Monday, September 03, 2007

Birthday Gifts from Mom

For quite a few years, my friend Ellen from San Francisco and I had a Labor Day tradition of meeting up in Auburn, roughly halfway between Reno and the Bay Area, for an art-gallery-and-jewelry shopping spree. We haven't been able to do that for a few years now, since she adopted her little boy Paul. But today the Labor Day shopping tradition took a new form, when my friend Marin and I went to the Wildflower Village Gallery on Fourth Street in Reno.

Wildflower Village used to be -- and still is, in part -- a hotel, and it's the first place I stayed when I moved to Reno ten years ago. Gary was still in New York, and I stayed at the hotel until our apartment became available. The hotel was a little funky (this was well before the era of cell phones, and I had to use a pay phone outside because there were no phones in the rooms), but there were beautiful views of the mountains. A local shopkeeper recently told me that there's a gallery there now, and a few weeks ago I visited and fell in love with the place, which has room after room of lovely work by local artisans.

On that first visit, in anticipation of my annual birthday check from Mom, I bought this ring, an oval green turquoise. I couldn't quite get it in focus with our camera, but I hope this photo gives you some idea of what it looks like. (I wear two other, much smaller rings on that hand, one silver and one gold: they act as guard rings, and you can see a bit of them in this photo.) The stone matches some green turquoise earrings Mom bought me while she was here, and it reminds me of the colors of the Nevada desert. The ring was made by a local Native American woman and I bought it in the first place I stayed in Reno, so all of that felt nicely symbolic.

Last week, I got Mom's check, which was more than the amount of the ring, so when Marin and I went to the gallery, I knew I wanted something else. I used to spend birthday checks on sensible things like clothing, but now I'm far more apt to buy small or not-so-small luxuries!

I adore art glass, and on the previous visit, I'd been quite smitten with a blue-and-yellow glass vase I'd remembered as being just the right amount of money. Today, I went to look at it right away. I'd been wrong; it cost more than the remaining amount of the check, although not scandalously more.

So I wandered around and kept looking at other stuff -- including much more expensive art glass I never would have dreamed of buying, but that Marin kept trying to entice me to put on layaway -- but I kept coming back to this vase, partly because it "felt like" Mom to me. Her bedroom's always been blue, but I wondered why the yellow resonated too, aside from just being pretty.

And then I figured it out.

My mother visited here during the summer of 2002, when I was in the final days of writing The Necessary Beggar, and she read the book in manuscript. She loves it so much that I dedicated it to her. For quite a while after I finished the book, she and my sister both kept giving me various beetle objects, in honor of the beetle in the book. For my birthday that year, Mom -- who's always been very handy at needlework -- commissioned an artist to design a cross-stitch pattern of a beetle. She did the embroidery and put it in a blue frame, to symbolize the blue door at the end of the novel. As you can see, the beetle's orange-yellow, and it matches my new vase. My subconscious connected the two before my rational mind had figured out the link.

So, of course (with helpful urging from Marin), I bought the vase. Here it is on our deck, with the sunlight streaming through it and making a pattern that looks like water on the wooden table. I love it!

Oddly enough, I'm not worried about the cats hurting it; they haven't harmed any of my other art glass, and I don't know why they'd start now.

Thanks for the great birthday gifts, Mom! And thanks for the shopping encouragement, Marin!


  1. That is one gorgeous vase! Congratulations and may your birthday be all you could wish for!

    Hope & Joy!

  2. Anonymous12:06 AM

    Happy Birthday, Susan! The vase is lovely, and especially given how much of yourself you give out to others, how nice that your family and friends can help you have beautiful things for yourself too ...



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