Art Is the Big Yes

Eyes flutter open and poetic lines flitter across the barely wakened surface of my mind:

“Pray for mercy,

Pray for peace,

Pray for freedom’s
sweet release.

Pray for the day,
Pray for the night,

Never give up hope,

Or give up the fight.

Life may be shortened,
Life may be brief,
But most of us live longer,
Than our deepest of griefs.”

©Elaine Wood-Lane 8.5.14

The lines of the poem above did come to me this morning just as I described. I was not awake enough to write them myself. So, where does art come from? Why do we have moments of inspiration that seem to have no origin, but are as real as the air we are breathing? Is art something restricted to only the gifted or talented? Yes, but we’re all gifted or talented in some way!

Marvin Bell said, “Much of our lives involves the word ‘no.’ In school we are mostly told, ‘Don’t do it this way. Do it that way.’ But art is the big yes. In art, you get a chance to make something where there was nothing.”

Marvin Bell was a poet, but I think this applies to many things. Painting, drawing, graphic arts, photography, writing, music, cooking, writing code for software, inventing, homemaking, architecture, design, fashion, crafting, and on and on the list goes. My point is, we all create art in some form or other. Whenever you get out of the box and make something from nothing, you are an artist. You are fully alive. Art is, indeed, the big yes. Make a lifetime of somethings where, before you came to be, there was nothing.

“Wood Lane” by Claude Monet, 1876

The Family Rings

Have you ever started to write a story or tell a story and somehow it seems to fall flat? Maybe I was trying too hard.  I wanted to write  about when Grandma Gill gave me her mother’s ring.

Long story short (since I failed at the long story),  Grandma decided on one of our weekly Sunday afternoon visits that she wanted to distribute some of her things. This was in the summer of 1976.  Grandma was about 80 at the time.  I was 15, but still felt like a little girl when I was around my grandma.  Grandma was failing in health and mind and I guess she decided it was time. The first thing she took out was her jewelry box and out of that she withdrew her mother’s ring. She asked which of her daughters would like it. All four of them, Mary, Inez (my mother), Evelyn, and Doris were there. All of them were appalled Grandma was trying to give away her jewelry, especially her mother’s ring and all refused to take it! This hurt Grandma’s feelings mightily. She turned to me and asked me if I would like it. Seeing how hurt she was and feeling honored that she offered it to me, I told her I would love to have it if no one else wanted it. Mother was appalled because she thought it made me look “grabby.” Nonetheless, Grandma was delighted and put the ring on my finger. It was much too large and still is, but I love it and cherish it because it was Grandma Gill’s. I loved her dearly.

I also have a ring that was my second cousin, Cassie Price’s, ring. She never married and was like an aunt to me. When she passed away in her 80’s, her brother and his wife told me Cassie wanted me to have some jewelry of hers. I was one of the few people in the family with fingers as small as Cassie’s were, so I was given this lovely ruby ring, which I wear often.  I treasure it because I remember seeing Cassie wear it frequently. She was a lovely person. I only wish I could be as elegant as Cassie. She was the true definition of a refined lady.  I’m the true definition of a Texas tomboy I think!  (Please forgive this awful picture.  Not my prettiest hand shot, but an honest one.  When you work your hands as hard as I do, they tend to age quickly.)  

Family Rings

And now you know the story of two of the family rings!  There are other rings with more history, but those stories will be told another day.  I think I’ve blabbed on long enough for anyone!  Hug someone tonight and have a great evening!  

 

 

Happy Summer Solstice Saturday!

I don’t think Buddy understands me. I tell him, “Buddy, mama’s hot after vacuuming. I’m one big hot flash so I’m sitting in front of the A/C to cool off, alone, ok?” I sit down, take a sip of cold orange juice, and Buddy hops right up in my lap, stretches his hot little body out like Snoopy on his dog house and promptly falls asleep. *Sigh*. I must be super maternal or stupid because…I let him. I guess I needed some help resting after all. I just didn’t know it yet!

Happy Summer Solstice Saturday! Enjoy the longest day of daylight northern hemisphere!

Red Yarn

Red is the soft yarn,
Full of possibilities,
Warm cozy yarn love.

 

Life is full of possibilities every single day. We see and are given many beautiful gifts every moment, but often miss them because we are so focused on the past or the future or the pain of the present moment. When I look at a pretty, colorful skein of yarn, I see beauty and possibilities for creating and crafting a gift of love.

Embrace every moment in life. Look at the beauty around you that God has blessed you with. See the endless possibilities God has given you to show and give love.

Luk 6:38
Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

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Keeping Step

My daddy walked along
so fast and steady in his step,
while I skipped along
like a butterfly
just trying to keep step.

He went on walks for healing,
for you see, he nearly died.
I went on walks to be with him
and to see the clear, blue sky.

We walked along and talked along,
he tried to lead the way,
while I broke out with little dances
and delighted in the day.

Daddy’s feet were fifty five,
while mine were only seven,
but we both enjoyed the walk
each day,
it seemed a lot like heaven.

As our feet have carried us
through thirty years since then,
I have aged and so has he,
but I’m still trying
to keep in step with him.

D. Elaine Wood-Lane
7/30/99

My dad, L.D. Wood, about whom this poem was written, died on November 24, 2006. Although he is gone now, I still try to keep in step with him. He was a good man, a faithful man, and a wonderful father. He taught me about life, both the joys and hardships. He taught me how to maintain a car, do well on job interviews, get a boy to notice me, and how to approach emergencies and crises. He taught me how to stand courageously through tough times and how to laugh through tears. He even taught me how to farm cotton and how to treat animals, our earth and other people with respect and consideration. Most importantly, Dad taught me about Jesus and God, not only with the bible and the talks we had about them, but also by his quiet manner of serving others and his generosity of spirit. His footsteps through life followed Jesus’ steps I finally realized. When I was trying to keep step with Dad, I was also following Jesus’ steps. Even though Daddy isn’t here any longer for walks, he didn’t leave me alone. He left me with someone I can walk with forever…Jesus.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there today. I pray your influence on your children is as great and good as Daddy’s was on me.

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Memorial Day 2014

Memorial day…again. They seem to come so fast now. In the past, they seemed very far apart, but one thing I’ve learned through growing older is that a year, as a percentage of the whole of one’s life, gets shorter and shorter as time goes by. There have actually been scientific studies on this very subject of time and space. I can’t quote them or any such thing, but I do know that I believe it’s true.

In the “old” days some 30+ years ago when I was young and very young, we had developed a fun tradition of going to Joe and Evelyn’s house for summer holidays like Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. Joe loved to grill meats of all kinds, primarily beef, of course, because we are Texan, after all. These warm weather holidays were the perfect excuse for the Wood family in Texas to get together, cook, eat, visit and laugh together. I always enjoyed these gatherings because Joe would get into storytelling mode and, although he repeated some stories, usually there were new stories to hear and enjoy. I also enjoyed being around my nieces and nephews, my sister-in-law, sister, parents and whoever else happened to come by. This tradition abruptly died on a cold Christmas Eve in 1986, however, when my brother Joe was killed in a terrible car wreck. Four months earlier to the day, August 24, 1986, my older brother John had died of cancer. 1986 was a rough year to say the least, but that’s not my point. You know that song called, “The Day the Music Died?” That’s the way I felt in the summer of 1987. We had lost our tradition in one fell swoop when Joe was killed. We lost the cookouts, we lost the stories, and we lost our joy for a while.

Memorial Day, 1987 was the first year that the hundreds of tiny American flags on graves in the cemeteries really came to represent real people who had fought for our country so that we could have freedom, traditions, happy family times and…a way of life so rich and full. I went to the cemetery that year and saw the flag on Joe’s grave. Joe had been in the Army and had fought in Vietnam, you see, so he was one of those flags. I knew there was another little American flag flying in place on my brother John’s grave in California too. The pain was great that Memorial Day of 1987. So much had been lost, but through that pain, so much was gained. I gained a greater insight into what Memorial Day was really all about. It was about remembering and honoring those brave people who had served in the Armed Services of the United States, both in war and in peace. It was about not letting the lessons learned from the war and the peace slip away so that they won’t have to be repeated.

Fast forward to Saturday, May 24, 2014. Alan and I and our friends, Becky and Paul, had taken a drive in the mountains. We had seen the purple mountains’ majesty topped with new white snow. We had seen the fruited plain below. We had seen all manner of American citizens throughout the day. We had even taken a tour of the South Park History Tour that told about the miners, the farmers and the ranchers who had first come to Colorado. Then, on our way home, we came up Wilkerson Pass, which is a lovely drive. We stopped so our friends could see the Collegiate Mountains in the distant west, which are absolutely stunning. We got out of the car and realized there was a table set up in front of the Visitor’s Center. The sign in front of the table identified the people there as members of the VFW, Veterans of Foreign Wars. A man and his wife were manning the table and were offering free coffee and homemade cookies to guests. Of course we stopped by (you never pass up free cookies, right?). As I was speaking with the man, I learned he was in the Vietnam War. I responded, “My brother Joe was in Vietnam too.” The man immediately reached behind him and grabbed a button and handed it to me.

Vietnam Vet button

As he handed the button to me, he said, “Give this to your brother the next time you see him and tell him thank you for serving.  It’s important that we remember all veterans, but especially those of Vietnam.  We didn’t get remembered for a long time you know.”  I choked up and couldn’t speak for a moment.  I couldn’t find the words to say my brother was no longer alive.  I finally managed a thank you and also thanked him for serving our nation.  We shook hands and, as I couldn’t say another word without weeping, I hurried inside to the Visitor’s Center.

This simple interaction reminded me, once again, what Memorial Day is really all about. It is about remembering and honoring those brave people who have served in the Armed Services of the United States, both in war and in peace. It is about not letting the lessons learned from the war and the peace slip away so that they won’t have to be repeated.

Our family has many people who have served in the military.  My uncle, Clyde Gill, served in the Marines during World War II.  My brother, Joe Wood, as previously mentioned, served in the Army during the Vietnam War.  My brother, John Wood, served in the Navy during the Cold War, but thankfully saw no conflict.  I have several nephews who have served in the military:  George Cummings, Curtis Wood, Ray Wood, and Jesse Wood.  Now it’s a new generation’s time of serving and I have great-nephews serving:  Jhett Wilcox and Jacob Wilcox.  I’m proud of all these men and am thankful for their service and for all the million others who serve or have served in our military.  The next time you see a United States flag flying, think of all those who served in winning our freedom and defended our freedom.  Think of all the men and women who are serving now.  Don’t just see this as a day to carry on a tradition of barbecuing.  See it as a day to remember.

 

Joe in Vietnam
Joe in Vietnam

John D. Wood, Seaman
John D. Wood, Seaman in the U.S. Navy

 

May 11, 2014 MOTHERS DAY

I meant to write a lot today.
I didn’t, but
I meant to say,

Thank you God,
for my wonderful,
funny, impatient,
brilliant, beautiful,
sweet Mother.

Thank you God,
for the sweet, perfect
bundles of joy,
you gave me to hold,
to love and cuddle,
to teach how to play,
but to stay out of most puddles.

Now Mother is gone,
and my boys are
so grown,
but I’m still so
grateful for the love
I’ve known.

It’s not over yet,
my life is so full,
of love, of joy,
of blessings from You.

Elaine Wood-Lane

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