All we want for Christmas…to feel Love and Gratitude.

by admin

For Christmas this year I pretty much decided that I needed to be sure that I had a great day. I can’t really ever remembering particularly wanting the Heidi Doll. And that turtle Troll was probably something absolutely impossible to satisfy that my cre[aaazy, man!]ative mind had made up.

In this same way, no one really wanted to eat all those cookies or peanut butter balls, there was no family gathering at my house I needed to orchestrate, and I was around no one in particular who had any Christmas needs. Even my neighbor whose father had died was super super busy organizing stuff and planning a trip to Mexico, so we waved today while running to respective outings armed with food as I did have a two events with minor cooking responsibilities. So, I realized it should be a celebration and opportunity to have these few days to keep it simple and focus on what Christmas meant to me.

And I’ll tell you, it is a LOT less work. It makes me finally realize that term my father so often used about “make work”, though in different contexts than women. And, I do think is often what we (women) to do ourselves, at least if my yoga teachers had anything to share about their family Thanksgivings… I think we need to start competing on who can do less :). Much of what we do likely misses the point if we are expecting anything in return and when I started to simplify, I realized it wasn’t really missed much, if any. Green wreaths with cherries were pretty enough in my picture. Now, the prime rib …that’s something entirely different….

So, I started early to plan how I would spend this weekend, tomorrow and Tues, being free of any (moi??!!) past resentments, pre-conceptions, and time & money consuming last minute tasks. These had been likely only an attempt to try to control the happiness of others on Christmas Day while often neglecting my own needs. With all of this thought, I realized that the only thing that mattered with those primary relationships in life with whom I’d spent so much time  was one special gift.

Jack said it perfectly in this note which came with this golden gift. The gift is very beautiful, well-crafted and made with loving hands so here is a picture of that first.

Lamb, Mary, Baby Jesus, Joseph, Cow. by Jack Adams, 3rd Grade. Meade Grade School.

I love the way Jack forms clay, I’ll have to do another of his KU Basketball player.

But, it didn’t really even matter if he had given a gift or not, because his words just by themselves remind me of what this holiday is all about, Christ’s birthday. That is, Christmas is about the gift of Love. And, the idea aka the Faith in Christianity, is that the parent, God, had a son that was an embodiment of his love. And, Mary was the one who had the privilege of being his mother for the short time he was on this earth. Here is his note:

“This Gift Shows the true meaning of Christmas. The Gift of Love! Merry Christmas Mom and Dad. I love you!” Jack Adams, 3rd grade 1999-2000.

This  wonderful person who gave, spoke, spread his gifts given to him by God his Creator was Jesus. You know? A really good kid. Took what he was given in terms of his abilities, and saw the positive. He spread it in the way that he was able, to others, learning to somehow speak in such a way that his message from God spoke to very many people. In the real world that we live in, you can imagine how he  was somewhat of a threat to power structures. So he was killed.

That is, a person’s faith that God’s love is really what matters the most in getting through life and each day, was an idea that some in power felt needed to be put down. This is because fear is a very powerful force in governing others.  While it was an entirely different time, in some ways it’s just the same.  Fears, within ourselves in the fairly comfortable middle class reality of being fed and clothed, fears that society can evoke, fear we may let others evoke with theirs that ignites something also within us, and mostly within ourselves if we let it grip us. Fear of poverty, fear of indecision, fear of being alone, fear of self, fear of loss of self-control, fear of not being able to control. Whatever it is that pits one against another, and most often those two arewithin ourselves. Divide and conquer, right?

So God had a plan. If we can forgive ourselves for being human, we can always begin again by feeling love and gratitude.

God’s intentions came to us by way of a story told to a woman that saw Jesus after his image reappeared, but his body had disappeared. His spirit was still alive and he came back to tell what had happened.

I believe this happens to all of us in many ways with people that have come into our lives that are important. They come back in our dreams and in our thoughts. And if anyone else’s experiences are like mine, they are always positive. All gratitude.

Perhaps it’s easier to remember than it was to ever experience in real life. But, I do think at least focusing on the feeling of thanks makes everything about both giving and accepting love easier. It’s only then that I can see what I brought to that relationship and equally how well I treated and thought of myself within that relationship. It’s a mixed bag of responsibility, self-forgiveness, love and gratitude.

It’s only then that I can bring that to another on the holidays as there were so many things that I enjoyed. But this time doing it with more love, more understanding, more forgiveness both of self and of another for not fulfilling any “want” or “need” that I have or had neglected to give first to myself.

Got it, Paula? That is, first remember that I am a Child of God as Paul Rock’s pebble reminded me a few Sundays ago. Then, to feel thanks.

And to know that so often when I am alone, that I have the very best companion.

It’s a time to enter the quiet

that often can get lost

with all the hubbub,

 it should be cherished.

What is real?

by admin

I’m so glad my mother put sunblock on this painting of me.

This post is kind of about personplace, thingpet, and art.

So is this painting.

Lacy Amelia Adams and Rosie on kilim footstool.

Lately, I am really trying to simplify and understand in (my) life, what really matters with all this “stuff”, changing context, people that converge & separate, and how the constant of art all fits into the picture. 

So here goes…

First, a little bit about the “THING” in this image, which is the footstool covered with a kilim rug. It is one of the 9 pieces of furniture that I have purchased in my adulthood, not counting flea market finds. My house is mostly made up of furniture of my mother’s and Grandmother’s. There was little that I could, needed, or wanted to buy in southwest Kansas in general. Not to add, nor to buy almost anyplace that was better constructed or of more interesting design than anything I’d have by way of these two women of impeccable taste.

Plus, of course, I’m sentimental, and taking these objects from other “PLACES” in Kansas where my mother, Grandmother, and before that her mother had lived are one of the big things that made the ranch “PLACE” home before I knew it intimately.

I bought this kilim stool in the “PLACE” which was Santa Fe in my 20s on a trip with Gina and my mom. It was from a man, Stephen Miller, who also helped me to purchase a dhurrie to match a (Rainbow Decorator) Smith & Co. loveseat I’d spotted the summer before I was married. This also had received “stamp of approval” from Bobbi Smith who worked for Jack Rees Interiors, a prominent KC decorator with ‘a clientele who collected.’ I’d interned with her at Jack Rees, the summer of 1980. She was a close friend of my Grandmother Millie. 

Coincidentally, she had also picked out some upholstery for John Adams Grandmother Jessie. So, she also knew the rancher’s wife budget & priorities :), at least in the department of home interiors. Do not take this as disparaging. It’s often far more expensive to upholster quality items that will never be made “like they used to” than it is to buy new. I live by the same in much of my philosophy on domestic interiors. Do less, do it well, less often. It’s kind of an environmental thing akin to “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It also might be called being a bit “Scotch” at times, while “French” and “German” at others.

Stephen Miller’s Oriental Rugs was located catty corner from Pasqual’s and across from Doodlets, depending upon what you consume when you’re in SF. I discovered in a recent conversation with a salesperson in a rug store on Canyon Road, that this store’s (Santa Kilim) owner had been associated with Stephen, moved to Guadalupe (where I bought a kilim kabul rug chair), and is now on Canyon Road. The owner even remember acquiring the rugs and his series of upholstered chairs using them.

I had this kilim stool in my living room at both the East and West Ranch Headquarters on the Cimarron River, my two “home” ‘s  for the last 28 years. It is now in my home in Kansas City in Hyde Park, looks “smash” as Bobbi Smith would say. 

But, back to the idea of what I was thinking about when I came across this picture I’d taken of Lacy touching her face within the painting… “what is real?” That is, in a material world, what is it that connects us to place, person, things, even pets? And in seeing this, it inspired the post because it somehow was also connected to my personal ventures in “art” to find meaning, often un-consciously and under wrap.

I’m not going to talk about the person(s) because that’s person(all). We all have these persons and I’d imagine we all have similar feelings when we feel gratitude for having shared time and place with them.

Same goes for pets, it seems there are many out there these days who are having no issues in experiencing their feelings about their dogs :) or expressing them. But, I will put in this picture of Rosie. It is a fake. That is, her Black Pug Ancestress pictured in the oil is the late Mei Rose, whose death preceded this photo by about 18 years when a speeding UPS truck brought about her early demise*. Anyway, Rosie cooperated in this photo setup. And I guess this means this second photo of the post is the realization of a new series of ‘family portrait photo genre’ entitled “what is real?”

note re UPS: [In his defense, I’m sure they lose quite a bit of money on their rural customers. He later asked me, “what happened to that little black pug of yours?” but I said nothing]

“Portrait of Rosie Adams questioning ‘what is real’ in sniffing ‘Lacy Adams pictured with black pug’ Portrait.”

So, here brings in art. I had this portrait of Lacy sitting by my (father’s former) drafting table which has now moved from its location in the bay window at the XIT Ranch to the bay window of The Illinois, 1 North. It is an oil that I had done, after I’d mastered dogs and artichokes.

As an art history major and also having grown up in the Education Wing at the Nelson, I had always been fascinated with the Early American and English Portraiture. The subject matter I’m referencing is that of children or a child, often dressed as a small adult, placed and painted in the context of “the house on the hill” or within a domestic interior. I also admired the later painter, John Singer Sargent, and his ability to incorporate person in place. But, BTW, Sargent was one whose work totally intimidated and blocked from painting.

So, the “primitive itinerant painter” version of the painting type pictured below was a little more approachable relative to my skillset. You’ll recognize the genre from Balis’s painting below that hangs at the Nelson of George and Emma Eastman at the ol’ homeplace. I realize this does not exactly represent the simple folk nor the humblest paintings which I was emulating, but I wanted you to get the “type” at the high end. That is, I think these are the Kodak kids in their “best available painter for the Kodak $$” moment. But you can see what I mean about the naïf nature of the painting with their big doll heads and stick-like bodies. It was do’able.

George and Emma Eastman by Calvin Balis. 1850

It’s really a mixed bag of feelings I have when I look at these paintings, because I often think, “Poor little Mr. Master with this noose of a plantation already around his starched collar… and the little mistress, well adorned with her bracelet, lacy pants, and festooned sunhat.”  Isn’t that jaded, with both sentiments sweet and savory? But, I also see that these children are growing up in this beautiful place, and they are often with a pet or something in their hands that you know gave them pleasure. And, the pride and love that the parents felt in having this executed, commemorating their children’s presence in a special place of meaning at a given age.

In all honesty, when I did this painting of Lacy, I don’t think I thought much about the fact that it is the parents that dress up their toy, arrange it in the portrait setup, and then document it for their own memory and point in time. As so many parents did before me and as we will forever do with the children we raise, I just did it.

I was pretty insecure about my ability to master features, though I actually think I did a pretty good job with Lacy’s face. I had sketched her before. So, I decided that since I lived in the country that I was the Itinerant Painter. I pretty much have to pretend when I launch into any creative endeavor.

Itinerant painter was the term for the artist-by-trade who traveled around, outside of the city, to landowners and others in the country who would perhaps not otherwise have traveled to the city to have their children painted. This was, of course, before the common existence of cameras to capture family “snapshots” at given key points along the timeline of their lives.

So, I don’t know how I exactly composed the room interior in the painting, except that the Guy Chaddock loveseat mentioned above was upholstered in a this cerulean blue color. I am sure that the checkerboard came from…

  • floorgrounds on Mary Engelbreit cards,
  • a photograph of a stained wood checkboard floor I kept in my files that I’d have loved to achieve on the old ranch wood floors,
  • numerous other Flemish interiors such as Vermeer’s self-portrait where he is painting in his studio.
  • PS  Note above what I said about imagination? See how I am just now noticing that I had subconsciously made reference to both Sargent (kilim stool and his rug in Daughters of Edward D. Boit) and Vermeer? Ego check.

Plus, the checkerboard went great with Lace’s outfit in the painting. Lacy’s portrait clothing ensemble, BTW, was given to her by her Grandmother GG. It says, “Spot the Dog” on her shirt. So, I have to put in that picture.

[I guess I forgot about “la mode” when I was pondering above on “person“, “place“, “thing“, “a pet” and “art”. How could I??]

GG, Jade Snow Wong (pug), Lacy Adams pictured by studio, 5328 W. 67th Street, Prairie Village, Kansas.

But, to answer my ponderings above…

For me, art can encapsulate persons, places, things (and pets!). It somehow helps me to feel all of it that perhaps I rushed past at the time in all of the excitement.

experience.

record.

remember.

feel.

process.

create.

breathe.

experience again…

It captures all the emotions that so easily just escape into energy, often misplaced, and puts it in one spot that gives some release to the maker.

…maybe to others, but I don’t feel that it really ever starts with that.

Rosie and My Shadow….

by admin
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHeXdtNx2e0[/youtube]

I am now permanently settled in Hyde Park in Kansas City. It is very urban in my new neighborhood, at least as far as that definition goes west of the Mississippi. And of course, it’s all relative as I’ve been living for 28 years on a place where my next closest landowner was 8 miles away and a trek to another cowboy house was a city block.

And, I have been pondering as to whether or not I think Rosie has adjusted to urban living.

I have identified some defects of character that she perhaps needs to work on.  It’s not that these haven’t improved since Rosie and I moved to Wichita in February 11, at least she knows herself better.  But they still, and will likely always need, daily work.

Paula-Rosie

  • For one thing, she always starts out barking at the boy dogs, but usually it’s just because they are the ones most likely to be curious about her. I think it must be her scrappy demeanor. And, ss her mother’s friend Ellen said, “it’s because they bark about their work…business and politics…it’s so much more interesting.” But, familiar gal pals are important, and it does take a while to attract the gender that she is really seeking and needing.

In fact, here’s a picture from Rosie at Starbucks at Central and Rock (Wichita) after she finally got the attention she wanted and was holding court.

Rosie and ladies at Starbucks in Wichita with little boy dog neglected at right.

I even felt kind of sorry for the little boy dog beside the table. Once she’d found her ladies, he was ignored not only by Rosie, but by all the other missies who might have otherwise found him quite adorable.

  • And, Rosie has also had two run-ins with pairs of dogs. I am not sure if they really count because the encounters were also with their owners and there maybe have been other issues….

a) One was in Santa Fe at Vargas Mall where I waswith a friend who was mailing some stuff to Ebay. These canines were big black labs. The owner, a calm organic transplant to New Mexico, was not happy all and shrank back in terror. The barking so reverberated in the mall that my friend around the corner at the UPS store came out to see about the ruckus.

I’m sure they were likely way more evolved than she, living in the Land of Enchantment and everything. And…she does have a bit of a Napoleon Complex.

b) This 2nd catfight was with the somewhat-but-not-enough-non-speaking younger 3rd European wife of my neighbor in Wichita. She doesn’t speak English, but actually quite mirror’d her one dog in behavior in both lack of respose and reaction as Rosie did her usual (friendly?) barking. Frankly, her husband told me later that his one dog was very aggressive and the other a sweetheart. He said it happens all the time, and that Rosie probably got the hostile scent, scent’sing two against one (the owner and fiesty dog).

  • She also doesn’t always respect others right to clean grass space. And, I have heard that at Jansen Place in Hyde Park that there is a $500 fee if one doesn’t tend to their pup’s pQQps.  Luckily, I’m on the other side of Gilham and somewhat in the Hood so maybe she can occasionally get away with leaving a little fertilizer. There certainly is plenty of other fertilizer on 39th Street, so I’m not that worried about it.
  • She actually got into quite an impressive fight with the pug next door, Cujo.A very beautiful girl was there one day in the front yard with Cujo. She told me that Cujo had been her pug, and was claimed by the houseowners because they (four guys) had christened her Cujo. I think this would explain why the female dog has a male name. That is, I think it should actually be Cuja.So, she is often over there to visit her girl.So Rosie and I were walking by and Rosie and Cujo encountered each other as Crystal and I spoke. Snarling and growling, we proceeded to chat turning only because at one point, the two lady pugs had each other’s ruff by the neck. We were totally fascinated and watched as they wrestled each other to the grass. I think blood might have almost been drawn.

    We both just sat, like good mothers, and let them work it out themselves until we realized that someone was going to fight to win. With that, I pulled Rosie back and we both smiled at each other, very impressed with our girls street savvy and ferocity.

So, while I do think we all must work on our issues, I have also thought about the encounters when Rosie has been put on the defensive, as she was in the first episodes. I feel like in dogville, it should be like that 70s book…that is, “Me and my Dog are OK, You and Your Dog are OK.”  Not all animals were raised with grassy, green sprinklered lawns to protect and received pet shrink care and acupuncture.

a final note:

Rosie did say she would work on her end but advises me to remember, “What you think of me and my dog is none of my business.” That is, it is only a reflection of her, NOT ME, so who cares? Is this really true?

And another tidbit of wisdom from her. In a kind way she suggested that when I am overly worrying about her, that

  • perhaps I should redirect my focus on my own program, being that the only person I can control is myself.

She is a wise one.