Channeling my inner Scarlett

Gone with the Wind is definitely not PC these days, but when I was a teenager my mom urged it on me, saying it was a classic. How well I remember reading it in the backseat of our car during a road trip to see what all the fuss was about. “Not much,” was my dismissive opinion.

That said, it was a semi-big deal in 1976 when it finally aired on TV and I got to see the movie version for the first time. I still gave it a “not much” rating, but thankfully it primed me to more fully appreciate Carol Burnett’s skit Went with the Wind, in which she parodied Scarlett’s drapery-inspired gown.

All of which has everything to do with the latest iteration of the boho blouse …

Since I was having trouble with the patchplay version, I decided to try out the pintucks on some vintage cloth that had been packed and moved five times. Purchased in 1980, there were two yards of it left over after I sewed curtains for the living room picture window in our very first house. Finally, it has found its reason for being.

I’m pretty sure it’s 100% cotton and it needles like an absolute dream …

My fingers are grateful … stitches are a cinch when the cloth isn’t clogged with excess dye and whatever else it is they use to finish fabric these days. Now if I could just figure out where to find more 40 year old cloth.

And while I’m looking back, here’s what we had for lunch today …

The backstory is my fond memory of 1974 shopping trips to Bloomingdale’s in Garden City (Long Island, NY), with my friend Rachel. We must have eaten at their in-store restaurant more than once, because I have a very clear recollection of Croque Monsieur being a favorite.

The version I whipped up today might better be called a Monte Cristo, as it had a distinctly Italian vibe. Lest I forget, it consisted of crusty Italian White Bread from Central Market in Austin, thin slices of Speck (a smoked version of prosciutto), leftover zucchini butter (from this Smitten Kitchen recipe), lots of shredded parm (regretfully not Reggiano … this time), all dipped in beaten egg and griddled in melted butter. Oh, and we did dab on a bit of basil vinaigrette at the table because there was some of that leftover, too.

Yum.

Trust

Just before joining the circle of Kindred Spirits at 9:00 am Texas time, I read Jude’s latest post with its ark-like house/boat.

The poignant strains of the Indigo Girls’ Wood Song filled my head, the words long ago committed to memory.

And I remembered.

In 1997 I had given two weeks notice to Colonial Williamsburg in order to accept a job as a middle school librarian.

To say it was a huge leap of faith would be an understatement. I was taking a 20% pay cut, leaving an 18-year career, a hard-earned title, and a newly-acquired corner office.

Each morning as I pointed the bow of my trusty Dodge Caravan into the rising sun, I queued up the Indigo Girls and cranked the volume. Singing at the top of my lungs, I played the Wood Song … over and over.

I had dared to trust my gut … the inner voice that led me to act … the fierce certainty that overcame my doubts about walking away from the security of the known.

The next twelve years were spent in a middle school, a high school, and an elementary school. They led to the Eastern Virginia Writing Project, through which I became an adjunct instructor at the College of William & Mary.

I never looked back.

If only it could be so easy now … to quit the chaos and dysfunction of this troubled world … to walk away, singing … and begin anew.

What is left to trust?

Simply this: love, family, community, truth, and hope … a righteous hope that goodness will ultimately prevail. And the realization that it has always been darkest before the dawn.

It’s all relative

June 13, 2021 – Mandala 2
June 13, 2021 – Mandala

Growing up on Long Island in the 1960s and early 70s, we often went to family get-togethers with my mom’s side of the family. One cousin, five years younger than me, was a gifted painter at an early age. These two pictures of Portia with her brothers (along with a younger cousin), and her parents were taken at our wedding in 1977 …

We wouldn’t see them all again until middle-brother George got married in Virginia.

Portia went on to pursue art studies at Cooper Union, Skowhegan, and the Mason Gross School of Art at Rutgers. All of which I know because she has been so successful in her professional life that she has a Wikipedia entry.

We haven’t stayed in touch over the years, but Instagram enabled me to catch up on her many accomplishments, after which I explored her website

Better late than never, I learned more about Portia and her art in a recent Woodstock-Byrdcliffe Forum presentation. She reminded me so much of her mother, Jay, both in appearance and her gentle manner of speaking. What struck me most, though, was how often she referred to what she was thinking while creating her art. I loved that.

I especially appreciated her mandalas of ephemeral flower petals surrounding birds killed by flying into the path of oncoming cars. They are both memento mori and commentary on the impact of human-wrought technology on nature. Terrible beauty.

And at the end of her Woodstock-Byrdclyffe talk, Portia mentioned that she will be installing a permanent exhibit at the 21C Museum Hotel opening in St Louis next year. That was all it took for me to finally reach out online. Hopefully we will meet again if our calendars and travel plans align.

Meantime, I made a mini-mandala of stacked stitching, learned from Jude, using Deb’s threads on black linen. But this patch may not be the one that I end up using … I had way too much fun to stop with just one.