Monday, October 25, 2010

Old Friends

While I was at my parents' house, I picked up some things that they wanted me to have. One was a fragment of carpet, a rather large fragment -- 8' x 12'.  It's big enough to go in my dining room. My dining room floor looked like this, a nice wood floor.  But in spite of putting felt bottoms on our chair legs, and then putting on plastic gliders, I knew we were scraping the floor each time we ate.
The carpet was large and cumbersome, and I was concerned that 2 of the edges are unfinished. It had been cut up to fit a space before, and a few pieces needed to be removed.  I used Adam's exacto knife to cut and trim the edges more evenly. I dragged the carpet up from the living room, where we'd unrolled it.
And this is what it looks like in the dining room.  I wasn't sure I would like it, but I do. It will protect the floor, which is what I really care about.  And if we spill on it, it's not a big loss.  But I do have one question for myself and for you:  why do we protect floors with carpeting, when the carpet keeps us from looking at the very floor we want to keep beautiful ... but never see?  A quandary.
My mother was also clearing out some treasures. Now, my mother is an interesting person.  She has many gifts, and one of them is her ability to choose and keep good friends.  An extraordinary percentage of my mother's best friends have been artists, really fine artists.  How to explain this?  Only that something in the artist's temperament appeals to her, and when she meets an artist, she can't help but befriend her.  Thus, my mother's home is full to the gills of beautiful pieces of art that her friends have given her.  It's nice, I suppose, to decorate one's home from Hobby Lobby or Pier One or Bombay Company.  But I much prefer my mother's method.  Almost every picture in her home was done personally by my brother Max, or by a dear friend.

One of these friends is Carroll Karlak.  Carroll was a unique woman, and a good friend to me as well.  She was dear, kind, simply and unassuming, and very, very gifted. She loved to paint animals.  She accompanied mother and me to the Jackson Zoo, took photographs of the animals, and painted them. Anyway, Mother graciously gave me a few of Carroll's smaller pieces.

This blue floral piece has a fun story.  Carroll gave mother this piece, wrapped up in a white box.  Instead of wrapping the box, she decided to paint the top of the box with the same picture she'd put on the artwork, so she did. When she gave it to my mother, I got the box!  Of course, it was only on a white box top, but that didn't matter to me! I framed my first "Carroll Karlak" piece, and put it on the wall.  This weekend, my mother gave me to "real McCoy" too :)
Here's another lovely piece.  I disassembled both of these to clean the glass.  Inside the red one, I found a note card to mother from Carroll, taped inside behind the print. Like Tasha Tudor, Carroll tended to ornament her notes with fun drawings and examples along the margins.
They're hanging together in my living room now, right next to my spot on the couch, where I can enjoy them.
Here's one of Carroll's animal pieces -- elephants.  When I put this one up this morning, Julia said, "Oh! I love that one! I'm so happy we have it now!"  We'll look at it every day.  These pieces remind me of Carroll and what a wonderful woman she was.  She died a number of years ago, and is deeply missed. But I know we will be with her again in a few short years in heaven, and she'll be painting again for eternity.
And two more pieces my mother gave me.  These are also rather special.  I remember the day she bought these, when we lived in Hopewell, Virginia.  Mother went to some artistic event, I don't know what it was.  She saw a woman painting door panels, and she loved her work.  But we were not wealthy, and mother couldn't afford to buy them.  What she did have, however, was an old home with lots of doors, some already removed and put in the basement, I imagine! She offered the artist a door (or two?), in exchange for 2 painted panels, and here they are.  I think my mother got the good end of that deal! The artist got a few spare panels to use, but we have enjoyed her artwork now for almost 40 years.
A close-up of the flowers.
Artwork is an old friend. I'm grateful to my mother for sharing her friends with me.


  1. This door panel thing looks like something my mother would do. Lovely pictures. I'm with Julia, I like the elephanti, too.

  2. Thanks, Mel - I didn't know your mom was an artist. I love how delicate these are, and the color.


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