Tag Archives: memories

Update #2

Do Ho Suh. Staircase III

Do Ho Suh. Staircase III

Vagabonding continues.

Of course I got a cold the day before I moved out three weeks ago. Sniffle and cough all day Friday and Saturday, but alas, I did it with the help from many. What great friends I have! I could never have done any of this without their love and support. For now, I’m comfortable in a beautiful, art-filled home that I share with one of my colleagues and her husband and we’re having FUN!!! These past few weeks have been a precious time for our friendship to deepen. We have confessed denial about the fact that I’ll be leaving soon. I’ve been grocery shopping at their neighborhood Sprouts and it feels like I’m in a whole new city! By the time I understand this neighborhood’s restaurants and shops it will be time to move on . . .

Simultaneously with my adventures are the adventures of my daughter who graduated from college last week! Soon, she will also be moving to a new city. Her life of school projects and part-time work is beginning to transition into interviews and apartment searches; a new beginning for both of us. We have our fingers crossed that she will find a small apartment that I can share with her for about 6 weeks, before I leave the country for Istanbul.

My current school year is winding down. Our Senior class will graduate next week. These sweet kids were in first grade when I started teaching at this school. I’ve watched them grow up into beautiful, young adults. Interviews are taking place in the art department as our Head is searching for my replacement. I only have a few weeks left of a wonderful teaching career in this place. As I reminisce, I am thankful.

I’ll be moving to vagabond location #2 next week after one more garage sale at another friend’s home. I was ready to set my few, remaining household items out for bulk trash, but she swept everything up and took it to her home, confident it would sell in her neighborhood’s community garage sale next weekend. It sure won’t hurt to have a few more dollars in my pocket.

I’m working daily to close down, or temporarily suspend, my American life. This means banking accounts, final doctor and dentist appointments, utility refunds, updating my Will, meetings with my accountant, address changes, the selling of my car, communications with insurance groups, investment groups and financial planners. There’s a lot to do! Even so, I’m still excited! What an adventure this will be.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Scraps of Paper and Peppers in a Jar

cannedPeppersHolding memories.

I’m so grateful that the hours of daily research to find an overseas teaching position has come to a halt. The urgency of filling out paperwork for my new school has been taken care of, at least for the time being. Inspections and appraisals have happened and there is no reason to think that the sale of my home won’t go through.  I’ve spent the last few days going through the remaining objects of my life and trying to determine what to do with them. There are four categories: 1) Take to Istanbul, 2) Give to my daughter, 3) Sell/Give away, 4) Save for my grandchildren.

Since beginning my blog a year ago, I’ve sold and given away many, many things . . . a lifetime of things. I’ve challenged myself to get as close to ground zero as possible with my material possessions. What’s left doesn’t take up much physical space but the memories these things hold are as big as the Grand Canyon. There’s only four weeks left until I move out of my house. My daughter and her boyfriend are coming to Dallas for a week that will extend over two weekends. That means I really only have two weeks to finish up dealing with these last few things. In realizing this, I became paralyzed.

Because she told me she wanted to help when I got to this point, I called a sweet friend over to help me make these final decisions. Post-it-Notes and colored tape helped us get through my entire kitchen. We titled two narrow, kitchen drawers, “IST” and these items will go with me to Turkey. All that I will use in my kitchen during the next four weeks is now housed in two, small kitchen cabinets.

In handling these last objects, the oddest things would stop me in my tracks. A 30 year old recipe on a gravy-stained, grease soaked scrap of paper caused a flood of memories to come rushing at me. When I picked up the card called, “Mom’s Stuffing” I remember the Thanksgiving Day, at least 25 years ago, that I followed my Mom around her kitchen measuring out all the ingredients. She never used measurements. She’d made dressing for years and knew how to do it by heart. She couldn’t tell me how to make it, so, as she grabbed the ingredients, I made her stop and measure, and I wrote them down. I put this card in the “Give to my daughter” box but I might end up moving it to the “Save for my grandchildren” box. Another stained sheet of notebook paper held the beautiful handwriting of my Aunt Sue. Her recipes for Crème Mints and Frozen Banana Punch were used to make treats for every bridal shower or baby shower on that side of the family. How is it that we humans become so emotionally attached to scraps of paper? A jar of home-canned hot peppers has set on my kitchen counter for seven years. The Kerr sealed jar not only holds the juices, seeds and peppers of the last garden my Mom and Dad ever had, it holds a lifetime of memories of my family’s annual vegetable gardens and breaking beans in the driveway of my childhood home in Missouri. These family memories are happy and simple; long before my Dad fell ill with Alzheimers.

It’s hard!!! This is why people don’t deal with their crap! It is emotionally draining and difficult. It’s much easier to keep these scraps of paper hidden amongst new cookbooks and stacks of dishes. Memories. They exist in deep caverns and down long hallways of our minds. Memories are important, but as my friend suggested, wouldn’t it be just as powerful to take a digital photo of these things and make a list of these special objects and memories and just read the list from time to time? I have to believe so as I continue to fill boxes.

Next: bedroom closet . . .

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Memories as catalyst

Movie Theater © Edward Hopper

Let’s go to the movies.

My earliest memory of going to the movies is of a drive-in theater in Shawnee, Kansas, near Kansas City, Missouri where I was born. My mom would thoughtfully pack a red and black plaid picnic bag full of snacks, although once there, my brother and I would beg our dad to walk us down, over the humps of concrete and gravel to the drive-in cafe to buy burgers and fries. My dad skillfully built a custom platform that would sit in the floorboard, behind the front seats, and in front of the back seats, of their green, 1964 Pontiac. This well-crafted innovation was a “make-shift” playground for my brother and I to play in or to use when we got tired of the movies and wanted to lay quietly, looking out the windows at the stars and eventually fall asleep.

I still laugh at a story my former husband always told of going to a rural drive-in theater, on a double date, with his high school sweetheart in Monroeville, Ohio. That drive-in backed up to a sheep farm and, during the film, a mischievous teenager cut the fence wire that separated the farm from the drive-in. Within minutes, while everyone was engrossed in the movie, or in romantic escapades, hundreds of sheep came up beside the cars bleeting “baaa….baaa” and carloads of movie goers were startled and laughing as the herd quickly spread through the rows of cars! Some people were so shocked they started their cars and drove off without first taking the speaker off the car window!

My memories of old cinemas go back to my junior high school days. On weekends, one of my favorite things to do was meet up with friends at the old Ozark Theater in Ozark, Missouri.  It was a run-down old place on the south side of the square that we all called the Rat-Trap. I remember buying big bags of popcorn for fifteen cents and being thrilled to sit next to the boy I had a crush on. Not only was I recently reminded that I received my first kiss there on the worn out velvet seats, but afterward I went home and threw up out of nervousness. My sweet friend, Debby, remembers worrying that she might get pregnant after kissing her first sweetheart there.

School Arts magazine coverSince then, I’ve always noticed old cinema buildings and drive-in theaters as I’ve driven throughout Texas, my home for the last twenty-seven years. The unique charm of their facades and the beautifully shaped marquees always capture my attention. These memories sat in the back of my brain’s file cabinet for years before I was able to apply them to a successful high school project that was recently featured in the April 2012 issue of School Arts, a professional art education magazine.

As the article explains, I was visiting a new friend’s home and quickly realized they were art collectors. One of my favorite sculptural relief pieces was by Dallas artist, Jon Flaming.  Flaming’s love of Texas is evident in his landscapes and rural settings, and it was precisely when I saw his piece, “Nehi Bottling, Deep Ellum” that, in a moment’s flashing, I knew I’d found the project to apply my collected memories of “vintage cinemas” to. I invite you to read the article, which explains the project in detail, and see if you can apply it to a project of your own. For my readers who are interested in old Texas theaters, I used the fabulous website called Texas Escapes. Be careful, though; you can get lost in it for hours!

Maybe you, too, have an interest in old cinemas, but perhaps you have a fond memory of old gas stations, old courthouses, old bridges or water towers. Stand in the quiet, perhaps after a yoga practice and think back to fond memories that you can build a project around. Make a list. What are you interested in? Pack a picnic, go to a park and lay down in the fresh, green spring grass. Look up towards the heavens and let your mind drift. Think back to childhood things. Remember what you loved. Is there a way to bring it to life through your teaching? I think the reason my students get so excited about their projects is because I’m excited about them, as so many of them have to do with me! As my colleagues always say, “As artist-teachers, we give our best ideas away to our students.” Through these projects I tell stories about me; things I experienced when I was their age, and they listen and laugh at how times have certainly changed.

What are your favorite memories from childhood? Let’s create a project around them!

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A doll collection and a phone call

There are two memories; each is vague.

The first one involves a five-shelf bookcase my dad built for me and painted olive green when I was a young girl. I carefully placed my mail-ordered set of “dolls from around the world” on the third shelf. They were arranged in a way that each could be seen wearing their native costumes. I loved “Japan” and “Scotland” best and they were positioned near the front.

The other memory is of a phone call I took, on our party line, from The Peace Corp., when I was probably a junior in high school. I was fascinated to learn how I could live and work in various countries around the world, for I had never considered such a thing. I remember speaking of the call only one time to my family. Their reaction wasn’t demanding or authoritative; it was simply nothing, null and void. I never thought about it again.

Well, I did end up thinking about it again, but only after 30 years had passed.

This was after I quit playing games. It was after I lost my interest in being successful and collecting possessions. It was after the decline and fall of a marriage or two, and a change of careers. It was after I found my voice again.

In time, these two distant memories made their way back to me and I wondered if I’d known all along, in deep recesses of my soul, that I needed to travel and experience other cultures. As I look back over my life, I am grateful, even for the sad chapters, because without those experiences I wouldn’t be where I am today. And today, I’m getting ready to change my life, one more time.

Do you have an early childhood memory that forecasted your future? Send me a comment!

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