Thursday, July 17, 2014

and love

Sometimes there is something about an old photo that draws me in.
As soon as I cropped this one, I knew what it was.
The light. The strong side light that is casting the faces into deep shadow. It may not seem the best light for taking a family photo but it sure is the best light for a painting.
I love strong light in paintings, especially water color paintings.
I think that because of that contrast of shadow and light, this picture would be wonderful even at a distance or in a dimly lit room. It's one of the reasons I love black and white photography. It becomes more about form and balance.
There's something else though that I can't help notice.
It's almost tangible.
The message that the body language adds.
My father is looking completely relaxed.
My sister is perched on his knee, her little hand just resting on his.
There is something so free and yet so safe about their posture.
My mother is turned slightly to face the photographer.
All the better to show off her tiny girl.
The baby is leaning forward as though yearning to stand on her own.
There is happiness in this photo, and pride.
And love.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

summer dress-up

Some summer dress-up for my grandchildren.
Pink handkerchief print for the girls.
Peasant dresses again.
I just can't get enough of sewing these.
And a tie for my grandson.
A fish tie with the days catch.

the title

Here is a picture of my sister dancing the limbo.
Or is she trying to catch her shadow?
The amazing thing to me about this photo, is that she is all alone.
No big sisters and brother.
That was apparently her big concern as well.
She didn't want to be all alone.
She wondered where her big sisters and brothers were when they flew the coop for school and play and she was left behind.
She wanted company.
I owe my very existence to her.
If she had been an independent thinker, she'd have held the title of youngest forever.
Instead, she enjoyed a brief reign as youngest, before I came and seized the title.

same summer sun

These little girls of summer are my big sisters. The oldest is happily holding an armload of carrots. She is clearly thrilled with helping. Thrilled with being photographed. Thrilled with the warm summer sunshine and the armful of surprising goodness from the damp garden soil. Isn't there just so much there to thrill a child? The attention of a parent. Pride at being allowed to help. Summer sunshine. Dirt. Something sweet to eat......
My big sisters are really just a year apart in age but because of where their birthdays fall in the year, the oldest had likely just turned three, the younger, twenty months. Soon two. Children who are Soon Two notice things. Details matter. True to form, the toddler is closely inspecting the carrot. She is probably wondering things. Things about dirt and about carrots.
When I look at this picture I am warmed by that same summer sun.  I can smell the dark, damp dirt still clinging to the carrots and feel their scratchy leaves. And summer is all around.

but by the seeds

 "Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."
Robert Louis Stevenson


Pictures of me as a child are scarce as hen's teeth. It's a hazard of being last born I guess. By then my mother had run out of time and inclination and more importantly, run out of film.
I'm guessing that this picture was taken late in 1959. I am probably almost two.
I've talked about this picture before but I cropped it this time. It makes it seem like a completely different picture.
I'm quite taken with my little dress. The layered look would actually be quite at home in 2014. I wonder if my mother or grandmother sewed it?
And the fabric in my sisters perfectly lovely.
I've always been enamored with fabric prints. They are pieces of artwork.  Art walking about. 
The doll my sister's clutching is one of those wondrous toys that live at grandparents houses. Toys that have absorbed the love of a generation or two.
How diplomatic and wise of my grandmother to have two old dollies. It's hard to share babies. Even King Solomon knew that.
I seem to be counting toes on the doll in my lap.
"This little piggy went to market...."
I have obediently gazed at the photographer but as usual, I see nothing to smile about.
I've been interrupted after all.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

when I remember

Do your remember Jelly Shoes and Jelly Bracelets? Neon and glitter? Huge hair bows? Big baggy sweat tops and perms gone wrong? That was the 80's. I had two little girls then and I'm sure they remember all of those things, some with a wistful sigh and some with a shudder.
I was a child in the sixties.
We wore lime green fishnet stockings, the Wet Look shoes, and pedal pushers and pop tops. Not all at the same time of course. I think pedal pushers have a fifties sound to them but then, I grew up in Blue River, that town time forgot.
I remember getting a pair of red shorts and a pop top the year I was six. The shorts had a wonderful pom pom fringe around the bottom edge and the top was printed with red tulips.  I loved that set. Of course, my mother, practically minded as she was, bought me clothes to grow into and so that first summer, the summer I was six, my pop top didn't really pop. It lapped modestly over the top of my shorts. My baggy red shorts.
The next summer, the top had crept a smidge higher and the fabric had softened nicely.
I think the top had a fringe around the bottom edge too and by the next summer, it was just brushing the waistband of my shorts.
By the next summer, my pop top was at last a genuine pop top.
I'd shot up but not out, just as my mother suspected I would.
I never grew out of that set.
I wore it out.
I imagine that's why I can remember it still.
It's what I see myself wearing when I remember summer.