Gatherings in Thoughts and Words

For the Tasmanian Basket Gathering ending this weekend.

I bought this small stitched textile, yellow with three Easter-colored bands, to use in the Gathering Book. And since they were meeting this weekend, i pulled it forward and tried to work on it. The colors put me off, my graphite drawing of plant materials they could be using put me off, my stitching put me off, but I added it anyway. I like being with them in spirit when they gather to make baskets and stitch.

Then earlier this week another philosophical consideration occurred to me. It made me snort with its truthfulness.

Anyway with the stitching of cloth and paper, I realized how much I miss doing work like these in another book…..

And speaking of stitching, this is the poem I took to the Poetry reading this week.


End of a Long Thread          S. Webster


One end of a long thread struggles its way

through my needle and is dragged down

past its own tail to have a spit-filled knot

tied at the bottom.


Holding together two pieces of cloth,

or both sides of a tear, I pierce them

coming up from behind.

Then back down and through

a short distance away.


In the up and down, out and in,

I find a rhythm, let my mind wander

to all the tears I never mended,

and pieces I should have held together.


Yesterday while looking for something else, I found this unfinished little journal that I taught in Australia several years ago. It had to do with marking our personal explorations on the pages and on a complex fold map. The map had sixteen spaces on each side and folded down to fit in the back of the leather journal. I miss the kind of self-exploration that my students were willing to dig into. I miss my own, but think it is more in the writing of poems and short stories now. But this book does call to be handled and drawn into.

As you turn each page over, there is a type of code to remind you of what used to be. All that is left is the fragment that may or may not let you recall. Like the waters that were drunk from the River Lethe in Greek mythology, time causes forgetfulness. And I really like this book. To mark the pages in some way and then fold it over to be wrapped and tied and held makes us think about the comfort taken in just those actions.

There are so many blank pages left to fill and I don’t think it should be left that way….so I am going to thread a needle today and get on with what needs to be remembered.

Til later…..

A Good Week for Talking

This is a paper bowl that a friend, Mary Crehan made several years ago. I keep her tag on it and it sits in a drawer to my right with a couple of rusty bits from Australia tucked inside. We became fast friends when we met several years ago and I picked her (an unknown) to room with on a trip to Lake Mungo. I liked that she came from England and no one knew anything about her. She could have been a much less fun person to room with, but was so much fun to be around. We laughed and talked about anything and everything.  Mary came back over to Australia other times to have more adventures with me and a couple that made sure we had transport to good times in Queensland, New Zealand and beyond. So much laughing. So many good memories. When we were getting on separate planes to head home from New Zealand, we could not bring ourselves to say goodbye. She simply said, “Sandy, our problem is we did not meet soon enough.” She was eighty years old at the time. Here is a piece I keep framed in my den of her and my adventures at Lake Mungo. It was made from a hunk of cardboard that was at a sand hill for people to slide down to the bottom. What a simple pleasure in the middle of the Outback.

Well, we did exchange emails and Christmas cards, and over time that stopped. I assumed she was much older now and maybe infirmed or worse, so clung harder to the memories and the pieces I saved because of her. Then the other day out of the blue she sends me a short email wondering what I have been up to because she is now teaching a papermaking class at Ipswitch Institute. She’s 88 and still cracks me up. Naturally, I had to write back all that I was doing at just short of 80. Mary is now, as she was before, my inspiration to stay upright and busy and most of all, happy. I wish everyone a Mary in their lives.

I finally finished fussing in the front entry. While glancing up in my closet on a trek that gives me 250 steps total if I walk into every room and return to the starting point, I saw these twin kantha-stitched bed spreads that I bought at an import store in Asheville. I just could not part with them because they seemed so useful for someday. So I moved the black bench from the porch to opposite the other bench at the front entry, undid the mud cloth to put back where I found it, and ended up with this. I am now through with it and as soon as warmer weather comes will be having wine with neighbors walking by.

Spring is trying to get a foothold here. My back yard is now filled in with mulch and a lovely new red bud tree that has branches spreading out on opposite sides. Perfect for blocking a bit of the view into a neighbor’s porch.

My dogwood is also just starting to bloom.

And lastly, yesterday was my day to sit on a panel and discuss self-publishing. Each of the three of us had totally different approaches. A retired minister showed his books that took  a long time in writing and finding the right fit to get them published. Then myself showing and talking about my books from hand done editions to using KDP from Amazon to make sure I was leaving my words behind and available to friends and family. Then a very good self-publishing, family owned business, presenting the various ways they can help authors. I loved chatting with enthusiastic writers from such varied backgrounds….a man who has restaurants in Sicely and New York where the Mafia eats. He wanted to know what I thought of his book’s cover. I said it was a bit disconcerting…a woman’s head with three bare legs curved around it. He educated me by letting me know they were Sicilian symbols. I liked watching him, black suit just a bit snug around the middle, black patent leather loafers that tapered down to the floor and an old-fashioned briefcase with heavy metal latches. Another writer was enrolling herself into a watercolor class so she could do her own illustrations like I do. Her children’s book is already written and waiting. Others were concerned about lawsuits if unpleasant relatives recognized themselves in autobiographies. And if an author can use a picture of themselves on the back cover when someone else took the picture. The answer there is, no, not without permission in writing from the one who took the photo.

Anyway, I enjoyed the four hours of presenting and answering questions.

My laundry and grocery shopping are finished. Now for a bit of lunch and then getting stuck into a book on loan from a neighbor.

Til later…..




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….