Four More Days Gone By

This is the full moon the other morning when I was feeding the deer and birds.  I love watching this dogwood right outside the window. It was a lovely morning and now it has turned a bit cold with the wind. Lee is outside with his watcher sorting out the wood he is determined to burn. He needs a sense of order and I need him to stay busy in the fresh air so that he sleeps through the nights.

We order meals out when we can and this chowder from Epic Catering hit the spot the other night. And yes, that is crushed ice in my Yellow Tail chardonnay….it makes it last longer.

I don’t mind this social distancing so much. Perhaps because I might have not been that social in the first place. At least not any more. We had great dinner parties on the porch but they are so much work for us now and Lee would be very confused. Good memories though and every so often I can hear them chattering away with the sound of clinking glasses when I am sitting alone on the porch with the birds and my own wine glass.

I repainted all the furniture this week and bought some plants to freshen it all up. No one is coming. It is just Lee, me, Sadie and Patches. Which is enough. Even though lately Lee is asking where “the other people” have gone.

A friend from Australia asked if that was “The Spirits Bar”. The place where we came up with the story of those who have passed and where we have them come back for another drink. The ones we miss the most are in the book with their favorite drinks. Sadly the book could be longer now.  Some day we could just be drinking with old friends that left too soon and not bother coming back to here. Just a thought, not serious. But probably a good idea of heaven.

Lee and his watcher just came in. She will keep him upstairs watching TV or going over his memory book. Funny how that is what we have now, memories of how things used to be. This isolation due to the corona virus has all of us reliving the past.

I threaded a needle this morning and am adding more stitch lines to a shirt that started out months ago with patches over spill marks. Holding the cloth in my hands and trying to find the rhythm of even stitches is so soothing. It is like drawing –  comforting, necessary.

And here are the last four days of Drawings a Day.

Wine glasses made from

the top half of wine bottles

and exotic woods.


My single malt glass –

a frosted sauvignon blanc

wine bottle – well used.


Here is where those glasses are made….so many more waiting to be finished.



It is now Springtime

brought to you by the dogwood

blooms amid birdsong.


A hydrangea shrub

has lovely bursts of flowers

amid bright green leaves.


I will go outside to pick fresh subject matter for a while to put into the drawing book.

And the challenge of making a couple of different bindings a month still goes on. I just don’t make a book without trying to shape it around an idea. I am thinking something that moves….something more than a flip book…..something more like a moving narrative across a screen. I will need to do some more thinking about that.

In the meantime my Bush Books are still waiting for me to concentrate and get all the pages cut exactly and then glued exactly and then folded exactly and then covered. I keep putting that off and am greatly relieved that I did not order twenty books of pages to do and stayed with just ten.

I try to watch television with Lee while we are stuck at home and have noticed that there are more preachers praying for us on paid for commercial time, more self help therapists, more exercise program commercials, no Viking tour or travel ads, fewer pharmaceutical ads. And absolutely no fast food restaurant ads. We are going to be in a whole new place when this ends.

We are doing conference calls with our kids and a friend, all stuck in Michigan and working from home. Sunday morning we all have coffee together. Wednesday nights we have a drink of choice together. It is sort of fun to meet up that way. Certainly would love to see them in person but not possible.

Not much else new. I am trying to get back to writing. The pads and pens wait over at the apartment, but it is not easy right now.

I can avoid going to the grocery store til the end of the month. I have a mask all ready. Lee stays in the car, I run in and put the things I have touched into the cart, bag my own groceries, load the car and wipe them down when I get home…that last part I forget to do sometimes, but need to remember to do it.

That’s it. Enough for now. Til later.



Beautiful Spring Days of Social Distancing

I decided to paint the porch furniture today. The paint from a few years ago is still good. I think I was better at this when I did it last. But such an improvement having fresh paint on the chairs and stools and benches. My back got tired so I will do the touch up tomorrow.

At home I am working on the drawings a day….here is the catch up on those.

I thought I was through

finding wine stoppers down deep.

But no! April Fools!


The very last one.

A honeybee on his hive

for just the sweet wines.


Did I draw this clay

ramekin sometime before

in another book?


Just salad dressings

get mixed in this pottery

jug with its own whisk.


Some cups for Baileys

alcoholic cream mixes

come in “Yours” and “Mine”.


This is my Arrowmont mug.

Each sip brings back memories

of the best of times.


And here are some of the latest wildflowers in the six way book.

Blue eyed grass and Bluets.

Trumpet vine and kudzu.

I am trying to keep my watercolors light but that is going to take much more practice. The darn graphite from my original drawing shows up and then I try to darken the edges. I think it would just be prudent to get a much lighter graphite pencil. I can’t erase on the graphite…it just makes a smudge and then I have to add another leaf to cover the smudge. There are so many pages left in just this one section but I do enjoy drawing and painting these bits of blooms and their leaves.

While we are staying home and I am avoiding going to the store, the cooking gets more creative. With Lee’s dementia, he is satisfied with everything put before him.

I think I found someone to come help with the yard work today. It will be a few weeks before he can be here but that is fine with me. I just need someone to show up. Two hundred bags of pine bark mulch will arrive with fifty bales of pine straw next week. I want to cover all of Lee’s garden beds and the side yard.  He does not know how to operate the weeder eater nor the blower anymore. Now he just wants to sort and stack rocks and branches that he pulls from the woods. Today he wanted to know if he could burn the pile. I told him that all burning has been outlawed for now. He seemed surprised but accepted it as fact. One does not want to hand matches over to an elderly man with dementia and a very big desire to burn something.

This past few days he has been perfectly happy to have me feed his deer and birds. Before that I would load his two buckets  and then he would walk around below the dining room window where I would say, “Put one down. Take the other one and throw handfuls out toward the bushes.” “No, handfuls, not the whole bucket.” “Now do the other bucket the same way, handfuls only.” “Now take both buckets and walk down a ways and throw each bucketful into the air.”

Those exact words over and over and over. Bur more recently I would wait at the window and then find him just standing with the buckets still in the garage. I’d remind him what to do and we’d start again. Now I just tell him it is too cold for him to go out there or say he needs to finish his breakfast so I will do it. He seems happy that I have taken over that chore as well. It only takes a few minutes and then he can take up his spot by the window to watch to see who comes in first to feed.

And I have had the great pleasure of working with one of my students in Australia on her book about days spent in Antarctica. She says it is like I am in the room with her. We have spent many workshops together so I know not only what she wants to say but also how she wants to say it.  I really love how much research that particular group of students do when they get into their projects. I end up so much more  informed on the most amazing things. I am so happy that we have stayed in touch and share our stories with each other.

Not much else new here. It is the same thing almost each day. Tomorrow I might just go to the woods and pick the biggest bunch of dogwood bloom branches and put them in a massive vase on the table.

Lee and I used to do that for our elderly friend in Michigan when we went north to visit her and our kids. We’d stop in Tennessee on the side of the road, gather bunches of dogwood to put in a cooler, just to take them to her and see the look on her face….pure joy. When our kids were little I would take them for walks down the country road and gather wildflowers of all sorts just to put in a box with some plastic bags of water around their stems and mail them to my mother in Florida. It was the one thing she missed when they moved south…..the wildflowers along country roads.  I am sure they were half dead when they arrived but she’d put them in a vase anyway. For my father I would enclose a bag of those super cheap Brach’s chocolate cremes, and they would arrive all melted together. He liked that because he knew he could get a big hunk of sugar and chocolate and not just one piece.

So it’s hereditary, I like chocolate and wildflowers.

More later.

Just Catching Up on Lee

He is outside re-stacking his rocks. The squirrels knock them down to get to the seed that gets scattered underneath. Sometimes I put it there on purpose just to give him something to do later in the day.

When he is not outside he watches.

The caregiver asked if I had a memory book for Lee so she could strike up conversations based on the pictures. I had been saving photos for a while to do just that and had the time yesterday to make the book.

This should help both of them.

And today I finished the fifth Responsibility hand.

He can’t make toast, puts his pill in the water instead of his mouth, gets his gloves confused, cuts with the back side of the knife, squirts toothpaste all over, sometimes can’t figure out the seat belt,can’t remember where the mailbox is, has problems with the velcro straps on his shoes, uses his electric shaver to trim over his ears, piles an enormous amount of pasta on his fork and needs help putting salve on his itches.

I have the next hand outlined and ready to go.

But we get through it all. My paid for friends come three times a week to keep him company and give me a break which is greatly appreciated. Still navigating the long term care insurance policy to receive reimbursement of the layout for this help. It is a good thing we can do this now and afford to wait for the process to finish up.

One thing that really is such a surprise is the occasional card or kind word via email or facebook. Yesterday this came from Minnesota with words of support for doing this blog. And inside this little pack of wildflower seeds! How thoughtful, how very nice….thank you.

And this morning, Saturday, the once a week hair wash, I looked in the mirror to see if I was looking any more adrift than usual. I am doing fine in this time of staying home. I got enough groceries the other day to take us through the month and beyond. I even bought some ferns for the porch and a bit of basil to go with the lettuce.

So I took a picture to post here of what I see in the unforgiving mirror each morning.

We are fine.

Tomorrow or the day after I will post the drawings and paintings. This one was for those asking about Lee. Thank you for thinking of us.

Keeping Social Distances

This morning I took all the ripe bananas that had been sliced and frozen and put the first batch in parcels back in the freezer. I need these for the morning smoothies I have almost daily. I am trying to keep with my routines as much as possible in the times of the virus.

While in the freezer I noticed some things that had been there for quite awhile. Things like green beans, peas, etc. Then I looked into the pantry and refrigerator. More things. Extra cartons of beef stock….why do I even have that? Only one chicken stock that I use regularly. Found some canned beans, a very old can of beef consomme, diced tomatoes and a jar of stewed tomatoes our daughter gave us at Christmas time. So I took a mirepoix of celery, carrots and onions and added some peas and chopped up the green beans. Tossed in some diced tomatoes, can of tomato sauce, cannellini beans and let it simmer with the consomme and beef stock. The peas floated to the top like the styrofoam they tasted like and the beans still looked like they were frozen. Those beans were the tipping point. I cooked them all a bit longer and then took the blender tool to them. You could still taste the bits of strings left by the beans that almost clogged the whizzer part of the tool….but I persevered until every last one of those peas and beans became part of the sludgy mix.

Far and away the ugliest soup I ever made. Any herb and seasoning mix in the cupboard was added to “pick up” the flavor. Originally I was going to add rice to it, but changed my mind when I saw elbow macaroni in the pantry. Why that was there I do not know. I thought I had a more refined taste when it comes to pastas. AND the elbow macaroni was made from semolina flour. Who eats that?! But I cooked the elbows separately in boiling water and just before they got too mushy, I added them to the soup. Then because it all looked a bit weird, I put in a pint of the stewed tomatoes. At least now there was something floating around….well sort of floating.

It was to be our lunch. In better times I might have considered tossing it out right before I put the stewed tomatoes in. But more salt, pepper, a little chili powder, more soup herbs and I thought, “Why not eat it?” I served up a bowl for Lee and he asked for more. I ate my own bowl of it and after the eighth spoonful it wasn’t bad. So now I have three large containers of it in the refrigerator waiting for me to find more room in the freezer. We can do this.

In the past several days I have made my way through trimming some of the one hundred and fifty sheets of the bush book from the printers. Each page needs to be cut precisely on four sides. I need to pay careful attention when I do it so it is only done when Lee is with his caretaker.

I am also keeping up on the drawings a day with haiku. It appears that we have acquired an unbelievable amount of wine stoppers.

This stopper looks more

like a carnival game that

catches small marbles.


This pointy stopper

must be Russian cause it hurts

when pushed back on” Reds”.


This heavy stopper

is looking like a weapon

to threaten bottles.


Found another one.

No one could ever use all these

stoppers at one time.


And I did get back to the wildflower paintings in the six way book.

Some of these have the look of old wallpaper found in farmhouse bedrooms. They’re a bit nostalgic in feel and I can therefore lower my expectations for having them look good. I remember in undergraduate school my adviser and head of the art department getting very frustrated with anything that smacked of “nostalgia”. I also got that in graduate school. Nostalgia came with warning signs. Now it just makes me breathe more slowly, which is a good thing at seventy-five. And you know what else they remind me of, speaking of graduate school?

My very good friend who I met there is an excellent egg tempera painter. and for her thesis exhibition she studied abandoned farmhouses in her area of Canada. She would go into them at different times of the day to see how the light played on the surfaces and think hard about the women who made these places a home.

One of the things she did was prepare a whole slew of gessoed boards about the size of electrical switch plates and then carefully egg tempera painted each one with an intimate close-up pattern of the old wallpapers in the houses. So on a massive wall during the exhibition was this long row of spaced out tiny paintings that the viewer had to get close to.  And then you could see them sigh and smile as each one had the capacity to invoke a long lost memory. Isn’t that lovely?

She and I got through those tough two years of having to defend our work with the help of alcohol. Her choice was single malt and mine was bourbon. We would retreat to either her room or mine after a particularly brutal critique, pour a drink and marvel at the fact that those who were so many years younger than us knew so much….and were so willing to share it with us who were old enough to be their mothers. Those were such good years for learning and laughing. I will admit that the laughing came long after the learning part and I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I learned how to be honest with myself about what matters enough to spend so much time and energy on…..what it meant to make what matters visible. I am forever grateful for that.

It makes me smile now, and I will have a scotch later for Jo…maybe give her a call this weekend to see what she is working on. She is a bit behind Lee in the dementia. It runs in the women of her family. But she remembers me and we can still laugh at our shared memories.

Til later.