Observations on life & art and the inspirations I see around me

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Welcome to Springtime in Texas

My new definition for Crazy is "South by Southwest" in Austin. I can't completely explain what it is because I'm not sure I totally understand it. Basically about 200,000 people come to town for movies, interactive seminars; music in every imaginable venue; and partying for 10 days in the spring.
Today as I was telling a friend about our last few weeks I realized that it had been unusually crazy even for us. I've about recovered and even spent a day switching out seasonal clothes so I'm  ready to be in the studio. That won't really happen until after another trip to the Hill Country on the 29th but I did get a baby blanket edge stitched today and hope to get back to the machine tomorrow. 

I can say that we accomplished a fair amount in all the frenzy. K&E finished the barbque trailer and got it to Austin & inspected to serve food at South by Southwest. K helped E, C, K move from Midland to Austin where I joined them to help with unpacking and decorating (practice for when it's my turn?). I got Karlie to and from school for the week and was happy to see her settle in with kind caregivers. K&I did multiple food shopping trips & I even did a couple of stints  serving, reinforcing my suspition that food service is HARD work.  Sunday we took Karlie for the Texas tradition of pictures in the Blue Bonnets.   We came home Monday to 4" of rain. Every thing is turning green &amp starting to bloom.  

I do love Springtime in Texas. Hope the weather is good where you are.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Memories of Mother

Yesterday I helped my friend, Suzanne Morgan, in her booth at the Dallas Quilt Show. It was fun to be among the beautiful creations of so many talented artists & artisans. I enjoyed demonstrating needle felting with Suzanne's great hand dyed wools & silks. She has some new patterns that she is selling so I made a few flowers and the purse as samples for her. As I was making these I thought about my mother. I could imagine her liking these; I could even be making her a birthday gift and then she'd want to learn how to do it too except she's been gone 12 years.

Martha Kate McCrory Ashley was a city girl through & through. She was born in Houston in the house I later lived in from age 2-10. She was so anxious to leave that house for a newer, bigger one that it took me years to realize it's charms. It came to inhabit my dreams and inform my love of old and slightly battered spaces but for Mother it held sadness. When we left there it was "a bad part of town". I went back a few years ago as it's only blocks from the convention center where the International Quilt Show is held and the area is changing due to it's close proximity to downtown. Mother probably would still have wanted to be gone from there.

I have come to understand how events from our early lives stay with us always. To Mother that house represented loss. Her father had lost his business during the depression. He was gone before I was born but I got the impression he wasn't a very nice man to my Grandmother or his children after that.

My early memories there were happy and often included aunts & uncles & cousins. That changed when Mother's sister died at 32 when I was 5. After that I remember sensing Mother & Grandmother being sad under the surface even when they were smiling.

Mother loved flowers but if she'd been able to afford to buy them I doubt she would have spent much time outside. That was my Grandmother's and then Dad's domain. I think of Mother's place as being at the sewing machine or with some kind of needle in her hand. She LOVED to sew. She worked for an insurance company most of my growing up years so Grandmother took care of cooking & laundry as long as she was able.  Later when Mother took over the kitchen, she was very good at it, She relished her reputation as an excellent cook and enjoyed feeding family & friends. Still for me the fondest memory is of her sewing. I feel blessed that she passed that passion on to me & hope that what I stitch with my hands brings her honor and smiles.

Emily Lynn Hammitt was born Thurs. on Dad's birthday and I think of you 2 smiling down on her. Love you Mom. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mish Mash & Memory

Yesterday Ashley woke me with a text wishing the old family pictures weren't all packed away as she wanted to do a collection of camping pictures. Later she sent me a blog picture with a Blue Mist by Dansk plate; these are the same dishes I've had for 44 years. Ashley said they reminded her of her childhood. I hope she has good memories of happy family meals.

Memories are wonderous & mysterious things. A cousin called last week to tell me her brother had a stroke and while he is recoving speech and motor skills he has no memory of his parents and wife being gone for over 10 years. Like Alzheimers, that seems so sad for both of them as she tells him of the losses of loved ones over and over again.

I believe memories are important parts of who we are. For me memories are often the basis of my art work even when the image is abstract.  That I can't remember a time when I didn't sew and the feelings of accomplishement from some of my early projects informs my sense of self.

This picture is from a quilt I did in 2009 to pair with a poem about an empty chair in Galveston. I grew up on the gulf coast and have wonderful memories of the beach.  This picture reminds me of the adventure of learning to fish with Dad and the feelings we had celebrating one of his favorite pasttimes.

Dad would have been 97 today. He's been gone 4 years and I still miss him very much. Dad could have been the poster image for "Child of the Great Depression". His father had left when he was young and his mother raised 4 children. That hardship made him the "strong silent type". He wasnt' particularly expressive of emotions except anger until he became a grandfather. I remember him holidng Ashley the day she was born. I do thing being "Pawpaw" was his highest calling.
He taught us to love the outdoors, camping & fishing and had a respect for nature before we called it enviromentalism. I never shared his affection for east Texas (to me it felt closed it; to him it represented safety I think) I understood his need to visit and enjoyed trips with him over many back roads. In his last days he still expressed longing for the "Piney Woods". He honed his story telling skills with the grandkids and they loved him for that and other generosities.  I hope they will always remember his pride in his CCC service and the help he could give his mother and younger sisters during hard times. While he was never really suited to city life, but lived in Houston because it was Mother's home and where the work was, he donned a coat & tie most working days for 40 years as a department manager for Sears. This was back when the companes cared about employees and he was proud of his company and his service to it. I couldn't bring myself to tell him how they had cheated him and others when they "sold" to Kmart so that will be my memory to keep.
The second time the phone rang this morning it was my nephew. He was calling from the hospital to tell me their baby girl is coming today. Happy Birthday Pawpaw.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Promises of Things to Come

Sorry I've been away so long; once again it's been a busy month of family projects. The guys got the bbq trailer finished and off to Austin. Karlie & her Mom & Dad will be in their apt. there Wed. evening. Karl is down  helping and moving his bbq trailer from Wimberley to Austin to serve as backup for the anticipated rush of South by Southwest. I stayed here to do some catch up. I loved having Karlie her; it really was an amazing time of love & laughter. She is such a blessing & I hope she had as much fun as I did.

Still there were projects and commitments that did not get done. On top of that I was gone 5 days at the end of Feb. for an upcoming project & to attend the Texas Fiber Federation conference. I will write about that & post pictures of my resist experiments from the Lisa Kerpoe workshop soon.

Yesterday & today I've worked long hours outside and enjoyed our glorious weather. We didn't have much of a winter in terms of snow & ice but there was still the seasonal die off that makes us appreciate spring. It seems to me that it;s come extra early to North Texas. I'm hoping we don't get a late freeze that kills off new growth. I'm trying to stay in the now and not be nervous about summer but admit to fear of another scorcher like last year. While I'm enjoying the clear blue skies I'm also thinking of those who suffered in the last few days of storms and tornadoes in the midwest. I'm reminded of the power of nature to cause great joy and great sorrow. I pray for those who have lost so much.

My work outside is to overcome the period of neglect & add some new color in baskets and pots. The house is going back on the market and the realtor wants to do new pictures. I'll try to get some too. Whatever your weather I hope you're having a chance to create in some way and don't forget to be grateful for blue skies when they come your way.