À bientôt!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Well, we are off to Paris.

When we land it will also be our 1 year anniversary (provided the world hasn't ended yet!) I bring with me a trusty sketchbook, french lessons on the ipod, a long long list of things to see/eat/find, and too many pairs of shoes. I hope to return bursting with new ideas, stories and pictures. Many thanks for alllllll of your glorious well-wishes, travel hints and tips. You are lovelies! I leave you with a song you will never EVER be able to get out of your head... Much love ♥

Inspiration: The Family Tree (Take 2)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Norman Rockwell's Family Tree (stared at endlessly by Denos siblings)

I mentioned that language acts like "caffeine" for my creativity, so I wanted to share another source I draw from: family trees. They've always been inspiration to me...not quite sure why. Perhaps it was because growing up, we didn't have a lot television–we had grandmas with good stories. I think I'm mostly fond of family trees because I love CHARACTERS and the elements, historical/genealogical/magical, that join to create them. I love to think about lineage when I'm creating a character...

Plus, family trees are chock full of my favorite things, like...


I love that each of us is a perfectly particular culmination of stories that stretch way back in time. In researching my own tree last week, I found out that my husband Matt's distant relative came over on a ship from England called the "Truelove" (really!) and most folks from his mother's side were pilgrims, some settled Plymouth. We just discovered Matt's also a direct descendant of John Proctor of the Salem Witch Trials! Remember Arthur Miller's The Crucible?

As for me, my Scottish side descends from the Clan Munroe which still keeps its Foulis Castle in Scotland (dating back to the 11th century!) What was it like to live there then? What did my ancestors dream about within these walls? Can't wait to go and see one day...lots of stories here.

Foulis Castle today


I love the names in family trees too...how a name is borrowed for a time to brand our "looks" and faces, but they duck and weave in and out of family trees, sometimes into obscurity, sometimes enduring for centuries in records. We say things like "Those eyes are Anna's! That expression is so Denos, those EARS! They belong to the Smith side." I love how character BECOMES a name. Names are like little threads you can pull on to unravel time...

So , when I should be preparing for Paris, I've been using any free time to find the elusive Italian/French ancestor who gave Matt his last name (and my married name) : Cesare Perlot. He lived way up in the hills of Fai Della Paganella, in northern Trento, Italy. We cannot trace his origins or how his french name came populate northern Italy! The legend goes: two Parisian Perlot brothers in Napolean's army ventured over the Alps and winter-camped in Fai...(and I'm guessing they met some lovely Italian ladies and settled down due to the concentration of Perlots there today!) I love a mystery but I've exhausted sources, any Perlots out there with a lead? Maybe a hint waits in Paris...

Matt's grandma, Anna.

As for my name: Denos. My (also elusive) great grandfather, Andrew Denos, came over from Greece, and wouldn't tell a soul who/what/ where/when/why. All we are left with is his last name and 3 seconds his slow-motion wink to the panning cameraman in a flickering 1950's wedding reception reel ...as if he's saying, "You have a lonnnnng search ahead of you kid!" Another mystery.


The physical inheritance passed through a family tree is maybe the neatest part to me, though these things like that are less documented in family trees than names and dates. Yet, the eyes you use, the nose you wear, maybe even the stubbornness you possess traveled across oceans, through stories and bloodlines to become you. The idea of "ancestors" makes me imagine too: they're with us in our features in a way...we are what's survived of them as we move ahead into our own personal legends. We carry this legacy in our bones every day. Isn't that kind of magic?

The way I imagine family trees: generations behind us stretching out like flickering tails (tales) of two-by-two trailing backward into the distance. Kind of like this:


Maybe it's the progressive, loving perspective I receive from family trees that gets me. It makes the whole planet feel smaller. Our stories have crossed oceans by ship, settled into houses, making countries and foreign languages feel like home; it makes peace feel more possible somehow. We extend our branches out, weave our stories into eachother's, light up different parts of the globe for a while, making those places loved. Family trees hint at something eternal and magic for me, something alive and progressing...they just capture my imagination. Maybe someday I'll know what to make of it, what to DO with it. A book? A painting? A crazy mural? Hm.

So where did you come from? I want to hear about your family tree! Does your name have a story?

(*Thanks to all the readers who've shared their amazing family stories with me when I initially posted this last week! Sadly, Blogger's system crashed for 5 days and the blog post, your comments and our conversation was deleted so here is Take 2–I wish there was a way to contact each of you, thank you folks!)

While I listen...

Monday, May 2, 2011

...I doodle! Chances are, if we've had a phone conversation, it ended up pink and/or squiggly. Try it next time you're on the phone, or listening to the radio or talking to someone (be a discreet doodler). Watch what comes out! Then report back, because I love spying on people's doodles too (look at expert pattern doodler Amanda)...here are some of mine lately:

Mopey ladies in the shade of orange lipstick I coveted (and finally found–Barry M LP#54–yes!):

Little sentences in the pauses of noise:


(and c-r-a-z-y!) Earl Grey has my vote...