Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Finding Passion

1.passion.stitch

Sunday afternoon, Jeff and I were taking a few minutes at the dining room table to have some after lunch coffee. A favorite Sunday moment. Chatting away about the kids, the upcoming family visit that we are in the midst of now, the looming escorting of Juliana off to college here in a few weeks, recapping the book signing from the day before, etc. Typical life download that we do every few days when we get the chance. I started talking about the exhibit at the Frist as I had seen it for the second time the previous Thursday (going again today, I'm a junkie). There are television screens throughout the exhibit playing a loop of fashion footage from the era of the show. Black and white moving images of 1940's models prancing about in the perfected and gorgeous frocks, holding themselves so still yet moving here and there. And my favorite, the scene of women employed by the house, several of them, sitting around an endless chiffon hem and hand stitching a scarf hem all around. Talking, laughing, enjoying, working. Working.

2.passion.stitch

I cried. Jeff got that look on his face like oh no she's crying. I really am not a crier. Really. Talking about it, thinking about it. The idea of these dresses being the result of the dream of one, then the work of many. The subtle twists and turns of several eager, knowledgeable hands whipping needle and thread and cloth and a dream into something tangible. Still, though tangible, a dream to behold. And half a century later, I'm sitting at my dining room table crying about the beauty of the hand stitching, trying to explain why its so special. And my poor, patient, sweet husband, who looked as confused as he could be was not at all confused. I didn't just wet my lashes with nostalgia or appreciation for a dear craft. I sobbed like a baby. I kept saying over and over.... what is wrong with me, I'm such a freak , why am I crying so hard about this. Its my grandmothers, are they doing this to me? I think of them when I see that group of women sewing, I think of each of them... How does this not make everyone cry? where can you see this anymore? - a scene like that- I'm sorry. I am such a weirdo, I'm sorry

3.passion.stitch

You're just passionate, he said. (insert adorable husband smile with that)

Oh. Yea. I guess. And weird, I said. (insert dorky, wimpery wife sniffle with that)

The next day I was putting some freshly washed bath towels in the linen closet of the boys' hall bathroom and I was sure that I heard the sound of running water through the walls. I instantly thought back to a few months ago when I learned too late that the boys had let the outdoor spigot on for like, uh, two weeks without me knowing and we paid an impressive water bill. I dropped the towels, headed outside, mummering something about a lashing (though I've never delivered one in my life). But the spigot wasn't left on. After following the snaking hose, I found at the mouth, a really damp area where it had been left on weeks before. And for the first time ever in my yard I found a tangley patch of wild passion flowers growing out of the damp earth. Beautiful. Plucked one. Plucked a green pod fruit too. Completely forgot about the running water sound. On the way to the studio to take pictures (of course I had to) I thought of the embroidery that I had started the day before. The flower made me. The colors. So unbelievably beautiful. Like sea life. The flower, and those spindly, curly threads, of course. Threads.

So if I didn't have passion the day before, when I was accused of such, sobbing at my dining room table, I found it the very next day. In the midst of laundry, no less.

xoxo, Anna

81 comments:

  1. What a lovely post! Thank you for sharing your passion!!

    Ok so now I need to know though, what was the running water (if not at least a subtle hint from muses)?

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  2. OH! We just love you Anna!! xoxo
    Raven

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  3. The embroidery is gorgeous and you're just lovely. <3

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  4. Yes, I too am dying to know what the running water sound was.

    You have great way of making laundry sound romantic. Around here, the house stinks on laundry day. At the beginning of it anyway.

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  5. Beautiful post. I've never seen a passion flower before but after reading your story, your photos of it make my heart ache with happiness.

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  6. Such an amazing and beautiful post ... Lovely to see you soooo full of passion.. The embriodary is very very pretty!!

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  7. Oh I just have to tell you two things, 1: I am just like that, seeing beauty in something, and not just surface beauty, but something that touches me so deeply that I too, cry, sometimes all the way into "ugly cry". I too, feel silly, but if I'm a doofus, I'm honored to have such talented company :-)

    2. Passionflower grows wild in my area and the first time I saw one, I fell in love. I think they look like a gift from aliens. Anyway, my friend and I like to nab those seed pods (which I hear you can make into jelly by the way, but double check that before you do) and try to plant them each year. Life keeps getting in the way, but one year I did have hundreds of seedlings. It's just that I killed them later. But...my suggestion is to get a big galvanized tin tub, fill it with dirt, cut the seed pods in half and stick them in the dirt in September. Don't do anything else and come next spring you should have seedlings. I tried fancier stuff, and none of it worked. If you think about what nature does, it makes sense to just open them up and pop em in the ground.

    Anyway, this post really spoke to my heart. You're the best!

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  8. Beautiful photographs! Thanks for sharing that story. I think all creative minds have moments where you are overcome with something that might be "silly" to others :)

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  9. What an excellent gift (the husband's wisdom, and then the flower). I got chills (the good kind) reading your story. Thanks!

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  10. Life's little object lessons have so much impact. Passion in plant form is what made that wild beauty come to life. And it is passion that infuses your life and your work bringing out beauty in others. Thanks for sharing it!

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  11. You have such wonderful gifts. We are blessed that you share them.

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  12. Lucky find, that passion flower....and so are you!

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  13. My favourite outdoor flower, i'm just debating order one as i was about a week and a half ago before my birthday. Found a good pack with three varieties, bargain, if i can just keep them all they will be fabulous :)

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  14. It's good to be so passionate... Passionate is such a better word for it than crazy. That's what my hubs calls me... ha ha

    I used to live in a very old country home nestled in the woods across from a creek in Kentucky that had a front porch covered in passionflowers... it brought back fond memories... thank you :)

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  15. How lovely! I cry at those scenes too, and when I read picture books to my kids. It looks like you have passion sprouting everywhere... what blessings!

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  16. Any day with a new post from you is more lovely....thank you for sharing with us so generously. How proud your grandmothers have to be of you!

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  17. ...Anything to get out of doing the laundry! :)
    Thanks for sharing all this great and raw inspiration with us. It's pretty rare that I encounter someone so in tune to beauty. :)

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  18. Katrina12:01 PM

    Best post ever!

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  19. Makes me think of two things:

    "Passion, though a bad regulator, is a powerful spring." Ralph Waldo Emerson (I wonder what would happen if we always let our work spring forth from our passion.)

    and

    Sunday coffee... how lovely! I think that is a routine I need to work into our schedule.

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  20. Mary Margaret12:11 PM

    Beautiful post, beautiful photos. Passion flower has been my favorite since I was wee; growing up in Williamson Co. they were everywhere. (I've tried to grow them up here in the Tundra, but no luck so far...) So now I stitch them. Thank you!

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  21. I've never seen a passion flower before and it's hard to believe something so exotic, beautiful, and delicate even exists any distance from the equator.

    There's nothing wrong with having a good cry, even an "ugly cry" as Metro put it.

    I have been touched by similar images and I think what draws me in the most is my appreciation for that kind of "sisterhood", that camaraderie and bond between women.

    Thank you for sharing!

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  22. Teresa12:18 PM

    Ok, I feel completely normal now...thank you for a lovely post. By the way, your stitching is just beautiful! I have been very drawn to get back to my crewelwork and this has done it for me....thank you, thank you!

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  23. THat is a truly magnificent flower. I have never seen anything like it. And you passion? I love it. I get weepy and passionate over old things that have stories. Because they always remind me of my grandmother. ANd the remind me of a time when life was a little simpler. maybe not easier per se. But simpler for sure.

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  24. What a lovely story and beautiful embroidery!!
    I sowed some passion flower seeds but they didn't grow, must try again. :)
    Vivienne x

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  25. these are the posts that i long for from you...real, honest, inspiring...thank you for sharing. every woman needs to find a passion. one that will cause them to spontaneously weep!

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  26. Wow, I've never seen a flower like that. Incredible.
    And even in the world of blog land I've not read someone more committed or passionate.

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  27. Thank you for this beautiful story and those beautiful pictures! When I start crying uncontrollably over something "silly", it usually has to do with the discrepancy between people's hopes/emotions/dreams and reality, the fact that our inner life doesn't always translate to our every day lives or other people. I can't come up with a good example right now, but it surely has something to do with Weltschmerz. How fitting, since I'm German ... ;-)

    Your post also reminded me of the beautiful French film Brodeuses. Have you seen it? The embroidery in that movie is incredible! Here's a link on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Brodeuses-Region-Original-French-Version/dp/B000CISDH2/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1280945590&sr=8-2-fkmr1

    And here on youtube which shows some of the embroidery and beading:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1eswdczApc&feature=related

    Thank you!

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  28. Loved your post, and understand as only another woman would! Love passion flowers too. They are stunning.

    I had that same crying experience happen the other day when we visited some friends on a lake. I grew up water skiing and hadn't been in 10 years at least (I'm 49, btw). Anyway, they took me out early one morning before anyone else was on the lake. I started to cry with just the memory of my youth....while I was SKIING!! I thought that a little weird too!

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  29. That is so darn cute. I love the it! I love the crazy crying about something beautiful.
    And, that photo is beautiful! (But, I'm not quite tearing up over it.)

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  30. I'm so glad I'm not the only weirdo! :-) When I went to see the Ansel Adams exhibit here at our local museum, I wanted to cry. It was just so beautiful and amazing and and and ... photography does that to me.

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  31. I share the same awe of handwork and sewing. I just visited a small exhibit of the quilts of Gee's Bend and it was so moving in the same way.

    http://www.thelaughingmonkey.com/blog/2010/08/01/the-quilts-of-gees-bend/

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I feel the same.

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  32. An amazing post! Your embroidery is beautiful and so is your passion!

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  33. LIFE is such a gift, all the more so when we EMBRACE it! Thank you for your heart and your ability to express it! (Don't you love how creativity and Creation connect us all?)

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  34. I saw that exhibition when it came to Australia - it was amazing (and packed every single day - one of the most popular exhibits ever).

    I took my eldest daughter who was 8 at the time, and went with my mother and another friend. It was several hours drive away, and we had a very special day together.

    It was elegant and stylish - but it also made me feel part of a creative continuum - linked through the effort involved (the many, many hours) to create something lovely.

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  35. Anonymous6:36 PM

    thank you!

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  36. Reminds me of the exhibit I was fortunate to see at the Met in June. It was an exhibit of women's fashion starting at the turn of the century through the late 1930s. Such beautiful garments and there they were right in front of me. When I saw the room filled with the most beautiful flapper gowns I had ever seen, I cried. Yep, there I was at the Met, eyes filling with tears. I can't help but think about the stories of the women who not only made those dresses, but wore those dresses.

    I get it! It's not silly to get emotional over things like that. Thanks for sharing. Your blog is a joy.

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  37. You are lucky, to have a husband who is that understanding. (Of course, you know that you are lucky)
    I get all worked up about something I am pasionate about and my kids look at me like I have lost what is left of my senses.
    I love your post...it makes me happy!

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  38. You are a beautiful writer and a beautiful artist. So glad you share!

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  39. Beautiful Anna, thanks for sharing your heart with us!

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  40. How very beautiful and a treat to read. Handwork is such a powerful connection to those who came before. Your grace and, yes, passion, are inspiration to keep it alive.

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  41. Just beautiful. :)

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  42. I really love this post for so many reasons.
    And you are so clever to put it into words, all those things - the past, people missed, those wonderful men that understand and appreciate us, the joy and wonder of natural beauty and craft. And how it feels and what it means to make things.
    Thank you :-)

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  43. love this story! thank you for sharing!

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  44. Hmm, the only new thing that I find in my garden is weeds...

    I am a crier, though - usually at films, but, for some reason, since having kids it can be at all sorts of stuff that wouldn't have made me cry in the past. Goodness, the other day a mean bloke sweared at me and I found myself blinking back the tears. My husband laughed at me for that...

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  45. Gosh, I miss passion flowers. My family used to have a vine that grew on the side of our house. The blooms were so beautiful and the fruit so delicious. The plant attracted caterpillars and about 30 feet away our butterfly bush gave home to the swarm of newly transformed butterflies from the passion flower vine. It was wonderful! Thanks for sharing your story, too.

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  46. Annamari2:32 AM

    Anna Maria: this post made me stop. Thank you.

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  47. Beautiful post, so thoughtful!

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  48. Can you even begin to imagine a life without feeling passionate about so many things? Can any of us? I don't think so, that is why we love coming to your blog - we get you. Carolina

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  49. what a beautiful post to wake up to today. thank you.

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  50. Passion. Yep...that's what it is!

    Beautiful post.

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  51. The thought that we have lost so many 'scenes' that we will never see again brings tears to my eyes. I think I will do some embroidering today.

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  52. Lisa G.10:55 AM

    Isn't that a lovely story! Through the gushing water of your tears, your passion was revealed through your husband, and through the excess of water outside, came forth passion flowers! I'm sure a more eloquent person could put it better, but I couldn't think of a better way of saying it.

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  53. what a a beautiful post. :) And you do such a beautiful job on the needlework, that's something i really want to work on.

    Btw, my kids once left the outside spigot on for several weeks. NOT a pretty water bill, indeed. :) Now, years later, I'm fanatically about making sure it gets cut off.

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  54. Beautiful story to go along with your very lovely embroidery and found flower!
    I have been sidetracked by bits of beauty in my day...to where I have to go get that camera to capture it, and then realize...oh! wait, what was I doing before this!!?? :)
    I accidentally left a soaker hose in our back garden on once for quite a few hours soaking the underside of our redwood deck. Ooops! I set the timer on my kitchen stove now as a reminder!!! :) how funny! my word verification for this comment is "alarm"! :)

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  55. This is beautiful and I totally get it.

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  56. The post is beautiful and so moving. I cried. And I definitely cry every time I think about my grandmother (my Russian babushka) who was able to make everything with her hands - baking, cooking, gardening, pickling, knitting, embroidery, all my wardrobe (including fur coats for cold Moscow winters and bathing suits for seldom hot days in summer) from the day I was born till almost the day she died. If I know how to make something - it's only because she taught me with love and encouragement. And almost every time I make something I cry tears of gratitude to my beloved grandmother and - as you said - "with nostalgia and appreciation for dear craft" that she taught me.

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  57. Anonymous5:20 PM

    you are a true prize. know it.. believe it...

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  58. I am a huge fan,
    your description almost made me cry, it was beautiful!

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  59. What a lovely story! Your embroidery looks fab and the flower you found is just so beautiful. I've never seen one before.
    xx

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  60. I love this post, and guess what?? I'm cryin' . . . xo

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  61. Pia Merete Hansen11:53 AM

    Hi Anna Maria

    Is it a pattern you have made yourself or did you buy it? - the stichery with the passionflower. Sorry if my English is a little funny.

    Many kind regards - Pia ;-)

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  63. Perfect post, you are very talented Anna Maria.

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  64. What a wonder that God saw fit to allow us the incredible joy of creating? Observing His creation and being able to express the wonder on our own? Amazing....

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  65. thanks for posting this…I had a photo of one of these flowers that I was waiting to identify so I could post it on my blog…now I know what it is! I so enjoy your whole blog…your designs, your family fun, your fabrics & your book (I only have one of them so far…). Thanks for all the visual inspiration!

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  66. Anonymous1:03 PM

    i wanna be you when i grow up...

    Maryann (turned 39 today)
    LOL

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  67. Oh my goodness I'm in love with your embroidery! Do you create your own patterns or did you purchase this somewhere? I would love to know! Thanks so much!

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  68. Anonymous12:01 PM

    I loved this post and shared it on my blog last Saturday with my readers. I too get weepy over past-history-imagery and memories. Very weepy. Thanks for such a beautiful and strong post.
    link: http://rosiegirldreams.com/6-sharing-saturday/sharing-saturday-lovely-links/
    -Rosie Girl Dreams

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  72. Hi Anna Maria

    Is it a pattern you have made yourself or did you buy it? - the stichery with the passionflower.

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