Monday, June 28, 2021

Hot Day Memories


Living the last few days in my ‘cool cave’, my mind wanders back to my childhood. Those days where sitting in the sun was safe and fun. Splashing in the community pool without sunscreen was the norm. And there was NO air conditioning. 

Yes, I got really sunburned. And yes, as a descendent of Ireland, my skin is not just fair, easily sunburned but also high on the list of skin cancer risk groups. And yes, I’ve had melanoma and I’m luckily now, cancer free. 

How did we survive the heat?

Sitting in my air conditioned cave, I wonder how we all survived the summer heat and humidity in the Midwest. It was hot, yes. But it was also heavy with moisture that weighed you down like a heavy, hot blanket. I remember hating it. 

But I also remember going to the library, not air conditioned at all, but dark and cool and filled with rows and rows of books. I was a regular. Checking out stacks of books at a time. One summer I read through all books in the women in history section. Of course, I read through all the Nancy Drew I didn’t own and other classics like Little Women, House on the Prairie, Huckleberry Finn, Heidi and more. 

At home with a borrowed book, I headed next door where my two friends were already sitting on the covered patio quietly turning pages. One summer, a box arrived from my grandmother’s house filled with paperback gothic novels. I voraciously read them all. As we sat and sipped Kool-aide, feet propped on the brick walled patio reading the hot days away.

Forward into the past. 

I do miss swimming and splashing in the sunshine sometimes. I loved the water. But not the sunburns that came later. As a melanoma survivor, I don’t go out into the sun now unless I really have to and then only layered in sunscreen. I’m so grateful for the technology we now have that can protect us from the sun. 

With temperatures soaring into the hundreds, I’m regressing into my childhood comfort zone. I’m sitting with my feet propped, a cool drink and a stack of digital books. I’m in the house, out of the sun, heat and humidity. Safe from cancerous rays, reading the hot days away. 

And remembering those hot summer days quietly reading the day away fondly but now very glad for my air conditioned cool cave. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Closet Archeology

There are many closet cliches because closets hold so much of our lives. It’s not about the shirts, hats, pants, dresses and coats, it’s about our life. I think we stuff our closets like we stuff our pantry, to feel full and safe. Storing old boxes of books, toys, photos are a way to preserve the past, but it also keeps us from having to let it go and move on. 

Even when we actually move from one place to the next, it’s feels better to move the unopened boxes and old clothes. Because then, we can bring our past with us into our future. The known moves with us into the unknown. 

Digging into the past. 

I spent the last week digging through my children’s childhood. They are grown up and parents now. Yet inside their childhood bedroom closets were boxes and boxes of dolls, trains, books and games. I’ve asked them many times to come and take a look, to take or toss what they wanted. Somehow, they never seemed to have the time. 

With 2 grandchildren, I decided it was time to dig through it all and pass on my children’s childhood memories to them. And keep some here for the next generation to enjoy. 

What a find. 

I found Barbie and baby dolls. Marble works and legos. A stuffed Pooh bear and a wooden carousel that still play lullaby music. A baby book, boxes of photographs. Band uniforms and ball gowns. Legos by the millions and a beloved Brio train set. 

I also found my own Barbie doll and her case with clothes that dated back to my childhood. A Chatty Cathy doll who no longer talks and had one eye missing. And yes, that ever popular Cabbage Patch doll. 

Memory museum. 

I don’t want my house to become a museum to the past. I don’t want to burden my children with things they don’t want. So some of the things got tossed and some were donated. 

But some of the closet artifacts moved back in with my now grown up children. They sent me pictures of them reading cherished books to their children. Sharing memories with their significant others as well as with each other. 

I smiled through happy tears. Seeing my grandchildren joyfully playing with their parent’s toys. Hearing my children cherish the wonders of their own personal museum finds in their long forgotten books, toys, party photos, notes and music. 

And while we avoid cleaning our closets because we don’t want to dig up our past, maybe the lesson of closet archeology is revealing the joy buried under the dust. 

Monday, June 7, 2021

Time to Look Out the Window


A few things reappeared this last week, small things, really. So small, I guess that I didn’t even realize they had disappeared into this years covid mist. Let’s face it, life as we knew it vanished into days, weeks and months of the unknown. Life had to be arranged and rearranged around all these changes and, of course, it changed you and me and all of us. 

Is there an old me to reclaim? A new me to find? Or new mixed bag of me?

Time to find out. 

With all the pushing to produce, social media post, shop updates, virtual shows and shipping, I’ve gained a lot of new skills. I’m thankful for all the support of my art. I’m surprised I can, indeed, promote my own work. I’m glad I learned a new skill set. 

But I lost my old studio rhythm. Over the years, I’ve learned the hard way that clay cannot be rushed. Especially porcelain. I’ve learned to honor and work with it. While I threw and shaped it into bowls and cups, it shaped me, my days, my creative life and my studio schedule. 

Shifting into a new shape. Again. 

Covid definitely re-shaped my studio schedule and I spent many months longing for the old rhythm of my studio days. While I worked hard and got new shelves of new work done, it felt very different. Sometimes it was like driving during rush hour on the freeway, peddle to the metal and then, slamming on the brakes. 

Now post covid as things start to open, my studio feels more open, too. I find myself breathing in and sighing. I seem to be moving more slowly and softly as I feel my way back to my clay.

Sitting here now looking out the window, I realize I’m seeing things again. Things I forgot all about. Things I didn’t even realize I missed until now. 

I see a sweet face in the tree leaves. A bird shape in the clouds. The blue sky shaped around the white cloud edges forms a sleeping animal. Even closing my eyes to rest, I see the violet circle I used to meditate. It’s back.

Maybe that means I’m back too. And all I need to do is open up. Breathe. Let the questions float like the clouds outside the window. 

What wants to be seen? Created? Given shape?