Friday, July 10, 2009


Sunflower Journeys: Conclusion

Window in my laundry room depicting each of the Sunflower Journeys

I came home from each of these journeys with a treasure trove of irreplaceable memories, and I think that each of my grandchildren did, too. We saw that people are fascinatingly different from one place to another, and yet, in many ways, very much the same. If only everyone could be convinced of that and see the value in people everywhere. I hope my four grandchildren gained some insight into the different cultures they visited, and that one day they will continue the tradition. Alli said that she would for sure! Wherever they go, I will be with them in spirit.

Montage of Marcy in Italy and Sicily

After each trip, I made a photo montage to give to each child as a lasting memento of his or her journey. This photographic journal of the trip complemented the daily journal each child kept of her or his experiences while traveling. We also worked together to create a special keepsake of the trip honoring someone who was especially kind and helped bring the trip to life for us. On all but one trip, it turned out to be the tour guide who illuminated the stories behind the sights we saw.

Beth's montage of Mexico and the Pyramids

Zack's montage of Greece

Montage of Alli in France


Marcy and I created a large painting of an Italian woman who represented Giovanna, our tour guide in Italy, “serving up” culture. In our painting, Giovanna holds a towel and pictures of the places we visited in her arms. We calligraphed Giovanna’s mantra on the painting – “As long as you have culture in your life, you will never be poor."

Painting Marcy created of Giovanna

Box I created for Marcy using pottery shards we found on the beach in Taormino, Sicily

We also created a box using one of my clay faces and shards of pottery that we found on the shores of Taormino, Sicily. I imagine an ancient sunken ship’s lost cargo washing up on the shore when I look at this box.


Door Beth and I created showing Manuel and infamous parrot

Beth and I created a door depicting our tour director, Manuel. Manuel was enraptured with the beauty of Mexico and helped us appreciate it as much as he did. He bemoaned the fact that so many people in the world do not appreciate the wonders of his country, saying, "Eyes that don't see, hearts that don't feel." Well, that couldn’t be true of anyone traveling through Mexico under Manuel’s guidance. On the door Beth and I created to honor him, we depict Manuel holding the parrot that we had so much fun with in Palaneque. The door is located in my studio.


Replica of door and knocker Zack and I saw on the island of Hydra

Close up of door with Greek writing and knocker

While in Athens, Zack and I purchased one of the door knockers that can be seen throughout Greece. I wasn’t sure what I would do with it until I saw an old barn door at Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke. It looked almost identical to one we saw on a barn in Greece where donkeys were kept on a mountianside overlooking the sea. I traded two of my stained glass windows for it. Zack and I attached the knocker on the door. Then, Zack burned into the wood the words our tour director, Marina, repeatedly said of him as we traveled – “Not a boy, but not yet a man.” Marina had quizzed our group about Greece continually as we toured, and Zack was always able to answer her questions. By the end of the trip, he was clearly the “teacher’s pet.” The finished door now adorns my garden.


On Alli’s journey, we didn’t encounter anyone who impressed us like the tour directors on the other trips. So, we decided to create a less specific keepsake than those created for the other journeys. Alli allowed me to work on her painting since she was too busy with her many activities to spend the requisite time at my house working on it. I found a small wooden arched door that provided a perfect canvas for the painting. In recognition of the impressive ancient edifices we encountered throughout France, I copied ghostly images of castles onto organza and placed these in the background of the painting. In the foreground, I placed a woman gazing longingly at them. We named the painting “Dreaming France.”

Painting of 'Dreaming France'


In addition to the other keepsakes we created, I found an old window and painted four scenes in each of the four panes, one for each journey. I installed this window in my laundry room where it inspires me even when I’m tending to that most mundane of chores, washing clothes.

Window depicting each of the four separate trips taken with grandchildren France, Mexico, Greece and Italy

Marcy's journal and memory album of Italy

Beth's journal and memory album of Mexico

Zack's journal and memory album of Greece

Alli's journal and memory album of France

It is my fervent hope that the children will one day take their trip treasures from Woodloft to their own homes. So, it is goodbye Sunflower Journeys; too soon you were gone, but hopefully, you will bloom again.

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