Casey's and Sloane's Blog
It is a well-known fact that when you are under-the-weather you can look a little homeless.
This past Tuesday, after being at a local cancer center for a family visit for a little over four hours, I stopped and picked up a sandwich at a place where I have eaten for years and years before returning to my work. Early that evening, it was all I could point to that could be possibly making me feel pretty yucky in the lower regions, besides a slice of banana bread at 7am.
By the next morning, I was spent. All signs pointed to a “little food poisoning”, of which there is another well-known fact that “little” has no point in that description. I steadied myself enough to take a shower and head on into work, where I lasted ten whole minutes. I aborted my mission, canceled two imperative meetings, and drove myself back home. Slowly.
To digress: On my drive to work, I had phoned my sister and told her of the night’s excitements. She listened, she told me to stay home, and we hung up. Since she was my sister, I had regaled her with details about exit strategies my body had available and my thankfulness that only one had been utilized. I was yet to be visited by a quick and high fever, so I we didn’t talk about that.
When I arrived at work, she handed me this amazing flower in a wine bottle. True beauty, that flower. She told me I looked like I had been as busy as I had said and that she still thought I should head home. I glared at her with eyes that reminded her that I was the boss of me, not her. Then I cancelled my meetings, grabbed all my things and my wine bottle friend, and said goodbye. By then, leaving was entirely my idea, not hers. See the difference?
The rest of that day, while I battled my sheets and a fever that slightly scared my husband, I carried that hydrangea from room to room with me, but mostly we resided in the bedroom. It stayed upright. Me? Not so much. I would occasionally find myself begging for mercy, but it was all mostly calming down and I was sleeping.
Slow and steady won the race, and I was back at work on Thursday at the meetings I had moved. Rip-roaring and ready to go; that was me. Lie. I moved tenderly and precisely as I relearned my body and her edges.
I had left the flower at home, which was actually hard to do. This sucker is huge and beautiful, and it saw me through a day like no other in the last ten years. I don’t do sick, but I know I looked homeless carrying a wine bottle stuffed with a perfect flower with me for a whole day. It’s a pure certainty.
More lies: That first sentence should also lose the word “little”. You look homeless, plain and simple.
Truth: I mean no disrespect to any homeless people anywhere. Ever.
We are excited to launch a series of blogs about the creative people we represent.
The 10 Questions for Artists, Creators and Inventors Series will feature ten questions – chosen by our employee team. The ten answers have been written by the artists, creators and/or inventors who make the work we proudly sell. We have included a photo of the featured person, supplied by them, and a few images of their work currently available at our store.
10 Questions for Amy Meya: Ceramic Artist
1. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
From the time we first worked with clay in elementary school I told my mom: “if I could just be in a room with lots of windows and work with clay all day, my life would be fulfilled”, she said “yeah, well, that is a nice dream”. Dreams can come true!
2. Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
When my first son was only a few months old NCECA, the ceramics arts conference was here in KC, one of my best friends, Angela, and I took him to all the galleries to see the work. The following year Angela and I decided to do all the gallery shows again, this time the conference was in San Diego, my sister was living there, so we had a free place to crash. We took my then one year old with us and went to all the gallery shows, he must have picked up on all our ooooohhhing and aaahhhhing, when we walked into the 6th or so gallery he pointed to a large red platter hanging on the wall and said “oh, wow!” These were his first two words strung together. That moment inspires me.
3. What’s your favorite book or movie of all time and why did it speak to you so much?
One of my favorite movies of all time is “Mr. Mom”, my sisters and I would watch this over and over, we could quote it the entire way through. I love this movie for so many reasons, but now, (I re-watched it when it came out on Netflix) I love it because it is a movie that demonstrates that staying home with kids is also a full time job and families need to figure out a work/home balance.
4. What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?
The “Nature Island” Dominica in the West Indies. Rainbows everyday, waterfalls, black sand beaches, steep mountains and a thick lush rain forest. Heaven on earth!
5. What’s your favorite smell in the whole world?
6. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
I can’t pick just one, I have a deep seated wanderlust. Lately I have been wanting to go to New Zealand and Thailand, and Indonesia, I guess generally Southeast Asia. Also, South America, I would love to go to Peru and Argentina.
7. Which fictional character do you wish you could meet?
Here I go again dating myself, but Indiana Jones.
8. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Work on your goals everyday, even if it is only a little bit some days, just do something to move yourself toward your goals because it all adds up in the end.
9. Cake or pie?
Definitely pie, sweet potato pie that isn’t sweet, a more savory pie spiced with lots of rich favors.
10. What is your dream project?
My dream, and current goal, is to figure out a way to work in the Caribbean for four months out of the year, the extremely cold four months to be exact.
– Amy Meya, September 2016
We hope you enjoy this new series. Stay tuned for more. Pursue good stuff…
I haven’t posted to our blog for a long time. If you follow our blog you may have noticed or maybe, if I am lucky, you didn’t. I left you in very good hands. My sister, Sloane, has been keeping our blog well tended with her lovely writing and unique point of view.
I have been overwhelmed. I don’t feel pressured to have an excuse. I am just ready to write it down and share it. Life has been challenging for me. I am no different than most of the people I know. Everyone is busy living fast and furious it seems. And, sometimes circumstances can knock you on your ass for awhile. That is what happened to me.
When I have challenges that I cannot change, or I am not in the position to change, I rage against my impotence. I am conditioned to my high energy “get it done” personality. So when it is ineffective in a situation I burn ruts in the ground just trying to move something, anything, forward.
I could not change the hurdles that were placed before me this past year. I flailed about grabbing for something to change. My frustrations finally landed on my home. As time marched on I became laser focused on everything wrong with my property. I fed my pain by blaming myself for my inability to find the time and energy to get any projects done. Top of my list was my yard and gardens.
I would drive up my drive and say to myself, “See those weeds and those overgrown vines, do you see them? You are right, your life is awful. Why can’t you get your shit together? Look at your yard. It’s a mess.” You see, that is what I do when I feel helpless, I beat myself up.
I felt so overwhelmed. I began fantasizing about selling my home and moving into a small apartment with no yard, where everything was brand new and I lived on the 130th floor where nobody could find me. I appetite to run away from home was insatiable.
I was advised to sit still and let time help me get to the other side. I wanted to scream. Sit still? Screw that! There are things that must be done. Can you not see the weeds in my yard? I am being covered by weeds Why can’t you see the weeds? Doesn’t anyone see the weeds? I have to pull the weeds.
It was grim.
A few weeks ago, I took this photo with my phone one morning when I was impatiently waiting for my daughter to get out the front door.
This beautiful vignette of my courtyard. I started pulling the image up on my phone to view it randomly. I found it captivating. I wanted to know why I couldn’t avoid sneaking a peek at it a couple times a day. It soothed me.
There was that vine that had slowly and patiently, over the entire summer, crawled it’s way from behind a big planter squeezed against my fence, climbed over two plants, around a metal sculpture and was reaching down to the ground to find it’s footing. It is beautiful.
It began to validate me. I realized I was like that vine. I just need to give myself time to find my way.
I am now pulling a handful of the weeds each day. I am going slowly.
I seldom have my phone in my hand. I do not enter stores – even the grocery store – without my handbag. In that handbag is my wallet, phone, keys, and too much more. I like a “hands free” existence, although lugging around my beautiful handbag can get old. Heavy, physically and emotionally. Technically, it’s on my shoulder, so, therefore, I am “hands free”.
For years and years, I took photos on a camera. A Canon PowerShot. I made sure I had it with me for daily life and special events. I have carried it in my evening bags along with only cash for tips, my reading glasses, and Chapstick when attending charity events. At one such event, one of my cool, hip, young friends said, “Look, an old-fashioned camera.” It didn’t phase me, and all my photos came out nice and crisp. I still carry the camera every day, and it might just be a lifetime member of the “too much more” referred to in paragraph one.
Lately, it sees little use, as the lens on my phone has become better and better. Or I have become so at taking photos, which is highly doubtful.
However, I refuse to hold my phone in my hand, and I have lately taken to stopping and digging for it when I want to take a photo. Usually I am with other people and talking while strolling, and I want to stay “in the moment” with them. I register what I would like to photograph in my mind and wait for the conversation to find a resting spot, and then, excusing myself, I walk back to what caught my eye. In museums, I wait until I have walked the entire exhibition and then ask a guard for permission, all while traipsing back through the show. Art is always worth the second look, especially when viewed in the opposite direction and against the flow.
I am not afraid of missing a shot, because I am not a professional photographer. I am, however, afraid of missing what’s right in front of me – my friends, my loves, curious strangers, the familiar, the unknown – because my face is buried in a screen and fidgeting with buttons and prompts.
This past August, I traveled to New York City and New Jersey for work. I was not alone, and my husband and sister made for delightful travel companions. Besides, our son had worked an internship on his campus in Hoboken over the summer, and he was my reward after two long summer months at home without him.
My phone stayed in my briefcase, and many times I was heard to say, “Just a minute. I want to take a picture.” My walking companions would linger while I sought what had been fleeting. Then, as a group, we moved on.
I liked it.
p.s. All these photographs were taken in August with my phone’s camera, the last photo captured with my son’s right arm built in selfie stick. Some were posted to STUFF’s Facebook page and some to my Instagram account. One of my favorites from the trip is on Instagram and is the first time I’ve every really tried to photograph neon at night. Look for it here.
A week ago, my husband and I puttered around one of my favorite places, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. There were several things I was itching to see, and the current show on Roman luxury was one of three inside the museum walls that was calling to me.
Near the end of our meanderings through the outstanding Luxury: Treasures of the Roman Empire exhibit, there was a great spot where the curators and museum staff provided little cards, pencils, and a spot to write what we thought luxury was in our lives. Now. Currently.
I wrote nothing down, because I wasn’t wanting to think that hard on that particular day. However, I read every piece on the large board. Handwritten tomes were held delicately to the fabric with satin ribbon. You just slid your thought in with the others and moved on with your life.
The musings of others ran from serious to humorous, insightful to flippant. I loved reading every word. These were my people on my planet in this epoch. This was important, as the Romans had proved in rooms right behind me.
The next morning, early, I realized exactly what I would have written: “freedom from alarm clocks”.
I was serious about it and found it very insightful.
p.s. Photo credits for the top three photos must go to Harl Van Deursen, who cracked up quietly at quite a few. The final photo belongs to me. I love the rays of daylight hitting the dusty bedside table.
p.p.s. I strongly recommend seeing the show at The Nelson. In addition, pop in and see the photo collections of Peter J. Cohen in Anonymous Art. Heck, while you’re at it, you can cry like I did at the new acquisition of Nick Cave’s Property. Wow.
In the past week, mediation has come up three times in casual conversation. Among women my age, with a new male friend much younger than me, with a customer at STUFF. We’ve consumed many minutes discussing apps with good “voices”, best time of day, and length of dedicated time. All of this and much more.
I have tried traditional meditation on and off. It’s neither that I don’t like the “voice” on the apps I’ve chosen nor that I can’t find my quiet. It’s that I don’t want to be led. So, I improvise and sit in the deep quiet of the room I dress in – which is also my home office – most mornings and listen. Eyes closed, I have been known to work down a list of people I keep taped to the inside of my eyelids. This list changes and is filled with people that I want to benefit from focused energy.
But my favorite mediation comes in the summer. In water where I can barely touch bottom, I lie on my back and float in deep pools of silence. And, again, I listen.
My heart speaks to me, and stress evaporates.
p.s. Three or four summers ago, I became transfixed with the form of my son under water. I possibly took several hundred photos of him in the ocean and in the Fairway Pool. The quote is mine, from a time in my life that was more challenging than others. A long time ago, water healed and protected me. It still does. A friend put the two pieces together, seen above, as a gift to me.
This is my new handbag. I love it. Very much.
Where the flak is launched from is Harl and Dakota, my husband and my son. They hear me kvetch about how much I hate the one I am hoping to replace, and they listen to me rave about the new one.
The last bag I carried was not my favorite. Ever. It was just holding a place for what I was really looking for. I have entered a phase of my life where a bag you just dump everything into is not going to work. As a grown woman, I look crazy when I am up to my elbows in my bag digging for a pen or my phone. I speak solely from experience and do not speak about other women; that would be poor form.
This bag is hand-crafted from reclaimed pieces of Afghani fabrics. A single comfortable leather handle. It hangs perfectly. It’s all wonderful and good. Currently perfect.
What’s the absolute best, however, is that it has two amazing pockets on the outside – one for the blasted phone and one for the lauded reading glasses. If that wasn’t enough to send me into convulsions of excitement, there are two more inside – one for my car keys and one for my Sharpie pens. Right at the top. Right where I need them to be. The rest of my existence can fall to the bottom.
I have caught many comments from the peanut gallery the past few days as I’ve entered into my new love affair. Dakota gives the bag “three months” before it becomes a loathed item. Harl, wisely, has tried to keep his mouth shut – “tried” being the key word.
p.s. The photo of the peanut gallery was taken a few nights ago on an outing. The photo of my new, fantastic bag was taken this morning while it rested easily in air-conditioned comfort in the front seat of my new, used car. To read more about that sweet ride, click here.
I am a Girl Scout. I will always be a Girl Scout. I am not a Troop Leader and am not in charge of a pack of young women.
Just this past weekend, I returned to the Girl Scout camp of my childhood and ran smack-dab into fantastic memories that were laced with the amazing women who were troop leaders and were in charge of packs of young women.
Girl Scouts is more than cookies. Girl Scouts is leadership training at its core. It is subtle and covert in its training, so as to not cause bucking from those who aren’t ready to be “trained”.
If you tell a ten year old they are being “trained”, they will most likely tell you “so long”. But if you cloak the training in figuring it out for yourself, for accounting for your actions, for calculating progress, for tracking efforts, and for showing others the ins and outs, you will end up with a young woman – and a grown woman – who can hold her own and has the ability to troubleshoot and succeed. And, most importantly, one who will find the lessons in a failure or set-back.
I was raised to believe that women and girls can do anything. I still believe that and pass it on to women far younger than me. If you say you can’t, then you’ve set yourself up for failure. If you say you will give it your best, you’re more than halfway there.
The young women who were my counselors at camp were most likely only five to ten years older than me. I talked to one a few days ago in the wilds of Missouri, and I vividly remember her. If I could find my Juniors book, her handwriting and counselor name (Snickers) would be in there.
I can only imagine it was written with a firm hand and in ink. Much like a yearbook, at the end of camp every summer you had your counselors sign your book. I thought these women hung the moon, and in two I can easily recall desiring to be just like them. Strong. Sure-footed. Fearless. A leader.
At ten, when I first went to camp, I was none of those four things. Well, OK, I was strong but tried to hide it. That comes with being taller than all your friends and therefore “bigger”.
I spent way too much time trying to blend in, look shorter, and be seen as weak. Crazy concepts to me now, but crystal clear in my mind.
I went to summer camp for only four summers. They have blended into one long summer in my memories, but the distinct differences in the four summers came screaming back to me when I stood under the very old oak trees a few days ago. Water Wonderful was one. Outback Adventures another. Two more that held my focus then but whose names escape me.
I have never shied away from saying I am a Girl Scout, and I never will. I was able to walk the hills and trails of the camp of my youth for her last day of seeing campers, having walked those same paths thirty-five years ago.
The camp I remember – Camp Oakledge – has changed hands, and the land will now be the responsibility of others. I can only hope that the new ownership has a few Girl Scouts in their midst who will know exactly how to leave the land better than they found it, a basic tenet of Girl Scouting.
p.s. Those boxes of Girl Scout cookies do change the lives of young women all over your city. They make strong, sure-footed, fearless young leaders and help fund all they wish to accomplish. You don’t have to eat the cookies, but I always recommend buying them.
There was a time, not long ago, when my 6′ 3″ son had to stand on tippy toes to see anything counter height. Food as I prepared it. Paperwork being looked at by my husband and me.
When he was five years old, and “knee high to a grasshopper” as my grandfather used to say, I stopped in to my second favorite store at the time, my own store being my first favorite. It was a clothing store that had been in Westport when we grew our business there, but it had moved to the Prairie Village shops not long after STUFF left Westport.
We were driving back from lunch with my father, and I thought we would just “bop in” for a quick look. My son was always delightful in shops and not a terror. I made a quick decision on a shirt and moved to the counter to pay. Nap time was approaching, and the clock was ticking to get home.
I will never forget him standing there mesmerized at the glass of a fully-lit vintage jewelry case. Quiet. Arms by his sides. Eyes bright. I took a moment to really watch him. He looked up at me with wide eyes and said, “Mom. I want to buy that for you,” in a voice that still burns me to remember.
On the bottom shelf was a double-strand turquoise, silver, and crystal necklace with a turquoise bead pendant. It was on the other side of a perfectly placed thread of red embroidery floss that delineated the items on sale from those that had yet to make the cut. This piece had made the cut.
The woman checking me out knew me and shopped at my store occasionally. She said, “What did he say?”
“He said he is going to buy that necklace for me.”
“Ahhhhhh…..How sweet.He obviously knows you like blue!”
We proceeded with the “how much” – with her asking him how much money he had, and with me buying it, and with her handing the gift-wrapped bag to him.
He beamed and glowed and gave me the greatest gift of waiting to fall asleep until we got home. Two hours in his own bed, not the car seat. Well, and that amazing necklace.
I loved that necklace to pieces. Two pieces, in fact. One day, earlier this year, it just gave out at the toggle. I was visited by this terrific memory and put the pieces in a Ziploc until I could deal with it without crying.
Near spring, I met with the artists at Hoop Dog Studio with my baggie in hand. I asked that the pieces be used to make a new piece. I wanted them to re-design it and use the beads any way they saw fit.
And now I have this. Gorgeous.
I am not the same woman I was when I was a young mother, and this new style fits me perfectly. One long strand and no symmetry.
I miss the little boy at the glass counter every day. Most mothers would give their left arms for little pieces of their children’s childhoods back. The day they reached for your hand and the sky was so blue and they didn’t let go. The night the sky was clear and they didn’t fuss once all the way through the midway at the State Fair. The day they stood up for themselves against odds. The high dive. The double dip that dripped on everything clutched in pudgy fingers.
Happy Mother’s Day.
p.s. No real, official research was done on which arm a mother would give for her children. I assumed left because the right arm is so useful.