It’s A Different Life

I took this picture on my walk this morning. Just a few short weeks ago the blooms were so plentiful on these bushes. They have had their season and are now fading.

Yesterday I visited Lee. He seems to be fading too. Slept through our time together sitting at a table outside away from anyone else. I took him a feather and a couple of Kent’s cards, the ones with cats drawn on them. He smiled at the feather, took it, then dropped it onto his lap and went back to sleep. I took his picture to show Amy, Patrick and Marla…his home caregivers when I was away in Australia and before I needed to hire professionals. His hair is longer than I have ever seen it but so clean and wispy white flowing over his ears. He is thinner than when I last saw him. He did not know who I was but liked a back rub as he dozed. I put the feather and cards back in my bag and will make an appointment to visit him again this week.

When I came home I drew this into pages in my sketchbook of scraps.

I saw a new born fawn this morning on the driveway and am thinking I should put him/her on the following page. A reminder of new life slipping into existence as I watch roses and Lee fade into another place.

Work in the studio calls and I am glad for the distraction of ideas put into a visual form.

I found my oh so precious Australian pencil box and used a number seven to transfer my drawings onto the blocks.

I bought this tin with a crocodile on it from a news agency store…a place where they assume that if you want a newspaper you might just need some basic art supplies as well. Here basic art supplies are only in art supply stores or more likely online as most walk in stores have closed.

I blocked out what will be black with a purple felt tip marker.

Anyway, so far I have worked through two blocks…

I love the sound of scraping the wood away and then seeing the small chips scatter across the table and floor. When the third one is carved I will test them with ink on paper to see where else some carving is necessary.

The thought occurred to me to print them on fabric and then hand sew the centers to the large male print. It would be easier to handle in the printing process of lining up the image and it would also give me an easier surface to stitch into. I will see how I feel after I find the right cloth.  Amy did send me some inkjet printing material in silk and cotton….both seem a bit too white for the tai kozo that the men are printed on but might be worth a try. The paper backing on the cloth so it feeds into the printer does keep the cloth rigid so hand rubbing could make for better contact of ink to cloth.

You know what I miss most when in my studio? It is the hum of another artist being there with me working out ideas for their own work. I don’t mean the students who just want a lesson on how to bind a book or the ones who show me an image from a magazine of a box they want me to end up making for them because it is the product not the process that matters. No, I really miss the passion of those makers who are driven to make something that matters deeply to them…and I don’t mean the work that is made to bundle up and take off to their gallery.

I look forward to September when two former students and long time friends come to work and stay for awhile. I have missed them. When I last saw them I had given a juror’s talk in St. Louis and we were reading favorite poems to each other over wine and dessert.

This weekend Amy and Ben return for a week of helping me out between birding walks and cocktail recipe discussions/sampling. I will have to write down another list of lightbulbs needing replaced, hose leaks, furniture moved, etc. Maybe they will help me put Lee’s rocks back in place where the deer have knocked them out of the way to get to the corn fallen into the cracks.

I will enjoy their company. The house is so quiet….

Til later…..

In Just a Few Days

I like to think these ducks were coming to greet me as I stood on the bridge at the Riverwalk. No geese in sight two days ago.

And then this morning’s moon here in the yard before seeing the sky at the dam.

Beautiful mornings here.

Two days ago I finally cleaned out Lee’s side of the closet. Four bags for recycle, two for friends and family and one for trash. I spread my things all the way across for the first time ever…we always shared a closet and both of us tried very hard to not cross the center line.

Yesterday I met friends for lunch. We ate outside on the porch with no masks and I thoroughly enjoyed not just our own conversation but listening to others who seemed so happy to be out. I hadn’t been to that restaurant in over two years and it was nice to be back.

Scraps of cloth have been stitched together and added to my journal. The trees pages finished and another one as well.


I like drawing in the stitch lines. The one below has a piece of the freshly contact printed cloth we did this week.

And this morning I found just enough iron on bonding scraps to face the center backs of three of the male wood blocks. Then I went back to working out the designs for the blocks to fit in their empty spaces.

I wanted three stages of a tree but this morning decided to add the black bird. He makes it even more of a narrative and I have used the idea of the bird bringing messages in my work over the years. It seemed appropriate to return to him here. But I can always change my mind once I get going.

I have decided to add stitch to the prints so needed the backing material. Once the new blocks are carved and centered on the bodies, then dried I will make more decisions. Could fine scraps of cloth and threads be fused into the prints with a thin wax solution? It would be nice to have some of Lee’s bee’s wax become part of each piece. Lots of time to think about it. Even time to make serious mistakes and start over.

Anyway I am back to the studio to start transferring images and carving away the light.

Til later….

Still Floundering a Bit

Two days ago at the dam it was like this….a fog waiting to sandwich me in. Then yesterday being Sunday I did not go for a walk, only to miss today due to lots of rain at the time I like to be out. So a fidgety Tuesday waiting for Barbara to come and undo our bundles.

Here are mine that I will keep.

The first two were between tiles in an iron bath. The short piece and faded one from steaming. We are going to put some back in between tiles (no bundles) and cook them again. We both hoped for a bit more reddish color with the Eucalyptus leaves from the florist, but no, we are not in Australia where everything seems right.

Speaking of which yesterday a card came with the most thoughtful poem of how it is like with Lee leaving. Thank you Lynne.

This is the place

where we must sever….

you go thousands of miles

my friend once forever….

Like floating clouds

we drift apart….

The sunset lingers like

the feelings in my heart.

Farewell to a Friend

Li Pai

Yesterday’s drawing shows the poem written over and over on top of itself so I will remember it.

I am grateful to have this new way of seeing clouds and remembering how we used to be. He is doing fine at the nursing home and they think he is so sweet with his cat walking the halls and talking to it with such pleasure. He eats everything on his plate and is content for the first time in quite awhile. Our long term care reimbursements and payment from unused time at the memory care facility lag behind and I am grateful Lee and I made precautions in our finances to cover these times to protect what we have worked so hard for the last fifty-four years.

Yesterday I framed the Night Critters and my wood block chine colle print of our Japanese lantern stone in the front yard.

This morning I made buttermilk biscuits and used Lee’s wood turned plate and his honey with my handwoven dish towel to stage a picture of the biscuits. I think the biscuits needed to be crowded together more to help each other rise to their fullest potential….like most of us, closeness helps.

And today’s drawing of a forest that will be finished tomorrow.

Til later….



Back in the Studio

The other morning I got six prints pulled from the wood block. It took lots of ink and hand pressure to get three workable ones. I was a bit out of practice but using tai kozo paper helped me see where it needed more rubbing. Now I can get back to designing and carving the center blocks. After those are printed in place and dried I will figure out where and what type of cloth to patch in. They will need to be fused to a stitchable bonding material.

Back to the dam for an early walk.

This shot of my long shadow was taken as soon as that sun came over the horizon and before it slipped into the morning clouds above.

Then this morning back to the Riverwalk to see how much the flood waters receded.

Beautiful that early in the morning. Even caught a beaver busy at work.

What are these creepy looking stems along this stretch of the river? they look like they could be juicy inside but their suddenly ended tops are wilted dead looking ends. Like they just gave up doing whatever they had in mind when they sprouted. The beaver was in this only section of those strange plants.

While working on my drawings today the cleaning lady’s husband came and took the twin bed away to set up a room for a very cute visiting granddaughter.

Drawing these pale smooth bits of driftwood was not that easy. I will pick harder edges for the next drawings. But I need to sit and stitch more pieces first.

I sometimes catch myself just stuck standing, not knowing where to go next in the house. There are so many choices now my time is my own. Should I go off to Asheville and buy something? Take myself to lunch in a restaurant? Visit an art gallery? Too many choices, too hard to make up my mind. I will stay home until moving between rooms with no purpose in mind gets boring. For now it is a bit thrilling.

And I am reading books again! Now on my last Jane Harper book. A few more assorted ones on the pile to go. I might download a book only available on Kindle…American Hippopotamus…the bizarre story of two men’s idea of bringing hippos to Louisiana for additional meat sources in Teddy Roosevelt’s time. It was a time in our history when ideas were tossed out and then acted on with little thought to consequences. I am not sure we have matured much beyond that but the thought of hippos grazing in Baton Rouge bayous does bear looking into.

It is almost two o’clock…maybe a small red wine on the breezy porch with my book. I am keeping Barbara’s and my bundles out there to cure. We will open them on Tuesday but I do love looking at how seeped with color they are looking now.

I won’t post another blog until they are unwrapped.

Til then….