Friday, May 15, 2015


During the Lent season I attended several of the fish fry dinners hosted by the men’s group of a local Catholic church, Mary Our Queen, where my parents are parishoners. It’s a treat, what with all the food, and laughing and gabbing, fellowshipping at its finest — not to mention that there's nothing more attractive than a man cooking (well, maybe a man pushing a stroller or wearing a Santa hat at Christimastime, but I digress). This year Harleigh was able to make a couple of the fries, and she and I and my mom enjoyed the company of whoever was at our table, with the added bonus of watching my dad, a member of the men’s club, who multi-tasks with the best of ‘em, serving dinners to the hungry patrons while drinking red wine out of a plastic cup and nibbling food from the kitchen’s warmers. He always looks happy in this element, and so it makes us happy.

At the last of the fries that I attended, a woman walked by our table and began talking to my mom. She was there to pick up a carry-out order to take home for her and her husband. My mom introduced her to me and Harleigh. An attractive woman maybe 10 years my senior, Nannette is obviously artsy. She was wearing an oversized t-shirt with a Picasso-esque image painted over the entire front, an old denim shirt spackled in paint, sweat pants, comfy and stringless tennis shoes, and had her thick gray hair loosely piled on her head with stray strands framing her face, that effortless bun that I always strive for and never quite achieve without looking like I left the house with bed head.

I asked her about her shirt, and from there we chattered on, bound by interests and a hunger to know more about each other. When she said she had a painting studio, I didn't hold back. I'd love to see it, I piped up. And with a Southern drawl and a smile as embracing as a hug, she replied that yes, I must come to see her studio. When Nannette walked away, Harleigh looked at me and said, “You want to be her, don’t you.” My girl gets me.

A few weeks later, post my vacation to the beach (Nanette asked that I please bring her back a shell), I drove over to her place. And I was not disappointed. She's an amazing artist with captivating stories tied to her work. I had a beyond lovely visit.

She works in about every medium — oils, pottery, wood, glass, fabric — and excels at them all. And she's a master at turning trash into treasure!

Here is the sewing area of her craft studio.

Lots of vignettes and inspiration . . . in every nook and cranny.

Her painting studio, with lots of works in progress.

The infamous bun.

She made these drawings using her left hand, and the paintbrush was a twig dipped in ink.
The pottery to the left was decorated using pieces of her hair as the tool to apply the design.

She had requested I find a shell or two for her at the beach. 
That wouldn't do for someone I knew would be so artistic.
So I collected only shells with holes in them (those perfectly round holes made by certain sea creatures preying on the what's inside the shell) and strung them onto a long piece of wire.
Which, of course, she hung in her studio!

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