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THE COLORS OF YOUR LIFE


Blanket Swirl

Swirling Colors” original watercolor painting by kayti sweetland Rasmussen

We each live many lives. While looking out my kitchen window this morning, watching the life of my neighborhood, I realized, that I have not always lived in a neighborhood, and it’s really quite nice. Color swirls about us moving us through to the next phase of our existence.

There are the new neighbors from Burma trimming their garden painstakingly. A young girl passes by frequently and we wonder about her. She is sad looking and does not look up nor answer a greeting. She just plods along to somewhere. There is the man we call the “Rock man” because we thought he always had a load of rocks in his backpack. It turned out to be his groceries. We recognize the neighborhood dogs being led on their daily excursions. It is through them that we ask their names and finally the names of their guides.

An old couple go by holding hands. They are stooped and have that peculiar rocking motion old people frequently have. The ethnic diversity has changed through the years. Instead of predominately blond, blue-eyed children walking to local schools, we see more dark hair these days. Mothers who help teachers walk past on field trips to the nearby children’s museum, frequently wear head scarves or saris. Through the years, the clothing may have changed, but the quirky behavior of the kids remains the same. Each year we seem to lose a few plants in the parking strip as energetic boys push each other into them. The language has changed however, with an inordinate use of the “F” word.

It also made me think of all the places I have lived in my life. I am a “Navy Brat”, which is what the children of Navy personnel are called. It is a proud appellation, and I’m sure all the “Army Brats” feel the same pride in their father’s career. The actor, Robert Duvall is an Army Brat, and has the same history of moving to new ports. You learn to make friends fast because you probably won’t stay long. During my school years up till the end of high school, it meant an annual migration for me. Even the birds migrate. We lived in a series of forgotten apartments, a couple of which had bathrooms down the hall.

I got used to always being “the new kid” at school. The routine was always the same. Someone took you to the right room and the teacher introduced you to the class, who then looked you over closely, and determined immediately whether you were worth knowing. The boys took the opportunity to make faces at their friends and the girls narrowed their eyes and sent the message that you were not “one of them”. I was never invited to an “overnight” stay until I was thirteen, and my father would not have allowed it anyway. The argument “all the other kids get to do it”, never went over with him. Girl Scouts and Campfire Girls were out of the question.

On my tenth birthday I had a birthday party with three other little girls in our neighborhood in Long Beach, California. I wore a peach-colored dress and a birthday hat. In New London, Connecticut, I was invited to a party when I was eleven, at which “Spin The Bottle” was played. I wore a new yellow silk dress, and when I found out the game meant you had to actually kiss a boy, I called my mother to come and take me home! We went as a family to see “Gone With The Wind” in 1939 when it opened in Hartford, Connecticut. I had a new pink coat, and hat with a streamer. My mother had a new dress and my father was out of uniform in a new suit which I had never seen before.

Strange how I always remember what I wore on various special occasions. In my last two years of high school, I joined the ROTC and wore a cool uniform. When I graduated from high School in Alameda, California, I wanted to join the Navy and wear a WAVE uniform, but being only 17 and underage, and my Navy father would not sign.

Though I love color, I have always identified myself as a sculptor who happens to paint. In sculpture, color merely enhances what the lines have already accomplished. We are all a mass of swirling colors hurrying to the next phase of our existence.

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28 comments on “THE COLORS OF YOUR LIFE

  1. Lovely article. I am in Idaho and the leaves are changing colors. Just as life does.

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  2. Amazing SweetKayti how you remember what you wore so many years ago. My Helvi is the same. She sometimes looks at the shirt I am wearing and will recall when and where she bought it. Considering some of my shirts are many years old, I find her memory frightening.
    The same with films and books she has seen or read. Perhaps I am just lazy and forever absent in the present !
    I find your watercolours truly inspiring and can’t get over the lovely flowing freedom expressed by them. A real joy giving.

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  3. Lovely memories and images, Kayti. Thank you for sharing them. Laughed about spin the bottle.

    I’m remembering now two dresses that thrilled me, that I’d still like to be wearing. One a dress of emerald green cotton my mother crocheted, and the other a pink and white patterned dress with two frills around the bottom and white ric-rac braid.

    Love, Narelle xxx

    PS. It’s a wonderful painting.

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    • Both addresses sound darling.  I crocheted 2 dresses for my two girls.  Your hair looks the color which would certainly be complemented by emerald green.  So much fun to dig up these old memories, I can’t quite remember what happened to cause the kiss that never happened.  Probably just As well.  Also we have to remember my extreme youth.  If it happened a couple of years later, I might have dragged some poor unsuspecting boy around the corner .  Bisous,  Me

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  4. You are an artist because you observe, you look and you remember and you place it somewhere to use later. Lovely words.

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  5. Kayti, you’ve a great memory. Loved this post. Your art work is fantastic. Love seeing pics of your work.

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  6. This post is a rich vein, Kayti. I will enjoy thinking of myself as a “mass of swirling colors”. I have a Double Wedding Ring quilt, made by my mother and incorporating pieces from fabric she had used to make dresses for my daughter. How it brings the memories back to move my finger over that quilt, thinking of that little girl with all her bright dresses. Now she has children of her own.

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    • The wonderful thing about quilts and their color is the family history they create.  I have 2 quilts made by my great-grandmother Lucy.  The Drunkard’s Path is one and the Double Wedding Ring another.  I am so delighted to have them and think of this tiny lady working over them even though she was obviously a terrible seamstress and quilter!  It is the thought that counts after all!  I have my grandmother’s wedding dress which was sewn by Lucy and which my grandmother and her stepmother Louise also worked on.  It is clear who worked on each part!  The stepmother was an expert, my grandmother very good and little Grandma Lucy perhaps had poor eyesight!  Part of the delight of a “piece” quilt is recognizing pieces of the dresses they came from.  I have one small quilt which has cigar ribbons incorporated.  Very interesting.

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  7. What some readers today wouldn’t understand is that those ribbons you’ve painted aren’t for tying up a gift. Well, they could be – but they’re from an era when such ribbons decorated broad-brimmed hats, the waistlines of dresses,the bottoms of skirts. They’re beautiful – I can feel the texture. Grosgrain, I believe was the word.

    My sixth-grade graduation dress was peach-colored. What I remember most about it is that the beautiful peach-sherbet color of it matched the trim on the little sugar scrolls some mother made for us. Each scroll had our name and “Congratulations”. Who does such things today? What school would allow it?

    Your comment about line and color is interesting. I have two Bradley and Hubbard plaques. One is colored, and is identical to this one. The other is bronze, with no color. The “feel” of one is so different from the other. I’ve never thought about it, but it could be that the color is the reason for the difference.

    I so love your entries. They’re not only worth admiring for their own sake, they start me thinking about so many things. That’s part of the beauty of collections – it takes a long while to understand what we have!

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    • Those ribbons actually belonged to my Grandmother.  She was a great collector of fabrics and accessories.  I’m happy you appreciated them.  They are grosgrain, and I think very beautiful.  She made all my mother and aunt’s dresses, and I carried on that tradition, plus my own.  Women today don’t have the time to spend at a sewing machine, and the costs are not much cheaper than some store-bought, and my daughters felt they were special   in that no one had clothes just like theirs.  I bought a dress for one girl for a 9th grade dance and she came home distraught because some one else had the same dress. I too made cupcakes for special occasions at the girl’s schools, staying up most of the night making tiny bunches of grapes, etc.  When one daughter was divorced, she made money by baking special occasion cakes, and some catering.  Now she has no time for any of it.  Too bad how some things have changed. I try to watch Antique Roadshow when I can, and I love seeing all the wonderful things people find in their homes.  I particularly like the British ones.  They have some great ceramic appraisers.  People sometimes don’t realize what treasures they own, and I feel sorry for those who find what they thought was of real value, is worth nothing.  Although family history is worth far more than money. I’m going to look up the Bradley and Hubbard websight today.   Kayti

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      • My mother sewed my clothes, too – and my doll clothing. She was a great knitter, as well, and I still have some she made for me. After she died, there were several sweaters that were finished but not put together. The women in her knitting group finished them for me – what a wonderful thing to do!

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      • And now more treasured than ever I imagine.    I think you must have grown up in my house as well!  I knitted sweaters each Christmas and at the beginning of each school year for my girls, and later for all the grandchildren.  I also crocheted and did needlepoint.  I nearly went blind crocheting a black wool skirt with very fine stitches.  It looks smashing though! 

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    • you Bradley and Hubbard plaque is lovely.  I really like the Arts and Crafts look.  I have a number of pottery pieces—Roseville, Rookwood and Weller.  Too bad we can’t have all the wonderful things we see!  I have trouble storing the stuff I have now.  Painting live under my beds, and garage shelves are stacked with sculpture. 

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      • I knew we were soul sisters, somewhere, somehow. I’m the one who ended up with china under the bed, in the closet, on top of the washer and dryer. Really, it got a bit out of hand. One of these days I’m going to write a post called “Birth of a Collector” that tells the whole story of how I got started – how it really is my dad’s fault for accepting that set of china when he bought my mother’s engagement ring in 1938! And of course I’ll tell of my conversion on the road to being run out of house and home by the stuff – my collecting taught me a great lesson that has helped me in my writing, immeasurably!

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      • Please do write about your collections.  I have cleared out a lot of my things in the past few years.  I knew of course that my children would be forced to do it sooner than later.  You will understand how there are some things you just can’t part with, and things that perhaps no one else will love and appreciate as yourself.  In selling my sculpture studio two years ago I became ruthless and simply gave things away that had been sitting in cupboards and that would never be finished.  Now I realize that most of the antique furniture we have collected and inherited are unwanted by my family, since their styles are quite different, and life is no longer as formal and structured.  I have hopes from one grandson living in San Francisco!  I told him last week when he came for dinner to choose what he wanted and he said “I want it all!”  Of course right now he lives in a small apartment on the Marina with his girlfriend so I’ll just have to hang around for awhile longer!

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    • I had not been familiar with The Mattress By the Tomato Patch”, but read some excerpts this afternoon.  Olga was a great character.  You can clearly picture her pitching the mattress out the window by herself.   I will have to check it out of the library in its entirety.  Williams reminds me of some of Steinbeck.

       

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      • The name of the collection where “The Tomato Patch” is found is “Hard Candy. Here’s just a snippet of the passage I love:

        The wonderful rocking-horse weather of California goes rocking over our heads and over the galleries of Olga’s summer hotel. It goes rocking over the acrobats and their slim-bodied partners, over the young cadets at the school for flyers, over the ocean that catches the blaze of the moment, over the pier at Venice….

        …It has gone rocking over accomplishments and defeats; it has covered it all and absorbed the wounds with the pleasures and made no discrimination. For nothing is quite so cavalier as this horse. The giant blue rocking-horse weather of Southern California is rocking and rocking with all the signs pointing forward. Its plumes are smoky blue ones the sky can’t hold and so lets grandly go of…”

        It’s just wonderful.

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      • Love it.  I’ve never thought of an earthquake as a rocking horse, but I will from now on.  And a colorful one as well with smoky blue plumes.  Wonderful imagery. 

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  8. Oh my, what lovely reflections!

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