Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Junebug Art by Lisa Dawson

I have to give a plug to the artist behind this gorgeous piece of art, given to Junebug by my friends, sisters Kelly and Jackie. They commissioned it from a Long Beach artist named Lisa Dawson. I love it so much, and can't wait to watch JB grow up with her in her life. Lisa doesn't have a web site yet, but I will post when she does!

Lisa is hosting a "Make Your Own Art" workshop at The Kids are Alright in Long Beach on Wednesday, June 3rd. Click here for details!

Rest in Peace, Grandma Vada

My last grandparent passed away last Thursday, and the world lost a mighty force of nature. My paternal Grandmother, Vada Edith Marshall, just turned 96 years old and was, until the very end, one of the strongest people I could ever hope to meet. While her health was not great in recent years, her mind was as sharp as ever and she was fully lucid until her final moments. Eric and I raced to Dallas for a quick visit a few weeks ago, so she was able to feel the baby belly and knew she had another great-grandchild on the way (actually, two on the way, as Cousin Gretchen is also expecting!). We're all sad to see her go - but BRAVO! What a life! She made us all proud and I'm so happy knowing our little Junebug has a little piece of Vada inside her.

So, as I did when dear Grandma Norma passed two years ago, I've come up with a Grandma Vada Top Ten list. Here, in no particular order, are some great memories I have of Vada:

10. Her appearance at our wedding. I'll never forget when, the day before our wedding, my dad pulled into Austin from Dallas with Grandma in the car, and she had a hospital bracelet on her wrist. "Um - was Grandma in the hospital?" I asked Pop. "Oh yeah, Grandma had a heart attack a few days ago." WHAT?? Then Grandma said "Yes but I told the doctor that he had to let me go today so that I could go to my granddaughter's wedding in Austin." I think they literally drove directly from the hospital to our wedding site, three hours away. That perfectly illustrates Vada's resilience. Here we are just after the ceremony.

9. Videos of a younger Grandma - a hilarious memory I have of Grandma happened way before I was born. In a video my Grandpa shot while they were out somewhere in the country, near a river, Grandma is walking along a shady dirt path. There was camping gear and tents. But per Grandma's usual clothing preference, she was wearing a dress and pumps - I think she even had hose on. My mom told me even when Grandma would come to pool parties, she'd dip her feet in the pool with her hose on. Impeccably dressed, that Vada!

8. Her stories of childhood - I loved her stories of growing up in a small Kansas town. Since she was the oldest of the siblings, she got to ride her own pony to school, where her two younger sisters had to share one.

7. Going through her jewelry with her - as most Grandmas do, Vada had an endless array of jewelry she had collected over the years. In the last few years, as she was trying to get the grandchildren to "claim" some of her things, I told her I'd like to see her jewelry. So a couple of my visits were dominated by sifting through several boxes and suitcases of amazing old costume jewelry, and listening to her stories of their origin.

6. Sitting on her back patio - she was very proud of the fact that she never fenced in her back yard, and her back patio was such a fabulous, open spot for our frequent family gatherings. There she is on her patio in the top photo. This is a typical gathering with the cousins, for Grandma's 95th birthday last year.

5. Traveling to Florida with her when I was a teenager - she and I went to visit my Dad in, I think, 1985 in Vero Beach, Florida. I just remember having a great time with Grandma, although I was a little afraid of her driving. But walking on the beach with her was great.

4. Her flowers and fruit - Grandma had quite the green thump (which my Dad seems to have inherited, but appears to have skipped me). She always had the most amazing roses and other flowers and some veggies. She had great fruit trees too, and made some amazing jams with the fresh plums and other offerings from the trees. Dad has done a great job of keeping her little urban garden alive.

3. Her and Grandpa's 50th Anniversary - I so clearly remember Grandma and Grandpa's 50th anniversary party in 1984 (I think). I was so amazed at all of their friends and all of their amazing gifts. And I got to wear my first strapless dress - I felt very grown up and proud of having such a long marriage in the family. And Grandma looked so happy and pretty.

2. Grandma squabbling with my Dad - since my Dad lived with and took care of Grandma for the last 12 years or so, invariably The Dueling Marshalls would clash a bit, but it was usually just pretty hilarious to watch. Like when kittens pretend to swat at each other.

1. My last visit - Grandma's health took a rapid turn for the worse last month. The catheter for her dialysis was not working, and after surgery attempting to prepare it she had a couple of strokes. She was still lucid, but unable to walk, feed herself, or say more than a few words. So we made a quick trip, fearing this would be our last chance to see her. It was difficult to see her that way, but on my last visit of the weekend, I distinctly heard her say "How's Miss Cari?" when I walked in the room. I'm so happy that I could tell her that I was well, and that Junebug was on her way soon. It was a very intense reminder of the cycle of life - Grandma on her deathbed, while Junebug was squirming inside me.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Summer Solstice Party at the Garden

Who knows if we'll be able to attend this (since it's nine days after my due date), but our community garden is hosting what looks like a super fun Summer Solstice Party on Sunday, June 21 (also Father's Day!).

Artists, artisans and crafters, if you'd like to be a part of the Artisan Market (focusing on homegrown and handmade items), post a message and I'll let you know how. Hopefully we'll be in attendance with the Junebug (on the outside)!!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The Path Less Pedaled

Our friends Russ and Laura are preparing for a really incredible adventure: a pedal-powered project (aka: a really long bike tour) that will (hopefully) take them around the world over the next few years. WOW!

They're calling their project The Path Less Pedaled. Their web site is full of great information about the project, but right now they're trying to get rid of stuff and line up potential sponsors. Down the road (so to speak) they'll be looking for hosts/connections in sundry cities around the country and world, so my friends out there, be on the lookout, you know I'm passing along your information!

I love this concept so much! I'm so inspired by people who dream BIG - and then actually strive to make that dream happen! Even just reading about their process of getting rid of their stuff is so interesting. Russ is an awesome photographer, so this journey is going to be amazingly documented, I'm sure. Be on the lookout for this courageous duo!

Monday, May 04, 2009

"Grief Becomes Me" at the Art Theatre

This weekend we went to the premier of a very special film, "Grief Becomes Me." It's a bit hard to describe, but over the course of the last five years, filmmaker Christine Fugate has chronicled the life of our dear friend Donna Hilbert. Donna has had a rich and at times tragic life, and it all comes through so beautifully in her poetry. Christine uses Donna's poetry to tell her story, focusing on life, death and heaven. It is so beautiful, and after watching the project grow over the so many years, I am so happy for them that it is complete - and really wonderful!! They've submitted it to HBO and, I believe, sundry film festivals, so perhaps one day it will play near you. For now you can click here to read more about it.

The premier was here in Long Beach at the newly-restored Art Theatre. The city owes a huge amount of gratitude to Helen and Mark Vidor and their partners for lovingly restoring this old theater, and supporting small, independent ventures such as this. Here are Donna and Christine, with their film on the marquee!