Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Love this time of year!

This is my time of year! Constant art fairs, constant time in the studio, pushing to make new work. Changing the display? No, leave it the same but add new touches. Quit trying to reinvent something that's working just fine. Get new postcards ordered to get them printed and out, advertising where I'll be. Trying to remember which I've sent, which ones need to be done and what about the e-mail blasts. Too many hot shows means the jewelry needs to be spiffed up between shows. Hot sweaty fingers and beautiful jewelry don't mix well and that doesn't even count the customers trying things on! Oh geez, what do I need to make next? Spread everything out and see where there are holes. Try to find a clean surface big enough to do this. Ordering supplies constantly and cursing when they no longer ship quickly which means I'm waiting, waiting... Do I have any clothing that is cooler than what I wore at my last show??? Do I do curtains or panels at my next show? Yup - love this time of year!!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sue Blandford 1929-2007

In a few hours it will be the 5th anniversary of my Mom's death. I was just going through some documents on my computer and found something called Mom2 and being curious, opened it up. It was the rough copy of the eulogy that my sister Karen gave at Mom's memorial service. She was chosen for this "honor" since she had a better chance of holding it together than I did! And she did a wonderful job, Mom would have been proud of her. Reading this over made me smile with remembering and cry due to missing her so much. Here it is...

"I was a teenager when a group of women held a roast to mark my mother’s ascendancy as the first woman President of the local United Way. One of the women, unknown to me now, told me something about my mom being perfect. Perfect. Well, yeah, I could she how this woman might think so, even if she was exaggerating just a bit. But her comment intimidated me enough that I could not get up and deliver my one joke about boys I dated being scrutinized about their donating habits – completely untrue, by the way.

But this woman saw my mom as perfect because for a woman in that time, she had it all. She was pretty and powerfully smart. She dressed very well, had a handsome and sweet husband who adored her, co-owned a successful business, lived in a beautiful home she designed herself, and had two children that had not been arrested. She was opening doors for women all around her – she was always the leader and had a lot of “firsts”.

But perfect?  Well, no.

My mother could not sing. She sang all the time, of course, but she couldn’t find the right key or keep from going flat for the life of her. But she loved to sing, and she did it anyway.  She would sing silly songs, road songs, and camp songs with my dad. He actually has a very nice singing voice, but he’d always sing along in the same style as my mom. Loud and joyful. Every birthday, my mom and dad would call around breakfast and bellow out the Happy Birthday song. It is our most precious birthday ritual, and we will miss her voice terribly.

Mom traveled the world, and often told me how lucky she felt for having the opportunity to do so.  When money was tight but love was plentiful, our family started camping. Many of my absolutely favorite childhood memories came from our family trips and travels. When money was less tight, Mom and Dad traveled not quite to every continent, but close.

So she traveled the world, but she could not find her way across town. She had the worst sense of direction of anyone I have ever known. If Mom said to go right, you knew you should go left. Dad equipped her with the best maps and directions. She did not let her total lack of direction stop her from going places, but she always had to leave extra time for getting lost. She was ahead of her time – the perfect customer for Mapquest and GPS systems before they were around.

She was a gourmet cook. She followed Julia Child’s career, and we spent many a childhood dinner trying the newest creation. She read Gourmet magazine and cookbooks for fun. For us girls, she made the cutest little salads that looked like mice using pears with clove eyes. She was inventive, healthy, and rarely made the same thing twice except the family favorites. But she was patient with Bon who wanted one meal a year, Thanksgiving dinner to be the same, year after year after year.

 One of my favorite gifts to give my mom when I was little was fresh watercress. She taught me how to identify it, and she knew how much I loved what we called fiddling creeks. The thing about watercress is that it grows in cold water. Really, really cold water. So I would bring it to her with frozen little fingers and she’d accept it as if it were the most precious morsel on earth, which perhaps it was.

She also canned foods, making jams and pickles and provisions for winter storms. She called it “keeping the wolf from the door”, and it worked. Who knew wolfs were adverse to pickled peaches?

Mom had a birthday a couple of weeks after I moved to Maryland. As her present, I boxed up a huge quantity of steamed Maryland Blue Crabs on ice, then hightailed it the 12 hour drive back to Michigan to surprise her.  We covered the table with newspaper in the shore tradition, got our little wooden mallets together, and started whacking crabs. At the end of the feast, my dad had a respectable mound of shells in front of him. My sister had no shells in front of her because they were looking at her so I had to pick her crabs, which made my pile was pretty big. Then there was my petite Mom, sitting behind an ENORMOUS pile of shells, licking her fingers. 

But was she a perfect cook?

No. There was one time – yes, just ONE time – that she oversalted the stew. She was disgusted and threw it out. And we’ve been teasing her about it ever since.

My mother dressed beautifully. She read Vogue and knew fashion, and although conservative in style, she was always fashionable.  I remember one day looking at two gowns she had bought for a major dinner party. They were the fanciest things I had ever seen – the skirts swished when she moved. When she got dressed up, I thought she was a fairy princess come to life. We’ll always think of  Mom when we smell Chanel #5

But there was another side, too.

We were up at Bayview once summer when Bon was little, and the Bayview School was having a “Dress Up Like Your Mother Day”. She had these really cool plastic high heels, all glittery and shiny. Right before she was to go, she broke the heel off one of them. She was in tears. Aunt Jeanne came to the rescue by saying “That’s OK honey, your mom always goes barefoot!”

She was a good – no a great – mom.  She sewed us matching dresses – much to Bon’s embarrassment and Kare’s delight. She read us stories every night. She helped us with endless crafts and in the care of a parade of animals. She packed picnics to the Lake and Townsend Park. When we skinned our knees, she would draw flowers on them in Mercuricome.

But was she a perfect mom? No. I can recall two times she made a mistake, and my sister, being older, can recall three. It would be impolite to name them here.

Our mother was a perfectionist. She set extremely high standards for herself, and met most of them. But one thing we loved about her is that those standards were for herself, and she did not impose them on us or anyone else.

She did not raise her daughters to be perfect – and she succeeded in that, since we fall far short of perfection.

So today we celebrate the life of our mother, the most perfect imperfect mom we could ever imagine."