I know, it seems counter-intuitive to be “grateful” for 2020, but I am. I am so grateful, in fact, that I have made this my word of the year for 2021!

Gratitude has the power to heal in tough times.

Having gratitude gives hope. 

So, what am I grateful for 2020?

  • I’m grateful to be healthy
  • I’m grateful I learned it is okay to be anxious
  • I’m grateful I have the ability to walk and breathe fresh air
  • I’m grateful I live in this neighborhood and grateful for the new friends I’ve made
  • I’m grateful I really clarified my vision with the direction my art is taking. You can read about it on an earlier blog:


  • I’m grateful that I’m a learner by nature, and therefore boredom is something that rarely happens to me

I still have a sense of humor – as proved by the following musical tribute to the end of 2020.

What did I accomplish in 2020?

I painted a piano that now resides in the Art-Haus gallery in Atlanta, Ga. This was a gift from my lifelong friend that now resides in Costa Rica (it belonged to her grandfather. I am grateful I can go to the gallery weekly to play to a group of children that are part of an art-pod.

Vickie Martin teaching music to the children at Art-Haus Gallery, Atlanta, Ga.

I am grateful I had a successful solo show during the year.

Vickie celebrating in front of part of her exhibition at Art-Haus gallery, Atlanta, Ga.


I am grateful I was interviewed by Shout Out Atlanta which also resulted in TWO SALES!!! (click on below for the entire article). 

Meet Vickie Martin: mixed media artist and musician

I feel there is so much to be thankful and also so much to look forward to in 2021! I have two shows lined up in 2021, which is a good start. But that is what it is, it is a just a start!

By the way – beginning with March 29, I have walked over 1800 miles, met many new friends (especially is they have dogs!), explored many new places.

What are you thankful for from 2020???







I know, it seems counter-intuitive to be “grateful” for 2020, but I am. I am so grateful, in fact, that I have made this my word of the year for 2021!

Gratitude has the power to heal in tough times.

Having gratitude gives hope. 

So, what am I grateful for 2020?

  • I’m grateful to be healthy
  • I’m grateful I learned it is okay to be anxious
  • I’m grateful I have the ability to walk and breathe fresh air
  • I’m grateful I live in this neighborhood and grateful for the new friends I’ve made
  • I’m grateful that I’m a learner by nature, and therefore boredom is something that rarely happens to me
  • I never lost my sense of humor – and the following video – which is a goodbye tribute to 2020 – is proof of this!

What did I accomplish in 2020?

I painted a piano that now resides in the Art-Haus gallery in Atlanta, Ga. This was a gift from my lifelong friend that now resides in Costa Rica (it belonged to her grandfather. I am grateful I can go to the gallery weekly to play to a group of children that are part of an art-pod.

Vickie Martin teaching music to the children at Art-Haus Gallery, Atlanta, Ga.

I am grateful I had a successful solo show during the year.

Vickie celebrating in front of part of her exhibition at Art-Haus gallery, Atlanta, Ga.


I am grateful I was interviewed by Shout Out Atlanta which also resulted in TWO SALES!!! (click on below for the entire article). 

Meet Vickie Martin: mixed media artist and musician

I feel there is so much to be thankful and also so much to look forward to in 2021! I have two shows lined up in 2021, which is a good start. But that is what it is, it is a just a start!

By the way – beginning with March 29, I have walked over 1800 miles, met many new friends (especially is they have dogs!), explored many new places.

What are you thankful for from 2020???







If it is true that you are what you read, in the past two months I have been a pig (a good good one at that), an African grey parrot, a hawk, a pigeon, various talking animals and a movie star!  So here goes – in the order they were read:

THE GOOD GOOD PIG – THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF CHRISTOPHER HOGWOOD by Sy Montgomery – I met Christopher years ago on NPR.  Sy Montgomery, a naturalist who travels the world, and her husband adopted him as a small piglet, not knowing how big he would actually get (around 750 pounds, few pigs live to adulthood).  This is his story and also the story of a small New Hampshire town that adopted him, restaurants would bring him all the left-over food, in fact the entire small town ends up adopting him.  I fell in love with him and I am thankful I stopped eating pork years ago.

AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins – I agree with Stephen King who said “I defy anyone to read the first seven pages of this book and not finish it”. I couldn’t put it down and I couldn’t predict what was coming. I was so emotionally involved with these characters that I did something I don’t ever remember doing before – I put it down for over a week before I finished the last chapter – I was fearful for some of the characters! 

AFRICAN AMERICAN FOLKTALES FOR YOUNG READERS, FROM AFRICAN AND AFRICAN AMERICAN STORYTELLERS by Judith Dockrey Young and Richards Alan Young – This is a collection of thirty four folktales from Africa, the Caribbean, and the American South, divided  into seven categories: stories about heroic youngsters, animal fables, trickster tales, parables with human protagonists, larger-than-life heroes, scary stories, and modern Brother Rabbit tales. I picked this up in a Little Free Library and it was quite a treat to read.

Birdology: Adventures with Hip Hop Parrots, Cantankerous Cassowaries, Crabby Crows, Peripatetic Pigeons, Hens, Hawks, and Hummingbirds By Sy Montgomery –  I learned so much in this book and was thoroughly entertained.. One thing I learned, each bird has a unique personality – and they are more like us than I previously thought. One of the birds featured became an internet sensation – here is Snowball dancing.

AESOP’S FAVORITE FABLES; MORE THAN 130 CLASSIC FABLES FOR CHILDREN BY Milo Winter – I don’t believe I’ve ever read an entire collection of these. They are easy to read with great illustrations – ending with the lesson learned.

ALEX & ME: HOW A SCIENTIST AND A PARROT DISCOVERED A HIDDEN WORLD OF ANIMAL INTELLIGENCE – AND FORMED A DEEP BOND IN THE PROCESS BY Irene Pepperberg – I’ve read this book before and I loved the book and Alex just as much as I did the first time around. Alex had a brain the size of a shelled walnut, yet he could add, sound out words, understand concepts like bigger, smaller, more, fewer, and none,  He also has a big personality. If you have ever dreamed of talking to animals, you will love this one too!

ME TALK PRETTY ONE DAY By David Sedaris – It didn’t disappoint, but it isn’t for the easily offended. Sedaris makes absurdity seem normal!

Coat of Many Colors

Coat of Many Colors by ©vickiemartin2020, 20×20 on canvas

COAT OF MANY COLORS by Dolly Parton  (Author),Brooke Boynton Hughes (illustrator) – I got this book as inspiration for a piece of artwork I was working on knowing I would send it to my grand-niece when finished. It is delightfully illustrated and tells the story from the song Coat of Many Colors.

BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS by Kurt Vonnegut – Well worth the reread many many years later. And Kilgore Trout is in the book. To me, a win-win.

MOVIE STAR BY LIZZIE PEPPER – by Hillary Lifton – This is a beach read – kind of. It is basically a thinly veiled story of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. I read it in two sittings and don’t remember that much.

ECHOES OF THE SAME – by Nicki Salcedo – This was a book club selection by a local Decatur author. These essays come from a column called Intersections for Decaturish.com, a locally sourced news site based where I live. I liked her voice – what I didn’t like was the typos!

THE SOUL OF AN OCTUPUS: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery  – Okay – I read three books by Sy Montgomery in the past two months. I kept recommending this book when people were raving about the documentary – MY OCTUPUS TEACHER. I thought it was time to re-read it. An octopus is smart, and also curious and a bit of a prankster. I loved this quote about this book: “Sy Montgomery’s joyful passion for these intelligent and fascinating creatures will have you rethinking that order of calamari.” ― Library Journal Editors’ Spring Pick

NAKED by David Sedaris – Yes, this was my second David Sedaris book, and as hysterical as the other. You have to read all the essays to get to “Naked” – his time spent in a elderly nudist colony. As someone said, if you can’t laugh at his absurdity – you don’t have a sense of humor. Also – I stumbled upon the movie C.O.G. on Netflix which is based on some of the essays on his adventures apple picking in Oregon (on Amazon Prime). 

THE GIVER OF STARS by JoJo Moyes – This was a book club read, and another book club had recently read The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek. I thought they were very similar, but we started researching the possibility of plagiarism. My personal jury is still out on this one, but there are striking similarities. 

I hope this gives you some ideas on what to read. What are you reading?




I have been exploring music and memory with my art for a couple of years with a series titled “CAN YOU SEE WHAT I HEAR?”.  This was initially inspired by my mother’s dementia, but the fact I come from a musical family had a part in this decision.  I know, you hear “my family is musical” a lot. But in my case, it is true. My grandfather was a piano tuner and had a music store. My father rebuilt pianos and my aunt taught piano for over 70 years (she probably taught half of North Georgia how to play the piano!). In fact, I began learning at age five.

Every piece I create is inspired by a specific song and I begin with writing the lyrics of the song on the first layer. I not only study the lyrics but I meditate on them, searching for visual cues within the lyrics.  I also learn to play each song on the piano and really study the structure of the music. But the choice of the songs was a little random. Yes, I took requests. Some songs were chosen simply because I already knew how to play it on the piano. Below you can see some of the songs chosen and the art it inspired – with a line given for why the song was chosen.


Inspired by the song Bridge Over Troubled Water

Inspired by the song Bridge Over Troubled Water, which should be the theme song for all caregivers out there.

Moon River

Inspired by Moon River, “this is my favorite song in the world” I was told. Plus – it is a fun song to play.

Inspired by Up UP and Aware

Inspired by Up Up and Away “It is such a positive song!”

While I enjoyed creating these pieces, there was something missing – ME!

When I say I started walking, I mean I started WALKING! Since March 29th, I have walked every day but one (migraine headache). Since the beginning of April, I have achieved my daily goal of 11,000 steps every day but two (again the migraine, and the first day after the time change – I miscalculated nightfall!). If I had walked a straight line going west from Atlanta, I would be looking Denver in my rear-view mirror.

The podcast that fueled these walks is DESERT ISLAND DISCS adapted from a radio show that has aired on the BBC since 1942. Each guest is seemingly whisked to a desert island taking only eight songs, one book (they are given the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare), and one luxury item. The people interviewed range from Margaret Thatcher to Keith Richards to Tom Hanks to public servants in England. The reasons the songs are chosen are very thought provoking and often revealing.   Usually it is not because of they are their favorite songs, but because of a memory associated with the song. For instance, Keith Richards picked  Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Why? He said Vivaldi was the only composer Mozart respected (who I believe he referred to as the North Star), and if he was going to a desert island, he wanted four seasons. Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono picked the same John Lennon song (Beautiful Boy). What is the most requested song? Beethoven’s Ninth – Ode to Joy. What is the most popular song by The Beatles? Something. 

So, it got me to thinking, what songs would I take? This was not an easy decision. In fact, I  have thought about this for months. So I finally sat down and made a list and I am ready to commit to my eight songs. So, for the next 8 weeks I will share one of my “picks” with you, with the history and background of the song, and the process used in creating the art the song inspired. And I am going to “gulp” start recording my version of the songs on the piano.

As for the other choices, my luxury item would be a piano, with a bench filled with music. Actually, the piano is a very popular choice, but so is a machete (you have to build shelter), and an unlimited supply of wine. In fact, one person chose a bathtub with three faucets, one for cold water, one for hot, and one for wine.  The book I would choose? I think I would pick the largest art history book I could find!

A quick note in closing. It has been scientifically proven one NEVER loses their music memory. I have seen people in adult day care that are totally incommunicable sit up straight and belt out all the words of a song they recognize.

What songs would you choose?  and why?















My reading has been a mixed bag – but that’s okay, I was still entertained. A total of twelve book and I added something new to recommend this month. 

NAKED ON THE BENCH – MY ADVENTURES IN PIANOLAND – by Robin Spielberg – A very engaging memoir, written in an easy to read style.  As a pianist, I could relate to many of Robin’s stories, but you don’t need to know the techniques of music to enjoy them. I laughed out loud and even shed a few tears. When she decided to pursue life at the keyboard instead of acting, she made a list of what she wanted to achieve, and achieve she did!  This included playing at Carnegie Hall, which is not as hard as we have been led to believe! (Plus – I love the cover art!)

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate –  When I started seeing advertisements for the new Disney movie of the same name, I was glad I kept this book. This is the story that most Atlantan’s know – Ivan, the gorilla – spent his first 27 years in a shopping mall in Washington State, was rescued and came to live at the Atlanta Zoo. This is told through his eyes, it is a story of friendship, hope and art. Oh yeah, Ivan paints (not just in the book, but prints of his paintings were sold at The Atlanta Zoo.

THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN – DRAW ME A STORY by Beth FerryI purchased this for my 16 month old grand-niece, so she would know the story of Ivan – but I couldn’t resist the urge to read it myself.  Both of us enjoyed it!

THE BOOKWOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK by Kim Michele Richardson Based on a time during the Depression when women were hired to deliver books and other reading material to the people in Appalachia. I fell in love with the main character, Cussie,  one of the “blue” people of Kentucky. I consider historical fiction a success if I yearn to learn more, and learn more I did. I looked up the Bookwomen (which I’d never heard of) and I looked up the Blue People (which I had heard of – but was only vaguely aware of them).

THE FOREVER WISH OF MIDDY SWEET by Terry KayOne of my favorite authors – this did not disappoint. He spoke at my bookclub several years back and said he didn’t know if he had any stories left. Thankfully he did. The tale of young love, rekindled 50 years later, and the ever present question “What if?”.

THE ORDER by Daniel Silva This is the 20th Gabriel Allon novel, a world famous art restorer by day and an Israeli spy by night and this book involves the possible murder of the pope. What more could you ask for?

WE ARE ALL GOOD PEOPLE HERE by Susan Rebecca White – This was a book club read. Set in Atlanta beginning in 1962, it follows the friendship of two women. I found this book uneven at times, and the author spent so much time with the restaurants and the stores in Atlanta during this time, it was distracting and the timeline was often wrong!

THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING by Carson McCullers – I found this tattered book in a Little Free Library. I had never read it and I’m glad I can add it to the list of classics I am finally getting around to! 

THE POWER OF NICE by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin KovalAnother find in a Little Free Library. It is a very small book, and using real life examples it proves that nice people often finish first.

HARRIET TUBMAN – ANTI-SLAVERY ACTIVIST by M.W. Taylor – Yet another Little Free Library find!  A Young Adult book with a forward by Coretta Scott King it is part of the series: BLACK AMERICANS OF ACHIEVEMENT. I wish I could find more of these books, especially if they are all this engaging. 

AMERICAN PRINCESS by Stephanie Marie Thornton – Alice Roosevelt, Teddy’s daughter was a BADDASS!!! She kept a pillow on her sofa with the quote “If you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, come sit by me”.  When asked about his daughter, Teddy responded “I can do one of two things. I can be President of the United States or I can control Alice Roosevelt. I cannot possibly do both”.  I really enjoyed this book, but it made me thirst for more non-fiction about her.  Did you know the color “Alice Blue” was her signature and became a fashion sensation. 

AMERICAN DIRT – by Jeannine Cummins – I know there has been some controversy surrounding this book, but I agree with Stephen King “I defy anyone to read the first seven pages of this book and not finish it”. I could not put it down and I was constantly surprised. It is the story of a Mexican woman and her son who find themselves leaving a comfortable life and becoming a migrant and her journey to the United States. I was so emotionally involved, I couldn’t read the last chapter for days – I was so afraid for the characters! 

MY VIDEO RECOMMENDATION THAT EVERYONE SHOULD WATCH:  In fact, it inspired me to pull another book of the shelf to reread – details to come in the next issue.

What have you been reading? Anything that sucked you in? I always like recommendations


As we all navigate through another month of “stay at home”, my reading is finally getting back to normal. For the past several months, I started more books than I finished. But, in July, I managed to finish 8 books – which is a normal amount for me.

THE ART DEALERS by Laura de Coppet – This book has been on my bookshelf for years, so I finally took it down and read it. Interesting, but a little dated because it was written in 1984. Thirty-two contemporary art dealers talk about their careers, trends in modern art, and their opinions on art history and evaluation. 

NEVER HAVE I EVER by Joshilyn Jackson – I picked this up from a Little Free Library while on a walk and it is written by a fellow Decatur, Ga. resident (who says she moved here because of the Decatur Book Festival, considered the largest independent book festival in the states). This is a psychological thriller, based on the game “never have I ever” that a new resident into the community introduces to the book club. There are some twists, many that involve blackmail. I put this in the “good beach read” category.

ONE PLUS ONE by JoJo Moyes – I have read several books by JoJo Moyes, and they are always fun reads. This is the story of Jess, a cleaner/barmaid struggling to make ends meet and IT Guru Ed, who is involved in a financial scandal. They embark on a road journey to Scotland with Jess’s daughter Tanzie (a math genius), Nicky (a goth,  kind of a stepson that has been bullied) and Norman, the drooling smelly dog. While it is a fun read, it seemed vaguely familiar. When I logged it into Goodreads – I had read it back in 2014!

LUNCH AT THE PICCADILLY by Clyde Edgerton  – Edgerton has a gift for capturing Southern dialogue, and this book gives us the challenges of aging with sympathy, sensitivity, all done with a sense of humor.

ANTI-RACIST BABY by Ibram X. Kendi – I have been very impressed with interviews with Ibram Kendi – so I ordered this  book prior to publication to send to my one year old grand niece – and of course I had to take a peak! I love it!

THE ENGINEER’S WIFE by Tracey Enerson Wood – Historical fiction based on the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the role Emily Roebling played in it. When her husband, the chief engineer of the project is injured on the job, she puts her role in the women’s suffrage movement on hold and takes on the project under his guidance. It is interesting, but the introduction of P.T. Barnum as a possible love interest is not based on fact at all. Their paths may have crossed, they were in New York at the same time and P.T. Barnum historically took his circus across the bridge (with all the elephants) to prove the strength of the structure. But, it did succeed in sparking my curiosity to look up these characters.

THE WEIGHT OF A PIANO by Chris Cander  – This is the first of two books I read in July where a musical instrument is actually a character.  I was captured by the first paragraph in the book referring to the spruce trees in Romania that would be made into a Bluthner, commonly referred to as one of the big “four” of the piano makers, (the others are Bechstein, Bosendorfer and Steinway). My grandfather sold pianos, and there is a Bosendorfer in my family and I have owned a Steinway. It is the story off Katya, who leaves her beloved Bluthner in Germany, and a woman that inherits one in 2012. It’s a good concept, but it turns into a road trip of a photographer moving the piano around to photograph it around a National Park. Even with an unbelievable story line of endlessly moving a piano around a national park, I couldn’t put it down!

GONE, A GIRL, A VIOLIN AND A LIFE UNSTRUNG by Min Kym – In this memoir, you learn what it is like to be a child prodigy – she wins her first international prize at age 11. Her violin is a personal choice for many reasons, and when it is stolen from her in a London cafe, her world crashes. She felt as though she had lost her soulmate, and with it her sense of who she was. Overnight she became unable to play or function and is silent. Even though the violin is recovered 3 years later, it no longer belongs to her – it belongs to the insurance company and she can’t afford it. I loved this book. I loved the way she described the music and the instrument. I loved the music history she threw in. For instance, I’m aware of Clara Schumann – who was herself a child prodigy – and I knew she was expected to take care of the entire household even while traveling and performing. I didn’t know Brahm’s was in love with her, they travelled together with her children, and he felt he had to choose between love and music – and obviously – he chose his music. 

I’m going to finish some of the books I began in April and May and research more books where a character is actually a musical  instrument. 

What are you reading during this “Stay at Home”? Are your reading habits changing? I’d like to know!



To say life has changed lately is an understatement. My reading habits have changed, I have started more books than I have finished lately. But, here are the ones I actually finished over the past two months.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland With Artwork by Yayoi Kusama   I purchased this at the Kusama exhibition in Atlanta, as I love this book and I have probably read if at least five times. But, I have to admit, I missed the old illustrations by John Tenniel. It’s time to pick up Through The Looking Glass!


The Mark on the Door and The Secret of Skull Mountain both by Franklin W. Dixon – I had never read a Hardy’s Boys book, but I found these two on the bookshelf (they belong to my husband). I didn’t know anything about the Hardy Boys’ – I didn’t even know their father was a world class detective. But, these books were a nice diversion while “staying at home”.

The Secret of Skull Mountain

The Secret of Skull Mountain

Peachtree Road by Anne Rivers Siddons  – I read this book when it originally came out (1988) and living in Miami. I realized how much I missed Atlanta, and I was back before the end of the year! Even though it starts off a little slow, it picks up. Of course, it is fun to read a book knowing exactly where they are. Plus – you can’t put a book down that begins with this: “The South killed Lucy Bonduran Chastain Venable on the day she was born. It just took her until now to die…..It’s what we do best, kill our women. Or maim them. Or make mother’s of them, which may be the worst of all.”  The two main characters, Shep (the narrator) and Lucy are well fleshed out. I was glad I saved the book and could revisit it. On an aside, when the “stay at home” began, I started walking. I no longer live in Buckhead, but it is a short drive from my home in Decatur. My plan was to go into Buckhead, park my car and take a walk on the streets that are in the book. But, then the demonstrations started and I decided to stay close to home, at least for now!

Hiking Atlanta’s Hidden Forests – Inside and Out – by Jonah  McDonald – I’ve had this book for YEARS and have referred to it over and over again. But with my new interest in walking, I sat down and read through the entire book and have started visiting new places to explore. My favorite? The Doll’s Head Trail –

Image from the Doll's head trail.

Image from the Doll’s Head Trail

 When the land was purchased to create a nature preserve, volunteers and other workers noticed the many dolls and other interesting finds in the dump and began placing them in thoughtful ways along the trail they were foraging, that would eventually be the Dolls’ Head Trail.

The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer – At the end of May, I saw a story on CBS Sunday Morning about the explosion of audio books. Apparently, there is a “star” in this world, Scott Brick. Meltzer was interviewed and he said when he writes his books, he hears Scott Brick reading them. (here is the link to the story) I’ve read his books before and I found the story interesting. Weirdly, on a walk later in the week, I came across a Little Free Library – and there was this book, which was discussed in the story! Serendipity in action.

The main character is trying to find the identity of an assassin before he kills the President. And, of course, the President is corrupt. The real history of presidential assassinations is blended into the mystery. The timeline moves about – and it is alot to keep up with. I would say it is an “okay” read, not his best, but it still moves forward.

A Man in Full by Tom Wolfe – another reread, in fact I received this book after attending a luncheon with Tom Wolfe. (I am a long time fan. In fact, I went to see him four times over the years beginning in 1975.)  At 704 pages, it is a commitment. There are three different stories. First is  Charles Croker, once at football star at Georgia Tech, now a middle-aged Atlanta titan with an outsize ego, who also has a 29,000 acres quail shooting plantation in South Georgia, a young wife, empty commercial real estate and alot of debt. Then you have Conrad Hensley, who is laid off from his job for Croker Global foods in California.  There is Fareek Fanon – a Georgia Tech football star from the slums, accused of date-raping the daughter of a wealthy member of the top echelon of Atlanta’s white society, and the lawyer, Robert White II, who represents him. The book is thought provoking and at times hilarious. It would make a good HBO series!

Sullivan Island by Dorothy Benton Frank – because this is set in the “low-country” of South Carolina, I enjoyed reading it. Great beach read – but it won’t stay  with you for long.

Severe Clear by Stuart Woods – This is one of his “Stone Barrington” novels – a character that has appeared in 20 novels. This one deals with the opening of a very upscale hotel in Bel-Air, on property that belonged to his late wife. Of course, terrorists are involved and havoc ensues!

The Bible Salesman by Clyde Edgerton  Henry Dampier loved selling Bibles, saving souls and getting to know his customers who bought Bibles from him. One day, Preston Clearwater invites Henry to join him working for the FBI. Henry is clueless that he is actually transporting stolen cars. Henry begins to read the Bible he has been selling for years and falling in love with the girl at the produce stand. It takes place in the early 50’s, and goes back to Henry’s childhoods in the 30’s. Edgerton understands the South – and while this isn’t his best book, it was still a pleasure to read!

I see an inadvertent trend here. All of the books except for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Hardy’s Boys books and the Brad Meltzer book were written by Southerners.

While the library remains closed, many of these books came from Little Free Libraries (or which I have one!). If you prefer reading an actual book, refer to their map and see if there are a few around you! 

Moving forward, I’m going to revisit some of the books I started and finish them. It is very unusual for me to not finish books – and there was nothing wrong with the books, I just couldn’t concentrate!

What are you reading? Has your reading changed during the “Stay at home” time we are living in?




We can agree these are challenging and changing times. One thing that has changed for me is the way I read. I am a daily reader, usually 8-12 books a month. However, for the months of March and April, I read only 7 books!

For the first time in recent memory, I am putting down more books than I am picking up. Below is what I read, these are not reviews.


The Ensemble, A Novel –  by Aja Gabel   This is about a quartet trying to make it in the world of classical music. I found it both interesting and tedious; the descriptions of the music was interesting, the relationships were tedious.

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler   Anne Tyler never disappoints. It is the story of Willa Drake, beginning in 1967 coping with her mother’s disappearance (again).  In 1997 she is a young widow. In her second marriage, she is kind of sleep-walking through her life when she receives a phone call from a stranger prompting her to travel across the country to Baltimore to take care of the daughter of her son’s ex-girlfriend. If you love Anne Tyler – you will love this book



Mary Coin by Marisa Silver   This is based on an iconic work of art,  Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange. This was a book club selection and I had trouble getting into it. However, after visiting MOMA in New York in March, I saw this photograph in an exhibition devoted to Dorothea Lange. That connection made it more compelling, so I returned to it. However, I was thirsty for the real story and the real women. I picked up a biography about Dorothea Lange, Dorothea Lange, Life Beyond Limits,  (which I have not finished) which I found more satisfying.  Oh yes, I was in New York in March on an annual art trip. I was there when the proverbial shit hit the fan!


The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett   I had never actually read this book, but I knew the story. Even so, the book charmed me and I count it as one of my favorite books now!

Circus Shoes by Noel Streatfeild   After enjoying The Secret Garden, I looked at my own bookshelf. I have two shelves of very old books people have given me over the years – and I found this little gem!  The story is of an orphaned brother and sister. who learn they are going to be sent to separate orphanages. When they learn about  an uncle they have never met, they set out to find him. And, wouldn’t you know it? He is a performer in a circus!!!! What better setting for a childhood adventure! This was published in 1937, and there is an entire series devoted to different shoes; Tennis Shoes, Skating Shoes, Dancing Shoes – the list goes on.

Lewis Carroll’s Alices Adventures in Wonderland illustrated by Yayoi Kusama   This is an all-time favorite book for me. I have to admit, this was a spontaneous purchase while visiting the Kusama exhibit in Atlanta. While the book is fun to read, I found myself missing the old illustrations. It is still a great friend, yes, books are friends.       

Kusama Illustration of Alice

Wacky Chicks: Life Lessons for Fearlessly Inappropriate and Fabulously Eccentric Women by Simon Doonan    I bought this book years ago in New York at the SoHo shop of designer Jonathan Adler.  See, Simon Doonan is his partner. I kept the book (I am not a book hoarder) and have lent it out several times. After seeing Mo Rocca interview the couple on CBS Sunday Morning and hearing a discussion about what does Zoom reveal about reveal about your house, I remembered the book. It was a fun re-read.

Plus, the discussion was of interest to me, because with so many talking heads on television these days, I continually walk up to the television and study what is behind the talking head, especially the books on their shelves. 


What are you reading these days? Has this new world changed your reading habits? 




The world has changed in the past couple of weeks. I have found myself with alot of energy (good thing) without focus (not good). One thing about me, I am an AVID READER, I begin every day with a bath and a book, every single day! But – I the words I’m reading have not been sinking in, and I’m restless. So – I’ve taken to the streets and started walking 3-5 miles a day – the length of a good podcast. So – I thought I’d share some podcasts I’ve really enjoyed.

Celebrating it’s 20 year anniversary – there are definitely plenty of things to find here.  In their own words, it started as “a whiskey-fueled dream in Georgia to the storytelling movement of today”. There are over 25,000 stories, that  people like you and I have shared, always live and without notes. Many of them are very inspirational, some are hilarious, and it is rare not to be moved. Unfortunately the live in Atlanta this week was cancelled.

Need I say more? Just to hear Dolly laugh always brings a smile to my face. My only complaint is there are limited episodes, but I know I will listen to this series again!

Dolly Parton’s America

This is a true crime podcast about musicians behaving badly, starting with the death of Jerry Lee Lewis’ fifth wife found dead. Did he murder her? What happened? Told by Boston musician Jack Brennan – an expert storyteller – you will learn things you never knew. 

Hosted by non de plume Rainbow Valentine, this is her about her artist mother and “businessman” father were pot smugglers in California in the 70’s and 80’s, something she didn’t know until she was 14!! She interviews both of them, as well as the parents of her friends that were also smugglers. It is very entertaining with interesting history about “pot” thrown in along the way. Just so you know, the word “pot” doesn’t come from something you cook in.  It comes from the Latin term “potation de guayana” which means, “drink of grief” and is a traditional Mexican drink made from steeping cannibus buds in wine.

This is a delightful different take on art history. Was Van Gogh accidentally murdered? Is the Mona Lisa you see at the Louvre a fake? Was a British painter actually Jack the Ripper? Each episode is thoroughly researched by art curator Jennifer Dasal.

This is the secret or forgotten history of Hollywood’s first century.  Episodes include The Hemmingway Curse, Cass Elliott and Fat Shaming (she did not die eating a ham sandwich btw), Esther Williams and the Birth of Waterproof Makeup. Interesting stuff!

There are so many great things to listen to out there – but I’ll stop here! I’d love to have suggestions on podcasts I may not know about!!!






February may be the shortest month of the year, but I still managed to read eight books, one of which was a reread and two were read for research. These are not “critiques”, but I will recommend certain books that really stayed with me.  So – here we go!

CALL OF THE WILD BY JACK LONDON  – I have to admit, I had never read this book. It was never assigned to me in school and I tend to stay away from animal books because, well, they typically upset me (the animal rarely survives the book, right?).  This is definitely the story of the magnificent dog Buck – and at roughly 160 pages, it can be read in an afternoon (if you read a page a minute – easily 2.5 hours).  It is worth an afternoon of your time!Vickie Martin's reading.

 A PLACE FOR US by Fatima Farheen Mirza  – The first novel by Mirza  is the story of an Indian-American Muslim family, gathered together in their Californian hometown to celebrate the eldest daughter’s wedding. The estranged son, Amar, returns after three years. The book spans decades and is told through the eyes of each family member (the parents, two daughters, one son). It is a moving, emotional  tale, especially the last 40 or so  pages. Interestingly, Sarah Jessica Parker has acquired the rights to this, so it may be coming to a silver screen near you!

THE PEACOCK EMPORIUM by JoJo Moyes  – I like JoJo Moyes, but this is an early book (published in the UK in 2004, reprinted in the US in 2019) and it shows. It is a pleasant read with an ensemble cast in a small town – but it didn’t stay with me for more than a few moments after I finished the last page.

RADIANT ANGEL by Nelson DeMille – This is the most recent book featuring the sarcastic John Corey (published 2015) – an all around good guy and a great character. Of course it is extremely violent and often gory, with the island of Manhattan at stake. This is not DeMille’s finest hour, too many subplots (like his wife’s dalliance in DC), with a cookie cutter ending. Still, it is a fun read.

THE MUSE by Jessie Burton – I love mysteries that are set in the art world! Two stores are told, set 30 years apart, in Spain and London. Odelle Bastian, from Trinidad, lands a job in an art gallery working with Marjorie Quick, and finds a painting on the doorstep. Is it a lost masterpiece of Isaac Robles, who died mysteriously years earlier. There are alot of secrets and deceptions in the book, and even though I figured out the mystery early on, I kept reading, because I wasn’t 100% sure if I was correct (I was partially correct!).

MY TALK PRETTY ONE DAY by David Sedaris – I am NOT a book hoarder. While I keep reference books, signed first editions, books from my childhoods and art books, I do NOT keep every book I read unless I know I will pick it up again one day. This is such a book – I read it 15 years ago (published in 2001) and knew it was worth keeping. The book is laugh out loud funny – with stories of David’s family and his move to France. His sister Amy Sedaris makes a hilarious entrance dressed in a fat suit for the Christmas holidays!

I am currently working on a series of painting based on music and memory, with each piece based on a specific song, which I also learn to play on the piano! So, it makes sense to me to research the history of the songs too! This book is so interesting – some of the stories I had heard, some were new to me.  Did you know the person that wrote the lyrics to Danny Boy never set foot in Ireland? Or, Waltzing Matilda’s copyright expired in Australia in 1991, but the copyright in the US didn’t expire until 2011, therefore at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Australia had to pay to use its own song! Short chapters, fact packed and a humorous delivery!!!!

A GLORIOUS FREEDOM – WOMEN LEADING EXTRADORINARY LIVES by Lisa Congdon – This was also research for a class I am putting together about the forgotten women or art. This book goes a step further by highlighting many women that deserve their due.  I’ll let Lisa tell you about the book:


What are you thought? Do you have any recommendations?