Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Another Art-form

Long ago my son-in-law got a new line. ( He like his father-in-law was a furniture representative ) This was an Italian Leather, very modern, line of upholstered living room furniture. While visiting in their home-town, I discovered a slew of discontinued leather samples in their basement, and asked if I could have a couple. I wanted to see if I could use them in my business. One of my most favorite works of art happened in my trying to use this leather.

Since I was limited in the color selection, I decided to use black and white photographs as spring-boards for my appliques. I had a photo of my sister (born in 1916) as a four year old holding hands with my father's oldest sibling and one of her daughters, my cousin I discovered when I thought about it. Another cousin who was considered 'slow' is also in the photo. I had painted this group in black and white. A huge painting. It was bought by a prominent family on Bainbridge Island. When I did this in leather it was immediately adopted by one of our children. The three grownups in the photo all wore ankle length overcoats which made a stark strong impression. They were surrounded by snow and deep shadows, done in grays and blues. I quickly tried another and that too was absorbed by one of our children.

And while looking through these old black and white photos, I found one of the four Svensson children from about 1925, lined up behind our well. We were between the well and the fence which enclosed our property. from left to right it is me, my sister, my little brother holding a truck and my older brother holding a wooden gun. We are standing on the cobblestones which surrounded the well. The fence was painted barn red in reality. But what is the thing hanging on the fence? Behind me?

It is the mattress from my bed. I was a bed-wetter until I was a grown teenager. My mother always told me I did it on purpose. Nothing can be more embarrassing for a child than being a bed-wetter. I, every morning had to get up early to rinse my sheets and on clear days I had to hang them outside. It was such an open secret, Not so much when we lived by the beach, for no-one walked by, but after father died and mother had to buy a dry-good store in the middle of the village and the whole family moved there, then it was for the world to see. People did not seem to have much knowledge of psychology in those days, but I was happy to hear when I came to America that it was really my mother's fault that I had that problem. Nothing like that has ever happened since I left home and even now at nearly 90 I am not incontinent. ( What a thing to talk about !!!!)


Barbara said...

I hope that one of your children who owns one of these leather art pieces will email you a photo of it so you can post it on line. We would all love to see it/them, too!

YTT said...

I used to live abroad, and all of us expats used to say that it was no accident we had gone so far from our families. Each of us had his/her own reasons. It sounds like you had very very good reasons for coming to America. It's wonderful you could break away from your mother and have such a rich and interesting life. But what a shame that you had to suffer so as a child.

Haphazardkat said...

I guess we can be thankful (selfishly so...) for your mothers cruelty to you--for it apparently created a well of angst for you to draw upon and create beautiful art with.

Vancouver, WA

Della said...

If no one ever talks about things like incontinence and bed wetting, then the ones who suffer from those things think they're all alone. Thanks for sharing as you do!

Della (who's currently in WA realizing why she moved to the sunny south.) lol

Richard Massengill said...

I found your blog by way of your grand daughter's DailyCoyote site. It's refreshing to read that you are able to write from the inner most depths of your soul. I too struggled with bed wetting as a kid. My story however had a little different twist to it. I grew up in east Tennessee having moved with my mom, dad and three sisters from Long Beach California at the age of 5. I shared my room with shelves of can goods and supplies we used in our daily life. I do not remember when the bed wetting started but I do remember when it stopped. I too had to rinse the sheets and carry the mattress outside on sunny days. We lived out in the country so I only had family to suffer through. One day, I believe I was 9 or 10 at the time, my uncle that is two years older than me were sitting on the edge of the mattress smoking grapevine sticks. That was the first mistake, the next was not noticing the embers that fell on the mattress. As we left my yard for his house we happen to notice the smoke coming up from behind my house. We run back and found the mattress ablaze. Needless to say my third concern was what will I be sleeping on that night. My first and second concern was the reaction of my mother and my father. My mother's reaction was, what were you thinking, and why were you smoking. I had to wait until my father came home from work to get his reaction. When he found out about what happened, being the practical man he was, he never got angry. Instead he went to my grandmother's house and got a mattress tick. He handed it to me and pointed to the wheat straw stack and said go fill it up. I don't remember how long that went on before I got a new mattress. I just remember going each day and filling up the tick with straw and thinking what will I do when the stack is gone. It was punishment for my crime, but after awhile I actually got to enjoy the smell of fresh straw when I sunk down into the mattress. I guess that was the therapy that stopped the bed wetting.
I tell my daughter that one of the therapies of getting older is that I can tell stories like this and not care what folks think. Life is good!