Thursday, December 20, 2018

Gifts from my mom

The day before my mother died, some one randomly asked me if I was artistic all my life.  Did you always like art things, even when you were young like the elementary students?  I had never thought about it like that, because I don't remember anyone ever saying I was artistic.  But I do know that when I was in 4th grade my mom taught me how to draw horses and that was it.  That was a defining moment of that part of my life.  

This is my mother wishing I hadn't been given a camera! Lol

When I start thinking that through, there are several concepts that pop to my mind.  First of all, apparently my mom knew how to draw.  She was very creative, though she would never have said that out loud and she never defined herself as such.  I can see the proof of that as I think back through my childhood, when she was able to do things as she wished, she could transform a room, sew clothes, knit things, and even did hand photo coloring.  Her work was not displayed prominently, but if you knew where to look her subtle influence was everywhere, while my father's taste were loud and apparent. Second, if she took the time to show me how to draw that first horse, that means I apparently was interested in art.  I remember that I drew a lot, and I tell you it wasn't because of the series of (mostly) bad art teachers I had- but that is for a whole different post someday, or not. I know I practiced and practiced and got attention for it from my peers.  Then only a few years later, she gifted me with a camera.  

I can't imagine why she didnt want us sneaking up on her with a camera
My mom gave me so many gifts that I share with others.  Many of them  came to be through the luck of genetics and many were from the way she lived.  I know my gift of art was a combination of her and my dad.  They were both very gifted people in many ways, but when you spend a good part of your life with a lot of little kids and not a lot of money, you don't have the luxury of creating.  For my dad that came later in life and for my mom, it was sprinkled through out in tiny little pieces. She didn't have a lot to work with (money-wise)  but my mom shared the gift of time and teaching with me- I remember where I was and what she showed me so clearly and it opened up a whole new world. And so I learned to draw.

Mom and Dad and 

My mother didn't like having her picture taken, which is why there are not a lot of them for us to choose from as we begin this final stage of her life.  She took some of the pictures, of course, but when she got me a camera when I was about 12 years old, she usually managed to avoid being in them.***  I wonder if my mom had any idea how she opened up a new world to me when she gave me that little film camera?  It was one of those flat ones with the little bulbs on the top that had 4 sides?  I took so many pictures with it, most of them just bad snapshots, but once in a while I would get a good one and it would give me enough reinforcement to do more.  Plus she kept buying me film and flashbulbs when there wasn't a whole lot of money to spare..... so I started to learn how to take pictures.

Debi and mom and Rosie 

My mom really didn't like to cook all that much, but when  you have 4 little kids  within 5 years, that is what you end up doing.  She also had a variety of other people that she cooked for for various reasons, plus the farm house we lived in had plenty of room for all the relatives that descended on us on any given holiday or celebration, which we loved.   When I  showed interest in learning to cook you can bet that I got a cookbook for Christmas.  I believe the year before I had gotten not one but 2 Easy-Bake baking sets (note- not the oven, which I was a little irritated about, just the cooking sets- we used the big oven, which in retrospect was fine) and thanks to Uncle David for stealing my moms thunder on Christmas Eve, when he gave me the same exact set that mom had  under the tree for me.  Whoops.  I was thrilled to get the second one, let me tell you.  My mom stepped back after making sure I wouldn't burn myself or the house down and let me at it.  Other having ingredients on hand, she rarely intervened.  I was allowed free range of the kitchen.  Eventually it was not only encouraged but expected, but that is how we worked together on things.  Idk what the rest of those deadbeats (lol) did while I was cooking, but they at least had to help with the dishes. She encouraged me to experiment, to try things and rarely did anyone complain.  My mom always was in the background if I needed help and bailed me out more than once...  She might have gotten mad, but I sure don't remember that.  I was free to try.  And I learned to cook.

My mom took care of many, many people. The farm house had a bathroom on the first floor, which was not the case in many houses back in the day, she helped rehab a lot of people.  She also didn't have a job outside the home, which also was not unusual.  My mom was raised by very loving and giving parents, and so she continued that legacy.  She cared for my Grandma Kutz with diabetes at times, a few of my uncles,  later in life my dad, fed a great uncle and his son for 2 years when that uncle lost his wife.  She did so much for them, and I never really felt resentment in her.  I know she got exasperated and annoyed, especially with my grandma, her mother-in-law, but she never really complained.  She opened the house to her parents who at times would stay for a few weeks during corn picking time when Grandpa Oberley would drive the corn truck.  So many people, and it just seemed normal, it was fun for us kids.  I loved having people around then, they were so interesting and I knew they loved me. My mom made everything seem so normal and easy... And I learned to give myself to others.

July 27. 1957
As I mentioned above, we were for the most part, the party givers at our house.  I am not positive how my mom felt about this on any given day, but my dad loved having relatives around.  Our farm house was the family house, where my dad's brothers and sisters grew up and it was pretty big.  And so with a huge living room, dining room and kitchen it was the logical location for get togethers.  I have so many many memories of these parties.  We would have food cooking on the stove, the aunties would bring in the pies and salads and we would store things on the counters, on top of the washer and dryer, in the fridge and out on the steps in the unheated garage.  Little kids were running around and when we got a little older, my sister and I would do "fancy" things and serve people trays of snacks and such.  Again my mom let us do this, bought the things we needed, allowed us our chance to try new things, while she worked in the background making turkey or ham or whatever else needed to be done.  She was so good at orchestrating those meals.   I remember sitting in the kitchen after dinner, listening to mom and my aunties talk, going into the living room to find an uncle to sit by and get hugged, playing with my cousins, surrounded with love.  And I learned how I fit in.

We had a huge garden when growing up, something my dad took particular pride in, and I know my mom was not all that thrilled with.  However, we grew the food, mom got us out in the garden early in the morning before it got too hot to weed it and keep our dad from yelling at us.  She had us all pitch in at least part of the time with the canning and freezing of all this, and while we complained we helped any way. It was a pain, but we would shuck corn or snap beans or dig potatoes and talk and laugh and work together.  My mom kept us after it. We were always hoping she didn't choose us to go into the basement where the potatoes were stored and stick out hands into that dark metal bin.  After we grew up, there was very little garden and I know that she was happy not to ever can again, but putting food up - as they say- is a memory that runs through my childhood.  And I learned about persistence.

My  mom and my favorite kitty

I was admittedly not a very pleasant teenager- in the morning particularly.  I know I was ornery as hell, and I knew that my mom sort of ignored me most of the time when I was like that.  But she tried to get us up for school in a variety of ways that included sending the border collie in to wake us up, which was awesome- and she would some days she would put her head in the door and say the dreaded words: Rise and Shine.  I hated getting woken up by that phrase.  I wonder if she did it to bug the crap out of me, or if she was trying to be positive.  I can respect both of those reasons, really. I am sure that I was not kind to my mother when I was between the ages of 14 and 18, those mornings were horrible, I just didn't want to interact -ever- until after like 9 am.  But having so much experience with teenagers now, I understand what my problem was- I was a teenager.  Years later, when I had kids- not once did she wish a child just like me on me, or roll her eyes at me or anything. She would listen patiently to all the things I wanted to complain about and I loved her for it  I talked to my mom every weekend for at least 30 years. She took my good with my bad and I always knew I could tell her everything.  And I learned about love.

Ella and grandmas
The last time I saw my mom she was very confused but she still knew me.  At least for a while- she got mixed up later and thought I worked there, but as I was leaving I told her that I was afraid  that she wouldn't know who I was.  She looked into my eyes and told me Debi, I will always know you.

I posted a couple of photos on Facebook and am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from all. I so so appreciate all of your thoughts for me and us.  They are overwhelmingly touching.  The comments from some of my former students affected me the most. My high school students that were with me for one semester or 4 years - all of them are special to me.  I love them unconditionally, I know that they are good people who just need to be accepted.  I know that they needed to not be asked to change who they are,  they just need to be encouraged to be the good person they are meant to be.  Even when they were difficult, they didn't mean to be hurtful.  They just needed someone to listen and teach and encourage, and they turned into wonderful adults.....  And that is how I pass what I have learned  from my mom along to others who need me the most.

If you know anything about me, you know that I do love my presents.  When I look back at the gifts I have gotten from my mom, I don't know how I could do anything else other than anticipate more. From a little camera and a drawing lesson, to experiencing the gift of unconditional love, the presents I have gotten from my mother are some of the most precious of all. 

*** I want to say if you do that- avoid the camera because you are "shy" or don't like the way you look or what have you- quit that.  Relax and smile and let your loved ones have pictures- they love you for you.  Not if your clothes look a certain way or whatever- no one important will care. Not a comment against my mom, I have known enough people who regret not getting more pictures of a loved one who "didn't like it".   You still have a chance- do it

Monday, December 17, 2018

Travels with Debi: Last Day in London

I left this post unfinished for a few months, life has a way of evolving into things that you so totally don't expect. I have experienced some of these things- some totally amazing :)  and some very sad.  Undoubtedly you will hear more.  But for now, a finish to my trip....
Dingoes in the house!  

The huge greenhouse with some amazing plants.
As I finish off my travel stories, I have to say this was one of the most delightful and at the same time terrifying times of my life.  Lol. I wish I wasn't so tentative, but on the other hand, that doesn't stop me from doing much of anything.  My sanity just suffers for it.

Inside the greenhouse, I believe this is the palm house
And this, boys and girls, is where chocolate comes from
This last day in London involved a super side trip to a marvelous garden called Kew Gardens.  This place is HUGE and we barely got through a third of it I bet.  It was spectacular- the buildings, the gardens, the grounds....  but it did get pretty hot that day- well into the 80's.  Made going into the succulent and desert gardens a bit challenging, but it was all worth it.

I am pretty sure these are lotus blossoms
Part of the Princess of Wales conservatory collection
I love seeing these! A type of water lily I believe
I didn't take a lot of photos here, I really was enjoying my time, plus the sun was so strong the exposure was tricky.  That is ok, it was a wonderful day. Traveling to Kew on the train system was a training experience for me- if you remember from a previous post, I had to take the Tube for an hour to get to the airport....
Serious Japanese maple envy 

The greenhouses were spectacular, as were the grounds.  That is one of those places that I need to back and see again- so much of London I didn't get to experience.

Those roses, though

I wish I had taken more time photographing this

Loved the little vignettes that were everywhere

I regret not writing this post closer to June, but that is me.  I am a procrastinator.  but hey, at least I got my calendars done in plenty of time this year.  And didn't pull any bonehead moves like having it printed with white numbers on a white background.  That I don't even know how it happened, other than I fiddled around with things a lot last year...  I started downloading pictures way way earlier for this one, and paid attention to such things.  Goodness.  I might have a couple "art" calendars left and possible one abandoned house one, so if anyone wants one, let me know.

I can not begin to thank my hosts enough for the amazing trip I had back in June.  I think of it often, and when they post on facebook or Instagram I relive those moments again.  And I am so ready for more travels and I know that I can do any form of transportation I need thanks to the help from my dear friends, Anne-Sophie, Mark and Jonny.  They hold special places in my heart.  

Conquer your fears and find your joy.  Be brave, be ferocious, give it your all and give up control.  Life will give you those unexpected joys when you stop trying to direct it in any one direction....  if you stop trying to control your journey, you just might get where you always wanted to be.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Travels with Debi: Let's see even more of London!

Back to London!  After a few months, things have gotten murky for me, especially since it wasn't all clear what I did when I was there!  

Saturday and Sunday were devoted to getting around to more parts of the city.  I actually am having to consult my phone photos to remind myself where I had gone, since the phone puts location tags on the pictures.  After a nice little breakfast each day, we packed a little food (or bought a little when out) and went on our way around the city.  Seriously, I know we went on the Tube, I know we ended up seeing many things including a big protest against Brexit, I got to another museum and other amazing things, but it is such a blur.  I will try to tidy this  post up into 2 separate days, instead of mashing it all into one incoherent mess.  Incoherent seems to be my mode of operation these days.
My view from the Thames (whilst on the ferry)

In front of the National Gallery
Street Artist

Saturday:  This was really fun because we got to walk through all sorts of places, walked through Picadilly Circus, saw so many double decker busses and arrived the National Gallery, and there are some FABULOUS things at that museum as well.  We were all over the place, I know I saw Big Ben from afar, which is covered for the most part with scaffolding, but meh.  Whatever.  That didn't faze me in the least.  We went shopping at a really cool department store  (Liberty) and I was wowed by some really amazing items for sale.  Mark and I were poring over all the beautiful Persian rugs and of course we both honed in on this GORGEOUS one that was so finely woven with silk and it was some crazy amount of money like 12,000 pounds....  and it was divine and it was of course the most expensive one we saw....  what can I say? We have excellent taste.  In many areas of life!  ;)

Lovely fabrics 

This was a fun little display!

A nice alley we walked through

I loved seeing odd little vignettes like this

Beatles- of course
Picadilly circus

Double decker!

The National Gallery had some stunning paintings - from works by Vermeer to Van Gogh and Rubens to Cezanne.  And the building itself was breathtakingly beautiful. The architecture in this city is generally amazing.  So different from the US, so much character and history in much of it, with sprinkling of more modern and shiny/glassy sorts.

Inside the National Gallery

The Ambassadors by Hans Holbein the Younger
Van Gogh's Chair

Degas pastel

Hillside in Provence, Cezanne- one of my favorite artists

LOVE all the marble

After shopping and walking and museum-touring we headed back to the apartment, after a stop at their grocery store called Waitrose.  This place was pretty fun- interesting to see the foods there.  I was told it was sort of like Whole Foods.  The evening was then spent have "nibbles" and Sangria in the exquisite company of Mark, Jonny and Lucia.  Lucia is a friend of theirs who I met on their last journey to the US last year.  Lucia and I hit it off really fast and we had SO much fun catching up.  That was truly a magical evening that I don't think will be matched for a while.  Maybe next summer.
I packed these bad boys all the way home
Marksie taking pictures of us taking a pic of him. :)

All the sangria and such.

SUCH good food

What a great night
We had a great night

Add caption

Here we are!

Taking pictures of Mark taking pictures

The drinks were so good and the appetizers she brought were just divine.  I had the most wonderful time in that beautiful little garden with the most delightful company.


Sunday The Mad Art teacher got more training in the Tube travel and we headed on down to start at Canary Wharf.

Dingos at the station :)

Tower Hamlets

So this Conservatory, for lack of a better word, was somewhere down by Canary Wharf.  It is getting too late in the day to pester Jonny and Mark to find out where it was.  It was very lovely, but according to our resident horticulturist, some parts were not properly taken care of.....  But it was nice to see.

Sunday was the day we went down to Canary Wharf (where we saw a really nice garden/greenhouse in Tower Hamlets)  and then took the Thames Clipper down to a place called the Embankment.  While traveling down the Thames I got to see all those buildings with the creative names, plus old places, and even London Bridge.  

Looking down the Thames
Marksie!  <3

We also then got to see Cleopatra's Needle along with a host of other things that I can't even begin to recall.  But I have photos of a lot of it.  :)  

Cleopatra's Needle

Sunday evening I took my dear hosts out for dinner at a super nice little Italian restaurant- Carluccios.    It is apparently a small chain there and it was good!  A few of us had wine, some really delightful food and then some of the best desserts that I have ever had in my life.  Good, well-made, dessert, not the nasty overly sweet ick that passes for dessert here.  We each ordered something different and then shared.  It was just heavenly.

Pretty little place

See the photo below for my meal here- which was delish 

Monday gets it's own post as we spent the day at Kew Gardens....  another spectacular way to spend a day.  I wanted an art and gardens visit and I got that and more during that 5 days.  I can't begin to tell all the stories and places we stopped at and looked into or little alleys we walked through or streets we crossed and at one point almost got run over!  OY!  Lol.

Down the Thames

The pictures help, but really it is an overall feeling of warmth and smiling and joy that I remember the most.  And of course  that is all because of my two favorite people who live in the center of London.  On to the next post.