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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Venerable Thing

Photo credit:
J. D. Morehouse

You see in the photo a modest, very old gold filigree pendant on a simple, contemporary chain. The chain is 14 karat gold. The pendant is not. When the pendant was made, 14 karat gold was not as common as it is now. You can see the slight color differences between the two different qualities of gold. The little "jewels" are Tennessee River pearls. One is original and one is not. The pendant is quite thin, small and light. When the Badger photographed it yesterday, I noticed something I hadn't remembered. A tiny dot of gold solder on the back where the pendant had nearly worn through. It's been stabilized.

I wore the pendant on my neck on the day I was a bride and on the day I went to give birth to my child. When that endeavor became "surgery", Ex took it from my neck and wrapped the chain around his wrist so I could see it. I wear it to job interviews, to parties, and when I'm going to be photographed. When the Badger's daughter was a bride, she wore it pinned in the seam of her gown in a lace packet. Maybe my own daughter will, too. "Something old." It is retro, vintage, from another time. And so am I. When I wear it, I feel special and I feel like I look special.

For what you see, in all its glory, is my Granny's lavaliere. I have only ever heard that word used on about three separate instances except with reference to this very one. I know it's not a Granny made-up word. Pendant necklaces apparently were called lavalieres in another day and time and place. This was the May, 1917, high school graduation gift from the town doctor with whom Granny boarded. Sadly, I've never seen a picture of her wearing it. Her graduation photo had been taken before graduation and gift-giving. The later photos show her in more candid poses, more casual. Less dressed up. And then she was a mother. Pearls. Or no jewelry at all.

The lavaliere and my owning it are intriguing to me. She had daughters. None of them got it, and she was particularly attached to one of them. I am not the oldest granddaughter, by far. No one else was given it. We all played with it. I loved to sit in Granny's bedroom and poke around in the Japanese lacquered jewelry box one of "the boys" brought home from the war in the Pacific. I did my share of rubbing the lavaliere. Maybe generations of us rubbing it is what required it to be stabilized later! I even have a vague recollection, from very young childhood, of handling the box the lavaliere was presented from. By the time the lavaliere became mine, the box was long forgotten. There's no way to know when and where the original chain went. I can remember putting it around my neck using a ribbon in about 1956. The silky feeling of ribbon against the neck . . .

I am sad to say I don't recall when/how/why it became mine. Instead of hers. Gifted to me. Certainly before I married at age 25 on October 16, 1977. It wasn't new to me then. It was well established as mine. And long before her death in 1987, as documented by many photos of me wearing it. Stepfather's many interests/jobs in life included "fine jeweler", and it was he who was able to get me the restoration work that didn't bastardize the lavaliere in any way. Maybe the gifting of it was as simple as lunch over cottage cheese and pineapple, gingerbread hot from the oven, really good coffee . . . "Here, honey. I intended this for you." I received many other gifts from her in just that kind of setting.

In my ears right now: a Linda Ronstadt collection from the '70s. I wanted to look like young Linda Ronstadt so much I don't have the words to tell it. Playing the music, when Linda belts it, I belt it. I don't look like her and I don't sound like her. But I can belt a tune, inhaling and exhaling when she inhales and exhales, and I know every word.

Something that charmed me: the Badger photographed the lavaliere for me and e-mailed the image the next morning. He was not satisfied with his work. "The tripod must have been bumped during that long 30-second exposure." [Note to self: next time he says he's going for a long exposure, just avoid the general territory of the tripod and camera altogether.] I e-mailed back that it was good enough for my blog - I just wanted to show the lavaliere, not have something worthy of an auction catalog. Of course, that's why the Badger makes photographs and I take "pitchers".

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