I made a painting this morning—about an hour of my time—took a picture of it, posted on Instagram, Facebook, my ego, and then swept the crumbs and dust up around the house. A turkey bone stock sits simmering on the stove. For several months I have kept to a diet whole foods, plant-based because I wanted to take heart disease out of my life. Yet I am also home-maker to loved ones who never opted for this change (and yet never complain either). So I surprise from time to time with a meat feast such as last night, and now the carcass shares nutrients for future weak moments when I feel responsible for the care of others. That is, human others. Obviously I don’t care a lick for that delectable turkey.
While taking in a thousand joyful memories with the aroma of the stock, I looked around me as I swept. Several of Lena’s paintings still hang and wait for new homes. When another goes I will replace it with my own or the painting of another. I have made our house a salon of sorts, and this has suited me well for several years, but I feel it’s time for some different meat to sustain the spirit of those whom I share this home base with.
On Saturday night Rose and I went to a small dinner party at the lake house of new friends, Jack and Jill. Rose has worked with Jack at the college, and I only recently struck up conversation with the couple when they attended opening night of Lena Ulanova Entrainment. Jill is from Georgia (the country), and Jack from Lithuania, and of course their true names are not Jack and Jill. They loved Lena’s work and purchased the Spirit of the Forest (see below).
I guess our little gallery talk was pleasant since they invited Rose and I to their home for dinner and drinks.
It was hospitality and graciousness and love of life and Greek cognac that I drank like a shot of vodka, embarrassing myself for what I hope was the only time that evening. The food was delicious (I came off the WFPB diet for the second time in four months), and the conversation alive and new, which had better be whenever good people meet and break bread for the first time.
But it was the tour Jill gave of her house that humbled and moved me to a new direction for home decor and life expression. Every single object had meaning and value to the occupants of the home. Memories of a trip to Greece or Spain painted by Jill on a goose egg, a lost language in books treasured like an ancient monk’s manuscript in a library that could only be their library, a loving mother’s pillow-embroidery framed under glass, dinnerware with cherished memories, the food served with its own story, a tapestry from India, a thread-woven landscape from China, a handmade bed Jack made to welcome guests from far away…
And paintings hanging on every wall and up the stairwell! Each with its own story. I was drawn several times to those made by their daughter—a connection that could only make sense because this house was the house of Jack and Jill, and I was their guest, and their daughter was the thing they loved most in the world, and I had better leave knowing this fact…
Finally, in the last room, the ancestor wall—photos of Jill’s grandparents, keepsakes from mothers and fathers, Jill’s own art and craft—beautiful jewelry with haunting patterns in exotic stones and gems, and in the center spot, Lena’s painting, “The Spirit of the Forest”. Jack and Jill have honored Lena with prominent space in their memories.
You too must see this Lena. You are famous in the consciousness of others—a Russian aristocrat of the spirit.
I thought I made a home well. I know how to cook smells into a room to make any one nostalgic for their own past and present. But Jack and Jill expressed their lives to new friends more meaningfully than I have ever been able to do, and I’ve had a long life harboring that pressing desire.
It is time to strengthen the things that remain. I have much to do.
Thank you Jack and Jill for a wonderful meal and delicious quick-gulp cognac. You’ve changed my life with one dinner, and made Lena Ulanova a household name in America.
[More paintings like below, available for your own eternity. I ship framed, under glass carefully wrapped and ready to hang]