Best Shot Monday: Poignant

Kelly House Chickamauga

Love grows more tremendously full, swift, poignant, as the years multiply. - Zane Grey

Poignant: that is the word that popped in my head when I thought back on this series of photos last night.  The American Heritage dictionary defines poignant as "profoundly moving; touching: a poignant memory."  Given the news and silly story I shared with you Saturday, that's such a fitting description of this series of photos, the girls twirling in front of the Kelly House on the Chickamauga battlefield, taken during our visit with Aunt Livy about two weeks ago. 

We've visited my Aunt Livy in far north Georgia, just south of Chattanooga, the second or third week of August in celebration of her birthday for the past eight years.  Prior to that, Aunt Livy was in the Tallahassee area, so I was able to see her more frequently.  Her death has left me aching.  I should have been better prepared.  She was 92, after all.  But somehow, I just knew she was going to make it to 100.  She told me so.  Since she died in her sleep the night of her 92nd birthday, I guess she thought 92 was just right instead.  I doubt we will visit this area again; though they're all good memories made there, I think being there and not seeing her will be awfully hard. Poignant memories.

It's been fascinating watching how the girls are processing this. Olivia, Aunt Livy's namesake, has been crying at the drop of a hat just like I have.  I'll start tearing up again, causing her to start crying again. Or she'll start tearing up again, causing me to start crying again.  Sarah, on the other hand, has not shed a tear that I'm aware of.  But what she has done has been incredibly touching.  She's taken care of me and Livvie.  After I told the girls about her death Saturday afternoon, Livvie curled up in a ball on the couch and cried.  I layed down with her, and we stayed that way for nearly three hours. During those three hours, Sarah brought us Tink (most definitely Livvie's cat), Elmo (Livvie's favorite lovey), and for me, Bunny. Yes, Sarah gave me her precious Bunny to snuggle with.  She covered us up with one of the throws on the couch. She then went downstairs and went to work in my studio, making necklace after necklace for us in hopes that would help us feel better.

Livvie really didn't leave my side much until I dropped them off at school this morning.  At dinner Saturday night, she brought a very small, old doll to the table with her, one of my childhood toys. She said it reminded her of Aunt Livy, so she wanted to make it our Aunt Livy doll. She's kept it with her ever since. She slept with me Saturday night, and while she was taking a shower with me yesterday, she asked me about the funeral we will be going to Thursday.  What should she wear?  What shoes should she wear?  This is truly the first family death they have experienced. And I guess maybe since Olivia was named after Aunt Livy, she felt a stronger bond to her than Sarah did. I learn more and more about these wonderful girls every day.  I'm so thankful that Aunt Livy got to know them and they her. I was so blessed to have her in my life all these 47 years.    

Saying Goodbye

Aunt Livy Kelly and Girls-72

I've had an incredibly difficult day.  This morning, I learned that my dear friend Carolyn passed away yesterday afternoon after a long, hard-fought battle with cancer.  We had an event on campus today, so I had to work. Carolyn was a long-time employee of the College who ran our Outdoor Center.  She taught me much about the critters in the woods, she taught me how to dance like Elvis, and she taught everyone how to laugh at themselves.  She was incredibly funny, incredibly strong, and will be missed by many.

When I got home from work today, I got the news that completely knocked me down. Benny had to tell me that my Aunt Livy died in her sleep last night. For those of you that have been reading this blog for any time at all, you know how close my Aunt Livy and I have always been.  She has been my rock for as long as I can remember.  She's been my family history, with me through the deaths of my mother and my grandmother, her sister.  I inherited my love of photography from her and have many pictures that she took of me as a child.  She even taught me how to play poker, at seven years old! Yesterday was her 92nd birthday. This photo is of Aunt Livy, my girls and me two years ago.  My Olivia (Livvie) is named after her.

I think I've shed all the tears that I can shed for one day, so I want to tell you a funny story.  Less than two weeks ago when the girls and I were up visiting her, we took her out to dinner one night. She wanted to go to Steak 'n' Shake.  For dessert, we all ordered milkshakes.  Let me tell you, Aunt Livy loved that milkshake, said it was the best one she could ever remember having.  But you know what she loved even more?  The Steak 'n' Shake glass it was in.  When her shake was about half gone, she whispered across the table to me, "Do you think they'd mind if I took this glass?"  Not realizing what she really meant, I told her I'm sure we could get her a to go cup. She just winked at me. For the next couple minutes she casually wrapped several napkins around her glass, taking sips of her milkshake in between. Then it dawned on me. She didn't want a to go cup! She wanted that glass! As we got up to leave, her glass in her hand, I helped her to the door.  One of the employees was standing at the door holding the door open for us, and he clearly saw the glass in her left hand (she was a lefty like me), as I held her right hand to steady her walk. When he looked at me, I gave him an apologetic look, but he just looked at the two of us and grinned and said, "Ya'll have a great night now."  Once we were back in the van, Aunt Livy worked on finishing her milk shake. "This is just so good.  And I just love the way this glass fits in my hand."

I told my cousin Ray that story earlier this evening, and he couldn't believe his mama stole a glass from Steak 'n' Shake.  Then I asked him, as silly as it sounded, if he would look for that glass in her room and send it to me and the girls. I'm so incredibly thankful that in addition to all the amazing memories I have with this amazing woman, that that is the one she left me with, for she has always been able to make me laugh. You can read other posts that include Aunt Livy here.    

Best Shot Monday: Chickamauga 2013

Chickamauga 2013a-72

What a difference three years make, huh? While we were up visiting Aunt Livy last week, the girls and I went back to the Chickamauga Battlefield and walked down the same path I shared with you in last week's Best Shot Monday, taken three years ago this week. Yes, for those of you who see us on a regular basis, Bunny is still alive and well (though very threadbare!) and still travels just about everywhere with Sarah.  Today is the first day of school, 5th grade!, and Bunny is sitting in the van waiting for Sarah to come home.

Have a Best Shot you'd like to share?  Post the link in the comments!  
Chickamauga 2013b-72

Best Shot Monday: Chickamauga

Sarah and Liv 2010 Chicamauga

This picture is actually a flashback, but I've never posted it on my blog before. This is Sarah and Olivia on the Chickamauga Battlefield just south of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and this is where we are today.

There's so much I love about this picture: the movement, the bright orange against all that green, the path trailing off into the distant trees, the smallness of my girls.  I have such vivid memories of that day. We were up visiting my Great Aunt Olivia, as we are now, but on this year, we had a crowd; my sister, her husband and baby girl, my husband Benny, and my Dad were all there.  But mostly I love it for the reason we were there: Aunt Livy. She's 92 this month, and we've had a very special bond since I was a child.  Funny, I just came across a picture my cousin, five years younger than I, posted on Facebook of Aunt Livy holding her as a baby; my Aunt Livy is her Granny. I had commented on how much I liked the picture, and she responded that, while she laughs about it now, she used to get mad at how much more attention her Granny would give to me when we were both children.  I never realized that!

I've always been very blessed to have this wonderful woman in my life. I hope you have someone like that too.

Spiral Journal Spread 10: Believe

Spiral Journal Spread 10

What a train wreck this started out as! Here's my process for this page. I've been using blank journal pages as off sets for extra paint or reverse prints of stencils just to get some back ground in. This spread actually started out with some smudgy reverse lettering left over from this spread. Initially I had hoped to keep it, but oh well!  I started out dropping some paint on each page, purple, and then spread it around with an old credit card.  From that, I completely lost my stenciled reverse letters. 

I laid down some scraps from my "sidekick" from Orly's class; you can see a couple pieces of that across the top left, that purply gold scrap... That wasn't working for me so I grabbed the nearest stencil I had (picked up at The Ink Pad while I was in NYC!) and some deep blue paint and tried a little of that around the edges.  When I lifted the stencil and saw how messy it was, I just spread it out with the credit card. One little bit of coolness that came out of that is what appears to be a silhouette of a man near the middle right bottom.  See him? 

I needed to lighten that up, so I grabbed some white gesso and some punchinella scrap that was laying next to me and lightened up the sides (are you getting the picture that my studio is an absolute disaster with scraps of stuff everywhere? they do come in handy though). I added some spray mists in greens, yellows and blues and finally started liking it.  At that point, I had to believe it was all going to work out, and I added just the "Believe." The yellow flower in the top left was from a rose stencil and yellow spray paint (which I sprayed inside...I'm typically too lazy to go outside if I'm just planning on doing one little spray).  I let all that sit for the night and then came back to it last night.

I did a little black pen work, added in some shading on the yellow rose with some oil pastels and added my flower on the left. That flower, here, is cut out from one of my mounted photos that I scratched at a show. Find a use for everything!  :-)  What started out as a train wreck ended up as something I'm really happy with.  Believing it will all work out is not only a good lesson in art; I've found it's also one of the best lessons in life. 

Best Shot Monday: Meet Dudley

Dudley, Pitt Bull mix

I was going through my ACPS Flickr album recently and realized I've photographed more than 600 animals for ACPS since I started volunteering there.  And even with that, that's only a drop in the bucket compared to the number I'd be photographing if I were able to photograph every adoptable animal that comes through their doors. 

But amazingly, when I photographed Dudley this past Friday, the moment he looked into my eyes and I made that first click, I was positive I had photographed Dudley months and months ago.  Sure enough, when I got home, I went back through my files and found this original photo. Once I saw it, I remembered why I remembered Dudley so clearly.  The photo above is one of my all-time favorites, and it's Dudley in November 2012.  He just seemed to be speaking so clearly to me: you must find me a home. 

Well, we did find him a home, but unfortunately, now eight months later, they brought him back. That breaks my heart for him.  He's a sweet boy.  I never know why animals are surrendered.  I can understand a military deployment as we are in a military town, but just deciding you don't want a dog or cat anymore just blows my mind.  I simply can't imagine it.  We've been having marking issues with Tink lately (and I can now attest that you truly can wash the down-filled covers on your Pottery Barn sofa...), but that doesn't mean I'd ever give her up.  Hopefully, sweet Dudley will feel the true love of a family again soon. Until then, he'll be in my prayers.    

August Free Bling!

August 2013 Free Bling

Time for Free Bling Friday! picked comment number eight for July, so congrats to BriAnna from Resaca, Georgia, for winning my July Free Bling.  Resaca is very near where my Aunt Livy lives in Rock Spring, Georgia!

How about some pretty peridots for August?  Here I've combined peridot crystals with pewter beadcaps and sterling silver findings.  To enter, visit either of my Etsy sites (here for jewelry and here for photography) and leave a link to your favorite item in the comments along with your location and a way to reach you by midnight Thursday, September 5. Want more entries? Tweet, blog or Facebook this giveaway and leave another comment with the link. The next winner will be drawn via Friday, September 6.

Don't want to miss a single Free Bling Friday? Click here to sign up for free weekly email updates or subscribe in the reader of your choice over there in the right column. And be sure to like my Facebook page or sign up for my monthly newsletter on my website here for specials. Thanks for stopping in!