Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cashmere Wedding Throw

(...who by now, three and a half months on, is New Bride. And I really need to think of a better blog name for my Daughter-In-Love as just "Bride" doesn't really work. )

I'll never be able to back-blog all the happy days of this past summer but some Happy Days are not to be missed. One of those was our first official celebration of Active Son's and New Brides wedding week: a small family and close friends bridal shower for New Bride, well, Bride to Be, depending on how you look at it.

The ladies of our family hosted the shower at the home of our ever gracious and generous entire-Boise-summer hostess, with Oldest Daughter flying in just hours before the event. That's our hostess/friend pinching a berry from Tayta's awesome chocolate-berry trifle, and that is her punch bowl that we packed the trifle into.

And though not all the ladies of the family could attend this shower, the intention was to celebrate New Bride and her family, and the joining of our two families in marriage.

As I've had the great pleasure of getting to new New Bride's mother, I've gained sweet glimpses as to the loving and nurturing heritage that New Bride brings to our family. And I've gained a new friend--and prayer partner!

I prepared a couple special gifts for New Bride, with her and Active Son's colors in mind. Of course they would need some felted wool potholders for their first kitchen.

But the gift I really enjoyed creating for them was this recycled cashmere throw. The colors are a nod to the brighter palate of pinks and orange one might find in traditional Jordanian embroidery, with a little of the ubiquitous Jordanian aqua accent color thrown in, rounded out by the lighter earth tones of the arid land. And, magenta is New Bride's favorite color.

It is now gracing Active Son and New's Brides sofa in their Arizona apartment.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

In Him All Things Hold Together~A Mother's Tale

As I visited the other day with a Jordanian friend, whose house is full of children, ages 10-21, she asked me in an empathetic voice, "But isn't it hard having all your children so far away?" Oh, yes it is, I replied, but it is good. I wouldn't have chosen it, but because of it I experience God's goodness to me and our family. Too many ways to recount in a blog post, but I want to remember a very significant and meaningful way God let me experience that at the end of my time in the States this summer. Here's the extended version of what I told my friend:

Due to some uncertainties as to where our kids would be in August, Dear Husband let me make my return ticket to Jordan for August 23, about three weeks after he returned to Jordan. As the summer and fall plans of our children slowly became clear, what also became clear was that these three weeks were a generous gift from God during which I was able to spend time with each of them, and in three different parts of the country.

This also meant saying good-bye four different times--and that's just my kids. About mid-way through the summer a phrase bubbled up and skipped around on surface of my emotions: Pulled apart. That two-word phrase expressed the tension I was feeling as a mother, as a daughter, as a friend, and as a wife. All at once and in too many places. A few weeks later, as this phrase was again resounding in my heart, God answered my new mantra with this precious truth from his word--well, it became precious to me at that moment.

 ...And he (Jesus Christ) is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17)

There are more awesome truths about Jesus packed into this passage, but this is the particular one that God brought to mind for my comfort and encouragement, the perfect antidote to my tension.

The first good-bye was to Active Son and his New Bride. We packed their moving van and hugged and waved goodbye as they headed to Arizona, New Bride's homeland, full of family, where they hope to work and study for the next few years. This good-bye was made easier by knowing that Active Son and New Bride go together, looking forward to establishing themselves as a family.

After Active Son and his New Bride pulled out of Boise, I had about a few days to spend with Tayta before she returned to college and a new job as a resident advisor in the dorm. We visited friends, shopped, packed, and had some sweet times together, picnicking on the Boise river and knocking around downtown, drinking coffee/tea in the District coffee house. It was a good time for us to debrief the and look forward to the coming year.

After Tayta left for Houston, I moved from our summer lodgings to my parents home so that I could spend my last two days in Boise with just them. I hadn't realized how physically and emotionally spent I was until I arrived at their house, but of course there is no better place to crash then at home with mom and dad. They took good care of me and we enjoyed two gentle days of watching the Olympics, a couple ladies meals out, and relaxing walks. Perfect. Thanks Mom and Dad.

And so I began my solo journey back to Jordan. My first stop: a little over a week with Oldest Daughter and Music Man in Chicago. They had recently purchased a townhouse in the city and as it turned out, I would arrive during a week that Oldest Daughter planned some new-house projects and organizing. We accomplished a lot, I think, and had fun doing it together. And we even had time for a day of shopping in the city, two trips to the Lincoln Park Conservatory, a trip to the Chicago Botanical Gardens, with the bonus of attending Music Man's last summer Chicago Symphony Orchestra concert at Rivenia Music Festival, Itzhak Perlman conducting. I loved spending this time with Oldest Daughter and Music Man in their new home and it is comforting to know just where things are and how things are in their house when I think of them throughout the days we are apart.

One final stuff-it-all-in packing job, and I was headed back to Jordan, flying out through Boston Logan international airport since this is the airport we flew into at the beginning of the summer to attend Artist Son's graduation. Earlier this summer, I wrote about Artist Son's plans to attend graduate school in Houston this fall. Through a series of soul-searching events, Artist Son, with the affirmation of all who care about him, including the recruiting professor, decided to withdraw his application and take the desired and needed year off from a formal study program. Thus, he is still in the Boston area, living, working, learning, and making art. And his senior exhibition is now hanging in a local gallery. I hadn't seen him since June and probably wouldn't be seeing him until next summer, so I was thrilled that I had a five hour layover in Boston and would be able to have dinner with Artist Son in the airport.

Four hours is not a long time, but God's economy is perfect. It was enough time for my mother's heart to be assured and encouraged that all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. And what a wonderful thing it was to receive a great Artist Son hug before making my final turn toward home.

On the other side of the Atlantic and 20+ hours of travel, I was greeted by Dear Husband, smiling, alert, and fresh, even though he was picking me up from the airport at 3am. What loving and generous gifts he gave me by encouraging me to enjoy the time I had with each of our children while he lit and stoked the hearth fires of home, cleaning away three months of dust, bring the seriously wilted garden back to life, and chasing away the cockroaches that took up residence in our apartment while we were away.

It is good to be home, even with pieces of my heart walking around Chicago, Phoenix, Gloucester, and Houston, because I know that in Jesus we are held together.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Autumn Crocus

Yesterday I had a little time while waiting for my husband to finish in a meeting at the hospital, so I wandered over to a place on the hospital compound where I once found wild autumn crocuses blooming under a planted palm. September is the month to begin looking for such blooms. They are rare, and this is the only place I have ever spotted them. As it turns out, my timing was perfect--several petite bunches were blooming and in their prime.

Autumn Crocus
Colchicum tunicatum
Wildflower spotting: Mafraq

Monday, September 05, 2016

Flowering Jordan 2016 Calendar~September

I'm back in Jordan and pulling myself up onto the blogging wagon once again. Try, try again...

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wildflowers of Jordan 2017 Calendar Available for Purchase

US Friends, My Wildflowers of Jordan 2017 is available for purchase for a short time, before I return to Jordan. They are $10 apiece, which includes postage, or $7 if I can hand it to you in person. Please send me a message (desertmom88 at gmail.com) if you would like to one. Payment by check or Paypal. Thank you! 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Post Graduation Doings in Boston and the North Shore

We took a couple days after graduation to relax in Artist Son's familiar surroundings, allowing us to take another step into his college life and experience. On Sunday, we attended his church in Salem,  After lunch we drove to Gloucester to drop off his belongings at his part-of-the-summer residence and visit some art galleries along the bay.

Wharf and gallery poses

We celebrated Artist Son's birthday by going into Boston to visit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, a beautiful residence and personal art collection which became a museum at the bequest of arts patron, Isabella Stewart Gardner.

Beautiful gardens and architecture as well as beautiful art. It was a wonderful way to spend the day.

Notice the arc of light which follows the lines of Rembrant's left shoulder, up to the tip of the feather in his cap.

This work by Raphael was my personal favorite. The upward gaze of the monk's imperfect eyes and the rich red of his robe drew me into the painting again and again.

I liked this sketch, also by Raphael, noting particularly the balance of his composition and use of reds.

Artist Son chose an Italian restaurant for his birthday dinner, and his friend and mentor joined us for the celebration. 

A delicious carrot birthday cake was prepared by his friend.

A couple of scenes from Salem's harbor, taken just before heading to the airport. We were headed to Boise where we would be reunited with Active Son and his Bride To Be, and to prepare for their upcoming wedding--these were celebratory days for our family!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Strange Encounters~Senior Exhibition

Artist Son's senior exhibition, opened two weeks before we arrived for graduation. His friend took this picture of him on the opening day. Artist's Son's exhibition included seven works in oil on canvas, and they were hung in the small gallery of the Gordon's Barrington Center for the Arts. Thankfully, the senior exhibitions were still on display when we arrived in Wenham to celebrate Artist's Son Graduation.

Before entering the gallery, we picked up a copy of Artist Son's artist Statement:

Strange Encounters

This series explores the tension between humans and animals. Wild animals wander in a typically human landscape, that of the city. I want to paint animals in city-scapes because I am struck by their wildness within a structured, contained environment. 

The animals and humans pass by each other, confront each other, and sometimes inhabit their own separate spheres. Each enters, leaves, or stands uncomfortably on the border between connected spaces.

The soldier figure appears callous, but may or may not have a capacity for empathy. This raises questions of human brutality toward the 'other', whether human or animal. When soldiers dominate a city, it is usually a sign the city is no longer safe. It's an aggressive presence, but still human.

Space and light also become  characters on this stage and contribute to the suspense. As one wanders through the maze, there is no telling who, or what, is around the corner.

Entering the gallery, I immediately felt the calmness and serenity of the space, which seemed a result of an ideal marriage of space and art. Below are the seven works which made up this exhibition.

Never Together, Always Together


A Lonely Shadow



Into the Daylight

Elephant Musing

I waited for a family member to verbalize the question that I knew someone would ask, "What does it mean?" I had approached works of art in a similar way. And based on what I had learned from discussing art with Artist Son, I anticipated his response: "What do you see?" As the mom, perhaps I saw things that other's might miss, perceived influences from Artist Son's childhood: colors, lines, and shadows common to Jordanian landscapes, the use of wild animals, which have long fascinated Artist Son, and the imaginary worlds that he created with them.

Slow looking yields further perception and the delight that comes with recognition. Narratives with themes of ambiguity, tension, and relationship began to emerge. The role of passageways. Color; immediately delightful, but why? Beautiful tints (color mixed with white) of color masterfully expressing shadows, light, and emotion. Layers.My eye is not trained enough to know how Artist Son painted all the layers of paint and glazes, but I could appreciate the exquisite result. The paintings called us to look again and again.

After viewing Artist Son's exhibition, he gave us a tour of his studio and we were treated to a behind the scenes look at how he had created his pieces.

Artist's Son's studio space

The models

Demonstrating a painting set-up

The palate

Painting set-up for Wanderer, with the green tints

Artist Son also gave us a tour of the printmaking room and explained the process that he had learned and practiced in making prints. 

A lot of yet uncollected student work was still out on the work tables, including some prints that Artist Son had made.

Looking at this print, I couldn't help but think of a book from Artist Son's childhood, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase,

What's next for Artist Son? Until we were on our way to the airport headed to Boston, that was still being decided. Though Artist Son was leaning toward taking a year off to work on his art and apply to more MFA (Master of Fine Arts) programs, he made an eleventh hour decision to accept a very good scholarship offer to study with the acclaimed Houston painter, Michael Roque Collins at Houston Baptist University this fall.

For those who are interested, here is a short (four minutes) video about Michael Collins, Artist in Residence and director of HBU's MFA Program.

And another from a Houston arts television program. The spotlight on Michael Collins and HBU happen during the first segment/first nine minutes.

 Just days after the eleventh hour decision to go directly to grad school, Artist Son received an eleventh hour offer of a scholarshiped summer artist residency program at New York Academy of Art. That was a sweet and unexpected graduation (and birthday) gift!

Artist Son is presently enjoying his residency at NYAA, creating art and soaking up beauty and inspiration from the various museums and galleries throughout the city. You can follow him on Instagram at andrewmanningart.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Pomp and Circumstance for Artist Son

As evidenced by my two and a half month blogging silence, Dear Husband and I experienced a very busy spring season, and on May 12 we boarded a plane for Boston, headed to Artist Son's graduation from Gordon College in Wenham, Massachusetts. We hadn't returned to Massachusetts since we dropped Artist Son off at Gordon to begin his freshman year as a homeschooled graduate who had grown up overseas--his college adjustment learning curve was steeper than most. What a delight it was to visit him on campus four years later to see how Gordon had become a familiar place to him and to observe the good rapport and relationships he enjoyed with peers and professors. It was a gift to step into his world if only for a couple of days.

Pre-Baccalaureate selfie

We arrived on Thursday night and on Friday Artist Son gave us a tour of his art studio, the print studio, and the art gallery, were we viewed his senior exhibition, which was still on display (a separate post on that to follow). 

On Friday night we attended our first college Baccalaureate service, a graduation/worship service that is unique, I believe, to Christian colleges and universities. Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias delivered the talk.

Though it rained the night before, we awoke to a clear blue sky on graduation day, and so the commencement ceremony would be held outside. (My one oversight is that I forgot to bring sunscreen and I paid dearly for it. Who would have thought on a mid-May Massachusetts morning?)

Artist Son in the front row with his fellow-art students.

Gordon College is apparently very prudent in their assignment of honors cords, and as Artist Son was unadorned except for an Honors Society pin, I was surprised when I opened the commencement program and discovered that he was graduating summa cum laude. I asked him why he hadn't mentioned it and he said that he didn't even know about that distinction. He then mentioned that he was also invited to join the English Honors society but hadn't submitted the application. Typical hard-working, unassuming Artist Son style.

Bachelor of Art in Art, painting concentration, English minor
Summa cum laude

Gordon posted national flags for each country represented by a graduate, and so the Jordanian flag was posted for Artist Son--and the wind cooperated for the picture.

It was a long morning in the hot sun with little to drink and nothing to eat, but we steeled ourselves and took the requisite family-with-the-graduate-pictures. I'm glad we persevered.

Congratulations, Artist Son, and thanks to God for all the good gifts He has bestowed upon you these past four years. Your future looks bright as He is the one illuminating your path and we look forward to supporting you as you embark on the coming adventures.