Trying New Things

Making my first batch of sangria for company coming to spend a few days with me. It will be so much fun to have them here, wives working in the studio and husbands working outside, hiking, cooking and maybe even working in the studio with us. I will make lasagna later today to serve tomorrow when they arrive.

The walks in the morning have been wonderful with the sky views at the riverwalk.

Then this morning at the dam!

More drawing in the fabric sketchbook.

And with so few pages left in that book, I have started a new one. The cover is made with using gesso mixed with earth pigments from my yard, then coptic bound using watercolor papers, some with rusting techniques used on them.

I am calling the book, Bird Stories, and every page will have an image related to birds. And every page will have stitching added.

Here is the start…more pictures to come later as I add more stitching.

The pages are loosely water colored, then graphite drawings are added. Next I pick a pattern for the stitching to follow and poke the holes through before taking needle and thread along the path. There are limits to how much I can turn the book as I stitch so making the holes before adding thread helps.

I have put some stitching in but looking it over, I think much more is needed. Stay tuned.

I am getting more sociable in my conversations on the walks. At first it was only a nod, then talking to their dogs, then the people with eye contact, and just yesterday stopping to carry on a full conversation with a gentleman who just wanted to talk. Coming out of covid and the solitude of being with Lee has resulted in a reserved-ness I was not used to. Now I am hoping not to talk too much as I loosen up a bit.

Covid rages in our area with so many not believing the science. Hospital beds full and funerals on the rise. I am masked more now than ever.

But tomorrow friends arrive and more than just a little conversation and fun comes with them.

Til later…..

Some Beautiful Weather for Distractions

I am so glad to be an early riser. Two beautiful mornings out at the dam.

It was like the sky could not make up its mind the next day. Then for a change of mood back on the river this morning.

The other day I tested whether soaking dried out Eucalyptus leaves in vinegar and water would increase the possibility of getting reds. After posting these results, the consensus was to use silk or wool, not cellulose material. But they can be used to draw into. I do like the yellowy-orange bits.

I worked on my fabric journal.

Then realized that I only needed two more fabric swatches to fill in the five pages for drawings that are left. I decided that the cover was too plain for the greatly expanded book with threads hanging out so stitched a larger one to glue to the cover.

And now I seriously need to think about what to work on next for drawing/painting/stitching.

I started this with a piece of failed contact printed mulberry paper and put one of my last wood engraving seconds on it. Then just patched in with silks, cottons and other papers. Simple running stitch to hold it all together. The book really needs squeezed to fit on a book shelf with other books. But now it is as thick as it is going to be. I need to get something started before friends from St. Louis arrive next week to work in the studio while their husbands do some cooking and maybe yardwork. They want to help out with things Lee may have done if he was here. First offer I’ve had for that. Very grateful!

Yesterday I met with my attorney to go over paperwork for building the house. All is good there. I had a chat with the builder and my questions are now answered. If I can possibly put a dresser or television into a closet I need to know there will be room and outlets in them. Also just where is the exterior door on that small screen porch. Knowing that helps me figure out what furniture to take for that space. There was not much interest so far in my etching press so it may go with me and stay with work tables in the garage. I am having the builder put a window in the garage to give me more light if I want to keep carving wood blocks.

Almost everything here is finding a new home if it’s not going with me. Some will undoubtedly be trashed when the time comes. I need to get some more bags ready to go out this weekend. The more I throw out now the less I have to later. I need to locate a place to get some shredding done when family comes down in a few weeks to help haul it somewhere.

I have not walked the trail in a few weeks. It is a rather sad thing to do when I think of Lee and I collecting all those beautiful leaves and feathers this time last year. Maybe I will do that in the morning and then ask the friends from St. Louis to put Lee’s rocks back along the edges where deer have kicked them about.

Now I am off to face the last closet that needs some garbage bag attention.

Til later….

Separating While Still Hanging On

The morning river walk in a steady mist offered this view of a vine just hanging there looking like a story needed telling and then a cheerful note as I walked back to the car.

I went by the coffee shop to get a takeaway coffee but they were closed due to it being a holiday. Being alone I have lost track of holidays, days seem to just run into each other and I lose some of them.

Later after finishing my drawing I took these pictures out the windows.

I feel so distant from my home now. I have done all the clinical work of drawing the new house plan to scale, measuring every piece of furniture and fitting it into that plan. There is no sadness when I think of leaving here. Those emotions went when Lee was settled into a care home. This house was our last big project together and I was going to leave the documentation of that building process via my journal to the new owners. But I decided against that. They would likely only be interested in the cost of our appliances sixteen years ago and miss the subtext of two people building their dream house with every intention of living the rest of their lives in this one place.

There are other books about this house I will take with me like this one using earth pigments from my yard to watercolor the white line prints of my yard, titled Home Colors.

And another wood block story of my front yard.

I loved figuring out how to make 3D images for each section and then having them fold onto each other to close the book/story.

These and all my books will go with me and be kept where I can reach out and touch them whenever I need to remember being here with Lee. It is hard some days to pack his things away. Here is the last rock he brought into the house…a small red one after trying for several days to bring in big ones to start one of his lines of rocks in the house. I said it was lovely and we should save it here. I have not been able to move it yet.

It sits atop a rock a friend sent from Alaska and that one sits on one a friend brought back with others from New York for me to roll shifu threads on. Next to it is a rock my dear friend from graduate school gave me from her home in Canada.  All these rocks will go with me plus those in a snake form in the yard near the large Japanese stone lantern (also going) and all those lovely round ones my daughter and her partner brought down for me to hold and move about just a couple of months ago.

Thinking of Lee today I went to our bedroom and pulled three things from his wooden bowl of things dropped in. One of those emptying pockets wood bowls that he turned in his shop. A pair of reading glasses, a bottle opener and a pocket watch I cannot open. It is a nice page I think.

I added scraps of cloth to the page. Tomorrow I will find something on my walk to draw next. I might just pour an early glass of wine and start another short story. It is that kind of day…..

Til later…

Labor Day Weekend Is So Quiet!

The sky has been amazing out at the dam this morning and earlier this week.

And two days ago back to the Riverwalk trail that heads through the woods. I wanted to see if there was much damage with the flood waters a few days before. There wasn’t. The water just pushed through and went down to its previous level. Very foggy starting out and I was glad to see others eventually getting their walks and runs in.  A bit dark and foggy at 7 a.m.

I have to wait until it is light enough to see to feed the deer waiting down below before I can head out for the morning walks. So I don’t get there as soon as I would like. When I move I won’t be feeding the deer so I can get an earlier start. My new place will be closer to the dam and where Lee is. There are the same people walking at each place and I have been able to practice talking with them. We talk about their dogs, Lee, the weather. Safe topics in the time of rampant Covid brought on in no small part by an idiocy that has gripped parts of the South.

If I don’t converse with our cats during the day, my voice leaves me and I have to clear my throat before answering the phone. Mostly the calls are marketing recordings but when they are not, I do sound rather creepy. I gave the house appraiser pause the other day when he wanted to come out and go over the house the following day. That went very well by the way and I look forward to what they come up with in value so I can start the building process. My loan has been approved but I need to know what my house is worth long before it goes on the market. The appraisers advised me like everyone else to not put it on the market if I did not have a place to go. Houses are selling well in the area now. There is still so much else to do here. Filling closets with packed boxes, making sure what furniture the kids want to take, etc.

The builder gave me the measurements for the rooms and I am enlarging them on graph paper to make sure the furniture I want will fit in the rooms. I have decided to put the television inside a closet with bifold doors so I don’t have to look at it in the den, but I need to make sure the builder puts the wiring in the closet as well. The walk in closet is so big off the master bath that I asked him to put an outlet in there so I can put my Migun bed in there. Won’t that be great? Take a shower and then get a massage before getting dressed? Good thing I got rid of most of my clothes.

I look forward to building one more time. The ceilings are a foot higher than most of the ceilings here, but I will surely miss the vaulted ceilings that have allowed me to have creative wall space. The builder and I talked about that but the peak runs in the opposite direction of what would look good. So now I am looking closely at what artwork goes with me.  And frankly I am sorry not to have buried more than just exhibition pieces. One piece will have to be sawed in half to fit into a garbage bag for the trash but it will be easy to dispose of other pieces that way.

All my rugs will fit into rooms at the new place. I am hoping to put a dresser inside a closet in the guest room just to save floor/wall space for a bookcase that Lee made. I need to have the builder give me the exact measurement inside closets that still allows for the doors to have clearance inside as they angle open. The big additional cost will be all new appliances and deliveries on those is somewhat difficult at times. The builder said they will find a place to store them if I order before needed. He is quite amenable to work with.

My king size bed will go to a new home so I can buy a nice double or full size bed with matching trunks for night stands. I have decided to start reading in bed when I move. Never was able to do that before. If I don’t sell my etching press before I go I will take it with me. A studio space will be set up in the garage for carving blocks and printing.

Here are the last two days’ drawings. Lee’s grapes this year.

And a favorite piece of folk art and the large clay crow from Ted Cooley.

There are not too many pages left in this journal so I need to get out another blank one. I am thinking soft water colored abstract images that go all the way to the edges. It would be a good change for me and might lend themselves to illustrations for stories or poems.

I am going back to my graph paper.

Til later……