There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

ring in the new year

THE PHRASE "ring in the New Year" has a new resonance for 2015. Literally, Juan and I have new rings. He surprised me with one for Christmas and I, of course returned the favor as an engagement promise. Since we live in Georgia, the legal significance of these rings is yet to be determined, but in our hearts they mean what they always mean when any couple wears them. Mr. and Mr. will soon (hopefully) become a real possibility, now that 35 states, plus the District of Columbia have marriage equality laws in the books for same-sex couples.

MR. & MR. | This bottle bag from Crate & Barrel contains the bubbly for a sparking new year.
THE NEW YEAR is always about change. It's about leaving the past behind and embracing the future. Just the fact that products are appearing in the market that tout same sex togetherness such as this linen mr. and mr. bottle bag from a forward-thinking business (Crate and Barrel). These products make a toast to a reality that we are embracing ahead of the fact. We are using it here to hold our New Year champagne.

RINGING TOGETHER | This ring dish from Crate & Barrel will give our rings a resting place that we can always find as we are both constantly misplacing things (especially cell phones and remote controls).
THIS MEANS A LOT to both of our futures. And we have begun building this future together in earnest. It's exciting to know that our partnership might one day soon be recognized by the world we live in . . . just like everyone else. Our rings are the only tangible commitment we have to that right now, aside from what we hold in our hearts. As soon as we got our rings, we talked about a centralized place to keep them when we weren't wearing them. Crate and Barrel also helped us out with that dilemma with this Mr. & Mr. ring dish.

DEER IN THE FOREST | Made in Germany by Ino Schaller Bayern, a family tradition since 1894, is famous for their paper mache candy containers. The company also makes glittery bottle brush trees and the doe figurine seen here (as well as the stags).
IT HAS BEEN and eventful 2014 for both Juan and I. And we are looking forward to a long future together. We don't really need a marriage contract for that, but it will greatly help us in the eyes of the law. All of the benefits that most people take for granted with a legal marriage will be rightfully ours . . . finally. As an animal totem the deer symbolizes Juan and I exploring our own magical and spiritual nature together. The deer is a definitive symbol of grace and an appreciation for the beauty of balance.

BRUSH, BUBBLY, AND POP | Champagne served in these Edge Champagne Glasses from Crate & Barrel have a decidedly modern sensibility. Confetti Mini Crackers from West Elm pop apart to reveal surprise gifts.
OUR TOAST FOR 2015 is to continue along our trail to a future we can only dream of together. The crackers included in these photos are traditionally a Christmas favorite in the United Kingdom. Since we're planning on spending Christmas in London in 2015, that future is looking bright already! Happy New Year!

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

past. present. future . . .

FROM A DISTANCE, this tree appears classically composed of antique decorations because of its traditional and old-fashioned look, but when you get closer, you'll see that all (except for a few) of the ornaments are modern, or only reproductions of vintage styles.

ALL THE REFLECTION contained in this blog has led me to here. There's no escaping the past. It's sometimes hard to live in the present. And the future doesn't always seem bright. But the string of holidays leading up to Christmas each year have a way of coalescing years of the best memories and pushing one forward into the New Year anew. Could it be 2015 already? How did this happen?

TIME AND AGAIN | This pocket watch ornament sets the tone for past, present and future.
AFTER MORE THAN a year of profound catharsis in my life, I think I've finally learned to listen to the present. To live in it. And to embrace the future with the brightest hopes and dreams. A large part of that is having someone in my life that is living a different phase of their lives, but wants to live it with me, even though I've already been through all of that (and maybe because of it). At 53 years old, I feel like I have a brand new chance for the life I have always imagined. It's amazing how much things can change in a year's time.

FLEETING MOMENTS | Life can catch you by surprise and change directions only when you are intent on listening to the smallest, quietest, but most profound moments.
IT ALL STARTED when Juan Fonseca joined me in life this past summer. I haven't shared a home with a partner in quite a long time. This forced me to restructure my life in ways I knew I needed to and provided the impetus to do it—all with someone I love dearly. This also took me away from this blog for a while. In preparation for Thanksgiving this year, when we hosted Juan's mother and stepfather, we have been reworking our home to make it ours. And, at last, Ive begun sorting through the ephemera of my past life, letting go of things I neither want or need anymore, both physically and in-turn, psychically.

SEEDING THE FUTURE | Pinecone ornaments always figure into the symbology of a tree and are present on nearly every one I decorate.
WHEN THINKING BACK on other Thanksgivings, I remember some amazingly bright spots in my life. It was Thanksgiving day in 1984 when I got the call from the art director of Southern Living magazine announcing that they would like me to join them as a staff artist. This was my career launch after college. And it has affected my life more profoundly than I could ever imagine. This job set the course of my career at that company (most of which were at another magazine it published). It was ten years of working with a warm, creative, family of friends, a large number of whom I am still in touch with. And I learned the skills that have enabled me to create this blog and give me a creative attention to detail that is lost in a quite a lot of modern publishing. I need to tell a story. I need to have resonance in what I'm doing. It's much more than a pretty picture. Publishers these days seem to only be looking at the bottom line and forgetting their real assets.—namely readers. Back then, that seemed to be the most important lifeline for magazines.

GLOBAL RESPONSE | A heirloom glittered globe spins hope for the future. Globe designed by Elliot Raffit.
AND NOW, it begins again. The past does repeat itself. The only difference is all the lessons learned during long-gone times are much more readily available and are viscerally informing my future. And emotionally, it finally feels as if the planets are aligned just right for something better than before. Besides, it was on this day in 1945 that my parents were married. Both lived until just before their 60th anniversary. I can't believe that's been almost 9 years ago. Where does the time go?

BIG PICTURE | Sometimes disparate elements combine themselves into a whole in surprising ways. This tree is a natural-cut tree grown by Cale Smith of G&S Trees Inc. in the Appalachian farms in Elk Park, North Carolina.
THIS TREE is different from a lot of the trees on this blog. Namely because it wasn't begun to be a really fussed-over tree with a cohesive theme. Then there's the full-sized realness of it. When I let go and decided to decorate the tree with regard to how life comes at you—what happened was a lot of disparate pieces coming together and making a beautiful, but imperfect whole. I honestly bought the tree bundled, with only looking at its top. That never happens. Somehow over the years, I've learned to trust my gut. but when the tree farmer said it was a natural-cut tree, that had me. I've grown quite weary of trees that have been coerced into perfect dense cones all their life. You can truly tell the difference a tree makes.

PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE | Everybody knows the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and how he finally found the Christmas spirit. This book is a Barnes & Noble special edition of The Christmas Carol, beautifully bound.
AND IN MY AMAZEMENT, that is just what is happening in my life. We already have added a new family member. We've adopted a "schnoodle", whom we have named Halston. He walked into our home from the Atlanta Humane Society as if he had always been here--even without too much protest from the two cats (Abella and Frida) that already lived here (Frida is crouched under the tree in the photo at top). 

THE PIECES FALL TOGETHER quite perfectly in their imperfection. All you have to do is have a keen eye for balance, be able to take a leap of faith, and understand; just as Ebenezer Scrooge finally did in Dicken's The Christmas Carol, that where you have been affects many more people than you can ever imagine. And what footprints we have left behind profoundly inform our steps into the future.

HERE'S WISHING everyone who reads this a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

SANTA'S BOOT | Robert Brawley's Twinkles and Treats handmade delight is front and center on the tree. A self-proclaimed Halloween Fanatic, OOAK ornaments for all seasons are available on his Etsy site.

CHILDLIKE WONDER | This kitch figurine found this past summer on the clearance table at the Savannah Urban Outfitters, when Juan and I were on our first vacation together, captures the essence of a child at Christmas and became part of our decor this year.
PRESERVING SANTA | The timeless quality of Santa's story captures new hearts and minds every season if you just choose to believe.

collecting, photography and styling by Darryl Moland.