Decoration Day – Full of Memories

I was a lucky kid, in that I got to spend lots of time with my grandparents and have lots of memories of them. One memory that is still vivid as an adult years later is the Decoration Day ritual.

I remember big black ants climbing all over my Grandma’s peonies. She planted lots of flowers and had what I would call a cutting garden, but I only remember peonies being ready for Decoration Day. The arrival of the ants was a sign that she would soon be cutting the flowers and our family would make the annual pilgrimage to the cemetery for Decoration Day.

As an adult I don’t remember whose graves we took flowers too. On that side of my family there were not many who served in the arm forces so suspect we just put flowers on assorted family member’s graves irrespective of if they passed away in service.

Grandma would create flower arrangements that were put in jars that had been saved for just that purpose from the goods we bought at the grocery. We would pile in to Grandpa’s oversized car, Grandpa, Grandma and whoever in the family had come for the day. I don’t remember much about the trip, if it was long or short. I could not tell you if we stopped at more than one cemetery, but I can clearly remember the jars filled with water and full of flowers to be delivered to honor loved ones. I can see the sloshing of the water and the rearranging of the flowers that my Grandma had so carefully selected with each bump and turn in the road. It was a moment of honoring those who were not there any longer. It was time for family. It was a passing of another season.

Thanks to Photo by marek kizer on Unsplash

I still think of the day as Decoration Day, even though in 1971 Memorial Day became a federal holiday. I remember the rituals that allowed me to spend time with my Grandparents. I think of all the servicemen and women who gave their lives for this wonderful broken country. I honor and thank them and their families for their sacrifice. I hope we do them justice in how we live our lives.

“On this day, take time to remember those who have fallen. But on every day after, do more; put the freedoms they died for to greater and nobler uses.” –Richelle E. Goodrich

My Identity – What I Did Not Pack

The time between when we close on our current house and when close on our next house will be a four, possibly five, months. On Thursday, the movers picked up our household belongings, and they are going into storage for the indefinite future. We will be keeping some clothing and select belongs with us in our little Ford Escape as we travel and visit friends and family. I learned that trying to figure out what I think I will need to have for my art supplies and what I will pack was one of the hardest things I had to do. It was more than high grading my studio supplies. I am not sure but I think it is a combination of my personality and my comfort level reflected in what I kept and what I packed.

It was hard to let things go into the packing box knowing I would not see them again for months. A friend of mine said that when I unpacked them it would be like finding friends again. This experience also serves as a reminder that what I have is a blessing of abundance. I got rid of supplies that maybe did not turn out to be my kind of creative. I also let go of supplies that I could not see myself using again. Sometimes we creatives try things and after making a few things it turns out to be “been there-done that-don’t need to do it again”. Supplies that fell into that category I allowed myself to let go of as well. I think we creatives tend to hoard things because we might want them again. It makes more sense to share with others, rather than discover several years later that the product is no longer usable. It took me weeks to slowly figure out what I thought I would not have “to have” for the next few months, what I would pack away and what was better served by giving it to someone else.

After may layers of packing I have finally come up with a very full satchel bag that will be my art supplies for the foreseeable future. In my bag you will find:

  • My good watercolor brushes in their case. There was no debate on these.
  • A custom watercolor pallet case with personally selected half pans and a swatch sheet.
  • NeoColor II – I debate long and hard between this and Inktense pencils. I chose this one because I thought it would be more flexible
  • A water soluble graphite pencil and sticks.
  • A collection of cube ink pads. It is a collection of Archival, hybred, and Distress inks.
  • 5 stamp collections
  • 5 stencils
  • Watercolor sketch book
  • Dyan Reavley small art journal
  • Small dot journal for daily journaling
  • My Mixed Media journal for my year long weekly art lessons
  • Two zip pouches of assorted materials that can be used for mixed media, classes, and art journals
  • Clear gesson
  • Small collection of soft pastels.
  • My pencil case with assorted pencils
  • My pen, watercolor, marker and other goodies bag.
  • Liquitex clear gesso

I was also allowed an art box of things that was fully enclosed for items that may not traveling the bag well. Here is what I selected:

  • Acrylic Paints – I picked an assortment of craft and art paints.
  • PVA glue
  • Stabilo pencils in black and blue
  • A black archival ink pad
  • Glue stick
  • Assorted pens, pencils water brushes
  • Gel matte medium
  • Lindy’s Magical and Shaker water colors
  • Prima metal wax
  • ratty craft brushes.

I would have to say there were two things I packed a day before the mover came that were actually the hardest to let go of but space prevented them from even being considered. I hated to let go of my sewing machine and my Sizzix cutting machine. They are two things I use all the time in so many of my creative endeavors. I hated to let them go and have already had occasions when I wished I had them.

If you had to use only a few of your many art supplies what would you keep out and what would you pack? Are there supplies that realistically you are not likely to use again and would better served by giving it to another person to use?

Emptying the Larder

Since I last wrote RangerSir and I have sold our home. It has been a ride like no other home sale we have experienced before when selling prior homes of all sorts, in many different states and locals. We will be having a closing on June 1st. One of the things we must do before that date is empty our larder because we will not be moving directly from one home to the next. Nor will this move be a local one. We will not be moving food. We must empty our freezer and cupboards.

I still make pies using the same rolling pin RangerSir and I found at an estate sale when we first got married.

After years of living without a grocery store just minutes from home, we developed a habit of having a well-stocked pantry and freezer. We bought our beef, pork, and lamb from a locally known rancher. We raised and butchered our own chickens. We stocked up on meat when it was on sale, so if tonight we wanted brats on the grill, it was possible without running to town by looking in our freezer. Our freezer was well stocked. If beans or can tomatoes were on sale in the 10 for pricing option, we stocked up so we could make chili if the day turned cold. Our full pantry always had lots of options available.

Apples and cranberries almost make something like a tart cherry pie.

This last year in the midst of COVID, a friend offered us apples. We accepted the gift and went about putting them in the dehydrator for snacks, and making enough apple pie filling that we could have a pie a month before apple season next year. I love cranberries and when they were in season, I bought multiple bags and froze them so I could make a salad, relish, or bread when cranberries were no longer in the store. I did not think much about this because 2020 had been such an unpredictable year. I did not know for sure if we would move or 2021 would be another year spent in Montana. COVID taught us life was a toss-up and anything was possible and any plans could be upended.

In 2021 we sold our home and found our moving plans for retirement back in play. Because of how the sale’s timing, it turned out we were short on time on our exit plan. We suddenly realized we had five month’s worth of apples, and bags upon bags of cranberries, and just weeks to use them up. I decided that I would make pies. I found a recipe for cranberry apple pie. I made five pies, mixing the two together in a pie mashup.

I’ve never made pies in aluminum foil pans before. I did not get the browning I wanted but oh they did make wonderful gifts.

I enjoyed making the pies. It took my mind off all the craziness happening with the sale of our house. I enjoyed more giving the pies away to friends. It moved me further along in the continuum of getting ready to leave behind our home of over 20 years. Getting rid of the items in my freezer allowed me to mentally start to move forward into the next phase of our lives and journies. Our larder is not bare, but I can see and hope that by the time our last day comes that there isn’t much left I will have to find a new home for.