Thursday, August 27, 2009
On this night I asked my Mom what she was thinking of for our art project. Here is how the conversation went.
Me: "Have you thought of an art topic for tonight?"
Mom: "Hmmmm, maybe lonely, or missing you."
Me: "I can paint that."
"And what would you like to say about that?"
Mom (giggling, because she isn't usually this direct): "I don't want to say I HATE it..maybe dislike, no...wish it were different." "I don't like you living so far away."
I decided to paint these little dots that represented me and my Mom. Sitting in dots about the size of our two states, on a world that showed only us. Tonight is the night before my Dad gets a sudden heart procedure, nothing like two big things making me wish I was in RI right now.
On this night my Mom asked for a painting of a pool with people around it. I managed a painting of her parents' pool. Which she misses swimming in very much. I somehow got her in my Non and Pop's pool about 10 years back. Their yard is all cement and colored stones, and stairs (8 to the pool). The last time I took her to the pool, she could walk further with her walker and I could get her up and down stairs alone. I remember trying to figure out how to, get her close to the pool with leg brace and a bathing suit, how to get her to sit on the ground so to lift her in the pool. I remember feeling very smart and proud for a second and then realizing I wasn't positive I could lift her out, or get her standing again should we manage that part. Luckily it all worked out.
My grandparents' pool is a paradise. I'll still owe my Mom her a painting with the people around the pool, she is very social, this must be the pool lonely without her.
I am always so happy to hear that before my Mom was wheelchair bound, she got to ride horses, all over Warwick, back when it was farm land and not a big set of malls. I asked her for a topic on this night and she started telling me the story of riding horses. It's one of those stories that a loved one tells over but over and you don't really mind. This project, has me asking some new questions and getting some new details on all the stories.
Here is the story, "I used to ride horses with my friend Chris, she lived by the Crow's Nest and we would ride over where Apex is, back then, there wasn't anything there." Nonnie didn't like her though and made me stop being friends with her. She ended up becoming a nurse, so how bad could she be?"
I wonder how bad anyone could be who rode horses with a girlfriend.
My mom explained tonight that they also used to ride down to Goddard Park along the train tracks. She thought the horse was brown.
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
This is Day 7 of the mother/daughter collaboration. What I hadn't told you was that for the first 6 days, my mom was completely depressed and not really wanting to continue living. Tonight, I called and she was, "Happy Patty," as my Dad calls her. I'm sharing this now because my Mom asked me to document how she was depressed and now she is "up." I'm not exactly sure when it started, but for at least 4 years, my Mom has had to deal with cyclical depression. Almost like clock work, her disease has her depressed for 2 weeks and then up for 2. It's something we still haven't gotten used too.
Tonight when I mentioned her needing to give me my topic of inspiration, she said happily, "Hmmm, a topic?" She thought about her first dog, Sandy, and then excitedly said, "Let's go back to the diner days." This is when she was a teenager and my Aunt Lou and my Grandparents had restaurants on the same street in North Kingstown, RI. "Your Aunt Lou's Restaurant was a gold mine, and your Grandmother closed her's down after a year, because she didn't want to compete with her sister."
I used to dance as a kid in my Aunt Lou's Restaurant (The Dutch Door), and customers would buy me gifts. My Aunty Lou would take me to the beach to fly kites and to Goddard Park to ride ponies and leave my Mom and Non working. It was awesome.
I have no memories of my Grandparent's diner. All I know is that it was called the "Kingstown Diner," (thank you again google image search, this may be the actual diner) and my grandpa was the chef, he had an oyster bar and clam cakes and chowder for the beach goers, and from what he says, a bunch of house wives would drop off their empty pots in the morning to be filled by him with dinner for the night. That way their husbands would think they had been cooking all day. He loves telling that story. Based on this diner website, diners were actually invented in RI, to feed blue collars working the night shift.
I told my mom about the movie "Julie and Julia," she's up beat enough to want to get out of the house and see a movie. She said, "we should do a blog, then they could do a movie about us, you in Texas and me in RI." I said, "We are doing a blog." "That's great." she said.
Tonight, she was so loud with excitement on the phone that at one point after she said another, "That's a great idea." my Dad's ears perked up and I heard him say in the background, "What's a great idea? All great ideas go through me. " Those care givers are too funny.
Tonight, my Mom chose a bee. This bee is full and happy and napping on his flower.
We got talking about her API Therapy (bee therapy) that she and my Dad bravely tried/endured for 6 months. "It was crazy," she said. "You could hear the bees buzzing in the hall closet." My Mom had heard reports that being stung by bees could decrease MS symptoms, and for 6 months she was off all medication. My Dad would mark the spot to be stung with marker, put ice on the chosen spot and pull an unlucky bee from the jar with medical tweezers and place it on my Mom, the bee would sting her and die. My Mom mentioned storing the jar of dead bees next to the live ones, I'll have to check with my Dad on that one. I'd like to apologize to the bee universe on behalf of my whole family if that did happen.
One night my Mom insisted she could do it herself, she was home with my sister. I was living in NYC. She let all the bees loose, and as she says, "your sister wanted to kill me."
I thought for the first time, how sad a fate it is for the poor medicinal bee.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Day 5 of collaboration with Mom.
I called to tell my Mom we sold a painting (Dog Dreaming of Flight, collaboration day #2), she was excited and would take no credit.
Today's painting post, she asked for a painting of our family dog Fluffy. We talked about Fluffy and how he used to jump up in the back window of my Mom's Pontiac (thank you google image search). My sister and I were always without seat belts waving to the cars behind us, or swearing at the bad drivers in Italian (we didn't know we were swearing at the time). My Mom at her tallest was 5'1" and you couldn't see her head when she was driving.
This painting shows many things that I miss from childhood: my Mom driving us around, her playboy bunny grey t-shirt, our dog Fluffy, driving in a car with the windows open, cars without bucket seats, and metal bumpers.
My husband informs me that RI was behind the times with seat belt safety and that they did wear seat belts in the 70s in California.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
For today's art collaboration my mom said, "maybe a flower." I asked, "What color?" "Pink." she replied. "In a vase?" I asked because she was never that fond of flowers. "No, wild." she answered. So here they are wild pink roses, that happen to bloom by the beach in Rhode Island.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Before we moved to Austin, my family and I lived a few miles north of Narragansett Beach. It is my favorite beach. I learned to surf there at age 22. We were able to enjoy it for a while this summer, when we spent 3 weeks with my family in RI. This painting is done from a video still of the beach two winters ago. My husband and I had taken my daughter there to see snow on the beach.
My mom asked yesterday, on day three of her collaborating with me on this blog, for a beach painting. And thanks to her request, I've managed to paint a painting that I have wanted to paint for two years. It's of my husband and our daughter at the Narragansett Beach North Pavilion (a great spot to look for surf, by the break just south, off the pine trees.)
My mom as I've mentioned is mostly house bound due to her MS. I asked her why the beach? She said, "I miss the beach, and getting a tan." "The beach is one of many the things I miss."she continued. "Dad says I don't have olive skin any more, but I think I do." I told her I was sure she still had olive skin.
When I was young, getting a "nice tan" was almost a full time job for my mom, who is half Italian. As her MS progressed she had to stop any sunning, because when she got too hot, she would lose her ability to walk.
There are very few Italian Americans in Austin. And a few people here have commented on my olive skin. It has been a great compliment to this english watered down version of my beautiful mother. When I tell her folks down here think I have olive skin, she laughs.
Friday, August 14, 2009
It's day 2 of my collaboration with my mom in RI. Yesterday, she asked for bird art, later I learned she was imagining a flying bird. Today she asked for a dog, so I combined the flying birds with the dog. I think the dog is dreaming of flight as is my mom. Our dog fluffy lived till he was almost 19 years old, following my mom everywhere. They were very close and I'm sure he was staying alive to be with her because she had an illness. He died over ten years ago. My mom still got around with her walker then, but had already lost her ability to drive safely, so she was house bound often. Tomorrow, she has asked for the beach.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
I've decided to collaborate with my mom in RI on this art blog for as long as she'll agree.
My mom has only seen the internet a handful of times, so she may never see this, only hear of it. She has been ill with Multiple Sclerosis for 36 years, she was diagnosed while carrying me. She would tell you she can't draw, although I saw promise when teaching her a few lessons. I miss her terribly when I am in Texas. This collaboration is an attempt to connect with her on a new and meaningful way, while being 2000 miles away. Her disease has her feeling down this week, so all I could get her to agree to, was giving me a topic to work on. As we hung up the phone last night, she said, "I don't know, a bird?"
The bird I've posted is based on a description of a Japanese wood cut, that I cannot find an image of, so I've created my own image. I told my mom this morning that I illustrated a bird and how much I enjoyed her topic choice, she said, "Birds are beautiful, flying so free in the sky." She spends almost all of her waking hours in her wheel chair, sitting very still. I think I should paint her a flying bird. As for tonight's topic, she said quietly, "a dog?"