Nancy, Janice and me
Yesterday my aunt Janice left this life behind. She had been on hospice for some time. In late June I had the great fortune of spending a week with her and my cousin Nancy in Medford, Oregon. Despite her immobility and and obvious challenges her spirit and spunk was as strong as ever. The sign on the wall behind us in the picture was written by my Aunt Janice. It says: GOD - Gratitude Overcomes Depression.
What a gift to spend time together. That connection can never be taken away from me. Her advice, which she repeated several times a day was, "You just have to be grateful for every moment of every day." I couldn't agree more.
My aunt, uncle and cousins in the 70's
my father and my aunt
During our last week together we stayed up late watching The Sound of Music and we watched her (2nd) wedding video which is 90% dancing. We looked through photo albums and reminisced. Our big outing each day was to the "veranda" (aka her back yard) where we would eat a meal and admire the flowers, clouds, or sunset. I played "chef" for the week and Janice wasn't afraid to tell me she didn't like some of my cooking. She owned a Baskin Robbins ice cream store for decades and loved sweets. We ate lots of ice cream.Although she remained friends with her first husband, her true love she found later in life: Miro. I got to hear about their trips to Slovenia together and their love of dancing. At night we would put her blanket in the dryer and get it all nice and toasty warm for her. Every time we put it on her she would start singing, "Heaven, I'm in heaven . . . dancing cheek to cheek"
. . . I can't say what happens when we transition from this life but I like imagining my aunt Janice's vision came true and she is now reunited and dancing with Miro. . . Thank you aunt Janice for your positive attitude, spunky honesty, zest for life, sense of humor, laughter and love.
Tomorrow my husband leaves for Russia. He will be gone for 2 weeks. In the 20+ years we have been together this will be the longest and furthest we have been apart.
He is going to Russia as part of the Fort Ross
/Kashaya Expedition marking the 200th anniversary of the 1st Russian settlement in the continental USA - which just happens to be in our neck of the woods. Sus (hubby) will be traveling with 24 other people to St. Petersburg, Moscow and Tot'ma
(the home town of the founder of Fort Ross). As the executive director of the Gualala Art Center
, Sus is representing our local art community and traveling with some descents of the "first artists"
of the area. Part of the reason for this trip is for the Kashaya (native American Pomo tribe) to see and identify artifacts and artwork that was taken back to Russia when the fort was disbanded - over 150 years ago. They will be touring museums, meeting with dignitaries, participating in a parade, and doing home stays while in Tot'ma. He was trying to figure out what gifts he should bring with him.
The idea of tote bags came up and immediate we thought of the Green Bag Lady
. We called Teresa and she sent us some Silent Stumps Sateen
bags as well as some other solid bags that we could screen print the Gualala Arts logo on. Teresa ROCKS! In less than a week we had the screen printed bags. Tomorrow they make they voyage overseas.
I can't tell you how happy these bags make me! The trilogy of Green Bag Lady + Gualala Arts + Harmony Art = BIG LOVE.
I hope the Russians like (and use) them and I hope Sus gets home safely with lots of good stories to share.
Paul in his element: up north + camera
This months marks the 7th anniversary of Harmony Art organic design. It seems unreal to me. Can it be? Really? WOW!
I can still vividly remember being in Michigan in January 2005, witnessing the "glorious transition to a freer life" of my father-in-law, Paul Susalla. He died on his 66th birthday, 7 years ago today. His passing was peaceful, calm and beautiful. We should all be so lucky to be at home surrounded by so much love.
If I hadn't quit my job to start Harmony Art I would have been in Germany attending the Heimtextil show
rather than being in snowy Michigan with my family during this sacred passage. The timing has always felt like a confirmation of my decision.
This time of great sorrow will always be intimately woven into the start of the Harmony Art journey. Although I never told Paul about my new business idea/venture (it seemed so inconsequential in the moment) his illness helped inspire it. In the face of life's frailty, I was motivated to reflect and to act.
I miss Paul. I think he would be really proud of what we have accomplished. How I wish I could be celebrating another anniversary with him. When this time of year comes around it always feels bitter sweet.
To quote Mark Twain:
"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
Life is short. Make your journey a great one! Thank YOU for SEVEN amazing years.
Check out these prints! The shirt and dress were purchased in Hawaii in the 50's by my grandfather (shirt for himself) and grandmother (dress was a gift for my then teenaged mother). We believe they had it made to my mom's measurements.
I have had the dress and shirt in my closet for - oh - at least 15 years. I had never worn the dress, until NOW. It just seemed right to bring it back to its birthplace and amazingly IT FIT me perfectly (well, I was a little scared to sneeze).