means Good morning, I’m hungry in guinea pig. I scratched his head and gave him some cucumber (his little purring noises crack me up). So far I’ve needed one trip to Berkeley Vacuum and Sewing Center to clean out the shavings from Buster’s cage that clogged my vacuum. He’s worth it, though my house smells like a barn from the small animal hay he eats, but it’s a nice smell. With all the death in my family and in the world lately, I am especially grateful for the miracle of life. In all its forms, including guinea pigs — warm friends who walk with me and hug me when I need to stop and sob for a few minutes, the wonderfully feisty falcon (American Kestrel, shown here) we banded last week, the butterflies visiting the plants on my deck, the occasional bat rays (that look like sting rays) gliding in the shallow water at low tide in my marina, the optimistic Cooper’s hawk that perches on top of the cement silos in our parking lot, playing I-Spy-With-My-Little-Eye (which is probably a gorgeous paprika color) a nice small songbird happy-hour hors d’oeuvre. I am happiest when I am 100% focused on this moment, this second in time. Because I am alive, and so are you, and isn’t that amazing? 
NOTE: Raptors are handled and banded at GGRO with appropriate state, federal and IACUC permits. 




watercolor and ink painting of guinea pig by emily weil

daily painting | buster posey

I wasn’t going to post this but looked at it again today after I came home from grocery shopping and decided my little painting showcases Buster’s adorableness. Buster Posey is my new guinea pig housemate, and how lovely to have another beating heart in the house! (I wasn’t quite ready for kitties.) My wonderful friends Allen and his wife Allison found this little guy in their Berkeley neighborhood, likely abandoned. They tried to find his owner (Allen, being a naturally brilliant biologist, properly sexed him) but no luck and Mr B needed a permanent home, so I adopted him. Allen and Allison and I decided his name should be Buster Posey, as he was Giants-orange and I live by the Posey Tube. Like, duh. Anyways, he’s pretty cute and I’ll probably do a few more sketches of him as he’s a wonderful model, sticking his head out of his favorite place to hang out, a little cave-like plush bed or a tunnel (shoe boxes work great). He’s a little eating machine, loving small-animal hay and sweet peppers and lettuce (Berkeley Bowl day-old produce is now a regular stop). I’m embarrassed at how many cushy little beds I’ve gotten for him. He also has a little play pen where he does laps for exercise and “popcorns” — guinea pigs do these darling little hops when they run around. Sometimes he holds still while I pet his head, and he makes a little purring sound which is heart-melting. OK that’s my animal news, and it’s a good thing my vacuum sucks up the small-animal bed shavings that spill from his cage, as they are everywhere (I pulled some out of my hair today, but things tend to get stuck in there). 

7″ x 7″ watercolor, pen, acrylic pen on paper