A Stay in the Hospital

A week ago today I was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia/bronchitis/whatever resulting in an elevated heart rate. My doctor and close friend spent the day here with me and then made the decision to take me to the hospital. I am now home as of Wednesday and recovering with medications that make food taste terrible.  But one of my first meals was this shoe-leather chicken with beans and rice. I loved the canned green beans and swore I would now be buying canned beans! I will see how that goes when I actually am faced with pulling them off the shelf!

The staff at the hospital was superb. I even got to work out in their gym before being released.

I have never had such supportive neighbors as I do here. Flowers, cards, and rides back home.

The one thing I wanted to do more than anything when I got home was vacuum. So I did it three times that first day. Such a good feeling to suck up cat hair! I am sleeping much better at home without all the constant interruptions of tests. My doctor stopped by yesterday to listen for shortness of breath. I am fine. She says to listen to my body and enjoy my happy hour. But the wine tastes like it has gone off, so may try gin and tonic.

Anyway, I am fine. And having a good lunch.

Tomorrow I might get back to drawing but for now will find a mindless movie on the TV and sit with my cats.

Til later…

Going Out With Friends/Wondering What Happened to Good Craft

We went to the opening of The Elf School. I was hoping to see some good art/craft. The best part is that the owner of this place is offering free housing and studio space for artists. A very generous thing to do. I hope some of those displaying their work there will consider the offer and work at improving on what they are making. Does that sound harsh? Yes it does.

Years ago when I was involved with the Standards Committee for the Southern Highlands Guild, almost all who applied were interested in putting work out there with a high standard of quality, work they were proud to have their name on. We studied others work to see what made it so refined, so distinctive, so worth purchasing….and then we got to work making ours better. We did not take workshops to copy the instructors’ work. We did not just crank out product to have something to sell. We worked very hard to make our pieces meet not only the standards set by the craft guild, but having to meet a standard we set for ourselves. I think maybe we have lowered our expectations too much. And maybe we should make an effort to get to high end galleries, like Penland, Arrowmont, and several in Asheville like Blue Spiral, Grovewood Gallery (not the gift gallery attached to the Inn). Good quality is out there and really needs to be sought out and aspired to. BUT if your audience is within a smaller crowd like church benefits, local craft fairs, etc., then maybe a lower expectation is okay for the maker, but the buyers might just be expecting better and willing to pay for it.

So off for an old fashioned, which it turns out is one of the few drinks that wants to muddle all the fruits added. After a few sips, this one seemed passable. We had to settle for substitutes in the making because the owner seemed to forget it was Saturday and let his inventory slip to the point of amusement.

And directly across the road, this caught my eye. Something about that boat getting there early when told to “come”.

And then here at home. I have come down with allergies to all that is floating in this thick hot air.  Nights of coughing and sniffling. Not enough sleep and no energy. So I sit and paint wildflowers in my six way book. There are twenty-one blank pages left in this section which is only one of six books in one. The good news is that thirty-two have been completed. The book opposite this one should be mushrooms and funguses.

I need to keep at it so when I am gone, the kids can have a good look at what an old mother spent her time on.

Still fluffing my nest here. Now this bird cage sits on the pile of rocks and lights.

My framer finished off the white line print using Australian soil watercolors. Then she cut the glass and put one of my last stitched woodblock prints together for me.

And this photo out my front door and looking over the roof tops seems like something from a story book.

Not much else new…still writing…still drawing….still fitting into my new space…still enjoying the company of old men and my neighbors…and the last few days just being still….

Til later…

Eighty Years Old

A gorgeous lime cake was brought in early morning with the guys. Delicious! Then some very funny cards.

Good advice.

Some gifts of fudge, house plant, note book set, plant for out near the newly installed pergola, wind chimes, and more. A nice transition into the eighties. I hadn’t had a birthday cake with candles since my kids were little! Amy had two Ursula LeGuin books sent and Patrick is going to redo my garage with new storage units and a good clean out when he comes next month.

Also two friends from Australia surprised me with a video call at 7:30 in the morning. So good to see Jude and Toni plus what they are making in the Queensland studio. Both of them into their eighties and still doing exhibitions and work to sell at basket venues. They inspire me!


The day before being eighty my pergola was put in place.

It is very hot this week. I am getting my steps in by following the route of 250 steps through the air conditioned house. Boring but I am moving!

The cats just needed each other the other day.

And the morning trip to the gym followed by the walk back to tai chi.

And day before yesterday I lost my wallpaper picture on my computer. I can always dig through old Australia trips and find the one I misplaced, but decided maybe it was time to freshen the look when my computer comes on. It took over two hours to finally settle on something. This was a close up of the Eucalyptus leaves made from pages of Robert Hughes’ book, Fatal Shore. The piece I made these for was my last accepted entry to South Australia Museum’s Waterhouse Natural History Exhibition. All the leaves were colored with watercolors I made from Australian soils and had the edges burned to show the fragility and fatality of climate change in Australia. All the leaves were swept into a dust bin to complete my entry.  Most were given to friends down under and many put in favorite places as a going away gift to the land I was leaving behind.

So, what I have learned from turning eighty.

I am older, but not too terribly old.

I can do what I want with the time I have, just do it a bit slower.

I can say pretty much whatever I think is worth saying out loud, whether someone is listening or not.

I can cook some scrambled eggs with spinach and cheese, and call it a good meal.

I can drink wine at the neighbor’s, and think it is better than the same wine drunk alone at my house.

I can write words that my fellow poets think are amazing, and yet might get a shrug from others.

I have learned to ignore the shruggers, and expect nothing more.

I am comfortable in my skin, my shoes, my clothes, and not comfortable around some people.


Thank all of you for kind birthday wishes and encouragement to keep going.


So that is about all from here this time.

Til later….




Back to Sketchbooks and Reality

Going back and forth to the gym for tai chi it was great to see they were letting the field grow back up. It did not last long…now it is mowed to bale up.

Waiting by a restaurant the other evening this caught my eye.  A place to pray in Hayesville.

I made a couple of books to save labels in this past week.

The one on the left is for a young friend who has said I will be invited to her next all girls party. I will be picked up and delivered home. Thoughtful of those girls. It also has the instructions for peeling labels inside the front cover. The one on the right is my latest, number 15, of what my kids call “alcohol consumption books”. They started in 2000 and have continued since…peel the label, attach to page, write what I thought of the alcohol and the company I shared it with. No label should be repeated and to be honest, some of the company should not be repeated…at the discretion and experience of the book keeper.

Another page in Philosophical Considerations

And speaking of books, I finally paid attention to my six way opening book today and got back to painting in the wildflowers section. I am thinking the one opposite should be ferns and grasses and fungi. There are soooo many pages in each section!!

I am using one of those handy stones to hold the pages open to photograph. The first thing I learned was that I need to do this more often!

Trout Lily

Rattlesnake Plantain and Chestnut

Fire Pink

This past week I wrote another short story.  A bit of a grim tale, but once thought about, I couldn’t keep the two characters quiet about who and what they are.

I am now back to another one I started about a woman starting a new life in a new place. It is not autobiographical. I keep myself out of these character’s business and lives. They simply need to be watched, listened to, recorded, and left alone.

My poetry is more autobiographical. Here is the one I will read this coming week.


The Smell of Rosemary

S. Webster


When nothing is left but the smell of rosemary,

I can forget about a meal gone wrong

and the guests too willing to tell me why.


Just clear the table and my mind.

Wash the dishes that will be put away

on shelves to wait for my next dinner party.


Then shut the cupboard with the same

not-so-gentle nudge as the front door

was closed less than an hour ago.


Pouring a second glass of cabernet,

I sit with the smell of rosemary

and thoughts of dining alone.


Tomorrow the pergola will be constructed and put in place. I love the smells and sounds of building.

And Tuesday is a big day. The boys I have coffee with on the corner reminded me that I was in the last week of not being eighty. I thought I had another week to get used to being the official number for “old”. Not so. Now it is just a couple days. I hate being told that it is just a number. I also hate being told it is just all about attitude. No, it’s not! I am about to be fucking old! And I would have realized it if I had looked in the mirror to see more than whether my eyeliner was crooked! I think after Tuesday, I am just going to let it be crooked! I have the excuse of “oldness”.

But I have to be honest here, the women in my area, down here in Riverwalk, are also up there in years. Some well into their eighties. They are setting a good example for me. I don’t remember ever having too many setting a good example for me. I just always filled in my own blanks.

Someone recently told me, “But look at all the places you have been and the things you have done!”  That really made me feel like I was at the exit door!

I will close this soon and go have a single malt. But first I found the following while sorting out three new short stories and twenty new poems for my next book.


Australia Longing

S. Webster

“What is it that causes this sudden sadness, or longing, or need? This time it is a recipe on the back of the Tasmanian Basketmakers Newsletter. Anna Lizotte’s family recipe for Tomato Spice Cake. How can “tomato” and “cake” be in the same context? And then it happens.

I miss Australia right now. At this very minute I want to be there. How do I care for this longing? Why is it so fierce? I can smell the soil, feel the air on my skin. I can taste it. Will it be like this later when I am too old to return? My eyes fill with tears at the thought of not being there. Why does it matter so much? Two glasses of wine that weren’t even Australian. What triggers these emotions?

It is the longing thing – that longing that we have no control over. It just comes sneaking in and takes hold. No words can explain it. My husband glances over and then away – no words are best. I look ridiculous or nuts right now. And I feel bereft. “Bereft” – that is the perfect word, and I am slightly better now I’ve defined it. I think it happens when too many memories of times in Australia pour into my consciousness and push everything else away. Only Australia is there – the people, the land, the tastes, the smells – the longing.”


I had to read about “Longing” in my graduate work about stepping over the threshold of the familiar, knowing where you belong. Much as I love Australia, I belong here. Here where other old ladies are setting examples for me, where my things of the familiar reside, where my mirror is.

Next week I will have a picture of the pergola in place.

Oh yes, one more funny age-reminder thing happened. Yesterday a thick envelope came from a neighbor and friend I have had since our kids were little. She wanted me to autograph a copy of Scrabble she bought for a grandchild. Her son asked her to ask me to do it. His little boy likes animals and was intrigued with the foreign animals in the story. Her son remembers me always inviting his chubby little self into my kitchen to lick the beaters when making cakes or cookies. It is so tempting to shove in some batter-laden beaters for this little boy’s father to lick on, as he reads to his son.

Okay, gotta go…..

Til later……when I am eighty!