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Friday, January 28, 2011

"Surrender"

To submit is to be submissive, and that's something a lot of us have been fighting against for centuries. Submit to your parents, spouse, teacher, boss, church, God... We're told to surrender so often, do we even know what our personal will is any more? This can create a lot of unhappiness, but helps society run smoothly, and isn't society more important than any of us mere individuals?

Um, maybe not.

I was talking the other night about Dorothea Davis, "The Sheep Lady". She was one of my personal heroes, and anyone from my neck of the woods remembers her. She inherited a prime piece of property when the area was less developed, and she refused to move along with "progress" when progress absorbed everything around her. The city tried everything to get her to move on, but she fought them in the courts for decades -- and won.

Whatever people might've said about her muddy sheep pulling out the grass, huddling under trees, or wandering into the main street, The Sheep Lady was always called a "lady", and that used to mean something. She was educated, polite, and gracious. She was our librarian, and her lanolin soft hands were beautiful as she wrote out due dates on cards tucked into the backs of our books. She also had a fierce mind, and didn't give in to the powers that be who wanted her messy sheep out of their pristine suburb.

I'll never forget sitting in her kitchen and drinking tea from a fine porcelain cup while a sheep butted its head against my skinny legs, and more sheep pushed through the open doorway. I tried to balance the saucer on the little table and worried about breaking the cup while Dorothea pleasantly discussed my future and the need to follow my talents and interests. I suppose she asked my mother to bring me over because as the librarian, she knew I was different. I took as many books as I was allowed every week, and didn't stay in the children's section. Maybe she knew I was a younger version of herself? If I had a sheep farm, I wouldn't sell it to the city bullies either.

They condemned her house after a fire, and she slept in her car while volunteers rebuilt it for her, minus a fireplace. I wasn't the only one who admired Miss Davis. She died 7 years ago, and people still talk about her with warm affection. Some day I hope I can be remembered with a bit of what Dorothea left in the world. She never surrendered, and lived the life she wanted to live. She died on the land she fought her entire life to protect, surrounded by her woolly friends.

If you have memories of The Sheep Lady, I'd love to hear them!

42 comments:

  1. Amazing illo and thoughtful words...thanks for sharing

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  2. This ram is amazing, especially its horns. And your Sheep Lady seems to have been as strong and belligerent, but friendly as well, as the expression in his face suggests to me.

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  3. I loved that story Linda. I am sure the Sheep Lady would feel so proud that she is still remembered so fondly. A gutsy lady indeed. How wonderful that you spent time with her. Great ram also, he has a twinkle in his eye or am I just imagining things now??
    Have a mellow weekend,
    Jane

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  4. Lovely story! We need more people like that in the world. And LOVELY illustration!

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  5. Beautifully rendered!
    What a wonderful tale about the Sheep Lady- Thanks for sharing your personal account of your friendship with her. How great that she was able to maintain her ground, her flock and her comfort zone. A case of progress surrendering to tradition, in a sweet twist! :o)

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  6. Beautiful in both thought and substance Linda. I'll remember the story about the Sheep Lady now for the rest of my life. This is the type of stuff that empowerment movies are made.

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  7. I think it's interesting that sheep are such gentle animals -- but they have horns. Miss Davis picked her totem properly! I'm glad The Sheep Lady will be remembered. Thanks for all the comments! Have a great weekend everyone!

    @Jane, Yep, that is a twinkle in his eye :)

    Thanks for the follow Suzanne!!

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  8. You have talked about Dorothea Davis for as long as I can remember. I know she always held a special place in your heart. I don't remember her as vividly as you from the library, but you spent a heck of a lot more time there than I did. But no one would ever forget her mark on Willoughby, or for that matter that certain odor on particularly hot summer days. Good write up Lin, thanks for the memories. PS-love the Ram.

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  9. Beautiful illustration, along with a wonderful story!

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  10. Wow! That ram is remarkable Linda! Love the texture and contrasts! Did you do this on scratchboard or it it a painting? Great sheep lady story. Seems every town or county has a "sheep lady” in their history. Wonderful tribute to an amazing life!

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  12. Sorry, excitement causing typo errors.

    Okay, you really must arrange for us to be able to purchase prints. Linda, you are a freak of nature, a genius and you have inhuman brain-eye-hand coordination. This is stunning! This is stunning!!! I must have a print of this illustration. I MUST! Is this pen/ink or colored pencil? graphite, charcoal? What did you use? Oh I love your work. I am head over heels in love with your realistic art. I LOVE THEM!!! I will give you my nuts if you give me your horny animal. Oh wait, that did not come out right. Seriously, can we do an exchange?

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  13. Thanks everybody!

    @Mary Lou, okay, I do remember a certain scent on Euclid Avenue on hot days, but hey, I was willing to make a few sacrifices with Dorothea!

    @Jack, I did this one is pen and ink. Lots and lots of little lines with a Rapidiograph.

    @Ces, I'm going to hire you to promote my work!

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  14. What a great story!

    And WHOA! That is the most awesome ram I have ever seen! The texture of the fur and the horns, the glassy eye and the leathery nose... incredible work!

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  15. Beautiful illustration and interesting story of a great character.

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  16. Splendiferous! Always remarkable work, and an inspiring story as well!

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  17. no, I of course never knew her, but the story is sad and happy. Your care in making your piece shows your caring for her. I'm sure she would have been flattered.

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  18. What a handsome fellow, & I wish I had known Dorothea. She sounds like a great mentor.

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  19. Dorothea was my role model for my planned eccentricity in my old age. I'm glad she's getting remembered. Thanks for the comments!

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  20. Wow what a lovely inspiring story and take on the word Surrender! Wonderful beautiful Ram -such dignity.

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  21. Thanks Di, and thanks for the follow too!

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  22. They don't make them like Dorothea any more!

    It looks like your handsome ram is having a moment of silence for his old friend.

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  23. Heidi, I like the idea of the ram's moment of silence. Thanks!

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  24. Gorgeous! Your banner should read, "illustration, Design, and Writing". Your writing is as wonderful as your art.

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  25. Linda..beautiful illustration and such a great post about the Sheep Lady. What a strong woman she was. It is amazing to hear of your recollection of her and to see such a fine illustration paired with it is simply top-notch.

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  26. Exquisite illustration...well done!

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  27. Thanks everybody! And thanks for the follow Shirley!!

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  28. Thanks Barbara! Thanks for the follow Leslie!!

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  29. We all need a Dorothea in our lives - thank you for sharing yours. What an amazing strong woman. Beautifully written and moving post! Love the illustration!

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  30. Heisann!

    Wonderful reading, Linda!

    Please, read my post showing my Lady's sheep.
    Carol is a colleague, and does not surrender! Her life has been hard! She is a wonderful woman ;:OD)

    Nice drawing, too ;:OD)

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  31. Thanks, thanks, thanks! All these happy comments make me think about getting out those rapidiographs again. Uh, maybe? lol

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  32. Beautiful artwork and a beautiful story. I never knew anyone like that. The closest we had when I was growing up was a man who owned a lot of undeveloped land, and left a shack here, or a model T there for people to find when they were walking through the woods. Once in the middle of winter I walked with a friend and we came across one of the shacks. We went inside and opened a drawer in an ancient rotting dresser to find it seething with clustering bees. (Thank God it was winter!) I suppose he was the Bee Lord - maybe he knew your Sheep Lady ;)

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  33. Tony, that's a great way to stop trespassers! Did you get any honey out of it? I think we all have stories, even if we have to borrow them from people we've met. It's been fun for me to remember people on this blog, and I'm glad there are people who like to read about them. Thanks for all the comments!

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  34. I used to live in Ohio, and remember the Sheep Lady very well. I lived just a few blocks away in downtown Willoughby. Now, her lifestory would be an interewsting read, I am sure. Hey, any movie makers need some inspiriation, here it is! :)

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