Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Gardeners


“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
Marcel Proust


November is National Family Caregivers Month, a time to recognize and thank those who do so much within our communities.  What a perfect opportunity to celebrate and give my humble thanks to family, friends, and respite volunteers who are indeed charming gardeners allowing Mom to blossom and find great joy in her days. May these images that serve as examples of daily reminders of gifts surrounding us serve as my expression of gratitude.


In case inquiring minds want to know why I have been a bit quiet on this front, it is because I have been busy!  To date, I have taken over 450 daily flowers in 11 countries and 19 states.  Each day I post a photo on Instagram and my Elmore DeMott Photography Facebook page.  Join me in each spot for different images honoring an Alzheimer’s journey and celebrating nature.  To view Volume I, the entire first year of “Flowers for Mom”, click here, and for the start of Volume II, check here.  



Great things are ahead including a video feature about “Flowers for Mom” and a solo museum show.  Stay tuned, and join me in sharing your gratitude with the caregivers amongst us.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

An Anniversary

In 525,600 minutes, how do you measure a year in the life?  That is the question asked in the song Seasons of Love from the musical Rent.  Love was their answer, and one with which I absolutely agree.  As a tangible reminder of this past year in my life I have photographed a flower every single day and experienced many seasons of love including rainy and sunny days.


This Camera Journey began with a single stem of Queen Anne’s lace on August 2, 2016 at a time when my mother was recovering from a fall that kicked her Alzheimer’s symptoms into high gear.  I knew I could not magically make the disease go away, so in an effort to do something I chose to pause each and every day to acknowledge the hardships, the happiness, and the love of a year in the life by photographing a flower.

What I did not anticipate was that the seeds would spread and create blooms well beyond my single stem.  Through my Flowers for Mom series I have been given the gift of meaningful conversations with others facing challenges as well as kind words of encouragement along with gratitude for the joy in seeing one of the flower images.  I am humbled and inspired to continue on this journey.


Tears are in my eyes as I acknowledge this anniversary.  There are so many stories to tell that I know there must one day be a book.  Join me on Instagram and Facebook where I regularly share photos and stories, and help this mailing list grow by forwarding this message and letting me know who would like to receive my musings.  Flowers are so much more magnificent when shared!




Twinkles have returned to Mom’s eyes and she provides regular reminders of finding delight in simple things such as hearing a familiar song, and seeing her favorite flower, Queen Anne’s lace.  For this day I ask that you join me in pausing to notice something beautiful.  You will find something, I promise.  As with my flowers, on some days, I need others to help me find the bloom.  I give my humble thanks to all who have joined me in this flower garden.  In the next 525,600 minutes there will be daylights and sunset, flowers, and lots of love.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Awareness

June is Alzheimer’s Awareness Month as well as my birthday month.  Special occasions both challenge and inspire me to create a unique image to mark the occasion.  A friend’s beautiful garden filled with lavender provided the perfect subject.  The flowering herb is purple, the color associated with Alzheimer’s awareness, and according to flowermeaning.com, it represents “refinement, grace and elegance.”  There could be no finer way to describe my mother.




To me, this image of one stem of lavender enveloped by others is akin to my experience on this journey as a child of one with Alzheimer’s.  There are many facing the same illness as I am so often reminded when crossing paths with friends and when entering into conversations with people I meet.  While the experience for each of us is different, we are all supported by those in our midst, and in spite of drought and weeds, we persevere.  When we choose to look around the garden, there is beauty.  It can be seen when the person living with dementia has a good day, when we receive the kindness of a friend, when we laugh instead of crying, and when we pause to put life in perspective.  As the days move beyond this month with a special focus on a difficult disease, I give thanks for the continued support of those doing medical research, for those providing respite for family members, for the care partners who do heavy lifting every single day and for the many other flowers around my mother and others with Alzheimer’s.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Wood You Notice

Ever thought about the tree that produces gorgeous flowers?  While the blooms are fleeting, the tree is soaking up water and sunshine throughout the year, and presenting us with marvelous seasonal fashion.  Just think of all of the outfits - with leaves, with barren branches, with buds, with flowers, with green leaves, with golden leaves, and more!


What about the tree that produced the wood for the furniture on which you are sitting?  Just as the careful hands of a gardener allow plants to flourish for the eye to savor, the hands of skilled craftsmen turn the gifts of a tree into family heirlooms.



My camera and I recently spent time with Thomas Moser.  He is an artist, a craftsman, and a gentle giant in the furniture realm.  Because of his leadership and vision, he has built an incredible team in his furniture workshop in Maine.  To experience a place of gratitude for the beautiful wood being used, with a spirit of pride in the quality of work being done, and compassion for those with whom they work was something with which I am certain the trees are pleased.


Our natural resources are precious.  Care for them.  Appreciate them, and celebrate the thoughtful use of them.  Next time you play a round at Augusta National, make sure and check out this gorgeous tree.  It’s fairly easy to find as it is along the fairway of hole #2 - the “Pink Dogwood Hole!”

Where shall my camera and I go next?  Do tell!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mothers Day



What flower shall I photograph to add to Flowers for Mom for Mother’s Day?  Is there a certain flower that you associate with your mother?



As I build this photo series, there are many days on which I feel called to create something unique to mark an occasion.  May 4th is one such day.  It is the birthday shared by my husband and youngest daughter.  In a garden nurtured by a dear friend I call the Flower Fairy, I found sweet woodruff and ajuga growing side by side.  To me, the delicate white flower is like my daughter, and the tall purple flower, my husband.  They are each wonderfully unique, growing together and making the world a better place as they bloom.



My mother’s birthday in March posed a photo challenge.  While walking with friends we passed many classic spring flowers showing their colors, but I was not feeling inspired to claim any of them as “the” flower of the day to celebrate March 11th.  Then I found it on an incredible tree I had never seen before.  Thanks to a handy app, my friend identified it as a royal empress tree - the perfect flower for my mother’s birthday!  Thank you to those who shared your own flower photos on her birthday via social media, e-mail and text.  Mom was delighted as we looked at them all.




Many things become more beautiful when shared.  Flowers are one such thing.  In celebration of mothers, the Jackson Hospital Foundation is giving people the opportunity to make a gift to support their healthcare work in honor or memory of mothers.  In so doing, an image specially selected for the honoree from my Flowers for Mom series will be hung in a sun kissed walkway that connects two of the hospital towers.  For my mother, I find this to be a perfect way to recognize her on Mother’s Day.  May the images honoring her Alzheimer’s journey be a cause to “smell the roses” for many individuals in years to come.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Humans Being

Music by the composer Steve Reich is a favorite of mine when processing photos, as it tickles my brain with unique sounds, fascinating instrumentation, and no discernible harmony or melody.  Reich has been on the forefront of American music and is known as a founder of the minimalism movement along with Philip Glass and Terry Riley.  I recently had the opportunity to hear a concert he curated at Carnegie Hall that featured the JACK Quartet and Bang on a Can All-Stars.  It was one of a series of concerts designed to celebrate three generations of new music composers.  Experiencing the music and listening to the discussion by the composers that followed reminded me of the importance of the exploration of the arts and how they are a testament to our times.

As you pause to notice something beautiful each and every day, I challenge you to engage in various art forms be it music, theatre, poetry, visual art, or some other creative expression that speaks to you.  In so doing, reflect on what they mean to you as a human being.  

It is easy to place art in a category of unnecessary fluff, but as I have learned through my “Flowers for Mom” exercise of pausing to photograph a flower every day in honor of an Alzheimer’s journey, we must live as humans being, not merely humans doing.  The arts help us do exactly that.

As Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney who was a sculptor, art collector, and founder of the Whitney Museum once said, “Art is an ascending or descending scale, the spirit of its joy reaches us in unexpected ways.”  Include the arts in your life by engaging in them, supporting them and celebrating new work being done to document our unique time in history.


What will you pause to experience today?   Dew on the bloom of a strawberry plant, a drawing by a child, music that makes your heart sing, a live performance, or something else?  Go on about life as a human being and celebrate it.  My mother would certainly tell you to do exactly that.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Family Stories

When I first told my brother about my “Flowers for Mom” series, he shared that whenever he sees Queen Anne’s Lace he thinks of Mom.  Clearly I do too because it was the very first flower I photographed for the series!  Above is the first shot of Queen Anne’s Lace paired with a faded bloom in the same location two months later.  As evidenced in the incredible responses to these flower photographs, people associate flowers with special people and events, and these flowers are resonating with them in lovely, unique ways.  This series is rich with stories tied to specific images, and I hope you enjoy these.
My father is my greatest source of flowers, and it has been a joy to learn names of plants from him and to open the door to see him holding a cup full of flowers he found in bloom at Jasmine Hill Gardens, a place he has long loved and nurtured.  It has been an unexpected gift to talk of flowers in addition to how Mom is doing that day.  On both counts, some are more beautiful than others.  As you enjoy the flowers from the Christmas cactus and bromeliad delivered by Dad, imagine my kitchen table serving as my “studio” for the photo shoots!

I had never heard of pearl bush before Dad delivered a cutting to me.  Something about the flower triggered memories of my maternal grandmother, so I pulled out an old dress of hers that she would have worn with pearls, to serve as the background.
In honor of my wedding anniversary on October 2nd, I photographed two calla lilies, the flower I carried down the aisle 23 years prior.  With becoming wonderful young women, in their honor I photographed pink kalanchoes.  The message for which I was aiming when setting up the shot was “Dearest daughters, walk towards the light - there are people ahead of you, beside you and behind you.”
The discipline of taking a photograph of a flower a day provides me and those around me with a moment to pause and think of Mom and her Alzheimer’s journey.  Some have more patience for the photographic exercise than others.  As you can guess, an energetic 12 year old nephew has less patience.  I was with him one afternoon when we stopped by his house to pick up his tennis racket.  While there, my goal was to take a photograph in his yard where my sister works so hard to nurture her plants.  After about ten frames of a hydrangea in its muted fall tone, he asked if I was finished.  As only an aunt can retort, I said, “Greatness takes time!”
At the rate of a new photo every day, I have lots of stories, but will stop for now and let you make up your own story for the photo above while I dream of a book one day in which I can tell you more.  Opportunities to share through my “Flowers for Mom” are taking root with one example here from the Teepa Snow Online Dementia Journal.  I remain passionate about people enjoying the great outdoors, and hope you will check out my photographs on the the shirts for the new Red Hills Clothing line that donates a portion of the proceeds to benefit Tall Timbers, stewards of wildlife and wildlands.

In closing I leave you with the flower my eldest and a group of friends selected on a day when I sent them into a flower shop to pick my flower for the day.  When back in the dorm room shooting in my daughter’s window, I remarked that the flower was purple.  My daughter responded, “Of course, purple is the Alzheimer’s color!”