Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Tale of Two Kitchens

Once there was a dream kitchen, two years in the planning, 9 months in the building - a gestation and birth. Our 30 plus year marriage was dying but I was too blind  and stubborn to see it. I thought we would come out the other end of the nightmare we were going through still whole. There had been a lot of personal denial spread over thirty  years, it had seeped into all the nooks and crannies of my life. And there was deception. Of course I never saw that. So the time came to begin the addition of the dream kitchen - my project - to busy myself with and take my mind off what became the dying of my life, my marriage, my family as I had known it. I charged ahead determined that I was going to saver every minute of the realization of this interior design of mine - this rebuilding - and hope that our relationship would be rebuilt along with my dream kitchen. But it was just a dream and a bad one at that. I was always alone in the work, alone in the dream. Alone in the belief we could withstand the poison that was spreading through our once I believed unbreakable bond loosening the ties. The final bit of work was to put up the hand painted tile murals and backsplash I had spent two years perfecting. I asked my then husband and was assured that we were going to make it - he said to install the tiles, we would be there to enjoy them. The tiles went up in January finishing the work. He told me in March he was leaving.

So I sold the house with the new dream kitchen. It had been our home for 20 years but it had become like a crypt for a dying dream. There were too many memories there for me to remain. I needed to find a new place to live and recover in. My only demands were a large art studio area and an inspiring view of the Mississippi River bluffs. I had decided I was not willing to give that magnificent view up - that was too much to surrender. I found all of that and more in my new home - and what wasn't there I added. I recreated my dream kitchen all over again this time just for me. I kept the hickory cabinets, the previous ones were alder, but changed out the cabinet hardware to the identical oil rubbed bronze twigs and butterfly pulls I had selected before. I switched the countertops to what I had chosen for the first kitchen and got matching appliances. I installed new oil rubbed bronze faucets and lighting and new paint to match the first selection. And I put up a new hand painted tile backsplash that I created all over again. This time I did the grout work all by myself and it felt great. I had my new dream kitchen and I did it all myself. And I wasn't surrendering again!

The top photos are from my new present and forever dream kitchen. The bottom photos are from my first dream kitchen that is being enjoyed by a new family now. I hope they have better luck there than we did. The photo of the large blue cupboard was designed by me for the first kitchen but taken to my new kitchen where it lords over my great room kitchen/living/dining combination. The strangest thing was that both these kitchen great rooms have the same exact dimensions = 18" x 26". Like it was meant to be.

Secrets Steal Lifetimes


     It is inconceivable how quickly a revelation can turn day into night, light into darkness, truth into lies. It is at that point you begin to doubt your own perception of the world you experience every day. What was true and so self evident yesterday is suddenly just a nest of lies, half-truths  and betrayal. You could spend the rest of your life trying to sort out the fiction from the reality. There are days when it swamps me and days when life moves on. The moving on is the only answer - some say it is strength - I say what choice do we have? Life moves on with or without us. It would be nice to go to one's grave knowing the truth of one's life - but then the truth of a large portion of my life was never in my own hands it seems. But the truth today is a different matter. It is solely my truth, I'm writing this chapter and the writing and the living goes on. 

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"She would lay in the darkness afraid to close her eyes. She would, like many nights before, stare at the slit of light of the nearly closed door waiting for her nightmare to burst in until finally exhausted, she could watch no more. On kinder nights, she would make up stories of fair maidens being rescued by handsome knights on horseback until 
sleep came."    Maureen Kavaney Tillman
       Welcome to my blog!   
                            and Shadows

Growing up in the house of a monster is an incessantly stressful, anxiety producing, never-a-safe-feeling existence. Not exactly the atmosphere one would choose to grow up in. Yet the daily tension and fear, the lack of a feeling of safety, the utter whole unpredictability of it based on whether the monster was in residence or not - whether the troll was under the bridge that day - necessitated the creation of a safe place to retreat to at least for a few hours. 

That place was in the wondrous world of imagination and creativity with art and words - the beginning of my artist self and writing voice. Such flights of fancy always included very real mystical beings consisting of fairies, leprechauns, elves, pixies, unicorns and the dreaded troll who would sometimes invade the sanctuary casting his shadow over all. 

Sometimes there was no portal to be found to that enigmatic place so in summers the only recourse was to run off into the secluded, inviting, sheltering forest that bound the house. It seemed to lie outside of the troll's domain for he never ventured there. In the woods you could build forts and castles filling them with wild flowers in abundance. There were: the beautiful pristine white trilliums, stately blue phlox, curious jack-in-the-pulpit, sweet violets in white, blue and yellow, the ethereal Queen Anne's lace, sunny yellow marsh marigolds, lilies and festive indian paintbrush - always intriguing to a fledgling artist, dainty wild asters, mayapples with their umbrella like leaves and the bewildering bloodroot, a delicate white flower that bled red from the stem when you picked it. Sometimes you would gather up a bouquet to bring home to your mother anticipating her loving embrace.

But always, sooner or later, through the dream-like ether of that peaceful place would come the cutting hot-tempered interruption of the monster's screaming whistle - like calling his hunting dogs home. You would race to get back before he whistled again - maybe you were deep into the woods, or had you missed his first call? - his whistle that made your heart race and your little feet run hopping over branch littered paths to get to the back door and feel the air to know if you were going to be ok - or not, that day.

In that world is where I met my muse. We grew up together. Or maybe she's my Guardian Angel or my Spirit Guide - whoever she is, she saved me from becoming lost to the more lethal forms of escapism that affect so many others. I thank her for that.

       Janeen Veronica Kavaney 1954-2009
        My sister, the one who never escaped. 
                                 I dedicate this first blog edition to her.
 Our pilgrim sister                          From her hospital bed
 Our firebrand                                  Semi coma state
 She blazed a raucous trail             She brought us all together
 And left us in her dust.                  Forgiveness was the glue
 We've already marked                   But now she sleeps
 These thirty years                          A less tortured rest
 That substance had her seized     At peace forevermore
 Tightly in it's grip.                         We'll miss you Jan
                                                           And love you well
                                                             Until we meet you at the door.

with love little sister always, Maureen


Three of my personal favorites that are currently in a gallery show. Many others are available in my etsy shop at:

 The first "Takes Your Breath Away" face: anyone who wants to use this image in their artwork feel free to take her.                                                                       

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