Monday, December 7, 2015

...A little child shall lead them (Isaiah 11:6)

The Little Child in this painting is, of course, Jesus Christ, destined to overcome the world and banish the darkness of the Evil One.  We are watching for him, especially now in Advent.

The prophet Isaiah tells us: "then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them..." Catholic New American Bible, Revised Edition, Isaiah 11: 6.

On this side of The Cottage Door, I have been discerning the evil that exists daily in my own heart.  I remember that if I am repentant, I can go to Jesus and ask the Father to purge my soul of everything that might offend or hurt him. What a blessing and a grace, undeserved, but all the more beautiful because it is given so freely, so completely.

In The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, the wicked witch feels she has conquered the powerful and good Aslan, the lion in:  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  She, her demons and her ogres accomplish Aslan's tortuous murder, yet Aslan is far from dead. He rises from the altar to pursue and conquer her for good.  If you haven't read this "children's" book for a while, do review it and savor its masterfully penned allegory. When I re-read it the other morning, I was brought to tears once again. The depth of love displayed by the children toward their friend is astounding.  His loyalty to the good, what a sacrifice.  How brave, how valiant he is, just the sort of friend we all need.

 Jesus is our best friend, born so long ago as a babe.  It is comforting to think of Mary holding him, caressing him, cuddling and protecting him.  This Advent, rather than focusing on what Jesus can do for me, I am resolved to wonder what I can do for him.  I would like to hold him, stroke his wounded head, comfort his aching heart, and tell him that I am loyal to him and willing to sacrifice my own little needs for his sake and the sake of others less fortunate.  This Advent, I want to open the door wide for him, hoping he will come right Through the Cottage Door so I can greet him!

Have a wonderful Advent, and keep your heart's door wide open for the Little Child, become Man.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Thoughts about God, Through the Cottage Door, for Thanksgiving

I shot this pic of clouds out the window of a jet. I grabbed my phone and delighted in the view, and it got me to thinking. I wonder what God thinks when he looks down at his creation from Heaven,  Does he feel sad at what he sees, or does he find good things happening in some way, in some places, by some who love him?  And when he views my everyday life, is he glad or sad about the things I think, say or do?  He has given me so many joys, so very many blessing and very crosses to bear, though I hope I am prepared for the privilege of coping with more.  I just can hardly believe the blessings abundant each day in my life.  This Thanksgiving I truly wish to thank all my readers of this blog and I promise to more frequently add new images and thoughts, that we might share moments that are special and joy-filled.  That is my pledge to you, through the Cottage Door.  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Summer Wanes with a Warm Smile, Nods to Autumn

September sun lights up a sapphire blue sky, day after day.  Grass is still green, even greener in places as if each blade wants to show off its best color before it succumbs to dormancy later in the fall.  Children have given up vacation and are back in school, their buses rumbling down the streets of our city in morning and afternoon.  Things have settled into a new routine that comes with the close of one season and the premier of another.

Painting is somewhat seasonal for me also, and this month I am fortunate to have my River People series of verse and watercolors displayed here in my city, all 20-some pieces exhibited in the Grace Episcopal Church at 315 Wayne Street, Sandusky.  It is a privilege and a joy to have others view them.

The image to the left is called "Magician".  The verse tells of a native Yup'ik lad who was busy with the July dust, inches deep, in his village.  He was literally covered in it, and happy as could be to throw it everywhere.  He was making a golden moment out of playing in the dirt, a magical bit of childhood for me to paint.  If only we adults could, rather than mourn the little time we seem to have because we have so busied ourselves with the truly unimportant tasks we undertake to prove our worth, just fling dirt, or sing songs aloud, or even have a good belly laugh more often, maybe we could make magic, too.
At least that is what I think tonight, as I peek out at the moon through my cottage door.  Go play in the dirt and see how it frees you.

Friday, August 28, 2015

This illustration, Dragonfly Profusion, was begun Plein Aire on the Lake Erie Bay down the chaussee where the willows border the road.  When I returned to my studio, I went wild with paint and color, and just had such fun adding shapes and fitting it all together.  I may write a children's book about the Dragonfly who almost disappears to solve her problem of thinking rather too highly of herself.  She is saved by a ...well you will just have to read the book to find out:)

Sunday, March 15, 2015


I've seen the signs all along recently, noticed the geese returning and pairing up, even a duo of swans with their necks intertwined on the frozen bay.  Its ice still thick at least a quarter of a mile out, the lake begrudgingly has given up some of its winter coating of white and snow and we can spot deep blue water freed at last.  Now I sit here at my writing desk, with my window cracked open so that I can hear the birds chattering and the sounds of  wildlife emerging from woods and yards, sounds no longer muffled by cold air and arctic wind.  What a joy the coming of Spring is to all of our senses!

There are other signs of rebirth, too.  Lent is upon us, midway, with its opportunities for self-denial, reflection and meditation on the Passion.  Danny and I look forward each week to our church's practice of the 14 Stations of the Cross, a series of prayers, readings, and musical interludes that help us focus on Christ's ultimate sacrifice on Calvary.  Lent is a time when we pray for the world, for Pope Francis, for Bishop Thomas, and for all those who are suffering at the hands of violent and ruthless captors.  We especially pray for the children who are homeless, uncared for, or victims in any way.

On the less serious front, it is March Madness at our house.  Coach Danny is glued to the brackets with 84 teams being narrowed down to the final winner of the NCAA basketball college tournament, over the next several weeks and games.  On the Pro Team level, the Cleveland Cavaliers are our pride and  joy here at the Roth household. Then there is the beginning of the training season for the Cleveland Indians baseball, now begun in Arizona.  We look forward to seeing Kluiber on the mound this season.  We might look at these things as a rebirth of kinds in the athletic world, a sure sign of spring.

The signs of spring are everywhere, but perhaps the most exciting sign of spring within myself is that rekindled desire to paint and paint and paint.  I wake up in the morning eager to look at the paper and paint laid out on my drafting table from the night before.  What did the paint do?  How did the colors change?  Stand back and look.  What is the next step?  The transformation of my attitude toward my craft is a sure sign of something stirring within me.  It is a sure sign of spring and with it is a strong hope that my paintings will challenge me to grow some more, to paint happiness for others to see, to explore with courage new possibilities, both in art and in my life.
Baptism (From River People, cElizabeth Roth)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Sunday Morning Surprise

This morning, a Sunday morning, my husband Danny roused me from a deep slumber by telling me to hurry and dress for early mass because he had a wonderful surprise for me.  Danny had had little sleep himself because he arises each morning at 4:00 to set out on his job as a newspaper deliverer to the Veteran's Home and to the residential home called Parkview.  (He arrives home at 6:30, and so affords himself another half hour to full hour of rest before he begins yet another part-time job which, depending on the season of the year, can be either guarding a pool at the local Venetian Marina, or working the counter and kitchen at a local McDonald's restaurant.  He likes to keep busy, and plays a lot of golf, so winters are a challenge for my McDanny.) My husband is 73, looks 43, and has enough energy to be 23.  For him to slow down enough to notice the delicacies of Nature is priceless, to use a cliché, and for him to share the wonder of them with me is a precious gift I will always treasure.  Another incredible hoarfrost had draped itself over the landscape.  I took many photos from which to later paint.  Here is what he wanted to share:

This is what is called the Chaussee, a bar of land and sand on which our road is built between two sides of the bay at Lake Erie.  Hoarfrost covered the willows that border the Chaussee and Danny and I trudged in the deep snow to capture this moment.  Isn't God's creation breathtaking?   Aren't precious moments of sharing joy like this an opportunity for the spirit to soar?

We saw three adult bald eagles perched in a tall tree along the Chaussee.  They are likely watching the frozen lake and bay for a spot where they might fish.  Right about now, their mates are sitting on eggs that will bring new babies into the world later this spring, and food for them will be a top priority.  The eagles are majestic, another of God's miracle creatures, and whenever we see them in the wild we are reminded of how things that seem to be very much endangered can in God's time come to flourish.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Clean Start

It is SOOOO cold this week, frigid and snowy, fresh drifts everywhere, typical winter weather around here this February.  I am so blessed to have a warm house, a cozy bedroom, hot tea whenever I need a mug to heat my hands in the evenings, and a wonderful husband to come home to each night.  It is still dark when I leave for work in the morning, and often dark again when I return at night, but I can tell that the hours of sunlight are beginning to expand little by little.  Soon, Spring will begin its slow advance here on the North Coast.  Winter will fall back, and gradually give birth to tiny signs of warmth like the crocus that will wriggle upward through the cold. 

One of my good friends, a favorite painting, left me this week and went to its new owner.  The name of the painting is Fresh Start.  It is a colorful rendition of a group of buildings in Beijing.  A clothesline stretched among sports wet clothing drying in the air.  This scene was so typical of the Asian city dweller's I observed in China, but I have also seen this kind colorful display in France, in Russia, in Italy and among the Amish in Ohio.  I remember hanging clothes on a summer clothesline myself when my children were small.  It gave me a thrill to see my family's clean things getting their share of sunshine and fresh air.  They smelled like happiness and there was a certain feeling of satisfaction that I derived from the exercise of hanging, waiting, taking down and folding those clean clothes.

I want to remember how my own behavior stains, soiled choices, and muddy decisions are repeatedly cleansed by our Lord, hung out in the fresh sunshine of the Father's love and mercy, and flap in the healing breeze of the Holy Spirit who guides me.  Each time I go to him, after repentance and forgiveness, I believe God can see the bright, new colors of joy and relief in my life, and I know that He will continually be with me to hang my cleaned laundry on His line, which is made of these words:  I love you.  That's how I see Him:  Through the Cottage Door.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Going Blank?

I read a meditation this weekend that meant a lot to me, as an artist and as a follower of Christ.  The comment concerned the scripture in the gospel of Mark when Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John and was ushered to the bed of Simon's mother-in-law who was very ill with a fever.  "He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up.  Then the fever left her and she waited on them" (1:31). 

So many times I go "blank" with trepidation.  I sense this when I am staring at a page of stark white watercolor paper, hesitant to mark it, trying to plan perfectly what the composition should be, with or without a sketch or thumbnail to guide me.  There is something about the unknown there that paralyzes me, sometimes.  It can be the same with other life experiences where I feel afraid or unsure of myself or my skills.  I find myself "going blank" and unable to take one little step, for fear of failure.

Perhaps it is precisely in these "blank" paralyzing times that I need to remember that Christ is beside me, standing near me as I lay in my bed worrying, as I sit at my desk at work, when I am intimidated, or when I fail.  Jesus "approaches" me, and he approaches you.  He extends his strong, muscular arm to us.  Can't you just see it?   He "grasps" (what a wonderful word) my hand and your hand in his own warm and sure hand.  Can't you just feel it?   And he pulls us upright again and encourages us to put our trust in him.  We look into his deep set eyes that seem to peer right through us, to read our minds, to hold our souls and pull them close to him. 

Christ can heal the blank moments we experience.  And then, with great thanksgiving and confidence in his powerful help, we can paint.  And live.

That's how I see it, Through the Cottage Door this morning.  Have a Blessed Day.

Monday, February 2, 2015


All night and most of today snow fell here, piling up drifts in driveways, sidewalks, everywhere.  I prayed that I would not have to travel in it, and God was merciful in that my workplace was closed.  What a blessing.  I made a fire in the fireplace in my studio room and did a lot of reading of scripture and prayers, drank a cup or two of coffee, and thought about my many blessings.  With homemade soup on the stove, and skies beginning to turn blue again after days of grey, my mood was serene, even though there is much work I need to do ahead of me this week.

I took time this afternoon to re-polish ten chapters of my 10-year-old manuscript-- my novel Dancing on My Daddy's Toes.  I have sent this manuscript to author and speaker, Heather King, whose writing in Living Faith has inspired me.  She has agreed to professionally edit this story for me.  The book has already benefitted from extensive revision over the last several years when I worked with author Sharon Darrow, Vermont College, on a true rewrite from the original draft.  My prayer is that my work with Heather will again produce fruit and that the novel will someday find its place in the hands of a good publisher.  I am currently reading Shirt of Flame, by Heather King, which are her reflections about St. Therese of the Little Flower.  It is so insightful and well-researched.

I pray that all of you fellow bloggers are safe, warm, healthy and that you have projects about which you are enthused, even if they are simmering like homemade soup on the back burner or my 10-year-old manuscript finally rising from its sleep.  From inside this Cottage Door, All Blessings to You.



 20 of my paintings from the series China:  Beyond the Wall are home at last from their January exhibition in Sandusky at the beautiful and historic Grace Episcopal Church gallery.  One, Dragon, was purchased.  It is a happy moment when one of my paintings finds a permanent home, but it is a little like saying goodbye to a friend, bittersweet.  It is a lesson in humility and in priorities for me.  I want my work to bring joy to others.  However, when I am painting I grow too close to my "creation"--I should say "our" creation because certainly the Holy Spirit does most of the critical work.  I am too possessive, perhaps. So I said goodbye to my Dragon and I wish it well on its journey.  We need to create with a roar and then let the work live its own life, right?  Anyway that's the way I see it, Through the Cottage Door!

Dragon from China:  Beyond the Wall, a series of 21 watercolor paintings of China, Elizabeth Roth.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Hoarfrost Morning

January is almost at an end.  This morning it gave me a beautiful curtain call.  Hoarfrost was everywhere, a coating of glistening ice crystalline on every twig and surface.  The sunrise reflected itself in it with shades of rose and gold.  It was a scene that would only be on stage a few moments, taking a leading role for an hour or two until the temperature would rise enough to liquefy it all.  Then it would take a bow and disappear from sight.  I marveled at it and felt so blessed to know that even in winter God's delicate handiwork greets us
and reminds us that all is well. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"Be Nothing But Yourself, But Be That Perfectly"

A long drive in the snow and the dark has its definite disadvantages, but it has its advantages, too.  One advantage is that it provides plenty of think time.  I had the radio tuned to the EWTN SonRise Morning Show.  A saint being discussed had once advised others to "be nothing but yourself, but be that perfectly".  This advice really hit home for me, as artist, a writer, and a person.  It is so easy, when we view the creative works around us, to compare ourselves to their creators.  It is only human to look at our own works and judge them as less worthy or less beautiful, not as exciting, not as skilled.  It is a challenge sometimes to remember that each of us has his or her own sense of creativity.  Each is unique, and lends itself to a particular view of beauty, of worth, a completely distinct and special way of revealing truth.  As long as we work within ourselves deeply and trust our muse to create what we authentically feel or believe, our art will speak to others.  As an artist I feel that I often overwork my painting in an effort to seek perfection, when what I might do to perfect my work would be to stop earlier on, step back often, and then discipline myself to listen to what the painting is saying to me.  It might be saying:  Don't try to make me like someone else's work. Honor my special self.  At least that's the way it seems to me,..through the cottage door.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Snow Globe

Today at my far away job, I took a break away from my desk and stood looking out the doorway to the outside world.  Snow flakes, great big ones, were falling in the most undisturbed manner, gently and softly.  The whole of what I could see from the door seemed like a snow globe scene, the kind of globe that if you shook it you had only a few moments to watch the white flakes fall and settle on the scene inside.  I have always been fascinated by snow globes, the movement of the snow, and the silence.  Maybe that is what I love the most about painting, its quietness, how the paint and water settles down into the paper to make magic and how my spirit can quiet itself in the process.  What scene did you view today that gave you a feeling of peace?

The Search

I am putting the finishing strokes on a new painting I will call "The Search."  It pictures a man in the desert, walking forward into an expanse of blowing sand.  The sunlight is intense and coming from his right side, yet there are streaks of light seemingly coming from heaven, light that falls upon his head. I hadn't planned those serendipity streaks.  They came about because I had left the painting to dry, and when I returned to it in the early afternoon, sunlight from a west window was beaming precisely across the top of the composition onto the top of the traveler's head, so I carefully lifted the paint with clear water to reveal the paper beneath, and voila! The traveler was illuminated in his journey.

I don't know who he is.  He was inspired by a photo in Sunday's Cleveland Plain Dealer, a picture submitted by James and Madeline Hayes of Brecksville, Ohio.  The photo captured my attention because of the rich blue of his long robes against the ochre sand and also because of the solitude it portrayed, the man alone sans a dozen or so footprints deep in the sand.  His aloneness intrigued me, yet he looks resolute, determined and forging ahead despite the confusing environment in which he struggles.  Perhaps he knows exactly where he is going, and that is why his steps are sure and steady.

I never seem to know exactly where I am going.  My steps are not sure, not steady at all, except for one thing, and that is that I put my life in the hands of the One who guides me, the Lord.  I know if I just keep trudging onward, He will keep me on the right path, even if I do not recognize that path in the deep and moving sand.

Anyway, hope can be a true as the cobalt blue of the my painted traveler, and when the painting is complete, I will show it to you.  Till then, keep trudging!  And may God Bless You... Through the Cottage Door.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Tribute to MLK and Challenge to Myself

This is Martin L. King, Jr. weekend.  It is a good time to reflect on our nation, on the world, as they continue to spin and turn, affecting our lives and the lives of those around us.  I am hoping to watch the film "Selma" tomorrow, although I feel it will be a painful viewing for me for lots of reasons.  When MLK was assassinated, I was a newly-wed, and pregnant with the first of my two daughters.  I remember that I taped a large photo of the slain leader on the front outside door of our Columbus apartment, and draped the window in black.  I was absolutely distraught to think that this horrible thing should happen and then later, in June, Bobby Kennedy was also shot.  My world froze.  I felt that we were doomed.  I realized well that I was to bring a child into a world where hatred and evil existed and could seem to conquer.  I wondered how I would protect and teach our child to love and forgive. 

I now am faced with keeping faith alive in the face of 9-11, uncounted horrific shootings in our country, in schools, malls, churches, and in far away places I have known, like Paris, with the threat of more violence everywhere in Europe and in the world.  What can a person, the average citizen, do?  I have come to the conclusion that my best route is to treat each person with dignity and respect, and that begins at home in my own family, with my own associates, with all I meet everyday.  Is it possible to overcome self enough to reach out with true understanding, patience and empathy toward those who are closest, and then to the millions of "others" in our daily walk?  I must try.  We all must try, and try hard.

The painting just below was one I created with pretty much wet on wet, and very little planning.  I formed the subjects from the paint "flow shapes" as I call them---where the paint moved and settled is where I moved and responded.  It was in my thoughts to show slaves running away.  I want to hope for a day when there are no fugitives needing to run away for their lives.  The painting is bright and warm because the slaves will finally reach a brighter and warmer life.  Who among us still feels the need to flee and hide away?  Are we ready to give respite and shelter, as Christ has commanded us to do?  Can we recognize in people of any color the sameness that links us and celebrate it with great joy?

On The Run
Elizabeth Roth Watercolor
Sandusky Child
Elizabeth Roth
This painting shows one of the wonderful children of my town.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

And Then There Were Two...

       Just when we think we have seen it all, and there couldn't be anything to beat it, the extraordinary one-ups us!  It has been said that we cannot trump God's mercy and generosity.  I believe it. 
      Tonight after work, Danny and I were in the living room and dusk was falling.  I looked out our front window, having just asked Danny if he had seen the beautiful hoarfrost this morning.  It had been draped all over everything as if fairies had been at work decorating the landscape.  As I gazed at the snowy white expanse of lake, I saw a mammoth freighter sitting far out, looking like a beached whale, surrounded by the icy waters of Lake Erie, waiting patiently for its turn at the coal dock.  (Tonight it is lighted up like a distant ocean liner.)  As my eyes continued to scan the lake, I looked up into the sky.
      "Danny, Look!  Another bald eagle tonight, circling overhead!"  It swooped in a wide arch, banking it giant wings, and finally it glided down to settle on the ice.  I grabbed my binoculars to take a closer look when, all of a sudden, I  shrieked "Oh, Danny.  Here comes another one!"  And it was true, first just one, then there were two!  They had found food, a fallen cormorant it looked as though to me.  Together, that pair dined, the blanket of icy snow their tablecloth, the frozen lake and beach their table.  They remained there, carefully eating their found prey, for about thirty minutes.
      What an unexpected pleasure to see such wildlife up close.  It seems to be that way with so much that we experience.  When we begin to realize our blessings, thrill at even the most simple of them, and thank God with grateful hearts, we notice them to be often doubled or tripled in number or in intensity, like the fishes and loaves that multiplied before their very eyes when Jesus blessed them for the 5,000.  It reminds me to try not to take anything for granted, to live each moment fully, to give thanks.
       Like today:  I love the black, white, grey and pastels of January.  I love slant of the 4:30 sun as it already begins its descent, the long shadows it casts on the snow, interspersed with yellow and golden light.  The snow begins to have a blue look to it in the evening, and the cardinals that appear at the feeder look even deeper crimson as they sort through seeds.
      So now this day is done, and bed must come, but it is nice to know that those magnificent birds, the eagles, are not too far away, snuggled down in their huge nest, with full bellies for this night.  I hope that you are, too, snuggled down, well-fed, and at peace.
     May God Be With Your Spirit,
               Through the Cottage Door.

The Tree is Down...

The tree is down.  It would seem bleak in the space, that spot before the window, where it once stood all mellow and glowing, except that there is so much happening outside our cottage door that sings:  "Don't Be Sad!  A New Year has begun." God's gifts to us are never-ending, if we just open our eyes and look.  For example, a winter wonderland occurred this week!  The snowfall was wet and fluffy, adhering to every twig, bush and tree.  My hour-long drive to work and then home from work was picturesque, breathtaking really--especially the night that three deer ran or jumped across the highway in front of me.  In fact, the weekend recently was dominated by scenes from Nature's best.  On two consecutive days, majestic bald eagles flew from Lake Erie, outside our front window, up over our heads into the bay to our southwest.  Amazing!  Thrilling.  They are so beautiful when they fly--it makes my heart jump to see them.  Then, Sunday, two adult, white swans swam and preened in the lake just across from our home.  They were sitting in water that was yet unfrozen.  Then of course there are the two fat squirrels, who raid our bird-feeders (I let them!).  They relentlessly do their acrobatics in search of the fattest morsels they can steal.  They do not in the least intimidate the feisty downy woodpeckers or the bright scarlet cardinals who feast on the seeds and suet we put out.  Speaking of scarlet...
Hurray for our Buckeyes who put on quite a show themselves last night against Oregon's Ducks!

January 4 marks a first in my painting, writing life.  The beautiful and historic Grace Episcopal Church here in Sandusky offers gallery exposure to local artists of all kinds.  On this Sunday, a brilliant and inspiring piano concert by Ryan C. Neal began at 4:00 followed by my very first solo exhibition of watercolors.  China: Beyond the Wall is a series of 21 paintings which tell a sort of story of a culture in transition.  At 5:00 I presented my background and an introduction to the paintings.  About 40 people attended the opening, including my husband's niece and family and my daughter and granddaughter.  My granddaughter is also an artist, however she is trained and much more confident and skilled then I am.  I was honored to have them with me that night.  You may visit the gallery Monday through Friday in January, 10:00 to 5:00, free of charge.  Paintings are priced and offered for sale.  I am very grateful to Grace Episcopal for the blessing of this experience.

I hope that your January finds you safe, warm, well-fed and excited about a blessing in your life, as well.  Let me know about your blessings.  If you were going to paint a picture of one of them, what colors would you choose?

Happy Painting and Living, from the Cottage Door.
                                                  Playmates, from China: Beyond the Wall, c Elizabeth Roth
                                                  All rights reserved.