Something New

Let’s get the Drawing a Day over with first.

I am back to drawing

feathers like these found bluejay

ones left on the trail.


Just three small feathers

from six were picked today

just because they were.


Two dried colored leaves

from the bowl on the table

were chosen today.


A small collection

for the last page of sketches

was chosen today.


I have now started the last of the books I made to do these drawings and haiku. It should take me to the end of December. I question whether I want to continue with it. It has become addictive but I think I have drawn everything that looks interesting and much that was not. My skills have improved and if I stop do I lose what I have gained? We will see.

BUT the other day I got to thinking that there are so many more sketchbooks I have filled over the years. I photographed some of the pages from several. And one thing I do know is that I lost my confidence using a pen to sketch quickly. Here are just a few of the favorites.

A sketch of a fencer I welded using spare bits of metal. It stood about three feet tall. I loved this and another one I did charging forward.

The corner of Toby’s bar in Coupeville on Whidby Island, Washington.  I would often go here for fresh mussels, crusty bread and a beer, It was the first place I heard Nora Jones.

A man at a neighboring table at an outdoor cafe in Montreal where my Canadian friend and I had the best time celebrating our MFAs from graduate school.

I used to be able to just pull out my pen and do these quickly…and if they were “off”, just add scribbles in those places.

I also thought it would be fun to show the watercolored illustrations of so many of my sketchbooks.

And some books had assorted ways of recording the places, ideas, thoughts….

And out of the blue, a return to the safety of graphite and eraser.

Some books were used as collecting places of objects and information.

And others like this Artist Retreat Book were secret places for the complexities of being among other artists and egos.

And what struck me while going through these journals were the words written there on pages with and without drawings.

So I am transcribing them in a document titled, “Excerpts from Journal Writings”. And I will use them here as an addition to my usual that seems tedious at times. They are recorded memories of places that have at times led to additional writings of short stories or poems or just phrases that caught hold of something important.

Here is one.

Highlands Botanical Gardens – June 28, 2007

I walked the gardens early this morning and noticed this free lecture offered tonight. Writer Ron Rash.

The gardens are lovely – a nice walk – took a few pictures.

What I think I love most about Nature Centers is the decrepit stuffed specimens – especially the birds. They look so dead. Their bodies seem to have shriveled away from their feathers and beaks, and yet there is something almost noble about the way they “hover” on the branches and perch next to their nests – all behind glass and fully on view.

I think I have spotted Mr. Rash. A “bird-watching´ look about him – small glasses and carrying his notes. I am sitting on the aisle behind an Asian couple. No one wants to cross in front of me as long as I am writing. Most people here seem to know each other – typical Highlands, most are elderly and with “means”.

The stuffed birds and I watch. I might add that the large black bear on rollers has been brought out to face forward like the rest of us.

They could use better backgrounds on their dioramas.

“Good evening.” Oops, Gary Winer, the director here and not the speaker, introduces Ron Rash. He is taller and wears no glasses, looks fairly academic…Southern poet, 53 years old and affiliated with my alma mater, Western Carolina University.

He opens with the last line of a poem, For the last Wolverine, by James Dickey, author of Deliverance.

“Lord let me die, but not die out.”

It will be a sad night of commentary on the fragility of our world. And a stuffed bear may have just nodded in agreement.


I was happy to come across this in a journal that also held pages of how it felt to teach a two week workshop at Penland….a dream come true. I like that without putting much thought into something, I just wrote in the moment. By doing this it all comes back…the scene, the smells, the sounds.

So each blog will have something besides just me, Lee and what I may or not be working on….but something from back there, somewhere, from my bag of past experiences.

So here is a good illustration of what I am talking about.

Remember the installation artist Nick Cave? Well in the year 2000 I volunteered to help dress his dancers for a performance. I quickly sketched in pen the movements of the dancers and the costumes.

Then when I returned home I wanted to capture that memory in a book form. Nick gave me two pieces that fell off a costume and I used them here on the cover of the book I made.

This is one of those pop out constructions that captured the movement of the performance and gave me places to stick on additional sketches to float in front of others. (One thing I learned in John Risseuew”s class in 1994 was you shape the book around the content.)

I made only two of these, one for me and the other to send to Nick.

Not long after, I received this gift from him. He and his partner had a textile business in Chicago and he used some of the cloth they designed to fuse to this large hard covered blank journal. A lovely devore of velvet.

Of course I wasn’t sure how or what to write in the book….too precious and all that.

Then I bought a book on how to write by author Elizabeth Berg. This small paper back was filled with timed prompts that had an appeal. I had no problem setting the timer and getting it down. Nick’s book was used for that and will be again because there are just way too many empty pages left in it.

Here is just one of her many writing prompts.

A smell coming from a restaurant – memories – stream of consciousness writing – what is it?

I smell pancakes – buckwheat pancakes! They make me think of MomMae and the farm kitchen of Nate and Myrtle, and Freckles, the springer spaniel with his head just under MomMae’s hem. If he can see no one, then no one can see him…a very dumb dog waiting for leavings, droppings from spatula to plate. I’d like to go back once more just to see and smell and hear all that again. That twangy music on the radio, something about geese flying away, the pancakes, the melting butter pushing syrup over the edges onto the plate.

And then my time was up. But how wonderful of Ms. Berg to make me remember all that. As for the author, I think I looked her up and saw she wrote more romance novel type things, books I likely wouldn’t read, but her guide book for writing remains one of my favorites.

So thanks for staying with this so far. I will stick more writings and more pictures in as I go.

Now I am going to transcribe more journal entries with the time I have left today. But before I go, here is a sample of my winter’s way to spend time with Lee while watching television. I was inspired by the charming embroidered scraps of cloth by Ann Lamb. This one is stitched into a contact print on heavy paper done on my last trip to Australia.

And this morning Lee and I unwrapped a previously unsuccessful contact print of our leaf collecting. This may dry to something useful. The bit of muslin holding these strips of paper is also drying.

Til later.



Caregiving Considerations

Lee and I did not do our walk today. It was more than just the rain. He had a hard night of digestive problems and a very confused morning. I got him showered, dressed and back down for a nap. When he awoke he seemed listless, unstable and a bit ornery.

Thank goodness it was a caregiver day. I turned him over to her and made a dash to the grocery store. Our intestinal tract medicines were fifteen years past use by dates. Evidently I need to pay more attention to what is and is not in the cabinet.

By the time I returned a nurse who works for the caregiving company agreed to come out and check his vital signs. And the caregiver got him to take two sips of herbal tea. His spirits were much better but still wobbly. I might have to have a gate put across the stairs going down to my studio. He refused to use a walker and had another nap. The nurse came and checked him out. She also gave me some recommendations for supplements to ask our doctor about.

And I also realized that the only pants he has are jeans with buttons, zippers and belt buckles….so I went on Amazon to get some pull on track pants for the next time he has difficulties.

I bought myself two bottles of wine to add to my supply. Tomorrow I will make the Healing Soup of equal parts broccoli, asparagus and spinach with onion and chicken stock. It is so tasty and really does make everything better. Sort of like a visiting nurse in a bowl.

My daughter’s partner sent me a black squirrel tail that I had to try making two more brushes with, Very hard to hang onto those cut hairs….but I made these two.

I used a chopstick and a piece of black bamboo with loads of wrapped waxed linen and glue.

Here are the last four days of drawings.

It could well be that

most yard birds contributed

to this crude paint brush.


The tip of squirrel’s tail

made a very fine paintbrush!

So worth repeating!


Black squirrel tail hairs

were irresistible fun

for new paint brushes.


A bamboo chopstick

makes a great paint brush handle

for these black tail hairs.


There is not much else new. I had no time in the studio today but did manage to get it picked up quite a bit. Soon I will start packing some things away to pass on. Passing on was the best part of having private students here. But since that can’t happen between caregiving and covid, I will find another way to let these things go.

Til later when I can do more talking about other things.



Catching Up on Lee’s Birthday

I ordered yellow lined pads but they were too bright. So I am staying with this Spirits Bar book as a separation between head and bookcase. I will add some yellow pages tucked in somewhere…otherwise finished.

A catchup on the drawings…all paint brushes with only two left to go, then back to leaves…..

I am going to

draw one of my Nature made

paintbrushes each day.


Today turkey plumes

yesterday a dried bush bloom

for my paintbrushes.


And today’s subject

is the very tip of a

butterfly bush bloom.


Bristles on this brush

are a gathered bunch of weed

blossoms all dried up.


A wrapped gathering

of dried fennel seeds can be

made into a brush.


Tiny little twigs

tied with some white waxed linen

to a stick handle.


No caregiver today so I had to take Lee to the store with me. He stays in the car. I got some barbeque thighs and legs for dinner tonight and a lovely little German chocolate cake and ice cream. I will not put 83 candles on the cake but just ask him how old he would like to be.

He received a nice email birthday wish from Holly this morning …we miss her lovely hugs….and a good phone call from his cousin. He remembers those from earlier in his life but not more recently known friends. Which can be a good thing because he does not ask about those who haven’t called or checked in much since his diagnosis.

A friend has fixed his leaf blower and it will arrive Thursday when his wife comes for our weekly lunch. He will be excited to start waving it around the driveway.

Not much else new. Following the hubris of a sickening president and his incompetent staff.  We are in such desperate need of a change. His ignorant easily led base I understand but certainly wish those only looking after their financial assets would start paying attention to the assets their children and grandchildren are….and the bleak future ahead of them.

I almost forgot the Fairy Book inspiration and images.

This bamboo man hangs on the porch. We have had him for years and he seems magical to me.

I added another dancer between the two.

And this big strong fairy man with tattoos?


Okay, time for a scotch.

Til later.

Back With The Fairies and Finishing Off The Writer

We are having some beautiful early fall days and can’t resist bringing some of it inside.

The fungus is also very prolific now.

And this just looked magic.

And another butterfly.

I used to know the names of most butterflies, but not so much now.

So I went back to The Fairy Book yesterday and found what one of the Acorn Brothers was pointing at….a pair of dancing fairies.

I will likely add some more details to these two.   Maybe something or someone in the middle.

Two days ago I pulled off the sides and most of the top from the writer’s head. Sanded some of it by hand where the paper stuck, so occasionally you can make out a fleeting thought or word that writers can’t quite let go of.

There is little more I will do to her…maybe a book laying across just under head. I put books that I have written on each side if her reference bookcase. Those small foundry molds came in handy as book ends glued to the base dictionary.

And the back…another writing guide. The Klimpt bookmark was just so perfect as it mirrored the head itself.

If you spot the fine roots coming out from under the open text on her head, they are there because all writing is based on what is deeply rooted in the writer. We dig for those bits and they surface whether we want them to or not. I am talking fiction/memoir when I say this.

Her left brain side has a single-colored post it notes among the reference pages.

Whereas the right brain side is a bit more haphazard. I used the post it notes from an old favorite graduate school book, On Longing by Susan Stewart. I used it for connecting our place in the familiar among others, then loaned it to my good friend at school who also used it when working on her series of what a place says about those who lived there…the bits of reference left behind. She was reading it in the tub while marking and making notes. It fell in, curled up and blurred our reference notes sticking out. Perfect for right brained thinking older women in graduate school working on their Masters of Fine Arts degrees.

Notice that in the front view I did keep the Sounds of Silence strip from the book.

Originally I was thinking more with the left brain and tried to bulk this head up to go with the print maker head. Then realized that writing is simply not so much full of ideas as it is waiting for what to say in the quiet. This book I made earlier this year came to mind.

So that is it for today. I will be back in a couple of days with my drawings a day where I am using my Nature paint brushes as subjects. Those are fun to draw as they cross two pages at once.

Til then….