Ultimate Regifting – Artist’s Notebook



Fourteen years ago, I gave my mother a little sketchbook.  This year she sent it back to me. Regifting, she said.

Miraculously, it had been transformed.


One of the first drawings, and also one of my favorites. There are many of hands, some of feet. They are just like her.


The Bug Island schoolhouse, already in disrepair in 1997, now gone.

When I was very little an elderly woman named Mae lived there, across the road from our house. She put candy canes and malted eggs in our mailbox on the appropriate holidays. There was a big slate blackboard on the wall in her living room. I had the idea that she was the last teacher and that she never left, but now I don’t think that was true.


Mae’s barn, also now gone. Kitty drew and photographed this place many times over the years. I played in it as a child. I took photos of it, and so did my nephew, DBeans.


Detail of Mae’s barn.


Alcazaba, Malaga, Spain.  Kitty told me that she missed this entirely when she walked past it the first time, on her way to Pablo Picasso’s house. This is the view from the bus stop back to Puerto del Sol. I love the sure, straight lines in this.


Sometimes, it’s choosing what not to draw. “gulls off my balcony – Spain 2-18-98”


“My courtyard, Nanchang, China, 10-31-2000.” She said there was a little hole in the door, which didn’t make her feel very safe. Notice the shadow of the palm tree on the wall?  This is from one of two times she lived in China.


The view from our living room window in Acton, less than two months after we moved in. We bought the house while she was in China and she stayed with us for a couple of weeks on her way back home.

This view is now hidden behind a couple of trees our neighbors planted. It was part of the reason we bought the house, but we still love it here anyway.


Our back yard, same visit. Wow, it’s so different now. The chain link fence is covered in honeysuckle and the apricot tree is very large and shady in summer. I’m pleased to be reminded that we started right out inviting the wild birds to our place.

I could keep posting till the whole sketchbook was online. There are more drawings from each of these places, as well as from Florida and Mexico. Notes from a trip to the south of France with my brother and his son, colored pencil tests for a drawing of a relative’s house in Montana where she visited a few times.  Sketches from waiting in airports, out the window of the train at an unexpected stop, from the Union Stations in Chicago and Los Angeles.

I have already paged through it several times, once on the telephone with Kitty.  Yay, there are two more volumes in the set, so far.

You can just imagine how much I love this gift.


20 thoughts on “Ultimate Regifting – Artist’s Notebook

  1. This takes my breath away. The loveliness of the sketches, the creativity and love you share with your mom.

    • Sundry says:

      The cool thing is, she taught first and second grade, so a lot of kids learned to read from her. Many of them say she was their favorite teacher. Great way to share a very good person.

  2. Shu-Ju Wang says:

    This is such a beautiful gift, not to mention that it’s full of beautiful drawings. What a treasure!

  3. kitwocky says:

    I don’t have the words to express how much I love this. It’s astonishingly beautiful, and such a wonderful treasure for you two to share. And your mom… in addition to being such a great mom is also a brilliant artist! Wow. Just wow.

  4. torty2010 says:

    Wow – no wonder you carry a notebook! She is an amazing artist!

    • Sundry says:

      When I was first painting with water colors in school, my teacher wanted to know how I knew to push some of the excess paint off of my brush on the rim of the container. This is how…We must have pointed together.

  5. colleen craig says:

    This is the most wonderful gift!!! I can’t think of something more special. Maybe one day I will do this for my daughters.

  6. Chuck Thompson says:

    These are so special, gifts created by those you love mean more than
    all the things that can that can ever be bought. I have several 4 X 6 watercolor practice art books that Susan created during the last three years of her life, I will always treasure them. When I am gone they will be passed on to our Granddaughter who is showing much promise in art and music..

    • Sundry says:

      Oh, that’s wonderful, Chuck. She was such a talented artist, and her notebooks must be lovely journals of the things that caught her eye. Thanks for mentioning her and reminding me of her beautiful smile.

  7. markrhunter says:

    Boy, I wish I could draw like that …

  8. Sundry says:

    Me too! I have a few pencil sketches of various apartments and the whole mess of the casual living room from back when I drew more, but they are not this sure handed.

  9. Peg says:

    …And she’s off to yet another adventure, sketchbook in her bag! Kerry & I dropped her off at the airport this morning for a couple of months in Mexico. I love it that she buys a one-way ticket–not sure when she’ll head home. She’s a treasure, all right.

  10. ganglor says:

    These drawings are lovely! What a wonderful gift, yours and hers. P.S. I am enjoying your blog!

  11. seabluelee says:

    This is one of my favorite blog posts ever, and I don’t mean just of yours. What a precious and truly priceless gift! I can tell it’s only one of many she has given you. She sounds like a remarkable woman. I think the two of you are blessed to have each other.

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