Monthly Archives: April 2013

Pottery, ceramics, and the snap of a tongue serve as reminders of a beloved man

When you asked Darvin Luginbuhl the age-old question, “What is art?”, he’d turn it right around and respond with a pointed “What do YOU think art is?”

It’s a difficult question and one for which Darvin probably never answered point-blank. Because, artist that he was, Darv never put “art” into a box. He could find art in everything and wanted everyone else to share that experience of discovery.

For example, my husband once asked Darv if he would help him design a children’s Christmas coloring contest for the newspaper he edited. Darv very subtly suggested that the traditional Christmas picture of Santa or Christmas scene — meant to be colored by each child — lacked inventiveness and would produce nothing more than a colored picture. Instead, he suggested including a blank page with instructions that each child draw or color a picture of Christmas. It was his way of encouraging youngsters to discover art from their hearts. It worked.

Growing up, our back door was a quick, 30-second jog from the Luginbuhl’s back door. I say back doors because there was no need to use the front door. Darv and my dad, who were on the faculty together at Bluffton University for about 30 years, were often found in the middle of one of their respective gardens or in Darv or Dad’s shop. Their wives — Evelyn and my mom — still share a friendship as close as sisters.

Our house was always filled with various pottery and ceramic items created by Darv. Because his son, Bill, and I were childhood buddies, my Christmas and birthday presents were often a ceramic pot filled with candy. When my husband and I married, my mom asked Darv to make a tea set for us. The gray and blue-glazed teapot and mugs are still in use after nearly 33 years.Tea-Set

So when Darvin died yesterday at age 91, it felt as if a huge piece of this small, Swiss community had gone with him. No more would we hear his cheery, “Vie gehts?” Even in the past few years as he struggled with health issues that interfered with his mobility, that cheerfulness remained intact and conversations were always entertaining.

Little bits and pieces flit through my mind as I thought about Darv’s contributions to life in a small town, as well as to the wider art community. For as much as we knew him as a small-town Swiss boy who produced beautiful pottery and ceramics, the art world knew him as a creator of fine art and a man of great knowledge.

But there are other, more intimate memories — like Darv and Dad calling us  home from wherever we were playing. Darv could snap his tongue against the roof of his mouth so loud that we could hear him at the old college track field nearly a quarter mile from home. At the same time, Dad blew through a conch shell, producing a quirky “conch honk” that could be heard just as far away. Who needed cell phones? If we missed one, we’d hear the other.

When we wanted to earn quick spending money, one of them would hire us to dig dandelions. We always went to Darv first because he paid a penny for a dozen and Dad made us fill a whole bushel basket. Or something like that…

Ah Darv, we’re going to miss you. We’ve got pieces of pottery to remind us of your creativity, but more importantly you left us with a passel of memories.  Thank you.

Advertisements

What tennis golf and spring have in common

Yep. Spring is here. Skeptics will argue the point that this can’t be true because of the weather — snow flurries one day, 60 degrees and sunny the next, tornado watches another day, and so much rain that even the ducks are complaining.

And yes, all that is true. But really, aren’t those all just signs of spring…at least in Ohio?

But here’s the thing: I work at a university and there is one sure sign of spring that overrides all others. The tennis golfers are out in full force. That resounding THWACK of the ball being smacked across the campus green, followed by cheers of “FORE! clearly suggests one thing: spring has sprung. That and the fact that you might want to wear protective headgear.

There are, of course, other sure signs….

Flowering pear tree

Flowering pear tree

Hellebores

Hellebores

Miniature daffodils

Miniature daffodils

Hyacinths

Hyacinths

Parsley survived the winter!

Parsley survived the winter!

Early morning sun glinting on the National Quarry

Early morning sun glinting on the National Quarry

Peach-center daffodils

Peach-center daffodils

Lovage

Lovage

Peacefulness of early morning runs marred by thoughts of violence

In 35 years of running, my early morning runs have provided me with much time to think, to pray, to meditate, to plan, to talk (and not just when I have a running partner because who better than oneself to talk to), and to completely lose myself in memories.

Tuesday morning’s run was in many ways like every other run. The early morning quiet was welcome, broken only by birdsong and the occasional car passing by. But the peacefulness of the early hour was marred by conflicting thoughts of sorrow and anger as memories of the horrendous bombing at runnersMonday’s Boston marathon.

As I ran, I reflected on all of the finish lines I’ve crossed, happy in knowing that my family was often waiting to cheer me on. It never once occurred to me that I could be putting them in danger, that there might be someone angry enough at the world that he or she would set off a bomb at a road race.

Even as this thought crossed my mind, a distant rumble of thunder broke into my reverie, sending chills down my spine. It reminded me of the old lady in “Under the Tuscan Sun” who agrees to sell her crumbling villa when a bird defecates on Frances’ head. “Le signe, le signe!”

If that thunder clap was a sign, it was perhaps more a sign that we all need to remember that we Americans aren’t the only ones facing acts of violence every day. Even as the bombs exploded in Boston, there were about 20 separate car bombings in Iraq that killed at least 37 and injured more than 140 people, all in one day.

I’m reminded of a statement by a cousin — “We are not alone in our grief.”  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/16/world/middleeast/attackers-strike-across-iraq-as-elections-approach.html

In the weeks to come, those early morning runs will serve to remind me of our shared grief the world over. I’m sure I won’t be alone in my thoughts.race

 

 

 

 

With 3/5ths in their 60s, we’re still just Mary and the boys

As my family’s “middle child” turns 60 today, 3/5ths of us are in their seventh decade. That leaves two of us still in the baby stages of the 50s. This, of course, is of no special significance except to we five and maybe to our mother. I sometimes wonder if she looks at us and thinks we’re still just kids. After all, she still refers to my four brothers as “the boys.” Which, of course, they are. Boys.me and the boys

For some reason, I don’t remember my parents turning 60. It must not have been a big deal because we didn’t have any major parties. There was no sobbing, no gnashing of teeth. Life just carried on except Dad may have baked cinnamon rolls for his students and Mother may have given her students extra stickers.

As far as I know, none of my brothers have had big whoop-de-doo parties on their 60th. Does that make us boring? Or does that mean we don’t put great stock in celebrating? My husband would say — not unkindly — that we aren’t sociable.

So…just to prove him wrong, I have big plans for 2016, which will be my year. I’m having a pool party at the local swimming hole. And my big brothers had better be there because there will be a giant ice cream cake roll. Because that is what our mother made us every year for our birthdays.

My mother? I have no doubt she’ll still be around and she’ll still be referring to us as Mary and the boys. NFS_0184After all, we’re still just kids.