Sanctuary

I feel an overwhelming and powerful inner peace when I am where the ocean meets the land. It is my place of worship. It is my church. It is where Mother Nature is the most accessible to me.

I feel an overwhelming and powerful inner peace when I am where the ocean meets the land. It is my place of worship. It is my church. It is where Mother Nature is the most accessible to me.

Last week I found myself on a beach in February. A rare occasion for me in the dead of winter. I was there because my father has cancer and there is a new challenge to face. I traveled to be with him when he met with yet another cancer specialist. Something that we have done together as a family many, many times before and in many cities.

I didn’t bring a swimsuit or any of my beach gear. I didn’t plan to be on the beach more than a handful of minutes. I told myself that one long walk was all I needed.

When the time was right, I took my walk and headed “up island” (as it is called by the islanders). I kept my eyes on the water as I walked. I didn’t look around. I just listened and watched the waves. I wanted no distractions.

On my return “down island”, I again kept my head turned to the ocean. I found a spot at the water’s edge and kneeled down. I said what I needed to say. I did my best to lay down my fear, pain, and sadness. Mother Nature and the waves listened.

I continued my walk, slowing heading back to the house. Again, eyes on the water.

The tide came in stronger unexpectedly and I ran onto dry ground. As I did, I turned to look at the low slung dunes. The most beautiful sight was right before my eyes. A crude collection of broken shells hung from barren branches. I had walked past it on my journey North. I must not have been ready to feel it or see it when I began my walk. Only on my return did I discover this special spot.

I felt like I had entered a sanctuary. It was mystical and magical. Built by many, for anyone to share. I just explored it without touching anything. I looked into the branches from all angles. I listened to the sound of the waves and how the wind made some of the shells clatter. I sat down and looked up into the branches. I found a spot where I could see both the hanging shells and the water. I sat still and just took deep healing breaths. Before I stood, I thanked Mother Nature for answering my prayers so quickly.

I walked back to my family.

Casey

Note: Only as I started to see the path that leads off the beach did I remember I had my phone hidden with my shoes near the base of a tree. I grabbed it and ran back to take the photos you see in my post. I was thankful I didn’t have it when I came upon it the first time. I had picked up a few broken shells on my walk, I added them to the branches.

I did sneak back out for a sunset the next evening and one last visit to my special place.

SHARE THIS: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Casey Faces Her Election Frustration

I am buying myself a new piece of jewelry today. I know many of you know I am being completely serious. But, for people who don’t know me as well, let me explain.

I am buying myself a new piece of jewelry today. I know many of you know I am being completely serious. But, for people who don’t know me as well, let me explain.

Continue reading “Casey Faces Her Election Frustration”

SHARE THIS: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

10 Questions for Amy Meya

We are excited to launch a series of blogs about the creative people we represent. These posts will feature 10 questions – chosen by our employee team at the store. The 10 answers to those questions have been written by the artists, creators and inventors who make the work we proudly sell. We have included a photo of the featured person (supplied by them) and a few images of their work currently available at our store. Pursue good stuff.

We are excited to launch a series of blogs about the creative people we represent.

The 10 Questions for Artists, Creators and Inventors Series will feature ten questions – chosen by our employee team. The ten answers have been written by the artists, creators and/or inventors who make the work we proudly sell. We have included a photo of the featured person, supplied by them, and a few images of their work currently available at our store.

10 Questions for Amy Meya: Ceramic Artist

1. As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?

From the time we first worked with clay in elementary school I told my mom: “if I could just be in a room with lots of windows and work with clay all day, my life would be fulfilled”, she said “yeah, well, that is a nice dream”. Dreams can come true!

amy-meya-potrait

 

2. Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

When my first son was only a few months old NCECA, the ceramics arts conference was here in KC, one of my best friends, Angela, and I took him to all the galleries to see the work. The following year Angela and I decided to do all the gallery shows again, this time the conference was in San Diego, my sister was living there, so we had a free place to crash. We took my then one year old with us and went to all the gallery shows, he must have picked up on all our ooooohhhing and aaahhhhing, when we walked into the 6th or so gallery he pointed to a large red platter hanging on the wall and said “oh, wow!” These were his first two words strung together. That moment inspires me.

3. What’s your favorite book or movie of all time and why did it speak to you so much?

One of my favorite movies of all time is “Mr. Mom”, my sisters and I would watch this over and over, we could quote it the entire way through. I love this movie for so many reasons, but now, (I re-watched it when it came out on Netflix) I love it because it is a movie that demonstrates that staying home with kids is also a full time job and families need to figure out a work/home balance.

4. What’s the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?

The “Nature Island” Dominica in the West Indies. Rainbows everyday, waterfalls, black sand beaches, steep mountains and a thick lush rain forest. Heaven on earth!

A. Meya Original at a store named STUFF

 

5. What’s your favorite smell in the whole world?

Garlic cooking.

6. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I can’t pick just one, I have a deep seated wanderlust. Lately I have been wanting to go to New Zealand and Thailand, and Indonesia, I guess generally Southeast Asia. Also, South America, I would love to go to Peru and Argentina.

A. Meya Original at a store named STUFF

 

7. Which fictional character do you wish you could meet?

Here I go again dating myself, but Indiana Jones.

8. What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

Work on your goals everyday, even if it is only a little bit some days, just do something to move yourself toward your goals because it all adds up in the end.

A. Meya Original at a store named STUFF

 

9. Cake or pie?

Definitely pie, sweet potato pie that isn’t sweet, a more savory pie spiced with lots of rich favors.

10. What is your dream project?

My dream, and current goal, is to figure out a way to work in the Caribbean for four months out of the year, the extremely cold four months to be exact.

 – Amy Meya, September 2016

We hope you enjoy this new series. Stay tuned for more. Pursue good stuff…

Casey & Sloane

SHARE THIS: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Fully Outfitted

One of the upsides to getting a new used car is the act of cleaning out the old car and deciding who you are going to be in the new car. I’m going to be with Roscoe.

On an afternoon where I had a host of other priorities and jobs to accomplish, I decided to put all that off until the evening and focus on moving into my new used car today.

One of the upsides to getting a new used car is the act of cleaning out the old car and deciding who you are going to be in the new car. I usually take a full week to open up the box into which I crammed all the “old” things while dropping the old car at the dealership. I like just one week of feeling like it’s a brand new top-of-the-line race car on loan for me to test drive. You know, to help the manufacturer realize its potential. A true fully-functional prototype. One I won’t have long, so why bother sullying it with all the baggage of my real life?

And then real life steps in, and I remember this is my car to keep on a two-year lease. The charity notebooks, the trash can, the lint roller, the glass heart from my maternal grandmother, my stash of mint gum, Sharpies, small notepads, a tub of hand wipes, and the phone  charger all made their way into the main cabin of the car today. Much was tossed – my 2015 and 2014 Fringe Festival buttons, a crammed full notepad of what seems like unimportant notes now –  and much more.

A week ago, I called my father and asked him how to spell his father’s middle name. I knew how to spell the beginning part and was pretty sure of the whole thing, but I really couldn’t remember if there was an E at the end.

“There’s an E. Why do you want to know?” the smile in his tone apparent.

“Well, I am finally ordering a Roscoe bag. For my car.”

“What do you mean, a Roscoe bag? Who makes it?”

So I reminded him of my small love of L.L. Bean tote bags. What made him laugh out loud was my story of the inheritance of one and the purchasing and monogramming of two more.

v and g

When my Mom’s mom died, I asked for the L.L. Bean tote bag that had Grandma’s name, Gladys, in red script. I had seen her bring it to my home many times for Thanksgiving. Always in full use, it held the fixings for stuffing, spices for the turkey, and food and utensils I might not have on hand.

She had told me that she had finally purchased one with her name on it for “going to church.” She took this bag to church when she was part of the “meal brigade.” “It’s just perfect for casseroles, which you can stack with cardboard between them in the bag. Just ask your grandfather.”  I didn’t need to ask him. She never lied, but she had a hand in teaching me the art of dancing around truths that could cause harm to others.

The part of the story I remember best is how she admits that the first one she had made by L.L. Bean carried her initials: GAP. Gladys Amanda Price. They were in block letters, and she liked them in that order and in that font. “But at the time that store, The Gap, was very popular, and someone did the very un-Christian thing and swiped it from me. I guess because they thought it was from there.”

Not to be deterred from her deliveries of food to the widows, widowers, mourners, wedding parties, and celebrants, she ordered another one. Same red-and-cream bag, same handle structure, but this time with her name in cursive. “Very different and definitely mine,” she concluded.

When L.L. Bean came out with the offering of longer handles – much easier to get up on your shoulder for pack-horse style carrying, my stock in trade – I was transfixed and knew I must have one. Not one to purchase things out of silly desire, I made a plan. I explained to my husband that, with all the road trips we were taking with our young son, we needed a bag to carry the food into and out of the car with ease. The food that wasn’t in the small travel cooler. The apples, the EDC knife, the tablecloth, the crackers, cookies, and chips. We stopped often at roadside parks and Interstate rest areas to stretch legs and eat, so this bag would “be perfect!”

My dad’s mom had just recently passed away, and I knew exactly what I would emblazon the smaller, long-handled red-and-cream bag with: Virginia. In cursive. I would have both of my grandmother’s working with me again. It was dreamy when it arrived, and its use has been frequent.

With my new used car, I wanted a bag for all of my road supplies. Moving blankets for work, jumper cables, ice scraper, cotton grocery bags, first aid kit, and more. I wanted it to zip closed and have a terrific monogram. Not something that stated something boring like “car things”. I had been wanting a blue L.L. Bean tote for a few years but really had no apparent use for it. But this: this was clearly an apparent use. A true necessity.

roscoe

Five days after laughing my way through the story with my dad and hanging up, the bag arrived. The biggest bag they make and with short handles, Roscoe will start riding with me tomorrow. I’ve stashed all the unsightly but necessary things away and zipped the top shut.

I probably should have named it “Cal” or “Madison” after my mom’s father. He was the highway patrolman who taught me car safety and the need to have on hand the things that will be riding in the Roscoe bag in the first place.

But I needed Hubert Roscoe Simmons to help me organize the remotest section of my car. He was a terribly tidy farmer who worked very hard, as all my grandparents did. But his cabinet-making workshop was a place to behold when I was a child. We three girls were always welcome and were taught the virtues of having every tool and piece of wood in its place at all times.

That’s who’s riding with me in my fully outfitted car starting tomorrow. Roscoe.

Sloane

 

p.s. I wrote about my grandfather Cal here. I miss all my grandparents every single day.

p.p.s. Previous musings about the color blue and L.L. Bean totes can be found here and here.

SHARE THIS: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

A Day Dream Made of Glass

I was shelling on a beach yesterday. I kept finding bits of plastic – a lid, part of a pail, a grocery sack – and it struck me, what would happen

I was shelling on a beach yesterday. I kept finding bits of plastic – a lid, part of a pail, a grocery sack – and it struck me, what would happen if manufacturers woke up one day and stopped making plastic items? Just simply stopped.

I am pretty sure that the world would not come to its demise. Actually, it may even slow our demise. Although the reports I read tell a grim tale of how it is too late.

I like my food, drinks and such in glass. It seems more civilized somehow. But, I am bit old fashioned.

It was a passing day dream. I kept walking in the waves picking up gifts of nature that I collect, take home and sort into glass jars.

Shell on Beach by Casey Simmons

Casey

PS. Any item needed in the medical world made from plastic makes sense. But, prescription bottles could be glass.

PPS. I have stated very clearly that when I die my shell collection should be returned to Mother Ocean (after my daughter chooses what to keep of course).

SHARE THIS: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Singularly Lovely

I read Vogue magazine every month. I like to get my fashion mixed with a bit of substance.

I read Vogue magazine every month. I like to get my fashion mixed with a bit of substance. Yes, I am the dork that reads their well-written articles. (W Magazine is also on my bedside table.)

I came across this short piece about crystal necklaces in the recent issue. They were featured in a runway show this season. I got a bit of a rush to find something we sell at our store featured in Vogue.

STUFF sells Swarovski crystal necklaces, earrings and bracelets. We work with a designer in Berlin, Germany. They have been a STUFF staple for many years. The single strand – like you see in this image – is one of our most popular.

Vogue 2013 View Article I added one to my personal collection a few years back, and find that I wear it more often than I believed I would. One of my favorite ways is to throw it on with casual T-shirts and skirts. It takes my weekend run-about wardrobe to a new level. And, if I find myself invited to last minute afternoon drinks, I am dressed.

I loved seeing them featured in Vogue. I felt so fashionable and current.

Casey

Vogue Quote Sept 2013

SHARE THIS: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Point of Pride

For the last 14 years, I have volunteered on an outreach, education and fundraising project for AIDS Walk Kansas City. And for the past 10 years, STUFF has been a corporate sponsor along with amazing small companies and businesses in Kansas City of the Mosaic Project.

For the last 14 years, I have volunteered on an outreach, education and fundraising project for AIDS Walk Kansas City. And for the past 10 years, STUFF has been a corporate sponsor along with amazing small companies and businesses in Kansas City of the Mosaic Project.

Mosaic Tile Project 2013
Tiles at the First Friday event this year. April 5th was full of art!

This project is simple. High school students in school districts around Kansas City paint six-by-six inch ceramic tiles in the theme “A World Without AIDS” with glazes in an eleven-color palette. We ask that they watch a short video about the AIDS epidemic that ends with a step-by-step on how to paint a tile. Then, we hope their creativity will fly and that their small artwork will show us a world without AIDS.

The simplicity continues. The tiles are fired, cataloged and finally placed on display en mass during one of the busiest weekends of April, First Friday in Kansas City’s Crossroads District. Thousands of people converge upon this remarkable area of town to live, breath and consume art in its many forms.

2013 Mosaic Committee
This year’s volunteer army!

The simplicity ends in that it takes many, many hours of volunteer time to schlep these tiles all over town, coordinate delivery and retrieval with amazingly generous art teachers, number them, clear coat them, keypunch all the data, manage the two events – public and private – and, finally, inventory and pack it all up for next year.

Which is what I did yesterday with four members of our stunning committee. The generosity of the small businesses – like STUFF – that donate discounted or free tiles, glazes, bowls, labels, artwork, printing, etc., is not wasted. From year to year, if all the supplies are not consumed from the year before, we pack it up and store it for the next go round.

All Mosaic supplies packed up and inventoried. Ready for 2014.
All Mosaic supplies packed up and inventoried. Ready for 2014.

I am so very proud of what we do. We hope young people will spend a few minutes thinking about their fragile health and the world around them and then show us – through art – what their world would be like without AIDS. Many take the time to tell us, in words, and we make sure this story travels with the tile to its collector through the label we adhere to its back. We do this with heavily discounted – but mostly free – supplies and volunteer labor. Then we sell these tiles and raise money for the 5,700 women, children and men living with HIV/AIDS in Kansas City.

It doesn’t get any better than that.

My dream for a world without AIDS is simple. That things like the Mosaic Project cease to be. That our energies will be placed differently because we have beaten this epidemic into the earth.

Until then, I will live in the art, creativity and community this project has enriched my life with. I am one of the lucky ones. It’s that simple.

Sloane

p.s. The 2013 Mosaic tiles can be seen for the last time as a group (reduced in number due to sales at the April 5th event) at the 25th Annual AIDS Walk. April 27th in Theis Park. Right in front of The Nelson. Come and see them and take a great piece of art home to remind you what a glorious place a world without AIDS would be. Art lives!

In addition, my greatest thanks to the following companies and people for joining STUFF in supporting such an amazing outreach project: Dal-Tile, Scott Francis and The Art Lobby of The Chair Building, KC Metro Ceramic and Pottery Supply, Crane Yard Clay, Hoop Dog Studio and Fern Exposition and Events.

SHARE THIS: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Sculptor Fred Conlon is just a Big Kid at Heart

Fred Conlon is a comic genius. Seriously…check out these new pieces…

Fred Conlon is a comic genius. Seriously…check out these new pieces by our hug-a-bug friend and creative force, Fred Conlon.

Fred Conlon Sculpture at STUFFHe works with scrap metal to up-cycle junk into his playful sculptures.

Fred Conlon Sculpture at STUFFI look at these pieces and just break into a smile…with a touch of a little giggle.

Fred Conlon Sculpture at STUFF in Kansas CityHis attention to detail makes each piece one-of-a-kind. I want them all over my courtyards at home. I am a “why own one when you can own them all?” kind of girl…but where to start? Collecting is about a beginning with one.

Which one would you buy first?

Casey

 

SHARE THIS: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

New Works Arrive by Catherine Weitzman

Today I was thrilled to take photos of new Catherine Weitzman pieces. Her work is incredible. She lives in Hawaii. (Yes, I am jealous.)…

Today I was thrilled to take photos of new Catherine Weitzman pieces. Her work is incredible. She lives in Hawaii. (Yes, I am jealous.) Her work is inspired by the nature that surrounds. She often uses actual leaves, twigs and wildlife finds to cast her designs. Like this necklace.

Necklace by Catherine Weitzman at a store named...STUFF

I also love how she turns little stones and gold into these soft, flowing earrings. They feel amazing in your hands. They are delicate and playful.

Earrings by Catherine Wietzman at a store named...STUFF

This is a new and very interesting combination. Amethyst and aquamarine set in gold vermeil. I like the little gold faceted beads at the top of the stones. It’s the little touches that make her work special.

IMG_20130403_093856 IMG_20130403_094012 IMG_20130403_094218 IMG_20130403_094348

I would enjoy owning any (or all) of these pieces. But, I must share. So…they are at the store waiting for you.

Casey

SHARE THIS: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Packing It All Away

I was packing the last two boxes of holiday decorations. I save the packing of the ornaments for last. They usually come off the trees on a Sunday, migrate to the dining room table for removal of the hooks, and, a few days later, I start putting them back into the tissue paper they hailed from just a month and a half before.

I was packing the last two boxes of holiday decorations. I save the packing of the ornaments for last. They usually come off the trees on a Sunday, migrate to the dining room table for removal of the hooks, and, a few days later, I start putting them back into the tissue paper they hailed from just a month and a half before.

I was putting the finishing layers – three per box – into both boxes at once and said to my husband and son, “If I dropped dead tomorrow, you guys would never open these again, would you?” They were only one room away, clicking busily on their computers, when the dove-tailed answers hit. “No.” Maybe one of them mumbled, “Probably not.”

These boxes hold memories. When I unpack them right after Thanksgiving, they rest on the dining room table – out of their protective wraps – while I stare at them and repair unglued joints. I remember tiny hands that made some, and this year I revisited memories of a long gone sister and the two things I have that she made as a child. I walk leisurely down memory lane during the busiest month of my year.

A few days later, when the three of us go to hang them all, I take a few minutes to point out several to my son that have real significance – my grandmother’s stitches, my great-aunt’s crochet work, his grandfather’s paint strokes, and his aunt’s ability with clay. I try not to overwhelm and have learned that four shout outs one night a year is the maximum for possible retention.

 

I don’t really know if the boxes would ever be opened by the two men I live with. A woman would open them if left in her care. She would wait a year. Or more. Then, one cold morning, she would brace herself with a box of tissues and her courage and rip those suckers open. She would visit each piece like a tongue lingers on tooth pain. Delicately, so as not to wince, moan or cry out.

I packed it all away. Again. The entire process is cathartic to me. I have many people to visit with at my dining table all year long at a myriad of events, celebrations and holidays. But the places and the people I can’t have back come delicately to me in December in the form of pinecones, angels, dogs, and snowmen. I touch them all. Hang them up to breathe. Live with them. Then, I let them go.

Sloane

p.s. Full disclosure: This is not our tree featured with my son and me in the photo. This tree graces the lobby at The Rep every year during the seasonal run of “A Christmas Carol”. We visit it.

SHARE THIS: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail