Yesterday my husband and his sisters laid their beloved mother to rest and today was the 3rd anniversary of the death of my own mother. I woke up and tried to talk myself into laying in bed most of the day but my conscience wouldn't allow it.
Routine was better than sulking the day away so I lead Maggie out for her walk only to find a foggy, dreary morning. What most might greet with disdain, I found only profound beauty. I went back into the house for my camera and snapped some pictures of the remaining raindrops that clung to the bare limbs of the maple tree in the foreground of the foggy field.
I started my day as normal and checked my email and scrolled through Facebook. I dressed and went to work in my studio and finished a commissioned pair of seahorse earrings and made 7 other pieces of jewelry for my show this weekend.
I called my sister and invited her to lunch. We spent the afternoon talking about family without tears in our eyes. We talked about how we have started seeing all of the shades of gray in our lives that we never saw in our youth. We laughed. We have become humbled by our life trials and losses. We were able to compare notes about ourselves and our families that we once would never share with each other; worried that we might not be measuring up to the expectations that we held for ourselves.
Despite the losses that we both were feeling, we were able to move through our day with love in our hearts. It may not have been the best of days but it was a lovely day nonetheless.
1. a supply of anything gathered at maturity and stored
2. the result or consequence of any act, process, or event:
The journey yielded a harvest of wonderful memories.
verb (used with object)
1.to gain, win, acquire, or use (a prize, product, or result of any past act, process, plan, etc.).
Synonyms: accumulation, collection, return.
I've taken the definition of harvest from the dictionary and excluded anything related to the harvest of a crop to show the way in which I use the term in my life. As I gather images to include on this website, I realize I am much more prolific than I ever realized. In so many ways, I once felt I had wasted time by not living my life in self absorption of the arts. But now I see how wrong that line of thinking truly is... I realize that by living my life in such the way I have, it has given me the very reasons to create.
In the times of grief my friends or family members have endured, instead of a purchased card, I have given a drawing or a painting and sometimes jewelry I have made to honor their loss. For the celebration of life events, I have given works of art. In times of just observing my children grow, I have recorded a benchmark or a milestone in their lives that I wanted to immortalize. And it wasn't until the making of this website, done in the name of "shameless self-promotion", that I realize the direction my journey has taken me by way of my job, my family and my talent.
I had forgotten how one of the pieces I added to the gallery this morning looked. When I saw it again, the memory of my thoughts when I completed it rushed back into my head. I remember thinking, "I hope she likes it. I hope it speaks to her in a way that touches her. I hope she doesn't think I'm weird for not getting her flowers or a card" and unable to face her to present it to her in proper fashion, I left it between the the screen and the door of her mudroom entrance all those years ago. Such is the testament to my level of self-confidence both then and even now.
Along with the compilation of images to share here on my website there are a number more that I have lost any form of record of them other than in my memory. No pictures were taken and attempts to contact some of the people who purchased them have yielded no answer. I still have more to share and will update my galleries as I have time with both old and new work.
One more gallery will also be added eventually. At one time in my life I thought I would make my living making stained glass windows. I have a small collection of pictures, some good, some not so good to share of my windows that I need to scan. Along with the windows I also sold stepping stones made of concrete and stained glass at my husbands produce stand one summer. The stepping stones were very popular and I was given many orders to fill. I also had a plan to pursue making a line of outdoor stained glass windows for display in gardens but that idea fell by the wayside because I wasn't patient enough to see if there would be a market for them. My son has a stained glass trellis I designed that my husband and I built with treated lumber. The stained glass roses now reside in a plastic version of the trellis in his yard. He did a wonderful job converting it to a maintenance free garden structure.
My random thoughts go to the theory "Six degrees of Separation". There was a Facebook posting a few weeks ago that I saw because I am a friend of the friend who posted it. It made me realize that I have a connection with someone that I see quite often lately now that I spend more time being an art vendor whom I've never known personally. I know some of his childhood friends and his mother knew my parents. He even owns a piece of furniture that was purchased from my family's antique shop back in the day.
That one degree of separation gave way to recall of a random memory from my childhood. My memories come to me like snippets of video footage. As I walked down the street of the bayfront community I don't see with whom I was walking. I think it was Mrs. Rose and her daughter Kelly. I used to visit them as a child when they moved to Long Beach from Dares Beach. It may have been on one of those overnight visits I used to have with Kelly but I can't swear to it. As we walked, we approached a beautiful garden that grew on the outside of a cinderblock fence. There was a lady tending her beautiful garden and we stopped to visit with her for a few moments. I don't remember the conversation or how long it lasted. I don't even remember her face. My lense was focused on the beautiful flowers growing on the outside of the gray wall that guarded the home's privacy. There were open portholes in the wall, too high to peek through but still allowed the bay breezes to pass through. I remember wondering why she hid the garden from herself and thinking maybe there is another one beyond the gates that only she and her family could see. I wondered what it might look like but was too timid to ask.
As an adult, my husband and I bought our first home in that same community. In the gully alongside my yard grew some of the beautiful vintage orange daylilies that graced many yards in the community, including that beautiful garden I remembered as a child visiting there. I dug them up and placed them in the garden I created in my hillside yard. The beauty of the garden I created is long gone and overgrown; too much for the new owners to care for I guess. But that street side garden I remembered so very long ago always inspired me to create something not just for my own eyes to see. I guess the subliminal message I learned so very long ago was to create beauty in your life, not just for one's self, but for everyone else to see.
This pastel is a portrait of one of those daylilies I dug up and planted in my yard so many years ago.
Today my mind is consumed with anxiety over the fear of the unknown. Just when you need to hear the right words from anyone (and anyone will do) you get a note back from a life long childhood friend on Facebook. (Perfect) The conversation between us started with me letting her know I had just changed my price points on my digital art prints. She just purchased one and I wanted her to choose another. Her response brought tears to my eyes because she so eloquently gives me such wonderful feedback. She is a master crafter of the written word. In response I couldn't stay all wishy- washy emotional so I shared with her this funny anecdote about the print she just purchased. I decided to share it on my blog too...
Re: Seated (To me the title represents comfort with one's self.)
A customer at my last art fair bought one of my prints and shared her thoughts with me. This is what she said, "I collect mermaids but they have to have the right faces. This one [Seated] reminds me of a Madam." The exchange of conversation between the customer and I was light-hearted and I'm always flattered by their purchase and interested in their spoken perception of my art. But, I had to laugh in my head as I recalled all of the conversations I had in art school with classmates about how an artist has to "prostitute" his or her art to make a living when she mentioned the term "Madam". It's true, we do. It's difficult to give our art up by putting a price on it and selling it. Yet it's always easy to give it away. It's the same with love.
This morning found me watching this feather drift down in front of me. I had just heard the song of a mourning dove and the flutter of its flight from my Lily of the Valley tree. My camera was not ready to catch the image in mid descent but the backdrop of the blue chip gravel in my driveway defined it quite profoundly...soft as a feather, hard as a rock. Yin and Yang. (My cell phone takes the best macro pictures.)
As I worked in my studio today the house was quiet, no music, no television, all alone and my mind was on autopilot with free association memories playing through my head. Suddenly my mind stopped on a memory like a marble on a roulette wheel. As the memory, like the marble, bounced to rest in my head I could feel the blood rush to my cheeks. I felt the constriction of my throat muscle that paralyzes my vocal cords during uncomfortable moments. My thoughts stopped on an embarrassing moment I experienced years ago. I was physically and emotionally reliving the moment as if it had just happened. It only lasted for a moment but it lead me to wonder why I had such an intense reaction to the memory. Then I realized that I have just as intense emotional responses to all of my memories. Sad memories make me cry, happy memories make me smile, funny memories make me laugh out loud; so why shouldn't an embarrassing moment make me blush? Silly me.
2014 marked the 50th year that my family moved to the small rural setting of Calvert County, Maryland. It was 1964 when my father was offered an opportunity to pursue a bright future in his chosen field of education. Along with that anniversary came an overwhelming nostalgic look at the people and place that had defined who I was and who I have become. 2014 is also the year that I made a decision to figure out how to navigate the social networking site Facebook.
2014 marked as well, the year the school system in which I worked started their move to use Office 365 to "do business". I would be the one to navigate that environment and organize the structure of the documents for the office in which I worked. When my investigation of this virtual office environment confused me a bit I called the programmer overseeing the migration. When I expressed my concern about how this program was not as "intuitive" as all of the other Microsoft products, Joel said, " Yes it is Lisa, It's just based on the intuitiveness of social networking." Bingo! My doggedness to figure out how things are done triggered a real world application that I could use as a testing ground for achieving the goals set forth by my boss; hence Facebook.
I set out to honor my family in a very public way on a very public forum. Even though Facebook had a bad reputation in the office where I worked, my plan was to use it in a positive way. Our office worked to resolve the harassment issues brought into the school system by way of cyber bullying. My goal was to play nice in the sandbox and never throw sand in the face of others.
Learning the privacy settings in Facebook helped me work through the understanding of the hierarchy of privilege settings in O365. What most people don't know about my Facebook page is that along with the multitude of public, and friend posts, I probably have just as many posts that only I can see on my wall. How many people know that there is a choice to post things that only they can see? I'll never know that answer unless Facebook decides to provide those stats publicly.
2014 also denotes the year I broke a promise. Remember Joel, the programmer? He would occasionally ask me how long I would be around to assist my office in the migration of O365. At the time I honestly answered seven years. His response was a positive one that made me feel as though I was an important part of his plan. My plan was to retire at the age of 62, giving the public school system 40 years of my service, but that would not be what transpired. Mid year of 2014 I decided to retire after only 34 1/2 years of service. It was time for me to move on, not to retire and live the life of leisure, but to pursue a different kind of career. So far I put way more hours into it than I ever put into it before...my art. I guess I didn't really break a promise...it was more of a change in plans. Sorry Joel.
So getting back to those 2014 Facebook posts to honor my family I lead in with this...there were nine of us that moved to this beautiful peninsula in 1964. Five of which are now laid to rest in a small hilltop cemetery on a short bypass road in Prince Frederick. I drove past it every morning on my way to work for the last 13 years. I always greeted them good morning as I drove along that little back road. As for the rest of us; two of us still live here, one lives in North Carolina with her family and one lives in Illinois with her family. We are "the girls" often referred to in this way growing up.
The following are some of the posts from Facebook 2014.
February 5, 2014
I am so excited! Just decided yesterday to make a long overdue trip back "home" to Yellville, Arkansas in the beautiful Ozark Mountains with my sister. Majestic beauty on the Bull Shoals Lake nearby. I haven't been there since I was 16. Lots of fond memories starting to bubble up. My roots. I cannot wait! It should be beautiful in the early spring.
May 29, 2014
I was only 5 when we came to Calvert County so I guess you could say I was at least raised here and I am a product of the school system my father came to serve. As I grew older and understood the position my father held in the community I became very proud of his contributions. From my point of view, the youngest of six children, who watched every move he made and listened to every word he spoke, he was my hero. He had a creative intellect that gave him a vision of forward thinking that some never understood. He was a man of idioms that, to this day, serve me well in my understanding of human nature. I hear his voice in my head often, reciting some of those sayings. The audio memory of his voice and laughter is as comforting to me as a warm blanket.
In my eyes he held everyone to the same standard whether he wanted to or not. It wasn’t until I went to high school in the 1970’s that I realized there were many people in the community that didn’t like my father because of his position. He was either liked or hated and rarely held with indifference. He was charged with taking privileges away from the privileged as well as his own children and their friends. He doled out corporal punishment when absolutely necessary. He managed a new breed of teacher that came to work in bellbottoms and mini skirts. Dress codes were abolished and courses in technology and the creative arts were being expanded.
It was an era of social unrest and anti-establishment. Once he became surrogate disciplinarian to my direct peers I also learned the lesson he and my mother often recited to me, “Not everyone is going to like you”, in a very profound way. It was a school newspaper cartoon that changed my naïve notion that everyone liked my wonderful dad. The student that drew the caricatures of the school administrators for an edition of the school newspaper placed my father’s head atop a worm. It was to symbolize the spineless character that some of the student body and staff felt my dad possessed. I was devastated, mortified and embarrassed to say the least. Even though I knew he, himself found it funny and that he endorsed freedom of speech, I had to muster every social grace that a young teenage girl might possess to go to school the next day with my head held high. His seemingly spineless nature was actually his way of giving a person the room to either succeed or fail on one’s own. I believe he was an excellent judge of character.
I was devastated the year he left the high school to return to the central office. I would be the only child of six that didn’t have our father’s signature on my diploma. I was more than annoyed that he was not there on stage to hand me my diploma as he was for all of my siblings before me. In hindsight I realize it was time for him to move forward.
My father was very proud of the students that passed through his halls. Many of those students have gone on to become important members of the community themselves. It has been in recent years that community members that graduated during his years as principal at CSHS have shared very fond memories of him with me.
July 12, 2014
One of my Friday projects. My first summer Friday I've really had off since summer hours started. Damn 10 hour days (-1) are a pain. Anyway...this piece brought me a little closer to my dad today. Because I made it from odds and ends sterling pieces on my worktable, I thought of him and the cricket I watched him make from scraps of metal and wood from the back yard when I was a child. How'd I do dad? Thank you for the skills you gave me.
September 3, 2014
So I took my sweet little Maggie out for her end of the day walk and found the symphony of insects and amphibians especially nostalgic this evening. The cacophony in the stillness of the warm summer evening stirred up the sadness that I feel for the passing of time. As I stood in the darkness it was so easy to relive some of the moments in my life that I so loved. But my sadness is only felt in the sense that I can only hold those fond memories of the past just as that... fond memories.
In stark contrast, I just recently shared with a friend my feelings about my fifth decade of life. It is by far my most favorite decade. I like who I've become... what a gift this human experience is.
Good night Port Republic.
September 18, 2014
So many wonderful memories and thoughts come to mind when I sit and sand or polish the metal of a piece of jewelry I'm working on at my bench. I listen to my favorite musical artists from the present as well as from the past. When I hear particular songs from the past I tend to think of the social settings I placed myself in as a young adult. Sitting around the turn table with like-minded friends, listening to the melodies and lyrics of my generation. Sipping wine or beer, breaking bread and good conversation...those are the days I do not miss, rather I revel in having lived those moments. Moments that make me who I have become today. To all my present and past friends, thank you and happy #tbt. May you listen to one of those very special songs in your life.
November 22, 2014
Just saw a falling star in this crisp autumnal night. Make a wish.
— feeling positive.
December 4, 2014
#tbt The Girls aka the Dardin Girls...I love being one of the girls, even though it seemed to segregate us from the other siblings, as if we were a subset of the family. Being part of a family, made of the same fabric yet very unique with individual personalities. Several years ago I made some bracelets for the other three girls with that line of thinking. They were all made of the same types of stones and metal but each was unique in shape, design and form. These two pictures, both at our childhood home on Dares Beach, one showing us in our Easter best (circa mid/late 60's) and the other when we were clearing the contents to sell it. Fifty years really does go by fast.
December 11, 2014
I have a confession. Yesterday at work I was looking out the window at the dry brown leaves clinging to the oak tree in the front parking lot. I remembered a science lesson from elementary or middle school about how the old dying leaves of the oak tree don’t fall from the limbs as do other trees’ leaves in the fall of the year. Instead they hold tight to the branches until the new growth in the spring pushes them off to the ground. Semi-deciduous is the term I recalled.
This led to my recall of a short story I once read a very long time ago but couldn’t remember the title. At first I thought the author to be Truman Capote and Googled his works for several minutes before finding that the author was actually O. Henry. The Last Leaf was the title of the story (why didn’t I remember that?) and here is the synopsis of the story I found on line:
Johnsy and Sue are artists who move into Greenwich Village in New York City. As winter approaches and the weather gets colder, Johnsy becomes ill with pneumonia. She gets so sick that she believes that when the last leaf falls from the vine outside her window, she will die.
An old artist, named Behrman, who lives in the same building as the girls, braves a storm one night to paint a leaf on the wall — a leaf that will never fall. Cold and wet from painting in the icy rain, he catches pneumonia and dies. This gives Johnsy the hope to survive her illness, and it also creates the masterpiece Behrman had always dreamed of painting.
Sometimes my #tbt comes out in mental images instead of the printed type…the image I have in my mind of a leaf painted on a wall. So much was gained by the belief that a leaf held tight to that wall and survived even the darkest of storms…a masterpiece Behrman created by way of selflessness.
So my confession is, I don’t always think about work when I’m at work. I guess that’s ok. (Sometimes I just love stating the obvious.)
This is not my original idea, but I had to try it. Mermaid tails made from silver plated spoons. It's a wonderful exercise for me to hone my jeweler's saw skills and my metalsmithing skills in forming (or in this case reforming), texturing and soldering. The spoon is silver plate, but I silver soldered some sterling patterned wire to form the bail. I cut a little miter join into the end of the cut off spoon, inserted the pattern wire and brazed them together with silver solder. I used a small ball-peen hammer to texture the bowl of the spoon. The shape of the tail is only limited by my imagination and skill. (I have some old sterling spoons I can't wait to cut into.) I got so sidetracked with this yesterday. Oh well.
A look into my artist mind! This compilation of thoughts inspires & produces each unique piece of art & jewelry I create.