Meeting your family when you are nearing 50 is a very odd thing. Families are very complex, and sitting down and going over the Who What and Why was exhausting. Filling in the blanks at this point is an impossible task, but one that I find cathartic. I need to know. I needed to connect, to fill the gaps, the voids they left with me. I am not sure if all of them would be a good fit for me. Maybe in time. For now, I am enjoying the family members closest to my age, my cousins. I couldn't have asked for more interesting and wonderful people. We exhausted ourselves with fun and laughter.
The tears came earlier when I first met my cousin D. Oh, how I wish we had grown up together. I think she would have had a big impact on me. But I am so grateful that she is here now.
We stayed in their apartment right downtown Chicago, with a view of the entire city. We enjoyed blues bars, Mexican restaurants, Bloomingdales and the beautiful attractions of Chicago which is clean and safe. We had a drive by of Obama's house, now with the road blocked off by Secret Service.
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast.
We sat for hours. There was so much to ask, to question, to get to know.
Every night I went to bed completely exhausted.
It was so worthwhile.
And the best part of the scenic attractions was seeing the Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Oak Park. You can't miss seeing them if you go to Chicago.
The past 10 days have been a roller coaster. Joy and Happiness with our son's engagement party, great sadness over losing Gracie Girl, then excitement and love with our new family.
That's life. You suck up the good which sustains you when the ride is rocky.
A couple of people have emailed with similar family stories. I was once told that I had no right to contact my fathers family, as his wishes were never to have anything to do with them.
I questioned a historian about this once and he told me that you have an absolute right to know who your family were.
I would say to people questioning if they should, that they absolutely should proceed. Be cautious, start slow, know that there are no guarantees. Be prepared that they are not prepared or not what you imagined or wanted. But I truly feel you can gain more than you can lose.
Thank you Steve for placing that little "missing person" ad.
First, I would like to thank everyone for their sympathies over the loss of our dog on Monday. I truly appreciate each and every comment that you left, I really do.
I grew up not knowing one half of my family. My father left home at 18, joined the air force and landed in Egypt, then Kenya, where he met my mother. When he left England as a young lad, he left his entire family, choosing to end all contact with them. We all suspected things were pretty bad on the home front for him, especially with his father, but I always wanted to know my Granny.
He refused to talk about them. None of us, even my mother knowing their names, nor them ours.
Once in a while he would let something slip, a tidbit, a detail.
I etched them into my memory.
I vowed that one day I would find my kin.
When my father died, I had access for the first time to his documents and the names of my grandparents.
My Granny's name was Lily.
I started an internet search.
I posted and searched missing person ads. I started and stopped several times, then in 2008, while taking a break from searching birth records in Nottingham (Smith no less) I googled his name and found a short ad for someone looking for a brother who had gone off to Kenya with the air force. With a sister Sheila. He had mentioned a Sheila.
I answered the ad, gave the few details I knew of my fathers family and we had a match.
56 years after he had left.
There were 10 brothers and sisters. A couple of them he had never met.
I was correct in my assumption that he had had an abusive and alcoholic father.
The rest had stuck together, supporting their mum and each other, most attending University despite being dirt poor and living in a council estate, hungry, and down trodden.
He mum had died wondering where he had gone.
I try not to judge him. To leave his family was something he did for very personal reasons. He was a very complicated man. I do not know his demons.
But we are discovering that despite the hardships, there are some really good people. God knows we could have used these loving aunties and uncles and cousins growing up. That makes me a bit angry and mostly sad that we were denied them. Ironically, they sometimes stayed in Lincolnshire, not far from my grandparents home.
I have met several. I found it very odd to look into their eyes and see my father. the family resemblances are very strong. My one cousin is remarkably like me, both in personality, and in her life story. When we met, we clicked. I may not have known her for 50 years, but we are definitely kin.
Tomorrow we are travelling to Chicago with my brothers to join up with some of them to celebrate Thanksgiving.
When there's good news, you just have to celebrate.
With food, champagne and people.
Your new people.
Brandon and Tracy's engagement is such a happy occasion for us, we wanted to throw them a bash to let them know just how much they mean to us. We are so thrilled to be joining with this family. To know we will be together for many, many more celebrations like this one over the years.
The groom to be.
A 5 pack. The new siblings to be. You couldn't mix a better batch.
They all love each other so much, the bonds already fast and strong.
And at 4:30 in the morning when they're still having this much fun, you just have to join them, even in your pajamas, and grab a glass of bubbly.
And when my girl gets her limbo line going, the love just spreads and the smiles are wide.
I think the wedding's going to be quite festive.....
I know this is early, but I am having an engagement party this weekend and want to get this out so I can get cracking on making things pink and frilly around here.
This weeks challenge was to photograph something that illustrated work by hand.
These old Christmas ornaments, although not hand made, are all hand painted and glittered by hand.
the paint strokes are tiny and perfect, and to me perfectly charming.
There has been some chat on the blogs lately about Vignettes. Not in a negative way, just people saying when they see a vignette, it leaves them wanting more. Do you like that little peek of a room or setting, perfectly staged and giving you a glimpse at something, but not a full look. Do you think vignettes hide from us more than they reveal?. Are bloggers not being open and upfront when they post the tiny areas of perfection?
I love a beautiful vignette, but they always leave me wanting more. A better look. A bigger picture.
Magazines almost always give you another look by backing up and giving you the full shot also.
Not so much with blogs. You get a snippet. 10 different ways perhaps, but definitely a snippet.
After a while, it can feel Unauthentic. Contrived. Impersonal.
Or is it clever, artisitic, engaging?
The challenge for the next challenge is 2 fold. And you have an extra week to do it because I am away next week in Chicago meeting with my long lost relatives. (long story which I will post about shortly). This challenge will post on December 3rd.
Photograph a Vingette (a small view, window or area) of a room or area of your home or anything.
Then back up and photograph it again.
The purpose of this challenge is to show what a vignette reveals, and what it hides.
Giving it context.
Keeping it Real
How your impression of something can completely change when you see the bigger picture.
I think this could be one of our most interesting ones yet.
I was faffing around in Toronto a couple of times last week when I happened on some extreme loveliness.
A cake shop extraordinaire called Bobbette and Belle.
Since there will be 2 Royal weddings next year (OK so ours isn't royal) I find myself driven to look at Wedding stuff. Given that I was married at City Hall with 2 witnesses and no real bouquet or wedding dress or anything......I am finding it a bit wonderful to gaze at wedding delights lately.
So this is the one I picked (pink one). I have emailed this shop to see if I can use some of their photos and do a blog post on them.
I didn't buy macaroons, but I did buy some Mayan Chocolate Caramels which we took as a hostess gift to the dinner we went to, and like a good guest sampled them when offered....delicious.
A macaroon topiary..Chef Bobette does not look happy in this photo, but it was just a bad shot of him. He was very friendly and smiley.
I loved their wall of flowery plates. (matching wall other side)
I like this Starbucks because they always have a nice display of local art.
I do love a nice art wall. Snapped this at the Coach Leather store, where they have an odd procedure for getting your merchandise. You tell them what you want, they radio it to the back. You pay for it, then you wait an endless amount of time for a little silk headband to be brought to the front while an abundance of smartly dressed sale staff say hi to you and ask if you've been served, while you keep waiting for the person on the other end of said radio to bring your purchase to the front.
Meanwhile, I amused myself by taking photos of the art wall.
I am a lovers of cornrows....on a baby's head or out in the field. Maybe I crave order, or it is the repetition or that glance out the window with the endless flash of straight perfect rows.
Headed North yesterday to shut down the cottage that has NOT sold.
Had lousy Chinese in a local diner, given that it was Tuesday night in small town Ontario, there's not much choice. But the company was good. I enjoy the friendship with my cottage neighbour who has been living in these parts for donkeys years.
On the way up there was construction in several areas and I was forced to idle several times, which gave me great opportunities to get some nice photos.
I pass these silos (4) all the time. Horses and cows always pay attention if you roll down your window. I think this guy was waiting for an apple core. I love making eye contact with a horse or cow on the side of the road when you stop or slow down.
I have never noticed these churches before until I was held up by the steamroller ahead of me. Side by side. One is very primitive with a wooden cross on the top, but Blogger is being ridiculous and won't let me post higher res pictures today, only ones that I have photoshopped smaller.
And the Fall light reflected deliciously in the water on the Bay. Not a soul around.
All from Birds on a Wire Photography.....available
I was the very lucky recipient of a gift in the mail today. It was a giveaway package from Johanna, the creative mind behind the blog Birds on a Wire and also a very talented photographer.
It included a handwritten note thanking me for a guest post I did on her blog a little while ago. You can read that HERE. I started following her blog when she was living about half an hour from my house, but then her family (the cutest boy Noah you have ever seen, and her husband) were moved through work to the Yukon. The Real North. Where darkness comes early and stays late. I shamefully know nothing about the Yukon, but I now get to see a bit of it through Johanna's eyes and her magnificent photography. I am mesmerised by the images of this Northern place so foreign to me. If I was to describe it, I would say it has a raw quality. Magical and peaceful, but raw.
Blogger has just informed me that I have run out of photo space, so I cannot post the other photos I took of her work until later, but you can see her work, the prints and cards and postcards at her Etsy shop HERE.
Thank you Johanna for the peek into a mama's life in the Yukon and also for the thoughtful, much appreciated gift.
I have decided that spell check is just bossing me around too much, and I am putting the U back in colour.
A while back, I had a design job for some people that had this very unusual house. I picked up some sample paints for them, and very badly wanted them to use this paint colour called Pigeon.
They were hesitant because they wanted a dark, man suit type gray, something I felt was much to harsh for the space. They ended up using their paint colour choice and it did work quite well, however I have had this little pot of paint lying around now for a bit, and I am itching to use it somewhere in the house.
I have a weird thing where I can't use paint if I hate the name of it, so even the name of this one is good for me. It has a very clever greenish under tone, very like that silvery greenish flash you get from a pigeon in the sunlight...hence the name.
I was wondering if anyone else is influenced by the name of a colour.?
It must be an interesting job to be a Colour namer. Think of how many you would have to come up with and where your inspiration would have to come from. I would imagine that everywhere you go and everything you see becomes and influence and inspiration. Take food.
Creme caramel, biscotti, rice pudding......all sound good.....there would be so many no no's......ham bone, cottage cheese or sirloin. You just couldn't do it.
Have you ever though of a good name for a paint colour.? What is the name of your favourite paint colour?
I know there are a lot of things far worse than losing your pet. But I had to post him today because it was one year ago that we lost him, and even though it's been one year (he died on Friday the 13th)
I actually miss him every single day. And I think Gracie does too.
When we got him, we didn't have a name. He was such a lazy puppy, lounging around all day and mooching for food constantly, someone said "he's just such a big mooch."
And Mooch it was. The laziest, cuddliest, sweetest, moochiest dog there was.
I used to love it when the vet called his name.
He had leukemia. He lived 2 years longer than expected. He didn't have symptoms until the end, he was just a very sleepy dog, still enjoying a dip in the lake in his last week or two.
His last day is so etched in my mind.
My daughter coming over to kiss hin goodbye.
Calling my son to tell him, him too far away to say goodbye, although for the past 2 years when he visited, he always said goodbye like it was the last one.
Mr. Raz and I being so gutted and crying so much the vet sent us flowers.
Wishing I had another day with him, to watch him lift his leg on my chives or cover his eyes with his paws when we played with him.
If my kids had something important like a job interview, exam or hockey game, they thought it was good luck if Mooch licked each hand before they left the house. He always obliged, sending them on their way with a bit of slobber.
My daughter tried it with Gracie yesterday before an interview. Poor old senile Gracie just wouldn't lick her...we had to put biscuits in her hands...she could hardly go to an interview with no lucky licks.
When I tuck old Gracie in for the night tonight, rubbing her poor old achy back, and kisses on her head, we'll have a little moment for him.
Hi everyone. Today's challenge is Pattern. Showing a photo that illustrates the use of pattern. I always associate pattern with repetition, although you could have a pattern that has no repetition.
Anyway, what I liked about this pattern is how many different patterns I see in it. Depending on how much and what I have been drinking,(kidding) I see it as an arangement of chevrons, diamonds, rectangles is you squint and I even see lines depending on what angle I look at it. It must be interesting to design patterns. (oh, and now the photo is blown up, I see it needs vaccuming.)
From this angle I see the stripe and I can make out the rectangles......are you with me?
In design class we studied the use of pattern in keeping a space dynamic.
I am so not a pattern girl. This is about it in my house. The rug and the kitty pillow.
From a distance, it does read as a neutral.
Next week, I thought it would be fun to photograph something handcrafted.
A painting, a necklace, pottery. Anything showing the use of a hand.
The idea is to make this a photography challenge and not just a show and tell, so try an find an interesting angle, lighting or way to capture the essence of handicraft.
I get very emotional on Rememberance Day. Seeing the aged veterans in uniform brings tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. I get so very choked up seeing them in parade or at the Cenotaph. I have so much gratitude to all those who have served or are serving our Country and those that love them.
I like to attempt many things, never really applying myself to one in particular.
Hence, I was not a good student.
One of the things I like to do is make felt. I start with pure sheep wool that I buy carded and washed. Before it is spun. When I first starting felting I decided I was going to be "pure" in my art and use raw wool. Far too smelly......the house smelled like a barn.
Felt is one of the oldest forms of fabric. Felting occurs when you add water, soap and agitation to wool. You ended up with a lovely soft pure wool fabric.
Anyone can felt. It makes a lovely project for children.
For one of my larger pieces, I made 12 felted "tiles".
All from a white Corriedale sheep.
Without using a stitch, only agitation, I created designs that I felted onto the back of my plain "tiles" that I have made first.
The dyes used in wool making can be toxic, so I like to create with natural colored sheep.
The textures create enough shadows and dimension, that color is really not necessary.
When working with natural wool and no color, the challenge is you have to create something with relief to make it anything at all. Far more difficult than working with colored wool.
Pattern is easier to create with color.
I challenged myself to use only one material and one color. Here I added some gorgeous lamb curls.
I mounted it on white, matted it white and framed it white.
It ended up being quite large. 4' x 3'. This piece was accepted into a juried art exhibition.
It is a very organic piece and process.
Here is is in our reading room. It has been resting on this table for 3 years. I am not sure where it will end up, so I haven't put a nail in the wall yet.
This is how I began. Wool roving layered, then wetted with olive oil soap and water,