Thanksgiving Week – A Good One

Our son, Patrick, came down for a week and one of his jobs at Thanksgiving is to help me get another unusual Christmas tree put in place. This year we featured all the reindeer of my iron animal collection.

And even the next morning it still looked okay to us.

Now I am waiting for an order of batteries to come so they candles can light up. Remember when we used matches, wicks and wax?

Also I am going to show the drawings a day with haiku before some pictures of my new project.

From the oven comes

The Second Best Malt Cookies

I Have Ever Had.


I think this is a

sweet potato but maybe

it could be a yam.


I was told that these

nests of pasta hold their shape

while boiling – Nonsense!


I pulled my pasta

back into a nest before

piling on the sauce.


Some Turkish coffees

are not as good as those with

extra cardamom.


These woven strainers

make teas taste much more

like they’re supposed to.

Only the nests of

partridges remain in our

pear-filled Christmas tree.


Reindeer are coming.

Some on rockers to gather

near the Christmas tree.

And now for the new project! I really like doing these drawings a day and wanted to do some more work like this. And since I brought my watercolors upstairs from the studio to make white line Christmas cards I needed to find something more to paint.

So down in the studio I found this perfect book made by Lorraine O’Brien from Australia. I bought it from her when she was a student at Halls Gap a couple of years ago. It is simply gorgeous and packed full of contact prints of Eucalyptus leaves….lots of accordion bound pages. Here is the outside cover.

And here is what I am doing. It was inspired by an artist that I saw on facebook who was painting butterflies into her contact prints. I wish I had saved her name. And it is similar to what I was doing a few years ago when I drew into the marks of my books about Lost Time and Down the Rabbit Hole.


I gathered up all my Nature guide books to fill the pages with only the animals, birds and insects that we have here where I live.

Here on page one is a song sparrow, convergent lady bug and on the next page a woolly bear caterpillar.

I have drawn in very loosely for several pages so I can keep on painting. Some of them will take lots of time to do.

Next pages have a screech owl peeking out of what could be a split in a tree and a field mouse down below. Opposite is a caterpillar and chrysalis.

After that a white tail deer and squirrel. And next will have a large Imperial Moth spreading its wings in the center fold.

Those little triangle shapes at the bottom of the pages are actually folded up pockets. Much as I look at it, I can not figure out how Lorraine got those pockets there! But I will use them to put a bit of information on whatever is painted on that page. Isn’t this a great idea? It is going to keep me busy and smiling all winter and I can do it all while sitting with Lee upstairs.

I ordered some new watercolors the other day. Over eighty dollars for just six tubes of Daniel Smith Extra Fine ones….luscious colors.

Thank you, Lorraine, for this wonderful book and thank you for all the kindnesses via emails/messages during some difficult times here. I will miss you all so much this next year at Halls Gap.

Lee got to spend lots of time with Patrick in his work shop and I had several hours of reading, painting, drawing and cooking up some pretty good meals.

And last week Lee and I went to see a movie. The Good Liar. I have to say it is one of the best stories I have ever seen. The acting superb simply because it is Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen. If you have not seen it, treat yourself. The movie stays with you.

And tomorrow we are off to see Knives Out. Also a good “escape your real world” movie.

We did notice that we don’t eat the popcorn we used to. Last time and all the times before a very big box of popcorn, extra butter and we had it gone before the previews finished. We brought it home from the theater and called it dinner after pouring a bit of wine to go with it. Tomorrow we will forget the extra butter and come down one size in boxes.

I am avoiding reading a lengthy article on Knives Out that is in the New Yorker until after I see the movie. I’ll let you know how it is.

Not much else new…just a very good week and grateful to have Patrick here to let me have some time alone.

Til later.

Another Week Goes By

I like this piece of prints, fabrics, and stitches. Fragmented like my days. Trying to keep it all together just so I can say, “Okay, there goes another day with nothing bad happening, nothing new going on, nothing, just nothing.” It is so much easier when I know there is going to be nothing that I need to add to the routine of sameness. An occasional delivery from Amazon is a high point. A hand written letter rates almost at the top. Going to bed is a relief knowing I will have close to eight hours of hilarious adventures via my dreams and be worry free for that length of time.

Last week two delicious looking quiches went into the freezer.

This week four new pans of lasagna and one meat loaf. Tomorrow we make more cookies, more of those Second Best Malted Cookie I Ever Ate cookies. And Lee’s favorite cranberry relish.

I got more stitching done while watching the impeachment hearings. The jabs of the needle were aimed not only at the cloth bits but those galling members who are so firmly ensconced in Trump land. I wonder sometimes if we will ever return to truth and decency. Certainly not while he still holds the power bestowed on him by a gullible public so easily maneuvered by him and his Russian counterpart.

But aside from the hearings this week I did my daily drawings and haiku.

Sugar and creamer

that fit perfectly in your

palm before pouring.


If you only want

a “spot” of tea then this is

the best mug to choose.


Leave your glasses off.

You will see the softer side

of those before you.


I heard that warriors

carried nourishment in this.

So I now own it.


It used to serve milk,

but now used exclusively

to pour hot gravy.


This cruet came out

of the cupboard only once.

It was not useful.


Threads stay in bundles

waiting to be licked into

the eyes of needles.


Tiny scissors make

it difficult to control

the cutting of scraps.


So those entries are up to date with this morning. I had a hair appointment today and Lee got his pedicure. I told my girl to just trim it and give it all a squeeze. Don’t comb it. Much easier to manage with finger flipping through. Lee’s girl just keeps him amused and comfortable while she tends to the feet that remind her of her grandfather’s. I love that she does that. Next month when I go in for a trim, he will have her give him a body massage. He likes this young woman. So do I.

Our son arrives in a couple of days to spend Thanksgiving week with us. Just the three of us will be nice. I will have a bit of time to get in the studio to frame some of the newly stitched works and continue with filling in my “responsibility hands”. Lee has lost a bit of awareness this past month and I need to record it and draw another outline of my hand….it will be the fifth one.

I also have a book to read and maybe an outing all by myself to see a movie.

It is a dreary day today but I think a good one for us. Leftovers for dinner and a scotch beforehand is in order.

Til later.

A Good Week

It has been a good few days here. The cold weather has brought down almost all the leaves. Now Lee will have something to use his leaf blower on. He is now into his winter sweaters instead of just the same two sweatshirts. He has found his shoes with ties and insist on wearing them…even though they come undone often. And he was downright congenial and full of conversation…although disconnected….the other night when friends came for dinner.

I have been keeping up with the drawing a day with haiku. See the following for proof.

Holiday candles

quietly wait in drawers

for entire years.


I bought this strange pot

because of its crackled glaze

of pale celedon.


Can you imagine

a more fun place to poke your

sharp pins and needles?


Lee made the wood bowl.

I gathered honeysuckle.

Thirty yeas ago.


Found in the bottom

of a drawer waiting in

service to hors d’oeuvres.


Pieces of fabric

are patched into place around

a print on paper.


We remain wingless

until brought to the table

to hold napkins.


It is hard not to

purchase something perfectly

charming and useless.


These were fun to do and I think my drawing is getting better. Curved lines off to the right still give me problems and make me grateful for the eraser. I suppose it is the reverse for left handed drawers.

Some of the pieces I drew this week reminded me of the dinner parties we no longer have. I really could get rid of a lot of things that are saved for the occasions of having people over. It is sad how we get attached to objects because of their history and not because we are going to give them much of a future.

I did have a visitor this week. She took my earth pigments class eight years ago. Went home to make several oil paints and now is part of an exhibit at the Asheville Art Museum. Amanda Brazier. She and her husband came down to the studio and loved looking at work and hearing stories. She has agreed to take all of my earth pigments processing materials when I give it up for good. In the meantime I will still teach private students here. But I love knowing that it will all go to someone so young and enthusiastic.

I need to find more Amandas for other bits and pieces…..fabrics, papers, studio equipment, etc…..but not right now.

Not much else new. Tomorrow Lee will help me make a freezer full of chili and some quiches. Cooking days are fun and make me feel like I am making progress.

Til later.


Another Week of Observing

It is turning colder. I got out my felted blanket from Bridgett in Hobart, Tasmania. Both cats love to curl up on it together.  I have to gently move them over to get under it. Lovely feel and memories of down under. Sadie is always first to be on it.

I have been getting my drawings a day done on time with the haiku. Here are the latest ones that are in my newly made journals.

A magical tool

can cleverly carve the light

on all our edges.


More tools are needed

for carving and printing some

white line Christmas cards.

I have about fifteen printed so far. I can do this upstairs on the dining room table. Funny how I thought ALL printmaking must take place in the studio. Times change.

And more drawings a day.

An apple a day

is supposed to do something.

Mine doesn’t want to.


The dark chocolates

are said to be good for you.

I am listening.


The only plant here

sits in the kitchen window

hoping I notice.


Why do we hold on

to the dried up remains of

brittle memories?

When I finish up here I will go back upstairs and work on today’s drawing and print more Christmas cards. Not that many more to go now.

I went over to Andy’s house today just to see how it was doing and tell it that he was not coming back. It was hard seeing shoes he had just stepped out of, his bike all ready for a go around these hills, the table laid out with mats and napkins ready for company coming to have one of his wonderful meals….. I opened the glasses cupboard just to touch a wine glass that for so many years I drank from, even before Andy took the house over from his mother, Barbara.

She and I shared so many white wines in that house. We thought we were having the best of the best (reasonably priced) white wines from Australia. She shared my love for the country and we would buy any bottle that had a kangaroo on the label. Later ones with penguins. Really all it had to say was “Australia” somewhere on the label and we would give it a go. One of our favorites back then was Alice White. Silhouette of a lone kangaroo against a bright background. That was the front. On the back was the sad travails of poor Alice, who was suffering with amnesia and found herself in the company of Nick. Each year was a continuation of their saga. The last label that I remember about Alice was something like this, Nick had been attacked by a giant crocodile and Alice knew how to patch his wounds…..”could I have been a nurse in my previous life?”, she asks herself. Good marketing to say the least. 19 Crimes can market even better and I think their wine is better than Alice White. It certainly cost more if that is any indication.

I think I would like some of my ashes placed near Barbara’s and a bottle of 19 Crimes Sauvignon Block dug in nearby. She didn’t live long enough to try any of those wines and would have loved the adventure.

Anyway a cleaning lady will come and take care of what needs to be done in the house and a yard man will blow the leaves off the driveway. Andy’s lawyer has been in touch and I am to forward expenses that I will handle on to him.  Andy’s love and partner will arrive when she can bear to return to his magical place so full of memories. I might dig that bottle of white in while she is here so Barbara can start without me.

I saw this at the feed store and wonder about cowboys. Recently I bought the series Deadwood just to have some cowboys around. I miss the western movies that are not made any more. A recent series called, Yellowstone, with Kevin Costner has a supporting cast of not so much cowboys as former druggies on horseback. It is simply bad casting. They should have checked out Deadwood if they wanted actors that can look and act the part. But here is what I saw at the feed store and it made me wonder if cowboys are drawn to the Bible if it is an easy read version.

We used to have a church near here…a storefront actually….that was called the Cowboy Church. Lots of black painted plywood ranch hand silhouettes leaning against the outside walls and hitching posts. And on the marquee out front it said, “Rounding Up Souls for Jesus”. There were actually cars in the lot on Sundays. Maybe these were left over bibles from there. A man we knew that came from Europe and rented our apartment when he took classes locally went there once and reported back that all they did was rant and rave against gay people. That was all before the wrenchingly sad tale by Annie Proulx called, Brokeback Mountain. After the cowboys left and took the plywood characters with them, it became another church and then a perpetual flea market of nasty things left in the rain.

Speaking of cowboys our neighbor’s dog came over on Halloween with his costume of a bucking cowboy hanging on for dear life.

Cute. Extra treats for staying still long enough to get this picture.

More later.