Monday, April 02, 2007

a new blossom on the family tree

Early this morning, my sister-in-law Echo gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Smart little tyke, he waited just long enough to avoid being born on April 1st – narrowly escaping a lifetime of predictable jabs about him being an April fool. Now if we can just convince his parents not to name him Lurgash he may turn out okay.

It seemed fitting to celebrate the birth of my nephew with a painting Van Gogh made in honor of his own nephew’s birth – a scene of almond branches and emerging blossoms to signify new life. With its clusters of white set against a stunning blue background, the painting has often been interpreted as a classic symbol of hope and beauty and has become for many a Van Gogh hallmark (and thanks to Hallmark, has also been immortalized on post-cards, note cards, book bags, neckties, etc. etc. etc.)

It makes me sad to think that Vincent didn’t paint the rest of the tree because, in fact, his nephew’s birth coincided with a relapse of his own mental illness. Confined to his room at the asylum in Saint Rémy, Vincent arranged the branches on a table and painted the background from his own imagination.

Sorry, Echo, maybe this wasn’t the most appropriate painting to have chosen, (although you too are confined to a hospital room, but for much happier reasons).

But on the other hand, I do think there’s something to the “pure determination and optimism in the face of adversity” moral of Vincent’s life that always inspires me. When Theo Van Gogh wrote to his brother Vincent after his son’s birth, he told him “We shall give him your name, and my wish is that he will have the same perseverance and be just as courageous as you.” Courage, perseverance, the ability to create beautiful things: these are all gifts I too wish upon my new nephew.

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Other Blog Matters...

I have nominated Heth at From the Laundry Pile for a Perfect Post Award. I chose this post from March as my favorite. Although, to be honest, I had a hard time picking just one post because she is always witty and genuine. If I had been more on the ball last month, I would have nominated this post about why she has a million kids because we all need to hear more from people who believe children are a blessing in their lives.

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Did I mention that we have been without a vacuum for over a month? There’s a long story to tell (and a lawsuit with Hoover pending) and I don’t feel like getting into it right now, but suffice it to say the whole thing sucks and doesn’t suck at the same time.

This is why I succumbed to my own delusions of eventual good fortune and entered the contest for a free Dyson vacuum over at 5 minutes for Mom. If only it were a contest based on one’s ability to whine about one’s pathetic woes with the pitch and volume level of a vacuum in its death throes, I’d be a shoe-in. As it stands, I just have to wish for good luck. Darn.


Andrea said...

We're without a vacuum too. It really does suck. Hope you win! And congrats on the new nephew.

Radioactive Jam said...

Congratulations to Mr. & Mrs. Echo (and extended family).

And even though it won't matter for the Dyson contest, please record your "vacuum in death throes" impersonation. I'd be happy to create and host an mp3 file for playback. So we can all better [strike]laugh at[/strike] sympathize with you of course.

This is one of those times where I miss not having the "strikeout" tag in Blogger comments. But you get the idea I am sure.

Kimberly said...

Once again I wish you weren't so far away. 'Cause I have two vacuums. And a hand vac.

Don't hate me because I'm spoiled, okay?

allysha said...

I love that painting. It's so beautiful.

Are you really in a lawsuit with Hoover? Because that would be fun, and good blog fodder!

And if I can't win the Dyson, I wish it upon you. I'd wish it completely over to you, but I'm sorry, I'm a little selfish at heart! Hee, he.

Thoroughly Mormon Millie said...

I'm sorry. "Lurgash" sounds like the sound my intestines were making while I was lying in bed last night. But then, I have a niece and nephew named Demeter and Dionysus, so...

The painting is beautiful. Poor Vincent. I wonder if he'd been such a brilliant painter without his mental illness.

Good luck with your vacuum problem - one of those things you take for granted until it's gone, huh?

Thoroughly Mormon Millie said...

*would have been. Sorry :)

An Ordinary Mom said...

Congrats to Echo and the rest of your family! Having a new little baby around always is such a blessing.

This painting never fails to remind me of the Primary song, "Popcorn Popping."

It would be nice to have a non-sucky sucking vacuum. If I don't win it, I hope it comes your way :)!!

Dedee said...

I'm going to have to jump over to the site and enter the contest, as I also do not currently have a vacuum. I have to borrow my dh's from his work. Grrr.

Congratulations on the new member of the family and Van Gogh is always worth a look!

jenni said...

Congratulations on the new nephew! And I am completely mortified to admit that, although I have always considered myself a great fan of Van Gogh....I have NEVER in my life seen that painting before. Never! Now explain how that happened. HOWEVER, I have the great joy of seeing it here for the first time rather than Hallmark, so there's some comfort in that. I always get teary when I read about Van Gogh.

Good luck on the Dyson! (i already have one--nanny nanny!)

Jenny said...

What a wonderful post you have written! I love to learn you just taught me something new. I wish I had know about the painting 2 months ago when my first nephew was born!

scribbit said...

Congratulations to Echo (and every time, I love that name).

So you're slinking around the blogosphere masquerading as Ethan? Very sneaky.

Luisa Perkins said...

Lurgash? Really? It sounds like an orc's name.

I hope you win the vacuum cleaner! If I could revoke my entry to improve your odds, I would.

Kim from Hiraeth said...

Hi Julie,

I came here via Michelle at Scribbits.

I like your blog very much!

Sheela said...

congrats, auntie julie... thank you for writing about one of my favorite paintings; i haven't educated myself much in the art front and I love getting little snippets from your blog... the pear blossoms in my garden against the blue of the toolshed wall looks pretty close to this van gogh picture if I sit at the right spot on the deck stairs - aren't i lucky!

LaughingElk said...

A rose, by any other name

We weren't really going to name the baby "Lurgash", it's just a running joke in my family.

The baby's older siblings wanted to name it "Kick" if it was a boy, and "Rainbow" if it was a girl. Echo says this is why they aren't allowed to name the baby.

I figured if we had twins, we could name them "Mel" and "Femel" (Utah joke). Echo says this is why I'm not allowed to name the baby. This coming from someone named "Echo".

Anyway, we named him David James, and Echo and David are doing fine, thanks.

Mary-LUE said...

I love this painting and was fortunate enough to see it when the Van Gogh exhibit was in L.A. in '99. It may be a cliche' but Van Gogh is my favorite artist. I still remember my "first," a picture of a peasant in a straw hat at the Norton Simon.

Congrats on your new nephew. This post is a wonderful welcome to him.