All these images, all this content, all these words, blog posts, articles. Media, media, media. All these photographers, capturing, capturing, capturing. Everyone is making their mark. We love imagery, we consume it, it fades, we want new imagery, new stories. Why? Why does this fulfill us? Does it fulfill us? What is the larger purpose?
Noreen Aberdine and I lay on the beach. Because of her, the air around us does not smell like the ocean but like jasmine, coconuts and cream. Her skin is fair all but where her cheeks, collar bone and arms are exposed to the sun. Ms. Aberdine has auburn hair, a shade darker than the flowers on her swim suit top. It stands tall and shimmers like the turning waves in the skyline behind her. Ms. Aberdine and I lay on our stomachs next to one another. She turns her left cheek to rest on the sand. Her dark brown eyes gaze to her right, right at me. She reaches out to brush away a grain of sand that had stuck to my forehead. She moves her hand from my forehead to my temple and then behind my ear. She lifts the sunglasses from my face. I look straight ahead at her, vision fuzzy, both of our cheeks pressed against the warm sand. Ms. Aberdine says nothing, lifts her head, resting herself now on her elbows with the glasses held in both of her hands. She winks at me, lifts the strap of her suit top to her shoulder and places the glasses over her eyes.
This biography was in the Concordia Historical Institute Quarterly Vol # 11. and was written by her great-grandaughter.
It was too old-fashioned for the walls of the living-room, yet too much respected and loved to be stored away, so her yellow, partially faded picture in a carved walnut frame, was hung over the bed of my childhood. Every night and earliy each morning the tender dark eyes of my great-grandmother gazed at me from the wall. A cheerful yet dignified smile lit up her enrie countrenance It was a majestic face, too so very round and softlooking. Her white hair was parted in the middle and combed back straight and smooth. The elaborate lace collar which covered her round shoulders was pinned together in front with a rich gold brooch that looked as if it were lying on a big soft cushion and might have rested there without being fastened. I always wished I could have known her. The uncles and aunts never seemed to tire speaking of that dear old soul and so my great grandmother became very real to me.
She was of the sturdy stock of Saxons that had survived the teduim of a three-month ocean voyage and the hardships of the early settlements on the banks of the Mississippi. Although she had just entered her third year of life on the sixth of November, just a few weeks before Father Timensteold in had provided passport in the emigration of 1838, she must not have been un-fluential on the Olbers. Indeed, the story has been handed down that during the heavy storms, when many suffered seasickness, she was a comfort to all. Her elder sister w cheerfully relieved of the duties of nurse-maid by the twelve-year old Johann Schuricht, who carried little Aemmchen around constanty was delighted with her cooing, and called her his Kleiner Schiffsbrummer. So "Big Sister" found it very convenient that Johann had become a passenger of the Olber, which really happened by mistake.
When his four elder brothers and he, chartered to sail on the Amalia, had been detained by persuading a sixth brother to join them their entire belongings, which had preceded them to Breen, had been accientally loaded on the Olbers and it had been deemed more convenient to change passengers rather then freight to another ship. She is said to have remembered little of that brief period during which her parents failed to gain foothold in Perry Co., but often to have referred to the trying years in which her father developed a business as coppersmith in St. Louis, and her mother, with German resourcefulness, established a prosperous millinery shop on Carondelet [Broadway] and Chouteau avenues, with many girls to help bleach, press and trim those fancy hats of the pre-civil war days.
There was a delicate experience of romance in her young life to which reference was seldom made. As kleiner Schiffsbrummer she had been tie to bind the friendship between her cherished body-guard of the Olbers and "Big Sister". Later their betrothal brought much joy to the girl now quite grown and keenly alert to the romance and excitement of wedding preparations. How her young faith must have been tried and [being God's child] strengthed when, not Johann Schuricht, but death quite unexpectedly took the young bride and she entere that heavenly home above instead of the new home below. At the close of the next decade of her life, during which she had faithfully cheered her bereaved parents and tried to fill the gap left by the elder sister, she had also graually but completely filled the void in Johann's heart, and his Kleiner Schiffsbrummer became his beloved wife.The young husband who had founded the Saxony Flour Mills together with a certain Mr Leonhardt, built a home just across the city border on Second Carondelet [now eighteenth street]. He immediately hired a house-keeper so his Kleiner Schiffsbrummer, as he continued to call her in whimsical moments, need not be alone way out there all day. I like to picture her to myself reigning in that three story home with all the dignity and refinement of the wholesome culture of her native land, yet as a real mid-western American. In great grandfather's anxious moments and perplexities as Treasurer of Synod she must have suffered, too, but he remembered only how she had sustained and encouraged him through it all with tactful wisdom of a Christian wife. Although she was very short of stature, she was also very, very plump; a solid compact mass of energy, which she carried about the house on feet so light and swift that nothing escaped her attention. Not one of her three maids or five daughters ever failed to receive guidance or inspection in every branch of the art of house keeping. She needed ample assistance for her home, which besides having become a cheerful dwelling for a large family, was a place where genuine hospitality was shown to rich and poor.
The hungry and needy never left her kitchen with hollow stomachs or empty hands. One lame war veteran regularly received his plate of soup and a widow her weekly supply of bread. Daily the huge door of the parlor opened to receive the ecclesiastical dignitaries of the Seminary not far away, who found relaxation under the spell of her kindly influence and evening of pleasant conversation and music. They never were permitted to leave her home without bodily refreshment. With characteristic rapidity she would leave the room and hustle down the stairs to the kitchen on the ground floor. Soon the aroma of coffee stimulated the appetites of her guests. The delicious pumpernickel bread she herself always baked in eighteen-inch-long tins made by her father, and the home made hand cheese [which she would keep fresh in a second subway storeroom, usually called the cyclone cellar] were a delight to every preacher in the city. Even the most exacting housekeeper gladly acknowledged that her German coffee cake with Eier-schaecke was the best to be had in St. Louis.Then came the great tragedy of the burning of the flour mill, the anxious months that followed when great grandfathers health failed as a result of the strain and purchase of the fruit farm, eight long miles south of St Louis where he was to get the outdoor exercise prescribed by his physician. Here, too, she subtly molded her life to fit the pattern of his. While he was out among his cherry, peach and apple tree or busy among his bees, she adapted herself to domestic agricultural duties with admirable versatility of the people of those days. She had her own particular way of bleaching asparagus. My uncles and aunts, the children of those days, still enthusiastically describe its delicate flavor while relating of the care they had to practice in helping her pick it. She made her soap herself in huge cauldrons, out in the yard, with grease she had collected and sifted wood ashes.
The secret of her delicious roast chicken extended far beyond the kitchen into the coop where she raised chickens, turkeys, geese, and ducks. Every time she set a hen she reverently made the sign of the cross above it, explaining to the awe stricken grandchildren, who were always welcome to watch that all depends upon God's blessing. That immense three gabled house still stands on Cherry Hill Farm overlooking Jefferson Barracks. As we her descendants [so unlike her, I am afraid] sit on the lawn before it, where she once raised roses of rare beauty, we are told that originally that center section was a large substantial log cabin. Great grandfather added wings of equal size on both sides, erected gables above it, and boarded the entire exterior as we find it today. The students of the Seminary named it die heilige Dreicingkeit and spent happy week-ends within its walls.
They usually arrived with great grandfather when he returned with horse and buggy from his traveling adventure to town for exchange of products. Several orphan boys were reared here and given the opportunity of an education in theology. In later years when the family returned to the city and great grandfather resumed his city work, the farm was kept as a side line and summer home.
Great grandfathers only son became a business man like his father and succeed him as Treasurer of Synod. Her daughters were married in Old Trinity Church to servants of the Master, who traced many rich blessings back to that delightful Christian home. Her grandchildren never fail to relate that at one particularly pleasant occasion the reverend Dr. Walther, who was often her guest, bowed low over her hand and said, "A lady in satin gown with a hand that has not spurned the labors of home making".The graceful activity of her solid little body brought humorous enjoyment to every guest. Even the steep stairway to the tower room, although almost a trifle to narrow was not too steep for her, and no guest ever failed to view the Mississippi from its lofty heights. Her round, short figure seemed to fly through the house. She was remarkably light on her feet and always busy. My great grandfather was wont to say, "I suspect that even in heaven the dear Lord will often have to say, 'Do tie up that plump little angel for a while."
I wanted my life to be a story worth something and I couldn't have my setting stuck.
Suppose that all humans,
no matter which race,
could innately feel,
know and see,
what their fellow humans,
of another race,
could feel, know and see.
Suppose humans had the capacity for true empathy.
If we could borrow the filter with which we experience,
if we had access to a past that was not our own,
if we could understand the history of one another,
If we could feel, know and see,
that have been unjustly inflicted upon one another.
Once we could all feel, know and see
from another's perspective,
of our torturous,
could we then,
As one people,
that while we can't change the past,
or our race,
the color of our skin,
or the gender by which we are born,
Now knowing and seeing the pain,
we've inflicted on our fellow human being,
the capacity to acknowledge,
that things had been different,
that things will be different.
If there was true empathy,
We could all speak,
And we could all be heard.
And we would all truly understand.
If there was true empathy,
Could we together,
Begin to brainstorm,
A step toward repair?
Suppose that all humans,
no matter which race,
could innately feel,
know and see,
what their fellow humans,
Of another race,
Could feel, know and see.
Suppose humans had the capacity for true empathy.
I don't think I've ever discussed Fondly and Affectionately with you.
To allow for some context behind my feed, blog and website, why don't I explain that from the advent of social media, I understood the importance of the perceived online persona.
For many years I worked diligently to produce personal, aesthetically pleasing visual content in the form of collaborations and photography work with tremendous photographers to share via social. This eventually gave me the establishment, credibility and respect I sought in the arts and design.
My time at Minted taught me the importance of having a goal and turning your passion into profit if you tried and it was about 5 years ago that I half hazardly named the ever evolving form of my online presence, Fondly and Affectionately. Initially this started off as a dreamlike lifestyle blog dedicated to high end fashion and lowbrow motorcycle culture. Because the blog was fairly popular and I was well respected and complimented for my curation I eventually decided that the name itself, conceptually, represented that which is my life.
Fondly and Affectionately, while it is always evolving, has for me now become the title, to my existence. It represents my physical being as I sit before you now along with the love and remembrance of family and friends passed. It represents the curated and well thought out imagery you see in my instagram feed, the dreamlike imagery on the blog as well as the writing and sub brands like hot rides or my work as a wedding trends writer for Minted.
Fondly & Affectionately is not about perfection. Fondly & Affectionately is about exposing myself to vulnerability in front of an eager audience and channeling difficulties into positive, forward moving life choices. The goal is not to depict ultimate joy, perfection or purity. The goal is to share curated reality through the artists eyes as I see it. The content is not always safe or clear but each image or post is an absolute necessary part of the story whether you and I can see it now, or in the years ahead.
Fondly & Affectionately, on any platform, depicted in any image is a piece of the puzzle that is my life. A life long performance piece which will only stop when I am dead.
Future is Now. Highest tech. The users experience speaks for itself. Welcome sterility. Bright, rich white and all shades of off white through ivory, taupe to camel contrasted with classic black, navy blue or shades of grey. Luxury. Heavy, heavy fabrics and textiles with minimal pops of not so minimalistic psychedelic or worldly prints. Soft leather, suede and hyde in a variety of shades.
Alright, only a problem I would have. Scrolling through my tumblr feed on mobile and hit a pretty colors color swatch post. Each consecutive post after the first swatch is another. I scroll and scroll and presumably infinitely scroll through swatch after swatch until it finally does stop and then I have to scroll back up, but this time, the color swatches just kept going. What does it mean?
You were in my dreams recently. They were crowded with thoughts, feelings and images of fresh and clear moving water, bridges spanning mixed feelings around lost love and sweet intersections that are never located in space or time, earth, metal and balloons floating with the wind and held and enfolded in the big open silent sky.
Water is always a fortuitous sign of growth and the paradoxical truth of love and sorrow reveled by the beauty in our hearts.
The imagery, thoughts and feelings related to my dreams reminded my of your photographs.
Your photographs reveal your creative blessings and a way of seeing and being in the world that transcends conscious awareness.
Your pictures are hauntingly beautiful, provocative, playful and melancholy in a good but heartbreaking way. I have learned heart break is necessary to be open and receptive to the beauty and love that is always arriving with the next breath.
Celisse, please keep expressing and sharing your experiences with your photographs that document, translate and transcend the universal truths regarding life and the world in which live.
It is a blessing to be a part of your journey and a gift to witness your transformation into a beautiful woman with a love for life that is able to heal the soul wound from which we suffer.
My Mommy picked me up and then she dropped me off at my Grandma's and Sandra's mean. She pulls off snails eyes. I think braces are "cool" because they are better than teeth.
I got Chinese Checkers and tonight we're going to play it.
We took a bath and ate popsicles in the bathtub.
Tonight we walked to the beach. I had a flashlight. I saw gold in the sand. The moon was pretty and there was a part that was missing. The ocean smelled good; like the sea.
We had cheeseburgers and french fries to eat on the way to the beach.
I don't like to go to sleep; it's boring! I can't color, watch tv, nothing when I'm asleep! (Instantly Celisse fell asleep)
Jeanine: The Next Morning
We got up early today and went to John's by The Beach for breakfast. Celisse had pancakes. It was a sunny day. We took a coloring book with stickers and crayons & colored while we waited. After, we went to the beach and were happy to find a whole family of sand dollars. We then went with Renee for Thai food and to Costco and bought a card table.
Today I feel sick! I'm thinking I'm at Jeannie's house! And, I was in the bathtub when I first got here. I watched, "Little Mermaid".
First I went to school. Then my Grandma picked me up at my house and, Frank the cat is on the bed with us.
Christopher always follows me around! This is me & Christopher. This is my teacher; her name is "Mrs. Poppins". My friend in the sandbox is named Tiffany. "T-I-F-F-A-N-Y". Celisse is with Christopher. The boy next to him is named Mario, and that is my school at playtime.
We do work like, "concentration". Well, we do fun work. We read at red-light time. I like to read. I read slowly. We do the alphabet cards & the teacher writes words on the board and we say them. We do response cards.
Enough for today!
The things I do and the places I see are probably nothing compared to some. What I wouldn't give to switch places with another and snap visions of their reality as it exists.
To catch a reflection of a mountain in the window as the sun sets reminds me of so many people who have come and gone. Lone Mountain North, a man who runs to the top of mountains. The train stops and I watch as a woman, with curly blonde/grey hair greets a man and two barefoot boys below the age of five. She is their grandmother. The man is her son. The train moves along. When I was a child, and then a teen I would visit my Dad and his wife, at the time, in San Francisco. My Mom and her boyfriend, at the time, would drive me to the train station in San Jose and I, with my weekend bag and CD collection would jump from the backseat of the car and make my way to the ticket counter. I was always a bit afraid on the train, worried for my safety, feeling alone but I loved to watch life pass by. It wasn’t the life that you normally see. The life that you see from a train window are the edge cases. No one wants to live with a train in their backyard however it's cheaper. If you don’t have a home, a tent along the train tracks might be all you have. I watched those people. I saw their backyards and their front yards – is their grass green? Many junk yards, machines, stacks of cars, corrugated metal, workshops, fences and graffiti. I loved the graffiti. The art, the words, the poetry and color. I would keep a notebook and write down the words I saw on the walls. Sayings and obscure names, drawings and characters, gangs. It’s all still here and I certainly am glad that from a young age I learned to appreciate the tracks, the life that exists on the other side of them.
I want to go to the river and have dinner in the backyard under the stars and throw sticks for Badger and let my cats roam outdoors and kill mice and lay in the sun. I want to grow veggies and write and make love. Listen to music and take hot baths and hike and camp and learn to dirt bike. I want to drink wine and watch you build and I want to learn how to build and I want to paint paintings and fences and our bathroom ceiling. I want to live an artful life.
Soak them up and execute.
I will join in when I like. I will join well and you will enjoy.
Too late to be great.
I like questions that have neither a right nor a wrong answer. Only a thoughtful one.
and sometimes all at once, similarly to one deep breath, you miss all the people you've known.