Author Archives: jennifermichie

The Written Word Endures #9

“We’re here.”

In an explosion of cheers and yelps, the car doors flung open as Palmer and Cara leaped out and ran like wild Indians across the dunes to the beach beyond. Lovie laughed and placed a hand to her heart as memories played in her mind. That was just what she and her older brother, Mickey, used to do. Now, years later, her children loved it here as much as she did. She pulled herself from the car and set her hands on her hips, lifting her face toward her house.

Primose Cottage was perched high on a dune overlooking the sparkling blue water of the Atlantic. It was the same pale yellow color as the primroses that grew wild on the dunes. With its blue shutters and doors, it looked like another of the wildflowers that surrounded it — purple petunias, sassy Indian blankets, and the lemon yellow primroses for which the cottage had been named. She lifted her hand over her eyes like a visor and searched for signs of wear and tear. The prevailing salt winds and the long winters were harsh on a house. A bit more paint was peeling, sand was thick on the stairs and porches, and there was yard work to be done, but all in all, the little house had survived another winter.

She felt the warmth of the sun as she pulled heavy brown bags of groceries from the car. It was just like the children to run off when she could use their help, she thought with a wry grin… Pushing open the the wood door, she was met by a wall of blistering heat and stale air in the closed-up house… Sweat beaded as she hurried to the large patio doors, unlocked them, and pushed them wide open… She was home at last! Home on the Isle of Palms.

In a burst of enthusiasm, Lovie felt the young girl hiding deep within her spring to life. Chores could wait. Unpacking the rest of the car could wait. Cleaning and dusting could wait. At this precious moment in time, her children were out on the beach, playing in the sun. This, she knew, could not wait.

Lovie almost skipped to the linen closet to pull out three thick terry cloth towels. She didn’t usually use her better towels for the beach, but sometimes one just had to break the rules. She tossed the towels in an empty grocery bag, grabbed her floppy purple hat, and hurried out the door.

Her heels dug deep into the soft sand as she raced along the narrow beach path…Immediately she spotted her children cavorting in the surf like shorebirds — Palmer a shorter, pale-chested sanderling, her dear “peep”, running on thin legs, dodging waves. Cara a sleek, slate-black hooded gull, raucously calling and laughing with joy.

Joy… It filled Lovie’s heart as she sprinted toward her children. She paused only to slip out of her shorts and tug her T-shirt from her body to toss on the sand. Her simple black maillot folded to her woman’s body, but she felt ageless as she raced to the waves. With a cry, she leaped into the water, splashing and surprising her children, who whopped in excitement at her arrival. She heard their calls — “Mama! Mama!” — as birdsong before she dove under the oncoming wave. The water was startlingly chilly yet refreshing.

Stroking beneath the water, she felt all the accumulated dust of the city wash away. Lovie kicked her legs, pushed with her arms, and burst to the surface. Gasping for air, tasting salt, she felt the warmth of the sun on her face.

– Mary Alice Monroe, Beach House Memories

* It certainly feels like summer around these parts. I’m on my third book in one week! We’re devouring books whole around here! My Mom introduced me to Mary Alice Monroe many moons ago, when she gave me a copy of The Beach House. The sequel to this book is just as moving and for anyone who grew up in or around the Lowcountry it certainly speaks to your Southern heart. I was left in pieces after this book. It was eloquently written. And as sea turtles have been a cause near and dear to my heart since I was a child, this book in particular is very special.

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School’s Out For Summer

I met Mr. Michie Friday afternoon with Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” blasting from my iPod. The wide smile on his face let me know just how happy he was!

It’s one of the prerequisites of summer in our house to watch Dazed & Confused at the end of every school year.So on Friday night, with pizza and a carpet picnic we set up the projector and screen and started summer off right!

School’s out for summer and it feels so good!

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up

Frida on White Bench, Nickolas Muray, 1939

A few months ago, Mr. Michie surprised me with tickets to the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A, Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up. She has long been one of my favourite artists and someone that I feel an unexplainable deep connection to. Our tickets were for an early morning entry, which was perfect. It was busy, but not too busy; so you had the luxury of lingering over a piece without the worry you were in someone else’s way.

The show was beautifully presented and laid out in manner that represented and reflected significant stages in her life. There were photographs taken by her father I had never seen before as well as some of her earlier sketches and drawings. There was film footage of her and Diego Rivera at their home, La Casa Azul in Mexico. The Kodachrome colours of the film gave it such a vibrant and dreamy hue.

Upon Kahlo’s death in 1954, her husband placed many of her personal belongings inside a bathroom in their home and locked them away. La Casa Azul later became a museum to Kahlo’s life. Shortly before his death in 1957, Rivera made a request to a close friend, Dolores Olmedo, that this room containing Kahlo’s intimate belongings should remain locked for the next fifteen years. Olmedo, seriously took Diego Rivera’s request to heart and decided to keep the room sealed until her death in 2002. It was only after Dolores Olmedo’s death that the museum was able to gain access to the sealed bathroom and then began the process of cataloguing the hundreds of items that had been placed within those walls and frozen in time. As a curator and art historian, that would have been a dream job to have been a part of.

As you moved into the last two rooms of the exhibition, her personal possessions were front and center. The six cases that held some of her most intimate things were laid out in two rows of three. It gave the impression of being within a dormitory as the display cases themselves were beds; replicas of her bed. The irony was not lost on me that her bed was a place that she spent a good deal of time within due to her injuries and multiple surgeries and now her possessions were laid out on a “mattress” between the four posters of these faux beds. The outer walls of this room were lined with photographs and personal letters.

Left: Prosthetic leg with leather boot, 1953 – 4, Mexico. Right: Plaster corset, about 1954, Mexico. Photographs by Javier Hinojosa. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Archives, Banco de México, Fiduciary of the Trust of the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums. Museo Frida Kahlo.

Compact and powderpuff with blusher in ‘Clear Red’; Seal-fast nail varnish top coat; Lastron nail varnishes in ‘Frosted Snow Pink’ and ‘Frosted Pink Lightening’; lipstick in ‘Everything’s Rosy’. Photograph by Javier Hinojosa. Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Archives, Banco de México, Fiduciary of the Trust of the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museums. Museo Frida Kahlo.

Just to name a few things, displayed within those cases were her Revlon nail polish bottles, lipstick, sunglasses, Pond’s cold cream, shoes, her plaster corsets that she painted, her prosthetic leg, crutches, and perfume bottles. It was extraordinary to me that these things still existed and the condition they were in, was astounding! If you are very, very lucky an artist’s palette or a few bits of paint that they used might still exist, but never in my wildest dreams would I imagine someone’s make-up still being in existence.

The final room of the exhibition contained a huge case in the center of the room, displaying her clothes, with self-portraits, jewellery and other objects along the outer walls. To see so many items of her clothing in person that she had been photographed wearing was phenomenal. To have stared at photographs of her for most of my life and then to see that very outfit in front of my eyes was almost beyond belief.

One thing that struck me in this room was a necklace that had been created out of different sized pieces of jade. At the center hung a carved jade hand that was formed into a fist. It was quite large and I wondered if the weight of that around her neck ever bothered her? Anything that would have put pressure on her spine must have been uncomfortable, but yet she wore the necklace any way.

In a way she curated her own life and her pain through not only her artwork, but her clothing. Each item carefully chosen, colourful lipstick and nail polish carefully applied. Her hair braided in a very specific way with ribbons worked into it. There was an intimacy to this show, it almost bordered at times on being too intimate, like I had snuck into a place I shouldn’t be and opened the dresser drawers and rifled through them. It was an incredibly unique perspective on a woman that I have long admired and in a strange way, seeing so many of her personal belongings almost made her more mythical than not.

*As I enter exhibitions it is sometimes difficult to take off my curator/art historian “hat”, in the back of my mind I’m always considering the layout, I watch how others interact with the displays, or move around the exhibition, I pay attention to signage and font usage… One thing I was fascinated by within this show were the mannequins that were dressed with her clothes. The video below is a captivating look into how the V&A created them. Enjoy!

Hello, Friday!

“Hello, Friday! We’ve been waiting on you all week!”

I don’t know about anyone else, but I have been waiting for Friday all week! This week has been a roller coaster, but we’ve marched on.

Mr. Michie surprised me ages ago with tickets to see an exhibition of one of my favourite artists, Frida Kahlo. There is an exhibition at the V&A of her personal things. So that’s on the weekend agenda as well as cooking together, listening to music, enjoying the sunshine and soaking up life.

I hope you have a wonderful Friday, wherever you may be today! 

{Image FOUND //  Pinned HERE}