Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Accumulated Life

Last week the delightful and talented Wendi Schneider traveled from Denver with her magic camera to record moments in what I call "my accumulated life." We had four days of of putting together a variety of photographs of the things I love in my Hudson River digs. Ames, Iowa to of these days. Having two homes, at least, means dividing what you love around the country!

Try as I may not to, I am still acquiring--and yesterday's find can be almost as powerful as the ones you've grown accustomed to. One of the things that became apparent as Wendi delved into the cabinets and saw things perched on shelves that are so a part of the scenery I almost think of them as permanent fixtures is that many were gifts of one kind or another. I have been living with the love and largess of others--and how fortunate I have been to have people in my life who seem to know what makes my heart sing.

Amazingly, many friends over the years have said to me, "You're so hard to buy a gift for." With all the loot that Wendi and I photographed, I have to doubt this. Of course, my Victoria days did engender many lovely things that friends, colleagues, and associates have been gracious with. Take my crown collection, for example: I did not buy even one for myself. Over time, crowns, mostly pins, just keep finding a place in my "tower" of jewels. I, myself, find it refreshing when a friend has a signature piece--it makes gifting challenging. Is there a heart that Ann does not have? Is there one unique and will touch her own tender heart in a special way?

My friend Kim Shaver at Hooker Furniture has asked me to jot down some of the ways in which we live with the things we love for a project she is doing. Kim is a big believer in the idea that how we furnish our homes includes a large dollop of love--that when we invest in a piece of furniture it does more than occupy space and provide function. So, I'll be looking at my own accumulated life for Kim. And I'll have to give thanks to the legions who have helped me with gifts ranging from candlesticks to teapots to artworks to the books that have been written by the people in my life. I think of being especially fortunate to have bequests that make my homes
ever more meaningful--a gallery of generations who stitched and crafted leaving a legacy that means the world to me.

Whew...I was bit tuckered out after working with Wendi. And I know she was also--it's not only physical work but emotional, too, as one focuses on the true meaning behind our possessions. A tiny taste of Wendi's incredible work is pictured here. We both have a big job to narrow down the shots we want to keep--and then to decide if we have a book or other project on this subject of accumulation. We all live on our own stages--mine is filled to the brim with memories. Yours?


  1. Man, I can't wait to see the images you'll be sharing, Nancy. I have loved her photography for literally decades; the image of the Dior wedding gown with the "bustle" of roses graces my "style file" since its inception. Her discerning eye informs every photograph with beauty. Please thank her for us.
    And you're so right about objects having such personal meaning. Oftentimes, as I've been "re-building" my home (after years of my dear, but sloppy, son living there alone), I find a chair or a rug that just seems to call out to me. More often than not, I see its near relative in old photos of the house I grew up in...the security of an scrolling patterned rug or a Dresden shepherdess...ah, home!

    What a lovely post, Nancy.
    Love, Karen Marline

  2. I really love this post too ,Nancy-& I think that these pictures of things you have accumulated with Love, would make nice book ,that I would purchase in a heartbeat!

    I especially would love to see your "Crown" collection. love,Valery

  3. Yes, mine is filled with memories also and I keep collecting the memories and the treasures. I would love to see your crown collection too. I have a friend that collects crowns.

  4. Thank you so much! It was an amazing experience. In all the years I photographed for Victoria, I never had the chance to work with Nancy.
    It was an honor to be chosen to photograph her beloved treasures and a pleasure to create with her!

  5. Twenty-some years of hunting for crowns, garnets, and unique jewelry to get "pinned to your heart" was a challenge and a pleasure!
    Janet Harrington
    employee, friend and neighbor

  6. You've touched a very tender subject with me - "accumulation". I gravitate toward accumulation w/o really taking the time to articulate what draws me and and why....

    Your work is new to me, but your words are not! They seem to flow from a center that we share. It DOES sound that you're further down the road of deliberate thought than I on this subject. I shall be interested in seeing where this path takes you.

  7. There's no question about the fact that how I have furnished my own home includes many large dollops of love. I am sitting in a wing chair that belonged to my beloved grandmother, with her side table to my right, another of her wing chairs on the other side of the table, and a loveseat across from me that has been in my life as far back as I can remember. I have things in every room that directly speak to my connection to beloved family members... things that can be reminders of people who have loved me well. It is a great comfort to me to have these things, time-worn though they may be. They fit right in among the newer and less-tied-to-memory items in my home. And there is harmony and balance in having both.