Thursday, May 31, 2012

Soul Food

Suffice it to say that Life has not been kind these past few weeks. As an artist, it's expected that creatively I would thrive during times of angst, but in fact the opposite is true for me. I much prefer to create from a place of beauty and peace. Sure, during the creative process there can be a sort of restless excitement that comes when inspiration meets work, but for the most part my artistic pursuit is one of calm and steady perseverance.

And so, after a month of inactivity, I'm back in the studio. It seems surreal....but it's not. It's quite real. Whether or not anything of lasting significance comes from this, to have painted today has nourished my soul. Thank God for today.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My By Self

When Erin was a wee one and wanted to try something on her own, she would look at us in all seriousness and say, "I do it my by self." We, of course, pulled away and clapped and praised her burgeoning autonomy and newfound skill.

This picture, for me, is that story all grown up. Only a short while ago she was an excited little girl -- I've seen this same expression on her face since she was a little bitty -- and now, Erin has completed her master's degree in clinical social work at the University of Texas. I love that she's made so many personal and professional choices based on her natural inclination toward showing mercy to others. She's an amazing woman. Congratulations, Erin! You did this all your by self.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Galveston Historic Homes Tour

It has to be largely my grandmother's influence that I love living with history. She had an antique shop for a while, and would often tell stories about various pieces of furniture, who owned it, where it was from, and what wood was used to make it. She had stories about dishes and silverware, paintings, and music boxes. She had picture books on her leather top coffee table of beautiful historical homes in Kentucky and Virginia. She talked at length about her childhood home in Mississippi and little by little, I came to love the things she did, which is why I was so excited to win four tickets to the Galveston Historic Homes Tour courtesy of West University Buzz magazine.

As one might imagine, it was a bit of a shock to visit Galveston back in 1985 as my 21 year old self after growing up in Hawaii. At the very least, I was stunned to see cars driving on the beach! It didn't take long, however, to learn to appreciate the charm of Galveston. Back then, with a young family in tow, we were always in a hurry to get back to Houston after a long day at the beach.

As our daughters grew up, however, I jumped at the chance to chaperone  field trips to Galveston. They were usually when our daughters were studying Texas history and we toured the tall ship Elissa, the Menard House, and the Old City Graveyard. All these years, though, what I always wanted to do was go on the Galveston Historic Homes Tour. But just because I love things like this, doesn't mean that my loved ones love it, too. Not wanting to coerce anyone, but really wanting the companionship, the Amazing Reese, daughter Anna, and dear friend Erin, all, bless their hearts, agreed to go with me.

With a picnic lunch sandwiched between our tour of six of the ten wonderfully interesting homes, with Bishop's Palace thrown in for good measure, it was a full day. Longing for more, it should come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that I've spent a great deal of time these last two days researching historic homes for sale in Galveston. It's certainly not practical and only vaguely realistic, but I have grand dreams of the Amazing Reese (and Tilly) and me loving a historic house in Galveston back to life.

Even at the end of a long day, the Amazing Reese was a good sport. He went on this tour only because he loves me, and never complained about it once.....not that he's a complainer, he isn't, but still, he could have complained, but he didn't. Thank you, Reese -- just another example of why you are so AMAZING.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Presbyterian School Days

Once upon a time, all four of the Hazel daughters went to Presbyterian School. Those days are long gone now, but the memories of that place are sweet and strong. Erin was our first to attend, back when Betty Baxter was the head of school. With a simple handshake and personal greeting for each student every morning, Betty instilled a deep sense of belonging while teaching manners, respect, and common courtesy.

As a young family, we couldn't afford such an education for our daughters, but felt that we couldn't afford not to go, either. With scholarships and squeezing an already tight budget, we made it work. Lucky for us, Presbyterian School reinforced our ideas of what early education should look like. Which reminds me, several of our teachers were some of the most beautiful, kind, gentle women I've ever met in my whole life.

One of the teachers, Mrs. Henricks, still there, was a feisty, adorable woman who taught our third graders Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Who does that? Third grade! Years later, when Joy and I ran into Virginia (Mrs.Henricks) at Target, she remembered that Joy had tried every trick in the book to get out of doing her homework. Mrs.Henricks loved a rascal, she's one herself, but schoolwork was schoolwork and she expected (with some mercy thrown in) for the kids to perform. And they did.

Back then, the music teacher was a brilliant woman who composed musical plays for the kids just to supplement a lesson on Abraham Lincoln. I can still sing the opening song, and I wasn't even in the play. "Happy birthday Mr.Lincoln, happy birthday Abe, happy birthday Mr. Lincoln, it's your birthday!" (<--singing it to myself)  Mrs. Fish could play the same guitar left handed or right. I've never seen anything like it. The kids would crowd around her while she was playing. If a kid got too close to her left hand, she never fussed....she would turn the guitar around (and upside down) and play it upside down and backwards. Who does that?

Mrs. Livingston nurtured our daughters and their fondness for science with hands on gardening. The kids worked to build a garden on campus and they worked in a garden at the Children's Museum after which they made power point presentations of their work.  Power point presentations in elementary school! Who does that? (The day lilies and fig tree still growing in our back yard are from Mrs. Livingston's own garden.)

Besides the loveliness of the campus, art classes were at MFAH's Glassell, the chapel teacher had the voice of an angel, the students learned Spanish, ate nutritious lunches, learned that gifts could be thoughtful handmade creations....which brings us to this sweet painting.

This Presbyterian School commissioned piece was a gift for someone who, according to the grapevine, really loved it. Several things were included in the painting to make it unique for the recipient and for Presbyterian School, though the image is universal. The girls' backs are toward us, so that we can all identify with the schoolchildren. They are in the blackwatch plaid dress uniform and running toward the office part of the school, which includes those windows, the top portion of which is the emblem for the school.

Maybe power point presentations are the norm in elementary school these days. Maybe third graders all over the globe study Shakespeare. Maybe all schools have a world class museum and art school part of their daily life....I don't know. For us, these things were extraordinary. For Presbyterian School and what it was for our whole family, I will ever be grateful. This painting reminds me of that, plus more, so much more.