Patina…

Patina… that magical thing that happens with age. I find it fascinating- maybe because I have a bit of patina myself. Ok, more than a bit. Still. Patina was originally a word used for a thing that happens to copper when it’s exposed to – well, life. Gradually patina came to represent objects that had been around a while, traveled through more than one experience- looked at life’s inevitable hardships and instead of becoming bitter became more beautiful and interesting- simply because it has survived and continues to thrive.

Patina holds within it, stories we may never read- through doors that have been the silent listeners to a time we’ve never known. They may not be shiny and brand new- yet, they’ve figured out how to be old, determined and useful.

One of the things I enjoy while traveling is taking photographs of architectural elements- especially those with patina like that wrought iron fence in New Orleans (oh, how I miss that old girl this year!) Patina is a good historical teacher who isn’t the least bit hysterical- especially when it comes to aging.

Now, it’s important to me that you know- I love all of you with all of your amazing talents, yet what always surprises me are those of you, who have a bit of age on them, seem more stable, less stressed, more inspired and less complicated or competitive- more willing to try new things. The ones of you who’ve realized that the last thing you want to do- is wake up and realize you didn’t do the things you were meant to do.

If possible, age should never be the limiting factor on potential. Patina is proof of timelessness- of a life fully lived. Just know, when you see patina anywhere- even the lines on a face, a bit of exposed brick, rust or peeling paint- you’re looking at proof that getting out of your comfort zones, staying strong, rising to the challenges, weathering the storms – results in something real, valuable and beautiful. Patina. Admire it. Aspire to it. Appreciate it in yourself.

Patina is a design trick used by the finest stylists. Take a tip from them. Use items with patina for your props or backgrounds. If you’re traveling, even in your own town- try to find and photograph patina. It’s beautiful and, I think you’ll find it everywhere you look.

Love y’all, Brenda

Strong but Fragile…

imageIt happened again. I broke down and cried. And once again, it took me by surprise. As I stood in line waiting my turn, I saw masses of people-all kinds of folks- from this country and from foreign lands waiting their turn too. Like the tangled historic roots among cobblestones, bricks, asphalt and concrete-their faces were solemn even anxious as they quietly waited, I’m sure mine was too. I read again the history of it. The difficulties, the immense courage of men in another day and time, the decision made knowing what it would cost them.image

I saw so many other landmarks, so much more history, walked in the old cobbled paths read about for a lifetime. I didn’t break down at Betsy’s House or in Ben’s Business, I didn’t even break down as the tour guide pointed out- place after place where history was being made so many years ago. I didn’t break down at Christ’s Church, though I was deeply moved.

Dare I say it? I love this country. I love the red, blue and white star spangled flag and even though it is off-key I do love to sing the national anthem. I still put my hand over my heart when I pledge the flag. Every. Single. Time. I get exasperated with my country, the kind of exasperation I feel when I find a new wrinkle or another gray hair. Not the kind of exasperation that would ever make me want to give up on her, my roots are among those cobblestones, bricks and concrete too.image

This country is Strong and Freedom has always been Fragile. What started as a Dream, a Pursuit and a Bill of a Dozen Right Ideals were formed in the Fiery Furnace, a Foundry filled with the lives and fortunes of a few good men. On a heavy wooden beam their hopes were mounted and hoisted up with the strong belief that there was a better way to form a more perfect union. No one noticed it was imperfect, that a hairline crack had formed. After loudly proclaiming freedom-there was always the possibility that it could break, the ringing could be silenced and the whole idea would become a shining part of world history. image

A dozen years ago, I saw it. I broke down and cried. It took me by surprise then and it took me by surprise again last week. I saw masses of people yearning to be near her, I saw my own family pause by the Liberty Bell- The Liberty Bell spoke to me gently in passing and then I cried.  She stands silent, she stands in full view of Constitution Hall- a Strong Fragile Lady aging gracefully, unruffled and calm.. Even her tiresome quarreling children became quiet and reverent, desperately trying to be more perfect, more united in her presence. Beneath the hem of her garment, created equal with certain inalienable rights-Liberty’s children share her Love of Freedom.  This Southern Belle knows a true Lady when she sees one. Lady Liberty, I salute you, Darlin’.

May God’s generous Grace, His unmatched Mercy and His abiding Love continue to shine His Glorious Light upon you.image

Our Holiday Vacation was an inspiring trip to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The City of Brotherly Love and the Birthplace of Freedom-where the Lovely Ladies are Strong, the Goodlookin’ Men are Brave and the Children of Liberty strive to be Far Above Average.*

Love y’all, Camellia

*quote- is a play on Garrison Keiller’s statement about the fictional Lake Woebegone – ‘Where the women are strong, the men are goodlooking and the children are all above average.’

All photographs are mine- from Old City, Betsy Ross House, Benjamin Franklin’s Print Shop, Elsfeth Alley, Constitution Hall and of course- Liberty Bell Center

Statuary…

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This is Eleanor. She has graced a secluded place beneath a clump of dogwood trees in our garden for over ten years. The angel was given to us during a dark season of grief. I never called my husband’s mother by her given name- Eleanor. From the moment the statuary angel was put in place, she has been Eleanor to me. I look at her everyday from my kitchen window- from the street she is unseen- if you go to the side yard, down a long curved path, there is a round circle of purple irises with a large urn in the center- beyond a pair of fruit trees, your eye is drawn to Eleanor. My mother in law died in early spring right before the dogwoods begin to bloom. Tiny daffodils bloom at her feet. Statuary in the home or garden should have meaning, Eleanor does; she is a sweet reminder of my gentle mother in law every day. She was an angel.

The great cities of the world have iconic statuary. New York-

Santa Fe’s Canyon Road has incredible sculpture and statuary-

Great statuary, no matter where it is, should have significance, purpose and a sense of place.  What would the Statue of Liberty look like surrounded by gnomes, pigs, baskets, urns and rabbits?  IMG_0899 (Edited)

There is a place for whimsy in our world, yet even whimsical statuary should have significance, purpose and a sense of place. The statuary planter on the back porch is an example of whimsy. Whenever I have acquired statuary, the piece has found me, not the other way around. If you are shopping, don’t overlook local plant nurseries or shops, they will often have a good selection at reasonable prices.

I happen to love statuary in great cities, in shopping areas, in public gardens, in cemeteries, on battlegrounds or playgrounds- in public buildings, homes and in cathedrals…

Let me show you how we have used some statuary in Camellia’s Cottage

Each piece follows the design principles I believe in…significance, beauty, whimsy, mystery, scale, focal point, texture, purpose, emotion and a sense of place. To find a few small birds beneath a big basket of homegrown hydrangeas, to have a muse looking over my shoulder as I read a book, to perch a facepot on a pedestal as a whimsical reminder to save for a rainy day, to discover a bird in hand or a tiny bird poised in flight beneath a map of our home county, to bring the outside in with a heavy urn and a wise old man- those things have a place of significance without saying one word. The statuary, large or small, are gentle memories and peaceful inspiration for our sweet home in Alabama.

Love y’all, Camellia

*This post is written in loving memory of my mother in law, Eleanor McKinney Wyatt.IMG_0666

 

 

 

Doors of New Mexico…

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Whenever we visit historic places, I always come away with a sense of wonder and curiosity. I find myself asking- what is it that motivated the folk in those times to explore new territories, stake claims- then to stay, settle and build. Build, not just humble homes, places of business, government buildings but also to build cathedrals with intricate attention to detail. The cynic in me says it was for power, wealth and influence. The optimist says these folks were natural builders of society, who could somehow see far into the future- a bright shining city on a hill. I’ve come to believe, for whatever reason- noble or not- these folks had HOPE, not a crystal ball. For a city like Santa Fe to endure for close to 400 years that hope had to be undergirded with faith- and repeated time and again. Hope is a powerful motivator, hope breeds endurance and perseverance, hope starts a new business, builds a home, a library, schools and sparks faith which maintains humble homes and great cathedrals.  Enter the doors and peek in the windows of New Mexico and see if you agree…

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Wherever you look, grand or humble… look close and you will see hope….

I have to include a few from the last post they were so charming…

And I particularly loved the rustic ones…

And what about this one?  A cool oasis…image

We were amazed among so much Adobe to find these…

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How precious are those rustic wooden angels on the wreath of a tiny shop?

The hotels in Santa Fe Plaza area are historic also…the one on the right- where we stayed La Posada, is a virtual adobe village on six acres but the main building was run by a woman named Julia Staubb who opened her home to visitors- imagine! Still welcoming visitors today with guests making S’mores in the fireplace one evening! image

And over on Canyon Road, where statuary is completely amazing…the studios beckon you in… Yes, I do believe that hope for a new way of life, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for making a way to fling open doors and windows, hope to breathe fresh air endowed with healing powers- surely it was hope that convinced many to explore and to settle in this place- New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment! image

And with my favorite of all the doors, I’ll close…Love y’all, Camellia

 

Flowers of the Southwest…

 

If I were to compile a list of things I love about Santa Fe New Mexico, the list would be very long and surely incomplete. It is called ‘The City Different’ and that is true; but it is also an ancient city with light so stunningly perfect, artists who are now famous, settled there to capture and re-create things of amazing beauty- one is Georgia O’Keefe.

Her paintings of flowers are iconic. I share her love for the Flowers of the Southwest…they are not so different from my favorite flowers at home. The photographs include some from my list of favorites:

  • Morning Glories- my grandfather greeted me with ‘Moan-in’ Glow-ree!’ every time I spent the night at his house- I can still smell the coffee brewing and bacon frying  as my grandmother fixed breakfast-and hear his lilting happy greeting whenever I see morning glories.
  • Hollyhocks- which are a staple in Santa Fe and Taos- are loved in the South as well. I once grew some, my husband fertilized them- maybe over-fertilized them because they grew over 10 feet tall!
  • Roses- I can never grow enough roses! The light of New Mexico does something magical to Roses.
  • Trumpet Vine – is a flower we consider to be invasive, yet it’s charming blooms climbing up a tree here or over an adobe building there never fail to amuse.
  • Lavender- is not grown reliably in the South’s humidity- I plant and re-plant it- the fragrance reminds me of my grandmother’s Yardley Lavender Soap which she would put in muslin bags among her linens and lingerie drawers. Of course we loved to take a bath with it too!

And that’s just my short list of flowers! The photographs have not been re-touched- they have been edited just to showcase the flowers- I think you’ll agree they are amazing Southwest beauties! And because this was a ‘mystery vacation’ – I have included two photographs of flowers which are made by artists and are not real- see if you can find them! Enjoy…

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Everywhere I turned, it seemed there was a picture perfect moment. All but the last photograph were taken in Santa Fe and Taos, the last one in the historic district of Albuquerque, New Mexico. See if you can find the morning glories! I’m still trying to identify all of the different species I saw, help me out! I forgot to mention how much I loved honeysuckle when I was a child- pulling the ‘string out’ and tasting the sweet nectar!So, naturally I had to take a picture of that!

How would it be possible to make a list of the things I love about this part of the United States of America? How would it be possible not to be thankful to our Creator, for using broad brush strokes of beauty all across this land? No wonder great artists are still inspired to come to this region.   Our ‘mystery vacation’ holds more…

Love y’all, Camellia

Mystery Vacation  – go take a look!

oops I goofed! here is the other pot of flowers that is not real- can you believe these are made from very thin wood? again, not retouched in color..

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