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Archive for June, 2008

Friends came over the week before last. We hunted along the beach. My friend found an actual piece of red on the beach, my beach, and when I gasped and raved abour how rare it was, she said, “Here, you can have it.”

“Oh no, no I can’t,” I said. “You found it. It is yours.” Red. Real and softened by the ocean. It is a first. Thrilling and exciting. I hadn’t even thought of a red find on my beach as possible. I say my beach the way I say my street but I own neither.

Then, the next week, my daughter’s play group comes over. One woman is a sea glass lover. She is determined to find purple or blue. I find a purple and I go to give it to her. “No,” she says, “It’s not the same if I don’t find it myself.” She’s stubborn and determined for every aspect of the journey to be hers. She will find what she finds or not but the bag she brings home will represent the gems she discovered.

With my brother and newphews, I shared. My brother and newphews went around the dining room table one at a time after drawing sticks to see who would pick first and decide who would get what. They didn’t care if they found the pieces. They love the glass and the hunting and the entire experience, including the sharing of pieces. Besides, I told them, “I can hunt any time.” They are hours from a beach. They picked their peices, hoping no one would get the one they each had an eye for. It was fun and they left happy and excited.

 

My daughter found an orange and she was not sharing any of her pieces. The orange, another rare find, stunned me. It was tiny, as small as a child’s pinky nail. BUt it is glass, not plastic. I asked if she wanted to put it someplace special or if she wanted me to hold it. This morning she realized it was lost. She didn’t know where it was. “What if the cat ate it?”” she said. I thought, “I’m glad the edges are really soft.” I said, “We might be able to find it.”

I couldn’t say, “We’ll buy another one. We’ll find another one.” There are no such promises with natural gems.

 

But the bigger lesson for me is in how different we all are. I have one friend opening her own sea glass jewelry business and another this morning, a neighbor, who told me she is going to sell jewelry too. Who owns ideas? Who has the market on creativity? How do business collaboratons stay collegial when money makes friends competitors? And can’t colleagues bail each other out, help each other flourish, spread word of each other’s ventures?

We are all different. My brother isn’t wrong to take and keep a purple from me. My friend is not wrong to want to find her own pieces or go home without a purple. Some of us don’t want to do things unless we do them ourselves, our own way. Some of us want to go off trail in the woods and others want to follow the red marks on the trees advising, “This is still the trail.”

 

I am learning to examine and challenge and define for myself my own ideas about business ethics, artistic ethics, concepts of universality – that nothing is original and unique – and seeing what I bump up against in myself with myself and with others. Sometimes the journey is comfortable and exhilarating. Other times, I find myself at the other end of a sea saw when I thiough I was swinging. Art is personal. Business has rules. But we all figure out what our own spaces and places are. It’s becoming less and less about right and wrong, ownership and copying, it’s becoming more about deciding what kind of artist and business person I want to be.

 

Can I say thank you when handed an orange I didn’t find? Or do I need to find it myself? Will I sometimes take pleasure in the gifts given and on another part of the same day need to journey alone?

 

I found my daughter’s orange. She will be pleased. She lost it alone. I helped her find it. Does that interfere with her journey or just bring her great relief?

 

It’s a process not an argument, it’s a pondering, not a persuasive essay. In all things, including business and art, seeking and searching for sea glass or “the mystery some call God,” there are books and guides, advice and practices but for each one of us it’s an individual journey.  Will I be someone who makes a living making seaglass jewelry or tire of it in six months and give away all my supplies? Will I get craft tables and join a jeweler’s collective or will I say, in ten years, “remember that wild phase?” and how I freaked out and panicked when others stepped out into their own business? How I worried about saturating the market more than enriching the friendships at times?

 

Catch of the Day: Nothing is without complexity and complication and life. My daughter is messy, mud-covered from her ankles to her armpits when she comes home from camp. “I love it she says, except for the bug bites.” And nothing, no spray or tonic or secret elixir keeps anything perfect and sacred and without bug bites without work and practice and ownership of one’s own ego. To be private and playful and expansive with artistic ideas is wonderful. To mix in commerce and selling and business… I want to figure out how to do that in a way that doesn’t kill the joyful aspects of creation. As with writing, there are kinds that make money and kinds that don’t but the heart cares little about all that. I’d love to say I’ll keep personal and professional apart but the creation of art and the selling of it IS personal and professional. Another new aspect to the journey. I’m less freaked and more intrigued by the process. We’ll see what happens next….

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My brother and nephews came over yesterday. It was easy and delightful. I wish my brother lived closer and I knew his sons better. We don’t see each other often but we see each other clearly. We walked the beach searching for glass. He was bitten fast and hard by the hunting. “I could do this all of the time,” he said.

“I know,” I said, “And you can, any time.”

My daughter found a rare orange. One nephew found a thick sea foam green. My brother found a purple bottle bottom. We shared sea glass pieces. We shared the treasure of the best finds. We tossed some back to nature. We chatted about work and life but mostly we just walked and searched and shared the same cloudy sky, heard the same thunder, felt the first hints of rain before the moisture turned torrential. The boys got splashed a bit. Everyone climbed by a marshy spot on the sand.

 

“It’s hard to stop,” my brother said and I wasn’t sure if he was repeating the words of one of his boys or speaking for himself. “It is,” I said.

“Does it all come back? the glass?” he asked.

“Every day, every tide,” I said though I do think there are less of the huge pieces I found last year, less bottle necks and maybe some pieces had done a tumbling dance for a while and now, other newer pieces still arrive but not in quite the same quantity.

 

We had frozen pizza, coffee, bubbly water, smiles and giggles. It was just simple, nice and easy. My daughter, easy with my brother, me feeling easy with my brother’s children. There are reasons I chose to live on the South Shore, reasons I don’t regret but there are things and people I miss and so, when the visits are long and lingering, casual and easy, the non-eventful event of just “hanging” I am grateful.

Catch of the Day: The pride I felt saying, “That’s my little brother” to my neighbor who is like a second Nana to my daughter. And that little brother is in his late 30’s, has two children, is over six feet tall. But still, he’s my baby brother for always and I love him and seeing him be a Dad and a sea-glass junkie.

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Here’s the link to the Writing from the Heart Blog where memoir style pieces go up every three or so weeks. My latest is there now.

It’s a letter to my daughter’s birth mother in China who has been on my mind of late.

http://writingfromtheheart.wordpress.com/2008/06/22/cissy-why-i-never-told-you/

 

Now, off for a sea glass hunt on this sunny Sunday morning with said daughter!

Sea Glass Girl

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glassThese are stunning pieces of what looks like pottery but feels like glass. Yet, the edges are so soft and smooth. They are satisfying for the person who likes to hold objects, flip the over in his or her hand and just hold them. I marvel at the colors that have remained so clear and bright and wonder what the original formation of these glass pieces.

The blue and white is, when turned over, a tiny mini bowl and the colors are magnificent.

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matching pinks

 

Lately, I’ve been making some matching pieces. In the world of adoption, bonding and attachment are critical. Obviously, that’s true for non-adoptive families as well. But, in families where children and parents don’t always share physical characteristics, the same race, birth country and history it is nice, when parents and children share something. My own five-year old is happy we both have glasses, still likes to match same-colored shirts and I’ve made us matching mother-daughter necklaces. If I’m going away for a while, even for a night meeting and not home before bed, I can kiss her necklace and she’ll wear it and “carry” my love and she will “kiss” mine so I can carry hers.

Also, sea glass is special, because as with people two pieces can never be exactly the same. The history of each is unique and though pieces can be made to match in color and size and shape, they are still unique. Beads and wire and necklaces can make pieces “go together” better but each and every piece of sea glass has a story all her own. And I do think of these children of the sea as lost, tossed, scattered, broken in a fight or an accident. Later, the sea, like love, changes their shape and texture, but can never steal their history and their past even if is unknown. So, the “matching” pieces have meaning to me. They help celebrate and connect mothers and daughters.

Here are some “sets” and I have to say I wish I was a better photographer. The hue of pink isn’t captured. The light aqua color almost translucent isn’t revealed by my photo taking limits. The purples barely blare their color. But, here’s an idea of what the matching pieces can look like.

These are small matching purples.

 

 

 

 

 

These aquas are lovely. The color matches though the wire styles are different.

 

 

 

 

 

 

clearer view

I am trying to learn how and where to display pieces. This is a newer white with green on top. I am a fan of the colors many consider common (white, green and brown) as much as I am of the much harder to find, reds, pinks, purples and virtually any shade of blue.

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Balance

I am a woman obsessed and a woman learning to balance a seasonal love. Do gardeners face this need for balance? The desire to have hands in the dirt daily as work and family and events tug on the edges saying, “Don’t forget us!” beach treasureIs balance ever not an issue? I’m balancing motherhood and home. Projects in the yard are half done. A flower bed dug, even planted but not edged or filled with mulch, too much grass trying to claim old territoriy. An old sand box, half ready to be turned into a wildflower garden when I have time to lay six inches of dirt over the compost that started over the last two years. Inside, piles of toys and papers to be de-cluttered. I’m a to-do list getting longer and longer. But how can I not love take a bath in these colors and the gifts of the sea? How can I not walk the shores and marvel at the colors from the sea both rare and common?

 heart glass

This bowl is filled with colors. I love the thick whites, the tiny spec of red, the unusual acquas and all shades of blue. I love to hold the pieces in my hand and wonder what they once were, how long they traveled the ocean floor and even how long they were “shipwrecked” before caught. Are they captured or rescued? Are they happy to return to dry land where they started or will they miss the ocean salt? Were they gasping for air like struggling swimmers or had they transplanted, become fishes at heart and belonging in water? To me, they feel cradled and adored, precious and appreciated as I wrap and hold them turning them into jewelry.

I love sharing the beach with little beach combers too who find treasures all their own. Sometimes they pick crab legs, old lobster parts, rocks and shells and skip over the sea glass entirely. Who can account for what will cause one to stop, bend over, stare directly and then lift an object from the sand? I may say the shards of crab shells are smelly and deserve to return to the sea, may see the rocks as flat and boring, the shells as cute but not what captures my passion. But being on the beach with children and seeing what they love makes me see it all again. Here’s an end of the day photo with a group of small beach combers.

beach combing buddiesEven as they head home, they can’t stop staring at the shore and looking for treasures.

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