Although I have spent countless hours researching and refining these pieces, they’ve actually been incubating somewhere in my psyche since I was about 4 years old. I believe I learned to read with Butler’s Lives of the Saints. Anyone familiar with this 4-volume set of tomes knows they contain stories every bit as bizarre and intriguing as Grimm’s Fairy Tales (another one of my early favorites). The stories also contain so many Jungian Archtypes and Synchronicity, which I have come to appreciate more and more as patrons let me know about our connections. (See The Hildegarden for a lot more about this.)
It was my godmother and mentor, Aunt Marie (with no children of her own and long since up there with the saints herself for more than 30 years) who introduced me to the the saints, along with virtually any other book I might have been interested in. (And I’m still interested in just about any book!)
It was those fantastic, heroic tales and historical glimpses that have stayed with me, finally coming forth to blend with the skills and interests I’ve acquired through the years.
Typical of her generation, aunt Mame was a conservative Catholic and a Goldwater Republican, yet she also was concerned with the environment (I inherited her extensive library, which includes a first edition of Silent Spring). She loved animals and gardening and in part was the inspiration for my St. Roch and St. Fiacre. I include flora and fauna in all my pieces.
She also loved history and did her best to make it come alive for me (I fell in love with Thomas Jefferson and Monticello on a trip we took when I was 12. I combined Jefferson and Fiacre in one of our free “Connection Quotations.”)
A dietitian by profession, Aunt Mame was more scientist than artist. However she was terrific with food presentation (I also inherited a first edition of The Joy of Cooking) and caused a stir when she insisted on having such radical food as whole grain bread and mixed salad greens in the hospital cafeteria in the early sixties (the white-bread years).
I dedicated the St. Martha Anachron to my Aunt Marie. I still talk to her and I know she is listening.