Magic Camera Monday: November 14, 2011

Hello Everyone,

I know I’ve been absent for a while, but I needed some time to heal and come to terms with my loss. I don’t actually think I’ve done either, but I feel more at peace. Things are very different for me now. I have imagined many changes in my life, but not this one.

When I decided to start posting again, I felt compelled to share with you how I feel. After numerous edits and false starts, I have decided that I can’t go into that at the moment. I’m sure I’ll share things in the future, but the pain is extremely raw and is all-consuming when I focus on it. Expressing emotions like these are very hard to find words for and this doesn’t feel like the right time nor place.

I started blogging because I wanted to tell you about my quilting and creative process. To share my journey and show you what and who inspire me.

As you know, quilting brings me tremendous joy and I have had a hard time capturing or holding on to that joy. It hasn’t been impossible, it’s just the inspiration is fleeting and so is my attention span. Because of this, I have found that it is easier to photograph things than it is to quilt. During the past month or so, I have had many memorable and divine experiences. I have tried to capture these special moments as best I can and plan to share each of them with you.

Since putting these experiences into words takes a heavy emotional toll, I’m going to start slow and the best way to do that is with a Magic Camera Monday.

The first photos I have to share are from my friend Jim Gatling’s house. He is an avid collector and his house overflows with creativity and inspiration. Jim is very much like his house—truly one-of-a-kind. This post is a very brief glimpse at a few of his collections. If you want to see more, I recommend you check out Jim’s blog. He is a very prolific quilter as well as a collector.

Buttons and Boxes 1

Buttons and Boxes 2

Little Houses 1

Little Houses 2

Little Houses and Painting

Pin Cushions Group

Pin Cushion Closeup

Button Trees

Before I go, I would like to thank you again for all the kind comments and emails. I can’t begin to express how much they have meant to me. The kindness and love you have shown me, leaves me speechless. Your words have lifted my spirits when I thought it was impossible to do.

As I read each heartfelt comment, I found strength and comfort. I felt the love, friendship, understanding and support that each of you sent me. I know I have mentioned many times that I am blessed. In spite of all the pain I have gone through—this proves itI am blessed.

Thank you for all you have done and continue to do for me.


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42 Responses to “Magic Camera Monday: November 14, 2011”

  1. Jim Gatling Says:

    Oh, it is such an honor to be mentioned on your blog! Thank you so much for not using the word “hoarder.” and not photographing my dust. I love Magic Camera Monday. Your photos make me smile!
    Love you!!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      You are most welcome. It would be wrong to say you are a hoarder. An enthusiastic collector—yes, but never a hoarder. Thank you for providing me with such wonderful subjects to photograph.

      Dust? What dust?

  2. Brenda Wall Says:

    Tom, welcome back. Just take it one moment at a time and eventually it will become one hour to one day. You have some very supportive friends that care about you, especially the unique one that we all love. He can always make us smile. Sending you hugs and love.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Brenda, I appreciate your kind words and feel the hugs that comes with them. It is hard to cope with this situation, but I’m getting through it as you say, one moment at a time.

      I’m glad you stopped by to say hi. If I close my eyes, I can see your smiling face, which makes me smile. Thanks for making my day.

  3. QuilterCaroline Says:

    Lovely to hear from you today – I love the photos as they are so cheerful. Take your time and do what feels right for you, we all have to walk our own path with grief. Bless you.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Caroline, It’s very thoughtful of you to respond. Every time I visit Jim there is something new to see. His studio is wonderful and chock-full of collections like the ones I photographed. He sets up vignettes all around his house, so you can truly appreciate his passion for each grouping of objects.

      Grief is definitely a solo journey. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by many caring friends and strangers, which has made the burden a little easier to bear, but it is a journey that only I can take.

      The process is going to be long and hard at times—actually most of the time, but I know it will get easier—at least that’s what I’ve been told.

      I was given a gift (Bill) and I hate not having it any longer. I can cope with most of the changes that I’ve had to adjust to, but knowing that I will never be able to see him again is the hardest.

      Thank you for the blessing and your concern.

  4. Patricia Eaton Says:

    Tom, It’s good to see you post again. This one is extra special as you’ve photographed some of the colorful ‘goodies’ at my beloved friend, Jim’s home. Great photos! Cheerful, too and trying to focus on something cheerful is a really good thing…I’m trying to do it myself these days, so I’ll be remembering YOU today and wishing you goodness in the days ahead. You know we love you here, pat

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Sweetie, It’s so good to hear from you. You’ve been on my mind. I apologize for not writing to you sooner.

      I agree, focusing on something cheerful is a good thing. It gets tough sometimes, but we have to try. Still being able to see cheerful things is a sign of good things to come. There was a time when I couldn’t see anything but the pain and the loss.

      The trip I took did me a world of good. Spending time with Mr. G always brings me peace and laughter. He’s something very very special. We are both lucky to have him in our lives.

      I will be thinking of you today and sending love and peace your way.

      Love you too.

  5. Carla Says:

    Welcome back. I’ve missed reading your posts and seeing your pictures. May you continue to find strength from the love that surrounds you.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Carla, What a nice surprise. It’s nice to hear that I have been missed and that YOU have missed my photography.

      You are one of the few people I know that make a camera a fashion accessory. 🙂

      With friends like you, I know I am surrounded by love and will find the strength to get through this very difficult period. Thanks for being in my life.

  6. Jeff Strang Says:

    Good to you see you! Your the best!

    Jeff and Cyn

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey there! It’s good to be seen. I actually think you are the best and I have pictures to prove it.

      I edited the photos from our field trip to Gatlinburg and will be sharing them soon. Man, that was a fun day.

      I shot hundreds of photos and will forever cherish the time with spent with you and Cynthia. She’s a pretty amazing woman. You are a very lucky man.

  7. Dot Collins Says:

    Tom, I love reading your posts and am happy to see you return. You share so much of yourself in everything you say and do and I can just see the pain in your eyes with the words but also the joy in your eyes with the photos of Jim’s collections. I love Jim’s blogs! He always makes me smile and sometimes I laugh out loud when I read them. You are loved and we are all ready to support with tears and laughter – to share and to talk, whatever is needed. Love you!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Well, hello there. You are such a dear. I can’t believe how blessed I have been to have you in my life. You are one of God’s gifts to me to help me get through this period in my life.

      I would be lying to say that I am that much better. I can still laugh—which is good—but as you know, I cry at the drop of a hat.

      Being surrounded by people gives me the strength to move forward. I still have a long road to travel and I know it will be filled with tears and laughter. Knowing you are one of my companions on this journey is very comforting. (Now, look at what you’ve done. I’m crying again.)

      You are a blessing to me. Love you too.

  8. amy Says:

    Tom, so good to hear from you. Been thinking a lot about you and Bill. Hope your trip up north was nice. Love ya, Amy

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Amy, It’s good to hear from you too. You have been on my mind a lot since I have returned home. I have been looking for the right words to say and a way to express my gratitude for all that you have done for Bill and I, but I am at a loss for words.

      What you did for Bill while I was in Colorado was one of the greatest gifts I have ever been given. You did for me what I could not do. You were there for him when he needed someone. For that I am eternally grateful and will be forever in your debt.

      My trip to Tennessee was a gift and I will cherish the time I spent there for the rest of my life. Hearing stories and seeing photos of Bill having a wonderful time was a blessing.

      To see that so many people loved him like I did was incredibly touching. Bill had many talents, but I think his greatest gift was picking friends.

      Love you too and I promise to call!

  9. Lynn Kelly Says:

    I just love Jim’s collections! It is not difficult to tell you had a good time with your Camera during your visit.

    Which makes me ask, have you named your camera? It seems that it should have a name as much as you and it have developed such a symbiotic relationship!


    PS: Glad you’re back on-line!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Lynn, It’s good to hear from you. Yes, I enjoy my time with Jim. He has so many collections, it’s hard to pick one to focus on.

      I only took pictures of about 15 minutes. The light wasn’t the best that day, so I decided to do something else. The camera preview wasn’t helpful. Everything appeared dark, but once I loaded the images onto the computer I realized they came out better than expected. That is a lesson learned. The Magic Camera definitely knows more than I do.

      No, I don’t have a name for the camera other than Magic Camera. I think it likes that name because it takes better photos than I am usually capable of shooting.

      I’m glad to be back too. It’s good to have something return to normal.

  10. Jayardi Says:

    • • • Good Morning Tom and welcome back. I have missed you so much!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Good morning to you too. I have missed you too.

      I apologize for not writing, but will contact you privately. I’m sending good thoughts and prayers your way.

      Talk to you soon!

  11. Shannon Young Says:

    Sending love to you, Tom! Glad to see your handsome face again! Can you come to the December AQG meeting? It’s going to be fun & everyone would love to see you. 🙂

    Take good care,

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi there! Oh, you are going to make me cry again. You are such a sweet sweet person. I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate you.

      I don’t think anyone makes me laugh like you do. I wish i could come to the AQG meeting, but I won’t be able to get away. I know it will be fun because AQG is a fantastic and fun-loving group of people.

      I wish I lived closer so that I could see everyone more often and be able to get some of your fresh eggs. I hear your chickens lay the best eggs around.

      You are a treasure! I’m sure Santa will have lots of presents for you this year because you have been a VERY good girl.

  12. Carol Anderson Says:

    Hello, Tom, good friend.

    I have so missed your posts, but I knew that you would be back when you were ready. The path you walk is a lonely one at times, but remember that all of your friends are ready to lend you a hand, a shoulder, or an ear.

    The sheer joy of these collections makes me smile. Who couldn’t love those buttons and all of their creative uses? Thanks for sharing, Jim and Tom.

    Carol aka needlecrazy

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Carol. It’s so good to hear from you. I appreciate your thoughtful comments. I know they are heartfelt.

      I couldn’t agree more. Jim’s collections are full of joy. You can spend days in his house just looking at his collections. He is amazing and I am lucky enough to know him.

      I hope to see you soon.

  13. Jackie Says:

    Oh, I love all the buttons. I sure wish I lived next door to you both as you are both so creative and maybe some of it would rub off on me.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hey there! You are too funny. Jim lives in Arkansas so we aren’t exactly neighbors, but you are welcome to move in next door. I think you are bubbling over with creativity, you just need to start using it.

      Don’t wait for the perfect time or place—just start. It’ll be there when you are. Trust me. I’m a professional. 🙂

  14. Cyn Strang Says:

    Hi Tom!
    So glad you’re back! We love magic camera Mondays ! Sending you our love and lots of hugs.
    Cyn & Jeff

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Cyn! It’s good to be back. I love Magic Camera Monday’s too. I appreciate the love and hugs too.

      I can’t thank you enough for allowing me to stay with you and Jeff during my recent visit. Our trip to Gatlinburg was fantastic and I can’t wait to share the pictures.

      You and Jeff will always hold a special place in my heart.

      Love you both.

  15. kathi Says:

    Hi tom, nice to see you back. Sorry things are where they are for you.
    A friend sent me a link to quilt slideshow,.,,,,and to my surprise….there was your bird piece from Jean’s challenge! How cool is that?!
    I know you will find your way back to quilting and it will be just the thing.
    Take care of yourself.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Kathi, Thank you for your kind words.

      I did the challenge to support Jean and the message board, but never in my wildest dreams did I think the quilt would have garnered all the attention that it has.

      It just proves that if you do something for the right reason, the universe rewards you for your efforts. Supporting Jean and all that she does to promote quilting was an easy decision to make.

      I will find my way back to quilting and this post is one of the steps to getting there.

  16. Nikki Brackin Says:

    we all have to walk the journey of grief alone – but, as you know, the people who love you are here to support and help you whenever you need it. the love and joy you find in quilting will return and you’ll be ok. love you!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      You . . . You are going to make me cry again. I’ve already done that three times and I’m only half-way through the comments.

      I can’t begin to tell you how much your friendship has meant to me. Visiting with you at Festival was wonderful. Your compassion and love for me leaves me speechless. I don’t know what I did in this life or a past one, to have earned such a friendship.

      You are a blessing to me. My life if richer because of you.

  17. Tretta Morvant Says:

    Hi, Tom – glad you are back. It was so nice to talk with you at the Quilt Festival. I finally found your quilt!!
    I know things will get better for you in time. I want you to know how
    much I treasure the email you sent me when I sent you a picture of
    my completed quilt from your workshop. It was so sweet and encouraging – just the thing for a fairly new quilter.
    Hang in there!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Tretta, What a wonderful surprise! Talking with you was a joy for me too.

      I am so proud of you and your quilt. Although it meant that you had to give up your title as Queen Of The Unfinished Projects.

      Your journey is just beginning. I know you are going to have many many quilts to share with me and others.

      I’ll be coming to the Beaumont show and will be looking forward to seeing your entries.

  18. Robin Says:

    Hi Tom, I’m glad to see you back on line. Just this morning, a friend and I were talking about your blog and that we missed you. I’m so sorry for your loss. Your life partner may not physically be here any more, but he will live on in your memories and in your life. You are a different person because of him, and that will continue. Though the memories may be painful now, eventually they will bring you joy that you had such a love.
    The photos are wonderful! Love the button trees and the little houses!

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Robin, I’m glad my first venture back into blogging was welcomed and appreciated. The fact that you were having a discussion about my blog warms my heart.

      Yes, Bill is in everything I do and feel. That is the hard part of coping with the loss. The is there because of the void. The void is equal to the joy.

      I am a different person because of him—there is no doubt about that. He changed me in ways that I never realized until after he passed. He was God’s gift to me, and for that I will be eternally grateful. I miss him.

      Don’t you love those houses. They are made by an artist in Searcy Arkansas. She also made the painting above the collection. I just LOVE her stuff! This collection made me want to start collecting her pieces.

      I think I’d collect her paintings more that the ceramic pieces because they are easier to dust. 🙂

  19. GAQuilter Says:

    Hey Tom;
    Missed you glad to see you back. {{{{HUGS}}}}. I cannot begin to imagine what you have been through just know I am here along with many others to let you grieve the way you need to. I have been through the grieving process with the loss of my first born so I understand the pain.

    Love the photos, somehow I knew there would be bittons in them! 😀 Every time I see buttons now I think of you! 😀

  20. Tom Russell Says:

    Well, good morning. I appreciate the BIG hug and your thoughtful comments. After all I have gone through, I still can’t imagine your loss.

    My heart hurts for you and I am sending you a (((HUG))) that is hopefully equal to what I received. Know that it is full of love and sorrow for your loss.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I don’t know what it is about buttons, but I can’t help but photograph them when I see them. Jim is a button collector and has thousands and thousands of buttons. The ones I photographed are nothing but utility buttons. He has button collections that will blow your mind.

    Some day I will have to photograph his better stuff to share with everyone. Jim has many many collections and he knows the history and importance of each piece. As you can imagine, this makes viewing them that much more entertaining.

    Thank you for sharing you loss and brightening my day.

  21. eileenkny Says:

    Oh Tom, you have been missed. Thank you for sharing those photos, you have such a good eye for detail.

    The pain will not go away, but it will become softer over time so that when it comes, you’ll smile and say, “I remember…” That is my wish for you.

    You say you are blessed; so are all of us.

    • Tom Russell Says:

      Hi Eileen, I’m glad you enjoyed my photos. You are correct. The pain will never go away. I have talked to many who have lost someone special and the pain is just as raw for them as it is for me.

      Some I spoke with had lost a loved one many many years ago and the pain is still there. That is what happens when you love deeply. The pain is there to remind us of the significance and importance of that soul.

      If the individual weren’t important, there would be no tears.

      I will remember . . . and smile . . . and shed a tear for the opportunity of knowing and loving him.

      Thank you for your sweet thoughts and wishes for a happier future.

  22. Shirley Jones Says:

    So glad you are back; in many ways. I love your work. Keep smiling that beautiful smile, keep quilting and blogging. From one Arkie to another–Be Blessed.
    NE Arkansas

  23. JoAnn Says:

    You have made the rainy day in Knoxville brighter. SO glad you are back to blogging. The pictures are great. Love the houses. Always here for you. BIG HUGS

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