September 17, 2012: “What We Hold On To”

As perhaps noted previously, I am in waiting mode. I’ve finished a couple of big writing projects and now must wait for the recipients of numerous queries* to respond.

Waiting’s hard.

So, inspired by Hare With Amber Eyes, I’ve begun a research project re three Chinese rice-paper paintings I’ve inherited. Apparently my great, great aunt, Isabella Faulkner Ranlett, bought them—maybe in Shanhai?—in the mid-eighteen-hundreds while accompanying her husband, Captain Charles Ranlett, Jr., captain of the clipper ship “Surprise.”

Lots to discover. Here’s just one thing of hundreds that intrigues me. Why did “Belle” buy a painting of an opium den?

But, also, lots to ponder. Like this: Given that Belle was the sister of my great-great grandmother, Amy Faulkner Wild, my claim to these paintings seems a little tenuous. How did they end up on MY wall?More than that, these beautiful artifacts are still in my family’s possession. Not sold.

That this is true  is both cause for deep gratitude and cause for curiosity: What art, what artifacts, what treasures hang on the walls of my neighbors? What things of beauty had been passed down to them, brought to Somerville from, say, El Salvador, Eritrea, Iraq? Perhaps lovingly wrapped and carried in luggage because of dire circumstances? And yet, despite hardships and economic setbacks, held on to. Kept. Treasured.

So am mulling this over with the hopes that something will jell. Because how cool would it to figure this out in time to apply for a Somerville Arts Council LCC Grant? (Deadline: October 15th.) An interactive exhibit at the Somerville Museum, maybe?


* an e-mail or letter sent to an agent or theater company or publishing firm saying, essentially, “I’ve written something you’re gonna LOVE! Contact me.”

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