Casey's and Sloane's Blog

Surprise

Several weeks ago I attended a charity event. The theme was elusive and when I asked around about what to wear, I was told “something sparkly” and “glittery”.

Easy. Black dress and whatever I owned in the way of rhinestone and crystal jewelry. The more, the merrier.

It was the final touch that I sensed I didn’t own. My clutches can run to bright colors but not sparkle, leather not beads.

As I cursed my way to the bottom of the drawer that holds my handbags lamenting my bad fortune and forgetting just briefly how darn lucky I am to get to attend terrific parties, I happened upon this little number. I didn’t remember inheriting it from my grandmother. It was simply perfect. Fully beaded in subdued black beads – some matte finish and some polished – it was going to be my co-pilot in charge of cell phone, credit card and Chapstick! It even sports a twisted silk strap, which I left curled inside.

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Posted in Celebrations, Family, Fashion | 8 Comments

Pumpkin Spice

Truth: I do not like pumpkin spice anything. Except I do like the spices I mix into the pumpkin pies I make from scratch at Thanksgiving. I like pumpkin pie. I like pumpkin pie with whipped cream, to be precise.

Larger Truth: I love pumpkins. Un-spiced. Big Love. This fruit of the gourd family and the picturesque mascot of all things fall makes me abundantly happy.  That’s saying something, because I am a summer person through and through.

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Posted in Celebrations, Children, Decorating, Family, Holidays, Memories, Seasons | 8 Comments

Never Just Chairs

Our parents are lovely people and provided us with lovely things when we were children. Comfortable & well-furnished homes. Our own bedrooms. Good public educations. Happy & joyful childhoods.

A divorce rocked my world at the end of high school. My parents made sure that as little of that list changed for us as was possible. At the end of the divvying up, my mother ended up with these chairs that had lived in our large living room for years and years.

This year, in late June,  my mother sent my sister Casey and me a short text that said, “Curb?” The resounding answer from both my sister and me was a combination of, “Wait.” “I want to see them,” “We might want them,” and, “Are the back pillows still around?”

They are still at her house awaiting a final decision. Mothers are patient souls.

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Posted in Children, Furniture, Memories, Sisters | 8 Comments

Going Backwards

I have changed my ways. Well, “added to my ways” is a better description.

I have always enjoyed art museums. Loved, really. I hold the one in my own hometown so close to my heart as to think of it as my own. My museum. When I was young and reading The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E.Frankweiler, the museum I saw in my mind’s eye was my own, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. I have roamed freely its many rooms most of my life, reconnecting with the pieces that have always been there and making sure that new art is fully taken in and welcomed. I don’t have to actually like it to welcome it, but it never hurts.

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Posted in Art, Artists, Friends, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

About A Trash Can

This story is about a trash can. One that has lived in my car since my son was more of a toddler than a baby. There came a point where a truly waterproof catchall could be relied upon to catch unfinished beverages and food remains from a life lived quickly and in transit with a growing child.

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Posted in Environment, Health | 6 Comments

Selfies

I have been mesmerized by selfies for a while.

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Posted in Family, Memories, Photography, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Three Hours and Forty Years

It was the only day on the calendar that was “free”. When my Sunday New York Times arrived over a month ago and had a flyer in it about a show at the Wichita Art Museum, I did a double-take. Wichita? In Kansas? Then I grabbed my calendar to pick a date to go. A Friday three weeks away was the only day on the whole Month-at-a-Glance that had nothing on it, or at least the only one that could handle six hours of driving for art.

It was a show of pieces by Hudson River School painters curated by the New York Historical Society. Three words hooked me. Hudson. River. School.

When I was in fifth grade at William Cullen Bryant Elementary School, a docent from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art brought a huge – to all of us – painting from the museum. She talked about it at length, asked us to “look more closely,” and urged us to answer “What else do you see?” with real words.

I was mesmerized by this piece. It was full to the edges with deep, dark corners of trees and bushes. Greens that ran to black but still showed leaves and vines. It was filled near the top of the frame with white clouds and a sky of every shade of blue. A top corner of the canvas held a foreboding cloud out in the distance that warned of change coming. It had animals and flowers and rocks and cliffs and possibly a waterfall. I am unclear on the waterfall, but there was water coursing through it somewhere.

I learned years later that, in the late ’70s, the pieces that went out with the docents to schools were replicas. Being very close to true size and with frames that were gold and fancy, if not as expensive at the originals, they were breathtaking to my 10-year-old self. They even showed brush marks.

I looked deeper, and, when we were told we could come closer, I did. I gazed in to the darkest corner for more and then up to the sky for relief.

I vividly remember telling my parents about it, probably yet that night. I nagged that we had to go to the museum “soon” to see it. I wanted to take them there and walk them to exactly where it hung, knowing I had no idea exactly where that was but sure that someone would know about the huge painting that a blonde lady had brought to my school just a few days ago! I wanted to show my parents what the docent had shown me. I wanted them to look closely and see more than I did. I wanted to talk about it like she did.

The docent kept mentioning the “Hudson River School,” and I just knew that was a place I should go to school. She made it sound like college, whatever that was. A place of learning with dark corners and majestic skies is what hooked into my brain.

I walked to school back then, and my family could have walked to The Nelson had we chosen to. I also walked to the Plaza Library at the corner of Ward Parkway and Main Street. The kids’ section was in the basement, but I knew that any books or information about the Hudson River School would be listed upstairs in the big card racks. I loved that building, and I really, really loved those 3×5 cards and talking to the librarians. Slipping into the Dewey Decimal language always felt special and foreign. And grown up. Sometimes they would give me “the look” that silently willed us younger people to realize we shouldn’t be upstairs. Not this time.

I was happy to know more about the Hudson River School and the painters who defined it using the pile of books I scavenged from the shelves. I spent a fair amount of time that day looking at many paintings in several books, but I was devastated to learn that there was no physical school. I had no desire then – nor do I have now – to be an artist, but I was crushed to find I could never, truly go there.

Except at a museum, which I go to every chance I get. The Hudson River School genre is no longer a true favorite, but it can hold me in its sway for the length of a special visit. I can still hear that docent and see that massive painting she carried into our room. I can still feel the old library and the gazes of those wise women behind the desk as I traipsed by them with my large format books to sit by the big windows.

Last Friday took me three hours down the road from my home and forty years back in time. On the ride back, as the sun was fading in the Flint Hills, I remembered that the original painting I saw when I was ten is still in the collection of The Nelson. I saw it a few years ago as I was hurriedly cruising through the museum on my way to a meeting. It stopped me in my tracks.

I stayed riveted to that spot just as long as I could, and I still can’t tell you if there is a waterfall.

Sloane

p.s. All the photos above are tiny pieces of paintings I saw at the special exhibition at the Wichita Art Museum. I was enthralled by the skies and water in this particular set of works. The show runs through April 30, 2017. We also strolled the permanent collection and found the woman below. I love her.

   

 

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Posted in Art, Memories, Travel | 10 Comments

The Whole World Nicer

Several days before we left to meet our son in New Orleans for his spring break, I was ribbed a little for wearing my AIDS Walk wind breaker. My partner that night informed someone we ran into that “…she always wears that jacket. I don’t think she owns another coat.” I saw no reason to defend myself, and I smiled.

I love this jacket. For many reasons. One: It was a gift over ten years ago for meeting a goal in fundraising. Two: It is lightweight and perfect for travel. Three: I can wear it in the winter easily. Four: It reminds me every time I look down at the logo that AIDS Walk knows no season for me. HIV/AIDS doesn’t quit. It is a 24/7 disease.

So you can imagine my terror when I found a hole on the seam under my left arm. I was crossing my arms on the bus back from a plantation home. I was trying to get my right shoulder in a comfortable position so that my son could fall asleep on it. He might have moved out of the house almost two years ago, but a mother NEVER forgets the pain of a limb arranged stupidly for a child’s nap!

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Posted in Clothing, Family, Health, Travel | 22 Comments

Easing Back

I am easing back into wanting to go the grocery store. As in, on one of my days off, when there isn’t a time crunch or a huge list to be purchased, I will enter the store. Alone or with my husband, I am easing back into what was a huge part of my life for so many years.

I have written before about myself and grocery stores. My last two trips to the store have been with my husband and almost a month apart. Both very different experiences. One got me a “talking to,” and the other, after following preset parameters from the “talking to,” got me a good dose of the stink eye.

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Posted in Food, Humor, Marriage, Shopping | 17 Comments

I Miss Snow

There. I said it. I miss snow. In addition, I have missed the sun for many days in a row this past week. But that’s another subject and slotted for another session.

In pinpointing what I miss most about snow, I landed on one constant: the quiet beauty it brings. The snow muffles the sounds of my neighborhood, and I am unable to hear cars moving slowly at the bottom of my hill. A favorite. When I walk my dog, the sounds that are closest to my ears – and which are usually drowned out by the environment – become sweet retreats for my mind.The brush of my arms against my quilted coat and the dog’s paws lifting off the pavement are two of my favorites.

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In addition, the Midwest is not at its loveliest in winter. But our sloping hills, stark trees, and structured landscapes become magical with even the slightest snowfall. Quiet beauty. This region needs snow to brighten the brown that overtakes the ground. Not being a scientist, I can only imagine this region needs the snow for a myriad of reasons, water tables and pest control being just two.

I do. I miss snow. Writing those three words, I can only imagine what the polar bears would write if they had a blog….

Sloane

p.s. This photo is of my niece almost three years ago. Time has flown, but she clearly embraces in this photo how I feel about snow.

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Posted in Environment, Mental Health, Seasons | 3 Comments