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Watercolor Memories


Minutes. Hours. Days.  They trickle away like water through my fingers.  As I experience them the moments seem full, busy, and even meaningful, but when I turn to look back upon them I do not see them as crisp and clearly defined in my mind, but instead most of them have become a blur. 

Watercolor Blur Mom and Son

What has happened to the summer?  Or my life for that matter? 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember my life as a smooth continuum of events, but more like little exerpts.  Some are highlights, remembrances of joyful, momentous events.  Some are painful, even full of sorrow.  I am not surprised that these stick out in my memory and stay with me while others slip away.  But oddly enough some of my strongest memories are of ordinary events, unremarkable moments seemingly undeserving of my long term attention. What caused these memories to stick? 

Visiting my dear ones in D.C. was an occasion I wanted to remember.  Since our newest camera was being called to service recording the more important African Adventures my husband and daughter were experiencing, I was forced to tote a much older, heavier and crankier camera on my little journey.  The resulting photos were not magazine-worthy, but they certainly fulfilled their major purpose:  to preserve memories. 

Capitol Dome from the Visitor Center

Travel is a memory-making event on many levels.  New sights, sounds, tastes, smells.  A breaking of routine.  And photographs provide a visual record.  So vacations are almost always find their way into our long-term memory.

Congressional hallway

Images of my visit to the U.S. Botanic Garden cause me to remember the beautiful plant specimens, but more than that comes to my mind.  In my mind I smell the scents of the botanicals, I feel the warm, moist air, I hear our laughter despite the heat of a July day in a hothouse. 

 US Botanic Garden

As we left the conservatory we noticed a room where artists were capturing the beauty of the unique plants, not with a camera, but with pencil and brush. 

 Artists at the US Botanic Garden

I’m an Artist at Heart but Not in Fact and a Gardener Want to Be, so this class was very intriguing to me.  I wanted to sneak in and get an up-close view of what they were doing, but I settled for this snapshot.

No, I did not participate in that art lesson. I have never had a real painting lesson, but for some reason I had decided to pack a little travel-sized watercolor set that belongs to my daughter, an Artist in Every Sense of the Word.  When the next afternoon’s weather threatened to storm our planned visit to the pool was put aside and some serious indoor loafing occurred instead.  I remembered the little paint set in my backpack, and inspired by the plant painters at the Botanic Garden, I decided to play with paint.   

Washington DC out the Window

My daughter paints.  My mother paints.  My grandmother painted.  I do not.  Did not. 

Why?  My old enemy, Fear of Failure, is the main reason.  An art class would require me to paint.  In front of a teacher.  Who would then see that I didn’t know how to paint.  Oh How Horrible!!!

Silly isn’t is?  If I could paint I wouldn’t need a teacher! 

This time I use one of the Gifts I’ve Been Given by Cancer, the I’ve Already Been Bald, Browless, Scanned, Poked & Prodded So What Could This Do to Me Courage gift, and I painted what I didn’t know how to paint.  And I didn’t die of embarrasment by doing so or even by showing you. 

 Watercolors & Sketch Pad

And if that isn’ t amazing enough, there is something else about that experience that I love. 

 Watercolor and DC Sky

That experience was like a magic potion for the Remembering Part of My Brain, a part that gives me some trouble on occasion.   

 Watercolor and Window

When I look at my little painting I don’t just see my feeble first attempts at watercolor painting, I see an almost stormy July afternoon.  I hear the quiet apartment, my daughter-in-law napping in the next room, beagle beside her.  I see myself looking out in the direction of the Capitol office buildings, wondering what my son was doing at work that afternoon while we were lazing around.  I am back in that exact moment, almost experiencing it, seeing the cars moving on the roads below.

Watercolors and Sketch Pad

I want to remember these little moments.  The ones that seem ordinary, yet are so extraordinarily good.  

DC Watercolor

Last night was one of these times.  Dear friends gathered together.  Good food and laughter.  Stories told, instruments played, songs sung, all of it music for the soul.   I looked around the room and tried to soak it in.  I didn’t get the camera, and I certainly didn’t pull out the watercolors, but I did try to engage the paint brushes of my mind.  As I sit in my chair this morning I can think myself around the room, see each face, hear the voices, smell the candles.  My mental brushstrokes come back to me.  I think this one won’t fade into fuzziness anytime soon. 

It isn’t that difficult to figure out that one of the keys to rembering an experience is to fully experience it.  To have mindfulness in the moment.  This How Stuff Works article on how human memory works states that to properly encode a memory, you must first be paying attention.  My watercolor experiement has helped me experience this truth. 





  1. Mitzi Adams
    Posted 28 Jul ’12 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    Laura, Your gift of painting images with your words draws me to a place of my own memories, my own delight in stroking with paintbrush and pallette a memory rich with meaning. I love that you remind us that it is the precious gift of the every day, the routine that builds our knowledge of what our lives are and that to capture the richness of the gifts we are given, we must be fully present. Thank you for this beautiful reminder, a challenge to walk in the now, the present, the today we have been offered from the Giver of all good gifts.

    • Posted 28 Jul ’12 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Mitzi for your sweet affirmation, and you said so clearly in one paragraph what it took me a whole post to express!
      Love you,

  2. robelyn
    Posted 29 Jul ’12 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    You have just taken my breath away.



    • Posted 29 Jul ’12 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      Thank you so much for stopping by. I really appreciate your kind words. Thanks for making my day.

      Love your beautiful name:)

  3. Lauranell Sheflin
    Posted 1 Aug ’12 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    I too love your beautiful name. Had to check out the website and blog.
    Lauranell Grisham-Sheflin

  4. Posted 19 Sep ’15 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    Cassandra, thanks for srnaihg the photos from your Paris on the Platte shoot. Your work is wonderful. I get the need for java just looking at your photo’s!Heather and Faye

  5. Posted 28 Apr ’16 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    I did the test again, I can get my leg to go at a 90 degree angle. My problem is if I walk too much my hips (side of leg) feels like bursitis. I have had cortisone injections but they dont help. I have been o a very health diet, fruit, vegs, and chicken or salmon for the last month. What exercises can I do to loosen up that area. I also get a tighteness in the center of my buttocks.

  6. Posted 12 May ’16 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    actual tested, 7,471 is taniklg about the number of people who were tested and found to have a BAC of .08 or more. That really means they tested more than that number but those ones did have a BAC of .08 or more. You’re not reading the information correctly.

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