Someday, Paris

I don’t often get to visit my niece, Big G, or my nephew, Lil’ G.  They live across the country, so we Skype for holidays and I fly out a couple of times a year to sleep on an air mattress in Big G’s room.  When she was born, the first of my brother’s children, there was an instant connection between us.  The last time I visited, I arrived late at night, after the kids were in bed, then woke up at dawn because my internal clock said it was time to be up.  I brewed a cup of coffee and sat on the patio, enjoying the sunrise before the heat of the day.  When Big G woke before the rest of the house, she came to the patio door.  My arms opened wide, she climbed in my lap, and our arms wrapped tight around each other for a hug.  We sat like that minute after minute, happy to see each other again.  Then we started talking about books and poems and cats and art and Paris and all the things that she and I love together and everyone else wonders how the things I love the most came to be the things she loves the most, without me ever telling her until she told me she loved whatever it is.  The magic of family, of God’s connection, I think.

No one knows where Big G’s love of Paris came from.  One day, she started talking about it to her parents out of the blue.  They told me the next time we talked and I admit to being surprised.  I fell in love with Paris when I was young and I don’t know where it came from for me either.  Maybe that’s just what some girls do when they are growing up and reach a particular age.

It’s easy to share books and read each others poems.  It’s not as easy to share Paris, at least not at the age she is now (a trip is planned when she turns 18…things to look forward to!).  Then I realized it was easy after all.  I could give her the gift of Paris, the iconic symbol of Paris, with my art.

Someday, Paris (link to poem)

Paris - Finished
The Eiffel Tower at sunrise and sunset
Paris - Tower
A change in perspective
Paris - Poem
A poem for Big G

Next up: Lil’ G’s art quilt

21 Elephants

This is the year the youngest turns 21.  We’re in the midst of planning his birthday trip to celebrate.  However, his girlfriend, who we love to pieces, beat him to that milestone.  In fact, she kicked off this Labor Day weekend with birthday cookies and legal fun.  When the realization set in that this was the year the children wouldn’t be children any longer (at least in terms of age), I knew it was important to mark the celebration with something out of the ordinary.

Combining her favorite elephants with the symbols of her sorority and her school colors, 21 Elephants came to life.  She tells me she loves it.

In lieu of a poem, the label for this piece was used for a birthday message.

21 Elephants

21 Elephants
21 Elephants
21 Elly - Elephant
These elephants come in assorted colors
21 Elly - 1 to Grow On
This elephant is one to grow on
21 Elly - Label
A birthday message

Next up: An experimental piece to practice technique.

Any Color’s All Right As Long As It’s Blue (for Gene), Part 2 (Finished!)

The last of the Any Color series for my grandparents is complete.

Red for Basil. Green for Lucille. Purple for Neska. And Blue for Gene.

Spending the last few months creating these has been both pleasant and poignant, a time of joy-filled memories of visits with beloved grandparents but also a time tinged with the sadness that never, ever quite leaves after loss.

The process to create Blue went more smoothly than those before it. Not all that surprising, I suppose. Practice makes perfect (or close to it), after all. However, the knowledge that Blue, the last in this series, was in memory of the first grandparent I lost made me a little weepy. There are tears stitched to, and soaked into, the fabric.

A piece of my heart went with each grandparent when he or she died. But in return, a piece of each of them lives on in me.

Blue is for Grandpa Gene, who lives large and bold in my heart.

**

Any Color’s All Right As Long As It’s Blue (for Gene) ~ link to poem

Any Color - Gene - Finished
The finished product
Any Color - Gene - 13
His favorite number was 13
Any Color - Gene - Green Giant
He gave me a Jolly Green Giant doll. I remember it with vivid clarity. There are days I wish I still had it.
Any Color - Gene - Photo
Wasn’t he handsome?
This seemed like the perfect place to save his fireman’s retirement badge.
Any Color - Gene - Poem
The poem

~~

How do you honor those who live on in your heart?

 

Any Color’s All Right As Long As It’s Blue (For Gene), Part 1

My Grandpa Gene was my favorite. Just as parents aren’t supposed to have favorite children, I suppose children shouldn’t have favorite grandparents. But I did.

I loved all my grandparents. I still do, very much, but Grandpa Gene is the one who I remember with the most clarity, the memories vibrant and vivid and bright.

Gene was a big man, with large hands and feet, and a gruff demeanor; a gentle giant with his tiny wife and daughter, and his two tinier grandchildren. He made large pots of chili, loved to fish and hunt and watch football. He smoked Parliaments and read dirty joke books in the bathroom off the kitchen. He managed a cold storage in our town, he served as a fireman and an alderman. He gave me a Jolly Green Giant doll he received from the Green Giant people.

I wish I still had that doll. It smelled like him.

This big man would allow my brother and I to climb in his lap. We would lay across the arms of the armchair in the den, and he would rub our backs with one large hand. No masseuse can compete with those back rubs.

When I was ten, he died. He had just turned seventy.

Grandpa Gene was one of six relatives we lost over the course of a year and a half. My Grandma Clark was another (see her quilt here). His was the first funeral I attended. The monsignor told funny stories in the eulogy.  I sat with my parents and my Nonie in the front pew on the right side of the aisle in St. Patrick’s Church, awash in tears, baffled and offended that anyone could find anything funny about the loss of Grandpa Gene.

It has been almost forty years since Grandpa Gene left us and there is still nothing funny about this loss. I wept then. I weep today.

His color was blue. That seems fitting. My tears are blue too.

Any Color - Gene - Fabric
Fabric choices
Any Color - Gene - Canvas
The canvas
Any Color - Gene - Canvas 3
A vast sea of blue
Any Color - Gene - Fishes
Fishes swimming in the vast sea

~~

Is there someone you’ve lost for whom you still grieve, even though it’s been decades?

Any Color’s All Right As Long As It’s Purple (for Neska), Part 2 (Finished!)

June was a crazy month.  I had to travel for work three out of the four weeks, two days each week, which should have thrown off my whole schedule.  And, to a degree, it did.  But it also motivated me to work harder and longer in the available time I did have at home in my studio.  As a result, I not only started Any Color’s All Right As Long As It’s Purple (for Neska) in June, I FINISHED it in the same month!  It’s the small things, people.  Those little accomplishments that make all the difference between continuing and giving up.  Celebrate all the tiny victories.

I love the colors in this art quilt.  Of course, my love of purple comes naturally.  I dug through my jewelry box for the embellishments.  Grandma Neska loved brooches; I was surprised to find I had a few that would have suited her.  Please let me know what you think.

**

Any Color’s All Right As Long As It’s Purple (for Neska) ~ link to poem

Any Color - Neska - Finished
Look at all that purple!! A royal art quilt. 🙂
Any Color - Neska - Detail 01
Lots of hearts for lots of love
Any Color - Neska - Detail 02
And lots of kisses
Any Color - Neska - Detail 03
Found this sparkly heart in the bottom draw of my jewelry box. Art deserves to glitter.
Any Color - Neska - Photo
My paternal grandma, Neska.  Note the brooch on her dress.
Any Color - Neska - Poem
Poetry label
The next in the series: Blue (for Gene) is in the early stages.  This one may be tough — he was my favorite.  Stay tuned.
How do you motivate yourself when you feel overwhelmed?