I have had a very busy few days. Most of it working on the front entry. rearranging things, covering pillows and an old yoga bolster. I wanted a bit of color so used a nice piece of rust and black mud cloth over a firm 2″ foam. I painted an old stool that was under a large flat rock on my previous porch (that stone is actually what slopes the water into the pond here).

Yesterday I went off to buy porch rugs. They are taking their time settling out flat. But I keep thinking that the wall opposite the wide bench could use something. I think I will move the five foot by 12″ D x 15″ H black bench from the porch to out here. Neighbors could sit and have a wine and a bit of conversation. The bolster I covered with a very large shawl that I bought in Bali…doubled it over and stitched along one end and the length, leaving the fringe hang off one end. The smaller pillows were unused ones from my bedroom.

I covered them and a soft pad for the stool with another scarf I found in my fabrics chest. I had dyed it (rather un-successively with plant materials in Australia and thought I could disguise the boringness of it by kantha stitching long lovely cream threads one end to the other about 1/2″ apart. What a dumb idea that was! So now that one scarf covers three pieces that match the stones I can’t seem to put in the gardens.

I also can’t seem to part with the wire and wood bird cage. It hung in my old living room from the shelves and has been looking for a good place to settle here. I think it goes with the wire, sandpaper scraps, and stone tai chi figures. It is those things that have the mark of hands putting pieces together that I love.

The more I think about that empty wall out front, the more I know that as soon as I finish this blog, I will move the black bench there.. I could even put a stone or two on it.  Speaking of which, I have requested more of those perfect ball-shaped ones that Amy can find up north.

The Scrabble book is finished and now available on Amazon. Out of the $10 selling cost, $4.25 goes to printing it with color images, Amazon takes 40% of the balance and I get $1.75.

This is not a way to make money! But if one wanted to market their work and themselves, money can be made using this form of self-publishing. Since I have no intention of hawking wares at local writers’ functions, I am wondering of what value I can be on a panel discussion of those who self-publish. Maybe my value is the opposite approach from being known and accepted in the world of writers, that can be useful to others who have similar views. Anyway, I need to get myself ready for that panel discussion by this coming Friday. No worries.

Thursday, Eddie, the yard guy, reappears to finish adding mulch and a red bud tree.  I will be at the gym, doing laps around the gymnasium,

having coffee with the corner people, tai chi, and poetry that day. I have new pieces written for both poetry meetings.

Speaking of poetry reading, I began to follow Billy Collins weekly readings on Facebook that started a few years ago. At first, I thought it was some know-it-all graduate student who kept interrupting him to say where to face and when to speak. After quite a while of being irritated, I discover that it is his wife, who thought this was a good way for him to connect during the isolation of Covid times. And after a bit he seemed to quiet her down and would read his and others’ poems. Then for some ungodly reason, he thought adding his favorite jazz music would be a good idea. And we would have to hear all about his house renovations, etc. Well, naturally most of his regular listeners thought all this was simply wonderful. Billy was making them part of his life. Well today I called our relationship over. Here he was, without the continual supervision of his wife (who must have been away), telling an audience (that most likely hoped he would read from his earlier works),  about what a clever musician he was to have learned so many instruments recently so he could play his own jazz compositions. He read some poetry from magazines featuring un-understandable lines and continued to promote his books…could be close to a couple dozen by now, and all in all continued to irritate me. So. I talked over him by reading a very short poem of my own out loud before scrolling down to the next cat video.

Doing a bit more in the book about philosophical considerations. I like connecting the pages and thoughts together.

Anyway, the bench is waiting to go out front…

Til later…


Signs of Spring!

My walk into town and back I pass this cherry tree.

And the close up of blooms.

Then the walk to and from tai chi I found the meadow full of dandelions.

Coming into Riverwalk where I live.

And the back yard after Eddie did some adjustments and replacements.

We are thinking that a nice curve of mulch, grasses and a red bud tree would be good going around to the left. It would connect to the side mulched area with new bushes that can withstand the sudden changes in weather.

And in the house I have added a twelve bottle wine cooler. My neighbor came over to unload it and place it in the house right where I wanted it and proceeded to plug it in, remove the tapes and say, “there you go.” She is seventy and super strong! I left a little bouquet of flowers on her porch this morning.

Another neighbor I took flowers to this morning gave me a lift to pick up my car from the repair shop. I thanked her profusely and her response was, “that’s what friends are for.” I am happy to say there are friends here in this neighborhood.

A fellow came over this week to show me an interesting root ball someone gave him to turn on his lathe. He wanted to know what I thought about how he could proceed. It was good to be asked about his project and we had a very good visit talking about wood working and teachers of the craft. He gave me this trivet that he turned.

It is a cloudy day so a good one for writing. The laundry is finished and put away. Grocery shopping done. Chocolate bunnies and black jelly beans have appeared in the mail. I received the first proof of Scrabble and decided the images were too dark, so I redid them and am now waiting to see the new proofs.

In less than two weeks I will be part of a panel discussing self-publishing. I can only convey my own experiences and why I chose the way I did to see some of my writings in print for others.

I received this a few days ago.

Dear Sandy,
As most of us treasure the hand-written word and postage now it is so rare I was tempted to bring out my fountain pen from hibernation. Why? because I have just re-read the entire canon of your recently published works and had to respond. 
I keep the elegantly bound stash beside my bed in London and this morning just completed reading the last chapters again. 
March this year has been wetter than usual and dark. February was awful and getting out of bed harder in the mornings. So I read and what pleasure your work gives me…….
Sandy, you have a great gift as a creator of stories, images, creations of delicate, earthy textures/colours. You describe the monotony of daily existence in these potentially moribund communities dependent on Church and gossip yet glimpsing joy and colour around the edges, always a humanity and compassion, never mean spirited.
Australia comes to life for me……Had I recognised your talent of observation I may have behaved myself better. YOU SEE EVERYTHING and can reproduce it accordingly.
Thank you so much for keeping my memories alive. I wish I had written this by hand but then you would discern my character as nothing is hidden from you.
Isn’t that a lovely letter to receive? She makes me want to keep my pen pushing along the page. She makes me feel that what I write matters. Other than positive input at the poetry meetings/critiques and one of the guys telling me he keeps a copy of my short stories in the guest bathroom, I get next to no comments on what I have written. But those wonderful friends in Australia continue to tell me how my writing is appreciated by them. And tonight at exactly six-thirty my time they will make their annual call to catch me up with show and tells of what they have made in workshops and the few days afterwards where we all worked on our own, in our own spaces, with materials and stories that needed telling in visual forms. I am so lucky to have them checking in throughout the year, but this is something really quite special. A nice Aussie red to celebrate with them.
And finally Sadie and Dilly…two who are quite happy to hear me read aloud.
Til later….

The Stones, Sketch, and Poem

Lee’s transformed ashes arrived at the funeral home this week and since the director there had never heard of this way to handle remains, he took a look. We all agreed in his office that these were quite nice. He helped put them into my car because the box was heavy and it occurred to me when I saw them on the back seat that it was exactly where Lee sat on his last ride in my car…from one care home to another. It was nice having him back there again.

Sliding the box open there was a large muslin bag and small ones for “sharing”.

A large plastic bag of sixty assorted sized stones.

The process is mixing ashes with porcelain or something similar to then make the stones.

They range in size from a bit over 1″ to 2.5″. Nice sizes for tucking in.  The texturing of divots was a nice touch. Speaking of which, they feel very nice in the hand. I put one in a bowl he turned, two little ones in a large bowl with other stones and references to stones. I did this because it holds, among other things,  stories in tiny stone sized books made by his favorite students who came to the house for private workshops…two to five days, where he did all the cooking for us and made parts for our art projects in his shop. He would love being with them again.

I put another in the liquor cabinet in one of the drinks glasses he made from wine bottles. It is close to a bourbon which would make him quite happy. A small one will be tucked into the back of the hot pads drawer with the last pair of kangaroo hot pads I bought him in Australia. He got a set from each trip I took because they were easy to tuck into luggage at the souvenirs shop.

He would have picked up a stone like this to bring home for me to sit with others we collected. Now Amy and Patrick are planning all the places to put his stones where they have fond memories important to where they grew up and their dad’s involvement in a particular community. Patrick will keep some in his work shop so Lee is there and as usual covered in sawdust.

I want to talk his friend that always came over to fix things and keep Lee laughing at silly jokes into to keeping one. I think Lee would love being in that friend’s toolbox to keep on listening. Speaking of men who work with their hands, I showed the stones to a couple of guys who put my floor in last week and returned to do some touch ups. They were completely impressed with the idea and after a bit of hesitation, they each handled some. They laughed and thought of what their wives and kids would do with their stones as they rubbed their hands on them. Lee would have enjoyed that other working men handled his stones.

And this past week saw another Tasmanian Basket Gathering. So I worked along with them from here by drawing one of the necklaces that my good friend Jude makes while she sits with the rest making baskets.

By now some of my Australian students have gathered at Halls Gap in the Grampians Range to get busy with their workshops I no longer teach. I hope they continue the routine of calling me to share not only what they have done all week but also the things they are working on in the house we always rented together. They are so talented. I miss them. My home has a good amount of their gifts and work sent over the years. And my last stitching project I worked on with them hangs high in the living room over wood block prints of men in the aging process.

What follows is the longest poem I have ever written but I woke up one morning this week with a need to get it all down. I read it at the poetry meeting yesterday and received wonderful comments on their returned copies.

My Room                       S. Webster


It is the right size to move around in.

Easy to access the spaces of daily life.

But the best part, the very best part

are the doors with hard-to-turn knobs.


They require a bit of wrenching.

But only after considerable thought as to why,

why do I need to get in?


I have built a sort of Memory Palace.

You know, the way to remember

before letters printed on pages.


Every day I stand in the large open space

or sit in a comfortable chair.

And decide which door to open.


Do I want to go through the one on the left

nearest the window?

Childhood rushes about in here.

Riding bikes, jumping rope,

checking my Babe Ruth watch to see

if it is time to head home for dinner

after stuffing the wrapper of a Tootsie Roll

into a pocket full of the day’s collection

nestled in pocket lint.


I will skip the next door

of adolescence and teenager.

It holds all the pressures

of trying  to find myself

in a world of expectations.

Being lost amid roads to everywhere.


My hand reaches for the door

of fresh motherhood,

of painting walls with favorite stories,

pushing marigold seeds

into dirt-filled egg cartons,

tossing snowsuits on floors

so small arms and legs can wriggle

into place as they lay down on top –

and try to get back up. Smiles.


No, not today


I move on to the next

and think how much this interior space

resembles a small town roadside motel.

Behind every door

Is someone else’s unfolding story.


If I open this door it is like a

Cabinet of Curiosities.

Filled with objects and quickly dashed notes

of how to say in forms or on a page

all the thoughts an artist/writer cannot keep in.

Some expressions so strongly felt

they required a burial after exposure

to others outside that room.

It wore parts of me completely away

and quickens my breath with the memory.


There is a door to the parting of ways.

The natural way of life, and choices being made

to keep a life simpler

by learning to say good-bye.

A favorite shawl hangs just inside,

held together with patches

of what was happening.


There is a new door that opens

into mostly empty shelves

where I store the dreams I can recall.

The ones that wake me up with lost passions.

Like the one this morning of me

and a tall, thin man in black who never

returned my gaze because the air around us

was so charged with feeling.


I asked my doctor recently if those who die

in their sleep could have been reacting to a dream.

We looked hard at each other and agreed

no one ever came back to tell us.


So here I am.

Making more space for me,

Rearranging the furniture in this room

surrounded by doors,

Keeping a path open

between access and closure.


So I will leave it here and go do something exciting before the next blog. Probably finish assembling the Scrabble story. Maybe sew something, maybe draw, maybe just talk to the cats or take myself out to dinner. Maybe bake something that makes the house smell wonderful….maybe a lot of things….

Til then…

Done and Dusted

This last week was spent keeping ahead of the floor crew. Such a fantastic job to get it all done in three days! All I had to do was empty whatever needed to be moved and get it put back to make room for the next pile.

Tearing up the old floor.

New dining room floor.

Emptying out bookshelves in den and studio was the worst part.

I made it to movie night with my leftover pizza and a complimentary glass of wine as soon as the job was finished and paid for. And now it looks like this in every single room. Even the studio where I am now, had some shelf rearranging to make more sense how I now use it.

This morning’s breakfast while doing laundry.

So now laundry put away. Lunch of yogurt, pretzels and peanuts. And my longest poem to date…two pages both sides. Here are the first two stanzas.

My Room                       S. Webster


It is the right size to move around in.

Easy to access the spaces of daily life.

But the best part, the very best part

are the doors with hard-to-turn knobs.


They require a bit of wrenching.

But only after considerable thought as to why,

why do I need to get in?


The other day at the poetry meeting, I read the one titled Breathing that I shared here recently. Several asked if they could keep the copy they were reading along with. Never had that asked before. So it resonated with them, which is a good thing.

I did get Scrabble all laid out with text and illustrations. Now just need to design the cover.

Tonight we set the clocks ahead. Daylight savings time again. My phone and Fitbit do it on their own but that clock on the stove and the one in the car wait for me to handle it.

I agreed to be a presenter for a writer’s conference coming up soon. With getting into publications, writing from prompts, being accepted in the literary world meaning absolutely nothing to me, I wondered why they asked. I am to do a presentation on self-publishing. I think I know which direction I will take my talk. And I hope there is not too much disappointment that it won’t come with step by step instructions.

There is a children’s charity locally where I can donate artworks and some of my books with an original drawing from the story enclosed. I might put a couple of the Eucalyptus leaf imprinted pages with interspersed drawings/paintings in a book form…especially the Fairy Book. I wonder if I need to make up a story to go along with the drawings or just let people make up their own as they turn the pages.

For now it is either do more writing or find a movie and a glass of wine.

Til later…