If you have consciously or serendipitiously arrived here, welcome. I’m Fran, aka Redondowriter, and my interests include family, friends, writing, reading, art, computers, storytelling, spirituality, photography, animals—and exploring the layers of everyday life.
Rebecca at Recuerda mi Corazon is hosting Mornings with Mary on Mondays and I missed posting on Monday, so here I am two days late. I like to think that it's never too late to honor Mother Mary and the divine feminine.
This image is scanned from a Cathedral publication I purchased in the gift shop there. She sits so high above the great doors that it's hard to get up close and personal. For many years I coordinated the Los Angeles Red Mass and have been in the Cathedral many, many times, but I retired from doing that about six years ago and haven't been back since. This summer I'll schedule a visit again. I love the minimalist architecture and it is filled with wonderful art.
Sophia tells me that my choices for her lately have been boring. She says I dress her like a little old lady--and I suppose that I do since her dresser is one. How I wish, however, I had her size 4 size and remember those young years when I did. The last dress, however, is an old Carole Little of mine that does fit me still, but I know longer go anywhere to even wear it.
Now that my daughter has moved in and my granddaughter (26) is visiting more often, maybe I can borrow some cooler stuff. Suggestions?
Several weeks ago our rector at Christ Church Redondo Beach told me about a professional photographer who lives across the street from the church and a half block from where I live. His name is Chris Haston. Chris has an affinity for the Blessed Virgin Mary, and so do I so I quickly found him on the Internet.
This is a print of Chris's he calls 110 Mary, taken at the 4th Street Bridge in downtown L.A. with the old Bonaventure Hotel on the left and the California Bank Tower on the right.
Not a Catholic himself, Chris found a cast-off statue of Mary on top of a copy of the L.A. Times in the recycling bin. You can read the whole story of his Riding With Mary project that started him on his journey. You can see a marvelous gallery of his images at his own website, Chris Haston. You can also see images at LensScratch.
I had e-mailed him some weeks back saying I really admired his work I had seen online and he said to knock on the door sometime when I was walking Mollie. I did that tonight and I am so glad that I did. He introduced me to his girlfriend and they showed me some of his prints--and the top half of the original Mary he found. She got broken in a desert photo shoot and on a copy of his documentary, he shows her "being laid to rest."
And if you have an affinity for Mary, too, you will love the story of how he has portrayed her. There is a link to the short documentary at his website as well although I haven't been successful in running it there. He gave me a copy of it, however, and I'm Googling to see if I can find it somewhere live. (My Cyberfriend priti.lisi at Priti Studio found a copy of Chris's documentary here.)
Thanks so much, Chris. I just love what you are doing!
A small box of memorabilia
of a late friend (I'll call him S.) was recently given to me and I relished each memento of what
was important to him when I went through it. Prior to his death, he had given
all his literary stuff to his university archive and sold what had value. So sending me some of his “unimportant
stuff” was strictly sentimental. A few times in my life I have been given letters and papers of family and friends who have passed. If there is interest, I see that it goes to a historical museum or appropriate archive. I am a professional archivist myself and I LOVE when "old stuff" comes in to school. But, this was strictly personal. S. was an English professor and poetry from former students comprised most of the box.
However, S. had apparently been a
stamp collector when he was a young man and I gave most of the first issues to a
friend who collects. I knew S. only casually and didn't know anything about his childhood or young adulthood. I did keep a 1934 envelope called “Tin Can Mail” by
collectors. I had never even heard of this term before, but I was intrigued and
began to Google to find out more.
This is what my Tin Can Mail looks like:
A Google search for yourself
will provide countless samples of Tin Can Mail, but a woman named Betty Billingham in the U.K. apparently wrote a book about it that several people refer to. For detail, click on the
I’ve excerpted a brief description of Tin Can Mail from Post Crossing that provides the basics. Don’t
you just love it when you learn something new, especially when you’re up in
years yourself? I checked to see
if the envelope had value, and found a few less than $20 on the Internet. I
will keep it as a memory of a long ago friend--and make copies of it for collages.
the remote country of Tonga in
the South Pacific, there's a very special island. It's name is Niuafo'ou, but it's most
commonly known as Tin Can Island for the way mail was delivered and sent for
concept of Tin Can Mail started in 1882 in this island when William Travers, a
plantation manager, found himself without a way to receive mail from the rest
of the world. The island had no harbor and was very steep so ships wouldn't go
there. So he came up with the idea that mail could be delivered inside of the
ships biscuit tin cans that would be thrown overboard when they were passing
by! He proposed this to the Tongan postal authorities and soon mail started to
be delivered this way. But, don't think this was an easy feat! With strong sea
currents and distances of over a mile, this meant that to retrieve mail they
could have to swim up to 6 hours!
the Tin Can Mail became extremely popular and also a tradition and soon ships
started to come with passengers just to watch this incredible way of mail
delivery. In 1928, Walter George Quensell produced rubber stamps saying
"TIN CAN MAIL" that started being applied to all outgoing letters -
over one million and a half, Quensell claimed.
Yes, I know. Easter isn't about bunnies and mannikins, but I do still have a pretty high level of inner kid in this 75-year-old body. Tomorrow we'll read the Passion at church, but my mind does snap back to when my own kids were little (now 50, 49 and 46) and after church we had the big egg hunt in the back yard.
I have an extensive (50?) gorgeous stuffed rabbit collection, but I'm just too tired to put it out this year--and who will see it anyway? So, I'm putting out special memories instead.
I call these Mae's rabbits. Many years ago my dear friend Mae brought over this little vase and four rabbits on a night when the journal group was meeting and I've cherished it ever since. Mae is 85 now and I was so delighted to get a phone call this week that she is coming to our journal group on Monday night. She has not been for a few years and we are so excited to see her. The journal group still meets monthly and we began in 1989. Our numbers have decreased but usually four people show up. Not bad for that length of time. This kind of sharing group is such a blessing and I am reminded of how we all measured our kids with a yard stick against a door frame, until we moved and someone painted over those memories. But, this group of women (and one man the last several years) has been like a measuring stick of life. What we have been through together!
Below you will see what I call Ruth's eggs. Ruth is also an old friend and was a housemate for four years. She gifted me with this little rabbit wagon more than 10 years ago. Inside are hand-carved eggs from Hungary that she brought back from a trip. Ruth now lives in Ojai, but still comes to L.A. at least once a week to see clients in her therapy practice--and she stays in her old room.
And finally Sophia, the art mannikin, is prepared for Easter. She wore her St. Patrick's Day outfit most of March. She says that she is glad she lives in Southern California or she probably would have to wear Artic gear. I've watched the weather reports this evening and I know a lot of the U.S. is still deep in winter.
Though I am deeply drawn to Mary and images of the divine feminine, I rarely use images of Christ in my art. I was so deeply drawn to the focal image of Jesus on a friend's Pinterest site recently, however, I added it to my palette of items in Polyvore. This Polyvore digital art set kind of poured out of my mouse tonight and became "The Way of the Cross."
I am what I call a quiet Christian, but I definitely am a Christian. Born into a non-practicing Christian family, my mother (who had been raised Dutch Reform) did join the local Baptist Church when I was a kid because I asked to start attending there. It was literally my second family until I was in high school. We Baptist kids couldn't dance at our church, so I began church shopping--and I really have never stopped. I have been on a spiritual path long before I even started kindergarten. My dad, by the way, claimed to be an atheist.
At 21, I converted to Catholicism because I married a Catholic man and had always been drawn to the mystery of the mass and all the symbolism. I embraced Catholicism passionately and was deeply involved in the life of our parishes during all the 27 years of my marriage and for many years after that. In the 1980s, I received my M.A. in Comparative Religions and loved my studies. My thesis was on Fr. Thomas Merton. I'm a student by nature and will be until the end of my life, I hope.
About eight years ago I began seriously attending a few of the Episcopal churches in my area as the doctrine and dogma of the Catholic Church began to make no sense to me. But, I feel most at home in a liturgical Christian church. Six years ago I joined a tiny Episcopal Church, Christ Church, just a block from my house and I've found a church home and a wonderfully, inclusive community. For the past four years I have been attending a weekly study group called Education for Ministry which has been an intensive study into the Old Testament, the New Testament, church history, philosophy, theology, and the church in the modern world. Again, the student in me continues to find her niche.
Two years ago my friend Mary Lou and I made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and though I'll admit that many doctrinal/dogmatic things about Christianity trouble me, walking where Jesus Christ had lived and died was a real game changer for me as a Christian.
This past Sunday I was "accepted" into the Episcopal Church in a beautiful liturgy celebrated by Suffragan Bishop Diane Jardine Bruce. I have already been baptized and confirmed as a Catholic. My rector Robert Cornner has been a real inspiration to me. Inclusivity is his hallmark and the foundation of Christ Church. I jokingly call myself a heretic, but at my church, I feel fully accepted just the way I am.
Holy Week begins this Sunday and I guess this Polyvore set "The Way of the Cross" is my way of saying, "Thanks, Father, Son and Holy Spirit for the gift of my life."
Thomas Merton says best how I feel about my own Christianity.
From the Love of Solitude, Part II, “Thoughts in
Solitude,” by Thomas Merton
“My Lord God, I have no idea
where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain
where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am
following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe
that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that
desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from
that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust you always though I
may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are
ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
When I recently heard a feature on NPR about a new historical novel called "The Painted Girls" by Cathy Marie Buchanan, I was very intrigued. Called "The Seedy Underbelly of Belle Epoque," NPR reviews the book telling the story about impoverished girls who entered the ballet school of the Paris Opera in the 1800s as a possible way of escaping grim lives. Edgar Degas's Little Dancer Aged Fourteen is a replica of the main character of this book, Marie van Goethem.
I immediately put myself on the waiting list at the Palos Verdes Library District and I think I was first on the list. Because I've been pretty much waylaid for days with influenza, all I've done mostly is read, sleep and watch movies.
What little girl does not have dreams of the ballet? Both my closest young girlfriends growing up in Sunland, CA took both ballet and piano lessons, but my parents did not have the money for that. But, I observed them endlessly. By the way, I'm pretty much a klutz so even if I had taken lessons, I doubt I would have lasted a month. I did indulge myself as an adult with piano lessons, too, by the way, but I sucked. But--my own daughter Christy got her mom's dreams forced on her with ballet and piano. Her heart wasn't in it, but she did dance until she was in her early teens.
I was mesmerized by the book and can't recommend it enough. Though all of Degas art has not particularly grabbed me, I know for generations of people, it has--particularly little girls who dream of being ballet dancers.
Some Googling brought up this BBC documentary below telling the story of the bronze and how it came to be and how it is being analyzed and studied. Another good way to spend an hour and learning more, too. Ever since I was a little kid, my mind has been a curious one. It is imperative that I learn new things every day or a little piece of me shrinks away. My dad said I had a mind like a sponge and though with age the sponge can't quite soak up the way it used to, reading "The Painted Girls" has been a marvelous way to keep my mind active.
The BBC documentary has shown clips of a film about Degas and this bronze, but I haven't been able to locate it yet. Anyone have any ideas?
My parents taught me what you probably learned as a kid, too.
A rolling stone gathers no moss.
Idle hands are the devil's workshop.
A stitch in time saves nine, and yada-dee-yadedah. All these old sayings apply to me for sure.
I spent a lot of years being married and raising a family, and have been my own sole support for more than 25 years. I tend to choose activities these days that I enjoy, at least when I can. I only work three days a week for money (and because I LOVE it), but I'll admit I'm pretty involved in my community, and I have just been elected to the vestry of Christ Church. I'm just completing my fourth year of Education for Ministry studies at church and will look forward ultimately to that time slot opening up. Then there's my monthly journal writing group and the monthly SoulCollage group, the Friends Board of the Peninsula Library District, and the Redondo Beach Art group. Those of you who know me well also know that I'm a mixed media collage artist, and I play with art journals, too. And I read at least one or two books a month and stream a few movies. And yes, I do hang out with family and friends sometimes, too. Yikes! I thought I got over being a work-a-holic, but---. Though I'm a contemplative wanna-be, the more meaningfully I keep my time occupied, the more energetic and creative I seem to be, and depression and anxiety don't rear their ugly heads as often as in the past. (Knocking on wood.)
My new passion, as I've written before, is learning digital collage. I'm using the tools of a site called Polyvore, but amazingly enough, I am now finally beginning to understand the layering power of PhotoShop itself thanks to Polyvore. A new world has opened up to me and you know how time consuming that can be! But, Lordy, how challenging and gratifying. Even if no one else likes my "stuff," I like my stuff. I also know myself well enough to realize I LOVE learning new things, but I ultimately grow tired of many of them, too, and then want to learn MORE! My life is a blessed one.