When my husband and I were in the early stages of our relationship, still living in Vail, and I was headed off on a little island vacation with my mum for a week or so, he booked us a night in the Hotel Teatro here in Denver as a send-off. It was a terribly romantic gesture and one that swept me right off my feet.
The past few years have been busy ones for us, and we have had precious little time for travel, much less wanton nights in elegant hotels. But sometimes...sometimes you have to make time for romance. So a few weeks ago, I booked us a single night in the same hotel (even though it's now just a couple dozen blocks from our house) complete with a rose petal turndown. We had a nice dinner in Lodo, spent the night on piles of down, and left early in the morning to resume our busy lives. But Q was mad about the rose petals, and it was a nice reminder that there's always time for a little romance even if you have to squeeze it in. The color photos are from our recent stay, and the black and whites are from that first night that Mike and I spent at the hotel, some nine years ago. Just a little trip down memory lane.
My mum recently sent us a little book she'd printed of photos from the course of her life. She had been going through attic files of photos, and had discovered many that we haven't seen or remembered for years. There were many powerful photos in this book, but right now I need to post this wonderful shot from the opening page. This must have been just shortly after she and her parents came to the USA. I believe that my grandfather must have taken this photo, because he was always a talented and sensitive photographer. I love everything about this shot - the composition, the dress just a little too short for her growing frame, the wonderful thick braids with their ribbons, the bare, girlish ankles, the walk. My mother has always had so much more of the Dutch than the French in her, even though she is genetically equal parts of each. She came out Dutch in looks, coloring, figure and temperament. It's interesting.
That fascination with genetics that I think we all harbor gains an extra facet for those of us who parent adoptive children whose genetics we will likely never know. I feel for our daughter, that she will never be able to make these comparisons. I know it will cause her pain and angst at some point in her life. She may never understand that this genetic cocktail is a mystery to all of us. She will probably always regret that she doesn't know her own. She may even believe that this kind of family knowledge would have been the magic key that would open up the vast mystery of her own self-knowledge. And that is a very real and tragic concern.
Still, I have to wonder, do any of us - even those with a comprehensive family history - ever entirely know and understand ourselves? I am dubious. I love having little pieces of family history, but I also know that family history is subjective and interpretive. When I try to record a comprehensive version of my own, I quickly realize that every member of the family tells a different story, a slightly (and sometimes greatly) but appreciatively different version.
So, do any of us ever really know ourselves, our relatives, our history, our cultural heritage, and what it means? What do you think?
Yesterday on a blustery but hot April day, I took the day off from the studio, draggeed Q's toy bench out back, tarped and taped and set to work painting it. After a year and a half, approaching time for transitioning to a 'big girl' bed, I am finally working on redecorating Q's room. When we first bought the house, I painted my bathroom (which was on the "old" side of the house and very worn and decrepit) in patterns inspired by the wall paintings from African mud huts. I have always loved the way it turned out, and decided to draw from some beautifully-woven African fabrics for the patterns on this bench. I think it was a hit with the Q. As for me, it felt like a spring cleaning of the mind to crawl out of the depths of my studio, sit on a tarp in the sun, and just spend the day painting a piece of furniture. Now on to the rest of the room...I'm kind of excited to see how it turns out!
Corner view:animals! I thought about this post, and about the wildlife I'd have been able to photograph if we were still living in the highcountry. Then I thought about how I had promised not to do another "cat post"... Then I noticed Q's toy bench, early on a Tuesday morning with the sun pouring in all golden and magical over the sill. And I realized... I didn't need to look far afield. Here is Q playing with her little menagerie of animals, which spend most of their time lined up neatly on the windowsill, just under the edge of the shade. Now and then, they are brought to life by the imagination of a little Q who, on this day, looked particularly ethereal compared to her usual sporty (or unclad) self. In this light, she looks almost like a sprite that might bring these animals to life with a flick of her delicate wrist. Q took this picture of her menagerie herself, though I had to support the oversized lens with a finger since it's far too top-heavy for little hands. The latest addition to her collection is a much-beloved Steiff bunny that we found the other day while perusing the wonderful antique shops on lower Broadway. The Swiss lady who owns the store had a wonderful collection of Alpine paraphernalia, including a large selection of hand-carved wooden cows, complete with tiny collars and cowbells. She adored Q, and spoiled her with a plethora of sweet nothings, including chocolate eggs, an antique wardrobe key, and a vintage matchbox car.
Find more corner view posts via the lovely blogs of Jane and Joyce.
I sometimes try to imagine what Q will look like when she's older. These days you can see flickers of it in her, flickers of that willowy girl interlaced with her dimpling cheeks and baby giggle. I don't want to lose my two-year-old too soon...my hip-riding, squirming, shiny-cheeked, ever-grinning two-year-old who bugles her happiness to the spring sky. But it's sweet to imagine, now and then, what she will grow into. This illustration was inspired by those imaginings...
Imagine, if you will, a child who spent the first 12 months of her life confined to a crib (albeit a nice crib) with no access to the outside world. Then look at these photos again - her face turned up to the sun and the open sky. Our daughter had it better in her orphanage than most. And yet, our daughter rarely saw the outside world until the day of her adoption. So you can imagine the source of her joy and her sense of wonder. top: Stella McCartney for Gap Kids jeans: Gap