Back in the Studio

A lovely gift from the painter, Amanda, in exchange for all my cartons of pigment making tools, supplies, rock and soil collections. I got the better part as it has opened up my storage room for packed cartons of those art supplies going with me. I also gave my entire collection of bird and wasp nests to her little boys and threw in an ABC’s in the Woods poster. Their car was packed tight with an additional add of a floor lamp and a ream of paper for sifting soils onto. Thank you Amanda and family for helping to clear space.

The one last minute grab back was a small clay type stone of gorgeous blue/grey collected out on the Pacific coast and a large soft rock of a bright yellow that Gwen Diehn and I called, “Rivercane RD Morning Sun” when we discovered it many years ago. I will take them to my new home.

I have more space to work in the studio with recent cleanouts.

And with cleaning out the last of Lee’s drawers, I found this animal claw he brought home from a trip to Asia. It was a perfect addition to the right brain side of the Traveler.

And a final touch of maps of Italy and France with magnifying glass to the head.

I only have the Homemaker to work on next. Then all four of these autobiographical sculptures will be finished. Marla and Patrick took the final measurements so they can make museum cases of wood and glass to house each one. The four will just fit onto a tall oak postman’s table that I bought from the Brasstown post office many years ago. I will be eye to eye with each as I contemplate and converse with myself. Their bases are all designed and only need to be securely glued in place. I will keep the heads separate until after the move.

We all walked to the dam last week and saw loons.

Then again this morning I actually got a picture of a pair plus some other interesting shots of the moodiness there.

So the loon needed to go into the Bird Stories book.

There are also a bunch of pictures from the walk we all did earlier along the river. I will post them later. Dilly has volunteered to share wine time with me since all company is gone.

Til later….I am headed back to the studio to actually do some work. The Homemaker needs her head carved out on the two sides and the things sorted that fill that head. I also want to start a large wood cut.

Happy New Year to all of you. It just has to be better than the one we are wrapping up!



Christmas Time Come and Gone!

Christmas morning was small and quiet and quick. Interesting gifts that were mostly comestibles except for subscription to the Washington Post and some snazzy food containers. Lots of basic pantry foods. But then…

A bourbon from Detroit Michigan and some bottles of Stones ginger wine…a favorite!

Patrick turned each of us a pastry dolly for shaping small pies. Mine is a beauty from a crab apple tree. Then he roasted oak sticks to flavor alcohol. Here is the chart that explains the flavors of light, medium and dark roast.

We played board games starting with one sad round of one called Pandemic. We could not save the world and like Covid outbreaks, it happened far too often. We all thought there should have been more virus in the United States as here is where we have more people who are spreading it with their vast grasping of misinformation over facts.

So we put the board game away and went to our favorite…Settlers of Catan. Here we can travel, discover and trade our way to success.

And when we finish playing the game all the fun little parts go into this old field paint box I gave Amy for it years. We made little muslin bags for colored tokens and larger ones for the parts. I think Lee may have made the wooden tray to hold commodity cards.

Lee also made a slew of spare tokens out of wood because some get lost under the table. Patrick and I tied with three games each, Amy won one and Marla came close, but mostly discovered where more water could be found at sea.

And we had some good drinks.

Starting with Madeira to go with my first ever home made Christmas cake and a recommended Irish cheddar cheese.


Newton’s Law that has apple butter, bourbon, sugar, lemon juice, garnished with an orange twist and sprinkle of cinnamon.

Marla’s amazing Hot Buttered Rum made with her special “batter” and stirred with a cinnamon stick when mixed with a good rum.

Patrick’s Black Manhattans with whisky, Amaro, bitters and dark sweet cherry/orange twist garnish.

And our favorite when we all get together to celebrate our dear departed friend, Pacia. These drinks are dreadful in a somewhat pleasant way and always served in a Jefferson cup with fresh popped corn. We had no idea there was a name for these….Friskey if using a cheap whisky in equal parts to Fresca and a Frumpy if substituting rum instead. When we looked them up, the advice was to drink quickly but we take our time and remember Pacia fondly and share stories.

Oh, and I need to follow up on the little bottle of Screwball Peanut Butter whisky. It was not bad but didn’t taste much like peanuts.

We took several morning walks. The most recent one was at the folk school walk along the creeks. I will show more of the other walks in the next blog.

Then this morning they all left. Patrick pulling another trailer of things they want from here and Amy and Marla finding just enough room to fit themselves in her Jeep.

And away they went.

Now they are just about home in Michigan and driving in snow and slush on the highway.

So glad I live here and not there. All the laundry is finished and the beds made up again. My studio has less furniture and tomorrow a painter comes and gets all my pigment making equipment and soils. Then lots of cleaning to be done!

Til later….



Busy Few Days

Let’s start with this…I was not going to bother this year since Christmas has been missed the last two years.

A bit on the minimalist side but I like it.  So does Dilly.

And before that I was taking a walk near the gym and my new house site. Love this little creek going past an Indian mound.


The bridge going over to the mound and where my house is being built in the background.

And an interesting tree with a door at the bottom.

On the way back through town I stopped at the building site and picked up some of the soil from the footings. After a couple of days’ drying I turned it into watercolor.

I ended up with five and a half pans about one and a quarter inches wide. Plenty for my new project.

Then I pulled out the other book that is colored with local pigments embedded in gesso. It is about seven inches by 9 1/2 inches by more than an inch thick. Coptic bound like the Bird Stories book.

And the first few pages. Graphite and watercolor.

The book has enough pages to get all the building stages and the moved in look. I want to use the watercolor on each page.

Family arrives tomorrow evening. They requested Lee’s mushroom soup for when they arrive. I have not made it in a long time but it was a favorite at our impromptu dinner parties.

I just looked out the window and the juncos have arrived. So now it is officially winter. They are so fat with backs and heads of the nicest graphite color set off by their snow white tummies.

This week I am going to make a fruitcake, one that looks like it came from an English woman’s oven. It should be round and full of fruit but certainly not that dreadful candied cherry of red and green for heaven’s sake, and not candied pineapple!  No, figs, dates, sour cherries, raisons (golden and dark brown), lots of pecans, all in a dark molasses flavored cake dough. It is a fruitcake that you can eat right away. No waiting months until it either gains some flavor or turns to dust. Americans are lousy at making and appreciating fruitcake.

And the only reason I am doing it is because Kim in Ireland posted a picture of one a friend gave her a year ago and she had to freeze due to covid restrictions. Her’s looked moist and delicious. She eats it with cheddar cheese, so I bought a good English sharp. Madeira will finish it off as a dessert.

I might be able to post again before Christmas.

Have a wonderful holiday season and stay safe. There are still so many who are thoughtless in their desire to stay unvaccinated.

Til later…..

Some New and Renewed Starts This Week

Yesterday’s walk at the dam was terribly cold but I loved the frost and fog for taking pictures.

It was worth stepping over the fallen tree because up at the top was this surprise!

On the way back to the car I found these lovely frosted grasses/weeds.

Then this morning it was totally different.

And these of just the water that is holding the sky!

And through the woods seeing the water and sky.

Yesterday I joined the gym near my new house to be. This picture is looking from their front door toward the place (right in front of the white Tyvek-sided one by the white truck) where footings have been poured.

I went there to photograph the site and took some soil to make a watercolor for a new sketchbook to document the house being built.

This morning I was back at the gym for more treadmill time and a good 400 hits on this bag. I have so missed the punching bag.

A very fit and pleasant young woman will help get me back into a routine of weights and aerobics. She showed me a room that had nothing but mats on the floor and said, “We will start here with stretches.” I said, “What! I have to get on the floor and then BACK UP!” She said yes, that it was important for someone my age. I told her I would practice at home before we start our routine after the holidays. Yesterday it took one piece of furniture to get down and two pieces to get back up. More practice is necessary.

While she and I were talking, a steady flow of older women were coming in to partake in a routine exercise session. One was happy to meet me and assumed I was going to join them. A look close to fear must have been on my face as she took my hand and told me it was fun. After she left to join the rest of the legging-clad, yoga mat carrying ladies gathered a ways away from me I told the young woman who is setting up my routines that I was not a joiner of groups of women. She asked why, and I attempted to explain that I felt like being caught in a flock of unruly birds….some even wearing pearls. I said it was too much, just too much right now. Maybe later. Besides it was very clear that there was no furniture in the gym to crawl back into a standing position. And by the way, their instructor for these exercise sessions is a whopping eighty-four years old! No, I am not ready. But later today will get down on the floor for the sole purpose of getting back up…practice, practice.

And the Bird Stories Sketchbook has been fun lately. I tore out the first two pages and turned the nest pages into the end paper for the beginning.

After the great blue heron I did a grebe on the lake. He is likely the lone diver I have been watching, much as I would have liked it to be a loon.

Then a drawing of a green heron. I love their big feet!

And lastly this! It was so much fun to draw.

So that is it for now. I will see if my soil from the building site has dried out enough to sift down to pigment powder and get the new sketchbook up here from the studio and start with a drawing of the footings. I like that the only tree in the open field between the back of my house and the back of those on the next street is directly outside my living and bedroom windows. I will have a bit of landscaping back there to take my stones and other plantings to walk among when stepping out of the screened porch.

Til later….