Sunday, July 31, 2011

More of Jackie's art

As you can see Jaxx had many talents. Sewing, crochet, collage, all the mixed media things so many of us love. She likes to add beads and odd twigs and things which incorporate her love of color and nature.

Weather and such

Every day Jackie and I would compare weather. Usually it is breezier here. Often she gets more rain there. We are less than 75 miles apart distancewise and both in the valley, but these little differences affect our daily lives. We waited so long this year for summer to come, for the dreary rains (which we needed) to end so we could putter in our gardens. Well, puttering time is here. I can be outside, while Jackie is not able to get up at all now. But, I will think of her when I'm in my garden. As I always think of my parents, and Verna Mae. And Frank and Ray and Jodi.

Year before last, my granddaughter had a Halloween party in my garden and I painted some ghosts on discarded fence boards. This year we had to cover the little gaps in the fence where my dogs and the neighbor dog like to fight it out. My grandson Trevor nailed the (recycled once again) ghosts over the gaps in one section of the garden. I put up a raised planter in front of it and put in some flowering plants. It's becoming one of my fav parts of the garden. To make the friendly ghosts less scary I gave them each a painted flower. I have two more gaps to cover and will have to paint more ghosts! This is going to be my little memorial garden. I need to paint one for Verna Mae with a tomato on it. That was her specialty and also was Ray's. Hmmm.... My mother's has a purple flower . I should change it to her fav lilac colored rose. I associate my Dad with trees and garden tools. I think I'll lean the old pitch fork next to his ghost. Nathan helped me hang a couple strings of small Tibetan Prayer flags for Jackie.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Update on Jackie

I got an email from Jackie's husband today to tell me that she can no longer take phone calls. She is only barely awake when she get's her next dose of morphine and doesn't respond to anyone most of the time. She is slipping away. It is sooooo hard on her family. She is the one with the pain to manage, but they are the ones with the breaking hearts.

This is something Jaxx and I have talked about before. About how inhumane it is to keep a person's body alive when they have NO quality of life left. We would not do this to our dogs, or even to our worst enemies. She would get pretty riled up over this. Yet........ what can we do?

Here are a few pics celebrating her art and life. In one she is holding a secret scroll. The one with J behind the table is in Sac where a group of us gave a talk on altering books and book arts. She was so shy, it took a bit of coaxing to get her to do this, and she was so proud afterwards. It is so obvious to everyone that there is something special about her and her work. It was well received. Jackie is the one that really got me started carving my own stamps. She didn't need to buy special knives or products, she used what she had. These stamps were carved into a styrofoam scrap.

Tomato season in the Valley

When the tomatoes start to ripen there's no stopping them. Jackie and her husband grow them from seed. I'm sure they are enjoying the wonderful flavor of their tomatoes warm from the sun. I picked some strawberries again yesterday and ate them on the way upstairs. LOL They never seem to get to the table. My son Matt is a truck driver This is one of his busiest seasons getting those tomatoes to processing plants during the night hours.

I'm going to share a could pics of some birds that Jackie made today. Online friend Norma had posted some darling little owls someone made and sent to her, and they reminded me of Jackie's birds.

Friday, July 29, 2011

I'm so blessed, but mornings are hard

Every morning I would have a message waiting in my inbox from Jaxx. She gets us earlier than I do. Waaayyyy earlier. So by the time I'm getting started with my day, she's already had a morning walk, some garden time and even more. So, I usually start my day with carrying my old dog downstairs to the garden for his walk, then upstairs again, turn on my lap top and make my bed. Then I get my bowl of cereal and sit down at the computer to read what wonders J observed on her walk, and what her plans are for the day. What book she is reading, what movie they watched last night. The state of the garden. The neighbors chickens. The hummingbirds at the feeder. What they are going to have for lunch. What fun thing she might be going to do with Sophia.

Jackie takes such delight in that special sweet child. Sophia has been cradled in love since she was born. Everyone dotes on that child. Sweetness and goodness radiate from her. And Jaxx is her biggest fan. She paints with her, reads to her, helps her pick out tunes on the piano, etc. All things they enjoy together. Blowing bubbles, squirting water, watching seeds sprout. She says it is like looking at the world through new eyes, seeing things as Sophia sees them.

Then off and on during the day we'd check back in with each other. Usually at lunch time, and late afternoon, and last thing in the evening. I guess I never really thought about how much time we chatted away online. Sometimes it was just a few lines. An idea that struck us that we could share. I'm the one that is out and about, going to meetings, painting with pals, lunching with friends, etc. She could live that part of life through me. She particularly loved hearing about my dogs, my garden, my country place. Or trips to the beach. Or my new recipe sans salt. A new link to an art supply source, or a you tube tutorial. We shared the mundane parts of our lives. Troubles with ants in the kitchen. A scratch on the car. You know. Stuff.

I am so blessed having many friends. But, I miss my morning emails. This morning I got a lovely email from Roberta, and it was about Jackie. It made me cry, partly because what she wrote was so touching and beautiful, and also because I know I'll never get another email from Jackie. Mornings will never be the same.

Years ago, when I lost my aunt Verna Mae, I posted about her passing. How much she meant to me. One of the things Verna Mae taught me was the importance of keeping many friends. One reason is they enrich your life. Another one is - you don't want to be the last man standing. It is so hard to lose a good friend.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Puzzles in the art blog.

I just posted some photos of a collaborative puzzle we are working on in the Lodi Mixed Media group. I would have emailed Jackie when I got home to tell her all about our day and the peopleLinkthere that she knows. She likes to hear these things. Jackie is such a home body, one of my friends said she could not imagine not busily going many places. But, you know, Jackie and her family created a safe haven, full of love. That's exactly where she wanted to be in the center of her world. Her world includes Barnes and Noble, Panera's, her fav Chinese Food Restaurant, I can't remember the name, Starbucks, University Arts, Amazon for books, a yarn shop, the library, etc. A good full life, sans travel.

Once I talked her into taking a workshop with Anne Baldwin in her studio. Roberta Schmidt had asked if some of us from Sac wanted to go, so Sally, Jackie and I went together. It was an awesome experience, and far out of Jackie's comfort zone. I'm quite sure she surprised herself with the collage she made and how comfortable Baldwin's class was. Anyway we were given some Golden acrylics, and most of us gravitated towards the more intense colors. Jackie was the only one who used quite a bit of Titan Buff, which, once I saw it - is now one of my favorites. I use it all the time instead of white. Every time I reach for it, I remember that workshop and what we did there. Sally worked mostly with green that day. Funny the little things one remembers.

Later, Sally and I went on to take another Baldwin workshop at Art and Soul in Asilomar. Jackie could not be persuaded to leave her comfortable nest and travel to the coast.

Here are a couple pics of her art.

Art with Jackie

When Jackie came to her first meeting with the Mixed Media Artists of Northern California group, she brought some show and tell. I remember she was carrying a purse that sported yarns of brilliantly colored strips of sari silks. That wasn't for show and tell, but we all oohed and aahhed over it. Four little spirit dolls were something she brought to share. Two of them she gifted to me later, and they live on my covered deck, overlooking my garden.

The other pics are a bowl made of sari silk yarn and wires, and an envelope construction she made later on. I just wanted to share them here.

When she got home from her first long hospitalization, and faced chemo head on, she wanted to make art but found it too taxing. The one thing she could do was sit and fold, so she learned to make origami cranes. Her goal was to make 1000 which would give her good luck and hopefully help her heal. Suzanne, of the Lodi Mixed Media group, sent her a package of papers and other things to help her with her crane project.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jackie's Philosophy

Jackie and I both have a fairly simple philosophy of life. Sort of don't sweat the things you can't do anything about, and count your blessings every day even on days when it's hard to see any blessings. And do whatever you can to help someone who needs help. We talked a lot about life and it's meaning, and I've been so blessed to call her a friend, a sister. I'll miss her honest, straight forward, down to earth, common sense approach to life. She kept me grounded when I was off on an art tangent. She's the one that said, slow down. Get some rest. We often talked of the aging process and how we didn't like it, but we both are into letting life take us where it wants us to go. No botox. No face lifts. Just let ourselves age as gracefully as possible. We talked a lot about health, and this year of course the facing of cancer. Jackie didn't really believe in doctors. But now she does, even though they could not stop the cancer. She sent this to me in May when she was still having chemo and getting ready for surgery. We always knew this was an uphill battle and some of our friends have shared her journey quietly in the wings. This is for you. I thought you might like to see this. It is sooooo Jackieesque.

Post cards from Jackie

Jackie was always ready for an art challenge. When I got into post cards again she was right there sending some to me until she was too ill to do it. The picture of her is at one of our annual Christmas teas, and of course, she is smiling.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Collaborating with Jackie

A few years ago Jackie and I began to collaborate on art pieces. First it was small books of poetry, that we used the "found text" method to isolate words that would form thoughts on the printed page. Then we would use various techniques to paint the pages, or add some form of art. We usually had two books going at a time, one at her house and one here. When we got together we would swap. We had no rules as to how many pages to do each time. And they didn't need to be consecutive. Just work on the pages that inspire you, was the plan. Here are some samples of her work.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Jackie's garden

One of the big things in Jackies life is her garden. Her husband made a greenhouse a couple years ago, and they have really enjoyed ordering seeds in the winter, planting them in flats and watching them sprout and grow. Her garden is full of fun things too. Things she makes. It's colorful and interesting with a mix of flowers, veggies, and ornamentals.

This is a real common ground for our friendship. We exchange seeds and plants when we can. She has my borage growing in her garden, and I have two of her sunflowers about to bloom in mine. She has always been interested in what I'm doing in mine, as I am with hers. She and Barry have a lot more success with veggies than I do.

It has really distressed her that she does not have the energy or strength to garden now. In fact she can barely leave the new bed that the hospice people brought in for her. She will never read these posts or leave me comments again. Those things are not important now. All that matters is that she is comfortable and surrounded by her loving family. I asked Barry if I, or any of her friends can do anything to help. He answered that he is being selfish. He wants to care for her himself, with the help of the daughter. It is as she would want. And they are of like minds. He says they have known each other for 63 years and married for 44 years. True blue, like the borage plant shown above.

Let's leave the sick room and go poke around in her garden. Here are some pics.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Jackie - smiling faces

Jackie has an open infectious smile. She also has a grandson and two wonderful granddaughters; they live just a couple doors down on the block. Emily is now a young mom herself. Sophia was a late comer - huge surprise to their family, coming just as her older brother was graduating from high school. Having a new family member was a profound blessing and source of joy and wonderment for Jackie.

Sophia was born at home with the family present. It's a natural way to do things, with a midwife. Jackie is a "natural" woman. No hairdressers. She has naturally curly hair. No manicures. No frills, or shopping manias. If she is comfortable in slippers that's what she'll wear. But she never goes anywhere without her smile.

Living so close, Jackie and Sophia are very close. Jackie introduced Sophia to gardening, to painting, to music, etc. Sophia inherited J's cheeks and her smile. Here they are. (that's our friend Bobbi behind Jackie)

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Jackie moment

I'm having a Jackie moment.

I had lunch with Sally, Nancy and Eddie today and then went to our local art museum to see the Salvador Dali exhibit - his works based on Dante's Divine Comedie. It was awesome to see it in such close up detail. we could put our noses to the glass - which I almost have to do to see the subtleties well. After I came home, I thought - I want to share this with Jackie. I would have emailed immediatly to tell her about the colors, the amazing images, and she would be answering back with things she had seen of his that she liked or disliked.

I talked to her this morning on the phone and won't call again until tomorrow morning. She really perked up when I told her we were going to see Dali's work in person. It will give her something else to think about while she's lying there dosing off and on. After all you can't think about dying all the time. Jackie has never taken herself very seriously. She always has a smile ready to light up her face.

If she were able to, this is about the time we'd be sending back and forth lists of thing in life we will NOT miss when we are gone. We already know what we would miss. Pretty soon we'd be joking and laughing. She will never have to clean another toilet. At one time in her life she was a property manager for apartments. Good gosh the horror stories she could tell. She won't have to listen to car radios blasting and booming from a block away.

On the other hand, she will not see whether the beavers were able to rebuild their dam after the last rains. Some years they have to rebuild time after time. This was always a source of wonder to her. This year was the rainiest and longest winter season we can remember, and she was unable to watch them. We needed some computer wizard to come set up a virtual camera there so she could watch from home. But, wizards are hard to find. LOL