Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Tuesday, January 11, 2022
Something that is bringing me a lot of light this winter is a new 'found' project. Let me share what I am up to....
I have two old journal/day planners of my mother's that she never really used. She was not a journaler, and I am not sure how she happened to have these two, very nice quality/Italian made, with sewn binding. Mom died a few years back, so it's not like I can ask her. Perhaps they were "new year's resolution" purchases, something she thought she'd have a go at? These books are from 1992 and 1993, soon after Dad had retired from the Navy and they had moved near the beach, in South Carolina.
It took a little courage on my part to open them up and read through these. I was not surprised yet still disappointed to find that there were very few entries, and everything was quite superficial - "haircut at 10 am." The biggest confidences seemed to involve food, "We went out to eat and I had scallops for dinner." Truly, there were very few references to any family members, except for noting phone calls, as in "I called Maureen this evening."
Later, when I was out running trails with my pal Marla, I lamented aloud - "How I wish I found some sort of affirming words about me in her writing. I'm half-thinking of writing a love note to myself in the empty pages." (This was one of those 'give yourself what you need' ideas that a therapist might recommend.) Marla, an artist, immediately suggested - "Oh my - you should make an altered book!"
"A what?" I asked, confused.
When I got home from the run, I went on a deep dive (thank you, Google and YouTube) to discover everything I could about altered books...and this has become my 'found' project. This visual art/craft approach appears for some to be a way to create almost an artist's portfolio, or to experiment with different art techniques. I am taking mine in a more personal direction, using Mom's book/writings (or lack of writing) as a muse, creating art collages and drawings, basically 'playing' with the book.
Let me show you a collage I have just started - this is going to be a map of their home and surrounding area, showing all Mom's favorite places. I have created the 'toe' of the island that they lived on and the water all around, using papers cut from picture book jackets.
(I should ask you teachers - do you recognize the illustrators?).
(Okay, okay - I'll share! The 'land' is from Jerry Pinkney's The Lion and The Mouse and the "water" is from Michaela Goede's illustrations in Carole Lindstrom's We Are Water Protectors)
As I said, I'm mid-process on this collage - I have yet to add roads, bike paths, and favorite places. More to come!!
I am awed by how this work is stimulating other writing, leading to poetry and some fanciful fiction draft ideas. Honestly, the exploration is meditative and hopeful. I am having so so so much fun.
Let me share a little poem I wrote, totally imagining Mom living in her new community, immersed in her local Catholic church and new friends. I thought about her and a friend taking a day to visit the local shopping outlets, from her entry "Tru and I to the outlets":
the perfect day
how the waitress made us chuckle
shouting our names, saying hello
she knows us now, each morning
early Mass, coffee and biscuits
then we drove to the outlets
searching for the perfect shoes
finding so many bargains
that turquoise blouse looked so good on you
how fun it was to wander into
the little art boutique
so many beautiful pottery pieces
people are so creative
we sat on the bench outside for a bit
remember how cool the air was
how gentle the breeze
such a nice break from the heat
driving back, you shared that story
your trip to the mountains
all the antics that ensued
how we laughed and laughed
I had no sooner put my new things away
when he came through the door
we sat on the porch together
sharing our stories
I seriously don't know where I am 'going' with this project, but it is the perfect thing for me as another winter of isolation bears down.
Thursday, January 6, 2022
New to me in 2022, I am joining a community of writers who offer a little window into their spiritual lives on the first Thursday of every month. (Thank you, Denise Krebs, for connecting me with this writing circle.) Margaret Simon kicks off this year of writing with a post about 'one little word' that will guide her in the days to come; her post provides links to other writers' words. Here's my post this first Thursday of January 2022 . . .
Today finds me lost in thought, with one small yet wonderful 'trigger' memory; let me share:
Mom took one look at the bland-looking, soft, pureed pile of novelty that I had set out on an appetizer tray with some crackers and vegetables, and wrinkled her nose a bit, as if debating whether or not to try it. She saw me glance her way and then quietly commented, "Well, if Maureen put it out, then it must be good, so I'll try it."
This was circa 1990, when my mother dared to taste hummus for the first time, at a get-together at my house. I don't recall whether she liked it - it certainly wasn't anything she purchased at the grocery store ever, even once, but I do remember being so amused by her self-talk that day. As if I had ever convinced her of anything! I figured she was trying to "save face" in front of her young grandchildren, to do the right thing - eat what was served.
Tuesday, January 4, 2022
Happy January 2022! Another year beckons, another year awaits, another year welcomes.
We began the year here in Maryland with unseasonably warm temperatures - taking walks in long sleeve shirts, pulling weeds from the yard, sitting on the porch for a moment...the world appearing to be spring. Then, overnight, a storm front came in and the temperatures plummeted and we are now blanketed in snow -
Are we standing on the threshold of another year of the word
If that is the word placed upon my shoulders, I will serve up DENIAL instead. hahaha.