Category Archives: Gratitude

From South Central with Love

Chances are, if you are reading this blog, you are a visual person. I certainly am.

With Instagram, Twitter and everything in between, we are the recipients of  eye candy on a daily basis. Photos and inspiration come in hot and usually with little reading. And I just started a blog.. Great..

ruthie sommers red library

My favorite chair in my library. I spend half as much time in here as I did three years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gardens at Courances Chateau I collect photos like these. Just in case I have a place to build this one day? Not..

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Carolyne Roehm- This photo reminds me of an incredible children’s book-The Curious Garden by Peter Brown as seen below.

 

 

 

Pretty, chic, gorgeous are all words sitting on the tip of my tongue waiting to  be used on anything from a kitchen sink to a piece of fancy art.  I like pretty things, from topiaries to bed spreads. I live in an over stylized Pinteresty world and I enjoy it. Little did I know, my search for a new pound puppy would lead me down a colorful path of inspiration.

South Central Los Angeles is a hop, skip and a jump from my bucolic neighborhood. The gorgeous green lawns trade places with yards littered with grocery carts. Riots , poverty and crime are words that are synonymous with this area more than beautiful and chic.

With every drive, my eyes were opened to something new amidst the decrepit buildings and baron yards.  At 7 am I had a glimpse of the elderly grandfather watering his petite garden patch that was as colorful as children’s book. I discovered a tiny house painted a shocking magenta pink crawling with blooming soft blush roses and neon colored bougainvillea.

The touch of people, the human touch on so many of these houses screamed “Look at me in a different way”.

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The neatly swept brick path speckled with garden statues and gnomes felt cared for with love. One porch was barely visible from the street as it was covered in a riot of planted ferns all in painted pots.

What a wonderful break from what is becoming the norm to me on the internet.   Cape Cod styled kitchens, food so glorious that it should not be eaten,bedroom canopies that rival those of Marie Antoinette. My idea of pretty has become fairly unrealistic.

The time I spent in South Central had an impact on me . Not only the long and surprising drive but the people I met along the way. While I touched several furry friends, the people at the shelters touched me.

Leslie, the supervisor, has a favorite dog named Michael that she named after an angel. She takes him out everyday and showers him with treats when she can.

John, the cop, drives the streets of downtown LA in search of dogs that are abandoned. He started his own rescue and had just carried in two dogs that were pushed out of a car.

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Here is the cop with the dog rescue. He had seen this dog pushed out of a car. Don’t worry! This will have a happy ending because of his kindness.

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Leslie and Micheal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is Destiny. I almost fell over when she told me her name. I told her I knew it! She had an amazing gift and this is where is she is needed. We laughed and laughed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I needed this change of scenery. Those bright orange shutters and hot pink house will probably never make it to a Pinterest page. And I am not sure when I will connect with Destiny any time soon.  But I feel richer than I do surfing the net or sometime chatting about mundane topics.  This was a new kind of beauty. And one that I have been missing in my life.

And now, I have a new puppy, many new friends at the animal shelter and a new view.

Below are some moments that remind me of my journey .  The black and white photography came from a fantastic book called The Americans, photographs by Robert Frank and paintings from my favorite artist, Edward Hopper. 10119918_1_x-Custom robert-frank-the-americans-american-flag-covering-windows

 

By Peter Brown

By Peter Brown

 

 

 

 

I hope you can find beauty and inspiration today in some unsurprising places.

PS-This has a happy ending but get out the tissues. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8EBjjgWkII

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memorial Day

It is so easy to forget why we celebrate Memorial Day. And I am embarrassed to admit that when asked by my friend Jimmy, as we were driving past the California coast to enjoy this holiday,  What is the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day?. Neither of knew the precise definition.

Today we pause and remember those who have died for our country. The words slip out easily for me. I know no one in the military serving our country. I have no relation or daily reminders to people who have died, or know mothers who have lost sons or daughters in the current war. My grandfather was a medic in WWII. I have stories. But no current connections. Guilt creeps up on me on days like this. We have so much. And men and women risk their lives for me. Yes, me.

We live a bucolic sheltered life from war in the United States. September 11th recharged the American spirit from the tragedy of that day. I remember it well.   Since then, we have become a nation where news of death in the middle east is relegated to the back page of a newspaper.  Memorial Day has become synonymous with a sale at Nordstroms or taking the day off from work. Wouldn’t be great if all the sales from everywhere donated a portion to fallen soldiers families? How amazing would that be?

For my small contribution-I am writing a letter to the parents of a fallen solider. With an average of 22 suicides of veterans a day in America I feel that I can do something to say thank you. I am not sure what I am going to write exactly-  Thank you is foremost. My cynical side of me feels that this is just a drop in the pan – I feel guilty about the life I lead .. But then I don’t.. Should I tell them how I have seen women with a rich life, healthy children actually get mad when their wallpaper for their walk in closet is delayed? I watch people actually cut others off at my Whole Foods parking lot to get a spot and flip the bird rushing to inject themselves with the wheat grass juice.  We live a charmed life and much of is not appreciated and I am to blame on this level as well. Today is great reminder for me to not sweat the small stuff. Today I remember that life is short and war is real and mothers, fathers and brothers and sisters. A women, just like me, with young children is getting news today that their soul mate is gone.  I am grateful for all the soldiers that have died for me, Americans and everyone all around this tiny planet.  I hope they have happiness and love and sunshine wherever they are.

The photo below is of  Liam and Theo. Liam was killed by the Taliban and his best friend and dog ,Theo, died shortly afterwards. This photo struck a cord with me because it made me see the reality of war, humanity and love all wrapped up into one photo. I hope everyone enjoys the day, smells the roses and look at the stars tonight as if they only come out once a year!

Love Ruthie

 

Vienna

– Before you read this I realize this song may sound cheesy given this post topic- I am not trying to sensationalize this little post. The song is beautiful regardless but I was listening to this on the plane yesterday before I came home to find out this news-so it feels ok to share.

But my story is sad. VIenna died yesterday. She was hit by a car when I was coming back from visiting my clients home in Lake Forest, Chicago. Vienna was our fourth dog and such an adorable, dear scared little rescue. She followed me everywhere. When I left the house she would sit in my old green velvet fauteuil louis xvi chair waiting nervously for me. The tears keep coming and I can not help remembering yesterday and the awful events. I got to the doctor too late. She died in the waiting room.
What she was thinking in her last moments? Maybe she had a choice and decided heaven was better with more treats and constant companions? My spiritual side is trying to make sense of the lesson of her soul somewhere in this. It would be so easy to say that this is life and we all have a cycle. But she was only five and she was finally with a family and mother that loved her. My heart hurts as it does when you loose anything special. I hope she did not suffer and where ever she traveled to-It must have been better than here right?

I love this quote by the author of Marley and Me, John Grogan-
“A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbol means nothing to him. A waterlogged stick will do just fine. A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. “A dog doesn’t care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not”

Dogs bring me so much joy and there is no doubt they are responsible for much of my light hearted happy nature. While that sounds corny, I know the feeling of sitting on a green grassy lawn with the sun beating down lasts longer than buying a new pair of shoes. I know that when I wake up everyday, my husband and I laugh about something that one of our four dogs was doing during the night. Luke gets on the floor and rolls around with Bear every morning. I squeeze Sugars black little “ghetto dog” face. Lilah is usually under the covers and V ( I called her V) Vienna was stuck to me like glue when I would dance my way downstairs for coffee in a.m.

Because I am a morning person I could not wait to have a cup of coffee and walk around my garden before the girls woke up. The spring weather is LA has been hot. My blueberries keep surprising me so I hurry out every morning to see if I can start picking them.  Vienna would venture out confidently around my boxwoods and in and out of little hidden areas.  This is what I have to remember I suppose. The minutes. The moments. They are fleeting no matter what. I am always surprised to see people who are trying to capture every single moment by video tape or cameras.  It is hard to do both-Be present and tape?-But I raced to my iPhoto to find photos and videos funny enough- – And while I was scouring my computer for those very same videos yesterday to find any moments of  V-I remember the smell of the morning the most -the sweetest smell of jasmine blooming, the birds chirping in the morning and V running around.   The combination of aromatic coffee, early morning and sweet V is how I started my day grateful. I  need to remember happiness comes from a state of mind.

Today is my day to be grateful for those minutes. To be alive and healthy myself and to have the capacity to take in and care for those who can not care for themselves.  And gratitude, on any level is what really makes our hearts sing and keeps us grounded.
I love the quote-“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” What a short order in life to aspire to do.
Vienna, I love you and will never forget you and I will see you again one day.
Love Ruthie

Design Sponge

Now that I have a blog I feel so much more gratitude for the people and bloggers that were kind enough to think I had something interesting to say! How lovely when someone wants your opinion.. (Because we all know our kids and hubbies can loose interest …)

Design Sponge has been a constant resource for me over the years and I would like to repost this blog where we had a conversation over a Q and A. How I wish we lived in 18th C France or somewhere where we were able to sit and chat. I would have had many questions answered myself.  cropped-elle.jpg

Here is my thank you and my gratitude for putting me on your map!

http://www.designsponge.com/2011/03/whats-in-your-toolbox-ruthie-chapman-sommers.html

GOOD MORNING

Good Morning!

Ruthie still life

I woke up this morning around 5:45 am. Posey, my two year old, breathing angel breaths lay sleeping next to me, along with my loud snoring husband.. Two of my four dogs were on the bed and the sun was streaming in. Not to sound corny, but I was so happy to be where I was. I dreamt Luke, my hubby, was cheating on me and I could not control him cheating ( hmm. Freud is lurking here…. ) The last I remember in my dream I was kicking him in my old ratty brown UGG’s asking him to stop cheating… and vowing to myself to work out and get more blow outs.

I popped out of bed and made a dash to the grocery store. My excuse was that I needed lunch food. But clearly coffee was on my mind. And then this amazing morning trailed my rather bizarre dream and state of mind. My behind the scenes note is that I have just returned from a wonderful stay in ole Paris.. And like the French, addressing everyone is nice manners. Good morning! Bon Jour Madame! I seemed to forget I was in a Ralph’s grocery store in Los Angeles and not on a cobblestone street in Paris. “How are you? , Good Morning ! and most likely in an annoying high pitchen intonation. People acted as if I was famous. Startling smiles, cheerful responses and surprising remarks-“Cute shirt” came from the seventy year old bakery lady with orange lipstick. I probably sang hello to 10 people..Maybe it was the Hazelnut Coffee Mate I snuck in my coffee..but created a high that lasted all day.

Photo by Coral Von Zumalt for Lonny Magazine

Photo by Coral Von Zumalt for Lonny Magazine

I literally skipped out of the grocery store like a fairy on pixie dust.. I realized how easy and free it is to be happy for other people just belting my version  of Bon Jour! Our combined happiness was infectious.

Of course the  Jacaranda leaves appeared unusually purple this morning (since I am on my pixie dust of coffee and smiles ) Their indescribable color of purple  inspired me to paint a very belated thank you note to Mrs Suzanne Rheinstein.

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These magnificent trees line my neighborhood in Los Angeles. What a wonderful gift to see everyday. My girls now copy me when I get overly excited about the “jack-a rand-a.. ” Whose Jack they ask.