my old country house



I’m back.

It has been a rocky – up and down – very bad and very good year – thus far.

Maybe that will be the name of my first book

“Lesli’s Up and Down, Very Bad and Very Good Year”

JANUARY – The first month of 2020 was going along well. I was painting for a February show, prepping for Dog A Day. This included a painting of a KOALA which I intended to auction to donate to the Kangaroo Island Wildlife center in Australia.

“BLUE” was the name of the Koala we held in Australia. He even made this year’s Christmas /New Years Card Card

Orders were coming in fast. Then – life changed on a dime.

I lost a very very dear friend. She took her own life. Out of the blue.  To say that I could write volumes and never come close to putting into words the deep and far-reaching impact of this loss – is a profound understatement. So for now, this is all I will say. this – and I miss her every day.

FEBRUARY- Holed up in my Bunker (Studio)  and knowing that I needed a VERY BIG DISTRACTION from my sadness – I threw myself into my work and I painted 36 dogs (which included 3 cats ) in 30 days. It was exhausting and exhilarating and awesome and Oh my gosh – just so much fun. I sold out and I even added 7 extras  PORTRAITS. With marathon intensity – I painted and I lost sleep and I painted and Valentines came and went and I ate a little chocolate.

I tried to adhere to my workout schedule but by mid-month – I needed to sleep more and had to dial that back. I ate, I painted and I tried to sleep while painting 14 hours a day. One of the few times I went out was to go to a Valentine’s Couple’s costume party with Damon. We went as Elizabeth Holmes (of Theranos  – Bad Blood etc) and her sleazy boyfriend, Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani. The duo played perfectly into our combo of Pop Culture obsessed Nerds. (If you don’t know who they are – I HIGHLY recommend you listen to the “Dropout” Podcast or watch the HBO Documentary “The Inventor”  or read the amazing book – “BAD BLOOD”.)  Needless to say – I have been obsessed with this story! Unfortunately, we got NO pictures at the party – but, just like Elizabeth’s uniform,  I wore a black turtleneck, red lipstick and heels and Damon wore an Official Theranos Lab Coat we found on Etsy!

The end of Dog a Day always coincides with the beginning of Spring Break so I finished up and we took a trip to Florida – sweet and simple.


Each of us was so exhausted. Cooper and his Girlfriend from their Winter semester (and Greek life), Damon from work and me – Just ALL of it. We soaked up the sun, we ate fresh fish and we Lay on the beach each day- sipped Prosecco, and all caught up on our sleep. Three days in –  I lost my voice, (Cooper had no voice when I picked him up at his dorm) and mine went away – completely, like no sound other than a squeak could come out. It turned into a cold eventually but with things starting the heat up about Coronavirus and to be as safe as possible we canceled our flights home and drove back from Florida. which brings me to a week ago. Each day has been a week. So many changes.

UVA canceled classes. Cooper came home. William and Mary Cancelled classes. Phoebe and her boyfriend came home. Our eldest son, the recent UVA grad living and working in NYC, rented a car and Tate came home. We have a houseful as I am sure most of you do as well. My husband is a bit of a low key Doomsday Prepper so over a two day period, he filled every cabinet,  pantry, and two refrigerators with provisions.

There have been many “Silver-Linings” throughout the week. There have been sit-down dinners every night. Everyone is sleeping well. Movies have been watched as a group. Puzzles tackled. I bought watercolors and we are all trying our hand at that. We take long walks outside every afternoon and see so many people doing the same. The kids have set up a makeshift “gym’ so we are working out like it’s our job. and The Dogs.  The dogs have NEVER been so happy. It’s like Christmas just keeps on going for them. It’s all mostly wonderful.

On the harder side – I had actually gotten quite used to having my house my way and having it STAY the way I leave it when I go places – and I’d be lying to say that this has been an easy transition. We FILL this house. All of us. Each corner.  Everyone has lost something quite significant – maybe not forever – but for the foreseeable future. Phoebe and her boyfriend (Esteban, from Mexico and also living with us ) won’t have Spring graduation from William and Mary. Cooper is finishing his freshman year remotely. Tate is working remotely and Damon is teaching and working mostly remotely. I actually have had the least change – except that I had planned to spend two months in NYC this Spring and had rented a place to commute to and from.

But as each day passes and we adjust better to THIS – those things seem smaller and less significant. Because this time has no beginning, middle, or end – the conversations just keep going. We are getting to know each other – who we are NOW and not as we are on vacation or holiday. It’s pretty fantastic. even though it is not always easy. Phoebe WILL EVENTUALLY have a ceremony, Cooper’s classes went to Pass/Fail which makes his recent floundering grades more manageable. Tate is thriving at work and The golf industry might actually be one that will do well – you get to play outside in the fresh air and can keep a safe distance. #socialdistancing.  I’ll keep painting and cleaning and cleaning and complaining to the kids to “pick up” all the while knowing at my age that “THIS TOO shall pass” and I pray we hold onto some of this wisdom we have gained.


It probably goes without saying that my “Year of Buying Less” has been put to the test. OMG. Talk about a challenge!!! I have done surprisingly well and  I have identified many “triggers” – i.e. sadness, boredom and the desire to distract myself. But have done a pretty good job staying on task. In full disclosure – I have gotten one skirt and a top to wear to Phoebe’s graduation so I could pretend that it is going to happen. A bathing suit for Florida because mine all went missing. A shirt from Madewell for the trip and I bought a pair of jeans a turtleneck for my costume. But that is it!

I’l do better. And I will be writing about this experience regularly. I have a few home makeovers to do that I plan to share next week!

I hope everyone is healthy and safe and taking care to social distance!


3 thoughts on “IN THE SAME BOAT

  1. I was so happy to see your post in my inbox this morning! Thanks so much for letting us know about the happenings in your life and I am so sorry about the loss of your friend. It is a horrible time in the world for sure. I am happy that my kids are both at home now and that technology allows my husband to work from home too. I think the dogs of the world will certainly benefit from all this, I know Pepsi and Kalie are thrilled with all the attention and snuggles they are getting. We will come out on the other side of this, the uncertainty is over “when” that will happen. I am taking it day by day because if I think too much beyond that, it is too overwhelming. And it’s so beyond our control anyway! I am focusing on what my family and I can do and how our actions impact this, and that is to STAY HOME! Thank you, Lesli!

  2. My gosh,I was crying and laughing reading your blog today. I am a new fan or you and your gutless honesty was oh so rewarding. I love your family is home for thislong season. I can’t go see mine and I find my hubby so angry and critical through this. He is afraid but it comes off harsh and I am loneier than ever. So I put my faith forward and try to find joy in every tiny thing.

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