(Don’t worry, s/he was a little critter, about three feet long head to tail. More scared of me than I of her.)
I ended up going to my cousin’s house at Lake Waccamaw on Thursday afternoon, after a stop at Mama’s house to pack up some of her art supplies, including many very nice watercolor technique books, and to assess the room and make a plan. The whole house is a nightmare to think about – every closet packed, every drawer and cabinet stuffed to the gills, every space under every bed used for storage. We will have plenty of time to clear it out, probably, since it is in a difficult area to sell a house. I decided to focus on the back bedroom that also served as her studio, since I will probably take most of the furniture in that room for my own house and I’m the only practicing artist in the immediate family.
Part of the problem is that we can’t just toss stacks of old paper or magazines without looking through them. There are buried treasures to be discovered, such as photos, my grandmother’s ration books from WWII, my father’s bronze star. In the bottom of one drawer that was mostly full of junk, I found a manila folder with papers from my childhood, mostly handmade autograph books which were all the rage in the 4th-6th grades. I took four stuffed boxes to the lake with me and poked through them, throwing out most of the ballpoint pens, the paintbrushes with no more bristles, the instructions for things long gone. I kept watercolor paints, watercolor paper, fabric scraps, and many brushes, exacto knives, ink and ink nibs. I will need to do better with the purging. Most of the books will go to the used bookstore.
In the back of my sixth grade autograph book, I found an entry from my Grandmother Jones, who I shared a bedroom with and I adored. I wept with joy. I don’t have anything else in her handwriting addressed directly to me. I also laughed to read Art Britt’s wish that the bird of paradise build a nest in my nose. Art was the class clown and his sister is now my sister-in-law. It was a time when children would ladle out the insults and then say Ha ha. Apparently I was both ugly and pretty, sweet and mean, always smart and nutty, already boy crazy. One girl told me that she liked me but she couldn’t stand to hear me laugh. Huh? One boy told me that I was his favorite girl in the class, but I apparently didn’t take it to mean much then. Six years later we shyly went to the senior prom together, after being pushed together by a mutual friend.
Anyway, once I got to the lake, I was able to get some peace and solitude and it was very healing. Not having to worry about anybody else’s wishes or needs or questions, what I was going to eat, when to sleep, etc. I cried when I needed to instead of choking it back. I wove my tapestry on the screened back porch and read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I swam a little and ate dinner at my sister’s house a few houses down a couple of times. On Friday morning she and I drove to Lumberton and did some financial things related to the estate, then ate fried shrimp at Dale’s. I had planned to go back to Mama’s house on Saturday, meet my brother, then drive back to Greensboro. But on Saturday morning, I had just really been able to start relaxing so I called everybody, stayed another night, and slept well for the first time in days.
On Sunday, I wove this little duck feather piece on a piece of driftwood I found in the lake.