Baby don’t crack, at least not our system.

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Baby Don't Crack

Baby Don’t Crack

 

I found this porcelain baby doll in a little side table that had moved with me in the last four moves in the last 2 years. It was my daughter’s and while I was sad it was broken, I mended it and knew it was still here for I’d forgotten details like this.

It wasn’t going away and it would stay with her, just as the porcelain dolls of my Great Grandmother had stayed within our family. And just possibly, it might stay with her daughter if she chose that path and had a girl child which is such a privilege. As my cousins said when Lacy was born, “we think you had the best kind.” [which is not to insult my son, Jack].

It made me feel happy that somehow I was connected with all the women in my own family, and in my former husband’s family, that we had contributed to the work of the world to hope to make it a better place for those after us. Or at least, to give something while we were here, whether we were Doctors, or mothers, or executives, or writers or architects, or spouses or co-owners or whatever made up “The team” to have a family of whatever sort.

So here’s a poem that came to mind when I saw the baby doll and wanted to cry, for it was happy drops….For the Future! Life rolls on…spin with it!

 

Baby Don’t Crack

Baby Don’t Cry

Mama be back

Daddy can fly!

We all have wings

We all have cages

Never quite lines up

Just happens in stages…

S’okay Sukie GG Coco

Jessie, Yogi, Amy, Popo

Annie, Kathy,

Lol & Wendy

Too far ahead

but never trendy.

God is Good…

God is great…

Let us thank him for our food.

See the point!

Don’t be late!

Life is SHORT

BUT we all are GREAT!

Mildred Lee Ward and Paul Roy Ward

le sketch du jour: July 12, 1980. Dressing for Claude Monet….

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My mother Ginny Graves found these and called them our “Monet Water Lily Dresses.”

Above: My sister Gina, my cousin Laura Ward McCrary, and I are pictured above, dressed for the wedding of my mother’s cousin, Christie Lee Triplett, in St. Louis. Christie Lee was my Grandmother Millie Ward’s niece as Christie’s father, Floyd Lee is the brother of my grandmother, Mildred Lee Ward.

When Claude and I met. 

I knew Claude when I was in pre-school. That is because my mother taught art lessons at the Nelson Art Gallery, so this was my pre-school. But that’s another post.

Anyway, if you have been to the Nelson-Atkins Museum, as it is now called, you have seen the triptych of Monet’s Water Lilies. It  used to be in the large room just to the left of the Nelson Bookstore and Giftshop which are to the left as you enter the gallery turnstiles. Or do they still have the turnstiles?  Anyway, they were and still are mesmerizing to me.

So to visit this real place and the ponds and gardens where Monet painted 16 years after this picture was taken was like being in a dream. The paintings are actually more real than the place, but they are equally beautiful.

Monet Triptych at the Nelson.

 

Claude in his Gardens.

Saturday July 12, 1980. (from my journal and sketchbook)

Woke. Ran 3. Went to Breakfast.

Met Granda & we took Métro to Gare St. Lazare.  From there we took a train to Vernon and from Vernon a taxi to Giverny, the Gardens where Monet painted. They just re-opened this spring and everything is beautiful.

See the bachelor buttons...

The house is pink stucco with green trim and the gardens were full of bachelor buttons, thistles, and all sorts of little yellow, red, pink & orange blossoms.

Monet's House with Tile workshop at left. Arbors are along pathways throughout the Gardens. colored marker sketch by Paula, summer 1980.

We saw the curved bridges and lily ponds and willows that are in all the paintings.

There was a room of paintings in his house.  Off the entrance were some of his later works which are really dark, but interesting and beautiful but in a different way.

We stayed until 3:30 and took the taxi back to Vernon.  Sat in café with Granda and had a sandwich de jambon (ham sam) & a croque monsieur.

Our train leaves at 6:00 and we are waiting at the station. Dinner tonight is at Grandamolie’s hotel, the Regina, at 7:30. This is the hotel on right bank on the corner just across from the street from the wing of the Louvre where le museé des arts décoratifs is located (where I am going to school).

Seed pearl earring surrounded by suspended bezel of baby seed pearls on French Wires from the Hotel Regina Bijoux & Joaillier Anciens & Antiquaires

Granda gave me a very beautiful pair of antique gold earrings with baby seed pearls in the bezel from the hotel jewelry shop. Teensy tintsy intricate construction, they are about 1/4″ diameter drop on French wires.

(end of journal entry)

Monet's Pink Stucco house with Green Trim at Giverny. I used little sponges to do the trees. This was one of my first painting classes and I'll have to tell you, it identified early on why anal people aren't (initially or ever?) very good painters. Way too tedious and don't take enough artistic license. I'm still trying to get past this stage...oil on canvas by Paula, winter 1983.

The painting above was done later from a photograph in my album from that summer. It’s not an exciting painting, but the colors do capture the place.

So Claude, it was a pleasure to visit your home, and with my Grandmother Millie, which made it even more special. And if only I could paint like you, I would paint a picture of the crossing at the Cimarron River on the XIT Ranch, for it is as beautiful a place as any in your pictures. And, I may still do this. It is clearer in my mind each day.

The Graves’ Girls Matching Christmas Outfits and Gowns Fashion Show.

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Two little girls with two little curls in two little dresses making two little twirls…

I think it is universal that mothers with two girls dress their daughters alike when they are younger. It is just too fun to not do this. There is one Easter where all Graves girls, GG included, had beautiful matching Liberty-of-London looking print dresses, Gina and Paula with white hats and collars.

This works pretty well until the younger sister gets wise to the fact that she will have to wear this same outfit again in a few years and then it doesn’t seem so fun. I can’t imagine what it was like for people like Marthe Dreher who had four sisters in her family. Poor thing, she probably had to be pictured in the same dress for like a decade.

A whine about hand-me-downs.

There is a picture of me wearing a red kind of one-piece stretchy number that I DISTINCTLY  remember was a hand-me-down because there was a patch of several stars at the knee which covered a hole that I DID NOT MAKE. Double-insult!  I think I probably only really had to wear a “matching outfit deux fois” seulement un fois. But that has always been enough for me to complain loudly. So, I’ve gotten that out of my system, let’s begin the fashion show.

Oh, one more thing about doing this in the Adams Family.

I didn’t ever dress Jack and Lacy alike. They tend to look kind of alike when they are working with boots, jeans, and their rain-wind gear always happens to be blue. I’ve never was organized to exert much control over the whole visual picture thing as witnessed in my engagement picture in the Independent. I am wearing a black, yellow, red abstract print and John Adams is wearing plaid madras. All I can say is Thank Goodness it wasn’t in color.

Lacy Adams had a brother and two boy cousins, so in her case, the dressing alike at Christmas was really only one Christmas. It was a three-sweater-some ensemble which my mother put together for a Christmas of the Graves, Lloyd, Adams in KC. I can’t put my hands on the picture right now, but I think they all said “Cowboy.” It’s okay, GG bought me one of the coolest sweaters I ever had (it was pictured on Torey Time with me and GG) at the boys department, at Jones I think.

Lace, Boy, Boy.

Oh, wait, I just saw one picture of the three Graves grandchildren in red longjohns at Christmas so I will put that in. The boys got a “boy” label, but I suppose Lace didn’t because no one has ever mistaken her yet for a boy, though she does look quite a bit like her father.

 And on the runway…

Scaary! It's a better effect when both baby and doll eyes are wide-open.

I have to put in a few of these of just me from the first Christmas when I was alive, mainly because they are probably universal family traditions. Well, maybe not this first one, but if it is with your mother’s sense-of-humor please post.  Which is, 1) to put the live baby by the plastic baby (preferably a vintage doll or least requisite to have those blinking eyes) and photograph them together.Often, it is difficult to differentiate one from the other. It has never really been discussed. But my mom kept the scrapbooks and thankfully continued to feed with the best pictures and has continued to add these of grandchildren and cousins. Don’t you think it’s jarring?  Probably PTSD from a nightmare about some doll baby that talked on Dark Shadows or an old pre-chucky flick.

2) The baby opening the package at First Christmas Picture. 

Everyone has one of these in their scrapbook.

3) The Mother Holding smiling baby in front of tree picture. 

New second time mother with bouncing baby on lap in front of Christmas tree.

I think I will just carry on with the tradition theme.

4) Being pictured with a Great-Grandmother and two girls in architectural Chair. The first part is pretty darned important and we all know why because we’re getting closer every day. The second part is because these funky chairs seem to follow around the child who most needs the extra furniture which was moi. This one has a name, but my dad or mom will have to post that. It’s like a big round ring and kind of woven, sits low to the ground, Danish Modern. I think it is still over at the bunkhouse at the East Ranch, I might want this back. I want to say Bertoia but that is a batwing chair that is in the master bedroom at the XIT Headquarters.

 

Paula with ball-a, Gina, Nano, Paula, Gina and Paula in chair.

 5) Pictures of evidence of someone baking and hints of future food issues. Later these become more evident as worn directly around the waistline. I am sure many people have these in their albums, and all I can say is that there is a bonus to identifying the problem early on.

a Picture documenting seasonal cookies and eating habits.

6) Picture documenting how girls go from baby dolls to hard stiff little dolls with great clothes and accessories. Personally if it were my choice, there would be a soft cuddly baby girl dolly with really great clothes. At least that would be my doll role model. 

Dollies gets dollies in sage green velvet with lace top and bows.

A Scottish Tradition.

7) Everyone has to have a Highland Christmas Fling. This was before I went to Highlands School, though. The Adams Family is actually Scotch-Irish but I’ve never really seen any of those Adams Cowboys or Sisters wear any kilts or even a plaid cummerbund. Anne Cornwell Gall had some Scottish Plaid boxers and a wool plaid fringed scarf which she would don in the Theta House lounge with just her bra when appearing as, “Tartan Girl.” Wish I had a picture.

Florence Eiseman

 8) In our Florence Eisemans. We had several, but I felt like this particular time period was really smash with the simplified appliqués and jumpers that tied on the sides. Very contemporary as it was 60s for what is usually a very traditional clothing line. I think store on Plaza was somewhere over by hmmm…changes so often…a chain rib place, Buca di Beppo, Steve’s,  one of those stores like Abercrombie that used to be really nice and kind of mass-marketed….Anyway, what was there in my day was a Bennet Schneider, a place to buy and get fitted for shoes where you stood on a platform and had feet squeezed, and Cricket West. Or so we can all get located with something that will always be there, across from that triangular block with the shoe repair.

Green velvet pantsuits.

9) The year we all had pantsuits Christmas.  These were beautiful and not too long after that my mother had a purple velvet pantsuits. She wore it to dinner at Putsch’s 210 and I think maybe she had to go home and change into a dress. Hadn’t come to KC yet, I guess.

A nod to the Germans.

 10) More ethnic Christmases…a nod to our German brethren and a slight strain I have to admit in my own. Sometimes comes out in rigidity and a leaning tendency towards Paternalistic Systems. 

 

Wow, 2 dirndls....Good work, GG!

I had to put in this other one I found when I was younger. It actually looks pretty authentic, so I am wondering if my parents or Grandparents had taken a trip. I think maybe Gina had one, too, but that pic’s in her scrapbook. Her’s was blue.

Handmade nightgowns!

11) Grandmother Handmade Gowns that were better than Lanz! My tiny talented Grandamartha Graves made us these beautiful handmade nightgowns, every year and more. She was amazing with colors and prints. They were softer than soft and big and cozy and never had scratchy places in the inside like Lanz gowns can have with the lace. I think they all had a ribbon at the neck.

Grandamartha also had the best embroidered hankie collection I’ve ever seen, was a master at découpage which I learned and used on a handpainted cowgirl dresser in Lace’s bedroom, and had these great little soaps all over that had some kind of little applique that she would put on them. I loved staying with Grandamartha as we always made stuff and I got to watch soap operas on TV while she ironed downstairs in the basement.

a picture counting down to Christmas on Christmas Day!

12) The Advent Calendar and Old Maid Coffeecake. Traditions. My mom made these Advent Calendars. They were appliqued and hers were very contemporary as they were a stylized tree (felt?) on a burlap background. Each little pocket below had a tiny ornament in it and she also found the neatest most special little things with meaning. From the first of December to Christmas Day, we would do this in the morning before school. We always ate ate breakfast together in the kitchen.  Gina and I would take turns taking out the little surprise in each pocket to tie on the tree. It definitely taught me a love for tiny things and also the rewards of anticipation and delayed gratification! 

The Old Maid Coffeecake is another tradition from my Grandmother and maybe her mother…?  It is basically flour, salt, butter, eggs, sugar, pecans, brown sugar, maybe some baking soda. Lots of good stuff in proportion to the batter so every bite is delish.

Well, that is it for the Fashion Show which turned into Graves Family  Christmas Traditions. Thank you mom, Ginny Graves, for all of the photographs taken and so well organized in our Webway albums. You are amazing!

Merry Christmas in Pictures!