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Megan Lyness Brings Fresh Meaning to Her Grandmother’s Jewelry
Costume jewelry: We’ve all got it lying in drawers or hanging on hooks. The “statement” look, the “minimalist” look, the “natural” look, goldtone, silvertone ... And when, sadly, we lose our grandmothers and mothers, the jewelry piles up. We struggle with what to do with these pieces, not wanting to throw treasured “ear bobs” or bracelets away. Usually these adornments get put into a box on a shelf where they are occasionally noted with a sigh.
This indecision hasn’t been the response of Megan Westbrook Lyness, however. Wanting to memorialize her dear late grandmother Jeffie Wilson, who treasured her trove of costume jewelry, Megan gathered Jeffie’s baubles, bangles, and beads. She pitched in some of her own jewels, and so did her mom, Milissa Gee. After consulting Pinterest for ideas, Megan decided to let her own creativity take control. She bought a mannequin from Hobby Lobby, sewed a demure skirt for it to bring dignity to the look, and then began swirling and twirling Jeffie’s pearl necklaces, gold chains, bracelets, watches, rings, using diagonal lines to bring vibrance to the effect. She bought strings of fake pearls at Walmart, separated the individual pieces, and hot-glued them to the mannequin in the gaps between the bracelets and necklaces. The effect is stunning! Megan’s husband, Dustin, agreed, appraising the work of art and saying, “Wow, amazing, Babe!” Milissa and Dick were so excited that they sent us the pic of the posh mannequin to include it in this story.
Jeffie’s jewels were especially loved by Megan because she and her sister, Lindsay, used to stay with Jeffie during the week and played dress up with her abundant beads and earrings, many with the dreaded pinching clips! They really loved wearing a certain pair of Jeffie’s favorites - a huge red resin circle with a big pearl dome in the center! Megan remembers how she and Lindsay would parade around in these fineries as Jeffie, sitting in her chair reading the paper with a magnifying glass, looked up to admire the fashion show. Lindsay told Megan, “I love all the pieces brought together to remind us of such fond memories of our grandmother.”
Debating the placement of the pearly objet d’art, Megan has considered mounting it on a canvas somehow or hanging it in her bathroom. Wherever the bedecked mannequin lands, it will bring joy, for its representation of Jeffie as well as for its charm.
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever,” said the poet, and Megan Lyness has created a meaningful thing of beauty from articles that may have lost their lives when Jeffie lost hers. Now some of her flair and grace still delight. What an artful tribute!
Lounelle Draper Tackles Years of Glenn’s Musical Library and Photos
Our lovely neighbor Lounelle Draper had a very busy summer, organizing and distributing the trove of musical material that belonged to her late husband, Dr. Glenn Draper, who died in June of 2019 at almost 91. As you can imagine, this late Titan of chorales had amassed a tremendous collection of music in myriad forms during his many years of directing choral groups all over the South. As the first anniversary of Glenn’s death approached, Lounelle knew it was time to do something. She went into the job with two goals: culling/condensing and getting herself out of the house to deliver and mail this material locally and around the country.
To get a grasp of the extent of Lounelle’s task, you need to know that Dr. Draper had four offices, three in Chattanooga and one at home - each jammed with sheet music, CDs, DVDs, and photos. All this accumulated during his direction of choirs and choruses for 55 years, from Florida (Miami Hurricane Singers at UF, Gainesville) to Chattanooga (Singing Mocs, Chattanooga Singers, First Presbyterian Church Choir) to North Carolina (the Lake Junaluska Singers from the Methodist Assembly). His choirs sang at the White House for Presidents Ford, Reagan, and Clinton. They sang for Prince Philip of Great Britain, on the “Ed Sullivan Show,” as well as international TV and radio shows. They went on lengthy European performing tours. These outstanding productions started early in Glenn’s career: While he served in the Army as a young man, he organized the military’s first choral presentation of Handel’s “Messiah.” And it progressed from there, growing exponentially, with each concert involving sheet music for all the singers and accompanists, as well as tons of photographs.
Lounelle laughed as she told us about Glenn’s vigor for all this, how he even auditioned people in airports for his choruses, as well as one man “on the side of the road” who turned out to be a stellar tenor!
When COVID-19 hit, Lounelle, stuck at home and totally stir crazy, wasn’t thriving on the isolation. She began organizing the hundreds of 8- by 10-inch photos plus CDs and DVDs. She either mailed or delivered them locally to the members of the group; she went just to the door, mind you, to avoid contamination. And as for mailing, she found the Signal Mountain Post Office to be practicing mask wearing and social distancing, so she mailed tons of packages.
She gave most the library of music books and sheet music to Dr. Kevin Ford, UC Foundation professor and director of Musical Activities at UTC and choir director at Second Presbyterian Church. She also gave Glenn’s full collection of Robert Shaw’s Atlanta Symphony Chorale’s CDs and DVDs to a tenor in that group, Tom Hammett.
Still on a roll, Lounelle then organized and culled the four offices, getting them down to three, then two, then just the one at home. His packed filing cabinet included tax returns going back to the 1960s. Lounelle worked steadily, with the Lions’ Club Shred Day back in June as her deadline, and she made it! Now, only the essentials are stashed safely away in the cabinet.
Always active, she managed to get her daily walks even during the height of her purge. She felt inspired to be getting a handle on the situation, as well as making sure her sons Glenn Jr. and Dean wouldn’t have to do it “later.”
Many of us, with our houses stuffed to the brim, need to follow her example! Thanks, Lounelle Draper, for letting us know that a gigantic task such as the one you faced can be accomplished.
The Cleckners’ Smashing Schmear Idea
Three years ago, when Jessie and Paul Cleckner moved into their house on Crown Point West, Jessie wanted to do something to the brick exterior to jazz it up. Time elapsed with no update, however. Then COVID-19 hit and a long at-home summer loomed. Beckoning was the brick exterior project, and Jessie took to Pinterest for ideas. There she found videos on YouTube of DIY aficionados creating the greatest look - German “schmearing” - a lovely way to “age” brick with mortar. You’ve seen this finish on classy looking houses and wondered how the effect was achieved. With their pandemic project completed, the Cleckners know full well, having schmeared with the best of them, and their house is the envy of the neighborhood.
The schmear process involves lots of tile mortar, which the Cleckners made into a slurry of approximately 70/30, mortar to water. Then Paul put the concoction into grout piping bags, similar to bags for squeezing fancy cake frosting onto cakes. He piped the slurry onto the existing mortar and smeared it. They used gardening gloves to smear the mortar, but the fingertips tore and had to be taped back together repeatedly. Jessie said that the process was a lot messier than they’d expected, and that they had to get comfortable with imperfections. The further they went, the messier their presentation became. “We had to embrace the chaos,” Jessie said with a laugh.
How did the parents of three little girls, Eliza (5), Caroline (3), and Annie (18 months), get this job done, what with entertaining, feeding and keeping up with these little darlings? They worked hard for two weeks during the girls’ daily naptime and on weekends. During the Easter holiday, however, in a very intense work session (Jessie says Paul is a 0 mph to 1,000 m.p.h. person, and he was registering 1,000 at the time!), Eliza and Caroline managed to eat an entire bag of jellybeans, undetected!
In addition to the schmearing, Paul installed new stained wooden columns to support the porch, which has great looking furniture in place as well. The effect is dazzling!
The neighbors have been very interested in the transformation, with some wondering if the schmear was a primer with another coat of paint coming next. A realtor stopped by to get the name of the painter who had done the work. Others honked and gave a thumbs-up.
Friends have asked Jessie and Paul if they’d undertake the schmearing job again, and they just can’t decide. The project was very demanding - a “labor of love” - but satisfying as well. Congratulations to the Cleckner family, including Eliza, Caroline, and Annie, for this fantastic home renovation!
A Family Built Pond Brings Tranquility to Pages and Kids
We were alerted by a neighborhood walker that a family on Woodbine had built a marvelous pond in their yard and it would be “a great idea for a story for the Mirror” our buddy urged. When we investigated, we learned it was the Page family, our friend Carolyn and her husband, Jeff, and kids Ben, Chad, Brooke, and Bailee. We went over to see (and hear) the lovely pond and to visit with Jeff and get the scoop.
Like so many families, the Pages turned to yard work after the quarantine descended upon us. A lily of the valley infested flowerbed was the focus when Chad noted that the area was depressed and would make a good place for a pond. Jeff, an outdoorsman and third generation forester (his grandfather started the company Charles R. Page and Associates, with his father, Don, now minding the office, with Jeff at the helm – that is, in the woods.), saw Chad’s idea as a great project to keep the family occupied outside during the long summer. Carolyn, a physical therapist at Erlanger, embraced the idea as well, and, as her contribution to the project, cooked great meals to keep the workers energized.
Chad got busy researching the process, necessary supplies, cost, and requirements for koi to enliven the pond.
The process was plain and simple: dig, dig, dig! Jeff, Chad, Brooke, and Bailee got busy with shovels, picks, and wheelbarrow to transport the dug dirt to the backyard, where they would use it later for a berm for hydrangeas. After two months of digging, when the hole was 9- by 13- by 4-feet deep (dimensions that would hold the volume of water to sustain up to 10 koi), they trimmed the roots to avoid puncturing the 20- by 25-foot rubber liner that would be placed on top of a felt liner that they put over the raw dirt. They placed the rubber liner in the middle of the pond and spread it out, keeping it as flat as possible. The next step was putting pea gravel on the bottom of the pond and on a 4-foot seating area around the pond. Sadly, during these final steps in the process, Chad broke his arm in a skateboarding accident, and Jeff called their neighbor Charlie Winchester over to help finish the work. Charlie had just finished a great project of his own and was happy to pitch in.
Fortunately, through his forestry work, Jeff had access to approximately 500 big river rocks needed to line the sides and edge of the pond. He and Charlie began placing them, “like a giant set of Legos,” in Jeff’s words, alternately, to let gravity do its work. At the higher end of the pond, they built the rocks up to around four feet high to allow for a waterfall to flow from it.
Then, machinery entered this bucolic picture in the form of an electrical filter and pump, a “skimmer box.” The filter keeps the water oxygenated for koi. A 2-inch underground plastic pipe runs from the filter, under the seating area, to the waterfall, which pours water forcefully into the pond with a beautiful rushing sound. The bubbles made when the water hits the surface of the pond generate the oxygen for the koi.
The next step in the process was to install black hardware cloth around the circumference of the pond to keep predators like raccoons from stealing the fish.
Finally, it was time to fill the big hole with water. Jeff located a spring in Dade County, Ga., for the water - fresh with no chlorine - and borrowed a 500-gallon tank to transport it. The pond required 1,000 gallons to fill it and over three hours to pump that amount of water. Waterlilies, Japanese iris, and four lovely koi completed the pond’s look.
Now, Carolyn, Jeff, Ben, Chad, Brooke, and Bailee can enjoy the ambiance of rushing water and splashing koi in their own landlocked front yard. The Page pond is a wonder, a family effort that will forever be a bright memory in the summer of 2020, a summer when COVID-19 kept us close to home and close to family.
by Anne Rittenberry