Clara, Mr. Tiffany and Me: The Art of Creating

Clara, Mr. Tiffany and Me: The Art of Creating

 

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I’m reading Clara and Mr. Tiffany, by Susan Vreeland. It’s an excellent story about the women’s department at Tiffany Glass and their artistic contributions to the Tiffany brand, particularly his famous Tiffany lamps.

The themes of artists and how they create, and how women fought to work in the arts and crafts fields is well documented and sobering. Clara’s struggle is still real in many ways- for me personally it’s the balance of writing while juggling the demands of my life: work, marriage and family.

I’ve read all the books on how to carve time to write. I’ve tried writing prompts, creating a space to write, and formulating a daily routine to sit down in front of the computer (or picking up a pen.)

But, for me, it’s not that simple. I need quiet time to clear my mind of all its incessant chatter. Then there is the clamoring for attention by others. Sometimes I walk with earbuds connected to a silent iPod. I want to get lost in my thoughts as I breathe in the world around me.

I drive to work with the radio off. I often try composing poetry in my head as I drive. Today, I was writing this post as I waited at traffic lights. Sometimes it works.

But, more often I am distracted by the host of other people and tasks that fill my day. Here’s what typically happens:

I went for my walk Thursday evening and passing a mosaic that resides under the bridge I had an idea for my next blog post. I composed some of it as I continued to walk. When I stepped in the door I quickly showered and changed and went out to eat with my husband.

I keep composing in my head as I got ready for bed. I will sit down first thing in the morning and get this down I thought. Then I woke up and remembered my dentist appointment. And then the boss called and I had to go in and fix something at work. And then I remembered I needed to get the cat flea medicine and we were out of toilet paper…

You get the drift. I didn’t write that day. On Saturday I tried again, but by then the words sounded stale and the distractions around me kept me from recapturing the feelings I had Thursday evening.

Maybe I am just not disciplined enough. Or maybe I don’t value my talent or my time.

Clara knew the men in the Tiffany Glass Company did not think she was a serious artist. But she believed she was and she fought for her right to create.

Food for thought.

©annettealaine2017

 

Easter Eggs

Easter Eggs

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I stood behind a man at Walgreens buying two dozen eggs today. His children bounced up and down beside him. When, Dad, they asked. When do we get to dye our eggs?

I remember my mother trying to clean the house for Easter company, prepare the large ham for baking, all the while fending off our constant refrain: When are we going to dye the eggs?

She would send us out to play, to clean our rooms, to take a nap. Finally a dozen and a half eggs would be boiled. Two for each of us to dye, two for her to dye for herself and my father, and a few extras just in case.

Old chipped mugs and cups would be set on newspaper lining the picnic table in the backyard. McCormack’s colorful hatted liquid food colorings would be dropped in the vinegar scented boiling water: Robin’s egg blue, purple, orange, yellow, green, scarlet, as we discussed among ourselves which colors we would choose this Easter.

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One sibling would drop her egg in all the colors. In the end the poor egg resembled the color of weak coffee. We were fascinated and horrified at her choice to ruin one of her precious eggs.

We fought over colors and bickered over how much time each person took to achieve the perfect shade of orange. Our fingers turned various shades and someone always cracked an egg as they dropped it off the spoon into the cup.

When we had finished and our masterpieces were ready, we trooped to the dining room where seven baskets sat waiting for our artistic treasures. The eggs soon nestled in the green cellophane grass next to a hollow chocolate bunny or lamb, jelly beans and yellow marshmallow peeps.

As I watched the dad leave with a child in each hand, I thought of my own three, all grown now, wondering if their own memories of dyeing eggs was similar to mine.

Do they miss asking mom: When do we get to dye our eggs?

©annettealaine2017

No Regrets

No Regrets

In my line of work, you experience death. We go on the death watch journey with a family as someone’s loved one goes into a decline. Or it’s an unexpected shock- and we must be the calm in their tumultuous storm of shock and grief.

I have answered the phone when someone calls with the news. I have sat and listened as a family sits and waits for their appointment with clergy to plan the funeral. And what I hear over and over again is:

Don’t waste a moment.

Tell everyone you love them.

Hug often.

Fill your days with things that bring you joy.

In a week that in our biz is filled with more tedious busy-ness and mind-numbing details than is the norm, it’s easy to forget those wise words. But this week was the perfect time for me to repeat the sage advice like a mantra as I drove to work each day.

For my children- they are ready to leap to the next adventure. Perhaps my concerns have some merit, but this is the time to fly. I have few regrets, but can look back and wonder how my life would have turned out if I had boldly picked choice A over choice B.

For myself- I’ve already started 2017 with a bang. Our radical lifestyle change has reaped many blessings and giving both of us an appreciation for another chance to turn the page and start something new.

As the grieving widower sat speaking quietly to us with a smile on his face and tears in his eyes,

We had a great life, but the last ten years was more than we were promised. And we did everything she wanted to do, and had no regrets. We loved, we played and we lived every moment.

©annettealaine2017

Reparation

Reparation

I just finished the book, Good on Paper, by Rachel  Cantor.

The protagonist, Shira learns about forgiveness through a series of poems and writings by both Dante and a fictional poet, Romei.

Here was my favorite line in the book:  Nice if the offender can account for herself- confess, be contrite, make reparations, change. Nice if we can put ourselves into the offenders shoes, as if she were a character in fiction: recognize her humanity, identify with her, emphatically imagine our way to forgiveness. But ultimately, forgiveness begins not in the intentions of the offender, but the heart of the offended.

Forgiveness has been on my mind- I’ve cut the last tie to my past with the sale of the house, but during the sale another betrayal was revealed. And I was left again to wonder if I could ever forgive the person who caused so much pain and who evokes an equal amount of anger.

Cantor’s character learns that some people’s offenses are unforgivable, others will not be confessed- we can’t always wait for penance.

I’ve tried to forget the past- The agreement and the support is over, and so is the emotional manipulation that came with each check.

Forgiveness is a funny thing. You can wake up someday and a past offense no longer stings. You realize it no longer hurts, the anger has disappeared. Your heart is lighter.

But some offenses are unforgivable- in this case it’s the offense coupled with a total lack of remorse.

One day my heart may soften enough to forgive the trespass against me. I won’t waste my precious energy waiting for reparation.

@annettealaine2017

The Long Journey Home

The Long Journey Home

The first few months of 2017 have been quite eventful. The decision to sell the house and downsize has been accomplished.

Although my mind was made up to move forward and finally shed myself of this last piece of my past life, the emotions and memories it triggered were somewhat surprising.

I knew the sweet memories would flow as I packed up and sorted through my kid’s stuff- childhood memorabilia that brought good memories flooding back. Taking them to the pool, fixing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for picnics in the front yard, doll strollers and razor scooters, deflated basketballs and footballs that were used up.

Each closet, drawer or cupboard contained something from the past- bath toys, notes, legos and books. Watching my older sons sort and purge was like watching them grow up all over again. Their faces lit up in recognition as they uncovered some artifact, a memory recalled, then the item was packed into a storage bin, or placed in a pile to be given away.

The final week after moving out was sorting through the attic. The place we put all of the stuff we aren’t ready to part with just yet. If I thought sorting through the garage was a trip through the past, the attic was the place where broken dreams reside.

There were the usual holiday decorations, and the forgotten baby paraphernalia, along with a bin filled with nuggets saved from high school and college days- an unexpected treasure box for me to sift through later.

But, there were a number of boxes filled with personal items from the ex- left up in the attic to molder for the past ten years. I did not intend to open them, but they got wet in a sudden rainstorm. Sifting through the damp articles from his teen/young adult years, I realized I don’t know this person- and perhaps I never did.

I read some of his words, and my own, when we went on a weekend to try to salvage our relationship many years before we finally divorced. I heard the pain of my loneliness in my journal from that time. As I read some of his writing that weekend I recalled how disconnected he was from his wife and son.  Work has always been at the top of his priority list. And that never changed.

This house is the last tie we share. But it was never his house. We were relocated to different cities four times due to his job. This was the only move that was my choice. I wanted this house for my kids, and myself. A place chosen because it was a neighborhood filled with families and kids. . A place that felt like my own for the first time in our marriage. A place to call home.

And the dream was sustained for a while longer.  The house served its purpose.  My kids are filled with great memories, but the marriage did not survive. So I’ve packed up and moved on to a new dream,  leaving the past behind.

©annettealaine2017

 

Postscript: I’ve been writing and re-writing this piece for a number of days. I hesitated to write about my ex, out of respect for my children. But, in order to bring the last ten years to a close, this final act of shedding the past is significant to all of us. For my kids, the selling of a childhood home is a definitive end to childhood.  For me, it’s the last shackle to the past, a place and time that has influenced my writing for many years. Thank you to my husband for opening my world and filling it with so much love.

Dream Comes True

Wednesday evening I furiously packed the last few items in the house. In the darkness, I listened to the sounds of the house settling for the night. Surrounded by shadowy boxes, it was the last night in this house. Tomorrow I close this chapter, titled In Transition, begun ten years ago.

The moving truck arrived, and the cheerful workers carted out all the carefully packed boxes. Soon we were on our way, cars packed and one nervous kitty formed a caravan.

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Slowly over the past three days, the place is taking shape. Pots and pans have found their place. Re-purposing an old cabinet turned out just as we envisioned. We play our favorite CD’s as we sort and store our old things that now look fresh in this new environment.

We pause and look out the windows at the city view. We take breaks on our porch, watching a kayak glide across the river. We smile, we laugh  and we look around us in wonder. Our dream has come true.    img_4856

©annettealaine2017

Saying Goodbye

We’re at T- minus five days until the move.

I’ve collected seventeen garden bags of stuff given to charity,

given away a dining suite, sofa, chairs desk, table and more assorted furniture.

Taken one load to the storage unit and there’s at least one more trip before everything is tucked neatly away.

The walls are denuded, some rooms are bare.

Curtains are packed away, the garbage and recycling cans are overflowing.

My back is aching and I’m bone weary. There is no rest on my days off, there’s too much to do.

But I need to keep moving, keep wrapping, and sealing boxes.

If I stop I will have time to think,

to feel the wrenching pain of putting a dream long-lost away for good.

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These rooms are filled with memories- of birthday parties, and Christmas trees, Easter egg hunts, and a Halloween haunted garage.

Loud basketball games on the driveway, playing catch in the grass. Riding scooters and bikes down the hill. And hot summer days splashing in the community pool.

Sidewalks for skating, and backyards for playing hide and seek. Trees for climbing and streets wide enough for kickball and football games.

My dream was to provide my kids with a neighborhood- a place where they could wander and play with friends. That was my gift to fill their childhood with great memories.

Now it’s time to pursue a different dream- this one is for me. City life for a change.

©annettealaine2017