Making Books and Other Things

It is late October and with the past few days full of rain and now wind there will be few leaves left on the trees. It has been a short fall. Down to freezing tonight. It will be easier to keep an eye on Lee if he is inside.

This week we had an interview with a woman who would come to take him out for lunch or a movie or just a ride so I could get back in the studio and do something that would take more than just a few minutes. After she left he simply said, “No.” And much as I had hoped this would be a good thing I soon came to realize that it was not a good idea. What if she took him to a movie and in the dark the music got loud or he had to go to the restroom or wondered who she was. It is not worth it to put stress on him now.

Yesterday I had a student here working in the studio. I could continue to check on Lee who was upstairs. When I came up he was confused and asked how my mother was doing downstairs. She died about thirty years ago. When I was helping him get down for a nap he asked who I was. I told him and then he asked, “Do you sleep in this bed with me?” I said I did but way, way on the other side. He apologized for not understanding who I was and I told him after his nap he would remember. And he did. But I think we are entering a new phase of his dementia.

If I say some silly nonsensical thing he will laugh and then not so confused. Talking about the weather is always something to chat about over and over. Old men like talking about weather. Weather is a memory jogging subject. Today we went out to meet our friend for lunch at the brewery and he knew who we all were. He likes his porter beer with half a sandwich and both his and my servings of coleslaw. He gives me the chocolate coated pretzel they place on a stick across the top of his glass of beer. We keep to the routines we know.

I have my drawing a day which gets done with the haiku each day. Yesterday with my student, Kent, here I even got to start a carved block to print our Christmas cards. All in all a good few days.

Here are the last of Octobers’ drawings a day.

This small dried up pod

had such hopes of becoming

something much greater.

Two pottery cups

sit in anticipation

of some ginger wine.

The leaf remembers

a life it never should have

expected to last.

Scissors can sever

old ties or open bundled


A cat toy is the

physical evidence of

some very tough love.


I have noticed how these drawings and haikus reflect my moods of the time.

So that was October and because I want to continue with this I made three more sketch journals.

They are covered with the backed fabric of worn out linen pants. It was close in color to the Milini journal I used for October and could not find on Amazon….only available in Australia.

I used a marbled paper that I have been saving forever to make the end pages.

The new journals are just a bit bigger than the October one because the inspiration was upstairs and the papers and book board and worn linen pants were downstairs. I located an old leather purse that I bought in Florence, Italy to hold the pad for writing haiku, the sketch journal, hand made water colors, pencil, pen and brush.

I am looking forward to using them starting tomorrow.

Another thing I did today was head out to the liquor store. Yesterday I was informed that the incredibly stupid president that now sits in office is tariffing foreign goods. Among them Italian cheeses and scotch because it comes from Scotland. Fearing that the shelves might be getting low we made that our first stop. There was plenty of scotch there. I relieved them of four bottles of single malt between 10 and 12 years of age. I might just live in bourbon country or no one bothered to check to see if this was indeed true that tariffs were on the way….as early as November 1st.

I could not be more ready…sketchbooks and scotch.

Til later.

This Is A Good News Blog

Halloween is coming. Today is our fifty-second anniversary. I finished my six-way book. This fun card came yesterday from the one member of the Art Group that stays in touch. Love it. Our doctor came for dinner last night and had some suggestions.

So I left off talking about the pages for the six way book. Then it went together under the supervision of Gian Frontini. Here are the stages.

The two larger books facing opposite directions and I added running stitches to the spines of each to give more texture to match the fore edges.

The top view.

Four smaller books glued to the stabilizing boards on each back of larger books.

Gian shaping the spine edges of the four cover pieces.

And sanding them.

While I picked out cover material and made six clasps and cords.

Gian recessed vellum loops for clasps into the covers.


Nice fit.

Bit of fiddling to get the right length of cord to close the book…put in press and done!



Here is Gian’s leather book that works the same way.

Gian is much more the traditionalist than I am. He would never hammer the edges of the covers to make the book look and feel more comfortable in the hand. I like doing that. Makes me want to pick a book up and hold it.

So now what to do with my book.  The thought came after an old friend called me after she read my novella, Kind Gestures. At first she thought it was a group of short essays on seven different women and had just read the first part. Then she copied the whole thing off and read the story. She told me to keep writing because she loved it. It reminded her of a favorite book of hers titled, The Road to St. Ives, now out of print. BUT she was so kind to call back a bit later to tell me she found one on Amazon used books and it is on the way to me. Isn’t that kind?  I decided that since I have been wanting to return to Oliver, NC where the fictional account takes place and revisit some of those women, I will use this six way book to write about some of them. Just phrases to get me back to writing, to getting into their heads. And more importantly getting me out of my own head! And I really like that each of them has their own personal diary that latches their thinking in secret places.

So that is how I will use my book. Will I ever make another? Doubtful. Tedious work and especially since it was originally designed for six separate prayers that I would be hard put to come up with, I am satisfied with this one off.

And speaking of writing, the haiku has continued. A friend in Australia told us about haiga, the Japanese practice of writing haiku and doing small related illustrations.  Which is what the six of us are doing with our Drawing A Day and Haiku.

Here is the latest of mine.

How can you claim that

“They are light as a feather,”

when some are grounded?


They march across time

and distance only to be

trapped in my journal.

We believe we see

ourselves in most everything

that crosses our path.

The stones are dressed up

waiting to be told where to

push their weight around.

The pens and pencils

wait in the company of

a blank paper pad.

Three restless chickens

wandered off to the sea shore.

They came back impressed.

Cooking starts with a

mirepoix of onions, carrots

and some celery.


And yesterday….


A book that opens

six ways can inspire me for

several stories.


Now I am off to bake more of those Second Best Malted Cookies I Ever Ate and do another drawing….maybe the cookies.

Tomorrow someone from the doctor’s office will call about being a rent-a-friend. Just a couple times a week for a couple of hours would be so helpful right now for both of us.

More later. But thanks Gwen for the encouragement on writing more, and Dick for keeping us smiling.


More of the Drawing a Day and Other Things

My sunflowers are drooping while I am trying not to.

I love getting flowers from the sale table at the grocery store. I can just stick them into some water, put them on the table and hope that someone stops by. This week we did have a friend come for a good visit over dinner. We miss that. It was the one thing that made a perfect ending to our Art Group meetings….dinner and conversation around the table. I would pick out funny, arty cocktail napkins, plan a mostly delicious meal, set the table with real cloth napkins that have been used by so many over as many years, and make the centerpiece for the table. We’d talk about politics, art, movies, books, trips…..whatever. And often when other friends were in town, they, too, would come for these Art Group dinners.

Other than one member of Art Group that stays in contact through facebook, I have not heard a word from the others. When something is over, it is really over. So when someone comes for dinner with Lee and I, it is so good to have a few minutes in the studio to talk about what we as artists and makers are doing now.

This week I spent several  days preparing pages for a book that will open six different ways.

I am using Thai kozo paper for four of the smaller signatures and mulberry for the two larger signatures. Because both are so absorbent I had to gesso all sides.  So two text blocks of sixteen folios each and four text blocks of eighteen folios each coated on all sides used up quite a bit of gesso. But now I can write, draw and/or paint on the pages without bleed. My friend from Canada who is an expert on Medieval bindings will come to the studio this week to show me how to put it all together.

I am contemplating on what to use for cover material…more later when I have it finished.

In the meantime I am really enjoying the drawing a day with Haiku. Here is the catch up on that.

The stones just sit there.

Taken away from their homes

they  have gone silent.


Potters will always

sell their pieces that look back.

I know this because…..

I’m not a dancer.

But with these shoes on my feet

I can change my mind.


My pins and needles

wait for cloth, thread and my thoughts

to come together.

Ask if there are more

and the clerk will bring out all

the close relatives.

So now I have another page done on the flip side of the “relatives” and will post when I get further into the book.

I need to get back to the Hands of Responsibility sketchbook. Lee is losing a bit more of his capabilities since I last drew in it. He can not tell which way to turn the handle on the faucet to get hot water and I find him waiting and waiting for the water to heat up. This morning I fed the deer and birds for him as he gets confused as to where the cans of feed are in the garage.

On Friday we went to the salon where I get my hair done and he either gets a pedicure or full body massage. It was his massage day and he seems so relaxed and smiling when I go back to pick him up. The masseuse is wonderful with him because she says he reminds her of her grandfather. I am so lucky to have her do this for him.

My friend from far away suggested I ask around about getting someone to take him out for a bit…..she called it “rent a friend”. I may check on that this week. I keep saying that, but if I am the only one who can help him get words out, how is that going to work?

Our dear friend, Andy, who passed away suddenly a few weeks ago was the only one to think of doing this. He would come by to take Lee out to lunch after a hardware stop. He would take a good stab at what Lee would like to eat knowing that Lee can not read menus, and Lee would later try to tell me all about his time out. The other thing Andy did for us was go to Costco and get whatever we needed. He would let us know when he was coming to town and ask that we email him a list. But now we have used the last of those wonderful immense packages of toilet paper that come from there, the last Starbucks coffee beans, the last case of tomato sauce, the last lamb chops, the last four packs of butter sticks, the last, the last. We miss him and are getting over the sadness and onto smiling at memories.

His partner reads my poetry book and does find comfort there. Makes me glad I took the time to put that book together. I would also like some time to go back to the imaginary town of Oliver, North Carolina that is central to the novella I wrote that is on my website under its title, Kind Gestures. I feel I left some of those women with so much more to tell me….maybe later when more free time comes easily.

We will be just fine.

Til later…


Drawing, Haiku and Kitchen

Since I last posted on this blog about my drawings a day plus haiku, I have done more.

The old stone lantern

is waiting for a reason

to show me the way.


I am making blue

from the great sea of sadness.

It has me smiling.

Is there anything

more inviting to the touch

than a sleeping cat?


Lean on each other.

The slightest touch and you know

to keep on going.

The spoon stirs the pot

of everything we will need

to feel satisfied.


He holds his arms up

begging me to release him

from expectations.

That last one is a piece of pottery that separates in the middle and is a container. When I bought if from a friend I told him I was going to put slips of paper with everything I wanted a good man to be written on them. Of course it was perfect to inspire this drawing and haiku.

Today Lee watched me prepare meals for the freezer. The other day he chopped onions for me….today he seemed uninterested in helping with that but liked tying up the garbage bag and taking it out to the garage. Each day it is different with what he wants to do. He seems sadder lately. The other day we both had a good cry…he because he realized after trying several times, that he can no longer sign his name. Me, because of everything else. We solved it by blowing our noses and having a drink on the porch with memories of better times.

So back to today.

Roasted butternut squash and pumpkin.

Pans of lasagna.

Roasted onions to add to soups, etc.

And pumpkin seeds.

A catch up on collecting tears. They dry up in the vials before you can get enough to work with. They are a bit cloudy, not the clearness I had hoped for. All that is really left in there is a thin layer of dustiness…nothing close to the amount of sadness felt….no evidence of that at all. But I still love the idea of that physical evidence of grief. A mascara smudged tissue just is not the same. Maybe some day I will be able to put into words what didn’t stay in the vial. Maybe.

A friend of a neighbor came to the studio yesterday. I loved her interest in what I had been doing since the last time she was here about six months ago. It felt good to talk with someone who is interested and really listens. It made me want to start making again but right now just is not the best time.

I need to find that “paid for friend” who will come and give me some time alone. I might call our doctor this week and get some suggestions on how best to get through this next phase.

Til later.