Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Meet Janine... (Updated as the day drifted along...)

Janine has been blind since birth, but it has never kept her from loving life. She loves laying in the grass and feeling the sun on her face, and wearing nubby sweaters. She loves to touch and feel everything, and she will touch your heart...

Dear Ones,

I put the picture and little caption for Janine up when I awoke from a bad dream before dawn and needed to do something to shake my mind out of that place that sometimes won't let go of you so easily even when you are awake. I think I just needed to put Janine here because she is such a comforting presence, and I have learned something very interesting, and deep, and special about this process...

As you know by now if you have been watching this blog I start with an image I have drawn with pastels in an 8x8" sketchbook and then take that image into a photo manipulation program and play with it, coming up with lots of different colors and usually some pretty wild images will result. But with Janine, there were far fewer images than normal and they were all gentle and not wild or taken too far from the original.I realized, again, how real these women are to me as they appear, and that I felt especially protective of Janine, and not because she was blind -- she does very well thank you very much -- but there is something very tender and innocent about her and she doesn't belong in wildly manipulated, pop art images, for example. She is just a simple soul lying in the grass in the sunshine in her nubby sweater. I think the poems of Emily Dickinson are running through her mind. I think she knows Emily's poetry far better than any of us who are sighted ever will because she lives in the bottom of the words where each curve of a letter is like a hammock she can lie in and swing in the breeze for awhile. She digests Emily's poems and they become part of her in a way that is visible if only you really know Janine.

"Janine drinks tea, not coffee, but she has a vast array of very good loose teas in beautiful china that she has purchased in a second hand shop down the street from her. The proprietor of the shop, "A Place Your Grandmother Would Have Loved," is one of Janine's dearest friends, Maxine, who is 81, and very elegant in the vintage attire she always wears, will call Janine and say, almost breathless, "Oh, Janine! You simply MUST come to the shop THIS instant. I have to show you the new cups I just got in," and Janine will grab her straw hat, and cane, and her Golden Retriever, Lucy, and she will head out down the street practically skipping. Sometimes Lucy gets a little nippish with Janine because once she's had one of those cup conversations she would fairly sail into the middle of traffic if Lucy didn't have a firm grip of the situation.

Today Lucy and Janine arrive Maxine grabs her and hugs her so hard she knocks Janine's hat off, and she hands Lucy a biscuit and sits Janine down in an old rocking chair that is over-sized and comfortable. Janine holds her hands out in just the shape made for holding a cup and Maxine gently sets the cup in Janine's hands. She waits for a few moments for Janine to feel the cup, and Janine takes her time, sliding her finger around every curve and through the little handle, feeling the weight of the cup and the delicacy of the porcelain. She needs a little time to dream and think of all of the teacups she has read about in the Victorian novels that she loves so well, and when she sits back in the chair and relaxes, holding the cup to her heart, Maxine slowly describes the cup to her. This cup is covered with overblown old peach colored roses on a cream background. It is quite old and unusually made for it's time. And Maxine tells Janine as much as she knows of it's provenance -- she already knows that Janine will buy this one -- and Janine rocks and smiles, slightly, while Maxine embellishes the tale of all of the places the cup has been, all the tables it has sat upon with the teapot beside it. 

Maxine puts an old, scratchy record on the Victrola in the corner, Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, and after carefully wrapping the cup and putting it in a box tied with ribbon she pours Janine a cup of Elderberry tea and they talk until late afternoon until Lucy begins to nudge Janine insistently. It will be dark soon and Lucy wants to shepherd her mistress home. 

There will be another day, and another cup, and tonight will be a night for dreaming."

How can I not fall in love with these women? I know them so well...

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